Embracing All of This

The dog asks to go out into the bright morning, and I climb back into bed grateful she wants to come in too, it is so cozy and I begin to drift off but there is a nagging sensation that I have forgotten something.  It is an hour before I realize it is Saturday and I am down to three radishes, a dozen and a half eggs, a lemon and a handful of wilted scallions in the fridge.  

I park in the shadow of a tractor trailer without it’s tractor and open the windows half way.  I am still saying there should be designated dog parking all summer long.  It is only 68, this is the only shade anywhere. How hard would it be, to make a corner of the lot safe for those who are out with their pets?

Now later I feel such a sense of peace and contentment.  There is a moment at which you find yourself, in a place where everything comes together and begins to make sense.  It is really just an inkling, but it is there and it feels like it will become more profound.  

I would not have this home, nor my yoga teacher without my ex husband.  I would not have this belief in my personal strength and integrity without the pirate nor would I have known that the problem was not with me with regards to our difficult relationship, would not have my daughter if it were not for her father… you get the picture.  I would not be cleaning my house organically and with such a small footprint without A.  and a Tau sister I lived with who reminded me that there was a time when this was what I did.  Oh. Yes.  The dogs at my side, my ex again, and a Tau sibling.  I feed them pea pods, blueberries, strawberries and sour cherries.  The pup putting her paw on my knee, asking for more.  What would my life feel like without them?

I wash and cut and prepare my fruit and vegetables.  Storing some in freezer bags, some in the fridge.  I slice cucumbers, the little ones with no seeds, and poor hot vinegar over them, cutting up cilantro and parsley from my garden, trimming lettuce to put it on later, with chickpeas.  

My sour cherry jam is boiling away on the stove and fresh homemade scones baking in the oven. A lifetime of having to live poor, now coming to fruition through living clean.  My six face cords of wood on order, I look at this wood stove and do math in my head, 75 dollars a month to be warm all winter.  Sometimes my gas bill was as high as 350 dollars a month, and that is cheap.  I really can get used to this.

I embrace this, it is perfection.  What a gift.  I am filled with gratitude.  

 

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Silence

treemudra

The pain in my ankle has forced me to forego my morning walk, but there is no reason not to paddle.  It is the first time I have been on this lake since sometime last August, but it is like an old friend, and I find comfort in sharing it with a friend.  Who may or may not be old, but surely is older than i am, in many many ways.

I take too many pictures of her for her liking, but she cannot see the beauty that radiates out of her.  She may not be a twenty anymore, but she is more beautiful in my eyes.  One does not review an excellent aged wine and say, oh i wish it were 20 years younger, one savors it, holds it in their mouth and lets its deeper, richer, flavor sink in.  It is a better wine by far.  And I do not focus on her flaws, or know the things she hates about herself, I know my own far too well, they fill my own mind with endless chatter.

Here though, in this spot, I can see that chatter fall away from her, and a goddess emerges, the look of contentment as she basks in the silence, the sun, the shared friendship of many years.  We are like tiny blue and green Buddhas made of modeling clay in this setting.  When I emerge from here, my body filled with oxygen, and love, I am like a rock cairn, a steadfast sentinel in a crazy world.

We talk of the history of the lake a little, my body unused to paddling, of her previous trip to the lake with another old friend, but more we paddle, look at the loons, inhale the fragrance of the cedar and pine, and appreciate the graveyard of trees. This is all a gift, this silence, and shared solitude.  Is it not what life is all about?  I ask myself this question, does one live to work, or work in order to have moments such as these, where playing to take a picture of a lily leads to a vision of a heron catching fish.  Where we count loons hoping for as many nesting pairs as the lake will take.  Where only the sound of the water dripping from the paddles and the occasional clunk on the side of the canoe, and the breeze as it carries us in waves back to the put in.

This is the silence that I yearn for, that I spent many months without, many years not looking for it, or understanding its place in my soul, or my own need for it,   This love of myself, reflected in what I see in her, is touching, and delicate and fair, where I am none of these on my outsides.  But it reflects a strength that is undeniable.

I continue to learn as each day passes.  Is this not the gift one must step into? mudra

Living with myself.

Livingroom

By the time I have figured out its resting place, I am dripping with sweat, the humidity is high and it is hard work.  But in the end I stand back and look and it feels good.  I find myself wishing the room was exactly one foot longer and one foot wider.  Nothing to be done though.  It will be cozy when the woodstove is burning.  For now, two days later, I sit with the eastern light streaming in through the filtered needles of a blue spruce, and a spring blooming shrub.  Shubbery.  I laugh in my head, Monty Python and a random pledging function swirling together to form a mote of my personality.  When Sancho, old with cloudy eyes, decidedly hearing impaired, cancerous and in pain, jumped up and looked out the window he turned and kissed me on the cheek.  For now, he sits by the wide open front door laying on the stone tiles, watching the neighbors cat.

I have settled in quickly, but in some moments when I am tired I feel a pang or two of loneliness, then I notice the thin shape of my ankles contrasted to the thickness of my calves, and get on the scale and notice it hasn’t budged, (for the last 20 fricking years) and I think, no, no this body does not yearn for companionship.  This body yearns for peace and serenity.  I sit on my meditation rock in the backyard, my mind thinking of the kind of lover I want, kind, intelligent, well read, doesn’t watch alot of tv, loves animals, nature, the outdoors, is content to sit and talk quietly, to cuddle and as a tiny drop of dew glistens in the morning light, I realize I am all of those things.  I am fine here, just as I am.  I will be my own lover.  Not in the sense of quietly having sex with myself, but of loving my self.

Living with myself.

My coffee is cold, the dogs are snoozing, and the crystal is making rainbows splash across the room, being content is a conscious decision.  It isn’t an easy choice.  We can dwell on all the things about ourselves which do not satisfy others.  We can think of all the things in others that makes us feel small about ourselves.  We can think of all the things about someone else that annoy us, and the things about ourselves which not only annoy others, but sometimes fester and gnaw at us when we are tired and feeling low.  We can bitch and moan, and want others to meet some nagging need within us, but no one will ever live up to that desire.  I used to tell my ex husband that when you break off one relationship, and start a new one, you are just trading one set of problems for another.  Either way, I have to be content with myself first.  And I have spent way too much time trying to make myself content dependent on someone else being content with me.  Or being content based on what other people call happiness, or being trying to be content while not getting my needs met.  It doesn’t work, and I don’t want to trade myself in for someone else or someone else’s problems.

The problem for me has always been me.  I told someone yesterday that I am a bullshit free zone right now.  I asked someone three days ago, why he was always so miserable, and told him to answer me civilly because I had had enough of him being a grouch all the time.  Later he apologized when he did it again, and I called him on it.  I won’t stand for it.  I deserve to be treated with respect, pure and simple.

But it all started with respect for myself.   And the strength to leave a relationship that was abusive, financially it was a great situation for me, but he was mean, and not loving, or tender, or thoughtful, and the 60 inch tv was a constant assault on my senses and my sensibility.  And as I look around my tidy, organized and clean home, I think no one will EVER call me lazy again.   No one will ever call me a slob again, no one will ever tell me I shouldn’t get a new dog because I am never home (I work 7.5 hours a day 185 days a year, really?  never home?)  and call me irresponsible at the age of 46 or 86 ever again.  Because I won’t stand for it.

This is my choice, to continue on this journey alone.  Because so far, trying to get someone else to love me JUST LIKE THIS, is too damn hard.

Loving myself.

Morning Constitutional

 

Rusted Post and Ring

Rusted Post and Ring

In the dream I had, I was trying to cross a river which was now raging where before it was barely a trickle, and I am immediately swept away, I give in to it as the rush of the water picks up speed, I am throw over a raging and deep water fall and pulled from the water.  The man who pulls me out is like a fairy, only human sized, and he has a magical fire burning bright but smokeless.  He tells me he does not know how to build the kind of fire I need to warm me from the shivering hypothermia of the icy cold river, I tell him to collect wood and we begin to build up a warm cozy fire.  I wake with her body against mine like a lover warm and snuggled, she kisses my hand as I gently stroke her, and then gentle becomes playful.  After a bathroom break for all of us, I get back into the warm bed with my kindle, and then knowing the day promises to be hot and sunny, I offer a walk.

They are a bit off their guard, where exactly is breakfast their faces ask, while they enthusiastically line up for the leashes.

There is a small park near my home, and this is where we wander sometimes, still exploring, still a new place, but a favorite.  I never go to Clark Reservation anymore, it was once a sanctuary, now spoiled by a person who has every right to walk there, but who has smashed my peace in that place, in so many places.  This new park, filled with the people of the city,  but in the hush of the early morning, a solitary woman, a neighbor and her two dogs, and I.  The best part is, I can step out my door and be there.

Yesterday I met an old friend at the Oriskany Herb and Flower Show, sponsored by the Cornell Cooperative Extension.  And when I came home, I planted my rose campion, which will reseed itself ten fold, my two white yarrows, “they will spread”, “I know, I want them for their medicinal properties”, my lavender, and a pack of strawberries in the strawberry pot.  I also talked with my landlord and placed the sedum and hollies as he wanted in the front.  Then I mowed the lawns.  “The house looks great” he tells me, “we both love how you have it set up”.  “Well I guess I am done here, since you did most of the jobs I had on my list”.  I feel proud.

The pirate comes to bring me a Polish lunch, which of course I have to pay for.  He is here not more than twenty minutes, he spends half of it communing with Marley.  I cannot help but wonder what he thinks, when he sees the made bed, the tidiness of the house and the work done in the yard.  Does he self reflect and ask himself, what the hell was I thinking by knocking this woman down?  And I find I do not care.  I like him like this, at a distance, I chastise him for yelling at the dogs, and model the correct way to speak to them.  When they respond, he makes a noise of surprise.  When he leaves I take a book and quiet now, read about Elizabeth Warren in my big comfy chair while the dogs nap nearby.

Is this not bliss?

 

Serenity

Each day is a day of discovery, how it feels to make cookies, to get flour on the counter, to eat them silently, enjoying the butterscotch flavor of the butter and brown sugar with the rich darkness of the chocolate chips.  Looking at myself in the mirror, and accepting the cold sore that has been attempting to grow there for about two months.  I give up and do not take my usual L-Lysine.  I note the way the dog lies by the door looking out at the neighborhood, and when it becomes dark he jumps up on the chair beside me, Marley makes room for him, gracious and kind, and the cat jumps up and we are three huddled on a chair and an ottoman.  I brush him, gentle, mindful of being bitten just a few days ago, he hurts, and I am just trying to make him comfortable; as if he knows, he seems more kind and more gentle with me, coming to me quiet and laying his head on my knee.  I know buddy, panting though it isn’t hot, I know you are hurting.

And when I take down the leash he comes to me, he wants badly to go, and he plugs away trudging slowly but steadily beside me, stopping now where he never would have before to drink from the rocky stream.  Marley races down the paths, and then romps in the water with a gentle push, and then almost pulls me in as she leaps to the embankment on the other side.

Taking note of the sleep, finally, which enters my life through prescribed drugs.  I feel human, I feel alive.  I feel serene.  Do I not now look at my life for more than a half dozen years and ask, was all of it worth it?  I sigh with pleasure as I settle into a chair on the screened porch.  The dogs watch birds and squirrels and the cat waits for her boyfriend to visit.

I go out into the yard and there is a patch of sun on a large raised and flat rock and I sink down onto it, soaking in its warmth after the cold of yesterday, my knees settle and my hands and without thought or effort I am meditating.  My thoughts race, and twist and bend but I am so at peace.

Even my dreams of long lost love have changed, I tell him in my dream, this isn’t real, you are not actually here, you wouldn’t ever be here, I wouldn’t let you.  None of this is real, he chastises me and thinks I am crazy.  I am not.  I wake from the dream, I have found a path out of the nightmares.

I spend the day shopping at the market, doing housework, yard work, mowing and weeding, and shoveling, I make strawberries into jam and bananas into bread, I wash and cut and package fruit and vegetables for healthy snacks, and by noon I have done it all.  I am not lazy, don’t you ever fucking call me lazy again.
Old friends visit, and see the ease of my manner, they comment on it.  I had crossed a threshold of tightly wound to the point of being off balance, but a change of scenery makes all the difference, I feel at ease.  Was all this trouble for this?

The dogs beg to go out, ringing the bells on the front door, they want a walk.  I name the new paths, this one is Jumping Pit Bull Lane, this one is Stair to NoWhere, this one is Huck’s Island Path,  this one is Creek Path.  And what might I name myself?

I paint my toenails in the dusk, and marvel at how beautiful I feel.

Consolation

These walks have become a sanctuary.  Is this life not so amazingly, incredibly difficult?  He pesters me for days about a photograph from her, that in a flash of insight I realize could have been replicated right here at home.  This is the definition of insanity is it not?  This.  And how another person’s crazy can spill over onto you, like the movie Bug.

He walks close at my knee, while she walks ahead, or more, runs, jumps, leaps and twirls ahead.  I let her, we two are old, and prefer the solitude and serenity of this.  One lap becomes two becomes three.  He rubs his cheek against my leg, she bites at me.  But without this she would be impossible.

I am impossible.

I mean it.  I am unsoothable.  Beyond help.

I fall asleep with a book on my chest and wake to her velvet nose on my neck.  Nuzzling me.

Maybe not completely inconsolable.

 

Sanctuary

My bedroom, my bed, my comforter, me like a burrito, windows open, crisp air, already autumn in New York.  Shhhh.  Rest now little one, let your cares float away.

Yoga.  Surprise, the wrong teacher becomes the right teacher, yes.  The ego is loud, and obnoxious and annoying and you don’t have to listen to it.  No.  I am me, I am a bird flying over me.  I am not who I was five years ago.  No.  I am not.  No.  I am not.

I miss you sometimes.  I miss your smile, I miss your silly dance, the intense way you looked at me, the way you read aloud to my daughter, the way we read Anna Karenina together, the way you were before you got too big for your britches, the way you were when you saw me as a gift, the way you jumped the fence to hug me, the way you cried when I flew away, the way your eyes melted my heart, the way you gave up everything to be with me.

I float on the water, or more precisely explore the reeds and rushes in the shallow edges of this woebegone lake.  A heron flies away before I get too close.  Two turtles make love, turning slowly over and over on each other, until they see me watching them.  They look embarrassed.  And the Loch Ness monsters flip away as I paddle over them.  Their giant striped bodies undulating under the thin hull of my carbon fiber boat, I feel them, on my bottom, sliding, giant ugly things.  Last year someone caught a 41 inch Muskie from this place.  Two women sunning on kayaks stop to talk to me.  I hate my ugly life vest.  I wish it were purple.

I sleep with the light on sometimes, ever since you left.  I don’t know why.  Especially now when I just don’t care anymore, when I am not the person you left anymore.

Yoga the right teacher.  After we talk, I tell him how happy I was to live in the quiet solitary woods.  Not to say I was alone, because I wasn’t, but when I was, I cherished it, adored it, loved it.  I see surprise on his wrinkled and spotted face, so youthful, and yet showing his age, his impish smile and sparkling intelligent eyes.  He tells me of backpacking alone in the wilderness where my uncle was born, of not wanting to return, and the surprise, that we are kindred, that we are alike in this way, a thing he did not know of me, nor I of him even after all these years, and friendship.

They sit across from me, shoulder to shoulder, as long as you are not behaving, he says in a co-dependent manner.  Ha.  I say.  I am so not co-dependent.  So not.  Not even close.  I am fully cognizant of my choices, of where I am and what I am doing.  You can be alone, he instructs me, even in the company of others.  Oh sweetheart, I say.  I know that.  Oh.  Don’t I know that?  He of course is at the gun show for the millionth time, and I am with men who know how lucky they are to have worked through the times that IN love was a challenge, buoyed by just plain love.  Isn’t it funny how I don’t have any problem doing my own thing, going my own way and waving as he goes off to do his?

Kateri Teckawitha, I say, I cannot even pray, because I don’t even know what I want.  Or I do, but I don’t know how to sustain it.  But anyway, thank you for what you did for my daughter.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Hot tub.  Me, wishing to get out, now that my limbs are warm.  The music is so loud it hurts my sinus infected head which is dripping from the steam.  My heart is pounding, I am a million miles away.  I am on my haunches ready to spring, like an animal, like prey.

Do you know what it is like to sustain this?  How hard it is, truly hard it is to make the choice to live alone, and that is what it will be, alone, because I will never put myself through this punishment again.  Do you know this?  That my ego tells me things, like you are so fat, you are a stupid fuck, you are a lazy piece of shit, you are ugly,  you are not worthy of being loved, you are not worthy of time or attention.  SHUT THE FUCK UP.

I love myself, you see, I do, this girl who makes herbal salves, this girl who paints driftwood for hours, stroke by stroke, this girl who knits until her fingers ache, this girl who throws the boat on the car and goes, this girl who would rather be in the woods than in this stinking place.  This girl who is a great cook, this girl who recycles, this girl who loves her dog so much, this girl who cries, and laughs and talks in her sleep, and does yoga and rides her bike while reading a book eschewing television, this girl who loves star trek, and doctor who, this mama llama, this everything and nothing.

I do not love my ego though, my God, it will not shut up.

He climbs into my bed, and promptly falls asleep, taking up 2/3rds of the bed.  He snores loudly, and grunts and farts and moans in his sleep.  Not to say I don’t have my own animal noises, but to say instead that he is like my ego, keeping me from rest, trapping me in place, what if I feel sick from the chicken, what if I have to pee, what if I need my joyful cocktail of benedryl and melatonin?  Oh please, I say, wake up, I have to take medication to sleep here, with you.  He goes to his own room leaving the light on.  An hour later I am still awake.  Thinking of my ego.  Thinking of the lesson.  Listening to the sounds of cars on the street, and an airplane off there, flying in the dark.

And now I have nothing more to say.

Except this:  Clark Reservation used to be a sanctuary to me.  I haven’t been there in a year.  I miss it.  Can you please ask her to let me go back, to please leave me to it.  Let me have this one small place.  Because I really do need it, way more than she does.

And I dreamed of you last week, and I finally remembered why I loved you, and I stopped being angry, and in the dream, and for once, I didn’t even ask why  you left me, but I told you this, you were my best friend, and I really believed you and I were meant to love each other for the rest of our lives, and it crushed me when you left.

But I am okay.  Really.  Really.  And I actually don’t even think of you every minute or every hour, or every day any more.  I only think of you now and then.  Sometimes I am surprised how long I go between thoughts of you, driving, in the car, I think, oh my God its been days and days.   What a relief.  What a relief.

This place is a sanctuary.  This place, this place inside me.   This place.  Inside me.

 

 

Glamping at Home on Wintergreen Hill

I am working diligently on studying and learning more about herbalism, using a correspondence course binder full of lessons, that A. has allowed me to peruse.  Each day I look at two or three more writing each down in my journal and drawing pictures to go with it.  It is cooler today and windy, so there are no bugs on the porch, and I sit in quiet contemplation for a couple of hours, reading, meditating, watching the wind blowing the birch and pine.  I am at first annoyed by a loud buzzing sound which I take to be ATV’s in the woods, but soon discover instead a ruby throated hummingbird, and later a grey throated female, which he promptly chases off, he visits the lavender Hosta flowers several times as I sit in the cloud filtered sunlight.  On a quest for golden seal, I have to ask her daughter to show me the fairy garden, where Lady’s Slipper and the herb I am looking for grow, though not with a great deal of lushness.  The last several dry days perhaps have not been good to these shade loving wooded plants.  I tell her, since we are out here, take me up to the glamping sight.  Glamping being glamorous camping, as if there is such a thing.

On the way up I spot this toadstool.

toadstool

And then the tent in the woods, looks ordinary on its raised platform, but it is not until I open the tent that I am visibly impressed.  Heavenly.

glampingtent glamping

 

As her daughter is using the battery operated air pump to make the bed harder, for a future stay, which I am now keen for, I explore the patchy sunlight around the sight, where I discover this plant.

 

Oh!

I remember a walk up the mountain behind my grandparents’ house, my grandfather leading the hunt, my brother and I behind him, and my father behind us.  He bent down and handed us a stick which was mildly flavored of what to me was Lifesavers candy, but to him, was this wild plant.  I pluck a leaf and crush it in my fingers, yes, the fine mild scent of wintergreen.

wild wintergreen

My friend is excited at this find, another medicinal plant right at her finger tips.

Inside My World

 

 

“We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.” ~JOSEPH CAMPBELL

island duckies beach3 beach2 beach

My inner world, this place inside me that is sometimes filled with self loathing and angst, finds peace, finds a serene place to rest in which the warm winds blow and the sun is warm, and the moon rises over quiet small lakes, and streams flow over broken rock, dragon flies dive float at eye level, inspecting me and finding me worthy.  These moments of quiet, these days of learning, this life of self discovery, I am held aloft by the arms of angels, how lovely I am here, in this place where no one else’s love, or absence seems to matter.

We walk each morning up the climbing hill, and down again.  He panting old and reluctant behind me, but never really leaving my side, loyal friend, best friend, I could never leave you, you with your salt flavored fur, you with your joyful smile upon my return, you with your charming hugs upon my knee, I could never leave you, just as you would never leave me for long, not for long.  The other dogs thunder up to me, the scouting dog cutting in front of me and him repeatedly, you dogs whose DNA is so similar to his.  The other, shyly approaches, shy affection, and I can see, a degree of loyalty, which I will have to work hard to continue to earn, when I rise you are the most excited as you leap in the air and spin in circles.  And she, the scout, chasing turkeys cutting back around to me, but on the way home, my own stands by me, she goes ahead, and he  peeks around curves to make sure I am there, before journeying forward.

And this is all a salve, an ointment, made of air, and abiding friendship, of laughter, of years of loyalty, of going away, but coming back because we must, because the love is too strong to leave behind.  It smells of rosemary, for truth, of rose geranium for mental clarity, of citrus lemon, or grapefruit for refreshing quality, and juniper berry for some unnamed spiritual purpose, something akin to being deeply ones self in this increasingly homogeneous culture, a salve to sooth all the broken places, to replace all the empty places or perhaps to make the emptiness bearable.

A moment of quiet here, with its rustic gardens, its mountainous vista, its island of cool, its balm of loving loyalty, friendship, acceptance, its quietude of spirit and centrality of purpose.

I am not an artist in residence so much as a spirit in flight.

Gift.

Gift.

Gift.

Endless gift.

Visiting Pirate

What a day it was yesterday, my whole body is feeling well used, my muscles are sore, but a good sore, literally every single one.  The pirate joined me up here, late Wednesday evening, I had been watching W. while her parents went out for dinner with friends.  It had rained nearly all day, but I squeezed in a short walk to gather yarrow for medicinal purposes and a good weed in the garden before the sprinkles and drizzle led to a full rain.  I sat in the sun room and taught W. some embroidery stitches; she is a quick study and I love that about her.

embroidery wscolors

 

Yesterday was a picture perfect day, not too warm, some light clouds in the sky and sunny.  Maybe the first day with no rain at all in weeks.  The pirate and I went out to the lake and paddled and fished for three hours.  Nibbles on every cast, perch, pumpkin seeds, sunfish, and he caught a big pike, it is a temptation to fish there, throwing back every fish, but knowing you catch one frequently, it is like an exercise in desire, in wanting, the next one will be the big one, and you are there not noticing that two hours have passed.   I noticed my legs were getting burned and even though he wanted to stay out a little longer, I turned my boat and headed back to the car, good thing too because he has a vicious sunburn.  We went into town for a sandwich and to stop at the roadside stand for a dozen eggs and then drove around trying hard to get lost in the woods with a different route home, eventually we made it back, and after a short rest headed up the hill for a walk.  The sun was still up but under the shaded road it was cool and we were protected.  He spent much of the walk moaning and complaining about the rubbing of his wool socks on the burn.

chasingducks

 

 

 

The light of the afternoon sun on the side of the mountain was beautiful, the dogs scared up turkeys and chased them up the side of big hill and then they splashed across the creek to rejoin us.  We continued up to the base of the hiking trail, up the side of the mountain, where the cave is, a spot where the creek cuts through rocks going under on one side and spilling out the other.

pmbarn

 

TREE stream SUNSUSAN