Wednesday, August 15, 2018

August In Bloom

   




Balanced atop slender, elegant stems, chive blossoms stand poised to join the twining blue Morning Glories in announcing the turning of the season. It is the middle of August, schools are back in session,  and the morning light has just begun to change...the tiniest bit. This summer has blessed us with several blue-gray thunderstorms, rumbling with inner light and jagged strikes across the night sky, startling us out of sleep, sending us running to throw open windows and welcome inside the scent of petrachor and falling water, filling fountains and cleansing the air. We head out onto the porch to sit, without lights, watching and listening, breathing in cool, moist air like a medicine.
       Every bloom in the garden is flattered with the attentions of bee and butterfly these days. The alfalfa stands blooming and fragrant across the road, aswirl with small white butterflies that bob up and down in a mesmerizing dance.  The breeze, coming to us in the pale cool light of the morning, is deliciously amethyst and sweet as little girls in twirly skirts.
   
         The farmer is hoping to harvest seed this year, to sell to neighbors and expand the patch. This morning he is having trouble getting the combine to run smoothly, its engine cranking without catching. He has one day in which to work out the problems since it rained last night. Here in the house we have all the windows wide open, letting the fresh, rain-laced air meander through. We pay close attention and will close them before the morning's cool turns to heat once more.
      Nature's symphony, insects of every shape and size, scrape, scratch, hum, buzz and sing, along the arching branches of every bush, vine and tree, and in the decay below. They do not seem to sleep, for when I awake in the middle of the night, I hear their layered music all around me, a wild cacophony of clicks, and rattles, calling for lovers, serenading the moon, filling the darkness with their incessant surging songs.  They sing in the dark of the moon and when meteors flash and burn above them, as they do in these final weeks of Summer.

Bonus shot for you:
     

      Here is another picture of Miss M, newly nine and infatuated with horses of all kinds. She has become quite the rider over the past two plus years. I hear she has a show or two coming up in the fall and new special clothes to wear in them. What fun! I can't wait.


Friday, August 10, 2018

Shadowed Beauty

     Once in a while, when the gardens blooms are hopper-chewed, tattered, forlorn, and threadbare, I head out to look, not for images of reality, but of the lovely absence of light.  Even the most common of grasses may take on an elegance when viewed this way, with the light shining through its hair. This type of exercise is much like deciding to eat by candle light, when the choices available for dinner are thin and unenticing.

     

Yes, Ann, that is the shadow of the twisted heart chair that sat in front of our bedroom mirror while we were growing up. I love the clarity of that shadow of Lemon Balm, the plant I have been trying to eradicate all summer...yet still she lives, and paints beautiful shadows on the bricks beside the fountain.  I also like that green oak-on-oak shadow in the lower right. Cool huh? (Also the fact that I actually have a Burr Oak still alive in Maggie's Wood is awesome.) The north half of Maggie's Wood is full of dappled shade on the grassy floor now, the thing I have been looking forward to for eight years is happening.  The south end is lagging a little behind, but it has had a few setbacks.

                                           Maggie's Wood in shadow.



And look at this collection, lighter, airier. If you have read The Slow Regard of Silent Things, you will understand why I simply had to include the one perfect yellow leaf. (I am looking for the perfect place for the leaf,  its proper place, where it is happy, in my house. Right now that place is in the grass outside. It doesn't trust me yet.)  I love the shadows in her veins and the grass shadows as delicate upright swords, as well as the small scallops on the upper left and right edges. 
     And look what else I discovered while I was looking for shadows: a robin's nest in the oak tree and one fine, blue egg that was left unfound on some past Easter morning, hiding beneath the wild pink rose bush.  I guess when we go searching for beauty, with open eyes and an open heart, especially when we think it will be difficult to find, the Life that hums through the universe, binding us together, grants us rewards along the way. Perfect.

      


Thursday, August 9, 2018

August Birthday and The News

 Happy Birthday Miss M J!
    For her last birthday party in the single digits, Mags chose to have cherry pies instead of a cake. Yes, she does take after her Great Grandma Alice in her delight for doing things differently.  The party was horse and unicorn themed and the two toddlers, A & T, delighted in trotting the ponies around on the top of the kitchen table before dinner.
    Mags and Ev helped me make the pies before anyone else came home and both of them did a  great job. One thing I can say about all my grand kids is that they share in the cooking chores at their homes and so are growing up to be quite comfortable in the kitchen.  That's a good thing. In our family we. do. cooking.
     We had a pizza and veggie buffet, which was spread out on Abbey and Brent's brand new storage cabinets after everyone rolled in. It worked beautifully. It seems like all three households have been on the road and in different states lately and now we are back together and getting ready for school to begin again.  This year we have the two little boys starting Kindergarten together and our Mr. B heading to Middle School for the first time, while we all wait for our new little cousin, Able and Kari's darling boy who is on schedule to be born sometime in November. Let's see.....the November group he will be joining is made up of: My grandma Gladys, Anna, Jim and Nick (sharing a birthday, which is super cool), my friends Christal and LouAnn, and...it seems like either Steve or Mike is in the November group but I don't know which it is. If you are also a November baby, leave me a comment....and my apologies for forgetting you. The wheel continues to turn and new babies are always welcome.




      Here on the farm we are in the midst of the great bathroom remodel, which has only just begun, though everything as been stacked in the music and dinning room for the past two months. It is beginning to drive me bonkers.

The plumbers have been here and done their thing (I did not begrudge paying them for all that clambering around under the house in the dirt and rat poop).  The second carpenter comes on Tuesday to start the larger work. The tile, flooring, paint, and lights, and cabinets have been picked out and ordered. I can hardly wait.
   Despite the mess, Audie's kids and little Alice came for half a day last week while their parents did some Christmas shopping in Enid. Of course there is nothing like a storage room to make for great adventures and explores. We kicked a path to the piano and the instrument box and a great time was had by all.  The two toddlers decided their favorite instruments were the recorders...of course.  We had to insist on there being a time limit to their playing, for the sake of everyone else's sanity.
    There was some playing in the tree house, which ended up with Ro getting stung on the hand, twice, by yellow-jackets, even though I had dragged my body up there earlier in the morning and searched for any such creatures. I had not been thorough enough, apparently.
      I thought the crew might enjoy a run through a series of three or four sprinklers, but the toddlers were having none of it and right then is when Ro got stung and Alice and Thatch began missing their parents terribly and vociferously....wouldn't you know it. Oh well, the grass got a good watering anyway. 

     In the garden, the grasshoppers are taking the place by storm and the Hummingbirds are into their second hatch of babies. Yes, we still do have that larger, meaner Hummingbird hanging around. I wish he would take to the wing and head back to wherever he came from. It won't be long now. They seem to leave in the middle of September around here.
       In the prayer garden, the beautiful Blue Daze are soaking up the sun and heat and blooming to beat the band. I so love this little hot weather beauty. She gives me hope when August rolls around and my love of the garden begins to wane. The Surprise Lilies have also popped up and done their lovely pink swaying dance in the prairie wind for the past two weeks. Now we await the Spider Lilies, which should be thinking about their entrance soon....not yet, soon.
     Ann was here last week, staying at Dad's and cleaning up around his gardens and doing some genealogy work with me. Ann is tireless. She got up one morning, after a rainy night spent at my house, and managed to pull all the weeds in all the gardens on the east side of my house before 10:00 (something I had decided not to do at all, abandoning them to rowdy tackiness and disarray). It looks much better and I am so grateful for her help. I need to buy some more mulch and get my Cody out here to help keep it looking this way.  Mulch should be going on sale about now, so that will help. Ann and I re-mulched Dad's path and the north side of his house and it looks much, much better. As Mom would say: Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance.
     We had no peaches or pears from our trees this year, but we had sweet corn from Ringwood and a few delicious Colorado peaches and Arkansas tomatoes and watermelons from the roadside stands. In sad news: Marsha and I bought a little sack of fresh okra from a stand and then put them in the fridge and forgot about them until they were no good anymore. DANG! We will keep looking; we haven't had any homemade fried okra yet this year. How will we ever make it through the winter blizzards without our summer okra fix? (News alert: We haven't had a winter blizzard here in years...unless you count the blizzards from the Dairy Queen.)
Oh, the cat says Hi.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Poem: The Dream


She has a recurring, disjointed dream, rife

with unease and a growing howling dread,

a terror, glimpsed through closing doors,
 
through lifting scraps of layered memory

flickering with patterned light and scent...

tight, shadowy places tense with fear,

helplessness, and revulsion, as dust motes

drift through lovely stripes of sun light.

She screams her betrayal, again, but

 is powerless before the coming shame.


Whatever birthed the dream, forever changed her.

Now she walks the edges of gatherings, uneasy

and reserved with strangers, taking their measure.

She has become practiced in silent escape, and in

the safety of performance and the written word.

She has learned to be always wary of men,

keeping herself unnaturally naive and apart.

She avidly avoids anything which carries the risk

of public humiliation with its mocking laughter,

                 that thing she can not bear.












Sunday, July 8, 2018

A Wedding on the N.W. Coast


Come away to where the land ends and the great sea begins, to the wave washed, rocky shores of the northwest coast. Come by air, by foot, by whatever means it takes. Borrow the money, put it to credit, hitch a ride with someone you love, share points, bring along the hugs and good wishes of those who can not attend, this time. Find a way, ask for loan, speak the truth that your soul needs the sea, or the embrace of your far flung family. Swallow your pride and ask for the price of a ticket or at least send a representative. Make a way to be there. It's a wedding, a joining of families.

I love this group picture, for some reason. It is flawed, surely; too much light, movement. But I love the mix of faces and families it contains, pieces of family from Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Finland! squeezed into the same shot, each with their own story, separate and unique, but bound by ties of blood and love, happy to be walking the beach together.
    And baby Alice, carried in her parent's arms and carrying her great-grandmother's beautiful name to the gathering. Every family gathering needs some wee little ones who have no knowledge of separate families or distance or history. Toddlers bring their sweet innocence and simple love of people into the room. Everyone is equally gifted with smiles and hugs. Good job, Miss Alice Pearl. You brightened our time together with your shining love of life.


                                         The Colorado Dotters, come from the mountains to the sea.
 Fire on the beach, to mesmerize and quiet, after long days of adventure and talk.  Sharing a log in the chill of the evening, bracelets aglow, each lost in their own thoughts.


         Perfect weather all week-end (what a miracle!) for lazy afternoons wading, playing in the sand and visiting with relatives.  When I see these of pictures of the spouses and families of the spouses of Mom and Dad's grandkids, I flip the experience I had in that moment, with what I imagine their experience must have been.  They didn't grow up with these cousins and therefore have no childhood memories to share. They are part of our family now and are making memories now, just as we are now part of their family and are building history whenever we meet for a celebration or a meal or to sing before the candles on the cake. But I know it must feel different for them, being in the midst of all that chatter and laughter and the 'remembering when'. I know it does, having been in that spot many times with Danny's family.

 The spicy Oklahoma Blakleys, from the prairie.


 Mark and Scott, we saved a place in the frame for you guys because we know you would have come if it had been a slightly different time or place. See, one of you would be on the left and the other on the right.

   
And for Dad, since he was not here to see them, the beautiful Shurtz sisters, all in pink and white. Below are these two newly minted cousins, Bailey and Ashley. Neither of them has a sister to run and play and pretend with, and now they have each other, which is almost as good, and a week to spend in each other's company. Hooray!

And last, but not by any means least, are the grandmothers, with their sweet granddaughters on their laps, sharing a quiet moment, giving others space to visit or walk or work. Baby Jane (on the right) is the youngest member of our extended family at the moment.....however, there is another little one expected in November, a son for Able and Kari, which will bring the number of great-grandchildren to a grand total (for the moment) of 21. Not too shabby a number, I must say.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Embracing Change

     Sometimes I sit down to write and nothing comes to mind. I sit and type and erase and type and erase and sit in silence until I give up and go outside, into the heat, to pull crabgrass out of the Iris bed or check on the baby squash to see if they are big enough to eat for dinner.  For some reason, the poetry muse has deserted me completely. I believe she is off on a vacation to cooler climes or the south of France or the Canary Islands. All I know is, she has left the premises.
      I am one of a few women friends of mine who come together every other week or so to discuss a book and share lunch. For the past couple of months we have been reading and discussing the book The Great Spiritual Migration, by Brian D. McLaren. The subtitle is: How the world's largest religion is seeking a better way to be Christian. The book is about the current mainstream Christian church and how its message and goals have been diverted from the original message and goals of its founder over the centuries for reasons of power, conquest, and wealth. It is also an honest look at the resulting stagnation and decline of the present day church.
      People are leaving the church in droves because it does not meet their spiritual, intellectual, or emotional needs in this time in history.  Its message has become one of exclusivity and elitism instead of the message of compassion and love on which it was founded. It has focused on earning a way into a fanciful future life instead of focusing on living this present life with the courage of compassion, tolerance and acceptance. It has made a point of dividing people into "us" and "them" and keeping the two widely separate: the worthy and the unworthy. This is not at all what Jesus preached or lived. I feel that he would be appalled at the state of the church which bears his name, if he were alive today.
     The book is rich and meaty. It challenges the reader to be brave enough to step outside the box of their childhood beliefs and to think deeply about the history of the christian church, in all its ugliness, violence and fear, and to seek a better way to live in the world with people of differing beliefs and cultures, for ours is a global community now.
     All of us must search for and work toward a way to live together in peace, or else we will undoubtedly succeed in destroying ourselves, and our precious planet, through our insistence on having OUR way as the only way.  There are many ways to love and live, and the world is full of diversity. It is time to celebrate that diversity.
      I will say this again, for it rings so true: To those who have only known privilege, equality feels like oppression. 
      We are turning a corner in the evolution of humankind, and those who have held power and supremacy for centuries are fighting hard and desperately to keep us from successfully navigating that corner. They are throwing everything they can lay their hands on into the road in front of us in a last ditch effort to turn us back to the way we once were, the way that was so advantageous to themselves.
    But those times are over. We are entering a new time. We only have to do the difficult work of letting go and moving on, adapting to the new paradigm and learning new ways of living that will carry us forward into this new millennium.
     Today there is a tremendous groundswell of good works and compassionate support for institutions and organizations that seek to give aid and support to those who are in need and without the power to help themselves. The People are not waiting for the government to do the work, they are picking up their tools, tightening their belts, and walking on ahead, doing the work. They are using technology and the connectivity it provides to move their agendas forward, while the government dithers, argues and accuses and lobbyists throw money at those in power, to control them.
     The huge mass of moderate, considerate, compassionate Americans continue to work hard for peace, and to run for office, and to make positive change in their own spaces, every day, with their words and their actions and their open, loving hearts. (Yes, I know, there are some loud-mouth types on both sides who are making quite a ruckus and putting on a show, but they are not the majority, they are simply the loudest. Don't let them make you crazy. I'm talking to myself here too.) 

     For our parts, you and I must do what we can do, and one of the simplest things is this: we can not allow ourselves to remain silent in the face of hateful words, racist words, divisive words that wound and belittle and judge those who are different from ourselves. We must speak love against hatred, every day, to the stranger and to our loved ones, if need be. It is important, no, essential that we do this one difficult thing. It will make all the difference. It is place to begin.