Saturday, August 8, 2009


I've been thinking about the color blue. Do you think there are some universal rules of beauty, or is it all truly in the eye of the beholder? I wonder because it is hard to not respond to the color blue, wrapping us as it often does in the vast canopy of a morning sky or the arcing heave of ocean turquoise, teal, and indigo.
I think we need blue. Perhaps it is an essential visual food that calms us and tempers our edgy human spirit more than we hugging a baby lulls it to sleep without a spoken word.
As with the golden mean, blue might occur in just the correct mathematical porportion to our need. A diet of light. I know some days I need blue.

This little texas lizard perched, almost invisible, on the limestone ledge where Ian spied (and grabbed) him. Flipping him over revealed this amazing peacock blue marking.....
My friend Paul, who is a geologist and naturalist, would tell me the biological imperative this blue is designed to address...and he would be right...but I wonder about that blue. Maybe there is more to it; something more subtle in the blue.
A hidden post card from God?
I've always thought that if I were God, I would want someone to notice my work.........

This purple gallinule is a rare visitor to our parts, and I hear there is one on Town Lake in Austin. We saw him in South Padre, resting from a long migration in a marshy tidal pool. The hues and colors of this bird are impossible to ignore. Somehow, his blue is a command to my heart to look, to be amazed, to acknowledge the big-ness of the mystery that so much color offers. How can he be so blue? How can the tiny number sequences in a strand of his dna be so precisely aimed to create thousands of blue feathers that grab my heart?

And then there is the other blue. When I talk to my clients and they tell me of the sad things that have happened to them; the bitter turns of fate and shipwrecks that human life unavoidably delivers.....they say to me....."I am so blue." We sit in my little office and share their grief like a communion cup and taste it together. It is an honor and a humbling thing for me. Blue is the perfect way to describe it: the way we feel when life slows to a crawl and our pain is a metrinome; when we are forced to stop living on rote and just "be" where we truly are. To me, blue describes it perfectly...and not in a negative the same vast, all-encompassing, unavoidable, sweeping way that the sky and sea and clouds bring their blueness to us.
Maybe feeling blue is our lark song to Mother God.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

In my Mother's Garden

Gardners come at it much like other hobbies: it depends. I always notice people's yards: some are precise and manicured; some hapless; some forgotten. Many mean next to afterthought or marketing idea. Plants just living along side humans and no connections between.

Not mine. No way. Mine is sentimental; a work in progress. When I moved into my house 14 years ago, I was 8 months pregnant with my youngest son. I was large. I lumbered. A young mother of two and one on the way. I had just lost my Mother a few months before and I missed her with an ache that I still cannot completely describe. She was the person who loved me no matter what; who really wanted to hear what I had to say and who adored my babies as much as I. I thought her a Cherokee princess, as she used to brag that she was; a woman larger than life. Whes she got sick one year after my second child was born, her eyes began to gaze somewhere far away and she slipped away.

I began to consider my own garden, and of course of my Mom's passion for plants. She loved them all, especially the obscure, the tenacious, the unusual. She was the plant rebel. Not the garden club woman, but the thief, the rebel, the messy gardner. Nothing in her yard was as it should be-no trimmed hedges or uniform annuals. She preferred the odd and unruly wild flower; the native shrub that did not often find itself in formal gardens. In fact she often stole plants where ever she happened to find them: at the arboretum or sunken garden. We would be driving along and she would scream for me to stop, and she would dart out of the car and dig up some plant she fancied. She would take them home and plant them and they either grew or languished, depending on their moods, in her little yard in Kerrville. I loved that she stole so many of her plants; it was a testimony of her belief that Mother Earth had her own plans; that the rules we made so silly in the grand scheme of things. As the Aboriginals say, we do not own the land; the land owns us. God must grin at such ardure.

Perhaps I am not such a brave rebel as my Mom. I inherited the spirit but not the wildness of her ways. Seventeen years after her death, I have a lovely, intimate garden. It is made up of plants, bushes, and trees. Bulbs, flowers, and shrubs. Each one came from somewhere that I actually know quite well.

Yellow irises from Mary down the road. She has lovely flowers and a terrible husband. Both show in her eyes. The Fall Asters came from Uncle Bob, just before he died of liver cancer. He smiled more that anyone I know and had wet, relentless kisses for any baby. My Linten Rose I bought. It was the year I was baptised with all my children at a small Methodist Church in Blanco, Texas. I read Annie Lamotte all year and was filled with the Holy Spirit. My lovely asparagus were planted the first year here with the help of my husband. His heart was still wit me in those days. There are so many more gifts of love that ended up in embedded in the good earth of my yard.

My Climatis came from my last home. It sprang up it the middle of a St. Augustine yard the week my Mother died. I call it Mom's flower, because I think it heralded her departure. I could go on and on. My plants are my family tree; my living lineage. They mark my loyalties and are a sure trail from my heart back to each person I love.

Oddly, the only plant that I have ever mistreated was by accident. I unintentionally ran it over with my lawn mower a couple of months after my husband left me for my best friend. She had given it to me. God may not interfer with free will, but He sure knows how to work a clutch.

Late in the evenings, on warm Texas nights, I stroll through my yard under the brilliant moon and look at my plants. I quietly acknowledge each gift and the giver. None were stolen, but all have stolen my heart. I think that my Mom would find me a bit sentimental and sappy, filled with the Cherokee spirit as she was and the native spirit that whispered quiet rebellions to her. As my aging house and garden begin to mirror my own physical changes; indeed as I walk a little slower late at night, I can see the heaving breath of nature as sure as my own breath. My plants are my story of friendship unleashed and a full life lived.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Whenever I forget that creation is a continuous process, rather than a linear event that happened in some obscure garden between some naked man and woman ions ago, I remember fish. Fish have always been an important part of my life. I remember leaning over ponds as a child; over the olive green waters of the Guadalupe river and seeing shimmering little minnows moving in syncronized groups and catching lights as they moved. Later it was peach-bellied perch guarding immaculate nests in the Blanco River and finally the rainbow of colors of ocean fish that I saw when I began to scuba dive in the 1980's. They amazed me. Vast expanses of creation, moving and shining in the water, or a solitary wrasse backed up into a hole in a reef, all alone and spectacular. They are all process. No definate beginning and end but all movement and form and color and wonder.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I'm not sure what Andy Goldsworthy is trying to say with his "Land Art" pieces, but I know how he does it. He goes to a location that inspires him: Scotland, New England, Vermont; he stands before a natural space and wonders. He wonders what it would look like to place colored leaves along a wall or log, he wonders about the shadows and light effects of sunset shining through ice spikes glued to rocks with his own spit. He constructs a natural sculpture, then waits for the weather to change, for God to transform and collaborate. Andy Goldsworthy is a visual poet, a spokesman for the effect of human curiosity on God's landscape.

Monday, February 23, 2009

On Timelessness, Aging and Irish Rubbings

It was good year, turning 50 notwithstanding. All my years have had exceptional moments, but this year they flowed in abundence. Toni, Nita and I were on a bus touring the Aran Islands in Ireland when we asked the driver to stop and let us look at a 700 year old cemetary. He obliged (grudgingly.....later I found out we almost caused the ferry to leave the island without our whole bus cause we were late!) I had brought crayons and packing paper, so we raced to find the most beautiful grave stone to pull this rubbing. Maybe it was the waxy crayon, the course, brown paper, or the delicate speckled stone, worn away by ages of icey Irish gales that made this particular rubbing most perfect.

I love old things; those touched and hewn by the hands of some anonymous person hundreds of years ago. I love to think about the timeless nature of human creativity and the urge we all feel to leave a mark; to express. Someone made that stone, cutting and crafting each symbol and then standing before it to see it said something. How many eyes have looked on it? Who was it for? What ties of love lie as hidden mysteries captured in this one stone?

Through loving and appreciating we create and recreate divinity. So, celebrating 50 years of this grand life by jumping off a bus to do a rubbing of an ancient tribute seemed most perfect. Most wonderul.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

God in the details

God has been quiet lately; you know what I seems that sometimes, when my restless heart is tantruming for answers about what it going wrong in my life...God just gets so quiet. Deep, intensely quiet. Quiet like snow. So, this morning I was in that mood, moping about my house and wondering for the millionth time if God is REALLY out there. I know deep down inside that He is, but when I am hurting or lonely, or just frustrated God becomes more elusive.

I prayed, talked to my neighbor (she traded me eggs for some cobbler) and my friend Kim called to help me get going with my blog site. She guided me through the steps and sent me a picture to post so I could learn how to add pictures.

Kim has an eye for beauty. Lovely, delicate pretties of all sorts; jewelry, decorations, photos, always elegant and cool. She sent a picture that she grabbed up randomly from her thousands and sent it to my blog. I studied it and loved the tiny embroidered details and creamy swirling colors. Van Gogh and Renoir and Grandma.

I just smiled and remembered that when God gets really quiet, maybe I need to quit tantruming and get quiet too. Invariably, There He will be, in the loving help of my friend Kim or the swirling colors of an eccentric ring. It is a huge relief to me that my God loves art, blesses friendship, and moves in close whenever I stop and just enjoy the little miracles.

Thinking bliss

I'm drinking wine and thinking bliss
Is on the other side of this.

I just need a compass
And a willing accompliss;

Love just needs a witness
And a little forgiveness...
And a halo of patience

I'm learning to be brave
In my beautiful mistakes.


Sunday, February 1, 2009