"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset."
A quote that is attributed to Ram Dass, although I could not find absolute proof of it is:
"Life is so difficult, how can we not hold hands through it?"
This is how I am feeling this past week. Is there any answer about why some live but others die? I can find nothing that helps me make sense of any of it. It seems so random; so unplanned. So unfair really. Yet, my friend Leslie tells me that it is in the mystery of death that we find the beauty in it and in life. Perhaps she is right. Life is a mystery. There is no rhyme or reason to most of what happens. I think that most of us seem to think that we have everything in our lives planned yet in a split second everything can change and leave you wondering "why?".
This past week has been very sad. Yet, it has allowed me some time to be introspective and reflect. How do we create a life of meaning and purpose? One of five principles that I have been trying to practice is as follows: Knowing and understanding the laws of life, also called Truth, is not enough. We must also live the truth that we know. THE TRUTH THAT WE KNOW! How that rings true for me.
Above all, I consider myself to be an honest person. I try to live the truth that I know each day. Sometimes I get into trouble for telling the truth. It get misunderstood. Something Wayne Dyer says in his book rings true with me. "Removing blame means never assigning responsibility to anyone for what you're experiencing. It means that you're willing to say, 'I may not understand why I feel this way, why I have this illness, why I've been victimized,, or why I had this accident, but I'm willing to say without any guilt or resentment that I own it. I live with, and I am responsible for, having it in my life." "By doing this you take the responsibility for removing it or learning from it."
It sounds easy, doesn't it? I send love to all, rather than anger and resentment. I practice forgiveness so that others know that I no longer wish to be in a state of hostility and to free myself from self-defeating energy. I'll start here and see what happens.
Today, in two separate accidents, two of my friends (unrelated) were killed. It is such a sad time for me that I am going to take some time off to grieve and try and figure out how this could happen to such wonderful people. It is beyond understanding. I will miss you all but will try and follow along with your blogs if I have the time.
"You cannot stop the world from upsetting you at times, but you can learn how to use every upset or setback to bring you back to the wisdom of your true self. Y0u can learn to use every negative experience to strengthen and empower you. Every challenging experience can assist you in discovering your inner gifts and powers." John Gray
I have had these photos since my early 20's (that's almost 40 years for those of you who don't know me!). They appealed to me then and they appeal to me now.
This one is titled "Peace" and it is 93 feet tall. It stands on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Timber Cove, near Jenner, California. I once stayed in a room where you could see this statue from every window and even if you were in bed. It was the most glorious sight to behold. And it still inspires good thoughts when I look at these photos.
Beniamino BenvenutoBufano was a California-based Italian sculptor who made large-scale monuments, usually of granite. They often featured smoothly rounded animals and relatively simple shapes.
With our earth going so haywire at this time, it is fitting that we all raise a hand across oceans, across lands, across the world and wish for peace. May we all strive to achieve it within our lifetimes.
To paraphrase Wayne Dyer: we all showed up on this earth as tiny infants capable of an infinite amount of possibilities. Open your mind to ALL possibilities. Don't allow yourself to be pigeon-holed, and stay open to the possibilities to contribute to individual and world peace.
The sound of "ahhhh" is in names of the Divine according to Dyer. God, Yahweh, Allah, Krishna, Jehovah, Ra, and Ptah. 20 minutes in the morning...create inner peace. Ahhhhhhhhhh!
This is a photo of me with my Dad at the house that he built for us on Henry Lane. Most of my memories regarding my Dad are in photos or are things that I have heard from other family members; things like the fact that he was left-handed. I don't remember that about him. I don't remember a lot about him. He committed suicide when I was seven.
Yes, I could have just said that he died when I was seven but that doesn't tell the whole story really. I'm not trying to make anyone feel sad for me. I had a really great Grandfather that stepped in for him and was there for most of my life. He died when my daughters were around 4 or 5 so I feel really blessed to have had him in my life for such a long time.
And, I had a really great step-father who understood me in ways my own mother did not. He, unfortunately, has passed away also. I miss him too. The older we get the smaller the circle becomes, doesn't it!
It makes me sad that I have missed the love of my father; that he felt that his life was not worth living. I would have told him if he would have asked me. All I can do at this stage of my life is say that I forgive him for leaving me. That I forgive him for what he put everyone through. Things happen for a reason, or so they say. What I can do is wish all the fathers that I know (and don't know) a Happy Father's Day and remind you of what you have and to not take advantage of it. The time you share with your children is precious and they deserve the best that you can give to them. I hope that you all have a really joyous day.
On my birthday, Katherine told me that I was entering in my Wheel of Fortune year. When I asked her to explain what that meant she replied that "the Wheel of Fortune Year is the best time to open to unexpected opportunities, to turn your life in more fortunate, positive directions, and to grow and expand in new ways...financial opportunities or unexpected windfalls could occur this year, but most likely they occur only because you are open to the possibility or are actively trying to create situations of more prosperity in your life."
Is it a West Coast phenomenon or does this happen in other states too? When you drive around lately, you will occasionally find a sign that says "Free" or "Free Stuff" like the sign above. Well, I'm not a hoarder or anything but I do find passing by one of these "piles" occasionally hard to do because "what if there is something REALLY good in there?"
SO...Last week I stopped by one and there wasn't much that was worth taking home with me except I did find these books that I thought my Granddaughter might enjoy. I have never heard of them but they are small books of only about 50 or so pages and they are put out by Scholastic Inc. Well, sounded pretty "OK" to me so I grabbed all five of them and headed home.
Yesterday, I was planning to drop them off with my Granddaughter so just out of habit I flipped through each one of them in case there was a stray piece of paper or something that needn't make the trip. Guess what? Inside one of the books was a FIVE DOLLAR BILL! Yes, a real FIVE DOLLAR BILL. Is that what Katherine referred to when she wrote: "unexpected windfalls?" Granted, it is just a five dollar bill. But, I didn't expect it (or did I?)
In reality, I feel that I am, indeed, expecting nothing but great things this year and in the future.
From my job at the Agriculture Department being offered to me to the unknown things that are coming my way...good things are on their way. It is only a matter of time.
The other day, while checking my bug traps, I happened to look up. I look up a lot during the day but this time I must have looked in a different direction or something because there, in the tree was the most unusual thing I have ever seen while doing this job: a rock. Rocks don't belong IN the tree; they are usually on the ground. This rock looks like it has become a permanent fixture in this giant fig tree. Rene: do you know which fig tree I am talking about? It is the one where the Community Garden used to be years ago. Melanie has talked about her tree looking like Ganesha. I think this one might resemble Ganesha also. Ganesha, scooping up a rock with his tusks. Did you know that Ganesha is "widely revered as the Remover of Obstacles?" Before me lies the opportunity to not just "see the rock" but "see the message IN seeing the rock! My eyes are wide open to the possibilities. Karen, I know you will appreciate this, especially after what you posted the other day.
Has anyone else seen anything unusual these days?
"...should you decide (make no mistake about this, it is a choice) to have a mind that's open to everything, then you'll act upon that inner energy, and you'll be the creator as well as the recipient of miracles wherever you are. You will experience what Walt Whitman meant when he wrote, "To me, every cubic inch of space is a miracle." Dr. Wayne Dyer
Sunday afternoon, my friend Peggy De Pue held a graduation party for her daughter Brooke. We all had a great time visiting with people we haven't seen in such a long time. With good friends, it doesn't matter how long it has been...when you see them again it seems just like yesterday. Peggy is the art teacher at our local grammar school and while we were visiting, we also toured her art studio that she has set up for herself. These are a few of the things that I saw while visiting.
The first thing you see is a wire face that was made from a contour drawing. I love contour drawings: no looking down at the paper, do not remove your hand from the paper, and keep on drawing. You always get something quite interesting. The next mask is made from a paper plate. The kids in her class did some really great ones she said.
This face was done with colored pencils on black tar paper...the kind that you put on roofs or siding. She didn't like the was it was turning out UNTIL she decided to tear it up and throw it away! THEN...it looked great! Never give up!
This is a photo copy of one of her student's collage pieces of their dog. Isn't it wonderful?
This is another student's work.
And a close-up of the details on the dog's chest. Some of these kids are REALLY talented! Of course, they have a GREAT teacher too!
And another. Check out the details (below) and how this student decided to incorporate "dogs" into the collage OF a dog! Pretty darned creative.
This project was a collage on a take-out container. They had to do something that represented something about them personally.
And this is the outside of the box. I love the faces.
These are aluminum foil people that they use to pose any way they want and by doing so, learn how to represent different parts of the body.
And these, finally, are some of Peggy's own works. She loves to work in a Fauvist style. Bright colors, colored pencils, and pastels are her favorite I think. The one clipped to the easel is one that she is working on for her son of Hawaii---that is where he lives.
Peggy and I go back a long way. I was invited to be at the birth of her daughter, Brooke, and video tape the event for them. I was honored to be there for them and have a special connection to Brooke ever since that time. She has graduated from UC Davis now and will go on to become a dentist. She is engaged to the most wonderful man and they will be married next June. I can't wait to be at her wedding. They were at both my daughters' weddings and it just wouldn't have been the same without them there.
Peggy's husband, Steve, was my woodshop teacher at Adult Education. He taught me lots and I made the most wonderful items in his classes. I got straight A's in his class! He also was there for me when I needed help with Math when I was attending college. He is a brilliant man, a good friend, and also a wonderful teacher. And, he introduced me to his wife Peggy. For that I will be eternally grateful. She's my confidant, an ear when I need to talk, a fellow artist, and always forgiving. You can't ask for a better person to call a friend. Peggy: I love you! Let's chat!!
Yesterday, after working really hard as a week-end warrior in my yard, I decided to take the evening off and looked for a good movie to watch. Not finding anything worthy, I decided to look at my blog roll and ended up on T's blog where I found some really interesting reading. T (I think short for Teresa) lives in Australia and is a self-professed: "hippy, felt fibre artist, fruit, nut and vegi grower, house builder, soap maker, photographer, nature lover, greeny, river pixie, and gypsy."
I really liked this post because it made me think about me and my early life. She said that things "go round and round and end up back where they started." I agree! She also hit upon some of the things that are near and dear to my heart. "Living a slow and sustainable solar powered life is a conscious choice, and love it. ...but reality is often not like the dream. The dream of living in the forest with nature at the door, feet up and relaxed all day long, wandering around the forest picking flowers to put in [my] hair, dancing in the rain, making slow food and slow cloth, having warmth in winter and beautiful days. The dream---hmmmm.
In the 60's when I was going to school, the Hippie movement was just getting started in the San Francisco Bay Area. In January 1967 (the year before I graduated from High School...I know...it sounds OLD!) the Human Be-In in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco popularized hippie culture, leading to the legendary Summer of Love on the West Coast.
We attended lots of rock performances by legendary artists such as Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jimi Hendrix, Iron Butterfly, and many others at such places as Longshoreman's Hall, Avalon Ballroom, and the Fillmore Auditorium. These were great times. Herb Caen, a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper described the guidelines of the hippie code in an article he wrote in 1967. The article described it as: "Do your own thing, wherever you have to do it and whenever you want. Drop out. Leave society as you have known it. Leave it utterly. Blow the mind of every straight person you can reach. Turn them on, if not to drugs, then to beauty, love, honesty, fun".
According to Wikipedia "while many hippies made a long-term commitment to the lifestyle, some people argue that hippies "sold out" during the 1980's and became part of the materialist, consumer culture."
When I met Bill in the early 70's, he owned this 1949 International school bus and had converted it so that he could live in it and eventually leave the Bay Area, which he accomplished in 1971 or 1972. He sold everything he owned and moved to northern California, close to Mt. Shasta in Siskiyou County. I followed him up there in 1973 after I quit my job, sold or gave away everything I owned except for what I could fit into my VW, and left the Bay Area on Halloween of that year. It was my dream too, just as it was Bill's (and T's) to live off the land "living a slow and sustainable...life." I loved living so close to the land, living directly in the forest and a big, beautiful pond that we swam in sans clothing, relaxing all day long.
Everyone thought I was crazy...selling everything and moving away. But, I knew that it would work and that the desire was genuine and beautiful. I just needed Bill to prod me along. I left behind all my friends, who continued to still work their 9-5 jobs. They might have dressed the part of being a hippie but they had no idea what it felt like to actually live the part. We had no running water, no electricity (we used kerosene lights), and no jobs. But we also had no ties and no bills. We were free to "wander around the forest" (as T so eloquently puts it), "dancing in the rain, making slow food...having warmth in winter and beautiful days". THE DREAM!
This is Bill and me at my mother's home when we announced that we had gone off to Virgina City, Nevada, and gotten married by a justice of the peace. IN A BAR CALLED THE SILVER QUEEN! The judge was down there having a beer and when we went in to get him to perform the ceremony, he told us to "come inside". My mother purchased this cake at the local grocery store. It was the only celebration that I had except for a "canned goods party" that my dear friend Lela (now since passed away) held for us at her home. What I wouldn't give to have all that curly, long hair back. At the time I hated it. It wasn't "cool" to have curly hair in the 70's. But I wasn't "cool". And did Bill get looks because of his long hair? You bet! My own mother wouldn't say goodbye to me when I left the Bay Area to live with him. I guess she thought I was living in sin.
Here's another photo of me in the early 70's in my tie-dyed shirt. Bell bottoms and tie-dyed shirts! And hand-made leather moccasins! Those were the days! This is a photo of me at Jenner. I used to embroider lots of my shirts with designs in those days too. I never have been one to wear all the Joseph Magnin clothes (comparable to Nordstrom's now). In the first place, I didn't have the money to buy all those kinds of clothes. My mother used to give me so much money each year to purchase school clothes and I always figured that I could get so much more for my money if I purchased fabric and made my own. Which I did. I made all my own dresses, skirts, blouses, even my Prom dress and coat. I have always enjoyed sewing. I guess I got it from my grandmother. She was an alterations person and could hand-draw a pattern just by looking at a dress! I was never that good but I could follow a pattern.
So, the dream? I feel like I am still living it although it has been altered a bit. We still live in the forest but we now have electricity. When we first moved here though and were building our home (like T) we didn't have electricity for about 6-8 years. I never missed it. We had a generator for the well so we always had water. And, we used kerosene lights for years. It was even longer before we had a phone. That was way before cell phones. It's amazing that we never had a real emergency. What would we have done? And, we raised our twins like this for the first years of their lives.
I think that it has given us a better appreciation for what we DO have. We appreciate the small things and we are hard workers. We would rather spend time working on our property and our home than taking elaborate trips. That is not important to us.
"It is nothing new. We have a private revolution going on. A revolution of individuality and diversity that can only be private. Upon becoming a group movement, such a revolution ends up with imitators rather than participants...It is essentially a striving for REALIZATION of one's RELATIONSHIP to life and other people... " Bob Stubbs, "Unicorn Philosophy".
While driving around on my route on Friday I saw these wonderful birds just taking advantage of our wonderful California weather. Now...these are CANADIAN geese, mind you. Why are they still in California? Granted, we have some pretty nice weather, there is lots of green grass at this golf course to munch on, lots of great ponds to swim in, but aren't they conditioned genetically to migrate back home?
Just look at them...they seem happy and content to never leave. They are relaxing and preening and just basically taking it easy. Why bother flying all that way north when you don't have to, right?
But, seriously, does anyone know why when Spring arrives that MOST of the Canadian geese head north for the summer but yet some decide to be rogues, defiant teenagers, world travelers, or better yet...on permanent vacation? I always thought that there was something internal that made them fly home, have babies, or whatever they do for the summer up north. But these "birds of a different feather" have decided that it's better here in California and have decided not to head home. Ever? I'm not sure. Maybe next year they'll decide to leave and go home. But for now, they are just walking around enjoying themselves, swimming at their own private "pool", and basically taking a long vacation. Do you think they have visas? Do they expire after six months and then they have to "reapply" to have legal status? Or maybe they just "marry" an American and get dual citizenship. Then, they are free to fly back and forth as much as they want. If they lay eggs here in California, will the babies want to go back to Canada or will they call California home and never have to migrate? Does that change the genetic code for the subsequent off-spring and then the migration is permanently disengaged (so to speak)? These are all questions I am pondering after seeing them on Friday.
I could almost bet that this group decides to make California their home. It looks like they've got a pretty good thing going for themselves. California is a pretty good place to call home. Why put up with all that snow in Canada if you don't have to, eh? C (eh) N (eh) D (eh). That's how you spell CANADA.
This is my friend, Terri. I have known Terri for many years...her former husband and mine were in the Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department together and my twins baby sat most of her girls (she has four!).
Terri is also my hair dresser. She is the kind of person you can tell anything to and it will remain safe with her. She hugs me every time I see her. She listens to me when I am having a trying time. She uplifts me and understands me. And, I think she does this for everyone that sits in her chair. We talk about our kids, what books we have read, what is going on with our community and the people we know. Living in a small community has so many benefits. There is a connection between most of us that exists that is so wonderful. That doesn't happen in big cities. Most people are lucky to even talk to or know most of the neighbors that they live next to. Not so in our small community.
Terri is also a very giving person. She does lots of charity work for different organizations (Make-a-Wish Foundation and Breast Cancer come to mind). This weekend she is donating her time and energy at a Cancer Camp where adult cancer patients will be treated to spa treatments, massage therapy and she will be cutting hair. She told me it is something that she loves to do and she likes to give back. Imagine how some of those people are going to feel after being pampered all weekend long. Cancer is such an equalizer...it takes you down to your bare minimum and if you're lucky, you can find your way back up to the top again. These people will have a weekend of luxury and a chance to see how being a survivor has benefits beyond just living. It touches your soul and makes you see what is most important in life.
Having a friend like Terri to talk to, to listen to me, to give advice, to just BE there is such an important thing. I know that those she "touches" this weekend will feel exactly the same way about her as I do. She told me today that at the last hair seminar she went to one of the speakers said that hair stylists are second only to their doctor as far as trust issues. Having a hair stylist as a friend too, well that is the cherry on the top. The "Terri" on the top!
How many of you remember your first two-wheeler? Did it have training wheels? And what about those fancy streamers? Did you have those too?
Mine was a Schwinn, just like the one Natalie is riding, but mine was in no way that fancy. This one is multi-colored, has streamers that are multi-colored, and training wheels. I never had training wheels. Or a helmet. It's a wonder, living on a steep hill like I did, that I never killed myself by cracking open my head. I do remember the first day that I learned to ride...I mean actually ride that bike. I wish I still had it. It was a classic. Maybe that is why I hung on to everything my daughters ever had. I realize the value (fifty-five years later) of what a Schwinn bicycle is worth. (On E-Bay and to me!)
One day, when my daughters lived in an apartment building years ago, I was walking to take the garbage out and glanced down. I thought I saw a face but I continued to walk toward the garbage cans. On the way back to the apartment, the face kept hounding me so I decided to take a closer look and see if I was going crazy or did I, indeed, see a face.
Well, in my mind this rock looks as if it has a face. I'm not sure everyone sees what I see but this is how my mind perceives it: the "face" is laying on its right side. Basically, it is an entire "head" with a face. It has an eyebrow, a nose, lips at the bottom (narrow end) of the rock, and even an ear lobe on the side of the head that is facing up. Does anyone else see it? (Sometimes it helps if you squint a bit and try and see the defining areas.)
I read in a comment yesterday from Karen on my blog about her thinking that we might be kindred spirits. She wrote in part: "hand me a rock with a face on it...now that's what I love." So, Karen, thanks for inspiring me to take a picture of my rock with a face on it.
I'd love to see what other people "see" in their rocks. That rock found me that day. It could have been buried under a bunch of decaying leaves or turned over so it was "face" down. Not so. It called out to me to pick it up. I have had it ever since. I was thinking it has to be at least 10 years or more since I found this rock. It usually sits on my wood stove and heats up in the winter when the fire gets going really well.
This rock made me do an "about face." Literally and figuratively!
AND THE DEEP CENTER OF A POPPY WHEN IT STARTS TO BUD.
RED IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE COLORS, EVEN IN THE GARDEN.
AND PANSIES? ANY OF YOU WHO KNOW ME WELL, KNOW THAT I LOVE PANSIES. PANSIES ARE FOR THOUGHTS.
I PULLED B'S OLD WORK BOOTS OUT OF THE GARBAGE CAN AND TURNED THEM INTO A PLANTER FOR THIS SUCCULENT YEARS AGO. IT JUST KEEP FLOURISHING AND IS TRAILING OVER THE BACK SIDE OF THE CHAIR. THE CHAIR I FOUND ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD ONE DAY. IT HAD BEEN DISCARDED AND WAS BADLY BURNED BUT I LOVED THE POSSIBILITIES. NOT EVERYTHING HAS TO HAVE A "PRETTY FACE", RIGHT? SO, IT SITS ON THE DECK OUTSIDE OF THE FRONT DOOR AND I ADD THINGS OCCASIONALLY TO IT: ROCKS THAT REMIND ME OF EGGS; HEART-SHAPED ROCKS THAT FIND THEIR WAY TO ME; A PIECE OF WOOD THAT LOOKS LIKE A WING; THERE'S EVEN A PIECE OF WOOD THAT HAS A CARVED WOODEN FACE. SOME PEOPLE WOULD WALK RIGHT PAST THIS KIND OF STUFF, BUT FOR ME: THIS IS THE KIND OF STUFF THAT MAKES ME HAPPY. IT MAKES ME HAPPY TO SEE THIS STUFF EACH DAY WHEN I WALK OUTSIDE. IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS IN LIFE THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO ME. LIKE I'VE SAID MANY TIMES BEFORE: I DON'T NEED ALL THE LATEST CLOTHES FROM DESIGNER STORES. OR PURSES THAT COST HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS. (I AM MUCH HAPPIER MAKING MY OWN AND HAVING SOMETHING UNIQUE THAT ISN'T JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.) SOME MIGHT SAY "NOT FOR ME". BUT GIVE ME THE DISCARDED, THE CHIPPED, THE RUSTED AND I AM IN HEAVEN. OH...AND SOME FLOWERS!