Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Suspiria de Profundis

Thought I was doing okay after climbing out of the Abyss several days ago, but I wasn't paying attention...and fell right into the Slough of Despond.

April.  How this month has tortured me over the years.  Pain and sorrow, death and destruction.  I mentioned to my sister I was going to shut myself up in a cryonic cylinder next year and spend the whole blasted thirty days in frozen, ignorant bliss. After some discussion, we decided--it being April and all--the odds were that the freezing process would probably fail and I would melt away like an ice cube.

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I could sense it coming for a while now, a knowing growing stronger as the weeks and months have sped by.  Lately, there's been an edge to my awareness, a shiver of unease that it's close, just over the horizon and any minute I'll be able to see it...


Over the weekend I realized that it's finally here, waiting over.  I am standing at the crossroads, without a single clue, idea or map to show me the way forward.

It's not the first time I've been here.  No, I've been here at least three times before in my life.  Once I made the biggest mistake ever, another time I made the best decision, and at one crossroad it made no difference which way I went.

But this time, my choice is important, perhaps even crucial.  I'm not twenty with decades to make mistakes and changes; not thirty with a bit of wisdom but not quite enough yet; not forty with old dreams lost and new ones found.  I stand at my present crossroads and hear the echoes of the past, the murmur of future journeys, but instead of feeling excited or joyful...I'm afraid.  What do I want? Where is my place in the world?  Which is the right path?

I have a long list of chores and house-related tasks that I need to take care of over the next few months. They should get me into September and with a wee bit of luck, lots of thinking and meditating, toss in an adventure or two...and I just might be able to figure this out.

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Suspiria de profundis: Sighs from the depths.  And doesn't that pretty much say it all...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

View From A Wednesday

The weather has been typical April: schizo.  Sunday it was mid-80s and I sweltered in my tank top and hippy skirt; yesterday I woke up to snow in the mountains and wild storms all day.  I preferred the latter and am already dreading the onset of what is shaping up to be another long, hot Summer.

I've been on an epic purge around the house these past few weeks, going through all the cupboards, drawers, closets and bookshelves.  It will take me awhile to sort and sift, box and haul away, but I'm a graduate of the school that says if you don't need it/use it/haven't worn it in years, it's time to let go. It's a liberating process, though painful at times too.  I keep running across memories, then I have to stop, make tea or pour whiskey (depending on the memory) and escape into my books. It's good to pare down, get back to the basics, fine tune my world...then I'll be able to see where I stand at the end of it.

In light of epic Spring cleaning, working, reading and/or drinking whatever suits my mood, I don't have much to write about that even resembles interesting, so instead, I picked up my camera...

On the other side of those mountains is the Pacific Ocean, and what storms they must have had at the coast yesterday.  Black clouds rolled over the peaks in waves, followed by bursts of heat and sunshine, then more rain and winds, drenching the farms and vineyards in the valley below my house.

  
In the gloaming, heat and rain had mixed up a steamy mist that sparkled in the setting sun and although I couldn't get a good shot to show the refractions, my telephoto captured the trees that seemed to waver and warp in the eerie, sepia-colored light...


This afternoon I took a break from The Purge and went outside to see what needs to be done with plants and baskets and general garden maintenance.  One thing was made perfectly clear to me.  It's time to get more coconut liners for my hanging baskets...

Two weeks ago, this was a viable, functioning basket.  The birds are building their nests now, and I'm apparently the building supply store...


A plant I bought a few years ago at an Alpine Wildflower show.  It's been struggling on the back slope since I planted it; I figured the scorching Summer sun was too much and planned to move it. Good thing I held off. This year it's beautiful and covered in blossoms, drawing bees in abundance.


The deer have eaten most of my dogwood flowers, though they can't reach the top of the tree so at least I have these beauties to admire from my living room windows.  The tree looks really goofy, like a bad Mohawk.  Ah well, even though there aren't many left, the cheerful pink blooms are lovely to see...


Okay, peeps, it's time for the hike to the mailbox.  The sun is out, wind is brisk...perfect for head clearing, then I'm going to have a nice, cold glass of wine while I try to make sense of the mess I'm making all over the house.  Or maybe I'll just drink the wine and forget the whole making sense part...

Friday, April 10, 2015

Kindness

I want to thank everyone who commented, phoned, emailed or knocked on my door, for your kind and compassionate words about Ozzy.  Sometimes grief can be so isolating, making misery and pain the only companions in the quiet, echoing silence.  It's helped me immeasurably to hear from all of you, dear readers, friends and family.

Ozzy was the last link to my life in Scotland.  Over this past week I've been mired in memories of Edinburgh, Alan, Ozzy and all the adventures shared between the three of us.  I mourn the loss of the two guys who meant the most to me, and also the country that became my home. A triple whammy, really, that left such a deep, gaping hole, I could swear I heard the wind whistling around the broken corners of my heart when I tried to sleep at night.

But then, in one of those inexplicable and mysterious moments, I had a dream.  Alan was walking across emerald green grass, Ozzy running and bouncing at his side, happy in the bright sunshine. Neither turned to look back at me and I wanted to call out, but then I realized it was okay, I'd been given a gift, to know they were together.

My dream was probably no more than wishful thinking, a trick of the mind to give me a sense of peace...although I choose to think otherwise.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Easter Egg Cookies

Now, here's a curious thing.  Why is it the Easter Bunny, but we decorate and fill baskets with eggs? Shouldn't it be the Easter Chicken?

I sent my mother an Easter basket the other day.  It was really a box filled with treats and surprises nestled in a bed of colorful Easter grass.  It was fun to put together and she said it was really fun to open and dig around in the "basket" to find all her goodies.

A few weeks ago, whilst looking for things to put in her box, I found a cookie mix from Charm City Cakes, Duff Goldman's bakery.  He had a show on TLC called Ace of Cakes, and has done several things for the Food Network channel.  I always like to watch him, he's funny and clever and very, very talented, so I not only bought Mom the mix, but got one for myself too.

I've never made cookies from a box, but because it's Duff, I decided to give it a try.


After mixing the dough, it was divided into four balls, and food coloring added in precise drops to make the beautiful layers...

Kneading the colors into each ball was easy, though I have bits of purple between my fingers that I can't get off.  It was such a gorgeous color, I was almost tempted to leave it all swirly and irregular. After the colors were blended, I had to roll them into four long ropes, cut egg-shaped wedges and bake...


And how cool is this?  Easter Egg Cookies....


They were a little bit fiddly, but nothing too complicated or mind-numbing.  And the best part? They're crisp, delicious sugar cookies that will be just right to share with my neighbor...though tasty enough to eat all by myself.

Which would make me the Easter Piglet and I think we have enough poultry/animal confusion going on already...

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Remember Me...??

I've spent the last several days doing all the stuff that I put off or couldn't do while recuperating from the eyelid ordeal.  Two weeks of backlog meant that I had my hands full playing catch up and running errands and doing a multitude of house and garden chores.  I did manage to squeak in a bit of writing, some photography, and reading a novella--didn't have time for a whole book--and now I'm pretty much back on track.  Though...chores are like pulling weeds: they always come back.

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The weather has been hot and weird, which is becoming less strange and more common.  Over the weekend it got up to 83* and yesterday was warm enough to make my first pitcher of sun tea.  I don't usually get to savor my first batch until May or June, but on March 30th, I brewed a perfect blend.  I love sun tea.  However, I'd trade the tea for a long stretch of crap weather.

And speaking of...today it's raining like crazy, storms coming in waves, rolling down the mountains and across the valley, all black and fierce, as the winds whip the trees and scatter the new blossoms like confetti.  There are long periods of rain, followed by blue skies, then the next wave rises and it begins all over again.  The drama is a precursor to the schizophrenia of April and I'm loving it.

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I'm adding a new breathing technique to my yoga and meditations: Agni Prasana, or Breath of Fire. Years ago, back when I first became Buddhist and began meditating, it took awhile to learn how to breathe correctly--the opposite of regular breathing.  So the other day, deciding to incorporate some new yoga movements into my workout, I was intrigued to find two of them are done with Breath of Fire, something I was not familiar with.  It's a cleansing and energizing Breath that works for both meditation and yoga, and I couldn't wait to learn how to do it.

If you're interested:  Sit with your spine straight, head relaxed on your neck and breathe like a dog panting, equal breaths in and out, with your mouth closed. Take small, shallow breaths, like you're sniffing the air.  Don't breathe deep, your chest should barely rise and fall.  Five minutes a day to clear your mind, energize your body.

There are three levels to Breath of Fire.  The beginner's level is the one above.  Intermediate is faster, deeper breaths, and advanced is really vigorous.  At this point, I would pass out doing the advanced level, so I'll have to work up to it or spend my meditation time unconscious.  Some days that's not a bad idea...

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So far today I've walked the boys at the park, been to the vet's for more of Ozzy's meds, went grocery shopping, got my hair cut, gave a list of treats I want to my neighbor, the Englishman, who is off to London on Friday, did the laundry, made the coolest Easter cookies (tomorrow's post) and now I'm finally going to sit down and watch The Hobbit, Battle of the Five Armies, which was on sale at the store.

Last day of March, peeps.  Wine is in order, I think...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Limbo

Spring should be called Limbo.  It's really a time of waiting: for the weather to settle, for blooms and blossoms to color the world again, for the moment we can shed layers of warm clothes for airy, lightweight ones, anticipate firing up the barby.

I've been in a weird limbo of my own these past few weeks, not just because of the long, blurry days after the surgery thing, but also the constant worry about Ozzy's situation.  I thought all my steps to ensure his well-being were making a difference as he hadn't had a spell or any serious difficulties in close to ten days.  Then after a really nice, casual walk at the park this morning, I loaded Max into the car, turned for Oz...and he was laying unconscious in the wet grass.  I scooped him up, and after a few minutes of talking and coaxing, he revived.

Even knowing he will never get better, I still...well, I didn't get complacent exactly, but I let myself hope.  Because if I carried him up and down the stairs, kept him calm and relaxed, took him on short, easy walks, who knows what miracles might happen? Foolish ostrich woman.

I cried all the way home, then called my sister and cried some more.  I know what has to happen, but I can't do it.  Just yesterday he was chasing his little ball around the living room, now I should call the vet and make an appointment for his demise?  No.  I'll stay in limbo for just a bit longer...

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The first turkey vulture was drifting on the thermals this morning.  I love watching those enormous birds riding the high currents, rarely flapping their wings as they soar across the valley, over the forests. Though I've only seen the one so far, it's weeks too early for any of them to be here already.

Tomorrow is supposed to reach the low 80s.  In March.  I don't know what to say anymore about the screwed up weather--and I mean weather everywhere, not just where I'm standing.  Mother Nature is taking back her own, I fear, and we won't stand a chance.

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I'm going to spend the next couple of days with Mitch and Kate.  I left them hanging two weeks ago, Mitch shot and maybe concussed, Ace growling at imminent danger, and Kate taking charge.  I can't wait to see how Mitch handles that....bwah haha.