I just learned that a neighbor died. Alone. In their home. I don’t know any details beyond that. In trying to process all this, I went in search of a quotation that might speak to me and help make sense of the situation. This, from Kurt Vonnegut, caught my eye: There is love enough in this world for everybody, if people will just look. That sentiment felt applicable because of how the neighbor had alienated others to the extent that no one could pinpoint for the police when the neighbor had last been seen. In my mind, the aloneness had been needlessly self-inflicted over the years, destroying relationships that had once thrived. Then I happened upon this quotation from Orson Welles: We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone. Who was I to pity the neighbor when every one of us will make that final trip alone? Our neighbor was fiercely independent and very proud of that fact.
I recently read Smoke Gets In Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory which was quite helpful, not only because it put death in perspective, but also for leading me to human composting. For years, I’d been telling Zippy that when I die I wanted him to toss my body in the forest so that the crows and whatever else could feast on my remains. He patiently and repeatedly pointed out how he’d probably get in serious trouble for disposing of his wife’s body in the woods. But now I have a plan that’s legal and suits my wishes. It’s incredibly freeing to know that when I die, my body will not only return to the soil but also enrich the earth. I hope my neighbor experienced a similar peace by having a death plan in place. I also hope their death was swift and painless, and that they maintained their sense of indomitability to the very end. When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home. ~ Tecumseh
This flower from my garden is a stand-in for the photos I took years ago of my neighbor’s iris. They were out of state that spring and sad to miss their garden in bloom, so I documented the display and sent it along. Remembering that connection eases some of today’s shock.
May 13, 2020
Death forces us to think more about life and how we’re spending our finite time here. Zippy and I are grateful to have our sons visiting now and we’ve shared even more hugs than usual today. If you’ve read this far, thank you for sharing in these musings with me. I’m grateful for our connection.
We woke to a snowstorm this morning (hooray!) and it’s been fun watching the birds. The usual suspects have shown up — Eurasian Collared-dove parked in the feeder dish while a Mourning Dove perched on the rim of the heated bath — along with a visit from a Blue Jay. We do see them now and again, but they are a bit more rare, so it was a nice surprise when I spotted this one through the kitchen window.
January 25, 2022
Wildebeest and Zebu are coming for a visit and we’ve been spending lots of time cleaning the house that has become quite messy over the past months. “Wash windows” was on my to-do list but that hasn’t happened yet which means my bird photos suffer. This Red-breasted Nuthatch would appear more vibrant had I washed the window as planned.
Ah, well. As long as the glass doesn’t become opaque, I guess it’s okay.
January 21, 2022
My signature dish
impossible to conceal
proof is in the air
Zippy took this photo and I played with the settings. Not sure he or the crow would appreciate my artistic input, but that’s okay because I very much like the lighting and colors, and what I interpret as a stance both confident and vulnerable.
Photo by Zippy. November 22, 2021.
I can relate to that juxtaposition of attitudes.
This image of our Christmas Cactus (aka Schlumbergera) is sharp in places and soft in others because the camera’s focus wasn’t evenly distributed. In other words, a perfect image for today.
November 17, 2021
- I’m experiencing ptsd-related issues in which my eyes struggle to process detail**, which means this mixture of sharp and soft feels familiar and
- while rereading my critique partners’ notes during today’s session of revision work on my latest middle grade novel, their comments revealed that while some parts of my story were in sharp, undeniable detail, other components were so soft around the edges those readers were unable to interpret intent.
This lovely bloom is a reminder that I need to keep working on my focus.
**for which I’m doing daily vision therapy to bring my eyes back into balance
Here’s yet another prescient reminder from MLK, this from his 1965 Oberlin Commencement address (“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution”):
“All I’m saying is simply this: that all mankind is tied together; all life is interrelated, and we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of identity. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what I ought to be until I am what I ought to be – this is the interrelated structure of reality.”
Every single issue you can think of — global pandemic, ecological collapse, mass incarceration, wealth inequality, etc. — is addressed in that statement. ALL life is interrelated. And yet, here we are, still madly dancing to capitalism-a-go-go.
Eurasian Collared-dove. January 1, 2022
Smart and not-so-smart
warms herself on heated rim
then poops in water
Dove both smart and dumb original line too mean & judgmental
These finches (look closely, there are two) offer a good representation for my current emotional and mental state.
January 1, 2022
Sometimes my feelings are bright, cheery, and upbeat–as they were yesterday while walking in the sunshine with Emma Jean-Jean–and other times my emotions feel more drab and less hopeful, as this morning when tears overwhelmed me during my first yoga session in a while.
The good news is that nature always provides. During that same yoga session, feeders outside the window were visited by a flock of twenty or so wee Bushtits, reminding me of the power of community. Bushtits stick together, chipping and twittering as they forage in a tree and move on to another.
We’re not alone in this difficult reality and I’m grateful for my communities, including this one here.
More than four days after taking the saliva test, COVIDCheck Colorado let me know my test results came back negative. Great news! Unfortunately, I feel worse today than yesterday when I was actually able to take a walk around the neighborhood without collapsing in a heap afterward (which is what happened the day before).
I’m sure it’s stress-related. What’s being done to healthcare workers, children, teachers and all school employees, service workers, etc. in the name of capitalism is horrifying and rage-inducing. Like watching a slow-motion train wreck.
Looking forward to regaining my energy so I can run some of these feelings out of my system. Please take care of yourselves and know you aren’t alone. Solidarity!
January 7, 2022
Beetle kill pine boards
camper van layout options
if those walls could talk
Here’s a little color for anyone who needs it right now. These photos were taken on July 15, 2021, on the Oh Be Joyful Trail outside Crested Butte, Colorado. I don’t have the energy to research the first two species (so if anyone knows, educate me :)).
This last is Fireweed which I first grew to love while living in Alaska.
Another hiker was crouched next to a patch of them along the trail that day, photographing the blooms with the biggest smile on her face. “This is my favorite flower of all,” she said.
Pretty sure I have Covid right now (while being the most introverted version of my introverted self during this pandemic).
Pretty sure Wildebeest has Covid (while working for starvation wages in the restaurant industry that prioritizes people’s “rights” to dine inside, maskless, while the poor/desperate workers drop like flies).
Positive that Zebu had Covid a couple weeks ago.
Absolutely, positive we should (at minimum) be receiving monthly checks along with a package of N95 masks and testing kits from our government. Not to mention, Biden should issue a patent waiver on vaccines to help the rest of the world’s population.
Equally positive none of that’s gonna happen. We the people are expendable in this equation.
When everything feels cruel and horrific, I lean on natural beauty. This photo isn’t especially special, but gazing upon these coneflowers that bloomed in my garden brings me a moment of inner peace.
July 16, 2020
Maybe it can do the same for you.
I met my goal to hoop-dance for 24 hours in 2021! While hooping for approximately an hour each day ended up being a bit much, the experience was mostly joyful. My official stats are 1,446 minutes: 24 hours and six minutes of dancing in the spin. One entire day of this exceedingly difficult year was devoted to an activity I love.
Post-challenge victory photo. December 31, 2021
And if that’s not enough of a WIN for this last day of the year, right before my final hooping session, we took a walk during the first substantial snowstorm of the year for this part of Colorado (which comes the day after two wildfires in nearby Boulder County as a result of extreme drought and hurricane-level winds).
Emma in her sweater, straining to identify an intriguing odor.
At this moment, I’m focusing on the good stuff. The array of birds visiting the yard as I hoop-danced this morning (Black-capped Chickadee, Bushtits, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Junco, Black-billed Magpies, American Crow, Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay) and the glorious feel of snowflakes on my face as we walked three miles around the neighborhood.
Happy New Year! Wishing you much joy. ✨
There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds. ~ Gilbert K. Chesterton
December 10, 2021
Right after I cleaned and refilled the bird bath, an assortment of magpies utilized the facilities. Not sure if this is the same bird in each photo, but I enjoyed watching their appreciation for the water.
December 19, 2021
It’s always a good day when Black-billed Magpies pay a visit.
On New Year’s Eve of 2019, I counted up my hoop-dancing minutes and found I’d danced for 19 hours that year. That felt impressive and I thought to myself “How cool would it be to dance for 24 hours in 2020?” Well, we all know what happened that year and I didn’t hit the mark. Not by a long shot.
Last night I added up my hoop-dancing minutes: 17.5 hours. While that’s fewer minutes than 2019, there are still 8 days left in this year. I’d only need another 389 minutes and, the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. 2021 has been another extremely difficult year–in some ways much harder than the previous–and I really want to close it out doing something that brings me so much joy.
Self portrait December 24, 2021
According to my complex mathematical computations, I’ll need to average 49 hoop-dancing minutes per day to hit my goal. I just danced for 36, smiling the whole time. Now I’m off to ice my recently de-booted foot so I can get back into the spin later today.
Photo by Skyler Ewing from Pexels
Today, I ran for the first time in six weeks since injuring my foot while trail-running with Wildebeest. The boot‘s been off a little over two weeks, but I stayed on the streets and ran at a leisurely pace. Although there was no pain, I forced myself to walk before hitting 2.5 miles. Just to be safe. And I iced my foot upon my return.
I’m so happy! Man, I’ve missed the runner’s high.
Cooper’s Hawk, May 10, 2020.
One-eyed steely gaze
probes the corners of my soul
guess who’s first to blink
I vote for this lovely cow to be in charge. Look at those eyes, her calm demeanor as she chews the dry grass, the stylish-yet relatable hair. Ladies and gentlemen, we have our candidate!
December 7, 2021
Remember, vote MOO no matter who.