Thursday, August 16, 2018

Family-Rich Weekend

Rarely, rarely, rarely have I had such a family-rich weekend/birthday. 

My grandson and his parents returned from camping to fill my house with energy and laughter. And they stayed for my birthday and even brought presents. 


Then my nephew and his family came – my grandniece and grandson delighting each other and all of the grown-ups. And they brought presents. 



Then my brother came and melded into us as if we had never separated. And he brought a present. 

And I received calls and/or texts from my older son and other nephew and my other grandniece. Plus lots of wonderful birthday cards. And Facebook notifications. 

The house is quieter now and everything is pretty much put back together. [Put-back-together houses are over-rated.] 

Some might worry that the house might feel a little empty and sad. But it doesn’t. All the laughter and love reverberated into the walls and floors and lodged permanently into my being. 

I am replete.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Continuing Education

On a recent morning, there was, miraculously, an amusing comic strip in my morning paper. [I always start with that section hoping to find a little humor amid the newsprint largely devoted to disasters of one kind or another.] 

In the strip in question, one lump of a man was commenting on the predicament of another lump of a man about to fall on a banana peel. He said: “For Ernie, learning from his mistakes is a form of continuing education.” 

For Mim too. When I learn. Too often, I repeat the same unproductive patterns. Too much television. Too many computer games. Too much to eat. Duh. 

Occasionally, I break out of what Thich Nhat Hahn calls ‘habit energy’ and revel in productivity and/or spontaneity. And it always feels terrific. I am energized by taking a detour up into the mountains or actually writing a new post for my blog. 

Sometimes ‘continuing education’ feels like tripping on a banana peel. But at least I am moving. And learning. 

You can learn a lot from the comics section.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

DETOURS


I have not memorized the ISBN numbers for either of my books. I needed to provide them to the proprietor of the great little store where my writers group is staging an event in a few days. I had a copy of Family Time in my study so that was easy. Oddly, I had no copies of my first book Tree Lines (A Memoir) upstairs.


So I went downstairs to my great cache of unsold books and found Tree Lines. I made the mistake of opening it. I read one chapter then grew curious about others (it’s not that I didn’t know what happened, it was just good stuff). 

About an hour later I realized that I still needed to take it upstairs and record its ISBN.

Before that, I felt I should drink the tea I had prepared to counter the allergic head congestion that is driving me crazy.

As I sat down to drink, I pulled out a section of the New York Times. Why I picked the business section, I don’t know. There was a fascinating article about a Navajo Nation proposal to buy Remington, one of this country’s largest gun manufacturers. The Navajo planned to shift Remington away from consumer sales and focus on police and defense contracts. The only guns they planned to sell to consumers were long guns used by hunters. As a bonus, the tribe intended to shift part of the manufacturing process to the reservation, providing needed employment. But the proposal was rejected.

Wow.

I looked at the clock. It was time for lunch. I would record the ISBN later.



Monday, June 25, 2018

The Last Straws

When I was a child and had spent most of a day doing things I should not have done, my mother’s patience would finally wear out. Exasperated, she would shout: “That’s the last straw!” And formidable retribution would engulf me and whatever messes I had made. 

There are so many messes in this country right now. So many things in jeopardy: national parks, women, public television, public schools, oceans, rivers, forests, unions, allies, national honor, even the air we breathe. 

But for many, separating immigrant children and parents was the last straw. 

 It was for me. I’ve signed dozens of online petitions. Voted carefully. And complained vocally. But, finally, this week I will participate in public demonstrations against our country’s abominable immigration laws. 

All of them. 

It is time for last straws – whatever yours might be. 

Recently I learned that plastic straws are a major source of pollution. Americans use 500,000,000 plastic straws (five hundred million!) every day. If this does not end, by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. 

So now. Right now. It is time to acknowledge the last straws. 

In the policies of our country’s government. 

 And in our milkshakes.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Summer Whites

Days are getting warmer. 

Today I found a stash of white slacks that I had tucked away when days were getting cooler. Their time has come. They reminded me of a minor incident that, at some level, still rankles. 

It was September (about 50 years ago). I was visiting my parents who were hosting an evening of bridge for their friends. That summer I had found the most (I thought) stunning white dress that was both casual and chic. When I came downstairs to help prepare for the festivities, my mother exclaimed: “You can’t wear that!” 

 “Why on earth not,” I wondered aloud.

 “Because it’s after Labor Day.” 

 “What’s that got to do with it?” 

 “People should not wear white dresses after Labor Day.” 

 “That’s silly. It’s a nice dress and I feel comfortable in it.” 

 “No. It will not do. One of my friends gave you a lovely green wool dress. Wear that.” 

 “But it’s too warm and I don’t really like it.” 

 My mother had an expression-- cold eyes and slightly pursed lips – that was the equivalent of Moses descending from Mount Sinai. 

She became ‘she who must be obeyed.’ So I did. 

But I still think rules like that are silly. If it wasn’t going to be so hot tomorrow, I’d find some green wool thing to wear … even though it’s after Memorial Day.
🌞

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Middelburg Memory

Because I was having ‘mobility issues’, I separated from the rest of the group and went into Middelburg (the Netherlands) on my own. I wanted to see Middelburg’s ‘Abdij abbey complex’ and had a map indicating that getting there would be easy. 

I wandered the town square, enjoying the bustle of a little flea market and admiring the city’s magnificent town hall. It was raining but I had waterproof gear and was content, if hungry. A restaurant on the square had a table where I could eat and watch the town’s activities. 
Sated, I walked the few blocks to the complex—dating back to the 12th century. There were two places of worship now connected by what we would call a social hall (where coffee could be served).
The lovely interiors included the oldest altar piece in the Netherlands. 
Eventually, I opened a heavy wood door to enter a corridor enclosing a garden of hedges and other plants. To the left, a barrier prohibited entry into part of the cloister. To the right, interesting sounds echoed off the ancient stone walls. 
I walked around the corner to discover a group of high school aged kids practicing movement and song. After a while, they were still and silent as a slim young woman began singing “We’ll Meet Again” in crystalline soprano. 
It was magic. 
Noting my interest, an adult leader explained that they were practicing for a World War II memorial event to be held in Middelburg in a few days. I was invited but my tour would have moved on by then. 

I have no regrets. The poignant song resonating through so many layers of history is permanently lodged in my heart.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

TULIP SHADOWS


There’s a reason Holland is practically synonymous with tulips. These flowers thrive in that country’s soggy land and climate. And they are spectacular. 


On tulip farms and at the rightly world famous Keukenhof Gardens, the Netherlands is resplendent with tulips of every shade and configuration.


At Keukenhof, three million tulip (and other) bulbs are planted each year for a spectacle that is open to the public for only eight weeks.


 But everything seems to have a shadow side. My tour visited a tulip farm. Unable to walk with my fellows into the fields, I lingered behind. When I asked my guide about these buildings, she revealed they were housing for the ‘seasonal workers’ – usually from Poland – who helped harvest the bulbs for processing and shipment. Migrant workers are apparently treated the same the world over.



I can only hope some of the beauty seeped into their souls and gladdened their hearts.