Re-membering

Last night I spent about three hours gathered around a picnic table (Which is also known as the dining/art table at our house!) sharing food and wine and stories with a dear friend.

A friend who has been out making some new stories recently, having to do with shiny jewelry and some interesting travels. A subject, I might add, she and I will be returning to later!

You will be delighted to hear that the beasties were excellent hosts and laid quietly under the table hoping, no doubt, that if we were going to drop things on the floor they’d be paper-thin slices of copa, or even tiny leaves of endive stuffed with tuna, as opposed to, well, roasted brussels sprouts.

We re-membered ourselves through several knee surgeries and a couple of romantic break-ups and a passel of dogs and way too many episodes involving dry needles on her part and four-letter words on mine.

It felt, rather surprisingly, like summer camp.

Perhaps it was the picnic table. Or the weather. Or the moon.

Then there’s the fact that I’ve been on a bit of a camp nostalgia tour lately.

You see, long before I was the chair of the camp committee or the camp nurse, I was a camper. And a counselor in training and a counselor and program staff.

And, as I’ve mentioned, it was always my job to remember all the words to all the songs from one summer to the next.

Today, I remembered some more words. You see, I went to camp in the 1970’s. And some of the songs we sang came from the Broadway musical, Jesus Christ, Superstar. (Which turns out to be a bit more complicated than I expected, as well.)

Oddly, I am, in this moment, in the midst of painting projects having to do with both Mary Magdalene and the Holy Mother or, in a more inclusive sense, Bella Mama.

I got more than a bit behind today. It had to do with the technical challenges of live streaming and the need for a nap after last night’s lovely dinner.

Honestly, I’m not quite sure yet where all of this is headed. And I’m way okay with that. I do know that painting the elements of creation dripped (literally) with stories of camp and with more than a few tears, which we add to the paint.

The camp I grew up in had a very ecological orientation. It was also strongly oriented in what we might call the archetype of the Divine Feminine, though I had no notion of those words in those days.

I had no idea then that when we picked the trash and the odd pickle out of the dust pan on our turn to sweep the dining hall, so that we could return the earth to the earth, we weren’t simply being neat.

We were, in a very real sense, becoming people who would, one day, vote.

When we sat under the full moon, filtered through the branches of ancient long leaf pine and turkey oak trees, and called circles around the fire, we were doing as women had done from the beginning of time and calling it good.

While, at the risk of being redundant, becoming people who would, one day, vote.

And some of us, at least, have undoubtedly become grandmothers, making marks on canvas saying, “I am here,” and teaching our grandchildren that they are here, too, in the midst of a world that needs us all.

So many things to re-member.

A word which, in Hebrew, also means to re-mind.

Which is, when you think about it, not a bad day’s work.

Even if I am a bit behind on the actual paint thing.

 

Freddy is Fine! (Again!)

You know how every family has its own peculiar language?

Every tribe?

Every profession?

The vocabularies are different. Words that are meant to be verbs inexplicably become nouns. And vice-versa.

Try proof reading a techy resume if you’re not sure where this is heading.

Scrubby brush takes on a communal meaning you didn’t know you didn’t know until you did.

Then there’s the secret code for labeling the bone broth in the freezer.

I’ve had one of those experiences over the last 48 hours or so.

First, a story.

I spent many summers as the Camp Nurse.

It’s an interesting job. Everything from helping a young woman who is breaking your budget because she has a severe case of cramps, and is going through a bottle of children’s Tylenol liquid a day, and doesn’t believe she can swallow a pill, to coating a kid head to toe in Calamine lotion so he can spend one extra day working up the courage to take the swim test… it’s an adventure.

For the uninitiated, M&M’s are the way to go for kids who “can’t” swallow a pill.

And, in case you wondered, you leave the bar-b-que fork in the kid’s leg on the way to the ER instead of pulling it out somewhere in the middle of a national forest with no 911 service.

But, all of that aside, here’s the first thing you need to know, just in case you ever want to be  a camp nurse. Or a school nurse. Or perhaps even a grandmother.

The first words out of your mouth, when you have to call a parent, are, “Freddy is fine!”

Then you ask which ER they prefer for a CT scan. Or whether Freddy has a history of broken bones.

Let me say, again, Freddy is fine.

I, however, am exhausted in the post stress crisis sort of way.

Flashbacks are definitely involved.

Last September, when lots of us were on the pilgrimage road with the Black Madonna, many of you prayed along with me for a critically ill friend in the midst of hurricane Irma and I am grateful, still.

Last night, my nice new cell phone had what another friend of mine would refer to as a come apart.

Everything beeping and ringing at once.

My friend, it seemed, was being taken, alone, by ambulance to an unspecified hospital somewhere in the northeast part of Georgia with symptoms frighteningly similar to her adventure last year.

Let me say it again. Freddy is fine.

Her “tribe” went into action. We found her. I did, as is part of my designated role, the phone calls to the moms. Three generations of women scattered around Georgia and Florida, making it better.

The miracle-working neurosurgeon from last fall was located, much to his amazement. And hugely helpful. (I’ve had some practice!)

I began to feel better when I got the text pic of her in the ER with her own clothes on. Things are a bit more critical when they start cutting them off with bandage scissors.

And even better, still, when I talked to her while she was on her way home last night. My friend. The same one I’ve known forever.

She slept a lot today.

I did, too. And had weird dreams. And ate potato chips. (Non-GMO in avocado oil!)

My loss box is rumbling again.

I’m behind on everything. (At least the things my Intentional Creativity sisters believe in being behind on!)

I need to paint but all I want to do are prayer dots. So, one of my work-in-progress canvases (the one known as Apothecary) is getting a new coat of black gesso. Then come the dots. Dip. Dots. Pray. Repeat.

For today, last year’s prayer dots.

Freddy is fine. (And has a follow-up appointment scheduled!)

Freddy’s tribe of beloveds are fine, too. If a tiny bit worse for the wear.

Blessed be.

 

 

 

I can see the big E!

So, I got new glasses.

Lenses, for sure. I had reached the  point where I had to take the old ones off to read my cell phone or a vitamin bottle. And, I couldn’t read street signs unless I already knew what they said.

Frames, as well.

Close cousins of the former frames.

I’ve worn glasses since I was 10 years old and these are only the second pair I’ve ever actually liked.

They need a tiny fit adjustment. And I’m not quite sure just yet where the floor is, but that’s predictable.

I had an interesting conversation at the optician’s office today while they were making some adjustments.

There was a woman there trying to pick out frames. (Which is difficult if you can’t see without glasses!)

I’d guess she was about 10 years older than I am.

While I played with my new phone, she was debating between two choices.

Her primary question turned out to be whether the ones she liked best were “too much” because they had some color in the tortoise-shell design of the frames.

After a while, she asked me if I’d mind offering an opinion.

I began by admitting that I’m an artist and might be a bit biased. (I didn’t mention the whole therapy thing!)

Then I got my Specs Appeal buddies to bring out my new glasses, which they were working on in the back room, so I could show them to her.

Her response was an emphatic, “Wow!”

And mine was a suggestion that she might pick the ones that made her feel that way.

Then she wondered if I would actually wear my new glasses to church.

Trying not to laugh, and pondering what possible problem God might have with my being able to see and liking my glasses, I assured her that I would.

Which might lead us to wonder what kind of unnecessary knots we tie ourselves in…

After a bit more chatting, my glasses were ready and she was choosing the ones she liked best.

I’m still not quite sure where the floor is but I’m typing this with my glasses on, which is something of a miracle. And, I can see The West Wing about 10 feet away!

We’ve been talking about vision a lot lately in my painting classes.

It’s amazing enough in a metaphorical sense.

It’s even better in the real world where I can read the street signs again.

And where I can encourage a sister in the journey to choose what works for her.

It was a good day!

 

 

 

 

 

Magic Wands

Over the years, I’ve developed quite a collection of magic wands.

The sparkly, beaded one found me in a tiny shop in Black Mountain, NC somewhere around the year 2000. It’s been a handy teaching metaphor for counseling clients through the years though, sadly, it didn’t come with an owner’s manual.

Then there’s the paintbrush which, as it turns out, is quite a bit more useful for making magic than the pretty, moon shaped one.

And then there’s our third magic wand for today.

You guessed it! It is, in fact, a meat thermometer of the old-fashioned, non-digital, actually working sort. Perfectly designed for telling when my fabulous roast chicken is crispy and juicy and exactly done.

Bill and I made two of those chickens on Sunday which, around here, is step one of the magic known as bone broth.

Actually, it might be step two. Step one happens on local farms where my sustainable farmer friends raise chickens like, well, chickens which follow us home from Pine Street Market.

IMG_3380

Anyway, the carcasses of those chickens, along with some miscellaneous turkey bones from the freezer, and a whole bunch of onions, garlic, and herbs, disappear into an enormous vat of water and appear, about 16 hours later, as a nourishing, healing elixir of comfort. (Which leaves lots of time for art!!!)

 

Several of you have asked, recently, for the roast chicken recipe. I’m delighted to oblige!

Click here! 

Fix. Enjoy. Freeze the bones. The broth recipe will be along shortly.

It really is magic. (Especially for breakfast!)

For more soup magic, check out my book:  Let’s Boil Bones… Grammy’s guide to bone broth and other yummy things!

 

 

 

Grammy does math class!

I spent a big chunk of today at the phone store. Not, just between us, my idea of fun but nothing has blown up yet so we’re claiming a win on that.

I spent much of the week thinking about math.

This, if you’d known me for 40 or 50 years, would be something of a surprise.

We moved around a lot when I was a kid and it seemed like every state we lived in had a different “new math” system. I was pretty confused.

The guidance counselors told my mom that, by the time I got to middle school, it would start to make more sense.

Not so much.

My math teacher in 7th grade was a nice guy who had long yellow finger nails, reeked of smoke, and responded, “Figure it out,” to just about every question.

In 8th grade, I took algebra I, ahead of schedule.

In 9th grade, I took it again. My teacher was the freshman football coach and the sponsor of the chess team. You guessed it! We drew football plays on the chalk board and played chess.

My 10th grade geometry teacher was a retired military pilot. We told war stories and made paper airplanes. I survived by drawing very neat proofs.

In 11th grade, something bizarre happened. My teacher wanted to do math! Sadly, she responded to every question with chapter and verse version from the Algebra one text, seemingly not realizing that I’d spent that year on football plays and chess.

By some major miracle, I survived enough Calculus and Statistics to wind up with a whole lot of alphabet soup after my name.

And, mostly, math in my day-to-day world has meant recipes and fabric yardage for quilts and the proper ratios for raw dog food.

All that changed this week!

Frankly, I’m not entirely sure whether what I was learning was math or science, wonders of the world or philosophy.

It did have numbers.

This week I learned the Fibonacci sequence!

And, suddenly, I’m a fan of math.

The cosmic pattern for nautilus shells and star galaxies and sunflowers and fiddlehead ferns and a whole lot of ancient buildings that are still standing, the photo above is my first attempt at a Fibonacci spiral.

I am, surprisingly, moved by this ancient wonder.

I am moved by the sensation of making the swirls over and over.

I am thrilled by my painting, rudimentary though it may be.

And covered over as it already is.

Some things just wonder me.

Here’s the best part…

The Fibonacci sequence has to do with building things on a secure base, be they buildings, or family relationships, or social structures.

We North Americans didn’t do so well with that when we built a world that essentially ignored the important base of the indigenous peoples who lived here already.

I’d even go so far as to say that we’re not doing such a good job of building on a solid base in these days.

I’m clinging, though, to the possibility that there’s still time to learn. To start again with the ancient truths of harmony and relationship.

So be it. Amen.

 

 

Help from all manner of sources…

Dearest friends,

The last few days have been a bit of a blur.

A welcome, if unexpected, visit from my sister who found herself stranded in the Atlanta airport with all her worldly goods on the way to Louisiana while she was trying to get to Indiana. (A story which I suspect will get funnier over time!)

This on top of a visit to the eye doctor to get my glasses prescription tuned up a bit. The new glasses are indeed in the works. And the need for another appointment as, in this moment, it seems likely that I have glaucoma in my left eye.

Between calendar issues and insurance issues, this is a development that’s eating up more time than I have!

Progress on some fronts.

Backsliding on others.

More than the usual amount of free-floating anxiety about some not-quite-resolved shifting career issues in our family and the sudden realization of how much I, who have never considered myself a very visual person, really value my vision.

Both the intuitive, alchemical kind and the eyesight kind!

Help has appeared from all manner of sources.

Dinner out at The Corner Pub which is our little version of Cheers! where everybody does know our names. They’re also graciously willing to accommodate my tendency to revise their menu! (If you’re in the neighborhood, the new roasted broccoli is fabulous.) And they do the dishes.

The presence of Red Thread sisters in my life who are “hugging and tugging” for me even now.

The stack of what Bill refers to as my “thumb-sucking books” which, in this case, has me back in the midst of the magnificent UNTIE THE STRONG WOMAN  by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. (Which is, in my experience, sustenance for pretty much everything.)

And some new input in my process.

As I mentioned recently, I’ve become part of a Facebook group created to help send rosaries to refugees on the US/Mexican border and, as the group has evolved, to praying novenas for the families living through the tragedy of separation and for drastic changes in US immigration policies.

Now, before I go on, let me say two pretty important things.

Prayer beads were decidedly not a part of my education in a Presbyterian seminary. I learned lots of wondrous and useful things there. Rosaries were not among them. “Always being Reformed” was, however, among them and this is me, doing that.

And, you are welcome and valued here, whatever faith tradition/s you may identify with, even if that’s none at all. Whatever our varied beliefs and chosen myths, whatever our metaphors and practices, we’re all really just trying to help move the world closer to a place of kindness and justice. A place of fierce compassion. (Well, most of us!)

So, with all that rumbling in my head, and with thanks to lots of teachers along the way, the Anglican Rosary pictured above appeared in my mailbox on Saturday. Amazon, eBay, and Etsy are all sources for similar items.

Then came the issue of what to do with it. There are lots of suggestions and directions out there if you google something like Praying the Rosary.

All of that, combined with Dr. Estes’ Prayer for Traveling the Mother Road, in UNTIE THE STRONG WOMAN, brought “my” version of words to pray in bringing my beads to life.

IMG_3300

If it fits for you, I’m thrilled to share. (And you can share this post as well, even if getting it here was a major tech-y challenge for me!)

If it inspires you, in any way that feels true… to pray, meditate, help your kids and grandkids learn, work, vote, or whatever you do, toward that place of kindness and justice, I’m honored.

And if you need more information, just click on any of the pretty colored links, above, for some good starts. Or, reply below, message me on Facebook… Sue Boardman Author, email me, etc. and I’ll come as close as I’m able to shining some light.

For now, I hear a big canvas and a lot of orange paint calling my name. There’s a lot of hope in that, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[https://www.facebook.com/groups/2143874129190005/] Rosary group

What’s In Front?

There’s a writer named Natalie Goldberg who does marvelous books to help other writers along the road.

One of her most straightforward bits of advice is to write what’s in front of your face.

Here’s a glimpse of what that looked like in my world, today.

Amongst the mountains of frozen dog food to be sorted and stashed, along with about three days worth to be packed for a brief trip to Camp, there were boxes of the stuff that prevents heart worms to wrangle out of an online source, the usual door opening and water bowl filling routine, and, of course, treats, hugs, and brushing. Lots of brushing!

And, there are still dog directions to write for Camp, which I suspect is not quite what Natalie had in mind, but on the list nonetheless.

I’ve done the Don Quixote thing, tilting at windmills with UPS over a package that, shall we say, disappeared somewhere into the big brown kingdom, apparently never to be heard from again.

And was grateful to the folks who shipped it in the first place for shipping another, today. Fingers crossed.

My Muse painting, who appears first, below, and now hangs in our bedroom where she is in charge of dreams, did her job with enthusiasm last night, sending me a dream that involved standing in front of a room full of people I went to high school with (Blessedly NOT naked!) and telling them why I keep showing up here, and at the canvas, doing what I do.

It’s the one of those five people thing we’ve talked about before. (Click here, if you’d like a reminder.)

My alchemical consciousness has been high-fiving me most of the day!

Then there are blessed friends who’ve listened to me think out loud while I sort through .jpg after .jpg of images, all hoping for jobs in the changing landscape which is about to happen around here, on Facebook, and in my pocket where the new business cards from moo.com will live.

Here are a couple of sneak peeks:

IMG_3673

IMG_3706

There’s crab shell broth warming on the stove.

And paintings-in-progress figuratively leaping up and down, wanting play time, while brushes wait to be washed, eyeing me with one brow raised as I pass by their Mason jars of water.

Perhaps most of all, though, there are the two notes I re-discovered today, scratched in purple ink in my dog-eared copy of Ms. Goldberg’s The True Secret Of Writing.

The first appears on page 106 of the edition I have. It’s beside a list of entry line options provided to get folks from stuck to — you know — writing. My addition to the list:

The first thing I want my grandchild(ren) to know about me is…

You’re welcome to play with it! Grandkids you already know and love. The kind that are on the way, even now. The ones you long for someday. Or the honorary ones in border detention camps or trapped in caves or hungry pretty much anywhere.

And then another one, almost un-noticed, on the very last page of the book, under the note about the author:

Imagine you are seated in the lap of a Fiercely Compassionate Grandmother. Yours, the one you needed, the archetypal one, or even the one you are on the way to being. She asks, “What are you becoming?” and listens with love and attention to your most true answer. Then she whispers, “I will help you.”

I’d love to hear what comes to mind.

The most important thing, though, is that you know!

(To leave a response here, just click on the big picture of what the crab broth became, at the top of this post, then scroll way down, pausing a moment at the blog subscription box if you’d like, until you find the place for comments.)

 

 

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher