"Little Tiny" 

Have you ever been sure you were alone, yet had the feeling you were being watched? No, not like "Big Brother" is watching. Like this...

    Everything I needed for a weekend of music was packed in my 2011 Huyndai Sonata, so I locked the house, climbed in the car, and was headed south toward Sahuarita, AZ. I exited my neighborhood, drove a half mile and took the ramp to enter the freeway. About thirty minutes later, near Picacho Peak on I- 10, I got the feeling I was being watched.

     For personal safety…

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The Lincoln 

The Lincoln

    In 2005 my parents bought their first new car ever - A Lincoln Signature Town Car. That fall, when they flew out to visit me, Mom was so excited to tell me all about it. As I recall, the story goes like this.
     After sixty two years of marriage and buying only used cars they decided it was high time to treat themselves to something brand new, and off they went to a local dealer.  Mom spied  a pretty spiffy Buick, Dad made the deal, and they headed to the bank so Dad could get cash to pay…

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Lightning Woman Danced, the story behind the song 

Lightning Woman Danced, The Story Behind the Song

    “I have always gone to the wilderness,” or some version of that, is a line you will read often in my stories. The wilderness shows up constantly in my songs and poetry, almost without fail. It is the place where I have always gone to rest, to discover and to regain my footing. In my early years I developed an ability to take a place with me where ever I may go: I see the place, hear it, smell it, feel the sun or the wind or snow of it, I can step into its…

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The Old White Shirt 



    Weekly, someone tells me, “ I have this shirt ( jacket, pants, dress ),” They laugh and shake their head. “ I know it’s ridiculous, but I really love it. It’s frayed at the cuff (full of holes, too small, too big, not much left of it). I can’t part with it. Why is that?” 
    I laugh with them. I have some of those, too. In particular, a white shirt I bought in 1984. It’s frayed at the cuff, has a big tear in the back, it is so thin you can read the newspaper through it, and I can’t part with it.

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Its About the Music  

      By the age of fifteen, that would be the year 1974, I  had been playing guitar for a couple of years or so. Campfires, a friend’s wedding (I still have the charm necklace that was a gift from the newlyweds, and just this winter, a friend replaced the setting that was lost who knows how long ago), the stairwell outside the Library at Beavercreek High School during lunch with friends who played everything from the flute to the Kalimba and would always sing along. But, to this day, I can’t  recall how I…

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Water and Walking 

Blog Post Janet and Huffman Prairie
    When my sister, Janet, was hospitalized I flew back to Ohio to be with her. My childhood friends, Carla and Victoria, picked me up at the airport and got me to my sister and later to my hotel room. They took care of me, as friends do. In between hospital visits, we visited a couple of places of our growing up years, and I was reminded of the huge difference in Ohio and the Sonoran Desert - the water everywhere, and the water hard to find. 
    Living in a dry and…

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La Jinete  

   I wrote "La Jinete" about 2005 in an attempt to describe my kindred-ship to this Sonoran Desert and her inhabitants. Far more than merely a place to build a house with a view, the desert is a living thing who moves into your dwelling and your soul, without permission. One can not live here and be oblivious to her omnipresence. She demands attention and, if not given, she will spit you out. Or worse. 

   La Jinete is an unfinished work I pick away at as the years pass. There is so much to impart, it may…

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Being Fully Present Matters 

            My time on earth is precious to me - as is yours - and it becomes more precious with each passing day. Whilst I am still here, there is no place I would rather be than with others who are like minded in this respect; those who choose to be more than merely physically present, and who make the decision to be spiritually, emotionally and mentally present in life whether alone or with others.  
    I will never accept that not giving another human one’s complete attention is merely “the times” and…

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The Time I Sprung Dad Out Of Jail 


     I sprung my Dad from jail.

     That’s what he said, anyway. What really happened was he was unjustly incarcerated in a nursing home where, for all intents and purposes, he was tied to his bed twenty four hours a day except for a wheelchair ride to therapy and a shower. 

    He was there for more than a week before I knew about it. Parents develop a habit of not telling their children everything and, when they do tell, it is not always during the course of the event in which they sure could…

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Waiting On Sunset 

    West of a two lane just prior to and below the freeway entrance lay a run of old, concrete  acequias. They are dry on this section of land, now decades long fallow. Full of dirt and tumbleweeds, they are just beginning to crumble. The gate is missing from the north to south run; the gate at the elbow for the westerly leg is jammed shut by a couple of feet of dried mud and rocks left there by wind and monsoon rain. A mesquite of some good height has taken up residence in the canal about half way down…

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You are visitor number: 258

Angles Of Light and Shadow

            What Are You Thinking?

    Angles of light, color, hue and depth. A shadow, thin as spider’s silk, hangs over the orange of mallow petal, barely seen, maybe only perceived, but part of the texture and tapestry before me. Entrancing to distraction.
    While on a second date, desert picnic during a long, languishing Sonoran Spring, my companion, now my sweetheart, asked me, “What are you thinking?”
    I was not thinking, not at all. My eyes were slowly moving over the desert floor, seeking every shadow, curve, stick, flower, leaf and movement. The “Hot Shots” were packing up after extinguishing a wildland blaze, thankfully less than a few acres. This added even more interesting and arresting shades and smells. And feeling. All of those colors, light, shadow and smells effect my feelings, stopping the usual thinking process and I go to a sensory place I have no name for.  Explain all that on a second date. “I am just taking it all in,” was my response. An understatement of huge proportion. I cannot explain this to my self, how would I explain it to someone else? Bob still asks me, “What are you thinking?” Sometimes, I can answer fully because of the trust we have established. But, sometimes, I am caught without words. Like, one time when we were dancing to a band playing outdoors in the evening. The establishment was in a rustic setting, the dance floor was behind the band and away from the people and tables, and over Bob’s shoulder and through the trees I could see the night sky, the pond and the stars. I could hear the night birds and crickets and my eyes started to search the details of the shadows and light. All of that, along with dancing in Bob’s embrace, left me without an answer.

    And then, there is silence. 
    The songs of silence are welcome to my ears, to my soul. One can’t hear the songs for all the noise of the world. But, the songs are all around and tell me the world is Okay.  From the porch I hear the groan and squeak of the soup pot on the stove. The tin roof pops as the sun heats it, and then rattles a shiver as a stray cloud cools it. The breeze drifts orange and purple blooms and makes mallow and lupine nod gracefully to the rhythm of pop, rattle, shiver and squeak. Cassia floats sweet perfume on the wind while butterflies work diligently.
    There is birdsong, too. Laughing, whistling, cat calling, cheering, playful and alive. The local Harris Hawk family is hunting. Today there are five of them and their conversation is like encrypted surround sound. 
    I know places where the quiet is so thick, the footfalls of ants seem too loud. Not here, not today. There is silence enough for today. A restful, not alone silence. A peaceful, beauty filled silence after months of busy and hurry. 
    I am ever thankful to live in this place. From my back porch I can see Pima Butte, The Sierra Estrella Wilderness, South Mountain, Four Peaks, The Superstitions and McDowells. I can see Signal Peak and the Sawtooths, Newman, Picacho, The Catalinas and Lemmon. 

    The wind speaks to me when the world is quiet. Or, rather, when I am quiet I hear the wind speaking.
     I recall the wind in the treehouse in Arkansas. I would climb out and up onto the tin roof  to hear the wind in the forest that covered the surrounding hills. I remember the screaming wind of a California grass fire as I worked my way to safety with a bladder pack and shovel. The peaceful hush of the wind as I repaired targets on the archery range. The roar of the set-your-watch-by-it 3pm dust devil on the gun range. 
    And now, I’ve had to fetch a coffee and a blanket, in spite of my fleece pants, thermal shirt and sweater, because I don’t want to go inside and miss any little thing out here on the porch, in the silence and the wind.

You are visitor number: 257

The Voice In The Desert

An Easter Poem

I've been searching through the desert, like there is something I must find.
I know You are out there, I hear You calling all the time.

Your voice as sweet as fillaree, dancing in the desert wind.
Drifting from each rocky slope, sandy wash and bend.

I chose to ride a crooked trail of which You know the scope.
Shameless acts, wasted time, shattered dreams and hopes.

Yet still Your voice is filled with peace, alluring, ever there
Singing to this broken heart a vow of love and care.

I met You once when I was young, then just turned and rode away
To live a life I thought was grand, and promptly went astray

Now, my back trail, it still beckons me and likely always will
But I think if I keep riding on,  I'll find you round that next hill

As I dismount to watch the sunset, all the desert has gone still
Not a whisper of the wind, not a click or peep or trill

Then the sun explodes atop the mesa and I dare not even breathe
Light sweeps across the desert floor and pools around  my feet.

Saguaros stand like soldiers of God, halos of light through their spines
Swashbucklers of Glory, steadfast, protecting, arms out stretched in mime

Each rock and leaf are set ablaze, the silence pounds in my ears
My soul is drenched in the beauty and wonder that thrives in this world so severe

With the hilltops afire, the canyons in shadow, the day snaps off like a lamp
My blood still rushing, mind overrun, I mount and head back to camp

I hear your voice, I feel you out there, but one thing remains a fact
I've ridden for years cutting for sign of those promises made way back     

That gun toting preacher, he told me himself (and preachers never lie),
You'd never leave me, and You'd always love me, and be there to help me get by.

I've had some bad rides, a scrape or two, times with my back to the wall
Yeah, I survived, but couldn't help but ask, just where were you through it all

Reflecting on the wrecks I've been in, and tragedies life has brought
Decisions I made, trails I chose, the glory in life I sought

I'd laid down a pattern of endless mistakes that only compounded my plight
"Poor pitiful me, all the world against me," yet still maintaining, "I'm right"
But, you never left me, you never forsook me. You rode out front the whole time.
That's why I heard Your whispering voice, and now it's ringing like a chime

You came down here and lived among us so we could see that You're for real
And now it's all about learning Your lead, and never about how I feel 

All these years I been fighting my own head and doing things my own way
It's a shame I was too dang stubborn to see how things should really play

Now, it's tough to admit, but I just realized I never did ride for Your brand
And in spite of it all, I'm alive and well, 'cause you let me ride in the palm of Your Hand.


(C) 2003 Nancy Elliott and Sonoran Desert Sage Pub ASCAP 

You are visitor number: 257

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The World In Chewy's Eye

Inspired by JPS Brown's "The World in Poncho's Eye"

The World In Chewy's Eye

    Chewy gave me my first ride on his back one late October morn. He wasn't much to look at, a grade horse whose ears were more than a tad too long, making him look muley, and he had a roman nose and scarred up face which confirmed his rangy look and namesake, “Chewbacca”. His scarred face came from his selectively obstinate personality. He would stand ground tied while being shod, or while waiting for his rider to complete some task not done from the saddle. But, he could not be tied to a post or fence or a bale of hay for even a minute. He would pull back with all the strength of a tractor, pulling the object he was tied to along with him. And, if he could not pull it with him, he would lunge forward, ramming his face into the post or side of a trailer or barn, then pull back again until either the object gave way or he was cut loose. A few people told me they could “fix” Chewy. I told them I had the fix already, just untie him, he will stand. 

 He'd been ridden in the Texas brush for all of his seven years. The day I first met him, and we trotted out to locate and bring up a remuda, he was prime, well muscled, bright eyed and alert, his coat shone in the sun like copper tinged with gold. Chewy was not flashy, but power and try emanated from him and proved out when he went to work. 
    And, we worked, horses mostly, a few cattle. Turn-back was his specialty and he could turn west and leave you in the air still facing east. He left me there more than once, I have to admit, but he always came back to get me, and right now too. He never made me go after him, he never ran out his momentum. He just turned on that proverbial dime and came back, like a partner, like a friend.

    There was an underlying gentleness of spirit, and a playful soul in him. Tag was a favorite game, steal your hat and run like hell was another. You learned quick not to show up with a drink and crushed ice, you wouldn't get anything done till he had that cup in his teeth, tipping it back to drink off the sweet residue. I would often go to the barn late at night after my bartending job, stopping for a burger and fries, then sitting in the paddock with the horses turned out. Soon enough, quiet and slow, as if I would not know he was there, Chewy’s head would come over my shoulder and snitch my French fries one at a time.

    My daughters were very young then, not in school yet. He taught them both to ride, taking them from walk to trot to lope when he felt they were ready and not until. Many a time, as I rode of an evening through the old church yard peach orchard, or across a sunset painted pasture, one child in my arm, one tied on behind me, Chewy rocked my babies to sleep.

    From a long ago horse in my child hood I had learned about the world in a horses' eye. I was fascinated to watch the scene behind me in the large orb that painted everything brown and sepia like an old time photograph. I had shown that world to my children, that world in a horse’s eye. I held them up so they could see, and they would reach a finger out to try and touch that world, to connect, to prove it was there. Maybe that world is where children really come from and wish to stay....maybe it was familiarity as much as fascination that made them reach out. A sense of belonging in that place, the world in a horses eye. But, living life makes you think hard and long and it'll make you weary and worn if you let it. You can forget the magic if you're not careful. And, there was I one summer afternoon.

    The girls and I had all climbed up on Chewy's bare back and ridden out to a tank for a swim and picnic. They were laughing and splashing in the water, I was lying on the grass watching them as Chewy grazed behind me. I turned to see his head only a foot or so away from mine, my eyes directly in line with his one eye when he paused his munching to look at me. In Chewy’s eye, there were clouds sailing by. Seed heads on the grass were bobbing in the breeze, the trees in the distance, the little cut bank on the creek that fed the tank and, right there were my children, dancing in his eye. 
    The world in Chewy's eye was rich and full, dynamic, vital, and encompassing no more than he could process in that span of time. You could not see the past in his eyes, and you could not see the future, just the more-important now.  Chewy's world could be no bigger and no smaller than what was taking place in that moment, no bigger or smaller than the world reflected in his eye. If he saw opportunity to steal my hat, or give one of the kids a gentle shove away from danger, he took it. He did not fret, or plan. He was exuberant in what he had now and he drank it up until he was satisfied. There were no embarrassing moments, no thought of too much or not enough, no fear of the dark or perhaps of tomorrow’s not coming. Fear was experienced only at the precise moment it was necessary. It was not a constant state of being. 
    I saw the phases of the moon in Chewy’s eyes, I saw the stars in the big night sky. On a stormy night, when I went to find him, I saw in his eyes flashes of lightning and the sleet that stung our hides. When I looked in Chewy's eye, I saw me as he saw me, plain and true and honest. What I read in his eyes was the pure reflection of his reading of me. There was no supposing or pretending of thought or intention. He knew what I was thinking and feeling and intending. We humans spend too much time looking at our selves with carefully selected mirrors. And worse, we examine our selves, our very souls and spirits, from the outside, sometimes with a microscope, often with a kaleidoscope. We rarely take measure of the purity of our reflection in our fellow human’s eye. We have forgotten, if we ever were taught, the language of the soul. We have learned to ignore the yearning for knowledge of another’s innermost being. We deny our desperate need for spiritual connection to another human because the work, the time required, remove us from what the world is telling us we should be doing instead. The fear of being hurt, abandoned, rejected keep us from looking deep, living deep, breathing deep into another’s eyes and soul. We have been deceived, lead astray from the purpose of our creation; relationship. We do not know who we are, not for certain. And, we do not know who we are in relationship to other souls. 
    The world in Chewy's eye told me exactly who I was, who I wasn't, and who I needed to be each and every moment. Whether we were heading out to bring in the other horses, or I had my face buried in his winter coat, crying my eyes out over some pitiful, fleeting moment in time; or taking an end of chores jaunt to the drive-through at the Dairy Queen, there were no hard edges, no lies, just the truth in my heart looking back at me through the world in Chewy's eye.

(C) 2008 Nancy Elliott Music & Sonoran Desert Sage Pub. ASCAP




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