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Archive for May, 2009

Well, I can’t sleep so I might as well write a bit.   The reason I can’t sleep is two-fold.   One part involves the indigestion I have gotten because of all the junk I ate on the river.   The other thing that is keeping me up is the fact I chose to drink some coffee at about 10 p.m. because I felt that later wakefulness would be better than falling asleep at the wheel on the drive home.   Goodness knows I wasn’t going to get any help staying awake from my snoring husband, who had spent the afternoon involved in a deep philosophical discussion about politics and how much it sucks to get old.

Now, Jeri and I decided yesterday that we were floating today come hell or high water, and there was some pretty reasonable water out there.   The weather guessers opined that we had a 40% chance of scattered showers.  Other people planning to float today had travelled as far as from Kansas City or thereabouts, and they weren’t about to let some silly chance of rain turn them back.   As we were loading out the canoes and kayaks, making sure every vessel was equipped with floatation and trashbags and paddles, it began to sprinkle.  I observed a very dark bottomed cloud hovering over us and thought that it might actually rain on us for a bit.   Other people in the group also made the exact same observation.

No sooner had we all gotten on the river and around the first bend, the  dark cloud began to sprinkle on us gently.   It was beautiful.   We still were in the sunshine, and the light glittering through all the sparkling raindrops was positively ethereal.   We were surrounded by birdsong, the river was quite full of water and chuckled busily underneath us.   We sort of enjoyed getting damp, because all of us were prepared fully for a nice sunny day.   There were diaphanous coverups, cutoff tshirts, bathing suits.   And it wasn’t the least bit cold, upper sixties in temperature, not a breath of wind.   That made the gentle rain even more magical, because the drops fell so straight.   I floated past tree swallows that had recently fledged, all perched in a row on a sycamore skeleton at the edge of the river bank.   They were preening and fluttering their wings in the falling rain, taking a charming impromptu shower.

After a while, we all started talking about how nice it would be if the sun would come out.   It was very frustrating, floating along in the incessant rain, slowly becoming drenched to the skin while off in the distance on both the east and west banks you could see blue sky and sun on the tree covered hills.   If you turned and look back up river, the sky was grey and sodden, and that was the weather we were enjoying.   Gradually, the rain got heavier and heavier.   I discovered that I was actually warmer if I took of my white shirt which I usually use as a sun-block.  

The weather teased us, rain lightening up for a time to just gentle droplets making laces of ripples all over the otherwise glassy surface of the river.   The steady rain was starting to run off the fields from little side gullies — just a little bit.   We played with the music-making holes in the bluffs, rocking our canoes to make ripples to make the percussion of the water and stone happen.   After a while, we all started getting cold.   The relentless rain, even though fairly warm, was sucking the heat out of our bodies.   We stopped for lunch and ate all kinds of stuff:  I had homemade scones and leftover chicken and a small container with olives, marinated artichoke hearts and marinated sun-dried tomatoes, but there was plenty of other stuff to share as well and I ate it all: chips, nuts, more chips, no beer, though.  I drew the line at the alcoholic empty calories.  As we were pulling into the gravel bar where we were planning to eat, one of our company dumped their canoe and lost a shoe as well as a paddle (which was recovered) along with all their beer and their cooler.   There were insane young men with us who decided that they were swimming because that was what you do on a float and persisted in diving into the swimming holes at every gravel bar.   It wasn’t really very crazy behavior; they were already soaked to the skin with rain.  Why not enjoy the rush of throwing yourself into the river?   

Anyway, despite the fact that we were all gradually approaching hypothermia, we had to pretty much plug on.  We were way too far downriver to want to turn back.  I had my river bag with me, which I will have to someday inventory for you.   (Note to self:   possible blog post)   Suffice it to say that amongst all the other highly useful objects in that bag, I have an emergency rain poncho.   This is a piece of plastic sheet with proper arm holes and even a hood that folds up into a packet the size of a pack of cards.   As soon as I remembered that I had that, I put it on and immediately started the process of warming up.   That was when I really started to enjoy the float.

Once warm, I could relax a little bit.  I started looking around, and the light out there was stunning.   I decided clear back at home that because of the threat of rain I wasn’t going to take a camera with me.   Maybe I was having a premonition.   I suppose I need one that is waterproof.   Anyway, because of this lack of camera, I have no photographic representation of what was unfolding before my eyes, but it was wonderfully beautiful.    

Let’s see.   How to begin.  Try to picture a broad smooth expanse of river water, unfolding in front of you.   Today there is enough water that most of the rocks and logs are covered.   Everywhere the woods are green, in every imaginable shade of green from chartreuse to almost blue-green and bright brassy grassy greens.   The greens are punctuated with greens and browns.  The trees mound up above the shrubs that line the banks in thick array.   Every once in a while as we dallied along we would pass through a wafted drift of rose scent from the multiflora roses garlanding the high banks.   If you closed your eyes and concentrated, you could hear at least fifteen different species of birds singing and chirping twittering and and buzzing away around you.   All of this bird song is overlaying a white noise pattern of the rain on the river surface, the leaves, and the larger drops pattering into the water from where they accumulated on the overhanging sycamores, walnuts, oaks, redbuds and . . .

Imagine all that riot of green reflected in the water before you.    It is almost a perfect reflection because despite the rain that has now been falling steadily for about three hours, there is not a bit of wind.   So the water is glassy smooth, but all over the surface there is a lacy pattern of ripples interlocking and reflecting off each other, tiny pools of movement caused by the gently falling rain.    So the reflection of the woods wavers gently in the the waters, which appear to be green until you finally look down past the reflections and see how clear the river water really is.   Sometimes you can see a turtle swimming up next to you, curious about this odd log floating along above him.   As soon as they realize you are people, they duck back down into the greeny depths.

Off in the distance the sun was shining on the hills, which turned brightly golden, looking very warm to all us chilled people.   This golden light, refracted by all the rain still falling where we were , shone in a beautiful path right down the center of the river before me, illuminating the whole scene in some sort of unearthly peaceful light.   I just floated along in the current, gently correcting my vector once in a while, and tried to take that picture deep into my memory.  I sang and invocation, calling in the directions.   It seemed so right to do it there, in the midst of all the elements.

We really had a very wonderful day.   And shortly after the golden lit promise from down stream of us, the sun came out where we were and everyone stopped on a gravel bar and dried off and warmed up.   We floated in the late afternoon sunlight the rest of the way down to the take out, where a sumptuous repast of smoked pork shoulder and black beans awaited us, prepared by Jim for our replenishment.   Everyone agreed a good time was had by all.

One particularly favorite moment for me was when I was ahead of the group of 10 canoes, leading the way around the twists and turns and scoping out the snags ahead of us so that perhaps we could prevent any further dumping of canoes.   As the “scout” I was responsible for trying to spot hazards before anyone got entangled in them.   Suddenly as I paddled strongly around a little twist and neatly avoided a large sycamore which had fallen in the last flood, I suddenly felt a connection to a Mohawk ancestor somewhere as he was paddling in some North American river with the Voyageurs.   I was strong, I could read the river, I was deeply connected to it all the way through the fabric of my canoe, which I sometimes feel like I am actually wearing.   Anyway, it was powerful medicine, that feeling of connection to a deep ancestral past.   Makes me sort of buy that “genetic memory” thing I’ve read about.

Well, I believe the caffeine is finally wearing off, so I believe I’ll hit the rack.   Someone said something about floating again tomorrow as I was pouring my husband into the car and departing for home.    I think I’ll wait to decide that until after I’ve slept for at least 6 hours and see what the weather is doing.   I’m not sure I really want to float in the rain again.   It was beautiful, and I actually did enjoy it (especially after I put the rain cape on), but it is very tiring to be cold and eight miles is a long float in any conditions.

Good night.

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It’s been a wild few hours at The Havens.   It started when I walked Ruby last night, in the gloaming of the twilight or whatever.   It was after dinner, the sun was going down and I slathered on pennyroyal repellent oil and we went over to the Coleman Conservation Area and walked four miles.   During the course of that time, the sun painted the bottoms of the cumulus clouds pale peachy gold as they blossomed in the active afternoon heated atmosphere and boiled up just in time to catch the last rays of the sun as it disappeared behind the hills to the west.   

It is such a magical time of day.   The conservation area has a huge field on it, grass punctuated by old water oaks about an eighth of a mile wide and fully one quarter mile long.   As the light fades behind me in the west, the field of waving grass slowly fades from brilliant green to a dusky gray topped with silver fringes where the dew has fallen on the tillered grasses.    Down below the grassheads, there are thousands of shasta daisies blooming, making drifts of white speckles throughout the field.   Just as the last robin squawks itself to sleep, the land bathes itself in blacks and greys and silvers where there were myriad shades of green under the blazing noonlight.  

That is the moment that the fireflies finally awaken from their slumbers at the bases of the clumps of grass where they were hoping to be hidden from all the bug-eating birds that hunt the meadow.   As the shadows deepen at the edges of the woods, hundreds of fireflies magically appear floating above the tops of the grass, flashing intermittently as they warm up their wings for the nights foraging along the edges of the fields.   Apparently these mysterious insects have not been studied sufficiently to say what they eat as adults, most articles I have read say they probably eat pollen or nectar.   If so, then the blossoming grasses must be like a huge farmers market for them, and when they get tired of that pollen glut they can alight on a nearby daisy and drink some nectar.   All the while they flash their signals to each other, as completely random a light show as could be imagined.   

While I was musing over how magical that field was I had a sudden flashback to my days as a quarter of a century old woman in Fairbanks, Alaska; days when I was still limber enough to go out and run or cross country ski for miles and miles and then make love all night.   I used to have my husband drop me off at the corner of the Univerisity property where the ski trails come within yards of Goldstream Road.   I’d hop out of the car and run the trails in to work at my lab in the Bioscience Building on the West Ridge.   It was there I learned the value of mosquitoes.   As long as you continued running, you could stay ahead of the swarm of approximately sixteen billion starving mosquitoes that were whining along behind you as fast as they could fly.   If you got winded and had to slow down, you would be slowed even farther as you lost your focus while you were slapping the back of your neck or flapping your tshirt to get them off your back.  It didn’t take long to realize that it was much better to die running than to walk any longer.   Those bugs were a great motivator.

Last night as I was admiring the sun coloring the clouds in all different shades of pink and orange and yellow, I was reminded of those days on running the ski trails in Fairbanks because of the swarm of Ozarks Mosquitoes that were harrying us along the east edge of the field.   They weren’t so bad in the woods, so I rotated my loops between field and woods and talked myself into completing the walk despite the many bites I was getting.   Fortunately, I don’t react badly to mosquito bites so I wasn’t too worried.   

There was a moment there where I contemplated how I was rather sanguine about letting the mosquitoes bite me so I could get a better bead on them, and contrasted that to many places in the world where letting a mosquito bite you is like committing suicide by malaria or west Nile virus.   That reminded me of the afternoon I spent in the labyrinth pulling the weeds and cutting the grass around the rocks of the inner circle.   I am sorry to report that there were a few rocks there that I could not identify as I was pulling the weeds from around them, and I am also sad to report that the rock from north Germany, which was a lovely piece of amber I collected my very own self at the tailings pile of the gravel pit near the village where my college roommate lives, is missing.   I’m afraid an errant rabbit, dog, cat, or bird may have kicked it and who knows where it is lying.   Regardless, it is still in the labyrinth somewhere.

So, I picked strawberries this morning, bright and early while the birds were still trying to get all their fledglings oriented, eating sunflower seeds and bathing, and discovered a box turtle about 6 inches long lying amongst the strawberry plants.   We transported him to the far side of the labyrinth, and I picked 3 cups of ripe strawberries while Jim went out and exterminated asparagus beetle larvae.   Then we came in the house and I made waffles with fresh strawberry topping for breakfast and now I intend to get organized and go floating.

Hope you all have a great weekend.   Catch you later.

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Abundance updated

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Peonies and penstemon.

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This morning, I was checking the irrigation system in the Hosta Dell.  This is a very long system that goes along the west fence and finishes at the fern located next to the rock garden in the corner.   Every emitter seemed to be aimed correctly and emitting the appropriate amount of water, so I proceeded back towards the house, pulling tiny weeds as I went.   This led to me noticing a patch of sedums that were threatening to cascade over and drown a dianthus that was down slope of them, so I yanked out  pruned back the patch and looked at the resulting pile of rooted cuttings and cogitated over where would be a good place to apply them.   I finally decided they would look cool disporting themselves under the lilac bush down by the mailbox, so I transported them there forthwith.   After throwing them about briskly carefully planting them in their new home, I proceeded along the fences back to the house and thence along the front border, where I stopped for a moment to observe that the junipers in front of the house appear to be sick with the same fungus that killed the giant one across the street.  I spent a few moments contemplating what I should replace them with.  Eventually I arrived at the peonies, which insisted they be picked and brought in the house to grace my table.  I walked around until I found vase companions for them in the penstemon patch.     

 

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This is the resulting arrangement, which incorporates the aging red peony from the passalong garden.   It chose to drop some of its petals as I was arranging the flowers, and I realized that the vase of flowers can symbolize so much.   There is the contrast of the newly opened with the flower on its last moments.  There is abundance:   the peony plant is covered with so many flowers right now no one can tell I picked five of them today.   And there is nothing quite so abundant as a peony.   Can you even count the petals as they unfold with such abandon?

The Kitchen Dragon with his collection of Earl’s Valentines seemed to be enjoying the show.

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You have a great day, now.   I’m going out to finish trimming the inner circle of the labyrinth and meditate some more.   There is no place on the property more likely to remind me of the abundance in my life than that spot, with its rocks from all over the world collected and presented to me by so many, many people. 

I am indeed surrounded with an abundance of love, joy, beauty, health and prosperity.  May you be so also.

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Well, there has been a lot going on at The Havens this week, which accounts for my lack of presence in the blogosphere.  Instead of doing chores that desperately need doing (like laundry, vacuuming, weeding, etc.) I thought I’d work up a quick update.

The big news around here is the robins fledged and left the nest on Sunday morning.   I managed to get a quick picture of them right before they acceded to their parents’ demands that they venture out into the big world.

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It was quite the three ring circus out there Sunday afternoon as the harried Mama and Papa Robin tried to get their easily distracted, poorly coordinated and extremely naive chicks oriented and organized.  Yesterday as I was doing massage, I kept hearing insistent cheeps from the shrub where their nest is.  I managed to locate the complainer, and get its portrait as evidence that they have survived the first extremely dangerous days out of the nest.  While I was out there, I also saw the parents delivering food to two other places (the maple tree next door and the boxwood shrub by the house), so I am confident in reporting that so far, all three chicks have survived.  Here is the one in the juniper that was stridently interrupting my massages all afternoon.

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I went out and picked some flowers the other day, right after I did my Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post, and Jim made a comment that I should do a post on bouquets you can’t have unless you have a garden full of flowers.   He’s right.   When was the last time you saw columbines or bearded iris at your local florist?

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The other news around here is that the economy and the recession have finally made their impact felt on me personally.   I am trying to stay positive, because fortunately we are in a fairly good financial position.   What happened was that a local company which for the last 14 years has been providing their office workers with massage as a taxable fringe benefit decided that they needed to cut costs even more than they already have, and eliminated this very beneficial program, overnight, with no warning, effective immediately.  They have already closed one green mill and laid off a few workers.  They did not eliminate corporate vehicles for their superfluous engineers, nor their corporate gas cards, but who am I to second guess the 100% male managers who made the decision on which programs and people to eliminate to cut costs?   Were any of them getting massage?  No.  Are any of them doing 8 hours of computer work every day?  No.   Do they have cars and gas cards?   Yes.   Do I sound bitter?   Probably.  But if I sound bitter, you can just imagine what the people whose carpal tunnels I have been keeping in service for the last 14 years despite the lack of ergonomic work stations and adequate rest breaks they get must be saying and feeling.   

I am fortunate this decision was not made five years ago, when the people from this company comprised 85% of my client load.   Today, they only represent 30%, due to my diversifying my clientele over the years during the slow attrition as people move, retire, or use other massage therapists over the years.   A major player in the change towards other therapists was a woman who decided that I must be speaking to demons because I have crystals in my massage room.   She stopped coming to me, and while she has never bad-mouthed me (mostly because she knows darn well what reaction the “talking to demons” idea would get), she also makes sure that any new employee who became eligible for massage got told how wonderful HER massage therapist was.  So wonderful that she wound up having carpal tunnel surgery and back surgery after she stopped coming to me, but maybe there is no correlation between getting proper therapeutic massage and avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome and back problems.   All that research must be wrong.

Oh yes, I am angry and slightly bitter, but my feelings are complicated because I am also extremely grateful for the years that I did serve this company.   It makes me sad to see them regressing from a posture that was quite progressive and far-seeing in terms of their employees health, morale and well-being.   But I also realize that it is better to pause and regroup rather than lose your business entirely in these times of recession.   And, to give the employees of this corporation credit, the increase in my clientele outside of the company is largely due to their selfless promotion of my business during the years previous to this.  Because of that, I am in a position to weather this slight downturn.   And some of them will be coming to me on their own dime, although probably not every week as they were when the company picked up the tab.

Life goes on.   The birds fledge, flowers bloom and fade, clients come and go.  The important things:  our health, Jim’s love for me, mine for him, Jesse’s love for us both, these things continue on regardless.  

I am blessed, and I live fully believing the blessings will continue.  As my mother is fond of saying,  “This too shall pass.”

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