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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Warm Winter's Light

Sunshine and warmth in winter.
How truly wonderful this alternate environment is.
Delicious in its tastes of sun-tea, 
brown-sugar soil, 
blue-corn skies 
and rays of golden sun warming my exposed toes.
I love not wearing any shoes ... 
this is the place to do it nearly year-round!

The concrete walls surround me in the back yard, 
as they delineate yards everywhere,
yet I see the open sky, 
hear the birds, 
watch the mesquite that hangs 
gently moving over our border, 
a bee hurries by intently, 
and I adjust to the beautiful starkness here 
so different from our former home in Maine--
surroundings even in dramatic contrast 
to the vegetation and landscape of nearby Tucson.

When walking down the long paved road yesterday with the dogs, 
who trotted along on their short legs 
sniffing the air and watching everything in rapt fascination, 
I recalled words spoken before we moved here-- 
saying how I liked Nature to be all around on my walks, 
and then arriving to realize the seeming emptiness 
of this location divested of the abundance of Nature. 
Yet not really. The dogs know more...
What is "nature" after all? 
I see it/Her all around when my eyes were opened 
from within outward, 
the thin grasses, 
the stubborn mesquite, 
the resilient birds who sing in joy even here, 
the glimpse of the huge black-tail Jack, 
an occasional almost-spectral coyote crossing a road, 
and so much more spread out before me, 
stretching so very, very far 
without confinement of barrier tree lines 
or constantly rolling hills. 
Gravel and sand, minerals claiming their right to be here 
reflecting back the miners' supposed claims upon them. 
Always slightly squinting against sun glare 
in spite of dark spectacles, 
the tension of skin reacting with arid space,  
creating creases near the eyes more rapidly than in 
dimmer lit environs settled in mists and clouds and shadows 
more often than not. 
Nature is all around me here, 
She simply wears fewer decorations, 
less clothes upon Her gorgeous tanned body. 
I join Her in the delight of near-eternal sunbathing,
drenching my essence with light during the day. 

Yet at night, pull blankets overhead, 
snuggle into cocoons of warmth because 
as soon as the sun drops over the horizon and 
we tilt away from its glow...brrr... 
a match dropped down a deep well. 

I still marvel at the contrasts--
is it any wonder that I am like a kid in front of  candy store 
eagerly waiting for the door to open in the morning 
so that I can go satisfy my taste for that sweet sunlight? 
I step outside instead of inside. 
Out into a world of brightness and subtle gifts 
where nothing is ever taken for granted by 
Her indigenous people or the native beings who 
crawl, walk, hop, fly and grow. 

As I continue settling into the experience of 
living in this gorgeous-ugliness of desert survival--
over-grazed, over-farmed, abandoned when depleted 
of its meager precious topsoil by those who were greedy and oblivious--
accepting what is,
I smile more, 
I admire more,
I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to explore 
an exposed world along with my now-revealing-themselves 
depths previously unknown. 
There is an exquisite aura of vulnerability 
here where nothing is hidden. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We'Moon Rebirth

Not just in the Spring but in each moment as life brings changes from an instant, one to another, and again.
Birds fly in peace as my heart opens in gratitude, swelling with the earth, the sky, the shortest day as it goes by and begins to grow again in a new cycle, never the same twice.
Grateful for Her transitions that show me how to begin again, to be reborn.
I say Grace as my heart opens and we all join hands in Unity across time and space. 
Light shines through, stronger each day, honoring the night while also welcoming the light of reflection.

A year in retrospect that has been even more full of change than usual; although what is usual--is it only more full of change because so outward and obvious? perhaps every year is full yet often subtle and I miss the changes?
I'm grateful for the changes that have carried growth in ageless hands of blessing.
Grateful for the love and commitment shared with my beloved.
Grateful for the experience of moving--to know and learn a new land, a new dimension of Mother Earth, Gaia, as She spreads Her arms wide offering a unique landscape--a new palette upon which to paint my path.
Grateful for the faith and courage She brought into our hearts so that we could know we would be provided for.
Grateful for this house that has become a home, and is sheltering family; encouraging love, compromise, giving and allowing.

I say Grace for the abundance of beauty and wisdom that surrounds me every moment when I open my eyes, feel Her presence in the world of form through which Her light shines and grows.
I'm grateful for the pause of increasing darkness that enfolds and reveals the Truth within so that the flame can be seen all that much more clearly, flickering, bending, rising and ever glowing, deep red in the Core of Her Love.
I'm grateful for Her teaching of cycles and seasons on the grand scale as well as the tiny; to see my own life ebb and flow each day, each minute, reflecting the outer glory of Her gorgeous bright warm days and clear cold dark nights where the stars never seemed so bright before.
Silhouettes unfamiliar of cactus and distant mountains, of dry riverbeds seldom flush, of a silt the color of Her dried blood that seeps into my the cracks of my heels and presents a new perspective of rebirth; as Dormancy spreads yet Light also grows.
I say Grace as I turn my face to the sunrise, feeling Her loving smile feed mine. 

Grateful for this new home, in a new place, brimming to overflowing with opportunity.
Grateful for rebirth in every second.
Easy to feel deep gratitude whenever I pause because I am alive.
All I need do is look within or around...
Within I feel love and peace; I feel a body that is aging and that has quirks but I FEEL and that is a blessing of life.
Around I see beauty everywhere, in Gaia's creations, and those of Her myriad creature beings, but also in that which is created by humans from tiles on floors to quilts on beds, all are so beautiful.
Grateful for the gifts of Nature in the animals who share my life and the wild ones I admire from afar, as they all embody freedom and delight in each moment...these "Guardians of Being."
Grateful for the food abundant here and now, knowing that its presence is never a surety in a world on the brink of massive change that could come in a second or a month, a year, a decade, or, Goddess willing, never in destructive harshness devouring.

Life can change in an instant, it does change continually, and so I am grateful in my core for Now.
Being present is a gift I didn't appreciate when I was much younger looking 'out there' for fulfillment...and yet grateful for that journey of youth for it brought growth and a bits of wisdom each moment of the stumbling steps.
Truly, reasons for gratitude are everywhere, and mind-boggling were I to try and list everything I'm grateful for.
So, I am simply Grateful...for life...birth, death, and rebirth in every moment.
Blessed Be
Contemplative writing prompt from We'Moon iPad app 2011 (image above).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sky is Home

She kneels upon the earth, after swooping, falling, her legs spread to brace herself, balancing, opening her feminine core to the energy of the Divine Mother.
A creature of the air that transcends and integrates all the elements into One as she kneels to kiss the earth.
She has to land periodically, she cannot remain upon wing forever, and so she is grateful to earth for offering her rest and peace, a place upon which she can pause, wonder at her fellow/sister creatures who crawl and walk and swim and transform. 
Her sturdy thighs are thickly muscled, surprising how they resemble a much larger being than the twig-like lower legs of air-filled bone easily lifted and tucked inside her body when air and space call her home. 
Home for her is not the nest where she temporarily raises her young, and home is not the earth she kneels upon, precious though it may be.
Home is not a circle, a burdensome line holding her within its fragile shell.
She was born that way, cramped tightly into a hard shell she pressed against, expanding until it cracked...first a bit, then a tiny hole poked through by her sharp little beak and she tilted her head as much as possible though it was hard to do in that tiny space of before-birth, and she held one eye near the hole and saw the entire world and--CRACK!--she broke free from her shell of protection after she saw the world that awaited her with all its colors and textures and beckoning wide open spaces! 
Her body damp, her feathers barely there, wet and clinging, she fell forth into the dry crackling nest with the thin layer of down, and immediately felt her skin begin to dry from the air that called to her, tickling, enticing, telling her stories of the sights she would soon see on her own.
For her nest is not home, only a place to rest and become a real being she had only dreamed about.
She tipped back her head on the thin scrap of skin called a neck and opened her mouth and sounded out, sending her voice out into the world upon the breeze and heard an answering call.
Quick as the wind blows, she ate and grew and took such joy in the feathers that would soon lift her up to home where she would never be confined again. 
Where she could soar and see and live fully free.
And yet.
She did not forget. 
So in gratitude she returns to the earth to kiss her grounding where she shall go when death steps in and calls her soul to return for a new beginning. 
Earth where her food comes from.
Earth that holds the water to bathe in and soothe a parched throat.
Earth that offers her a never-ending visual extravaganza of ever-changing scenery and seasons. 
She glides through a thick gray cloud and giggles with the momentary hide-n-seek of the elementals.
Then catches a current and bobs up and down, riding it like the dolphins below play upon the ocean waves. 
They talk and share and she knows there is less difference than one might think between her blue and theirs...the waters of the seas and the currents of the breeze.
Patterns and currents and flows and eddies.
One so light and the other so heavy, yet she sometimes gets to play with both when the mist is on the mountain, and the world she sees becomes a subtle mirage of the normal one, the trees try to disappear as if to play her game of hide-n-seek even though they are rooted to earth. 
Then she gets to seek her special resting place for it is now disguised and not easily seen from her flights on high, and they play in this world where home is different for all of them.
Yet earth is precious, nurturing, nourishing, welcoming, harboring, and transformative in the end.
And so she kneels to kiss the earth.
This was a visual writing prompt from my We'Moon 2011 iPad app (image above).

Sunday, December 18, 2011


"Writing continues to be a scary proposition for me, as I don't see myself as particularly talented and I wonder how much longer I'l be able to massage novels out of my meager storehouse of gifts. Daily, I show up at the computer, and I hope for the best. But when I'm reading someone's stunning first novel--like Cold Mountain or Ingenious Pain, a British first novel that I'm reading--I think, What am I doing? My God, I am so insignificant a storyteller in comparison with these guys. But then I tell myself that all I can do is my best, telling the story as well as I can, leaving the rest up to God.
Journal of a Novel, February 24, 1998"

The above is taken from Elizabeth George's Write Away and I find it inspiring to know that authors I enjoy and admire could have at some moment felt as inept as I do. Their confidence can feel intimidating, but when they share their own fears or insecurities, I realize we are each of us merely doing the best that we can. And doing our best--being our best--is enough.

As I finish reading Write Away, the last 'teaching' book for now, I prepare to dive fully once more, with as much courage, confidence and commitment as I can muster, into writing. And see what happens...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thanks to Dad

On one of the last trips my parents made to visit us in Maine, Dad talked about this great BBC show called "New Tricks" and kept singing the theme song. I only caught a couple episodes in Maine but once we arrived in Arizona, they've been showing them on PBS so I've been able to watch nearly all of them. They really are great, and the song spins 'round in my head sometimes for hours afterwards, and every time I watch, I think of Dad and am grateful for the times we spent together.

Mom and Dad were big believers in staying active; they kept traveling and learning and enjoying life. Three years after losing Dad, Mom does her best to keep on keepin' on.

The lyrics to the tune:

it’s alright it’s ok 
doesn’t really matter if you’re old and grey 
it’s alright i say it’s ok 
listen to what i say 
it’s alright doing fine 
doesn’t really matter if the sun don’t shine 
it’s alright i say it’s ok 
we're getting to the end of the day 
high-tech, low-tech take your pick 
cos you can teach an old dog a brand new trick 
i don’t care what anybody says 
(at the end of the day) 
there’s a place that i can find 
a drink or two to ease my mind 
golden days 
it’s alright take your time 
everybody thinks that you’ve passed your prime 
it’s alright it’s ok 
you've still got plenty to say

In Loving Memory of My Father
Jerry Ervin Graves
May 25, 1936 - August 9, 2008
His form is gone but his essence lives on. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Words

Just gotta say...

If you would like to increase your vocabulary, look no further than Elizabeth George's books in the Inspector Lynley series! I consider myself well-read and, yet, for the first time I can recall there is nearly one word per chapter that I have to find in the dictionary before I can continue. Thankfully, I started reading this series on my iPad so it is simple to just tap the word and it pulls up the definition. Phew.

One of the reasons that I ventured into Elizabeth George's series was because I had begun reading her guide to fiction writing--Write Away--and, feeling deeply drawn to it right off, realized that I needed to connect to her fiction as well. This hasn't happened for me with most of the 'guide' books I've read this past year. What was different about this one?

Just now I went back and re-read the first few pages and there isn't any single sentence or phrase that captures me. So what is it? Maybe it's because she starts by discussing character? That could be it. Certainly, I feel like my own writing is more character-driven than anything else, with even the location personified in my mind. Ms. George then gives attention to setting followed by landscape. Hmm. Only then does she address plot.

Ah-ha! That's the kinship I feel with her writing process. My first draft is primarily characters, setting and landscape! The plot felt forced from inception and easily fell to pieces when picked at. That led me to my current immersion in the study of craft which easily and repeatedly clarified what was missing--conflict. So I essentially have a first draft set in a place I love and filled with characters I find interesting, but missing the driving force. LOL But you know what? I feel okay about that because I'm not done! I've now made good progress toward resolving the problems. Let the revisions and rewrites begin...

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Window

What do you see?
I see strength and courage and beauty.
I see color and texture, grounding and whimsy.

Travel provides opportunity.
To step out of one's comfort zone, to expand and grow.
To regain confidence and a sense of self--of individuality lost and found.

We discover a core strength,
a mineral gleaming with endurance,
a gem of unbelievable power that sustains our foundation.

Enjoy the journey.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Crooked narrow streets, walls of rock built to hold back the falling, sliding elements on one side, and drop-offs beyond rickety guardrails or fencing or nothing on the other.
Flat upon the ground, erupting from the center, the roots grow upward rather than down and in, the spreading paths of homes tracing a steep journey up, climbing, as if to place themselves in some way beyond the reach of the dragging darkness beneath the historic mining town of Bisbee.
Incongruity of poured concrete steps against the gorgeous stone walls built by hand--artisans, craftsmen, who knew how to create beautiful strength without mortar.
Corrugated tin roofs reflecting the bright sun to catch the vivid colors of little houses determined to cling to the sides of the mountains.
A car snakes its way down the street below, tires a loud whisper upon the worn mix of gravel, deteriorating concrete, and dirt that has escaped down the mountain in spite of the best efforts of man.
A curious town. Lots of character just oozing ambience and history.
Old, weathered buildings, poorly constructed with materials it must have been a struggle to lug up the steep slant of earth and rock.
Colorful houses making a statement of presence and a sort of willfulness rising from them like incense.
Seems most residents just keep slapping on a patch here, bit of paint there, shore it up here...
Structural challenges, a complex interweaving of utilities and plumbing performs its own dance of decoration on the outside where gravity is first defied and then given free rein. 
Newer retaining walls are obvious in their concrete block coats, wearing less personality, yet sometimes spiffed up with brick or stone edging or glass inlay.

Here the bottoms of bottles are popular as decoration and show their thick green and blue bottoms.
A little garden, variety the key with cactus and silver-weed, vines and twisty-limbed trees who aren't tall but make up for it with individuality.
Quirky. High up, nearly to the top, peace and quiet float on the dust motes.
Tiny porch, tiny yard; a tiny house on a hill filled with bright color and sassy bric-a-brac.
A sunny corner holds a lounge chair; the perfect comfy-cozy spot indoors for reading and writing, although outside was better.
A faint odor like burnt coffee drifted up on the air currents regularly; what could it be? My nose would twitch and wrinkle... Way up here, just a quaint and curious puzzle.*

A walk up and down the winding streets delivers new sensations around every corner...
Discomfort rises, I feel my stomach tighten, and it's not just from the steep incline. I recognize my fear as I hear strange dogs bark nearby; our recent attack a few weeks ago still fresh in my memory. Yet the boys don't seem any more bothered by it than from a person walking near.
The buildings old, some dark and forbidding, their frowns warning me that I am not welcome and I don't step into their shadowy alcoves.
Others have painted and primped their faces, giving a come-hither look, beckoning me closer...

A 'secret garden' is where I sit, sun shining, and voices echo back and forth from the mountains, softly bouncing voices and sounds of dogs, people, a rooster crowing, buildings and machinery. 'Voices' of the world in miniature, crowded closely.

Like a child's playground, all the colors and shapes! The textures so varied, like a microcosm filled with diversity as if to compensate for the stricture of the narrow canyon, bursting out at the seams, packing maximum 'bang' into the space allowed.
Porches and decks stick out all over, jutting their chins in defiance.
A concrete park painted with colorful games; an alternative to the barren, rugged earth stripped not only by the mines nearby but also by Gaia Herself as She explored a new landscape, a new and unique way of experiencing Herself in life.

Everywhere is curves, angles, corners and pockets--not sure there is such a thing as a straight line in this wonderful little town. Here is presented a delightful display of non-linear response to all that life has thrown at the people who chose and still choose to make this place their home. A visual imprint of non-control, the ability to adapt.

Prior to making this trip, I read "Going Back To Bisbee" by Richard Shelton. It was a wonderful way to learn a little about the history of the Arizona Southwest so that as I drove the landscape and towns were given meaning other than through my own perception of them.

I only stayed two nights at the Sleepy Dog Guesthouse (which I highly recommend!) but plan on returning for a longer stay and more exploration.

* A Google search revealed the origin of the aroma was indeed coffee from the Bisbee Coffee Co. where they roast the beans fresh on the premises.

Friday, December 2, 2011

tween shadow and wall

In the thin line tween shadow and wall
is found true adventure, whispering small
voices we hear in the night 
and listen to with heart open, not out of fright.
The line that is there is no line at all
only illusion that causes a fall
from the opening measures 
of this moment's place in time 
and with flowers of grace 
and hearing the chimes 
I see the line fade...
Not dividing shadow from wall 
but merging the two in one joyous call 
to be strong and loving and share all 
your gifts without fear of transgressing. 
All obstacles lift high 
on the wings of the nowhere of time 
that like the no-line are fashioned 
from fear and treated as crime. 
Look at that edge, 
feel its wisdom of knowing 
that there are no divisions 
tween darkness and light 
but only our own situations of what might 
be or have been as we travel 
the line without and within. 
Seeking the knowledge of magical line 
that vanishes whenever we seek outward to find 
ourselves in the middle of two that are fighting 
yet know that our candle of love we could be lighting. 
Nowhere is this more blatantly true 
than within the heart struggle of ego and you. 
Look, see the edges that blur 
when we look more closely to see 
them and then after that are the spaces unseen.
The line between the wall and the shadow 
is nothing more than perception 
betrayed by the false mind of ego 
who is leading the way 
because we allowed him the power 
but we can retrieve him upon each new hour 
and take into custody all his transgressions 
to build up a new world of loving and blessings.
My finger it follows the mystical line 
wondering what other secrets I might find. 
Me, hovering close to the wall that can speak, 
whispering words I barely can hear 
until shadow steps in and covers my fear 
with a blanket of darkness that falls 
with the growing light,
removing the edge I no longer can see 
dividing us--it is here no more--we are free.
It's been a while since I felt the flow of a rhyming that trickles through pen with impeccable timing. I know not the reason when or why my head turns to words that follow each other with similar sounds and falling to pages awaiting the swirl and flow of the messages within each letter that whirls. I love how words rhyme, I always have, even though 'real' poets sneer at their simplicity and sometimes awkward chunkiness, like crunchy peanut butter, not smooth. Maybe so, but I love the flow, the sound of echo...
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