Recently I met for coffee with a friend that needed help starting a blog on WordPress. After building the “infrastructure” of the site we talked about content and posting.
This got me to thinking about the intent of my blog and how I go about finding ideas for my posts. Originally I was motivated my blog was to promote my artwork but blogs tend to evolve on their own (see I Was Supposed to be Blogging about My Artwork). After 2 1/2 years of blogging my posts range anywhere from the creative process to what is going on in my personal life.
When I was a young woman embarking on my life’s journeys I wrote pages of heartfelt letters to friends miles away (see Letters to the Universe). That process gave me so much perspective on my life and the world at large. Letter writing in our busy digital age seems to have become a tradition of the past. I miss them. Unconsciously, I think my blog has become a series of letters written to the universe. I have no idea who might read my posts. The important thing is that I write them and send them off. It makes me pay attention to my life- a sort of a writing meditation. I’ve been a bit inconsistent as of late. We’ve had some health challenges in our house making blogging more difficult to fit in. Life happens. You do what you can do. Continue reading “A Conversation with the Universe”→
Last week was difficult. I had to put down my almost 14-year-old Golden Retriever, and the little stray cat, Lizzie that adopted us last year died due to complications due to feline leukemia. Dougie was a devoted companion for years, Lizzie a bright spot in our lives her sweet face peaking in our screen door requesting a meal.
It got me to thinking that these creatures we love are just borrowed souls- and I do believe animals have souls. Our pets connect us to our best selves. Their lives are far briefer than ours but add so much. Theirs is a language of the eyes, of touch actions and acceptance. Now the grief has subsided, I am filled with gratitude I had the privilege of borrowing their sweet souls on their short stays on planet earth.
The following poem speaks to all the dogs that have shared my life’s journey…..
IN MY GOOD DEATH
by Dalia Sheven
I will find myself waist deep in hight summer grass. The humming
shock of the golden light. And I will hear them before I see
them and know right away who is bounding across the field to meet
me. All my good dogs will come then, their wet noses
bumping against my palms, their hot panting, their rough faithful
tongues. Their eyes young and shiny again. The wiry scruff of
their fur, the unspeakable softness of their bellies, their velvet ears
against my cheeks. I will bend to them, my face covered with
their kisses, my hands full of them. In the grass I will let them knock
It was unlikely that we’d find each other- a big man that pumps concrete connecting with an artsy middle school science teacher, but we did.
We were to celebrate 19 years of being together as “spousal equivalents” by spending two nights at the Cannery Pier Hotel that juts out into the Columbia River in Astoria Oregon. Massages were on the books. I’d always wanted to stay there and have a romantic getaway. There we would lounge around in a lovely room while sipping glasses of wine watching tug boats maneuver barges and huge cargo ships up and down the Columbia
As luck would have it, our 14-year-old Golden Retriever, Dougan was on his last legs, and Lizzy our adorable little feral cat that adopted us, disappeared and returned quite ill. We were hardly in the mood to celebrate so we canceled. No matter- we enjoy our days together. Another time awaits.
I decided that 19 would trump 20 as a big milestone. It’s a prime number that hardly gets any recognition being overshadowed by its next-door neighbor, 20. I find comfort celebrating the obscure, including feral cats and second-hand dogs.
Both of us had been married before, twice each. This time we decided to shed all expectations creating a framework that worked for both of us. We lived apart for the first 8 years raising our own kids. No use complicating things. We have been cohabitating since. Our hearts bind us rather than a piece of paper. The foundation of our relationship is built on mutual respect- which we both work on.
Beyond all the other complexities of life, the chance to be loved and loved back by other humans (and furry four-legged) is where it’s at. You don’t have much without loving relationships. Lucky me. Lucky us
The hotel will still be there. When the time is right eventually we will get to watch the tug boats guiding their ships on the mighty Columbia River. Continue reading “#19”→
It’s a risky business calling yourself an artist or a writer. People tend to hold you in higher or lower esteem than you actually deserve. Then there is a matter of assumptions… Attend a social gathering and then introduce yourself as a brain surgeon to one group a people and then a waitress to another. You will be treated accordingly. Thus I prefer to avoid labels entirely preferring when asked what I do using more of these descriptors:
I write, I make art, I play guitar, I sing, I garden, I am recovering from teaching middle school, or whathaveyou. Then there is the added pressure of living up to your label. It’s far more enjoyable to be a verb.
I would rather be a verb than a noun
I would rather emerge, shine, fly, dance
And kick up my heels
Rather than just be a person, place or thing
Let me describe an action, state or occurrence
And wedge myself in the predicate of a sentence
Give me the energy to escape the box with a pretty label
The start of our winter was mild with temps in the upper 50s and sunny skies. The bulbs were fooled into poking their heads up a month early. I worried about another summer of unseasonably warm temperatures and drought. The snowpack was low. Now our familiar Western Oregon weather has returned. Rain and even a little snow dusts the yard. There was even enough powder snow where friends and I drove up to Mount Hood last week for a day of cross-country skiing. I haven’t been able to do that in years.
I celebrate winter. This is my creative time. It is a time to come inside, literally and figuratively. Nature needs rest and renewal and so do we.
THE RAINS CAME
And the humans complained
But not the Earth who soaked the sky water deep into all its pores
Nor the trees who quenched their thirst in grateful gulps from deep roots
Nor the bulbs gathering strength for their dazzling spring displays
Nor the deer hungry for tender green grass
Nor the salmon longing to swim upstream
Nor the bees dreaming of anthers heavy with gold pollen and pistels leading to chambers of sweet nectar
Nor the seeds shivering with anticipation of their impending emergence
Nor the bears conjuring images of plump berries in their sleep
Mary Oliver, the great poet is now no more in physical form on this earth as of January 17,2019. She leaves a huge void but in her wake is a monument of poetry and prose of her making. I never used to care for poetry. Poetry was presented to me in school like nematodes to be dissected in biology. I ran from them Then years later her poem, “Wild Geese” brought me to my knees. I was converted. Years later I am writing poetry. What power words can have!
Mary Oliver was a sage who connected the dots with spirituality and the natural world. The long walks she often took in the woods near her home provided much of the inspiration for her poetry. Those poems became the vessels of profound observations, questions, and ponderings and blessed the lives of many, including myself. She did far more than just visit this world. It is a better place because of her.
Yesterday I was doing my home exercise routine when my zippy Irish music was interrupted on Spotify by one of their ads (I’m too cheap to buy a $ 120-year ad-free subscription). It was an extra-long commercial about Spotify Premium and the many reasons I should upgrade. The last one was something like this “Never be without the music you love! Stream anywhere, even when you are offline!” This got me to thinking why we always need content streaming in our ears? Have we lost the value of quiet?
Workout routine done (don’t be too impressed, I don’t work that hard) I changed my clothes and headed out the door with my 13-year-old Golden Retriever for a ramble. We drove to the Benedictine Abbey less than 10 minutes away for a walk in the woods. They have a series of trails that they allow the public access to.
Car parked we headed off. It was a relief to be out of the house and in the fresh air, sweet with the scent of coming rain. We headed uphill on a muddy trail, thick with woods, mosses, ferns, and lichens. The calls of hidden birds surrounded us as Dougie and I made our way up by a gurgling stream with miniature waterfalls. By gosh I was streaming a real stream! An unlimited sensory experience brought to you by NATURE!
Imagine what I would have missed if I had earbuds in. I think about the students in high schools I sub in. They are constantly with their earbuds, listening to music, watching videos, checking social media. What about the sounds of birds and the ruminations of their own thoughts? I’m sad for them.
It was a lovely walk. I spent a lot of time observing and looking for ideas to include in my paintings in my new online painting class. You might see some things from my photographs in my coming artwork….
I wrote this poem last year while I was subbing at a local high school