Monday, September 27, 2010

Twilight is a time for sharing -

Twilight is a time for sharing - and a time for
remembering - sharing the fragrance of the 
cooling earth - the shadows of the gathering 
dusk - 

Here our two worlds meet and pass - the
frantic sounds of man grow dimmer as the light
recedes - the unhurried rhythm of the other 
world swells in volume as the darkness 
deepens -

It is not strange that discord has
no place in this great symphony of sound - 
it is not strange that a sense
of peace descends upon all living things - 
it is not strange that
memories burn more brightly - as the things of 
substance lose their line and form in the softness 
of the dark - 

Twilight is a time for sharing - and a 
time for remembering - remembering the things of 
beauty wasted by our careless hands - our frequent
disregard of other living things - the many songs 
unheard because we would not listen -

Listen tonight with all the 
wisdom of your spirit - listen too with
 all the compassion of your heart - 
lest there come another night  - 
where there is only silence - 

A great
    silence - 

                                                                                                     ~ Winston Abbott

Monday, September 13, 2010

September Harvest

On Sunday I harvested a bunch of goodies from the garden and spent time in the kitchen making yummy things.  Here is the evidence, a picture of the bounty, then a picture of dinner, before we sat down to eat it all up that night.  Flowers, tomatoes, purple and roma beans, carrots, tomatillos, eggplant and finally basil (which is not pictured) were harvested.  

I processed 8 cups of basil leaves and made a bunch of pesto to freeze and to enjoy this week.  

The highlight of the harvest and cooking spree was the pretty lavender eggplant that became a successful and delicious Romanian dish called salata de vinete .  I first learned how to make this dish from my Hungarian friend (who was born in Romania), Videa, who Josh and I visited in Budapest about 7 years ago.  She taught me to make a fresh mayonaise with egg, oil and lemon to then whip in with the fire roasted, peeled eggplant.  This dish requires that you use a wooden spoon to mash the roasted eggplant against a ceramic or wooden bowl so the eggplant doesn't turn color or become metallic in it's flavor.  I haven't tried my hand at making this dish on my own since my time with Videa until I was recently inspired by my Romanian friend, Elena, in Toronto, who made it for us when we were there last month.  She made such a wonderful bowlful of this treat for us to enjoy that I had her talk through the recipe with me so I would have the courage to come back to my growing eggplant and cook it when it was ready.  It was ready to be picked on Sunday and that night we dipped fresh tomato, cucumber and carrots from the garden in it, then all of a sudden it was gone.  It disappeared quickly in our stomachs because Josh and I love eating it so much.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I spent some time with my sunflowers this past Friday.  I took their pictures and cut four flower heads for me and a friend from some of the plants that toppled over due to their height, weight and the wind.  The sunflowers grew very tall this year...I'd say they average 12 feet!  I planted seeds in the old chicken yard so I'm sure that the nutritious chicken compost was the magic trick.

I've always had an affinity for sunflowers, like their plant spirit and my spirit have something in common.  They have a lot to teach me as I watch them grow, move, follow the sun, ripen and provide seeds for the birds and animals.

The word that came to mind as I admired and thought about my sunflowers the other day was submission.  This time of year the heavy flower heads, full with developing seeds, weigh down and make the plants appear to bow in reverence, bow in their majesty and humility alike, and bow in loving submission to their cellular knowledge that there is a greater power.

Their tall shrouded figures stand like wise women in my garden and bow gracefully to the reality that they are maturing and summer is coming to an end.  Time is moving onward in the cycle.

The sun rules the sun flower.  I love watching the sun and sunflower dance throughout the day as the flower head reaches for, faces and follows the arc of the sun moving through the sky.  The sunflower is graceful in it's dance with the sun as it sways, turns and bows through it's life with truthful expression.  This is a beautiful submission.

What does submission mean?  The sunflower teaches me a pure meaning of this word.  This meaning is not about one's will over another.  It's not about abuse of authority.  It's not about renouncing one's pure essence or expression for the sake of another.  This idea of submission, after watching the sunflower, is about submitting to the divine.  The sunflower is comfortable and confident in it's growth from a seed to grow tall and strong, sway in the wind, follow the trajectory movement of the sun and blossom into a cheerful bright yellow (or red or orange depending on the variety) flower. 

What does it mean to gracefully submit?  The sunflower trusts in the sun, in the rain, in the earth and submits to the flow of its life expression.  It doesn't control a thing.  It doesn't have an agenda.  It is not impatient. The sunflower doesn't need to do any of those things and doesn't try to.  It is what it is and oh, what a beautiful, strong presence it has in the garden.

In this time of personal growth, I look to the sunflower as an ally.  I need to trust, be patient, grow strong roots, stand tall, sway in the wind and grow towards the sun.  I need to submit gracefully and reverently with the knowledge that there is a greater power, a greater meaning and a greater mystery. I must dance with the divine as a partner and follow its lead.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Alison Fleming: Artist

Ali is a good friend of mine who I met when I studied abroad my junior year in Glasgow, Scotland.  She is from Winnipeg, Canada and now resides in Toronto.   I was so happy that we could make the time to visit each other and catch up while I was in Toronto recently.  Her intellect, creative spirit and sense of humor shone brightly just I like I remembered from the time we shared living in the same tenement house and wandering through the streets, pubs and cinemas in Glasgow back in 1996.  It's a real gift to share time with an old friend who you haven't seen in years and years and just pick up from where you left off.

Ali has been an artist from before the time I knew her.  I met her on the front steps of the tenement house that served as student housing within a few days of our arrival.  She had paint brushes holding up her messy hair in a bun instead of barrettes or a rubber band.

I'm featuring six of her paintings here on my blog because I really like her work and I admire her drive to keep making art.  She paints contemporary urban landscapes using oil paint on gessoed wood.  When I first looked at these paintings I couldn't help but think of how she evokes the feel of an Edward Hopper painting.  However, her present day urban landscapes are all her own.  She visits neighborhoods, businesses and buildings that are on the verge of or have suffered from economic collapse.  I find a sad beauty and nostalgia in her work.  Unlike Hopper, her paintings are purely cityscape and there's not one single image of a human figure in these paintings.  This heightens the haunting, lonely feeling that pervades the gritty beauty she creates.  I'm sure that every city in North America has images like these peppering its streets.  Especially during this time of recession, depression, economic downturn... whatever you want to call it.    Ali obviously has a very steady hand and her technique, patience and care show in the way she re-creates the lettering, glass reflections and pealing paint on the buildings she paints.

Visit Alison Fleming on line to see more of her artwork and to contact her if you are so inclined.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


It's a cool breezy day here in the hills.  I just glanced back behind me and out the window to my side yard full of brush; dying crispy, brownish ferns,  blooming golden rod and aster.  There is no going back now.  Autumn is on it's way and right around the corner.  The crickets chirping and the drone of small single engine airplanes remind me of the turning of the season.   I'm also aware of and visited by familiar feelings of melancholy, vulnerability, sensitivity and longing this time of year.   It's an unsettledness and sweet pain that's a bit uncomfortable at times.  The drive and push of late spring to mid summer slows to allow more time for reflection.  With this reflection I take stock of who I was, who I am and who I want to become.  I crawl inward to the chambers within the cave that is me and visit places that are familiar yet different at the same time.  I feel vulnerable like the cooling down and dying back that is happening all around me is outwardly mirroring a piece of me that is dying, changing and moving on.