Friday, June 23, 2006

Tears in my eyes as I remember

I read Faucon's story of his conversations with his Father
and I remember writing a story for a book we wrote at a
Neighbourhood Learning Centre way back in 1979.
The book was called "Release of Learning" :"And Now it flows"
Stories of life.learning and happenings of women who came together
to write in "English for Fun" a way of remembering

Tears are in my eyes as I remember too my Father
He was ill for many years ,BUT we did not discuss the possibility
that he would die
He was still alert mentally and still vitally interested in all about him
He had no belief of a life after death or in any God
And seemed to be at peace with himself at the end.

Knowing that he had fulfilled his life's ambition
to love and help as many of mankind in his own way
as he could
I laid him out the day he died
as I had done so many times in my work as a nurse
It is a different feeling when it is your own Father
No it was not easy !
But I knew him better than any undertaker
I knew the clothes he liked
How he prided himself on having clean socks
after his days work was done ,and of course his
beloved slippers
I never covered his face with a sheet as was the custom
in those days
I don't know why they do it
I left his face uncovered until it was time to go to the
undertakers parlour'
I looked at him ,he was at peace
With no more pain...
Bert was a good bloke.

Lois (Muse of the Sea) 24.6.06

A Season in the Abbey

Image Hosting by

Sick and paralysed, Nelson returned to England, and decided to accompany his father to Bath for a cure in January 1781. In a busy season Nelson was lucky to find digs with the apothecary Joseph Spry at 2 Pierrepont Street. News of the expedition in Nicaragua reached Bath as one of the army officers was also recovering his health in the city.

During the 18th century, Bath was an extremely fashionable cultural hub, attracting the aristocracy and gentry from all over the country.

In Lemuria it is the Abbey which is the cultural hub for artists and writers. Indeed, Riversleigh Manor is closing down for a couple of months and we are all going to have 'a season' in the Lemurian Abbey.

So anyone who is still here needs to pack their bags and hot foot it over to the Abbey bofore all the digs are occupied. We will make sure that there are plenty of activities to amuse everyone while we are ' in the Abbey'.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My Father

Dad has moderate dementia, and this might be the last time I will see him where he remebers my name. Yet, special moments bless our time together in spite of 'helicopter sisters'. As I walked with Dad, he said,

“Years ago there were things I wished I could forget – now I have – not too bad.”

As I played a dice game with Dad, he chuckled after complaining that he couldn’t remember the rules,

“At least no one can claim I am cheating!”

After I told Dad a story, he shared,

“I know that once when I heard a good story I could think of another right back – now I think of several, but never have the time to figure out which one is right.”

After I read him a poem I wrote from a couple of years ago, he quipped,

“I’m not sorry I can’t remember that one, ‘cause now I get to hear it again.”

While chatting with the museum curator, he noted,

“I can’t remember just where I found that, but I sure remember the excitement I felt – and thinking how stupid people were not to know what it was.”

After talking to Em on the phone, he whispered,

“I was going to hang up but guess she might want to talk with some more – that I remember.”

As he was settling into bed, he mused,

It’s been so long since we were together I’m not sure how much I can tease you.”


These things, Dad – I will remember

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dressed for morning tea

Dressed for morning tea
Originally uploaded by FranSb.
I could not resist
Miss Five, all in her best, for tea at the local cafe

after the wedding

We had the most perfect day for our wedding - not too hot but very sunny, 10 guests including my two children; and althought J and I were mindful of the circumstances of our marriage (my late husband, his late wife) we had a joyful day.

The wedding itself was a four minute ceremony at the local Register office and then we took our guests on a trip on the Mersey Ferry made famous by a long ago pop song.

We then travelled about 20 miles the historic city of Chester for lunch and finally ended at a canal-side pub for coffee and cake. A perfect day out.

After the guests had departed J and I took my daughter and son (who are aged 26 and 21) for a quiet drink at a bar overlooking the estuary near to where we live, and I was so grateful that all of them were getting on well and that J had been accepted as my new husband so graciously by my children.

We had a few days away after that in the beautiful county of Shropshire where the sun never stopped shining and where we explored the most enchanting towns.

Since arriving back it has been panic stations as my daughter is renting a flat in Amsterdam and my son is going to join her there. I have also been ill(!) with suspected gallstones (nice wedding present) and am waiting to see doctor at the local hospital. Yay!

Life just keeps on going on! I had wanted a period of calm reflection after the marriage - time to think about the meaning of what we had enacted, and how I felt about my late husband. Never mind. I'm sorry to have been away so long and am glad to be back - have missed you all.

Friday, June 16, 2006

To mark Steph's birthday...

The Pye 'N' The Skye

I had returned to the maternal nest to lick my wounds and begin the process of healing. Mum had a cat; an ancient, feeble calico called Tabby. She had grown stout as many spayed female cats do, and she was so stove up from arthritis that she couldn’t groom her back.

Poor old Tabby!!! All the fur on her back was in permanent feltings; that irritated her to no end, she would go into something akin to a grand mal seizure when you tried to pet her or pick her up. Matt and I both begged Mum to give Tabby mercy, and not let her go on suffering like she was.

Finally, in late spring of 2004, Mum agreed and she and I took Tabby to the vet. All of us grieved for the loss of a cat-panion, pathetic as tabby had become she had been a cat, with her share of feline quirks, and her own irascible personality.

For one empty summer the house was catless, and Mum and I were lost without a furry companion, no purring pal to stroke and spoil.

Matt and his roommate told us of a cat with kittens in their apartment complex, with only 2 kittens unclaimed. His roommate described them as a white one and a dirty white one. Mum agreed to take both of them when they were old enough to go on their own

They arrive at last on an autumn evening with a squirming tote bag. When the bag was sat on the floor, a kitten with the beginnings of a chocolate mask on his face jumped out and pounced Mum with mischievous intent. Then as Mum crowed with delight over the ‘bad-egg kitty’, a shy white face with enormous blue eyes peeped out of the bag.The white kitten looked at me and when our eyes met, she was utterly and irrevocably mine. I scooped her up and snuggled her close, she purred in joy and began kneading on my shoulder with delicate paws.

So, Mum had her baby and I had mine. Mum had already decided that she would name her kitten Pyewackett, Pye for short. He ended up with a name longer than his tail, ‘Pyewackett P’Wacko Sneaky-Pants’!!

..I had preferred to wait for a name suiting my kitty perfectly, with her cirrus cloud-like coat, and her pale blue eyes she looked like a winter sky. So I chose to name her ‘Sweet Lady Snowspryte Skye’ and call her Skye for short.

"Mine, mine!! All Mine!!!

Anyone who has ever had the privilege of watching kittens grow know what a delight they can be, both awake and asleep.

Everything is a toy to kittens, especially one another. As they were freshly weaned when we got them, they still sought the safety of snuggling close to Momma, since Mum worked nights I became Momma. After Mum left for work the three of us would climb into my bed, and snuggle ourselves into sleep.

At Christmas Matt and his roommatewent their separate ways and Matt moved in with Mum and I. Pye immediately decided he was Matt's cat. Truth be told, they're two of a kind!!

While Pye and Skye were growing, Mum got a mate for her lady cockatiel, Betelgeuse. After two tries, she approved of the male we brought home. Matt and I dubbed him ‘Mr. Twee-Deedles’. Mr. And Mrs. Twee-Deedles set about laying a clutch of eggs. In the summer of 2005, they successfully hatched and reared 1 chick. He earned the name Cosmo (from ‘Seinfeld’), and Mr. Twee-Deedles got a first name. So Mum now had Betelgeuse and Bosco Twee-Deedles, and their child Cosmo.
Cosmo learned to talk quickly, here he is telling Pye, "Don't touch the birdies!"

Pye’s markings grew apace with his taste for mischief, and it was common to hear Matt shout “OWWW!!” and groan a breath later, “Pye!!! That hurt!!” The feline in question would come sauntering out of Matt’s room, kinked tail aloft in satisfaction.

Both kittens displayed their Himalayan and Siamese forbears in their own unique ways. Pye grew into a remarkably handsome Himalayan cross, with classic markings and hybrid vigour. He waxed fearless & bloodthirsty, every inch a cat guarding a Holy Temple in Siam.
Skye is slender and lithe as can be, and she can be as icily aloof as any pedigreed Siamese, and twice as loyal. She remains dainty, half the size of Pye, and prefers to have me all to herself. She has finally warmed to Matt and Mum, but still seeks my comfort at bedtime.

They will be two years old at the end of June, and are definitely a part of the family, having won all of our hearts, and those of any visitors we may have. Mum doesn’t regret her choice. I never need to ask that, when I hear Mum’s delighted shout from the other end of the house, and see Pye racing pell-mell for Matt’s room, I know that Mum adores the kitties. And they are devoted to her

Every night that she works they greet her at the door when she returns, and visit with her until she falls asleep. Often, Matt or I will wake later and find Mum and both the kitties, sleeping in three curled balls on Mum’s bed.

So for anyone that worried I would still be without a cat-panion, worry not, I have my ‘Sweet Baby Girl’ that I spoil and groom, and give my tenderest heart to. I do battle with ‘Pye-Guy’ and his sapphire blue eyes are gleaming with delight when I break out the oven mitts.

That has become a favourite game of his, playing slap-and-claw with a human wearing oven mitts on their hands for safety. Pye will park on the counter, sitting on his kitty haunches and slap away at the oven mitts, eyes glowing red and teeth exposed.

I am able to tell which cat is which with a blindfold on. Although they are both long-coated, and they both have a trademark Siamese kink in their tails, that is as far as it goes.Skye has overlong outer hair, falling silkily from a part down the centre of her back. She looks and feels cool as a snowflake. Pye is all undercoat, thick, impenetrable and downy. He looks and feels warm as a sunny harvest afternoon.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

More of Will

Sweet Water

Those from other than a desert clime cannot embrace the internal map of watering holes and oasis that imprints itself of mind and soul. An ancient guide would know of every spring and seasonal flow, of hidden well and globular root that held the nectar of life. My friend Will was of these – from parched experience, Indian stories and feral whispers. One may not believe all of his stories of adventure ands spirit of the land, but one does not play false with water. And thus it was with the Sweet Water Spring.

“Draw a line from Big Bend (Walker River) to the Watinabi Marsh eighty miles south. Draw another from Miner’s Cup to Washoe Damp. Near the intersect you will find the sweetest water of the Great Basin. Or you can just follow your nose or turn your mule loose within twenty miles.”

“Why sweet water, and is it part of an underground stream, or what?” I queried by way of encouragement. The old man offered many things, but never talked just to move the dust about. I think many old folks start sentences and never finish their thought – a sign of senility, they say. But I think wisdom does not care to share with those who will not pay attention. “Many are called, but few choose …,” is a phrase that comes to mind. There was popular myths of secret underground rivers beneath the high desert – another treasure to be found. That he ignored my feint told me more than conjecture.

“There is a mineral taste to most water out here – everywhere, actually. Ever try that new ionized water? Dead, dead, dead. But some spring and creek water tastes pretty strange. So, when you find a spring with no noticeable taste but full of life and your taste buds sing -- you call it sweet. Brings to mind Jeannette McDonald singing ‘Oh Sweet Mystery of Life’ but in liquid form. We’ll stop by there tomorrow – take us some picnic fixings too.” With Will this meant chucks of bread torn from the loaf, slabs of cheese and beer soaked jerky, raw vegetables and found berries. This was part of a plan long in the making – my presence didn’t change a thing. Not that I had any objections.

Eating in a restaurant with him was another adventure. He never looked at a menu – just ordered what he wanted, and never ‘got no lip’. Never asked price and usually left a big bill on the table before the slip arrived. He wasn’t wealthy, but never poor either – he just enjoyed reliving the gold rush days. “Once paid $5.00 for an egg,” he ventured, “Back then a fancy Sunday suit only cost $10.00. Then I cooked it up on an assay pan and fed it to this young lady with a new born girl – and husband just killed in the mine. My Missus road with her back to Carson City where she would find a husband right off. Do you know what ‘fecund’ means – every ‘go west’ fella did? Worth more than gold – that’s for sure.” Anyway, that morning for breakfast he told the waitress, “Tell Fred to fetch a piece of rare prime rib you didn’t sell last night, sear it in bacon grease and hide it with a couple of basted eggs. While we’re waiting, I can handle a piece of strawberry pie and coffee.” And she did. I had to fend for myself and didn’t regret the homemade hash and scones and offered ‘grandma’s jam’. They only had butter milk, and I passed – wasn’t into coffee yet.

I was too young to ponder why every woman of any age always jumped to Will’s attention; and men always tipped their hats and asked for his advice. Once by a campfire, this man of 94 years whispered, “If you truly love any woman you must love all women a bit, and if you respect any man, you must respect them all.” Not sure if was speaking to me at all – just himself maybe. But I was telling you about Sweet Water.

When we got to the little canyon after four hours on a dirt road he hadn’t been on for 48 years, there were a couple of surprises. A little meadow had formed and three cotton woods struggled in the rocky shadows. The whole magical spot was smaller than your front yard as the meager water flow seeped back into the ground only a couple of yards from where it bubbled from a pipe. It was an artesian well! “Jake Simms and I drove that pipe down in 1904 and took turns sucking to get it started. Before that it was just a seep spring about a foot across.” The other surprise was a sign – “BAD WATER – DON”T DRINK”, and a crudely marked scull and cross bones. “What do you see?” he asked.

I searched and found many small animal tracks, but no bones or evidence of carrion birds. The sparse foliage was healthy and bright. The pipe was un-rusted, but green with moss. Will just nodded at my observations. “Let’s be safe anyway!” He scraped the skin on his forearm in two places. One he touched to the edge of the pipe. On the other, he rubbed leaves of the cress growing at the base of the spring. Then he plucked a leaf from a tree and placed it beneath his tongue. We waited. After twenty minutes none of his test showed any ill effects. “Silly folk don’t know good water from soda pop! Besides, if it were bad, the Indians would have destroyed the well. Why is it that people label anything as ‘bad’ if it isn’t like what they already know? If they aren’t willing to try anything new that they never experienced before, I wonder how some of them ever had kids. You just watch. When ‘different’ comes to mean ‘bad’ in politics, religion and education – it will be time to move – except that there may be no where else to go.”

When I got home, and Mother asked what we had done, I said, “We drank some poison water and talked philosophy.”

“I thought you were prospecting, or looking for Indian artifacts.”

“That too.”

I had a bottle of that water on my bedroom shelf for years. Somebody threw it out while I was in Viet Nam. Doesn’t matter. I remember.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006



Betty is a homeless person who once lived in our church's parking lot. She camped in an old van along with her cat and all her worldly possessions. She parked her van in the lot every night, left each morning for somewhere else (we never knew where she went), and then returned each evening. She lived in our lot for well over ten years.

Being a church, we try to help such people. We tried to refer Betty to community organizations who could help her. She wanted no part of them. We tried to arrange other housing arrangements for her. Again, she wouldn't budge. So, we just gave up and gave her a key to one of the public restrooms on the grounds.

Betty is not crazy, but she definitely is eccentric and speaks her mind. She would get after the church gardeners if they cut down her favorite plants. She would chew out parishioners if they made too much noise at evening events. She never came to church even when invited, wanting nothing to do with it. With her being that cantankerous, at times, I tried to avoid her; others, more patient, just let her opine as she wished. You may wonder why we put up with her-- why we never called the police and had her evicted. That's just not what we do. Besides, aren't we all a little eccentric and curmudgeonly at times? And, finally, I think all of us at some level thought: "what if that were me?"

Betty is dying now. She has some sort of cancer. Church leaders have helped her get proper medical care and are now seeing her through hospice (thankfully she is not in the van anymore). Her concern is finding a home for her cat and having her van disposed (which is being arranged). Our church leaders are with her as often as they are able. As one put it to me last night, "we're all she has. We're her family." He's right.

Should we feel sorry for Betty, that she has lived a life in vain? Not at all. I never saw her feel sorry for herself. She is a true free spirit. She is teaching us compassion. She is teaching us to love the seemingly "unlovable". She teaches us the meaning of dignity.

Thank you Betty, for blessing our lives.

A View From My Window

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Winter Greens

copyright Monika Roleff 2006.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Thought from the swing

Creation Dance

There is a fine world phased close to this –
you know, the one we are taught is real,
and it contains shadow reflections of my being.

It is not of seeing but of knowing –
beyond belief, more portent than blind trust,
and embraces the totality of this Attention.

I do not speak of divine caress of soul –
the other Knowing, of Epiphany,
in which Source and I resonate as one and be.

Nay, this is the realm of Covenant –
of all that can be imagined, or imagines me;
from which I can draw wisdom and congruency.

I hear the tinkling chimes of what might be –
against sure balanced rhythmic drumbeats
of what has come before and is of humanity.

Somewhere in the feral mist of memory –
those Currents that allow presentiments,
lies the key to magickal propensity.

and of this I know in lonely truth –
that of this Embrachure of Knowing,
there is an eternal link as basic as Eternity.

What I Know is to what is Unknown –
as is my Wisdom to all Imagined,
and every thought expands upon Creation.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

On Labyrinths

I needed to take a brief break from my pirate activities.......

On Labyrinths

Spirals and circles are recurring shapes in nature: nautilus shells, sand dollars, the moon and sun, human DNA. It is not surprising then that circles and spirals show up in the art and religion of many cultures throughout the world: the Tibetan mandala, Native American medicine wheels, prehistoric petroglyphs and European labyrinths.

A labyrinth is a circuitous pathway spiraling to a center. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has a single path to the center with no dead-ends or detours. There is only one way into a labyrinth and that same way leads back out.

Labyrinths were created in Europe and the Mediterranean region well before the Christian era, but the most prominent ones were constructed during the medieval period, many in churches. The most well-known labyrinth today is found in Chartres Cathedral. The Chartres labyrinth is constructed of colored tiles and laid into the floor of the cathedral's sanctuary.

In the early medieval period, many Christians made pilgrimages to the Holy Land. As travel became more expensive and dangerous, labyrinths were constructed in these cathedrals to provide an alternative to the pilgrimage. Walking a labyrinth became a symbolic journey to Jerusalem. Later, labyrinth walking became, more broadly, a metaphor for the spiritual walk through life and became a form of moving prayer or meditation.

Labyrinths fell into disuse after the medieval period; however, in the last ten years labyrinth walking has experienced a resurgence of popularity in some American churches. Labyrinth construction projects have sprung up across the country as parishioners and other spiritual seekers enjoy the benefits of this contemplative practice.

The process of walking the labyrinth is simple. The walker begins a slow, deliberate walk into the labyrinth. Many of the American labyrinths are based on the Chartres model that has a full course of about two-thirds of a mile. Walking this distance, spending time in the center and walking back out can take anywhere from half an hour to several hours. It is entirely up to the walker. There is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth, but the pattern that many walkers use is spending time during the walk towards the center to meditate or pray about a concern, make a personal confession or reflect on things that could be made better in the walker’s life.

Reaching the center represents meeting the divine presence and usually involves the walker spending some time meditating or praying in the center. Finally, the walk out is a time of spiritual, emotional, and, according to some walkers, physical healing or refreshment.

Walking a labyrinth can be adapted to whatever spiritual or emotional need in front of the participant. Labyrinths can be found in urban settings, manicured church gardens, by the sea or in the wilderness. The location is not important. It is the journey that matters—a symbolic pilgrimage towards spiritual wholeness.

Image and text: L. Gloyd (c) 2006 This labyrinth is on the grounds of a church on Palos Verdes Peninsula, California.

Hybiscus fairy

Hybiscus fairy
Originally uploaded by FranSb.
The flower fairy
I send to all the lovely folk
who dwell in these parts
and gave me precious words
and storied memories
for my birthday. With love Fran

To Mark Fran's Birthday...

A bookmark for Fran!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

for Frances on her Birthday

Arts Blog Top Sites

This Old Man

Those following some posts on other blogs might wonder at the sense of legacy that I feel towars a certain old man. Here is a story that might give a clue ..

but enjoy anyway ...



It was a pleasure to turn earth in Will’s garden. He had coaxed out the rocks thirty years earlier and had turned the soil double to 18 inches. Each year he spaded the top spread, even if intending to plant a small patch. I paced it off – twenty-eight by fourteen feet. “Enough to support four families in greens and fresh,” he noted, “As well we did during the thirties. Now, I just grow enough for the Missus and me seeing as how folks are accustom to store-bought flavor.” I knew this wasn’t true, as he was always giving bags of tomatoes , zucchini and pole-beans to ‘widow-ladies’ around the block. “Think I’ll dig out those worthless berries, though,” he mused – chin on hoe handle. This was the same threat he made every year, I learned. He believed it made their thorns grow smaller and the berries thicker. Didn’t know anything about this kind of ‘talking to your garden’. Seemed to work, though.

“Did you ever use a tiller?” I ventured, already unable to keep up with his hoeing pace. He knew I meant a gas-powered thing and not one of the old mule-drawn, beautiful five-blade instruments – which was a given he had.

“Nope! Nuthin’ against them except that they stink when you fire them up, and if you can’t smell the turning earth, how are you going to know what compost and fertilizer to add?” Old Will asked a lot of questions I couldn’t even begin to answer. As he didn’t return to his whistling, I knew some other thought was perking around under his massive shock of brilliant white hair. His thinking wasn’t slowed by being eighty years my senior, just his quiet way – like a good carpenter measuring twice and cutting once. He never adjusted his speech to account for my youth, though; and there was a dictionary on the back porch, just in case. He didn’t use special or technical words just for me either – just spoke as he did to everyone. He tilled his mind the same way as his garden, and he wasn’t about to repeat himself; so pay attention. I did, and others didn’t.

“Folks say that tillers save time, which they rightly do, if you don’t count fixing, cleaning and running for gas. So, when I see a man use tiller on a small patch of ground, I take stock of what he does with the time saved. If he uses that time for education or helping other folk, then I would grant that something is gained. If it only makes more time for golf or watching the idiot box, then I think he’d be better off with a shovel.”

“You are not just talking about working a garden, are you?” I queried sweatingly – knowing he wouldn’t answer if I quit spading. He chuckled – always delightful because it came out in two tones; one low and from the ribs, the other a pleasant wheeze – like wind in cedar branches. He reached up and plucked a pear from an offering branch. Then a jack-knife behaved and carved a single swirl of peal – round and around like a lathe. Then he stuck the blade in a stump – signal that it was OK for me to stop and join him. My effort was ugly, but the juice just as sweet as his. He leaned back against a fork in the tree and the slight breeze gave a rocking motion to his stand. I thought maybe he was going to doze off. I sat on the stump, but didn’t move. Patience didn’t come by me easily, but with Will it usually paid off. So I counter butterflies, instead of scratching.

“The right way of thinking got lost during the wars, I think. There was a time when a man might look at your garden, are how you had raise your kids, or the position you took at the town meeting, and say, ‘You hold some values I’d like to appreciate. Tell me what you think about philosophy and politics and keeping a wife for sixty years.’ He might even get around to asking how I choose to pray, but that would come after he took full measure of how I treated my mother, and my dog.” This caught my interest. As kids, we were taught never to talk about money, politics, sex or religion; but I was old enough to know that those were the only subjects worth talking about. Later I was to learn that the wisdom is to never ‘argue’ about these things. I guess Will was saying that if you get the measure of a man first, you never have to argue – but can discuss anything, or at least tell stories.

“Now-a-days, a man blurts out that he is a Republican, or a Reverend, or a Lawyer, a Catholic or an Englishman – and this is supposed to convey some description of values, education and spirituality as a basis of communication. All it can do is lead to argument! A man ought to keep council and show his worth before offering an opinion. Didn’t Christ say something about ‘living your sermon, not speaking it?’ By any balance, a man who claims to be something establishes a standard against he wishes to be measured – and usually fails at it. People are big on saying, ‘I’m a Christian, or I’m Democrat – whatever’. Then they go out and try to force other people to be and think what they fail to do everyday. The higher you set your ladder, the greater the distance to the ground, and if that ground is gravel instead or solid rock – or slippery instead of tested firm, well …”

He had fetched some baskets from the rafters of his shed, and I took this as a clue to drag the ladder to the pear tree and select a proper set for the picking. “Now, if before you climb into politics and religion,” he continued, “you make sure to have a trusted friend there to hold and anchor …”

“But we are taught to trust our teachers and priests and civic leaders,” I protested a bit.

“Then get one of them to hold this rickety ladder for you!”

I don’t know why he spent so much time with me!

Forever Young Fran

Image Hosting by

May you be forever young and dance with us on the Pirate Ship
Kick off your shoes and enjoy!

Happy Birthday Fran!

Happy Birthday, Fran!
Here is a postcard of Belenus' clip clops
in the sand over at the cove. Have
a wonderful day!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Of Cuteness and Oreo

How to approach the tale of my beloved Cuteness?? When I have avoided thinking of her studiously, guiltily for nigh onto three years. There are still tears washing in my spirit for one of the finest cat-panions created by The God and Goddess. She came to be my cat-panion as an also-ran. We were seeking another grey tabby to replace the cat-panion who had fled the terror of a cross-country move.

My then-husband and I relocated from Tempe, AZ. to Corvallis, OR. in May of 1992. In Las vegas we spent the night at a truck stop, and the cat-panion we had at the time (named Dead Kitty, that's a whole 'nother tale) was terrified of trucks and he fled in terror, we couldn't find him and were forced to leave without him.

I was understandably heartbroken and Jim (now my ex) promised me another cat when we were settled. We were still living in a tent at the fairgrounds when the opportunity for a grey tabby kitten appeared. When the human of the Momma Cat brought him over and dropped him off he left the kitten's litter-sister as well. The dainty, black and white runt tugged at my heart-strings as only the sweetest of cats can do.

We kept both kittens and soon were blessed with jobs and a place to live that would allow cats. So in the four of us moved. Jim, myself, The Tom-Tom Cattus, and Mi-Mi Cat. Tom's full name was Major Thomas Heathen Katt, Ret. Airhead 1st. Class. And his fearless, quiet sister was Mi-Mi Heatheness Katt, Esq. Squinging..

Tom grew to be the penultimate Alpha Tom. he held the whole city under his kitty sway, males deferred to him for the females in heat, for he had bested all of them in battle already. His name was changed to King Tomm by the neighbourhood college guys.

Mi-Mi name was changed thanks to a videotape of George Carlin, he was talking about cats and their temperaments, he began to mime petting a cat, replete with feline 'elevator butt' whilst saying, "You're such a cute cat, you're just a cute g**-damned kitty cat." As he was saying his Mi-Mi came in and sat oh so perfectly pretty in the doorway, gilded by the evening sun.

We looked at her an one another, and renamed Mi-Mi, The Cute G**-Damned Kitty-Katt. She was Cuteness for short, and Little Mizz Wide-Glide as she grew older and rounder in later years. Cuteness bore three litters of utterly irresistible kittens in eighteen months, which is when we had her spayed, and got all her shots.

As she matured into a feircely loyal and protective cat-panion, she became a formidable huntress. By the time she was three she had grown bored with rodents and birds, with which she gifted us regularly. She progressed to using her flexibility and intelligence to sucessfully hunt bats.

This tale isn't so much about what she did as a cat, but how she was a cat-panion. She would sit quietly next to my chair as I wrote or crocheted in the winter. We would curl up together on the couch of a rainy evening and bask in the slumberous warmth of the wood stove 'outsert' we had installed in the fireplace of the 100 year old farmhouse we called home.

In the spring, summer, and autumn she would chase the insects I stirred up in my garden as I weeded, dead-headed and basically nurtured my flower and herb, and rose beds. She knew when my husband was due to return and let me know when he did. She would hear his truck rumbling home through the tree-lined streets of historic buildings, well-planned flowers and impressively manicured yards.

At night she would politely curl up on the foot of the bed and purr softly as we fell asleep with the sweet breezes from the open window perfuming the air with grass, and floral scents. In the morning she and I wouyld rise together, and make the coffee, then I would feed her and King Tomm their kibble, water and a small dish of 'people food' for them to share peacably.

Time went by with distressing speed, and when she was three her brother King Tomm passed away from Feline Aids. She and I were heartbroken, and became one another's consolation, when a well-meaning friend brought me a kitten to ease the loss, she was quite indignant.

I explained to her and apologised, and she tolerated the kitten as he grew, as he mellowed into a cat they became 'friends', well as much as they could. Cuteness remained our sweet lady, and settled so comfortably and perfectly into our lives and hearts. In the winter I suffered from pneumonia every year, Cuteness, who was never a lap-cat, would park in my lap, forcing me to rest with rich purrings and gentle insistence.

When my husband became addicted to drugs and grew first distant and forgetful, then neglectful and abusive, she and I grew even closer as I protected her from his wrath and growing violence. She in turn, comforted me when his verbal abuse wore me down to despair and exhaustion of spirit.

As so often happens with severe addiction, my husband lost his job and our home, we wound up living in a 6'X10' camper in the National Forest. Cuteness didn't want to be there any more than I did, but we both stayed for the sake of the other.

If the shame and misery of living in a camper with no bathroom, and ineffectual heat weren't indignity enough, and the worsening abuse and neglect weren't destroying what spirit I had left; the camper was parked right in the middle of Mr. Black Bear's territory. In the evening, when it was Cuteness and I alone in that horrid little box (my ex was off making drugs with his 'girlfriend'), the bear wouuld use the camper as a tackling dummy. He would stand on hind legs next to the camper and rock it on the tyres with his forepaws.

Cuteness was understandably terrified, and clung to me as she shed and hyperventilated. I comforted her as best I could, promising her I wouldn't let the bear hurt her, and that it would get better. I promised her that I would always be there for her, and that I wouldn't let anything hurt her.

A friend couldn't stand to think of us living in the forest and agreed to let us park the camper in her driveway on her farm, which is where we 'celebrated' Christmas. My husband found a job, and I found a home and the assistance to move into the home after the first of the year. As we moved all of our stuff from the barn into the single wide mobile home, Cuteness wandered through the house, eyes alight, saying, "Wow!!" over and over again.

We settled into our new digs and watched the apple tree bloom, and the grass green up. My husband continued to abuse drugs, and eventually lost a second job to them. Back to the camper in our friend's driveway we went. My husband I and were to help around the farm in lieu of paying rent. As he couldn't get and stay clean, he ended up going to rehab over on the Coast. This Christmas it was just Cuteness and I in the camper, we had our lonely little dinner, and curled up to read a book.

Spring came, and still we were in the camper, summer came and we 'upgraded' to a early 70's motor home that had been sitting abandoned in a driveway for years. I srubbed for 3 days to get the stench of mice and fermented 'black waste water' out of the motor home.

Summer came and my husband was gone far more than he was there. he would coast to the end of the driveway, and when he was sure I was asleep he would try to sneak in, so I wouldn't know how late he was with his girlfriend.

Autumn came and I could take no more, the motor home smelled worse than the turkeys or swine barns and carried nothing but bitter memories and associatinos for me. My friend generously agreed to let me sleep in her barn, up in the loft with the stuff that wasn't in use, and the empty canning jars.

I set up a bed, a light, an alarm clock, and my computer. No sooner was there bedding on the bed, than Cuteness ensconced herself on the bed, and in the barn with me. So there we lived, Cuteness and I, two fat middle-aged ladies, fleeing from unhappy times, and deepest hurt.

In the first November we lived in her driveway, my friend and I slaughtered her turkeys the old fashioned way. Cuteness perched on a hay bale and beamed down at me, her feline chest a-swell with obvious pride. I swear she walked every inch of that farm, telling any animal that would listen, "My human made a kill!! My human made a BIG kill!!"

I was working at the local Farmer's Market on Wednesdays, and one such Wednesday, a fellow went through the market giving away kittens. I staunchly ignored him, telling myself that I didn't want or need another cat. Cuteness and I had one another and that was enough for us.

Eventually he was down to the last one, a fluff of a grey tabby with bright white face, belly and feet. He looked at me across the market and I knew he was supposed to be mine. I walked over to the man and the kitten climbed up my chest and attacked my earrings fiercely and joyously.

I laughed and said, "Yes, beastie-cat, you are supposed to be mine and your name is Syd Vicious." We went home together to the barn; Cuteness took one look at the kitten and hissed as virulwently as she could.

Syd, the kitten fluffed as largely as he could and hissed back, Cuteness looked up at me in delight, as if to say, "Oooo!! You got a good one this time human!!!" The three of us crawled into bed together later that night. Morning came and I awoke to the radio, there were Cuteness and the kitten.

He had grown homesick during the night and Cuteness offered him the comfort only she could. There she was sprawled on her side, with Syd attached to one dry nipple, both of them blissfully asleep. I sat there for a moment, feeling such love and pride fill me that I thought I should surely light the barn like a klieg light.

Winter came, and the three of us would curl up under the pile of blankets and snuggle up for warmth. I would have Cutness curled up by my side with the kitten, who had been re-named Archie Roodlz. There was almsot 2 weeks of below-freezing weather. It was hovering around frweezing during the day and down into the low 20's at night. If it was 22 outside, it would be a whopping 24 in the loft, yet the three of us managed a fragile sort of happiness.

Come spring I saved up money and got Archie neutered and got his shots. He had grown into a glossy, bright-eyed, affectionate cat that was full of life and curiosity about the world outside the loft.

Unfortunately, my friend had asked that I keep both the cats in the barn, preferably in the loft unless I was there with them, so Archie was unable to get out and explore the world or romp.

Summer came and I was struggling to stay sane as I kept failing to find work, I would drop off a resume, do an interview, and then came the background check. I was forced to accept that I was not going to find a job in that town, ever, thanks to my ex's reputation in the area.

Autumn arrived in shades of red, golds and oranges, along with a request from my friend that I move out of her barn. I agreed to, accepting her reasoning for it. I called my mother to move back to Arizona, and she barely managed to scrape the money together for me and some of my stuff.

I spent a month frantically trying to find a home for Cuteness and Archie. Two days before I was to leave, I had no choice but to ask my ex to take them. I couldn't take them to the animal shelter because they had had an ourbreak of feline distmper and had closed down the cattery until they were sure that the outbreak was over.

My ex agreed, reluctantly, to take both cats, understanding that they had become cat-friends, and Archie didn't know the world outside the loft of the barn. He arrived in the late evening to collect the kitties, and it was a battle to get the cats in their carriers.

At last they were in their snug little carriers, and fussing as only frightened cats can do. I gathered up their dishes, food, litter box and kitty litter, as well as some things that smelled of me for some comfort to my 'babies'.

Lastly, I walked out to the car with my ex as he put the carriers in his car, and the last thing I heard before he started the car and left was a heart-broken wail from Cutenss when she realised I wasn't going with them.

I wasn't able to say goodbye then, nor let go of the grief, sorrow and shame that I felt at not being able to keep my promise to Cuteness, nor keep on being in Archie's life.

Now I say,
Farewell O Cuteness
Huntress of Bats,
Loyal and loving lady,
Comfort to a troubled spirit
And greatest of friends.
I regret I could not remain
And I grieve your loss still.
Go Home now Dear One,
Home wher I shall join you
One day, and we shall have
Such a reunion.

Farewell, Dear One,

*sniffle, sniffle*

Monday, June 05, 2006

Just Passed Dawn

It was a sky-shadow morning,
where the breathing mist and pollen hush
provided a pallet for soulful inspiration.

Above the shifting tapestry
of ground-bound swatches of yellow bright,
and shadowed silence of tree and bush;
is a casting of white and gray
where each branch and wire and gable
has its say and cannot be denied.

For just an instant,
every jutting presence –
God gift or man’s defile
has an equal voice
and vote
on what this day will be.

Fisher on Swan Jetty

Fisher on Swan Jetty
Originally uploaded by FranSb.
He fishes for ideas while I watch to see if he catches a stone fish or a crab.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

La Loba

A woman who runs with the wolves,
never plays by anyone’s rules.
She makes them up as she goes,
with anyone she out shows,
with her you’re best not to fool.

She is the keeper of the wild-like
zing, to her virtues we must continue
to cling.
She stays among all-knowing creatures,
while taking on wolf-like features,
lovingly nurturing her hungry

She is the wise one who collects bones,
for her sins she doesn’t atone.
She is the finder of the soul,
in her charge she keeps patrol,
and to her bidding she is never

In all women La Loba exists, her tenacity
pushes on, persists.
She gives courage for women to stand tall
reverberate loud, enthrall,

but for her likeness you must learn to

Gretchen L. ©

I was inspired to write this poem after I read Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Path to Riversleigh

The path to Riversleigh, another of my mono-paintings.

image gretchen L. (c)

Friday, June 02, 2006

Five minute workmen

Five minute workmen
Originally uploaded by FranSb.
The Secretary has heard that some of the travellers have left
a big pile of old bits and pieces beside the road so has called out the collectors to bury all the waste. Here they are waiting for the bus. If you have any more garbage please leave it where it can be picked up. The Sec.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Cottage In Antwerp

This is my cottage in Antwerp, close enough to the Marquet Square, where I can hear the sound of travelers along ancient cobblestone streets.

This painting I created is called a monotype, a process by which an impression is painted on a plexiglass plate, (sometimes I use a metal plate) then “pulled” with the use of a press to create the image you see here. No two are ever alike.

Gretchen L. ©

Worlds Within Worlds

Saguaro Cactus Blossom Posted by Picasa