Sunday, September 20, 2009


....Well, not exactly. It was an intentional movement downward, not an accident. But it goes well with the previous post title.

I want to go again. It was three falls ago now.

I guess I have two kinds of fall fever.


Friday, September 18, 2009


It's fall again. It always comes, and it always does this to me. I'm not sure if I get spring fever, but I do get fall fever. I feel more alive, I want to do things I haven't thought about for who knows how long, and I have more energy to do them.

I listen to music (Toni Childs right now) and feel like a part of me wakes up that has been asleep over the hot, humid summer.

Not that it isn't humid right now, after I've-forgotten-how-many days straight of rain. But it's different, knowing that when these rains end, clear, crisper air will soon be on its way. And knowing the rain is adding to the magic of the leaves turning.

I want to be outside, walking for long periods of time. I'm remembering long walks in the hills of Scandicci in the fall, and I'm thinking of walks in Eureka Springs with the leaves ablaze.

And I want to be inside, too. I want to cook, all of a sudden. I pulled five recipes tonight that look inviting.

I want to curl up and read. Read just for fun--poetry, fiction, meditations. Read things that move beyond the here and now to the out there (and the deeper in there) and eternity.

I want to draw. We got an invitation in the mail today for the opening of an exhibit at the Brooks Museum, which in addition to offering a guided tour with wine and hors'doeuvres, invites us to bring a pencil and sketchbook to sit and "sketch with local artists." Again I remember Italy, how I often did see artists young and old sitting in the museums, sketching away. It was so normal there. I want it to be normal here, too. I think I'll go do it, just for the fun of it.

I want to put the hammock up (once the rains stop) and lie and stare up at the pecan leaves and the blue sky beyond and remember lying in that same hammock, staring up at the sky above Grandmother's yard.

I want to be alive. To really, truly be alive. To suck the marrow out of life, as Thoreau put it.

I'm four days early according to my calendar, but Happy Fall.

(Leaves courtesy of a retreat at St. Columba, three falls ago. Something else I need to get on the calendar for fall.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rachmaninoff Update 2

Well, life has been a little bit out of kilter lately, with a decision to buy a new house if we can sell our old one, redoing the kitchen, two trips out of town, and surely something else that I'm forgetting.

I have managed to play piano more than I was doing before. It's a wonderful way to unwind. But playing late at night, for me, is not the best way to get serious practice done.

Still, a few times I have worked on the Rachmaninoff and trust that continuing to at least keep it there in the forefront of my brain, and sometimes in the tips of my fingers, is better than nothing at all.

And soon the kitchen mess should end, I'll have the house back to myself during the days....until we move, at least!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

You Made My Day!

The other morning, when I went to the Botanic Garden to walk, I waited till I thought I was out of sight of the workers gathered around the maintenance area, and reached down, one foot at a time, to pull off my shoes and then my socks.

Unbeknownst to me, however, two men in a golf cart had been behind me and caught up to me by then. I didn't hear the cart's motor; the way I knew they were there was that one of them called out, obviously to me, as no one else was around, "Oh, nice! You just made my day!"

I had a wonderful walk that day, including a bit of a run, and the weather was lovely. But I think my favorite part of it all was that unexpected comment and just knowing that a simple thing like pulling off shoes and socks could give another person some kind of little gift that could "make their day."

Then today, because I had no clients (bad for business), I decided to go to the Wednesday farmer's market(good for the soul--and also at the Botanic Garden) that I'd never been able to go to before because of seeing clients.

It was wonderful. Heirloom tomatoes, pattypan squash, beautifully dyed gourds, fresh peaches, homemade pecan candies, natural soaps and lotions, and all kinds of other lovely things were lined up along the walkway under the trees.

One stand caught my eye and wound up pulling me in. R.P. Funderburk of Olive Branch, MS, makes some of the cutest birdhouses I've seen! I couldn't help looking at them. And when he came up and started talking to me, my "I didn't bring any cash or my checkbook with me" (true, silly me) didn't matter to him. If I wanted one, he said, I could take it and send a check in the mail.

Which I just sat down to do, and when I realized that I was about to write, "You made my day!"--well, I wound up deciding to write about this on my blog. (No, I don't have ADD; I just have too much time on my hands today, which is fine with me.)

It's not so much that I needed a birdhouse, though I do think this one is cute, and it's possible that having a wren around will cut down on the spiders that plague our front porch.

No, it's just that here in the middle of Memphis, I have met a man who makes birdhouses by hand, who for whatever reason has decided it is worth his time to do that and to travel about sharing them with other people, and this man trusts me to take a birdhouse without paying him. He believes that I will send him that check, as I assured him I would do.

I sure didn't know that taking my shoes off was going to make someone else's day, and I doubt Mr. Funderburk set out to make my day.

So maybe the truth in all this is that just by being ourselves and pursuing the things we love, we wind up bringing blessings to other people without even meaning to. I like that idea.

And I like walking barefoot.

And I do like this birdhouse!

Okay, now back to getting that check in the mail....

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Let's Play

From Stuart Brown, "Let the Children Play (Some More)," New York Times op-ed, September 2, 2009--

The differences in playfulness when adulthood arrives (I have followed more than 6,000 detailed play histories) validates the importance of lifelong play. Play-deprived adults are often rigid, humorless, inflexible and closed to trying out new options. Playfulness enhances the capacity to innovate, adapt and master changing circumstances. It is not just an escape. It can help us integrate and reconcile difficult or contradictory circumstances. And, often, it can show us a way out of our problems. There are numerous examples of difficult, deadlocked negotiations that were broken open by a joke or humorous incident. Many people have had the experience of coming back from vacation brimming with new ideas for work. The benefits of play come not from “rest” for the brain, as if play is just a time-out from life. Play is an active process that reshapes our rigid views of the world.

True play may seem pointless — it is done for its own sake, because it’s fun — but ultimately it is also useful. From an evolutionary perspective, the smarter the animal, the more they play. For humans, play reinvigorates us not because it is down time, but because it gets us in touch with our core selves and the joy of life.

The photo is from a recent day of play with my nephews and niece.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A Piedi Nudi 2

So, yesterday morning the experiment continued. I went to walk barefoot in the Botanic Garden.

This time social pressures were not a factor. Members of the Garden are allowed to go as early as seven, two hours before opening time, and it seems I am frequently the only member to actually enjoy that particular perk. At seven in the morning I rarely see anyone else there, apart from the workers out setting plants, blowing leaves, or whatever.

The walk was wonderful. The walkways there are smoother than the one in Audubon Park. And dogs are not allowed, so the dog-related concern is removed, making it easier to look up as I walked, rather than watch every step.

And there are all kinds of grasses, from smooth, silky ones to rougher weedy areas.

At first I stayed on the paved walk, because the grass had all been watered by sprinklers, and my civilized instinct of staying dry kicked in. But after a while, I realized that the worst that could happen if my feet got wet--was that my feet would get wet. And that they would dry. So there went that little bit of civilization.

Then there was the moss. I love a certain trail there, which goes off the main path and crosses a tiny little stream, so that you get to walk across a bridge formed by one huge stone. Much of this trail is covered in moss, and it felt so good to walk on. I'm sure I've walked on moss before barefoot, but not for that long. It was while walking on the moss, I believe, that I thought, "I just might start walking here instead of at Audubon." It's a little drive, but so worth it.

Then there was the long dirt trail that goes along the back of the property, where the fallen trees are taken to be cut, and where the compost heap resides. Ah, that feel of soft dirt on the feet!

Of course, because I had been walking on wet grass, my feet actually got a bit of mud developing for a couple of minutes, but it soon dried, and they were just dusty again.

At the end of that path came the real challenge. I had to choose between walking on gravel, or walking on the grass along the lake, where the geese spend lots of time. Which means goose poop.

Having experienced good poop on the shoes once before from a lunchtime walk, and having to abide the horrible smell until I could get back to work and clean my shoes, I opted to walk on the gravel.

That didn't last long, however! Tiny gravel is walk-onable, but this big stuff just plain hurt. So onto the grass I went, with eyes open and alert. And I got around the lake poop-free, cause for rejoicing.

My feet were very wet by this time, so I sat on a bench on the other side of the lake to let them dry before walking back toward the entrance and my car. There are few things more peaceful than lying on a bench in the sun, alone in a huge park, watching geese and ducks, at 7:30am. My feet were drying nicely....when suddenly I heard a not-exactly-peaceful "whoosh!" I looked up and saw that sprinklers had popped up out of the ground, and a stream of water was headed my way.

I put my socks and shoes on as quickly as I could, and walked back to the car with them on.

While I'm thankful for shoes, which certainly have their place, I'm also thankful for bare feet, with their 200,000+ nerve endings, and for the joy of actually feeling things I haven't felt for years, even decades, just because I've always been wearing shoes. I'm sure it's waking up my brain.

Maybe that's why I'm writing more often lately, who knows?