Tuesday, August 31, 2010

of the dust, dusty.

We've slipped in late, because  - remember?  - no need to get Eldest here early to lead the singing.

I'd thought to sit elsewhere  where I couldn't see how she was gone. 

But being late, chapel full - it's easier to slip up the side aisle, toward our usual bench, open and waiting.

I'm not aching with loss this first week without my Eldest.
Not even thinking about her.

Nor, though, am I thinking of matters reverential nor salvific.

The grief I'm wracked with merely horticultural. 

Utter dustbowl.

That basement better never leak again.  Those builders yea have verily killed the sweet sarcocca and Japanese so-gracefully-nodding anemone which now will grow no more - oh woe.

I try to rein in, How shallow am I really? that a few dead plants - not to mention all those once happy soil communities now bulldozed into dingy talcum powder . . . unsuccessfully.

Not just the open bench waits for us.

Middlest's friend from school in his clean brown t-shirt, looking lonely and long-limbed, saves our place.

And Sandy, adoptive auntie-by-affection to my crew, heroic single parent to her own now grown, sees us, eyebrows and smile rising as she rises from the back pew where she's been waiting, follows us up to bookend us into place.

I'm thinking both, No escape, and Okay, so maybe this is nice.  Being in place.

Settling in, Sandy and I press cheeks together, whisper, "Hello!" She reaches behind me to clasp Mid, YoungSon on the shoulder, who grin. Mid's friend nods, smiling gravely at each of us, relaxing a bit against the back of a pew no longer so empty.

And leading the singing? That feisty lady, gentle-eyed, stubborn-chinned, who borrowed bike-basketsful of books during her months of chemo.

Can't resent her, I think, for taking Eldest's place.  She beams down a welcome home, her hair growing back in crisp white curls.

On the stand Fritz refrains from noticing we're late, attentive to the speaker, but his eyes twinkle.  I bend my ear to hear the words now spoken of matters reverential and salvific.

Shallow I thinks, Hmm . . . these shoes of mine? They do look pretty good.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Being a number good for cycles.

Doesn't the Sun ride his golden bike all the way around in 365?

Or no. We are imprecise.
(What’s new?) 
The World rides.  Panting.  Helmet listing to one side.  Working working her long ellipse.  Just keeping up with the faster planets.

And not 365 exactly.

Close enough. Two bits worth of change.

Because oh we need a change, my dear Imaginary Bicycle. 
(What’s new? )
We must reroute. Not keep going on at length, riding the same road around, boring on about the same landmarks, regular intersections.

Yes.  All those things about the cycles of life. Children who are no longer children. Parents who are no longer strong. Sunsets and sunrises. And how hard the uphill sections are. And all those pictures taken at the rest stops.

Sweet-and-sour nothings.

Fistful of dandelions. Yellow as sun. Drifting into emptiness like the downy-headed moon.

Insights obvious as daylight, just as weighty as moonshine.

Isn't there anything new?

How to Conquer the Continent.  
Beginning – A New Serial.

Time is always shorter.

Plus I have about 365 holes to dig now in my moonscape hillside.

If I were wise I would stop cycling here in place, backpedaling blogwise, dipping down into silence like the moon as she cycles. 
(Mixing metaphors abandonedly in this my hasty kitchen.)

“Why don’t you, if you want to?” asked a friend – I was going to say new friend, but there are no new friends.  New acquaintances only. Once friendship enters in, time steps aside.  Friendship partaking of that timeless quality that makes us say old friend.

And so, my dear old friend, trusty Vehicle of metaphor and teetering two-wheeled metaphysics, let’s stop toting groceries. Let’s stop riding the road mapped out already by other riders’ requirements.

We say how we want to take to the open road. Our own opening road. What better time than now. 


For the sake of bounds and seasons.


Only so many days in a given, unleaping year.


For the freedom within limits which we lose when we leap over.


Only this many words' worth measured out for each post this next moon-cycle.

To see how far 365 can go.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

love letter

Dear Oregon,

I rather thought this might be a longer letter:  coming over the rise into the first town this side of the state border my heart just swelled a bit inside my breast.  Which makes it sound as if it were your beauty that I love.  But frankly, that first little town of yours looks just like the little towns the other side of the border.  And frankly, I hadn't even noticed we'd crossed over.

But then we pulled in for gas and Fritz stayed in the car.  For which I love you, Oregon. That here we must speak to other human beings even when we drive the freeway. 

And that the pump attendant said, "Hey, my wife's reading that book.  She disappeared into it for like four hours and wouldn't hardly talk to me.  She said it's good."

And I said, "It is."  Because it is.  (It being The Help - very readable,  if a bit thin in characterization.)  For which I also love you, Oregon.  That bookly discussions sprout up everywhere within your green boundaries. 

And then that Fritz and Pump Attendant fell into enthusiastic talk of bikes (because, no doubt, of all the bikes piled up on back - and for which I also love you, that bikely enthusiasm also sprouts up everywhere) while I went into the grocery store for (yes!) ripe nectarines and lovely local plums, passing people in the aisles chatting openly and at their ease with each other and looking up at me to smile as I went past. And not like sneeringly, or with weary patience, but like, Hey! how ya doin'?  even if we are strangers to each other. Oregon strangers.  Friends we just haven't met yet.

And since I must be true to you, it's a pretty good thing, dear Oregon, that you reminded me so early on what I love about you, because what's the deal with all the miles of smoky air from lightning fires all the rest of the way to Portland?  All that burning at the back of the throat and turning the river views all lurid and apocalyptic and even making it hard to see the great white windmills all up and down the river gorge as the guardian archangels that they are.

And that on top of your usual August dryness so brown and crispy everywhere, which of all your seasons, I have to tell you, I like the least. 

Not to mention the more particular and personal subsequent slights, including whatever part you played in the digging up of my long-worked-over garden, bulldozed into dust, and the burlapped rosebushes as dead as desert thanks largely to your uncharacteristic 90-degree days.  But which is nothing compared to what was done to the one successful home-improvement joint-project Fritz and I ever worked at side-by-side.  Which I'm trying not to rage over, tracing in memory - because no one can trace it now by foot - that softly curving local basalt rock walkway lined with creeping beach strawberry and green-apple Roman chamomile, which rock walkway Fritz and I slaved over back-breakingly for weeks when we were younger and rather more able, in body and time, torn out now and the rocks piled in a rude heap.  Not to mention how, even more insultingly, Damma's has now stopped making walnut-orange rolls because obviously no one but me and Eldest ever bought any.  Not to mention how half my heart is elsewhere, stuck somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. 

But Oregon, I do love you for your pinky-purple fireweed along the roadside.  

So maybe if you could just send a little rain -  though not too much, please, i.e., dust to mucky mud - to make me feel I really have come home?

Ever Yours - even half-unwillingly,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

this was once your life

Do you remember?

The fairgrounds and the smell of cotton candy? Watching them set up the rides?  And the horses riding around the ring?  And here, further on, do you remember the barn that once stood here at the corner?  Do you remember how it collapsed over many years ? How you remarked each time we went past how much further it had fallen and took pictures of it and even wrote about its disappearance back in grade school?

Do you even remember grade school?  The kindergarten teachers who stood at the door and shook hands with each child coming through the door?  And the playground, that old site of battles and negotiations? 

The tree with the magic door?  The fence where you rallied your troops to take back the climbing set?  The swings where so many friendships began?  so many friendships ended?

And the oldest tree in town?  Remember?

In the last years of your childhood you still knew how to figure out its height with a tape and a straw and a protractor. 

Ten years from now, will you still remember how? Will you still remember this day when we all biked around for a last good-bye to all the sights of town?  And the taste of green walnuts? And hoping after the fact that green walnuts aren't actually poison?  

If you're alive to still wonder, you'll know that they aren't.

What will you remember from all these years that you once lived in and lived through?

We took you to feed the ducks, do you remember?  And the way the ducks would gather below Edith's Beauty Shop with its flower boxes and its bright red roof and its ancient proprietress?  Will you remember this road you've walked along, ridden along, driven along, stood beside, so many uncountable, irretrievable days in so many kinds of weather?

All this was once part of your life.

Wherever you go it will go with you.

You may not remember how I watched you trying on your new life like sunglasses at the pharmacy.  Trying out what will wear on you best through the years that have now begun.

I hope you find a good fit.  That you remember to have fun.  That you often have something to laugh about


and friends to walk beside you when you have to go in and fix whatever's broken.  For you will, you know, have plenty of broken to contend with.

But even when it's not fun, when nothing fits, when you have to walk in alone, I hope you remember -

Even when you're alone, you aren't alone. 

Even when you're scared, you can stand up for, you can stand up against.  You can always stand up. 

Even when you're weak, you can strengthen weary hands that hang down.

I hope you remember even when some may try to shut you out, you have it in you to make wider circles, big enough to draw them in.  I hope you remember what matters, what lasts, how to keep reaching.  

Now as you stretch away, seeking your share of sunlight, just don't forget how deep your roots are.

Where your heartground is. 

How to come home no matter how far you travel.

Let there be somewhere in your busy, buzzing life a quiet place where you can remember what your life once was,

the small and almost forgotten joys your past has passed through.

How success was so often made of fresh air and patience and perseverance.

How play lightened what had to be done, no matter how drudgeworthy the duty.

Try to remember, even when everything everyone is telling you sounds a little cheesy, a little corny, a little over done

even when your view is blocked by facades and fakery --

remember to open your eyes and see what marvelous chances are open to you.  More than at any earlier time in history your voice can be heard, your choices can make changes.

 Our future lies in your good hands.

I believe you will always, eventually,  find others whose companionship will make any task less a task,

who will walk the good path with you.

But in all your hurry to get where you're going,

don't forget you already carry with you a map made of all the places you've already been.

That you already know how to work your way around obstacles.

That you may be overlooking hidden strengths standing right beside you

That no matter how far apart we are, you have love always right behind you.  And ahead of you.  And around on every side.

Don't forget that.

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