Visitor and Wildness

We finish the main tasks of readying for the wedding celebration. Last minute changes, a group arrive in time later for an array of pizzas, one nephew celebrates a bit early and passes out in bed early in the evening and a infant is bathed in the carrier in the sink and holds tightly and sucks on Jim’s finger and he lifts and explores his foot up to his face and smiles and oozes with pleasure when the warm water in poured on his body.

Jim’s daughter who is our chef and prime organizers par excellent, and son-in-law care for so many things as the house is cleaned and our host and hostess friends at their house hang lights, bring chairs and tables picked up and assembled, I go and find more flowers and bits of things we need, and come back and plant more marigolds in the garden and cosmos. Jim’s son-in-law gathered all the leaves out front and made a path for us to walk down , and the hostess for my shower, and dear pal bought large and small pumpkins to intermingle with the flowers. Three of three of us carved some smaller ones to put flowers in as vases, and Jim’s sister brings tablecloths, runners to add to the ones we have that are perfect for the tables, My friend will sing, the man next store promises not to play rock and roll during the ceremony and I have asked again the chickens if they could be quiet but I hope we see the hawks over us in their circles.

In the evening Jim’s son and partner arrive from Ecuador via New Mexico conference they are attending and his granddaughter with them as part of the tribe, another friend from Ecuador and his family visit for a bit as he leaves for birthday in the morning and wonderful to have their warm and lovely energy.

The evening in completed with a trip to the pub with the fellas and one grand niece proud to be one of the fellas for a drink, and fun with Jim and his brother who has worked so hard for this event are all together and merry in their bachelor’s night out. The blessing is with beer and good laughs. Some will wake up with hangovers and others just groggy but importantly they shared those moments with a favorite uncle, brother, friend, relative.

As I look out the window I see quail and I think of my friend Alie who died several years ago and this pin I gave her of a quail feather. Alie wore hats and the bird reminded me of her and this morning out of the whole group one sits and nestles on the fence and calmly looks at me for a long while and I feel it as an Alie visit with that dark and bright face staring back at me. Alie is many birds of a feather and always part of this community in our words and in the things we find she has given us over the years. But she enjoys best the celebration and colors and ritual of preparation. We are all gathered.Screen Shot 2018-10-13 at 7.54.03 AM


October Rain

This morning the landscape is dusted off and the sky smells moist after our first rain in months. The quail are out and about the the large banded pigeons are pecking at the sunflower seeds. Today Jim’s daughter and son-in-law arrive from Florida and move away from the hurricane towards a calmer line of days ahead and help us with the wedding.

Last night we met and talked to my friend about a song we chose for the wedding and other ideas for music at the celebration. During this time she shares stories about her growing up and about her father who was a jazz pianist. Their eventual move west brought them to an empty house with a baby grand piano and beds up stairs. The piano burned with the house this last year in one of the northern California fires.

As a child she is sitting by that piano with a secret playhouse under it while she listens to his rifts and songs. In her life the music remained as her vocation and she has become an accomplished musician, and teacher, and will play at our wedding. Her particular interest brought her to folk and classical music.

We chose an Ane Brun song, “The Opening.”. My friends voice has that penetrating quality that is resonate with this song and depth of feeling.

I think it offers a respite at this time and this morning I see the animals appear in the trees, the rain drip off the leaves and the clear air feels wonderful around me.


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Smoke Out and Showered Upon

The morning is busy with preparation for the wedding with more to do in the yard, and to organize, consider. It is also my wedding shower with a circle of amazing women I have known through many transitions in our lives and for many it has been a while since we have all been in the same room together. My sweet friend, neighbor, and I drive off in the direction of the shower and need to return to pick up some art supplies left at the house. The ride gives us even more time to share about our lives.

The second time we embark on our journey across town we stop part way to buy some treats for the event. As we drive into the parking lot the weather, sky has completely changed and there is a strong wind with large yellow leaves flying around, and the sky is gray with smoke and the air it thick and choking. The fire is far away but the wind has smacked the smoke into the center of Santa Cruz.  At the market people are concerned about the fire.

When we arrive at the shower people are standing out in the lovely garden and women are touching in with each other and touring the house and garden. There are an abundance of snacks on the table along with home made cookies from our hostess. The day fills with words, poems, a song written for me that moves me to tears. Tender feminine gifts are handed to me and each person is to take a page they decorate to give to our hostess so she can bind a book for me. I feel like I have a the string of pearls around my neck with these women close to me, and all their lives shaped by change and work in their lives and their influence on my own.

The fire is eminent in our minds and for one woman is brings up how she lost her family land and home north of  Santa Cruz this year. She presently lives on land up on the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains ,and there are others that live in the redwoods so it brings up the potential of destruction in their valley as we have witnessed already north and south of us. We all flutter around our phones for a bit because we understand and feel the sadness for what has been lost already in this fire even if it is not in our locale. The smoke is surrounding the day ahead as we jump into the joy of this celebration.

In the circle one woman uses water to bless me touching my face and hair then offers the glass to the circle. Each finds a unique way to give to my life in word or deed as the glass moves around until I finally hold it feeling all their touch and gestures within this cup, and feel the cool rush as it moves down through the inside of my body as I place some down my shirt and on my face. I have a chance to honor them back each in turn and moments that stand out in my mind.

There are many ways I see and experience these friends so these moments are tiny snippets of them. I  speak to each one in turn. I recall how one friend sang to, and held our dear pal that died several years ago of cancer, how another made beauty with her children all along the Seabright Beach beach, while dancing, making, singing as a young homeschooling family when I was a teacher in that program, and comment about their bond today, another her honing of words into books, poems and collages and workshops encouraging others to write their story, a amazing dancer and movement teacher offering hundreds of women the opportunity to make their movement their own fluid expression, and her healing practice that has been a balm in my life, an accomplished herbalist and acupuncturist, and sister friend raising her son with dignity and strength on his behalf, a former neighbor that started with a small dirt lot where homeless could come, garden and heal who is now finally building with their organization a site of their own after years of fund raising and politics, a mom and psychotherapist that has more then this particular time time today gathered people in her home to share their practice and lives, and the woman that instigated this event whose house I lived in with my wild dog some of the times I would visit the area when I was still living in New Mexico. She is a community hearted person to the core. Most of all  this day is witnessing their deep and abiding friendship, love, and the luck I have knowing them and they me, profoundly over the years. It is a women’s circle and I feel so glad to have this day and absorb their love. So on this smokey day here we are  with water as our medium and heartfelt words as our commerce of exchange.

The sky is that strange and a powerful orange from the smoke. Oddly tonight there is a fireworks display after an event over the rise that causes the coyotes to cry loudly off and on as they move through the burning air this night. Eventually it is quiet and the owls stretch their sound across the ravine and move closer to our big gum tree of red, orange, yellow, and amber. My soon to be husband has baked us some potatoes with herbs cut into tiny bowls and cooked some roasted carrots and cauliflower as I share the day and he listens.

It was a hard week for many women with the insane placement of a man that should not be on the supreme court or in office and not a day women feel happy about because of this decision. Today the circle reminds us all of what we are, what we love, and care about and that we can feel our solidarity together, and know we will continue to offer and do what we do in our lives regardless of this decision. it is a day I will remember with their loving faces and eyes and words in my life forever.

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Knowing help is out there is a reassuring thing. My friends call this afternoon about a young seal that is in distress and ask me who to call. I call the Monterey Marine Sanctuary because of the help they gave us when we found a seal on the shore that was floundering in the water. At the time we stood by the seal until help arrived and the little seal would slide up a tiny bit closer and lay its head by my legs and my partner would cast a shadow as the seal shut its eyes and remain moist.

It is often hard to keep people away, and their curious dogs when an animal or bird is down at the beach but on that day I begin to run towards the owners before they reach the seal and to ask them to leash their dog . I tell them about the seal and everyone is kind and handle their dogs. But today the seal in distress has a wound and it is further up the coast and all I can do is call the sanctuary. My friends have left the area but they have given me simple directions and I am able to contact the outreach people at the sanctuary and they thank me for the call. I thank them for their help, it is reassuring.

My brother calls me and tells me how he is feeling not well. He is still hurting from a fall he had a couple of weeks ago and he is barely walking again if at all. I am concerned about other options for him, and call organizations and outpatient programs to find out what it out there and write his doctor. Last week I jammed one of his doctor’s online email accounts with a video I sent her of my brother followed by six consecutive emails. I sent that many emails because it is hard to have a conversation just relegated to emails and text, and also because the input about what is going on comes in pieces. I end up having to add one more detail from one more person or talk to one more contact that might be an option for further help and include that in the information I have sent her.

Text has its limits and I am grateful I can talk to my brother at least. It is also reassuring when I get a two line response from the doctor and a return call from his other family doctor. Help is near is something sorely missing in a time of crisis but many groups and individuals step in to reassure us we are not alone, help is on the way.

Today is The Day of the Bird count for Cornell Ornithology Lab and it is easy to sign up for eBird and just watch throughout the day and let them know what you see. I do that everyday on the other program Merlin but today I do that in a conscious way all over the county and feed that into a larger count at the height of migration. It is reassuring to them the public is watching with them and helping protect and care for birds.

Reassurance binds us into a network of possibility and connection. All along the way even the first step of independence is held up by reassuring hands, eyes or a voice. I worry we get further from this without the written word, a visit or a phone call. Things get top heavy and we forget the commerce of care, and it is the most valuable gift critters and people offer one another.

I saw a beautiful video “Denali” online about a young surfer and his dog who go through serious life changes, and in one part of the film which is narrated as if it is the dog speaking, the dog is greeting his friend and owner. The dog wildly wagging while he imparts his audience with a wisdom from a dog. Every time his friend returns after being away for a while he shows when he greets him how much joy he has seeing him again as if for the first time.

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The Owl Flies Low

Visiting dog friend, Z, and I drive towards the beach. The sky is low and tight against the ocean in sheaths of silver and lilac. The dog is unsure of the darkening beach and the shapes of small crowds of young people walking together on the shore but she reluctantly tags along as I toss her toy in the air. I watch her fly up to catch it perfectly and then take what Jim calls a “victory lap” on the shore brushing into the tide that moves and crests over her mid section.

Z, is dark eyed and brindle furred, and is a lithe dutch shepherd. Often I have leaned into her and said you need a little more Lupine in you and Lupine needed a bit of Z in her. They are polar opposite in manner and disposition. Lupine would be curious and check out everything and Z skitters away, and runs when dogs come near. I work with Z doing Natural Dog Training basics created by Kevin Behan. Kevin wrote a great book “Your Dog is Your Mirror.” His theory offers new ways to work with prey drive or lack of it with you dog so you become a team not a hierarchy together.

Tonight Z runs with the toy back to the trail we take to go home and I encourage her to go further but we only go  a small amount without her taking off in the other direction. I sit on the beach as she does this, and watch the terns diving in the sunset light. There are pockets of gold light triggering openings in the cloudy sky. I find it the best light show.

Eventually Z comes and sits by me and I just put my hand on her neck until she settles. We have a few moments of calm and are able to walk up the shore a bit further. The slick sand mirrors both ourselves and the darting birds in the sky.

Finally we head back in the direction of home and before we go up the beach trail I towel her down and shake out the towel full of sand. She likes when I work on her face and leans into the connection and enjoys the rub.

At the car the sky turns mauve and purple. The light shifts towards early evening. As we drive through the small town center and head down the road there are very tall palm trees on either side. I catch a glimpse of something on my left, and I recognize the shape as a white faces barn owl.

The bird dips to grasp something from the road, and in a perfect V down and up arrives at the top of a palm tree and clings to the bark with something in its talons. There are also darting bats waggling their wings in this rubbery impossible movement in sharp aerodynamic moves.

One time driving quite slow in southern New Mexico by the Gila River with Lupine I see this this lump and thump on the car window. Given the wind and monsoon rain I assume it is wet leaves. But there is a small face of a wizened bat staring back at me through the glass, and realize it is a reddish colored bat! I pull over and wait for the bat to move and watch it peel off the windshield. The bat takes off in its floppy manner and like the bats I see tonight the bat continues consuming the ready bug supply in the sky.

Owls and bats are around us as we head into the month of October, and seem to bring along with them the cool crisp evening air, the dramatic skies and a sense of effervescent change.

The owl tonight flew dangerously low in front of my car but did it so swiftly, and more like a visitation of pure spirit that feels more like a blessing of time and good favor to have this experience of being with the owl for a brief second. Z dog takes in the sight as well and stands up on the seat alertly as we drive a half mile more towards home.


The Goose Hangs High or Not?

Walking on the beach I see a large dark mass moving slightly on the shore. It is large and up close I realize it is a Canadian Goose at the edge of the waves. I look around and see some hawks flying above and I wonder if they chased it down but it just seems very  tired not hurt. This is the second bird this week I have found in my area. I pull out a towel and take things out of the backpack and slowly set the towel on the goose and gently tuck its wings in and look it over. I place it in the pack with the towel so it is in a little nest and put the pack on front ways so I can carry it against my stomach and keep the zipper open and can hold the goose from below so it will feel steady when I walk. My partner helps me with the things in the pack, and ties my shoes on me when we retrieve them at the bottom of the trail.

Up we go to the car and fold out a box and as I unzip the pack we peel down the sides so I can hold the goose. I gently set the goose into the box and tuck the towel around it so it still has a nest and we drive off to the rescue place. Once we arrive I am greeted by a young woman eating dinner. I mention the rescued hawk earlier in the week and she said they let it go today and it is fine. The talons had been trimmed on the hawk and so she wondered if someone had tried to make it a pet. Anyhow the hawk is free.

She lifts the goose out of the box and it is beautiful, young and a bit underweight but the rescue worker stretches out each wing and they are fine and lovely to see. The goose is very alert but not panicked. I feel relieved that the goose will eat, rest at the rescue hotel for a while and be on its way.

I talk to my brother and he has fallen from his roost during the night and his caretaker is on the phone and telling me about her hernia surgery and how she is covering for the person who was supposed to come. She talks pretty non-stop and about how she feels he should not be alone at night and she wants to do a split shift three nights a week and how both my brother and sister in law are old and need rest. She tells me how Rich after three days finally did “boo boo” after she massaged his tummy and barely made it to the toilet but he hit the bulls-eye for the most part with a pleasing amount of product. She also brought her other client she is actually on duty for in order to cover for the absent caregiver, and says they are having a gay old time together and  then puts me on to talk to “dad” or my brother.  She now calls my bro and wife her mom and dad.

My brother sounds subdued as they talk in the background and says there are too many voices to hear anything . Apparently it has gone from Ms. Carol and Mr. Richard to parental nicknames and a great many ideas about what they need. She is right that they need help at night. But I get a bit nervous because of some of the experiences that happened with my parents with people that helped them a bit too much and it became a problem. I do not know who this other client is that is there or if he is well and I am not sure what is really happening. Far away feels too far.

I am grateful for the interlude with the birds this week  even though I rather not see them in trouble but it feels good to be close to their wild needs and comfort. I wish my brother could be fed and cared for so he could fly free but I sense the shift in his personality, and the way his body seems less responsive so it is not likely.

Earlier today I made sixty cut out cards that I stamped with a crow image and we will put  them on the table for the wedding. It is a neat stamp in the art store and this morning I finally had the chance to create them. After bird delivery, and some bad Mexican food the cards are here waiting at home like a tiny colorful quilt and are dry and ready to stack and put over by one of our various wedding corner piles for tonight.

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The Quickening

This time of year yields a charged energy. It is a time of homing, migration, and harvesting bringing us into preparation and celebration. We always respond to the electricity of this season, a time of equal dark and light. Surrounding our lives is the vibrancy and change of color, and the energy of species moving through the landscape, sky, and sea. Leaves fall and offer a universe of beauty, light shimmers in misty skies as the elegant terns feast wildly in the sunset sky. Spirits rise to the occasion with the thrilling and brisk dimension of of fall.

It is easy to look and wonder where are we all headed most of the time? Harvest is a gathering and a savoring of the growing season reminding us to  stop and take in the hard work of spring and summer. Farmers this year have talked about the colder weather in our region, and lack of  summer sun. Each day when I dig in the garden I find peanuts that the birds have taken from the fence. I re-bury them in the hopes they will find them again when it is needed the most.

On the east coast blankets of leaves bring the “leafers” in droves, and at our beach the whales spout soft gray mist on the jade green ocean bringing more people to the cliffs quietly watching. Each evening is active with last minute tasks before the cool night falls upon us while the stars and moon are glistening with early silver light.

Tonight my  dear friend’s brother has died and she is driving with her partner to be with the family and to help prepare him for departure. Together at their farm, the sorrow of sisters for a brother, sons for a father, and wife for her soulmate are united in this sombre time.

The next day a stream of photos of him flow by his family put on the computer. They light up the screen with images of a boy becoming a man, a husband becoming a father and family gathered together celebrating. The bright smile and kind face that drew so many to him as a person throughout his life emanates in every image. Love and deep affection will remain in those who knew him.

There is a photo today on my friend’s table graced with leaves, a tapestry of cloth of many colors forming a altar of fall colors as two sisters lean into their brother lovingly as he smiles and is warmed by their affection, a hearth clearly built between them as their carpenter brother builds in another realm of existence.

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Hawk in Need, Marriage License and Nitrate Celebration

I must begin backwards having just handed off the hawk I rescued on the center divide at our off ramp. Visiting with wonderful friends from New Mexico after a visit to my art show and lunch we are heading to the beach for a short walk. At the cafe we share books made, presents bought to celebrate the upcoming celebration I share some fish with a yellow jacket that nips off bits to fly off and cache and come back for me. We share a mutual respect for insects and ecological concerns. One friend is a dancer of fluidity like water, and her husband is an acoustic ecologist who collects sounds in nature that presently benefit the saving of forests because of his work interrupting the bark beetle from its destructive mating cycle still allowing for respect for its existence.

There are many stories we can offer one another about the experience of the wild but today it becomes up close and personal very fast when I cruise off the ramp to my street up towards the ocean, and in the small divide with the yield sign on the cement is a hawk with its wings curved in an arch and leaning downward as if the bird is winded. A strange thing to think of this wonderful soaring bird not able absorb air but as safely and quickly as I can I pull over while my friends are not far behind me, stop, and grab a box in the back of my car and quickly fold it together and grab the small blanket that I hope is impenetrable to hawk claw and beak and run over to the divide and walk up behind the bird  and just as the bird senses me, almost like the bird is waiting and I throw the blanket over the bird then set the bird in the box by sliding it off the blanket  in a small Eskimo roll into the bottom of the container, and pray I am not hurting it. I can close the box and the bird is safe. I peer into the box and see the alert eyes of what I think at first is a young red tail and then by its feel I think might be a sharp shinned hawk.

If it is the latter it is my second meeting with such a hawk but the gaze back is fixed and we both remain calm although I am shaking from the rescue since I am concerned I could spook the bird into traffic. Years ago a hawk flew in my back door and hits the bay window and is stunned and I pick the hawk up and hold it until the hawk’s eyes focus and take it quickly outside and it flies off. The next day and days to follow the hawk would fly down by me when I hung clothes on the line.

My friends said they would go back to town and can drop the bird off, and want me to go on my way and check on Jim who is not feeling well and could not join us. They remind me that they have beaches close to them where they are staying, and they would head back that way anyhow and want to save me a trip.  So we say good bye earlier then we expect and my hawk friend is off to Native Animal Rescue hopefully to recover from the accident that landed this hawk in on a very narrow landing strip just a tiny distance from the off ramp everyone takes at forty miles an hour but manages to find its hawk self out of the road and a friendly rescue.

Often when Jim and I head to town we two we see two red tails up on the light fixture above the freeway entrance and I wonder if this is their baby. I look up when they are about to take off with the bird and see a hawk circling above by the grove of trees to the east. I hope that the bird can be returned to this home and find its family and is not lost to a migrating family but a local like myself finding refuge in the patches of nature around me.

We have had an eventful two days. Yesterday we went to city hall and filled out and paid for a marriage license. We both forget various facts about our parents and the exact date of our the last marriages some twenty five years ago dissolution. But we piece together our past, cross out a few things and the person helping us is patient. I make him laugh that they could have a very funny collage of licenses with all the mistakes the nervous couples could make filling them out.

We celebrate by having a late breakfast but in a short time after I have some kind of allergic reaction I  have with food that is seasoned or spiked. One symptom is I begin to have vertigo and become shaky and have this terrible surge in my arms, and generally a bad trip that eventually passes but then a while later my partner becomes so chilled that he puts on a wool hat as soon as we get home ,and seeks out a alpaca blanket in the closet and raps himself in it as I pull out remedies, and begin to make soup stock for a warm soup and cut mushrooms for some pate.

I have some spray of CBD of 20:1 oil I give him at bedtime I have had for a year ,and he sleeps. His his breathing is labored and I am awake until that eases and then hear the owls outside and  fall into a dream filled sleep until dawn.

I just have a call from my friend that it is a young bird, has a band on it and its talons are clipped and so who knows its story but for now the bird finds refuge from busy traffic and life is not in the fast lane for the bird tonight.

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