Order

“It is only by working the rituals, that any significant degree of understanding can develop. If you wait until you are positive you understand all aspects of the ceremony before beginning to work, you will never begin to work.” ~ Lon Milo DuQuette

Last night in a burst, I reinstalled drapes that were taken down while painting my bedroom. I had, unsuccessfully, tried to contact a task service to help me, and after a few choice words on their feedback survey, I did it myself. Sort of.

After inserting pins into every fold of one of the drapes, I stood on the step-ladder and began to put them back into each of tract holes, and was triumphant until I got to the last tract and realized I still had several pins left. The other and I decided that the pins had probably been doubled up in the holes, so the right-side was installed in a bunched up mess, and we moved on to the second drape.

The second drape, turns out, was shorter in width than the first, and it belonged where we had put the first.

So…I’m sitting on my bed, looking up at the lopsided installation, I got to thinking about order. I started to think of it as an art installation. I thought, hmmm, maybe I can hang something from those extra holes, like miniature fake birds from strings. That would create some semblance of symmetry, order, and it would look pretty if not a little crazy. If my sister was still around, she would look at me sideways and judge me in silence.

Being good and orderly makes you believe, incorrectly, that you have control in life. You think that you will somehow be rewarded and that you will be protected from harm. This is from being abused or being made to feel inadequate in your formative years. And all the therapists in the world won’t fix you.

 

 

Stars

“Yours is the light by which my spirit’s born: – you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars.” ~E.E. Cummings

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The moon hangs in the night sky and a star right below it. After some relief from the heat, it’s back again, but not really with a vengeance, just with spite.

The bachelor buttons seedlings that Sweet Farm gave to me weren’t the sought after blue flowers at all, just some sad gangly plant with white blossoms that look like stars. I’m keeping them alive with the dog water just to see what they will do.

Every morning, just as the sun comes up, I put out fresh water and raw almonds for Silent Bob or Jay, who are the Scrub Jays that have come to rely on me for their special stash. I caught a glimpse of one of them drinking out of my fountain, something I rarely see. I had to stand silently behind the pinball machine as he took 1, 2, 3 sips… and the Bushtits are back again, flitting around the crepe myrtle.

The moon stands in the sky, really, and the lonely star is tethered to it. Like an eye chart tomorrow it will move, leaving me to wonder if it’s the same star.

I might leave the blinds open to find out what hallucinations visit me again tonight. Last night a watery reflection of a vinyl record played on my ceiling, and cartoons danced on the blinds. Cartoon A fed Cartoon B with a spoon, and I stood in dumbfounded sleep paralysis, terrified and fascinated at the same time, and unable to move.

The hum of the fan is soothing and I close my eyes, not wanting to prepare for another day. I long for lazy days though I’m not wired for that. I’m dancing and it’s never fast enough. Though I think I’m the light that never goes out, one day the wind will blow the other way, and prove me wrong.

8 ways of the wind

If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees. ~ Khalil Gibran

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Image: View from the Dupont Plaza of men walking in Hurricane Betsy: Miami, Florida – 1965

I saw a spiderling today. Or maybe it was just a tiny adult, who knows. I will watch to see if it sticks around and grows any bigger.

The sun is going down earlier now, and it’s almost August. I am trying to figure out how many ways I can write about wind, and it turns out there are many. Like…the wind is shaking the neighbor’s tree, but I can only see it move through the slats of my fence. It’s pretty because the sun is hitting it, and it sparkles like hidden treasure.

It turns out there are lots of ways to write about wind.

I would have not spotted the pink blooms of my Lamium if I hadn’t been watching the wind move the leaves around. My ugly green plastic water jug is now on its side, tipped over by the wind. But I won’t go out to pick it up as my sliding glass door is broken, and I might not be able to close it again. The motto now is “don’t fix it unless it’s really broken.” Life is too short for home improvement. In fact, I think a famous woman writer said that you should write and not clean house. I’m beginning to like this woman.

It turns out there are a lot of ways to write about wind.

As the sun sets, the silhouette of blowing leaves throws shadows on my blinds, and I look for patterns like a child does with clouds. I mostly see old faces, though, not rabbits.

It turns out there are a lot of ways to write about wind.

Wind is always a verb, but noun wind whips up my hair on the subway line.

Wind is always wondering if those tall branches are going to break.

Wind is looking up at the same tall branches and crying, because it’s so beautiful but it’s always the same.

Wind only makes noise when it moves things. In the tree it whispers, in the door frame it creaks.

Only when the crow’s wings beat against the wind it returns the favor by giving the wind a voice.

Spider

Here’s an interesting thing about L.A. – it’s overrun with black widow spiders. I could find you one on the street in 10 minutes. ~Dominic Monaghan

I have a spider under my bathroom sink that I think lives there, or at least close by. Not sure where she’s getting her food, or what type of spider she is, but I’m letting her live there because she doesn’t seem to want to bite me. I haven’t got close enough to her to see what her back looks like, but she seems to be getting bigger so I’m wondering if she’s going to have some spiderlings. I suspect that she’s living in my wall or within the hollow sink somewhere, but I’m not sure.

She’s a magical disappearing spider, though, because as I ponder her, and then look away for even a second, she is gone.

Alone in the daylight

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Image from page 164 of “Emmy Lou : her book & heart” (1903) (source: Flickr)

It is only in solitude that I ever find my own core. ~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I think the art of solitude is really something wonderful. If you ever get to explore being alone for long periods of time, I highly recommend it. Though we are social creatures, I think being alone teaches you not to be lonely.

I remember as a child that the summer days would move by slowly and easily. I would sit with my childhood friends on their porch, vine tomato and salt shaker in hand, and pass the day playing until it got dark. When I got home I would stink of sun, sweat, and be covered in freckles, and there would be dirt in my hair and on my knees. I wouldn’t bathe, I would just crawl into bed, make the sheets dusty, and sleep like the dead with no dreams.

This weekend I chose solitude, as the 4th of July was upon us in ‘merica. I thought I would miss out on all the socializing, but it’s passing without much notice from me. I get to hear all the sounds of it; sparklers, backyard BBQs, laughter. For once I decided to just let the days happen, and it’s pretty cool how one moment just blends into the next.

I did get “bored,” and so when I did I thought of ways to get “un-bored.” But it turns out there’s not much difference between the two, it’s just in the second scenario you invent. I went to buy some plants and lingered a lot in the nursery, gazing on all the blooms. I picked out a yellow Dahlia and a Lamium, and when the sun was behind the Catalpa, I planted them in containers that had been empty for a long time.

The wind has picked up again, and thought it says it’s 80F in my back room, I am cold and wearing a sweatshirt. Grey is lounging in his big bed, and I am keeping the parrots company in their room as I write. If you’ve had parrots as long as I have, you have to learn to be creative in the parrot entertainment business – you learn how to keep the parrot parent (me) from not going mad and still give your cherished pets the time they need outside their cages.

I’ve learned to tolerate the sound of the poorly-made door in the bird room banging over and over again as the wind comes through the window and pushes the door around in its frame. Willie, my oldest bird, starts to whistle, and I say softly to him “You’re singing and I’m trying to write…what am I supposed to do with that?” And he is suddenly silent. No yelling or putting him back in his cage, just an intelligent request directed at a 28-year old cockatiel that he seemed to understand. He is not sad and does not take it personally; writing resumes.

 

Nowhere but here

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There is freedom within
There is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup

~Counting Crows “Don’t Dream It’s Over”

The ground is dry and it feels like winter was never here. My little evergreens did nothing, and my shade plants are struggling. I look into the trench my gardener made for planting and I wonder “why bother?” It’s more interesting to see how the landscape plays out, literally.

My view never really changes, though what’s outside does. The holes my dog has dug in the yard have become part of the landscape, and on occasion I see the head of a ground squirrel poking its head out of a hole and looking around. Sometimes it will poke its head out as far as it can and I imagine it thinking “Success! I’ve managed to conquer a backyard and no one has tried to kill me yet! It’s a good day!” Yes, most people in my neighborhood try to kill these squirrels because of all the effort they’ve put into their lawns. My advice is, don’t put all the effort into your lawn. Who cares? And I hate to tell you, the ground squirrels will come back. So, I’ve decided to let them live in my backyard. At least something is living and thriving in this world.

We found that some wrens have made nests in the gigantic Eucalyptus in our neighbor’s yard, two tiny wren apartments in nature’s version of a high-rise. Tiny Bewick’s wrens – bug and fly eaters** and all-around little badasses. Little birds with a big voice and and a wonderfully snobby tail to go along with it. Dust bath: check! Flit along the top of the friendly neighbor fence: check! Terrorize moths (and eat them) underneath the struggling Eureka lemon tree: check! What a grand life. Immune to the trivialities of humans, just enjoying life and avoiding stupid fucking outdoor cats.

The sun will go down soon, and the wind will pick up again. During the interludes of sun and no wind I am content to sit with my dog on the little concrete walls in the backyard, feel the sun on my face and hope for a glimpse of bird, any bird. Even though my dog (Grey) is content to lay on his dog bed in the sun for the most part, the temptation is great when he sees I’m at eye level and comes over for a pat. This is enough.

**Bewick’s Wrens eat the eggs, larvaepupae, and adults of insects and other small invertebrates. Common prey animals include bugs, beetles, bees and wasps, caterpillars, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, crickets, flies, and spiders (source: allaboutbirds.org).

Jay and Silent Bob

The more often we see the things around us – even the beautiful and wonderful things – the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds – even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less. ~ Joseph B. Wirthlin

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. I keep resubscribing to WP as it’s the only sense of self I feel I can hold onto, and even that is fleeting. But it’s important to me. Milan Kundera once said “Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding.” How true this is, but we must keep writing. Even though the world is too loud, we still need to keep talking.

I made a couple of friends a few weeks ago, two California Scrub Jays I’ve named Jay and Silent Bob. I named Jay his name because he is feisty and fearless, though not clueless like the real Jay from “Clerks.” Once Jay figured out that I was the giver of raw almonds, he started getting closer and closer to the window where he would see me every morning. Lately he’s been turning his head sidewise so a) he can see me better and b) he can silently demand I hop to it in the almond department. He’s absolutely stunning — the true blues and greys in his feathering I’m sure make him quite the spring contender for the ladies.

I started to worry that I was creating little almond addicts, so I’ve been trying to mix it up when I throw the nuts outside. I don’t want the mess of a bird feeder, so I’m keeping it real with targeted throws. However, what I’ve learned is that bird feeding is actually helpful at times when birds need the most energy, such as temperature extremes in winter or early spring, when natural seed sources are depleted (source: The Humane Society of the US). Birds need less of our help in summer, except for maybe a bird bath if it’s hot.

Silent Bob keeps his distance. He perches on the telephone lines farther away. He still stares, but waits patiently. If I was to anthropomorphize, I would say he’s speaking directly to my empathy, and I’m a huge sucker.