One Man’s Trash

April 11, 2010

John and I carried the trash to the curb this afternoon for tomorrow’s garbage pick-up. Halfway through this post I rescued a vestige of my youth from the angry jowls of the trash compactor. It’s back in the garage, in all of its “Flower Power” and “Make Love Not Litter” glory.

In the summer of 1970 I was 14 years old. I know it was the summer of 1970 because I can tell you exactly what songs were on the radio. In fact, if you ask me about some date in time, I’m more likely to tell you the song I connect it to rather than the year in which it happened. Call it what you will, but it works for me.

My mother had purchased a couple of metal garbage cans and wanted them painted with Rust-Oleum. A friend and I were happy to oblige, as long as she was agreeable to the following: 1) we could paint in our bathing suits in the back yard under the hot summer sun, 2) we could exercise some artistic freedom, and 3) we could listen to the radio. Summertime by Mungo Jerry was the first song that came to mind this evening.

The fruits of our labor held vast and sundry items over a good 40 years or so, up until the bottoms rusted through. They were never used for trash. The last one sat on the back porch with a stash of bird seed and was finally retired by John and I when the critters made their way in and the seed began to dwindle.

So. I guess when we are dead and gone, this will be one of the strange things the kids find in the garage. I have had a great time writing this post. It’s taken a lot longer than most since I got waylaid in YouTube listening to the Billboard hits of 1970. If you are a music lover like me, and a product of this space and time, you will probably enjoy strolling through the list and rememberings of your own.

At least for now, this is one faded and outdated treasure I’m not ready to let go of.

————————-

  • 25 or 6 to 4 – Chicago (#4)
  • 5-10-15-20 (25-30 Years of Love) – The Presidents (#11)
  • ABC – The Jackson 5 (#1)
  • After Midnight – Eric Clapton (#18)
  • Ain’t It Funky Now (Part 1) – James Brown (#24) (instrumental)
  • Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Diana Ross (#1)
  • Airport Love Theme (Gwen & Vern) – Vincent Bell & Orchestra (#31) (instrumental)
  • All I Have To Do Is Dream – Bobbie Gentry & Glen Campbell (#27)
  • All Right Now – Free (#4)
  • Always Something There to Remind Me – R.B. Greaves (#27)
  • American Woman – The Guess Who (#1)
  • Amos Moses – Jerry Reed (#8)
  • Are You Ready? – Pacific Gas & Electric (#14)
  • As the Years Go By – Mashmakhan (#31)
  • Baby Hold On – The Grass Roots (#35)
  • Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today) – The Temptations (#3)
  • Band of Gold – Freda Payne (#3)
  • Be My Baby – Andy Kim (#17)
  • The Bells – The Originals (#12)
  • Big Yellow Taxi – The Neighborhood (#29)
  • Black Magic Woman – Santana (#4)
  • Blowing Away – The 5th Dimension (#21)
  • Border Song (Holy Moses) – Aretha Franklin (#37)
  • Born to Wander – Rare Earth (#17)
  • Breaking Up Is Hard to Do – Lenny Welch (#34)
  • Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel (#1)
  • Brother Rapp (Parts 1 & 2) – James Brown (#32)
  • Call Me – Aretha Franklin (#13)
  • Can’t Stop Loving You – Tom Jones (#25)
  • Candida – Dawn (#3)
  • Cecilia – Simon & Garfunkel (#4)
  • Celebrate – Three Dog Night (#15)
  • Check Out Your Mind – The Impressions (#28)
  • Closer to Home – Grand Funk Railroad (#22)
  • Come And Get It – Badfinger (#7)
  • Come Running – Van Morrison (#39)
  • Come Saturday Morning – The Sandpipers (#17)
  • Cracklin’ Rosie – Neil Diamond (#1)
  • Cry Me A River – Joe Cocker (#11)
  • Daughter of Darkness – Tom Jones (#13)
  • Deeper and Deeper – Freda Payne (#24)
  • Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) – The Delfonics (#10)
  • Do It – Neil Diamond (#36)
  • Do the Funky Chicken – Rufus Thomas (#28)
  • Do What You Wanna Do – Five Flights Up (#37)
  • Do You See My Love (for You Growing) – Jr. Walker & The All-Stars (#32)
  • Domino – Van Morrison (#9)
  • Don’t Play That Song (You Lied) – Aretha Franklin (#11)
  • Easy Come, Easy Go – Bobby Sherman (#9)
  • El Condor Pasa – Simon & Garfunkel (#18)
  • The End of Our Road – Marvin Gaye (#40)
  • Engine Number 9 – Wilson Pickett (#14)
  • Everybody’s Got the Right to Love – The Supremes (#21)
  • Everybody’s Out of Town – B.J. Thomas (#26)
  • Everybody Is A Star – Sly And Family Stone (#1)
  • Everything Is Beautiful – Ray Stevens (#1)
  • Everything’s Tuesday – Chairmen of the Board (#38)
  • Evil Ways – Santana (#9)
  • Evil Woman Don’t Play Your Games With Me – Crow (#19)
  • Express Yourself – Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band (#12)
  • Fancy – Bobbie Gentry (#31)
  • Fire and Rain – James Taylor (#3)
  • For the Good Times – Ray Price (#11)
  • For the Love of Him – Bobbi Martin (#13)
  • For You Blue – The Beatles (#1)
  • Games – Redeye (#27)
  • Get Ready – Rare Earth (#4)
  • Get Up I Feel Like Being Like a Sex Machine (Part 1) – James Brown (#15)
  • Gimme Dat Ding – The Pipkins (#9)
  • Give Me Just a Little More Time – Chairmen of the Board (#3)
  • Go Back – Crabby Appleton (#36)
  • God, Love and Rock & Roll – Teegarden & Van Winkle (#22)
  • Gotta Hold on to This Feeling – Jr. Walker & The All-Stars (#21)
  • Green-Eyed Lady – Sugarloaf (#3)
  • Groovy Situation – Gene Chandler (#12)
  • Gypsy Woman – Brian Hyland (#3)
  • Hand Me Down World – The Guess Who (#17)
  • He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – Neil Diamond (#20)
  • He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – The Hollies (#7)
  • Heaven Help Us All – Stevie Wonder (#9)
  • Heed the Call – Kenny Rogers & The First Edition (#33)
  • Hello Darlin’ – Conway Twitty (#1)
  • Hey Lawdy Mama – Steppenwolf (#35)
  • Hey, Mister Sun – Bobby Sherman (#24)
  • Hey There Lonely Girl – Eddie Holman (#2)
  • Hi-De-Ho – Blood, Sweat & Tears (#14)
  • Hitchin’ a Ride – Vanity Fare (#5)
  • Honey Come Back – Glen Campbell (#19)
  • The House Of the Rising Sun – Frijid Pink (#7)
  • I Ain’t Got Time Anymore – The Glass Bottle (#36)
  • I Am Somebody (Part 2) – Johnnie Taylor (#39)
  • I Found That Girl – The Jackson Five
  • I Just Can’t Help Believing – B.J. Thomas (#9)
  • (I Know) I’m Losing You – Rare Earth (#7)
  • I Really Don’t Want to Know – Elvis Presley (#21)
  • I Think I Love You – The Partridge Family (#1)
  • I Want to Take You Higher – Sly & The Family Stone (#38)
  • I Want to Take You Higher – Ike & Tina Turner (#34)
  • I (Who Have Nothing) – Tom Jones (#14)
  • I’ll Be There – The Jackson 5 (#1)
  • I’m Not My Brother’s Keeper – The Flaming Ember (#34)
  • I’ve Lost You – Elvis Presley (#32)
  • If I Were a Carpenter – Johnny Cash & June Carter (#36)
  • If I Were Your Woman – Gladys Knight & The Pips (#9)
  • If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot (#5)
  • (If You Let Me Make Love to You Then) Why Can’t I Touch You? – Ronnie Dyson (#8)
  • Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin (#16)
  • In the Summertime – Mungo Jerry (#3)
  • Indiana Wants Me – R. Dean Taylor (#5)
  • Instant Karma (We All Shine On) – John Ono Lennon (#3)
  • Isn’t It a Pity – George Harrison
  • It Don’t Matter to Me – Bread (#10)
  • It’s a New Day (Parts 1 & 2) – James Brown (#32)
  • It’s a Shame – Spinners (#14)
  • It’s All in the Game – Four Tops (#24)
  • It’s Only Make Believe – Glen Campbell (#10)
  • Jennifer Tomkins – Street People (#36)
  • Jingle Jangle – The Archies (#10)
  • Joanne – Michael Nesmith & The First National Band (#21)
  • Julie, Do Ya Love Me – Bobby Sherman (#5)
  • Kentucky Rain – Elvis Presley (#16)
  • Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me – Robin McNamara (#11)
  • Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) – Melanie with The Edwin Hawkins Singers (#6)
  • Let A Man Come in and Do the Popcorn (Part 2) – James Brown (#40)
  • Let It Be – The Beatles (#1)
  • Let Me Go to Him – Dionne Warwick (#32)
  • Let’s Work Together – Canned Heat (#26)
  • Let’s Work Together (Part 1) – Wilbert Harrison (#32)
  • The Letter – Joe Cocker with Leon Russell (#7)
  • Little Green Bag – George Baker Selection (#21)
  • Lola – The Kinks (#9)
  • The Long and Winding Road – The Beatles (#1)
  • Long Lonesome Highway – Michael Parks (#20)
  • Long Long Time – Linda Ronstadt (#25)
  • Look What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma – The New Seekers (#14)
  • Lookin’ Out My Back Door – Creedence Clearwater Revival (#2)
  • Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) – Edison Lighthouse (#5)
  • Love Land – Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band (#16)
  • Love on a Two-Way Street – The Moments (#3)
  • Love or Let Me Be Lonely – The Friends of Distinction (#6)
  • Love the One You’re With – Stephen Stills (#14)
  • The Love You Save – The Jackson 5 (#1)
  • Lucretia MacEvil – Blood, Sweat & Tears (#29)
  • Ma Belle Amie – The Tee Set (#5)
  • Make It Easy on Yourself – Dionne Warwick (#37)
  • Make It With You – Bread (#1)
  • Make Me Smile – Chicago (#9)
  • Mama Told Me (Not to Come) – Three Dog Night (#1)
  • Maybe – The Three Degrees (#29)
  • Midnight Cowboy – Ferrante & Teicher (#10) (instrumental)
  • Mississippi – John Phillips (#32)
  • Mississippi Queen – Mountain (#21)
  • Montego Bay – Bobby Bloom (#8)
  • Most of All – B.J. Thomas (#38)
  • Mr. Bojangles – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (#9)
  • My Baby Loves Lovin’ – White Plains (#13)
  • My Sweet Lord – George Harrison (#1)
  • Neanderthal Man – Hotlegs (#22)
  • Never Had a Dream Come True – Stevie Wonder (#26)
  • No Matter What – Badfinger (#8)
  • No Time – The Guess Who (#5)
  • O-o-h Child – The Five Stairsteps (#8)
  • Oh Happy Day – Glen Campbell (#40)
  • Ohio – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (#14)
  • One Less Bell to Answer – The 5th Dimension (#2)
  • Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Neil Young (#33)
  • Our House – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (#30)
  • Out In the Country – Three Dog Night (#15)
  • Overture from Tommy (A Rock Opera) – The Assembled Multitude (#16) (instrumental)
  • Patches – Clarence Carter (#4)
  • Peace Will Come (According to Plan) – Melanie (#32)
  • Precious, Precious – Jackie Moore (#30)
  • Psychedelic Shack – The Temptations (#7)
  • Puppet Man – The 5th Dimension (#24)
  • Question – The Moody Blues (#21)
  • Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head – B.J. Thomas (#1)
  • Rainy Night In Georgia – Brook Benton (#4)
  • The Rapper – The Jaggerz (#2)
  • Reach Out a nd Touch (Somebody’s Hand) – Diana Ross (#20)
  • Reflections of My Life – The Marmalade (#10)
  • Remember Me – Diana Ross (#16)
  • Ride Captain Ride – Blues Image (#4)
  • Rubber Duckie – Ernie (Jim Henson) (#16)
  • Save the Country – The 5th Dimension (#27)
  • See Me, Feel Me – The Who (#12)
  • Share the Land – The Guess Who (#10)
  • She Came in Through the Bathroom Window – Joe Cocker (#30)
  • Shilo – Neil Diamond (#24)
  • Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours – Stevie Wonder (#3)
  • Silver Bird – Mark Lindsay (#25)
  • The Sly, Slick, and the Wicked – The Lost Generation (#30)
  • Snowbird – Anne Murray (#8)
  • Solitary Man – Neil Diamond (#21)
  • Somebody’s Watching You – Little Sister (#32)
  • Something’s Burning – Kenny Rogers & The First Edition (#11)
  • Son-of-a-Preacher Man – Aretha Franklin (#13)
  • A Song of Joy (Himno A La Alegria) – Miguel Rios (#14)
  • Soolaimon (African Trilogy II) – Neil Diamond (#30)
  • Spill the Wine – Eric Burdon & War (#3)
  • Spirit in the Dark – Aretha Franklin (#23)
  • Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum (#3)
  • Stand By Your Man – Candi Staton (#24)
  • Steal Away – Johnnie Taylor (#37)
  • Still Water (Love) – Four Tops (#11)
  • Stoned Love – The Supremes (#7)
  • Stoney End – Barbra Streisand (#6)
  • Stop the War Now – Edwin Starr (#26)
  • Sugar Sugar – Wilson Pickett (#25)
  • Summertime Blues – The Who (#27)
  • Super Bad (Parts 1 & 2) – James Brown (#13)
  • Sweet Mary – Wadsworth Mansion (#7)
  • Teach Your Children – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (#16)
  • The Tears Of A Clown – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (#1)
  • Tell It All Brother – Kenny Rogers & The First Edition (#17)
  • Temma Harbour – Mary Hopkin (#39)
  • Tennessee Bird Walk – Jack Blanchard & Misty Morgan (#23)
  • Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) – Sly & The Family Stone (#1)
  • That’s Where I Went Wrong – Poppy Family (featuring Susan Jacks) (#29)
  • (They Long to Be) Close to You – Carpenters (#1)
  • The Thrill Is Gone – B.B. King (#15)
  • Tighter, Tighter – Alive and Kicking (#7)
  • Travelin’ Band – Creedence Clearwater Revival (#2)
  • Trying to Make a Fool of Me – The Delfonics (#40)
  • Turn Back the Hands of Time – Tyrone Davis (#3)
  • Ugena Za Ulimwengu (Unite the World) – The Temptations (#33)
  • United We Stand – The Brotherhood of Man (#13)
  • Up Around the Bend – Creedence Clearwater Revival (#4)
  • Up on Cripple Creek – The Band (#25)
  • Up the Ladder to the Roof – The Supremes (#10)
  • Vehicle – The Ides of March (#2)
  • Viva Tirado (Part 1) – El Chicano (#28) (instrumental)
  • Walk A Mile in My Shoes – Joe South & The Believers (#12)
  • War – Edwin Starr (#1)
  • We Gotta Get You a Woman – Runt (Todd Rundgren) (#20)
  • We’ve Only Just Begun – Carpenters (#2)
  • Westbound #9 – The Flaming Ember (#24)
  • What Is Truth? – Johnny Cash (#19)
  • Which Way You Goin’ Billy? – Poppy Family (#2)
  • Who’s Your Baby – The Archies (#40)
  • Winter World of Love – Engelbert Humperdinck (#16)
  • The Wonder of You – Elvis Presley (#9)
  • Wonderful World, Beautiful People – Jimmy Cliff (#25)
  • Woodstock – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (#11)
  • Yellow River – Christie (#23)
  • You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me – Elvis Presley (#11)
  • You Need Love Like I Do (Don’t You) – Gladys Knight & The Pips (#25)
  • You’re the One (Part 1) – Little Sister (#22)
  • (You’ve Got Me) Dangling on a String – Chairmen of the Board (#38)
  • Your Song – Elton John (#8)
  • Your Time to Cry – Joe Simon (#40)
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Birthday Thoughts

February 28, 2010

My mom would have celebrated her 92nd birthday today. Her name was Viola, a name my daughter shares. Her friends called her Vi. My cousins called her Aunt Vi-lola. My kids called her Gram. Actually, my son first called her mom. Most likely because that’s what he heard me say.

She was widowed at 56, 57 when I married, and just shy of her 76th birthday when she died. I reflect on these numbers now because in my mid-fifties, I often find myself thinking about our similarities and differences. Being a grandmother has given me yet another comparison to draw from, being just a few years younger than when her first grandchild came along.

Except for brief periods of my life, we kept in close contact. When I was in college, we communicated on an “as needed” basis, admittedly more to meet my needs, than hers. After my father’s passing I moved back home. I wish she would have made me stay in school, but she didn’t. Within a year, I set up a household of my own. We loved each other, but didn’t like each other so much when we lived under the same roof. After a brief cooling off period, we spoke to each other almost daily.

It was a small amount of time set aside from a busy day to say good morning, what’s on your plate for the day, and I love you. It’s interesting to think about how communication has changed over the years. In the mid-seventies, the phone was our only option, limited by the length of the coiled cord, and the calling area. Remember long distance? There were no cell phones, but phone booths aplenty, if you had a quarter.  No e-mail, Twitter, Chat, or Facebook to read. For a young mother, there were no mommy-blogs, parenting networks, or Google. It’s hard to remember life without Google. But there was always mom. And she was only a phone call away.

After my brother married and moved away, there was the two of us.  We usually spoke in the morning, and again in the evening. She was alone and there was some comfort in knowing she was up for the day or home for the night. As she grew older, it was a necessity. But for the most part, I wanted to share my life with her. Still, after all these years, when something exciting happens I get the urge to pick up the phone and call, quickly followed by the sad realization that she is not there anymore to answer. And then I miss her.

Truth be told, she depended on me – our family. We helped with the yard work and the odd jobs that needed done. I went out once a week to sweep her hair up into that french curl. Sometimes the kids and I had to set time aside to make the drive out, but it was worth it to her. And as I look back, it was worth it to us, as well. As she got older, she would talk about how hard it was to get up and down the stairs. Now I walk the same stairs daily, and I understand. Often, more often lately, I find myself thinking this house is too big to keep up, and I understand. I think of my kids, and I understand.

It really wasn’t much different a relationship than most of my friends had with their mothers, back in the day. In fact I tested this theory with my friends at work and found that to be true, even today. For some time, I carried a sense of guilt about the close relationship I had with my mom. Perhaps over the years it had been at the expense of my family. It’s baggage I’ve decided not to carry around anymore. It seems like a little thing, but there is great comfort in this resolution. Sharing the sometimes menial details of our day-to-day lives was a good thing.

Finally there is a sense of satisfaction here. It was time well spent, even if only for two people. My mom and I.

my life according to dylan

February 20, 2010

or, listening to music like we did back in the day.

Dilling posted this meme few weeks ago, and today I had the time and good fortune to do the same. While fiddling around in the music, an interesting thing happened…

Using only song titles from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions…
Try not to repeat a song title. It’s a lot harder than you think!
Post as “my life according to (band name)”

In order to be successful, I would need to pick an artist that I liked, but more importantly, one that is a prolific writer. Bob Dylan fit the bill, although the true Dylan fan in our twodom is John. My taste in Dylan has progressed like my taste in wine. My friend Rita calls it “a more mature a palette”. I found a CD I really like a couple years back. That was all it took.

John sent me to My Back Pages, the ultimate website for Dylan fans, where I ended up in a mire of titles and lyrics. Then I had to listen to the songs. So we tapped his CD collection and he hooked me up to the links, by album. As I write, we are listening to Blood on the Tracks, Tangled Up In Blue. I love that song. Best of all, as we listen to the CD, I’m reading the lyrics. READING THE LYRICS! Flashback to the vinyl days when there was actually print large enough to read. Ah, those were the days!

In the midst of all of this, I sucked John into blogging again. He agreed to let me pull his blog into WordPress, and as I write, he is working on the same list I am. I can’t wait to compare his post to mine…

PICK YOUR ARTIST:
Bob Dylan
ARE YOU MALE OR FEMALE:
Just Like a Woman
DESCRIBE YOURSELF:
Tough Mama
HOW DO YOU FEEL:
Like a Rolling Stone
DESCRIBE WHERE YOU CURRENTLY LIVE:
Girl of the North Country
IF YOU COULD GO ANYWHERE, WHERE WOULD YOU GO:
On The Road Again
YOUR FAVORITE FORM OF TRANSPORTATION:
Down the Highway
YOUR BEST FRIEND IS:
Forever Young
YOU AND YOUR BEST FRIENDS ARE:
Shelter from the Storm
WHAT’S THE WEATHER LIKE:
Winterlude
FAVORITE TIME OF DAY:
New Morning
IF YOUR LIFE WAS A TV SHOW, IT WOULD BE CALLED:
Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee
WHAT IS LIFE TO YOU:
Simple Twist of Fate
YOUR CURRENT RELATIONSHIP:
If Not For you
YOUR FEAR:
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
A FOND MEMORY:
Summer Days
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE TO GIVE:
Gotta Serve Somebody
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
The Times They Are A-Changin
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO DIE?
I Shall Be Released
YOUR SOUL’S PRESENT CONDITION:
Blowin in the Wind
MOST FAITHFUL COMPANION:
You Gotta Quit Kicking My Dog Around
YOUR MOTTO:
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

A Brilliant Blaze

April 23, 2009

People who don’t blog, or have an internet presence, don’t have any idea how we grow on-line relationships. But we do, and even though we may never meet eye to eye, the friendships are just as strong and caring.

I came to know Joycelyn Ward, Maya’s Granny, over two years ago. I don’t remember how we connected, but she took an interest in some posts I did called “In a Nutshell”. They were rememberings based on questions from a book we had in common. Before long, she was sharing her thoughts as well. We traded stories and passions through our posts. I never met her, but mourned her passing last June just the same.

The link to her blog remains in my sidebar, and in my Google Reader. I visit it occasionally. There are many good reads tucked away there. This afternoon the link showed bold, indicating a new post. I quickly followed the link to her blog and found a note from her daughter for Joycelyn’s birthday along with this quote which seems to fit so well. I’ll leave you tonight with these thoughts.

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”
~Jack London

Thinking of that magnificent glow…

Something So Right

July 22, 2008

It’s been such a long time, I almost forgot how to do this! But this is the first time in quite a while that there seems to be something worthy of posting about. Maybe this will get me going again. Who knows? I sure have missed everyone.

In January of 2007 I wrote about how my mother’s Christmas Cactus gifted us with a few splendid blooms, rather unexpectedly and a little late, but welcome just the same. For as long as I can remember, this cactus was at the center and front of the big picture window at my mom’s house, the same one we call home. Every winter we would enjoy the reassurance her flowers would bring in the dead of winter when every other bit of green was buried in snow.

It took me a good long time, after my mother died in 1993, to be able to look at what was left of her life in this house. Shelves and shelves of books, jars of buttons and boxes of fabric, projects in various stages of completion. And the clothes still hanging in the closet. I had made countless trips that started with determination, but ended in a sort of overwhelming numbness, pulling the door shut and locking it for another time. There was just a glimmer of life left in her Christmas beauty by the time my darkness lifted. All the other plants had given in, but this one had held on just long enough for me to come around. Interesting how it worked out that way.

I took her home and nursed her back. It sounds silly, but the steady growth was nourishing for me as well. Eventually the seasonal blooms returned, and after 15 years her size has almost doubled. This year she was full of warm pink blooms that remained long after the holiday. When it was warm enough this spring, we moved her to the back porch where the morning sunlight is softly filtered. At first it was a little unnerving to see her bright green fade, but in a few days she began to shoot out new growth, and I knew we were good to go until fall. I giver her a drink every once in a while, and she does the rest.

Tonight as Willi was standing at the grill, a small bird darted over his shoulder and landed in a tree, not far from the back porch. Then he began to hear little voices coming from behind. Following the sound, we soon discovered why the bird remained so close at hand.

Sheltered under the cover of my mother’s Christmas Cactus we found a nest full of feathery little beauties. And as the birth of my grandson draws near, this gift of life just seems to be something so right.

Lesson in Life

May 18, 2008

Today would have been my father’s 90th birthday. He’s been gone now for 35 years. He died just a few days shy of his 56th birthday, in the spring of 1974. One year after I graduated from high school. I was 18.

I can’t help feeling that I got the short end of the stick, even though I was his shadow for much of my growing up. Well, as much as there was in those 18 years. He taught me the value of a job well done. There’s no substitute for good tools, and the knowledge to use them. And when the necessary tools are nowhere to be found, the instinct and intellect to punt is just as good. Together we marveled at the splendor of the world around us, and learned to savor what nature had provided us. As well as it’s stewardship that was our duty. Pretty good lessons. But I sure would have enjoyed knowing him as an adult. There are so many questions I would have liked to ask.

As I look back on it now, I think the best lesson to be learned is that life is too short. If he would have made it just five more years, he would have met his grandchildren. Both of them. And the wonders of their growing up would have brought him so much joy. It causes me to reflect on my own life, with a grandson on the way. Not that I’m planning a hasty departure, but I am only four years away from his age when we lost him. It does make me stop and take note. And rightfully so, because I have fallen into the trap that is work. For what seemed to be a somewhat lucrative step up, I now realize the price I paid was my life as I knew it. If you’ve been checking in on me, I’m sure you have noticed that I’m not around much. That’s because there’s just not much left. At all. Although there’s no turning back, there must be a way to manage it so that it doesn’t consume what little joy there is left. There is more to life than what I am living right now and I’m too damn stubborn to throw in the towel.

So. You probably won’t be seeing much of me until I sort through this mess. It’s going to take some big cahoochies to shed myself of some of the baggage I’m carrying around. And if I still have a job when this is all done, well that will be a good thing. But if not, at least I know how to handle a hammer and nail. And then there’s always fishing.

The Loose Change Rule

March 16, 2008

When you see a penny on the ground, do you bend over and pick it up? How about a quarter? A dollar? What amount is enough to make you stop and look? I always pick it up and put it in my pocket, even if it’s just a penny. Most times if Willi is there to see me do it I’ll get a good teasing, but that’s all right.

change.jpg

I have always had a jar of some sort for loose change. What started out as a Ball jar graduated to a big blue glass water bottle. Now I have a gallon size plastic pickle jar.

Back in the day it held money for lunch and field trips for my kids. There were more than a few times, when I was learning to make it on my own, that the jar and I went to the bank for groceries. It’s amazing how fast those wayward coins added up to dollars. Those coins nobody wanted to bother with, until they turned into gas, and food. Thankfully those days are history, but the jar remains. Old habits die hard. And so does my penchant for picking up pennies.

This brings me to the loose change rule. At one point when my kids were in high school we seemed to gather lost souls. I’m really not sure how this came about, but the empty rooms, as well as the chairs around the dinner table, became full. It was probably the closest I came to communal living. Either that, or being a single mother with a gackle of teenagers and all of the angst that comes along with it. At any rate, they were always leaving loose change on the end tables, on the ledge above the washer, in the cushions of the couch and any other number of odd places. It was then that I adopted the loose change rule, which is “If it’s loose change, it’s mine, and it goes in the jar.”

In those days it turned into grocery money. We all laughed about it, but not when it was dinner time. Those kiddos have grown up now and are in various stages of adulthood, with husbands and wives, and kids, and jobs. We kept in touch for the first few years. Now they are spread out and only gather for the most recent wedding or shower.

The loose change rule doesn’t have near the meaning that it use to with just Willi and I. Nowadays it just turns into fun money. For the last few years I have cashed in the change for our passes to Tin Pan South, and of course the loose change goes back in the jar. It’s just about time to do it again.

I thought of it today as I raked some dimes and a nickel out of the washing machine. I put them in my pocket and deposited them in the jar when I got upstairs. I wonder if any of those kiddos have a loose change rule. Do they think of it with a smile when they take the change out of their pocket at the end of the day? I do.