Archive for January, 2013

SEEING WISELY

January 26, 2013

Sunny's World (794x1024) (3)            Three days ago, I had the first cataract removed from my sixty-eight-year-old eyes. I am halfway through the process…midway between a shadowed world and a clear bright vista. Already it feels like a miracle: My right eye opens on a world washed clean, a landscape promising increased potential. Yes, I can see, even as the eye is tender, almost tentative in its looking. The pupil is not yet adjusted since surgery; in the mirror I see a tiny dot of a pupil swimming in a sea-green iris. It doesn’t yet do its job of adjusting to light and dark. A curtain seems to obscure the clarity along one side. Even so, I see as I have not done in years. I may be tempted to act as though the process is complete, while the other eye still waits its turn.

Alone in my house, I am following the doctor’s instructions: no bending over or lifting of heavy things, three drops of medicine in the operated eye three times a day, no water in the eye, sleep with a shield protecting the still-mending eye, no driving until the anesthesia wears off, and start preparing the left eye with drops three days before the second surgery. Aside from the doctor’s cautionary voice, my own instinct tells me to take care, to respect this miraculous process. It is no small thing.

My sister and cousin have invited me to go tomorrow for breakfast and to see the orchid exhibit at the mall. As much as I might want to see and photograph the orchids, I know that malls are noisy places lit by unnatural lighting. And I know that I would subdue my own needs in the face of the others’ pleasure. My need for quiet at this time is great, as is my need for moderation in all things. I need to trust the same intuition that led me to take the little dogs to doggy camp. I knew I would not be able to keep up with their lovely energy, their expectations or demands. Obeying the subtle flow of my inner direction would be impossible. Whereas, the old cat curling beside me now inhabits the land of feline surrender. His soft warm fur breathes out contentment. Wanting nothing, he stays where he is. I, too, have surrendered; I will stay where I am.

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EXPLORING THE TERRAIN

January 12, 2013

WaitingExploring the terain of where I live and

seeing it through photographic images,

I am also on an exploration of

my individual perceptions.

What pleases me about a photograph

may not always be the clarity of

shell, of bird, of tree, of face

or the rippled luminosity of

the water’s surface.

This shell is clear

as is the marvelous sand carved out by

the high-tide action of the waves.

But what about this little family of ducks?

Family PortraitI don’t know why it pleases me so much,

except that as I zoomed in close

on this delightful group,

I fell in love.

I took some clearer shots.

Yet when I opened this one and

took in the colors and the textures,

it was like peering closely at

the water lilies of  Monet in

the L’Orangerie of Paris.

The blur of pattern, dashes of color

so entranced me that

I fell into deeper love with Monet,

and with the little ducks.

Even before I took the photograph,

I had been drawn

to images that blurred the edges of

acceptibility.

Come to think of it,

I lived a life that blured the edges.

Loon In LightI also love this loon that swam

so quickly out of the frame that

I must drop the leashes of my dogs

in frensied pursuit.

The loon is blurred,

but look how proud he is

to leave me in his wake.

I wake up every morning with

my mind and body blurred by sleepy dreams,

but East beach waits for me.

Simply releasing the little dogs

and walking freely toward

the water’s edge

wakes me to the beauty of familiar dances.

Dancer With True PoiseMy mind is clear

as I take in the immediacy of

a wading heron.

Clarity be damned,

I love the poise of this bird.

She is immobile, yet she moves.

Her windblown tresses don’t deny

the firmness of her stance,

her readiness to dance.

Always opinions will differ as to

(What is Art?).

And what brings joy to the eye

is individual as well.

Mixed Media by Nature (768x1024) (2)Art happens to be a reference point to me,

because of my upbringing

as an artist’s daughter.

I can’t help seeing painterly hues,

sculpted forms, dancing gestures…

in nature and in photographs of nature.

Thank heaven for the pleasure of the seeing.

Epiphany (Little Christmas)

January 7, 2013

Remembering Mama on Christmas    (767x1024) (2)Today is Epiphany, which has always meant Mama’s birthday to me, no matter that she has been physically gone since 1991. I took this photograph just before Christmas when my siblings and I made sprays and carried them to the cemetary. A star is engraved on her stone to remember the very special day that she was born. On Epiphany, a very bright star led the wisemen to the stable in which the newborn Jesus lay. My mother was both wise and a star to me, guidance that I always turned to and still do. Today I remembered Mama by writing one of the vignettes for a book I am working on in memory of my life with her.

                                          Little Christmas

Many Christmases ago, when I was a little girl, my mama was big. In stature she was five feet eight inches – which was tall back then – but Mama was big  in many ways, and I looked up to her. She was mother and father and everything in between, and – at Christmas time, she was perfectly capable of being Santa Claus as well. Of course it was some time before I knew this. As a very little girl, I watched my mama put up a tree in our living room, string magical bubble lights onto the branches, and open a box full of ornaments than looked more familiar every year. Mary and Billy were big enough to help her hook these onto the tree. I was too small; the shiny glass balls might break and cut my hands. I must wait for the foil icicles to be draped on my tiny fingers, then instructed to “Throw them, Leify!” by my older siblings. I could see how they were supposed to look; long silver strands were already gracing the upper branches. So I happily threw, not prepared for the unlovely clump that could result.  I remember one such time when tears filled my eyes and I was ready to dash for one of my many hiding places. But Mama was quick; her arms swept me up and held me close to the fragrant needles. Her voice was soft as she placed a single sparkling strand between my thumb and forefinger: “Try again, my blessing, more gently. You can do it.”

I could do it. She was right. I can still see the perfect glittering fall of that single icicle, and the ones to follow…in whatever form as the years fled past. Her patience and persistent faith gave me more persistence than I might have had, shy and sensitive creature that I was. My tendency to despair and run away from seeming failures was counteracted countless times by my mother’s tender voice. I can still hear the reliable loving admonition to “Try again, my blessing”. Though my mama’s physical presence is no longer near, her voice and her faith are one with who I am. Her gentle guidance is as dependable as my own breathing.

But, back to Christmas, or back to the Christmas season. In our family, it wasn’t over until January 6th had come and gone. For Mama was born on Epiphany, Twelfth Night, Little Christmas. And every year we celebrated our mother’s birth. Aunts, uncles and cousins, too… All gathered to watch my mama open her gifts. Everyone sampled dense almond-flavored cake with a lucky nutmeg baked inside. All of us wanted to be blessed with luck for the coming year, but it was best for the birthday girl to get the nutmeg. Everyone loved Mama and wished her well. Later, Christmas greens were burned in the fireplace. Branches stripped from the various trees were tossed on the flames to crackle and spit, filling the air with an aromatic scent. A special peace came over the room where so many sat. There was something solemn and quieting about this ritual.

Even now, as the memory of those epiphany evenings returns to me, my mother’s presence is equally real to me. Her strength and gentleness are in the smile I see in my mind’s eye…feel in my heart, and I think of the tiny premature baby born at home one hundred and four years ago. No incubators then… The Mammy of the household washed her in whiskey, swaddled her tightly, and placed her in a shoebox surrounded by hot bricks. For the first few hours of her life, she lay in an oversized wicker chair brought close to the fireplace. The dancing flames must have leapt in her brand new eyes.

CROSSING THE THRESHOLD

January 2, 2013

Music - Crossing The Threshold (1024x768) (3)I did not write about Christmas.

Christmas happened,

and I went along for the ride.

For the past three days of relative peace,

I have combed through photographic images:

countless accumulated images

cronicling Christmas.

There were shrimp boats, gaily decked with lights

in the nearby harbor,

trees with gifts and grandchildren nestled beneath,

a cemetary visit with wreathes to place

on the graves of loved ones,

granddaughter, Julia,

searching for fairies in a brand new pop-up book.

Yet the image that hovers most invitingly

as I contemplate the beginning of this new year

is of Music dog crossing a threshold of sorts,

taking the first step onto the sunlit bricks

that lead to our home.

He has stepped into light and paused

as though contemplating further committment.

I project, of course, thinking…

out of the old year, into the new.

In truth,

I love the simplicity of this image.

It appeals to my longing

to take my time

to savor the gesture that carries me forward.

I would contemplate this moment now:

this place of light and shadow

is enough.