Sunday, December 19, 2010

A New Poet...

A Christmas package arrived in the mail yesterday... from my friend Gioia... Which is ALWAYS a thrill, because she KNOWS what I love...


A new book of poetry

The Voluptuary is a collection of exquisite poems by Oregon's Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen.
She writes of abundance and bees, stars and poppies, the moon and birdsong so many subjects that speak to my soul... (AND did you notice the gorgeous cover of the book... and oil painting of pomegranates by artist  Miri Lavee... its oooh so luscious!!!)  

Such richness I feel right now...

Here is one of my new favorite poems ~ enjoy.


WHAT'S LEFT FROM THAT FIRST GODDESS

Bits of her, finer than pollen,
still eddy the world with their dust.
Each speck of her makes
a seed for one of us.

Whole, where she lived in the sky,
her body contained all people, impatient,
straining toward birth.
She knew her huge self --
bone, brain, toenail and hair--
needed to crumble.

We are her, disassembled,
then grown into many.
We're the ones come from this First One
entirely broken apart, taken down
except for her mismatched eyes.

The right is a yellow
too bright to behold.  The left,
a cool silver smudged
by cataracts of gray.
Our sun, our moon--
these, she saved.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Well, Its Not Exactly Tomorrow...

I plan to write everyday, then I get too overwhelmed with all the other stuff life throws at me... and then I just get too tired...  I'm generally not a flakey person, but I have to admit I'm having a tough time keeping up with my "daily practice and commitment.." of writing each day... Ah me..., at times like this, I just have to take a little time out to reflect on what I HAVE achieved (200 +  posts since I started this blog!) as opposed to what I'm NOT getting done...

So..., as a continuation of my story from Willows...


...I'd taken myself up this dirt road, I don't really know why, except it just seemed to call to me..., perhaps I was hoping to spot birds, or get a breathtaking view, either way, I'm so glad I did...
Turning the car around I slowly crawled along watching nearby birds on the barbed wire, listening
to their beautiful songs and taking photo's.., as I gazed out the window in front of me, I noticed a smallish, older looking woman facing me, straddling the road and just staring at me, not in an threatening way, more of a curious..." who are you and what might you be up to kind of a stare"... I continued to take photo's from my drivers seat and finally rolled to a stop in front of her.  I noticed she was wearing a pair of binoculars around her neck so instantly felt we had common ground.  I told her that I was a visitor  and here for the race, but escaped to go birdwatching... she then proceeded to tell me about all the places to visit where I might find huge numbers of birds, and a special place to visit Sandhill Cranes... just as I was about to thank her for her time and drive off..., she mentioned that she lived just across the road on her 15 acre farm growing her own food, and selling her own produce..., including "pomegranates".... when I heard "POMEGRANATES" I felt my self gasp in awe, and heard myself say "really..., you grow your own pomegranate trees?  Can I come and see them?"  And before I knew it, I'd parked the car, grabbed my camera and trotted up the driveway to see them...
For anyone who has read my blog for a while knows that I LOVE pomegranates.  They are my favorite fruit... They are such beautiful icons, I love to photograph them, in fact I'm painting pomegranates in my oil painting class this week...  I guess I was showing so much enthusiasm for the fruits that the woman turned to me and held up a hand and said "wait there, I'll be right back.."  So I waited and photographed her farm garden which felt like a little piece of Eden... not only did she grow my favorite fruit, but it seemed like every other fruit you could imagine,,, Lemons, oranges, mandarins, persimmons....
And when she returned she handed me a glass of ruby red, freshly squeezed pomegranate juice....
...I didn't know what to say..., I was so touched.. she had literally ran into her house and squeezed my some of the best juice I've EVER tasted...  She told me it was because she used both sweet and tart pomegranates, one being pink, the other red.

I was so deeply touched...  we finally exchanged names...  her name was "Annana - rhymes with banana she grinned..."  I told her mine, and we chatted and shared some more... Two strangers but with birds and gardening, nature and life in common... I felt I could tell her pretty much anything..., she told me she was vegetarian, I told her I was gluten intolerant and had a hard time finding restaurants that served healthy food... then she asked me to follow her to the house... where she proceeded to fill up a large mason jar of cooked bean casserole, handing it to me she opened her refrigerator and handed me a container of home made coleslaw salad saying ..."here, take this for your lunch, its just pure and simple ingredients..., I made it all myself.."... I really didn't know what to say..." Thank you" seemed such a very small thing to say for what I felt was a huge offering of kindness and heart.. just five minutes before we had been total strangers, now she was feeding me home made food and well... I could have cried...

I asked if I could give her a hug (which I did,) and then asked if I could take her photo... (which she agreed to...)

My new friend Juananna with a basket of her Pink Pomegranates...

As I drove away that day,  I knew I'd met an angel.  I felt so very blessed and fortunate and knew that I'd been given a wonderful gift...

Have you ever met an angel who seemed to just like you for who you are right from the get go???


Monday, December 6, 2010

A Tale From Willows...

Sun dried weeds, rattle and hiss in the wind

Hi folks, I'm back to my blog, back to my friends, back to my writing... Although I miss all of it when I'm "away,"  I've realized that if I'm not really feeling the inspiration, I can't force myself to write about "Finding Love"... everyday...  Even though  most day's I feel gratitude in many ways, I sometimes don't have the creative umphhh to always share it! - such is life...

So, with that being said, this past week found CG and I attending the 25 hour enduro race at Thunderhill race track in Willows, California.  As we began our 13 hour drive there, I began to muse about what we would find there, and then suddenly realized that "Willows"  is THE "Willows" that Cory Amano  of Tongue in Cheek blog writes about often from her home in the South of France... I recommend you view her blog as it is one of the most beautiful I've seen, and most real I've read... Click on the link below if you'd like and check it out...


Willows is out in the country, almost 100 miles from Sacramento.  Its a place of great almond orchards, rice fields, cotton, pumpkins, citrus fruit...  It has a huge bird and wildlife population.  I found myself driving for miles along the backroads, every field seemed to have its own Kite or Buzzard, hovering and diving into the grasses for their lunch.  (I have never visited a place that had so many birds of prey.)

In the flooded rice fields I saw flocks of Trumpeter Swans..

Traveling along one quiet lane, I spied many Western Meadowlarks..


Along this same very quiet lane I came upon an angel wearing binoculars...
I'll fill you in tomorrow...

Hugs,
Neinah

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankful...


Taz sits at the french window, watching the first few flakes of snow...

Its been a rough few days on our little island, starting with the snow and ice blasting down from the Arctic on Monday, making for treacherous driving conditions.  The day after the storm, we ventured out to buy groceries and found the roads littered with abandoned vehicles, some had slid and collided into one another, or people had simply stopped where they could rather than risking going any further and must have walked the rest of their way home.

The news reported record breaking, freezing winter temperatures (and its only November!)

The winds picked up the following day and temperatures continued to drop, the power went out in many homes and businesses including ours and was slow to come back on.  The night before Thanksgiving our power returned (such a relief..., I was due to have 4 families come for dinner.)  However later that evening,  we discovered the pipes had frozen in our laundry room and had flooded the floor.  We had to turn the water off, we had a visit from the local fire department who assured us that our burst pipes/damage was nothing compared to what they had seen over the past 24 hours...(thank goodness for small mercies...)

 Thanksgiving was a bit of a challenge, as no running water meant no dishwashers, toilets flushing, etc. etc..., (things that I've so completely taken for granted for most of my life.)  And sadly, several guests were not able to make the dinner due to their own set of difficulties caused by the winter storm...

However, despite the setbacks,  I felt very thankful... I had both my children at home (which always puts me in a joyful, contented mood), the power/heat was back on, we had shelter protecting us from the elements.  

A great fire roared in the hearth (I always feel a sense of well being when we have a good fire blazing.)
And we had an abundance of tasty, healthy, delicious food and... each other...:)))))

How was your thanksgiving???


Monday, November 22, 2010

It Would Seem That Winter Has Arrived...

Standing outside yesterday and looking up into the leadened sky, I noticed occasional, tiny white specks of something strange and unexpected floating lazily down to settle onto leaves and branches... I thought at first I was seeing ash from the chimney - perhaps from the burning inferno we had going in the fireplace...
But on closer examination, I saw the specks disappear... It was trying to snow...  I didn't think it was time yet, or cold enough...) 

Well, today it persevered and has settled in places, and has caused much anguish for drivers on the road...

I came home early with the pups, to make sure we didn't get stuck. After gathering wood for the inferno... I took a few minutes to photo the white wonder that used to be the garden...

Frosting on the Calicarpa berries...

Down the driveway towards the road where cars slip and slide down the hill.

Snow-topped pumpkins on the front steps.


Perhaps this year we'll have a White Thanksgiving???


Here's a beautiful Mary Oliver poem to celebrate the first snow...

First Snow 
by Mary Oliver


The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning; such
an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.
The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles, nowhere
the familiar things:
stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from.  Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain - not a single
answer has been found - 
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.


o ~ O ~ o


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chinese Lanterns...


Here's a few photo's of one of my favorite flowers of the season...

Chinese Lanterns ~ Physalis alkekengi

Flowering in late summer then developing these fruits in October, turning from green to brilliant orange... they truly are stunning to look at.

Physalis is actually a herb, related to potatoes, and tomatoes..., its also known as "Winter Cherry," its fruit is harvested for its high vitamin C content, but can be toxic if not fully ripe, its  known for its inflamation-reducing and , cough suppressing qualities and has been used to treat many other varied symptoms... (such as bedwetting!!!)  I love learning about the herbal lore of plants grown right under our noses, don't you? 

However, I'm not in any hurry to chomp these fruit, but they are so very photogenic..., don't you think?


Look what happens to the outer papery skin as it ripens...


All that is left is skeleton like outer shell, cage like holding the little orange like fruit in the center.

Do you have a favorite Fall flower?



Friday, November 19, 2010

Maple Syrup and Toasted Walnut Scones...


Here's my prescription for spending a perfect day indoors when the chill Autumn winds are blowing and the rain is beating down on the windows...



A roaring log fire...


A cup of tea along with a favorite book or magazine...


And a plate of Gluten/Dairy Free Maple Syrup & Toasted Walnut Scones 
fresh from the oven... mmmmmmmmmm


Here's my recipe for the scones...

(by the way if you don't have to eat GF and DF simply substitute the GF flour
for Wheat flour, marg. for butter, and cream for the Almond milk.)

Maple Syrup & Toasted Walnut Scones

Ingredients:  

1/4 cup of good quality Maple Syrup
6 Tablespoons of Almond Milk (or other milk.)
2 1/4 cups of All purpose GF Flour (I like Pamela's or King Arthur brand.)
1/2 cup of GF Rolled Oats
1 1/2 Tablespoons of Baking Powder
Pinch of Sea Salt
1 1/2 cubes of chilled DF Margarine (I like Earthbalance.) 
1 egg beaten
1/2 cup of chopped Walnuts
4 tablespoons of Turbinado or brown sugar

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
3.  Mix flour, oats, baking powder and sea salt in a large bowl.
4.  Slice the marg. into small cubes and blend with the flour, using your fingertips to 
     make a crumb like consistency (or blend these ingredients in a food processor till they resemble
     breadcrumbs.)
5.  Mix the Maple Syrup and Almond Milk and add to the flour mix.
6.  Blend well with a fork, then use hands to pull the dough together.
7.  Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll out till its about and inch thick.
8.  Cut out the scones using a cookie cutter or a small drinking glass.
9.  Arrange on the lined cookie sheet, leaving 1/2 inch between each scone.
10.  Brush the tops with the beaten egg.
11.  Mix the chopped nuts and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle the surface of each
       scone with a generous teaspoon of the mixture - press it down into the scone a little bit.
12.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, till golden brown and walnuts are toasty looking...

MMMMMMMMMMMMM........ Enjoy!




Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stirring The Soul...




This hand sized, heart shaped leaf caught my eye in the park the other day...


Dear Friends, it has been a while since I last blogged, since putting back the clocks, my usual time for photographing (around 4-5pm) has had to change, as its almost dark by the time I get home from work... and as I prefer to shoot my photo's in natural light,,, I'm feeling a little frustrated... 

Seeing as my photo's help me focus on a subject to blog about, I am trying to figure out how (and more importantly) when I'm going to be able to get my photo's taken...

I'm having to relearn the meaning of patience, and show myself a little kindness as I try to navigate my "wish list" of things that I truly LOVE to do, as opposed to my daily task list of jobs I NEED to get done...

So this evening, I am curled up by a roaring, fire, crackling and hissing in the fireplace, T.V is turned off, and after browsing my bookshelf I have re-found a favorite poem that I would like to share with you,  written by the Pulitzer prize winning author ~ Mary Oliver... this poem truly stirs my soul...  


West Wind # 2 ~ 
by Mary Oliver

You are young.  So you know everything.  You leap
into the boat and begin rowing.  But listen to me.
Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without
any doubt, I talk directly to your soul.  Listen to me.
Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and 
your heart, and heart's little intelligence, and listen to 
me.  There is a life without love.  It is not worth a bent
penny, or a scuffed shoe.  It is not worth the body of a
dead dog nine days unburied.  When you hear, a mile 
away and still out of sight, the churn of the water
as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the
sharp rocks---when your hear that unmistakable
pounding--- when you feel the mist on your mouth 
and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls
plunging and steaming---then row, row for your life
toward it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pink In Autumn...

If you think Autumn is all about copper and golds, crimson and every possible shade of orange?  Think again and think Pink!!!

To celebrate Beverley's Pink Saturday http://howsweetthesound.typepad.com/my_weblog/ , I searched out some pink, in nature and around my house...


Dusky pink hydrangea flowers with purple Callicarpa berries...


Stunning late flowering dahlias...


More dahlia's...


Pink pearls and sparkling gems...



Happy Pink Saturday Everyone!

Love,
Neinah








Monday, November 8, 2010

More Fall Comfort Food...



Taking the dogs for a walk, I noticed this little maple tree in the park...

All these colors  from just one branch of one maple tree...

o ~ o ~ o


Going for walks in the park stimulates my appetite - especially for soup...

Here's a recipe inspired by a recipe for "Moroccan Carrot Soup" from the latest edition of Mary Jane's Farm magazine...


Ingredients 

3 cups of peeled chopped carrots
2 cups of peeled chopped parsnips
2 medium size chopped peeled onions
4-5 peeled chopped garlic cloves
1 cup of chopped parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tspn. Ground Cumin
1/2 tspn Ground allspice
6 cups of Vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste


Saute onion and garlic in 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
After 5 mins. add carrots and parsnips.
Add broth, bring to boil and cook for 20 minutes or so, till the veggies are soft.
Stir in parsley, lemon juice, cumin, and allspice.

Puree with a hand held blender (I don't have one so I used my Vitamix.)
Add salt and pepper to taste...

Quick, easy and sooooooo tasty...

Enjoy!












Friday, November 5, 2010

Pink Baby Feet (Of A Different Kind!)

Happy Pink Saturday one and all... Here's my pink contribution for the week... (well at least the feet are pink!)

My Mother-in-law sent me these photos with the caption...

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A BABY PORCUPINE???

How cute is this little guy???




Isn't he/she ADORABLE???  I am reminded of the Beatrix Potter character "Mrs. Tiggywinkle" - who was actually a hedgehog.... but still looks very similar at the baby stage at least...

Don't forget to check out all the Beverley's Pink Saturday bloggers at http://howsweetthesound.typepad.com/my_weblog/



Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Way To Remember...





This past Monday was the Mexican holiday "Dia de los Muertos," a day for the living to celebrate their  family members and friends who have died.

I've been fascinated by this alternative cultural attitude to those that have passed since my first visit to New Mexico where I visited a cemetery on the outskirts of Taos some 8 years ago with my good friend Gioia.

It was the day after the celebration but  all the graves still had their decorations,  strings of marigolds, fruit, candles, bread, bright colored plastic flowers... and other offerings...

  Instead of feeling the usual sense of forebode when I saw the graves, I felt a deep sense of exhilaration and joy..., at what seemed to be such a wonderful idea - Once a year, paying respect and celebrating the lives of relatives and friends who were once with us.  I was struck by what a healthy attitude this was to  deceased, loved ones,  and how uncomfortable and unsatisfying my own limited, stiff and morose beliefs were...

I remembered how I felt after my parents both died, I felt a great yearning to honor them, wether it was denial or not, I don't know, but I had a very hard time letting them go...   At one point I'd wanted to create a shrine in my flower garden to them both... with photos, candles??? I wasn't sure, I worried what people might think, I worried that whatever it was I was trying to conjure up wouldn't be right, and might in someway be offensive to some, they might think I was crazy!  - Yes, it was a confusing time and I never built the shrine...   I wish I could have whispered in my ear 11 years ago... "Its ok, do what you feel is right,,, it will be perfect, its a good thing to do, you will have a place to go be with them, whenever you need to talk/pray.."

Fast forward 11 years, and here I am making my first shrine/alter to celebrate 2 people I loved so very much.  I started to worry that I was doing it wrong, then I realized that my internal  critic/negative non-creator nellie was about to have her way with me again and so I and laughed at myself (and her,) and grabbed a scarf, lit a candle, found a couple of photo's and some other personal items that are imbibed with spiritual meaning to me... and there...was my sacred place to honor and celebrate my parents.  As soon as I lit the candle the room felt different and a quietness descended upon me... I think they loved their shrine..,and I felt their love and their presence...


I'm already planning how I want to celebrate next year...

Better late than never....

HAPPY DIA DEL LOS MUERTOS!!!





Saturday, October 30, 2010

Life IS Beautiful... here's a reminder...


Rosa ~ Just Joey


This morning I received an email from my extra, special, caring, loving friend Morgan, it included a link to an incredibly inspiring youtube video. ~ (Thank you Morgan:)

I recommend you watch this remarkable documentary, I believe it speaks to each and everyone of us  living in this great and beautiful world. 

 By meeting "Alice - The Lady In Number 6," we get to see the power of love, and what sharing your heart and soul (through music for Alice,) can do to for your life and the lives of others, when existence and hope has all but been taken away...


With Love,

Neinah








Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Pink Halloween Saturday...





And Happy Halloween To One and All.....


Making Jack O'Lanterns

Just take a golden pumpkin
Of quite the largest size,
Cut all round the stem, just so,
Scrape out the inside below,
And cut two holes for eyes.
And now fix a nose beneath,
And such a great big mouth with teeth,
And you've a jack-o"-lantern!

Then fix a tallow candle
Just big enough to light,
And when it flickers, see him blink,
And when it flares up, see him wink
And smile so broad and bright.
This is the jolliest sort of fellow,
With cheery face so round and yellow,
This funny jack-O'-Lantern.

Anon...



Wishing you and your families a joyful Halloween weekend... don't eat too much candy!
Love,
Neinah





Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Trip To The Park...

This morning we took the pooches to the park...


The trees are many shades of red, burgundy, copper and gold...



Walking around the park we spotted many varieties of fungus and toadstools...  There's something so magical about them..., ever since I was a little girl, I've thought they held some special properties..., believed they were where the fairy folk and little elves lived...  They seem to grow in places that look very deliberate..., like the little white ones that would grow in rings in our lawn...,  or others that can be found clustered at the base of certain trees...

Take a look at the fairy houses I found today...







Just a short walk in the park can reveal so much beauty, each day is different, each walk, always on the same path is never the same.

Do you have a favorite place where nature reveals itself to you???









Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Party time...

This weekend we hosted a Halloween bash for family and friends...

Goblins and fairy's (and strange men in kilts), munched on skeleton
cookies, gummy body parts and stuffed olive eyeballs...

While the Spider Queen, sliced bread for the 
hungry hoards... (yes those are spiders in my hair!)

A scary mummy roamed the halls...

...and Gothic Vamps chilled out and drank cider (instead of blood!)..

And a bespectacled witch was nabbed by the sleuth...

Puppies were loved..., people were fed...

And a good and scary time was had by all...

Do you have plans for Halloween? Parties, dress-up, trick or treats???

Wishing you all a happy Halloween, with fun and much love...

Neinah





Friday, October 22, 2010

Still Life With Pomegranates...




Pomegranates have arrived at the local market..., so I plucked three, and put them in my shopping basket.

I love this fruit (remember this post http://neinahavelin.blogspot.com/2010/08/pomegranates-persephone-full-moon.html) not so much to eat, but more to look at... I find them exotic and beautiful, their skin,  luscious and shiney red, open one up and it exposes its hidden treasure of  ruby jeweled seeds....

I took these photo's with my new SLR camera, I'm slowly learning how to operate it, there's so much to learn about how to take good photo's and get satisfying results...



I'm always on the lookout for interesting subjects to take photo's of, if the photo's are good enough, I can
take them to my oil painting class...  I think my next painting will be of pomegranates...


Below is a poem by Dublin born poet Eavan Bolan.... 


The Pomegranate ~ by Eavan Boland

The only legend I have ever loved is
the story of a daughter lost in hell.
And found and rescued there.
Love and blackmail are the gist of it.
Ceres and Persephone the names.
And the best thing about the legend is 
I can enter it anywhere.  And have.
As a child in exile in 
a city of fogs and strange consonants,
I read it first and at first I was
an exiled child in the crackling dusk of
the underworld, the stars blighted.  Later
I walked out in a summer twilight
searching for my daughter at bed-time.
When she came running I was ready 
to make any bargain to keep her.
I carried her back past whitebeams
and wasps and honey-scented buddleias.
But I was Ceres then and I knew 
winter was in store for every leaf
on every tree on that road.
Was inescapable for each one we passed.
And for me.

It is winter
and the stars are hidden.
I climb the stairs and stand where I can see
my child asleep beside her teen magazines,
her can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit.
The pomegranate!  How did I forget it?
She could have come home and been safe
and ended the story and all
our heart-broken searching but she reached
out a hand and plucked a pomegranate. She put out her hand and pulled down
the French sound for apple and
the noise of stone and the proof
that even in the place of death,
at the heart of legend, in the midst
of rocks full of unshed tears
ready to be diamonds by the time 
the story was told, a child can be 
hungry.  I could warn her.  There is still a chance.
The rain is cold.  The road is flint-coloured.
The suburb has cars and cable television.
The veiled stars are above ground.
It is another world.  But what else 
can a mother give her daughter but such
beautiful rifts in time?
If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift.
The legend will be hers as well as mine.
She will enter it.  As I have.
She will wake up.  She will hold
the papery flushed skin in her hand.
And to her lips.  I will say nothing.


o ~ 0 ~ o