Sunday, August 28, 2016

A San Franscico Favorite Memory: Palace of Fine Arts


Living in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 80s and 90s, and then more recently in the Mid-to-late aughts, this was my absolute favorite of favorite places to go.  For part of the time we were in the area, it was closed down, but the first time we visited there, it took my breath away,  It was at night time, a little darker than in this picture I downloaded from the internet.  A swan floated by, right through the golden reflection and I thought life couldn't get any more charming! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

When The Light Is Just Right





























Lovely And Pleasant Trip To Utah

Since The Kids left in April, I've been planning (or at least awaiting) my trip to Utah this month.  Well, actually what precipitated the trip was one of my sisters making arrangements to have my mother escorted from Roswell to Ogden for a while in order for her to be closer to those of us this far away.  I jumped at the opportunity to visit her in a closer locale, so my brother and his wife, who live in Hillsboro, OR, and I drove out there last week.  To Ogden.  Utah.  Where The Kids now live.  You know, those kids...my grandson Desmond being the central figure in that group.  It was great to be with all three of them, of course.


The three of us PNWers stayed with another brother and sister-in-law up on the hill.  My sister and her husband hosted my mother and some grandkids and there were others (sister's kids and their kids) in the area.  A big bunch of people all related in some way or another.  I have a sister in Colorado and a niece in California with their own little family members, who didn't make it and I'm sure all this information is boring as hell to most people, but I'm counting on forgetting these details in the future when I would probably like to remember them.


I love a good road trip, and we did the jaunt in one day (about 12 or so hours) both ways, and I saw some interesting and beautiful things on the way, as well.








Once we got there, we


  • visited a lot in a few different homes
  • took a drive north of Ogden to the fruitway where we buy Montmorency cherries (the most delicious I have ever tasted) and to an "Amish" market where we couldn't find much Amish food or other goods at all (a nephew had proclaimed that the deli sandwiches were very good there, so there were a couple of reasons to check it out)
  • watched Desmond open a dozen kinder eggs (the legal part)...you know, it's legal to sell them in the United States if they aren't wrapped in candy, and they are soooo cute!




His favorite was the tiny retractable tape measure,





because how else are you going to know how big your head is?!


  • visited my mother's late brother's widow and son where we looked at some old photographs







  • sat in the shade or sun and watched the cousins play in my sister's pool



  • sat in the shade and watched Desmond and his Baba tend and feed each other from their garden




  • gathered in large groups for summer evening BBQs
  • attended an outdoor music concert, sitting on the grass (in the shade again)...one of the bands my daughter's fiancé plays in...which was very good and I'm not just saying that!


  • took a drive up Ogden canyon, almost getting to the beach at Cemetery Point, but by the time we got there, decided to turn around and not battle the crowds, instead opting for one more trip to the Monastery instead
I was just very interested to see the Quonset hut restrooms with their arched ceilings.











  • had late lunch on the patio of a restaurant on the river--well, not the outdoor patio, but an indoor booth with sliding picture windows overlooking the patio
  • hiked in the hills
  • watched and waited for the Strawberry full moon on the summer solstice
  • felt reluctant to leave
Desmond was so very sweet and cute and confident and loving and helpful and just all around happily wonderful! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

That One Time When I Died

I just got back from visiting a nephrologist.  I was scared.  My primary care doctor said that I had chronic kidney disease.  This is a case of knowing too much and too little.  Because, shit.  Kidney disease?
It has been two years since I had that really freak accident.  I don't  like to even think about it, let alone write and make it even more real, but there are just some undeniable ...I won't call them facts, because I sort of don't believe in facts...but, let's call them reports. 
Coming back from the incident, I was told over and over by a number of people how I shouldn't even be walking and talking right now, let alone having lived through that experience.  If the world is logical, at all, that is.  Here's why, in order of how it all strikes me right now:
  • driving in commute traffic, leaving the road and wrapping the car around a tree
  • having to be cut from the car while there was
  • no oxygen to the brain for more than 15 minutes, at least
  • no oxygen to the kidneys for more than 15 minutes
  • other organs shutting down
  • three times toxic dye injected into my system, when even one time is enough to have killed people before
  • heart stopping
  • heart stopping more than once
  • V tach with heart beats over 280 beats per minute
  • coma
  • dependence upon respirator
  • and more, but I can't do this part anymore
I've been to a few different doctors since then and each one exclaims how unreal it is that I survived. I sort of take it in, because I am alive, but I can't really take it all in.  It feels like just a story. And not even really an unusual one, at that. I recuperated, got over several broken ribs and even went camping a couple of months after the accident.  I went back to work after a month and didn't even use up all of my sick leave.  And occasionally I find myself sitting in a chair after yet one more doctor has come in to talk to me after having read my medical reports.  They marvel, and this last one even exclaimed that I had angels attending me, for sure.  He said "We would have to try really hard to kill you...you're going to live to 90." 


An ICD was implanted under my clavical and attached to my heart, which is set to shock my heart back into rhythm when and if  I have another episode of Vtach.  I take drugs to control heart rhythm and blood pressure.  One or more of those drugs has damaged my thyroid and now I take thyroid medicine.  This latest discovery of kidney disease might be attributed to the blood pressure medication.


I have always, always been a believer in homeopathic and other alternative remedies for what ails a person, and this new experience of taking these pharmaceuticals messes with my head.  But let's face it.  I'm scare-able.


And I don't really want to come off as dwelling on my maladies or other physical conditions, but I don't think I've ever put this much together in one telling.  And it's not this telling that motivates me to write, but I feel like what I really want to write about needs to be prefaced this way.


So, it's the head trip I want to write about.  Maybe I had angels attending me, maybe it just happened the way it was designed and I didn't need angels because it was all orchestrated from the "beginning."  I know that some things happen to some people and other things don't happen to them.  I reject the notion that some people are more favored to receive the good fortune of not dying when they "should."  I think all happenings happen as they do because they are happenings.  And just because I'm alive right now to be happy that I survived, what if I would still be this happy if I died?  Or maybe even more happy, but then again, there really is no such thing as "what if." 


















Monday, June 6, 2016

I Feel Ya!

About my grandson. About inheriting visceral empathy. About being lucky enough to have my daughter as a mother.


Let's back up a little, first, though.


As teenagers, my sisters and I liked to watch the Dating Game on daytime television.  I say we liked to watch, but I'm not sure we enjoyed it greatly.  It was painful to watch the gaffs and blunders these beautiful young people would make, blithely thinking they were not doing anything embarrassing.  but we knew differently, so we got embarrassed for them.  We pulled into ourselves and sat with our legs curled up under us on the couch and would even sometimes bury our heads, exclaiming, "What a cut!" and feel real and true blushing embarrassment.


I remember wondering why those foolish people weren't the ones being embarrassed instead of us, but I never came up with an answer.  We had always felt things that others felt or were supposed to have felt in probably all aspects of life.  It was a sensitive intuition, as if we could climb right on up into other people's feelings.


We probably got that, at least in part, via our mother, who was a very sensitive and shy little girl, growing up to be less shy and more fun-loving as a teenager herself, but continuing into adulthood with more empathy for others than most people we knew.  We seven offspring each had our own excruciatingly shy periods of childhood and beyond, and to this day live our own versions of being introverted and also, not so shy and introverted.  I'm not shy anymore.  Ever.  But I do know where my internal safe places are.


It's not so much the shyness and introversion, though, that I'm trying to write about.  More it's this empathy and magnetism of others' feelings that I would like to explore a bit.


When I was in the fourth grade, we got a new student in our classroom.  She was 16 years old.  She looked like a teenager, but she spoke and behaved in a much younger way that called me to be her protector.  Oh, the innocence and vulnerability! I was so excited and warmed to run home and tell my mother that I had a new friend in my class, who I felt like taking under my wing.  The others in our class were welcoming at first, but eventually, some of them either learned or remembered how easy it is to be mean.


I came home one day and told my mother that kids made fun of Sabrina today.  She looked very concerned and stopped what she was doing to hear what I had to say about that.  I told her more and she just looked at me and said, "Well, Penny!" as if we were equals in our inability to understand that sort of cruelty coming from children or to really protect Sabrina from them--as if she were saying what in the world can we do to make this not be true? 


I had to turn my face away to hide my tears.  I hadn't shed tears for Sabrina, however much compassion I might have felt for her.  It was my mother's hurt that hurt me, and the depth of my own hurt that I didn't want to expose.  It was such a pure and raw feeling that to this day I marvel at the experience, and I hear the tone in my mother's voice as she spoke those two words that continues to speak volumes to me.


So it is, I have come to believe some things about my grandson, now, and think he must have come by some of this intuitive feeling of others' feelings, quite honestly, as they say.


As you may or may not know, Desmond's mummy, our Katy, believes that love is just that.  Love.  You bestow it, you pour it out, you drink it in, you let it happen to you and you revel in it.  It distills in your blood.  You don't prorate or ration it out, or sell it or attach strings to it.  You don't toughen it up or water it down.  You can't, because if you do that, it's not love anymore.  When it is love, it's own true self, all you can really do is harmonize with its plucking at your joyously aching heartstrings.


I know this about her because, well, she's my daughter and I know her, and more recently, she's my grandson's mother and now I know her more and better.  I experience her through Desmond's complete adoration of her.  His safety and calm courage in her presence and beyond.  His liberty.  His place. 


Does anyone remember what I wrote about his birth more than three years ago?  Let me remind you.  "...the swelling, welling emotions in those first moments are probably quite universal, but something happened to me that I did not expect.  I immediately starting loving everyone in the whole wide world!  I imagined what this baby looked like (before they could get around to texting pictures) and I actually felt palpable feelings of LOVe lovE Love--just love...for everyone.  My mind said to me, "You love everyone! This is a gift that came with Desmond."









I harbor and protect the belief that his emergence into this world actually, literally, PHYSICALLY FOR REAL, created an erosive current in my sensibilities, carving upon my soul's frame, the lovely, wild and majestic canyons where thoughts of him are daily carried and spirited through twists and turns I can't see ahead of me. 


I should be better than I am because of all of this.  I should be perfect.  How am I still human?!


Katy and Desmond know how to feel.  Sometimes they can even speak their feelings, which comes in handy, in case you're wondering.  Desmond can name his sadness, for example, and because of that I think he can name my sadness.  Sometimes when he has been disappointed his softly plaintive little voice informs, "I'm sad.  I'm so, so sad.  It's sad."


When his parents picked his life up with theirs and moved away from where I live just a couple of months ago, he didn't really understand what was happening.  He knew he was riding in a shiny, big, blue truck for a lot of hours and ended up in a sort of familiar place and stayed there where I wasn't.  I haven't seen him since then. (I never thought two months could be so long, long, interminably long!)


We talk on the phone.  The first time he heard my voice on the other end of the line, he emitted a strange and strangled hurt-animal cry and began telling of the sadness, again.  It was so upsetting to him that his mother and I couldn't really finish our phone call and she needed to hang up to comfort him.  The next time I called, the same sort of thing happened, to a bit of a lesser degree.  He immediately sounded sad and said sad and eventually calmed a bit.  Since then, my name has changed.  When I call, I am now, "Sad," but it's not said in a sad voice.  It's just the pronunciation of my name, "Sad."


He's a funny little fella.  At first, it made me cry in my own throat, to hear him be sad, but the more I think about it, the more I think he was giving a name to the feeling I was transmitting to him.  I didn't sound sad.  I was excited to talk to them!  He could just sense that I was sad.  And I was.  And am.  I miss him so very much!! 


Is it so far-fetched to believe that in addition to his maybe missing me with all the huge changes in his life, he actually intuits my sadness?  Actually feels it in his feelings?  It's in the ions in the air?
I think it's not that far-fetched. 













































































Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Leaving Planet Desmond: Part Three Re-entry



Kahlil Gibran moved me when he said, "You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth."


I'll never leave Planet Desmond, no matter how far as arrows he and his mommy shoot off into the future.  Because, yes, (get ready for the sticky sweet mixed metaphors and likenings) I don't actually live on Planet Desmond. I thought I had been swept up into that crazy, whirling, wonderfully wondrous world that sprang into existence the moment Little Big Bang exploded my world, from the inside out, as it happens.  He landed in me rather than my landing on the planet him.  By the way, his mother did the same thing to me on another plane in a different season. I rejoice at this.


I guess what I'm really trying to say is that even though I wish we could live together in the same little dust-devil for many more years to come, I am truly, sincerely, reverently and unfalteringly happy about letting them THWHITTT through the air. (That's the closest I could come to onomatopoeia for an arrow being sprung from the bow.)


It's the right and natural thing and deep down I find it vicariously adventurous.  So no more lamenting the loss of quirky play and perplexing pronouncements, the little, almost imperceptible lurking in my doorway of a midnight, the lashy over-the-shoulder looks that thinly cloak some inner fantastic imaginings, the new wonder at an old ritual, the helpful unloading and unfolding of clothes in the laundry basket, purple play dough, green security suitcase bubble-popping, pink lunches and games of chase where the object is to run squealing into the chaser's arms and get caught. 


I can't write three years of living with Little Big Bang and it's not a productive exercise to embarrass language against the pith and soul-poetry of the Desmond that is our Desmond.  So it's done.  (Well, the public lamenting is over, but I'm allowing myself the lovely inner longing for a little longer.)




 This picture was taken on their last day of play at Boston Harbor Marina.  Such a fitting farewell.




Monday, April 11, 2016

Leaving Planet Desmond: Somewhere In The Middle

The kids have been gone for several days already.  I've finished up a week at work and have begun another one.  I've been pretending that there are things enough to keep me busy and happily engaged, but it's a hard job, that pretense. 
I have to say that I am genuinely happy and anticipating a future full of promise, joy and wonder for my little gone family.  Go get 'em, you guys!
But damn!  No more of this in my home right now:































Well, you get the idea.