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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!!”

Oct 2014 Ocean Springs 001

 

Before leaving shore we were instructed, “When you get to the island, just do whatever comes naturally.”

For me, these words triggered an automatic response of anxiety:

Ok, so ‘act natural.’ What does that mean? Ohmygod! What am I gonna do?! I don’t know how to be natural on command…

With that thought came a hyper-awareness of everything I was doing. The simple act of standing upright became a test of memory.  Is this how I stand? What is my face doing? Is this natural? Then suddenly I was responding to people in a British accent because even my mouth had grown confused about how it normally worked.

By the time I set foot on the island I was functioning as a parody of myself. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Nature, in the form of hunger, to rectify the situation.  For awhile El-D and I walked side-by-side feeding the emaciated mosquitos as I unwrapped a sandwich to feed myself.

We had all brought different types of baggage to the island. I’m not sure where we thought we were going needing that much stuff.  Along the way we came to a tree that was strung with the possessions of those who had passed before us.  El-D and I paused here to marvel at what was left behind and to add our own unnecessary things to the collection.  We each left carrying only what was deemed absolutely necessary: for him, his guitar and phone; for me, my yoga mat and phone.

We wound up on the other side of the island. I picked up a shell and was suprised and mildly horrified to find it housed a creature.  I found another shell and discovered someone living in it too.  El-D picked up a third shell.  Larger than the other two,  it contained yet another being. He brought it over to me and then knocked on its shell.  A little guy popped out – all hairy legs with eyes on stalks. The three of us spent a moment looking at each other in awkward silence.

Then I remembered my phone and I decided to take the little hermit’s picture.  But before I could, he ducked back in his shell as if to say, “I don’t think so Paparazzi.”

Oct 2014 Ocean Springs 011

El-D handed me the creature and walked down to the water’s edge to sit with his guitar and do what comes naturally:  compose the soundtrack of our lives.

Meanwhile, I took the hermit to my mat so we could chat for a bit. We are kindred spirits, this hermit crab and me.  I put him in the sand and began tracing runes around him. Eventually he came out of his shell to co-create.

And soon we were all just being who we are without having to think about it at all.  The video below is the love song and scenes from Dear Island,

 

 

 

This is the first time in the four-year history of My Little Spacebook that I’ve gone over a month between posts.  There’s so much to report!

In August El-D and I celebrated our 20th anniversary.

1st 230

El-D & Lunar in the Pirate Phase of our Youth

 

We have seen each other through many faces, phases, places and lives…not to mention various hats and corsets. Whether leaving for the house for dinner or the grocery store, we continue to ask each other “Who are you going as tonight?” There’s Country Gentleman and Woodland Fairy, Monday Night Bowler and YoginiTini, Mickey Mouse Man and Bag Lady, The Professor and Mary Ann.  The odd pairings seem to be endless.  It’s great fun.

Also in August, I turned 40.   My wonderful family made it the best birthday ever!  The party was dubbed “The Redneck Shindig” and featured Slip’N Slides, Italian cream cake, a million baby crickets, and family members trying to one-up each other’s tales about the fires I’ve started in their homes and wrecks I’ve had in their cars.  Good times. Thank you, dear family, for loving me in spite of the havoc I have wrecked in your lives.  I love you and your terrible singing and zany presence.

Forty is fabulous!

Forty is fabulous!

 

One of the highlights in September was a six-hour kayaking trip on the Wolf River. Things were going great until I rounded the bend to enter Ghost River. At that very instant Nature got all up in my business. Plant life reached out to caress me in a creepy-uncle sort of way and two big spiders – one fat and hairy and one little-bodied with long skittering legs – leaped simultaneously and aggressively into my kayak.

Before I go on, I want you to know I can appreciate spiders when they spin their string art and sit around calmly eating less superior bugs. In fact, I appreciate them so much I take pictures and wax poetic about them (see Centered Scribe Spinning, Spinning ) I can even appreciate momma spiders when I disturb their peace with my weed pulling and they take off running with their egg sac full of future spiders.

a mama carrying her silver orb

See? I know this spider and her progeny. We coexist peacefully on the farm!

 

However, when spiders jump in my tiny kayak and proceed to run AT ME despite my flailing paddle and panicked shrieks, I will fight them until death.  It was a long, hard battle – and I had doubts about who would paddle or skitter away the victor as the kayak tilted precariously this way and that. After all that, I thought I was done with kayaking for awhile.

Ghost River

Wolf River

 

So it was a bit of a surprise last week when I found myself back in a kayak, this time in the bayou, on a soul journey with nine strangers. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how that happened and what it was all about.  I’ll let you know when the pieces come together…

Altar on Deer Island

Altar on Deer Island

 

 

 

 

 

Before last week I’d only visited Vegas once. On that trip the company couldn’t have been better.  We saw a fantastic show (Mystère), a fascinating exhibit (Bodies), and we drank champagne while watching the Bellagio Fountains dance to the tune of an Elvis song. The whole affair lasted about 36 hours, which was enough Vegas to last me several lifetimes.  The excess of it all was… well… excessive.   If America was Panem of the The Hunger Games, which I guess it is in Suzanne Collins’ post-apocolyptic world, then Vegas could be the Capitol. And I’d probably live somewhere around District 11. That’s how far removed I am from Vegas.

These days I am quite content to work in District 11 and watch the flowers bloom and the bees buzz, ya know? So I was ‘meh’ about going there for a business trip last week, but it was something I was compelled to do.

 

By day two in the Capitol I felt like this:

crazy

 

…as a result of too much everything everywhere.

I realized then we needed to make a major detour, lest I start attacking things Katniss-style. And that was when I stumbled upon exactly what was needed: a place to watch the flowers bloom and the bees buzz.

detour

The wonderful Sharon Prier led the way.  She guided us on a hike through Red Rock Canyon, which culminated in a beautiful yoga practice.  It was the highlight of the trip.  Thank you so much Sharon for your guidance and presence.

Red Rock Canyon Yoga Hike

Red Rock Canyon Yoga Hike

 

 Any worthwhile detours you’ve taken lately?

bloom

 

Without our fully realizing it, flowers would become for us an expression in form of that which is most high, most sacred, and ultimately formless within ourselves.

–Eckhart Tolle

The theme for this week’s “Weekly Photo Challenge” is: An Unusual Point of View.

august 9 021

I recently met this Wooly Mammoth at the National Museum of Natural History.

Last weekend El D finally managed to get me out of the house for a roadtrip.

Since giving up my interstate life and moving to Peace.Love.Home. last June, I have become a serious homebody.  (On a side note, it feels like we packed multiple years into the last one. It went by in dog years – at least seven.)  Though it was difficult to pry myself away for even a day, it was fun.  Summer doesn’t seem like summer without a roadtrip.

Our destination was the Tennessee Safari Park in Alamo, just a short drive north from Jackson, TN. We took the backroads because that’s how we roll (i.e., amongst the villagers, cornfields, cows, and goats).

It was a gorgeous day.  The sky was filled with marshmellow clouds.  On the drive I was struck by how short the Tennessee sky seems. We have plenty of sky, it’s just kinda squat. I never noticed this until I went to Tulsa where the sky is really tall. It’s weird. Maybe the sky here just seems short because it’s usually hemmed in by a canopy of trees. Or maybe the clouds here are just lower and poofier.  At any rate, I prefer the short one.  It seems safer.  The tall Tulsa sky always made me feel like I could fly right off the Earth at any moment without warning.

short sky and deer

short sky and deer through broken glass

I liked the safari park. I had planned on coming home with a peacock and a goat, but El D and Moon Pie were not being at all cooperative, which is fine because I saw something I might need more than a peacock.  Check it out:

 This guy has the same hairdo as the Angry Russian

I think he’s great.  And his hairdo is just like the Angry Russian’s.

 

Hey, remember that time last summer when I saw the neighbor’s horse and called it over like it was a puppy and El D made fun of me?   Well, same scenario, except this horse was a little punk rocker who tried to get in the car with us…

july 7 2012 017

I’m beginning to think that a roadtrip isn’t a roadtrip unless there’s a zebra involved. 

 

More Posts on Roadtrips:

Arkansas Roadside Attractions

The Angry Russian, SeniorCitizenChurchLady, and The Devil on a Road Trip


The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World

Synopsis:  A cynical writer searches for the world’s happiest place

You might like this if you liked:  Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert)

Recommended to: Grumpy people

What I loved about it:  This was my first Weiner book, so I wasn’t sure whether I would like it or not.  Truth be told, he seems like a bit of an ass, but he had me at the first mention of a PET scan. I’m one of those people who enjoy reading books peppered with sound-bites of science, culture, history, and philosophy.  Like right here on page 41, in a chapter on Switzerland, he manages to work Einstein AND Bertrand Russell into a passage. Later on page 183, he combines Iceland, Aristotle, and Nietzsche. Gosh—it just makes me feel all heady and smart in the same way that sprinkling wheat germ in pancake batter makes me feel healthy, even if I do wind up drenching it all with butter and syrup.

So yes, I will be reading him again.  Plus, I now have added two new places to my bucket list: Bhutan and Moldova.

What was unexpected:  Weiner was a little mean to the Moldovans. 

Best Quotes: There were so many fabulous descriptions of places and people, so I will give you a few:

In Bangkok, the sacred and the profane exist side by side, like a divorced couple who, for financial reasons, decide to continue living together.

Watching Brits shed their inhibitions is like watching elephants mate. You know it happens, it must, but it’s noisy, awkward as hell, and you can’t help but wonder: Is this something I really need to see?

India does not disappoint. It captivates, infuriates, and occasionally, contaminates.  It never disappoints.

Qataris have no culture.  Frankly, I can’t blame them.  If you spent a few thousand years scraping by in the desert, fending off the solid heat, not to mention various invading tribes, you wouldn’t have time for culture either.

 

Three Weeks with My Brother

Synopsis: Nicholas takes a trip around the world with his brother and the two reminisce about their family.

You might like this if you liked: Message in a Bottle, The Rescue, The Notebook, A Walk to Remember (Nicholas Sparks)

Recommended to: Fans of Nicholas Sparks, people trying to make sense of loss

What I loved about it:  In his fictional work, Nicholas Sparks writes sweet stories of love, family, and loss.  His memoir moved along the same themes and provided insight into why he tells the stories he tells.  The speech-language pathologist in me was also particularly interested in the intense work Sparks described doing with his son, Ryan, to help him learn to communicate.

What was unexpected: This book is not so much about the places traveled in real time as it is the places traveled in the past.  That said, Sparks does deliver enough descriptions of places they visited that I added a few destinations to my bucket list (e.g., Machu Picchu, Peru and Phnom Pehn, Cambodia).

Best Quote:

Standing next to Micah, I realized that there were times when we talked not because we needed to communicate anything important, but simply because we each drew comfort from the other’s voice.

You never know what fascinating sights you’ll see when roadtrippin’ through Arkansas. Both the backroads and interstate hold an array of surprises. From I-40 you’ll spy roadkill, rice paddies, and religious signs reminding you to beat the children with a stick.

I wasn’t kidding….

In Central Arkansas you can hop off the interstate, do a little wine tasting and stock up on your favorite vintage at the wineries.

Chateau Aux Arc (in the Ozarks…get it?)

Wiederkehr Village (population of 42) has more grapes than residents.

At one point in our journey, an emergency coffee attack required a pitstop to a Love’s Travel Shop. As The Devil was pulling in to a parking spot right beside a fella fiddling with stuff under the hood of his SUV, a 96% naked lady jumped out of the backseat of the fella’s vehicle.  I was so astounded by the scene that lay before me that I forgot the camera entirely. You’ll have to settle for the picture I paint in words. The 96% naked lady was wearing a little bitty bikini with a tiny see-through crocheted skirt.  Her backside was emblazoned with a tattoo of a bull’s head. Its horns rose menacingly out the top of her bikini bottoms. And, she looked ANGRY! She said a buncha words I didn’t understand partly due to the southern twang that shaped them, partly due to the shock of seeing an angry 96% naked lady unexpectedly jump out of a vehicle, and partly due to the music that was blaring from the speakers of their opened door:  “We’re from the country and we like it that way.”

It was all so very much to process.

The man under the hood looked up long enough to glance at her, register us and our agape expressions, and chuckle to himself before returning back to his tinkering.  The 96% naked lady walked this way and then that, continuing to make a fuss over something before finally settling back into the backseat and closing the door.

By that time, The Devil had returned and we were on our way.

The backroads and small towns of Arkansas are also great fun. There are interesting places to eat.  For example, in Springdale there’s a giant waffle sign in the sky that announces a Waffle Hut.  If that doesn’t suit your taste you can try the Mexican-Middle Eastern Restaurant.

Around one bend in the road we spied a natural swimming hole.

Several fireworks stands were set up along the road.  One stand had a sign that read “Fireworks. Help Christians Serve.” Another sign said, well, see for yourself…

…because nothing says ‘Christianity’ like blowing stuff up?

Good times.   I will really miss this state when it’s time to dismantle this particular life.

For more sights and scenes from my Arkansas travels, see:

Remedy: A Roadtrip through Arkansas

A Weekend in  Little Rock

A Stroll Through Little Rock

Scenes from the Ozark Mountains

Cultivating compassion and joy is not a linear process; it’s organic, like growing flowers.  If you work regularly at decreasing your compulsive desires and narcissism gradually you will see beautiful results.

–Lorne Ladner, The Lost Art of Compassion

~~@~~

 Last June, I spent two weeks deconstructing at an ashram.  On the surface, the ashram experience seemed a nightmare.  Group constipation, perpetual cravings for hamburgers, and sleep deprivation combined with withdrawal from various vices, hard work, heat, and allergic reactions.  (See Poo-poo Tea at the Ashram and Ashram Adventures for a recap of those fun details.)

Beneath that muck, seeds of joy were being planted.  Several lifetimes of lessons were condensed into those two weeks.  It was a lot to processes. I’m still working to understand what I learned and to apply it to daily life.  (For more on that end, see A Heart Flung Open and Knowing by Doing.)

And here is but one of the many lessons I learned from the experience: Beauty will unfold day by day when you work to tend the garden.

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