Yes, I Will Be Your Valentine 2/14/17

small-valentine-2017-jpg-sigValentine’s morning is frosty and clear
So clear I  see my breath,
Hear frozen cracklings underfoot,
While watching you scrape the icy veil,
Clearing the windows for a clean view,
Allowing you to make it safely to work.

I return to warmth and furry friends
Already missing you.
I see the handmade gift you made me,
A cardboard heart with a question and words of love.

The sun shines on deep red roses
In an elegant vase bought years ago.
I imagine the vase rejoicing
As it has long sat empty and now
It is serving beauty once again.
roses-2017-jpg-sig
With your gifts and question
You spoke of loving feelings, tender intentions,
And a wish that we might put our feet on a spiritual path
That deepens loving connection.

This evening we will celebrate
With other couples dedicated
To each other and their coupleships.

We will share with each other,
Working on healthy communication, true intimacy,
And ways to deepen our bonds together,
A wonder filled opportunity.

I spoke my answer to your question
And will now write it here, Beloved Husband.
Yes, I will be your valentine.

With gratitude in my heart
I can say I have loved you from the beginning
And continue to love you in the present.

My prayers are that we take
A spiritual journey together,
Deepening our compassion, kindness, love,
And feelings of gratitude for all we have,
Including each other.

Happy Valentine’s Day
From your beloved wife, Raven!

rose-close-2017-jpg-sig
May your Valentine’s Day be filled with gratitude, compassion, love, and kindness.

Our hearts give thanks for the Grace in the Universe!

This, Too, Shall Pass (10/6/15)

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
~ Margaret Mead
10:6:15 L hazel10 sigTuesday, October 6, 2015 – “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi – October is such a fascinating month for change where I live and today’s prompt for OcPoWriMo is life changes. Changing leaves, temperatures, weather, daylight hours, and moods demonstrate that it is obviously autumn. The higher elevations have been colorful with leaves for a while now and the leaves are transforming and even falling in my neighborhood/micro-climate.  Change is apparent in my household, since everyone is adjusting to the death of one of the cats.  Cats don’t like change.  I ran across this quote that I found to be filled with synchronicity because of yesterday’s loss and my photos today are of hazel leaves beginning to change, “Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars  on Goodreads
10:6:15 L hazel7 sigI chose today’s photos because, not only do they demonstrate the change of seasons, they look mysterious at the same time.  Change brings mystery, because we can only know it as we experience it or it wouldn’t be “change” it would be “same”.  Though really, if you are fully present in the “now” is anything ever exactly the same?  The nature of life is change, transformation, and impermanence.  Just like no two snowflakes are exactly alike, no two autumns are the same, and no two hazel leaves are identical.  Life is a mystery of change and impermanence and each moment is unique.  The mystery unfolds each minute in time as you experience it.  The important thing is to be present in the moment. This way you can fully experience the gift of your life, though this can be challenging when you are experiencing loss, grief, sadness, anger, or other uncomfortable feelings.  A good saying when times are rough is “that this, too, shall pass”.  During difficult moments, I also try and keep alive the hope that painful experiences might help guide my personal transformation towards being a more kind and compassionate person.
10:6:15 L hazel12 sig 10:6:15 L hazel6 sig“dear hazels growing
rooted deeply in the ground
your leaves are changing”
~ Raven Ariana Simons
10:6:15 L hazel13 sig 10:6:15 L hazel5 sig“moment to moment
our very cells transforming
and this too shall pass”
~ Raven Ariana Simons
10:6:15 L hazel3 sigNamaste, Bright Blessings, Namu Amida Butsu ~ Raven

Love – Geese, Flowers, and Hard Decisions We Sometimes Have To Make to Be Compassionate (10/5/15)

“Some years ago, I read an article about two people in the arts (alas, I can’t remember who they were) who’d been married for many, many years. Asked for the secret of their long partnership, they said: “We fell straight into conversation when we met, and we haven’t come to the end of that conversation yet.”

I can’t think of a better model for marriage than that. Or of a narrative more romantic . . . .”
~ Terri Windling
10:5:15 L geese 1 sigMonday, October 5, 2015 – On day 5 of OcPoWriMo and funny enough one of the harder aspects of loving was up on my plate today, choosing to say goodbye.  While romantic love between humans is often thought of when we are asked about “LOVE”, there is also the love between family members, friends (including pets), and some of us have love affairs with certain creatures not usually considered sentient (though science is beginning to prove otherwise).  Someone I know truly loves a grove of aspen trees.  Today I had a super difficult day when I had to choose to have a long-time family member and friend, our Sokoke cat, Zomo, helped over the Rainbow Bridge by our vet.  This was traumatic because Zomo didn’t like people, was bonded to me, and freaked out when put in the cat carrier for his final journey as a living soul in this incarnation.  Though my act was one of love and compassion, in his eyes it was a betrayal.  Even though he was suffering, he didn’t want this to happen to him.  The vet assured us that we made the correct choice to end his suffering, though it was one of the hardest compassionate types of choice to make.  She couldn’t tell us exactly what was wrong, but assured us that even if we spent thousands of dollars he was unlikely to make it as he was having fluid come up from his deep in his throat with a good chance that it was cancer.  He was drowning.  I haven’t included a most current photo of Zomo, because the pictures I took today showed him looking rough and not like his beautiful self, though here are a few photos of Zomo and Asad as kittens and adults (Zomo is in back in the cat tree, and that is him in the single kitten photo).  Asad was Zomo’s litter-mate and passed from cancer a few years ago.  Zomo would have been 10 years old in the spring.  Rest in peace my dear friend!  Is the Rainbow Bridge made of flowers?
Zomo and Asad kittens sig Zomo and Asad adults sig “hard to say goodbye
to my faithful furry friends
rest in peace dear ones”
~ Raven Ariana Simons

Zomo kitten sigMy photos taken for today include geese and flowers and I chose these because geese mate for life and flowers are often given as tokens of love.  Flowers and pollinators make love that allow a great diversity of life to flourish so beautifully on earth.
10:5:15 L agustache 1 sig 10:5:15 L geese sig “high in the sky geese
migration is happening
goose pairs mate for life”
~ Raven Ariana Simons
10:5:15 L flower sig 10:5:15 L agustache sig“bees share flower love
people love to share flowers
are flowers Earth’s love?”
~ Raven Ariana Simons

10:5:15 L rose sigNamaste, Namu Amida Butsu, Bright Blessings ~ Raven

In and Out Like a Lamb – The Last Days of March – 3.26.15 through 3.31.15

3:29:15 buddha 1 sig“We must look at ourselves over and over again in order to learn to love, to discover what has kept our hearts closed, and what it means to allow our hearts to open.”
~ Jack Kornfield
March came and then left like a lamb this year with unseasonably warm temperatures that averaged around 20 degrees F above normal, little precipitation, and setting at least one record breaking day for heat.  February was also well above normal average temperatures.

Sparrows eating aspen catkins on 3/26/14.

Sparrows eating aspen catkins on 3/26/14.

Click here to go to the past post for March 26, of 2012, 2013, and more 2014.

Thursday, March 26, 2015 – Today’s photos on this warmer than average March day feature some lovely plantings in a condo complex behind my doctors’ offices.  The mountains in the back of one of the photos are the Oquirrhs.  I like the lovely spring blooms with the evergreens.
3:26:15 O and b a sig 3:26:15 c and b 1 sig“today we have spring
these evergreens and blossoms
remind me of snow”
~ Raven Ariana Simons
3:26:15 bright blossoms sig 3:26:15 twisty branch blossoms sig“sculpted by nature
blossoms twine with living twigs
fruit tree poetry”
~ Raven Ariana Simons

Drops captured on forsythia on 3/27/14.

Drops captured on forsythia on 3/27/14.

Click here to go to the past post for March 27, of 2012, 2013, and more 2014.

Friday, March 27, 2015 – Today we have a hover fly (aka flower fly) of some type, a native shrub in bloom (I don’t know the name of this one) and a paper wasp.
3:27:15 hf 2 sig 3:27:15 hf 6 sig“jeweled wasp on bee hive
light dancing on spider webs
all life is sacred”
~ Raven Ariana Simons
3:27:15 ns sig 3:27:15 wasp sig“Let go of the battle. Breathe quietly and let it be. Let your body relax and your heart soften. Open to whatever you experience without fighting.”
~ Jack Kornfield

Scrub jay on aspen on 3/28/14.

Scrub jay on aspen on 3/28/14.

Click here to go to the past post for March 28, of 2012, 2013, and more 2014.

Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Today was a sunny day with the honeybees enjoying the Oregon Grape in full bloom.
3:28:15 hb 4 sig 3:28:15 clear hb sig“are you my honey
scents the blossom to the bee
sweet love we will make”
~ Raven Ariana Simons
3:28:15 a hb cute sig 3:28:15 good fuzzy hb sig“Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature.”
~ Gerard de Nerval

Grape hyacinths on 3/27/14.

Grape hyacinths on 3/27/14.

Click here to go to the past post for March 29, of 2012, 2013, and more 2014.

Sunday, March 29, 2015 – Here is the beautiful waxing gibbous moon with blossoms and blooms nodding in a breeze by one of the local county library branches.  The last photo is my neighbors’ Buddha looking serene in the tulips.  The photo at the top of the post is a closer look of him from today.
3:29:15 m bl m sig 3:29:15 m sig“spring blossoms dancing
moon rising in a blue sky
March is almost gone”
~ Raven Ariana Simons
3:29:15 blossoms close sig 3:29:15 Buddha sig“If your compassion does not include yourself it is incomplete.”
~ Jack Kornfield

Plum blossoms on a very old tree on 3/30/14.

Plum blossoms on a very old tree on 3/30/14.

Click here to go to the past post for March 30, of 2012, 2013, and more 2014.

Monday, March 30, 2015 – Today was another very sunny day and lots of pretty bulbs are up.  Here are tulips, a daffodil, and some anemones.
3:30:15 tulip buddha sig 3:30:15 rt sig“glowing in the sun
petals spread like butterflies
alight in the spring”
~ Raven Ariana Simons
3:30:15 daf sig 3:30:15 r a sig“The flower is the poetry of reproduction. It is an example of the eternal seductiveness of life. ”
~ Jean Giraudoux

Honeybee enjoying the early spring nectar and pollen of dandelion on 3/31/14.

Honeybee enjoying the early spring nectar and pollen of dandelion on 3/31/14.

Click here to go to the past post for March 31, of 2012, 2013, and more 2014.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 – Cooling slightly with some clouds and wind today.  The first photo is Oregon grape in full bloom with an orchard bee heading in.  I also have a tulip, apple blooms and a male house finch here in my little urban wildlife oasis.
3:31:15 flight nb sig 3:31:15 tulip sig“birds, bees, and blossoms
life awakening again
from this winter’s sleep”
~Raven Ariana Simons

3:31:15 red background ab sig 3:31:15 finch sigOur hearts give thanks for the Grace in the Universe!
Namaste, Bright Spring Blessings, and Namu Amida Butsu ~ Raven

Come As You Are – 3/13/15, 3/14/15, 3/15/15

3:15:15 reflections and koi 1 sig“Although my eyes, blinded by passions, do not see the brilliant light which embraces me,
the Great Compassion never tires, always casting its light upon me.”
~ Shinran Shonin

Our old cat Velvet on 3/13/14 (she crossed the Rainbow Bridge that autumn).  RIP Dear One!

Our old cat Velvet on 3/13/14 (she crossed the Rainbow Bridge that autumn of 2014). RIP Dear One!

Click here for the post of photos from March 13, 2012, 2013, and more 2014.

Friday, March 13, 2015 – Today is golden with sunlight and the forsythia in full bloom.
3:13:15 f sig 3:13:15 close sig 3:13:15 f 1 sig“That Buddha, in the causal stage, made the universal Vow:
When beings hear my Name and think on me, I will come to welcome each of them,
Not discriminating at all between the poor and the rich and wellborn,
Not discriminating between the inferior and the highly gifted,
Not choosing the learned and those upholding pure precepts,
Nor rejecting those who break precepts and whose evil karma is profound.
Solely making beings turn about and abundantly say the Nien-Fo,
I can make bits of rubble change into gold.”
~ Hymn by Tz’u-min, cited by Fa-chao in the Wu-hui fa-shih tsan (Shorter Pure Land Liturgy of Nien-Fo Chant in Five Stages)

3:13:15 f 4 sig 3:13:15 f 3 sig 3:13:15 close nice sig“each blossom is filled
pollen, nectar, and longing
to bee completed”
~ Raven Ariana Simons

Honeybee gathering blue pollen from Siberian squill on 3/14/15.

Honeybee gathering blue pollen from Siberian squill on 3/14/15.

Click here for the post of photos from March 14, 2012, 2013, and more 2014.

Saturday March 14, 2015 – Today I saw a tiny beetle that looked like a miniature lady bug with black and red spots.  I haven’t looked this one up to see if it is actually some type of ladybug.  My Oregon grape is coming into bloom and the mason bees (osmia) are out and about.  My neighbors’ violets smelled heavenly.
3:14:15 nice b sig 3:14:15 v fr sig 3:14:15 osmia cl sig“True entrusting means that you’re able to truly relate to another being. Not only human beings but with plants and animals. Even those things that cannot speak, you’re able to hear their feelings. Namu-amida-butsu.”
~ Ichitaro
3:14:15 side v n a sig 3:14:15 side o cl sig 3:14:15 v sp sig“buds swell to bursting
sweet smells and nectar laden
beckon insect friends”
~ Raven Ariana Simons

Christmas cactus re-blooming on 3/15/14.

Christmas cactus re-blooming on 3/15/14.

Click here for the post of photos from March 15, 2012, 2013, and more 2014.

Sunday, March 15, 2015 – Today was exceptionally warm and we actually had a record high of 73 degrees F. at 3:00 P.M. MDT.  This is a quote from a local newspaper, “The warm temperatures are nearly 20 degrees warmer than normal temperatures for mid-March.” This made it a lovely day for sangha in the park and listening to and sharing wise words about our mindfulness practice and compassion.  We also learned about and practiced walking meditation.  I want to express heartfelt gratitude to our wonderful Practice Leader, Mr. Christopher “Myoshin” Ross-Leibow, and his lovely wife, Linnea, for their work service and also to the rest of the members of the Sangha. where we are truly welcome to “come as we are”.
3:15:15 Amida Buddha sm sig 3:15:15 falling water sig 3:15:15 koi and reflections 1 sig 3:15:15 koi 1 sig“Among all living things
mountains and rivers,
grasses and trees,
even the sounds of blowing winds
and rising waves –
there is nothing
that is not the nembutsu”
~ Ippen
3:15:15 old tree sig 3:15:15 falling water 1 sig 3:15:15 koi 2 sig 3:15:15 Amida Buddha 1 sm sig“we walk heal to toe
massaging sweet mother earth
with our mindful feet”
~ Raven Ariana Simons
3:15:15 koi and reflections sigOur hearts give thanks for the Grace of the Universe!
Bright Bee Blessings, Namaste, and Namu Amida Butsu ~ Raven

Jewels in the Melting Snow and Ladies out for a Drink 2/27/15

2:27:15 dr l 1 sig“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
~ Benjamin Franklin
Click here for past February 27 photos (2012, 2013, and more 2014).

Rain on hazel twig on 2/27/14.

Rain on hazel twig on 2/27/14.

Friday, February 27, 2015 – Today was very interesting because I’ve been having conversations about a new contraption called the “flow hive” that supposedly takes the work out of beekeeping.  My personal opinion of this invention is that it takes the mindfulness, skillfulness, kindness, compassion, and joy out of being a beekeeper.  I care about my bees and keep them for themselves rather than for the honey they produce.  In fact, my intuition was to leave them all of their honey in 2014.  I’ve been actively interested in and educating people locally about native pollinators since the early 1980’s.  I love biodiversity for its own sake.

This lady implores you to look around at the world and the creatures that share it with you with kind and compassionate eyes.  Taken at the urban oasis on 2/27/15

This lady implores you to look around at the world and the creatures that share it with you with kind and compassionate eyes and take action to end ecocide.  Photo at the urban oasis on 2/27/15

Most of my friends and family on Facebook know I am a beekeeper I have had many tags and posts to my timeline about this “flow hive” because the average person thinks this is a great thing and I’d enjoy learning about it.  Perhaps I’d even like to own one for myself.  This is not the case.  In fact, I think that it is a disaster in the making for the bees (as if they didn’t have enough problems).  The Winnebago Diaries (FB friends and fellow beekeepers) articulate concerns about the “flow hive” beautifully in this post.  Their FB page is Fair Share Honey.
2:27:15 hb cute sigI wasn’t originally going to post any of the honeybee photos I took today but given the online conversations I have had, decided I’d add them in with the melting snow and little water jewels on the emerging pollinator food (clover and dandelions).  I chose my quotes because I believe that education about what is truly happening to the earth and the biodiversity that keeps it livable for all is a key factor for getting grassroots efforts going.  The only way we can “save” our fellow creatures, soil, air, earth, water, and ourselves is if we all learn about the challenges we are facing, the ecocide that is happening, and do something.  I’ll start with my favorite quote from Margaret Mead ~ “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 
2:27:15 cl d sig  2:27:15 fat drop sig2:27:15 interesting sig“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”
~ Robert Frost
2:27:15 fat drop sig 2:27:15 dr l sig 2:27:15 melting snow cl 1 sig“it can start with words
or images that move us
to protect the earth”
~ Raven Ariana Simons
2:27:15 dandy sigOur hearts give thanks for the Grace in the Universe!
Bright Bee Blessings and Namaste ~ Raven

Three Days – 2/20/15, 2/21/15, and 2/22/15

2:22:15 bee glass sig“pollinating fire
as we pray for all of life
each one connecting”
~ Raven Ariana Simons
“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”
~ Pema Chodron
I didn’t to get my daily posts up from the 20th until today so I have added the hyperlinks in the dates in case you’d like to go back and see the photos and adventures on those past days (each post will have a photo for 2012, 2013, and at least one, maybe more, for 2014):
February 20, 2012 – 2014
February 21, 2012 – 2014
February 22, 2012 – 2014
Sunday, February 22, 2015 – Friday was cooling down, Saturday we had a little bit of snow, and today it is windy with snow expected in some parts of the state over the next couple of days.  One of my long time friends told me today that it looks like winter may be back.  I guess we’ll see from moment to moment, day by day.
Friday, February 20, 2015 – Definitely getting chillier and more wind, though the birds were out, but not a lot of the ladies.
2:20:15 robin 2 sig 2:20:15 crocus 1 sig2:20:15 g f 1 sig“waiting for your seeds
sitting on forsythia
while other birds eat”
~ Raven Ariana Simons
2:20:15 crocus op sig 2:20:15 g f 2 sigSaturday, February 21, 2015 – I woke up to snow, though it did melt pretty fast and there was only a small amount.
2:21:15 catkin drops 1 sig“the drops are perfect
holding upside down tree dreams
in the melting snow”
~ Raven Ariana Simons 
2:21:15 drop 1 sig 2:21:15 o g drop sig 2:21:15 dandelion drop sig 2:21:15 drop sigSunday, February 22, 2015 – Today was cold and so windy that the wind chill factor made me want to stay in the house.  I took a few studies of some of the leaves of my plants that live by my window with some colorful glass.  The honeybee votive candle holder at the very top of the page is part of the arrangement.
2:22:15 leaf detail sig 2:22:15 st fran 1 sig “such life in my home
and I don’t have to go far
to share, love, and care”
~ Raven Ariana Simons
2:22:15 leaves sig
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
~ Paul Coelho
2:22:15 odd leaves sigOur hearts give thanks for the Grace in the Universe!
Namaste and Bright Bee Blessings ~ Raven