Saturday, June 27, 2009

Here a celebration.... there a celebration....

There is sort of a pile up of personal days of importance in our extended family during the last full week of June, in addition to Father's Day.

My parents were married on June 21, 1945, which makes this year their 64th year together.

Pictures of couples who have been married a long time frequently appear in the newspaper when children have special anniversary parties for them. Often they look rather miserable in their pictures. I love how happy mom and dad look. It has been year of triumphs and setbacks for them. My mom takes 3 steps forward in her recovery and then 2 steps back. My dad has taken marvelous care of her.

This is one of my favorite pictures of them, taken within a year or so of their marriage.

My father was in the Navy, and the ship he was sailing on made a brief stop San Francisco for minor repairs. My mother went up to meet him. And there they are, walking down a street in San Francisco. I think it must have been a foggy day. The street looks shiny beneath their feet.

They exemplify to me the Saint-Exupery's line...

Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction
And Anne Morrow Lindberg's elaboration:
A good relationship has a pattern like a dance built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate, but swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart's.

Moving confidently forward.... toward the unknown. They didn't know that over the next 14 years they would have 4 children together....

who would grow up to be these people....

Who would, in turn, fall in love, get married, and produce 4 children...

I would have a son....

My brother would have a daughter (on the left), and then my sister would have two daughters.

And that the last of these grandchildren - Little Hunny, the young woman on the right - would have her birthday on the very day of her grandparents' wedding anniversary. And although it is a bit of a stretch to make this a coincidence, for her 19th birthday celebration she went to San Francisco, without her momma!

And then at the end of the week... yesterday in fact, it was our anniversary.

We have now been married 38 years.

I like another thing Anne Morrow Lindbergh has to say...

We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life, as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.
Some couples grow apart after they marry. I am so thankful that my parents have grown together. I am so thankful Richard and I have grown together. I hope we continue to do so...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

You’ll never guess who I saw...

I’ve seen two celebrities “on the street” so to speak, not in connection with an arranged event, meaning the fact that I saw the cast of Star Trek at the opening of the exhibit at the Wax Museum in Anaheim doesn't count.

The first time was in the early 1980s. We were having dinner in a restaurant in Hollywood with a freelance writer Richard was working with on the magazine he was editing. It was an Italian restaurant, and I was eating linguine and white clam sauce.

Ed Begley Jr and his wife came in and sat down at a booth, kitty corner across from me, so that his wife was facing me. I got to watch as one person after another approached the table to talk to him. She looked around the restaurant; stared off into space. She looked at me. I smiled at her, she smiled back; a bleak sort of smile. Whatever quiet evening they were planning to have together was mostly ruined.

The next celebrity I saw was in the 1990s. We were given a a gift from my parents -- a 2-night stay at the historic Zane Grey Pueblo hotel on Catalina Island, which was Zane Grey's home. We went down to the waterfront to eat, and Ed McMahon was there with some other people. A cruise ship was anchored off shore, and I think he had come off the ship; he probably was the “celebrity in residence” on the cruise. I had enjoyed watching watched him be the sidekick to Johnny Carson for many years. He seemed so much smaller in real life. I stopped watching The Tonight Show before Johnny Carson retired--not because I didn't like it, I was just too tired to stay up that late any more. I had forgotten about seeing him until I saw the announcement that he had died.

I am interested to know if any readers who happen to land here have seen a celebrity, and of so, who did you see?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Of fawns and slippers

Two blogs that I enjoy reading even though I do not always leave comments are Far Side of 50 and Moments of Mine. The blogs of both of these women yesterday brought back some memories that I just want to touch on before I launch into today's work.

Some years ago now, way before the highway expanded into a four-lane, a short county road swept by our house and connected directly with the main highway. Our driveway met the county road about 20 feet from the intersection, which gave us a direct outlet to the main highway. Getting to town was as simple as making a sharp right turn at the end of the driveway.

At that time, I had the contract to clean the post office. That job had flexible hours: I could go in whenever I felt like it, but I usually left every morning very early to the job. It was easier to clean the lobby before post office opened at 8:00. One morning, at about this time of the year, I made the sharp right onto the highway and saw a horrific thing. A fawn, perhaps a bit older than the one so beautifully captured by the camera on Wanda's blog, but still showing some spots, had attempted to cross the road but didn't quite make it. It had apparently been hit a glancing blow by a car and had been thrown onto the shoulder. Although it was still thrashing, it was mortally wounded, and by the time I swerved to pull in behind it, it had died.

I stood there looking at it and watching its eyes glaze over, I cried a bit, and then, without thinking too much about it, I loaded it into the back seat, drove back to the house, and butchered it. There was enough meat for several meals, and scraps for soup and stew.

The conservation department has rules about the disposition of dead deer on the highway and I shouldn't have taken it. But I figured that several hours in the hot sun before the officials got around to sending a truck and picking it up would ruin what little meat it did have. So, pragmatist that I am, I bent the rules a bit.

And then another memory was evoked by Far Side's post of the beautiful Lady Slipper orchids. About 20 years ago - or even farther back than that - someone I had met at the local chapter of the Audubon society (or maybe it was a guy at the District Ranger's office, where I was also the janitor), old me about a spot along a creek where we went swimming where I could find a patch of Lady Slipper orchids. With the directions came a strict warning not to tell anybody where they were. To see them, we had to walk downstream - literally in the stream - for about a mile and then take a small feeder creek to the right, and there on the banks of the creek would be the patch of orchids.

So, the kid and I got on our shorts and our old tennis shoes and we walked down the stony stream, which was not more than waist deep in most spots. Just like the man said, there was a small tributary to the right, and we walked down that, and there, was a marvelous display of the orchids. My son really didn't care about the orchids, he just wanted the trip to the creek. But I was stunned at their beauty. And then we turned around and walked back, which was quite a workout because now were going against the current. And we told nobody what we had seen.

And now I have to collect my thoughts about days of note that are important to our extended family all happening this week and write something brilliant in a few days.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A gift from the sea from father

On the inside cover of the old paperback Judy gave me to read...

Is the following:

July 21, 1974


This is a book that becomes a friend. Its a book you can read and hundred times I feel. It reads so simply and beautifully and yet she shows how an awareness of the world, in this case the sea and it shells, can prompt an increased awareness of inner self and needs.

She seems to blend her roles of wife, mother, and individual into a harmonious whole, just as we strive today.

She writes with a warm woman's heart. I hope you find this book enjoyable.


I do not know if Anne, some 25 years ago, did indeed find this book enjoyable. Eventually, it left her and found its way to Judy, and then on to me. In fact, I can keep it, she says. The book is falling apart at the seams; the cover is no longer attached to pages; the pages are separating from their signatures. She doesn't want it back, and I am welcomed to throw it away when I finish.

I don't read books for the purpose of reviewing them, but if I were to review this book, I'd have to say that Cheryl says it very well. It is an amazing little book, and I will eventually come across one in a used-book store that is intact. I have a feeling that I will be writing about things she says in several more posts to come. And everyone will be thoroughly sick of hearing about the book.

On reflection, I have my own personal gift from the sea. A gift from my father, who I am thinking a lot about because of Father's Day today. I am blessed that he is still alive. I am blessed because he was a good father. I have no childhood stories of neglect or mistreatment or other more subtle forms of abuse that parents can so easily inflict on their children.

I don't have too many tangible things in my possession that can be traced back directly to my father. I have a wooden "Kilroy" figure that used to reside on the visor in the car,

but whose nose and fingers are now hanging over the edge of the burlap where I keep my earrings (no photo of my Kilroy because the computer with the software to download photos from the camera is closed at the moment for repairs).

The item pertinent to this post happens to be a seashell. For many years when I was a kid, Dad periodically donned a rubberized wet suit, got his snorkel and mask, and went skin diving off the coast of Palos Verdes Peninsula for abalone. And he would come home with a burlap bag and dump out the large flat shells with the creature inside. And we ate them. Abalone was very, very good.

Sitting by the sink in our bathroom is a large abalone shell whose occupant we ate for dinner sometime back in the early 60s after my father pried it off its rock. Now it holds the soap that I use to shower with.

A round dark-green cake of soap scented with Maja, a gift from my mother. Maja is a Spanish perfume I was given when I graduated from high school by a next door neighbor who just happened to be from Spain...

Sandalwood soap, brown and fragrant, a gift from my son. A square cake of Lava soap. The men use it to clean their grimy hands, but didja know that Lava soap makes an inexpensive and very good face scrub? In fact, far more gentle on the skin than an "almond facial scrub" product I once used.

Also there is the selection for this month from the set of 12 soaps my mother gave me a few years ago: Cucumber and Green Tree. When July rolls around, I'll put that one back and begin using Mandarin and Coconut.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh used some shells she found on the beach as a launch point for poignant observations about life. So, I have my own little observation about a shell: The outside of the abalone shell is rough and warty looking, and many of the shells my father brought home had shells of other little cone-shaped creatures living on them (limpets?).

The shell has a natural series of holes that make it a good soap dish. The inside is quite a contrast;

It is beautiful, covered with a shimmery mother-of-pearl finish.

The life lesson from this is obvious. I just hope as I continue to progress through life that I can remember to look beyond outward appearances of the people I see every day to the beauty that lies within.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Berries are bery bery good...

On the mornings that we walk the paved frontage roads together, we are tending to leave earlier and earlier. Summer in this lower part of the Midwest is hot and humid; probably not as hot and humid as it can be in other parts of the world, but hot enough and humid enough that one doesn’t want to do much walking once the sun is well above the horizon. The other morning though, it was very a big foggy and very cool and lovely.

Along the right of way, beyond the shoulder of the road, it is basically a no-man’s land

occupied by buried pipelines. It is seldom mowed -- the state doesn't care, and the gas company doesn't care. And nature is tenacious.

Wildflowers of all sorts spring up for a brief time and then vanish again. Many of them are humble plants. Clovers of various kinds...

Red clover

Yellow clover.

Some are used to flavor tea.

The roots of some are ground and roasted and added to coffee.

The roots of others are highly valued as a cure for all that ails you. And plant thieves have a nasty habit of digging them up.

Other than a half-whiskey barrel by the back porch, I am not able to grow intentional flowers at my house. Long story. But I love them. If I were a rich woman

(doooo be doo be doo be doooooo be dooooo be doo be doo be doo)

I would have fresh flowers in a vase every day by my computer. But I am not, and I don’t. Except once in a while. I have no real skill at arranging flowers, just stick them in a vase and enjoy.

Nature does a pretty good job of creating amazing bouquets all by itself, and it doesn’t take too much imagination to create beautiful arrangements in one’s head. We passed a woman the other day who I know to speak to, who was carrying clippers and, indeed, had cut flowers for herself to take home. A few days later, I took clippers and cut one of these...

the last one still blooming, and brought it home and put it in a vase.

And as we near our home, we walk through what used to be the front yard of our closest neighbor. Their house was bulldozed when the highway expanded. However, the yucca plants that used to grow there have shot their white spikes of flowers high into the air.

And then we are on the gravel of our driveway under the canopy of trees... And we note that the black raspberries along side the driveway appear to be getting ripe.

But are they?

So I pick one to see....

And there's the answer!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dinner anyone--just a nosh?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Book Lady -- oh, okay, her name is Judy, has lots and lots of hummingbirds at her house. Only for some reason, there aren't any hummingbirds in the two pictures she just sent me.

Wonder why?

She writes in the e-mail:

Thought you would enjoy these two pictures of a black snake going after our hummingbirds. Charlie bothered him so that he moved away, but he came back in a short time. So then Charlie took him to the pasture behind our house and we haven't seen him for awhile.

And yes, I did enjoy the pictures. I like snakes. I like them a lot. I have watched with horror black snakes oozing into nest boxes on tree trunks and helping themselves to babies in robins nests while the parents unsuccessfully tried to drive them away, but they also eat mice and rats in addition to birds, so I figure they have their place. in nature and deserve to live as much as any other creature. I'll have to remind Charlie that a old pillow case is a good thing to have on hand to when one carries a black snake to a new place to live.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

On the edge...

The Book Lady and her spouse invited this blogging woman and her spouse for dinner. It is one of those fortunate situations where the two women like each other, the two men seem to like each other and are companionable, and even better, the men and the women get along.

We saw some amazing things at their house. Amazing Native American artifacts. An amazing display of aerial acrobatics by at the hummingbirds they feed. A lot of hummingbirds, certainly more than I have ever seen at one time. Book Lady says there are at least 50. I believe her.

And a very amazing book. They have several of these rather special books in their private collection. There is more to certain old books than just the cover. When held the normal way...

these books look just like an ordinary book. But, when held “just so...” some amazing happens....


And remarkably enough, the book with this marvelous edge-painting was the Robert Louis Stevenson book A Child’s Garden of Verses that I wrote about last month...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Hiding in Plain Sight

The cardinal hides her nest in a small shrubby tree....

The kildeer, on the other hand, lays her eggs on the open ground, in plain view of everyone. The arrow marks the spot of the nest so the people who mow the lawn won't crush the eggs.

If you approach too closely, she darts away and pretends to be injured, feigning a broken wing, to attract your attention away from the eggs.

About 30 feet away from the kildeer, is this bare patch of ground. The only reason why we know this is a turtle's nest is that Richard spotted her making it as he walked to church.

I don’t know what this turtle was up too. It seemed very interested in our garage, for some reason.

Even though we don’t lay eggs in nests and sit on them, or dig holes in the ground and then cover them up, I think our homes, the physical structures that we inhabit and rearrange in ways to give us pleasure, serve a very similar function. I am too tired and too pressed for time to write elegantly about this now. The author of a book of meditations on the topic Simple Abundance, which I try to read every day, but often sometimes don’t manage, suggested at the beginning of the month that we need to look at one of the goddesses from the Greek pantheon -- Hestia -- as our inspiration for nurturing the interior spaces we occupy so that our own inner space is nurtured as well.

It was to Hestia that women turned for protection and inspiration so that they might, as an act of worship, transform their dwelling places into homes of beauty and comfort...

I guess Hestia isn’t such a bad sort, but I think I would prefer to do things “as unto the Lord” rather than being motivated by an ancient goddess.

The author got on my last nerve. Her advice came on the heels of Dance of the Dissident Daughter, in which that author goes plowing back through ancient history to find her spiritual feminine self by making pilgrimages to shrines set up to worship a variety of ancient goddesses and engaging in certain rituals -- some of which involve turtles, now that I think about. I think if I read one more piece of similar advice I will be tempted to hurl the book against the wall.