05 May, 2016

Red Firetruck

Is that redundant? Of course, if it is a fire truck, it is RED.
The first year after I was born my brother got an incredible present from Santa: big red fire truck with removable ladders and a bell. My Dad insisted on bringing it to my grandparents (an 8 hour drive in a tightly packed station wagon) so Christmas morning. I imagine his thrill, when he laid eyes on it, eventually followed by his horror that his little sister wouldn't stop touching it AND wanted to ride it.
But it is the way of the manifest world isn't it: I want your stuff starting from the earliest consciousness. Curiosity springs eternal from the time one tries to grasp one's own hands, and then a rattle, eventually a spoon fork, and sippy cup. working our way up to a cell phone and laptop or books and chocolate mousse. I know this to be true for me with 5 younger siblings who would not, or could not resist my stuff. Dolls, notbooks, art supplies, clothes: all of it fair game.

04 May, 2016

Last carriage ride

I dreamed that I was with my Dad last night, and he was very much alive. We were chatting in a hallway somewhere in house in an urban neighborhood. It appeared to be twilight and he was preparing for a trip to Arizona. I don't remember the exact conversation but he was in the process of dividing up (or maybe collecting together) cash that was going into envelopes (or coming out of envelopes) and talking about dying: But this was all definitely happening after his death and cremation so the timeline was out of chronological order. In any case, I woke up feeling peaceful, bordering on happy. And convinced that he will be visiting me whenever I need him. I dressed to take the dog outside and reached for his Columbia polar fleece, the one pictured in this photo, the one I put on the first night after he died. The one with his checkbook in the pocket. There is so much I don't know, that I don't need to know. And yet, one wonders, doesn't one?
I thought he would be so thrilled with this carriage ride in Scottsdale. I planned it as a surprise, but he didn't seem particularly surprised. Enjoyed it, but not especially surprised. At that point in his dying process he wasn't surprised by too much. Even the flat tire earlier in the day wasn't a big deal for him. It was traumatizing for me, but not for him. He just said to pull over and get it fixed. No big deal, happens all the time, while I am stuck back in "how could this happen to me-land" What I will miss, and try to remember, is that he had a different perspective than I did. He liked to have fun, and it didn't take much for to have fun.Didn't really matter if it was Cirque at the Bellagio, or stopping at the 99 cent store on the way home from McDonalds.
This was a day of not knowing if I would see him again and not knowing if I could come back again. When I left him at the Red Mountain Cafe, we cried, couldn't say good-by and I said I would see him again. And I blew it. I trusted the hospice nurse more than him, and more than my intuition. If I had trusted him I would have left on Friday or Saturday or Sunday, or even Monday. But I wouldn't have waited for Tuesday. I would have remembered the Orsorio saying "weeks, not months".  I would have  left immediately instead of stalling. And I tell myself that it has to be about him, so that I can convince myself that he wouldn't have wanted me to see him at the end: weak, vulnerable, and unable to protect me from myself anymore.
He didn't just protect me from my mother and siblings, he protected me from my own self-hatred. He loved me more than I loved myself at times and for that I hope I will always be grateful.

03 May, 2016

The Lady Slip-her

I slipped off trail and did not even notice. Then two nights ago I couldn't sleep and I happened onto to a facebook link which led me right back here. It was like cleaning the garage or attic ,or a little used closet, and finding treasure. I loved writing this blog: the photos, the drinks and food. And what has happened in the past three years, I ask myself? Two marriages, one birth, two deaths, growing business, newsletters and a new blog for my grandbaby. It appears that I could write for 8 hours a day and not keep up with all my hopes and dreams. And camping, and the BWCAW. The Superstition Mountain Wilderness Area. Life, I guess one might call it. And now it is May, the month of my birth. Sun streaming through the newborn leaves as I hang out on the back yard deck avoiding responsibilities and tasks necessary for the conventional reality we share. Fantasies of travel and living off the grid come to mind as I peruse the listings on "Trusted Housesitter".  Maybe....

10 January, 2013

dear dog

I have watched my (crazy) dog-lady friends for some time with disbelief. All the time wondering how they could get hooked into arranging their lives around their ideas about a creature that is essentially an endless drain on their resources. One of them is obsessed with canine toothbrushing. Another, with an aging dog has thrown herself into learning how to interact with her increasingly deaf companion. And another is occupied with her schedule d visits to the dogpark and the politics involved in increasing the number and the park police prescence in her most frequented location. I had tried fostering for a rescue organization quickly realizing that while my aging cat was in my home that arangement would be stressful for all of us. When she dissapeared last summer, the posibility of adopting a dog opened before me.  Just as my work as a guardian ad litem opened me to the idea of adopting a child, the idea of training a therapy dog appeared to be a more managable step on that path. And infinitely more forgiving. We always had dogs when I was growing up and I felt like I needed a change from the feline approach to life. I knew I wanted a smaller dog, around 10 pounds of less, as I did not want someone heavier jerking my arms at the end of a leash. The papillon breed appealed to me and the search began... 

04 January, 2013

privacy

I switched my settings, which is kind of a big deal for me. I got a comment from someone I didnt know and it turned me off. It felt like a window peeper. And bossy with suggestions about how to take care of myself...and so my response is to just shut the curtains. It works for me. I was tempted to do something like that before the comment came in and now I am definitely doing it. I dont konw when I wanted to just write to myself, for myself and not have it out on a public forum for all to judge but there it is, as clear as day when it is a clear day. The letters I write to other people, the things and experiences that I love and the passive agressive nature of the interactions between some people and others are tiring and I just dont feel like getting caught in them. I is helpful to have the respiratory thing pointed out to us on a global scale. It is a tiny release of that pattern that affects the earth in this part of the world through the bodies of the humans who participate in it. And that is what has to happen for as long as it is necessary. I think I'll just go drink some hot ginger and relax. The pregnant moms are what they are and could easily be the ones that gave me this infection in the first place. Of course I am the one who took it on, for what ever reason and I am the one that is carrying it around. I canceled UMMC not just because they have compromised imune systems but I also have a compromised immune system.

30 December, 2012

12/30/12

Dear Beloved, Here's what you forgot: the flowers aren't to provide beauty for you. They are a reflection of your own beauty, your own nature. They are not you, but they are not separate from you, and they will die. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, as you have not neglected to care for them, to water them and provide them with an environment  which supports their growth. But eventually, they will fade, and wither, and die. They will be transferred to the back garden and be incorporated with the roses, or the herbs, or maybe the martegon lilies. And it wont be a big deal for them, it will just happen. But you, you who  hold on to wanting things to remain the same, you will experience your feelings around things changing. Part of it may be the financial investment you made when you purchased them. But part of it may be the truth in the transformation of death, and the process of discovering yourself in another form. I wonder what would happen, how you would feel about being sick if you just came back to the present moment. Balance on the tip on the needle for as long as possible. Like the tree pose you teach to others, remember what you say: not rigid, fluid, shifting, and re-balancing. It is really more about re balancing than the initial point of balance. There is movement in each of the present moments and that will not change. Where does that self abuse come from? How quickly can you recognize it for what it is? How can it serve you, what does it point to when you do recognize it? Is it part of a larger pattern? Do you really believe that you are not enough, just as you are, right at the moment? Don't just lower your expectations, give them up entirely and trust that everything is happening exactly as it is meant to occur, at the precisely appropriate time. Be compassionate with yourself. At least as compassionate as you are with the people around you. Just a suggestion. Dare to be wrong, and misunderstood.

neglect

I have been taking a break from writing over the past few months. I over committed and look what falls away. Money and paying bills seem to always come first. And now I am sick, and so getting better comes first so that I can work and pay bills. The year 2012 ends with me sipping ginger and lemon in hot water, wearing my pajamas and hoping the dog won't suffer too much without our usual trips to the dog park. I sit in a blanket tossing the racquetballs across the kitchen, through the dining room and off the far wall of the living room hoping to wear him out before I am overcome with yet another coughing fit. The congestion is still pretty tight and I have run a hot bath with salt and ginger for myself. I have finished the first two seasons of "Sherlock", read everything on face book, and cleaned up the kitchen except for the lemons, the citrus juicer, and the blender. Oh, and the ginger, of course. I will take a cold medication and go to work in less than an hour. Once there I will greet my first appointment with a Ricola berry flavored cough drop in my mouth and she will never even notice that every muscle in my body is aching, especially my shoulders, forearms and hands. I will take her health history, and due date. We will talk about her pregnancy, or her delivery, and I will do my best to make her more comfortable in her body. She will pay me and then drive away. I will do this three times, maybe four and then gather my dirty linens, put away the coconut oil, wipe down all surfaces with an antibacterial solution and come home. Let the dog out, get in a hot ginger bath, and soak until the water is cold, wondering what is happening.
Getting sick slows me down, leaves too much time for self reflection. I become impatient with myself and the people around me. I try to stay on track and don't enjoy the experience. I surround myself with beauty and then neglect to notice the beautiful reminders to let it all go, let it all drop away and relax. I feel bad about myself, a failure who allows herself to get sick and over commit. I harbor unrealistic expectations and then become emotionally abusive rather than self congratulatory that I recognize the pattern and can just let it go, take a deep breath, cough up the congestion and begin again. Each breath: a chance to begin again. 

22 November, 2012

Red Appliances


I no longer believe it was food poisoning,
aka salmonella,
in my case.
And I do not believe
it was the intensity of the bodywork
during the 4 days of CST2 workshop.

Today, it appears,
based on resilience and speed of recovery
that it was simply motion sickness,
airport anxiety,
and a wicked, steep take off out of LAX.

Prior to landing
I heard the pilot announce that
he was making a slow, shallow descent into MSP
and I am pretty sure
the cabin attendants informed him
of my air-sick situation,
as it occurred just as we started to leave the face of Southern California.

When I regained the use of my legs,
I wandered into my kitchen to discover a single scarlet blossom
on a hibiscus
I had thought dead.

And I thought immediately:
how stunning it would look with your kitchen appliances
then, when I checked the weather,
I noticed it is currently 2 degrees colder in Oxnard
than in my unseasonably warm, moist back garden.

Balmy,  just like me.


balm·y   [bah-mee]
adjective, balm·i·er, balm·i·est.
1.
mild and refreshing; soft; soothing: balmy weather.
2.
having the qualities of balm;  aromatic; fragrant: balmy leaves.
3.
producing balm: balmy plants; a balmy shrub.
4.
Informal . crazy; foolish; eccentric.


08 August, 2012

Creme Fraiche Curry Crunch


I scooped ice cream for KFNA last night.
Once a year, on National Night Out, the Kingfield Neighborhood Assosciation board members, of which I am one of 13, go around to all the registered block parties in the Kingfield Neighborhood and give everyone who wants one, a scoop of ice cream.
Last night the flavors were Oreo (good but boring) and creme fraiche curry crunch. The curry one is exclusive to Kingfield and sold only at a coffee shop in the same building as the ice cream "factory"
It's pretty much to die for: pecan pralines with curry spices and a lovely buttermilk tang to the ice cream...
I loved it but did not get as much of it as I had hoped.
I was paired with the KFNA director (we work in pairs) and I had imagined that at the end of serving 10 block parties for a total of 4 hours that she would offer a large bowl  or the leftover container of the curry selection to me,  to take home.

She did not.

She dropped me at my car, parked near the factory, with barely a thank you, and drove off
to collect equipment from the other 4 teams of scoopers (52 registered parties)
I, of course, imagined them meeting at the KFNA office and devoring the leftover ice cream
and debriefing without moi! So I went into Anodyne and bought a pint of last year's flavor, "Nicollet Pothole", as the curry flavor was not in the case yet
My ice cream and I went home and I ate it, with a shot of coconut rum, in a hot bubble bath while watching "Burn after Reading" It was the perfect opportunity for feeling sorry for myself and practicing self destruction at the same time. And having John Malkovich and Frances McDormand in the background was heavenly distraction from my urge to write a nasty e-mail to the board and quit in a fit of dramatic self-righteousness.

How dare they treat me like this: carrying heavy things and using my massage arms to scoop hard frozen ice cream for four hours!! Without any compensation and barely a thank you (beyond all the thank yous of the people I handed a serving and the endless comments of how nice it is that we do this for the neighborhood. Can't people understand how important and special I am and blah, blah, blah...I get like this when I am tired and my blood sugar drops.

On top of all that, I woke up this morning with a headache from eating all that chocolate ice cream before falling asleep

I haven't really gotten into gin and tonic.
My mother was a gin drinker and maybe that is what turns me off
or maybe something about the taste of tonic...
I'm sticking with coconut rum for now
alternating with the occasional margarita
and more often than not: coconut rum margarita.
Malibu actually offers a combination tequila/rum/ coconut liqueur now
I'm pretty sure they stole that idea from MOI!

MM and AB are camping for a few days
They'll be back for the family reunion on Sunday
AM is still living at my house
And I'm still fat, but with really great hair thanks to Pat at " Our Gang" and my latest foil job
I ordered new glasses, thanks to breaking my old ones in two places.
I'm going to pick them up after I finish this and see if they have the new ice cream in the case yet...

The birds love my sunflowers and I love to watch them dividing up the seeds
No new guardian ad litem cases for me
No new volunteer agreements as I am resenting the ones I already have on my plate.

Looking at a new mattress, probably a futon...

And business as usual, feeling exhausted, used up, hot and sticky
It is getting dark earlier and I know that means winter is around the corner...
But I don't care because I have a reliable new Scion: with not much sex appeal 
but 1 year of free maintenance and 3 year warranty.

I love my work, but it is intensely physical and sometimes I just burn out.

C'est la vie!

PS I am writing a lot more...and it's really fun

Are you sticking with gin and tonic?
What about the Lillet: I'm sure it misses you, and wonders why you like gin and tonic better...

I think it's asswhole, not asshole, except for our sons and son in laws
And then, sometimes I even wonder about them
But I am totally wrong: All of our sons and daughters are perfectly imperfect
And let's leave it at that...

Actually there is nothing wrong with men except for the fact that too many women don't want to have sex with them and that gets to them after a while.  And a growing number of women don't want to have committed/long term relationships with them and they know about the research that shows that men who live alone die sooner and are ill more often.
That has got to hurt, and bring up feelings of desperation.
Plus the ones who have alienated their kids probably feel abandoned and cant handle that either
Then they get scared, buy guns and shoot them

Back to work!
Or retail therapy, both are important...

05 August, 2012

Whidbey Island


Whidbey would definitely be a good fit for you.
I have a client who is buying land on Orcas for her not too distant retirement.
Although I'm not sure she will ever really retire, she's way too good at what she does
(she's a social worker/therapist)
I would love to live near the ocean or water, ie Lake Superior
But I am loving my life right now and the freedom that has come into it from working at Blooma
I'm tempted to stop seeing people at my house and sell it.
First time I felt like that!

The weather is lovely today. This is the stuff we dream about: no humidity, sunshine, no wind...
Flowers everywhere, and lovely food to eat.
Adam and I seem to have reached some ease in our interaction,
interesting discussion, he is filled with wisdom and compassion at moments
and quite skilled at expressing himself. It surprises me as I think of him as "just a kid"
most of the time and wonder when he's moving out, getting a "real" job and paying bills
like an "adult". It appears that I get lost in the literal stereotypical definitions of parent/child
relationship and stuck in my own tendency toward co-dependency with my value dependent on how many people I can get to like me.
Silly, but there it is...and then I "see" it happening and back off, giving myself a little more distance to become authentic again
neutral and mirror-like rather than acting out some drama going on in my head like a soundtrack.

The birds love my sunflowers and when I sit in the front porch I can watch them swooping in for a snack
The yellow ones are so yellow its hard to be objective and like them as much as the brown ones
which are drab in comparison...I actually spent some time clearing weeds and saplings last week
and now it all looks a little more organized without a rigid, pretentious flavor found in some more formal gardens.

Any news about the organ? Or the house? or M's wedding? Or the nature of the universe.
Last month I tried to cancel my voice lesson as I had not practiced at all. But the teacher would have none of that...
she said she used to show up for lessons all the time without practicing and it simply made her a better sight-reader!
I really like her, she seems to be very non-judgemental and loose but talented and skilled and just not trying to prove anything
in the music department. She's from St Olaf, and has an amazing ear but also other interests such as quilting, needlework,
and biking. She's doing the breast cancer ride this weekend and is one of the top fundraisers.
She has me singing fun stuff: show tunes, pop stuff, as well as the "Indian Queen" (Purcell)

Five pregnant ladies lined up for massages today starting at 1:30 my time.
Some of them younger than our daughters, a sobering thought.
I guess I got over the grandchild thing, I simply don't feel the same interest or enthusiasm
for it that I felt at one time. Maybe it was more of a compulsion than enthusiasm
I notice I occasionally get obsessed/absorbed with an idea and have difficulty putting it down
and on the other hand I have reluctance around trying to look honestly at what it might be about:
what it might be that I feel is lacking in myself that I would replace with a pet or a grandchild or new furniture
or a new car or a new coat of paint. Sometimes I just want something to be different as I feel sadness about the way
my world is now. Yet I can find nothing to complain about and much to celebrate in spite of the fact this is not what I imagined my life to be like at this point on the edge of 60 years old.

I thought that the "love of my life" would be very different than what I have now. I wonder what was I thinking, if I actually was thinking at all. Perhaps I was simply fantasizing and not having very realistic expectations in my fantasy.
Superheroes, super musicians, super dancers, super financial wizards.

Now I have developed these amazing bodywork skills which provide unusual insight into the nature of healing
and I'm not quite sure where to go from here.
I am resentful when I work at the U of M hospital, I feel unappreciated and undervalued
yet that is and was always like that. And not true in so many cases...So many of the people I touch are incredibly
appreciative, without measure, and I can close my eyes to that or accept it for what it is: an acknowledge of our relationship
which begins before I walk into the room and lingers after I leave for the day.

I bought bacon to make bacon, tomato, avocado sandwiches on this amazing artisan cheddar/jalapeno bread.
After I cooked the bacon I just ended up eating it all without ever making a sandwich.
What is up with that? Crazy? Lazy? Or brilliant and spontaneous? A rule breaker...creative beyond imagination.
Funny as anything, and now the bread's gone, the bacon is way gone as are the avocados. Only the tired tomato is left
with wrinkled skin and flavorless from sitting in the refrigerator for too long. Nutrition leached out by the no-defrost
feature of my shiny new Maytag unit I guess the tomato still has some value as fiber, but it is tasteless without the bacon.
As I write this I have decided to fry eggs and the sad tomato in the left over bacon grease
and pour Alfredo sauce over the whole thing.
But no bread, because I'm cutting calories.
Oh, maybe just a little of the leftover cornbread from yesterday.

Later, my friend!

16 July, 2012

Scary Dream

scary dream: work up and went to the bathroom to find the environment altered with a peanut butter sandwich and peanut butter smeared all over the porcelain pedestal sink and some sort to book-holder on the toilet tank for kids to amuse themselves on the "potty" Slowly it dawned on me: I wasn't alone, someone had left their kids in my house as a kind of drop-in, self service day care and they had run wild without supervision. I was furious thinking my daughter had agreed to the arrangement, or perhaps my son, and then just left the kids there hoping I would take care of them and, obviously to me, clean up after them. I started screaming and having a temper tantrum/fit to get them out of the house and clean up the mess. the parents somehow appeared and took them away packing up most of their stuff but leaving the mess, the smeared peanut butter and crusts. I found my son sleeping on a couch in an office/family type room and he knew nothing about the arrangement and hadn't heard the altercation in the other rooms and knew nothing about how the children ended up in my home. Which led me to believe that my daughter had arranged it but she hadn't been around for a very long time and wasn't expected to return in the near future. I felt really bad when I woke in the atmosphere of the dream. Really wrong and like I had done something terribly politically incorrect. I felt shame on me that I over reacted, reacted so vehemently, hatefully about those kids being in my house and messing with stuff. It reminded me of how I feel about my son living at home, and the mess I see in his wake which doesn't get picked up or cleaned unless I attend to it. I feel mean and somewhat petty in my demands, yet they are authentic even if they are founded in neurotic experiences of my childhood. It does remind me somewhat of my childhood and my mother. And working at Blooma and thinking, wondering if KW is saying bad things about me to SS. My reaction to AK's e-mail, and all the little things that come up that I try to be intentional about and then totally blow it. At least blow it in my perception. I try to look at the people that love my work, that are truly inspired by my work and I feel so grateful. I remind myself of what Upledger wrote about being authentic rather than making attempts to be "likable" and liked by everyone. There will always be people who do not like us and they will sometimes be the ones that also love us in other times and at other times.  And yeah, I felt an overwhelming sadness and cried as I sat in this dream energy, pondering the images and feelings. How is it that it is relatively easy to tune into other peoples feelings. without much skill in tuning into my own. And respecting them for what they are, and as real and important, worth considering and releasing them without resistance of the usual sort. Then I end up feeling callous and like I didn't respect their importance enough. Like the Valerie thing. I just really don't feel that bad about her anymore. I miss her, but I don't feel like I want her back. Oh shit! It's sort of like my ex-husband: I don't feel like I want him back, I cant say tons of good things about him, yet I miss that part of myself I was when I was with him. The part that tried everything to tolerate the pain and distrust, that tried to make it work out, to understand and accept myself and the part of me that want it, needed it to be perfect for whatever reason that was important. And now I just want to pay my bills doing something I feel is valuable. Yesterday I met with a massage client who originally came to me with horrible cramps in her gastroc/soleus. When I asked her about them she said they "just went away" When I asked her how that happened, she said it must have been the potassium

08 June, 2012

Angry Ants

I woke up late and missed the window of time available to water the garden. It's my morning meditation, a time for checking in with the progression of nature and the summer through the creatures and flora that live here. I have spent significantly  more time this year than the last few years due to the wedding reception. Understandably, as I wanted it to look a bit more groomed than normal as the ceremony would be held at the landscape arboretum in one of the more formal English garden areas. I cannot hope to compete with those resources available to the State of Minnesota but I was willing to put forth a little extra effort, sink a few new rose bushes, clear out some of the more invasive plants which were running rampant and fill in with colorful annuals where necessary. The black ants are tiny. It is easy to underestimate their fierce devotion to protecting the area they have staked out as their own. Granted, I have allowed them to appropriate a significant portion of my herb and strawberry garden.  I hoped they would appreciate my past generosity and leave quietly, without a fight as I reclaimed that land for my own use. I was mistaken. Now I find both my arms covered with angry welts as I search the Internet for remedies to relieve the itching and prevent infection.  In the meantime, this delicate blossom has opened near the ant colony to remind me that even the smallest residents of my garden have a place. My cat has disappeared. She had been neglecting her food dish for a few days and was spending an increasing amount of time outside. In the past she always came in at night to sleep. Perhaps she is gone, or an an extended break. I hope that she is not suffering. But if it is her time to go, I will not stop her, and if she has decided to live somewhere else, I wish her the best in her new home. More than I can say for some of the other people in my life who have moved on without so much as a thank you. Bad manners can be found everywhere, in every back yard, and mine is no exception. Now for the baking soda paste, applied to each angry welt....

07 June, 2012

Happy Place


Retail therapy

There is something for everyone at the Goodwill, so in need of a little retail therapy I head for the nearest location. I rarely have time to look at everything one trip I might just go for books. Then another time I will focus on shirts or pillows or margarita glasses. I find that when I limit myself I limit my frustration. My friend L met Bill Holm almost a decade ago. He invited her to play piano duets with him. Now he's dead, without the duets playing ever happening and as I read his "Heart can be filled..." I wonder if his heart was full or if he had been hoping for a little more time. I imagine myself walking in Paris, the smells and sounds becoming familiar, almost second nature. The food inviting, tempting. Yesterday as I sat on the patio of Salut eating smoked salmon, cheese and crostini with my friend D,  I imagined that we were in Paris, pausing from our walk in the area of Pere Lachaise.

Birth Story

The pregnant Martagons have given birth to themselves. And it is a joy to wake to their charming colors and their subtle majesty. They are in a shady part of my garden so they last a long time considering the quick demise of the delicate plants in the full sun. My back garden looks pretty good, meaning organized and tidy. The front is another story: a story of crazy wildness and hidden boundaries. A struggle for water as roots grow in and around each other in an attempt to get to the water first. MM is a master gardener and consequently she is saddled with the task of maintaining order in her garden by finding homes for the unwanted progeny of her lovely martagons. I have ecstatic to be a foster mom to her precious lilies. In return I have gifted her with a few of my prolific foxgloves.

I fantasize about a fox like the one I fed at Kew gardens when I was visiting my daughter in London. Yes, that's right: I fed the fox most of my apple., and would have even if he hadn't looked particularly fragile and beaten up. My son in law calls him a "crack" fox in jest, I hope. He appeared to have been in some sort of altercation and come out the worse for his efforts. Hair shaved and a line of stitches along one side of his body. Perhaps it was a female and had been spayed... Does the British medical system include wildlife? How wild was he if he was eating an apple out of my hand? Raising my kids with Roald Dahl stories filled with foxes has created a warm place in my heart for foxes. The fabulous Mr Fox is very real to us when searching the bushes at Kew garden for his location.

The call of the cardinals overhead, the fragrance of the currently blooming roses and a glass of iced Jasmine tea and I am ready for summer. School is out and AB is in the process of moving his classroom beginning with packing up all his art supplies. Last year he simply changed rooms, so he has had a chance to go through the process of culling the less necessary items from his inventory of teaching materials. This summer will bring a change of buildings as the whole elementary school moves across the freeway. We are all slowly recovering from the "high" of the wedding. And at the end of the week the happy couple will leave for the Sonoma Coast to camp at Wright's Beach and walk among the giant redwoods of Armstrong Woods.  Heading east. across the mountains to Napa they will eat the duck confit they dreamed about for their wedding dinner in Calistoga at "All Seasons Bistro". In the meantime I will be in the back garden, watching the Montmorency cherries turn red and wondering if it is too late to harvest the rhubarb!






31 May, 2012

Iris, out of focus

It is so insightful that when you get too close to something with an iPhone it is out of focus and the background is easier to see. It's a subtle reminder to step back and look at the bigger picture without becoming overly focused on the details. Real life is like that idea and I can never be reminded of it too often. Not that I have serious memory loss, I just have conventional reality and my home culture saying "look at this!" every few minute there is something so distracting and interesting grab our attention and like many of us I am easily distracted. I worked in the garden, as a kind soul, a master gardener, had just this morning gifted me with lilies that need to be planted 5 minutes ago. This deep purple iris was looking over my shoulder as I removed an overgrowth of water sucking phlox and bluebells which had taken over an area I had planted with something shy, and non-invasive like delphinium. They have all but disappeared and think it would just take a moment of my time I grabbed the shovel and began removing the phlox. Two hours later it was deep dusk and I could barely see as I planted the lilies in the rich, newly vacated soil. Now my anterior deltoids are screaming and I still haven't watered the new foster plants. I can barely see the purple Japanese iris and I am exhausted after a full day of work and errands. I promise myself that I will get up early to water the transplants,  I give the pots of tomatoes waiting to be thinned and forget to harvest the lettuce as I head for people food and soap, in the reverse order. It is the last day of May 2012 and it is with wistful sadness that I say good by watching the fairy lights glow like fireflies. My kids act like I'm cra-cra when I talk about the plants talking to me. And of course they don't speak English/American! But they definitely will communicate with anyone willing to listen. My daughter, who is too smart to know any better says I am simply projecting, personifying and that it's not true at all: the bog doesn't care if I visit or not. She is something of a pragmatist in spite of the fact she describes herself as a pagan, a shamanist, and pays homage to "the ancestors" without ever having an awareness of who are those ancestors, when push comes to shove? they are not separate from us that they need to be somehow "re-membered"... they live in our flesh. Top of the list for tomorrow: water new plants.....

30 May, 2012

pregnant martagon

The martagons like their new home so much that they had babies. Where last year I planted 3 orphans I now have 12. It is amazing to me in spite of the fact that other plants, some consider weeds, have also propagated in the same semi shade area. I just did not expect that something so beautiful would also take over the little garden space in my back yard. As I watch the plant prepare to flower I am awed by the process. And it is one of the happy places I visit when my stress hormones get a little higher than is comfortable for me. The benefits of keeping the stress hormones in check are many and all positive as far as I am concerned. It is all too easy for me to fall into my old victim mentality and then feel the stress hormones associated with the pattern come up again. It is like an addiction and as I wait for the cloud to pass I make an honest attempt to shift my focus to a happier place, a place I feel safe and nurtured. Photos are definitely helpful.

29 May, 2012

Foxgloves

It was a cold and snowy March when I boarded a plane for London to visit my daughter and her boyfriend. I planned to spend time at Kew garden stalking the fox that had befriended my daughter and made her smile in spite of other disappointments she found in the UK. She met me at Heathrow, smiling and with a plan for dealing with jet lag. We were just a few tube stops from Kew and so after a short ride we made our way to a tea shop and ordered a proper English tea. It felt like we had been separated for years rather than months and she had lost a noticeable amount of weight due to her financial challenges. I planned to order without restraint and eat only as much as I wanted packing the unfinished portions "to go." We came back again to Kew and spent the entire day in the gardens leisurely searching for the fox from the pictures she had sent me. 

25 May, 2012

peonies

Peonies and yellow roses are so perfect together. What a lovely bridal bouquet.

24 May, 2012

post-wedding euphoria


The wedding has started to fade into the background. The last out of town guests have flown away and my countertops have been degreased and shined with Mrs Meyer'sbasil  spray cleaner leaving the whole space therapeutically ready for something new to be born. The last chafing dish has been returned and the last catering bill settled. Life has returned to a certain equilibrium, not the same, but balanced in a new and different way than before the vows were spoken. We talk about unconditional love but it takes a long time and much experience before we realize what that means. And doesn't mean. Bottom line it doesn't mean you get to hit me or our kids. You don't get to use them emotionally to make yourself feel more powerful by undermining their dreams and their self esteem. It doesn't mean you get to walk them down the aisle due to some kind of propietory biological connection which you have neglected to honor, day after day for years. Unconditional love can only happen for us from a distance now due to your erratic behavior and empty promises.

23 May, 2012

procession


Her Mom walked her slowly down the stairs knowing that it was their last time in this particular relationship. It seemed like such a brief distance this space separating them from her future partner. Surrounded by a few close friends and relatives, with her Grandfather waiting at the bottom of the stairs. Divorced twice, her Mom had no illusions about the obstacles that waited for two people building a life together. The fragrance of Korean lilacs filled the air as the bridegroom waited with his family. As they descended her Mom whispered her name. Without turning her head, the bride said "what!"Without making taking their eyes from the scene in the garden below them, the mother of the bride simply paused for a moment and said, "I love you." 
Tears rolled slowly down their faces as her elderly Grandfather took her other arm and escorted her around the circle of bricks to where her groom waited.  Her brother officiated the ceremony and they repeated their vows following his lead. As they made their way up the stairs they left the garden as husband and wife, changed yet somehow still the same. Filled with the sweetness of their hopeful promises he led her through the other gardens, heavy with the fragrances of the peonies blooming on either side of the path. Surrounded by loving friends and devoted family they were held in a cloud of wishes for all the best, for triumph and success in discovering new aspects of their lives together without losing sight of their dreams.

22 May, 2012

3rd reading: On Marriage


      Then Almitra spoke again and said, "And what of Marriage, master?" 
      And he answered saying: 
      You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. 
      You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days. 
      Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. 
      But let there be spaces in your togetherness, 
      And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. 
      Love one another but make not a bond of love: 
      Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. 
      Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. 
      Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. 
      Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, 
      Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. 
      Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. 
      For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. 
      And stand together, yet not too near together: 
      For the pillars of the temple stand apart, 
      And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow. 

2nd reading: On Love

Kahlil Gibran 

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden. 

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth. 

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast. 

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart. 

But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love. 

When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, "I am in the heart of God."
And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. 

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

1st reading: Looking for your Face






















From the beginning of my life
I have been looking for your face
but today I have seen it
Today I have seen
the charm, the beauty,
the unfathomable grace
of the face
that I was looking for
Today I have found you
and those who laughed
and scorned me yesterday
are sorry that they were not looking
as I did
I am bewildered by the magnificence
of your beauty
and wish to see you
with a hundred eyes
My heart has burned with passion
and has searched forever
for this wondrous beauty
that I now behold
I am ashamed
to call this love human
and afraid of God
to call it divine
Your fragrant breath
like the morning breeze
has come to the stillness of the garden
You have breathed new life into me
I have become your sunshine
and also your shadow
My soul is screaming in ecstasy
Every fiber of my being
is in love with you
Your effulgence
has lit a fire in my heart
for me
the earth and sky
My arrow of love
has arrived at the target
I am in the house of mercy
and my heart
is a place of prayer

Wedding cake

Through all the preparations I wonder what was my bottom line. At a certain point I realized: cake and champagne. So I focused on those two aspects of the celebration and it worked out beautifully. Of course the whole day and the preparations leading up to the event were quite lovely, but the cake and the Chandon were my "carrot, so to speak. They kept me grounded, centered and focused in the moments that I began to digress or over commit.

04 April, 2012

Being Flynn

Once a week I spend most of the day at the U of MN Landscape Arboretum. It's my "Sunday",  A day of reflection on the aspects of my life I usually screen out or keep on the back burner while the front burners boil away with my job, and other immediate concerns, tasks, errands. But for that one day, in nature, away from the city sounds I observe myself attempting to impose structure on what is intended to be an open experience of simply being, as opposed to my usual approach of "doing" I leave my list of chores behind and close the gap between the day before and the day after my "Sunday" I just watch the birds  and the progress of the seasons. I listen to the plants. And my own inner voices. I look for poetry and watch the creative process of the earth.  It is my gift to myself. I just notice what is happening and where my attention goes as I walk through the landscape. The staff is always working on projects: re-roofing, cleaning various beds, rearranging beds, removing and storing the snow fences...I am thinking about the movie I saw last night: Being Flynn. I didn't really research it much before I decided to attend. Honestly, I had forgotten it was my Saturday night, as my schedule has changed and now Weds is my Sunday. I vaguely remembered seeing the previews and thinking that it reminded me of my kids, both of whom are avid writers, one of whom has recently won an amazing grant to publish her latest short story. And this movie is about writing, and the stories we tell people about our experiences and our lives. The stories that give us dignity and offer us a chance for self respect instead of self hatred, self destruction. I recently realized how deeply ingrained my self hatred has been and how it has nearly destroyed me at times. The movie, with it's vivid and accurate portrayal of homelessness, addiction and life on the streets reached a memorable climax that brought me to tears and grief as I started my car. The words of this derelict father, guilty of a plethora of sins was a shining, blindingly brilliant act of grace. And apparently conscious, in spite of his mindless pain and suffering on the streets of Boston. My kids, like the hero in the movie, are the genuine writers with heart wrenching stories of courage and inspiration, determination and joy. I am a "wanna-be", with endless skills in gathering information and a brilliant field researcher. I scribble hoping that one day they will uncover my notes, my raw material and make some sense of it by putting it in the proper context. As I watched the hero blaming himself for his parents decisions, I recognized how often my own parents appeared to blame me for the unpleasantness in their own lives. And how it watered my self hatred and my unrealistic belief that I had control over other peoples lives. And disguised the truth that I had unmeasurable power in my own life and experiences. That I had created and participated in each event, every experience willingly, yet without understanding the full extent of the resonance in my creation. And now, riding in the car next to my daughter, a thin ray of light shines on the landscape of my today, making the inspiration a little more vivid, more naked, inexplicably obvious, in spite of the too common belief that we are victims of our circumstances. 

18 March, 2012

Wedding update

When this site was selected, and the date was set I wondered if it was too early in the season to have an abundance of foliage and flowers in this setting. Last year this area was covered with snow for a very long time. By the same date last year there were few green tips peeking through the ice and straw. This year has been mild, balmy at times. And today the tulips are up, crocus and the snowdrops are blooming. Not just one or two, but alot and green tips of hosta are peeking through the dead leaves and straw. I imagine it will be in full blossom by the time  we all stroll down to the Knot Garden and witness them tying "the knot". Two separate, independent strings coming together, in accord, to state their intentions to explore a greater intimacy, committed to personal authenticity and a merging of families, histories and biology.  Would you take a bullet for anyone? What would you give up for someone else's dream to manifest? And for how long? What are the terms of the contract signed today with this ritual? Every marriage has it's own individuality, it's own life source and demands it's own breath. What will happen for this one? How will it evolve, expand? who will be included in it's configuration? I haven't found a dress, but I'm just not worried. It will be as it will be...It's not my day, but I will paricipate in whatever way requested. At this point, the main request is that I absent myself from the celebration long enough to attend the DFL city convention and cast my vote for the candidate selected by my daughter. What an original wedding present! This is the story of my daughter's life and passion: campaign manager, champion for social justice built on the foundation of educational equity for all economic levels. When I sat in my green kitchen on Nicollet Avenue over 27 years ago listening to my beloved daughter singing "I like to take my time and do it right..." I had no idea where our journey would take us. But I had curiousity, faith and hope. And enthusiasm. None of which has been lost.

11 March, 2012

birthdays

It just seems like it's worth celebrating whatever happens, so I like to keep a bottle of Chandon in the refrigerator. And a bottle of Sauza next to a bottle of Triple Sec in the cabinet above stove. Fresh citrus fruits on the counter top in various stages of ripeness, and a couple of bottles of key lime juice in the 'frig. I used to add maple syrup to my margaritas but I'm cutting back on calories due to the upcoming wedding. Besides the grapefruits are so sweet you don't need the additional sweetener. The days are quieter now, more subtle shifts of mood and memory. I am looking at a ticket to Phoenix to visit my Dad His birthday was yesterday and I almost missed it. But he was still awake when I called and sounded good. He hasn't had much luck with his bridge games lately. There isn't much you can do if you don't have good cards. He is daunted by the price of gas and has curtailed his mileage for the moment, waiting until the prices drop back to a more reasonable rate. This leaves him with a lot of space for hanging out in the sun, by the pool. And reading the newspaper. His life is sedentary, like many of us, he doesn't jump out of bed and go immediately to the exercise area. He wakes up slowly, drinks a little coffee, heads out to breakfast at the Red Mountain Cafe and stops at the dollar store before climbing onto the recumbent bike. And even then, he's not focused on speed. His priority is endurance. And when he reaches his limit he moves to the couch, takes his blood pressure and drinks a glass of water. His lifestyle is easy, laid back and nothing much upsets him. His priorities have shifted. He knows any day could be his last. Celebrations, like his granddaughter's wedding, are milestones, incentive to keep getting out of bed in the morning. He does sudoku and enjoys learning new things. My kids are so grateful for his presence in their lives, he listens to them, supports them in ways I did not experience when I was their ages. And for that I am truly grateful. So grab a glass of champagne and let's drink to his continued long and healthy life! And best wishes to him for the coming year. 

26 February, 2012

Boat Street Cafe: Seattle

Anyday, everyday I get to sit across the breakfast table from one of my beloved (adult) children is a wonderful day. So much more so after passing ruby red tulips and buttery daffodils on the way into a cafe to order cornmeal cakes and yet another variation of poached eggs smothered in hollandaise sauce. 

Last year we traveled the West Coast together for 10 days. It was the kind of bliss that happens after one of you have been one of the victims in a shooting and for a moment had your short life flash before your eyes. And you sit in a courtroom watching the perpetrator plead guilty realizing how fragile our lives are in so many ways. How quickly they can change. It makes you want to order extra hollandaise and eat very slowly, chewing each bit many times before swallowing. And make the most of all the time spent together.

12 February, 2012

The sun came out

And then the sun came out, the world was bright and it's beauty was undeniable.  We were surrounded by songbirds of many colors. There were wild turkey strolling under the older pine trees. I saw a fox trotting along the edge of a bog with some sort of animal in it's mouth. Sunday  has become a day of reflection, a time for being rather than doing. A time to stop figuring out problems and attempting to rescue the world. This is a day to take the world as it is with all its pain and transformation. None of this is permanent and the changes can happen so fast that it is easy to miss the moments of pure bliss. Like a string of pearls, yet I catch myself focused on the string, wondering if it needs to be replaced. I lose the story of the pearls, the oysters and the ocean. I lose sight of the suffering, the annoyance of the creature slowly forming deposits around the sand until the pearl becomes luminescent, iridescent. My marriage was never the story I imagined and I found myself living with a man I did not know. I knew little about him when we said our vows, and he managed to hide much of himself during the years our children were small. I lived with a projection of my own assumptions about him, never stopping to gather evidence regarding my beliefs. And as it turned out, he had a long list of secrets that he hid from me. I blamed myself for not discovering them sooner, yet how can one discover something that is perfectly hidden. It is silly to think I should have known he was lying, I didn't even want to know. I wanted my projection to be true and real. Just as I now want his deceit and betrayal to be exposed. The truth may be that no one really cares. And I am determined to care about my life more than I care about exposing his. But how to do that? How to make up a new story of my life. People love romantic comedy and we all believed most of the details of the 22 years we spent together. But looking back it reminds me of a horror story like the pseudo romantic vampire films of recent times. I recoil in disgust, grateful to have escaped the repetition of our co-dependent pattern. Sunlight fading, I pack up my books and walk outside.
I seem to have an insatiable need for solitude and daydreams. I still amazes me that I lived for so long with an extreme extrovert. I come alive in the silence, it is what attracted me to dance when I was younger. Entering college as a theater student I was exhausted by all the words coming out of people's mouths. It seemed to be a distraction from what was really happening in our hearts. As if the words would form a kind of protective bubble around our budding identities.  

05 February, 2012

deja vu, this could be you!

Recently I found myself in a local high school with a group of students and a generous supply of Continental Clay. Or goal was to create as many bowls as possible to be donated to the "Empty Bowl" fundraising event on February 9th, 2012. Overcommitment is how I normally operate in the world. Maybe its due to a erroneous belief that if I don't do it no one will... Or that I can do it better than anyone else. Or, more likely, that my value is increased by the number of projects on my calendar.  My life becomes more valuable as my skills, and experience, increase. Enlightening was the day I broke my ankle and found myself hobbling around on crutches, on pain medication. Or the day I ended up in the emergency room after a nasty cat bite listening to the ER doc tell me I would need to be admitted to spend 5 days on IV antibiotic. My enthusiasm for the empty bowl project is vast. Who wouldn't want to get involved in something like this which can only benefit everyone wishing to build more conscious communities. To include the disenfranchised, marginalized homeless and have a deeper understanding of what homelessness, and long term foster care really means. When we, as a community, abandon our kids, we all pay the price. How much wiser to pay it forward, up front, than to wait until it is a full blown disaster. 

29 January, 2012

Good old days

Ever hopeful, full of dreams of grand adventures we celebrate our birthdays with drunken joy. How can we even begin to imagine the actual experiences we will live as we walk our paths? How can we anticipate the pain, the disappointment, the betrayal and possible reconciliation The parents of my friends continue to disappear, while mine wake up each morning wondering what to have for breakfast. And actually they are both pretty set on their ways, knowing their own preferences after these 80+ years. Divorced, they each fend for themselves. My Sauk Rapids mother, who is not a morning person, places instant oatmeal in the microwave of her senior apartment while still in her nightgown.  After dressing, my Mesa, Arizona Dad eases himself behind the wheel of his vintage Cadillac and heads to the Red Mountain Cafe to order his ham and eggs, hash browns with crispy onions, wheat toast and a side of sausage gravy.

I remind myself how blessed I am to have my parents a phone call away. After singing at the funeral of my friends mother I called my own mother to go for pancakes at Perkins in the Pines. No answer. Called that evening with the same results. I sent her an e-mail. followed by text. There is some degree of dementia in play, very mild, but enough that she doesn't track information like she has in the past. I have to remind myself that this isn't the woman I knew when I was 28, celebrating with my friends, cursing my ill fortune to have this woman as my main caregiver. I resented her demands to assist her in raising my siblings. She had me feeding my younger sister as soon as I could manage to hold the bottle at the proper angle. Now I realize she was drowning and couldn't have managed my 5 siblings without my help. When something went right, she got the glory. When shit hit the fan, and it frequently did, I got the blame. So why wasn't she picking up the phone? There had been a few years when she wasn't speaking to me, however I didn't realize it and thought I just kept missing her. Finally one of my sisters clued me in. I had offended her and she had cut off communication without any confrontation or explanation. No wonder I have so few negotiating skills. I was taught it was all or nothing and expected to read minds, at least my mother's mind, and to anticipate her movements, desires. With unpleasant consequences when I failed. Once your identity is warped, can it be fixed? Full of conflicting emotions and beliefs how do you even begin to sort them out. Perhaps the secret still lives in not trying to sort and make sense of the craziness. Just live one day at a time, one moment, one conversation, one appointment and let all the rest fall as it may. And remember that it all has value, especially the painful parts, the parts we call failures and mistakes. My biggest mistake appears to be taking my life personally. I sometimes forget how big I am and get lost in the details, feeling small and vulnerable, helpless and isolated. In truth the ocean is smaller than we human beings. We extend far beyond the surface of our skins, yet we forget and limit our identities in ways we will one day remember is silly. When to quit? When I want something different to manifest in my life. Something more joyous, more satisfying, more authentic.