A Song About Mars … and Earth

In 2010, I was hiking near the San Pedro River when I was inspired to write a song about the planets.

You may be wondering (as I was at first) how a walk in the woods could turn into a song about outer space. Well, I can explain. Meet my muse, the vermilion flycatcher.

Bee in the Pink-3

There I was, minding my own business, walking through the woods on a bright autumn day, thinking about trees and sky and birds. I was hoping to see a vermilion flycatcher. I didn’t see one that day, but I think one must have been up in the trees looking down at me.

As I walked along, I was filled with a beautiful feeling. Maybe it was the fresh air, the blue sky, or the bright sunshine, but I felt a song coming on. I thought it was going to be about that bird.

But when I got home, the words that came out were about two planets instead. Earth and Mars. I think I wanted to write about Earth, and thoughts of the vermilion flycatcher made me think of the color red. Somehow the two came together into this song about two best friends in space, Eartha Tierra (Earth) and Marty Vermilion (Mars).

Since NASA landed a probe on Mars today, I thought it would be a good day to post the lyrics to the song. You can listen to it for free by clicking on the song title, which is:

Vertical Horizon

Eartha Tierra was a beauty
Marty Vermilion was her friend
It had been that way since forever
It looked like it never would end
Eartha Tierra turned to Marty
My friends call me Mama, she said
Marty rearranged his auburn hair
And he answered, You can call me Red
 
Eartha and Marty were neighbors
Grew up on the same side of the tracks
In daytime they traveled in circles
At night they watched each other’s backs
The days soon turned into seasons
The seasons turned into years
Some years were better than others
And some just brought Eartha to tears
 
                        Some folks believe in miracles, she cried
                        They pray for salvation and such
                        Others just tryin’ to survive
                        They don’t really ask for much
                        But I’m lookin’ for a vertical horizon
                        A total eclipse of this scene
                        Somewhere a settin’ sun is risin’
                        That’s where I wanna be
 
One day Eartha said to Marty
There’s problems from pole to pole
The gravity of this situation
Is beginning to take its toll
No sooner had Eartha spoken
Than Marty was quick to agree
I’m tired of this constant revolution, he said
I need some peace and tranquility
 
                        Why can’t people be friends like us
                        And walk in each other’s shoes
                        They could be tasting heaven on earth
                        Instead of these heart-heavy blues
                        So I’m lookin’ for a vertical horizon
                        A total eclipse of this scene
                        Somewhere a settin’ sun is risin’
                        That’s where I wanna be
                        Yeah, I’m lookin’ for a vertical horizon
                        A total eclipse of this scene
                        Somewhere a settin’ sun is risin’
                        That’s where I wanna, that’s where I wanna be.
 
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Oh Bee Hive!

For the past several months, I’ve been taking a yoga class. Today’s class was especially relaxing. We always start and end with shavasana, which involves lying down on a yoga mat. It doesn’t get any gentler than that.

In between the two shavasanas, we do some mild stretching, yawning, twisting, rocking, and balancing … nothing difficult. I go there for the relaxation factor. It’s literally the most relaxing part of my whole week, including the parts of my week while I’m asleep.

Today we did something at the end of class, during shavasana, that was so enjoyable for me that I wanted to share it with you. It was a guided observation that went something like this:

“Imagine yourself holding a mortar in your left hand, and a pestle in your right hand.

Now imagine everything that makes you sick or causes you pain dropping into your mortar, pebble by pebble.

Now take your right hand and grind your pebbles into a fine dust.

Now blow the dust away. Let it disappear.

Now imagine that every cell in your body is being filled up with a beautiful golden light.

Let the light warm you and envelop you. Enjoy your beautiful golden light.

(After a minute or two of enjoying the sensations created by our imaginations, we continued.)

Now release the light into the atmosphere. Just let it gently fade away.”


I’ve experienced relaxation exercises before, but never like this. This one was special for me. I think it was because it began with the image of something very tangible: a mortar and pestle that I could hold in my hands. The directions were very specific. Mortar in left hand, pestle in right. Grind, grind, grind. Blow. Pouff! Gone.

And then, cells. Lots of them. And warm golden light. All very physical, very real to me. I imagined myself as a beehive.

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I really liked this exercise. Grinding the pebbles into dust made me feel strong. Blowing them away gave me a sense of relief. Then each cell in my body filling up with warm, golden honey made me feel like I glowed. I think my head was even buzzing.

I didn’t want to release the light, but I knew I couldn’t lie there in shavasana forever, so I came back to reality. But even after I had done so, some of the energy of the golden light remained. I felt calm and energized at the same time.

I thought it was a very effective imagery exercise, and I just wanted to share it with you.

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Fewer Presents, More Presence

I knew I was old when my daughter called me last night and said she won’t be exchanging any Christmas presents this year, “except for the kids.”

I breathed a sigh of relief.

“Ahh … that’s finally over with,” I thought, supremely thankful that she’d had the grace to announce her intentions on the day before Black Friday, before I’d started my Christmas shopping.

I love my daughters, but trying to guess what gifts would bring them pleasure, frantically wrapping said gifts, cramming them into shipping boxes, standing in long lines at the post office, and paying extra just so they’d arrive by December 25 was something I wouldn’t miss (especially since I usually don’t begin the process until December 15).

And I knew they were probably struggling with the same ordeal: buying (or in many cases making), wrapping, and mailing their usual abundance of gifts, all with tight schedules and limited budgets.

For years, I dutifully trudged in and out of stores searching for the perfect gifts that I imagined would make my daughters’ eyes light up with glee. I baked cookies, knit scarves, and framed my own photos for them. I then graduated to letting someone else make the gifts by shopping at Etsy. It was fun and festive for a few days, and then it quickly became a disheartening matter of settling for things I wasn’t sure they’d even like.

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How they probably looked after opening presents from me.

As bad as that sounds, for the past couple of years our family has hit a new low: the Amazon Gift List, which basically boils down to the following interaction:

Recipient: “I want all of these things on my Gift List! You can buy them right now! It’s so convenient! I’m only telling you this to make your life easier!”

Me: “But these things are not at all unique! Don’t you trust me to buy you something wonderful?”

Recipient: “No comment. And now look: I’ve added even more things to my Gift List!”

Me: “Well … but it seems so impersonal … I don’t know …”

Amazon: “Don’t worry, there’s free shipping! Would you like a gift card with that?”

Me: (Sigh) “Sure.”

(Just kidding. My family isn’t really like that.)

My daughter’s current sentiments (seconded by my other daughter, my stepdaughter, and my husband) have finally allowed me to enjoy the holidays. Yes, I’ll still go a little crazy trying to come up with fun, exciting, and educational gifts for the three young ones in our family (books are always a good choice) but now I’ll actually be able to focus on fewer gifts for a change. Maybe I’ll make some by hand. I could even use my savings to make a donation to a worthy cause.

This is even more appealing when I think of how much I hate shopping. It wasn’t always so. I actually enjoyed shopping once upon a time, when I was about 15 years old. Department stores had fancy window displays and heavy revolving doors. When you pushed your way through them, you entered into a calm, orderly world of carpeted floors, gliding elevators, and the subtle fragrance of expensive perfume.

In high school, I’d ride the city bus downtown to the prestigious Sibley’s to do a little window shopping. The clothes sold at Sibley’s were well-made, and hence, I usually couldn’t afford them (but I liked trying them on). Then I’d head across the street to McCurdy’s basement in search of a bargain.

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How I felt while shopping at Sibley’s.

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How I actually looked.

Finally, I’d have lunch or a snack upstairs at McCurdy’s classy yet affordable restaurant, which made me feel pampered and rich again. Sometimes I’d meet a friend there. Shopping was a social event in my youth. Now it’s an agonizing ordeal for me, at best.

This year, there will be fewer presents to go around, but perhaps greater presence of mind, and more time to reflect on other gifts — such as peace, good will, charity, and light — all of which are celebrated around the world in December. There will always be other opportunities to buy things and mail them off when the urge hits me. I’m just glad I don’t have to do it right now.

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Thankful for Peppers

Today I’m going to cheat a bit and write about other people’s posts.

By other people, I mean Cheer Peppers, a.k.a. bloggers participating in the daily November blogging challenge known as NanoPoblano. If you want to indulge in some good reading, and if you’re on Facebook, find the Cheer Peppers group and join it.

Or you can find them in the Cheer Peppers list below. (I hope I haven’t left any out. I borrowed this list from fellow Cheer Pepper Carolyn Owens.)

A.R. at StarvingActivist.com
Barbara at teleportingweena.wordpress.com
Bill at BillFriday.com
Breanna at BooksHooksAndYarn.wordpress.com
Carolyn Owens at InfinityCoaching.net
Cyn at Cynk.wordpress.com
David at TooFullToWrite.com
Dean at DeanKealy.design
Echo at trueecho22.wordpress.com
Gwenlynn at JustALittleBitSweet.com
Hasty at FearingCrazy.wordpress.com
Hope at HopesThoughts.blog
Jessie at BehindTheWillows.com
Jesska at NotThrowingStones.today
Julia at AberrantCrochet.com
Julie at JulieBurton.blog
Kay at SuddenlyTheyAllDied.com
Kim at DrunkOnLifeBlog.com
Lillian at HumanInRecovery.wordpress.com
Liz at CatsAndChocolate.com
Lori at LoriStory.wordpress.com
Matt at TheMatticusKingdom.com
Namy at NamySaysSo.com
Nessa at vanessence.wordpress.com
Nutty at SpokenLikeATrueNut.wordpress.com
Owen at NoTalentForCertainty.com
Paula at TheTemenosJournal.com
Ra at Rarasaur.com
Rebecca at MommyQuits.wordpress.com
Renee at ReneeRobbinsWrites.com
Revis at RevisEdgewater.wordpress.com
Robert at FreshOffThePadPoetry.wordpress.com
Sahara at CreoSomnium.org
Symanntha at FailingAtHaiku.wordpress.com
Quixie at QuixiesMindPalace.wordpress.com

In keeping with the energetic but forgiving spirit of the Cheer Peppers, I’ve been trying to keep up with my daily posts (but not beating myself up if I skip days). I’m also trying to read ALL other Cheer Pepper posts. So far I’ve posted 14/21 days but read all posts for only 3/21 days. I’m batting .667 when it comes to posting, but only .143 for reading.

It’s not that I don’t love reading their posts. I do! It’s just that I run out of time during the week. But I’ll get caught up, I promise! I’m pledging today to read a ton of Cheer Pepper posts over this 4-day weekend.

To prove I’m serious about my pledge, here’s what I’m using to keep track of my progress.

image1

By November 30, I hope to post another photo showing many more check marks in the right hand column.

Cheer Peppers are a thoughtful, funny, kind, and talented bunch, and their work is labor-intensive. Blogging is different from other types of writing, in that blog posts often try to say a lot using a relatively limited number of words.

Good blog posts are attention grabbing, clear, concise, artistic, sometimes amusing, and often deeply personal. It’s difficult to get all of that into a blog post, which is why I’m so thankful I stumbled upon the riches of NanoPoblano. Not only is it good writing practice for me, but it’s introduced me to some amazing people.

Thanks, Cheer Peppers!

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Two Horses

Last November, David Ellis introduced me to the concept of “found poetry.” (David is a fellow blogger and “Cheer Pepper” — a participant in November’s daily blogging extravaganza known as “NanoPoblano.”)

Found poetry (also known as “blackout poetry”) is a poem that you discover and then alter by deleting certain words until a new poem emerges. I never thought of stealing borrowing David’s idea until November 18th rolled around and I was stuck for an idea of my own.

But since I like including photos with my blog entries, I took a little field trip first. Camera in hand, I ventured an hour from my home to the small town of Tubac, Arizona, near the Mexico border. As sunset approached, I came upon two horses contentedly enjoying their dinner.

horses at Tubac

I returned home and began my search for a Found Poem that had something to do with horses. I decided on Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Here’s the original:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

And now here is my Found Poem:

I think I know in the village
his little horse near the lake.
The darkest bells shake to ask
if there is the sweep of easy wind.
The woods are lovely and deep
but I have to go to sleep.

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Song of the Iguana

I’ve written and recorded a song about iguanas. Read on to learn why my songwriting career has taken this reptilian turn.

My friend Elaine Powers is an author and biologist who lives and works with reptiles. Her pets include iguanas, tortoises, tegu lizards, and a turtle. She currently is actively involved in saving endangered iguanas in the Carribbean.

As Elaine explained to me recently, rock iguanas and spiny-tail iguanas living in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and other islands have become endangered due to habitat loss and introduced (non-native) predators. Spiny-tails are sometimes consumed by humans. The Statia iguanas on St. Eustatius Island are threatened by hybridization with the non-native green iguana. Some iguanas, while warming themselves on asphalt highways, get run over by cars, either accidentally or for sport. And then there’s poaching for the pet trade. Elaine’s group is trying to educate the public about the importance of native iguanas to the local ecosystem.

After hearing about the plight of the iguanas, I decided to write a song about them. Elaine had the song animated by Anderson Atlas, and she posted it on her YouTube channel.

To see and hear the video, click the following link:

Iguana Song

There’s even an iguana joke at the end of the song.

I’m hoping it catches on in the Carribbean. Do they have some version of a Grammy there? Maybe a Carribby? I’d settle for a paid vacation. But the real prize would be helping the iguanas to survive and thrive on their native island homes.

I’d love to hear your comments, and sharing is always appreciated!

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Just Gelato

 

I needed a break from the news, a break from the work week, and a little break from writing today. I decided to just stare at this photo of gelato for a while.

gelato

Unfortunately, the gelato in the picture is long gone. I consumed it last September while visiting Florence, Italy (the birthplace of gelato).

I’m feeling more chill now. I may be able to write again tomorrow.

This photo is dedicated to David Ellis … to further entice him to visit Florence as soon as possible.

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Diversity Song

Yesterday, I walked to a little park near my apartment. It was a beautiful day. People of all ages, shapes, and sizes were out walking and riding bikes. A gray-haired woman sat on a bench in the sun next to a young woman with Down syndrome. A bald man on a recumbent bike sat quietly next to a statue, a memorial to children in the community who have died. Children played on a rainbow-colored slide. I noticed that it was also a rainbow-colored variety of children; their hair was black, brown, and yellow. It got me thinking about America.

It’s hard NOT to think about America these days (especially if, like me, you happen to be an American). We’re in the news every day, and most of it’s downright embarrassing. But at the park, I started thinking about what I believe truly makes America great. To me, it’s our diversity.

Maybe this Thanksgiving, Americans should make more of an effort to give thanks for our diversity. And maybe we should celebrate it this Fourth of July, too.

Tonight, I’ve written some lyrics about diversity in America. You might want to sing them to the tune of “America the Beautiful” while sitting down for your Thanksgiving dinner this year.

DIVERSITY

Oh beautiful for this our home
For mountains, rivers, trees
For buffalo so plentiful
Fish swimming in the seas
For Native people living here
Respectful of the land
The beans and corn and squash adorned
That perfect feast so grand

Oh brave the many immigrants
Who faced the ocean storms
With hopes of finding better lives
Wishing to be transformed
And braver still the stolen ones
Robbed of their liberty
Our country’s been a melting pot
Though not completely free.

We stand for nothing if not this:
We are diversity
A land of many colors proud
That is our legacy
America, America
Our strength: our many shades
A garden where all flowers grow
Where every grain can wave!

© Lori Bonati

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Mice in the Moonlight

My NanoPoblano2018 post for today is a poem I wrote in response to a prompt by Jessie Stevens. On her blog site, Behind the Willows, Jessie posted a  picture prompt, a photo she took of a red gate latch, complete with a few mouse droppings. She said we could use the photo as a prompt to generate our own writing ideas, and I did. I’ve copied and pasted her picture prompt below, with her permission:

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So now, here’s my poem, with apologies to poet William Carlos Williams. (Be sure to read his famous poem, The Red Wheelbarrow.)

THE RED GATE LATCH

So much depends
upon

a bright red
gate latch

decorated with mouse
droppings

beside the
tall trees

for instance:

if it had been blue
or even green

would the mice have
picnicked there?

and if it had been
v
e
r
t
i
c
a
l

instead of F  L  A  T

where would they have put
their cheese?

and what about the
mouse music?

where would they have
sung their squeaky songs

and danced all night
to mini-violins

if not upon the flat red
dance floor?

where would they have
spun their partners?

twirled their tails?
and twitched their whiskers?

I like to think they
used the gate latch

as a stage, their
little crescent ears

casting furry shadows
on the bears and foxes

who watched them in
the moonlight.

 

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A Lizard’s Tale

Yesterday, I met with my writer’s critique group at a local coffee shop. I was the first to arrive. The second to arrive was a woman I’d never met before. She introduced herself as “Liz” before excusing herself and walking toward the coffee counter.

For some strange reason, I decided I’d remember her name by associating it with a lizard. She in no way resembles a lizard. It was just the first thing that popped into my mind when she said, “Liz.”

Another writer — Elaine — arrived and joined me at our table. While awaiting Liz’s return, I told Elaine that I’d just met Liz, and confessed that I was associating her name (not her!) with a lizard. The weird thing is that a second later I realized that Elaine is another Liz. Her nickname is “Liz Lady” because of the work she does with reptiles.

Liz returned to the table and introduced herself to Elaine.

“I’m Liz,” she said, “but my real name’s Roberta. I go by Liz because of a lizard …”

I was too stunned to listen to the rest of her explanation. I’ll have to ask her more about it next time I see her. But while I was sitting there, in between two lizards, I remembered this photo I’d taken once.

lizard-2

Did you know that lizards sing the blues, and that they also like acronyms? To prove it, here’s a blues song written by my friend in the photograph.

DSL Blues

Oh, I’m a desert spiny lizard, but you can call me DSL
I’m a desert spiny lizard, but you can call me DSL
My life is hot and dusty, all this crawlin’ in the desert is hell.

Well, I’m strong and I’m fast, and my scales are a colorful sight
Yeah, I’m strong and I’m fast, and my scales are a colorful sight (that’s right!)
But when people see me comin’ I always give ’em such a fright.

Well, they scream and they holler, they run away and hide
It makes me feel bad, it hurts my pride
I wish they would stay, but instead they just go
I think they are so wrong, IMHO

Now, you may be wondering what I mean by IMHO
Yeah, I’ll bet you never heard a lizard say IMHO
It means “In My Handsome Opinion,” so there you are, and now you know.

And the acronym LOL was a lizard’s invention, I won’t lie
Uh-huh, the acronym LOL was a lizard’s invention, I won’t lie (or bat an eye)
It stands for Lizards On Lunchbreak, now it’s time for me to go and catch some flies … Bye bye!

— DSL

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