Friday, June 2, 2017
With all that comes with it.
Black lung, mine rebellions, violent endings
both to the rebellions and to human lives.
Family photos of young men in caskets,
when there was no war abroad.
Poverty, feuds, wizened grandmothers,
My grandfather was a union organizer.
A migrant worker
after he left the mines.
He went where the money was.
Cincinnati, New York, Radford, Oak Ridge.
An air raid warden,
leaving my grandmother frightened in the darkness
with two small boys,
while he roamed the town,
attending to the compliance of other homes.
An old man, stooped over, chewing tobacco,
he wanted more for his sons.
A quick mind, sparkling eyes, he wanted more for our world.
My grandfather was a backyard inventor--
a water engine, clean technology.
Safety and efficiency.
He would have been fascinated by your smart phone.
He would have marveled at your hybrid vehicle.
Solar roofing tiles would have delighted him.
He would have reveled in an Ohio River safe work and play.
He would have been shocked by your loyalty to the coal that slowly kills.
My grandfather used to say,
"We can never destroy the earth,
We will only destroy ourselves first."
My grandfather was a coal miner.
But my father was an engineer.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Fresh and fragrant, daffodils blooming in the bright sunshine -
They open their little buds in vibrant yellows, white, and orange-
Bursting forth in a riot of blooms, *clip, clip, clip* a bouquet.
Friday, February 3, 2017
When I was young, teachers were teachers. They lived at the school, as far as we were concerned, and surely had no other interests than the subject they taught. Sometimes they would tell us that they had families, but part of us never really believed that. They were unseen and therefore not part of our reality.
The only difference was Mrs. Thurman, whose daughter had been in my class since first grade. I had been in their home. We played Trivial Pursuit. She made spaghetti with actual meatballs (something I thought only existed in the movie Lady and the Tramp and was surely too good to be true). She was also my ninth grade geometry teacher. And frankly, that was a little weird. But it was only weird for an hour or so a day, at the beginning of the year. Then I compartmentalized Mrs. Thurman again, with teacher this time instead of friend's mom. It was okay.
I had teachers I adored, but they were still teachers. They had no first names. Their mothers surely named them Mister and Missus at birth. I had teachers I did not quite adore, too, but they also were teachers. They were on the dark side.
Pastors were the same. Our pastor from the time I was twelve (until the time in my teens that I left for Anglicanism) took an interest in kids. He took us on retreats and outings. He was interested in leather working and golf. We got to know him. Still, he was our pastor. When our assisting pastor went to work for the region, he moved compartments in my mind. It was dissonant. He was the regional youth pastor, but we had some claim on him, surely, because he had been our pastor. My brother thought he looked like Jesus.
That worked through college. Professors, no matter how closely you worked alongside them, were still professors. And their mothers named them Mister, Doctor, Missus, Mizz. Surely. Very fore-thoughtful mothers, no doubt.
Then seminary happened and our professors were called by their first names. Allen, Rod, Ann. Still, they were professors. They lived in that category of teacher.
Except I went to church with Ann. And somewhere along way I had need to call her at home for something, which seemed at the time like a terrible no-no. You don't call your professor at home. That's why they have offices.
Our priest was supposed to be the same way. Priest, professional Christian who lived at Church the way teachers lived at school. Okay, by then I knew better. I had friends who were priests. But I had yet to have my own parish priest as my friend. Teachers and priests had not yet broken down the walls of their compartments.
And now, old person that I am. They have. Tonight I sat with Ann at dinner, not because she's my former Greek professor, but because she's my friend. We share hobbies together I'd never have expected (she knits, I spin... so we make stuffed sheep together to celebrate special people in our lives) and can call one another just to say hello. Heavens, she texts me. (And I her, of course.) I'd have never dreamed. And we were at dinner to celebrate that same parish priest, whose birthday is today, who broke that wall between priest and friend. Many have since, of course.
I still keep walls, because I am a pretty private person (who blogs, people are full of contradictions) at heart. But childhood me would have never thought of pastors and teachers on the inside part of that boundary line.
I still can't call my childhood teachers by their first names. But I have come to realize that one of the joys of growing up, and yes, growing older, is to come to know people as the multifaceted wonders that they are.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Oh, hello, blog. Its been a while. My fault.
A memory.... I remember, I must have been about ten or twelve, a hike in the woods with my dad. In the snow. Dad would take us on a hike around the property, 42 undeveloped acres, like a king on progress through his realm. This time it was just him and me. I don't ever remember any other snow-hike, just the one. In the home stretch, dad looked down and saw a leaf, bright red and oval with a perfect point at the tip, sitting neatly on the fresh snow. "Look. You don't see that very often." He picked it up and handed it to me. I held on to it, for the rest of the walk, or so I thought. But when we arrived home, somehow, from my mittened hand, the leaf had slipped away. I never see red oval leaves on the ground without thinking of that. People, like leaves, slip away, too often unnoticed, no matter how firmly we think we hold on.
Un mémoire. Je me souviens- peut-être j’avais dix ou douze ans, une excursion dans le bois avec mon père. C’était dans la neige. Souvent, Papa nous emmenait pour marcher à pied autour de la propriété, quarante-deux acres vierges, comme un roi qui fait le défilé à travers son royaume. Cette fois, c’était seulement mon père et moi. Maintenant, comme une adulte, cette excursion est la seule dans la neige dont je me souviens. De quoi ?
Enfin, quand nous sommes retournés près de notre maison, Papa a regardé la neige sous ses pieds et là, il trouva une feuille rouge pourpre et pénétrante, ovale avec une pointe parfaite au bout. Doucement et soigneusement, la feuille restait sur la neige. << Regarde. Tu ne vois pas vraiment cela souvent. >> il m'a dit.
Ensuite, il prit la feuille et me la donna. Ensuite, je l’ai gardée pendant le reste de l’excursion, ou bien, je le pensais. Alors, quand nous sommes arrivés chez nous, je ne sais pas comment, de ma main mouflée, la feuille avait disparu.
Ces jours-ci, je ne regarde jamais les feuilles rouges et ovales sur la terre sans penser à cela. Et, alors, je comprends que les gens, comme les feuilles, peuvent disparaître, inaperçus, même que nous pensons que nous essayons de saisir.
Monday, April 18, 2016
Friday, November 27, 2015
The way I see it, pumpkin pie is the world's first "superfood."
Think about it. Now keep in mind, I was raised in the days of food groups. These food groups were primitive, not capable of organizing themselves to build food pyramids. They were just groups. All groups were equal. No discrimination here. Except for the fruit and vegetable group which was considered more equal than the other groups, especially the vegetable subgroup, for the sole purpose of driving children crazy.
I really didn't understand how brussels sprouts and strawberries were the same "group" but if they were, why did my mother not consider them interchangeable in my diet? I would happily have substituted.
But that's neither here nor there.
So considering. A serving of the meat-eggs-nuts-protein group.... and a serving of the vegetable group, mashed up together with cinnamon which we know has health benefits. Top it with a visit from the calcium rich dairy group. Serve it up on an ambassador from the wheats and grains group, unless you're gluten free... then we have a gluten free option for you.... lower carb, too for you moderns... skip the crust. I do. And voila pumpkin pie. Allergic to dairy, skip the whipped cream (poor fool). No teeth? No problem. Soy free, nut free, and artificial ingredient free. We've got this.
So today I had pie for breakfast. A little post-thanksgiving tradition. Tomorrow its back to normal, cold cereal and warm coffee. But today, it was pie.
I feel healthier already.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
My eldest son is an adult. I'm not sure when it happened. It wasn't turning eighteen. He was just the same at seventeen and 364 days as he was at 18, only he was eligible to vote and his signature was binding. There is nothing developmentally magic about a birthday; it is just a transition from one day to the next, like any other. It didn't happen at high school graduation either. I was still fussing at him about the condition of his room, the lateness of his going to bed, and the manner in which he treated his brothers on the first day (week, month) after graduation. Graduation, since he was homeschooled, was in itself a random thing, a "hey, you're out of assignments so congratulations and here is your grandfather's math book as a gift" thing. We took him out to dinner. That's about it.
I can guess that some of the adult came along when college classes started. Suddenly he had homework and there was no one to tell him to do it. No one told him to go to church on Sunday either, but he did. More adulting. (Adulting... a word so non-existent that its giving spell checker fits right now.) I suspect that more of his adultiness came along when he caught that first college cold the second week of class and there was nobody to tuck him in and bring him apple cider. Doing his own post-cold laundry to get the germs out, hoping his roommate didn't catch his cold, this also was probably a transition point.
But I can only guess. Because I wasn't there.
And maybe that's the point. It is when our parents aren't there that we become adults.
I'm looking forward to a long friendship with my adult son (and his two not-yet-adult brothers eventually, too). Sending him into the world where I am not there was about the hardest thing I've ever done. Everything we do as parents leads up to this, and its a fine thing. But in the end, when the caterpillar comes out of his homeschooled cocoon, mamma butterfly doesn't get to see the magic moment.
And that's fitting, because it isn't our moment.
When I dropped him off at college, I realized that this is about him. I was excited for him, how could I be sad for me? This was his call, his life, and he was grasping it for the first time. How could I mourn? And I said to him that I realized that this was right, that if I had raised him to be mine, for my sake, I was treating him as a pet, not a person. It was an off the cuff moment but it was the moment when I realized the truth in everything we always say, everything that the years have known.
Our children are not ours. They never were. They're only entrusted to us until they no longer need that cocoon and are able to fly.
But I do look forward to every time the boy will fly back home, to stretch our wings from time to time together, I hope, as long as mine have strength.