October 24, 2021 – Reflecting on a memorable stretch of New Mexico mountain/forest visited last month: Camped near the lower end of the road up to Magdalena Ridge Observatory, we opted for the thrill of a four-wheel-drive adventure, headed up to 10,000 feet elevation. Our campsite at 6800 feet meant a steep 8-mile ascent. And steep was not all! We never met another vehicle, a blessing since stretches of the road were very narrow. One or the other vehicle would have to back up (yikes!) to a wider, safer stretch. Oh, but the scenery! Magnificent!
On the rise, I was startled when three large figures seemed to rise toward me from the slope below passenger window. My husband, driving, had his eyes on the twisting road and by the time I caught my breath to mention the figures? No longer visible. And when we later came back down that road, though I scanned continually, the figures never appeared. That night, sleepless, I wrote this poem.
Next morning, I pleaded Take me back so I can know what I saw! The image is from the second drive. We stopped, got out, took photos, and my knowledgeable geography-teacher husband explained about “dikes” formed by magma rising through cracks in the terrain, the terrain later eroding away, leaving solidified ridges. Good to know all that, though for me those formations appearing, vanishing as they did seems a spirit greeting. I felt kinship, solidarity. I’m still pondering interpretation of the pause-here-now imperative.
2021-09-11. Today is notable as 20th anniversary of the terror of 9/11/01 attacks. The aftermath has changed perspectives worldwide. So solemn seems appropriate, in spite of a sunny Saturday with no commitments.
The poem I sponsored in support of Brick Street Poetry is up on Robert Okaji blog: https://robertokaji.com/2021/09/11/day-four-poem-pondering-perpetuity/
(You, too, can sponsor some Okaji magic – details here: https://robertokaji.com/ )
I’d offered “Perpetuity” thinking of global concerns about humanity, planet, etc.; when Bob scheduled my sponsored poem for today, I anticipated something related to 9/11. What a lovely surprise to read his applicable-any-day poem concluding with Wisdom/Owl hugging with feathered wings our deepest dreams.
I got lost, immersed in online imagery of owls, especially wings. If you too need to get lost, try this — the abundant variety is startling. And if that doesn’t break a solemn mood, send someone out to bring back home-made tamales!
This post is a thank-you to Robert Okaji and a miss-you to my son, gone just over a year now. (I talked myself out of ordering an owl-wing-print shawl though I sensed my son giving a thumbs-up as I perused options.)
September 6, 2021 – New Moon. Today is Labor Day, but likely the New Moon is a bigger influence on my inner focus – responding to surrounding ruckus impossible to escape or ignore. Even (maybe especially?) for an Enneagram Nine (aka Peacemaker). This year is not over, and I’m braced for more challenges coming ’round the bend. A new moon (dark moon) suggests pausing, summoning from within courage and inventiveness to cope, to keep going.
I’ve included both before and after images, in reverse order as focus is on current conditions: messy. We have an amazing succulent in a pot on our back porch: Mother Of Thousands. Prolific bloomer from early Spring well into June. We went traveling in July and August, leaving the succulent on its own (they really don’t need much water, and I figured this one might prefer fewer camera invasions) – but a sad sight greeted us on return. Yet, a closer look offered a whole new perspective on renewal in spite of circumstances. Hence this plant becomes my model for coping with a world gone wonky in too many ways this year.
February 2021 blooms – Mother Of Thousands
August 31, 2021. I gave myself the month of August “off” from blogging, though not from writing. Journaling and writing poems are essential no matter what else is swirling around me. I chose this poem to share as descriptive of this August’s outer adventures (New Mexico) and inner reflections. Last August my son Tom died the day after his 46th birthday. It happened rapidly, and I was with him his last two months. This past year hence, I’ve had countless questions arise that I wish I’d asked! Stirred together in my thoughts were the questions along with comments from others missing him – when a blue speck sparked a numerology review.
The John Dunn Bridge outside Taos NM is a beautiful spot to get into the Rio Grande River for a swim (or let your dogs do that while you watch!) We went back earlier this month while visiting Taos. First splash in the Rio Grande for our young Labrador Ramble. And a photo opportunity for me. What caught my eye as a pink bloom proves with research to be the seed head of a white bloom on the xeric shrub Apache Plume.
That plant had drawn another closer in days prior. My find near plant base was almost buried in the sand, only one surface visible.
July 27, 2021. Traveling again. Collectively adapting to togetherness in limited space of the Airstream. Patterns that worked in the past require adaptation with addition of a 2nd Labrador – doubling obstacles in hallway and accumulation of fur thus increasing our desire to all get outside! Of course, periodically we have to maneuver around dogs and each other to clean house. Usually this realization sends both humans and Labs into a tizzy. After recent sweeping up of fur and frustrations, I was struck with the absurdity of it all … and how I thoroughly enjoy indulgence in travel, complete with challenges and chores. A togetherness bonding experience! Affections in all directions growing steadily.
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.
May 14, 2021. I have no photograph of my beloved manual rotary lawnmower. My bond with that machine went way beyond yard aesthetics. I brought it with me to Texas when I left Florida in 1986, before I was into photography, before I was into writing about my obsessions. This mower was an obsession, a very therapeutic one.
Today I read a fantastic post from Bill Pearse Promenade in green that set my mind whirling, regretting having ever relinquished that old mower. It deserves a memorial poem. Even if I have to use a contrived image (though backdrop is an actual old photograph of the Florida backyard).
This poem materialized in response to W. B. Yeats describing an aging man – startled me coming forth – had fun creating the collage (grinning from the label of my preferred wine). Perhaps the combination of aging perspectives will trigger your own self-portrait?
It’s Never Too Late – By W. B. Yeats
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
a tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress.
April 19, 2021. Has it really been over two years since I visited my college campus for the first time in several decades – came home and wrote this poem intending to post it along with a thank you to Robert Okaji for inviting me to his poetry reading on that campus. Day before yesterday I had the opportunity to chat with three current students from Texas State University (Southwest Texas State Technical College when I attended in the 60’s). Fun comparing student population growth now vs then; alarming to compare tuition growth now vs then.
In 2019 after wonderful poetry in what once was the Education Building, I walked up to Old Main, then down to Beretta Dorm, then back up “the hill”- not as difficult as I’d remembered it through intervening years. The many steps between walkway up through Quad to Old Main are still a challenge, and steps from Old Main down to the gym still formidable. I did not know in the ’60s that I have a bit of a heart irregularity – I attributed my difficulty climbing those SWT steps to having grown up in very flat West Texas. Returning with an older, weaker body but a better understanding shifted perspectives.
(Thank you, Bob, for serving as catalyst!)
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.