return to the sky

Yep. I’m once again taking a seat in a chair in the sky.

Yesterday morning, as I was enjoying my cappuccino on the deck, I noticed many plant deck residents seemed to be pointing skyward.

While the sky pointers were not necessary for my purchasing an airline ticket for travel today, I did have a sense of confirmation when I enjoyed the uplifting – pun intended – chorus.

This is just my second flight since the pandemic hit. I don’t expect the experience to be significantly different. Well, except for the aircraft configuration. I essentially am on a puddle hopper, as my flight is somewhere around 1 1/2 hours. No cubicle for me.

Is it wishful thinking to want to see the flowers point to the sky? There’s a lot of wishful thinking these days. Oh how I yearn to be back to full-time travel. Perhaps that’s why it’s easy for me to see my plants pointing the way.

Travel will return for me and others I am certain. The uncertainty is when.

As I traversed my way through the airport this morning, there are reminders of how I travel even before I get to my gate.

And then there are sights that delight.

I’ll soon be on my way to Houston.

One thing about travel in this pandemic time is figuring out how to navigate entering another’s safe shelter. To date I have both entered a safe space, and had my safe space entered. It’s another piece of travel, navigating in and then out.

Traveling mercies.

essential service

When state leaders began to open up states or cities, hair salons were one of the first type of business deemed essential, giving them permission to open. This was surprising to me. Really, a hair cut was essential in the middle of a pandemic? Could a hair cut be accomplished safely?

For me, the answer was no.

So I let my hair grow and grow. And grow some more. After five months since my last haircut, it became a heavy load. Literally.

I had made some appointments to get my hair cut, but then I would cancel out of caution.

A few weeks ago I decided to fly to Seattle to visit my Seattle family. I would be here on my birthday. An idea began to take shape. What about a birthday haircut? All four family members – my son, my daughter-in-law, granddaughter and grandson – could all participate. I will say, there were varying degrees of enthusiasm. And a sense of are skill trepidation.

But I was all in, believing any hair style that came out of this would be perfect.

I ordered hair styling shears to be sent to Seattle. Katie, my daughter-in-law, began to study hair cut techniques on YouTube.

Yesterday everything came together. As this haircut was to take place outdoors, it was important the day be a good weather day. It was a perfect day for a haircut.

And so it came to pass, my long locks would be trimmed.

All set? YES!

Trim and style time.

Ta da! Happy birthday to me!

I highly recommend this backyard salon experience. They provide an essential service like no other for visiting Nanas.

return to the sky

In my most recent blog, I wrote: “Okay, I’m nourished, now where’s the nearest airport? I’m in need of that chair seat in the sky!”.

Well, here I go.

This day I will take my seat in the chair in the sky and soar to the the great Northwest. It’s been almost five months since I last had a flight. This is way too long!

Looks I’m headed to Seattle.

This is a good sign. I believe it is a happy a Friday.

Well, I’m here. Oh boy. What waits ahead?

I’ll let the air-travel-during-a-pandemic images speak for themselves.

The emptiness is what gets my attention. Well, all the masks as well.

Now seated in my chair in the sky. Check this out. It’s called a “suite”. It can be made into a bed. It comes with a 3-point seatbelt. I found it constricting so I found a way to remove the 3rd point. Piloted by a chick captain, I’m feeling a bit spunky-ish.

I’m offered an extraordinary variety of in-flight entertainment.

The very best entertainment is gazing out the window at the awesomeness of God’s creation.

Something that is on my heart this day is my oldest son. He’s a captain with Southwest Airlines. I know the extraordinary downturn of the airline industry weighs heavy on his heart. I felt it especially this morning as I took the plane train to the C terminal for Starbucks. C terminal is half the size it once was. While inside the airport is empty, so too, are the gates and runways.

I don’t know where this pandemic is headed for us. Right now what I do know is that I have taken a leap of faith and am now soaring at 38,000 feet on the way to my Seattle family.

Traveling mercies.

the measure of my days

Sitting out on my deck this morning, I began to think about my day. It feels eerily similar to yesterday. And to the day before yesterday. And the day before…

Well, you get it.

The phrase “measure of my days” came to mind. That had a familiar ring to it, and I thought I recalled a book with that title. I found the Kindle version of this 1968 book, and had a sample delivered. I thought I might find a reflection of how I measure my days.

Written by Florida Scott-Maxwell, it begins “We who are old know that age is more than a disability. It is an intense and varied experience, almost beyond our capacity at times, but something to be carried high. If it is a long defeat it is also a victory, meaningful for the initiates of time, if not for those who have come less far”.

Clearly not a reflection of my days! After all, I am oldering, not old! I’m one of those “who have come less far”. Still, Scott-Maxwell is correct when she says “It (old-ering) is an intense and varied experience…”. Well, yes, it is that – and more. Perhaps her words will lead to further examination, but not in this blog.

While that remembered phrase did not lead down a Google path to a good fit for an examination of my days, it does serve as an anchor for this blog.

What then, is the measure of my days during this pandemic?

As a place to begin, my days are first measured by how long I spend sitting on my deck each morning.

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My soul is quieted in this place. I’m often there until noon. It’s true! Aside from a weekly appointment, I don’t necessarily have to be anywhere.

Just about all my tasks can be done from home through technology. Zoom meetings. Website design and upkeep. Communications. Shopping. Making donations to groups who serve the least among us, especially in this time of extraordinary need. And more.

I have settled into a time of sitting.

The best sitting is the morning deck sit.

Coffee.

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Reading

Listening

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Pondering

Conversing

Eventually I move from the deck to the porch to sit. Not just sit, rather, ride.

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A stationary bike I ordered some months ago finally arrived. All this deck sitting means I best be seated, and riding, or my legs might fall out from under me. That’s an old saying, the origin of which I can’t find, but it certainly fits my circumstances. The bike has a custom designed iPhone holder so I can listen to favorite podcasts. Thanks, Evan.

I also sit on the porch for the weekly St. James lectionary study.

What does all this time of sitting mean? In this time of pandemic, it feels like a giant pause in our lives. In my life. Kind of  forced sitting it out.

A season of rest, work, exercise, study all while seated. Being still, healing and engaging with the world while seated. Conversations because there is time to sit and talk.

If I’d not had this time of imposed seating, would I have been as well rested and nourished?

A friend and I spoke last week, and ended our conversation with something like, “we don’t want to come out of this having wasted time”. My reaction at first was I better get-to-getting so I haven’t wasted time.

After considering the measure of my days, this does not feel like time wasted.

Okay, I’m nourished, now where’s the nearest airport? I’m in need of that chair seat in the sky!

chairs

I don’t get around much these days because healthcare professionals recommend venturing out only for essential services. When I do venture out for these kinds of services, I see images like these:

Either no seating, or carefully spaced-out seating.

The message is clear. Move along. Keep your distance.

These distancing images have a profound impact. No words are necessary. It’s not safe here. Not safe at Starbucks? At the doctor’s office? Sadly, no.

I even have socially-distant seating on my deck for the infrequent visitor.

One chair I’d like to sit in again is that of my hair stylist. I have considered this a non-essential service, until today. Seeing a side view of my silver locks in the mirror this morning, I came close to becoming my own hair stylist!

The chair I am most longing to sit in, is a chair in the sky. I’ve been seated in a chair on the ground for four months! I understand some of the chairs in the sky have been removed so as to provide for social distancing at 40,000′. Well, I would hope so. We’re doing it down here, best we do it up there.

Chairs are generally utilitarian in nature. Yet in this time of pandemic, chairs serve to remind us we are not safe, and that we should be cautious. A danger we can’t see may be nearby. Perhaps our psyches might be better served if we view stacked and roped off seating as both a sign of danger and of protection.

I’ve been away from blogging for a while now, mostly because I blog when I travel. It’s been many months without travel. Since beginning this blog 24 hours ago, I’ve booked myself a ticket for air travel, and tomorrow I intend to book an appointment for a hair cut!

While my intentions are genuine, it may be I’ll find I’m not quite ready for these unfamiliar chairs. Stay tuned.

travel thwarted

I was supposed to depart today on a long anticipated trip. I’ll say right up front. I am not the only one whose travel plans have been disrupted, canceled. Far from it.

A year ago I got hurt in a car accident. Hurt badly. The travel today was originally set for a couple of months after my accident. That trip had to be canceled as my injuries were too significant to allow for travel.

Today was to be the rescheduled trip from last August.

I’m supposed to be on my way to the Faroe Islands, connecting through Iceland. Both countries have closed their borders, so even if I found a way to leave the United States, I could not travel to Iceland or the Faroe Islands.

Still…I wanted to try….

The trip will be rescheduled once again, but when it will be cannot be known this night.

As I was watering the pots of plants on my deck today, I was stopped in my tracks. There, just under the large foliage of one of my Icelandic Angelica plants were blooms! I have waited three years for this plant to bloom. And there it was, this day, the day I was to be on my way to Iceland and on to the Faroe Islands.

Do I believe in signs? Not necessarily, but I do believe if I keep my eyes open to my surroundings, an image might be presented to me that gives me both solace and hope. It felt like I was to discover my Angelica producing blooms just as I was mourning my trip lost.

So where to find comfort and how to see hope? The first place I thought to look is scripture

In 2 Corinthians 4:18 we hear, “…because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”

Today I am so disappointed. Yes, it is temporary. And what I cannot see, I believe will be revealed.

I’m left with the need to trust and to rest in the Lord, for God will offer me profound peace this night.

Traveling, not traveling mercies.

hope

I’m anxious. I’m worried. I’m concerned.

How could any of us not be?

My best coping skills at the moment are to swallow hard, avoid thinking, and pray. Let’s say that again. Pray. Swallow hard. Avoid thinking.

What I do think about, though, is that it is Spring. A season of rebirth and renewal. And HOPE.

In what I see no more than 30 feet from my front door, are springthings that give me hope.

A bee foraging on a lilac bloom. Make that a ginormous bee foraging….

Hope of food shared for new birth.

A black trillium. For a number of years this trillium has been solitary in its faithfulness. This year there are two. A lovely surprise.

Hope of increase in due time.

A Buckeye sapling. This was planted as a buckeye nut, gathered on a fall walk at Vogel State Park a dozen years ago. It was at the base of the largest Buckeye tree in Georgia. There is hope it will one day bloom and produce a buckeye nut. That’s a Leland Cypress in the distance. It was a 5-gallon plant about 10 years ago.

Hope of living long enough to harvest.

A Ginko tree leafing out. It was an extra that friends offered if I wanted it. Of course I did! Though it prefers sun, I could only offer it sun abundance in Spring. It was just a foot high; now look at it.

Hope of overcoming an unfamiliar living location to flourish.

The Cherry tree. It was purchased in the early years of this place. It now stands 10-12 feet, with arms dressed in pink.

Hope of putting down roots for the future.

And fifteen herb plants which UPS delivered a day ago. They await planting as they acclimate to their new climate.

Hope of nourishment to come from a small beginning.

I didn’t make them wait very long! While planting, a line in May Sarton’s poem Gestalt at Sixty, immediately came to mind: “I worked out my anguish in a garden.”

Hope that anguish can be stilled by placing hands in a garden.

Late last night as Í was in the bathroom brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed, I heard just outside the window “hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo, hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo“. I was charmed, needless to say.

Hope to be charmed, again and again.

place of lilacs in our memories

I chatted with my brother yesterday. The conversation originated because of a post I had made on Instagram that morning. My post was of a lilac bloom near my front door which is just becoming a full bloom.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

My brother, sister, and I grew up with lilacs. In our front yard were three large lilac bushes, which kind of grew bunched together in a circle. It was wonderful as kids to slip inside the shrubs to play. We were covered in lilac petals and perfume.

I’ve loved lilacs ever since. Lilac memories connect me to my growing-up home. And oh, they connect me to so much more.

To the woods of Downeast Maine to seek out a hidden cluster of lilac trees. I brought back a lovely bunch of branches for the dinner table. Fresh-caught lobster, cooked down in the woods in freshly gathered seawater was the fare that night…

to a day many years ago when my brother sent me fresh picked lilacs from his lilac bush in Santa Fe. He had wrapped them in wet paper and sent them overnight to my office…

to lilacs awaiting me in my room on trips to visit each of my sons…

to an etching my sister gifted me some years ago…

to glee upon finding lilacs on trips with my very best friend.

In Butterfly Weeds, Laura Miller writes, A faint smell of lilac filled the air. There was always lilac in this part of town. Where there were grandmothers, there was always lilac.  My grandmother smelled of lilac.

Mary Oliver writes, “Every day I see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light.That is exactly how I felt when I walked outside this day and pressed my nose into a lilac bloom for a long drag of lilac perfume.

Seeing my lilac budding and blooming out gives me hope in this topsy-turvy, frightening time in our lives. I’m calmed, a bit.

These days I feel safest when I’m outdoors. It feels like deep breaths are gulps of fresh air. So, too, are lilac memories.

arrested

So we got arrested today. Not literally but it kind of felt like it.

We arrived at Crystal Bridges Art Museum at 10am. While it actually was to open at 11am today, we we’re nonetheless welcomed as if it was open.

We proceeded through several galleries, aware that many groups of children were gathered alongside art pieces.

When we pushed open the doors to the Early American Art gallery, we were stopped by museum security persons and questioned. “What are you doing here?” “How did you get in?”

Then,”come with me”.

We asked if we could just sit in the galleries and wait until 11 o’clock. “No. Come with me.”

Questioning continued by a higher-up security guard. We explained how we had been welcomed as we entered, and again by guest services.

Questioning grew intense, as personnel tried to figure out how we gained entrance. “We walked in.”

Walkie-talkies went off. Other security personnel came to question.

We repeatedly told how we entered and how we had been welcomed by a number of museum employees.

Eventually we were sent outside to sit in the woods until the 11 o’clock opening.

I write this because much of the art we experienced addresses the plight of refugees seeking a better life and opportunity by entering America.

By no means did I experience what these seekers have, but I was most assuredly uncomfortable being escorted by a security guard and questioned about my presence.

So what must it feel like to be on the margins hoping to be welcomed?

I can go outside and sit on a bench for a few minutes, then return to be welcomed back in, unlike those who may never receive a welcome.

unraveling

Walking the many galleries within Crystal Bridges Art Museum, I’ve been struck by the variety of ways artists express their feelings, make commentaries, speak out.

Art displayed here is by contemporary American artists. There’s no limit to how these creative minds express themselves through art.

It’s joyous and jolting.

A piece that caused me to linger is titled Unraveling, by Ursula von Rydingsvard. The medium used is cedar and graphite, not something generally associated with unraveling.

I admit that at times in the past ten months I’ve felt like I was unraveling.

Today we attended a drop-in art making session. Led by artist Edra Soto, we used her medium – glass bottles – to create. We used modeling clay, epoxy and a glue gun to make art. After creating shapes using the clay, we affixed them to a bottle. I chose to make free-form shapes to create my version of Unraveling.

I anticipate I’ll have a solo show in the near feature with my solo piece.