Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's All Uphill!

I love these wonderful tree roots snaking their way over the mossy ground. It always makes me think about how our veins branch out over our body to carry blood to all the cells. Having put IVs in these veins as a part of my first vocation (as a nurse anesthetist) I love the way these "root-veins" show themselves so readily! I know that underground are highways of roots as these trees seek water and other nutrients. This fact becomes quite apparent when I dig around my house trying to find places to transplant flowers. Let's just say that the trees are pretty darned healthy!

Piper on the hunt!
This morning Piper and I walked down to Glade Pond. We walked north on the Parkway and went downhill for a mile. It was absolutely no challenge getting there but coming back...oh my! Actually, the climb back home was not too bad. There is something about just dropping your legs down into climbing gear and going for it that feels good (when it stops hurting). I think I must be part mountain goat because I would much rather go uphill than down. When we got to Glade Pond this morning I took Piper's leash and Gentle Leader off and let her run. She stayed in the water all of about 45 seconds and then was off to scavenge crumbs from under the picnic tables. I kept thinking of my old Katie, who would have had to be dragged out of the water to go home. She loved to swim. But Piper wasn't seduced by the cool charms of the water! It is a beautiful place and it was so quiet there this morning.

Morning Light
The Rhododendrons are still blooming everywhere. I love the light and the incredible shades of green in this picture. Can you tell that living here brings great joy to me?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Struggling to Understand

The Better Toy

It has been a busy couple of weeks. Lots of long visits with friends who have come to visit me and the mountains. I love the time to "hash and rehash" the events swirling around us. When no one is here I find myself talking to the dog and cat...but they are such poor respondents! The picture above was on Rachel Held Evans blog (see "Oh the places you will go") and it is really thought provoking for me.

So... I grew up playing with dolls. I sat under my mother's sewing machine and I would use the scraps of fabric to "dress" my dolls. The dolls in their variety of "outfits" let my imagination roam to places and events. I explored the world with them - saris for some, evening dresses for others, suits for the boys, hats for the Queen... And I learned the feel of fabrics - the roughness of wool, the soft, shiny feel of silk, the joy of "just plain cotton". I guess it's the reason I still love to work with fibers of all kinds.

And I wonder how our children will learn the "feel" of the world? The IPad (which I covet; let's just name the sin!) is a wonderful tool for learning and exploring. I watch children with them and I am amazed at how the youngest can maneuver all those apps and make music and art come alive. It is such an instant world for them. Dolls can be dressed in seconds without pins or glue. Virtual sequins added to complete the outfit without the frustration of trying to hold a slick, tiny bit of shine while attaching it to fabric.

Perhaps my wondering is a part of feeling the world change and not liking it very much. I wonder if we are making the world "more"; or are we slowly diminishing our interaction with the stuff of creation? How will all this technology affect our relationship with creation? Any thoughts among those of you who visit this blog?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Plain Experience

This is the Poem I wrote on Saturday at the Writing Workshop. The lead in for writing was: "Imagine yourself in a vehicle..."

The Plain Experience

It never occurs to me

that I will have to land one day.

I was set free from the Mother ship,

and now all I can see is sky;

crisp blue, and new sun

breaking over the horizon.

If I move to the left, I soar wildly,

tilting over a earth so green that

I want to plant my feet

in its mossy goodness.

But not yet…and so I lean again;

this time to the right. Water everywhere;

hard and sharp as shining metal.

Will I go under? Or crash

on its unbending surface?

Neither happens as I ease

back into the cockpit nest;

resting …listening.

A sudden breeze catches me up

and I fly, racing against the moment

when I will one day land.

MAH, June 25, 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011


This morning Piper and I did our most adventurous hike. We left the house at 7:15am and hiked a mile and a half up the Parkway (going south from our house). After the first mile it was straight up but oh the wonderful reward of this view. The Parkway is closed going south from this lookout as they repair the stone work. After resting for a while we walked home. I must have been inspired by my great-niece Christa, who wrote about hiking 15 miles with her grandfather (my brother) last week. Inspiration will take you places you never thought you could go...but now I'm just tired!

Pictured here is my latest wildflower find. I don't know the name of this plant/flower - it's not in my little wildflower book. It is really pretty and grows quite plentifully along the side of the road. The top is a silvery pale green and I'm not really sure it is even a flower. It may be a kind of foliage.

So, given the below picture would you say that Piper has found her comfort zone here at my house? She does have a dog bed on the floor (actually under the dining room table) and she sleeps there at night, but this is her daytime napping place. She is such a long lean puppy dog!

Saturday I went to Winston - Salem to a writer's workshop with Pat Schneider. She is the founder of the Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA). The philosophy of AWA is that everyone is a writer and every writer deserves a safe environment in which to experiment, learn and develop craft. The website for AWA is There were about 60 people at the workshop which was free (sponsored by the Winston-Salem Writer's Guild). We listened to Pat speak for about an hour and then split into 3 groups to write together. The environment for reading the work we did afterwards was incredibly safe and encouraging. No one was forced to read their work but when a piece was read it was treated with respect. Everyone offered their own reflections about what was meaningful to them in the poem or story.

I remember the first poetry workshop I attended (which cost quite a bit of money). I had submitted poems to the instructor before the workshop. When I read one of the poems to the group the instructor began by saying, "This poem does not tell us anything about the subject - it lacks creativity and style." I really don't remember anything about the workshop after that and I attended very few of the classes. It took me a long time after that workshop to even want to write again. The Poetry Workshop I attended last summer at the Iowa State Summer Writer's Festival was completely different from that first one. The teacher, Elizabeth Robinson, created a safe environment for learning and she wrote with us, asking for our reflections on her writing. I wonder how many of us would feel more confident about writing if we had been given a safer environment at some point along the way?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More Wildflowers

It is a rainy day in the mountains. Piper and I are still hoping for a walk - it's no fun walking with an umbrella. Yesterday we found lots of beautiful flowers. Last Sunday was Trinity Sunday and the wonderful mystery of God's nature pictured in three persons. There is no way our human brains can adequately understand the Trinity but we get glimpses. One certainty is that within God resides this incredible mix of feminine and masculine. How else can we - everyone of us - be created in God's image? And oh the colors of creation (including humanity), everyone beautiful and unique. It is an overwhelming realization that each of these beautiful flowers was drawn by the Creator's hand. And that reminds me of Rembrandt's painting of the return of the prodigal son. The father, seated, is welcoming his son home. The son kneels and the father's hands rest on his shoulders. One of the father's hands is distinctly masculine while the other is just as distinctly feminine. Jesus told this parable to show us who God is - the father always welcoming us back - and Rembrandt, a creator of beauty himself, knew the nature of the Master Creator well. As the young people today say...all I'm saying here is that I think it takes some major estrogen to create these beauties! Okay enough theologizing!

Fly poison
This plant is growing in my yard and the picture doesn't really do it justice. The leaves and roots are extremely toxic to cattle and my wildflower book says that some people call it "crow poison".

Large Purple Fringed Orchis
These members of the Orchid family grow in thick bunches alongside the Parkway. They add beautiful color to the ordinary weeds and Queen Anne's Lace that mix themselves in with it.

Tall Milkweed
This is certainly not what I grew up calling "milkweed" but according to the book this is indeed milkweed. It's not very showy and tends to hide among the other bushes and weeds along the road. The picture is not very clear but the flowers have a purplish inside and a pale ivory flower.

The next two pictures are different species of Black-eyed Susans! The lovely lady in this picture is Piper's first encounter with a cow. Piper was more impressed than Miss Susan!

This last picture is Butterfly Weed. It lives up to its name because every morning when we walk by it there are butterflies sitting on the flowers. I grew up calling this "chigger weed". The wildflower book says that this name has caused an unfounded prejudice to the flower. It sure did for me. I always wanted to pick it but I sure didn't want those chiggers! Now I know....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wildflowers in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Piper and Martha headed up the Blue Ridge Parkway

Every morning Piper and I head south on the BRP for a long walk. The parkway is closed going south from our house (local traffic is permitted) to repair and replace the stone bridges and railings. It's a quiet time of day and we often round a curve and see deer in the road. I found a book on wildflowers at the used book store in Sparta and now we are trying to identify all the flowers we see. So I thought I would show you some of the common and not so common ones.

This is mountain laurel, mountain ivy or "calico bush", depending on where you grew up. It has just finished blooming and the mountains were covered. It varies in degree of pinkness; some are deep pink and others almost white. The flowers are saucer shaped and I grew up picking them and then one by one letting them float down the creek like little ships!

This is Catawba Rhododendron and it is way more "showy" than the laurels. Purples of all colors bloom out from shiny dark green leaves. This year I saw one rhododendron that was a red - a deep purple red. These are also pretty much finished blooming although I saw one this morning that was just beginning to bloom.
This is a Lady's Slipper and according to the book it is a stemless Lady's Slipper - the leaves being stemless not the flower. I found these in my neighbor's yard and yes, I coveted them! They are in the orchid family. I did not find any of the smaller yellow ones this year - they are not as common as these pink ones.

So tomorrow I will post some pictures of a really unusual plant I found in my yard which is called "fly poison"! Stay tuned....

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Ocean....

An Old Lover

It’s been years since

I saw you.

You haven’t changed a bit

too busy for me

in the middle of the day;

summer’s heat washing

in and out.

Predictable. That’s what

you are

some, like me, might call you


But you settle for nothing

less than the depths and

even there you move,


anxious as a dog in heat.

You wear

white hats – they fit you well;

framing your shameless shadowy


You reach up,

to shelter your heart from

the light which bleaches

your beauty.

Or is it a greeting? The wave

quickly falling as you recognize

my cool glance.

Your flirting

turns into a trench of foam

at my feet.

You will not be my lover.

I have another.

mah – June 11, 2011

Topsail Beach