Monthly Archives: June 2011

Thoughts on Thoreau

Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine… Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery.
Buddha
On the road again today – down to Geismar for a voice lesson (for Elizabeth). It seems Geismar was a small community between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that burgeoned because of the Crescent City exodus caused from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.I have driven nearly two hours and Elizabeth will have a 2 hour lesson from someone worth the time of this trip. Anyway, here I am sitting at an unfamiliar dining room table for the duration of the lesson – an opportunity to write. This entry will be directed towards me (if you choose to read it, I hope something is there for you). I am away from my house so all I can do is write and think – I can’t jump up at the sound of a buzzer to fold clothes or run to the kitchen because the pasta is boiling over, or say “I’m not interested” to the telemarketer on the landline or the Mormon at the door; I can’t pick figs ahead of the crows or pull weeds from my unkempt garden; all I can do is write.
I want to build on a thought I had early this morning – I was thinking of all of those years of abruptly springing from bed – snatching myself out of the elusive alpha state – and beginning my day without that creative connection. I am understanding why I chose to put my art in a dormant state for those years of intense, hands on, 24/7 parenting. My creative efforts were all channeled into my children then and I am very happy about that. Now, now that I can, I am enjoying immeasurably the time I have in the morning to explore my alpha state – I can see my life so clearly here. I understand, I recognize the right paths and the “big picture” here in the very early morning when there is no alarm or disturbance from the awaiting world. The more I know , the more I understand how we are hard wired to solve our own problems , it’s all there, we just don’t sit still enough to hear ourselves, we look everywhere for answers, every ” wrong where”, – the TV, magazines, society, everywhere but inside ourselves. Listen, listen. We can’t all physically go to Walden Pond, but, still, it can be a place we can “go”. I see my life better there in the early morning place, I see the beauty and I lessen the “issues”; I understand that my life is wonderful simply because it is “my” life – this is where I belong, right here in the smack middle of it – up to my elbows in the good stuff, the muck, the grime, the stuff that makes it mine. It is so important to reconnect with it to look at it from a distance, a spiritual look, a look at the bigger scheme of things. And in looking this way, all the little things go away, sort of like looking at the planet earth from space. The little annoyances that society says are important – ha – that’s so wrong, so wrong to be filled with propaganda and falsehoods, and illusions, this stuff that we get bombarded with daily is not true – don’t believe it, don’t let it into your life – it’ll mess you up, it’ll make you feel less than you are and that is not what the universe intended – we need to feel good about who we are so we can do good for the world. There, I’ve said it, I expressed how I feel.  I suppose this entry is more of a rant than anything else, but it annoys me so much the way outside forces motivated by money are constantly trying to tell me what is right for me and emphasis what is “wrong” about me and how “they” can fix it. At 57, I don’t fall prey to this gobbledygook (love this word – had to use it!) but I think of how many, mostly young, do. It’s all an illusion – smoke and mirrors – someone trying to sell you something, consumer driven society. Ok, got to go – I have an hour left and I want to put down some thoughts on something else I’m working on. I am where I need to be. We are the authors of our lives.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.” Henry David Thoreau …Walden
b u
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lightning bugs and supper

The houses were smaller then and in the late afternoon they smelled like supper. Walter Cronkite’s voice would be part of the background noise along with the banging screen door and the quick staccato ring of the telephone. The carport held only a single spot for the family car, fireflies were called lightning bugs,  and the dining room table is where supper happened. The windows had curtains on them, either homemade or ordered from Sears and Roebuck’s and there was only one TV and it was in the living room and it signed off at midnight. I’m not describing my house, I’m describing everyone’s house in my childhood, just taking my senses back a few decades to that illusive and real “simple life”  – not the commercialized , prostituted version the media is trying to “sell” us now – the mockery that exists here really is stomach-turning and is, for me, consumerism at it’s worse – selling simplicity? Hmmmm. Oxymoron perhaps – better yet, Martha Stewart telling me how to “simplify” – I think the catch phrase here would be, “yeah, right”. No, simplicity can’t be bought and it can’t be organized in Rubbermaids and no one on TV can show you how, simplicity starts from within you and manifest itself in your physical, emotional, and spiritual life and it’s free and freeing…it’s about the choices we make, choices that allow things in our lives, both physical and mental “things”, the more we allow in, the more complicated it gets – it’s just that simple!
b u
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kieffer pears and happiness

The kitchen was hot this midsummer  morning peeling Kieffer pears that had fallen from the tree, fallen from a strong furious wind in the middle of an extremely hot day – trying to cool off the planet but instead made a wreck of my fruit trees. So, here I am in mid-June with a bucket of premature pears. I left some on the ground for the hens – I’ll get them later in the eggs they lay – but I am putting most of them in a crisp or cobbler of sorts. It’s a wonderful summer morning – one I will remember in December when soup is on the menu and holiday anxiety is trying to sneak into my life. I think these mornings are the “times of my life”. I say this with an emphasis on “my”; I don’t include the lives of my family in this, for they are the “reason” for my life and have my total devotion and all of my heart. I say this to refer just to me, if there were just “me” – this would be my kind of happiness, very simple, very non-threatening, very organic living, living that keeps a slow pace that allows awareness and time to extend myself more. My twins were telling me about a study conducted on a college campus about a guy dressed up in a clown suit riding a bike through campus – and when asked if they had seen him, only a very small percentage had even noticed – too busy being “connected” to technology and stress. For that bit of time in the kitchen with my fallen pears, I am content and connected…
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patience and plantations

History seems to be the main event for me these days – the appreciation for and the destruction of. Yesterday was a day of spontaneity,adventure, and history – one of the best kind of days, a day to leave your life for a bit and exist in another – it is so constructive to get out of yourself for a bit of time, to forget what you’re doing and to not care who you are. Elizabeth is engrossed in Gone With the Wind, my mother’s all time favorite book/movie. She is captured by Rhett Butler and is fascinated with Miss O’Hara. The book is page after numerous page of elaborate description of the old South and Elizabeth is no skimmer; she reads every single syllable. I thought, what a great time to see a real ante bellum home… so, we put on some lipstick, grabbed a few bucks and got in the VW. I took her to two houses I had seen years ago with my mom, Nottoway and Oak Alley. It is all so curious this relationship or better said, connection, she shares with my mother; each day unfolds another similarity. I don’t even know how she, a 16 year old, even came across this book and then how a 16 year old would want to read a book about the Civil War that would include 1048 pages – life is magical somehow. I am getting to know my mother better through my daughter . I suppose life really does mend itself if we can be patient. Patience, that is the hard part – we screw things up because we are not patient – we don’t allow the universe to unfold – we become impatient, intervene, and mess up “the plan”.
He that can have patience can have what he will.
Benjamin Franklin
b patient
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Joseph Campbell

 I once read something by Joseph Campbell and I took the time to copy the following passage down on a piece of notebook paper that I discovered  last night while cleaning out my studio – I suppose it “spoke to me”. “You must have a room, or a certain hour or a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be, This is a place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”

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clean 15

Something our family has put in place is making me happy. Each morning before the restaurant opens one of my three sons that work there, drives to Loreauville to a farmer’s house and buys the (organic) produce for the day. The farmer is a treat within himself. He is nearly 82 and his garden is unbelievable – it is so well orchestrated and an aesthetic masterpiece. He spends his day there, battling bugs, tying tomatoes, turning over peas for nitrogen, encouraging bees and ladybugs, and staying close to the earth, fulfilled and spent at 5 o’clock. I am so at peace that they are connecting food to farmer and they are loving the link while subliminally incorporating this into their lives –I’m planting seeds!!  Our food is the most important thing we buy/obtain and yet it is so automated and disseminated – processed and treated. One of my readers responded to the “apples and choices” entry and made a great suggestion – that I post the EWG’s list of the “Clean 15” – here it is:
1.         Onions
2.         Corn
3.         Pineapples
4.         Avocado
5.         Asparagus
6.         Sweet peas
7.         Mangoes
8.         Eggplant
9.         Sweet melon
10.      Kiwi
11.      Cabbage
12.      Watermelon
13.      Sweet potatoes
14.      Grapefruit
15.      Mushrooms
As you can see, there is enough good stuff here to keep you healthy and happy. As I said, this is just my humble opinion but it has to be a good idea to be mindful of what we put into our bodies – it all shows up later!
“It’s bizarre that the produce manager is more important to my children’s health than the pediatrician.”
Meryl Streep
Find a farmer
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love

I woke up, got up, a little earlier this morning – not before the sun, not even with the sun, but just after. I have somewhat of a blank canvas today to look forward to. I know that something will splatter paint on it soon but for a little while this morning, the possibilities are vitalizing.
Unfortunately, today, I wake with darkness, in the metaphorical sense. There was a tragedy in our town recently, an accident and a subsequent death, and these horrible occurrences of life are nearly impossible to get through – I didn’t know the people involved personally but the effect becomes very personal. What I take from these misfortunes are the instant reassessment of my life and the reassurance that it is all so fragile and fleeting. And with this, I reshuffle all of my foolish and shallow “worries” and know, once again, that all that matters is love – period – there is no more . and with that realization, most of our troubles somehow disappear because they don’t really matter much, do they? The people I love are here and the ones that are not “here”, I have loved and still love and everything else that is good in my life is just extra. The “extra” will give me temporary pleasures – the new job, the good report card, the new car, the clean house, the trip to the beach, but loving people will fill the void – loving people will fill this blank canvas with beauty and depth and at the end of the day it is the only thing we can give that really endures. 
To be bold and melodramatic, I end with a quote by Og Mandino:

Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.


heart u
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apples and choices

Somehow, today feels like the first day of summer vacation for me although it began on May 28. I am finally at a place where my mind is clearer and my routine is no longer there. The day is wide open for me. First, I write. I find that when I do things “for me” first, I am more giving later. I choose writing in the early morning and painting late at night – that’s how it works for me. This art, while beautiful and magical, is also a burden; it insist on your time and effort – time taken from daily chores and thoughts taken from everyday concerns. It is something you must do but yet it fills up so much space, space needed to be wife, mother, friend, teacher, gardener, housekeeper. But I don’t know why I even concern myself with this, art it something, like a crying baby, that must be attended to. So, for me, I find that if I just sit here for a bit of time in the early morning before the house stirs and before I become someone’s else, I can satisfy the muse and again, late at night when the house is still again and I have energy, I sit at my easel and paint and the next morning when I get up the first thing I do is go to my easel to see what happened the night before – it is so nourishing.

 I am not here to preach, for I have no credentials and I don’t care for that sort of approach, but I am here to share things I think are worthwhile. So, I have decided to post a copy of 12 fruits and vegetables that you might want to consider buying organically – the Dirty Dozen for 2011.

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines (imported)
  7. Grapes (imported)
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries (domestic)
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens
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