Sunday, September 25, 2011

serenity afternoon

Here I am, basking in sunshine and coolness of Mt. Lemmon on a lovely Saturday afternoon. The path is in Bear Wallow where, in a month or so, the colors will be vibrant red, gold and rusty browns. Now there are just a few signs of fall, a red maple leaf, a yellow oak and dried flower stems along the dwindling creek.

I managed the path walk pretty well but there were a few places where the summer rains had further eroded the slopes, making the angle on the path a bit beyond the 90% of flexibility I have in my right ankle. The missing 10% doesn't bother me much except in places like this. So I asked Mark for help and he steadied my sideways stride as we pressed on...together. We stopped at Inspiration Rock (where my mother-in-law loved to go for a picnic) and I gather wildflowers, then on to "the top" where Octoberfest was just wrapping up. Mark managed to cajole the waitress into serving the last bratwurst for the day and so we shared the entree which included a tangy vinegar-ladened warm potatoe salad. For dessert, we each indulged in pie a la mode and mine was rhubarb, in honor of the memory of my mom and Grandmother Dice. Both used to make it from scratch and they would have approved of the tangy taste to the pie.

It is such a joy to go to Mt. Lemmon. Coming back down, winding our way through the muted canyons with early sunset to the west, we were gifted with a rainbow that connected the clouds to hills of scrub oak, yucca and breeze-blown grasses.

It's good to have an afternoon of serenity. Where do you go to find yours?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

glow little glow worm

While I was at Starbucks today, the music of the Mills Brothers came on, singing "Glow little glow worm, glimmer, glimmer...." And I began to cry. I remember my mom playing that song on the record player (33 1/3 speed) in the basement while she ironed clothes on Sunday afternoons. Her blue uniforms for her manager's job at Ben Franklin's, hung in order for the six days of the week that she worked. She loved that job. Sometimes I think she loved the job more than us at home and I am certain she got more consistent respect for her skills from her co-workers than she did from us. We tended to take her for granted, I think--how she juggled work with keeping a pristine, German-type orderly house, planning meals (which my younger sister often got stuck with cooking since I was often too busy with afterschool activities), doing laundry and, of course, the ironing.

I hate to iron. I used to have to iron my high school gym uniforms which added up to some % of our P.E. grade and those waistbands and collars were a pain. I have tucked away my ironing board in the closet and probably haven't taken it out for five years. When I absolutely have to "touch up" a shirt or pants, I use a folded towel and put it on the counter to act as an ironing board. My old iron that we got when we were first married still works, so out it comes, about once every three or four months.

But the song today didn't trigger resentment about ironing; it triggered the memory of how my mom made a boring task something lighter because of the music she heard in the background. She played '40s music but she also added more contemporary choices of John Denver, Simon and Garfinkel, Joanie Mitchell and even a few Beatles tunes made her cut.

This particular song also reminds me of when my sister, my cousins and I used to catch lightening bugs at my Grandparents' farm. We always let them go before the oxygen in the mason jars extinguished their light and their life, but, for a short time, I think we felt a bit godlike with our powers of capture and contain this fragile element of late summer evenings, the lightening bug.

If I could, I would look for that kind of light tonight, the weekend before the autumnal equinox. Something ancient tugs at my soul to contain light from the darkness and then release it back into the night.

All this from a song that the Mills Brothers recorded, 60 some years ago, when America's own light beamed strong.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

memorial marigolds

When I was growing up in Elgin, Illinois and going to the First United Methodist Church every Sunday, I remember that, on Mother's Day, I always brought home a single marigold in a yellow pot to my mom. Marigolds remind me of her and their sunny blossom-faces recall the good times we had in Illinois.

So, on this day of remembrance, I decided to go buy some marigolds and sunflower seeds and plants them for her memory and for the memories of all those we lost on 9/11/01. I cannot spend too much time in grieving, though, and, so far, have shed my tears during yesterday's Flight 93 service, listened to music today and plan to go to a local mall that is paying tribute to our local first-responders and raising money to support UMC's trauma center. I went to that center for my ankle; Mark used it when he crashed on his bicycle and Aron has used it twice for an injury and health emergency. So helping those who have helped us to help others also seems like a positive way to link hands on this day.

If I lived closer to Phoenix, I would go to a Dbacks game and celebrate America's favorite pasttime. I would smile at the children born after 9/11/01 and savor the remnants of childhood innocence on their faces. I would gaze at the Stars and Stripes and think about all the wars in the world still going on, all the men and women from different nations who risk their lives for political causes they believe in. I would ponder my own beliefs about God and country.

Just for today, I want to keep my actions simple and grounded in the earth. Tapping the black soil about the fragile roots of new plants, I recall the planting times with my Grandparents Dice and their farm on Randall Road. If there is a home of my soul, it is there--now a fallow five acre parcel with overgrown bushes, grass and trees. But within that dark forest, the bulbs my grandmother guided me to plant may still be wrapping up their leaves for the coming autumn and bloom again in the spring.

Good memories to tend lovingly on this day.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Changing Hearts and Minds Mural Dedication

Last week, after moving my father-in-law into his new apartment, we attending a mural unveiling. I mentioned this in an earlier post. It was hosted by Hendrick Acres Neighborhood Association and CODAC Behavioral Health Services. The mural was jointly created by local artist David Tineo, CODAC and the residents of the neighborhood to "provide insight into the experience of overcoming stigma and tragedy through strong community connections" (quote from the promotional flier for the event). The project was sponsored by, Tucson Pima Arts Council/Kresge Arts in Tucson, Community Partnership of Southern Arizona, The Haven, Pima Prevention Partnership and Sarnoff Artist Materials.

I share this with you because the spirit of the event lifted us up from our daily life challenge and took us to a place of imagination and healing. I know that it takes hard work for neighborhoods to extend their hospitality to social services that serve clients with life stories of pain and hardship. Too often, the "not in my backyard" mentality shuts us off from each other and we live in enclaves of self absorption. But here is a neighborhood that embraced the opportunity to learn and grow from others and celebrate the learning. So, when you drive on Mountain, between Grant and Fort Lowell, look to the corner of Adelaide and Mountain and pull in to the parking lot of the Church; park and enjoy the mural and maybe even think about how compassion and creativity can build community.

My husband took the photo.

Friday, September 2, 2011


I get a daily posting from an service that shares a word for the day. Today's word was "darkle": to grow dark and gloomy. I like that word. When it's spoken, it obviously rhymes with the word "sparkle" and means the opposite. I, personally, have a tendency to darkle more than sparkle, but I want to change that---just for today. I can think of a couple of ways to sparkle:

1. laugh more
2. buy some sparkle glue from a craft store and make a pretty picture that shines

What will you do today to sparkle and not darkle?