Thursday, November 29, 2012

LA=la land.

I lived in Los Angeles for almost fifty years, longer than anywhere else. Only a handful of places I like to return to:

1. In-N-Out Burger(best burger in town)_
2. Sagebrush Cantina in Calabas (site of most family celebrations)
3. Jerry's Famous Deli in Studio City (site of morning dates while children were little)
4. LACMA ( always a lot to see for one entrance fee)
5. Beaches (only place where you can leave everyone behind)

Forget Disneyland, Universal Studio, and big entertainment centers.

Los Angeles is just too big, too crowded, too expensive, and too rushed.

Even to walk the beaches you have to fight traffic to get close enough to park.
To eat, you have to add 10% to all your orders to cover taxes. (We have no sales taxes in Oregon)
To shop, you have to add hours to get to  and from your place in addition to parking fees and taxes.
A decent seat at the Pantages to see The Book of Mormon will cost you over $200; a one-day pass to Disneyland is $87, and a gallon of gas over $4.  Most parking will be at least $8 and most meals will run $25 and up per person.

When I first came to LA in 1959 life was also complicated and expensive. Only, there were no freeways, no malls, and going to the beaches was a favorite of teenagers. When I left LA in 2003, I knew that LA was not the place for seniors.

It still isn't.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

That childhood place.

Some where in the middle
of the road
on the way to Grandmother's house
we lost
our way.
So far off
the chart
a compass wouldn't have helped
buried among
pieces and pieces of color-coded
special toothpaste
and individual hair products
snacks and drinks guaranteed to
still our hunger and thirst for the duration of the trip
securely bundled in
bubble wrap
to prevent spills
and mishaps;
and though we were
derailed and
angry at each other for not keeping eyes on the road
and focus on the destination
we kept going
in the same direction.

At each place we stopped
we added our version of Grandma's place
comfy chairs one year
a porch
a garden
an imported claw-foot tub
after Beth went to college.

Grandma paid off her house before she retired.
We have just  re-mortgaged ours.


Monday, November 26, 2012

The comfort of the familiar.

No bed accepts your body like your bed.
The pillow you lie on bends just so
your ear can fit nicely in its concaveness, a
crevice forms when you will it
making you
you were searching comfort
as you leave this earth.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Good design speaks volumes.

All schools should be brick
buildings with marble stairs. They
last forever; look good; their function
immediately understood.

All good husbands
carry  their wives' purchases;
their babies diaper bags;
phones, receivers;
items necessary for comfort and joy.
They look their part;
their function immediately understood.

All old people should be interviewed:
what mistakes you wish you hadn't made;
how did you select your mate;
did you get all you hoped in your life;
what would you do differently?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What the cook thinks.

My first thought,
how did I volunteer to cook a Thanksgiving meal
in a strange kitchen?

The second thought, I am still standing
it can't be too bad;
I'll make a list
pick up a few things
after all, everyone likes turkey!

The third thought,
I don't have enough time!

The fourth thought,
Where is the salt?
Nobody told me we needed to purchase salt!
Is there a substitute for salt?

Notes to self:omit the gravy for Uncle Ken; add petite peas for Uncle Scott; cook the pasta extra soft for Auntie Gail; skip the turkey for Cousin Vegan.

The final thought: Thank God for conveniences around us; for the loving people who'll break bread today with us; for the attention someone lavished on our meal today; for the multitude of things we take for granted on a daily basis.
For the cook who volunteers to prepare a  meal in a strange kitchen.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The mountain of living.

In the interplay of time
and space,
and bruises
are exchanged
a steep mountain
in search of peace.

The view is visible
waves audible
tracking our
false steps
small victories
to mark our quest for peace.

In stone
we carve dates
not thoughts;
not deeds;
for gestures of peace.

Our trekking, up and down the mountain of living, removes more life signs than it adds.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Change for me, and I'll know then...

Remember how Sleeping Beauty
was awakened by True Love
a valiant prince
who battled monsters and witches
to be at her side?

And how did she know that he
was worthy of her undying affection
and commitment?
He offered her
a ring made of precious stones
recommended by the experts to
cost a year and a half of his wealth
and paid cash on delivery.

Since she had just met him, he had to do more than offer his hand, his wealth, his name.
He had to change the world for her.
Only then, he became the true prince she dreamed about.


I'm waiting to
and unafraid
a Lazarus arising
from a tomb
of self-negations.

Will daylight
the shadow
of self doubt
that announces me
before I'm present?

Will I look stronger in Spring
And bigger in Winter?
Can Summer hide my pallor?
Can Autumn satiate my hunger?

Is there a season when shadows disappear?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

This I know.

Everymomentuponmoment I listen
for my heart to skip a beat 
breaking up, 
reaching its expiration date. 

One day, death will be called Elevation 
like a word created under water achieves a new meaning. 
death cannot be altered
by re-naming.

Though riches and knowledge keep changing, death stays the same.

What we eat, defecate, and consume-
our grandparents never knew as food-
is now reconditioned, labeled and shipped anywhere
where cheap is the new gold standard
and a brand is worth more than the content. 

A young worker in China packages goods
he can't afford to buy; travels days and days by train
without pay
to visit his dying father 
the biggest empire in the East
that shipped tea and spices, porcelain and silk garments to a world frozen in grime 
and ignorance,
so he can tell his father 
how he's
Ipads and jet wings,
heart valves. pain killers and dog food,
better and bigger exports China has ever known.

He hopes his father dies content and doesn't see his frayed coat imported from Somali.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Do you know how much you count?

One pebble
around another pebble
overcome by pebbles
big and small, round and angular
mostly interchangeable.
Take one pebble away
and then another
and another
and soon
is emptiness.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Still life.

Like a polaroid picture
one tiny
of color
adventure back in focus. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

And you paid what for that?

One of the two things that attracted me to our present location was an area fenced in and protected from deer and other wild things where I could garden to my heart's delight.  (!The other thing was the proximity to water!)

And this is the way we cultivated food; cauliflower  garlic, a puny squash plant all peeking through agricultural fabric that warmed up the soil, kept weeds at bay, and allowed only the selected plant to push through a hole and develop to full size. The investment in such a method was sizable:  fabric, amendments, drip system, and water.  (Yes, our municipal water system is antiquated and it is very expensive to deliver!)

We anticipated years of successful gardening.

And we did have many good years. All that preparation worked well for a long time.

But not everything lasts. And this method didn't last for a number of reasons:

1. Moles and slugs managed to destroy the tender shoots before we figured out what to do.
2. We never added enough amendments to keep the soil healthy and producing. Sandy soil like ours just didn't produce much. Our neighbors had brought in truckloads and amendments yearly to keep their soil going. We thought they were overdoing!
3. We began to have trouble bending, especially the tiresome work of weeding before planting, and throughout the growing season.
4. The fabric worked well the first couple of years; then, weeds popped up everywhere.
5.  Water costs became prohibitive. We had to invest in a pump and a sand-well water that broke after the first season. We are presently on our third pump!

If this were a commercial enterprise, we would have been bankrupt. We treated our expenses as a part-time hobby, and managed to keep our anticipations  reasonably moderate whenever we added up the expenses.

Some people here in the Northwest, with the ocean and so many rivers and streams do not hesitate spending forty thousand dollars and more for a recreational fishing boat. How could they possibly justify that cost when many times they spend days on the water without catching any fish?

I know . We make visceral choices, and they are just right for what ails us.