This is my blogger friend Brian’s offering for today. He’s alone this weekend in case anyone wants to run over there and check on him ha ha. Oh, and as is the case every day, the pictures he digs up by way of illustration make things even funnier. Go here to see the site and start your day with a chuckle.
He calls this one Beyond the Horizon
Z and I just celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary, last weekend.
Yeah….Go figure…right?Time flies.It seems like only yesterday that the judge lifted that restraining order.And like any couple that’s been legally entangled for more than 3 decades—illegally for nearly another before that—it’s only natural to want to stretch your legs and look for new adventures beyond the horizon, just to see whatever else is lurking out there.At least that’s what Z told me.And who am I to argue.No one that’s who!Again…at least that’s what Z told me.She was kidding of course.Of course….But she did ask me to drive her to the airport yesterday.She’s making her yearly pilgrimage to Chicago to visit relatives.Hers, I believe.Which, once again, leaves me on my own for a few days to ponder the big picture.To be honest, I’m not even sure where this huge picture that suddenly appeared in the living room came from.Z says she didn’t buy it.I know I didn’t buy it.But there it is…this big picture, left behind for me to ponder.As if I didn’t have enough pondering to keep me busy.Like what’s the best way to make sure I don’t throw the wet laundry in the oven again this year.Or forget to close the refrigerator door.Actually that’s an unfair characterization…I didn’t really forget to close the refrigerator door.I did it on purpose.I just thought it would save on snack preparation time, between innings of the ball game.And it did.Despite the fact that everything had a funny taste to it.And the neighbor’s dog got in through the side door—which I actually did forget to close—and ate all the cold cuts, plus, whatI believe was leftover rigatoni.But hey, live and learn…right/?And what better time to navigate the learning curve other than when you’ve got a few days to yourself to experiment.Anyway, like I said, I’m fending for myself the next few days.And when you’ve been living with the same person—minus the 90s—for over 30 years, there’s a bit of an adjustment.But not all of it is bad.For one, I don’t need to shower everyday…why would I?Or shave…ZZ top, bottom and sideways will have nothing on me.
I don’t even need to change my clothes…who’s gonna know?Okay, the pizza delivery guy, but is he really gonna risk losing that extra buck I throw him at Christmas.I don’t think so….I’m also thinking of taking my Jell-O sculpting to the next level.I don’t want to give too much away…but think big, like in Big Top big.And of course this gives me the opportunity to get back into my alternate treadmill redesigns.So I have enough to keep me busy….at least through Saturday.Sunday, I might look into lawn coloring…not sure.And Z’s closet looks like it could use some straightening…maybe even some thinning.That would be a nice surprise wouldn’t it?I can’t wait to see the look on her face when she sees all that extra space….Okay…gotta go.The goldfish delivery guy is here.
Any big effort takes its toll and we sure made a big effort for the dinner we gave Tuesday night, even if it was of the potluck kind
It was enough of an effort so that at 1am Wednesday morning I woke and thought “My life is out of control! I can’t do all this anymore! “
Then I fell back to sleep. not to wake again until woke 5am when Old Dave turned on the lights so he could his Robert Jordan book.
“Hey!” I said. “It’s still night!”
“No it isn’t,” he said. “Look outside.”
I looked outside and he was sort of right: the birds were zooming around like madmen and the sky was coral.
“Yeah but come on! 5am? Go to the Insomnia Room!”
That’s what we call the room across the hall that we use for company.
“You go to the insomnia room,” he said mildly.
“I’m in the sleeping-room, where people sleep! You’re the one trying to do the outside-the-box thing.”
Then we both fell back asleep and next thing we knew it was 7:35.
I haven’t slept until 7:45 since maybe Fifth Grade. When I opened my eyes and leaped from the bed, I strapped on my anxiety without even asking myself if I needed it, staggered to the coffee maker, ran the water for my bath and didn’t come truly awake til I stepped into it.
From the tub I can see a slice of sky, which by then was the color of Heaven itself, and perceived that maybe, just maybe, just for today I could, if I were brave enough, let Time float me on her gently lapping waves.
And so I did.. The sky stayed that heavenly blue until almost noon so after my 10:00 appointment I stopped at my favorite pond here and just looked at the water.
It calmed me so much I just had to take this picture. Is there another month like the month of May, even with these blizzards of pollen filling our nasal passages and coating every surface? I don’t think so, no. May , with a coltish wind upon the water. Ah, May….
And I lifted that all-seeing eye of a TV down off its table and hid it in behind.
Also moved the rugs back in.
CIrcled the furniture around the perimeter of the room so we can all see one another as is the custom when this group reads aloud a play by Shakespeare, (though tonight we’re just taking a close look at a scene with Prince Hal from Henry IV Part 1.)
We’re only focusing on the one scene partly because we also have to vote on some changes in the bylaws of this near-150-year old group known as the Old Cambridge Shakespeare Association; but mostly we make the formal part of this last-meeting-of-the-season short so we can enjoy a ‘collation’, the lovely old word for eats.
We have shifted to more of a potluck menu in these last few years but because of the way I tend to do things, I have arranged to have enough food for all 28 people just in case..
We have Chicken Breast Supremo, 48 little cranberry-and-herb stuffed pincushiony creations with cream sauce on top. (I ordered these and will pick them up later). Also a platter of Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese and Capers (ditto). Alsoa vast vat of Beef Provencale that I spent the whole weekend cooking.
And David, who is like me in these ways, bought a case of wine.
Because the custom really is not to eat until we have dug into the meat of Shakespeare’s words, we will hold off on the main meal until 7:30 or so, but since I also can’t stand to think of anyone hungry I believe I’ll ladle the beef dish into a couple dozen adorably mini ‘tureens’ and offer them right away as an amuse-bouche. That’s a thing you get in your upscale restaurants, the amuse-bouche. They don’t charge you for it. It’s just a free little something at the start of the meal that the chef presumably had a bit of fun putting together that day in the kitchen.
I certainly had a bit of fun arranging this event. (I think picking and arranging the bouquet of lilacs was the best fun. Such fragrance! Such abundance!)
And tonight, knowing myself, I will drink half a glass of wine, help myself to whatever potluck dish looks to be begging for attention, laugh, marvel, learn from these amazing co-members and then finally fall into bed and sleep like the dead.
And now one of my favorite songs from “As You Like it,” to set a nice tone for the day. I had to sing this solo at one night’s reading of a play. I was an absolute wreck about it – until others began joining in, because, great group that this is, they all knew it by heart, words and music and the joy beneath the words.
We’re having a major ‘thing’ here this week night so I decided a month ago that I’d better fix the place up.
The living room has remained untouched since 1989 when we hung this wallpaper that still makes me happy every time I walk in there. I mean we clean and all and I guess we’ve re-covered some of the couches and such but still: there was a real time-capsule in the room and that time capsule was:
For behind the many books which I took out one by one, and dusted and recategorized I found a many vintage items:
There was an ornament imprinted Baby’s First Christmas, 1976.
There was the primitive musical instrument known as the recorder, often offered to school kids for their first attempt at music making. I remember begging my kids to practice on this fiendish stick and then having to stifle a scream as they began doing it. Even today when I picked it up and played Cotton-Eyed Joe on it, I felt jolt of electrical current worming up my spine.
There was a video on the Anatomy of the lower torso dating from my two year study of Anatomy.
And finally there was a wee piece of paper that fluttered down as I removed the books. It was clearly written on a typewriter and it appears to date back far further in time than 1989. Its message: ”I wish to borrow this book and will return it in one week.”
And here they all are, together.
And here is the Pelvis, for your pleasure. Oh and an old timetable, aslo found…
But where are the children who played these recorders? Where is that baby from the Bicentennial? And now that I think of it , reminded by this wee strip of paper, where in tarnation is my copy of Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants that I lent to I’m-not-sure-who 18 months and have not seen since?
So much is lost along the way – sigh. Later today I’ll be putting the room back together but for now I think I’ll comfort myself with watching my nice Anatomy video.
This in honor of the recent birthday of my youngest, seen here in Fifth Grade, impersonating America’s tubbiest President, William Howard Taft.
For a while there, we were in danger of some real solemnity in this family; of growing downright grave what with practicing the quieter virtues. We had two children at first, both females, and I can tell you we all floated along on a great river of calm.
Even when a third child had come and was, of all things, a boy, we still moved with tranquility, and for a while the baby seemed to do so too – until the day at about 12 months old when he stood up in his crib and began hollering to his stuffed animals. A certain vividness surfaced for us all then; and quiet understatement went down for the third time.
This little boy’s grandmother had been a wise-guy and we all loved that about her. She died when this third child was only three so he doesn’t remember her.
But I found myself calling my sister not much more than a year after her death. “I know this sounds weird, but I think Mom’s back!” is what I told her. Because this third child was a happy little wise-guy himself, and brought to the once-peaceful supper table of family life a level of hilarity we never would have predicted.
He fancied toilet plungers as a First Grader, and when, at the hardware store, he saw a display of very small ones, he cried out with joy and began promptly applying them, with great sucking sounds, to his ears, mouth, and bare tummy. He asked for half a dozen for his birthday.
He told us in Fourth Grade that the teacher said they would need string for that night’s homework.
“What if we have no string?” he asked her. “Use dental floss,” she replied, setting herself up for it. “I can’t,” he answered with mock-sadness. “My family doesn’t believe in oral hygiene.”
We dreaded the next parent-teacher conference.
Around this same time, he got a new jacket imprinted, as these jackets often are, with our town’s name. The nice man helping us pointed out that with so many jackets alike, it was a good idea to have his name stitched on the sleeve.
“OK!” he agreed readily “Only have it say ‘Fatty,’ he added, and three grownups could not talk him out of it.
At this point he was four foot eight inches tall and weighed 72 pounds. Every spring at his yearly checkup, the doctor would say, “Due for a growth spurt soon!’ And every year he would look ironically over at me.
But while we awaited this famous growth spurt, we had some dandy fun.
I recall the time he pulled some hair our of my hairbrush, glued it to his bare chest, sauntered into the living room and said in a theatrically deepened voice, “Dad, I’d like to use the car tonight.”
When he finally turned 11th, I remember we got him everything but more toilet plungers – and also a cake reading “Happy Birthday, Fatty.”
Of course he insisted on being the one to light its million candles; then rushed into the darkened next room and made us march in with it, singing.
“What did you wish?” one of his sisters asked after he blew out the candles.
He wouldn’t say - some things are serious, after all – but I knew what I wished: that night. I wished we could rewind the eleven years and run them clear through again.
And the 11 years that followed them too. Ah, those years too.
So what do people say when you ask what makes them feel safe? I asked that question here Tuesday and the answers were great:
A person named Joan spoke of walking briskly by the seawall on a foggy morning and hearing the foghorn. Also the sound of rain beating on the windows at night. Times like these she says she feels “safe and at one with nature.”
She wrote this the second time she posted a comment about that post.
The first time she spoke of morning coffee and gazing at the flowers in the garden window. That and brushing her dog Angel, and “that ridiculous fluff of a tail.” (I love that last part.)
Another person named Michael called up the memory of seeing Isaac Asimov being interviewed on the Tonight Show. To Carson’s question about his personal vision of the future, Asimov replied: “I see the immediate future, the short term, as very dark indeed. But long term, I think the future of humanity is glorious. Unimaginably glorious. Provided we can survive the next century or so.” Consequently, he writes he doesn’t have to contend with the same uncertainty that the madness around us stirs up. ‘It’s not that I don’t feel fear or sadness or anger, just that I don’t have that underlying “what the Hell is happening?’ anxiety to compound it.” What a gift to have such faith! (You can see more of Michael’ s comment on this page.)
And a third person named Morgan wrote her reply in an email and spoke about the second go-round of a course on Mindfulness that she is taking. She said that for her the absence of anxiety was enough to make her feel safe.
I sure get that. When I first wake up in the morning anxiety floods all through my body, I think because I began forming a habit of overwork the summer I was 14 I have still not been entirely able to put down, even all these years later.
But lately I have begun the practice of lying on my back with my head hanging off the edge of my bed, as per my chiropractor’s orders. In this wonderful batlike pose I can look out the window at what the rising sun is doing to the trees across the street. I can see the clouds. I can watch the planes coming in to land at Logan Airport. And best of all I can see the birds.
These birds rise and swoop, rise and swoop and they lift anxiety from me every time. ‘It’s a new day,’ I tell myself then, ‘and I’m waking in a world whose sun rose with no help from me at all.’
Then I begin to feel calm. Calm and safe too in this world not of my making.
I often wish I had a dog with a big fluffy tail like the sweet drooly Golden we had as children but until I can get one, or walk again along a beach, or hear rain on a roof, and await that unimaginably glorious future Mr. Asimov saw so clearly, this will have been enough. This will have been more than enough.
I said I would post a picture of the two-year-old grandson who told me, “Don’t worry! I’ve got you!” as I was carrying him down a set of icy stone steps. (See Monday’s post here.)
That remark held so much within it, how could I fail to remember it always?
It’s not that a little child like that was trying to look out for me, this giant adult who was, after all, carrying him bodily through space.
It’s more the metaphor of it; the idea, subtly suggested, that although we can never save ourselves from harm or elude fates as grim as the ones that have befallen or could have befallen people in Minnesota, Cleveland and Boston, we CAN save others. We can.
Strangers and bystanders.
All of us. And we do it all the time.
But how did this little child know that? I think it must have been the wisdom of God himself shining through him.
Maybe what you need is this soft focus you see in little David here, in this picture take two years after our halting journey down those icy steps. It’s the softer focus that lets us see not just the things that are right before us, but the things a little farther off, and hidden almost from our sight.
All this talk in the media about feeling safe enough – even my own talk here yesterday on the Huffington Post – has me wondering: what do most of us do to feel safe in a day-today way?
I don’t mean what do we overtly do, like put on a hazmat suit or never cross a bridge. I mean what we do to feel safe inside, the way we felt when we were little kids in overalls sitting on the floor in front of Captain Kangaroo, or watching dust motes circle lazily in the empty dining room when the sun painted the whole room gold?
If I were still a high school English teacher and you were my students, I’d make you all sit on the floor in a circle and have you make a quick list right now, of three things that make you feel safe in this cozy old way.
What would you put on it? I’ll mull this over today, and see what I myself can come up with by morning.
It now seems a world away from this blooming time, that winter’s day when I was trying to carry my three-year-old grandson down the set of stone steps that lead from our driveway. This is a picture I took that morning from our kitchen window.
“We just need to be a little careful here,” I said to him. To descend any steps is to execute a carefully calibrated series of movements that amount to a controlled fall, I knew; but I wanted to be sure that each ‘fall’ in this case really was a controlled one…
And so I hesitated at the top.
“Are you OK, TT?” the little boy asked. He calls me TT
“Oh yes!” I said as cheerily as I could. “I just want to good and careful!’
He gathered the fabric of my jacket into his small fist then and uttered a sentence I will never forget.
“It’s OK,” he said. “I’m holding you.”
And that is one story.
Another story unfolded during a flight I recently took on a plane holding just 67 people, as I heard the flight attendant report to the people at the gate.
Sixty- seven souls, as they used to say once.
A near-full plane with only 67 passengers is a small plane by most standards, its cabin so cozy I could hear everything that that man five rows in front of me was saying to this flight attendant.
“So this is First Class!” he began, and that got my attention because it’s just what I was thinking: I too was in First Class for the first time, because the airline put me here for no extra money.
I felt like a sort of impostor, I’ll admit. I felt a little uncomfortable.
Maybe the man felt uncomfortable too, I thought, because his voice had a strange constricted quality, which the flight attendant had to lean in close to hear.
“What about this wind shear you’re always hearing about?” I heard him ask, and you don’t have to say that phrase twice to get my attention, wind shear being that sudden downdraft of air that can pull a plane right out of the sky; that did pull a plane out of the sky recently, causing it to belly-flop into the sea while attempting to land at an airfield in Bali.
Time was, I saw commercial flight as a tame and snoozy thing compared to the space flights we were all reading about back then.
It was, in my mind, like a ride on a Ferris wheel, a sort of sublime lifting-up where you got the chance to sit back and view the whole park.
I don’t feel that way about air travel now – and, clearly, this man didn’t either.
“Never mind wind shear, what about gravity?” I heard him say in an even tighter voice. “How can planes NOT get sucked down out of the sky every day?”
It was then that I realized: This was the man’s very first airplane flight –which is why the flight attendant had put him up front near her.
She had put him there to look after him.
“It’s OK,” she intoned softly. “It’s ohhh-kay” she repeated, her hand on his shoulder.
“I’ve got you,” she said, and the phrase took me right back to that winter day and the fear I had at the top of those icy steps, with my little grandchild in my arms.
She was holding him, just as that child felt that he was holding me, even as I knew that I was holding him.
We are all holding one another in this life. We are all keeping each other safe; and we do have the power to do that, as we are taught again and again in this life.
I reposted it here just now. I can tell you it well worth the read.