Nike's Psyche

An outlet for my peaceful ponderings with, perhaps, the occasional rant.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day

Treasure Collage
I was given the most wonderful surprise for Mother's Day. After church, my daughter took me on a treasure hunt for 16 "gifts," one for each year I've been a mother. She chauffeured me around in her new car and things went well until we reached the Waterfront Park in Saint Marys. The gift, which she had set out that very morning, had disappeared.

The Next Clue
Disappointed for her sake, we proceeded to the next location -- the cemetery. All that remained was a tiny scrap of wrapping paper . . . and a diminishing faith in human kind. After all, we could see how it might be hard for a child to restrain himself from ripping into a wrapped package but stealing something from a grave! Horrors!

Each of the gifts had been wrapped and marked with an "explanation" for the gift and the next clue. With the second clue in a row missing, Griffin had to resort to her cheat sheet to remember where the next gift was placed.

Fortunately, this gift was where she had placed it (and the clue had been too obscure to be followed by whoever stole the cemetery gift). The next two gifts were at our church and there we had to interrupt the hunt until 3:30 p.m. when Frank and I had finished the two-and-a-half hour class I take and he mentors each Sunday.

We started up the hunt again, successfully, but ran into problems with one of the last gifts. This gift had been placed near the entrance bridge into our subdivision. This time, the wrapping paper and clues were there but not the gift itself. An improvement . . . at least wGiftless Wrapping Papere could continue with the hunt.

The penultimate gift was still where she had left it that morning and as the final gift was in our home, it was still there as well.

A lot of work, as well as heart, went into the entire event. Griffin's efforts brought life and meaning to those oft-repeated sayings: "It's the thought that counts" and "Long walk part of gift." It will be a Mother's Day I never forget.

As for the blow up Pirates of the Caribbean swords stolen from the water front park, I hope they are being thoroughly enjoyed. On the other hand, I am kind of sad I didn't receive the "Victorian hair clips" that Griffin picked out especially for me and the book of crossword puzzles would have been nice to take along on our trip to Italy and France . . .

It does give one pause to think . . . would any of the other gifts have been taken had they been found OR were some gifts found and left in place by some caring soul who saw them as part of an adventure they weren't a part of but possessing enough imagination to relish the fact that someone had received a wonderful gift?

Friday, March 23, 2007


Zodiac by Robert Graysmith I finally took the time to see the long (nearly three hours) but fascinating movie, "Zodiac." Ever since I first started seeing the previews for this movie, I knew I wanted to see it. Why? Because in 1969, at the height of the Zodiac killings, I lived in Vallejo, California.

My memories of that era are vague (I was seven years old when the first couple was killed in Vallejo in December of 1968; 10 by the time we left California for Mississippi with the Zodiac still at large) but I've always carried around that underlying layer of fear. Living on a naval base as we did (Mare Island), we should have felt protected. But, perhaps it was the imprint of the wing walker shoe left at Lake Berryessa that raised the level of fear on the base. My strongest memory of that year, because all of the Zodiac's known attacks occurred between December of 1968 and mid-October of 1969, was of trick-or-treating with armed guards.

Wanted poster for ZodiacMy older sister, Laurie remembers having nightmares.

The main reason I really wanted to see the movie was to give me all the background that I had missed as a child. And there was so much more than I remembered. Certainly, I wasn't aware of how prolific the killer was when it came to writing the San Francisco newspapers nor how much press he craved.

But the artist's renderings of what he might have looked like are too hauntingly familiar and still send a shiver down my spine. Depsite the continued controversy of who may or may not have been the Zodiac, I still greatly enjoyed the movie and Robert Graysmith's take (thanks to his obsession) on that time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Desert Father

When I was a teenager, I purchased a print of this painting by Brueghel while visiting the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

I can no longer explain why it struck me so but I would often find myself studying it as I sat in my bedroom loft listening to Gregorian Chant. Yes, I was an odd 16-year-old.

Thirty years later, I find myself continually drawn to Desert Wisdom. During a tough period in my life a few years ago, it was the wisdom of the desert that helped see me through as I read through The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks by Benedicta Ward.

I have read The Forgotten Desert Mothers by Laura Swan more than three times, and this Lent I purchased Desert Father: A Journey in the Wilderness with Saint Anthony by James Cowan to meditate on during the season.

Cowan writes,
" The endless tales of anchorites subjecting their bodies to lack of sleep, filth, poor food, excessive fasting, loneliness, a denial of intellectual discourse, suspicion of learning and of books, suggests a lifestyle that reduces a man [or woman] to both physical and psychological pulp."

Yet no one will deny the holiness of these men and women who managed to reach a true state of apatheia in their ascesis or the multitude of wisdom that can still affect us to this very day.

It is because these jewels of wisdom are so numerous that I have decided to dedicate an entire blog to these sayings. My goal is to provide, daily, a drop of wisdom from the desert.
You can find this new blog at Wisdom of the Desert


Monday, March 05, 2007

Piggy Back

I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by any means possible, except by getting off his back.

~Leo Tolstoy

Monday, February 26, 2007

Lady Poverty

Saint Francis Marrying Poverty by Andrea Sacchi, 1633

A couple of weekends ago, I drove up to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers to take part in a day-long retreat with my fellow Georgia Franciscans. We spent a good part of the day relating our favorite tales of Saint Francis.

"Saint Francis thought that to choose to be poor is just as good as if one should marry the most beautiful girl in the world," Peter Maurin writes in his poem, We Seem to Think.

Now that I have returned to freelance work, we are back to surviving on my husband's salary for the first six months of year until our royalties start coming in during July. Yes, I could get another job or spend more time pursuing freelance work (as opposed to revising four of our books at our publisher's request), but we have chosen to be "poor" and do the things we love.

Francis and poverty is something I reflect on often. I had intended to share the following with the group that weekend, but found more joy in just recalling events from the saint's life. But, they are too good not to share.

The Lady Poverty
by Evelyn Underhill

I met her on the Umbrian hills,
Her hair unbound, her feet unshod;
As one whom secret glory fills
She walked alone with God.

I met her in the city street;
Oh, changed was all her aspect then!
With heavy eyes and weary feet
She walked, alone with men.

Francis and Christ
by Oscar Wilde

There is something so unique about Christ. Of course just as there
are false dawns before the dawn itself, and winter days so full of
sudden sunlight that they will cheat the wise crocus into
squandering its gold before its time, and make some foolish bird
call to its mate to build on barren boughs, so there were
Christians before Christ. For that we should be grateful. The
unfortunate thing is that there have been none since. I make one
exception, St. Francis of Assisi. But then God had given him at
his birth the soul of a poet, as he himself when quite young had in
mystical marriage taken poverty as his bride: and with the soul of
a poet and the body of a beggar he found the way to perfection not
difficult. He understood Christ, and so he became like him. We do
not require the Liber Conformitatum to teach us that the life of
St. Francis was the true IMITATIO CHRISTI, a poem compared to which
the book of that name is merely prose.

Indeed, that is the charm about Christ, when all is said: he is
just like a work of art. He does not really teach one anything,
but by being brought into his presence one becomes something. And
everybody is predestined to his presence. Once at least in his
life each man walks with Christ to Emmaus.

Friday, January 26, 2007

We Should Have Known . . .

. . . that our daughter would want to be an actress when she grew up.

From concerts and plays involving Beanie Babies and other stuffed animals when she was old enough to talk and sing . . .


to small parts in Camden Area Players little theatre productions like The Pied Piper . . .

pied piper

And roles, since she was five, in our annual family murder mysteries such as the part of Diana Rush in Murder at the Disco . . .

murder at the disco

To a leading role as Alice Sycamore in the Camden County High School Theatre Department's production of You Can't Take it With You.

you can't take it with you

She saw her first musical (Cats) when she was six and The Lion King on Broadway at nine. For her 16th birthday, she is going to see Rent. She breezed through being filmed with us on our Book Tours and later for the Discovery Channel like a pro. Frank and I like to imagine that they'll soon be putting a star on her dressing room door!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Global Warming

While parts of the country are blanketed under feet of snow, the South is wondering if it is actually going to experience a winter this year.

a gerbera daisy in my yard
our tulip poplar this morning
Normally by the end of January, our lawns are brown and the flowers have died back and are awaiting the breath of spring. But this year, already more than a third of the way through Winter, we have yet to experience even one day under freezing. And, while its chillier today (we're expecting a high around 60 degrees Fahrenheit), yesterday it was a warm 70.

Even my Tulip Poplar and azaleas have been fooled into thinking Spring has returned.

You can't tell me that all is right in the world. I think the below ad for the Environmental Defense Campaign says it all:


Facts about the Environmental Defense campaign
Three-quarters of all Americans accept that global warming is real, but only one-third believes that it requires immediate attention and action. These ads mark a watershed moment in the effort to stir the public’s consciousness about global warming.

In a survey conducted by pollster Whit Ayres of Ayres, McHenry and Associates, 71 percent of Americans recognized that global warming is happening and more than half attribute the problem to human activity. But while an overwhelming majority (70 percent) of people polled agree that it’s possible to reduce the effects of global warming, only three-fifths (59 percent) thought it was possible they could do something about it as individuals.

The Ad Council has created some of the most iconic media campaigns of the past century, including Smokey Bear, Vince and Larry the Crash Test Dummies, Iron Eyes Cody (the “Crying Indian”), “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk,” and campaigns on polio, AIDS and drug use.

The site,, includes lots of ways for individuals to join the fight against global warming:

  • Calculate how much global warming pollution you create
  • Get tips on getting better mileage out of your car
  • Find out why you should start changing your bulbs and how to pick the best energy efficient light
  • Learn how to neutralize your pollution through offsetting.

Monday, January 22, 2007


My fantasy novel in progress, Abaddon, now has a blog of it's own at Abaddon

Nike's Psyche will resume its original role as my personal blog.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fallen Religious Leaders

For some reason it is comforting to know that corruption is a human condition and not actually associated with spiritual "ideals." As Homer Simpson once said while flipping through the Bible, "Everyone in here is a sinner. Oh, except for that guy."

Humans inability to control their desires seems to increase in proportion to how vehemently they repudiate them. Me thinks thou dost protest too much! Or as one site recently put it, satirically, in relation to Ted Haggard, "Homophobia is gayer than enjoying show tunes."

So, the fallen run the gamut from Buddhist to Christian to Jew to Muslim . . .

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ain't it the truth!

The most alarming sign of the state of our society now is that our leaders have the courage to sacrifice the lives of young people in war but have not the courage to tell us we must be less greedy and less wasteful.

Wendell Berry
Join | List | Previous | Next | Random | Previous 5 | Next 5 | Skip Previous | Skip Next