Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why the crafts?

Someone asked me yesterday if I'd always loved arts and crafts, or if it is a recent interest. As I thought about it, I realized it probably came about because my oldest sister caught polio when I was nineteen months old. Carolyn is 8 years older than I am, so she was just starting 4th grade when the polio epidemic was sweeping the country. My mother practically lived at the hospital, but in those days, they would only let one family member visit for 5 minutes each hour because they believed it was not good for the patient, for various and sundry reasons--all of them so wrong. The hospitals were full of polio patients whose parents would not leave, so they let other parents do therapy on other children during the waiting time, so Mom would visit with Carolyn for her 5 minutes each hour, then do physical therapy exercises with other children while waiting to check on Carolyn. That system sounds so crazy to me, but I know as a mother I would have wanted to be there every minute, desperate to make sure my child stayed alive, and the hospitals had to figure out what to do with distraught parents. Many children didn't survive, and many were confined to an iron lung. Carolyn was in and out of the hospital with multiple surgeries through most of a year, so I was tended by any available adult, mostly Grandma Barr, but also the grandmothers of my cousins.
When Carolyn began to recover, but was crippled, Mom had to find activities she could do, and since there were two other children, it had to be activities we could all do together. I've long been aware of the scars I carried from being abandoned for a year at such a young age, but only recently have I become aware of the gifts. Every Saturday, we would go horseback riding. Mom took Carolyn and the cousins, or any neighborhood friends who wanted to come along. Carolyn could get on the horses and run as fast as the wind. On a horse, she wasn't crippled, and it was good therapy for her legs, since she had to squeeze the thighs together to stay on the horse. Carolyn has had a life long love for horses, raising Arabians, making Arabian costumes which often took first place at the fair. I have loved horseback riding as well, but mostly because of the fond memories of finally being together again with my mom and sisters.
Which brings us to the arts and crafts answer. With Carolyn's mobility limited the first few years, Mom would bring home paint-by-number sets, art supplies, and games, and we all had to help entertain Carolyn (ha, like we needed to---she was the most entertaining of all, a real fireball in those days.) One result of this is that I have always hated to play board games, because I always lost, and Carolyn always chortled with glee when she won. Allison has never forgiven me for not playing games with her enough. The other result which I didn't appreciate until recently is my fondness for arts and crafts, which never took the form of drawing or painting---that was Carolyn's expertise and I couldn't compete, but I could hold my own at everything else, and the best part of it all is that I was never left out of the ongoing craft projects; basket weaving, knitting, crocheting, sewing, ceramics, and generally creating things out of my hands and imagination, and feeling that it was all valid and valued. Most of that got put on hold until now, when we are empty nesters, and I have time to revisit the good parts of childhood. The only trouble now is that my mom isn't there to smile approval and tell me how clever I am. I have to remind myself---and so I do, by keeping going.
Love to all.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Hunter's Moon

The spectacular moon this month has wowed me. This little photo was taken at 7:30 a.m. while I was in the yard walking the dog. The wind had not come up yet, the temperature was mild, and I was overjoyed at the wonder of it all. It's amazing that we are part of this incredible universe.
Here is a fact I learned on the weather report this week: Indian Summer is the time of beautiful fall weather AFTER the first frost, so we are enjoying a gorgeous time right now. Don't blink or you'll miss it. Each month the full moon has a name. This month is called the Hunter's Moon, and you can probably figure out why.
It's like someone turned on the brightest night light.
This is a post in progress, so more will be updated later. For now, here are some pictures of the yard from this morning. You can see why it is so fun being outside with the dog.
The picture on the left is a piece of driftwood we took from the house on Plaza Way. The leaves are now just coming down.
The photo on the right shows the empty garden after the frost.
Remember how it looked on a previous post during the summer?

And below is a photo of John's Inukshuk--an eskimo-type rock formation. It looks like a woman with wind blowing through her hair while she stand as sentry.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Good Morning Merry Snowfall

We awoke to winter white, and while it's beautiful, it's premature. It's also less than 32 degrees, which means the garden is more red tomatoes, purple (green) beans, white cucumbers, rust colored romaine. The furnace is blasting, the hot chocolate brewing. The weirdest thing is that a few days ago it was in the 80's, and next weekend will be back up to time for a full moon and Indian Summer. That is the poetics of living in the desert mountains of the Rockies. It is the unpredictable, changable, whimsical seasons that I love so much. This location creates the most beautiful sunsets in the world, a joy to photographers, and the cloud formations are an artist's dream. What's not to love? I'll tell you....when the beauty you wish to see is in the eyes and faces of your loved ones so far away. That is the only regret, which is why we're so excited to have them coming to visit for Christmas, to join the ones here who love them.

On a cold "winter" day, what could be better than a huge pot of fresh vegetable soup? Since we had to pick everything in the garden, here are the ingredients.....right out of the ground.

And the best thing about it is, I won'd have to fix dinner for several days! Makes your mouth water, doesn't it?

Love to all.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

It's that beautiful time of the soon. It's so temporary, but returns again and again, and maybe because I'm approaching the autumn of my life, it seems more poignant this season. Not only are the colors temporary, but so is each leaf, ready to move on to the next stage: compost, mulch, fodder.
As I drove up the canyon before the rain/snow started this weekend, I was reminded of the autumn tradition we had as children. My favorite maternal aunt, after whom I was named, arrived from San Francisco for her annual visit in conjunction with the deer hunt for the men. The women were left home with all of us kids, and so we would gather in this wonderful protected canyon of Millcreek to picnic and hike in the leaves. When I smell the autumn breeze, the scent immediately transports me back to the trails, the games, the fried chicken and potato salad, the laughter of the aunts and cousins...and there was a LOT of laughter.
One of the most vivid memories was waiting with great anticipation until after we ate to receive the precious gift our Aunt Marie would bring with her from Union Square, San Francisco. My Aunt Marie was exotic, and rich. She owned a reducing salon at 140 Geary Street, Union Square, right next to Britex Fabrics. This was in the 50's and 60's before the world was obsessed with weight loss, so she was ahead of her time. Her studio was filled with big passive roller machines that were supposed to roll the weight (read "fat") off, or at least break it down and redistribute it. One of our family stories is about visiting her studio, hearing the phone ring, having my older sister answer it with "Maberry's Reducing Saloon, Salon, Saloon." (You had to be there.) Aunt Marie was always dressed to the nines with lavish jewelry, large pieces, diamonds, pendants, rings, earrings, so being the little girl I was, I could anticipate a beautiful piece of jewelry. Can I tell you a secret? I was always disappointed, because the anticipation was greater than the gift. Isn't that how it is at Christmas, too? The reason I was disappointed was because my aunt didn't have any children, and since I was the youngest child, she couldn't guess what was appropriate for me, nor could she guess what I might like. I never wore the jewelry. I don't know what happened to any of it. And, as I reflect now, I still don't wear much jewelry, except for earrings. Perhaps the old memories tied to jewelry disappointment might still be affecting my choices, who knows?
As I drove down the canyon, remembering the past, I'm left mostly with the memories of laughter, of family togetherness, of childhood freedoms and carefree attitudes, of good food, good fun, nature, and the precious thought that we need to pay attention in each moment, so we don't miss it. We don't know how long the colors or leaves will last, so appreciate it while it's in front of you in the present moment. We can't go back.
love to all.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

If I Could Do It Over poem

One of the problems with a blog is defining what type of content to write about. My true confession today is that I haven't identified what I want to do with a blog, which is why I'm slow to post. Originally I thought I would write about the nature of energy, and how thoughts create, and relate to what shows up in our lives. But I think there's only an audience of 3 or less, so now I'm not sure what to do. If you have any ideas, let me know.

Now, today's post is a poem I discovered, and don't know the author.

If I Could Do It Over

If I had my child to raise all over again
I'd build self-esteem first and the house later.

I'd fingerpaint more and point the finger less.

I would do less correcting and more connecting.

I'd take my eyes off my watch and watch with my eyes.

I would care to know less and know to care more.

I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.

I'd stop playing serious and seriously play.

I'd ignore the stares and stare at more stars.

I'd do more hugging and less tugging.

I'd see the oak in the acorn more often.

I would be firm less often and affirm much more.

I'd abandon my love of power in favor of the power of love.

Many times I've wished I could go back and do a better job of raising my "kids". But when I see my children now as the wonderful adults they are, I couldn't be more proud. Now it is easy to do as the poem suggests, because as I'm getting older, perhaps I'm wising up. I'm doing a better job as a grandparent, I hope. They say that knowledge is accumulating, and wisdom is letting go. I'm trying to let go....of guilt, resentment, shame, anger, embarrassment, of expectations, wrong-thinking, rigidity, judgment. I am affirming much, hope, connection, harmony, unity, beauty, joy, gratitude, acceptance, forgiveness. Wouldn't the world be a wonderful place if everyone abandoned the love of power and affirmed the power of Love.

Love to exceptions!