Tuesday, September 12, 2017

inflated greetings

On arrival at my home, the birthday balloon sat in the kitchen, tied to the wrist of a small teddy bear. It soon escaped and, for a week, bounced around the kitchen ceiling, greeting me from a different angle each morning. Making me smile. 

Somehow it wandered into the living room in time to subtly greet my guests on the first day of September.

When I came downstairs on Sept. 2, I couldn’t see the balloon. It couldn’t have just disintegrated, could it? No. Later, I was sitting where one sits in the upstairs bathroom. Something peeked from the stall shower. Guess what? 


After that, it wandered into the study. Then mysteriously, it was gone again; this time into my bedroom, eventually settling in the bedroom window.

My cat Herbie sometimes noticed our visitor. Once, the balloon bounced around in front of him trailing a small piece of white ribbon. He swiped at it a couple of times but gave up when the balloon floated up toward the ceiling. [Herbie is an old cat.] 



For a while, the balloon hovered near the floor and I thought it was on its last non-legs. But it has been a month! It is still sort of viable. It cannot last much longer but it has been a good friend. And a great present.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Eclipse Notes

  I was sick --ironically because I had winnowed a grove of sunflowers on Sunday, August 20. Sunflower detritus irritated my pores and that night I was unable to sleep more than a couple hours of slightly tormented exhaustion.

I had special glasses to watch the eclipse. They are still safely in a drawer.
The time for the phenomenon came but I was spent.

Stumbling through some necessary chores, I walked out to my front porch. Looking down while the rest of the country was looking up, I saw the most remarkable shadows. I grabbed my smart phone and took some pictures.

The shadows were on the concrete area supporting my planter.

They were on my front sidewalk.

They were on my neighbor’s driveway.


And they were wondrous. When I came back inside, the house had darkened. I had to turn on the kitchen light. Everything was still. The cat who always comes down when I am in the kitchen, stayed upstairs, sleeping.

So I missed the eclipse.

And yet I didn’t.


Shazaam.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Grand Consolation

After I signed all the papers required to buy a home, I discovered that there was a raspberry patch in my new backyard. I’ve always told people that had I known, I would have paid more for the house. 

Every year the patch, now the size of a pickup truck bed and four feet high, produces blooms then berries, which every year I eat before I can harvest enough to make something wonderful with them. 

Not this year. 

Ah, the bushes flourish. And bloom. And produce hundreds of green berries. I monitor their progress, awaiting scarlet fruition. That never comes. What blushes in the morning, disappears by the afternoon. 

One day, entering my yard from the alley garage, I discovered why. As I stepped onto the path, a dozen birds flew out of the raspberries. 

It’s my own fault. I hang birdfeeders and fill bird baths. You would think that would be enough. But when I walk out my back door, as many as six squirrels scurry away. They take the bird seed. The birds take the berries. 

I now buy raspberries at the grocery store and take consolation in the giant blooms of my hibiscus (which neither birds nor squirrels consume). 



Although I am a little worried about the small bunny I saw the other day.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Old Hair

Other than senior discounts and Medicare, one enormous perk of aging is the lack of hairy legs. 

Oh I do occasionally – about once every three or four months – have to harvest the meager crop, scattered sparsely on legs whose veins tend to make them look like maps of the London subway system. 

Still. It’s a perk. 

Hair is a contrary mammalian trait. It seems to grow where we don’t want it and disappear from places where it is fervently desired. 

This is true for both men and women but I will deal only with the aging female here. [And I will not deal with all of the capillary ramifications – like moustaches (which is another dilemma altogether).] 

When I was younger and more smug (smugness seems to be characteristic of youth) I would smirk disparagingly at men who had attempted to disguise a balding pate by combing longer locks over barren skulls. 

No longer. 

My once glorious tresses still exist but, like the earth’s aquifer, are diminished. 

My hair is thinning. 

From the front and the sides, I still look adequately ‘haired’. Not so much from the back. 

Now I too must fluff the remains and try to guide them over my pink, pink scalp. 

I even have some powder I can sprinkle over the too obvious hair barrenness. It helps. 

So beware, oh youth. Avoid smugness and smirks. All too soon, that which you deride will be that with which you must contend.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

No Reverence for Earwigs

There was an earwig in my kitchen sink this morning. 

I turned the faucet on full blast and swooshed the insect down the garbage disposal (which was turned on). As I saw it disappear, I wondered, What would Albert Schweitzer have done? 

I remembered hearing a story about Dr. Schweitzer moving his place setting rather than disturbing the ants parading across the table somewhere in Africa where he was doing great humanitarian things.

I don’t know if that story is true or just an illustration of his philosophy of “Reverence for Life” (for which he was awarded the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize). He wrote: “The laying down of the commandment to not kill and to not damage is one of the greatest events in the spiritual history of mankind.” 

The Wikipedia entry calls him a French-German theologian, organist, writer, humanitarian, philosopher, and physician. 

Whatever else he was, he considered his work as a medical missionary his personal atonement for European colonizers. He wrote: “Oh, this 'noble' culture of ours! It speaks so piously of human dignity and human rights and then disregards this dignity and these rights of countless millions and treads them underfoot, only because they live overseas or because their skins are of different color.” 

I agree with so much of what Dr. Schweitzer wrote and did. 

And yet. 

It was an earwig!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Indelible Memory

It was time for it to come down. A decade ago I taped an odd collage onto the pantry entrance wall. On a piece of black construction paper, now faded, was an obituary for Jean K. Brabandt … and a little prose/poem I had written in response to her death. 

Jean was one of my first buddies in Loveland. We’d get together for lunch or just a cup of tea. Her sense of humor, or rather, her sense of delight, was what drew me to her. Tiny and spunky, she was full of surprises. I visited her little senior living apartment which she had somehow made habitable. When I commented on a lovely watercolor on one wall, she offered to show me others and promptly pulled another half dozen out from under her bed. 

The fact that she was more than 20 years older than I was irrelevant. We both had personal histories in the Chicago area. We both had traveled abroad. We went to the same church. And we loved to laugh together. 

The little prose/poem I wrote was sort of an apology. She had said that her doctor advised her to eat low-salt soup. I found some and was going to call to deliver the cans but time slipped away. Then she slipped away. 

For 10 years, I kept the faded obituary and prose poem as a reminder. The time to reach out to friends is always sooner than later. 

Always.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Solstice Significance

There is a story about a June family gathering to celebrate my father’s birthday. Someone remarked that the date, June 21, was the longest day of the year. 

My paternal grandmother groaned, “Believe me. I know. It was the longest day of my life.” 


Charles Thacker McClure was born June 21, 1915 – 102 years ago. The only photo of him on my computer is when he was a baby on his mother’s lap. 

I have a million images of him in my mind and memory. He was good looking and smart and funny. [All my friends in my college residence would magically appear whenever he happened to visit.] 

However, his humor, often sarcastic, left emotional scars on my psyche and especially, on my brother’s. 

Writing my new book, Family Time, I came to understand where that sarcasm came from. And to forgive it. He filed for divorce from my mother, Roberta Anne Walker McClure (Bobbie) the same year I filed for my divorce. Not a good year. It took me a long time to forgive that. But I did. And that forgiveness enriched both our lives. Forgiveness works that way. 

So. For better and for worse, here’s to you, Dad. Happy Birthday.