Just play: don't look at your hands!
What a dumb title for a person who never got a single star on her piano lessons!|
Daily practice is the thing though: the practice of noticing as well as of writing.
However, I'd much rather play duets than solos, so hop right in! You can do the melody or the base part, I don't care. Just play along--we'll make up the tune as we go.
I'll try to write regularly and deliberately. Sometimes I will do it poorly, tritely, stiltedly, obscurely. I will try to persevere regardless. It seems to be where my heart wants to go, and that means to me that God wants me there too.
See you tomorrow.
|Leaves of Linden in November
Yesterday the yellow
flapping, vibrant, full of light
even though already small in
numbers, growing precious.
Today, although the sky
limbs are empty of all but dry
brown spinners, those wings
like tongues in pairs from which
suspend the seeds of life.
With a rush of dying glory
ripened pears cover the grass,
hiding the dog’s tennis balls,
flocking across the lawn
in last hurrah.
|Our local community college, voted the best in the U.S.A. incidentally, has a program called Quest. It is specifically for adults over age 50 and has a great variety of classes and opportunities each quarter. I've taken a writing class several times now, and it's half filled with us old regulars who love an audience for our writing. The old instructor finally retired, (she's in her late 80's) and a friend of mine has taken on the job. His experience is as a librarian and teacher, and he's fairly good at that although not a very proficient writer himself in my estimation. Nevertheless he tries hard and does apply what he learns and teaches. I guess I shouldn't be so critical. He's in my poetry group too, and he is getting better, just doesn't have an ear for it it seems to me. Pedantic. Maybe that's the right word.
Today he brought a speaker, Mary Husted, a woman well known in Eastern Oregon for sponsoring a writers' group in Pendleton and a writing workshop at the reservation. She is a retired teacher and a memoirist, and was under the impression that our class was all involved in memoir writing as well. She read the introduction to one of her books, (I'll look up the name and fill it in later.)
What she read was an essay, starting with a particular scene when her own writing group went out to dinner at a nice restaurant on the Oregon coast following a weekend workshop. She said she wrote it to show the reader who she is and how she approaches the various -isms she falls victim to, in this case class-ism. She made several comments about people who were brought up in the working class, as she was, and how she could always tell which of her listeners shared that experience. The restaurant had made a mistake and did not have a record of their party's reservation. She said people who grew up in the working class would be horrified, and others would say, so what?
I guess I always thought we were part of the working class. My parents both had jobs, not professions. My dad had dallied with being a watchmaker but was mainly a shopkeeper, and my mother kept the books. By this woman's reckoning, we were not poor enough to be in the same class with her. She meant manual laborers. Apart from feeling a little affronted by this, I guess she does have a point I hadn't thought of. Perhaps I did look down on classmates whose fathers were laborers. I'm not at all sure I knew what they did, but I think I did have an awareness of being a little above them. Language played a large part of it, vocabulary and grammar.
Anyway, something to think about.
I pick through the drawer,
Handling, hefting, turning
Small rectangles, bigger circles,
Some as big as fifty cent pieces,
White gold, yellow, stainless steel.
All the intricate pieces
Are in their proper places,
Carefully tuned to each other,
Ready to tick off their precise
Calculations, marking time.
But nothing is happening.
Time goes by unmarked,
Drifting the river or sliding home
And only measured subjectively
Somewhere between infinite
No matter how
reliable or predictable,
Even a watch needs to be wound
In order to keep running.
On my wrist is a plastic disk
With its digital readout
Accurate, easy to scan.
If I tucked it in my purse
Or left it in my suitcase
For weeks on end
It would still be
Tirelessly ticking off
The minutes, hours and days
If it quits and a new battery
Fails to revive it
It will not be worth saving.
|This is a poem I wrote this morning for our poets' gathering. I've made several starts on it, one part or another of it, both in poetry and just journal entries. Tell me if this could stand alone, or must I do more explaining. I tend toward saying everything in my poems, that is, making them more like prose. I wanted to try it doing it differently.
Making Virtual Amends
Spattering leaves changing
to yellow, hair relentlessly to grey,
heat of youth and summer cooling welcome.
Season of harvest and abundance
tallying the fruit of life.
Sun low, strong bright obliques,
high shadows, late day drama highlights
warm the pungent atmosphere of memory.
Contentment intruded on by small regret,
a chorus in a minor key: Why
didn’t I? Why did I?
urging me to actions of atonement,
canning applesauce and tearing out
the loving stitches to remake a dress.
|The title is taken from a line of the book of Common Prayer directed to all of us who are getting ready to receive Eucharist. I used it because, especially at this change of season, it's also time for change for me.
I've been awake since 3:30--so unlike me. I'm usually the sleep-in queen, happy to be up before 9. So I lay in bed and prayed for people I know, and ones I hardly know anymore, and ones who need a friend. I read a few chapters of Exodus, the old book by Leon Uris that I picked up for some soft history of the Jews between the concentration camps of Germany and then on to Israel. Am learning a lot I didn't know, about the detention camps on Cyprus where British sent Jews who were trying to escape to Palestine. It's prompted my reading some actual history and would welcome some more suggestions.
The chapter I'm in deals with a Jewish girl smuggled out to Denmark and raised by a Christian family. I've never read anything about Denmark's fate during WWII either, and it's illuminating. I wonder if it is and will be like that for the Ukraine. Similar tactics to start with anyway. And then I hadn't thought about the homeless people in Denmark: Germans who fled there to get away from Allied bombs and were not welcomed. They came in stealing food and occupying homes when they could. Then there were the giant numbers of homeless in Germany after the liberation: people freed from concentration camps, people who had fled the country and came back to look for families, not to mention those bombed out and those who simply couldn't find work and still weren't taken back with entirely open arms after the German people realized what had been happening. Mind-boggling.
When I read of the hundreds of thousands of people displaced in the war zones now, I simply can't imagine what it is like. They and their needs feel so foreign to my experience. Hearing about the homeless Germans hits closer to home, leads me into a space where maybe I can think of our American homeless in a different way.
I realized this morning that I've had three women friends, all very intelligent, all connected to the church in some way, who now, wherever they are, could be homeless. They are strong, talented, outspoken women who have done a lot of good but who can't keep jobs, can't get along with people on a long term basis. I found one on Facebook, but with no entries in the past year. The other two probably couldn't afford the technology, the hardware or software. Oh, and there's another I just thought of, equally poor and out of physical range of technology.She lost her license to practice due to lack of personal boundaries. She gave too much, virtually moved in to help someone dying, and even though she refused anything from his will, was charged with unprofessional conflict of interest.
I wonder how many other intelligent, gifted women would I find at our local homeless shelter? Just a thought. I'm not sure if I'm ready to go looking. For one thing, I fracture my back this summer and have been having to take it easy. That means I haven't even gotten the weeds out of my garden, which I like doing, or the vacuuming done inside. Still, maybe it's another direction I should explore.
|There is a window in our living room where an air conditioner used to reside. It's about twice as wide as the unit was and high up on the wall, facing west. It gives me a view of the sunsets, the new leaves on the linden tree and cedar trees behind it. Occasionally I see violent movement of one limb, sometimes a flash of a squirrel tail. More often I see gentle, harmonious movement unless the wind is really ripping. Today while trying to write my Monday poem I noticed the following.
One side of the linden tree
shows through the window,
one branch swaying to and fro,
one bobbing up and down,
the others still.
How is it that the wind is so
I used to feel irritated
on Easter morning
that we had to hunt eggs early
then leave to go to church.
Years later, egg hunts in the past,
I was irritated
to see how many people came
to church that day and yet no other time.
Yesterday two hundred faces,
old and new, known and unknown,
brought me only joy.
How is it that the wind, the spirit,
finally bobbed me up and down?
It's not that I think I'm a very good poet. I don't even really identify with the word, unlike some in my writing group. But because I haven't been here in so long, I'm giving you what I've got.
The thing I noticed yesterday evening, after spending half a day at church, was the number of Facebook posts about it with pictures. Almost all of them were of Easter baskets if not colored eggs, and the contents of the baskets ranged from candy to tee shirts to games. It's become another secular holiday like Christmas has, celebrated by many mainly as an excuse to decorate and give presents. The family dinners and the egg hunts--I'm glad those custom haven't been lost, but as for the rest, hmph.
|Woops, I just spent my blogging time reading blogs and answering emails. That's a trap, isn't it? But then again, the social part of the site is what makes it worthwhile, and those are the dues. I mean, if i just wanted to write, I could do that without the wdc audience, such as it is. Even if just a few read it though, or even if they don't, I have a feeling that I'm writing to someone, and that feels right. I tried a regular blog on blogspot for awhile, but I noticed my friend who did the same was constantly asking for people's opinions, like, trying to get them to participate. There was a contrived feeling about it, like when a group leader asks, "And what do you think?" and you know she doesn't really care.
I'm in a small discussion group with two friends (that's small!) reading an old book I've read before, Women Who Run with the Wolves. It does make very interesting discussion, and we all truly do care what each other thinks. Because I wrote about neatness yesterday, I noticed how very neat but also warm even thought provoking our hostess keeps her house. I love the way the pictures are arranged, and I know they all mean something to her, not just decor items. She is very creative, and her rooms are endearing as well as traditional, enduring. She just turned eighty, amazingly enough. She is a marvelous role model: a priest's wife who was director of nurses at the hospital and raised four children to be strong and fine adults. She's a terrific cook, makes soup in the church soup kitchen every month like I do but with more self-confidence, which comes from years of soup making and bread baking. She's lead a lot of groups that are Jungian inspired and has so much insight.
So that was my fun for today. We've not been meeting through the holidays, and it was good to be back together. Hospitality. That's a wonderful gift.
|This cough is still hanging on, but I have felt better today. Bill was gone until dinner. Plenty of time to write, but also the first day in a week or so when I actually got some things accomplished. Nothing big, just laundry and cleaning, but things that have been ignored for the past week while we were both sick. Haven't even done much cooking, which is just as well since Bill has his flight physical coming up in a month. It's a good time to live on meat and salad, and I don't have many creative ideas about that.
Before we got sick we had just returned from 10 days in Florida visiting Bill's kids and grandson, who just celebrated his sixth birthday. They don't read this, so I can talk about them, right?
It's taken me till now to get us there. Bill said he wanted to go but couldn't sit down with me and make plans. He told his son J that he wanted a schedule of when the boy Z would be with him and when he would be with his mother. They are divorced and share him on a weekly basis. Son said it was easy enough to figure out and didn't come up with any dates except not Christmas. Z wouldn't be with him, and the rest of the family was going to J's wife's family's place in Tennessee.
I found some good airfares one night when Bill went to bed early and woke him up to see if he agreed. Not my best plan, but I was feeling desperate. So it turns out we arrived at the beginning of a week when Z was with his mom. No problem. They switch on Fridays, so at least we were with him for the weekend and half the following week. The other complication was that daughter, E, whose house we were staying in, got called to South Carolina for the week to take depositions and wasn't back till Friday either. Still okay. J, who had been gone for a week to in-laws, had to work some days. Even though he works out of his home, we were limited in the time we could see him. AND, it was 28 degrees there! Not exactly the weather we wanted to spend much time at the beach. The house stayed cold as well. The heating system worked, but it seemed to struggle to maintain at 65. Those fancy stone counters in the kitchen sure were cold!
We liked E's house, a '60s style rancher that she bought last summer with wood floors and a living room as long as a bowling alley.Everything was very Pottery Barn and very neat, a little bare, although she says she's finished decorating. There was no comfortable place to sit and read, and bar stools on a cold counter aren't my idea of a place to eat either. Nevertheless, it was fine, and the first time we haven't paid big motel bills while we visited, which was a big plus. Bill immediately went out and bought a bath mat for inside the slippery tub, and a coffee maker so he could have a whole pot, not just a cup at a time.
J and his wife S have just remodeled their house and it looks like a model. No, not even as cozy as a model. Everything is beautiful. But when I put my purse down, it got moved. When I put my book down, it got moved. There was nothing on even an end table, let alone no sweater on the back of a chair. She admits willingly that
she's OCD. Brags, is more like it, and J has gotten that way too. Well it's certainly better than the opposite, but I have to say it's neither comfy nor welcoming. I'm glad I'm not subject to it very often. They're probably even gladder!
I'm back to add this comment which I should have made before. Bill's kids are fine, upstanding people and I'm very proud to know them. They've always gone out of their way to be nice to me. They're just very, very organized, and that's a language I don't speak. But then they don't speak poetry or writing or knitting or making soup in the soup kitchen, or church even. And that's just who we are.
|Monday, a good day to give it a whirl. Nothing else is whirling in this stagnant air. Our valley has been wearing this inversion like a pall all month. Everything feels gray and lifeless. The fact that I haven't been able to shake this cough makes it worse. Maybe not worse, maybe just part of the same landscape. I don't feel much like going out in the below freezing air, or doing much inside either. I guess that's better than having wonderful, enticing activities out there that I don't feel much up to. It's a draw, isn't it?
Monday night is always a good night for me because it's one when Bill is reliably otherwise occupied. So, whatever I do, I can do it uninterrupted.
This is the first quarter in a long time that I'm not taking some classes, either writing or painting. Nothing serious, all taught at the community college in a program for 50+ yr old folks like me. It's been fun and has kept me writing, but I felt like I was paying just to have an audience and not learning anything new in the process. Not that that was all bad. Both the motivation and the audience were worthwhile. Still, I was out of town when they signed up earlier this month and I decided to skip it.
The first six months of my retirement I tried to keep to a schedule as everyone advises. I did things I wanted to do, like water aerobics a couple of times a week, and the aforementioned classes. It really was a little busier than I wanted to be though. Everything is in the next town over, and if something else required my presence one of those days but at a different time, I'd be stuck making the drive twice.
Anyway, this quarter I'm dedicating to cleaning out closets and maybe blogging here regularly. I still haven't committed very well, have I? Well, we'll see how it shakes out.