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September, After All

From the very moment I arrived here, I felt a deep full vibrating (yet masked, of course) smile. Happy, gloriously happy to be me, with these two, my jewels.

Being aware of the endless connections. Noticing: Reciprocal Reflections of Light.

How do I describe this joy briefly? Being cared for, held.

This wind, the gusts, the varying hum. And yet, in it I am warm from the inside out. I have many tools, including friends, to help.

It is time to go see the children, to take a few books. No big planning or obligations. I am enough. We will love each other and encourage the parents.

It is September, after all.

Bridging with Birdsong

Chirps

In the City

When it became spring again, we began sleeping with our windows flung open with abandon to the fresh air. Alongside a mile-long ravine smack in the city, sometimes I woke up in the dead of night and heard an owl hoot. Or I’d wake a few hours later but still very early around 430 when the first birds were starting to warm up. Or maybe my first peek would be 30 or 45 minutes later when the cacophony had become orchestral. At some point in those earlier days of Covidtide, I decided that God was talking with me. If I stayed right on the edge of consciousness, trying to remember my dreams and not frustrating myself with the early hour, I could start—just barely—to make sense of things.

Then later in the morning perched on our covered porch in front—my anchorhold—cradling a mug of steaming coffee and curled under a down blanket, I could almost close my eyes to slits and begin to hear the tiny descant-like voices of the preschoolers who live near us. They are not always content, of course, but especially early in the day, they utter kind things to each other and their mother calls them, “My love.” Quietly and secretly, I begin to fold the syllables of their dialogue in amongst the birdsong. I pick up the soundwaves of God’s avian cantatas with human peeps and twitters folded in.

I delight when my neighbor across the street opens his home-office windows and I catch a syllable or two of French as he zooms with his business-mates through the airwaves across the sea. The pulses rise to operatic when Spanish syllables of the nearby workers join in along with the barking dogs and the tinkling sounds of our garden fountain. What could be better?

How about the magic at dusk when most of the birds have gone to rest? Then I marvel when I hear Rob call the young owls and they land on the telephone wires outside our open bedroom window. He has learned to exchange long whistles and draw them close to us.

 

At the Shore

Today we are at the beach house. I am perched among my feathered friends because the best living spaces for humans are on the second floor; our deck reaches out into the scrubby trees around us. I can see five feeders from here—two are flat; one’s a suet cage; there’s a small red-roofed swinging contraption and a sugar hummingbird feeder. The chirps and caws have settled a bit because it’s after noon now. The related sounds I notice are the flutters as the finches and ruby-throated hummers whir around me. Their tiny claws click as they grab the wire mesh. Cracks of seed come from their beaks. The little person across the canal from us adds her before-naptime complaints to the symphony. The progress of construction projects, drilling and hammering, punctuates the air.

This morning I was the first human being up and was situated under a celestial blue sky. Writing, listening, praying, and glancing up occasionally at sunshine glistening on the water nearby. Just in time to identify the white-tailed deer when I heard her prancing through the yard below me. Usually our good and quiet friends are the only people nearby when we’re here. This time though a jolly troop of mostly young adults is camping in the vacant lot between us. As they began to rise and stagger out of their tents and an abrasive-sounding motorcycle revved up, I wasted about 60 seconds lamenting and wondering, “Where has the peace-and-quiet gone?”

Then I shifted. After all, these snippets too are sounds of life—the giggles, greetings, commentary of relaxation and contentment, bacon sizzling. Around 11 o’clock, a reassuring “Daylight in the camp!” rang forth from the patriarch/new owner we are getting to know. This mixed in with grunts from the slugabeds and guffaws in response.

Again, it occurred to me. Amidst the steady birdsong, God was speaking with me. All these sounds could be encouraging. I realized this is all evidence of connection. Clearly also worthy of enjoyment, curiosity. I can be peaceful in this fun marching-band-like hoorah too. The air we share is packed with a variety of sound waves, gentle and loud too.

That’s when a little chickadee chirped close to me. I looked up to see a smaller and more-fluffy-than-usual, black-capped fledgling. About three feet from my face. The challenge was not to move and still remember the next stroke of my pen. Maybe he’d hop across those three feet to glance at the story I was writing. Or maybe not. Regardless more evidence, confirmation of the web.

We are one in song, be it percussion, melody, voice. We create an exquisite ballad sometimes accompanied, like today, by the wind chimes over there. Even more distantly, the rhythmic hum of giant waves. With certainty, the Pacific Ocean purrs underneath the other music as she rocks and cradles us all.

 

 

Trying Dialogue

WriteORama

I started with Gestalt chat. He said that two characters were easiest.

“Ok then,” said me to myself, “Use Poo-phoria and Hershey Kiss.”

I’ll spare you the details.

***

One sunny-ish Seattle afternoon, hidden on Zoom. My first foray with Hugo House, a local nonprofit for writers.

Mid-afternoon, I crafted an exchange, the beginning of a fight between Art and Vida—one that sorely needs to happen. I’ll keep that one to myself too…except from him.

Five classes later, I grabbed some middle names and started writing about Jane. Realized if I make him Black, she can be “white girl” like she already is. I can resurrect them as needed and bring a myriad of conversations to the surface. Mostly I’m recording the snippet here and now so I can see my progress six months, a year from now. At the next Write-O-Rama. Maybe it’s the beginning of a novel?

***

DIALOGUE PROMPT – “There’s blood everywhere.”

“There’s blood everywhere,” she whispered to Roderick over the phone.

“Janie, what do you mean ‘everywhere’?” Roderick murmured back to his pubescent stepdaughter.

“It’s on my white skirt. Right smack in the middle. The one with the pink roses,” she said. “Can you come get me?”

“Honey, I’m in the middle of a rehearsal. Can’t the nurse help you?”

“I’m already in her office. I just wish Mom was still here.”

“Understatement. Me too.”

“Whatever, Roderick.”

The dial tone along with the hush of three long syllables thundered in his ear.

“Damn!” he thought, “Missed another chance.”

It was always easier when she shortened his name to Rod, knowing they might never share the Dad endearment. At least not like they shared feelings of loneliness now.

 

 

 

June 2020

BLM on bike

While I have written more this month than usual, nothing has been clear enough to post. Yes, there is much to be grateful for.  I became a double great aunt. Rob learned he is cancer-free a year after diagnosis. The bees are thriving. My sister Susan turned 60. I can safely visit at Mom’s place again. I created accountability towards improving my Spanish, thanks to the native-speaking postulant in my life.  Rob has been calling the baby barred owls at dusk. And, a wee bird landed on my pajama-clad knee this morning. She preened herself before she realized where she was—just too close to big me—and flitted away in a nanosecond.

I am glad I promised myself a few years ago that I would post something at least once a month. I would find a photo to illustrate the main theme and then officially publish a few words or paragraphs, sometimes an essay.

Perhaps if I try starting with a photo, the words will jell. After all l, June is about Gay Pride! Especially glad to flaunt my helmet this month.

The real gist of June though…

About two weeks ago, early in the day, during zoom Morning Prayer, I remember freezing in my tracks. Someone mentioned something dubbed CHAZ—Capital Hill Autonomous Zone—an area in Seattle that had been blocked off overnight as a base of operations by protesters. The police had left their nearby precinct.

All of my life, on some level, I have been waiting, preparing, praying for this Transformation. Albeit in my own chicken-shit way. Especially over the last decade my life experiences have coalesced to convince me a revolution would most likely be necessary. History has shown us this, over and over again. When the discrepancies are this great, the disenfranchised rise up. Then enough of us who are white and wealthy and privileged finally GET IT. We are holed up at home and we watch those gruesome nine minutes of George Floyd’s murder. We see the statistics of who lives, who dies. And we simply know we will not be able to live with ourselves unless we join in…march, fund, amplify, listen, applaud, influence. Of course it is the right thing to do. Many have known this intellectually but the consistent boldness it requires shames me.

How clear can I be? How long can I maintain this certainty?

My fear that morning was for Carolina, my daughter. She lives a few blocks from CHOP (name changed to Capital Hill Organized Protest). For the love of her, I allowed myself to get too scared that morning. Not unlike what Black mothers live with every day on some level of consciousness. That’s it. The tears came. The empathy. Past all that intellectualizing of discerning how to join in. Just crying, shivering with Mother Love.

From here in my prayer chair in the blue room, my anchor-hold, I will continue sobbing in my grief about this predicament we have inherited and continue to protect through the status quo. Then I will conjure up memories of boldness I’ve witnessed. I will imagine change and eventual justice and peace for all. Blessed Peace for all God’s children, and their mothers, knowing today it’s Black Lives that Matter. I will do my part to undo institutional racism.

The Queen Bee

Queen Bee

Nodding to a religious construct, I am joyfully writing during The Season of Mother’s Day. Or since the Hallmark date actually fell on 05/10/2020, perhaps numerology supersedes church calendar nomenclature this year.

The 2020 celebration of moms-and-all-nurturers may have been my favorite ever. First, I was feted gloriously on Saturday. We focused on my own mother on Sunday. Now that I’ve extended the honoring of maternal-like care to a whole season, we have until Pentecost Sunday or maybe even Father’s Day before we roll into the next holiday, sacred or secular, whichever’s your preference.

Alas, there has been the bloody overlay of COVID to deal with this year. We knew the usual delight of a restaurant brunch to salute our matriarch was out. Plus since our queen mum lives in an assisted living community, even giving chocolates or flowers was going to be more complicated. We were flummoxed about how to love-her-up this year.

My super-computer-savvy sister swooped in to save the day. In no time flat, Susan gathered short video clips from us so that she could compile a short show including all of our faces and messages.

Next question: How could we get this presentation to Mom? Yes, we had managed (with the help of staff members at her facility) one zoom get-together earlier in the month that included my 92-year-old mother. But on this busy Sunday, we thought assistance for electronic-hand-holding might be less available.

We do know Mom’s favorite gift is quality-time which, frankly, makes the ache of isolation along with her age-related frailty ever-so poignant. Maybe this would be her last Mother’s Day? We’ve done our level best to observe her home’s policy that only medical personnel can visit. Then we realized showing up during her daily walk outside might just work. Hooray, the wonderful folks at her building thought so too. It was really heartening to see our queen enjoy watching her drive-by “virtual hug.”

Next stop was Snohomish Bee Company. Long before the quarantine, my husband Rob had ordered two nuclei of honeybees—aka “nucs.” Picking them up on Mother’s Day was essential. Between the two of us, we were able to install these buzzers into their hives on the roof of our church.

Chief-beekeeper Rob explained in the Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral’s annual report, “For four years, the roof…has sported a small apiary of two to four bee hives, depending on the year. Our bees have the best view of the city as well as nectar from luscious [neighborhood] gardens plus blackberry brambles in the nearby greenbelt. While approximately 35 pounds of Holy Honey was harvested in 2019, our bees have yet to survive through the winter, requiring purchase of new nucs [each] spring. Honey in nine ounce jars was sold [last year and] we sold out quickly. Money from sales [was] used to buy [more] bees. … The well-being of our bees is a critical part of Creation. We seek your continuing prayers for the longevity of honeybees.”

I must admit that the bees have been his honeys. I haven’t considered myself a worker bee; I stand in the background applauding, giving support and encouragement (and lapping up the sweet goods). After all, along with our desire that the bees make it through the winter, Rob imagines building a team of volunteers to help. Recently though, due to this crazy virus and necessary social-distancing, we need to create new ways of operating on behalf of these little creatures. I am happy to step in as sous-apiarist and prayer-coraller. This includes asking for fond thoughts, good vibes, crossed fingers, metta, well-wishes, imaginings—whatever you call hopeful requests in your spiritual vernacular. Our bees will humbly relish all of your air care.

Standing in the middle of approximately 20,000 honeybees on Sunday, I simply wanted to tell of Mother Nature’s simplicity and magnificence. I could do nothing less. After all, long before any of this business about seasons or prayers or God was written down—thousands and thousands of years ago, in the days of the dinosaurs—Bees Existed. They and their descendants have been around practically forever. Together they work efficiently to create precisely-shaped honeycomb and heavenly honey.

It didn’t surprise me one bit that while Rob was maneuvering the last frame into place, he said calmly, in his mild-mannered way, “Look, Penny, there she is, the queen.”

Of course she’s there, directing and nurturing. In the grace of all that is, my honeybun found her amidst the perfect chaos. More flat-out encouragement. We must expect nothing less.