Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Goin' Home

I’ve made a discovery this week. I don’t take care of any of the little, terribly important items, in the house. All the paper just appeared when needed, sponges miraculously multiplied, stickers for trash materialized, and the list goes on and on.

It’s all taken for granted, smooth oiled cogs, until a kink. It is then that the things we took for granted, as if good karma kept the hummus always in the fridge—it is then we realize how many things we just didn’t think about.

The kink this week was a large snarled interruption to business as usual. Today my spouse comes home from the hospital—“one ounce heavier” the cardiologist pronounced. That’s the weight of a Pacemaker. Last Thursday we didn’t anticipate any interruption to the days of summer. We looked forward to a golf game and plans for a photography jaunt up the coast of Maine.

For the next month I’ll make certain to buy paper goods, sponges and stickers. And then as time passes along and things get back to normal I’ll probably become slack. Then one day we’ll be back on track and I won’t have to remind myself that the trash people won’t remove trash without that sticker.

Right now I’m heading to the hospital. I’m looking forward to sitting on the deck—both ensconced in reading a mystery novel and drinking a cold beverage.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Scary

The house is quiet
Too quiet
The baseball game is on mute
My book is unread

I’d read the mystery I waited for, but I think it’s scary. In fact the cover pronounces it as “hide under the covers” frightening. One reviewer suggested you don’t read this at night or when you’re alone.

A part of me wants to ignore the critics and turn to the first page, but another part of me says don’t. I’ve locked the doors. No one is here save for me—so what’s holding me back?

Perhaps these lines: “A pulse-pounding …thriller.” “…will scare you to death.”

Perhaps I’ll put that aside and read my the summer issue of Writer’s Chronicle or an art book or Mary Poppins.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Where Did it Go?

Waiting
for the next moment
waiting for results
waiting until tomorrow
while wasting today

can 't get it back

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Just a Visitor

Things you discover when someone you love is in the hospital.
• the color of your socks really matters. Orange prohibits a patient from all manner of independent perambulation.
• graduate to blue and you can walk down the corridor without someone hovering by your side
• roommates are the luck of the draw
• some roommates extoll the love of kale, Ezekiel Bread, and all things natural -- but still order chips for lunch
• it 's never quiet and hospitals love the middle of the night
• everything chirps, lights up, or pulsates
• the menu choices have fancy names
• mute televisions are a godsend

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Three-Legged Race?

Stories often sound ludicrous, beyond the pale of reality. Yesterday I heard a woman say that her artificial leg and the expensive— $743.00— shoe attached to the leg disappeared when she was in the hospital.

"Imagine that," she said, "someone stole my prothesis when I was a patient."
"Where was the leg?"
"In the closet."

Since she was in a bed she didn't need the leg and someone placed it in the closet for safekeeping.

I chose to believe the story. Didn't Flannery O'Connor write a short story about a Bible salesman who stole a wooden leg belonging to a young woman? Of course O'Connor's story is multi-layered and the leg grows in meaning—literal and metaphorical.

The others who either heard the story or heard me retelling the story, refused to allow for such an unnatural theft.

"It's a made-up story
"Why would anyone want the leg? It's made for one particular person."
"What would you do with the leg? Can't sell it."

Oh how far we've moved from the pot bellied stove and the sharing of stories—some totally true, others varnished up with a bit of imagination.

Friday, July 18, 2014

For My Wife

Moments add up,
snapshots stockpile
a cache to dip into,
to step into
sequined slivers
and wear a shawl
of love

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Middle East

If I only knew the names
of the people on both sides,
I could pray with specificity
Dear God, I'd say
Look in on Ahmad, Amani
Ibrahim, Naim
Look in on Ahaia, Areille,
Izak, and Izso

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

God is in the Dance


I breathe in the wind
let it spin me around
and round until
trees lose form and
creation dances

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Penultimate Adventurer

Imagine walking the Appalachian Trail? Imagine walking the Appalachian trail at the age of sixty-eight? Imagine carrying what you needed in a sack flung over a shoulder? 

A grandmother did just that and now there's a book chronicling her exploits. 

Imagine traveling thousands of miles across the United States dragging along a leased Airstream? Imagine hoping to get the pulse of the country and divining a reason for how it all hangs a together even though we are a melting pot?

A well known author did that and wrote a book.

So I sit here and ponder what long distance feat is out there for me? Someone even walked the walk of Abraham and wrote a book.

Spain's Camino De Santiago will take a conditioned walker thirty-five to forty days. But unless your trip is unique a million other folks have walked the walk. No book here.

Of course you can write a mystery--it's been done. 

Then there's another grandmother , 72,  who walks the 500 km long Camino trail. She transforms her journal entries into a book.

Maybe I'll write about the adventures of an armchair adventurer,  after all I've been down the Nile and up Mt Everest several times. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Metaphor of the Muggy Day

Hot
enough
to watch leaves
curl in and shrivel
You need to wait 
You can't rush 
what can't be altered
Time may
bring amends





Sunday, July 13, 2014

It was a hot and steaming summer eve...

Aromas bring back memories, but so does passing a particular landmark, or hearing instinctive sounds. Touch also acts as a springboard for reverie, for recollections.

I once had a friend who owned a pair of suede-like jeans. I loved the feel of those pants. Then for years upon years that material was out of favor with the manufacturers. Three years ago I tried on a pair of pants made out of the same or similar fabric.

The moment I picked up the pants a reel of memories began to play. Unbidden. 

Today when driving past the Wayland P.O. I recalled renting a post office box in that building. Several times a week I'd drive six miles to pick up my mail. If I had mail I'd stop in at my favorite coffee house-- order a raspberry twist and a small cup of coffee and open my letters. 

It felt so clandestine as if I was a character in an espionage plot. Of course that was the era of longhand and written epistles. 

Today people simply change their email address or create a variety of email addresses. But you can't compare the opening of a letter-- especially a long letter-- with the opening of an email.

There's a plot here, somewhere. There's a story, but is there a storyteller?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

With Each Step...


When I first began this blog I never anticipated writing every day, nor did I expect to post pieces by other writers. Certainly I quoted passages or often responded to what I read. And snippets of poems or essays, or lines from books read, acted as catalysts for my own words.

But I never established any hard and fast rules. This morning I received an email from my son David, who lives with his family outside of Tel Aviv, Israel. 

After reading his simple prayer I knew that I wanted to share his thoughts, his prayer, his words.

My father loved words, their sounds, their nuances, and the subtle differences between words. He passed that love on to me and I think I passed that on to David. 

But it's not only the words, but how those words impact the reader. When I read David's words, I was moved and knew that I wanted to share his thoughts with anyone who reads this blog.

Shalom, my dear son.

******


A Simple Prayer

I woke early this morning so that I might run one last time in Sicily in the quiet of first light.

The run started off slowly and my body revolted against the idea of moving forward and I tried to clear my mind and concentrate on my breath.

My mind, as it oft does, began to wander and I started to meditate on the qualities and meanings of peace, and soon I began to actively run as a form of praying for peace.

With each step, I thought of the war being waged in my back yard and prayed not for a cease fire but that both Israelis and Palestinians might  hear my prayers and join me.  A cease fire stops the shooting but the underlying issue is that people must want to see each other as equals, and join together in a partnership of nurturing not only the land, but each other.

It is funny, as a child my mom took me to see a film about a King who talked about ending war and this same kind of peace - he had a dream and did not live to see it happen.  It still has not happened.

We spend hundreds of millions of dollars on cancer research and not once will anyone say that it is a cure targeted for one group of people - we try and cure everyone, yet the simple tenet of peace seems such a hard one to tackle.

It occurs to me that if each of us meditates on peace - runs or walks for it, carries it with us and sends it out into the world than it might be contagious.  

Perhaps it is the Sicilian sun and a diet of pizza and gelato that has me rambling, or perhaps it is just a single voice saying a truth that we all know - so take a jog for peace today - send your love out to those fighting in the Middle East - and maybe, just maybe one person might feel your prayers - 

David Craig 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Simple Potting Soil

two lilies
stretch beyond
their plastic pot
and preen

Thursday, July 10, 2014

To See Before Seeing

My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
--Rilke

I
see
an ocean
spread her color
before the
scent of low tide
assures me of the
longitude and latitude

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

But Have You Tasted the Hot Dog?

Some say that eating contests began on July 4, 1916 when four immigrants settled an argument about who was more patriotic by consuming-- engulfing--Nathan's hot dogs.

Of course that story may be just that, a story. Historians remind us that eating contests go back thousands of years. One historian even suggests that Neanderthal folks indulged in eating contests in their caves.

Because there are so many eating contests all over the world an organization emerged to set up rules and safety guidelines. If you're under the age of eighteen competitive eating isn't for you--yet.

I've never understood competing eating. Recently a man in South Dakota choked to death at a hot dog eating contest.

Why?

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Coda

The library is a cornucopia of possibilities. This afternoon I selected an eclectic array of books-- everything from a mystery billed as a thriller to Jesus, The Human Face of God by Jay Parini. And just before I left the library I found a new book about Hannah Arendt's thinking process.

Throw in a book about Urban Sketching and I feel like a Renaissance seeker or perhaps someone who can't make up her mind.

Add those books to the stack on my bookshelf and I could start reading now and continue for weeks. And best of all -- if I don't care for a book I can stop reading. It took me quite a few years before I knew I didn't need to finish a book.

What a freeing thought. Just close the book. Walk away. Leave the characters in limbo. Let the author figure out what to do with the mess.

Monday, July 07, 2014

A Wild Romance

I 'm in love with a pink golf ball. It's not the color. In fact the color is garish and in your face loud and boisterous. It demands you notice the dimples.

I didn't buy this ball. Someone lost it and a man on a mower found it and tossed it to me. I fell in love on the third hole. The ball read my mind and went straight and long-- for me. It consistently listened.

I know that in the beginning of a courtship each partner is out to impress, to show their best manners, to listen, to be attentive.

I know that a long courtship is preferable, but I want a sleeve, a whole box of these pink golf balls. They also come in white, but the glitzy pink showboat has captured my heart. They love flying high. If I buy the white will they be prim, self-contained, and not taken to flights of fancy?

I can't take a chance. But at heart I'm a realist and this pink peacock will need to prove that she is more than a one night stand.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

As I Was Saying

Dialogue: We all recognize it in a book. We even note those authors who capture real conversation with all its breaks and interjections. I expect that everyone knows great conversationalists-- those folks who can make the telephone book interesting and dramatic.

And we engage in conversation. We enter into a dialogue with another person or persons. Informal conversations happen in unlikely places and may be of a short duration. We don't expect to stand in the grocery line and become involved in a metaphysical debate.

I am stymied by two recent conversations and wonder how often I play a particular part.

In the most recent encounter I bumped into someone I once worked with-- a person I really like. She was with her husband.

I knew they had planned a walking vacation in the alps and she worried about being able to maintain the rigorous walking schedule. So I asked how the trip was, but I was behind in my chronology. They had taken that trip and another trip and were in the throes of planning a third trip in September-- a bit more rigorous than the previous jaunts.

I listened to the difficulty of planning these trips, the whys of going in September, and some other vacation items. By this time I needed to move along.

As I pushed my grocery cart I wondered how many conversations are really monologues.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Homesteading

I just read a book review about a family homesteading in the Adirondack Mountains. There's a short growing season, a fair amount of rainfall, and it's helpful if you know how to forage. Know your mushrooms.

You need to accept the cold, be able to fix anything even when you don't have the necessary tools, and be totally self-sufficient. Qualities that many of us lack.

Years ago I camped with a friend in the Adirondack's-- mid-November and the one room cabin had no indoor plumbing. A can would do at night.

We cooked our meals on a camping stove and ate with our gloves on. I wore multiple layers to bed.

During the day we hiked. I still recall the magnificent scenery, the stillness, and the oneness I felt with my surroundings.

Homesteading is alive. In September Paul Smith College sponsored an Adirondack Rural Skills & Homesteading Festival.

It's not for me, but I'm glad that there are people who want to learn traditional Longbow Construction, smoke local meats, and know wild edibles.

But I do want to read the book-- experience a vicarious adventure.

Friday, July 04, 2014

A Way To Observe the World

The drawing assignment: toast a slice of bread. Draw what you see.

I look at the bread. Notice the shapes, the holes, the light and dark patterns.

I begin a mantra. Slow down. Don't rush. Use a pen. Start with the shape of the bread. Make certain that the line follows, meanders along the edges.

Forty minutes later and I finish drawing a third of the slice.

To really look at something takes time. To let my mind, eye, and hand travel across the surface means shutting out all distractions.

I placed the toasted bread in a sandwich bag. Tomorrow I'll continue.




Thursday, July 03, 2014

Contradictions


An article in today's Boston Globe  chronicled the "growing rate" of obese dogs and cats. " In the United States , 53 percent of dogs are overweight." Cats top that figure.

Given the trend someone has to step up to the plate. Luxury dog spas will create special exercise programs. Now we're beginning to see " fat camps" for dogs and cats. These camps aren't only concerned about an exercise program. In one five day camp the canine version of Pilates, yoga, and Marco Polo help trim the overweight pooch.

One camp included "nature hikes, treadmill trots' facials, massages, and healthy treats."  Proper dog stretches are taught for balance and strength.

I was glad to learn that the dogs worked for their meals. No free handouts allowed.

On another page  an article about a young unaccompanied boy, Gilberto, who left his home country of Guatemala to make his way to Chicago where an older  brother lived and worked.

He came from an isolated area that was  mired in poverty. There was "no running or potable water." When he left his home he had one change of clothing and a backpack. "

He left his cowboy boots behind..." I expect that they were an important possession.

I imagine his mother gave him more than his share of the meager food that the family shared. She also gave him a white rosary to keep him safe.

Crossing the desert, always an arduous journey. By the middle of June, a month after he started his journey he died in the hot Texas desert. When his shirtless body was found the rosary hung around his neck.

Heat stroke. How many more children will die on their exodus?











Wednesday, July 02, 2014

A Different Life

On our way home from a two week Maine vacation we stopped at our usual Maine Visitor Center.

When I went into the ladies room a woman was cleaning, disinfecting, and polishing chrome.

The large rolling apparatus containing all the cleansers and extra paper looked heavy and unwieldy.

Pushing the wagon- a white haired heavy set woman who looked to be in her seventies.

She wore tie shoes

I said hello. She turned in my direction and mumbled hello. When I left the ladies room I couldn't help but notice the varicose veins.

It's all unfair, isn't it.



Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Lobsters

Tonight our waitress, whose husband is a lobsterman, told us her eighteen year old son is also a lobsterman.

"His father helped him buy a twenty-eight foot boat."

"How many traps can he put out.?


"450."

"He's lucky to get his own traps."

"His father put him on the list when he was young."

In Maine getting your own traps isn't as easy task. Often you need to come from a family of long-time lobstermen- or women."

" He's been fishing by himself for several years. When he was in high school he'd come home after playing on the baseball team and clean his buoys and traps."

"Until he bought this boat he used a skiff and only could stay near the shore. Now he goes further, but his father keeps an eye on him."

By that time our lobsters arrived. I know that her husband supplied the lobster.

Somehow I felt a connection.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Finding God's Grace in the Garden

to
see
flowers
through the lens
of a camera
to watch an ant crawl on the
vein of a leaf
to follow a bee on a petal
or wait for a butterfly to land
while you hold still



Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Illusive Memory

Sven Birkerts's book The Art of Time; explores the why and how of memoir writing.

He writes, " The memoirist is generally not after the sequenced account of his life so much as the story or stories that have  given that life it's internal shape."

That's quite an assignment. It demands honesty, digging through the shards of accumulated details. It means pushing aside those memories that are on the surface to find those that were foundational.

I have read memoirs that never moved beyond a " and then " stage. Memoirs that parade the author around like a horse and pony show.

Finding our stories --moving past the dross and mining our experiences, may be liberating or a daunting task.

Why not drag along a mirror and skip a linear recitation.