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What started as an urge to try growing corn (again) became an obsession when I learned of the Haudenosaunee tradition of the “Three Sisters” crops.  In this centuries-old system, the three sisters (corn, beans, and squash) are planted in concentric circles successionally.  The big sister, corn, is planted first and provides support for the second sister, beans, to climb. The bean sister hugs the corn and helps to keep her upright against strong winds.  Beans also provide nitrogen in the soil to help her sisters grow.  The baby sister, squash, is planted last.  Her wide leaves shade the ground and help choke out weeds so her big sisters have enough to eat and drink.   The plant sisters are kind to people too, in that they provide a complete and balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.  Other sisters can live in harmony with this mix – sunflowers, melons, amaranth. It’s a beautiful thing.

In past years my failed attempts at growing corn resulted in sad plants that dried up and blew away. This year I was determined things would be different. I did research, I took notes, I drew up plans and I made appeals. Then I drew more pictures and decorated them with washi tape, like so:

Three Sisters Garden Plans

I remember asking nicely.  I might have begged.  For sure I pleaded.  I even attempted bartering. All to no avail. Finally, I  commanded: Earth be tilled!

And so it was.

With 12 x 12 feet of tilled earth at the ready, I could map out the physical space and layout the mounds.  Armed with chopsticks, plastic spoons, and a measuring tape (of the sewing sort) I set to work! Maybe these are not the traditional tools of the trade, but this is what I had on hand to make things happen.

I wound up planting corn, sunflowers, zucchini, crooked neck and straight neck squash, acorn squash, loofa gourds, pumpkin, a watermelon, beans, and peas.  Two interloping tomato plants joined the party of their own accord, apparently from seeds tossed out in the compost.  My three sisters garden turned into an extended family.  Or maybe a commune? I don’t know what to call it anymore, but let me tell you, there’s a lot happening out there. Well here, I’ll just show you:

sister garden

The day I stood in the garden and unwrapped the husk from the first ear of corn, I cried. Actual tears. It was quite suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelming. There was the quiet murmur of tassels, leaves, silks and stalks rustling in the breeze. There was the soft hum of the bees on the sunflower heads above me – all our faces raised to the sky. There was a caress of leaves.  There was a knowing of the circles and cycles, extending away in ever-widening ripples. There was row after golden row of kernels linking one generation to the next. There was something wild and free and profoundly life-force-y let loose in the garden. 

corn

And then, as suddenly and unexpectedly, there was just me again, standing there mundanely amid the corn sniffling and wondering what sort of problem I was having now.

So, I went inside and googled it.  Yes, I did.  That’s when I learned of Hun Hunahpu.  Life is weird.

Harvest

The corn, zucchini, and sunflowers in the picture above were picked this week from the sisters garden. The butternut squash and cucumbers are from the raised beds garden, but that’s a different tale for another day.

Over the course of the last several weeks, in order to remain a functional human being, I’ve had to put myself on a strict media diet and step away from the computer, the Internet, and what Abha Dawesar refers to as thedigital now.”  The analog here-and-now, with its bicycles, trees, rivers, paper, pens, and printed words on actual pages in books with heft and texture and scent, has been grounding.  There I spent time self-soothing with the words of Mr. Rogers:

“The media shows the tiniest percentage of what people do. There are millions and millions of people doing wonderful things all over the world and they’re generally not the ones being touted in the news.”

Like many others this year, I’ve found myself in new and uncomfortable roles with my regular routines disrupted as a result of the pandemic. Though not dubbed “essential” in any official capacity, staying home has not been an option. I have been out and about throughout the quarantine on a near daily. In the last three months I’ve made more trips to various hospitals and clinics than I have in the previous four decades of my life combined – and that includes the time I spent interning in one. I’ve seen for myself that there are many people doing wonderful things right here in my own city.

“As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has – or ever will have – something inside that is unique to all time.  It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.”

–Fred Rogers

Coming off my blog hiatus I discovered that My Little Spacebook turned 10 years old this week. One decade and 542 posts later and I’m no closer to understanding anything that’s happened.   As such, this seems an opportune time to drill down and do some retrospective and reflective work to figure out what exactly I’m doing here; with this blog, I mean.

I will say, the media diet has made more space for silence and wonder, for creation, and for appreciation of beauty.  I think Mr. Rogers would be proud.

“Our society is much more interested in information than wonder, in noise rather than silence…And I feel that we need a lot more wonder and a lot more silence in our lives.”

–Fred Rogers

Iris

And the answer to the cake question is a resounding, “Yes.”

Everything about this masterful work of art gives me chills – the story telling, the exquisite expressions and movements of the dancers, the collaboration, the controlled chaos, the costuming and makeup.  I came across it this morning by accident and I’ve been thinking about it all day….

It’s a lament, a call to action, and astounding art at once.

 

The first time they walked the bridge linking Memphis to Arkansas was December 26, 2016.  She didn’t have her phone, so she asked him to take the picture she wanted.  It later became his album cover.

Making Waves

The second time they crossed the bridge spanning the big river was November 24, 2019.  She didn’t have her phone, so she asked him to take the picture she wanted.

bridge.JPG

Does the geometry of the scene remind anyone else of the arcade game Tempest?  She wonders.  When she looks at it she hears electronic white noise and feels like she might suddenly swirl around the playing field and warp to the next level.

On the bridge they walk and they talk. One thought bubbles up after another in a constant stream that flows as fast as the muddy water beneath their feet.

“Remember that performance years ago at the Church on the River?”

“Yeah, that was weird.”

She thinks of a friend, an atheist who sometimes teaches a Sunday school class at church, and she giggles.

A man rides by on a motorized unicycle.  She’s instantly flooded with envy.  One churchy thought primes the next, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s unicycle.”

They stop at the in-between point and stand half in Tennessee and half in Arkansas. There a sign warns that the powers-that-be have no qualms about cutting off love locks, so couples might as well go lock their love elsewhere. Near the sign, others have continued to lock their love defiantly in harder-to-reach places.

They walk on.

At the end of the bridge, there’s another picture she wants.  He takes it. Team work makes the  dream work.

bridge 2

That’s the view from the fence going west.  She ask for his phone so she can take the view going east.

bridge 3

They sit in Arkansas on a park bench and marvel at this bridge, where industry, commerce, construction, technology, logistics, architecture and nature collide.

Brimming with wild ideas and errant thoughts, she babbles on and on.  He patiently listens, sort of. There’s music happening inside his mind, but he bobs his head and makes noises in all the right places.

On the way back across the bridge, they run into a friend, a teacher, who talks about recently recording a “Tuck You In” story for her students. Suspended high above the Mississippi River they discuss all sorts of things. They make plans and share ideas, then they go separate ways and the river flows on.

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈

Recommended viewing:

History of Big River Crossing  — there are vintage photos of the construction and bridge plans, drawings and such.

Recommended listening:

Little Sunshine — her theme song, written by Joe Michael, Making Waves

 

 

HER: “I’m not going to put my shoes on.  I don’t think it’s illegal to drive without shoes. I looked it up online once.”

ME: “….you are driving around with expired tags and you are worried about whether it’s illegal to drive without shoes…”

(for the record, it’s not illegal to drive without shoes)

~*~

ME: (bounding into the room for no apparent reason in superhero pose singing) “Here I come to save the day!”

HIM:  “Thanks for the warning.”

~*~

(On the way to go bike riding — one of my least favorite activities)

HIM: “Are you excited?”

ME: (lost in a daydream) “Huh?” (coming back to Earth) “Oh, sorry, I’m in my imagination.”

HIM:  “You are in your imagination?”

ME: “No. I mean, I’m IN my imagination.”

HIM: “What are you imagining…a world where you don’t have to go bike riding?

ME: “Can you stop at Starbucks? That will give me caffeine. And enthusiasm.”

~*~

I was very behind on yard work, so I pruned the Rose of Sharon in the spring instead of the fall. The branches were very pliant – they had already started to green up.   I decided to braid them together and stick them in the dirt of a few potted plants to make a little basket handle/trellis of sorts for a few of my plants needing a little support.  I was shocked last week when I walked by to discover one of my “basket handles” had actually  bloomed a pink flower!

20180817_131044_resized.jpg

We show up,

burn brightly in the moment,

live passionately,

hold nothing back,

and when the moment is over,

when our work is done,

we step back,

and we let go.

-Rolfe Gates, Meditations from the Mat

fire

Beneath those flames

the charred remains

of four years of work.

Therein the ash and smoke

lie thousands of hours of

hopes

dreams

plans.

The fire ate them all

with no regard

for the size or shape of the ideas.

I stood and fed the greedy tongues

as they hissed and sputtered,

devouring it all indiscriminately–

the fire and I whispering

all of your names

on the wind.

–Lunar Euphoria

 

Out of nowhere El-D announced today that he is done being El-D. This is perfectly fine by me. Henceforth he will be called BeauJeau. Just thought you should know why there’s a new man in my life.

So anyway,  I somehow convinced BeauJeau to do an acroyoga class with me last night. Full disclosure: beer and wine were involved before hand – not a lot, but some, which probably had something to do his agreeability.

As a yoga teacher I feel it’s my duty to advise against drinking alcohol before practice. In other words, don’t try this at home kiddies!

Before we started with the acrobatics, we did passive partner work on the illiotibial band, which was quite enjoyable.  Relaxing on the mat and having my IT bands fondled was the best part of the class as far as I’m concerned.  Alas, the aggressively cheerful and energetic couple leading the class insisted we get off the mat and get to doing some balance work.

BeauJeau was the base, I was the flyer. I tried being his base at one point, but that didn’t work at all. I’m too little and he’s too big. He made a good foundation though.  At one point he lifted me up with his feet while I struck a flying superman pose. Then I did the same pose balanced in his hands. I was Jennifer Grey to his Patrick Swayze…

We saw the writing on the wall
And we felt this magical fantasy
Now with passion in our eyes
There’s no way we could disguise it secretly
So we take each others hand
‘Cause we seem to understand the urgency…

Yes I swear it’s the truth.

 


…or that could just be the alcohol talking.

At one point in class I partnered with the instructor who somehow sent me doing somersaults in the air before I fully understood what was happening.

In BeauJeau’s words, the experience was summed up as “learning to do cirque du soleil.”

In my words, “I think I may be too old for this.”

In the final analysis, it was ridiculous and fun and nobody got hurt…unless you count the aftermath of today’s sore muscles – his abs, my biceps. Overall, it was a physical study in body mechanics, and in power/surrender, cooperation, trust, balance, and boundaries.

Yoga is yummy in so many different ways.

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!!”

Two a.m.

She awakens suddenly to the whispered question, “Who?”

Heart pounding, blood coursing through constricted veins, she is already in full fight-or-flight mode as her eyes spring open to the darkness.

Who? she wonders, even as she wonders why she wonders who.

Who…Who (is here)?

Her eyes quickly scan the fall of shadows in the dark.   She sees nothing out of the ordinary to explain this panic. There is no intruder lurking in the shadows. The house is silent. There are no lingering dream fragments to help her understand the question that continues to echo again and again in her auditory memory, “who?”

And now, through the open window, the question and the answer float in on the night air, “Whoo-Whoo?

She exhales the breath she didn’t realize she was holding. Sinking back into the pillow, she smiles and imagines the owl she hears calling. He is all tidy feathers and ear tufts. With a serious, studious expression he swivels his head this way and that way to ask every ear who will listen the existential question that keeps him up at night: Whoo-whoo?

 

 

Time and space stretch and yawn as time and space tend to do at two a.m. and the prospect of sleep seems as remote as the owl’s call.

He has a little stutter, this owl friend – Whoo-whoo….(are you)?  Whoo-Whoo…(am I)?  Whoo-whoo…(can hear me?)

We share the same questions and we might as well think about them since we are both awake.  That is the power of questions – they have a way of enlivening the mind. Besides, some questions can only be asked (and answered) alone in the dark.

And occasionally, when the timing is just right…     who-who

one soul’s cry for answers

is heard by another….                                    who-who

and far, far away in the distance…

another voice calls out:

Whooooo?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She most certainly will not be getting out of bed to get dressed for school, thankyouverymuch.

From the kitchen Momma has hollered for her to “GET UP!”  and with an edge in her voice added, “…and that’s the last time!”

This happens to be the second of Momma’s “last time” warnings. The warnings started after an entire series of ineffectual attempts to get her out of bed.  Momma went so far as to pick out an outfit and physically  try to force her into it. This was a grave offense.  She is six and a half years old and can dress herself. A lot of screaming and wrestling went into that fiasco before Momma abruptly aborted the mission to try out a new tactic: cooking breakfast.

But all the clothes and breakfasts in the world will not make a bit of difference.  She’s not budging. It is so cold in her bedroom it hurts to breathe. To protect herself from the temperature, she has ducked her head under the blanket to breathe her own body-warmed air. Her feet are pulled up beneath her flannel gown.  She has folded herself into a little ball to preserve heat.  She has gathered all the loose edges of the sheets and blankets and tucked them under herself to keep the mean air from biting her.   So Momma can threaten spankings all she wants. There are worse things than Momma’s spankings – like being attacked by the cold air outside the semi-warm cocoon she’s created beneath her covers.

It’s not just the cold terrorizing her, it’s also the snakes. Daddy killed one in his bedroom just the other night.  He chased it around the room hitting it over and over with his guitar until it was dead. She didn’t actually see it happen, but she did hear the accompanying soundtrack.  The oddly musical killing featured forceful, pounding rhythms and vibrating, jangly strings that reverberated inside the instrument’s hollow body with each blow. It was definitely not a song usually played in Daddy’s repertoire. She was horrified when she found out the cause behind Daddy’s improvisation. Now she imagines the coiling and roiling pit of snakes that surely resides under her bed. Daddy, the Slayer of Serpents and her Champion Defender, has already left for work.  So no ma’am, she will not be getting out of bed today.

Momma’s footsteps now creak down the hallway and stop at her room.  Uh-0h.

“Come on and get up. I made biscuits and it’s warm in the kitchen.  The oven door’s open.” Momma says sweetly.

The brat beneath the blankets cries, “Nooooo, it’s too cold! And biscuits are so yucky. They’re mushy and gross. And there are snakes!”

“There are no snakes. And I’ll toast the biscuits.  You like them like that, remember?”

Momma steps closer. Under the covers the child braces herself in anticipation of the coming struggle.  When it doesn’t come, she realizes Momma’s footsteps are fading down the hallway. She hears rustling and softly percussive kitchen sounds. The oven door creaks then snaps shut.

She hugs her knees in and shivers.

A few minutes later, the oven door creaks open, then Momma is standing by her bed again, working loose a corner of the sheets.  Delicious warmth touches her skin. Her clothes! In her blanket cocoon, she dresses in her oven-baked shirt, warm pants, and toasted socks, then she emerges a new creature.  She jumps off the bed and runs out of her room before the snakes can get her.  She follows the scent of toasted bicuits to the warm kitchen. For the rest of the day the scent of biscuits and love lingers all around her.

~~*~~

ReminisScent I

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