Mighty Hunter

There’s a big red tailed hawk sitting in the oak tree on the edge of the bay.  I’m across the road, but from here I can see her cock her head, look from one side to the other. She’s rosy in the morning light, and fluffed up in the cold, looking like a small chicken, kind of sweet, or at least innocuous. But she’s there watching my neighbor’s big bird feeder that hangs about 15 feet away. This beautiful bird, soft feathers, warm breast, and bright eyes, is a ruthless killer.

If you haven’t read Helen MacDonald’s H is for Hawk, you should. Especially if you’re a fan of raptors, or someone who’s grieved a parent. But it will forever dash your romanticism about the noble hawk.

The book is Helen’s personal saga of raising and training Mabel, a goshawk. The process of training this fierce creature to come to her command after hunting is not for the squeamish. Mabel eats frozen dead chicks at home, but her preferred meals involve lots of fresh blood.

So I understand the calm, focused, vigil of this bird. She keeps glancing right, eying that bird feeder for her best moment to grab breakfast. I know the folks who live in that house; if they see the event, they will exclaim in horror, ‘oh the poor little birdies!’ But I’m cheering for the hawk; it’s worth knowing she will, for one more day, sit somewhat sated in the afternoon light, preening those ruddy feathers.

PS Helen McDonald writes about the return of the wild boar

 

 

Share Some Self-Love this Velentine’s

This beautiful card and others like it are on sale just in time for Valentines Day, in an effort to promote more genuine self appreciation.

dust-again

 

How about a self-love Valentine this year?

While it may be true that there are certain, say, presidential candidates who don’t need encouragement in this area, most of the people I know could benefit from more sincere self-appreciation.

I wrote about Terri last year in THIS POST

What if we didn’t just wait, hoping that others might notice we need love and appreciation? What if we had a day to honor the best in ourselves?  Well, Terri St. Cloud of Bone Sigh Arts posted this on her blog: “Let’s put the Heart in Valentine’s Day”.

You’ll find some heartfelt examples there. And I bet you can think of people in your own life who deserve more love and credit for goodness than they give themselves.

Let’s give it a try. First, spend a little time considering what you need, and see how you can give yourself more. More peace, more time, more love, more patience; more compassion. And look for ways to share this gift with others who need a little, or a lot, of encouragement to honor themselves.

It just might make the world a better place.

A Tireless Worker for Peace & Justice

Rev. Delores
Rev. Delores M. Roberts-Mason Dec. 28, 1942 – Nov. 16, 2015

In celebration of Dr. King’s holiday, I want to honor the Rev. Delores M. Roberts-Mason, who dedicated her life  to “the least, the last and the lost,” empowering children through reading, performing arts, education and religion.

Mrs. Roberts-Mason was a natural at empowerment. She pursued her first degree  while her two children were young, and took them with her to campus on weekends. “I want them to assume they belong in university,” she told me.

The list of Delores’ accomplishments is long.  during her 30 years with DC DHS she touched many lives, uplifting, educating, encouraging and empowering families who had fallen on hard times. Her testimony before the House and Senate Select Committee on Aging in 1989 was helped pass legislation protecting seniors. Howard University honored her as an Outstanding Woman of Washington for her work with young people.

When I met Delores in 2004, she was the head of Zoe Life Ministries, a faith-based youth empowerment organization that ran reading, performing arts and non-violence programs with area kids.

Armed with only volunteers, Rev. Delores and the Zoe Kids & Teens Theater Group wrote, produced and performed numerous musicals including Day of Reckoning, Heart of an Angel, Why and more. The typical production took 2 years from script to performance. Dedicated volunteers worked with the kids on dance, acting and music. But it was Rev. Delores who recruited, wrote, rallied and wrangled the entire magnificent enterprise into being.

RevRobtsPeaceSummit2011
Rev. Delores Roberts-Mason at the Walker Mill Middle School Peace Summit 2011

The Teen Peace Summit was a special school day dedicated to violence prevention held at Walker Mill Middle School in Capital Heights, MD.  Tapping her extensive network of professionals in many fields for leaders, Rev. Delores created a dozen or more break-out sessions with topics like Conflict Resolution, How to Say NO, Seeing One Another through Art, and more on the morning of this special day. The afternoon saw awards presented to students for accomplishments in writing, speaking and art.

Rev. Delores had many gifts, but perhaps the most important was the ability to help people open up and share the best part of themselves. She touched many lives in her work, certainly my own. I believe she had the heart of an angel.

You can listen to a beautiful radio tribute to Rev. Delores here:
MPI celebrates the life of Rev. Delores M. Roberts-Mason

If this story moves you, give more of yourself to those in need, from the heart. It’s what Rev. Delores would have encouraged you to do.

 

 

“Don’t You Wonder Sometimes?”

I heard poet Tracy K. Smith read her poem by this name on Studio 360‘s tribute to David Bowie. Tracy won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for her collection called “Life on Mars,” inspired in part by the Starman in his many identities.  She credits him with showing her “the imagination as something that is capable of creating a whole new world and a whole new sense of self.”

I thought it was a pretty fabulous poem.
“Don’t You Wonder Sometimes” — Tracy K. Smith 

1.
After dark, stars glisten like ice, and the distance they span
Hides something elemental. Not God, exactly. More like
Some thin-hipped glittering Bowie-being – a Starman
Or cosmic ace hovering, swaying, aching to make us see.
And what would we do, you and I, if we could know for sure

That someone was there squinting through the dust,
Saying nothing is lost, that everything lives on waiting only
To be wanted back badly enough? Would you go then,
Even for a few nights, into that other life where you
And that first she loved, blind to the future once, and happy?

Would I put on coat and return to the kitchen where my
Mother and father sit waiting, dinner keeping warm on the stove?
Bowie will never die. Nothing will come for him in his sleep
Or charging through his veins. And he’ll never grow old,
Just like the woman you lost, who will always be dark-haired

And flush-faced, running toward an electronic screen
That clocks the minutes, the miles left to go. Just like the life
In which I’m forever a child looking out my window at the night sky
Thinking one day I’ll touch the world with bare hands
Even if it burns.

2.
He leaves no tracks. Slips past, quick as a cat. That’s Bowie
For you: the Pope of Pop, coy as Christ. Like a play
Within a play, he’s trademarked twice. The hours

Plink past like water from a window A/C. We sweat it out,
Teach ourselves to wait. Silently, lazily, collapse happens.
But not for Bowie. He cocks his head, grins that wicked grin.

Time never stops, but does it end? And how many lives
Before take-off, before we find ourselves
Beyond ourselves, all glam-glow, all twinkle and gold?

The future isn’t what it used to be. Even Bowie thirsts
For something good and cold. Jets blink across the sky
Like migratory souls.

3.
Bowie is among us. Right here
In New York City. In a baseball cap
And expensive jeans. Ducking into
A deli. Flashing all those teeth
At the doorman on his way back up.
Or he’s hailing a taxi on Lafayette
As the sky clouds over at dusk.
he’s in no rush. Doesn’t feel
The way you’d think he feels.
Doesn’t strut or gloat. Tells jokes.

I’ve lived here all these years
And never seen him. Like not knowing
A comet from a shooting star.
But I’ll bet he burns bright,
Dragging a tail of white-hot matter
The way some of us track tissue
Back from the toilet stall. He’s got
The whole world under his foot,
And we are small alongside,
Though there are occasions
When a man his size can meet
Your eyes for just a blip of time
And send a thought like SHINE
SHINE SHINE SHINE SHINE
Straight to your mind. Bowie,
I want to believe you. Want to feel
Your will like the wind before the rain.
The kind everything simply obeys,
Swept up in that hypnotic dance
As if something with the power to do so
Had looked its way and said:
Go ahead.

We Can Be Heroes

Farewell to the musician who provided the playlist for my young life, and the artist who gave sound and vision to the androgynous, artistic, alien of my soul.

In a world with no road map, as the traditional life of my parents and grandparents became quaint and irrelevant, Bowie blazed across the firmament, operatic troubadour of the next moment.

He released sings I thought I hated: they made me uncomfortable, then liberated me. There was music that described the poignancy of life’s moments, like A New Career in a New Town. There was a heart’s anthem, Heroes, which I was blessed to experience twice in concert. There is so much more.

David Bowie reinvented himself relentlessly as an artist and performer, helping me survive my many metamorphoses. And now I find he has released a new record on the eve of his death, that speaks to the challenge of dying itself.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 11.12.21 AM

How can we ever know what our art can mean to the world? And how can I parse the world without this artist?

Hail and Farewell, and Thank You.

A New Year Dawns

I’ve been grumpy about the unseasonably warm weather – over 70° leading up to Christmas just didn’t feel right. But heading into the end of the year, Voila! And it’s so crispy cold that the bay has frozen.

There is a beauty to the frosted morning, a certain chilled pink and blue glaze over lawns and hills. White clouds lift from chimneys like weightless cotton candy. I don’t think of the water as noisy, but the hush when the bay freezes is palpable.

I love winter. It has it’s place in the cycle of life, for hibernation, rest, reflection. It’s a time of meditation, reading and stirring a cauldron full of veggies to warm the belly. For a cat in the lap. For contemplation and planning, for reviewing and resolving to move ahead.

skatersWelcome, winter. Thanks to the Solstice we know your time is limited. I will enjoy you while you’re here.

Holiday Goodies

A Merry Christmas to All

Here’s a few treats for you to make the Season bright. 

Enjoy this beautifully told tale of friendship, gifts and shared holidays:

My Christmas message at Clearwell’s blog bears repeating here, if you can forgive the pun. Please watch this sweetly beautiful animated tale of Bear & Hare, dear friends who have never spent Christmas together, until now.

Get the whole story about this video at Clearly Connected Conversations, HERE.


Christmas Message from Poet Meisaan

From the blog Curving Toward the Center, a series of beautifully simple writings  on the theme of alternative worship and meditation from poet and children’s author  Meisaan. 

What You Accept

What you fear amounts to a thimble of water, says the Lord;
I am trying to give you an ocean of love

© Meisaan Chan


Be Kind to Yourself

beKindtoYourself

thanks to Kristen Neff & Johnine Byrne


 

The Swans are Here!

The winter swans have arrived on Piscataway Bay. They chatter and coo and warble even in the night.

Tundra Swans

Year End Blessings to ALL!

I’m a Winner!!!

Although four days ago I want at all sure it was possible, I just validated this years novel at 50,631 words and got all the fun NaNoWriMo winners goodies: Congratulations video, a purple bar, and badges, banners and a certificate!

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 7.35.06 PMBut the best reward is, of course, having done it. When it got boring, I wrote. When it got scary, I wrote. I even wrote in my sleep and found a subplot. (turned out to be a red herring, but actually a necessary one!) When it got hard, I wrote more.

At 60 years old, overweight with a bum knee, I can’t run a marathon, but for the 4th out of 5 years I CAN WRITE ONE.

This year’s story is a continuation of last year’s Only the Rust Remembers, a dystopian post climate disaster adventure story about three unlikely companions. The civilized world has contracted into what is now Ontario, and has rebooted the heavy industry around the Great Lakes.

In Book 1, it’s 2173 and in Gary, IN a blast furnace explodes, catapulting 2 of our 3  heroes on an unexpected journey. In Book 2, the three of them set sail on a steam tug boat across Lake Erie. But one of them is in the brig! Will they escape the Security Forces that are hunting them? Will they find Tayya’s grandfather who holds the secrets to the past? WIl Hal ever speak to either of them again?

You will have to read it find out!

I learned during this NaNo is that there is a Book 3 to this story. Tayya will need to return to the rising revolution she left behind in Salt City. Garez and Hal may not be so eager to go back. So stay tuned, the epic will continue.

And, I have made a commitment to the path…. of EDITING! The beauty of NaNo is that it’s a big crazy push to wrote a Rough Draft, ROUGH being the operative word. It is not suitable for anyone to read. Before I have a First Draft I need to essentially rewrite each one of these chapters, polishing and clearing up problems with grammar, plot, and continuity as I go.

The good news is that three chapters of Book 1 are already revised. And now that I’ve invested so more into these characters I’m committed to seeing them through to the end.

Thank you to all my Writing Buddies*** this year, for all your encouragement! I am so proud to have so many successful NaNos in my local writers group!!! We will have lots to celebrate on December 7th. 

***

Cheryl Holloway and other members of AWWG

Wild Turkeys!

Here are the ones that got away, wily iridescent birds that appear and disappear as if by magic, who live near you but you may never see.

As you enjoy that roasted fattened bird today, raise a toast to their ancestor, who, according to Benjamin Franklin, should have been our national bird. Behold Meleagris gallopavo silvanus, the Wild Turkey.

 

From Franklin’s letter to his daughter in 1784:

For in Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.

Our american bird originally hails from Mexico, but got its name in Britain when the Spanish brought a similar Middle Eastern species to England. So there actually IS a connection between turkey (the bird) and Turkey (the country.)

Whatever is on your table today, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving Day, and all the blessings of connection and abundance.

Blessed Be!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Icewater Mansions

On November 10, 1975, a wild winter storm was welcome incentive to stay indoors and study. A friend called me the next day to tell me his boat had sunk. We shared our memories of that crummy little boat. Then I told him about the sinking of the Fitgerald and we fell silent, the phone line crackling the way digital lines do not.

EdmundFitz

saltyShip
A ‘Salty’

I grew up in a family obsessed with marine history in general, and Great Lakes shipping in particular. No wonder; these enormous iron ships passed our home day and night, sun and fog, most months of the year.

Nearly silent, the behemoths carried iron ore, limestone, coal, and grain. Unlike ocean-going ships (that we called ‘Salties’) these freighters were long, low lying, with pilot house fore and crew quarters, engines and tall smoke stack aft. The length of the ship held hatches filled with bulk cargo, usually iron ore or something used in the processing of it.

a Great Lakes ore carrier circa 1960
Great Lakes ore carrier built in 1942, still sailing today

Living on a river with ship traffic leaves an indelible imprint on your imagination. The world sails by your door every day. The Norwegian flag, Russian sailors, the Queen’s yacht, Canadian ice breakers, Japanese cargo ships, and iron ore: day and night the red earth that became the cars, trucks, girders, refrigerators, screw drivers and kitchen sinks of our modern lives were moving past my door.

Amazing video collage  by Rob Chismar – (click if you dont see the vid)

If there was one freighter that everyone loved, it was the Edmund Fitzgerald. Why? She was friendly! The Edmund F. would salute you with a long-two shorts whistle if you waved at them or whenever they passed the San Souci Bar, the pinacle of cultural life on the Island. Most ships were business-as-usual, but you could count on a ‘hello!’ from the Fitzgerald, every time.

Play a freighter salute:

May her legend live on.

 

there is a web that connects all things

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