Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Yours ...Truly

What are your obsessions? Your interests, your hobbies, your passions that make you uniquely you?

Our neighbor has a room in his basement where he hand paints tiny replicas of real French soldiers. In his garage-turned-woodshop, my husband has a display of old saws. Our friend, whose dream is to open a brew pub, owns over a thousand beer glasses.

As for me, I have a thing for the funny dresses I find in the Goodwill bins. Dresses with big flowers and flounces and pleats and puffs. They're usually crammed into a narrow closet full of things I don't actually wear in public, but every now and then I pull one out and put it on, and all day long I want to laugh.

On my silly dresses I often wear a little pin - a bluebird, a butterfly, a ladybug. By far my favorite one is the honey bee. I've had it so long I don't even remember who gave it to me, but I like to think it was a gift from my grandmother.

Gram lived to be 101. A few weeks before she died she took my cold hand between her two warm ones. By the time I left her, my whole body felt like a glowing furnace, like I could heat a room, a house, the world with the warmth Gram gave to me.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

O Pioneers!

Hello friends! 

I’m about to have a birthday, which makes me think of new adventures. Not African safaris or expeditions into the Amazon. I’m thinking about the kind of adventures I see people all around me embracing every day as they explore new territories within their own lives. Like our movie-loving friend Jeff who left his longtime job as an ad-man to re-open a theater appropriately named The Joy. Or the couple next door who just got married at an outdoor wedding in the Columbia Gorge. Or my brother James - a father of two grown children - who's started running races in recent years. Or our teenage daughter who decided to be a vegan and eagerly searches the web each morning for new recipes. Or her English teacher, Mr. Gordin, who went back to school to get his master’s degree. Or our son who’s creating an online consortium of movie critics. Or my cousin’s husband who’s been learning to speak Spanish. Or my friend Lindy who retired from her job as a high school counselor and is diving into the art of fiction writing. Or my husband, who once learned to swim at his neighborhood's Cabana Club and has just taken up the sport again, stopping at our community center to do a few laps before coming home from work.

Today in Portland the sky is a solid sheet of November gray, but the golden leaves are glowing and new possibilities are astir, as thrilling as an autumn breeze.

Here’s to all of you, dear friends, as you each embark on your own adventures. May we all continue to delight, surprise and inspire each other in myriad ways and at any age.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Some BLT's and a Pot of Tea

Here's an excerpt from my essay "Baila Conmigo," which appeared in Perceptions Magazine of the Arts last spring -

El Día de los Muertos is a day of celebration. In Mexico the banks are closed and in Guatemala people fly giant kites. People all over the world make elaborate altars, ofrendas, in their homes and prepare the favorite foods of their departed loved ones.

If our family celebrated the Day of the Dead, I'd make BLT's for my grandmother, who lived to be 101. For my mother-in-law, who grew up on a farm in Scotland, I’d serve biscuits with a pot of Tetley Tea. To honor my father, we’d have handfuls of cookies and bowls of ice cream—the foods he wasn’t allowed to have when he was living.

Some say that the souls of the dead return to earth each year. I think my mother-in-law, who died 18 years ago, returned last spring. I dreamed I saw her wearing a tweed skirt and a cardigan she’d knit herself.

Sometimes I think of this:  E.M. Forster’s life and mine overlapped for eight years. Maud Hart Lovelace was living in California when I first read her book Heaven to Betsy. Laura Ingalls Wilder was still alive when my parents met.

“Only connect,” our friend E.M. famously said.