Saturday, December 24, 2011

short and sweet--truisms time

Brrr, it was cold last night. Definitely in the deep, dark winter in the desert. I just fed the birds and they are flocking together for the seed. The deceptively sunny light suggests we only need light jackets but, instead, scarves and gloves are needed as neighbors (and my hubby) walk the dogs.

I put on our own collection of holiday CDs this morning, tired of hearing the same old pop music played over and over again on the radio. I favor "The River" by Joanie Mitchell as a recent addition and Tony Bennett's "Harold Square" a classical ballad to add to the seasonal song list.

How do I feel about the Season? Cautiously optimistic--I wish I could throw my caution to the winds and be joyous and maybe I will toss my hat into the ring and give it up for a day or two...but, to be honest, a slight shift from my sometimes dour gazing at a cup half empty is progress, if not perfection, for me. A book I recently read on abundance suggests that a 2-10% shift in attitude from scarcity to abundance can make a difference in daily life, so I will take that margin of difference and run with it.

I wrote in my morning pages today how memories shared from my grandparents and mom take me back to generations' of experiences that were not part of my life but I feel connected to them by the memories of memories. I guess that's why, as the NY Times reported today, 84% of us who once believed in Santa Claus want the magic and mystery of the secular season to continue for present and future generations. If someone else can believe in Zuzu's petals, then we can all share in a Wonderful Life.

So count the truisms planted in this posting or just chuckle a bit and have yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

darkening skies

Do you ever dream so deeply that the dream seems more distinct than your first wakening moments? Does it surprise you that, in your dream, you can see the past and present melt into one time? Do you realize that what binds them together is not only memory but also the imagining of what might have been? That the choices of your life may have turned on a single moment when you chose to let go of that step in order to go another way? And, do you wonder if the way you chose was the way to your authentic Self, or did you run away from what you could have been?

Amidst those kind of questions (and I confess, I don't have many answers to those I have just posed), I share this morning poem.

Darkening Skies

I savor the season of the Winter Solstice.
I slumber with darkening skies.
As brown birds fluff their wings to warm,
I wrap a green coverlet around my shoulders.
I dream deeply of a friend
who walked tall and called my name
with a melody of the South in his voice.
It was a time of the past,
but, upon awakening,
he is with me now, holding my hand.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

poem by Rainer Marie Rilke

In the book I have been reading today (inside all day, due to the rains), I found an excerpt of a poem that you can find at this link:


I love the NY Times for its arts and culture and travel sections, the Book Review insert and, often but not always, its magazine. I skim the news and editorials and linger only over those articles that peak my curiousity and/or imagination. Often the obituaries appeal to my need to connect to the life stories of others, answering my question about "what difference does my/their life make?"

Here's a woman who did make a difference and continues to inspire a unique NY contemporary since 1977, Olga Bloom, the creator of Bargemusic. . The link tells the story about this woman who died this year, on Thanksgiving at the age of 92. A trained classical violinist she (to quote the mini-editorial about her in the Times): "gambled her widow's mite", convinced that a 1988 steel barge could be retrofitted with mahogany and cherry woods to enhance the acoustic sound of chamber music. Four days a week, 52 weeks a year, for the similar cost of an orchestra ticket (and a free hour concert with a "mystery" musical program), patrons can rock in a tethered barge, listen to the music and, if their seating allows, enjoy the Manhattan skyline.

Olga expected "'uncompromising music" based on her belief (more from the Times) that "every thought, every feeling, every act of ours is thrown out into the universe."

The weighed scales of my life tip back and forth through the days, months, years--as does the scale of your life. If Olga was right about our "every thought..." I would like to send out this posting as one element to be valued on my scale's side of goodness and life. The Times said that Olga Bloom lived a good life and, I suspect, brought goodness to others' lives through music.

What strains of good thoughts... have you thrown out to the universe today?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

moving stuff

This weekend, my husband and his two sisters have been busy moving stuff out of his dad's house (and to Goodwill, their respective houses or ???) in order to get the house ready to rent in January. In my own way, I have tried to be helpful and my husband thinks I am, so that's good.

But it's been a very different process from the one my sister and I experienced three years ago, moving stuff out of my folk's Green Valley house. Two major characteristics define the differences: one, my folks were neat-niks. According to my mom, and her mother before her, "everthing in its place" was a daily life motto. Probably passed down from their Germanic ancestors, this element also shines, tho less brightly, in my own home, and certainly distinguishes my home office from my husband's. Another defining element is the modesty at which my folks lived. They bought furniture from Montgomery Ward and "good china" was a set from Brussels that Dad bought on his return from WWII. Art work on their walls consisted on a paint-by-number sailboat scene that Dad produced one year as he as fighting depression, sparked, we think now, by WWII PSTD.

In contrast, my husband's parents bought over a dozen dark, brooding original oil paintings from their friend, Gene MacKaben. He studied under the Mexican artist, Orosco, and while I doubt his paintings will ever have major value, the work is unique and deserved the deliberate choosing that was demonstrated in the past three months by my husband's family. Crockery by another local artist also generated weeks of cross-country internet photos and an all-night selection process by my sisters-in-law. (We had inherited a single set of dinnerware from the same artist when my mother-in-law died and didn't need any more, so we were out of that all-nighter).

Today, it gets down to photos, clothes and the big push to squeeze all that my father-in-law thinks he wants into his one bedroom, already cluttered, assisted-living apartment. I will need to stand back and watch a lot of this "sausage-making" home decoration take place and take solace in the established orderliness of my dad's same square footage in his independent-living apartment at the same retirement community.

As I look around our house (and less organized garage), I sort of smile as I try to imagine our son picking and choosing what will stay with him, go to charity, get thrown into the dumpster, etc. He doesn't have siblings to squabble with, but neither will he have them to soften the sorrow with shared memories of better times. Oh, well, we all have our stuff to carry and to let go of.

How are you handling all the stuff you have accumulated in your life?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A mackerel sky

Today/Wednesday is my usual day to read the Travel section of the NY Times. I actually woke up today and said to myself, "ah, this morning I am looking forward to reading the NY Times and wherever it takes me."

Well, I highly recommend the cover page of the travel section from 12/4/11 to my readers. "My Life in Hotels" by Guy Trebay is a joyful way to start or end one's day. There are so many wonderful phrases and descriptions, along with bits of "hotel-stay advice" in the article. But the one that made me get up from my comfortable chair and look into the Webster's was his phrase "mackerel sky." I only knew of the fish and couldn't quite make the connection. Yet, there it was in the dictionary with an entry all of its own (no, I am not going to give it away--look it up for yourself). And when I read it, I agreed that it made a perfect description of the sky outside his window in Gallup, N.M. I have often seen "a mackerel sky" in Tucson and on drives East and North of here, so now I have a new phrase to use in my writing. In thanks to Mr. Trebay, the least I can do is suggest others read and appreciate his writing.

So, in spite of the fact that I still have to stretch my brain to connect a fish to the sky, I like the challenge to do it and am joyful in the experience of how a few words can make my day worth living.

P. S. He also picked five hotels worth a visit and one was The Thunderbird Lodge in Chinle.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

beauty in the ordinary things of life

Here is a short list of ordinary things I see or recall this morning and appreciate for their beauty:

1. The shape of a dove's wing
2. Rain drops glistening on a small-leafed Texas Ranger bush
3. The taste of English Breakfast tea with a topping of warm milk.
4. The multiple shades of grey in the sky, on the black-topped, rain-soaked street.
5. The simple perfection of a banana--how easy it is to peel back the rubbery skin, bite into the soft and soothing fruit and mix it up with peanut butter.
6. Jimmy Stewart's face of joy in the final scene of "It's a Wonderful Life."
7. The arc of a basketball (UA) as it flies from three point lane into the basket.
8. A dessert dish at the Arizona Inn prepared with mini bites of flourless chocolate cake, pumpkin mousse and praelines, banana cream fluff, rosey pink maccaroon, and thinly sugar-crusted creme brulee, artfully arranged around the chocolate syrup message of "Happy Birthday."
9. Winter lights of white and blue shining in our neighbor's yards.
10. The hug of a friend dressed in colors of lime.

Can you list 10 glances of beauty that you appreciate?