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Take note!

My first observation of a repetitive date was 7/7/77.  I started a new summer job that day.  Since then, I have made note of those sorts of days, the turn of the century has provided many such watershed moments.

So, for those fond of these sorts of things – today is 11/11/11.  And of course, both this morning, and this evening, it will be 11:11 on 11/11/11.

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Mr. Saturday Night is no longer —  I miss him already.

Mr. Saturday Night was an adventurous monarch caterpillar given to escapist feats. Placed in a jar for his own protection against winged predators, he had a penchant for wriggling out air holes and heading on down the highway, or at least the end of the shelf.

Big, striped, and saucy, that boy had a way about him.   Nobody could put down a milkweed leaf like he could.

And he is gone.

Yesterday, after hanging upside down for about a day, he sloughed his skin and disappeared into a jade-green chrysalis about one-third the size of his formerly formidable caterpillar form.

The root meaning of metaphor is to transfer, carry over or across.  Metamorphosis is to change, or transform.  Metamorphosis has always been a florid metaphor for human transformation.

We all know the story of the caterpillar and the chrysalis –  monarch butterflies are beloved for their beauty, their shape-shifting, and their migratory bent.  To me, they represent a life-long interest.  When young myself, I witnessed the same journey I now see again in Mr. Saturday Night and five of his closest friends.

Everyone sees what they will.  After years of troubling divorce and continuing instability, the permanence of the change in Mr. Saturday Night – his reduction to goo,  his sturdy reliance on unshakeable instinct to lead him forward – leave a deep impression on me.

Prior form is utterly gone – we have the shed skin to prove it.  Yet he survives, interior, contained, and changing.  His instinct, our faith,  he needs only to endure and follow his path to the sky.

At their age, my children are saddened by the disappearance of these beautiful caterpillars, they wonder at the change – and wait to see if nature holds good on the promise.  I do too.

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Crisp day, a turn toward autumnal.

Quiet day in the neighborhood gave way to rushing, oncoming traffic. Trucks rumble by close enough to feel their wake.  To the car repair shop via sidewalk, a piece down a busy road.   Attention pivots away from vehicular onslaught.

Mountain Ash…a scrubby tree with top full of orange berries reaching for light, resides  on the north side of a house that has seen better days.   Cedar Waxwings covet those berries when days cool further, beautiful birds.

A stand of common milkweed beyond cracked pavement catches my eye.  Monarch caterpillars that grow to magnificent butterflies feed upon these plants, absorbing the toxicity of the plant into their skin  – making them unpalatable to predators.  You are what you eat.  No leaf damage here, not a caterpillar in sight.

“Excuse me,” an upcoming runner dodged around me and took a near, and pleasant looking side street.

Two tractor trailers, engine brakes engaged, roll past too fast – what am I doing here?

Looking up for escape – an eyeful of Simpson’s clouds.  Cumulus clouds bearing precise resemblance to the opening scene  of the popular, but irreverent, animated television show of the same name.  Meteorology, please forgive me.

Only a few weeks ago my boys and I were above those clouds looking down – cannot help but smile for the memory of family and friends seen again along the way.

Struggling young ornamental pear, half a dozen trees, planted a couple of years ago when this thoroughfare was widened, working at survival in the foreground of an empty lot.

A large old maple here, guards a pumpkin patch set back off the road.  Powdery mildew is making fast work of those vines, exposing pumpkins ripened early by unusual summer heat.

Black metal bench and trash can front another vacant lot.  Hidden here is the geocache my children and I found last December.  Still here.

Almost there, sumac bobs in full sun, tight ruddy fruit clusters like those in my parents backyard years ago.  Those seed pods always were a little too tense for me.

Rounding the corner, I spy Buckbeak, finished, parked and waiting, my time travel ended for now.  When avoiding the unpleasant, a lot to be seen – and said – for things noticed along the way.

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Now and again

On this coming Monday, June 27, at 9:00 AM, the Very Expensive Lawyer, me, and the Neighbor will once again meet at courtroom 2B.

Tending to unfinished business – small but important things, and the necessity of punctuating a run-on sentence.

If you are inclined,  please send positive thoughts, prayers, or wishes for my small family, I would be grateful.

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The Great Trial was not to be.  As clouds and witnesses, the Neighbor, Very Expensive Lawyer and me gathered in Courtroom 2B, an insightful judge urged reconsideration of settlement options.

Among those options was one I believe will work for my little family, and the reality of this long day was in proffer and consideration, rather than attack and remonstration.

My admiration for the Very Expensive Attorney is real.  Experienced, professional, cracker jack smart, with integrity to spare.  It has been my pleasure to know a number of fine lawyers in my life, and I count her among them.

At the end of the day, when all was said – I had one last question, could I shake the judge’s hand?  The answer was a warm yes, and I fairly skipped up to the bench to thank this man whose influence saved this day, and turned my life.

Life is lived between poles, and rightly so – for life is grey, not black and white.   This day was won by compromise, and the retreat of polarization back into shadow, where it belongs – for now.

Long will I consider the real energies at play today, foremost among them the wishes and prayers of friends, and the holding of my small life in the hands of those who care.  To the Neighbor who sat patiently with me throughout my trials, and to those not present, whose warmth and presence filled a seemingly empty courtroom – thank you so very much.

Yes, I get by with a little help from my friends, with a little help from my friends.

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The Midnight Special

Watching a train wreck leaves me at a loss, for words or anything else.  Too wrapped up in it, even I can see that.  Lofty thoughts–higher reasons.  Destruction dutifully precedes construction.  It gets me through.

It still puzzles me though, why rightful conclusion of matrimony requires years of acrimony–the tracks on which the train runs.

Couple of tracks out of place, derailment–where is that monkey-wrench gang when you need it?

Someday, with luck,  time will see this route fallow, overgrown, iron, timber, sinking to chemical respose in the soil of my soul.  Taken back, broken down–much as I am now.

Iteration.  Train keeps a’runnin.

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Phil lives a few hours south of me.  We have never met, but I talk to him each year about this time.

Phil sells candle making supplies, and my oldest makes beeswax candles.  Each year I buy another pound or two of beeswax beads from Phil.  Phil  sounds as honest as the day is long,  lively in talking about his work.   People interest me and I tend to like that type.  Because I  make estimations, I would guess Phil is a few years older than me.

This year Phil took a little longer getting to the phone.  He apologized for the delay, he was navigating by wheelchair now, and not quite used it.

Phil’s life changed on October 11 at 9:55 AM.  Texting as she drove, a young woman ran her vehicle into the car Phil was driving.  The resulting collision almost entirely crushed the right side of his body – arm, hip, leg, knee – obliterated.

Only recently released from a rehabilitative facility, Phil is home after two months away.  Grateful to be alive, happy to be with his family for the holiday, and impressed by medical technology  striving to regrow his knee with his own bone marrow, rather than amputate his entire leg,  Phil thinks he may walk again in a couple of years.

Phil’s attitude is decidedly unlike most who encounter catastrophe.  We talked a piece about how  no one truly walks on stable ground, we all just like to think that way, to avoid understanding how tenuous, how fragile and changeable life really is. I commented Phil seemed to have new eyes, for seeing how things are, he wondered how I knew.

Phil says he does not like to talk much about his accident, doesn’t see any reason to bring his troubles to other people.  His life has changed and he accepts the turn.  I told him I thought him inspiring, he said I made his day.

Small towns, big thoughts.  New eyes, so costly, see the world how it is.  Priceless.

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Thought of the day

(excerpted)

I am too alone in the world, and not alone enough
to make every hour holy.
I am too small in the world, and not small enough
just to lie before you like a thing,
dark and shrewd.
I want my own will, and I want to be with my will
as it goes toward action;
and in those silent, sometimes hardly moving times,
when something is coming near,
I want to be with those who are know secret things
or else alone…

Rainer Maria Rilke

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Shadows are collective things.  A product of the tilt of the earth, time of day, and a clear weather forecast.  Conspiracy to create the bold, graceful shadow of a leafless tree on my wooden fence at 9:38 AM.

Sinewy arms held far out into space, beyond a balance point.  The imprint, sharp and inky, caught my attention.

Shadows are beautiful.  They give mute testimony to what we do not notice.  Registering eclipse, obstruction, secondhand news, an echo pinging a presence.

Shadows are always underway.  Moving with conditions, treading lightly, striking hard at our more brilliantly lit surfaces.

I am grateful for shadows — they reveal what I cannot or will not admit, what I believe impossible.

Years ago, on an old playground, I ran alongside a creaking, once yellow metal carousel, jumping aboard when it picked up speed.  Transfixed by the moving lines and my own waving shadow – a parallel world more thoughtful than my own.

9:54 AM.  The shadow is dissipated, the tree indistinct, its revealing twin faded.  Present just long enough, and gone.

Shadows do not mean to be sharp, it is bright light that makes them so.

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should dress in the basement.”

I admit defeat by a window shade.  Woe betide she who seeks to replace Levelor with shade.  Instructions followed, holes drilled, frustration ensued.  Further consultation, proper installation. Undone.

Defective shades – they will be returned.  Wrong fit, providing no shade, no cover, no retreat.  The sun pounded in all summer, unknown eyes invade by night.

No where to go but up.  Just like the shades.

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