“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
Showing posts with label love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label love. Show all posts



saturday was a wedding.


sunday was a funeral after a death on thursday.
she was 87, married 64 years when she buried her husband last fall,
burying her heart with him,
choosing her casket ahead of her time,
the palest of barely there baby girl pinks.
no somber goodbye colors for her.
she was saying hello, i think.


i wish for saturday's bride such a love.
64 years.
my god, what a thing.


the cemetery was hot with july and few breezes,
and my drive home was sprinkled with raindrops,
with the smell of that rain against hot asphalt,
the way rain smells in the summer, when it is just a touch on your shoulder,
when you quick turn around look behind you and it's not there,
just its perfume hanging in the air. 
just a ghost of rain.  



how to spell love

it was sunday, and that meant gingerbread pigs, and heart shaped cookies with lavender or rosemary, or maybe both; i can't tell, i don't know, and i don't speak enough spanish to ask.  truth be told, it matters not. it was something in addition to sweet, just like real love.

we spell it l.o.v.e.
when we should spell it t.r.u.s.t.
and h.a.r.d.
and t.r.y.i.n.g.
and i.m.s.o.r.r.y.
and y.e.s.y.e.s.y.e.s.!
we spell it h.a.p.p.i.l.y.e.v.e.r.a.f.t.e.r.
when we should spell it

we spell it f.o.r.r.i.c.h.e.r.f.o.r.p.o.o.r.e.r.
and then ask for pre-nups.
we spell it i.d.o.n.t.n.e.e.d.t.o.s.a.y.i.t.
but we do.

we slow dance close and argue far away,
whisper secrets and shout truths and lies.
we look away and across crowded rooms,
and talk without saying a word

we should spell it
w.a.l.k.i.n.g.a.w.a.y. and r.u.n.n.i.n.g.b.a.c.k.
we should spell it
we should spell it f.e.a.r. and g.i.d.d.i.n.e.s.s.
and u.n.c.h.a.r.t.e.d.t.e.r.r.i.t.o.r.y.
we should spell it c.o.m.i.n.g.h.o.m.e.

we should spell it t.h.a.n.k.y.o.u.
and m.o.r.e. and  l.e.s.s.

this morning is monday and there is rain; yesterday's bright sunshine has been replaced with gray skies. i fell asleep last night to the sound of sleet against the night. like love, the weather changes daily, but the sky is still blue behind those clouds.  spring always comes.  i search for words to finish this spelling lesson, but they are just out of touch.  perfect, i think.  it feels unfinished.  real love is never done.

we hug goodbye and bring aspirins for aches
we forget birthdays but remember that time when . . .
we drive in silence and finish each other's thoughts
and we move in the same direction.



reverb 11: sunday lunch. or as we say here in texas, dinner.

empty chair.
empty wall except for where my painting once hung.
empty house full heart
empty christmas empty tables new paint 
same shadows same birds same sky same trees
last winter, spring, drought of summer.
this winter's leaves tell the time.

if you could have lunch with anybody, who would it be?
and what would you like to discuss?


her, of course.
did i do things right?, i would ask, knowing how much i did wrong,
am i forgiven for running when i walked in to find that first surprise of life support?
the hospital told us nothing, nothing,
and i'm sorry, i would tell her,
but my heart fell to my knees
and i shook and they told us nothing,
and i'm sorry, i'm sorry, so sorry.
your eyes were full of fear and drugs
and my heart was tired and broken
and they told us nothing.
i would want to say that to her,
hold her hands in mine and make her understand.
they told us nothing though on the official paperwork they said they called.
they didn't, they didn't, they lied, they lied,
and i'm sorry.

we would have sweet tea and roast beef with carrots and potatoes and she would cook and i would eat too much bread and she would say i am just like my grandfather, and she would laugh, and there would be dessert, there was always dessert, never a cake or pie not in the house.  we would sit in her kitchen like we always did, and skye cat would wander about and jump on the counter and my mother would shoosh her off, and give her tidbits of roast on the floor.

is it okay about skye? i would ask,
i am sorry, so sorry,
but your house holds memories and i couldn't move in.
i broke my promise, but i tried, i tried,
and skye was there every day waiting for me after work,
and it was every day, every day for 2 months,
i was in 3 places, my home, work, your home,
a cat at work and your cat there
and there were lawyers and brothers
and endless phone calls and bills and tears
and exhaustion,
and so i just took her home,
i just took her home.
against my promise, against your wishes,
and is it okay?
she's fine, she's happy, she has no fences to keep her in
and a smile on her face,
and i am so sorry.


one more afternoon in her kitchen.
how precious that would be.
one long last hug.
a goodbye with questions answered.
and dessert.  



the story from the other side

i saw the truck pull up and park;
the driver is working on the house next door,
building a back yard porch,
and his truck is there every day
and i loved that ricky was getting a shout out,
some out loud love for the whole world to see.
loved it.
i took a picture real quick like before leaving the house,
then hopped into the jeep and backed out of the driveway,
coming to a stop to shift gears right next to the truck's other side.

and then i really stopped.

it was a whole 'nother story on that other side.
a story i don't know,
a story told in the fewest of words and shoe polish.
and the funny thing is, i didn't feel sad.
i smiled.
i still loved that ricky was getting a shout out,
some out loud love for the whole world to see.
loved it.

i have a feeling that ricky is somewhere loving it, too.
r.i.p ricky.



love is cake, poetry the deciding knife

sometimes you awake with words on your tongue,
the north wind under my brambled feet,
and though they are your words, 
you are sure dylan thomas has been dream hopping
and hiding words beneath your sleeping pillows. 
sometimes you step into the day
and there is a red wasp taking his last breaths atop a green pecan,
there on the sidewalk at your feet
as they flipflop their way into the sun of the backyard;
you have to sidestep jump to avoid both,
and you understand suddenly the dream warning of brambled feet
sometimes there is pound cake for breakfast,
plain, cold from the refrigerator, soothing to your stomach,
and when you cut a fat slice,
the crumbs fall from the knife in the shapes of hearts. 
sometimes the poetry is your skin itself, your alone heart. 
sometimes those crumbs are the tastiest of all.
sometimes you have to pick them up and touch them to your tongue.



yesterday was my mother's birthday

and i bought empty pages waiting for words
and i waded throught the heat
and i didn't visit the cemetery.
i ate strawberries instead
and watched a henry fonda movie
and i let her cat wander in and out of my house.
it seemed enough.



if i open a door, a bird will fly in

i could show you pictures of the feathers she leaves me
but i am afraid they will lose their magic.
i can't catch the birds who listen to her whispers,
but they zoom in front of my car,
flying ahead of me, showing the way.
they swoop across my path to say good morning,
checking in, smiling.
you will just have to believe me.
they are there.

you will think me mad or silly or in need of reassurance,
and indeed all those things are true,
but explain the feather
left by my car door when i gave her clothes away.
not there when i stepped out
but waiting for a tearful me when i returned.

explain the feathers always at my front door,
the one at the restaurant,
the black one at the lake.
explain them all.
where once i found feathers here & there,
they now find me.

explain the feather from her house,
 waiting for me at my car door as i left one night.

when skye the cat came to live with me
she found it her first night,
stroked it with her cheek.

they are comforts,
these signs from those gone ahead, gone before,
gone away, but not forgotten.

we look for them.

my mother looked when my father died,
when her brother died,
when her mother died.
she looked in dreams
and in everyday events
and sometimes they were there but mostly not.
 she was always disappointed,
brokenhearted, saddened.
she couldn't understand, she'd say.
why not? 
i always thought the looking hid them;
she looked so hard and in all the wrong places.
i always thought they were really there.

when she was in the hospital i bought a painting from miz katie.
a bird on a hand.
i had just enough extra money for it,
just enough.
a sign in itself.
it spoke to me in the language of paintings;
the bird felt right and i felt comforted.

after my mother's death, the birds came.
and being birds, they flew.
they were always flying the air
down the middle of the road i was driving.
always leading me.

then the feathers began.
a comfort.

yes, i am mad, i am silly,
i am in need of reassurance.
but this i know to be true.
if she could, she would.



this story starts with a friend named skye

she's a quilter, and a generous, heartful, heart-full soul, and she said to me to pick out some clothes of my mother's, that she would make a small memory quilt for me, a pillow, whatever, and you know, she would do that with her own two hands, and it touched me that someone would go to so much trouble, but in the end i couldn't do it.  i'd not saved anything of my dad's, not clothing wise anyway, but i thought i would do so this time around, this so-much-harder time, and i told my brothers and niece and sister-in-law to take what they wanted, that i would pack the rest of her clothes; i knew it would be hard, i wanted to do it alone so i could cry all alone. and then another too kind soul, my wonderful wonderful sister-in-law offered to do the packing for me, to save me the heartache and the heartbreak, and i told my brother, her husband, to tell her i needed a day to think about it and then i fell apart.  into little pieces on the floor, onto my knees as i hung up the phone, sobbing and crying and snotty and sobbingsobbingsobbing and it wasn't pretty.  as i said, i just fell apart.  could not stop.  i was here at work and i just dissolved into a puddle of noisy gasping sobs and tears and the ever-wonderful michael could do nothing but put his arms around me, and lilycat even rubbed against me, trying to soothe me, and eventually i did, i stopped, or at least it got less awful, and i even stayed a little late and tried to catch up on the so much stuff i am behind on, and eventually i truly did stop, and i sent my sister-in-law a message telling her thank you, but no, it was something i needed to do.  had to do.  that i would do it in a day or 3 or 4. 

and so it was i found myself alone on a friday night, or maybe a sunday night, beginning the saying goodbye to my mother's clothes.  and what i found was what i knew in my heart to be true all along.  the clothes i remember her in best are not clothes i want to keep.  like that pink striped robe, i forget the name of the cotton fabric, only that when i was a child she made me a pair of blue striped pajamas from that fabric, trimmed with rickrack, and we traveled all the way to st. louis to visit a cousin of hers who was dying. i loved those pajamas, but her robe was worn and ragged and i just couldn't keep it. the memories are too big.  she had more silk shirts than i'd thought and she was tiny - nothing would fit me - and we had different tastes, but i put aside a few shirts, i thought skye can use these, but i will think about it, all the time knowing i would have to tell her i just couldn't do it, and feeling pretty bad about that, but knowing i couldn't all the same, hoping she would understand.  i kept folding and separating button down shirts from knits and suddenly i found myself staring at some heart shaped buttons on a shirt i barely remembered, remembered mostly the high collared neck the way she liked, buttoned all the way up, perhaps that's why the buttons said so much, and i wanted them.  those buttons.  they spoke volumes.  i will just keep them, i thought, and that will be enough.

and then a third person entered the story.  theresa, she of the magic massages.  i told her about the buttons, and she said i could make some art with them, like that thing you did of your dad, she said, but the instant she said dad i knew what to do and where the buttons would go.  i have 2 tin mexican nichos on a bedroom wall - small glass display boxes, each barely bigger than a matchbox, tin stars surrounding them; they don't match, but they are a pair, just like a relationship.  in one there is a mica fish, blown from a windchime that once hung on the tree next to my father's grave; i'd found it one day laying next to his tombstone and taken it home.  the other box held a pearl and a penny just because i liked the way they sounded together, but no more.  now her buttons plus that pearl.  it is perfect.

and so thank you skye.  for making me look.  and thank you judy, for your offer and for unwittingly bringing the hurting tears that took so long to come.  and thank you theresa, for lulling me into almost not thinking, where the real ideas live.  i kind of hate wasting the good stuff on art anyway.



i will be moving into my mother's house

apparently.  caretaker/fixer upper/ tlc-er.  my brothers and i now own it, but my mother requested that, in the event of her passing, i live there with her cat until the event of the cat's passing.  yes.  my mother loved that cat that much.  you will meet her soon - that's her in the picture above, looking so much like maggie the cat, but so not.  her name is skye and she has her own story to tell. 

my mother bought this house less than a year after my father died, needing much less space, needing a change, perhaps needing some walls to paint.  she moved into it with a broken heart, and i will admit right here, now that she is gone and i feel it's okay to say aloud, that it has always felt like a broken heart to me.  she was full of fear and loneliness and barricaded herself with dark draperies and carpet and furniture and felt fine with her pepto bismol pink bathroom and the too-too-teal privy, and she surrounded the backyard with a tall wooden fence, and there are locks everywhere, and it always made me laugh, but it always made me a bit sad also.  by the time she began to feel better, happier, began to paint, changed the kitchen to apple green, she developed health problems and painting wasn't allowed anymore.  so the house stayed put.  half broken heart, half looking forward.

things will change.  my heart is broken, but i have no choice but to move forward.

i am filled with over-the-top anxiety about this move. even knowing i will make changes, changes that will make the house more joyful, changes that will fill it with light and air and art.  it feels too fast.  we are beginning a race against the clock to decide what to do with her things - what goes where? who gets this?  do we sell that? - while i also move my things in, decide what small changes i can make at first.  carpets will come up and i will live on the concrete until wood goes down.  those bathrooms will be white and will be expensive to change, but change they eventually will.  the walls will be painted.  i will have a studio.  a back porch.  i am terrified, and i have until the end of april to be there.  i am not sure it is where i want to be.  i am shaky while there, my belly unhappy.  i feel trapped and i want to run away. 

the ever-wonderful michael says i am still too close to the the event of my mother's death to see much past it right now, that it is still too new.  that the last month has been so awful it is clouding my view.  he is no doubt right.  but it is still her house, and i am not my mother.  she would be the first to tell me to make it mine, make it livable for me, to exorcise the ghosts of her sadness and fears, to open some windows.  and i will try - am, in fact, trying.  it is harder than i'd thought it would be when i told my mother yes, i would do this for her, back a couple of years ago, when i didn't know what lay ahead.  and i may change my mind, may decide i can't do it, may decide to take skye the cat and find another place.  one of my own choosing.  we may sell the house.  i will do the best i can do, and that is all i can do, and one day at a time is all i can manage.

this neighborhood is not charming, not enchanted like my neighborhood of now.  it is more suburbia, and i am afraid i will turn into someone else.  the people here live apart - instead of watching the street, i will watch the backyard.  but there will be plenty to keep me busy, walls to paint (always the best soul and heart easing therapy for me) and  i can grow tomatoes where my mother grew tomatoes.  i can plant flowers.  there will be fresh figs and turtles in the yard.  there are so many reasons it will be okay.

but. i am overwhelmed with these last few weeks.  i am more than overwhelmed by the idea of the next few.  so many more changes.  so many.  too manythey never stop.  but i am still here, and i will figure this out - somehow, someway.  i am scared but hopeful,  full of tears and ideas.  her house will be my dollhouse project.  there is a reason i could never build that january room.  life was waiting for me.

and now, i need you to tell me it will be okay.  :) 
my scared girl is showing,
but my softening girl doesn't care. 



time off

this space is always an empty box when i begin.  white.  containing nothing but possibilities and stories yet to be told. yesterday, i could say, there were pear trees blooming, 4 and then another 4.  tiny white blossoms just beginning, and they were to my left as i walked the skywalk to the corridor which led to the hall which took me to my mother's hospital room and even more bad news and i ran away in tears.  this time the pear trees were to my right.

and such is life. 
it is folly to pretend otherwise.

it is now today and day 21 of my mother's journey but i lasted only a minute and a half yesterday afternoon.  i ran because i could - i fled.  i thought i'll run and i'll write about those pear trees, i'll talk about that last one that is just a young teenager, not quite grown all the way up, but bursting proud with new blossoms nonetheless, and i'll forget everything else;  the problem is it was the pear trees on my left i wanted to talk about, but they were obliterated by the blur of the ones on my right as i ran. 


i have only those words and they are too hard to write.
maybe later.

i will be back when this is done.



a grasshopper from today and a really long list from 2008

this grasshopper was far away
and it reminded me of this image
from when? last year?
the year before?
me always drawing horizon lines in my head. 
the first one was at my feet,
today's was overhead in the hospital parking garage;
the sun just beginning to tip the treetops on her way down,
light splashing through the open space,
puddling as shadows in the corners,
and i couldn't get close enough
or climb high enough,
but i saw the color fall across the air
and i admit to a bit of photoshop juju,
but not as much as you might think.
the color was shimmering at all my edges.

and the full moon
and a reprinting of stuff about my mother.
originally posted for her 75th birthday.

it's really long.
settle in.

1. Best fried apricot pies EVER.

2. She taught me - inadvertently - to be fearless about painting.
Old metal teapots were not off limits;
if it sat still, it was just asking to be decorated with daisies.

3. She has had & still has a life full of pets:
Cherie, Citrus Sue & Martin, Noop, Deanie, Coco,
Sparkle, Shadow, Angelina, Miss Kitty, Old Joe,
Tom Tom, Skye, Ike, Miss Buster,
Reggie the Blue Jay who had his own room,
Martha, Gray Boy, and thousands more.

4. She is the 16th child in a family of 16 children.

5. She moved - with my father - to a new state,
leaving behind friends, family & the only life she'd ever known,
dragging 3 kids to an unknown future.
No job waiting on either of them,
very little money, not knowing anyone,
knowing only that the health of my brother
 - and his life -
was at stake if the move was not made.

6. She's a writer.

7. Her gardens were organic before organic was cool.

8. She is overly prepared for any possible emergency.
Stuff is in the car
in case she & Skye the cat have to quickly evacuate;
emergency rations are under the bed.

9. When my father died,
she put aside her own grief for an hour
 & came to my house to make sure I was okay,
to feed me baby bites of cold sandwiches.

10. She has a Sweet Tooth. Capital S. Capital T.
I've seen her eat an entire peach cobbler in one evening.

11. Yet she stays thin.

12. She has great eyebrows. (Seinfeld fans will appreciate this observance.)

13. She loves Lyle Lovett.

14. The first tree she plants at any house is a fig.
She never has extra figs to give away
because she will stand at the tree & just eat them all.

15. She is a lover of all wildlife - birds, beasts, insects, reptiles.
Even the snake brought into her house by the ever vigilant Skye -
the one Michael had to capture because
she had barricaded herself in another bedroom.
When he told her he'd caught it,
she yelled through the closed door "Well, don't kill it".

16. She once lived in a haunted house.

17. She always has her hair in curlers
during any disaster or family emergency.
If her house is ever hit by a tornado,
no doubt her hair will be in curlers
& she will be interviewed by CNN reporters & will be broadcast nationally,
to the amusement of all her relatives.

18. She is funny - sometimes on purpose.

19. She's afraid to fly - or at least she thinks she is.
She's never flown, so there's no way to know for sure.

20. She tithes, but not necessarily to her church.
Sometimes the Salvation Army receives her 10%,
sometimes the Humane Society.
Once it was a neighbor who'd left an abusive husband,
but needed temporary help feeding herself & her kids.
She didn't ask, but my mother knew.

21. She is not easily bored - a trait that, thankfully, she passed on to me.

22. She loves my blog - this very thing you're reading.
When she first read it,
she was so moved that she wrote me a little note telling me so.

23. She successfully threw my father a surprise 65th birthday party.
No mean feat - we have a huge family & they all showed up.

24. She hangs my artwork all over her house.
Bad high school & early college drawings
& paintings that she nonetheless loves.
She even has my very first drawing (I was about 2) framed.
It's not too bad, if I do say so myself.

25. She has only one grandchild, but that child is a doozy - the joy of her life.

26. When she was 16 she got married. (Not my father.)
She was a carhop, he was a cool, unemployed guy on a motorcycle.
One day while she was at work, he drove by & waved & that was it.
She got divorced & told me that as she was walking down the courthouse steps,
she felt free!

27. Her favorite song is Summit Ridge Drive by Artie Shaw.

28. She has a yard full of turtles or tortoises or terrapins
or whatever they are.
She knows.
They're all named & she recognizes them immediately by sight.

29. Her grocery lists are unbelievably indecipherable
& written on the teensiest bits of paper imaginable.

30. Because she recycles everything.

31. She can sew or upholster anything.
Except for that Halloween witch costume I wore one year.

32. She cannot, however, spell just anything.

33. For this she blames her father,
a Hungarian immigrant who could speak 7 languages
& even invented a traffic control device
that was used for jillions of years until computers came along,
but who spoke with an accent.
This accent, she claims, is the reason she mispronounces & misspells words.
He taught her to speak with a Texas/Hungarian accent.

34. In addition to great eyebrows, she has great fingernails,
and lives in constant despair of mine.

35. Have I mentioned her Thanksgiving dressing?

36. She can't swim.

37. She loves to limit our Christmas spending,
and 5 or 6 years ago, that limit was $5.00.
She says she enjoyed that year's shopping more than any other year
because it was such a challenge.

38. When she was young, she was a jitterbugger.

39. She has a provision in her will to make sure her cat will be taken of.

40. Speaking of cats,
she believes they cannot find their way down or out of a tree,
which has led to the climbing of a ladder more than once by yours truly,
the cajoling of cats, the pleading.
The begging.
This usually takes place after dark.

41. She cannot sit still.
She is always busy - in the yard, at her computer, in the house.
It made my father crazy.

42. She will loan me money if I need it. I try to not need it.

43. She has, in the last 5 or 6 years,
survived a broken sternum (car accident),
a heart attack, a severe staph infection,
several cases of bronchitis,
a broken shoulder & hip (at the same time),
heart arrhythmias, reactions to medicine, colon cancer,
ischemic colitis (necessitating firemen breaking through her back door).
I have come to know my way around emergency rooms & hospitals.

44. She knows about plants & flowers -
she knows when to trim them back, she understands deadheading,
when to plant tomatoes, how to prune azaleas.

45. She has a fireplace that she has never used.
She has firewood in case of an emergency (see #8),
but did not consider a 3 day power failure a few winters ago
emergency enough to light a fire - she just stayed cold. (See #43.)

46. She is a bath person & doesn't understand how people don't drown in showers.

47. She cries very easily. She will cry when she reads this.

48. Despite the fact that my father was a sports nut,
was the head of the Little League association when my brothers were young,
that he was always glued to tv football & baseball games
& attended as many high school & college events as possible,
and despite the fact that my brothers & I grew up to be sports nuts,
she just doesn't get it.
Except for last year's Dallas Cowboys season.

49. She likes Julia Roberts. She especially liked her when she married Lyle Lovett.

50. She sings all the time - it's one of my big memories of her as I was growing up.
I remember her singing while washing dishes,
or sweeping floors (which would sometimes elicit a jitterbug move or two),
or gardening.

51. Deep in her heart,
she believes the Harry Potter books promote witchcraft.
She denies this to me, but I know it's true.

52. When she was a child,
one year for Christmas she received a doll with no hair.
Her sister closest to her in age, however,
received a doll with beautiful hair - Hildegarde.
In a fit of jealousy, my mother cut off all of Hildegarde's hair.
When she retells this tale, it never fails to make me laugh
& it never fails to make her mad all over again.

53. Great shoes.

54. When she married my father she wore a black dress.
I have no idea what she wore when she married the cool motorcycle guy.

55. She became friends with her oldest sister's nursing home "roommate"
& when her sister died, she continued that friendship with the roommate
until the woman died several years later.

56. She has met Dolly Parton & Henry Kissinger
& the cast & crew of "Bonanza" -
she & my father happened upon them while they were filming in the Arizona desert.
My parents were looking for gold.

57. She was a smoker from the time she was a teenager (again, see #43)
until just recently.
I suspect she still sneaks a cigarette every once in a while.

58. She loves my sister-in-law like a daughter
& tells me quite often how glad she is
that my brother married such a wonderful woman,
and how lucky she considers herself.

59. She says she will not drive in bad weather,
but I know this to be untrue,
having shown up at her house during a freak heavy snowstorm
to find that she was visiting someone who lived an hour away.

60. She worries a lot.

61. So her house is like a fortress.
I've mentioned this before.
Multiple locks, tall fence, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms.
She is armed.
Do not mess with her.

62. She is a die-hard Republican,
but she voted for Ann Richards
when Ann ran for governor against Clayton Williams.
Don't tell anyone.

63. She wants to be an archaeologist when she grows up.

64. She can say the word "panties" without blushing.
I, who cannot, find this amazing.

65. Her kitchen is painted bright Granny Smith apple green.
And surprisingly, it looks terrific.

66. The last movie she saw in a theater was "Poltergeist".

67. She has a cast-iron stomach.
She can eat anything without getting sick.
(I sometimes wonder if I am, in fact, her biological daughter.)
Many years ago she had a kidney infection,
was feeling pretty bad & had, in fact,
decided to just go on to the emergency room.
But first she had to cook a big supper & eat -she was hungry.

68. Back to motorcycles.
When she was a young wild teenager,
she liked those guys on motorcycles,
and she liked it when they would lean the bikes over
& make sparks fly when the footpegs scraped the road.

69. She does not & never has cooked on Sunday.

70. She has a huge, huge, huge collection of depression glass & carnival glass -
mostly in storage.

71. She knew my father was the one when she first met him.

72. She once, in a fit of self-pity & anger,
referred to herself as old "Mule Jean".
Unfortunately, that nickname stuck.
I am trying to convince her to start a blog under that name.

73. She likes a lot of lights on in the house during the night.
If you're spending the night, take a sleep mask.

74. She expects you to be punctual,
even if you've not set an exact time for something.
If you say I'll take care of that next week,
she expects you to take care of it first thing Monday morning.

75. She is the best mom in the world,
and has 3 children,
a daughter-in-law & a granddaughter who love her dearly.

UPDATE 10:30 PM, 7/16/08 - According to one of my commenters,
I am incorrect in stating that my mother never cooked on Sunday.
I assume this commenter to be one of my brothers,
probably the one with the computer.
He's younger than I & no doubt has a better memory -
I've been old a lot longer -
but I have no recollection of Sunday meals.



hospital stairwell belly button

the umbilical cord ties us together still.


day 11.
we fall into the routine.
the average of 5 bucks a day to park,
the late lunches, if any,
all the last calls on my cell phone medically related
aunts and cousins i've not heard from in years.
i carry the phone charger in my purse
and leave the phone plugged in everywhere.
i sit on hospital benches,
kindling games and cheap novels,
and stay at work late into the night,
lilycat and i in the darkened front room.
i forget to buy groceries
 a huge box of valentine chocolates
is supper three nights in a row.
and breakfast.



not yet

yield:  verb \ˈyēld\
transitive verb

to give up possession of on claim or demand:
as a : to give up (as one's breath) and so die
b : to surrender or relinquish to the physical control of another :
hand over possession of
c : to surrender or submit (oneself) to another
d : to give (oneself) up to an inclination, temptation, or habit
e : to relinquish one's possession of (as a position of advantage or point of superiority)


i held her hand yesterday and told her i was not ready to let her go.
good, she replied.
and so, we do not yet yield.
we fight on.

(image from the skywalk at hospital)

day 7



a pause . . .

my mom.
all flirty with my dad back in the day.

i need to take some time off to be with her right now.
i'll be back.



february says hello

i would like to take credit for spotting them, but it was the ever-wonderful michael who pointed them out.  we were in line at a chinese drive-through and there were drizzles of rain, but just a few; i opened the car door and pointed the camera.  they formed a perfect heart in the first image only, the not quite in focus image, all the other images almost hearts, but i'm okay with that.  because really, this one's perfect.

hello back at ya, february.



she taught me everything i know & vice versa

some sleight of hand for you today.
i'm not here.
today i'm humbled and honored to be featured at gigi's place,
the magpie's fancy,
talking about legacies and magic
and why i do what i do.

she has a beautiful place
and is a wonderful woman and wonderful writer,
and did i mention how honored i feel?
we'd love it if you stopped by.
just click your heels together 3 times right here.



there is a flower from maggie's blue bunch

those that greeted me at my front door the day after she died, a heal-your-heart gift from a dear friend - there is a blossom from these ever-blooming beauties, placed between 2 torn sheets of wax paper and weighted with heavy glass for days, and it made me almost cry this morning when i finally lifted the glass - it's blueness all gone, transparent, so fragile and heartbreaking and beautiful, so perfect, so perfect, and i am another step onto my road of softness, of forgiveness, of embracing those tender parts of myself that hurt, that bruise so easily. it is a wonderful morning.

and a wonderful day awaits. breakfast, a visit with lilycat, this new painting to finish, this new painting that has opened up something in me and now i know the end to another painting, one i'd thought finished, but never really sure - now I know i knew it wasn't and now i know it was waiting for me to reach this place. and that thought almost makes me cry. it seems unfair that maggie the cat missed it, this softer place, but i type that and know she didn't - it is her passing that loosened it; she lived with it all along and has set it free.

sitting with emptiness for a few months has led me here.
it is a good place,
a place where my heart speaks to me a bit louder.


4 months ago today

and she was gone.

The Spring of No Maggie became the Summer of No Maggie, the hot nights once shared with her under the stars now just too-hot nights; I visit them seldom. The house is still empty, still wondering where she is, her spaces not filled, her places still hers. That corner where she lay on the rock wall crossing the footbridge over the creek still says Maggie, all the blue chairs still say Maggie, and the space next to my belly while I nestled on the couch reading still says Maggie. My heart whispers it, my heart alone knowing she won't be back.

This time after her ending has, like all times after all endings, been a trickster - long and hard and slow, but so fast. Too fast for my heart, too fast for my soul. In my mind's eye I see her in a child's version of heaven, curled on a corner of its wall, overlooking us here on earth, looking down, keeping an eye on me the way she used to keep an eye on her yard, full of cat contentment and patience. She was nothing if not patient. Always.

Today is hot. The clover blossoms where last she lay are gone. The house next door is now the color of butter. I am older by far than 4 months, and I am younger. I eat popsicles for supper and chicken for breakfast, and chocolate when I want. I read and watch baseball on tv. This Summer of No Maggie will soon be gone; autumn awaits with its own memories of her. It will be too fast and then Christmas will be here and then spring and April will return and it will be a year and I will find it impossible to believe.


In Which I Join a Revolution

It's not much of a heart and it is sideways but I park in front of it every day and every night and when I walk out the front door it's one of the first things I see and I always see it as a heart. Almost I don't see it as a rock anymore, it's just a heart and it sits there pointing out to the street, nestled next to the flower bed where the dogwoods grow. Another heart shape in my life, in the path under my feet.

I hear people talk all the time about how we must love ourselves if we expect others to love us, and I always nod, of course, I think, that's so true, and I always think I do; I know I am tough on myself, I know my faults, I know I am insecure and I know I have issues - who among us doesn't? - but always I think I love myself, at least I thought all that until last night when I had a bath - a bath with a dribble of some Neroli oil stuff I found stashed away in a drawer. It's the first tub of hot water I've sat in in a couple of years, me, who used to adore baths, who believed in the healing powers of hot water. It's crossed my mind a time or two while standing under hot water in the shower, crossed my mind that I hadn't had a good soak just for the sake of soaking in a long while, but the thought would go down the drain with the water, and it would be a while before I thought of it again. I don't know why and I'm not sure how interested I am in knowing the why of it. Soul searching can be exhausting and I soul search way too much anyway.

Instead of why, the word that comes to mind is kindness. To me. To myself. I don't practice it enough, despite the Kit Kat bars and the reading binge and the phones off the hook and the new pink rain boots with white polka dots - despite all that, I am not kind enough. There are excuses and reasons - there was a cat to be cared for, there is not enough time, there is not enough money. There is always a reason. I think of the artist's dates Julia Cameron wrote about and know that I have not only neglected my inner artist, I have neglected my inner me.

"nourishment is crucial.
joy is crucial.
sacredness must be rediscovered . . .
an inner revolution"

I found those words at Graciel's yesterday. She is reshaping her life - go there and read the whole thing; she says it so much better than I do. I read it and laughed at her perfect timing - a not unusual occurrence between she and I. She says she will move slowly, I say I will move in baby steps - they are really the only steps I know. Graciel says her skin feels thin; I know this feeling exactly. My skin feels thin, as if it is ready to be shed, and while it is still me underneath, still blue eyes and hair that always needs a haircut, still me who never gets enough sleep, still that me, it is a new skin. A new skin that reminds me how wonderful a bath can be.


Maggie's Ashes

I will miss her come winter,
come the cold weather
rainy nights
iced over windows,
come the fire in the heater
piles of blankets on the couch.
I thought I would her miss her less by then,
but no.
I see not.

Rain snuck in late this afternoon and it grew chilly at work; I read Edgar Sawtelle aloud to the ever-wonderful Michael when we finished for the day, read it wrapped in a summertime blanket of white, my toes snuggled warm against the sudden chill in the building; we are into the sad parts, and I read the funeral and it was time to go, and he was off and Lily cat rolled on her back, her belly needing scrunchled, and the rain was just barely out there but the gray was everywhere, and I headed home to loneliness, wanting to stay and snuggle on the couch and read to Lily - I have a copy of Anne of Green Gables tucked into my purse - but there were things to do and so home I came to the emptiness that still lives here, especially in this weather, a summer night rain that even Maggie would've given up to nestle next to me and watch bad tv, picture on, sound off, listening to the rain fall until we both fell asleep on the couch, that first moment of darkness when I'd turn off the tv the best.

The image above is by Michael,
art direction by me.
As I told someone else,
I just held her to my heart and closed my eyes.