Tag Archives: Abandonment

Marooned Trucks

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Pickup Truck - New Mexico

One of my favorite personalities of New Mexico is desolation.

 

I tingle at its tableaux, especially pickup trucks parked randomly – slantwise on farm roads overgrown with buffalo grass. Parked on dust ravaged, ghostly earth. Earth that crawls continually toward the gaunt hills of a frontier desert, across a basin bottom that fillets before them, across those boundless flounder-flat plains.

 

This is also a portrait of my heart, I realize – a montage of rusty and hollowing. A still life of my red-clay heart sinking into fields of somber silt. Left behind by the thoughtlessness of time.

What attracts me to inertia is its potential. The power, love and wisdom that can flow through once the current is turned on.

I love the stillness of potential:

The hour just before dawn

The heart just before it loves

The marooned truck just before its engine ignites

The moments after death before the soul transitions

It’s all so scintillating.

Prairie Schooner Cartoonery by jayni

I look at my heart like a crazy cartoon outlined in black and I color it with ridiculously intense colors, trying to resuscitate it. Inflate it. Give it a second birth. Just as I do with marooned trucks that I adopt roadside.

 

Sometimes my heart feels like a sordid red satin curtsying cowgirl at the close of the fair. Waiting for her night shift to end. For night to run away, chased on its heels by dawn’s bloody fingertips.

 

I both fear and crave abandonment. I’m afraid of being totally unloved, yet, I want the world to leave me alone – to cast me into a field of decaying carnival rides. I want the corpse of the barker to kiss me goodnight on the boardwalk at midnight.

I’m a Jersey girl by birth, and, that birthmark can erupt like a wounded tattoo and go bankrupt without warning. I need my hood-love sometimes to tether my bilingual life to a knot in sea-beaten, sun-bleached wood.

 

It’s a moment after twilight and I’m angry.

The anger is born from me not knowing how to operate the instrument panel of my vehicle. The owner’s manual burned when my father died and no one has edited a new reference book.

 

I sense that if I have the keys and can read the dials and shift the gears, that I can save myself. That I can drive my forlorn prairie schooner out of the desert’s talcum powder dust, and into the merger of life’s crossroads.

 

In the quest for meaning, I know that many walks, or drives, through the lion’s den are required.

 

But right now, I’m still angry. Or, I’m angrier still because my dearest friend died last autumn. The last of the true friends.

 

Now I only face faux friends who charge me an exchange rate for likes and favorites and follows and comments and hashtags and stats that exceed the galaxy.

 

I hate bartering for friendship, for love.

 

I hate haggling in the brothel of Wall Street relationships, waiting for the bell to ring; waiting for the net to connect; waiting for inane conversation to begin only to bring shine to the ego of another and shadow to the heart of my vacant vehicle – dying little by little.

 

Yeah. I’ve been on the road all my life . . . out there running just to be on the run.

 

I need a little off-roading time for quiet, detailed contemplation.

 

I need to bury my burdens like a velveteen rabbit and learn to drive my own vehicle of soul back to the original destination from which I departed eons ago.

 

I’m just a traveling soul stripped of her colors. Trying to paint over my anger and reupholster my spirit. And rejoin my tribe.  Pickup Truck - Rusted Trio

 

The Grind

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Mocha Muse has its very own newspaper, The Grind. It may contain a quote, a poem, song lyrics, snippets of overheard conversation or fascinating facts about creativity/life. So, leather sofa in Home Interiorsnuggle into the sofa, unfold the paper and reach for your morning cup of coffee.

Here’s the twelfth issue. . . just click on newspaper to enlarge, then continue to click until text is readable for you!

The Grind - (6-22-2015) Ode to Dad on Father's Day

Many thanks to Ron Sickler for sharing the opening quote in this week’s The Grind. The moment I read his words, I knew that they echoed the ghost of my father.

To read more of Ron’s witty quips and quotes, check out his book, Out of My Mind, From My Heart & Off My Chest!

And in case you’re unfamiliar with Icebox or Zebra Cake, here’s a little sample to tempt your taste buds:  Icebox Cake

It was a staple in my mom’s summer dessert repertoire. Perfect for those hot, humid “dog days” of East Coast summer!

There’s even a Mocha Chocolate version of the original Icebox Cake. It’s far more decadent .  .  . perhaps best served as a winter dessert, accompanied by hot espresso or mulled wine.

Java Jolt – Chock Full O’ Memories

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Java Jolt - An Out-of-Tune Life

The first family tragedy that chiseled my character occurred when I was four years old.

The two grandmothers were recruited to assist. One lived locally in New Jersey; the other hopped aboard the Silver Meteor train up from Florida.

They collided at my childhood home, debating how best to care for me while my parents were virtually absent.

Toot, my maternal grandmother, won the match. She became my primary caretaker: walking me to Parkway Elementary on the first day of kindergarten, all the while teaching me to love bird notes and read tree leaves.

She instilled a love for the feel of yarn sliding through my finger-furrows, for doing needlepoint and embroidery. She taught me to cherish books in an active way: to read, to rummage the dictionary for meanings, to write words into sentences of expression.

Professionally, she was a junior high school English teacher turned science teacher, so, academics and children’s minds were electrically connected for her. She was, therefore, the perfect mentor for a lonely little girl who felt confused and abandoned.

Toot coaxed to life so many passions that live within me even today. For this, I’ll love her always.

One dream that we shared, though, neither one of us found a way to achieve.

We each wanted to sing.

We each failed miserably at matching vocal cord to musical note.

We each lived outside the precision of the musical staff. We lived, somehow, according to our own mathematical graph of pitch with respect to time and tempo. Although, I believe to this day that Toot was quietly convinced that she sang on key:

 

An Out-of-Tune Life

 

I hear Toot’s singing voice in my memory. The one she used in church. In the safety of a large congregation of Presbytery. The wavering silk thread of a soprano quivering like uncertain hands pulling the silk from the worm’s cocoon in the bend of a mulberry tree.

I allow myself to imagine an ideal of existence in which words and song might alter the course the events. Out of such moments, springs hope.

I hear a remote doxology:

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye Heavenly Host:

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

 

This short hymn. An expression of praise to God was of some value to Toot, and, what I extracted from these moments of interchange was of value for myself.

The church we attended was old and cold and settled in its ways of worship. It had the scent of a funeral rite, but, I felt more connected to my grandmother than to God or church.

I loved to recite the Lord’s Prayer; to chant the response after the Reverend offered the call to sing the doxology.

My faith was somehow built into an ancestry that spoke during those rituals.

I don’t know what to make of my early childhood religious experiences, but, they were not wrapped in a denomination or contained within a building or held captive in the words of a book.

They followed a person. A woman. A blood elder.

Portrait of Toot as a Young Woman

Portrait of Toot as a Young Woman

I may say that, for me, God was first found inside the upright spine and the vibrating strings plucked from an out-of-tune voice that ached to be celebrated as beautiful.

This set my own wavering voice free. Along with my questioning mind and seeking heart.

I was safe inside that out-of-tune life. And may be forevermore.

Small Towns, Ghost Towns and Abandonment

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Main street in american townI have long loved small towns, even though, or, perhaps because, I grew up in cities and metropolitan regions.

There is something very nurturing to me about life in a small town. It’s gentler and calmer. And even when small towns lose their people, I love their remnants. A ghost town or a partially-abandoned village coaxes out my maternal instincts. I find myself wanting to adopt them, love them, color them with many shades of grace. Nelson Ghost town

So after my divorce nine years ago, it was perfectly appropriate that I move to a tiny village in the middle of miles and miles of New Mexican prairie. And since the town was abandoned in sections, I felt at-one with it because I’d also been abandoned by love.

For three+ years I lived in The Resting Place, as translated from Spanish, and rebuilt a house, my soul, and my creativity.

In honor of this sacred time of my life, and, primarily in homage to the very special and solitary barn owl who adopted me, I’ve written a short story.

Barn Owl

    A FEATHERED MIRACLE

I’ve been conflicted about barn owls for quite a while.

Why barn owls? Well, they’re beautiful, stealthy, mysterious creatures that allure me. But, one killed my newborn kitten, China Blue, years ago in the backwoods of Virginia. And that left me queasy.

I’ve since changed my heart dramatically.

Let’s fast forward three decades. The year is 2007. I’m suddenly and traumatically divorced. I’m living out on the high plains of New Mexico in a tiny village. I’m hiding out for a spell; for recovery. I’m hiding primarily from men. Because I’m wounded, I want the warmth of women around me. I swear I’ll never date or marry another man. I want only friendship with men – and that’s friendship with no benefits.

During the first year of cloistering, I spent much time rebuilding a house and remodeling my soul. Prayer and meditation and journaling were daily ablutions. I was living in self-imposed isolation and beginning to feel like a saint in a shanty, or, perhaps, a monk minus a monastery. Whenever reclusiveness transformed into desolation, I’d go out for a walk. Commune with nature. Breathe deeply that sacred air of open space.

On one of my wanderings, I walked down the gravel driveway, following the scalloped edges of decorative bricks that outlined a row of Siberian elm trees. When I wasn’t staring at air, I often gazed at the ground. The dirt, as fine as talcum powder, fascinated me. The botanical beauty that survived despite such lean resources awed me. So, in this frame of mind, I was watching my feet crunch grey gravel, when, abruptly, I almost stepped on a large, oval-shaped, tobacco-colored ball. At quick glance, it could have been dog dung; on second inspection, I noticed the smooth, dry coating. Cigar-like in texture.

With a stick, I poked and prodded until the shell fractured and revealed a huddle of tiny bones – even a skull – all the size and shape of a mouse. That’s when I thought: Raptor. So, I looked directly upward, through the elevator shaft of leafy branches, right in the top “V,” and met a pair of eyes staring at me from the soft beauty of an apple-shaped face.

Oscar, Well Camouflaged in His V, with Eyes Shining a Transcendent White Gaze.

Oscar, Well Camouflaged in His V, with Eyes Shining a Transcendent White Gaze.

Oh my goodness, it was a barn owl, perched just ten feet from my house.

Was it a temporary visitation or a permanent resident, I wondered. Having raised a variety of birds in my life, I knew instinctively it was a male, and it felt strangely protective. Almost as though he’d arrived by divine decree.

I inspected the ground each morning for a week, found a daily cluster of “bone-balls,” as I called them, and made contact with staring eyes from above. By this time, I knew he was a permanent installation. I also knew he had a name. We locked eyes and I uttered “Oscar.” He telescoped his head slightly farther forward, in approval or recognition it seemed. We connected.

I had wanted no male interruption, but, Oscar was stunningly gorgeous and calm and faithful. He hunted every night and I inspected his catch every morning. By the quality and quantity of his bounty, I knew he was a great hunter. And he was also solitary. So many other owls around town were coupled, but Oscar wanted to be alone in the “V” of this one particular tree, so he could triangulate me.

Potentially eerie, but, his steadfast presence brought such nobility and peace to my life that I relaxed. I accepted him as a holy gift and a mentor. When my heart was especially troubled, I’d stand at the base of the tree and talk with him. I’d ask him to share his wisdom and guidance. He did so faithfully. After every “conversation,” I’d feel an inner tingling; a quiet little voice that whispered an answer.

This amazing relationship continued to grow. Some of my neighbors noticed me talking to a tree and stopped by to inquire. I’d then introduce Oscar, and, invariably, they’d smile and a new conversation would begin. I actually came to meet humans and develop friendships. Gradually, I loosened my grasp on reclusion. I even had men come and work on my property. Oscar scrutinized each one with grave caution. It was a silent battle of testosterone, and I was intrigued by his perceptiveness. The more macho the man, the more distressed Oscar became.

I knew I could trust Oscar’s instincts, so, when I dared myself to enter the dating game, I carefully watched for his assessments.

One man, who parked his truck and camper in my driveway, received a hailstorm of bone-balls on his vehicles. After two dates, Lee and I decided that friendship was our best option for connection. Oscar ceased pelting.

In 2009, I began dating a man who was brawny and manly, yet very sensitive. A strong balance of male and female energy. Oscar nearly lost his balance trying to stretch out far enough to examine Ron. I could tell Oscar was more interested in this man than any male who’d set foot on my property for any purpose. I asked Ron to step over to the tree and meet my feathered friend. He did so with delight, and Oscar was so serene and sweet toward him. He reacted with gentleness every time Ron came by, and they developed a little bromance.

By October 2009, Ron and I had decided to marry. I had to sell my darling cottage, and I was heartbroken to say goodbye to Oscar. I explained the whole situation, gave him directions to our new home, and asked him to join us after the honeymoon. He listened with deep compassion every day, until I finally had to pack my trousseau, and head to Las Vegas for the wedding.

By this time, I felt my bond with Oscar to be unwavering. I was convinced he’d wait for my return and travel the 30 miles to the new house. I picked out a tall aspen tree in the front courtyard that I thought he’d love. It was right next to the house, and surrounded by fifteen acres of hunting ground. He listened intently, seeming to memorize the flight pattern.

Ron and I returned ten days later from our honeymoon, and my heart sank when I scanned the baring tree and was met only with Oscar’s absence. No fresh bone-balls were at the tree’s base. I watched and searched for weeks, but, he never reappeared. Once settled in the new place, I called him from my heart. But our aspen grove remained owl-less.

Trying to Summon Oscar by Practicing Yoga in the V of a Tree

Trying to Summon Oscar by Practicing Yoga in the V of a Tree

To this day, the mystery of Oscar haunts me with a sweet sadness. I miss his perpetual presence, but, I accept that he fulfilled his divine mission. He coaxed me forth from solitude, and back into the world of dynamic interactions, happiness, and spiritual growth.

He will always be my coach, my confidante, my wisdom-guide, and my messianic miracle.