Friday, March 7, 2014

The simplicity of childhood - NOT!!

I occasionally see an advertisement (such as a recent one for Weight Watchers) or a post on social media that expresses the idea that childhood is a "simpler" time, that children are carefree and joyous.  Children are not in control of their own world, big people control it; children lack the skills and the resources to do many things that they wish to do.  I'm not saying that children are never carefree or joyous, but even the best loved, well cared for child experiences enormous amounts of frustration and anxiety. I was reminded of this truth by the Facebook post of a friend - a young mother with three children, the youngest of whom, Story, is about three years old. Here's what she posted about Story today:
Reasons Story has cried today include but are not limited to:She ran out of chocolate soy milk; Seth let her play with a salamander and let it go; Seth found her another salamander and she couldn't bring it inside; The salamander didn't wait on her on a rock while she went potty; She was cold; She couldn't find her Lotso Bear; The cat wouldn't let her choke it;  She ate one hot dog and the other one wasn't magically cooked before she got done; She ate the other hot dog and it was the last hot dog; She cried so hard for another hot dog she remembered she wanted chocolate soy milk; She cried so hard for soy milk she peed herself; She cried because her pants were wet.
Not all children react so emotionally to the world, but all children experience fear, worry, anxiety and frustration on occasion. It has become common place to use children's fears - whether of the monster under the bed or in the closet - as the basis for humor, but to the child those fears are very real and sometimes immobilizing. 

Sometimes those fears are of something quite real, if ultimately unlikely.  I spent most of my childhood fearful and worried about nuclear war. I lay awake each night for long periods of time listening to every plane that flew over (and since we lived under the approach to San Francisco International Airport there were a LOT of planes) wondering if each one was the one that would drop the bombs.  Every time I went to the public library I gathered pamphlets about how to make fallout shelters.  I would devote hours to trying to figure out how to build a shelter in our garage.  I did not know then that all such advice for shelters was absurd and nonsensical. I took it seriously and made many careful plans about how my family might be saved from obliteration. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ups and Downs of Everyday Life

It seems to me these days, as my mind is no longer able to handle all the things it should. 

Yesterday was a day that I forgot to test my blood sugar, ate breakfast way to late to keep that blood sugar balanced, forgot lunch, entirely forgot  my morning arthritis medicines so I could barely walk by mid-afternoon, couldn't seem to find time for a shower and stayed in my night clothes and robe until 3 PM. But on the other hand, I managed to sit down first thing in the morning and handle three student crises through a multitude of detailed e-mails, grade exams for two classes, update discussion for another, and check blogs of a fourth class, thus managing to cross off half the things on my work to-do list. 

By comparison today, I tested the blood sugar, got breakfast, took medications, dressed, did housework and laundry, put clothes away, dealt with dishes and animals, spent some time outside with the dogs (beautiful day by the way), but at 3:30 PM I still haven't checked my work college e-mail, or done even one thing from the other half of the work to-do-list.  I can't account for my time though I know that some of it has been spent at the computer following bunny trails from Facebook to other Internet locations, reading stories, watching videos. 

Time just seems to vanish, and there is always something essential that does not get done. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Valentine Wish

May you make peace
with all your past,
forgive yourself
let go the weight
and rise on wings
to dance in snow
and pipe your music
to the stars.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Nature's orchestra

At dawn freight train wind
hurtles rain in staccato bursts,

a cacophony assaulting the senses.

February 5, 2014

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Lying in the warm dark
the silver liquid sound,
rain on the roof, dripping
from the eaves sooths,
yet raises questions.
Will it turn to ice or snow?


Thursday, January 30, 2014

A January of Small Stones 30

Deep in the night, down the street
dogs bark frantically, a great crescendo
at the affront of two cats calmly strolling
beneath the street lamp.

January 30, 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A January of Small Stones 29

Steep driveway arching away from the road,
frosted with a inch of smooth, sparkling snow,
touched only by tiny cat prints,
a perfect single line up the center. 

January 29, 2014

A January of Small Stones 27 & 28

Two meditations on the cold

#1 physical

Hat, hood, scarf,
‘til nothing shows but eyes,
and still the cold is a knife
in the lungs,
I retreat indoors,
Wheezing and coughing,
Struggling to breathe.

#2 Mental

The cold is amber, crystal clear,
allowing the tiniest details to be seen,
while immobilizing my spirit.
My eyes records a hundred small stones,
but my hands stuck in amber cannot write.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A January of Small Stones 25

Flash of movement
in stark, still landscape
dry leaf scampers
over the snow
like a brown mouse
seeking shelter.

January 25, 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A January of Small Stones 23

In the snowy woods
unexpected robins flock
flashing rufous breasts,
rise, wheel and settle again.

January 23, 2014

A January of Small Stones 22

Ode to an Office Chair Now Deceased

Four sturdy ball-bearing wheels
to scoot quickly out of the way
or cozy up to the desk,
a smoothly twirling seat
from keyboard to desk to bookcase
and back over and over,
soft padding for the rump,
firm lumbar support,
and a back just right
for perching cats.
A few short years together

ended in an awkward crash.

January 22, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A January of Small Stones 21

chill eiderdown blanket
covers imperfections,
creates unity in white and black.

January 21, 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

Old Cats Learn New Habits

Locutus in her younger days
 When we moved on to this property seventeen and a half years ago we were greeted by a little orange cat who was about four months old. That's what we called her "Little Orange Cat" which was to distinguish her from her much larger father Oscar. Little Orange Cat had a putative home next door, but she liked our yard and porch much better. 

She liked our dog Missy and liked to come up and rub on Missy when the dog was in the yard. She also liked to talk to us - all the orange cats I've known have been pretty vocal - and she liked to be petted. But she did not like being picked up. 

By the time the cold winds of autumn had started up, we'd gotten to know enough about our neighbor to realize that she didn't spay or neuter her cats and that she was lackadaisical about anything other than food.  So we formally decided to formally adopt little orange cat and make her cat #11 of our household. 

She needed a real name, so John took the three letters LOC and looked for a name to fit it. Being a big Star Trek Next Generation fan, the name John chose was Locutus, which of course was a male character. But it stuck and she's been Locutus for seventeen years. 

Locutus was never a lap cat or a snuggler. She tolerated petting, but did not like being picked up or held, and never voluntarily got into anyone's lap. But she liked snuggling with our dogs and with other cats. 

Now she is the oldest cat of a household of 10, senior kitty who rules the roost with her grumpy vocalizations. No one dares nose her away from her bowl! 

Always very talkative, in recent months Locutus has begun extensive vocalizing at night. She's never actually waken me up, but every time I am awake for a while, I will hear her warbling in a discontented voice about something. In just the last few weeks I've started getting up in the dark, picking her up and snuggling into my recliner with her. The first time I did it, I really expected her to wiggle away immediately - she'd always done so in her younger days. But as an old lady she really enjoys an hour or more of snuggling. 

This morning after dogs and cats were fed, but it was still dark, Locutus and I had a very nice warm cozy nap together for an hour. Old cats can learn new habits!

Locutus, Sheldon and two other cats like the dark warmth 
of an old dog crate in a corner of the living room. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A January of Small Stones 19

dark crisp air
carries lilting melody
from a penny whistle
calling the "king of the faeries"
but only the dogs 
set dance in reply.

January 19, 2014