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An Essay Published.

Here’s a journal, Still Life, that often publishes my essays. I’ve pasted in below the url for the digital edition, so hopefully you can pull it up. My piece is called “To Everything a Season” page 58. But there’s so many fine pieces in the journal you might want to begin at the beginning. All you have to do is click on “download the digital edition.” This is also the company that’s publishing my memoir. Let me know if the link to view and download doesn’t work and I’ll see if I can send it another way. You can go to Shanti Arts: https://www.shantiarts.co/ and find it there.

Grandparents and Other Wise Ancestors—View and Download our Spring Journal  |  Online Art Exhibition  | 

Still Point Arts Quarterly  |  Spring 2020  |  No. 37    The theme is Grandparents and Other Wise Ancestors, and the digital edition may now be viewed and downloaded. Filled with art, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, the digital edition also contains links to additional articles, related websites, and even videos. It’s free, so why not take a look?
 
Read the lead-in essay, Grandparents and Other Wise Ancestors

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Always a New Crossroad

This photo is from Ocean City. I like the crossroad of land and sky and water. There’s an old couple who struggled together up the dune to look. They, too, are at a crossroad. I like to imagine they have come to the ocean for years on vacation and played in the surf. Now they stand and remember.

I’ve often stood at a crossroad. Usually, it reads STOP on the side I can see, but the destination, written on the reverse in ink fated to remain invisible for an unknown span of time, is hidden. I stop, reconfigure, and head off somewhere, not knowing where or why I’m going, trusting I’ll eventually understand.

It’s a Long Road Back to Eden

This song title from The Eagles seems to fit the day. It’s the end of January, February peeking around the corner. The wind is blowing like a March wind but it’s a cold wind, less promising.

My desk, after editing two manuscripts, one for my old friend Mary Dian and one from an even older friend from back in my K-State days when I took ballet class with here, resembles the wreckage an earthquake leaves behind. Nothing is broken and the bookcases still upright, but mercy there’s a lot of stuff scattered around and behind my laptop, which is also running on it’s hind legs and endeavoring to get me through a couple more months before dying. Maybe spring will revive it, too.

There is, however, a great deal to be thankful for. My large and extended family, six siblings, plus nieces and nephews, great-nephews and nieces, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, are all fine. No one has succumbed to Covid, or even colds as near as I can tell. And thankfully, we all keep in touch reasonably well, which is something to applaud as our family residences dot across the U.S. from Hawaii to Florida. The downside, as is probably the downside for many of you, is there’s nothing much to talk about except Covid. Oh. And the election. Since all of us have been Democrats since we were kids and Dad indoctrinated us, we’re pretty relieved Joe Biden is in the White House.

We went out to our hairdresser, Venessa, for haircuts (yes, with masks and she wears a mask and has a notice on her door saying mask required) we were safe. We’ve been going to her for somewhere around 15 years now. That was our big excursion for the week. Other than getting our hair cut, about the only excitement to that trip was a sort of wiener-shaped little black dog with very long toe nails and white hair around her snout, which Venessa rescued out of the parking lot just before we arrived, and which went clicking around the salon while we received haircuts. After she cut mine, I went into the little kitchen, found a container for water and put it down for said little dog. She lapped at it for awhile but mostly, I expect she was hungry. The end of the story came later in the day when Venessa called to say she’d called her vet (they are a dog family), took said little dog to vet for nail trimming and then home for food, and little dog was happily running around their yard.

Listen, with all the chaotic news, the news about a little dog being rescued and treated well is a good story. I found a picture and seems it was a small Dachshund.

We got some sleet and then snow on top, but nothing like what the upper Midwest and East Coast are getting. I suddenly remembered a note my mother sent me years ago saying she didn’t have much to say, so she’d give me the weather report. “It’s partly cloudy as opposed to partly sunny,” I remember her writing. I guess that’s where I am except I wanted to say hello. Here is all the way cloudy.

An up date on my book: The publisher is now working on From Ocean to Desert and it should be out soon. Whatever “soon” means as I asked her to set aside my book and work on the manuscript for my 91 year old friend, Mary Dian. Her husband is 93 and they spent several worrisome weeks/months in hospital after Mary Dian was exposed to Covid from a woman who came to work with her on exercises. They may be the only 90+ survivors of the nasty virus. But fabulous news that they did.

My husband gave me Barack Obama’s book, A Promised Land, for Christmas and I’ve been reading the 500+ page book bit by bit. What’s so interesting is that his time entering office was just as chaotic as Joe Biden’s is now. To remind you, that was during the financial crisis when money was melting. Well, not exactly melting but certainly disappearing. And what happened then is so eerily similar to today except the crisis was money instead of disease. That was twenty years ago and we’re back in turmoil.

“I grow old; I wear my pants legs rolled,” one of my favorite lines in poetry from T.S. Eliot – at least I think it was T.S. Like everything, my memory is getting wobbly.

I’ll let you know when my book comes out. Likely, it will be hard to miss the announcing from the rooftops I’ll be doing. My next task, after making sense of this desk, is working on what I call the Mexico book. It came time wise before Ocean to Desert, but it’s huge – and years more than Ocean, which is probably why I’ve been putting it off all these years. After cleaning the desk, I plan to pull out all the primary material – the journals from those years, the notes, some of the pages I once started, and the stack of journal entries my dear friend, Kay Unger, send from the journal she kept. Right now, in my mind, it’s called Two Gringas Loose in Mexico. She, hearty soul, brought her car from Montana to Mexico (although it was impounded for some weeks when it arrived) and we traveled and wandered. Including to the mountain in southwestern Mexico where monarch butterflies roost over winter. There. That might peak your interest. It was an extraordinary trip. I can still remember the butterflies lighting on my shoulders, in my hair, as we walked, the branches loaded with butterflies. Well. I guess I’ve finally talked myself into writing again.

Thanks for listening/reading. I’ll be back again eventually.

Blessings…Peace, Janet

Sometimes I wonder….

This keeping up with a blog, along with life and covid and staying safe and cleaning up the leaves in the yard and keeping up with email…. well, it’s all a lot of work. More than, say, ten or so years ago when I began… not the leaves…the blog.

But here I am, back. I may be repeating myself, but my memoir, From Ocean to Desert, is soon forthcoming from Shanti Arts Publishing: Shanti Arts — Nature, Art, Spirit Check them out. The publisher, Christine Cote, also publishes a journal four times a year, which is how I got to know Shanti Arts, as she has published several of my essays over the years.

I’ve also finished revising and editing a book for my 90 year old friend. She and her 92 year old husband both were infected by covid and spent several weeks in hospital/rehab/etc but are finally home with round the clock nursing. What a year this has been. We, in this house, have stayed healthy, but then we seldom go out. My eldest son who lives with us is teaching 7th grade math from his basement cave; my husband is teaching college philosophy from his upstairs office; and I have, after sending off my memoir to Shanti, have been cleaning up my computer and writing room. It astounds me how much I have managed to save for some reason or another in my several years old laptop. Dropbox has a lot of it, but so do files so deep in the machine I didn’t even know they existed.

However, in all that digging about, I have found a series of posts from back in 2013-2018 on spiritual writing. I have now, hopefully, over the past week+, copied all the posts worth saving for when I write another book on spiritual journeys. Or something. But now I don’t have to keep that WordPress site and continue paying for it. At least that’s the plan. Carrying out the plan and managing to delete the site from WordPress is next. I will, however, keep this one.

Speaking of which, what are you guys doing??? I haven’t had a post from anyone in a long time.

Oh yeah, I just remembered. Incoming posts are linked somewhere else that I’ve forgotten where and will need to search for. Mercy, one more thing to do…..

At any rate, Happy Holidays to you all. May your days be peaceful and safe. And when you have time, let me know how you’re doing, and I will endeavor to remember and find where the incoming posts are all stored.

My very best, Janet

Speaking of Oaks

Image result for pictures of oaks trees

An old friend died last week. He was mighty, not yet ready to die, still reaching out to shelter others. He didn’t die from Covid or even a heart attack. Perhaps hubris but that’s hard to measure. I can’t even say he died from old age, although he was old, probably at least 100 years.

The friend I’m writing about was a hug oak tree, and the reason I say “perhaps hubris” was that his roots extended so far they broke into our across the street neighbor’s sewage line and filled their basement with sewage. And so, the city came out, began by cutting off his crown, then a mid-section and another and another, until he was shaved to the ground, at which point they dug out a hole some 15×15 feet, and thus, removed the offending roots. Thee city also filled in the hole and replanted the lawn, in case you’re wondering if neighbors still have a gaping wound in their yard.

Perhaps he mourned his old couple who, about four years ago, sold the house where they had raised their children and moved into an apartment. The new family moved in. They weren’t old, but neither were they really young. Their last child was about 13 years old when they moved in and now in his first year of college. So maybe the tree mourned the boy leaving home. Maybe it thought he could get this couple to leave and bring back the old folks. Who knows how trees think.

The city has also come through over the years to trim up lower branches which is fine. It’s certainly helped my view. And a couple of times, my son has pulled out his trusty electric saw for a branch that was too low and hanging over the cars. The tree seems to recover just fine.

Kansas City has many streets lined with old oaks and occasionally, one needs to come down, for one reason or another. Sometimes they have side branches damaged by storms. Most of these streets, and certainly ours, were build by a particular developer, Edward A. Diebolt in the early 1900s with straight streets and young oaks lining those streets.

When I taught night classes out at the Junior College, I’d breathe a big sigh of relief when I turned off the main road and onto our two block long street, oaks sheltering my last few minutes home, removing me from traffic and giving me shelter all the way. I loved the seeing my headlights reflected from those overhanging leaves.

The squirrels probably mourn the tree, too. We have a lot of squirrels in our neighborhood who love acorns, and there’s always a lot of acorns. They drop, and in a wind it sometimes sounds like hail.

We feed birds and squirrels in our backyard. One day, when I went to buy the 40 pound bag of mixed seeds which we use to produce a backyard full of wildlife, the man helping me said, “You must feed a lot of birds.” “And squirrels,” I said. “They like our backyard., too”

The man looked at me sort of squinty-eyed and said, “I just shoot them.” I avoid his check out when I now buy more seed.

I’m glad the neighbors across the street have a clean basement, and I’m glad the tree in front of our house has survived the hammering and digging that occurred when the city recently replaced the water pipes. But my old friend still leaves a gap in my heart when I look across the street.

and the times, they are a changin’

A cold rain came through two days ago and the temperature dropped from the 90s to the 50s which hardly gave me time to find my sweatshirts, somewhere in one of the the drawers or shelves where I keep such garments. I was not prepared.

In the meantime, fires raged all up and down California, which I assume you know as well as do I. However, this was the first time I’d seen them down in the San Diego area which is where my grandson and his wife live along with my great-grandson and his California grandparents. So I called granddaughter. She assured me that while she could see the smoke, there’s a mountain between where they live and San Diego itself. So for now, they are safe. However, California mountains, large and small, are pretty much covered by trees and brush.

And I won’t even mention all the political chaos other than to say, there’s also a lot of political anger and violence. More fire.

I did, however, clean up my laptop today and deleted a large file-pile of old documents and trash and it’s working again. Maybe the rain helped it.

One of the surprises of the past few days was seeing a decrease of birds at the feeder. Somehow many of them read the signs of the times and took off for the south. What’s remained, for the most part, are the young summer fledglings. Hopefully, some of them will realize their parents didn’t simply desert them but headed in a direction they are also to take.

I could use a little Bob Dylan these days, live rather than recorded, although I do have his albums. I’m not clear on what causes these upheavals in culture every forty years or so although they do seem to happen that way: the 1920s into the 1960s into the 2020s. Which also seem to correspond to the wars the US gets itself into.

I’ve probably written this before, but so often the lines from T.S.Elliot run through my mind: “I am old, I wear my pants legs rolled.” Right now, it’s entirely too chilly to roll up my pants legs or forgo socks, but the line rolls through my head none the less.

And none of us know where this … whatever it is… will go.

Well, I have excuses…

I’ve become entirely too successful in creating an editing business. I am, currently, editing a manuscript of some 300+ pages. It’s taking a lot of focus.

The Coronavirus still rages in Kansas City. I still go not much farther than the backyard to feed the wild critters who love our safe yard. Baby cardinals have discovered the joy of feeding themselves rather than waiting for parents. As with most teenagers, they eat a lot. The squirrels, whom most homeowners disparage and want to get rid of, are a daily delight as they chase each other around the yard. We have baby squirrels, too. And one small family of rabbits who only venture into the yard when no one is about.

What an astonishing world we are living in. Politics are nuts. No one can agree on anything. Mask requirements come and go (I ALWAYS wear a mask when leaving the house as does my husband and son) and our 90+ year old friends celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. Seventy-five years of marriage! That’s quite an accomplishment. We went to visit for a bit yesterday, wearing masks. They were also wearing masks, at home, as were all their adult kids.

Wasn’t there a masked ball popular in the Middle Ages during another pandemic? The Black Death? I’ve not found anyone dancing around here, but then, I don’t go anywhere, so how would I know?

I watch squirrels and birds and type. One of my memoirs is at the publisher’s. She expects to have it out sometime early 2021. I’ve not had a lot of time for my second memoir in the midst of editing others’ memoirs.

One of the things I have managed to accomplish is to turn over the farm business to my son, Stephen. Not that there’s a lot there to do. Well, that’s not exactly right. I went up to the farm with Stephen a few weeks ago. He had a John Deere riding mower shipped to our farm, which lies six miles from the nearest small town, nine miles from a paved road, a quarter mile from Mission Creek, and a half mile from the Ks/Neb State Line. We also cleaned out Dad’s shop/garage. Now. That was a chore. It hadn’t been cleaned in decades, even since before Dad died, and that was already decades ago. So you can only imagine. Well, imagine rat holes and mud-dobber nests and old and caked oil. But maybe you’d rather not.

Stephen reinforced the garage doors and put heavy duty hasps and locks on it so he could store the mower inside. Dad always bought John Deere equipment. Now another green machine is up on the farm.

Perhaps I’ve written about this before, and if I have, bear with me: The farm is an 1800s land grant farm – a quarter mile wide, and a mile east to west, planted to tallgrass prairie. It’s beautiful, and birds, butterflies, rabbits, and the occasional rattlesnake love it. It was homesteaded by Grandpa Albert’s grandfather so it’s been in the family a long time.

And sky. Forever the sky.