Mid-Autumn Festival (Almost)

Bleary-eyed and confused, woke up this morning and realized that — OH NO — what? Well, the bleary-eyed and confused part is right. Company coming today sometime and a trip to the store in the meantime and I don’t even know if I ordered anything edible! This post-Covid brain is easily taxed.

I’m going to remember 2019 as the Golden Age of Lost Innocence and Retained Brain.

Last evening, to our surprise, the wind came up and the clouds came over. By now you know what that presages. Four hot days in a row, one small escape, hardly right, is it? I looked at Bear, Bear looked at me. I went to the kitchen and closed to door, preventing her escape, and leashed her. Teddy had it all figured out, of course, as always. Assembled the appropriate fardels and we were out the door. Dusk fell a little early. Clouds and smoke from distant wildfires obscured the mountains, but the sky above was a kind of veiled blue. As we approached the Refuge, I saw the moon was rising golden behind the thin clouds.

“Wow,” I thought as any sane person would (breathe a sigh of relief) and pulled in, parked, and got the dogs out as fast as I could. I didn’t want to miss this. It was too great. And…

Mid-Autumn Festival. OK, it’s not until tomorrow, formally, but clouds and rain are forecast for Saturday evening. Carpe Noctem!

Our crepuscular walk wasn’t very long — 1/2 mile, but WOW. A black-crowned night heron in flight, more birdsong than I’ve heard in my life, an owl in the distance and this beautiful Moon as golden as the chamisa. My first Mid-Autumn Festival was in China, and I try to keep it somehow every year. It’s a celebration/remembrance of distant friends. 💛

Moonlight shining through the window
Makes me wonder if there is frost on the ground
I look up and see the moon
Looking down I miss my hometown

Li Bai

The moon remained bright and visible, unclouded, until we turned around. It was as if the sky and valley said, “Here, Martha, something for you to think about.”

On the way home, Mohammed’s Radio played the song the valley gave me as I drove home from seeing an ortho in Salida a few years ago. It was before my most recent hip surgery. The doc was abysmal and meaningless, “One of your legs is shorter than the other! I can’t fix that!” was about all he had to say along with, “I can’t read your X-rays,” as if it were my fault that his computer system couldn’t open the DVD my doc sent up with me. Driving home, I felt so disheartened, a little frightened of hip surgery, and unsure about everything. It is a song I never liked, but as I dropped down from the top of Poncha Pass into the Valley, it was as if I’d never heard it before.

When I heard that song that day, I understood something about this place where I came to live 8 years ago (September 20, 2014). It wasn’t only that I felt I belonged here; the valley thought so, too. The valley is like a person to me, maybe it’s my family, too, along with Bear and Teddy.

Last night the salient lines were:

“When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I’ll take your part
When darkness comes…”

It’s been a tough summer, but what a wonder I got from that short and beautiful evening walk. Thank you, Heaven.

Love Story

Once upon a time, long long ago, I lived in San Diego, not all that far (compared to now!) from the ocean. I was also a part-time (very part-time) mom, and, in summer I had the “task” of taking the kids to the beach. The deal was they came to school with me, payment for which was a Happy Meal, and after school we packed the cooler and chairs and headed to La Jolla Shores. Sometimes their dad would get off early and come with us; other times he met us there. It was a perfect beach for that because it had a large grassy area for throwing a frisbee, concrete picnic tables where we could set our Hibachi, nice showers so we could shower when we came out of the water and go home clean. (A LOT easier on me than making them take a shower at home.) We body-surfed or whatever they were up to at whatever stage of their lives.

There is a kelp forest down there and we thought it was hilarious to yell “Kelp! Kelp!” But now I don’t think it’s all that funny. Kind of funny, but not very funny.

For a couple of years my niece joined the summer “custody” thing, and I’d tow around three kids and buy three Happy Meals. The oldest of the two boys, and I didn’t get along very well — I’m not sure it was me; I think he resented his dad leaving his mom, but because I was there I got the flak. When he was old enough, he stopped coming in summers. Then I had a little girl and Ben, the younger of the Good X’s sons. It was good because it meant the beach drill lasted a little longer.

I thought about all this the other night and it seemed like it was a dream, reasonably because it wasn’t many years and within those years, not many weeks. My thoughts about it were combined with a beautiful memory of a moment. When the Good X and I split up, the younger son — then 15 or 16 — came to visit me. We were hiking at Mission Trails together. He’s a brilliant, gentle, unique, imaginative, intense, sweet, shy… In reality, there are no adjectives for Ben. Ben is and always has been and always will be Ben. He is truly not like anyone else.

“Martha, I just want to know one thing.”

“OK, Ben. Anything.”

“Because you and my dad are splitting up doesn’t mean we have to split up, does it?”

“No, Ben.”

“OK.”

Ben is nearly 50??? How?? Oh, wait…

We’ve experienced so much together — as a “family” of four and as two grown up friends. He now has a great wife and two beautiful kids. Getting there was a long and interesting journey for him — a story that’s not mine to tell, but I can tell this. When he and his wife were heading from California to their new home in the midwest, they stopped to have lunch with me at the little cafe in Descanso CA. We ate, talked about plans, finished our meal and knew we were about to say good-bye. He and his wife are both well over six feet tall. I barely clear 5. Sandi hugged me and got in the car to give us a moment. Ben and I stood looking at each other. Then he bent down and put his arms around me. “I love you, Martha.”

“I love you too, Ben.”

Knowing we might not see each other again, we had to say it. ❤️

Featured photo: Ben and Molly

The Ivory Tower

My mom and her family grew up on a farm that anyone would say, “Now that’s poverty.” It was, even for there. But it was also the 1920s and 30s on the high plains of Montana, and I don’t think a lot of rural people were doing a lot “better.” Maybe it didn’t help that my grandma’s view of birth control was denying little people their chance to live. She had a very vivid image to describe this, too. Little hands reaching out toward the light. So, ten kids, a husband who was (by all accounts) pretty eccentric, and a wife who struggled to recover from the loss of her little boy. I think they did great and their greatest achievement was 9 healthy, pretty happy, adult children.

My grandfather had a third grade education — pretty normal for farm kids (Iowa) born in 1870. Back then they squeezed a LOT into those three years of school and his third grade arithmetic book has triangulation as part of the curriculum. Well, you gotta’ measure hay stacks, right? The man read everything; his favorite writer was Thomas Carlyle. Try giving THAT to a third grader today or YOU read it (yikes!).

Two of his daughters had college educations. My mom and my Aunt Pat. My Aunt Dickie went to nurses school and my Aunt Martha went to business college. How did they pay? Well, my mom worked as a domestic servant. Back then, teachers went to school one year then taught on year, went back to school another year, then taught — it was an 8 year deal. I don’t know what my Aunt Pat, presumably the same. When my mom went to work at the lady’s house, my granddad used his savings to buy her a cookbook with fancy recipes so she could cook that for the lady and thereby not “disgrace the family” with the kind of very plain cooking she grew up with. I had that cookbook for a long time and it had such elegant items as petits fours. My Aunt Martha worked at a jewelry store to support her school which was two years. After that, she went to Washington DC and worked for the OSS. My Aunt Pat taught on Indian reservations because her husband was an Indian Agent. My Aunt Dickie was a nurse during WW II.

My mom persuaded my dad to finish college. He didn’t want to. He wanted to work for his dad’s construction company, but education meant a lot to my mom and my dad was truly a genius. For my mom and her entire family an education was the greatest thing a person could have.

I grew up believing that and I never thought of pursuing anything else. I started as an art major, but my mom, who held the spare cash purse strings, put the kibosh on that. Journalism. OK. Well, that didn’t happen but English was a compromise. I did like to read… English wasn’t going to lead me to a profession except teaching (my mom still hoped I’d become a journalist and never accepted that I was really a teacher). And, by the time I entered the field, colleges and universities had realized what a good deal it was to hire a stable of adjunct faculty rather than hiring tenured teachers. We saved them money. When the show was over, I ended up very proud of being able to teach well enough to keep working for 38 years and have enough to retire on. Believe me; that’s an achievement. Most of all, I was a good teacher; I was better than good. I was a great teacher. People lined up for my classes and waited out semesters until my classes had spots.

I was also a student. Some of my professors were assholes — there was the guy who told the class if we were a woman or a Jew we wouldn’t pass. I walked out. I failed, but whatever. I could’ve dropped but I forgot. There was the guy who ridiculed one of my papers in front of the whole class. I told him to get fucked and walked out. It was too late to drop so I had to make up that F in summer school. What a blessing! I got a professor who not only loved teaching, but loved Yeats, and had the most wonderful way to teach critical writing. I had no thought of becoming a teacher, but now I know that every class I took was teacher training.

Working at the college and university level was absolutely totally wonderful. When I started at San Diego State in the fall of 1999, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. When I became a contract lecturer, it was a dream come true. Attending professional conferences and sometimes presenting was a wonderful perk — not a duty or obligation, it was my chance to write what I wanted and share it with my peers. No one paid for me to go, though one of the colleges at San Diego State for whom I taught required I go.

The other day I had occasion to look up one of my former professors and to my immense surprise (and later, pride) I saw that my CV has more publications and years in the classroom than does his, though he’s an emeritus professor who was tenured. What that said to me is, “Martha, you’re the shit. You loved what you did.”

I did. I believe in higher education. I taught too many people who were like my mom or my aunts, young people and sometimes not so young from poor backgrounds for whom it was everything to have this chance.

One story stands out more than any. When I was a volunteer teacher in Denver for the Adult Education Tutorial Program — I was in grad school, 24 years old — I taught two nights a week preparing single students for the GRE. One of my students was a Puerto Rican woman about 45. She’d raised her sons and one of them was putting his mother through community college — her dream. She’d supported them through their school working as a cleaning lady in offices in downtown Denver. I was tutoring literature so they could pass that section. I had to teach them how to read poetry. OK, poetry scares people because they think they won’t understand it, so my job was to break that barrier. I knew the woman by the time we got to poetry. I took one of Langston Hughes’ beautiful poems and brought it to class. Here it is:

Mother to Son
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

She read it and looked up at me with tears in her eyes and held the paper to her heart. “That’s my life,” she said, “this man wrote my life.”

And THAT is something I could not have experienced — or shared — without the Ivory Tower.

My business students used to ask me, “Why do we have to learn this stuff?” I answered, “You’re going to dinner parties. Do you want to be a crushing bore who can’t talk about anything but cost accounting or software design? Or do you want to know a little something about human culture so you can talk to your boss’ wife who happens to be a journalist or a teacher or a diplomat?” Usually that was persuasive.

My education was pretty expensive. I earned a scholarship to Colorado Woman’s College based on my high school performance, but that was only two years. For the rest? My dad had to be disabled and then die for me finish (GI Bill) I earned a “free-ride” (tuition paid) to graduate school because I already knew what my thesis would be about, but I had to perform to keep it. Was I lucky? None of this was luck. And I worked — I worked through undergraduate school and through graduate school and ever after.

If a person really wants it, they can find a way to get an education, but, sadly, we live in a society that has diminished the value of intellectual curiosity and that’s not right. Am I privileged? I think so, but not in my having gotten a good education, but in my family and its values.

I think of my grandfather who went after it every day of his life and wrote the best short story I’ve ever read. I have a couple of his books, Les Miserables and Thomas Carlyle’s book about heroes. Every Christmas he read Snowbound to his family. Throughout the year, he read. All of my aunts knew many long, long, poems by heart. What a gift he gave them! Better than being a prosperous farmer, in its way. My grandfather’s books — cheap editions, coverless, worn, brown and broken are as ivory tower as they come. In reality, no one needs a professor to teach them, but having one — having access to thousands of years of human thought and discovery — is a freeway to knowledge.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had bad experiences in school. I did. You probably did, too, but that’s learning. It’s a pretty safe place to learn that out there in what is alleged to be ‘the real world’ there are all kinds and throughout our lives — students or not — we have to deal with that. Some of my students were real assholes. Some were scary. One of them pushed me against the wall and tried to choke me (he’d gotten a B and was angry about it; he also had PTSD from Iraq). Another told me to get fucked but he had to come back and apologize — and he did. Another student was so dangerous that I had to go to class with a security guy. She’d been in a car accident and her brain had been damaged; treatment, counseling, medication — wonderful woman, a pleasure to teach and to know. A couple of these scary people grew up to be…teachers. One of them because I inspired him by standing up to his nastiness and teaching him anyway. All the people in the Ivory Tower are human beings. I have a wonderful life now, but I’m one of the lucky people who can look back and say, “Well, sometimes it was hard, and sometimes it sucked, but at least I got to earn my living doing something I loved and believed in.”

I thank my family for that. My last remaining aunt — Aunt Dickie — wrote, “I’m so proud of you and what you’ve achieved.” ❤️

The featured photo is my mom’s brothers and sisters (and her) in front of the family home, probably 1923 or 1924. Two of the girls got a college education. One of them went to work for the OSS during WW II. My mom and Aunt Martha are the two little kids sitting on stools in the front row.

A Moment in Time

Fifty-odd years ago I would have been at Black Forest Baptist Assembly (BFBA) north of Colorado Springs with a group of kids. It was a “primitive camp” which meant we slept in tents (army barracks style tents), used an outhouse, and cooked breakfast over a campfire. I loved that job a lot and did it for two summers. My first summer I did this ONE camp. The next summer I took a full-time “job” as a CIT (Counselor in Training) and lived at BFBA for two months and counseled three junior high camps.

The job ended when my mom drove up one day from Colorado Springs and told me I had to come home. She was putting my dad in a nursing home, and I had to help. I packed up my stuff, said goodbye to everyone (thankfully, I wasn’t counseling a camp at that point, just doing dishes and stuff) and went “home.” Dad was duly installed exactly where he should have been long before, and I began the preparation to return to college in September.

Thinking back, I don’t think my mom expected me to say, “OK,” pack my stuff, and get into the car, but that’s what I did. One reason I had (in her words) “Moved out,” was because she and I fought all the time. I didn’t like it, she didn’t like it, but we couldn’t stop. I was struggling to live my life and she was struggling to live hers. I was completely unaware of the substance abuse backstory in her life — well, our lives since it affected me, too. I wouldn’t even KNOW that part of our story until some twenty years later when my mom was in the hospital and her doctor told me.

That was an enormous shock and lesson for me. Behind every face, even the most familiar to us, even our own, lies a mystery, a self and a struggle.

As for Black Forest Baptist Assembly, I imagine that the field and hill in the photo are now under somebody’s house.



Differences

I’m a sucker for blue eyes. As a kid I was surrounded by them — my mom’s eyes were changeable blue/gray and my dad’s the color of snow shadows. I was very surprised when I learned that most people in the world don’t have them. I don’t have them and neither did my brother. We both have/had green eyes.

This is pure personal taste, I think. They’re just pretty. I fell in love (lust?) with the Good X based partly on his blue eyes and some of the things he said. I fell for the Evil X (ewww) partly because of HIS blue eyes. Maybe we all have inexplicable soft spots in our brains for certain physical traits.

I’ve had 6 3/4 blue-eyed dogs. You’re worried about the 3/4? Ariel had one golden eye and one blue eye. Mathilda had a 1/2 blue eye.

Ariel and Mathilda


Seeing Bear’s blue eyes looking out of a Facebook post a few months after Lily died pulled me to the shelter where, when she looked at me from inside the cage, I was sold. They seemed to be Lily’s eyes looking out at me from the face of a white puppy.

One day I was walking Bear and we met a little girl — maybe four years old — with her mom. Bear is so big and so white, soft and fluffy. She looks like a mythological beast. The little girl reached for her, then looked at Bear’s eyes and then at me, “Why are her eyes white?” It was a little Hispanic girl who lived and grew up in an eye-color world the opposite of the one in which I grew up. I asked Bear to sit. The little girl and Bear were pretty much eye-to-eye.

“Look harder,” I said. “What color are they?”

“Ooh! They’re blue!” She reached out for Bear who just sat quietly while the little girl stroked her head.

The mom — who’d been a little worried, I’m sure — and I smiled at each other. It was a beautiful tableau of discovery.

Wandering Post about Life and Death (huh?)

The thing about everything is you have to know when to stop and yesterday I kept painting when I shouldn’t have. It’s OK. I will avail myself of a palette knife later on — maybe. Maybe not. It’s more about the experience at this point than the product. Usually I have no problem seeing the moment to pack up, but I was having so much fun.

I guess it’s that adage, “Don’t stay too long at the fair.” Looking up the phrase this morning, I learned it is a song, but wait! I already knew that… Out of the deep dark recesses of my universe Patti Page crawled out to sing this incredibly depressing little ditty. I could see the album cover sitting on the kitchen counter. I could hear adult voices discussing Patti Page and her physical deterioration. “Wonderful voice. Really too bad.”

Was THIS the album? Looks familiar. Yep these songs were on it, but where’s the song about staying too long at the fair?

I remembered asking mom? Dad? What it meant to “stay too long at the fair,” and they explained it somehow and my mom, at some point said, “It’s always good to leave a party when you’re having a good time.”

That made NO sense to me. How could you stay too long at the fair? Fairs are GREAT. The only fair I’d ever been to was the Mountain Empire Fair in Billings, and I didn’t get to eat cotton candy (“NO!”), but I did ride the ferris wheel and I got to see a LOT of animals, and it was AWESOME. And why would any one leave a fun party?

But it’s definitely possible to stay too long at the fair and my mom’s advice is right on.

I recently finished watching Grace and Frankie. There was a moment when I despaired of the direction of this show, but I paid $10 for the privilege of watching it on Netflix. Then, suddenly, in the midst of the absurdity and outright stupidity, BAM. Wow. The moral of the story — that we need each other — isn’t new, but it is still true. The silly meanderings that drive the storyline of Grace and Frankie to the conclusion are funny at times, but the conclusion hit me hard. In our lives, we don’t really have the option of NOT staying too long at the fair. We leave the fair whenever the universe has programmed us to leave the fair. Some of us leave the fair before it’s even opened for the day; others leave the fair/party when they’re having fun; others are lucky enough to leave the fair when they’re well and truly tired of the fair or have lost the capacity to enjoy it. Who knows? Most of us don’t.

So what about the fair? and the party? I don’t know. I do know that there’s a corner of my painting that is NOT what it needs to be. Or maybe it is. Time will tell.


Vases and Pitchers…

Typical morning here in Heaven with Bear chewing her morning rawhide and Teddy waiting for his coffee(cup). The eliminating of unwanted fardles continues apace, and yesterday I went at the top shelf in the kitchen cupboards to discover that in that terra incognita was a LOT of dust. I could hear the entire maternal side of my family saying, “You could plant potatoes.”

The cupboard is near the back door so who’s surprised? I packed up most of it for the thrift store, but I listed my mom’s Roseville vase on eBay along with a terrifying number of OTHER mother’s (and grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s) Roseville vases. The good news is that someone has bid on it, and I will be able to pack it up and ship it out in a week or so. Why oh why didn’t I save all that bubble wrap?

Last time I went to the thrift store with stuff I was turned away because they didn’t take donations on Monday. Their sign had blown down the road so how was I to know that? It was kind of amusing because I was parked right by the intake door. I had two bags. I am SURE the woman who warned me off was wondering why I didn’t put up a fight of some kind, you know, say something logical like, “Well, it’s just two bags and I’m here now.” But I didn’t. I honestly didn’t care enough besides, she should have said it, but no one did so they’re in the garage soon to be joined by a box of stuff. The shelf is empty and free to gather all the dust it wants.

Among the stuff I’ve found in this long adventure are a few photos of my family (featured photo). Back in the Little League days, my brother, who was adamantly NOT a sports guy, wanted to be a pitcher. His big sister, who was adamantly a sports person, wanted to play centerfield. That worked out pretty well since I played centerfield with a well-padded first-baseman’s glove so I could play catcher while my little brother worked on his pitching. “Against the fence, kids,” said my dad, “So you don’t break any goddamned windows and you don’t have to chase the goddamned ball.”

My dad was given to florid language. Meaning, gratuitous cursing 🙂

We spent many summer days in the backyard training. Unfortunately, my brother never got to play pitcher on his little league team. He played right field most of the time, the field where nothing much ever happens. He was so not into the game that, often, he didn’t even come in to bat when his team was up. Once in a while his coach would yell at him, “Kennedy! You’re up!” meaning it was my brother’s turn to bat. Sometimes my brother would come in and sometimes not.

I wonder what he was thinking about out there.

Irish Grandfather

When I was a baby, my paternal grandfather looked at me and said, “She’s been here before. A changeling child.” That’s what you get with an Irish grandfather, I guess. I never knew the man. He died when I was five. But my memories of him are all a little odd. At one point, after my family had flown from Denver to Billings on a DC 3 (my dad and I air-sick the whole way) my grandfather took my little brother (aged 3?) and me (age 5?) to Hart Albins (department store) to buy clothes. Story tells it that I led my grandparents RIGHT to the white, frothy dress I wanted, and I’d never been there before. The changeling thing came out again. “How did she know where it was?”

My life is full of strange things like that, including living here and not somewhere else. Of writing the story of my family before I even knew they were my family. Twillight Zone stuff all over the place, inexplicable except by my Irish grandfather whom I never knew. Still, I walk around with his sticking-out ears, his droopy left eye and the small divot in the chin.

A changeling is not a good thing. They’re not fully human — being fairy folk — and are always dangerous to humans. The often appear when a fairy steals a human child and replaces it with a fairy — a changeling. OH well…


The Stolen Child

W. B. Yeats – 1865-1939

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than he can understand.

Family Ties

Long ago I had a family in Switzerland. It’s difficult to explain and kind of a personal story, but among the treasures I’ve carried with me from that time are two plates. My Swiss family wasn’t exactly Swiss; they were Italian. They’d gone to Switzerland at the end of WW II when things in Italy were pretty dire. One of them was from Puglia, the other from Trieste. Pietro and Laura weren’t exactly “mom and dad” — “mom” could have been my mom, but “dad” only a much older brother. I’m still close friends with their son.

I didn’t speak Italian or any form of German, but my Spanish was decent, and my “mom” had taken care of a Spanish woman in Zürich when she first arrived in Switzerland so she and I spoke Spanish together. My listening comprehension in Italian was surprisingly good, I guess from watching Fellini movies over and over for years. My “dad” and I developed a unique language that drove their son crazy. He is multi-lingual as are most Swiss, but Pietro and I did fine with our language and spent hours wandering in the forest with Daisy the dog — talking! He loved cooking and taught me to make focaccia like that his mother sent him north with when he left Puglia at the end of the war. There were no opportunities in war-torn Italy and Pietro’s large family was very poor.

The story of the focaccia he traveled with is at least as good as the focaccia (which is amazing). His sister was already in Zürich and he was going north to join her and, hopefully, find a life. He said he only had a small bag of clothing and a giant focaccia that was supposed to feed him all the way to Zürich. Half was for him, half was for his sister in Zürich.

My experience with Italian trains is certainly different from Pietro’s back in the late 1940s, but one thing that remains is that they are prone to going on strike. When Pietro got to Milan, there was a train strike and he was stuck at the “Monument to Eclecticism and Fascism” — Milan’s main train station — for several days. All he had to eat was the focaccia so, when he finally got to Zürich there as none left for his sister.

My Swiss family was the “reward” for choices I made that were pretty crazy at the time, a leap of very blind faith. That leap took me exactly where I needed to go.

I wear my Swiss dad’s gold chain around my neck and wherever, I live, I hang two decorative plates they gave me for Christmas. The Christmas before my Swiss “dad” died of lymphoma (soon after New Year, 2000 😦 ) I was able to talk to him on the phone for a little while and speak Italian. Laura returned to Trieste after Pietro died, and I visited her there in 2004 when I went to Italy to study Italian. We spoke on the phone often, and, in the process of cleaning out all those old journals, I found her letters and noticed the linguistic evolution from Spanish to Italian. Family is where you find it and I miss them.

OH Well…

Today’s word is acceptance. That’s been a big part of my thoughts for a the past — what — 20 years? Last night I learned that my little family up the alley is moving to Montana. We’ve been a out of contact for the last couple of months for various reasons — theirs and mine.

I’m sad about it. I love that little family a lot and I think we’ve added a lot of joy to each others lives over the past three years. For sure they’ve been a treasure in my life. They “get” me, and I think I “get” them. But, I can’t make it possible for them stay, so we’ll be saying goodbye in a little bit. I have things for them to take with them that I have to organize.

That’s the whole thing. That phrase, “It is what it is” is annoying, but it’s still true. And, as much as I HATE that Kansas song, “Dust in the Wind,” it’s true that nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky.