Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Small Starts

Good morning! Look at this: 


Pretty, huh.

Yesterday, I participated (online) in a workshop from the North American Association for Environmental Education, entitled "Nature as Inspiration and Transformation: An Intro to Nature Poetry."

I got to spend an hour with Aimee Nezhukamatathil, author of World of Wonders, to be published by Milkweed (one of my favourite publishers) in August.

Here's more:



Interesting, though possibly less "traditionally pretty."

The workshop, though: it was wonderful! Especially because I'm generally intimidated by poetry, both reading it and writing it. And I have an appreciation of others' scientific expertise, which I emphatically do NOT have.

And yesterday, I was reminded that all writing starts somewhere, and a sense of wonder--both in the sense of "awe" and in the sense of "curiosity"--is a great starting point.



Also: the power of starting small. Of keeping journals where you record (in writing and sketching!) observations of the world and sky. Of leaning into the things that make you mad or you don't like.


Maybe those observations grow into something more and maybe they don't.

It was lovely to participate as Aimee encouraged all of us to relax the pressure we might feel--from others, from ourselves--to "be productive" or "create."

Those who follow me on Instagram (where I'm marionagnew) know that fairly often I go over to the beach in front of our small camp on Lake Superior.

I pick up what our family calls "driftglass" and others call "seaglass." And I take pictures of it before I put it into a glass jar, where I enjoy looking at it.

I also write about these bits of glass, which you might have read if you've read my book, Reverberations: A Daughter's Meditations on Alzheimer's. Spoiler alert: they made me think of my mother! And also sheets.

In any case, that's what's on my mind these days: small starts, wonder (awe and curiosity), and, as always, this beautiful place in which we live (and parents and sheets).
Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Rewind

So. Remember when I fell on the ice? And my wrists weren't hurt badly and were getting better?

Those were the days.

During the ensuring eight or so weeks, my wrists have actually improved. I have gradually returned to reading, then editing and revising, a bit. Even some writing.

I have also attended a LOT (a lot) of Zoom meetings.

And here's what I saw during those meetings.


The photo above shows the view through the upstairs window where we set up the laptop with the functioning camera. 


Above: a closer shot to better show that thing out there. Yep. It's hanging at the end of rope, twisting in the breeze coming off Lake Superior (from left to right), and knocking gently against the exterior chimney (to the right). 

And yep, a gust from the right/wrong direction could send it right into the window glass! Which probably would have been neither a hassle nor at all expensive to replace! 

Throughout those past eight/nine/ten months years? weeks, I have lived with a sense of impending doom, as illustrated by this view. 

Last week I had another wakeful night in which I decided that although I cannot control all the stressful things in life, surely I could do something about a couple of them.

So I signed up for a grocery pickup service. And I phoned my family doctor because the healing in my wrists had plateaued and I was tired of thinking about them.


So this is the thing that was hanging from the rope on the roof. (I can't explain what it is, because I don't know. It's metal. What role did it play in weighting a string along the roofline, in a Roy-engineered contraption to keep gulls and ravens from sitting on the roof? Couldn't really say, but there's a broken partial hockey stick on another slope of the roof. And to finish the story, said contraption did emphatically NOT keep birds off the roof, but it did make for interesting whining during winter winds.)

The rope finally failed and this metal thing came crashing down onto the ground a couple of weeks ago. Whew. The window is relatively safe.

And so am I. Because I have ventured into our healthcare system and have an appointment Friday to determine whatever we shall do about these fractured wrists (!!!) of mine.

I anticipate casts and a general rewind of my ability to use my hands. I can only accept it in the service of healing. 

I'd been thinking of the metal thing as the Sword of Damocles, except that when I finally looked up that analogy the point of the story seems to be that power brings peril, which doesn't really fit either the literal situation with the window or my own, with the wrists.

For one thing, I would hardly call myself powerful, and for another, my peril came from my own carelessness, not the Winds of Fate. Well, I suppose falling was loosely related to the Power of Considering Oneself Younger And More Balanced Than One Is While Walking On Snow Over A Freaking Ice Rink That Is The Driveway, Not That I'm Bitter.

King James translated it better: Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18).

I would say, "At least I'll be able to go outdoors and enjoy the spring sunshine," except that we had snow last week, and it's still May, so snow isn't out of the question.

But there exist such things as coats and mugs of coffee, and I can still read, so, to quote the woman we know as Julian of Norwich, all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. 
Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Special Days

Early May is always a bit of a sensitive time around here.

My mother's birthday was May 3 (she would have been 103 this year), and her death anniversary falls near the midnight separating May 7 from 8.

And Mother's Day, of course, is always the second Sunday of May.

This year is especially poignant. It's the 20th anniversary of her death. And the first year my book about her--about her, and me, and our family, and all of us--is out.


Also, this year I didn't get to see my family--that was one of my ghost events.

Most days, I wouldn't trade any element of the way my life has gone. After all, I've landed here, in a life that was better than I ever dreamed.

Other days, I find myself wanting to tell my mother the nice thing someone said about her and the book. So I take a walk.

I see this.


And this.


The poignancy becomes mixed with gratitude, and with spring. And all is well.