Scavengers

Image by Klaus Stebani from Pixabay

I like to draw parallels between we humans and the natural environment that surrounds us. This poem was inspired by my recent trip to S. Arizona…

Estate Sale
The scavengers come from near and far
reaping the benefits from the death of another
facilitating their survival 
in this harsh desert environment

the jay 
the crow 
the coyote
the vulture 
the beetle 
the packrat 

You’ve got to get there early, one resident explains to me
a hint of excitement in her voice
People show up before they open, often forming a line down the block
It’s a weekend past-time around here, says another. Great deals to be had
If you can wait until the second day everything is 50% off
I’m hoping for those lampshades she indicates with a lean of her head.
Even at Walmart lampshades are expensive

We walk almost reverently through the house 
that is no longer a home
The contents of every cupboard are exposed on the counters and tables
like the innards of roadkill on the side of the road.
Glassware, dishes, appliances, knickknacks, furnishings.
Easy pickings
My thoughts turn to my mother’s home 
soon be open to strangers
there to snatch up her cherished things I must leave
all at bargain prices
She would be aghast but she is gone

The jay waits
the crow spies
the coyote lurks
the vulture circles
the beetle crawls
the packrat scuttles

waiting to feast on what is left
to circulate among the living

                                                                                                                                                
Image by Eveline de Bruin from Pixabay

Please visit my other blog on sustainable living onesweetearth.blog

Sparking Joy in 2023

Boganuary WordPress Challenge Jan. 1

From my new Lisa Condon calendar.
Mars

The New Year 2023 Started with some good omens, sunshine for one- always welcome in my corner of NW Oregon at this time of year.  The other was my 60 lb Cattle dog mix, Mars, jumped in the shower with me.  Since I got him 2 ½ months ago he’s always seemed fascinated with the shower, sticking his head in and catching streams of hot water.  This morning, thinking he really did want a hot shower, I said “come”, and he gleefully joined me.  If you are a dog lover you would see the delight in that. Plus, it’s an easy way to wash your dog.

I gave up the New Year’s resolution tradition years back seeing it as a recipe for disappointment.  Instead, I have a word (or words) of the year that can act as a guidepost for my annual journey.  I keep them posted in my journal and day planner to deep up the intention.  Last year’s were commitment, generosity, and focus (focus was a repeat from 2021).  I am happy to report I had a decent outcome with those.

So without further adieu, drum roll, my new word of the year is JOY.  After 3+ years of pandemic and political turmoil, a knee injury, and the passing of numerous friends and family, I’m ready for some.  I have this saying, “ spend as much on yourself as you do your car and your house.”  I’m so due for a little repair and maintenance.  This includes…

  • Shopping for some new clothes and ditching my threadbare clothing
  • Monthly massage & chiropractic for my poor aching back
  • Artist’s dates, library dates, field trips, and other little self-care tidbits that put some spark back in my life.

Author and home organizer, Marie Kondo begs the question “does this spark joy?”  That will be mine for the coming year.  I hope you take some time for joy too in 2023.

A Toast for 2023

It’s the season of new

the Earth has spun through the heavens

and arrived at the place we call the beginning

a bookmark we humans have put in the order of things

the New Year, the first day of the first month of the 23rd year of the 21st century

All is new, yet all the same

a cycle in a continuum of millennia

yet a comfort that we have a fresh start in our minds

Shall we proceed then with our new slippers

virgin calendars full of exotic pictures

day planners devoid of marks

and forge on with gusto?

for we have been given another turn

a blank canvas to paint another 12 months upon

Let us mix up our palettes with new intentions

hope, faith and the unseen circumstances that will surely find us

stroke, splash, and drip with abandon

make your marks with love, touching others with color

bringing forth new memories

painting this Earth a brighter place

The Zen of the Pause

The day after Christmas there’s this cosmic exhale.  It’s like a switch flips from the hysteria of the holidays to thinking about the New Year to come and cleaning up the mess of the old.  It’s the time of not doing, not shopping, not cooking, and not decorating.  It’s a time of regrouping.  It’s a good time to read, reflect, and rest.

Austin Kleon calls it Dead Week.  I prefer to call it the Pause, the little grace period between old and new.  So as I pause, I wish all my readers, the ones I know and the ones I’ve yet to meet…

                          HAPPY PAUSE!

                                   See you all in 2023

The Zen of Sourdough

Years ago I used to bake bread frequently- until I discovered I was gluten intolerant.  I missed the bread and the process.  Then this last year I discovered I could make a decent sourdough in a dutch oven.  An all sourdough bread will consume the gluten in the proofing process making it digestable for me- as long as I use organic flour.  I’m sensive to all the chemicals in regular flour.  Now I bake bread weekly.  I find the ritual of baking bread a meditative & sensual process.  One must be very in tune with the dough to know when you have it right. A bit of biology, chemistry, intuition, and a touch of alchemy can make four ingredients so delicious!

Sourdough Bread  

Flour, water, salt, starter

Combine, then gather with your hands

sticky with dough

Let the mixture rest 30 minutes

Form into a ball, now baby soft

Let it sleep while you sleep, eight hours or so.

Wake to the white mound doubled

Gather again, caressing this living substance back into a ball,

Place in a cloth-lined proofing basket

like you’re putting it down for a nap

In 3 or so hours this colony of wild yeast will reclaim its rightful size

Gingerly invert the dough from its basket

Score your design into its skin then

carefully lower it into a hefty cast iron pot

and slide it into the oven preheated to 450 degrees

Cover and bake for 25 minutes

Remove the cover and bake 15 minutes more until browned

(Savor the aroma of baking bread wafting through the house)

When the final timer rings

remove your lovely loaf and wait one final time for it to cool.

Saw the knife blade through the crust releasing the first slice,

exhaling the breath of wild yeast

Slather some butter on the warm bread

Savor and share in good company

Here is the link for recipe I use. (I cut down the water to 1 cup for a more workable dough.)

Photos, sketch, and poem by the author

Tune into my other blog about sustainability at onesweetearth.blog

Planting Seeds in Winter

Today I went out in the brisk sunny air to do some planting.  First came the garlic that takes up an entire bed in my garden.  Then it was on to plant Pacific NW native wildflower seeds that I ordered from Steele Acres.  I marvel that some seeds need the harshness of winter to flower in the spring.  Perhaps we do too.

Even seeds sown in winter

Bring forth flowers in the spring

While planting I noticed a some delightful tiny groves of mushrooms and a miniscule very late violet in the very right side of the last picture. You never know what you might find out in the garden…

Photos, sketches and poem by the author.

Please visit my blog on sustainable living at onesweetearth.blog

Aftermath

Four months after being diagnosed with heart/lung cancer my husband’s daughter and my stepdaughter, Heather died peacefully last night in the hospital surrounded by family and friends. A beautiful young woman living the peak of her dreams. She is missed.

Heather and her husband Jerald
She is gone now
After she took her last breath
we exhaled deeply
bearing the pain of loss as her pain is no more

Our loved ones are like trees
they grow providing shelter and food for our souls
and when they fall they leave an empty space in our hearts
Yet in this very space is light
so their seeds planted within us will flourish
with the memories, stories, and lessons
that they have left behind in their wake

We hold our sadness close
continuing our journeys as better people

In memory of Heather Ann Woltz Winfrey

July 24, 1984 – October 27, 2022

Age 38

Daughter, step-daughter, wife, sister, and friend to many

Heather welding with her Dad

What to Do When You Don’t Know How Else to Help

My husband’s daughter, Heather was just readmitted to the hospital with the final stage of cancer. Last Sunday we had her and her husband Jerald over to share a meal with us. Reflecting on this experience afterwards, I wrote this poem…

Stage 4
The hiss/swish of her oxygen unit keeps time
like a hydraulic clock in the background
We converse and laugh 
carefully avoiding the minefield of reality
the dark mist that surrounds us all
Her lashless eyes morphine heavy
Her head chemo bald
The nasal cannula that hangs from her nose
connects her to the lifeline of air

The decline of her shocks me
There is no longer room for miracles
How can I help in her mortal struggle?
All I can do is prepare a homecooked meal
with apple crisp for dessert
We savor it in the company of family
around the table in the warmth of my kitchen
Maybe that is enough

Morning Glories

Those few little seeds I planted several years ago bring me more and more morning glories every September. This year has been the best season ever. Even the UPS guy stopped in his tracks to ogle at their beauty. Mingled with scarlet roses it’s quite a show.

Morning Glories

Morning glories light my path 
as the day unfolds
Trumpets of majestic purple 
and simmering pink
announce the end of summer
a surprising coda as the garden fades
a blessing to walk beneath 
this arch of glowing flowers

Photos and poem by the author

Please also visit my blog on sustainable living at onesweetearth.blog

Beyond the Golden Gate

I had the privilege of sailing on the San Francisco Bay with dear friends, John and Diane and their friend Bob,  on their 41-foot sailboat, the Giselle, last week.  I grew up in the Bay Area and had never gotten the opportunity before- in fact, I had never been sailing

We departed from the Brisbane Marina on a blistering hot 100-degree day with an audience of pelicans, cormorants, and gulls parked on the break of the marina as we left. The bay with its breezes offered welcome refuge from the heat, especially as we neared the Bay Bridge with its collision of currents and choppy waters. The Giselle tipped side to side from one 40-degree angle to the other as we tacked into the wind.  This requires a lot of coordination and movement from the 3- person crew as the sail needs to be released and winched from side to side.  I was merely ballast and shifted position from port to stern as the situation called.  Oh yes, and I was the wench who held the wrench for the maneuvers.

Continue reading “Beyond the Golden Gate”

Resilience

We returned from four days at Paradise Campground, a favorite camping spot in old growth forest on the McKenzie River here in Oregon last week.  It was our first visit since a devastating wildfire swept the area in the summer of 2020.  This was one of our favorite camping and kayaking spots. We were devastated when it burned.  The fire destroyed thousands of acres of forest taking a multitude of homes and businesses with it.  Thankfully, the upper McKenzie where we would be camping was spared.

Continue reading “Resilience”