Friday, November 28, 2008

In memoriam

We buried a beloved friend and teacher this morning, just as the rain was starting to fall. Relatively small of stature, weighing in  at twelve or thirteen pounds, Calvin was nonetheless a big presence in our household. I often referred to him as my Zen teacher, since his example was often of that kind of single-minded attention to the present moment at which cats, and most other non-human mammals, excel. I loved watching him wash, methodically and thoroughly, never in a hurry, as if just this endeavor at just this moment (and string of moments) was the only one that mattered. Until something better caught his attention, that is. 

Calllie, as we called him, was a lover of cozy places--under the wood stove, on an open lap, and especially on the best, most comfortable chair nearest the heat. I will miss his company in my lap and even his way of stealing my  body-warmed seat that I would often have vacated for only a matter of seconds, to find it occupied on my return.

To be honest, Callie did have some annoying habits, but it's amazing how quickly those fade with a sudden loss (sadly, he was mortally injured by a car). When we buried him this morning, we remembered his ready purr; his playfulness; his leaping several feet off the ground to try to catch the leaves on low-hanging maple branches; his way of walking with us around the block, his bell jingling as he darted onto and around the stone wall near the Ferlands' house, and often racing with an impressive homeward sprint through the Cloughs' yard, across the Porters' yard, and straight to our back door. I liked to think he was an honorable descendant of the fastest big cats of the African plains.

So, with thanksgiving for a small and relatively short life, that reached farther than we ever knew (as we learn from neighbors their own enjoyment of his antics), we bid Calvin good bye. Next spring we'll plant some catmint over his burial place in the garden.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Piles of Money: part two

A few weeks ago I began making piles of money. This may come as a surprise to the people who know me best, since they also know that I do not exactly have a lucrative paying job or a rollicking career in full swing at the moment. After the finding of the wad of money described in "Piles of Money: part one" and after drawing the drawing posted there, I got very fond of that little drawing. One day I decided to see what would happen if I made multiple copies of it in different sizes and even colored them in a little bit. (American money is such an odd hue of green, I had to use three different colored pencils to get close!). And I rather got a kick out of the process and even more of a kick from the fact that I could actually say to myself (and to the air around me), "I'm making piles of money!" and be telling a kind of truth. I made one for myself and one for a friend, so that I was truly making more than one pile.

Now I know that this hand-made money will not buy groceries or pay the mortgage. And yet I have to say that on certain days making another pile of money, or even just looking at the ones I've made, lightens my heart about money, which is quite an accomplishment given the economic news these days. I only make more money (sometimes just a little at a time) when I am reasonably confident that I will enjoy it, rather than feel stupid about it or let it cause me more worry. I even colored in and cut out some new bills the other day when I knew I would be on hold waiting to speak with the financial aid office of my daughter's college. It was a great antidote!

If you'd like your very own pile of money for cultivating financial light-heartedness (or whatever other positive attitude you might choose), let me know. I'm sure we can work something out. I could provide a ready-made pile of money--either in the "traditional" pile form, as pictured, or in the newer "cascading" form of bills strung together with thread to hang where they will move in the air, as if falling from above. I could even set you up with a "make your own piles of money kit" complete with some blank drawings and a few colored pencils. That way you too can say in all honesty, no matter what your financial circumstances, "I'm making piles of money!"

And if all this sounds just too wacky for you, and you can't imagine how a born-and-raised- Yankee-WASP-former Episcopal priest got to this point and you'd like to know, ask! And I'll try to remember.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November Skies

David recently commented that he loves November's skies. They certainly can be dramatic, fast-changing, and wear intriguing hues. I tend to think of the skies in Maine being pretty dramatic all winter long. 

But even in summer and fall (and spring, too?) I am often dumbfounded, as on the day in mid-September when I made this painting looking toward Portland from Mackworth Island. I think you can tell that the sky was the part I really wanted to paint and enjoyed the most!

P.S. If something about this looks familiar, it's because the top third of the painting is the backdrop to my blog's name.

P.P.S. I promise I'll get to "Piles of Money: part two" very soon.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Piles of Money: part one

"The universe provides," my friend Mary said as she handed me a bag of food to take to Anna, who had left a message on my cell phone hoping for some food when I picked her up to go to the bus station, headed for New York City. 

"That's for sure," I said, noticing as I did so that the wad of money I'd found just a few hours ago was still sitting on Mary's table. If Anna hadn't forgotten to bring lunch money and hadn't called me, if I hadn't found the message at the right time and asked Mary for some bars and fruit, I'd have left "my money" behind. 

As it was, I had only found the money--two twenties and a ten--because the car was running out of gas and I happened to notice the dashboard indicator blinking at me just before reaching the one highway rest stop with gas before I would get to New Hampshire. I admit that I did grumble a little at the empty gas tank, yet I also registered some grateful amazement at the timing of it, being so near to the rest stop. So I had called Mary by cell phone to tell her I'd be a little late, and just as I started to speak, I looked down at my feet and saw the wad of bills. "Hey! I just found $40," I said into the phone as I picked it up. "No...make that $50!"

Now just a few hours later, it was as if I more or less found the money again, just before heading out the door to return to Maine. Somehow I think that wad of money must have wanted to spend some time with me or something. 

So I honored it with the loving portrait you see above.

Stay tuned for "Piles of Money: part two."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Still Reverberating

Six days later, and the event that was last week's election still reverberates and works on my imagination. Right now, for instance, Barack and Michelle are being greeted and shown around the White House by W and Laura. What will Michelle and Laura talk about while Barack and George get down to work? There's so much to look forward to with Barack and Michelle in the White House. Among all sorts of possibilities, I delight in what Nicholas Kristof pointed out in yesterday's New York Times: that Americans have just picked a president who is "an open, out of the closet, practicing intellectual." And the future first lady, too! A return to brain power at the White House--imagine that!

I, like so many others, find myself still savoring election night and the day after--the rich tumble of images from home and around the world, the faces radiating joy, relief, near disbelief; the interior realization that this election was and is about so much more than I might have dared to think, so much bigger than one guy (the Democrat for a change) beating the other guy. It is a story worth savoring and remembering and retelling, in part because it reminds us how often we spin and believe and give power to stories that aren't necessarily true in the present, even if they were once true in the past. Stories like the "Bradley effect." Stories like "this country isn't ready for an African-American president." So part of this election story is about the power to rewrite the stories we believe in and invest with power to shape us. It's about taking back some of that power when we dare to hope differently and to stake some part of ourselves on trusting a different story.

The painting doesn't really have anything specific to do with any of this! It was painted in September in response to (what else?) trees in the backyard. Maybe it feels right for today because it's an image that's a reverberating-in-the-imagination kind of thing, or maybe just because I like it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Exhausted Elation

Kind of tired, today...can't imagine why. Up past midnight for the best of reasons. Yet elation and exhaustion are not a bad mix. A light, joyful, grateful, relieved heart gives strength to a weary body. One of Anna's friends said this morning: "It was as if the air seemed cleaner this morning!" Lighter, too.

Bekah reports that the District of Columbia was whooping it up, singing it up, dancing it up, honking it up all through the night. Serenading the White House, and Lincoln, who sits calmly as always, smiling wisely, from his lofty seat looking toward the Capitol. Thinking of Lincoln there's a deep sense of the circling of time, the mantle passed from one Illinois senator to another, by and through so many along the way. Emancipation!

We (that would be millions of us) did it! And now there's lots to be done and lots to look forward to.