Lightly child lightlly…

Even though you’re feeling deeply,
Lightly let things happen. Lightly child lightly.  ~ Aldous Huxley*

imageWallace and friend on the first day of school

I’m working on a quilt for my grandson Wallace who is on the cusp – his 13th birthday is today.  He chose a quilt pattern made of triangles.  The title of the pattern in the book Sunday Morning Quilts is “Nap Like an Egyptian.”

I’m using a fabric print that includes compasses. So, I found two books to go with the quilt, one about the Egyptians and the compass and the other about geometry in art; I’m inscribing that one“study your geometry.”

Wallace loves to draw. Once he told his mother after I gave him a fat empty book, “She really knows me.” I do know what it feels like to be an introvert, and I know wanting to do things “perfectly.” I love his sense of humor, his knowing what he doesn’t want, his art, and his feeling everything deeply. I’m inscribing the other book with the Huxley quote, “lightly child lightly.”

As I began making the quilt wonkier than the artist who shared the pattern suggested, I retitled it “Ancient Egyptian saying, Measure Twice Cut Once.” After about the third try, when the quilt and I were both falling apart, I was “sucked into frustration – trying to hard,” to make the pieces fit. Then re-membering, actually pulling myself together, I felt in my bones how much I love this boy my first grandchild. The light dawned and I told myself “do this with love.” Fill this quilt with love!

Duh. What more can I say but “lightly, child, lightly.”

*http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/614121-it-s-dark-because-you-are-trying-too-hard-lightly-child

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Random thoughts while pulling weeds

How do you know it’s summer in the North West? We don’t wear socks under our sandals.

This morning I pulled warm socks on before I sat in the early morning sun to read and meditate. Later I took them off when I put on my heavy Keen sandals to go outside and pull weeds where I’m digging in new rich soil to plant a tree and some winter vegetables. I won’t talk about the dent I put in the passenger side of the old Toyota pickup “passed around the family garden truck” as I delivered soil to the backyard.

The last of the early apples are composting under the trees. Containers of applesauce are in the frig. Peaches from the farmer’s market were turned into pie and there are bags of peaches stashed in the freezer for cobbler on cold winter mornings. Plums squish under the tires of our cars as we drive down the shallow street in our neighborhood.

In August I failed to submit the required paperwork to continue Medicaid. Last Tuesday I paid my penance by waiting my turn to resubmit information in person. I entered the institutional building, checked in by computer and sat at the end of the row of lines of at least 100 chairs with my book for a long wait. My eyes and prayers wandered around the room constantly filling with a stream of people, some with wriggling babies and young children. We were all there hoping “call me next” to provide some assistance with whatever our situations required.

One of my father’s favorite spirituals was “Angels Hoverin’ ‘Round.” An angel unknown to me until later the next day intervened on my behalf to correct a mistake and my Medicaid is not “new in October” but “reinstated” which means some outstanding bills might be paid.

That same day I waited at the edge of the schoolyard for my 3rd grade grandson. I love this task. I wait with the au pairs, baby sitters, grandparents, daddies with strollers, pregnant mommies carrying toddlers, and older tired looking parents. All of us, waving at teachers and their helpers are greeting running, leaping, noisy children mostly with smiles and hugs. One little little boy ran up to his big sister and gave her an overpowering hug that almost knocked her down. She just rolled her eyes.

Later while I was helping wriggling Zeb get ready for soccer practice by pushing and pulling his stretchy tight soccer socks over his stinky feet and shin guards then double knotting his shoes, he said, “Gran, I’ve been thinking about a question. What is life?”

Last Sunday evening my Bellingham family and I along with 15 others spent 3 hours on a boat in Puget Sound watching 45 Orca whales  including a 108 year old female named Grandma.

120

I put my camera down at sunset. The full moon was rising when the Orcas surrounded our boat for a last display of leaping and rolling, blowing, breaching and diving in what I could only call Holy Joy.

Again I must end this blog entry saying there is no ending… It is all mystery!

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

It all makes no sense

image

Every growth, growth as such, is dialectical. It needs thesis, antithesis, and synthesis; synthesis again in its turn becomes thesis, and creates antithesis and synthesis — which again, in its turn, becomes thesis.

That’s the way the whole existence works. That’s why you find duality everywhere. The duality is thesis and antithesis. One can remain caught between the two, divided, split; there will be no growth. One can make a bridge between the two, and create a new phenomenon: that is synthesis. One can remain at the synthesis; then growth stops there, unless this synthesis again functions as a thesis to produce antithesis… ~ Osho *

I have tried walking many different paths. Many times I had no idea what my path or paths were. Some writers say when you loose the path you will always find the way back. That’s not my experience – in fact, I don’t want the “way back.” I carve my way through jungles making a new path. There really was a night I was lost in the jungle and as I’ve written before I did find the path home – the one that wound around the back of the mountain; the long way home branching onto new paths.

Christianity was my first path, cut by my parents through a small Episcopal church where the message was Love. Since then I’ve trod many paths, exploring many directions. Last week I attended a gathering of 25 people to engage in dialogue about Christianity and Muslim beliefs. One of the presenters quoted possibly Osho – who often cut an unsavory path but with good advice – “don’t get stuck on the bridge.”

During the gathering we were directed to discuss our “leaning/learning spiritual edge.” At first in a thinking outloud answer I said, “My challenge is to not stay stuck in the middle of the bridge.”

Later I told a story about one of my teachers asking a group of Wisdom students if  we considered ourselves introverts or extraverts. I replied I’m an introvert. Everyone laughed. The teacher, a wise man, said “she is a noisy introvert, she knows the Mystery and shows it.” This is where my challenges lie – not staying on that bridge being comfortable with someone else’s definition of me. Synthesizing my introversion and my outloud self  and sharing what I know of the mystery – moving off the middle of the bridge to where ever paths I’m led.

Two weeks ago I was with 4 of my grandchildren in Oregon. They and friends were chasing around in a very loud game shooting each other with foam darts. I asked one granddaughter what they were playing. The answer upended me. “Terrorist.” Suddenly I was once again aware of how, even in families with no TV, our culture invades everyone, everywhere.

I was moved to tears in the gathering of Christians and Muslims when one woman told us that she’d worn black and a veil for weeks when the U.S. invaded Iraq. Still thinking about kids playing terrorist, I told a friend about the kids play at a dinner party. He responded “there are always good guys, and bad guys.” Of course, but being a contemplative person, sitting on the bridge I continue to ask why, why, why?

One way I search for under-standing is to read read read and read some more. I have a pile of books by my chair and my bed – Brian Doyle’s The Thorny Grace of It; John Shelby Spong’s The Sins of Scripture, Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love. The Divine Conspiracy, Rediscovering our Hidden Life in God by Dallas Willard is here with a couple of Thomas Keating’s books about Centering Prayer. Jamal Raham’s and Rabbi Ted’s book about our misunderstandings of each others’ religions is on my bed. This morning I am deep into And Man Created God, A History of the World at the Time of Jesus; the subject is how religion uses empire and how empire uses religion.

Another way I ask Where do I stand? and Why? is moving into silence – deep silence where often I find the ground of my being and see the world through laughing eyes.

phpmcgW4E_c2AM

   *http://www.oshoworld.com/osho_talk/talks/light27.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajneesh#By_religious_scholars

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fairy tales for our time

20140805_094322

Sarah Winman is a terrific writer and story teller. In fact my granddaughter who is reading Hunger Games and I had a hard time agreeing to put our books down for conversation during our take out supper on my back deck Saturday night.

This morning sitting in the blazing sun, I was reading the last few chapters of When God Was a Rabbit and my cynicism reared her ugly head.

Why cynicism? Because 9.11 entered the last chapters and I didn’t see it coming. Arghh I groaned. Like my mother who used to ask “can’t we have a family picture without a beer?” I’ve begun to ask “can’t we have a modern novel without 9.11?” This led me into a rabbit hole, no pun intended, thinking about why so many novels written in the last ten years include reference to 9.11.

With this event all the monsters came out of our forest and showed us in living color that we, the chosen ones, are not invulnerable. It got worse. Our reactionary behavior showed up like my foster dog’s, appropriately named Boy Dog, who chose to fight with a close-by bigger dog because he couldn’t get to the terriers nearby who aroused his flight or fight heart. He had 10 stitches; we got thousands of boys and girls killed.

I could get myself into a real downer sitting here with the sun shining on the apple trees thinking about our cultural ways of blocking out “war” and avoiding anything real that aides any survival on this blue planet. My mind is jumping around to the algae on Lake Erie and allegories in the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild and the Huger Games –which by the way Phoebe said “terrorized her” the first time she read it. It should. She’s 11!

Kristen Lamb who writes about writing, recent blog is about why zombies “are consuming our culture.” Lamb writes ‘horror’ often reflects what we’re facing as a society.” http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/why-are-zombies-consuming-our-culture/. Yikes!

And then this morning Christine Valters Painter in her blog wrote, “I am reminded of a powerful poem by Jack Gilbert about how in the midst of the world’s madness we must ‘risk delight.’ He goes on to write that ‘there will be music despite everything. The songs of the cosmos continue to ring forth no matter how much we resist.’ Valters Painter continues,
“In these days when the news offers little of solace, see if you might hold your own narrow and judgmental places with compassion, and in that softening see if you might slip slowly from their grip. Notice if that moment of inner Exodus brings the desire to dance, and if you can offer yourself the generous permission to say yes.”
www.AbbeyoftheArts.com

My sister tells her dog when he begs at the table,“live in hope.” Like the dog begging at the table we write and hope for our happy endings. Yes, the book has a “hope-filled happy ending.” But remember hope is a verb. Think about it…

“A fairy tale is a story-literary or folk-that has a sense of the numinous, the feeling or sensation of the supernatural or the mysterious. Fairy tales are sometimes spiritual, but never religious.”Lane, Marcia. Picturing a Rose: A Way of Looking at Fairy Tales. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1993.  ©Heidi Anne Heiner, SurLaLune Fairy Tales www.surlalunefairytales.com, http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/introduction/ftdefinition.html  

Posted in Consciousness, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On plum splatters, the dog is back, books, birthdays and the shiny red bike

20140728_093219We picked half a ton of beautiful yellow plums on Monday for the Bellingham Food Bank. The purple and red plums were so ripe we each brought some home for jam.

Summer or on turning 71

The kitchen floor is grubby, that dog’s been back for a month

Instead of washing up I go out with friends for lunch

Books are piled on the couch, and lay all over the floor,

The library phoned, new books were in, and I flew out the door.

There is a list, bills to pay, sheets out on the line,

Summer’s here, the hammock calls, so many books

so little time.   `mm, 2014

So far this summer I haven’t done what I thought I’d do. I’ve read a lot. It’s been hot then rainy and now it’s hot again. I didn’t attend my writers’ group today. Usually before I go to bed I at least do the dishes and wipe off the kitchen counters. Nope, not last night. I’d fixed a late supper for me and my son’s family, walked with the dog, he’s back, and worked on a quilt. So I woke up not only to dishes in the sink but purple plum spatters on the stove and yellow plum juice leaking onto the kitchen counters from the bag I left them in.

While my coffee water boiled I wiped up the plum juice, set the crock pot on simmer to finish the purple cinnamony plum butter, then took my coffee and Brian Doyle’s book the thorny grace of it to the deck. Brian begins his book with an essay written remembering a Good Friday church service. He begins the short piece wondering do we remember who we’re talking about, “…this prince of light … a thin Arab woodworker, a most devout and committed Jew… a footloose vagrant on Roman roads, troublesome and strange… the last kid picked, the homeless guy with dirty feet?”

The essay ends with his description of a little girl asking at the end of the service, “but, did he die? Does he get born again?” The mom answers tomorrow as they walk out from “the haunted darkness into a crisp redolent spring afternoon.” The little girl’s father, says “almost under his breath, Today.”

After I wiped my eyes on my tee shirt sleeve, that was my thank you for this glorious day and it has been with me all day. Today!  While I cleaned the kitchen, then walked in the sun spattered woods with the dog then rode my shiny new-to-me red bike the few miles to Sally’s then to the library and back home again. Later I wrote to my kids saying I was grinning so hard it’s a wonder I didn’t eat a bug! 

There’s a bit of a story around the bike. A week ago I was trying to beat my land speed record walking to Sally’s. Three blocks from her house I tripped and fell flat on my face. I’ll spare you the pictures. It wasn’t pretty. There was blood. After some ice and ibuprofen and laughter about mom going out for walks in a helmet with face guard, knee guards, wrist guards, I was concerned that “the kids” would decide Mom shouldn’t have the bike I asked for for my birthday. A week later my nose is no longer green and blue with large scabs – only little scabs. We didn’t take birthday pictures this weekend except of the shiny new to me, red “girls bike” with a bell and flashing light!

20140728_150402

As for the dog who came to the Alternative Humane Society with the name Boy Dog who is now Boyd, or Droyd to my grandkids, he’s back with me after a sojourn at a kennel, then time with another foster home then a scrap with a bigger dog. He needs a forever home but is happy here walking in the woods or on the couch beside me. His prayer too is Today!

20140603_163409

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

I just finished reading Charles and Emma, the Darwin’s Leap of Faith, about their married life and how it affected his life; Juliet, by Anne Fortier, a novel that jumps back and forth between the “real” Romeo and Juliet and a present day hero and heroine. Fortier is the author of The Lost Sisterhood written in the same style about the Amazons – this book led me to Juliet. Currently I’m reading The SpyMistress, by Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker which I enjoyed; and, Matt Fox’s newest book Meister Eckhart, A Mystic Warrior for Our Time.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Shifting consciousness

Well said, Wangari. Prophetic wisdom!

For a Mother’s Day present my children and their partners signed me up for the local Chuckanut Writer’s Conference. I spent my weekend workshop/breakout times focused on memoir.

When I was finishing my doctoral dissertation, my daughter Sally, a really really good writer, gave me the best advice about a draft of the work I’d suffered over for at least 4 years; “Mom, take out all the quotes and see what you’ve got left.” That advice turned the tide. I whittled 150 pages down to 100 – that’s an exaggeration but then I was able to move toward a finished piece of writing in my words.

This morning I’m hanging out in bed with a cup of coffee, my laptop, and a pile of books from my library pick-up, plus my notebook filled with ideas from the conference. I’m whittling down my years of consciousness imposed by years of input, to see what’s left of me. This is not an eureka moment. I’m trying to do what my friend Trish did and write a letter to my birthday-is-almost-here self.

The first books I poured over were 3 quilt books. Yes, quilt books. They were a break from words words words to color, pattern and visual art created from contrasting fabrics.

I thought about that as I walked from the living room, where my sewing machine is on a fold-up table, into the kitchen past the room I call the whatsitroom. Paper litters the desk and floor. Nearby fabric scraps are neatly (well that’s a description we don’t all agree on) sorted into colorways on shelves at least for a moment.

Contrast. Eight published authors and one over the top in a fantastic way high school teacher, slam poet competitor, talked about their work and shared exercises to help make our writing sing. Not one person directly used the word “contrast.”  Those of us who dabble with the color chart know that contrast makes a quilt or painting “sing.”  I am at the point in my life, with limited years left, when the contrast between who I was and who I want to be is the key to making my heart sing.

The papers on the floor and nearby cupboard overflowing with paper and other arts materials stacked willynilly are reminders of “someday I’ll get to that.” I’ll create those collages – not. I’ll frame those photos or at least get them into albums – someday.  Contrast that with the somewhat ordered quilting fabric, sewing supplies and yet to be finished for people I love quilts and my expanding scribbled list to write about ideas that keep my heart beating – and we all know I need to do everything I can to keep my heart beating.

My dad died when he was 97, 6 months ago. Every day from the time he was close to 70 years old, he wrote a story expressing his thoughts and memories about his life. These stories are gifts to me and my family.

A sense of joy and connection serve as my compass in all things. My writing and my quiltmaking are not profound pursuits. They are ways to express who I am. It is time I do my part to give up cynicism and wrestle down my fears for the world; specifically for my grandchildren.  

It’s also time to see if I can find the floor in the whatsitroom.

You can call me Still Moving out Granni.

4 of 54 of the 5

“For our hearts are not pure; our hearts are filled with need and greed as much as with love and grace; and we wrestle with our hearts all the time. The wrestling is who we are. How we wrestle is who we are. What we want to be is never what we are. Not yet. Maybe that’s why we have these relentless engines in our chests, driving us forward toward what we might be.” ~ Brian Doyle

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

mugged by perfectionism

 

momband

my mom at 16 in her band uniform – she played flute and piccolo 

On Mother’s Day I called my sister because, “you are the only other person who looks in the mirror and sees Mom.”  Laughing she responded, “yes, and I hear her voice all the time too.”  Carol and I talked about a quilt I’m working on that is a bit outside my competency. I often “bless” it –  a confession our mom shared each time she gave one her beautiful quilts to a grandchild at their wedding.    

phoebe quilt progress 004may quilts 002

I’m continually mugged by perfectionism.  Frustrated working on an internet newsletter demanding a high learning curve, I gave up and washed the dishes piled in the sink. Then fried some bacon for lunch – not the food most favored by a healthy heart diet – but I was tired of trying to “get it right.” 

Last Saturday, the first day it was activated, I took my new “smart phone” to a family picnic. When I got to the sprawling park I needed to call a family member to figure out where we were gathered – that’s when I realized I hadn’t transferred any phone numbers! The first time my 8-year-old grandson picked up that “smart phone” and texted his mother, I remembered this stuff is in their DNA and mine was formed with rotary dial.

   we learned: the “double helix” kinda like the long twisted phone cord when I dragged the phone into the broom closet for privacy.

They learn science: DNA Found to Have “Impossible” Telepathic Properties

Dna47_3_2 DNA has been found to have a bizarre ability to put itself together, even at a distance, when according to known science it shouldn’t be able to.

 

I follow this blog because I love fabrics all patched and mended; after all I am a collage artist. ( http://blueandwhitetokyo.com/2014/05/21/mending-my-ways/)mend1In our accelerating and disposable world, have we lost sight of the preciousness of things, the importance of keeping them safe and honoring them?

I gave up my “old” cell phone because I want the magic of “Face Time” with my Michigan grandson and his parents and I love trading photos and texting with my Oregon grandkids.

I’ll finish this blessed quilt because my granddaughter chose the pattern for her birthday present. The imperfect newsletter was broadcast on time via the internet and the next one is in the works. NPR recently talked about surveys that show quilting and other puzzle solving is good for the brains of “seniors.” Maybe I “still have it” whatever “have it” is. Mostly I think “it” is about my sense of the ridiculous.

 

the art of surrendering  by Liza M. DiNunzio

to surrender
does not mean to give up.
for me,

it is about finding the grace and the strength within

to try a different way…

a different way of seeing,

doing,

feeling.

and then,

letting go of the outcome

and expecting the best.

Thank you Lisa.  http://www.pritistudio.com/2014/05/the-art-of-surrendering.html

The Prayer Flag Project  

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments