A New Companion

His name is Jocko. At least that’s the name that came immediately to mind when I decided he needed such a definition. I had just read a Dean Koontz series (Frankenstein), and that was the name of a small misshapen, but somewhat lovable character in the books, that plays a diverse but essential role in the story.

The name comes from the Hebrew, either Jacob, which means one who supplants, or from the name John, which means beloved of God.

However, there was a problem. At some point, last week, I found myself looking up a very different name and I can’t remember why I did so. That name was Jasper. It comes from the Greek and means keeper of the riches.

Amazingly enough, I find both names and their different meanings to be more than appropriate for my new daily companion. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Jocko, Jasper.

Crow
Yes, he is a crow. Shows up every morning somewhere between 7:30 and quarter of 9:00am. He sits atop a utility pole just outside the window next to my new desk and announces his presence with raucous caws. Sometimes, he flies around the building to serenade me from the fence just outside my bedroom window. Either way, he is bound and determined to make his presence known and felt.

Now to the issue of the appropriateness of his definitions (names). Many individuals find crows to be a negative nuisance, even dirty and nasty in some manner. But crows have a rich mythology and an even richer symbolism, if you are into that sort of thing.

There is a Native American story about the crow and how he came to be black all over. In the beginning he was a bird of bright rainbow plumage. Beautiful to behold, but because of all that admiration, he became arrogant. He hated his shadow because he felt it was dark and ugly, and refused to come out in daylight except at high noon when his shadow would not interfere with his beautiful appearance. If it did so, he would peck at it, trying to get it to leave or disappear. He continued to peck at it until one day, in a fit of retaliation, his shadow rose up and swallowed him whole. And the crow lost his beautiful rainbow plumage and has been totally black ever since.

The crow is closely related to the much larger raven. Both of them, because of their intense black coloring, are often seen as shape-shifters. Familiars to shamen, individuals who  are closely acquainted with the Life/Death/Rebirth cycles of existence, and often believed to be shape-shifters in their own right, able to alter their physical beings to those of animals and the like.

Also in Native American spirituality, the crow is often seen as a symbol of higher law, that which exists above man made law.

We humans are imperfect at best. We all have flaws. Yet there are those who would believe that they should and can live above that reality, going so far as to think they can control others and use them to satisfy their own greed and need for some sense of power. That is what the Koontz series is all about: a man who believes he can remake humankind and do a much better job of it than any God.  In the story, Jocko is a type of shape-shifter, able to do incredibly flexible things with his body. He hates himself, because he is one of a kind, a sort of rebirth from one of the above mentioned man’s creations. He is also the wonderful humor aspect I have come to expect in a Dean Koontz story, as well as playing a significant role in the defeat of the bad guy.

One who supplants is an individual who takes the place or position of another, as Jacob did in the story of he and his brother Esau. Or, as the black all over crow comes to take the place of that beautifully feathered bird that was first created. Man can make as many plans as he wants to, but higher law will eventually teach him the lesson of hubris that even the crow had to learn. And God will always love humankind.

So both names are seemingly appropriate. Here’s Jocko/Jasper in full cry.

DSCN4551aI believe he comes to tell me each day, that no matter what my plans may be, there is always a higher purpose to consider.

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A Bit of Beautiful Buoyancy

My sister has decided that I must get out into fresh air and sunshine. Not sure why that is so but it could be any number of things. I am still slowly unpacking my belongings from the move I made over two weeks ago. I do a bit of that each day, then break to read and spend time getting acquainted with my new computer. Very slowly, my new home is taking shape. But, I am also enjoying the unpacking of belongings, some of which haven’t seen daylight for years, and taking the time to carefully choose where they should rest at this point in my journey.

Two weeks ago, Mary came and took me to the Botanical Gardens. It was a beautiful day of sunshine and soft breezes. I hadn’t been out with my camera in far too long, so of course, I over compensated for that lack of photographs to play with. After downloading them to the computer, I did find a new effect to use on some of them.

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These were all put through an app effect called “Vignette” in my Paint.net program which is a free download available online. I think they would make excellent greeting cards or collages as well as wonderfully framed photos for any wall.

The following week, Mary called to say she was packing a lunch and we’d find a place while out for a ride. We headed toward the Bay shoreline and ended up at a small park near the UW extension campus. The weather, once again, was warm and breezy and we shared bits of our lunch with a sea gull until he turned down a home grown cherry tomato and, heaven forbid, a small chocolate covered cashew. That might have been best for him, but it was unthinkable to two chocoholics.

From there, we slowly made our way to the mouth of the Fox river and I was able to reopen my relationship with the Pelicans who inhabit that area every year and, at least for me, feed a natural fascination.

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Pelicans are a symbol of buoyancy because they can remain afloat even in rough waters. They can dive deep for the sustenance they need, but then pop right back up after finding it. They are easy to distinguish, even in flight. Not only because of those long huge beaks, but because the black hem on their white wings is so distinct.

My sister really understood what I needed at this point of my journey. Sunlight, warm breezes, beautiful blossoms, and the buoyancy of pelicans. As well as a loving companion who likes to laugh at shared moments from years in the past. I am blessed.

Elizabeth Crawford  7/16/15

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Earth Day Challenge

Earth Day Challenge
https://1sojournal.wordpress.com

planet in palm

Welcome to The Earth Day Challenge for Artists, Poets, and Writers. You may post as many times as you like. Each post URL may be entered below in the comments section. Url only and your name, please. Visit others and repost their contributions if you like. Remember, we are giving voice to our Mother Earth.

Have a great day!

Elizabeth

 

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Suggestions For Earth Day Posting

Attention:

Artists, Poets, and Writers

Suggestions For Earth Day Postings

As promised, I have gathered a few suggestions for postings to meet the Earth Day challenge to speak for our Mother Earth.

Images: with or without accompanying words:

Example:  https://1sojournal.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/mandala-stone-3/

Poetry: Bits or whole pieces

Example:

Self-Portrait

Loves Nature in small and large
creatures, furred and four-legged,
feathered and winged, from hawks
to hummingbirds, rabbits to big cats
and bears. Shares that love with all
who care and are willing to lean in
and listen.

Prose Writings: Essays, Articles, personal encounters or experiences:

Example:

A Tiger Named Pain (personal experience essay)

https://1sojournal.wordpress.com/2008/12/13/a-tiger-named-pain/

I have recently discovered a new poem form, created by another online poet, Hannah Gosselin, and is called The Boomerang Poem. It is written completely in metaphor (no similes), and pushes the mind into new and even, adventurous places. And because I am a poet, as well as an essayist, it occurred to me that the form would work for both. You will find the form and a detailed explanation here:

https://wordrustling.wordpress.com/2014/06/12/this-poem-is-a-hoe-the-wheel-and-a-sphere/

Music: Songs and music that celebrate the beauty of our planet home.

Examples:

It goes without saying, that you may have your own ideas. All are welcome. Please be aware that you are not limited to only one posting, or to one blog entry. Make sure to share the post/s to social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Each time you post, you are invited to share that URL here, in the comments section. As always, read some of those posts, and if you are inclined, share the post on either your own blog or social media. You may also want to introduce your post/s with the words: For the Earth Day Challenge and then put the URL of this blog below that. I will create a new entry here on Earth Day, April 22, 2015.

 

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Challenge To Artists, Poets, and Writers

Attention

This challenge is being addressed to all artists,musicians, poets, and writers.

          Partaking in our various artistic endeavors we are, of course, expressing ourselves. However, we often are giving voice to those who have none. Those who have been silenced; either by circumstances or by individuals. Many of those silenced are forced, or coerced, into mute resistance (if they are capable of resisting at all).

As a poet and writer, I take that responsibility with concern and care. Earth Day is April 22 and our world, planet, home, is slowly and systematically being destroyed. The earth has no voice, although there are many (like myself) who believe she cries and groans with each tree that is bulldozed, each meadow or field of wildflowers that is paved over, each rock formation that is pulverized, and every swampland that is sucked dry by the human need for more of whatever it thinks it needs. All such actions are underlined by a deliberate ignorance, or denial, of the life such actions destroy; the waste, or fouling, of essential elements for sustaining continued life such as air and water.

So, with that in mind, I ask you to give the earth a voice on April 22, in whatever means of expression you employ to make that expression as public as possible. I would encourage you to use whatever is available to you; be that a blog, social networks such as Facebook or Twitter, a personal online journal, etc. To that end, I will come back here on the 18th of April to offer a few suggestions, ideas, or (if you prefer) prompts. You are free to use them (or not) as you see fit. We have a great deal of technology at our fingertips. Let’s use it and let our world speak. To further encourage you to participate, I am offering just one example, today, of writing that I myself have done. And yes, that means you are not, in any way, limited to only one form or piece of expression. Go through your files. Find images, photos, poems, bits of mythos, and stories. Dust them off and let them speak. This is one of my old pieces that I intend to post on April 22.

https://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/love-loves-difficult-things/

Actually, that’s two pieces. The image is a digital painting I created.

So, are you up to the challenge? Do you dare?

Elizabeth  4/13/15

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Digital Doodling

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Used this pen and ink “zen doodle” to decorate a poetry post yesterday. You may find the poem at http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/

Went back later to play with it digitally, using the kaleidoscope app. Some very interesting things happened, even though it started out like a regular session with the app. There is some amount of deconstruction when I do the designs because many times the patterns get so busy they seem to lose their eye appeal and get too distracting. That happened with this image.

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This started out very busy because the vine part of the image sort of took center stage. But all I wanted was this central part of the design. However, when I got that, the rest of the design was washed out by an all white background. Changed that to black and liked it much better. To give you a better idea of the steps in the process, here are three images that are all the same design. Just click on them to enlarge them for easier viewing.

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As I added the number of petals (extensions) to the kaleidoscope image, I was really pleased with the outcomes.

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And another set, using deconstruction.

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doodle1k3But the best of all surprises came with this beauty. I think it is exquisite.

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Notes: If you are interested in the creation of that first ‘doodle’, you may find the original Zentangle site, and instructions for drawing some of the patterns here:

https://www.zentangle.com/

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Laughing Out Loud and A Lesson

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I did say I would write about that long ago entry that had me laughing out loud. Better yet, I think I’ll just copy the entry here:

5/22/93

This morning at 11:30, Joan was driving and started to laugh. She said,

“We got up at six am, got groceries, you unraveled my shorts, while I was wearing them, we laughed so hard we both peed in our pants, we changed clothes in the back of the van in a supermarket parking lot in Flagstaff, Arizona, then drove through the painted desert and the Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi reservation, around inside Marble Canyon, and across the Colorado River. If that’s not enough, now we are in dense forest lands thick with massive Ponderosa Pines, we’ve seen an entire herd of deer grazing in a green clearing, looked more closely at a bubbling clear running mountain stream, and marveled at three to four foot snow drifts in the roadside ditches. All of that in five hours time. What could be left?”

Just a canyon, Joan, the Grand Canyon.

What can I say, we were Wisconsin yokels, first time out and committing gluttony of the eye. And I didn’t unravel all of her shorts. Do you remember, several years back, when they started making shorts with two contrasting colors for hems? It made it appear like the wearer had put on two pairs of shorts, one longer than the other? That’s what she was wearing when she climbed into the back of the van to find a place for the groceries we had purchased and were both carrying. Behind her, I looked up to see a small white thread dangling from the bottom hem, reached up and yanked it to snap it off. It didn’t snap. The entire hem, except for two or three stitches at the front, promptly came undone and was now dangling behind her knee.

With a few very colored wisecracks, we convulsed into raucous laughter and yes, both wet ourselves and had to change clothes in the back of the van while the other stood guard outside, all while trying to quell bursts of laughter at the unexpected situation we found ourselves in. It was a good way to begin the day, but we both agreed that it was also good that no one else was around to view the antics.

Just after noon, we checked into the Lodge on the North Rim of the Canyon. We had been planning this trip for about three months, and each time we called to try to make reservations, we had been told there were no openings. In a last ditch effort, somewhere from an Oklahoma motel, I had once again called the Lodge and was told that yes,  there had been a cancellation and we could have one of the individual cabins for three days and nights. Synchronicity is a wonderful thing.

That evening, after roaming around and getting our bearings, we decided to have a picnic on the rim. We had a table no more that six feet from that ancient rift. Alongside the table was a huge tree. As we were setting up for a dinner of grilled hamburgers, a huge raven flew to the tree and perched in one of its branches. It talked to us throughout our dinner, and we took turns talking back. It obviously had no fear of our presence, and at one point flew down and perched on the edge of the trash receptacle very close to where we were sitting. We asked it if it would guide us through our visit. It rocked on the edge of the metal container, bobbing it’s head up and down, cawing in a deep gravelly voice, perhaps telling us, “tomorrow, tomorrow.”

As I write all of this, I can’t help but see the symbolism in that final image of the raven to one side of us and the deepening shadows of the stone rift to other side. But in that single moment, we simply knew ourselves to blessed and were grateful to be alive.

Note: Image is a digital painting done many years ago.

 

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