Seven Meditations

If you follow my art blog, jillybeanswiggins, you may have already seen the seven meditation poems and artwork. The painting begun before the holidays is finally finished, and I decided to link the two blogs together by posting on this site.

The painting is an impressionistic rendering of the meditation/inspiration in our back yard; it’s a bit of a game to find the seven items in the poems:

Seven Meditations, 18×24, acrylic

Here is the text of all the poems:

Meditation 1
Be a hummingbird
zipping about
sipping sweetness

Meditation 2
Be a cloud
floating free
enjoying the view

Meditation 3
Be dog
grass-rolling
scratching all the itches

Meditation 4
Be the breeze
singing wind chimes
dancing prayer flags

Meditation 5
Be a tree
deep-rooted
arms spread, another world
of life above

Meditation 6
Be a star
steadfast, silent light
from afar

Meditation 7
Be the Buddha,
still, jolly
holding everything in his lap
for just this moment.

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

I love January. After the clutter and hubbub of the holidays, it feels clean-swept, a fresh start. I bought some yellow flowers for the kitchen windowsill because I was tired of red.

A little sunshine to brighten a dreary view.

 

Last year was full of challenges and trials, although we have come through it pretty well. After the Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2018, my husband had a period of orthostatic hypotension, with low blood pressure causing a series of falls during the summer, and at least one trip to the ER. (We have made so many trips to the ER in the past year I’ve lost count. More than in the whole rest of my life combined.) He changed neurologists, and we love the new doctor. She prescribed a medication that stabilized his BP and he has been fall-free for quite a while. In fact, the Parkinson’s symptoms are well-managed all around. Our October trip to New York for his nephew’s wedding was successful and he was so happy to spend that time with his family.

On the grandchild front, after the unsuccessful home-schooling experiment the previous fall, we had the incredible challenge of getting her back into public school, which, in our little town, meant an all sixth-grade school. She went back in January and finally got into a groove of regular attendance and full cooperation around Spring break, in March.

Despite the difficulties of the summer Oregon trip, she was thrilled to meet her online friend, and they are making plans to try to get together again next summer. She started seventh grade in the local middle school and is doing well. She likes her teachers and has made friends. Except for math–and we have a tutor–she’s making decent grades. At this moment her hair is half pink and half lime-green, but she’ll dye it back to a color found in nature before school starts again next week.

And how am I? The year was a struggle, but I’m in pretty good health in my 75th year. I take care of the family, including the dog, do a little volunteer work in the church and arts community. I enjoy my art projects and knit whenever my hands are free.

Recent hats for charity plus current WIPs (works in progress). Can you guess my color preferences?

Sure, there are things I wish were better–no Parkinson’s, for starters–but mostly life is pretty good. We have a nice home, good friends, and enough, while there are many people for whom that’s not the case.

This morning, while walking the dog, I realized that lately, when I get up and walk him, nothing hurts. No sinus headaches (which used to plague me), no joint or muscle pain. I just feel good! This is remarkable for a woman nearly 75 with an arthritic hip. I started taking CBD oil a year or so ago, and I credit that with this wonderful state of being. During the holidays, when my anxiety cranked up, I increased the CBD dose a little, and since then I’m pain-free for the first time I can remember.

I’ve made only two New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Continue to take good care of myself: a healthful diet; enough sleep; exercise; good medical care; daily meditation.
  2. Be kind to everyone, especially my loved ones, and especially more patient with my husband.

I leave you with a series of poems I wrote last year. You can see them with artwork on my other blog, jillybeanswiggins.wordpress.com.

Meditation 1
Be a hummingbird
zipping about
sipping sweetness

Meditation 2
Be a cloud
floating free
enjoying the view

Meditation 3
Be a dog
grass-rolling
scratching all the itches

Meditation 4
Be the breeze
singing wind chimes
dancing prayer flags

Meditation 5
Be a tree
deep-rooted
arms spread, another world
of life above

Meditation 6
Be a star
steadfast, silent light
from afar

Meditation 7
Be the Buddha
still, jolly
holding everything in his lap
for just this moment.

I wish  you all a wonderful 2020. I’m sorry my postings have been skimpy in the last year. There have been some very tough days!

 

Depends on Whom You Ask

Our New York trip:

There were no actual catastrophes. We made each engagement; no one got lost; nobody tripped getting onto or off a Metro escalator; we didn’t get terribly soaked on the one rainy day; my granddaughter was a great help in navigating in Brooklyn and Manhattan, especially when my ability to use google maps utterly failed me.

If you ask my husband, he will say it was wonderful:  Seeing his family, his brother, sister-in-law, various other relatives, and, of course, the bride and groom (his nephew). The wedding was quirky and gloriously happy for the couple, despite the constant rain and the partially outside wedding venue.

Aren’t they just too adorable?

The shows were great: Derren Brown’s “Secret” at the Cort theater was utterly amazing. He asked that people not share any of the “secrets” and I will honor that, so if you ever get an opportunity to see him live, I urge you to do so. (You can also find him on YouTube.)

“The Book of Mormon” was, well it’s hard to find words for it. One of the funniest and most irreverent shows I’ve ever seen–incredibly well-performed, cringe-worthy crude and vulgar (with a not-quite 13-year-old beside me, trying to explain female circumcision to her during intermission), but utterly hilarious and ultimately good-hearted with a great message. Worth the small fortune we paid for the tickets. (As was the Brown show–take out a second mortgage if you plan to see Broadway shows, or go to New York in general. Even a Metro ride is $2.75 per single ride. We bought multiple ride tickets and had some left over, so we left them at the AirBnB in hopes someone else will use the remaining rides. We had a wonderful brunch with friends we knew in Austin and loved catching up with them, but $134 for brunch for five people?

The purpose of the trip was, of course, the wedding of Raef Payne and Nicole Ofeno, two of our favorite people in the world. They are both incredibly creative, beautiful, loving people. They made the New York Times! The wedding was in a Brooklyn bar, the Union Pool. It was a crazy zoo, with Raef and Cole’s friends from all over New York and the U.S. and family members mostly from Texas.

Raef and Cole (photo by Reagan White)

The ceremony was dignified and Cole wore a beautiful fitted white lace gown.

One of my favorite touches was the Ring Bear.

The Ring Bear

There were wedding events all weekend: on Friday evening in Manhattan (which we were unable to attend); Saturday at a good Italian restaurant in Brooklyn; the wedding Sunday; and another family dinner Monday at a Chinese restaurant in Brooklyn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In between times we saw the Brown show and The Book of Mormon; we went to the re-opening of MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art); granddaughter and I saw the T-Rex exhibit at the Museum of Natural History (while husband enjoyed a gorgeous fall afternoon in Central Park). Finally, on our last morning, we took the Statute of Liberty boat ride and visited the 911 Memorial, which always brings me to tears, especially telling granddaughter about it, and husband finding the panel for his friend who died at the Pentagon.

Foggy day in New York harbor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, but the challenges! I took very few photos because I needed my phone to navigate virtually every step of the way. I was constantly thinking, “OK, where do we have to be next and how do we get there?” It was a fairly short walk from the apartment to the Metro station, but granddaughter was always 15 feet ahead and husband was always 15 feet behind, and I felt like the sole chaperone on a middle-school field trip, constantly worried about losing someone. Whenever we safely reached a destination, I would think “We’re safe and we’re where we are supposed to be,” and take a few deep breaths.

We were blessed that all our flights were smooth and on time and our taxi and Uber rides got us where we needed to go–although the Uber driver to JFK thought we were going someplace other than JFK and that took a bit of sorting out. I’m still not sure if the credit card bill is totally correct on that one. Did I mention how expensive everything was? Our 12-mile trip (40+ minutes to go 12 miles!) to JFK was about $70. There is a train, but it takes longer, we’d have to change trains, and with luggage that’s just not practical.

We got back to San Antonio about 10 p.m., and by the time the hotel shuttle arrived (we parked at the hotel where we stayed the night before we left to make an early flight), and got the car and drove home it was midnight.

I have never before been actually ill from exhaustion, but I was the past two days. Really sick. No appetite, feverish, terrible digestive upsets. I took two long naps yesterday.

I’ve concluded I’m officially old. I just can’t travel that way any more. Next trip will be a cruise, as close to a turn-key operation as possible.

Granddaughter missed almost a week of school, and one of her teachers told her it was fine because she would learn so much in New York. When I asked her what she had learned, she said it was how much she appreciates her home and our small town, that New York is too crowded, busy, too much hustle and noise. One thing she did enjoy was when we were passing Trump Tower a guy selling buttons held up a sign that said “S***hole.” She was wearing a “Ghostbusters” t-shirt and the guy gave her a Trumpbuster button.

 

 

My Big Fat (and happy) Kerrville Weekend

Thank goodness today is a holiday, because after the past weekend I need a day off!

It began with a reception Friday evening for the atelier artists at the Hill Country Arts Foundation. I went with my friend Elaine, and ran into several people I knew. I also reconnected with someone I met at another HCAF event a few weeks ago who is also interested in collage art. This time we got contact information and have already connected via email. I will include her in my arty ladies group (formerly known as CAW, Creative Amazing Woman, but we need a new name).

Next, on Saturday morning, also at HCAF at the Point (in Ingram, Texas), was the Celtic Festival. It was a cool, damp morning (perfect Scottish weather!) and I got my fix of bagpipes and men in kilts, as well as treating myself to a silver ring with a lapis stone.

This will go with the blue dress I’m wearing to a wedding next week.

The woman on the far left is legally blind. She also crochets. Remarkable woman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From bagpipes to chamber music: the fabulous Camerata San Antonio string trio played a concert at Schreiner University on Saturday afternoon, and husband and I enjoyed the whole program, especially the Mozart Divertimento.

The first piece was pretty discordant but quite interesting. The second was sweet, and the Mozart was, of course, sublime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday morning our church held an animal blessing service in honor of St. Francis of Assisi’s birthday. It was outdoors, with lots of dogs exchanging messages with raised legs and sniffed butts. It was especially appropriate for us because Friday was our “adoptiversary,” four years since Junior joined our family.

Junior, by CSW, acrylic

While we were out, granddaughter painted a portrait of Junior. She acknowledges that the proportions are off (which is why I’ve cropped it down) but the likeness and life-like quality blew me away.

Junior himself

 

 

 

 

 

After we took Junior home, we went to the Kerrville Chalk Festival, one of my favorite local events (which we missed last year because we were on our way to Paris). And there was a jazz trio in the music tent!

 

 

Finally, a poetry reading at the Butt-Holdsworth public library (don’t you love that name?), by San Antonio’s poet laureate, Octavio Quintanilla. I have been out of touch with the local poetry community, so it was nice to reconnect, and I enjoyed Octavio’s poetry enough to buy one of his chapbooks. I also read a poem of my own, “Meditations,” which will eventually be put together with images for my other blog.

Whew! Junior let me sleep later than our school-day 5:30, so I don’t even need a nap today.

Chapbook by Octavio Quintanilla, “Before I was Exile,” in English and Spanish.

 

Ground Wasps, Clotheslines and RIP Melvin

A previous owner of our house got creative with a tree stump. After we moved here in 2017 I turned it into the anchor for a clothesline. It was so distinctive I could see it from the next street if I knew where to look between houses.

The old clothesline anchored by Melvin

Time and a lot of spring rain took its toll, and I could see that it was quite rotted. Last week I hung a sopping wet rug on the line and that took Melvin down. (Funny, I named him only after his demise.) The yard crew took him away a few days later.

Melvin’s former home, with Junior (just because) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have several colonies of ground wasps in the back yard, and the new clothesline site is one of them.

Anchored with fence post and a huge pecan tree, this should last a while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have become fascinated with these creatures. Our pool guy told me what they were. They were clearly not aggressive, so I left them alone and did some research. Strangely, I found the Orkin site to be very informative.

The colonies last only a year, and they can be beneficial in that they kill other insects. These are so-called “cicada killers,” which explains piled-up cicada bodies around the pool. One colony is under the pool deck, and I love watching them. It’s like a Star Wars movie–the small craft hovers beside the mother ship and slots right in, sometimes carrying a cicada body.

If we ever pull up the pool deck, I hate to think what’s under there! (No photos of the wasps–they’re too fast!)

The third colony is in the meditation garden. They do get agitated with a lot of human activity, and it’s ironic they have chosen three busy locations. I may have to rethink this if anyone gets stung, but so far we live and let live.

Choosing the Happy Parts

When I was telling a friend about the difficulties of our recent trip to Oregon–the trials of travel are getting to be terribly challenging with age and health problems–she said, “You’ll remember the good parts long after you’ve forgotten the problems.”

So here are highlights of our week. The granddaughter does not like me to share her photo, so any of her are either from behind or from a distance.

The Portland Rose Garden in the rain, which seemed appropriate for our first day in Oregon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Falls State Park, with the granddaughter and her friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The spectacular Pacific coast–we had a beautiful seafood lunch in the cute little town of Newport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mount Hood in the distance (we drove much closer but I was driving and couldn’t take pictures)

 

A more spectacular view of Mount Hood, taken from the plane after leaving Portland (photo by Chloe S. W.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waterfalls on the Columbia River Gorge

 

 

 

 

Soul Feeding

My new therapist asked me, after we had covered the preliminaries: “What feeds your soul?”

After a moment’s thought, I came up with a few things. Since then, I realized I have a lot longer list than what I thought of on the spot with the therapist:

  • Walking the dog. When we put the leash on and step out the door, he sneezes and I feel my breathing slow and my tight muscles loosen. Junior is truly my therapy dog.

Junior eager to walk on the river trail.

Guadalupe River trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildflowers on our river walk.

  • Being in water. In cold weather, I do water aerobics with the “old” ladies at the gym. As soon as our pool got over 70°F I braced myself and now plunge in almost every day. The hot tub helps afterwards.

I’m not scowling, I’m squinting!

  • Meditation, the yard, listening to the birds.

Meditation garden views

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My meditation tree, a pecan tree that’s beautiful all year round.

Some of the meditation garden baubles.

 

 

  • Making art. See my art blog for the recent international postcard swap, which occupied most of my spare moments in May.

 

  • Knitting and other handwork (embroidery and other forms of stitching). Something else that slows my breathing and relieves stress.

Current WIPs (works in progress), a shawl for me and a baby blanket for charity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Music, especially singing. I sang this past season with the Hill Country Chorale. After the season was over I joined other singers for the Memorial Day service at an Episcopal church, singing the Fauré Requiem. Now that’s over, I sing to myself when I walk the dog, often just making up random nonsense songs or sung prayers.

 

  • Friends: church, art, music, politics, knitting, neighbors, old friends from past lives. I joke that I have a three-person minimum at the grocery store–I rarely go without running into someone I know from various aspects of my life. One day running errands I encountered five people I knew! The knitting group provides conversation with busy hands two hours a week, plus monthly lunch.

 

  • Our home. I love our house, yard, neighborhood, our community. I am so glad we moved here two years ago.

    Patio and hot tub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wish I could say that taking care of my family feeds my soul. But with a husband with Parkinson’s, the days, hours and moments can be draining. The 12-year-old granddaughter is maturing and doing much better, to the point that we laugh together more than we argue. That is soul-feeding, especially after the transition from home-schooling into public school. She’s ready for seventh grade and middle school!

Thai lunch on the river for our 23rd anniversary, May 31.

And someday I’ll look back at this time and realize that I have been doing deep soul work all along.

Another river view

What I see out the kitchen window. After two years of looking at that bare fence I finally brightened it up!

The best soul work is gratitude. I try to be grateful every day.

 

 

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