Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Root, Hog, or Die

I forgot to say that since plants are pushed on by "coded cells," (they're gonna do what they're gonna do) and I'm ready for spring to be here (while still grateful for all the things already blooming), I threw some wild flower seeds out in a bare part of our woods, hoping one or two or four will push through and bloom. Otherwise, my bad self says, "Let 'em root, hog, or die." I know, that doesn't exactly sound like a loving or hopeful sendoff but it's the best I had at the time. I'll let ya know how they do.




Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ah, February

I've had my checkup at MD Anderson and all was well. I don't go back until June. I've had another birthday, celebrated by having a mammogram on the left side after doing the right side the day before. The doctor was annoyed that they didn't do both at the same time. I'd asked, but they told me I only needed the one done. Next time, I'll know, and insist that they do both or check with the doctor if need be. If I haven't learned anything else from "The Cancer(s)", I'm learning to speak up for myself.

I've been reading Pilgrim at Tinker Creek again, and thinking of my blogging friend Jim. He encouraged me to read it. I've started and stopped the book a couple of times but I'm hanging with it this time around. My sadness is that I won't be able to discuss what I've read with Jim. He was right, now that I've finally settled down and stuck with my reading, I am enjoying the book. Annie Dillard is a fantastic writer. The book is awe inspiring and disconcerting all at the same time.

I've still been struggling a bit with feeling down. I'm doing what I can to take care of myself. One of the ways I do that is by getting out with my camera, which I did this weekend. I do think part of my being down is a normal (for me) seasonal thing. I'm ready for the next season to begin. And Spring feels like such a hopeful season. At our place in the country, the azaleas are blooming, and the wild jasmine, and the little daffodils that came from my grandmother's house. Green leaves are shooting out on bare limbs. Hope is everywhere.

So I took a few photos...

 These are the daffodils (I think that's what they are, you should know I am not great with details!) that came from my grandmother's house, that came from someone else's house.
 This photo was taken in the evening, during what is known as the "golden hour." I looked out and the light was so gorgeous, I had to try and capture the scene. I was actually almost too late.
These are the wild jasmines growing up in the trees. They have a pretty scent but the blooms were to high for me to smell.

Here is something I read in the Pilgrim at Tinker Creek book:

"The way plants persevere in the bitterest of circumstances is utterly heartening. I can barely keep from unconsciously ascribing a will to these plants, a do-or-die courage, and I have to remind myself that coded cells and mute water pressure have no idea how grandly they are flying in the teeth of it all."

See what she did there? You're all warmhearted and fuzzy about the plants persevering and you see your own self persevering and it's wonderful in your head. And then she hits you with the facts of coded cells and mute water pressure! And I can't help wondering how much my own coding is interfering with my current state of feeling glum, and how does that affect my attempts to get through this vague darkness?

More to come...

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Not Gonna Lie To You

My dad tells the story of a guy in his past who was often guilty of stretching the truth. The guy was telling a story one day that began with these ways, "I'm not gonna lie to ya now..." and before he could continue on, someone interrupted to say something like, "Gosh, son, don't make any exceptions, you lie to everybody else..."

So, I'll tell ya, I'm not gonna lie to you. Some of the things that have been happening after the election have disturbed and worried me. I've never been one to speak out about things. It's outside my comfort zone to do so. But there are things going on now in this country that just aren't right. I've been observing and reading the things my more outspoken friends have been posting on Facebook. I've been thinking about what it is I can do, or need to do. I don't yet totally know. I've been reminded that the best way for me to respond to any of it is in my own way.

They say art is healing. In some ways, I suppose it is. At the very least, for me, it's good self care. And I think a lot of us need plenty of self care in these days. I'm just not sure how that helps our country, which I feel is in great peril. These are tough times we are living in.




Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Thresholds (and Horizons)

I go back to MD Anderson every 3-4 months for checkups. During the between times, I really don't think much at all about my history of cancer. But each time, as the time for the appointments gets closer, I do start to think and fret, just a little bit, over what they might find. I wonder whether or not the cancer has come back. I'm a realist, the return is always a possibility. I don't want to have a fatalistic attitude about the possibility, but I also never want to breeze in to my checkups with the mindset that this is a problem that has been completely and totally obliterated.

Sometimes I get aggravated about having to go back so often, about having to take so many days off work to go get checked out. It's just part of the process. And the times between appointments will eventually get longer, if I keep having clear scans. But right now, the 3-4 months seem to pass so quickly and I feel like I'm going again when I just returned from being checked! I'd like to put it all out of my mind and my sight and just move on with my life. Like it was before the cancer. Every time I go back, I am reminded of the vulnerable state of my health.

I've been thinking about thresholds this month. This past week, while I was in Houston, showing up for various tests and appointments, I realized, that's all this is--another threshold that I happen to be standing on. There is no need for me to fret or worry or resent having to stand here on this particular threshold. Every single time I stand on this or any other threshold, there is a horizon beckoning. I might not know what's waiting out there in the distance but it's always something and all I have to do is keep walking my path toward the beckoning horizon. 

We all have thresholds where we stand and look toward the horizon. I'm not the only one who has unpleasant and uncomfortable thresholds to cross (and cross again). I've decided I'm going to release the view of myself as vulnerable to my health. I am vulnerable to my health, to my own mortality, but so is everyone else so why should I whine about the vulnerability always being "in my face"? Lord knows I'm not near as vulnerable as some. I am more aware than some. But there is no need for me to whine and complain about it. The dang checkups are a part of my new normal now. I'll live with them and accept them as best I can. I decided early on that things like this can surely shape me, but they will not define me.

(All was clear this time around. I still have to go back in February for the breast cancer checkup, and return again in a few months for the colon checkup. I don't go back for a liver check until next January!)

"One never reaches a horizon...To move toward a horizon is simply to have a new horizon." James P. Carse

"Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold. W. Eugene Smith






Thursday, January 05, 2017

Project Thoughtful Thursday, Week 17

After two weeks off, I'm getting back on track. I never really intended to post these things online. They are playing cards and so many times the writing has been hard to read in the photo.

"The world is a miracle and you forget time and time again your whole life. But if you remember more than you forget, you'll be fine." Brian Andreas

And would you look a' there, as big as Dallas, I've written "you're" when I intended to write "your." I hope that does not distract us from thinking about how often we do forget that the world is a miracle. I know many of us are having to work very hard at remembering more than we forget. 

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Thinking On The Page

I've often wondered, in the past year, if blogging is still relevant. I've asked myself if it matters whether I blog or I don't blog. Facebook, with its near instant response and continually changing flow of news has usurped my blogging habit. I've never really been happy about that. But I also haven't done anything to stop it from happening.

One of the lessons in the Spirit Wings class (Kelly Rae Roberts) I'm doing is on building community. It's also one of the chapters in her book, Taking Flight, written in 2008. When I started blogging in 2004, the poetry community I'd been involved in had broken down and I sorely missed my online community and had no outlet for writing, or for bantering back and forth about writing. I was also in school, learning about photography and art, which meant my blog soon took on a focus beyond the written word. Visuals were added. Now I feel like I need to include at least one picture with every post!

(Plus, one of my male teachers at school, where I was an older, non-tradtional student, probably only a couple of years younger than the teacher, joked that I was "technologically challenged." I remember working on getting this thing up and running, and I had fleeting thoughts of "I'll show you!" Ha! I'm stubborn
tenacious! The trait has served me well throughout my life.)

Relevant or not, I've made some great friends through writing on this blog. I've met many of them. I have a virtual creative community, a tribe, a sense of belonging. I'm very grateful for that. I do still long for an in person face to face creative community but have not yet found that.

My writing, my art, my life, so much has changed in the last 12 or so years that I have been writing here. I count that as all good. To me, it indicates growth. And I want to grow until my dying day.

I won't give this up. The habit, however inconsistent it is, is still relevant to me. The friends, the community, the tribe I've gained from being out here is all lagniappe. I'm grateful for each person who reads and/or comments on this blog. I'm grateful for the connections made.

I am still operating under the radar, so to speak. Most of my day to day friends know nothing about this blog. When I think about going public on Facebook, I get all tight and nervous. But I think bringing the blog out in the open might be a growing point for me. Doing so does not feel as scary as it has felt.

So, to answer my own question, yes, blogging is still relevant to me. It is a creative outlet. It is a source of friendship, community, and support. It is a repository for pieces of me.

If you aren't interested in reading my long self-indulgent ramblings, here, have some art. I have more ramblings on the mere word "art,' but I'll save those for another day! I checked out a book to read for free on my Kindle because I like this artist's work and wanted to learn more about it. I think I'll probably eventually buy the book, The Art of Expressive Collage: Techniques for Creating with Paper and Glue, by Crystal Neubauer. That's one of the things I want to do this year, stop just admiring other people's stuff and do more of my own stuff!

Here...

 These are experiments of learning. I can see where I can improve. But I have all these old letters and pictures and I've always been reluctant to use them, for fear of wasting them. Fooey on that! I'm going to be courageous in wasting...using my somewhat vast store of ephemera. This piece is on an 8X10(ish) sheet of watercolor paper.

This one is on a 4X6 piece of watercolor paper. I have blank cards and I will probably glue it to one of those.

Happy New Year. May we all do the best we can at sharing our particular light into the coming year.



Friday, December 30, 2016

Checking In Before the End of the Year

I've missed two weeks of the Project Thoughtful Thursday posts. I'll pick up next week, after the holidays.

In the meantime, here is a tiny little tree I sketched during my time off.

And another little sketch that I photographed and tweaked a bit before adding the words.