Thursday, October 19, 2017

An Indelible Memory


She wrapped silence around her like a shield. Sitting on the shadowed side of the meditation hall, she seemed to glow with concentration. I could not help but notice her, her pale denim clothes and long white hair, which was tied near her skull with a thin red ribbon. 

Two Tewa elders had been invited to open the meditation retreat entitled “In the Arms of Mother Earth.” They stood on their ancestral lands welcoming those who came to celebrate the planet and focus on ways to protect it. We were in accord. 

She seemed to pay particular attention to the elders, both apparently younger than she, both wearing simple dresses with colorful traditional patterns. 

Three days later, she was back as the two elders spoke their closing blessing then invited participants to come forward and take an item from the ‘give away’ table. 

That’s when she sang. Before any of us moved forward, she leaned back in her chair and sang. The song, in the Tewa language, reached every person in the hall. It reverberated in my soul. Although I could not understand the language, I understood the meaning. It was a hymn to the sacred planet, so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. 

The item I took from the table was a small round of glazed clay inscribed with the words, “I am Blessed.” As I walked from the hall, one of the elders used a large feather to anoint me with drops of water. Looking up I saw the singer standing nearby and was able to thank her and shake her hand. 

I was blessed indeed.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Rainbow Celebration

🌈Sunday, Oct. 15, my congregation celebrated the fact that we had earned the official designation, “Welcoming Congregation” from the Association of Unitarian Universalists. 

That means ours is a congregation in which people can feel welcome, whatever their sexual orientation. Even if they are ‘straight.’ So lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, queers, transgenders or indecisive know that they will be treated with respect. 

That’s a big deal. It has taken us a long time – three years – to earn the designation. There were sermons and seminars and workshops and films and books that introduced those of us largely unaware of the varieties of physical attachments to the variety of sexual identities. 

 Some of our members wearied of the effort. Why were we focusing so much attention on one sector of the general population when so much else, so many others, have so many, urgent needs. 

I have figured out why. I am, as I recall (it has been a very long time since this fact was of interest to anyone) a straight, heterosexual woman. Although I had no particular problem with gays or lesbians, I had no real understanding of the lives and struggles of gays and lesbians and bi-sexuals and transgender people. I understood in theory. Not in practice. Now my eyes and mind and heart are open. I no longer see the label. I see the person. 

That’s significant. There are all kinds of labels – sexual, racial, political, religious, economic, national, etc. Once we have learned to see the individuals behind the labels, we can begin to learn from each other. And there might even be hope for us all.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fried Green Tomatoes

 My tomato plant died Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017.

 Every day this summer I had faithfully watered it. It had little yellow flowers that, eventually, yielded two red ping pong ball-sized tomatoes. And lots of green globes.



When the frost warning came, I took a bucket out and picked a dozen green tomatoes. Now what? I couldn’t just throw them in the garbage. Not after months of careful tending. I decided to fry them. I had liked the movie but had never tasted fried green tomatoes.

 It wasn’t hard (but it was messy). [You slice the tomatoes, then dip the slices in flour, then in egg/milk, then in breadcrumbs or cornmeal seasoned with salt and pepper. Then fry.] And I liked them [my taste may have been skewed by the memory of  summer.]

Things die. But something new always seems to emerge. And it can be beautiful.



Or delicious.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Catalog Benefits

There is one huge advantage from receiving catalogs from every (or almost every) vendor in the United States. 

On relatively nice days, I have made it a practice sit on my porch swing to sort through my mail. The catalogs and bills arrive sometime between 3 and 6 p.m. depending on postal personnel rotation. 

Catalogs not only help keep the U.S. postal system in business and its carriers employed, they also give me an excuse to linger longer in/on my swing. 

At that time of day most everything slows down. Until you look up. Sit still and notice the hundreds of insects, mostly tiny, helicopter-ing in the air. For the most part, they do not harm or otherwise bother our species. Indeed, some (probably most, I’m not an entomologist) enhance our lives either by pollinating fruits and flowers or adding beauty to our lives. 

All we have to do is notice them. 

Before I trimmed back my spirea shrubs, I watched chubby bumble bees roll over their blossoms, probably delighting in their pollen. 

Recently, small beautiful butterflies – ‘painted ladies’ I think --settle on remaining flowers. 


There’s always something wondrous. Migrating birds of various dimensions skimming the sky. Not my smart phone.  

Just look.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

inflated greetings

On arrival at my home, the birthday balloon sat in the kitchen, tied to the wrist of a small teddy bear. It soon escaped and, for a week, bounced around the kitchen ceiling, greeting me from a different angle each morning. Making me smile. 

Somehow it wandered into the living room in time to subtly greet my guests on the first day of September.

When I came downstairs on Sept. 2, I couldn’t see the balloon. It couldn’t have just disintegrated, could it? No. Later, I was sitting where one sits in the upstairs bathroom. Something peeked from the stall shower. Guess what? 


After that, it wandered into the study. Then mysteriously, it was gone again; this time into my bedroom, eventually settling in the bedroom window.

My cat Herbie sometimes noticed our visitor. Once, the balloon bounced around in front of him trailing a small piece of white ribbon. He swiped at it a couple of times but gave up when the balloon floated up toward the ceiling. [Herbie is an old cat.] 



For a while, the balloon hovered near the floor and I thought it was on its last non-legs. But it has been a month! It is still sort of viable. It cannot last much longer but it has been a good friend. And a great present.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Eclipse Notes

  I was sick --ironically because I had winnowed a grove of sunflowers on Sunday, August 20. Sunflower detritus irritated my pores and that night I was unable to sleep more than a couple hours of slightly tormented exhaustion.

I had special glasses to watch the eclipse. They are still safely in a drawer.
The time for the phenomenon came but I was spent.

Stumbling through some necessary chores, I walked out to my front porch. Looking down while the rest of the country was looking up, I saw the most remarkable shadows. I grabbed my smart phone and took some pictures.

The shadows were on the concrete area supporting my planter.

They were on my front sidewalk.

They were on my neighbor’s driveway.


And they were wondrous. When I came back inside, the house had darkened. I had to turn on the kitchen light. Everything was still. The cat who always comes down when I am in the kitchen, stayed upstairs, sleeping.

So I missed the eclipse.

And yet I didn’t.


Shazaam.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Grand Consolation

After I signed all the papers required to buy a home, I discovered that there was a raspberry patch in my new backyard. I’ve always told people that had I known, I would have paid more for the house. 

Every year the patch, now the size of a pickup truck bed and four feet high, produces blooms then berries, which every year I eat before I can harvest enough to make something wonderful with them. 

Not this year. 

Ah, the bushes flourish. And bloom. And produce hundreds of green berries. I monitor their progress, awaiting scarlet fruition. That never comes. What blushes in the morning, disappears by the afternoon. 

One day, entering my yard from the alley garage, I discovered why. As I stepped onto the path, a dozen birds flew out of the raspberries. 

It’s my own fault. I hang birdfeeders and fill bird baths. You would think that would be enough. But when I walk out my back door, as many as six squirrels scurry away. They take the bird seed. The birds take the berries. 

I now buy raspberries at the grocery store and take consolation in the giant blooms of my hibiscus (which neither birds nor squirrels consume). 



Although I am a little worried about the small bunny I saw the other day.