Yesterday’s post was about the weekly photo challenge prompt: Resolved. I stated that land use research and getting outside were goals for this year. Yesterday afternoon, we ventured into moraine country and found a preserve managed by the Nature Conservancy. I’m excited about this discovery as a place to revisit in the different seasons and a starting point for understanding what preservation, restoration, and conservation mean to a particular area. Here are some photographs, then, of the Lulu Lake preserve outside of East Troy, Wisconsin:
Scholar & Poet Books is the online book business that Steve & I run from our home. We shelter books that we have rescued from Good Will, library sales, church sales and rummage sales. We clean them up and put them up for adoption on Amazon, Alibris, ABE Books and eBay. We find new homes for old standards, eclectic oddities, and arcane tutorials. Pulp fiction with vintage cover art, lots of spiritual topics, Christmas and cookbooks and CDs and children’s books…you name it, we probably have it or something related to it. So, if you’re in the mood for some cyber shopping today that supports the U.S. Post Office, a small business, and the non-electronic world of all natural BOOKS, you can browse our collection through this link. We have a 5-star rating, but neither of us has a Facebook account. If you like what you see and want to share the link with your friends, though, we would be very pleased! Happy hunting, bookworms!
After a delicious Sunday breakfast buffet and a quick photo walk in downtown Parkersburg, Steve and I headed back into Ohio toward the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park. Steve has always been drawn to Native American archaeology and has experience working for the National Park Service at Wupatki National Monument. The information we gathered at the Hopewell site was truly fascinating. The native Americans in the Scioto River valley constructed enormous earth works, mounds and borders of giant proportions, geometrical shapes duplicated exactly many miles apart. The burial mounds contained artifacts made with materials from distant regions. The scope of this culture, the complexity of the ideas they represent, is amazing. Of course, our conjectures about the meaning of the clues they left behind will never be verified. Mystery will always surround this place. The sense of a sacred reverence hangs in the very air, though. It felt, to me, very similar to what I felt when I visited Chichen Itza in Mexico. Time, space, geometry, astronomy, mathematics, religion, life and death coming together in physical art. These were a people who understood the interconnectedness of all things and represented that in a conscientious way. To say that it’s “primitive” misses the mark completely. It certainly seems more primitive to plow over the entire area time and time again to plant corn or bulldoze the hill to quarry gravel…which is just what the white settlers did and still are doing.
We spent the afternoon slowly embracing the place and then drove home in the dark on speedy Interstate highways. We were back by 11pm. On Wednesday, we continued our research on Native American mounds and early Wisconsin history by going to Madison and visiting the Historical Museum on Capitol Square and the UW Madison Arboretum (which has an impressive bookstore!). We are still in the process of discerning how we will contribute to the conservation of this sacred planet on a local level, to what work we will devote our energy, and how we will live in awareness of the impact we make here. It’s a time to stay open to possibilities and opportunities and to be ready to move with a purpose when a specific vehicle of conveyance appears pointing toward our goal.
Steve and I donated our hair to Locks of Love yesterday. Ten inches each. A wonderful way to re-purpose hair if you don’t have your own compost pile. We got our cuts for free and were left with enough to still pull into a ponytail so that hair care on our camping trip will be a bit easier. Thanks to MaeLyn and Megan at Azana Spa in Brookfield, we are now ready to roll down the road a bit freer and easier! Here’s a gallery of shots of the event:
I’m transitioning to another phase in life. My job as an interpreter at Old World Wisconsin is ending for the season. Working for minimum wage at a living history museum was one of the most awesome choices I’ve ever made. I decided to spend my time doing something that I found interesting and valuable instead of compromising my satisfaction to make a bigger paycheck. However, I want to do better. I want to do something even more significant and important with my time and energy, something more socially responsible, more environmentally responsible, more philosophically moral. I don’t know what that will turn out to be… yet. A blogger friend posted this Oprah quote and got me thinking: “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” (Thanks, Susan from skedazzles!) I want to prepare myself for my next awesome choice and make sure that I am open and aware of opportunities. Something will undoubtedly fall into my lap. As I was talking to Steve about this, we were actually living an example. Here’s what happened…
Driving home from the grocery store, I noticed a black Labrador trotting down the street toward the park without an owner in sight. After I’d unpacked the groceries and made lunch, I heard a woman calling outside. I went out to ask if she was looking for a black dog. She was, and I told her where I’d seen it. About a half hour later, Steve and I went out to take a walk. The woman was still looking for the dog; she told us that it belonged to her niece who lives around the corner from us at a house with a “For Sale by Owner” sign. So we went walking in the direction of the park. We heard someone calling a dog down by the river and learned that another couple was looking for a German shepherd named Corky. We told them that there was also a lab named Drake on the loose. We resumed our walk. A little while later, it started raining, and we headed back toward home. We saw Corky’s folks turning their van into an adjacent park across the street. They called to us and told us they’d found the lab down by the bridge. They hadn’t found Corky yet, though. When we got to the bridge, there was Drake, secured to a post by a leash, presumably donated by Corky’s folks. So we untied him and walked him home. By then, it was pouring. About a block from home, a car was driving slowly down the street. I guessed it was the woman looking for Drake. She was incredibly excited and pleased to see us leading the dog homeward. Her niece was at work on her first day back from maternity leave and had asked her aunt to let the dog out at lunch. Now I imagine this young mother, worried about leaving her dog and baby and going back to work. I’m soaking wet, but loading the dog into auntie’s car, I felt awesome. I had been out in my neighborhood, just paying attention to my surroundings, and was able to help someone out. I wasn’t trying very hard at all, but I was open to events as they unfolded. It was a very satisfactory afternoon.
The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970 and marks what some consider the birth of the Environmental Movement. Of course, cultures throughout history have celebrated and appreciated the earth according to their particular perspectives. Harvest festivals, rain rituals, volcano appeasement, fertility festivals, river ceremonies…I can think of many ways that humans have venerated the earth. Since 1990, when the Earth Day campaign went global, we’ve focused on the planet as a whole. We are the ones who have seen it (at least in pictures) as a whole from outer space, and I think we are realizing more and more how our relationship to the Earth is effecting that picture. Large scale weather patterns, extinction rates, pollution and population are just some of the issues that are “going big” in our consciousness. This is all very well, and at the same time, each of us has a particular and specific and local intimacy with Earth that should never be overlooked.
NaPoWriMo is acknowledging Earth Day with its prompt to write a poem about a plant. I have so many favorite Earth/Nature/Flower/Animal poems already dear to my heart that I’m having a hard time being original, so I think I’m just going to share a few favorites with you here instead. The first one is a lullaby that my mother used to sing to me. I have no idea of its origin. I just hear Mom sing:
White coral bells upon a slender stalk,
Lilies of the valley deck my garden walk.
Oh! Don’t you wish that you could hear them ring?
That will happen only when the faeries sing!
Here’s one I wrote back in March as I looked at my lilac bush:
When will the buds appear this year?
When will the lilac be full in bloom?
When will that perfume make fair the air?
When will that purple bedeck my room?
Soon, oh, soon; let it be soon!
I’ve been wearing lilac oil from a little vial that Jim bought me when we were on Mackinac Island years ago. A few drops on my neck assures me that the fragrance of my favorite flower will not fade too quickly from my consciousness.
I took a walk yesterday to photograph some of my local earth miracles. May I present:
And to represent the hippie protesters and the environmental movement, I have to share one of my favorite earth songs. Nanci Griffith, “From A Distance” (written by Julie Gold). Socks with sandals, passion and integrity. She moves me.
Love our planet, today and every day. Treat her and all life with respect. Please.
Here it is, March in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Some unknown and perhaps magical forces have transformed this place into a balmy paradise. It is 81 degrees F outside, flowers are blooming, trees are sprouting leaves, and chipmunks are cavorting around the forest floor. I am appreciating it. Last year was a very different story. We had a blizzard at the very end of January, and snow fell into April. The last two months of snow in a winter that can sometimes take up half the year can be very trying on a person’s patience. Especially if that person lived in California for 15 years and got rather attached to sunshine and greenery! So, what is there to do in Milwaukee when the weather is nice? So glad you asked!
Steve used to live on the East Side of Milwaukee, which is kind of an East San Francisco. Well, a little bit, anyway. There are lakefront parks, beautiful old buildings, college students from the University, and a smattering of the nature freak/hippie vibe. On St. Patrick’s Day, we headed to his old neighborhood to take in some of this atmosphere, which was augmented by people parading about in green beads with plastic tumblers of beer, enjoying the unseasonably comfortable weather on a Saturday devoted to pub crawling. It made people-watching that much more interesting.
We ate a late afternoon meal at Beans & Barley, which features a deli and market as well as a vegan-friendly cafe with a huge selection of tea. I had a grilled balsamic Portobello mushroom sandwich with red peppers and bleu cheese, accompanied by a fantastic curry potato salad and a bottle of New Glarus Spotted Cow beer. Steve had a black bean burrito with some very spicy salsa, an entree that is approaching “landmark status” since its debut in 1979. We shared a piece of their “killer chocolate cake” for dessert.
After I was satisfied that every bit of frosting had been thoroughly licked up, we headed over to the deli and market to take stock of their offerings. It was there that I found this most delightful treasure: it’s an old cigarette vending machine that now provides the customer with a genuine work of art for the price of one token. All of the Art-0-mat items are the size and shape of a pack of cigs, and decorated in a variety of different ways, by different artists. Examples are installed on the front of the machine.
Here is a close up of one example:
I simply love this idea! I’ve never seen anything like it before. It’s hip, it’s visual, it’s smoke-free. These should be everywhere, supporting artists in every community.
I’m feeling young, artsy, and energized. We take a walk down to the lighthouse station. I do a portrait of Steve that I think would look good on the back of a book he will write some day.
I’m having fun discovering something wonderful every day, no matter where I am. This is how I want to keep myself well and happy for the rest of my life. A few weeks ago, Wisconsin Public Radio’s Ben Merens did a show on wellness that featured an interview with a personal life coach named Colleen Hickman. Steve likes to call into this radio station when the topic moves him, and he called in to add to this discussion. He had two things to share. First, he said that his partner (me!) was very good at appreciating things, and then he said that his contribution to our positive relationship is that he doesn’t think of life as a problem to be solved or a commodity to be evaluated. It is something of which to be constantly aware, though. After he hung up, Ms. Hickman says, “Steve is certainly one of the lights we have in the world.” That makes me chuckle because it sounds so “media”, but I have to agree. If you want to hear the broadcast, here’s the link; just scroll down to the Friday, March 2, 5:00pm broadcast and click the Windows Media Player or MP3 icon to the right. Steve’s call is 17:30 into the program.
What a wonderful world! Even in Wisconsin in March!
I began this blog 200 posts ago, and there’s nothing in this world that I don’t know…
Well, that’s not true, but I’m remembering my father sitting in his chair on our wrap-around porch singing old silly songs as the sun went down. “I was born about 10,000 years ago…” verse after unbelievable verse. There’s a lot in this world that I don’t know and will never know, and many things that I can know if I pay attention and try to be aware. One thing I became aware of is that my blog was hard for my mother to read in its old format. The light text on a slightly darker background was obscured through her developing cataracts. I hoping that this new look will be clearer for her.
Another thing that I’m becoming aware of is the way that thoughts influence energy. Life is difficult (opening line of M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled), in other words, living requires effort. Solving problems, finding food, making money, communicating – all of that takes some energy, but sometimes the energy returns to us if the process is positive and life-giving. When I feel drained and sad and depressed, it’s often simply because my thoughts about problem solving, making money, and other efforts of living are not positive. In another Summit with Steve this morning, I asked myself this question, “Are you going to roll up your sleeves or roll up your eyes?” Steve offered an illustration from our favorite National Basketball team, the Chicago Bulls (President Obama is also a loyal fan). Rookie Jimmy Butler, brand new to the team, has a life story that exemplifies the effort of overcoming obstacles. He was abandoned by his father at an early age, kicked out by his mother at 13, raised by a widow with 4 children who remarried a man with 3 more children, and finally made it to Marquette University and the NBA. He is part of the energy infusion we fans call “The Bench Mob”. They’re not “good enough” to be starters, but when they go into a game, they roll up their sleeves and get to work! Another member of “The Bench Mob” who has a totally different physical attitude is Omer Asik. We love him, because he’s nerdy-looking like us. He’s tall and skinny and white. He’s from Turkey. He is a great basket defender, but he’s pretty new to the team, too, and not as athletic as many players. He has this comical hang-dog expression when he fouls someone or misses a shot. He literally rolls up his eyes, instead of his sleeves.
Energy ebbs and flows. Sometimes I roll up my sleeves, sometimes I roll up my eyes. Here’s another comic example: Buster Keaton. Mr. Keaton had a stellar career in silent films. He’s a little guy, very physically strong. His acrobatic stunts on camera are amazing. His comedy is also about solving problems, thinking outside of the box and using his incredible energy. Of course, he doesn’t squander any energy talking! His reaction to social situations is great. He doesn’t let them deter him from going after what he wants, and whenever he fails, he simply tries a new tactic. See any of the clips from “College” (1927) that you can find…or the whole film! He makes a great movie star hero, in my book.
So, this one’s for me, my kids and anyone else out there who is putting effort into living. You are not your thoughts. If your thoughts of failure and shame are draining your energy, listen to them and then change them. Are you really ashamed of yourself? Or is that a perception of what you think ‘society’ thinks of you? The truth is you are a good person and you desire to be a good person (most likely – granted there may be exceptions). Roll up your sleeves, Good Person, and play!
It has been about 60 degrees the past two days; so conducive to wandering around the neighborhood with my camera! I wish I’d had it with me last night when I walked to my voice student’s house for his lesson. The moon was almost full, and I kept saying to myself, “Oh, wow! That would make a good shot!” It was such a balmy evening that I kept thinking about endless nights playing Kick the Can as a child. That summertime feeling is creeping up on me! Daylight savings time kicks in on Sunday. It’s still light at 6pm as we’re sitting down to dinner now. Steve and I are really getting the itch to go camping. We’ll probably take off next week if it stays this warm! Here are some photos from yesterday:
Enjoy your day!