Monthly Archives: September 2015

Invent Your Own Life

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Whatever your resources, the world is yours to the exact degree to which you summon the fortitude and faith to step away from convention and orthodoxy and invent your own life.

I read that quote in a work of nonfiction called “Something Wild in the Blood” by Bob Shacochis. I changed the verb tense to read more smoothly when taken out of the larger piece of writing. I entirely agree with Mr. Shacochis’ sentiment.

Encanto Park

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Encanto Park is on 15th Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona. I spent a couple of hours there one afternoon.     IMG_2022

The coolest thing about Encanto Park is the Community Fishing Water,  IMG_1937 otherwise known as a pond. Maybe it’s a lake. It’s pretty big. I guess it’s cool for desert city dwellers to be able to fish.  IMG_1943

There are islands in different parts of the lake, like this one:   IMG_2026            Some of the islands have waterfalls, like these  IMG_1975     IMG_1976.

There are lots of water birds in the lake.

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Duck…

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Duck, Duck, Duck, Duck, Duck, Duck…..

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Duck…

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GOOSE!!!!!

Some of the water birds get out of the water and walk around on the land. IMG_1968           IMG_2042      That’s why there is bird shit all over the ground in Encanto Park. There are a large number of pigeons in the park as well. It is important to watch not only where you walk, but also where you sit. There is much bird shit in Encanto Park.

IMG_1979 Encanto Park has a large, covered playground for kids. There were actually kids playing on it when I was there, so I took a photo from a distance. I didn’t want the parents to think I was some kind of pervert taking pictures of their playing kids.

IMG_2016     This is the building housing the restrooms. These were the cleanest restrooms I have ever seen in a park. The doors to the stalls locked securely, and there was soap in the dispensers. No creepy vibe here!

There are several bridges crossing the lake so folks can get from one side to the other. IMG_1954

This is the Little Red Bridge. It has a story.      IMG_2023                   The original Little Red Bridge was constructed between 1935 and 1938. People took family pictures and wedding photos on the Little Red Bridge. In 2008, the bridge was barricaded because of structural decay; then, during a storm, a large tree was uprooted and fell on top of the bridge. The city of Phoenix decided to tear down the bridge and not replace it. BOO! Then folks got together and rebuilt the Little Red Bridge. Yippee! Read more about it here: http://www.structuralgrace.com/featured-project-details.asp?ProjectID=27.

IMG_2035 There is an amusement park on an island within Encanto Park. The Lady of the House told me it’s really geared toward little kids. IMG_2031 There is a train that leaves from the amusement park and takes passengers on a trip around Enchanted Island. IMG_2037

There is a dusty, shady sitting area within the park which, according to these bricks, is called the Garden of Dreams.

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The middle brick on the top row reads, “Welcome to the Garden of Dreams.”

IMG_2029     On the benches inside the sitting area were these two plaques.     IMG_2028     This larger plaque was in the ground.    IMG_2027    The Compassionate Friends is a group which supports families after the death of a child.  Find out more about them here: http://www.compassionatefriends.org/home.aspx.

Here is an article (http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2011/09/25/20110925phoenix-encanto-park-garden-dreams.html) which tells how the Garden of Dreams came into being.

Near the entrance to the park, there is a statue dedicated to “World Progress Through Scientific Research in the Laboratory.”     IMG_1983     IMG_1985     You can find out more about it here: http://arizonaoddities.com/2014/01/encanto-park-statue-dedicated-to-scientific-progress/.

IMG_1977     As seems to be the case in most (all?) Phoenix parks, there are a lot of palm trees in Encanto Park.

I witnessed only two mildly interesting events while I was in Encanto Park.

A man offered to sell me a old-school Singer sewing machine. I was in the parking lot, walking towards my van, and I saw a man pushing one of those collapsible metal carts that people who live in big cities and don’t have cars use to bring home their groceries. The cart was packed full of stuff, and at first I thought the man (a fellow probably in his early 60s) was homeless. Then I realized the cart was packed with fishing gear: rods and reels, tackle boxes, a chair…everything he needed for a couple of hours utilizing the community fishing water. We said hello and he asked me if I knew anyone who was looking to buy a sewing machine. He said it was an old Singer, and gestured over to his truck. The sewing machine was in the bed of his pickup, up against the cab. He said he’d gotten it out of a storage locker. I asked him what he was asking for it, and he said $100. He told me that new Singers are running $500 (he called the Singer store, he told me), and they’re only guaranteed for one year. I told him I wasn’t looking for a sewing machine. (Where would it go in my van?!!) However, if I had been looking for a sewing machine, I would have been interested in this one. (He left the sewing machine in the back of his truck, with a sign on it saying it was for sale for $125. He must be a trusting man to leave it and not worry that it would be stolen. Maybe it’s too heavy to be carried away.)

The other event happened while I was sitting at a picnic table under a ramada near the playground. I was looking through the photos I had taken, deleting those I didn’t like. A grandmother deposited her two grandbabies on the playground and sat at the other table under the ramada. I wasn’t paying much attention to her until I hear the unmistakable click click noise of a nail clipper. I looked over to find that Abuela had kicked off her flip flop and was trimming her toenails while she had a moment’s peace.

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Little Van Lost

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While I was house and pet sitting for C. in Austin in December of 2012, there was some excitement with my van.

When I got home from Christmas supper, there was nowhere to park the van on the block where I was staying while house sitting, so I parked it around the corner. I didn’t drive the next day, so I just left it where it was, hoping that when I did drive it again, I would be able to park closer to the house when I returned.

Around three o’clock in the  afternoon on the second day after Christmas, I decided to go out, drive to the post office and then the auto parts store to get some oil for Old Betsy (the van) who burns up the stuff fairly quickly.

When I turned the corner, I didn’t see the van, but I thought I would see it as I got closer. I got closer, but no van. Then I realized it was gone. Finding the van gone is one of my biggest fears. Not only will I lose my home if I lose my van, I’ll lose all my stuff too. I started panicking. Where did it go?

I started looking for no parking signs, but there were none. I started knocking on doors, wondering if there was some parking code the people in the neighborhood knew about. Did someone call and have the van towed because it had been parked on their block for a day and a half? Maybe at least someone would know how to find the van if it had been towed. But no one answered the doors.

I saw a woman turn and walk down a nearby alley and started running after her, yelling, “Excuse me.” She didn’t live in the neighborhood, just came over to walk, so she had no idea about the parking situation, but she agreed with me that if I were in a no parking zone (or a no parking on Wednesday zone) there should be a sign.

Right about then, I looked at the street and realized the edge of the road had been torn up in preparation for some kind of road repair. Then I remembered vaguely that this morning when I was walking the dog and we turned the opposite way down the alley, I had heard a bunch of noise, as if some sort of road construction (destruction) was going on.

I looked down the street and way at the other end I saw some heavy machinery. I started walking briskly (half running, really) toward a city streets truck. When I got to the truck and started frantically explaining I thought my van had been towed, the driver man was very nice. He said, “You walked all the way from Tom Green?” (That’s the name of the street I was staying on.) He said it as if I had walked six miles, but i couldn’t have gone more than six blocks. He offered to drive me back. I was trying to make him understand that my van was GONE, but then I realized he was telling me it was just moved. Not impounded. Just moved. Maybe just around the block. He asked me if I had looked for it on Tom Green. I hadn’t, but I assured him that if it had just been moved, if it had not been impounded, I would find it. “You saved my life!” I told him. I had been imagining impound fees, tow fees, being hundreds of dollars in debt to the city of Austin. But thankfully, no, it had just been moved and was parked on Tom Green, one block from where I was staying.

Betsy had herself an adventure.

Ecstatic Posture Meditation

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The following piece is a recounting of real and true events that happened to me while I was staying with friends who own an inn in rural North Carolina. I wrote about the events within the first couple of hours after they happened.

I participated in an ecstatic posture meditation with five other people on the occasion of the full moon/lunar eclipse of November 28, 2012. The other people participating included T and Te, my hosts at the Inn, and three women I met tonight, M (described to me by T as a “shamaness”), Db, and Da. I had drunk two cups of coffee (with sugar, cocoa powder, and half & half) earlier in the day, but had otherwise consumed no drugs.

We started the evening sitting around an outdoor fire together. A cedar smudge stick was passed around, and we each passed the cedar smoke around our bodies in purification. While we did this, M described a ceremony we could each do with sticks. Each person could choose two sticks. (T showed us where to find sticks under some bushes near the park.) Into one stick, we would “blow” things we wanted to get rid of or to honor lessons we had learned. We would then burn the stick completely to release what we no longer wanted or needed. Into the other stick we would “blow” the things we wanted to replace what we had gotten rid of.

After gathering sticks, T said we should be smudged more seriously/completely. He went around the circle and to each of us in turn, swirled the cedar smoke around us, using large brown feathers to move the smoke. He smudged our front sides first, then we turned around, and he smudged our backs. After T smudged all of us, Da smudged him.

When the smudging was complete, T passed around a glass jar filled with cornmeal and instructed us each to take some of the cornmeal into our hands. Db asked if we should throw it into the fire. T said we would sprinkle some of it onto the ground as we opened the ceremony, invoking the four directions in turn. We started facing east and T said a few words, calling on the spirits of the east (including a mention of creativity) to join us. We then turned south, and T invited the spirits of the south (including mention of the midday sun) to join us. We then turned west, and T called the spirits of the west to join us. Finally we faced north, and T called the spirits of the north to join us. I sprinkled cornmeal on the ground as we faced each direction. (I didn’t realize we were going to invoke spirits of the fire and earth as well, and didn’t have any cornmeal to offer them.) We got on our knees and put our hands on the ground when T invited the spirits of the earth to join us.

Once we were again seated, M poured olive oil on the fire to make it friendly as she spoke words to the anaconda, mother jaguar, and hummingbird (and maybe other animals I don’t remember.) She then showed us the Pachamama stick, and instructed us to think about what we wanted for all of humanity. I thought of generosity, love, and understanding for all people and from all people. She said it took two people to put the Pachamama stick in the fire, so she and Te put it in together. (This was symbolic. Although it was a good size stick, it was not too large for one person to handle)

It was then time for each of us to put our two sticks into the fire. M explained that as each of us knelt before the fire, someone else should watch the kneeler’s back, as being down by the fire put us in a vulnerable position. She got down by the fire while Te stooped behind her and protected her back. M scooped the fire’s smoke toward herself, then blew on her first stick and put it in the fire. After the first stick was in the fire, she blew on her second stick, then put it in the fire. M and Te then switched positions, and Te did as M had done.

I was sitting next to Te, so when she was done, it was my turn. Te protected my back while I knelt by the fire. First I fanned smoke toward my body. Next, I blew on the first stick. With each puff of air, I silently thought of something I wanted to let go of. I thought about letting go of fear and greed. I thought about letting go of all the negativity surrounding the recent end of my long-term relationship. I thought about letting go of pettiness. I thought about letting go of other things. It seems like I was blowing on that stick for a long time, but I can’t remember everything I decided to let go of. After I thought about all the things I wanted to let go of, I put the stick into the fire. I blew on the second stick each time I silently thought of things I wanted to take the place of what I had let go of. I thought about embracing generosity and love, joy, patience and acceptance. Again, I can’t remember everything I thought about as I blew on the stick. When I finished thinking of positives I want in my life, I put the stick in the fire.

T was next, and Te motioned me to go behind him and protect his back. I wasn’t sure she meant me, but she specifically got my attention and motioned for me to go to T. I felt awkward and a little silly doing this, but I stood behind him uncomfortably while he burned his sticks.

When everyone had put her/his sticks in the fire, T said he wanted to read aloud something he had read on the internet today. He went inside and got his laptop and then read a piece about the significance of today’s full moon and lunar eclipse. One thing the report mentioned was quartz crystals in Arkansas and Brazil. After he finished reading, I said I just so happened to have a pocket full of Arkansas quartz. (I had filled one of the pockets of my jacket with quartz, knowing I would meet people I hadn’t yet given crystals to.) The women were very excited. M immediately asked if they came from Mt. Ida and was even more excited when I said they had. (She was last there in the late 90s.) I gave pieces to M, Db, and Da. M asked if she could have two pieces, and I of course told her yes. I then told everyone how I had ended up mining quartz with Mr. Carolina and Little T before coming here and how blessed I was to be able to mine quartz with them. I also mentioned the large quartz cluster we got at the mine that I gave to T and Te. (This was the first time I said to them that I was giving it to them.) T said we would be going inside to the room with the large cluster.

We moved inside and sat on couches or in chairs. I sat on a couch facing west with M to my left. I took my jacket and my scarf off and placed them to my right. The smallest dog curled up on top of some throw pillows to my right. Te and T were moving around the house trying to find a book with instructions for different postures, but couldn’t find one (although it seemed as if they own several). Da needed to leave fairly early as she had to get her son to the airport  in the morning, and M had time constraints due to work, so T decided he could lead the meditation without a book. He knew a posture we could use, but did not remember the name of it.

We were instructed to sit with our knees and feet hip width apart with our feet flat on the floor. We were told to place our hands on our knees, tilt slightly forward at the waist, keep our heads up, and close our eyes. T had a rattle (possibly made from a gourd) and he said we were to concentrate on the sound of the rattle as he shook it. He said the meditation would last fifteen minutes.

T started shaking the rattle, and I listened to the sound and tried to keep my mind clear of mundane distractions. Immediately, I felt the essential part of me (my spirit/soul/energy/the essential me-ness) grow light and try to separate from my body. I felt my usual fear and resistance, but tried to just relax into the feeling of that essential part leaving and remember that I was safe. My head felt very light, as if my spirit/soul/energy/essential me-ness was lifting out of the top of my head. Then I felt as if I were shrinking, as if the world were very large, vast, and I was shrinking into a mere speck of dust. (I’ve experience this feeling since I was a very little child, at least since I was three or four. This only happened at night, when I was lying in bed in the dark. It was as if first my room, then the whole world was expanding, while at the same time I was shrinking into nothingness. This feeling always scared me very badly, and I always tried my hardest to pull myself out of the feeling as quickly as possible. The feeling was sometimes associated with the shadow the night light in my room cast on the ceiling.)

At first I had a glimmer of being in a tent or a yurt, as if I were a nomadic woman, maybe Mongolian. The color I associated with being inside the tent was purple or lavender. Definitely lavender, lighter than purple. It was if the light or the very air were that color. I had long straight dark hair and brown skin, buy I couldn’t tell what I was wearing or what I was doing. Then I had a sense of mountains, as if I were living near mountains, but I didn’t exactly see them.

Then the sensation changed to one of growing, expanding. I got larger and larger and larger and stronger and stronger and stronger. I was so big! And I knew I was a mountain. I was enormous, massive, solid, part of the earth. I knew I had snow on top of me, and kept paying attention to the top of my head, trying to decide if it felt cold. I could no longer particularly feel my hands on my knees or my feet on the ground or my butt on the couch. I could just feel I was really really big and taking up so much space. I had a fleeting thought that I was Mt. Shasta, but mostly I had no thoughts at all, just the feeling of my vast expansiveness and my heaviness. And again, I got the sense of lavender light everywhere. I couldn’t so much see the lavender light as sense it, just know it was there. I was so happy. I was filled with joy. I had a HUGE smile on my rock face. Intermittently throughout the meditation, surges of energy would course through my body, and my muscles would jerk, mostly my shoulders and arms tensing, then rapidly releasing the tension.

The whole time I could hear the rattle. I never lost awareness of the rattle.

After some time, I became the slightest bit aware of my usual physical body. I still felt big and mountainous, but I also had an awareness that my usual physical body was growing tired of sitting in the same position for all this time. I wondered how much time had passed, if the 15 minutes were almost over. Not long after that, T stopped shaking the rattle, and the room was silent. I realized I was back in my usual body, that I was no longer a mountain. I opened my eyes and felt at peace and relaxed.

T had each of us in turn say a few words about how we were feeling at the moment. I said I had a new understanding of myself and the earth. I said I felt amazing.

M left the room to change clothes. I hugged Db and Da good-bye. Te and T and I went out on the deck to look at the moon. We could see it to the east, through the trees. T told me that that rattle turns off the left brain. I wanted to tell M good-bye, but I sensed that Te and T wanted me to go, so I said I was going to my room. Terry took me downstairs and gave me some scones. Until I got to my room, I felt normal and fine.

When I got back to my room, I started freaking out. I just wanted to turn on the television or music with words and pretend that I had not just turned into a mountain. I forced myself to focus on what had happened by texting Mr. Carolina. I wrote, “Just did ecstatic posture meditation w/ 5 other people. I was a mountain. Seriously. Please understand this. I think you & L are the only ones who would. Love!” In an immediate second text I wrote, “I was HUGE & solid & purple & had snow on my mountain head. I expanded & got bigger & bigger. & had huge smile on my mountain face. Oh geez, it really happened.”

Mr. Carolina texted back immediately and wrote, “You can be a mountain or what ever you wont [sic] to with out anyone sometimes it helps to have other people but you can do anything by yourself”

I texted him again, “Yes. One person was shaking rattle to turn off right brain [I meant left brain]. Sitting in specific posture to connect w/ ancestors. I’m a little freaked out. [I] was totally gone & I was something else entirely, not even animal, but totally alive. Was not expecting something like this & last time [I] was totally gone, it was so horrible. But this was good! Trying to keep experiences separate & not freak out b/c one thing reminds me of another. I was so strong & solid this time. & snowy.”

He texted again, “I believe you,” then commented on a text I sent him yesterday asking him if he was an angel. “…the way I see it is we can all be angels to someone sometime when they need it.”

I was crying by that time, really overcome by what had happened, but also feeling better that I had connected with someone I care about and love so much and told him about my experience. I texted him again, “You really are the best. Thank you. I think there are bolts of energy shooting out of my head.” [I was not exaggerating or speaking in metaphors. I really felt energy shooting out of my head.] “Most people in my life would think I just went bat shit crazy.”

He texted back, “ Haha I hear ya been called bat shit crazy a few manytimes [sic].” Then he wrote again, “You are the best I wish I was there.”

I sent one more message and said, “Thank you so much for saying that. I wish you were here too. Nothing this wonderful has ever happened to me & I wish you & L were here so we could talk about it.”

At that point, I put on some music with no words and heated some food, then ate, and drank some water. I was really hesitant about writing this down, really resistant, even as I knew I should have started writing the moment I walked in the door. I just wasn’t ready to deal with the experience that quickly.

It’s been over three hours since we finished the meditation, and I can still feel energy rising out of the top of my head. When I stop writing and pay attention to my head, I feel energy rising up and out of me, but can feel it with my hands too when I put them on top of my head. Part of me wants to turn on TV and zone out, but I think I am better off lying down in bed with my meditation stones and seeing what happens.

I wish I had held onto the piece of alabaster Mr. Carolina gave me during the meditation or at least asked my angels for protection and guidance before we started, but I had no expectation of anything like this happening. The best I hoped for was to be able to sit still during the meditation and keep my mind halfway quiet.

To learn more about ecstatic posture meditation, go here: http://www.cuyamungueinstitute.com and here: http://www.ecstatictrance.com/.

Turtle Ass

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I acquired four or five turtle pendants in repayment of a loan. As soon as I put one on a hemp necklace, it would go out on my table and sell for $20. No turtle necklace sat on my table for more than three days.

One day the newest turtle necklace was sitting on my table. A man came up to the table. He was alone. No buddies. No lady friend. All by himself.

I gave him my hemp jewelry spiel. I told him all of the pieces were handmade from hemp, handmade by me. I told him all my pieces open and close completely. I told him the starting price of necklaces was $10.

He was interested in the turtle necklace. I told him the price was $20. He asked what I had for $10. I pointed to the $10 pieces. He didn’t like any of those. He said he’d give me $15 for the turtle necklace. I told him no. Usually I’ll take less for a piece, but I knew I could sell the turtle necklace for twenty bucks.

He said he’d take the turtle necklace for $20. WIN!

He wanted to wear the necklace right away, and asked me to fasten it around his neck. I did. I fasten a lot of necklaces around a lot of customers’ necks.

Before he left, he turned his back to me and said, Look at this! I looked over, and he had pulled the back waistband of his shorts down and over so I could see his turtle tattoo. The tattoo was on the upper part of his ass. I didn’t see any crack, but the man definitely showed me his ass.

I guess it was worth it to put $20 in my pocket.

This is not the turtle necklace I sold to the man who showed me his ass. The turtle is not even made of the same material as the one in the story. This turtle necklace is for illustration purposes only. It may or may not be available for purchase when you read this.

This is not the turtle necklace I sold to the man who showed me his ass. The turtle is not even made of the same material as the one in the story. This turtle necklace is for illustration purposes only. It may or may not be available for purchase when you read this.

Another Geologic Formation That Looks Like an Animal

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This is Turtleback Mountain, as seen from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

I took this photo of Turtleback Mountain, as seen from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

Can you see the turtle? It’s on the right side of the mountain.Follow the red “wrong way” sign up, then slide your eyes just a little to the left. The “turtle” is lying on its belly, legs splayed.

This is not such a great photo. Here is a better one:

Turtleback Mountain overlooks Truth or Consequences New Mexico

I bet you can really see that turtle now!

(Photo thanks to http://www.sierracountynewmexico.info/blog/turtleback-mountain-elephant-butte/)

Here’s some information from that Sierra County website: Almost every visitor to Truth or Consequences hears mention of “the Turtle” or “Turtleback Mountain.” On maps, this mountain is usually indicated as “Caballo Cone” or “Turtle Mountain” but in T or C  [Truth or Consequences], you’d best call it “Turtleback Mountain” around locals — that’s their term for it and they are sticking to it!

Just Blaize

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Here are some photos I took of the signs in front of a smoke shop/tattoo parlor/gallery in Phoenix, Arizona. I didn’t go into the building because it was early on a Sunday morning when I pulled into the parking lot to take these photos. I don’t think smoke shop workers or tattoo artists get up any time before noon, especially on Sundays. (Oh! I looked at the Just Blaze website, and the place isn’t even open on Sundays. I guess even tattoo artists and smoke shop workers need a day of rest. Perhaps like Hobby Lobby, Just Blaze is closed on Sundays “to allow employees time for family and worship.”)

 

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This is what the front of the store looks like. It is located at 1001 E Camelback Road. You can check out their website at http://www.justblazephx.com/.

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Here’s their tag, in the window in the front of the store.

I know my Blaize is spelled differently from their Blaze, but it was still startling and funny when I saw my name up on all of these signs. (And, no, Blaize is not the name my mother gave me, but it is a family name. And yes, I did add that “i” after the “a” just to be different.)

The funniest thing about calling myself Blaize is the confusion of stoners when I tell them I don’t smoke weed. Most stoners assume that I was given the nickname Blaize because I blaze up a lot. They don’t know what to think when I say I don’t blaze up at all.

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