Crashes and Creativity


Where have I been lately?  Haggling with two insurances companies.  Sixteen days ago, a woman ran a Stop Sign in a residential area while I was taking my grandson to middle school.  She immediately admitted it, the fire trucks were there within minutes (liquid and steam were spewing out of my car); the police showed up shortly as well.  About the time they arrived, a man ran the same sign and the police had to chase him down the street.  Makes one wonder what people are thinking, doing?  Texting perhaps.  Luckily, neither of us were hurt except grandson got a bruise from the seat belt and his glasses flew off.  He actually stepped out of the car and walked to school.

Kudos to my insurance agent, Lacie White of Farmers in Canyon, Texas.  I have never had an accident since I arrived in Texas 26 1/2 years ago so I called her.  She actually drove to the accident site, called the woman’s insurance company, etc.  Then she not only took me to the rental car place, but also to my daughter’s so I could unload luggage and such because we were planning to go to Dallas a few hours later.

The woman who caused the disaster received a citation.  Yesterday, I received a letter from her insurance company, Travelers, saying she might not be at fault.  Really?  She also did not have sufficient insurance to cover the value of my nearly new car, a 2017 which I bought last July.  Now I am haggling with my insurance company over its value.  This all has taken an inordinate amount of my time and energy.  Meanwhile, I have to find another car.

On the bright side, my grandson and I are fine.  I can still go to work, feed horses, and do what I always do.  However, it has delayed creativity, e.g. writing blog posts, working on my next book–already started, and starting my new handiwork project.  My last crochet project is illustrated below.  It is the blanket I made for my grandson.  For those who crochet, here is how I make it.

It is rather a creative, make it up as you go blanket, using some of his favorite colors, black, red, with a bit of grey for contrast.  As you can see I alternated colors to make each stand out.  The stitches used include single, half-double, and double crochet, made into different patterns such as shells, and a pattern where I alternated double and single crochet stitches.  My original inspiration came from patterns I found on Pinterest using many, many colors which I knew he would not like.  The beginning chain was multiples of four. The only downside of this type of pattern of alternating types of stitches is that the edges do not come out totally even and in the end I had to create a border around all four sides.  Probably blocking it would have also helped, but he wanted his blanket right after I finished it so I did not block it.  Ready to start my next project which I think will be making a sweater out of black and white granny squares, with maybe a bit of grey or red thrown in, colors left over from his blanket.

 

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Sunday Poem–“Hair”


No females in my family had long hair.

Dad did not like it,

said it showed male domination

over women.

Once when grown and gone

from home, I began to grow mine

out, experiment.

When he saw it, he told me

he thought it unbecoming.

I cut it.

Mom said she had long hair

when she was young.

Her dad forbade her to cut it.

In her twenties she chopped her golden locks

off, flapper style, then hid her head

in a scarf, afraid.

 

Note:  This poem is from the family section of my book, “On the Rim of Wonder”.

 

 

 

 

Sunday Poem


A few years ago Uno Mundo Press published my second book, a book of poems.  Reviewers say it is a memoir.  Oddly, that was not the plan; in retrospect, it seems apt.  The poems’ topics are not chronological but rather via topic with quotations before each topic as a sort of introduction.  For the foreseeable future, while I continue writing another book, I will post one poem from the book every Sunday.

The book begins with this quotation:

“Do something scandalous to give your descendants something

to talk about when you are gone.”  Vanessa Talbot

 

The first section begins with this quote by Judith Jameson, the famous dancer and choreographer:

“I always tell my dancers.

You are not defined by your fingertips,

or the top of you head,

or the bottom of your feet.

You are defined by you.

You are the expanse.

You are the infinity.”

 

The first poem in the book goes like this:

I Have Lived

Depression, sad days, melancholy.

Gone!

At 26, I said, “To hell with this!

You control you life, live it!”

 

I tried forbidden liaisons, trained horses,

Traveled around the world, a cobra wrapped around my neck,

Walked the Shalimar Gardens in Kashmir,

Stood before the Jama Masjid in Old Delhi,

Watched the Taj Mahal reflected in still waters,

Walked the streets of Katmandu,

Talked to monks at Shwedagon Pagoda,

Bargained with sticks in dirt, math our only common language,

Downed raw turtle eggs in Costa Rica,

Danced on table tops, sang “Adonai”,

Roamed empty roads across the Navaho Nation,

Divorced four times,

Raised two talented children.

 

I have lived, running on the rim of wonder.

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Sunday Poem–A Life


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I wrote the first blog post about this in February, a second a few weeks later.  The following poem I wrote a week ago but never posted:  too upset, too sad, too filled with regrets I could have no way fixed because I did not even know all the story.  He remained unconscious for two months from late January until March 22.  It seems strange that the memories of a life I lived so long ago, mostly forgotten, could surge into so many waking moments now years later.  Life:  always filled with wonder, surprises.

yesterday we put his body in the ground

the wind blew through the trees

whispering green spring, beauty

yesterday we put his body in the ground

the man I loved, beautiful mahogany velvet

dazzled the world with his smile

yesterday we put his body in the ground

my daughter’s father, standing with family

some we had never seen before, worldwide

yesterday we put his body in the ground

watched a life flash by, slides from baby

to our life long ago, other lives and children

yesterday we put his body in the ground

family, friends, two of his children

a life struck down, too suddenly, too soon

In honor of the life of Kenneth A. Mowoe

You will not be forgotten, your memory lives on with me, your family, your children and grandchildren, your friends.  Peace.  Love.

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A Week of Wonder and Flowers


 

This past week was my birthday.  The wonder started a week ago when my friends came for dinner and my friend’s father, visiting from Mexico. brought me red roses.  I had not seen my friends in a long time and it was fun.  Then on Sunday, Roberto, the father, and I went hiking in Palo Duro Canyon on a new trail.  I never saw a name for it.

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We found this trail by starting at Chinaberry (for those who go to the Canyon), taking Comanche Trail up to this new trail.  When they intersect, we went north rather than south on Comanche.

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If you read the previous blog in December about hiking Comanche, you saw this peak but from the center and to the south.  This is a view from the north looking south.

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Eventually, after hiking up and down across an arroyo, you end up above the river which looks tiny here, but when a big rain comes, it can rise many feet in a few hours.  It was very sunny, I had a hard time focusing so occasionally a finger got in the way.

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Roberto has a funny sense of humor.  He could not resist pretending to hold up one of the many giant boulders along the trail.

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This is not a difficult walk and not too long if you only have a few hours.  We came across a group of wild turkeys, but they moved so much, I was unable to get a good photo so gave up.

Wednesday was my birthday.  It began with my first period class–I teach senior high school English.  They showered the room with confetti, brought me a giant chocolate muffin with a candle in the middle, lit the candle and sang me Happy Birthday.  Then during second period, two of my students arrived with two bouquets of flowers.  The room smelled wonderful for three days.  I brought the flowers home yesterday in a big box.

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My grandson told the florist to make me a giant bouquet with exotic flowers.  This is one side of it.  Orchids, roses, hydrangeas, and some really unusual flowers which I cannot identify.

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This is the other side of the same bouquet.

This bouquet is from my son.  He knows my favorite color is orange and that I have a lot of that color in my house so….

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I am seriously nerdy and asked for an atlas for my birthday.  My daughter outdid herself and bought this one full of all sorts of information I never expected and maps.  I love maps.  When I read a book from Latin America, Africa, etc., I look up the places on maps.

Last night I sang songs, using the poems of Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda among others, with the Amarillo Master Chorale in a church with perfect acoustics for choral music.  Tonight I will see friends at an opera party.  What a wonderful week!!

A Week of Gratitude (cont.)


Each day I made a list of things for which I feel grateful, sometimes more, sometimes less.  Tuesday’s list includes:

-Endless sunsets streaked with orange, vermillion, purple, lavender and colors with no name.

-An ability to sing the world’s greatest chorale music with a group of experienced singers who even occasionally sings with the symphony.

Wednesday’s list includes:

-Books I love.  My favorite is “Storyteller” by Leslie Marmon Silko.  I must have read her story “Yellow Woman” at least 50 times.

-The ability to write myself.  I entered a flash memoir contest on Wednesday.

Today’s list includes:

-A short but fun experience with my grandson whom I picked up at school.  He told me all about what he is learning in science class–he is in seventh grade.  We discussed genetics and Punnett Squares.  I recently explained them to some high school biology students.

-Driving my tractor, grading the steep drive down to my cliffside house.  I grew up on a farm and love driving the tractor.

-Cooking dinner.  Here’s the recipe:

Fillet of salmon–keta

4-5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1 poblano pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped

1/2 medium beetroot, thinly sliced and then diced

Bebere to taste or other spice if you do not have this

Several bunches kale, spine removed, and coarsely chopped.  I used two kinds–one green and one purple.

Saute the garlic and beetroot in olive oil until nearly cooked.  Add the poblano pepper and salmon.  Sprinkle a coating of bebere to cover the salmon.  Saute until salmon is nearly done and pepper is cooked but still bright green.  Add kale, occasionally stir, and saute until kale is slightly wilted. Serve over rice.  I used basmati from Pakistan.

Note:  bebere is a spice from Ethiopia.  I use homemade from my Ethiopian friends who have it special made.  Her blend is complex but not very hot.  Some commercial blends are mostly hot.

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Gratitude


Thanksgiving brings so many thoughts, including thoughts about the divisive political discourse in the country now.  However, it seems more productive and in keeping with the day to focus on gratitude.  As I write this I think of both personal and broader things for which I am grateful, one of which is that I live in a country where divisive political discourse can actually and legally occur.  Now to the more personal (even though I think the personal is political, I will not focus on that)–here is my starter list:

-my family–daugher, son, and grandson; daughter and grandson will join me shortly to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

-my mother’s pumpkin pie recipe which my grandson will help me prepare when he arrives; he says it is the only pumpkin pie he really likes.

-my job which I truly love–teaching public high school; my students frequently make my day.

-where I live in beauty truly on the Rim of Wonder.

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-my health

-my friends

-my ability to travel to all sorts of fascinating places

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-a life I love

 

What day is it?


Probably only school teachers and students will relate, but since school was out a couple of days ago, I have to really think to know what day it is.  You would think I could remember because today is a busy day and last night’s sleep was interrupted by lightning, tornadoes, crashing rain, and hail.  Tonight they predict more of the same.  I live out in the country; I cannot hear the tornado sirens going off.  About 1:30 am, my daughter calls from her basement in town.  The tornado sirens had gone off and she and my grandson had gone to the basement. Honestly, hail worries me more than the threat of  a tornado because hail is relatively common here.  Little hail won’t destroy my steel roof or break the numerous banks of windows in my house, but large hail…I don’t want to even think about it, especially since the company from which I bought all these windows went bankrupt.

It’s humid, really humid.  We here in semiarid country are not used to humid.  Feels like you cannot quite ever get dry.  Clouds come and go and I am guessing tonight will be a repeat of last night.  I do not need a weather forecaster to tell me that.  But it’s green, really green, emerald green, an infrequent site here too much of the time.  At least, I won’t have to worry bout wildfires like I did two weeks ago.

My daughter was called in to work–she’s a nurse, my grandson is eating a grilled cheese sandwich–I use artisan bread and cook it in olive oil.  Gives grilled cheese a whole new meaning.  In two hours we will go to friend’s house to visit with her dad who arrived from Mexico for a vacation.  I will have to use my Spanish; he speaks no English.  Last night he called me on the phone.  He talks fast and I am a bit lost.  It’s easier in person.  Then we will pick up my grandson’s older brother, we will take grandson to soccer practice, take him home and finally older brother and I will be off to a concert we know nothing about (an adventure) and to Art Walk.  Art Walk occurs the first Friday evening every month.  You would think I would remember what day it is.

My tractor and me


Yes, I own a tractor.  Last summer I decided I was tired of hiring my neighbor to mow when I needed to get rid of tall grass or cut down some yucca or plow snow or grade my drive which washes terribly in a big rain.  I bought a Kubota, not a big one and not a tiny one, a middle sized one.  I had driven it only once this spring, but after this five inch rain my driveway is less than optimal.

My grandson came home with me tonight because my daughter is working a night shift at the hospital; she is a NICU nurse.  I fixed us dinner–that wonderful organic pasta from Italy, some fish with vegetables for me and cheese topping for him because he is vegetarian.  After I finished the dishes, tractor time arrived.  I backed it out of the barn and started working on the lower part of the drive, the really steep part that goes to the paved area next to the garage.  My tractor saves me considerable work after a big rain.  I used to shovel for hours getting the dirt and gravel off the paved part and hauling it up the steep drive in a wheel barrow to dump elsewhere.  Then I would sweep it.  Tonight with the tractor, it was completed within 1 1/2 hours.  I even had time to sweep the dust out of the area of the barn where the tractor was parked.  If the weather holds sunny like today, tomorrow I will work on the long part that goes nearly to the main road.

As I write this, my grandson writes his third blog post.  He already has followers; he is ten.  His blog title is The Blogging Boy.  I have no idea how long he will continue to blog but he is a quite persistent fellow for a ten year old so maybe he will continue.

If I had considered it earlier, my grandson could have taken a photo of me and my tractor.  For now you will just have to use your imagination.