Friday, December 23, 2011

Anniversaries

This week we Jews celebrate an anniversary of a victory “of the weak over the strong, the few over the many, and the righteous over the arrogant.” (Gates of Prayer: The New Union Prayerbook, p. 642)


On the first night of this celebration we pray:

Blessed art thou, O Lord our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors in days of old, at this season.

and

Blessed art thou, O Lord our G-d, Ruler of the Universe, who gives us life, sustains us, and enables us to reach this season.

Then we light candles for eight nights in remembrance of this anniversary.

This Chanukkah also coincides with the 100th anniversary of my father’s birth (no longer his “birthday” as he died two years ago), and of significance to me, the thirtieth anniversary of my official conversion to Judaism. This means that starting now, I have been a Jew for more than half of my life.

I’d known that I wanted to be a Jew from the time I was about fifteen, but did not act upon that desire until I turned thirty. With my thirtieth birthday it seemed like it was time to make some changes, so I began studying with the Reform congregation’s Rabbi in Lexington, Kentucky in February 1981, attending services and becoming part of the Adaith Israel Congregation. In November 1981, I stood before the congregation during Shabbat evening services and spoke the words that made me officially bat Israel (daughter of Israel).

From a distance, in California, my father had shown in interest and expressed support in my transformation. So I asked him to make a Chanukkah menorah for me for my first official Jewish holiday observance. I drew a sketch of what I wanted, which involved simply drilling holes in a solid rectangular block of wood, a task that would be easy for my dad with his well equipped woodworking shop.

I made two mistakes. First, I asked for the holes to be sized to fit regular candles. Little did I know that proper Jewish observance requires fresh candles for each night of Chanukkah, and that adds up to 44 candles – and most Jewish families use Chanukkah menorahs sized for candles not much larger than those that go on a birthday cake. Second, I did not explain to my father that my little sketch of a block of wood with eight candles at the same height and only one elevated, was based on proper Jewish observance – only the shammus (servant) candle is traditionally at a different height.

My father, intent on doing an extra special job in creating this menorah for me, pulled out all his woodworking tricks. He built a graduated platform, and then with his lathe, turned individual wooden cups for each candle. He lined the bottom of it with green felt and burned the date into the base.

For thirty years, I’ve considered, replacing my father’s not very Jewish beautiful candelabra, with a small, more appropriately Jewish menorah. But I always end up rejecting the idea, and going out once again in search of 44 large candles to light my eight nights of Chanukkah.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Creatures of Habit

Dogs are by  nature conservative, they crave routine and familiarity. Dogs happily take up routines and then insist that their humans stick to those routines.

Just seven weeks ago, my physician read me the riot act - with weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides all up, I had to start getting exercise.  This is difficult because I also have rheumatoid arthritis and exercise equates with pain in my back, hips, knees, feet, etc.  But my physician insisted and made me promise to try 10 minutes of walking every day.  She reminded me of how fit I had been five years ago when I walked the dog every day. 

This exhortation came at a good time. My husband John who had been walking both our dogs had to give it up when a sudden appearance by a stray cat, resulted in him face down being dragged down hill into the blackberry brambles. Two big dogs was just too much for one person to handle.

So that day, after my appointment, I came home and started our new routine. After John went for a 30 minute walk/run with our younger, more energetic dog Molly, we feed both dogs their evening meal, and then it was my turn to take Rosie for our 10 minute (now a little longer) exercise through the neighborhood. 

It was quite a struggle at first, between Rosie having forgotten how to behave like a proper dog with me, and all my aches and pains. But now things go much more smoothly, Rosie is well behaved, and the aches and pains are slower in their on set.

Rosie knows the routine very well now, after just seven weeks. As soon as her supper is eaten she looks to me to gather the baggie (to scoop the inevitable poop) and leash, and head out for our exercise. Makes it a whole lot easier to stick to the exercise when you've got those big, liquid brown eyes on you waiting for a walk.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

early morning sights in late September

feral cats on the back stoop waiting for food in the faint light...
brilliant green katydid on the front railing like a leaf with legs...
Hickory tussock moth caterpillar all fuzzy white and black on the siding (don't touch!)...
a thriving clump of Pennsylvania smartweed with its tiny pink flowers...
towering joe-pye weed beginning to bow from its own weight...
dozens of dew encrusted spiderwebs between the telephone cables lining the road...
a neighbor's rooster, red combed and strutting his two plume like tail feathers swaying proudly...

Monday, September 5, 2011

first draft

Was driving home in the pouring rain (remnants of Lee) from my weekly shopping trip, and the first few lines of a song came to me. Had to stop the car - twice - to write them down as they came to me (seem to have lost my little tape recorder in our move last winter). Here's the first draft. Now all I need is a musician with a tune!


Here am I.
Here are you.

We thought that love
Would see us through,
Why couldn’t we
Both be true?

We never knew
Life was so tough,
That hearts and flowers
Weren’t enough.

Then jobs were lost
And bills unpaid,
The dreams we planned
Became unmade.

You went off
to right the wrongs,
while I stayed home
to sell my songs.

I never knew
Why you came back,
Was it for me,
Or what you lacked?

Life burdened you
Down so low,
Did you think
You could not go?

So here we are
Within the dark,
Reaching out
To find that spark.

A lesser life
Than what we cared,
But together wiser
Than we dared.

©sgreerpitt
Monday 5 September 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kittens become Cats

The original "popcorn kittens" from 2009

Like many other people I am entranced by the antics of kittens. Unlike many people, I do enjoy the company of adult cats as well. The delight that people take in kittens and their antipathy towards adult cats contributes to the problem of cat over-population in our area, and the failure of people to neuter and spay.

They have little incentive to do so, they like seeing tiny kittens gamboling around in the summer sunshine so why would they want to shut off the supply of those kittens? Many give little thought, little food and less shelter, to the cats those kitten become by winter time. In a rural area like this even with food and shelter outdoor, feral cats fall prey to coyotes and other wild menaces (including automobiles). Even with the attrition, by spring there are still enough cats to produce plenty of new litters of kittens to amuse folks, and the cycle repeats.

There are too many kitten lovers, and not enough cat lovers, like myself, willing to make the effort to capture and spay or neuter the adults, provide them with basic veterinary care (like rabies shots), and provide food and shelter. The cost of which is overwhelming to private individuals like myself.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bulletins from the Land of Dementia

A couple of days ago in our regular nightly telephone conversation my mother, made a passing comment about the sheets on her bed. She said that they were strange sheets, not her "real" sheets, and did I know where her real sheets might be. Since I have not been in her house for more than two years, and much has been rearranged by my brother and her daily home health care worker Jennifer, I told her that I did not know where her sheets were kept.

I know, from talking to Jennifer and my brother, that there have not been any changes in mother's bedding (other than regular washing)so I thought it was peculiar that she suddenly decided that the sheets on her bed were different and not her "real" sheets.

Today, I got more insight into what was going on. She told me that she had been (with the help of Jennifer) looking through all the closets, drawers, and chests looking for the "real" sheets, because (and here's where it gets strange) the sheets on her bed were slipping into her mind and giving her strange and bad dreams.

She "knows" that it has to be the sheets, after all she says, the sheets are "strange" and not the "real" sheets, so they must be pushing themselves into her mind when she is sleeping and causing the bad dreams.

Sad, yet weirdly humorous.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

waning moon






Waning moon

Scythe sharp
Brilliant crescent
Nestles among
Dark pines
Lacing hilltops.

sgreerpitt
Tuesdy July 5, 2011






Creative Commons License
"waning moon" poem and painting by sgreerpitt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com/.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

One Single Impression -- Crater


crater

cosmic impact,
obliterated crust,
shocked quartz,
iridium laden clouds,
cold, dark world;
from all that death
new life…
our kind.

sgreerpitt
Sunday 3 July 2011

Creative Commons License
"crater " by sgreerpitt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com/.

The photograph of shocked quartz, uncredited from National Space and Aeronautics Admininstration (NASA) http://rst.gsfc.nasa.gov/Sect18/Sect18_4.html

For more posts on the prompt "crater" by other poets go to One Single Impression.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

One Single Impression -- Seven Sins



immune to prayer
-unlike gods-
implacable nature
punishes sins,
greed and pride,
with civilizations'
demise.

Creative Commons License
"sins against nature" by sgreerpitt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com/.


Check out the poetry of other writers responding to this prompt at One Single Impression.

It has been more than a year (one year and three months almost to the day) since I last posted a poem for One Single Impression. I'm not entirely sure why I stopped. This morning, I decided it was time to get those creative juices flowing again. When I went to the OSI site, however, I was a bit dismayed at this week's prompt "seven sins," as I don't believe in "sin" in any conventional sense, nor in a parent-like god that personally assigns punishments in some afterlife for sinful behavior.

My belief is in a transcendent, omnipresent, everlasting power in the universe that is expressed through an inexorable physics of matter and energy that governs all activity and relationships. In this universe actions have consequences, some positive, some negative, some devastatingly destructive and some breathtakingly creative. There are no excuses, no pardons, no exceptions, no bargains to be struck or deals to be made. We either work with the power of the universe or we struggle against it. We can fool ourselves - indeed whole civilizations can fool themselves - thinking that we can do whatever we want, because consequences in reality are often incremental and slow, and do not manifest themselves until years, even centuries later.

I'm not just talking about man's relationship to the physical world, although that is upper most in my mind at the moment. This applies in to human interaction as well. There are universal issues and conditions, cooperation, trust, honesty, competition, sharing, exchange, truthfulness, and many others, that operate in the same inexorable way. To gain trust, one must trust, and behave in a trustworthy manner; violate these principles and trust erodes and disappears.

So on reading the prompt, I thought, perhaps it's time to think about a new set of seven "sins", related to these laws of the universe. However, after pursuing Wikipedia's discussion of the Catholic Church's seven deadly sins, I've decided that properly understood the original list really does encompass all the things I'd been thinking about.

Friday, June 10, 2011

a year of small stones - 016


unmistakeable fragrance
of summer rain
on hot, dry lawns
and dusty leaves.


sgreerpitt
Friday June 10, 2011


"small stone 016" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

the corruption of power

I like to remind myself at times like these that there are and have been wonderful, decent, honest, men of integrity who have been U.S. Congressmen.

My freshman year at Oberlin College in Ohio, I got to know personally U.S. Congressman Don Pease because he and his wife (with their 5 year old daughter) were the dorm "parents" in my dormitory. Over the next ten years I interacted frequently with the Pease family. While I was a student at Oberlin, I was their daughter's primary babysitter, and I worked on two of Don's Congressional campaigns. After college I remained in touch and visited as often as I could.

The Peases were not rich, or even particularly affluent. They lived in modest rental housing both during his years in Congress and after he retired. Don was a staunch advocate of education, energy, environment and public transportation issues. The only "perk" I ever knew him to take from all his years of public service other than the legally defined salary, benefits and pension, was occasional passes on Amtrak, a government agency that he worked hard to promote. Don Pease was a quiet, gentle man who was beloved as both a husband and father.

So I know first hand that some office holders are not corrupted by the power of their positions. Unfortunately that cannot be said of all.

I am not one of Anthony Weiner's constituents; I've never contributed money to his campaigns; I'm not a friend or family member. But nonetheless I feel betrayed by his actions and especially by the week of lies that he told about his actions.

My sense of betrayal comes because Weiner was a vocal proponent for issues about which I passionately care. He was an eloquent, feisty, acerbic, witty, and even at times belligerent voice in Congress that said things that I would like to say, about the abuses of money, greed and power. I know now that I will never have the same level of comfort or satisfaction with Weiner's public pronouncements. When I see and hear Weiner, from now on I will always know that he is capable of bald-faced lies and deception, and wonder.

In the film Mr. Smith Goes to Washington Jimmy Stewart has an emotional, histrionic breakdown in front of the Senate. We accept this in the context of the movie because we have been shown that this is a man who always tells the truth, a man of integrity. Take away the integrity, and all you have is noise, bluster and showmanship.

I am sad and angry both. We don't take well to finding out our heroes are liars.

Friday, May 20, 2011

my dog ate the remote - thank goodness for Dollar General

Dollar General stores are the new general stores of small town America in the twenty-first century. They are small and crowded with a wide range of inexpensive, but necessary items. There's not much choice. But when the dog eats your TV remote (as mine did this afternoon) you can find a new one (only one choice) at Dollar General for $10.

To do any significant shopping, in our rural area I have to drive at least 13 miles to Walmart. But there's a Dollar General store about three miles away, that can help when dealing with emergencies. We actually had two today: an huge invasion of ants in our brand new kitchen, and the aforementioned dog attack on the remote. The Dollar General store provided me with ant traps, ant poison spray, and a new remote -- plus some chocolate goodies to sooth my ruffled spirits.

The Dollar General store has clothing, household goods, toys, food, and many of the types of things that used to be found in old fashioned general stores. The one thing that's missing is the old guys, sitting around on wooden chairs playing checkers, and discussing the weather. Maybe that's an idea to pass on to corporate headquarters.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

How Can We Value Necessary Work?

A friend of mine posted a link to a very interesting blog post:  Being Blog - The Work We Value, The Intelligence We Ignore: Is the Work that Made America Great Valued Any Longer?  The focus of the post was on the testimony from Mike Rowe, the creator and host of Dirty Jobs, before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation about the current contradiction in the American labor force.  Today, while we have high unemployment, we also have thousands of skilled, blue-collar, manual labor jobs that are going unfilled. Here is Mr. Rowe's testimony in its entirety:
“Chairman Rockefeller, Ranking Member Hutchison and members of this committee, my name is Mike Rowe, and I want to thank you all very much for the opportunity to testify before you today.

I’m here today because of my grandfather.

His name was Carl Knobel, and he made his living in Baltimore as a master electrician. He was also a plumber, a mechanic, a mason, and a carpenter. Everyone knew him as a jack-of-all-trades. I knew him as a magician.

For most of his life, my grandfather woke up clean and came home dirty. In between, he accomplished things that were nothing short of miraculous. Some days he might re-shingle a roof. Or rebuild a motor. Or maybe run electricity out to our barn. He helped build the church I went to as a kid, and the farmhouse my brothers and I grew up in. He could fix or build anything, but to my knowledge he never once read the directions. He just knew how stuff worked.

I remember one Saturday morning when I was 12. I flushed the toilet in the same way I always had. The toilet however, responded in a way that was completely out of character. There was a rumbling sound, followed by a distant gurgle. Then, everything that had gone down reappeared in a rather violent and spectacular fashion.

Naturally, my grandfather was called in to investigate, and within the hour I was invited to join he and my dad in the front yard with picks and shovels.

By lunch, the lawn was littered with fragments of old pipe and mounds of dirt. There was welding and pipe-fitting, blisters and laughter, and maybe some questionable language. By sunset we were completely filthy. But a new pipe was installed, the dirt was back in the hole, and our toilet was back on its best behavior. It was one of my favorite days ever.

Thirty years later in San Francisco when my toilet blew up again. This time, I didn't participate in the repair process. I just called my landlord, left a check on the kitchen counter, and went to work. When I got home, the mess was cleaned up and the problem was solved. As for the actual plumber who did the work, I never even met him.

It occurred to me that I had become disconnected from a lot of things that used to fascinate me. I no longer thought about where my food came from, or how my electricity worked, or who fixed my pipes, or who made my clothes. There was no reason to. I had become less interested in how things got made, and more interested in how things got bought.

At this point my grandfather was well into his 80s, and after a long visit with him one weekend, I decided to do a TV show in his honor. Today, Dirty Jobs is still on the air, and I am here before this committee, hoping to say something useful. So, here it is.

I believe we need a national PR Campaign for Skilled Labor. A big one. Something that addresses the widening skills gap head on, and reconnects the country with the most important part of our workforce.

Right now, American manufacturing is struggling to fill 200,000 vacant positions. There are 450,000 openings in trades, transportation and utilities. The skills gap is real, and it’s getting wider. In Alabama, a third of all skilled tradesmen are over 55. They’re retiring fast, and no one is there to replace them.

Alabama’s not alone. A few months ago in Atlanta I ran into Tom Vilsack, our Secretary of Agriculture. Tom told me about a governor who was unable to move forward on the construction of a power plant. The reason was telling. It wasn't a lack of funds. It wasn't a lack of support. It was a lack of qualified welders.

In general, we’re surprised that high unemployment can exist at the same time as a skilled labor shortage. We shouldn't be. We’ve pretty much guaranteed it.

In high schools, the vocational arts have all but vanished. We’ve elevated the importance of “higher education” to such a lofty perch that all other forms of knowledge are now labeled “alternative.” Millions of parents and kids see apprenticeships and on-the-job-training opportunities as “vocational consolation prizes,” best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree. And still, we talk about millions of “shovel ready” jobs for a society that doesn’t encourage people to pick up a shovel.

In a hundred different ways, we have slowly marginalized an entire category of critical professions, reshaping our expectations of a “good job” into something that no longer looks like work. A few years from now, an hour with a good plumber — if you can find one — is going to cost more than an hour with a good psychiatrist. At which point we’ll all be in need of both.

I came here today because guys like my grandfather are no less important to civilized life than they were 50 years ago. Maybe they’re in short supply because we don’t acknowledge them they way we used to. We leave our check on the kitchen counter, and hope the work gets done. That needs to change.

My written testimony includes the details of several initiatives designed to close the skills gap, all of which I've had the privilege to participate in. Go Build Alabama, I Make America, and my own modest efforts through Dirty Jobs and mikeroweWORKS. I’m especially proud to announce “Discover Your Skills,” a broad-based initiative from Discovery Communications that I believe can change perceptions in a meaningful way.

I encourage you to support these efforts, because closing the skills gap doesn't just benefit future tradesmen and the companies desperate to hire them. It benefits people like me, and anyone else who shares my addiction to paved roads, reliable bridges, heating, air conditioning, and indoor plumbing.
The skills gap is a reflection of what we value. To close the gap, we need to change the way the country feels about work.”

The gap that Mr. Rowe speaks about is entirely real. There are many fields of skilled, blue-collar, manual labor where jobs go unfilled, and workers are desperately needed. But his analysis of why we have this problem is woefully simplistic and lacking. This is no simple matter of attitudes and values, but the result of a complexity of forces that have reshaped our economy and the choices of individuals within that economy.

Which means that it is an issue too complex to be dealt with in one little blog post. However, let's look at two issues briefly: 1) the physical demands of the jobs, opportunities for advancement and retirement, and 2) the issue of health care.

While it is true that most young people think only about the job they will get when they graduate, how much it pays and what its like, their parents and teachers often encourage them to think about longer term issues, such as opportunities for advancement, and how the job will fit them as they age. The skilled manual labor jobs that are going unfilled in our economy are jobs for younger people, with flexibility and strength. The majority of people are unable to continue with physically demanding jobs past their fifties.

Unlike Mr. Rowe (who puts the check on the counter and comes back to work completed), I've been present and actively observing all the plumbing, septic, electrical and construction work done to install my new double wide. What I've noticed is that all the men (no women) who have been using shovels to dig, climbing in ditches, crawling under houses, and climbing ladders have been under 45, and all the men who have been yelling instructions, checking paper work, assigning tasks, and supervising have been over 55. Now the problem is that for over 55 year old doing supervisory work, there are three to five young men carrying out the physical labor, meaning that not every young man who goes into manual labor will have an opportunity to become a supervisory worker or construction business owner. So what does that person do when they hit 50 and their knees no longer bend easily, and their back spasms every time they try to crawl under a house, or pick up a load of bricks, or climb a ladder to install wiring?

Part of the problem of getting young people to go into skilled manual labor fields of work, is the problem of what happens to them when they hit middle age and can no longer handle the physical demands of that job. W have to think seriously and realistically about how to provide work for older blue collar workers, that doesn't treat them as surplus labor to be thrown on the heap of long term unemployment and disability. As a society we are not currently doing well for your 45 to 65 year old blue collar workers. Young people know these workers as their parents and grandparents, and seeing what has happened to them is part of what deters them from going into those fields.

Related to this, of course, is the issue of retirement. A person going into manual labor, has to have a realistic expectation that they will be able to retire while they still have some strength and vitality (early to mid-60's at least) and have adequate income to live comfortably. We're not doing a good job as a society of providing young people with any kind of assurance that social security, much less private pensions will be there for them.

The second issue is health care. When I graduated from college in 1973, during a recession, I took a secretarial position paying minimum wage ($1.80 an hour). With that income I paid not for rent, food, transportation and clothing, but I was also able to afford to buy my own, individual health insurance policy from Blue Cross/Blue Shield. The skilled manual workers at the businesses where I was employed made considerably more money than I did, and could afford health care not only for themselves but for their families as well.

Although young people are more cavalier about their needs for health insurance than older people, health insurance coverage is one of the incentives that a occupational choice may offer someone. Physical labor, puts greater demands on workers, and although actual accidents are usually (but not always) covered under workman's compensation, the general wear and tear on the body's joints and systems is not.

A truly universal health care system, that seriously attacks the costs of medical care and medication, would go a long way towards allowing young people to consider a wider range of occupational choices. If health care stops being tied to jobs, than jobs can be chosen for reasons other than health care coverage.

These are only two of the dozens of complex issues that affect occupational choices of young people in this country, and must be addressed as part of a multi-faceted approach to develop the workforce we actually need to move this nation forward.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

the time for uncivilization has come


For many years I have believed that we humans, especially those in the advanced, capitalist nations like the United States, were living on the edge of something, a precipice perhaps, or a chaotic whirlpool. We have been brought to this edge by gross disregard of the human and ecological consequences of our civilization's economic, technological and political actions.

In recent months, I have come to believe that we are no long on the edge, but have already crossed over and we are already falling or swirling in uncharted, unfamiliar territory, where the old rules and principles no longer provide us with trustworthy answers (if they ever did).

I believe that a majority of Americans know this in their bones, although they cannot bring themselves to recognize it consciously. It is the source of the profound anxiety, anger, and fear of our age, that manifests itself in a vulnerability to demagoguery, obsession with self-protection ("got to that gun with me to get a cup of coffee"), and xenophobia.

I was pleased to discover yesterday, that there are also a growing number of people who are consciously aware of our crossing over, and the need to respond in transformative ways not driven by fear, but reaching out for community. One place for such people to connect is the Dark Mountain Project whose manifesto is reproduced below:
‘We must unhumanise our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.’

  1. We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our whole way of living is already passing into history. We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it.
  2. We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’.
  3. We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths.
  4. We will reassert the role of story-telling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality.
  5. Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. By careful attention, we will reengage with the non-human world.
  6. We will celebrate writing and art which is grounded in a sense of place and of time. Our literature has been dominated for too long by those who inhabit the cosmopolitan citadels.
  7. We will not lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies. Our words will be elemental. We write with dirt under our fingernails.
  8. The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us.
"Dark Mountain" photograph by sgreerpitt June 2008, is a mountain top strip mine in Letcher County Kentucky.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

bulletins from the land of dementia

In many ways my mother seems to have regressed cognitively to her youth. She has lost decades of knowledge and understanding and reverted to ways of thinking that she deliberately chose to leave behind.

Today she was speaking of neighbors down the street, of a "different religion, not like us." Forgetting that I, her daughter, am "not like" her. Yet it is my mother who made me the person I am. It was her expression of religious doubt, her questions posed in my child's ear, her failure to blind acceptance of the religion in which she was raised, that made me the seeker that converted to Judaism.

My choice caused her some mild consternation at the time, but we talked it through and she was always supportive. Each spring she would mail me a care package of kosher for passover treats and boxes of Matzoh unavailable in the wilds of eastern Kentucky.

I accepted easily that her decline in the last few years meant she would no longer be sending me care packages (indeed now I'm the one sending stuff her way). But it did not occur to me until tonight's phone call, that she neither remembers nor understands the choice I made to be a Jew, why I made it, or what it means ("you mean you don't believe in Jesus at all?" she asked in bewilderment tonight); and that for her the hurt of my desertion is totally new and a fresh source of consternation.

small and white, clean and bright

No we don't have any edelweiss, but we do have the flower to the left, which is milk vetch, I think - it took quite a while to figure it out, as the flower is listed in the blue/purple section of my wildflower guide, and it is only at the very end that it says that it comes in white as well as purple.

We also have the rue anemone (buttercup family) below, that loves the shaded forest floor.

But the plant that enchants me the most is the snow trillium. I had seen the occasional trillium in past years on walks in the deep woods. Usually one would see a small group together. But this year, for the first time, I am seeing hundreds of them in the woods along US 119 on my drive to work. So far I've been unable to spot a patch where there is a safe place to pull off and take a picture. Then yesterday returning from my weekly shopping excursion, on a narrow winding road, I saw a whole huge bank lit up
with the largest patch of snow trillium I've ever seen. Given the name of the flower, I wonder if their abundance this spring is due to our unusually snowy winter.

photos of milk vetch and rue anemone by sgreerpitt, April 23, 2011

writing life

it's been a lovely day...I've spent the whole day reading and writing in a new journal. Now I feel like writing where someone other than myself can read, but where to start? How much to say?

I like journals. Influenced by the Diary of Anne Frank, I began keeping a journal in the form of letters to an imaginary friend named Margie when I was 12 or 13 and kept writing Marie on sheets of binder paper until I was 21.


The summer I was twenty-one, and working for a wealthy family in Greenwich, Connecticut as an au pair, I bought a green, bound journal at a New York City stationer that seemed more fitting to the more "serious" thoughts I wished to inscribe. My second entry in that first bound journal was made while sitting in the garden at the Museum of Modern Art, where I marveled at Rodin's Balzac and Picasso's Goat and even more wonderful, the cut-leaf birch trees.

I filled twenty-five bound journals over the next thirty five years. Then I discovered blogging and journal got lost while I explored this new medium and delighted in having an audience for my thoughts. Recently, however, I've begun to miss the physical feel of writing, of putting ink on a clean, smooth page. The last bound journal I purchased was awkward to use, being thick, with small pages. So yesterday, I once again 7 1/2 inch wide by 10 1/4 inch high, and 3/4 inch thick bound journal, with creamy smooth pages and light gray lines. I've already filled fifteen pages with dense black script, pouring out thoughts and ideas, not quite yet ready to make it to the computer screen to be shared with others.

The photo of Picasso's Goat in the MoMA sculpture garden was taken in December 1969 (photographers name not given) and can be found on the Bearne Gallery Website.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

dogwood lace



In the last week, the dogwood has come to full bloom, scattered across the forested hillsides. About six years ago, the pine bark beetle decimated the stands of pine in Letcher County; but in the forest openings they left, the dogwood, an understory tree, has found new expression.

Driving to work this morning, it occurred to me that our Kentucky spring-time hills are like a wide-hipped, earthy "granola" woman, with a long, flowing brown and green calico dress decorated with bits of slightly tattered, antique cream lace.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

a return to the 1930's

In Paducah, Kentucky there are more homeless families than there are shelter spaces, and some of the families (as well as individuals not in families) are being referred to "Tent City," an unimproved campground area in nearby woods.

It's time to make Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath required reading again.

Monday, April 11, 2011

more fairy carpet


Finally had the time, the light, and the camera at the same time, before my lawn of violets is sacrificed to the great American suburban god 'Lawn Mower.'

Thursday, April 7, 2011

a carpet of violets

This afternoon my husband got the lawnmower out for the first time and tamed the wild jungle inside our fenced yard where the dogs play (and do their business). It looks lovely, all trimmed and neat. But I'm secretly pleased that he did not have time (or energy) to turn the mower on the front yard yet. Two thirds of our huge front yard has been taken over by the velvety purple of tiny violets and their shiny green heart-shaped leaves. It looks like a faerie carpet, ready for spritely dances by gossamer winged creatures.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

spring sprung awry


I never really appreciated spring as a season growing up in California. I did like March, when the winter rains were still with us, and the neighbor's willow tree would begin to green. But the San Francisco Bay Area didn't really have four seasons, just two - raining and dry -- a typical Mediterranean type climate. When I decided to go "back east" to college, a big part of my decision was weather; I actually wanted a real winter, with snow and cold. That real winters resulted in real springs was a bonus that had not occurred to me.

My first year of four seasons in Oberlin, Ohio was full of incredible discoveries. I'd fantasized about what it would be like to walk in falling snow; I learned what it was like to live with two feet of snow on the ground for two weeks, and that walking on icy walks was a real art form. The biggest discovery of that first year was the spring sequence of blooms and color, although I didn't realize the first year that it was an annual occurrence. The sequence that began with the brilliant yellow of daffodils and forsythia, and ended three months later with wild roses. In between came tulips, the flowering fruit trees, red bud, dogwood, irises, blackberry blossoms and heavenly scented lilacs.

Over the next forty years I found that where ever I spent spring -- Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, or Maine -- that the sequence of spring was the same, only the timing differed. In Ohio, the daffodils and forsythia appeared at the end of April just in time to liven up the last weeks of the semester, in Kentucky, daffodils and forsythia made their yellow splash during spring break in March, in Pennsylvania the yellow blossoms always appeared just after graduation in late April.

Over the past decade, climate change has shifted the start of spring, and its daffodils and forsythia earlier, by nearly two weeks, but the sequence seemed to remain largely intact. This spring, however, the sequence seems a bit out of whack. For the first time in my memory, the daffodils and forsythia came early as they have for some time, in early March, but strangely they hung on longer than usual. Suddenly the flowering fruit trees blossomed white and pink and are already fading to green leaves while the bright yellow forsythia was still in full bloom - and it is past April 1st.

The most startling discontinuity of this spring has been the redbud, which began blooming one full week ago, in March, while the forsythia and daffodils were still bright yellow, and the flowering fruit trees still clung to their pink and white blossoms. This is an entire month ahead of what was normal blooming time for redbud ten years ago.

I can remember driving to Elizabethtown, Kentucky back in 2002 on April 25th and being blown away by the hundreds of miles of light purple redbud along the roadsides. Over the past decade the time for redbud blooming has slowly crept forward. Last year the redbud was in full bloom on April 16, when I drove to Harlan for a faculty meeting. But a leap ahead another two weeks to April 1st to be in full bloom is astounding, and disturbing.

It's as if what was once nearly three months of sequential blooming has been compressed and overlapped into a few weeks of March and April; with the life span of some flowers extending much longer, while others come and go more quickly. The scientists who study climate and and seasonal changes refer to this disruption of established patterns of plant flowering as "desynchronisation" (see: Dr Malcolm Clark and Prof Roy Thompson, and suggest that it could create problems for animal species that depend upon reliable plant food sources for seasonally timed reproduction.

It's one thing to read about the science. It's another thing to have it so clearly visible in one's own front yard.

Photo of redbud from April 16, 2010 by sgreerpitt

Monday, March 28, 2011

a year of small stones - 016 Snow Blossoms

Snow Blossoms


Overnight
blackberry brambles
have bloomed
in frothy frozen white
presaging May’s
softer blooms.


sgreerpitt
Monday March 28, 2011

"small stone 016 Snow Blossoms" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

humor from the land of dementia

This is so pitiful and yet funny, I wanted to share it.

My mother is cold all the time. A condition that most elderly people experience. Some of her problem is that she is unwilling to wear sufficient clothing to protect herself from the cold and drafts while she is indoors. She complains that warmer clothing is too heavy and the weight hurts her skin. In particular she shies away from anything around her neck and lower arms, and lower legs (she wears Capri length pants year round). The other contributing factor is that she has also forgotten how to work the thermostat, but cannot admit to anyone that she no longer understands how it works.

Unwilling to face and acknowledge that her own frailties are the cause of her lack of warmth she has devised a number of conspiratorial theories to account for why she is cold now, when she does not remember being cold in the past. My brother told me that one of her frequent complaints is that the utility company (Pacific Gas and Electric) "turns down the electricity and gas" at night so that the heater doesn't work as well as it should.

In our conversation yesterday, she revealed her new explanation - that the freezer stocked full of frozen food by my brother Charlie on his recent visit, is sucking away the power from the natural gas heater making it too cold in the house. She preceded this explanation by a phrase that I have come to dread: "I woke up in the middle of the night, and got to thinking about this problem I have with being cold all the time..." Every time my mother says that she "got to thinking about" anything it's usually trouble.

This particular explanation -- of the frozen foods draining away power from the heater -- she came up with had the virtue (in her mind) of placing the blame on my brother, whom she is very angry with at the moment. It has become necessary for him to take away more and more of her financial decision making power. She can no longer figure out money at all - she cannot interpret her bank statement, can no longer correctly write a check, confuses amounts of money (mistakes $4 for $400, and $4,000 for $40,000), no longer is able to make use of debit cards and credit cards without substantial assistance. At times is willing to acknowledge it to me, but views my brothers necessary steps to safe guard her financial security as an insult to her. "I'm not so poor as he thinks" she says frequently and angrily (meaning incompetent, not poverty struck).

It's other virtue, unfortunately, was that it was something she felt she could act upon without consulting others. So early in the morning, she carefully removed every single item of frozen food from the freezer, and stacked them in the garage. Hundreds of dollars of food that my brother had purchased to keep her fed over the next month.

For some reason, my mother felt the necessity of writing down information about each package that she removed. In telling me this story, she seemed to think that she would need this information when she talked to the utility company about her energy problems. The best I could tell is that she thought that some types of frozen food sucked up more power than others (??).

Luckily for everyone, it was not long before Jennifer (her wonderful health care worker) arrived. Jennifer patiently explained that the refrigerator used electricity, while the furnace used natural gas, so that there was no connection between the two things. It was clear in our conversation, that my mother does not believe this for a minute. But she was willing to accept that no one else would believe what was obvious to her, and she agreed to put all the food back in the freezer.

Once my mother gets an explanation lodged in her brain for something that puzzles her, it does not matter how many times people tell her differently, she will never let it go. For example, more than a year later, my mother is still convinced that the reason why "there's never anything good on TV any more" is because of that "darn box" she was forced to put on the TV. The "darn box" is of course the digital converter box that allows her to continue to get over the air broadcast television on her old analog set, and has nothing at all to do with the programming decisions of the stations she receives.

first comes yellow

Spring break was wonderful -- just that short period of time away from the whirl of classroom sessions was a respite. Not that I wasn't working the whole week on grading exams, keeping up with my on-line classes, and writing a book chapter. But any change in pace is appreciated. The only truly negative side of spring break is that all the campus flowers bloomed while we were gone. At least the daffodils were still bright to welcome us back.

The thing I like most about spring has been the regular progression of color. The first thing is always the forsythia and the daffodils - brilliant yellow to ward off the doldrums of winter.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

regrets

One of my favorite bloggers, a lovely lady from England is Maggie May. Her profile begins with the sentence: "Not to be confused with the other Maggie May!"

So every time I visit Maggie's blog I am reminded of Rod Stewart's song "Maggie May," which is something of a bitter sweet reminder. While I love the song, in recent years listening to the lyrics carefully has made me uncomfortable. In particular the line "You lured me away from home/just to keep you from being alone," haunts me.

You see, I just may have been a "Maggie May" once upon a time.

My first husband was eighteen (I was 32) when we met, nineteen when we began dating, twenty when we married, twenty-one when he left me, and only twenty-two when we divorced. At the time it felt like he pursued me, like the relationship was equal and mutual. But over the years as I've heard of his struggles in life with addiction, relationships, and careers, I question my perception.

For me, the relationship, despite its brevity, was an overwhelmingly positive force in my life. Even the pain of loss and divorce was a gift that helped me become a better, more insightful, balanced and emotionally richer person.

I hate to think that my gains were another person's losses; so everytime I hear "Maggie May" I wonder. Was that me?

Monday, February 28, 2011

letting go

Yesterday, on one of my breaks from the computer screen and the research/writing project that is absorbing much of my time, I went over to the old house to sort through file drawers.

We have three metal file cabinets, all of which are so badly rusted from decades of cats peeing on them, that we do not want to move them into the new house. We are replacing them with sturdy modular plastic files. But first I have to go through everything and make the appropriate disposition into "keep," "throw away," and "burn/shred" (for old financial documents, an option that was unnecessary before the age of identity theft).

Some of the decisions are easy. Financial records older than seven years get put in the "burn/shred" pile, those more recent get kept. Warranties and instructions for appliances and gadgets we no longer possess go into "throw away," those that are still relevant go in the "keep" pile.

Other decisions are agonizing. What should I do with the many drawers full of research articles, government documents, interviews, newspaper clippings, and other materials that are the raw data for the dissertation that was the primary focus of my life from 1980 to 1984? Or the later research I did on the National Environmental Policy Act in 1990-1992?

I kept everything, because I always assumed that someday I'd come back to that research, up-date it, extend it, publish it. But it's been twenty years since I've done work in the field of state theory. For twenty years, that field has passed me by. For twenty years, I've hauled all this pile of paper around with me, from one house to another.

The time to throw it away has finally come. If the day comes that I have more time for writing, I would rather spend my time writing fiction, essays and poetry, not trying to rebuild an academic writing career.

So yesterday, drawers of paper went into the big dumpster outside. Given that there was six inches of water standing in the bottom of the dumpster, and heavy rains this morning, that decision to trash all that material is now irrevocable.

An even harder decision centered around letters. I have drawers of folders, each labeled with a friends name, holding letters and cards going back forty-five years. Should I keep them? Throw them out?

There is, of course, the pull of sentiment. Every correspondent was at one time or still is, a loved one, friend, relative, lover. Moreover, as a person who has depending upon saved correspondence for sociological and historical research, I am sensitive to the possibility that some future historian might be looking for descriptive data about everyday life; descriptions at which some of my correspondents over the years have excelled, with humor and insight. On the other hand, I've seen the burden that a life of collecting stuff imposes on children, family and relatives when a person dies.

How to balance those two concerns and the tug of sentiment? Finally I compromised, going through each file, keeping only lengthy descriptive letters and photos, and throwing out all the years of accumulated brief notes, birthday and Christmas cards. Into the dumpster those bags of paper went as well. Also now irrevocable.

Life moves on. Some things have to be let go.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

the report of the "death of marriage" was an exaggeration

November 18, 2010 the Pew Research Center released a research study conducted in conjunction with TIME, that was provocatively, if inaccurately, titled "Decline of Marriage." The research was a survey of Americans' attitudes about marriage and family.

The headline finding of this survey was that 39 percent of respondents to the study agree that "marriage is obsolete." This is an increase from 1978 when only 28 percent thought marriage was obsolete.

The problem is, this is the perception of people, not reality. Moreover, it is the perception of people only 5 percent of whom can accurately describe societies divorce trends for the past twenty years. In other words 95 percent of the respondents to this survey did NOT know that divorce has been declining for the past 30 years.

Turns out that's not the only fact about marriage and the family the respondents got wrong. On seven key questions of fact about marriage and family trends, less than half of the respondents knew what the actual marriage and family trends are.

No wonder their perceptions of marriage and the family are so screwed - they lack the facts.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

pivotal people

I love Facebook. I know that not everyone does, but I do. I love that I have been able to build new ties and bonds with people I've met strictly through the Internet (initially by blogging). I also love that I have a richer connection with the people that I work with and the students that I teach, learning more about their families, their interests, their hopes and fears. But I especially love that I am able to reconnect with people from my past, all the way back to grade school.

Today, I received a friend request from a former student, from my years in Johnstown, Pennsylvania - my first full-time teaching position. We had not lost all touch, corresponding at irregularly for the past 24 years. But now I will finally get to see photos of her husband, her children, her cats, and share more frequently everyday thoughts. Eve mentioned telling her son - now almost college age himself - about me as a pivotal person at a pivotal time in her life. People often speak of teachers and advisers as pivotal, or influential. But as I think about Eve, I realized that she was a pivotal influence in my life at a pivotal time for me.

I was trying to figure out what kind of professor I was, what kind of teacher, what kind of advisor. Eve let me into her life in a way that influenced my ideas about myself as a person and as a professor. She made me feel like I was doing something valuable, because she let me know that I was helping her in her life and career path.

Eve is not the only student to have touched me and influenced me, but there has always been something special about her. Maybe it's because we shared a love of cats (she used to come to my house to visit with my Maine Coon cat Melvin), or because of how courageously she dealt with the internship from hell, or just because she's a wonderful, smart, caring, fun person. I'm so glad that Facebook is allowing us to reconnect on a more regular basis.

Monday, February 14, 2011

humble housewares

My aunt Mary Katherine Greer was 90 on July 4, 1994. Shortly after her birthday, she moved from the small apartment she'd had for nearly a decade to an assisted living facility to be with her younger sister Edith who was recently widowed.

I was recently engaged to my (now) husband John, and Aunt Mary decided to bequeath to me a number of things from her apartment. One was an extraordinary oak library table that John has used as his desk every day for nearly 17 years. She also gave us this huge (and I mean HUGE) box full of all the partially used boxes of aluminum foil, plastic wrap and wax paper she had accumulated. We actually did not have to buy any of those items for four years after we were married.

The final gift, however, was something that I've never actually used: a twenty piece set of stemware (ten large, ten small glasses), with matching serving dishes. At the time, John and I had our belongings crammed into a small two bedroom townhouse. When we moved to Kentucky, we moved into a much larger house, but it was a house with a tiny kitchen and with hardly any cupboards. There was only enough space to put the bare minimum of dishes and glassware for everyday use. No extras, no flourishes.

The stemware my Aunt Mary gave me was, as she explained, not expensive at all. Not crystal. Not hand cut. Just attractive, nicer than the every day tumblers for which we barely had room.

Our new house is smaller than our old house. BUT it has a much bigger kitchen. That was our one non-negotiable criteria in buying a new double-wide. The kitchen had to be huge, plenty of room for two adults to work at one time, for cats and a dog to wander through, and with lots of cupboards so that all the dishes, glasses, serving bowls, pots and pans would have a place so that we could use and enjoy them.

So today I finally, after almost 17 years, unpacked my Aunt Mary's stemware.

Valentine memories

In 1955, my family moved into the home where my mother still lives. It was at that time a working class, blue collar neighborhood almost entirely composed of young families with small children (the products of the Baby Boom). My mother would have been the only college educated woman in the neighborhood, a former school teacher. Unlike the other mothers who wanted their children out of the house so that they could clean and watch soaps, my mother encouraged the neighborhood children to gather at our (never very clean) house.

She taught all the children of the neighborhood games to play (Red Rover, Simon Says, Red light/Green light, Poor Pussy, Duck-Duck-Goose) and supervised the play; she encouraged arts and crafts and allowed children to run in and out of the house at will. At the time, I thought these were games she'd played growing up. It wasn't until decades later that I realized these were things she'd learned in her teaching courses in college or read about in novels, and that her own childhood had very few games (or other children) in it.

Our first year in the neighborhood, my mother started a Valentine's day tradition of exchanging Valentine's within the neighborhood, with children scurrying about before light, hiding from each other, to drop cards at each others front doors.

She did this by inviting the other children into our home for valentine-making craft activities, providing cut paper doilies, and red construction paper. While we cut and pasted she told about Valentine's traditions, which now I realize she had never practiced, only read about.

From 1956 to 1963 all the children in the neighborhood, exchanged Valentine's in this way. By 1964 the older girls in the neighborhood had reached high school, and were too "grown up" for the practice so it died out.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

a year of small stones - 015

orchestrated dance
of mechanical bucket,
scurrying workers
in fluorescent yellow,
and falling tree limbs,
artfully avoiding
passing vehicles
and electric lines.

sgreerpitt
Thursday February 3, 2011

"small stone 015" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.
Part of the "river of stones" project

getting older

I am ridiculously pleased with myself about turning sixty this weekend, which is really absurd.

It's not as if the sheer fact of surviving 60 years is any kind of accomplishment in America today. Millions of us 1951 Baby Boomers are marking the big six-oh milestone. Literally hundreds of my personal acquaintances and friends from high school, college and graduate school are marking the same birthday this year. I have one friend here in Whitesburg, our former campus director Eugene, who had his sixtieth birthday last week.

So I can't quite figure out why I feel so smug and accomplished about this particular birthday.

Course, it was nice this morning, when I mentioned that I was turning 60 this weekend -- one of my traditional age students said "no way, I pegged your for not a day over 40." Now that's an ego boost to an old broad like me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

pausing for a moment

Taking time to notice the small moments of beauty, wonder, intrigue, and humor in the world around me has become second nature, a habit I developed over the past 50 plus years. Not that I always remember every moment of every day to pause and notice, but I try.

The much harder thing is to find the time to record and communicate those observations. Decades ago, I realized that everything in life seemed more real if it was written down, and especially if it was communicated. Both seeing and telling were required.

That is what the January "river of stones" (aros) project challenged, to not only see, but also tell and share. I did not keep up with that challenge, observing much but writing little, and nothing since January 19. But I resolve to begin again, to continue my own year of "small stones."

foreshadows of spring

A tiny glimpse into the future -- potted irises I gave John for his birthday 10 days ago.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

a year of small stones - 014

pale, dry, ghost leaves
illuminate
winter forest understory.

sgreerpitt
Wednesday January 19, 2011

"small stone 014" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.
Part of the "river of stones" project

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

a year of small stones - 013

approach-avoidance:
feral cats,
only three left now,
gather at the appointed time
only to scatter
at the opening door.

sgreerpitt
Tuesday January 18, 2011


"small stone 013" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.

Part of the "river of stones" project

Monday, January 17, 2011

brief praise of television

We disconnected our television to move it to the new house on New Years Eve. In the intervening days we have watched three movies on DVD, rewatched the final season of LOST, and I've watched the first and the last seasons of Dawson's Creek (boycotted by my sensible husband). So it's not been as if we were totally without televised entertainment.

But we have severely missed the ability to just flip a switch and see news(or at least what passes as news on 24 hour cable channels), to get our evening Jeopardy! fix, to see the latest installments of favorite sitcoms like "How I met your mother" and "Big Bang Theory."

We found that we really, really missed television. And while we recognize that there is such a thing as too much. We are glad that we once again -- thanks to the cable guy arriving to hook us back up today -- have the option to connect back into the world of television.

a year of small stones - 012


the slow, sullen drip
of a recalcitrant
January thaw.

sgreerpitt
Monday January 17, 2011


"small stone 012" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.

Part of the "river of stones" project

Saturday, January 15, 2011

small regrets

I am delighted with my new house, and getting hooked up to the electrical grid was a necessary step in the process. But I have some regret for the sacrifices of trees made for that to happen.

All the trees in the foreground of this picture -- from the multi-trunked sycamore on the left to the brilliant hued dogwood in the center, to the diagonally growing trees -- were cut down in order to create a new right of way for electric lines and a new pole (right about where the dogwood stood).

Their loss is not so noticeable in the stark black and white world of snowy January, but I know that I will miss these familiar friends come October.

a year of small stones - 011


more intricate than finest
Belgian laces
winter forest filigree
frames evening sky.

sgreerpitt
Saturday January 15, 2011


"small stone 011" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.

Part of the "river of stones" project

a year of small stones - 010

high altitude
aeronautic crossstitch
embroiders sunset.

sgreerpitt
Saturday January 15, 2011


"small stone 0010" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.

Part of the "river of stones" project

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

new year reflections

Not going to "resolve" anything this year, but rather reflect and respond.

I'm so pleased that Fiona Robyn created the "river of stones" challenge for January. It is just exactly the creative shove that I needed. 2009 was a very creative year of poetry and painting. Last year just seemed like a year that I was always scrambling just to get by. The last three months were simply devoured by the process of purchasing and moving into a new house.

With the new year, we feel "moved in," and a bit less stressed. Not that the moving process is fully completed -- lots of odds and ends still in the old house that need eventually to be sorted through, thrown away, sold, given away or stored. But life is slowly getting back to normal, and an important part of that normal is writing.

I've let my blog languish. Been a poor blog friend - failing to visit any of my friends blogs for months.

This year more time will be allocated to reflection, reading, writing, and responding.

a year of small stones - 009


switching tails,
rasping cries,
heads move in unison;
Mrs. Cardinal
flies.

sgreerpitt
Monday January 10, 2011


"small stone 009" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.

Part of the "river of stones" project

Photo of Tippecanoe, Tyler Two, Samatha and Eli.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

a year of small stones - 08

sunlight decorates,
a fleeting joy.

sgreerpitt
Sunday January 9, 2011


"small stone 008" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.

Part of the "river of stones" project

Saturday, January 8, 2011

a year of small stones - 07

nested dog
snug comfort

sgreerpitt
Saturday January 8, 2011


"small stone 007" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.

Part of the "river of stones" project

a year of small stones -- 06

snowbound
solitude

sgreerpitt
Saturday January 8, 2011


"small stone 006" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.

Part of the "river of stones" project

Friday, January 7, 2011

a year of small stones - 05

watching the road,
waiting,
but they do not come;
all I see is the snow
falling, silent,
cutting off the world.

sgreerpitt
Friday January 7, 2011

"small stone 005" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.



Part of the "river of stones" project.

a year of small stones - 004

unexpected goats
colored like the dried leaves
on their perch
above the road.

sgreerpitt
Thursday January 6, 2011

"small stone 004" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.



Part of the "river of stones" project.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

a year of small stones - 003

the frost floats like a gray veil
on forest and lawns.

sgreerpitt
Wednesday January 5, 2011

"small stone 003" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.



Part of the "river of stones" project.

Monday, January 3, 2011

a year of small stones - 002

gnarled white fingers
two sycamores reach for
each other.

sgreerpitt
Monday January 3, 2011


"small stone 002" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.
Part of the "river of stones" project

Sunday, January 2, 2011

a year of small stones - 001



branches sharp like knives
in the brilliant air.

sgreerpitt
Sunday January 2, 2011

"small stone 001" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sunflowerroots.blogspot.com.
Part of the "river of stones" project