Saturday, October 23, 2021

Morning

 October 23

It's been awhile, but to be honest getting the farm ready for winter is labor intense, especially when you are the laborer.

This morning there was dense heavy fog shrouding everything with a chill.  I made a pot of coffee, gave the dogs their morning treat and settled on the sofa to watch my day begin.  As always the birds came to say hello and eat their morning meal, I could hear the geese on the neighbors pond and the occasional ping of acorns as they dropped on the tin roof.

Most mornings I still shed tears, maybe I always will.  The stillness and silence and emptiness of the dawn reminds me Rick is gone.  I tried talking with the dogs, but they do not converse.  So I sip hot coffee and remember, good times and bad as I plan the day.  My old leather day planner is over 30 years old and it remains a  good and steady friend.  It has become my compass when there is darkness and a guide when life overwhelms me with its business of continuing.

After the fog lifts this morning the task of privet war begins.  Privets, hedges if you will, have tried their best to claim my back fence.  After a meeting with the saw today, they get doused with white vinegar and I dare them to rear their ugly faces again.  It has become personal, this battle of who controls my back fence and I intend to win.  My oldest sister battles them with a small torch and I warn them, I have one of those as well.

Fall is doing her best to appear, but she is slow to make an entrance down here in the south.  I love her and I wait for her.  I know that fall brings a calmer pace to the farm,  and not only does the earth begin to rest but I get to turn my energies to my creative side.  Finally with fall and winter, art and music get my attention and the labors of spring and summer wait for their turn sometime in the future.

Friday, September 3, 2021

The Power of Music

 August ended, September has arrived and he brought cooler temps, well 80's for highs and 60's for lows.

As I write these words this morning I am listening to Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers.  It's a big deal because I am listening to my old vinyl  and I am happy.  Before he died, Rick had gotten us a new turntable and gotten our old albums out of storage.  Last week, I finally started cleaning and shelving the albums, the first one I played....Delaney and Bonnie.

Listening to the music that helped to shape who I am has been such a release of emotions, good and bad.  Rick had given some of our albums to our nephew Michael many years ago.  Sadly Michael passed away and who knows what happened to those albums.   Frankly there are albums in my stacks that I looked at and thought why did I/we buy this.  I am sure at the time of purchase the reason was valid.

It is exciting to hear albums that I haven't heard in 30 years or so.  Rick was such a lover of all things new and technical.  When cds came out, he was jubilant.   We have have 100's of cds, but there were many obscure albums that  we owned which were never transferred to cd and I missed them.  My morning coffee  and evening reads  are truly more pleasurable listening to music that was as much a part of my life as Rick.

Gram Parsons was a major influence on our music.  His voice, his harmonies inspired us to put that raw emotion into what we created.

Another album that I have listened to this week, Leon Russell and Marc Benno, Asylum Choir.  Hearing Salty Candy again made me laugh and their version of Sweet Home Chicago brings back many memories.

I truly believe in the arts, without them I fear we humans will not survive.  Every trip we ever took to a new city, we visited museums, galleries, and listened to local musicians, watched local theatrical productions, ate foods we had never experienced, tried to always meet locals.  Learning as much as we could about about other places and people and absorbing new cultures was always our goal.  Everywhere we traveled , we expected to have a good time and you know, we always did.  

Music is powerful, it can bring joy, tears, trigger old memories, create new ones and be your best friend. I would be the first to admit that our taste in music was about eclectic as you can get.  Music educated me and opened my eyes and heart to the world around me.  Music was the bond that helped us share 46 years together, music introduced us to many of our dearest friends.  For several months after Rick died, I could not listen to music of any kind.  I knew in my heart the healing of my gaping wound would never take place until I could hear music and let it bathe my emotions.  I was right.

I hope there is music in your life today. 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

A Life of Resistance

 July was quite a month, much rain, very hot and a great deal of work to do here on the farm.

August has been much of the same, but honestly I had rather deal with the rain instead of a drought.

This morning a friend shared an essay written by a Hopi Indian chief a few weeks ago.   The words were words I desperately needed to see and read.  I have printed a copy of it and it will be my morning meditation for awhile.

Before I share it with all of you, I will explain why I think these words resonated with my spirit today and felt like manna from heaven or a long drink of crystal cold water.

Several years ago when I was very sick and there were doctors from three different hospitals in Birmingham trying to figure out what was wrong, one of them suggested they reach out to the Mayo clinic on my behalf.  18 very large vials of blood later, several pages of questions about my health and my family's health, and encouraging words from the doc the package was sent to the clinic.  A few weeks later, I received basically a book/report from Mayo and the doctor at UAB.  I finally had answers and hope.  One of the biggies from Mayo was in depth information about my genetic makeup and DNA.

It turns out one of the diseases I was dealing with was because of my genetic makeup.  I am Irish, Native American and African American mix.  I found the results fascinating because my whole life since I was a child, I was drawn to people who looked different than me.  Friendships were always easy for me with those whose skin was not my color.

With all that being said, Native American culture has been something I have studied for years, the other interesting thing, through the years when I would meet elderly African Americans they always asked what tribe I was from. After getting that report, there were  many questions answered.  This essay that I am sharing with you today is about living a life of resistance.  It's not what you think, when you hear that word resistance and maybe you will be like me, when you read it you too will decide to follow a life of resistance.


Hopi Indian Chief White Eagle commented a few days ago on the current situation:
′′ This moment humanity is experiencing can be seen as a door or a hole. The decision to fall in the hole or walk through the door is up to you. If you consume the news 24 hours a day, with negative energy, constantly nervous, with pessimism, you will fall into this hole.
But if you take the opportunity to look at yourself, to rethink life and death, to take care of yourself and others, then you will walk through the portal.
Take care of your home, take care of your body. Connect with your spiritual home. When you take care of yourself, you take care of everyone at the same time.
Do not underestimate the spiritual dimension of this crisis. Take the perspective of an eagle that sees everything from above with a broader view. There is a social question in this crisis, but also a spiritual question. The two go hand in hand.
Without the social dimension we fall into fanaticism. Without the spiritual dimension, we fall into pessimism and futility.
Are you ready to face this crisis. Grab your toolbox and use all the tools at your disposal.
Learn resistance from the example of Indian and African peoples: we have been and are exterminated. But we never stopped singing, dancing, lighting a fire and rejoicing.
Don't feel guilty for feeling blessed in these troubled times. Being sad or angry doesn't help at all. Resistance is resistance through joy!
You have the right to be strong and positive. And there's no other way to do it than to maintain a beautiful, happy, bright posture.
Has nothing to do with alienation (ignorance of the world). It's a resistance strategy.
When we cross the threshold, we have a new worldview because we faced our fears and difficulties. This is all you can do now:
- Serenity in the storm
- Keep calm, pray everyday
- Make a habit of meeting the sacred everyday.
Show resistance through art, joy, trust and love.
Hopi Indian Chief White Eagle
July 9th 2021

Friday, July 16, 2021

One Year

 July 16, one year ago today my life changed forever.  There have been days that I didn't think I could go on and days I wished I wouldn't.  Part of me left with Rick, maybe he didn't mean to take it with him, but he did.  

All has changed, nothing has changed.  I'm keeping the farm the way he wanted, the dogs are fine, the chickens are happy.  It has been a cooler wetter than normal summer.  That means some crops have thrived some have not.  The blueberries were the tastiest ever and the hens are laying like crazy.

I almost see him sometimes out of the corner of my eye, I feel him daily.  I hear his voice urging me on, saying you can do this.  

I am finding my way, I have stumbled blindly so many times and fallen.  I find the strength to get back up, though it takes awhile and there is nothing easy about it.  The love and support of friends and family has been my fuel, without them, without his voice in the back of my head the will to live would have withered.

Today there is weed eating to be done,  the chicken pen/house has to be cleaned.  I slept very little last night, but all through the darkness, his voice was there for comfort, "you can do this."  Before I go to sleep tonight, there is one more thing that will have to be done...I am picking up my guitar for the very first time since he left and just for him I am singing a song.  That's my gift for him on this unwanted anniversary.

I think of the phrase he told everyone he met... How you doing, they would say?  and his answer..".I am living the dream."  We had an incredible dream together, I am left with the fragments but somehow some way, I am putting them back together and adding new parts.    Nothing will ever be the same,  but my answer now for that same question,  How you doing?...."I'm ok."   

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

4th of July

 July has arrived, on the 16th of this month a year will have passed since Rick died.  It seems like yesterday, it feels like forever.

The Fourth of July was our last holiday to celebrate, who knew in 12 days he would be dead?

His sister, Mary Lois invited me to her daughter's house for the holiday.  My nephew Haven invited me to his house.  I chose to stay home alone.  I got up that morning, feeling a kind of sacredness and a realization of the difference between lonesome and loneliness.  For me, I will always be lonesome because I miss him so much.  But I am not lonely.  Keeping this farm going, friends calling and visiting, daily chores,  still sorting out my life has kept the loneliness at bay.  But missing him...how I miss him.

On Monday, the 4th I decided to take a leap of faith, a giant one.  I got out my paints and canvas and started to paint.  Other than my cards, I had not painted since his death.  Deciding on a subject to paint was easy, I had taken a photograph of flowers in the kitchen window a couple of months before he died.

He loved the photograph and kept asking me to paint it.  I did do a small water color card of the image, but me being my usual self critical self did not believe him when he told me he liked it.  I wish that I  could have bottled his confidence in my art and drank a sip every day.

So with a prayer to Rick, I sketched out the canvas with the image from the photo, but I added something that I did not capture with the camera.  I added my broken heart.  Tears and paint cover that canvas, but something happened to me as the salt and acrylic blended.  I felt at peace with myself and love from Rick.

I knew that for creativity to come back to me,  I couldn't push or force, it would come when the time was right.  I still have not picked up the guitar, but I now know, that too will come when the time is right.

This grief process is  not for the impatient.  Sure you can push it to the bottom of your soul, but I can assure you it will fester and come out in ways you never expected or might not recognize.  I didn't deal with the grief of my parents or my brother and my body and heart taught me how powerful and destructive unrecognized grief can be.

So in a very unusual way,  Independence Day brought me my independence and started the loosening of the chains on my creativity.  My celebration was not the average one, but it was the celebration I sought and needed.

There are two photos with this blog this morning, the original one I took of my kitchen window and the painting.  Fireworks of my own making.




Sunday, June 27, 2021

This Morning

 I awoke this morning with a heart overflowing with gratitude.  I was thinking of friends  and family members who have stood the test of time with me these last eleven months.  Some of them pulled me from the depths of darkness and never knew it.  I can't remember a morning since Rick died that I have not cried .  Many who grieve tell me the nights are the worst, and I agree nights are tough.  But for me, mornings are the toughest.  I have never liked Daylight Savings time, but now I dislike it even more.  The evenings drag on forever, the sunsets seem to hide on purpose waiting until I am coming out of my skin before they show their color and the stars take over the skies.  

There is something about night that allows me to breathe a sigh of relief.  I have made it through another day.  I might cry myself to sleep, I might toss and turn but I know the sun will rise tomorrow.

And then tomorrow comes.  The mornings were when we planned our day.  When we talked about about serious stuff, fluff, nothing and everything and tossed around ideas for columns and our blogs, as we drank our morning coffee.  We would sit on the deck or the screened porch,  if the weather gods were in our favor.  I would often chastise him about his phone, because even then it was in his hands, but that was Rick and for whatever the reason, he wanted to be connected 24/7.  We would pet the dogs, talk about how we lived in a piece of heaven and discuss breakfast, and listen to the hens cluck.  The mornings were sacred and we would both be a bit out of sorts if something robbed us of that time. 

So this morning before I looked at my phone, I spent some time sending love to those who have gone through this hard season with me.  I carry all of you in my heart, like tokens and charms of love and kindness.  Sometimes I call your names and see your faces, almost able to physically touch each one like a prayer bead.

When I did look at my phone, I laughed and cried.  My nephew James, the publisher of our daily paper and one of the papers that Rick wrote for had tagged me in a FB post.  Last night at the Alabama Press Association Awards, one of Rick's columns that he wrote for a paper in Birmingham, 280 Living, won first place for best humorous column.  Rick would be beside himself with joy.  Winning that award was something he had strived for.  I hope he is somewhere this morning drinking champagne and laughing, because that is what we would have done today.  Congratulations Babe, I kept telling you it would happen!  This morning just got better.


 

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Summer's First


 She is the first for the summer of 2021.  I fell in love with gardenias as a child.  My grandmother Mamie had them in her flower garden.  Each time I smell that rich sweet, yet earthy fragrance I feel a beckoning. I think the scent is like the siren's call, reminding me summer is here, enjoy its bounty.  The purity of those white petals against the  malachite of her leaves gives me indescribable joy.  When I saw this first blossom on Monday by my grill, my first thought was of Rick.  I think he sent me a gift, because so far there are no other blossoms, plenty of buds, but no other blooms.

Every summer, I fill the house with gardenia blossoms.  She makes the heat and humidity of summer tolerable.  There are a least a dozen bushes on the farm.  Most are taller than me, some have the circumference of my Outback.  Some years the flowers are small, but if this first one is any indication of this year, they are going to be large.

Our friends, Keith and Roberta's wedding was one of those wonderful memories forever etched in my brain.  Rick and I were in the wedding party, we took the photographs, it was the day before my birthday and it was in NYC.  They had gardenia bushes in full bloom for their flowers.  Not sure where they got them in March, in NYC but I think of their wedding and the happiness we all shared when I see gardenias.

The temps are rising, so is the humidity.  There is rain this morning and for most of the week. But the gardenias will bloom and as nature has shown me so many times since Rick has died, life goes on.