Carrots: Roots and Soil

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Photos by Megan Oteri.  All photos are copyrighted. Photos in the slideshow are from my recent trip to Wyoming and Colorado.

I recently went out West to visit my mother.  It was a very emotional trip, as I prepared myself that this could be the last time I see my mom.  I am not ready to write about these feelings.  I imagine they will become rooted under the earth of my heart, growing deeper into the deep soil like carrots and potatoes.  The leafy green above the soil sprouts up, only to mirror an astonishing growth underneath.

I do have carrots growing in my garden and there is nothing more tasty than a fresh treat, ripe and orange.  I love carrots.  They are a metaphorical root.

Here are some favorite carrot quotes:

Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) “The day is coming when a single carrot freshly observed will set off a revolution.”

Greek Physician Pedanius Dioscorides (c. 40-c. 90) wrote “Ye root ye thickness of a finger, a span long, sweet-smelling, edible being sodden [boiled]. Of this ye seed being drank…and it is good for ye [painful discharge of urine] in potions, and for ye bitings and strokes of venomous beasts; they say also, that they which take it before hand shall take no wrong of wilde beasts. It co-operates also to conception, and it also being [diuretic], both provoketh [poison], and being applied; but the leaves being beaten small with honey, and laid on, doth cleanse rapidly spreading destructive ulceration of soft tissues.”

 Bugs Bunny

A carrot is neither a fruit nor a veggie; it is a root.  Wyoming and the West is where my roots are.  My family moved to Wyoming when I was 15.  I moved there from Chicago so it was quite a cultural shock.  I do remember being fascinated with the landscape.  I could literally see for miles and I did not see anything.  It took me years to truly see Wyoming and recognize the depth and activity in the landscape.  It is what you do not see, for which is truly there.

I love how you can see a rainstorm coming in Wyoming.  You can also watch it in the distance as you watch an entire area of sky not effected at all by the same storm.

The storm of my mother’s illness (she has brain tumors) has been a long time coming.  I have been able to see it in the distance as a slow emerging storm, one that barely sprinkles upon you.  I felt the caress of gentle raindrops.  When I recently visited her, she was wheelchair bound and she could only move her finger.  She was mentally alert and aware.  She was able to speak and recall memories.  I guess the most difficult thing is that I realized there is no amount of time I can spend with her that will be enough.  I want her here with me forever.

I have resolved that I will have to let her go.  I think I am in a good place about it.  Her love for me is deep like a carrot (enough of the carrot analogy, right).  She is a root and her memory will always be in the rich soil of my heart.

Enough of the sad stuff.

Happy News:

I am working now as a Teaching Artist and Writer-in-Residence for the United Arts Council, which serves schools in Wake and Johnston County (Raleigh area schools).  I am very excited about this.  I am also available to teach workshops and offer residencies throughout the state and country (email me if you are interested).  I am offering several workshops, including Memoir, Poetry, Spoken Word, and Photography.  I am working with a private school for students with disabilities in March.  I am very excited about this three-day workshop which incorporates photography and writing across the curriculum.

If you are interested in bringing me to your school, business, group, and/or community, I can send you materials that outline my residencies and workshops.  Just shoot me an email at

To be a Teaching Artist has been a long-term goal of mine.  I used to be a public school teacher and I brought many artists to the schools I worked at.  I believe in the arts.  I believe they are essential and our schools should be centering education around the arts.  Genius and imagination are fostered through the arts.

“Whoever neglects the arts when he is young has lost the past and is dead to the future.” – Sophocles

“Involvement in the arts engages kids in their community, improves self-esteem, reclaims at-risk youth, and builds the creative skills that are required of a 21st century workforce.” – Gavin Newsom

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I find the landscape of the West and in particular Wyoming to be my muse.  I love this landscape for the roots that are there: my family.  I met my husband in Cheyenne.  I fell in love with him in my home town.  My mother loves Wyoming and so did my father.

The thing I like about carrots is you can leave them alone and they will continue to grow underground.

My garden where my carrots are growing

Light and Shadow – Chapter 2 – Snow Capped Mountain View Along the Interstate

At McDonald’s getting free wi-fi friendly service, the beauty of looking out the window and seeing the Rockies snow capped and shrouded in light.

photo by memomuse

 I’ve settled on Light and Shadows or something like that for the title of my blog entries for my time out here visiting my mother and getting through the process of saying goodbye to her…I just need a better name than the previous morbid title (Death Diaries). I will be posting to my blog regularly, probably more than once a day. I should start twittering.

In fact, on the plane I almost got in fist fight with this bitch who claimed my feet were in the space she paid for under my chair. She was like, “I want to stretch out and your feet are in the way.”

“Well, then they are in my space.”  I said.

“Can you move them?” she said.

“No, my feet are on the ground at a ninety degree angle from my seat,” I say.

“I paid for this space and I want to stretch my legs out,” she says in her husky voice.

“Well, if you don’t move them I could punch you in the back of the head,” I hear her say to me directly, chuckling at her seat neighbors.

Then she flags down the flight attendant and tells on me and the Southwest flight attendant is literally checking under my chair. 

That’s when I turned around and maybe said, “Stop being such a bitch.”

Anyway, a nice man I sat next to held my hand and said, “Be nice.” I rose above. He helped me rise. Then a dude had a seizure on the plane. So that is the news so far of my trip. You’ll have to tune in to the blog to get the other details.

photo by memomuse

Needless to say, I am missing Ben and Rich more than ever. I feel like am amputee victim. Anyway…

I have decided to write through this because I just don’t know any other way. And since I like attention – I will be posting a lot of stuff live. (This is where you are supposed to flood by email inbox in Facebook and my blog comment section with your love and witty words.) Almost like a journal.  I mostly post essays that I craft and edit carefully to my blog, but for this week, I will just be blogging so to speak.  Hope you can tune in and give me some support. 

 Even if we went to junior high together and that is how we are Facebook friends or you a long lost college buddy, please feel free to send out some love.  And those closest to me, please reach out, I need you. I’m in country music country and those country songs get me cryin’ every time.  George Strait got me driving through Denver. 

People don’t get through tough times without their community…and Facebook is one of my supportive communities, as is my blog.  So…thanks for reading.  I have made a promise to try to find a light to cast on the dark shadows so it won’t just be dark dark sad sad stuff.  There is beauty in everything.

Photo by Angela Mellor

So I leave you with a photo a friend took of me Friday while we were listening to Old Time Music in Fountain, NC and my light for the day:

Light 1: The nice man on the plane I sat next to said, “That’s nice you’ll be able to say goodbye to your mom.  You don’t get notice on that most of the time.”

Light 2: The way the sunlight is hitting the Rocky Mountains is beautiful.  The sun is shining on the snow capped mountains.

photo by memomuse

Light 3:  I don’t need a GPS while I am out West because I have my trusty mountains to let me know where West is.

Light 4: I am back to my land.  I love wide open spaces.

Light 5:  My best friend, Heidi Hargraves is in labor (still) and I will hold her new born baby.

I Heart You Wyoming

I am working on an essay, trying to put into words the love I have for the land out West.  I promise this one will be good, but I need a couple days to ferment.  I am still trying to adjust to being back on the East Coast, among the trees. I miss wide open spaces.  I miss Wyoming.  And Wyoming misses me.