Tuesday, November 22, 2011

So Take the Lively Air

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground!  I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always.  And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

 --Theodore Roethke

Have I mentioned that I love Theodore Roethke?  He's one of my favorite  poets evah.  This poem is a villanelle--a form I just really, really like.  And there is much truth in these words:  we think by feeling; what is there to know; I hear my being dance from ear to ear; God bless the Ground!; What falls away is always. And is near.  Nice, nice, nice and true, true true!

With the approaching holidays, I think it's important for me to take my waking slow.  Every year, I try to simplify a little more.  Buy less, make more.  Keep the excess in check.  Well, except for my beautiful tree.  More is better there.  But it's OLD stuff, family history glittering from the branches.  I love it!!! And this year, I'm making (sewing!) a Christmas tree skirt!  I finally figured out how to run my machine and it pleases me to no end.  Once I finish the skirt, who knows what else I'll sew? While the children have visions of sugarplums, I have visions of cloth napkins, patchwork quilts, a-line skirts and aprons.  Jump BACK!

I've already bought a few things for the kids, which feels good.  I'm going to try hard not to go overboard crizzaaazzzy!  And I'm NOT shopping big box this year.  I would rather suffer death by fudgsicle sticks (if you know me, you know what I mean) than shop Black Friday at midnight on thanks-freakin'-giving.  One of my fave blogs, Bedlam Farm, introduced me to the idea of Plaid Friday--which means shopping locally and supporting real people's businesses instead of the big box Man.  After I drop off my kids with their dad on Friday, I'm going to go to Miller's in Carnation to buy trinkets for the advent calendar, and whatever else strikes my fancy.  That is one awesome shop with a super nice owner from whom I like buying some Christmas.  And I encourage everyone reading this to do Plaid Friday, too, as much as possible. 

But in the immediate future is Thanksgiving, the most wonderful, overlooked holiday.  We are celebrating with Carrie and her family and it will be lovely.  And relaxing.  And fun.  And after that, we'll talk Christmas, mmmkay?

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Then All Is As It Was

"...The moon goes to the full;
The moon goes slowly down;
The wood becomes a wall.
Far things draw closer in.
A wind moves through the grass, 
Then all is as it was."
--from Theodore Roethke's The Small

It was a beautiful weekend in Eastern Oregon.  Home.  We celebrate Thanksgiving early to avoid holiday traffic and worsened weather.  It is a great thing!  Everybody congregates in Cayuse at my dad and Tina's, even my mom, the surprise guest, this year.  Yay!!!  We had a great time enjoying the beauty of the fall landscape:

Watching dogs and horses do their thing:
Geisha and Gonzo-- Temple Guards

Ed and Crystal out to gather rosehips and sumac, with Darby, Chester and Ruger
Crystal and Sugarfoot

Oh, they were just happy to see us
Babies and beer bottles and cousin-time:
Layla loves a cold Beck's

Jack and Buzzle rasslin'

C.Line and Auntie Erin
And special time with Grandma Ethel, who will always be 30-10, for the record.

The wind blew, the grasses undulated, the clouds moved in and out, the rain came, the rain stopped.  We were all together in Cayuse, nestled into the hillside, being thankful.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What Does What It Should Do Needs Nothing More

That's a great line from Theodore Roethke's poem, The Manifestation. Here are some images from this weekend that do it for me.
Baby IvyAnne Belle's tiny foot

Mama Whitney

Jack and his working bot, made entirely from spare parts

Caroline's fairy garden

Oh, hello Coco Kitty!
Morning Sunlight

A frosty chicken morning to you!

Fall meadow and a swing


Gino and the river

Jack in silhouette

Sweet Angelina

Monday, November 7, 2011

Knowing Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

—Naomi Shihab Nye

I'm feeling reflective again, thinking about relationships and my own responses to others.  Sometimes I fall into the space of being on-guard when dealing with people and  being very concerned about someone seeing me in a way I don't want to be seen, and being willing to die on the cross defending the correct image.  Guess what?  That's not a place I want to live. That's not the way I want to be.  I could explain and justify all the reasons WHY I go there, how I got to be that way, but it doesn't really matter. All that matters is that I am sort of that way and I need to think differently when something riles me up, instead of jumping into overreact or attack mode.  It's my choice how I react and I don't have to feel offended or angry.  And I don't want to. I want so much to live in peace, harmonious with others. 

For instance, I want to be a better parent.  When Jack uses my shower and covers the drain to make a mini bath and a little water spills on the floor, I should not yell at him and freak out.  I should say, 'hey buddy, next time take a bath', or' just try to keep the water in the shower, yo.'  Parental reprimands probably shouldn't start with 'Goddamit Jack!"  Maybe once in a while for something super naughty, it's ok, but in general, I need to step back and relax and as a friend once said about my management style, half as much...half as much.  That's right. 

Or like when Scott scheduled Caroline's teacher conference on a day I'll be out of town, without even asking me.  My instant reaction was: pissed!  How could he not even think of asking me!  He knew I was going to be out of town that day!  I take offense!!  But before I called him to bitch about it, I stopped. I thought, I'm choosing to feel slighted.  Stop it!  There was no malintent.  Relax.  Call and tell him it doesn't work for me that day and to please talk to me first next time.  So, I did.  And we worked it out peacefully. And I didn't have to feel mad about it.  Yay!

Or like when someone says something to you that you know they don't mean to be hurtful, but you choose to take it that way anyhow and tell them.  And choose to be offended and get upset.  Why do that?  Don't be so concerned with setting straight well-meaning people.  And for goodness sakes, don't lose your temper.  And when you do, apologize. And hope the people around you love you enough to accept it.  And to accept you, and to know that you will always try to do better. 

One of my Sisters, Many Blankets, just handed me a piece of paper with a poem about attitude on it.  It totally goes with all of the above.  Part of her poem says:
"Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than what people say or do."


Friday, November 4, 2011

Airly Autumn Days

"...There's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here--
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock--
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock."

--James Whitcom Riley

JWR is a real favorite of mine, and I can't imagine better words to describe the feeling of these days.  I've sort of been floating through the last few weeks, busy with activity but sort of paralyzed, too.  I'm not sure that makes any sense, so I'll try to explain. 

I have been so lucky lately, spending time with some of my favorite people.  Lots of visits, lots of plans, and these days, these airly autumn days with so much to do outside.  I want so much to freeze time, or at least stretch it.  Make the hours from 4-6 go on and on, holding the day's last light.  Make the weekends last 4 days.  Have time every day to walk around and breathe the leafy air. Rake the earth.  Dig in the dirt and plant spring surprises.  Sweep the deck and clear the gutters.  Chop more wood.  Read for hours by the fire in the quiet with the cats in my lap.   Talk to people and hear their stories and play music and sit outside by candlelight, wrapped in blankets. 

I've been doing many of these things, but I need more time.  And I'm sort of overwhelmed by the richness of all of it.  Totally in a good way, but it's made me a little flighty.  I've neglected the inside work a little, let the papers pile up a bit, been behind in the laundry, haven't been blogging, felt a little space-y at work, that sort of thing.  Writing this out helps me make sense of it though, and maybe I just need to let go of all the life-managing for a spell.  That would be prioritizing at its finest, and it brings me joy to do this important work of living the glorious fall to the most-est and loving the people and animals around me. 

So, I'll end with that for now and try to focus on getting my secondary work done so I can get out there and be in the day; it's gorgeous.

"...It sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!"