Thursday, January 28, 2010


Today on my first walk:

Meadow Lark
Red Tail Hawk
Ring Neck Dove
Acorn Woodpecker

First chores:

make bed
feed dogs
wash dishes
sweep floors
feed chickens

three brown eggs

First thoughts:

oh no, morning
is everything/one here?
it isn't even light, yet
that was fun

First Prayer

show me, God
my good
this day
through you.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gray. Gloomy. Let us be cheered.

For days like today, when I cannot get myself out of the gray of the clouds, this little guy helps.  I purchased him in Ferndale.  He is made from coral, and most likely came from San Francisco's  China Town, since the owners of the shop are SFers.  That aside, I was in their fabulous store Mainstreet Mercantile (closed now, I believe, for the winter), a year or more ago, with my sister, on a mission to find some of these.  If you ever go to Ferndale, you must go to this store, and then go way in the back to the gem room.  Omigoddess!  It is full to overflowing with beads, gems, coral, pearls, it is like stepping into "The Room of Abundant Amazement."  Strings of beads, every shape and color imaginable.  Yes, the red coral is about my favorite.  The rest of the store will keep you occupied for hours, so put on your list that you want to go to the back room, otherwise you will be distracted by Huckleberry Jam, cowboy hats, weird soaps, wonderful pots and pans, baskets, linens, antique jewelry, old fashioned candy, and at least a million other things.  Everything is secured on shelves with intricate earthquake proof wiring.  Seriously, it is a very cool store.  I especially like the floor, it squeaks just like it is supposed to.  Gosh, I hope it is still open, as I haven't been in for too long.

I learned how to make these in Ferndale.  Probably sooner, at Mom's elbow when we lived in Larabee.  She made 'biscuits' regularly.  They are easy, quick, never-fail, and go with everything from breakfast through dinner, including 4'oclock snack (the fourth meal on the dairy).  Today on Facebook a conversation was proposed about "surf fish," pronounced in Ferndale as "...surfish."  Technically, they are "Smelt," a little fact I learned when I slipped out of Ferndale and into the Junior College biology class, where incidentally, I learned all sorts of things about Humboldt County!

My sister replied on the FB comments:  (I quote loosely!)  "My favorite breakfast is surfish and eggs!"   Oh, dear.  That does not really sound good to me.  My mind went to breakfasts of Nightfish(the smallest smelt) and pancakes (of the sourdough variety).  Our mother hated fish.  Imagine what she must've gone through when we all decided we loved to go surf fishing, and that we loved to eat them, too.  Understand, what Mother hated, was thoroughly hated, and more over, was not cooked or served.  Some things like tomatoes and bananas were simply banned until we each turned 21 and purchased them for our own selves.  I do not know why she was so adamant about her tastes, I am sure that is a small book of psychological inquiry that I am ill prepared to pursue.  Where was I?

Surf fish!  Shiny silver fish that come into the surf to lay their eggs in the sand at a certain time of year.  Seals, salmon and Killer Whales are a few of the species which depend upon this fish for their existence. Well.  I just googled "smelt" to find a horribly disturbing (and not even surprising, anymore) situation.  The Humboldt smelt are most likely extinct.  The Delta(SF bay) populations are so small they are uncountable.  This is another, ongoing ecological disaster.  The smelt have fallen prey to invasive species, but more to pollution, lack of water(low flow), and being sucked into the giant pumps that re-route water.  The implications are difficult to grasp: the collapse of an entire food chain.

So there will be no Surf fish on our plates.  Odd, very odd.  Is it reassuring to realize that when humans step out, Mother Nature rebounds, reconnects, reappears?  Many 'extinct' species have come back, but many more are simply gone forever.  I watched a documentary on the Boulder/Hoover Dam, and the commentators said that it is one of the hugest ecological disasters ever built.

I thought I was cheering myself up somewhat.  Well.  This didn't work too well.  The 'biscuits' tasted good, and Luna and Emerson each had one.  I am enjoying the frog singing tonight.  All is well.  It  has to be...


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Clouds, and a List

The clouds today have been so amazing!  Right here, we had just come down the little hill, through Gladys's gate and out onto the road.  Wow!  To the North was a storm!  We had been on the other side, with a hill keeping us in the sunshine.  These dark, roiling clouds were aimed right at us.  I struggled out of the truck for the photography, as the thought of leaving this undocumented was more painful than my mangled ankle.

Doggone it!  Everything was going hunky-dory, and wham!  In a flat second I was rolling around in agony, cussing.  Emerson saw this as the perfect opportunity to romp on me, and jumped right in the middle of my (what? I don't even know what side I was on!), anyways, he took the moment to kiss my face.  Luna did, too, though with a little more discretion, as she knows what it means when I am flopping around on the ground, swearing.  Wayne was cutting wood, had a nice little pile to go, and I headed with the dogs down a steep, paved piece of the road.  Maybe I stepped on an acorn?  At the moment I knew it was all over: I had just called Luna back, Emerson charged ahead.  And then my left boot toe caught and as I was going down, God said, "Flip girl, or your ankle is toast, and I mean burnt."  I did.  I flipped over and lit on my knees and only partially ruined my ankle, thank you, God.

I love this kind of weather!  We were in the sunspot, which was splashing up the hill, and those clouds just kept coming!  It's magical.  In the bleached grass from last summer there is a riot of new grass, and very quickly we will be experiencing waves of wildflowers.  We never have to wait for Spring, she cannot wait to get here!

Buried deep in this post is a confession:  Earlier this morning I was feeling sorry for myself, etc etc etc, blah blah blah (I do wonder how Wayne listens sometimes.  Maybe this explains that faraway look, or the "Huh?") and I said, "WHAT WOULD WE DO IF I BROKE MY LEG?"  While at the time I was using this as a purely rhetorical question, even at that moment I gasped and said, "I don't mean that!"  Was there a quiet pause?  I wouldn't know, I talk too much sometimes.

Motion is the significance of life, and the law of motion is rhythm.
Hazbat IInayat Khan

I spent some time in the rocking chair, with my foot up on the hassock.  I watched the clouds race shadows up the face of the hill.  I watched the hill in front turn dark, with gray trees and red power poles, while the hill in back was bright, illuminated gold with flashing silver pines.  I watched clouds, white and pretty, frame a blue line at the top of the ridge.

It's a cliche:  One must hurt one's self to slow down, to access tears that are just beneath the surface, held back by a good day, or new hiking boots.

It's a cliche:  Stop and smell the roses.

Often I think that I am so slow that a slug can get ahead of me.  I sip my beer, nibble my dinner, think and rethink whatever needs a good analyzing.  It takes me hours and months to finish a quilt, or revise a poem.  I like to hang in a conversation, draw it out, leave it unfinished so we can take it up again, like braiding several wide, colorful grosgrain ribbons into a long ornament.

So, Wayne took my list to the store:

  1. Ice cream.
  2. Cream for coffee.
  3. Butter for cookies.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Another List, and Maybe A Couple More.

A sheltered life can be a daring life as well.  For all serious daring starts from within.  Eudora Welty

Photos from a year ago, a sunny, droughtful January:  Blue skies, pink blossoms, and incredible light filled each day.  This morning (oh Lord, it is noon) is gray, with rain and fog, squealing robins, and rivulets of water now clear, moving toward the river.  The paper this morning says that our lake is 90% full, from this past week of deluge.  Some say the drought is over, that California doesn't need to conserve water this year.  Mmmm, hmmmmmmm.  Shortsightedness sustains us, right?  Moves the economy, the building, the living-way-beyond-the-means, makes the cash flow like a river, no?

This morning I have been so "off," having over-booked my schedule to the tune of double-booking clients.  Then I needed to sort that out, make it right, and in the meantime, there were cancellations, phone calls left on my machine.  Unbeknownst to me, who went to purchase turkey legs for the dogs, got side-tracked and had a scone in the little Underground Cafe, with fresh coffee, read the paper, wrote a few more lists, talked to a friend.  Climbing into the car, I was beset with a sense of urgency, "What the @%#@&*+%$#@+&*** time IS it?"  Oh, not good:  I'd forgotten practically, where I was.  The rain hit the windshield.  A crow flew overhead, lit on the edge of the roof.

Grandma Annie loved Flowering Quince, the first flamboyance in her garden, though at one time she had Forsythia, too, which blooms even earlier.  These blossoms make me think of her, and her overgrown garden.  She had a Wisteria in her back yard, which my dad cursed yearly, since he took time and much effort to help with her trimming, after they'd moved off the Larabee ranch.  "It grows 12 Goddamn feet a year!"  Flowering Quince is a shrub which revels in it's shrubbiness, looks best, I think, just left to her own devices, her own flowering.

I may have contributed to my own off-the-planetness this morning.  Just so you know, I have now eaten a healthy breakfast, have a pot of veggie stew simmering for dinner, and have my work schedule under some control (down to one client, but what the hay, I'm grateful!).  Last night I started a new list:

How would I know an apology was real?

  1. I would feel something.
  2. Some one would tell me it was real.
  3. The world would be a safer place.
  4. It would NEVER happen again.
  5. I would be safe.  As would all of my beloveds.

What do I need apologies for?

  1. Oh Goddess, I cannot go there.
  2. You must.
  3. I need an apology for your not being who you said you were going to be.

This all came about in my search for a "jump-off line."  Valuable work.  I know that these contemplations are only alive in my head, bumping around, making me uncomfortable.  I know that forgiveness, the kind where I do the forgiving, is the way through these lists.  I am grateful for the pen with which to write it down, get it out of the cycle.  This is the de-cluttering I need to do.

I forgive:

  1. I forgive you, Me.
  2. I forgive the past.
  3. I forgive the future.
  4. I forgive now.
To the 90% full Lake!  To the quilt!  To work!  To Love.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


If we go down into ourselves, we find that we possess exactly what we desire.    Simon Weil

Oh yes.  We have embarked on yet another adventure with The Artist's Way Trilogy, specifically, Finding Water.  (How perfect is this?) The author, Julia Cameron, leads the adventure, sharing her experiences and encouraging us, her readers to carry on, BE THE ARTIST.  I am convinced that this whole world needs to pick up these books, or even just one of them, and just do it.  Do it.  Do it.  Do it.  Morning Pages have taken on a luscious quality:  I am having so much fun with my own self!  Even Emerson is getting into the rhythm of this, cuddling and smooching, heaving Labrador sighs, and settling for breakfast when I am completely done.

First List: to be done at least once a day, is to list five beautiful things I have seen today:

  1. Water everywhere.
  2.  My chickens.
  3.  Luna's spots.
  4.  My nose.
  5.  Pumpkin muffins, with fresh ginger.
Yes, quickly I am in gratitude.  Seriously, I do love Life.  I love the sacredness of it, the humor of it, the All Is Well-ness of it.  Gray days can gradually wear me down, yet a list of five beautiful things can buoy me right back up again.

Then, there are the maintenance type of lists: laundry, sweep, take out the ashes, sweep again, dishes, dust the ash off of everything in sight, pick up dog toys, pick up dog toys again, sweep again... (yes, then run for the door, and go to work!).

Mom had these two pictures in dime-store frames, in her bedroom.  She had them for as long as I can remember.  When I brought them home, to my studio, I took apart one of them, to find that she had folded the corners of something like wrapping paper, into the size of the frame.  Perhaps they are from a calendar?  I gently folded it back, and tapped the frame into usefulness, and hung it on my wall.

I love the kittens hung on the line.  Of course, they are in socks, which this photo doesn't show.  None of them are suffering, in fact, they are having fun, maybe.  This morning I put the dogs in their crates so that they would stop racing around and getting my bed and everything in the house topsy-turvy and wet.  The quiet was astounding and delightful.  Just think of your crate as a sock hanging on the line in the soft, spring sunshine.

Just sit on it.  From the book, "Bounce Your Body Beautiful, 6 Weeks to A Sexier, Firmer Body."

Last List for Today:

  1. Sit on it, and not fall off.  Commence bouncing.
  2. Walk, rain or rain.  Each dog.
  3.  Paint: start a new one.
  4.  Write something (more).
  5.  Clear off this desk (all the way).
  6.  Sew the borders on the quilt.
  7.  Laugh maniacally   

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rain and Run-off

Bob's driveway... our hedge!  Big raindrops.

Gibson Lane, river crossing.  "You see, this would be the East Russian River, if not for the levy," says Jim.  Yes, all the natural places for the water to go have been farmed and graped, with roads and houses and what-not.

My arugula bed, the Toulouse garlic, and other garlic varieties.  Um, that is quite a bit of water!

The apple tree soaking it up!  Oh, was the rain coming down!  Now we are having respite, the next storm to arrive tomorrow morning.  This is a nice rhythm, filling all the run-off places to the brim, and then knock off 'til tomorrow.  Some real smart cookie is running this show.

Entertaining this morning to watch the Bay Area be under deluge.  Should I say entertaining?  Not to be rude or anything, but why do people drive in this?  TV shows four lanes of freeway, three of which are under a huge puddle, and the cars and trucks plowing through it.  The announcer says, "well, some people are not even slowing for it..."  Amazing to say that there have not been any big accidents, thank goodness.

A little band runs continually at the bottom of the screen... another 6+ aftershock has hit Haiti!  Oh my Goddess.  Why doesn't some one just evacuate the people to a safer place, NOW?!!  People are dying yards away from piles of supplies, medical and food.  The military man says, "I cannot address why the supplies are not getting to a specific site..."  In the background you can see the people.  Oh God!  Help!

I am not used to watching any "normal" TV, so I am turning it off, right now.  Please, People, put the Creative Mind to work, now.

More later?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Glorious wet

It's an in-house day:  I have a feeling of, "I hope I'm not forgetting something..."  I just may be.  Oh well.  This is the kind of day that I have loved since I landed here, on this beloved planet.  The weather is dramatic, rain pounding down, gusts of wind.  Mmmm, the kind of day that when I was a teenager, I loved to grab Duke and ride him head-on into the wind and rain.  Did he love it too?  He seemed to; snorting and tossing his head, and so responsive to my leg, ankle, heel or the shifting of my body to one side or the other.  We raced through the pasture, through the water rising in the low spots, until we were steaming and panting with the wildness of it all.  I love these storms!

Coming home this morning I saw these!  I had to stop abruptly and flip a U, and come back to believe my eyes:  pussy willows!  Out of the car, I could hear the roar of the water rushing through the willows, through the culverts, under the bridge.  Wow.  I love it!  Oh, I already said that.

Now look:  this is lots.  More than enough.  Rising with every burst of cloud.  The water moves quickly, with an urgency known only to it.  Downhill.  Towards the Pacific.  Move, move, move.  The low places fill with clear water, and start the movement.  Of course, with cultivation and civilization, roads and pavement, much of the water forgets how to soak-in.  Rather, it begins the mad-dash.  Let us not forget that it is managed and directed and denied its natural tendency to soak first, to replenish the ground water, to fill the soil with moisture, wetness, drenched-ness.  Rain water which lands in or on or about urban areas quickly becomes a raging, swirling, entity.  Perhaps this explains the tendency of the humans to drive their four-tired machines out into the middle of large, moving currents where their roads were yesterday and become stranded.  Oh, thank goodness for cell phones, eh?

At my feet lies the smaller world, of tiny weeds, pebbled pavement, and a drain.  Humans tend to think of everything, and to build things that they think up.  Humans drain swamps, fill in gullies and springs, build things on the top.  Usually it isn't until much later that discoveries are made showing the unfortunate results of the ingenious and incessant building.

"Well," says Luna, "when are we going back out?  Huh?  Let's not waste this day!  It's winter, we have a giant puddle, an orange toy for throwing, and an opportunity to drown a pup!  Let's go!"


Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Pacific Ocean, my coast.

Take care of each moment and you will take care of all time.  Buddha.

Yesterday I drove myself out to the Coast.  I stopped and had a small breakfast at one of my favorite bakeries, read some of the paper, looked out the window, drank one more cup of coffee which I didn't need! got back into the truck and drove some more.  The news has been that there are 25' waves, which I really wanted to see.  They weren't that big, and I found myself criticizing the surf:  whoa.  Stop.  This is indicative of my mental state, not the state of the Pacific Ocean, doing what it does in a most spectacular way, as it has done since it invented the coast in the first place.

I love the surf.  The motion, wind, water, wildlife, sand, rocks all contribute to clearing of this cluttered mind.  How does my life get so complicated at times?  Or why?  The pounding of the waves gradually eliminates the need to question.  Life IS.  I am:  This is part of the human experience.

There are not that many places of which I am aware of being filled with contentment.  The Coast is one of these places.  Actually, not just any coast, but the N.California-and-further-north Pacific Coast.  I love the wild.  The cold air invigorates me, and charges my batteries.  Creativity rises, in fact, becomes downright insistent:  do this now.  Yesterday I broke through something; I stopped the car and wrote down some lines.  A poem is bubbling, popping it's way into expression.  Some part of me is coming to fruition.

The (mass media) news reports of the disaster in Haiti have been distressing.  Listening on NPR has given more in-depth reporting, BBC more as well.  My discomfort has risen.  The loss of life, the horrific thought of losing beloveds in collapsed buildings, the lack of any sort of medical supplies and treatment for the thousands of injured, the lost children...  Even in my frightened "omigoddess, what am I going to do about retirement?" thoughts/perception, I do have food in my pantry, I feed two dogs, four chickens, three cats and a parakeet, I drive to the Coast, I sit at this computer or in a chair with a notebook and write, I sew, I paint, I sit and think and pray in the safety of my world.  This is incomprehensible to many people on our planet, who live with so little of what our/my society deems "necessary."  For the past few days I have thought of how blogging, or even writing is an enormous luxury.  Of course, it is also a necessity, but I could not bring myself to open my blog to a new post.

No.  It is not necessary to earn the privilege of sitting down to write.  I do not need to suffer to bring myself to the pen, page or keyboard.  Perhaps tending to this fleeting moment is an important thing to do.  Perhaps bringing my personal perception to the suffering will, in the bigger picture, lessen the pain, diminish some corner of the overall suffering.

Yes.  I will send a check to assist in the Haitian recovery.  I will hold High Watch to the best of my ability.  I will walk again, the labyrinth; I will draw and paint it.  My understanding of our connection flourishes.  In this moment of clarity, a Haitian child is held in Love and Life.


Friday, January 15, 2010

nice shoes

Let us consider the rock upon which we land.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Going for a Photo-A-Day

Emerson, the Cute Dog.

Honest, I tried to upload 3 photos, only one of which was a dog.  Oh well, so it goes.  It has been so gray and weird that I have weirded my own self out.  Emerson has way too many teeth right now.  IF he would smile a toothy grin, you would see rows of teeth, similar to a shark.  He is bleeding and is tender.  It is mildly comical to see that he has 7 canine teeth at this moment.  We need a tooth fairy for him.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Late Afternoon Winter Light

Fog has been laying in the valley all morning.Yet Chamomile opens up when Winter Sun splashes across the field.
It is impossible to describe delight, so the yellow centers face West, into the slanted light.
Seventeen billion tons of wire create an amazing light-catcher.

Today was a somewhat of a roller-coaster day, beginning in the low, dense fog.  My spirits floundered in worry, in lonesome.  Work was fabulous.  Talking with Wayne intense.  Driving home I sang with Rosanne Cash and Bruce Springsteen.  Let the dogs out for wiggle-time and kisses.  Talked to Hilary-the-Life-Saver, who talked me through finding and moving a tiny little lever on the lens of the camera and voila!  It works!  Life Saved.  Call Sarah.  Grab leashes.  Get in car.  Drive one half mile, swerve, stop.  Get out with camera.  Cross road (look both ways first!).  Get down in weeds and click! click! click!  Chamomile.  Drive on...

Let the dogs out to play with Tahoe the Golden.  "They are beautiful dogs!" Sarah calls from the porch at the top of stairs.  Emerson now looks like a small, shiny black tank, though he is still shorter than Luna and Tahoe.  Annie wants to learn "dog training with Emerson," so we take a walk in the dusk, under streetlights, with Cheerios in our pockets.

Tonight dinner was in stages, no; courses. Thinly sliced seeded sourdough with Brie; Roasted veggies, and a pan of roasted cauliflower(divine); a pile of greens, avocado and sheep feta, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  While all the veggies were roasting, Wayne cracked walnuts, and I put together a Persimmon pudding.  It baked while we ate, filling the house with warm, aromatic promise!  Of course, lemon sauce!  Sometime near 10 pm, Wayne crawled into bed with the cats.  He is out.

Kind of quiet.  The biggest noise tonight was Wayne laughing, Emerson had crawled into his lap and was snuggling, burrowing into his neck, hanging over the arm of the chair.  Gads.  The puppy has really grown.  He used to fit on our laps.

Uh-oh.  A Labrador Lap Dog?

Home from the library: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend, by the Monks of New Skete, with the top right corner chewed down.  Here is a quote, which tells me I am going to like this book:

Learning the value of silence is learning to listen to, instead of screaming at, reality:  opening your mind enough to find what the end of someone else's sentence sounds like, or listening to a dog until you discover what is needed instead of imposing yourself in the name of training.
---Thomas Dobush, Monk of New Skete, in 'Gleanings' the Journal of New Skete.

In gratitude,

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Stop. Look. Listen. Please.

An old friend, lying on her back in the vineyard, her mailbox opening skyward, her flag down. No mail today.  None yesterday, either.
I am reminded of whales: first surrounding the herring with bubbles, which creates a herring-globe, then the whole herd of whales rise up together and gobble up the giant fish ball.  Sorry. That's just a mailbox, crumpled in years, engulfed in bark and skin and the workings of a once tall Black Oak.

Having driven by this tree, one of a row of oaks by the road, many times over the past three years, I have often thought of stopping and photographing the mailbox.  Battered by years of all mailboxes go through, by the tree growing around it,  I have fantasized of the mail it has received over the years.  One morning in late December, I rounded the corner to find the tree felled out into the vineyard.  It was sectioned out, limbed.  Done.  The end.

Think of a summer morning, the Oak branches leafed-out, Orioles, woodpeckers and Blue Jays building nests, squirrels zipping through the canopy.  The field rolls downward, toward the river, rows of prune trees with fruit set, roots in deep, fertile valley dirt.  Nearby orange trees, apricot, and lemon are heavy with fruit.  The hill across the road rises steep up to the ridge, covered in Pine, Madrone, Pepperwood, Manzanita and Red Bud.  Oaks do not really grow much up there for some reason. Deer come down to graze on the ranchers tidbits and to go to the river.  Mountain Lions and follow the deer.  Coyote watches for Jack Rabbit, for gopher, for mouse.  The Oak is younger, stronger, can take a mailbox nailed to her side, the road and the summer go on forever.  Before vineyards covered every inch of land, this was an Eden.

The Oak gradually embraces the metal box attached to her trunk.  Did kids drive by and whack it with their baseball bats?  Maybe a promise arrived, carelessly laid in with magazines and advertisements.  Perhaps tender thoughts written out in straight lines, on thin paper, round with hope and tears, carefully folded, tucked into the light envelope with red and blue outlining the edges, with the eagle in the corner.  Air mail, for when it eventually arrives at an air port.  

Oh, that makes me think of my brothers, who put a wet cow-flop in a paper bag and into Walter's mail box at the end of our lane.  They got into some trouble over that, since Walter was really a nice person, and our landlord.

A fox lives nearby.  This is what he/she thinks of this situation.

An Oak Ball looks like an egg nestled in the leaves and lichen.  It was the home of a tiny wasp.

Life has its way of moving on, whether or no I wish to follow.  One of my hopes for the New Year is to open up.  Maybe I am already doing that, yet my fantasy of opening is that it would feel good!  It is odd to me, to have my childhood so far away, to be an orphan (most people are at my age!), to not feel like everything is perfect!  Maybe everything is perfect, and how I look at it determines how perfect it can be.  

Hmmm.   Maybe.
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