June 12, 2022. Seven days ago, following weeks of deliberate seeking, we took two kittens from their foster home into our home. Right at 2 months old, furry purring little balls of energy! We were set on a calico (having lost our elderly calico earlier this year) and once-weaned, the younger the better to bond with us. Here in Austin, really young kittens are put in foster homes and their photos posted online. We zoomed in on “Brawny” and eventually met her and sister BusyBee. Silly names, but delightful kittens. Took another week of forms and delays before we could bring them home.
Suddenly the energy shifted. No more angst about whether we were first in line as takers. No more logistics about pick-up. A huge inhale and we were off into the naming! We took this seriously, wanting names an adult cat would identify with, names that rolled easily off our tongues.
Already off-track from weeks transferring (reducing, adapting, copying) files from old computer to new computer this naming energy swooped me further from normal. I am now a month plus behind in so many ways. But kittens were the reward for transfer drudgery, and now I look forward to returning to near-normal routines. But first: celebration of kittens with collage and poem!
May 28, 2022. I live in Texas, blessed with beautiful Spring weather and cursed with polarization on many fronts political. Among the blessings I count regularly are the extended bed of crinums alongside my driveway: thick luscious foliage (until a hard freeze sends their energies underground to wait for a warming trend) and some amazing lily blooms in shades of pink. Blooms are most prolific in May, following Spring resurgence of foliage. I’ve been out amongst the crinums often this month, camera in hand.
These last few days I’ve been in anguish over yet another indicator of growing polarization in this state, this country. Yet another school shooting not very far away, and I am again feeling inept at making any difference in the future of this state, this country, this human population of the planet. Today I turned to a meditative practice that helps me level out emotions and let-be what-is: this imperfect world. My practice is digital collaging, a time-consuming focus-demanding endeavor. I worked with recent crinum images, and this poem emerged bit by bit as blooms fit together bit by bit.
Hoping you enjoy the imagery. Hoping we find ways to encourage compromise for the good of all.
March 27, 2022. Multiple influences overlap in this poem. I created a collage to portray my vision – using found bridge image with one of my own full-moon photographs. The poem stemmed from reading Ram Dass (Walking Each Other Home) and a zooming of poets focused on aging. I am awed to have lived longer than either of my parents – whenever my departure comes, I will not feel short-changed. In the interim, each day is an opportunity to reflect (and wax poetic!)
February 25, 2022. I’m happy to no longer be as tied to “place” as when I wrote this poem during the first week after my February 2 hip replacement surgery – I am now “me” again mentally and my eyes again focus sufficiently for digital collage. Oh, what surgical meds and pain meds do to one’s psyche and vision and energy! Good to have all that flushed away! I now walk around the block daily (with my rollator of course!) but I am still sitting in my grand dad’s rocker a good bit – often with Labrador companions – each of us “placed”.
December 6, 2021. Year end/beginning is near enough to see well enough to expect 2022 delivery of still more uncertainty on multiple levels (political, social, personal). I’m back from Thanksgiving travels which stressed me on the final half day of driving: hard rains, slick roadways, stalled traffic, detours, tension … But I was also graced with driving through Waco Tx under a sky thick with clouds reflecting both the green lights of Baylor’s stadium and the myriad red taillights. Like a trance at the time. In hindsight, the perfect image for a poem I wrote in 2017 about entering misty times. I’ve tweaked the lines just a little and collaged one of my favorite bridges (John Dunn Bridge near Taos NM spanning the Rio Grande River) onto a snapshot of that weird Waco sky. Likw a dreamscape. Indeed, 2020, 2021, and anticipating 2022 resemble dreams of moving forward without clues, fueled by curiosity.
Headed into green “go” and red “stop” encounters 2022 has up its sleeve, to toss into my path!
November 8, 2021. Sitting outdoors in Autumn, leaves coming down, shifts my inner gears into nearly-neutral. I am paused. My surroundings are part real and part mirage. Camped last week at Palmetto State Park between Luling and Gonzales (central Texas) I got all caught up in a leaf spinning in the middle of “nowhere” – no longer connected to its branch, not yet part of the pile on the ground, kept mid-air by a very-thin spider web strand. Gusts dislodging both spider webs and leaves.
No camera angle could capture the entirety. The collage is my best shot at bringing into perspective the dangle between above and below. The video shows the motion!
Watching that leaf filled me with a sense of impermanence – but connection – somehow the motions of my son’s hands his last few days taking on new significance. Suddenly he was blowing, spinning that leaf, teasing me.
October 9, 2021. Another extended boon-docking adventure has wound up back in Austin, Airstream in the driveway until we finish cleanup, 3 days thus far of sorting mail, paying bills, and checking for oddities in the yardscape. Enough. Time to indulge, share one of the many poems that emerged during these recent travels.
I’ve long had a thing for ravens. Their “black” includes blue highlights when the sun shines on them just so, and they are full of antics that capture my fancy. The part of New Mexico we just visited is home to many ravens, seen in small groups of 3 or 4 as well as solo – their silhouettes punctuating roadway skylines and their quirky calls penetrating forested mountains. Difficult birds to photograph! Especially in flight. But I got lucky enough to make do. This image is a composite of bluffs in the El Malpais National Conservation Area plus cooperative ravens from the next day (far more “accurate” than failed attempts to capture both at once!)
The poem began as a haiku, then grew into a series, composed in the passenger seat as we rolled along the Continental Divide in New Mexico.
September 16, 2021. We’re packing to travel again, returning about a week into October, so I’m in a swirl of preparations for cat-sitters and packing and all those essential tasks that precede rolling out onto the road, headed for Nature’s tranquility.
Before I go, I want to share this poem. A more enjoyable sort of swirl. It felt good in the writing and I continue enjoying the visual I’ve created. Where might one find an actual paisley dance floor? Why not on the moon – so that’s where I’ve imagined (and collaged) it. Turn on or imagine your own music and enjoy visualizing your own feet swirling across paisley “up there” where you’re aware of no one but yourself. Trust me, it feels good!
July 7, 2021. Between adventures in our Airstream lifestyle, I play catch-up at my desktop prowling through many, many photos to determine keepers (still “many” though I do discard duplicates and fuzzies) and pair photos with poems written along the way. Some poems call for collaging multiple photos to reflect what I “saw” while writing. We’re packing now for the next jaunt, so high time I finish my “work” from prior jaunt. We went in June to South Llano River State Park, where we’ve been many times. This time in a site new to us, seeing things not previously apparent. Like the mesquite tree with twisted limbs forming a beautiful heart for viewing from the picnic table. We arrived on my 75th birthday and one of the best gifts ever was an hour of solitude at dusk while my generous husband took both Labradors for a long walk. Headed out, he handed me an ale which paired nicely with the view and triggered this poem. (Later the moon rose a bit to the right of the mesquite heart.)
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.