Sunday, June 26, 2016

This Is How We Are Blessed

Selfless and passionate
birds cry,  melodic.

Rivers and lakes
streams and oceans,
the great majestic seas
roil like thunder,
yet rest our weary souls

This is how we are blessed.

The trunks of trees bear limbs
reaching down and out
from heavens sweaty brow,
holding our hands
made of elm and birch,
of oak and fir,
thunderous heads of hair,
crowns of chakras, all colors,
falling, falling as leaves,
blanketing grass, emerald and awake,
blinding our senses silly –

And this, this is how we are blessed.

Listen -
the human heart beats
like tribal drums,
circled by ancestral fires,
pounding treble and bass,
prodding the spirit onward,
towards destiny,
towards fate,
towards the next step -

In this mad world,
this great globe,
this utterly insane
human existence,
is beauty.


This, this is how we are blessed.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Mother Nature, Father Sky

Mother Nature, Father Sky

Check out this wild lightning! I stood out here staring up wondrous and in awe at the sky. Now this, this is Mother Nature, Father Sky.

Also linked HERE

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day - Youngest Of Four, One Folded Flag

My Father was a World War II Marine.  He is not my biological father, but he is my Dad. He raised me and he raised me well.  He taught me about pride, how to stand up for myself, he taught me when to sit back and be silent.  He told me that I was still wet behind the ears and I still am.  He called himself a jarhead and taught me about Semper Fi.

When you think about crime, and active duty and war and all the crazy things that can happen to you, you never think that someone who is in the military is going to be taken by cancer.

When I was 15 years old, cancer took my Father home.  Being 15, that is a messed up time for anyone, you are confused about everything and no one tells you anything.

My memory is acute. I recall when I was a baby and around 2 years old, yet the day of my Father's funeral, I have no memory.  It is funny how the mind works because it protects you from things that may otherwise be disturbing.

I recall clear as day my family in the limousine driving to the cemetery.  It was a beautiful, sunny November and just like a knife cutting bread, WAP!  No memory, nothing, gone. 

I had to ask my Mother did they do a gun salute, did they perform TAPS, did they fold the military flag on his coffin, did they hand over the flag all neatly folded in a triangle?  She had to tell me all of that. I have no remembrance.

The years of illness before my Father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer) and the chemotherapy treatments to follow, was devastating. My Father, an over 6 foot healthy, muscled Marine turned into a shell of his former physical self.  Once he was admitted, I was not allowed in the hospital because I was too young.  At the time, you had to be 16 years or older to get into ICU, the Intensive Care Unit, where he was being kept comfortable.

I never saw my Father before he died.

Several years ago, I flew to Washington, DC to see Bob Dylan and also ended up going to Arlington.  It was a pilgrimage.  Have you ever been compelled to do something and have no idea why you wrote a letter, got in your car and went to someone's house or made a phone call or sent an email?  It is your instinct telling you that you need to do this right now.

I said to my friend that I was visiting, we need to go to Arlington.  

If you have never been to Arlington, you must go.  My entire chest caved in.  We had to stop so many times inside Arlington because I literally could not breathe.  Arlington is a mirror of life itself.  There is all of this death, and alongside of that, all of this life. There are birds and gardens, fountains and trees.  Everything is alive and some of the grave markers are beautiful.  Arlington is life and death existing together.

I saw Iwo Jima.  I thought it would be a small sculpture.  Iwo Jima is at least three stories high and bigger than a school.  When I walked upon this sculpture, I felt so tiny to life, to the entire universe.  I was circling and circling this bronze, immense, mammoth sculpture and looked up at it and thought, That's my Father, that is my Father.

It is a long walk from Arlington to Iwo Jima. The entire walk back, I do not even know what I was doing, letting go of all of those years, yet not aware of it.  I was with my friend Ed and he just allowed me to go on and on ranting and crying and screaming.  He was silent, supportive, he understood. 

When we went back to Arlington, I wandered off on a path to some place I was not supposed to be and looked up and saw a large granite sign on the wall.  It was the oath that the sentinel takes for the Tomb of the Unknowns.

I was standing there trying to take photographs and abruptly to my surprise and shock, out of the door right next to me, steps a Marine.  He was but a boy and oh, my goodness, he stopped and saluted me.  It blew my mind.  I felt like I should be saluting him.  He turned on a perfect pivot click of heel and when he walked nothing moved but his feet.

We did not have a schedule.  We just went on a whim.  Neither of us knew anything detailed about Arlington.  We had never been there before.

So, I was sneaking behind the Marine wondering where is he going? knowing I had to follow him and I do. Then he turns around the corner and Oh, my goodness . . . the changing of the guard.

The Marine that saluted me was the next sentinel to stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. 

When we got back from Arlington, this is what I wrote:

My Father was a World War II Marine. His name is Edwin George Koester. He is not my biological father, but he is my Dad. He raised me and he raised me well. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

On Growth : An Avocado Tree From Seed


I absolutely adore growth. When I was 13, my first job was working with the Mercy nuns (Sisters of Mercy) at the convents cultivating their elegant and numerous gardens. 

When I had my first chunk of dirt in the city, I grew everything from carefully constructed herb rock gardens (that my chocolate lab lived in, loved and kept digging up), elegant rose beds of all variations, 7 foot sunflowers, all types of annuals and perennials, tons of vegetables and yes, I grew corn in the city (that grew beautifully and was delicious). 

Last year, I started all of my vegetables and herbs indoors during winter and had so many plants when Spring hit that I had to keep giving them away.

I will try (almost) anything. I have never attempted to grow fruit.

The simplest things in life make me happy like seeing avocado seeds burst with roots! 

This unique fruit is sometimes referred to as the "alligator pear" because it is shaped like a pear, is green and has "bumpy" skin like an alligator. The flesh inside the fruit is only eaten, discard the rest. Except for the seed. 

Avocados contain Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamins B5, B6 and Vitamin E. There are small amounts of Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorus, Vitamin A, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), and B3 (Niacin). An avocado contains more Potassium than a banana.

It is a "high fat food" meaning heart healthy poly and monounsaturated fatty acids. Oleic acid, the fatty acid present in avocados, is the main component in olive oil. This fruit is loaded with fiber and while some nutrients are "fat soluble" (meaning they need to be combined with fat in order to be utilized), simply adding avocado to salads, dips, and spreads increases antioxidant and nutrient absorbance. 

I adore avocados. There are various ways they can be eaten

Simply peel the skin off and eat it like fruit, when the avocado is ripe, use that as a spread [instead of using mayonnaise or a similar unhealthy concoction] on sandwiches, make a dip out of it for raw vegetables, add chunks to a salad, to rice with lime, to salsa, replace fats in recipes with an avocado, and of course, to make guacamole. 

This recipe is my personal favorite: Bruschetta with Avocado and Basil

Easy, cheap, quick , healthy and delicious. 

Avocados ripen well and when purchasing, unless you are ready to use immediately, make sure they are firm to the grip. An avocado is ripe when it is only slightly soft to the touch. 

My love for avocados led me to grow my own tree. This is the easiest thing I have ever grown and it was 100% free. 

To start, use a seed leftover from an avocado: 
  • Wash it well, do not scrub it. 
  • Put three toothpicks on a downward angle into the center of and around the seed.
  • Get a small clear glass container, fill it with water.
  • Suspend the toothpicks across the rims of the container. 
  • Let the seed sit in the water halfway. 
  • Place that in a warm place out of direct sunlight, uncovered. 
  • Replenish water when necessary, do not allow evaporation. 
  • Wait about 2-6 weeks. 

I started with two seeds and one grew. I would start with a few just in case. If none of them grow, keep trying! It takes anywhere from 2-6 weeks to see the root appear.

What occurs first is the seed covering cracks, falls off, and the entire seed cracks and the root can be seen growing out of the bottom.  After that, the new green growth comes out of the top. Replenish water so it is fresh and gently clean both seed and container regularly with plain water, no soap, to get rid of accumulations from humidity.  

After you see the root, follow further instructions HERE

Due to the below freezing temperatures in winter, I keep a 4 foot tropical Croton tree (diverse, complex group of plants ranging from herbs, shrubs to trees) in my living room. The avocado tree will be right at home!

I wonder what else I can grow . . .

Happy growing, eating, and experimenting!