Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Way to Spend a Day

After years of sedentary life, almost complete inactivity, I must remind myself—or my body must remind me—to take it slow. Anyway, I’m not in a race any longer. I do not have to be busy every moment of every day. It’s okay to spend some time in pure, unadulterated contemplation of a sunset or the habits of feline, or how to make an ottoman. I’ve happily indulged in all.

Yesterday, I spent 1.5 early morning hours harvesting in the Feed Fannin garden. We brought in over 100lbs of peppers, of which I have a few. I picked green beans though, and there was at least 100lbs of those as well. Afterward, I came home, ate a light breakfast and proceeded to work in my yard. By then it was already 10:30 and far too hot in Georgia to work outside, especially in direct sun, especially if you are out of shape, as it’s already been determined I am. The remainder of the day was at my desk fixing computer problems.

This morning I rose early to proof some documents and get in my yard before the heat. I managed to get all the wood stacked in one place and some of the leaves and hickory nut shells raked. There are a lot of leaves and hickory nut shells. Moving it all closer to the compost pile. Once that is complete, I will chop that wood and ready it for cool evening fires.

Planned garden area
I’ve decided to grass-seed the yard and use the rear area of weeds for next year’s garden. It’s quite a large area and gets all-day sun. Next week, I’ll get a weed-eater and a rotor-tiller to go through there. I have plenty of brown material to mix in the soil, which I’ll need whether I decide on raised beds or straight land. 

I’ve also decided on the meditation area to the right or south of the garden. That will be cleared with the rest and a willow tree will be the rear of the area. Further plans will be easier when it’s all cleared; however, I’m fairly sure that the permanent fire-pit will be in that area.
Planned meditation area

Two hours of that this morning—raking, dragging and piling wood, and meditation area contemplation. The shoulders and back had a good solid ache, and I’m sure (I hope) I lost a few pounds in all the sweating. Next was a hot shower and a poetry chapbook compilation started. I’d completed one over the weekend. 

Tomorrow, I’ll do a bit more on all, including the contemplation. 

Anyone care to come help? There's a guest room!!


Monday, August 22, 2011

On to the Outside

Cleared a bit of land today. Now that unpacking is done and everything is pretty much in its place indoors, time to move outdoors and work on the "getting strong again" portion of this move. Keeping in mind that I am an out-of-shape city girl, so taking my time. Weeded the front flower garden first, then to the back yard(?).

This is the "before" pic.

This is the "after shot.

 Can YOU see the difference? You can see the base of that back tree. The one big plant still in front, I left purposefully.

I believe this is sage. If it is, I'll definitely want to keep it.

And, I found my wild blackberry (or they may be raspberry) bushes that I'd seen when I first took the place in early July. Past harvesting time now but still want to know where they are. What a wonderful way to spend a morning.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Consequences of Old Age Memory Loss

I can’t even remember how long it’s been. I’m not talking about rolls in the hay or being falling down drunk. The last time for either of those rang absolutely no bells when they were fresh. I’m talking about putting something in the backpack, namely lunch, or maybe breakfast. By the time I pulled it out, there was no recognizing what it may have originally been, so, there’s no telling how long it’s been.

I’ve been literally on the road for months. I’ve found it necessary many times to throw a snack or even a meal in the backpack for sustenance later in the day. It could’ve been in June or early July when I was couchsurfing; it could have been the end of July when I traveled from Kenosha to Chicago for a day, although, given the decomposition, it was probably much  longer than that.

Here’s the scenario: On Thursday last week I attended the Blue Ridge Poets and Writers workshop. Like many workshops, they were on hiatus for the summer, so an informal meeting was scheduled at a member’s home. Nice finger sandwiches, fresh fruit with cream cheese dip, carrot cake, and of course, sweet tea. We munch, sip, and talk awhile, then commence the workshop. I open my backpack for pen and paper and am overwhelmed with a flood of fish aroma. I do a quick perusal in the backpack and come up with nothing. I do a quick glance around the table but the faces don’t show any notice. Sadly, when there’s a room of women with fishy scents wafting through the air, there’s only one thought. Fortunately, there were no raised eyebrows or slanting glances trying to identify the culprit, so I supposed I’d closed up the backpack quickly enough, giving myself a mental reminder to check when I got home.

Ha, mental reminders are non-existent entities as one gets older. I love the saying, “Note to self,” but if I don’t actual, physically, write a note to self, the thought disappears into the atmosphere until it is revived by some unknown force, if ever. Today, three days later, I open the backpack for who knows what reason now, and am hit to almost nausea with that revived force—odor.

I begin to pull things out, notebooks, books, papers, pens, maps, etc., etc., until there in the very bottom is a baggie with what in it? I can’t even look. I pull it out, and are you ready, are you sitting down, this thing, this object that I’ve been  carrying around on my back, again, for who knows how long, is crawling with maggots. You can scream and cringe now, because that’s what I did.

Of course, everything that had touched it either went in the garbage or got washed down with bleach. The bag was taken outside and hosed out. The thing, whatever it was, is tossed in the woods waayy across the road. As I sit here writing this, besides creepy crawling occasionally, I’m looking at all the stuff from the backpack—the clean stuff—sitting on the table and I’m still trying to remember what I went into the backpack for in the first place. Yes, there are consequences to old age memory loss.  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Buffalo Within

Life moves in cycles, and I always kind of accepted the Seven Year Cycle philosophy, because whenever I took the time to reflect, it seemed as if major changes happened on, or at least very near, the seven year mark. I started writing this with the thought that lately it hadn’t exactly happened that way, however, again after mathematical reflection, I was wrong.

 In 1996 my son went to prison, which I must say is a drastic life change, more so for the prisoner, but anyone who has had a loved one in prison knows you do the time with them. Also in 1996, I became involved with a man for the first time in a long time. Seven years later, 2003, my love interest was living in Florida and I started college—the first one in my family. My son was out of prison four years by then. In 2010—seven years—I put all my life’s accumulations into storage, moved into my daughters basement and tried to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I thought about teaching overseas and even got TEFL Certified, and I thought about just expatriating completely since America was not headed in the wrong direction but no direction at all. I reined myself in, refocused on my original dream from as far back as I can remember—retire to the mountains and write—and I went in search of the dream. That particular seven year life cycle has taken a full year to complete.

Another change I had made in 1996 was spiritual. I began to meditate and explore Native American spiritual traditions. I don’t believe I chose that particular path, I believe, for various reasons, that I was led to that path. The traditions, beliefs and practices came easily and felt natural. I remember that year, I was so calm and at such peace with myself and my space, that even the mosquito’s left me alone. Not one single bite, whether sand flies at the lake, or huge forest mosquito’s when hiking, not a bite.

At that time, I did a Medicine Card reading for myself to find my animal totems. After my son’s sentencing I had wandered around some campgrounds for several days and one morning woke to my hand around a fallen branch. This branch was in a complete circle, one end touching the other. It was the only tangible item I brought out of the woods that day. I used it to construct my personal Mandela with deerskin strung taut, beads and several found feathers. I performed the Medicine Card reading to incorporate my power animals into the Mandela.

One card is drawn from the deck for each direction: East, South, West, North, Above, Below, and Within, in that order. The significance of each is:

East: Greatest spiritual challenge. Guards your path to illumination
South: Protects the child within
West: Leads to personal truths and inner answers
North: Gives wise counsel and teaches thankfulness for blessings
Above: Guardian of the dream time
Below: Inner truth
Within: teaches how to find hearts joy and protector of your sacred space

My totems as drawn were:

East: Grouse reversed
South: Elk reversed
West: Owl
North: Butterfly
Above: Eagle
Below: Dog reversed
Within: Buffalo reversed

The reverse is when the medicine card appears upside-down, meaning the powers of that animal are being neglected or are contrary (in the current situation) to what they should be. So here are the meanings and powers of my totems:

In the East, my greatest spiritual challenge and guarding my path to illumination was the grouse reversed. The grouse represents the Sacred Spiral (pictured in skin painting above) that symbolizes personal vision and enlightenment. Reversed, the grouse means a dissipation of energy and a lack of control and discipline. This ‘still’ remains by greatest spiritual challenge.  

In the South, my protector of the child within was the elk reversed. To natives, the elk represents stamina, and of course, reversed, represents a lack thereof.

My Western totem who will lead to personal truths and inner answers was the owl. In many cultures the owl symbolizes wisdom. Some natives call owl feathers “deceiver feathers” because they are silent. Owl medicine is magic medicine and helps me to see the truth of people.

In the North, giving me wise counsel was the butterfly which symbolizes transformation. I have been transforming constantly.

My Above totem who is the guardian of dream time was the eagle, who symbolizes the power of the Great Spirit and the connection to the divine. The eagle medicine constantly reminds me about that connection.

Below, the totem that represented my inner truth, was the dog reversed. Even in Western culture the dog symbolizes loyalty—“man’s best friend.” Reversed means a lack of that quality, primarily, loyalty to self. Particularly, in the position of inner truth!

The protector of my sacred space of the Within who will show me how to find my hearts joys was the buffalo reversed. Buffalo symbolizes abundance for it gave every inch of itself to the people for life. Reversed means having forgotten how to seek help and accept the abundance. This is the one I write about today.

When I created my Mandela I was hoping for a buffalo skull for the center position, the Within position. I had painted an eagle above and hung owl feathers I found along a hiking path. I’d also had a few butterflies that had died in their migration that year. Butterflies that had visited my campsite and fluttered in my hair, lighted on my knees, and sat on the edge of my breakfast plate. A very strange and wonderful experience. A buffalo skull was not so easy to find. My ‘boyfriend’ at the time who would later move to Florida,  found a ceramic one for me. I tied it to the Mandela and hung it on my wall.

That Mandela followed me through several moves and life changing situations. One day in 2002, it just fell off the wall, breaking the buffalo skull in three pieces. For me, that meant that I had not only forgotten how to accept the abundance but I was completely blocked and shut off from any abundance. I felt that physically and emotionally for many years after.

It took me five years before I put the skull back together, but I just never had the energy to reattach it to the Mandela. The skull collected dust on a shelf and the Mandela hung naked on the wall. Until today. After unpacking and settling into my dream mountain home, I reattached the skull to the Mandela and it hangs whole on the wall to my right. 

It is not complete though. It will never be complete because it represents my journey which has not ended yet. Next, I will paint mountains on it, blue ridge mountains, which are also a symbol of great abundance in the native tradition.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Did I Mention I Love Bluegrass?

Did I mention I love Bluegrass? I think I did and am probably repeating myself, but at my age, I can do that.

On my second day in my new home, I left off unpacking and arranging to attend a Cajun Cookout at the Blue Ridge Pavilion. The Demijohn Varmints provided the entertainment, and while one young man looked as though he’d been in a  losing battle with rabid varmint, their music was exciting—stimulating enough to get these feet and legs moving, tapping, and dancing. My second time in two months on a dance floor. This move south has really energized me.

The cookout was sponsored by the Democratic Party of Fannin County, GA, but there was no political message other than we can all play together—and we did. Not sure if there were any Republicans there, but one man did don a Confederate flag shirt for the occasion. He was fairly quiet, kept to himself, and leered over his plate, as if those damn Dems would steal it. We let him enjoy it though.

Everyone enjoyed the food and there was a lot of it. Cajun okra and tomatoes, Cajun carrot salad, Jambalaya, Cajun cornbread with a spicy kick, Cajun peas and onion with peach and blueberry cobblers for dessert. Oh, there were burgers and hot dogs for those who didn’t particularly care for a hot Cajun boost to the metabolism, but most took the plunge and blotted their brow while doing so.

I took my second drive in the dark on the mountain roads back to my country home, and it felt terrific. I have to remember to turn on the porch light though, because when the sun sets, it’s blackness all around. Thank goodness I’m a smoker because I had to use the lighter to fit the key in the door lock. I haven’t taken to leaving my door unlocked yet. That city habit is gonna die hard.

Since neither paper showed up to cover the event, I wrote up a little blurb for both accompanied with the pictures. Who knows, maybe I can pick up a little gig writing on spec for events such as these—Democratic events—that no one seems to care about. If not, that’s okay also. The goal is to write as much as possible be it poetry, fiction, or articles, and at some point to be so fitted in the groove that I will return to that novel. Right now, I’m frolicking in the inspiration sparked by Cajun food and Bluegrass. Did I mention I love Bluegrass? Good, ‘coz tonight is Pickin’ in the Park down around the corner, and I’ll be there.