Dogs. · Musings · Strong Woman · Uncategorized

Moving Day

hardwood

12 hours ago I did a final walk through with my friend, and new landlord.  The hard wood floors shone with fresh varnish.  I had butterflies in my stomach with the excitement of leaving this place, of  starting off new.  And now sleepless with imagining where I will put the dog crate or my desk, or if the movers will help me put together the spare bed my friend left behind, I decide now is as good a time as any to update my address on the dmv website.  I will be without internet for several days.

The dog has crawled under the warm down, burrowing next to me for warmth, this pleasure of having a short haired dog; she rests her chin on my bare feet as I pat her skinny little backside.

I feel like a box full of sunshine, my rays all spraying out of the cracks, like a tin lantern.

This last year has been a slog, I have trudged through it, holding on sometimes, like fingers scrambling on rock, at times my soul has felt bloodied and raw.  Or wound tight, talking too loud, being too much on edge, hard and brittle and cracked just a little.  My therapist assures me that I am quite sane, and an easy client.  I love that.  But here is what I love best, I have left this relationship with integrity.  We both knew it was over, a while ago.  And he has helped me pack, we have had open and honest discussions about how it was going to go. I still will, for the time being, have keys to his house; he still will, for the time being, dog sit if I need it.  And every step of the way, I have informed him of my choices and what I would be doing.  I have consciously done this.  Because leaving a relationship any other way is cowardly and immature; packing your bags and leaving without warning or saying goodbye, is weak and pathetic.  I am none of these things.  And when you leave someone this way, it is a brutal, heartless and cruel way to treat them, it results in unbearable pain, no understanding of the meaning behind it, and a vile anger.

My brother had a friend, who, many years ago, came home from work, or a weekend away, only to find that his girlfriend had left him.  She took everything, including the toilet paper hanging on the roll.  And there were people, who advised me to do the same.  But i remember thinking, then, that it was a pretty heartless and petty way to go about leaving a relationship.  Is this what I wanted to do?  The message about myself that I wanted to show the world?

I am better for having done it this way, I am better for knowing that my strength and integrity will always carry me.

I feel like my tin lantern is made of tempered steel.

All things melancholy · Dogs. · Musings · Strong Woman

Discovering four in the morning

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.  ~ Anatole France

There was a time in my life when I was quite satisfied to work the 4pm to 12 midnight shift, I would come home too keyed up to go to bed, and would paint until two in the morning, a practice which changed immediately upon giving birth.  Over the years my sleep cycle has changed dramatically depending on where I am in my life, and this ongoing sleep disorder.  Having a puppy is like having a baby, your life is no longer your own, and you have to embrace moments where it is your own, you have to embrace the life of being a dog owner, a life of some routine, and stability.  I wouldn’t have it any other way right now.

I have a confession to make, I am slowly going crazy here in this place.  And I need to come to some solution.  And the realization comes to me at four in the morning.  I wake because my little turtle bean is awake.  I take her out and we both try to go back to sleep, but it swirls in my mind, like the spirals of an armed galaxy, the  infinitesimal becomes huge, and I spin and churn and roil with my internal life.

I fantasize about screened in porches, hardwood floors where a puppy can have an accident and I simply scold and mop up.  Not that she has many but when she does, I do not want to be the one scolded.  I fantasize about the constant heat of a wood stove, and the ability to sleep in the cool rather than the constant noise and heat of a furnace.  I fantasize about not hearing the constant tick of clocks.  I fantasize about calling in sick and not being accused of faking it, or being weak, I fantasize about not bothering to shovel snow until I feel like getting dressed, it must be done it must be done it must be done it must be done.

I get up, and it is now nearly six.  I break from the routine and am punished by a wet spot on the carpet, at least it is my carpet.  I trudge through the garage, blinding my eyes to the mismatched detritus of thirty years of mild hoarding.  Oriental carpets, on avocado and marigold striped carpets on South Park rugs on towels left on the floor after hot tub, two weeks ago, on top of Duck Dynasty men looking up my pant legs and sniffing my cold bare feet.  I do not dislike this place, the woodstove, the long fenced yard, full of plant life, cars zooming by, a constant sound you become numb to.  I listen in the quiet to TED Talks, scroll through Facebook and sometimes knit or read.  This is the discovery.  Four am, seven am.  The dogs resting, puppy in her crate, where I have to put her for sanity.  Food and walk to come shortly.  But here it is.  I sit in the only comfortable chair in the house, directly facing a 50 inch television, which sits like Darth Vader’s suit ready to envelop my life force.  It looms over me like a gaping maw, ready to eat my brain like a mud pit full of zombies.  Last night as I made relish with my food processor taking a quarter of the time to chop the cranberries and apples, the noise of the television screamed and tore and rent through the house.  I was too loud, you see, for the violence of some movie to be heard.  Not a real time movie that could not be paused, but a video, that could be.  You have to understand, I have been watching TV since I was four years old.  Oh.  But do you understand that I have lived for years without one?  No.  You are always on that computer.  Yes.  Yes.  I am.  And I know I shouldn’t be.  I have better things to do, but here is the problem, my only choice is to sit in this one comfortable chair in the house, dominated by a 50 inch television, the computer, is like a solace, it soothes me when a man in a toupee wearing no shirt in a junk yard yammers on about nothing and when a man with no teeth gives a hillbilly holler as he throws a turkey in front of the camera and then pretends there is that bugger now and pretends to catch it.  Live Action.  Did you notice how at my old house, the one you called cold and dark, the TV was in one room but the dining room and the comfortable furniture was in another?  Separate from the action of the home.  Do you notice how my adoring friends stand awkward and uncomfortable in the cluttered corners, not sure where to put their bodies, or their hands.  All intellectual conversation stops as we stare numbly at rednecks and jackasses and fast food commercials.

I ask my therapist, why do I still dream of this other thing that I really don’t want and was relieved to see it go?  What is it that you miss?  Ah.

I watch the dynamic of two women clamoring for his love, his attention and for the right to provide and care for him.  I watch as one man sinks in on himself, chastised for being lazy, criticized for trying to start an intellectual conversation at the breakfast table, called a clumsy inadequate oaf for not putting something together right, or breaking something else, criticized for not doing enough to help.  Please, do not misunderstand he is an utter jackass, uses racial slurs, and intentionally stirs up hostile debate; I suddenly see that in this triangle I am him, the role I will play in this triangle is that of him.  Who will care for me?  Morgan and I go into the weather to attend an intellectual event together, and she goes first to the back seat and tells me to get in the car as she takes out the brush and sweeps snow off my windows.  I sit still and quiet thinking, he has done this for me only once in now almost three years.  Who will care for me?  I will.

It isn’t him though.  He is who he is, and I know that ultimately I am not particularly good at male female relationships.  I love hiking with him, canoeing with him, fishing with him, even watching shows and sci-fi movies with him, I love teasing him and being teased (the gentle times) by him, I love so much about him, but can we not live apart?  Where I have my peaceful home, where it is my home, and he has his loud and cluttered and walled in home, protected by his things and the comfort of two women vying for the chance to serve him.  They want to come in and care for him, they want him to stay with them while he recovers from surgery, they want to make him lunch, oh but they don’t want to offend.  They want to rush to the store to buy him a new winter coat when four more hang in the closet in the basement, they want to give him money, they want to make his favorite foods, they want to weed his garden. Can you ask them not to dig up my comfrey roots and tansy?  No they paid for this house, they have more say than you.  I want to control my home and environment, I don’t want them in my bedroom leaving the door open for a cat to piss in, I want to be free from being called a slob, from the judgmental eye on my yard and my unmade bed and the dishes left in the sink.  It is awesome to have someone say, I am running to the store do you need anything, to say you have the flu?  Do you need anything?  To say, you are hurt can I drive you to the hospital?  But this?  This has never been my house, and it never will be.

Three hours of quiet.  Soon the bull will wake and another day in the china shop will begin.  I have much to be thankful for.  So much.

Thank you for listening to the voice that kept me awake at four in the morning.

fourinthemorning

 

All things melancholy · Buddhism · Musings · Nature · Painting · Small Joys · Strong Woman · Yoga

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.

 

 

Fungus · Garden · Herbal Medicine · Nature · Small Joys · Strong Woman · Treasure

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.

Artists · Energy work · Great Quotes · Herbal Medicine · Musings · Small Joys · Strong Woman · Treasure

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.

Dreams · Flowers · Musings · Nature · Photos · Small Joys · Strong Woman · Treasure

being in the right place

My Mom has made her annual visit this week, and we decided to take a trip to the place she was born, her father was born, where relatives once lived in house after house, where I lived as a child and where my sister spent the months and years after my father passed away.  I dream of that place, at night,  my visual memory a powerful gift that reminds me in the often broken and disturbed sleep, of places I have seen long ago, but do not remember with my verbal brain.  I could not tell you of these places, I only see them in my sleep.

The hill we once sledded down, flattened for a new house.  The area where we once lived, nearly unrecognizable, but between my mom, my sister and then me, the memory of passages and ways returns.  My Mom tells me to turn around, but I remember this other way.  We argue over trout streams I fished with my grandfather, and confused about the turns in the road that were forgotten.

There it is, I tell her, nope, its not its up ahead, but I am right and we turn around and park on the sandy bank.  We walk up a rocky, grassy driveway that is trickling with water.  She finds a wild strawberry, I am jealous, remember the taste like it was from my breakfast.

photo by my sister AGR the old homestead
photo by my sister AGR the old homestead

And there is the home my grandfather was born in, just a half mile or so from the now renovated old school house he, and then my uncles attended.  My mom born in a lumber camp back in the woods behind this house, whose owners clearly use it, love it.

Indian Paint Brush, orange wildflower
Indian Paint Brush, orange wildflower

 

foxgloveclose

The dogs romp in the damp grass and roll in the watery lawn.  Indian Paintbrush simple, beautiful dots the tall grass with daisies, and foxglove which could be a hundred years old or more.  We do not stay long but take many photos.

yellowpaintbrush

We drive on and after passing a house which was once my great Aunt Lucy’s house we drive up the hill to an old house above the small town and stop.  My Mom goes to the door and an old man steps out I hear him from the car.  I know you.  You are Vel.  He kisses her and hugs her pleased as punch to see her.  I get out and as I walk up he points at me and says, You are a C. (my mother’s maiden name).  I see in this man’s face, son of my Aunt Lucy, her eyes, my grandfather’s chin, all of our noses match and above his eyes, the double lines that have marked my forehead for most of my life, a perfect match, how I have cursed those lines as a scowl, but in his smiling face I see they are just a part of my family lineage, just lines on a forehead.

We had not planned it, had planned against, but later as we drive up the hill, I see the house of a woman my mom has known for most of her life, childhood to now.  A falling out split them apart.  My sister and I want to stop and she says okay.  We chat for only a few minutes but then her husband comes home, he hobbles, old, up the hill to say hello.  And a few minutes later, her grandson, and grand nephew drive up in a tractor.  The minute the grandson starts to walk up the bank to us, my mom gets tears in her eyes, and I am astounded, he is the picture of his father, even in the way he walks, and for a moment I am 12 again, we played together, hours and hours, and lived like cousins, had Thanksgiving and Easter together, our dad’s hunted together, my brother and the boys hunted together, sleep overs and farting contests, and days picking berries in the hot summer sun, and swimming in the rocky reservoir that now hides the house my other cousin once lived in, as a boy, and riding bikes on the same roads we traveled today, hiding in old houses in the pouring rain, while this now old woman beside me, drove out looking for us.

As we get ready to leave, we are saying our goodbyes.  I shake hands with the boys, and am pleased that this 14 year old’s shake is that of a man’s strong, firm, calloused hands, and his blue eyes straight into mine.  And then the husband, my dad’s best friend of many many years hugs me.  Sometime last year he told my sister that he missed my dad, and she started to cry, and there in his yard, he kisses my cheek and says quietly “love you” and I feel teary eyed and for a moment as though my own father has said this to me.

This day has been good for me, there is something about this place, it is home, still.  There is something about family, you can see yourself in their faces, though you have not seen them in decades, there is something in the old friendships that makes you know you are loved even from a place where the ghosts walk.  And suddenly in this day, I realize that I was always loved here, the place I wasn’t loved, was in my own heart, and in the place I settled in because of whom I was with.  I tell my sister, I thought they did not care for me, but now I see that they did.  They always wondered why you never visited, she says.  And the sparkle in my cousin’s eye, as he looked at my mom, made me see she too was loved in this place this place where all feels right.

 

All things melancholy · Flowers · Nature · Small Joys · Strong Woman · Treasure

Healing

He has his moments, this man I call pirate, some good, lots of annoying, some bad.  Sometimes  I see how he is and imagine in my animal brain, this must have been how X saw me sometimes, when he called me common.   But when I come in from the heat he asks me, did you see the flowers I brought you?  I go back out and under the window by the air conditioner there is a bag of trillium bulbs, ready to be planted.  And I find myself asking, is there anything less common than bringing such a treasure, like a fairy king, to my fairy queen feet?  My grandmother told me once in the smoke scented kitchen with the chrome and vinyl kitchen set I see in the movies all the time, that a boy who brings flowers to his mother, or grandmother will make a good husband.  My man brings me, not flowers from a shop, but flowers from the deep of the forest, the kind of flowers that linger for years in his own back yard.  His bright eyes are like deep pools, when I kiss his forehead.  I LOVE trillium.  I tell him.

He tells me he is going out, and I do not ask questions, phone calls,and text messages in the planning and all evening no word from him.  And I am not jealous, not really ever, just annoyed at how young his last love interest is, compared to him, although she starkly rejected him, and they still remain friends.  Is there any more honorable man than one who you never question, whom you do not feel jealous of?  Whom you know, would never shower and skip dinner, only to come home masking his woman scent with some other chemical, what is more common than a cheater who lies?

I am still so damn angry.

lilacbuddha

I step outside to plant my trillium, still stupid and lazy from an hour long massage.  The smell of the neighbors lilacs in full bloom stops me in my tracks and I go and reach over the fence and pull down the overhanging branch.  Three blossoms in my hand, and now filling my private room with their heavenly scent.  I let the dog smell them and he wags his tail at me. I tell him, I found lilies of the valley out back, and you love the smell of those!

lilyofthevalley

Is there anything less common than the luxury of monthly massages?  I say not.  I am royalty.  And my body is grateful to me for losing the weight of a big empty house, I never really could afford.   My gifted therapist works my sore back, and I feel healed, not all the way but soon I hope I will return to the woods.  The president of Clark Reservation writes to me, begging me to return, telling me she misses me.

Is there anything less common than this, knowing this is your place, though his woman still seeks to insert herself, like a can of tuna in a peanut butter sandwich, out of place like a honking goose in the middle of a busy intersection.  My mind is as broken as my heart, but I do not go out of my way to emotionally injure others for the pleasure of it pretending I have no idea how much I am hurting that person,  that is the most common of all.

I still cannot return, whether my body is healed or not.

My eyes are rain on the ocean.

Changing Seasons · Festivals · Flowers · Magic · Musings · Nature · Pirates · Small Joys · Strong Woman · Treasure · Trees

Turkey Hunting Day

It is now turkey hunting season, I celebrate such a marvelous thing.  The pirate rose well before dawn, nearly still the middle of the night and left, I heard him rustling around, and then I fell back to sleep.  I woke at 6am from dead asleep to wide awake, strange dreams of college friends involved in strange events.  The coffee was still warm in the insulated carafe left with my mug on the counter.  And I made breakfast and wasted time watching TED talks for a couple hours.  Then I cleaned the bathrooms, and the kitchen, and did laundry and cat boxes, and organized my bedroom opening the curtains and windows wide.  The magnolia tree outside my bedroom window cast a stunning pink light over my whole room, to go with the rainbows dancing from the crystal in my east facing window.

Work done, I took my embroidery out to the patio, but the sun was hot and I was concerned for burning my nearly burnt skin from a long day at the Crawfish Festival on Saturday.  Only careful monitoring of my sun-screened skin, and making my sun loving pirate sit in patches of sun near the shade kept me from burning so early in the season.  And my awesome fishing hat.  I took my books and boxes, and needles and threads up the hill to where my freshly repainted metal table sits in the shade under a spruce tree.  I trucked up and down the hill for water, for lunch, for water for the dog, for laundry switching, for forgotten items or dropped things, taking time in between to clean the dog mess off the lawn on one trip, carrying a very angry cat up, only to have her realize that this was a lovely place to lay contentedly in the shade and get scratched regularly.

The pirate returned sometime in the middle of the afternoon.  I don’t even know when.  I just know that I embroidered for about 5 hours, happily content in my zone.  Finally he came up and lay in the sun on a blanket for about an hour as I drank a beer, and worked on my project.  The sun was setting into the evening, all day long the pink and white petals floated down on me like snow, but as the sun was setting it was magical, like a scene from one of my favorite movies by Akira Kurasawa, where the peach blossoms rain, tinkling like bells on a crying boy.

Love days like this.

Love, love.

Changing Seasons · Flowers · Nature · Small Joys · Strong Woman · Treasure · Trees

Beautiful Spring

Pear Blossom
Pear Blossom
Jonquil
Jonquil
Petunia
Petunia
Cherry Blossom
Cherry Blossom
Petunia
Petunia

After our ritual of Sunday breakfast we decide to go to a local garden store, he picks out vegetable plants and I pick out flowers.  I add salvia and sage to the front garden, petunias to the pots hanging on the garage, he plants herbs in the garden by the front door.  It actually feels good on my back for whatever reason.  Sitting on the ground, more comfortable than standing.  Take note.  In the back he weeds the garden bed and then rototills it, while I use a unique tool he has to tear up dandelions.  I bring beers and vegetarian chili out to the patio where we eat and continue working.  I sand a piece of aluminum I found in the woods, and spray paint it, art making.  

His aunt feeds treats to the dogs from over the fence while he tills a spot for more raspberries.  And she thanks us for the big pot of purple flowers hanging in her backyard.  Our birthday gift to her. 

Playing outside in the yard for about four hours.

Gardening is good for the soul.

 

 

 

Artists · Buddhism · Musings · Strong Woman · Treasure · Zen Buddhism

Guest blog by my daughter, Morgan, titled “An Open Letter to the People Who are Invading my Home”

sold

An Open Letter to the People Who Are Invading my Home:

You may not know who I am – well, no. Let me rephrase that. You don’t. See, that’s the thing about houses. They form such an intimate part of our lives, and then someone else you’ve never met just charges right in, cooking food in the kitchen, sleeping the bedrooms, not knowing or caring about who came before. Hence the reason I am writing to you. Because I want, perhaps need, to tell you that I was there, and that it meant something to me.

I did my final walk through my house today. Alone. It seemed appropriate. I say my house, because even though it has become yours to call home, and I have a house of my own, a part of me will always be there. I’d like to say I’ve lost a lot in my twenty-one years, but we’re being honest here. I’ve always had food to eat, a roof over my head. Not many people I know have died; I’m no victim of some great tragedy. My family is actually, quite loving, if sometimes oppressively so. I don’t have a lot of friends, but the ones I do have are people I’ve held on to because they’re good and worthwhile people. Despite all that, I find that I feel quite apathetic about people in general. I don’t see much humanity in humanity, if you understand my meaning. I have a tendency to get attached to places and things, and the memories that they hold.

I find it – wrenching – how empty it is here. To you, I’m sure it says “possibility”. You can look at the bare rooms and see yourself there. Do you have a family to fill up all the empty space? But all I can see is where we held Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas and Easter with people we don’t know anymore, family who are not with us anymore. The kitchen is quite nice, don’t you think? I bet it was a big selling point. I can see it now as it was before. You wouldn’t know it was the same room, the same house, if you saw a picture of it fifteen years ago. The old green fridge, the linoleum floor that our puppy did us, and, trust me here, you, the favor of tearing up so that we could put down new tile. We finished the remodeling the day before Thanksgiving. We didn’t know it then, but it was our last Thanksgiving as a family.

We had to paint all the walls in drab colors for you. The house has no personality anymore. My mother’s paintings used to hang in every room. I wonder what you think about the downstairs bathroom, and how the ceiling is painted dark purple, with stars and galaxies. In fact, the whole room used to be like that. It was painful to paint it white, and we felt compelled to leave a little bit of its old glory. When we moved in, there was this horrible beige wallpaper, with brown flowers and polka dots. (How the realtor decided the galaxies were worse than this is beyond me, but they’re both gone now in any case.) My mother left a bottle of hand soap in the bathroom. English lavender. She only likes the smell because she says it reminds her of her grandmother.

And of course, there’s the next room. You may wonder why something sold to you as an “upstairs laundry room” has the distinct odor of Gesso and turpentine. Or maybe you don’t, because you don’t know what those things smell like. My mother’s studio. It was always kind of wondrous to me – I could never capture her skill with a paintbrush. Or with pen or marker or modeling clay, for that matter. I’ve always had this image of her – young, before I was born, when she still wore her hair long, with that artsy, disheveled look, smoking, creating beautiful images with paint and canvas. And I always felt this emptiness, because I could never dream of being that person (whether or not this image is close to or far from the truth is wholly irrelevant). Recently I had this revelation that maybe my grace is in words rather than pictures, but somewhere in my mind I’ve cultivated this theory that writing is something that anyone can do, so it doesn’t really count. In any case, I find that my reality is far from the romantic possibilities I imagine for an artist.

As I walk up the stairs, the sound of my footsteps echoes through the house. It’s such an empty sound that the word “empty” doesn’t capture it. It’s a cacophony of silence, vast, infinite, destitute, vacuous. Upstairs, I start with my mother’s room. It still smells like her – it’s not something I can describe, not a perfume or a candle. Just something warm and safe. She left the walls painted sage green, as an act of defiance. Even this color defines her, and it strikes me now that I’m not the only one leaving a piece of myself behind here. My grandmother made the curtains that are still here – they define her as well. A batik, ubiquitous in the many quilts that she makes and gives to family, friends, charities, people she knows of who are in need of a small comfort.

In the smallest bedroom, I’m ambivalent. We housed two people here who had no place else to go. Two people whom I love in that deep down kind of way that you love family you don’t see very often, not an active love, but an eternal fondness. But it was also my mother’s ex-husband’s office, where he would hole up for hours, and rage if you dared crack the door to retrieve an item or ask a question.

My final stop is my bedroom. It’s difficult to even look at. But I sit down, between the two windows that face the street, where my bed used to stand. Here is where I lost my virginity with the man who is now my husband. And here, I consider for a long time how many hours I spent in this room. With friends, alone, learning, growing, it’s all very cliché. There’s a mural on one wall. My mother painted it when I was going through a Zen phase, which, to some extent, has stuck with me. I hope you don’t paint over it. We already painted over the other three walls for you. They were this wonderful, bright, spring green that I chose when I was finally allowed to dispose of the cold ice blue that had been chosen for me. It – the green – was so warm and sunny. You can still see a little bit of it in the crack between the wall and frame of the closet.

The longer I sit, the more ghosts I count, and you are inheriting all of them. I’m happy to pass them off to you. Some may seem insignificant. Two cats died here. One, we couldn’t bear to euthanize until she was too weak to stand, a selfish cruelty I’ve since regretted. When she died, that was the first in a long series of more serious troubles. After that, little bits of our family broke off piece by piece. Where there were seven, four remain, and in four, maybe five years, it will be down to two. The other cat – this isn’t really relevant, but it breaks my heart, my mother and I couldn’t – or wouldn’t – take in. You see, in her old age, she had lost her fondness for doing her business where it belonged. So, when we left, she stayed in the empty house, all alone, deaf, going blind. I feel this terrible ache of guilt whenever I think of her now.

Then, of course, there’s the front steps. This is where my mother’s husband sat and told her that he was leaving her. No trying, no second chances, it was over. And here is the part of my story where I started down the road to adulthood. A road that I hate and resent. Here, where my bed used to be, is where I lay, listening to my mother cry half the night away for months, too tired and frustrated to try to comfort her. I felt overwhelmed by her grief, inadequate for not having the answers she was looking for, helpless in the face of her anger, unworthy for not meeting all her expectations, for not easing her worries in the wake of what had happened, responsible for keeping life moving, for protecting her, and finally, ashamed and childish, because while she was devastated, I had found love, and wanted most to focus on myself.

Now, I’m lying on the floor and the light from the setting sun is shining through the windows. The house creaks and thuds and settles. For one electrifying moment, it’s so loud, I think that somehow someone has entered the house, but as I listen carefully, I realize that the normal sounds of this old house are amplified by the stillness. In truth, I didn’t live here for a long time before you showed up. My things were here, but I spent maybe one night a week in my old room. This filled me with guilt and loneliness, thinking of my mother alone here, in a house brimming with the past. It sounds silly to say, but the ghosts drove me out; the memories that I didn’t like thinking of. Now I’m clinging to those memories, because they’re all I have left.

I take one last look at the view out my windows. The street, the garden – always wild looking, filled to overflowing with flowers, berries, and herbs. I exit through the back door, to the covered stone patio where I spent so many rainy afternoons playing cards, and to the raspberry bush, but it’s too late in the season – too late for one last taste of summer.

There’s a circle of stone sunken into the ground near the back of the yard. I’m unsure of its purpose, if it had one, but it looks like once, perhaps, a well stood there. As a child, when I uncovered it, I hoped to find something there. I was probably a strange child, because, although I hoped of finding “treasure”, I was looking for artifacts, rather than gold or some other such silly notion. I wanted to find something someone buried there intentionally, a story of who had come before. I found nothing, but I buried my own time capsule there for you, or posterity, or future archaeologists who would of course be fascinated by the plastic Charizard figurine I’d buried there (ironically, I had a passionate hatred for Pokemon, but at the time it had been such a pop culture phenomenon among all the other eight year olds, I imagine I thought it was an important piece of prepubescent history). I may or may not have dug this “time capsule” back up a short while later. I planted my favorite flower over top of the spot. Forget-me-nots. Now, in early May, the backyard becomes a blanket of tiny blue flowers.  Thinking about it now, I wish that I had a piece of that blanket to bring home to my own backyard. But it’s too late in the season, and all traces of the flowers are gone. They must be turned over to you, to do with what you will.

As I pull out of the driveway for the last time, I hope that you will love this place as I have loved it, and as those who came before both of us did. I hope that fewer ghosts will haunt you here than have haunted me. And I hope that you will not forget that there were those who came first, and that little bits of us linger in the corners here. And finally, I hope that when you are gone, you will leave your mark too, because it will have meant something to you.