Star Tree – Star Goddess by Judith Shaw


See the paintings. With deforestation affecting so much of the world, the idea of trees as sacred is especially appealing and meaningful.

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In a world where humans were small and nature was big, surrounded by forests of trees of immense size and stature, it’s not surprising that the ancient Celts came to hold trees as sacred. Like many others, the Celts revered the World Tree or the Tree of Life as the mythic bridge between heaven and earth. The roots reach down and ground with the Earth while the branches spread their canopy up to the heavens.

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A Tribute to My Dad, Doyle Lightle


Dad lived his entire life, 90 years, on the farm which my great grandfather, Gottlieb Werth, homesteaded in the middle 1800s.  Gottlieb Werth came to the United States from Switzerland when he was 18.  Even though Dad lived in the same place all his life, he liked road trips.  The first occurred when I was three.  He drove us all the way from Northwest Missouri to Monterey, Mexico.  I still have photos of us wading in the Gulf in Texas before we crossed into Mexico.  Thereafter, we almost never missed at least one road trip a year between wheat harvest and the start of school.  Sometimes instead of a summer trip we took one around Christmas, like the year we went to Florida when I was in elementary school.  I skipped school a couple of weeks, took my work along, and came home ahead because the flu, which I missed, put everything behind.

By the time I was six, I had probably covered half the continental United States and, of course, been to Mexico.  I do not remember some of those first trips but the later ones I remember well, like the summer we spent in Crested Butte, Colorado, when it was still a mining town, and another in Placerville, Colorado, down the road from Telluride.  Then it was just a nowhere place, filled with the Victorian houses of its mining heyday.  Dad joked later that he should have bought one of those houses when it was cheap.

One year, the year between my junior and senior year in high school, we took a one month trip and drove 6,000 miles, from home to the Black Hills, where we had relatives, to Vancouver, to Vancouver Island and then to Victoria.  We visited every national park along the way,  Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, Olympic, then drove up the Columbia and cut back across Rocky Mountain National Park and through Colorado. On an earlier trip we went to every park in Utah and Northern Arizona and Mesa Verde.

Dad’s interest in and curiosity about everything seemed endless.  He tried the latest agricultural methods in his farming, was an avid conservationist, wanted to check everything out on these trips, talked to people about what they were doing.  At home he read National Geographic and Scientific American and endless books.

Because of these trips, his sense of wonder, his propensity for intellectual activity, my friends in college were always shocked to find out he was a farmer.  They often thought, originally, that he was a college professor.

He moved into this house where I grew up when he was ten.  After Mom died, Dad and I were at her grave on Memorial Day when a man came up and starting talking with Dad.  I learned that the building in the foreground of this photo, before it was used for livestock and storage, was used for dancing during the Depression. The sheriff would send out deputies to make sure no illegal alcohol was consumed. I took this photo four years ago when I took a trip back.

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There used to be woods to the right of this photo but someone bought the land and bulldozed down all the huge oak trees.  The tall douglas fir tree in the middle was tiny when we brought it home on one of our trips out West.

I will forever be thankful to Dad for instilling in me a love of exploration, wonder, and curiosity.

 

 

Attitude


Where I teach high school, my grandson attended basketball camp the last three mornings.  While I watched and read, I heard the coach give them a little lecture.  Apparently, some of the campers were dragging along, not even jogging as they moved across the court.  They kept pulling on their shorts, looking down, not listening or paying any attention to the instructions.  Coach got fed up, stopped everything, and pointed out their self defeating behaviors.

Basically, he told them that their actions appeared defeatist.  Act tired, lag behind, ignore instructions, and you set yourself up to lose. Your actions become who you are.  It seems these are also good pointers for all aspects of life.  Ability alone will not lead to accomplishment or even happiness.  Even the most talented musician, athlete, writer attains little without practice and determination.  Being the best a person can be takes work and a positive outlook.

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

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my daughter’s father, standing with family

some we had never seen before, worldwide

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watched a life flash by, slides from baby

to our life long ago, other lives and children

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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 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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A Week of Gratitude


Negatives emerged lately in my life,  the events in the last two posts, two good friends with health issues and a lot of pain.  Nevertheless, yesterday, I started thinking of so many things for which I feel grateful.  Then I said to myself, I am going to work on a week of gratitude, a week where everyday I make a list of things for which I feel grateful.  Out of years of habit, I make a mental gratitude list every night as I drift off to sleep.  This is more formal, a list I write down.

Yesterday’s list includes these:

-pure water from a deep well

-healthy food I cook myself

-children who live good, productive lives

-my own good health

Today’s list includes:

-a job I really enjoy in spite of paper grading tasks

-students who make me laugh and tell me they love me–who knows whether they mean it and honestly it’s ok either way

-outside chores, e.g feeding horses morning and evening.  I cannot imagine life without this even when it is cold and miserable

-singing–after I post this, I will head to my weekly chorale practice.  Currently, we are singing all these touching songs, poems by Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda put to music.

-taxes–crazy, I know.  I recall someone once telling me he was happy to pay taxes because it meant he was making decent money and was not poor.

 

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Random Acts: Don Freeman


Planned another hiking post today but found this and its message seemed too important to ignore.

“We need to stop looking to politicians to make our world better. Politicians don’t make the world a better place. Everything that’s ever made the world a better place has come from inventors, engineers, scientists, teachers, artists, builders, philosophers, healers, and people that choose love over hate.” — Don Freeman

raw-heart-purpleCommit Random Acts of Writing + Art. Image: Philadelphia Muses, mural by Meg Saligman. Philadelphia Muses has remained one of the Mural Arts most iconic projects since its creation in 1999. It is intended to be a contemporary interpretation of the classical muses, which Saligman has created an arts landscape filled with figures and elements symbolizing today’s art and creativity. Within the design Saligman uses portraits of local performing artists and references to works of art by local artists, to honor the many forms of creative expression.

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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

 

Gifts–Isabella and Roses


For the last month DJ Knopick-Barrett, the Production Manager for Amarillo Opera, has stayed with me–her third time to do so.  When she was last here, in early summer, she took hikes with my dog Isabella.  I had no idea she had also photographed her. Isabella died not long before DJ arrived this time.

DJ said her goodbyes this morning and I left for work.  She had a late morning flight.  When I returned home from work today, I was touched nearly to the point of tears.  DJ not only had photographed Isabella, she had enlarged the photo and framed it.

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