Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Our bodies, our selves...

Most of you know that I have been away from the farm for the past 3 weeks.

My sister had an accident using her lathe and sustained a missile blow to her face and left eye - the missile was a kilo of mesquite.  When I got the message of her accident Wally helped me to pack and get on the first bus to the U.S.  When I arrived Lynne was recuperating from having her face reconstructed through the torn lower lid of her eye and from inside her mouth.  I was told how good she looked.  I was thankful that her brain was not damaged and that I could recognize her by half of her face.

I have been updating family and friends via email but for those of you who would like to catch all the details , check out her site:  lynneyamaguchi.com  Read her blog and see her art.

A month prior to Lynne's accident I heard an interview with a British photographer, Giles Duley, who had lost his legs and arm from stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan. He was the official photographer for the Paralymbic Games in London this year.  After hearing him interviewed I was curious to see his work.   In a striking self-portrait, he poses as a limbless Greek statue.  Despite his shattered body his inner self, the person heis and has always been, was evident.  He is Giles, he is beautiful.  It was also a profound way to show what war can do to a body and a statement of equal power, that despite such a horrific injury, his life shines on.

As I write at Lynne's dining table, I share the space with one of her works entitled:   "Self Image:  What Really Broke".

"Self Image - What Really Broke"
It is a triptych of broken mirrors patched, taped, glued and re-paired in various ways and curved around a perfect, silken-smooth and polished, turned vessel.

We see out of our brokenness   Others see us through their brokenness.  But if we see what the creator has made, in truth, it is perfect.

These thoughts dove-tail with other thoughts, that of my own slow-changing, aging body, the sag and crepe that I see in the mirror these days.  What is happening to me?  I am the same - I am here, but who is this?

In the city I am part of the myriad of reasonably fit, middle-aged, modern women.  I think we must be a majority of the U.S. population because we are everywhere!  The careful hairstyles, the tasteful and trendy fashion, the sleek new cars and granite counters all snag me self-conscious, a remnant nature of the fall that in principle I reject. It is a tyranny, and besides, it makes me feel not-good-enough.

Of course, I know better than to step onto that treadmill.  Still, I want to be ready with a re-imaging of myself for the years ahead.  I want to see deeply, be wise and timeless and perfected by the cutting tool of life's lathe.
Cherry vessel from "Self Image - What Really Broke"

I'd like my life to have the effect of Lynne's work of art or Gile's photo.

We are wired for meaning and isn't that an important ingredient for happiness?

Then I hopefully, unknowingly and happily anticipate what is ahead.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

There are so many beautiful, rare visual experiences here.  I am not good about carrying a camara with me.  It's just as well because when you are thinking "where's my camara?"  you are not 100% in the moment of awe, so, I try to imprint these moments with all my senses, taking it in so I can re-member it as full and deeply as I can.  Maybe it will flash before me in a near death experience. I'm building an interior library of them so that when my life passes before my eyes it will be good!

Wally tells of hiking deep into the mountains in the winter and hearing the deafening crack of an avalanche. His first instinct was panic because there's no running in snow shoes.  Then he thought if these were his last moments he wanted to take it all in.  He got a rare thrill.  Thankfully, it wasn't his time.  I'm glad to know about his flash decision because that is the option I would hope to choose.  I have the advantage of practicing this in advance as I'm not so good at making flash decisions.

So turn on your imagination... this is only as good as your ability to see and savor, then it becomes your experience and part of your library.

Before dawn, in this past, full blue moon, I watched a lightening storm.  The strobing of the lightening lit up the ocean in a glorious light show while the moon was constant and calmly watching.   

I watched a bright and blazing sunset through a torrent of rain, where drops of water were tiny optic glasses that intensified and fractured the changing colors.

Sunset colors and leaf shapes dance on the bedroom wall.

Early one morning, after a night of rain the ocean in front of us was softly patterned in shades of aqua and turquoise where the shallow and deep waters lay calm, exhausted.  The air was scrubbed clean and my lungs couldn't hold as much deliciously crisp oxygen as I craved.  The whole world was sharply in focus.  Later, the ocean turned brown as the overflow from the mountains flowed into the river. Brown, aqua and turquoise sea and a tender blue sky, all together extraordinarily memorable.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wally and his honeys...

We spent some time with our friends on Sunday afternoon. They recently adopted 3 children whose mother was killed by a hit and run driver.

The youngest, Leah, is a darling dumpling and she is foot-charmed by Wally's tickley beard.  His overall pockets are just right for little hands to go searching for treasures.  Those pockets occupied her with their zipper and snaps.

And not only a charmer of black haired, brown-eyed girls, blonds love him too! 
This is Honey.  She's a dog we brought back from near death.  She had parvo and simply wanted to be left alone to die, but Wally would not give up on her and kept her hydrated round the clock.  After 5 days she got her will to live back and now she loves him with a passion.  She is one of many dogs that we have rescued and found homes for that love, love, love us.

Last week, another rescue dog which we found a home for went missing and her owner found her in a well uncovered and hidden in tall grass.  She had been treading water and clawing the walls trying to climb out for many hours.  When we heard that she had been found we went to check on her.  She climbed into Wally's lap and buried her head in his arms to be comforted.  He was the medicine that did her the most good and he knew she needed him.  

We treated her with homeopathic remedies for trauma and her feet. She had worn her toes nails to the quick.  We thought she probably took in bad water too and so we treated her for that as well.  She will be fine.

It's really nice that we can see our dog friends when we visit our people friends.  Inter-species friendships make everyone richer.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Origami-dog pack...

So, this is my latest art project:  

Origami thank-you cards for contributors to our spay and neuter clinics for area dogs and cats. 

Most of my friends know that this is a project near and dear to us and our way of promoting inter-specie friendships.  Through donations and volunteers we fund and run monthly clinics free of charge through our group, Bahia Matanchen Animals.

This is an origami dog that I learned to fold while visiting my mother and joining her in Tucson's Japanese Culture and Origami Meet-Up Group.  

Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding. But you knew that...

I first learned folding from my grandmother.  When my sisters and I were young she made us a bound book filled with origami animals, flowers and birds.  It's one of my treasures.

One Christmas many years ago my son and I folded cranes by the dozens to hang on our Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  It is one of my fondest memories. 
It is a wonderful craft which still inspires me.  

I don't live near a Michael's so I had to make my own envelopes.  I took an envelope apart and re-sized it to fit folded A-4 paper, made a template and cut and glued them.  They turned out very cute, don't you think? 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

People ask me what slow living is.

Each day on the farm there are chores and they are the same every day.  It would be easy and natural to resent doing the same thing each day unless you view it as practice towards something you desire to be good at.  This is what slow living is teaching me.

For example, one chore is to sweep the front courtyard of the house.  The house is covered in bougainvillea and flowering vines.  The falling leaves and flowers are strewn everywhere.   There's a satisfying feeling when the walk is swept clear but it only lasts a few seconds.  Why bother?  Because when I sweep I see things, wonder, have illuminations of insight, commune with God.  Not always, but that is what I open myself to.  The commitment of keeping God central to everything makes sweeping the bricks an exercise in listening and expecting God to meet me in that task, in every task.

I sweep to welcome who-ever might come, to create a transition from a place of busy-ness to refuge, a place of beauty, rest and re-fresh-ment with friends.

My broom is my co-worker.  She fits my hand and task and we move together in tandem having a quiet conversation- whoosh, whoosh, the sound of twig-bristles on brick.  I too am a tool in a work I cannot always make sense of yet I can yield to it like a dance partner.  I sweep to be on cue to that connection that holds all things together. 

I pull the weeds daily that sprout between the bricks to show that this is the path, the well-worn way to the front door.  And I re-member this morning before the Eucharist, bowing down to weed my conscience of the past week, checking my course to stay true to the way of peace in myself, with others and with God.

I stoop again to look at petals, even the back side of a flower has a pattern that is a marvel.  Each petal of the papaya is furled and reminds me of a child's wind-whirler toy on a stick...God's design to propel seeds plants seeds in me. 

I sweep hot-pink and yellow petals not cigarette butts. That makes me smile thank-full.  My work is playful wonder.

Each moment leads me further into conversation with the present.  And so it goes when living slow...the mundane becomes sacred, the routine is practice in the faithfulness required of artistry.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I had a perfect day today.  This is what I made - a bold crocheted bag made with plastic raffia and lined with a Chanel scarf I never wear.  

I was planning to be on a bus heading north to visit my mom, but strong wind broke a large window in the kitchen... can't be without a window in the rainy season.  The break was on the mountain side of the house where the prevailing wind and rain give us a pounding this time of year.

Wally will get the window fixed in the capital but because this is Sunday nothing will be open so the earliest chance is tomorrow.  No sense in making two trips two hours away two days in a row, so I got this gift of a free day. 
What made the day perfect is not so much the satisfaction of finishing a project but the process of creating, the joy of getting lost in time and thought, vision...it all comes together and this is the memorial.  It looks as happy as I feel.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Padrino and madrina of many...

This week was full of summer activities.  We attended two graduations for neighborhood kids.  We are godparents to several children from different families.  That equates to a lifetime of honors and responsibilities including first communions, quincenaras, weddings, new babies, graduations, sicknesses and funerals. The custom of padrinos and madrinas is very strong here.  It is the way people share their milestones, people their parties and pay  the cost of their celebrations.  If there were threads of different colors that mapped the connections between people in this system it would be a tight and colorful weave.  It is why connections here are both far-reaching and intimate.

Mexicans celebrate with gusto.  Everything is over-the top compared to the US. We atteThis was a kindergarten graduation with exotic dancing, deafening music (louder is happier) handmade decorations on top of decorations, children in snow-white ironed uniforms with elaborate hair and their guests dressed in their best - women in high-styling heels and lots of cleavage, men in their best boots and cowboy hats.

Every family brings an abundance of food and beer to feed their padrinos and madrinas and family.  And we bring brightly wrapped presents with giant bows - packages too pretty to open -
it's present-ation more important than what is inside.

A joyous time was had by all - lots of good food, laughter and people-watching.

My neighbor asked me about graduation ceremonies in Japan.  I described something more solemn and she was disappointed.  She said Mexicans never do anything without music and dancing - I think it's true.
Secondary school graduation celebration

Friday, July 13, 2012

Enjoying the fruit of dreams come true...

With well over 100 varieties of fruit trees there is always fruit for the picking.  Today's pick was guanabana, avocados, and a pineapple.  I also picked passion fruit, juanitos and guava after I took this photo.  In the evening I browse and munch while I walk with the dogs.  They browse and munch too.

As a boy, Wally dreamed of never worrying about having enough food.  His solution was to grow up and plant every type of fruit tree he could.

The big green spiky fruit is a guanabana.  It is from the same family as pawpaw for those of you who know that fruit.  Inside the flesh is white and it's seeds are shiny-black.  it makes the most delicious sorbets.  How can I describe its taste?  It is a fruity flavor combination of pineapple, guava and banana - sweetly sour.  It smells like a fruit smoothie.

The pineapple is a small, very sweet variety - the perfect size for the 2.  We have a pineapple plot under the shade of a breadfruit tree.

There are so many tropical tastes unique to our part of the world and with every season they change.  I never dreamed that the beauty of fruit would become such a delight and joy!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Meet Rickie...

Rickie Nichol is the 3rd of 4 children of Herman and 
Evelyne Black. Their dad passed away in 1981 and 
later Evelyne married Ken Fletcher, my dad. 
Ted and Rickie Nichol and their 2 sons, David and Matt,
and their families live in the Tri-cities of Pasco, 
Kennewick and Richland, WA.  They enjoy the semi-
arid climate with its abundant water sports, camping, 
and fishing within driving distance of their home.   Ted 
enjoys computers, riding his Gold Wing and model 
railroading.  Rickie enjoys family history,  quilting, 
machine embroidery, and all kinds of crafting. 
We hope you enjoy the photos of the globes Rickie recently made.  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Welcome to my rainy day kitchen ...

This is the view from my kitchen window
It is an overcast and rainy day.  Me and the dogs are keeping busy inside.  As you can see I have plenty of kitchen help. 

That view of the hills and mangos above is what I see from my kitchen sink... not a bad view from a scullery, heh?  I can wash dishes and lose myself in the beauty of the day.

My kitchen is on the 3rd floor - a long way to carry groceries but worth it. Wally built me an electric lift for the really heavy loads.

This is where we eat.  The veranda is open to the outside with lots of plants and herbs, a thoroughfare for butterflies and hummingbirds and always a breeze from the mountains behind us or the ocean in front.

It's like living in a tree-top only on a day like today it's nice and dry. 

Wally built the house after we married. Mostly my job was to take care of him while he worked.  The kitchen moved from room to room until we got to the roof and that's where we wanted it to stay.  It has a panoramic view of mountains and the Pacific.  He gave me to the best kitchen ever - a kitchen I hate to leave.  Pretty smart guy. 

Front view from the veranda - the village of Aticama and the Bay of Matanchen.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Meet Kevin...

Okay, it's not a common name for a dog.  And it's not a name that ends in "-ie" like ALL our other rescued dogs.  And this makes 8...  NOW my son says I've got a problem... I know, I know.  He can't reconcile the mom with white furniture to the mom with a crazy amount of dogs.

But, my excuses are you have to live here to understand.  It's a harsh world.  Also, I have a husband who will NOT turn away from suffering no matter how inconvenient or gross or what variety of life form.  He is my shining hero. I just follow  -  mostly fearfully and reluctantly.  I want to turn my face away but then I watch him and I want to help and that's how it happens that we take home another ragamuffin... named Kevin.  

I never regret it.

Another hero, Joan Chittister says, "Everyday the suffering of the world look to the secure of the world to save them from even more disaster. It is not our job to work miracles but it is our task to try."  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Another start...

Well, it's been a year since we last blogged and like many areas where one lags the best thing to do is just start again.

I feel inspired to pick up on the blog because my sister and I spent the first week of June with my dad's wife and her family...our crazy, fun family! I really love and enjoy these folks and I want to keep growing up along side them. This is one way I hope to do that.

There are other folks who are important to us in addition to our families. There are friends, some who may not realize how much a part of our ordinary days they are, how alive they are in our thoughts, how affection can keep growing despite the time and distance.

It's important to maintain these connections because in the REAL economy it is people and a shared history that make us live richly.  The reason for slow living is to savor and nurture what is truly important and learn from it.

I had a realization while I was with my family:  they knew a different man than I knew most of my life.  The one they knew was a happy man. I think that Dad was able to become more of himself with Evelyne, his wife.  I can recognize that because it's true for me with Wally.  Love and acceptance is a powerful and liberating force and it can bring out the best in us so we can grow.  Evelyne is abundant in that department and so it is like good medicine to be around her.  Her kids, my sisters and brother and their mates are made of the same generous open-hearted material.  We had fun doing everything together, teasing and laughing the whole time and when it was over I came home with a brimming-to-the-top heart.  That's how my dad enjoyed his years and thrived with them and lucky for me I got to witness it and be a part of it.

So, it is with a big, fat, thankful heart that we blog again...