2012/11/21

This. Here. Now.

Recollected Life, this has been fun. Thanks for the space as I crested the hill. It's been good here, and now it's time to move on.

The next adventure is THIS. HERE. NOW.

Join me!

2012/08/22

(Resuming) 99 Words for 99 Days: August 22

  1. The Digging
They met in the dark, and each carried a load. His was smaller. Hers was too heavy to lift easily and she walked nearly buckled under its weight. Deliberately careless, he let his pack fall to the ground, pulled a pair of gloves from his pocket, onto his hands. Together, they began to dig.


That night, they buried their dead in the deep, dark earth, and by sunrise they were through. Through digging. Through the stench. Through the night. The children who would come from that place would be beautiful, but the diggers would never stop smelling their dead.

2012/07/31

99 Words for 99 Days: July 31


  1. Transfigured
Sometimes we can see what will be before it can be. We sense it. Hear it in the wind. Feel it on our skin. And then it goes – and we cry out – outraged that it is not yet. We mourn. And there must needs be a Gethsemane. A Calvary. A death to which we turn and a resurrection to the new. Then the moment of knowing – the flash of light transfigured – not a trick of the sun in our eyes, but a promise – it lives. We know. In that other moment, we were transfigured.

2012/07/19

99 Words for 99 Days: July 19


45. Inside

Days fill up. All by themselves, sixty minutes per hour, they fill. They pass. Or, that is how it seems. I've begun again to wonder about this sense of passing. Perhaps I need to move around a bit and get a better look. I mean, what if they're not filling up, but instead, I'm standing in the flow of a current, and the time that's going by is a sense of the numinous – the unspeakable? This is surely what the mystics mean by God's being in the moment. Only in the moment. Only in this moment. Inside of now.

2012/07/18

99 Words for 99 Days: July 19


44. Columbia

The most surprising part of a surprising day was the drive. New job training, new location, new people, new procedures . . . but none of these things surprised me as much as the river today. My first day at that job, and the electricity went down, and the library's own computer records system crashed briefly, and the public computers got error messages and went completely nuts. But the river. The deeply life-flowing water on its way to the sea – the river was near me. I drove on the highway beside it, and the river knew my name.

2012/07/17

99 Words for 99 Days: July 17


43. Seen

The fans blowing in the bedrooms down the hall are trying to move cooler air through the house. A puff of the night wafts in here too. Words refuse to surface. I'm in such peace tonight. Sometimes we don't see much of the unseen. Sometimes we're blind. That's probably just as well, I suppose. Most of the time, I think, it would terrify us to know more than we already do. But sometimes – for a moment or a season – the curtain moves – and we see. We know. The universe pulses with it. I guess it's love.

2012/07/15

99 Words for 99 Days: July 15


  1. It rained then, too
Twenty-nine years ago, on this date, July 15, it rained. It was, I think, about this temperature, just about the same amount of splashy dampness in the air as there has been today. I remember it because I was paying a lot of attention to the weather. Today was the day of our wedding rehearsal. Tomorrow, it was The Day. Twenty-nine years ago, all I could think about was how ready I was for tomorrow to finally come. In 1983, it rained every day for the first fifteen days of July. On the sixteenth day, the sun came out.

2012/07/13

99 Words for 99 Days: July 13


41. Anticipation on a Friday evening

Is there anything – anything at all – more luxurious than the anticipation of a quiet and easy morning coming? Nobody has to leave early. There's good fresh coffee in the house waiting to be ground and brewed. There are almond croissants waiting to rise overnight and be popped into the oven in the when we wake up. There is stuff to do, of course, but there is no need to do it right away. Not first thing. Tomorrow, when we wake up in the soft, cool breeze coming through the window, everything around us will be beautifully still.

2012/07/12

99 Word for 99 Days: July 12


  1. . . . and counting
Yesterday I skipped another day. Too much to do, too late at night, too early starting, too many thoughts and attachments and responsibilities. Today's makes 40 posts instead of 42. I count them. 99 Words for 99 Days is taking longer than that. I watch the numbers. Click. Click. Today I see the thousand ways I think like a capitalist. Like a consumer. Like a woman with her harvests gathering into a barn, almost forgetting to eat, and drink, and be merry, counting. Keeping track. Enumerating. But tomorrow we die, so . . . today I think I'll live.

2012/07/10

99 Words for 99 Days: July 10


  1. The Sounds of Summer
Through the open window this morning, on the fresh morning air, I could hear the train moving through the Gorge, and I hear it now – in the evening – after dinner – when the sun is only in the tops of the fir trees, making them golden against the pale blue of a very gentle sky. At the base of the trees, enclosed by them, encircled, our hay field and the man on the tractor, pulling the rake. Clacka clacketta clacka clacketta – katack katack katack. Smaller and smaller circles around. Now in the middle of the field.

2012/07/09

99 Words for 99 Days: July 9

My mom's mom, and my daughter, 1985

  1. The Ninth
It's the ninth of July, and yesterday didn't count in my 99 days because I didn't write here. It's the ninth of July and it's the day I was going to get married, but the church was booked, so we put it off for another week. It's the ninth of July and the reason I wanted to get married on this day is because this was my grandmother's birthday, and so today I miss her. I miss her lima beans and tomatoes, and I miss her crocheted slippers and painted pillowcases. I miss her sharing these things with me.

2012/07/07

99 Words for 99 Days: July 7


  1. On the Morning of my Birthday
There's no good reason to be fully awake so early today. I need to go to work, but not for a couple of hours. If I'd slept in, though, I wouldn't have seen the sweet and exuberant baby deer with their mother. Two little ones, one momma, and much cavorting at the edge of the mown field, over where the blackberry vines engulf the old fence beside the forest. The trio is not making much progress up the field. It looks like the walk around the block a two-legged mom might take with kids. Sidetracked. Random. Leaping, running, morning.

2012/07/06

99 Words for 99 Days: July 6


36. On the Eve of My Birthday

I'll have a birthday tomorrow, I think.
I'll be another year older.
I'll go to work and come home and I'll drink
A toast to the brave and the bolder.


I am as old as my grandmother was
When she was a grandma to me,
But my kids are not settled, not homebound, not bearing.
My kids are the brave and the free.


Someday, when the children my children bring home
To me and my husband, their father,
Those children will wonder if grandmother's home
Was always this quiet. It wasn't.



Birthday arriving.
Children're thriving.
God's bless'd us.
Amen.

2012/07/05

99 Words for 99 Days: July 5


  1. Particulate Matter
Part of me participating in the day's particles and part of me elsewhere. I feel stippled. A person made of Pointillism. Pixilated. All my dots have looked, I think, like a whole and present person to the people who surrounded me – the people with whom I talked as I passed out library flyers for the Jugglemania guy and the blood drive. All around the town I went. “Would you be willing to post one for us?” “Thank you!” They didn't see my pixels. My points. My dots of color quivering and ready to fall quietly apart.

2012/07/04

Why I Love America

The Fourth of July - that's what I've always called it in my head. It's not "Independence Day" to me - not really. On the fourth day of the seventh month of the year, I feel roots and heritage and ties and all the weight and guilt and joy of community. I also feel celebratory in a very personal way. After all, on the day of fireworks and parades and The Pops on the TV out on the deck in the back of the house where my dad sat to eat popcorn in the flickering blue of the screen in the dark after we'd lit our sparklers and written our names in trails of light in the air ... on that day, it was almost my birthday ... and then my grandmother's ... and then my dad's ... and later on, the next thing became my wedding anniversary. The fourth day of the month of July is big for me.

So I wonder - what is it about these national days that seems to encourage national griping? We feel silly in celebrations more of the mid-twentieth century than of our current day, perhaps. Nobody wants to feel as if they still live on the set of Mad Men. Not really. Today I've seen all the "but remember" wet blanketing and its Janus-faced cousin, "because of the military," posts and broadcasts and talking and defending, and now I want to say something.

I don't love America because America is the best place that God ever made. There have been a lot of good places in history and on our planet. But I do love America. I love our brash hopefulness and our resilience, most of all.

Remember the movie Apollo 13? Two scenes in that movie are made of such distilled American mentality that they say it all for me. Jim and Marilyn Lovell are in their backyard, looking up at the moon, after their party. He says to her, "From now on, we live in a world where man has walked on the moon. And it's not a miracle, we just decided to go."

Then there's the scene at Control in Houston, when they realize they've made square pegs and round holes between the parts of the craft.
 [Several technicians dump boxes containing the same equipment and tools that the astronauts have with them onto a table]
Technician: We've got to find a way to make this
[square CSM LiOH canister]
Technician: fit into the hole for this
[round LEM canister]
Technician: ... using nothing but that.

And they do it!!

That's why I love America. We dare. We dare to dream of possibilities that don't yet exist - and we stride out into our possibilities and fix it when we get there.

We're about to fix health care, I think. It might take us another hundred years. We don't really want to fix it the way the Old World fixed it - and really, we probably shouldn't. In America, we need to do things the way that works for Americans. But we can, and we will, and I think we've started to. Whenever we have remembered that we're all Americans, and that we can and should take care of each other, we have fixed all kinds of things. We opened our colleges to returning veterans and paid their way -- and got the most incredible generation of ideas, corporations, innovations, and public servants imaginable. We stopped pretending that those who don't own land, or women, or black people weren't people. We realized we all have a stake in this land we love. And we opened up the vote. We freed our slaves (finally!), and we have been hammering and rubbing away at the vestiges of inequality ever since.

We know, deep in our starred and striped hearts, that all men are created equal, and that the tyranny of the rich and powerful is not for us. It's time to fight for that idea once more. Here we are again. One nation. Indivisible. This is our heart, and this is our soul, and this is how we work it. Our nation is The People of The Idea, and that idea is a fair playing field and a sure and certain knowing that we are, all of us, rich and poor and black and white and brown and gay and straight and Christian and Muslim and Jew and Buddhist and pagan and heathen and Native and ordinary and extraordinary ... every single one of us, right to expect liberty and justice for all. And for that, I love America.

99 Words for 99 Days: July 4

34. Seeping

A liquid sigh begins to seep into my bones and breath, as if some underground source has come to where the soil and roots begin to feel it. A headboard for our bed, resurrected from an attic, refinished, glowing with fresh polishing and stain. Simple but elaborate. Tall. Like the Norse grandfather who built and used it for his own. Linens have been unearthed, and a mysterious handmade wooden box, an ink bottle in its niche, dried ink inside of it. And now he is looking for the glue so he can repair the old cedar chest. For us.

2012/07/03

99 Words for 99 Days: July 3


33. Library Kids

Working at the library on brain-dead days has its compensations. The work is just absorbing enough to keep a body conscious, for one thing. But there are also the kids. Keep one ear out for the kids. The little brother standing at the dollhouse table and fishing lions and tigers and bears out of the bucket of rubber animals says, “This is a really funny one!” His sister requires more info. “Well, how funny is it?” The gaggle of little girls comes in together, and whispers at the catalog, comparing notes, helping each other find good books.

2012/07/02

99 Words for 99 Days: July 2


32. The Best Part

The best part was that he followed his bliss. After he raised his kids, he went back to school, and he used everything he'd learned in fathering. The best part was that the students in my class, who themselves have small children, cheered. The best part was overhearing her, at lunch, saying, “It's impossible to hold a baby too much! That's ridiculous!” The best part was the immigrant's dream, fresh from the night before, so strong, so protective. The best part was when I got to say to him, “This is the story of a good man.”

2012/07/01

99 Words for 99 Days: July 1

31. Hurrah!

Today I heard a hurrah ascend for the dad who had the terrible dream. His kids and their mother had gone to the mountains. His true, best, love was being torn asunder. Go to the city? Follow his bliss? Do what he was born to do? …. or …. Follow that woman, live in that tiny town, carry on a with a ho-hum job, and raise his kids? The class was on tenterhooks. What did he do? The parent-students wanted to know. “He raised his kids,” she said. A cheer erupted. The class applauded that man.

2012/06/30

99 Words for 99 Days: June 30


30. Halves of a Whole

On the last day of the first half of the calendar year, I’m in a Gillian Holloway course, and again, as last time, it’s gift after gift after gift. This, I can use! I wonder now – are the ways of dreams not merely the Salvador Dali representations of the things we’re telling ourselves and trying to know and needing to have (or to stop having)? Are dreams also a constructed garment we can turn inside out? See the seams? Look at the construction? Find what we are made of? Does the way we’ve dressed ourselves come fashion our dreams?

2012/06/29

99 Words for 99 Days: June 29


29. The Dreams of Others

As I knew she would be, Gillian Holloway is amazing. As I had no idea would happen, the class is absolutely brim full! Discussing dreams with more than twenty people at a time is quite the undertaking, and I’m on a bit of a psychological high – like with drugs – a really good trip, man. Whoah ….! Look at these dreams! And once again, as I never do anticipate, but as happens so often it crushes me and brings me to my knees in breathless prostrate gratitude, there is generosity. Abundance. Love. When God made people, he made embodied glory.

2012/06/28

99 Words for 99 Days: June 28

28. The Company I Keep

I heard amazing stories today. And I started an amazing course in Native American Culture and Literature this week. I feel saturated in stories. A wonderful teacher once said to us, “Meaning isn't a given, it is a process. It involves an interaction between the reader, text, author, culture, history, etc. There is great agency given to us in this demand for interpretation.” Right now, I pack my bags. A weekend course in Dream Psychology is waiting. The stories others tell me, and the stories I tell myself – always I hear stories. And the Word became flesh.

2012/06/27

99 Words for 99 Days: June 27

27. The Work Crew

They came, they sawed, they chippered … and then they took their trucks and left. The electric lines must be raised. They limbed our trees to make room. The kid must have been only barely old enough to work on the crew – he got sent to tell me about the young oaks they'd cut away. We stood in the yard and talked about the land, watching the work. “You don't see many houses with fields by them anymore,” he said. “Just keep going up the hill,” I told him. “There are more fields further up.”

2012/06/26

99 Words for 99 Days: June 26


26. Headboard

Through the open window I can hear the sound of a power sander sanding something in the garage. I leave my apron on. I leave the house. I walk through the curtain of tiny silver raindrops, across the grass, across the gravel, under the walnut tree. The dog stands up to say hello. “What are you doing?” I ask the man. “Which color do you like?” he asks me. He has started to test stains on the headboard he found in an attic, the headboard his great-grandfather built. I choose the darker stain. We have yellow walls.

2012/06/25

99 Words for 99 Days: June 25


25. Or maybe not

I'll have a leisurely start to summer – or maybe not. I'll ease into my new courses and take just the one online this time, because wouldn't it be fun to do two weekend courses? That's what I'll do – or maybe not. Permissions granted, forms filled out, calls made, switcheroos performed and, no. Definitely not. This summer it's two online courses. A grind? A hot, sticky climb to the blissful cooling of autumn? Well, maybe not! Maybe a summer full of Systems Thinking (aka, How Stephanie's Brain Works Anyway) and the literature of native nations. Un-fun? Definitely not!

2012/06/24

99 Words for 99 Days: June 24

24. Maybe

They've canceled my class – maybe. I'll take Milton, Dante, and Blake instead – maybe. But it involves driving, and weekly bakings and blowings in a car not air conditioned all the way to school and back are not only expensive, they're disheveling. I could take Statistics, and study math online in the heat in my office instead. But I could drive home in the summer nights, when the temperature cools and it's okay if my hair stands on end because I'll be home soon and I love the minds of Milton, Dante and Blake. So … maybe ...

2012/06/23

99 Words for 99 Days: June 23


23. Tent

In the living room. Being repaired and reassembled with the elastic cord we bought at a dizzying craft store on the way from the mind-numbing sameness of all the sports shoes in all the world at the other stores we went to. Her tent is in my house, and her lingering cough and slow breathing will be in our guest room, her self in the back seat in the car tomorrow morning when we drop her off. She goes back to the woods. Takes tent, shoes, boots, and all. We'll have other Saturdays. I want to make a quilt.

2012/06/22

99 Words for 99 Days: June 22


22. Just like everybody else

Just like you, just like me, just like everybody else. “Cosmo, I just want you to know no matter what you do, you're gonna die, just like everybody else.” “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth.” “All men are as grass,” and that – right there – “That's the blank, unholy surprise of it.” Like beasts - like the grass - like the seasons and the fields and the end of each day, we end. Not miracles like the stars. Not miracles like universes or like the deep sea. We are the miracles of a moment.

2012/06/21

99 Words for 99 Days: June 21


21. Places Everyone

She sent a postcard from Leavenworth, Washington, and on the back it says, “Beware falling kitch.” He's in a band called Sorry Devils. And he is watching a cult Russian film from the 80's – a film that gave this picture its name. I took herbal remedies to one mom and homeschooling stuff to the other. He and his brother went out together to tie the goats out in the good weather. Yesterday, I put away the candles altogether and now the liquor is atop the piano once more. Summer has come. Everyone is in the right place.

2012/06/20

99 Words for 99 Days: June 20


20. Pirandello

I've been thinking about a character. She's me who I was, but I never was her. She's still here. I saw her in the eyes of a man who used to be the little boy I babysat. I saw him this past weekend. At the wedding, I saw him. He sat in a chair and said to his wife, “She's always this tall. In my head, this is how tall I am, and this is how tall she is.” He framed the distance with his hands. He remembers her. I remember her too. In search of an author.

2012/06/19

99 Words for 99 Days: June 19

19. Oops!

Almost forgot! This is only day 19, and I almost didn't make it. At thirty minutes to go, just under the wire, my 99 words for the day. Social History of Rubber – check! Philosophy and Environmental Science – check! Summer is actually here! Check! And this was the day someone said, What if we approached aging human bodies with the same sense of amazement and wonder as we would have for a very very old tree? Each crag and crack and cranny – every fissure and every fold – all wonderment of reverence for the biography in biology.

2012/06/18

99 Words for 99 Days: June 18

18. Mirror

Once, I heard a therapist say that children compare their private lives to the public lives of their peers and so believe that “everyone” is doing it. This weekend I read an article about the “meta-bias” rooted in our ability to spot the mistakes of others and our inability to spot those same mistakes in ourselves. New Agers talk about resonating to the music of others; Old Wives say that what Peter says about Paul says more about Peter than it says about Paul. Today, after listening, I notice that self-indulgent wordiness irritates me . . . and I cringe.

2012/06/17

99 Words for 99 Days: June 17


17. June wedding

Sleepy, sultry, soft weather, and more of this year's clouds arranged in ways you'd like to capture with paint and canvas, but you know you would never be able to do it. Has it always been like this? Has the start of every summer been so self-assured and happy, and I too busy or distracted to take notice? Probably, the person who invented silk cloth got inspiration from days like this. Cool and slippery and warm in the sun. We got a quiet rain last night. This morning, when she opened her eyes, the young summer was a bride.

2012/06/16

99 Words for 99 Days: June 16


16. Warmth in June

Today my nephew has a wife and I have an essay about the social history of rubber to write. Marylhurst students graduated, and I watched and listened live online. I put an armload of dirty denim into a washing machine, added soap, and turned it on, and I'm typing into a wireless keyboard balanced on my knees because I cannot bear to sit properly at my desk. And in the midst of all this futuristic way of life, the cat sleeps in the sun, the air smells like warmed cut grass, and the dark old fir trees laugh quietly.

2012/06/15

Swimming Lessons


It feels like being in the pool at the Y, in the summers of being a kid - only without the sting of too much chlorine up my nose. That's what this summer feels like.

We took swimming lessons in the summer, and I was never really much of a fan. There were, to my mind, several problems with swimming in the pool at the Y. Chlorine, other people, swimsuits, water that was never warm enough, and the inevitably resulting nasty head cold, for instance. But I remember a very specific thrill that comes when some new skill is tried. Some letting go of the edge of the side gutter, or some opening of the eyes underwater (even now, I want to thump the person who chlorinated the pool at the Hollywood YMCA). I remember the day I dove deep and scraped my nose on the bottom of the pool because I dug deep with my arms and pushed through the water ... but my eyes were closed and the bottom was nearer than I'd thought.

Swim lessons and I were never friends, and I still hate public pools, but I remember that one thrill. I remember what it was to be scared and excited at the same time, and to have the water surround and hold my skinny white body - water miraculously unkilled by that wretched chlorine - chlorine that stayed in my hair and skin for days. The water knew things. Even then, I knew that the water knew things.

It's odd, this summer of 2012. Like the year's almost-palindromic numbers, there's a sense of repeating a pattern, but with a slight hitch. A new stroke of the pen has happened since 2002, and the pattern does not go backwards the same as forwards now.

For one thing, this summer, the Little Kids of all those Christmases of all of those years that have happened in the space of O Holy Night - just the first verse - those Little Kids are now the generation of weddings and new couples and new households ... and we - my brothers and I - now we're the generation of the aunts and uncles who watch and smile and dab at our eyes. Some huge wave has broken across the pool, and taken their little baby hands from the side gutter, and while we heard the glub glub sound of the water at the corner drains, the babies swam off! They've been diving and getting out and shaking themselves off and diving back in again and now the pattern repeats - but they're not babies. The youngest son of my youngest brother is getting married today. Tonight there will be a new Mrs. in the family. This summer of lessons starts now.

Summers used to be like this. I remember this. All at once, in every direction, things that are the same have changed and the pattern that repeats is altered. Life acts like some kind of crazed flowering bush - in a wet and endless spring, budding ... budding ... budding ... and then, POW! All the flowers at once. A family wedding - but not my generation's brides and grooms. This is the wedding of one of the little kids. We'll work on the house this summer, and we'll have another anniversary, and I'll have a birthday, and so will our own youngest son ... and the house and our marriage and my birthdays and our kids - they all hold all the other years inside of them, and so this is the same only different.

It's always the same only different.

The summer is for swimming lessons.

99 Words for 99 Days: June 15

15. To Caleb


First I got married, and then your uncle did, and then your parents. Then I had a baby, and then I had another one, and then your aunt and uncle did, and then your parents. One more round of that, and there you were. Bub, who smiled with his whole being. You still do.

I'm pretty sure our whole story happened last week sometime, and so I'm not quite sure how you could be getting married today, but I know this: I can wish you nothing more happy than what we pass now to you. Congratulations, Caleb and Hannah.

2012/06/14

99 Words for 99 Days: June 14


14. And I shall have two Saturdays

Today I took my horrid science book back from whence it came, and used the gain from doing so as a starter fund for the summer's studies. I sold back the silly book and bought two good ones instead. Tomorrow I shall write the back half of the rubber paper, an alchemy of happenstance and horrors, exploitation and innovation – the story of human people figuring it out. I'll finish it tomorrow. And since Saturdays are for finishing the week's work, and since a Saturday will follow, this week my life is giggling, and I shall have two Saturdays.

2012/06/13

99 Words for 99 Days: June 13


13. Stay. Here.

Stay. Here. Inside this moment, not escaping from it, but burrowing deeper in. Here I find the window of eternity as surely as a traveler might find a noon without a shadow by moving only a little at a time to stay in time with time, an earth, entranced with the sun. I have all my pasts with me. I move – the flower's face is mine – and I keep all myself. If striving, I pull up roots. Leaning into hurry, shadows fall where there is not yet my ground. And so I stay. Here. Inside this moment.

2012/06/12

99 Words for 99 Days: June 12


12. Oops! There goes another

… rubber tree plant! Oops! There goes another rubber tree … oops! There goes another rubber tree … found a timeline – I can use the book. Found a book and I can write it now. Oops! There goes another college class. Oops! There goes another research day. Research rubber for the final day. Oops! There goes another rubber tree. Social hist'ry exploitation and oops! There goes another rubber tree. Not the tree, but people runnin free. Hail the human creativity. Why not innovate and also see brothers not slaves in captivity. Oops! There goes another rubber tree plant.

2012/06/11

99 Words for 99 Days: June 11


11. Things to Wonder While Tired

If I went to sleep at four in the afternoon, how many days would it be before I could go to bed at night?If I fell over backwards in my desk chair for real all the way, would I actually break my neck? If I could still talk, would I tell the person who finally found me that I was trying not to sit up too straight while removing my legs from the top of the desk and that I cantilevered myself just a bit too far in an effort not to exert any extra effort? (Probably not.)

2012/06/10

99 Words for 99 Days: June 10


10. Tired

He'll save the Indian food for later and so this week my Sunday night won't smell like curry. He says he'll just share the mushrooms with me – because it's already fifty o'clock. It sure is. Every bit of me is tired and every hour of the last few days is sitting heavily between my shoulder blades and rubbing against my lower eyelids. It's good that lungs and hearts and livers keep on working even when the words get stuck in lumps of balled up tired and thoughts all start to sound like the gibberish of dream declarations.

2012/06/09

99 Words for 99 Days: June 9


9. Thank you, Sisters

I found the graves today. After class, I drove to the opening in the wall, and I parked my car and got out. I walked into the garden and I saw one brand new, soft place. One freshly laid little spread of flowers. Calla lilies. When did they begin to bury sisters here, I wondered? 1908 – or thereabouts. I cannot now remember because I was too busy saying thank you. Because of their lives, I can have this life. Thank you for loving this place. For loving your students. For loving each other. Faithful sisters, I thank you.

2012/06/08

99 Words for 99 Days: June 8


8. Numerically Speaking
 
There are now two hours before class time, two class times left for Technology and Power, four or five pages of a final Philosophy essay to write, two new books from Powell's about the history of rubber sitting in the car, two books returned to this library, six (or was it seven?) books checked out from the library at home while I worked for four hours before I made three stops on the way to school, and this class will last for three hours tonight and seven hours tomorrow, and then one evening left to finish the unfinishable essay.

2012/06/07

99 Words for 99 Days: June 7


7. Better

What's the point? It's all broken. All the systems are broken. No one ever listens to anyone anyway and we have all these problems and it's because our government has gotten too big. Or maybe it's because the government is under the thumb of lobbyists and donors. Or it's because of too much war. Or it's because the Maayan calendar prophesied doomsday and Nostradamus said we were all going to die and the End Times are here and God's judgment's begun. Or … maybe this is a day like any other, 
and we are meant to make it 
better.

2012/06/06

99 Words for 99 Days: June 6

6. Wakeup Call

Some days I wake up way too early. Sleep evaporates. Grabbing at the mist does no good, so I get up and usually I begin to write. Fish around in my head. Turn into a Psalmist – Why are you so disquieted within me, O my soul? I hypo some condriacal thoughts – What diet has caused this? What looming illness? Maybe one of the kids – What's wrong? What's happened? I'm Mrs. Castorini. “Who died?” But no one did and nothing's wrong. Only the world has rotated again, and the sensible birds outside my window are calling.

2012/06/05

99 Words for 99 Days: June 5


5. Venus and The Queen

The transit of Venus only happens twice eight years apart and then not again for more than a hundred years. This time, it happens while good Queen Elizabeth is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee. We saw her on the news today, impeccable as always. “God Save the Queen.” A sixty gun salute. A flying flag. The crowds below and on the balcony the soft peach color of the lace on William's Kate, and the muted stoney brown on the wife of Charles, and his mother, dressed in white - a woman as rare, I think, as the transit of Venus.

2012/06/04

99 Words for 99 Days: June 4

4. Sounds, Not Silence

I can hear her zipping up the duffles, and I can hear the rain outside landing quietly on leaves. She leaves today. I can hear the creek outside the window next to the driveway down the bank flowing down the hill. The TV's on. Quiet, though. She doesn't like it loud. That was one of her first sentences - “too loud.” (The firetrucks were, and so was the garbage truck that came to our apartment building and made that beeping sound. And crashing when it dumped the dumpster out.) The train will not be too loud. For her.

2012/06/03

99 Words for 99 Days: June 3


3. Sunday Tissues

What's weird about Sundays is that they come every week, but still I'm not ready in the morning when I need to be, and what happens while we're at church, and after that, is never what I thought would happen. Wind blows where it wants to. So I always do need a tissue. It was a good idea in the olden days for women to wear long sleeves to church because then they had someplace to tuck a tissue or a handkerchief and I don't even own a handkerchief so I have to keep my tissues in my purse.

2012/06/02

99 Words for 99 Days: June 2


2. On Hold

The weird thing about working at the public library is that there are so many interesting people to notice and hear and help and see and wonder about, but writing about them would probably get me fired. But I will someday. Write about them, I mean. I'll write about the girl already too heavy and too large, and still young enough to be wearing a huge purple flower in her hair to match her dress, and all the questions I have about smart girls and large bodies and the hopefulness of learning how to put a book on hold.

2012/06/01

99 Words for 99 Days: June 1


1. Passing Through

Because she's always on her way in, or on her way out – that's why. Because I'm the mom – that's why. Did you expect me not to? She will not even see me. It's just a little sprinkle. She's too old to need my help and besides – I don't want to interrupt. And when she's out again, out in the woods this time, out in a known unknown to supervise the times of others coming after her this time … this time, the sprinkling waters small spring plantings. The roots are deep enough. There is no flood.

2012/03/13

In the bookstore at the Orthodox church

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
there will be school work to do because today I couldn't do that because today I interviewed for my jobs because they are my jobs and I want them back.

and then I went to see the bookstore in the Orthodox church and met the lady minding the shop, and she had slung her fur coat over the chair behind the counter and I bet she's owned it for decades and maybe her large rings were newer than that but maybe not, and she was wonderful, and tiny and she was ninety-four years old.

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
except today was not a creeping pace. No petty pace, this day. The lady in the bookstore is, she told me, a cancer survivor. She got it in her eighties, she said. And chemo was rough. Your hair falls out, you know. But this morning she got an appointment right away with the doctor - for something wrong with her leg, I think, and she was so glad. She told the person on the phone she was so glad she got to see him then. Because it gave her a reason to drive at that hour. And it was snowing. And it was so beautiful.

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
or not. Out, out, or maybe we can live to be ninety-four and dress fit for immediate seating in a better place than dusty, and be so kind and practical and sweet. And little. She was so little. I didn't notice until she took my card and ran it through the machine and waited. What a tiny little person! What a good cut, her skirt was fashioned from.

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
unless it doesn't. Sometimes life is brisk and quick and pays attention for a very long time and remembers our neighbor from the old house. Oh, yes. She remembered him. Vanikiotis is an old family name, and she remembers him very well.

And then is heard no more.
Or is.
Because she still remembers him.
And he was kind and she is kind and when her friends stop in to see how her appointment went this morning, she speaks in Greek. Or English. Or Greek. It doesn't matter.

It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
or love. It might be full of love and it might be told by a woman born when the last century was young, and now she takes her daughter's phone calls on her cell phone, because she's fine, the doctor said. She's fine.

Signifying nothing.
Or maybe something.
Today, I see that it is really something and Macbeth was wrong. He never met the lady volunteering in the bookstore.
But I did.

2012/03/10

Shut Down. Reboot. Restart. Again.

Hello, Blog.

Hello, Blog Readers (if there are still any left after my being so neglectful for so long).

See how that period is after the parenthetical expression? I've been in school. I've been citing things in MLA and APA citation conventions, and I've been getting closer and closer to the degree I started in a different life and yesterday and oh my word is it end of term again already?

It is.

It's also end of hiatus from the library, I think. Yesterday I did all the testing for all the levels of library work I was doing when I quit last summer. Was it last summer? I can't remember. I also can't take any seniority or experience back with me in any sort of official way, and this is the third time of testing. The third time of hiring. The third librarian in our local branch to have to interview me before I can have a job under her authority and direction.

Apparently, I am a Repetitive Starter, starting again. Old college degree unaccredited, so I started again. Twice I've been hired for work at the library, never have I had any chance at anything but sub work, thrice I have been tested and I am starting again. My religious life. My writing life. My homemaking life. Start again. Start again. Shut down. Reboot. Clear the cookies. Start again.

Is this why I like to work with kids? Because they are all always at the start of things? See that? See the fragments and run-ons and deliberate mistakes? I've been in Lit classes and wallowed in Poetry. I've become so familiar with The Rules that now we play with each other and make each other laugh and cry and moan and roll our eyes. Our I's. Oh, aye!

But I notice something. Same tasks, same series of skills sets to stack and survey and sustain ... but different me. I am not the same.

I've been thinking about that lately. I'm reminded when I look down at my right hand as it holds the pages of my prayerbook. The part of my hand between my thumb and first finger -- it's wrinkled and starting to look like an old woman's hand. Only in certain lights. Only sometimes. But my hand isn't young anymore.

When I was in the sixth grade, we had an art teacher who came into the classroom once a week. From her, we learned the color spectrum -- and colored flowers with yellow at the center and all the colors in order to the outside points of the petals where they were darkest purpley blue and almost black. The colors blended together where they changed from one to another. A few spikey shards of yellow reached almost to the outside rim, and yet all the colors filled the petals in order.

I have drawn that flower every once in awhile for all my life since then. Spectrum. Blending. Order. Spectrum. Blending. All the colors, all in order, just like a rainbow caught in the fantasy of a flower that could never be but everyone knows it's a flower anyway.

We drew our own non-dominant hands, too. After we learned about perspective drawing, we put our "other" hands into a pose, and drew them with our pencils. Shading. Line. Perspective. Creases and bends and knuckles and nail bed and cuticle. I remember my sixth grade hand, and the one that holds the pages down when I study or pray - it's the same, but it has texture now. My hand is older.

In this moment, on a Saturday morning right before spring, when the fog and the rain are blurred together outside my window, and the quarter is almost over, and my jobs at the library are almost back in my hands again, I notice this. My hands are older.