Monday, August 30, 2010
The ego is a monkey catapulting through the jungle:
Totally fascinated by the realm of the senses,
it swings from one desire to the next,
one conflict to the next,
one self-centered idea to the next.
If you threaten it, it actually fears for its life.
Let this monkey go.
Let the senses go.
Let desires go.
Let conflicts go.
Let ideas go.
Let the fiction of life and death go.
Just remain in the center, watching.
And then forget that you are there.
Photograph by Jeff Barron
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Anyway, Norm and I get into a brief discussion of bags vs boxes. I decide on boxes, and we head up front to find a roasting pan. I select one based on the size of the large pasture chicken I bought at yesterday's Farmer's Market. Large chicken, small turkey, same, same. I bitch about the price for a second or two, long enough for Norm to remind me, "But just think about all the good times you'll have." 'Yeah,' I agree, 'The fun never ends.' Then we do the money exchanging thing and I head out the door.
I love shopping locally. I like spending money at a business that has existed on the same corner longer than I've been on Planet Earth and I like talking with someone I've known since elementary school, someone with a down-home sense of humor, not unlike my own.
Next stop, the local used bookstore, where I peruse the shelves for about half an hour and come up with three, a nice mix of approaches that seem disparate, but yet, somehow, dovetail. My choices: Country Matters, by Michael Korda, who has a witty style I've long admired, where he writes about owning country property. The first chapter is titled, "He Don't Know Shit About Septics," but it was Chapter Eleven that captured my attention, "Where Every Prospect Pleases and Only Man is Vile." I think it's going to be a fun read. The other two are of an only slightly more spiritual nature, Hugh Prather's, Notes on Love and Courage, and, Hua Hu Ching, The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu.
From there I go to the liquor establishment in a small town just down the road, about five minutes away, to purchase a bit of liquid refreshment, a jug of sangria. I'm particularly fond of this store because it's also where I pick up my farm eggs. I discovered this additional grace when I went there earlier this summer, saw the sign at the counter and inquired about them. Back into the cooler he went, and out he came with a dozen eggs, very organic, in pretty pastel colors, soft blue and green and pink, along with the usual brown. Different chickens lay different colored eggs. Did you know that? I discovered it when my friend, JB, raised a few of them, Araucanas, along with some crazy looking hens who look like they're wearing fright wigs. White-crested Black Polish. Seriously. Here's one of them. She looks like Cher, heading for the Oscars:
Or this poor dear, who seems to be having a bad hair day:
Anyway, among those pretty pastel eggs, there was an extra large, and I do mean extra large, brown and white spotted egg. It looked like an appaloosa horse might have laid it. If horses laid eggs.
I have no idea what laid it. It could have been a pterodactyl. Tasted good, though. Next time I'm at the general store, perhaps I'll inquire as to what bolts of cloth they might have in back.
Today was the perfect day to stay present to each moment, find joy in simple pleasures and be grateful for good neighbors. We spent some time together this morning, over coffee in their kitchen, talking about community, about all the small decisions we make in our day-to-day lives that add up to a healthier way of life. They loaned two books to me that I was intrigued by: Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence, and, Slowing Down to the Speed of Life: How to Create a More Peaceful, Simpler Life from the Inside Out.
Tonight, with windows wide open to the night air, as the leaves lift, then settle, with each wave of a late summer breeze, one of my favorite writers tells me all I want or need to know, in this moment:
On waking after the accident
I was presented with the "whole picture"
as they say, magnificently detailed,
a child's diorama of what life appears to be:
staring at the picture I become drowsy
with relief when I noticed a yellow
dot of light in the lower right-hand corner.
I unhooked the machines and tubes and crawled
to the picture, with an eyeball to the dot
of light which turned out to be a miniature
tunnel at the end of which I could see
mountains and stars whirling and tumbling,
sheets of emotions, vertical rivers, upside
down lakes, herds of unknown mammals, birds
shedding feathers and regrowing them instantly,
snakes with feathered heads eating their own
shed skins, fish swimming straight up,
the bottom of Isaiah's robe, live whales
on dry ground, lions drinking from a golden
bowl of milk, the rush of night,
and somewhere in this the murmur of gods --
a tree-rubbing-tree music, a sweet howl
of water and rock-grating-rock, fire
hissing from fissures, the moon settled
comfortably on the ground, beginning to roll.
~Jim Harrison, from The Theory and Practice of Rivers
Monday, August 23, 2010
When I first acquired this land, I knew it was the right thing to do, but I didn't know just how right. I knew it was a place with great potential for a self-sustaining, self-reliant lifestyle, but it hadn't completely sunk in yet. All that it offers, and all that came with the place, much of it needed to maintain and care for it, was revealed to me day-by-day, starting with spades, hoes, and other gardening equipment. There are countless basic hand tools, everywhere you look, including loppers. Pruners, in another language. Five of them in various sizes. At least six snow shovels are keeping the faith out in the garage.
One of the best gifts that came with the house is the greenhouse. It's attached to the house, to the basement, to be exact, and set into the sloping ground around the house. It can be entered either from the outside, or from the garage style door on the end of the basement.
When I returned to Minnesota, one of the things I hoped for was a greenhouse that could be used to extend the growing season, or perhaps even be used all four seasons with heat added, along with other additions and/or modifications. The greenhouse needs some work, including a pressure washing of the roof and walls, and clearing of shrubbery around it, but it's all very possible. It once had wood heat in it, but the chimney liner would need replacing. I have a supplemental wood stove in the basement, UL approved, using the same duct work as the furnace, which uses propane, to heat the upstairs, so I could open the garage doors, when needed, and share in the heat from the wood stove, or the furnace. Sorry I'm getting so "technical." I'm thinking out loud. Sort of.
I've long had the dream of raising orchids. It is do-able with the right remodeling, given the care of these delicate and amazing plants. I would so love to have at least one of every kind. I had one in Santa Fe, named Clementine, but it's hard to move plants across the country, so she went home with the neighbor who came for the wheelbarrow. It was not easy, saying goodbye to her. She had six tendrils, yes, six, each with eight or nine blooms at the time of our parting. "Nothing is Permanent but Change," as the Chinese proverb goes, and I'm certain she was loved and well-cared for.
The greenhouse has wonderful light, of course, and good energy (I just typed god energy), so I've given some thought to other possible uses, such as an art studio, should I decide to get out my paints again and pretend I know what I'm doing long enough to maybe actually learn something. I love the cabin, but it would not be usable year-round, as it stands now. Here's another photo of it, for those who just arrived.
I do hope to do some refurbishing of it. How I will use the cabin is what my imagination is for.
When I was first led to this property, I saw a small greenhouse attached to the side of the wood shed, once used, but not in some time. The real discovery came, though, after I bought it and went exploring.
There is another small greenhouse built onto the back of the shed. It, too, has not been used for awhile. I can only speculate, and believe me I have, about its purpose, sitting there behind the shed, amongst a semi-circle of pines and shrubbery. Hmmmm..... British actress, Brenda Blethyn, for some reason, is coming to mind.
Anyway, here's another photo of the greenhouse, for which I intend to find the perfect purpose. And, just for the record, I don't intend to supplement my retirement years.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
One of the first things I did when I bought my farmhouse in Ansel back in 1990 was buy a wheelbarrow. It was my first of private ownership. No husband came with it. I found it in town at the hardware store. The wheelbarrow. I was as excited as a newly-wed, bringing it home, its deep orange body ripe with possibility. I was so excited I even read the instructions for putting it together. That may sound easy but the reading of instructions strikes terror into the heart of me. I was so in love I set my fears aside, sat down on the grass, and put it together step-by-happy-step. You would have thought I'd invented it. Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of that first love. I will tell you about that sweet thing above later in the story.
We spent many happy and prosperous years together hauling stuff around, like leaves and rocks and dead branches that had blown off in a storm the night before. Even Jake, our Siberian Husky, who met an untimely death (is there another kind?) was carried to his final resting spot with the help of the orange wheelbarrow.
It came along with me when I moved to town about ten years later, its daily use diminishing with town life. But, I liked to look at it from time to time, even talk to it as it sat in the garage taking its rest for awhile. When I moved to Santa Fe in the fall of 2001 it ended up at an ex-husband's house hauling wood and other manly stuff.
While living in Santa Fe I got to pining for it, thinking it might be time to find a replacement. I didn't know if I had a use for it but I knew it was time. I'd think of something. I like to send out my requests to the Big U and see what it arranges for me so I turned it over. The following day, as I headed down the road to my house, there at the end of a neighbor's driveway was an orange wheelbarrow with a sign on it that said, "Free." I was almost dumbstruck. I know. Hard to imagine. It was an older model. It had some miles on it, was slightly more shallow, shall we say, but it was mine. I couldn't get my car in my driveway fast enough. I hurried back down to the neighbors and wheeled it home. I was the happiest girl in the whole northern hemisphere.
When I decided to move back to Minnesota several years later, it found a home with another neighbor just up the road. I, too, put it at the end of the driveway with a sign that said, "Free." The neighbor's young grandson who came with to help load it into the back of her pickup truck was grinning from ear to ear. He had big plans for the orange wheelbarrow.
|This is Henry (stay tuned)|
To borrow from William Carlos Williams:
So much depends
the orange wheel
The photographs are mine.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
After lunch, we were standing out in the parking lot, talking, when I noticed that next door to the restaurant was a dollar store, the Dollar Tree, to be exact. I've not done much shopping at dollar stores, except for a few Christmas's ago, when I suggested we all go to the dollar store of our choice and buy each other almost-useful doo-dads and keep the budget to no more than $15 per person. I thought it would be fun, but it didn't go over real big and had few participants. I hadn't been back to a dollar store since. So, Trevor's suggestion that we go check it out seemed like a good one. We agreed to keep our expenditures to about $10 each, just to see what we could get in that range.
When we got inside, I went ga-ga over all the possibilities. And each only $1! A true dollar store. Then, Trev went into some schtick around shopping at the dollar store and I couldn't stop laughing. Not many things would be more self-diminishing than peeing my pants in a dollar store. So, I managed to pull myself together and we went about selecting our merchandise. We each ended up, at Trev's fine suggestion, with a little LED light for our computers. Just plug it into a port and voila! It bends over and lights up your keyboard!
We ended up only slightly over budget. I couldn't live without $11 of stuff. Trevor racked up a $14 bill. And we had a ton of fun.
Meanwhile, back at the homestead, I have new flowers blooming. Cosmos, gladiolas and zinnias.
Oh, and this lily lives right inside my garden gate.
Winter squash are setting on the vine, cabbages firming up nicely, cucumbers and onions for my salads, and new potatoes that are absolutely yummy. My neighbors were on vacation recently and offered produce from their own garden, such as broccoli and peas, to round out my slim pickins' and make use of their bounty while they were away. They had nasturtiums for salads, which I'd never tried before. Not only were they beautiful to look at, but very edible. Add some bread from the Farmer's Market, dipped in olive oil, and it made a fine lunch. I served it in a bowl made by my potter friend, Theo, from Green River Pottery, in Santa Fe. It was almost too pretty to eat.
Friday, August 13, 2010
While getting used to a new computer today, and needing to take a break from using the F word, I started thinking about Red Green. For the uninitiated, Red Green is a comedian from Canada who did a show on PBS called, of course, The Red Green Show. Some locations still show it in reruns for which I'm grateful. His character shares the show with his nephew, Harold, and a motley crew who display various levels of intelligence. It ain't pretty, but it sure is fun.
Now, I have to warn you, before you go looking him up or casting disparaging remarks about my level of humor, I admit to a rather low-brow mixed with bawdy sense of humor. I can appreciate dazzling wit, cultural and historical references gone awry, but it's the Three Stooges with slapstick galore, and folks of their ilk, that can really bring out the chuckles in me.
Last week, when I was looking for a distraction, I decided to turn on the television (television seems like such a retro word now, doesn't it? Tele-vision) and see what it offered. I have three stations, but, thank goodness, one of them is PBS. There he was, Red Green. It couldn't have been better timing. He opens his show with, "Welcome to Possum Lake. Where men are men and Harold is my nephew." In this episode, his nephew, Harold, who has a somewhat open-to-debate sexuality, was waiting at Possum Lodge for his blind date to show up, a date he'd found at an online dating site, sight unseen. He reads his description of what he was looking for and had posted online. Then his date shows up, who happens to be another male character on the show. Some minor, comical mayhem ensues. Unsure of how to handle this, they decide to go ahead with their "date," arguing about who's responsible for what as they go. The fun part was the "live" audience's response to Harold's "date" ... wild applause for what may have been a sideways coming-out-of -the-closet party for Harold.
Part of each show includes Red's attempts at being handy. These attempts always include duct tape. He says, "All it takes is a little imagination, some mechanical ability, and neighbors who mind their own business." The episode I recently watched involved creating a barbecue spit for hot dogs rigged up by using bicycle tire spokes, with the bicycle being ridden in place while it turned the spokes with hot dogs over a live flame. It's almost impossible to describe his - let's call them novel -ideas. He makes Rube Goldberg look like a Shaker. He asks, "Sound ingenious? Sound incredible? Sound impossible? Who cares? I'm not listening." And then he goes ahead and makes something like a lawn mower dragster, a portable garden in the back of a pickup truck, or a newfangled "luxury" car using various parts of two derelict cars where he becomes Umberto Tortellini.
The possibilities are endless.
There's also a segment in which we watch Red and two other characters as they play a version of Password. The idea is to get the chosen person to say the chosen word within thirty seconds ... the word finally said by accident and as the punchline. All sorts of clues get thrown out to lead them to say it in a round-about fashion. For example: Red is trying to get Dalton to say the word 'paranoid.'
Red: You got two slippers. That makes a ...?
Red; Someone bugs you, you get ...?
Red: Put 'em together. Put 'em together.
Dalton: You say someone's stealing my slippers to annoy me? You know, it's probably my neighbor, you know, 'cause he's trying to get me. Sometimes I sneak into his house at night and rearrange the furniture.
Red: Alright. And he thinks that way because he's ...?
Dalton: Caught me doing it.
And so on ...
I warned you.
As with all great comedians, his show contains humorous statements scattered with a grain of truth. One of my faves: "There is historical significance to party boats going back to, um, Cleopatra, and, um, Moses, and, um, the crew of the Exxon-Valdez."
At the end of the show, he always talks to his wife, Bernice, usually with a double-entendre, saying "If my wife is watching, I'll be comin' straight home after the meetin'. All this lawyer stuff has got me thinkin', maybe later tonight, if you present me with your briefs, I'll recommend a merger." Or, "Yes, I know it's the computer age, but let's not forget about personal interaction. When I get home, I want to show you that I'm user-friendly." He says his goodbye and heads downstairs for the meeting of Possum Lodge, which always begins with, "Quando, Omni, Flunkus, Moritadi," pseudo-Latin loosely translated as, "When all else fails, play dead." They follow it with the Man's Prayer, "I'm a man. But, I can change. If I have to. I guess." The meeting begins as the show closes. It's a bit of a holdover, but I think it's great fun. And we could all use that seems to me.
What really got me thinking today of Red Green was his closing statement, just before he goes downstairs to the meeting, a statement that makes me realize the simple proverbs contain the grandest truths of existence: "Remember, I'm pullin' for ya. We're all in this together."
Sunday, August 8, 2010
In the summer of 1966, I probably spent my Sunday afternoons going over in my mind the night before, who danced with who, who said what, what did it mean, will I be able to go next weekend, and who will be there.
'There' was The Purple Peanut, a teen dance spot where we spent most of our Saturday nights during the late 1960's. Local bands, such as Bridgeman Road, performed songs you could dance to, hopefully, including the title tune. I loved to dance, so the night I got to go to the Purple Peanut for the first time is indelibly written in my memory. Jane and I, with our good friend, Rhodeann, were just leaving the Marlowe Theater after a showing of whatever movie we just had to see that night, when my parents announced from the front seat of the car that I could go with the two older girls to the dance that night. I was so happy I cried. And then Jane and Rhodeann laughed. That was okay. I was too happy to take offense. And, they were very happy for me.
Like many of my teenage memories, I can see exactly what I was wearing at the time this memory was being made. That night it was bell-bottoms, red with small yellow flowers, slit up to the knee on each side. On top was a yellow "poor boy" sweater. On my feet, yes, I had on shoes, ankle-high deerskin moccasins with a silver button and fringed tie. Same outfit I had on when the principal of the high school called me out of algebra class for some infraction of the rules. That's right. An infraction.
Anyhoo, right after we arrived and had taken our places in the back of that cavernous room, lined with booths around an old wooden dance floor, someone came up and asked me to dance. I said yes. He was cute enough, with dark hair, in sort of a Beatles cut, and I may have mentioned, I loved to dance.
That night, like every Saturday night I spent there after that, I danced a lot, had my share, and maybe more, of fun, and went home happy as a teenager can be. That first guy that asked me to dance? He married my sister, Jane, just a few years later.
That was many moons ago. Coming back from Minneapolis, "My Baby Does the Hanky Panky," came on the radio and there I was, traveling back in time, bopping to the music (did I just say bopping?) and remembering how much I love to dance. I haven't for awhile and may have to remedy that. Here they are, Tommy James and the Shondells. Hit the arrow, get off your Sunday couch and dance. You know you want to.
Friday, August 6, 2010
As much as I have a deep appreciation for the poetry of Rumi, I have grown to love another Persian poet and mystic known as Hafiz, who lived during the fourteenth century. Hafiz' poetry is so love-infused, so joy-based, it seems to have been spoken by Love itself.
I'm leaving for Minneapolis for a couple of days, but before I do, I'd like to share with you one of my favorite poems by Hafiz:
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
As I watched this film a second time, I made notes on those things that I felt I would want to remember and remind myself of as often as necessary until I had made hope my daily companion. Here are some of the notes I took, individual statements made by folks they interviewed for the film:
Action encourages optimism.
We should be running toward the light, rather than running away from the darkness.
Stay where you are. Dig in and make it better.
We in the Garden of Eden and we intend to stay. (Two elderly gentlemen sitting in a neighborhood created garden plot in east L.A.)
Hope is something you must generate yourself.
These are folks just like us, who have adopted a positive attitude, who are approaching life from a clear and illumined path, a path they have created for themselves, as a way to navigate through all the underbrush of negativity that the media would have us embrace. They are making the choice for peace, for expectation of good. Every day we are faced with choices, every moment, actually. I can't say I always choose peace. I let myself get down and feel despair. But, I don't allow myself to stay there, and despite those days, there is always, underneath the feelings of sadness, a deep well of hope from which to draw.
We live in a country that has, for far too long, sat in front of the television and allowed it to dictate our world for us. It offers up one sad, awful bit of information or image after another. It feeds our fears and instills, in those who allow it, the belief that we are going to hell in a hand basket, that we're all just here waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I'm not buying it. Let me tell you why.
I live three miles from a town of approximately 800 people. Every Friday afternoon at least fifteen people, couples, or even families, set up their canopied tables and set out the bounty from their lives, lives spent growing and creating their own hope. There are farm-fresh eggs, vegetables from numerous gardens, a variety of produce. There are those who grow strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, those who create salsa from their own tomatoes, honey from the bees they keep, along with syrups and jams from their fruit trees. There is homemade goat cheese, from the goats they raise, homemade breads that are better than candy. I have fallen in love with the wild rice bread baked by someone named Barb, who includes "peace and healing" in her ingredients, and labels her breads, "Peaced Goods." She also makes a four cheese bread and a wonderful whole wheat with kalamata olives. I know nothing, however, about her rhubarb-orange coffee bread. Nothing.
And, that's all I'm going to say about the bread.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
"Earthships - independent vessels - to set sail on the seas of Tomorrow." Michael Reynolds, progenitor of the Earthship
The price of homes here in Birdland is quite reasonable. The one above is a prototype for all things earth-homey and now resides in a corner of The Cabin Addition. Several dwellings exist on this moderately developed piece of land. I did a little walk-around to check it out the other night and found a couple I didn't even know existed. All manner of architectural elements and materials have been employed, so it looks rather like a settlement of Earthships. They each come with a lot of land and/or air space. Real estate.
Here's another view of the little stone cottage. Lovely setting amongst the perennial garden. Has a bit of a lean, but it's currently occupied by a very happy, but very protective, mother wren:
The speckle-ware wash basin, my personal favorite. Roomy, with additional egress.
Hobbit house with thatched roof. Frodo needs to do some repairs, but is off on a mission with that damn ring.
Ultra-contemporary lines, with the appropriate eco-green. Good location. It sits in wine country, next to the grape arbor.
A Swiss Family Robinson tree house made from some type of rope. Perhaps in the future these will be made from hemp. It, too, is occupied.
Very Northwoodsy. It sits atop the clothesline. Even comes with its own little birdhouse. It needs a little work, but the price is definitely right:
Utilitarian, at best. A bit of a fixer-upper. In Santa Fe it would be advertised as "charming.
Little White Church in the Wildwood. Unused churches have huge potential. Unused churches: Is that a good thing, or a bad thing? Mmmm. You look, while I think:
The Coffee Can. Reminiscent of abstract expressionist Robert Motherwell's Quonset Hut house/studio he once had on Long Island. Motherwell made quite a splash in the art world. Actress/model Lauren Hutton owns three Quonset Huts, on the mesa west of Taos. You can see them shining in the sun when you take the rim road from Carson into town. This one comes with greenery:
And, here is the Queen of Birdland. She has been steadfastly attending to her children all summer. She did not want to sit still for her picture, but I wanted to honor her deeply nurturing ways.
And, here is my own little nest, currently being feathered, and plans for refurbishment being made.