Wednesday, August 25, 2010

it's a beautiful day

I just heard this year's American Idol winner, Lee D??, sing his song, "It's a Beautiful Day", and when it ended I turned off the t.v.--I didn't want to hear about "home grown terrorists whose central headquarters is in Minneapolis", or about the market diving down each day like starving seagulls searching for absent fish. Nope, I wanted to start my day with the title of his song.

Because it rained last night (actually, it hailed too, but somehow the sound of hail, even the word, hail, is harsh and not lovely, like the word, rain); so, it rained in the desert, blew away the dust, settled the scents from trees and bushes, stirred up animal actions of frogs and lizard, cajoled the birds to sing with lustiness and lifted up the butterflies with more light and pollen-teasing on the subsequent breezes.

Because I took my 91 year old dad for a mammogram and ultrasound yesterday and he doesn't have cancer. Because I showed up for him even though my own trepidations of even walking into the radiologist's medical plaza incurs stress on my digestive system. Because I did community work last night with new colleagues I like, trust, respect and met people I didn't know but who care about their community and the lives of people who live on the other side of Tucson.

Because I can now make a decent omelet--thanks to Julia Child--and because the jam on my bread this morning tasted like farm jam my grandmother used to make.

Because my ankle stiffness is lessening, the aches are less harsh and I can function more normally in every day tasks.

Because I have friends, family and community that I belong to. Because I can read and write and explore new worlds by putting words and thoughts together.

It is a beautiful day. Because I said so.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

a bit out of sync

I am a bit out of sync today and don't feel like doing house chores after getting groceries this a.m. We have to eat, of course, although one of the habits that hasn't come back since my ankle accident is my interest in making new recipes. I simply don't feel like cooking at all. Even the recipes in magazines don't interest me as they used to. I still like to eat, still have the five pounds on that came from New Orleans or earlier this summer, but prepping at home is something I don't want to do. I will make a nice omelet for breakfast and maybe a weekend lunch repast of tasty sandwich and fruit but, other than that, I am not the cook I once was. It could be the weather as well--hot and humid--but whatever the cause, our grocery list is just for the basics.

Yesterday we went to Mt. Lemmon and it was gorgeously green and cool. Pink and yellow wildflowers dotted the roadside and there were crevices of yellow black-eyed susans winding their way through the green ferns and grasses. We picniced, read our favorite books and napped. Went to Summerhaven for the street scene of Tucsonans, young and old, new UA students, families with babies and dogs in tow, smiling in a relaxed way at each other, grateful for the 72 degrees instead of the 100 plus temperature in the valley. I slept well but even woke up not especially charged up to swim. I did my neighborhood thirty minutes before groceries and now just want to relax again. My ankle did well yesterday--I even walked a bit on the newly paved road leading to the UA observatory. Today it feels a bit tired, so that's another excuse I have for not picking up the dust rags.

It rained in the valley late last night and broke a few flower stems. The rain is worth their loss, certainly, but I hate cutting off flowered stems and sending them into the garbage. As I sit here and watch them bend over like sad little ladies I sometimes see at church (when I go)--hunched over with curved backs that demonstrate the unwillingness or unknowingness of that generation of women who, like my mom, didn't take calcium for osteoporosis--I want to take care of them and not let them just die. So my big action for this late morning will go trim them and make a small bouquet to put in the glass vase that sits empty on the table outside. That reminds me that I bought two new pots this week for inside cuttings to make root. I can do that later when the sun is off the back yard.

So maybe I will just take what limited energy I seem to have today and nurture my plants. Dust bunnies and wastepaper can just wait for another day.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

simple things

I didn't have my sunglasses this morning (left them in the car last night) so I know the light was different as I walked back to the house after swimming. And maybe that is why the leaves on the bougainvilla looked soft and green, the pink blossoms teasing me with their crinkled petals.

On the tv show, Sunday Morning, my favorite part is always the last two minute video of nature. Today they showed sea anoemenes (sp?) off the Washington state coast. They glittered under the shallow waters. It was reassuring to see water not stained by oil slicks, for a change.

Yesterday we took Dad out for lunch and to a Saturday matinee--Tom Cruise's summer action flick. Dad really enjoyed the movie. With his failing eyesight, I am not sure what he can or cannot see, but he sat on the edge of his seat almost the whole time. He insisted Jay Leno played a bit part as a mechanic in one scene and while I know it wasn't Jay, the illusion of it gave him additional pleasure, so maybe it was Jay Leno to him and that's okay. He lost one of his Cascades swimming and pokers buddies the night before and it was an unexpected death, so to see him lose some of that grief in the frivolity of Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz riding a red Ducati on the streets on Spain, surrounded by (computer generated?) spike horned black bulls--well, to see Dad joyous was the best part of the afternoon for me.

After a roller coaster week with my ankle and Aron getting a piece of metal (from work) in his eye, I cherish the simple things on the weekend. We went to the Desert Diamond Hotel Casino last night--I wanted to walk a little and at 97 degrees in the evening, inside AC is a requirement. The cost of the adventure was $10.00 on the stingy slots, but there are other kinds of payoffs. As we waited for a loooooong train to pass on Prince, I noted the various countries reprsented by the stacked cargo: China, Italy, Japan, Korea, Switzerland. I tried to imagine the thousands of stories pressed within the cargo--what the products were, who made them, who guided the cranes to put them on the train (from the ships), who navigated the ships...endless possibilities of stories. And then, at the Casino, they have a pretty nice lobby museum of Tohono O'Odham crafts and ancient artifacts. And again, my mind imagined the artists, the women who wove the baskets, the men who played games, the ancient ones who painted red ocre on the pots that were used to feed children and elders.

So it's the simple things that can keep stories rolling in my head. It doesn't have to be the front page story or the headlines in the news. Instead, it can be the tiny yellow sea creature, swimming by a fern, living in an underground universe humans haven't yet completely destroyed.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

they say the monsoons are drying up

It's not bad enough that the stock market keeps dropping, that friends and colleagues are losing their jobs, that family bank accounts, including mine, can barely keep up with bills even though cancelling magazine subscriptions escalates; no, that's not bad enough: today I heard the weatherperson say the monsoons are drying up. Apparently after so many days of dropping dew points, they can make such a conclusion and although we have had slightly above normal rainfall, what we desert dwellers know is that, although the monsoons may dry up, the heat isn't going away for about a month or more.

Yes, we can see that the shadows lengthen earlier in the evening, but it's still 100 degrees when the sun goes down. Yes, we notice that the birds sing later in the morning, but it's already 82 degrees when toast is being buttered for breakfast. It's summer heat without the "big bang bonanza" at the end of a sweltering day. The monsoon is something to talk about other than the lousy economy or SB 1070. "Where were you when the lightening struck?" "How much rainfall at your house?" "Did you notice the desert toads in the swimming pool?"

Without the monsoons, table conversation turns downward like our moods. It's time to roast green chilis on the sidewalk and say "the heck with this; it's summer and I am tired of trying to be cheery and smart. I want to take a siesta all day and wake up to a cool breeze from the North."

It's not easy to accept the reality of days of summer until Halloween. By the time the goblins come out, our skins are dried as the dead grass, and, like the dying flowers of summer, we have lost our bloom and sag like empty bags of mesquite flour.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

remembrance weekend

Today marks the one year anniversary of my mom's death. I wanted to go up to Mt. Lemmon and sail a paper airplane into a canyon, but my ankle this morning was telling me to keep it simple, so we did: Mark and I went to the Tucson Botanical Gardens, a favorite spot of mom's, and we read some poems from a book that belonged to her parents, with marked passages in poems by Robert Burns, William Cullen Bryant, Lord Byron and William Wordsworth. Several of the poems I recalled hearing from my Grandparents and most of them had wisdom that would speak to an agrarian community, such as my Grandparents' and mom's childhood years. Two or three spoke of life and death, and, in their verses, encouraged a stalwart stoicsim that I believe I witnessed in my Grandparents Dice and in mom.

We sat in the Mexican Garden area of TBG, one of my favorite shady places within this urban oasis and watched a red male cardinal pick seeds from the earth. Butterflies shook their wings at us as they drank nectar from crepe myrtle. It was lovely and I really felt mom's presence in that space.

Yesterday we took Dad out to the food court at Park Place. Young families were bustling about with bags from Old Navy, filled, I suspect, with clothes for youngsters getting ready for school that starts next week. Dad really enjoys watching the children run about and feels connected to the young soldiers in Air Force or Army uniforms. He eats his pizza with gusto and although it's no town square we are visiting, there is a sense of community in the retail mall that reassures participants that life has continuity as babies are fed in their strollers and toddlers romp on the small playground inside a air-controlled desert shopping mall.

It's not easy in our secular world to find public places with meaning, but, if our hearts are open, they can be found. I am grateful, that on this weekend of remembrance, I found mine.

Friday, August 6, 2010

end of the week

This week seemed to fly by and I have to watch that trend so that a relapse from the slow life to pre-ankle injury normal speed does not take place. I don't need to ramp up in that way. I need to still take things one step at a time and focus on balance--literally.

While my ankle continues to progress in strength, I have a long way to go, it seems. My mind keeps me from putting full weight on just the right leg as I practice stepping on a flat "ladder" at physical therapy. I seem to have soreness and my arch if I stand too long as I did this week at a work reception. A mantra I hear from my physical therapist is "focus on your core"--meaning my posture, glut muscles and hips so that I aligned and centered. As I seem to have more ankle flex, my calf muscle, front and back, aches more. My thigh muscle is still atropied so that I notice it, but probably no one else does. I have my ankle taped for the weekend which makes my ligments and soft tissue "remember" how to work properly. The tape also seems to serve as fake pressure on my soft tissue similar to the way Kevin, at ProActive, applies before I start my workout. As a result, today, I had new twinges on top of my foot as well as around the inside area of my ankle (where the dislocation extended the tissue the farthest and where, I suspect, somehow my two pins are located). Anyway, I just need to be aware and take care as I walk along, at a slow and reasonable pace.

My work life has gotten busy but not with real billable hours. This month appears to be very slim on income--again. That depresses me as I listen to the unemployment numbers and hear the stories of two more friends/colleagues who have lost their jobs in the past three weeks. I said "yes" maybe too quickly to a couple of projects that will pay a little but not much return on my time investment. I have to learn (still) the lesson of asking more questions before signing on to a project. I respond quickly because my ego gets in the way. The one project I was most doubtful about is the one that is turning out to be the most exciting and that's a good thing.

Sunday marks the one year anniversary of my mom's death. I was going through my closet today and found one of her jackets that still smells like her. That was comforting to me and I am beginning to be open to reworking some writing about her. Eventually, I will relook at older photos, too, but not quite yet. I hope to get to Mt. Lemmon and read a poem aloud, maybe make a paper airplane with the poem on it and let it soar in the canyons--. When I get paid, I will make a small donation to Reading Seed because mom loved to read to us and, in the end, that was the last pleasure I think she had: to be read to, as she drifted into River Styx.

Death looms its tentacles around my summer plants, brought on my heat and blowing winds. It's a part of the cycle but when it affects family and friends, it tears me into little bits of soul.

This sounds very sad and gloomy and I am more tired than sad and gloomy. I hope to sleep in past 6 a.m. tomorrow and appreciate the lengthening shadows of early morning as, very slowly, the sun begins to shift toward the end of summer. So, at the end of the week, I want to be grateful for my health, for the family and friends I can open up and be myself with, whom I can support and for the sunsets which glimmer with rainbows in the distant mountains.

Monday, August 2, 2010

the way we live now

If you have access to check it out, there's an interesting essay in this Sunday's NY Times magazine, entitled: "I Tweet, therefore I am."

As you may recall, about a month ago, I made a blog entry that resulted in a widening chasm between myself and my sister. I seem to have become yet another writer of blogs who, unintentionally, posted a reflection that was intended, in my mind, to be semi-private (read by those who I knew were reading my blog) but was, more or less, public. In this article, cited above, the writer asks:

"...when every thought become externalized, what becomes of insight? When we reflexively post each feeling, what becomes of reflection?..."

These are important questions, and, as sister-writers, I thought I would share them with you to ponder, as I do.