Thursday, August 31, 2006

One More Thing I Don't Understand

Peanut butter allergies. I don't get it. When I was a kid we all inhaled the stuff. PB&J sandwiches were household and school cafeteria staples. Reese's Peanut Butter cups were enjoyed by everyone big enough to open the familiar orange packet.

Now we have zillions of kids with peanut butter allergies. Kids that die from eating it. Kids that die or go into shock from even being NEAR people who have eaten it recently. This is beyond any kind of allergy I know of. And suddenly LOTS of kids have it.

And celliac disease -- gluten intolerance. Same story -- zillions of kids with it.

There seem to be lots of conditions rampant among children now that were not 50 or even 20 years ago. What changed???

Monday, August 28, 2006

I Used to Want To Be A Background Singer

In the late 1950's and early 1960's when every girl who dreamed of singing wanted to be a solo artist, I wanted to be a background singer.

I had all the choruses memorized -- every do-bop-she-bop-we-op and every ramma-ramma-ling-lang. I knew every background lyric verse to "Come Softly" (dum-dum-dum-be-do-wah be-doobie-do..etc), and I imagined myself one of the tough chicks in pink capris who said .."yes we see" and "we get the picture" to the lead singer of "Leader of the Pack".

I even knew the extensive Marcel's backup lines in "Blue Moon"
(Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom
bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom
Blue moon, moon, moon, moon, moon
Di, Di, Di, Di, Di, moon, moon, moon, blue moon
Di, Di, Di, Di,Di)

And I memorized all the we-muh-wey lines from the Token's The Lion Sleeps Tonight".

Maybe I would grow up to be a Shirelle or a Chantel, a Shangri-La or a Chiffon (He's so fine --do lang do lang do lang -- And I wish he was mine -- do lang do lang do lang-- That handsome boy over there -- the one with the wavy hair..."

But glory be, if I could only be a Ronette, singing backup for Ronnie Spector on the closing ecstatic verse of "Be My Baby"
(Be my be my baby) Be my little baby
(I want it only say) Ooh-oh-oh-oh, ooh-oh-oh-oh
(Be my be my baby) Oh-oh-oh, oohh...
(I want it only say) Oh, oh, oh, oh, oooohh...

The Ronettes were "IT" with their black rimmed eyelids, glossy pink lipstick and anti-gravity hair. Their silk suits were so tight you could see a bead of sweat form as a bulge. Yet they weren't cheap looking. They were just plain cool, and unabashedly sexy.

I would sit in my bedroom listening to them on my Sears and Roebuck portable Silvertone transistor radio with the simulated leather carrying case in medium gray. I would sing along and would just so deeply want their life. I wanted to sing to a boy like that and have him open the door to his souped up convertible and drive me around town.

But I was the "smart girl" in school -- the one with the over-protective Roman Catholic ethnic parents. In their great wisdom they protected me from being anything near the local Ronette. But there, in my room, late at night listening to Ronnie Spector and all the girl groups in America, I could almost feel the heat of the stage lights as I adjusted my imaginary Dynel hairpiece to fall just perfectly over my left shoulder as I waited for the curtain to open on the rest of my life.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sounds and Names and Meanings and Prayers

I just spent an enjoyable couple of days with my beloved godson, Matt. Matt is a musician, and we spend lots of time "trying out CDs" on eachother. It always is very special to spend time with him.

This time I introduced him to some new "world music" that he had not heard -- among them a Sufi singer from Pakistan who uses lots of made-up words in his ecstatic singing. Kind of like Pakistani scat singing. The interesting thing is that when I first heard him, I didn't know he was making up words. I can't speak his language. But I got the drift of the music anyway -- the sense of awe and joy in it.

What is it about sound that communicates feeling? I suppose since I am familiar with western tonal structures that it is easy for me to sense music that is supposed to be sad, or joyous. But in listening to this man from Pakistan, I had no such tonal familiarity. Both the music and the language were foreign to me.

Sound communicates meaning. We get all worked up about language, when there we have sound, right in front of us, communicating meaning.

The observant birdwatcher can tell when what he hears is the cry of distress. The loving mother knows when her baby is crying from hunger or whether the baby is in pain. Even dog owners learn over time -- if they listen -- to generally tell what their dog's bark is about.

This all made me start to brain-ramble a bit.

And I started to think about names. Names of people. When we are born, our parents give us not just a name -- they also give us a sound by which we are to be recognized. In American Sign Language, when you introduce yourself, you also present a sign for who you are -- like a sound -- not just a spelled out word that equals your name...a gesture that says who you are. And that is what a name is -- a tonal gesture that says who we are.

A name is more than a name. It is a sound -- a musical expression. In receiving our names we have been given a sound that is us. Whenever I hear this exact sound I turn, thinking whomever is making it means me.

Then I started to brain ramble back to music.

I wondered what it would sound like for a choir to just say all their names at once, like a chord. Probably cacophonous. I think that must be what God hears when we pray -- such sound!

I saw the movie about the March of the Penguins and how, before a parent sets out from the huge flock of birds to find food, they rehearse a certain tone between themselves and their child, so they will be able to find each other again. They find that unique sound that is between only them. When the parent returns, weeks later, the baby penguins have changed externally, but they all know their sound, and they cry it out into the blizzard of snow and sounds until the reunion happens.

And when I pray, and when my life makes its sounds, I send my sound through the blizzard of other prayers and sounds. My name for God, along with the secret knowing of eachother that we share, spins and spirals around through all the other names for God -- and through all the other secret sounds by which believers are known to The Believed In. God and I circle eachother until we reunite. And then He knows me, and claims me as His own. And I know Him. And from just my sound, my life's music hurled in His direction, He hears my heart.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bloggopraxis ...or Focus Pocus

There are so many things I want to do here, and I end up not being able to do them.

I would like to write really focused social commentary, but I never seem able to. I find myself sputtering in the midst of my passions.

I would like to write densely analytical theological discourse, but I stall. I admire the bloggers who can do this -- and I am not one of them.

I would like to take on one issue and write it into the ground as an authority, but I get distracted. Life seems to be going in so many directions; stories seem calling to me from each one.

I'd like this blog to have a theme. "Oh yes, Mata H's blog on String Theory....or 5 minute casseroles....or 1,0001 things to do with yarn and popsicle sticks....or...or...

I'd love to write wry social commentary so I could really be an effete liberal. I'd love to link people to some Hot Shot E-zine that has quoted me.

But try as I might, I just end up with a kind of mish mash of spiritual wanderlust. It is at moments like this I know that it is true that 5 generations back, I am part gypsy. I feel the love for a good wander in almost every aspect of my life.

If I am behind the wheel of my car, I just want to keep on driving. Anywhere. Last year I arranged to do just that and stayed on the road for 3 months in what was only a vaguely planned out journey. In fact to call it "planned out" is almost silly. I knew I was going to SC, NM, AZ and MT. That was the plan. Did I yearn for home after 3 months? Nope. My checkbook yearned for income, but that is about the sum of my need to return.

I found out that travel like that -- pointing the car and just going, is part of an unspoken American Dream. Almost everyone who hears about my long drives ( and there have been two of such duration in the past 3 or 4 years) anyway, almost everyone who hears about them expresses some desire to do the same. It really is an American urge, I think -- in the 1950's the car ads told us to "See the USA -- In your Chevrolet!"

In the 1950's and 60's we as a nation packed picnic baskets and overnight bags and coolers into the family car with the family dog and drove off to discover America -- staying at Mom and Pop motels along the way - dining at family run restaurants, taking pictures of everything from the Grand Canyon to the World's Largest Frying Pan.

Oh dear oh dear here I am wandering again. I started out trying to mutter out a half-hearted apology for all this blog is not -- and I end up even wandering away from that.

I suppose writing takes us to what we love in a particular moment. And what I love most dearly (in addition to the dear people in my life) is the ordinariness of living. Things like long drives, or the sweet symmetry of slicing onions or the smell of wind in a freshly dried-outside bedsheet. I love the sound of a familiar poem, the strains of music half heard in the night from a memory of days gone by. I love the sweetness of remembered love. The sound of gently flowing water over stones. The taste of a strawberry. Laughter. Those moments when God asserts His delicate magnificence, whether he chooses to do that bluntly or with subtlety.

There is just so much to love in this world, that when I try to write about one thing, I lose my focus and have no choice but to surrender it over to a state of wonder.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I've Been Book-Tagged

Harbour of Ourselves has tagged me. And as the point is also to tag 5 others -- I tag LutheranChik, Jayne, Ginger, Father Jake and anyone who wants to be tagged.

1. One book that changed your life.
Without question it would be Naked Came I the biography of Auguste Rodin the famous sculptor. I read this while going through puberty and it gave me a whole other view on the human body than what I had been getting from the Catholic church. This healthy view of sexuality was a real God-send.

2. One book that you have read more than once.
Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek because it is so staggeringly deep and beautiful and seemingly ever changing. Each time I read it, something seems to have magically shape-shifted into something even more breathtaking.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island.
I should say the Bible, but I know I would opt for the Oxford English Dictionary. (Plus, it would help on the island that the OED comes with its own magnifying glass.)

4. One book that made you laugh.
Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving - The "Sorrow floats" scene had me guffawing on a subway train. I am sure the other passengers thought I was a mad lady.

5. One book that made me cry.
Also by Irving -- Requiem for Owen Meany a spiritually amazing volume.

6. One book that you wish had been written.
How to have meaningful dialogue with right wing fundamentalists that resolves with them being more loving and less judgemental.

7. One book that you wish had not been written.
It is a toss-up between the Da Vinci Code and the Left Behind series.

8.One book that you're currently reading.
Selected works of Robert Creeley, my favorite poet.

9. One book you've been meaning to read.
It's on my shelf, waiting ...Radical Forgiveness.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

And the Pickle Fork Ran Away With the Grapefruit Spoon

I (as regular readers know) have been settling an estate for months now, and have had occasion to go through any number of antique items. As I have gone through the sterling silver of several different households of ancestors, I have been amazed by the specialization of the various tools. Pickle forks, for example -- they have either two or three tines, which are either splayed or notched and are about half the size and half the width of a regular fork. It is designed so that a slippery pickle will be unable to escape its piercing grasp. As they were accessory items, the handles were often decorated, and quite ornate. The grapefruit spoon had a pointed tip and slightly sharper edges to its bowl so that a grapefruit's sections could be more efficiently grasped.

Now, here is where my character is displayed in its full conflicted nature for all to view.

I love things like this - nut picks, pickle forks, napkin rings, sugar tongs, tiny sauce ladles, grapefruit spoons and the whole panoply of specialized sterling. I love setting a table that shimmers in candlelight with cut glass, china, crystal and sterling. I love thinking enough of my guests that I want to make their first impression of my table a big moment that welcomes them and dazzles them all at once.

But I could never justify buying any of it. I have inherited a good bit of it - not all matched, but all very lovely. And I will auction off much of it that I could never need. But I confess that there are times that owning any of it troubles me.

There are children dying of starvation while I polish a sterling pickle fork.

I wish this were only a trite cliche, but it is tragically real. The solution appears to be getting more complex daily. If I get rid of my pickle fork, no babies will live that would have died yesterday. What this silver fork really points to is the emotional distance we have gotten to in the western world from issues of suffering. The mechanisms by which I can get food into that starving child's mouth are getting more, not less dispersed. To use an analogy from earlier -- the food IS sliding off that child's fork. More and more things get in the way, get inbetween me and that baby.

War. Politics. Corruption. Organizations that do not deliver. Food and farm systems designed for corporate profit, not individual sustainable income.

Yes, I send money -- and prayers...but the volume of hungry cries is growing, not abating. And today I polished my grapefruit spoons, knowing that shame does not nourish a baby either. But feeling it anyway. Shame and helplessness. Is there perhaps a sterling silver tong for those?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Michael, row that boat right on over here!

I don't care if he is a Scientologist in real life. When I finally get to see an angel face to face, I hope that he is like John Travolta's Michael from the movie of the same name.

I just watched that film for the umptiumpth time and it never fails to delight me. I love the zesty, human, earthy Michael. I love that we meet him when he is shuffling down the stairs for breakfast, scratching himself, wearing boxers, his wings dragging along behind him.

There is something so right in his smelling like everyone's favorite comfort food - vanilla cookies, or pie, or whatever soothes. Who could not adore the scene in the roadhouse where, when he starts dancing to "Chain, Chain, Chain -- Chain of fools...", every woman in the place is drawn to him and starts dancing with him.

I love his sacrifice to bring a dog back to life, his fascination with all things earthly.

I like to think that God's emissary would be like this, passionate about the world that God made, enchanted with how we love eachother and want eachother.

Physical, unabashedly physical, our Michael. And heartful.

No plaster cast mollycoddle piece of frippary is he. He has substance and one hell of a pulse.

What is it with the American urge to make cute things into Holy things? The angels on Christmas cards, for example. If they are not trumpeters, they are usually little kids with round faces and blonde hair. What is up with that? I want strong angels and old angels and feisty angels. Gray haired angels, bald angels, overweight angels, skinny angels, big footed angels, angels who can polka.

Too often we mistake the all things serene for all things Holy. Sometimes they are; sometimes they are not. Sometimes they are just serene.

Look at Jesus -- sure he calms the storm, but he walks on the stormy waters, too. He gets royally angry at the moneychangers in the temple. He chews out his friends for not keeping their word. He withers a fig tree out of season. He loves a good foot massage, makes water turn to wine at a party with his family. Oh, and how he loved us.

Michael gets that message. It's in his walk, the slight swagger of a walk with wings concealed beneath a trench coat.

That is the angel I love, an angel who knows the Christ I turn to -- full of life and passion and love.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Passing on the Wounds

I've been around this world a bit. I've seen things, experienced things. And it is starting to feel to me that the best thing any of us can do for our world (in addition to helping and loving people in immediate peril) is to not pass along our wounds.

I have been thinking and blogging a lot lately about what it means to be broken members of creation, about forgiveness, about acknowledging what we never got in life and not trying to 'stuff up the holes' with what will not make us whole.

Then I look around me and see the same pattern everywhere - people, institutions and governments passing along their fears and hurts and brokenness in their everyday actions. Here is a simple example. My parents were American Depression Era kids. Those of you from such families know what comes next -- the house was full of "stuff". If one was good, six were better. They lived their lives unconsciously fending of a trauma from the past.

They felt nervous that I might not live my life with the same cushioning. Check my lower cabinet doors for the supply of spare lightbulbs and batteries. It could light the neighborhood. I get to fend off their trauma and make it my own. If I had been blessed with children, they would have probably stored up some cupboards of their own. And so it goes. Wound -- pass along -- pass along -- pass along.

Individuals, cultures, nations....wound, pass along, pass along, pass along.

There was a newlywed woman who was making a roast for her husband. Before putting it in the roasting pan she cut off both ends. Her husband asked why. "Because that is how Mom makes it," said the bride. But, curious herself, she called her own mother -- only to hear that the reason her mother cuts the ends off roasts is because that is "what Gramma did." The evening wears on, and the newlywed calls her Gramma and asks why all the women in the family cut the ends off the roasts. Her Gramma says - "I don't know why *you* do, honey, but I cut the ends off my roast because my pan is too small."

We get in these ruts spiritually -- politically -- emotionally. We get in ruts about who we fear, who is wrong. We miss out on loving people. We make wars over such things. We kill children over such things. We die ourselves over such things. People starve and suffer because of such things.

Imagine if we could stop living and inflicting from the wounded places. Imagine if we could start living from the health in us, the best parts of what we believe in us.

Just imagine.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


I am back from another trip to Massachusetts. On the way back I was getting drowsy, so I pulled off into a roadside rest area, parked the car at the far end of the lot and took a nap. When I woke, directly across from my line of vision was a young woman in an inexpensive, tired-looking small car, with her young daughter. The mother could not have been more than 19 or 20, and her daughter was about 2.

The young mother was changing her daughter's diaper in the back seat of the car, and then changing her daughter's clothes. They both look to have been traveling for a bit, although each was clean and tidy. The little girl was a pale redhead with skin like ivory, and a slow and gentle smile. The two of them seemed to have this routine comfortably established between them.

The young mother was wearing plain black slacks, a modest striped top and black sandals with rhinestone trim. She sat at the edge of the backseat, her feet on the asphalt, her toes pointed inwards like a little girl. She held her daughter on her lap and smoothed her hair.

The diaper had been changed. The outfit had been changed. Now it was just mother and daughter time, with the mother crooning softly to her baby girl, smoothing her hair, kissing her forehead. The mother wore no wedding ring.

I began to wonder about their story. Were they 2/3 of a family or were they the family? Where were they going on the big highway headed south? There seemed to be a drama about them, a sense of unfilled-in blanks.

I liked this mother. She was attentive to her daughter, but not overwhelmingly. She managed to communicate both affection and a certain efficiency. I imagined her as wiser than her years.

Girls these days do not have babies at her age without also having a story to tell. And the story is rarely a happy one.

I wondered at their story. I wondered as the young child got strapped into the child safety seat. I wondered as the mother closed the back door, got in the driver's seat, closed her door, started the engine and drove off.

After I, too, left, the cars around me seemed different. They were no longer just tin boxes hurtling down the highway. They were like covers of books, each containing its own story and its own actors within it - its own pains and triumphs, loves and disappointments. We were lives all rolling at high speed, largely oblivious to eachother.

I said a prayer for the Madonna of the Rest Stop and her baby girl, and pointed my car toward home.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Prayer Request for Ron and MaryJo and their family

I ask your prayers for my friends Ron and MaryJo. For at least the past 6 or 7 years MaryJo has been battling with breast cancer. She has had several surgeries, untold amounts of chemo and radiation. She beats it back for a while and then it appears in another slightly different place. We all pray it out of her and then back it comes. I say it that way because we all believe that our prayers have helped medicine do its thing. Ron and MaryJo are good parents, loving people and have a deep and obvious passion for eachother that has endured through almost 30 years of marriage. Their faith is deep. Today Ron told me that the cancer has resurfaced after about a year of calm. So back we go, into serious prayer mode. It is what we do. We pray her through it. Please join me in praying for and with this family. Please join us as we pray in confidence and joy that God's healing will be done.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bowling with God

One of the things that I brought home from storage last week is a gigantic wooden bowl that is about 2 feet across. It is hand hewn from one large piece of wood, and is at least 100 years old. It is made from some sort of dark hardwood. When I was a kid, we used it as a salad bowl for neighborhood picnics.

I grew up on a dirt road that was like the United Nations. My family's roots were in Poland. Behind us was the home of the Alvarez family -- she was from Spain, and her husband from Chile. Across from them was another Polish family, next to them a Yankee family. Next to us was a family where the wife had been a WWII war bride from outside of Paris. Across from them was a family of refugees from Hungary who had escaped during the 1955 uprising. Across from them was a family who had immigrated from Germany. Across from them, a family with Italian roots, next to a family with Irish heritage, next to another New England Yankee family, next to a couple we referred to as "the batchelors" in those days who were from French and Austrian backgrounds. My Mom had the idea that in the summers we could get together for a monthly potluck picnic and all get to know eachother.

So there we were, my Dad manning the grill and neighbors bringing folding chairs, folding tables, and what they specialized in making -- pots of pasta or exotic pasteries or sauerkraut and pork or fresh vegetables -- and to serve this crew salad, we had this fabulous old big wooden bowl. Salad for 50 was a snap.

It was the diversity salad bowl, in the same way my street was the diversity street. Life just seemed so much more interesting because people were different. Otherwise it was like a salad made just of lettuce.

Come Halloween, the big bowl would be brim-full of candy for costumed kids. At other moments it would store apples and squash or onions. The bowl held whatever we needed it to hold, and there was always room for more.

Here is where this is going -- here is why I have the bowl -- to remind me that the bowl is my heart and it is your heart. It holds and serves - stores and dispenses. This bowl is held in God's arms, God who makes sure it is never empty --go ahead -- try to empty your heart by loving too much. It cannot happen. There is always more. Go on, love as hard as you can -- I dare you -- see if you can stop -- see if you even want to. Love randomly. Pick a tree. Love it for a few minutes. Go ahead. Try. It just feels so good to be loving, to love freely, without condition, without expectation of return, without attachment to results. Don't be afraid. Trust God to let the love in; trust yourself to let the love loose. Just be the bowl and pour forth. Trust God to fill.

You know, of course, this is one way to help heal the world. You know, of course, that even if I do not know you, I wish you great love.

Monday, August 07, 2006

On Selling the Holy Family

I am not one for waxing nostalgic. At least not usually. But this whole process of going through the zillion boxes of my mother's collected "stuff" sure does bring up the memories...I am not sure you understand when I say "stuff" - Included in this "stuff" is a Victorian pedal pumped organ, the size of an upright piano, a set of Havilland china, depression glass dishes in at least 4 colors, filling at least 5 boxes. Two gigantic jewelry cases of costume jewelry. Damask tablecloths. A box of plastic birds.

There is a Nativity scene -- oh, did I say *a* Nativity scene..?? Let's just veer down this road of discovery, leaving behind the bell collection, or the demitasse teacups, or the miscellaneous China...

There are bazillions of Nativity sets, starting with the one that used to be in our church that my Mom rescued from demolition --the figures (complete with camel, kings and servants ) are two feet tall (the camel may be taller) and hand painted in Italy. Anyone know a church that would love these? I'm not kidding. They are church-statue nativity set pieces. Complete with ox and ass and sheep. Somewhere around 100 years old?

Then there is the 1 foot tall Nativity -- ditto Italy, but about 50-40 years younger. Ditto looking for a church.

Then the Boehm porcelain one.

And the tiny carved Anri figural wood one.

And the one(s) from Poland. (Six at last count, mostly one piece assemblages.)

And the one Dad bought her one year.

And the one piece small wooden one in the now-dusty grotto.

The one from olive wood.

The tiny ceramic one from Spain.

And and and Mom could have attended meetings - "Help, I am a nativityholilic.."

An orphan with a Nativity fascination. 1 + 1 = 2. Not that hard to figure out.

Now I am faced with what to do with them all. I have no problem selling carvings of ducks. Cobalt glass eye cups. Pickle forks.

But selling the nativity seems crass. "Gosh, how much do you think we can get for the baby Jesus?"

I just can't get my head around it. Ghosts of Catholicism past haunt me like accusing wraithes. "You would SELL the Holy Family????"

OK, so I have decided to make gifts of them. But my friends already either have them or know that I am in the business of trying to upload a couple of dozen nativity scenes onto the market. "Please, take this as a memento of Mom" is only half true. The other half is "Please keep my conscience in tact by taking this off my shoulders!"

Barbara Streisand implores the hunter during her portrayal as Fannie Brice in Swan Lake, saying "Please -- You vouldn't shoot a schvan!" In my dreams I hear a voice with a Polish accent saying, "You vouldn't sell a shepherd !"

I haunt my friends -- we sit quietly over coffee and I find a way to ask, "So.......Do you have a nativity scene?" Most of them are on to me. They smile, pat my hand and say "Nice try."

I keep thinking I need to find homes for these -- and I have managed to find a few -- it is really the larger two sets I am fretting about -- so if you do know churches please let me know, churches who would be able to come to Massachusetts to get them, as I cannot afford to ship them anywhichwhere -- but I would drive them if not too far.

In the meantime, are there those among you who would treasure a smaller set? I have a few that would fit in a padded envelope....and besides, my Mom was a very snazzy, if eccentric, gal. I loved her wholeheartedly -- so I think she'd like to know that her nativities were given as much care as beloved puppies or kittens for whom one wants to find a caring home.

Yes, yes, I am keeping one -- or two -- maybe three. I'll do my part.

But I draw the line at the ceramic duck collection. That I'll sell.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

28 Things I Gotta Do

1. Get more active in trying to defeat the efforts of the Bush administration.
2. Water the plants.
3. Finish the book about my mother.
4. Finish the loosely fictional story of the heroine who is a lot like me but of course, isn't. Well, not entirely.
5. Find enduring love.
6. Go to the post office to pick up whatever package awaits me there - don't forget to bring the claim check.
7. Mail Bob the gunbelts. (relax, I got them in an auction box lot when I bid on binoculars. My friend is a target shooter.)
8. Take out the trash.
9. Become one with the universe, if only for an instant.
10. Make the bed.
11. Donate more to charity.
12. Discover the deepest meaning of forgiveness. Then do it.
13. Get laundry done.
14. Lose weight/get in shape.
15. If I don't find enduring love, at least let me not think what is not enduring, is.(see #12)
16. Buy stamps (see #6, #7)
17. Sort through the rest of Mom's antiques which are in storage, getting them auction-ready or move-ready. Try to get this done and settled before snowfall.
18. Meditate/pray more often.
19. Deal with calloused heels. (not a reference to #15)
20. Pay parking ticket.
21. Tweeze.
22. Arrange for another couple of days with godson. Great guy.
23. Read more blogs. Comment on screen not just in brain.
24. Spend more time imagining an abundant and happy future.
25. Round up more consultant work.
26. Blog about more serious things.
27. Do not surrender to anyone else's despair.
28. When in doubt, let it go.

Mountain Park

This is a painting by Scott Prior. It is copyrighted to him. I hope that he does not mind that I am using it. (Scott and I went to UMass together, back when his wife was someone else and my husband was GSC. We used to all hang out back in the day.) Now he is this even more amazing artist, a neo-realist. His work always just took my breath away, and we all had the feeling early on that Scott would always be creating wonderful art. What you see in the painting is an image of the now-closed family amusement park in Holyoke, Massachusetts called "Mountain Park".

Every year my Dad's factory union would have a summer outing at Mountain Park, and the park would be closed from 8am-1pm to anyone else. Union members bought an entry ticket for each family member and got unlimited food and beverages, a booklet of tickets good for rides and midway games, raffle tickets and prize giveaways. It was a swell day.

Every year I would bring my friend Sandy and we would try to beat the odds. We'd throw bamboo hoops over ruffled glass bowls in vain attempts to win a goldfish. Or we would pitch dimes toward tilted shotglasses on a revolving table to try to win a watch that must have been worth all of two bucks. Or, we'd put a dime in a machine that was a big glass box. Inside the box were all manner of toys and goodies. The object was to use the levers that were external to the box to manipulate a claw-shaped grabbing device - and to get that device to grab the treasure and drop it down an exit chute. It always looked so easy. It never was.

Mountain Park had a series of lovely rides - a kiddie roller coaster and a huge monster roller coaster. The sound of the cars swirerving down the tracks and the distant sound of screaming was a constant background sound against the sound of the magical merry-go-round. And oh, what a wonderful merry-go-round it was.
There were the traditional painted horses that went up and down, but in the inner ring there were 2 fabulous swan chariots with benches facing eachother inside the swan's back. The very center of the merry-go-round had the mechanical orchestra-works, but also a series of wonderfully painted panels in bright colors depicting scenes from the turn of the century -- Gibson girls out for a stroll, country boys out fishin' with their dog. When the park closed, the town salvaged and restored the 100 year old merry-go-round.

I was so happy to hear that -- to know that some vestigial shred of that simple place still existed. Mountain Park was always small. The rides were never that flamboyant. There was chipped paint on the tiny midway, and the dodg'em cars had seen better days. But to a young girl it all just seemed exotic and compelling. The view from the ferris wheel seemed so vast and expansive that I was convinced I had seen the far flung patches of the world from up there.

I miss those innocent times - before AIDS and Bush and Vietnam and Global Warming and meth labs and 12 year old addicts and ..and...and...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

the big bad wolf

I have spoken before of archy and mehitabel two wonderful characters created by Don Marquis in the 1920's. Briefly, mehitabel was a cat, and archy was a cockroach who typed on Don's typewriter after hours, telling him stories of his world. As archy had to type by throwing his body on the keys, there are no capitals. What follows is archy's commentary on ..well, you will see...

It can be found in "archy does his part," by Don Marquis, 1935. As you read this, ask yourself what large metropolitan newspaper would publish this today, as they did in the 190's.

the big bad wolf

i went to a movie show
the other evening in the cuff
of a friends turned up trousers
and saw the three little pigs
and was greatly edified by the moral lesson
how cruel i said to myself
was the big bad wolf
how superior to wolves are men
the wolf would have eaten those pigs raw
and even alive
whereas a man would have kindly
cut their throats
and lovingly made them into
country sausage spare ribs and pigs knuckles
he would tenderly have roasted them
fried them and boiled them
cooked them feelingly with charity
towards all and malice towards none
and piously eaten them served with sauerkraut
and other trimmings
it is no wonder that the edible animals
are afraid of wolves and love men so
when a pig is eaten by a wolf
he realizes that something is wrong with the world
but when he is eaten by a man
he must thank god fervently
that he is being useful to a superior being
it must be the same way
with a colored man who is being lynched
he must be grateful that he is being lynched
in a land of freedom and liberty
and not in any of the old world countries
of darkness and oppression
where men are still the victims
of kings iniquity and constipation
we ought all to be grateful in this country
that our wall street robber barons
and crooked international bankers
are such highly respectable citizens
and do so much for the churches
and for charity
and support such noble institutions and foundations
for the welfare of mankind
and are such spiritually minded philanthropists
it would be horrid to be robbed
by the wrong kind of people
if i were a man i would not let
a cannibal eat me unless he showed me
a letter certifying to his character
from the pastor of his church
even our industrial murderers
in this country are usually affiliated
with political parties devoted
to the uplift
the enlightenment and the progress
of humankind
every time i get discouraged
and contemplate suicide
by impersonating a raisin and getting devoured
as part of a piece of pie
i think of our national blessings
and cheer up again
it is indeed
as i have been reading lately
a great period in which to be alive
and it is a cheering thought to think
that god is on the side of the best digestion
your moral little friend

archy the cockroach
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