Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Solstice Significance

There is a story about a June family gathering to celebrate my father’s birthday. Someone remarked that the date, June 21, was the longest day of the year. 

My paternal grandmother groaned, “Believe me. I know. It was the longest day of my life.” 


Charles Thacker McClure was born June 21, 1915 – 102 years ago. The only photo of him on my computer is when he was a baby on his mother’s lap. 

I have a million images of him in my mind and memory. He was good looking and smart and funny. [All my friends in my college residence would magically appear whenever he happened to visit.] 

However, his humor, often sarcastic, left emotional scars on my psyche and especially, on my brother’s. 

Writing my new book, Family Time, I came to understand where that sarcasm came from. And to forgive it. He filed for divorce from my mother, Roberta Anne Walker McClure (Bobbie) the same year I filed for my divorce. Not a good year. It took me a long time to forgive that. But I did. And that forgiveness enriched both our lives. Forgiveness works that way. 

So. For better and for worse, here’s to you, Dad. Happy Birthday.

Friday, June 16, 2017

June 16, 2017

Today would have been my mother’s 100th birthday. She was born June 16, 1917 in Pittsburgh, PA just before the Summer Solstice. She died in Aurora, CO, Dec. 17, 1995 -- about 22 ½ years ago -- just before the Winter Solstice. 

All of the seasons in-between she was her own unique being – giving, loving, laughing, crying. Doing great things. Doing stupid things. Occasionally doing cruel things. Often doing kind things. She was my mom. I have some photos of her.




                   Here she is on her father's knee surrounded by her mom, her older brother Bill, and little sister, Lou.



A few years later -- older and more glamorous.


And later, still glamorous, with children of her own:
Bill and me (Mim)

What a great and wonderful life. A great and wonderful mom.
Happy Birthday, Mom,
wherever you are.
Mim   

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Revising the Past

Last week there was an article in the New York Times (and other newspapers) about 300,000 year old human fossils found in Morocco. 

In my novel/fantasy memoir, Family Time, the protagonist recounts the orthodox version of our species’ evolution. According to her, humans developed in east Africa (Omo River region, Ethiopia) then migrated around the globe. Evidently she was wrong (I was wrong, I wrote it). Evidently our species emerged from its antecedents in many African sites. 

I can understand differing views of the future. After all, who truly knows? But it boggles my mind a bit when we change our shared understanding of our own origins. And we are doing it all the time. 

Every year it seems, we are surprised to discover that one ancient tribe created great art and another practiced some form of religion and yet another evidently had a sophisticated language. 

Why are we surprised? We are all the same species, floating along in the continuum of time. We may know different things now – maybe even more things -- but we are definitely not getting smarter. 

Many religions – past and present – advocate honoring our ancestors. I concur. Even better, let’s keep digging. I’m willing to bet they have a lot to teach us.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

SLAMMED BY JOY

There are so many things that give me quiet joy:
           My garden in springtime, 
           The way my cat Herbie comes running to greet me when I come home, 
           Sunlight through the glass stuff on my windowsills and the rainbows that hanging prisms make dance in my rooms.
But every once in a great while, I get slammed by joy. 
It happened often between May 20 and May 30 when my grandson, Harlan, and his parents visited. They didn’t stay with me the whole time but when they were here, a lot of wonderful things happened. 
    My daughter-in-law laughed at my jokes and complimented my cooking and we spontaneously gave each other half hugs every once in a while. My feelings toward her transformed from respect and admiration to genuine fondness (while retaining respect and admiration).
    My son, without a sign of protest, helped me fix the overly complicated dish I had decided to serve and was authentically friendly and supportive the entire visit.
    Harlan and Herbie enjoyed each other -- Herbie tolerating the undisciplined love of a 19-month old boy and Harlan delighting in (and petting) the 16.75-year-old cat. And Harlan and I played with a toy truck, pushing it toward each other in a game we spontaneously created.
     And my brother spent some significant time with me and then joined in the Denver family celebration of my grand niece’s 21st birthday (the first time all of us had been together for a decade or two).
     And a hundred other little moments that, cumulatively, were seismic emotional treasures. Perhaps none more so than little Harlan—the ultimate joy slammer.

Monday, May 1, 2017

What Price Technology?

I just saw a stunning, original play performed with consummate artistry. It was the last performance of “The Blue Kitchen” written by Eric Prince and brought to life by Wendy Ishii (and Barbara Clark).
    It was far too easy to get a great seat in the middle of the second row. And there were far too many empty seats in the Bas Bleu Theater in north Fort Collins.
    Why?
    Talking to Wendy after the performance, she attributed the sparse attendance to sparse (nearly non-existent) newspaper coverage. Newspapers are in jeopardy because people rely on their computers – email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. – instead of reading off-screen.
    What a shame. If our understanding of our world must be shrink-wrapped into sound-bites and 140-word messages, the scope of our lives and understanding are correspondingly diminished.
    Amazingly, the Bas Bleu Theater is celebrating its 25th anniversary. . . in spite of an information vacuum.
    What can I do if I wish to help Bas Bleu thrive for another 25 years? Well, I can continue to subscribe to my local paper (delivered to my front door).
    And I can use technology – post a blog and share it on Facebook.
    And tell my friends (and an occasional stranger) that there is an amazing pocket of real culture in our area which deserves our support.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Squirrely

I distinctly remember writing a post called something like "The Squirrels Always Win."  I thought I 'published' and scheduled it, but it has disappeared. As if it never existed.

It was about my long and monumental efforts to feed the little birds -- finches, chickadees and an occasional goldfinch -- that I try to entice and nourish in the area of my 'patio' (it's just a slab of concrete under my pergola).

I have now purchased three 'squirrel-proof' bird-feeders all of which did not even slow the little rodents down.



There was always a vine or post or branch from which the critters could swing over and munch.
So I moved the latest far from any vine or post or branch.

For days, the level of bird seed remained constant . . . but then . . . catastrophe


Somehow, swinging on the wire for the little dragonfly lights I'd hung around the edges of the pergola, they broke the wire, now dangling, useless next to the feeder.

Then they broke the feeder -- making its bounty unavailable to both birds and squirrels.

I have another new feeder. The dragonfly wire has been fixed. We'll see how long they survive.

After all, the beasts ate the post I wrote and published last week.

Beware!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The WAY back

Lost in cyberspace, I have, until about 9 p.m. yesterday, been unable to post anything on my blog. That evening, I invited the Christensen family over for dinner and Way Christensen offered to see if he could solve my internet mystery. He did! I'm back!

On March 23, I attended an event that moved me deeply. I wrote about my reactions but was unable to share them until now. Many, many thanks to Way for helping me come back.

We did not belong 

A friend and I went to a community meeting on immigration. We both thought we would learn how to counter the anti-immigrant policy and sentiment that threatened. It took us a while to understand that the meeting was not for well-meaning Anglo-Saxons but for the Hispanics in our community. 

It was organized by the local chapter of LuLac (League of United Latin American Citizens). The church pews were primarily populated by people who looked Hispanic – families, elders, young. The people who spoke into microphones spoke mostly Spanish . . . until they realized that there was a scattering of non-Spanish speaking people attending -- me among them. 

 The key speakers were immigration lawyers sharing valuable information on how to respond to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). What Hispanic rights were. What precautions they could take against having their families torn apart. What resources existed to help them. All essential stuff. 

From time to time, a family would be called to the rear of the room, presumably for private counseling. Looking around, I saw only people I would like to know better -- people who were living in fear in my own smallish town. In my own country. 

Although I was grateful for the sporadic English translations and occasional bilingual slides on the screen, I was more grateful to experience what it was like to be an obvious minority listening to a language that was not what I had learned as a child. [I had forgotten how nice it was to hear another language.] 

And I was grateful to be among those who, in spite of the possibility of detection/ deportation, had enough courage to assemble and learn. My friend and I did not belong at the meeting. It was an honor and privilege to be there.