second blooming

fishhook cactus by Gary M. Stolz

I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming that comes when you finish the life of the emotions and of personal relations; and suddenly you find – at the age of fifty, say – that a whole new life has opened before you, filled with things you can think about, study, or read about. … It is as if a fresh sap of ideas and thoughts was rising in you.
~ Agatha Christie
(Women’s Words: The Columbia Book of Quotations by Women)

book of events

“The Artist’s Mother in the Little Room” by Hans Thoma
“The Artist’s Mother in the Little Room” by Hans Thoma

One year ago today I started writing this blog. Changes…

…I use those little dots a lot…

I think it’s because, as the amazing Polish poet, Wislawa Szymborska observes:

Every beginning is always a sequel, after all,
and the book of events is always open halfway through.

Changes keep coming along, welcome or unwelcome, keeping us on our toes, and the Japanese scholar Kakuzō Okakura reminds his readers:

The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.

I feel like I’ve fumbled around this past year, but have finally accepted that this blog has been and is going to be a hodgepodge of anything and everything I think about, dream about, or experience, although the line between “reality” and dreams in my consciousness is often pretty fuzzy. For this blog, over the year I have tried out five WordPress themes, Coraline, Structure, Tarski, Treba, and this one, Elegant Grunge, as far as I can remember. It’s fun playing with the widgets! My favorite posts are the ones with pictures taken on my nature walks with Bernie, Beverly, Janet and Tim. Making friends with my readers, reading their comments here and reading and commenting on their blogs is the best part of being in the blogosphere!

On March 14, 2010 I started another blog, called “…select and collect all the words…,” which was at first to house my collection of quotes. Then I discovered all the art available in the public domain at Wikimedia Commons! So I spent hours pairing quotes with paintings, and wound up neglecting this blog. Finally on January 6, 2011, I posted my last quote there, and made the decision to merge the contents of that blog into this blog. It will take some time, but for now I think I’ll post quotes and paintings on the weekends. Of course, that may change, too.

On March 23, 2010 I started a family history blog for our relatives, close family and distant cousins, Rodgers Family History. (Actually we had a family history website since 2004. I created it on our own domain using Front Page 2000. But using WordPress has been a nice change, making presentation and navigation so much easier.) That “blog” has been neglected, too, but new cousins have found what is already up there and generously added to my database. Connecting with them has been so satisfying. I hope to get more of my data up there in the near future.

“Sailboats in Le Petit-Gennevilliers” by Claude Monet
“Sailboats in Le Petit-Gennevilliers” by Claude Monet

A slower and incomplete change has been The Change, a hormonal storm through which I am still trying to navigate. The seas around my little boat are pretty choppy, and I’m never sure if I’m making the waves or being tossed around by what others are leaving in their wakes as they sail, drift, or jet-ski through their own lives. And then there is an energy from the tides that doesn’t originate with people, but pulls from the universe through the moon. Steady and yar…

A year ago I was asking Stevie Nick’s questions:

Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

I am still asking. And sometimes answering affirmatively. Some day I hope Carole King’s lyrics will be my most frequent answer…

My life has been a tapestry
Of rich and royal hue;
An everlasting vision
Of the ever-changing view;
A wondrous woven magic
In bits of blue and gold;
A tapestry to feel and see;
Impossible to hold.

Well, it just occurred to me that perhaps this blog isn’t a hodgepodge, but a tapestry! And with that thought, I’m off to embrace another year of writing about the “ever-changing view.”

afflicted with consciousness

"The Difficult Lesson" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
“The Difficult Lesson” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Had Madness, had it once or twice
The yawning Consciousness
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #1325)

Whenever I read an Emily Dickinson poem I am struck with a deep sense of affinity and connection, sometimes even a moment of transcendence. And yet words fail me when I try to describe what it is about each poem that moves me.

Emily Every Day is my favorite blog, written by Constance Adler. I discovered it almost a year ago, when I started poking around WordPress and following tags to see where they might lead. And while the author no longer posts every day, each post is still a treasure trove of ideas to ponder and of clues to the mystery of Emily’s consciousness.

In the January 6th post, Emily and Jeanne, Constance uses the phrase “afflicted with consciousness,” which seems a fitting description of the essence of my own spiritual journey. Even though I would never dare equate myself with Emily, so often I’ve felt that I “could not escape or ignore the experience of awareness.” It plagued me all through my childhood, as my father did his level best, but ultimately failed, to raise me to be an atheist. Awareness of awareness has driven me to “Madness” on several occasions… But, as Constance concludes:

Emily shows us how to turn and see deeply behind our own eyes. That loss of solid space/time boundaries might scare us back toward front and center. But no. It’s okay to follow Emily’s directive. She’s gone there first. We don’t have to be afraid.

And I think that is what it is for me. When I read Emily’ words I stop fearing, even if only for a little while, that journey ‘behind my own eyes.’ She’s paved a way that I can find and follow. Many thanks to Constance for helping me to gain more insight into the works of my favorite poet.

And so of larger — Darknesses —
Those Evenings of the Brain —
When not a Moon disclose a sign —
Or Star — come out — within —
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #428)

Between Eternity and Time —
Your Consciousness — and Me —
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #713)

Iduna: Keeper of Apples

“Brita as Iduna” by Carl Larsson

According to Wikipedia: “In Norse mythology, Iðunn is a goddess associated with apples and youth.” Iðunn is “a keeper of apples and granter of eternal youthfulness.” (Idun, Iduna, Idunn, Ithun, Idunna)

A few words following about October and apples, which we are enjoying daily since we went apple-picking last weekend. Nothing like crunching into a juicy McIntosh fresh from the tree! An old saying keeps popping into my head: an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Now’s the time when children’s noses
All become as red as roses
And the colour of their faces
Makes me think of orchard places
Where the juicy apples grow…

~ Katherine Mansfield
(Autumn Song)

There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October. The sunshine is peculiarly genial; and in sheltered places, as on the side of a bank, or of a barn or house, one becomes acquainted and friendly with the sunshine. It seems to be of a kindly and homely nature.
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
(The American Note-books)

When my father was a boy growing up on a New England farm during the Great Depression, his family picked as many apples as they could and stored some of them in a barrel in the root cellar. Of course he ate as many as he could while picking them, but his parents had a rule about the ones in the barrel he found exasperating. If anyone wanted an apple later in the fall or winter, he was required to take one that was the least fresh. By the time they got to the fresher ones they had also become much less fresh! So all winter he was having to make do with eating not-so-great apples. If only he had known he might have called on Iduna to keep the apples fresher longer!

To appreciate the wild and sharp flavors of these October fruits, it is necessary that you be breathing the sharp October or November air. The outdoor air and exercise which the walker gets give a different tone to his palate, and he craves a fruit which the sedentary would call harsh and crabbed. They must be eaten in the fields, when your system is all aglow with exercise, when the frosty weather nips your fingers, the wind rattles the bare boughs or rustles the few remaining leaves, and the jay is heard screaming around. What is sour in the house a bracing walk makes sweet. Some of these apples might be labeled, “To be eaten in the wind.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
(Wild Fruits: Thoreau’s Rediscovered Last Manuscript)

“Apples & Leaves” by Ilya Repin

adolescence in reverse

Egyptian migraine therapy

My body-mind is miserable.

I’ve had a “background” headache since July 8. It’s making me crazy, lurking around under the surface, waiting for a chance to break through and incapacitate. One dose of Zomig left to last me until the prescription can be refilled on August 7. I rail against insurance corporations, who think they have more right to decide what a patient needs than her doctor does. And who think $60 a month is a fair co-payment for six doses of a needed drug.

Appointment to see sympathetic doctor on Monday. Keeping my fingers crossed… Woke up this morning, head still stabbing. Should I beg my sister to give me some of her Zomig? We’ve helped each other out in the past. There have been times when I’ve only needed as little as one dose for a whole month. I call and put her on standby. Sisters understand…

Lately I’ve heard what I think is a very misleading commercial for Excedrin Migraine. While it can work sometimes, I don’t see how they can dare to guarantee that it will always work in half an hour. It might, perhaps half the time. And that bit about being #1 recommended by neurologists is hogwash. The first thing a neurologist will insist on is that you stop using Excedrin because people wind up taking it daily in increasingly futile attempts to treat rebound headaches.  When Excedrin Migraine first came out I checked the label and it’s the same acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine that is in regular Excedrin. Do they think we’re really so gullible? Or were my parents unique in teaching me to read labels thoroughly before taking any medication?

Caffeine. Well, I’m weaned from it for almost four years now so maybe it will work? Worth a try? I made myself a cup of black coffee and took my ibuprofen, which works better than acetaminophen or aspirin for this patient. It worked, for the most part. I can still feel the headache wanting to materialize. Maybe this will be a stopgap measure to keep most of the pain manageable until Monday so I won’t have to raid my dear sister’s stash. Still, I should probably get my eyes away from the computer screen to be on the safe side.

Pondering my predicament. I’ve been so careful to avoid triggers. “Why is this happening?” I cried out to Tim Sunday night, utterly frustrated. Slowly gathering my wits about me. I connect a few dots and recall that hormonal fluctuations are my biggest triggers and they (along with fluctuations in atmospheric pressure) I simply cannot control. Now I think this is perhaps some sort of menopausal last hurrah.

If you want to know where your power really is, you need look no further than the processes of your body that you’ve been taught to dismiss, deny, or be afraid of. These include the menstrual cycle, labor, and, the mother of all wake-up calls, menopause. The years surrounding menopause are a time when most women find themselves in a crucible, having all the dross of the first half of their lives burned away so that they may emerge reborn and more fully themselves. Menopause can be likened to adolescence in reverse – the same stormy emotions we experienced during puberty often return, urging us to complete the unfinished business of our early years.
~ Christiane Northrup
(Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical & Emotional Health & Healing)

I remember reading somewhere that the way a child handles the emotional work of toddler-hood will be the same way she handles the emotional work of adolescence. And now, adolescence in reverse. The mother of all wake-up calls. Must be what this nightmare is all about. A crucible. A month-long hot flash. Unfinished business. I wonder…

This morning I found a quote that spoke to me…

Everyone confesses in the abstract that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us all; but practically most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive him to do. Even I would not write this article were not the publication-day hard on my heels. I should read Hawthorne and Emerson and Holmes, and dream in my armchair, and project in the clouds those lovely unwritten stories that curl and veer and change like mist-wreaths in the sun.
~ Harriet Beecher Stowe
(Household Papers & Stories)

Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe

I have so many lovely unwritten stories. I need more exercise. I feel lazy writing this, I “should” be doing more to help with the elder-care or even doing my own chores. I think we all feel unmotivated or overwhelmed at times, but that’s not laziness in my way of looking at things. But do I really believe my own assertions about this, deep down inside? Harriet Beecher Stowe includes “everyone.” Somehow that comforts me to know that others need incentives to get certain things done, too.

And now, as I write this, a song comes up on my iPod playlist shuffle. Still can’t listen to it without crying…

Now, I’m sailing on back, ready for the long haul
Tossed by the winds and the seas
I’ll drag them all down to hell and I’ll stand them at the wall
I’ll sell them to their enemies
I’m trying to feed my soul with thought
Going to sleep off the rest of the day
~ Bob Dylan
♫ (Working Man’s Blues #2) ♫

It’s been a very long haul since Dad first fell in 2000. It’s getting harder and harder. And Auntie is needing more and more attention, too. Sometimes I think having to deal with menopause while caring for my elders is a double whammy and has made me more impatient and persistently irritable.

I’m tired!!! So often I “sleep off the rest of the day.” So often I fail to “feed my soul with thought.” I don’t have enough energy for elder-care and the “stormy emotions” of menopause!

Okay. That’s enough self-pity for one day. This too will pass, right?

in a flower bell curled

New London, Connecticut
lilium medeoloides, taller than Janet ~ 7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

Now the meadow was full of flowers and dragonflies and we really enjoyed our few minutes there, but the sun was hot and we longed for the cool shade again. So we left the meadow on the other side, and wandered through the woods for a while until we stumbled across the woodland garden we found in May. No Cheshire cat to host us this time, and no other visitors. There wasn’t as much blooming as there was on our earlier visit, except for tall meadow rue, wild leek and lilium medeoloides. But the rue and lily were so lovely they more than made up for the lack of other blooms!!! In the picture above, Janet is examining an insect who was busy devouring the lily’s leaves.

lilium medeoloides ~ 7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
lilium medeoloides ~ 7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
lilium medeoloides ~ 7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
lilium medeoloides ~ 7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

The woods were made for the hunters of dreams,
The brooks for the fishers of song;
To the hunters who hunt for the gunless game
The streams and the woods belong.
There are thoughts that moan from the soul of pine
And thoughts in a flower bell curled;
And the thoughts that are blown with the scent of the fern
Are as new and as old as the world.

~ Sam Walter Foss
(A Trail for All Seasons: Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail in Words & Pictures)

7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
tall meadow rue ~ 7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
wild leek ~ 7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
(Afternoon on a Hill)

On our way back to the exit we spotted a cactus with a few yellow blooms left on it! And, yes, we then headed for Ruby Tuesday again for those luscious strawberry lemonades! Looking forward to Shakespeare-in-the-Arboretum next week…

7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
prickly pear cactus ~ 7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

natural internet

7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
contrast of bright sunlight and shade for a mushroom ~ 7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

Every time I see mushrooms I think of Paul Stamets and his theory about mycelium, “the vegetative part of a fungus consisting of a mass of branching thread like hyphae.”

I see the mycelium as the Earth’s natural Internet, a consciousness with which we might be able to communicate. Through cross-species interfacing, we may one day exchange information with these sentient cellular networks. Because these externalized neurological nets sense any impression upon them, from footsteps to falling tree branches, they could relay enormous amounts of data regarding the movements of all organisms through the landscape.
~ Paul Stamets
(Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World)

7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

I first read about Stamets a few years ago when I was waiting and skimming through magazines at my aunt’s dentist’s office. The idea of the earth being conscious was something I already believed in and the article I was reading mentioned something about the connections between fungi physically resembling the neurons in human brains. I was captivated and ordered his book that night. At some point I found a talk he gave on TED, 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World.

7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
the first tree that grabbed our attention ~ 7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

I have to admit that I began reading the book but couldn’t continue because it was scientifically way over my head. I brought the book to my Dad, the microbiologist, and my brother-in-law, the botanist, and they devoured it and were impressed by the theory as well. My brother-in-law commented that the idea was in line with what they were researching when he used to work at The New Alchemy Institute, before it evolved into The Green Center.

But I digress and must return to our walk. Yesterday I was having a lot of trouble organizing the post and accidentally published it before I was done. Wasn’t sure if I could un-publish it without deleting it so I decided to call it a day.

Janet and I kept leaving the trails in pursuit of getting a closer look at some of the more unusual trees. The first one had a benign tumor, or a burl. The burl could have been caused by an injury, infection, or an unformed bud gone haywire. Any of these things can trigger the cells to grow excessively and unevenly, leaving it with unique shapes and ring patterns. Woodworkers and artists often find creative ways to use the patterns found in burled wood.

7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
close up of burl ~ 7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

We saw a lot of poison ivy and thought we did a pretty good job of avoiding it. But it would seem I got zapped somehow and within 48 hours broke out in a mild rash. Apparently as we age there is a tendency for the reaction we get to be less severe, which seems to be what is happening with me. Benadryl is keeping the itch pretty tolerable. One thing is puzzling though, the rash is on my neck and arms. I’ve had it on my neck another time – four years ago after we attended outdoor concerts two nights in a row at the amphitheater in Saratoga Springs, New York. We were in the woods but stayed on the sidewalks. On our way home the rash broke out so I went to the walk-in clinic here and they said it was poison ivy! Such a possibility had never entered my mind.

I wonder why it broke out on my neck that time and this time, too. The only other time I’ve had it was when I was a kid and it was all over my face and arms. That time I could logically trace it to the fact that I had been crawling around on my hands and knees playing hide and seek in the bushes at a picnic. It was a crummy way to start the summer, and it was much worse than this episode.

7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
a closer look ~ 7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

Janet noticed a tree which seemed to have four or five trunks reaching up from the main trunk. So off we went to get a closer look, leaving the trail behind us – somewhere…. Goodness knows what we were walking through…

Still can’t figure out what was so mesmerizing abut this tree. I just had to touch it. It has a very strong energy and I bet we couldn’t find it again if we were required to. (I’m still looking for another tree I saw there last winter…)

A Murmur in the Trees – to note –
Not loud enough – for Wind –
A Star – not far enough to seek –
Nor near enough – to find –
~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #433)

After meandering around, not really that lost, we spotted a bright sunny clearing beyond the trees! So we forgot about locating the trail again, and headed off to discover what we might find in a  summer meadow. Maybe dragonflies?

7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut
a glimpse of a sunny meadow ~ 7.2.10 ~ New London, Connecticut

The meadow chapter of the story will have to be put into the next post…

He walked and he walked, and the earth and the holiness of the earth came up through the soles of his feet.
~ Gretel Ehrlich
(Legacy of Light)

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

The one in Concord, Massachusetts. Not the “original” one in Sleepy Hollow, New York. In August 2006 my daughter Larisa and I visited the one in Concord, which, as far as I know, does not have its own website.

Julie left a beautiful poem – written by Louisa May Alcott about doves – in the comments on yesterday’s blog. The poetry made me recall the visit with my daughter to Orchard House, also in Concord, where the author and poet lived. We weren’t allowed to take pictures at Orchard House, but we got quite a few when we went to locate Louisa’s grave along the Author’s Ridge path in Concord’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Emerson lie buried there as well.

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Author’s Ridge ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

The unpretentious gravestones reflect the ideas of these Concord neighbors, writers who were prominent transcendentalists, naturalists, pacifists, philosophers, abolitionists and teachers. Louisa’s father, Amos Bronson Alcott, founded of the Concord School of Philosophy, and a building was constructed behind Orchard House to serve as a place for the public to attend the summer lectures offered about transcendentalism. Louisa’s parents rest on Author’s Ridge as well.

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

Larisa and I were so touched by the little stones people left in tribute. People from all over the world come here to pay their respects to the dearly loved writer. We were curious what people might have said in the notes they left, but chose to respect their privacy.

My father taught in the wise way which unfolds what lies in the child’s nature, as a flower blooms, rather than crammed it, like a Strasbourg goose, with more than it could digest.
~ Louisa May Alcott

Alcott family marker ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

All the beauty and advantages of Conversation is in its bold contrasts, and swift surprises… Prose and logic are out of place, where all is flowing, magical, and free.
~ Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888)

Wherever I turn I see the yoke on woman in some form or other. On some it sits easy, for they are but beasts of burden. On others, pride hushes them to silence; no complaint is made, for they scorn pity or sympathy. On some it galls and chafes; they feel assured by every instinct of their nature that they were designed for a higher, nobler calling than to drag life’s lengthening chain along.
~ Abigail May Alcott (1800-1877)

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

Direct your eye right inward, and you’ll find
A thousand regions in your mind
Yet undiscovered.
Travel them and be
Expert in home-cosmography.
~ Henry David Thoreau

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

It is to the credit of human nature that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates.
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts

Respect the child. Wait and see the new product of Nature. Nature loves analogies, but not repetitions. Respect the child. Be not too much his parent. Trespass not on his solitude.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Another grave I’d like to visit one day is that of Emily Dickinson, which I think is located in Amherst, Massachusetts. A day trip sometime… Maybe with Larisa??

In this quiet valley, as in the palm of Nature’s hand, we shall sleep well, when we have finished our day.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts
Barbara ~ 8.?.06 ~ Concord, Massachusetts