Lured Between Lines

Wednesday, July 15, 2020.  Recently, clearing clutter, I stumbled on a handwritten poem clearly written back in my Old Normal: mornings wandering through poems on WordPress, evenings lost in yet another jigsaw puzzle – both meditative practices, both prone to spark poems. Usually such poems go quickly into the computer; some connect to photos I’ve taken (or decide to take after writing); and some of those arrive here.

I’ve not posted in a while. Life got very complicated, and will continue in that vein for a while. My son was taken to ER in Minnesota (where he’s lived a couple of years) and ended up having brain surgery: glioblastoma stage 4. Devastating. Since, I’ve been to Minnesota, packed up my son and his things, and brought him here for what lifespan remains.

I am bit by bit turning back to meditative time-for-me (which benefits everyone under this roof!) and this poem has me blogging again. This collage merges imagery from the referenced posts with my own photo of lines in the sky.

These poems are well worth reading (again, if you already follow the poets):

Robert Okaji’s Dry Well @ https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/59487473/posts/10774

Ken Gierke’s Deer Enclosure @ https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/66499778/posts/23176

 

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Odd Hours, Odd Moments

May 9, 2020.  COVID-19 makes for odd times, the new normal ever evolving.  I feel my sense of time (days, hours) slipping further and further from the forefront of thoughts and actions.  I’ve begun putting routine tasks on my calendar, but then I forget to open it, and oops!  Two days late dosing the pets with monthly heart-worm preventive.   This poem was written in those hours that challenge my dating the page:  is it still yesterday or already tomorrow?  I had great fun creating the collage, though difficult to choose which of the 40 photos taken of our first 2020 echinopsis cactus bloom.  So many petals, so many angles, so intriguing to steadily observe, wishing I could slip between  petals for a snooze.     

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What Lands In My Lap + Book Review

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.

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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

 

Summoning Sleep Angels

February 14, 2020:  Insomnia.  Some nights prove unsleepable.   As though I’m being kept awake by invisible energies, wearing down my cognitive defenses that I might receive some message, some vibration from the Universe.  I often happily honor such wee hours … but when the coming day demands I be alert reasonably early … well, then I summon the Sleep Angels.

 

No mistaking the effectiveness of repetitive motion, in a dark room, with a cat purring.  I’ve collaged my trusty glider with an angel photographed 3 years back (knew I would want that image down the line!)

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Staff Of Light

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

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Bloom Watch

December 16, 2019.  We’ve just experienced the last 2019 full moon cycle, and I’m now experiencing my first Dracaena bloom watch.  You may know Dracaena by her common name – corn plant.  She’s a popular houseplant, needing little maintenance, little light, asking only that you periodically cut her back and replant the cuttings.  My back porch is full of her long, floppy, dark green leaves.  I received a cutting from a corn plant my Aunt Mary Beth left behind in 1990, taken by my sister for her office, divided multiple times. The single stalk I took in (roughly 10 years ago) has evolved to five plants in three large pots.  In all that time, I never knew it could BLOOM!  A little over a week ago, we woke to find one of the five had sprouted a long bloom stalk overnight.

Fascinated, I went googling to find my plant’s real name is Dracaena Fragranz Massangeana and she does occasionally bloom – a powerful fragrance and a blooming cycle of 3-7 days.  I’m still on watch as Dracaena begins Day 9, with well over half her buds yet to open.  Though moon phase was not mentioned as catalyst for blooming, I find Dracaena blooming along with the final 2019 full moon intriguing.  The poem below emerged piecemeal.   The first image is a collage of Dracaena and Moon – the 2nd is a series of photos showing (1) full bloom stalk, (2) a bloom amid unopened buds (with the prior night’s spent bloom clutching a gem of sap), and (3) bud opening.

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Green Jays Stage

December 6, 2019.  We returned to our haunts near Rio Grande City the week of Thanksgiving.  One very good birding location is Salineno World Birding Center located on the Rio Grande River and thus in danger.  The current expectation is a wide caliche roadway between river and birding, nothing to spoil the birding center so long as the birds aren’t repulsed by construction.  (But there are those insisting we need a continuous WALL …)  If anywhere near Salineno in the November-March months, this place is worth the search.  (The birds go elsewhere to breed summer/fall.)

I’ve been thinning and tweaking photos since we got back, looking for a green jay image that captures their playful energy.  Today, I encountered a poetry form that so fits the experience of watching green jays – birds flapping around noisily, people holding still quietly.  I don’t think I’ve seen a puente poem before, and this is certainly the first one I’ve written.  Thanks go to Ken Gierke @ https://rivrvlogr.com/2019/12/06/finding-direction-puente/ for stirring my creativity.  The puente form puts two perspectives together with a single common thread, and I knew immediately which photos to collage together to show the two “sides” of Salineno: birds on the far side of a large Mesquite growing laterally; birders a few yards away on the entrance side.

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Monarchs Rule The Yard

October 19, 2019.  Monarchs have begun appearing among our blue mist blooms … any day now we expect a large number to swoop through on their way South.  This is an annual delight, but now comes with a complication named Brie.  She’s spending prime outdoor hours indoors – unless I’m available to go intervene on behalf of the Monarchs.  Monarchs seem quiet swift in rising if a cat appears.  But.  Brie is under restrictions!  I found her huddled on the kitchen counter with bananas, clearly pouting.

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Beckoned

October 3, 2019.   Had a relaxed nap this afternoon in my zero-gravity recliner – recently moved into the living room to increase wiggle space in the den.  When I woke, I was staring at two images blurring together, becoming one big tug on my imagination – a waking dream.  I lay back awhile exploring possibilities, then got up and did the obvious next thing:  I wrote a poem.

The oil painting (perhaps by my grandmother) is of Texas bluebonnets along a country road, near Cuero, Texas.  The cat is one of many feline figures decorating various surfaces in my home.  Positioning cat within the frame was not entirely imagination – my angle looking upward (glasses nowhere near) contributed.  I’ve reconstructed what I “saw” as collage.

Tomorrow I plan a repeat nap, same space.  Who knows what I’ll see?

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Haverhill Solo Hours

September 26, 2019.  Periodically, I get lonesome for times, places past.  One such evening, I dug out this poem about just such evenings … and went to work on a collage to capture the primary elements of mini-trampoline, best-ever rocker, parquet floor.  I added a dream catcher to symbolize the only way I can go back.  Haverhill is an extension of West Palm Beach, Florida – where my first husband and I built the house (1970-1973) – where my kids came to be (1974 and 1977) – where the kids and I continued to live after Dad departed in 1979, up until I brought the kids to my origins in Texas (1986).  If I could’ve figured a way to bring that house along to Texas, I would be rocking in it still!

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