IS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN?

Being mindful of what’s right in front of us can always be a challenge. Here are 10 new items from my end.

~*~

  1. Hard to think Christmas is so near. It’s just not in the air, at least for me, despite the bell ringers and carols around the stores. But then I’m often off on another planet.
  2. I always intend to put up our outdoor Christmas lights while it’s still warm. Rather than freezing my fingers.
  3. I’ve long said if she would only dance, she’d be perfect. OK, there are few other details I’d add, all these years later. Learning to read music, for one.
  4. Another old fear? If you get to know me, you won’t like me. Or maybe: You won’t like what you find. (That muscular reaction when someone gets too physically close in a conversation.
  5. I seldom I feel myself fitting in – in a crowd, an audience, a group, a family.
  6. NOT THE USUAL … one of my strictures in my desire not to repeat myself in blogging. Or anywhere else, for that matter. Not that I usually remember.
  7. I miss being able to get the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on local radio. These days I have to listen on my laptop or cell phone. Just ain’t the same.
  8. In a depression.: Do I really LIKE anyone? Being with them? Am I having ANY fun?
  9. Well, I am drinking Virgin Marys during Advent. (Cheers in the morning!)
  10. You were supposed to save me.

~*~

Yes, light snow counts.
Yes, light snow counts. We know what just might be really ahead.
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WHAT’S IN THE WIND

Just a taste of what’s popping up. In case you were looking for a prompt.

~*~

  1. My wife can’t resist an opportunity to make a holiday feast, and that means planning ahead. (Somehow the menu keeps growing, enough to feed twice as many guests as we have.) I’m impressed by the checklists she makes, too, to keep herself on track. Three days ahead – or more – the work actually begins. And then there’s the last-minute shopping for anything she wants to be fresh.
  2. Juncos and jays. Rituals and routines. Manners and mores.
  3. No matter my affinity, I never would have been comfortable in the Society of Friends in any of the earlier eras. I always would have chafed at the limitations and discipline. Nor, for that matter, do I see anywhere I would have fit in neatly. (We could start with my interior “fort” surrounding my emotions, despite my public interactions. Or my Aquarian/contrarian nature.) Well, the Mavericks have roots in Boston Harbor. Look ’em up. Doubt I’d fit in there, either.
  4. Opening my car door at the Nubble Lighthouse, I’m nearly knocked over by cold wind. Sustained, more than gusting. Barely a mile inland, only a mild breeze. This strange sensation of having my nostrils blown shut (or at least constrained): to breathe, I have to turn my back to the wind, a first in my experience. Make you wonder about sailors at sea?
  5. In Eastern Orthodox tradition, Mary is a temple of God that surpasses the one in Jerusalem. Within her, the Light or Logos becomes incarnate. The nuances are quite different from what I’ve heard in Western Christian teaching. How much else have I missed? I’m certainly invigorated by the sharp contrast to our austere Quaker aesthetic. I love the extremes.
  6. Launching this blog, as the horoscope said, came in my year to come out of hiding.
  7. In contrast to any sense of guilt or some shame or impoverishment: LOOK AT ALL THESE RICHES! Even the matters of what’s unfinished or undone, now turned to opportunity.
  8. A sense of progress, too.
  9. What do I really want? To be accepted and loved, without feeling pain? Certainly there’s more.
  10. What holds your life together?

~*~

I really should bring our bay trees and pots of rosemary indoors any day now. Yes, they can stand light snow or frost, but deep cold's another matter altogether. And we do like having fresh herbs at hand all winter.
I really should bring our bay trees and pots of rosemary indoors any day now. Yes, they can stand light snow or frost, but deep cold’s another matter altogether. And we do like having fresh herbs at hand all winter.

QUINCY MARKET IN LIGHTS

Thousands of lights.
Thousands of lights.

Each year the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, commemorates its gratitude for relief Boston extended in the aftermath of a deadly harbor explosion in 1917. The Canadians deliver a large Christmas tree, which is then erected and decorated in the heart of Boston.

The lighting itself is quite an extravaganza, as I learned the first time my choir participated in the event at historic Quincy Market. Imagine seeing yourself on the Jumbotron while you sing.

Boston is a rich and varied destination – the Hub of New England, or the Universe, as they used to say. Living a little more than an hour to the north, we’re well within its orb.

A perfect combination.
A perfect combination.

SAGELY, SAGGITARIUS

Why wait for the dust to settle? Here are 10 bullets from my end.

~*~

  1. Crows – dozens upon dozens – all over town, roosting together somewhere. Rook, as they say.
  2. Late afternoon driving: so much glare, not just the low sun, either, but blazing up in reflections. Wet pavement or a waterway I’m crossing.
  3. Midnight here now really fits around 10:30, unlike 12 in the summer, calculating midway from sunset to sunrise.
  4. Cranberries, so quintessentially New England, remind me of driving to Cape Cod and passing all the bogs where they’re grown.
  5. When it comes to Friends, we need new blood.
  6. Eastern Orthodox Advent starts on the 28th and continues to the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6 or 7, not our more widespread Christmas Day! Since we’re taking this up voluntarily, rather than under church discipline, we make some adaptations. Thanksgiving, for one, and ending Advent on Dec. 25, for another. Does it make us look like wimps?
  7. Poetry as a heroic journey. Holy, my voice. Or gritty.
  8. Where am I NOW? Where’s my HEART?
  9. Good to be reminded of ACTIVE WAITING, especially through periods when you feel suspended, on hold until others make a decision or act or all the pieces to fall into place. Drawing from James Nayler, Brian Drayton sees a sequence in spiritual response. The waiting prompts a response, which requires prompt obedience. Next is suffering, perhaps as embarrassment or upheaval. And then public witness – telling others, even if only in a small circle. Throughout, small steps count, however tentative.
  10. How much of being a public figure is a matter of being a performer, too – someone who needs a circle of fans?

~*~

It's always an honor for our choir to perform a set for the lighting of the huge Christmas tree at Faneuil Hall in Boston. The 80-foot tree is an annual gift from Halifax, Nova Scotia, expressing gratitude for relief given its citizens after the 1917 harabor explosion that killed an estimated 2,000 people. The tree is adorned with 30,000 lights.
It’s always an honor for our choir to perform a set for the lighting of the huge Christmas tree at Faneuil Hall in Boston. The 80-foot tree is an annual gift from Halifax, Nova Scotia, expressing gratitude for relief given its citizens after the 1917 harabor explosion that killed an estimated 2,000 people. The tree is adorned with 30,000 lights. Here’s the stage before we make our entrance.

TURKEY TALK, TOO

The mind dances here and there, rarely in a linear progression. So what’s in my thoughts these days? How about counting on these fingers?

~*~

  1. While driving through town, I glance over at a small cemetery and notice wild turkeys padding about. A whole flock, actually, reminding me of hunting season hereabouts and the national holiday just ahead. Somehow, the critters know the calendar, and the wiser ones find sanctuary in town. Good luck to the rest of their brood.
  2. With the return of cold weather, we once again use our front entryway and the mudroom beside the kitchen as auxiliary refrigerators. Don’t trip over the pots and pans when you visit.
  3. When it comes to problems, focus on what’s closest, rather than always on the horizon. (The view from Mount Aquarius.)
  4. It’s all New Work, in the works.
  5. After all the lost or difficult years, the dashed dreams and desires, broken promises, upheavals – mingled, curiously, with gratitude. I’M HERE!
  6. What never happened – and then?
  7. Asked how long they’d lived there, in an American Walden, the artist replied: “Too long!”
  8. Could the text be made simpler, rather than wildly reaching?
  9. It’s better to know, even if it’s bad news, than to be left hanging in limbo
  10. We keep trying to find a good system for storing our leeks through the winter. We’re very open to suggestions.

~*~

A mid-afternoon view of the Cocheco River running through Dover carries a forewarning of winter.
A mid-afternoon view of the Cocheco River running through Dover carries a forewarning of winter.

WHAT’S IN THE BAG

Being mindful of what’s right in front of us can always be a challenge. Here are 10 new items from my end.

~*~

  1. Been collecting bags of fallen leaves from the neighbors, urban farmer that I am. These days, a couple dozen bags are sufficient, unlike the 200-plus I gathered in many of our first years together. They get stacked against one side of the barn to break the sharp blasts of cold wind that otherwise freeze the pipes to the mother-in-law apartment on the other side of the barn. It’s another of my winter-prep rounds. Come spring, the leaves get moved to the big compost bin.
  2. I carry a sense of being responsible for making everything better – me, alone. Except I have insufficient resources. Which takes us back to my deeply ingrained fear of poverty. No wonder I always want everything to work just right – and get so upset when it doesn’t! And that twists back to my fear of conflict.
  3. All of my writing (as I’m venturing) assumes an experience, if only an out-of-nowhere phrase (exploring the subconscious, then), demanding discovery as some unity of the cosmos. Even when I’m writing about what I don’t know.
  4. My appreciation of raw oysters on the half-shell goes back to my girlfriend in college, who insisted I eat (real) seafood while visiting in Florida. (And here we were, staying on a cattle ranch.) Up till then, it had been frozen fish sticks or canned salmon. Flash forward, to New England, where these days just before winter provide some of the fattest, juiciest oysters imaginable. These bivalves have stocked up for their version of hibernation. And, as one Mainer points out, you can count their age on their shells, just like rings in a tree.
  5. Gotta brace again for the end of Daylight Savings, the day our winter begins. Really begins.
  6. Of course location affects my writing and sensibility. The slums of a small city can be as urban as anything in a big metropolis, if you look and listen.
  7. Turn up an old Gohn Brothers catalogue – Amish clothes etc. Realize that’s no longer me, either.
  8. Ever so messy, the girl with the Lord & Taylor shopping bag.
  9. Somehow, even my Quaker practice and theory break free from some past.
  10. Taking the bus to Boston, I look out to see a field of big trucks just before the state line. Then remember, from a detour, it’s the truck spa. Seriously, that’s what it’s called. Keep wondering if there’s something on the side for the drivers.

~*~

In a solidly residential neighborhood these days, an echo of a more rural past.
In a solidly residential neighborhood these days, an echo of a more rural past.

THOU SHALT NOT?

At least they’re not commandments. Holy Moses! Ten more from my end of the universe.

~*~

  1. Sometimes I enjoy being in the front passenger seat the entire trip. Get to see more, for one thing. It’s an opportunity not to be in charge, not to be fully responsible – just let go and observe. What a relief!
  2. All the waterfowl, the tip of the wing nearly touching the surface they fly over: how do they do it?
  3. As Richard Brown Lethem says of his work, “For my entire life I’ve been trying to mine the subconscious.” No wonder I’m drawn to his paintings, inexplicable as so much remains to me.
  4. I feel myself to be from another planet, looking at a world I once wanted to inhabit.
  5. The grief men carry. Could it simply be the passage of time? Or something more fundamental to Eden?
  6. As the news story reported, a neck-slasher to his stepdad: “I’m going to kill you and your life is going to end.” (The redundancy is emphatic.)
  7. The Isabella Stewart Gardner museum in Boston’s Bay Back really is a magpie’s nest, an egocentric collection of bright and shiny objects. I do wish the curators were at liberty to give its masterpieces better display, contrary to Isabella’s directives. My, there’s so much clutter in the way!
  8. Rather than heading back to Maine, she’s spending the night here. Thus, it’s NO YORK.
  9. Pockets in a room that aren’t doing anything: that hold, in effect, dead energy. What’s the better usage?
  10. Who am I, at the core? What do I really want? (That, for someone she accuses of being self-centered.)

~*~

Right downtown, a great blue heron watching the tide.
Right downtown, a great blue heron watching the tide.