How to be hungry

I’ve been following Robyn’s blogs for many years and have enjoyed reading her poetry and prose, sometimes funny, sometimes acerbic, but always astute, in her observations of human nature and the predatory cultures we have created.

Even though we were in touch via email recently, I did not fully grasp the desperate situation she was in – and will be in until she manages to find another IT job. In the meantime, if you are moved and have some spare change, feel free to send some funds her way. Her paypal address: (Robyn Murray). She’s an IT expert who has worked on large corporate projects as well as my own business website, and she would be happy to take on a new project.

Jambo Robyn

This is a bit of an odd post for me, and quite long, so I won’t be offended if poetry readers skip it. Mostly it is published so I/it can be there for myself if it happens again.

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of a totally new and profound experience of hunger. Of course, at first I approached it like a problem requiring an urgent solution. You know, do something, anything, I’m used to overcoming problems.

I tried to take my little bit of money to the usual grocery stores but the buy-in price for something nutritious was so much higher than my available dollars, not even one thing that wasn’t junk food could I really afford, except perhaps milk.

Real food (the GST-free stuff) is ridiculously overpriced in this country lately. So-called fresh food is often shipped in from the USA so the quality is as terrible…

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Posted in Healing Ourselves and the Planet | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

What Age Has Brought Me

Last week, I sat down with a writer friend and we chose to write in response to one of Laura Davis’ writing prompts: What Age Has Brought Me.

Thanks for the inspiration, Laura!

River guardian

River guardian

I am at the younger end of the baby boomer generation. In my youth, I was an athlete – cross-country running, long jump and high jump. Oh, how I miss the agility, stamina, and strength of my young body! Especially now, as my knee joints ache, my hip flexors contract and a few toes turn numb for no reason any doctor or physical therapist has been able to identify. I don’t run anymore, but I am still grateful for long walks.

My 30s, 40s, and early 50s were intellectual power years building on my education and marinating it with the experience and realities of working in my field as a psychologist.
Age has introduced me to other ways of knowing – intuition and its many disguises starting with a knowing that enters through my feet grounding on earth, then works its way through my muscles, guts,and heart, and afterwards settles somewhere in the familiar territory of the brain.
Age has brought me to the door step of patience and trust that matters will somehow be resolved even without my meddling. This doorstep, this threshold – I haven’t quite stepped over it with full conviction but each year nudges me closer.
Age has muddled what I thought was a well defined line between right and wrong and has blurred and twirled that line depending on which side of the river I stand or whose eyes I am looking through. This has not made life any easier but perhaps a bit less judgmental.
“Truth is one, paths are many” is the motto engraved everywhere you turn in Yogaville (an ashram in Buckingham, Virginia) where I spent a bit of time recently. It’s a consolation of sorts while I still swipe the dangling vines out of my way and find my footing on this uneven path called my life.
Age has introduced me to the adventures of inner travels replacing the trips to other countries I used to take when I was younger. Inner travels avoid the need to pack, spend long hours in airports, exchange dollars into foreign currency and leaving just when you learned to say a few phrases in another language. Inner travels sometimes require a different language as well which unravels its layers of meaning with time and focus. Inner travels avoid the disappointment of throngs of other tourists at favorite sites, or the strain of travel companions not matched to my own interests or temperament.
Inner travels command their own seasons, create their own weather and itineraries. They may take me into the past, revisit people and places that may no longer exist in this reality, observe myself interacting in ways that can make me cringe now. Inner travels send me back to times of decision making and make me wonder how my life would have changed if only…..then knowing that I made the right decision no matter what because it brought me to now, this place, this time, this way of being me.
Inner travels can project me forward into the future, perhaps to prepare for an important meeting or conversation that can address misunderstandings, resentments, hurt feelings and either end a relationship or send it on a deeper path.
Inner travels take me to meetings with guides who drop me into a more profound level of understanding, sometimes with one leading question or succinct comment.
Inner travels help me plan my next steps or add sparks of creativity to a project.

Age has brought me closer to tolerating boredom when nothing seems to be happening. That period of waiting for the next train to arrive (so to speak) is the perfect time to practice mindfulness and listening to the wind.
So, yes, I am grateful to the years that have made me who I am. I don’t want to be any younger, I just want my knees to stop hurting.

Posted in Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Nancy’s Bird Nests

Nancy Spahr’s current exhibit of multi-media bird nests in Staunton, Virginia, is simultaneously inspiring and delightful…and disturbing.

Delightful because she combines surprising detail, careful research, and creative combinations of materials and media in her art work.

Take a look at one of her “assemblages”: basically a variation of a shadow box that contains an abandoned nest, 3D printed and hand-painted eggs, an image of a chipping sparrow superimposed on old dictionary paper.

Chipping Sparrow assemblage

Nancy emphasizes in her artist’s statement that all of her bird nests were collected well after the nesting cycle of the birds was completed. She made sure not to interfere with nature by researching each bird’s habits. Any feathers or wing parts used in her works are either from domestic fowl or found dead birds.

I particularly liked this painting of a robin’s nest cradled in the curves of an antler, the softness of the round nest held by the hard, spiky strength of the antlers.

Nest on deer antler

Another emotionally evocative piece was this mixed media construction of a robin mama guarding her nest:

Robin guarding her nest

The following piece, created with the use of oil, tar, sand and feathers, represents a barn swallow nest aptly entitled “Feathering Your Nest.” Nancy described how a pair of barn swallows built a nest from mud pellets, straw, grasses and poultry feathers inside a barn right above her work table. She had to move the table to avoid disturbing the swallow parents as they tended first to the eggs, then to the baby birds until they were ready to leave the nest.

Barn swallow nest

Then there was the disturbing part of the exhibit, city nests that incorporated trash we humans drop mindlessly wherever we go:

House sparrow city nest

When you look closely, you can see the cigarette butts woven into the nest! While research has shown that the chemicals in these cigarette butts may actually deter ticks and mites, they can also cause physical damage to the birds.

Lastly, the largest art piece was entitled “Is This The Bird’s Future?” incorporating familiar throw-away trash.

Is this the bird’s future?

A close-up:

What have we done to our world?!

To see more of Nancy Spahr’s art:

Posted in Animals and Critters, Artistic Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Bird watching – flagrant voyeurism

A huge wild cherry tree near our house broke into full bloom around the middle of May. 


Baltimore Oriole coupleSo when I saw a pair of Baltimore Orioles cavorting in its branches, I thought they were eating the cherry blossoms.  In the past, I’ve caught only glimpses of these orioles, a rare sight in the spring.  But now I started seeing them every day.  The flashes of bright orange yellow through the spring green canopy were easy to spot.
The more I watched the pair, the more I wondered why they seemed to return to the same place in the tree, the edge of some hanging branches.  The aha moment was thrilling…they were building a nest!

This is no ordinary nest! It is large and spacious, a woven sack suspended from the cherry tree branches. I had seen a nest like this on someone else’s property before. For years, I kept looking for one on my property, without success. And just like that, a nest was materializing before my very eyes, in viewing distance from my front porch. The gods had granted me my wish.

About a week later, as the cherry blossoms were way past their prime, I mostly saw the male flitting back and forth while the female must have started laying her eggs. Here you can see the male with food in its beak sitting close to the nest.

male oriole with food by nest

He then hopped on the opening of the nest and may have been feeding his wife sitting on her eggs.

male on top of nest

However, every once in a while, the missus was out and about herself and managed to catch a big, fat caterpillar here:

female oriole with caterpillar

One morning, as I sipped my coffee on the porch, I saw a small bird chasing a larger bird of prey. Through my binoculars, I recognized the male oriole who defended his territory against a potential nest robber. He was brave and fierce, dive bombing the much larger bird…and victorious in chasing the other bird away.

Watching this pair of orioles construct their home and defend it against would-be invaders has been a true gift. It made me think of all the work and effort that we invested in building our home, our own cozy nest, and how privileged we are to be enjoying its comforts and safety….along with the front seat voyeur’s view of the wildlife around us.

Posted in Animals and Critters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Dialogue with the Body

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Originally posted on The Beauty Along the Road:
I watched two swans go through their lengthy preening process, cleaning and smoothing their feathers with the help of their beak. How did they know which feathers needed tidying up and re-arranging?…

Gallery | 7 Comments