Tuesday, April 15, 2014

around my yard

It is blossom time.












A friendly ornateness awaits every afternoon. I take for granted these live things, their doings, their openings, their murmurs. They guard my boundaries in beauty, with peace.

They are real. Nothing can unmake them. Though they fade and return again to their dust, the face of the earth is yet once more renewed.

I'm borrowing ancient words. David, the shepherd king who responded to things most deeply alive, expressed mystery in reality.

He began with waters, which pass between the mountains. Like the water I wander alongside, sometimes recalling it is nice to look up.

The waters... shall give drink to all the wild animals of the field; the wild asses shall quench their thirst; the birds of heaven shall dwell beside them; they shall sing from the midst of the rocks. The earth shall be satisfied with the fruit of Your works. You are He who causes grass to grow for the cattle, and the green plant for the service of man, to bring forth bread from the earth; and wine gladdens the heart of man, to brighten his face with oil; and bread strengthens man's heart. The trees of the plain shall be full of fruit...


Friday, April 11, 2014

my daughter...

...is blogging. Which is another reason the posting online bug bit me once again.

Living now on the opposite coast from me (along with her husband and my first grandchild, Edmund), Victoria has been finding moments in which to create. Her usual medium is visual/graphic art. At this point her One Thing Per Day posts explore her thoughts about making comics, with a bit about further aspects of her life, plus links to other creative spaces (oh, yes, sometimes there's food).

I, of course, watch for glimpses of Edmund.



Notice him in the background of this shot of Victoria's work space? Busy, happy little guy.



Tuesday, April 01, 2014

here again

An amazing thing happened. A visit from a blogging friend. Seven hours of conversation (she and I had one day to make the most of it).

We talked about many things, and one of them was blogs. Our talk made me long to post again, but also I desired to bring pieces from what has happened -- the stories -- back here with me.

So here I am. I get to return. Trailing posts from other blogs like old kite string.


You know how kites tend to tug really hard in spring breezes, to fly away, to be eaten by trees. Still, when the day feels right you want to test out another one. To see where it might end up this time.

Friday, September 20, 2013

reflect again

Into the garden now means noting a portrayal of decay -- the settling of this bit of land past its prime for another season.

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It is quiet. There are no house finches, and the honeybees make short days of it if at all. A wasp lingers on the peppermint James planted beside the standard mint near the deck. Snakes who used the shade and the sunny little paths no longer show their tails in quick retreat.

Spiders of bulging abdomens wait. I come too close, blind to one until it scurries upward in my periphery. Imagining shards of web, I shrink back, hating their cling.

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I seek orange mini tomatoes, pop two, and delight in juicy eruptions on my tongue. Before my mouth opened, I made the sign of the cross.

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Thirty years ago this summer I became a Christian.

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That is to say, the mercy of God blindsided me, so the faith I had more or less absorbed from my parents up to that point (having been "sanctified" til then, if you will, by their belief) became front and center, no longer avoidable: I had to make a decision. This is not, necessarily, I have no doubt, what happens to everyone. I know only my experience.

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I only knew it was a yea or nay; do or die; will I carry the Ring into Mordor sort of moment. And I answered yes. Not that that makes me anything.

To some people, I imagine, I am steeped in folk religion. In fantasy. I get that, better than they might understand.

It started when I first carried my Bible on a Sunday, looking like someone clinging to a crutch, resorting to playing a role, or needing a lucky charm. For me this wasn't the situation. I desired to study the writings contained in the book I cradled -- I had nothing else of substance to carry with me. The words in the Bible fit my experience of the love of God.

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How grateful I remain for their continuing, shining treasure. Like the season's final buds on our unquenchable rosebush. The writings of the people shaped and visited by God, sheaths of them. They are pure and holy.

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I will wander through the garden til after the rains earnestly begin.

Friday, September 13, 2013

the orange moon waves

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Recently came that day when you stood again, this time facing east, committing yourselves.

Then it made sense to take a honeymoon, a short one, and one of you got a cold just beforehand, but still it became that kind of moment when you can decide, sniffles and all, to follow this guy you're committed to out into darkness to find the beach, maybe to plunge off a cliff if you misstep. But he brings a tiny flashlight and you creep down the cliff behind him and find the darkling sand and there behind you is the moon (no camera, of course, in your hand), an orange waxing crescent above the waves, which are chanting "Alle" (on the upswing) and "Luia" after the crest.

Next day, while warmth of summer's end lingers, the two of you visit the little store his grandparents ran in the 1970s,

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the store you visited in early puberty, romantic pop tunes skimming your heart, tugging you to long for someone to tell you his sailor's story in all its ragin' glory.


You knew him then only as that older kid from the Hershiser family. He tried to sell you canned Oregon air. You bought a ceramic dog instead and named her Brandy.

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You couldn't yet dream he would become a sailor, someday tell you his stories, and cherish you more than all the sand along the seashore. But today you know, and you're glad to follow. (And then to take a nap in the car, because you have a cold, while he skims the coastal town's antiques establishment.)

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

ride write

Upon her move to New York, my daughter bequeathed me her bicycle. It's a sturdy blue cruiser, and I have to say I've wished more than once I had a metal steed like hers. Now I do. The bike and I set off yesterday in search of possible writing haunts.

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I was quite pleased to come upon a garden variety work bench.

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I arranged myself and wrote. Nearby the highway whisper-chanted. Close up, a honeybee disappeared inside bedraggled rose petals. People passed, holidaying. Tim was at work, so I didn't mind using some thought-power, testing the hard bench for possible future dry days (how many are left to this year, I wonder).

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At last I decided I was thirsty. My bike and I took the side street that led to the street my dad grew up on. Maybe it's the time of year, the sort of late-summer day when we used to visit. Nostalgia broke over me rounding the corner at Clark and Madison. Though much looks different, I know that sidewalk; I remember those trees. And there, in front of the house where such weighty things, it seems, happened, was a realtor's red and white sign. I had to stop.

Craning my neck before the cyclone fence and walking up the alley to peek at the "little house" where Grandma Edna lived her final years didn't bring anyone out to ask if I might like to look inside, so I dug out my cell phone and called the realtor's number. Though it was Labor Day, a man said hello.

"Uh, oh. I've been meaning to update that sign," he said. "There's a pending sale. It's going for $____." As if that should quell all possible inquiry.

"I just --" I fumbled, not knowing why I called. "My dad was born in that house."

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"Oh!" A different story. We chatted about some facts: the present owners did well by the place; they cared about it, the neighborhood is becoming more "upscale", and the new buyers should improve the place greatly.

"One of the earliest places around," the realtor said. "It's really two houses."

"Yeah. I know."

I wandered on to The Goat, an actual coffee shop, where people sit inside and (on these kinds of days) outside. I ordered hot water, my beverage of choice. The mug was comfy, and I could write in there, too, even with music playing, though I fretted about my bike locked out front. No one stole it; with people all around I don't think anyone would, but you never know, so next time I'll be sure to get a seat near the window.

I also ought to bring change next time, at least for a tip, since I felt badly leaving without paying anything after my water was gone. Nobody seemed to mind.

The way home, through neighborhoods and along the river, rolled past at a thoughtful pace.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

a small production

Recently I "produced" my first video. One thunderish Saturday early in August, we had a bike tour group stop to view our yard, which has become my son's "food forest". There were knowledgeable and curious people in the company. We're all a rather curious group here in Eugene, in several respects, I'm sure.

Taking raw footage and compiling it was a fun occupation for me. Perhaps more such things will appear here in the future.

Friday, August 23, 2013

embrace this side of normal

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"Ed is born."

Those three words over the phone during breakfast launched my summer. My son-in-law went on to describe my daughter's serious entry into labor the night before. She birthed their baby boy (Tim's and my first grandchild) before either parent had time to think about letting people know.

So began adjustments, transitions. I wouldn't hold my firstborn's hand during her labor the way my mom held mine (we also wouldn't test the strong possibility of my passing out at some point -- all to the good). There would be no marathon wait for extended family, no bets placed on the time of dear little Edmund's appearing. He had altogether already arrived, strong and healthy.

Before I hung up and grabbed my car keys, my son-in-law mentioned one other thing. "Edmund has lots of hair, and it's white."

Our daughter had delicate, strawberry-blonde locks at birth. Her husband is of Italian heritage with abundant hair, nearly black. So Edmund seemed to have inherited the amount from his dad and the color from his mom. His shining full mane drew immediate remarks from the hospital staff; they never see that much hair that color on a newborn.

Soon after everyone's euphoric first hours meeting Edmund, my son-in-law spoke what had been an idea flitting on my mind's periphery. He told me the pediatrician suggested they get Edmund genetically tested. Our tiny new person was most probably albino.

For about a day this news made me upset. How dare anyone infer anything having to do with mutation regarding Edmund? I didn't want reality handing me a cold message on a petri dish, sentencing my loved one to labels, to being misunderstood. No matter how silly I knew those feelings were -- Edmund doing well in other respects and the variations of genetics and individuals being everywhere what they are -- I felt them. I moped. Then I began the slow turn toward this news, this particular about my grandchild, this education.

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How interesting the way things surprise. The full-laden message, "We're pregnant". Months later the question, "Do you want to know the gender?" with its companion, "A boy", causing me to recall I had dreamed only a night or two beforehand my daughter saying those words to me, though I didn't believe them then.

The recent day we traveled together to the children's hospital in Portland for Edmund's testing, she told me something so like her, so delightful in the moment though I'd never have guessed: the only thing she worried during her pregnancy was that her child might be normal.

This is our heritage to some degree, be it genetics or otherwise, and I embrace it as I did precious Edmund, beginning to smile, the dozen days he and his mommy stayed at our house while my son-in-law drove a van and trailer to New York for fall term at seminary. I also release it, wishing to share, with gladness amid tears as now my daughter and Edmund have flown that direction as well. May I one day be fully done with moping.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

a wonder

In the midst of pondering situations, I'm drawn to my backyard of an afternoon or evening. I happen upon snippets of bumbly life. The background hums with insects. Blossoms stage an opera in color and scent.

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It's been two and a half years since I decided Orthodox Christianity was the thing I needed to immerse in, to draw up, if you will, into my proboscis. I had a friend when I decided this, a besty, and we'd been very close. Very on the same page. For years I had encouraged her in the shared paradigm of our understanding, and she had me.

The wonder is, today she and I continue in a good friendship. Even though my move disoriented us both. Even after she recognized rather forcefully she could not go with me wherever I flew.

This was a very good thing. It has humbled me to learn I'm not the be-all and end-all of her life, and at the same time I've had a particular exterior tension with her, a line in the sand I needed to cross alone, helping me recognize the Orthodox Church as the Where that everything in my life had been leading.

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These days my besty and I explore and practice, each dipping into different flowers. Yet in many ways our relationship hasn't changed. We continue to encourage one another. More carefully than before, perhaps, we converse regarding many things.

We hum in the background. Bumbling along, we attempt to entrust our tunes, our footing, our shades and songs, to the Reality we both still seek. Some afternoons are dust dry. Others we nearly flutter, and the pollen is sweet.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

what's better

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Often when I'm feeling the urge to write, it's because I desire to say something important. Or impressive. Or both.

But really, what's better is to say something true.

Truth will be misunderstood and maligned. Its implication will be dismissed and missed by the ignorance of blindness. I know. I do it all the time -- in darkness, I stumble over the twig across my path, because I didn't see danger. Or I see and decide I've got it covered. I can handle this impediment in front of me, I imagine, believing myself impressive, thinking along the lines of Adam: Hey, it's me; of course I can do this. Next thing I know, my legs are tangled and my nose has pounded turf.

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But truth won't cause the one who receives it to stumble. Truth can only, by nature, lift up; it will not destroy. Lies destroy; when all's said and done destruction is all a lie can do. Truth knows the annihilation its opponent brings but is not afraid in the slightest. There is nothing, truth understands, that can keep itself from remaking, redeeming, joyfully renewing what came about by the lie. Truth will never flag in zeal; truth always brushes me off and says There, there.

Like air particles -- noisy ones -- the lie surrounds me, and I listen. I'm covered in lie-smog, yet I am not of the lie. I'm not the lie, but I'm not the truth. I live in a process toward the truth. Somehow I know the truth reaches over the topmost bar. It streams past the locked gate, toward me. Not a single fumble matters. No awful word is measured, no crumbs spilled are counted. I am loved, and that is true.

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