Monday, September 17th, 2018

BREAKFAST AT MY HOUSE

 

 

 

Breakfast at My House

(Megan, my daughter—Issa, my granddaughter—David, my husband—me)  Guess who said what.

—Great group. We always have great groups

—We made strawberry shortcake

—We have two new kittens but we miss Pumpkin

—Is Facebook still a viable marketing channel?

—Would you rather have grasshopper pie or bumble bee pancakes?

—This coffee is better

—More sprinkles?

—Equal parts sprinkles and yoghurt is the ritual

—I missed you

—How many bananas are there in this house?

—I was up at 4 am

—Healing is simple actually

—When you think with the mind, there are many truths, when you think with the heart, there is only one

—What’s the schedule for today?

—I think Woodward’s book was unnecessary

—NYC people are great

—I got a thank-you letter from the house across the street. I drew their house

—Gluten free strawberry shortcake. Tastes like baby powder

—I’ll email you a marketing question

—Too much marketing, too little substance

—Ouch

—I like sugar bugs

—There will never be a cat like Pumpkin

—Why did he go away

—Speaking of cats, kitty litter time

—Healing Light is a great modern book in 1946 language

—Whose toast is this?

—Do the good-bye dance

—I’m off

—Me too

—To the coal mines

—I love Whistle While You Work

—I can whistle

—I can’t

—I like Whenever I Feel Afraid, I Whistle a Happy Tune

—From what?

—From your mouth

—Out we go

—Don’t let the new kittens out

 

 

 

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Monday, September 10th, 2018

Two Books Worth Reading

I just read two books back-to back–There There by Tommy Orange and Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. The first was fiction, the second non-fiction. Both were powerful and gave a visceral understanding of two very differen stratum American Indian times and lives. There There is contemporary fiction about the urban indians of Oakland, California and the Grann book is true about the Osage Indians of Oklahoma during the twenties when they were millionaires by chance and murdered and exploited by white power.

There, that’s my antiseptic book report.
I had two strong reactions. One is that America has always been a mess of good and bad and heroic and evil. We can and often do good but it is a battle. Power is hard to manage well. We may need less difference between levels of power. And, color and difference will have to become an irrelevant factor.

The other reaction was about generational responsibility for a previous generation misdeeds. The pilgrims were just refugees weren’t they? Aren’t we? It’s odd to feel individually innocent but guilty as a dominant “tribe”.

I recently had two different people make amends with me for past hurts. It reminded me that, indeed, I had been hurt and had buried it into the past and moved on. I feel lighter. And it is Rosh Hashanah, a time to get clean with oneself and others, to ask forgiveness and start a new path.

So in the vein of awareness and forgiveness, I’m glad for the work done in Maine of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. My friend, Susan Howe, has been a part of this work. Here is her suggested link to learn more https://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/us-legacy-stolen-children_…

Forgiving isn’t easy. There must be truth in it for all parties.

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Monday, September 3rd, 2018

Blue Collar Kid

I am a blue-collar kid from a family of workers.My dad never wore a suit to work. He wore “work clothes”—dark brown pants and shirt, always clean and pressed. He worked three shifts—days, nights and four- to -twelve. After retirement, he still slept according to the rhythm of those shifts. He carried his lunch and coffee with him each day.

We lived in a house with and alley and he would go out the back door and down the sidewalk to the car. His walk to or from the car was always the same. It was matter of fact. He was an oil stillman. As he said, “my job is boring until a tank blows up”. And one day more than one tank  did. He was at home and ashamed not to be killed with his buddies. Slumped and sad, he wept all day smoking his Lucky Strikes.

My dad was pro-union and a member. He hated mistreatment or unfairness. I would hear him talk to my mom. He was asked many times to become a supervisor but would not, could not separate from his buddies. One year he took me to the annual Christmas party and I left loaded with more gifts I’d ever been given at one time. My dad was treated like a celebrity. He knew everyone. His nickname was Bud. (Probably because his first name was Withington.) I remember one group of his buddies laughing about how big a raise they could have had based on the cost of the party. It was good-natured cynicism.

My dad hated mistreatment or unfairness and so he grew to be decidedly anti-union as he saw the corruption in them and their betrayal of labor. He died a Republican with a nice investment portfolio. He believed in honest, hard work. And he thought capitalism was the best economic system, although at one point, I believe he was a card carrying communist. Not sure

My dad was refined (I smile because he worked in a refinery!!)  His prized possessions were a collection of The Harvard Classics and box set of Famous Classical Music. We ate in the kitchen except for Sunday (depending on his shift schedule). He would be still dressed from church, white shirt with cuff links, tie thrown over his shoulder and he carved the roast or chicken at the table. He watched the first Julia Childs TV show on publication television and was a good cook when my mom let him into the kitchen. A too strong curry and a raisin pie were his worst experiments that we teased him about forever. His chocolate eclairs were famous and his pizza, homemade crust and all. He brought home our first ever avocado we ate it while it was hard as a rock. Who knew that is needed to be soft?

My dad labored to give me a college education. He called me when I was a new mom and said, “Your mom and I are coming to see you so you can take us out to dinner. I just paid off your college debt.”  He made 4000 dollars more a year than my college annual cost. I never heard a complaint or grudge. He loved visiting me at college (DePauw University) in Indiana and made life- long friends with the retired CEO of a large oil company at one Dad’s Day. My dad was literally on strike at the time they met. They talked and talked and talked in a corner while his daughter and I were irritated that they weren’t going to the football game with us!

Every prom dress of special outfit I had came from my dad putting a good suggestion in the suggestion box and getting a bonus or from trading shifts and from working on holidays. He took me to buy my wedding dress.My dad labored with endurance and optimism that his work mattered to his goal of a college education for me and my brother. He labored with pride. He was never late and never called in sick.

I thank all of you (and those of us who might labor differently). And I wish for us all: respect for laboring, a livable wage, recognition and use of talent, and the knowledge that your work is worthy and matters. I’m proud to be a blue collar kid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thursday, August 30th, 2018

I’m Cusping

I can always tell when I’m in- between. It’s not a transition moment where there is overt movement of some kind going on. A cusp moment hangs fire. I am suspended and still. And achingly aware that the moment is full and rich and unique and will end.

I sit on the side porch of our wraparound porch—in my bower.Sequestered by honeysuckle and crab apple and redbud growth that is out of control and protects me. Cicadas bzzzzzzz at a high frequency  that immediately connects me to back-to-school excitement of  new clothes, new boyfriends, and even learning. I wonder if I’m that weird person that had a good time in grade school, high school and college? (Yep, with one heart break, a few pimples, and a D in college French!)  Plenty of hard times later to balance the scorecard, but Fall is all good to me. Spring not so much. (For another time.)

And so, as Summer is about to turn the corner, I collect my images. No photos. I took none. I used to ask my kids to grab an image from their day by counting to three and then I would clap  my hands and they would share  whatever came to mind. Usually there would be unexpected details. Images aren’t necessarily pretty. So, 1-2-3-Clap.

—Odd first indelible image. I see my son, Ethan, and his wife waltzing to live folk- ish music at the end of a lobster bake at The Sebasco Resort in Maine. The weather is pure Maine Summer. The sun is setting. Their profile is exactly that of the opening dance at their wedding. Annette is tall and naturally graceful. Ethan is handsome and just a little stumbly and they are having a moment of remembering themselves—the two of them only.

—I see the extra bedroom in the cabin we rented at The Sebasco Resort (the family reunion of 19 of us with most in one big ten bed room cabin). Each morning I held a Camp Cousins in this empty room with 7 grandkids to reflect on the day before and to notice what they had done to be helpful so that everyone had a good time—including parents.  There were two wiggle worm boys, one shy boy, one sedate (I use the word literally) pre-teen beautiful girl living in her own cusp but doesn’t know it) and one sweet five year old always school ready sitting with crossed legs and one 9 year old eager ready to participate in anything girl. The discussions interesting and innocent and fresh. The kids were sure hooked on their experience of getting stuck in an elevator. Only one in the whole resort and only to the second floor to a restaurant and they managed to get stuck and  unheard yelling and pressing the alarm button—twice. Almost drowning was another good topic. And Sour Patch Kids too. I see another granddaughter, naturally naked in the ocean and salt water pool and in her garden—a sprite, a delight. Shockingly, the liked Camp Cousin and got good at self-reflection.

—I see my legs under the covers in our master bedroom/playroom/library/memento center/laundry turn around. I lived like Emily Dickinson for too much of the Summer.I hate/love air-conditioning. I retreated there to breathe and dry off. I was continually condensing from hot to cold and back again. Luckily, I love my duvet. Simple pleasures. Silly image, but true to my Summer.

—I see my granddaughter’ssweet hands, competent hands, expressive hand, soon not to have dimples.I see them poking out as she plays “caterpillar” under the porch couch cover as she struggles to become a butterfly. I see her hands cutting vegetable with aplomb. I see them drawing, drawing, drawing, drawing with shoulders bent in earnest concentration, never stopping until a picture is done and then saying, “I don’t know why I just like to draw”.  I see her hands lifting and turning and sliding her favorite water toys in and out of the tub, the galvanized pails, the ocean—three tiny rubber octopi from the dollar store, her pals for three Summers.

—I see my husband, David, 83 years old and in good shape going kayaking at the Sebasco gathering dressed in his gear, walking back from a three- hour trip around the bay, having challenged a thirty year old to a race. And I see him leading a conga line of fifty people around the resort dining room with our kids and grandkids chagrined and proud.

—I see me gestating even when engaged, pondering, weighing, getting ready for a corner I will turn, ready or not, knowing that what is now won’t be the future. I have been on retreat.  No writing, not much social life, but filling up on family. Getting ready. I’m cusping. And savoring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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