Just Jazzy 148

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”
― Iris Murdoch

jazzy bugs 002 001

Nature is joyful and filled with wild delight – but flowers are the happiest of all.

Just Jazzy 136

“Why do they not teach you that time is a finger snap and an eye blink, and that you should not allow a moment to pass you by without taking joyous, ecstatic note of it, not wasting a single moment of its swift, breakneck circuit?”   (Pat Conroy)

No more waiting for some distant special occasion - life is short - let's share the good wine now.

No more waiting around for some far-off-in-the-future special occasion – life is short – let’s share the good wine now.

My Own Little Murder of Crows

crow

One is for bad news.

Two is for mirth.

Three is a wedding.

Four for a birth.

Five is for riches.

Six is a thief.

Seven a journey.

Eight is for grief.

Nine is a secret.

Ten is for sorrow.

Eleven is love.

Twelve is joy on the morrow.

on the menu today, at flickrhoo

on the menu today, at flickrhoo (Photo credit: Jaboney)

Yes, I freely admit it – I count crows.  Someone made up that informative little blurb about what the numbers mean for the benefit of superstitious people like me.  Having discovered this poem (and others like it) I now forever find myself taking the words seriously and assigning deep meaning to having big black birds land in my backyard.

A few days ago there were five crows strutting about back there.  I’ve gotten used to the magpies visiting, but don’t often see the rest of the Corvids family (which includes ravens, crows and blue jays.)  These particular family members are all black, a little scruffy looking, and tricky ominous shape-shifting soul-eating scavengers.  Really, you probably won’t find that description in your bird book, but they do have a reputation.  They are loud, rambunctious, cunning thieves with a plethora of different calls, all of which sound like “Go to Hell” in crow-speak.  A group of them is called a “murder” because (according to me, with no scientific back up for proof)  it always sounds like they are sufficiently pissed off to kill the next thing that crosses their path.

I could also come up with explanations for a jury or an unkindness of ravens;  a parliament of crows, rooks or owls;  a cast of hawks, a knot of frogs, and a skulk of foxes. But maybe I’ll save that for another day when those things present themselves for view from my kitchen window.  A pride of lions, a gaggle of geese, an absence of waiters, an ostentation of peacocks and a brace of orthodontists are all self-explanatory.

This morning there were five crows on my front lawn.  I had a twilight zone moment.  These birds are definitely trying to tell me something.  It could be simply that there are great snacks in my grass, or maybe it’s something much more important, like information on the secrets of balance within my soul (because, you know, that could come from anywhere) or timely advice about purchasing a lottery ticket.  Five is for riches, after all.

Crows are not always harbingers of doom apparently, although I tend to associate them with warnings of danger – death, accidents, sickness, bad weather.  It’s all that gloomy black I guess.  But these birds are also considered by some to be the keepers of sacred law and the mysteries of creation, divine messengers here to guide and protect, bringers of knowledge, seekers of the gates of the supernatural.  Squawking indicators of a change to come.  You never know with crows.

As guardians through the cycle of death and rebirth, the scintillating rainbow
colors in their dark wings remind us that even in the midst of darkness we
have the power to touch the light
.

(Medicine Cards, Jamie Sams and David Carson)

The appearance of crows has long been associated with death omens, dead bodies, battlefields and cemeteries because they are thought to circle in large numbers above sites where animals or people will soon die.  The other side of that is being considered the guardians of ceremonial magic and healing.  Crows have been used for divination and luck, both good and bad.

Somewhere I read that crow medicine people are masters of illusion.  We should not try to figure crow out.  It is the power of the unknown at work, and something special is about to happen.  And that’s all we really need to know about that.

As if that will stop me from counting them.  And constantly checking now for the fabulous five to show up for the third time.

Just Jazzy 85

A meal without wine is like…..breakfast.

 

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Is your wine bringing you joy?   Save the vino for happiness. For wonderful times with friends and family. For those times when you just want to toast your little heart out.
Drink to celebrate your joy, not to try and find it.  – Sarah Sturgis for MindBodyGreen

Five Steps to a Good Morning

Weekly Writing Challenge  Detail a three to five step story or process, and illustrate each of the steps with something visual.

I have been practicing these Five Steps and having Good Mornings for a lot of years.  Time to spread some joy.

Step One:  Push the Brew Button

Step One: Push the Brew Button on your coffee pot until it turns Red or Green or whatever colour indicates “Yes I Am ON”.

The reason you are able to stumble down the hallway and into the kitchen and start your coffee brewing with one finger is because you got the whole thing ready to go the night before, in anticipation of being in No Mood to do much more than that before having your first cup of coffee.  I don’t know what life before coffee means.  I don’t think there is any such a thing.

Step Two:  Select One Big-Assed Coffee Cup

Step Two: Select One Big-Assed Coffee Cup

I own four of these monster mugs, in a variety of colors.  Red is my favourite, but this orange one will have to do today because all the other ones are in the dishwasher.  At least I hope that’s where they are.  Frankly, they could be anywhere.

Step Three:  Choose your Poison.  Add to cup FIRST.  If you do this first, you will not have to do any strenuous stirring later.

Step Three: Choose your Poison. Add to cup FIRST. If you do this first, you will not have to do any strenuous stirring later.

Hazelnut cream is NOT good for you, but then neither is coffee, really, so don’t worry about it.

Step Four:  Fill Cup With Freshly Brewed Coffee.

Step Four: Fill Cup With Freshly Brewed Coffee.

If you are very observant you will have already noticed that I do not own a coffee carafe.  I never met one that I could pour coffee from without making a big mess, and do you know how easy it is to break one of those stupid glass things?  And how hard they are to replace?  There are some stressful things that can be removed from your life very simply, and I suggest you give the elimination of the coffee carafe some serious thought.

Step Five:  Just Breathe.  Inhale, Exhale.  Take a sip.  Enjoy the moment.

Step Five: Just Breathe. Inhale, Exhale. Take a sip. Enjoy the moment.

Look out the kitchen window.  Smile at the mountain of snow and the bird feeder being guarded by your very own freaked out nasty squirrel.  It doesn’t matter that the sun isn’t shining.  It doesn’t matter that the temperature is still below freezing.  It doesn’t matter that you have to get ready for work soon.  Oh, wait.  That one does matter.

Step Six:  (Optional)  Transport Mug to New Location and Continue on with your morning until you require a Refill.  Details to follow but only if you can't figure that out on your onw.

Step Six: (Optional) Transport Mug to New Location and Continue on with your morning until you require a Refill. Details to follow but only by popular demand if there is anyone out there who actually needs help with this complicated process.

I hope you got all this, because if you did it right, you will want to do it all over again tomorrow.  Enjoy your coffee.  Enjoy your day.

Brother of Mine

It snowed last year too:  I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I
knocked my brother down and then we had tea.  ~Dylan Thomas

To the outside world we all grow old.  But not to brothers and sisters.  We know
each other as we always were.  We know each other’s hearts.  We share private
family jokes.  We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys.  We
live outside the touch of time.  ~Clara Ortega

The day my brother died (really, was it only yesterday?) the phone call woke me up.  I had been expecting it for days and days but still it felt like the extension of some strange unhappy dream.  Those are the saddest words you’ll ever hear, but if you mix them up with a blessing and a relief they lose some of their edge. He was nothing if not strong, and he fought the good fight.  I went to the living room where W was reading the paper and told him.  My brother passed away this morning.  I’m going to cook some bacon.

Of course those two things don’t have anything at all to do with each other.  And even to myself as I said them they sounded like words stating random facts,  coming from a person who didn’t care.  But there were five kids in my house for the Thanksgiving weekend, and I’d promised them the night before that I’d make them bacon and eggs for breakfast.   After all, life does go on.  If you don’t think too hard about it, you can get yourself through just about anything.

I talked to my son, and I talked to my daughter.  Are you okay? they wanted to know.  Of course, don’t worry, I’m fine, I told them.  Don’t worry about me, I’m sad but I’ll be fine.

So no crying through breakfast, or the dishes, or the packing up, or the three cups of coffee, the last-minute hair cuts (I also promised Omayja bangs) and not even any tears when they all trooped out of the house and drove away.  Then there was just one granddaughter left for a couple more hours, not in any hurry to go home.  We did a few things, looked at some old photographs, ate some lunch.  I made travel plans, called work, got mad at W for saying something stupid, although now I don’t remember what it was except for my words being the result of all those pushed down feelings bouncing to the surface.

I kept it together until he left to drive Kenzie home, and then the dam burst.  This is the totally useless thing I do.  It all comes out when I’m alone because I don’t want anybody else to feel bad or feel sorry for me, or for all I know, even suspect that I have any feelings at all.

Finally, finally – when it matters the least,  the guilt and the remorse hit hard.  I wasn’t there for my brother or his wife and family or my siblings when they could have used my support, and without a tremendous amount of prodding I might not even have sent that last e-mail or made that final phone call before it was too late, because this is also what I do.  I go out of my way to avoid the unpleasant things in life.  Stuff it all away somewhere, let other people deal with it, turn my back, write a bunch of meaningless shit about it later.

My brother and I weren’t as close as we might have been all these years. We lived far away, we grew apart, there’s a million things we didn’t know about each other.  But we still share a long history and a lot of family, and there always was an unconditional sibling love. That never stopped, and it won’t stop now.

He was my brother. I did love him, and I will miss him. I should have told him both those things a lot more times.  Maybe he was smart enough to get it after hearing it from me only once or twice.  And I somehow think my stupid bacon comment might have given him a laugh.

We’ll be with the family for the next five days to celebrate my brother’s life.  Somehow I would like to find the strength to give back to them as much comfort as I know they’ll give to me.

Me, Me, and Some More Shit About Me.

Cornelis de Heem - Still-Life with Flowers and...

Cornelis de Heem – Still-Life with Flowers and Fruit – WGA11254 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This should maybe start with some sort of disclaimer about how I’m not the biggest egomaniac in the universe, but what the hell.  I am what I am.  This is a list called “The Best Things About Me.”  Frankly, I’m surprised it’s not longer.  (HAHA!!)  (My wild stab at being ironic.)

1.  Most of the time I have a flexible, even temperament. Some might see this as being shallow and unfeeling, but nothing really bothers me.  I like to think I’m sailing through life crisis free.  It’s not that my life hasn’t had its ups and downs or that I’ve never been hurt or angry or incredibly sad, it’s just that I prefer to handle everything without a lot of unnecessary drama.  I try to approach each day as fresh and new, not worrying too much about what happened yesterday, or what might happen tomorrow.  Because whatever comes my way, I’m confident I can handle it.  Experience so far has shown me I’m absolutely right about this.

2.  My interests are simple.  I pursue an easy, manageable, uncomplicated life and don’t allow myself to fall victim to all the should and should nots with which society bombards us all.  I’m thoughtful about my life choices and think in terms of myself first, others next, and the state of the world last. (If I don’t put myself first, who in the world will?)  Yes I know I’m not that important in the grand scheme of things, and that I’m only one infinitesimal part of the big picture, but I’m the only person over whom I have ultimate control.  If I am good to myself and good to the people around me, then I don’t doubt for a minute that the world will be good to me.

3. I know my limits.  If I don’t carefully consider what they are, I can become stressed out and overwhelmed, and ultimately no good to anyone.  I tend to be self-reflective at the best of times, and if my life is full of too many obligations and too much responsibility, I shut down and withdraw into myself even further.  I need time to kick back and find my serenity.  I’ve learned to slow down.  Breathe the air.  Smell the flowers.  Luxuriate in the simple things that bring me joy.

Bokeh - Flowers - Forget-me-nots

Bokeh – Flowers – Forget-me-nots (Photo credit: blmiers2)

4.  My notions about spirituality and love and life’s purpose may be viewed as daft and unrealistic by many, but I don’t let that stop me from finding comfort in what I truly believe.  If I am happy in this moment, if I feel loved and treasured by the people who are important to me, and committed to doing no one harm, what else is there to want?  Just the very same things for everyone else in my life I guess.

So why not make it your top priority today to find your own serenity?  Treasure what you have.  Count your blessings, and go ahead and bask in the sunshine of all the good stuff life has handed you.  Euphoria is contagious.  Pass it on.

Brownie Points and a Brief Bulletin

Jazz Has a Sense of Humor

Jazz Has a Sense of Humor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank you Molly at http://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/ for thinking of me for the “creepy-chain-maily” award.  HAHA!  I love it.  I’ve turned out to be good at accepting these things but not so great at passing them along – unlike Molly, who is able to accept three of them with aplomb in one fell swoop. Amazing.  Click on the link to see for yourself.  I hope this gets her some extra attention, because she has a fun blog and a great sense of humor. Instead of making a list in this post of blogs I love to follow, I’ve decided to update my “appearance” here with a “Blogs I Follow” widget.  This was so incredibly EASY, I have no idea why I didn’t do it sooner.  The only problem – the maximum number for the list is 50, and it picks up the latest ones I’ve followed, and not the ones I’ve followed the longest.  So some of my oldest and dearest friends are missing from this grid.  Boo.

No matter, you know who you are, and I don’t love you any less.  And it’s quite possible that I’ve sent you an award already that you’ve politely ignored and are breathing sighs of relief now that it’s not happening AGAIN, thank Christ.  Sorry to the few people who would never say that.

English: Johnny Depp at a ceremony for Penélop...

English: Johnny Depp at a ceremony for Penélope Cruz to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m supposed to list seven random facts about myself, but I’ve decided to copy and paste a bunch of questions nobody asked me and assume that will more than cover the requirements. This is the bulletin part you can skip over entirely if you already know more about me than is good for your health.

  • What’s better, being an adult or being a child?  Being an adult doing childish things.
  • How many pairs of shoes do you own?  Three that I wear – thirty or so that live in my closet.
  • If space travel became possible for the average person, would you go?  Only under heavy sedation.
  • If you were given a large sum of money to donate to a charity of your choice, which charity would you choose?  Cancer research.  We need prevention and we need a cure.
  • Reality TV: Good or Bad?  BAD BAD BAD.  Because the reality part is a big fat lie.
  • If you could be a character in a book which character would you be and why? Alice when she returns to Wonderland as an adult and gets to hang out with Johnny Depp.  I mean the Mad Hatter.  I know it’s a movie.  I don’t care.
  • What is the weirdest food you have ever eaten? Muk-tuk.  Although I’m not sure I swallowed any of it.
  • What laundry detergent do you use?  Purex or Sunlight.  Did you need to borrow some?
  • Do you think aliens exist?  Yes. But then I think a lot of strange and unbelievable things.
  • Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate, no contest.
  • What is the worst job you have ever had?  Being a waitress when I was a teenager. That’s why, ever since, I’ve been amazingly nice to wait staff no matter how bad they are.
  1. Are you a dog, bird or cat person?  Cat person because they’re so independent, but lately I’ve become a non-pet person altogether.
  2. Favorite ice cream presentation: hard packed or soft serve? Cake cone or sugar cone? Seriously, any of them, it really does not matter in the least.
  3. Favorite time of day: dawn or eventide? Dawn.  With the whole day ahead of me.  At eventide, I’m usually remorseful that I didn’t take full advantage of that whole day ahead of me.
  4. What do you like most in others?  A sense of humor. The ability to really listen.
  5. What is the most frustrating part of your craft?  My lack of ambition.
  6. What do you do for exercise?  HAHAHA!  Oh – were you serious?
  7. What is your favorite personal quality in yourself? My sense of humor and ability to really listen.
  8. Is where you are right now in your life where you expected to be?  More or less.
  9. What would you change, if you could, about your life per your answer above?  I’d be retired already with a shit load of money.
  10. What is the greatest sorrow you have experienced? The death of my parents.
  11. What is your greatest joy?  My family, my kids and my grandchildren and how life goes on.

About Hummingbirds and Summer

This is a close up picture of a Papyrus greeting card that I was given.  I was thinking I should use it for my submission to the weekly photo challenge (this week the theme is Summer), even though I’ve never been part of that challenge before except as a spectator in awe of other people’s photographs.  Perhaps this particular photo choice will give you a clue as to why I’ve been reluctant to take the challenge.  I might not be taken seriously.  Because the word “summer” probably  doesn’t normally conjure up visions of paper flowers covered in glitter and little glass beads.

However, hummingbirds should make you think of summer, and the Papyrus people appear to be obsessed by them.  So if you take that into account, maybe my summer greeting card makes perfect sense.  And if not perfect, at least a miniscule amount of it.  Here is what they have to say about hummingbirds.

Hummingbird
Hummingbird (Photo credit: Marie Carter)

Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. Hummingbirds open our eyes to the wonder of the world and inspire us to open our hearts to loved ones and friends. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and to savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.

Now seriously, did you know all that about these little birds?  I’ll bet even THEY don’t know the half of it.  Still, the sentiments are lovely, and that’s really what greeting cards are all about.  They inspire us to say stuff like “Wow, this flower reminds me of the beach” or “good gawd there’s glitter everywhere!”   

I actually love this card – I don’t know why I’m making fun of it.  Even the envelope is gorgeous.  And I have nothing against hummingbirds as long as I don’t have to wash out those annoying feeders that people hang up to attract them.  E-cards are fun, but there’s something solid and comforting about holding a real one in your hand, seeing an actual signature, stashing it away in your sock drawer, taking it out and smiling over it at some future date.  And snapping a close up picture of it, if you have no real life to speak of.  That’s a definite plus for the real thing.