Coming back home from the Lake, I saw red in the dried grasses. Luna was not tired enough to not complain, and I got out of the car and scrambled up the bank. I am ceaselessly amazed by what goes on in the seemingly dried-up grasses. I didn't stay long enough to catch the beetles and lizards, but I know that they were there, I heard them rattling around, causing miniature landslides; guess that would be pebble slides.
Growing up we called these "Monkey Faces." Some grow in meadows where the mountain springs seep down the mountainside. Some grow on the banks of small streams(rills). And these were with their friends, The Pinks, in a shady spot on a hot, dry coastal mountain.
And I love this camera that gives me the opportunity to put my nose right up to this bright red; click, and bring it home to be surprised yet again.
Late Tuesday afternoon I moved the little sprinkler in the front yard. Owww! My lower back muscles tightened up around the sharp pain, and it occurred to me that one simple chiropractic adjustment may not move this one. Of course, being myself, I finished up the remaining tasks before taking myself off to evening commitments, which did include the adjustment. Wednesday morning I got my usual cheery self out of bed and about 6 steps away from the bed realized that I could go no further, forward or back. Oh, I don't like that!
Yesterday was spent mostly asleep. This morning I was inspired to call my friend Pam, and made my way up to her amazing garden(a post in its own glory), where she dug some Valerian plant up for my tea, and for transplanting into my herb garden. The beautiful tea, light colored and woodsy tasting, has been comforting. Maybe the real cure is in the greeting by Utah who jumped so high he put both front paws, very lightly, on the tops of my shoulders!
Listening to the plants, I was guided to add a couple of Comfrey leaves to the Valerian and Sage. Later I looked up Comfrey to discover that it is used for "sprains, swelling and bruises...it is useful in any kind of inflammatory swelling." While my plant-knowledge has been self-taught, with absorbing information from my Grandma Annie, and my mother and my father, various aunts and uncles, I have no "degree." My talent lay in listening to the plant conversations. They speak readily, if I am willing to listen, and they have the best sense of humor.
I have been writing. Telling. Writing into memory, into the scent of summer sun on my arms. Writing into the vulnerability of childhood. Writing into how beautiful things like wildflowers; how bright their color, how tenacious their grip in the dry soil, how these beautiful beings support me.
It was not a surprise to feel my back move into pain: I trust the process; I am safe...Louise Hay. Today I drew the Valerian leaf, and the seed-head(marginally, as I am a little impatient!).
Luna had another time-out for trying to get into the chicks' house. The red finches, Grosbeaks, Orioles, Blackbirds, and a host of others including quail, sang at the tops of their lungs all through my nap! No complaints here! I trust.
Two Barred Rocks and One Light Brahma; yes, little Miss Carmelita.
Imagine growing up with that in the background.
This is why I believe my DalmaPittie is also a herding dog.
Today the little ones got to go outside for the first time. The afternoon was warm, the borrowed cage big, and they tried out their wings and hopped high high high! Luna ducked when they did that move. They were living in a small cardboard box in my studio, and have been roosting on the edge, though they do like to cuddle under the light. I recently read that Barred Rocks faithfully return to their house, after their daily browsing. Very cute to find them back in their box after many signs pointing to that they had been exploring the studio. Today they have moved into Luna's crate which now has a nice little branch for a roost. Already they like that amenity, it's like a new couch.
And, already, I am planning on 3 eggs a day. Nice. It is easy to see what Luna is planning. She is, as we speak, having a time-out, as snapping air in the presence of the chicks is forbidden.
I submit these photo's to the "Fleshy Thang" contest.
Rather regularly, my Writer's Group goes off the deep end. One of the latest prompts: ...based on the spam e-mail title: "Empower Your Fleshy Thing." As you may imagine, this took us on a journey, and some pretty bad writing, some not-so-bad, and some awful... a little of which I am going to share! Of course, in my opinion, with this prompt, what did we expect? And I love it all, literally screaming with laughter when the emails would pop up. A writer's group is a must, that's all I've got to say.
from K: ...if I had been more encouraging. Limp as a broken finger, the damn fleshy thing just lay there, embarrassing us both.
from CHB: ...my broken finger experience, I hasten to add, was anything but limp! Swollen and red, ahem pardon one must cough into a lace hanky when admitting such a thing.
from LC: ahem silence only because of the blush awakened by spam. a lace hanky bespeaks panky ahem you may, by now, see why I silence
from SF: He's watching me watch him, watching the tattoos along his forearm, the beard along his jaw, strong shoulders beneath the languid snake.
from MK: (a veeeeerrrrrrrrry looooooooooong song) F-f-f-f-fleshy thang!
from PB: No further entries will be accepted. ...yours, Fleshy Thing Empowerment Team
from N: Will we have to wear bare legs and chaps when we sing..."Fleshy Thang?" as our next performance piece?
So keep writing! Share your writing! Encourage each other to write. Read. Laugh!
And keep your eyes on the road. There are pendulous things hanging from the trees.
is anger, and while angerper se isn't necessarily dark--- I equate it with bright hot color & lots of movement, backwards forwards up, down sideways--- the dark part of this anger today is the urge to duke-it-out, to name-call, to sputter cuss words, to knock some-one-or-thing over. And that, in and of itself, is just the shadow part of the darkness. This darkness today--- this particular anger--- is more volcanic. A rumbling earthquaking ominous seat-of-your-pants, marrow of your pinkie gathering: It's going to blow! Like lava seeking it's way, burning tunnels in the darkness, this anger is righteous, more than any other.
Ha! I don't think so!
And that's the darkness I'm with today--- the unlit cavern of giving-up, turning it over to slamming words, kicked doors, and the wide arc of a full swing
knocking over that little one
smaller than me with
her big round brown eyes
knocking her over
not even looking at her
just ignoring her
Yes, a darkness in the wide-awake daylight. Not the anger, just the fear and the dance of fright hopping circles around the little puddle of tears.
And oh, yes! Deep gratitude! For my friend, Hafiz, who this morning mentions:
Doing what some lucky cows do. Chew cud. Lay on GRASS.
My very own cabbage.
Driving North up 101 through the Salinas Valley is an amazing experience. There are miles and miles of vineyards! The vineyards creep up the hills to a certain point and then swoosh back down to the valley and across to the other side. Reminds me of watching Skyler skate; zoom, swoosh, crash! swoosh, zoom, swoosh, crash! swoosh... (repeat)(repeat).
I grew up on a farm, where around the kitchen table the "nation's food supply..." was discussed! Imagine! Dad was concerned and would talk about who was growing the crops, where, how the crops got to market or processing plant. He graduated from a program at UCD, I have some of his notebooks (how to grow strawberries). He followed regulations, which by today's standards may have been pretty simple: no antibiotics get into the milk. I remember his frustration at other dairy rancher's casual or non-existent following of that rule.
Whenever I see houses being built into insta-neighborhoods across fertile cropland I scream and hollar. It pains me: just north of Salem, Oregon is a spot of Willamette Valley floor which has/had the deepest recorded level of topsoil on the planet... yeah. Think about it covered with streets and two-story houses. Near Davis, CA... same thing: black, black, black topsoil paved over with cul-da-sacks and mega-houses(with how many mortgages?) and the same goes for communities from Sacramento to SF, as well as south along the I5 corridor. In a way I am glad that I don't even know how many places have done and are doing this stupid practice.
Back to Salinas: giant painted figures of farm workers glorify the salad bowl fields, where giant tractors cultivate, fertilize, and otherwise do most of the "work." Of course there are farm workers, doing the spraying, and application of all the chemicals used to grow the nation's iceberg lettuce. There are also crowds of workers bending and cutting the broccoli and cabbages and lettuces and flinging them up on to the conveyor belt that is constantly turning as a tractor pulls the whole contraption down the rows.
I even saw a field of Parsley! And a few fields of carrots. My favorite game is "Identify the Crop!" and I am pretty good at it. My brain absorbs all of this.
As we drove North towards Salinas, I realized that here is a new intruder. Maybe not even so new, since this was my first trip down this far. Seeing the ruins of the Missions was startling: This missionary system didn't do anybody any good. Onward, I began to notice the grapes. Vineyards miles long and wide, with their metal infrastructure, and their irrigation set-ups. Acres and acres of green green grapes, sucking every last drop of water out of the river and the underground. In Atascadero and north, there are signs encouraging people to drive dirty cars... it being a "sign of a model citizen who conserves water!" I kid you not.
Where am I going with this? It occurred to me as I watched the rows of vineyard slide across the valley and up into the foothills and back down again... that as agribusiness focuses on making money, that the humans (that's me, you, us.) are going to have to get a little smarter, pretty quick now. Look carefully at that salad in your bowl, as it is becoming an endangered species. Lettuce will not hold its own against the wall of vineyard coming up the Salinas Valley.
A delightful and uplifting activity is vegetable gardening. Growing my own cabbages makes me happy. My lettuce was a treat for the earwigs and little black slugs, but the Arugula and Swiss Chard are vigorous and tasty. The Goldfinches are enjoying the Mammoth Sunflower leaves, and the Blue Jays and Grosbeaks will love the seeds. My garden envelopes me with color, sound, scent, all of which soothe.
Every year on June 5, we all say, "Remember when...?" because she was our #1 GRANDchild! And, there is the runaway fact that time literally flies: my boys are now young adults, the kittens are elders and very fat, we moved off the Mountain, there are more more more GRAND children. And there is ONE Rebekah Lauren!
Us "Elders" laugh because she is the "spittin' image" of her Mama! It's like Rille has her own self with which to contend. With tongue in cheeks, we smile and know what and how they are doing! We know that Rebekah will hold her own, that she guides us daily in staying present with her feelings, wisdom, grumpiness, an occasional zit, borrowing ear rings, painting her fingernails black with a Sharpie(she promised never-ever to do that again!), and with her beautiful vulnerability.
My favorite memory (no, I have billions, thank Goodness!) is going for a walk with Rebekah when she was about 3 years old, when her family was involved with "training" their dear, sweet Brittany Spaniel, Jack. Rebekah observed, of course, and participated obviously. She and I were winding down the path, a gentle slope to the playing field at the Elementary School. She was in the lead, of course. I was talking, of course. And keeping her close-by, which may have been irritating? Anyway, we looped around a small group of Redwood trees, and she whirled around, and pointed her finger at me, and commanded, "SIT!" I was a little startled, so I didn't obey instantly. Big Mistake: "SIT NONNIE! SIT. (authoritative pause...) STAY."
It appeared that her intention was to ditch me, so that she could wander. I did sit down, just to see what was up. She went on down the path, checking now and then to make sure that I was still in "sit-stay" which I was. Like any good trainer, she kept an eye on me, and returned to gather me up and continue our walk.
To this day, Rebekah is very good with dogs. She is also very good with managing her various GrandMothers.
And we are SO BLESSED! Happy Birthday Baaaayyyyy Beeeeeeeeee!
I am still learning. MichelangeloFrom Walking In This World, by Julia Cameron: When we make a piece of art about something we don't understand, we come to understand it, or, at least, our relationship to it through our own experience---which is more full-bodied than merely cerebral. In this sense, art "works" therapeutically whether we understand it or not.
Another "aha" from Cameron, "Freud complained, Whenever I get somewhere, a poet has been there first." Of course." This I believe, is why my friend Hafiz has such a grip on me.
It seems that I cannot remember the name of the plant in the photo. It is now about 8 feet tall, and still dancing skyward. Its symmetrical, first to the left, then to the right movement is see-sawing its way up and up and up. This morning it was full of medium sized yellow finches waiting their turn in the Birdie Diner. The colorful Evening Grosbeak was in there, and he was not in the mood to share.
It is overcast today, with currents of cool air stirring around. I have been pulling weeds and staking tomatoes, planted dill and cucumbers, ate some arugula and basil, planted pink zinnias and blue lobelia at the end of the pepper and tomatilla row, gave the volunteer Morning Glories a tomato cage all to themselves, turned on the water. At some point it occurred to me, a renegade of habit, "You should be doing something useful..."
"WHAT???" I jerked up and a flock of Goldfinches fluttered yellow into the Redwood tree, Luna jumped, and in my hand was a bunch of Pigweed, fat and glossy enough for the soup pot, even if it is a weed.
Gently shaking soft animals from trees and burrows
Into my lap.
Isn't this fun? Contemplating what I will be doing: midwifing poetry into being, paintings into form, gardens into profusion, laughter into hilarity, tickles into giggles, spices into chai, beans into chili.
Red makes me giddy. It used to be my favorite color, now it shares the limelight with yellow. Thank Goodness I don't really have to choose one over the other! Not even in the planters, just plant both. Which reminds me, I planted dark pink wave petunias with dark purple ones. They are starting to wink open, and I am loving that combination, too. Which is a red-variation.
My first car was red. Mm, mmmmm red: my '65 Mustang. I've always liked red hearts, red dresses, skirts and earrings, and shoes. Yes, I like rubies, too. Red strawberries and raspberries and the red side of an apricot all make me drooly silly. Oh, and there is the red cherry on top of the whipped cream on top of the hotfudgesundae made with Screamin' Mimi's Strawberry ice cream!
What is happening here? I have been away from my blog too long, forgotten that this is serious business.
Red is a summertime color. I ordered a red swimming suit. I have red Crocks. My niece has what is known as "flaming red" hair, and she is an awesome softball player. My car is, surprise surprise red, as is my kayak. My dog is black and white, which goes nicely with red, which is the color of one of her collars.
Red is the color of transformation and passion. In Japanese lore, "there is no red on a madwoman's fan" a thought I loved so much that I used it to title a textile piece made from handmade paper, willow boughs and fabric. Hmmm. I wonder where that is?
Red is the color of birth, of blood. So in a way, the pulse is red. Sometimes one "sees red" in anger. I see red in meditation, in the insides of Luna's eye, on a little spot on my forearm.
Red is fire, is warmth, is searing hot. Red is sexual. Red stimulates. Red shivers and trembles. Red roars and moans, shouts.
And sometimes, the underside of a tender green leaf is red, facing down, sending all that secret red back to the Mother.
Swallowtail Butterflies are fresh and new by the first of April. Larabee is a hidden valley created by the Eel River. Perhaps I have lived here since time began, a butterfly in the willows on the banks of a Northern river.