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Friday, January 13, 2017

Tree of Life

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remember

One day at a time
One way at a time
One person at a time
We each have the capacity
To be the change we want to see
And make the life we want to live
By extending
And receiving
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I found this picture on Facebook earlier
I really liked it
So I am sharing it with you today


were it not for us

Who would have thought 
the unthinkable
Who would have dreamed
the impossible
Who would have sought
the unattainable
Who would have seemed
unknowable
Were it not for 
the dreamers
the schemers
the artists
the writers
Were it not
for us?

~ Ellen Apple
13 January 2017




Thursday, January 12, 2017

war in the basement

we played war in the basement
when I was a young girl
with an ancient doughboy helmet from WWI
liberated from my grandmother's attic
and empty ammo clips and many pairs of earplugs
that came from the first television war -
you remember that one?
the war that wasn't a war
Vietnam
old red ink from a corner shelf
cloths from the ragbag for bandages
Stat!
Incoming!
our hardware was an old bb-gun
that never did shoot right
and cap pistols - of course
we had parades in circles around the washing machine
blowing on a recorder and banging
on a toy xylophone with sticks as hammers
I fear we were rather eclectic in our
historical appropriations
all conflicts were sourced for
our tailor-made assaults
but movies and Walter Cronkite taught us well
the words and deeds we emulated
now I watch
Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow
and fear for the future of
the precious wee ones in my life
weighs me down
and I wonder how our parents and
teachers did not expire from the weight
so much sorrow poured in their souls
all the while we played
war in the basement

~ Ellen Apple
12 Jan 2017

when given naught



Who would have thought
E'en when given naught
On which to build a dream
Which to others might seem
Just a child's whimsy
"Banking on hope is just ... flimsy"
That letter on letter
Word on word
A tome for the ages is just so crafted
Lost to the masses if not first drafted
In the soul and the mind
That but for happenstance we find
In the dark hours of sorrow
When others joy we borrow
It pulls us to joy
Like a a squeaky wooden toy
Tied with a red string
Just an insignificant thing
That one act of grace
Humankind's face

~ Ellen Apple 
12 Jan 2017

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A New Year's Missive



I wrote this on 12/31/2013:

2013 has not been the best of years for some people, 2013 has been an average year for some people, 2013 has been the most incredible year ever for some people. We pause and reflect, we say goodbye then hello. We say good riddance and I shall miss you. Looking back is human nature, moving forward is a fact of science. We cannot freeze time, we cannot have any do-overs, we can only move forward.

Am I being too pragmatic, too matter of fact? Life is what it is, but what we take from it is the one thing we do have control over. Do we learn our lessons? Do we use our experiences, our opportunities to better the life and experiences that are ever coming at us?

I am here to tell you, dwelling on the past does not work. I know too many people that are fixated on a past glory or tragedy and they are not content.

Where is this meandering headed? Happy New Year. May the days to come bring you balance, contentment, love, grace, and hope.

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I shared this on 12/31/2012:




I wrote this on 12/31/2012:

I know a woman, a widow, in North Carolina who has two daughters, both married. The older daughter married a minister and they never had any children. The younger daughter, who is my age, married a man who had a son. She never had any children either. Her stepson committed suicide when he was 16. 

This woman and both of her daughters (I have known these people for over 20 years) have always been very materially motivated, very career oriented. They have stuff. Lots of stuff. They are not really happy though. The two daughters will be lonely, I fear, surrounded by all their stuff, because they live not in joy but in fear someone will get their stuff.

I do not have a lot of stuff. I am more prone to give things away than accumulate. I value intangibles, I think.

Just thinking about things today. Maybe I should have concentrated more on stuff when I was 30. Intangibles are not real good at paying the bills.


This year this has caught my attention:



I also wrote this on my Facebook timeline earlier in the week:

I have a small ritual I perform on New Year's Eve each year wherein I write on small slips of paper things I want to let go of and leave behind as I step into a new year with all the promise and possibility it holds. I then burn them, either in a small cauldron or in a bonfire if the weather permits having one. The ashes are carried away into the ether, and I go unencumbered into the new year. At times, I ask people if they would like me to include their petitions - but only people I know personally so I can gather the slips and include them in my fire of new beginnings and they can know the petition has not been read by any eyes save their own. This year, if you have a desire to be included, set your list on your heart and enter your name in a comment for this post. I will burn a blank paper for the list you have in your heart as I burn the slips I have for myself.
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Ellen

Tonight, we say a heartfelt farewell to 2016 and a hopeful hello to 2017. We think this has been a rough year – or a great many of us seem to – though I suspect that it has been no worse than most, and better than more than a few. There are those of us who have faced sorrow and loss that brought us to our knees, yet there are those who have triumphed and excelled in ways we never thought possible.

There is ever that pragmatist in me, those cellular memories that came from my paternal heritage. My father, Poss Smith, was the most pragmatic of people. He had a dry wit, and seemed unflappable in most circumstances. I shared extensively regarding my father on New Year's Eve 2011.


Later, I am burning my name slips for those whose accepted my offer. With Roger and I included, there are about 24 names for whom I am performing this ritual. I am amazed that 2017 is upon us. I feel strongly that these are times that hold high stakes on many fronts, and I am both optimistic and trepidatious to see what the next twelve months bring.

In closing I share again my words for 2017

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~ Ellen Apple
12/31/2016




Monday, December 26, 2016

Burrowing In


I was in a local store the first week in December and was enthralled with a soft, supple, luxurious throw. I purchased it for Roger the Tall for Christmas. As I am writing this, he is burrowed in that throw, snuggling with the Calico Queen Mabon. Though he is sleeping (I know this because of the soft snores), his body is resting, recharging, and replenishing.

Burrow: noun
1. a hole or tunnel in the ground made by a rabbit, fox, or similar animal for habitation and refuge.
2. a place of retreat; shelter or refuge.

2016 has been/was a tumultuous year. Not just in the United States but across the Earth. Major changes have occurred politically and there have been no small number of natural and manufactured disasters.  Economies and lifestyles people thought were secure and impenetrable have been upended and rearranged almost beyond recognition. For many, reality has been rearranged.

I was speaking with a dear friend this week and she asked me, “What do you see 2017 being?”

What followed was a discussion that lasted close to an hour, wherein we spoke of the overall mood of humankind considering recent events – not just locally or nationally, but globally. 

I shared with her that I see the year 2017 as being a time of more individual introspection, of drawing closer metaphorically – spiritually – physically – to our own core selves and values.

A time of burrowing in, to better withstand and not just survive but thrive in the months ahead.

A time to strengthen our beliefs.

A time to better define and replenish the bonds of our tribes.

Burrowing in is not to imply hiding, burying one’s head in the sand so to speak. For me, this burrowing in speaks of solidifying and strengthening myself to ride the peaks and valleys of events over which I have no actual control.

Reestablishing relationships I have let fall to the wayside, and finally letting go of some people and things that I know are to my detriment.

Shoring up my network. Keeping connected to my support system. Maintaining a more consistent sharing of energy and positivity.

Keeping grounded by limiting the drains on my time and energy that lull me into a stupor of passivity.

May your tribe be cohesive, may your spirit be replenished, may your refuge be secure.


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~Ellen Apple
12/26/2016



Thursday, November 17, 2016

30 days of thankfulness. Day 17.

Vincent van Gogh is a gift that just keeps giving to the world. Starry Night is arguably his most famous painting. Don McLean wrote the song "Vincent" about van Gogh and Starry Night. Then Roberta Flack came out with "Killing Me Softly" that, according to stories I read decades ago, was written after hearing McLean performing "Vincent". More recently, there is an incredible episode of the BBC television show Doctor Who wherein the Doctor and Amy spend time with Vincent, and Starry Night is one of his works discussed in the show. 

All four can render me a blubbering mess. My chest aches with the beauty of the painting, the words of the songs, the telling of the tale. Either one of the songs is a blessing as an "earwig" - and just reading the lyrics I can hear Don or Roberta singing those words that transport me to a place that gives me such joy and sorrow and hope and despair all jumbled together, like the swirls of stars in the night sky of the painting. 

Today I am thankful for the gifts of the soul that others give to the world - and to me - through their talents and obsessions. Humankind is infinitely blessed in myriad ways, all because of a painter who was a commercial failure when he suicided himself and one of those stars he gave us dimmed for eternity.





Lyrics
Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer's day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land
Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now
Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue
Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand
Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now
For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night
You took your life, as lovers often do
But I could've told you Vincent
This world was never meant for
One as beautiful as you
Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frame-less heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget
Like the strangers that you've met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow
Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they're not listening still
Perhaps they never will
Written by Don Mclean • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

ROBERTA FLACK LYRICS


"Killing Me Softly With His Song"


Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

I heard he sang a good song
I heard he had a style
And so I came to see him
To listen for a while
And there he was this young boy
A stranger to my eyes

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

I felt all flushed with fever
Embarassed by the crowd
I felt he found my letters
And read each one out loud
I prayed that he would finish
But he just kept right on

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

He sang as if he knew me
In all my dark despair
And then he looked right through me
As if I wasn't there
And he just kept on singing
Singing clear and strong

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song

[Break]

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me

He was strumming my pain
Yeah, he was singing my life
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly
With his song