Monday, December 29, 2014

Appalachian Winter

When the clouds reach down to me, I get a break from this busy, busy world. I hear nothing but my footsteps spattering through a thin layer of water soaking into an old tractor road, and the cooing, clucking, baaing and snorting of my animals. I stepped out of the heavy fog, into my warm kitchen.

I had spent the early morning hours tossing hay to the horses and goats, petting Duncan the juvenile stallion, as he followed me around, and watching the chickens, guinea hens and duck play in the pools of water spread out across the wet yard. The Guineas sang about Bob White Bob White Bob White. Coolio the white crested duck drake made a low quack wuack wuack as he stood tall to display his flapping wings. He always reminds me of a whooping crane when he does this. No matter how ugly the weather may get, this display makes the landscape beautiful. Each hen and rooster came over to cluck me the barn yard news. Why yes, Gretchen, I do think that is shocking! Who knew little Olive would turn into a Rooster! How do you girls feel about having another gentleman around the coop? I greeted them all by name. Hello Peaches! Hello Floppsy, I see you are getting over your molt at last! Hello Whinny, you look lovely today! Could you be a dear and lay your eggs in the nesting box today? I can’t reach your secret nest under the barn without lying down in manure. Hello Brahma Mama Magda! If you decide to go broody again, I will get you some hatching eggs to sit on.

Through the fog I could see the outline of my littlest dogs waiting for me by the house. I collected my indoor critters as I headed homeward through the velvet mist. 

Now I sit in the valley farmhouse, nicely socked in and wrapped up in a deep silencing fog. The kettle whistles with two tones, like a harmonica, or a train, just like my grandfather pulling train sounds out of his harmonica. Every time the whistle blows, I am taken back to his fireside performances. I poor his magic over the coffee grounds in the French press pot my aunt gave me after Peter accidentally melted mine in the oven. I slowly drop the filter down into the pot as I think of my loved ones; Family, and friends whom qualify as the same. I poor the darkest of dark, almost black, coffee into my handmade birthday mug; the one with an explosion of glaze dripping down the hand thrown cup, except where a naked imprint of a leaf is found; the one a new friend gifted me when I had just moved South, and no one yet knew it was my birthday. These precious items, and my farm morning routine, are filled with magic and celebrations and remembrances. Sitting on the davenport, draped with a heap of cuddly and slightly soggy dogs, I look out a set of glass doors towards a vaporous meadow. As my heart sails up and bursts though top of my chest, I begin to write.

I realize that while I have loved and missed my big winters of my wild, wild west with two foot snow falls, jumping into the depths of the bottomless powder, watching my dachshunds happily swim through the yawning snow like downy dark dolphins, and walking hand in hand through the chubby cottony flakes while falling in love; I have come to appreciate the feel of being held in the foggy, still, and enchanted winter of the Appalachian Mountains. I have embraced my inner artist, farm girl, and melded them with my Western ways of the mountains, deserts, canyons and the mighty Colorado. I am crazy in love with the world, and I am home.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Your Soul Is Bigger Than That

Oh my friend, I love you so much! You bring a peaceful easy feeling wherever you travel. I always feel that everything is right when I stand or sit at your side. That is a special brand of magic you have there. My heart is swollen up with happy memories, positive thoughts, and a joy from knowing you. I called my mamma last week, crying that you were ill while I was so far away. She said "daughter, souls are bigger than that. You soul is never not touching a friends soul, and so you are never apart." I imagined our big soup shaped souls stretched across the nation on adventures we were wholly unaware of, and it made me feel peaceful, and easy. Our souls must have been touching. If someone was able to scientifically or metaphysically observe this phenomenon, I bet our souls would be found leaning against a door jam, watching the canyon go by, and the babies grow tall.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Rest Easy Knowing That One Day, Red Riding Hood Will Find Her Own Particular Way Out Of The Woods.

People do not change instantly, and certainly not on our timetable, but progress occurs, whether or not we can measure it. 
Hope is not lost. 
Rest easy knowing that one day, red riding hood will find her own particular way out of the woods. 

In a true adventure, no one wants to follow someone else's course. 
You can not tell a person how to get out of the proverbial woods; to live as you see fit; but you can be a cheerleader, and proof that there is life outside the brambles.

Would you like to help someone along? Try being a lantern instead of a map!

My still living Gran used to be cranky all the time, and only spoke to criticize. When she was complimenting someone, it was in order to highlight someone else's failings. We could tell her "Hey, stop being such a downer, Gran/Mom!" but she was too far in the woods to hear our pleas. 

Those were her woods. 
Her brier patch. 
Not ours. 
She had to find her way out of the maze on her own. 

A big shift occurred when she had to move closer to family. My Auntie took a deep breath, and held up a light for her. For a really long time. When I think of my Auntie, I conjure up images of the statue of liberty, beckoning ships to the new world. My how her spiritual arm must have ached! 
 This light was powered by love and patience, kindness and grace, 
and maybe just a little desperation 
"Oh please dear God, get thorough to this woman so we can enjoy the time we have left!"
After a many moons, a beam popped through the thickest of brush. 
Light travels farther than fervent gesticulations and screams into the deep woods of the soul, it seems... 

Gran could see what life is like when one uses kind words. 
She liked this new image of the world, and walked towards it readily, and with a little a little flair. 
People said she would never change, and yet she did. 

I now look forward to visiting her, especially because she simply can not stop bubbling on about the many wonderful stories around her. 
"Oh did you hear about what old so-and so is up to? Isn't it wonderful!?" 
It feels good to be next to her; to laugh, to relax; to take off my armor at last! 

There is always hope. 
Ones internal timetable may call for change at age 26 or age 86. 
The point is, that good things are always afoot, even in the most shadowed of hearts. 
This thought brings me joy.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Chip Off the Old Artist's Block, The Artichoke, and TAW

Living East of the Mississippi has been a game changer.   Had I landed in a certain hippie mountain town as I had intended to, instead in the buckle of the bible belt, I might have not noticed how far I had wondered from my own lush path of happiness.

I found myself right where I wanted to be, all but a days drive from all the wee relatives, yet I was the furthest from myself yet.  This was good.  It forced me to notice that I had wandered off my own happy path long ago.  I had wandered down the get-payed-to-play path, and gotten lost in a tangle of benefits-and-reliability briers.  Where did my adventurous path fall off?  Why was I getting paid to simply be a drudge.  

"No more!" I shouted to the night sky. Something had to give... and it did. 

My soul sister, Artichoke Woman, found me, and brought a puzzle with her.  The puzzle was her self. Artichoke Woman found her creative self, tucked inside The Artist's Way, but she never could manage pull that stubborn sucker all the way out.  She was unable to level up, or as she would say: peel back enough layers. She asked me if I wanted to give it a shot.  I said heck yes! So there we sat on the floor of our souls, with our little rubix cubed artist's hearts trying to sort it all out.  How did that piece get all the way over there, and how will I get it back? Hey, you over there? How are you doing? Wouldn't it be cool to make this into a party and invite our closest friends? And thus our little guild of light was born.

Some tasks, though meant to be completed alone, are in fact far easier to complete, when one has a team of rambunctious and joy-filled friends rafting down the same river, laughing in the face of the scariest rapids, and cheering as one paddles through. 
Some hurdles are not meant to be jumped over, but meant to be set on fire, because I have marshmallows, and we might as well make S'mores.

I celebrate my life by slowly waking from my artistic stupor in the most enjoyable of ways.  The last 6 months have felt like a wonderful long good morning stretch. The sort of stretch I make when I wake up with the sun shining down on me, and with the knowledge that I have all day to enjoy my life, preferably with a pot of slow brewed French Press coffee on the side. I have been writing and doodling like there is no tomorrow, practicing hodge-podge methods of print making, sending letters to people I love, and going on small adventures in the aforementioned mountain town. I now travel with these wonderful women friends, through pages, personal computers, phone lines and places.

This is TAW. This is an adventure. 
This is my River!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Grandfather's Port Authority

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Most Interesting Man In The World 
Last Mother's Day, my wonderful, kind, and subtly hilarious Grandfather launched his canoe off the shore of the Great Gitche Gumee, in search of his love, Jeannie Baby. 

My Grandfather believed in the best of people. He believed I was doing great and glorious things with my life. If I ever am down and need to rally, I still think of him. 
I will complete this task! 
I will do these things! 
I will honor my Grandfather, and my family!
I will dance with abandon and bring joy everywhere I travel!
It is difficult for me to not not shoot off an email in order to tell him of my feats or failures, or just simply share an image of a raven ka-cawing on a cliff side, or a flower blooming next to a bubbling cascade.

My Grandparents have been a powerful influence in my life.  Though I loved living out West, I knew that I needed to move closer to them, as they grew older.  There were far fewer openings in my field, to the East of the Mississippi, so it took a while for my transfer to go through. While I waited, Jeannie Baby, my sweet Nana, grew ill. I was snow bound, and unable to reach the one I knew as The Source of Unconditional Love, before she slipped away in the night. Until the week of his death, Gaga was unable to finish reading lyrics to her favorite song, Autumn Leaves.
But I'l miss you most of all, my Darling when autumn leaves, start to fall.
He wanted to be with her, but decided the world was too interesting for him to exit just yet: He had work to do!

My transfer went through in time for me to spend lots of time with Gaga. I am glad of this. We visited each other often. Because of him, my world started to include my family on many more levels. When he was on his way out, at almost age 98, he told us it was cigarettes that were cutting his life so short. It was indeed his lungs which gave out before his heart. When my brothers vowed to give up smoking, he delightedly told me that he was using his "secret death powers" to fix everything before he left. Gaga claimed to be a trickster.  He used his enigmatic mix of wit, charm and love, to form a deep cohesion within my family. My brothers are now my best friends, and my parents are each others. 

A bottle of his port still sits in my cupboard, half full. Why yes, I am an optimist!   I... miss him.  Last November, in a burst of sentimentality, I pulled out the bottle, with the intent to finish it, and say goodbye. The flavor had gone off, and I was crushed. Though I realized I was supposed to toss the liquid before it fermented further, I choose not too.  I drank one last slightly vinegary glass with his ghost, as I listened to a couple piano heavy songs (on repeat) and powered through week one of The Artist's Way. I had a productive night, getting back in touch with my creativity and lady like emotions.
"I hope you have your Jeannie Baby in that Canoe of yours, you rapscallion!"
 I then gently placed the bottle back into the cupboard which was clearly its home. 

I like to think that he still visits, and he knows how welcome he is, when he sees his bottle still waiting for him.  I assume the bottle of port, like my Grandfather, enjoys watching over the other, younger bottles of liquor, and occasionally dispensing wisdom, or teaching them limericks. My liquor cabinet is not just entertaining, it is entertained. 

So there my Grandfather's Port sits, making me smile,and sometimes cry, when I open my cupboard. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

All Of a Sudden I was In Love With The World

Once upon a time it was dark and lonely, then I woke up.
Once upon a time I woke up and I was in love in love with myself.

I could have any job I wanted, and I did.
    I was a professional bad ass.  
I could conquer all of my fears, and I did.
    Searching a burning building blinded is far less scary than a being married to the wrong guy.
I could have any guy I wanted, and I did.
    Sheer confidence is the hottest thing I have ever worn.

Once upon a time I fell in love with a moonpie adventurer.
He was hot as hell, and looked just like me.
This went along well with my recent crush on myself,
Though it weirded out some of my friends.
"Dude! You look related!"
Um, no. He looks like a sexy dude version of me.
Totally different.
Totally hot.
We flew to the moon and back through each others eyes,
Until one day he looked at me funny, and ended it.

So there was only one thing I could do.
I woke up the next day, ready for the next challenge.
Hello world! I am here for adventure!
Bring it! 
Oh hey, Look at you, long haired hippie HVAC repair man,
walking all sexy into the post office.
I had not previously noticed your extreme levels of hotness.
You are It!

But every time I set my eyes on something new,
There my goodbye lover was,
Making sad moon eyes at me.
Because once upon a time, the moonpie wouldn't let me go.

What in the hail is your problem?
Why are you looking at me like that?
Why are your arms wrapped around mine,
As I listen to Willie Nelson sing about love
And simper over a sauce in my bachelorette kitchen?
Why do you keep showing up here, giving me that look?
"Because I am in love with you."
And you broke up with me.

Once upon a time the moonpie answered.
Then the earth fell out from under my feet,
Not from launching my dreams,
but having my dream, the one I was living in, snatched  away.
I believed I was strong.
I knew I could have anything I wanted.
I knew I could do anything and everything I set my heart on.
No one could stop me!

Once upon a time the moonpie looked down at his feet as he told me
"Your butt is too big."
My what is what?
"Your butt is too big. Especially in proportion to your boobs."
And then he kissed me, and told me maybe he could live with it.
He loved me, not my ass.
Why why why why why baby 
If its so evil then?*

Damn it took forever to get rid of that moonpie.

For the record, I love my butt.  
It takes me everywhere I want to go.

My Favorite Mode Of Travel is By The Seat Of My Pants. ~LJ Schorr

*This post was written while listening to various versions of Jesus Built My Hotrod. 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sausage Dog Steamroller

(from my morning journal entry)

Good morning/afternoon!

Brat tried to steamroller me me, and then Schnitzel tried to steamroller Brat! What is going on? Don't they know they are wiener dogs?

May today Be Awesome!

Brat usually steamrollers rugs or blankets, not people.