Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bunnies and bells

At sunrise this bunny hops across the rocks to the orange tree in our backyard. Sheltered by the leafy canopy, she rises on her tippy toes and gently nibbles the vegetation. Then she capers up a rocky incline and sits erect and still, facing the morning light. Do bunnies meditate? I think they do.

We go about our business and so does she until about two o’clock. In the heat of the day, she shows up under the orange tree for her nap. She’s scooped out a place in the rocks where she can lower her belly into earth cooled by irrigation. She wiggles down, gets comfy and places her head on a rocky pillow for a snooze.

These bells were once employed by my son-in-law’s family to call ranch hands to meals. Now they grace the wall of our desert getaway. I’ve always enjoyed the process of setting up a new home. It’s a chance to create change. We will live differently here. If I can keep distractions at bay, I will write more. It’s that’s a big “if,” because it’s my nature to engage.

“You went to water aerobics,” said my friend Sandy. “That’s a slippery slope!” She’s right. I also signed up to hear the pastor of the church we attend in the desert present his vision for senior ministry, “just so I can get ideas to bring home to our deacon board,” I assured my husband. Can I strike a balance between being neighborly and being reclusive? I hope I can.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How to set up a house in a week

System Requirements: Make sure you have a HEALTHY MARRIAGE before you attempt to set up a new house in one week. If you detect a problem in your connection, go to your Travel Agent and plan a nice vacation instead.

User Agreement:
  1. We agree that it is a good idea to go to the desert in July while the country is in a heat wave and the desert dwellers have largely vacated to the Northwest.
  2. We have learned from every mistake we ever made setting up houses in the past and are EAGER TO GET IT RIGHT this time.
  3. We are ON THE SAME PAGE about why we bought this house and how we plan to use it.
  4. We have determined this will be FUN for BOTH OF US.

Sancho--a housewarming gift from the kids
Surprisingly, we did set up our desert getaway in one week and it has been fun, except for the part where I got dehydrated, my Windows went into a blue screen funk from which it has not fully recovered, and a garage door repairman stood in the long line of people we are shelling money out to so we can get this thing done.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Book Lust

When I started writing seriously my literature libido declined. Too busy engaging with my own little set of characters, I didn’t have the energy to mingle at someone else’s party. But now that Faerewryn has gone off to be compiled into a progressive novel that may or may not go to print and Dolores requires an additional 30,000 words of tale spin, I’ve started reading again.

Author Ann Voskamp says in this week’s World Magazine that when you hit a dry spell in your writing, you aren’t reading enough. She suggests reading several books at once. They talk to each other and you can join the conversation.  She also maintains that list writing generates spiritual attentiveness. To that end, I’m recommitting to my practice of keeping an annotated list of what I’m reading. I use the Book Lust Journal by Nancy Pearl.

I’m drawn these days to read imagined characters set in real world context; most recently Caleb’s Crossing and Remarkable Creatures. In both cases the protagonists keep their minds and hearts open while working alongside people with limited perception. It’s always a push to see the bigger picture. 
As engaging as writing and reading are, it’s still a party with fictional people so I took myself off in search of the bigger picture—to Central Europe to meet real people in historical settings.  It’s inspiring to see young people emerging from centuries of oppression with hope for better times, even though hope is tempered with uncertainty.

My travel companion Sharon and her Polish cousins
I love the café societies where people meet face to face and electronic devices are consulted, not worn as armor against intruders.

I’m back in the New World now, missing the city squares where people gather in front of makeshift big screens to cheer their favorite football team—for free! I love crossing bridges that span the old and the new, walking cobblestone streets, popping into an art gallery or a palace (there’s not palace on your block?) to enjoy a concert before dinner, gazing out my window over red-topped roofs that undulate across the horizon of time, punctuated by golden church spires that wear globes, crosses and stars like a Hapsburg monarch wore her jewels. 

As lovely as the Old World is though, I would not trade freedom for antiquity.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

a Toast to Peter & Co.

We breakfast on cucumbers, cream cakes and cheese
We’ve all changed our thinking; we do want to please
We’ve learned to say new words, instructed by you
Like Allo and Ahoy and, of course, Dooby do!

A Ruin Pub in Budapest

Each day brings new challenge, wonder and fun
We know if it’s not good, the day’s just not done.
We do what we’re told; we go where we’re sent
Our optimism’s boundless, fierce, militant!

Our guides, Peter and Barbara

Your lectures inform us, now we know it’s not Zen
To say Eastern Europe, we won’t do it again.
And lest we forget who helped make our day
To Barbara and Bojan, Whoo hoo ! Na zdrajel!

King Matthias on Castle Hill in Buda

So let’s raise a beer to our next trip—Belize?
Heck, let’s raise a statue to our patron, Rick Steves!
Dear ladies and gentlemen, our trip’s at an end
To life, peace and Peter, our good commie friend.

Koszonom szepen Peter!