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.)
January 17, 2020. As I open mentally and emotionally to the uncertainty of 2020 … this poem honors an experience way, way back in 1983 working for IBM in Boca Raton, FL … I became the lucky alternate when the guy chosen to attend a Santa Monica 4-week class could not go. The class was Modern Engineering, and its primary purpose was to encourage life-long learning. We were blessed with UCLA professors delivering all sorts of engineering specifics I had no immediate use for. But the experience was indeed mind-opening. Gone was my notion that “engineers” were a super breed. They were mathematicians, like me, theirs a specialized focus.
The Mobius band given on completion has been my reminder since that life IS continuous learning, that whatever is occurring right now is both temporary and influential on what follows … everything changing all the time. I look to the Mobius band as a “walking stick” to steady me through unorientable uncertainty along the path of 2020.
(A Möbius strip, band, or loop, also spelled Mobius or Moebius, is a surface with only one side and only one boundary. The Möbius strip has the mathematical property of being unorientable.)
April 14, 2019. Recently I had the opportunity to sit in silence by a campfire, letting the dancing flames erase just about every thought … then present a face smiling at me from a burning log. Not a laughing grin … a serene smile. Apart from the added circle, this image is what my phone captured. The next morning I stared again at the face, recalling how it had indeed smiled all the way to sudden collapse. The haiku here is the result of multiple revisits to figure out just what message to take from that smile.
Maybe you will see a different message.
August 27, 2017. Hurricane Harvey has come to visit Texas, moving inland to squat over family land near Cuero. My mind races back to youthful times when the Guadalupe River overflowed and those who lived out in the country could not get to town for days and days. I worry for relatives still on the family land, as well as relatives in Houston. Houston, already flooded, is the projected target for Harvey’s meander away from Cuero.
Within Harvey’s outer rain bands (5+ inches measly compared to up-to-40 inches predicted for Houston), I mourn the uprooted live oak next door and cringe as images of flooded Houston roadways pour across my computer screen. Houston is the 4th largest city in the U.S. To evacuate that many people is next-to-impossible. Last time they tried (Hurricane Rita) more people died on the jammed roadways than in the city behind them. I am oddly sympathetic with Houston’s mayor, now taking all sorts of flack for his earlier direction to hunker down vs. evacuate. He saw only two imperfect options. Could there have been other choices? Houston is a lesson-occurring – conclusions still beyond view.
With all this stirring my mind, I uncovered this 2013 poem in a pile on my desk. A spark of synchronicity! The image is from recent camping near Cloudcroft NM.
June 16, 2017. Big changes often involve multiple facets fitting together. Such was our decision to go from a small travel trailer to a larger one. Not just the trailer changes. The tow vehicle must also change. And after months of planning, selecting, and financing our dream – one last essential piece about did me in: something called a weight distribution hitch that serves to help Blackie (truck) and Silvie (trailer) move smoothly together. Using friction to control sway – fascinating. A variety to choose from, but a strong preference for the kind we had with the small trailer (only bigger). Precise measurements of the trailer still sitting on the dealer’s lot an hour’s drive South proved elusive, highly frustrating in ordering the new hitch. A few cross words flew between the two of us piecing together our bits of understanding (and not!) of hitches and measurements … but ultimately all came together. And in the process, the weight distribution hitch emerged as symbol. Notice those chains. Ties that bind.
We’ll be rolling through Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, and New Mexico shortly. Trusting our hitch!
March 23, 2017. We recently returned to Rancho Lomitas in lower Texas near the Rio Grande border – an area with birds and plants that just don’t come further north. When there last fall, we took a photo of what we thought to be peyote growing along the roadside. To everyone’s surprise, the proprietors pointed out the distinctions between peyote and our picture of a star cactus – an endangered cactus that Rancho Lomitas is helping propagate in their nursery but had never seen growing natively on the ranch. Wow! This revelation came minutes before our departure, no time to revisit the star for more (better) pictures.
On this return trip, a high priority was finding that star cactus! Oh, did we look and look and look – walking slowly, eyes trained on roadside edge, up and down the stretch of road where the tiny star “had to be”. Well, maybe. Hours of looking yielded no star, but did prompt a poem. Afterward, a seasoned resident at Rancho Lomitas comforted us with the comment that rabbits do eat such (indeed the nursery samples are in wire cages) which leaves me eager to return again to photograph bunnies for an update to this collage. (Image note: fingers show a peyote the same size as the elusive star – star enlarged in center of collage – the two look alike to novice eyes.)
February 7, 2017. Still weeks till Spring’s official arrival. But given three definitive signs arriving in the span of mere hours, I am celebrating the distinct possibility that hard freezes are behind us.
The image below is a very startled young possum cowering on a shelf beneath the pet feeder after the Labrador and I discovered him – crouched in the food bowl munching happily, no doubt proud of his discovery of “easy” feeding – a perspective shattered by barking, lunging dog and camera flashes in the face. (Too dark to see the visiting cat but I know well the source of those howls. The robins didn’t stick around to pose.)
December 7, 2016. The world swirls with opinions, oppositions, petitions, all manner of unpleasant realities. I wrote this poem the morning after the November US election and set it aside till I could think more clearly. I keep humming to myself the last line of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “The Messenger” – I just want to see what’s next. Then and still, the view is murky.
November 28, 2016. We escaped just before Thanksgiving to the Rio Grande Valley, to look for green jays – a bird that doesn’t come much further north than that southern tip of Texas. We’d never seen one! Binoculars and cameras in tow, off we went. We stayed at Rancho Lomitas (http://www.rancholomitas.com/) – a native plant nursery with RV spots tucked here and there. Thanks to a long-term RV resident who feeds the birds, green jays were ever-present if not exactly sitting still for portraits.
On a tour of the nursery, I learned a new word – ramadara – that immediately began tickling the poetic lobes of my brain. This image is a collage of three separate jay photos which gives a sense of the thorn scrub they inhabit and their gregarious nature.
October 30, 2016. Over the past week, through all sorts of stress and disruption, I have been watching a morning glory vine protruding from a water bottle – sitting on my front porch to catch sunlight, I see it going in and out. That vine has kept me sane!
I guess the plant had to adapt, learn how to bloom in a bottle, as the first 3 buds to mature did not quite make it before dropping off. Then the fourth (pictured) and a fifth succeeded with flourish. Hoorah!