Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Thank You and Wow and Yes!

Nothing is as important as a likeable narrator.
Nothing holds a story together better. Ethan Canin

Thank you to all of you lovely and sweet and supportive new visitors and followers from Kelly's blog. And of course, Kelly, thank you for being you. Welcome! I am so happy to have you here, and I really do love you. As you may notice, I'm not always as serious as all that, and I love cats, and funny, and design, and home stuff, too. This last week has been my first experience of all that wonderful connection and support from all over the world right here on the internet! It feels good. Really good. Inspiring. Helpful. Now that the intention is on the virtual page to set those stories free, I must do it. It's follow-up time. Again, even I am without the words to articulate how thankful I am to you for taking the time to read and to bouy up my heart with your kind words and attention, and for having such amazing, inspiring worlds of creativity and love on your blogs, shops, sites, even in your faces! I look forward to delving into them and communicating with all of you. Yay! Tonight, I so look forward to seeing the Decemberists live in concert at The St. Augustine Ampitheatre. Never seen the Decemberists and haven't seen a show at the lovely, wood-surrounded ampitheater since I was in one more than 20 years ago. I'm bringing my mom and we're sort of dressing alike. It will be magical. We have center orchestra seats!!!!!!!! Love and Light, Light, Light...Ama Livia

{Image Sources: Freckled Girl with Butterfly Tattoo: We Heart It via Freckled Flickr; Smoking Girl by Lina Scheynius via We Heart It via Lina Scheynius Flickr; The Decemberists by Autumn DeWilde; Mom and Daughter Illustration by Little Brown Pen: We Heart It via Little Brown Pen}

Monday, September 28, 2009

Flesh to Fur, Feathers to Flight

For My Flesh Had Turned to Fur and My Thoughts They Surely WereTurned to Instinct and Obedience to God... --Blitzen Trapper, "Furr"
These wild swans Yeats writes about in the poem below, to me, are the family of geese...now much more than a gaggle at almost 20, who fly and float upon the man-made pond behind my workplace, in an office park of three-story corporations, near the highway, the hospital, restaurants, and newly minted roads, where we, humans that we are, try and circle in around the wilderness, in awe and envious of the wildness, the instinct, the effortless ease of nature, of creatures who answer to no one but ancient orders held in their bones--indestructible even as hunter's bullets fly, as acres of grass and trees and water turn to cement and manicured versions of forest, as their enemies turn from hungry alligators to the roar of shining cars speeding to Starbucks.

For they have never known, or maybe have always known, the tyranny of the ego, of measured days, of rakes, and iPods, and e-mails...now they know only that air suspends them, wind and water carry them, worms live in the grass, strength comes in numbers, and the pond is cool and giving as they float from one end of the man-made lake to the other--while featherless, pale creatures come and go, buzzing with a longing and fear that engenders just the slightest bit of sympathy in their tiny hearts, if sympathy they could feel, if they even had to write down and put into words that love, ah love, is more important than knowledge, and how could they forget-- how could they forget--something they never had to remember?

The Wild Swans At Coole

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodlands paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.

All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.
Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;

Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.
But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away? 

"The Wild Swans at Coole" by W.B. Yeats, from Collected Poems. Public domain.

{Image Sources-Girl with Fawns: We Heart It; Mom and Daughter Feeding Geese: We Heart It; Figure with Swans : We Heart It via Ali Scarpulla Flickr; Geese at Target: We Heart It via Swiss Miss; Cloaked Girl With Swans: We Heart It via Inspires Tumblr; Girl Holding Swans: We Heart It via Tybx Tumblr; Wild Goose Chase: We Heart It via Fiona Watson Art Flickr }

Friday, September 25, 2009

Each Day is a God

Every day is a god, each day is a god, and holiness holds forth in time. I worship each god, I praise each day splintered down, splintered down and wrapped in time like a husk, a husk of many colors spreading, at dawn fast over the mountains split. I wake in a god. I wake in arms holding my quilt, holding me as best they can inside my quilt. Someone is kissing me – already. I wake, I cry “Oh,” I rise from the pillow. Why should I open my eyes? I open my eyes. The god lifts from the water. His head fills the bay. He is Puget Sound, the Pacific; his breast rises from pastures, his fingers are firs; islands slide wet down his shoulders. Islands slip blue from his shoulders and glide over the water, the empty, lighted water like a stage. Today’s god rises, his long eyes flecked in clouds. He flings his arms, spreading colors; he arches, cupping sky in his belly. He vaults, vaulting and spread, holding all and spreading on me like skin.
--Annie Dillard (Holy the Firm)

I think Annie's got my engines running again. I feel a tumult, a sickening, a shove. I have to do what I was made for. I must. I must tell my stories. Annie Dillard's wonderful account of her childhood, An American Childhood, was the biography I chose to do a book report on when I was all of 15 precocious years. It is a part of my body, my blood, my soul. One of the books that made me want to write.

She wrote about the shadows entering her bedroom at night, those mysterious lights that arc from one wall, to the ceiling, to another, moving like smoke. She wrote about how young and tender and beautiful and funny her parents were. How their beauty was earned, astonishing, and powerful--whereas a child's beauty is more elfin, a free gift. She wrote about how when everything else is gone from her mind--the faces of her children, the names of her lovers, her own name--what would remain would be the topography, rivers, rolling hills, and green lushness of the grass that was her hometown of Pittsburgh.
I didn't know anyone else had seen those mysterious shadows at night, which today are barely noticed, aware as I am, too aware, of the logistics of space, and light, and time, and that those terrifying monsters and ghosts visiting you alone are merely cars passing in the night.

I didn't know that other people played with and marveled at the wonders of aging skin, loose flesh, veins, and diamonds on the skinny fingers of the people who were my world--my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my parents, and all of their many friends. I didn't know that my childlike beauty was elfin, a gift--while the glorious adults shone with a light of beauty they had earned with the hard work of living, of life, of breaking apart, and putting yourself back together again. I didn't know other people remembered their tender mothers napping, and were agog, hours later as their warm, sleepy mothers walked from their bedroom doors transformed into the sweetest-smelling, shining, most beautiful things we had ever witnessed.

I didn't know. And she told me. She's telling me again. There is enough.
There is enough room for me, for the singing in my bones, the untold stories and poems that make my heart race in existential terror, that made me once upon a time try to kill them and myself as I manically downed vodka, popped pills, smoked a thousand cigarettes, screamed at suitors, terrified my friends, and made an art out of romantic rejection. You could line around the block all the good and loving men I sent away, artfully, like suicide, like anything else.

This painting, "Strong," is by my one of my dearest friends, Kelly Rae Roberts, whose journey to telling her own story and finding amazing success in the risk of TRYING, has been a major shove at my heart, telling me, NOW. Not later. Now. She's one of the many women dear in my heart who I GREW UP WITH. The real growing up. The real heartbreaks. The losses. The joys. The weddings. Births. Divorces. She is a part of my chosen family. And me of hers, and I am so grateful that we all chose so carefully, so wisely, at our tender ages of 14, then 18 and 19 and 20 and older.

And now no less than 15 years later with some, 20 years and more with others, we still hold fast to one another, hold that KNOWING and LOVING that comes only from watching each other fall, watching each other be fools, watching each other be cruel, and stupid, watching each other's hearts break apart--even more than the risings, the transformations, the joys, the soul-sustaining laughter--this shadow-self knowledge, this witnessing of it all, makes us hold ever more fiercely, love ever more deeply, and remember, one to the other, what we once were, where we once were, and who we are, now.

"Only connect," E.M. Forster, said. And so we have, over and over again. Only love, only connection even in the midst of dry spells and bitter hearts. I have a circle of these people in my life. And if I did anything right in my life, I chose these people as my family. And they me. Though one name was mentioned, I am incredibly lucky to have at least 30 of these people in my life. Right now.

Even as they stepped back as I tried to throw myself, headlong, so wasteful and selfish, over the edge of a real and beautiful and joyful world. They are my bedrock. And they came back. Were there when I woke up, and are here, scattered over the mountains split, as I try to pull myself, one day at a time, out of the darkness that once was my only home.

They are telling me something, these stories my body holds. They are telling me to pick up a pen, get a wooden lap desk, smoke a thousand cigarettes, and sit in early morning light all the way to dark, and set them free. Because, with apologies to T.S. Eliot, there really is not enough time. No time for you and for me, for the taking of toast and tea. Not time enough for decisions, visions, and revisions which a minute will reverse. Every minute someone dies. I will die. My life grows longer. The pages blank. I have dallied long enough.

I will not throw my head in the oven. Won't go out on a cocktail of barbituates and booze. Won't hang myself from a noose. Won't stuff my dress pockets with stones and drown in the river of an English countryside. Won't wear a smile plastered upon the face of a dying, dying heart. Not me. I'm gonna set those neglected stories loose on the world, and for a little while, we'll all be the better for it. I promise.

{Image Sources: 1.) Oprisco via Rose Coloured Rain 2.) Erik Jacobs for the New York Times; 3.) We Heart It ; 4.) Rosie Hardy Flickr ; 5.) Heart It via Bits of Beauty; 6.) We Heart It; 7.) We Heart It; 8.) Small Magazine; 9.) My Grandma Gerry; 10.) Oprisco via Rose Coloured Rain; 11.) We Heart It; 12.) Strong by Kelly Rae Roberts; 13.) We Heart It; 14.) Kat, Me, Tanya, Karen; 15.) We Heart It; 16.) We Heart It; 17.) Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf in The Hours; 18.)Happiness Fort: My Life as a Sugar Lander via You are My Fave}

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Desired Reward

{Sweet Little Lamb via Cute Overload}

My koan, my mantra, my peace...from these simple words of Melodie Beattie:
Thankfulness toward lifeguarantees the reward we desire.

A Primo Giveaway from Lola B.

This lovely woman, who runs this lovely shop Lola B. , and writes a wonderful blog by the same name, is throwing a great giveaway in place of the party in the backyard she was hoping for. In her words..."The details.The scoop. The giveaway.$150 gift card to Anthro....to buy your own pair of swanky shoe's. {one lucky winner}$100 package from my little shop...Lola b's {one lucky winner}$50 restaurant gift card {one lucky winner} and a surprise little something for someone {oh..it'll be good..} All you have to do....is leave a comment.If you want to blog about this giveaway....i will double your name.If you want to add yourself as a follower...i will double your name again.You do not need to have a blog to enter....just comment with your email address!"
Go git it! Visit the giveaway place!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sweet Adelines

"I wish I hadn't thrown away my time/
On so much human/And so much less divine."
{Lou Reed, "Dime Store Mystery" New York}
Feeling lately, with so many loved ones not of this earth now, those deeper vibrations that come when watching an osprey soar high against the white of the clouds and the blue of the sky. Awareness settling in, acceptance of the unkown, of NOT KNOWING and BEING in it, simply in it, all of it. I guess these days my life feels longer, more rooted--my presence not necessarily substantive--but something has changed. Maybe in my soul, maybe in my more opened ears, my clearer thoughts, my moving forward, out of my own command. My body moving more toward a pattern of a more conscious life--treaded by repetition into a groove of healthfulness, an empty bowl filling with water, the water poured into growing things, the bowl empty again, awareness shimmering around its glass rim like the sweet adelines of a wine glass coaxed into song. { Image Via Be Whoever You Have to Be Tumbr}

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Work Is Loving the World

"My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.

Here the quickening yeast;
there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
Keep my mind on what matters,which is my work
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished."
—from "Messenger" in Thirst (2006), Mary Oliver

Image: Sunset Over Paris by KMSF on Flickr, via 315 Thomas

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

In The Night Orchard

In The Night Orchard
by R. T. Smith

I know, because Paul has told me
a hundred times, that the deer
gliding tonight through tangleweed
and trashwood, then bounding across
Mount Atlas Road, are after his pears.

And who could blame them?
On the threshold of autumn, the Asian
imports, more amazing than any Seckle
or indigenous apple, start to ripen.
Then a passing crow will peck one open.

That's when the whitetails who bed
and gather beyond Matson's pasture
will catch the scent and begin to stir.
It's a dry time, and they go slowly mad
for sweetness. No fence can stop them.

The farmers like Paul will admit
it starts in hunger, but how suddenly
need goes to frenzy and sheer plunder.
When the blush-gold windfalls are gone
and the low boughs are stripped

of anything resembling bounty, bucks
will rise on their hind legs and clamber
up the trunks. Last week Cecil Emore
found one strangled in a fork,
his twisted antlers tangled as if

some hunter had hung him there
to cure. We all remember what it's like,
this driven season, this delirium
for something not yet given a name,
but the world turns us practical, tames

us to yearn for milder pleasures.
For Augustine, it was actual pears
that brought him out of the shadows
and over a wall, for Eve, the secret
inside what we now say was an apple.

Others have given up safety for less,
and I wonder, catching an eight-point
buck outlined on the ridge amid spruce,
if it's this moonstruck nature that renders
the ruminants beautiful, or if we stalk

them out of envy, not for the grace
of their gliding, but for the unadorned
instinct that draws them after dark
into trespass and the need to ruin
the sweetest thing they've ever known.

"In The Night Orchard" by R. T. Smith, from Brightwood.© Louisiana State University Press, 2004. Beautiful painting by Melody Lea Lamb.


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