Who Needs Excitement When There Is Synchronicity

Sometimes when a task has become familiar through repetition, it is difficult to be excited by it, no matter how much fun or benefit will come from completing the task.  That is where I  was a in the couple days prior to finally prepping and packing to drive on my solo road trip to the mid-west and back.

I made the decision to attend my 40th High School Class Reunion.  In and of itself, this would no longer be enough of a draw to get me to travel the almost 1900 miles to my town of birth from my home of the past 27 years.  But this trip is being made extra worthwhile as I meet my daughter in Chicago for four days of wedding planning fun after the HS reunion in Northern Indiana.

I wanted to make several other quick stops around Arizona and along the route.  Air travel, car rental, and hotel accommodations add up quickly.  This helped me inform my decision to drive there.  I enjoy driving.  I do my best thinking and can focus on planning and creating in a way that I cannot do when I am in my routine at home with cats, dog, turtle and husband and seemingly constant interruption and distraction.  I truly try to live in the moment, but have to make lists and plans even though the moment constantly teaches me that plans always change.

Eternity

He who binds to himself a joy

Does the winged life destroy

He who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in eternity’s sunrise

                                                      – William Blake, 17571827

A beautiful lesson captured by a man born 200 years before me that still speaks as truthfully and as contemporary of a voice as the most erudite of 21st Century scholars and poets.
After spending the morning in a coffee house with good fair trade coffee and good wifi, I decided to grab a sandwich, something I have not been doing on the road.  I did this so I could proceed on to the library of my hometown and write a post or two.
Synchronicity pounces when we listen to others, to our inner voices, whims, and to the wind.
Buddha among plants trees and greeneryAs I walked in, found a table, got the wifi secured, visited the ladies room, and walked through most of the library over the course of these tasks I spotted a familiar face.  It took a moment to realize I really did know her.  My 8th grade teacher.  A woman who was a pivotal nexus of encouraging words who found a way to see and bring forth goodness and potential in so many of her students through the years.  Frances Brown though she had a different name when she was my 8th grade teacher.  Without her encouraging guidance, I do not know where I would have ended up.  I am grateful.  She recited the Blake poem for me after hearing about my Women’s Legacy Project.  
She introduced me to poetry; I wrote my first poem in her class.  She introduced me to the fragility of people and tenacity of culture by allowing me to do a huge project on the Holocaust.
And only this morning a classmate from that very same class told me, via Facebook, that Frances and she both had taught at the same school, the Woodstock School, in India.  I almost did not come to the library.  I could have easily missed her.  She never comes to the library at this time of day, though she visits many times, a week visitor.   We talked for an hour, like the best of friends,  joyous and in the moment.  She is 89.  I am 58.  Our spirits are the same age.  I am so moved, honored and thankful.
So I will continue to plan out my route casually to include some non-Interstate highways and byways so as to continue to catch wonders like those I have already visited: canyons with petroglyphs, labyrinths, archives, military cemeteries, platform mounds of Mississippian Culture.  I still have my class reunion, wedding dress shopping with my daughter, and runzas… and friends to visit.   Lots of friends.
What a wonderful gift this trip has been thus far.

 

 

 

Monday Musings

“Closed Mondays”

is the phrase on my favorite T-shirt that I haven’t seen for ages.  It is probably in a box somewhere. I cannot imagine donating my favorite shirt to Casa de los Niños. I have a bit of a challenge letting go. But as I move through life I change, I will not say evolve, as individuals do not evolve, only societies and cultures evolve, and I am more and more able to weed out keepsakes and keep fewer reminders of what has come before.  And sometimes we get smarter and more wise as we move along our life’s timeline.  Sometimes not.

I have managed to maintain a friendship with someone who irritates the hell out of me largely because there are bits of my past that I now connect with in the here and now only through him.  My best friend from early high school years died when she was 21.  Memories of those years, especially freshman year, are evoked through interaction with him.  He stirs the pot so to speak.  I remember her infectious laugh.  That is worth untold stacks of gold.

I have already lost so much of my life.  Having been isolated as a child, for me, means that only my brother Roger and Mom had any chance of remembering the same events in routine daily life that remember.  With them both gone, I have lost my social anchors to those times.  I have learned to value connection from a perspective of wisdom.  Wisdom is is only acquired through loss and pain it seems.

So people who might seem to be unlikely friends are treasures.  And sometimes they come through in the here and now too.  One such friend, as I said, suggested I stop in Tulsa today to visit the Gilcrease Museum.   Unfortunately the Gilcrease is CLOSED MONDAYS.  Sigh.

So the only art I will see today, other than green trees and grass, and the occasional stand out house of a different color with personal touches that thumb their noses at the pretty box phenomena, is the lovely view from my hotel to which I awoke.

 

Anyway, I first discovered Malvina Reynolds’ song “Pretty Boxes” through a Holly Near cover.  Perhaps it was with Ronnie Gilbert?  I can’t say for sure as I lost the connection to that part of my life, too.

So I leave you with wonderful word and music art from times gone by as I head out on what I guess is day four of this road trip, though I am only in the third 24 hour cycle.

Trip Log thus far:

Friday 3 p.m. to 8 pm.  On the road to Holbrook.

Saturday Holbrook to Rock Art Ranch then on to Moriarty, New Mexico.  I still have to review the Mexican restaurant down the street from the Best Western where I stopped for the night.

Sunday was driving, driving, driving (sung to the tune of “rolling, rolling, rolling” from the song “Rawhide.””) I stopped in Amarillo at a Barnes and Noble, conveniently located across the street from a gas station, where I purchased an audio book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which got me all the way to Oklahoma City.

Today, Monday I am starting the day out just past Oklahoma City.  I have to download an audiobook to listen to on the road today.

Petroglyphs from Rock Art Ranch

Yesterday was the most amazing day I have had in a long long time.

Woke up in Holbrook, Arizona and drove about 15 miles west south west to Rock Art Ranch.  I have tons of photos, but let me share a couple of the highlights of the canyon with you.

kokopelli flute player petroglyph

Flute player in the canyon

Here you can clearly see the figure usually called Kokopelli, or the Flute Player, and a big horned sheep.  Poor Kokopelli.  He has been co-opted and his image diminished from the majesty and magic he commands here and obviously commanded to the first peoples of this area.

Another absolutely astonishing image I encountered might at first appearance seem simple.  The ranch owner told us that the simple line and arrow drawings, such as the one below, are believed by some east coast researchers to be over 9000 years old.  I suspect he is getting good information from these researchers as two others he mentioned from the Arizona State Museum are researchers with whom I worked.

Arrow petroglyph thought to be be over 9000 years old.

Arrow petroglyph thought to be be over 9000 years old.

The petroglyph that moved me more than I can say is called “The Birthing Woman” and you will have to wait to see it as I want to write about it on The Women’s Legacy Project site, which I do not have time to do now, as I need to get on the Road and head toward Oklahoma.  I am going to knock off earlier today so I have time to write about the sites and thoughts I have been fortunate enough to experience during the day and a half I have been on the road thus far.

 

Summer Above, Winter Below, and Confusion All Around

“It is the June Solstice wherever you go today,” I wrote last week.  In the Northern Hemisphere we observe the Summer Solstice and in the Southern Hemisphere the Winter Solstice is observed.  Like everything humans do, there is some disagreement about what this means, except that old Sol aligns with the Tropic of Cancer.

I live in Tucson, Arizona, so for me that means that June is the height of the dry Summer.   Summer Solstice is definitely the middle of summer in my book. The monsoons usually start in July during which time the humidity spikes while temperatures remain quite high.

tucson weather

This has been an unusual year, weather-wise.  Spring often is only evident here by the blooms of plants.  Here is southern Arizona we say that, “The ice breaks on the Santa Cruz River” the first day it reaches 100 degrees F.  It usually happens in April, but this year it was mid-May before we hit a hundred;  it was on May 17th, my birthday,  June 17, our wedding anniversary, often records temperatures well over 110 degrees.  I do not remember what the temperature was last week on the 17th.  That information was lost, completely overwritten, with the slaughter of nine good people at Bible study at Mother Emanuel in Charleston, SC by a hateful, domestic terrorist.

I often wish others, “Happy Solstice.”  The main reason I am pleased when Mid-Summer arrives is that the monsoons will soon arrive.

Arizona, rain, distance, monsoon, landscape,

But this year there is a pall over the anniversaries and celestial celebrations that has finally broken through my resolve to exclude sadness from this time of year.   I am tired of being parched.  It is so dry around here that things can mummify. That can put one in a foul mood.  In these days of air conditioners, central air, evaporative cooling, and electric fans it is rather hard to explain why I am living in a hot-house.  It is not for the plants.  My husband and I are trying to stay on budget and pay off all debt.  Obviously to do this we cannot accumulate more debt.  So we are limping along with a 20-year-old A/C unit that needs to be replaced.  There are parts of our home that will not get below 80 degrees.  That makes me a bit irritable too. We will pay cash for a new unit when a tax return is generated for us; did I tell you that some thief filed our taxes for us this year?

With the already evident climatic fluctuations caused by the increase in overall global temperatures, what the future holds for us here is not promising.

Then there is this year’s unsuccessful attempt to push back the memories that come forward every year near the anniversary of my mother’s death.  June 25th.

I was to have a Grand Opening for the Women’s Legacy Project on June 25th.  But I just could not finish the last bits and pieces of the remaining tasks.  Thoughts about religion and racist beliefs  have been on my mind constantly these past 10 days and that is not conducive to the concentration needed for a few more launch tasks.  Looks like September is the next window for an opening.

Where does protected public expression of your beliefs end and imposition of your beliefs on others begin?  It starts way before the killing of 9 good people.  I do not say any pledges to flags.  I do not support any organized religion.  Personal faith is another matter and should be kept personal. But everyone believe they are right.  In this area I just do not know, but I do know that freedoms granted by the constitution allow me to do business in public and have my private beliefs.

Abraham Isaac Human sacrifice interupted.I will not actively or passively support the public imposition of a religion that was conceptualized at the same time that human sacrifice was practiced.  Abraham was going to ritually slaughter his son.  Perverse.  I am just as suspicious of beliefs related to these practices as I am of any system that has incorporated ritual sacrifice of living creatures.  I am extremely uncomfortable with patriarchal, segmentary lineage beliefs and practices that trace to North Africa 5,000 years ago.

Faith is a decision, said Mother Teresa.

Mysticism is “belief that union with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or the spiritual apprehension of knowledge inaccessible to the intellect, may be attained through contemplation and self-surrender.”

I have had mystical experiences and from those I have decided to have faith.  But I do not want to impose my beliefs on others.  That is one of the reasons I like written words so much.  We can choose not to read.  But please do not expect me to quietly support your ritual practices in my presence unless I have willingly and overtly made a decision to participate in them.  Flag flying, a behavior, can be a very dangerous thing.  One thing can stand for another.  One thing can represent another.  One thing often points to other things.

Love and grace are real to me.  Everything else is questionable.  Even summer and winter depends on where you are standing.  I stand firm in my understanding that everything is relative.

Pink Flamingos R Us

Donald Featherstone touched lives, created a cultural icon, and made people smile.  That sounds like a pretty good life and legacy to me.

I have to utter thanks one more time as he is laid to rest; he passed away a couple days ago.    Pink flamingos are iconic in and of themselves. But the plastic ones are more so. He invented these.

Created at the height of the post-WWII baby boom, in 1957, the same year I was born and the same year that Sputnik launched, the pink plastic lawn ornament captures the essence of an era it helped to create.  Or at least it captures one essential view of the era.

Flamingo_1To me the prototypic 1950s image conjured up by the word retro is an image of a platinum blonde woman wearing pointy frame glasses, a wasp-waist full-skirted dress, emerging onto steps from an Airstream travel trailer onto a perfectly manicured lawn decorated with pink flamingo lawn ornaments.

Such pink flamingo lawn decorations served as trail markers for the path at the top of Mount Lemmon to Lemmon Meadow where my husband and I exchanged wedding vows in June of 1989.  I wore a flamingo pink dress.  We loved retro kitch!  The bathroom in our first home was “the flamingo room” that iterated the theme in the shower curtain, the toilet plunger, towels, framed pictures, and just about every bath-related product that friends could find and buy for us from a Five and Dime or touristy gas station souvenir shelves with a flamingo image.

We have always had a few flamingos displayed in our home.  There is a gorgeous, well-framed professional photograph of a flamingo that was a wedding gift.  An Audubon print of a flamingo is in my hubby’s study.

We took a pink flamingo with us to Niagara Falls to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary.
Nancy.Robin.Flamingo.Aug2014

 

Is it accidental that Donald Featherstone had a bit of surname determinism playing out in his life?  I suspect not.

Yes, this ad leads to an Amazon listing where you may purchase a Featherstone Flamingo.