Classical it is…

Rediscovered KBAQ on my car radio this week-end; 89.5  was all classical music with a lovely lean towards the Baroque.

Then today listened to Schumann Symphony #1 while writing. Tried a little Florence and the Machine “Lungs” at one point but had to return to my classical collection by song 5, too jarring and violent this morning. Currently listening to Mozart.

Some days are just about the classics…

Yesterday was all about the big band sound and Etta James and Doris Day,

and so far today has been, well classic

but I think I may be transitioning to a bit of Abigail Washburn here shortly, something I can clean and sew to without closing my eyes in reverie but which also inspires calm….yup, “City of Refuge” it is…if you like the new folk sounds at all, give Abigail a listen sometime, ask them at Hoodlums (or your own local store) to giver her a spin next time you are in there, and I promise you will walk out with a new CD (and hey, tell them Crowfae sent you, won’t get you anything but it sounds cool ūüėČ

….and now I want to stop cleaning and dance around with my folk flag flying…..yup….I gotta run….

What I am reading this week…and a couple things I can’t wait to read…

First I apologize for posting this a day late. No excuse, just an apology. As usual I am reading more than one book.

I am reading aloud a lifetime favorite, “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’Engle.¬†Certain authors are my “go to” authors for reading aloud to patients depending on the patient’s age and taste; L’Engle, E. B. White, Dumas, Alcott, Frost, Twain, Dickens, Whitman. The authors language and chapter structure must lend themselves to “voices” and¬†serialized¬†presentation, and be music when spoken. The list has been fairly stable although a few new authors have joined the list this decade like James Owen with “Here There Be Dragons” ¬†whose reveal at the end of this book rivals some of Vonnegut’s (who, however much I love him and his place on so many other of my literary lists, is not on the read aloud list.)

I am also reading “Homesteading” edited by Abigail Gehring. This is both research for my post-apocalyptic novel in process and research for my own desire to walk more softly and compassionately through this world. So far enjoyable. And my vote for best lines ever in a “you too can get green” introduction, “Before ¬†buying chicks or any other animal to raise, be honest with yourself about the time you have for caring for them….. Homesteading is different for every individual or family. Sometimes being genuine means letting go – at least temporarily – of grandiose schemes for acres of land, a home completely off the grid, and a barn full of animals…….” And I know animal rescuers everwhere are equally impressed with the sentiment. I personally am starting (yet again) with plants and planting.

Reading “The Teachings of Buddha”, a free book put out by the Society for Buddhist Understanding. Don’t recommend it or “un”recommend it. ¬†My problems with this translation and compilation is that it is to other compilations of Buddha’s life and teachings what “The Living Bible” is to the “King James Version”. All the reasons I don’t thoroughly like it are the very reasons others might just recommend it. ¬†The language is very prosaic and couched in terms people familiar with western theism will embrace and understand. Words like “sin” and “omniscience” are not words I associate with Buddhism. However I understand why the translators/compilers went there, so to speak, and as the core Dhammapada is there for me I will finish it, but then probably just pass it on via coffee shop shelf. If you are an avid theist unfamiliar with any of Buddhist teachings who is interested in learning more, I would actually recommend Karen Armstrong’s biography of Buddha over this text as introduction.

Finally, I am about to start re-reading a “potato chip” book (just finished re-reading “March” which although more a nutritious meal was every bit as¬†devour-able, addictive-ly tasty and enjoyable to read) called “Fuzzy Nation” by John Scalzi. The paperback comes out next month. Buy it, or be real supportive and buy a hardback this month. The author is worth it, his books are very much like my favorite organic, olive oil fried potato chips. They are delicious bits of questionable¬†nutrition, but heart healthier than the usual science fiction, and you can’t just read one.

Which leads me to my very “un” peaceful NEED, CRAVING and desire for Scalzi’s next book “Red Shirts” due to come out in June

and on that same note is my attachment to reading the next book in James Owen’s dragon series due out in August.

I want……*sigh*


Acceptance is the key to the closed doors in life

I start with the premise that life is a journey, or a meal, or a really good book because these are the things in life I love most and therefore understand best. I love to travel; short distances, long distances, foot, bike, car, plane the mode is moot and the distance relative because I love the going, the looking about on the way, the arriving, and the familiar comfort of coming home.  I love to cook and feed people even more than I love to eat, and I LOOOOOVE to eat. I also love devouring written words, especially well written words. These three activities have much more in common than just me.

A trip requires a destination, a route or map, the method of achieving the distance in the time allotted and actual movement. A meal requires a menu, recipes, ingredients, a method of heating and combining the ingredients to create the desired outcome, and the effort and time to transform the raw materials into the delicious dishes craved. A book may be an internal feast or journey but its birth begins with a story line and requires an understandable  language, word, sentence and plot structure to carry the reader from the dark and stormy night to the ultimate triumph of love*. Life like journeys, meals and books must first have a goal, a destination, menu, plot.

My goals are true compassion and peace. Living this ethic is the journey I want to be on in all my moments awake and asleep, the meal I want to prepare for others and to feast my soul upon when I am alone, the book I want to write.  This is comparable to saying I want to go live a month in Antartica, make a vegan party feast for all my friends and family to enjoy, or read all the works of  Alexandre Dumas (or maybe better yet, write as many, LOL).  The goal is large, intimidating and easy to dismiss as impossible.

That door is closed. Antartica is only for scientists and I cannot walk or drive there on my own; my son and many of my friends are dedicated carnivores and would never enjoy the foods I love to eat and make; Dumas has 277 books according to many more than 1000 pages and others never translated to English. ¬†The world is too hard, selfish and chaotic and I am a product of this world and am therefore to full of needs and neurosis to be able to live peace and compassion. I am just an¬†degree-less¬†LPN; even my roommate avoids my healthier foods, everybody I know likes salty, sweet and animal fat too much to be happy with a vegan feast; most of Dumas’ works are probably out of print; sure people like the Dalai Lama or Pema Chodron can manifest peace and compassion in all their actions but they live a¬†monastery¬†life, I don’t have the luxury of leaving life behind, I have to work in the real world. My son and DIL call this portion of thinking “spinning the excuse wheel,” I must say I have a talent for it, maybe you do too.

Except I truly believe every door, even the locked and sticky ones, can be opened. I also believe that acceptance of exactly where I am, how life is, and what I have to work with is the key to opening any door.

The first step in getting or giving directions is to know where one is.

The first step in cooking is to assess the available ingredients and equipment and the tastes of the desired consumer.

The first step in reading an authors collected works is knowing how well one actually reads the languages in which the works are available.

The first step in developing compassion and peace as a way of life is knowing and accepting the clutter, lack of discipline, attachment and greed that currently pervade my life.

Without knowing where I am, the best directions are useless.

A shopping list of ingredients made without assessing what I have will inevitably (as all cooks know) lead to a missing key ingredient 30 minutes before the guests arrive.

A thick book of only words without the skill to understand them is just a boring, jumble of marks in a very large doorstop. (My book club’s assessment I think of my attempt to bring my love of another French authors romanticism to our reading list.)

Accepting that suffering, attachment and selfishness (mine and others) are a part of life, and then blessing and embracing them for the lessons are how I begin to be grateful, compassionate and acceptance, in and of  itself, grants me inner peace.

But Acceptance is the key that opened the closed doors.

I must first accept where I am and exactly what I have, but then once the key is in the door I must push it open…

To get to Antartica will require me to improve my physical condition, achieve financial independence, acquire the skills needed to be part of an expedition…make a plan and stick to it.

The feast begins today with assessing what I have in my home, finding a recipe and practicing my cooking.

To read all of Dumas, I must begin with a book with the books on my shelf in English, keep a list and notes as I read them, and practice my reading of french on smaller things like children’s books, pick up a few french movies again, start watching the movies I know and love with the french subtitles on, so that when I get to the tomes that are untranslated I will have developed the comprehension skills to hear his words meaning.

To live compassion and peace, I must meditate and read works that inspire this behavior, but mostly what I must do is one dirty dish at a time, one aggressive speeding vehicle endangering me, one angry bitter thought by me, one harsh word by ¬†another, one chance to consume what I don’t need, cling to something as “Mine!”, or run away from responsibility or pain; one choice at a time I must place the ethic of compassion first and embrace with gratitude what is, even when “what is” is not my mess, or worse yet is my mess. ¬†Accepting that this messy, sometimes selfish, sometimes lazy and incredibly imperfect person is who I am, and that this harsh, materialistic and power hungry culture is my home environment but not neither of these realities are necessarily where I live or who I have to be.

*refers to the book “A Wrinkle in Time* which I am currently reading to my patients and personally think everyone ¬†will love and should read aloud to someone or someone’s at least once in their life.




If Monday is for the printed page, Tuesday is all about the music…

In the heartfelt belief that EVERYONE should listen to good music, and¬†suffering¬†from enough ego to still believe that if I like it this much then it must be better than good, may I recommend Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. ¬†Their music found me thanks to the prowess of my favorite music men at Hoodlum’s Records, as has much of my current soundtrack

So I am on repeat with Isbell, ¬†also I am mad about Adele, The Black Keys and oh yea, Doris Day release a new CD in December that I also can’t stop listening too and Kotke and Mel never get old.

Go see my buddies at Hoodlums in Tempe and pick up one of each (if you don’t already own them) and make your musical life complete.

Monday is what are you reading day; so lets get going with GMECFF

Gratitude. Meditation. Exercise. Compassion. Fun.Frugality.

My six words for 2012. These will be my focus

And here are five books, one for each word, the fact they were all already mine is my focus on frugality.


A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…..okay I think it was Salt Lake City or maybe Albuquerque and the year was 1995, I started my first gratitude journal. I have always kept a journal, I am a lifetime writer after all, but this was different and in addition to the daily ramblings of life and observations. I kept it because of a book recommended by Oprah that has periodically mightily influenced my life. The book, “Simple Abundance” has coffee marks on it now and some of the passages reflect that decades have passed, but the basic principles are still pertinent, if not more pertinent today than it was 18 years ago. Like any great book or koan, each reading of Breathnach’s daily wisdom offers me something new.


“Beyond Religion, Ethics for a Whole World” Written by the Dalai Lama, this non-theistic book talks about how to live, how to meditate and why to move beyond religion. Mind you he does not, in any way, recommend¬†abandoning¬†religious practice, in fact his teachings will enhance any religious practice so for those inclined substitute “prayer” here instead of meditation. For those who are atheistic, this book will also speak to you as he teaches about secular ethics and why humanities survival will be enhanced with the practice of basic ethics. I have read this, downloaded it from audible and listened to it and am about to listen to it again. I am actually reading “The Teachings of the Buddha” in my print/paper time.


I know I have already completed my first sprint triathlon, but I am still so much a beginner that my exercise/diet book of the day is “Your First Triathlon” by Joe Friel. I have just taken it off the shelf. No comments yet…..willing to entertain any recommendations.


I just finished re-reading “Crow Planet” by Lyanda Lynn Haupt and am about to re-read “Chop Wood, Carry Water”. Crow Planet is only nominally about crows, Ms. Haupt is a reluctant fan of corvids, unlike me who adores them, but her struggle with naturalist nihilism and incipient depression is a perfect backdrop to teaching lessons in being an urban naturalist and raises the most important question of compassion repeatedly. “Is this helping or is it just about me feeling good about myself?” The book is very well written as are all her books. This book is a must read for any avian lover or fellow wordsmith, or potential urban naturalist.


A young adult book that immediately engaged me in its characters as easily as “Little Women” or “Wrinkle in Time”, ¬†I purchased “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate” by Jacqueline Kelly on the recommendation of my friends at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. This book and a blank book and amazing pencils will be my new “go to” book for any young mind and heart. “Fun” doesn’t do it justice. So I will admit that all my books right now are re-reads and all of them re-inforce in text as well as my already owning them, my value of frugality.

My mental tribute to reduce, re-use, recycle or perhaps just a statement that I have reached that age where the familiar is reassuring. I prefer to think of it as my answer to our nano bite culture and proof that to really see or understand or appreciate anything amazing, it takes time and truly more than one read.

So now, what are your focii this year, and what are you reading?

What matters is energy

Of which I have little today, energy that is, I am lazy with this brief space to breathe, redolent of leisure even. There was brief rain this morning and now it is cold grey skies outside and hot earl grey inside my kitchen, a lovely counterpoint.

2011 was a different sort of year for me with the unique losses of my canine companion of more than a decade, my baby sister, and two faire friends. I gained, among other things,  a closer relationship with my son and his wife, an amazing book club and a continuing love for my work as a nurse. 2011 was significant for its firsts: first time riding a bike, first time to actually take a swimming lesson, first triathlon completed, first loss of a child my heart claimed as family.

2012 looks to be another year of opportunity to master discipline, compassion and integrity as it starts with another first. ¬†I have begun 2012 by getting fired from a writing job. I have never been fired from a writing job. Ever. I have been a professional writer, if one counts from the first poem I was paid to publish since the 1960’s, and if from the time I could pay bills with my efforts the late 1970’s. I have completed, resigned from and of course not been given a plethora of assignments, but never have I been fired. I left writing as a career behind almost completely just as computers were making pseudonyms and privacy a thing of the past to pursue my life long dream of being a nurse.

I started missing professional writing this year about the time an opportunity presented itself at one of the local find-it-in-your-driveway free papers. I sent a writing sample, they offered, I accepted, I attempted to make them happy while still maintaining my nursing calling as priority for 3 spectacularly horrible months in my life. This week I was fired. I was both relieved and rejected. I was not comfortable enough with the format to push for byline and the paper has no masthead so my association with it was shared purely¬†anecdotal¬†and¬†ironically¬†I had already written my resignation “this isn’t a good fit and the time versus money is not appropriate for me at this time” letter, but fired?!?

Mind you, I deserved to be fired. First, this job was not so much about writing, I was officially a copy editor. I received press releases and was expected to edit them into articles. Secondly, I had not written professionally, except piece meal portions, for a bit over a decade. A lot has changed in journalism in 10 years, much of my challenge was related to using a computer to write, it does not come naturally to me.  Also, I came of age as a journalist when the goal was still to find the story and tell it in a way that people would read to the end; now the focus is more on marketing an idea or product in as few a words as possible.  I am mature, I am familiar with mimeograph and typewriters, and unfortunately preferred and therefore mastered WordPerfect when writing programs were first appearing. By the time I had to switch to Word, I had a reputation and always an editor, so my style and my editing although acceptable to past endeavors were not a good fit for the San Tan Sun. Thirdly my ability to manage details and commitments has been severely hampered by a huge and appropriate to life circumstances curtain of  sad that still periodically blurs my life windshield. In my short tenure I made some BIG mistakes.

I championed and participated in the internet in the days of the Bulletin Board system, unfortunately that has not translated into an ability to keep up with technology. I know I am a good writer, and I know that I need to once again use that skill professionally, just as I use my skills as a healer professionally. Gifts are meant to be shared. I just don’t know what that will look like as I move forward. I just know the next time I am paid for my words it will be words with which I want my legal name proudly displayed.

Its funny, I think one of the reasons I so genuinely enjoy watching “Toy Story” over and over again with my ¬†patient is that I DO identify with Buzz. I have always thought I was an Action Hero, leaping tall buildings and generally annoying people with my ego. ¬†This year I finally accepted I couldn’t really fly and have been having my Mrs. Nesbit moment and am moving forward into appreciating the value of being the universe’s plaything.

So tell me the hat looked good, I know the apron was a bit much, but tell me the hat looked good.

What’s gnu? And how I am learning to write in 200 words or less.

A gnu is a wildebeest or¬†Connochaetes and they are ungulates of the African continent. I saw a wild one once, in Kenya, an experience I will never forget and long to repeat. Not actually repeat or recreate, I am not the same person I was then,nor is Kenya. I am not pining for the past, nor am I lost dreaming of a future where I am able to adventure in exotic locales while making a positive difference in other people’s lives. ¬†But I do want to again be chased by Zebra’s and see what’s gnu. I am a modern woman, I want “new.”

Wanting something, in this case to see Africa again, and also to see Australia, New Zealand, India, and Antartica for the first time, to accumulate experience, is a form of craving therefore could be the cause of suffering according to the teachings of Buddha.(Christianity has a commandment about coveting what is not one’s own as do most other dharmas and dogmas, I’m just currently enthralled by Buddhism) Also according to Buddha, pain and suffering are an integral part of being alive. I get that, wanting what I do not have can be the source of discomfort. Discomfort is, well, uncomfortable.

Discomfort causes movement. Today in my morning meditation, that movement came at about 7 minutes. I  took a bit of meditation practice detour and can really tell, in October I could make it to 20 minutes before succumbing to repositioning, some who have trained can make the unimaginable hour(s) of stillness.

Movement of itself is not a bad thing, it just isn’t meditation. In fact moving is a wonderful thing. When I spend a designated portion of my day moving my legs to run or bike or swim my mood improves, I have less general pain, sleep better, concentrate better and generally like life more. ¬†Mental movement is necessary for learning, eye movement for reading and my fingers are moving right now to write this blog. ¬†Movement to avoid pain is a life saving reflex. Movement is the language of the body, and like words is glorious expression. ” But it comes to a little more, there where it is we do not need the movement, or the words,” to paraphrase Frost.

The New Year is the mischief in me and my challenge to myself and to anyone else listening to find there where it is we need the stillness and the silence.  Our culture is enamored with sound and movement and new and more are the drugs we use to avoid the emptiness of our inner worlds. But I can tell you, having been there myself, that the quiet empty of the inner landscape is just as vast and inspiring as the veldt and the gnu. Stillness is the necessary antithesis to movement, and silence can say volumes.

The universe has recently added a unique professional lesson in the value of brevity. ¬†Today I had to write and article about an upcoming show at The Phoenix Art Museum about one of the most amazing Green artists currently blending eco dialogue with museum quality exhibitions, one Matthew Moore (, in 200 words or less. This 200 words or less requirement is the same for any non-local art event regardless of its worth and I have been hard pressed to¬†accommodate¬†the minimalist word count, but I just did it, and well I believe. Which doesn’t actually mean it will get printed or published, because newspaper space, like human life, is limited.

And like a human life, the words written in a newspaper only make sense because of the spaces between the marks we know as letters and words.

So today I will move and speak and write, but I will also leave space and silence.

And that is what is gnu with me today.



So I am no Mr. Scalzi, Whatever…….

How many of you got the title joke? Well, at least I thought it was funny. OK, again no John Scalzi there either? Actually my lame but amusing to me humor must be more like him than even I want to admit because in more than a decade of reading him, he can almost always get a snicker or snort or tee hee out of me, his only fault is being more cat person than dog person.

So I will be back to see you all with regular posts starting tomorrow. Much to talk about as I move into 2012. My focus has been pretty internal and not being one to add to the negativity in the world I find quiet meditation to be the most helpful when fighting the clouds away….because “duhka” ¬†happens. My alarm is going off to say get dressed and make your lunch girl, its time to go to another day of work… TTFN faithful (and occasional) readers.