Let there be Light!!

Daylight Savings Time! Whooohoooooo!!! Oh, boy! I wait for this weekend for months. On the Sunday we go back to Standard time is when the waiting begins.

My psyche needs light. Lots and lots of light. I need to revel in it, bath in the sunlight as it streams in my front french doors, sink into my red chair in the corner of my living room that is stuck in a wide-bodied sunbeam. Light is the food for my spirit.

I have a dog, a Lhasa Apso named Yuri, who feels just like me. He has been climbing up on the red park bench out on the patio that has a sunbeam that visits it every day the sun is out. He lays down, closes his eyes, sighs a big heavy sigh and takes a short sun-snooze. My other dog, a Bhudda-bodied Schnoodle named Pepper, just streches out on the warm tiles on the patio, belly flat on the tile, back feet streched out behind him, puts his head in his paws and naps.

I have been know to actually sit out there myself, surrounded by contentedly napping dogs, turn my face up to the sun and just aborb its warmth and light. There must be an ancestor of mine who was a Sun Worshiper.

Light, the stuff that the universe itself cannot do without. Warmth and light…….building blocks of all things that move and breathe and have being. Like Bob Marley so elequently put to music, “life did not begin in a refridgerator, it began in an incubator” warm, cozy, full of the light of love.

So my time is now here. The time of warmth, of days getting longer and warmer, of spring flowers following the sun as it travels across the sky each day, of the cold icicle feet of winter to be shod with the sandals of summer.

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Midnight Spa.

Pepper sits up, looks over his shoulder at Mom sleeping at the top of the bed with Yuri curled up right next to head.  ‘She shouldn’t let him sleep that close to her, really’, he thinks as he jumps down on the stool by the bed. He looks back at the two on the bed that make his personal pack complete as they snooze on into the night.

He pads down the hall, does one quick turn around the living room into the kitchen, stopping for a quick slurp of water before heading back down the hall to the bathroom. ‘Nice dogs don’t need those harsh lights, eh’. Paws on the side of the tub, he jumps into the tub, turns on the water a trickle,and jumps out. He opens the cupboard under the right sink, goes almost halfway in, backing back out with a small cloth bag in his mouth.

Jumping into the tub again, he carefully lays the bag on the side out of the water. He pulls open the string and snuffles his nose into it pulling out a tiny white plastic bottle,opens it up and picks it up in his mouth and gently shakes a few drops under the tickle of water. Pullng a small book, some Benfranklin eyeglasses and a small white fluffy towel out of the bag, he puts the now empty bag on the floor outside the tub.  Pep settles against the  back of the tub, picks up the glasses and the book and sighs.  

Yuri wakes up to the sound of chuckles. He slowly gets up, jumps down on the stool and heads down the hall. He pushes his nose into the bathroom.  “Pep, keep it down man, Mom might hear you”, he whispers.

Pep looks up over the top of the book at Yuri, “Sorry, it is just so funny. You ought to read this too, Bro. It is written so very well, great sublties.”

Yuri came farther in the room, hopped up on the toilet and said, “You know I am a fan of Tolstoy, not A. A. Milne.  Though I do like that Tigger fellow, I could be a fast friend of his!”

“Ooo, sshhhhh.” putting his paw to his mouth. ” Hold on, be right back.” He jumped down, walked down the hall. Pep heard him pad across the carpet in the bedroom then heard his nails on hall floor. “It’s ok, she just turned over. You know that hip of hers is really hurting her. We should do someting.”

“Dogs don’t do hips”. Pep said as he pulled the lever down to let the water out. “Yuri, we are here to sit, cuddle and get her outside for walks. We do that really well. And, of course, to eat the cookies she gets for us. It makes her feel good to give them to us.”

Hopping out of the tub, he shook himself quickly and rolled in the towel on the floor.

“Hey!!! You got me wet!!!” Yuri woofed.

Chuckling, Pepper carefully put the things back into the little bag, and popped it back into the cupboard.  “Let’s go back to bed, Mom needs our cuddles.”

The two of them went back into the bedroom, leaped up on the stool and carefully onto the bed. Pep on the bottom, Yuri right next to Mom’s head. The looked at each other with a tiny smile, then settled into sleep.

Next morning, sitting next to Mom on the couch, she leaned over him, sniffed him and said, “Pep, how do you always smell so good! Do you have a spa somewhere?”

He opened his eyes a slit, looked at Yuri on the floor next to couch and smiled that little Pep smile. Yuri snuggled deeper into the rug with his own conspirtory smile.

 

 

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From Chaos comes Beauty

I am in the midst of decidely chaotic turmoil in my Little Tin House here in sunny Florida.  You see, my kitchen is being remodeled, fixed, upgraded and generally transformed into beautiful.  I hav…

Source: From Chaos comes Beauty

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From Chaos comes Beauty

I am in the midst of decidely chaotic turmoil in my Little Tin House here in sunny Florida.  You see, my kitchen is being remodeled, fixed, upgraded and generally transformed into beautiful.  I have been living with no hot water in it for a couple of months now; the plumbing was tired, the sink was a 70’s gold and generally the whole of it was just so very done with being the kitchen it started out as something like forty years ago.   The process is almost painful at times.  Full of surprises, redos, rethinks, and all manner and form of course corrections. It is a paraox in this life we have here on this earth that to make beautiful we most times need to make a fine mess.  In order to make something so much better than what is there, we have to demolish what is there. 

It sounds like the process of living to me. In order to improve, to go forward, to keep getting better and better we have to make a bit of a mess.  It also reminds me of the passage in Genesis where God made order from chaos.  It isn’t the stirring up, the removing that we use to build; it is the putting it back together. We use pieces from the old, we use new, shinny parts, we blend them together to create a new look, a new life.

I am sitting here at my sweet French desk, with Pepper snoozing on the couch and Yuri watching over the back of the house, listening to bumps and thumps and colorful words eminating from my kitchen. This process of rebuilding the material of the kitchen is fraught with unseen speed bumps that must be navigated. Just like life itself.

O the bumps I have crawled over! O the constant rebuilding I have done! I know that I will not be finished with this building and rebuilding until my last breath on this earth.  Sometimes it is so very, very painful to see the life I thought was pretty well done and set demolished and redone.  It is a one minute at a time sort of existance when one is the middle of a rebuilding project. Some things just cannot be hurried and pushed and proded into what you want. Sometimes the best move is not any movement at all.

Three years ago the remodel of my life began.  Born from life mistakes, fed by taking the wrong path and ignoring the signposts,  I faced the truth that I had to remove my self from the place where the temptation to attempt to force the path into my assumption of where it would lead.  The only way to start the remodel was to leave where I had been for fifty-four years and start from scratch at some other terra firma. So, I prayed for God’s guidance and the ears to hear him, packed up my Flock of Boxes, my two small dogs, and set off for a new land.

He took me across this great country on a road trip with my Cousin Jan that I will never, ever forget. It was for the two of us the Great American Road Trip . With two small dogs, a car packed to gills, and a lose agenda we set off toward the rising sun. We have been talking about it ever since. Joys of seeing where our common ancestors touched down on their treck to the setting sun; peril with deer and Jeeps; silliness with two small dogs and covered bridges and Eiffel Towers. Memories that will forever be etched into my heart.

But that was not the end, not in the place I thought. God was not ready for me to set down roots again. Just like Abraham of old, I had more traveling and more lessons to be learned. From Ohio to Florida, where there was some remnents of roots of my own still hanging on. To a brand new town. To a brand new life, with some of the elements of the old life, those that were best and the most priceless. To a place where I could slowly and carefully put down roots and join with those waiting for my return to be nurtured once more.

The men have quite for the day; one to golf, one to great his girlfriend in from the west for a nice visit. There is a new dishwasher, a new sink (with hot water!!), a new counter top and a promise of more to come in the kitchen. Just like God does, the men do their work with care, with caution and course corrections where needed. The new kitchen will be a wondrous place for me to cook and bake and pass through and just look at.

And so will be this new life God is fashioning for me. I will always miss the best parts of the former life I had in California; missing my family and friends the most. I will still go back for visits every year or so, for their company is the best gift. At the same time I will continue to nurture, to support, to learn and to grow in this new place and the new life God is fashioning from pieces of the old and brand new shinning things.

From chaos comes beauty.

 

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Pepper and his Fence Buddy Have Discourses on Life

Pepper walked up to the fence, peered though the wire at his big friend Kujo. “How are you today my huge pal?” he asked the St. Bernard next door.

“Oh, ok except for this ol’ hip of mine that just pains me so.” Kujo anwsered. “What about you my Little Professor?”

Pepper huffed and shuffled his feat before he plopped himelf down, laying his front feet out in front of him. “LIttle? Only next to you, my Leviathan friend!”

Kujo just smiled. “So, what is on the agenda today, Prof?”

“I thing something is up with the People. There has been an awful lot of talking and walking and going through the gates. It has me a bit worried, you know. Last time that happened Yuri and I had to get into that iron cage with wheels for almost forever.”

“Well, did they get out those boxes with handles? They do that when they go away for a long, long space. I remember when I was just a young whipersnapper…”

“Kujo! Stay focused!  Oh, dear, he is off in one of his rememberences again.” Pepper put his head in his paws and sighed.

“Whoooohaaaaaaa!” bellowed Yuri as he flew past the fence, waking up Pepper and stopping Kujo in mid memory. “What’s up dudes???”  as he skidded into the fence scrunching up his whole side into the fence so little tuffs of his long, fluffy, white fur poked through. “Hey, Kuj, how’s things?”

“Yuri!! For Pete’s sake! Slow Down” barked Pepper. “Kujo and I were have a discusiion here about what the People are doing. This is serious. We need to be ready in case we might be needed. Please, sit down and help us figure this out”

“Now Prof, He is just enthusiastic” smiled Kujo, “Yuri, have you seen anything that seems odd to you? Proff thinks they are going to pack us into that thing outside the fence and go”.

“GO!” I Love GO!!” burfed Yuri with a leap over Pepper. He raced arond the concrete faster and faster, barking,”GO, GO, GO”.

“Well, now he is useless!” grumped Pepper.

“Oh, don’t get your collar in a knot there Prof, he’ll stop in a few minuets. He always runs down after a bit”. Kujo chuckled.

“Well, he just doesn’t take this seriously, he never takes anything seriously.” Pepper snroted.

“So, back to the problem. Pepper, did they bring the boxes with handles down stairs?” Kujo asked.

“Well, I didn’t see those. But…look there they go again!” Pepper sniffed as he flipped his nose toward the gate.

Kujo started chuckling so hard he had to sit down hard. “Ohohoh Prof!! I think I know what is goind on.”  But before he could finish Captian Gibbs came bounding down the back steps.

“Did you all SMELL THAT!!!!! IT’S BACON!!  SOME BODY IS COOKING BACON! OOOOOO I LOVE BACON!! ” Gibbs chortalled.

Yuri put his head way back so he could get a deep sniff. ” Wow! Oh yea! BACON!!!”

Pepper stood up, lifted his nose as far into the breeze as he could get it. Was that…oh yes..yes it is…BACON! He turned to tell Kujo as the big guy put his front feet on the top of the fence and threw his head back and closed his eyes. “No need, he got it” Pep muttered to himself.

Kujo said with his eyes still closed. “There is going to be a big feast.  We dogs need to stay close to the People.  There is always special things for dogs when there is a feast. Oh my Little Professor, this is what all the gate opening and closing and activity inside in leading to.  A feast for People and for dogs.”

“So very much better that riding in that box with wheels!”  Pep burfed, ” All right everybody, all dogs must be on high alert for any tidbit that might appear within our range.  Yuri, you take the big patio table; Gibbs you’ve got the kitchen door to tell us what is coming outside; Kujo, can you hang out next to the screen door on your side so you can tell us what is coming over so we can reconoiter?”

“You got it little Proff.” Kujo trotted off to flop down in a flurry of dust at the perfect spot just out of range of the screendoor. Z

Pepper went up to the back door and began his very best whinny little cry. It was his best Momma call. And there she was, openning the door for him. Yuri came tearing across the patio and skidded into the sunroom to crash into Pepper and Gibbs.  “For pity sakes, Yuri, Slow Down!!! grumbled Pepper shaking his dignity off.

So, the Backyard Gang went on watch. Gibbs was stationed to the big side of the kitchen door, Pepper was in the door way fromt the dining room to the kitchen, Yrui sat under the kitchen table and Kujo watched his door.  By the time the food was ready to serve the dogs had their dish picked out. Of course anything with bacon was on everyones menu, but so was the rib bones, the chicken and even some of those carrots that Pepper never took his eyes off.

That evening, after the food was put away, the four dogs had a sleepy talk at their favorite rondeveau spot at the fence. No talking tonight, just happy dogs smiling at each other over a job well done.

Kujo whispered to his Little Professor, “G’night Prof.  Happy Bacon Dreams.Pepper smiled back with a heavy, satisfied smile.

“Come on boys, time to come in” Pepper heard his Mom call. “Lets go boys”.

Yuri, as usual, raced in first, Gibbs tumbling after with Pepper coming up behind with all the dignity he could muster with his Oh-so-full waddle. He turned at the top step just as Kujo looked over. The two buds raised their chins at each other, turned and went to their oh so welcome beds.

 

 

 

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Square Peg’s Dance

I have always wondered how someone other than me can be so very sure of what the “me” of me truly is.  All those, on the outside, who spent such time and energy to straighten me into their ideas, their mold; to fit my square corners into their neat round mold.  Did anyone of them ever bother to get to know the authentic me?

Maybe the whole thing is a two way street. Not one side of this dilema is the truly wrong side. I think it is just a human misconception.  We, in our perfect fit little mold, sort of like jello in its pretty holiday tree mold, think we are so fine, such a perfect fit, so very comfortable with all our little selves pressing upon the sides of our personal molds just so very finely, thank you very much, can tell someone else how their own mold should fit.  We are all not in the tree mold, some of us are stars, some are perfect little squares.

In my years of living on this planet I seem to attrack those who see me as an “Improvement Project”.  One that they are sure they have all the necessary tools to finish me into the perfect fit in the mold they chose. But my corners never did fit. Sometimes the clash was just a bump, most times it was a bit of a hammer blow.

The words used to bend me were so very, very destructive. Words like; What you should do, you don’t know what you are doing, let me fix that for you, don’t you ever learn (this said with a frustrated sigh), how could you do that, stupid, and the classic last century phrase of you are acting like a girl.  Those comments of put down are meant not to help me improve, but to show their superiority.

No wonder I sometimes miss the person inside me who hides from those chipping away at who she is.  She has been tugged, stuffed, stretched, pushed, even smashed at time into some other’s mold in this life. The little one inside me is trying to figure out this life, just like everyone else.

At this stage of my life I am learning about me, who I am, what I really do like and do not like. What makes my heart sing, what makes it weep, what is most important to be around, what I just cannot be around.

I am still a bit of a square peg, but I have found a nice square corner that I am very content and comfortable to be in.  In his Sabbath Moment this first week of Advent; Terry Hershey tells us that true sanctuary is where we are at home with our own company. At first my thought was, “what if your own company is vague to you? That it has been so tugged out of shape by others that you are not sure you recognize it?

As I wrote that, the true self of my own company looked up from her comfy window seat in the corner and said “I have always been here, waiting for you to come and sit with me”. Then she opened up and let me in on the best and most wonderful secret; I am whole, I am complete, I am a perfect fit into the mold I was made to fill up.

I spend myself freely for those I love. I cry when something touches my heart. I will defend those I love with every fiber of my being. I so enjoy designing and decorating my home, it is an exercise in creating beauty. I have been blessed with a deep, abiding faith in God. I feel fulfilled when I do things for his kingdom. I have been given the gift of writing. I am a keen learner and love the whole process of learning. I don’t much like algebra, but am quite good at math. If I was rich , it wouldn’t be mine too long, for I would then be able to get all those little special things I see for all those I love so much. I give my heart freely, only taking it back when the love in it is rejected.  I so love reading that I will injure my neck strain my eyes to finish that last chapter in that great book. And yes, I am a bit old-fashioned for I so love its sublties and its elegance.  My Ohana are the heart of my being, my love, my prayers cover them where ever in this great big world they are.

I am still a square peg, I am sure their will be some people who will try to knock off those oh so pointy edges of mine. So the dance will continue as we swirl around this life’s dancefloor together.  I do know that I am here on this earth, because God put me here, right now, at this time in time to be the me he made me to be.

 

 

 

 

 

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And so it begins…

As I sit here in my little house, living my little life, looking out on my little porch, with my two little dogs who are such great buds; the thought of what today means to so many made me think of what this Sunday means to me.

One thing I can say for sure is that it does not mean the beginning of a shopping marathon. I did not hear a starting pistol on Thanksgiving evening, I did not get caught up in the hype for the “bargain of the season” and race out to be 200th in line for said bargain.  There was nothing I could see, or hear of, that would entice me out for the whole of the night.  I do admit to being in that crowd of bargain hunters once.  And that was all it took.  Witnessing people at the frenzy of shopping hypnosis was only a one time thing for me.  Watching my fellow human beings literally battle one another, tooth and nail, for a cell phone was not something I will choose to be witness to again.  The long lines at checkout were the forerunner of Purgatory; where we will all stand in line, holding our hard won specials, while the clerk at the register slowly pulls the items across the scanner in the sluggish boredom of a teenager at Aunties house.

After that escapade I decided that there was not one item on my wish list that would ever entice me out in the dark of night to engage in the Consumer Games ever again.  I have even gone so far as to do my utmost to not even go near any business on those days between Thanksgiving evening and Sunday night.  So far this year I have held to my principles.  I have not set foot in any retail, big box, or mall store.

So, what does this time mean to me? It a time of preparation. A time of getting ready for the biggest event in the whole history of mankind.  It is a time of cleaning up, a time of self reflection, a time to jettison anything that does not keep me moving forward.

Father, in his Homily last night at Mass, talked about his parents reminding him that he had to be very, very good for the Christ child to bring him anything.  Father, who is from Mexico, talked about how his parents would remind him of what truly happened on Christmas Eve.  He also said he could not sleep on Christmas Eve, in anticipation of seeing what the Child would bring him in celebration of his birth.  For to receive from the Christ on that night, his behavior had to be the best he could do.

Advent is like Lent, we are waiting for a monumental event. God is doing something so huge, so wonderful, so incredibly fantastic, that we need to be ready for it.  We need to be the best we can be.  The days that lead up to the birth of the Savior give us time to be prepared.  Our altars are covered in purple, the priest wears purple vestments, we light purple candles.  But only three purple ones, the fourth, just before the big event, is pink. Joyful pink. Happy pink.

This season is so much more than parties, and shopping, and who gets what, and getting caught in the frenzy of shopping and doing.  It is a time to set aside a few minutes to truly ponder what that long ago tiny baby’s coming meant to this world we live in.  This is a time to take an extra fifteen minutes in the morning to just sit quiet and think about that night two millenia ago.

And, this is a time, just like Lent, to discard one thing, a habit maybe, just one, that you know is not the best habit you can have. Just for four weeks, stop doing that one thing and fill that space with a good thing for you.  And  like  the time in Lent, you might find that the habit becomes and non-habit. And the new thing brings you not only good, but that wonderful Joy that this season is all about.  Reconnect with the true meaning of this season and find the Joy once again.

We all know somethings  we do, some habits we have acquired,  just sort of happened.  We have seen the young people with their heads stuck in their smart phones or tablets thinking they are being “social”.  This is a season to limit that time on those devices that are supposed to be helpers not the Lords of Time that suck it all up! But we have to face the fact that it isn’t just the young, it is all of us. Fascination with the newest gadget is not a new phenomenon, it has been going on since human beings have been on earth.   So, this Advent might be a great time to set limits on that gadget that steals your time and your ability to interact with fellow humans.

What ever it is, what ever you find that you would like to get rid of or improve or just clean out,that is your gift to the Christ child. One that he will take and make an incredible gift for you on that special night in four weeks. One that is worth being up all night in anticipation of receiving.

May this Advent bring the best of gifts to you on Christmas—Christ the Lord!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At the Bottom of My Heart

I am a transplant, from it seems more than one place here in these United States.  I have a little of Ohio, a touch of South Carolina and quite a bit of Florida in me. Ohio didn’t take to well to me, or in all honesty me to it; but South Carolina spoke to my Southern heart.  For all that great flavoring from those other states with all they have to offer there is one that left it’s stamp on that Southern leaning heart of mine.

I am a California girl. I do not speak Valley, though I can understand it mostly. I don’t surf, but do love watching others surf. I don’t swim in the Pacific Ocean, not my environment, though I will sail or steam or motor on the surface.  I can speak fairly good King’s English, with out the embelishments of too many “far outs” or “dudes! peppering my conversation.  But I am definately a California girl.

One of the blessing of living in Florida as I do now is the accepting sort of glow the population has here.  When I was a little girl living here, it was the same way. Accepting that the Snow Birds come by November and leave by no later than the Easter.  Accepting that people from all over the world, especialy the Carribean sort of end up here. I love that about Florida, I settled in pretty fast and am very happy.

But, that California in me pops out at the oddest times.  Like asking the butcher at Publix if he has tri-tip; his response being a totaly blank look followed by “is that beef?”.  Or my wonderful perfect beach pink hat I wear on my walks with my dogs. The old men here in my park just smile and stare; the women look at me like I am such an oddity.  It even comes out in my home decor.  Lots of wonderful reds, soft blues, perfectly blended with light orange and Tobin Winery accessories. (No one here has any idea what or who Tobin is; only the best winery in Central Coast!)  Or the need to be outside when the sun is shining. Or the fountain that is always on sending its muted song of falling water all through my little abode.

I come by California girl honestly, I lived there for 54 years. From the last of the 50’s into the new millenium.  I saw it change from a place where wild, untamed beauty was only no more than a fifteen minute drive away to the patches of that wild beauty being tamed and stamped with exclusive and exorbitant prices so only the super rich, or as my Mom called them “filthy rich”, could afford to even entertain the idea of that incredible wildness.  I saw the freeways take over the orange groves and create an never ending flow of cookie-cutter houses.  I saw the drive go from one quaint small town with expanses of glorious rolling hill covered with wildflowers, to ribbons of concrete joining up more ribbons of concrete. I lived through the California that my mother grew up with turn into a developers villa on the Cote d’Azure.  I saw those beautiful quaint towns die a slow and agonizing death into the malls, the freeways, the industrial complexes that covered up the wildflowers.

That California still lives inside of me, and a whole lot of others from the last century just like me who have it tucked inside of them.  Some of us have been literaly priced out of that beautiful state, others are sticking it out for the love of the place. It gives those of us who are in exile warm and wonderful friends and relations to see when we go back. A people who understand our need to come back every once in a while to touch California dirt.  A place to launch our memories from as we overlay the concrete with the wildflowers in our hearts.

There are still beaches to walk, still wild places to see, still beauty to drink in. They are just harder to find, farther afield and down that off ramp on the right from that concrete ribbon.  And, sometimes, someone has put a ticket booth at the end of the ramp.

California will be inside of me for what ever is left of my life here on this earth.  My California isnt made of concrete and steel. My California is made of purple lupine, tall mustard, bright orange poppies and blue ragging ocean.  And those other Californians who love me, the memories we share and the sorrow over the
“paving of paradise”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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