books

books on the dresser

I bought a new book yesterday. It’s getting a little  out of hand…

books on the stairs

books on the stairs

I keep giving them away, yet they seem to be multiplying like rabbits.

books on the nightstand

books on the nightstand

There are actual bookshelves in this house…

books on the bathtub

books on the bathtub

There are several bookshelves actually, with books on them….

more books

more books on the dresser

See that book up there ^ with the ripped cover?  The title is “Getting Things Done” … I started it several years ago and never got it done…

books on the coffee table with MoonPie eying them warily

books on the coffee table with Moon Pie eyeing them warily

…and don’t even get me started on the journals…

journals on the floors

journals on the floors

s

…think calmly and well upon this whole subject.  Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time.  If there be an object to hurry any of you, in hot haste, to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it.

–Abraham Lincoln

 “The moment you fall in love feels like it has centuries behind it, generations–all of them rearranging themselves so that this precise, remarkable intersection could happen.  In your heart, in your bones, no matter how silly you know it is, you feel that everything has been leading to this, all the secret arrows were pointing here, the universe and time itself crafted this long ago, and you are just now realizing it, you are just now arriving at the place you were always meant to be.”

-David Levithan

I started Every Day yesterday and finished it before 9 this morning. I slept and dreamt in between, but the story called me awake early this morning. I’m not sure if it consumed me or if I consumed it, but I do know I haven’t read a story that held me hostage like this in a very long time. This is the tale of a body-snatcher….kinda.  “A,” the protagonist, wakes up in a different person’s body everyday, though (s)he has no control over who and where. Sometimes A is in a male’s body, sometimes in a female’s body, and (s)he doesn’t particularly identify with gender one way or the other. This is how it’s always been since A’s earliest memories. Each host is A’s chronological age – 16, and (s)he can access the hosts’ memories to get through the day without messing up the host’s life, which is typically A’s goal. That changes when A falls in love with the girlfriend of one of his hosts.

This is such an original and fascinating premise for a book. The ending vibrates.  David Levithan, please, please write a sequel!

“If you want to live within the definition of your own truth, you have to choose to go through the initially painful and ultimately comforting process of finding it.”

–David Levithan

2015-07-14 08.16.55

 

7 a.m. Sunday morning.

Gardening is a never-ending labor of love I muse as I begin gearing up for the ritual. I don the white vestments, the boots, gloves, hat, glasses, and braid. Only then I am ready to meet the Mistress. I open my door to a surprised hummingbird. We regard each other a moment before she flits away. I gather supplies and materials while the wasps and bees still sleep. Time and other trappings of the world recede until there is only the dirt and the things in it, living and dead. Weeds are ripped from the earth; the worms beneath them churn wiggly and wet. Beetles and spiders run for their lives.  Secret ant cities are uncovered, their nurseries revealed. The ants abandon whatever plans they had for this day to grab their babies and rush them to safety. The whole colony fights for survival in this sacred space where love, duty, and instinct meld into one indistinguishable force.  Blood is spilled over the roses, a sacrifice they demand regularly as thorns prick and stick fingers through gloves. God is in Her place.  All is right with the world.

 

There are some things you can only do with love. You will know that you have love when you do one of them.  --Walter Anderson

There are some things you can only do with love. You will know that you have love when you do one of them. –Walter Anderson

July & August Garden Goals

  • Plant the seeds for the fuzzy pink flowers in the front bed and containers.
  • Split and replant zinnias.
  • Prep the raised beds (weed and add compost).
  • Plant rainbow chard, musclun lettuce, kale, collard greens, arugula, and romaine in the raised beds.
  • Plant oregano, cilantro, borage, bee balm, and chives in all the right places.
  • Weed front flower bed,  cover with weed fabric, and mulch.
  • Plant garlic?
  • Water, water, water

 

Dear Garden People of the Internet: What wisdom regarding growing garlic can you impart? The spring’s attempt did not work!

 

~*~

The Garden

The cherub and the virgin Mary,

the Buddha and the garden gnome –

all the garden statuary –

talked in spring of how things grow.

Buddha said, “From compassion.”

Mary said, “The Lord above.”

Gnome replied, “It must be magic.”

Cherub sighed, “It must be love.”

And it rained then

in the garden

and they all stood ’round

and witnessed in stillness

and listened to that lovely sound.

And St. Francis in the corner

spoke up the gathering.

“Peace,” he said is most important,

“Peace for all the living things.”

And the stars burned,

and the earth turned,

and the sun shone down.

And they knew then in the garden

Life was stirring in the warming ground.

And St. Frances stood entranced

as Cherub watched beguilded.

Gnome’s hands laid on his sharp spade.

Mary gave thanks

and Buddha smiled.

–Peter Mayer

Walter Anderson's boat

Walter Anderson’s boat

Love called me here.

–Dante, The Inferno

Our lives improve only when we take chances — and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves… [The] greatest risk of all: to be vulnerable, to allow others to see us as we really are.

–Walter Anderson

My palms got a little sweaty just typing the title of this post – that’s how nervous putting this resolution “out there” makes me.

Someone near and dear explained this same feeling during a conversation earlier this week.  Regarding an idea for a project he had been keeping top secret, he said, “I didn’t want to speak it into being because once I tell everybody, then I’m basically bound to make it so.  People will start asking me about it.”  The idea of being held accountable for pursuing your dreams is a scary prospect indeed.

Writing has  been a recurring theme in my resolutions over the years. “Write everyday” and  “get my work published” are just a couple of the variations. My work has seen publication several times now – once in dissertation form and several times in the form of co-authored articles in academic journals. I will not minimize these accomplishments. It was rigorous work and I have a lot of respect for science and the people who toil and revel in it.  If I had been honest with myself though, I would have abandoned that work long ago instead of getting caught up in other people’s notions of who I am and what I should be doing with my time. Being invited into collaboration was thrilling to the ego and working within an institution provided a fair degree of comfort and security. I learned a tremendous amount through the process, but I never felt particularly free or autonomous enough to write the things I wanted to write in that context.

Writing is something I do on an almost daily basis whether I’ve resolved to do it or not.  It’s how I process things. I think the format of a book will help keep me organized and focused. Because it is an independent project, it will require more self-discipline. This is why I decided to put this one “out there” instead of keeping it personal – I don’t want to back out of it or make the usual excuses to myself.

The topic of the book evolved from a presentation proposal I submitted on a whim to a yoga conference.  I never thought it would actually be accepted, but to my horror and delight it was. After I spent several months researching and preparing for the talk, the conference was cancelled.  I was both devastated and relieved – devastated because I had been looking forward to the conference and the trip and I had invested a lot of time and work into the topic and I wanted to share it.  I was relieved from having to deal with a somewhat stressful situation.  I was way out of my comfort zone. Public speaking does not come naturally to me.  Also, this conference was business-oriented instead of the academic/research-oriented type I’d experienced in the past. The good thing about the stress was that it kept my effort sustained and moving in one direction. That direction felt right. Now it’s a matter of changing the format and continuing the effort in book form.

Inferno

I’ve been working on a choreography for Emma Shapplin’s The Inferno for months now.  The song stirs something in me that badly wants out. A version of the song is embedded below.

After months of reading, thinking, listening, and moving, the idea is finally beginning to find some form in motion. I need to finish it.

The quote in the image above was taken from John Ciardi’s translation.

Yes, there’s a lot aflame around here lately.  It’s an energy that needs to be channeled somewhere safe, like dance.

My village people can’t take it anymore.  They have set fire to the village in protest. Six months without resolutions is too many.  Abort Mission!  My village people are not ready for the laissez-faire approach to life. (Click HERE for more village people context if you missed the first post).

There is a time and a place for surrendering to what is and for accepting life as it comes.  And then there are the rest of the times and places, during which I need exorbitant details to obsessively micromanage in order to keep myself occupied and entertained.  I need goals and measurement and progress – or at least the illusion thereof.

These realizations hit me last week as I was reading Gretchen Rubin’s
The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.   This book was an emergency, impulse vacation purchase.  Having abandoned every book I had packed, I had to have something to read to tide me over until I could get home. Rubin’s memoir is peppered with tidbits on the art and science of happiness, combined with her meticulous list of a year’s worth of resolutions to guide her in the practice of achieving joy.  Her resolutions are organized by month, category, and sub-category, all of which are rigorously tracked.  The book annoyed me to no end!  It’s no fault of the author.  I claim full responsibility for the baggage I took with me inside the cover.  I saw my own annoying OCD resolution-tracking self on every page and it made me itchy and irritated with the fact I didn’t have a single resolution to track this year.

So here I am in July making my New Years Resolutions. My first resolution for 2015 is:

1. Cook something fabulous and complicated every other week.

I don’t cook.  I am plagued by mageirocophobia, or the fear of cooking. You see, I have this history of setting devastating kitchen fires. Yes, that’s plural, as in fires$$ of the devastating-call-the-fire-department-and-the-contractor-and-the-insurance-company sort. A certain member of the family gave me the nickname “Housefries” once he started talking to me again, which was weeks after I burned down his kitchen and half the family’s wardrobe. The wardrobe aspect of this story needs explaining. What happened is, in the heat of the moment (literally) I tried putting out the kitchen blaze by smothering it with the contents of a nearby laundry basket full of clothes. As you might imagine, this only succeeded in making it all much, much worse. Go figure.  On the flip side, meatloaf flambe with a side of smoked socks should get some points for creative culinary pairings.  I wish that had been an isolated incident. My father may still bear the scars from another of my kitchen fires.  And then there was that unfortunate Christmas morning we were forced to use a fire extinguisher we had JUST received as a gift.  Even the fact that people give me fire extinguishers as a non-ironic Christmas gift should tell you something about the magnitude of the problem.

Despite my checkered and charred past, I am increasingly drawn to the kitchen and the alchemy of cooking. I am inspired partly by the thriving herb and berry garden I’ve planted that needs something to do besides look pretty. Plus there are all these fabulous cooking blogs I read and drool over, like Peri’s Spice Ladle  and Once Upon a Chef.

Yesterday I kicked off my resolutions by making vegetarian lasagna with fresh basil from the garden.  I picked mint to make Strawberry and Orange Salad with Citrus Syrup and Fresh Mint, which I polished off this morning for breakfast.  There was a lot of strawberry and orange juice leftover so I poured it in a popsicle mold for later. Knowing this popsicle awaits in the freezer has made me happy all day.  It’s the little things.

One of my subgoals is to finally do something with the crabapples.  We have an abundance of crabapple trees and each year I think something should be done with them, but I never manage to figure out what.  A friend popped over last week randomly and told me about her grandmother’s recipe for candied crab apples. This year it’s on! I have my recipe picked out for Spiced Crab Apples based on her gram’s recipe.

Another sub-goal related to food is to stop eating after 7:30 p.m. We’ve gotten into the habit of eating dinner between 8:00-10:00 p.m., which is ridiculous and unhealthy.  Part of the problem is I teach yoga classes two evenings a week, and I don’t want to eat right before them and I’ve been too busy to catch a decent lunch, so by the time I’m done with class it’s late and I’m famished, so I eat like a Viking (well, a vegetarian Viking) then I crash. This must change.  I need to make time to  eat a big late lunch and then be done with it.

In conjunction with the cooking thing, I also want to have people over more for dinner.  I’m intrigued by the idea of having a dinner party with mixed and matched guests. Just the thought scares me.  I have no idea how to do this sort of thing. People of the Web: who out there has experience with dinner parties? Can you give suggestions? Themes? Ideas? Testimonials?

Happy Independence Day!

Roar with me friends – enjoy the video below.

May the flamboyant joy of Tambourine Guy be with you in spirit on this beautiful day!

2015-05-20 18.21.15

 

They see me long before I become aware of being watched. They adjust to my movements silently and invisibly. Is it ignorance or arrogance to be so unaware? Perhaps neither.  They have the evolutionary advantage of having eyes on stalks.

kayaking

When I become still enough to notice my breath and feel my heartbeat I begin to detect an unsettling presence. I close my eyes and remind myself I am the one here in predator form. I open my eyes and see the trees covered with hundreds of eyes and legs and claws darting away from my gaze. Later I will learn the name of these creatures: mangrove tree crabs.  For now, we all settle back into stillness.

Deep within the mangrove a winged-thing shrieks. I gaze down at the water.  First, there’s only my rippled reflection and the clouds. Then beneath the surface a frightenly huge figure manifests itself. Surely this beast is a figment of my imagination. It’s as big as the kayak and gliding by close enough to touch.

“Um…there’s a giant sea monster coming up on your right,” I warn over my shoulder.

He doesn’t belive me. Doesn’t comment.  Doesn’t even look.

“Like the Lochness Monster…” I add.

Nothing.

“It’s huge.  Bigger than you. I hope it doesn’t turn your kayak over and eat you.” I really don’t know who I’m talking to at this point.

Maybe I imagined it.

I am the predator here, I affirm silently, though with a little less certainty.

And then suddenly there’s another monster beside my kayak – its body seems to go on forever.

“Sea monster!” I exclaim.

And a few seconds later it’s under him.  With genuine fear in his voice, “Oh shit! What the-”

There is a moment of smug satisfaction on my part before my powers of deduction finally kick in and I gleefully announce, “AaaiiEEEE! It’s a manatee!!”

I have had a glorious week luxuriating in beautiful, awesome, unstructured, unobligated, unpeopled Time, which is something I haven’t had since December.

I spent much of it in quiet fellowship with the birds, berries, bugs, and begonias.

Oh to be alone! To have time think my own thoughts. And time to think absolutely nothing at all.  2015-06-11 20.32.05And time to fill various vessels with flowers.

I’ve had time to study the secret lives of bees and to wonder why they have turned the cedar birdhouse into a makeshift hive. It’s pretty cute as far as hives go.  Maybe that’s why. A group of them hang out on the birdhouse’s front porch.  They ignore me completely as I stare and ask them questions.  They’re up to something.

I’ve had time to make the bed! Who knew how deeply satisfying making the bed could be?  I didn’t come from a home where people made the beds or where people made other people make the beds, so I didn’t discover the satisfaction of bed-making until just a few years ago. Rows of fluffy pillows and straight corners and the stuffed goat smiling down at me from atop his pillow perch – it’s all so tidy!  Happiness is a made bed — that’s what it’s come to.

I have had time to be consoled by the touch of lily leaves on my back, nourished by sun-warmed blackberries off the vine, enchanted by fluffy baby ducks, and lullabied by frogs.

I am beginning to feel human again.

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