Sunday, November 30, 2008

Gratitude, A Soul Coming Home To Roost, and The Arrow That Flies Swift and Far...

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

~ Melody Beattie ~

This Thanksgiving weekend has been full of grace, peace, a deep understanding, and a coming to terms with that with which I must. I'd like to share some of what I wrote to 2 different friends this morning who had written to me out of their concern for me because of Henry's absence. To one I wrote...

"I'm hanging in. It's so hard without Henry because he was the one animal in this house who talked a blue streak, sang, called all the animals by name, ALL of them, and was my constant companion in a very intimate sweet way for over 10 years. It's SO quiet here now. It's heartbreaking and it was 3 weeks on Saturday and, while I'm not one to ever give up hope, it's in God's hands now and I have to begin to let go because, finally, I have 11 other animals here who need me, I have my 3 children and their husbands, fiancees, partners, my grandchild, my dying mother and on and on. And I have a very good life, a simple life, a quiet and loving life filled with grace. It does not serve God to turn a blind eye on all of one's blessings in a time of grief. In the end, I think that's what really heals."

To another very dear friend I wrote...

"Thanks so much sweetie. I have been having a very quiet few days. We had a lovely family Thanksgiving. My heart was so open and soft. I feel I've had a sign and while very sad it's made me more at peace. I think, perhaps, you are one of the few people who would understand.

I prayed for a sign, any kind of sign, to let me know if he had crossed the rainbow bridge and wasn't coming back for sure. The day he left, I put 2 little things on my necklace, a long silver snake chain with a beautiful carving of Quan Yin that I never take off, and on it I added a medal of St. Francis, and a coral cross to cover a cross section of my belief systems. Well, I've been wearing them ever since. In the shower, everywhere. There was no reason for any of them to fall off unless one or the other of them got caught on something, which they didn't. Yesterday I prayed for that sign. As I came in from taking the dogs out, the St. Francis medal was on the floor, by the door, exactly where Henry flew out. I shuddered and teared up. I am a deep devotee of St. Francis, for he so loved the animals. It felt like a sign. It felt like I was being told that he wasn't coming back but that all is well. It took me quite by surprise and I'm still coming to terms with it, but so it feels.

... So much love and compassion have been shown me, so much kindness. It's because of this I realize, in the midst of everything, that in the middle of a terrible loss, if we can still leave our heart open and allow the love and many small kindnesses in, and feel deep gratitude for all that we do have, we are healed and able to move forward, stronger, and even more at peace.

The verse that keeps coming to me is one I know that you know. It's from Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet...

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

'Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.'

This piece from Gibran speaks so strongly to my feelings for Henry right now. I am deeply saddened and oddly at peace. He is the arrow that went swift and far..."

And so whether St. Francis was telling me that he is gone forever, or he will return, through that door, once again, he has given me a kind of peace that I needed badly. It is out of my hands. Henry came through me, not to me. I did not own him. He graced me with his presence. And if it is meant to be, he will return. For now, I walk on, back into my life, and thank God and all that I hold holy for all that I have, all of my many blessings, all of the dear people, family, friends, and new friends met in this mysterious, marvelous place called The Internet, who have become very dear indeed.

Today I will be giving out the first award to the blog that has signed onto the list of the Compassionate Living Blogs. As the weeks and months go along, some of my choices will seem odd to you, perhaps, as we think of works of compassion as feeding the hungry, clothing the poor and needy, caring for the young and the old, and so many other things come to mind when we first think of compassion. But it is so much more than that.

Compassion is a word that encompasses so much more than I ever knew and have only, in these last years, begun to realize. A photographer, caring deeply about his or her subject, is showing a deep love and appreciation for the beauty before them. An artist molds clay or spins yarns and weaves tapestries and dreams and more with their holy hands. Yes, art is holy, and it is compassionate. It cannot be done quickly, and it honors everything on this earth. Even "dumpster divers" retrieving pieces of things others have thrown out and making of them something new are doing the holy work of honoring those things which have existed and served and now have been cast away. They, too, still have their purpose, in the eyes of the artist.

Compassion is the fortitude of parents going out every day to a job they perhaps don't like but do so that they may care for and feed their families. Time, our most precious commodity in terms of the measured space of being a living being on this planet, time, given freely to others, is an act of great compassion, as is solitude and silence, and meditation, the time in which we give thanks and come to a peaceful calm that lives inside of us but is too often forgotten, a grace that keeps us going and growing in the world.

Even blogs that are humorous might be viewed as compassionate if the humor is heartfelt and in good spirit. If you take the time, you can expand the definition of compassion out further and further, like the concentric circles that form and travel out and out and out when we throw a pebble in a pond. There are so many ways to open our heart to others. It will be in this spirit, wide and deep, that I will carry inside of me as I peruse the blogs on the Compassionate Blogs List. If you would like to sign up simply click the banner at the top of this column to go to the new blog that holds the info and sign-up list for the blogs who wish to be considered. I will tell you that any that have been sent in that are inappropriate will be taken down quietly and without making a big deal of it, but they will be taken down. My goal, with this list, is to gather together and celebrate those who live their lives with loving-kindness at their core, and share it freely through their blogs with the world. Blogs have become a powerful force in the world today, and the people who take time to do beautiful blogs that lift the hearts and spirits of others deserve attention. Too, the list itself will provide a great source of material that you may find interesting, healing, or that might bring you delight. To bring joy into someone's life is a powerful act of compassion too. I will put the award up tonight on this blog, the Compassionate Living Links blog, and next week, the winner will be the first one that will go on the Dragonfly Cottage website, where they will remain permanently so that others may find, and revel in, their work. They will stay on that page unless or until their blogs are no longer active. But the link will go up late this evening, for today I will carefully peruse all that links that are there.

And so I keep myself busy, I take time to feel gratitude and thanksgiving, and I thank God for all that I have, and all that I am, an imperfect-perfect, wabi sabi woman with a heart full of love.

May you be blessed, and at peace, and may you always walk with the knowledge that, as Julian of Norwich wrote in the 11th century.... "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all many of things shall be well." And so they shall.

With deep, heartfelt love,

Friday, November 21, 2008

Preparing For A Homemade, Handmade Christmas... AND, What Color Is YOUR Christmas?

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:
presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.

~ Burton Hillis

Christmas is not as much about opening
our presents as opening our hearts.

~ Janice Maeditere

I wish we could put up some of the Christmas
spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.

~ Harlan Miller

The holiday time is, once again, upon us. Next week is Thanksgiving, and following fast on it's heels is Christmas. Christmas has always been a beloved holiday for me and I have the joy of a child around the whole season. However, a decade ago my decades long marriage ended and my children were fast growing and going off into their own lives, which, of course, is as it should be. In the years that followed Christmas became a hard, sad time for me, and a deep worry over money, and I would plan to make gifts and never have time to finish them, and I was filled with panic and in tears. As the holidays approached I began to feel a sense of dread. Well, no more. Christmas is only a scary time if you buy into the commercial aspects of Christmas and set yourself to standards that are not your own, but those of the world around you, those who will worry for some time after the holidays about how they will pay for what they overspent on the holiday. Now, if you have the money to spend, good for you, but if you don't, never fear, handmade, and homemade, and fun is here.

Three headbands I knitted very
quickly a few Christmases ago.
They are wide because they are
meant to cover the ears in the
wintery cold weather. Quick to
make and the girls loved them.

This year, with the economy putting so many in such a hard place, Christmas has become scarier than ever. I won't do that to myself or to my family. I wrote them each an e-mail that said that this year we should have a low-key Christmas full of love, but that the gifts should be homemade, handmade, or even regifted. I have many skills and the tools and supplies to make many gifts. We can make cookies or jelly or other homemade goods (And I am finding, more and more, that people are appreciating homemade, homespun, thoughtful gifts made of love, with our own hands that so often mean more than store-bought, expensive gifts. At least so I believe and so this is the way I choose to show my love through gifts.)

A little knitted pouch to
carry cell phone around
and be hands free. Great
for the car too. I also
tucked in the earphones
so I could do anything
inlcuding doing dishes
or crocheting while
talking on the phone...

So what, you ask, might you do? What can you cook, bake, or even package up, really pretty, a variety of ingredients for a loved one to make something else later on? We often get so many cookies and baked goods at Christmas we are inundated and then in January there is a sinking spell. What about a jar of jam and box of scone mix to open up in January? And I bet that there is not a person reading this that cannot make something! One of the most wonderful suggestions, for my children, would be pictures of their families. My son, and his then girlfriend did something a few years ago that I thought was adorable. They got a cheap frame (You can make a frame in any number of fun ways as well -- how about cutting and gluing together a couple of layers of heavy cardboard covered with fabric, felt is great -- it doesn't need sewing and doesn't unravel, and you can decorate with anything!), they put a picture of themselves in it, and then decorated the frame by gluing on lots of colorful buttons. I adore it! What about popcorn balls, candied apples, or the ever popular rice crispies squares with something Christmasy added in (sprinkles, M&M's, now in Christmasy colors, oh, so many things...). And guys, I bet you know how to make a lot of things in your shop if you have one, something with wood, or something from nature. Go out and cut greens and make a Christmas wreath, delivered fresh and early! Get the kids to help you make little home-made ornaments!

A little handmade doll made from recycled baby overalls bought at a yardsale. Soft corduroy, washed, and stuffed with other old clothes. Not embellished so safe for babies, but imagine what great dog or cat toys you could make like this, maybe tucking a little catnip in for a kitty...

And there are those of us who are artists that can make all manner of fun things. AND don't attempt BIG projects that will set you up for a nervous breakdown when the holiday draws near and you still have 10 things to finish with no hope of time enough to do it. Think of small things. And making things realistically small means that you don't end up giving I.O.U.'s so you can finish them later, only to (red cheeks) never finish them anyway (ahem)... Sigh...

A scarf can be knitted very
quickly one evening while
watching tv and is a great
winter gift!

Re-gifting. Don't knock it. How many nice things have you bought and never used? Maybe even on e-bay, or in a store? These things make wonderful gifts. Take cuttings now from favorite indoor plants and make little starter plants for Christmas. I did this for my eldest daughter a few years ago with a jasmine plant and she loved it. How many books are sitting on your shelves that you bought with good intent but never even cracked open? Cookbooks, garden books, craft books, novels, whatever. Make homemade journals. Kids notebooks, those little spotted ones with heavy cardboard covers we used as children and are still going strong today. They are cheap and you can easily decorate them a hundred different ways. You can make them guy oriented or feminine. Let your imagination SOAR! And further, feel free to send YOUR ideas in in the comments section after this post! We can all help one another through the holidays!

Lastly, and I have repeated this story many times over the years. I first heard this nearly 2 decades ago from a very dear friend whom I have sadly lost contact with over the years, but it has stuck with me forever because I think it's GENIUS! Imagine this. First of all, a holiday gift exchange rather than buying something for everybody helps if money and time are really tight. Barring that, if you want to give inexpensive gifts and make it fun, here's what my friend did...

If you have time and not too many gifts to make, a shawl is always a wonderful gift to snuggle up in on cold winter nights. This is one I made for my dear mother a few years back. You can also make smaller ones that just wrap around neck and shoulders, and the easiest thing to do is to do up a good size square that can be folded in half in a triangular fashion.

Brook and her friends would get together, draw names, and then each year they drew a color. Say it was BLUE. They set the limit at $5 and had to buy as much as they possibly could for $5 and ALL of the gifts had to be BLUE that year. I think a nice alternative, since everybody has a different favorite color, is that when you put your name on a little slip of paper for the drawing, you put your favorite color, so all your little gifts would be your favorite color. And they took great fun and delight in seeing how many things they could find, tiny things, in drugstores (tiny blue hair clips, cheap blue pens, cheap cheap cheap sparkly blue fingernail polish...), consignment shops, flea markets, wherever, (and these days we have Dollar stores everywhere, a font of great fun and surprises CHEAP!), like a scavenger hunt, finding the little items and wrapping them up in -- of course -- the person's favorite color paper (or maybe an old scarf that color, or cut up old clothing you won't wear anymore but it makes fabulous gift wrap!).

A picture of yourself wearing your
favorite flamingo light necklace
will not soon be forgotten!

Now, if you're not doing an exchange and have several people to buy for, even those $5's worth of items can add up so just MAKE the little things in that color. What about PURPLE Christmas cookies? Old salt and pepper shakers that have lost a mate make perfect little flower bottles for the kitchen windowsill for wildflowers. And SAVE all the little jars things come in through the year for these tiny gifts. And I can't stress enough, SHOP AT YOUR OWN HOUSE. You will find so many things it will be positively shocking. An unopened package of incense or never used candles. Again, if you sew, wash and dry an old pillow and cut up some of your old clothing that no longer fits or has a rip or tear somewhere and make a pillowcase for a pillow or two for throw pillows. My middle daughter made us all pillows one year and I still treasure it! Start looking around your house with a new eye... "What could I use THAT for? What might I turn THAT into?" What about cleaning and painting an old light shade? The possibilities are endless.

A wind-up
chicken is
a much
gift than
rocks in
sock of
who has
been a
bad boy
or girl!

So this is how I plan to prepare for Christmas, and in the light of my hard lessons and tender days, to be on the hunt or making something for someone I love will make all the difference. That's what I intend to do.

I knitted up this pouch a few years ago. A large single pouch sewn down the middle and covered with vintage buttons, with the handle color inspired by the buttons. A double pouch is a great idea. Glasses on one side and little note-pad and pen on the other, great for nature walks. Or cell phone in one side and sunglasses in the other, or whatever!

And if you don't celebrate Christmas, use these ideas for your own holiday if gift giving is involved. And have a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving next week...

Happy Holidays, Merry Everything...


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oh, That I May Have The Courage Of A Bird... and People's Reactions To Loss...

Birds of all kinds are full of courage. Have you not
seen the little Robin chase a cat? An Eagle will
keep a man away from the nest. A cock will even
attack a Lion.

~ John Audubon ~

Oh, that I may have the courage of a bird... I read this quote this morning and was shaken by it. While I am a quivering mess, Henry may be soaring through the skies, or holding up quite well with someone who has found him. He may have flown many miles before landing, and a good soul may have taken him in, being very good to him, and at a loss as to how to find his owner. I imagine Henry is holding up quite well, far better than I.

I have my moments when I feel strong, when faith wins out, when a kind note comes, prayers, support from unexpected places. Everything I have written here has been absolutely from my heart. In many ways I do have a deep strength and inner faith that hold me up. In other ways I am fragile and the thought of going on without this bird I love so well is almost unbearable. But of course I will go on, for many reasons, not the least of which is to honor Henry and all that he is. If we are reunited the joy will surpass any words that I, a writer, might come up with. Oh what a glorious day. No money, nothing, could top having my little grey boy back on my shoulder, giving me a kiss. But I must equal the courageous spirit that he must have during this time. I must hold him up in spirit to give him strength as he is surely sending me his own.

One of the things that I have thought much about, these last twelve days, since Henry went missing, has been to examine grief, loss, and people's reaction to them. My mother is dying of cancer. My beloved grey parrot has just flown away, and his return is uncertain. A dear friend lost a nephew last spring, he was murdered, and people lose loved ones, human and animal everyday.

People, including myself, are well intentioned and try their best to say the right thing. Would I put the loss of my bird and my mother in the same category? No, because they can't possibly be. The circumstances surrounding them and in my daily life are different. People have said to me, "Well, be glad it wasn't one of your children." Well of course I'm glad it wasn't one of my children. Nothing worse could happen to me. But in this moment, it is my beloved bird, the one who has been my constant companion for more than a decade, the one with whom I have woken each morning, fed and cared for, kissed and cuddled when there was no human here. For years. To say that a loss such as this is less than another kind of loss is to miss the point. Loss is loss, and in the moment, at the very time of the loss, words of kindness, help, support, prayers offered, mean far more than trying to cheer one up by suggesting that their loss isn't somehow as bad as another's.

How very often I have said to someone, in a heartfelt way, and meaning it deeply, "I am so sorry for your loss," without beginning to understand what that loss means to them. I am feeling so tender just now. I want to open my arms and my heart to everyone who has ever lost anyone or anything. We grieve, we pray, we hope for a good outcome, we steel ourselves for the worst. I have not given up hope but even now, the absence of his presence has created an enormous hole in the tapestry of my life.

If Henry were here he would be talking and singing and making me laugh and getting into mischief and making a mess and delighting me and sitting on my shoulder, eating right off my plate. There are no words that can blanket that kind of loss, and nothing that can fill that void. I have to believe that my boy will be back, but his absence now is causing me to examine many things, and see what I am made of. I am stronger than I knew.

I am afraid, I am sad, I am grieving and have at times wailed, calling out for him. I am also still, and silent, and move tenderly through my days caring for my 11 other animals, kissing noses and beaks, pressing my nose to the glass to commune with Vincent the beta fish, and I will babysit my precious grandson this afternoon, and hold him tight in my arms and read him a story, and kiss his fluffy, curly blond hair. And when my daughter gets home I will hug her tight and thank God that she is well, that my family is well. I will thank God for all that I have, which is much. I will try my very best to have the courage of the robin, the eagle, the rooster...

As I just finished typing the last few words I had to smile. Recently I read a quote that I have shared with a dear friend and we have repeated it back and forth to one another under different circumstances. It is brief, it is enigmatic, it is powerful.

The quote was attributed to the character Yoda in the Star Wars movies. It is:

"Do, or don't do. There is no try."

And so for Henry, for myself, for my family and loved ones, for everyone that has ever lost anyone or anything I will not try, I will be as courageous as the robin, the eagle, the rooster, and Henry himself, wherever he is at this moment. There is no try. And so, I carry on.

May we all have the strength to find that courage...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Henry's Poster, and A Lovely Award From My Dear Friend Shinade...

Please only use the above phone # with legitimate info.
about Henry. The number is being monitored. There is
a reward offered for his safe return.

As the days go on and my heart breaks a little more each day, I am simply in awe of the wonderful people and organizations worldwide that are looking for Henry. The above is the poster from "911 Parrot Alert," an incredible organization who has reunited parrots and their owners from as far as 2000 miles away after 7 months. They don't give up! And imagine my surprise when looking up African Grey parrots to find the above ad with them in the top 3 spots in Google's Search engine! Henry is advertised in every parrot hotline internationally or is in the process of being listed. Searching efforts are extensive. Meditate on that little bird and imagine him sitting on my shoulder, rubbing his cheek against mine, and saying in his funny little voice that sounds very like my own, "I love you mommy," because surely he would be on my shoulder saying that to me right now. Ads continue, help comes from everywhere and I am deeply touched, and my heart aches and tears constantly well up in my eyes. God, please bring my boy home.

In the midst of all of this I was sent an award from my dear friend Shinade. She is such a beautiful spirit and you can click on the ad to go to her wonderful website. My deepest thanks, hugs, and love go out to Shinade and all of the other wonderful readers and supporters who are helping me through this terrible time. I am humbled by your beautiful spirits.

Shinade, my love, you made my day. As have so many of you, too many to name here, you know who you are, and others can see you in the comments section here. I'm sorry I can't answer each comment individually, but know that you are in my heart and in my prayers with warm loving thanks going out in every direction.

Blessings and Love to One and All,

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Little Note Of Clarification For People About My Blogs...

Dear Ones,

I have been receiving many notes of kind concern, not just about my dear Henry, who has yet to return (We haven't given up hope and are still making many efforts, so your continued prayers are most welcome...), and also some confusion over what has become of my blogs.

First of all THIS is the same blog you've been reading if you have been following, "Magic and Moments at Dragonfly Cottage." I simply changed the name to better fit what my heart required, and it is more representative of my work, my life, and myself at this juncture. I left a domain forwarding set-up so if someone went to the old address they would be forwarded here and not lost, but I bought the url for this one,, and it points to the blogspot address: I didn't want to lose people in the process.

Too, my other two blogs, "Art For Joy," and "Words, Words, Words - A Writer's Journey," I did delete. I was doing too much juggling with my mother's nearing the end of her battle with cancer, and when Henry disappeared the heart went right out of me. I just can't keep up with so much now. And more importantly, my life is all of a piece. The woman, Maitri; my animal companions and work here at Dragonfly Cottage; the book I am writing about my life here; my work as a writer and fiber artist and artist in general; my garden and more are all of a piece. Separating them out over three blogs was only further fragmenting me at a time I need to pull all of my parts and pieces together to handle what lies ahead.

Nothing will be lost, as I will now use this one blog for everything. Life at Dragonfly Cottage is all of the above. So you will hear about my writing and my art, the pugs and the parrots, big Moe my sweet old black dog, and never forget tiny golden Vincent, the beta fish. You will see, somewhere down the road, the move from this place to more spacious quarters as Dragonfly Cottage (which is wherever I am!) moves household to allow more room for myself, my work and my critters, and certainly you will be kept abreast of the search for my precious little Henry. Your thoughts, prayers, and heartfelt notes have been seeing me through and I just can't thank you enough.

I am sending you all warm regards, blessings in abundance, and thank yous too numerous to count for all of the loving support you have shown me. So no, as several dear people have written to me, we have not disappeared, just changed shape and form and gathered our skirts in around us so that we could all be in one place, and I can take a deep breath and settle a little and not feel that I am straddling so many things at once that I will likely topple over on my head.

I thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your continued prayers and support. As the great Winston Churchill said, "Never give in, never give in, never give," and I certainly shall not.

With Love,

Maitri, and my Henry, who surely must be on his way home somehow...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Don't Quit ~ The Silver Tint of the Clouds of Doubt...

Don't Quit...

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow,
Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

~ Anonymous ~

I have known this passage since I was young. It comes into my life just when I need it and then drifts off into the ethers again. It has just returned. Late yesterday evening fragments were floating in my foggy mind, but this morning, with the rising of the sun, it all came clear.

Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

There is the tendency, when we come upon hard times, to throw in the towel, to be frozen in time, to curl back into ourselves, in the fetal position, as if we were trying to climb back into the womb, but there is no going backward, and surviving.

Don't give up when the pace seems slow.

Waiting. Waiting for a loved one who has been suffering for far too long, and is struggling. Waiting, and not knowing. Watching a dream take flight as our heart leaves our body with the one flying toward the horizon and disappears and we try desperately to hold on like the tail of a kite. Waiting. Everything in slow motion, too slow. This is the time when it is easy to give up, to numb out, to want to rush through that which must move at the speed of molasses, to curl in upon ourselves in the fetal position and rock ourselves into a deep sleep. But then a moment comes when there is a sea-change. Something inside ourselves turns in another direction. It is possible not to give up, while still moving forward.

I have not been able to do my fiber work since Henry disappeared. I have been working on very large projects and they were too overwhelming to take up. But stasis does not serve either. Today I picked up a lovely little spoolknitter that my dear friend Noreen made, and I started spooling a cord that will be wonderful for a necklace. Baby steps, but steps, moving forward, one step at a time.

And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far...

How often have we been ready to give up on someone or something only to find that if we stayed the course we would find an answer, just around the corner. I believe that is where the saying, "It is darkest before the dawn," came from. I have found myself sitting, rocking in the dark, waiting for the break of day when the wild birds gather at the feeders, thinking that maybe if Henry was still in the area he would come to eat. With no voice due to this terrible chest cold I have I have whispered his name on the wind, hoping that he would hear me, and finally I must come in and start the day. There are five other parrots waiting for their breakfast and fresh water. The dogs are out, in, have their breakfast, go out again, come in again, and as they finish the parrots have eaten and are splashing and bathing. I make my coffee, the sun is brighter now, higher in the sky. I scan the horizon, and then I sit down with my coffee and start to work.

So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

No, I don't lose faith and I don't give up. I do see that silver lining in the clouds and know that there are many good things to come, despite everything. I'll pick up my spoolknitter and the white/pink/fuschia cotton yarn will make a lovely cord. There is always smallwork that might be done and once that energy is going it warms us up to keep the forward momentum to get through the rest of the day. So no, don't quit, I tell myself, and I give myself a little nudge, and I keep rolling along.

Dont quit when life sends you a hard lesson. Look at the clouds. There are many answers there...


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Keeping The Faith, and Helping Each Other When We Stumble...

It helps, I think, to consider ourselves on a very long journey: the main thing is to keep to the faith, to endure, to help each other when we stumble or tire, to weep and press on.
~ Mary Richards ~

What a journey these last few days have been, and they are far from over, but somewhere between last night and this morning a kind of calm came over me. It's that place where you have cried so many tears you can cry no more, where everything that can be done has been done far and wide, and finally, while not ever, certainly, giving up, we come to a crossroads when the sacred sanctity of that still small voice within speaks to us, if we have a heart that will hear. I want Henry back with everything in me, and I may be blessed with his return. Prayer chains are going on all over the world for this little grey bird that over a decade has won the hearts of so many, and I thank everyone. It is the love, the prayers, the support and kindness, the generosity of my nearest and dearest and others far away who have gone above and beyond to get the word out in every way imaginable way and then some, that has lifted me up, not just through their actions, but through the compassionate grace and kindness they have shown me. "Thank you," doesn't suffice, but they are the only words I can think to say at this point, and they are delivered with all the love a heart can hold.

It is a funny thing that happens at a time like this. Amidst the grief, the shock, the knife-like pain that seems to slice you into pieces, come rays of light that allow a new kind of vision to emerge. Alongside the searching, the hoping, and the praying you become keenly aware of how much you are loved -- because we forget -- and you are touched by people who don't even know you in ways that move you so deeply you are changed
forever. Along with that you become keenly aware of the preciousness of all that you have, and you hold it dear. There are 11 other animals in this little cottage that need me. I have loved them tenderly, and gone to an even deeper level of awareness of the sacred gifts they are in my life. And that they are dependent on me also moves me through the days when I haven't felt like moving at all. I have become keenly aware of everything in my surroundings. This morning I watered all of the plants in the house with special care. I have been made acutely aware of how very blessed I am, and if I am graced by Henry's presence once more, it will be a richer atmosphere, a place where he is held even dearer than ever before, as they all will. Sometimes life jolts us out of our complacency and a kind of living stupor, going through the days taking things, precious things, for granted. As this electric current burns a path through our body, opening everything up, so much is there that spills out that we didn't know was there or didn't take time to see, and as we gather it all up in our arms we are given the opportunity to give thanks and praise for all that we can, and expand our world with more and more love, we can take more care to reach out to others as the dear people who have reached out to us have, awakening the human connection we all have, but in this fragmented world often forget.

I am remembering, now, a quote that I read recently by Viktor Frankl. Born in 1905, died 1997, he was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and a Holocaust survivor. When I read this quote it gave me great food for thought. Little did I know that, so very soon, it would have such deep relevance to me. He wrote...

"Whether we grow from this, or whether we die from this, is up to us."

As a Holocaust survivor he knew very well the depth of this lesson. And when I use it, I am not by any stretch entertaining the possibility that Henry won't return, but the time lived from here to there is a very critical time in my own soul development and in what I carry forward with me in life. There are many lessons I am learning through this, many awakenings, small and large, that will stand me in good stead no matter the outcome. I hope for the best, I pray for the best, but still I must go on every day from here to there and beyond, caring, ever more tenderly, for those who love and rely on me, as well as those I have never met and will never meet. Pain and suffering can harden or destroy us, it can also open us and soften us. My way is the latter, and my heart expands, exponentially, with each passing moment, as e-mails, prayers, and little kindnesses arrive.

I am being given so much. I am now more determined to give as as much as I possibly can within the ever-expanding confines of my own life. Little kindnesses, a tender word, a hand held, a warm meal taken, flowers brought, and most importantly, one's presence are things that we dismiss as small and unimportant. Let me tell you, from where I'm sitting right now they are huger than the solar system. They are the fabric of life, what holds it together. I, a weaver, one who creates large canvases of fiber, color, and texture, will now weave into my life all of the many things that have been given and done for me in these last days, so that I might not ever forget, and so that I will pass them on.

While I pray for the safe return of my little grey feathered man, and thank all of you who have been so kind, many in ways I will likely never know, I will continue to keep the faith, always, I never give up hope. Emily Dickinson said it best of all...

Hope is the thing with feathers --
that perches in the soul --
that sings the tune without the words
and never stops at all.

I won't stop Henry. I'm here waiting for you, now, always.

With Deep Tender Affection and Gratitude,


Sunday, November 9, 2008


Further updates will be in the right-hand column in the Twitter Notes. But continued prayers for Henry's well-being, wherever he is, mean a lot and if you want to leave a message leave it in the comments for this post and I will receive them. I thank you all for your outpouring of prayers, love and support.

With tender love, to my Henry, to the world...

My Beloved Grey Parrot Henry, 10 1/2 yrs.
old, handraised by me from a tiny featherless
baby, and my heart and soul...

This is a very brief post. I have been very sick this weekend and in the midst of it all yesterday afternoon, in the process of getting the dogs out, my beloved African Grey Parrot, Henry, who is my heart, soul, and constant companion, flew out the door for the first time in his life. He is disoriented and afraid, all authorities and animal shelters, etc have been notified and people are looking for him, but PLEASE, I need your prayers. I am at the breaking point with my mother coming so close to the end, and Henry is my beloved boy who keeps me together, safe and sane.

I beg you to pray for his safe return. Nothing else matters to me right now.

Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart.


UPDATE: Monday, November 10, 2008

As of yet Henry has not been found but people are out in full force, posters everywhere, every imaginable person contacted, more today, and they are airing it on the radio on 3 stations today. We keep on keeping on, and I cannot begin to thank you all enough for your prayers, support, and good wishes. At this very difficult time it means more than you know, but I believe with my whole heart that my boy will come home. I will accept nothing else. Keep the prayer brigade going. You all are some of my greatest team members. Think: "Team Henry!"

Love and Blessings to All. I will continue to keep you posted....

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I dwell in possibility.

~ Emily Dickinson ~

Some days
one needs to hide

from possibility.

~ Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser ~
BRAIDED CREEK: A Conversation in Poetry

Tonight I am reading a very slim volume of poems no longer than haikus that have a rather extraordinary story behind them. And even further, this one particular poem, a whisper of a thought, took me back through time to one of my other favorite writers, Emily Dickinson, who, while having written, seemingly, the polar opposite of the second quoted verse, somehow came together in just the right way to make sense of my world tonight.

I have to say a few words about Braided Creek. This is simply a stunning and extraordinary book, in many ways, but the thing that I love is that the poems are a dialogue, via letters, between writers Jim Harrison and his friend Ted Kooser after Kooser was diagnosed with cancer. They chose not to sign any of the poems. On the back of the book the publisher writes:

"When asked about attributions for the individual poems, one of them replied, 'Everyone gets tired of this continuing cult of the personality ... This book is an assertion of poetry and against credentials."

I found that simply stunning. In a world where celebrity is a cult of chaos and often catastrophe, and yet an addiction like a drug, from troubled families and aging stars on reality shows, to "superstars," to young people wanting to just grow up to be famous for anything, two gifted poets quietly wrote back and forth to one another and published this little volume without signing a single poem. I find this deeply moving, and heartening somehow too. One can live to both dwell in possibility, and hide from it. Emily did it. Blushing to put myself in the same paragraph as these three gifted writers, I will tell you that I have found these seemingly opposite thoughts to be, not only present, but necessary, in my own life.

Living at a crossroads, any crossroads, when the life you are living is about to change radically and you have yet to cross the threshold, you are in a position of both needing to plan for the time ahead (... dwelling in possibility.) and needing to both rest and shore yourself up for the changes to come at the same time. Some days I am filled with hopes and dreams and projections and plans for my future. In the next moment I am terrified of what lies ahead and I need to pull back, like a turtle in it's shell, and just hide and be. (... hiding from possibility.) It reminds me of the old saying, "Two steps forward and one step back." The step back is every bit as necessary as the steps forward. The steps forward are when we are taking great leaps in our imagination, believing everything possible, reaching for the stars. The step back is, not the quashing of dreams, but perhaps, better put, the balancing of the dreams with the life one has.

When I say "the life one has," I am not saying that in a derogatory or demeaning way, nor one devoid of potent possibility abundant. I am saying that in a realistic way. I am saying to myself that yes, there are many possibilities for me, and there will be many changes, and some are very exciting, and some, yes, scary. But while part of me is planning a trip to the moon, another part of me has to keep my feet on the ground. If my feet aren't planted squarely on this terra firma, I will topple over on my head. That's when it's time to stop gazing at rainbows and be very quiet.

It all comes down to -- as it always does -- the need to live in the moment. No one can do it all the time, or only a rare few in history ever have and I have an idea that perhaps, if only for a second, their mind wandered. In the midst of "dwelling in possibility" I run headlong into a full-blown panic attack, one of my issues, and have to reign in the galloping horses that are taking me faster than I am able to go. Everything will happen in due time. It needn't all happen at once. And in midlife I can now savor the almost unseen forces that are moving me across the threshold from one stage of life to another. When I try to make things happen, I end up with a mess and a muddle, not to mention sleepless nights and almost unmanageable terrors. And then there comes a day when unseen forces seem to move me foreward without my realizing it until some time later.

Just a couple of days ago I was telling one of my dearest friends that a very odd thing was happening to me that I didn't know how to explain. It is as though for some time I have been fighting my own life -- trying to find things that couldn't be found, starting projects that would not come to fruition, trying, trying, trying until I found myself in a state of collapse and despair, huddled in a chair, unable to move.

In the past week I have found myself, without planning or trying, walking into rooms and just putting my hand on things I have looked for for months, I have done things that long needed doing, effortlessly. I have begun projects that I am carrying through, and all of a sudden I realized that this was happening and found myself almost in shock, there were no words, it was unconscious, there was only the realization that life had knocked me off the lily pad and was moving me downstream again. I am preparing. For what? you ask. I haven't a clue. Oh, I could tell you some of the facts, a few details, but they don't matter. What matters is that we needn't worry so much about what to do, and when to do it, and what if this happens, and what if that doesn't happen, because Life will happen, and then it will all be decided for us. Then we will deal with whatever we need dealing with, and all of the resources needed to move through that phase, when it comes, will be at hand, just like this somewhat peculiarly surprising passage I am traversing now.

One day I got off the phone hysterical over what felt like an unimaginable heartbreaking unexpected jolt. The next day I pulled back into myself and became very quiet. The next morning I got up and without giving a thought to anything I might do or not do, I simply started moving swiftly downstream. I am living my life. It is as simple as that. All of a sudden I am reminded of the beautiful Sanskrit writing...

Look well to this day, for it is life, the very life of life. In it lies all the realities and verities of existence: the bliss of growth, the glory of action, splendor of beauty. For yesterday is but a dream, and tomorrow only a vision. But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore, to this day, for it and it alone is life! Such is the salutation of the dawn.

Possibility exists. To dwell in it or hide from it matters little. Possibility is life. In the end I think the only thing that matters is that we recognize life for the gift that it is, and live each moment with as much grace, humility, love and kindness as we are able. More than anything, this is my goal.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thank You to dear Judy at "More Than Sew and So" for these three awards!

One of the things I most cherish in the blogging community are the dear friends that I've met and made, and truly, having found the wonderful blogs that I will cherish for some time to come, I am more than honored when I win awards for my blog. We dedicated bloggers all know the time and energy we put into these blogs that are so dear to our hearts. Judy's blog is wonderful and if you click any of the awards above they will take you directly to her blog.

In the spirit of giving back, and passing on the torch, I will list 10 blogs here that I love dearly and visit often. Some Judy already mentioned in her list so I won't repeat them, but to all the bloggers on Judy's list, kuddo's and blessings and love to ALL of you. You've brought me great joy!

Okay, so here is a list of some of the ones I hold very dear to my heart, and I'm sorry I can't mention all the blogs I love. There are simply too many to count!

And one last word, I don't do much in the way of taking ads or outside things. If you wonder why I have entrecard on my blog, I can tell you that it's not just about the increase in traffic to my blog, but I have met some of the most wonderful people with blogs that have touched me, changed me, people who have befriended me and offer so much to the world through their work that the world is a better place because they are here. I want to give a special word of thanks to Graham and all at Entrecard for all they do. It is a special world indeed.

Warm Regards & Deepest Blessings to All, and very special love, hugs, accolades, praise and thanks to the ten blogs listed below...

1) Margie and Edna's Basement

2) Random Ramblings

3) The Artist's Muse

4) The Painted Veil

5) A Second Cup

Kimmy Sharing Light

7) Kitchen Retro

8) Writing To Survive

9) Toltec Insights

The Sewing Mom

These blogs are fabulous, the bloggers who have created them wonderful people, and again, there are so many more I could have listed, but know all of you out there I appreciate your efforts and work so much. If you are reading this, my hat is off to you!



P.S. I have to add a very special thank you to my dear friend Sharon from "The Artist's Muse," for sending me the
Arte y Pico Award ..."that was originally created in June 2008 by Arte y Pico, the bi-lingual (Spanish/English) blog 'to honor artists who create, design, and inspire regardless of language or culture. It’s an international award for a global community of artist-bloggers, acknowledging that what we create helps make the world a finer place.' ” I am more than honored to accept this award. I send it out to all the dedicated bloggers who are trying to share their lives, their experience, and make a change for the better in the world today...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Corners ~ or ~ The Worlds We Build Around Us...

"The point of departure of reflections is the following: every corner in a house, every angle in a room, every inch of secluded space in which we like to hide, or withdraw into ourselves, is a symbol of solitude for the imagination; that is to say, it is the germ of a room, or of a house."

~ Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space ~

"Je suis l'espace où je suis."

("I am the space where I am.")

Noël Arnaud ~

I was perusing my bookshelves last night and I grasped this book up with such glee that I squealed with delight. I used to have my books in an order that made sense, but having moved many times in the last decade, I have books that I know are here, but God help me, it's a really wild treasure hunt to embark on the search and rescue mission necessary to find just the book that I am looking for. And then one day, one odd little day out of nowhere, I am standing there having just put in a load of wash or having done some other mundane task and I turn around and I am staring right at it. I don't believe for one moment that this sort of thing is an accident. We find the things we need in the right and proper time, and not when we think we need them.

Bachelard's books are such pure magic, a deep pool to drink from, you can never read them enough, and when you've read them several times they are the kind of books that you can simply flip through, meditating on marked passages, and be transported back to the first time you read the book, and where it took you. These are some of the most treasured books in my library and I have most of his books.

I would like to share with you a paragraph from the back of the book, the publisher's notes, to give you an idea of who Bachelard is and what marvelous books he wrote. This is on The Poetics of Space.

"In this illuminating and strikingly original work, philosopher Gaston Bachelard, considered by many to be the father of the new French critics, explores the philosophical significance of the various kinds of space that attract and concentrate the poetic imagination. He examines spaces of intimacy and immensity -- rooms, forests, shells, corners, closets -- and seeks to determine how the poetic image is apprehended, not by psychology or rationalism, but by recourse to a pure phenomenology that considers the onset of an image in individual consciousness. This requires us to go beyond our experience in time to attain the level of daydreams, where time ceases to quicken memory and space is everything."

~ The Orion Press, 1964 ~

Just let your mind roll these titles around and about the grey matter of your brain, and you will feel them permeate in a way books seldom do... The Poetics of Reverie: Childhood, Language, and the Cosmos; Psychoanalysis of Fire; Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter; Air and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Movement. Bachelard's books are literary, philosophical, and magic carpet rides into the imagination. And when I first read them, decades ago, it was as if a sigh of relief escaped my lips and my whole body went limp with relief. Here was someone, finally, who spoke my language. Here was someone who not only could understand one such as I, but for whom my little world would have made perfect sense. Here was a man I could have had a cup of tea with and not have to explain myself. We could simply be.

The reason this quote came to me today, not surprisingly, is that I have been thinking a lot about my physical space. I have lived here for just over 6 1/2 years, and in the next 6 months to a year I will be moving. If you've read my blog you read about the yellow house that I love. I am far too cramped now, and the new space would be delicious and would allow my whole being to expand to fill the space, and yet... and yet...

I was a little girl who grew up in a 4,000 square foot house, to the outside world a dream home, beautiful enough to be in any magazine, but around any corner might lurk danger for me, and if I had millions of dollars I'd never buy the kind of house I see here in our town, the 10,000 square foot houses that make no sense to me and frighten me a little. No, in my home, whether the 1,000 square feet I now live in, or the yellow house of my dreams with about 2 1/2 times that space, I have my nooks filled with the things around me, within an arm's reach, that I need to do my work and be happy. I would have these same cozy corners in the new house, even though it would be much bigger. I feel safer in small spaces. My back must always be to a wall, and I like it cool enough that I can throw one of my old vintage quilts over my lap. I don't feel so naked then.

Some years back when I had my small press, The Blue Hibiscus Press, through which I published a little 100 page publication, a quarterly, all on blue paper -- The Contemplative Way: Slowing Down In A Modern World ~ while I had a good sized home office, my actual workspace not only looked like, but was about as easy to get into, as the cockpit of an airplane. Once wedged in I was surrounded by my desk, 2 tables down each side, and shelves with supplies behind me. Room for reading and writing, the light table. The whole thing, while typed on a computer, was done by hand, cutting and pasting and making of the pages readable works of art, just the kind of thing I love to do, just the kind of thing I'm doing now. I would work well into the middle of the night and felt safe, surrounded by all the components of my little world, dogs lying near me, stars twinkling outside my windows like cut glass on midnight blue velvet, and the silence of the sleeping household, my husband and three children longsince asleep. I love those hours between midnight, and sunrise -- the weesmas, or wee small hours of the morning. Those hours are still precious to me, though I seldom work all night because my household of twelve animal companions demand that their needs be met, and are up early, and truly, if I didn't have to feed dogs and birds and fish, I might not get up at all!

Now, in my little cottage, I have a few work areas. My desk with my desktop computer, bookshelves to my left and behind me, a work table filled with supplies. Fiber and spindles and crochet hooks and knitting needles and looms all around me. My life is all of a piece, looking more like a crazy quilt than one with a beautiful, uniform design. And perhaps truth be told, my life looks a little like the old vintage quilts I collect, a little faded here and there with brilliant colors standing out amongst tattered spots, and beautiful stitching. Inotherwords, it is a life well lived, through the ups and the downs, the hard times and those filled with joy. And, worn soft with age, it is always the kind of thing I reach for first over and above the new and the brightly beautiful, like stepping into an old worn ratty pair of slippers because they feel so good while the ones you got for Christmas still sit new in the box in the bottom of your closet. I must keep my life safe at all costs to manage to move about my little world filled with a peaceful calm, and I have learned to do it quite well.

My other little corner, and I have written about it before, and even shown pictures, is my huge, overstuffed chair and giant ottoman. It was a pass-me-down from dear friends, just perfect for a roundish woman, fiber everywhere, a shelf of books, a pug or two, a big black dog on the floor on one side, and yet another pug on the other side, a grey parrot on my shoulder, and a big white cockatoo who likes to sit on the other shoulder and preen me, ever so gently, so lightly it makes me giggle. She is deeply attached to me, protective of me, and loves me the way only an animal can, with no complaints nor regrets about what you are and what you are not, they just purely love you.

The thing is, when I have my laptop propped on two good sized pillows, my old quilt over my legs, puglings everywhere plus Moe, the big black gentleman of the group, and a parrot or three on my person, I can't get up to take a picture. I believe we must be quite a sight, but then, we just are what we are, and this may be the coziest corner of all.

So fear not for me, I am being beautifully preened, guarded, I am sharing my cereal with Henry the grey; Sampson my velcro pug is sprawled on the arm of the oversized chair, legs dangling on either side, face smooshed down on the arm (it becomes very difficult to figure out where pug stops and chair starts!) snoring away; and, last night, I had to laugh out loud. He must have been dreaming. In the midst of his soft little pug snores, he smiled. I mean a very big smile. He must have been dreaming of lovely things. I'd have given anything to have gotten a picture of it. It's the kind of thing you have to see to believe, but it was a sweet moment, one of many in a life filled with animals and a quiet world where everything is experienced deeply, in slow motion, a time out of time experience.

Yes, Bachelard's world is the kind of world I dream of. Imagine living inside a seashell, or making a cozy little hideaway in a closet as I have seen done under staircases in old Victorian homes and sighed over, and corners, I'd love to know about your corners, and if I were a forest dweller I would have my home under the great roots of a giant tree, and live amongst the Root Children, one of my favorite childhood books, that I dearly love, still today.

And so in these busy days ahead, as I work on my books, and have reopened my etsy shop for Dragonfly Cottage Design Studio, I will be writing, and researching, and doing myriad types of fiber work (part of the proceeds of my fiber work goes to Mid-Atlantic Pug Rescue...) and the days will fly like a kite, in the wide sky, even as I sit in my tiny little corner, doing my work, and dreaming my dreams.

Yes, Bachelard's books will be great companions for the journey, softly worn, passages marked that feel like re-encountering old friends, and crazy quilt of a cozy corner wrapped around me.

Do you like cozy corners or wide open spaces? What do you suppose it means? It is surely something to ponder, and I will create my little corners wherever I am all the days of my life.

Have a beautiful, and blessed, and safe, cozy week ahead...