Together Now

January 24, 2021. Took a walk this afternoon with my aging and declining Labrador Buttercup.  Walking with her is a great opportunity to reflect on recent triggers, and today I paused half-way to jot down the gist of this poem.  I was triggered by today’s post from Ken Gierke whose poem Now was triggered by today’s post of Memorial by Ron. Lavalette.  My thanks to both.

Ken Gierke @ https://rivrvlogr.com/2021/01/24/now-3/

Ron. Lavalette @ https://rlavalette.wordpress.com/2021/01/24/memorial/

I Remember, Magnolia

January 16, 2021. Today has been quiet, reflective on the home front. I indulged – creating a photo collage of magnolia blossoms (from Austin’s Natural Gardener in 2016) to illustrate a poem written a short while back about an encounter from a long, long while back (eight grade!) At the time I was living with my aunt in the country 20 miles from Cuero TX – her front yard filled with a large, spreading magnolia tree. I still recall the elation high in the limbs surrounded by blooms … and moving toward one “just over there” …

Of Pick-Up Sticks And Hope

November 13, 2020. Scenes of burned forest embody both horror and hope … and present an apt metaphor for the current political scene in the U.S. Imagery here is from New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness which includes forest land that burned several years ago and promises to evolve eventually into renewed (albeit different) beauty. While there in September, many days the sky was darkened by smoke from active Arizona fires. And the news was full of Colorado and West Coast fires. Reminders that the devastation in front of us was not a one-time freak occurrence.

What can I contribute toward healing either former forest or former democracy? I offer imagery to promote hope.

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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