Saturday, August 27, 2005

Me and Keith at Dahlem Nature Center in Jackson, MI, photo by Gail Slaughter Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 25, 2005

My personal icon

You may have noticed that I changed my personal icon to a flower. I was noticing that the portrait-aligned pictures are bugger than the landscape aligned pictures and since I could not access my original self-portrait, probably because it's on the dead Dead computer, I randomly chose another image, with the idea that I might change it from time to time until I find something I am happy to stick with for a while.

Pain and Pleasure

I wrote a little piece on pain and pleasure and parked it in one of my other blogs for two reasons.

1)it is about pain
2)it is about sex.

Knowing that, if you still want to read it, click here:

Corona Fleura, by Mary Stebbins Posted by Picasa

“Lifting the Spoon to my Mouth”

When my father died in May of 1998, just before my birthday, my mother said, “I can’t believe it.” She looked like she couldn’t believe it, utterly mystified.

Later, she said, “I will never cook again.” And she never did. She ate frozen dinners or went out to eat with her friend Bernie or her friend Helen. She usually ordered whatever was cheapest on the menu, not because she was poor, but because she was from the depression era and was afraid to spend money.

When the doctor told her to keep her weight between 140 and 143, she gave up eating real food. She refused to give up desserts, so she stopped eating everything else. We would go to a restaurant and she would always order last. Her order: the richest most chocolaty thing on the menu. She said, “I have a serious case of chocolate poor blood.”

When the doctor said, you need to exercise she said, “The only exercise I need is lifting the spoon to my mouth.” Later, after the brain tumor was removed from her head, she was sent to rehab. But she didn’t like the exercises they required—it wasn’t enough like lifting a spoon. She refused to do them. And they sent her to the nursing home where she remains today.

Yesterday, I reread the poem, “Instants,” by Jorge Luis Borges

Instants (minus the line breaks, which I tried twice to fix and it wouldn't fix!)

If I could live again my life, In the next - I'll try, - to make more mistakes, I won't try to be so perfect, I'll be more relaxed, I'll be more full - than I am now, In fact, I'll take fewer things seriously, I'll be less hygenic, I'll take more risks, I'll take more trips, I'll watch more sunsets, I'll climb more mountains, I'll swim more rivers, I'll go to more places - I've never been, I'll eat more ice creams and less (lime) beans, I'll have more real problems - and less imaginary ones, I was one of those people who live prudent and prolific lives - each minute of his life, Offcourse that I had moments of joy - but, if I could go back I'll try to have only good moments, If you don't know - thats what life is made of, Don't lose the now! I was one of those who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, without a hot-water bottle, and without an umberella and without a parachute, If I could live again - I will travel light, If I could live again - I'll try to work bare feet at the beginning of spring till the end of autumn, I'll ride more carts, I'll watch more sunrises and play with more children,
If I have the life to live - but now I am 85,
- and I know that I am dying ...

Jorge Luis Borges

I’ve always liked that poem. But I think we need to make the right choices. To balance work with play (“All work and not play makes Jack a dull boy” [or Jill a dull girl]—but the converse is also true.). We need to balance seeking pleasure with taking care of ourselves.

Pam reminds me that the pleasure of instants need not come from lack of exercise and rich chocolaty desserts:

"You have the equipment for JOY -- eyes, ears, and an experiencedappreciation meter -- to get highs, off and on all day long :the light fingering the row of books, the drops of rain on theclothesline, the long shadow the pebble casts at dawn, thependulum swing of a wasp settling in for a drink at the birdbath, the crunch, and spurt of juice and scent, as you bite theapple, the addictive sweetness of the ripe plum and the breathtakingway it pulls off the secret in the center, the hazybloom on the grape, the coiling circles behind your dug paddlewhen canoeing, the -- oh, on and on." (Quote from Pam and yes I also posted it on Silk Creek Portal)

Here's to an appropriate, joyful healthy balance in our lives.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Graham, with his awards after the piano recital. Photo by Mary Stebbins Posted by Picasa

Quote from The Year of Pleasures

"Some mornings, when I read the newspaper, I wanted to weep or pound my fists on the table in frsutration. Some mornings, I actually did one of the other. But the museums offered up the other side of humanity: the glory and the grace." Elizabeth Berg, The Year of Pleasures, p 99

I loved reading this because I so often feel the same way when listening to NPR. I can't believe the choices our government makes for us. But art and poetry and music all show that we can be beautiful, we can transcend.
I am certain of nothing but the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination- John Keats

Monday, August 08, 2005

Something Nice for Lunch and Company

Scott's Bear, to Accompany Something Nice for Lunch (in spirit only). Photo by Mary Stebbins (sepia one on Silk Creek Portal) Posted by Picasa

Something nice for lunch

I made myself something nice for lunch today. It was the first time in over a week that I actually put any effort and thought into a meal. (I must be feeling a little better!)

I made a chicken sesame tossed salad with fake cheese. I cooked up the chicken fresh and sliced it over the salad. I made a fresh garlic-balsamic vinaigrette. I served it with toasted hemp bread sprinkled with roasted sesame seeds. It was a delightful meal fit for a loved one or company, but I ate it all by myself. (I only made one serving).

While I ate (and only while I ate), I read in The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg. I am enjoying the book very much even though I am reading it so slowly. In the last chapter, she met a handyman who said he'd fix anything for $15/hour and that made me nervous, thinking of The Handyman, by Carolyn See (lent to us by Gail). That was an excellent book, but also scary and upsetting.

Now I am ready to get back to work on preparing for my reading, a long slow painful process! I probably will not do any more readings until I get moved! Unless I can somehow plan it so I can work on them in DETROIT, not here. I just have too much to do here to do an adequate job.
I am certain of nothing but the Heart's affections and the truth of the Imagination- John Keats

Friday, August 05, 2005

GREEN: Graham with Dippin' Dots at Zoo. Posted by Picasa

Margaret (Mom) at Loretto, August 2, 2005 Posted by Picasa

A Hibiscus Wind

My mother, who’s living at Loretto nursing home now, had a brain tumor the size of a lemon, and though the operation was supposedly a success, she has lost her short-term memory and is often confused. But she sometimes says remarkable things:

A Hibiscus Wind

Mom rolls her wheelchair to the red hibiscus

in the nursing home lounge,

watches closely. Dusty petals tremble,

and so do her thin shoulders, rounded

under sweaters and afghans. She leans closer, bowing

her head toward the fabric blossoms. Her pale

face reflects scarlet and gold. She glows

with excitement, leans ever closer.

The air conditioner snorts, rattles, and wheezes.

"Oh," she says, backing suddenly away,

voice falling, like her hands. "It's only

the wind. I thought small birds

were gathering to burst out

and I wanted to be ready

to catch one."

Mary Stebbins,

For Margaret (Mom)

050804c , 050805a

I would like to be near the bush when the birds of wisdom and love burst forth and I’d want to gather them all into my arms for a moment. Perhaps they’ll arrive in a rainbow of color, sprinkle me with joy dust.

While my mother suffered only disappointment, I experienced something akin to a small epiphany, hearing her words and seeing images of these birds, seeing another world superimposed over the everyday one.

Mary, August 5, 2005

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Pentagonal Purse

The Pentagonal Purse (I don't know what these are--do you--leave me a comment if you do). I love that bud.

Thank you to the anonymous commenter for the information on this kind of flower:

Balloon Flower

Platycodon grandiflorus (Plat - i - koh' - don) is a single species plant, but fortunately it is very variable.

Native range is primarily Japan and Northern China, Korea and Eastern Siberia. There it grows in grassy open places on hills and mountains. The weather they survive in those areas makes the plant adaptable to a cold hardiness of Zone 3; heat tolerant in all but the Gulf Coast and Southern Florida.

Soil conditions are usually rich with humus, well drained. The root systems are large and carrot-like, making them tolerant of dry conditions, but they perform best with adequate moisture.

Full sun is best for bloom, however light open shade is acceptable.

Stems are stiffly upright on Balloon Flowers. As foliage matures the plant takes on an overall vase shape. Buds and blooms develop, adding to the weight of the individual stems. When the first rains appear during bloom you can count on the stems falling over, so staking is required if floppy flowers are not desired.

Height is 24-30", so this is the way the plant places it's seeds away from the parent. Leaves are bluish-green or gray-green in color with sharp-toothed margins. Outline is generally ovate to a rounded lance shape about 3" in length. Leaves are arranged in whorls the base of the stem, becoming alternate as they ascend.

The plant received its name from the inflated buds. As they mature each bud swells until it resembles a paper lantern or balloon.

The balloons open into five pointed broadly shaped shallow bells, sometimes described as saucer shaped stars. Blooms resemble Campanulas to which they are related.

Petals, which can reach up to 3" across, are arranged solitary and terminal. Veins of a deeper color radiate outward from center to pointed tips, further enhancing color and form. Reminds me of landing guides for bees. Buds and blooms are long lasting both in the garden and as cut flowers for the table.

Balloon Flowers are important plants for the late season garden. They begin blooming in mid-July lasting through the month of August. Colors of white, pink and lavender are available with shades of blue being the most common. Blue is a color not frequently found in any season.

Cut flower fans will appreciate the long stout stems and large blooms. Be sure and sear the milky stems before placing in water. They are easy to grow and thrive during our most humid and hot weather. For more information.

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