The Art of Streaming Nature

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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?

img_1744Workout 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 img_1749schools 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….

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I wrote this poem last year while I was subbing at a local high school

Continue reading “The Art of Streaming Nature”

Pausing for Poetry


Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words. 


Robert Frost

New Year’s Eve I brought some poetry to a gathering to share.  The hostess, a dear friend said “this group won’t go for that” but I  read them anyway after the game we played.  One poem was one I wrote myself, a funny one about aging.  The other two were by Mary Oliver, my favorite poet, and appropriate for the New Year.  I hope they were enjoyed.

Poetry makes one sit and pause as the words are distilled down to the essence of experience.  It slows us down and makes us notice and savor the nuances of language.  I think it’s sad that pausing is going out of fashion these days. I think that if everyone paused and read some poetry daily, this world would be a saner place.

Until a few months back I was writing poetry if- even one line- before I got out of bed in the morning.  Before I went to bed I read some poetry. My days began and ended with a sense of groundedness.

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I miss my morning poetry write and my bedtime poetry ritual that I began a couple of years ago.  Habits sneak away sometimes but I want this one back.  The little pink leather journal embossed with an oak tree is now filled up.  Maybe that’s why I stopped writing- but journals are easily purchased.  That task is now on the list for next week.

If you are new to poetry, no worries.  My poetry habit started a couple years back when I,  a non-English major, noticed I was more likely to write in my journal in poetic form.  Then I started seeking out poetry that I enjoyed. (It’s a wonderful antidote to the news) If you have trouble pausing, noticing, or pondering, pick up a poetry book by Mary Oliver. She will get you out wandering in nature in the comfort of your own home. Devotions her latest anthology is wonderful.  Here is a video clip of her reading…

And here is a poem that I wrote about poetry……..

Begin the Day With a Poem

let the lines of beauty

spin a warm cocoon about you

Revel in its warmth

and the protection it offers

from the harshness of this world

Drink in the loveliness

of pure imagery

and let the words

light candles in the darkness

marking a clear path before you

into the garden of hope.

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The Art of Hanukkah

It’s known as the Festival of Light and is a Jewish Holiday that falls close to Christmas. 

According to the Encyclopedia Brittanica “Hanukkah, (Hebrew: “Dedication”)also spelled Ḥanukka, Chanukah, or Chanukkah, also called Feast of Dedication, Festival of Lights, or Feast of the Maccabees, Jewish festival  that begins on Kislev 25 (in December, according to the Gregorian Calendar) and is celebrated for eight days. Hanukkah reaffirms the ideals of Judaism and commemorates, in particular, the rededication of the second temple of Jerusalem by the lighting of candles on each day of the festival.”

I’m not Jewish- but I am. My ancestry is Jewish but my parents raised me and my brothers as protestant. They feared repercussions to us being raised in the Jewish faith.  They did not want us to experience the prejudice they experienced as children. My true heritage was revealed when I was 12.  (You can read about my story here on page 29)  I was saddened to have been denied my native culture because of fear.

 I do not have a menorah.  I am fairly illiterate on Jewish culture but tonight on the first day of Hanukkah for 2018 I lit a tea light candle and said the ritual Jewish blessings. Really, I lit the candle for all people who suffer racism, homophobia, misogyny and all other forms of discrimination and also for the people who inflict those ideas.  May they see the light.  People should have the freedom to practice their religion, have their true sexual orientation and have equal rights no matter what race or gender.

 Let the light of  who you truly are

Shine bright

And may the world

Embrace you

The Art of Getting Out of Bed

hippie-487046_1920It shouldn’t be that difficult.  Most people open their eyes, pop out of bed and voila!- on with their day.  For me, making the transition from Dreamtime to wakefulness is a sacred ritual.  This can sometimes take up to an hour. Even when I was working full-time I always allowed some time for this.

I have a lot of “wild hamsters” that populate my head and if I don’t get them in line my day seems chaotic.  First I brew a cup of tea, heat up my “hotties” for my tight back and then meditate for 12 minutes.  Once my “spousal equivalent” feeds our two dogs, Bandit (Red Heeler) and Dougan (Golden Retriever) he lifts them up on the bed which is the favorite part of their morning as well.  (Nothing like starting the day with four-legged love).  Then he crawls back into bed to read the paper.IMG_1630

I spend a few minutes in my planner thinking about my goals for the day or week.  On to my journal where I may write anything that’s been lurking in my mind, a poem, or a person-984236_1920sketch for some art.

Notice I don’t start the day reading the news.  I fail to see the point of starting the day feeling depressed.  I can always listen to NPR as I go about my day to stay informed.

Then I am ready to transition from human being to more of a human doing with a foundation of centeredness that I carry with me throughout my day.

Continue reading “The Art of Getting Out of Bed”

The Magic of the Deadline

“The difference between a dream and a goal is a deadline”        Unknown

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When I was teaching middle school science my life was run by daily, weekly, and academic calendar deadlines.  When I walked into my classroom door every morning I had to be ready or suffer some really awful consequences.  (Students can smell when you are unprepared).

I longed for retirement when deadlines no longer ran my life.  Finally,  I could concentrate on my art and the other things I had left simmering on the back burner.  It didn’t take me too long to realize that unless I imposed my own deadlines upon myself, my dreams would still languish on the back burner.  As unpleasant as they can be, deadlines can provide a sense of structure and accomplishment- that is if one sticks to them.  Otherwise, count on suffering a hit to your self-esteem.

bieszczady-1002402_1920It’s been a learning process. One thing I’ve realized is to have a series of deadlines mapped out.  Otherwise, when you finish one there is a sense of disorientation that can set in.  Paying for guitar lessons and showing up weekly has definitely insured progress.  My writing and visual arts practices have been trickier.

I usually get one blog post out every week and try to work on either a poem, essay or journal entry every day before I get out of bed.  Recently I joined a neighborhood writing group that meets monthly so I need something for that.  Then I go online to find publications soliciting for entries and mark my calendar with the deadline.  I have had 3 pieces published in the last 2 years with that strategy.

Artwise I just made a huge (tight) deadline applying for a juried membership in Print Arts NW, the regional printmakers association.  It was a lot of work but success!  I was accepted this week and now can put work in their holiday show.

My continuing challenge is structuring my home studio time with deadlines to be more productive.  Having a flow chart posted with milestones has worked before and I’m going to try that again.  Stay tuned…..

 

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Deadline

Dead Line

Sprawled flat in your path

Like giant road kill

Small, undetectable from a distance

Looming larger and larger

Until its great heaving, behemoth body

Brings you to your knees begging

For mercy between pathetic sobs

And muttered excuses

All the while knowing full well

Relief will only come

When you shut up and scale the smelly beast

Head down, focused

Heaving with all you’ve got

Step by step

Leaving all your whining behind

blocking your ears from the siren sounds

Of your favorite distractions

Eventually, you make it

Drinking in the expansive view from the top

Wondering why you made such a fuss in the first place

Until scanning the horizon

You notice a small lump

Blocking your path in the distance

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When Scrolling Was Not a Verb

smartphone-2454611_1920“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
― Albert Einstein

 

I wake up every day still wondering about the changes in this world since I came of age…..

SCROLLING

Name, address, telephone number

Birthdate

Index finger poised I scroll down the years

Down

Down

Down

 

Down past generations xyz

Down before we were gray

And our faces etched with lines

Down when our backs were supple

And our knees strong

Continue reading “When Scrolling Was Not a Verb”

In Praise of Autumn

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” 
― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” 
― Albert Camus

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The Fall Equinox has passed and I am absolutely thrilled to be deep in the autumn colors.  This is the season where I am released from the obligations of tending to biomass.  Living on acreage in W. Oregon we have our share.  We have a big garden, an orchard, lawn and flower beds.  It’s a place where plants like to grow.

The rains have begun, the garden is torn out, the flower beds are mulched for the winter, and the firewood is in and stacked.  This frees up more time to concentrate on my artwork, writing, and music.  I sing in a women’s choir and we are getting ready for our 40401429_1888497791198499_407333225178857472_oholiday show.  Additionally, I play the bodhran, an Irish drum and am learning to play the tenor guitar.  Travels are finished for the year.  It’s good to be home.

Continue reading “In Praise of Autumn”