Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunflowers and Blue Skies

Some days I wake up grieving I know not what. There's always plenty to sigh and storm over. So, most often, I don't puzzle on it too much. It is what it is or maybe it is nothing.

Today there is something. After reading Mig who wrote about justifying one's own existence (or not), I was reading Yarnstorm at Jane Brocket's little slice of the world. Jane wrote about the sad news of Elspeth Thompson's death.

Elspeth sort of enchanted me ( and I mean that in the "moved by magic" way it sounds) with her beautiful blogs, books, and columns.

I read a comment left in condolence by arusa that quoted a poem:

Why did you vanish
into the empty sky?

Even the fragile snow,
when it falls,
falls in this world.

- izumi shikibu -
woman poet of the Heian period, Japan

And then another comment that is one of my beautiful Mother's favorite poems by Mary Oliver:

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

from Dream Work by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver

And lastly, I recalled this from Kathleen Raine posted by Elspeth on her own blog here:


I believe nothing – what need

Surrounded as I am with marvels of what is,

This familiar room, books, shabby carpet on the floor,

Autumn yellow jasmine, chrysanthemums, my mother’s flower,

Earth-scent of memories, daily miracles,

Yet media-people ask, “Is there a God?”

What does the word mean

To the fish in his ocean, birds

In his skies, and stars?

I only know that when I turn in sleep

Into the invisible, it seems

I am upheld by love, and what seems is

Inexplicable here and now of joy and sorrow,

This inexhaustible, untidy world -

I would not have it otherwise.

Elspeth had that extraordinary ability to appreciate and nurture the exquisite in the ordinary and untidy. Sometimes extraordinary skills demand an excruciating sensitivity.

So, to make sense of the painful impermanence of the beautiful we can try words, frail though they be.

I like to look at my child's eyes. From his early days to now they are made of sunflowers and blue skies.

click on photo to see the sunflowers up close

They are as miraculous as anything I've known.

What is enough? Enough to convince us to stay. To see things through. To believe that there is something ahead of us or something right now that requires our presence.

To steady my gaze on the now, I claim the natural world, these eyes, and a quote that I believe originated with Pam Houston in Cowboys Are My Weakness:

"A death wish is a life wish, as love is the flip-side of fear."

And I will not judge another for their own conclusion.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Not You Again!?!

Oh No!

Dear OPB,

For the love of dog how can it be possible that it is again time for PLEDGE Week/Month? Why?Dog why? How many years is it really appropriate to replay Rock, Rhythm & Do Wop? Seriously! Frankie Valli is freakin' me out! Have Mercy!

I've not yet completely forgiven you for the whole soft ball lob from Jim Lehrer to George Bush during the Bush - Kerry debates when your rabid neoconservatism reared its ugly head (as an aside, how the hell you got to good old liberal Texan Jim Lehrer is a frightening thing upon which to speculate. He was so obviously and deeply affected. It aged him overnight.)

So, back to what I once was able to refer to as pledge week-now pledge month. Is your target demographic really the over 80 set? Really? Because I don't feel that old. I am a pretty regular viewer now that you have mended your ways and put a little Public back in public broadcasting. I think Frontline is amazing. I dig Art Beat. I watch Julia cooking with Jacques religiously -it is my sole religion come to think. Mr. Roger's owns me as we have discussed previously. Sewing with Nancy makes me sweat in a good way. Do not get me started on Masterpiece Theatre. Zut! I have never been the same since I watched Glenda Jackson as Queen Elizabeth in my first remembered Masterpiece Theatre viewing orgy as a wee girl in the early 70's.

Heavens! I could rave endlessly about my devotion to you. It is an awesome thing.

However OPB, despite my obviously overlooked devotion to you, you consistently and quarterly wound me. Honestly, I can not watch Victor Borgia one more time. Nor do I need a quarterly review of the Big Band Years. I am also worn out by Ed Sullivan and the Beatles. That's saying something, as I bear a deep and abiding love for all things Liverpudlian. I hold you personally responsible for permanently destroying the Beatles-induced frisson I've cherished MY ENTIRE LIFE.

Shall we talk aerial views of Italy, Scotland, Ireland, and Greece to uplifting, ethnically appropriate elevator music?

These shows are probably fab when the viewer is stoned beyond high. But sober, again, once is enough.

Oh yeah! Suze Orman can blow me. She and her helmet hair creep me out and pleez with cheez sister who in this third world nation we inhabit has the resources to set aside 6 months salary in a rainy day fund? She tells me at least 4 times a year that I am heading toward financial ruin. Always a heartwarming thought. Well Suze, excuse me but you do not inspire me to give OPB any more money than my basic membership because, as you remind me ad nauseam, I am on track for abject poverty. As I said, "Suze Orman blow me."

And Suze, what is with all the weird jackets girlfriend?

Also, if Wayne Dyer tells me about that butterfly that came and sat on him one morning whilst he lounged in perfect mental health on the lovely lanai of his house in Hawaii because he is highly evolved and therefore in possession of a beautiful Hawaiian estate complete with friendly winged insects one more time I will expire. Hey Wayne! A freaking GINORMOUS red dragonfly once landed on me and convinced me that life was worth living.

I don't show up in your living room 4 times a year to tell you about it.

As for Celtic Thunder, Celtic Women, and the Celtic Tenors - I get it. My name is celtic. It translates to warrior. And yet, whenever I observe that yet again you are inflicting Michael Flatley upon me

or those weird generic blonde and redhead waifs that sing Enya songs badly 'tis not my Celtic blood which rises but the Viking Berserker who dwells in my heart and feels the call of a good and frenzied pillage -perhaps at OPB headquarters.

Now, you may feel that I am overreacting. Certainly, there are people who adore repetition of all things celtic, baby boomerish, 1950's US gloryday-ish, rockandrolldowopish, and self-helpishisms. It must be working for someone. It is your go-to fundraising formula. But here's the thing OPB, allow me to one up your own rerun mentality.

When, of an evening, I come home wired and tired from a day of trying to make impossibly unhappy people happy and all that I want is a cup of tea, my cozy bed, and a good Brit-com (and here we catch the author suffering from her own bout of regurgititous)

it pains me, nay, near slays me, to find that 12 weeks have so swiftly flown and once again I'm subjected to weeks of the same crap you've been slinging to solicit dollars for the last twenty years. Gee, next weekend I'll get to watch that creepy guy who bears a slight resemblance to Willford Brimley making Down Home Favorites and American Comfort foods on those weird cooking USA shows you love so well. And then, I'll have another chance to catch Celtic Thunder!

I have a proposal.

Please, please, please-the prettiest of pleases with brown sugar on top PLEASE just once could we have an all BBC Pledge Break?

We could start here:

Move on to this:

Add a dash of circus:

Revisit Grace Brothers and Mrs. Slocombe:

Kick it into high gear with my darling Inspector:

Schedule a week night with Basil:

And the Pledge Month climax could always be:

You would rake it in OPB! I swear. I'd beat Suze's projections for my complete financial collapse by instantly gifting my entire estate to you! Seriously squeeeeee!

I am a pacifist despite my inner berserker. But hear this OPB and let me be clear. One more of these and I may blow: