I awaken at 2 a.m.—a frequent occurance in my life. When I could not fall back to sleep quickly, my mind stumbled on the roasted vegetables. I served roasted cauliflower soup at my first open studio day, and it was gobbled down quickly. I came home and roasted another head of cauliflower, then found some florettesof broccoli and put those in a separate pan. I had to get up, make the soup.
I made the cauliflower and broccoli soups separately. I loved the cauliflower, but wasn’t as sure of the broccoli. Soups complete, I headed back to bed for another four hours of sleep. I got up in the morning, gathered together what I wanted to take the studio. I grabbed the pan I thought held the cauliflower soup, then went back to find the other pot of soup. It was not in the refrigerator, nor was it in the car. I figured it would show up!
When I got to my studio I saw that the soup which I had was the broccoli one. Cauliflower was missing! I called my neighbor ands asked her to comb through my house, looking for the missing cauliflower soup. She could not find it!
Fortunately the cauliflower and broccoli combine beautifully, and nobody else misses the cauliflower soup. I have absolutely no recognition of where that soup went. The problem of nocturnal cooking.
I left my house at eight and headed out to Reitz Ranch. I had not been out for several days because I was so involved in preparations for the studio tour. The workspace was locked, but I knew back ways to get in. I spent quite awhile admiring the pottery displayed out there for their studio tour, then headed home.
One particular cottonwood, right on the road, speaks to me season after season, her branches forming a wonderful head resembling curly hair. The sun caught her uppermost golden boughs. She wriggled in the wind, enchanting me once again.
Then I drove on to where the yellow cottonwoods and the black slag piles sang to one another in the rising sun. And the Verde River! She shimmered with reflections from the trees, the golden grasses, the achingly blue sky overhead.
The beauty of the Verde Valley overwhelmed me. I was brought to tears.
As I continued back to my studio the radio blared with the news of the shooting at the Orthodox Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Even on a gorgeous fall day in Arizona, nasty headlines from outside can invade. According to headlines I found, this occurred during a bris, the ritual circumcision for babies on their eighth day after birth. I still cannot fathom the sharp divide between the faith and joy of the worshipping Jews, and the hate this shooter must hold within him. For the second time in minutes, I was moved to tears.
A blog as September ends. A perfect morning. The kind we suffered all summer for, knowing the cooling breezes of fall will again mix with achingly blue skies, birds will sing, and Arizona will feel like paradise. I sit behind my favorite caboose, savoring a waffle and chai tea. The magic of Clarkdale pervades.
My mind falls on the many friends who have slipped away in the past few years, friends who gave me so much. There was Rim Rock Granny, Patty. She befriended me when I felt unworthy of friends, shared her magical eye for photography. We paired up on a couple of magical calendars, tried to make framed photos with her image, my words. There was Naomi. She had to move from here, but we continued to connect over our love of the Torah, and the magic of Spirit. Truly a holy woman. Judie left earlier this year. She was my rock for times when my health challenges felt too difficult for only one person. She was my voice of moderation and love when I started to slip off on my rational base. So deeply connected to God, she wrote daily letters to Him, and got answers. There was Helen. Helen who knew green so deeply her garden glowed, and her imagination created fairy houses and stick trolls out of scraps she found lying around. Camp Helen my dogs loved! Most recently, Isabelle passed on. Another magical photographer, she brought beauty to my webpage, and friendship into my life.
Death is a part of life, and as I grow older I know I will encounter it even more frequently. What to do? Clearly, for me, mourning, in traditional forms, has no place. Tears are hard for me to come by, and do not do that much. But I revel in memories. So often, when I see a sunset I remember the sunsets Patty and I shared. And I am reminded I am still here. I feel responsible for registering that beauty for not only me, but for Patty as well. When I begin to fly off the handle, I call in the quiet rationality of Judie. I ask her to speak for me, to guide my thoughts until I can retake control. And then, when I am ready, I take over the controls.
I have new pieces I would have asked Isabelle to photograph. I look at them, plan how they will pose, and affirm they will grace my website soon. That is what Isabelle dictates!
I believe I pick up parts of others’ souls. I take this as a holy responsibility. I have been granted a wonderful life, more time to live, to enjoy than many. I feel so privileged.
I also believe I can play a part as a role model. I have so many friends who, as they age, face many infirmities. Fibromyalgia. Migraine headaches. Digestive problems. Depression. I have fallen into all these pits, many others as well. And I have been so fortunate to have found a way out. I want to show others the hope I have found. the resolve to put one foot in front of the other…
I was working on this at Violette’s as Tom walked up. I have known Tom since the days when I crafted the Cottonwood Library Parking Lot book, five years ago. A crusty Italian businessman from New York, he shared his experiences in building a New York kind of business, surviving the New York streets, in that writing group.
Since that time he faced macular degeneration. He has now gone essentially blind. I watched as his illness progressed. I heard him as he expressed concerns about what it would mean to be blind, what he would lose. He gained tremendous help from the Veterans’ Administration.
Now Tom is a positive man who makes his way around Cottonwood and Clarkdale on public transportation. He goes everywhere. And he brings his positive attitude with him, his total zest for life. We talked about this zest, about the way we both get up from bed, one day after the next, and find ways to enjoy every one of them. We agreed there are moments of doldrums, but there are so many more times for excitement.
Tom has promised to “headline” a forum at my studio after mid to late January where we can share these uplifting attitudes with others. Stay tuned. And, in the meantime, I love the fall in Cottonwood!
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"