June 10, 2021. Today brought closure to stress related to our 500-year-old live oak – steadily declining the past ten years in spite of treatment for oak wilt disease. The crew came Tuesday, again Wednesday, again this morning to bring down the last of the five trunks growing from a common base. Agile men scrambled up, up into the branches with chain saws and ropes. Sections of limbs were lassoed, then cut free to swing downward at calculated angles that precluded damage to yaupons growing up and through live oak, as well as fence and crew members. An amazing display of skills and teamwork!
They arrived this morning just as I began a zoom session focused on becoming a peace agent, letting the St. Francis Prayer guide current life – my current thoughts dominated by chain saws. Just as the zoom concluded, the crew pulled away, leaving only the stump and my swirl of memories of the former tree: first glimpse in 1986 while shopping for a house in this area; my teenage son casually perched on one of the overhanging limbs calling down “Hey, Mom!”; prolific bird visitations (even one raven); cat chasing squirrel among the branches (squirrel retreating on underside of branch beneath confused cat); and many private conversations between me and tree.
Relieved that the inevitable is now behind us – tomorrow we begin restoring yard art and flowerpots moved out of the crew’s way – including statues of Buddha and St. Francis. A few flower pots will be placed on trunk pedestals – still huggable.
April 6, 2021. This poem keeps teasing me to “do something” – perhaps posting it will stimulate clarity. It’s a product of a rich writing session with Ali Grimshaw (flashlight batteries – Ali Grimshaw) back in March – triggered by the Kim Stafford poem Ali shared and by group energies – then reinforced a couple of days later reading this quote from Pablo Casals: “It takes courage to listen to your own goodness and act on it. Do we dare to be ourselves?”
I’ll dare to share my angst with growing tensions in my state, in my country. I see no clear path toward meeting in the middle, given so many choose “loyalty to cause” over any tiny concession. But I can smile at those standing in line for vaccinations, neighbors in their front yards, people in the grocery store – not knowing which side they are on but recognizing we are all in the same mess. A wild card is an unknown or unpredictable factor influencing outcome. I can hope some good ones come into play. I can hope I recognize chances to be a wild card in personal encounters. And I can embrace inner wild card appearances that nurture my own understanding.
Image is my 2021 focus mandala (addendum to 2020 Uncertainty mandala).
March 30, 2021. I turn to a labyrinth to focus inward – the image here is my frequent walking meditation choice as getting there involves minimal traffic and usually I have it to myself (my preference, although there are gifts in walking a labyrinth with a group.) Since discovering labyrinths back in 1999, they have become my visual metaphor for “life’s path”. In both, the goal is “centered” where pestering perplexities sort of make sense and a calm settles in, acceptance of conditions and recognition that conditions almost surely equal opportunity, even if details are elusive. An alternative to walking a labyrinth, I also turn to finger labyrinths – small enough to fit in a lap, circuits traced with finger tip while eyes remain closed.
Bothered ongoing through the past year about divisiveness in attitudes toward politics, COVID precautions, and what my role might be in the midst of what our country is going through, I recently took my befuddlement to the labyrinth. Stepping into the path, I thought of finger labyrinths I’m creating for a group experience in August, puzzling how to add a tactile confirmation of having reached center (to ease the urge to open eyes to check!) This poem emerged as I walked toward labyrinth center curious: How will I know on my life path when I’ve reached center?
If you count life center as mid-range in years lived, I am surely way past center. But if life center is the point of centered awareness of why I exist at all … well, I need to keep going.
March 09, 2021. For several years, our yard has been graced by a delightful pink flamingo patiently staying wherever last placed, yet seldom immobile – true to her design, she swirled left, right with even minute breeze and somehow that triggered the bobbing of head which always seemed to me a nod of acceptance. I took that as a model. And thus in February this poem wrote itself in my head while I stood transfixed by the rhythmic-yet-unpredictable sways.
I’m posting today to honor the flamingo, who sadly had a different sort of appeal to our new dog Ramble, still puppy-enough to want to chew just about anything. Ramble is forgiven. Flamingo is missed. I’ve collaged seasonal views of the flamingo – last spring amid the pond irises and a couple of weeks ago in the snow.
January 29, 2021. Yesterday’s nudges from full moon and fresh rosemary blooms to memories of January 1990 collectively took me into one of my indulgences in image-isolation, a game of sorts, a way to release creative urges. The rosemary plant (associated with remembrance) caught my eye while I was in the back yard watching my husband plant a Texas redbud tree. A bit like memories catch our attention in the midst of some seemingly unrelated activity. This post honors the two mother figures who shaped me: my birth mother, and her sister with whom I lived in the 8th grade and summers thereafter until college years. First Aunt Mary Beth and then Mother died in January 1990 – both remain within me, blooming forth at times both unexpected and (like yesterday) predictable.
April 16, 2020. I saw the alert of an unusual alignment of the moon with respect to Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter. Wee hours of the morning, as moon is waning thus rising later, later each night. Clouds precluded photos the first two tries, but this morning at 3:00am the skies were clear. Whoopee! Then ooops … come back in an hour after the moon is above the trees. Still, I took one cluttered shot. (I did go back an hour later for uncluttered pics. None nearly as interesting, though.)
March 26, 2020. We humans do well to pay attention to wisdom beyond our own, channeled perhaps, direct perhaps, intuited probably. Some questioning (especially of the disparate advice regarding the COVID-19 influence) is inevitable.
Snow Sez is one of my favorite comics, and I have been distressed at his absence this past week. He was just gathering wisdom, it seems … delivered today. I took it immediately to my resident “seer” and she gave a nod. (But note: she continues cleaning her paws in traditional feline fastidious ways.)
(My mother would be 102 today … I sense her nudging me to lighten up.)
February 5, 2020. Sometimes it’s good to excuse ourselves from current events and commune on a more spiritual level with our surroundings.
Finally I’m able to stand between my eclectic shaman and my backyard fountain – mindful of energy moving around and within – triggered by the brilliant turquoise of fountain replicated on a limb trimmed from our Texas Persimmon tree. To replace the shaman’s original staff weathered away, I began late last summer working the branch, sanding – but somehow the painting stayed delayed. Now it has all come together! (I’ve put the two closer together via collage.)
Shaman: Made to order about 10 years ago, combining characteristics of Texas rock-art shaman figures with their Arizona kin – 3’9″ boosted higher by stump
Fountain: Standard variety, central feature in our backyard “wheel garden” – attracting many winged visitors – 3’9″ high
August 30, 2019. Summer travels included a week in the National Forest near Lake City, Colorado. Beautiful country – in spite of recent destructive avalanches (record snowfalls continued into June) – and in spite of beetle demise of once-lush Spruce. Spruce is “old news” there, avalanches and floods garnering all the attention. For most. My eyes kept going to the Spruce. No longer alive, yet holding form through assaults of weather, marmots, bears, moose. Like a feather: you can mess with it, but it goes back to original form.
Big grey “feathers” were everywhere, mostly in multiples that made capturing the form with camera difficult. Might be time to work on my sketching skills! One solo Spruce stood at road’s edge, and I managed to get there in sufficient light and zero traffic on departure morning. Took a while to isolate enlarged branch from background, but: a labor of love.