Friday, November 10, 2017

The First Time

The first time you do something,
the elevated senses, uncertain motives, slight nervous fear,
the question, what am I doing here?

Walking, marching in a demonstration
In a foreign country where
you don't completely understand all the words in the chants,
but you try your best to blend your little voice in, and it gets louder as you move
through intersections where the heavy afternoon traffic must stop,
 and your group stays solid,
marching. led by beautiful young people
full of life and so smart too -

For Edward, El professor, hunger strike on day 31, el hambre
sitting in a tent in front of
a huge bank in the financial district of Mexico City.

Fitting analogy for what we feel here on the ground
teachers paid nine dollars a day
Indignatos - the indignant.

And then the journey home, where an airplane always feeling like
the first time and why doesn't it fall out
of the sky  - that blue sky over the streets in the city, and
the mountains which surround it.
I go home, to where I do understand all the words,
too well.
And our own indignant occupy the city streets
trying to use more
than words to give this sad circumstance a name

I am in my kitchen, shelling beans finally after the journey is over.
Planning to teach yoga down in the tent city.

Maybe to satiate my own hunger, hambre.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Burning and Flooding

Right now the air in Portland is white. Flakes of ash float down randomly. The fire in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge has gone from a carefree firecracker 5 days ago to 30,000 acres of wildly burning mountainsides. I cannot even fathom what that means and what it will look like when this fire is finally extinguished.

My throat is raw, my eyes are red and my raspberries are shriveled and burnt. 95 to 100 degree temperatures have halted and changed the garden. For some reason they did not subdue a 15 year old boy from throwing fire crackers into a tinder dry canyon on Eagle Creek.

My city is covered in ash and the air so thick one cannot open windows on a hot summer night. We are captive to this incendiary. We listen to the reports as it grows and we can only pray for rain.

Meanwhile on the other side of North America in the land which we call the US there is a flood washing through Texas and a Hurricane of great magnitude about to run into Florida.

Fires burn all over my beloved state. People in other places have lost homes. The "leader" pronounces that young immigrants will not be provided safe haven. He will build an expensive wall before helping disaster victims with federal funds.

We are a people without a country in the sense that we are floating in a no man's land of uncertainty, capricious capitalism and selfish greed.

There are places one can go to be with sane people. It is a great comfort to go there, meditate in quiet, practice yoga and mindful movement. It is a comfort to be with children who are innocent of this mess. The hope is that they will become aware soon and live a life accordingly, finding ways from fossil fuels and incessant consumption.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Respect for the Ancestral Mothers

Sunday in late August, I go to meditation, then home to can strawberry jam. Today the temperature is 94 and the humidity is high.

I hurry through the mixing, boiling, filling and clean-up with sweat covering me like other farm wives  in hot kitchens putting by the food for the winter throughout time.

It is odd in this time, 2017, to know that I could buy a jar of strawberry jam for about 3 or 4 dollars. It certainly took more than that to make my 5 jars. It took my friend Deanna 18 months of planting and tending her small organic strawberry field. Next came the summer day in June we picked, and I took the berries home and carefully froze them for future use. Then it took procuring and cleaning jars and lids, having pectin and cane sugar, and turning up the burners on a hot day.

The jam is the color of a deep red ruby. The sugar is about 1/3 of what would be in the 3 dollar jar, and it is cane sugar, not beet sugar. Beet sugar is grown with many herbicides and pesticides. So - for my efforts I get a sweet taste of summer in a jar that is mostly fruit and not laden with toxins.

What is this 6 oz jar worth? There is no comparison, there is no way to determine worth. Everyone chooses what they feel is a priority and allocates time accordingly.

 Sweaty as I write, I think of my great grand mother in North Dakota living in a sod house. In summer she must have cooked in her hot little kitchen, or out in the hot air. She was expected to make a pie every day for her husband. She must have canned every thing she could, because that is what farmers did. She had 6 children to help her as they got older, but she was worn out early. She died at  59.

Our ancestral mothers worked so hard, and under circumstances we can barely imagine. They did not have a store full of cheap food to access at will. They sewed the children's clothes, grew the summer garden, put food on the table every day and probably rarely had a holiday. I wonder if my great grandmother ever went to a restaurant.

I have a photo of her on my alter, her beautiful, tired face. Her mouth just barely hinting at a smile. My grandmother resembles her, and I would like to think I resemble them both, and that my grand daughters shape of face can be traced back to them.

In winter when the air is damp and cold, summer only a memory, I will open a jar of ruby red jam and spread it on toast for my grand daughters. They will eat it like candy and we will talk about my friend and the mountain field where the berries were grown. We will savor the pleasure of a special food, lovingly grown and put by. In this I carry the past into the present, I bring my grandmothers into my my grand parenting, enriching my soul, preparing for my own life to be only a history.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Today's revelation:

Making it work every day - Be a conduit, not a barrier.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Fantasy Pet Assignment

My 9 year old student and I came up with a 5 minute timed write where the subject would be our fantasy pet. She wants a gerbil desperately, and has been working her parents for months on the subject.

Writing requires inspiration, so I suggested my young charge use her pet desires as a subject for her writing practice. She was delighted, and got right to it. While she writes, I also write on the same subject.

I set the timer on my phone and put pen to paper, realizing immediately that there is no animal I want to take into my daily life and care for, pay for etc. The fantasy which materialized for me was a cheerful, talented and friendly assistant who could:

Clean my house, weed my garden, cook lovely soups, do my laundry and format my computer as well as do my taxes and tell me good jokes.

My fantasy is that I could pay this person twice the going rate, and enjoy their company more like a friend than an employee. We could talk about books, plan parties, go for hikes, share meals and give me piano lessons.

That is my fantasy 'pet', not really a pet. I have always thought pets need a job, so my fantasy whatever has a job, which pays their bills and gives them a sense of usefulness and then when it is time to move on they have a good reference and I find another person who would like to learn the job.

We could even build a barn together....well, not a barn so much as a studio because I don't want to keep animals. My fantasy animal is a wild songbird who lives in my yard all the time and sings to me every morning.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

First Day of February

I am done, done for the day
a sweet relief washes over me as I sit
back to the fire on a wind chill night.
Stare out the window, into space, as though I could see into the future
What must I do, where must I place my heart
When Valentines Day comes.

I bought a new pitch fork today,
an excellent tool.
It lays outside by my new raised bed, I must go out in the bitter cold
to retrieve it, and soon,
I will have a tool shed, my carpenter is cutting the new clean boards for it now.
I will pay him my tutoring cash.

Inside my shed will go some plants, a chair
to sit in while I stare at my plants when it rains.
Maybe inside my shed will be an altar,
with candles and pictures of Grandmothers, Abuelitas.
There should be flowers and dried herbs hanging about.

Evening, soothing evening light descendes into gloaming
My house is quiet
I eat tuna salad, get my back warm, remember how
the world can be a soft place, even so.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Visiting Sharon

Almost 3 year old Kaitlyn and I run down the long hall at Overlake Terrace Assisted Living Center where my parents, Kaitlyn's Great Grand parents have lived all her life.  We are running, and getting the energy out before her family takes to the road for the 3 hour drive home.

I remember as we run the long hallway, that Sharon lives in this section of the facility. Sharon is one of the first residents I met when Mom and Dad first moved here 3 1/2 years ago. Sharon arranged the real flowers on the dining tables. Sharon is spry and cheerful, she loves to talk about our hometown, Portland. She loves to hear about my life and share her own. We are both teachers and have many things in common.

Sharon disappeared from the regular dining room a few months ago. My Mom said it was her memory. Sharon now has to live in the 'transition' Section. I internally grieved when I realized she would not be around to chat with. She made my visits positive and interesting. I thought of her as a friend.

As Kaitlyn and I run I realize we may find the kitchen area where Sharon sits in the transition area. There she is, and I call her name. Kaitlyn is wearing a pink ballet dress with roses and a full tulle skirt. All the residents turn to look. We go to Sharon and give her a hug. I look into her eyes and ask how she is doing.
 "Hanging in there..." she says with her signature smile. Her eyes light as she watches Kaitlyn bounce around the room. The residents in the room are happy, even as the happiness is tinged with the strange realization that youth is a reminder of age. Yet the residents all light up when they see my little grand daughters. It is as though time stands still, or does not exist. We love what we love, we love life in every form, we savor what this means, to have lived at all, and then to be aware enough to watch the next generations rush ready into the world.

Before Kaitlyn and I return back down the hall, she gives Sharon a hug, and Sharon makes a sound like a person being massaged, a resonant "Oh" sweet with content. My little ballerina and I wave to the room, and walk back through the disguised doors, painted to look like one is entering a garden. We have to find a staff member to put in to code to open them. We return to watch Nama gazing upon Kaitlyn's little almost 1 year old sister Adelyn. My mom, remembering babies, the nine she had. The precious first year when they are vulnerable and rapidly growing, small and adorable.

Our Christmas visit is at and end. We hug the kids and say goodbye. Their Dad, hugs his Nama who held him when he was just born, and then on the first night when he was wakeful. We have our chain, chain of life, time and love. We remember the wonderful times. We remember to look for lost friends wherever they have landed in the world.