(1) ironweed, (2) unknown, (3) fuzzy caterpillar, (4) paw-paw
Saturday, August 23
It is a gift to hover on the periphery and bear silent witness to the coming together of souls.
Friday, August 22
The feeling of accomplishment in bringing tasks to closure was palatable today. After marking a major task off the list, my body went limp and demanded rest. I wonder which is my natural state of being, task driven and upright or prone and contemplative?
So much to do a task list was created. Where is the natural rhythm? Two weeks ago, my desk and work was in order. Today, it is chaos on the surface and in my mind.
A day dedicated to wellness (and shouldn't this be every day?), to liberation from pain, to the restoration of mobility. Blue Bell Peaches and Homemade Vanilla ice cream and an evening with fellow writers was the balm needed to soothe this battered body.
Simple hospitality in the form of warm bread from the oven, a resolution to keys locked in a car and being in conversation with children.
Last week, we gave a man a sleeper sofa, this week he returned for a dresser and brought bagels as a gesture of thanks. This was an opportunity for grace and I knew it in the moment, not hours or days later and was able to receive his gift with my whole heart.
Creating a welcoming space for fellow writers to revel in our love of the shared word.
Thursday, August 21
I have my duck, let's ride!
First stop, the Post Office...no big bag of dog food here.
Second stop...the bank. What's this? Nice teller lady is handing me a dog biscuit.
Are there no big bags of dog food in the vault?
Final stop, the grocery store...magical land of big bags of dog food.
Hurry Momma, hurry!
Me, my duck and the big bag of dog food have made it home safely.
Bag is open, am feeling weak.
I praise the dog food gods for opposable human thumbs.
Very good Momma. You have performed your duties well.
KINDLY FILL MY BOWL!
time after time
tide pounds the shore
with the hulls of seafarers who
time after time
are drawn to the illusion
of safe harbor
Widows walk on rooftops
as mist and waves swirl
time after time
through hollow bones,
singing their song of goodbye
Tuesday, August 19
Two years ago, an orthopedic surgeon delivered the stunning news that total knee replacement surgery was the best treatment option for me. Really, I thought? This might be a good time to haul out my inner health care advocate and ask some questions. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Tell me about the surgery. What kind of material is used, how long does it last, what's the recovery time, etc...?
OS: Mumble, mumble, mumble. We don't know how long it lasts. Recovery varies from person to person, blah, blah, blah.
Me: I'm sorry, you don't know how long the artificial knee will last, not even an educated guess?
OS: Well...maybe 30 years.
Me: 30 years? So you're telling me that in my mid to late 70's it will need to be replaced again?
OS: Something like that.
Me: What other treatment options are available, especially considering that I'm one of the millions of Americans who is uninsured?
OS: You don't have insurance? [he calls the nurse in and mumbles something to her, she leaves the room quickly]
Me: No, so what are my options?
OS: There's a new medication, here's a pamphlet that explains how it works, but it's expensive and I don't think in a case like yours it's going to be very effective.
Me: A case like mine?
OS: Yes, you have an advanced case of osteoarthritis. We could try a cortisone injection and it will either give you temporary relief or your body will reject it, like an allergic reaction, which will aggravate your knee even more.
At this point, I'm staring off into space considering my options when the nurse comes back in and hands the doctor something. He starts poking hard around my knee cap with his thumb. The pain brings me into focus and as I'm asking him, "What are the side effects of a cortisone injection?" he jams a huge needle in my knee.
Although it was reprehensible for him to treat me without my permission, that cortisone injection did the trick and for two years, I've been mostly symptom and pain free, until now.
So, tomorrow it's off to the clinic with the hope a doctor will jam a big needle in my knee and fill it with cortisone. In the meantime, I adjust the thawing bag of peas, swallow some ibuprofen and ponder what it's going to take for this country to create a workable health care program for everyone.
Sunday, August 17
There's a saying I've heard since moving here, "If you stand still long enough Tennessee will grow right over you." How this translates into the outdoor experience is, when not locked in the snapping jaws of drought, you are surrounded by a monochromatic expanse of green. As I walked in the woods, the slightest variation in the predominant palette caught my eye.
Here are a few Sunday Snapshots proving that Mother Nature does reward the attentive observer.
Red berries = birdfood
The absence of color in this fungi is colorful against the forest floor.
A sugar maple bloom?
Friday, August 15
High shrieking voices
Too vibrant colors
Think midway games at a Hitchcock-inspired carnival. Yep, that pretty much sums it up.
If one is very good or very lucky, the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee might be your wakeup call. This morning I awoke to the aroma of paint...neither good nor lucky.
Juggling balls of fire, on a unicycle, blindfolded, with one hand tied behind my back. Entertaining as hell to the onlooker, but to the person in the ring a bit treacherous.
A hug from a father newly sober, no longer homeless, rebuilding his life and home with love, blessings and hope.
The vibrational difference between gratitude and appreciation became clearer to me today. This clarity has helped me be more intentional about how I use these words in dialogue. Gratitude is comfort satisfied or discomfort alleviated, a state of reaction to the resolution of real or perceived discord. Appreciation is a sensitive awareness to all that is good, a feeling created from a place of abundance rather than lack. For example:
Gratitude: Thank you for the bowl of soup you gave me as I had nothing to eat.
Appreciation: Thank you for sharing your soup with me. Your kindness and generosity is appreciated.Monday
A day of emotional and intellectual dynamics that started pianissimo, crescendoed to a double forte then dropped back to pianissimo by the end of the day.
Tuesday, August 12
Monday, August 11
While working at my desk, I lower my right hand from the keyboard, palm up and dangle it by my side. Mocha gets up from wherever she is walks over and puts her chin in my hand. I stroke her head and neck. She leans into the petting and walks forward, turns around and walks back so I cover the length of her body. Eventually, she'll lie down next to me. I never look at her, speak or stop working, but there is an exchange between us.
We must have developed this ritual years ago, but until today, I was not consciously aware it was happening. For the past 5 or 6 years she's gone to work with me, which means we are together 24/7 nearly every day.
Knowing we have a bond that requires no words warms me deep within.
Friday, August 8
Hiking through the woods this morning, we could see our breath. It's August. What is this gift revealing itself as vapor and tingling skin?
Voting for the first time in Tennessee.
Falling asleep so happy, like a child without a care in the world, my hand tucked under my chin.
Someone who minored in English said to me, "That Emmy Lou Dickerson, she's my favorite poet."
Celebrating the power of words punctuated with grace.
"I am a human being, so nothing that is human is alien to me." Terentius
Baking bread for those who will spend hours or days at Penuel Ridge. That warm, yeasty aroma permeating every inch of this house.
A dialogue between a mother and daughter.
"I don't know," Magda says. "Seems like that's just how it is with you and me. We're like islands on the moon." "There's no water on the moon," says Annemarie. "That's what I mean. A person could walk from one to the other if they just decided to do it."
Homeland and Other Stories, Barbara Kingsolver
Thursday, August 7
juice on your pages
honeysuckle perfumed air,
secret diary breached
cicada song drones
sheets sway in the mid-day sun,
sweat slips down the glass
lather rinse repeat
again and again the same,
her long braid undone
swallow bitter, black coffee
rub the tender place
just below your earlobe
repeat in silence
until the cup is empty
the morning paper
mark the tender place
with a smudge of newsprint
give voice to the words
that glide under your thumb
at a table for two
she looks up and sighs
Everything is just fine,
she whispers under her breath
Wednesday, August 6
She's quick to sound the alarm if there is movement or noise she can't identify. While all the sitting and staring was going on, a retreatant had the audacity to walk across the floor upstairs, over our heads. She immediately cranked up the low threatening growl that precedes the all-out barking frenzy. As the human I was able to assess that this act of walking across the room was not an eminent threat and we were not in danger of being disemboweled. To encourage her to stop growling and stave off the barking frenzy, I pointed my index finger at her and said in a stern momma voice, "NO." Heretofore, this has been an ineffective disciplining technique, but for some reason, I keep doing it and she keeps ignoring me...until yesterday.
Do you know what she did when I pointed my index finger within inches of her nose and said emphatically, "NO."?
SHE LICKED MY FINGER. Slurp!
I don't know who laughed harder, her or me, but she did stop growling!
Tuesday, August 5
It's blooming right now and if you've never heard of or seen this plant, here's your chance. I had intended to take photos of the diminutive, vibrant flowers, but kept forgetting. The other day, a blustery summer rainstorm was moving in, so I grabbed the camera and bolted outside. It was so humid the lens kept fogging up so the photos look a bit ethereal, but you can clearly see the blooms.
This plant also goes by the name Devil's Backbone, but I think I'll stick to the name my grandmother taught me...Redbird.