zapata

Be ever so little distracted, your thoughts so little confused, your engagements so few, your attention so free, your existence so mundane, that in all places and in all hours you can hear the sound of crickets in those seasons when they are to be heard-Thoreau

 

kathyongrater
Photo courtesy of Page Steed. Check out her website. You will enjoy her wildlife photography and unique vision.

The crisp chirp of crickets, the low grunt of buffalo, the impatient neigh of horses, the trickling rivulets of water and sand, and blessed laughter; I gratefully heard them all last week while attending the Zapata Ranch Workshop: Women, Horses and the West.

We rode in the morning and discussed literature in the afternoon.

 

riding out
Photo courtesy Page Steed. My mount was Merlin. Slowest horse in the West. He deserves his own chapter. Maybe another day.

Thoreau jump-started our week by helping us adjust our sight as he described ‘Simply Seeing’.

 

greenplant
Not so luxurious a soil as to attract men-H.D.T.

 

 

Author Dan Flores proclaimed the Plains are the American Serengeti. He explained how the Plains are ‘a sensuous feast of the minimal’ and how loving the grasslands is embedded in our DNA.

 

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Sunset in the San Luis Valley, Colorado

 

Dr. Bonney MacDonald, Professor of English at West Texas A&M university led our lively afternoon discussions. Bonney is brimming with contagious energy and passion and she had me reading and studying like crazy. If you ever have a chance to hear her speak, you must take it. I love her.

 

bonney
Bonney preparing to ride.

It was a special joy to spend the day….beginning at 4:45 am!….with photographer/geologist Stephen Weaver.

photography

I learned I have a nice camera, but I don’t know how to use it. I made terrible mistakes with my photography this day and lost many a fun capture. I felt like an idiot even though Stephen was unfailingly encouraging. Learning is hard. Guess who will forever check her white balance setting before she shoots another photo?

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Mostly my pony and I sauntered behind the main group. Merlin wore a comforting, plodding cadence and I wore my appreciative grin.

 

Kathy
Photo courtesy of Page Steed

 

There was always an experienced wrangler nearby, just in case someone made a newbie mistake or needed help retrieving lunch from the saddlebag.

 

wranglers
The wranglers. Aren’t they gorgeous? Each and every one extraordinarily smart and gracious. Thank you!

My favorite and most lasting memory of the trip? Well, that would have to be the ladies in attendance! To describe them as professors, music teachers, caregivers, corporate-types, photographers, volunteers and healers somehow fails to summarize their sweeping personalities and spacious hearts. Conversation is a lost art these days. We’re too concerned with being right. Zapata’s legacy for 2017 is the expansion of my mind. Some days it felt as wide and bright as the sky.

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Is it possible my sight was adjusted? Even with the nagging problems with my eyes, was I noticing more?

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What am I hearing/seeing now? A certain gray-muzzled wiener dog impatiently dropping the tennis ball at my feet, the greeting neighs of the-best-old-lady-horse-in-the-world, the Texan watching old Star Trek episodes, and the grands giggling over hauling a perch out of the lake.

Oh, Thoreau! Here’s to fewer distractions, confusions and engagements. Here, here to an uncluttered mind and the blessing of a mundane existence! I’m raising my glass to the sound of crickets. Cheers, everyone. Thanks for reading.

Headin’-west love to all.

chairwithboots

inspiration found

The Tuesday morning note from the universe:

The one thing all famous authors, world-class athletes, business tycoons, singers, actors and celebrated achievers in any field have in common is that they all began their journeys when they were none of these things. Yet, they still began their journeys.

A graceful hawk swooped from the morning crystalline sky and perched upon a naked branch. That was my view this morning as I sat in the hot tub. My inner voice harshly harangued me about being a lazy slug and starting my morning chores late. (stick it where the sun never shines, inner voice!)

The proud hawk buoyed my heart to new heights. Made me want to share with you where I’m finding inspiration these days.

I’ve been involved in rehearsals for Amarillo Opera’s upcoming production of Les Misera….bluh. Don’t think I’m going to be able to continue with the grueling schedule, but allow me to describe my uber-talented cast mates. Like the regal hawk, they provide plenty of reasons to look up in wonderment.

The Principles.

LMprinciples

You may describe them as our stars. These are the dedicated professionals who have spent their lives honing their craft. They are exactly as you would expect….off-the-charts-talented. They can blow the roof off a building with the air rushing through their vocal cords. Their acting ability can spike the stock price of Kleenex on the Dow. They are wonderful to behold. The path they travel is never easy and it’s brimming with rejection. I would enthusiastically storm the Bastille with them.

The ensemble. The community members. The rest of us. This is the group I’m treasuring today.  Let’s consider:

The community children/youth. They could be home in front of their computer screens, they could be texting, they could be involved in any number of things. Instead, they schlep to long rehearsals with school books in hand. They study between scenes and their parents run a continual carpool rivaling the busiest taxi service. They want to be involved in something bigger than themselves. I glimpse the future in their eyes. Let’s blast a rousing strain of Do you Hear the People Sing? in their honor!

The college students/young adults. This group packs tons of talent. Many of them are vocal/music students trying to learn about life in the business. They could be studying, dating, dragging the bars….but they bless us by being enthusiastically present. One of my favorite students is a young man who is working toward his master’s degree in choral conducting. He’s the age of one of my kids. I notice him not only because of his heavenly voice, but because he comes to every scene, every note, with 100% dedication and passion. I believe every measure he sings. I swear, if I touched him while he was acting I would scald my hand. He’s that red-hot! Let’s toss our berets in the air in celebration of this hard-working group!

The olders.

LMtheolders

This group includes those who sport graying hair, slipped discs, sore feet and hemorrhoids. They stubbornly refuse to believe the best days are in the past. The olders juggle grandkids, aging parents, day jobs and diminishing stamina. Consider one of our treasured olders; a lovely lady who lives in an outlying community. She makes the almost-hour commute every day. I worry about her lonely late-night drives home. During a break in last Sunday’s long rehearsal schedule, she took a nap in her car. Consider the construction worker who makes 300 mile+ work trips during the day. He attends rehearsal like he just woke up from a refreshing nap. I’m awestuck in the presence of these castmates. Let’s hoist the banner high for them!!

LMcover

You’re sure of my bias now, aren’t you? I admire-the-hell out of those who make their living in the humdrum and sometimes grayscale real-world, yet contribute colorful and uniquely textured yarn to our community tapestry. This is the cumulative art we call Les Misera-bluh.

LMonedaymore

Your efforts enrich my One Day More immeasurably. Don’t ever give up on your art.

Amarillo Opera is proud to provide a mechanism and framework in which these noble artistic efforts can occur. Bravo!

Beyond-the-barricade love to all.

tickets for Les Mis-panhandletickets.com