Friday, May 23, 2008

impermanence

Wendell Berry writes that gravity is grace. I think that's true. The things I hold on to--the baby teeth, the clippings of hair--eventually crumble away to nothing, return to the soil, nourish the growth of something else.
I've always saved Chloe's baby teeth. Little pieces of memory stowed away. But eventually they break, crumble, fall behind the shelf, are swept away forever.
I don't know who owned this great big tooth that I found just lying on the ground, but I've saved it too--its great long roots towering next to Chloe's little bits of ivory.
For everything that comes

is a gift, the meaning always

carried out of sight

to renew our whereabouts,

always a starting place.
from "The Gift of Gravity"



Thursday, May 8, 2008

Catching up with the Future


About six years ago, I had my palm read at Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo. It only makes sense that with my predilection for signs, charms, talismans, and overall superstition, I would want to believe the reading. But there's a pretty long gap between the five minutes in which the fortune teller lays out your life and the long years it takes to see if it actually happens as she tells it. It was a lengthy wait, but I think I'm finally catching up with my future.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

guilty


I feel a little guilty that I started this blog with such gusto and now I'll have to put it on hold for awhile. For my own sanity, I've decided not to post again until the semester is over in May so don't hold your breath waiting for the next post. My apologies to my 2 faithful readers.
Meanwhile, here's a photo for you to ponder in my absence. You have the next three months to figure out what this could be...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

si se puede

We know the battle ahead will be long. But always remember that, no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.

We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics. And they will only grow louder and more dissonant in the weeks and months to come.

We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

For when we have faced down impossible odds, when we've been told we're not ready or that we shouldn't try or that we can't, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can. Yes, we can. Yes, we can.

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes, we can.

It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights: Yes, we can.

It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness: Yes, we can.

It was the call of workers who organized, women who reached for the ballot, a president who chose the moon as our new frontier, and a king who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the promised land: Yes, we can, to justice and equality.

Yes, we can, to opportunity and prosperity. Yes, we can heal this nation. Yes, we can repair this world. Yes, we can.

~Barack Obama
Listen to the song.

Friday, February 1, 2008

pretty


Aren't these antique bobbins pretty? I'm not sure what to do with them, so for now I just enjoy looking at them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

driftwood


There's something metaphoric about driftwood, I think. But if parsing out all of the ways in which driftwood mirrors your life seems too tedious, you can still enjoy looking at it. Or searching for it on a beach somewhere.

My friend's dad is an artist who makes (or maybe liberates?) wonderful driftwood creations. Have a look at http://www.brianpardiniart.com/.

Friday, January 25, 2008

things we do (and don't do)

The other day my aunt and I were talking about procrastination. It seems we're both quite good at it. With lists of important things to do getting longer and deadlines looming closer, we are faced with the urgent desire to clean a closet, wash the dishes, write a letter, finish knitting that scarf. We mentally scan our list of things to do, searching for one that we like.

It turns out that we are not alone in this. Nor, to read this essay, should we be ashamed. Procrastination is something you can be good at-- a hidden talent of sorts. As a matter of fact, other people (unaware of our lengthening list of undone projects) may marvel at our ability to get things done, our efficiency.

So today I have a stack of articles to read, a reflection to write, a summary to post, a dissertation to skim, an apartment to clean, groceries to pick up, and bills to pay, and I know I'll get to all of it...eventually. But first, let me finish this post.

if you stop and look

A few summers back, we took a walk with some family friends. I've been on plenty of treks through creeks and woods, but I guess I'd never really gone about it with my eyes fully open because I'd certainly never noticed all the wonders that we saw on that walk.

First we saw a snapping turtle hanging out in a shady pool. Michael caught him by the tail and let us inspect him at close (but not too close) range. Next we came to a place on the bank littered with the shells of smaller turtles, and I chose one to bring home and admire. But the best thing was finding out that for years I've been tromping along and splashing right by tiny minnow sized tropical-looking fish. Who would have guessed it? The little guys that look brown or silvery through the water have brilliant reds and blues on them that you can only see at close range. Really. Crazy what you see if you only stop to look.

Monday, January 21, 2008

thank you

I forgot to mention that the beautiful plant in the photo from my post on January 19th was a gift from Chloe. She found it on a walk and brought it home to me knowing that I would love it. She was right!

Growing up, we called these delicate flowers (?) Japanese Lanterns.

And, if you hadn't guessed by now, the gorgeous photos of my treasures are all taken by sad moose. If you haven't looked at his blog yet, wander on over and check it out.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

choices

I'm feeling jangly, at loose ends, at odds with myself. So stumbling across this particular poem this afternoon was a sort of treasure. A little pause for my head and my heart, which seem to be tripping all over themselves lately.

Choices

if i can't do
what i want to do
then my job is to not
do what i don't want
to do

it's not the same thing
but it's the best i can
do

if i can't have
what i want then
my job is to want
what i've got
and be satisfied
that at least there
is something more
to want

since i can't go
where i need
to go then i must go
where the signs point
though always understanding
parallel movement
isn't lateral

when i can't express
what i really feel
i practice feeling
what i can express
and none of it is equal
i know
but that's why mankind
alone among the mammals
learns to cry

from Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day
by Nikki Giovanni

Thursday, January 17, 2008

mystery find


We found this ufo (unidentified found object) in a creek. Cleaning off the moss and dirt revealed this picture. I wonder what it is...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

hammer head

Our first home in Bisbee was a rundown trailer on a dry and spiny lot. The fence was chain link, the patio was a concrete slab, and for the first week our electricity source was a long extension cord plugged into the trailer next door. Inside, the walls were thin, the floors even thinner (there was a hole in front of the door from where Jason's foot went right through), the colors drab green and brown, and the best piece of furniture was a velour recliner. Not too classy.

But it was one of the best places I've ever lived. Maybe the best. Here are the good things I remember about living there: our crazy neighbor who kept a sawed-off shotgun nearby to fend off an old boyfriend but who also lent us a t.v., conversations over the fence, and unlimited kindness; a big old tarantula who emerged from his hole like clockwork every evening at dusk and who we named "Tio Pepe"; a collection of old country records which we played on a huge record player; a yard big enough to accommodate all of our crazy pursuits- shooting the b.b. gun Jason gave me for Christmas, riding the adult sized tricycle we found in an antique shop, playing horseshoes and soccer and dodging cactus spines; and best of all, the shed.

The shed in the back yard was a treasure trove filled with years of junk and dust and black widow spiders. And after we cleaned it up, it was a workshop and a dark room and a place for puttering and creating and imagining...

This hammer head was one of the treasures we found in the shed. I think it would look great as part of a mobile. Something so simple, so everyday, and so full of memories.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

trash talk

Here's a link to a 20 minute video. http://www.storyofstuff.com/

Watch it.

If you find yourself getting antsy because it isn't going at a fast enough pace or presenting enough new information or using really great graphics...watch it again.

Think about it.

a little luck


We came across this horseshoe on a summer ramble. It's home had been a murky creek for who knows how many years before we found it.
I haven't been feeling all that lucky lately (despite my overabundance of found talismans), but I've just realized that I haven't been using this horseshoe properly. First off, it needs to be hung over a door. Second, the ends must point up. I can do that.
Unfortunately, there is some dispute about who will actually receive the luck. Some say the luck extends to anyone who enters and leaves by the door where the horseshoe is hung. Others say that the person who found the horseshoe is the lucky one (feeling lucky yet Jason?). And still others argue that the original owner of the shoe will be the beneficiary.
I guess all I can do is follow directions and hope for the best. Worst case, someone else will have a great year!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

left behind

After spending several years below ground, the "dog day" cicada nymph emerges. In the hot days of July and August (the dog days of summer) some instinct pushes them up out of the ground and then further up, onto poles and trees where they shed their hard outer "shell" and transition into adulthood. That's when you hear them, shrilly buzzing, trying to attract a mate.

I think the adult cicada, with its brilliant jewel-like green, is strangely beautiful. Even more, I love the casings that they leave behind in their transition from nymph to grown. While the dog day cicada is shy and hard to spot (although certainly not hard to hear), their outgrown shells are easy to find if you know where to look.

The photo here shows a jumble of shells, kept in a jar on my shelf.

tiny bird


I found this tiny bird on the floor, near the window, of my father's shop. He must have tried to escape through the glass, finally exhausting himself and falling to the ground. That was this summer. I did nothing special to preserve him, but now, months later, the colors of his feathers are still bright and beautiful.
Hummingbirds are wonders of engineering and beauty, and it's not suprising that they possess special powers. In Mexico, they have a special place in indigenous culture and stories. They are also seen as a symbol of love and may be dried as love amulets, or their hearts may be ground into a powder and added to a special potion. I'm sticking with the first option.

Friday, December 21, 2007

gift

I am not posting about one of my treasures today. Instead, here is a small gift, a winter poem, written almost exactly forty years ago by Wendell Berry.

February 2, 1968

In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter,
war spreading, families dying, the world in danger,
I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

lobster in his pocket

I didn't really find this lobster claw- it was part of my dinner. For me, eating seafood is more of a courageous adventure than a culinary pleasure, so after we'd tackled and conquered this beastly crustacean, I decided I had to have something to show for it. The only problem was, I really didn't want to walk out of Union Oyster House with a lobster claw in hand. So Jason slipped it into his pocket, and voila, I have a claw for my collection.


I know that lobsters are related to insects in some way, and when they are lying on the plate in all of their entirety I definitely see the resemblance. This solitary claw, though, looks more related to a bird than an insect. Doesn't it look like a beak?



Monday, December 17, 2007

best when empty

I have a love-hate relationship with wasps. I love their nests; they are both structurally amazing and beautiful. I like all kinds- the mud daub nests remind me of organ pipes, the kind pictured here is a testament to precision, and my favorite of all is the one that looks like a dusty piƱata (what I wouldn't give to find one of those). On the other hand, I hate the wasps themselves.

Once, in Missouri, I was attacked by a small horde as I attempted to take down my shutters. After I realized that the shelter created by space between the shutter and the house was a perfect home for wasps, I devised a system to avoid being attacked. Loosen screws, drop shutter, run like hell. I think Jason has a picture somewhere that shows what happens when you disregard the system- multiple stings left the side of my head swollen and misshapen for some days. Not funny.

Chloe found this particular nest outside our apartment here in Buffalo. I guess she was smart enough to make sure it was empty before picking it up.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

wishbone


The British call the wishbone a "merrythought." That seems right to me. You see, a wishbone's power is released only when it's broken. Until then it is just a delicate bone holding a promise. I'm saving this one for the unknown future. Until then it sits on the shelf in the living room- a merrythought just for me.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

boots

When we lived in Bisbee, we spent a lot of time sorting through thrift stores looking for junk which we could reimagine, reuse, or rework. We'd make the drive north through the desert to Tucson just for the chance to visit the mega stores. But the shop in our own little town was full of treasures too. Chloe found this great pair of boots there, and pretty much didn't take them off again until they were so tight she could barely maneuver in them.

She still loves the boots, and I do too. They remind me of that time in our lives when we were sort of drifting along in a surreal haze, when anything was possible and there were so many choices still to make.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ogopogo

This summer, when Jason's parents were visiting, we went to Block Island off the New England coast. On the ferry we noticed a couple trundling several very large, oddly shaped, heavily wrapped, packages. What could they be, we wondered? Elephant tusks perhaps?

Later, walking to the lighthouse, we came upon them at the side of the road. The wrappings were cast aside now to reveal smooth, darkly colored wood. They were carefully arranging the wood pieces in the grass- an art installation. What did we see, they asked. What came to mind? The skeleton of old farm equipment, springs and coils, rusting gently in a field, I said. Well, what is it supposed to be, someone else said, frustrated at this game of make believe. Anything, they said, use your imagination. And Jason's dad, hesitant to play along at first, said I know, it's Ogopogo. Ogopogo the legendary immortal lake monster- like the Lochness of Canada. With its curvy back rising and falling in the water, showing just enough to imagine its great length.

When Jason gave me this seed pod it reminded me of that art installation. Smooth brown curves. Ogopogo.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

remains

In cast off bones, shells, seed pods, husks, rusty springs, old doorknobs, cracked bicycle seats, in discarded scraps of other lives, I find magic. When ordinary usefulness leaves off, my own imagination takes up the story.

Some of the work in Sally Mann’s photographic sequence What Remains speaks to this sensibility. Have a look.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

luck


I have lucky stones in all shapes and sizes. One is small enough to wear on a silk thread around my neck. Another is so big I can stand on it. With both feet. Some are smooth and rounded. Others ugly and rough. But no matter what else they look like, the hole straight through is the special part, the lucky part, filled with nothing but the wishes and possibilities of the person who finds them.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Follusk

This summer we spent some time at the lake. There, along with the dead fish, seaweed, driftwood, and lucky stones, Krista and I discovered these wonderful fossils of mollusks. We found so many that we decided they really deserved a little recognition, a name of their own. And so, follusks. (Get it, fossil + mollusk?)