Sunday, December 30, 2012

Can we really know?

Ten years ago, on a sunny February day, we took a walk on this beach right after we moved here, and were most surprised at how bright and sunny the day was, laughing out loud at stories of hurricane winds and biblical floods people had warned us about.

My jean jacket and pants are long gone. My body has changed too.(Happy to report that without really dieting, just cooking for my diabetic husband, we both managed to get our weight down to a reasonable size!)

This rock is no longer here. Through no desire of its own, during  last Thanksgiving Day's storm, this rock shattered and cracked and is now in smaller pieces. We lost a century tree in our yard also. It fell away from the house and the arbors, politely away from the driveway, over the street, to the opposite side of lake, taking down other trees and power lines. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, not even tiny critters who had the good sense to seek shelter before the storm.

We think we can manage to guide changes in our lives: make more money; upgrade a garden; lose weight; gain friends; clean debris; uproot weeds; repair the roof; establish new routines.
I found that changes come; they are all around, big and small. They will surprise us most of the time because we were too busy trying to manage the changes we thought we had to pay attention to.

We witness many things; but, changes that will actually impact us hit us when we least expect them.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What survives the storms.

I used to like this patch of yard, rose arbor, benches, views. It fit me fine after all the stuff that kept dying from too much water, or too much wind,  or too many pests on this patch of dirt. One year was slugs; then moles; then, baby deer who managed to crawl under the fence and spend the night trapped inside with lots of tender shoots to keep them busy. I found them in the morning, two  tiny rabbit-like mouths, having eaten anything tender, their mother waiting for them outside the fence, watching them the whole time.

This area would be under water most winters, but the Cecil Brunner rose kept growing, and soon an arbor was purchased to contain its exuberance.

The rose was a cutting given to me by someone I barely met, a would-be gardener like m. She too had come to the sea to spend her last years, easily frustrated by the winds, the deer, the constant rain, the little sun, but still attempting to garden by the sea.

She didn't tell me that she was gravely ill. Nancy died the following spring, and this rose, growing beyond her pot, and her border, kept reminding me that life was incomprehensible in its cruelty, and most generous in its beauty.

 After every winter, roses were pruned and staked, dirt rototilled; new plants and amendments added. In the winter of 2011 the whole place was blown over, arbor destroyed, broken in many parts, bushes and trees uprooted, tender roots waterlogged.

As I write this post, my rose is dead. It did not survive the summer transplanting of 2012, when so many people moved, tilled, built.

It had survived so many storms, such intemperate events, and  had continued to bloom under so many difficult conditions. I'm hoping the cutting I took might survive this winter.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

For those whose pain has no name...

A word saved me last year, a phrase
with simple words,
"you're not alone"
from a brother I had not seen in years
his words
encircled my heart
and named my pain.

I felt he passed me
a fine embroidered
lacy hanky
smelling of a jacaranda afternoon
when I reluctantly put the little boy on the back of my
bike and rode off
to visit with my friends.

Then, like an old wound,
a blood red stain on a pretty crinoline
I remember how much he appreciated these little
rides I argued with Mother about.

Friday, December 21, 2012

One life...won't do...

My beautifully wise friend Maggie Tintut and I
at the family reunion, November 2012

Happy Holidays! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"You are not alone..."

(Brian's Memorial Garden, July 2011. Garden upgraded by his friends and colleagues.)

The elementary school shootings in Newtown brought it home to all of us.

Life is a journey with many shadowy curves. Not one of us can predict how it will go, which curve will be too sharp to navigate, which event will be too heavy to bear, where we will crash and burn, where we will tower with understanding and compassion.

This kind of tragedy is unbearable and unthinkable.

Yet, what happens after a tragedy can help you navigate the road to your destination; or, it can leave you shattered. When you have suffered so, the mind wants to process, cancel it, remove it, obliterate all signs. The mind and the will want what they can't have: cancel the event.

Accepting the event, absorbing its impact, means unbearable pain.

A circle of love and compassion needs to stay for as long as needed. Days, weeks, months, years. The victims need to know that they are not alone; that what they feel is real and needs to be uttered. Crying and talking, crying and talking will occur for days and weeks and months. Years later, a similar event experienced in a movie, a song, will bring back all the same feelings.

When I lost my son last year, it was this circle of friends, who called, visited, prepared the house, arranged things, build a memorial garden in my son's name, build a memory walk with loving messages, all these actions helped us feel not alone in our grief.

To the children of Newtown, to the families who are suffering a loss, know that you are not alone; that your grief is felt in our hearts; that the whole nation is in pain. May you find a candle of comfort in this knowledge.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


A few weeks ago I stopped writing my main and oldest blog, sixtyfivewhatnow. It no longer called me to the keyboard every morning before my first cup of coffee. It had a commitment that weighed me down.

Did I have a responsibility to continue?

Some readers had come and gone; some joined without ever leaving a message. Just a handful had been with me from the beginning. I will continue to follow their writings and discover with them what it means to be alive. (Some shared their voyage through the dark days to their death. The most beautiful writing I've ever known: Moanie, Tessa, Renee.Thank you. Your courage and grace and loving souls are gifts for eternity.)

I navigate this intricate world I inhabit, internally and externally by writing about it, by connecting as much as possible to my deepest core. I write to understand and to embrace this sublime act of living.
This is all we owe to ourselves, and to our readers.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Changing seasons.

A great notion enters through
a keyhole,
an insult
a praise
a slight
a fall
a crevice in the universe
or a desire to live.

No longer yesterday's self
I arrange my words
to appear the same to those paying attention
for those who need yesterday to remain in sight.

I have lost yesterdays,
with Mother's passing
loss of country
loss of faith.
I only had to don new apparel
drop the scarf
choose bright colors
the latest fashion
from the hottest shop
to announce my new self
to all who pay attention
to be accepted
into today's world.

Nothing stays the same in nature.