August 14, 2014
A Personal Challenge… and a few random thoughts on a rainy day.
This past week brought…
- Rain every day.
- Completion of the first floor walls.
- A bear on our deck.
- Our goose in the air. (I did not specify gracefully…)
At the same time, two dear friends are diagnosed with cancer; a third with pregnancy. The first two I truly believe will bravely battle, eloquently conquer and be triumphant while friends and family grow closer in support. The third, well, the lifetime of an up and down roller-coaster ride of frustration, exhaustion, endurance, sleepless nights and the most intense selflessness, beauty, love, compassion and comprehension one may ever experience that becoming a mother entails (adoptive of course included) … it is just beginning!
Thoughts blur and swirl while looking through streaked glass panes at brown waters swelling down the muddy road. Clothes hung indoors alongside cast iron pans by the wood cook stove to dry while the dog lies right beside it. Sticky, heavy boots left just outside the door. White noise of loud rain pounding on the metal roof does not quite my mind.
I am working on personal improvement. Seems like I always am. There’s plenty of room for improvement, and hopefully a long lifetime to keep me busy. Why would I not want to be the best I can be? Why would I not want to better myself and my world? Seriously, who truly believes “good enough” is good enough? I’ve never strived for mediocrity. I want a great life. And no one can make it that way but… me. One can accept the middle ground if that’s their thing. It’s not mine. I encourage you to not sit back and accept it either.
This is not therapy. That’s a topic I tend to stay away from. Today can be scary enough! Looking back, figuring out the reasons why… maybe some day… but today, my hands are full.
We all can blame someone else for our own misery, lack of love, lack of success, (fill in the blank), because surely it’s not MY fault.
Except, sometimes it is. And that sometimes might just be now.
When we start to accept responsibility for ourselves and our actions and our lives, we can begin to make changes.
Life is all about change.
So… with this in mind, I present to you one simple step towards self improvement:
The Thirty Day Internet Limit Trial
For the next thirty days, we have committed to the following:
- One ten minute e-mail/internet check before exercises, cooking and breakfast.
- One five minute check after cleaning up.
- One ten minute check at lunch break.
- One ten minute check after work.
- A little more time to surf the web, do research, check weather, touch base on social media, whatever… after dinner. (See, we eat so late, this won’t last too long for me, as I’m ready for bed right after we eat!)
Still sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?
I justify this much as we have no phone service, so this is a reasonable compromise which allow us to keep in touch, run our business, do our work, and do all those fun things we’ve learned to love – and can’t seem to live without – on the internet, without it ruling our lives.
See, I swear we got to the point where the computer was always open just in case some important news came in and surfing social media became a brainless break for the boys no better than TV (which Forrest never had, and Bob had to give up when he married me). It became a crutch, and a waste of time at best. At worst, something which made us emotionally distraught (well, that might just be me…).
Maybe it’s worse for many. The folks texting during meals, posting what they eat for all to see, and interrupting face-to-face conversations because they are or the matter is so important they just have to respond now. We’re not that bad, but worse than I’d like to be. Maybe you do worse, and maybe you don’t care. We do, and we’re doing something about it.
Thought I’d share this with you for two reasons. First, because those of you who might just realize you have a problem, you might just want to do something about it, too. Go ahead. Try it. Just for thirty days. See if you survive!
I’m also telling you this too to give you fair warning: you may not get an instant response from me if you write. You probably won’t see much from me on Facebook unless I’m sharing book news or business. I’ll only be blogging once a week – which is about what I’ve managed to reduce my blogging to now a days anyway. (Instead I make my posts looooooonnnnng. Go figure.)
So, today begins the trial. We’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping it may help in two ways – mental peace and more time to do more positive things. As an added bonus, maybe it will also improve communications, team work, and productivity as my husband and son are joining me.
Want to give it a try?
In the meanwhile… life goes on… back on the ranch… back to the mountain.
The rains bring on the change of season, heavy and thick it hangs in the air with clouds lingering on her side like little children clinging for comfort.
Arousing the state of dormancy.
One season begins to bow. Another approaches. Anticipation as the land tires and leaves fade and summer sounds are washed away in the steady rains. Mushrooms flourish in withering land and light. And I wonder what the tree squirrel will eat this winter without a pine cone in sight. Such are the things which trouble me.
She begins her long slow deep exhale
And with her, I breathe in unison.
I need to remember this one, as I have believed it but thought perhaps I was wrong:
Wendell Berry: “I’ve known writers — I think it’s true also of other artists — who thought that you had to put your art before everything. But if you have a marriage and a family and a farm, you’re just going to find that you can’t always put your art first, and moreover that you shouldn’t. There are a number of things more important than your art. It’s wrong to favor it over your family, or over your place, or over your animals.”
What a wonderful word. Eco-biography.
Think about it. Hold it in your hand, roll it around in your mouth, savor it.
A story about person and place, and the intimate intertwining of the two.
Author, farmer and activist Kayann Short coined the term. In her review of The Last of Living Blue on her blog, Kayann honored my work with this term. Ecobiography. A phrase I am honored to write about; a new genre I am proud to be a part of.
It’s about slowing down… I enjoyed the opportunity to write a guest post for fellow author/blogger C.M. Mayo (for those who saw this, you’ll note I didn’t get it right the first time, but just one more excuse to keep on writing! I finally got it, and Madam Mayo posted this on her blog last week. I hope you enjoy.
That’s all she wrote this week. Until next time…
And don’t forget to consider giving it a try… Stay away from the darned internet, and see what happens…
August 8, 2014
A frost on the deck damp from yesterday’s rain
And a thin film of ice on the undisturbed pan of water
Where he used to bathe
Emptiness on the cliff
Where he used to stand
Watching the river flow
In this morning of uncertainty
I seek to find solace in the poems of Wendell Berry
Who uses words in ways I may never learn how
But always seek to emulate
Who preaches in calm certainty
Yet what I feel but he does not
For he a man and I a mother
And his practicality is replaced by my passion
Who might tell us it is time to let feral ones fly free
And be at peace knowing
We can never own that which is meant to be wild
Yet I find his distance disturbing
While his words more than I may ever obtain
As I dive into my life heart first
And leave behind a pool of broken waters
Shattered mirrors and forgotten dreams
Learning to let go.
This is not what I was planning on sharing with you today, but I think you should hear this.
Yeah, it’s about the goose.
When he was little he slept in the cat carrier under the kitchen table. Then the dog crate outside the front door. After two and a half months, you’d think he’d go in by himself at night. He never did. He is still a wild animal, he reminds me every day as he rests in shade under the pickup with the dog. Night before last he fought it. I had to herd him in. We sat at the table by the door at dinner and could hear him shuffling about within the box. Maybe it was the moon, we wondered. We knew he didn’t want to be there. But I didn’t want him out with the coyotes and foxes and tourist’s dogs swarming like little snapping turtles.
And then last night he flew off in the moonlight.
It started at dusk when he usually comes to the front door and we lead him to his box. Instead, he remained off the porch, fussing, chattering, and would not come close to me. I stepped closer to him and away he flew, off his cliff and down over the Rio Grande in the pale grey evening light. Fine, I thought as I returned to the cabin, lit candles and the wood cook stove and started dinner for my boys. A few minutes later, guilt took over. A sense of responsibility confused me. I raised him since he was but a day or so old. Can I just turn my back as he flies off and say, “Have at it! Good luck!” Perhaps I should, but I cannot. I returned to his cliff and called out. I looked down river and did not see him. I turned, rejected, back to the house, and there he was behind me.
He lay down on his cliff and it became clear to me. He was ready to fly. He was ready to be a big goose now. He didn’t really need his mother, and he certainly didn’t need his box.
Okay, fine, stay there, I thought. I smiled and let him be.
Darkness but for the growing moon came and we were at the table having dinner. He was back on the porch. I stepped out with him and squatted beside him and he stood there with long neck extended staring out at the big moon, the glowing river. I asked him if he wanted in his box, and he continued to stare. I returned inside, and then once again, we heard him fidgeting and moments later, the squawking of him flying off.
I heard him this morning as I woke at first light, the time when it’s usually just he and me and the ravens on the cliff that no longer fly off from fear of us and have more than me been the ones to teach Rikki to fly. But really, it was silent. No ravens. No happy little chatter. No honking as he spread his wings. No Rikki.
Surely he will be back, I told myself as the sky became brighter and the ground flooded with fresh sunshine forming little ripples of steam where the frost had just been. Surely he will follow the Rio as a goose does, see his cliff, the bridge, the construction site. Hear the crows, the dog bark, the power tools and mill under which he’s spent so many hours with the white noise of motors drumming in his ears.
How wild he showed me he is. I try to respect and appreciate his choices. I let him. I did not hold him back. I hope not at the expense of his life.
Ten minutes ago, here at the table in the Little Cabin looking through the old weathered windows that look like its raining even when it’s dry, there flies Rikki.
He has flown home.
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.