Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Recent Events

This afternoon I found my camera hiding under a pile of yet-to-be-folded clothes which were stacked on top of the dryer.  Okay, that explains the 'no photos' aspect of the blog lately. Of course that leads us to the other, most obvious, question: why there have been so few words as well.
    The short answer is: I was in OKC for five days this week and most of the time I don't get internet at my apartment for some reason.  Well,  it could be because we aren't really signed up for service and have to 'borrow' it from someone close at hand.  Apparently that is a problem. Oh well.
    The longer answer is that I have been deep into many books simultaneously and finally pushed through and finished all of them during that time of internet blackout.  I find that when I have four or five books going I am fine while I am reading but when I try to explain one of them to anyone, they sometimes tend to act like see thru overlays and bits of them creep into other stories.  The book about the time traveling doc who finds herself in Revolutionary War times gets mixed up with the vampire and his witchy wife who time hop around between the present time and the fifteen hundreds.  It makes for very strange story lines and a confusion of characters, as well as weird dreams at night.
    I did go to the doctor about my hand surgery and we decided I could wait awhile since it isn't bothering me right now and there are some things looming on the horizon for which it would be SO much better if I hand two good hands. Yea!
    My vegetables garden has been gifting me with fresh okra, tomatoes and yellow squash on a regular basis.  I picked a cucumber yesterday but, by the time I had finished weeding and made it to the kitchen, I had lost it somewhere.  There will be others.  I didn't really remember planting any cucumbers so it was a bonus anyway.
     My beautiful Moon and Stars watermelon and the Morning Glories have completely covered the tipi in the garden now. The watermelon has also branched out and is taking over the ground around the Roses.  It's quite beautiful.
   Oh! Remember that black mother cat who was here with her kittens and then disappeared? I have seen her several times, sneaking out of the garage after helping herself to the cat food. Good, that's why I have left the door open sometimes, so she could find some food.  I still haven't seen or heard anything from the kittens, sadly.  That can't be a good sign.  I now and then catch a whiff of something dead under the bush row that surrounds the yard.  I fear it might be the little ones but don't want to go in and investigate.
     I am typing tonight with a 'fat hand' from the two yellow jacket stings I earned yesterday while pulling weeds.  I keep forgetting Yellow Jackets like building their nests on the ground as well as in bushes or under the awnings of the porch. Ouch.  These stings don't seem to be hurting quite so much as they used to, although my hand looks like it belongs to a marshmallow person.  Very cute stuff.
     Today was cool, rainy and a balm to my soul. I spend some of it on the porch swing, reading a new book and part of it on a trip to Stillwater with a friend.  We had a great time, lots of good visiting, and saw some cute shops there.  I came home with a little bag of a new flavor of tea from Murphy's.  We also took part in a balsamic vinegar tasting during which both of us nearly choked to death.  Wow. That was disturbing.
       There is lots going on in August and I will try to be more diligent about getting some thoughts down on paper.  (Paper?) Well, anyway, writing is a habit and I don't want to lose it.  I can always find the internet at the shop so may need to stop by there before heading home in the evenings I am in the City.  Thanks for stopping by to see what has been happening. All is well here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Beating Back the Chaos

What an interesting day…and hotter than blue blazes. Sheesh!
      I was supposed to have an appointment with the surgeon to prepare for my hand surgery, but they called and we had to change to another day due to an emergency. The entire afternoon was mine and it was too hot to garden. The other alternative (well, excluding house cleaning of course) was reading a good book in the cool house, so I took advantage of the opportunity.
     I am reading a book about the life of Dorothea Dix and her championing the cause of humane treatment for those suffering in mental asylums.  Very disturbing to say the least.
    On a 'whim' (or something else?) I called a friend and she came out for a visit. She brought with her good news of great joy, as the Christmas angels said.  We had a great visit that took up most of the afternoon and this evening I stepped out into the dusky twilight to go for a walk in the slightly cooler air.  My goodness! Everything is so lush and green around here this year; quite a change from the past few years which have been lavishly decorated with crunchy, dried grass and grasshopper gnawed gardens. Rain water is miraculous.
     I have hauled up some clear water from my water well in the yard and am taking it in to have it analyzed at the extension office.  I want to get a pump or a windmill set up so I will have access to fresh water from my own land.  We used that well for years and years when the children were growing up, but the water level dropped so much that we had to hook onto the rural water system at some point. I don't intend to use the well for all the water I need but for watering vegetables and such, as they do so much better with untreated water.

    (next morning)
    The voice of a squawking chicken pulled me away from that post last night. False alarm. I think the chickens like to push my buttons now and then.  It is a very real possibility that they were in cahoots with the spider that lives on top of the trellis.  As I went flying down the brick path last night to see what was happening in the henhouse, I forgot to put up the "ward-off-any-nighttime-spider-web-traps" arm and, sure enough, SMACK, right across the face and hair.  This was followed by the immediate wild flailing of arms in an attempt to keep the spider from…ummm...what? sinking his huge fangs into my eye? Well…yes, that's it exactly. Spiders are not my favorite people, as I may have mentioned about a jillion times before.
     This morning I went out to mow the grass, only to discover the yard was dripping with dew. It didn't really matter since the mower wouldn't start anyway. It appears I am going to need someone to jump the battery for me.  So I spend the next hour and half pulling weeds and fighting back the jungle.  The grass can wait. By the time things were beginning to look a little more like someone lived here, I was wringing wet. The humidity seems to be hovering around 90% this morning and there is a glorious haze hanging over the cornfield (that sounds so weird). That's enough. I need a big drink of 'nature's finest'. Hope your day is a dandy!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Poem: Blindsided

Not often, but still,
a particular song will play,
   or I see one of his students,
    and my heart jerks open,
      my throat constricts,
and my eyes fill.

Out of nowhere,
unintentional and unexpected,
  some small turn of phrase,
    a glimpse of familiar posture,
      the sight of unexpected beauty,
opens the wound.

Has grief worked its healing,
assuming it does, if it can still
   spring to life in an instant,
     or have I only succeeded
       in firmly bolting the door,
sealing it away?

If so, couldn't I have
managed that sooner,
  skipping those endless months of
    lashing, searing sorrow,
      bewildered at the
intensity of this loss?

I say I am done, I am past it,
and then someone stands in a doorway
    with the light behind them,
      and my breath catches,
         for a half-second of hope
in the impossible.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Life Abounds and Amazes


 I step out onto the south porch this morning to a sound….what was that?…I had heard it only once before, in the summer a year past.  It was the sound of a dying fawn, taken down by a 'something' in the woods, probably a bobcat or a coyote. The cats sit still and silent at my feet, they too are listening.  Three hoarse calls and then nothing.  I let out a strong breath for the last breath of that short life and the terror it felt at the sudden, swift end. A lone vulture circles high above the trees, waiting his turn.
       On these cool mornings, temps in the low sixties this morning, it seems easier to notice the life around me as I walk through the gardens.  A lizard wearing coral colors scurries out of the hole I make while digging the potatoes. A bright green tomato worm lifts and arches its head and becomes immobile when I lean over the plant, searching for him.  Sorry my friend, I have found you.
       While driving toward town, a single quail runs across the road ahead of me, head high, feet a blur of motion. At the half mile line I look west and slow to a stop, intrigued by what I see.  Round bales of wheat straw lie haphazardly across the field and on many of them, ten that I can count, as well as two or three fence posts, sits a dark Turkey Vulture, looking east into the breeze. That in itself is a little strange but is not what brought me to a stop.  Every bird has its wings outstretched and is holding perfectly still. I sit there and stare, grasping for the 'why' of it, stunned by this unknown.

  ( After some later research I discovered that this is called the 'heraldic'  position and they assume this pose when the sun first appears in the mornings and other times as well. There seem to be two schools of thought about the reasons for this behavior. Some say they are 'sun bathing', letting the UV rays of the sun cleanse their wings, feet, body and head of bacteria they have picked up from their meals of decaying animals.  Others say they are spreading their wings to raise their body temperature, thermoregulating.  I have not seen other birds doing this, but these are scavengers, eating almost solely dead and decaying carcasses so the UV cleanse thing is a good idea.)  

I did not get a photo but found this one on the 'net' for you, so you would see what I meant.

        A little farther down the road a grown Road Runner speeds across the road, disappearing into a field where a herd of Longhorns and their calves lie on the damp ground, mouths moving, beautifully curved horns slowly turning as they watch me drive by. Before the mile corner is reached, a small spotted fawn scampers across the road in the opposite direction, alone, and runs on stilty legs into the same pasture as the cattle.
      I drive past a field planted to turnips which have gone to seed, yellow flower stalks rising above wilted green leaves. Once again I slow the car to a stop and get out. The field is a riot of motion, white butterflies by the hundreds of thousands flutter, dip and rise around the flowers, some of them coming out onto the highway and bouncing off the windshield. If only my hearing were finely tuned enough to hear the music of their flight! The dance is delightfully surprising, as if hundreds of small bells, their melodies ascending and descending in unimaginably complex counterpoint were ringing in explosive, ecstatic celebration. Oh my. As far as the eye can see, movement and light. The sight takes my breath away and leaves me bright with laughter.
      When I return home, in the grey light of evening, my two cats mince they way out to the car, lifting their paws high out of the wet grass, happy to have me home.  The chickens are silent in their pen, already tranced in sleep on the roosts, and a lone owl sends his hollow query from high in the Cedar.  I sit silently beneath a waning moon half hidden by clouds.  Frogs sing from the creek banks and I find myself filled to overflowing with contentment, so blessed to be living here in this near-wild space, beneath the wide prairie sky.

The Dream of An Arboretum

       I see new housing additions being built here and there as I drive around OKC, or am on my way in, driving from the north.  The bulldozers come in first and take away all the character of the land, scraping off the topsoil and using it to fill in the low spots. Leaving the red rock on the surface, red shale in which nothing will grow. They put in their pipe, lay out the streets, build look-alike houses and then, at the end, they plant one small tree in the front yard of each house.
        I see that and I think, 'could you not have planned around all those magnificent old trees that were already growing there? Could you not have brought in fill dirt from somewhere else and left the good topsoil that had supported native grasses for thousands and thousands of years? It is all about the money, of course. I know that. It costs money to pay people to haul in dirt…and time….and time is money to construction companies. Money, once again, taking precedence over creation.
      I look around the farm here, in this space alive with an abundance of growing, singing, creeping, climbing things, and see huge trees all around, trees that we planted after we were married. Yes, there were a few here: the three big Cedars, the Cottonwood out front which was planted before Statehood, a scrawny Tree of Heaven, and the big Elm that shaded the back door of the house.  Everything else we planted and nurtured and trimmed and fertilized and prayed over, making our own shade and filling the air with the green music of leaves in the prairie wind.
        We had a dream, Danny and I, of creating a long, arching tunnel down the length of our driveway that would be shade to walk through in the heat of summer, a place where our grandchildren could ride their bikes or take wagon rides without getting a sunburn or heat stroke.  We planted a three layer tree row so they would have a shady place in which to play and explore, and also to stop the roar and heat of the searing harvest wind.
     Here it is, thirty some years later, a beautiful tunnel dappling the ground with light and shadow. It takes a lifetime to grow a big tree.  I do wish people would let them stand; I wish they could slow down and  hear the history singing through their strong, reaching branches; recognize the work they have done for the planet and all the smaller creatures of the earth during their long lives. It is no small thing.
     I hope, when I too am gone, that no one comes with a bulldozer and pushes all this life, this beauty, into a mangled heap and strikes a match.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Blessing


 Today was a gift, a day I might not have seen. It was a cool day, cool enough to do the needed gardening in the morning and then, just as I had finished digging the potatoes, a gentle rain began to fall. The rain washed the sky, the leaves, the air, off and on for the rest of the day. Oh my, such a blessing. I am so thankful I didn't miss it.

      Yesterday, driving home from OKC, heading north up Hwy 74 as I do every week, sometimes more than once, I heard a voice whisper in my ear, in my spirit. It urged caution and attention.
I became more alert and slowed a little, not much, but a little. A mile or so up the road I crested a hill and there in front of me was an oil tanker truck stopped to take a right turn. Behind him a large pick-up was barreling down the highway, not slowing, swerving into my lane and heading for me. I had nowhere to go, nor time to get there.
      But because of the whisper in my heart, the breath of life in my mind, I could slow to a  stop and let the pick-up go flying past.  I knew something was coming. I am learning to listen.