death, dreams, health, love, myth, nature, psychology, weather

The Egg Moon & The Deer-Woman

The Firebird Does Not Learn

She is an egg and every shadowed glance,
every silent forest destroys her.
She is newborn and the shark-tooth grit
of the earth clings to her wet eyes.
She is in flames, the jeweled fire
that everyone remembers,
and then, what she had not foreseen,
She is burned and not consumed.
Burned. She feels her feathers
knit together. Burned. It hurts her
to heal. She is still.
She dreams of the next dawn,
a darkness, a nest of ash.

— Kate Horowitz

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Tonight was the full moon. The 9th of April. The Pink Moon. The Egg Moon. Even the word April sounds like rain; it spittles from the mouth with the open promise, the gathering of air for the “A” and the plosive “pr” ending with the tongue lap of “l” at the back of the teeth. Water held back, pressed behind the dam. But that rain, as the rhyme goes, the April showers hold the promise of May flowers. Considering the wild rains Portland tends to get on the regular, I would wager that despite a couple of stellar 70 degree days that visited us early in the week, there is still a good bit of watery April left and that will require some patience. Next full moon—The Milk Moon. The Flower Moon.

Luckily, the flowers are already showing their pretty faces in the garden; purple and pink hyacinth carries on the air like a honeysuckle perfume, the camellia trees in my yard bloom bright red, some mottled with white stripes, the yellow, white and violet crocus and buttery daffodils are plenty, and the tulips have unfurled their emerald green bunny ears, though the buds are still closed tight as peapods, so many meditative eyelids, dreaming something deep and colorful. A flurry of cherry tree blossoms drift into the yard; heavy Spring wind casting a false snow, a white mimicry of Winter’s last stand.

While wandering the perimeter of the house, I found a lonely patch of trillium, a tri-fold of green heart leaves lifting up triangular white flowers, a basket of stars, everywhere in 3s.

But that’s the best part of Spring—everything coming back from Winter’s sleep, seemingly, from the dead: the flowers, the trees, the animals, the goddess Eostre, Jesus. Me.

I’ve been feeling better, I’m cooking more and enjoying all the smell and tastes and textures of food. Something happened last full moon, some strong anxietal force moved through me. Some part of me died a little, something, someone else resurrected. It was what i asked for, and lately, as I am sleeping more soundly, it is a common and powerful theme when i dream. Death, rebirth, fire, water, flying, wings, feathers, hands in the earth, digging and digging, biting and scratching my way through.

Gerda and the Reindeer | Edmund Dulac

Two nights ago I dreamed I stood in a huge backyard, a large farmhouse behind me. It wasn’t quite an open field as it was fenced off. The grasses were tall in places and something straw-colored was moving through the area towards me. But all I could see were its dark eyes and furry antlers. It seemed to be part moose or reindeer and masculine—it was so large, but as it drew closer, it became softer, graceful, almost feminine despite the large antlers on its head to indicate male. It was more a Mule deer, a buck.

We both approached each other cautiously and as the deer stood still before me, it morphed into a woman. It occurred to me that i should invite her for dinner; a big party was being thrown by extended family, though it was no family I knew of and no occasion i could name. When I introduced my new friend to the men in the family, they leered a bit, patted at her long legs and lap asking why she was so quiet. I explained that she was foreign and didn’t speak the language, so the deer-woman just smiled softly at them and looked strangely at me. I grew anxious as we visited because I felt that at any moment, her glamour would break and she would morph back into the powerful, antlered creature that would bound through the room, kick over furniture and dishes and smash through the back door to escape. The thought plagued me so heavily, I pleaded with my eyes to the deer-woman, and indicated with my head that we should go back outside. She nodded and followed me.

Once we were outside, she became the buck again and wandered out into the forest where I followed her/him. A bright shock of sunlight stunned the deer and it turned on me, knocked me over, bleating, snorting and biting at my neck. It was part murder, part mating. The world went dark in a swirl of tree canopy, pearl grey sky and clouds of shattered eggshell.

When I woke, it was the woman again beside me, waiting for me to rise. My sense was that I was dead, but undead. Not quite vampire, but stony, pale and cold. I was able to move fast, to levitate, to fly and could bring someone with me, transferring the powerful ability to them, with them, so long as they linked hands or an arm with me.

The deer-woman had someone with her now, and I had a faceless someone with me. The four of us flew around until we came upon a memorial site. A grave with no body. A decorative brass commemorative plaque. With my name on it. But it was not my current married name. It was my maiden name: Andrea Jackman. I wiped dirt away from the plaque, collected cigarette butts and trash thoughtlessly discarded in the grass surrounding it and threw these things away. I felt sadness, but also, realized, it was not truly myself that was lost or dead, but a previous incarnation of self.

This lead me to seek out the mythology of the deer, the stag, ways to interpret the dream. Some of it I knew, but some of what I found amazed me in my own psyche’s ability to deliver the message.

It begins even in Neolithic Cave art where the depiction of people for hunting or shamanistic practice, dress in deer hide and wear antlers. In Classical times, the ‘Stag God’ was paramount to the Scythians and other peoples across the Eurasian steppes. To the Hungarians (my ethnic background) there is a great horned doe, which shone in multicolour lights and its antlers glittered from light.

There is the Spring renewal, the chase after the stag is a hunt for the return of the sun, searching for its light and heat which during Winter is taken away by the stag. The girls of the legend are the does, the daughters of light (Leukepius in Greek), who return the light and fertility of the sun. For that reason they have names which indicate “light, white, burning” Dula=Gyula,Gyul…, Sar=gold, light, stag. Bular or Bugur=stag in Turkic.

Ancient Norse mythology tells how 4 stags run in the branches of the ash and browse the foliage of the world-tree Yggdrasil, eating away the buds (hours), blossoms (days) and branches (seasons). Their names are: Dain, Dvalin, Duneyr, Durathor and are thought to represent the four winds.

In Greek mythology, it is the Keryneian stag, a fantastic beast with golden horns and brass hooves sacred to the huntress-goddess Artemis who turned herself into a white hind (female deer) to avoid being violated by two giants.

The deer is also a central religious image for Buddhism. Buddha is often pictured with a deer, and legend tells how he first preached in a deer park. The deer image itself representing innocence and a return to the wilderness.

In Celtic mythology, the deer is a magical creature, able to move between the worlds and many tales have humans transformed into deer. For example, St. Patrick was said to have transformed himself and his companions into deer in order to escape a trap laid by a pagan king. Cernunnos, the Celtic Horned God, was depicted with the antlers of a stag; he is said to be a god of fertility and plenty, and to be the Lord of the Beasts. According to some, his antlers symbolize a radiation of heavenly light. Images of stags were supposedly used to symbolize Cernunnos in non-human form. In the Welsh tale of Culhwch and Olwen, the stag is one of the oldest animals in the world, along with the blackbird, the owl, the eagle and the salmon.

In some parts of Asia, deer are considered to be conductors of soul and thus the robes of shamans are usually made out of deerskin. Likewise, many Native Americans believed deer and other animals with forked horns and antlers represented forked or double nature. When the Cherokee traveled during harsh winter weather, they rubbed their feet in warm ashes and sang a song to acquire powers for the four animals whose feet never were frost bitten—opossum, wolf, fox and deer. To the Pawnee, the deer is a guide to the light of the Sun. The Panche Indians of Colombia believe that human souls pass into the bodies of deer after death and therefore eating the flesh of deer is forbidden to them. In ancient Mexico, deer were sometimes depicted carrying the Sun (similar to the ancient Steppe myth and the Scythians).

The antlers of the stag are compared to tree-branches (the world-tree Yggdrasil) and since they are shed and re-grown every year represent fertility, rejuvenation and rebirth. Carl Jung noted that “the stag is an allegory of Christ because legend attributes to it the capacity for self-renewal … In alchemy, Mercurius is allegorized as the stag because the stag can renew itself.”

This close to Easter, my mind is swirling with birth, bunnies, blossoms, eggs, animals, the moon, the sun, Christology, oh and sure, I’ve some room for chocolate in there, too. After all, it is the sweet delectables, the luscious plenty, the little gifts, and the small rewards that make such great love and transformation possible. But was my dream telling me to lay off the Twilight series by conjuring a vampire deer? Was I truly dead? Rutting? No—I’d like to think it’s the change on the horizon, the promise of sun, a great white fire I am still chasing after in the woods. Some promise borne out of rain, softening the edges, washing away the ashes, waiting for me to rise from a bed of flowers and turn my head up to the clouds of shattered eggshell to see the robin blue sky.

food, friends, health, love, myth, nature, psychology

My Favorite Plum

ripeMy favorite plum

My favorite plum
hangs so far from me
See how it sleeps
and hear how it calls to me
See how the flesh
presses the skin,
It must be bursting
with secrets within,
I’ve seen the rest, yes
and that is the one for me

See how it shines
it will be so sweet
I’ve been so dry
it would make my heart complete
See how it lays
languid and slow
Never noticing
me here below
I’ve seen the best, yes
and that is the one for me

~ Suzanne Vega

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He said, “I have seen a very strange sight. As I was coming hither, I saw two girls walking. Trees grew on their heads the boughs were covered with plums and the roots which came through their hair were fastened about their necks. They were beautiful and seemed to be very happy.”

“We will go and see them!” cried the women. They had not gone far before they saw one of the girls lying on the ground while the other pulled at the tree on her head. The roots gave way and the tree came out but all the hair came with it also. Then the other lay down and her friend in turn pulled the tree from her head. They were very angry and said, “If we meet with the man who played us this trick we will punish him.”

~ from The Algonquin legends of New England, or, Myths and folk lore of the Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot tribes By Charles Godfrey Leland

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The soft, white gardener’s gloves are coming off. i have been tending faithfully to my recovery. But two days before the full moon on the 11th, something moved in. Something came to a head, some terrible creeping vine got snarled in the works, slid through the garden, curled up around my ankles, tripped me up, sent me inside, put me in bed with cookies and tea and a warm cat and pulled from me a sobbing, frustrating confession that i laid out, soaking the cheek of my poor husband as i looked at him for consolation and answers.

i found myself frustrated, feeling ravaged, angry and sorrowful. It was all underneath there when the moon, a monstrous lever, became a shimmering coin wedged under me, a tightly capped bottle, and opened a geyser. The far away moon, a silver spade of light shot down a deep well, struck the ground and water erupted. i cried on and off for three days, mostly to myself, to a few patient and listening on the phone, and to my Joe.

For three days, i allowed myself to unravel, and found my heart weary and wrung out, resigned to being heavy and wet as a sodden sponge. My brain, a rabbit running circles in a electrified cage looking for an inch of wire that doesn’t shock. My insides, a calliope of dark, oceanic sound, guttural bagpipes under a taut waterbed. You think a waterbed is a good idea until you try sleeping on one, or moving it. Both are disappointing and painful endeavors and Buddha help you if you spring a leak somewhere. It will take all your effort to track down and fix it, if you don’t grow wildly impatient in the process. And my bum, well, it’s an occasionally unpredictable vending machine; every food an unmarked denomination that drops a bauble, a sticker, a spider, an unrecognizable & mysterious something or other and yes, we can end the metaphor right there without getting too indelicate.

My acupuncturist has said that i am very aware of my body’s innerworkings. Mmmhmm. i probably pay more attention to what i know is “me.” In fact, the biggest obstacle is likely “me” getting out of my own damn way and up from the circular pool that is my head, swimming with worry, diagnoses, concoctions, medications, and self-perpetuated misery which i think, despite the goodness of yoga and meditation has been affecting my sense of healing.

Still, i should not have to wake already dizzy and exhausted, twinged with fear; i still feel fatigued sometimes, even after decent sleep and for no good reason. i think i am in some sort of mourning stage and trying very hard to make peace with this major change and upheaval in my body. This good little machine which i feel has betrayed me somehow, or more, been betrayed by the path of care not clearly employed by my doctors and better researched, hacked at, tried and carried out by my own overwhelming desire to heal. i turn the whole puzzle with pointed questions around and around in my head: Why did my gallbladder go bad? Have i been unnecessarily harvested and robbed of a small but important piece of the original factory model? Will the rest of my body recover and compensate? Will i lead some compromised digestive and internal version of my former life? Will i ever truly heal?

how long how long how long was my teary mantra. i’m so impatient, i just want to smack myself out of it! i keep wondering “how long until i am completely well?” “how long until i have a day where i wake and feel mostly normal?” (aside from normal wear and tear or self-deprived rest). i keep asking the outside, the place without me, how long how long how long instead of delivering the directive be well be well be well to the place within me. i am not being as kind to myself as i should, i know.

What i noticed lately is this lump in my throat that appears and dissipates some. i felt it once the first week and apparently, it’s not uncommon after surgery as i’ve read other peoplewinterblossom complain about it. It’s also associated with GI disturbances and is mostly seen in the realm of anxiety and stress. My acupuncturist said it was know as Plum Pit Qi. Here’s where the explanation gets ancient, interesting and illuminating:

“The feeling of an obstruction in the throat (when there’s not an actual physical obstruction) is called Plum Pit Qi and is associated with Qi Stagnation (Liver Qi in particular). There is actually an emotional cause to this manifestation, Chinese Medicine diagnoses it as Qi and Phlegm knotted in the throat. Emotions such as sadness or frustration can produce a lump in the throat or Plum Pit Qi. The root pattern is a binding depression of Liver Qi with a concurrent inability to deal with an overwhelming emotional situation in which symbolically the patient cannot swallow. The Liver Qi attacks the Stomach causing Qi counterflow and thus interferes with the Qi transformation producing Phlegm and Dampness. The Lung and Stomach Qi counterflow causing Phlegm to become stuck in the throat so that the patient cannot expel it. Due to the severe depression of the Liver Qi there may also be rib-side pain and stuffiness in the chest.

Plum Pit Qi is first mentioned in Chinese literature in the Jin Gui Yao Lue, a treatise composed at the end of the Han Dynasty (ca. 220 A.D.). The text addresses miscellaneous disorders, mostly those suffered by women. In Chinese medicine, Plum Pit Qi corresponds to globus hystericus or neurotic esophageal stenosis in Western medicine. Sometimes, it’s even diagnosed as cricopharyngeal spasm. It refers to a sensation as if something were stuck in the back of the throat which can neither be spit up nor swallowed down. In the Chinese medical literature, this feeling is likened to a plum pit stuck in the throat or a piece of roasted meat. As its Western names suggest, this is a psychiatric diagnosis associated with anxiety, depression, and stress.”

:: sigh:: Great. In Eastern terms, i have blocked energy, stagnant blood, dampened, gummed up insides which lead my organs to attack, invade and otherwise kung fu the hell out of each other’s energy flow. In Western terms, succinctly, i am officially, a nutter. But if nothing else, and after all that fascinating text, i can put a name to it. i can actually visualize it all in terms of energy or in somewhat physically impossible metaphors. i KNEW it’s been my angry liver kicking the ass of my spleen and stomach.

i suppose you could categorize my private, internal emotional state as mildly depressed if not weathered by the experience of going from merrily eating and drinking up food, wine and life to this cautious balancing act with my body. So, my acupuncturist and i, through open discussion, have been concentrating on those points dealing with the liver and depression or mood. i DO feel better after yoga and meditation, but it’s been rather like an episodic bandage over an unclosed gash. i realize that the change for the better is going to be incremental, but what i’m really wishing for is for that big, red panic button in my brain to become the reset button or to be shot through with sudden, glorious, radiant, healing light.

This plum pit of mine is also thought to be associated with GERD & the like, though all i can say is the Pepcid i was prescribed for nausea from suspected reflux gave me headaches on top of it all and didn’t seem to affect anything dramatically over time or from withdrawal. On it, off it, nothing really changed.

i was never instructed how long to take them, never followed up with and i NEVER had acid reflux before, so why now? If i have to campaign aggressively for my own health, i’d rather do an ERCP, a barium swallow or MRI studies to determine the actual likelihood & amount of acid reflux if any. Then, at least there would be reason to have any given medication prescribed. The whole, “I have this symptom, so give me that med” without any physical diagnostic tool can’t be very accurate. That’s how the meds pile up. It becomes a Jenga game of stacking up pills that mask the inital symptom with a new, undesired symptom that requires counter-measures by way of new drugs further inducing another crop of symptoms until it’s about livable through layered pain management. By then, you are taking the first through fourth medication, you’ve built a wall around the actual foundation, the original underlying cause which, if pulled out gently and addressed is just like pulling the crucial block from the bottom that’s fucking up the whole balance, thereby, finally – bringing the unhealthy, leaning tower down.

As you’d expect, it’s also recommended from the Western side of things to try soothing the plum pit with anti-anxiety meds & anti-depressants (globus hystericus or neurotic esophageal stenosis) and/or to see if Valium or a similar muscle relaxant stops it (cricopharyngeal spasm). Now, i’m not worried about the stigma of anti-i-can’t-deal-anymore meds. They are a familiar friend in my family and we didn’t ask to be crazy or to live in such an occasionally mucked-up world. Trust me, when things got bad, i have used them to straighten out, click the serotonin up a notch and get back in the game.

But now, i seem to want less pharmaceuticals in me, less things for my liver to clear out and cough up and more vitamins and supplements for my body to take in. i added digestive enzymes which includes acidophilus, and that seems to help with meals and the end-product of, so to speak. They are also reputed to help with the supposed reflux problem i may or may not have. So, buh-bye Pepcid. This next visit to the acupuncturist will include new liver points and a specially formulated Chinese medicine specific to my symptoms, weight and constitution. Again, i have to ask, why doesn’t Western medicine do MORE of this special, individualized care better?

The time of the liver on the Chinese circadian clock is between 1 and 3 a.m. Guess what time i wake up to write and pace the house? Yeah. Even now, it’s 1:49 am as i type this bit of the story. Go to sleep liver, you’re wearing me out.

For those three days i argued with myself, maybe i SHOULD get on some anti-something-or-anothers to straighten out a chemical imbalance and let the rest of the healthy activities take their course & full effect. It’s so strange . . . i don’t really feel depressed, i interact normally and cheerfully enough with people, i’m still productive (albeit in personal endeavors alone since i am STILL unemployed) but people close to me have noticed i am not as light and confident as i used to be, that something in me is stifled. And it’s true, in my private moments, i DO have those dark blue thoughts, feel discouraged and notice the tension and discomfort move through my body in unpredictable cycles and in new, sometimes unpleasant sensations. So, perhaps there are these organic after effects i’m not consciously aware of, clouding things up in there. i am producing plum pits that rise and fall and when it falls to the bottom, what will grow then?

i am trying to count blessings; i am not battling cancer, i am loved by family, friends and completely supported by Joe in every manner as any woman could want for. i have all that i need to survive and well beyond basic necessities. But simply stated, eating to live is necessary and enjoying eating is difficult, thus life has become more difficult. Some days i am just throwing belly timber in. Food and vitamins and supplements to keep the fire stoked and the machine working. Good days, i actually enjoy the food. Bad days, i get it past my lips and worry if the enemy has crossed over and smuggled in a tank of gasoline to set the place on fire and shut the engine room down. But it appears the engine room is missing a particularly important cog. And in keeping with my current interest of interpreting maladies through Chinese medicine . . .

The functions of the Gallbladder are:

– Store and excrete bile
– Govern decision making
– Control sinews
– Affect dreams
– Close relation with the Liver

There is a reason i cannot sleep – my liver is angry, i feel indecisive and weakened besides the actual trauma of surgery. It is explained that “the Gallbladder affects the quality and length of sleep, if it is deficient a person will wake very early and not be able to return to sleep. When the Gallbladder is deficient, one dreams of fights, trials, and suicide.” (Spiritual Axis). Further, “the Liver is considered to be responsible for the ability to plan life, the Heart oversees all mental functions, the Small Intestine gives clarity and wisdom to decision making, and the Gallbladder gives the courage and capacity to make decisions. All these functions must be harmonized to plan and lead a harmonized life. If the Gallbladder is weak a person will be timid and lack initiative and courage. The Gallbladder gives us drive and the passion to excel and the action potential necessary for these to come to fruition. Dealing with adversity also comes under the role of the Gallbladder. It is often necessary to tonify the Gallbladder to support the Heart’s function.”

I wonder what Chinese Medicine says about cholecystectomy. About carrying on with missing, integral parts. Well – let’s deal with the big part that’s left . . .

i’ve begun to imagine my Liver as a powerful, insightful, well-educated, well-informed and well-manicured woman dressed to the nines, and someone stole her favorite little purse with all her money, identity and mojo. My liver was a vibrant lady and i though i gave her plenty to do, i never taxed her too hard. But without a place to store and concentrate on who she is inside and where she’s going, she currently finds herself rather lost in cortisol-laced, moonfaced dreams.

likefireworks

If i could paint the image of how i feel inside it would look like this:

A red-haired girl in the lotus position sitting below a Weeping Plum Tree, reaching up with both hands at the top of squared elbows, her fingers in Gyan Mudra, her index fingers and thumbs signaling ‘ok’ with her palms upturned to catch what may fall from the tree. She looks up, her chin lifted slightly, reaching more with one hand to draw down the perfect plum, dangling just out of reach. Scattered around her in the grass below, the flesh of half-eaten plums are lit upon by ladybugs, butterflies and pushed about in the mandibles of stag beetles, glossy as patent leather, trundling in circles like dark little bulldozers. The plum tree is unusual and split in half between two seasons of growth. Half of the weeping tendrils are covered in wintry, Valentine blossoms of red, pink and white with bare, black bark twisting though in burls and spirals; witchy, clawed fingers stretching down and pointed out as if to touch. On this side, orange-amber prescription bottles hang, some without caps, raining white pills like the petals of Ume flowers. The other half is covered in Spring & Summer leaves, drooping under the weight of fat, glimmering, thick-skinned, purple plums.

The Ume flowers on plum trees are celebrated and adored in both China and Japan. In China, the blossoms symbolize struggle and endurance of winter’s hardship; they embody resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity because it is in the winter snow they bloom most vibrantly. Conversely, Japanese see the Ume blossoms as a harbinger of Spring and tradition holds they function as a protective charm against evil.

That moon pulled on me as it does the tides, drawing the water down, out and away. In all those tears, the plum-pit in my throat has softened, but there are still these knots inside. Plum pits swallowed, waiting to surface, to be spat. There is an approaching midpoint; the fear of dying off, the relinquishing of control, the surrender in letting go and the promise of rebirth. Of something allowed to die in order to come back in a new form. The last fury of Winter Solstice. The first whisper of Vernal Equinox.

i am that girl, in seated meditation, grounded and split between two seasons, with both hands reaching for protection, for nourishment, for my favorite plum and for the small things tending the garden to carry away and bury the pit.

dreams, drinking, food, love, myth, nature, philosophy, photography, psychology

Factoid of 10

so . . . i was tagged. more, i was asked to write a blog with 10 random things, facts, goals, or habits about mys(elf).

this longish little labor of love is dedicated to Virtual Angel and Laura, (thanks for waiting pretty ladies) though i will break the trend by NOT tagging anyone directly for obligatory response and instead invite anyone to tell me one random thing, fact or goal about themselves here as an optional comment.

i will start big and descriptive and then i will try to scale down to some simple trivia.

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1 i am a nature nut. I have a profound respect for all things furry, things with leaves, scales, fins, feather and especially wings. And not just the pretty things like moths and butterflies, but birds and even bats. I have picked up butterflies dashed by car radiators flapping at the roadside. i’ve hand fed a dazed hummingbird after thudding pitifully into a window and was amazed to have it fly directly out of my hand. i have carefully pulled a baby mouse from a glue trap. Out of sheer interest, i took great pride in planting and cultivating a small but beautiful garden and i raised giant silkmoths (Saturniidae) for a year. i have photo documented nearly all of the above in great detail.

This all adds up to the fact that i wish i were a National Geographic level photographer (though i did finish in the 3rd annual Smithsonian contest in the category of Altered Images for a photo of a red tree.) my photos have also been featured in a Maryland Department of Natural Resources Calendar and on a species sign at the Calgary Zoo (for a HUGE bat called a Malayan Flying Fox.)

To remind me of the fragility of the natural worlds (humans included) i keep a little wooden box on my bookshelf. Some would consider it a bug sarcophagus but it has several wings, some full bodies of, and some single panels of glittering, scaly, colorful butterflies, moths and a fully intact dragonfly. I’m not a pinner and framer or a freezer or a killer. None of this Silence of The Lambs nonsense . . . i would just find these and collect them in the field as is. Creepy to you maybe, but delicate treasures to me.

2 i move slow on Sundays. Meditatively so. Or more at, sometimes, i don’t like getting up in the morning. Correction. i do NOT get up in the morning, i typically rise in the early afternoon. Morning for me is 10am to 11am. 9am is really pushing it. Anything prior to that and i am either sleeping, or some kind soul is cooking up a mean breakfast in the kitchen that has roused me and my hunger. Or –  i wake voracious and i am found making a tall stack of pancakes, towering like fluffy beige clouds or a big mess of cheesy scrambled eggs. My Sunday ritual is this . . . Rise late. Drink tea. Eat breakfast for lunch. Stay comfortable. Snuggle with Joe. Read or write of fill my mind and heart with music and art. I am not religious (unless you count nature) but i understand why people go to church, why they don’t want to work, why they choose forced respite on Sunday. as midnight approaches on a Saturday, bringing to close a full day, a full week lived and loved, greeted and embraced, photographed and written about, drunk down and eaten full, documented, cherished and learned from, i see the world as my church and the amazing places, people and things in it, all beautiful, meaningful and deserving of reverence in their own godlike ways. So i need time to digest my universe. And i refuse to work on Sundays. For at least the past 10 years . . . ultimately, i try to live my life as if it were a string of neverending Sundays: i eat when i am hungry, i sleep when i am tired, i work when i need the money, i rest when my mind or my body calls for it.

3 i am guilty of magical thinking. This is because i believe i lead a charmed life. Truly. In a world of random bullshit and utter chaos, i find myself wildly lucky. this works for me in a positive way not a paranoiac way. Many, many positive things, people and opportunities have filled my life. The places i’ve traveled to and seen, the wine i’ve consumed, the food i’ve eaten, the music i’ve absorbed, the people i’ve met, the true friends and the necessary lovers over the years and now, the perfect husband i now cherish. Where does the magic come in? i believe these things have been delivered to me from sheer wishing, from dreams, from asking the universe out right, from applying my mind and my will to them and invariably, from making the good decisions that put me in the places where the magic indeed happens. Oh yeah – and i think faerie folklore has a good bit of truth and i don’t care what you think that means. The boon of art and writing inspired is plenty. i look for signs in everything from placement in time and numbers on coins, to colors worn for effect, from license plates to billboards, from overheard conversations to the small, pinched flower mouths of children. Myths are made daily. i live like that . . .

4 i prefer to eat with my hands. I can even been seen eating a salad like this. Sure – i’ve worked in fine dining for the better part of 16 years and i know how to set a proper table. Even so, i use my right hand like a little claw or a prong, gathering three fingers and a thumb into a quadrant, leaving the pinkie out. i like gently tearing off hunks of cake or gathering a bundle of French fries and bringing the whole of it to pursed lips. i often taste sauces on plates with my fingers first before going in. it doesn’t matter how fancy or how low country the food is, though i will often employ the proper tool at the proper time, i still prefer the direct tactile sensation of bringing food to my mouth with my hands. and as for beverages, i’ll drink wine out of anything, including a bowl.

5 i’ve tried my hand at every artistic arena minus sports. i’ve attacked and completed most ventures with moderate success and still continue to grow in the ones i’ve decided to hold onto. No one told me i couldn’t or explained that i might fail so i tried everything to see what i was good at with joyful abandon. i play acoustic guitar and a smattering of piano, i even tried flute and saxophone. i sing mostly as i discovered it was my best instrument and used it to front a band. i’ve been recorded. i’ve sketched, painted and sculpted. i took jazz for a few months and performed in precisely one dance recital in a hideous pink and black polka-dotted bodysuit with crinoline skirt when i was 15. i still write quite a bit and have been published in small collections that i have entered and/or was editor-in-chief for and won minor educational scholarship contests for writing when i began my college career. Then there’s the photography bit too . . . as previously mentioned.

6 secretly – or maybe not so secretly, i want to sift through my writing and author a book. Poetic prose, nothing too confessional, something probably more at short-story/essay-type of writing. If there were a way to amalgamize the astute natural observation of Annie Dillard, the humor of David Sedaris, Douglas Adams or Christopher Moore, and the delightfully dense prose of Tom Robbins, fluid and delivered in equal parts, then this is the book i want to write. i mean – aren’t we all very busy writing the Great American Novel?

7 Socks. i love them. Especially knee-highs. The longer, more silly, more sexy, more striped, more full of cats and flowers and polka-dots and eyeballs and stars, the better.

8 Being naked. This is my preferred state. And i don’t say that to be provocative. i like senseless nudity. Like, i prefer to be naked cleaning the tub and bathroom tiles (so i can shower after!) or fresh out of the shower composing email naked in front of the computer with a towel on my head. i like doing the dishes naked or dusting the bookshelves on a chair naked or my favorite, stripping down in front of the washer and loading the clothes into the basin naked. Also combine this with 7 and you get naked plus socks – another common state of mine.  Because i dress according to mood and function, it takes me awhile to decide what i’m wearing for the day so if i don’t have to go anywhere on the immediate, i’ll just wander the house naked until i get inspired.

9 Oregon. This is where i want to live. I want to see mountains and water, to hike to camp, to breathe and eat healthy and sleep soundly to the rain. All of this with my husband Joe, in a home with a fireplace and a wall stuffed with books (or a proper library), with a couple (or few cats) and a big porch to watch the birds from, a backyard without a fence to hold back the garden of flowers, herbs, vegetables and lavender, a few comfortable chairs, a bright window to look out while i write and read, and a nicely stocked kitchen and pantry with plenty of cupboard space for us to feed ourselves and entertain the people we adore. There is a plan in place for this eventual utopian move . . .

And last for 10 i give you . . ..

10  My Top 10 List of Tiny Zen

  1. the top of my cat’s head (where smooches go)
  2. Mango flesh – if you want to learn to kiss, eat one, with both hands
  3. the smell of onions frying in butter
  4. the crisp of autumn experienced through an open window
  5. blood orange hot tea
  6. an afternoon nap in a cool, dark place
  7. lavender – in any form, mixture, balm or concoction
  8. a sexy, luscious, viscous red wine
  9. Jasmine Rice steaming
  10. cold champagne in a hot bath

and the invitation is now yours, should you choose . . .

death, dreams, health, language, myth, nature, philosophy, psychology, technology

Exquisite Cognomen or “How to Name Our Pain”

i am not politically inclined to comment.
i am not so easily terrified by ‘terror.’
i avoid most news to maximize joy.

but i have some thoughts on these things,
in grand universal brush strokes . . .

:::   :::   :::   :::

Exquisite Cognomen or “How to Name Our Pain”

In the world, there is forever fever:
We read the signs,
blazing in historic orange.
We straddle our majestic fates,
ride our caution horses up to the edge,
and prepare ourselves to be known,
We drop our weapons in the dust,
and unveil with the other prairie dogs—a global disrobal.

We read too much tar for no pleasure,
while we patch ourselves up with nicotine band-aids.
We let the talking heads scare us into the show,
We become cancerous clowns in the tumor circus.
We cannot duck and cover in the Alcoholocaust.
We cannot stay dry in the headswim of worry
and forward motion.

Compartmentalization leads to:
rubix cubicles,
paralyzed prizes,
spastic plastic,
and Tupperware death,

All the ever meanwhile,
Howling sweet exultations
and consuming quietly our consummations
so that we may die pure
and be saved by our cleverly patented,
widely acknowledged,
billions served,
guaranteed
one-hundred thousand mile drive chain
Luxury Christ.

When we hunker down
And cast our last breath under the elective curtain,
when they unearth our sterile bones,
will they say they truly understood what fine
encyclopedic creatures we were ?
Will we leave bones?
Bones for wolves to make soup,
for women to make breastplates,
and for men to make cages to keep their wolves
and women warriors in.

They may see the hinted drop stitchwork,
the soft, green loop to crochet the new world from,
but will they want such a pattern to follow?
We who all succumbed to communal self-butchery and burnings.
With the burden of our knowledge,
clinging to our near-death faces
though we wake in the night,
suffering insomniacs,
bloated and blue,
—information gorge syndrome—
well coax the current thickening lump and swallow,
and fall back against another chainlink, razorwire
skinless sleep.

Well, for now, caustic dreamers
of blameless, paranoid, age-defying landscapes,
let us multi-task our spiritual trash,
complicate the workable and fertile into fiscal orgasms,
and reduce our grand and beautiful ideas to slogans and acronyms
that suggest other equally unplugged words.

Let us muck around in newfound dark,
continue our acid intercourse,
bring our weary and our winded before our glittering
revolutionary hearth.
But we ask that you ask your loved ones to cover their nettles,
so we cannot trace the frightening highway back to the ocean,
or the forest,
or the desert,
so we do not name the extraneous scar across the trellis of a thousand nations,
so we will not offend our impressionable guests
at dinner date death,
so we cannot recognize our very same,
unrefined pain.

How do we not weep when we know our name is like a dirge,
strangled from threadbare angels.
The earth groans under our weight,
impregnated again and again with a stifling humanity,
eggs rolling off the edge of the earthen table
set by Columbus—
tiny, hopeful, rudiment vessels,
unpacking the cargo of the daunting future
while crushing the orange partitions of the past.

food, love, myth, sex

How To Eat A Mango . . .

sure, everything is good when it’s shared. especially meals. food. wine. some would argue that it’s most depressing, cooking for one and eating it alone.

i don’t know about that.

i like coming home to a clean kitchen waiting for things to be made hot and messy and for new scents to arise from the nothing. if it reads like i’m trying to make it sound sexy you’re right, i am, because – it is.

sure, everything happens in the kitchen of a house. especially conversation. food. wine. updates. but left unhelped, undistracted, i can turn on music that fills the room, sing aloud, sway about, chop through vegetables, heat butter, stir sauces, all the ever meanwhile, sipping on the vino du noir. the fine wine selection of the nite.

cooking is magic – it’s alchemy, and baking is wizardry too. you can really fuck it up at any critical juncture. souffles fall into mush, cakes plummet and become bricks, butter and flour-sifted pans scorch, eggs turn green and brown, pasta goes the other direction from al dente to dental work. it’s all very much finesse. there’s an awful lot of appreciation and pre-fabrication that goes into a really good meal. and i’ve thought and written much and ranted about it here.

and it’s easier to pay attention when you’re left alone with the matter at hand.

last nite, i had eggplant parmigiana, a salad of cucumbers, grape tomatoes, chopped cauliflower and broccoli with a Tuscan dressing, fresh olive bread and a Cabernet that’ll curl your toes. it was a meal to savor. hell, i even considered seducing myself into bed.

but before all of this, 3 ripe mangos sat, smothered in a plastic bag and i could smell them as familiar and wanton as the skin at the nape of a lover’s neck. i had to make one an appetizer.

sure, there are many ways to cut, to peel, to dice, to eat, to devour a mango. but i found the best way yet. quietly, softly and alone. everyone’s so worried about getting messy yet just as much concerned about the proper way to get the most fruit out of such a luscious creature. so i take my mango to a place where i can truly enjoy it with abandon.

here’s what i found is easiest . . .

+ take the mango into one hand. observe how it’s like a self-contained traffic light. red, amber, green. now GO! bring the skin up to your nose and inhale deeply, appreciating what’s just beneath.

+ get a good paring knife out of the drawer and slice it not around its waist, but head to tail, lengthwise, running the blade deep along its walled pit until the incision meets the stem at both sides.

+ cup the mango in your hands and gently twist the half-moons of its newly separated self back and forth without pressing or bruising the flesh just enough to yield a little juice.

+ starting with one half, you’ll find the skin wants to peel back now. do so in long slender pieces or if you are lucky, the whole side will come off leaving only light strings and a very thin layer of fruit on the back of the skin. throw these away and move towards the sink. or if you must, put a towel down on the counter for now the true and rewarding work begins.

+ hold the wet fruit in your hands as if it were a little ball, a glass ornament, an empty hand, a naked lover and bring it to your mouth and eat it as if you were just learning to kiss for the first time. bite, pull, suck, come up for air here and again and don’t worry about the juice running down your forearms as you can lick or rinse that off later. continue this, allowing yourself mutterings and mumbling mmmmmms of pleasure and succulence until you are down to the bony pit at the center.

+ wash your hands, pat them dry, drink a warm glass of water. smile.

then go eat dinner. and read some fun facts and myths about the king of fruits.

well, how do YOU eat a mango?

death, dreams, friends, love, myth, pets

learning to fly

:::   :::   :::   :::

As the sparrow in her wandering,
As the swallow in her flying,
So the curse that is causeless
alighteth not.

~ Proverbs 26:2

:::   :::   :::   :::

Olivia called me while driving and said, “i’m at a red light, thinking of you.”

And in my little self-absorbed funk i quipped, “Why,” and snickered, “because my signs say STOP?”

“No, because it’s RED,” she laughed.

A few dream cycles ago, the reddest of thoughts wended their way through the white matter that is my brain in a state of sleep, and i awoke, emitting pink smoke and in a haze from the most fantastic visions. my signs lately, they stop other things, they cut them off, they shine dark red warning light into my face: a submarine submerging, a whore advertising, a dark room for developing images, distant galaxies red-shifting, moving away from each other and then the signs switch and i turn right and the color begs me to go, go be green, be verdant, to grow. to GO! and i do.

i dreamt i was taking a shower in a brightly lit bathroom with a huge window in the shower stall. on the wall outside of the shower, where a medicine cabinet or mirror should hang was instead, a large vent recessed deeply into the wall, slatted for ventilation, as in a factory. i could hear birds chirping, chattering, squawking, and scratching around inside. it sounded like nest building, like an argument, like a rusty gate swinging in a storm.

a small blackish bird got loose and slid between one of the slats and out into the bathroom where i stood naked in the light. it was brightly yet darkly colored, iridescent like a Raven yet smaller, like a grackle. In Norse mythology the god Odin (for which i named my cat) kept a pair of ravens called Hugin (thought) and Munin (remembrance). Even Odin himself would occasionally shapeshift, becoming a raven. But his pets, they took flight in the morning and scaled the earth, asking questions and begging secrets of people, even of the dead before returning to the shoulder or the throne to whisper all they had seen and heard into the ear of their master.

The raven symbolizes solitude, gratitude, affection, wisdom, light, hope, longevity, death, and fertility. In alchemy, it represents change and the advanced soul dying to this world. Conversely, the grackle is typically a sign of Spring, perhaps of re-birth, the dark keel-shaped tail sailing in just before the Robin’s red-breasted return. But this bird was smaller and something about it was both sweet yet sinister. i bent down to push my finger against its chest to scoop it onto the ledge of my finger and it pecked me lightly. The grackle is an omnivore, which means it will eat almost everything that doesnt eat it first, so i thought it might take my finger off, but instead, it turned its head sideways at me and glared then clamped down onto me with its talons before flying out the window. Was i dying to this world or was i becoming new?

somehow from contact with the bird i developed a curse. i was new by design but i brought death instead. any man i touched, any man i put my hands upon out of love would turn ashen and grey, then disintegrate, like burning incense. with one boy i learned i could touch him with my toes and so we held feet under the table during dinner, but when i got too comfortable, when i forgot myself, when i curled into the crook of his arm as we watched a movie, i placed my hand gently on the outside of his forearm thinking it wouldn’t harm him if i touched him through his clothing, through the sleeve of his maroon jacket. he turned to me, he grew stock still, his eyes grew wide as tears welled in my own. a wave of frightening, sure knowledge crashed over us as he turned a grey replica shape of himself, then fell into a soft pile of silver ashes below me.

i went to see a bruja, a Mexican witch and she drew a curse book from a dark drawer in a table. “You have the Blackbird’s Curse,” she told me. “You must trust and they will remain. You must love openly and it will pass. The bird will come to you again and you will be safe and your lovers safe from harm.”

do i mistrust so much i withhold emotions and never give myself away – both betraying and denying myself? or do i flay myself so wide open that i bleed a murder scene, make a mess of things until my lovers evaporate, leaving only a chalky outline?  or will everything i touch simply dissolve while i am waiting to hear his call above all others? will i understand him when he calls, will i know him when his feathers brush my cheek or feel him when he finally reaches out and clutches me?

health, love, myth, psychology, sex

tapioca

lap at pudding
and self-beauty
because sometimes,
hero-worship is healthy
and you can paint yourself
in new, glorious colours
like bruise-purple
and green
and concrete, statuesque
white.
make certain to be
an audible soul.
take great strides to be pure
and god-like,
exalt in your pleasure precision
use your fingers as eyes . . .
throw back your
silk-lined neck
with the laughter of nymphs.
. . . be sure to taste like tapioca.

~Andrea E. Janda

food, language, myth, relationships

ex nihilo

when i couldn’t speak
she drew me a circle
there were no words to communicate
the shape i didn’t understand
but her circle did not close
and it turned outward on itself
and i was sad to see it
stop.
she called it “spiral”
and i begged for her to complete it
until it reached the ends of the paper
and continued on to the table
and pooled onto the floor,
heavy like honey.
she pointed to pasta and said it again
she held up a loaf of bread and smiled
and the word spread across the face
of a warm round slice
like butter.
then to dessert and moved her mouth
as if to kiss
and motioned towards dessert and said “swirl”
to the red and yellow
giving spiral a surname
an “S” alias whisper with an “L” for a tail
that taps the roof with her tongue
and runs down the slick back of teeth
like a secret.
i learn her language
and the shapes move out to where
i can no longer see the edge of her world.

~ Andrea E. Janda

friends, myth, nature, relationships

shot down . stuck fast . dark flight

just when i think it’s too much to bear . . . when my life seems turned on its ear, snaking about on a twisted, circular track and i feel like curling in on myself . . . i go back to the beginning as i end again.

i have been absent. from everything (including here and my photography as well) except work, which i have been doing quite a bit of.

my eight-year relationship recently self-destructed. and i’m just going to make it plain for you and for me . . . mostly, i am profoundly heartbroken, numbed and utterly daunted by the idea of dating, taking meals, movies and sleeping alone, weary of having to explain myself and learn someone new, having to relearn myself, afraid of being disappointed, dreading the whole “this-is-what-i’m-about-how-’bout-you” exercise, farting in front of someone new, being naked, learning a new kiss. it all horrifies me and i don’t even want to begin. i had a man i love dearly, i had a house, i had two cats together. i planted my tree there, i buried my cat there. i planted my heart there in the woods and let it cover the ground like ivy.

Brooks, my long-term boyfriend broke up with me. and to tell you how it all went down, and on my 33rd birthday would read so utterly cliché and rife with melodrama that i wish were NOT my life to report. Well – i have entered my Jesus year – he was 33 when he was crucified.

damn if it isn’t always the worst timing, the wrong thing said, the poor choices, the little misunderstandings that just chip away at things, until you can no longer see the good and the way through something or someone. there are things he thinks he needs to do for himself, and sadly – he wants to do them alone.

i met him when i was 25, online and through email. i didn’t even know what he looked like before we started speaking and growing close. he sent me pictures a book and a bottle of wine. he took me places i have never seen. he taught me so much about so many things natural and mechanical. i moved my whole life from Detroit, Michigan to be here with him in Maryland. we went through his Crohn’s disease (which he still endures), dead pets, funerals, vacations, all the things you can imagine, and we weathered my leaving twice while we were building a house to get some sanity and space from living in close quarters with his parents, and then, a monstrously stupid wasteful affair on my part. there are some things a relationship cannot survive, i suppose. people suffer their self-esteem, people stop forgiving, people build walls.

i would like to chalk it up to an early mid-life crisis on his part or humanity’s new short-attention span with love and excitement, and a case for those who don’t know how to commit and invest in people when they have fear of death, fear of confrontation, fear of friendship, fear of settling for the not-quite best sex/lover/relationship/etc. (insert fictional mind meld illusory mental/emotional state here). clearly the compromises he felt he had to make in order to be with me were too great. this is simply it. i just wish it felt better to say to myself and not cry every time i think of his absence. there are not enough pillows on this bed or friends i can talk to that make up for the empty space.

and i will leave it all at that. as he has reminded me it was NOT all goodness and light, though the love and loss of it has changed me profoundly and the memories of how it all began, how many many things we shared as friends, how THAT friendship is perhaps the only salvageable part. there is so much i could write, and i have, but it is largely personal and i will not trouble anyone’s eyes or conscience with it here. i am spilling out over the edges as it is . . . even the camera i shoot with, a gift from him, serves as a reminder.

i am living in Annapolis, Maryland. right downtown in the Historic District. it’s a nice house on the water, i rent it with two male roommates one of whom is Jason. mostly – i have the house to myself as Jason visits his girlfriend Jean quite a bit and works a lot, and Andrew, well he’s a handsome young man of i think 22, and he is gone quite a bit also, for various jet-setting to Chicago and New York, early work hours and socializing. so it’s mostly me and Odin just hanging out at home, purring and snuggling in, trying to get some sleep, eating lightly only for sustenance and hoping to adjust. there is a nice pair of windows in my room on the 3rd floor, my ivy plant is happy here, new leaves have erupted where dead spiny limbs were and i am able to crawl out my window and get onto the slanted roof to a platform area where i can look out across the neighborhood. it’s nice for sunning and watching the people, birds, and gardens.

what i have come to see is that nature continues to frighten and amaze me though i am no longer in my beloved forest . . . where all good elves belong. still i learn things like the will to fight, resilience, the inevitability and impartiality of death and my persistent love for all things great and small.

my last batch of moth eggs collapsed – they never hatched, perhaps not the product of a successful mating, which seems a terrible metaphor for the course of things lately, but no matter. i may still find some other specimens to raise and get interested in.

i watched two blackbirds trounce a mouse with their needled talons on a gravel path as the mouse interrupted their feeding and scavenging. i intervened and they took flight.

i watched a small sparrow fly too low before the eyes of traffic only to be batted pitifully against headlights and fall to the side of the road like a stone.

i see countless butterflies flittering with all of their might to make it across the lanes of whooshing traffic, dashed and left flapping like shutters, tiny cyclone trapdoors on the hot pavement, stuck like confetti fallout after a New Year’s kiss delivered to a perfect stranger.

Eastern Box Turtle peeking out

but i picked up a Painted Box Turtle, burnt ochre shell with starburst splashed and neon orange scales and head, with cherry red eyes. he was walking in the middle of the road, certain to be crushed. he rode on the floor of my passenger seat until i released him into the woods – but not before taking his picture . . .

Eastern Box Turtle

on from turtles and NOT to the rabbit, but the mouse . . . i know – they are rodents and vermin and potentially carry disease and reproduce and ruin food storage and clothes, but i loathe the sticky supposedly non-toxic glue traps that catch mice – or more i should remark they don’t so much “catch” as mangle and rip a creature limb from limb as they try to escape losing fur and feet if they DO manage to escape. i don’t know – i prefer “SNAP!” you’re dead than starvation and thirst and drowning in your own feces and struggle as you get more and more bound and twisted.

so, i am a bad employee – i saved a mouse from one of these grotesque things. i was setting up an adjacent dining room when i thought “eww, i better stash that trap so the guests don’t see it.” and upon picking it up, it stirred wildly and fluttered out of my hand and i screamed a bit. i wondered about what kind of unholy fucking cockroach/insect/mothra/beast might be twitching inside with 60,000 legs and pincers and fangs. i kicked it a bit across the room in the direction of the trash, then finally got brave got down on the ground and looked inside.

it was a tiny grey mouse, stuck with its little nose down, its whiskers bleeding, its mouth stuck open, tail behind it on display, feet tangled awkwardly below it in unnatural positions, stuck fast by its furry side and not escaping but still very much alive. what was i supposed to do? put it in a corner and ignore it (denial), put it out of its misery by bludgeoning it (personal), or worse – throwing it away (neglectful). so i took it to the sink in the nearby bathroom and turned on a small trickle of warm water, which it greedily lapped, working its mouth and blinking up at me. this gave it the energy to start squirming more, but i tried to keep it still so it didn’t rip itself apart.

i began by peeling the tail away and trying to unstuck the feet and head so it could close its mouth. then i went about dampening the trap with water and soap to loosen the glue, tearing off bits and pieces of the trap rather than trying to peel the mouse away by its loose body parts, which i was afraid would damage organs and break legs.

this took a good 10 minutes or so near the end of which the mouse became more excited, realizing it was being helped and was better able to move. once i had it free, its front paw a bit favored, perhaps stiff or injured, it scrambled and spun in a circular track in the sink basin. it nipped me ever so slightly, but grew calm as i scooped it up in a pile of paper towel. it curled into a little crescent, breathed quickly and i cupped it in my hands, cooed at it a bit to be calm, which it did and grew very still as i carried it outside to the huge bush i had seen mice in and out of before.

i put it down in the mulch and it appeared as if that one leg may have been broken, but it looked around and scampered off inside, ducking down into a little hole. somehow – i felt such a deep sympathy for this creature, stuck against its will, wanting to be removed, wanting to move. i can only hope it will heal or at least, die on its own terms.

Two nites ago i was out in the backyard here, a wild tangled overgrowth of hastas and ivy and low hanging branches looking over into the soft lights in my neighbor’s garden. The neighbor is a bed and breakfast called The Charles Inn as we live on Charles Street. it also has the window where i shot this cat photo:

While looking over in the garden with its fountains and stones and wonderful flowers, i saw a little orange flicker – the glow of an eye, something in flight. It was 11 at nite and all i could think was BAT! But no – you wouldn’t believe it – it was a hummingbird of all things . . . at NITE! i thought they went into torpor to keep warm and still in the dark and only flew in the sunlight, but here it was, a ruby-throated hummingbird darting aimlessly about, trying to find its way into the nectar caves. Turns out, i read that they don’t have a sense of smell. But more interesting is their affinity for the color RED . . .

The Ruby Throated Hummingbird is Maryland’s native species. It weighs only a tenth of an ounce and is attracted to nectar supplied by native plants or attentive homeowners. The flowers hummingbirds use for nectar sources have evolved with them. To attract a hummingbird, a flower must be red, bloom in the daytime, be rich in nectar and lack any sort of landing pad thereby eliminating competition from other birds. They like red so much in fact that folks in Louisiana hang lots of red Christmas ribbon, red surveyor’s tape, and other red items around their yards to be sure hummingbirds won’t pass them by. Some believe the hummingbirds fly down pathways (like roads) and have trails of red leading from the road into their house which must be an incredible spectacle!

My nitetime sighting sent me on a journey to discover myths and faerie tales about the hummingbird of which i found a nice handful and all of them Native American . . .

A Mayan legend says the hummingbird is actually the sun in disguise, and he is trying to seduce a beautiful woman, who is the moon.

Another Mayan legend says the first two hummingbirds were created from the small feather scraps left over from the construction of other birds. The god who made them was so pleased he had an elaborate wedding ceremony for them. First butterflies marked out a room, then flower petals fell on the ground to make a carpet; spiders spun webs to make a bridal pathway, then the sun sent down rays which caused the tiny groom to glow with dazzling reds and greens. The wedding guests noticed that whenever he turned away from the sun, he became drab again like the original gray feathers from which he was made.

A third Mayan legend speaks of a hummingbird piercing the tongue of ancient kings. When the blood was poured on sacred scrolls and burned, divine ancestors appeared in the smoke.

There is a legend from the Jatibonicu Taino Tribal Nation of Puerto Rico about a young woman and a young man, who were from rival tribes. Like Romeo and Juliet, they fell in love, precipitating the intense criticism of their family and friends. Nevertheless, the two of them found a way to escape both time and culture. One became a hummingbird and the other a red flower.

To the Chayma people of Trinidad, hummers are dead ancestors, so there is a taboo against harming them. An extinct Caribbean tribe called the Arawacs thought it was Hummingbird who brought tobacco. They called him the Doctor Bird.

Hopi and Zuni legends tell of hummingbirds intervening on behalf of humans, convincing the gods to bring rain. Because of this, people from these tribes often paint hummingbirds on water jars.

There is a legend from Mexico about a Taroscan Indian woman who was taught how to weave beautiful baskets by a grateful hummingbird to whom she had given sugar water during a drought. These baskets are now used in Day of the Dead Festivals.

The Pueblo Indians have hummingbird dances and use hummingbird feathers in rituals to bring rain. Pueblo shamans use hummingbirds as couriers to send gifts to the Great Mother who lives beneath the earth. To many of the Pueblo, the hummingbird is a tobacco bird. In one myth Hummingbird gets smoke from Caterpillar, the guardian of the tobacco plant, which is a nice Alice In Wonderland segue!

Another Pueblo story tells of a demon who is blinded after losing a bet with the sun. In anger he spews out hot lava. The earth catches fire. A hummingbird then saves the beautiful land of people and animals by gathering clouds from the four directions. Hummingbird uses rain from these clouds to put out the flames. This legend says the bright colors on a hummingbird’s throat came after he fled through the rainbow in search of rain clouds.

A Mojave, and my most favorite legend tells of a primordial time when people lived in an underground world of darkness. They send a hummingbird up to look for light. High above them the little bird found a twisted path to the sunlit upper world where people now live.

It is a place i hope to arrive at soon myself . . .

language, myth

Blarney

the following is from my Dictionary.com WOTD – Word Of The Day message and appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day

BLARNEY (Noun)

Pronunciation: [‘blahr-nee]

Definition 1: (1) The gift of eloquent speech; (2) empty words, double-talk, fabrication, nonsense.

Usage 1: The first meaning of today’s word has all but faded. To express this sentiment it is better to say that someone is ‘blessed with the gift of the Blarney Stone.’ “Blarney” is used today most often to refer to deceptive flattery or exaggerated fabrication.

Suggested usage: The migration of the meaning of today’s word illustrates our skepticism of eloquent language; however, if you make it clear you are referring to articulate speech, the original meaning emerges: “Fiona got her gift of blarney from her subscription to yourDictionary’s word of the day and not from kissing a rock.” However, if you omit that qualifier ‘gift,’ the word takes on a radically different meaning, “That story of how he completed his PhD at Harvard in 2 years is pure blarney.”

Etymology: Today’s word is an eponym from Blarney Village just outside the city of Cork, Ireland. The world famous Blarney Stone is perched high up in the battlements of Blarney Castle there. The stone was given to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314 in recognition of his support in the Battle of Bannockburn, depicted at the very end of Mel Gibson’s ‘Braveheart.’ Legend would have it be half the Stone of Scone over which Scottish Kings were crowned.