Wednesday, October 24

Floating Along

Wildfires, tsunamis, hurricanes, droughts, evolution/extinction of species are a not-so-gentle reminder that Mother Nature can be cruel and swift in her actions. Over the past week, I've witnessed Nature at its best and worst and how we, as humans can be quick to turn our eyes away as the cycle of life plays out in front of us, I suppose in an attempt to protect ourselves from the reality that one day, we too will perish.

Last week, a deer was found dead in our lake. According to those who've been stewards of this land for more than two decades, this is a first. As resident staff, one of my jobs is to fix things when they break and if I don't have the skills, call on someone who can. In this situation, there is no fixing to be done, there is only watching and waiting.

When my brain started processing the news of a dead deer in the lake, I thought of the deer first and what might have happened. Tennessee has a four month deer hunting season. We don't allow hunting on our land, but the Tennessee Wildlife Management, who are our neighbors to the southwest, do. I figured it might have been wounded on their land and made it as far as our lake before it died. Regardless of the catalyst, I had a situation to take care of and not the slightest idea what to do, so I called the experts.

This past week, I've learned a lot about the nature of deer. Did you know they naturally go to water to die? I also learned there is a disease spreading through the deer population in our area that is transmitted through the bite of a fly. When I talked to one of the wildlife agencies about our situation, she said, "You only have one deer?" I told her yes and she shared she'd just taken a call from a man who had twenty dead deer in his lake...20.

The recommendation by several knowledgeable people was to leave the deer where it was and let nature take its course. There is no danger of the disease spreading to humans or other wildlife and a decomposing deer will not contaminate the lake, in fact, our turtle population seems to be pretty happy about the new food source.

Have you stopped reading yet?

Communion with Creation is an important part of the retreat experience at Penuel Ridge. The lake is a favorite spot for visitors to decompress. It's a beautiful setting surrounded by forest. It is soothing, meditative. A floating deer carcass could cast a pall over an otherwise tranquil visit.

So, I've posted a tasteful sign that reads:

We honor the cycle of life at Penuel Ridge.
Such is the case at our lake, where a young deer has died.
We are letting Nature run its course and offer a prayer
of thanksgiving for the gift of Creation.

People read it, pause and either look at their shoes and thrust their hands in their pockets or head out the front door and down the lake trail. I myself, go every night at sunset and sit shiva. A few nights ago, after sitting by the lake for about 15 minutes, a great blue heron flew low over the lake and landed on the bank to my left. A barn owl started hoo-hoo-hooting high in the trees and slowly moved down one tree at a time until he too was near the bank of the lake. The three of us sat there until the dusk camouflaged us from each other. As darkness folded in around me, I walked back to the place where warm light spills from the windows onto a cool, green lawn.

Tuesday, October 16

May I have a Do-Over?

Hard as I tried to turn my vibration around, the shit fairy had a delightful time in my life today.

I worked my way through a difficult administrative situation, but then the plumbing overflowed and a dead deer was found at the lake.

Seriously...these are not ingredients for a happy day.

Monday, October 15

Sweating and Stuff

Oh my friends, Day 3 of our Houston adventure went something like this:

Get're feeling a little moist

Have a lovely breakfast...starting to glow now

Take a shower...toweling off, you begin to perspire and need to take another shower

Pick up a 16 foot moving truck...full on sweating is now taking place

Go to the storage unit, marvel at how much crap you were able to keep in a 5 x 15 air-conditioned box...your stuff is as fresh as a daisy but sweat is now streaming down your back, forming a puddle around your feet.

Spend copious amount of time strategizing how you're going to pack everything in the moving truck (read as: stand still and out of the glare of the sun as long as you can)

Stop to drink water, hoping you won't pass out from dehydration

Start moving stuff from point A to point B...rethink wisdom of doing it yourself vs. hiring a professional mover...did I mention sweat?

Begin to swoon from the heat and the stinging in your in reinforcements

Stop to drink water and immediately sweat it out of your pores

Celebrate the arrival of reinforcements, showering them with sweaty hugs

Make the BIG PUSH with all the heavy stuff up the ramp and try not to run over any one's foot in the process

Finally finish 4 hours later...sit for a few minutes in the air-conditioned car...head is now beginning to pound

Drive to dear friends' house a.k.a. refuge from the heat...pry off clothing that is now stuck to your clammy, sweaty body...take a cold shower

You rally long enough to eat something...notice that the pounding in head has come back with a vengeance

Lie down, realizing you have full-on heat exhaustion

Wonderful, sweet, loving friends suggest you stay put and they'll make dinner at home instead of going out as raise your head from the pillow, smile meekly and nod a sincere thank you

Have lovely dinner....feeling a bit revived now...pounding in head has dissipated

Drive 16 foot moving truck to friends' house to pick up final piece of furniture...oops...we fall down, furniture goes tumbling on the driveway...many bumps and bruises will follow

Drive back to dear friends' house and pass out

This is the end of day 3

Sunday, October 14

Lucy in the Display Case with Armed Guards

...the 21st century version of a Beatles classic.

Day 2 of our adventure in Houston began with a stroll through the rose garden at Herman Park. Not the best time of year for roses in Houston, however there certainly was some color and fragrance to enjoy.

Our next stop was the Houston Museum of Natural Science. There, we were greeted at the front door by a good friend and fabulous tour guide, Barbara Hawthorn. She was a gracious host, carving time out of her day to share the tenuous journey of Lucy, the 3.2 million year old fossil currently on exhibit. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the age of this fossil and how I am she and she are we and we are she and we are all together...if'n you know what I mean.

I would have loved to have taken a picture, but alas, the armed and alert HPD officer at Lucy's elbow was not to be challenged. Suffice it to say, if you are in Houston, don't miss this world premiere exhibit.

Next, we entered the Cockrell Butterly Center where heat, humidity, sunshine and butterflies were in abundance. Here are some photos...we spent much of the time in the following dialogue:

"Look!" "Look at that one!" "Oh, look over there!" "I've never seen that kind before!"

This would be one of the times when I am dumbstruck by the beauty of nature.

From there we dropped in at the home of my Houston faith community, Covenant Church at 4949 Caroline (go ahead, say the address aloud with a Southern's like velvet) where we spent a few precious moments with Jeremy Rutledge, saw pictures of second son, Ian and beautiful mom, Sarah and sat in the sanctuary, soaking in the light, love and sacred presence that is so prevalent at Covenant.

No tour of "my" Houston would be complete without lunch at Hobbit Cafe and a stroll through Lucia's Garden. These are two of my favorite spots to dine and shop and they are on the same street! Added bonus was being joined by Holly...dear and wonderful friend and a member of my chosen family.

After lunch, we returned to the Museum and saw the Shang Hai Paleontology exhibits. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see everything, so will have to visit again the next time we are in Houston.

The evening was topped off splendidly with dinner at Little Pappasitos with Holly and Leanne and CAKE! Yes, Holly and I celebrated our birthdays with a mound of Mexican food and CAKE from the Acadian Bakers. We even convinced the waitress to have a piece, which did not take much effort on our part. The CAKE pretty much sold itself.

We returned to Larry and John's full, tired and quickly fell into dreams filled with dinosaurs and fossils.

Tuesday, October 9

One Giant Step Forward

When walking from the elevators to the expansive windows on the 60th floor of the Chase Tower in Downtown Houston, there is a sense (near panic) you're going to walk into not-so-thin air, praying the shimmering heat and humidity will suspend you.

This was the first stop on Linda's tour of my *hometown.

*Yes, I grew up in the small farming community of Katy, but I was born in Downtown Houston, so I'm claiming it as my birthright!

Linda has never visited Houston and only grazed through Texas once on a roadtrip (not of her design) from Louisiana to Oklahoma. I wanted her to experience Texas as the glorious, expansive, vibrant state it is and maybe in the process soften her not-so-stellar memory. Speaking of glorious and expansive...big blue sky and clouds painted by high Gulf winds greeted us on day one of the tour. Look closely and you can see the moon setting in the background.

We visited skyscraper after skyscraper, many I had called "home" at some point in my career and altogether, a spectacular view from the balcony of my house in the 6th Ward.

Bank of America Center

(formerly RepublicBank Center)

City Hall

This took us to Tuesday afternoon. Next was the tour of Omega House, Rothko Chapel, a stop in The Chocolate Bar for some Cape Cod Crunch Ice Cream and then happy hour at Mo Mong's for a reunion with great friends.

Mark & Reesa

Next Installment...Day 2 - Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds