Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More From The Beach ...

Here are a few more photos from our vacation. This image was taken at sunrise from the deck of the house we were staying in. Each morning was more spectacular than the morning before until the second week when the clouds came rolling in. Sunset too could be spectacular over Currituck Sound.

Every moment of every day held gifts for the senses ... soft sand between my toes ... the sight of pelicans diving into the sea scooping up fish in their big bills ... the smell and taste of salt air ... flocks of ducks in vee formation heading south ... the shocking warmth of the surf on my feet and legs ... sand crabs sideling out of my way ... clouds of sanderlings running along the water's edge ... the laughter of children ... sandcastles with pine cone turrets ... kites flying high on late afternoon breezes.

A Gull Prowling The Surf Line

Bill and 4 year old Noah Watching The Sea

Zoe ( 7 years old) In Her Rose Colored Glasses

Zoe and Noah Resting On A Live Oak Tree

I could go on and on describing the pleasures of this time with my family in these peaceful surroundings. The simplicity of these moments mean so much to me as I try to navigate through this crazy world. I have nothing but gratitude for the fact that these two children are not living in the midst of war as are the children of Iraq ... they are not starving as are the children in Darfur ... they are secure and happy in their surroundings.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Coming Home Can Be So Hard To Do ....

Yes, I'm home and it was hard to leave the beach and freedom from stress and long lists of things to do. But I am glad to be back now after some adjustment time. I like my own bed better and was growing tired of sandwiches and meals that weren't to my liking most of the time. You see, we get REALLY lazy and eat out or put together whatever is easiest ... not always the best tasting or the healthiest. I'm going to change that next year. I normally love to cook and eat, but when I'm away often get out the habit.

But I still miss the peace, the sound of that gorgeous ocean pounding away on the shore, sea birds, dolphins, good books, bike rides, walks on the beach, jigsaw puzzles and time to talk.

When I got home on Saturday afternoon and went to the grocery store to get something for dinner, I was taken aback by the crowds. Some people pushed and shoved to get to the check out line. I gave up and went back on Sunday morning when most people were still sleeping. You'd think I had been away from this life for years. As I get older I seem to grow more intolerant of crowds and my own rushing about like a headless chicken.

Bill reading with Sam

While we were away we recieved 6 and 5/8ths inches of rain here at home ... a most precious gift. The garden looks great in it's autumnal scraggley state. Yesterday I dug up some tender herbs to bring indoors as our first frost was predicted. Sure enough, this morning everything was coated with frost and looked quite wintery.

We had rain at the beach, too. North Carolina is also suffering from drought. But rainy days on the ocean are always welcome. I got lots of reading done and a little bit of beading.

Molly 'n' Me As I Read

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Still away ...

No, I'm not home yet, and I'm feeling very lazy ... so no photo this time. It's been a wonderful break. My daughter, her partner and my two wonderful "grandlings" were here for one week. We had loads of fun and I especially enjoyed the giggles, the hugs and their shining faces.

Bill and I have been alone here with our dogs since last Saturday morning ... it's been a moment to moment meditation to the sound of waves crashing on the shore and the cry of gulls. I've been reading, riding my bike, doing a bit of beading and taking lots of naps. My heart is breaking for the people in California who are losing their homes due to the raging fires. I have a cousin in LA and checked in on her. She is fine and not in harms way, thank goodness, but others are not so fortunate. News from home: we had a half inch of rain last week and the garden has perked up a bit!

I am feeling extremely grateful for being able to be here enjoying the beauty around me and for a wonderful blogging community which I'm sorry to be ignoring, but I will be back early next week. After the events of the past year, I really needed this time of doing almost nothing.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Socks and other thoughts ...

After our October heat wave, when temps were in the 90's, for Pete's sake, finally the cool down. It isn't supposed to reach 70 degrees today and that's fine with me. I'm ready for sweaters and socks! I love to wear socks and the crazier the better! I love having happy feet! I have several more pairs of these cotton wonders in different color schemes. In case you can't tell, I love color!!

The leaves are beginning turn orange and yellow here and it's lovely. Although I love the fall colors and the sunshine, I really wouldn't mind a gray week of nothing but rain so that the ground would get wet and my sad garden would be happy again, knowing that it will make it through the winter. The last measurable rain we had was on September 14th with a total of one-half inch of rain for that month. So far no precipitation has fallen in October.

On Saturday my husband and I, plus Sam and Molly our dogs, will load up the car and head to the Outer Banks for a bit. Every October we rent a house just outside of Duck, North Carolina where we spend the first days with our daughter, her partner and our best-in-the-whole-wide-world grandkids. Then my sweetie and I have the remaining days to ourselves, to read, meditate to the sound of the surf and walk along the shore with our pups who don't like the water, but love to find and eat smelly, dead things that the tide has left behind.

October is peaceful and quiet on the Banks. There are few people about except on the weekends when, if the weather is good, they do show up, but not in the numbers that summer brings. Alot of the shops are closed or getting ready to close, except for one of my favorite bookstores. The best restaurants are still serving delicious coastal treats. And I really don't mind if it rains while we're there. It's the best weather for jigsaw puzzles, mugs of hot tea and little beading projects that I bring along with me.

The cats will hold down the fort here with a good friend who loves to stay at our house when we are away. I hope to be doing some posting on this blog if I can. I've been having some problems lately with blogger.com uploading photos. For instance I can't figure out how that white stripe at the bottom of the photo got there. It is NOT in the photo. So, my posts may be minus photos, though I'll do my best.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Nobel Peace Prize

The Coast of Greenland, © Joan Z. Rough, 2007

Former Vice-President Al Gore, and Inuit activist, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, are co-nominees for this years Nobel Peace Prize, to be announced in Oslo, this coming Friday morning, October 12th. Everyone knows of Gore's books and film, An Inconvenient Truth, but few south of the Canadian border seem to be aware of Sheila Watt-Cloutier's work and that she is Gore's co-nominee.

Until this morning while slogging my way through my morning work out, I was one of the ignorant. As I do most mornings, I was listening to BBC World News which comes through on one of our local NPR radio stations. The report concentrated on the record breaking ice melt in the Canadian Arctic this summer, equaling in area the size of the United Kingdom multiplied 10 times. There was brief mention of Watt-Cloutier's nomination along with Gore for the Prize, along with a statement by her, concerning the fate of the Inuit people living "at the top of the world."

The report quite startling to me, because of the image in my head of the size of the ice melt, became more so since when I went to BBC World News on the net, to read the print version of the story, Watt-Cloutier's name and comment were not included. Tonight, on one of the network news programs, Gore was hailed as being a nominee, but there was no mention of his co-nominee and her work, which began in the 1990's when she became a key political player in the Canadian Arctic, speaking for the rights of the Inuit people. I can't help but wonder why she was not mentioned, as her work, though not as widely known as Gore's, is every bit as compelling.

In 2002, Watt-Cloutier was elected international chairwomen of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, representing 155,00 Inuit who live in Canada, Greenland, Russia and Alaska. In 2005, when reports of thinning ice and eroding coastlines came to the forefront, she initiated the first international legal action on climate change, charging the United States of violating the rights of Inuit people by refusing to reduce its polution of the atmosphere causing global warming and endangering the Inuit culture. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, with whom she and 62 Inuit elders and hunters filed the petition, declined to consider the petition until she was nominated along with Gore, for the Nobel Peace Prize. In March of this year, she was granted a brief hearing by the Commission, but they would not consider the entire petition. Go here, to hear a brief clip from her speech to the commission.

In addition to the honors above, Watt-Cloutier has been recognized for her work with awards from the World Asssociation of Non-Governmental Organizations, and the United Nations, the Sophie Prize in Norway and the Order of Canada, the highest honor the Canadian government can bestow.

A resident of Iqaluit on Baffin Island, Watt-Cloutier, has seen the effects of climate change and globalization. She was raised traditionally, on the ice and never traveled by anything other than dogsled until she was ten years old, when she was sent away to boarding school. She says "As Inuit, we have the highest suicide rate in North America, especially for our young men. And we have lots of addiction and social problems that we are trying to grapple with. I have a grandson who's nine and who's growing up here in the middle of all this. I want him to keep hunting, because the hunting culture is not well understood or is misunderstood. It is a really powerful training ground for our young people." She adds "Ultimately you learn to be wise about all kinds of choices, not only on the land. These are transferable skills that one would need, especially, in a transitioning culture such as ours. I know that many answers and solutions lie in the power of this wonderful resilient culture we have."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Pain and Suffering

October Sunflower II, © Joan Z. Rough, 2007

"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional."
Susun S. Weed
Wise Woman Herbal, Healing Wise

What wise words, these, and ones most of us need to remember on a daily basis. Too often I find myself tied in knots over some indignation ... 0ur planet on fire with war and climate change, the lack of rain, my dying garden over which I have slaved, a snide remark by a friend or the pain of a long forgotten memory, now suddenly come to the forefront. Those chafing, stinging knots, of course, are caused by none other than myself.

It can be difficult to let go of the headlines, the craziness of this world and enjoy the peacefulness of an autumn evening like this one ... crickets trilling ... deer feeding in the meadow below the house ... a gentle breeze stroking my skin as I sit by an open window writing these words.

I do have a choice though ... the glass half empty or full bit ... the letting go that can allow me to reclaim my life and go forward embracing whatever I find before me. Personal growth doesn't happen as I am relaxing, enjoying a mint julep on the veranda ... it happens in the dark of night when the shadows are dense and hovering too close.

For tonight I choose to let go, live in the moment and sing the praises of the universe. The shadows may retreat and my dreams will be colorful and happy. Life may still be painful, but my glass of wine will be full.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Time To Get Back To Work ...

A corner of my studio

This is my studio. I haven't spent much time in this wonderful space in a good long time. Six years ago my mother came to live with us. She was not well and though she was in her own apartment, elsewhere in the house, her presence made it difficult to spend uninterrupted time being the artist I had been for many years. So gradually my time creating art diminished and during the past few years came to a halt. Though I would occassionally start something new I never finished anything. As a result many projects hang on the walls or are tucked away in boxes and bins for a time when I might feel inspired to begin again.

Since my mom passed away in May, I've been slowly pulling the threads of my life back together into some kind of recognizable shape. I think it's just beginning to blossom. Maybe it's just a tiny flower right now, but the desire to paint, to play with beads and to write poems is unfolding and I 'm finding time to look at half done pieces that I'd like to complete. And those little sparks of light, like tiny fire crackers are beginnning to go off in my head as new ideas begin to surface.

Above is the beginning of a series of small painting of the animals in my life. This is a portrait of Lilliput, not quite finished. Next I'll start on Peppermint and Miss Cleo. Then there are the dogs, Sam and Molly! Should be fun!!

This is a half finished beaded pumpkin, part of a series of small vegetables and fruit that will someday be called "Eve's Garden." Below are a few of the finished pieces, a tiny pumpkin, a gourd and an apple.

At the moment I'm working on putting the garden to bed for the winter and still going through some of my mother's belongings. I'm also beginning my studies of medicinal herbs. But creativity is knocking! I find the best way to keep the door from slamming shut when I try to open it, is to announce to the world I'm going back to work. I may not answer the phone or get out as much as I have been. I might not even write alot of posts for this blog. I'm being called by the muse, and she rarely takes no for an answer.