Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Eight Days A Week

I just finished watching Ron Howard's incomparable film, "Eight Days A Week". By the time I'd reached the very final credits which had a voice over of the Four Beatles doing a little note to the fans at the end of 1963, I could do nothing but burst into tears.

Do you remember Beatle bubble gum trading cards? My girl friends and I played with them in  1965-66. There was Beatle magazine, which we were mad for. I was 10 in 1966. I recall telling someone that 10 was the best year, that I loved being 10 years old. Part of that had to do with the Beatles. We were deeply infatuated for Paul and john were our first loves.

As I watched the fpour grow up in the film footage so artfully interspersed with interviews of some of my favorite people who also loved them, I felt keenly again my own youth as well. In those years we were all so young, and we loved love. Idealism was taking hold in a visceral way for me. I was forming myself in relation to the world.

The movie never went further than their last rooftop concert in  London, before they disbanded as a group. How wise of Ron Howard, how terribly, sadly wise. For what happened later to John and George is a sickening commentary on mass culture and the collateral damage of fame. 

But, back to my tears, for my first loves, for the guys who refused to play to a segregated audience in the 1965 American South. To the guys who grew their hair and gave a generation of men the invitation to break out. To the young men who smiled with such authentic good will and treated their fans with courtesy and easy humor. 

My gut reactions to the film - still teary eyed. Not sure what to do next. Not sure where that love and art has gone, not recognizing the world I thought it was when I was 10.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Walking Meditation

Late May this year is giving us warm days with that soft moderating touch of Marine air. Sitting inside to meditate makes less sense than going to the Springwater Trail to walk and clear my mind.

The small shortcut trail is becoming obscured by wild clematis and blackberry vines trying to reach in even after I performed some snipping a month or more ago. 

The sides of the ravine explode in blackberry and clematis, not the pretty garden kind. I let me mind release judgement about that condition as my first practice. Then I begin noticing. 
I see a mile post sullied by graffiti stickers. I bend closer to determine that I can remove them with my fingernail. Yes! I am able to remove 2, leaving the marker looking again as it should. I decide this is part of my practice.

Then as if In reward I see a group of school kids, about 5th grade, down at the creek with little nets. They are studying bugs. Another group is removing shiny geranium invasive weed. I have pulled that weed here myself. It is very satisfying to see the difference. I am so happy these kids got out of the classroom today.

The springs bloom out of the hillside here and there. One of them was my grandmother's which we revered immensely as children. How absolutely rich to have one's own fresh water spring, cold and clear bubbling magically from the earth. 

Further along the trail I walk behind 2 young girls and one young adult woman accompanying them to the restrooms. One girl has dark curly hair and dark skin, the other has red hair and fair skin. The woman is yet another hue, not white. This makes me happy. They are having an easy conversation, a carefree saunter on a warm morning. I talk a bit to them at the restroom. The woman is a college student at PSU majoring in environmental studies. She is there volunteering to help with this elementary school field trip. 

One little girl asks her if people live here, where the picnic tables surround the restrooms. The woman says no. The girl points to a cart with blankets and a pillow stowed under a table. Explaining the homeless  situation to children is very weird. It reminds me of a walk downtown one day with my 4 year old grand daughter. She saw a tent set up in the middle of the sidewalk on a main street right there in our beloved "Downtown" which were we refer to from the Petula Clark song. Kaitlyn asks what it is, and I tell her it is a tent. I brace myself for the next question, but thankfully she hasn't gotten to that point yet. I wonder what I will say. 

I reach the busy intersection, where a bridge crosses Johnson Creek.  Right below the bridge still lies the big, clunky and now obsolete computer modem dumped there a few days ago. I use my practice to try not to be angry. Thankfully, there are hundreds of volunteers who show up for the Johnson Creek Watershed Clean-up every summer. I attended last year and found it astoundingly informative, as well as gratifying.

There is a huge peach colored rose bush visible on the edge of smaller Errol Creek around the corner. I wish I had a clippers, I would love a few of those blooms. Bushes left from the gardens of the homes which have been removed to restore the wetland.

I make a loop and begin the return home. Along the way I am able to remove 3 more stickers from signs on the trail. One said "There's no government like no government." Seemingly placed there by someone who certainly takes advantage of a beautiful trail which exists because of our government. It is stuck on too hard for my fingernails to do much, but I manage to remove the word like. Now it reads , "There's no government, no government."
I am pleased with the irony. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Way a Peony Opens

Watching the little round balls of peony bud
Just that slight glimpse of color between the green coverings
fuschia color mine..

 Today -  it began the slow burst.
The petals ruffling just a hint out of the tightly balled bud
The flower will slowly become 5 times the size of it's home
 voluptuous in it's excess - wet, feathery, fragile, short lived
hanging on it's stem wondering.
We watch for the bees to become enamored.

The way a peony Opens.

Friday, February 9, 2018

1962 - My Family Gets a Television

Our first TV was a living room grade console style.  I remember feeling grown-up because I could sound out the name 'Magnivox'  on the lower right hand corner, gold letters over the brown/gold weave of the speaker covering, like on the old radios. The whole thing was encased in dark stained wood, perched on little splayed legs which rested there on our gray wool living room carpet.

I was 6 when we finally got the thing that it seemed to me everyone else already had. It took a while for my Dad to make the move into this future, the likes of which none of us could know.  For the first few years it stayed in the living room until we all decided it should go downstairs in the play room. Probably after my brother read 1984 in High School, and we knew that this thing should never become the bad kind of 'big brother' controlling our house more than we could control it.

Before our own set I had gone to my friend's home to watch the 3 Stooges, Red Skelton, Bugs Bunny cartoons, Captain Kangaroo and Romper Room. I relished my afternoons at the Dickenson's, released from the oppressive tedium of Catholic elementary school. I loved the comedy, and I remember we laughed so much, in between shows or playing at applying DeAnn's Mom's red lipstick, or collecting pop bottles to take to the corner store to buy candy. That Rocky Road, unbelievable.

In these years my parents were preoccupied, over worked, over whelmed with their mission to produce and support as many little Catholics as "God chose to give us". That meant God chose to have me changing diapers as soon as my little hands could work a safety pin.

So, the TV. I digress. The really early memory of what we saw on the Magnivox was John Kennedy's Funeral procession. The hymn played was a dirge which made me sob at 7 years old. Even when I hear it now I choke up. The blow to us was like a sucker punch. He had kids my age. He was so young, handsome, articulate. Even as a little kid I could see that. We had met him in person when he was campaigning in 1960. He stopped into the Salem fairgrounds, which was 5 blocks away from our house. Our neighbor's sister worked in his press corps so our group got introduced. My mom shook his hand and he commented on her "lovely children".

Our sadness at his death had no words.

So when, on February 9, 1964, the Beatles played on The Ed Sullivan Show, and I had a teen aged sister who was hip enough to know when that would be so that we were all sitting in that little living room watching history, well our hearts began to heal.  We thought, especially the girls, that we would explode with happiness. It wasn't until years later that I realized this was my 8th birthday. What a day, what a gift! Four smart, handsome, funny, talented young men with adorable accents singing us love songs and dance music. They were sent from heaven.

Fifty Four years later I can still feel the eight year old shy kid who saw the world begin to open up on the TV screen. I can still feel the sadness of loosing a man we loved, like a member of our family. I can still remember that sense of being so full of excitement at seeing rock music played by young guys so darling that I understood why all those girls were screaming. It wasn't for love, it was for letting go. It was for the enormity of the future opening up to mystery, and then it was still so full of promise.

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.