In Memoriam

PoppyandFlag

On this day for those who gave their ultimate,
May we honor their gift, respect their bravery,
And continue to uphold all that which they
Selflessly secured.

May we continue to keep safe the place to kneel in protest
For that which needs to be understood,
for that which needs mending.

May we continue to honor the water of our land and
Keep safe its flow of life and those who stand strong against
The tide of greed and destruction and hatred.

May we beat our weapons into plowshares so our
Children are safe wherever they may wander,
Hold dear to all life without profile of
Spirit, race, age, or endowment.

May we open our arms to those who reach to us
For compassion, aid, and make room for lives and families
Who are weary and seek rest, safety,
But also bear their own gifts to share
Being perfectly created as are we.

On this day may we champion and honor
Those we remember for their duty and sacrifice,
Through our benevolence and humility,
Through our gratitude and joy, through our tolerance,
And in our love, care, and compassion toward all beings,
Creatures, plants, and all matter and elements.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

 “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I’m back!

Oh, dear friends. This spring has been a whirlwind. Since January I’ve been in training to become certified as a Red Thread Guide with the Intentional Creativity Foundation. A trip to Hawaii and one to Sonoma has kept me busy writing and creating, but not for the blog. And on top of it all, I am retiring from a full time first grade teaching position in just two weeks.

So for the next few days I am going to post some of the work I have been doing so you know what I’ve been up to.

Thank you for remaining faithful….

I will begin with a little project I am currently working on. It’s called Creative Sprint, May 30-Day challenge. Yesterday we were challenged to select a photograph, painting or a picture from a magazine and extend the image beyond its current frame or edges.

I used one of my own photographs of the crows on one of my doggie walks with my Bean. And I used PicMonkey to “extend the image.”

 

The Birds.jpg

Bones

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To see the bones of lava,
The real bone,
You must have sand

When lava bears itself to sun
Pushes through Earth
To journey toward an unknown end
Kisses ocean and
Creates a new existence,
It’s not easy

Heat, where nearness may cause death,
Steam, if breathed too deeply, might suffocate
Yet, on its own, it endures
Moves towards a new
way, a way of being,
that must release
the heat of its fervor

Settled,
As journey completes,
Then comes rest

Time to cool in ocean’s
Caress, smooth it’s roughness,
Polish sharp places of brokenness
Giving way to gentle touch,
Patience, and presence

As shards round,
Creases weave and wave
Wisdom tells its story,
Sand listens
Dusting gratitude,
And lava becomes land.

 

Author’s Note:

I attended a retreat in Hawaii a few weeks ago. It was led by Amber Kuileimailani Bonnici. It was called Creativity Unleashed 2018. Through Intentional Creativity we delved deeply into ourselves to learn more, release more, and, for me. learn a bit about painting and Shiloh Sophia‘s 13 step intentional creativity process. I am also training to be a Red Thread Guide.

It was an overwhelming few days as I had to squeeze it into my school schedule. But every minute was a treasure to be mined and celebrated.

One morning I had intended to play with our watercolor set in my journal, but we stopped on the way to the hotel at Magic Sands Beach and this poem happened instead.

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MyPainting

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Creativity Unleashed 2018 Participants – Photo by Lacy Johnson Rootness

Beautiful Hand

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Man with a Newspaper, Eugene Ivanov
Czech Republic, Saatchi Art

She opened her zebra striped backpack and shook the contents onto the floor. She gave the backpack one more good shake. It plopped to the floor.

Thank god.

She thought she had forgotten it. After stuffing the other miscellany back into the pack, she grabbed the last item with her right hand and slipped into the big patchwork pocket she had sewn into the left side lining of her coat. She glanced quickly around as she stood up and jerked forward as the bus began moving.

Good. No one noticed.

She probably should have waited until she was at the back of the bus in her seat. But her stomach churned but when she remembered a turquoise flash of color as she walked out her front  door of the flat. Her heart was beating, fast. It beat faster and faster at the thought of the forgotten item left on the side table and she sitting there in the middle of everyone without it. Deep down she knew they would want it, even though they probably didn’t realize it. She couldn’t let them down. So she stopped in the middle of the aisle as she walked toward her seat on the bus and dumped everything out.

I love living in the city. No one pays attention to you. Weirdos do strange things all the time and no one wants to get involved.

So no one saw what she hid inside her coat. No one glanced up. Everyone’s nose was in a phone or tablet or Kindle. There was even one person with a newspaper, an actual newspaper, in front of his face. She decided to sit across from him. With that amount of coverage, he’d never see what she was going to do next.

Hahaha.

She laughed but quickly covered her mouth so she wouldn’t be heard. There was no reaction.  Nothing stirred from behind the newspaper.

Good. He didn’t hear me.

It was an odd sight. As she looked closer at her seatmate, she noticed the newspaper was upside down. As a matter of fact, it was a bit yellowed and crinkly and the front of it had a headline about the fire from two years ago.

Yep. That’s a two year old newspaper. What’s that all about?

It was his left hand she noticed next. His fingers were long and slender. There were no rings or no signs of any ring ever being on the fingers. His hands were wrinkled but his nails were immaculate. They were buffed shiny and filed to perfection. There were perfect little slivers of moon at each tip. But as she looked closer the slivers weren’t all the same size. A crescent started with the littlest fingernail and they grew larger with each finger. She couldn’t see his thumb, but she was almost positive it would be a full moon. She glanced to the right hand. It was gloved.

That’s odd.

Back to the other hand she marveled at the grace of his hand. It seemed kind and wise. It was a beautiful hand.

Wow. I bet he never bites his nails.

She looked at hers. There was a hangnail she missed earlier in the day. She bit it off.

That’s better.

Pure white stiff cuffs ringed his wrists. They were spotless and crisp. They were a little large, but she remembered her grandfather’s shirts. He had long arms and need special shirts tailored to his length. And they always seemed to make their way out from under his jacket sleeves. Her eyes continued up his arm.  A dark suit started where the cuff met the sleeve and worked its way up and behind the newspaper. She traced back down. A sparkle caught her eyes.

Yep. He has cufflinks. Wow.

They were gold with large sparkly red stones.

Could those be real rubies?

Her eyes looked up above the newspaper and saw only the top of his hat, a man’s hat. A business man’s hat like her grandfather’s. It was dark black, rounded on top with a thin black ribbon running around it. She couldn’t quite see the rim, but it had to be a bowler. It bobbled as if the hat was reading the paper and reacting to upside down news that was two years old.

I better get to work. We’re getting close.

They were sitting in the back, the last seats. Her back was blocked by the plexiglass wall covered with transit information. The man and his newspaper would cover the rest.

Quiet now, Claire. Don’t let anyone see.

Outside the window transformer lines clicked by. They were getting close.

Claire reached inside her coat and pulled out the item that would make all the difference. She carefully bent her head down. She glanced down the aisle and could see the tunnel looming. She didn’t like the dark and was sure the others in the bus would appreciate what she was about to do for them.

Her fingers knew exactly what to do. They slid the neon wig into place and with a push of a hidden button in the seam near her ear it began to glow an electric blue just at the perfect time. The bus faded into the tunnel and with rush hour traffic clogging the roads, the entire back of the bus would be lit up for the next ten minutes.

It’s crooked.

What?

The man with the beautiful hand and bowler hat didn’t move the paper. But in the neon light Claire could now see two glowy eyes looking at her from holes that had been carefully sculpted in the two-year-old yellow newspaper at exactly the perfect spot. They could not be seen in regular light, but in her neon glow she could see that the man with the beautiful hand and bowler hat could see everything that was going on.

She adjusted the wig.

Thank you.

You’re welcome?

Claire stared at the holes and tugged on it once more.

Too much.

What?

Too much.

Oh. Okay.

Another slight tug avoided frustration on the part of the man with the beautiful hand and bowler hat.

That’s better.

Thank you?

You’re welcome.

No one noticed Claire’s neon glow from the back of the bus.

No one notice the man with the beautiful hand and bowler hat.

And that’s what happens in the city.

Author’s Note:

Thursday Afternoon Writers met this afternoon. Tonight we each added words to our prompts and each of us wrote with a unique set of words and opening lines.

My words: Zebra.  Frustration.  Turquoise. Transformer. Neon wig – electric blue.

My opening Line: She opened her backpack and shook the contents onto the floor.

And I found the perfect image simply from a Google search!

The Bundle

Our writing group met this week. Silliness was afoot. This is what we needed so desperately this week. Thank you, Thursday Afternoon Writers, for help keeping me sane.

My opening line chosen at random: “Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing

All of us were challenged to use these words: Ire. Spellbinding. Small. Advantage. Trickster

 

The Bundle

“Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing.

I started the poem over and over for the last hour and a half. It had devolved into this:

“Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing.

Spellbinding words? Nope.

I could feel ire building. Usually, I can come up with something, but today was not that day.

I was writing at the coffee shop next to the park. I sat by the window even though it was cold outside. On top of that, the door opened every few minutes to blow its arctic breath across my back. I have no idea why I didn’t move. I guess it was in the stars that this would be my place for the day. Prophetic? Maybe.

It snowed the night before and there was fog. How could there be fog? Wasn’t fog supposed to happen when it was warm and then moisture and then some cold? The weather app said it was going to be forty degrees. Right.

“Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing.”

There is was again. It was like a bad song you can’t get out of your head. You know when you pass the preschool and they are singing about a llama in pajamas and then you end up singing about that llama and its pajamas all day long? And the librarian shushes you, and the lady in line at the grocery store gives you a weird look, and you wake up in the middle of the night and take a shower to hoping to wash that llama in pajamas right out of your hair and down the drain? Yeah, that kind of song.

“Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing.

My nerves were getting a bit frayed and my third cup of coffee wasn’t helping.

The door opened again but this time a strong wind blew it all the way open, and what looked like a small brown bundle about the size of a large garbage bag rolled away from the opening into the street.

What was that? The door shut slowly. No one was standing there to open it or shut it. Did that thing open the door? I watched the bundle.

A car slid around it in an attempt to avoid it and ended up hitting the bench across the street. I could only sit there looking out the window and watch as if the wind had frozen me solid. People ran from the surrounding shops and some trudged through the snow from the park toward the bench, then past the car to where the bundle sat. They almost completely encircled the bundle, which now was motionless in the middle of the road. Luckily, I guess it was luck, people left an opening on my side so I had the perfect viewing of the small brown bundle.

A woman was helped out of the car.  She seemed okay as she stumbled towards the bundle, but it was the bundle everyone had their eyes on. First, it started to wiggle. Then an arm, then another, stretched themselves out from the rounded blob. As if they were on springs, two legs popped out and stretched just as the arms had done. We all just stared, even the woman from the car.

At last a head curled up from the top of the small bundle. It looked up and now it  seemed to resemble a person. Rolling from side to side until it righted itself, it stood up and walked back to the door of the coffee shop.

No one said anything. I couldn’t see its face. I could only make out a long scarf that was wrapped tightly around the neck and head leaving a slit for two small eyes. They peered at the door. Mittened hands and booted feet hid anything else that would have given us more details as to what was inside the small brown bundle.

It waddled with a slight limp. Someone ran to the door to hold it open and with a bit of a nod of thanks the bundle entered the coffee shop and began to look around. The bundle had a purpose, looking for someone or something it knew it needed to find.

As the head swiveled around stopping for a slight pause at each person, heads lined up along the outside of the window staring in at the bundle, steaming up the glass with their moist warm breath and freezing it into a frosted pane, eventually hiding their faces behind a curtain of patterned ice crystals.

The bundle turned with what seemed like straight legged stomps and its slitted eyes rested on mine. Mine!

Did I know what creature lurked inside the three foot brown bundle? Did it know me? Would this trickster take me on a journey to places to where I had never dreamed?

I watched as heads peeled themselves away from the window and went about their day. A police car pulled up to aid the woman and her now crunched front end. And as I turned back to find where the bundle has situated itself, there was no one left inside the coffee shop but myself, one barista, and the small brown bundle.

I was still seated as the bundle waddled up to the empty chair at my table, pull it out with its mittened hand and heaved itself up onto the seat, standing on top of the brown hardwood with brown booted feet.

I noticed I was holding my breath. I think I was afraid to breathe. I let it out and as I inhaled once more I watched as it’s eyes watched mine. The mittened hand began to unwind the rainbow colored scarf from around its head and neck.

Wait a minute. Had its changed colors since it walked into the warm? Wasn’t it brown when it was outside? I noticed the rainbow hued painting hanging on the wall behind what was once the small brown bundle, now a rainbow hued bundle. Was it my imagination, or did it do a chameleon thing and change to match its surroundings?

The scarf was long, longer than one could imagine. It unwound again and again and again until it was a heap on the floor almost as high as the tabletop. All that was left was a head covered in a rat’s nest of dirty golden hair, still with just a slit for the eyes to look through. The small rainbow bundle’s mittened hands made an opening through the hair where its mouth should be. In the stillness of the the coffee shop where I had once found solace to write, the bundle cleared its mucousy throat.

And what sounded like a voice that had not been in use for a long time, maybe forever, scratchy and tiny, came the words that had haunted my day,

“Sing, lover, sing!” How embarrassing.

Circles

Mother Tree

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Circle One
Mother Tree whose roots wind below
next to stream and under playground,
tall with branches lifting sky,
rough bark protection against all that is harmful.
And her eye, where branch once connected,
now sit stones placed by me,
an eye that sees and from which drips
water of her being, tears of joy,
of pain, of love as needed.

In all seasons standing tall and strong
bending in wind, there for me always,
soft padded ground as in great redwood forests,
a playground for innocence.

I am welcomed, at home, at peace, I am enough.

Circle Two
I want to learn to speak the language of Mother Tree,
the one who stands strong and bold,
yet allows season storms to pass.
She bears the burden but doesn’t break.
She abides to show me movement round her,
but she, she listens. She shades.
She grows deep roots to hold to Earth.
She feeds the world with herself without noise,
without moving, without having, without collecting,
just being. She speaks the language of ancestors past
and those who will come, without saying a word,
just being who she is and how she has been created.

Her language has no words, I listen and learn from her.
I learn from her just being – her bark, her leaves,
her roots, her eye, her branches,
her compost made from what falls away to nourish new growth.
She is stalwart, yet flexible. She comes from the past and
will live in the future, not as this one tree,
but growing new from her wisdom.

Circle 3
Mother Tree in me knows that I am whole.
I come from the past and I will be eternal.
Her branches grow through my trunk and into my arms,
in all of me…me, and I touch the sky.
Her roots go down my legs and through my feet
and I am grounded not just to topsoil,
but deep below and far and wide my roots will grow.

I, too, am strong, no need to prove.
I can be rough to protect, yet soft inside to cradle.
I can see with compassion and wait,
listen and be there for the innocents
who come to me, including myself.
I can welcome and give rest.
I can be the maypole dance of celebration.
This is Mother Tree inside of me.

This I notice…
I am connected to all and all to me.
I am perfect and have no need to prove myself.
What I am and what I do, is all that I need.

 

Author’s Note:
I am taking a wonderful course this Solstice hosted by Amber Kuileimailani Bonnici called Woman Un-Leashed. It is a free on-line retreat featuring some of the most wonderful goddesses to bless this earth. The above poem came from work with Mary Reynolds Thompson who took us through three circles of self.

What a joy to be able to move through this season in a deeply creative way that speaks to my soul.

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Bye Bye Love

There was a full moon that night. There was always a full moon now.

It began simply enough.

Who knew that moving the kitchen table, just a slight angle so she could look out the window, not one direction but three, would make the difference.

There was a new table cloth, too. After thirteen years, she was ready to look out from a different angle, a new light.

Yes, new light. The moon was full that night ushering in the Solstice, the turn of the wheel to a new year.

It was dark when she returned home to her new angle to the world. She took solace that after this night, light would grow again. Her feet hurt and her lunch bag was not to be found. She remembered setting it down at the bus stop. Her half-sandwich which she saved for dinner, half an apple, too, gone.

She had little energy to muster. All she could do was crack open the kitchen window and sit at the table to look out. First left. Then right. Finally, settling on center as a small glow above Hank’s house caught her eye. She didn’t move. For the next hour the wheel turned slowly as the moon in her fullness rose above the house, trees silhouetting a figure. Crow kept her company this evening.

The moon was full that night.

“Hey! Rosewood! Where ya been?” A voice bellowed out of the dark. With ruffled feathers, crow rose above the tree top and disappeared as the tall, lanky figure emerged.

Rose let out a sigh. The evening would now be given over to Hank. And his beer.

“Hi, Hank.”

“Mind if I rest for a few?”

These were words of ceremony.  First, Hank announcing his arrival. Her reply. Then his request, which no longer waited for approval.

Rose opened the door and Hank made himself comfortable.

Rosewood.

Each time Hank called her that, her feathers ruffled a bit. It’s not that she didn’t like Hank’s nickname for her. She just didn’t like his bold intimacy. He inserted Rosewood into their conversation the first time they met. Usually, nicknames were shortened versions of a cumbersome title. Rosewood was complex and stronger than just Rose. She never knew a Rosewood. She was named after her grandmother, an nostalgic name, a soft and feminine name. But it made her feel old and vulnerable. Rosewood suited her.

Hank took a sip from his beer and set it down on the table. He was gruff, but funny. He stayed too long most of the time. But he would do anything for her, if she just would ask. But she never asked.

Tonight with the full moon, she wanted to bathe in its glow. Alone.

“How are you, Hank?”

From behind him, Hank pulled out a bottle for her. He placed it just so in front of her as if he was presenting her with an award. It wasn’t a beer, but a clear liquid in a lovely bottle. Blue lettering in cursive. No graphics. Elegant. Hank enjoyed a bit of gin, too.

“It’s the one I told you about. Leopold’s Summer Gin. Batch #2. The one with that flower…immortal?”

“Oh, yes, immortelle, helichrysum.”

“Yeah that’s the one. I told you I’d find you a bottle. There aren’t anymore left in town. It was a small batch. I got the last one.”

She and Hank were an odd couple, if couple was the right term. He was as much of a connoisseur of beer and an occasional gin as she was with herbs in her garden. Who would know that the two would cross and make sense? But they did.

Hank turned on Pandora. He knew what Rose liked but always started with his channel.

“Bye bye happiness. Hello, loneliness. I think I’m gonna cry…” trailed out of the speakers, through the kitchen window following the trail of the moon as it made its way across the sky and back down again. They sipped gin straight with a bit of ice and talked for hours about nothing, but mostly about everything that made them two of a kind…

And yet, so separate that Hank gathered a blanket and gently covered Rosewood curled up on the couch as he locked the door behind him.

There was a full moon that night. There was always a full moon’s glow for Hank and Rosewood.

 
Author’s Note:

Our writing group met last night. We had new members join us and our prompt master was more than masterful.

My luck of the draw’s image and opening line was: There was a full moon that night; there was always a full moon now.

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I do not have an attribution for either images or the prompt. If anyone knows, please let me know!