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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The End of February

The last day of February feels like an end time and a beginning.  It's not quite spring though the male pheasants run about the yard in pursuit of love, chasing reluctant females.  The days are growing longer, sharing more light, offering hope of an end to winter.  But that won't happen for weeks yet and there will be snow and sleet and slush to come.

Still the end of February feels like a change is coming.  My spirit lifts and I sense spring bubbling deep within me, somewhere...not too far away.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Silent Sunday

Winter light on the birches

Icicles melting fast

Pair of ducks out marching

And pine boughs sweeping snow.
 Silent Sunday.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Snow and Sleet and Rain

It's a bit of an everything day.  We started with drifting clusters of snow, flakes as large as eyes.  Then we had fine sleet tapping its fingers on the windows.  Next spits of snow coming hard and now... now we have dollops of rain falling and sliding in rivulets down the panes.  What's next?  Could be anything!

But still, we have to feed the birds.  Here are some of today's redpolls at the thistle seed feeder.  And they do not notice the weather.  They're just happy for a meal.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Another Snowy Sunday

We have snow and more snow from another stormy Sunday in February.  The power was off and now is on.  The driveway way was clear but is no more; yet will be again.

The only constant are the redpolls and ducks, the chickadees and pheasants that show up to be fed.   We feed them in the blizzard, in the dark and in the storms.  We've perfected the art of throwing food out the windows when we can't get to them otherwise. 

We can't stop feeding them just because it becomes a challenge.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

On this day of losing heads and bursting hearts, remember this...

"What goes unexplored / unknown, manifests as fate." 
(To paraphrase Carl Jung.)

Part of loving yourself is knowing yourself.  Really knowing who you are requires recognizing your internal conflicts, your unexplored talents, your unhealed traumas, your negative as well as your positive life experiences; requires recognizing your own wounds and seeking healing.

The parts of you that go unexplored, that remain unknown will come up again and again as life experiences until you deal with them, bring them to light, acknowledge them and let them fly away.

Part of loving yourself is knowing yourself, all parts of yourself, the piercing beak and razor claws as well as the rosy feathers. 

Know yourself as you really are and love yourself, all of yourself.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Photo is copyright Carol Steel.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Winter Sunrise

Winter Sunrise

What if the dark
and the white
of a winter morning
stand stark
against the pink-gold feast
of a sunrise sky?

And what if the sun
has the same melting sheen
as the butter
soaking into
my hot orange
and cranberry scones?

Then that is enough;
enough to spread
all over my day.

Words and photos are copyright Carol Steel.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Snow Clearing

Snow clearing from the weekend's storm took over two hours of steady work.   Today Gary is still sore and achy and resting.  I am encouraging him to get away from here for a trip but he isn't able to find reasonably priced flights to his destination of choice.  He wants to visit Julie in Alberta.  Yes, that's going from one wintry place to another, but another man is in charge of snow removal there.  It would be a welcome change and a great visit with his daughter and son-in-law and three wonderful grandchildren.

Now to find a flight...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Snow and Then More Snow

The storm is over (mostly) though wind still gusts into waves and arcs of drift.  There is a three-foot drift at our back door.  The house is surrounded by troughs and waves of snow, like a frozen sea.  The garage door and the barbecue are partially hidden.  It is wild and lovely and a little too much work.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Winter Windows

Winter Windows

Winter Day

Winter Day

It`s hard to feed the birds today as the food blows away
 or becomes covered by
whirling snow within minutes. 
We keep trying.
Gusting snow obscures the neighbouring homes
and the main road.

It is cozy and warm beside the fire on this blustery winter day.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Good Question


A Good Question

Enduring an encounter with serious illness and the possibility of death tested all my significant relationships.

Who was there for me through the months of illness?  Who suffered with me?  Who was really affected by the possibility that I might not return to health?

To whom did I really matter?

Answers were not easy to find, for people had different ways of showing they cared.

I acknowledged how difficult it was for friends and family.  I appreciated that they did what they could.  There were many who backed off and I was hurt and disappointed.  Some relationships I valued didn’t turn out to be the way I thought they were.  It wasn’t that people did not care; it was more likely they just didn’t know what to do or say. 

People helped and supported the best they could; sometimes they didn’t know how to do this.  Perhaps they thought ignoring what happened and trying to move on was best for everyone.

My own expectations were sources of disappointment.  When I felt tired, vulnerable and scared, the withdrawal of others from me did not help me.  It was as though I had contracted a shameful, contagious disease.  It hurt and yet I understood.

Thankfully, there were many who stayed in contact through cards, notes, emails and phone calls, dropped off meals, sent small gifts or flowers, made short but loving visits, listened and found ways to show that I mattered to them.

For them I was grateful.

Significant relationships were not all constant.  Many changed.

To whom did I really matter?

A good question.  A greater lesson. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Finding Truth


Finding Truth

Experiencing cancer took me into a time both strange and scary.  Before I knew my exact diagnosis from my surgery results, I faced the reality of having an illness that might kill me.

I have been lucky.  My apprehension of the illness, my experience of pain and my endurance of radiation treatments are all behind me now.  I have been lucky.  The surgery removed the malignancy; the radiation gave assurance against recurrence.

While I was in the midst of this, I recognized the insignificance my everyday concerns and worries.   I recognized a need within myself to refocus my energies, to pay attention to what nourished my essential being, to avoid that which drained and diminished me.

The illness made inner wisdom easier to hear, as my world shrank, as I conserved strength and tended to my own health.  I recognized that when I am well, I tend to say “Yes” to requests to help, to organize, to participate.  I find it difficult, nearly impossible to say “No.”  My compassion, my need to be needed, my guilt, my desire to be unselfish propel me to share in activities which seem to require only a contribution of time and a bit of energy.  The truth is more often that these involvements take far more time and energy than advertised.

I know this and yet, again and again I allow some unwise part of myself to whisper “Yes,” even though I know that I give time and energy to tasks, to people, to relationships that deplete me.  I cling out of guilt or an assumption that I am responsible for the job, the person or the relationship, that I must take on the burdens or the choices of others, that I am essential.

One of my oncology nurses told me that no one is irreplaceable.  We are each like a finger dipped in water.  When the finger is withdrawn, the water resumes its shape with no trace of where the finger once was.  Truth and wisdom.

I am at home recovering, still tiring easily and needing all the energy I have to help myself heal and gain strength.

I have clarity about what is right for me and what is wrong for me.  I am re-learning to value my inner wisdom, to trust my perceptions, to count on myself.  And I am learning to say “No” to situations that I previously acquiesced to out of my need to be liked, to conform, to be valued or out of a fear of reaction from others.  I am learning to say “No” to what is wrong for me or is the wrong timing for me.

Surviving, becoming healthy are my priorities. 

I trust these lessons will echo through the rest of my life helping me to stay on my pathway, to discern the wisest choices and the best uses of “Yes” and “No,” to find my truth.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Common Redpolls

Dozens of Common Redpolls are eating thistle seeds at our feeders.  They swarm pushing and shoving each other for the best spaces.  Redpolls eat almost constantly to maintain a high metabolic rate and to avoid hypothermia.  They seem so thin and tiny but their insulating feathers enable them to survive our bitter winter weather.  The feathers fluff out to trap layers of warm air.

The Redpolls and the ducks are nervous eaters today; nearby crows are agitated, squawking and cawing warnings.  We wondered why until we spotted an immature bald eagle floating just above the tree tops.  Eating in our yard takes second place to avoiding becoming a meal or a snack for a predator.
Photos are copyright Carol Steel.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

First February Sunday

First February Sunday

And it has snowed. 
The world is a white wonder,
clean and fresh and new.

Words and photos are copyright Carol Steel.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Clear Day

A Clear Day

Wind and rain have eaten the snow.  Splotches of ice on dead grass, ducks feeding on cracked corn and a plastic shopping bag bouncing over the rotting snow are all that is left.  The temperature has dropped; the air bites my skin as I lean out to retrieve the newspaper. 

The sky is limitless without cloud or haze.  From here, I can see the hills behind the city.  The air is so clear that the edges of buildings, the bark on the trees and even the ice cakes in the river have distinct outlines.  The world is freshly washed and shining.

I appreciate this crisp mid-winter day and the clarity it offers.
Words and photos are copyright Carol Steel.

Friday, February 1, 2013

I've Been Away

I've Been Away

I've been away from my blog and from my writing.

I am here now, yet I am not here--not fully.

My body feels like an alien creature, weary, uncooperative, aching from radiation burns.  It has turned on me, betrayed me with these cancer cells.  Still this body is mine.  I recognize myself in the mirror; my face, my fingers, my feet, my self.

Yet I am not here--not quite.  I struggle through the brain fog.  Is it Friday?  What happened to Thursday?  Will I write today?  Can I make sense?  Will I write and re-write only to quit in despair?

Depression and I have become well acquainted, more so on the days when pain and frustration are close companions.  I sleep 11 hours a night and nap during the day.  If I want to do dishes, or bake biscuits, sweep a floor or have a shower, I must do this in the morning before the energy dissipates.

It has been hard learning to be gentle and patient with myself.  Even though treatments ended last Wednesday, it will be weeks more before energy returns and the burns are healed.  I am recovering but want the process to speed up, to be done.  I want to be well...now, now, now.

This winter, I have been hibernating in the caverns of radiotherapy and sleep, caught in a haze of  depression and pain and medications.  But I am returning to myself, to clarity, to lucidity, to balance.  The "not here" times lessen as the "here" times lengthen.

I will be well again.

I am nearly there, back to "here", back to being fully present within myself.

Words and photo are copyright Carol Steel.  The photo is of the recent full moon through a haze of cloud and darkness.