Wednesday, January 28, 2009

the sky and cloud

Good morning. How you all hanging? Good, good...I hope. It is a snowy morning here in the great central Midwest, the dogs do not like walking in the snow unless I'm out there with them. Then it becomes a wonderland to romp and play and eat snow... and of course, turn it yellow. I bundle up like an arctic explorer, silly hat and all and make the best of it. And of course, ever at my side is my trusty camera. You just never know what one might come upon, what small detail might speak volumes to another soul here on the net. Most of my pics come from right here on this farm, it amazes me to no end that the landscape of very little acreage showcases extreme natural changes almost daily. Imagine what my focus might be on vast acreage and mega waterways. Although, I think my shots would still be of the most intimate things, I can't help it- I'm not a power junkie but a precious treasurer.

I notice on the walks I take that I'm often looking down as opposed to straight out and all around. All the experts and heck- even our parents tell us to look up and out, with head down implies cowardice and fear. I don't buy that anymore- maybe that's why I'm such an excellent mushroom hunter! (I am. Really, I am...) And with looking down, you'd think my steps would be sure and I'd never stumble. Quite the contrary- I'm not a very graceful sort, it's not a clumsy way to be- I'm just often so mesmerized by what I'm experiencing, that I stray off course and trip over and into ruts. But while I lay there, usually laughing at myself- I'll notice the sky and cloud formations. And I click, click some more...

And always the sounds around me transform the experiences as well. Every day, subtle harmonies form- different tunes mixing with the same old house sparrows songs, geese flying over head honking like tubas over the string sounds of the wind through the trees. I hear a symphony when I'm outdoors, all I hear is heavy metal inside. It's always a raptorous experience for me when I'm out in it. So attuned to nature am I, I just feel right out of sorts when dwelling inside for too long. But try to explain this to tax collectors, or even a pastor. Nobody buys it, I have been told in my life that it is a sin to connect so strongly with nature. But I ask you- every time I look at a twig, the grass, hear the sky bellowing with thunderous laughter, close my eyes and follow the scent of wetlands- those things aren't manmade...just who the heck brought it all to my devout attention?!

Just well, take care-

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Call Of The Wild

Sunshine and there any better combination? With camera in hand, dogs in tow, Carharts snapped to keep out the wind- I began an adventure out to the great little bit of woods I have come to love and count on. Since October, I had not been to visit my little peaceful sanctuary. "Why?" you ask...because I had forgotten what a restorative place the woods are, the cold and iciness of winter sometimes keeps me indoors seemingly against my will. Nah...I'm just lazy in the little lighted days that present themselves between November and January. But finally, the time had come- the call of the wild hollered out across the fields and I answered.

A favorite activity since I was a child is tracking. After a snow, it's quite interesting to see who's been scampering about, to see where they're going or where they've been. Rabbit tracks across a frozen pond, ending at the edge where the spring seldom freezes- and the still tender grasses there left to be munched on.

As I was entering the woods to the west, Stubby disappeared into a gully where the deer bed down. He yelped, came out running- and this big old coyote thought he had lunch on the run.

(If you click this picture, it should enlarge- much more vivid!)

"What we have here is a failure to communicate..."

As the coyote chased after Stubby, he hadn't counted on Gideon and Gracie on the other side of the gully. I snapped this picture as Stubby raced behind me and Gideon the lion hearted took chase after the coyote.

The dogs and the coyote raced around, in and out of the woods- finally ending with a watchful stance. Stubby's size and the coyotes appetite must have seemed intriguing enough to keep the coyote interested as he continued to watch over us. Finally the labs companionship proved too daunting to the coyote and he loped off into the bigger woods.

But the adventure had only just begun! Gideon worked relentlessly on getting this possum out of a hole. She then proceeded to shake the poor thing to death, or was it merely...

Playing possum!

(I stood around about 30 yards away to make sure this guy resurrected itself. It sure looked dead, with snow caked in it's mouth and nary moving a muscle...but I suspected all along it was playing. Fooled the dogs for sure!)

Hmmmm....this was a really interesting form I came upon. Could it be the missing link? What could make such marks in the snow???
A forty-something -year-old-child at play...

The sun is shining again today! And the temperature is fixing to rise...after work, I may just have to take that walk again, out to the woods, along the path sparkling with diamond dusted snowflakes. Beauty is all around us, even in the cold frame of winter. Like a shutter on a camera, snapping it all up, intimate details exposed.

Hope you enjoyed taking a walk with me, I sure enjoyed sharing the view. Take care-

Monday, January 19, 2009

Timeless Quotes II

Good morning. About a year ago at this time...much like this day, I could not bring much of an interesting concept to mind here, so I posted some favorite quotes. I'm kind of a collector of thoughtful, timeless quotes.

So let it be known that this will be the Second Official Quote Post. (And should you find nothing more interesting to do with this January day either then please- post at will, your own favorite sayings.)

I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.
Diane Ackerman

To generous souls every task is noble.

In the end what matters most is
How well did you live
How well did you love
How well did you learn to let go.

(thanks Jayne...)

Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.
Robert Louis Stevenson

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write,
if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.
What one can be, one must be.
-- Abraham Maslow

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.

- Emerson

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.

--John Wooden

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing the attempt.


Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find it.

--Andre Gide

I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalog:
"No good in a bed, but fine against a wall."
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

I no longer seek to be understood, but to understand. I do not seek to be loved, but to love.

--St. Francis of Assisi

Cherish your visions. Cherish your ideals. Cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all heavenly environment; of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.

James Allen
"Why, I did not know we had quarreled."
Henry David Thoreau on his deathbed, when asked by his aunt if he had made his peace with God.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Allerton Park

The blank screen. What to put here today. Hmmm...I haven't met my caffeine quota yet. I woke up and was so thirsty, I'm on my third glass of water. I'll float to the privvy later. Now for some interesting content. Another Hmmmmmm...this winter has been long and lamentable. Not much snow but plenty of ice. A few weeks ago I visited Allerton Park near Monticello. It's only 60 miles from my door, but I had never been. A friend told me about it in terms of it "being special with an abundance of statues and gardens" and "I just had to see it". So I did.

The day was warm for January, though breezy. I drove down I-72 towards Champaign Illinois. Not much in the telling there, although I do remember seeing about 200 geese huddling in the sunshine along the banks of a farm pond. I wanted to get out and take their picture, but there was no where safe to park along the highway, so I just remembered them there, soaking up the sun. I took the Monticello exit and turned right down a seemingly barren frontage road. A sign finally directed me to head east towards Allerton Park. The road then slowly became tree lined, with branches and tree tops arching over the top of me as the dappled sunlight made it's way through the leafless stems. I wanted to take a picture there too, but a car was behind me. So again, I remembered the way those trees seemed so inviting and lovely, growing in a way that was graceful and flowing. Up over a hill and then to the left of me a farmhouse nestled in a cove-like little bit of woods. On to the next best thing, the actual park. I parked my rig next to a long cement building, never knew what that was for. Wandered across the road to an entrance secluded by a privet hedge, and walked through the opening gate. A very small sign said "Please close the gate behind you." I lifted the latch and walked through. Not much direction afforded, so I wandered at will. I was in a narrow strait of gardens lined with taller hedges, about 10 feet at least. Before me, I could see a silhouette of a statue, standing out taller than the hedge with the sun so perfectly blocked out behind it that the figure became illuminated. From my dark alley, I did take a photo.


There, out in the middle of the prairie- I thought: This is really something. I felt like pinching myself, could it be that someone felt so fully of life that they just couldn't help but sharing something of themselves and their love of beauty and Illinois that they just smack dab dumped a ton of money into a park for nature and art's sake? I learned later, that is just what they did.

Sea Maiden (One of a bronzed pair)

The Three Graces

I will include a link in case you want to go. I did not fully see the whole park, I was merely on a quick trip to see where I might take my Big Fish when he visits in a few weeks. I imagine he and I will walk hand in hand through the trails and patches of woodlands. He is an artist and might appreciate the parks perks and minuses. The simplicity of Allerton is what makes it so accessible to anyone. I think we are each to find something of ourselves there, by meandering or sitting in the perfect spot for our precise spirit. Again, there is not much direction afforded at the park's entrance- perhaps that is what makes it so alluring. To wander, to stumble upon, to sit, to become immersed in the sensual, serene beauty of Allerton Park. Highly recommended.

Allerton Park Website

(I researched a bit about what other folks had to say about the park, a most common comment was "serenity".)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

shirk actually

Allerton Park
(This picture has nothing to do with this post- I just really like it.)

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

The Talmud

Oh man. Just when I wanted to shrink a bit, shirk actually- from my responsibilities, I get a message like that quote. I tossed and turned last night, yes sirree- no peace for me. I worried about everything, seemingly all at once while laying in my bed just before snoozing. I say I'm going to sell the house (I am) I say I have so much to do (I do) I wonder if the kids will be alright (they will) I slipped a couple a thousand bucks to the local college for their tuition, leaving me feeling like a giant vacuum just sucked out my savings (it didn't...)

Needless worry or purposeful feelings? Heck if I know. Forward motion seems to be the ticket most needed now. I've had a week off of work due to the holidays, and by golly if I didn't mostly just eat out alot, put the cleaning and the packing and the going through on the back burner. I did hang out with the kids much of the time though. My gift of a Wii to the whole family hit the nail right on the head for get togethers where we actually get together and have fun. This is completely off the subject here, but- the Wii is a wondrous thing. It's cheap entertainment (comparatively speaking) and gets the old heart rate up. And it is not a benign apparatus, it really gets you moving and shaking and every muscle that hasn't been utilized in awhile gets a workout. I couldn't touch a controller for two days, how I ached!! Even when you're not participating, it's hilarious to watch the devotees swinging at the invisible tennis ball headed their way.

So, all and all a post of many colors here. I've noticed that my entries seem to be getting longer and longer. Is this a problem? "The long and winding road, that leads to your door...."(more like the long winded story.)

Oh well. Have a good one. Keep your chin up and your butt covered. Because nobody wants to see your southern exposure. Well, maybe it could be funny...if you just mooned somebody out of the clear blue. Maybe that is what I need, a full moon. I feel like howling.

Take care-

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The latch never fails

I just realized that I have been writing this blog for one year, as of December 2ND.

Do you know why I started writing a blog? Me either. I think it had something to do with someone whom I greatly admire encouraging me to write. But I remember feeling inadequate, how does one write if one has never taken the proper courses or educational opportunities? Is it possible to write without knowing how to write? There are many who write, the blog nation is heavily populated. Sometimes I check out the "Next Blog" prompt- many of those I have come upon are written in languages new to my eyes. Many blogs appear to be rants and are often ugly, hit and run bashings. The landfills are not the only public places full of garbage. But- to each his own.

The human spirit amazes me. How on earth do some people survive? Why don't they use their poor excuse for a life like so many others and just give up and spew more garbage?! Could it be they have found a most necessary element of living- being grateful? Why is it so hard for people to open their eyes to their blessings? Don't they know the past is locked in, there is no key to open that door, that the future is limitless but cannot be obtained now, no way no how? I know it may sound too simple and perhaps a bit Pollyanna-ish to say, but the moment to live is now, the time to be thankful is ever present, the breath you take at this very moment is a gift. Oh sure there are moments I wish I could race through, not feel them, get past them. There are people I encounter that I just want to shake. There are children in this household (some coming, some going...)that I wish would just wake up to their responsibilities- their potential. But the best I can do is have faith in them, love them all along and anyway. I'm the only one I can really change. My response to their actions requires a great deal of love, all that I can afford. I'm awful selfish in that department at times. I know it hurts them, though I don't often see that hurt until it is almost too late. But then again, it never truly is too late- every opportunity to begin again is always there. Once I get past my misgivings, my ego- I can relate again to them in a loving way. The only way. Being on the right path is difficult, and made so much more so because I think I know the way. I don't. But when I'm on it, I feel so intensely peaceful that things just seem to flow, fall into place. That's why I continued to write this blog- for a year. I was only going to do it for one full year. Find my voice, my authentic telling of the day- my perception. But that is not what happened.

All my ramblings were not so much my voice, but a voice. The perception did not come from me but from an inner voice that merely echoes timeless truths. The holy spirit is alive and well in me, the divine spark- whatever you want to call it- really shines. I'm not making this up. I wish I were, then I could go back and be my bumbling mumbling self. I could drink till I was dry of all torment for a time. I could shake my fist at the world with ugly words and say I deserve deliverance. Because I've been to hell and back and know the path well- but who hasn't? Everybody has a brick to carry, everyone bears a load. Everyone. No one on this good earth has got it easy. We all get waylaid sometimes, some have a whopper of a mess for a life, some truly- by no guilt of their own. Some parents were no parents at all, they were just biologically serving. And yet, their children found it within themselves to rise anyway. They did not use excuses, they used strength of spirit. Again, these kind of accomplishments amaze me- to no end.

So, as I can- I'll keep writing, bringing to light the stories that amaze me, the moments that inspire me, the hardships that bring me down to my knees. If I find a greater good in my day, I'll keep sharing it. If I find a bit of humor, well I'll try to bring that too. If I have a rant, just bear with me- I'll get through it somehow, usually by either finding the beauty, the absurdity or the oh well! in it.

Oh, by the way- the house is out from under construction. The new bathtub upstairs is serenity. The walls everywhere shine eggshell off white. The light over the stove(the one I've been waiting 18 years for...)is magnificent. And the new door off the back porch- actually closes on it's own, the latch never fails. If I say "just like love", you'll groan. So I won't say it, it's merely written here as a disclosure, a reminder. But it's true.

Take care-

Friday, January 2, 2009

But instead...

(Exquisite sunrise-New Year's Day 2009)

Good morning, this second day of the new year. I thought my post, as of New Year's eve would be of taking stock, lessons learned, etc. But instead- my youngest son was in an accident, almost unscathed- and I've been walking around here not entirely sure of my feelings. The most pronounced and immediate response was "Thank God you are alive!" We all cried and hugged and listened to how badly he felt, how he was such a screw up (he being the only 18 year old to ever wreck a car) how he no longer feels invincible... What a day, unexpected-turn-your-life-upside-down-in-a-moment day. And then, yesterday- I just wandered around after cooking everything I could get my hands on. And then there was the laundry to finish and the floors needed swept and the Christmas to come down...And then outside again, I found myself.

The questions I asked my alive son perhaps were the questions I never got to ask my other one. I couldn't seem to separate the incidents for a time, actually grabbing my son's toes and shaking them periodically. Crazy.

"It's good to be alive, isn't it?"

"Yes, mom."

"Were you scared?"

Of course he was and couldn't really talk about it.

"Why didn't you call?"

"I didn't want to bother you guys..."

And then more emotional outbursts on how he has upset us so. But we maintained, over and over, emphasized with hugs and hand holding-

"Cars can be replaced, you can't. We're glad you're alive. Thank God."

That's pretty much how the conversation ran in circles. After my wanderings and busy, busy...keep busy- I realized that I was utterly powerless. I couldn't save him and I couldn't keep him invincible. We may all say we know that, deep down. But when you're put in the predicament of a parent's worst nightmare- believe me, you think you too are invincible and could keep safe the child from all accidents, bullets, drinking, drugs...When it comes right down to it, the only stronghold you have is hope. And dear, sweet hope sometimes flies right out the window and sets you to wandering again, looking for it.

Was it in the ham and beans and cornbread I made yesterday, perhaps in the lemon cake? Yes, a few of those ingredients included hopefulness- baked right in and then sprinkled on top. He had to eat, I hoped this would sound good to him. (He loves cornbread.)

Was it in the dust and dirt and Christmas tree remnants I swept up? Yes, perhaps if the floors shined so, the pain and misfortune wouldn't be noticed so much.

What about the laundry, any hope in there? Well yes in fact- clean, good smelling underwear can perk a body right up.

Mathew is signed up to start school later this month, he referred to that event as a big step up for him. He is really looking forward to it. But now this, and just when things were looking up, he screwed up again...(His words). So all the hope that I could muster- could clean sweep and bake in and make bright- I laid it on him, thick. It's all and everything I can do.

So fragile is this life, handle with hope.

(And later when he is all healed up, physically, mentally, spiritually...I plan on whacking him upside his head when he least expects it and telling him-"Don't you ever take your life so irresponsibly for granted again, and do not ever put me through the hell you have, I brought you into this world buddy, I can take you out...")

Take care-