Archive for May, 2014

Visitors

May 25, 2014

Why is human nature so perverse?

Praying for rain, hoping for rain, wishing for rain, deploring the drought, finally it rains.

Now on the third successive day of grey skies and autumn chilliness, instead of continued joy at the moisture, there’s a sliver of … what is it exactly?
Resentment?
Regret?
For the absence of sun, or for coolness when I’m ready to wear my light summer clothes?

I’m remembering the first summer I lived in Sapello, an historically wet period that hasn’t been matched in the quarter century since. I never did get into my light clothing that year. I wore long sleeves and often a cotton sweater the entire summer season. I have pictures – old fashioned print ones, not digital to be shared here – of the flooding sheets of water carving gullies in my driveway and turning the lower pasture into a lake.

It’s unlikely that this summer will prove to be anything like that one in 1990, which followed the coldest winter in decades and completed a most memorable weather year. My rational mind knows that several weeks of continued rainy weather will only just barely put a dent in our parched conditions. My spirit is delighted to see a return of the long-missing summer pattern of overcast nights, clearing mornings and afternoon thunderheads spilling precious rain. The little, irrational corner of being that feels chilly will just have to suck it up and put on a sweater.

I used to know that outdoor activities like riding my horse needed to be completed in the morning.
I used to ensure that rain boots rode in the trunk of my car (boots in the boot), and that I had an umbrella always on hand, from May to September.

Those days and those habits are long gone. Is it time to bring them out of the closet of memory, press them into freshness, and begin wearing them once more?

I’ve been seeing a different mid-sized bird at the feeder the past few weeks. Orange chest, tan belly, orange spot on the top of a head striped with deep brown and a bit of white, patterns of brown and white running head to tail on the back.

I am a ?

I am a ?

Can you tell I’m not a birder? I seem to remember having lent my bird identification book out and apparently not gotten it back. At least, it’s not on the shelf where I expected to find it.

Another view

Another view

I do wonder if these new visitors are indicative of a shift in weather (and wind) patterns that has broader meaning, perhaps an alert that we’re resuming the nearly forgotten routine of summer afternoon rains?

Cute, n'est-ce pas?

Cute, n’est-ce pas?

For now, I can only note that my day unfolded with repeated short downpours across a wide swath of northern and central New Mexico, perfectly timed. When I needed to load the car, it was clear. While I ate lunch in my favorite Chinese restaurant, it rained. Shopping in the big indoor mall in Albuquerque, it rained. During the two hour drive home, it drizzled, but when I needed to bring my purchases into the house, it was clear.
Who could ask for more?

The Colors of Sedona

May 18, 2014

In Honor of Khin and Clyde

Driving the long miles across New Mexico and Arizona, from Albuquerque to Flagstaff, the relatively flat and very dry and dusty landscape easily reminded me of the dustbowl years when what is now I-40 was Highway 66. Only as we arrived at Flagstaff did the landscape change to forested hills and high mountains masking the depth of Grand Canyon and other beautiful canyons, down one of which we descended, and descended and twisted to Sedona.

Western New Mexico has red rock terrain, but little or no green. Sedona has awesome red rock sculptures rising into blue sky, lit by a glowing yellow sun, footed in all tones of green. All the primary colors laid one over another. Yes, I know green isn’t primary to artists, being a mix of yellow and blue – but it is one of the four basic colors used for photography and screen printing, and the one least available to me in my usual world, so I insist on giving it an honored place here.

All the Primary Colors

All the Primary Colors

The town of Sedona and its appendages, extensions, and neighboring communities are laid out along twisting roads up and down notable hills, with homes tucked away under trees, behind a screen of brush or otherwise barely visible by day and showing as points of light at night. The main streets are clustered with shops, tastefully similar in style, with wide sidewalks that encourage walking – and climbing the sets of steps necessitated by the hilly terrain. Good exercise to walk off the temptations of hand-made chocolate or original flavors of ice cream.

The wedding I’m here to attend is to take place in one of the campground parks on the southern outskirts of town, a place attractive to the couple, who engaged in many outdoor activities during their courtship. It is scheduled for five in the evening, when the lowering sun promises to make the colors of the environment that much more beautiful. My camera is ready!

Red rock Tower

Red Rock Tower

 

The site of the wedding is a stretch of flat rock creased with crevices, a small stream flowing nearby. To get there we walked about five minutes along the side of that stream, beneath forested green, enjoying the ripple of water and an area where visitors have, over time, created a rock garden of small piles of stones. The effect was of a temple garden, each cairn a tribute to someone’s wish, or hope or plan. Perfect for the approach to a wedding site.

Along the Shaded Walk

Along the Shaded Walk

Primary colors shone forth once more for the ceremony – light golden yellow in the bride’s dress, red and blue in the groom’s uniform – and green for the backdrop around their red stone meeting place. From these four colors, all others are mixed in photography. From these four colors, all life is given depth and variety. How suitable for the surroundings of a marriage.

Together

Together

 

May we each, separately and together, find inner harmony and the unique expression of the blending of the colors of our lives.

Random Thoughts

May 11, 2014

What was that nudge to parents from quite a number of years ago…”It’s two a.m. Do you know where your children are?”…

Well, it’s four a.m. and I’m awake and writing.

Not with a coherent topic in mind, but rather with the flow of reflections that has been keeping me from sleep. Starting with the circumstances of a mother and son whom I visited in Taos a few days ago, for my “day” job (the one that has been running seven days a week of late).

The son is a mildly developmentally delayed and very hyperactive boy, youngest of six children, with all his older siblings grown and moved on. The mother is a 350 pound woman requiring constant oxygen, and in severe pain, barely able to stand long enough to move from bed to chair. They live in two cluttered, unheated rooms at the back of an old adobe house belonging to her mother and brother. I don’t want to know what lies beneath the piles of clothing, baskets, blankets and miscellany filling the floor and every corner of the rooms.

She cares about her son’s development, is worried that he has started to be bullied in school, wants to teach him to “man up” and not cry when he is teased (he’s ten). She has managed to buy him a computer, and he is enrolled in Little League, but is only able to participate in a few of the games because mom can only rarely manage to leave the house to drive him to the field. She wants a companion for him, someone to take him out to activities and help him develop a social life.

The day before, I was with a 97 year old woman whose family was gathering to celebrate her birthday. She birthed 17 children, of whom 14 are still living. She is frail, forgetful, incontinent, but cheerfully recovering from a broken hip and with a goal to walk using only a cane, not her walker. And the day before that, my visit was to a thin, grieving, agitated widow who had just lost her youngest brother, the third family death since the first of the year. She is a survivor – her husband had violently abused her, ending only when the shotgun he pulled out to shoot her misfired and killed him instead. She is in constant pain due to a metal plate in her neck, a repair from when he fractured her vertebrae in a prior attempt to kill her. Despite the violence and her recent grief, she is focused on what she can do to help her young nieces and nephews who have just lost their father.

Against such examples of striving for life in the face of dire need, I find it very difficult to be patient with anyone who takes for granted the support, care and concern offered by others.

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A young friend of mine is getting married this coming week, and I’m taking some leave days to go to the wedding in Sedona, Arizona. I’ve been doubling up on work this past week, in order to keep to the deadlines imposed by the state’s implementation of a new Medicaid model of service delivery. And I’ll be doubling up on work when I return from my four day trip (two days for the travel, two days for the wedding activities). Which is why unfocused issues are floating around in my head rather than coalescing into a coherent essay for this post. Too busy “doing” to “be” with any one thing long enough for it to form a pattern in my mind. “Doobee, doobee, doo” as a friend of mine has said, about the tension that arises between doing and being.

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I am most grateful for the support now in my life – a daily injection of humor, appreciation, respect, distraction and loving that is a vastly different experience than my mostly solitary path has been. I truly could not do my job, be of service to so many people in so much need, and manage the challenges in other parts of my personal life, were it not for the companionship and partnering I am delightedly experiencing.

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“When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone.”

A song from long ago, from the musical Carousel

Words to live by.

Have a great week!

Adapting

May 4, 2014

Today, I started my day before the sun came up, chatting with a friend in Lebanon via Facebook.

A simple statement about an activity that is far from extraordinary in today’s connected world.

But this is me – who remembers not having a telephone when I first moved to New Mexico, because there weren’t enough lines in Lamy to connect everyone.

I’m grateful for having experienced that sort of unconnected living; I learned patience and trust and self-reliance and a number of other qualities important to building and sustaining relationships.

None of which negates my current pleasure at connecting over huge distances, easily, now.

I’m equally glad the contact today was via written word; I would have had a hard time dealing with spoken conversation in the attenuated form likely to occur at such a distance. This past week I’ve been dealing with clogged ears – not sure if it’s allergies or an infection that has caused blockage, noticeably worse on the left side.

How limiting it is, to be obliged to hold a phone to my right ear and therefore not be free to use my right, dominant, hand during the conversation. Oh, I’ve tried holding the phone across my body, with my left hand, in order to write down information being given to me. It’s possible, but remarkably uncomfortable!

I’ve also had to alter my eating habits. Why, you ask? Because crunchy foods are now painfully loud inside my head. If my condition were to become permanent, would I adapt, learn to tune out the chewing noise? Probably, in the same way I learned, shortly after arrival in Saigon, to tune out the persistent noise of the cicada-like insects that created a permanent background concert in the trees. We kids enjoyed tormenting new arrivals (as I was tormented) by calling attention to the persistent chittering, just at the time that the newbie’s brain was beginning to accommodate, and thus cease to notice, the sounds.

In the Trees

In the Trees

We humans are marvels of accommodation. We live in the most diverse environments, we survive extremes of privation, we come in such a variety of sizes, colors and skill sets. . . No wonder accommodating to one another is considered to be such a virtue.

No wonder, either, that learning when to draw the line, when to limit adaptation, when to say enough, I want/need/seek to stand apart – no wonder learning how to express one’s integrity can be a challenge. Especially, it seems, for women. Even today’s emancipated, modern women. My Lebanese correspondent was writing me on her smart phone, waiting in the Beirut airport to fly to Dubai for a work day. And questioning her right to step away from a relationship because she’s not yet ready to “settle” for. . .

Accommodate, adapt, be flexible, accept what is.
Go for it, “be all you can be”, make the most of your time, your talents, your opportunities.
Conflicting imperatives, challenging us to know which one to apply in which situations.

Is it yet another sign of our adaptability that we can implement both types of behaviors? Or is it a sign of our integrity that we manage to achieve a balance between seeming contradictions?

I have my own answer to that question. I’ll let you find yours.


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