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09/01 Direct Link
“Hey,” I said.
“Hi. You didn’t leave.”
“I told you I wouldn’t leave you,” I said. “So, how do you feel?” I asked.
“A little weak,” he answered.
“Understandable,” I said. “You just took a hit, as they say.”
“I’m sorry I wasn’t much help,” he said. “He got your purse, didn’t he?”
“Yeah. He got my purse. Look, I’m just sorry you got hurt. That guy came at us so fast, there was nothing you could have done.”
“No I guess not.”
“I didn’t know what to do.”
“I know.”
“I’m really glad you had a cell phone.”
“Yeah.”
09/02 Direct Link
Even though I didn’t ask her, the nurse brought me a warm blanket and a pillow. I realized she had it right: I wasn’t leaving. The thought of going home alone after what had just happened was too scary. I decided I’d wait until morning to face the world outside again. I laid the contents of my wallet out on the heating unit to dry and curled up in the chair. Some part of me was tied to this man now, this man I hardly knew yet knew so well. Ellie’s party seemed like a scene out of another life.
09/03 Direct Link
“Thank you for staying with me and calling for help,” he said.
“You’re totally welcome. Are you kidding? Of course.”
“Guess I’ll walk you home another time.”
“Yeah. Is that a promise?”
“Yeah.”
“Okay.”
He got quiet then and closed his eyes, so I sat down in the room. Sleep overtook me like a tidal wave the instant I sat down. I dreamed about swinging in the park as a little kid, and it felt like I was flying. When I woke up, he was sleeping soundly. My watch said 2:00 a.m. The nurse came in to check on Rand.
09/04 Direct Link
Even though I didn’t ask her, the nurse brought me a warm blanket and a pillow. I realized she had it right: I wasn’t leaving. The thought of going home alone after what had just happened was too scary. I decided I’d wait until morning to face the world outside again. I laid the contents of my wallet out on the heating unit to dry and curled up in the chair. Some part of me was tied to this man now, this man I hardly knew yet knew so well. Ellie’s party seemed like a scene out of another life.
09/05 Direct Link
Being without a computer is like being without a cell phone. These days both are necessities. It's not that life can't go on without them, but it stops hopping along at its usual spritely clip, and slows to a crawl. Three days ago, I took my computer into the shop to have it looked at, and three days later I got it back virtually unchanged. It has lost its speed, and apparently there is no way to get it back. So I slog along, waiting for the kilibytes to align in cyberspace and take me where I want to go.
09/06 Direct Link
There's a part of me that doesn't want to take on any big projects, a part of me that doesn't believe life will go on long enough to finish. It's all because of the dream I had while we were visiting Bisbee, Arizona. That is a place full of death and ghosts. I dreamed they whispered to me that I wouldn't be alive long, that I would be joining them soon. The dream has haunted me ever since. But I have a book to write. It's a book that will upset people and probably be banned from polite society. Yes!
09/07 Direct Link
The dog kept pulling to get away. I struggled to control her, sweat beading up on my forehead. Sitting at the county fair, “adopt me” sign on her back, she was getting agitated. A nonstop stream of petters moved past. After a while, she started to growl, low and deep. I was afraid for the kids. Again and again her ears went back, she’d start panting heavy and I knew a growl was coming soon. I whispered in her ear, “If you want to make it through this alive, you have to calm down girl,” but she didn’t get it.
09/08 Direct Link
Already the Sycamore is dropping its leaves on the deck. My heart sinks when I see it. The Asters and the roses are still blooming, but the purple coneflowers are starting to droop. Soon the Aspens will turn golden and so will the needles on the Tamaracks and Western Larches, all of them yellow before they fall. Already the grass has stopped growing so fast and the night’s coolness is crisp. The chill, as they say, is on the air. Autumn rolls in and summer is all but done. Although I love this season, I dread the cold to come.
09/09 Direct Link
We stopped at the top of the pass, to breathe high mountain air and take in the view. Mountaintops hung with glaciers made a stark horizon, and big firs carved a frame. That blue bird hung above my head and hollered, demanding food. Sunlight flashed like a flag on its blue back. It jumped and fluttered from branch to branch. It got our attention all right. Richard went back to the car to get it some bread. Jays always manage to get fed. They steal from the other birds, littler than them, or raid your picnic basket. “Brave,” I said.
09/10 Direct Link
What you pay attention to is key to what you see and ultimately what you know. Next important is how you pay attention. Over-specializing is a mistake, like taking a cutoff that dead ends…it may dead end on a mountain top, but it dead ends just the same. My personal preference is toward variety, trying several approaches in a lifetime. For me it’s a great opportunity to live in an age of extended life expectancy. I can see my life as separate attempts, my youth and young adulthood, middle years and now my later years with clear beginnings and ends.
09/11 Direct Link
The easiest thing to avoid is responsibility. In a culture of excuses, “The devil made me do it” is a bumper sticker, and points to the utter absence of reality with respect to taking responsibility for our actions. The fact this is a funny bumper sticker reveals the truth of our underlying disconnect with accountability. We don’t know why we do things and are confused about even the simplest of our decisions. “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” is often the response when you ask someone why they did something. “I don’t know” is just as likely.
09/12 Direct Link
Knocking mold off the roof, or cutting down trees, Richard is hardly ever inside the house. Winter or summer, in shorts, sandals and t-shirt, he's outside. His skin where it's exposed to the sun is the color of almonds, the wrinkles around his eyes betraying paler-colored skin. His eyes are green like Aspen leaves and his wild wiry hair is almost white. Gravity has taken hold of his muscles at 71 years young. He still has a challenge or two to face. If he comes into the house, he's probably hungry or tired. Or he's bringing in wood.
09/13 Direct Link
The last four roses of the year are all opened wide and full. The intoxicating smell goes to my head. I bury my nose in the petals and inhale deeply. The red vase catches daylight and gleams. The precious green stems lean against the rim. Graceful leaves reach like tiny hands. The edges of the petals start to curl, black shows up at the tips and I know it will be mere hours before the petals start to fall, leaves to brown. The precious aroma will fade. Outside cold air will settle in. Ice will form in the morning dew.
09/14 Direct Link
The wood needed to be moved. We put on our heavy gloves and stacked it from where it's been to where it needs to be. We worked hard to get it all moved, but wait, down under it all a hive of bumble bees have hived up for the winter. In a panic, they swarmed out trying to sort out what had happened. Little furry black bugs with long legs and yellow stripes. We backed away not wanting to get stung. But we had uncovered their hiding place and exposed them to the elements. Hurriedly, we built a box around them.
09/15 Direct Link
I'm married to a recovering Southern Baptist. I say recovering because he isn't over it yet. He still gets the heebie jeebies when you mention anything remotely resembling religious involement. For example, I have a friend who recently resigned his position as minister at the local Unitarian-Universalist Church, and has started his own church. He calls it Radical Grace Ministries. After reading his blog, I decided to attend one of his "deep chats" this week. Poor Richard. His immediate reaction was alarm at the possibility that I might join this congregation. But I'm just shopping for a spiritual home.
09/16 Direct Link
I flew from New York to Los Angeles one time, and we left just as the sun was ready to set. As we flew west, the sun set in state after state, all the way to the west coast. It was the longest sunset I had ever seen. It made me realize it is always sunset somewhere. And if that is true, then it is always daybreak somewhere too. Sunset and daybreak, two constants in this world. If we moved fast enough, we could do dawn forever, or dusk, any time of day, high noon if that turns you on.
09/17 Direct Link
And now it yields too much in my hands, rises up too thin and starts to wobble. My fingers can feel it slide between them, slide and glide. So ready to be molded and modeled and shaped. This clay is soft and red, smooth as silk to the touch. It gives too readily. My touch is too heavy. I miss the resistance the white clay provides, something to fight against. I’m applying too much pressure. It’s too easy. It comes away from the wheel like a too-anxious lover. I try to let off. It gives way. Pretty soon, it falls.
09/18 Direct Link
Yesterday, I was at the local poetry meeting. Among others, Keith and Gina and John were there, three Brits who live in Spokane. All three are well-educated and speak with such easy authority about history and current events that I was speechless with awe. I realized that I admire not only knowledge, by itself mere information, but more the ability to apply that knowledge to current affairs in a way that makes sense of the world. Although their accents sometimes get in the way for me when listening, I was able to follow most of what these three were saying.
09/19 Direct Link
He came to me in a dream, unlike any dream I’d ever had. He drove up to the curb and reached back, opened the cab door. I got in. He drove. There was a sweatshirt on the seat. I understood I was to change my shirt and I put it on. I was so happy to see him. “Not that. Take care of this,” he said pointing to the empty passenger seat. I understood he was talking about his wife, still living and alone. Later, I visited her. “He’s waiting for you,” I said. “I wondered about that,” she said.
09/20 Direct Link
We were deep inside Carlsbad Caverns, far past the section where bats live, deep in the earth. Cool and quiet the huge cavern winds downward into the stone. Stalactites and stalagmites of all types and shapes and colors surround you, climbing along rough stone stairways with your flashlight in hand. Down at the bottom, in a large room like the inside of a cathedral, the tourguide has you all line up along the wall. Then all together, everyone turns off their flashlights. Utter dark, deep and imposing. It backs you up. It takes your breath away. It made me weep.
09/21 Direct Link
Before she came, I was utterly and irretrievably alone. There were people around me, people even who loved me. Yet there was only me, an individual, solitary. One person, one alone, an island in the stream of life. I touched but I didn’t belong. I saw but I didn’t believe. I heard but I didn’t connect. I sang but it wasn’t in tune. After she came, I felt whole and complete. If felt like I could be in the world, like I was part of the world. There was no longer anything missing in my life. I was a mother.
09/22 Direct Link
They brought her to me in the recovery room. She was still wet and sticky, brand new. The nurse handed the baby, wrapped in a blanket, to my husband, who leaned over and laid her in my arms. I was surprised to be awake so soon after surgery. As he leaned over to give her to me, she picked up her head and listened to my voice saying, “Give her to me.” Once she was in my arms, she strained to find my breast. She drank deeply and then slept in my arms. It was good to be together again.
09/23 Direct Link
How could she be gone? I felt something ripping at my middle, pulling me in two. It simply couldn’t be. But there it was, a coffin, set down in the aisle in front of the altar. The boy in the long robes waved the incense burner back and forth. The other boy held a large candle. The flame wavered and flickered, but it stayed lit. The priest chanted in Latin while the organ played behind us and above all the red light that symbolized God’s presence glowed like a broken heart. I fell to my knees. Yes, she was gone.
09/24 Direct Link
I dreamed the burning house, heard them talking about him, the crazy old man who wouldn’t come out, my grandfather. Lights from the fire trucks, swirling smoke, people in bathrobes huddled together on the street. I went inside. He was there at the kitchen table, calling “Rosie. Rosie.” “Grandma’s gone,” I said, “you have to come with me now.” “Just leave me here,” he said. “You haven’t met my daughter,” I said. “Oh,” he said taking my hand and getting up from the table, “she’s my seventeenth.” The next day my father called. “Grandpa almost died last night,” he said.
09/25 Direct Link
We tried to stay away, to give them time to adjust to the enormity of it. After all, it was their first. They waited a long time, they were used to their freedom. This new life changed everything. But there were no picture phones then. There was no email to send pictures to us. I fretted for three days, pacing like a mother cat, breathing in a low down troubled way. My muscles twitched and rippled. I couldn’t stay away any longer. On Saturday I called and got the tickets. “We’re going,” I said. “I have to hold that baby.”
09/26 Direct Link
I dreamed the burning house, heard them talking about him, the crazy old man who wouldn’t come out, my grandfather. Lights from the fire trucks, swirling smoke, people in bathrobes huddled together on the street. I went inside. He was there at the kitchen table, calling “Rosie. Rosie.” “Grandma’s gone,” I said, “you have to come with me now.” “Just leave me here,” he said. “You haven’t met my daughter,” I said. “Oh,” he said taking my hand and getting up from the table, “she’s my seventeenth.” The next day my father called. “Grandpa almost died last night,” he said.
09/27 Direct Link
I was sitting in my wheelchair. A dozen girls in wheelchairs, we made a circle of chairs in the middle of the ward. The doctor asked one of the girls to show us how she had learned to walk on crutches. The girl got up and took hold of her crutches. She clopped back and forth on the sticks, her legs moving rhythmically under her. The sticks swung forward in turns. “She is going home today,” he said. “If you work really hard and do really well, you can go home, too” the doctor said. I made up my mind.
09/28 Direct Link
How is it possible in the United States to see three great movies in a row, all American films? My mind is literally blown by this recent experience. First "Burn After Reading" turned out to be a laugh out loud comedy. Then "A Righteous Kill" proved to be a riveting drama of unsurpassed acting. And now, the new Spike Lee film "Miracle At St. Anna" turns out to be a deeply moving and inspired drama about Buffalo Soldiers in World War Two. The American film industry has trained me for decades to expect little. Yet suddenly there is a bounty. Bravo!
09/29 Direct Link
I went shopping today for my “costume” for “Our Town”. The costume consists of a simple black blouse and a simple black skirt. Only the accessories change from scene to scene. So in the first act, Emily is wearing a polka dot scarf and a polka dot headband. In the second act, when she gets married, she is wearing a lace shawl and white flower headband. In the third act, where she is buried, she is wearing a black and white shawl and no headband. Each character in the production has accumulated such small accessories to accent their black attire.
09/30 Direct Link
I told him to pull them out when they were little twigs, just “volunteers” sprouting up on their own in the yard, along the fence and beside the shed. But Richard couldn’t kill them. “They’re alive,” he said with that look on his face that said he had decided that little trees have souls. This is the same man who catches and releases spiders that wander into the house. As far as humanly possible, he kills nothing. So the little sprouts grew and grew, and because they are “volunteers” aka “weeds” they grew like weeds will do, fast and large.