Thursday, January 29, 2009

Look Who Was Waiting for Me

Would you puuleeeeeeeez open the dang door?I believe this is a Cooper's Hawk, or a Sharp Shinned Hawk?  Funny, but when I grabbed my camera, after staring intently at it staring intently at me, I did not notice the beautiful yellow legs!

Poor bird!  So tired.

I felt bad about taking another photo, but couldn't help myself.  Look at the gorgeous patterns in the feathers.  And since I don't have my fabulous lens yet, and when will the next time be that I am above (!) the hawk, so I just had to go at it one more time.

After a call to Bird Rescue, and deciding that I could throw a towel over it and scoop it up and release it outside, I put on my garden gloves and my denim jacket and my glasses (bird-rescue goggles...), found a big, thick towel, and crept back into the room and gently closed the door behind me.

"Okay.  You are going to be alright.  I won't hurt you," reassuring it (right, just imagine the thick blue towel coming slowly around...), and it said telepathically, "See ya!" scooted around the vanity, and literally vanished out the open door.  Didn't make a sound, not even a wing-whoosh.

Thank goodness!  Safely back to its chicken, mouse and frog hunting.  Now I can claim to be a Hawk Whisperer, add that to a Wasp Talker.  Yes, that is a whole 'nother blog!

Adventures!  I believe I put that in my prayer this morning, and thought, what?


Learning to Be

A One Dog Householdwith button jars, whiskers and grandgirl infusions now and then.  Birds at the feeder and on the back fence, Johnny Jump Ups in pots, and kibble-snacks in baggies in pockets on long walks, January sunshine, wishing and praying and dancing for rain.  Bites on the fly of wildcatpoop, mad-dashes for the tennis balls, and rough-housing play-dates with Utah, her own big leather chair, quilt and three cats to startle daily.  Naps in sunspots. The rug in front of the stove.  Breakfast by herself.

Luna Dog is learning to not bark at every unknown entity.  She is wriggling back into her own skin, showing me how.  I carry kibble for her, water for me.  Neither her or I are suppressible, really, and both of us are learning this ongoing lesson.  I am taking her with me to everything and everywhere, and she is doing well.  She has been the perfect massage-dog so far this week, not licking clients through the face cradle, or conversing.  Instead, she is lying quietly and sleeping, albiet underfoot for me, and it is easy enough to quietly step over her.  My wonderful clients have, thus far, encouraged me to bring her to work.

So far our attention has been brought to about 5 Labbies who need homes, 3 of which are young females, one of which looks uncannily like Pie.  So far we are saying nothankyou, for now.  For now we are putting focus on this moment, this dog, this practice, this writing and submitting, this painting.  

So far our attention is on Loving what Is.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Eggs: first eggs, frying eggs, eggs lined up

Mmm-mmmmmm good!  First FRESH eggs, fried in butter with ground pepper and Potato Ciabata.  Yum yum yum.

Eggs cooking.  

Eggs in flower pot, enjoying late January winter sun.

Eggs in the carton.

Eggs in rows.

The name of our Writer's Group is "Scrambled Eggs."  We make many jokes about our meetings, we do "eggings," and we "scramble" for a perfect word, or a misplaced comma, or hyphen, and one of our favorite "Egglet" comments, "...maybe just a little verb here?" seems to have taken on greater, at times ominous meaning.

I am very grateful for this group of amazing writers.  I am grateful for their transparent, loving critiques, their thoughtful, conscientious written comments.  I am grateful for their dedication to the craft of writing, their encouragement, "Submit!  Submit!  Submit!" and "...don't give up on this one, you're almost there!"  I am grateful for the growing relationships and deep friendships.  I am grateful for a group of people willing to focus on the writing!

So today, I say, I love my 'Eggs!


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Winter Blooms before the Pruning

So the feeling comes afterward
it wakes in the silence of the same room
the words that come to it after the long comma
existed all that time wandering in space...  from "Once in Spring," by W.S.Merwin

In the first place I would like to mention some preparations that were required of me.  The first preparation is a right attitude toward life.  This means... stop being an escapist!  Stop being a surface-liver who stays right in the froth of the surface... Be willing to face life squarely and get down beneath the surface of life where the verities and realities are to be found.   from "Steps Toward Inner Peace," by Peace Pilgrim

I put the roses in the small vase late yesterday afternoon.  Even the foliage was fragrant.  I clipped the stems, and as I arranged the buds and blooms loosely in the wide-mouthed, little fat red vase, one bloom released all of its delicate pink petals; some stuck to my fingers, others floated into the sink.  


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Books, Beloveds and Some Swirling Sadness

Books on my desk: A Book of Rereadings, by Greg Kuzma

These smiley faces are modelling hats.  They are pretty cute.  The hats, that is?

This one is hard to get to grin when I get out my camera.  I have to bother her much; it's worth it

Cast Art travels...  the cast goes this week.  Some of us will be missing it.

These are the Eldests:  #1 daughter, and my bestest friend from forever... our Dad's were good friends from high school!!!  She has me at about 4 years old on home-movies!

Any ole hat looks pretty fabulous on this one!

Today was obviously fun!  We had a good country breakfast of sausage and potatoes, scrambled eggs, pumpkin muffins, gallons of French Press coffee and cream, apples, oranges, home-squeezed apple juice.  Luna didn't bark too much, even let Roger into the house without too much grumbling and barking today(yesterday she was beside herself).  Skyler, on the other hand, got into the house without her noticing, and then she had to carry on some.  The sky was full of clouds which broke up and let the sun through and then re-grouped.  Mary and I walked Luna down to see the horses.  Everybody left for their homes.  Wayne started the pruning.  Mary and I brought in wood, and more wood, and then we planted the garlic that Arla brought me... we found worms!

And when it quiets down, sadness swirls around me.  I miss that Meat Pie!  I miss her underfoot.  I miss tripping over her when there are crowds of people that I am cooking for, and she is catching whatever falls on the floor.  I miss her chasing Luna and knocking things over.  I miss how she smelled.  I miss how she lay in front of the stove on the rug, or if that got crowded, she went in and got on our bed!  I miss how when I show people my studio, she would crowd in with us, and then lay down.  Invariably someone would trip over her.  I miss that, too.

When I just give in... and just miss her, it passes some.  Obviously, nothing can bring her back.  Tonight I was looking at a blog called "Use Real Butter," yeah, that's what I thought... MY kind of title!!!  On her blog she posted a picture of their little Brown Lab when she was a baby and was befuddled by a tennis ball.  I just sat here in disbelief.  That little dog looked just like Meat Pie did when we got her:  fat, dark chocolate brown, fuzzy and bewildered.

Well.  That's that.  

We are very blessed with this amazing Life.  With a beautiful family, deep and abiding friendships, good work, and a million books yet to read, I am blessed, busy, and willing to feel how much I love that Labrador!  I love the spotted Luna, I love all this bounty which surrounds me.  I love.

Our friend Wade (The Miracle Dog Trainer) said to me, "You need to go through the sadness, Laura.  Don't hurry it.  It will pass."

Once again, I get to just believe.

Oh, and "Hummingbird's Daughter" by Luis Alberto Urrea is on my desk, too.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration musings

It takes such a long time to reach for the sky
through logging, erosion and anger.
Where do we turn for healing
these hearts untapped?     ...LPC

This youngster stands at the edge of a clearing created when an Elder crashed to the earth.  She stands in the shadow of her community, which has and will continue to absorb the chaos created by the force of what came before.  She stands in the sunlight pouring through the gash in the canopy.  She may thrive here.  

The forest floor appears trashed.  The rubble created by the fall of the Giant looks insurmountable.  The communities will clean it all up, some in co-operation, some in predatory take-over.  What looks like rot is the work of an Intelligence far beyond my comprehension, cleaning up the alleged "mess."

A giant Redwood stands tall and majestic for centuries.  It bends and sways and sings in the harsh winter environment of the Northern California Coastal region.  It has sheltered populations of humans, birds, deer, salamanders, bear, lynx, salmon and innumerable plant and insect life.  The Redwood stands in community:  without her sisters and brothers she falls.  The Redwood forest holds itself up by intertwining its branches with its neighbors, as the enormous tree has a shallow root system and NO taproot (the root which anchors many in the plant world).

The Redwood gathers moisture from the fog in its uppermost branches and sends the drops down, level by level, until they form rivulets of water streaming down the giant trunk to the ground.  The drops also create a "rain" which falls from the high branches to the the lower.  In this way, the forest harvests its water to nourish the whole forest.

The Inauguration Ceremony was for me, an inspiration.  Perhaps the biggest and maybe most difficult task before us, is the one of learning to live in community.  For instance, the Redwood does not slough-off the Poison Oak from climbing to great heights up her magnificent trunk.  No, Poison Oak takes her secrets toward the sky, and blazes bright red every fall, a little closer to the high blue!  

Our job in the coming months is one of embracing this Life.  Mmmmm.  Yes, that Includes all and everything I may find distasteful, or less-than; all that annoys me, frightens me, bothers me.  It includes corrupt politicians, ugly-nasty people and abandoned fighting roosters.  

Oh.  There is much to be done!

Much Love, and Tenderness...


Monday, January 19, 2009

Fog Drops

...dozens of spheres...clinging to its surface...the largest
 could have been carried
...clustered on one of her spots...      from "Today..." by Mike Kamrath
For full enjoyment, click on the image to see the crystalline spheres of fog drops.

This deer is a little worried, as we ease the car past, while Luna watches attentively, rumbling the whole time.

Of course, when I have the bigger, stronger, more amazing lens, you will be able to see what I saw:  Tundra Swans, Canada Geese, Aleutian(thousands of) Geese, Coots, and Crows.  Until then, the wetland habitat will suffice, hopefully, in its peaceful presence.

The Aleutian Geese have revived from near extinction.  Their story is facinating:  The Russians had released foxes from their (failed?) fur farms on to the 450 Aleutian Islands where the Aleutian Goose nest.  In about 7-10 years the geese were nearly extinct.  Through the efforts of some amazing naturalists, who carried live geese out on their backs, the geese have been re-introduced into their natural habitat, and are one again thriving.  In fact, they are a migration presence, in that they now number in the 100,000's and they overwhelm pastures, airports, golf courses and other peope-made yummy grass areas.  This is where we say, Yay! for Border Collies, which are used to round up the geese and shoo them on their way!  Incidently, Border Collies were also used to round up the geese to capture and move them!

This beautiful restored wetland is in Humboldt County.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nothing better

On a beautiful, warm January late afternoon...
She is new to the Cowgirl Up! Clan, yet maybe not.  Took to the back of a horse right off the bat!

Imagine the tales those furry ears take in, have listened through generations of joys, woes, and "Okay, today IS the day..."

Then, there are these two.  Champion nuzzlers, kissers, mmmmm-good Little Ones.  I think that they are so cute in their muddy wooly winter coats.

Yesterday was a riding lesson for my granddaughters, first time up for seven year old Mary with the bright orange cast.  Excited to get there, mortified to realize that they knew the youngsters ahead of them, the girls were fun to watch as they went through their minor emotional roller-coaster ride.

Of course, I began to trace back into the archives of my experience, trying to remember my own first time up on a horse.  I rode a saddle on the timber in the hay barn, which was wobblely and musty old, leathery, and covered with cobwebs... maybe I was seven?  Then, I learned how to ride a bicycle, and rode it mercilessly through potholes to imitate what it might feel like to ride a real horse.  I rode the ponies at the Fair, in endless circles.  I ruined my bicycle.  I rode calves and occasionally a tame cow.

When I was probably in the 8th grade, my good friend, Bobbie, invited me out to their ranch after school, and we were going to ride.  Bobbie's family were, so to speak, "born to ride."  Their dad rode in the rodeo, and he was the coolest cowboy that set foot on this planet.  So we rode the bus home, inhaled a snack, and headed out to the barn.  Frances helped me saddle my horse Coalie, a huge black ranch horse.  He showed me how to cinch up the cinch; oh, and how to be sure and tie Coalie's head to the fence first, so he wouldn't take a chunk out of my rear-end.  Accomplishing all of this, while Bobbie saddled her own mount, Frances then helped me get on the giant horse.  Of course, Bobbie walked hers over to the water trough, climbed up and then over and into the saddle.  Assured that I was settled (ha!), feet in the stirrups, etc., Frances whacked Coalie on the butt and hollared, "Git!"

Bobbie hollared at her dad, "DON'T!!!  She doesn't know how to ride!!!"  Looking down at the ground, I estimated that it was at least 10 feet away.  I was terrified.  Had I spoken to one of my parents like that, I'd have been doomed.

Bobbie was an excellent teacher.  She explained how to hold the reins, how to put my feet in the stirrups, how to open the gate from the back of the horse!!!!  how to make that little noise that says "go!"  I learned how to steer and how to stop.  Coalie was patient, and we rode a long ways before turning back, or even around, because it was his habit to make a bee line for the barn.  We rode far out into the wide open space of grassland that ends in sand dunes and the Pacific Ocean.  If Coalie misbehaved, Bobbie would yell at him, and then tell me what to do.  I can still hear her voice saying to me, "You're a Natural!!!  You look Great on a horse!!!"

No need to say, Bobbie went on to become a teacher.  

And I learned to ride a horse.  Not too long after the rides with Bobbie, Dad and I began looking for a horse.  Understand, a horse on a dairy was a big stretch: animals were supposed to "pay for themselves."  Maybe Dad decided that it would be safer to have his daughter home, with her own horse, than "out there" looking....  Or maybe he knew the adage, from my sister, "there is nothing better for the insides of a girl than the outsides of a horse."

We are so blessed.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My favorite whale

One must take off her fear like clothing;
This is the seeking after God.    Maureen Morehead, In a Yellow Room. 
Yes, National Geographic is hot on my tail, as I am the next famous wild fish, I mean, whale photographer.  Anyone who desires to send me one of those enormous lens has my permission to do so.

I will also need a net, or a harness, so that I can stay dry or at least on my feet.  These photos do not do justice to the rough and raging seas upon which we were bobbing.  Also, the sea was black, not this idyllic blue.

It is a task, to take off the fear, once it takes hold and becomes so close as to be indecipherable from breath.  And with that breath, I am drawn 'closer than close' and I remember what my woodsy friend, Henry David Thoreau said, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!  Live the life you've imagined.  As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler."

Thank Goodness!


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Breathing and Whale Watching, with Dolphins

They came when we were wondering how long one could hang on, stay upright, not crash into one's neighbor... and all of a sudden they were there!  Under the bow, on the right!  On the left!  In back, surfing in our wake!  The water, the air, the whole concept of life, LIFE! was illuminated in speed, beauty, playfulness, joy, determination and whatever else a Dolphin is.  I was so glad to see them.
Sea Lions and youngsters, Sea Gulls, Harbor Seals and Comorants all piled on the spit at the Monterey Harbor.  Click on the image for a better idea of teeming Life!  Click on the dolphins, too.  And yes, I am on the quest for another lens!

I've gone on a trip.  Saturday was the Full Wolf Moon.  I heard coyotes calling one another.  I saw shadows under the oaks.  In the sky the full faced moon threw light all over the landscape.  The Bay Bridge looked like delicate sparkling embroidery.  The buildings in the Financial District and on the San Francisco hills were illuminated in moonlight.

Home again.  Mary spent the afternoon with us.  We had ice cream "with chocolate powder" twice, once before dinner and once after.  It was sunny and warm.

So Life pulls us along with it.  And I am very grateful.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Meat Pie

My work is loving the world,...which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart...
...telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
---from Mary Oliver's "Messenger."

Meat Pie our Chocolate Labbie     
born on February 14, 2002, and died the morning of January 2, 2009.  

So now I am in a new chapter.  Can't even say it is new, as I have been here before, just not with my Meat Pie.  And really, my writer-self has collapsed for the time being, so I am going to let Denise Levertov say it for me:

Talking to Grief


Ah, grief, I should not treat you

like a homeless dog

who comes to the back door

for a crust, for a meatless bone.

I should trust you.


I should coax you

into the house and give you

your own corner,

a worn mat to lie on,

your own water dish.


You think I don’t know you’ve been living

under my porch.

You long for your real place to be readied

Before winter comes. You need

your collar and tag. You need

the right to warn off intruders,

to consider my house your own

and me your person

and yourself my own dog.

Thank you all, for being there, for your love, for your proving that Life is Good.


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