Friday, June 29, 2012

Choices, Choices

For the past few years, I've received TUT's Notes From the Universe, via email, Monday - Friday. Mike Dooley, one of the contributors to The Secret, created these as a way to remind people of the power of thought, that thoughts becomes things. They have often mirrored right where I am in my thinking, or offered me a mirror to look at something a bit more closely. Sometimes, it has reflected life in some amusing and intriguing ways. For instance, almost three years ago, I read his note in the morning about how life is a carnival, complete with rides, cotton candy, and all the goodies associated with them. After I read it, I drove into town (a town I had only recently moved to when I first returned to Minnesota), to discover a carnival had been set up on the edge of it, complete with rides, and animals, and cotton candy. That kind of thing.

Anyway, this morning's note was sent with a request to pass it on to as many people as possible. I do think it's worth passing on and so I am.

The Top 10 Ways People Give Away Their Power:

1.  Asking others what they should do.
2.  Thinking God decides who gets what.
3.  Worrying about how their dreams will come true.
4.  Thinking they have dues to pay.
5.  Attaching to unimportant details and outcomes.
6.  Believing in soul mates.
7.  Thinking karma or spiritual contracts are absolute.
8.  Fear of anything, especially falling in love.
9.  Waiting for their ducks to line up before acting.
10. Choosing to be unhappy.

A funny thing happened as I wrote them down in a notebook, something I often do with notes, quotes, and things I want to remember. As I was writing down #7, I found it took up a bit more than one line in my notebook, so the words "are absolute," had to be written on the next line. Then, as I wrote down #8, I found that space was again lacking and so this is how it ended up in my notebook:

8. Fear of anything, especially

As a result, #9 (see above) didn't exactly line up....

Which takes me to #10, a reminder that to be happy or not is always a choice. Always.

Today, I've chosen to be happy. I think I'm going to choose that tomorrow, too.

Image: Joseph Cornell's "Hotel Eden"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Listening to the Trees

"When I Am Among the Trees"

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
   but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."

~Mary Oliver, from Thirst

The photograph is mine.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Butterflies and Thistles: the Science of Poetry

Well, I certainly got my comeuppance.

In responding to a comment on my last post, I did some complaining about thistles, which I first noticed last summer in a low-lying area of the meadow, and now, seeds being seeds, a few of them have found their way onto the lawn, surprising my bare feet a time or two. I decided to just dig them out in order to make walking around more pleasant, allowing for a little just-ification. And then, yesterday, I got this in the mail, email that is, from the Writer's Almanac, as though in response to my complaint, like the thistles themselves were listening and wanted to let me know the perfect place they have in the Big Picture, and they sent it in a language I could understand: poetry.

"A Pasture Poem"

This upstart thistle
Is young and touchy; it is
All barb and bristle,

Threatening to wield
Its green, jagged armament
Against the whole field.

Butterflies will dare
Nonetheless to lay their eggs
In that angle where

The leaf meets the stem,
So that ants or browsing cows
Cannot trouble them.

Summer will grow old
As will the thistle, letting
A clenched bloom unfold

To which the small hum
Of bee wings and the flash of
Goldfinch wings will come,

Till its purple crown
Blanches, and the breezes strew
The whole field with down.

~Richard Wilbur

Look at that thing. King of the Thistles, pre-purple crown.  It's taller than I am. Yeah, those sons of guns knew I couldn't resist a butterfly story.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Weedy

When I asked for rain to help my garden grow and make it possible to take a break from toting hoses around, I didn't have this in mind, not exactly. I know I said, 'Never ever be afraid to work in the rain', but I have to draw some lines when it comes to thunder and lightning. There's been an intermittent rumbling of thunder for two days now, and all I've been able to do is rescue the last of my peonies from drowning. Part of a birch tree, that I thought was healthy, is now lying on the edge of the cabin roof. It's messed with the tin just a bit, but I really need to think it over, how I'm going to accomplish its removal. I know it will require another person just to keep an eye on me, to keep me from doing something stupid. You don't take your eyes off the tree and you better know where's its going. My grandfather learned that the hard way, at a lumber camp in Wisconsin way back around the turn of the last century.

In the meantime, my flower gardens, which have already been less attended to than is the accepted norm, are sprouting new... let's just call them plants. Once known as weeds, I have taken to seeing them in a new light. The gardens are now officially known as, "The Place of a Thousand Butterflies." I have never before (before the rain, anyway) seen so many butterflies. They're everywhere, of all colors and sizes. I'd rather have butterflies than a "weed-free" garden. Much rather. So, why is it that weeds, which almost without fail produce some type of flower, are seen as producing inferior flowers? How can there possibly be an inferior flower?  Is there something I'm missing?  Anyway, I'm learning to live with myself. If the occasional visitor looks askance at them, well, they can just get over it.

Out at the vegetable garden, not entirely weed-free either, but very presentable and healthy, the potential produce is coming on strong. Besides the potatoes, parsnips, and sugar-snap peas, which I mentioned in a post earlier this spring, I will have onions, radishes, carrots, beets, and kohlrabi. Also, cucumbers, zucchini, winter squash and cantaloupe. Can't wait for the cantaloupe. It's looking good, proverbial fingers are crossed.

I'm also happy to report that the neighbors, who have two really nice root cellars, have declared my basement will work just fine, not too moist and yet cool enough to keep things well into the fall and possibly the early winter. The root cellar out by the shed was used in the past when the basement was Otis's workshop in the winter, Otis being the man who created this place out of the woods, but no point in having things so far away now, especially when the snow flies. It is nice to know it's there, though. Anyway, I won't have enough this year requiring longer storage, but there's always next year. I would like to reach the point where I'm growing most of my own food.

I've decided not to raise chickens, not yet, anyway, as I get all the fresh eggs I want from the farm across the bridge. The difference between store bought and farm fresh is like night and day. I like mine sunny-side up. Which reminds me of my father, who liked to use diner lingo whenever we went to a cafe, especially at breakfast. He would order his "over easy and stepped on." When I was a very young girl, I never knew whether to be embarrassed or pleased. Now, that's an easy one.

It might be fun, though, to raise animals again, in a conscientious and loving way. A lot of work, but fun. Which reminds me: if you'd like some daily news about what's right in this world, I recommend you read this: Bill and Cherie (she has also done wonderful work in Haiti), have White Flint Farm. They are two people who are truly making a difference.

BTW: I love the name Bill chose for his blog, which comes from a really great poem by Wendell Berry, "Manifesto: the Mad Farmer Liberation Front." If you're not already familiar with it, you can read it here:

Paintings by Herman Herzog (1832 - 1932): "Country Cabin, Summer" and  "Making Hay While the Sun Shines."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Nature of Obsession

I suppose I shouldn't say it, but I'm going to anyway:  I'm stalking my peonies.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Light Through the Window

As much as I love walking around outside and seeing what's out there, and there is always something new, I also appreciate those things I see in a new light here inside, how the morning light plays with the objects I walk by every day. On this particular morning, I was struck by the shadows on the ottoman next to the bookshelves, reflected in the rug at their feet.

However, it was not the first thing I noticed this morning. It was that the petals had fallen from the small bouquet of peonies I'd picked two days ago. The scent was heavenly, and what remained, though a bit gangly, gave me a whole new view of their soft beauty. I noticed the small knob on the stem standing out in the light, the veins in the leaves just above it and how the water created little bubbles of moisture at the top of the vase. Later today, I'll pick a fresh bouquet. I love having enough for a few inside as well.

Last night, a thunderstorm passed through. Actually, it did more than pass, it stayed around for the entire evening. So, I unplugged myself from all technology, and curled up with Buddy in the corner of the sectional next to the window. I love storms and am so grateful Buddy doesn't get unnerved by them. We watched and listened. Now, this morning, the light coming through the windows is creating a really nice postlude.

While checking out new posts by fellow bloggers, I came across two, each offering music as the perfect accompaniment to the beginning of the day. I found the video at the bottom over at I hope you'll go to this link (you'll need to check for it on his sidebar), because just below the video there is an equally perfect poem by Mary Oliver: "The Sun."

And Will, at has a wonderful music video posted of, "A Small Measure of Peace," from the movie, "The Last Samurai." Between these two musical selections, a poem by Mary Oliver, and the light coming through the windows, it's been one fine morning.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What the Bumblebee Said

When I first bought this place, almost two years ago now, I made a promise to myself that I would come to know every nook and cranny, that I would teach myself to fully see everything around me and it would become as familiar to me as my childhood home was, after years of exploration. 

Every day, on our walk in the meadow behind the house, Buddy covers the now familiar ground as though for the first time. He never seems to tire of it. Together, we're seeing things (well, he's mostly smelling things) from a renewed perspective.

For example: the other day, a tree that sits along the fence line, and which appears to be half-dead, was alive with butterflies. A variety of them floated around my head and some even posed for me. I was particularly smitten by this beauty.  Her velvety brown wings tipped with circles of blue and fringed with white, reminded me of a dress I wore to a Christmas concert when I was 15. I played the clarinet, rather poorly, and that's not a humble statement. It was really bad.

Just across from the butterfly tree is my garden, where I was faced with yet another tree that's in dire need of pruning, but the pink blossoms sprouting from the almost bare branches asked me to wait until later in the season, and then only with great care. Where there is life, there is hope. That's what the bumblebee said.

When I turned, I saw my cabin through the trees. From the back, the green and blue reflected in the windows caught my attention.

As did the vines starting to fill out around the roof line of the chicken coop and garden shed:

Then it was the old snow fence lying curled up in the corner...

...several patches of little white flowers next to the skeletal remains of a long-abandoned shed, and the play of shadows on what is left of its walls:

Back at the garage (a term I use loosely), a collection of blue shovels Otis left behind (I trust he didn't need them where he was going) was reflected in the metal siding, along with some of the irises he planted:

When I went to get some garden tools from the shed, the mama bird, who created this magnificent nest in the rafters, sat on the lilac bush just outside and expressed concern for my presence, as her offspring patiently waited with open beaks. Of course, when they knew I was there they quickly closed them.

No, it doesn't look like Buddy and I will be running out of things to see, or smell, any time soon. The wild roses that line the north side of my vegetable garden are just starting to bloom:

Buddy, grown tired of posing, says hi.

Here's Joni Mitchell performing "Woodstock" at Big Sur, in 1969:

"I dreamed I saw the bombers
riding shotgun in the sky
turn right into butterflies
above our nation."

~ Joni