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Archive for January, 2010

By Eva Lewarne




As you sit in a stream of light
pouring into the kitchen
tired hands folded in your lap
the yellow of sunset reflected in roses
carefully arranged in a vase
behind your back.

Dreaming with unwavering gaze
as yellow sparkles dance in your eyes
turned to the window with yellow
and white checked curtains
fluttering gently in the breeze
Perfectly poised and still
the clock chimes ring
Un-noticed by you, in flesh only here
In reality at play with spirits beyond
the yellow stream of light dims
as you become lit from within.

A tired long sigh escapes your lips
you glance at the now still clock
time is dancing faster than
your feet will allow
Torn between now and then, you pick
up the tea cup and place it in the sink
A perfect sunset, my grandmother.









Waiting, digitally painted self-portrait, image © 2010 by Eva Lewarne. All rights reserved.










Born and raised in Poland and living presently in Canada, Eva Lewarne is a graduate of Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD) and University of Toronto. She has always painted and written, especially poetry.

She recently received a Medal from France in a Painting Festival in Avignon (Grand Prix), which was not her first. Some of Eva’s work was stolen from the Grand Palais in Paris, before that.

About writing Eva says: I started writing poetry as a teenager in Poland. If I was better at writing stories I probably would be doing that and less painting, but as it stands…? I write poetry when I need to take a break from painting and when I am moved, of course. I have been published in a Quebec poetry magazine and Purple Patch in England. Also a chapbook exists of my earlier poetry. Most recently I have taken to loving photography and am shooting “abstract photographs.” I hope to exhibit these.

You can see more of Eva’s works at her website, http://evalewarne.com.

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doorways (three)





Door etymology: Merger of Old English dor (pl. doru, “large door, gate”) and Old English duru (pl. dura, “door, gate, wicket”). The base form is frequently in dual or plural, leading to speculation that houses of the original Indo- Europeans had doors with two swinging halves. Form dore predominated by the 16th Century, but was supplanted by door. First record of dooryard is c.1764; doorstep is from 1810.





doorways (one)






Symbolism of Doors

Doors symbolize hope, opportunity, opening, passage from one state or world to another, entrance to new life, initiation, the sheltering aspect of the Great Mother. The open door is both opportunity and liberation.

Gates shares the symbolism of entrance, entry into a new life, communication between one world and another, between the living and the dead. Gates and portals are usually guarded by symbolic animals such as lions, dragons, bulls, dogs or fabulous beasts. At the gates of the House of Osiris, a goddess keeps each gate, and her name must be known to enter.

A door is an important element of a house, a symbol of passage from one place to another, one state to another, from light to darkness.

Entrances to holy places (temples, cathedrals) are not necessarily invitation to participate in the mysteries contained inside. The act of passing over the threshold means that the faithful must set aside their personalities and materialism, to confront the inner silence and meditation that it symbolizes.

As an access to a refuge or the warmth of a hearth, a door also symbolizes communication, contact with others and with the outside world. An open door attracts because it signifies welcome, invites discovery, but a door can also signify imprisonment, isolation. A closed door signifies rejection, exclusion, secrecy, but also protection against dangers and the unknown.





orange-red door





Doors in Literature

A doorway has a narrow view of the world, but a person can walk through the doorway. The doorway is their opportunity to actually make a difference in the world. People who are more willing to make a difference in the world have an easier time walking through the doorway then others.

Characters in stories that are too scared to walk through a door are also scared about what the world might do to them. They would rather keep that doorway as their shell from the rest of the world.





red door





Words for Doors



“Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.”

~Emily Dickinson




“A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.

~Ogden Nash




“I look like just like the girl next door…if you happen to live next door to an amusement park.”

~Dolly Parton




“The outward man is the swinging door; the inward man is the hinge.”

~Meister Eckhart




“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”

~Johnny Cash





doorways (four)




Your Door Assignment

Write about doors. Doors of perception, cellar doors, sliding doors, The Doors. A portal or entry. A doorway. Indoors and out of doors. A door to your mind, locked doors, open doors. What does a door mean to you?

Off your hinges? You make a better door than a window? Katy, bar the doors! ybonesy is on her way, and Lord knows, we don’t want her shadow to darken the door.

There are so many door idioms. We beat paths to doors, get a foot in the door, see someone to the door, close one door only to have another open, and think fondly of the girl next door.

Pick up your fast-writing pen and your notebook and write without stopping. Cross that threshold, but don’t cross out. For 15 minutes. Now.

(Pssst. If you want to photograph doors, please do so and share your thumbnails in the comments section below.)








white doors doorways (two)

doorways (six) doorways (five)

All photos were taken by ybonesy in January 2010, in or around
Hue, Vietnam, at three sites: the Citadel, the Palace of Emperor
Khai Dinh, or Emperor Minh Mang’s burial palace.






Sources

About Doors


About Vietnam (photos)

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lagoon on west lake of hanoi

Lagoon on West Lake of Hanoi, view from the lakeside pier at our hotel (Hanoi in the distance), January 2010, photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

my dear Viet Nam
what lies beneath the water?
I see myself in you

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
______________________________________________________________________________________________


Postscript: It is three nights and three days since I’ve landed back in New Mexico after almost two weeks in Vietnam. When our plane hit the tarmac at the Albuquerque International Airport and the flight attendant came on the speaker to say that it was OK to turn on our electronic devices, I sent Jim the following text:
 

Landed



He wrote back:


Cowabunga



Cowabunga, indeed.




Landing in san francisco jan 9 2010






Coming back to my life in New Mexico is a re-entry of sorts. At first the transition is gentle. Jim has a dinner of pork loin, baked potatoes, and peas and corn waiting the first evening, and I sleep from 8 pm until 11:30 the next day. Day Two is another reprieve—soft hugs from daughters and Jim’s homemade chicken pot pie—before I’m fully reabsorbed into the fabric of daily life.

After the second night I am a full-time mom once again. I take my oldest shopping for a dress to wear to Winter Dance then plan a menu involving potato-leek soup. I want to sleep during the day but I don’t indulge my longings. If I take a nap, I risk not being able to wake up without feeling like I’ve just emerged from a 100-year slumber.

Something I’ve learned from my trips abroad: unpack within 24 hours of landing and put away my suitcase; else, it will sit on the floor for weeks, a trip hazard in the night when I wake up at 3 am and decide to get up. To avoid hitting an underwear shortage mid-week, I wash and dry, if not fold, my laundry. Connect with friends and family. Pick up where I left off on commitments. Each one of these actions helps me be fully present now that I’m back.



∞ ∞ ∞





There is something about traveling abroad that suits me immensely. I love the solitude of sitting on a plane that’s bound for somewhere far away and feeling like I’m self-contained. It’s not unlike the feeling of freedom that comes from getting into a car and leaving town for a long road trip. How exotic to arrive at nightfall to a town where you’ve never been, to eagerly await morning so you can see what lies beyond.

(Interestingly, the night that I arrived in Hue, Vietnam, right after I slid the key into my hotel room door, I was drawn to the bathroom window where four floors below a tennis match was taking place. And the sights to be had the next day! Ah…saved for another post.)



tennis court under my hotel room in hue






Even so, I would not trade where I am this moment for anything else. There is nothing more comforting than sitting in my small writing room, my daughters tucked into bed, Jim making a late snack of the beans and ham hock that I cooked tonight. 

From the moment I leave my family until the moment I return, I think about them. I notice other children, kids in transit. I smile at fussy babies on the plane. On this trip I even offered to the young parents behind me on the flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong that if they needed someone to hold their infant son, I’d be glad to help. They never did take me up on my offer.

Tonight, when I can place everyone I love in relation to myself, I’m content. I am home.



good morning san francisco






-Related to post Reflections Of A Stay-Away-From-Home Mother

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I discovered my passion very early. I just love doing it. My mother claims that I was writing when I was crawling — with a twig in the sand, or on the margins of books. But I think just growing up in the South and having a somewhat difficult time, you know, really helped me to look to creativity as a way to cope, really, with life.

Art requires us to really see, to look at things with understanding. And I think because things were difficult —  for instance, you had one pair of shoes that had to last the entire year. So if you sort of wore them out, what were you going to do? Well, you had to really think hard about how people managed to clothe you, and how they managed to feed you.

The advice I would give to anyone, but especially to the young — find some quiet space around yourself and maintain it. And don’t fill your outer space or your interior space with other people’s anything. Keep a space for you. Because it’s the only way you can grow into being who you were meant to be.

–Alice Walker speaking this morning on We Have a Dream: Inspirational and Motivational Black Americans on 5 KSTP




-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

-related to post on practice, mentors, and Alice Walker on labyrinths: Labyrinth

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Night Fog (0) Emptiness – 19/365, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 

One seagull feather
hairy sculptures of seagrass
piled up on the dunes;
lady bugs and beetles land,
shelter from the cold, coarse sand

found in the sand
someone lost a loved one–
this wedding band,
years of what could and could not
happen in a span of life

life’s changing seasons
happy, sad, up, down, laugh, cry-
stay or go away;
underneath the roiling waves
calm moonlight draws me back in

breathing in bath salts,
I think of the tears I tasted
when you said goodbye
bitter wind off oceans spray
turns my heart cold like that day

bare truth, bald faced lie,
why does nothing satisfy?
how fickle my heart
swinging between trees
like a hammock

creaking bending trees
crying out pains agony-
red eyes of grief’s lava tears
into the wind I let it go
a feather across the sand

between power lines
the crows can’t decide whether
to leave or stay
feet hold fast to whir of wire
head says run to shifting ground

from the earth
a crack
of fresh earthworms
slither through the pouring rain
clinging to last bits of life

the soccer field–
a marshland for herons
after the rain
reminds me of Nebraska
slow drum of Janis Ian

naked oak and birch
still in the November wind
haiku for the sky
only my breath caught
in the branches

birdsong–
my dog echoes the warbler
with her sore throat;
the trill can be heard for miles,
is the bark worse than the bite?

from the birch tree
I peel away the bark
and write this haiku
I find the sap sweet, congealed
While my tears remain bitter

The backyard rubble
Holds wisps of waylaid dreams It’s
Slim pickings for birds;
they are dreamcatchers
tying each nightmare to bare branches.

crows light on the wing
Raven holds November court
while hummers fly South
dipping in the sunlight
they pull away the clouds

Sun sextile Saturn
Thanksgiving relationships
may take a quick turn
family feuds holding still –
peace returns, if just one day

on the corner, the Raven
returning for a quick meal
dissolves into night
The autumn also takes wing,
A snowflake heralds winter.

trees crawl toward the sky
ochre moonlight silhouettes
dreaming of Solstice
The nights are long and heavy
but soon the light will lift us.

trenches around fire
reflected deep in your eyes
labyrinthine pools…
I think of the night we held
each other from our own shadows

Your softest caress,
each tremble and kiss of tress,
a single raindrop,
creating dry dust devils
littered with blurred distinctions.

on the windshield
cracks become softer
in the fog —
-1 freezes in place,
fingers draw cold words–your name.

linked crescents–
I fitted your faded last name
around my lip print –
morning sun, and it’s still there,
remnants of what used to be.

the future so uncertain
as I drive through
the Monday car wash –
when I pay, their parrot talks,
Cackles “I love you” out loud.

 
 

________________

 
 

for every life
there is a reason to live
and there is an end
And in this divine resort,
God grant us late, quick checkout.

soulful salvation
a rest of quiet peace; not
exasperation.
Still, I wonder what happens
to our dreams after we die?

Perhaps they live on,
in the hearts and minds we touch,
then eternity.
Or disappear like the wind,
ideas whose time never came.

All is illusion.
so say the masters of Zen,
and whispers the wind.
Monkey Mind clings to what’s “real”
while life passes by in zeal.

Our earthly moment,
gestation for mind and soul,
to transcend mere time.

 
 

________________

 
 

devouring time
underneath the work ethic
wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Toss a coin into a pond,
the ripples subside quickly.

That which glimmers bright
quietly fades from our sight,
we race the sunset.
Full throttle, going nowhere –
What remains? An empty shell.


________________


It has come to this:
An ad on a vomit bag.
Is nothing sacred?
Sacred cow branding?
Or designer-stigmatas?

Open your hands and hearts,
Brand all with love and kindness,
lest they wander lost.
Besides, emetophobes won’t…
I repeat, won’t read puke bags.

Suggestive powers,
A greasy pork chop and fried octopus,
from dirty ashtray.
These are mental images,
to cure one of mal de mer.

Yet, on second thought
one might not regain sea legs
while eating frog’s legs.
And speaking of splayed legs,
we’re covering quite a spread.

jumping through mind hoops
e.e. cummings comes to mind;
humor of Mark Twain
Whole lotta jumpin’ go’n on
In Calaveras County.

Sliding through worm holes
Ol’ H. G. Wells comes to mind;
Brakes would be handy.
Invisible man flees scene,
hoping someone will see him.

Twain is consarned wry,
“Such happy rascality”,
is his catchphrase child.
Left to fend laughs for itself,
in his novel “Roughing It”.

Or Aldous Huxley,
Seer of socialist folly,
Eyeless In Gaza.
A voice for Albert Hoffman
or at least his Problem Child.

Aldous knew O’Keeffe
typed books at Kiowa Ranch
under Lawrence Tree
Look up! Reach toward the tree top
but don’t forget the journey.

A naughty dream date,
Aimee Semple McPherson,
and Sinclair Lewis.
She was Sharon Falconer,
penned in “Elmer Gantry”.

Another Sinclair
was also interested,
He was an Upton.
Then there was Pete Seeger whose
ballad belied her scandal.

‘Twas Seeger’s refrain,
that “the dents in the mattress
fit Aimee’s caboose.”
and bared the dented psyche,
of our “modern” pop culture.

they’re turning in graves
What’s with Dylan sings Christmas?
he does what he wants.
And much like a rolling stone,
‘becomes a complete unknown.

disjointed puzzle
Springsteen’s Santa comes to town
all dressed in bright red
Hark! The Big Man’s ho-ho-ho’s
Crack The Boss up near the close.

Lady Greensleeves sings
‘Twas the night before Christmas –
hot broadside ballad


________________


New Year’s Eve Blue Moon
cookin’ up the black-eyed peas
always takes me back
Lawd, thas’ whole lottah peppah,
this etouffee gonna hurt.

need that New Year’s luck –
in the North, it’s pork loin
sauerkraut in tow.
Comfort food takes time and love,
so keep stirring and we’ll drink.

Oh tiny bubbles,
like the kiss of a hot fist,
you knock me out cold.
Milk goes with chocolate cake,
champagne, with everything.

Milk lovers unite!
milk fluffs the mashed potatoes
wraps the egg in nog.
How about slow-cooked grits?
A hominy homily.

All GRITS learn to love
hushpuppies fried in hot grease
not a dog in sight
“What are grits?” asks a Yankee.
Honey, it’s like hot ice cream.

Southern scratch biscuits,
then, there’s the red-eye gravy
smothering the plate
‘Jes add a chonk of cornbread,
and a ‘lil “Who Shot Sally”.

Lawd I am hongry,
‘Looks like the rooster dies tonight,
Chicken on Sunday.
Not if Foghorn Leghorn crows,
Or Looney Tunes Barnyard Dawg!

Oh Creme Brulee,
Immortalized in menus,
struck down by the spoon.
How fallen are the mighty,
The weapons of chefs perish.


________________


haiku, senryu, tanka, & renga


Part II of community poetry — the nature of renga. Year two of our Daily Haiku explored the intimate connection between haiku, senryu, tanka, and renga. In gratitude to all who participated, we wanted to post the year in renga. Renga is a form of collaborative poetry, written in community.

At the beginning of the year, the poetry leaned toward haiku, senryu, and tanka; renga was slow to develop. By year’s end, the renga spanned weeks, and the trend moved to longer strands of poetry. For that reason, we are dividing a year of renga into two posts, in the order they were written.

You can find helpful links, definitions, and read more about the relationship between the poetry forms in haiku 2 (one-a-day). Deep bows to Natalie and Clark. And to the poets who visit red Ravine, and help keep poetry alive.

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Black Bear Lily On The BearCam, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2010, DenCam provided by the NABC/WRI, photo snapshot 2010 by QuoinMonkey.


If you’ve never seen a wild black bear gently lick her paws, roll over in her den, or blow puffs of winter breath in sub-zero temperatures, Lily will change your life. I used to think hibernating bears went into their dens and peacefully slept all Winter. Nothing could be further from the truth.

On Friday January 8th, documentary veteran Doug Hajicek installed an Infra Red camera system into a black bear’s den near Ely, Minnesota. And not just any black bear. Her name is Lily. Three-year-old Lily is part of the long-term study of black bear ecology and behavior being conducted by Lynn Rogers at Ely’s Wildlife Research Institute, less than 30 miles from the Canadian border. Lily is the daughter of 9-year-old June, and it is believed that Lily is pregnant. There is an above average chance she will give birth in mid January.

The Full Moon in January, which I’ve often celebrated as the Wolf Moon, is sometimes known as the Bear Moon. Last week under the New Bear Moon, I listened to Cathy Wurzer interview Doug Hajicek on MPR. Then Liz and I started following Lily on Facebook. We also watched her on the Today Show. And have been reading bear facts at the North American Bear Center and checking in to Lily’s Bear Cam ever since.

No one has ever seen a wild bear give birth to cubs. Some mornings, I can’t take my eyes off the screen. If the miracle happens, it will be the first time in history it has ever been filmed. Bearing witness. It is a powerful thing.


Lily's Eye On The BearCam, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




To view the magic for yourself, check out these links:






Black Bear Snout, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine under the New Bear Moon, Sunday, January 17th,




Other Local Color posts from Minnesota & New Mexico:

Read Full Post »













Should I be worried?






-Related to posts Because She’s A Nut and Ten Things About Sony The Pug.

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halong bay (one)

halong bay (one), view from a grotto, August 2009, photos
in collection © 2009-2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




Once upon a time, soon after the Việt people established their country, invaders came. The Jade Emperor sent Mother Dragon and her Child Dragons down to earth to help the Việt people fight against their enemy. Right at the time invaders’ boats were rushing to the shore, the dragons landed down on earth. The dragons immediately sent out from their mouths a lot of pearls, which then turned into thousands of stone islands emerging in the sea like great walls challenging the invaders’ boats. The fast boats couldn’t manage to stop and crashed into the islands and into each other and broke into pieces.

After the victory, Mother Dragon and Child Dragons believed this country to be so beautiful that they didn’t return Heaven but stayed on earth at the place where the battle had occurred. The location Mother Dragon landed is now called Hạ Long Bay and where Child Dragons descended is now Bái Tử Long. The dragons’ tails waving the water created Long Vĩ (present Trà Cổ peninsula) and formed a fine sand beach over ten kilometers long.

~Legend of Ha Long Bay, adapted from Origin Vietnam website



halong bay (three)


girls in boat (halong bay)


village (halong bay)


halong bay (four)


halong  bay (two)


village by the rocks (halong bay)


boat house (halong bay)





Every time I come to Vietnam, I try to see a part of the country that I don’t know. Last trip, August 2009, I went north to World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay, in the Gulf of Tonkin. The photos speak for themselves.

Tomorrow, Friday, I’ll fly to the Central Highlands, to the ancient citadel of Hue. (I have been to Central Vietnam before, to the city of Da Nang and the ancient village of Hoi An.)

Sometimes I wonder, How did I get so lucky as to come to know this beautiful country and its compassionate people?

I’m curious. Do you believe in luck? Do you ever marvel at your good fortune? Do you curse bad luck? Let me know if you get a chance.

Read Full Post »

Eye Of The Dragon, Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, all photos © 2009-2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






inky, sweatless pores,
all eyes drawn to the Dragon
keeper of the Grail;
night falls to The Hinterlands —
she is searching for herself.










-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

-related to posts: WRITING TOPIC – TATTOOS, Ink Illuminations, dragon haiku trilogy, Dragon Fight — June Mandalas

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early laughter-green
grows between a warm change
time never walks past love
it is written in the skies
a heart shaped moon in your eyes

I think of your eyes:
like the winter sea, and shape
my heart by the moon…
sirens wake to crashing waves,
eerie melody haunts me.

heartstrings cut shorter
the distance of your voice
alluring in charm, bliss
will I know, upon some far,
galactic shore, surfing still

nights I write away
damp smudges sealed in bottles:
puckered fish in nets;
the loss is too much to bear,
floating behind hollow eyes.

weaving from afar
is how we travel through dreams–
koi in silver lakes


________________


the darkening sky
carries the promise of rain
with each shade of gray,
the sun shines from the center
of a wounded cottonwood

wrapped around hands,
one finds rings of promise
broken tree bark;
skin wrinkled and creased with age
releases bountiful seeds

buried deep,
seeds take root and stretch,
circling a pond
February snowstorm drips
concentric rings, wheel of life

lonely morning fish
ripples the quiet pond,
breaking sunlight


________________


chasing jackrabbit
tan mongrel trots through sagebrush
following its scent
the seeking can offer more
peace of mind than the finding

cave bear hibernates
two cubs spring from her loins
February birth
cycle of life continues
once again, all life reborn

fresh perspective
between gnarls of trees, sieves of leaves
sunrise meets the lake


________________


heavy snow, strong winds
just last week the smell of spring
winter packs a punch;
thawed dreams of black-eyed susans,
restless thoughts of wanting more.

dreams of longing
tucked under lashes and lips–
words run towards margins,
black and white letters jump off,
mind stops — scrambles to make sense.

following signs (blindly),
racing around cul-de-sacs
the mind, unnerved
reaches for a sense of peace,
silent shelter from the storm.

faint rainbow
storm leaves the sun in its wake
upon the relieved brow;
blue sky streaked with rainwater
prism changes everything.


________________


vernal equinox
morning freshness through the soul
sunburst in our eyes;
New Moon, stars out of hiding
blink across the Milky Way.

tangible yet far,
fantasies pinned on a star
like spilt milk…
crying for what has been lost,
yearning for that yet to come.


________________


dark and overcast
day before the holiday
a lawnmower growls;
clouds perch on the horizon
wanting nothing more than rain

storm clouds tease us
passing through the jeweled trees
on this side of life –
nothing taken for granted
will stay with us very long

cool sun at midday
life is full of suffering –
followed by moonlight
but then comes the promised dawn
when life is full of wonder


________________


black cat sleeps on couch
shadows fall near the full moon
eyes droop with the weight–
these heavy bags
that the heart carries

sun hides behind gray
burdens are what we make them
dark hinges on light

a forty watt sun
brings only hues of comfort -
false hope arises;
100 ways of seeing
the unpaved roads less traveled

on this journey
I collect many sticks and stones–
all for a bonfire
trailing in the wake of stars
yet untouched by human hands

on a stargazer lily–
a mantis praying
to the sun…
is it that I am not worthy
enough to touch the heavens?

winter sun–
snow angels catching
the snowman’s tears;
drops glisten, Icarus wings
doused by the cries of children


________________


opaque midday moon
creates halo above earth
yet darkness falls fast –
what’s lurking in the shadows?
Fear numbs, leaves no time to dwell.

fierce wind starts and stops
returns cold and leaves no doubt:
summer is over;
biting frost wilts the Spirit,
reflection ignites new spark.

by the fireplace,
the candle and I
dance to pages in my notebook —
letters expose obscure words,
teach me to read between lines





_______________________


haiku, senryu, tanka, & renga


Year two of our Daily Haiku explored the intimate connection between haiku, senryu, tanka, and renga. In gratitude to all who participated, we wanted to post the year in renga. Renga is a form of collaborative poetry, written in community.

At the beginning of the year, the poetry leaned toward haiku, senryu, and tanka; renga was slow to develop. By year’s end, the renga spanned weeks, and the trend moved to longer strands of poetry. For that reason, we are dividing a year of renga into two posts, in the order they were written. Part 2 will follow this week.

You can find helpful links, definitions, and read more about the relationship between the poetry forms in haiku 2 (one-a-day). Deep bows to Natalie and Clark. And to the poets who visit red Ravine, and help keep poetry alive.

Read Full Post »

pig on a scooter

pig on a scooter, pen and marker on graph paper, doodle and
photos © 2009-2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.





This is my seventh visit to Vietnam. Seven trips, back and forth across the great expanse. If I added up all the hours spent on just one leg of the trip—San Francisco to Hong Kong and back—it would be 182 hours in the sky. Over one week on just these seven trips.

That’s a lot of time to spend in a vehicle that I liken to an empty toilet paper tube with wings. A lot of time spent sitting, eating, and sleeping in the company of strangers. As someone who doesn’t necessarily enjoy being in such close proximity to people I don’t know who sniffle, snore, and sweat, it is noteworthy, then, that I can muster the mental fortitude to make the slog again and again. The reason I do it, the reason anyone does it, of course, is for what waits on the other side.

My first trip to Vietnam, I wandered the streets of Saigon, lost but unafraid, except perhaps any time I stepped off a curb and into the onslaught of motorbikes, which parted and flowed around me as if I were a boulder in a rushing river. That and my second trip were spent solely in Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, which is a sensual feast and assault all at once.

The roads are clogged with motor scooters, and not just one person per scooter but entire families and small businesses transported on two small tires. There are rickshaws, bicycles, small cars, SUVs, tourist vans with sleeping Japanese or Koreans, and the ubiquitous container trucks, what we call semis, reminding us that this place is being rebuilt before our very eyes.

But traffic and congestion you can see in any big city in the world, and Saigon holds not a candle to many of the largest. Still, where else can you witness the harmony of millions of people and their wheels in synchronous motion, as if this is something they’ve practiced all their lives—driving motorbikes loaded down with baskets, glass panes, multigenerational families, televisions—and are now performing in the symphony of daily life.

There is a Zen quality to the way traffic flows in Vietnam. School girls dressed in white Áo Dàis, the traditional attire for women, stroll in pairs down a busy thoroughfare, impervious to the crazy tourist vans and containers that roar by, spewing their black exhaust. I peer at the chatting girls with both fear and admiration. How do they manage to stay so calm when I am reciting Hail Mary’s and praying that I will return home in one piece?

As I have traveled from Saigon to the Mekong Delta, through the center part of the country in Da Nang and Hoi An, then north to Hanoi and Halong Bay, I’ve seen more than I can ever recall. A naked man walking along the cement divider on a narrow and packed two-lane highway. Cows grazing in the grassy medium. Women bent harvesting rice. Raised graves that look like small cottages. Buddhist statues as tall as skyscrapers.

On my morning commute to work, colleagues on the shuttle bus doze off or talk to one another. Not me. I keep my eyes glued to the passing scenery. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen a bus pass so close that I could touch it or the tangle of rivers we seem to always cross, or the row of shops that sell marble statues in the likeness of any spiritual figure—Buddhas, goddesses, Jesus and Mary—I am still drawn in as if seeing it all for the first time.

On my last trip I went in a minivan from Hanoi to Halong Bay. I’m now accustomed to seeing animals transported on the backs of scooters. Chickens in cages or ducks with their bills and legs tied with twine for the trip. But I had never seen an adult pig, five or six hundred pounds of pink jello-y flesh, roped onto a motorbike. As the young man carrying the pig passed our van and I stared with mouth open, he seemed nonchalant, so at ease bumping along the dirt road with his jiggling sow in tow.

There is no way, really, to describe how exotic, how absolutely delectable Vietnam is to my senses. Roads are torn up, rice paddy fields relocated, new business parks and high rises rise overnight. It is a country in transition, moving to claim its place among economic powerhouses. I am in the midst of it, working with government, industry, and education to prepare for what is to come.

On one of my early trips, I walked with two Vietnamese colleagues down an alley near the coffee house where we’d just been. I looked up at the tangle of communications and electrical cables, signs of growth unplanned. Before us motorbikes surged six rows thick, mixed with taxis, cars, and bicycles. I turned to my friend and said, “I hope Vietnam never changes. I hope I can always see this,” and I motioned with my hand at the chaos before us. She looked me in the eye and said, “Ah, Roma, I hope very much that my country does change. I hope we someday have roads to fit the cars, safe roads and infrastructure for all the people who live here.”

It was then that I realized how unfair of me it was to want Vietnam to remain the same, as if it were a curiosity put here for my own pleasure. The people of any country should be able to determine their own destiny. And especially Vietnam, ravaged by war and poverty, a legacy of imperialism.

I’ve come around to embracing the change that is inevitable. These days I simply observe everything I can, take it in as if I were a recorder. Ten years from now, I vow to come back and see how different it is.



stop light (ho chi minh city) waiting to cross (ho chi minh city)
sharing the road (ho chi minh city) in transition (ho chi minh city)
going for a ride (ho chi minh city)

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These are my intentions for 2010. They seem both like a lot and not enough. Some of it’s plain common sense. Some is just living better. At any rate, I’m saying it here. This is what I have.

Let the fun begin!



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first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010


body~mind

  • Heal my body. I’m still plagued by bouts of lower back pain, am starting to feel stiff in the knees. Want to be limber and energetic. Water, exercise, stretching. Would love to take yoga. More walks.
  • Slow down. Be present to what I do. Don’t hurry. Take at least one retreat. Maybe two if Jim wants to do one. But one alone for sure.
  • Early rise. Get my sunrise on.








family

  • Take care of them. It’s OK to be a wife and mom. Love them to pieces.
  • Take my girls abroad. Stop saying it, do it.
  • Be present for their development. These are heavy times. Make them light.
  • Get up and go. Movies, hikes, day trips. Be active together.




first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010
first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010


art~writing

  • Get serious about Angels & Demons. Finish Axis of Evil. Plan other works. It’s a long-term series. Go as far as I can.
  • Have fun with the other stuff. Pendants, bracelets, what else? Experiment.
  • Doodle a day. Easy stuff. Keep doing complex doodles but let doodle-a-day be a scribble, if that’s all I can get to.
  • Writing Group. Keep it up. Three times a week. Other writing? Nurture the books percolating. Leap on opportunities that come.








business

  • I have a number in my head. It’s not huge. It’s a start. (Or, rather, last fall was the start. This is the first lap.)
  • Figure out what I want to do and where I want to be. New shows? Get into a gallery? New websites? Don’t rush it. Slow and steady wins the race. And just the right amount of pressure keeps it doable.
  • Stay organized. Get taxes done early. Keep my space to where I can work every day. Lists. I loves them!




first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010
first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010 first doodle of 2010


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This post is the Intention portion of the exercise laid out in WRITING TOPIC — REFLECTION & INTENTION. Unlike resolutions, intentions are put out to the universe. (At least for me they are.) I log ‘em in my noggin’. They have a way of coming to fruition. I can’t say exactly why it is that they work for me while resolutions don’t, but they do. I trust the process.

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Looking back I see myself lying flat on my back, unable to move. It was early February, 2009. I was literally lying on the floor of Burlington Coat Factory, my sciatica pinched. That’s how last year began for me. Immobilized.

My best friend from graduate school, Ana Lucia, had come with her family all the way from Brazil. It had been over a decade since I’d seen her and her husband, and I’d only seen her three children in photos. They were on their way to Santa Fe for a week’s ski vacation, stopping off to visit us en route. My sciatica had been giving me trouble for weeks, and then the morning before Ana Lucia’s arrival, I woke up and could hardly get out of bed. I managed to get a chiropractic treatment that morning, acupuncture the next, plus a handful of painkillers from my mom, who suffers from lower back problems.

When Ana Lucia and her family got here, the pain was masked enough to join them for lunch and then to Burlington Coat Factory to buy jackets for their ski trip. For a while, I thought I was going to be fine. Little did I know, it was Codeine that had me walking around the store searching for good deals on down coats. As the drug wore off, the pain became so unbearable I thought I was going to pass out. Panicked, I got the keys to Ana Lucia’s rental and told her that I had to get something from the car.

My plan was to get to the car, drive the less than three miles to my house, pop another painkiller, and come right back. But when I got to the foyer of the store, that space not inside nor outside, I was close to passing out. I plopped myself down in a spot of sun, moaning and sweating. The automatic double doors opened and closed, opened and closed. Shoppers passed through the space, glancing my way. Not a soul asked if I was OK. I’d sit, try to get up, fall back again.

Finally I mustered the strength to hobble to the car. I turned on the engine, put the gear into reverse, and started to back out. When I almost passed out again, I turned off the engine and reclined as far back as the seat would go. I was stuck. I couldn’t drive home and I couldn’t walk back into the store to let Ana Lucia know what had happened.

And that was how my year started. Stuck.

The pinched nerve, I am convinced, had everything to do with a commitment I had made months before. I had been invited to submit five paintings to a show in Manhattan. Thrilled, I signed up to do so. But as the show’s Spring 2009 deadline approached, I let fear get the better of me. I had it in my mind that the pieces were due in New York City in April, but I didn’t go back to verify any dates. By early February, when I finally checked on the due date, I saw that the paintings were due in the gallery by February 28. I had less than a month to go and hardly an inkling of what I was going to paint.

To make matters worse, I had committed to taking on an exchange student from Mexico for two of the four weeks that I might have used to complete the paintings. In hindsight I believe I was subconsciously sabotaging any chance to actually fulfill my creative commitment. (Our experience with the exchange student was so enriching in other ways that I don’t regret having done that. But this is how the mind can work; this is how we create the obstacles to our own creative fulfillment.)

Back in the parking lot of Burlington Coat Factory, I called Jim on my cell phone and told him my predicament. He was there within ten minutes, went inside the store and found Ana Lucia. Then he got me home. I was able to see my friend and her family again on their return leg of the trip. We had a wonderful dinner and have kept in touch since.

Looking back I see that good things come of bad. Aside from my two weeks laid up on the ground, literally, I moved forward in 2009. I completed four paintings and showed them during the Corrales Art Studio Tour in early May. Went to Vietnam in mid-May and again in August. I met Pham Luc, learned how to make jewelry from my doodles, did two art shows in the Fall, and set up a small Etsy shop this past November.

Looking back, I woke myself up. I committed even further to the life I have—giving to my children and husband, to my job. I connected with old friends and new ones, gained from the generosity of other artists, and spent time with family.

Looking back, I see I found clarity. It’s as if Saint Lucy, that courageous woman who gouged out her own eyes so she could dedicate her life to what she loved most, was by my side, carrying her eyes on a plate so that I could see. I began painting her image probably a decade ago and never finished. She’s a constant reminder that if I look inside myself, I can see where I need to go.



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This piece is based on a 15-minute Writing Practice I did on WRITING TOPIC — REFLECTION & INTENTION. Tomorrow I will post my Intentions for 2010.

-Related to post The Making of a Painting Painter

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White Winter Squirrel – 1/365, BlackBerry 365, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Intentions for 2010. My first is to focus on my photography. I have a print project in progress in the studio. I hope to have 12 framed pieces done by Art-A-Whirl in the Spring. Some of you are familiar with my Writers Hands project that I’ve been working on since 2007. I have quite a collection of photographs now, and am combining them with stories of actually meeting the writers. It’s exciting to think about a dozen framed pieces of writing and art on the walls by May.

I’ve discovered I do best when I focus on one project at a time. So I can finish what I’ve started. If I set too many goals, I fall flat on all of them. I’ve given myself permission to let my writing go for a while, to work on my photography. Another thing I’ve learned is that I need something fun that runs parallel to tough creative work projects. For 2010, it’s the BlackBerry 365 photo project.

When it came time to renew our phone contracts in 2009, Liz and I spent a few hours in the Verizon store, checking out all the different options for mobile devices. We could not resist the features and BOGO deal of the BlackBerry. It was October, right before my trip to Pennsylvania, then Down South with Mom. We were on the road, buzzing by the Blue Ridge Parkway, when Liz called and said, “Why don’t you Tweet photos along the way with your BlackBerry.” She gave me a quick ÜberTwitter lesson and an obsession was born — I love my BlackBerry.

I’ve taken over 1000 photos since then, posting them in various places around the Internet including Twitter, Flickr, and TweetPhoto. Many photographers have done a photo-a-day practice over the years. But I never have. I started with 0/365, the Blue Moon the last day of December. The second was the White Winter Squirrel. And though I take many BlackBerry photos over the course of a week, I’ll only post one daily favorite in the BlackBerry 365 Series.

I’ve also decided to post thumbnails of the photos in the comments on this post each day. The idea with cell phone photography is that it creates a different way of seeing. I find that taking photographs with the BlackBerry frees me up. I got to know my Canon PowerShot more intimately this year at a writing retreat and will continue to take RAW photos. But sometimes with the larger camera, I feel pressure to take a great photograph. With the phone camera, I feel free to experiment to my heart’s content.

I’d love it if readers wanted to join me in a phone photo-a-day practice. Just drop the link to your photos into the comments section of this post.

To be clear, here are my photo project intentions for 2010. I’ll try to check in on my progress over the course of the year:

  1. BlackBerry 365 — continue to take BlackBerry Shots each day of 2010. Post my daily fave in the BlackBerry 365 set.
  2. Complete 12 final prints, writing and bios, matted and framed, in my Writers Hands Series by May of 2010 where I will show them in Art-A-Whirl
  3. Start a monetary presence for my photographs in the form of an online store with sets of cards and prints available for purchase (which also involves revealing my identity)

A wise woman recently told me that I had practiced enough, that it was time to complete some of these projects and get them out into the world. She’s right. My practices are important to me, but it’s crucial that I follow through on the finished work. And focusing on photography doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned my writing. From the time I was a small child, photography and writing have been inexplicably linked for me. I’m excited to set these intentional goals. And I know you’ll help hold me to them!


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, January 4th, 2009

-Follow the BlackBerry 365 Project on my Flickr set

-related to post: Reflection — Through The Looking Glass

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Blue Moon Over Ice Skating Rink – 0/365, BlackBerry Shots, Full Blue Moon on New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2009, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2009-20010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.





Through The Looking Glass


season to season
hindsight is 20/20
reflecting the past;
future remains uncertain,
jumps hoops through the looking glass


–tanka from hindsight haiku — pink cadillac (on the road), October 25, 2009





Writing Practice — Looking Back – 15min


Looking back I see hot hazy days when I didn’t have a job. What seems like the best opportunity to work on writing, art, photography, becomes consumed with worry. Looking back I see that Chaco died. He didn’t just die. We made the hard decision to put him to sleep. An odd turn of phrase, put him to sleep. It’s the second cat where I’ve had to make that hard decision. The first was my cat Sasha; it was years ago. Looking back I feel gratitude. For Liz, Kiev, Mr. Stripeypants. For my writing group, for Roma and her partnership with me on red Ravine. I feel grateful I have my health. Age, I’m aging. But overall, I have survived another year. The gray hair is multiplying.

Looking back, there were visits with Amelia, visits with Marylin. Mothers are important to me. Time with mothers. Time with my mother. How much time do we have? One never knows if they will live into old age. I like the yearly trips I take to the South and this one was no exception. There wasn’t enough time but the time we were in Georgia and South Carolina was relaxed. The reconnections I have made there the last three years are invaluable. Links to what was, links to what might be.

Looking back, I feel like I don’t do enough, don’t accomplish enough of my yearly goals. I hate setting them anymore, but I must. I feel like I get so little done. Recently a friend called and mused that we might feel an urgency to get more done because of our age. We are not spring chickens, not in our twenties, not even in our thirties, and here we are trying to make some kind of alternative life work out. Looking back, my car Greta made it through the recession with only the need for a radiator and some new wiper blades. Sylvia the Saturn made it, too. No new car payments — yet.

Looking back, I am happy where I live. Indria is humble, tiny, small. But every day I wake up and look out over the oaks, ash, and cedar. I feel happy to come home and watch the moon rise behind the cottage. I wish it was larger, that we had two more bedrooms, one to write, one for art. Hers and hers. Should we build on? Or buy a new house? Is it ever in the cards to have enough room? Small is good, too. I’m used to small, crowded houses. That’s the way I grew up with 5 younger siblings. There is something comforting about small.

Looking back, I don’t want to trade my life for anyone else’s. My mistakes are my mistakes. I can live with them. I have to. I don’t often remember the bad that happens in a year, mostly the good. And the gratitude I feel for the richness in my life, no matter how much I might be lacking. Is that keeping me from going forward? Have I gotten lazy. Or am I simply tired. Looking back, I’m happy to have a job, though it takes a toll on me. If you had asked me even a year ago, I would have said, “No, I’m never going to be driving truck.” But here I am. Never say never.

There is an opening in there somewhere. Gratitude for the abundance of having a job. Money coming in. So many are without work. Yet my work is my art, my writing, my photography. It will be the dilemma of every artist — how to make a living while being a creative soul. Our world does not support it. We have to. We create our own worlds, surround ourselves with people who help hold the dream. People matter. But it is each of us who has to do the work. Am I doing the work?



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Post Script: I wanted to combine several of my yearly practices in this post on looking back. Above is a tanka I wrote on the trip to Georgia this year, the Reflection part of my Writing Practice on WRITING TOPIC — REFLECTION & INTENTION, and a photograph of the Blue Moon from my photo practice. Below is my yearly Gratitude list. I do one at the end of every year, a result of peering through the looking glass, looking back on the good things in life.


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A – Accept loss forever. Learned this from Kerouac, then from Natalie Goldberg.  Easy to say, hard to do. Makes the world a much better place to live.


B – Breaking free. From the ties that bind. I am the one who keeps me back. It was a constant battle over the year to let myself be. To do nothing when I needed it. To sit and stare into space. To break free from old worn out habits that are keeping me back.


C – Cats. These 3 bundles of joy brought much happiness to my life in 2009. Chaco has moved on but we don’t forget. We scattered his ashes this year around the fire at Winter Solstice. Sometimes I still hear him pattering through the house, keeping night watch on the back of the couch. Chaco was a Nightowl.


D – Dead of Winter. I love Winter. It makes me feel alive. January to January, the Midwest Winter is nothing to sneeze at. It was -21 this morning. It’s warmed up to -8. Sometimes the Dead of Winter is when I have the most ripeness going on inside.


E – The letter “E”. I’m thankful for the vowels. They hold up a lot of words. Like Elizabeth. I thank my lucky stars every day that she’s my partner, that she’s in my life.


F – Fathers. I have a new respect for the role that fathers play with their children. Young children. Adult children. I have learned from reconnecting with my step-father in the South that it is never too late to heal. Never too late to realize the love. I have learned from my brothers who are good fathers how important it is to be there for your kids. I have learned from ybonesy and Jim how good fathers make a difference.


G – Gratitude – humble gratitude for others, those who came before us, those who run parallel, the children of the future, all teach me perspective. Sometimes I feel great loss. I try hard to get back to Gratitude for what remains.


H – Humble Pie. I’ve eaten a lot of it. Humility helps me remember — Do not waste this precious life. Humility always takes me back to center — Home. (Oh, and wasn’t Humble Pie a band from the 1970’s?)


I – Itches, those nagging, pesky things that make you want to jump out of your skin. You can’t scratch every itch. But don’t the itches raise the most important questions?


J – January. Some years I’m glad to be starting over, to walk into the clean slate of a New Year. This is one of them. Time may be boundless but the calendar offers a structure. Something that helps keep me on track.


K – Kindred Spirits. Make the list again this year. Not just community or people who are alive. But those who travel with us across the Ethers. And animals, like our cat Kiev. She’s solid as a rock. There are so many life forms that walk the Earth with us. The veil is thin.


L – Love. Love is underappreciated. The word is thrown around loosely. There are so many kinds of love, I have lost count. But the feeling of giving or receiving love — I would not trade it for money, fame, or fortune.


M – Mothers. Most of the nurturing of the world falls to women. This was true when I was born, it may still be true at the end of my life. I wish I could say it’s different, that all nurture the world. But it doesn’t seem to be women that take us into war. Or perpetrate most of the violence in the world. If I was wrong, I’d happily admit it. If I’m right, I pray for more balance. That’s too heavy a weight to carry.


N – North Carolina. I know it seems odd. But driving through North Carolina, it seems like one of the most beautiful places. I’ve also discovered that many of my relatives come from North Carolina, something I didn’t expect. This is true on the paternal and maternal side. I am rooted in the South.


O – Overdrive. Wait, I guess this is something that should go on my future Intentions list. But it popped into my head. People who run on Overdrive teach me about reaching goals. I don’t want to be a Type A personality–I only want a pinch of their drive.


P – Pants. Mr. Stripeypants is over a decade old; he acts like a kitten. I can’t explain the joy this cat brings into my life. He plays fetch with me in the morning, drapes over my arm when I write, greets us at the door after a hard day at work, follows us around the house in a constant state of curious abandon. I learn a lot from Mr. Pants.


Q – Quest. I’m always questing. Like a Knight but not in shining armor. I’d be one of those Dark Knights. After all, you need them, too. The ones that sit at the Round Table contemplating, one foot underground, one foot in the sky. They are all searching for the Grail. I think curiosity is an asset. I just wish it would quit jumping around. Hopscotch, 1-2-1-2-1-2-1, back again. Once in a while I wish throwing the rock was enough, just to see where it lands.


R – red Ravine. It makes the list again. Every year there is something different. It’s a practice in the collaborative spirit. Sometimes it’s the thing that keeps me going when things get hard. Where will it lead? Right here, right now. I’m grateful for every single person who has ever visited red Ravine.


S – Snow. It’s practical and romantic. A water reserve for dry summers, a heart bouncer for Winter rides on the horse-drawn sleigh. We got a boatload in December. It snowed like a banshee over the Christmas weekend. I used to ski but these days I’m happy to get out and walk in the snow. I don’t mind shoveling. But I have to admit, this year I thought about buying a snow blower.


T – Tracks. Animal cairns. We follow tracks in the snow in our front yard. Raven, crow, moles and voles. Rabbits, squirrels, raccoon. Tracking takes patience and an eye for detail. I’m not that good at identifying which tracks go to what animal. But I love to guess. Then check my tracking book for the right answer.


U – Understanding. It’s the brother of forgiveness. I had to live a while before I understood what it meant to forgive. Not everyone can be understood. But it helps to try. I understand that not everyone is perfect or impeccable. I forgive myself for not being those things either.


V – Veracity. An unwillingness to tell lies. A propensity for the truth.  They even made a movie about it — The Invention of Lying. Is telling the truth always the best route? What truth? Whose truth? I like looking at the Underbelly — the unwillingness to tell lies seems more realistic.


W – Woodpeckers. We had two sightings of the Pileated Woodpecker on our property this year. What a joy it is to see them. They’ve got to be the closest thing to seeing a prehistoric Ivory-Billed. The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is a lot like the Loch Ness monster — now you see it, now you don’t.


X – X-Ray Vision. The absence of it. I’m thinking if I had X-Ray vision, I could see into the future. But I wouldn’t want to know. I’d rather take my chances. And make small decisions along the way.


Y – ybonesy makes the list again. She’s made leaps and bounds with her art this year. That inspires me, fires me up for my own creative endeavors. She’s a woman who seems to be able to do it all. I admire that. And feel so much gratitude that she’s collaborating with me on red Ravine.


Z – ZigZags. Like lightning. I’m grateful for zigzags because they are the way I live my life. Cancer the Crab rarely takes the straight line anywhere. Back and forth, testing the waters. She does finally land. Solid. For a day or two. Then off again on her quest. You can’t have a zig without a zag.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, January 2nd, 2009

-related posts and to read more about the practice of Gratitude: Feelin’ Down For The Holidays? Make A Gratitude List, The ABC’s Of A Prosperous 2008 – Gratitude, I Am Grateful For The Alphabet ;-), Runes, Oracles, & Alphabets

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