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Why do the Quakers tremble? I often wonder why
with strong upstanding knotted trunks, eyes squinting to the sky
Could this response be anger or a sign of latent fear?
Or do the boughs rein praises to a God I feel is near?
The woodcock in the wetland, the songbird in the tree
The soul slung in the hammock swaying in a canyon breeze
Why do the Aspens tremble, so shakeable, yet true?
in chlorophylic beauty sound hypnotic tambourines
I’m much too quick to question, consumed with making sense
Life’s worries blow between my ears like words nailed to a fence
“No Parking” (without paying)
Ha! I’ve lived this marker well,
but will my heart beat long enough to learn what trees will tell?
The chipmunk on the boulder,
The moose up to her knees,
absent the day pass, simply living out their days
A quiet life void questions
Of shelter cool and green
Of bugs and Seeds and flowers
Of living wild and free
They do not think or question
Nor do they need belief
Their consciousness wired differently
divinely to His needs
If I were but an Aspen, a primrose or a bee
bequeathed a greater knowledge 0f God’s blessed mysteries
I think I’d be more gentle, more patient and sublime
I’d see with better clarity the truth behind the eyes
I think I’d feel content to breathe a sigh of increased hope
and share the leafy laughter echoed in an Aspen grove
Out of practice, but here goes.
I’ve decided parenting has gone to S-craps.
My twenty-something children have left the nest for college. Growing up is hard. Its’ hard on them because they have to make Life for themselves now. It’s hard on me because parenting has been my lifestyle for years. I miss my children and I miss feeling needed by them. They are discovering they can manage mostly on their own, except for rent and tuition assistance, the occasional load of laundry, and a sometime hug or sounding board. I realize this is as it should be, but I don’t have to like it.
I breath a Friday sigh and park Pearl in the driveway. Prying myself
from the driver seat, I trudge across the road to get the garbage cans.
Dodging sprinkler spray, I jerk, jarring an empty awkward payload
balanced on undersized, seized-up wheels that etch a shallow trench back to familiar
dirt lined spaces against a retaining wall.
The gray bin is for all things throw-away.
The brown one is for keeps, or should I say, do-overs.
Hm. Compartmentalization and Metaphors.
Ew. Left overs. Produce tossed. Ancient, moldy, Ziplock keepers.
The smell of kitchen wet, and washroom bio
mingled with messy non recyclables ripening in the afternoon heat.
I kind of miss ….. this…..I think. Not the horrible stench. No,
but, THIS! Things. sights. sounds. feelings. years of familiarity. predictable routines. family life and family things. Everything changes.
I miss my son, as if he were still fifteen in the school drum line, dragging garbage cans across the road. I miss my daughter bringing in the mail and plunking down for another episode of I Love Carly. I miss hearing and seeing sibling banter. I miss their occupancy, their laughter, and all things children.
With them gone to college, life is different. Quieter. Kind of lonely. Kind of crazy! What’s more, it’s Summer and even my youngest is schooling. She gets up early and drives an hour to school. She is studying digital media design at a nearby tech school her final year of high school. Pretty cool.
I reminisce on the past, taking stock a little too much in remembering the sadness of parenting lost, trying to be grateful for kids’ accomplishments and independency.
Hard to believe any of that living happened, imagining what used to be, and what is now.
From late-night diaper changes to ice cream binging and make-up rounds.
From teething to half squeezed toothpaste tubes, to tossed towels and shampoo bottles and razors doing a balancing act with soap on the shower door.
Coveted Converse footwear, prize posters, braces, and retainers…phone calls, cars.
Then mission calls, foreign dispatch, and now university acceptance and jobs on campus.
The other bin is blue, I think…..or is it brown!?
Can’t tell …because “I need my STUPID drug store glasses!!!”
(just kidding) I can see colors, just not TINY PRINT. (Thought I’d be helpful there.)
The cheater glasses are RED and inconveniently hanging on the rear view mirror
along with the Little Mermaid and a Hobby Lobby, Super Hero door sign meant for the
classroom that reads, “STAY OUT” on one side, and “COME IN” on the other. (hmm)
Second thought, I think, the RECYCLE BIN has faded
It is un-washed, sun-washed, snowed on, cracked and cock-eyed.
I think someone could pimp this ride, tipped on-its-side like a bare bone
bloated whale shark
Old Blue-Old Brown shifts and morphs until she has a
dorsal fin! Somehow this grows a mouth and begins shouting,
“WITHIN THESE HINGED JAWS LIES A LIE”
a try and a fail,
Felled much like my own young adulthood for this imposter, inconvenient truth called
Mid-life feels windblown like scout flags laid flat on Decoration Day
Actually the bins and flags do continue to stand, tiredly leaning…
lonely, and under-appreciated, like a room full of ancient veterans
eating compulsory “Thank you” cake on a paper plates
America’s proud throw-aways
I bend down to pick up a red solo cup next to a single mangled floral lip-flop.
Some scraps of cardboard and glass have spilled out on the ground.
I haven’t really failed, have I?
No. There is alwuz hope.
Several years ago the County forced the Eastside to recycle.
Change was NOT easy. The outlying hayseeds sort of despised it, but complied,
only to discover the TUFI handlers contract did not include transporting recyclables to Park City for sorting
So TUFI picked up the road-side recycling and carted it to an almost full land fill.
I remember thinking…..ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! What’s the point of this project if it doesn’t get where it’s supposed to?
What good is trying to do good by Mother Nature, if the baby is still-born before it is delivered? This speaks to the need for excellence in Leadership, intellectual integrity and follow through.
“We need a Doula.” Middle said.
“We do-la?” laughed Angel. Bad pun.
I break into the lyrics of “We Need a Hero” and start flash dancing on a kitchen chair.
They try to ignore me.
“Do you know for certain that the recyclables don’t go to the center?”asks my girl.
“Maybe you should just follow a trash truck. “That might be fun!” said Angel.
“WOW.” I laugh. Then my imagination takes over. I’m good at imagining.
It is my escape.
Suddenly I remember a favorite a ridiculous VHS movie called the Stupids
and visualize myself shoulder to shoulder with Darin Stupid, (Ted Arnold),
the two of us on roller skates in hot pursuit of garbage thieves, only different.
He can keep the baby blue suit and topper hat. I’m a true Olympian in training, as I
morph from cammo tree woman to amazing patriotic jumpsuitress, with Jan Sports
sponsored poles and roller ski blades.
I lunge and drive athletically, my muscular quads keeping pace just the right distance from
diamond plate, while conspicuously painting a smart, yellow two-way traffic line.
I’m ultra agile, dodging orange construction cones, and a few morning cyclists as I pipe
bright new paint that spreads like butter cream on the tar chip
under my ice skating Cake Boss feet.
Following a ribbon of diesel smoke, the TUFI disposal truck sputters like a chain smoker jerking from house to house like a derby trout on the end of a garlic chum hook..
“Earth to Mom! Why don’t you just ask Insa?” suggests my youngest.
“Huh?!” Reality check.
“Insa retired last January.” I admitted.
“Happy New Year! Still. She would know.”
I wouldn’t know how to reach Insa these days. We are not Linked.
“Why do you care so much about this now?” asks my son. “It’s been this way for years.”
I don’t know. That’s the problem, maybe. The fact that it hasn’t changed. It doesn’t seem right.
“Just another reason to be disappointed in government and the status quo, I guess,” adds my mustached boy.
“I know I’M disappointed, too!” Middle says.
“I can’t find Tim Tams (Canadian cookies) anywhere!”
“Wow. Something is wrong with this scenario,” says her brother.
“True,” I add.” “Trump IS still President.”
“What? Can’t a girl have her cookies?”
“You can if you make some,” adds her brother.
Somehow I think Middle will keep coming home, if only to bake and to buy Tim Tams at the local World Market. My son will come too. He has the truck. They will carpool until the Semester resumes and studying bogs them down. They’ll come home to relax, to see friends and to help with projects. Angel and I can’t wait until Devon comes again with a complimentary hack into her roommates Netflix for those last two episodes of Anne With and E.
Guess all I can realistically do is Live my Life, stay in touch, and keep making something that resembles food for the hungry.
Summer bakes on. Again, I land on a Friday evening after boxing in the city. I park Pearl on a hot driveway and let her engine cool down before pulling in. I wonder if the kids are coming home this weekend. Leaning in I bump the visor with my head and a spray of massage reminders and snapshots litter the seat and floor. I lean in to retrieve a useless garage door opener, crumpled receipts and empty, crinkly water bottles. Here goes another Starbucks siren to the dreadful landfill.
Conclusion: Canadians recycle better than most Americans…at least from what I saw.
My Summer road trip taught me this. In British Columbia, recycling bins are visible and expected to be used properly. Maybe it’s the law.
Our Northern neighbors seem to really care about the environment,
Cuz under every kitchen sink I found active compost kettles brewing decomposers
and outside, I discovered alleys full of flies and bins with stinky sorting of everything imaginable.
Amazing! Why don’t Americans seem to care more into Eco action?
Honestly, I’m not much help. I rarely have anything for Recycle Friday. I hear a Helper Dad roll down the hall with an unruly entourage of children. Every week I come up blank. Maybe I’m just resourceful. Yes. Not really.
At home I give the juicy salmon rhine a big fling and wait to see and hear the spectacle:
a howling magpie cloud descending on it.
Moe and Socks remain reticent, observing patiently until it’s their turn to nose around the residue. This is a perk of country living.
I wish I had the patience and wisdom of my cats……cat. Moe died this Spring, two weeks before Devon got home. She sobbed when I finally told her. She confessed she’d had a dream and in fact Moe dying was one of her biggest fears when she left the States for Canada.
“Cats are indifferent,” my son interjects. (This is a generalization. Moe was so cute. Quick to meet and greet me in the garage with a roll and poll for love and a purr-full tummy scratch.)
“Cats are mostly warm but sometimes indifferent, ” I reply.
“Like some people,” he added.
I would be purringly happy for you and your sister to brush by any time, I thought.
“Thanks for coming home,” I said, giving a quick hug. He’s not much of a hugger, but took it anyway.
“Sure! Do you think the pizza is done?”
“I’ll check,” I add promisingly, and trip on an empty pizza box.
Scraps. I’ll take them.
Glad I don’t live in the Jungle. I don’t like guns at all.
Maybe I’ll move to Canada.
Here is something 80s. They play this at kickboxing sometimes. It’s a great punch song.
I drive a lot. It got me thinking.
Spinnings in her mind
chase anxious freeway speeders
quick to grind bumpers
“For the love of…..?!”
someone in the fast lane is afraid to pass
or better yet, just gass’in the cell phone
Best to brake or pass fast?
She’s Peterbuilt and can’t stop.
How deep the gravel? How steep the grade?
The silent grave is broken
An air horn screams last year’s fatalities
Skid and spray
She’s not coming back
It’s fun reading this post. This exchange occured the first Spring of Devon’s mission, when she was so GREEN! Fun! In a week she will be home to embark on a new adventure. Can’t wait.
Butter knives?……and the Ides of March? Hmmmmm.
This week has felt like an eternity for me. It is good to be writing to you all again:) Last Monday, after emailing you all, we went to Royal Roads University. Otherwise known as the X-Men castle! It is out of my area, but we went with the Sister training leaders, Sister D. and Sister K., so it was okay. We also took butter knives and pretended to be wolverine! I got to wear pants and my swacket! It was glorious:) We also saw a peacock in a tree. Sister B. tried to coaxed it down with her peacock call, but it wasn’t having it.
This week I also was able to have real poutine! One of the members has a dinner called La Belle Patate, which I think is French for ‘The Beautiful Potato’, and he gives free poutine and soda…
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Dear Sister Robertson
Dear / Sister Vancouver/
I hope you had a great week doing missionary work and that you are not being
Confession: I can’t wait to Skype with you on Mothers Day.
Speaking of Serious, (cough) DESPERATE….Your Sister is working desperately on a research paper for Ms. (teacher who has a bird name), tonight. She put it off until the absolute last minute. Surpraise! I think I meant Surprise, but I’ll keep it. The project is a position paper on how Smart phones are bad for our health. I have been telling your sister that for ages. She is definitely addicted to her phone………me too.
I have decided your sister is no fun to tease when she is stressed.
I haven’t been feeling well. Maybe this is from my cell phone. Every school day feels like a week. It is not that fun at school these days. Testing has ensued. Our school sits directly on the Sage Fault line. Even so, Friday afternoon, I did get out the HotWheels, dominoes, and Legos for another episode of Virtual Starbucks Apprentice. Guess What?! The real Starbucks is marketing a new, ridiculous frap called the “Pink Unicorn.” The kids made me a pretend one. Starbucks should rename it “Sipp’n Siren/ Death by Sugar.” There is no way I would ingest one of these. I know I need to change my thinking about school. I am in survival mode and still stuck in the past and not loving the present. I need to be in thrive drive…but all I want to think about is the drive to the coffee drive thru.
Last night we watched E.T. on Netflix. D. had never seen it before. Of course, I had, but this time it was kind of dumb and extremely SAPPY! The best part of the movie was tiny Drew Barrymore and the flying BMX bike get-away.
Yesterday, I went to the city and spent a few hours with S. and Wyatt. It was sunny and warm enough to be out in the yard. S. spread fertilizer and weed n feed on her lawn. She and I pulled weeds and dandilions. This was a lot of fun. There were some huge rag weeds with deep roots on the strip near the road where I park Pearl. I kept joking with S., saying, “Take it easy. Don’t puncture my sidewall!” It felt good to laugh. It felt really good.
I pulled some dandies, but I mostly played and rolled around on the grass with Wyatt. He loves being outside and touching and feeling everything…..grass, leaves, tiny blossom petals on the ground, dirt, sunglasses, earrings, necklaces,etc. He sees and wants to touch everything! Fortunately he doesn’t put stuff in his mouth, but his hands are so STRONG!
Later, I hiked to the Spillway and over to Mermaid Cove. Each time I go there, I bring home a piece of driftwood, or an interesting rock. I’m making a wood flow -er, arrangement in a large glass vase.
I hiked to Rockport again, today. This was the best! I walked half way through the fields along the ditch project. It is so sad to think the ditch is dead and buried now. No more milkweed. No more Monarchs. No more running and hurdling the gaps and cow pies toward the Dam Loop.
Higher up the cedar hill, an old telephone pole looked like a cross. There were three poles, actually. These reminded me of Easter and Christ on Calvary. Beyond the scree, I scaled the rock ledges from Dead Man’s Cove over to the campgrounds and beach access. Once on the shoreline, I found a sandy moraine and a soft spot on the sand to decompress. I just breathed and soaked in the sun. It was so peaceful, D. I lay there wondering what the Sea of Galilea looks like; whether it resembles wind-tossed, choppy, Rockport. Some day you will see it for yourself.
There was a group of women on the shore laughing and talking. They had two boxer dogs and a collie. They didn’t try to box me…ha ha 🙂 The curious dogs did come to investigate though. When the women called for the dogs to come back, they didn’t mind any better than Jimmer and Bruiser used to. After some time, your sister picked me up at the boat launch. I was so grateful for this, because it was such a windy day.
It was partly sunny, and partly coldy today. I wish I had taken my hoodie with me. I feel a sore throat swelling now. I was grateful for sunglasses though. I am more wind burned than sun burned. It snowed one day last week but the weather is improving each day.
D. has MORP on April 29. She is excited and has been on the phone making plans with her friends about the date and dance, instead of writing her paper. I told her I should help her with her paper by locking her phone up in the safe. Then she would have a story to include in her paper for Ms. Hawkes. She didn’t go for it, but has now refocussed and has been working steadily for the last half hour… so there is hope.
Did you know Don’s birthday is Wednesday, April 26? He will be 23? He and his room-mate, Josh, were home this weekend to build a coffee table for their apartment out of 2x4s. The design is a table that can be used as a foot rest or table, but that can also function as two benches for extra seating. It’s really taking shape. Next time they come, they will sand and fill cracks. Last night, D., Kyler and Kendrick had a bon fire on the Bates’ side of the river.
Don told me the two of you emailed back and forth last week. Cool. Wish I could do this with you. Let me know what time you are online.
I love you. I sent a “Happy Spring” package, the day before Easter. Hopefully you get it soon.
Take care and have a wonderful week!
Love, Mom 🙂
My father, he loved trees
but I’m not sure he loved me quite as much
I know he loved the trees cuz twenty-something sweaty sun-baked holes got dug
a double shovel handle, hungry razor jaw,
hinged post-hole digger slammed
again again again
he pulled the earth and shook the sods
as if extracting rattler fangs
he pounded on
the iron mouthbit ringing out and splitting rocks
deep deeper in the heart of Chiggerville
until the acre lot out front became a bumpy scarred up place
full of tree holes for twenty- something root balls
then while he cut and pulled the twine and burlap
he sent me off and running to turn the tough red faucet
my slippery little hands just could not grip
and so I swung and kicked my whole child self
I hung in hopes I’d budge it
long last…..I did
It hissed and sighed the breath of life
it made the heavy green snake jump beneath bare feet
it came to life
a hundred feet of twitching, pulsing, jerking, muscle
Again again, my father quenched their thirst
and so, I know he loved his trees
besides, I hauled a hundred times five-gallon buckets with him
his hands were strong and calloused
the bucket handles cut my hands to blisters
And all the time, there in the shade, my brother chopped the bamboo
behind the Air Force barack, make-shift house
he worked for pennies
He couldn’t stop the rooted beasts from growing
along the flood plane, the bamboo grew an inch or two each day
nothing could stop it, not even ten times ten machettes splaying
He could have worked all day and night and never gained the upper hand
I never understood this rite of boyhood or preferential treatment
and all the while the bamboo grew
and all the while my father hoped his trees would too
I think the bamboo knew …the work of growing…better than most
It was something magic
I think my father wished this magic bamboo spell upon his trees
and prayed they would take root and grow as fast
my father loved his trees this much and more
more than the bamboo in the backyard, more than the sun
he watched them every one just like a sentinel
within the moonlight
beneath the stars
beyond the fireflies and cricket chorus
he heard the dance of armadillos
the shift and shuffle of their midnight rounds
the claw and tear and gnaw of tender shoots and roots
This made him crazy
one night I saw my father leave with haste
with gritting teeth, chest pounding
he set an angry jaw and slammed the screen door shut
then left a trail of choice words through the night air
I listened through the heat but could not see or hear much
until the painful screams began to work their terror on me
a shadow of a man with claw in hand
a bloody, muscly ball of armor jumping, squeeling
a scalloped, hairy rodent trying to flee
In time the bludgeoning hammer stopped
the air was thick and still and silent and dad returned without a word
his pants were torn and garment top was bloody
His face was red with pride
and he was smiling through the blood and dirt and sweat
He loved his trees… no doubt about it…he proved it
but I’m not sure he loved me quite as much.
A decade passed.
I went to college,
partly by luck on scholarship and paid the rest
I bought a junk heap car and got my license on my own
some Saturdays I drove the fifteen miles home when not at work
he’d be there in the yard with hose in hand
tending the trees
admiring their leaves
glowering over a first pear or peach, boasting a nut yield
cracking small pecan shells
even if it was only a dozen cracks a year
I never seemed to please him in this way
Sometimes I wonder what our life would be….. if he,
if we…. had stayed on there deep in the heart of Texas
awhile on Weil, on that land and in the Ping Pong House
another wet season on Wetz; in that strange house on stilts
if dad hadn’t had the heart attack
or retired early, or moved out West to rest.
He would have seen those trees grow to maturity
in all their fruit and beauty
They grew up….I saw them
three decades later on an autumn holiday
We, the trees and I, we had our own reunion
They were magnificent
I wonder what dad would have said, if he were living and thriving then and now
just like his trees
perhaps he’d hear them speak the Wisdom he was seeking
when he loved them
I think he’s growing trees again and wishing he had me to help him