Thursday, August 30, 2007
Don't ask me how I got lucky. That's for the universe to answer. The writer and philosopher Hugh Prather once defined "soulmate" as 'the person you just happen to be with when you finally realize the limitless potential a relationship can offer'. That might be what happened to Ces and me--time, place and circumstance, perhaps intersecting with destiny, so we two women amazingly, thankfully found eachother and became friends.
This post is an acknowledgement and thank you to Ces for being my best and dearest friend. It's enough that her vocabulary and fund of knowledge keep teaching me at every turn. It's fascinating that our opposite opinions invigorate rather than separate. It's remarkable that we enjoy listening to eachother for hours on end.
But most of all, it's miraculous that the two of us joyfully put up with, reach out to, tend and care for, unconditionally love and trust eachother, and laugh, laugh, and laugh some more. This is what the universe has awarded me, and I can only say thank you, thank you.
If you haven't already, you can visit Ces here. Count on her to entertain and educate with humor, civility and sometimes ingenious controversy. Following the recent honors she gave me, I am happily bestowing both the Thoughtful and the Creative Blogger awards to my friend Ces.
And, since writers write, here's one last way of making my point:
Friendship (To Ces)
I tell you about my bank account
The challenges I mount
My heart’s desires,
My passion and fires
The guy at the bar,
The near accident,
The words I meant.
The way I pace,
An occasional grace
The lights at the park,
My fear of the dark
The reasons I cry.
The times that I try.
My zero fashion
My deepest passion
My life on the lane
The times I’m insane
My college days
The places I’ve played
When I fall down
My sacred ground
Life in the Midwest
The times put to the test
Loving lobster and cod
The things I feel
When I try to be real.
You patiently listen
With an honest glisten
Thank you my friend
For fun without end.
August 29, 2005. Hurricane Katrina. It's been two years. I was there as a Red Cross Volunteer. These pictures don't do justice to the miles and scope of damage and destroyed neighborhoods.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
It's been two years. I marvel at my life here. First off, there are trees and farms and back roads and hill towns and freshly grown fruit and vegetables at every turn. In the spring we start with asparagus, then strawberries and blueberries, and currently we're up to peaches and summer corn.
Secondly, people are really nice. Genuinely nice. It's a small town way of being, I think. You know the plumber or the nurse's aide is probably also your neighbor, so decorum and thoughtfulness tend to dominate.
Third, I am living a bit of a country-bumpkin life. I often go to a Wednesday night auction where I might bid on a box of anything-goes for $ 5 or $ 10; I 'm landscaping my yard by hitting the Farmer's Market once a week and picking up whatever plants they're selling; I'm meeting friends at the hole-in-wall Smithsonian Restaurants on Friday nights; I'm walking from my backyard into a park with magnificent tall tall pine trees, a couple of little lakes, creek-side picnic sites, and slumbering trails.
And this weekend along with JB I'm visiting our friends' family barn:
Last summer and this one, we've planned one full day with our friends at the barn. JB and I brought lunch--tomatoes from our garden, JB's fresh-corn salad, french rolls with cheese and deli meats. And my peach cobbler--the first time I made it, with just-picked local peaches, and it was so awesome it was gone in a flash.
We laugh, we kayak, we catch up, wind down, eat, play pool, read, stretch, and we watch the bats come flying out of the chimney across the street just at dusk--more than a hundred of them using their precision sensors to come within inches of you but speed by without a touch.
The barn itself is so authentic it's like being there a hundred years ago. Our friends' parents have put in a kitchen and living area, a bath room, set up a pool table, and made a few bedrooms from old horse stalls--but mostly the barn is as it was and always has been.
As the afternoon fades, it takes takes on an ancient feel. We plan to grill steak but the charcoal is too old. So we eventually build a raging fire outside, wait for the flames to settle down, and cook the steak to perfection. We are having stuffed zuchinni with cous cous, corn on the cob, tabouli, wine (not me), and we do all this in slow motion.
We snug into the make shift living room, listen to 60's music, laugh and become quiet. As night settles in, we are definitely in a sacred space. You can feel it. And you can kind of see it. (Anon, look closely--there is a figure in the photo on the right.....)
It's the end of the weekend. I have seen bats and dragonflies. I have paddled upstream (ha!--nothing new there!), eaten food harvested that morning, relaxed in a sacred place with talented friends.
It's not everything, but it's a pretty easy way to live. I like it.....
Oh! I almost forgot: JB' watering cans. Here's a finished one she puts decorative paper over plastic and decoupages it. She sold 14 at our yArt Fair. Pretty cool, huh...
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Perhaps I've posted this little poem already. If so, hey, here it is again. Poetry is the easiest form of writing for me. Self-help books are the hardest. My favorite of all is the short story of Izzy and Casey, yet unfinished and that's fine with me.
I’ll be damned
My head is crammed
With thoughts of flying
And maybe even
And even possibly
And forever trying
Monday, August 20, 2007
If that sounds weird, perhaps it is, but I know others who prefer the opposite: they want to be the adoree instead of the adorer. Not me--maybe it's the breathless and sometimes insecure chase and challenge of love's wonderous roller coaster, but I just love being so smitten, everything stretches at once: your skin, your thoughtfulness, your life, your possibilities, your heart.
So based on another Big Yellow prompt, a few weeks ago in my writing group I wrote a silly corny poem about this very subject.
I love you, you know
I wish it weren’t so
Before you I coasted
And now I am roasted.
A peanutless shell
What a story to tell
You’ve wrestled me down
I’m a mat on the ground.
I’m a wimp in a suit
Being cool is so moot
You offer a slice
and I’m thanking you twice.
Whatever you ask
I’m up to the task
If I’m heard but not seen--
I’m just stuck in between
The grill and the grate
Where I rev up my fate.
I’m tempted to stay--
It’s even likely I may
Camp in your parlor
And gear up each hour—
For an encouraging word
Though sometimes absurd.
If I fold when you fawn
It’s because all along
I’m smitten by you:
What else can I do?
You speak and I jump
You coo, I’m a lump
I used to be tough
But now soft is enough.
Just don’t think I’m cheesy
Because it’s so easy
When you call out my name
My heart flutters lame.
This love is for real—
It’s a honeysweet deal.
I don’t need much back
I have what I lacked.
And when you see me today
These words would you say?
Ok! Fine! I do love you too !
Hey! Too funny:I already knew!
Sunday, August 19, 2007
"You mean they forget?"
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
This is how we started. The truth is JB and I (and Stella) live in a modest ranch house in a college area surrounded by farms, with a yard transformed by a fence we had installed, and then stained and painted ourselves for most of a summer--two panels at a time--and by my slow motion approach to gardening. I've been planting for the two years we've lived here but in relaxation mode.
We held the art fair in the side yard in front of JB's Magic Cottage. When we transitioned from art fair to back yard party at 4 pm, we put up a volleyball net and set up little tables in the back yard with table cloths and salt shaker vases and fresh flowers. I am using the word "we" generously here, because without being asked our friend Cheryl got the net up and our friend Amy arranged each table so it looked like a little cafe.
The Art Fair was fantastic. Here you see where Ces and I set up. We hung a few of her paintings on the fence and she sold her art and illustration calendars. You should have seen her face when the first person asked her to autograph the calendar! I will never forget watching her sign her autograph repeatedly throughout the day.
JB sold 14 watering cans she had designed and decoupaged, Tracy sold almost all of the one-of-a-kind wood birdhouses she made, Amy sold all her handmade cards. Cindy sold soap and fruit preserves. Lily set a beanie baby toss where everybody won. Jessica's signature humor was all over the place.
Before Ces arrived, I told her Stella was looking forward to giving and getting kisses from her dog bed. At the time Ces replied, "I'm not lying in bed with any dog!". But it didn't turn out that way. Multiple times over several days I would find Ces lying on Stella's bed, kissing and patting her. Here they are in a corner of the yard affirming their friendship.
By dusk, my son-in-law Mike was making whatever moves this photo implies and the night was young.
Such is the story of JB's Yard and Art Fest. But what I have told you by words and pictures does not begin to address the overwhelming massive love around and inside me. I cannot give justice to my feelings, but here are a few highlights:
--JB estatically walked around all day. Her dream had come true. What could be better than knowing that about someone you love?
Thursday, August 09, 2007
With his own hands he built their six room house for $ 3400. When the mortgage was paid off--$ 150 a month--they said they were free at last.
When he died 12 years ago, she started doing the things he did not approve of or did not enjoy with her, like going to movies and playing cards to her heart's content. She did this without one shred of guilt or remorse.
She lost most of her memory a few years ago while helping the family dog jump on the family bed. When she hurt her back all it took was one day's worth of narcotic pain meds to erase her short term memory and replace it with a zest to live fully anyway.
He stills visits in the flowers.
She loves her life.
When she fell and broke her hip, all she can remember is yelling "help, help". She tells this part of the story with a smile and a joyful rendition of the "help help" part.
She is in a nursing home for the first time in her life preparing to walk without harm or pain so she can go back home and read and play cards.
Don't tell her she can't be independent because she will glare at you.
They were married for 56 years. She is not sure about reunions in heaven because "What about people who were married to more than one person? How would those reunions work?", she asks.
She's my Mom and he's my Dad. They did right by me for all these years and for that reason alone, I will willingly return the favor.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
and is one volume;
when one man dies,
one chapter is not torn out of the book,
but translated into a better language;
and every chapter must be so translated...
As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon,
calls not upon the preacher only,
but upon the congregation to come:
so this bell calls us all:
but how much more me,
who am brought so near the door by this sickness....
No man is an island,
entire of itself...
any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know
for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee."
What a year it's been. I:
left my consulting practice,
began a new career as a writer,
witnessed the birth of an incredible baby boy named Ryan,
found myself a true-blue best friend,
designed and landscaped my yard,
installed a hottub under the stars,
finished the interior of our cozy little house,
adopted a shelter dog who deserves only good things,
attended the unveiling of my friend Willa's unexpected death,
made some life long friends who drop by for coffee and meet me at the summer pool,
traveled to the Amalfi Coast of Italy,
got my finances in order,
discovered the surprising joy of blogging,
decided to be myself,
once and for all.
Monday, August 06, 2007
"Ride the horse in the direction she's going"
"Bend like a tree"
"If you can't handle what's happening, wait two hours before you panic"
"Do the best you can"
"The universe has a sense of humor"
Thursday, August 02, 2007
So the answer to "Where is kj/" is this:
I have been spending my nights sleeping in a vinyl blue hospital chair that should recline but doesn't, trying to make up for all the gaps and problems in the United States health care system. This is not anybody's hospital stay of 20 or 10 or even 5 years ago. Some of it is so impersonal and regimented I'm actually feeling sorry for the nurses and doctors, not to mention my poor mother who thank god has me to keep an eye on what she needs when she needs it.
At one painful and uncomfortable point in the middle of dark night, with two nurses trying to insert a catheter that my mother had inadvertedly pulled out, I said, "I know this is hard, Mom. It sucks".
And my ever sharp 91 year old mother without a working memory responded, "KJ, it double sucks."