Bird Dog

She is not the same as he, he herds, he stays close, he is a loner.  She is high energy, always happy to say hello to anyone, to anything.  He pays attention, but only as a means of protection.  She pays attention to, to smells, to people, to birds.  She watches as the murders of crows wing through the windy grey sky, at the doves as they watch us from the wires, at the hawk that circles and circles.

It is afternoon, cold, and snowy, and she is wound from a day in her crate.  She throws herself into the banks of snow, buried up to her nose, leaping like a horse over some high obstacle in the steeple chase, up and over, up and over, and then into the snow pocket of the fire hydrant.  It is the home owner’s duty to shovel around it, keeping it clear and visible in case it is needed.  And she comes out from behind it with a bird in her mouth.

I am dismayed, a dead, diseased, rotted or covered in lice, little bird.  But as I look, I cannot tell if it is the wind or her breath or a beating heart I see movement, either way this must be dropped.

Drop it.

Drop it.

And she does.  It hops off, trying to fly, and failing, it is hopping in the road, saved from the mouth of dark slobbery death only to be smashed by a speeding car.  I quickly tie both dogs to the hydrant sign.  And hop along after it, trying to catch it as it hops and flaps and flaps and hops.  Finally, it stops, realizing flying would not be happening, and giving up to the giant creature, trying to peep like a baby chick, and uttering such lies as, I won’t hurt you, I promise.

It waits, looking back at me, immobile.

I pick it up.

I cup my soft alpaca covered hands around it making a nest of mitten, it is turning its head waiting to look death in the eye, defenseless with its tiny beak against the lumbering land bound giant who know holds her captive. I feel her heart beating in my hands, I talk soothingly to her, seeing that death is not immediate and  passing the dogs, I tell them they are good for standing so still, but she sees I am not delivering her into their snapping jaws.  I take the little wren to the brambly bush they often congregate in, making a racket in the afternoon sun, although the birds in the neighborhood, have gone from, its almost spring,gabbering, to silence as this drama unfolds.

I set her carefully on a branch and shortly she drops to the ground, burrowing through snow deep into the  bramble.

Later I clumsily throw seed into the bush, hoping she will live, hoping her wing is only bruised.

I worry that I will get lice or bird sickness on my mittens.

I see this dog’s predatory nature, she is bred for hunting birds.

I hear the birds in the neighborhood, they are saying something to me, it is a directed noise, a sharp questioning cheep.

I hear it, but I understand nothing.

 

marley

 

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First Snow

Hard to believe that two days ago, I turned off the heat and opened all the windows, letting the warm wind blow the white and purple embroidered flower curtains like wisps of angel wings over my room, sending a healing breath to my body.  I wake an hour earlier than I want to but rather than linger I get up, make coffee and get ready.  Sancho refuses a walk, his age and creaky bones are showing and it is cold.  Marley and I walk out into the cold windy air and by the time we get to the end of the street the first flakes of snow are drifting down on us.  And by the time we turn the corner on the return trip I hear the sounds of the white throated sparrow, still new enough to me here to cause the nostalgic mental drift to summer in the adirondacks, like angel wings on a troubled mind, sending a healing breath to my mind.

River of Life

“…my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests.” ~Pablo Neruda

neophyte

This is so hard, this rich, rocky, roaring, beautiful, deep river of life.

My thoughts as I am in my bed, the sound of the stream below singing to me, as it always does.  A hard evening, but not too hard, just hard emotionally.  Hard but sometimes the right things, the good things, are hard.

I curse God sometimes, you know, for all this hurt heaped on me, she tells me as we drive into town, you have not had it easy.  No, I have not.   How many times have I gone over it, again and again, this sordid story of my daughter’s father.  With him, until my throat hurts, with myself until my brain hurts, with my child as my soul aches, with my mother as my heart breaks, after the death of my father, after the leaving of my husband.  I wanted to fix it, I wanted it fixed, but some things, somethings are not fixable. And in a branch of the same twisting fault line, I have gone over it again and again, all the bending over backwards I did to make my marriage work, and all for nothing.

So as I go over this fitful in my sleep, and on my morning constitutional, as I go over it, I realize that in this regard my prayers have been answered, not in the way I asked for it, but in a way that works.  I see her grandmother now, in the intense way of this woman in the deep way she cares.  I see in him, her uncle, a snapshot of her father,  as he should be, as he could have been, without all the mind altering substances, and mental acrobatics.  His manners, his interests, his deep thoughtfulness, his intelligence.  We share much, we, this odd grouping, of the son, who is his son through action, and her, and him and me.  With this wreckage between us, and this shining light above us, around us.  We who would not know one another were it not for this, this one thing.  A writer, an artist nay, painter, teachers, readers, music lovers, fishermen, hikers, gardeners, homesteaders, Zen dabblers, mountains, rocks, nature lovers.  Yes this we have in common, but that, that too.

I am self conscious, and in it I am awkward, I feel always the left over burning scar of blame.  I could not do it differently, but I know that the blame is raw on my flesh.  On my heart.  And when I try to put it into words, they seem inadequate, as awkward as my hands without a cigarette (for years) or my hands without a coffee mug in the mornings, as awkward as my hands without a cell phone in the wilderness, a livable awkwardness.  This self consciousness a constant swinging weight on my life.  (How I wish I could cut it and walk away).

I tell her, or try to, and she answers me with love, love of me, love for my child.

But this is what is sent in his place, family that is there for my child, family that embraces and welcomes me, family that finds her a joy to be around, on her terms, when she is ready for it, and family that for what it is worth, is why I loved her father, once, why I thought our child deserved more, more than drunken rages, abuse, anger, the cold shoulder, drugs, joblessness, homelessness, poverty, and deep seated depression and despair.

I think too, on my failed marriage, that feeling I had that it wasn’t me so much and at the same time that it was all me, all my fault.  I mean I know I am not perfect, but when you are with people who are not well, you too become unwell.  I cannot express this well, and have to think on it more, but one way I illustrate it in my crazy mind, is to say, I was never a jealous woman until I was married, I am not a jealous woman now, though I have seen my Pirate only a few days all summer.  I left my daughter’s father when I was pregnant, it was not about the leaving, it was about the unhealthiness, I think.  I was always jealous and possessive of the ex.  And I see that the stalker has her own issues with distrust, since she liked being up my ass so much.  It isn’t me, it isn’t her, it is inherent reason for mistrust.  There is an unhealthiness there, only it is more subtle, and well hidden, with lots of subterfuge.  How did I miss it though, and why did I believe, when all the signs were like billboards screaming at me to see.

And I think, as I walk, of this other thing I ask for, for closure, for understanding, not just of the why, but of my own inability to heal from it.  I have healed from the other wounds, I have become stronger, wiser, more compassionate, and have begun the return journey to the Earth, but I have not healed from that.  But there is no answer, perhaps I will have to wait another 16 years to have it.  I yearn for it, though, yearn for an answer, yearn for understanding, yearn for the scar to fade from this festering thing, deep inside of me.  Will it ever leave my mind?

I once told him, as he was leaving that he was the worst thing that ever happened to me, after he told me, from his new apartment, and with his new woman in his heart, that I was (somehow) the best thing that had ever happened to him, and I cannot rectify this dichotomy.  Because he is, even worse than being abandoned for a sheet of LSD by my daughter’s father, for a bales of marijuana, for broken inanimate objects, the sting of a smacking hand and a seething rage.  It is worse than putting myself through college and being broke for years and years, and worse than being bullied in school, and of never quite fitting in, it is worse than all the sleepless nights of my life, worse than anything I can think of, and there is still no closure, the wound still gapes and pulses, and aches.  I want it to fall away with the sweep of my mental knife, like that self consciousness.

She tells me in an email that I am funny, thoughtful, smart, sensitive, interesting, amazing, tremendously wise, and loved.

He once called me charming, and lovely.

And as I share my fears and thoughts on some of this with A. (weeks before) she tears up, and tells me she cannot imagine their lives without me.

But I do not understand any of this.

If I were all of these things, I would have closure.  If I were all of these things, I would be healed.  If I were something, really something, it wouldn’t be this hard.

Would it?

This is my soul laid bare.  Do not chastise me for it.  Nor should others, these men, these situations, be torn apart…

I struggle so with these questions and seek for truth.

On my way home, in the setting sun and long mountain shadows, I see a great blue heron standing on a giant boulder, in the middle of this deep and cutting river that gouged out part of the road and is still under repair from hurricane Irene.

This wreckage, this beautiful river, with the sun sparkling on it, with its deeply shadowed pools, with its towering mountain walls and its rocky bed, and rushing gorges.  This wreckage, this river is so hard.

jellyfish

 

Loons on a Cool Summer Night

I am cranky and my friend kicks me out, go for a paddle, get out of here.

I paddle the edges, working my arms in long strokes to get away from the camps.  I come upon a mother and baby duck swimming, we startle each other, because I am paddling quietly, looking in the water.  Listening to the quiet of the trees creaking on the hill, watching the sunlight from the water as it refracts on the green boughs of the trees, and paddling through this place I call the Tree Graveyard.  The incense of the pine boughs sends prayers up to the heavens, and I quiet my mind, contemplative, meditative, prayerful, respectful in this silent place.

Jtreegraveyard treegrave5 treegrave4 treegrave2 Tree Graveyard

I quiet my thoughts, and simply  am on the water, weaving my way through the broken stumps and fallen trees, paying attention only to the pathway straight ahead, watching for things that will catch the canoe, and leave me out of the water, or in it.  I see a bird splashing in the water, and I paddle closer to watch thinking it is a duck, but maybe not, because it was making a croaking sound, do ravens swim?  Is the bird stranded in the water?  I see a flash of white, a bald eagle?  As I get closer it is a loon.  I am astonished, I thought they were shy.  I rest my oars on the top of the boat, just marveling in this beautiful sight.  It dives down and I paddle on but I am shocked to see it come up somewhat close to me, I thought they could dive for long long spaces, and I do not understand why he is so close.  I continue to paddle as he dives again.  I have no idea where he will come up but continue on my lazy haphazard direction, again he comes up too close, what is he doing?  The next time he dives, I angle sharply away from him and then see he is behind a stump.  How did he get there so fast.  Then I notice two babies, and I am between the original loon and this new grouping.  Oh.  I am cautious, I do not want to move, I have to move to give them space, I cannot move because I would have to paddle backwards and I am concerned, will they attack?  I sit still and take pictures, eventually they move off but not before they call a few times, and I mimic the call, and then as I finally turn away from them, they parallel my path, at a distance, for a few seconds.   Note you are not supposed to harass loons, they are notoriously shy and will abandon their nests if pressured by lookers, this encounter was purely my not realizing it was a loon until I was several canoe lengths away, and then trying to get away only to run smack into the mama and her large babies.  I apologized to them as I paddled away.

male loon

male loon

female loon and two chicks

female loon and two chicks

loon and chick

loon and chick

goodbye loons!  sorry to bother you!!!

goodbye loons! sorry to bother you!!!

Wow.

Soon I see a big doe and two fawns on the shore, drinking from the lake.

Wow.

It pays to be really quiet, to have no goal, to have no intention.

Restless

I chop the shallots into tiny pieces and saute them slowly in a little butter until they are brown.  Then I add washed and chopped baby spinach and fresh asparagus.  I let the water in the vegetables evaporate.  I beat 6 eggs and a half cup of soymilk.  I chop sorpressa into tiny pieces, and lay them on the pie crust, pour in the veggies, evenly, and poor the eggs and milk over top.  I grate fresh local Swiss cheese, and ementhaler cheese and sprinkle it on top.  I bake them in the oven.  We eat them at the table, with coffee and fruit salad, and orange juice.

I am restless.  I throw laundry in the dryer, and mop the bathroom, I water the pots of petunias suspended under the eaves of the garage, where the downpours of the last two days could not reach.  I sit out in the sun.  And lazy with the heat of sun on my black jacket, and sheltered from the wind, I gaze up into the blue sky.

A buzzard is suspended from in the air, as though hanging from a string in the sky.  Not moving.  Just remaining utterly in place.  It flaps once, twice, and circles around and back to a different spot, and hangs, again, not moving, in the sky.  He does this a half-dozen times over several minutes before he has gone off into the sky beyond my vision. 

Do we all struggle with this feeling of lack inside us?  Do we all say, I am not good enough, I do not do enough.   Do we all say, I am not skinny enough, beautiful enough, young enough.  Do we all say, I will never be as good as this person, or that?  Do we all struggle? 

I think the buzzard was choosing the place in the sky on purpose, delighting in the quality of the restless wind, gusting in burst from more than one direction. But it has found its place, its bliss, its joy, its easy place in the sky.  it is delightful to watch, imagine how it must be to fly?

I PIN a million quotes of inspiration.  Be happy where you are.  Find your light and let it shine.  Let others opinions not move you to change who you are, accept yourself. 

If you accept who you are the universe will too.  All that you want, you have to only imagine and it will happen.  You make your own negativity.

I am restless, my thoughts jump across the sky, flipping over metal chairs, and rattling the bone chimes.  I am like the woman and the cloak, as the wind tears at it, and the sun beats down, she sweats, she is cold, she holds tight to her cloak as her hair whips across her face, she is heavy with the weight of it as the sun beats down on her. 

I think it might be time to weed the garden.  I think it might be time to weed out some of the bits that no longer serve.

Instead of wanting to be the buzzard floating still on the restless sky, I want to be me, at peace in this restless world.

First Robin of Spring

robin

March in all of it’s bi-polar madness, warm days, sunshine, snow and cold pouring rain.  The time change is brutal, I curse the person who invented alarm clocks, and then the one who invented clocks, squeezing human beings into a construct of man when we are creatures of nature.

Tuesdays are especially brutal, I have to be at work 40 minutes earlier, when the perfect time for my internal body clock to arrive at work is a full hour and a half later.  I open the door to the drizzle, a steady one, if I were living in a rainforest, I imagine this rain would have its own name.  And then I hear the song of it, and in the rain with my boiled wool sweater and steam punk style brimmed cap, I search for the singer.  And then there it is high up in the maple tree.  I know you cannot tell what it is by this picture, but the song said it all.

The first robin of spring.

used bookstore

I had a bunch of books that I needed to get rid of.  I know, my librarian friends, and bibliophiles will gasp.  But I had to.  I put many of my favorite books in storage in my daughter’s attic, and brought all my crafting books, and the various religious books, a Bible, the Dhammapada, Siddhartha, my Loren Eisely collection, Annie Dillard, stayed with me, there were however a handful of books I didn’t want for various reasons.  One a book of Contemporary Art with an absolutely vile, pornographic cover painting by Eric Fischl, of a naked woman, lying on a bed with her legs spread wide, while a teenage boy looked on.  When I bought the book it was wrapped in plastic and there was a paper covering the well executed painting.  But I couldn’t even pick it up to look at it.  It was just too distasteful to me.  There are a number of used bookstores in this city but my favorite by far is called Books and Memories.  They buy, sell and trade used books.

Maybe I have told this story on this blog before, if I have I am sorry for repeating myself.  One winter I went into this bookstore, which was once owned by an older couple, one of whom was a teacher.  The place was just overflowing with books, almost like a hoarders bookstore.  There were stacks of books piled all over the store, which, for all intents and purposes covers a full store frontage area a half a block long, one row house wall knocked down to make a passageway to the next row house.  It was close to Christmas, and I was looking sort of half assedly for a book by Anthony Bourdain, any book would do, but I was truly not committed to putting money on the table.  The store was brutally hot, and I was sweltering in my down jacket.  My daughter and I made our way down to the dank dungeon of a basement where the cooking books were, but I grew impatient with the disaster, the musty smell, the overwhelming heat and quickly returned upstairs, whereon the patron asked had I found the books.  I said no but that is okay.  He told me to wait, urgently, insistently, and so I stood there for several long minutes sweat pouring from my brow, and that sticky ick feeling of being too hot of it being dark and having never been home after a long day of work, dinner a diet cola and an oatmeal cookie weighing heavy in the stomach.  He came up, checked on everyone and told me again to wait, no no I insisted, please it is okay.  He more forceful than I telling me to remain exactly where I was standing.  We went back and forth like this for a half dozen rounds before he scampered off to the dungeon.  The moment his back was too us and his body and gone around the corner that had at least 30 books stacked high all around it, I reached out with my witches claw hand and grabbed my daughter garbed in a similar puffy coat, hers turned to the reverse side so we did not quite match.  Lets get out of here, I hissed to her, and like minded the two of us made a made dash out into the street.

The streets were wet and clogged with salted slush and gritty water, the fine combination of salt and sand that is sprinkled on our hilly winter pavement.  And as soon as we had emerged onto it rushing to get into our car, my daughter cried out, oh my god I am so glad we left, I couldn’t wait to get out of there.  And as we quickly jumped into the car, I uttered I feel like I stole something, with that mad dash of a getaway.  And at the same time we both said, you know we can NEVER go in that store again.  It was not long after that some younger hipper, tattooed artsy types bought and refurbished the place, getting rid of many of the ugly and dangerous teetering piles of books.  Thank God, because we both go there regularly to look for classics, and art books, and whatever other treasures we can find.

Books and Memories

There is this feeling for me whenever I am in this store, a feeling that if I look right, there is a book that will perfectly fill the void inside of me, a book that will take all my angst and troubled mindedness and ease the furrow in my brow.  That suddenly some extraordinary book will leap in front of my eyes and I will emerge from the store, a changed person, because this book is in my hand.  I think it is a spell that someone has cast on the store, it is so profound.

I think though that it is the ordinariness of life that we should seek, not the extraordinary.  The stories of television, of movies, of books are all of extraordinary moments, biographies of extraordinary people, philosophies of extraordinary thinkers, religions and politics of extraordinary leaders.  But you and I, we are so ordinary are we not?  There is nothing about my life that warrants the thought of extraordinary.  I am not an extraordinary writer, artist, mother, teacher, lover, woman, daughter, sister.  I am not special, I am simply myself.

I carry out my small purple stool, avoiding the leftoever damp drenching downpour of the morning, slate still dotted with puddles, I place it where the warm autumn sun will shine on me, but I face out onto the lawn with the thought of wondering what creature will appear before my eyes.  I note a dozen or more lady bugs flying around the shed, two dozen box elder beetles like a scene from the Amityville Horror on the window frame and then not two feet from my face a pair of chickadees brave the feeder.  I call to them, and they continue to bravely fly onto the feeder, uncertain of my only good intentions.  See this moment is not at all extraordinary.  It is just another autumn day.  I am just another ordinary observer.

Phoenix Soaring

I do not know how long it has been since I have been to yoga, but I make up my mind that this weekend I will return.  Perhaps it has been a year, or maybe only six months, it feels like forever.  The long term pain in my hip is more or less gone, and from time to time the pain from last summer that plagued my right knee is still a twinge here and there.  Though not nearly as painful as it was when I decided a break was in order.  I have not walked much either, I decided my body was telling me take it easy, and still all the work on the house has created a completely different set of muscle aches and joint issues.  Sore ankles plague me in the morning, and the tightness in my shoulders, upper back and arms is evident in the opening stretches of the session.  I walk in to my dear friend Karen and the joy from both of us is delightful, she too has been plagued with severe health problems, and even when I was going often, she was not.  There are others too who greet me with pleasure.  It is good to feel this sense of Sangha for lack of a better word.  Perhaps that word is just right.

Usually I gripe about certain poses and postures or asanas, but today I have come with this resolve to do it no matter what without complaint, adjusting on the first night only one pose which I feel unsafe in, a stretch which opens up the legs in a split forward to back, that feels like the tendons behind my knees will pop and roll like a rubber band cut at its furthest stretch.  I alter it to a hurdler’s stretch, it does not open the soas, but it does open the hamstring.  I close my eyes, and for a moment my spirit feels a deep feeling of being on a balance beam, or  a log stretched across an abyss, I am maintaining a balance here, I do not want to sway to one side or another.  I do not call it torture pose, I call it opportunity to work through the difficulties.

My dear friend tells me when she meditates she has a mantra that seeks to wish well upon all beings.  I want to be there, though I am not yet.  I have only just learned to not wish bad karma on those that have hurt me so deeply, have hurt my child.  I feel the sting on my own cheek as though it were my own.  She had the bravery to accuse a now guilty teacher of molestation, and for it she was called a liar, called a troublemaker.  He now no longer allowed to teach teenaged boys, due to his solicitation of minors who reported him.  She is redeemed.  And in a flash I think, I should no longer wish the bad karma to flood the life of the one who slapped her and the one who used this as a wedge in our marriage, I think, I should just let it all go.  And I do.  But wish them well?  Hope they are happy and free from harm?  Not yet, but I know as I walk this narrow bridge that it is there just ahead on the other side.

As it turns out two days later I am at yoga yet again, after an hour on the bike and weights for my arms.  It feels good to stretch and I feel the stress and months of stiffness open up my body.  My teacher knows how much I love hamstring and hip openers, and he says, near the end,  grab your straps, and I do, he makes eye contact with me and I raise an eyebrow, he grins at me and says we are going to do a hamstring stretch, I softly clap my hands together making no sound and grin from ear to ear.  He smiles knowingly and teases me gently for my joy.  Sangha.

In shavasana, I think, though I know I should only be breathing,  that though I have been set free, for some of the time I have carried a heavy weight around with me, and as I work slowly, cautiously to cut the last bits of its weight from me, as I make plans on how to create the future I truly want, as I work to let the lazy drift become a focused destination, I realize how very fortunate I am, how good this practice is for me, and how much I love the serenity of this place.

I look up inside the backs of my eyelids and I see a beautiful phoenix, soaring though the turbulent sky.

More Pictures from Paradise

Sun Lit Palm

 

Heart of Palm

 

Water Lily

 

Turtles On Turtles

 

Hibiscus

 

Sunflower

 

White Cockatoo

 

Here are a few pictures that I either tried to include in the previous two posts, and the quirky problems that I was having disrupted that, or are pics that didn’t fit the two categories (palms and turtles?)  I saw a few of the pics the pirate took and they are terrific.  I cannot wait to see more.  I am really please with my new little camera, it does not have a very good lens for far away pics, but it is great for close ups.  I just love the texture on the Sunflower above.  Also the amazing color saturation in the water lily. Both the texture and composition of the heart of palm pic turned out really good too.