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Day 2 of My Writer’s Retreat

Annice
Annice

Day two of my writer’s retreat.  Well, that’s what I’m calling it even though it’s not exactly what I planned.  I was supposed to go to Bowers House, a Writers Retreat and Literary Center in Georgia, but given that my husband is still recovering from major back surgery, I felt uncomfortable being so far away – just in case.  So, feeling deprived and sorry for myself, I decided to take the week off anyway and just write at home.

It’s not that I can’t write at home, I do it all the time, but I also do the laundry, organize drawers, clean the closets, clip my dog’s nails – you get the drift.  Did I say I also check my kitchen cupboards to see if all my exotic spices are still in the house just in case I get inspired to make an amazing Indian dish?

While I was gearing up for my make-do “retreat,” my writing mentor and dear friend, Peggy, was going out of town to visit her children the exact week I had to cancel Bowers House.  I know Peggy’s place because my writer’s group meets there every other Tuesday.  It’s only ten minutes from my house but it feels like miles and miles away.  It’s quiet, serene, with cream colored furniture, and best of all there is Gracie,  her pure white cat who thinks she’s a dog.

Gracie
Gracie

Wouldn’t Gracie need someone to take care of her?  Yes she would.  What an amazing swap.  I get to write at Peggy’s place all day and leave when I’m ready.  So far, I’ve been going around 10:00 and returning around 7:00. Gracie is happy and I’m ecstatic.  In two days, I’ve revised 12 chapters, and hopefully, I can finish all 25 of them by the end of the week.

In addition, I have given up all household chores, including cooking, so we’re either eating out or bringing in, and the only thing I do in the morning before I leave is walk Terra, our dog.

Oh yeah, look at this little jewel I see in the morning.  A dove has decided to build a nest in a planter near Peggy’s front door.  I’ve watched it grow in just two days.  What a perfect metaphor for my writer’s retreat!

Creating a Nest
Creating a Nest

The Enlightened Poppy

Oriental Poppy Stand
Oriental Poppy Stand

 

I wait and watch every spring to see where the poppies will appear.  No, not the Oriental Poppies (pictured) because as we all know, they come up from the same basal root year after year. I must say that this year they are putting on a spectacular show, and as a poppy lover I am just thrilled!  I know this is not the first post I’ve written about my poppy joy, but I just can’t help it.  They don’t last long, and they are so beautiful.  It’s a good thing I didn’t have any children, because I am sure I would have named them “Poppy Joy”, “Oriental Poppy”, and/or “Opium”.

That sense of excitement of not-knowing is only attributed to the “Breadseed Poppy”, because those are the ones that come up from seed…here, there, or someplace else.  And they are all about to open!  I always find them coming up in my garden beds someplace different every year, and I like that because it is kind of crazy and not expected.  I can remember back in 1994 (hey that’s 20 years ago) when I made my first garden in Switzerland, it was so very neat and lovely with flowers all around the edges.  Along with getting older and letting-go of so many things in my life (including that perfect order in my beds), I kind of let the garden have its own life, with me just giving water, some food, and some tilling (oh, I almost forgot the weeding part, which I call “yoga”).  I just planted some blue bachelor button seeds in one of the beds, just because I love the color “blue”.

There is one poppy coming up and about to open in the next day or so right under the chicken run.  I don’t know what color it will be, but how I love surprises!  I saw it coming up under the flowering quince bush a few weeks ago and had to clip back some of the branches so that that one poppy will be able to get the sun it needs to open.  I hope I can get a good shot of it with my camera, because I am sure you will want to see it as much as I do.

Oriental Poppy
Oriental Poppy

 

Already we are around 15 inches or so under the amount of rain of what we had last year at this time – so far so good.  After last year’s sad 70+ inches of rain, my gardener’s heart almost broke in two, but once you have the experience of smelling the witch hazel, the lilac, the rose-scented daffodils, and the calycanthus after winter, and just seeing the flowers, the roses, the peonies, and then tasting the basil, the lettuces, the cucumbers, the parsley, the cilantro, the gooseberries, the raspberries, the swiss chard, the beets, the mints, the carrots, the roses, the peonies, and of course, the beloved tomato right off the vine, well, how could there not be a garden in my life, even if I get old and can’t move very well.  It is absolutely essential for me to anticipate joy in my daily life, and that is what a garden brings to me.

In Love,

Sadhvi

Seeing beauty in a flower could awaken humans, however briefly, to the beauty that is an essential part of their own innermost being, their true nature. The first recognition of beauty was one of the most significant events in the evolution of human consciousness. The feelings of joy and love are intrinsically connected to that recognition. Without fully realizing it, flowers would become for us an expression in form of that which is most high, most sacred, and ultimately formless within ourselves. Flowers, more fleeting, more ethereal, and more delicate than the plants out of which they emerged, would become like messengers from another realm, like a bridge between the world of physical forms and the formless. They not only had a scent that was delicate and pleasing to humans, but also brought a fragrance from the realm of spirit. Using the word ‘enlightenment’ in a wider sense than the conventionally accepted one, we could look upon flowers as the enlightenment of plants.  — “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle

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Red Poppy
Red Poppy

I’m Beginning to Feel Old

SADHVI
SADHVI

I have not felt like sharing much in the last month or so…not on FB, not on Instagram, not on Google+, not on nothing.  How about you?  You don’t have to answer that, I was just being facetious.

Lately, I hear the word “awesome” being used to describe just about every feeling, item of food, and life situation that one can experience.  And the other day, I heard my first “Super-Awesome!”, which is how the women behind the counter described a tea-towel with hand-stamped chickens on it.  I mean, it was nice, but it was not “Super-Awesome”!

Maybe it’s the equivalet of the word “Cool” that we used to describe everthing back in the day.  There was not, however, so much positive and prozac-y emotion put into it, and frankly, it makes uncomfortable.

If my generation was low-key, this one is high-strung and often, not there, but still “awesome”.

I am easily annoyed these days, and I think it has something to do with the fact that everything seems to be changing so much.

For instance, I used to enjoy being greeted by salespeople, and to start interacting with them in a fun, easy-going way.  But no one does that these days.  The new way to interact is through “social media”, which to me, is just another way for company’s to sell gadgets, devices, and toy’s to the masses.  That’s about all it is about, really.  We are just consumers in the end, playing “awesome” games, and being hooked to our TV’s iPads, mini iPad’s, smartphones, and sharing everything we got via FB.

I guess I miss relating in the way that satisfied me way back when: in person, on the phone, or in a letter.  Yeah, I am getting old.

I do talk to a lot of younger people, and I am always amused when I hear them say they are “getting off of the gadget thing”, or, “nah, I don’t do FaceBook anymore”, as if they are drugs, which of course, they are.

Despite all the changes and Grand-T conjuctions, and the U.N. saying that it’s either clean up the planet or die, well, I do take time to feel grateful for things in my life, as crazy as it feels to me.

If nothing else, it makes me feel more vulnerable and small and human.  And since I don’t have to worry about going over my minutes, or recharging my device to feel that, I like it.  In fact, it’s awesome. 🙂

Take a look at the video…try it, you’ll like it.

Sharon Is Definitely Not Done Yet –Read All About It!

Sharon Willen
Sharon Willen

I must confess, when this book Not Done Yet:  A Tale of Transformation Through Transplant Surgery was first brought to my attention, I felt a bit of trepidation, the trepidation that comes from social responsibility.  After all, the writer was a neighbor, and reviewing it would be a neighborly thing to do.  I thought, “Well, what’s the harm in a short read, a quick compliment, then back to the bedroom for a short nap?”  Well, it didn’t turn out quite that way.

As sordid as the subject matter may appear on the surface (a tale of  transformation through transplant surgery), the author, Sharon Lamhut Willen, handles it in amazing fashion.  The book made me cry, but it also made me laugh:  a hard thing to do when writing about our health care system in this country on a social level and about the incredible personal angst one must feel when dealing with the imminent failure of one’s vital organ.

So many rules and regulations, so many forms to file…a forest so thick there seemed no path through it.  Yet the grace, strength, and most importantly, the spiritual faith Sharon brought to the battle won her the victory.  The ease and eloquence of her writing turned this hard distasteful journey of hers (and her husband’s) into a triumphant mission from which we can all take solace and wonder.

Not Done Yet

Sharon’s story made me revisit my own story.  It made me reflect on how I was handling my own distress, my own disease and dis-ease.  Whether it be my Parkinson’s or just my own reflections on aging itself, I thought about how best to embrace it.  What there is in this book, is validation.  With dedication and diligence, my friend and author found equanimity, and with that tranquility, reaching a near Satori experience in some of her meditations.

And in the end, she proves once again that the love you take is equal to the love you make.  And that love is the balm that eases the pain.  She documents the process in a striking way in some very dramatic circumstances.  She’s made it hard for me to give up, that’s for sure.

Sharon Willen
Sharon Willen

The book reveals a tear-filled wonder into what a truly loving couple can do even under the most dire of circumstances.  In the end, the book is a story of journey, of discovery.  It is not a journey of youthful exuberance about the world, but rather one of an older, wiser, more seasoned toughness.  We travel with the author as she leads us along the way to her entrance of grace, in spite of its ineffable way. This is a book well worth your time.  I will end by saying, I hope to go through the rest of my life with half as much dignity and grace as Sharon has.  

Here is the link to Sharon’s book:

http://www.amazon.com/Not-Done-Yet-Transformation-Transplant/dp/0991298209/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1397683931&sr=1-1

And here is the link to Sharon’s website:  http://sharonwillen.com/

This is Nancy Puetz’s first contribution to our blog, and we are happy to have her!  Welcome, Nancy, and thank you for this review!

Nanci S. Puetz and her family
Nanci S. Puetz
and her family

I’m Getting Sentimental Over You!

Jane On a recent visit with my three sisters (our annual get-together), we got to talking about all sorts of things, including, of course, our children and how quickly they have all grown up.  One sister said the hardest thing for her about having her children grow up is that, in the process, she lost the little people they were at age 2, 4, 6, etc., as if someone came and spirited them away.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I got back from the trip and realizing that there is always a part of me that is half expecting those little ones to show back up, as if they are hiding somewhere in the house.  And thinking about them makes time compress and expand at the same time.

Lizzie and Parker in Roxbury, NY
Lizzie and Parker in Roxbury, NY

If I close my eyes, I can remember Lizzie, our first daughter, tromping into our kitchen in upstate New York in her favorite rubber boots and saying, “I ahna Goo-Koo,” (I want a cookie) or singing her way downstairs in the morning.  Same with Parker, next in line.  I can see him playing Power Rangers with his buddy Max or sitting at the kitchen table with his pirate ship and pirates and doing all the different voices for the various pirates and their enemies.  Becky is often sitting in her high chair (I think I must have left her in there a lot!), smiling at the thought of all the mischief she is cooking up to get her brother or sister to pay attention to her or standing at the bathroom mirror, cutting herself trying to shave her chin with her father’s razor.

Becky
Becky

Josie, the youngest, is always living in some story of her own making, like the millions of worlds she created for her dolls, or like the Madison Avenue world she inhabited one night in the bathroom, washing a hand towel over and over while singing out her version of the ad for OxyClean: “it gets your whites whiter and your bwights bwighter!”

Josie in Asheville
Josie in Asheville

 

So, the memories are vivid, but, if I think about it hard enough, they are not as fresh as I would like them to be.  And sometimes it’s hard to sort out what I really remember from what I have recorded in pictures and videos.  The hard part, I guess, about trying to hold onto memories of your children as little people is that, when they are actually little and getting bigger every day,  every memory is constantly getting replaced with a new one, each time the child does something new and different. (This is why I should have written things down in baby books!)  Before you even have a chance to catch your breath, the two-year-old version of your child is replaced with the three-year-old version, and you’re off and running on a whole new child!  Or, to state it more accurately in terms of how it feels, the two-year-old is replaced with the twenty-six year old version!

The "Men in Black" Christmas Card
The “Men in Black” Christmas Card

One great thing is that I still get glimpses of those earlier children in their new, larger bodies.  Every now and then, one of them will smile or laugh a certain way or turn their head at a certain angle, and there is the three-year-old version of themselves peeking out from behind their eyes or the six-year-old version looking worried and serious.  Same look, new source of worry!

Here’s to all the different versions of my children, in all their glory, including those little people who are hiding somewhere (maybe they will come back as grandchildren?) but especially these wonderful and strange grown-ups now inhabiting my world and saying they came from me and Tom!

Lizzie's Wedding!
Lizzie’s Wedding!