Masks

I haven’t yet worn a mask.  I’m rarely out so I haven’t needed a mask to protect myself or others.  I’ve been isolated now for over two weeks so I think I’m “clean”, and I want to do my part in this crazy world we all share. 

Yesterday I learned how to use Apple Pay as my local grocery store is requesting it as a way to pay without touching anything.  I probably don’t need to venture out for another week.  

I feel unnerved somehow, and this morning The Lone Ranger comes to mind.  Of course his mask just covered around his eyes and wouldn’t have fooled anyone.  It certainly wouldn’t have kept the virus away.

I’ve never used a mask.  In 1993, when I was in Kathmandu, my two friends used scarves to cover their mouth and nose but I wanted to breathe it all in.  I still have the two scarves I bought there just in case. When we were in the mountains, in the evenings, we wrapped the scarves around our necks to absorb the smell of wood smoke and bring it home with us. 

I see from youtube I could make a mask with those scarves and two elastic bands, though I gave the bands away when I went through chemo and had no hair. Hmmm!

I feel discombobulated this morning, feel like crying, and I balance that with some strange need to keep a “stiff upper lip”.  The news is dire, and yet this is news we all share, so we bond in support and find humor in creative ways, even as a few take advantage of the situation.  

We love the show Foyle’s War, and are considering watching it a third time.  It shows ethics and bonding through the hardship of war, contrasted with those few who use a tragic situation for their own ends.  

Today’s lift comes again from One Last River of Song by Brian Doyle:

“Every creature on earth has approximately two billion heartbeats to spend in a lifetime. You can spend them slowly, like a tortoise, and live to be two hundred years old, or you can spend them fast, like a hummingbird, and live to be two years old.”

“The biggest heart in the world is inside the blue whale.  It weighs more than seven tons. It’s as big as a room. It is a small room, with four chambers.  A child could walk around in it, head high, bending only to step through the valves.  The valves are as big as the swinging doors in a saloon. This house of a heart drives a creature a hundred feet long.”

We know little about the ten thousand blue whales on the planet, but we know the “animals with the largest hearts in the world generally travel in pairs, and their penetrating moaning cries, their piecing yearning tongue, can be heard underwater for miles and miles.”

“No living being is without interior liquid motion. We all churn inside.”

We all churn inside, and now I think of making butter from cream, which leads me to buttercream and chocolate cake.  I have the ingredients, so maybe today is a day for cake. May we all be well and remember what we can do with “our own two hands”.

Hold and cherish with our own two hands!




Circling, Circled

Because people have planted Milkweed, the only plant on which Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs, Monarchs are coming back.  I remember them from my childhood in Iowa, and I love them here where I am now. I circle in time and touch.

One warm day in February we were at the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove.  When we arrived, we could see butterflies closed, at rest in the trees. Then, the warmth of the wakening day reached them and we were surrounded by fluttering wings.  We were circled by butterflies.

I’ve with that today as I consider rivers of connection, rivers curving before their flow to the sea.

Brian Doyle wrote that “This lush, troubled world, so ferociously lovely, so plundered and raped and endangered, is itself a seething river of divine love.”

I pull out my well-worn copy of Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.  

“Never in his life had he seen a river before – this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again.  All was a-shake and a-shiver – glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble.” Mole trots along the river, “bewitched, entranced, fascinated”. 

Then Mole sat on the bank, where the “river still chattered on to him, a babbling process of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea”.

And with that, I come to the last stanza of Brenda Hillman’s beautiful poem, “Some Daybreak Stanzas for Our Daughters.

One doe scratches an itch on

her back, jaw moving counter clockwise,

her smart nose reaching far into 

the dawn.  Her fawn spots merged

with sunlight long ago and will

circle the tree forever. The perceiving

mind is restless but can surround

the infinite stress of human love.

Lanterns in Our Lives

Lungs

Yesterday our beloved cat Bella was in pain.  As she lay on the carpet in the sun, I watched her breathing which seemed shallow and she was lying in a strange position.  If I touched other than her face, she howled. I took her to the vet. The pain was in her hip. He gave her a shot and home she came, and we lifted her onto the bed and she’s still resting now this morning, healing.

I’m with the breath, remembering watching my mother breathe when she was in the ICU, and thinking of how she waited for and watched my first breath.  Now I was doing the same with her, concerned each breath might be her last. 

Breath is caress.

I’m so aware of my lungs these days, front, back, and sides, so grateful for their functioning, their embrace within the basket of my ribs.

I’m wanting to re-read children’s books: Wind in the WillowsWinnie the Pooh.

I want to return to simpler times, and yet, my husband reminds me we lived, as children, with the threat of nuclear war, and then, there was Vietnam, so yes, and yet, this feels close and personal, ingested with every breath.

And so today as I wait for the sky to come to light, I sit with the words of Pema Chodron.  

You are the sky.  Everything else is just the weather.  

Looking up through Maple tree leaves around 3 in the afternoon

Neighborly Love

While sheltering-in-place, our neighbors have been giving us gifts of food. Keeping our current neighborly distance, they place goodies in a fabric bag hanging on the fence, and we endeavor to return equally, or somewhat, but I’m not sure we can equal the gift of today from Portside Bakery Pop Up in Sausalito. Yum!!

Goodies Galore

Good Morning

I wake at 3, rise at 4, meditate with “Little Sweetie”, Bella, our cat.

Last night I began reading a book on the influence of classical Chinese poetry on this country.

I’m struck by this quote by Henry David Thoreau, in Walden, in 1854.

“They say that characters were engraven on the bathing tub of King Tching Thang to this effect: “Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again.” I can understand that.  Morning brings back the heroic ages. “

I check out King Tching Thang who was born in 1748 and died in 1798.  He was King of Manipur, a state in Northeastern India from 1759-1762 and 1763 to 1798.

I think now of the poem Ozymandias – 

Ozymandias 

BY PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

And so I travel to Brian Doyle and his book One Long River of Song which begins:

“Consider the hummingbird for a long moment. A hummingbird’s heart beats ten times a second.  A hummingbird’s heart is the size of a pencil eraser. A hummingbird’s heart is a lot of the hummingbird.  Joyas voladoras, flying jewels, the first white explorers in the Americas called them, and the white men had never seen such creatures, for hummingbirds came into the world only in the Americas, nowhere else in the universe, more than three hundred species of them whirring and zooming and nectaring in hummer time zones nine times removed from ours, their hearts hammerging faster than we could clearly hear if we pressed our elephantine ears to their infinitesimal chests.

Each one visits a thousand flowers a day.  They can dive at sixty miles an hour. They can fly backward. They can fly more than five hundred miles without pausing to rest.”

We humans perhaps do the same with our minds, and now is the time for us to come together and unite to save as many people as we can, as we recognize the global rounding which brings our senses together in shared breath.

I believe this uniting, this renewing cleanse, requires a deeper recognition that the current leadership in the U.S. is corrupt, incompetent, and inept.  

Here’s Heather Cox Richardson reporting on yesterday: 

https://heathercoxrichardson.substack.com

Grounding in Place

It’s April Fool’s Day though today is no joke.  It’s also the beginning of poetry month.

Enchanted with stones and poems, I combine two of my favorite things.

The poem is by Charles Simic.

STONE

Go inside a stone 

That would be my way. 

Let somebody else become a dove 

Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth. 

I am happy to be a stone.

 

From the outside the stone is a riddle: 

No one knows how to answer it. 

Yet within, it must be cool and quiet 

Even though a cow steps on it full weight, 

Even though a child throws it in a river; 

The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed 

To the river bottom 

Where the fishes come to knock on it 

And listen.

 

I have seen sparks fly out 

When two stones are rubbed, 

So perhaps it is not dark inside after all; 

Perhaps there is a moon shining 

From somewhere, as though behind a hill— 

Just enough light to make out 

The strange writings, the star-charts 

On the inner walls. 

River Rocks in our Yard
Lavender outside a sachet, enjoying air and play

Sinking In

Though we’ve been sheltered-in-place, it’s felt a bit like a lark, but now another month, and the reality of our household as independent is clear.  Do we have enough cat food? That’s the big question as they look at us with huge eyes, and say we are here to comfort, and all we ask is a little food, well, sometimes a lot of food.  They go in and out on consumption.

I don’t know what to say but this gives a lift, a gift of laughter and tears.

https://www.kentonline.co.uk/faversham/news/familys-viral-les-mis-lockdown-success-224818/?fbclid=IwAR21St9HocxfruB7xLrfUnqnCbt4OitgJaKvazrnrXSzvBDiNjKWOXUdvsA

And there’s this poem by Martha Postlewaite.

Clearing

Do not try to save

the whole world

or do anything grandiose.

Instead, create

a clearing

in the dense forest

of your life

and wait there

patiently,

until the song

that is your life

falls into your own cupped hands

and you recognize and greet it.

Only then will you know

how to give yourself

to this world

so worth of rescue.

― Martha Postlewaite