Friday, December 21, 2007

A Trip to Mr. Hooper’s Bountiful Neighborhood

November is typically the month to review things I’m grateful for, but the spirit that wafted into the corners of Christmas this year reminds me that blessings come in all shapes and sizes, unexpected and sometimes preconceived as burdens. I am humbled and amazed by the blessings I have experienced this year, so grateful for the journey that has brought me to this place, and for my traveling companions who have been varied and unique, both from the bits of “road” we walked together, to the unassuming and simple lessons learned; unveiling glory in the very tiny moments of life. This is the gift I offer to those far and near, in search of their own peace this christmas season.

One crisp autumn morning in the not too distant past with nostalgia firmly settling into the corners of my mood, I set out for what promised to be a “real” adventure; returning to my roots and discovering some layers of meaning in them as well. Being the dutiful granddaughter I was brought up to be—feeling a little resentful that this duty had fallen to me—I had agreed to be the chauffeur for a day to my aging grandparents. Our journey, appointed to begin at 12 sharp on a fine Saturday afternoon late in September, began with the “pick-up” of the two elderly folks--my aging grandfather and his second wife, hazel, who for descriptive purposes is at the very least forgetful and generously speaking, known to repeat herself until everyone present has had a chance to memorize her each and every word. On this day we had planned a visit with grandpa’s brother arch and his wife Aileen, in Hooper, a town about 1 hour to the north where the Jones kids were born and raised.

At 85, my grandfather suffers from arthritis, among other ailments, which is centered, mainly in his legs, and he finds it difficult to walk at times and tires easily. Our trip that day was, as my grandpa put it, “what might just be his last chance to visit with his only living brother”. Uncle Arch is the oldest of the nine Jones children in my grandpa’s family and at 91, he and Robert E. are the last two Jones siblings still living. He also suffers from arthritis like my grandpa, but his condition is considerably worse, and he is unable to walk at all showing even greater signs of wear.

We established our rhythm for the day right off the bat as we made the trip from the house to the driveway. These two genteel folks slowly scuttled toward the car, a process taking 45 minutes, during which time we were beset with many roadblocks including two returns to the bathroom, one for a lost purse, several phone calls, a final search for the house key and a confirmation (3x’s) that a check had been written for the boy who was mowing the lawn (he was actually grandma hazel’s grandson, a fact that floated in and out of her memory so that he was simply referred to as “that lovely boy who mows the lawn”.) Two of the calls involved a change of plan. You see Aunt Helen—grandpa’s youngest brother Evan’s widow, would like to go and could we stop in bountiful to pick her up? Yes we could and stop we did, not just onceto pick her up, but twice; first for a bathroom at a nearby gas station, and then in bountiful for Helen.

A cheerful and lively woman, 70 some odd years young, Helen added a chatty flavor to our party and we finished our drive with talk of construction traffic and kitchen renovations. It seems Helen needed a new fridge but couldn’t find one that fit in the space that had all the features she liked. What do you think is more important, an icemaker in the door or being able to get into the kitchen when the door to the fridge is open?

As we finally exited the highway in the direction of Hooper, close to the shores of the great salt lake, my grandpa perked up and began entertaining our party with interesting tidbits of history about his first trip to Salt Lake with the high school debate team, and how one year his dad gave him a plot of land next to the house and told him he could keep the profit of whatever crop he raised there—sadly that was the year the bottom fell out of the tomato market and the factory offered him almost less than the cost it took to raise the vegetables so there would be no money made that year, and finally of each house in town—who had lived there, how they were connected to the Joneses and what had become of them (if he knew). I soon found myself a willing captive on this odyssey—willing to put up with the idiosyncrasies of age to learn the history firsthand of this wizened old patriarch, and in turn some of my own.

We wound our way through town, past the local market, and Aunt Addie’s cottage, to a pleasantly kept old farm house and garden (that I vaguely remembered from a childhood visit) set amidst the building of track homes and developments that used to be fields where the Jones children once rode their horses to school. Entering the farmhouse, I recognized a much older and thinner version of my great uncle arch seated in the living room. Unable to use his legs, he beamed a smile across the room at his brother bob who had come from the big city to pay a visit. Great Aunt Aileen (another second wife—a little younger—relatively speaking, with slightly more mobility) was bustling in the kitchen preparing our meal. She assured us she hadn’t gone to any extra trouble and in fact had simply pulled a roast out of the freezer; the rest of the meal was fresh out of the garden. Comprised of corn on the cob, two types of freshly pickled cucumbers, and the biggest and reddest tomatoes I’d ever seen sliced and eaten plain—Aileen later mused about how Hooper was once famous for its tomatoes and her experiences at the cannery, but technology had influenced a new and improved growth in California and Hooper had lost favor in the tomato industry. Hazel followed suit in storytelling and presented for our memorization through constant repetition, a story of how as a girl she used to take a salt shaker out to the garden and sit in the dust and eat tomatoes fresh off the vine.

The rest of the table was laid with cantaloupes and watermelon from the melon patch, baby peas sweet with ripeness (my own peas that year from my first attempt at gardening had turned out sour so I was thrilled) and fresh baked bread. this meal really “having been no trouble at all” for aunt Aileen was topped off by a delicious, and still warm from the oven, peach pie for which Aileen had spent the morning collecting peaches from the orchard floor because a great wind had knocked them to the ground the night before.

After such a feast, which was “no trouble at all”, you might imagine all involved were ready for a nice afternoon nap. After little more chatting and nostalgia over the past, including a review of all the grandchildren, great grandchildren and all their news and spouses, we set off once more for the return trip. Grandpa, showing wear from this journey, didn’t want to end his day without a visit to the local cemetery where many of the jones family had been buried--including his parents. Not a far drive from the farmhouse, we peeled our now sweaty and weary selves out of the car and stepped back into the afternoon sun to walk amongst the headstones of my ancestors. Over the noise of the rider mower, grandpa, our troubadour and guide, recounted stories of the names we saw carved in marble, and in his eyes I beheld a recollection of a life swelling with bitter sweet memories that kept him company when he was still. Tears formed in my eyes as I learned of my heritage and embraced the simple beauty of the moment. Soon our road weary company piled back in the car and passed a relatively silent and introspective ride home. With farewells bidden to Helen, Aileen and Arch, I safely deposited hazel and bob at their home and left them with a fridge full of tomatoes and squash from Aunt Aileen and promises of speaking soon.

On the drive to my own home and many times since, my thoughts have wandered back this Journey. My heart beats with gratitude and warmth for an aging and somewhat doddering old man, full of the eloquence of years; who shared with me on a warm autumn afternoon, part of his life story and part of himself. I am thankful for the rich heritage in which I proudly take my place. At the time I agreed to make the trip it was difficult for me to sacrifice the time and effort to transport a bunch of old folks to visit in their past, but I gained so much--love, understanding, a common bond from the journey. In retrospect, I realize an even more valuable lesson--In this life we all go through hard times, good times and meet many challenges, I recognize we are all just a bunch of old folks at different stages of aging--searching for love and understanding—creating a common bond, if we are willing to share it, on all of our journeys.

Monday, December 17, 2007

what is this "nation" of which you speak?

i'm curious about this state of the nation that has appeared
to descend on me with full force over the past month or so,
whether i like it or not. The "state" to which i am referring
is the "hiber--nation" and it has closed in on me like the frost
on a canadian wolfhound's muzzle in a snowstorm.

over the past few years i have grown much more conscious of so many things as they relate to the seasons, tide, cycles of the moon, resonance with the natural world, but this has really been the first winter that i have been conscious of my own inner cycling attempting to go into hibernation. i am struck almost daily with an inner conflict of the me that means business all the time, and the me that gets things done by setting the intention and moving in that direction. for years, and i mean a whole lifetime here, the me that means business has been the leader of the pack. (hey if we're building a nation, there may as well be a pack of us that live here right?) As i learn a few things about myself, and open my eyes to a more conscious me, i recognize that there are different ways to live my daily life--not by changing the things i do or really even say, but by changing the way i am, perceive, respond, feel, choose to recognize, risk, love and relate with those around me.

the business side of my persona--run by the ego--has a plan for absolutely everything before i even get up in the morning, even if i don't have anything on my agenda for the day. the ego side of me plans what to wear, how to fill the hours, where to go, what route to take, what kind of coffee to drink, hair up or down, up or down, up or down, boots or heels, boots or heels, boots or heels....etc., etc. etc. silly ego, sit, stay...stay.... this is the game i have now entered into with the ego/business side of me. to tame the rabid beast into moments of quietude. how full can one person's head be of all this minutiae and effectively live a life? let me rephrase that, i'm so damn grateful that somehow i became aware of the question "how full can my head be of such minutiae, when my intention is to be living from my heart?"

so this place of living from the heart is a new habit for me, and while i operate from that place with more consistency each day, the ego is a hard habit to break. this brings me back to my original query regarding the state of the nation. truly with the seasonal shift into winter this year, my heart and soul--responding to seasonal, emotional and perhaps spiritual cues moved into some level of hibernation. it was not a conscious choice that i made to settle in for a long winter's nap, but like the bear to it's cave, my self that creates the movement--whoever she is today--is answering a subconscious call to sit, stay...stay... it is a temporary cease fire, if you will, between the doer and the be'er inside of me (funny how be'er is really beer without an apostrophe, i do wonder about the significance of that). my ego me is so incredibly impatient for results, results of things just begun, or even imagined; while the soulself understands the nature of a time for "ebbing" allowing the universe to catch up with intention--allowing long flexed muscles to build and store energy.

if you sort of say the word hibernation with a french accent, the "b" can ever so easily be heard as a "v" and then things slide into focus. if the word is hiver(not hiber)--french for winter--then this pack of selves just shifted into winter mode. and "en hiver" one must do as the bear's do, and go into hibernation, the spring will bring such glorious surprises won't it?

Now playing: Soul Coughing - Coffee Song
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Xander's land of the Tinies

This story is a little long for this space, but is an answer to a request for a young boy named xander who doesn't feel all that well too much of the time, is in and out of the hospital and who loves to hear stories about adventure.

Way across the sea, past the land where children’s dreams are the stuff of real life, in a the tiny forest of Woldenvale, lives a magical and wonderful people known as the “tinies”. The very tiniest member of this clan is named xander and he is the hero to all the land.

Not to very long ago there was an upset in the vale, so great—that
ander’s mother and father didn’t know what to do, his magical faery aunt didn’t know what to do, even the king of the land didn’t know what to do.

A dark and ominous cloud had floated over the vale, darkening the sky—almost so dark that daytime didn’t shine, and raining down sad and woeful thoughts over the whole land.

xander never even noticed the cloud. As the very tiniest of tinies, he didn’t often get to the top of the heap and wasn’t used to seeing the bright sunshine all that often. He carried a beautiful and shining crystal in his pocket that glowed so brightly, it was all he needed to light his way. He would wander the forest floor, discovering the amazing and brilliant secrets the forest held—secrets like where the faerie king kept his shiny magic stones, and how it was possible the woodland nymphs could sometime be seen in two places at once, and his best secret of all was why the great and dark cloud had covered the vale.

One of xander’s favorite places was all the way to the end of the forest where the mossy rocks led right down to the sea . .

One day while playing in the rocks, xander dropped his favorite shining crystal right off the edge into the sea. Now this did make xander just a little bit sad, and he sat peering deep into the water hoping for a glimpse of his powerful and shining crystal before it dropped out of sight.

Before it completely disappeared, xander’s eyes blinked several times in a row to see if he was dreaming. The glowing crystal began to rise back to the surface of the water, and as it rose it shone brighter and brighter riding right on the nose of the most wise-looking and smiling sea lion that had ever graced the shores of the vale.

Xander didn’t know if he should be afraid of the sea lion and he drew back from the water, but the sea lion began to sing, the music came up from so deep in his throat and was such a beautiful song, that xander began to sing right back.

This was the first time the sea lion had ever had anyone on land return his song and he began to cry. Xander reached out to wipe the tears away from his eyes, and as he did so they turned into tiny crystals themselves. Then the sea lion spoke in the most beautiful and warm voice you could ever imagine. Xander had been feeling a little unsure to this point, but when he heard this voice, he knew this was his long lost brother who had jumped into the sea years before when the voice of the mermaids had lulled him to the sea.

In the years since they had seen each other, xander’s brother, lucazia, had become the king of the sea lions ( in a story that must be told another time—because this is the story of xander’s triumph)

with their newfound brotherhood rediscovered, xander returned to the shore every day and spent time in the waves and the deep with his brother, never noticing that the dark cloud became darker and more threatening over woldenvale every day. Finally, one morning, xander’s mother told him she thought it would be best if he stayed home because the dark cloud was so frightening and so dark that he might not find his way home again. Xander gently began to cry and took his mother’s face in his hands and looked her right in the eyes. When they both had looked so long and so deep that all was silence in the room, xander told his mother that if she would let him go to the shore just one more day, he would bring the light back to the vale. There was no doubt in her heart that xander would do just that and so she let him go.

Xander quickly ran through the darkened woods, past the faerie circle of stones where a great council was meeting to discuss what to do about the darkness, right past the toadstool castle where all the forest creatures came daily to listen to music of the wood nymphs, down the mossy rocks and jumped right into the chilly and dark water. He dived so deep and so long that even xander began to wonder how deep he would go; but then he saw what he was seeking…it was his glorious and shining crystal, sitting right on top of a pile of sea lion tear crystals. The closer he got, the more brilliant the light became and xander finally stopped just to look at the beautiful rainbows of light that shined everywhere around this crystal tower.

Suddenly, lucazia appeared to xander and asked him how and why he had come so deep into the ocean world of the sea lions. With that xander began to sing, this was a song he didn’t know was inside of him; it formed as it left his lips and told the story of how the light of the world was dimming, and was calling for a gift from the sea to reignite it. Lucazia told xander that the gift was not possible and the ocean’s waters needed their crystals to empower the tides and waves to roll in and out in the moon’s light. xander took his brother’s face right into his own hands, they touched noses and breathed in each other’s breath until xander could feel the water of the ocean become the breath that he breathed.

Then xander knew that he must give a gift of much greater value to the ocean so he could bring back the light of the crystal to woldenvale. He knew he must choose to stay and live in the deep and peaceful waters of the ocean joining his song and his spirit to the power of the tides and the moon before the power of the crystal could be brought to the surface. Lucazia agreed this magical offering would be enough to bring the light of the crystal back to the surface and to burn the dark cloud out of the sky--allowing the light of the sun to join its sister moon in the powerful sky once again.

So this is what xander did, staying in the water kingdom with his brother--he sang his song stronger and stronger every day. He left the ocean just once more to bring the brilliant crystal to the toadstool castle. once there, its light and brilliance changed the song of the woodnymphs into a glorious choir whose song could not be contained. The dark cloud lifted and burned out of the sky above woldenvale.

Some evenings xander’s mother still wanders to the shore to hear the song of her two beautiful sons; the king of the sea lions and the hero of woldenvale. This brings joy to her heart and she sings her own song of peace walking back home in the light of the moon.

cc llama farmer 2007

photo credit for many of the nature photos goes to see site for these and many other amazing photos:)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

is it the beatles or something i swallowed?

Just a little prose from my current blogtag challenge. thought i would post it here, until i am inspired with another topic...

Jansen Bright had always been interested in saving lives and the sea--including seafood, in that order. It didn't surprise his mother when he joined the coast guard instead of going to college and was still the youngest man on his crew. For his youth and puppy like willingess to “go overboard” to do a job right, jan endured frequent verbal rib poking and practical jokes. Rather than going ballistic and ending up on some criminal science survey course list for “must study serial-killer psyches”, he would blow off steam crabbing in the early mornings to keep his head clear and bring in some extra money.

The bright family had always lived quite an austere existence and jan had not learned extravagant needs, the money he earned was tucked away quietly for a rainy day. The best opportunity crabbing did afford him was time to think and become quiet for a few moments each day. Not a luxury he found among his shipmatesin the guard , jan came to love the silent moments on the water, whalewatching and crabbing, as much as he loved the adrenaline rush of jumping into the drink to pull a waterlogged survivor to safety. Now reflecting on the silence around him, jan realized both the silence and the chaos in the water represented his fondest memories of love—remembering his deepest connections had come from time spent at the shore or sailing with his family. His spirit soared when he was allowed to express his inner nature while on the sea, in whichever outlet it took. In certain moments he realized when he expressed, what his girlfriends had always classed his-- "chewy center” through these labors of love, he was at his most joyful.

As he looked around him at the floating sea kelp and distant reef--out of the corner of his eye, jan thought he glimpsed his father coming in his direction. Long since gone from this world, it didn’t seem possible and the image faded as quickly as it had arisen. A whisper rippled through the water reminding him of how much he worshiped his father. Never having been very close, jan had always fought to earn the approval of his dad and had chosen a path that mirrored that of this man he admired so keenly. The “ghost” of his father quickly changed into a memory—one of his very few from childhood that didn’t include the sea—watching his parents swirl about the living room to the notes of yellow submarine. Typically his father would be dressed in a crisp, clean uniform and his mother just returned from the beauty parlor with a new up-do with some sort of waltz in the background, but on that far-distant day they sensually and almost casually circled each other in grubby jeans and t-shirts after a hard weekend day of clean-up and chores; the looks passing between them obviously the secret language of love that jan sought to decipher his entire adult life.

For a moment jan wondered what part of what he was seeing was real; the dancing parents or the breaking waves? He had spent countless hours gazing out at the sea already in his lifetime; watching whales pass by with their young ushering them to safety through treacherous waters, considering the migratory patterns of the waterfowl that appeared during high season each year, and imagining himself as a part of that amazing journey. Now jan’s eyes blinked back tears—if that was possible underwater—as he realized his imaginary life had finally returned to encompass his real life. As the storm raged overhead and finally bested his youthful strength, jan let go and took the water into his lungs. With his final, saturated breaths, jan recognized his father as he beheld him approaching through the water. How fitting to see him again here, in this lyrical, underwater garden where the arm of the starfish is magically re-grown and the eight-arms of the octopus, like the powerful, weaving legs of the spider; reach out to offer another life-giving safety net. As jan sank into unconsciousness his thoughts turned to regrets of moments in his own brief life that had not yet been lived; it wasn’t until much later, sprawled out on the deck of the search and rescue boat and coughing up saltwater, that jan felt he had finally opened his spirit just enough to realize he had always had the approval of his father, and his underwater apparition had been the liminal, lifesaving moment of the recognition and embrace of that love.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pay it Forward

(does used hat with old broach= "home made"?)

my wonderful friend, gabi, at got me started on this one. at christmastime i get a little over ambitious about crafty items--so i am happy to pay a few of them forward.

The commitment is this:

“I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, which is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.”

I love this idea of sharing handmade items in the spirit of just that- sharing something you’ve created with the only condition being the promise of those you’ve given to, to then share their talents with others and so on and so on…. yes!

So I am making the offer, as stated above, to the first three people who post a comment on this particular post. I’ll make you a handmade item and send it to you as soon as I can finish it- a the very least in the next 365 days and you just have to promise to make the same offer on your blog. Let’s Pay it Forward with in this tiny way!
I’m not sure who started it but it seems to be going strong- let’s keep it up!

bomrot.gif freshflowers_09.gif

Monday, December 3, 2007

blogtag 2: going to the show

i usually post my blogtag on my myspace account, but am having technical difficulties. you can follow the blogtag at . the assignment for the game was to use the 2 photos (to get the entire gist of things you must follow the thread of all the blogs of the challenger)

(to be read out loud with a childish british accent, as if you had a slight cold)

me before the show

Dear diary— Today was the bestest day of my hole life. Mummie told me way long ago that I could go an watch my favorite game at the show, not on the tv. Me an mum wach a lot of tv an that is my favorit, but going to the show is rilly my best favorit. The day did not start so good, mum made me eat nutrishunal biscuits agin cause she thinks I don't poop emuch—I hate pooping, it stinks.

Then the day got verie, verie, verie good when my girlfriend came round. She is calld penny and I laff al the time when I here that because she is not monie. But I call her penny now because she cryed last time I calld her carol. I like the name carol way more than penny, but mom said you cannot just call a different name to someone if you don't like there name. weerd, huh My name is Gordon, the kids call me gordo and I never cry about that cause they are rilly my best frends.

When penny got there, I got to stop eating those gross biscuits and finish getting reddy for the show. I love the show, I get to ware my best tennie runners cause that's the game. Evrywon wares there tennie runners, but theres are way more classic than mine. Mum says I can by classic tennie runners when I have a job of my own and no the valu of monie. I think mum is funny, I already do all the hard jobs cleaning the w.c. and I make my bed everyday, and she still dusnt give me the rilly good shoos—what kind of job is she talking about?

We got to ride the toob to the show and there were so many people, I almost wet my nikers when a big ugly guy sat rite next to me on the toob. Finaly we got to the place with the rilly big doors and the huge grass, where they play the game. Penny acted sort of stupid is you ask me, she acted like she had nevr seen so many chaps in one place and wanted to ring her mum. Sometimes I think penny acts like a baby, but she has soft boobies and smell like peprmint so I ignore the baby stuff. Mum says we all haff to do are part.

I loved the show, the chaps in the best wihite shortpants I ever saw were the ones who got to play for the tv. Only are seats weren't so grand. Mum said that thing about a job again when I asked her why we had to sit at the tippy top—why do I have to clean more w.c.'s just because we have stinky seats? then she said something about nosebleeds, but i havent picked my nose til it bleeds for a rilly long time.
Then the best thing happened at the show that I ever saw, and not just on tv—some one very fast in a big coat started playing on the grass. He was not supposed to do that, it was not his turn, but he brot decorations for his game and started putting them all over the grass—they lookt like big pink popsicles and I felt hungry. Me and penny were laffing a lot and so many people by us told mum we better shut it. Other people in blue coats (I hate the blue coats) started chasing the guy on the grass only he finished his game first and pushed the button before they could catch him. I guess he must have practissed so much to be so fast and his game was so fun.

Wonse he pushed the button, the fireworks went off—and then me and penny rilly started to have fun. the fireworks sent a hot spark that cott my hair on fire. Mum didn't think that was fun either. Old people do not no what is rilly funny like kids do—I want to go to the show evry day. One old gent said people do not no how to show respekt to wimble dome like they used to—I think he was crying. Was he talking about my new haircut that looks like a dome?

after the fireworks we had to stop on the toob stop where haircuts are—so I could get this new haircut, my ears feel cold, but penny thinks I look like corky from the tv, so I like it to. I'm hoping mum will let me go to more shows soon, I would like that for a job

me after the show

Sunday, December 2, 2007

shadow dancing

journal entry November 10, 2007 from the desert
--into the west, shadow work
i'm on a solo meditation on the broad, red-rock. the sun shines brightly warming the air, but not strong enough in its wintering zenith to heat the face of the stone. a very light breeze plays with the baby hairs along my hair line and the same playfulness is matched by the two courageous crickets that keep me company. clothed in their camouflage browns and greens they must feel a kinship as my garb is much the same.
one little fellow felt so kindly he hopped right onto my thumb and began munching. i never realized crickets had such clenching little jaws and quickly let him know i was not on the lunch menu this day. my stillness and observation call to mind certain moments in childhood when, at the end of a long hot day swimming in the summer sun, i would lay my tired body down on the warm cement poolside, its slightly tangy smell of metal would mix with the chlorine in water dripping from my nose and eyelashes. the long shadows cast by the sun as it set in the west painted a shadow of my profile on the sidewalk, and as my body dried in the sun, i would make faces in the shadows--noticing my lips, my nose, my long luxuriant eyelashes that dripped with pool water--and i would hum a little tune inside myself; pleased to be so still and breathing in my own essence so deeply.
now sitting here upon this rock i am called to wonder--is it that our shadow work frightens us because of the danger held within--or is it simply because we have lost contact with that "deep within"--the place which holds our heartbeat and hum--that would love to be held and warmed in the sun, hummed to and rocked, recognized for its own song, its singular reflection? this moment, this now of awareness is welcome--i do not jump to care for the shadow--my shadow--because it is in pain, but because i love it, i am grateful for the awareness it brings , the depth it creates, the song it sings.