~ from cats, dogs and nature to the flowering of body, mind and spirit ~

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Desert Fire

I'm please to share that Desert Fire is finally finished.
It is available in print and digital
should you dare to enter the desert,
and the strangeness of my mind.
In brief, what do you get when you combine a transplant to the Sonoran Desert
with mind-created monsters, living landscapes, elemental impressions, Ayurveda,
flower essences, earth-centered spirituality, dogs,
history, geography, archaeology, desert denizens,
and writing therapy?
You get Desert Fire.
I could easily have spent another six to twelve months fine-tuning Desert Fire further,
but felt that its time has come to go out into the world just as it is.
Now I can move on to other writing projects pressing to be heard. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Within The Creases

His DNA is in the creases,
in flecks of skin that fell.
Open the pages and feel a life
that once was here. Tell
me his dreams, crooked symbols
marking fading paper we've both seen-- 
whisper stories of past and present
and futures where our minds have been.
My cells blend with his, 
my finger turns the page, 
waiting for another generation
to join us in imagination. 

I recently got home from a several-week trip to Missouri, where I helped Mom settle into a retirement community. There, she has a beautiful back yard, but one that she isn't responsible for maintaining. Dad died in 2008 and Mom was finally ready to sell the last home they bought together. This one is her house, and I wanted to help her unpack, to lend my love and support to this huge endeavor. May she be happy in her new place.

During the unpacking, we came across a couple of boxes of old books, vintage books. One of the rare things that Dad and I had in common was a love of books. I'm grateful that he had kept these boxed books during the past five decades as he and Mom moved around the country and stored them while they were overseas. A few were familiar, like 1955 copies of Black Beauty and Heidi, those were Mom's, and even the worn Camp Fire Girls Go Motoring published in 1916 by Hildegard G. Frey. I remembered reading those. The unfamiliar in the thirty or so dusty volumes included an 1888 copy of Tom Temple's Career that I cannot imagine reading, and a 1906 edition of Jack London's The Sea-Wolf that I'm looking forward to reading. I'm researching how to keep several dozen of these books from deteriorating further; they aren't of monetary value, rather they are priceless. Mom agreed that both of my brothers would approve of me becoming the Keeper of the Books. So I am. I'm taking it seriously. Until the day that a niece or nephew, or one of their children, might express a devotion to books and ask to be the Keeper.

The dogwoods and redbuds were in full glorious bloom during my visit, a beautifully cool, moist spring. I was born two hours south of where Mom now lives, and when I drive through the Ozarks I smile at the memories.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Writing for Shimmer

I often wander down side paths and find unexpected delights. Especially in reading and writing.

Now that I've finished writing Desert Fire: Befriending the Monster in my Mind*, I'm looking forward to immersing myself again in my novel. However, I've taken a side path in its creation because I found it starting to shimmer with touches of magic. I probably ought to have known that I couldn't write a novel without bits of mysticism or fantasy.

When I was listening to Krista Tippett's conversation with Maria Tatar, for a second time I might add, I realized that a soft voice was whispering to me from a barely visible trail leading into a thicket off the main path that is my manuscript. Is this why I haven't been able to finish it? There was some sparkle missing?

The dialogue between Tippett and Tatar was "The Great Cauldron of Story: Why Fairy Tales Are for Adults Again." (give it a listen, or read the transcript -- I'm sure you'll enjoy it!) Their chat led me to consider not only my interest in adult stories (books, movies, TV) of fantasy and fairy tales but also into my dimly recalled childhood. Unfortunately, while I remember having a passion for reading and books since before I started school, my poor memory leaves a vast vacancy of details. The rare foggy peeks into my early childhood seem to guide me toward Wind in the Willows and, as I wrote about earlier, to Little Burnt-Face. How could I resolve this loss or revive some missing memories?

I have decided to explore children's literature. See if perhaps I could revive some childhood memories and, even if not, create a new association with or appreciation for the stories that I'm sure had an impact upon me -- even if I don't recall the experience. My first step was to buy Maria Tatar's Enchanted Hunters: the power of stories in childhood. Marvelous book! I enjoyed how she wove together the histories of oral storytelling with that of children's literature, and presented a wide range of authors and tales. In addition, she addressed how we think that children may be understanding and using stories differently than adults do, and how the writing itself varies.

I'm going to tip-toe into classic children's literature and see what happens. Maybe my child-self will allow me to wander in wonder for a while … and allow some magic to flow freely through my writing.

"The world of print, like nature, offers many points of entry to feelings of wonder. When we retire to the fabled armchair or turn on electronic devices such as Kindle (the name is telling), we have the chance to enter story worlds constructed by words and images--a second nature that helps us recapture a sense of wonder. Most children in this country begin reading on their own around the time that the real world begins to lose its magic." 
~ Maria Tatar
* Desert Fire will be available in June.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

With Kindly Eyes

Look back on Time, with kindly eyes — 
He doubtless did his best — 
How softly sinks that trembling sun
In Human Nature’s West — 

~ Emily Dickinson (#1478)

We need a more compassionate view of all humans; where the focus is upon small gestures and we see with Kindly Eyes. We need compassion for ourselves, too. 
And yet, I judge myself as harshly as I do others, never putting myself aside from what “we” have done to the world, recognizing my part in the actions of my species: war, violence, projection. We keep repeating in spite of reflection and philosophy and waking up to our responsibilities. This huge unwieldy machine of the over-culture taints my every effort until all I want to do is disappear into folds of paper where possibility emerges. 
I get further behind with every step I take and Time is always cutting me off at the pass, making sure I don’t cross into the other realm. Maybe in my next life will be Peace? That’s something hopeful to consider. On the other hand, if I cannot help us shift our trajectory, if I cannot be part of the solution, will I find my next life a horror? Am I doing my best or hiding? Is solitude equal to my best effort? Am I enough? Am I doing enough? How do I lift up my Self toward a kinder life? Has my writing helped or hindered me or someone else? So many questions. I know nothing. That is my new beginning each time I collapse inward. Ask and open, listen.

Sit right here rest your bones. No one's ever so alone. 
You can take the world down off your shoulders.
I don't know why and how. All I know is here and now.
You can take the world down off your shoulders.

Out of the midst of my confusion, a warm little fellow curls up on my lap and my heart fills with love. This. This response of love is what keeps me going. When I feel my heart swell with love, it’s okay. I can get through another day. I say grace.

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