Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wheel of life them continues. A friend's husbands father died today at 92 0r 93. he went to the clinic to have a broken arm Xrayed to see how well it was healing and died bery quickly of a heart attack on the XRay table. I know he will be missed and mourned, even having lived out his long life cycle. Still another friend has a dad in ICU with multiple organ failure - very critical.

These circumstances made me think about the recent words of another friend. On two different occasions she wrote "Horror always accompanies death." and "We are never ready to lose our parents." I don't think either of these things was true of me. Mama had been so lost in dementia and terror for so long - I was relieved she didn't have to quail from imagined FBI agents with guns anymore. She had been a proud beautiful woman and suffered painful indignities and total lostness in her dementia. I actually prayed that she would stop fearing death and walk into its arms. When she finally did, I closed her eyes and kissed her forehead, helped nurses wash and redress her, and pushed her gurney out to the hearse myself. Her passing seemd a relief. With Daddy it was different. He was himself up to the endand I did not see his death coming - but by the time he was suffereing multi organ failure after major heart surgery, it seemed clear his time had come. He saw it too. I miss him to this day, but I did feel ready - like it would have been pushing the river to wish he wouldn't die. And I was relieved that he held onto his mind - was working on physics theory the day his embolism started to leak - and wasn't ever forced to lose himself.

Even if I should die tonight, but especially if I live to a great age, I hope my family members feel no horror at my death and that, if my life cycle has been lived out, they do not feel it is impossible to be ready and accepting. My Aunt Toni, on her 80'th birthday (because I expressed fear of losing her to death) told me that she considered any further years gravy. She had a large serving of gravy, living into her nineties and dying an easy death while still in possession of her faculties. She tole me it was fine to miss her, but not to consider her death wrong in any way -that she had lived out her alotted years.
No Endings

There are no endings
only cycles, circles.
Snake swallows tail.
There are no endings.
Sweet circle of birth and death spins and spins. I spent some time this afternoon with a young man who I have come to care deeply about and respect greatly. After more than a year of success against a usually fatal kind of brain tumor, he is beginning to lose ground - the tumor to grow fast again. They have not given up hope - are trying a different chemo drug. His first baby is due in October. I also talked today with a young woman who found out she was pregnant with her first child a few days after her mother committed suicide. And my own daughter and her husband are trying for a new pregnancy while still grieving their little daughter Mira, who died unborn. All the balance, birth and death, renders be quiet inside - pensive. Who knows the number of our days? No one. Best to work on quality.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I'm feeling tired tonight and not very creative - but satisfied after a good first day back at work and the second evening out in a row with friends from out of town - delightful! I am thankful again to have work I love - and that I feel able to do well - but need to sleep. Tomorrow starts early.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Walking on the campus of the University of California at Irvine really gave me a sense of time passing and my own aging. When I walked on that campus as a high school senior the wide circular meadow in the middle of campus had just a few saplings - really felt treeless, like a golf course. Now it is a grove of LARGE trees. I hope I have developed as much as a person as they have as trees! Time really is passing.

Also, walking on the Irvine campus, I was caught by a visual sea of red - tiny red flags stuck in a piece of earth between sidewalks. This was a visual reminder of the number of young women currently in school at Irvine who are predicted to be victims of sexual assault some time between their birth and their college graduation based on current statistics. It was chilling to see each flag as a story. Also, the statistic that one in four youg women is likely to be sexually assaulted between birth and college graduation shakes me. I want to lock K.K. in a closet (but of course that isn't living and is a way of letting the bad guys win). Last night I talked about the Irvine display at the seder and Ruth said that when she was an undergraduate participating in a Take Back the Night program the statistic was one in three regarding rape - not just general sexual assault - so unless the research bases are different there has been an improvement. Still unacceptable.
This was a good day home - a first day home after traveling, a beginning kind of day. I loved sleeping late with Bob, grocery shopping, taking a walk - just the sweet ordinary. And Ruth and Chris made a beautiful seder for us all (with Marie and Bill sharing). I felt very loved that they shifted the date of the Passover celebration to the last day rather than one of the first two so Bob and I could participate. The food was delicious and the company and ritual renewing - body, mind, hear, soul. I felt sad that this wasn't the happy, giddy, "Ruth is pregnant and can't have any wine" Passover I was expecting. I missed the hope of Mira. And I looked at Ruth and Chris in their love and hopefulness and realized that holding onto expectations is one of the oppressions from which we celebrate freedom at Passover. This is a spring of so many unexpected changes, unwanted changes. I think the best I can do is meet each moment as it comes, and tonight that seems just fine.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Amazing mix of centuries, riding the train through Big Bend Country typing away on my lap top. Uncanny. I've loved this trip - everything about it. I hope to travel by train again soon. I'm having a delightful trip home, watching for prong horns and mule deer, jack rabbits and hawks on the desert hills in air-conditioned comfort. We just saw a flock of six big wild turkeys without even sweating. What luxury!

I thought I would be less comfortable in the chair car without the isolation of my little compartment (upgrade was very expensive for the return trip) but I'm fine. I slept well last night all cuddled up under my pink chenille cover. I actually think I slept more soundly than either of the nights in the compartment, but not for any particular reason. Sleep is just fickle.

Today I'm enjoying overhearing conversations. People traveling with me are diverse in age, race, circumstances of travel. The young family behind me is doing amazingly well traveling with three little girls, six months and maybe three and four. The man sitting in front of me actually got an autograph from Sandy Koufax back in 1959 - saw Drysdale pitch against Gibson.

I'm excited that I will be back in Bob's arms in my own bed tonight, even if late.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

After everyone else left Big Bear Lake, Peggy and I went birding and, with directions from a man at a birding store called Wild Wings, found a bald eagle's nest with the eagle sitting on it. That was half way predictable - something we could influence getting to see by asking the right questions of the right person. But as we were climbing the steps to the cabin, still talking about the wonder of having seen the eagle, he or she flew right over us, close - utterly unpredictable! What a blessing.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hard to write about a writing workshop - too busy writing to write ABOUT writing. I love being up here at Peggy's perfect vacation house at Big Bear writing poems about the development of our lives. Our themes move through life - beginnings, emergence, accomplishments, points of transformation, unfinished business, what's next?, wisdom. My friends surprise and touch me with the depth of their pain and the richness of their laughter, with their insights, growth, hope. I love these women. We can get locked out in the cold trying to look at the gibbous moon, and laugh at ourselves. We can feed each other and help each other and teach each other - good to be part of this community.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Big Bend country still blooms with yucca and leafed out ocotillo - and the pronghorns graze in healthy herds. The desert sunset flamed scarlet and purple just as it does in my memory. I've enjoyed the meals, even the ritual of sitting with strangers to dine - hearing snippets of people's stories - retired couples who travel often by train for pleasure, a young woman going back home from Arizona to see her parents in California after a year a way working, a New Yorker who was in the World Trade Towers when the plan tit, got out right away, didn't talk about it more, had more to say about the difficulty of getting a decent apartment in the city.

The train was delayed getting up the California coast by broken track and freight trains, I loved it that lateness didn't really matter to me - for me. I loved not being trapped by time - was a little nervous about making connecting train to Irvine, but made it - odd to shift back into high speed on the commuter train - everyone counting minutes, noticing stops imperative, but I managed to keep up with all my pieces, to call Peggy and let her know I was arriving.

It was odd to ride the fast train through Orange County, where I grew up. The classic Spanish train station in Fullerton hasn't changed, and orange groves still look and smell like orange groves, but there aren't nearly as many of them. The countryside is so developed - just covered with houses and businesses- lots of uniformity in construction. And the smog is familiar, though it wasn't bad - mild really - just a familiar haze.

Peggy's house is beautiful - one of those houses tended and developed by the creative family that lives there - full of the art of family members - and her garden is lush with color, the pond she and Steve built jumping with bright colored koi they have named, their big dog Kiddo engaging and funny, but polite. It felt good to be among new friends in a very casual, comfortable atmosphere - really sweet.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Here I sit in my little sleeper compartment in a train bound from Austin to San Antonio - first leg of a trip to California for a long awaited writing retreat. I love the tight efficiency and quiet closeness of this compartment - the perfect world - a space designed to hold one person - or an intimate two. I love my traveler role - been a long time since I've traveled alone, especially like this, by train, with a good long interim between departure and arrival and no clock ticking.

I already started having adventures in the station -the train was three hours late - didn't matter to me because I had already separated the time onboard from the rest of my life. I read a bit, distracted by "Dancing With Stars" on the station TV - Latin dancing. A young man with several back packs commented on the fact that the dancers weren't doing real samba - too much upper body, too much with the feet, not enough between the knees and the waist. He was Brazilian and he knew - so we started talking about samba and Brazil and he offered to go get us food if I'd watch his bags. He walked over to nearby Whole Foods market to get us sandwiches (delicious chicken with some kind of sweet sauce and red onions and cabbage that I never would have known I wanted, but now will order again)

As we ate he told me about himself and his country and his dreams, and his impression of our country. He said Brazil is a mess - not a country in which he wants to raise his children - too much corruption and because of the corruption "nothing works" not the roads, the buses, the education system, the health care system, law enforcement - nothing. He worked his way to an electrical engineering degree - public basic school - three years technical training to a technical certificate (he is so thankful his parents could pay for that) and worked his way through university. He is lucky he said - has a skill, not like so many poor people in Brazil. He works for Dell for $20,000 a year, considered middle class there, and pays 60% to the government in taxes, (third highest tax rate in the world, he says) because of the corruption. His dream was to emigrate to the US , and Austin is his favorite city, but the immigration laws are tough here. Australia wants engineers of all kinds and makes it easy for them to become citizens, so the dream is shifting.. His parents, who he dearly loves and for whom one of the back packs is full of American consumer goods, want him to emigrate. They also believe life in Brazil is broken.

He said the rate of crime in Brazil and the regular impact of it on his life is increasing and alarming, He is probably six four, a healthy, imposing, athletic looking young man - BIG_ and he was recently mugged (managing to escape) in broad day light, close to city hall in his home city in southern Brazil. He is astonished that Americans park our cars on the street and they aren't stolen, that we walk our city streets at night, even women, and aren't attacked.

There is also the matter of music, art, plays, books even - much harder to come by in Brazil. He was impressed that I was able to have library books to take with me on my trip - and several of them - not available to him at home. He was awed coming out of his hostel in New York City by the beauty of violin music a young man was playing on the subway steps for donations - waited for tow trains and kept putting dollars in the violin case because he was so moved by the presence of live music.. He saw his first opera in New York City - standing room with a German girl who paid eighteen dollars to take him to La Boheme - he loved it. There aren't many chances to hear/see live classical music in Brazil, and when there are the tickets are very expensive and sell out fast.

It was an amazing two hours talk I had with this young man - who bought his first coat when he got off the plane in New York City to temperatures in the thirties after getting on the plane on a day when the temperature was 104 degrees - but he has a smart phone and talks about WI FI. as easily as he would talk about water. He loves the commercials on American TV -the humor of them and that the drug commercials list the side effects, which they would never bother with in Brazil.He says when you buy a house there it doesn't have the finishing touches American homes have, that he's astonished what money can buy here and how fast people can earn it. He was open, warm, friendly, gave me a new and different slice of place - and an odd fact- After World War II Brazil invited immigration from Japan and so there are many Japanese in Brazil, very good vegetable farmers , he says, and an asset to his country - growing rice and strawberries.

Not even two hours out of Austin yet, and rich in adventure already.
Sunday was art day with our friend Marie. She comes over one Sunday afternoon a month and she and I and the kids do some sort of craft activity. We've painted rocks, made bakeable clay beads and pendants, and today, decorated foam fish. The little fish came in a kit, to be punched out of foam and decorated with foam parts, marker, and glitter, complete with googly eyes. They will make great refrigerator magnets. I loved making my own fish and got a real kick out of the way each of the three kids approached the activity. Zachary is little yet and had so much fun working with Marie, talking as they made color choices, accepting help and suggestions, using as much blue (especially blue glitter glue) as possible. K.K., eldest child and perfectionist that she is, followed instructions precisely and made fish that looked like the examples, perfect - then loosened up with the markers and glitter, creating a varied and beautiful school. But Danny is an artist in a whole different way. At first I wondered if he even "get it" about what to do with the stick on parts. I, like K.K. was guided heavily by the examples - but WOW! With time and freedom Danny created a beautiful school of diverse and brilliant fish. He altered fin shape, overlapped stripes, changed directions of stripes -did all kinds of things the rest of us didn't think of and it really worked. The kid has an eye! And all of us had fun. Its my turn to pick the craft next month. I wonder what I will choose. I'm so glad we brought this tradition of shared art time with Marie into our lives.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The challenge for today was to write a poem based on a song.

To Give Myself To Love
based on the song,"Give Yourself To Love" by Kate Wolf

I say love is what I'm after,
So I give myself to love
At least I believe I try to,
word by word,choice by choice,
year by year, tear by tear
I wish it were easier.
hope to hope, give to give.
love to love, live to live.
Sometimes I'm not so sure.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ruth and Chris let the wind have Mira's ashes at White Sands today. They left white lilies on the dunes,two stems with two fully open blossoms on each stem, and a bud. Perfect. They let the release emerge as it felt right, in the awe and solitude of the ever shifting holy ground that is White Sands. Ruth found the love to write about the whole process - and no, Ruth, it is not silly to find every detail important. The love is in the details. I am sad anew tonight. No young parents should have to find the most right way to release their baby's ashes. And the idea that the ashes of Ruth's childhood, much beloved safety blanket blow across the dunes tonight with the ashes of my hope of a new grandchild is particularly poignant. I remember wrapping Ruth in that blanket and believing I could keep her safe. I think she took it out of our house the night of the fire - didn't burn up then and neither did she - but now, grown woman, she chose to burn it with the baby neither of us could keep safe. I cry when I think of that, and it does seem right. I always say there's no safety only love - and people wince. That seems especially true in these circumstances. And love is enough.(Because we let it be.)

Locally, the boys and Bob and I worked in the yard and the garden today with real success. I've really let the yard go - have felt so helpless about it, but this year I've gotten weeds out of corners that have been weedy for seasons and the garden is thriving. The kids are so excited about that part - lovingly tend their own plants. My next step is to sweep old leaves off the patio and make it a sweet place to sit before it gets too hot to want to sit outside.

The poetry challenge was to write an apology poem.

I'm sorry I judge.
I correct grammar
I wince at profanity
and poor table manners.
I miss so much love
because of weak syntax.
I'm sorry I judge.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm happy that Ruth left a message at work sayin gthe antibiotics are working and she is less sick - definitely a good thing. I am so sad she and Chris have the task of scattering tiny Mira's ashes, but I am proud of them as they honr her in their own way and with grace. They are good parents to this baby who died and they will be good parents should they be graced with babies who live.

Bob will be here any minute. I love it when he is able to come home on Friday nights. K.K. is all hugged and tucked up for sleep in the back room. The week's grocery shopping is done. I feel satisfied with this work week as it comes to an end.

Today's poetry challenge was to write about a physical thing which is often overlooked.


Ready access to ice
is a luxury I
take for granted
Ice preserves food
reduces inflamation
chills drinks, tinkles
in goblet, lifts mood
Two generations back
cooks appreciated ice.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Jewish mother's nightmare - my daughter has gone off to scatter her dead baby's ashes in the New Mexico dessert with a 102 degree temperature from strep throat. And yet I'm not freaking out. I trust her judgement. I trust her husband. I trust antibiotics. And I believe it is right that Mira be reintegrated into the natural world a month after her death at a place holy to her parents. I believe this is the right place and the right tie and that all will be well. (and of course I will feel happier when I know Ruth has recovered)

My book discussion group has been reading and discussing Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck, a set of humorous essays about women and aging. And I realize both how humorless I am and how out of sync about aging. I really don't understand the view that looking older - especially wrinkled or gray haired - is looking bad - like youth or its illusion is supposed to last throughout life. That's only true for those who die young! I wonder how much losing Kerry young broke me of a dislike for the physical look of aging. I do remember wanting to look younger around the time of Ruth's wedding, but now, I'm just happy to be here and that my body works and has energy and I want people to look at me and see that - that I'm here and healthy and happy and every year my age.

Today's poetry challenge was to write a poem about a place.

Remembered Porch

Screened in porch
of my grandparent's
Texas house - floor
painted grey blue,
scrupulously swept,
smelled of peaches
on breeze from our
six healthy trees
card table and folding
chairs set up for
domino players, orange
park bench for evening
singers. Always singers.
And outside fireflies
and shooting stars
flickered like memory.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I liked todays poetry challenge - write about nuances and aspect of a word - use it different ways and examine it. This is one I could do on many words. Today I picked "forgiveness"


Better to ask forgiveness than permission,some say.
I disagree. Easier, not better - intimacy killer.
One must forgive to move on, they say - cliche
True with mistakes but forgiving perpetrators too soon
is bypass, blights recovery, drains self-protective anger .
Some wrongs we need to fight, not gloss over, make light..
Forgiveness puts things back the way they were - not quite
but can allow new growth. Forgiveness can allow separation.
You can forgive but you can't forget - that rings true.
But where do you put the memories? Clasped close
for protection of closeted away from your center
so relationships can continue - especially with self?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Good busy work day - the kind that really shines through for me - didn't drag a minute - felt like I used the best of myself every hour. I'm so fortunate to have work I love that uses what I'm good at and forgives the many areas in which I'm weak or utterly disinterested (like details).Today made me think about something Dorothy Satten used to say. "I want to be all used up when I die, nothing wasted, held back, left over." Today felt so good because I felt like that - like I was using myself fully and that's the best I can do - satisfying.

Sunday and yesterday were good grandma, homework, garden days - better in the living than the describing, or maybe I'm just lazy tonight. I loved helping Danny think through word problems, listening to Zach and Bob read books aloud, watching K.K. sail through difficult "commended club" science problems. I cooked and fed and ate and cuddled and was hugged and read and slept. All good.

Today the poetry challenge was tough and I was a bit lazy about it too. We were supposed to write to one of the two pictures shown in these links. (If you feel inspired by either I'd love to see your poem in comments.)

Neither inspired much in me - just the single image caught below.

Painting #1: Piazza d'Italia, by Giorgio de Chirico

Painting #2: The Little Deer, by Frida Kahlo

Piazza d'Italia

Golden angles slice green sky.
No angels. Not my image of Italy.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Today's poetry challenge was to write a ramble poem - just let it flow - edit next month. That was easy and fun - so no pressure. I love writing to promps because it frees me up not to have ot figure out what is most important to write (just realized that) It simplifies.

Thirty Years in This House

Thirty years in this house,
even though it butned once
and we've refloored twice
and remodeled the kitchen,
same hedge out front, overgrown
garden smaller, fence we fell down,
in process of reconstruction,
garden still growing peppers,
squash, cucumbers, tomatoes,
Bought this house with one
husband to be a home for
the babies we hoped for,
had the babies, raised them.
but he died in the middle,
too young, grieved him here.
Fell in love again, opened
this door for first date
with new hope, true love,
eighteen years later help
grandchildren plant squash
cucumber, tomatoes in the
same garden. Still home.
Thirty years in this house

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Poetry challenge today was to write from our day - just what happened, the important core part. I'm in a love poem mood to night. Bob, sweet, I really do miss you!

Spring Sunday

We slept late, my hand gently
laid across your sore ankle,
your hand tangled in my hair.
You bought pepper plants and
marigold seeds. We pulled weeds.
Read stories aloud to grandhildrem,
corrected rough draft, packed ice chest.
You kissed me before you drove back
to your weekday life. I already miss you.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

This poetry challenge is uncanny - assignments just grabbing me by the throat. TOnight's is to write a worry poem. That's way too easy.

Rurh won't get pregnant again.
Ruth will get pregnant again
and the baby will die unborn,
or born too soon, or the baby
will be perfect, and we will
all believe we are safe and
the baby will die of SIDS in
the cradle in the sunlight
or start kindergarten and get
run over in the crosswalk
or get leukemia or get addicted
to crack or kill herself over
some silly boy. I can't do this.
Ruth will get pregnant again,
or she won't, and the sun and moon
will rise and set and I will breathe
in and out, in and out - whatever.
Yesterday,s poetry challenge was to write a tribute.


wanted baby
hope begun in winter
died before spring
wanted baby

Thursday, April 03, 2008

As I keep noting, I am reading Tom Brokaw's Boom about events and impact of the sixties movements as experienced by those of us of the generation who came of age at that time - and a few older and younger. It's just a super, super book - really makes patterns fall together for me about the connection of Viet Nam and Iraq, the hedonism of some of the student protests and the moral rigidity of the neocons, the end of Jim Crow but increasing classism. I could quote something from almost every page. This book is the first in a long time that makes me wish I had a photographic memory. I don't want to let any of it go, but I won't be able to remember it all. It's just too thick and too rich with content and nuance.

Right now I'm just going to throw together a very meager quote salad, and tie some of the quotes to some of my memories and feelings.

"Vernon Jordan, former head of the Urban League and one of America's best-known establishment figures, black or white, tells the story of returning to Mississippi in the Nineties and seeing a black highway patrolman writing out a speeding ticket to give to a white woman. He says, "I almost cried, and I thought, If only Medgar could see this.'" Tom Brokaw

I remember the murder of Medger Evers in 1963, for civil rights activism so strongly. It was my first experience (through the media coverage) of the violence and murder that could occur when black people worked for basic Bill of Rights freedoms. I was twelve and I'd been sheltered. I'd peaked through the window in the door between the white and colored waiting rooms in the Greyhound bus station in Houston and been shocked by the difference in the quality of the facilities and totally confused about why there even were two waiting rooms. But that's as far as my awareness of racism had developed. Then I saw Medger Ever's picture on the cover of Life Magazine after his death. I read the account of his murder on his driveway as he went home to have dinner with his small children. I saw the pictures of his children. I cried a long evening in my pink princess bedroom in the snooty all white California hills and puzzled over the very different world portrayed in the article. And that was when the struggle against racism and oppression began to be real to me - though absolutely at a distance, through a glass.

"We had a classmate (at Fort Benning) Joe Diduardo, who received notice that one of his best buddies had been killed in Vietnam a few days before King's assassination. So Joe flew to San Francisco to meet the body and escort it hoe to Baltimore. Joe takes his friend's body to a funeral home in a black section of Baltimore, and when King is killed Baltimore goes up in a riot.
"Joe is the only white guy around, so the funeral home folks hide him for three or four days----and then finally smuggle him to the airport in a hearse so he can get back to Benning. When he arrives, Joe, a Vietnam vet, says, "You'll never believe where I've been." General Wayne Downing

The day after Martin Luther King Junior was shot, I went to class numb. I was a high school senior and my first class was American government. A test had been scheduled for that day. Our advanced placement section, usually cloistered away for exciting discussions, met with the whole senior class that day, for the test. I sat, waiting for some acknowledgement of the nation's loss - for something appropriate to be said or done. The teacher continued handing out test papers. It seemed completely wrong to go on as if nothing had happened, nothing had changed. I looked atmy friend Jimmy, class president, Eagle Scout, and he looked straight back at me. It was one of those moments of perfect harmony. We rose as one and walked out of the classroom to the courtyard where the flag pole stood. Together we brought the flag down to half mast. We stood in silence and a crowd began to grow around us, all silent, respectful, students, teachers, administrators, all. After a while someone started singing "We Shall Overcome." and the group joined her in the song. I cried then. I don't know how long we stood there, but I'm glad we stood. It didn't really change anything, didn't bring the man back to life, didn't prevent future acts of violence - but it let me know I can do the right thing even when others don't think to. that was my first, completely spontaneous, act of civil disobedience.

"Referring to Ruth Benedict's classic book Patterns of Culture, in which she says there are basically two sides to human culture - Dionysian and Apollonian - Pope sees the Sixties as Dionysian. "It was about freedom, and it was about liberation-sex drugs and rock and roll, having a good time. It was kind of reckless."
"But the environmental movement, he says, 'is quite Apollonian. It's about control. It's about restraint. It's fundamentally a conservative movement in the traditional, old-fashioned sense. You're conserving things. You're not trying to turn people loose. So in that sense the environmental movement is not like the sixties.'" Tom Brokaw

Thank you Tom Brokaw and Ruth Benedict. This is the thought thread I've been trying to crystallize for decades. I was so uncomfortable with the littering, the partying, the "Let's do what we want because we can." attitudes that accompanied protests for causes I fully embraced during the sixties. The conflict between supporting the causes and disapproving and being frightened by the self serving behaviors tore me apart. Now I have the words. I am clearly more comfortable (most of the time at least) with the Apollonian than with the Dionysian." I want change but I want change that involves impulse control, introspection, restraint, conversion of the energy of ethical outrage into results that really help people change their lives.

"I think a lot of the New Right (her phrase) energy comes from the freedoms and activism of the Sixties. Some people did take that all to excess, as people do...but because the baby boomer numbers were so large, if you had 10% of the people who went to excess, that's a lot of people. Everyone could see the lessons of drugs, sex, and rock and roll taking you to a place that wasn't healthy. It was self-destructive, or whatever.
But the larger message of the Sixties was really liberating. African-Americans, by God, you could stand up and demand your rights like Dr. king inspired you to do. Women, you don't have to stay two steps behind. Choose your own life, make your own decisions. I thnk that was great for America. Hillary Rodham Clinton

I don't have much to say about Hillary Clinton's remarks except that they ring true.

"An ever larger number of young voters consider the Internet their political sustem, and with every election cycle, the universe of voters who consider themselves independent and unattached to either party continues to expand. They're interested in answers for their lives not in the feuds of forty years ago.

For them, the Sixties? Wasn't that when Momand Dad wore those weird outfits, when the Beatles were still a group and you had to use pay phones?"Tom Brokaw

This both makes me feel old and makes it seem important to write these reflections and connections, to emphasize the human needs that continue rather than the differences, to work against the incursion of that Sixties term "generation gap". Odd to be on the far rather than the near side of same.
"The awful ruin of the Sixties was that such overwhelming hopes were raised and then so cruelly dashed." Jacquelyn Kennedy Onassis

And this is what I fear now, with the new wave of youthful involvement in politics. We have to deliver this time - not disappoint, or the crash will be horrific.
The third day of the poetry challenge has proven truly challenging - as well as educational. We are supposed to write a haiku. Now I thought that would be easy. I've known the rules (5-7-5) about haikus since seventh grade. Right? Wrong.

The first poem I wrote, just flowed instantly out of my fingers this morning, I really love. It is meaningful to me - says something I really feel right now.

Daughters grow like trees.
Hard winters challenge deep roots.
I pray they will thrive.

But it isn't a hiaku.

I was just reading about hiaku on the April poetry site and learned it isn't supposed to have similies or metaphors - so daughters like trees doesn't fit the form.

Here's what Robert Brewster wrote:

If you're not big on researching the haiku, here's a quick primer on what constitutes a haiku:
1. It's a 3-line poem.

2. While many think the lines should be 5-7-5 syllables, that's actually not true. It's 5-7-5 "sounds" if you're writing in Japanese. For English purposes, it tends to be a shorter 1st and 3rd line--with a slightly longer 2nd line.

3. The haiku describes nature--with an emphasis on description. Haiku do not rhyme or use metaphors and/or similes.

4. Haiku includes a word to indicate season. For instance, the word "frog" might indicate spring; the word "snow" might indicate winter.

5. There's also usually a juxtaposition of two sensory images. For instance, the most famous haiku involves a frog jumping into a pond as the first sensory image--the water's sound as the second. When put together, the sensory images turn a very simple moment into a profound poem.

There are more rules--if you want to do the research--but this gives a good enough outline of what makes a haiku. For writing your own, it's best to just observe the world around you, make notes, and see if you can spot connections that help you understand nature and the world around you better.

Knowing these rules increases difficulty. I find to hard to stay just in the senses, a good challenge. I still like my daughters poem, but its not a haiku. Here's the hiaku (I hope ) that I'm about to post on the April poems site.

Radish sprouts crowd row.
Careful hand prunes vibrant throng.
Strong plants await rain.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

second day poetry challenge - pick someone else's point of view and write from there.


They want me to read
letters, numbers, books,
But what does that matter?
I can read faces, graces,
shadows, silence, sighs.
Ruth posted the last adorable waving live sonogram picture of baby Mira Abigail. I've been crying off and on - I so much wish I could rock you and watch you grow up sweet girl.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

"My favorite reflex: If Baby's cheek is touched (s)he opens her mouth--just like a real little infant!"
This is the last thing Ruth wrote about her baby in her happy pregnant blog before it suddenly became a terrified "the baby is dying" and then a sad "the baby is dead" blog.
I think I've finally reached my own grief bottom about this baby. I'm just so sad.
I want to gather Ruth and Chris up in my arms tonight and rock them. They - and I too, I think, were waiting for the autopsy report on the baby - wanting a reason, a cause, at least a definite sex. We didn't get any of that. No obvious cause for the death in the baby or in Ruth - and only "probably" a girl. I believe she was a little girl - but that's just hunch. I wanted them to get to know something, to have some fact to hang onto. I want it not to be so hard to hurt so much. This feels like a new level of sadness. I hope its a bottom somehow - something to push up against, not just a well of darkness. I wish I could help in some way other than simply abiding. I think abiding has to be enough. I sure wish I could fix this. Mama's are supposed to be able to fix their childrens' hurts.

I've been finding comfort in a web community oriented toward infertility and loss of pregnacies and deaths of babies - also adoptions, lesbian parents - all kinds of family issues. Its called Lost and Found, Connections Abound

Another web site that has intrigued me is the antirascistparent, And I am more and more intrigrd by Tom Brokaw's Boom. I think the political distracts me from the personal, and that is probably good.
There seem to be national months and days for just about everything - an odd change in my lifetime. But April is "National Poetry Month" and, with the encouragement of my wonderful writers' group, I just started participating in a challenge to write a poem a day (to prompts) for April. For any poets who may have stumbled upon my blog, here's the link. If any of you write a poem for today's prompt, or any day's prompt, I'd love it if you shared it in my comments. These are supposed to be rough - to be revised in May if we want, rough draft poems just to get the juices flowing. The first prompt was to write about any kind of first, and so I wrote.

First Poem

At Broad Oaks Nursery School
In Whittier California the teachers
kept chickens, ducks and rabbits.
The cook let us frost our very own
birthday cakes in her big kitchen
And Daddy came one Friday to
teach us the names of the planets.
At Broad Oaks Nursery School
the swings were shaded by the oaks
and I remember the moment,
my legs pumping full out,
that my mind took flight and
grabbed hold of its very first poem.
"I can fly through the sky if I try."
Fifty four years later, I'm still trying.

Victoria Hendricks, April 1, 2008