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Failure doesn’t exist. It’s only a change of direction. (Alejandro Jodorowsky)

Oops! One smudge of cake batter on my pinky. And it tastes horrid. The mixture is missing…sugar! The surprise cake is for someone I love. However, this concoction would work better as an eviction notice for squirrels damaging the attic.

My creation. Saved in time.

An ice cream center, yes! A great idea. Until the freezer door is left partially open. The chocolate cake is lovely. But it looks like it was lined with pale pond scum.

My sweet guest isn’t in the mood for cake anyway. Then, she admits ice cream has been bothering her belly. I guess I need to change direction.

Amazing what sweetness can do. Depending upon what kind it is. Fortunately, in everyday life, flavor and savor don’t need to contain calories.  Amiability does require intention.

This time I am lucky. My guest and I haven’t seen one another for months. She settles in as if she were here yesterday. And the day previous.

“Help yourself,” I say. She puts hot sauce on her spaghetti. I smile but don’t try it.

Life doesn’t have much to do with my expectations. How much I adjust is another matter.

 

 

It is never too late to be who you might have been. (George Eliot)

In my little-kid mind, perfect was how everyone started out. Everything fit a neat category called a rule or commandment. Unfortunately, rules declared their boundaries after they were crossed.  

“Be back in a minute. I have to pee,” I said one ordinary day after I learned the new word from a friend. We referred to the body function as tinkling. Mom’s screaming sounded as desperate as it had when I built a fire in the basement. I was five on that unfortunate day. My brothers and I had wanted to play campfire. I had found logs and planned to put the fire out. Eventually.

Everyday bathroom trips didn’t seem as awful as burning the house down.

As Mom yelled, I discovered her disdain centered around a crude difference in terminology. Nevertheless, I understood that both tinkle and pee had the same smell. I was wise enough not to argue the point.

Sure. Someday I would become an adult. The way a caterpillar morphs into a butterfly. As a six-or-seven-year-old kid, I suspected a rock could turn into a cloud before my heart and body had the slightest notion about adulthood.

Fortunately, I did grow up. But not in the straight-line, foolproof increments Mom expected. She did her best. I did too. Most of the time.

And I learned that growing up doesn’t need to be completed at a certain age. Finished adulthood sounds both static and boring. In fact, the longer I understand what it is like to be a child, the better I feel about every part of being alive.

Peace and happy growing to everyone, even if you are in the septuagenarian range like I am. Or older.

 

 

In my dreams, I never have an age. (Madeleine L’Engle)

A framed photograph dusted now and then.

The image never changes. One dresser

dragged through locations and years.

 

Scratched, worn. I am part of both experiences.

My bedroom mirror and 1971 wedding picture

affirm long-gone years.

 

Not different women. I rise from a dream

and recall fragments of sunlit forest.

Ageless spirit sees through a body’s eyes.

 

Reality may make harsh demands.

Yet, when a spirit dreams and recognizes its

power, it has an ageless vision.

 

 

Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it. (Salvador Dali)

Miracles come in uncanny forms. I experienced one in between ice storms when February’s less subtle moods moved in on Thursday.

Sure, I realize a mask and my hearing aids have a tangled relationship. I know to pull the string as far out as possible before removing any face covering. However, my uncut, haven’t-been-to-the-salon, hair gets in the way. So does impatience.

Inside the comfort of my warm abode, I didn’t notice one aid didn’t make it into the house. Not right away. When I did, panic took over my brain. Panic is like setting fire to a dark house when lighting a candle will do.  

A room-to-room search yielded nothing. The gasp-at-the-cost item wasn’t there. I found my hearing aid on the street, next to my car door. The next morning. A fresh, round battery and tiny, white filter brought life back into the aid. Probably, something akin to device-CPR.

My sense of humor is back. Sun casts strong shadows on an imperfect world. I walk into it. And recognize the chill. More alert now. Oh, I doubt I’ll stay aware every moment for the rest of my life. But I hope I can forgive myself a tad quicker the next time imperfection visits my day.

I feel a very unusual sensation—if it is not indigestion, I think it must be gratitude. (Benjamin Disraeli) 

Darkness.

Because the electricity is out again. And I am accustomed to flipping a switch and accepting light. As my own right. Without any awareness of entitlement.

Darkness.

It can be a gift or a curse. Deepened colors reveal dimension in a painting. Shade provides relief from the bright sun. Or darkness can mean hatred without reason, an ignorance of color or shade.

Darkness

can be found in a moment or it can be stuck inside a locked mental space. It can be a fear, based on the past, or a fear, set on immediate danger.

Light.

The power has returned. Mechanical clocks flash and beg to be reset. They remember this moment and begin from here. A fresh place in local time.

Light.

Who do I know who needs a simple touch? Power. Start. With a word. Gratitude for who that person is. Now.

Light

joins with power. Hospitals heal patients. People can survive and thrive. A new day. And a new day in this simple, small house where two septuagenarians celebrate the gift of another day.

 

We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them. (Buddha)

Eight AM. The doorbell rings. My hair is in pre-brushed condition. I wonder if delivery trucks could be on the road already.

“No, it’s a little boy,” my husband says. “I saw him come up the walk.”

A child, no more than seven years old, appears on the other side of the door, his dark eyes wide. He hands me the morning newspaper.

“Why, thank you,” I say. “That was very kind of you.”

He dips his mask for one moment to show a full-faced smile.

My paler face responds to his sweet, rich chocolate grin.

I don’t recognize the child, but my heart has taken a photograph.

He runs up the street, his backpack announcing the beginning of a school day.

My day has begun with an unopened newspaper and news of a different kind. Good exists. It lives in the spirit of a small boy made of large kindnesses.

I hope that our painted sidewalk and lawn sign make clear important facts: Black Lives Matter. People with Down syndrome have innate value. Individuals from every part of the globe are unique men and women, not alien things.

Hours later I treasure the earlier part of the morning. The blessed gift of a hand-delivered newspaper. Much more than a five-second smile.

 

 

Woundedness and Light

The wound is the place where the Light enters you. (Rumi)

The mission. To fill aching cracks. In people with warring views. In the world. With glue that connects more than bones or moments. With one glue known as truth, another known as love.

Should be, words as vacant as a cup with no bottom. Who owns the should-be privilege? A limited few or a diverse population? A political circle or a world team? Violence at the Capitol Building in Washington DC. Because an angry mob wanted a different leader. How did it help?

Destruction, obvious. Wounds, untouched, made deeper.

Light. May it find a way to reach universal suffering.

 

If you asked me for my New Year Resolution, it would be to find out who I am. (Cyril Cusack)

 When a close friend asked me about my resolution for this year, I gave her one of those toothless, emotion-hiding smiles and replied, “Same as last year.” A vague answer. I haven’t recovered enough from 2020 to make a resolution.

 When my husband and I visited Ireland several years ago, we pretended to be Canadian. I was ashamed of the so-called home of the free and the brave. That situation has deepened since the mob riot attack on the United States Capitol today.

The news continues in a loop. I don’t know where or when it will end. Growth and learning can happen. The hard way, but it can happen.

I refuse to claim importance because of my birthplace. America. White ethnic heritage. I prefer saying I was dropped off by aliens from another planet. I am one human being. One. My size, shape, color, ancestry, and religion are random like an ace pulled from a deck of cards.

Growing up in the middle of the twentieth century, I was told by parents, teachers, and peers who to be. The ten commandments carried all the answers.

Life isn’t that simple.

The view from an airplane shows no detail. Areas of land have clear borders. Yet, houses, cars, and people hide. I could decide now to do a thousand things, from using time better, to writing daily, to turning into a 74-year-old muscle master.

Instead, I plan to keep my inner-eyes open. To listen to valid criticism with clear ears. To accept honest compliments. I am alive today. It is not too late. For me or for my country.

 

 

 

I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine. (Neil Armstrong)

 I don’t remember when I wrote this poem, but the year 2020 didn’t exist. This year’s events would have belonged to science fiction. Yet, somehow, the poem fits. I pray hope and beauty live in the manure these twelve months have provided. Peace. For all.

ONE OLD LOST CALENDAR

I find an old, unmarked calendar.

Three-hundred-sixty-five blocks of freedom

promised in small pristine white boxes.

Twenty-eight to thirty-one on each page.

It had been a difficult year,

better forgotten in a dusty closet.

And yet, like soil that is no more than

ordinary dirt, the kind that grinds

under the fingernails,

hope and beauty

were planted into the grime.

And their seeds

continue to grow, inventing bizarre

and beautiful surprises.

 

From the Distant Music of the Hounds. (E. B. White)

To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year.

Seasonal music plays on TV or the radio, yet it can’t fill the vast space known as social distance. Necessary. But new, different. I am forced to look inside. At the person I see backward in the mirror. At what I give, not what I receive.

My older granddaughters call. They love their gifts. Sweatshirts. They chose the designs. I cherish their gratitude. Hugs need to come over the phone or on Facetime.

“I love you, Grandma.”

What other gifts do I need?

In past years did I celebrate or accept the season as an entitlement?

Time. Precious. Each passing second. Survival, not to be taken for granted.

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