Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Flowers and Other Ephemeral Things

A quick walk through my new neighborhood yesterday confirmed two things. The dogwoods are done blooming and the woods on this 80-acre estate are thrashed. Just passing through, one might think that a drunken tornado took them out, but the handiwork is actually that of man. Well, man and the southern pine beetle, a scourge that kills an estimated $7.5 million worth of trees every year.

Our mountain cabin, once surrounded and shaded by trees, is denuded and the newly revealed front yard is littered with dead limbs and fallen waste. The young dogwood at the end of the drive is battered, its top gone, broken limbs hanging, limp and dying.

I watched on Friday as they took down a pine and a few hardwoods directly behind and to the side of me. The targeted trees were too close and a perceived threat to the cabin. Jeff, the man wielding the chainsaw was fleet and fearless, his son, Todd, the Cat Skidsteer operator, solid and methodical.

I, on the other hand, fled inside more than once; first when I envisioned the whining chainsaw slicing off Jeff's foot, and again when I peered over the railing at the exact moment Jeff felled the towering pine. Yes, folks, I ran like a trepidatious voyeur.

After they left and quiet had descended once more upon the woods, I sat in a chair on the deck and surveyed my new domain. We're lucky. Since the tornado was specifically culling beetle-ridden pines, and the forest behind me is all hardwoods, our view from the deck is mostly intact. I did mourn, however, the dogwood that was crushed as a 60-foot chestnut oak crashed down. It was literally ripped out of the ground, roots and all, along with a wild pink azalea in full bloom.
I noticed that a couple of the nearby trees were also chestnut oaks and their leaves hung lifeless in the afternoon sun, as if somehow affected by the passing of the once-great oak. I wondered if they wept for their lost kin. Or were they sprung up from the mighty oak's own root system and directly affected by its passing?

Limbs of nearby maples were broken and hanging, caught by the oak tree as it crashed to the ground. I couldn't help but relate to these trees, many of whom would live longer than I. Do they feel? Do they mourn? Do they cry?

I think yes. Of course. Why not? They live. They breathe. They get sick. They break. They die. They also mend, as long as the wound is not mortal. They wall off the hurt or diseased part. And grow around it.

As do we. When a careless friend or loved one lops off our pride, or self-esteem, or our ability to love, when our detacher is broken, or our trust or belief is injured we dust ourselves off and lash up the wound to still the spurting blood. Then we go about the business of getting on with life. Most of us are hale and hearty and have an infinite ability to heal. There is the old saw, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." Really, Nietzsche? Really??

Okay, yes. Yes it does. We survive. Like the flower, these and much more in life is fleeting, ephemeral. Here today, gone tomorrow.

I am reminded of one of my teachers at Life Chiropractic College. His favorite, and famous (at the school), saying was, "Thank God the body heals itself!" Which was my thought after being the recipient of one of his 'million dollar roll' manipulations. I say, "Thank God the psyche heals itself!"

As always, seeming-tragedies leave miracles in their wake. While I will miss those beautiful trees and the shade they provided, we now have enough space and sun for a garden. I'll be away for the weekend, but knowing Randy, he'll be out there building terraces and tilling ground. And, with the pines all gone we can landscape the space with sun-loving herbs and flowers.

Pictures from top to bottom: cleared area of Stonewood Village; Jeff pausing the talk to Todd before connecting the cable to take down the 60' chestnut oak (Pat, the owner is looking on); the dogwood and wild azalea before the oak squashed them to nothing; front of cabin before it was cleared; front of the cabin after clearing

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The love inside, you take it with you.

My living room smells like banana boxes. Which, surprisingly, smell the same as apple boxes. Must be the fruit/cardboard combination, slightly earthy with just a hint of sweetness. It's a smell I associate with moving.

Years ago, I discovered that fruit boxes are the best and most economical way to move my schtuff from town to town. That came after ruling out liquor stores, which are generous with their boxes, but these tend to be odd shapes and sizes and never have tops. In Georgia, the grocery chain I found most generous with boxes, is Kroger. In California, it was Vons. They're always very gracious and will even save them from the recycler for you if you ask.

They rarely turn lose of banana boxes. I forget why. But, the Kroger in Dawsonville had stacks and stacks, so I brought home six, all that would fit in my cart and my car. Nothing like a crazy lady pushing a cart of boxes stacked higher than her head, maneuvering the randomly placed middle displays of fruit, bread and flowers. We needed a red light at one of those intersections, but a woman driving a motorized cart yielded to the crazy lady. It is a befuddlement to me why the powers that be arrange those sections so haphazardly.

When I got home I tossed the boxes on the front porch. Last I'd looked there was no rain in the forecast for days and days. And I was starving. It was close to 8:00 and I was coming off a sugar crash. Remember my no sugar, no bread? That lasted for almost two weeks before going by the wayside...along with my daily walk. Today, I'm starting again. I promise.

This morning I woke to raindrops falling a mere foot from my head. I lay there, smiling, enjoying the melody, then pulled back the blinds to peek and prayed that it would rain hard enough and long enough to wash the pollen of a quadrillion oaks, pines and cherry trees and a gajillion grasses away.

Rising, I put water on for my tea, opened the blinds to let in the lovely rainy day and saw Seven, our landlord's cat sitting on the porch in the rain, waiting for breakfast. When I opened the door to feed him, he ran in and Bugsy ran out. And I saw my glorious banana boxes, soaking up the rain. Operation rescue ensued, first the boxes (which are hardy and drying and smelling up my living room), then the shop vac that Randy keeps forgetting to take back to work.

Satisfied that my work, for the moment, was done, I sat in the ancient armchair with my tea, wrapped in the soft fleece jacket Carolyn gave me for Christmas, gazing out the window at God's handiwork. My world has turned green, even the white oak which seemed so hesitant at first, coaxed out of its bark by the warm spring sun. Soon, my vista will change. This weekend in fact. I wondered if my landlord would let me come by occasionally, to sit on the back steps, soak up the view and pet Seven. I just might ask.

As I type, the soft rain grows heavier, soothing my senses and sating my soul. The ocean does that. The susurration of the wind in the pines. My cat's purrs. The mockingbird's song. I love yous. Even thunder clapping and rolling. These all transform me, make me whole.

I am learning so much from my self-imposed exile, growing in leaps and bounds. About who I am. Who I'm not. What matters. What doesn't. I shared, long ago, about the light at the end of the tunnel, and having found it. I am now finding that there is more light, within that light, if one is willing to look. As a seeker, I must. I have no choice.

Freedom comes with knowing my self. Freedom to be who I am and who I'm not. Freedom to just be, without worrying about what you might think about that. I'm discovering it's not your judgments that haunt me, or harm me. It's my own

The stories I'm told, and the ones I make up, keep me running. It is these that keep knocking me to the ground. Always, eventually, I come back to the truth. I am not lost, I am found. I am safe, submerged in the stillness of Self, I've come home to the sanctity of my soul. Because nothing is real but love.

This brings to mind Sam's closing line in Ghost, "It's amazing Molly. The love inside, you take it with you." I had to go find it, and share.

Rest in Peace, Patrick Swayze. And Rest in Peace to my dear Aunt Aggie, who passed in to the light this past Saturday, April 17, 2010 at about 4:25 p.m. EDT. My cousins are laying her to rest today, on top of my Uncle Dick. Guess she got the last word. Or at least she came out on top.

I had the high privilege of telling her goodbye on Friday, before she entered a blessed morphine-induced peace. She was ready to go. And promised to give my Mama a hug for me. Aunt Aggie, I love you. Goodbye. For now...

Pictures from top to bottom: freshly fetched banana boxes, after drying out; Seven and Bugsy, caught yesterday, sleeping in the sun...born on different coasts, these two could be brothers; a close up shot of the rising sun shining through the trees outside our dining room window; a youtube clip from Ghost.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Technorati Listing

That Rebel with a Blog will soon be listed on Technorati! As part of that process, I'm posting my claim code: DWJB84M5BFNF here we come!!

I mentioned Technorati in an awards post awhile back after finding a reference to it in an article on the blogosphere. On my first pass through Technorati, I registered for an account, then despaired that my blog fit none of their categories. So I gave up. I shouldn't do technical stuff late at night, I'm not nearly as intrepid with blurry eyes and a daylogged brain. Nonetheless, last night, I got a Facebook message from my friend and fellow blogger, Ivy Bliss of every head i've head the pleasure to have met. She pointed me back to Technorati.

On closer inspection, I found that yes, I DO fit. We all do. So I 'claimed' my blog, Technorati's term for adding your blog to their extensive blog directory. I am now listed and it was relatively painless.

Technorati is a search engine/directory for blogs. This paragraph is an excerpt from their About page:

The leading blog search engine, indexes millions of blog posts in real time and surfaces them in seconds. The site has become the definitive source for the top stories, opinions, photos and videos emerging across news, entertainment, technology, lifestyle, sports, politics and business. tracks not only the authority and influence of blogs, but also the most comprehensive and current index of who and what is most popular in the Blogosphere.
So, to all my fellow bloggers, my friends and compatriots and those I've yet to meet in the blogosphere, check it out. Click over to and claim your blog, add yourself to that search engine in the blogosphere sky. There are people out there dying to read what you have to say. I just know it.

By the way, I got my confirming email this morning, I'm now listed in the Technorati directory. Yeehaa! Which merely means that when anyone searches on my keywords in Technorati, That Rebel with a Blog will be included in the search results. Will it make me famous? Who knows. It only takes one.

Lots of love, my fellow travelers...and a special thanks to the Sententious Vaunter, aka Postman. For asking.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Moving Again aka Ode to the Vagabond

Yep. You read that right. I'm moving again.

This makes 14 moves since January 1999. Fourteen! And that's not counting the four office moves. Three of the fourteen have been in the last few months, since arriving in North Georgia in December.

If I throw in the cross-country move from Georgia to California in '99, that's fifteen, and the four places I lived in the seven-month period before THAT move, we're up to nineteen since June of 1998. So 19 moves (plus four office) in 12 years. Phew.

This moving mania has been a part of my life since I first left home...before the age of 18.

Several moves in to my stint in Southern California, I decided I must be part gypsy. Or maybe I am descended from a long-lost tribe of nomads. I do know that I am descended from William the Conquerer (aka William the Great, William the Deliverer, William the Bastard) on my Grandmother Willoughby's side. Gypsies roamed freely back then.

Whatever the case, it occurs to me that I should probably invest in a nice motor home. At least that way when I move I can just hop in and drive to my next destination, and pay lot rent rather than having to box up my belongings and tote heavy stuff around every time.

It also occurs to me that it may be time to take a closer look at why I am blown from place to place like a dandelion seed in the wind. It has seemed that each move has been the next right thing in front of me, and that there is a deeper driving force. But is that just me justifying being a vagabond?

As is my wont, I stopped to google vagabond. And found the following passage in Wikipedia:

By the 19th century the vagabond was associated more closely with Bohemianism...The critic Arthur Compton-Rickett compiled a review of the type, in which he defined it as men "with a vagrant strain in the blood, a natural inquisitiveness about the world beyond their doors." Examples included Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Leo Tolstoy, William Hazlitt, and Thomas de Quincey...
I like the more upbeat connotation of the Bohemian moniker. And now, knowing I'm in the good company of these glorious authors, I feel better. See. Blogging IS good for the soul. I always learn something new. And I usually learn something new about myself in the process.

Wikipedia also included a list of songs that mention vagabond. The most notable (for me) are Little Feat's Roll Um Easy, Frank Sinatra's New York, New York and Joan Baez's Diamonds and Rust. Strangely, they left out my favorite, Over the Hills and Far Away by Led Zeppelin. Vagabond, a delightful song by Bethany Dillon, an artist I'd never heard of, was on that list. I'm not sure, but it sounds like this song is about the Son of God. Most excellent company to be in.

Whether I'm a gypsy, nomad, vagabond, or bohemian, or just a woman following the call of Divine, my wanderings today have led me to an unexpected conclusion. It's okay. Nay. It's inspired.

Guess it's time to start saving for that motor home.

Pictures from top: Our new home on the outskirts of Dahlonega, we'll be moving some time in the next two weeks; our new back yard (yes, folks, those are newly leafing-out woods, complete with dogwoods, wild azaleas and sweet shrub!)

Friday, April 9, 2010

I Believe

The Wright brothers were high school drop-outs and bicycle mechanics. But they believed. I wrote this 17 years ago in the margin of my copy of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, alongside the passage that reads:
When we saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God. Our ideas did not work. But the God idea did.

The Wright brothers' almost childish faith that they could build a machine which would fly was the mainspring of their accomplishment. Without that, nothing could have happened. We agnostics and atheists were sticking to the idea that self-sufficiency would solve our problems. When others showed us that "God-sufficiency" worked with them, we began to feel like those who had insisted the Wrights would never fly.
I am not agnostic, nor am I an atheist. I do believe in God and have leaned heavily on him for most of the last 19 years. Why then, had the agnostic promises, also presented in the Big Book, come true in my life? The answer is simple. While I believe in God, I was living as if I didn't. As if he couldn't, or wouldn't, help me.

What are the agnostic promises, according to the Big Book?
We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn't control our emotional natures, we were a prey to misery and depression, we couldn't make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn't seem to be of real help to other people...
Now, if you've been following my blog these last couple of months, you will recognize that all of these had come true in my life. Every single one.

A couple of days ago, I got a massage from the young lady who will soon be working in my office. In the middle of the session, she stopped and ministered to me, scriptures and all. As she talked, I lay on that table with tears leaking out of my eyes as hope sprang to life in my heart.

While apologetic (she usually doesn't talk while giving a massage) she continued. Because she was moved to deliver a message from Divine, from God. Normally, I would recoil at being approached in this way. This time, my seeking heart welcomed her words.

When she finished my massage, I dressed and found her sitting at a table holding a book called His Princess, Love Letters from Your King. Someone had given it to her at a similar low point in her life. She read aloud two of the love letters, and their related scripture. As she read, cleansing tears flowed freely from my eyes. I knew I was in surrender because my heart felt so open and because I rarely cry in front of other people.

Afterward, she gave me the book, with instructions to read it every night before bed. She told me that each message, each love letter, was from God, speaking directly to me. I left her, feeling lighter than I have felt in a long time, full of a hope that desperately wanted to bloom.

I'd like to thank Pollinatrix, for sharing her own search for meaning in The Whole Blooming World. Reading her discourses prior to this session cracked me open enough to allow that light to seep in. Thank you also, dear Postman, for introducing me to Pollinatrix.

I am by no means done with this journey. But my foot is on the path. And my heart is full of hope and joy.

I believe.

Good things are happening already, the first of which is the blessing of Kat, the massage therapist. I adjusted her yesterday at our still-unfinished office. She is on fire with the Word and has a vision for our center that my eyes were too jaded to see. She is the spark that the fire within me needs.

Thank you, God.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Dancing in the Fire

Friday night our trailer was surrounded by the smoke of what smelled like a brush fire. Not seeing any flames or hearing screaming sirens, we chose not to worry. The following morning, Bugsy woke me early. I looked to the east and saw the beginning blush of what looked to be a promising sunrise. Grabbing my camera, I went out to enjoy the prettiest sunrise I’ve seen in a while. Smoke, like clouds, does amazing things to the rising sun.

This morning, for my daily walk, I headed north, down Bailey-Waters. When I reached the intersection at Hwy 52, I saw the culprit of our weekend smoke surprise. The northeast corner was charred from a fire. I crossed and continued, walking in the shade on the burn side of the road to avoid the heat of the day.

As I walked, I pondered the burn that had licked the grass by the side of the road and stretched as far through the woods as I could see. It appeared that only the underbrush had burned and I wondered if the fire had been intentional. On Saturday, Ivy and I had walked through a controlled burn area on the Amicalola Creek Interpretive Trail that looked a lot like what I was seeing today.

About a half mile up Wesley Chapel (the name changes after crossing Hwy 52), I saw red and blue streamers hanging from a tree limb, then a two-foot wide swath that meandered off through the woods.

To the right of the swath the forest floor was charred, to the left it was not. Aha, here was the answer to my question. Nailed to a tall pine on the unburned side of the trail, prominently displayed, was a Posted No Trespassing sign. There had been no such signs on the burn side, so this was a property line. The owner to the right must have orchestrated a controlled burn.

I wondered if the Fire Dept had been on site, tending it. I marveled at how a two-foot-wide fire break could keep a fire of that magnitude from leaping to the other side, which remained untouched. And at how the FD knew it would only burn the undergrowth and not the whole forest. During my eleven years in Southern California, where raging fires are the norm, I developed a deep respect for fire fighters and the Fire Department.

As I walked beside the burned forest, I couldn’t help but ponder the effect of that fire on the trees and the wildlife. During SoCal fires, I would be devastated by the screams of the innocent animals and plants that I could feel and hear in my psyche.

People, for the most part, are able to get out of harm's way. But the other beings have no place to go, no cars or horse trailers to carry them to safety.

It comforted me that here, in this fire, only the forest floor was burned. Though, I’m sure it was no comfort to the millions of insects that were living in the deadfall or were unable to burrow deep enough in to the forest floor. Or any baby animals too small for the mums to pick them up and run. Oh golly, there I go, aching for the littles again.

But, I dally at getting to my point.

The point is that my own metaphorical fire was of the controlled variety. It had consumed me. I’d been dancing around in it, hopping from foot to foot, whining and screaming and complaining; about the heat, the smoke and all manner of things. I'm done leaping around in that fiery furnace.
Reiki38 Mandala by Felertishiya Galiver
I made choices. I followed Divine orders. I did what had to be done. I questioned. Oh yes, I questioned. I am, after all, very human. But I did it.

It was not done to me. I was not a victim, like the innocent plants, insects and animals who get struck by physical fire. Mine was a controlled burn, attended by Divine. My fire was for pruning, for purification, to get rid of what was not needed in my life. It had a boundary line, a fire break, even though it wasn't perceptible to me. As the flames die out, the dross will be gone. And what’s left will be golden and bright.

Sun Mandala by Sebastion Schimpf,
I see now the choice before me.

I will no longer dance around in the fire, nor cry about it. I choose to move beyond the fire line, with as much grace and dignity as I can muster.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Morning Walk

Today I gave up sugar and bread. Not for lent, obviously, as that ended a couple of days ago. Not even for health reasons, though that is part of the motivation.

Nope. I'm doing it to fit into my clothes. I'm not one of those who keeps clothes of various sizes on hand. When I lose weight, I get rid of the fat clothes. Normally, I don't need them.
The traditional Georgia fare is quite different from that of California. Having been away from the south for eleven years, and back here to visit rarely, I missed the food I grew up eating.

So, I've been indulging myself. You know. Pigging out.

Biscuits and gravy. Cornbread. Fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, chicken-fried steak, fried pies, fried burgers, fresh cut french fries, fried anything. Deserts. Sweet sugary gooey stuff, creme horns, caramel cremes.

For three and a half months.

I've gained so much weight, even my panties are tight. And I refuse to go buy bigger panties. I did invest a couple of bucks in the next-size-up jeans a while back. But at the rate I was gaining, even those were getting tight.

So I took the plunge. Back to California food.

Today was also the first of my daily walks. I barely left the house yesterday, choosing instead to work on blog maintenance and other things. So imagine my surprise to discover that between Saturday and Monday, the whole dang countryside changed colors.

On Saturday the pears, plums and cherries, forsythia and quince were blooming. And the maples.

But today, holy smokes.

The trees are all budding  and the countryside is awash with thousands of shades of green.

The violets are in bloom.

Ahhh, violets. Such a simple little flower, and a bane to those inclined to manicured lawns. But being a country girl at heart, violets are one of my favorites. Maybe because, like the daffodil, they are a harbinger of warmer days.

My walk today was a short one, but tomorrow I'll have more time to explore and take in the sights.

It has been eleven years since my last Georgia spring. In Southern California, spring is beautiful. But it's not the dramatic waking from dormancy and nothingness that the plant life experiences in Georgia. Trees transform from sharp, bony angles to soft, round contours and flowers spring up from the dirt.

I am grateful to be here, grateful to smell the freshly tilled earth and the first-mown grass of the season. To hear the streams, swollen from winter rains and watch the mating rituals of the birds. To see the plants and trees burst forth in their finest duds as the landscape comes alive in front of my very eyes.

Thank you, Higher Power, for allowing me to witness this miracle, this magnificent affirmation of life.

Oh wait! I almost forgot the memorial on the side of New Hope Road.

No doubt, for a child whose life ended too young, in the spring of life. It seemed fitting to include it here. For death precedes the rebirth, and thus, is an essential, however difficult, part of life. For each of us. I include the picture here as my own little memorial. To Jessica. And those who loved her.

These pictures were taken on the east end of New Hope Road in Dawsonville, GA, from top to bottom: close-up of Red Maple seeds (the flowers were just as spectacular); henbit (considered a weed, but I think they're pretty); Vanhoutte Spirea with a blanket of violets underneath; forsythia in full bloom and beginning to leaf with a branch of the adjacent Redbud tree seen on the right; violets; field of violets; Wild Cherry tree in leaf with flower buds not yet opened; memorial for Jessica Spears.
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