Living in the Moment: Frida Kahlo and Life #MondayBlogs #FridaKahlo

Some time ago my husband and I went south to visit my 93-year-old mother who is spending the winter with my 72-year-old sister. I note their ages because in their presence I often feel like a 12-year-old, not the 59-year-old I really am. Believe me, the 59-year-old struggles to be free! To be honest, we had a very nice visit. Every time I see my mom, I marvel at well she is, both physically and mentally. My sister is well, too, but she supports Trump (enthusiastically) so enough said about that.

One of the high points of our visit was a trip to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Dali Museum. Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite artists. The exhibit was nicely organized with photos interspersed with paintings, drawings, and interpretative signs. An image of Frida and Diego Rivera was projected on one wall, making them larger than life, which, in fact, they were. A loop of documentary clips played in one corner of the three-room exhibit.

First, the photos:

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Some of you may know that Frida suffered much physical pain and disabilities in her life. She contracted polio when she was a little girl, which left her right leg shorter and thinner than the left. Then, when she was only 18, she was in a bus accident and suffered near fatal injuries: broken pelvis, ribs, legs, and collarbone, to name a few. Although she “recovered,” she experienced pain and declining health for the rest of her short life.

 

Hell

Hell

She had originally planned for a career in medicine. The bus accident changed all that, and though the accident left her with a world of pain, she left us with a world of wonder, color, and expression.

Some of the paintings in this slideshow are not for the faint of heart. Frida painted what she felt, what she lived.

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I hope you have enjoyed this visit to the Dali Museum and the Frida Kahlo exhibit.

On a more personal note, I am experiencing some “life events” right now. I know my blogging has been spotty and I am more and more AWOL as these events suck up my time and energy. All is well, at least on my home front, but I’m just … busy-busy-busy. Know that I will do my best to catch up with you all and that, at a minimum, I think of you all often.

Ciao, amigos y amigas!

 

Living in the Moment: Torreya State Park #MondayBlogs #livinginthemoment

My husband recently bought a new tent. One that you can actually stand up in. One that unfolds like an umbrella, making assembly easy-peasy. If I were taller, I could probably put the tent up myself.

Our new tent (courtesy of LL Bean) with a tarp as a front porch.

Our new tent (courtesy of LL Bean) with a tarp as a front porch.

To test out the tent, we spent a couple of nights at the campgrounds of Torreya State Park.  The park is only about an hour driving distance, yet after 26 1/2 years living here in north Florida, we’ve never camped here. We’ve hiked; the park has some fine hiking trails, although the bugs can be murderous during the (long) hot and humid summers. We elected to go during the Christmas holiday weekend with our fingers crossed that it would be safe to be outside.

View from the vista point a few yards from our tent.

View from the vista point a few yards from our tent.

We had beautiful weather, although we had hoped for cooler temperatures. It was high 70s, low 50s, which anywhere else would be perfect. In Florida, however, that can mean that armies of mosquitoes patrolling the skies, striking with and without warning, wreaking havoc and tears of frustration. Yet … aside from a few slow-moving, large mosquitoes that showed up at dusk and then promptly disappeared when night fell, we were practically mosquito-free. Will wonders never cease?

Trees in late afternoon light.

Trees in late afternoon light.

I like trees. Although they can make stargazing difficult, generally I like trees and there were some interesting specimens that I don’t see often in my own neighborhood, such as the American Beech. We have one that my husband planted in our yard a number of years ago; however, we’ll likely be dead before it reaches the height of the trees at Torreya.

We almost cut our camping in trip in half. Our first evening, neighbors at the nearest RV decided they wanted to listen to some (loud, obnoxious, contemporary) music while they cooked their dinner outdoors. It was the strangest mix of country and rap I’d ever heard and the music-lovers were roughly our age so … not only were we perplexed but we were also annoyed. We came to the campgrounds to enjoy the singing of birds and the sighing of the wind through the trees; apparently they didn’t and, while that is their choice, they were ruining the respite we had been looking forward to.

Fortunately, once their cooking was done and they were ensconced in their RV, the music was muffled and eventually all was quiet. We went to bed feeling hopeful. Although I woke often during the night, I experienced a state of near bliss finding myself in soft darkness, the starry sky visible from our open front flap, a light breeze lulling me back to sleep. At one point in the night, however, I was awakened by my husband shooing something away from our picnic table.

Forensic evidence of an intruder in the night.

Forensic evidence of an intruder in the night.

We had left a bit of trash on the picnic table, enough to encourage a little thievery.  Fortunately, this critter took off as soon as my husband hissed at him, unlike the raccoons we used to encounter at Big Basin State Park in California, who would bring their entire families to our campground while we were cooking hot dogs, assuming an invitation to dine and ignoring our demonstrative entreaties to “go away.”

The night was so quiet and the next morning so peaceful, we decided not to leave. Instead, after a repast of mushroom and cheese omelettes and copious cups of coffee, a little knitting time for me and photo processing time for my husband, we went on a hike.

Interestingly, this is a simple pattern. Yet, I spent part of the weekend ripping out and then redoing rows because my counts were off. Sometimes simplicity is complicated.

Interestingly, this is a simple pattern. Yet, I spent part of the weekend ripping out and then redoing rows because my counts were off. Sometimes simplicity is complicated.

We hiked the Weeping Ridge Trail which took us to a waterfall that had a mere trickle of water, but was still worth the visit. We detoured to a side trail which followed along floodplain forest and then back up to the road and eventually our campgrounds.

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(All the years I’ve been blogging and only now did I figure out how to do a slideshow …)

It’s a good thing I like trees, right?

I hope you all have had a holiday season that brought you joy, peace and happiness.

 

 

Meditation on Life and Mom #MondayBlogs #MothersDay

My mother is one of 12 children.  She is 92 now.  In all likelihood, she’ll see her 93rd birthday in late October.  She was a middle child, but now she’s the oldest, having survived six of her siblings.  The youngest girl, my Aunt Edith, is in hospital now.  Dying.  From cancer that appears to have metastasized to her bones.  She is 83.  The circumstances of my aunt’s decline are sketchy.  We had seen her last October, as feisty and full-bodied as ever, but, frankly, looking a little older than my mom.  My aunt has had knee surgeries and other ailments; my mom, nothing but a cold here and there and a bit of skin cancer that was quickly dealt with.

My mother considers herself blessed.  She has no explanation for why she is so healthy relative to all her siblings, why she almost seems to grow younger as they continue to age.

Talking with my mom over the phone can be a surreal experience.  On one recent call, I just listened as she discussed her sister’s deteriorated condition, interspersing bits of details and questions (collapsed lung, lesions on her bones, dehydration, eating more now, where will she go next, why didn’t the doctor know) with observations on the variety of birds she feeds, the gray squirrels that entertain her (don’t forget, there’s also a red one), the lilies she planted last week showing shoots already, the two chipmunks that accidentally drowned in a bucket she keeps outside to catch rain (and that was too bad because she thinks chipmunks are cute).  I could have listened to her forever.

There was dying (my aunt), living (the birds and squirrels), death (the chipmunks) and birth (the lilies)–all in ten minutes or so.  I wasn’t marking time.  Perhaps without intending to, she gave me perspective.  Things don’t make your life.  Life makes your life.

My mom lives in a double-wide which she loves, although it’s beset by boxelder bugs and mice.  She lives quite frugally and she’s says it’s by choice, but really, it’s how she has always lived.  She wouldn’t know how to splurge if given the opportunity.  I sometimes call her Moneybags because every so often she hands out large checks to her children and grandchildren.  She’s “spending down,” trying to make sure there’s nothing to quibble over when she’s gone.  I roll my eyes.  The money is appreciated but it’s listening to her talk about her birds and squirrels and the occasional woodchuck that I’ll miss.

I’m feeling pretty philosophical right now and wish it could be my constant state, but it takes effort.    For now I’ll just hold close her short monologue, replay it in my head whenever I feel bitter or tired or sorry for myself.

It might work because this morning we saw a fledgling pileated woodpecker  in our backyard, the first one I’ve seen in many years.  I couldn’t wait to call my mom and tell her.

You’ve Got A Friend #CaroleKing #ShaniaTwain #CelineDion #GloriaEstefan

A classmate in my online course, Literature and Mental Health (FutureLearn) shared this YouTube video with me. I love, love, love Carole King and love, love, love this song.  Just have to share it with all my friends.

A Very Special Day #theloveofmylife #Mondayblogs #NaNoWriMo

Hello, dear friends.  Today is a very special day.

First:  It’s the last day of National Novel Writing Month and I’m happy to say that I met my goal of 50,000 words on Thanksgiving Day, giving me the weekend to relax and live in the moment.  Yay!

Second and most important: It is the birthday of the man who enabled me to complete NaNoWriMo in record time.

Getting ready for a time lapse of the sunset at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

Getting ready for a time lapse of the sunset at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.

Every day I’m thankful he is in my life.  For his birthday, I dedicate the following song as sung by the late great Etta James.

“How far would I travel to be where you are

How far is the journey from here to a star … “

lyrics by Irving Berlin, ~1932

 

My New Mantra: “I’m Too Old For This” #MondayBlogs #2old4this

As too many of you know, I struggle with keeping up with social media.  I often feel overwhelmed with the tsunami of memes, messages, Likes, Invites, and other cacophonous clatter that greets me whenever I go to the feed of my Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+ accounts.  (Strangely I don’t feel that way when I go to the Reader on WordPress.)  I often think to myself, “I’m too old for this.”  Now I do have some friends older than me who seem to manage their social media threads with grace.  I don’t care.  I still feel “too old” for this.

In yesterday’s Sunday New York Times, Dominique Browning expressed in the most clear (and enviable) prose what I’ve been feeling and why I should embrace that feeling.  In her essay, I’m Too Old for This, Browning celebrates the psychological benefits of getting older, of being able to let go:

The key to life is resilience, and I’m old enough to make such a bald statement. We will always be knocked down. It’s the getting up that counts. By the time you reach upper middle age, you have started over, and over again.

Browning focuses for a bit on women’s perception of their own beauty (or their perception of their lack of beauty) over time.  Until recently, I hated nearly everything about my body:  I’m overweight.  I have fat ankles.  I want straight hair, not hair that waves with a mind of its own.  My skin still breaks out and I’m two years shy of sixty.  Brown advises that we simply reach for the larger sized pants in the closet, the ones we wisely did not give up to Goodwill, and be thankful that we have healthy bodies.  I do try to be thankful even if some of my body likes to roll over the waistband of my yoga pants.

There is a certain freedom in being able to say, “I’m too old for this.”  At my workplace, the atmosphere can be toxic with everyone overworked and each effort to get work done being second-guessed by the politically motivated.  I feel too old for this.  I’ve seen it and heard it all before.  Sometimes I feel like I’m living Groundhog Day every day, except I get the weekends off.  I’m too old for this.

I’m too old to worry myself about social media. If I close my LinkedIn account, will anyone notice?  If I close my Tumblr account, will anyone notice?  If I close my Google+ account, will anyone notice?  More importantly, will I notice?

Now I can spot trouble 10 feet away (believe me, this is a big improvement), and I can say to myself: Too old for this. I spare myself a great deal of suffering, and as we all know, there is plenty of that to be had without looking for more.

I have unwittingly gotten into “trouble” because I was casting about, trying to be involved in an milieu that is better suited to people with short-term attention spans as well as long-term memory loss.  I’m definitely too old to engage in social media dust-ups, innocently or not.

But I do enjoy my blog, particularly the environment created by my blogging community.  It feels like a safe place.  I can be myself knowing that if people don’t like me they simply won’t follow me and that will be the end of that.  And I feel less fragmented when I’m here.

So when I think I’m too old for this, in the context of my writing and blogging, I know that it’s the fragmentation that I struggle with and that I need to correct.  Let’s see if anyone notices when I do.

By the way, Dominique Browning was wrong about one thing:  being too old to have green hair.  Take it from me.  One is never too old to have green, blue, pink, or purple hair.

IMG_0678

RIP BB King

Turn your volume up loud …

 

Reblog: Hope

I can think of no one who inspires me more to embrace life, to find joy when I’m at my lowest, to know that when I can’t change the circumstance, I can still change my perspective. Through her example, she has taught me that even though I’ve gone through some rough times, I’ve gained more than I lost, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Read her post and see why she inspires so and notice how in both of her photos, she is absolutely gorgeous.

…a dedication to all the fallen, and particularly to Cpl Nathan Cirillo in the face of the recent madness…

A truly wonderful dedication from a truly wonderful man, Seumas Gallacher (gifted blogger, author, poet). I feel a kinship with the great man (“… the older I become, the less rational the world appears …”) and (too) often these days ask the question: “Why the Hell did you have to die?”

Seumas Gallacher

…I don’’t often cut and paste my Facebook posts as blog pieces, but so many people have asked me to do so with the post I made on there yesterday, in the hope that the message may go viral… if yeez wish to share it, please do so… LUV YEEZ!… here’s the post:

…the older I become, the less rational the world appears… I care not for the arguments and posturing that dress themselves as nationalistic, religious, political or downright greed… when a young man standing HONOUR GUARD in memory of those fallen in horrendous global conflicts around the planet is gunned down under some pretence of a deluded fanatic’s ‘righteousness’, my soul screams out, ‘Enough’! ….how present are the words of the song that ask ‘when will they ever learn?’ ..the ‘they’ being all of the creeds, nutters, even well-meaning hawks of all nationalities… last year, I unashamedly…

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Gifts of the Spirit Boat

When we were out West not too long ago (although now it seems like a dream), one of our closest friends gave us a gift.  Our friend is Jennifer Ewing, an artist in mixed media as well as the fine arts.  She and her husband Leo Germano are a dynamic duo in the Art world with their mural and fine art business that they started in 1989 as Ewing & Germano.  Currently, Leo is developing his already awesome skills as a photographer, and Jennifer has branched out in workshops and events around her “Spirit Boat” series.  Jennifer started this series soon after her father died in 2004.  I remember visiting her studio and seeing early paintings where notes from her father were pasted on the canvas.  Fast forward several years and the motif of boats, of journeys, of spiritual quests continues.  To commemorate our 25th wedding anniversary, Jennifer offered us a boat from several that she had been working on. (more…)

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