………swim

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One day I’ll take a week by the sea, alone.

When I’m sure my doing so won’t harm a creature living, namely dogs, children, and husband. When no wolves are present, looming, or nearly past just a while. A place where the forest meets the sea, in the warm season.  Such places exist, in Australia or the Pacific North Western United States.

I’ll wear knee-length well-worn cotton shorts and tank shirt, my hair long enough to braid. I won’t bathe or wash my clothes except when I swim. When I tire of the sun and water in the heat of the day, I’ll go to the forest. I’ll sit beneath a grand giant tree and wait. The old woman will come and make sense of all that has been, to guide me towards peace. She’ll speak softly, without my asking one question or uttering a single confession. I need only listen and be still. Each afternoon, just as day meets twilight, the old man waits at the shore in his little skiff. I climb in and we go for a sail as the sun sets. We don’t speak. He smokes a pipe and looks pleased with my progress of the day. At a moment he chooses, I jump off and have a swim again. Then I sleep, sleep, sleep. 

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Daysift Prompt, not daily……………

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Today is re-post one of your favorite posts day. Yeah, that’s right. Daysift Prompt.

She said it was a strange thing to be shrinking, growing more and more invisible each day. For awhile she resisted, fought, considered it a condition most reprehensible. Each time she realized how much farther the ceiling was moving, the more she hoped someone would notice, and perhaps tell her what they saw. What she looked like, because without some information as to what they perceived her to be, there would be no way for her to come back. It has always been thus; her reality existed only in the roles she performed for the people who passed through her dimension.

And then, just before she disappeared entirely, a voice, very small and quiet said, “I’m still here.” Was it her voice? Or simply an echo. It seemed unlikely at best that it might be her voice as she hadn’t heard it herself in a very long time.

Then again came the voice, “Hello there? Did you see me?”

She thought to herself, “How can this be? Someone can see me? But I’m utterly invisible.”

The voice seemed to able to read her mind, as the response came, “Well of course I can hear you, you are invisible after all?”


But I was wondering if you could see me, not hear me! Well, yes I suppose you’re right. I am invisible now, but it’s only just happened and I’m not quite used to the whole thing yet.

The voice before me was only that, a voice. Yet somehow the sound was visible.

“My dear, how can you not be accustomed to invisibility? Not a soul in the realm can acquire this state without a life time of diligent focus.”

Oh no, it was never even my intent, much less something I put effort towards.

“Best hope no one hears your belligerence! Have you forgotten? Invisibility is the highest form of existence and the most sought. There are however, a very few who are born that way. Is that it? Were you born invisible?”

Well, I don’t know really. I can’t remember a thing about it. Only that I tried very diligently to be seen.
“What a strange being you are. Clearly you’ve stumbled down The Other Rabbit Hole. It’s happened a few times before, and your kind typically arrive in a similar state. Can you still see me?”

Well, I can see your voice but I don’t understand how I can see something that is only a sound.

“Very good. Then keep looking. That is if you’re not too awake.”

Too awake?

“Yes, if you’re too awake you’ll need to stop looking, and then you won’t be able to hear what I’m about to show you.”

“In our realm, “Other” for short, when a soul is born as an invisible, something has gone terribly wrong and all powers are brought to aid. You see, there is nothing more precious and rare than a child here. And, for that child to be born invisible is to rob her of her life’s journey. Invisibility in childhood is always the result of the now highly rare low-nurture-chromosome in one, or, horror of horrors, both parents. So, in order for the child to have the opportunity to grow into her true and glorious invisibility, an entire network steps in to the aid of the young family.

Now, as I have said, this is extremely rare since we have long ago evolved as a species. Since you still seem to be struggling to see how invisibility could possibly be as splendid as I say, please let me know if you can still see my voice.”

Yes, yes.  And I don’t feel too awake at all. I’ve never felt less too awake before in fact.

“The typical beginning of a child’s life here is nothing less than perfect. No attention is spared, no need ignored.  And more than anything else, each child comes into the age of awareness (usually much younger here because of the absence of fear) with absolutely no doubt that she is loved, and wanted, and prized above all else. We’ve achieved this by many thousands of years of practicing humility. In fact, our only educational institutions are Humility Universities. And, of course the associated arts, compassion, empathy, and gratitude. Everything else is learned by living and sharing knowledge. Is this looking like  a complete picture for you yet? Oh right, the invisibility quest. Our children grow up fully aware of their place and value that the only path left is to become so connected to all of the world they live in, that there is no need to be seen. I’m not completely invisible yet as you can hear. A few of us elders choose to remain slightly visible, just in case.”

Just in case……………someone like me stumbles into “other.”

“That’s right. We feel it’s important, to give this gift, if only to a few of yours. You see, that’s how we evolved, one being at a time, trusting another. But most of all, that relentless humility. Now my dear, you have a choice to make. You can most happily and with our genuine invitation, stay here in Other. If you choose to do so, you will be led through rigorous training to be rid of your false invisibility.”

And my other option?

photo by daysift

“We lost another one. Yes, the same question. Is there another option. So perplexing that they continue to think there is another choice than the path of humility.”

When I woke up, I knew it was my voice, the one that had said, I’m still here. And, I was invisible, with no one to teach me how to be truly invisible.

Paying it back, and forward…………….

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Congratulations Virginia Views for receiving the Liebster Award!  I always look forward to reading your posts about life and lore in the country. Thank you Dor for choosing my blog as one on your list for this award. I’ve been at this blogging thing for roughly a year now and feel like I’m really getting to know some folks and have made some friends. (I can tell by the comments you know?) There are so many amazing writers out there and you are certainly one. Thanks for the encouragement! I too had a tricky time finding blogs that hadn’t yet received this award, and/or had less than 200 followers. I follow quite a few so it was hard to choose indeed. It’s entirely possible that among my nominees are bloggers who have exceeded the 200 mark. No offense intended if this is the case friends!

Liebster (pronounced: leeb-stir) is a German word meaning sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.  The Liebster Blog Award recognizes up and coming bloggers and winners are asked to “pay it back and forward.”  The award is given to those bloggers who have less than 200 followers. 

The Rules for the Liebster Award are as follows: 

  • Link back to the blogger who gave you this award
  • Post the award to your blog
  • Post 11 things about yourself.
  • Answer the questions asked of you, plus create 11 new questions for your nominees to answer
  •  Nominate 11 people you think deserve the award and link them to your post.
  • Go to their pages and tell them they have been chosen.

Eleven things about me? Oh boy, here we go……………

1. I’m no longer allowed to add movies to our Netflix queue.

2. While I am merely street smart, somehow I am the mother of three brilliant children.

3. I keep a well stocked spice cabinet, and, I know how to use them.

4. I am frequently asked by complete strangers if they’ve met me before.

5. I believe I have, or am a clone. (See #4)

6. I dream in color, and 4 dimensions.

7. I like to use household objects for tasks they were not intended for.

8. Seeing the wind catch fallen leaves in such a way that it looks like they are children chasing each other mesmerizes me.

9. As long as I have toilet paper and light bulbs on hand, I can navigate most anything.

10. I love planting spring-flowering bulbs, and forgetting that I did.

11. My highest goal in life is to truly master the art of listening.

And here are the 11 questions and my answers to Dor:

1)    If you could go anywhere in the world and stay for a month, where would you choose to go? Any island or tropical location that is not loaded with tourists.

2)    What is your hobby? Writing.

3)    What was your childhood dream? To be able to fly.

4)    What was the best gift you ever received? My son, at age 7, built a small lego box and put a bubble-gum machine ring in it. I still have it.

5)    What is your favorite movie? It’s a Wonderful Life

6)    Who is the person who inspired you the most? My Dad.

7)    What is your favorite dessert? Butter pecan ice cream.

8)    What is your favorite quote? I’m on the second leg of a return trip home to being me.

9)    What do you do for relaxation? Blog.

10) What is your favorite remembered scent/smell from childhood? Saw dust.

11) If you could be a character in a book, who would you choose to be? The mad hatter.

 The questions for my nominees, should they choose to take on this mission:

1. What did you make for dinner last Monday?

2. What’s the 1st thing you think of when you wake up?

3. Do you remember how to explain long division?

4. How long can you hold your breath?

5. Why do you write?

6. You have an itch and you’re in public. How do you handle that?

7. Check caller ID or just answer?

8. What is one thing that never fails to irritate you? (And you can’t say people asking you #1.)

9. What is one thing that never fails to make you smile?

10. Who is a person that you think you may have influenced in a positive way in your life so far and how?

11. What is your favorite holiday and why?

My nominees:

Life is a Bowl of Kibble

Not Quite Old

Earth-Rider

Playing with Words is Fun

49 and Counting

Articles of Absurdity

My So Called Dutch Life

Hagfest

Big Happy Nothing

Fat Lies and Fairytales

Write Below the Surface

 

Dear Aunt Judy…………..

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Your visit came as such a  surprise, I didn’t really think about how, or even, if, we would communicate again. I don’t have your phone number, and, you don’t use e-mail. You arrived announced. Unexpected. While I’m always up for a surprise visitor, yours was a burst of pure sunshine. I’m just writing to say how much it meant to us that you came by last month. I didn’t expect you’d be up to it after Uncle Joe died. Didn’t even know you could drive that Lincoln. Plus, well, we haven’t heard much from anyone really since our bankruptcy. Or maybe they’ve just moved on. Guess everyone’s kind of uncomfortable with us and how we’ve handled things. Sometimes I think our folks are better at helping out strangers than each other. That’s fairly common though, I know. Maybe it’s like when someone is sick, and you don’t want to pester them with the “how are you” all the time. It’s been tough and I’m just beginning to feel it’s behind us. Those wolves never really go away though. The hardest thing for me is the lack of meaningful work, unemployment, under-employment. That’s a crazy-maker. I guess I’ve given up at this point about the work thing. At least for now. Thanks for helping me heave-ho all my design stuff. Maybe that’s just the thing I needed to do, to move on.

Sorry we didn’t have the guest room ready but that is a decent mattress. Like you said, who cares about the decor, as long as there’s a bed to sleep in. I feel lucky that we found this place for rent, in the school district I wanted for Julia. That’s what my life is all about, my kid’s. If they’re happy and thriving, what else could I want? If you were here now, you’d see what I’ve done with the living room. Guess you kind of inspired me. Thanks for the can of paint. That room has been empty for over two years except for Julia’s piano. You were so right about a coat of paint kick-starting a room. I added a few majesty palms, a love seat and coffee table from the consignment, and, curtains! The curtains scare the shit out of me as I said. You know the old saying; hang some curtains and you’ll surely be moving on soon.

The flower beds are pretty much put to sleep for the season. I did divide those monstrous day lilies. There was more than enough to fill in the blank spots in front where I’d dug up those dead evergreen bushes. I moved the yarrow back and found all the allium bulbs, I hope. Planted another dozen to join them, different variety. Oh, and my special treat, crocus. I just love how they come up so early, and sometimes even peek through the snow. Thanks for the tip on how to keep the rabbits and deer from nibbling on the herb sprouts. Paprika. You really think that hydrangea is going to make it? I sure hope so. Would you believe the oaks in the grove dropped all their leaves in the past two days? I don’t think I told you but I chose a flower for each of the kids. Trudy’s is tiger lily, Desmond’s is yellow rose, and Julia’s is hydrangea. I really like your suggestion to say a prayer every time I plant a seed, or a bulb, or a new plant. That each prayer will be answered simply when the plant grows. That is the answer. Seeing the growth. By the way, Julia is crazy about you. She has little experience of family, but besides that, she said she thought it was so wonderful how you just popped in and said you were staying for a week or so. Hope you didn’t mind her sneaking into bed with you those last few nights. She’s a snuggler that one.

Glad you liked my coffee. Even more glad you were here to have a cup or two. You said you were making the rounds, dropping in on everyone. You needed some time out of the house to decide what to do next for you. I have to admit I’m a little worried about you all by yourself. I’m sure the Lincoln is in great shape though. Uncle Joe always made sure of that. I can think of more than a few who will be surprised to see you. Will you give us a buzz when you get home? I’d sure like to stay in touch. How about Thanksgiving?

Lavish, sublime, wonderful, sumptuous?

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In just a matter of months, there will be a change in who I am. That is to say, I’ll still be me but with a new title. Naturally, it is fitting to research the exact meaning and proper execution of this added persona. Some say I over-think everything. They’re just a bit jealous of my elevated state of awareness. No matter.

First to consider the examples of Grandmothers in my life. When my own mother held my first-born, her lack of ease and extreme awkwardness sent chills down my spine.

My step-mom was 43 when my 1st child came along and she was in no way interested in being a grand parent. In fact, she let my kids call her “Oma” until Dad died. She let them know they needn’t call her that anymore. She is rather taken with the whole age thing and having a nineteen year old call a 62-year-old “Oma” kind of interfered with her self-image.

My mother-in-law, on the other hand, is the grand matriarch type. I’d never really met a matriarch before and it fascinated me to see how the daughters rose to that model of family governance. The women created an impenetrable force while the guys, (and the daughter-in-law,) danced around the perimeter with a combination of curiosity and estrogen over load. Her landed family survived the great depression in western Kansas and while they did not suffer, were able to help many who were. She had seven grown children and a gaggle of grand children as well when my baby was born.

I never met my maternal grandmother. She lived across the Atlantic and died shortly after I was born.

My paternal grandmother, also across the sea,  I would describe as a story-book character.She dressed like a lady, always in a dress and stockings. It appeared to me, as a young child, as if her fashion pleased her; never overdone and appropriate to the moment. (I learned that she had worked in a couture’ ladies clothing shop in Rotterdam in the early 1900’s. Millinery Department.) I didn’t get to see her often, evidence the great distance, but I feel I got to know her. Maybe it was the language barrier that made her seem all the sweeter and our connecting in such a simple way. I never heard her raise her voice, except when she was testing her hearing-aid. Only a look in her eyes and a subtle tilt of her head made it unmistakable what  she was thinking of me at that moment. Always there was great love and the most deep sense of her interest in me. Not because I was her favorite, but because my Oma loved that much.

When I was in my early teens, we had a surrogate grandma. Grandma D. Her husband, Grandpa D, was my Dad’s accountant. Their children were grown and flung to the far corners, serving in the military. Sometimes, we shared a holiday. I still remember an Easter, when I tasted baked ham and scalloped potatoes for the first time. I cleaned house for Grandma D for a time on Saturday mornings. While I cleaned, she made us lunch. That’s when I was introduced to things like lasagna,  and tuna salad.

Our youngest child had surrogate grandparents too. Mr. and Mrs. L. They’re the kind of people who always have room at the table, and, in their hearts. Mrs. L always had a story to tell about growing up in South Dakota, and the story never failed to include an anecdote for life. They brought chocolates, or blueberries, or popcorn. Several times, Mr. and Mrs. L brought a gift-wrapped box of Captain Crunch cereal, which was her favorite. Since we’ve left, we still correspond, the old-fashioned way. Letters. By mail.

That pretty much covers, I believe, all the direct examples of Grandmothers in my life.  Google search: “What to Expect When You’re Going to be a Grandmother.” Huh. Apparently that isn’t a common search.  There are books like Grandmother’s Memories, poems, favorite books for Grandmothers to read to their grandchildren, books on gifts for grandmothers to give and receive. Now here’s an interesting one; Funny, You Don’t Look Like a Grandmother, by Lois Wyse. “How to Win the Granny Wars…and reveals the truth about that credit card-toting phenomenon Shopalong Cassidy-The Plastic Grandma.”

According to the word cloud above, which contains all of the connections I could find related to the word grand. Randomly, the cloud suggests the most prominent traits would be lavish, sublime, wonderful, and sumptuous. Research complete? I suspect that no matter how I might try to prepare, I’ll be quite swept away and that will be just who I am.

there’s a hole in the bucket dear Liza…………

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How are things in your neck of the woods? Here are a few observations and experiences from mine this year. Let me preface this by pointing out that I live in a relatively modest, ordinary town, population approximately 125,000, in the Midwestern United States.

I saw a blind man, walking along the street pushing a 5 or 6 year old child in an empty shopping cart. School was in session. Why wasn’t the child in school? How can they possibly manage life? How can these two be walking along without anyone stopping to ask if they need help? Why did I not stop?

A young man, riding a bike, stopped and sat down in the street. He screamed repeatedly, as he sobbed and threw his arms wildly, “I did everything I could and they still fucked me over!” What happened? Lose his job? Lose his home? Several people came out of their houses to see what was going on. Another man in a car stopped and talked with him, then followed him slowly in his car when the young man got back on his bike. Did they know each other? Did the man in the car stop to help him? What did I do? I called the police. I was afraid for his safety. I told the police there was a man having a nervous breakdown.

All summer, I have seen grown men and women who have taken jobs waving signs at busy intersections for sandwich shops and pizza joints. These are the jobs that are available? What possesses a restaurant owner to humiliate a person in this way? What do they pay a person to do that for hours on end? I asked my husband about it, “How long has this been going on?” He said, “Forever. Remember sandwich boards?” Seems to me that was in the 40’s.

Most days there are people at the highway exit/entrance ramps with signs that say, “Homeless. Anything will help.”

The ice cream truck was still roaming the neighborhood in October. That is a strange and slightly eerie sound to hear on a fall day.

I can’t get work in my field unless I lie. Having been out of work, hence a gap on my resume’, is an automatic dis-qualifier. I was turned down for an hourly position at a garden center because I have a child at home. Illegal interview question, yes, but no point in arguing it. Still won’t get the job.

Home-made fliers stuffed in the mail box and people going door to door looking for work is a “normal” fact of life. I did it too.

My daughter gets upset when she hears emergency sirens. Why? She said when she hears them, she knows someone is in trouble. Her instincts are true. What “sirens” do you hear?

………topics, topics, topics

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And not a post forthcoming. Topics. That’s all I have in my head today.

Ignore your family and they go way. Ignore your friends and they come looking for you.

It’s fun to misuse a cliché. “He sure knows how to bring home the pot roast.” “That’s just a cock and cow story.” “Wow, you’re really dressed to the fourteens!” Then see how quickly someone corrects you.

A fresh coat of paint really does liven up a room. (The names of paint colors can sell me. Who comes up with these? Low fog, prairie blanket, feather grass.)

Election season brings out the worst in a lot of people.

Many retailers now use the words, “Your order is allotted” instead of the words back-ordered.

It’s somehow exhilarating to see an Alaska license plate.

People are each on a journey that is uniquely theirs. The more often I stop and acknowledge that, the greater the humility and respect I find in my responses.

Canadian rainbow trout and a rudimentary skill with Chinese spices are now a part of my culinary regulars.

I don’t give advice. I haven’t mastered anything to that degree.

The timeless nature of a kid’s summertime lemonade stand. What else can be repeated over and over again across the decades and still be as enduring and simple?

It’s entirely possible to cultivate a kind heart in a child, yet, bullying is epidemic.

From the legend of the white and black knights at King Arthur’s court: There were two brothers, The Black Knight and The White Knight, and they set off on a quest, each on his own, one going north and the other south. After many years they met in a dark wood, and did not know each other. They immediately assumed that they were enemies until, when both were lying bleeding to death on the grass, they undid their helmets and recognized that they were brothers.

Given a choice of only one, I would choose water over mountains.

My life is like a tumble weed. It tumbles upon itself in the wind and at the same time moves forward in an unexpected way.

In the morning when we get up and it’s still dark, she reaches for my hand and we walk down the stairs together.

…summertime is gone again….

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Most of my plants died in the drought. Virtually all of the fruit crops here in Michigan failed with the exception of one. The wine grapes. No apple pie with my Pinot this fall. I’ll manage.

I spent most of the month of June in a “zero gravity” chair nursing an episode with my back. I now know exactly how many times a week Chuck’s Day Off on Cooking Channel is a repeat. Towards the end of the month, my son, 26, and daughter-in-law paid us a visit. Amazingly, I couldn’t even sit down after they delivered the news of a child on the way. I love the way 26 spilled the story. He said, “Mom, so would you want to be called Oma or something else?” It took me fully 30 seconds to process what he was telling me. This will be my first grandchild.

In July, we wrangled a trip east to see our eldest (29) with our youngest (9). We had the car which we bought from the devil (post bankruptcy, lost everything you had, try to buy a vehicle cuz’ you can’t survive without one type devil) inspected for the long trip. The shop said, “Sure, you’re good! Not sure how long that head gasket’s gonna’ hold out though.” We rent the house in Jersey, sight unseen, to go see that daughter of ours out  there working on her Masters. The car breaks down, luckily before the trip. (Luckily? Yeah, that’s the way it works when you’re livin’ on the edge. Exciting right?) It’s a major repair that can’t possibly be accomplished before the trip, so, we rent a car.

We got to spend lots of time with 29, and this was 9’s first big vacation ever. Several outings to Philadelphia, a day at the Jersey shore, not to mention Princeton itself. The most unexpected moments for me were when we navigated through the town where we lived when we were newly married. As we approached the street, and then the house where we had an apartment upstairs, the flood of memories and emotions felt as though I’d been holding my breath ever since we had left nearly 30 years past.

En route returning from Jersey to Michigan, we planned a stop to visit Gettysburg. Like most of the country this summer, it was excruciatingly hot. We decided to take the guided bus tour. Our guide was a life-long resident and had been hosting tours since he had graduated from high school some 40 plus years prior. He was good. Very good. The detail with which he described the events of July 1 to July 3, 1863 was remarkable. He was deftly building intensity as we approached the final stop. Little Round Top. The view of the surrounding fields and my newly sharpened comprehension of the build up to the battle that took place on that very ground left me dumbstruck. I suppose I’d expected to feel proud, patriotic, moved by the sheer history. Instead, all I could sense was death. Maybe it was the heat, but I don’t think so. Add to that my sense that we presently, as a country, haven’t been more divided since the Civil War. I’m not a very good historian though so it’s possible I’m wrong on that.

In August, 9 turned 10, and 26 turned 27. We convened once again, this time in Chicago, to attend and celebrate 27’s graduation, completing his master’s degree as a physician’s assistant.

So on with September. 9’s back in school, the 5th grade. She’s learning Spanish and continuing piano lessons. 27’s launching his career with a job already secured. 29’s finishing her final year, achieving her master’s in architecture next summer. The mum is going to be glorious, surely twice the size it was last year. The heat is subsiding and the clouds are high aloft, drifting in a pattern that recalls fall. And I’m back to trying to remember how to breathe, simply breathe.

 

photo credit Google images