Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A letter from Maude of Autumn Morning

Surrogate mother, Miss Delilah Lopez,
with her puppies, Harold and Maude, Dec. 2000.
Dear Delilah,

You might not remember when Harold and I first came to live at your house, but I do.  We were just a tiny bit bigger than you, but you were the elder and took us in with great tenderness.  Back then, Harold and I used to take naps together in one kennel, and you held vigil by climbing on top and resting while we slept inside.  Then one day, you crept in cautiously through the open door and nestled in with us.  

You've been such a dear companion all these years, and I just want to say thank you.  Today is my 12th birthday.  Harold, dear boy, would have loved the warm egg treat this morning and the beef chew after dinner.  And he would surely join me in barking a big woof of gratitude to you!

Yours in blissful joy,

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A brother's gift

Sun and shadows,
Milton Valley Cemetery,
Josephine City, VA
Sunday Outings

Even then,
I knew it was wrong
to clamor across the parched lawn
like stray dogs,
pausing here and there
to investigate
and yield to the forces
of nature,
even those set aside for humans alone.

Yet I would never have traded
our clandestine exploration
for anything,
even the elusive gift
of time with her,
where she might choose to look into our eyes
and see the yearning,
the longing for so much more
than what she willingly provided.

Did you tremble too, settling in behind the wheel,
driving us from church to cemetery
releasing us to that mysterious landscape?

Rebels, young and restless.
Free, free, free.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Written and spoken words: Roosevelt Whole Foods

Alderwood Mall out and proud.
Democrat or Republican, pray tell?
Bumper stickers spotted in the underground parking lot:

"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me."
                                                         -Hunter S. Thompson

"Be true.  Be kind.  Be BRAVE."

Family of three shopping:
Mother: "Shall we get the curly kale or the dino kale?"
Girl child: "I like EVERY kind of kale mommy!"
Boy child: "I don't want it in my lunch box."
Mother: "Do you like the little potatoes?"
GC: "YES!  The purple taste the best... and the yellow."
BC: "Can I get out of the cart?"

Seattle, there is much about you to love!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Partners in health

Ginny Douglas, revered friend, expresses her delight at
the fine selection of organic produce at the farmer's
market in Ballard during the Komen 3-Day walk, 2012.
Meet Ginny: avid gardener, much-loved grandmother, devoted spouse, passionate lover of life, wise woman with a kick-ass sense of humor, compassionate friend, and relentless Susan G Komen 3-Day walker.  Since the day we met in 2007, I've been inclined to believe pretty much everything she says.  She's no preacher, trust me; it's more a reflection of a lifetime of wisdom paired with fine intuition and a positive spin on, well---everything.

  So it was that back in July, seeking a greater sense of health and well-being, that she began eating The Abascal Way.  Her spouse, fondly known as the The Big Guy (read 6'3" overgrown kid with a passion for softball), got on board soon after when he recognized his spry spouse had more sustained energy levels, less joint aches, was dropping unwanted weight, and generally feeling damn fine on her new eating plan.  He said "so long" to those pizza and hotdog lunches at Costco and joined Ginny on her quest for health, soon experiencing his own fitness and health transformation first-hand.

Fortunately, joy loves company! As Ginny waxed on about her improved health, a few of her buddies got drawn in with their own best intentions, and I'm one of them.  I'm in my 4th week on the anti-inflammatory diet and could not be more pleased with the results.  My energy level is more sustained, I'm sleeping better, the lingering plantar fasciitis is gone, and I feel more positive and optimistic about my health and life in general.  I'm 11 pounds lighter and am completely delighted with the delicious food I'm preparing and eating.

Kudos to Kathy Abascal for her wisdom in piecing together an eating plan that is, in fact, a way of life.  And Ginny, my dear, thank you for your friendship and steadfast support that now includes recipe tips from kale to kraut.  How you can be both a free radical and an antioxidant is a mystery to me!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Remembering Faith

Ordinary time: Faith and Nadya soak up summer sun
on Bowen Bay Beach during cousins weekend, 2008.
Your presence among us is as strong as ever, dear Faith, made manifest through acts both common and miraculous.  There remains much to love, revere and cherish amid the palpable loss.  Today, one year since your passage, I offer a deep bow of gratitude for the gift you were to all of us, and for the blessing we continue to receive from your unwavering spirit.  

Peace like a river, my sweet girl.        

Monday, October 15, 2012

Get your groove on!

Combining passions.
Lap swimming is one way I have long enjoyed moving my body and freeing my mind at the same time.  Today was a tad different as the view down under involved some steady traffic.  Though it lacked scuba-equipped cyclists, it did include two individuals making their way back and forth on the pool bottom for a full 30 minutes.  

One gent had a particularly structured approach, bending his knees, extending his arms and pushing off, then drawing his arms in close along his sides and following the contour of the pool floor from one end to other.  He seemed rather keen on trying to get as close to the bottom as possible and used his entire body to propel himself like a halibut with grace and ease.

The other fellow, one I see each time I swim at the Lynnwood Pool, prefers a surface dive from the deep end, cork-screwing his way straight to the bottom then floating back up with minimal effort, letting the water carry him skyward as he relaxes.  In parallel lanes, they met at the shallow end and shared some brief conversation before resuming their respective underwater exercise.  I wondered if they touched on their mutual pleasure of water play, bottom-feeder style.

As for me, it's all part of the grand experience.  Over, under, through; floating, stroking, descending, ascending; diving, jumping, rolling, and the grandmother of them all, underwater tea parties

Friday, October 12, 2012

A library that never closes

 Friday Books, our local Little Free Library.
This lovely neighborhood gem appeared recently at the foot of the hill on 214th and 36th and I am over-the-moon with delight!  I first read about little free libraries earlier this year and loved the notion of building, installing and overseeing a small collection of books for the taking from a curbside location.  Often erected in memory or honor of a loved one, this one, Friday Books, honors the memory of the owners' parents, who instilled in her a love of reading.  It also honors the students she teaches who, after 4 consectutive days of selecting "just right books," have the unbridled joy of choosing any book their heart desires on Friday.

Yesterday I stopped by and selected this enticing jewel.  The kettle is hot, the tea is steeping, and the dogs are nestled nearby as rain returns at long last after an extended dry spell.  

It's a perfect day for reading and for hats---and it's a Friday to boot!  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ten notable things on 10/10

  • One casual lunch with Reilly, on the day before his 24th birthday
  • Two Brittany Spaniels giving and receiving love from dawk to dusk                                                                       
  • Three colorful pumpkins gracing our porch
  • Four Paul Robeson songs filling my car with sweet music
  • Five loved ones sharing their grace with me
  • Six delicious vegetables on my dinner plate
  • Seven sites of inspired sound installation by doctoral candidate in music composition Abby Aresty
  • Eight days until the 1 year anniversary of Faith's passing
  • Nine different bird songs heard in the arboretum
  • Ten years since I've weighed less that 138

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Autumn splendor

This is what I would have seen had I gone hiking with Sheryl today!  Instead, I spent the day in the jury assembly room in Snohomish County Superior Court.  

Oh, the injustice of it all!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Collaboration unleashed!

On Saturday night we gathered in darkness near the fountain at Seattle Center, a group of strangers standing in wait to experience Underbelly, a site-specific project created in collaboration with the Degenerate Art Ensemble (DAE) and Olson Kundig Architects.  As one of 25 juried visual, performing, literary, and media art projects of Seattle Center's next 50, Underbelly crossed my radar here in suburbia because Reilly is a member of the ensemble.  Some have told me, "You need to get out more."  In this case, I'm glad I did!

DAE's website is currently under repair due to hacking, but I encourage you to visit it in a few weeks when things are up and running again.  A big shout out to Reilly for his dedication, devotion, and artistic vision in his work with DAE: you make me proud son!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Finding our voice

It was a song of sorts that I heard as the dogs and I made our way across the school grounds, and as he approached from the rear with a heavy footfall, the musical offering became clearer.

"It's nice to hear someone singing," I offered with a sideways greeting.
"I'm rapping."
"Yeah, I can tell.  I didn't get the actual words but it sounded great."
"It helps me; I live in a foster home; I had a rough childhood--- my own mother abused me."
"It's good that you found a way to express yourself."

And so it is.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The long version of "look at this!"

Through my work as a teacher, I've met more than a dozen pairs of twins over the years, and one set in particular, Reuben and Juan, I see quite regularly.  This week when I worked with them, I was reminded of one of their differences.  Reuben, hearing impaired since birth, listens with a keen sensitivity and eagerness.  Juan, hearing-abled, has a listening disability; he screens what is heard, either consciously or otherwise.

Self reflection on my part has shown that I favor Reuben; I am more empathetic and patient with him.  I question whether this is connected to memories of a sympathetic nature following a surgical procedure when he wore cumbersome headgear, or, more likely, admiration for his perseverance and commitment to listening with intention.  And I wonder this: If Juan showed insight into his listening issues and expressed a desire to improve in that area, would I extend more patience to him?

Sheesh.  Now I'm thinking about grace, which is not where I was when I began writing this post.  Ah, but that's the way it often is with self reflection or clarifying exercises, be it writing, movement, meditation or simply carving out intentional time.  Perception vs perspective.  Images vs imagine.  Sight vs see.  Hear vs listen.  Rorschach  tests vs  self-analysis.

And to think all I wanted to do was share this lovely photograph with you!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

And the seasons turn

Oct. 3, 2011
Faith receives the paired gifts of fresh flowers and
unflinching love from her dear friend, "English Carole."
The passage of time has a profound way of carrying us along on a current of transformation.  It seems that what we glean is found in both the new season we find ourselves in as well as the learnings and insights gained from the perspective of looking back.

The chilly temps and waning light remind me that it is autumn now, but in truth, my heart already knows.  Though I go through the motions of being here now, part of me is in Ashland, revelling in the sacred and the ordinary.   

To Faith; a deep and reverent bow, and a hot-tub splash for good measure.  And to giving and receiving love, the greatest gift of all.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Risky business

Full disclosure: I smoked for 3 weeks in 9th grade, back when a pack of smokes cost 35 cents and anyone was welcome to purchase them.  It seemed like a rite of passage I had to try and I'm often grateful that I didn't become hooked.  Actually, it's nothing shy of a miracle, given that my childhood airspace contained enough second hand smoke to rival China's skies.  

The dogs and I have a favorite route for our afternoon walk that takes us through a narrow side street where high school students gather at day's end.  Most are puffing away with great gusto when we make our way through.  Those I know by name look away from me and I wonder if they hope I might not recognize them if they turn their faces.

School's been in session for 4 weeks.  I guess they've got me beat.