Wednesday, May 30, 2007
He’s a little boy by anybody’s standard—not yet five feet tall with blond bowl shaped hair and a short sleeved baseball suit that somehow lets you know he is the pitcher and shortstop. Oh, and he has the smile of a little angel-imp.
His name is Andy and he is staying with his Aunt Lulu because he was in all kinds of trouble in the chaotic house where his exhausted mother and drug dependent father cannot control any of their six boys, ages 16 to 3.
He probably does have attention deficit disorder and he definitely panics when things don’t go his way. He can’t fall asleep without someone lying with him, and months ago he stayed up all night for several nights after his father threatened to kill his hamster.
He does such an authentic leprechaun imitation you expect to see him jump onto the chandelier and swing away.
There is pretty much agreement by everyone involved that if he goes back home his trouble will follow him to adulthood, and probably settle there for the rest of his life. So his Aunt Lulu has completed a rescue mission and taken him in, enrolled him in 6th grade, and watched her single-woman life and career be imploded with the force of a turbine engine. She had no idea about the demands of after school and homework and baseball games and boring Saturdays and dinners and extra laundry and especially she had no idea about Andy’s occasional rage.
There are counselors and psychologists and supportive friends and there is true blue hope that Andy and Aunt Lulu might become a family. They are both trying, but it’s not looking good.
The friend who looks to Andy’s parents to shape up really knows this is not going to happen. And the other friend who believes the moment is near when this little boy either finds safety or is lost forever, knows you cannot create real resources where there are none. Both both fall asleep wondering what they might do to help Andy. They are looking at their full wonderful lives and know they cannot absorb a 12 year old boy without great great life-changing sacrifice. (Why couldn't I take him in?, they dare to think.) They push themselves to be realistic, but that is not an easy thing to do. It is easier than ignoring the reality of Andy’s situation altogether, but not by much.
If a person of any age were hurt in an auto accident, for example, or fainted at the movies, almost anyone would stick around to help, do what they could, and then feel good about it. (Couldn't I?) In a sense, Andy is hurt and fainting in slow motion, granted, but his injuries are just as critical. You can trick yourself into just standing and watching, but not really. You can also try to shake up and bitch down the agencies one would hope are equipped to step in and help, but the reality is they really aren't equipped--not for slow moving emotional damage.
Aunt Lulu maybe can’t do this. So then what? What is expected when honorable good people—those with busy lives and open hearts—see a good sweet child with the potential of the universe, teetering and trying to hold on to his dear life? A 12 year old child looking for a place to be safe so he can let go of the survival skills he’s had to learn and replace them with his true leprechaun self.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
JB and I moved into this house without an understanding that this third of an acre lot is pretty sunny and offered some landscaping fun. I'd never had full sun before--never!--and I love shopping at garden centers as much as I love bookstores. Add to this the unbelievable fact that I have non-work time like never before: these days I am still writing and pondering my next moves while I leisurely plan out my yard.
I'm an enthusiastic gardener but not an expert one. If you think about it, gardeners only get a limited amount of chances to paint their canvasses. I think that is why older people seem to be the best gardeners-they've had more opportunities and seasons to practice. To compensate for all that I don't know, my plan has always been to buy and plant things while they are blooming--that way I can actually see how the colors, size, height and duration will look with everything else around it. Last fall this plan fell apart when I had back surgery, so I'm really only on my second year of beginning to plan and plant.
I'm hopeful. Here's some of how I'm doing:
1. Last summer we hired someone to build up this "shade garden" in our front yard. He turned over the soil, pulled out some roots, and added about 4 inches of compost and top soil. The result: I can plant most things without worrying about hitting roots. Then I bought hostas and a few ferns. I planted the hostas in a circle around the tree. I've now added a couple of Bleeding Heart perrenials, a few begonias, ground cover in the lower right hand area, and today I started putting annual IMPATIENS (ha ha ces, I will no longer spell it wrong) around the outer rim of this half circle. I dug a trench all around the circle, using this fantastic spade I got for Christmas. I've never used a spade before (it's a flat shovel) and it's been fantastic in making a boundary. Oh, and I hauled and spread out mulch.
Here is the current view from the little room off the kitchen. This is project # 1, and it's just about finished. It took me about 6 hours to get all this done.
2. Here's Project # 2. I started with a messy area around the front lamp post. I dug it up and found thin hostile sheet metal someone had dug in, probably to keep the grass from spreading. I wanted to get the metal out so someday I wouldn't be nonchantly planting and all of a sudden I've sliced my hand. I tried to remove it, but it was hostiley hopeless. In the process, I sliced my finger. So I left the ##@%% metal, took my time making a border using flat rocks, and added as much topsoil and compost as I could. Then I planted dark pink IMPATIENS. They will flower all summer. This shot is incomplete--you have to imagine one or two more circular rows of inpatients. Project # 2 looks so simple and basic I'm embarrassed to admit how much time and energy it took. I'll leave it at that.
3. Project # 3: This is my favorite. Last year I hired two guys to dig up an area off the driveway for me. I wanted a half circle garden where I would mix perrenial flowers, herbs, and a few vegetables--tomato plants being one absolute necessity. Today I hope to plant 8 tomato plants, surrounded by marigolds and basil, which all serve to compliment and protect eachother from disease and bugs; and leeks and onions, which I've never done. Last week I planted little lettuce just behind the # 9 rock. The garden will take the most time and effort all summer--it will need to be weeded and I will keep adding and thinning plants, following my plan of planting and clustering while they are in bloom.
4. Project # 4: The back yard and the back of the garage--I am giddy that the ferns and begonia-like leaves I planted last spring have come back!! I will add pink IMPATIENS in between and that will be that.
Projects # 5, 6, & 7: This area will take me a few years to finish. I want to put a stone path of some kind to JB's Magic Cottage, the area against the fence is still a big question mark, and the patch of dirt that you see will shortly be jampacked with zinnias. Last year we had freshly cut flowers all summer. If you have never fallen in love with zinnias, I recommend that you do. Give them sun, feed them once a month, and cut how ever many you want and they will happily multiply for you.
8. This is a shame. I have tried to make this shot vertical. I have tried!! In Adobe where it is stored, it IS vertical. NOTE: MY PROFESSIONAL BLOG DESIGNER WHOSE FIRST INITIAL IS "C" STRAIGHTENED THIS OUT FOR ME. IF IT'S NOT OBVIOUS, I HAVE FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES. That said, here's my most exciting yard project so far. Last year JB and I planted 3 flowering trees. This one is right outside my office and its flowers are AWESOME.
9. Here's the first flower from the garden. I can't tell you what it is but it's spikey blue. In the plant world, blue is not a frequent color, so I try to appreciate it more.
11. Project # 8: The area behind the Magic Cottage is a little sanctuary. There is traffic on the other side of the fence but JB and I pretend the whizzing of cars is actually the sound of ocean waves (magical thinking 101). Last summer I planted these boxwood shrubs which will hopefully grow into eachother. Last fall they were joined by flowering tree # 2. I don't know how this will develop, but I like the feel of it so far.
13. Oh, one more addition to my garden: Mr. Ryan gets baptised. He already walks with the angels. Maybe not the best transition, but, hey, this Thursday 13 is about growth afterall. :)
Here's wishing you all a fine Memorial Day Weekend. In this neck of the woods, summer now begins!
Monday, May 21, 2007
about your place and space
and I watched
your emptiness take shape,
one day content
in the simple act of cooking dinner
with basil on your fingers,
other times withdrawing
from aching disappointment
or confused by all those dualities
that lead you to the familiar
to the window
and the cellar,
all at the same time.
all at once,
If I watched your hearftfelt effort
to find yourself
at the place you first got lost,
I would confirm
there is no shortcut
and, fearful of sounding pompous,
I would think
about a few things
that may help,
I could tell you it is what it is,
that you have to feel your way
through jagged walls sometimes,
but in the end you learn to balance
between the mundane
and the sacred.
I could tell you the confusion stays.
It doesn’t ever really shrink,
sometimes because of real or imagined hurts
and sometimes because DNA works that way.
But—this is important—
I think the wonder stays too--
and so does the part you already know—
the part about how monumentally love matters.
So here it is.
This is where you might lose it--
these damn dualities.
I can’t tell you why you might
wake up in turbulence
When the rest of the world is busy
or why you might soar
only to crash hard and tight.
But I can tell you
to expect confusion,
to learn to work with it,
to work around it
and beside it.
And I can tell you
there will always be
moments when the stunning fireworks
pull you from your roots
and you know every single thing--
all of it compacted into
the shining molecule
Does this help?
Can you stay with yourself
when everything shifts
and you have to accept
before you seek?
Can you give yourself a break
and let not knowing
fill you in all the right places?
I HopeYou Can.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Here's another of JB's artwork. This one's in our kitchen. It shouldn't be sideways either.
JB also loves shoes. People stop and ask her where she's gotten her shoes all the time.
And JB loves Stella. She never had a dog before she met me and was afraid of most dogs. Stella is our third dog, following Nicki, our Siberian Husky and Rosie, our beloved Springer Spaniel. Last year we walked into a local shelter and JB saw Stella for 15 seconds and said, "We should bring her home". I wasn't sure at the time, but she was 100% right.
(Thanks, JB, for letting me post your picture. And a cute one it is..)
one that matters most. It is the trail
of a true human being. I think you are
on this trail, and it is good to see.
Kicking Bird to Dances with Wolves
in the film, Dances with Wolves
Does this path have heart?
If it does, the path is good;
if it doesn’t, it is of no use.
Both paths lead nowhere;
but one has a heart,
the other doesn’t.
One makes for a joyful journey:
as long as you follow it,
you are one with it.
The other will make you curse your life.
One makes you strong;
the other weakens you."
Don Juan, as written by Carlos Castenada
Monday, May 14, 2007
Next, Charleston. In my mind this was a larger Savannah, with the added attraction that it borders on the ocean. The one fact I can tell you is that Charleston is ranked as the most polite city in America. I can also tell you about porches.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Mother, she asked. How do you know when love is real?
All love is real, she said. She had that wise smile on her face her children would remember even when the call came about their Father. Even when they wheeled her into surgery, just before dawn and just after she wrote out the goodbyes that were not required after all.
Mother, she whispered. I love but I cry.
Do you cry because you feel or because you bleed? she asked.
She said, I don’t know, Mother. Sometimes memories and longing carry me to the silver stream where we used to camp. But then I fear I love too much and I wonder if I will be swallowed by it.
Mother paused. The movement of her arms and chin barely flickered. She smiled again.
“Daughter” she said, “There is no too much love. There is only enough love.
But separation causes pain, she said.
Yes, mother said, that is love.
Moments feel like days, she said.
Yes, that is love.
I forget myself, she said
That is love too. Mother’s green eyes looked straight ahead. She lifted her chin and waited.
But I’m told I care too much, expect too much, that I am too sensitive, that I am too vulnerable. I’m told I would survive.
That is incorrect. Mother said.
But if it’s incorrect, how can I explain that?
And it’s incorrect, how will I know?
You must see if she whimpers when you brush her hair and if she sings when the sun rises, just when the birds begin. You must watch how she reaches in her pockets and whether she notices the northern star. You must toss your head back and laugh when she tells you you love too much, and you must wait to let her character unfold.
But, Mother. How do you protect yourself?
You don’t, she said.
But what if love is not enough?
But what if you dance and then ache and then double over at midnight?
Mother smiled again. You wait, and then you see.
Mother, I love her.
Then you will let the angels guide you. You will risk everything.
My Mother walked to the sink and quietly folded the cotton dishcloth in half and then again. She patted twice it with both hands and turned to me.
Love is all you will ever need she said. It will bring you everything. Without it you will die.
But mother, how do I know?
You have to listen. You have to study and choose a pure and precious heart.
How, Mother? Can you tell from birthday gifts, or kisses on the forehead, or from the nights when my moans strip me naked and I can only hope I am not devoured?
My Mother smiled. Love comes from your own heart. It is the place you can only know when you have arrived there.
Mother, is it like the love I have for you?.
Will it cause me to enter a burning building?
Will it bring me to my knees?
Will it last, mother?
Love always lasts. It is only hope that doesn’t.
But can there be love without hope?
Mother took two steps back. She braced her arms and softly fell into the chair.
Daughter, she said. I am old. I have watched a child die, lost my husband two hours after he finished breakfast, survived a life of hunger and poverty, and sacrified everything for my children. I tell you that once love enters your heart, it lives there forever. You can be scorched, abandoned, forgotten or misused. You can lose all hope. But you never ever lose love. Love is like just like that. It takes root and before you know it, you’re all tangled.
And you’re tamed.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
This week JB and I hit the road for South Carolina. We've just finished another long winter and our thoughts are toying with warmer climates. So we booked a low-fare Travelocity flight to Greenville SC, used our accumulated credit card points for 7 free nights in a couple of local hotels, and off we went.
Between Greenville and Asheville lies the center of Saluda has with its 10 or so buildings--that's all. You can't blink or you'll miss everything. Enlarge this white building if you can and you'll find the police station and city hall side by side. The town may be small, but it's also classy. Properties were expensive, with lots of equestrian areas. This shot of ciders and tomatoes was in front of the small general store.
And these shots nearby. I thought "goodbye cool world" was a pretty cool way to talk about global warming, and this little grill and fountain restaurant took me back in time.
Lord, please forgive kj that she just cannot figure out, remember, or learn how to straighten these photos. She is pathetic and needs compassion for the time being......
The drive from Greenville to Hilton Head covered took us from the northeast to the southwest parts of South Carolina. This was a four-plus hour trip we again managed to stretch into the whole day, and loved every meandering minute of it. Hilton Head is on the ocean, but that will wait until another time. For now, may I introduce one of the small towns in rural America-- Prosperity, South Carolina.