Poetry

Saying in Focus: It’s Never to Late to Learn

 

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Once more I must apologize for falling behind in posting to my blog. I had envisioned my retirement as a nice, leisurely time of life, maybe even having too much time on my hands, but that hasn’t been the case.

I have been able to slow down the progression of my pd  (parkinson’s disease) by keeping abreast of the latest developments and guidance from doctors and physical therapists and implementing them in my daily life.  Exercise of all kinds seems to be one of the most helpful tools, but it does take up time. Recently,  I happened on a website called http://www.invigoratept.com founded by Sarah King, a physical therapist. There is a wealth of information about exercise and nutrition on this site and I have joined Sarah in her challenge to exercise daily, for at least 2.5 hour a week. Today we begin week 3 of the 4 week challenge. She is also doing a series of live videos through her Invigorate Physical Therapy and Wellness Facebook page about nutrition and how what we eat affects pd. I’ve found her links to You Tube video sites of exercises developed specifically for pwp (people with parkinson’s) most helpful.

But physical exercise is only part of the picture. The brain must be exercised as well. My husband, Bill, and son, Steve, and I are into crossword puzzles and word games on our electronic devices, which help me slow down the ‘loss of words’ associated with pd.

I had never mastered Algebra in high school, so I purchased a book entitled “No Fear Algebra”and can actually say it is beginning to make some sense to me. Working out simple equations is like solving a puzzle.

I have always wanted to be able to draw, but was always too intimidated to take a class with other people. But I recently received one of the Great Courses videos – a gift from my husband – on “How to Draw”. This is perfect for me because I can pause the video as often as needed and I don’t have to rush or try to keep up with others. So far I have learned much about line and shape, aggregate shape, volume, figure-ground and positive – negative shape. There are thirty-six lectures with accompanying  lessons so it may be years before I finish.

Finally, throw in my interest in photography, poetry (see previous post for my latest) and reading, and that’s where the time goes. In a sense, having pd has determined the way my retirement will unfold, but if one has to combat a disease, why not learn a little something during the process? After all, it’s never too late to learn.

Staying in Focus: We the people

 

We the People

the malaise spreads, as the shadows descend

to bring an end to all we believe in,

our lady now weeps for those who would seek

the light of her torch in the dark of the night,

we are fast losing hold of the dream we were told

of liberty and justice for all,

 for anger divides as much as a wall –

and united we no longer stand;

the land of the free must rally once more

from mountains to desert, from shore to far shore,

and erase all the lines that are blue or red –

We the people can color them purple instead,

if we embrace compromise and compassion

we can begin to heal our nation

 and strive once more for our ideals,

if not, soon, we will rue the day

when we let the dream slip away.

pc2017

Staying in Focus:Re-springing Your Step/Mountain Weekend

Daily Prompt: Tell us about the last experience you had that left you feeling fresh, energized, and rejuvenated. What was it that had such a positive effect on you?

 

The last experience I had that left me feeling relaxed and rejuvenated occurred last summer, when my husband and I and our friends, Kathi and Don, spent a weekend at the Cabins of Willow Winds in Asheville, NC.IMG_3539

Although last summer was not exceedingly hot or humid at home, the weather the weekend we were in Asheville was absolutely wonderful. We were worried because the forecast was for rain, but all we had was a brief shower one afternoon. It was in the evening that we really noticed the difference. The cabin had floor to ceiling windows, which we cranked open, and the most delightful breeze of cool mountain air flowed in, carrying with it the sounds of nocturnal creatures, insects and frogs and the like. Those sounds brought back memories of the summers of my childhood spent in a cabin near a lake. There, I would be lulled to sleep by the nighttime chorus of frogs and katydids.

We took a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, climbed up to the visitor center atop Mount MitchelIMG_3526l and ate lunch at the restaurant there, the wall of windows providing a spectacular view.IMG_3527IMG_3478 IMG_3481 IMG_3388 - Copy - Copy IMG_3392 IMG_3426 IMG_3435 IMG_3437 - Copy IMG_3448 IMG_3456 IMG_3471

We went on a ghost tour, and walked through the botanical gardens. IMG_3542Kathi and Don tried their hand at fishing in a pond on the premises of the cabin and we made our dinners in the cabin. Last year was an especially tense one with family illnesses and other stresses, but those three days in Asheville stand out as a small oasis of relaxation and rejuvenation.IMG_3600 There’s something about mountains that have always had that effect on IMG_3586me.

Blue Ridge

the mountains gather round me

endless folds of smoky blue

and the sun ignites the crystal drops

of early morning dew

wisps of misty water vapor

wreathe a distant mountain peak

and I feel a deep connection

with the spirit that I seek

in the mountains, in the places

of the wild and the free

are the answers to the problems

that quite often trouble me

so I come for grace and comfort

and I come for sweet release

my spirit seeks the mountains

here I find my inner peace

-pc 97

Mountains

When the pressures of life build to a peak

Some people find solace in shorelines and sea

But it’s often the higher ground that I seek

For it’s always been mountains for me

When I stand on a ridge at the top of the world

From worry and care I am free

I sing in the sun with my spirit unfurled

It will always be mountains for me!

-pc’03

 

Staying in Focus: Happy Birthday, Gavin!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY GRANDSON GAVIN!

 

Six years ago this precious little person joined our family. He is one of the sweetest little boys the world has ever known. His smile lights up my life, his laugh tickles my ears, and his hug chases away the blues like nothing else can. I cannot believe he is six years old already – Happy Birthday, Little Man! We love you!

When I was One,

I had just begun.

When I was Two,

I was nearly new.

When I was Three,

I was hardly Me.

When I was Four,

I was not much more.

When I was Five,

I was just alive.

But now I m Six, I’m as clever as clever.

So I think I’ll be six now, forever and ever.

– A.A. Milne

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Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: Autumn Blues: A Bittersweet Transition

Daily Prompt:

As a kid, were you happy or anxious about going back to school? Now that you’re older, how has your attitude toward the end of the summer evolved?

A Bittersweet Transition

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Ah, the end of summer. Always a bittersweet time for me as a child.  Until I was in my teens we spent our summers in a cabin near a lake.  It was the mid  1950s to the  early 1960’s, and those were our halcyon days.

On sunny days we went fishing, swimming and hiking. We took walks in the early evening to the clubhouse to watch movies, play bingo and buy penny candy. On rainy days we would color and draw, or lay on the cots on the porch and read the day away. I read everything from the Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, to the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, and the Hardy Boys (the last two compliments of my cousin, Ricky).IMG_3809

We kids, which included me, my sister, Mary Lou, my brother, Steven , and cousins, Ricky and Susan, and our moms stayed at the lake all summer and the dads would come up for their 2 week vacations and every weekend.

Toward the end of August we would make a trip home, to pick up our uniforms, buy our black and white saddle shoes and our school supplies. As much as I loved the easy pace of summer, the warm days, time to just lay in a hammock and rock back and forth, catch fireflies in the evening, and toast marshmallows in the outside fireplace, something inside me would awaken as we walked past aisles full of pencils, erasers, crayons, pencil cases, lunch boxes, and the icon of my school supplies, the black and white composition books. I still have my first three composition books from kindergarten.IMG_3806

To me they epitomize how I felt at the start of a new school year. The  new composition book is fresh and clean, ready and waiting for the school year to begin. On the first day of school, I, too, will be fresh and clean, my black and white saddle shoes shined and my uniform crisp and tidy.  These images spell new beginnings to me, a whole new year of learning and growing, a fresh start, a chance to get off on the right foot and fill that composition book with perfect penmanship.

But not to worry. We would return to the lake for a few precious weeks, which included the celebration of Regatta Days and the Labor Day weekend. Days filled with games, competition and barbeques.  Although at home my uniform hung ready, my books and supplies packed, all I needed was a little more time, time for swimming and fishing and rocking in the hammock, sweet and slow.

Bittersweet, those last precious days of summer, as they marked the end of one thing and heralded the start of another. I miss that transition now, but perhaps I can recapture the feeling with these:

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(I don’t have a pair of black and white saddle shoes, but guess what? I looked on the internet and they are now designed by Ralph Lauren and sold at Nordstrom’s!) Anyway, back to the black and white composition book. It sits there ready and waiting for me to make that first entry, forge a new beginning, and write….the first lines of a new poem…

September

A month of fresh starts… a new school year… new pencil cases and clean lunch boxes…the smell of chalk …the polished sheen on my new black and white saddle shoes…and the blank pages of a composition book beckoning me to record the endless possibilities that lie ahead with the precise point of a newly sharpened pencil…(more to come)

Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: New Dawn

Daily Prompt: How often do you get to (or have to) be awake for sunrise? Tell us about what happened the last time you were up so early (or late…).

Sunrise Revisited

Those who have followed my blogs for a while now, know how much I love to photograph sunrises and sunsets. This may be a bit repetitive, but it was fun putting all the best in one blog. My photos often inspire my poetry. The first sunset photo was taken of the harbor at Wrightsville Beach with an old style 35mm Canon Rebel G camera back in 1998:

Harbor Sunset

liquid drops of sunlight sparkle in the bay,

and reflect a sky awash in sunset hue,

Harbor Sunset

Harbor Sunset

the trees along the shoreline form a silhouette in gray,

and the clouds amass in shades of dusky blue.

suspended for a moment between darkness and the day,

I pause to fill my senses and renew,

and with deep appreciation I continue on my way

as the sunset in the harbor fades from view.

My next favorite encounter with the sun over water was while on a cruise off the coast of Alaska. I just happened to awaken about 4AM, and saw the faintest light peeking out behind the curtain. I stood there and watched as the sun slowly cleared the sky of the dark shadows of night and let spill in the colors of  a magnificent sunrise. Later that day, the sunset was more the play of light upon the water and not color that captures the eye. These were taken with my digital Canon Rebel xsi.  This experience inspired the following Haiku poem:

Sunrise , Sunset at Sea (Haiku)

we watch the sun rise
light vanquishes the darkness                                 IMG_8448 IMG_8592
and color returns

the calm sea reflects
ribbons of orange and pink
we stand mesmerized

as the sun rises
it paints a path of gold light
for us to follow

as the sun lowers
bands of dark purple and blue
bruise the evening sky

rays of pale sunlight
reach out across the water
the sun bids farewell

we watch the sun set
the shades of night seep in
the sky veiled in gray

the calm sea darkens
a weary sun now at rest
color fades to black

 

 

Last summer I took this photo off the coast of Scotland:

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The rays of sunlight  spilled  from the clouds like rain:

 

on a sea of inspiration

cruising round the British Isles

with sailboats as companions

tacking toward the setting sun…

and in coves,  ships find safe harbor

as the captains in their  cabins

dream of voyages  to come…

the sun bids clouds to gather

as rays of gold rain gently down

and  illuminate the sea;  for a

a sunset over Scotland forms

a memory not forgotten

easily.

-pc 2013

Finally, one needn’t be at sea to enjoy a summer sunset. A s the Fourth of July was winding down, my  mother looked out the window and saw this lovely sunset. I took these photos off my back porch:

 

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My favorite chair in my favorite room looks out at the sun rising over the neighboring houses. Until my husband retired, I was up

before dawn and able to catch the sun rising more often . Now I fall back asleep in between my first meds of the day at 6:00 AM and the next bunch at 7:30AM.But each sunrise is so special, heralding the gifts it brings light, warmth, life, and another beautiful day to enjoy, we should not miss it or take it for granted.  As Ke, says to Tuck, in my book, Escape from Mount Sanctuary, upon seeing the sun for the first time, “In all my imaginings, Tuck, never could I have envisioned a world of such glory.” “For certain, Ke, it is a world beyond imaginings.” The awe in his voice matched mine. We stood together then, hand in hand, on the precipice of our new wold. We were spellbound by the beauty before us, and humbled by a grand design we could not even begin to understand.*

If I had not been up early to catch the sunrise after a  rare southern snowfall, I would have missed taking this sunrise photo, my most unusual yet. My garden globe was situated perfectly to catch the sunrise after the storm.

As the characters in my book learn during their journey, we inhabit a beautiful planet, one t hat welcomes the day with the rising sun, and it calls us to rest as it sets.

To read more of Escape from Mount Sanctuary, it is available in print and Kindle editions at:

http://www.amazon.com/Escape-Mount-Sanctuary-Imagine-discover/dp/1499353707/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409335777&sr=1-1&keywords=escape+from+mount+sanctuary

Staying in Focus on Flowers , Lunch and Friendship

Can you think of anything more pleasant and stress relieving than having lunch with two gal pals on a sunny May afternoon, surrounded by plants like these? We had  a wonderful lunch, bowls of chilled gazpacho  filled with crisp vegetables, salad filled pita bread, fruit tossed in tasty yogurt. We talked of flowers and planting, writing books and summer plan . We celebrated new relationships, recovery from breast cancer, publishing  a book, thankful to be together, to have friends to share the triumphs and the heartaches, and to be out to lunch with each other on a day in May like this:

Sing a song of spring

in colors nature renders

dew-kissed by the morning mists

petals soft and tender…

my heart sings on days like this

sings a song of spring

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Staying in Focus: The Merry Month of May

I was away last week when the merry month of May began and so I am a bit late with my May poem and photographs. May is my favorite spring month. We celebrate Mother’s Day, and my mom and I have our birthdays this month. 61 years ago on May 16th, I was her birthday present.  On May 20th, she will be 91. We are blessed to still have her with us after her experiences last year, but the therapy the doctors are using seems to be holding the cancer in her lung from spreading as recent medical tests showed everything stable. She is looking forward to the year ahead. as her 18th great grandchild was born on May 2nd.

In May, the lilacs bloom in New Jersey. My grandma would give me a big bunch of them for my birthday.  Here in the south, the leaves on the trees are still a bright spring green, and people are planting colorful annuals in gardens and around their landscape bushes, at the entrance to subdivisions, in pots and planters on decks and porches and patios. Some adventuresome houseplants move to the porch for a breath of fresh air. May is a month when life flourishes and the focus of our days is on being outside – walking and jogging, playing ball, swimming in pools and lakes and in the salt water of the sea. Barbecue grills fire up, picnics are planned, and boats of all sizes and shapes emerge from under their canvas blankets to return to the water for a day of fishing, sailing or cruising. May is, indeed,  a merry month!

MAY

Mothers and flowers and birds on the wing,

the sun warms the earth, the earth starts to sing

of sunny mornings kissed with droplets of dew,

while fluffy white clouds drift in skies of deep blue…                          Continue reading

We are back from vacation and I took a few more reflection photos of Echo Lake in Pennsylvania. I have three seasons of photos now – we have not been there in winter yet. Every time I think I have photographed this lake from every angle, it presents me with something new to focus on.

Spring:

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Summer:

 

 

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Fall:

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Reflections on Photography

 

Some people reflect for relaxation

and some of them seek revelation

I find both in  the many reflections

I see through my camera’s view;

sharp and focused, crystal clear

my camera captures visions;

through the lens I take  a peek

and find the answers that I seek;

photography is my door to

achieving revelation through

the relaxation that it brings to me.

 

Staying In Focus: Eyes on Spring

A visit to the ophthalmologist today prompted the thoughts for these poems. With my eyes dilated and peeking out from behind my sunglasses, the colors of the green leaves unfurling on every bush and tree was a delight to see, especially with my eyes wide open.

I love perennials. Plant them once and every year they come back to surprise me. No one tells them when to start blooming – the instructions are coded in the tiny seeds we sow. Would that we could sow other seeds – of kindness, of appreciation, of consideration and love  and have them perennially bloom within us. Now that would be a sight to see!

 

Keep Your Eyes Open

a visit to the ophthalmologist

always an eye-opening experience

especially in early spring,

my eyes wide open to the view

of yellow and mossy and deep evergreen                                                                                                        IMG_3023

and every shade there is in between

blue green needles adorn the tall pines

and yellow green bushes arranged in a line

remind me to keep my eyes open to see

the beauty of nature surrounding me

the promise of life’s renewal each spring

and the joy and delight this season can bring!

 

 

 

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Perennially

We sow seeds carefully each spring

and look for the delights they bring

perennials will bloom again

a precious visit from a friend

If only we could sow the seeds

of kindness , love and understanding

appreciation, concern and care,

into people everywhere,

what a change this world would see –

and be renewed  –  perennially!

 

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