Tuesday, August 14, 2012

washed stones: a new space to write

I will not be reopening synch-ro-ni-zing. I am happy with this blog and would not change a thing. It has been rich here, interacting with friends. How I've loved the expanse of it all!

I still need to write, and in an open forum. But I've changed, and I want a quieter and more sequestered space. I picture a monastic retreat, with a narrow bed, a desk and a window. And all the outdoors beyond.

So I am emerging from hibernation into a spare, small room called "washed stones" inspired by a poem of Rilke's titled "Not Poor." (See my bold in the poem.)


We are not poor. We are just without riches,
we who have no will, no world:
marked with the marks of the latest anxiety,
disfigured, stripped of leaves.

Around us swirls the dust of the cities,
the garbage clings to us.
We are shunned as if contaminated,
thrown away like broken pots, like bones,
like last year’s calendar.

And yet if our Earth needed to
she could weave us together like roses
and make of us a garland.

For each being is cleaner than washed stones
and endlessly yours, and like an animal
who knows already in its first blind moments
its need for one thing only—

to let ourselves be poor like that—as we truly are.

        ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
           The Book of Hours, III, 16
           Translated by Anita Barrows & Joanna Macy

I would love for you to join me, if you like. I warn you, I may be very quiet. You might not even hear me speak. But you'll hear me scribbling, because something in my poor (washed) being wants to be read. Like a stone.

More about the poem at my first post at washed stones.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Guest post at Vision and Verb: On becoming a gramma

James 6 months ago, at about 12 hours old
Today I am sneaking out of hibernation to write a guest post at the lovely Vision and Verb (. . . a global gathering of women of this age). My sister Ginnie, a collaborator at V&V (and at her own photoblog Heart & Soul and blog In Soul), asked me to write about being a gramma. I am honored to join the women who write there, but what a challenge it is to gather in my feelings and set them down. Well, here goes. (Oh, and he is 6 months old today.)
Get everything finished beforehand, because it will be some time before you get anything “important” done again.  Keep reading . . . 

Thursday, June 28, 2012


purple carrot flowers on the farm

With some sadness I am putting my blog to sleep. I'd like to think of synch-ro-ni-zing going into hibernation, rather than permanent sleep, but who knows? Most hibernating animals go into the long sleep in winter, but I'm choosing the hottest day of the year in Michigan to tuck this little bird into its nest. (I guess birds don't hibernate, do they?)

I've been at this six and a half years in the best time of my life. I've practiced writing and photography,  and I've made friends with extraordinary people. All is well with me and my family, my grandson is a growing joy, our son will be married in August, and life is very good. I am simply feeling creative energy flowing elsewhere. I may post photos from the wedding here as I did from Lesley's. In any case, I'll keep in touch.

I've started several blogs as my oldest friends know. I reserve the right to start another, which I may do when I begin arranging flowers for the new restaurant of dear friends when it opens. Nina and Tony run The Purple Carrot food truck, which has the best food in town, bar none. They will open the Red Haven restaurant in late August. In the meantime, you can find me on Instagram, the photo sharing app for iPhones and Android phones. My name there is ruthie822.

A few nights ago we watched the 2011 version of "Jane Eyre" and loved it. Mia Wasikowska is my favorite Jane to date. I didn't realize then that I would be saying goodbye to synch-ro-ni-zing so soon or use a quote from Charlotte Brontë's novel to say it:

Then you and I should bid good-bye for a little while?
I suppose so, sir.
And how do people perform that ceremony of parting, Jane? Teach me; I'm not quite up to it.
They say, Farewell, or any other form they prefer.
Then say it.
Farewell, Mr. Rochester, for the present.
What must I say?
The same, if you like, sir.
Farewell, Miss Eyre, for the present; is that all?
It seems stingy, to my notions, and dry, and unfriendly. I should like something else: a little addition to the rite. If one shook hands for instance; but no—that would not content me either. So you'll do nothing more than say Farewell, Jane?
It is enough, sir; as much good-will may be conveyed in one hearty word as in many.
Very likely; but it is blank and cool—"Farewell."

It is blank and cool, and I'd rather get a hug from you.

Friday, June 22, 2012

June bug

Diane Wakoski preparing to read poetry at The Scarab Club

In Michigan in June we see lots of June beetles banging against lighted window screens and we also see them dead on the sidewalk like pieces of broken brown bottles.

I went inside one very alive beetle this week. Once a golden scarab that could have been the Paris of the Midwest, Detroit is of course now littered with crumbling empty buildings and brownfields, photographed and even relished the world over for its "urban decay porn." But there are jewels in the city that are protected and showcased by loving enthusiasts. James and Kim hosted a poetry reading Wednesday by Diane Wakoski in the heart of Detroit's Cultural Center at The Scarab Club, across from the Detroit Institute of Arts, where Diego Rivera's famous Detroit Industry murals glow. When I walked into the club with Diane, Robert and Heather the space lit by the towering garden window opened me up like a beetle flying to light. Paintings by students from the art school Lesley attended backdropped Diane's reading of her poems about movies.

Afterward some of us had dinner at the Union Street Cafe on Woodward Ave. Listening to James and Kim talk about the club I realized once again how little I know about the Detroit scene. It is alive thanks to the people who believe in its heart and culture.

Here is a poem by Diane that conjures elements of summer and Detroit for me. I have these episodes of inspiration to get inside Detroit. And then I get distracted by my university and country life a couple of hours away.

Inside Out
By Diane Wakoski 
I walk the purple carpet into your eye
carrying the silver butter server
but a truck rumbles by,
                      leaving its black tire prints on my foot
and old images          the sound of banging screen doors on hot
             afternoons and a fly buzzing over the Kool-Aid spilled on
             the sink
flicker, as reflections on the metal surface.
Come in, you said,
inside your paintings, inside the blood factory, inside the
old songs that line your hands, inside
eyes that change like a snowflake every second,
inside spinach leaves holding that one piece of gravel,
inside the whiskers of a cat,
inside your old hat, and most of all inside your mouth where you
grind the pigments with your teeth, painting
with a broken bottle on the floor, and painting
with an ostrich feather on the moon that rolls out of my mouth.
You cannot let me walk inside you too long inside
the veins where my small feet touch
You must reach inside and pull me
like a silver bullet
from your arm.