Thursday, April 10, 2014

Along came the twins --------------------> : fellow artists willing to play!

Ma (Heang), Jenny, Riley, and Nicholas: co-creators of "Toys don't eat dirt"
An alternative to planting flowers, April 2014.  Slugs and curious onlookers welcome!
Every cool thing needs a flag.

Autographs offered willingly by twins, Riley and Nicholas, nearing 4.

Treasures from my storied life, 1975-2014.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spelling her way in j-o-y

Bill & Nancy pause for a photo at their chest-high raised bed
at the Intergenerational Community Garden at the Lynnwood Senior Center.
Three weeks ago she experienced a stroke.  Today she was planting and marking two short rows of garlic with her soft-spoken partner, Bill.  Next up in their shared day was a round of Bingo with friends at the senior center.  "I can't do the numbers right now, but Bill will h-e-l-p me and we'll …"

Her cheery demeanor and Bill's quiet witness shone like a companion star on this sunny day.  "I can't always find the words I want.  Do you g-a-r-d-e-n too?  We love this place!  We were here for the b-i-d-d-o-n!" She made open scissors with one hand and I got it straight away-- they were there for the ribbon cutting celebration last year when the community garden was officially opened!

Strangers to one another, we shared a mere 15 minutes in the noon sun together and when we parted, our collective joy was palpable.  Nancy tugged off her garden gloves, came around the raised beds, looked me in the eyes and opened her arms.  

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love my life! 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Jeffrey Michael!

Birding on the lane at Windfield Farm, 2008.
He's the only brother I've got and he's enough!  A fierce competitor with a photographic memory, growing up in his wake was not for the faint of heart.  Geo can tell you he had a versatile arsenal of torture techniques which, lucky for me, he practiced mostly on her.  Somehow the extra years between us gave me sufficient cushion in that arena.  Perhaps he favored me a tad for the 'free' money I slipped him when he played Monopoly and I served as banker.  You would of done the same thing; how else could I have justified helping myself to his coin jar to support my candy habit? 

A former school bus driver in Looneyville, WV, Jeffrey turned over his bus route, sold his parcel of land, and headed for the nation's capital for a spot at Georgetown University's School of Medicine.  I'm fairly certain he's a fine family practice doc.  I imagine his patients revere him; I surely did.  Actually, I still do.

He's got a parcel of land once again and has spent many of his days clearing trails, opening up the view of the Blue Ridge mountains, and building his own disc golf course.  This grandfather of four turned 64 today.  He took the day off to play with friends.  He's good at that; playing, and being a friend.  And you can bet all the money I took from him those many years ago that he's about to sit down to a fine home-cooked meal prepared by Janet, his beloved partner of 42 years.  Handcrafted with love key-lime pie will follow. What a day; what a guy!  

Happy Birthday, brother!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Worth the risk

Kris flies.
Risk.  Risk-taking; take a risk.  I know folks who find getting out of bed risky business enough; facing the day, facing our lives; it can disarm us in a heartbeat.  

There are days where I am more willing to step outside the parameters of my life.  And there are moments in those days when I simply go for it, no holds barred.  Sometimes the risk factors are crystal-clear to me; often, though, I see the extent of the risk (in its complexities) only after-the-fact.

By the numbers, now; a short story.  Two women entering Whole Foods at nearly the same time, each pushing 60 years.  A pair of bare legs, that's what I saw.  Buff, muscular, toned.  Sturdy?  Yea, that too.  Four seconds; that's what it took for me to scurry inside and find her gathering a bunch of kale.  My sixth sense said, "Go for it!"

Two points for a take-down.  Nah; I didn't take her to the ground; it was better!  I asked if she was ready for a compliment and said I hoped she would take it to heart as it was meant.  Without hesitation she spouted: "Yes, I am!"  (One point for Jenny!)

"I was coming in the door just behind you when my eyes were drawn to your legs and I got so focused on their beauty and strength, well… I walked right past this (hand basket) and then realized I had to go back and search for the little baskets…"

Now you might be saying to yourself, "Jenny.  Jenny.  When will you ever learn?"  But here's the thing: I have learned.  I've learned that people respond favorably to authentic feedback when it resonates with their heart.  They can sometimes even let go of conventions of what is 'appropriate'.  She was pretty blown away with delight about the whole encounter: what I was doing, what I said; how it was received; how she perceived the need for it today.    

An especially sweet moment was when she said, "I'll have to call my mom and tell her!"  I loved that!  Man, did I love that.  And I hope she does.  I hope she calls her mother, wherever she lives, and doesn't hold anything back.  And her mother-- surely she'll have a few fine words of endorsement too for her fifty-something daughter.  For after all, mother's know about the power of their words.  And how risky it is to use them.  Or not.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The day before she slipped away quietly

Coffee for two, March 15-29, 2013.
Dear Mom,

It's hard to fathom that a year has gone by since we had our final farewell.  I am forever grateful for the privilege of being your daughter.  That still stands.  

How I remember our conversation on March 13, 2013 when Mindy called and passed her phone to you.  The words I spoke.  The breaths you took.  The sounds from your throat.  The way we said 'I love you' over and over in a thousand ways.  The way we looked back.  And then how we stood still in time and let it be enough.

Sending love from my heart,
Your Jenny

Monday, February 24, 2014

A lost love found

In step: Bill and Geo find their groove after 40 years.
He entered her life in the early 70s when Georgie was a mere 20 years old.  The courtship months were short as I recall, each going their own way and, with time, stepping into marriages with new partners.  He carried her in his heart from the day they first met, even as he built a life without her.

She welcomed the occasional letter over the years, but that was the extent of their contact.  Both left their marriages and navigated new relationships. Georgie had a steady partnership spanning nearly 22 years.

Winds shifted.  Embers got sufficient air to fan the flame once more.  She found him via social media and they exchanged pleasantries.  In June, they met face to face for the first time in several decades.  Time stopped.  And then it began again.

This week, news arrived that they will exchange wedding vows in late summer at Windfield Farm, home to our dear aunt and uncle; home to Georgie, and soon, home to Bill.  We are over the moon with joy!

What can be said about love?  How does the passage of time change us, strengthen us, and open our hearts to what resides there?  I can live with the mystery; I can live with the miracle.  And, so it seems, can they.