"We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." ~Maya Angelou

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Last Week In A Nutshell

        The weather has been seesawing between lovely and warm, and blustery, chilly for about two weeks.  Today is overcast and cold, with a brisk wind from...everywhere, it seems.  Yesterday I finally dumped those last few brave Iris out of the zip-locks they have been baking/freezing in for a month. (That is cruel and unusual punishment for the sweet little dears, I understand that, but I kept thinking I would get them over to Dad's so Scott could pick them up and plant them at his house. It never happened.  In truth, they might have lain there on Dad's patio bricks all winter anyway. ) So, I walked them over to the raised beds and tucked them into that gorgeous soil for the winter and spring of next year. They'll do great and maybe we can make the switch next year, or the one after that.
        The foliage of my trees actually has a little more color this year, for some weird reason. Who knows? My two young Chinese Pistachios are sporting orange and red for the first year, bragging about how big they are. Very pretty.  The Silver Maples are a vibrant yellow and everything else is the usual brown or dingy yellow.
      Last week-end MC and I drove through western Arkansas and the trees there were beautiful. All I could think of was a painter trying to capture those mingled colors by that daubing of spots of brightness here and there on a multi-green background.  (Apparently those few painting classes we had early on, had a huge impact on the way I see things.)  I had a nice visit with my friend Lisa, in Ft. Smith, and then we headed north to Noark Girl Scout Camp and an evening sing-along with a whole room full of new friends who loved singing together.                 The last group I was singing with broke up after a couple of years, so I was once again sans musical outlet. We had a blast and I can't wait to meet with this group again.  The plan is, to get together every month or so.
          We slept over in the lodge there, with the windows open and the cool, delicious breath of the forest sweeping through the rooms. I never slept better, I'm telling you; no allergies, no back-ache, no feet hurting. It was magical. We woke up early, early and crept out so we could fly back down the road to Edmond and baby T's baptism at St. John's.
       Thatchie's whole village was there, as they should be. This first pic is of T and Mags, while we were waiting for the priest to show. This kid is angelic.

By this time, Thatcher was done with pictures and was fascinated by his godfather's bow tie, for some reason. Bow-ties are cool.
     (Oh, in other big news, baby Alice is walking like a pro now, just cruising around the house. She is so funny and friendly! Her daddy also walked that early, so it didn't surprise me. She is an adorable, sharp-as-a-tack little girl, and she and T are best buddies; both smiling big happy smiles whenever they get to play together for awhile.)

    Let's see....what else?  Oh. This week I had my first cataract surgery. It went well and now I'm just putting drops in my eyes all the time and it is a little bit strange because, since the other eye isn't fixed yet, they don't really work together too well. I can read and write, so I'm not too worried about it.
    I've been doing a little bit of clean up in the yard, here and there, to the accompaniment of all the different types of bells and chimes and the songs of the tiny winter birds.
    There is a rumor that the Cub Scout popcorn orders came in. I can't wait to get back to the City to pick up mine.  Soon it will be time for the G.S. cookies. (thin mints!!)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

An Update

     On Monday I awoke dry-mouthed and angry at nothing in particular, everything in general.  Bad dreams perhaps? If so, they were already down the chute and lost to memory.  Nothing quite worked out, through the morning; I searched for the phone, a matched pair of socks, the book I wanted to take along on the trip to town.  Apparently the Little People had come in and rearranged the entire house. I was still tired, after a busy, full of conversation, events, driving, and song week-end followed by the waters of baptism poured over a small head, pictures, lunch, games in the windy cold with young ones, and then a flying trip back up the road to the farm.  I was still tired, but there was more to it than that.
       I was also emotionally overwhelmed from all the above, not bad emotions, just a surplus of lots of different kinds of emotions and no time, yet, to sit in stillness and sort through everything. Add to that the insanity that seems to be the norm in our political news these days.  I had thought things would settle down after a few months; people would step up and assume the responsibilities of their offices, both state and federal. It hasn't happened.  People in both venues continue to act like petulant, spoiled children or fully feathered bullies, depending on the day.                    
     Another random shooting (read: terrorist attack) happened. It will be in the news for a few days, gun sales will escalate, more people will begin carrying guns on their person in public places.  More people will become and remain angry and then there will be another shooting.  It has become a cycle.
It seems we really aren't safe anywhere.
      We drove to town, to an appointment or two, paying the doctor before the upcoming surgery. Interesting that payment comes first and then the scalpel these days.  Eye drops, papers, driving in circles waiting to pick up M from her appointment.  I became more and more tense, upset by anything and everything for no specific reason. We headed home, me needing silence and stillness (and sleep), she praying for peace in the other seat.  This is also a cycle; a monthly wall of emotional or physical fatigue that rises out of the fog of a more-than-busy week or two.  I usually end up weeping on a bed somewhere for a few minutes, and then I'm better. I sleep and the next day I'm okay again. Sound familiar to anyone?
      I've been working and reworking my poems and gathering them into types and topics. I'm trying to finish reading three different books, all of which I love, and I haven't even started the book club book for this month (oops).  I'm writing what is required for the applications for the MFA programs.  I've decided to apply to Pacific University, in Seattle, and to Warren Wilson, in Charlotte, NC.  I decided not to go for the OCU program, after visiting with some people who knew the people involved.                  
      There's a lot going on and the holidays approach.  (Good lord! Not this week-end but the next is the Bison Thanksgiving Dinner. Kraut and dumplings, turkey and stuffing, hooray! Does it seem to anyone else that the year might be spinning more quickly than in the past, or is that just me?)  Luckily, Able has assembled a good crew at the spice shop and they don't need me. I'm sure they would be happy to have me stop in to lend an extra hand or two, which I will....after the surgery.  Abbey's surgery is the day after mine, so I won't be able to help her right away.  I have had the surgery she is heading into and it knocks you back on your heels.  We don't like our children to be in pain, it draws us thin because there is nothing we can do to help them. Audra seems to have all her little pirates under control, as usual.    
        So, that's why there has been a lack of writing, except for a few sparse poems of the season.  I know, you probably wish I would throw some punctuation in now and then. I will. This is just a style I'm playing with; I do know where those commas and periods should go.  They'll be back.
     I'm headed to bed now for some of that much needed sleep.  (Oh, did I mention that two rooms in my house have lost electricity for some unknown reason? Yeah, that happened while we were gone. I'll call someone day after tomorrow. Sigh.)
Gather your goodness around you, curl up and sleep the sleep of hope.
That's what I intend to do.

Poem: Scent Of Snow

No stars out tonight

 wind and scent of snow

cold from the north

ruffling the cats' fur

sending them up the screen

I hear their plaintive cries

as I dig through closets

searching for another quilt

pulling on a flannel shirt

dropping the blinds

One magnificent pumpkin

stands guard over the garden

beautifully arched and ribbed

stemmed and shaded with green

brown leaves skip and tumble south

Monday, November 6, 2017

Poem: November Songs

Mid-November in the forest, a cloudy day,
smoke and leaves dance in rustling air;
12 year old girls, giggling,
gathering leaves and cones,
tossing acorns, making memories.

I am new to this place
that feels like home to the others.
Women friends, working together,
getting the camp ready for winter.
I meet and visit, watch and listen.

Later, after a meal together, we will sing;
young and old, we will find our harmonies;
safe in the chords and melodies our hands
and voices remember, we will pass the light,
teaching to younger voices and hands.

I am the stranger here, but only for tonight;
tomorrow I will be part of this family.
I so need this holy music to keep me strong.
We all learned the same songs, decades and
miles apart, under the same shining moon.

Over the years, this very thing has happened:
me, alone, flailing in mid-air, fighting tears,
drawn in by a circle of song that welcomed me,
accepted my gifts, made me whole again. 
Woven of sacred music, the bonds hold and heal.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Ten On Thursday: Halloween-2017

Danny and I planted a little Burr Oak tree the year Mom died (2005), because they are strong, long-lived and give much shade and protection to living creatures...reminding us of her. This is the first year it has had acorns on it. Hooray! Hurrah! That means it has decided to stay and live. It was about four feet tall when we planted it and now it is 15 ft. and gorgeous.

2. This happened.  Honey and Molasses sat under the beautiful bouquet of flowers Able gave me for my birthday; sat there for a long time, as I took care to stretch the life of those flowers to their longest possible.  But, eventually they began to fade and I weeded the wilted ones until there were only the Freesia and one glorious neon pink poppy.  A few days later I came out to breakfast and this was staring me in the face.  It wasn't placed there, it fell like that; an interesting party hat for my little Molasses. Ha!

  3.  My quince bush is beginning to bloom a la February. This back and forth
weather we have been having is messing up the signals. I also saw striped crocus in bloom
at Dad's last week end.  If we're going to skip winter and jump straight into spring, I think I planted my bulbs too late. Tighten the cinch, it could be a wild ride.

4. Annual Halloween party/dinner/hoo-rah at the Korenaks house happened this week.
That's Han Solo, Merrida (from Brave) holding baby Tinkerbell, Captain Jack Sparrow, and on the ground are Darth Vader, Curious George (wearing skeleton pjs underneath), and baby Pirate...a cabin boy probably named Jim.

5. And here are some extras.  Yes, there was a monster birthday cake for the three October birthdays (we did mention the others, before we sang: Joseph K., Preston I., Jennifer D., Great Granddad Dotter....) Jangle managed to squeeze into his brother's tiger costume this year and made friends with the skeleton candy dish.
      The pirates had a fully rigged haunted pirate ship in the backyard, complete with lights, sails, flying ghosts, spiderwebs,  a swinging bridge, bones in the grass and giant spiders (a la early Tarzan shows). You can see it from Penn and it looks awesome.

6.  These two ladies have been taking the 'sister picture' since they were little, and it continues through Halloween.  This is a grand tradition in our family...think, The Melton Sisters pictures, or the Shurtz Sisters pictures.  Thatcher photo-bombed the shot.  Even pirates have to eat now and then. 

7. There is no 7.

Here is a shot of Baby Alice (aka BabySpice) in the pumpkin patch. This could just as easily be a shot of Able as a baby...except for the bow in her hair. Whew!

I knew Ro would want me to include this super scary shot of him and the skeleton bowl.  Ro started the evening as a ghostie, pealed that off and went as Curious George, peeled that off and was this skeleton guy, and when he came inside for good, striped to his shorts, donned a cape and became Captain Underpants.  Mix-up guy; his own invention.

10.  Bells. Last night one the middle bell ringers (C6, C#6, D6) missed practice. Since I usually play the top two ding-a-lings (and it gets boring with just those two) I sneaked over and snagged her bells, bringing them up to my spot.  We commenced.  Thank goodness I was playing them, because they were important in a couple of the songs.  So I had six bells (counting accidentals) and two out of three of the songs had at least one key change, to make it interesting for the ringers.
     I had such a good time! The B7 and C7 bells did get neglected somewhat, I will admit. A bell managed to tumble off the table with a clatter at one point.  There were quite a few "oops" heard during the descending scales, when the changing of hands happened, but I loved it. I haven't had so much fun in ages.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Family of Faith

    There is a sweet little children's song from Bible School that goes like this:

"The church is not a building,
    the church is not a steeple,
      the church is not a resting place,
  the church is the people...."

There are cute motions that go with it, as you might imagine.  The church is the people, with all their warts, scars and blemishes...as well as all their talents, skills, personalities, hangups, and glorious gifts. You can't have the gifts and talents without the warts and hangups (That's basic Day 1 stuff).
       As you probably know, the traditional church and I have had a serious falling out in the past ten years.  There were lots of reasons that matter, to me, but are not the most important thing right now and they might not matter to you anyway.  It became like trying to dance the Samba with someone who is trying to do the box step. You can see how that might not work out.
      I stopped going to church...in a building, with a steeple (or without one).

    Lots of people told me to get over blaming God for Danny's death. I never blamed God for anything. Things happen. People die. The weird thing was that after Danny died, only one family from that church we had gone to for 25 years called, or tried to stay in touch. Only one. (Thank you, Hladiks, for all the love and kindness you have shown me.) My entire family was hurting and we couldn't help each other. We each turned to our dearest friends for someone to listen, and sit with us, and hold us.  We all stumbled through it. We're better now. For my part, friends from thirty years past came to my rescue, called and wrote and held me upright. Thanks to all of you.
     I spent a lot of time reading and connecting with what I call the greater universe, the interconnectedness of all of life. I read and meditated and spent time in nature, to deepen my connection with that powerful, golden thread that sings and shines at the heart of everything. Some call it Spirit (the Great, the Holy, etc.) I don't call it anything. It is. It is in everything and through us all. I sought to go deeper into the heart of God.....although I find it difficult to use that word, because it brings to my mind an image of a boxed Sacredness...with boundaries, and a face that looks like ours.  I don't believe that.
     I believe....oh, gosh, it would take longer than this post to go into what I believe, spiritually.  I might not use the language you are used to hearing. I might not speak 'Christian'. In fact, I can assure you I would not, and that might cause you to stop listening, or at least stop hearing, what I was trying to say. It might lead you to put me into a box that I don't belong in. It might cause you to back away, as so many of my friends have done. I don't like boxes. They're too easy.  I hope it doesn't matter, to those who love me, what I believe now...or ever.  Whatever language I use to discuss spiritual things, I am trying to live my life in such a way that kindness and compassion are shown to every face that meets mine, as I walk through the days.
      Okay, I've wandered off topic. I was trying to give you some back story. Here is the front story.  I started going to choir with Marsha at her new church, a Methodist church. I went so I could sing, and after choir, I could be in the bell choir. You know how I love bells. I said I probably wouldn't sing on Sundays; this was music therapy for me. (The director and I taught together when I was at Chisholm. She is a wonder.) That seemed to be fine. I loved singing with a choir again and I was amazed at how open-hearted and welcoming the other members of both choirs were to me. They're good people. They care about each other. We laugh a lot. We don't stress over the little musical details. It works. 
    This Sunday, for the first time, I went to church, pulled on the robe, and sang with the choir.  I sat there and, as we waited for the service to begin, and worked our way through the simple liturgy, a swirling happened in the air around me.  This felt right. This was where I was supposed to be...now. 
       No, I haven't gone back to believing the doctrine or the language of the church, and there are some songs I have a lot of trouble singing. But I sing them, to help these warm and friendly people have church.  I have missed having a community. I have missed fellowship and a family of faith, even if our faiths don't quite line-up. Our hearts line up, and that is much more important. They are good for me and I hope I am good for them.