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Posts Tagged ‘musings’

Devil Town

Picasa is not working for me right now and not loading my pictures for my Mabon post.

That’s okay.

Because I have a back up topic. I tried to write on it yesterday but I couldn’t make the words fit.

So, I love the TV show Friday Night Lights. It’s really a beautiful show, full of great writing and acting. The most striking thing about that show though is how they evoke such a true sense of place. I’m from small town Texas, and it’s so accurate that it’s creepy. I can name the analogous person from my high school/town to each character on the show. I know those situations, those people.

On the first season of the show they use a song called Devil Town, and when I heard it I got goosebumps.  More than FNL that single song summarizes my high school experience.

What happened in high school, the sum of so much….craziness…plays a huge part in who I am today emotionally and spiritually. It set me on the trajectory to be married to the man I’m married to, to be in this place in life, basically, to be who I am today.

I hate to say that about high school, but it’s true. In high school I learned about the naiveté of first love, how darkness can consume people, the mysteries of sex and power, pain and purity, the glamor of self-medication in so many different forms, the amazing abilities of people to change…and to stay the same.

I was in high school when I first decided to not eat. I was in high school when I first decided to cut. I was in high school when I decided to stop going to church, to become LIBERAL and VEGETARIAN!!!!, when I fell in love for the first time and had my heart broken. When I broke others’ hearts carelessly and cruelly.

All of this, of course, is my story. But so much of the place I’m from—small town Texas, with all of it’s religion, conservative values, football, wariness, warmth and general fucked-upness–exacerbated the problems. Fed it with enthusiasm.

Stay here. Feed the cycle.

The association between place and who we become has been on my mind for awhile. It has always interested me how people react to their hometowns. Many of my high school friends went away to college and went back. Some moved to other parts of Texas, like myself, and still go back regularly. I only know of a select few who moved far, far away never to look back.

All of it is a reaction to the place we’re from. *Town is the epitome of a devil town. My only friend from *Town that I still have…we agree that there is something especially subversive and sick about the town we’re from. As much as it epitomized small-town Texas it was also more of everything, especially more fucked up.

Agh! This post is ending up like last night’s, where I just pontificate on an on without getting to my point.

I guess the point is that I haven’t come to a conclusion about coming from *Town. Though I feel that place affects all of us it seems that most of the people from *Town seem to be more influenced by it than any other place I’ve met people from. No one seems to be able to quiet let go about what happened, especially when I was in high school. There were so many deaths, so many pregnancies, so much drug use, sex, depression, deception, partying, so many enmeshed and enabling relationships that braided a rope that almost hung as all.

I think the turning point in my life was when I realized that I was a part of it. That I had a choice and I was choosing to hurt, deceive and manipulate. I was choosing to hate and harm myself.

Realizing that was when things began to change in my life. And after realizing that, I had to leave. Lucky college was only a few months away.

I leave you with the lyrics:

I was living in a devil town
Didn’t know it was a devil town
Oh Lord, it really brings me down
About the devil town
And all my friends were vampires
Didn’t know they were vampires
Turns out I was a vampire myself
In the devil town
I was living in a devil town
Didn’t know it was a devil town
Oh Lord, it really brings me down
About the devil town

[I know this is a go-nowhere post. But now if I add to the subject in the future there is at least a cornerstone piece to refer back to.]

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Last night Claire went down for a nap and Jonathan and I took a few minutes to clean up. At the time I was annoyed and irritated (just those vague feelings that usually accompany a lack of sleep or something you’re neglecting in your life). As I mopped I thought about what was irritating me.

I realized that before Claire, as I mopped I would think about cleaning out negative energies and thoughts, “throwing away” bad behaviors and making my home a more hospitable place. I thought about those things with ANY chore, because I hate chores and it made them feel more tolerable. Over time I actually began liking to do housework.

Last night, I mopped with a singular intention: finish before she wakes up. Midway through I realized that I wasn’t doing a good job, I was just becoming more upset and…well, if I’m just going to end angrier than I began, what’s the point?

So, I slowed down. I began to “mop up” those thoughts. When I finished I felt good. I felt like a small piece of myself had been restored.

If that’s all the spiritual work I have time for these days, then that’s fine. I have to accept that.

In other news, I’m excited for Mabon. I didn’t have the energy to give Lughnasadh more than a passing thought, but with corn and pumpkins growing in the back and I’m sowing beets, carrots, lettuces, parsnips and turnips today…Yes, harvests are in full swing and autumn is coming.

More thoughts on motherhood and spiritual walks later—I’ve been thinking a lot about pursuing a divergent (from my family) spiritual path and what that means for Claire. Lots of conflicting thoughts. Any comments or advice to consider would be greatly appreciated!

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Happy Summer Solstice/Midsummer/Litha, everyone!

I intended to wake up this morning to watch the sun rise. Instead, I woke instead at 7:38, precisely 10 minutes after the official solstice time in my time zone.

Alas. Such is the value of sleep to a 8-month pregnant woman.

So today I have been taking photos during my errands of things that seem ‘solstice-y’ to me and making notes in “that journal”–the one that’s not my main one, but I don’t know what to call it yet.

Hope you enjoy.

Solstice Breakfast: biscuits and honey, watermelon and blueberries, eaten while observing the early-morning garden

Some lily in our yard. I love the vibrant orange color.

Solstice tomato: our tomato plants are doing well and beginning to blush in earnest.

Cucumber blossom. I mainly took this picture for the lovely spiral...creeper thing.

Sunflowers at the Natural Gardener

Another sunflower at the Natural Gardener

I added lemon verbena into my iced tea this afternoon. It smells like the sun.

Getting ready for our own harvest ;): cloth diapers and accoutrements.

Musings:

It’s been interesting to pregnant along with the Wheel of the Year. I’ve seen a lot of images of heavily pregnant women for Litha and it’s…well, it’s encouraging. Being heavily pregnant has been difficult. It’s easier to focus on the pain-in-the-ass parts of pregnancy (which are many and hard to ignore) instead of enjoying the body’s capabilities.

As I look out at my garden I’m reminded that this is a time when ‘Nature’ is doing an extraordinary amount of work as well. The resources even a small garden like mine takes (and the garden only provides 50%, maybe, of our spring-summer produce) are astounding. The soil, the fertilizer, the water, the time, the materials—and we’re not even doing it well. We’re bumping along in our first season.

Today has reminded me to be grateful for the work the (literal) earth does for me, for my family. It reminds me to be grateful for my body, which through its stretch marks and contractions, pains and indignities, is preparing for an amazing event.

Driving around to all of my various errands I also thought about what summer meant to me as a kid. How days spread out, endless in possibility, hot and boring, and to quote an Iron & Wine song summer held “our endless numbered days”. School would start back…eventually…but there was a liminal quality to summer, a caught-in-between-ness. My summers were filled with sno-cones in unnatural colors (split pina colada and margarita, flat top, double cream), the beach, books (books, books, books), trips to the library, sleeping in and the Beach Boys.

Now that the demarcation of school has passed, summer, especially July and August and September, is more of an annoyance. The time of year when the you can never get cool, when energy bills rise to extreme levels, ice tea is consumed by the gallon, your car is a hellacious oven of doom.

But today…the beginning of summer…also marks, ironically, the beginning of its end. The days grow shorter now as we edge towards Lughnasadh, and then Mabon and then Samhain. In Central Texas Lughnasadh is the last of our harvest, when we set our gardens and fields to rest throughout the relentless eat of August and the beginning of September. On the holiday of Mabon we’ll start again, planting cool-season crops to bring us through the winter months.

So really…it’s not that far away. Time won’t stop. The garden will die–in only a few weeks. The baby will come—only a few weeks after that. Then it will be time to start anew.

Enjoy your longest day everyone! Thanks for sticking with this wandering post 🙂

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Black Cherry Tomato

That is the picture of my very first tomato. I picked it about two weeks ago and my husband and I split it at dinner. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a more delicious tomato, but perhaps I’m prejudiced. In fact, I know I am.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about daily spiritual practice. In Christianity, at least in the church I went to, prayer, meditation, fasting and Bible reading daily (well not fasting daily, but regularly) were (are) strongly emphasized. I suspect it’s the same in most denominations, especially those with more conservative leanings.

As I’ve transitioned out of that church/Christianity I’ve wondered what life looks like being in another set of beliefs (or having no firm set of beliefs).  Do people cast circles everyday? Do they meditate? Yoga? Pray? Is there fasting? Maybe they read books on their god/desses, research their pantheon…I don’t know.

And then, like two magnets pulling on each other, the confused burble of Christianity/pagan/whatever belief practices began to run through my mind. I have no other way of explaining it, except as I showered a few minutes ago my mind erupted into thought.

(In full disclaimer, most of it catalyzed by the fact that tomorrow is my evening to share at our church home group. What in the hell am I going to talk about? I wondered as I stared off at the tile, counting the small holes in the grout.  The Great Rite in high/ceremonial Wicca traditions?)

So as I stood there both streams of thought that had been alternating throughout the week merged into a rapid confluence, chaotic as a mountain stream in spring.

And then, for some reason, all of this reminded me of our garden. I thought of the big Purple Cherokee tomato that is ripening on the vine, and the Black Cherry I had picked, and how J had hung CD discs in the yard yesterday to discourage the birds that were discouraging me, and how I needed to fertilize but wow…the basil might have died but weren’t the lemon verbena and the pineapple sage just beautiful?

Then this word came to me, clear as a bell:

Tending.

And I promptly soaped up, rinsed and toweled off, and came to write, the word tending, tending, to tend, tending ringing in my ears.

So here I am.

Tending.

I’m looking out at my garden right now, through the sliding glass doors, and I can see that it needs watering. We had rain last week but the temperatures have been so hot, and the sun so relentless, that the earthen plots look like they’re fresh from the oven. Nothing has begun to droop yet, except the borage, which is the garden version of a canary in the coal mine. Once the borage droops, I water.

I can honestly say that this garden might be the most consistent thing I’ve tended in my life. For sure the most (visibly) successful. The garden started with a flurry of activity: we bought hay, compost, had dirt delivered, shoveled, planted, dug, watered, fertilized and mostly watched with bated breath for the first signs of growth, the first flowers (gasp!) and then—the first fruit (gasp! gasp!).  However, since the plants have been planted tending slows down—a lot. I water every couple of days. I curse the tomato cages at least twice a week. Jonathan hung the CDs. I fertilize occasionally.

The garden has been established; now, we tend. We harvest the fruits. And, in distant parts of my mind I have begun to gather lessons learned and anticipate fall planting in the waning days of August.

(Central Texas has two planting seasons, one for hot crops and one for cool crops. In late August we will begin preparing for the cool season.)

Much has been made about the connection between spirituality and gardening, so I’m tilling (excuse the pun) no new ground here. But the concept of the act of tending and how it relates to all spiritual practice rings so true to me.

Spiritual practice, or craft, whatever it may be, is the act of tending something already there–and I don’t think that necessarily means a certain religion. More, it’s an act of tending the soul, or the spirit, or whatever makes you human and makes you feel alive.

For me, tending comes in the form of gardening, yes, and my daily walk, and reading good books, whether they be fiction, non-fiction or poetry. Sometimes it does come from reading the Bible, especially Jesus and the Psalms.  Yoga and meditation. Sweeping and dusting. Baking. Driving a long distance with really good music.

There are other kinds of tending too, and I would be remiss to leave them out of this musing. I think they grow out of tending our own self. I tend my relationship with Jonathan, in various ways. We read out loud together,  we enjoy good food (and wine, back in the day) together, I make him biscuits and gravy on Sunday mornings. We air out our dirty laundry to each other on a regular basis, without judgment. Most importantly, for two introverts in a relationship, we give each other space and understand the need for it.

When this image came to me, or concept, that there was no set, specified way for me to tend—and indeed, what good gardener doesn’t have to improvise sometimes?—the mountain rush slowed down to something more peaceful. I felt I could sit next to the proverbial stream and stare into its depths instead of running for high ground.

(Truly, I hope this post makes sense. I wrote it fast, but I don’t feel like I should reorganize or edit to thoroughly yet—it’s probably a first draft to something longer, later.)

(And a p.s.: I think if I write the word spirituality one more time I might have a fit. There has to be another word, right? All of these posts feel so redundant..)

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Ah, the house is quiet.  A weekend of visitors and comings and goings and finally there is peace. I took a short nap, ate some leftover cake and I’m now contemplating a trip to my local used book store for some inspirational reading.

A few months ago I mentioned several books I had bought and several paths I intended to read. I finished Drawing Down the Moon and most of the introductory exercises in Paganism: An Introduction to Earth Centered Religions by the Higginbothams. I enjoyed both.

However, concerted spiritual practice slipped away from me in the months of March and April. I don’t know why—it was one of those life things, I suppose, just happens. It doesn’t mean that I wasn’t aware of…things? what label is really appropriate?….but just that I didn’t act on them.

This week, however, something changed. You know what it was? The seasons. When the seasons shift I can feel it in my very marrow, and it snaps my attention back to where it should be. Like nature, or some entity, or some awareness, is shaking me.

And finally I pay attention.

This week summer arrived in Central Texas. My first awareness: on Thursday, Friday and Saturday the air became so hot, so heavy, so pregnant (hah!), if you will, that it just had to rain. So for half an hour each afternoon sheets and sheets of rain poured down. Thunder clapped in the distance. Afterwards the sun came out, and the early evening air became perfumed with the smells of rain, grass and dirt. On my evening walk it it seemed like I could smell every flower, every petal. The combination of twilight and mist made my walk like a journey through a watercolor.

Second awareness: yesterday I ate watermelon and grilled corn. I picked my first red tomato earlier this week. I have jalapenos dangling off their stalk. A tiny bell pepper is nestled among other bell pepper buds. My tomato vines are so heavy with fruit that they keep toppling their cages. Eggplants hang off their bush like little purple Christmas ornaments.  I even have a baby cantaloupe I couldn’t be more proud of.

Third awareness: It. Is. Hot. The past few days it has been hot and muggy, but today the air has changed. Central Texas is moving from early summer (late April through early June) into summer-summer. Hot, dry, still. No breeze, no movement. Life becomes somewhat paralyzed under the sun.

So, again, I am shaken, and I am grateful for it. I view it as a continuation, another chance and a (not so) gentle reminder that life cycles. Life continues. And when my eyes are on my naval and my gaze is too concerned with the petty to pay attention and engage in the important (small or large) I miss out.

It seems like this is a common cycle in my life. Any reader can see this in my blog: the flurry of activity and posting and then the silence for a few weeks or months. I can’t explain it. I’m not sure I should explain it: none of what I read, or learn, or do in the flurry of activity is ever lost. I am a composter by nature, meaning, I gather lots of material in a short time and then I sit. Occasionally I stir it. But mostly I just sit and…compost.

So far, I don’t have much humus. I’m still raw ingredients, greens and browns, apple cores and egg shells. Hopefully though…hopefully one day I’ll be humus à la moi.

And…that’s all I have for now. Is it summer where you are? What does that mean for you?

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Lavander, provence (Lavandula intermedia 'Provence'). Just bloomed two days ago.

Today I am in the midst of a cleaning frenzy, pregnant style. Meaning that where frenzy would have been an apt description before the third trimester, right now it’s more like a cleaning…putter. But the same amount of work still has to be done.

Truthfully, it’s the kind of cleaning I like the least. It’s pressure cleaning, when people who you want to impress are coming to your house. Not cleaning for pleasure (it’s possible!) or cleaning for cleansing purposes. At least, I thought it wasn’t.

But as soon as I started sweeping I felt a change. I could see the dust and cat hair gathering and the house just began to feel…cleaner. More pure. I wiped up grime in the guest bathroom and guest bedroom and felt a certain joy that my guests (my parents and in-laws in this case) would have a clean, fresh place to sleep and dream.

These moments of clarity were definitely interspersed with hot flashes, sweating and a stiff lower back. I can’t squat very well, or kneel, or rise. It’s one of the most obvious but also the most difficult to accept aspects of pregnancy: for all of its work to create new life, pregnancy takes from the mother, most notably independence. Independence in the way that we are never alone, always toting a little baby with us, but also that as we grow bigger we grow less able. More dependent.

Truthfully, I haven’t accepted that yet. I still do too much and don’t ask for help. My husband gets on to me, especially during the night when I try to roll over by myself and end up giving myself charlie horses. It seems so simple—roll over in bed! But yet I need him to give me a push. Or get out of bed—I need him to help me out some mornings too. It’s almost embarrassing.

Even more than asking my husband for help, I haven’t begun admitting to myself that I need to help…myself. Take it easier. Enjoy pregnancy more. Not be so frantic, not give in to mental confusion and mental dust.

So that brings us to today. Sweeping, mopping, bending, kneeling, rising, dusting. Cleaning and cleansing, both the house and the mind. Making room for new energy, new thoughts and ideas and dreams. Putting the confusion and stress in its proper place, and welcoming instead peace and joy.

Easier said than done, just like cleaning the house.

The garden, May 2010. We've harvested squash and cucumbers and one tomato! More squash, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers and melons are on their way. We'll plant corn this weekend....hopefully....

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Monday night is our home-church group night. Last night was our family’s time to share (all the couples involved rotate through the weeks). We can share whatever we like, as long as it is somewhat Christian spiritual centered. Some people lead prophetic prayer, some do Bible studies, whatever. I went last night, and I read from John Donne’s Divine Meditations and compared it to the storybook The Runaway Bunny.

I can relate to John Donne’s poetry, especially the Divine Meditations. The  man has some serious God/Salvation anxiety issues.  His imagery is forceful and his anxiety over sinning, satan and salvation is palpable. I love it. Angsty.  It’s how I (sometimes) feel. Take Divine Meditation I:

“Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste,
I run to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday,
I dare not move my dim eyes any way,
Despair behind, and death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it towards hell doth weigh;
Only thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one hour I can myself sustain;
Thy Grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And though like adamant draw mine iron heart.”

On the other hand, The Runaway Bunny is  simple child’s story about a baby bunny who is trying to run away from his mother, but his mother chases him until he gives up. He realizes that no matter where, his mother will follow him.

Two very different views of God, spirituality, love, forgiveness and redemption. One commentator I read said that they thought The Runaway Bunny was like the parable of the prodigal son in the New Testament, but I don’t think so. The Prodigal Son requires that the son comes back and repents. The Runaway Bunny instead tells us that the mother—god, divinity, whatever—will pursue us. Very different.

In high school I read (and was in) the play W;t by Margaret Edson. The play has stuck with me, and inspired the juxtoposition of John Donne and The Runaway Bunny. In W;t an English professor specializing in John Donne’s Divine Meditations is dying of ovarian cancer, and though she doesn’t want to admit it, or can’t see it, she is just as anxious about her life and her coming afterlife.  She muses over her past, how harsh she seemed as a teacher and person. She begins to recite the poetry of Donne with a new understanding. Only sick and dying does she truly comprehend him. At the end, when she really is dying, her mentor comes to her and reads her The Runaway Bunny. “A nice allegory for the soul,” the mentor says as she closes the book.

Indeed. As much as I like Donne’s poetry—the angsty, demanding, raging minor cords—one day I hope that my spirituality and life will resolve into the soft, major chords of The Runaway Bunny.

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