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Celebrating Cindy

NOTE: The following is about an interaction that I had with the Pippsywoggins, “Little Friends from the Edge of Imagination”. In times like these the Pippsywoggins often show up to share their wisdom with me.

I WAS SITTING BY THE SLIDING DOOR, reading the morning paper, when a slight movement caught my attention. I’m always on the lookout for evidence of wildlife in my garden, so without much thought I put the paper down and walked to the window. At first I didn’t see a thing. Then, as my eyes adjusted to the flickering shadows along the picket fence, I saw that between every post, on top of the highest crossbar, there was a Pippsywoggin, standing at attention. Completely still. Looking up. Arms raised as if in celebration … or praise. Or was it a greeting? I couldn’t tell. And I didn’t want to say anything that would disturb the scene that was playing out in full unbelievable poignancy right there in front of me, not more than 15 feet from my nose.

At the end of the line, or maybe it was the beginning (Pippsywoggins arrange things quite differently than humans do), was Gertrude Gretchen, the Pippsywoggin spokeswoggin. She turned her head towards me. Looked me directly in the eye. Then disappeared. No poof or anything. Just gone.

Of course I was startled.

The rest of the Pips stayed still for what seemed like minutes but was probably no more than a heartbeat. Then they lowered their arms and in unison flipped upside down so they were standing on their heads! Laughing. The tinkling sound of their laughter rang through the air with such a fierce joy that soon I was laughing, too, though I didn’t know why.

I still don’t understand what happened, nor do I know what the laughter was all about. But I’ll find out. I’m sure that I will because just before all of the Pips scrambled off the fence and down along the banks of Sand Creek they looked back at me and, in unison, blew me a kiss.

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As I write this I’m listening to the song “When Everything Old Is New Again”, sung by Peter Allen ( on You Tube).  The song, co-written with Carole Bayer Sager, so fits where I am right now. june2017

These lines, especially, resonate with me:

“Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again”

So true! They make me smile. Remind me to grab hold of my imagination and fly. Encourage me to keep on dancin’ down that path.

I took this photo today, June 1, at 6:00 PM. The scene is the path that leads to the steps that go down to Sand Creek here at our place in Jordan, Minnesota, USA. Those of you who have been here in the summer will recognize the ferns and the bench. Same old place. Nothing new. But not so. It’s different now. It’s different because as of yesterday this is the backyard of our home as well as our business. Yes. Dan and I have moved in! The Prior Lake house now belongs to another family with dreams and plans of their own, while we are re-configuring the former Maureen Carlson’s Center for Creative Arts into a space and place that will nurture both our Wee Folk Creations business as well as ourselves.

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The experience of moving, after living almost 40 years in one place, has made me appreciate anew all of you who have shared your stories of challenges and change. It’s not as easy as it appears from the outside! You are my sheroes and heroes!

A little humor has helped in this 1 and 1/2-year process of downsizing and moving. The grandkids thought it was funny to sit on the couch one last time as it rested in the dumpster at the Prior Lake house.  They helped to make the moving day a joyful one to remember.

The old living room couch will never be new again.  And it obviously didn’t make the move with the rest of our things to the Jordan location. But the loving and living and laughing and learning that took place in that living room will never grow old.

Here’s to dreams!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where, and how, do you come face to face with wonder, with that which causes you to catch your breath in reverence, to bow your head in awe? Where is it that you feel connected to the mysteries of the universe?

20160916_192525_richtonehdrEach of us most likely has a favorite place. One of mine is my own back yard. It isn’t a well-landscaped place, nor unusual, nor especially beautiful. It is one corner of our 2 acres of land bordered by scrubby box elder trees, a very busy road, a lilac hedge and open farmland. Some might call it boring. But perhaps it is the very limitations of the place which bring the vibrancy and mystery of life into sharper focus.

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The boundaries of my yard frame the things that happen there in the same way that a beautiful picture frame isolates and enhances a picture.  I love it because I never know exactly what might step into or move through that frame. Each thing that comes feels like a gift.

One morning a few weeks ago I paused at my office window, as I often do, surveying the treeline that rims my property. It’s one of my morning rituals, one that brings me great pleasure, checking out this small square of land to see who or what will show up this morning. It often feels like a conversation with wonder, this through-the-window intimate connection with that which is other than me.

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Sometimes the wonder comes from the color of the sky or the formation of clouds. If I catch it at just the right time, I see the spreading light of the morning sun illuminate first the tips of the branches, then, gradually, as I watch, the trunks of the trees turn from brown to pink to various shades of yellow and then back again to colors of the earth.

Often I’ll see a squirrel flicking it’s tail as it leaps from limb to limb in the big maple, or maybe a couple of rabbits stretching out their legs as they playfully race through the asparagus bed. Sometimes it will be a woodpecker knocking its head repeatedly against the dead Elm that still stands, though it leans its shoulder against a sturdier neighbor.

But this morning, nothing. Not a Chickadee, or Cardinal or Crow. Not a flock of sparrows. Not the upside down Nuthatch who creeps along the trunk of a tree.  And most definitely not the timid deer which occasionally glide through the yard.

I resign myself to the fact that nothing is there this morning. I almost turn away to begin the task of putting order to my day, when I see a movement. Out from the shadows of the trees steps a very alert, very alive and very big Coyote. Now some of you may hear the name Coyote and think predator, nuisance, danger, warning. But to me, it is magnificent. Proud. Beautiful. Graceful. Tilting it’s ears to catch every sound as it sniffs the ground, following, I presume, the scent of the rabbits or the squirrels or some other 4-legged prey.

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I watch until it disappears behind our garage, heading towards the rolling pasture that is just beyond our driveway. Then I stand still a moment in reflection. In what seems to me to be Sacred Space. Sacred because for a few moments I am in that very present state of mindfulness which takes me outside of myself and into the ever present now. A space that moments before felt mundane and a bit stressed, but now feels wide open. I am connected to the web of life, where anything is possible. I am part of it all.

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You, perhaps, are used to seeing coyotes in the wild, perhaps you even hunt them. Which I do understand. I grew up on a farm and am familiar with the need to protect ones barnyard animals and beloved pets. But in the 40 years that I have lived on this corner of the world, it is the first time that I have  glimpsed one here, up close and personal, alive and free.

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It is this sense of being free, of this Coyote coming into my space on its own volition, through no cunning, or efforts of travel or enticement from me, that makes this moment so special. For just a brief snippet of time, a wild thing of nature has chosen to step into my personal space and share its life with me. Perhaps it is this sense of me being the recipient, not the mover of things, that so humbles and enlarges me at the same time.

I’ve marveled at seeing the giant Condors flying over the Grand Canyon.  In the Colorado Rockies I rounded a corner and looked eye to eye with a reclining moose. In the Florida Everglades I counted the alligators and on the California coast it was bugle of the elephant seals that astounded me.

 

But for that daily sense of connection to all that is, nothing beats the unexpected gifts that step into the frame of my own backyard. It reminds me that even in my routine daily life, perhaps ESPECIALLY in my routine daily life, I am a part of all that is.

For this I am grateful.skunk1

 

 

 

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addieposter257

A Conversation
with
the Pippsywoggin
Addie Brianne

 

 

 

 

 

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, like just last week, and in a place far, far away, on the river bench that overlooks my garden studio, I sat in some state of despondency and contemplated the little door that is nailed to the base of the old willow tree.

 

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I didn’t really expect the door to open or anyone to come out of it, as I knew all too well that it was only a fake door, and that my friends from the edge of imagination, the Pippsywoggins, were not real at all. But I wondered, given a chance, what the Pippsywoggins might have to say to me, today, in the midst of the turmoil that is permeating our world.

 

 

 

 

 

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And so I sat on the bench, by the little door and stared at the muddy waters of Sand Creek, feeling compelled to be there, but also feeling a bit like a fool.  And then it happened.

 

 

 

 

 

An image appeared before me, addiebposter157that of the 5-inch tall Pippsywoggin Addie Brianne, who plopped herself down beside me, crossed her hands under her chin, and looked expectantly over at me with a grin.

I grinned, too, for of course it would be Addie Brianne who would show up. I remembered her story, which begins like this.

Addie Brianne is content with life.  She doesn’t have any great ambition to be a dancer or a seamstress or a writer.  She doesn’t have urges to gather the largest strawberries or the sweetest nectar or the shiniest pebbles.  She is just content to relax and to respond to life as it comes to greet her.

 

Ah, but don’t think that she is lazy.  No, not for a moment.   Above her front door is a sign that says:  THE FIRST THING TO DO IS TO SHOW UP.  And this she does.  Every day.  With as many of her senses of sight and sound and touch and taste and smell as she can marshal together.

Her little house hangs like a basket in the middle of a clump of willows that grow on the edge of a small farm pond where cattle come to drink, where a pair of Mallards yearly raise a brood of ducklings, and where the neighboring Irish Setter routinely comes to bark at crabs.

Because she has made it a habit to show up, she has been there to see the new calf get his first wobbly drink.  She was present when the littlest duckling got swept through the drainage ditch by the sudden spring downpour, and she glimpsed the look in the Setter’s eyes when he came face to face with the giant snapping turtle.

She shows up, and because she does, opportunities for learning and growth and amazement are continually hers.  The other Pips are a bit jealous of her charmed life.  But, you know, the funny thing is that even though they have visited her little house in the willows many times, none of them have seemed to notice the sign above her door that says:  THE FIRST THING TO DO IS TO SHOW UP.

 

riverwestposter57I bent down to pick up a twig to throw into current as I contemplated Addie Brianne’s story.  Now what, I said. So what if I show up? How does that change anything in this messed up world and my messy life?

As I said this, Addie jumped up and ran towards the little door at the base of the old willow tree, throwing these words over her shoulder as she entered the door, “It may not change the world but it might change you.”

I hardly had time to think about the implications of what she said when Addie was back in front of me holding a sign that said:

 

 

Show up.

Keep it simple.

Keep it honest.

Be true.

Those Pippsywoggins! Always with something new to challenge me!  But I took Addie’s poster home with me and nailed it above my own front door.  You’re welcome to make copies for yourself, if you like. I’m sure that Addie B wouldn’t mind.

 

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Olive, our blue-eyed, tiny-framed, skip-on-her-toes 2 year old granddaughter came to visit last weekend. The trip from her home 3 1/2 hours away was planned to be a very short one as both parents needed to get back to family responsibilities, and the two teenagers, at home. But the hospital visit with a family member turned out to require more time than originally planned, so Olive was our “guest” for most of Saturday and half of Sunday. We did have fun! I also learned a few things.
  1. Music is essential.
    Children’s folk songs make my body, heart and soul dance! I’d forgotten that, but, thanks to the presence of Olive, and to the ability on Pandora.com to choose stations with a theme, I now remember. In fact I’m going to hit pause and go turn it on … and up… right now! (pause)
  2. The heart knows.
    On Saturday I had a class scheduled, one that I really wanted to attend, but I’m so glad that I spent the day with Olive. Choices are hard, sometimes, but listening to one’s heart, and then going with it, makes the way easier. I think the lesson is to listen, choose, embrace, follow through … and don’t look back. Second-guessing is only that, guessing. Every chosen experience is part of our story and deserves our attention. Our whole-hearted attention? Yes, perhaps that, too.
  3. It’s Ok to ask for your own spoon.
    Our daughter, Jenelle, has long shared a love of deliciously flaky, rich, filled pastry with her father, Dan. As a thank you treat for the weekend spent watching Olive, she picked up two enticingly beautiful and generous portions of torte at Cossettas ( http://cossettas.com/home/hours-location/ ), one for her and one for Dan. I was watching my intake of sugar, so I received a wonderful loaf of raisin bread, an only slightly less rich concoction than the torte!
    Before presenting the torte to her dad, Jenelle, with a grin on her face and a lift to her eyebrows, went to the kitchen and got two forks, then proceeded to sit on the couch with her dad, open the white carry-out box, and the two of them dug in. Olive, who had climbed onto the couch alongside them, received periodic shared forkfuls between Jenelle and Dan’s savoring sounds of delight.
    “More, papa, more,” says Olive.
    Suddenly she gets down from the couch and runs into the kitchen.
    “Where are you going,” asks Dan.
    “To get my own fork,” says Olive.
    Her Olive-sized spoon was lying on the kitchen table, so she took that, instead of the fork, and headed back to the couch where she filled her spoon to heaping, again, and again, an equal part in the experience.
    kossettasjan242015That image has come back to me over and over again in the week since Olive went home. Those of you who know me may perceive me to be a strong-willed and independent woman, but I always recognize, and remember, the tendency that I have to take what people are willing to give me rather than to recognize what I need, that I want more, and that I do have the power to take the initiative, to get up and go fetch my own fork, or spoon, and be an equal part in the experience.
    Two books that were recently recommended to me are The Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes, and The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer. I think it’s time to check those out. Don’t you love it when the universe, or God or Spirit or the Inner Knowing gives us the same message, over and over again, using different messengers and metaphors, until we finally get it?

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