Quid Nunc?

Where do we go from here?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Coming of the Green

Because being retired in a recession is just not fun; is, in fact, quite scary,  when Continuing Ed at UNM yelled for help a couple of weeks ago with two ESOL classes whose instructor resigned in mid-term (to take a job through the State Dept, teaching in Brazil - oh how sad for her), much against my will, I said yes.  They pay well, and because when we decided to retire early,  we foolishly imagined our retirement savings would be making some decent interest, and now find the joke to be on us - this will be a welcome financial addition to our summer travel fund. So, to my sorrow I'm now spending a lot more time indoors than I want to at this time of year.

It's currently that week that always comes too soon, too early, and tricks us into believing that it's spring.  I didn't have class yesterday, so - so I was able to spend a good part of the morning in the yard, mostly watering, but also doing some of the vast amount of clean-up that needs to be done before everything bursts forth.  While I was at it, I cleaned out the big planter on the back patio, fluffed up the dirt with a little new compost, and threw down some seeds of green stuff: cilantro, arugula, some lettuce.  We eat a lot of salads, and are constantly finding that we're out of something vital and green. Being able to just step out the back door and pick a colander full of what we want to throw in the salad is so much better than daily trips to La Montanita or Whole Foods.  This whole week is going to be warm and sunny - a storm will blow in from the Pacific NW late in the weekend or early next week, but only supposed to bring rain and somewhat lowered temps. I might even be seeing green sprouting by that time, and rain will bless its progress far more than what comes out of the hose. Although I still have water in the collection barrels from Saturday's snowmelt off the roof. It's nice, so nice, to have something positive for which to wait, to look forward with happy anticipation.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Something Completely Different

PENGUINS!!  I've been spending a ridiculous amount of time watching this after I posted it on Facebook, but I want to link to it here so I can find it even after the FB post disappears down the page.  What we have here is an exhibit at the San Diego SeaWorld of 300 live penguins - all sorts of penguins! - It's for, and in concert with, the Discovery Channel's coming series Frozen Planet.  I don't get the Discovery channel, but these penguins are making me very very happy.  Jessica - I think the girls will be crazy about this - as will you too. At times it's as if they were looking right at you - do they actually know there's a camera there?

I think I have embedded it on this post, if it doesn't work for you, please let me know.  You can make it fill your screen - and it's like you're right there with the penguins. If the video isn't working for you, this link will take you to it, I hope.

Live Video app for Facebook by Ustream

Monday, March 05, 2012

January, Great Horned Owl

I haven't managed to write about the Alamosa owls, but before I finally leave the subject of owls behind,  I looked up a poem I wrote some years ago, when we still had the guest house in North Truro, and were spending the winters in Dallas.  Another gift of visitation from a great horned - in a house we rented that winter - we also rented a hot tub to put out on the patio, and it was one of the best winters of my life.  A yard full of pecan trees, a nearby stream, a sun porch looking out on it all - and birds galore.

    January, Great Horned Owl

A hot tub soak
to wash away midwinter’s
aches and pains,
alone,  I thought,
under January stars,
high bare branches
of the pecan grove,
naked and alone
in warmth and steam.
Until I heard him hunting
in the trees along the creek,
heard the voice that sent
all small things scurrying for cover
 in the grasses, under rocks.
Silence then,
bubbling jets the only sound
in waiting breathlessness.
Rags of cloud chased moon
through branches,
chased his shadow sailing in
on silent wings to settle
on a limb over the roof,
a place where we could
watch each other for a while.
I was not prey that night,
though naked, soft and warm,
perhaps my steam and bubbles
were mysteries to him,
as his immensity and silence
were to me.
Though stars and satellites
continued on their journeys, as did I,
 that night is with me still:
a visit from the great dark god.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Twilight Owls

Lisa's comment on my last post, about not seeing a single "wild" owl this year made me remember a wonderful experience Gail and I had last fall in Alamosa, CO.  We were staying in a campground just across from the Alamosa NWR, and on our last evening there decided to take one last walk in the Refuge.  It was later than made sense to head out into an area where we hadn't walked before, but the trail called us ever on.  We were walking along one side of a drainage ditch, in the gathering twilight, when we started hearing a great horned owl calling somewhere ahead of us.  There was one tall tree further up the bank, and we headed towards it.  As we got closer we could tell that the call was coming from somewhere in that tree, and as we drew even closer, I finally saw the bird out towards the end of an almost bare high limb. It moved its head every time it made its call, otherwise it was perfectly still.  We stood and watched for a while, but the approaching darkness turned us around to head back.  As we started back along the trail, we heard another great horned called from the opposite direction than the one we had first seen.  We stood still to listen, and had the amazing privilege of hearing what I can only call a conversation between the two birds. The calls were coming from both directions, and each bird would answer the other.  We kept scanning the trees across the ditch as we headed out, but never managed to see the second bird.  It was too dark, and the trees where the call came from were too thick 

If I were Mary Oliver I could have captured that heart-stopping moment of awe and wonder, that experience of great gift, in a poem - but there is only one Mary Oliver, and she was not there with us. I have tried writing my own poem about it, and will perhaps continue to work with it.  It was really beyond words for me, however, it was spirit in its purest form.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Warm and Wonderful

The green chile cornbread I just pulled out of the oven, that is.  Food is really my favorite subject, and I can't bear to start yet another blog just for the purpose of food-blogging.  So, as I don't have much time right now, and I am determined to keep my hand in at this - just a little note about how happy I am that vegan baking is so easy, and the results so wonderful.  I love to bake, always have, and was afraid that it would have to become a thing of the past once we switched to a vegan diet.  Instead, I find myself baking much more often than I used to - as finding baked goods that are vegan and either lowfat or fatfree is no easy thing.  If anyone's interested, I'll try to recreate the recipe later today.  It's a conflation of two real recipes, and my own creative touches.

I'm off soon to the New Volunteer Brunch at the Rio Grande Nature Center, where I have been a volunteer since soon after we moved here. The "veteran" volunteers give the new volunteers a welcome brunch at the end of their training - and this year's is today - the cornbread is my offering - and I'm having a hard time not cutting into it right now, while it's warm and fragrant and I have a hot cup of coffee to go with it.

      Here's a previous post about the Nature Center, from some time back.  My volunteering is sporadic, largely depending on if I am also teaching, how much I'm traveling, and so forth.  But I always go back, and of course visit often simply for walking the trails, birding, watching the river. It's a major hangout for the sandhill cranes during the winter - but they have just about all left for parts north at this point.  There's a great horned owl nest in some high branches back in a ways off the bike path through the Bosque, at the edge of the park - an owl has been on the nest for a while now, incubating - and I'm hoping for some babies when I go take a peek at it today.

Friday, March 02, 2012


When last I was here, I posted that I was going to be a better blogger.  Write more, and more often. Well, I'm back - in less than a month even - but only to say how overwhelmed I am at, by...everything.  The more I read, and think, the less I can write. My head is a wild clamor of so many subjects, so many ideas, so many, just, things.  I know I've blamed this inability-to-write problem on Facebook previously - and I may have to do so here again.  But in a different way than I've experienced it before.  It's a timesuck, that's for sure - but it's also a wide open window on the wide wide world.  On it I have access to all the periodicals and bloggers I find fascinating, all the sites with endless realms of information, access to more than I can cope with, MORE, MORE, JUST ONE MORE!!   And my head fills up, and my brain spins around, and before I know I have to leave the computer to do the Real Stuff of my life - and no blogging has happened here. 

So for a while anyway, I'm mostly going to use this space as a sort of Commonplace Book. If I can write, I'll write.  If not, I'll use it as a place to store things I have found elsewhere, and love - or want to pay more attention to later, or think about further.  I've always done this in my written journals, copied in quotes or poems, pasted in cartoons or photos - and here I have the electronic advantage of being able to copy and paste in anything I find and want to keep at hand.

It just so happens that I have one, that I've been using as a sort of meditation.  Someone else's blog post, so all I can do is give the link here, hoping that it will continue to work for a long time.  This is a photo essay on the Japanese Gardens at the Ft. Worth TX Botanical Gardens.  It's been many years since I've been to these gardens, but I see that is a huge mistake. I often go to Dallas for family reasons, and why not go another thirty some miles and spend a day in Fort Worth. We have a new Japanese Garden here in our own much smaller Albuquerque Botanical Gardens, and it is a lovely place I visit often when my heart and soul need calming. Maybe I'll do a photo essay there one of these days.  But, for now, we can all still our souls and uplift our hearts with the beauty of Harry's Ghost's winter tranquility.

Japanese Garden Blossoms In Winter's Repose (Photo Essay)

Monday, February 13, 2012

How To Begin - Getting The Fingers Back On The Keys

Home alone, except for the cats of course, on a blustery cold grey day, with a buggy tummy that kept me up all night. I should probably be trying to sleep, and soon I guess I will.  But the fact that I haven't blogged for over three months, not written anything at all, is beginning to prey upon my soul. I think about writing, I write all kinds of things in my head in the middle of the night - but then when daylight comes, about all I manage to write are a few necessary emails and some this 'n that on Facebook.

I have noticed that some of my dear old friends (Lisa, Robin, Jackie, Kat, Judith) from early blogging days, when we called it journaling, are writing copiously in their blogs - and my resolution is to spend some quality time reading back through their posts, both to get caught up with their lives and thoughts, and to hopefully inspire my own fingers to move on the keys. I follow many blogs, at least nominally, but I don't often really sit down and do consecutive reading of posts. This seems to me like a mistake, and one that I am going to try to rectify. I will begin today, while I feel too crappy to do much of anything else.

P.S. - March 2 - It takes a LONG TIME to read through my friends' blogs.  I haven't gotten very far, got caught up on a couple of people's older posts, and then of course they have to go and write NEW ones.  So I'm behind again on even those blogs.  Plus there are all the others that I haven't even started on yet.  Perhaps more of a Sisyphean task than I knew when I decided to undertake it?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Long Day's Journey Into Family

Long time passing with no blogging here, due to Life Constantly Happening.  As long as I am tethered to a desktop computer (laptop stolen soon after we moved to ABQ) I can only blog when I'm at home, and at home with nothing else to do, at that. This seems to happen very seldom. Much of August was spent traveling across the country to get to my niece's wedding in Philadelphia, a lot of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee in between - along with a little Virginia and Maryland.  The wedding was a delightful gathering of the clan, my niece was beautiful, as she always is, my brother and sister-in-law were proud and happy, the groom seems like a really great guy.  Having made the mistake of moving so far away from most of my family, occasions like these are wonderful opportunities to see everyone, watch the kids growing up, meet the newest family members - and, since a big party was involved, dance our butts off.  I have lots of adorable nieces and nephews, as well as a growing number of great-nieces and nephews, and most of them were there in Philadelphia for the wedding.

But, the New England gang wasn't able to come - so, as we were only a day's journey south, when the Philadelphia diaspora happened and everyone packed up to head home, Gail and I headed to Cape Cod, where we met up with my niece Jessica and her two little girls for almost a week of camping at the beach. My nephews, Jess' brother Tom and her partner Steve, were able to come out for the first night and join in our big cookout, so I was able to see everyone I am related to, with the exception of another nephew who wasn't able to get to the Cape, during this big trip East.

We had of course planned this camping excursion well in advance, and I have to say it was just more fun than should be legal - but it ended in a scramble to leave the Cape before Hurricane Irene got close enough to blow us off. Jess and the girlies went back to Rhode Island to get their own digs battened down, and Gail and I took down the tent and spent our last night in the car (it's a Honda Element, so we often sleep in it when camping anyway), got up before dawn and made it off the bridge before the traffic piled up on Rt. 6. This time by the water filled up our ocean-homesick souls, and sent us back to the high desert vowing to immediately start saving for next year's sojourn on the Atlantic coast.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Postponing The Final Answer

I've been working on Robin's third question, What do you consider to be the big question or conundrum of your life? for several days now.  I'm off on a three week trip for several family events on the east coast, and this question has done what perhaps it was meant to do - made me start deeply thinking about a lot of things in my life up to this point - where I've been, where I am now, where I can possibly go from here.  I am saving what I've written so far in a separate post which I may eventually publish, or it may turn out to be too personal to want to put it out there in public.  In any case, I don't have time right now.  I will be thinking on this as I visit my nephew in jail, attend my niece's wedding, camp with another niece and her two little girls in North Truro, see my remaining siblings, all my nieces and nephews as well as great nieces and nephews, and in general have family immersion therapy.  The answer I am working on to this question has everything to do with family and home, so it will be most interesting to see what comes up over the next three weeks.

I think, Robin, you may be as good a pastoral counselor as I imagined you might be - to get me thinking like this by your virtual questioning - what would you be able to do in person?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Okay, I'm Game

Over at Robin's blog Metanoia, something interesting is going on.  In a post titled "Try This" she offers five lists to make - no explanation, no context, just do it.  So, okay, I will.

1.  Five Colors:

Leaf-green, Sky-blue, Brown, Smoky grey, Bright orange

2,  Five Cities:

Boston, San Antonio, Paris, Santa Fe, San Fransisco

3. Five Landscapes:

Cape Cod dunes, Ponds at Bosque del Apache at sunset when the cranes fly in, Sandia mountains when the setting sun colors them red,  Chincoteague beaches, with ponies and waves,Texas Hill Country in the spring, with bluebonnets.

4. Five Interiors:

 My sister's beautiful redone basement (I could describe it, but you have to take my word for it), a friend's herb shed/workshop on her farm, our own living room in the winter with a fire in the kiva fireplace, any darkened bedroom with the sound of sleeping children breathing, my mother's kitchen (this one is just a memory now, long gone) with the long table where we all used to eat, the big stone fireplace, the wonderful smells.

5. Five Things You Might Wear:

Big linen shirts, sandals, jeans, gardening gloves, straw hats.

Okay, there's my lists.  It's past my bedtime, but I may have to go see what happens next.  There's a second question coming up, and I have to at least go see it.

So - Second Question:  Within each of your groups, do you see commonalities?  

1.  I think the commonalities here are that these are all colors I love in nature - the first two are obvious, smoky grey is the color of winter skies, and right now my backyard is riot of oranges, in the flowers that are blooming.

2, Yes, absolutely commonalities - these are all cities that are sui generis, each one unique,  with histories, representing a culture, brimming with culture in fact - great walking cities, cities with great food.

3. All of these are places I love, places that have spoken to my heart, places I'd gladly have my ashes deposited so I could be part of them forever.

4.  This one is a little harder - but I think they are all interiors that connect to my family or friends, that say something about life to me, life as we humans live it, especially together.

5. All comfortable, practical things.  It's all I can stand to wear.  I've just been through a week of shopping for something to wear to my niece's wedding later this month - and in the end it's going to be:  big white linen shirt, a pair a of black linen trousers, black strappy sandals, with turquoise necklace and bracelets. That's as good as it gets, for me.