The Beast

Those of you who have followed this blog for a long time know how much I have enjoyed walking, especially in the parks near my home. I loved enjoying the changing seasons, animals such as deer which I often saw and just the exhilarating feel of being out in nature. A year or so ago I was walking 3-4 miles most days and then trouble struck. Like many seniors I now have a bum knee. Some of my friends are getting knee replacement, but I’m determined that isn’t going to be me. I’ve had two steroid injections with varying results and weight bearing can still be very painful at times.

After a few weeks of physical therapy I forgot all that I’d been taught and instructed to do, i.e., exercises. I’m not a good PT patient. Recently though I recalled a horrible machine that the therapist seem to enjoy seeing me suffer on. It was big and intimidating but was supposed to strengthen the leg muscles that would better support the knee. The more I thought about that contraption the more I thought I should have one to use at home. That was a problem because there was no room for it in my condo.

The more I thought about it the more I decided that I could live without the sofa in my office. With the help of my daughter someone was identified who needed a sofa so, much to the chagrin of my cat, Elliott, I gave the sofa away. Elliott would probably say I sacrificed his “napper.”

Next I had to find the machine and it wasn’t hard to do. It is called a Cardio Strider, which I promptly named The Beast! I will never tame it, but over the past week I’ve averaged 1.5 hours and eight miles per day. The Beast is big, it’s ugly and Elliott hates it. He seems to be embarrassed for me when I sit astride it and begin to work-out. I’m not going to give up. I’m going to get this bum knee in better condition so that I may be back walking in the park when spring gets here.

The Beast

The Visit Poem

the visit

 

upon waking,

the first day of this new year,

i opened my back door

to find visitors…

 

not just the usual gathering,

but an unorthodox menagerie…

visitors of the most extraordinary kind…

 

a boastful bluejay

flashing his brilliant wings…

a haughty mockingbird

exhibiting his boisterous nature…

 

a bashful carolina wren

darting back and forth

from bush to bush…

a host of chatty starlings

conversing amongst themselves

from higher in the trees

 

and my usual visitors…

the common house sparrows

hiding in the safety of the holly bushes…

a male cardinal, tweeting madly

from the utility line.,,

and a handful of doves,

camouflaged against the bare ground

beneath the empty feeder…

 

my visitors come anxiously…

awaiting their morning manna

of sunflower and millet seeds…

peanuts and thistle…

 

but the most striking visitors of the day

are the dozens of robins

devoid of their usual warm weather fare,

come to feast on the ripened red berries

of the foster hollies…

 

and here am i…

ever grateful for the visit

where in my own private aviary

without walls or doors

all are free to come and go at will…

knowing they can…

knowing there is safety,

but knowing there is freedom…

 

and here am i…

in awe of what nature has delivered

on this the first day of a new year…

knowing that not only is it they

who have come here to me,

but i in turn

who have also paid the visit

By Sylvia L. Mattingly, January 1, 2020… the year of perfect vision.

6FA50F30-C9E1-4CA2-B356-74A7927B9A11

 

Photo by Pixabay

 

Poem: Find Me

Another Poem by Sylvia ADBE4DB2-4E24-46F1-A184-6945C10916DF

find me
look among my wealth of nature’s bounty…
among feathers, acorns,
and a harvest of dried leaves…
among the marbles and arrowheads
that i plucked from the ground…
and the skeleton keys and old coins
that rose from there as well
look among my treasure chest
of cherished things…
the photos of loved ones
both living and gone…
the shelves of books
that house a hundred voices…
and walls of art
that feed my hungry soul
look among my memories of
timeless things…
loves and friendships
that know no end…
places ventured
that echo a thousand footsteps…
and unknown journeys
whose steps are yet unknown
look among these things
and that’s where you’ll find me…
divided between the present
and the fragmented pieces of time…
between nature, relics, sentiments
and written words…
only look…
look among these things…
and find me

written by: Sylvia L. Mattingly, August 18, 2019

Coping

New Normal

These are unprecedented times. No one living has experienced such a pandemic in their adult lives. Restrictions depend upon where you live, but almost everyone is restricted in some way. Each country’s precautions are a little different and in the US it is up to each state to decide how much we must restrict our movements.

Regardless, we have all had to adjust to a new normal and there is nothing about it that feels, “Normal.” We must remember that physical distancing, masks, gloves and stay at home orders are designated to protect others as well as ourselves.

Coping

So-called social distancing is hard for me a hug loving, social being. I miss my friends. I miss my family. I miss going to the grocery and volunteering and driving and everything else that made up my daily life before COVID-19 dropped in on us.

  • I am trying to cope by taking one day at a time. This isolation is so open-ended at this point that it is depressing to think of the month or months stretching ahead. I try to have a goal (or two) for each day and when I achieve those I feel energized. The goals are too mundane to share, but of course, include such chores as reorganizing a closet.
  • This is also a wonderful opportunity to read. I have many books on my shelves that beg to be re-read and I have about fifty on my Kindle that I have not read. Reading is always informative and it swallows up a lot of free time.
  • This final coping mechanism should have been listed first because I think it is probably the most important. Here in Kentucky, I feel very fortunate that this pandemic has occurred in springtime. The sun shines bright almost every day and there are flowering trees and plants sprinkling color all around. Each day I go for a walk in the neighborhood and I am grateful that this virus did not visit in winter.
  • One last thought: Many people are making it possible for us to live during this trying time. Let’s remember those working in hospitals, grocery stores, law enforcement, and other essential capacities.

As our governor, Andy Beshear, reminds us each day, “We will get through this together.” 

How Are You coping?

 

“Think first of the action that is right to take, think later about coping with one’s fears.” Barbara Deming

Writing Prompt 3

If you were going to spend a week alone away from home and could only bring three things aside from your clothes . . . what would you bring and why?

Let’s assume medication and personal items like one’s toothbrush are included in the “clothes” category above. The three items I would take are: iPhone, pen or pencil, paper.

I would expect to spend my time observing my surroundings, hopefully lots of nature, and recording my thoughts and reflections. At other times I would use the iPhone for news and music.

CC479A28-97F2-4E85-8D95-67F971D8164D

Your Turn, Readers!

 

 

“Good writing is like a windowpane.” George Orwell

Photo by Pixabay

Sylvia’s Haiku

Sylvia Mattingly is my niece and friend. You know her from reading many of her poems on this blog. Syl jumped in with her Haiku which tells exactly who she is, a nature lover.

Sylvia’s Haiku

Lover of nature
I venture through the woodlands
And leave my heart there.

fullsizeoutput_23f2

My Haiku

Okay, I did it. At least I think that I did. Below is my final poem, but first I’ll share some of my initial attempts.

1. My love of nature
    has grown slowly year by year.
    Now it is so dear.
2. Haiku is silly.
    No fun in this poetry.
    Poetry should rhyme.
3. Here I sit with pen.
    I want to write a haiku.
   Oh no! What to do!

My Haiku

Crooked Creek was home
but not now, it looks foreign.
Gone so many years.

Your Turn

Remember, three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Send to: suebmattingly@gmail.com

fullsizeoutput_23f2

Haiku

Haiku

Do you know what a Haiku is? Do you know what Haiku are? Both questions are grammatically correct according to the dictionary. I checked with Grammarly which does not agree. What can we depend upon? It seems with Haiku there are as many questions as answers. Surely someone out there can help!

Poetry was not greatly appreciated where I went to high school. It seems a farming community had more important things to learn, like Home Economics and Agriculture. Reading a little Robert Frost is what I remember passing for poetry in my literature classes until college and then no one mentioned Haiku.

I didn’t hear about it/them until I was middle-aged and the local newspaper presented a Haiku contest. I read all the entries printed and mostly scratched my head. Recently I read a Haiku written by another blogger and appreciated it but still, I must admit that I didn’t “get it.” So let’s learn together. Are you game?

Definition

Haiku – a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world.  (According to Merriam-Webster)

Haiku (plural haiku) is a very short form of Japanese poetry. Modern Japanese haiku are increasingly unlikely to follow the tradition of 17 on (sic) or to take nature as their subject, but the use of juxtaposition continues to be honored in both traditional and modern haiku. (Per Wikipedia)

Adding the word “juxtaposition” didn’t help me, how about you? But let’s keep learning.

More Information

How to Write a Haiku Poem by Stephanie Wong Ken  Updated: August 21, 2019

A haiku (俳句 high-koo) is a short three-line poem that uses sensory language to capture a feeling or image. Haiku poetry was originally developed by Japanese poets. They are often inspired by nature, a moment of beauty, or a poignant experience. To write a haiku, start by brainstorming ideas for the poem. Then, write the poem with strong details and detailed imagery. Make sure you polish the haiku and listen to how it sounds out loud so it is at its best.

Examples

  • An ocean voyage.
    As waves break over the bow,
    the sea welcomes me.
  • A winter blanket
    covers the Earth in repose
    but only a dream
  • The warmth on my skin.
    Fire falls beneath the trees.
    I see the sun set.

Are You Ready?

Let’s write Haiku! I will post mine first just to be fair. I have no idea what it will be like because I’ve never said anything in a few syllables, but I’m going to give it a go! Please work on yours and send it via email so that the lines and syllables will be clear as opposed to in the regular comment section. I will post each one with your name. Here is my email address: suebmattingly@gmail.com

Let’s go!

fullsizeoutput_23f2

Another Poem by Sylvia

October day

a placid stream
meanders through an October day…
quietly reflecting the autumn trees
that line its banks…

a sprinkling of fallen leaves
floats upon its surface…
casually drifting when
nudged by a gentle breeze…
collectively gathering along its fringes
like thoughts
along the fringes of our minds

a wooden bridge spans the gap
between two shores…
reflecting the connection
between humanity and nature

those who are drawn here
listen with open hearts
and open souls…
listen to the voice of nature
that speaks without words…
that whispers in the wind
sighs in the pine boughs…
and reflects itself
in a placid stream that meanders through an October day

Sylvia L. Mattingly
October 17, 2019

IMG_2080

Photo by Sylvia Mattingly

Lord of the Flies Book Review

This is not so much a book review as a book discussion. I am unqualified to interpret the intricacies of “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding. Published in 1954 this book has been compared to the works of Orwell, Salinger, Shakespeare, and others. It has been explained as portraying psychology, religion, politics, and morality. One thing is clear, “Lord of the Flies” is not the novel it might appear on the surface. 

I first read this book many years ago and remembered it had a profound effect on me but I did not remember all the details which is what brought me to reread it recently. I am glad I did. At any point in life, we are likely to see things differently due to our more recent personal experiences. 

Briefly, the story is about a group of young boys stranded on an idyllic island. They begin to organize by choosing a leader and setting down rules, but all structure falls rapidly apart. What the boys experience and the atrocities they commit are shocking and thought-provoking. Childhood innocence becomes a debatable virtue. 

I imagine most of you have read this classic and I am interested in what you made of it. Does it demonstrate the innocence of humankind or our innate evil? Is it about democracy and totalitarianism? What does it tell us about society today, if anything? Is there a moral to this story about children?

If by chance you have not read this cult classic I recommend you do so.

fullsizeoutput_22b8

“When I wrote ‘Lord of the Flies’ – I had no idea it would even get published.” William Golding

 

Mystery Blogger Award

Mystery Blogger Nomination

I am so honored to have been nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award! Thank you to Sharvi who nominated me. Please check out her blog “Tips from Sharvi.” It will make your life easier.  https://tipsfromsharvi.com/about/

Here are my answers to Sharvi’s questions to me: 

1. What motivates you to blog? Exchanging thoughts and experiences with others. 

2. Do you actually follow your set blogging schedule? I do not have a schedule. That would make it seem like work. 

3. Who inspires you the most? Other bloggers and people of courage who I learn about inspire me, but most of all I must say are my readers. 

4. Which is your favourite vacation destination? Anywhere in nature, but especially the ocean.

5. Funny one… Honestly, can you sneeze with your eyes wide open? First, try it out to see. If you can, then teach me how to!  I can say with certainty that it cannot be done!

the-mystery-blogger-award

Award Creation

The Mystery Award was created by Okoto Enigma who has a delightful blog about “Lifestyle, Beauty and Fashion.” Check it out and learn more about her and this special award.  https://www.okotoenigmasblog.com

Award Rules

  1. Put the award logo/image on your blog
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

Three Things About Me

  1. I have been fortunate to have traveled to many different countries.
  2. Other than my family the thing that brings me the most joy is nature.
  3. I love to write and blogging is a wonderful way to share thoughts, doubts, questions and experiences with others. I cannot imagine being conformed by one subject.

Bloggers Who I nominate for the Mystery Award

  1. Beauty Beyond Bones  https://beautybeyondbones.com
  2. Life Just Happens  https://lifejusthappensweb.wordpress.com/author/debmrst/
  3. Parallax  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/46393402
  4. The DIHEDRAL  https://thedihedral.com
  5. Christine’s Collection https://christinegoodnough.com/about/
  6. The Struggle  https://thestruggle247.wordpress.com
  7. Elan Mudrow https://tricksterchase.com/about-2/
  8. Tom’s Nature Up Close Photography and Mindfulness Blog  https://tom8pie.com
  9. Memoire of a Writer  https://thememoirofawriter.com/2019/05/12/what-you-too-qotd/
  10. Ankit Verma  https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/105525070/posts/574
  11. Sandstorm Click https://sandstormclick.wordpress.com/2019/05/11/pinata-time/

Questions for My Nominees

  1. What influenced you to start blogging?
  2. Have you ever thought of discontinuing your blog?
  3. What do you do when you are not writing?
  4. What is your biggest challenge to blogging?
  5. And, the “weird” one: If you were not a human what do you think you’d be?

My Ten Best Posts (in my opinion)

  1. The Landing  https://crookedcreek.live/2016/09/02/jacksonville-landing/
  2. The Good Wife https://crookedcreek.live/2016/09/03/the-good-wife/
  3. Phillip https://crookedcreek.live/2016/09/27/little-blue-bird/
  4. To Read  https://crookedcreek.live/2016/09/07/to-read/
  5. Death – Decisions  https://crookedcreek.live/2017/01/25/death-decisions/
  6. The Half Has Never Been Told https://crookedcreek.live/2019/02/01/book-review-2/
  7. Spring  https://crookedcreek.live/2019/04/15/spring/
  8. New Harmony 2  https://crookedcreek.live/2019/04/08/new-harmony-2/
  9. Solar Eclipse  https://crookedcreek.live/2017/08/23/solar-eclipse/
  10. The Green Book  https://crookedcreek.live/2018/12/16/movie-review-2/

I look forward to hearing from my nominees and seeing their responses. Again, thank you Sharvi for the nomination! 

The Parklands

Yesterday, I was on duty as a docent volunteer at the Parklands’ Visitor Center. It was a beautiful day in the 70s with lots of sunshine. That made it a great day for the school children who were spending time at Beckley Park. Two schools brought their students and it was fun seeing them exploring and playing. 

The Parklands provide not only playgrounds but miles of trails, acres, and acres of wild natural habitat to explore and a visitor center with many learning experiences. “Wednesday Wonders” class for preschoolers was taking place and the little ones were excited about each new experience. Enjoy the slideshow below that shows more random shots of the park and kids having fun!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Lastly, meet a newcomer, Ranger Randy. This turtle was born and raised in captivity for many years. It was donated to the park for children to enjoy and learn from. The Parklands does not remove creatures from their natural habitat. 

“Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it.” Rumi

 

https://www.theparklands.org

New Harmony 2

img_2900Retreat 

In May 2016 I felt the need to “get away” to somewhere peaceful and tranquil and I found that place in New Harmony, IN. It wasn’t so much getting away from anything, because my home with two lazy cats is pretty quiet and happy. It was more going TO someplace different. 

The quaint little town of New Harmony is about 140 miles from where I live in Louisville, KY. See short history and slide show of photos here:  https://crookedcreek.live/2019/04/05/new-harmony/

Attractions

img_2894“Attractions” may not be a good word for all the beautiful things to see and do in New Harmony because it might conjure up thoughts of crowded venues. It was actually the quiet that I first noticed. There was little traffic and most people got around on silent golf carts. I rented one and toured about leisurely from one point of interest to the next. These sites included the Roofless Church, Barn Abbey, Artists’ Guild, Gallery of Contemporary Art, Working Men’s Institute Museum, the Atheneum, and more. There was plenty to see on foot as well, walking among the historic businesses and residences. Gardens and trees surrounded everything and even covered the spaces between the sidewalks and streets. 

Meditation

Adding to the serenity of New Harmony were quiet gardens, a labyrinth, a maze and sculptures by various artists. Nature always nourishes my soul, but I found these prepared spaces enriching as well. 

 

Lodging and Food

At the time I visited there were several Bed & Breakfasts in operation. I stayed at the New Harmony Resort Inn and Conference Center which was clean and quiet. There were several dining establishments to choose from. I enjoyed eating at the Red Geranium which had a breakfast buffet.   

Nature

For me, the best part of my stay was the time I spent on hiking trails. They were scattered throughout the area, some wooded and remote, others by the Wabash River or the lake on the Conference Center grounds. 

 

New Harmony, IN

I recommend it for anyone who likes quiet, loves nature and wants to briefly experience a different way of life.    

img_2863

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.                                                   It will never fail you.”  Frank Lloyd Wright

Forest Giants

If you live in this area (KY, IN, TN) you are probably familiar with Bernheim Forest.  https://bernheim.org  If not you should be. Bernheim is a wonderful place to be free in nature. There are areas cultivated and manicured but many acres of natural forest as well. It has been a favorite place for our family to explore for many years.

A few days ago we drove to Bernheim to view some new residents. A GIANT family has moved there. Mama, Loumari, and her two children Nis and Elina are truly bigger than life. Here are a few photos of the giants made from all natural materials. 

IMG_8782IMG_8766IMG_8763

Bernheim Forest is a place where art, nature and humans dovetail perfectly!

P.M. Walk

The Parklands

How lucky we are who live near the Parklands.  Whether one is a biker, a runner or like me just a walker, there is a trail for you. Nature is abundant and stunning. Here are a few scenes my walk today. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, (s)he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.”   George Washington Carver

4V3J+qJ0TjK9+w3Hzzx9aA

Today’s Walk

Nothing exciting to report this morning, no deer, no trains, no Goatman, just the beauty and peace of nature. Here are a few random photos:

IMG_7631IMG_7636IMG_7639IMG_7642

I hope you too, find time to enjoy nature today, whether it is inside with your pet(s), watching birds through the window or walking outside in the sunshine. 

IMG_7628

Pope Lick Again

I sometimes wonder if we see what we look for. I realize that statement needs a lot of clarification. What I’m thinking about is my most recent walk at Pope Lick Park. I don’t take the same trails each day. I’m not in the same mood each day, although my mood always improves during my walks. 

Today Floyd’s Fork was high and muddy and I enjoyed it in the morning mist. Even though it was quite early, I was not alone. Bikers, walkers, runners and even one person on inline skates were out there with me. I add this for one of my readers who worries about my safety. I am one of many enjoying the Parklands and being truly alone is rare. 

IMG_7599

Usually when I am in nature I think of little else. Today was no exception, however there were no deer, squirrels or even birds to hold my attention. One of the first things I noticed was my least favorite living creature. You guessed it, spiders or at least their homes. https://crookedcreek.live/2016/09/21/one-fear-explained/ Right away I noticed a dew covered web on the ground that reminded me of “angel hair” we used to decorate trees with at Christmas when I was a kid. The matted looking web had a hole that lead to a tunnel. The photos are not as clear as I’d like, but perhaps you can see what I’m talking about. As I walked there were many more such structures mingled in the grass. I cannot help but wonder what other sights I might have missed because I was looking for these spider homes. 

 

With the editing feature on my camera, I was able to crop one photo with the resident builder at home. I assure you that I did not get that close! I hope you can see him here. 

fullsizeoutput_18ad

It was a day for spider exploration, but a good day for a walk nevertheless. They were minding their own business and I was very careful to avoid interrupting their day. 

One more photo, but from a different type home above in the trees. 

IMG_7606

The next time you see a spider web, please, pause and look a little closer. You’ll be seeing one of the most high-performance materials known to man. Cheryl Hayashi

Life is Short

There are things in life that just don’t seem worth it, especially when you consider that life is short. The older I get the more things I find not worth the effort, time or discomfort. I realize that this is in part due to simply being a senior, but I want more credit than that. Much of what I’ve decided life is too short for is due to experience and wisdom. 

Life’s Too Short

  • To wear a bra
  • To eat (or drink) kale
  • To not see the ocean as often as the opportunity presents itself

  • To not dig in the dirt
  • To not pause for nature

Dirt Bird nature-3313973_1280

  • To not “look up at the stars” as Stephen Hawking said
  • To spend it worrying about the past

dandelion-3391290_1280

  • To waste time on Facebook
  • To not spend time with loved ones including friends at every opportunity 
  • To not laugh
  • Did I mention wearing a bra?

How about you? Are there things you would list?

 

“I find it delightful that the optimal way I can live my life from moment-to-moment is also the optimal way I can prepare for my death, and equally delightful that acknowledging our future death is a prerequisite for living a truly joyful life now.”  Ram Dass

 

Photos by Pixabay

Soul 7

I Believe

I believe my Mother’s essence is in many objects that I have in my home. Not so much in the antique dishes or her personal jewelry, but in the things she infused with her love. I believe that her soul speaks to me through the stitches she loving put into place over the years of her life. I feel her love in the baby quilt she embroidered for her children, the ring pillow she made for my wedding, in the yarn she transformed into beautiful pieces of art and the scraps of material from the clothes she made for her granddaughters and their dolls, later quilted together.

I believe that my Aunt Thelma’s essence is strong in items she left behind and that she must be happy we find both uses and joy in them today. They are things that were dear to her and I have the privilege now of calling them mine. I love them not for themselves but because I loved her so much and I feel her presence when I see them.

She was taught by her church that it was a duty to bear children and it was probably her greatest disappointment in life that she did not conceive. She loved me and other nieces and nephews, she loved my daughters, too. How sweet her smile must be as she watches my granddaughter, who Aunt Thelma never met, sew pieces of lace from her 91 year old wedding dress into the wedding dress that Kate will wear next month. I know her soul is happy today. 

I believe my husband’s essence is the flowers that grow in our courtyard where he planted them. In caring for them, I continue to learn from him about the effort it takes to give beauty its fullest potential. His soul lives on nourishing the plants, keeping me company and giving me purpose. 

I believe that my maternal Grandparents’ essences are present when I pick up one of their Bibles. I know how important these books were to them and not just as a place to record family records of births, marriages, and deaths. They also recorded other important information such as their Social Security Numbers and the date of their last tetanus shots!

Seriously, the Bible was holy to them. They each read from it daily and they carried it with them to their little country church, Mt. Vernon Baptist, twice each Sunday and usually at least once in the middle of the week. Their souls are close by those worn and precious books. 

 

Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye… it also includes the inner pictures of the soul.” Evard Munch

Part 7 of 7

Theme photo in title by Pixabay