Where the One Eyed Man is King

Just read a snippet about the expression “where the one-eyed man is king” which seems relevant for the times.  This album came to mind.  It’s lovely, especially when pondering things or making art…..

Yesterday was the complex holiday of Thanks-Giving – complex due to the whitewashed narratives of our childhoods (read Pilgrims and Indians and all of that).  Add the further complexities of this strange year to the mix – folks home eating alone or with not enough to eat, or opting out of gatherings altogether, or choosing to have gatherings anyway, regardless.  It’s just complex no matter how we slice it.  Thankfully my family had had our larger scale get-together back in October before things got out of hand with the virus and we all kept ourselves to ourselves this holiday with a zoom conversation late morning over coffee (and maybe a bit o’ Bailey’s too).

It was good to see everyone though I can sense the weariness in all of us.

To be honest, the quietude of the day was just fine by me really.  I’m often griping this time of year that I’d rather be hibernating than socializing and this year is our chance.  Our meal was thoughtful and well made, most things from scratch.  Since we weren’t cooking for a crowd, we could take time and care in a different way.  It was really quite lovely actually.

As the evening wore on, we kept in touch with the kids, providing back up advice to them and their households as they navigated their first Thanksgiving away from the nest.  It was bitter sweet.  They seem to have a new appreciation for everything that goes into a well-crafted holiday meal.

It wasn’t just blood-family touching base throughout the day either, but friend-family too.  Heart-family.  A text from a dear one in California with an old Irish saying:

“Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine” 

which basically means ‘we live in the shelter of one another’, or more specifically translated, “we live in each other’s shadows”.  Protecting one another, in need of one another’s company and presence.  I could not agree more.   And then, a  sweet text from Ireland with video of the kids wishing their American friends a happy Thanksgiving.  My Taos based adopted family sent along their wishes as well.  We traded texted views of home-based natural life, as we often do through out the year.  Their mountain views to our hollers.  A heart-felt exchange of worlds colliding.  I am so grateful for all of it.

Eventually, we finished the pie and the washing-up over a Tune Supply concert that once again reminded me of the thing I will jump head-first most into once this is all over – music.  I am deeply missing that camaraderie.

For now, solo practicing and babbling brooks must suffice.

Today, as is our tradition, we avoided any of the “Black Friday” madness (not even sure if that is on this year?) and took to the woods.  Only the two of us, and currently dog-less*, it was quiet but beautiful.  We took our time to capture photos, study mosses and mushrooms and simply enjoy the splendor of a lovely day.

*Charlie doesn’t come on longer hikes, which renders us dog-less when in the woods.  

Muted autumn colors and horizons, Ohio style.
In which we all tuck in under a blanket for the season.

Shroomy faerie-land treasures thanks to recent rains and mild weather.

Like an other-worldly jewel.

The view up the holler.
Bogard, ‘not throwin’ away his shot.’

Though not a scientist, I have a soft spot for the mosses. I like their approach to time and reproduction, among other things.

It was wonderful to get out into the countryside today.  I’ve had our local hollers on my mind lately.  This time of year I often think of my grandparents and all of our old holidays up with them in Middletown, just north of here.  Middletown is a bit of a curiosity lately with the Hillbilly Elegy movie hitting the streams.  I loathed the book when it launched and will likely choose not to view the movie (much as I admire the work of those involved in this project).  I find I get my hackles up over the writing of JD Vance and would rather folks be reading Elizabeth Catte’s What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia if they are curious about this great swath of the country.  I suppose I don’t appreciate the one-faceted view of folks in general and more specifically, those facing the challenges of poverty.  There is so much more to Appalachia than meets the eye.  Much like most of the rest of humanity.

The tide seems to be finally turning on the current president, and I am counting the days until we are back on an even keel with a leader who seems to even want the job.  But I know our work as a country is only just beginning.  As we drive around to the quiet wild places here in our own back yard, we are confronted with our political opposites.  How do we get folks from such opposite ends of the political spectrum to see the light in one another?

We are all lit from within, like jewels in the autumnal countryside

Seamus Heaney wrote a poem called Whatever You Say, Say Nothingwhich is exactly what we do here a good bit of the time.  Perhaps that’s part of what got us to where we are today, so divided and deconstructed.

Perhaps we should all just go for a hike together when this virus is all said and done, to go out looking for spectacular mushrooms and mosses and figure things out in a more thoughtful way.

Perhaps.

 

 

 

Gifts and Gratitude

It’s a quiet Day of Thanks here in our little Spring Valley.  Just two of us humans and one little dog.  But we are well and soon to be well-fed all, and for this alone I am deeply grateful.

These last weeks and months have been such a wild ride, between a contentious election and this virus gone haywire.  I walk my anxieties away best I can in the early hours of morning.  Birds and trees as my constant companions.

I hope that you are finding some peace amidst the madness and sadness.  These are grief-filled times indeed.  But we must keep a forward momentum and do the things which make our heart sing.

Wherever you are, whatever state you are in, I wish you the best this day can offer.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

 

 

The Deadly Buzz *

In spite of a world gone mad, and all the news that’s fit to print, We are working day to day to tame the new reeds in our musical family – the DRONES.  To me the drones are an underpinning of that piping sound.  When everything is tuned correctly and working together, magic can happen.  Perhaps our democracy could learn something from this concept, yes?

Here’s the process video of the drawing today….

****** If you want to hear the buzz of the pipes in near perfection, check out the album Deadly Buzz by….

 Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh & Mick O’Brien

Today’s title is a nod to their genius.  Enjoy!!

 

The mess we’re in

“We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust…”

~Albert Camus (via Maria Popova of @brainpickings)

Life is messy.  Birth is messy.  Democracy, equally so.  We must choose the mess in which we live really.

Outside my window, I can hear the soundtrack to an Ohio autumn – an  endless hum of gas-powered leaf blowers in the distance.  It’s maddening.  I think about how one person’s version of ‘messy’ is so different from another’s.   My grandfather had some cottonwood trees in his yard with whom he battled.  They would scatter their seed with hopes for new beginnings in another yard elsewhere, and my grandfather would sweep them out of his little space, grumbling all along about how ‘messy’ they were, to his eyes at least.

Here in our little village we are blessed with much space, big trees too, which grew here before the village did.  So many of my neighbors employ gas blowers to gather the ‘mess’ that autumnal droppings bring, while we (in the minority) mostly leave them lie where they land.  Where my neighbors see a mess, we see possibility – a place where next season’s moths might grow and hatch, as one small but important example.

Last night I watched (and celebrated with a ‘wee dram’) the speeches of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden as they acknowledged what our sitting president has, as yet, refused to – the fact that they are the President-Elect and Vice President-Elect of the United States of America.  It was an historic moment and I wept through most of it.  Harris represents the hopes and vision of generations of women who worked for women to have a voice at the table.

It was, indeed a lovely moment.  And we are right to celebrate the ousting of such a vile representation of ourselves.  But here’s the thing, these last four years ARE a representation of ourselves.  We might not want to admit it, but there it is.  I live and love here in Ohio where I am consistently confronted with folks whom I consider to represent the very underbelly of this great nation.  But the concepts these people represent and fight for are the very things our country was built upon.  We have so much to unpack as a nation.  I feel like we are finally beginning to at least talk about the elephant in the room.  It’s a start.  And it’s a start that Kamala Harris is in now the VP-elect.  It’s a start that  an old white guy chose her as his running mate.  These are all good things.  And last night, I slept the sleep of the unburdened for the first time in perhaps four years.

Many of my friends and loved ones posted about feeling like they could breathe easy once more.  I felt (and posted) the same.  It’s not lost on me that metaphorically, this is poignant.  In an era of George Floyd and Covid, the ousting of the very representation of the worst side of ourselves gives us space in which to breathe again, at least for the moment.  But there is work to do.

We must climb into some semblance of heart space and tuck in for a good long winter’s resting.

We must awaken with fresh eyes at what is in store.  We mustn’t look away.  A couple of people dear to me have recently stated something to the effect of:

‘ I plan to just hide my head in the sand until this is all over. ‘

This is not a good plan, for one will only drown sooner.

Perhaps better to confront the demons that built us.  To show up with kindness in the face of great challenge.  To avoid any gloating or shaming of ‘the other side’ and instead seek to know what brought them to that dark space in the first place.

This may sound preachy.  But remember, I really only write here to suss out my own feelings.  I have people in my direct daily or weekly contact in my life who feel this election now as I did four years ago – like the world is going to hell in a hand cart and that all is lost in this young country.  But unlike their response to my sadness four years ago, I have no desire to wallow in their despair.  I merely want to get through to the next chapter on this planet with out killing ourselves in the process.  This will take all hands on deck.

Yesterday we took the afternoon to attend a foraging class at the Cincinnati Nature Center.  I could sense that at least a few of our fellow foragers were folks not on the same political train as we were.  It was pouring off of them like smoke.

But we foraged together anyway, averting conversation of anything besides the juniper berries at hand.  Honestly, had it come up and been a point of contention, I was not ready to pat the back of anyone disappointed in the results of the election.  That said, I also had no intention of being as cruel about it all as the vitriol I’d experienced four years ago.  And so we foraged.

We learned about distilling the flavor found in this native tree.

simple syrup with juniper berries, which aren’t really berries but rather tiny pine cones. it was delicious!
goat cheese coated with juniper ash. a strange and new flavor to me. I am intrigued to give it a go on our own!

Later that evening, T and I took turns doodling the little dishes of these tiny berries over a beer.

“We are our choices.”  ~J. P. Sartre

The world at large celebrated with us as the news traveled yesterday.  Bells were rung, songs were sung, leaders reached out to the effect of  “welcome back, America.”  It is this more than anything that leads me to believe that I am on the right side of history.  That we will look back at the trump years as a dark era indeed.  It is my hope that people hoodwinked by his way of thinking might come along for the ride, but we shall see.

Today, my body is weary from four years of a trump presidency, but at least I slept well.  I am keen to reclaim a hold on my inner-knowing a bit now that the noise of a constant, top-down gaslighting is to end soon.  I am working to pivot my working life inward toward the studio in order to better weather the financial storm of this pandemic.  I want to keep learning music, to knit more.  And, as part of all of this, I want to work for a better future for the planet.  With Biden and Harris in office, this feels more doable than it did just a few days ago.

And, for now, today on this lovely day, I’m gonna go have a few tunes.

Wishing you all well.  Let us go gently into the liminal months ahead of us……

 

 

 

Ciúin

Yesterday evening I took a break from breaking news.  (not news at all really, more like a collective zoom-based anxiety rave bent on driving us all insane as we wait, feigning a patience we do not feel.)  In the darkness, (’tis the season, what with the time change)  Charlie and I ambled quietly up the drive after her evening meal.

“Ciúin”  (Irish for ‘quiet’)

It was quiet, but for a couple of owls hooting to one another in the trees.

Quiet.

Any bit of true quiet feels like a miracle these days, noise of current events occupying mind and even heart of late. I find my little doses of quiet in these small moments – an evening meander with the dog, a morning wander around the village to put the moon to bed.  I’ve come to treasure these times.

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

~Mary Oliver

Charlie snoozes in early morning moonlight. I get up to walk my miles. She doesn’t move an inch.
Friends, it’s okay to say Hello.
It will likely help us, and we do not do so alone. I also believe God greets us as we greet our days.
Neither I nor the poets I love have found the keys to the kingdom of prayer,
And we cannot force God to stumble over us where we sit,
But.
I know that it’s a good idea to sit anyway.
So every morning, I sit, I kneel, waiting,
making friends with the habit of listening,
hoping that I am being listened to. . .
There, I greet God and my own disorder.
I say Hello
to my chaos,
my unmade decisions,
my unmade bed,
my desire and my trouble.
I say Hello
to distraction and privilege.
I recognize and greet
my burdens,
my luck,
my controlled and uncontrollable story.
I greet
my untold stories,
my unfolding story,
my unloved body,
my own love,
my own body.
I greet
the things I think will happen,
and I say Hello to everything I do not know about the day.
I greet
my own small world,
and I hope that I can meet the bigger world that day.
I greet
my story,
and hope that I can forget my story during the day,
and hope that I can hear some stories,
and greet some surprising stories during the long day ahead.
I greet God,
and I greet the God Who is More God than the God I greet,
Hello to you all, I say,
as the sun rises above the chimneys of North Belfast.
Hello.
~Pádraig Ó Tuama
As I write this little missive, the democratic process continues to play out and unfold here in this country.  The other day I awoke especially early to play my small part in that unfolding, volunteering at the polls to hand out democratic slate cards on some shifts, and refreshments to all voters on other shifts.  The goodness of donuts and hot cocoa are something both sides of the political equation can agree on. 
Perhaps. 

It was a hopeful day.  A day of feeling like, no matter the outcome, I was doing my part (and had been for much of this election cycle, I should tell you).

It was cold that morning!!!
Mae Mae is a lovely dog who stopped by to check on things.  Her handler was there to help at the Caring Place.

One of my shifts happened to coincide with pick-up day at a local food pantry held at the same location as this particular voting precinct.  It was very interesting to me that the very outcome of this election would hold sway on whether people would or would not have to rely on community support merely to have food to eat.  One woman, both voting AND picking up food, said she relies on the food pantry because between food and her prescription medicines, she has to choose the medicines.  My heart broke.  Another lovely fella stopped in, also to vote as well as to pick up supplies.  He had a large roller  bag suitcase with him to carry what he needed.  He had recently become homeless.

I offered him a donut.

When my sister and I were kids and my mom was a newly divorced single mom struggling to make ends meet, we were, for a time, on food stamps.  I was young and don’t remember too much about the specifics but I tell you this as a snapshot of explanation for my left-leaning, take care of folks when they can’t take care of themselves, kindness-driven view on government.  People struggle.  This is a great truth of humanity.

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
~Maggie Smith
Photo by Maine photographer Peter Ralston. Originally posted in the amazing newsletter offering of Heather Cox Richardson. Her writing is an informed balm to the soul each day.

I’d be lying if I said I was thrilled about the outcome of this election over all.  I had hoped that more people would see through the chaos of the last four years and would see that the Grand Old Party is simply not there for the regular citizen of the good ol’ U. S. of A.  Instead, I am disappointed that nearly half the country is willing to witness an experience another Trump term.  This is where we stand.  In all likelihood, we will see a Biden presidency presiding over a minority rule.  It’s not a total loss, of course it’s not.  There is much to celebrate!

How to move forward?  A big issue for me is climate change and I am figuring out how to be of service to bring this concept  into the collective light more fully.  After all, these changes will affect EVERYTHING in the very near future, in fact have already begun to do so.  We have a lot of work to do.

But first, for now, should things play out as they seem to be headed…..

We take a deep breath.  We drink medicinal teas complete with tinctures  (and possibly some bourbon this evening) to ease our anxieties.  We shed some long over due stress tears.  We listen with hope to someone who might be able to provide unity in our divided land.  Democrats should waste no time in appointing Stacey Abrams as their new leader to forge a new path – a path that speaks for everyone.  We as a country must learn to slow down and really see each other, person to person.  We must do some difficult soul searching and come to a reckoning with ourselves and with one another.  It is my hope we get this opportunity.

But, like so many – around the world even – I wait.

Just be quiet and patient.
Let evil and unpleasantness pass quietly over you.
Do not try to avoid them.
On the contrary, observe them carefully.
Let active understanding take the place of reflex irritation, and you will grow out of your trouble. People can achieve greatness only by surmounting their own littleness.
The main thing is not to hurry.
Nothing good gets away.
Patience is the master key to every situation.
One must have sympathy for everything, surrender to everything, but at the same time remain patient and forbearing…
There is no such thing as bending or breaking.
It’s a question only of overcoming, which begins with overcoming oneself.
That cannot be avoided.
To abandon that path is always to break in pieces.
One must patiently accept everything and let it grow within oneself.
The barriers of the fear-ridden can only be broken by love.
One must, in the dead leaves that rustle around one, already see the young fresh green of spring, compose oneself in patience, and wait.
Patience is the only true foundation on which to make one’s dreams come true.
— Franz Kafka
Meanwhile, like so many things during this strange era in which we find ourselves, there is a juxtaposing personal angle to this concept of waiting and patience.  We are officially looking for a new dog to welcome home to us.  I’ve put some heeler-feelers out and have filled out some forms to local rescues.  We have a bit of house work and building beginning next week here and the pup will hopefully arrive as that process ends sometime in December.  We shall see.  We don’t have an actual, specific dog in mind.  But we have narrowed to a blue heeler girl dog if we can find one.  I can just about picture her in my mind….
As we navigate these uncertain times, may we find moments of stillness, moments of joy amidst the seemingly overwhelming largesse of the world just now.  Yes, things are hard.  But there are dogs in the world.
And maybe, just maybe………..eventually…………..a new path forward.
Yours in patience and quietude,
Amy