soft foot and arms too

Tenderfoot reminds me of my sister and our family’s summer visits to Lake Matinenda. We lived in tents. My grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins were all in cabins.

We were always the last to head home. We usually mislaid our flipflops, towels, t-shirts and flashlights, so we head down the path in the dark. When I was little I have cuts every summer in the arch of my foot. I learn to walk in the dark on the path with the foot curled and lightly, so that if there is something sharp I can change weight to the other foot. If there are two sharps in a row, usually rocks, I get cut anyhow, but less often. I still love to take my shoes off on the paths there.

I would go this summer except for the oxygen. We did not bring in electricity. I do not quite feel up to acquiring a solar panel/battery combination that is adequate this year. It’s also the heavy lifting. We drink the lake water and bring it up in buckets. We do filter it, but carrying the buckets. It just does not seem like a brilliant idea alone with my lungs still challenged.

Anyhow, here is another soft footed and soft armed creature. This is taken at the Baltimore Aquarium a few years ago.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: tenderfoot.

wild game

My maternal family played a wild game every summer when I was growing up. Wild in that we were in cabins, on a lake, no electricity, no television, living in tents and cabins. My grandparents had two cabins, my Uncles each had one and we were in tents. I loved our tents, though. I still have the tent that my sister and I used. It is over 50 years old now and doesn’t leak. We had very strict rules about tent care. And canoe care. And we could use all the tools but had to PUT THEM BACK. We had aladdin lamps and candles and drank the lake water. We filter it now, and the cabins are still there.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: game.

Q for quiet

I am blogging A to Z about artists, particularly women artists and mostly about my mother, Helen Burling Ottaway.

Landscapes can be so quiet. This watercolor is of Lake Matinenda, in Ontario, Canada, where my family has summer cabins. They are one room cabins and old and very beloved. I love the rocks at the lake and the reflections in the water. I spend every minute that I can outdoors there. If it is pouring rain or I am cooking, I am in the cabin. I sleep in a tent, because we slept in tents when I was growing up there. I like to feel the earth under the tent and the sound of the water on the rocks and the wind in the trees.

ATOZBLOGGINGCHALLENGE2022 #art #Women artists #Helen Burling Ottaway #ATOZCHALLENGE #Christine Robbins Ottaway #APRILATOZ

For more information about the #AtoZChallenge, check out this link.

pleasures

I put up the picture of my friends canoeing under simple pleasures.

Yet it isn’t that simple, right?

We have to get to the lake. My friends live in Virginia, I live in Washington State. I fly to Sault St Marie, US and they fly to Sault St Marie, Canada. I take a taxi across the border and meet them with their rental car. We drive to the Lake, after stopping for supplies. The motor boat is ready for us. There is no road to the cabin, we go by boat.

The canoe is a Penn Yan that belongs to my family. I don’t know how old it is. It is treasured and cared for carefully.

The family needs life jackets, paddles and instructions on getting in and out of the canoe. One friend is a very experienced kayaker, so he doesn’t need help. The other two are less experienced. Sun hats are found and put on.

We are not going that far. I will be in a second canoe, a very tippy small one. We have lunch with us and water.

Not so simple after all, but definitely pleasurable.

https://woodencanoemuseum.org/builder-history/penn-yan-boat-company

the problem with angels

the problem with angels
is that they aren’t grey

nor do they have color

they are black
or white

sort of boring, really

pick one side
good or evil
night or day
male or female

I would rather be fluid

I want to be able to transform

liquid to solid
solid to gas
gas to solid
gas to liquid

flow around things

seep into the earth

always always
return to the sea

keep your wings

project black or white
as you choose
on me

while I flick water at you
and go for a swim

_____________________

written 2014

trilogy

The Lady Ox trilogy

The first poem in this trilogy was written in 1984. The next two were written twenty years later. Like ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail.

The first poem popped into my head while I was thinking about flowers. The second two were both problem poems. Most of my poems are problem poems: I sit down with a problem that I am working on and start writing about it. I do not know where the poem is going to go and I am always surprised. And it often goes somewhere that I don’t expect. Often it is a map for where I aspire to go emotionally, but usually I am not there yet when I finish the poem.

I have seen the frogs

I have seen the frogs
in the northwest

all you have to do is be quiet
near the puddles
or a pond

walk there very very quietly

in the spring they are singing
to each other
calling
a symphony of longing and joy
and they don’t hear me
when I walk very quietly
at the end of the world

as a child my father teaches me
to catch frogs

very quietly
approach the pond
or puddle

if the frog hears you
it will duck under water
you will only see a ripple
spreading out

or it will hop
into the woods
and hide

my father
would occasionally use frogs
as bait
to catch northern pike
a live frog on a hook
frogs scream
when you stick a hook through their back

I hope they go into shock then
and don’t feel much

one we’d seen this
my cousins and my sister and I
when my father got his fishing rod
we’d run through the woods
yelling “Hide the frogs, hide the frogs!”
and we would catch any frog
that was dumb enough not to hide
and quickly set it in the woods
to hide it from my father

we would check the puddles, too
feeling in the brownish muck
to make sure no frog was hidden
in the shallow puddle
come out, you must go in the woods
to survive

to catch the smart ones
normally
we would tiptoe to the puddle
hoping a frog was facing the other way
if they saw us, they were gone

slowly bend down, hand out
behind the frog
reach gently
grab just above the back legs
not too hard, don’t squish it

I was under ten
on a canoe trip
when I run to my father
“A frog! A frog! The biggest frog I’ve seen!
Papa, come help!”
My father comes.
An enormous frog is beside the canoe.
“Catch it.” says my father.
“Please! You catch it!” I beg.
My father creeps up on the frog.
His hand moves out slowly.
He grabs the frog, who tries to jump
and croaks, a bass, huge mouth.
“It’s a young bullfrog,” says my father.
“It will get even bigger.”
He hands it to me.
I take it carefully, shaking a little.
“We could eat it’s legs.”
“NO!” I say. I just want to hold it for a minute.
I turn it over and gently stroke it’s throat.
The frog goes limp, mesmerized.
I set it down gently, right side up,
near the water.
I squat by the frog and wait.
I am waiting for it to wake up.
The frog is so beautiful.
I wait until it wakes up
and returns home.

Game ball

Warning: this post contains some time out words.

How do I process the game you played?

I am the subject of the game.

Or the victim.

Or no, I refuse. It is your game. I was not playing. I am the honey badger, metabolism so fast that I have to run from one meal to the next or else I will starve. I eat whatever I can find: cobras, bees, anything. I eat or I die.

You have tethered a honey badger to oxygen by playing a game.

I am the football and you have been kicking me, throwing me, catching me, slamming me to the ground as hard as you can in the end zone.

And now that I am worn and damaged and torn, you’ll toss me away, not even notice me, and find a new ball.

You will need a new football. To play with.

I don’t envy that person.

The truth is, it will be one of you. The group will rest on their laurels, oh, we nearly killed her, wasn’t it great? We showed her. She is so stupid, took her what, 21 years to fucking figure it out? And she thinks she’s so smart.

I was looking for food because I am always hungry. The food insecurity goes back to infancy. Maybe to the womb: my mother says she was not to gain weight and spent the entire pregnancy longing for a gigantic ice cream Sunday. Think of being in a womb, attacked by antibodies to tuberculosis, and starving all the time. Might be a little bit worried when birth happens. Fuck, I am going through a tunnel, what horrors await me here? But maybe there will be more food.

Maybe someone will love me. Maybe there will be someone for me to love. And feed. We can give each other food.

My advice to you is don’t be the ball. I was the ball for 21 years. I was so hungry the whole time, for food and for love, that I kind of noticed but dismissed it as unimportant. Food and love were more important. Work and my patients were more important. You don’t matter and your games are trivial.

It will be the weakest one who will be the ball. You worry that you are the one. You should worry. You had better look strong right away. Post some horror. Write something really tough. Don’t show anyone any niggling doubts. Um, the ball is wearing oxygen. I am feeling a little bad about this. Are you feeling bad about this? The ball isn’t just crazy, it’s hurt. Actually crazy is an illness too: I know that you discriminate and think that cancer is a legitimate illness and that mania isn’t, but you are assholes. No, you’re too small and pathetic to be an asshole. You are a one celled animal that is clinging to a hair on an asshole and you get shat on daily. And you know, deep deep in your tiny shrunken heart, that you deserve it.

I am so glad I am not you.

I am tethered to oxygen. But I am healing. I don’t think you can. You are locked in your small sick pathetic triangulation competition and pretending that it’s a game that it’s ok that you are just playing.

Ick.

Meanwhile, the oxygen is portable.

I have food and I have love and I have work to do that lifts me on wings. I will go too near the sun and light on fire and fall burning, but that’s ok. I’ve done it before. The ocean heals me, always. It is so much fun to fly!

This is in memory of my mother, my father and my sister. I miss all three and I love them and they love me. Today is the day my mother died. The longer we live, the more days are days when someone that we love died. But they are still here. They are in the rocks and the sky and the trees and the coffee cup. They are not in sugary donuts or foods that cause heart attacks. But they are all around us, cradle us, still love us. Joy to you and the memories of your loved ones who have gone on. Blessings.

more grief and loss

Well, that’s the way it is.

The picture is from Lake Matinenda in Ontario.