Bowls of Light

When I was sorting through some of my things in preparation to packing them and putting them in storage, I found a whole slew of Christmas lights. It seems ridiculous to store the lights considering how cheap they are, wasteful to throw them away, and silly to drag them to a thrift shop, so I decided to use them up. I put bowls full of lights all over the house, and oh! What a festive air!

bowl of lights

bowl of lights

bowl of lights

cookie jar of lights

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fire,andDaughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Who knew that snow is a tourist treat? I sure didn’t! I have mostly lived in a cold climate where snow happens wherever you are, but in the desert, where I have temporarily found myself, snow is so rare that people will drive many miles to see it.

And that is exactly what a friend and I did yesterday — drove almost a hundred miles round trip just to see the whiteness and throw a snowball or two. A lovely sight!

Snow

Below is a photo of the Pacific Crest Trail. Now you can see why people are concerned about beating winter when they through hike — it’s too easy to lose the trail under all that snow, and besides, it’s cold!

PCT

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fire,andDaughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Searching for the Wild Snow

I’m getting ready to head out and go searching for the wild snow.

Once upon a time, perhaps thirty years ago, more than two feet of snow fell in the desert, but I’ve only seen flurries a couple of times since I’ve been here, and whatever stuck to the ground disappeared as soon as the sun came out. So, when a friend invited me to go snow hunting, I gladly accepted. Snow!! Out here, where it seldom even rains, snow seems a mythical phenomenon. Dare I believe?

Desert Snow

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, andDaughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

An Easy Hike

I haven’t been on any hikes recently. I’ve been taking a couple of extra dance classes and also preparing for a show (my class will be doing two numbers at a dance performance put on by the local college next weekend), and I wanted to make sure I didn’t jeopardize that privilege by overdoing it. My body is used to the extra classes now, so when a friend invited me to go on an easy group hike with her this morning, I accepted. It didn’t seem like it would be a very scenic hike — it was more to explore a water system from the 1800s than to enjoy the scenery — but I’ve been trying to walk more in preparation for . . . I still don’t know what. Some sort of long, long, long walk perhaps. And this seemed a perfect opportunity to stretch myself a bit.

We met at a nearby dam and signed in. Since the Sierra Club sponsored the hike, we had to sign a waiver. I didn’t think anything of it — after all, I’d done Sierra Club hikes before, and anyway, it was an easy hike, only three miles, according to the English chap who led the group.

The scenery at our meeting place wasn’t very inspiring — just a lot of dirt bike trails carved haphazardly out of the desert floor by bikers — but after we climbed through the gate meant to keep out cars, and walked leisurely across the top of the dam, there were some pretty sights, including this rare example of fall colors in the desert.

desert fall

We took a break so everyone could catch up to the leader, and then we continued up the path. The operative word here is “up.” The path started with a gentle incline that got steeper and steeper as we climbed. At one point, the only way I could make it up a sharper than 45-degree angle was on hands and knees. Embarrassing, but effective.

Our leader promised us that was the hardest part of the hike, but then we started our even steeper descent on sand and scree. (I had to pause here and reflect. I don’t think I’ve ever used the word “scree” in my entire life, never had reason to. Amazingly, I was able to dredge the correct word out of my magpie brain.) I wish I could announce that I descended that hill gracefully, but once (okay, I admit it — twice) my feet slid out from beneath me and I ended up “bum sledding” as the English chap called it.

“It’s easy from here,” the chap said when we all made it (one way or another) to the bottom of the path. “Easy from here?” I responded. “Wasn’t the whole hike supposed to be easy?” He said, “When we get back, it always seems to have been so easy.”

But we weren’t yet back. There was still a rusted and rotted water pipe to hike along for several yards (someone suggested that I use my trekking pole as a balancing pole, and it worked! Or maybe it’s all those relevés I’ve been doing in ballet class.) After the water pipe episode, we had to wade through a sand field where my legs sunk halfway up to my knees, ford a river, and climb one last 45-degree hill.

We returned to the cars three and a half hours after we started. Allowing a generous hour for breaks and a snack, we’d been hiking for at least two and a half grueling hours. Even at my slowest uphill pace, I walk a mile in thirty minutes, so I have no idea how long the hike really was. At least four, but probably closer to five miles.

We gathered around for a brief post-hike retrospective. The English chap asked if anyone was hurt. We all took stock and admitted we were fine.

He beamed at me and said, “See? An easy hike.”

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Throwing Paint at Life

Life is a great big canvas

I try to throw as much paint as I can on my life, but sometimes all I manage is to dab a bit of color onto the canvas. Today was a dab day (well, except for dance class — that always adds a spash of brightness to my life), so I thought I’d repost this photo as a reminder for me to be bright and bold, and not sit around letting my recent losses narrow my life.

Wishing you a big, bright, bold day!

(The flowers are a photo of paradise poinciana that I shot and turned into my version of impressionist art.)

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

 

The Perfect Viewing

I hadn’t planned to go to my father’s viewing tonight, but when my plans for a private memorial with my father’s long time health aid didn’t work out, I decided, on the spur of the moment, to drive the two hours to where my family was gathered. In the end, though, I couldn’t force myself go to the viewing. I’d said my goodbyes during the hours before he died and then during the hours afterward while we waited for all the end of life tasks to be completed (pronouncing him dead, arranging for the mortuary to come get him, etc.), and anything else would seem like voyeurism.

When everyone took off for the mortuary, I headed down to the beach, watched the eternal tides washing up on shore, watched the sun set. As I stood there, I could feel the cycle of life, could see that all things end, not just the day, and so after all, it turned out to be the perfect viewing.

sunset

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Hunting the Wild Moon

Last night I walked a mile out into the desert to watch the moon rise. 7:32 pm — the scheduled time — came around, and no moon. I stood for a few minutes wondering what could have happened to it (a moon is a pretty big thing to lose), but then I saw a hint of light behind a hill. Over the next few minutes, the diffused light grew more pronounce, and several minutes later, a huge orangy-yellow moon with a bright aura climbed over the top of the hill.

moonrise

I watched for a while, then headed back the way I came. Before I got very far, I received a phone call I had to take, and so I stood there, bathed in moonglow for at least thirty minutes. When I told the caller where I was, she got worried. Apparently, this is black widow season — as if Mojave green rattlers weren’t hazardous enough. I tucked my pants into my socks figuring if I stepped in a nest, I’d at least have some protection, and I got back safely. No rattlers. No black widows. Just a very poor picture of that bright harvest super moon.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Sunrise? Sunset?

It rained yesterday, bringing a bit of needed coolness to the desert. Last night for just a few minutes, the clouds lifted long enough to brighten the sky and I was able to take this photo.

moon rise

No, it’s not the setting sun. It’s the rising moon. Truly a super moon!

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Most Compelling Images

The most compelling images seem to be those that somehow mirror ourselves, or at least our image of ourselves. At it’s most basic, this mirroring is why humans buy magazines with other humans on the cover, and why the animals we most bond with have the cuteness of a human baby, with wide-set, round eyes, and generally a round face.

I didn’t realize that I was prey to such subconscious mimicry, but of course I should have known since, although I don’t always like to admit it, I am just a human. I was reminded of our subconscious fascination with ourselves when I was gazing at the tarot card I chose during a one-card self-reading, a painting by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. This three of wands card shows a woman standing at the edge of a land bridge, far above a mountainous scene with a river running through it.

I was suddenly struck by the familiarity of the image, and then I remember this photo of me on the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, which I used for the cover of Grief: The Great Yearning:

There I am, standing at the edge of the world, though the altar-like rock in front of me masks that reality. If the photo had been taken from the same perspective as that of the tarot card image, you would see I what I am seeing — a mountainous scene with a river running through it.

No wonder the image of the woman standing above it all struck such a familiar chord.  She is I, or maybe I am she.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Finding the Courage to Blog about Personal Matters

People often ask me where I get the courage to blog about the personal aspects of my life — first my grief over the death of my long time life mate/soul mate, then my efforts to deal with my schizoaffective brother, now the problems with my aged father.

To be honest, I do find myself a bit ashamed at having to admit my frustrations with my father. Although he is ambulatory and still strong, he refuses to do much of anything for himself. Even the home health aide from the nursing service that had been temporarily prescribed for him by his doctor has admitted he doesn’t need her. He is perfectly capable of taking care of himself. He just doesn’t want to. He claims that doing the least little thing tires him, which I do understand, but so what? Life is exhausting. Being old is exhausting. People in worse shape than he is live alone and have no choice but to do things for themselves.

windNone of this is a problem except that I am generally the one who gets stuck catering to his whims, and it’s especially a problem when he wakes me up in the middle of the night because he is frantic he doesn’t have something close at hand he won’t need until the following afternoon. (As I mentioned yesterday, this sort of behavior is teaching me to stop fretting. To live in the moment. If I don’t have what I might need tomorrow afternoon, then I tell myself to get a good night’s sleep and deal with the matter tomorrow. Although I don’t much like Scarlet O’Hara, she did have a good point in her decisions to worry about things tomorrow. Even better is Rhett Butler’s rejoinder to her, “Frankly, my dear . . . Like Rhett, I just don’t want to give a damn about things that cannot be changed or do not need to be changed at this very minute.)

Other than admitting my frustrations and leaving myself open to accusations of harshness or hardheartedness — particularly since I don’t believe the aged have the right to use their infirmities as a club to control their families — I don’t find that writing about such matters takes much courage. Because I share my stories, others who are in the same dead end situations tell me about their plights, which is encouraging for all of us. Grief for a deceased soul mate, heartbreak of dealing with mentally ill alcoholics, frustrations with taking care of the aged are things so many of us have to deal with. It’s nice to be able to break the ice of aloneness and find encouragement in knowing we are not the only ones with such problems.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

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