Jennifer’s Flowers


detail of painting
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My sister sent me flowers for my birthday.

She knows me.

She knows that stargazer lilies send me.

She knows that I adore curly willow.

She knows alstromeria lilies are my thing.

Now, how many people on the planet have that all-important information

At the ready?

It soothes me that she knows these things.

We love each other deeply.

And we are very different.

She has a brilliance to her mind capacity and abilities.

Because we share the same blood line,

I actually recognize I have similar capacities in the mind department

Though I chose another path this time around.

Our parents were both intelligent people.

I really thought for years

That I was not.

In my sister’s shadow I crouched.

And yet… today I know different.

She shares the creative urge I acted on in my lifetime.

I see it in her style, her cooking, her parenting.

We both share good minds

And our access to the forest

Has been by following different paths.

Today,

Instead of feeling less intelligent

I feel smart in a different way

And cheer her successes

Wrapped in the colors

Of the life I chose for myself.

That separation I created

So long ago

Has taken alot of energy.

I am putting it down.

To Be Of The Earth


“CIRCLE”, 5′ x 24″, 2002, m/m
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There seem to be very few things we can count on

But the regularity of the seasons coming and going

And the pleasure

And angst

Of it all

Depending on one’s point of view

Can make

Or break

A life

Don’t cha’ think?

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TO BE OF THE EARTH IS TO KNOW:
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the restlessness of being a seed

the darkness of being planted

the struggle toward the light

the pain of growth into the light

the joy of bursting and bearing fruit

the love of being food for someone

the scattering of your seeds

the decay of the seasons

the mystery of death

and the miracle of birth.
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-John Soos
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Eye Gaze

My dog, Olivia has an uncanny

Ability to eye gaze with me.

There is never an undercurrent of aggression

Or challenge

Or desire to be elsewhere.

Her gaze is direct

And unwaveringly present.

Sometimes there is love

And other times gratitude

But mostly, she just seems to be trying to broadcast the pleasure of just being with me.

The power

Of these precious moments help me

Try to replicate the stillness

In my daily life with people.

I make attempts to soften my eyes

And try to stay SOFT and PRESENT

And GRATEFUL

If I am.

My own gaze has an intensity to it, I’ve been told.

I think it may have a bit of challenge in it

Stemming from self-worth stuff

I continue to address.

Olivia’s eyes have none of that.

She is just there

Looking..

And I count these seemingly small moments

As the highest form of gold

In my life.

Falling


monoprint, 1990, 30″ x 22″
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Joseph Campbell is a hero of mine.

I was watching THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES

In which he says:

“Turn your fall into a voluntary act.”

Now, that, there caused me pause, I tell you..

I know he is speaking of ‘the fall’ in the metaphoric sense.

Sort of a: ‘participate in all the sorrows of the world gladly’, kind of thing.

The most valuable piece of wisdom I have gleaned from my entire life so far is this:

A slight (or major) shift in one’s perspective

Will make the difference between

Wearing a sign that spells: VICTIM

And walking in the world feeling bedecked with jewels and shimmery silken things

Or at the very least

Having the strength and courage to hold one’s head high.

It behooves one to choose what we want to fight

With great care.

Because it can happen all to suddenly

That ‘the fight’

Becomes a life.

And a hollow one at that.

Dear God,

Wrap me in luminous rose-colored silk

And tuck a ruby in my palm

So I can remember to remember what I know

When I surely will forget.

Human Services


monoprint, 22″ x 30″
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I visited the Human Services Department yesterday.

They service humans.

It is a strange place devoid of art or color

And I didn’t really see too many people either

On the endless hike to find the elevator

(to service this particular human).

It was sort of a comedy of sorts

As I was met in the lobby by a very nice woman

And she proceeded to lead me at a snail’s pace

(because that is MY pace)

Through endless halls and turns and dimly lit offices.

She was actually really great.

When we finally sat in her office

She listened intently as I read my list

Of questions concerning support which I might avail myself of.

I took away information about Supplemental Security Income

And Medicare/Medicaid

As well as the possibility of some financial help with a new computer.

She will be a good point person

If I need help in the future

Negotiating the governmental morass.

Somewhere along the line I made a MAJOR shift that desperately needed to be made;

That of moving from the idea of CHARITY

To one of SUPPORT.

It took me a coons’ age to do it

But I walked the halls, yesterday, unashamed.

I have turned it into a mission.

It is more fun.

And that quest is one way I am servicing MY FAVORITE HUMAN!

Shift


raku sculpture installation
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In the Santa Fe paper today I read that our BORDER’S bookstore will close due to bankruptcy.

Yeah.. Amazon is so great…

Until something like this happens.

A cornerstone of the community will be gone

And the effects will be felt far and wide.

Just the thought makes me feel lonely.

Not that I go there very often.

But I used to sit for hours with a stack of magazines from around the world

Turning page after page and letting the sights and smells and beauty and horror of far away places

Wash over me

And leave me changed.

Then I would go to my studio and make art.

This fairly regular past time was vital to my creative process.

I could be IN the world of fellow humans going about their business

But not really OF it.

This is really important for my inspiration

To have the ability to sit at a little table

And have the world leave it’s marks on me

Without going anywhere.

For me, the creative place is almost trance-like.

Everything but what is in front of me goes away.

If you think about it, the idea is kind of scary.

I live in a sort of veiled place

And the comfort of having a familiar scene happening around me

Like a student with his laptop at the table next to me

Or a mother negotiating a kid, a latte and a book

Is just the thing I need

To let myself be taken

By Creativity.

So, now that particular possibility will vanish.

And it is a loss.

Does the connective quality of FACEBOOK

Hold a candle to a good bookstore?

How far away from each other can we get?

And do we even care?

Is convenience and ‘lite connection’

Preferable to

The journey

And the elegance

Of a surreptitious eye-lock

With a stranger in the theology aisle?

What Is Healthy?


textile design, 1985,pigment on wool flannel
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Having recently emerged from the grip of ‘the grippe’

I’m sitting here thinking about what, exactly it is that has changed

That made me want to get out from under the covers this morning

With a spring in my step, even?

For a couple of weeks I had no extra energy to NOTICE

Much beyond symptoms, where’s the remote?, the dog is getting constipated from too few walks, I already asked that friend to do me a favor and can’t ask her again, how dirty can one’s hair actually get?

Today, I recognize myself at last.

Here is the woman who has it in her to:

1. feel grateful
2. enjoy eating and the feeling of hunger
3. look forward to seeing friends
4. take a shower and feel good about the reflection in the mirror
5. have her attention on others when she wants to instead of just on herself
6. feel excited about the songbirds return to the bird feeder
7. not even know where the kleenex box is located
8. clean things
9. feel eager to find out what happens today
10. go for a full three hours so far today without one single wish that something was different

I love health.

I love that I can make up my own definition for what is is to me.

I love that that definition can change..

Just because I say so.

How Do You Spell ‘YACHT’?


untitled,30″ x 30″, 2001,m/m
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When I was a little girl growing up in the suburbs of Detroit

I led a small band of adventurers.

We would search out the huge (to us)

Drainage pipes being installed below

The many new roads in process of being carved out

To handle the encroaching masses.

We’d light a candle and crawl into the cavernous black

On our hands and knees

Never knowing what monsters lay in wait.

It was absolutely thrilling.

And oddly soothing to me to be underground

Away from my family and making my life follow

The direction I was choosing.. me.. little Cath…

I was captain of my own ship down there

And I loved it.

The dirt, the power, the mystery, the dark, the smells, the secrets.

I came across this amazingly futuristic design of a 100′ yacht the other day.

I find it interesting from a design standpoint

But laughed out loud to myself

As it made me think of my past underground adventures

And my preference for what they offered me

Over any thing this super-yacht might have to give.

I was glad to feel the tug of the underground

And wowed by the boat in the water

But, the pleasure quotient of smell of good dirt

And the perfume of the sea

Are equal to me.

As I recall, traversing ground on the humble power of my own hands and knees

Opened me to worlds beyond what I knew.

I think it was pretty good practice for

My life these days;

Closer to the ground than I ever thought possible.

Bird


“FLY GIRL”, 206, 11″ x 11″ x 4″, gravel,bone,earth
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“Faith is a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is still dark.”

– Rabindranath Tagore
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This month has been a long haul for me on the road to recovery from the flu but hare I AM!!

Once again returned to the Cathy I remember.

During my enforced and all to lengthy recline

I watched a LOT of “GREY’S ANATOMY.”

Season upon season, in fact.

I lived vicarious lives as I lay there with kleenex on one side

And my dog on the other.

I judged the characters and supported others; felt superior and bonded, both.

Cried and gasped and laughed and held my breath

As they all walked their walk through their own hall of mirrors

And I could just watch

And have opinions.

It was fun for awhile

In the privacy of my own home

To let my inner critic run rampant.

It was too easy and so ordinary.

After awhile, so very, very banal.

My laughter and sneers became hollow.

I was bored with the feeling of ‘separateness’, I think.

What is the thing, I wondered, that calls us to higher ground?

That lets us know when enough is enough?

Enough ‘lite- life.’

The nudge that gets us reconnected

With just the slightest reminder that there might be gold

On the other side of an apology, say..

Or forgiveness for past wrongs?

Illness has an undertow

And fairly often I forget entirely

About the beach

I lost sight of awhile back.

But some unseen force ALWAYS

Reaches for my hand and grabs me.

And turns me around toward land.

And I have FAITH that force

Is very real and not a wish or desire.

That very ‘knowingness’ is my gold.

And I am wealthy beyond any measure.

Some gorgeous images on the theme of FAITH:

The View


untitled, 30″ x 30″, m/m
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I am so very grateful for your responses to my query in yesterday’s post.

Working in a veritable vacuum as I feel I do at times

Is conducive to sensing the slightest brush of an angel’s wing

Across my cheek.

It can also make one a bit weird

And in need of a sound and true witness

To do the job of reflecting back

What we can not see for ourselves.

So..

I thank you.

It helps me move forward with confidence

That a contribution is happening;

Something beyond navel-gazing.

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HAIKU FOR TODAY
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A crimson red shirt
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Masterfully warms the chill,
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Hollow, bitter wind.
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Perspective


detail of sculpture, ceramic
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I have been in touch with a consultant regarding my blog because I want to make it a truth oasis.

It has always been my intention to steer clear of dipping into the self-serving nature

Of most of the blog activity I experience out there.

She asked me what I give to my precious readers.

It is THE question because

We all spend any extra time and energy on those things we consider

Will up the quality of our lives in some way.

So…

I wondered:

WHAT IS IT that I offer here, on this site?

My sense is that some of you visit me because I tell my truth

About scary and shadowy corners

We might prefer to ignore.

If I had to narrow it down to a sentence

The biggest thing I feel I have to offer

Is my natural knowing

That a shift in one’s perspective

Changes that reality

We thought was carved in stone.

I’m not interested in denial.

Just ‘repurposing’ really…

I actually try to get up and see what is there for me

And tell you about it

Without editing too much

So what you read has the fragrance of honesty

And it stands there

Pretty naked.

I have the sense that you keep coming back to visit me

Because of what it takes to say something true.

Is that right?

Because I would like to know

If you can tell me,

I’d really like to know.

xxxx me

Never Finished


detail of painting
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This is my favorite thing today:
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THE ART OF DISAPPEARING-

By Naomi Shahib Nye

When they say Don’t I know you?
say no.

When they invite you to the party
remember what parties are like
before answering.
Someone telling you in a loud voice
they once wrote a poem.
Greasy sausage balls on a paper plate.
Then reply.

If they say We should get together
say why?

It’s not that you don’t love them anymore.
You’re trying to remember something
too important to forget.
Trees. The monastery bell at twilight.
Tell them you have a new project.
It will never be finished.

When someone recognizes you in a grocery store
nod briefly and become a cabbage.
When someone you haven’t seen in ten years
appears at the door,
Don’t start singing him all your new songs.
you will never catch up.

Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.

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The ‘WHO’ of Me


“GIRL”, 24″ x 4″, ceramic, steel
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The shifting tides of identity amidst a chronic illness are not governed by anything so reliable as the pull of the moon.

The movement of underground techtonic plates is a constant

And yet we don’t know it till some fissure erupts.

The landscape is altered and foreign

But we’ve no business wondering if ‘this’ is permanent

Because change has become our in-breath

And we must figure out once again how to exhale.

In the middle of me trying to negotiate the murky waters of encroaching physical weakness and disability

And trying to fit the frayed and ragged pieces of this impossible puzzle together

Someone said to me: “Cathy, you may not think of yourself as someone the government takes care of..”

And, certainly I did not.

There have been many, many times I have braved the ‘shame waters’

As the list of “I can take care of myself,s”

Frittered away and was replaced by “I need your help.”

This week, on the recommendation of a friend,

I called a local organization called KITCHEN ANGELS.

They are dedicated to providing meals for people like me

Who are deeply in need of the support

Of warm and healthy cooking delivered to the home.

My right arm makes chopping vegetables an issue

And I find myself skipping meals to save strength.

Calling KITCHEN ANGELS was a big deal for me.

I had to consciously shift my mind

Away from “Oh, God.. I am pathetic”

To: “Cathy, you are SO deserving of this support.”

I am practiced at this reclaiming of my sea legs

Because I’ve done it now when I needed to begin using a walker

And then the wheelchair.

The mental machinations I performed were the ONLY things which allowed me to gracefully move

Into the new ‘me’

And most importantly, LIKE HER!

So, yeah…

I need support these days.

Is that bad?

No.

It just IS.

And that may change.

But for today..

I’m cool with it.

And grateful.

So very, very grateful for the help.

Good Medicine


“EGG”, 36″ x 24″, m/m
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VIOLET
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Purple hyacinth
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Selectively dispensing
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A pill for each ill.
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-CA

The Interior


untitled, 8″ x 4″, ceramic, steel
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Illness is the grand pubah of make-over masters.

It is a formula 500 race car in the midst of mopeds.

It is something we never go shopping for

And wish on no one

And each time one arrives

We are there holding the door open fervently praying, salivating even,

For it’s immediate retreat.

But each uninvited guest has it’s very own personality.

They take their scalpels out of a worn tool belt

And shine them up on their ugly pants.

A terrible gleam in their eye

Is mixed with oceanic compassion

As it carves away at our fondness

For who we were

And leaves us raw

And bleeding.

At some point the impossibly red

And vital blood

Stops running.

And we are left with a scar.

It is not the kind one shows off for effect.

A private wound

Invisible to most.

We keep lifting our sleeve with a curious eye

To check on the healing.

We find the scar is not ugly at all..

In fact,

There are miracles woven

Into the knitting that has happened.

Miracles without a thread to any language we know.

So they remain hidden

Except to us..

The hosts of illness;

We keep lifting our sleeves

And slyly peeking under

When we have the strength

To check on

The gossamer robe

Taking shape.

The Return


untitled, 60″ x 40″, 1999, m/m
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Forgive me the periodic breaks in my posting continuity.

The flu really knocked the ‘bejeezus’ out of the girl

And I am only today inching toward the land of the living.

Here is something that came my way which took the edge off..

And now.. my gift to you:

6 minutes of ‘happy pill’…..

Dirt


untitled, 2006, 40″ x 40″, earth, rocks
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One reason I do not keep a cache of pre-written posts

At the ready in case I face the great vacuum

Of writer’s block

Is the fact that the small and hidden currents

Which get overlaid with more glittery flotsam

Are highly interesting to me.

Today, what surfaced is

Dirt.

It snowed here last night.

I slept with the sweet love of a friend’s phone call checking on me

Before I huddled in for the evening.

This morning, all I can think about is earth, strangely.

Wet and turned, perfumed Michigan earth.

The smooth, clay fortified sheen my dirt road gets

After the grader (named Phil) passes through.

That time I was hiking

Years ago

With strong, tanned thighs

And I came across a mini garden of sorts:

Arrowheads and man-made stone tools rested on small pinnacles

Of sand eroded

And undisturbed

For eons, probably.

All this is happening under this new snow.

I find it interesting what migrates to the fore

And becomes something of value

When I lose

Abilities I didn’t even know

I loved.