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This is Avocado – Avo, for short – facing the cold, blustery world of Bellingham, Washington. When he’s not looking out the window, he’s snuggling, cuddling to the point of being so contentedly limp as to slide off a lap, and perfectly happy being resettled, purring as loudly as I’ve ever heard a cat purr. He, along with his brother, (Indiana) Jones, are new to the world of my daughter and her wonderful housemates. Found far away from civilization, in a field on a nearby reservation, they are clearly bonded, and love to be loved. And I love them, and my daughter, and her housemates. I flew out to surprise her for her 20th birthday, which was yesterday, and she was indeed totally surprised. It was just how surprises are supposed to work. I have spent today, when she still had class and other social obligations, watching the wind and rain in the tall cypress in their front yard, snuggling cats, reading, writing, and meeting her marvelous friends. I’m not used to being in a house with more than one other person (or animal, for that matter), so it’s been an amazing sensation, to feel surrounded by lots of people who laugh, love, and respect each other, who have strong feelings and opinions about our world and the future, and who delight in each other’s company. Adventures to follow…
Quote of the day: “Time spent with a cat is never wasted.” — Colette
My daughter’s love and openness to letting me into her life
I live in a small town that has its origins in mining. That said, gentrification is taking over and the boundaries of neighboring towns are rapidly blurring with more houses, more people, and more development. This week though, our little town felt little again. We have a strong, vibrant, long-standing Hispanic community here, and earlier this week, one of the little mercados had racist graffiti spray painted on it, and the ice cream/sandwich/wine shop down the street had a rock thrown their window.
And we all hated it.
Tonight, many in our community patronized the Eats and Sweets shop, offering to help, and showing support, and then a whole crowd walked a few doors down to the Las Montanas Market to share the love and again, offer to help in any way possible, and reinforce the importance of this family, the business they run, and the community which they enrich.
We are a community in the truest sense of the word. And our art, which is everywhere in town, reflects our spirit of love and unity.
Community Holistic Health Center, Lafayette, Colorado.
Quote of the day: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
Smiles that reach eyes
My handsome husband
A beautiful day
A win at work
Even though Winter (ick) is technically a month-ish away, we are expecting it to make an appearance next week. I don’t count the minor snowfall two weeks ago, because I refused to leave the house until it was gone, therefore to me, it didn’t happen. We have been blessed with a long Autumn this year, and MKL and I were saying today that we hope Winter will be merciful and Spring kind to us. (This past Spring was a cruel taskmistress, as my blizzard-struck fallen miracle of an evil tree demonstrated.) We still have a few late-falling leaves on trees, a few streaks of color in dips between mountains, and the morning cold of our wrought iron benches is not vicious enough to weasel its way through one’s clothes to one’s skin. Yet. But soon, we will be asking each other, “Why do we live here?” I am a landlocked mermaid, who never meant to stay here in the mountains, but sometimes not making choices throughout one’s life is a choice in itself. And it led me to MKL, for which I am grateful. As I am grateful we can keep each other warm throughout the cold snaps.
Quote of the day: “We fit together like puzzle pieces when we snuggled together.” — Andrea Smith
A new dress
Floofy dogs in sunny windows
I seldom get political here. But now, I must. Since I cannot guarantee that I will not do so again, I am calling this Part One. If you have no interest in reading a political-related post based mostly on feelings, I’d suggest you go wash your cat or trim your hedges now.
I cannot stomach the hatred and blindness that I am seeing from appointed representatives within the Republican Party. I have been watching the convention. And listening to nothing but hate. I hear nothing constructive, nothing concrete, nothing positive. Just hateful rhetoric. I don’t think Hillary Clinton is the be all and end all of candidates. But the way that spokespeople in the Republican Party have denigrated her, placed all blame on her for actions that are indeed beyond her sole control, have insulted everything about her as a human being, is unacceptable. People do not speak about each other that way. Not people who I want in charge of the future of this country. They tell lies. They make assumptions. Some of the things they say seem insane. Ben Carson just said, in essence, that she holds Lucifer as a role model, based on a dedication in her graduate thesis.
Mr. Trump spent half of his campaign claiming that the system was rigged. I do not hear him making that claim now that he is the nominee. How does he reconcile that? It’s not fair unless I win? Isn’t that what kindergarteners do? Anyone who has spent any time in New York City knows his influence there, knows who his cronies were (and no doubt are), knows about the lawsuits, the bankruptcies. Anyone who has watched any television knows he has based his visibility on trashy, vile reality television – and I feel justified in saying that because I watched it. How can this man be the leader of America when he is being shunned by former Presidents from his own party – and I’m not a Bush supporter either? How can someone who has admitted, in so many words, that he tailors his ethics to suit the business situation, spill such bile about Mrs. Clinton? He stated on an interview earlier this week that Hillary Clinton created ISIS. Seriously.
I am a believer in you don’t have to respect the man, but for our country to be unified, we must respect the office. The Office of the President of the United States. The statements I’ve heard about Mr. Obama since the race has heated up has shown anything but respect for the office. Even the way that the media refers to him reflects this: I was 16 months old when President Kennedy was assassinated, so I’ve been aware of media coverage of nine presidents, and never in my memory have I not heard a reporter refer to a sitting president as “Mr. Something” or “President Something”. With President Obama, I seldom hear the media refer to him as anything but “Obama”. Perhaps this seems like a trivial distinction, but I feel it reinforces the undertone of disrespect for a man who did indeed have true ideals and hopes of unifying the parties, and unfortunately realized that neither side was particularly interested in doing so. Many of his hopes and dreams died when he saw that sad light.
I am sick of it. I will not be one of those people talking about moving to Canada, mostly because it’s too cold there. I will stay here and vote my conscience and see what happens. But I am stating that I am sick of the divisiveness. I am sick of the myth of the liberal media. I am sick of all of it. I cannot discuss it with MKL, because we don’t see eye to eye, and we know we will not change one another’s minds. I know this hatred is effecting me. It is worsening my depression. I should stop watching. But I feel that that is just turning away because I can’t change it. I want to understand what’s going on. I want to know the truth. WHERE IS THE TRUTH? I don’t know where to look for it anymore.
So I will keep watching. I will keep reading. I will listen to the Democratic Convention to see if the rhetoric there is equally as hateful. I hope that in the debates – assuming Mr. Trump chooses to participate – it becomes evident that Mr. Trump has nothing but attack in him, that his political inexperience is highlighted – because to be a political leader, having political experience IS important – and that he does not form sentences that actually have any meaning. If I were a serious drinker, I’d have myself a game of a shot every time he says something along the lines of “they love me”, “believe me”, “I know more than anybody”, or the words “incredible”, “amazing”, or “huge”. Perhaps I’ll make it a water shot game.
But it saddens and ages me to see our tenuous racial, social, and gender unity shattered by people who are watching a bully take charge, and feeling that bullying is now okay because of it. It’s one thing to be politically correct. It’s another thing to speak your mind. And it’s yet another thing to truly believe in equality and justice. Right now, it seems we are just watching a train wreck, rubbernecking at the devastating accident occurring before our eyes, unable to look away.
We cannot look away. If we do, we let hate win, and it is the end of all of us. I am a little too young to be an old hippie, but I still believe in the messages of that movement.
Peace and love are the only answers. Fear and hatred will lead us only to the end of days all the more rapidly than we would have arrived in the first place.
Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Quote of the day: “”Unless the Virgin Mary appears to me on a piece of toast and asks me to vote for the guy, I’m not going to do it.” — CNN reporter Ana Navarro referring to Mr. Trump (This last part of this quote may not be verbatim – I tried to get it down while I watching it.)
Head butts, snuggles, and spooning from Mr. Man
#republicanconvention #acountryintrouble #notimeforhate
What Makes A Poem?
The question is the title.
Is it the sentiment?
The lay of lines?
The rhyme? Now unrequired?
I can say
This is the longest I have ever gone
Without seeing my daughter
Since the day she was born.
That knowledge hit my heart
Like the sharp quill of a feather
And became a poem.
Those same words
– All these words –
In a sentence or two.
Would have read them
But somehow, it would not
have been the same.
Ventanas al Mar, Cozumel, Mexico.
Quote of the Day: “If you want to understand any woman you must first ask about her mother and then listen carefully. Stories about food show a strong connection. Wistful silences demonstrate unfinished business. The more a daughter knows about the details of her mother’s life – without flinching or whining – the stronger the daughter.” — Anita Diamant
The mountains today
Egg Salad Diabolo with MKL
When Mr. Man is happy to see me
As a woman of my word, I promised to show you the secret in the door. And so I shall. It was a hard-to-spot blessing, but that’s often how blessings flow. Love to you all.
San Miguel, Cozumel, Mexico.
Quote of the day: “The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.” — Audrey Hepburn
Kisses at the 105th meridian
The woman leaning over the fence to get dog kisses
Little girls in pink cowboy boots
Roger and Gertrude Carolotta
My free painted rock from The Street Boutique fashion truck
My heart is made of sand and sea and sun and shells, touched by the occasional storm and moved by passing trade winds.
Next to the dining space – for it could not be called a room – of what I think of as “our place” in Mexico stood a tree, its branches decorated with hearts. Glass hearts of pink and red and turquoise, carved folk art hearts, silver hearts in which we could see the reflections of ourselves, beautifully distorted, and hearts of shells, like this one. Delicately constructed, yet each piece unique, each element far stronger than one could imagine, having been tossed and tumbled by waves for years while remaining unbroken. Not unlike my heart.
Quote of the day: “Everybody needs a seashell in her bathroom to remind her the ocean is her home.” — Sue Monk Kidd
Attending my first caucus
New friends who are awkward kindred spirits
Lunch today with MKL
Having my toes tucked under Mr. Man
The amazing sky and light tonight
In my continued quest to raise MKL’s spirits, I’m taking us to the long, wide, windswept beaches of the Riviera Maya again. January in Tulum was quite breezy; I suppose February in Cozumel will likely be the same, but that’s just fine. I’m excited to go – we’re a month away as of tomorrow. And today is our five month wedding anniversary, and we’re heading to the Stock Show tomorrow to see llamas, alpacas, rodeo, and whatever other surprises we encounter. He has promised to do his best to take the place of Kelsea – this is the first year she will miss the Stock Show, having gone every year since she was a month and a half old. He’s a very good husband. 🙂
Quote of the day: “When we travel, we aim for the sublime. It’s the ridiculous stuff, however, that we tend to treasure the most.” — Erik Torkells
The surprise return of a favorite blogger after a year-long hiatus
Working from home on a snow day
A cuddly Maine Coon
A clean(ish) kitchen
December 11, 2006:
You had slept. I had only dozed, for the ninth night in a row. I had gotten up a dozen times from the bed next to yours to check on you, to be sure you were still breathing, like a new nervous new mother does with an infant. You would moan every so often. When you awoke in the morning, you looked over at me. “Am I still here?” you asked. “Yep,” I replied, “unless I’m dead too.” “Damn,” you said.
We talked then, about the pain, about how you wanted to go and were unsure why you were still here. You asked me then, if I would help you go if you did not go by yourself today. Which told me how much you were hurting. We talked about how I would do it, with the morphine. I would have done anything for you. But I could not commit to killing you. I said, “Let’s see how it goes today.” I couldn’t say yes – but I couldn’t say no.
The quality of the day changed after that talk. It felt like when you’re getting ready for a journey – which you were. We were down to just the orange sherbet now. I would slip a little between your dry lips (no amount of lip balm seemed to keep them moist for long) and you would smile this blissful little smile. We talked about the little blonde daughter that you had never had, that one time when you had an early miscarriage, and how she had always haunted you, and not in a nice way. How you had longed for her (I tried not to be jealous, not to feel like somehow I hadn’t been daughter enough for you.) How you could see her hovering around now, still being mean and angry. We had banished her together, you and I, me finding the words to help you forgive yourself for not having her (as if you had had any control over that) and us finding the words for you to use in talking to that spirit, to tell her that her behavior was unacceptable, just as a mother would talk to a obdurant child. That seemed to ease you greatly.
You needed the morphine – just small amounts – more often. More people came and went. We talked about your excitement about whatever came next. And we talked about your biggest fear – fear that my Father would be mad at you when you saw him on the other side, that he wouldn’t have forgiven you for something that you blamed yourself for, something that I know he never blamed you for, no matter what words I used to try to convince you otherwise.
More people came and went. I remember the quality of the light of the day, just as I remembered the quality of light on the day the Kelsea was born. It was a slow, gentle light, lingering and warm, but clear in its waning, fading in beauty, dipping and deepening into dusk, then darkness.
We talked and talked. You were getting…frisky? Cocky? Rambunctious? You were talking about getting up to the Pearly Gates and kicking St. Peter’s ass. I never did know where that came from, but more power to you.
You wanted to see one person in particular, but he had had surgery that morning and couldn’t come. You had something she wanted to tell him, but you finally decided that he already knew. And you let it go.
[As I was writing this, I noticed my reference’s to my Mother changed from “you” to “she” about this time, a sign of letting go, perhaps.]
The hospice chaplain came. I spoke to her out in the hallway, and couldn’t help but cry. I didn’t cry much the last few days. Mother didn’t want me to cry and so I didn’t. But Jodi, the chaplain was so genuine, it was impossible not to let some tears flow. I told her that she needed to talk, that there was something she needed to find peace around, before she could let go. After Jodi left, she was calmer – she had found a certain peace. I never knew what was spoken between them. It didn’t matter. It only mattered that she had released that last burden.
Things felt like they happened quickly after that, and then slowly. Jackie, her home care nurse, came to visit. It made her so happy. “It’s my angel,” she said. She always thought that way about Jackie. Jackie too took me into the other room and told me that it was her time. “Have you noticed that smell? It’s the smell of death,” she said. “I know that smell.” Jackie was a big, beautiful, joyful, compassionate woman. She told me that she’d tell the night nurse what to do, about preparing the body, that I shouldn’t worry. She hugged me.
As the afternoon faded, she started to fade. She became less lucid. She wasn’t talking so much. She was hurting more. I was slipping the small dropper of morphine between her lips more often. I was the only one who could give it to her. I felt like her pain was in my hands. It was getting late. We sat with her, my uncle and brother on one side, me on the other. She had stopped talking long ago, her eyes were closed now, her breathing slowing and labored. She would groan and twist sometimes, and I would give her another taste of the morphine. I did not know if she was hurting, but I could not stand to think she might be, and couldn’t tell me, and I was doing nothing to ease her pain.
The waitress at their favorite restaurant called, and told me to light a white candle in front of her, and encourage her to go toward the light. We did. We sat and talked quietly. We sat in silence. We sat through the night. E-Bro went to rest of a while. It was calm. I could feel her struggling to leave her body, as if her very spirit was working hard to let go, to get out, to be free. Finally, somehow, we could tell her something had changed. Maybe it was her breathing. Something. My uncle went to get my brother from the couch. We sat again, the three of us, encouraging her to go. I stroked her hair, whispered to her, kept my hand on her heart. It slowed. Her breaths came farther and farther apart, more and more shallow.
Until they stopped all together.
[These three days are always hard for me, especially coming at this time of year that I love. And so, over these next three days, I will be reposting what I lived during these days nine years ago. I did this three years ago as well, and find sharing my experiences and memories comforting and cathartic. I find it interesting to reflect on how my feelings about death have evolved as I have aged. But that’s for another post.]
With thanks and apologies to Eugene O’Neill for the post title.
[The next three day’s postings are my memories of the day before, the day of, and the day after my Mother’s death four years ago. This is a difficult anniversary for me, though it seems to ease each year.]
December 10, 2006: I don’t remember what we did today. Probably not too much but talk – and laugh. Uncle George and E-Bro were with us now, but strangely I don’t remember them being there. I only remember us. Over the past week, we had spent nearly every moment together, waking and sleeping. I probably took a walk once and went out to the store a couple of times. I took showers alone and went to the bathroom alone. But you didn’t. It was as if we were merging, merging for the last time. Looking back now, I see that that wasn’t a good thing, but it wasn’t something I could control. We had been so very close for so very long that our separateness was, for most years, only a matter of a few degrees. In the last days, those few degrees simply vanished.
You had started asking for the morphine towards the end of the day. Not much, but you’d never needed it before. I can imagine how much you must have been hurting to make that concession. You always hated painkillers, hated anything that made you feel out of control of yourself, unlike yourself. It didn’t seem to affect your clarity, but it did seem to ease your pain. I remember your pain. It was in your bones. When you would move sometimes – or sometimes when you were still and it was so bad that it would make you move – your face would grimace in this expression that was indescribable. You would hold your breath until it passed. I hated to see you in pain. I encouraged you to take the morphine. After all, we knew you didn’t have much time left – why spend it in pain? But you wanted to spend it being present. I admire that.
You had stopped eating by now, but today I could still get a few Dibs into you. Water. Your beloved orange sherbet in little tiny spoonfuls. It was sunny, and the light slipped through the slats of the blinds in gentle patterns, changing throughout the day, as sunlight does. You never asked for me to open the blinds or asked to look outside. Looking back, that surprises me, as you so loved nature. But you were focused on the world inside your three rooms, the world that encompassed the people you loved most, and the small things you had around you that you treasured. The rest of the world didn’t matter anymore.
People came and went, people you’d known for years and years who loved you so. You always thought of yourself as being alone, as not having many close friends, but so many people felt like you were THEIR close friend. You were very comfortable with that, with all of it, and with being alone. I suppose that’s the mark of a person truly happy in herself. But today, people came knowing that they were coming to say goodbye, even though nothing had been said. I left them alone with you, and they usually came out of the bedroom and started to cry, and I would thank them and comfort them as best I could.
Everyone brought food. You weren’t eating. I couldn’t eat, except late at night, when I couldn’t sleep. I would eat weird things in weird amounts, knowing I just had to get something, anything, into me. It wasn’t comforting. It was a random necessity. That had been going on for a week, my eating like that. Ever since you really stopped eating. For me, that was the beginning of my thoughtless, mindless eating habits that have added so much weight to my small frame in the last four years.
I don’t remember doctors coming. I don’t remember even talking to the doctors. But that must have happened. Mustn’t it?
In the afternoon, you took a nap. As always, I stayed beside you for most of it. I would go do little things, make phone calls, shower, clean something, constantly checking on you. When you woke, I took your hand, asked you if you had a nice rest. You said yes, and looked at me strangely. I chattered at you, you responded politely, still looking at me in that odd way, patting my hand. Then you said, “Who ARE you?” And I reminded you that I was your daughter. Your eyes cleared, you looked relieved, you laughed at yourself as you recognized me. I felt a chill that I did not show.
I had been so wrapped up in caring for you. For months, I think, I had been flying across the country every weekend to be with you. Your death became my life. We had always been close, except for those nasty teenage years, but especially since Kelsea’s birth. We had talked every day. After the last diagnosis, we talked three or four or five times a day. In the mornings, to be sure you were okay. If you were lonely. If I was bored. If you went to the doctor. In the evening before bed. If I was scared. If you had some piece of news. We talked so much because we knew that soon we wouldn’t be able to talk at all, not in the same way.
And you were so happy to have the three of us there. You loved us so. That night as we were going to bed, you felt it was going to be your last night. You said goodbye to me. You told me to tell Kelsea that you loved her. You reminded me that the car keys were in the little bowl on the half-wall by the kitchen. Yes, ever the Mother. And you went to sleep.
But it was not your last night.