Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lady of the Manor

In the novels read in my adolescence and various PBS/BBC productions viewed now, the lady of the manor spends her mornings maintaining correspondence and planning menus (while the household staff does the grungy stuff). 

How civilized and somehow effete and, I thought, archaic. 

But how archaic? It’s now almost 10 a.m. and I have accomplished nothing except to catch up with email and Facebook (and I’d catch up with Twitter and Linked-In if I could remember how to do that). Plus check my bank balance and pay bills.

Times change. And don’t. We still maintain connections – one way or another – because we need them. Our current versions are not as elegant, nor as profound, as our predecessors and it is highly unlikely that our messages will ever be collected in published volumes to reveal to posterity the depth – or shallowness – of lives in the twenty-first century. 

 Still, it is now past 10 a.m. and well past time for me to write the essays I had planned.

But there are significant differences:  no one has done anything about the grungy stuff. (Or planned a single menu.)

Ah well.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pots of Gold

Across the street, kids of various ages are playing in the early spring sunshine. Every single one of them is wearing something green. Sure and it’s St. Patrick’s Day. 

I’m wearing green too, sitting at my computer looking out because I’m still dealing with an apparently invincible virus. Sitting at my computer and doing basic cat chores is the extent of my activity between reading and resting. All of my muscles will atrophy if I don’t get better. Tomorrow will be my back-to-health day. It must. 

Yesterday I sent an e-card to my two sons, wishing them the luck of the Irish and all peoples, and a pot of gold. 

This, in honor of the Irish and St. Patrick and my two sons, is designed to define what I mean by a pot of gold. It is, in my metaphor, that which we create by following our individual rainbows. My rainbow is writing. So far, it has yielded one book (and lots of shorter works) and is on its way to a second (now being edited) and I have the stirrings of an idea for another. One of my sons is always following rainbows, creating poetry and songs and films and art of every beyond-my-imagining kind. My other son is still figuring out where his rainbow will lead him. It will be, when discovered, a mirror of his own worth. 

That’s what the gold does. It reflects our true selves, in one way or another. And every single one of us has some kind of treasure. 

And if this doesn’t make complete sense, then blame it on the virus. And have a wonderful St. Patty’s Day.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Weekend to Remember

There will be two memorial services this weekend – one in Denver, Colorado, and another in Oak Park, Illinois. Two extraordinary people will be remembered and honored by those who loved them. The Denver service will be for Nancy Missbach. The Oak Park service will be for Tom Dunnington.

Nancy was one of the daughters of one of my great mentors and friends, Marilla. I knew Nancy only tangentially but knew her to be amazing. Once, decades ago, I visited the studio where she created paper and books. I remember being impressed by the beauty of what she was doing but wondering how anyone would ever dare sully any of the journals by writing in them. More vividly, I remember her bringing her little boy, Chance, to the Thanksgiving celebration some of us created for her mom on one of her mom’s last days. Marilla was propped up on a hospital bed in her dining room. I think Nancy’s sister, Leah, made the turkey. I, along with others, made the rest of the feast. Nancy and Chance arrived late, a little snowy, but filling the house with their zest and energy and filling our hearts with joy. Marilla’s face glowed with gladness. That was enough for me. That was why we were there. Later, after I organized the memorial service for Marilla, Nancy and Leah gave me a small reproduction of the Uffington White Horse, an absolutely perfect reminder of the love of England and prehistory that I shared with their mom. It still has an honored place in my home, and heart. After that, I lost touch until Leah initiated a cyber connection describing Nancy’s long, courageous fight for life. I saw pictures of her delivering World Bicycle Relief bicycles in African villages, and, later, pictures of her in hospitals – surrounded by love. Now Leah and, I am sure, hundreds of others will gather to honor a life well lived. I send them love.

 Tom was once my Abraham Lincoln figure -- tall and lanky and deeply spiritual. I first encountered him when I began going to Oak Park’s Unity Temple about a year after my divorce. I knew him to be an artist and, briefly, fantasized about a mutual attraction. That fantasy dissolved, with no regrets, when he and one of my best friends formed what turned out to be a profound and lasting liaison. Their journey, their service to high school kids and their congregation, and their mutually supporting spiritual explorations and teachings were far, far more than I could ever have dreamed. As was their love. And I loved him because he loved Carol and extricated her from bitterness engendered by great difficulties and brought her into joy. They were a team. Together they created beauty – where they lived, how they lived, and in what they created. When Tom began to leave this world, Carol sustained him, singing him to wherever it is we go. And she will always be stronger and deeper and more loving because of the love they shared. Shazaam. If all the people who were enriched by Tom’s existence come to the Saturday service, the historic Unitarian Universalist structure will bulge. Frank Lloyd Wright could not have anticipated crowds of such magnitude – or a life so worthy.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Still Sick

It’s just a cold – admittedly a bad cold, and it’s still here after almost two weeks. 

 I finally consulted a health professional and am actually following her instructions -- taking pills and herbs and drinking gallons of liquids. 

Things are getting better. I don’t cough so much. I don’t blow my nose so often. 

 I have food and tea (and brandy) and Kleenex and toilet paper so survival is assured. Plus, I have DVDs and an upstairs book and a downstairs book so I can comply with orders for resting. 

AND I have two attendant felines who are monitoring my condition carefully. 

When I lie down, the cats come and cuddle. 

When I sit to watch television or read, they come sit with me. Sometimes they take turns. 

 When I’m feeling a little perkier, they play, chasing a fluffy ball or a plastic wand with feathers. 

 Plus they do funny things or groom each other or curl up in a furry yin yang – and make me smile. It makes it harder to feel sorry for myself. 

 That’s a good thing. And I’m grateful. 

 Soon, I hope, I’ll even be healthy.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Colds, when they come, are supposed to make you miserable.

The one I (still) have is overdoing it. Excessive. Apparently perpetual. Completely messing up me and my plans.

 It’s confusing my cats, who don’t understand the strange new noises I’m making. [Cats rarely cough and do not, I believe, blow their noses.]

 Plus, I’m boring. Always sitting around or lying down. Barely able to tend to basic chores. [Fortunately for all of us, I can still feed the felines.]

 And sitting around or lying down is boring to me, not just the cats. But reading makes my eyes water (as does working at the computer). And television numbs my already numb neurons. And moving, in almost any direction, makes me cough. Yuck.

 I know that there are millions, yea, billions of people who are having harder time right now. People in war zones, dealing with death and other unfathomable losses, but I cannot wander far from the Kleenex nor extend empathy further than my own perimeter.

Colds do that to you. Perhaps that is their most evil side effect. You tend to drown in your own small misery oblivious to reason, or beauty or joy. Or the needs of others.

 So I most sincerely – on behalf of my nose and the entire rest of the world – wish me health. Soon.