Saturday, June 9, 2018

On deep grief and what to do about it

I found a letter that Champ wrote to his mother in 1965, shortly after his father died. I am so moved by his tender understanding of her grief at the loss of her husband and his grief in losing his father.  And comforted by his wisdom; words he wrote before my birth that fill me with love nearly 30 years after his death.
Champ and my mom at camp in 1952

     I want to hear from you exactly as to how your thoughts are moving through your mind though it tears my heart to read them. Still, I need to know, and you know that my feelings are the same.
     All the pleasurable little things in life that you treasure up, you treasure up to tell someone, sometime, who will share that pleasure in the only way you want it shared, and who will appreciate them as much as you.  All the little accomplishments you can't tell someone else because you feel they will think you too proud, you can tell to that special one who will feel as proud as you, and understand.  All the burdens that come to be too much to try to resolve, you bring out to that special one, because he will take the problem over and solve it, or at least fret it through with you.  In so many things in life you find the ever comforting thought that, when you want to, there is a place to turn.  I do understand.  Now that is gone.  The things to tell can't get told.   The problems seem insurmountable.  The joy of life is truly in sharing and knowing that the opportunity to share has been taken away, the joy of things won't seem to come out.  But surely there will be people to love, and people to share with you, and people to understand, some more deeply than you expect, although the high percentage of shallowness and preoccupation and self interest to be found in those around you will be discouraging.  But you don't need many, you need only one, or perhaps I should say one for each interest.  And there need not be a withholding.  That is a thing that will hurt you more and more.  Don't get introverted and withdrawn, but share your appreciations with others and realize that little gifts and attentions and words of praise and other thoughtful "out-goings" will keep you busy and make you happy.  When something has been shared and fallen on sterile ground and failed to take root, don't be discouraged.  Nature isn't that perfect and many seeds are scattered in to Earth's loose graveled mind to wither and fail to come to promise.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Tonight's gratitude

Just the first 5 things that pop up:

--Oh-my-god the Baja evening sky with that badass sun finally setting
--The lessons that badass sun is teaching me every day
--Tubas and accordions
--Oceans and seas
--The breeze. Baja breeze. Bald Hill Pond breeze. Any breeze that gently kisses my cheek and reminds me of love.

Friday, July 21, 2017

"I see the sunrise creeping in...Everything changes like the desert wind..."

There's a song I like by Chris Stapleton called "Traveller." I stole the first lyric from that song for the title of this post. I'm here in Los Barriles, Baja California Sur, Mexico, housesitting for a month. I feel grateful. For the sunrise, the desert wind. For the good fortune to travel. For solitude and really kind LB neighbors showing me the ropes of ex-pat living (and taking me to water aerobics!). For the opportunity to explore a new place on my own and so, also, for the opportunity to explore my self on my own, which is what always happens when you travel "cause every turn reveals some other road..." I'm grateful for the homeowners who invited me to arrive a couple days early, picked me up at the airport and thoroughly oriented me to their home, this town and their friends and also fed me and treated me like a guest. They also showed me the pick up truck from which to buy fresh fish, scallops, and shrimp.

My duties here include walking the dogs 2x a day, feeding them, watering outside plants once a day and generally looking after the house. The house is beautiful and modest with gorgeous views and verandahs. It's incredibly hot here but my bedroom has A/C so I'm very comfortable. And already accustomed to being sweat-covered all day. It feels cleansing.

Tonight I'm meeting a friend of a friend of mine from home for dinner. She lives here with her husband and we already met at water aerobics. She's going to bring some other friends so I'll have more friends! Also, the closest neighbor (who lives with her partner within sight of "my" house) is a retired therapist. She's from the mid-west and extremely charismatic and kind and very easy to talk with, as you might imagine of a therapist. She's been here for 5 years and seems to know everybody, including the Mexican people which is reassuring because I wonder about the relationship between the ex-pat and local communities.  I've heard already about a gringo who tried to block off a section of public beach in front of his house as his "own," making the rest of us look bad by possible association. My kindly neighbor brings the opposite energy, which you can see in the returned smiles of everyone she waves to and speaks to by name. 

And now it's time to water the agave, poinsettias, et al.

This morning I got up early and witnessed this.

Looking out to the road from El Viejo which makes the best tacos. Ever.

My fish tacos before I finished dressing them. 2 tacos and 1 cerveza set me back 75 pesos which is about $4US.

Some cows on the beach.

Did you know that the fisherfolk fly flags when the return to indicate how many and what variety of fish they caught today? 

Lots of people drive these here. I don't care for how noisy they are but I do feel kind of tough. The homeowners left me several other vehicles and I prefer the beater Land Cruiser to this.
This is Timo. He's a good boy. He got in the outdoor shower with me today and it was funny.
This is NiƱa. She just visits. She goes for our walks with us. She thinks she's part of our pack. You can't help but call her Little Girl.
This is Rana. Yesterday, my first day of taking care of the dogs on my own, I couldn't find her and thought she had somehow escaped. I spent an hour scouring the neighborhood for her. I came back to change my clothes, completely bereft, and found her like this, sleeping under my bed! Rascal! But she's so cute and I was so relieved I couldn't be angry with her.

Seriously, do they have these in the States? Because they are amazing. There's a lot of great food here, but man, these are good.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Androscoggin River

For several to more years I’ve loved camping at campsite 42, Mollidgewock State Park, on the Androscoggin River. This particular site is literally the end of the road at this campground; the most secluded site, with the river having turned only recently to rapids that gently lull me to restfulness and peace.

I go there, once a year, to listen to the river and look at the little waves and imagine that surely, in a past life, I was a bear on the bank just across from where we camp and a little to the right. I look every time I’m there for my descendants and I’m sure they see me but I have yet to see them. I know I pulled fish out of that river with my bare hands and fed my family that way. When I was a bear.

I’ve visited there twice now in the time since my mom died, since my kid moved away to college, since I rather unintentionally changed careers. I’m soothed, always, by the rapids and the technology break. And this time I realized more: The river changes constantly, of course, in how it ebbs and flows. The sun is in a different place in the sky each day and in July to my right as it sets but in September more straight ahead. As it arcs it casts a constantly and infinitesimally changing light on the river and her rapids. The moon, similarly and more dramatically delivers an ever-changing glow and, also, predictably, waxes and wanes. The clouds come in to play, obscuring then revealing the light. A heron shows up one morning then moves on. Smaller birds draw my eye. Anglers do something pretty with their lines as part of the show but I’ve only seen them once or twice. There are these funny, prehistoric bugs I see on the rocks when I get up close to take my river bath and they jump all about.

Change breaks my heart. That’s a simple confession. But on the Androscoggin, just across the river from where I used to be a bear, I watch time and light and water do their constant dance and sing to me.  And the world keeps spinning.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Found Poem

I wrote this in 2013 when Quixote was a baby.

I work well with a baby on one hip.
So at the end of our day apart
when you smile and reach for me,
fuss if I won't hold you,
my womansense rises
and I am my strongest most
competent self,
perfectly balanced
between baby on my left,
food and flames on my right;
surprised, delighted, to be this baby’s favorite,
for you, Quixote, to be somehow
just a little bit mine
during these changing colored days.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

From Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson

"I sat down on the grass, which was stiff with the cold, and I put my hands over my face, and I let my skin tighten, and let the chills run in ripples, like breezy water, between my shoulder blades and up my neck. I let the numbing grass touch my ankles...I thought, Let them come unhouse me of this flesh, and pry this house apart. It was no shelter now, it only kept me here alone, and I would rather be with them, if only to see them, even if they turned away from me. If I could see my mother, it would not have to be her eyes, her hair. I would not need to touch her sleeve. There was no more the stoop of her high shoulders. The lake had taken that, I knew. It was so very long since the dark had swum her hair, and there was nothing more to dream of, but often she almost slipped through any door I saw from the side of my eye, and it was she, and not changed, and not perished. She was a music I no longer heard, that rang in my mind, itself and nothing else, lost to all sense, but not perished, not perished."

Friday, November 28, 2014

Cooking a Turkey Dinner with My Mom

My mom and I never spent Thanksgiving together. Not once, at least that I can remember. It was the holiday reserved for my dad's side of the family, and later, my husband's side of the family. That was no problem. Mom and I had Christmas. But often we would cook a turkey dinner together, at a different and sometimes odd time. Because everyone loves a turkey dinner and we loved to cook together. I didn't even know we loved to do that until she wasn't here. But we did. It was an expression of love and time together and she taught me a lot. I wish I'd listened better to her cooking methods, but that's okay and it doesn't really matter because her cooking was imprecise (though, also, perfect) and I've got the gist, though will never have her precise panache. Today we came home from a truly wonderful Thanksgiving at my sister-in-laws. Probably the best turkey dinner ever! And we were offered leftovers to bring home and treated beautifully. Yet something today compelled me to go find a fresh turkey and try to replicate my mother's stuffing recipe and make some basic sides and pies. I notice that since she's gone, the things I do with her need to be spontaneous and on my own terms. For example, I forbade anyone to make clam dip for Old Home Weekend in August, then made it, last minute, for a potluck in early October. And this afternoon was sponateously dedicated to making turkey dinner. Not for my mom, but with her. And the cooking is a combination of missing her so much but also feeling close to her and therefore comforted. Neil cut the apples for the pie, which she always appreciated. I hope the stuffing tastes like hers. It will be close enough. I realize that grieving is nothing planned. It hits you when you're least prepared. Like when you know you just need to make a turkey dinner and invite some people who you love. I only wish she were here to talk with while we cooked. That was the best part. PS: My kids, aunts, cousins, my dad, a baby, a toddler, all came and ate and laughed and filled the holes in my heart with love. Thank you.

Marathoning--A Record of My Times

  • NEW HAMPSHIRE MARATHON, October 3, 2015. 4 hrs. 56 minutes, 8 seconds.
  • MONTREAL "ROCK 'N' ROLL MARATHON, September 22, 2013. 4 hrs. 20 minutes, 41 seconds.
  • VERMONT CITY MARATHON, May 2012. 4 hrs. 20 minutes, 8 seconds.
  • MOUNT DESERT ISLAND MARATHON (Maine), October 2011, 4 hrs. 45 minutes, 14 seconds
  • SUGARLOAF MARATHON (Maine), May 2010. 4 hrs. 18 minutes, 35 seconds
  • MONTREAL MARATHON, September 2008. 4 hrs. 19 minutes, 33 seconds
  • VERMONT CITY MARATHON, May 2008. 4 hrs. 11 minutes, 58 seconds
  • VERMONT CITY MARATHON, May 2007. 4 hrs. 19 minutes, 42 seconds
  • MONTREAL MARATHON, September 2006. 4hrs, 30 minutes, 2 seconds

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