June 18, 2014
It’s about me.
I’m on the steep grass hillside up the Ute Ridge trail looking north. Gunnar is next to me, sitting, watching. Haven’t seen another person since I left the ranch. There are big fat clouds randomly shading the open expanse of water and the cradling hills on either side. Not dark clouds. They hold no weight. I don’t think it’s going to rain. With all this wind whipping the earth dry again, I sort of wish it would. I packed a jacket just in case. You can’t see far. The last mountain range is blurring into obscurity by blown up sands or silt from the charred hillsides down river.
I think the last time I was here was when we silently watched the smoldering remains of the Papoose Fire on the other side of the Rio Grande Reservoir. Seems like a long time ago. This time last year. There were no cars on the road when I looked down then like there are now, leaving a trail of pale brown dust in their wake long after they have passed.
Random notes on the Season and Life.
Big snow banks getting small. The river is going down. Now it’s as high as I’ve ever seen high waters in the dozen years before this. June winds so strong we hope the outhouse doesn’t blow over again. My skin is wind burned and eyes are bloodshot from working out there in it all day and there is too much to do to stay inside.
Progress on the new cabin. The floor joists are measured carefully, cut in the wind with sawdust flying, and securely screwed in place, blocked and insulated. I can’t wait to start with the logs. Almost there…
We’re a good team. Not a day passes without my thinking I’m the luckiest lady alive to be out their building a home with my boys. A real home this time.
Nineteen degrees in the morning and those spectacular wild iris on pasture froze, gave up and surrendered, folding over purple face down. Up here, it’s hard on wildlife, harder still to garden.
Roaring wind and raging
A fervent embrace
From the wild beast
While around me
Remains of last
Circle about courting me
In a whirlwind dance
Of tangled life and
Before me on the little table that contains three steaming coffee cups, remnants of last night’s dinner, our open laptap computers, and promises of the breakfast to come. And in that clutter, my proof copy of The Last of the Living Blue! It’s beautiful – what a wonderful job NorLights Press has done again. Thank you, Sammie. Some time between setting the plywood over floor joists and riding in to check the ditch, I’ll read (at least, skim) it over one more time (yes, one more damn time… by tomorrow) and then off it goes to press. Yippeee!
Oh, so that part about me?
Well, it started with this.
At the Tattered Cover event last week where I was promoting my first book, The Color of the Wild. The event, on a side note, and much to my surprise, was quite fun. A super big THANK YOU to all those who joined me, turned out, showed support, listen and talked with me, and to the many wonderful new faces I was able to meet. Anyway, in the presentation, I touched on this, with regards to writing memoir:
“Memoir is a medium for sharing intimate views – in my case, besides my views of nature, I share glimpses into personal issues, losses, pain, sadness. And growth and good stuff too. Memoir allows introspection both for the reader and the writer… Sharing your world, exposing oneself, bleeding with words on paper… Ultimately, it all ends up being about words. I want my words to sound good. I want my writing to read well aloud.
“Yes, the story is about me. It’s my story, my view.
“On the other hand, memoir opens odd doors of others hoping/wishing/assuming it’s about them, so you learn to leave their concerns and comments behind, and focus on what you set out to do.”
Bottom line: This is my story. And most importantly, I hope, a well written one.
Alas, here I am with my second book coming out end of the month, something I humbly consider an achievement and accomplishment, and from what I’m seeing in the reviews and reception, it is well done. But around these parts, I’m more likely to hear, “Oh no, you’ve written another book” rather than “Right on, you’ve written another book.” Interesting. So much for celebrating and sharing in your victories. Sad but true.
The truth comes out. Who really cares about you? And… what kind of people are they, anyway?
Fortunately, part of growing up is choosing. I’m so grateful for the loving, caring, supportive family, friends and readers I do chose, and who have chosen me. Thank you. If I haven’t told you all before, I’m also so thankful for the kind notes those who have been touched by my writing have taken the time to share with me. That is the reason we write, share our words and world. That makes it all worthwhile.
Maybe you have heard that blood is thicker than water, as if that would solve matters, demand forgiveness, and make dysfunctional families okay. It doesn’t work for me. I can’t help but wonder: Since when is thick a good thing, a compliment, something to strive for, a positive personal quality?
Sometimes, blood is simply stickier than water. Know when to wash your hands.
May 5, 2014
paring of the soul
in simple season
of waxing moon and warming flesh
mornings hardly frozen
and air loud with crow and Steller’s Jay
and the shrill whistle of Redwing blackbird
and down by the river
standing on the bluff
where our home one day will be
of foundation and roots and solid walls
containing confining comforting
and so many years of stories to patina the blued wood
a solitary goose flies low
above the river
he follows the course to who knows
where or why
or what he seeks only to move to
someplace else as the sun takes its turn
lower in the sky
and I wonder what impels him on
when all I do is look for a place to remain
Spring air crossing snow covered Divide whips cold across our pasture freshly open promising moist and green at least for a little while. Out there, bitten by the wind I swear I smell the sweetness of flowers. I am certain. From where does this fragrance come? I picture lands lush and rose bushes and lilacs and hollyhocks and marigold flourishing. Here I find pleasure in dandelions and wild iris and the delicate petals and defiant stalks of the wild rose, each short lived as every season but winter is. Little more can grow though who would I be if I didn’t try so every year I do. Last year the tomato plants I bought with fruit already set produced two fruit and the zucchini plants gifted us with eight tiny fingerlings of the most precious bounty I sliced and sautéed in butter and served alongside fresh bread and was wanting for nothing more that night. Such a treat we had not tasted in so long because they birthed before the frost that turned the big broad leaves to mush.
We prepare the Little Cabin for another season there beside the river. The one-room cabin dragged away from the guest cabins to a part of the mountain without history, herstories, tales or roots, ready for us to grow our own. Our lives pending another move. And from the humble front door of the little log cabin we’ll call home once again, we shall watch mud transform and sprout new life.
Our new home.
News for now…
Just out this weekend, A unique take on an interview and article I had the pleasure to write on the wonderful, charming, handsome, and very talented Texas bit & spur maker Daylan Nixon featured in the newest issue (4.1) of Ranch & Reata magazine.
A bunch of visitors this weekend, so nice to see those who took the time to visit – but no one willing to pose for a portrait. Thus, these. (I will learn not to give up on the people so easily next time…)
From a conversation on Womanhood…
Deep felt thanks to a friend who opened up with me a conversation on womanhood. No, I should write that with a capital: Womanhood. That’s better.
Who was born intimately understanding their feminine side and comfortable with what they found? The few I thought who did, what did they do with what they had and what more did they find? Those that took time to deny or be denied, dive into the depths and ask questions… they found very interesting answers…
Years ago in art school, I did a piece I called “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” A large flowery clay most feminine of female body parts decorated in gaudy rhinestones and set into a deep box like a casket with a glass lid. It won first place so at the award ceremony a picture went up in the auditorium on the big projector screen and I swear the whole room started to blush. Few are comfortable with the feminine side.
There are few leaders, women to follow, women willing and able to show us how. If there are many, I’m missing something, for I have found their presence and reaching out/responding rare. I’m obsessed with the concept of mentoring – I don’t feel qualified yet – I’m too young (funny thing to say at 47, some of you will may say), not experienced enough and just don’t feel ripe – I’m still looking for mentors for me. Stop looking. Start being. Most of us don’t have the role models we need. So we must become them. We need to re-group and find our paths, and hold each other’s hands in the process. Encourage, urge, push, and protect when need be. More than just listen. We need someone to talk to us and tell us WE CAN. We can dream, we can write, we can fall in love, we can live through a broken heart and rejection letter and all the crud life brings because in the wave of mud is just one place of crystal clear, and that’s all we need.
There are no right answers, only a wonderful adventure. Womanhood is not a destination, but a process. Enjoy the journey. Dive in, swim, splash, splutter from time to time, and let go and float on top staring up at the billowy clouds. It is exhilarating.
Let it happen, as we become the women we want to be. Emerging… Ever changing…. And so, so beautiful, as the heart of every women can be.
playing with a love poem
because I have spent so many years
in praise of the broken heart
and why would I not when that’s what I had
now that I can have
or cannot separate
a life that more than parallels my own
rather wraps around and breaks borders
in waves of twisting over lapping lines
like arms and legs entwined in bed
until one day we become no more
than rotting bodies in straight lines
side by side in the ground
This is not what I was looking for
I said sort of but no one listened only laughed
as I fell not head over heals
but solidly planted
and now some days it seems so simple
too simple, him, our conversations, being loved
the assumption that he’ll be there
that I can wake early in the morning before light
and ask him and know he would never say no
some things maybe I miss
pain and insecurities and blinding desires
and wondering if he’s The One
there are days I want to be without him
as if I’d be better on my own
think of the things I could do if I didn’t have to
care worry encourage push and pick up the pieces
instead could take care of only me
if only I remember how
and maybe I don’t want to anymore
then I think how lost I would be
how incomplete I would find myself
if you take away half my air
and just as much of my foundation
would I still remember how to breathe?
April 24, 2014
Tired, a little sore, and somewhat sunburned, and yet it feels good. Just a little longer out there, one more thing, and do you really have to go in just yet? Paper work begins to pile.. Bare hands, wool cap stuffed in the pocket of your unzipped jacket. Only to pull that cap out five minutes later as the next snowstorm blows on through. Yeah, welcome to Colorado. Chapped lips, eyes parched from the wind, mud and snow banks, and geese in potholes on pasture. It’s Spring
Outdoors work is great, but sometimes I need to go beyond, to see and feel her in silence. Out there, alone together. Be a part of this progression of the season.
Walking with the dog for the first time on semi-solid ground out there in a passing storm miles from my house which is miles and miles from any other around here now. And suddenly the roar of what sounds like a jet engine across river. Rotten snow descends the mountain in a violent rush.
I’m glad I’m here, not there.
To a place you’ve never been
and you remember
an open mouth of
Fish underwater Breathing
through muddy waters Gushing
down brown slopes
Did you think
it would be harder?
Did you know maybe you are
right where you belong
Moon rises later now. I walk the dog with flashlight in blackness as clouds cover even the tiny sparkles up above that usually light our way. With melted snow, even the ground is dark. Finding significance in the insignificance when I look up at the stars. Or is it the release of significance that brings us peace?
A pair of miller moths gently bang against my window as I sit at the table back in by the light. It’s mid April. Funny the things we are seeing.
In the early morning hours, moonlight floods the cabin. In the quiet and still, here on the sofa with the wood stove hissing and crackling behind me and the sky turning a dusty blue, I could sleep. I could close my eyes and let go and listen to the familiar sounds and be comfortable and warm and drift off. I know I should be writing…
Wake up! It’s spring. Plenty to do. Get up, get out, get to work…
The guys are still asleep. Life with family. My life is not just about me. It’s We. My decisions affect us all. And although I may not have the freedoms I once had, I have so much more. I’ll pass on what I had and am grateful for what I have. Yes, and still want so much more. Thank god it’s only “mid life” I’m in.
These things are not found in the fast and easy nor with instant gratification. A metaphor for society.
I leave you with this. The Art of the Selfie?
Go ahead. Laugh. No one should take themselves too seriously. When really, what I’m working on is the Art of the Portrait. Since I don’t have a lot of willing victims around here, I have to run in front of my own camera from time to time. Okay, keep in mind a few things here. First, I’m almost fifty. Second, I don’t wear a stitch of make up or dye my hair. Third, I spend a lot of time outdoors… Yes, yes, I know. Excuses, excuses. But what we’re looking for the light, the composition, the essence if you will. Capturing a mood. Not a pretty face.
Is it self gratification or seeking understanding? A reflection within. A sense of who and where we are in the bigger picture. Only more often than not, we rush it and compromise results and are too quick to move on to what’s next. What is your place? What is mine? Ever changing. How do we define our place of in between? It is our nature to need to know.
At “almost fifty” I am not the wild young woman I once was. I don’t care to go back there. It was fun, I survived, now I’m done. Yet still so far the wise old crone so quick to offer advice or silent in her seemingly eternal wisdom.