Monday, November 17, 2014

Word of the Week - 37

Seaside village from Kirsty Elson Designs.
Michelle Holmes Embroidery.
Word(s) of the Week:  PLAYING FOR TIME

There is a sensibility with which I identify in the work of Kirsty Elson and Michelle Holmes.  Their wooden seaside encampments and understated embroidered vignettes express visually some of what I hope to capture in the ongoing story on my blog of Gloria. The Reading Man and life in Billington's Cove.  In the saga of 60-some episodes (so far), I arrived at a pivotal moment and its details have not yet become clear.

Because the characters and their place found me, not the other way around, I've learned to be trusting and patient.  They will spill the beans when they are ready.  They resist, which I've come to respect, any of my attempts to give them false moments, contrived musings, inauthentic action.  They and their setting do not belong to ordinary reality as to time and space.  I consider them not only imaginary friends but more.  They seem able to gauge the tides of my heart and inform me accordingly.  I have come to know myself better through them.  With their help I am clearer about what I believe, how the world, the universe even, works.

What happens after the dance, I mean THE DANCE, I have no idea.  It is not the ultimate moment in their story, yet it is much more than just a moment.  My great wish is that I not muddy any part of it by rushing them.

Once upon a time I meditated daily.  In the way of things, I somehow grew apart from that beneficial practice.  In the last few weeks, joining Oprah and Deepak Chopra, I've found what may be the way back to the states of mind that result from meditation.  My first thought was unattractively judgmental.  After the first session, I was grateful for the ease of the exercise.  It may be the lazy woman's path and I'm fine with that.  My rather elderly joints and muscles need comfort in order to focus.  I am either dreaming more or am more aware of my dreams.  I've had moments of being more connected to aspects of myself that I forgot existed.  I am able to slip into a state of detachment from daily stuff and let images appear, either during the meditation or other parts of the day.

In one of these "states," I saw a younger Reading Man standing in a field, talking in a soft animal voice to a horse for whom he obviously had great affection.  Their heads together, they seemed halves of the same whole.  Any stilling of the chattering, fretting mind allows the veil to thin.  I love going there.

I hope it won't be too much longer before my undeclared lovebirds and I resume our adventure.  I think of them as absent friends or a phantom limb, not as inventions of my imagination.  Until we meet again.  xo

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Maura O'Connell sings

Irish singer Maura O'Connell, born in County Clare.

My favorite Maura O'Connell song, why not start with it?

From the writings of William Butler Yeats.

With Nanci Griffith singing harmony.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Ian and Sylvia Folk Music Show

So there can be some general good come from listening to YouTube for much of the afternoon, I'll be the d.j. sharing (especially for those of you who don't know them) Ian and Sylvia.

The video for "Nancy Whiskey" would not have been my choice, but there you are.

At certain moments we are called back to reconnect with our former selves, parts that have never left but have gone dormant, at least for a time.  The young folkie that I was is now the much older folkie that I am.  Warning:  next time it may be Irish folk music.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why Edward Gorey rocks, in 26 words

Thoughtful Alphabets discussed here.
I have a vintage Edward Gorey journal from Pomegranate as the notebook of record by my computer.  As I jotted today's findings, the phrase "battered chrysanthemums" caught my eye.  Part of Gorey's Thoughtful Alphabet No. 10, the two words offered me just the right pinch of magic to feel not entirely deranged in the leaping associations my mind chooses to make.  Crushed or rain-thrashed blossoms in vivid fall hues made a kind of sense I cannot possibly explain.  Any attempt to guide you through what might be called a thought process would require a diagram similar to the old Arthur Murray directions for ballroom dancing.
With thanks.
I think our best course of action will be to acknowledge genius when we see it.  From "jellied kelp" through "hopeless infatuation," "listless meandering" and "wretched excess," Mr. Gorey supplies more than enough evidence of his unconventionally superior mind.  The rest of us are but battered chrysanthemums at his feet.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Word of the Week - 36

Morocco's blue city,  Chefchaouen.
Word of the Week: VARIABLES

We live in a two-story, pink stucco building which has the word "Capri" as part of its name on the facade.  The color and name make giving directions easier, make it harder to miss  Other apartments on the block are less emphatic.  And I'll bet they don't have pink bathtubs.

Yet our Capri quarters lose any exotic cachet, however slight, when compared to the varying shades of blue in Morocco's once-secret mountain city of Chefchaouen.  (The link under the photo above provides history, background.)  As I am so eternally drawn to colors, I wonder what variables may be at work as influences on mind and spirit in a blue city.  Think of it.

It could be a direct line of descent from the Puritan Ethic that has kept my inner bohemian in mostly  subdued wrappers for so long, always leaning toward, longing for deeply saturated hues as displayed in other lands, in clothing, in doorways.
New Mexico
One could not possibly remain unchanged, going from shades of black to combinations of lime peel, mango and blueberry.  One can imagine the magnitude of shift made possible by changing the vista from politely, quietly American ordinary to the distantly, almost other-worldly vivid.  I know I feel happier, I feel more myself when I wear anything that is a true red.  Coloring my grey hair became too frequent and wearying a task though I know I would be altered by seeing a once-again red-haired version of myself looking back from the mirror.

I've written before that color is a language to me.  It is also a vitamin, a tonic, an essential nutrient, a form of rescue and helium in the dirigible by means of which I will make my getaway.  I may dream of Morocco's blue city, a round table next to the open windows, sipping a glass of golden tea while  afternoon haze merges with shadowed robin's egg stairways before the market closes.
Paint pigment for sale, blue for the exterior, colors for the interior.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Blog repost from 2010

Because a friend awaits the results of lab work, this came to mind.  Thinking good thoughts. xo

Saturday, November 13, 2010

One among many

Photo thanks to, by Ted Jackson

If you have forgotten that we are all in this together, try spending time in the waiting room of a medical lab collection office.

Fridays and Mondays, the phlebotomist said, are their busiest days. When we arrived, all but one seat was taken. My hierarchy of mobility is thus: something to hold onto, use cane; flat and nothing to hold onto, walker; flat with distances to be covered, wheelchair. This is why my 75-year-plan includes suspending the laws of gravity - floating, drifting, sproinging, hovering, ahhhh. So my son and I each had a seat.

When I switched to the health care plan of which this lab is part, the parking lot of the block-sized office building was run like Mussolini's trains. Now it is willy-nilly - yes, free - but out of the hundreds of spaces, many "Reserved for Management," there are two designated disabled spots. Workers were cutting rolls of carpeting in the aisles. We didn't do badly, a spot with room to open the car doors. It was enough.

I believe this lab serves a number of Medicare providers as well as other PPO-type plans, so there has always been a diverse population visiting there. This was true yesterday. A young man, in his 20s, had paper work spread across the floor near the entrance. A sturdy, perhaps 18-month-old future athlete was kicking a soccer ball, then dunking it in the receptionist's wastebasket. There was collective, yet still, restlessness, for it was obvious the wait would be measured in hours, or halves of hours.

The previous night, we had watched the re-make of CLASH OF THE TITANS, my son wanting to compare it to the original with Ray Harryhausen's classic special effects. Then, of course, there was the trailer with Liam Neeson bellowing, "Release the kraken!" All in all, the gods were unhappy. I whispered to my son that perhaps Perseus could come and liberate us from this Underworld, but not before having my blood drawn. It was a gloomy chamber, likely because we shared, on some level, unvoiced concern about the outcome of our tests. Mine was a routine check to determine that nothing essential had gone south in the previous months and my anxiety level was, oh, miracle, too low to register. I have no idea what any of the others were facing.

The staff, one receptionist and two phlebotomists, were efficient, patient, helpful and kind. It was not one of those "distract you from your monkey mind" offices with a television showing endless loops of things that we needed to watch out for. It definitely was not at all like the Social Security-approved bus station of a medical center where my son needed to be seen, in a storage closet, as part of his lengthy approval process for benefits. There they were showing Maury or some paternity-based, chair-throwing excuse for entertainment that made me long for chloroform. People who had come here together spoke in low tones, except for soccer boy and his mom who had to chase him around the room. Another mom had her hands full with a daughter of enviable curly red hair, age around five, for whom the vibe became intolerable - it has taken me years to learn not to whimper when I empathize too accutely in a crowded room - and who had to be comforted in the hall.

There we were, strangers on the bus, getting by, getting through. Since I imagine most of us had been fasting, and by now it was past 11, one of the strangers had brought a container of Ensure, and mentioned to the woman at the front desk that he was starving. My son and I were dreaming of our drive-through coffees, assuming we were done in time. It is an independent stand that closes at noon, the only drive-through coffee vendor in the greater Pasadena area. And you call yourselves civilized.

We did not really make eye contact with each other, not easy if you didn't bring a book or did not choose to immerse yourself in a two-year-old "Entertainment Weekly" laden with the germs of those two years. Occasionally it was possible to exchange a smile or a few words about how it shouldn't be much longer. I would like to know what sort of pre-employment tests they administer to find staff so centered, so unruffled, so able to bring their best game to this crowded island which no one visits by choice.

Driving through, Pasadena has a pungent air of prosperity, though the Maserati dealership did close. But in the waiting room, we of the budget health plans were not the people I pictured behind the elderly oaks in architect-designed stucco and redwood. They may have been, though my sense was we shared more than just the need to have our blood give up its secrets. We did not seem like a group which has all the answers for tomorrow's questions; since I knew I still had to get back up the stairs once we got home, I didn't even have answers for today's questions.

In spite of that, there we were, assuming, as I have written of lately, the good outcome. They talk in 12-step programs of "suiting up and showing up" and we did, patients and workers. There is comfort in company, in crowded waiting rooms, in mutual uncertainty, in just taking the next indicated step. Fingers crossed, I hope we all receive the news we want.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Word of the Week - 35

Teacher Viola Swamp from the Miss Nelson books.
Word of the Week: FLEXIBLE

Our experiences turn us into teachers.  They also turn us flexible, cause us to finds ways to prevail in the real world and not the one of our fantasies.  We are water, we are streams whose natural paths are clogged, blocked by debris or the work of zealous beavers.  We find our way.  We may be slowed, we are not stopped.

It is within the past 8 years, perhaps less, that I have come to know myself as an adaptive creature.  The ways I once moved, walked, cooked, the ways I once lived have vanished.  Those ways have been replaced by the next best thing.   I marvel at and give thanks for substitutions, support devices which began with a cane, my own unexpected capacity for adjusting and the previously unnoticed corners into which this turn of events has shined a light.  I have come to believe that we all live, in some fashion, adaptively.  That there is any life where all is perfection seems unlikely.

Another belief of mine is that we are here to give comfort and encouragement to each other, to bring the good we possess and share it as widely as possible.  Our disappointments and the ways in which we cope with, even triumph over them help us write our playbook of clever, though perhaps awkward-looking tricks.  That we must all cope with something we didn't choose unites us.  Fighting what is unwanted will not make it go away but it will embitter us and wear us out.  Better to maximize the skills, the strengths we still possess.

Yet another belief (maybe I should just have made a list) is that we are not meant to be defeated by the charging rhinoceros, singular or plural, that upended our plans.  That onslaught becomes part of the equation, part of us, of our experience.  We ignore or exclude it at our peril.  How much better to make it, if not an ally, then at least a consultant.   Illness, injury, affliction have demands, the first one being a course correction.  If we are able to continue, more or less, in the direction we were going when we met the rhinoceros on the road, we will at the very least be going at a different pace, probably taking a detour, maybe hunkering in place while the dust settles.

The human spirit, with which we are field-equipped, survives disappointment.  It survives jolts and losses, the forces of nature and time and our own unrealized dreams.  We redraw the boundaries, surrender expectations in favor of a general trust in the good outcome, find comfort in what is and try not to keep breaking our own hearts over and over by dwelling on what is not.