Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

For Phyllis

My friend, Phyllis, grew up in Kentucky horse country. Here is a poem by James Wright ( that I thought she might like.

A Blessing

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.
At home once more, they begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me
And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

top photo:
bottom photo:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

For Memorial Day


Day is done...Gone the sun
From the lake...
From the hills...
From the sky.
All is well...Safely rest
God is nigh.

Fading light....Dims the sight
And a star....Gems the sky....Gleaming bright
From afar....Drawing nigh
Falls the night.

Composed By Major General Daniel Butterfield

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Happy Medium

Lest ye think that I am too wrapped up in the seeing with the heart thing, I offer these words of Ben Franklin:

If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.

We need to seek moderation to avoid being excessively one way or the other. If you are familiar with the Myers-Briggs system of personality types, you might have figured out my personality type by now. I won't take the time to try to explain the system to you. You might take advantage of the Internet for that. The categories in the system reveal our dominant traits and preferred ways of viewing things and working through things--sort of like being right- or left-handed. I think that there is always room for a happy medium in how we interact with the people and the world around us and how we make make decisions. And, like the dominant hand analogy, the non-dominant side can be trained to be functional as well. I think Franklin's suggestion helps to bring moderation to our lives.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Take a Look

Here is a quote that I received through the "Daily e-Quiet Moment" from Catholic Digest. I thought I would share it with you.

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.

These are the words of Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India (1947-1964). I have previously talked about seeing with the heart and using the eyes as windows through which we may look out with the heart at the world around us. I think that the statement by Nehru gives us a good way to begin "seeing rightly."

The next time you take a look at the world around you, open your eyes and see the beauty, charm, and adventure there is to see.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Here is a poem by Walt Whitman that I often think of when I am spinning.

A Noiseless, Patient Spider

A noiseless, patient spider,
I mark'd, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark'd how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,--seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form'd--till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.

The photo is of a lovely black and yellow argiope, commonly known as a "writing spider." They are among my favorite spiders, but I'm also fond of jumping spiders and wolf spiders. The little black and white drawing is of a spider "ballooning." It is letting out strands of silk filament to catch the wind so that it may be carried away on the breeze to a new location. Scientists believe that this is how spiders managed to spread themselves all over the world--even across large bodies of water--just by letting themselves be blown about on the wind, sailing along on their little silk threads.

When I am spinning, the fiber becomes a part of me. As I spin, filament after filament twists together to form a thread that goes from hand to wheel, twisting and winding in a harmony I cannot describe, but feel and sense as the fiber slips out from my hand, twirling and winding onto the bobbin. I am reeling out my thoughts, my energy, my love, my spirit, my soul into a thread that will connect me to something else. Someone else. Someplace else. "Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,--seeking the spheres, to connect them;" as the poet says. The thread from me, from my hands, out, out to where I cannot go. Taking part of me with it; taking me out with it. I draft and draw out the fiber; I draft and draw out my soul. Unlike the spider, I cannot balloon myself away on my fragile thread to other places, other worlds, but the fiber I spin can take a part of me with it wherever it goes. It carries a part of me as long as it lasts for I have put my very self, a part of me, into my thread. The noiseless, patient spider sending itself out on a fine thread. The noiseless, patient spinner sending herself out on a fine thread, her soul out on a little twisted filament.

"Till the bridge you will need, be form'd--till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul"."

(read this poem and more at

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mother's Day and "My Sister was an Only Child"

Here it is Tuesday and I'm just now getting around to putting down some thoughts about Mother's Day.

Our oldest child was born just before Mother's Day--May 6th. He's all grown up, but living at home for a while, so we took him out to dinner for his birthday last week. I decided that since it was so close to Mother's Day, there was no need for the family to take me out to lunch or dinner on Sunday. Everyone seemed agreeable to this, so we combined his birthday and Mother's Day into one dinner outing. It was quite nice. I had some sort of tasty salmon entree that kept me full and happy for some time afterward. Everyone seemed to have a good time and it was good to have everyone together for the celebration. We missed the Mother's Day crowds that are usually part of going out to eat that day. I also got to spend a goodly portion of Mother's Day taking a nice long nap.

Our oldest is now thirty-seven. His next closest sibling is twenty and the youngest is seventeen. I don't really know why we had the big gap, but that's the way it worked out and it seems to have worked well enough. Not like we could do too much about it; pregnancy just wasn't happening. We married while in college and thought we'd have all our children by the time we were thirty or so. We also thought we would wait until we were out of school and had jobs before having children. Well, that didn't work. Our first was born a little before our first anniversary. I was twenty. When thirty rolled around, we decided that it must have worked out as planned because it seemed that we had all the children that we were going to be blessed with. By the time he was fourteen or so, I decided that there was absolutely no reason to keep that baby crib and other stuff that I had been storing in the closet for the next time it was needed. Apparently there wasn't going to be a next time, so I got rid of all of it. Besides, I was thirty-four and, face it, there just weren't going to be any more babies. Time passed. Then one day, something wasn't quite right and after a week or two, I realized that I was pregnant--at thirty-five. Oh!! Gee, hadn't I just gotten rid of all that baby stuff? Then there was a miscarriage, but since another child was actually a possibility, we decided to try again. We had a lovely daughter and figured that we should give it another try so that she would have someone a little closer in age to grow up with--after all, Big Bro was sixteen when she was born. Three years later we had son number two. As it worked out, we had all our children by the time we were forty or so. They span nineteen years and, so far, with one still in high school, we've spent all our married life raising children.

My only sibling, my older sister, and I were eighteen years apart. I used to spend my summers with her, sort of her summer child because she was childless until I was fifteen. She had a book that was written by comedy writer, Jack Douglas (who used to write for Johnny Carson and others), which was entitled "My Brother was an Only Child." As a child, I used to think that was the silliest title. Really, how could your brother be an only child? One day, I realized that my sister was an only child. She grew up without siblings. I was born in July of the year she turned eighteen. She graduated from high school and got married in May, when I was nine months old. For many years, she was much more my mother than my sister, especially during those summers I spent with her and her husband, being their summer child from the time I was five until I was eighteen. And, since our parents had just the two of us eighteen years apart, I, too, was an only child.

I didn't really know my grandmothers, but I did grow up with my two mothers--my mother and my sister. I miss them a lot. I always think of them on Mother's Day.

Friday, May 9, 2008

HeArt and Soul

Ha! I can remember when we would get together at friends' houses in high school and someone would always manage to get to the piano and play "Heart and Soul." Those plinking notes still run through my head and give me a smile.

Well, I was thinking more about heart and soul in the sense of that quote from The Little Prince. Seeing with the heart. I don't want to give the impression that this is the only way to look at the world, but we live in such a fast-paced times with so much emphasis on technology, that I think we need to take time to look with the heart a little bit every day. I guess it's a sort of "stop and smell the roses" thing. Take time to look at things with a different perspective--less analytical and rational; more with the senses.

I like to take photos and crop them, enlarge sections that look interesting, then see what I end up with. I don't consider myself a photographer. I just like to look at interesting things and look at things in interesting ways.

Here is a closer look at one of the irises in my yard.

I think this is an example of the art that
Nature has to offer us. I love the forms and
shapes, the textures and colors, how the light
plays on the surfaces and the interesting effects created by the shadows. It also makes me think about the concept of what art is. Again, I think that it is not limited to something created by humans or a product of the human creative process. However, I believe it is the result of that creative process and the mental concept of art that allows us to be able to find art all around us--if we see rightly, if we rely less on the definitions and see with the heart and let what we see touch the heart, the soul.

The things around us have all kinds of potential for giving us an experience with art. Things that stimulate the mind or emotions by conveying thoughts or feelings can be found everywhere if we just take time to see it.
Part of seeing rightly--with the heart--means using the eyes as windows that allow us to see out around us with our hearts. I am reminded of the saying that the eyes are windows of the soul, allowing us to look more deeply into someone and know them better. I think that in the same way, the eyes are windows that allow us to look outward with the soul to see clearly, to experience the beauty and wonder all around us.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Some of My Best Friends

I mentioned "my non-human companions" earlier. Sometimes I think my house is a zoo. We have cats and rabbits. Six of each. Yikes! We did not plan to have all these critters, but it was sort of a "one thing leads to another" situation. It goes something like this: You have a cat. Someone has a cat they've found and don't want to keep. They call you up, knowing you have a cat and will probably take it off your hands. Bingo! You have two cats. It's sort of the same story with the rabbits, but we started out with three (one for my daughter, one for my son, and one for me)--and, no, they do not cohabit and we are not producing our own stock. And we absolutely do not eat them (the rabbits, not the cats; well, we don't eat the cats, either! Good grief!). These are our beloved pets. However, three of the beloved bunnies started out elsewhere and ended up in our care.

We also have two pet mice who belong to my daughter. And a tarantula that I got for the museum where I used to work to use in their bug camp programs, but no one really was thrilled with the idea of having to take care of it, so it lives here, too.

That's all we have at the moment. In the past we have also had a dwarf hamster, a red corn snake, and a leopard gecko, but natural lifespan does have a way of catching up with all things (no, we didn't feed the hamster to the snake!).

Having pets is a wonderful way to love and be loved. They are also great teachers. One of the things they have taught me is to stop being the recipient of other people's found or unwanted pets.

If I could have only one kind of animal for a pet, I would be hard pressed to choose between rabbits and cats. They each have their own special attributes. They almost always manage to be able to make me smile. Of course, there are times when they make me want to pull my hair out, too!

Cats are beautiful and elegant creatures. They move with such refinement and grace--especially when they are rolling around on the mantle and fall off or miss the mark when trying to leap from the arm of the sofa to the chair on the other side of the room or go into an all out slide across the tabletop and fall into the space between the table and the wall. They recover their dignity quickly. Then they look at you with an expression that says, "I meant to do that."

Rabbits just make me happy. I believe that God gave us rabbits so that we might have a smile now and then. They are so silly. Think about it. They have great long ears and hardly any tail at all. They have tiny little front feet and great huge hind feet. Their noses are in almost constant motion and if you have ever watched a rabbit eat anything close up, you just have to smile.

This is our beautiful Pushkin.
A very elegant girl.

Twinkie sleeping on the shelf in the kitchen. Notice how she has
rearranged the objects to suit her needs.

Stormy snoozing and PetCat keeping watch.

Pester Allcolor looking at you.

Periwinkle, my mini Rex rabbit, showing you those famous rabbit feet.

Lillie Bun.

And the famous Matilda nose.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A New Venture

Today marks the beginning of L's Worm Farm--Grade A #1 Earthworms. Ha ha! What an enterprise!

Why have I started a worm farm? I like to fish. I love sitting by the water, casting, reeling in, watching all the critters in the environment, and generally enjoying nature and being away from the house. Unfortunately, I am not a very good catcher of fish. I am a real amateur and enjoy just being there as much as I enjoy catching anything. On those few occasions that I do actually catch something, most of the time it is a catch-and-release situation, anyway. I don't have much luck with live bait--the fish manage to nibble most of it right off the hook, right in front of my eyes. Oh, I didn't mention that my preferred live bait is nightcrawlers and redworms. I just don't like to bait the hook with crickets or other insects. If I use minnows, I have to go through all that bucket thing and, well...I just find worms easier to use. Trouble is, the little fishies just come and nibble little bits of worm off the hook. Because of this, I have tried using lures for about half of my fishing life. I don't have much success with lures, either. Although I've tried, I am not very successful at using the casting and reeling techniques that all those delightful and lovely gadgets require, which to use for the different kinds of fish, or which fish like which lures under various circumstances or times of day. I do love to go to bait stores and the sporting goods sections of the various "marts" and look and look and dream and buy things that catch my fancy. However, I am just not very successful at catching fish. I just like being out by the water enjoying things. I would probably drive a die-hard fisher person crazy.

My yard has lots of places where earthworms like to live, but I don't usually plan to go out and harvest them for fishing. Most of the time, I decide to go fishing on the spur of the moment and just head out to one of my favorite spots (I usually have my rod and reel and tackle box in the back of the van just in case the urge to fish strikes). I sometimes buy nightcrawlers at a bait shop, but lots of times I just try my luck with lures. What luck?? The other day I bought worms and didn't use all of them because I didn't have a lot of time to spend at the lake. I took the remaining worms home and put the little blue container in the garage and forgot about them. When I finally thought of them today, I was delighted to find that they were all still merrily crawling around in the worm stuff in the container. While I was trying to figure out where to put them for storage for my next fishing trip, my husband suggested I use a plastic dishpan and add some of the backyard worms to it. There are lots of hiding places for worms around the wood pile and in some of the flower beds. Hey, a worm farm!

I dumped the store bought worms in the pan, added nice, moist, rich soil and additional worms, and covered it with large pieces of bark that I found lots of the backyard worms under near the wood pile. Then I took a permanent marker and labeled it "L's Worm Farm" so that no one would dump out the contents. Then I decided I needed to add "est. 5/3/08" and "Grade A #1 Earthworms." We'll see how things progress.

I wonder if the purchased worms will get along with the local guys?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Sweet Repose

Meet Pascal. He is a year-old brown tabby who belongs to my daughter. He is absolutely the sweetest cat we have ever had. This photo was made shortly after he had come to live at our house. Our daughter had been living in an apartment for the summer before starting her second year at a local university. One of her neighbors' cats had kittens. He was apparently given away, but was returned to the mom's owners. My daughter lived across the hall and decided to take him. He was still a small kitten, although he doesn't look small in the photo the way he has stretched himself out. He seemed so tiny when he came to our house when she moved out of the apartment and came back home just before getting settled in the dorm.

He was about 8 weeks old and weighed three and a half pounds when he came to our house. The only thing big about him was his paws. They were huge. He was not a small kitten for very long, though. It seems he had just gotten accustomed to the other cats, gained some confidence, and was settling in well when he just sort of began to grow and grow and grow. He grew into those big ol' paws of his. He is huge. But he is a sweetie. He loves to sleep in these silly positions, usually belly up. A friend told me that when cats sleep that way they feel comfortable and secure. If that's true, he must certainly feel that way because that's one of his favorite sleep positions. He looks so peaceful. If only I could be so relaxed.

Here he is today.


The pink flowers accompanying the Emerson quote are wild primroses that I transplanted. They used to grow along the edge of the herb garden, but have decided to live along the curb these days, so I let them. The red ones are a hanging basket of bougainvillea that I set in front of a "shabby chic" desk (more shabby than chic now) on the front porch that my daughter got at our hometown parish flea market. The irises were here when we bought the house twenty years ago. I don't know what variety they are, but I love them. They have such a delightful and refreshing fragrance. I wish I could bottle it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Way of Seeing

Here is another quote to consider:

It is only with the heart that one sees rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery The Little Prince