Monday, August 31, 2009

The Semi-Empty Nest

Now that my youngest birth child, Alana, has moved out of the house (for the second time) at age twenty, it seems a fitting time to look back at my years as a mother. Oh- I know that “mother” is something that I will be until, in fact, my children themselves die. My own parents still hold court in the castle of my consciousness at age fifty-seven – my father from heaven, my mother from Minnesota. And the elders I’ve cared for still so enshrine their parents, as long as their mind and hearts still work.

No, it’s just that now is that particular time we call “the empty nest.” In my case it’s a semi-empty nest due to my almost 8 year old stepson, Evan, who’s with us half-time. But that’s a different story.

This empty nest is cushioned a bit by the situations of my life. My revived private women’s health practice needs all of the attention of a good mother to help it grow. And my writing projects could fill 48 hours a day. It’s not like in the old days when so many women’s life career was as mother, and that was that.

Yet, be it lowly job or brilliant career, it cannot cuddle up to you and say “I love you Mommy.” And I’m a definite cuddle- hold- hands- and- hug kind of person. Alana and I still sometimes keep the French custom of “bezous” – kissing on each other’s cheeks to greet each other and to say goodbye. It was actually more of a touching of cheeks, with air kisses as sound effect. In Paris it was 3 times-- cheek one, cheek two, and again cheek one--maybe to overcome any possible big city anomie. When I get to be with my twenty-nine year old son I like nothing better than sitting next to him, holding hands or arms draped around each other’s shoulders.
I will sorely miss the feminine presence of my daughter in this masculine household. Alana is much more feminine that I. She went through a years-long phase as a young girl when she would ONLY wear dresses and skirts. I convinced her to wear long pants under them to protect from winter cold.

Alana’s an expert at make- up and now has a career as a hairstylist. She advises me kindly in these matters. It’s fun—just as I chastised her for cutting her hair as a preschooler, she has lectured me against the practice of trimming my own bangs. She’s finally accepted that I won’t blow dry and style my hair. I barely comb it—something my own mother nagged me about to no end. Of course I do press Evan to comb his bed head on the morning I get him to school. It’s my motherly duty.

By Terra Rafael

Sunday, August 30, 2009



The other night, as I watched the rickshaws pedal their passengers home, I remembered the rickshaws in India. When I came across the border from Pakistan into Amritsar, the city of the Golden temple, the most sacred shrine of the Sikhs, I was in for some unexpected culture shock.

In Pakistan the rickshaws were pulled by the skinniest horses you could ever imagine. In India, they were driven by even skinnier men. I couldn’t bring myself to ride in one for a few days. How could I ask such a puny man to haul me around, even though I was pregnant. I watched in amazement at how much strength they had and, finally, it became natural for me to ride in one. They were so eager to carry me.

After my daughter was born, I was riding in a rickshaw in Pondicherry. My husband was on his bicycle ahead of my mother-in-law and me in our carriage. I had my two month old wrapped in a blanket and was holding her tight. Suddenly, Hugh stopped to avoid crashing into another rickshaw that had halted in front of him. Our driver also stopped suddenly and I felt myself being lifted into the air on a trajectory out of the rickshaw and onto the asphalt street. I knew I had to protect my baby, so I twisted in midair and flipped around so that I would land on my back. As I did so, I held her up to avoid her coming in contact with the ground. It worked and she was unscathed. I only suffered some bruises. I was grateful for my stunt training in the theater that served us well that evening.

Rickshaws became a way of life when I was in town and didn’t have my bicycle. Seeing these vehicles in America seems like an anomaly. What are they doing here? And yet, it is a most marvelous form of transportation. I highly recommend it when one is out and about. With a good driver, it is so much fun.

Prema Rose

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I can’t live someone else’s life.
I have to live my own. I might look at how a friend expresses her feelings, tends her family, but if that is not what is natural to my own makeup…I am not being true to myself…and in truth, I won’t be able to measure up if I’m using someone else as a benchmark.
I might wish I was softer, more emotionally gentle in my expression, only focused on family rather than the personal and business goals I have. But that wouldn’t be who I am and where my drive takes me. I don’t want to apologize for who I am, wishing I was someone else. Whose life would I be living if not my own. I’m here to fulfill my soul’s desire for a certain life path. Why would I judge it less than another’s.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Summer Kitchen, 1958

The dishtowel hung on the ponderosa pine tree, which stood guard over our summer kitchen along with the dishpan, the net bags of tin plates, and cutlery. It smelled of pine and coffee and fire baked potatoes. There was a campfire where we cooked gingerbread in hollowed out orange rinds. We washed our dishes over the fire. We ate on the ground for the picnic table… … we ate simple things going to the ranch down the road to get fresh milk. His wife gave us fresh stuff from her garden. We ate tons of candy bars and ding-dongs from the camp store. It was a free sort of summer. Dad had taken a job in the Tetons so Mother packed all seven of us into the old woody station wagon. We drove to Jenny Lake and camped with the moose, the bear, the pine squirrels, and the birds in the trees all summer long. We never once had to sweep the floor.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Tall Feathered Tale

Sometimes things happen when you least expect it and it will totally turn your day around. This was one of those times.

I was driving down a mountain road thinking about the state of affairs, which, if I had any thing to say about them, would be substantially different ~ Way Better, to be more specific. I came around a corner and what I saw before me was too weird to be true.

There was a man on a bicycle, moving rather slowly as he was pedaling up a steep incline. And running beside him was a long legged turkey. I was shocked silly! The turkey looked very tall, the man looked very unhappy and I slowed down for a number of reasons, this was just too good to be true. I rolled down my window and leaned out to get a better look. The poor man was trying to pedal and the bird was viciously pecking at him. I casually asked him if this was his pet turkey. He had a hard time talking but I think he squawked something like, “this damn bird is trying to kill me!”

As I slowed my car beside them, the turkey was loudly vocal and threw out his tail feathers into a wide fan. He was dark brown, wild, and rather trim, apparently from jogging, and appeared to be much more in control than his opponent. The gentleman biker had grey hair under his little helmet, and shiny black bike shorts that fit tightly on his upper thighs leaving the rest of his poor leg exposed. I feel quite confident in assuming that he had no idea when he dressed that day that he would be fending off, or racing against, a rabid running turkey.

Lest you think I am being unfair to the biker, he outweighed the bird by 150 pounds at least, and I will confess, under different circumstances, I would have found them equally attractive specimens. I wanted to yell some encouraging words to the man on the bike but I was struggling with my vocal chords not to laugh out loud. It was tough; I was choking up as I wiped tears from my eyes. As I slowly rolled down the road, the scene in my rear view mirror was so comical I nearly wet my pants. That long legged turkey ran beside the bike in a dead heat. I believe the fellow was trying to throw a kick at the bird without losing momentum. The turkey, never missing a stride, would expand his tail feathers and then pull them back into a neat bundle. I know it is cliché, but seriously, the last thing I heard as I rolled around the next curve was the man cursing and the turkey answered with a long gobble.

* annette

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Surprise Messenger

Working on the rock wall has brought a few surprises. My connection with the rocks continues to grow. I sense and listen where one wants to be placed and when it has found its home. There is the learning curve on the ability to move a rock, one that is to big for any sane person to move, sometimes even up a hill, by rolling it day by day, till it arrives at it’s destination, that continues to amaze me. But Sunday a surprise came from an unexpected source. Early in the morning, as I was about to move an enormous rock, a clicking sound emerged from underneath an edge that was floating higher than the rest of the rock. Peering down the next thing I see is a very large beetle walking out from below. He’s still clicking which I interpret to mean: annoyance that he had to move. His dark brown coverings and three and half inch long size, gets my full attention. I’m mesmerized as I watched his gyro-scoping antenna’s explore the air in front of him and find a pathway to a new spot. Slowly he walks straight and surly to a rock about four feet away. I watch every movement and have the thought; “I may never see anything like this in the wild again. I think I’ve seen something like this at the Butterfly Pavilion.” It felt like the time I saw two snakes in the before, during and after sex act. Sheer amazement comes over you and you just know this is a ‘once in a lifetime’ event. The ancientness of its structure reminds me I am peering into a long forgotten, but well preserved, prehistoric past.

I have the thought “Maybe there is a message to this visit.” I continued working for the next couple of hours, checking on his whereabouts every now and then. He seemed to be settling into a spot. I built him a rock house with three rocks leaning against each other so he would be protected, from both me stepping on him, and kitty eating him. Later, as I came to work another shift, (shifts are essential as the weight and numbers of rocks I move challenge my strength) I realize I hadn’t looked up Scarab, which I decided my beetle friend must be.

The most notable words I found were; Sacred, Sun and Ra, along with the imagery of rolling the sun across the sky. This last piece originates from the fact that a Scarab actually does roll dung across the earth to bury it with its larvae so it will have plenty to eat as it hatches. A lot of symbolism, used in ancient Egyptian art and burials, feature this beetle. Somewhere in there is also the mention of resurrection, which would explain the burial connection. It was known for disappearing and reappearing. And my friend did disappear but not until after he spent the whole day under his rock house. I thought he might have come to die. But the next morning he was not to be found. I looked everywhere. A once in a lifetime surprise I surmise. But the thought of him rolling something across the earth couldn’t help but hit me as I have literally spent most of the last several weeks rolling rocks, too big to pick up, across the land. I smiled at the reflection my little messenger imparted. Nothing I could of guessed when seeing him for the first time would have prepared me for that knowledge. I thought I was the only crazy one rolling anything across the land. And here he emerges to teach me I’m in good company. And maybe some other things that are yet to resurrect.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Prose - Opening

Shell Creek campground, the loviest of areas by the creek, a feeling of wanting to stay here forever, although we only ended up staying one night. It was on to the Great Medicine Wheel the next day. Wildflowers in abundance, beautiful grasses with tall spruces all on one side as our protectors. To another side of our new home the grasses were laid down where deer must have slept the night before. I laid my navel down on the flattened grasses, gathering the gentleness of deer into me as I also felt the support of the Mother. I began the process of letting go of the negative energy in my liver, the only label I was aware of at the time, as I allowed the love of deer and the Mother seep into my soul. Later, my friend, Myrna, creates more healing sounds with the bowls, deepening that opening. Gratefulness surrounds me, washes through me. My great lesson is learning to receive the love and the beauty that is all around me. Grace can be simple, no struggle, just allowing, only being.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Gas Heater

The gas heater resided in the living room of our apartment. The dark brown, curved metal corners, the grill to let out the heat, let in the air, the blue flame glowing through it. It was a mundane part of our home when I was a young child.

Until night time. Then that heater became home to my nightmares. A monster lived in it and emerged through the top of the heater. It looked like a hand puppet of a dinosaur or dragon, with triangle fins down its back. What it looked like wasn’t what scared me. It was that this monster controlled everything that happened. I don’t know how he did it. That was truly terrifying to me. And that’s what I remember about it—the feeling of helpless subjugation and fear. My hair sometimes stands on end when I remember it fully.

This reoccurring nightmare lasted for several childhood years. And I still startle a bit when a heater cycles on loudly.

-by Terra Rafael

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Oh, let me be a stick of incense,
On fire with devotion.
May my form be burned to ash
To unleash the essence of my sweetness.
It lingers to the senses
And fills the ethers with a promise.
It holds the mysteries
Of what is no longer visible
Yet ever present,
Ever sacred.
My life is such a wand
Of magic manifest.
This is my offering,
A life well lived,
A song that lingers on a wisp of breath.
When all is said and done,
I can ask no more than this.

Prema Rose

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I feel the sun warm on my skin, some days it goes all the way into my bones and meets the colder, aloof places in me and dissolves them.

As I walk through neighborhoods the brilliant colors of flowers and the voluptuousness of squashes and pumpkins growing in yards amaze me. The latter spreads its huge blanket of leaves to create a green landscape across the earth.

Passing under a pine tree in the midday sun, I am spoken to in the voice of hot-sweet-pine scent, the greeting of this tall being.

I look into the eyes of love in my friends and family, their hearts visible to mine, and I am grateful for their company on this life walk I’ve undertaken.

All of these things speak to me this day.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Grass Blowing In The Wind

As I watch
Light filter through the late summer grasses
Blowing breezes
Drift in from my childhood.

I long for the hills
The golden fields
The lapis skies
From that other time.

As the sun slants across the mountains
I know that
Autumn is on the wing.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Journey to the Wisdom of the Horse

As a group we had been instructed in this afternoon’s process. Each of the participants in the workshop silently and gently groomed the horse in front of them. As the drumming started we were to step back and begin our journey. I have never tried journey work standing up before, but why not ??

Accepting the rhythm of the drum, I moved back away from the horse and closed my eyes. I quickly found myself in total darkness. I was quiet with the blackness and then it began to take shape. It somehow felt like I was in a very large tube, the darkness felt soft, like velvet. It was not something that I could touch because I was somehow suspended in the middle of the tube, easily and gently being supported there. No worries.

I begin to notice a procession. It started way below me, the shapes were small. It looked as if they were slowly walking up black velvet steps that I could not really see, just imagine. The shapes were not close to me, but they further defined the feeling that I was in a large black cylinder. The procession arched around me and as they grew closer I could tell that they were horses, of every color; colors that “real” horses don’t normally come in ~ there were bright yellow horses and pink ones, and green ones. Some of them looked like carousal horses, but it was also very apparent that they were living, breathing, moving animals. They were beautiful. As they grew close, I saw their wings. Some were folded back along their backs but most were standing up, connected at the upper shoulder and moving gently with each step. It was so awesome I may have stopped breathing.

I have been told for years in different readings that I could work with the horses, if I so chose, and help them get their wings. But I could not visualize it and was totally unsure what to do next ….. and here they were, and they all had their wings. Sensing my question they said, “Yes, we already have our wings. We have always had our etheric wings. They are a sign of our divinity. Only you humans have never acknowledged them. Some of you are only now beginning to acknowledge our divinity. It is good and we are thankful.”

“So what am I supposed to do?” silently formulating another question in my mind.

“There are horses who have forgotten their own wings. You will find them in your healing work. You can help them remember and restore to them their divinity if they so choose. Share this vision with them and they will instantly remember ~ they will awaken to their own cellular memory”.

I nodded my head in agreement and continued to watch the procession of amazing creatures, silently climbing, creating now a wondrous spiral around me. I had tears in my eyes as rapid drumming drew me back into the arena and an outside voice instructed each of us to return to our bodies. I quietly whispered my prayers of gratitude for their willingness to be present with me this day. Another gracious miracle received.

* annette

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

John's Place

We drove up to the garage in the early afternoon. My sisters and I had arrived in Castlebar, a small town in County Mayo, and thought we’d find our second cousin John. He wasn’t there but the non-English speaking Polish man that worked for him tried to relay a message in sign language. It wasn’t coming through. We walked around for a few minutes noticing all the cars in various positions of need. A nice looking woman drove up and got out of her car so we asked her about John. “Oh, he’s always late.” she replied in her lovely Irish accent. “I can call him. He’ll want to see three pretty American women. He wouldn’t miss that, that much I know.” We look at each other as she seemed to have his cell phone number, the one we didn’t have. We guess, being a life long bachelor, he must enjoy the ladies. We know he’s sixty-one and owns this garage. He’s lived in this town, where he was born, all his life. The same town my grandmother was born in. In fact he lives on the land where my grandmother's house was, the same one she was born in back in 1900. He doesn’t travel and has never been on an airplane or traveled far from home.

She gets off the phone and tells us he’ll be here in a few minutes. We chat with her and receive further indications, from her remarks, he’s a bit of a ladies man. She is entertaining in the most natural way, as we find many of the Irish seem to have this innate ability. John arrives saying he thought from my letter that we’d be in the following week. He gives us all a big hug. He is a big guy with a bright smile and a familiar quality. He says he’s available for dinner the next night so we make a plan to meet him at the restaurant. He recommends we drive over to the house to see the land. It’s only five minutes away and there we stand on the land my grandmother grew up on. It hits me as I look around what it must have been like for her to leave and come to America as a twenty year old. It looked remote now, what was it like when she was here? Maybe not much different although we know John took the old house down to build the modest one he now lives in.

We meet the next night at the restaurant. It’s a lovely place, by a harbor. It’s a perfect evening with great seafood, which two of us have been eating since we arrived, one of us being a vegetarian. The conversation flows easily and he is a sweet and thoughtful host. He tells us stories of Irish relatives we’ve never known. He remarks he is only eleven years older than me. He finds that surprising, as he is my mother’s cousin, their fathers being brothers. He tells us a story of someone he knows who just married at age eighty-four. By those standards he figures he is young, and remarks “Maybe there is still hope for me, still time for the right one.” We try to convince him why he should visit us and his sister in the states, but I can see under the agreeable face, he’ll never leave. We will have to travel to see him again.

I loved so many things about being in Ireland. Not the least of which was how familiar it all felt. The land called to me in its stone faces, tucked away wells and dramatic coast line. But meeting our relatives was the biggest surprise and by far the highlight of my trip. The warmth and love that stretched across generations and time and the sea all rested in me.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009



Itching, itching, itching. I realize this has been going on for months. Back of head, hips, both liver areas. I’ve created a huge bump in the road, liver cancer, hepatitis B, autoimmune hepatitis, the docs are confused, it’s a mystery, they say. Didn’t I see it coming? Look deeper, deeper, my Cybele and guides say.
Tibetan bowl sessions in the van, as we’re camping in beautiful Wyoming, bringing powerful movement throughout my whole being. The sound caresses, nurtures, shatters falsehoods, negative energy. the loosening makes me feel more whole, more of a part, bringing speckles of peace.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Adventures with Datura, Part 3

I innocently walk through the garden, surveying the wild and cultured plants in their various states of pregnancy. The moonflower-datura has become majestic in stature. Her large white trumpets, fragrant as any rose, attract the bees to rub and drink. Those blooms last only one day before falling limp from the effort, moving inward to seed.

By removing her withered flowers before they seed, I can urge on further tries with further blooms. I decide to deadhead. I smell her sweetness as I gently, lovingly pluck away dying flowers and leaves. Some of her juice moistens my skin.

Then I notice a tingling in my hands, a nervous activation. There’s an expanding feeling, feeling my aura as well as my flesh and bones. The sensation creeps up my arms, slowly, minute by minute. Everything begins to look brighter, glowing with her moonlight even though it’s daytime, while flowing along in a mild dream of plant magic.

Yes Datura, you got under my skin and into my consciousness. Now I handle you with gloves unless I want a mild touch of lunacy for awhile. Thank you for your ever present possibilities.

--Terra Rafael

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Rose Castle

The Rose Castle

The day was brilliant for northern Scotland and my husband, Hugh Rose, and I were meandering around the arboretum at the Rose Castle near Inverness. We had wanted to go to the Castle, which had been turned into a Christian guesthouse, for several years.

Having some time before starting our yearlong studies at the International Society for Continuous Education in England, we decided to take a sojourn to the land where Hugh’s ancestors had arrived with the Norman Conquest in 1066 A.D. We also wanted to visit the Findhorn community that we had been reading about while we were living in Ibiza, Spain.

The Castle was all that I imagined a Scottish castle would be like. Our room was historic, to say the least. The massive four-poster bed was hung with heavy curtains to keep out the damp chill that came off the bay and the sea. The sitting rooms and dining room were the epitome of graciousness and charm, even with the stern portraits of the Rose clan watching every move one made. The food was superb with luscious scones and jam, fish and eggs for breakfast and a delectable dinner in the evening. Lunch was on us but, of course, there was the, not to be missed, afternoon tea. This was the last castle still inhabited by the original clan.

This particular afternoon, Hugh and I were soaking in the beauty of the countryside. The huge and ancient trees towered over our dwarfed presences. Their impressive majesty brought our humanity to humility. As I walked, marveling at such grandeur, I came upon a small, insignificant shrub of a tree. Suddenly, the space opened up between us and was filled with an unimaginable love. The direct communication with this form of life, so different from my own, brought me to my knees. Gratitude for this experience of Oneness with all of life took my pride and turned it inside out. That such a connection could be felt and apprehended was quite beyond anything that I could have fathomed. I knew that it was reciprocal and that I was being shown that Presence is everywhere, in all that is.

This gift remains with me always as my love for the land deepens into a well of Grace.

Prema Rose

Saturday, August 15, 2009


To those who sought
safety on our shores,
I salute you.
To those who came here,
courageously abandoning
the family, the friends,
to live in a new world,
a new way of doing things,
I applaud your adventurous spirit
and your willingness
to dance on the edge
and try something
totally new.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Going to Africa

“They’ll never accept you,” he said, after I had just recounted to him my excitement about applying for a community development program in Africa. Since first hearing about the program two days ago I knew this was something I wanted to do, had to do. I was running across campus to the dean’s office to hand in my proposal when I ran into an ex boyfriend, football jock, track star, and frat boy. He seemed to have a fair opinion of himself but not of me.

My usual response to a put down like this was to hear a negative voice in my head join chorus with the one just spoken. Not this time, however. My mouth hung open for a split second before something else took hold of me. I looked up at my friend surprised at such a vehement statement. He looked down on me shaking his head but he could not put out the fire inside me.

With the shaking of his head I felt the fire grow strong and steady. No way! I was not going to let him slow me down. Turning I ran like a deer to the dean’s office, bolted through the door without knocking and, breathless. I flung the proposal on his desk. He looked at the big manila envelope and then at me with a big smile.

“I’ve been waiting for this,” he said, “I’ll take it home tonight but the fire in your eyes tells me everything I need to know.”

I ran out into the winter sun singing at the top of my lungs!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I hear Buddy rattling around in the kitchen and soon smell his coffee brewing. I call out to him to let him know where I am. He yells back that breakfast is on him this morning and I wonder which of his favorites he will surprise me with. My coffee is kicking in so I switch out my robe for some old comfortable work clothes and get my yard work done ~ hoe down the bean and corn rows and make a mental note to throw the coffee grounds on the tomatoes. I reach over and open up the spicket to the soaker hose and watch it snake around to the different gardens.

After a hearty breakfast of home made tamales (from the freezer) with scrambled eggs and cheese, Buddy fills up his coffee mug and we walk out to the side yard. My mare has a little spotted bay filly and his quarter horse mare had another gorgeous colt this year. Plus we have a friend’s mare and her little baby. What a beautiful picture they make. Everyone is healthy and content. We trimmed one of the big trees in the front yard so that we could watch the babies play as we set in the living room. This is a dream come true for me.

I head back to the kitchen to make us a picnic lunch while Buddy gets the truck and trailer ready & double checks that we have every thing in the trailer that we are gonna need. We are off to meet some friends for a trail ride in the mountains. We like to go in the middle of the week when the trails are less crowded. We load up the horses and hit the road. I am in heaven. We have a lot to talk about because we are both going to be riding in a ranch horse versatility competition next weekend. Just like a cowboy, he thinks his quarter horses are superior, but I plan on giving him a run for his money on my fox trotter. “No matter what” I tease him, “my butt will feel better this evening after a full’s day ride!” I am referring to the smooth gait that fox trotters are known for ~ just one of the reasons that I love ‘em. But he grins at me, arches his eyebrows and makes a joke about checking my butt tonight. The look he gives me makes me tingle. Did I mention that I adore this guy?

After a marvelous day of trail riding we head for home. He asks what’s for dinner and I make a few uninspiring suggestions. I get bold and tell him what I’d really like is sushi. I am not sure if this will go over big since we have been gone all day, but I remind him of the effect raw fish and warm sake have on me. I can feel his eyes twinkling. I seal the deal with the promise to help him feed the horses.

He’s mine!

In no time at all we are heading into town to our favorite Japanese restaurant. We make it there in time to catch the last minutes of happy hour and quickly put in our order. I love sake ~ it relaxes me and makes me giggle. It is a good thing. We compare notes on today’s ride and exchange ideas for our up-coming house warming party. You see, in a couple of months I will make my last mortgage payment and will own the farm free and clear. It will be a day to celebrate.

I melt into his side as we drive home; thanking God this old truck doesn’t have bucket seats! I grin to myself as I think, “older IS better”. “Hey, don’t you quit on me now”, Buddy blows in my ear, “we have one more chore to do tonight.” “What is that?” i ask frowning, trying to imaging what we had left undone.

“Well, we have to compare butts, to see whose is doing better!” Oh yeah! I rub my hand on his upper thigh and ask, “Then why are you driving so slow?”

“WOW” I lean back and smile “what an amazing day this has been ~ and it is not over yet! I found a man who loves farming, horses, sushi and me! Life is Good!!”

* annette

PS. Did I mention that this was a fantasy piece ~of what a perfect day might look like? I didn't? Well, amazingly enough some of it has come true since I wrote it three years ago!! Powerful imagination!? Try it !!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Love is All There Is

I know we like to “work” things out. Figure out what went wrong and when. Who did what to you, her or him? And why did they do it and what happened to them, that they did it in the first place? We want to know. How we really feel and what is it we need to say or not because of those feelings. And don’t forget all the times you didn’t say something and someone took advantage of you or you did to them. It usually came from your past and it’s hard work to unwind it. It’s stuck in your body or mind or both. We have ancient history and it screwed us all up. It’s endless digging, surmising, and guessing. It’s all about sorting through the minutia to find the key. The one you must have lost along the way. It must be in there somewhere. If only I could just clean out this or that, or release this or that or remember the first time my mother yelled at me or when I started to believe I wasn’t good enough and why. The rabbit hole.

Yes, you can make it important. We all have and do at one time or another. But it is a new time. New ways have arrived like the sun bringing it’s light each day. New possibilities exist this day as rays reach a little deeper into our hearts and minds opening new pathways.

What if we could remember “Only Love is Real” and everything else isn’t. What happens to all that stuff we thought was so important to work out or didn’t even know we believed, but it ran and limited a part of our lives? Maybe even directed the show. What if we skipped to the ending and started with Forgiveness and remembering Love? Because we knew we were safe and loved and if that’s the truth then it’s not so hard to extend a hand and understand. Maybe we were playing games with ourselves and everybody else, just for the fun of it, because we could. A cosmic hide and seek. And no one ever really did anything to us. Only us. And the way out is not long or hard but simple. Only it requires courage till you get the hang of it. To act knowing love is the only real thing in the midst of confusion, strife or darkness, even if it’s in the littlest of ways. To be the one to make it real when others aren’t sure or are sure it’s not. To claim it for yourself at all times, in all places and then give it away freely.

Maybe the Beatles got it right after all, forty years ago, and “Love is All there Is.”


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Prose - Mint Omelette

Several years ago in Abiquiu, N.M. I taught an all day yoga and Jin Shin Jyutsu class. Since everyone was coming a distance to attend the class, I suggested a pot luck lunch. They all brought something delicious, but there was one contribution I particularly remember well and still taste in my memory.
One of the participants, Jean, a Frenchman, brought a cold mint omelette. I thought, a COLD MINT OMELETTE! Sitting around all morning, it couldn’t be good by lunch time. Well, I am telling you now, that was one of the best omelettes I’ve ever tasted. Maybe it wouldn’t be so good when the weather is cooler, but for a hot summer day, it was perfect. The truth of the matter is we really wanted more, it was that good. No cheese involved, just mint, I don’t even remember if it was spearmint or peppermint, and eggs, a little seasoning. Experiment, try it out, you may even find another herb you like better. But its hard to beat mint for summertime cooling. And to think an omelette can have a longer life than we ever imagined.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Question Poem- Beauty Way

Can the world survive if we follow the Beauty Way?
If we focus only on the Highest Vision could we bridge the gap
and attain that world on this earth?
Can there be angels without devils?
Can we trust, can we love, can we live
without being sucked dry or destroyed by takers & fakers?
How big can the Beauty Way be and still survive?

by Terra Rafael

Sunday, August 9, 2009

French Table

French Table

Several times a year, I would be assigned to sit at the French Table at my boarding school, St. Mary’s. We would only be allowed to speak French during our meals so, often, we would find ourselves at a loss for words. This, however, was quickly compensated for by giggles, smirks, and surreptitious kicks under the table.
The reason for the hilarity was our French teacher.

Madame was an over-the-top middle aged woman but, to our perspective, she was ancient. She was all of five feet tall in her sensible heel shoes. She did provide a constant source of entertainment. Her brown pageboy wig would slip over the eyebrow (one or another) and those, in themselves, would wander all over her face, as did her lipstick, drawn on by a not too steady hand.

She would try to make each of us speak in turn, but her own alcohol laden speech would slur into incomprehensibility. We all managed to get some stilted sentences out, all the while trying to hold back the spontaneous eruptions of laughter.

Once, when I had eaten a very filling dinner, I exclaimed, “Je suis plein!”

Madame was horrified. She turned red, and then white, and eventually stuttered that I had just informed everyone that I was pregnant. And I thought that I was saying, “I am full”.

Alors, sa va!

Prema Rose

Saturday, August 8, 2009


The Fall of Rome
The Fall of the Holy Catholic Empire
The Fall of the year
when dry blue skies
blow winds of change
along the rippled edges of lakes
and through the quaking aspens
and forests of flame and sun shades.
Bone weeds tumble through
the prairies of suburban neighborhoods,
getting snagged on hybrid lawns
and ground back into the earth
under tires of traffic and boredom.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Is life really a bowl of cherries?
Red and juicy
Fresh from the tree?

Come on,
Can you do it?
Can you be red and juicy
Fresh and free?

Do you know how to chuckle and giggle?
To smile
To laugh
To howl and slap your knee?
Can you laugh at yourself
In all your silliness

Can you eat crow and
Humble pie?
Or do you want green jello
With cottage cheese and pineapple?
It’s okay
But not as good
As fresh cherries.


Thursday, August 6, 2009


I wake up ~ it is early morning ~ I feel warm and cuddly under the blankets. I look at my partner. He looks so young and innocent as he sleeps. I thank the goddess for helping me find this warm and gentle man. He is funny ~ yet thoughtful, handy around the farm and comfortable with all our friends. He is the kind of guy who is “comfortable living in his own skin” whether he was born like that or earned it, I’m not sure, but it is sure easy to be with him. I adore him and when I catch him looking at me, I know the feeling is mutual.

Nature calls again and I slip out of bed, grab my robe and quietly leave our room. I always look forward to my first cup of coffee in the morning. It is a blend of spring water, instant coffee, chocolate syrup and a little milk. It’s like starting every day with dessert first. Sometimes I will brew up a mug of Earl Grey or a dark Chai for a pleasant change of routine. I add a little dribble of maple syrup and milk to my teas ~ it is tastier to me and I make the argument that it is easier on my stomach. Whatever………… I like it.

I love this early morning time. The world is quiet around me ~ I soak up this peaceful feeling. Some mornings I read a book, sometimes I meditate before my morning coffee. But this morning I set out in the screened in porch and listen to the birds. We have a nice little farm, I would love more acreage, but this place is arranged so well, it feels larger than it is. We have a small yard to maintain ~ there were large shade trees when I arrived and I try to keep them happy so they will be with us forever. I have several small garden areas filled with mostly perennials ~ they have developed and filled out nicely in the last few years and require a minimum of upkeep. And there’s the corn & beans ~ I love growing them ~ and tomatoes, of course. At this point in time I only grow those things that easy to harvest. Keep it simple, that’s my motto. And of course there are my herb gardens ~ edibles and medicinals vie for space ~ it is more unkempt and wild looking ~ just the way I like it. I get a kick out of visitors who wonder out loud at my huge mother wort plants. “Are you growing pot right here” they ask. I may tease them along for a few minutes about needing another cash crop, before I fess up and explain my love for the comforting mother wort. I warn them about the healthy stand of nettles I have tucked in the corner ~ which is now re-defining it’s boundaries. Every one loves the lemon balm and Sweet William and I usually leave them with that.

I glance over at the 3 car garage. It is separate from the house with an enclosed breeze way that is a delightful living area, especially in the winter when I bring a lot of the plants inside. A small heater keeps it just warm enough to keep the plants alive and a chair tucked back into the foliage makes for a great place for reading.

The apartment over the garage looks quiet. I have always had some one living there ~ that way I can get away when I want to and not worry about the animals. Now that I have Buddy in my life, it is a little bit different. He is a big help with the animals, which is as it should be since he came with his own herd!

I look past the circular driveway and scan the fields. While our maintained yard is small, we have several large pastures cross fenced. “Let the horses keep their own yard mowed” ~ that’s what I always say. All summer long they look longingly at the eight acres were we raise our grass hay. We give our neighbor part of the crop every year in exchange for the time he spends mowing and baling it ~ it works out great for us both.

I love the barn. There are 4 large stalls ~ each with an attached run. It is not fancy but it’s sturdy and I have a nice size sized tack room and a separate grain storage room. It is a walk-through design like my grandpa’s, but a lot smaller. Nice! I have a large arena with pole & twisted wire fencing and several out-door lights on tall poles. One stays on all the time as a security light, but the others are on a switch and stay off unless we need them. A hay storage building, some lean-to shelters for the horses, a small round pen and a fenced chicken coop ~ are scattered round just where they need to be. Maybe some day we’ll have an indoor arena ~ that sounds sweet.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Food Matters & Julia

Landing in Santa Barbara in 1979 felt a lot like coming home and though food was not on my mind in those days I was surrounded by it. It started with me waitressing at a couple of the popular tourist places, as I honed in those skills. Lucky enough to move on, in a few short months, to a new place opening downtown called The Brasserie, I started to reap the rewards of a shorter workday, as it was only open for lunch. The restaurant was attached and opened to an upscale kitchen and cookware store that was probably an earlier reincarnation of William Sonoma. The owner, which the store was named after, was far ahead of his time in creative and cooking endeavors and it soon attracted the clientele to match it. His abilities stretched to every little detail, of which I had no idea so many small matters mattered. Like the half hour lesson I remember on the “French Press.” Did you know the water has to boil for just long enough, then sit till just so, before pouring only the smallest amount on top of the grinds? Why? It’s very important not to pour too much water right away as the coffee grinds (ground to a coarse perfection) need room to expand and release their essence while you wait patiently before the rest of the water can be gently added. As I said, 'very specific' matters, but he did this with everything. Which fit right in with my boyfriend of the time, who had taken over as chef, and who had the same inclinations that the owner had perfected and now was the eager student. Mind you I had none of those inclinations and saw no value in them as I kept mum, at least most of the time. But I did obey, as I liked the job and loved my boyfriend.

This was just one of the things I remember along with my first taste of Chocolate Mouse Cake, a new and popular item back then with me and the patrons. The passion of the owner and my boyfriend led them to join in with an elite group that formed with the intent of educating the public on food matters. This would become the base of my boyfriend’s life long work and leadership in the field. But at that time it got the attention of Julia Child who had recently been in the process of moving her set up to Santa Barbara. Eventually my boyfriend got to work on some of her shows, consulting. I, being fairly ignorant of the food world and thinking it was basically as interesting as fuel, which in my mind did the same thing for your body as fuel did for the car, had a few interactions with her. I’d come to pick him up at the end of an afternoon shoot but as usual they were running late. I would learn and never like that everything to do with preparing food, and my boyfriend, usually ran late. I came in, dressed in my typical Santa Barbara beach town shorts, tee and flip-flops. As I was introduced to Julia she commented “Darling, if only you’d have dressed I’d sat you at the table tonight. I could have used a pretty face.” I slinked back into a not too well lit corner to watch quietly till my boyfriend’s role was done. “How embarrassing” was the feeling but I also knew I never pretended to be anything but ignorant and uninterested in food.

Another interaction came much later in her life. I was attending a very large birthday celebration for an eighty-year-old friend. It turned out she shared the same exclusive retirement community as Julia and they had become acquainted. Most of the folks living there were part timers. My friend kept a home a couple of miles away and only visited for lunch and events for the longest time before actually needing to retire there on a full time basis. I guess this was common as the waiting time to get in was extensive and so you had to get in before you needed to. It was said the Julia had her kitchen redone to be exactly like the one she’d designed and loved and lived with for a long time. I’m sitting at one of the dozen, or more, tables when Julia walks up with lots of attention being slathered on her and sits down across from me. She was as regal and as noticeable a presence as ever. Being a fairly tall, large women and known for her humor I thought “Great! She’ll be entertaining.” But her humor and TV spark had faded with the years. She would pass away just two years later at the ripe old age of ninety-one. Yet, that evening, her interest in the food was as lively as I’d always remembered and heard. She commented on each thing, seeming to know every fine nuance about it. A life long love of food served her well.

Luckily my interest in food grew with age and the passing years. I now appreciate it in ways I never would have imagined. I finally get the excitement on the set all those decades ago, the rushing around to make sure it looked just so, the passion and the particulars that made it all so perfect. I see the beauty of the art behind my once shallow thought of ‘food for fuel’ concept. I was slow to come to this and so many other things. But now it is fresh for me, food matters, and I enjoy it all the more with the wisdom of time and memories of earlier moments.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Poem - Bighorn

His golden balls of eyes peered from the sides,
As he gently, yet with determination, nudged against me.

Stroking his thick dense hair of a lanolin coated body,
I stood, awe-struck.

A Bighorn introduces us to Bighorn country.

He wanted our company, to connect, sending his love,
As he once more began to nudge

I welcomed his wild energy, as he seemed to receive my tamed.

His horns were massive swirls around his head, this majestic Ram of the
Bighorn sheep tribe.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Poem - Sun Worshipper

I enjoy planting myself in full sun.
I drink it,
In remembrance of photosynthesis and Ra.
Scientist-priests of our culture and commercials warn against it.
They want me to wear a burkah of sunscreen or clothes when outdoors.
Every plant has its end.
With time, even perennials stop blooming and finally crumble and dry,

Returning to the elements.
Pagan, I would rather soak in
that sunlight
that cool moonlight
that rain, even hearing thunder
Than die by their chemicals and fearful words,
An empty ghost,
trying to buy a wrinkle-free, eternal body,
substituting consuming for a life and death in nature.

by Terra Rafael

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lemon Tarts

Lemon Tarts

I really learned to cook when I spent a year at the International Academy for Continuous Education, the Gurdjieff Fourth Way School in the Cotswolds of England. We had over 100 people to cook for at every meal and, often on weekends, there were many guests. We were divided into three groups. Every third day one of the groups had the duties of running the enormous household and grounds of the 16th century stone manor house, animals, and gardens. Within each group, we were assigned tasks for that day. These were rotated around the thirty, or so, students in our group so that, at some time, everyone had a chance to do everything. It did not matter if you had never done the task before or even if you were totally incompetent and hated the thought of it. That was perfect for doing the inner work and not becoming a slave to our likes and dislikes. We stretched our perceived limitations beyond anything we could have fathomed.

I found myself being the Chief Cook on this particular day, which meant that I was in charge of the kitchen and the assistant cooks for all three meals and afternoon tea. The menus had been pre-set and all the ingredients were available. All went well and it was fairly uneventful until dinner. I had to make over 100 individual lemon tarts. It was a disaster! I couldn’t get the consistency of the pie dough right. Either it was too moist and sticky or too dry and crumbly. It wouldn’t roll out so that I could cut nice little rounds to fit into the cups. None of the other people had a clue, either. Finally, as time was getting very tight before I had to get the whole dinner up to the dining room to be served, I resorted to the only thing I could think of. I took bits of pie dough and pressed them into the cups of the muffin tins. Then I filled them with the lemon goo that we had prepared, baked them and voila! Lemon Tarts. Breathing a sigh of relief, dinner was served on time.

Now, the dining room in this mansion, Sherborne, was not your usual dining room. It was about 1,200 square feet of wooden floor and wainscoting panels. The walls were hung with portraits of all the royals that had inhabited this manor house since the famous architect, Christopher Wren, had first built it in Elizabethan times. (It had a fire at one point and had been rebuilt). They were hung almost to the top of the 20 foot ceiling. The room was filled with long tables to accommodate everyone. Along one side, by the windows, were three tables in a row. The middle one was the head table. At the head of the head table was the place of John G. Bennett, the director of the school. He was an imposing 6 foot 2 inch man with a shock of silver hair and piercing blue eyes. His energy, at 75 years, was more than most of the young students.

Those of us who had prepared the meal, sat across the room at the cooks table. Toward the end of dinner, Mr. B. got up and strode across the room to our table. In his booming voice, he demanded to know who the head cook was. I was terrified and tried to shrink to all of two inches. Timidly, I answered that I was, fully expecting to be reduced to a pulp, quivering like Jello on the floor.

“Those are the best lemon tarts I ever had”, he proclaimed and left the hall.

You could have scraped me up with a spatula. I understand now that he was referring to the energy that I had put into the tarts because of being on the edge, as I had been. I had to be creative, to be focused, to be coordinated, and to pull my team together. Most of all, I had to be present in the moment.

These invaluable lessons abounded in this monastery school. I am forever grateful for the time that I spent there, intense as it was. And now, I make a really good pie crust.

Prema Rose

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Needle Arts

A button has come loose. I take a few minutes on my way out the door, and sew it back on, checking the one next to it and tightening that one as well.
I’m on my way to be a door captain at the Colorado Music Festival, where I volunteer each summer. Loving classical music, I’m grateful to be an usher during the five week series at the beginning of the summer.
This summer I dropped into being a door captain with several people working with me, by default. One woman didn’t show up one evening and I was asked to sub in. Since then, I’ve been given that role at one of the four door entry ways into the huge Chautauqua auditorium, a huge barn-like structure that was built in a record amount of time and accommodates the orchestra and global music performances.
I wind the thread and knot it. Needle arts…how they relax me. I live in an adrenaline-oriented body system and I’m always looking for ways to calm down and relax. From eating cheese and heavier foods that knock me out, to herbs and music that let me breathe out slowly, to physical exertions of energy. And here, sewing on a button, reminds me of how relaxing I find hand sewing. I had forgotten.
I had embroidered table cloths with my mother from the time I was seven, simple cross-stitch patterns growing into flowers and leaves.
Then, years later, sitting at a playground while my young son romped with other kids on slides and swings, I embroidered velvet pouches that I gave as gifts.
I had just forgotten how hand sewing gave me a focus to relax behind. In and out with needle and thread, calming my in and out breaths, calming my mind in the process.
I wonder what project I’ll dream up here in the next few weeks to provide a place to come to relax. I’m looking forward to what I dream up.