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February 2016

In Death, there is Life

Khalas! Enough is enough. I had been waiting for a moment for my not-so-baby 7kg cat, Neo (pronounced “Nayo,” from the Sesotho name meaning gift), to make his debut in my writing. This little rascal cat was found on my school campus and worked his way into the hearts of the high school students and principal and was called by the name of the school mascot, Eddie. He was constantly running in the front doors of the lobby, weaseling his way into classrooms and offices and laps. But, with cat allergy concerns, and long school holidays without company, he needed a stable home. I gave him one last autumn.

Neo 03

After leaving South Africa, breaking with my last cat, Arrow, and parting ways with an ex-boyfriend, I have found it incredibly hard to make space in my heart for new loves. Neo would accept none of my reluctance. A truly Muslim cat, he woke with the call to prayer at 4:30am, working his whiskers up my nostrils, nestling his head upon my cheek. He was on my artwork, my students’ sketchbooks, my laptop, my dinner plate, he was in my plants, between my knees on the toilet, he was everywhere. I learned how to pluck him, from my face, to the floor. I hid my artwork to avoid the unseemly paw prints. My world, my house, my energy became intertwined with his. Continue reading “In Death, there is Life”

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Desert Flowers

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My art colleague and a dear friend, Betty

Viewing the spread of the desert, the hues blend together to create vast swathes of stacked tones, paling as they reach the horizon. In February, early signs of spring are sprinkled amid the rocks, litter and fossils: wee flowers!

All too often in this world of labeling, of husbands, partners, and girlfriends displayed online, we claim status with the ones we love. Relationships are shared by numbers, without focus on the qualities of relationships. Even in my blog, I have focused on people of the past, places, situations, textures – but not friends! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my acute awareness that I am making friends for life.  Continue reading “Desert Flowers”

Wild Geese

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Sunrise of the Winter Solstice, West Luxor, Egypt 2015
This past week has reminded me to honor the many stories, gifts, and experiences passed to me, from moving limbs, makers’ hands and tender hearts, near and far, shared already and yet to be. For you, a poem: ‘Wild Geese”, by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver; published by Atlantic Monthly Press; © Mary Oliver

For a different experience, listen to Mary Oliver read her poem here.

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