answers are not the point

“The Sunflower Galaxy from Hubble” by ESA/NASA/Hubble

We’ve all been on this spiritual path looking for answers, and the joke is that answers are not the point at all; the point is to have a blast with the questions. The point is not to hold back from the Mystery just because there is no final understanding. Along the way, incredible understandings come out of the Mystery, but the Mystery, itself, will remain a mystery.
~ Nirmala
(Nothing Personal: Seeing Beyond the Illusion of a Separate Self)

a single evergreen sapling

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“Helga Ancher Sitting by the Christmas Tree” by Anna Ancher

Even though the use of evergreens dates back to the Greeks and Romans, the use of the holiday tree is said to have originated in the eighth century Germany. Legend has it that the Christian St. Boniface was trying to convert a group of Druids. Try as he might, though, he couldn’t convince them that the oak tree was neither sacred nor invincible. In desperation, he finally cut one down. When the tree fell, it crushed everything in its path but a single evergreen sapling. Boniface declared it a miracle, then proclaimed that the fir tree belonged to the Christ-child. After that, trees were brought into homes as holiday decorations. It wasn’t until the sixteenth century, however, that the Germans thought to decorate the branches. Some historians say that the first ornaments — fruit, nuts, and cookies — were used as offerings to thank the spirit of the tree.
~ Dorothy Morrison
(Yule: A Celebration of Light & Warmth)

hanging garden of bottle gourds

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9.25.16 ~ Holmberg Orchards ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut

As we wandered around a corn maze on a perfect autumn day, we came upon an enchanting gourd tunnel.

Gourds are natural born climbers. They seek out anything they can reach to climb closer to the sun. They grow so quickly it can become a daily task to move the vines away from some places you don’t want them to climb on. And once a tendril gets itself wound around a hold nothing short of breaking the tendril off the vine will get the little curlicue to let go. Not even the death of the vine will loosen their grip much.
~ Karen Hundt-Brown
(American Gourd Society)

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9.25.16 ~ Holmberg Orchards ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut

While I looked, my inner self moved; my spirit shook its always-fettered wings half loose; I had a sudden feeling as if I, who never yet truly lived, were at last about to taste life: in that morning my soul grew as fast as Jonah’s gourd.
~ Charlotte Brontë
(Villette)

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9.25.16 ~ Holmberg Orchards ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut

Yet poetry, though the last and finest result, is a natural fruit. As naturally as the oak bears an acorn, and the vine a gourd, man bears a poem, either spoken or done.
~ Henry David Thoreau
(A Week on the Concord & Merrimack Rivers)

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9.25.16 ~ Holmberg Orchards ~ Gales Ferry, Connecticut

subtle energy

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“Study of the Trunk of an Elm Tree” by John Constable

Trees are the largest and most spiritually advanced plants on Earth. They are constantly in meditation, and subtle energy is their natural language. As your understanding of this language grows, you can begin to develop a relationship with them. They can help you open your energy channels and cultivate calm, presence, and vitality. You can reciprocate by helping them with their own blockages and devitalized areas. It is a mutually beneficial relationship that needs cultivation.
~ Mantak Chia
(Chi Nei Tsang: Chi Massage for the Vital Organs)

butterflies

“Girl & Butterflies” by Frances MacDonald
“Girl & Butterflies” by Frances MacDonald

A child, her wayward pencil drew
On margins of her book
Garlands of flowers, dancing elves,
Bird, butterfly and brook.
Lessons undone, and play forgot
Seeking with hand and heart
The teacher whom she learned to love
Before she knew ‘t was Art.
~ Louisa May Alcott
(Louisa May Alcott: A Biography)

sweet saliva

"Elderly Woman" by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494) Italian Early Renaissance Painter
“Elderly Woman” by Domenico Ghirlandaio

The physical atoms that make up your body have been completely replaced in the past nine years. Yet you remain. You may feel the effects of age, but your spirit is always renewed in each and every moment. Remember this when you are tired or ill. Let each breath renew your spirit.
~ William Martin
(The Sage’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for the Second Half of Life)

What a long and strange month this has been.

It all started in North Carolina during a conversation with a nurse, a friend of Dima & Larisa’s, about the side effects of statin drugs. Suddenly I had a hunch that all the increasing pain in my muscles in recent years was probably not due to aging but was related to taking one of these drugs since 2011. I stopped taking it and within a week the pain was gone.

So my thoughts turned to another drug – amitriptyline. After years of suffering chronic migraine that only got worse when I reached perimenopause, I was sent to a neurologist, who gave me a prescription for a relatively high dose of amitriptyline as a preventative measure, coupled with a prescription for Zomig, to abort the headaches that broke through that first line of defense. That was in 2006 – nine years ago!

The side effects of amitriptyline are well-known to me. The dry mouth, constipation and weight gain – 50 lbs in 9 years! – were all nuisances worth putting up with to avoid a migraine. But now I started thinking, I’m well into menopause, perhaps I don’t need the amitriptyline so much any more. And so began my unpleasant journey through withdrawal symptoms. I cut my dose in half for a couple of weeks and then quit it completely. Perhaps this was too fast and a little too reckless.

The first thing I noticed was a blessing – saliva production! Oh what a precious gift to be able to moisturize my mouth naturally again! Talk about a feeling of restoration and renewal…

But the nausea, malaise and fatigue have been most unwelcome and difficult to live with. Still, I’m determined to continue and to make it through this miserable ordeal. I’ve been allowing myself extra sleep and long naps, with the idea of healing this body. Less than two weeks remain before our trip to Europe and I do finally seem to be feeling a little better each day. I’m not getting any more headaches than usual and the Zomig continues to take care of them, so that’s a relief. That result alone has made this experiment all worth it.

Last night while reading I came across the quote above. It made me smile at the mention of nine years because that’s how long my physical atoms have had to grow accustomed to amitriptyline. Also, it makes me happy to know that they will steadily be replaced with a new set of molecules over the next nine years. Lots of time for regeneration…

mind the cows

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“The Stable” by Carl Larsson

Many said that now there was no hope of salvation, for a man might do anything and be in the wrong. There was no way to tell. It was better to stay on the steading and mind the cows and be content with such days as are left to one and cease to wonder about life everlasting.
~ Jane Smiley
(The Greenlanders)

natural scenery inspires

6.30.09 ~ Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
6.30.09 ~ Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

In the interest which natural scenery inspires there is the strongest contrast to this. It is for itself and at the moment it is enjoyed. The attention is aroused and the mind occupied without purpose, without a continuation of the common process of relating the present action, thought or perception to some future end. There is little else that has this quality so purely. There are few enjoyments with which regard for something outside and beyond the enjoyment of the moment can ordinarily be so little mixed. The pleasures of the table are irresistibly associated with the care of hunger and the repair of the bodily waste. In all social pleasures and all the pleasures which are usually enjoyed in association with the social pleasure, the care for the opinion of others, or the good of others largely mingles. In the pleasures of literature, the laying up of ideas and self-improvement are purposes which cannot be kept out of view.

This, however, is in very slight degree, if at all, the case with the enjoyment of the emotions caused by natural scenery. It therefore results that the enjoyment of scenery employs the mind without fatigue and yet exercises it, tranquilizes it, and yet enlivens it, and thus, through the influence of the mind over the body, gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system.

~ Frederick Law Olmsted
(America’s National Park System: The Critical Documents)

low tide

5.3.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
Zoë waiting patiently for her morning sunbath ~ 5.3.14

Over the years our double-paned sliding-glass doors filled with condensation and became so “foggy” that we could not see out of them. It took us a long time to get around to having them replaced, but we finally did so near the end of April. Zoë was delighted to be able to clearly see the birds and we celebrated by buying two chairs and a little table (at an estate sale) for the balcony.

5.20.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
an extraordinary piece of driftwood ~ 5.20.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Never mind that right on the heels of these sips of joy we had a flood in our basement, a sewer backup. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Funny all the twists and turns life brings. Thank goodness our home insurance is covering the cost of clean up and repair. Yuck, yuck, yuck. I’ll be glad when they finish, but we had to interrupt the process to drive to North Carolina as planned.

Everyone’s experience indicates that everything we are, and everything we do, is simply the movement of existence itself. It’s here that we come to the highest realization indicated in all the great spiritual traditions: we do not exist as anything apart from the flow of nature and that flow is an unformed, inexplicable dance accomplishing itself.
~ Darryl Bailey
(Essence Revisited: Slipping Past the Shadows of Illusion)

For a few days forgetting about the ‘inexplicable unformed flow of nature’ in our basement, we started our journey south and delivered Aunt Flora’s rocking chair. We had a wonderful time visiting family. Nate & Shea drove up from Georgia, and I got to see an old friend from high school who happens to live about 2 miles from Dima & Larisa.

5.20.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
5.20.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

And then… Tim got sick with diverticulitis (not again!) which delayed out trip home by a day so the antibiotics he was prescribed could have a chance to start working. Needless to say, we didn’t arrive home feeling particularly refreshed physically, although emotionally we were revitalized for having spent so much time with our children.

5.20.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
5.20.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach

Last weekend we made it to a local farmers market. This morning we took a walk on the beach – the tide was very low, revealing the largest piece of driftwood I’ve ever seen. Tim estimates it to be 20-25 feet long! What could it possibly have been? This afternoon we ate our farm-to-table lunch out on our new little table on our sunny balcony. Life is good!

5.20.14 ~ Groton, Connecticut
5.20.14 ~ Eastern Point Beach