Sunday, August 14, 2016

August Saturday at the Mollala River

The weekend heats up, 97 degrees yesterday. The house so hot I feel as though I can barely move. Cool waters await somewhere: I call my gal friend, Marilyn. She knows a nice river spot to swim. We drive East on Hwy 213, past the point where I have been before. The land reminds me of the Lower Elwha, where I lived so long ago - 25 years now. Rolling grassland, mountains in the distance, rural countryside dotted with small towns.

The Mollala river has swimming holes and is warm and clean. I stand in the waist deep water on the slimy rocky rocks staring into knotted tree branches on the bottom, watch little fish dart away from my legs. On the shore we munch cheese and crackers, sitting on big warm river rocks. We talk about all that has gone on in the past year, lots for her. She has been in a new relationship which has been emotionally difficult, and it is probably not working out.

"Margi", she turns to me, "I signed up for the Peace Corps!" It is something she had always thought to do, at the point when her kids were well on their way and she could take 2 years out of her life to live far away from her current home.
"I realized", she says, "That time is now!"
 South America is her goal. Her Spanish is excellent, and she has true life experience. I feel so impressed, so deeply happy for her, and on the side know I will miss having her near to hang with. She is one of my most uncomplicated friends. Those are worth more than gold.
My thoughts go to my own wish, from so long ago, to visit South America. It turns out that between the time I wished that, and now, I have developed an extreme dislike of flying. Ah, fate. I should have traveled to South America in college before I went through motherhood, then widowhood.

We pack our things and head west down 213. The game we play is to look for real estate and fantasize. We pass an old 1910 style school house and I say, "I would love to take a building like that, fix it up and use it for a yoga studio."  She is all in support.
Silly ideas, dreams more fun to dream than do. At this point I have 'done' 10 different homes. Why does the new project always seem exciting even after knowing how dirty, expensive and hard the real work is?

We pass the Horseshoe Bar and Grill. We stop. Horse and motorcyle motif, a patio bar, a place where the locals go. We laugh and talk over beers and snacks. The readerboard on the highway says 93 degrees. We are wearing our still wet swimming suits. We are happy.
When she drops me off at my house she says that we played hooky. I agree, yes, we played hooky from life today, and it was a great relief. I am 60 and I still want to play hooky. I will probably always be this way, fantasizing about projects, but resenting the feeling of being tied down.

Before I die, I must figure that struggle out. Maybe, slowly, I am.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Boulevard -Granola Bar

Two and a half year old Kaitlyn and I are riding home on the MAX. The voice on the intercom announces "Bybee Boulevard" .
Kaitlyn listens and looks at me, "What is bovard?" I pronounce bull-a-vard slowly as she repeats it. Fianlly she just turns it to "granola bar".

Her Dad and uncle had these when they were little:

The Spokane (ferrry)  -smoked ham
A Coast guard cutter - a post card cutter
a garage sale - a garbage sale

more to come....

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Comfort of Clarity

When the morning sun back lights the petals
of  your pale lavender iris blooms while we have coffee
in your garden
I slow down into the day, surrounded by your place
Your work, your love, your creation born of a long and loyal
connection to a place.

I drink in the beauty, the light, the
Like a mellow tea
infusing my own despairing soul-
so that one more time I can
drive down the dirt road, back into the fray
and find my way.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Globalization of Indifference

I don't like knocking on the doors of strangers, even if they are my neighbors, but I do. I do because I am worried about my country. I am worried about the future for my grand daughters. I am concerned... I cannot sleep very well when I think. Thinking has become a challenge.

I was born in 1956, 10 years after the second world war.  My father was part of that war. My grandfather made his fortune from that war. My mother, a pacifist by nature said, " What else could be done about Hitler?"

Life was cut and dried for my parents. They sent us to Catholic school, took us to church every Sunday and gave us a warm and loving home. They talked about 'when' we would go to college, not 'if'. As parents go, they get an A-. They were really into grades.

The minus is because they could not see into the future. They refused to bend when the 60's hit, and their 2 oldest kids entered a world which they were ill prepared to understand, much less navigate. Drugs are not the main cause of mental illness, it is far more complex than that. The 2 oldest are still mentally ill. I feel sad for my parents. I have 2 kids and every day I thank the universe that they are not mentally ill.

I ponder the question of mental illness continually. Nature, nurture, drugs, toxic chemicals, environmental pollution, existential many factors in the soup of humanity.  I seek enlightenment, not so that I can become a guru, but so that I can outrun depression and mental illness.  It works,  I can say, yoga brings me to another level. I wish my older siblings had been able to find something to give them peace before the black dog of depression got its final firm intractable grip upon them, and they fell.

The current weird political scene brings the whole metal illness issue forward for me. I watch the machinations, the angry rationalizations, the caustic sound bites. It reminds me of the bad days when my sick siblings were verbalizing. I know sickness from close up. It is a manifestation of something buried deep inside a wounded person. The person does not know how much harm their sickness creates. The wounded person is too narcissistic to have a sense of the whole.

I wish it were possible to beg the world not to fall into the mental illness hole. "There it is". I might say. "Watch out, don't step there-  it is horrible and hard to come away from!" But words are only words. We live in a world of too many overblown, ubiquitous words.

When spring blossoms, the air warms, flowers bloom, I feel the benediction of nature. I thank the sun for browning my skin and sprouting my seeds. I take the children out to feel the world, the woodsy woods and the windy wind. What else can I do? And I still love words, believing they will untangle us from the tangle.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 27

This 27th day of April, and the 27th birthday
you have missed. You would be 62.

Frozen in time, I see you as a Dad
The silly things you would say to the kids,
make them cheesy potato puffs.
Let them swing a hammer alongside you,
Sing them songs and change the words around.
Little kids, your boys.

How much we left behind when
we ran away from that house
where you spent your last night
of life when we were all
so young.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Feeling the Bern on Equinox 2016

My friend and I arrived at the Bernie Sanders rally in Vancouver, Washington. By 9 am on this cool, rainy spring equinox Sunday morning, hundreds, maybe even a thousand people were already lined up in front of the High School Gymnasium building where Senator Sanders was scheduled to speak at 1 pm.

By 11:00 the line stretched across the football fields and wound along a walkway through the grounds. The end of the line was slowly building down the street as we watched. The rain blew in on a cold bluster, but everyone remained patiently waiting.

I waited in line for the porta-potty for 20 minutes and spoke to the 2 young men in front and behind me in the line. I shared my umbrella as we discussed our country, what we love about it and what is not working. I found them to be extremely well informed on the same issues which concern me. It is a relief to speak to people who share the same values. It is invigorating. Especially because this crowd was not negative and outwardly angry.

I followed another volunteer around carrying her box of flyers. We became friends as the morning wore on and the rain continued to fall.

Why would thousands of people do this? Because they are hungry to hear a politician who speaks to them, not at them.

When Senator Sanders arrived, the overflow crowd on the lawn outside was eagerly waiting to see him, even a glimpse. He gave them better. He got up on a dais and spoke for 10 minutes, even as the main crowd of 5000 awaited him inside the Gym. After he spoke outside, he spoke again to the overflow crowd in the lobby of the gym, and then he went into the main event and gave an inspirational address the the 4000 inside the event, the ones who had waited for many hours.(I heard some people camped overnight).

The citizenry is not merely hungry, we are starving. If we can bring our numbers in, the money of the rich will diminish in importance. Our hunger will then be our asset.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Making Sense of Nonsense

I have held off writing about this frustrating and disturbing event in my home state for 21 days now. Tonight the muse moves and I cannot help myself.

An alternate title for this essay could be "An open letter to Ammon Bundy". I don't want to give his name any more press than it has already gotten since he and a gang of gun toting, highly delusional and selfish white men decided to take over a huge, very famous and well loved bird sanctuary.  I don't include him in my title. If, however, I could sit down and  relay my thoughts to him in person (not deluding my self for a minute that he has the ability to listen), these are some of them, censored.

Why do you think you are special? So far I have learned that your father owes 1 million dollars in BLM range fees, and you owe a loan for 500,000 to the government. As it stands right now the cost of your occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge is $133,000 per day. I was never too good at math, being an English major, but I can use a calculator and it seems that your family now owes our country (taxpayers of which I am one)  $5,793,000.00.

Even after seeing the people of Burns, whom you purport to 'represent', beg you, in tears, to leave, you are unmoved. Is it the guns, the religion, or a combination which give you that stoic sense of power? People who need guns to advance their cause have no morals, and no real cause.

You reiterate how your 'way of life' has changed, affected like all occupations by the circumstances of our current times. To understand that everyone is affected by water shortages, land scarcity, outsourcing, corporatization of industries (like the raising and marketing of beef), and many other factors requires a broad perspective.

In case you were not sure, your pain in this is not relegated solely to ranchers and farmers. I have 2 stories to illustrate the economic challenges of working families in the west:

 The first is the image I hold of my young husband falling into bed after a work day lifting a hoe-dad for 8 hours, dead asleep, dirty work clothes and all, before dinner. He was a tree planter west of Port Angeles in 1978. The logging jobs paid more, but the timber had been ravaged to where the Spotted Owl was merely an unfortunate poster child and the loggers were bemoaning their lost 'way of life'. Emotions ran high around the North Olympic Peninsula in those years, but we worked at what we could, raised our 2 children, and tried to improvise into an obviously evolving economy.

After my husband's death at 35,  I worked for an independent bookstore on the Oregon Coast for 10 years.  It was a beautiful store, well run and the recipient of continuous compliments. We watched the profit margin fall steadily every year as big corporate stores, then Amazon undercut our prices. People would come in and take notes on our carefully chosen titles, then go away and order them cheaper somewhere else. By 2003 the doors closed forever, and the owners left with nothing. The world is a mercenary place. Did your Mormon parents tell you that? My Catholic parents did not tell me that. It has a been a long, rude awakening all my idealistic life.

I have read that you have 6 children. I assume your wife has total responsibility for all of them during your male bonding hiatus away from real life. What are your children learning from all the laws you have broken in the past 21 days? Will you be surprised if they end up having no respect for the property of others? What about their school activities and the nurturing they are missing? And, while I am on the subject, why in the world did you have so many kids, especially if you see your calling as being somewhere else besides home? I call that irresponsible.

Given these facts, why do you consider yourself a leader, and why do others? Because you wear a cowboy hat? Because you consider yourself a Mormon patriarch? Because you were raised to 'know' you were destined for a life of privilege?

By this time you must have heard the refrain ... if your gang had a different skin color, or a religion other than Christian, you would have all been taken out by now. There is no way to end this missive, no way for me to go to sleep tonight and feel unworried about the birds I love at Malheur, and the damage you are doling every day. There is no way to address income inequality, corporate oligarchy, the apathy of affluence and the general unfairness of life. You have only made my sleep worse, my prayers multi-faceted : Please God, don't let people with guns rule our world.