Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Surprised by Beauty and Song

 We had a lovely buildup to a real thunderboomer last evening. I was mowing when the clouds began to gather.  I shut the mower off and got off to watch the dramatic cloud-play going on above me as the sun began to set.  Earlier that day I had been drawn outside by an unusually loud cacophony of birdsong.  I stepped out the back door and saw that the Big Elm was full of an unusual cast of characters.
    There were pairs of Cardinals, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers and their not yet mature son. There were a few English Starlings, many beautiful, slender Blackpoll Warblers (mostly yellowish females but a few black-capped males), sparrows of various stripes, Red-Winged Blackbirds, the resident hummingbirds, Mockingbird, Tufted Titmouse, several Carolina Wrens (those that had nested in the tree house I suppose), and at least one scraggly Robin. There were no Cedar Waxwings that I noticed, although I expected them. Sometimes they come in waves and rest here.
     I don't know why all of these friends showed up today at the same time, gifting me with an impromptu concert. I imagine only the warblers were visiting and the others came from the trees and fields along the creek to investigate. Maybe the advancing storm set them moving. The Blackpoll Warblers don't usually begin their migrations southward until the middle of August and I have never seen them here before. All the other birds live here in the summer months, so I can't help thinking they too were curious about the newcomers.
     Whatever the reason, the mixture of all their songs was incredibly beautiful, though short-lived. They were only here for about 45 minutes, resting in the shade, and then rose in a flurry and were gone.
      I'll take it. A surprising, melodious blessing on a horribly hot July afternoon. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Little Pics and The Big Picture

     I have a bunch of pictures that I want to share with you. I thought about trying to tie them all together into one coherent post about something, but I didn't. Captions are below the picture they represent...or sometimes to the side. (Sometimes that is confusing on blogs.)

This is your unique journey. Protect yourself.
   Be present in the moment.
Keep moving forward.
   You are not the only thing in the picture
but you may be the only beauty in the day, for someone


    These are the babies that hatched in the tree house. They have now learned to fly and are up in the tree-tops, singing.

 I love this particular Marigold: it is asymmetrical by nature, yet shines its perfect light into this bed of greenery.

 My dear old dad, cleaning up after we made apricot jam the other day. Almost everything is more fun when you share it with a friend. :)


Everyone brings their own gifts to the table.

A year ago I rescued a tiny Cottonwood tree from the trash heap at Wal-Mart. It was growing in the pot with a mostly dead Hosta plant. It survived last summer, winter, the deer, locusts and grasshoppers, and this summer's blazing heat. I believe she's a Keeper. (The Hosta is still alive as well. Look at the bottom of tree. They're Soul-mates.)

    Maggie Jewel is learning a lot about being brave this summer. This is her friend, Lady, who is helping her learn.
      (The other day, when I took Mags to her riding lesson, she whispered to me, "Grandma, smell her neck. It will make you smile." She was right. )

  I hate it that Danny is missing out on all this fun and adventure with his grand kids. Doesn't seem right, but I know it happens.

                                               This guy is adorable.

That Was An Eye Opening Week

    When the bombing in OKC happened, in 1995, I felt that it brought Oklahomans together and made us collectively stronger as we helped each other through our grief and towards healing.  We were shocked that such a violent act could happen here.  I understand that innocents are always victims in wars, but we weren't at war. We were enjoying the blessings of peace here on the prairie in the middle of America. The media helped pull us together by speaking of the courage and selflessness of those from ours and other states who worked together to save lives and comfort families of the lost.
      After the September attacks in 2001, for a brief time, we felt the same way on a national level.  We were all Americans and most of us knew someone, or of someone, who was lost in the attacks of that day. We were infuriated that anyone would even try, let alone pull off such an attack on us here, in the most well defended country in the world. But they did, and that is when things started to change. We were kept aware of the threat level of the day; yellow? orange? the dreaded red? No details or even generalities were ever attached to those levels, no information, just hot colors that had the effect of stirring up fear, building hatred against 'the other' foe, a foe who has taken on many names.
        Fifteen years have passed since September 11th. Much has happened across the seas, and many lives have been lost on all sides.  I can not speak for those in other countries, on other continents, for I do not live their lives.  I can speak only of this, my home state and what I have seen happen here.  We have become a divided people here. There are those who urge violence and retribution and those who seek peace, dialogue and understanding.
      But there is more than that happening.  We have become used to living with fear, and the media seems to focus on whipping people up into a froth about all the things we have to be afraid of.  The result is that we have become suspicious of 'others', those who look and act and believe differently than we do. We know where that leads.  That leads to injustice and looking the other way instead of standing up for justice and the rights of a free people. The rights and freedoms granted to citizens of the United States should apply to all people who are citizens of this country, not just the ones who look and act and believe like you do.
     This is dangerous ground. It has only been 75 years since a world war was fought over this kind of thing. Someone stirring up fear and outrage with screamed lies and misrepresentations of the actions and words of others.  There have been thousands of books written about the horrors of WWII, both on the battlefields and in the streets, ghettos and camps in Europe and Asia.  Surely we have not forgotten. How then can people in this day and time be excited and in support a man, seeking the office of president, who stands before them spewing words of anger, hatred, arrogance, 'us versus them', demanding that they alone can fix the problems of America?  My God. This man does not know the difference between truth and a lie. He continually denigrates others with his words, actions and disrespect for basic manners. He demeans women and minorities, casting them (us) in the light of unworthiness, disgust, something less than he. 
     You know what happens when you begin sorting things. There is no where to stop. That applies to variations in the size of cattle as well as the size of breasts, the color of skin, the type of hair, health in general, gender, ethnicity, religion, mental wholeness.
      This narcissistic and impolite man must not be given the power of the presidency. He will not make America great again. AMERICA IS ALREADY GREAT. It has been for over two hundred years because of our beliefs in tolerance and the rights of free people under the law of the land. But the attitudes of hatred and dualism which this man promotes will take this country to its ruin.
    I beg you to step away and refuse him the power he craves.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Poem: In His Mind's Eye

Jody wasn't born blind.
His sighted childhood ended in his eighth year,
when he witnessed an accident which took the light,
and most of the laughter, for a great while.
Those pivotal few seconds of his life haunt Jody.
           Now his days swirl with color.

The loss of sight was not Jody's only injury that day.
The explosion has somehow affected his mind as well.
The doctors aren't sure if it was the blast force,
the shock, or the intense light that was responsible,
but they know something is not quite right.
            He has had lots of tests.

As a consequence of his injuries, Jody needs more time.
It takes him longer to come to a decision.
He sees many possible answers to every question,
and needs time to think them through.
Pressure does not help.
          There are dangers to be considered.

Jody tells me his room is a portal to
other times and places. (Who am I to doubt?)
He slips through and assumes invisibility, he says.
He is safe there and he can fly, as well as see.
           He always travels alone.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Oh My. Dallas.

"We are a powder keg about to explode..." lmm.

We all saw the Dallas shootings coming. It was almost inevitable.
Guns and Dallas, well...

The news media isn't helping
     by broadcasting half-truths, guesses, bits of information without any substance.

We aren't helping either, by rushing to knee-jerk reactions and comments. (Mea Culpa)

Black people live lives of constant danger, they are on edge.
Police live lives of constant danger, they are on edge.
Both sides are armed.

I am not black.
I am not a policeman.
I am not armed.

I cannot even speak the language of either.
I can speak for love, for understanding, for empathy, for peace.
That is my language.
That is my responsibility.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bookcases and Me (part 2)

     I have been thinking about the many bookcases in my life. The first bookcase I can remember was taller then my own mother (well okay, she wasn't very tall, but still) and tucked behind a door in my grandma's house. It was made of wood and crammed full of books and small treasures. As I learned later in my life, my mother had made that particular bookcase in eighth grade shop class. I am proud to admit that it now stands in my living room. As long as I am living it will be where I am. I love it and the history it carries. This is it.

     Since I could not yet read when I first moved that door back and discovered the shelves of wonder, it was the treasures that intrigued me.  There were several smooth, shining shells and a tiny blue glass pail with stubby feet.  There were pictures in frames and pictures standing alone, curled and faded, of people I did not know.  There were stems of dried flowers tied with pale ribbons and a small magnifying glass. There was a little glass jar holding a few arrowheads, a key, and some gray rocks.  There was also, way up high, a gray tin measuring cup where grandma kept the marbles we used when we played chinese checkers. As we grew taller that cup would be moved to the kitchen cabinet.
     We moved away from that town and lived for a while in a little house across the street from our elementary school in the city. The bookcase I remember from that house was very long and had a scalloped top shelf.  My dad tells me he made that one out of the wood from something else, hence the scalloped edge. I don't remember the books on that one. I still couldn't read yet. (I have it in my house now too. I know. I'm a bookcase hoarder. You can't have too many.) 
     The next bookshelves I remember were the shelves in the tiny library of the small town where we moved next. This library was really only a small, side room in the community building. There were shelves all the way around the walls and one double-sided one right in the middle of the floor.  There weren't a lot of books but there were some. That's where I met the Hardy Boy Mysteries, and  Nancy Drew. I read through all the horse books, and the pirate books, then moved on to books about the frozen north and the wondrous sled dogs that were unstoppable and saved lives regularly.  I followed Laura Ingalls and her family through her adventures on the open prairie. Then I discovered Zane Gray and read every one of his westerns, becoming familiar with a life spent on horseback in the dusty West.
      I can remember riding home from the library on my bike, no hands, reading all the way.  I read in bed, under the piano, on the sofa, on the floor, at night with a flashlight under the covers and up in trees.  I pleaded with my mom to please put the hems in my homemade shorts and shirts for me so I could get back outside and into my book.
     The next bookcases that took hold of me were at the university, but I wasn't reading for pleasure then, I was studying. I remember going back into the stacks and forgetting what I had come looking for, finding instead book after book that reached out and grabbed me. Books that dealt with people and places I knew little or nothing about. I spent a lot of time in the library, at least until I learned how to play the guitar.
     After I graduated, found a job and got married, my kids and I spent lots of time in the city library. We checked out armfuls of books as often as we could.  It was cool in there, and we didn't have an air conditioner at our house, so it was perfect.  Sometimes I would find a book that really got its hooks into me. I would take it back, check it in, and then go to the bookstore and buy it.  I had to have it with me then, and I still have them now. The characters in those books, the ones I loved, are like family to me. I go back and revisit them now and then. 
     My next bookcase is in a box, leaning up against the wall in a back bedroom.  It is fantastic in this respect, the shelves are not straight across. The shelves are of different heights and lengths; a place for all those oddly sized books that get lost on the regular shelves.  I'll have a place for that tiny little book by Tennyson that my other grandma gave to me once I fell in love with Tennyson. There will be shelves that are tall enough to hold the beautiful big children's picture books standing up, instead of always having to lie down, where they tend to be forgotten. The problem with this new bookcase is....where do I put it? I haven't yet decided. There are outstanding offers to put it together for me, when I am ready. Heaven knows it's time. There are books piling up on every tabletop. Okay.