August 30, 2020. My caregiver role now over, I shift back into prior norms. With an added daily walk. Suggested for a long time by my husband as a good idea, I am now following the example of my departed son. This collage reflects images along the route that likely caught his eye.
Includes Book Review: Dancing In The Narrows by Anna Penenberg
May 1, 2020: The past six weeks have been a continuing transformation of “normal”. Settling into new stay-home isolation, two challenges arrived simultaneously: a beautiful but ultra-difficult 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle and a book-review request. The jigsaw image is by Sara Steele, one of my favorite modern painters, and ultimately worth the agony that prompted visions of a mini bonfire, puzzle pieces aflame. The book, by Anna Penenberg, chronicles a single mother’s heartaches and strengths as she and her daughter (stricken with a debilitating illness later diagnosed as Lyme Disease) are propelled through one medical intervention after another, hopes rising and falling. I welcomed this book to better understand Lyme Disease.
Certainly I had ample time to work this puzzle and review this book. They made interesting “lap” companions! The puzzle flowers took me virtually out-of-house, and the book took me out-of-now back to years as a single mother. The timing of reading this book is notable. A book about rising to meet uncertainties, about survival through adapting – along with a world-wide call to face uncertainty, to adapt.
I’ve collaged together the imagery, as these two have become interwoven symbols of my pandemic stay-at-home experience. I’m breaking usual form with this post to include the book review, below. You can pre-order now on Amazon; availability is July 2020.
Dancing In The Narrows by Anna Penenberg (She Writes Press, July 2020)
This is a true tale of resilience facing uncertainty. Lyme disease is the villain. Mother Anna Penenberg and daughter Dana are each victims, though only the daughter harbors Lyme. Both are also heroines. Though many Lyme specifics are covered, read this book for its model of perseverance against odds, against unknowns. The book is hard to put down. And when the last page turns, you will see your own challenges through a clearer lens.
~~~Woven into the struggles are spiritual connections to nature, labyrinths, and dance. Author Anna Penenberg studied dance in college to become a therapist using bodily motion to heal. Exploring treatments takes mother and daughter on several road trips, each a mix of serious business with natural and spiritual encounters. Like the sunset viewing of the Grand Canyon while pelted by hail, doubling over in laughter, needed relief. “Everything bothered Dana. When pain overwhelmed her ability to be civil, we drove in silence.”
~~~The Narrows, a slot canyon in Zion National Park, is a 16-mile stretch of the Virgin River where tall canyon walls come closer and closer together. On a rare week away from Dana, Anna returns to this place during a rainy season, and hikers must stop short of her desired point. She is allowed 10 minutes on her own, a little beyond the group. She splashes along a sandbar, hugging the cliff, finding herself “not broken.” The book is named for this pivot point.
~~~The phrase “She will turn a corner” captures the essence of years of searching for answers, “as if we were driving in a neighborhood where, if we made the right turn, we would meet the cure for Lyme disease.”
~~~As Dana begins to improve (in 2012), Anna celebrates turning sixty with a circle of women, reflecting: “I’d had the heroic job of standing by my ailing daughter day and night for years. It wasn’t a job that could be hired out. It wasn’t a job I chose. It wasn’t a job with tenure, benefits, retirement, or prestige, but it transformed me.” The illness began in 2007. In 2013 Dana could finally live on her own. “I took off the cloak of survival and stepped naked into my life.”
~~~Each chapter opens with a poignant quote. One, from Alan Watts: “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” This book has much to offer anyone (male or female) facing a challenge that defies resolution — hence, all of us facing the 2020 pandemic. This odyssey encourages survival through persistent pursuit. Protocols embraced by daughter Dana make 2020 rigorous hand-washing seem trivial.
Book Review posted on GoodReads.com: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3309921796?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1
April 29, 2020. Yesterday (another day isolating at home) included a nap, and an awakening that stirred up a poem. This is NOT a black&white image of my blue bedroom – somehow afternoon sunlight shifted perspectives right out of color ranges – for my eyes, and for the phone camera synchronistically beside me (I don’t usually nap with phone!). I’ve added an icon to depict inner spin with Uncertainty.
November 4, 2019. Recently, walking into my kitchen, my memory took a leap back to the kitchen I grew up in – the center of family activities. The table was cleared for each meal and then immediately cleared for the next activity – homework, paying bills, making a new slipcover for the old rocker. In early hours (before anyone else was supposed to be awake), Mother sat at the table drinking coffee and reading magazines. The memory that won’t let go was a rare day when Mother sat down for coffee mid-day. I was elementary-school age.
(I’m still puzzling why this memory pops up now. I lean toward synchronicity, not coincidence.)
The table (now in my sister’s home) was available to photo for this collage with a map of the Monahans area in West Texas as backdrop. (No recall of Mother’s coffee cups, though I do remember a metal coffeepot heated on stove top – just-poured coffee was surely boiling hot.)
May 27, 2019. We are gearing up for another summer of travels … to places we’ve never been before, to places we’ve been yearning to get back to … in both cases, places that might present the next Native American wooden flute (or two) for Gary’s collection. He is selective! He trusts my skills and selectivity to yield the right custom bag for each flute.
Bags pictured were made last September, for flutes acquired last summer.
March 28, 2019. Spring has announced herself with an abundance of green coming up through dried leftovers of prior green frozen to the ground. Lots to clean up in the yard! I tackled the crinum bed alongside driveway a bit at a time to avoid arthritic reaction to the necessary bending, stooping at unusual angles. This poem emerged from the meditative nature of putting face repeatedly near earth … plus it was Mother’s birthday. The following day, my email brought me the poem Earth Song – including:
Those who are dead are never gone;
The dead are not down in the earth:
They are in the trembling of the trees
Indeed, Mother was right there with me in the crinums’ upward thrust.
Crinums produce large lily-like blooms – mine are a vivid pink, prolific come June.
I’m unable to find a direct link to Earth Song, Traditional from Senegal. I received it via Panhala – to subscribe, send a blank email to:
February 12, 2019. Now and then a poem emerges in response to something I’ve read. This is one of those – from puzzling over what Robert Okaji might’ve been thinking when he wrote Window Open, Closed. Realities include Robert’s poem, listening to Alan Watts, and the imagery. Our bay tree suffered heavily in 2018’s freeze, and though now only a fraction of its former size, the image reflects its determination to keep flavoring our suppers. The photo collage includes a prior moon and prior clouds.
Read Robert’s poem here: https://robertokaji.com – click HOME and scroll down to Window Open, Closed.
Listen to Alan Watts “Let Go Of Attachment” on http://www.youtube.com.
January 13, 2019. Reflecting on my recent routine visit to the Ear-Nose-Throat doc – a remarkably pleasant space for waiting your turn – light coming through windows along the outer wall of the receptionist area – then passing through a cheerfully frosted panel into the make-yourself-comfortable area. Usually, one or two others share the wait. But this last visit got crowded.
September 24, 2018. In a reflective mood, looking forward – an energizing mix! Here’s a love poem to go along with sharing my news: partners for years (we gave each other time), Gary Kendrick and I became husband and wife on Friday – Autumnal Equinox – also 16th anniversary of meeting on Austin’s pedestrian bridge over Town Lake.
The owl in this image was purchased by my mother back in the ’80s when visiting me in Florida. This bird made of shells has been with me since Mother’s death in 1990, reminder of her wise guidance through changes. The butterfly (also from the ’80s) and the owl sit side-by-side near the front door – encouragement to go on out and embrace inevitable change.
February 26, 2018. A good friend has been holding the ashes of her cat Sally for a long, long time – unsure any of her places were long-term. That’s become clearer and clearer, and she asked if I had a place in our yard for Sally. Yes. And a place in my heart. A kinetic sculpture gifted by my friend at the time of her latest move marks the spot. Although Sally never saw the sculpture, I sense her energy and that of my friend coming together. It’s Spring, season for new flower beds. And a bed for Sally. The collage pulls the overall scene into a single frame. This post honors my friend, and Sally.