Yes, but..

Somewhere, there’s a photo of me in silhouette standing on the very last dozen inches of one of the peaks of the Presidential Range, only good wishes and one misstep away from kissing one of those bad boys all around me for as far as the eye could see.

I loved showing the Dad-snapped photo around when I was young, “Look here, am I intrepid or what?” (I certainly hadn’t planned to be, lol, but facts is facts!)

Later, it became a bittersweet photo/memory, as did the days of my being dragged out to high seas in a tiny rowboat with him, to do some fishing away from land entirely.

My mother, even prior to their divorce, had always worried during those times when I was finally living life, that they were perfect opportunities for himself to dispatch-via-tragic-accident someone he’d considered the middle-man between them.

It was nearly impossible to defend him — he had done horrendous things — but I wanted to say (and would’ve, could I have found the unhurtful, unthreatening way to say it), “Sometimes, he has been a father.” I think she (and others) attributed my safe return solely to her frantic prayers being answered in the Affirmative.

But none of them saw his face on that mountain day, or those sea days, or on farm or extended family days. These were the only things he could give me, sometimes delivered with a gasp of his own — both of us overwhelmed by peace and health and beauty for a while. Together. On the precipice of family.


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I has them.

It would’ve gone alright with the rest as a middle name for real: Relax Qualm McGillicuddy, though it works better as a statement — a comma after Relax would’ve been perfect.

I had qualms about everything. If I didn’t, I imported them. I was my mother’s daughter, which is to say not half Irish just yet, which is to say French Canadian. My neighborhoods in a historic seaport were incredibly diverse, so I was surrounded by Italian qualms, many French Canadian ones, and the rarer Irish qualm (who had qualms about having qualms but had them anyway, only slightly moreso than did the Greeks).

The problem was, we were mostly of the Catholic working class persuasion, and that was rife with qualms. The only Jewish girl I knew didn’t seem to suffer them. She was joyful, animated, sure of herself. I desperately wanted to be Jewish for a while, back when I didn’t realize one could be Jewish and yet not religiously so.

I continue qualmward. Not because it’s mandatory for the conscience — that’s only how it got a foothold. I need qualms, the awkward 50-lb butterflies of doubt, to warn me off of what I think I want to go for — or at least make me think longer, consider more.

Or, angelqualms.


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Noon would be good..

This house has been known for its hospitality. It’s also been known for shades or blinds down or curtains closed for way past the morning hour. Mornings will not exist in my Heaven. (It’ll be all-morning all the time in the other place, though, so I try to behave.)

Over the years, I’ve been hospitable to the point of foolish, even if based on hospitality houses of sweet holy note, like Catholic Worker houses — only on a smaller and not holy scale, and if still based somewhat in works of mercy.  It was also based on my mother’s example in the world (that only took from her, which didn’t stop her from giving). It might be easier to say who hasn’t lived here a spell, but it’s very easy to say the give-and-take here in my life has been fairly mutual.

We’ve had someone living in with us for many decades, really, but as an example of recent years and not counting pets, in 2014, there were 9 of us living in this old woman’s shoe. In 2015, we had dramatically dropped to 8, which was true of 2016 as well, though one face had been traded out for another. For most of 2017, we’ve been 7. And a lot of visiting from a significant other, so we could call it 7.5.

I always plan to donate to Casa Juan Diego every Christmas. The hospitality there is undeniably holy. But so is it out on the other coast, in a house of consecrated contemplatives — as is the never-failing other grandpa’s transportation of two little ones to far-away locations to see Dad who has no wheels, yet. Gasoline isn’t free, least of all in a mid-sized Chevy pickup which shows up religiously to save the psyches of many people every week.

I’m all stretched out on physical hospitality, here, but I do what I can for that which is extended by others.  To give the first hour’s pay of the work week, having thought of the person(s) and prayed for their intentions in that hour, is probably the best I can do these days.

Sometimes I’ve thought we’re not an overly hospitable region, but then how to explain the many refugees that have come from Rwanda and Indonesia especially, who are doing alright, here, now that we’re not shocked by anyone who isn’t white Irish or French? They bring their loved ones here as soon as they can. We must be thinking/saying/giving/doing something right. 🙂

The Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head, and we think we cannot help that 2000 years later, but He purposely identified with the poor, called Himself one with them (just as we are to consider our neighbors and us as one), that we might always have an unlimited option.


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Lilacs to follow

Birds like squeaking doors
opening the April morning
from their maples and firs,
sweeping night off porches
with busy wings to and fro
‘midst pleased plans to dine
and maybe fall in love today.
Gray squirrels find all these
peepers, whistlers, clickers
tolerable enough neighbors,
but not so not that red one!
Our Yosemite Sam/antha is
rootin’ tootin’ determined
that we are all interlopers..
(‘though not even s/he can
chase off those pesky jets).
O, to own the waking world
— and to disown its gravity!


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Life in the low tide lane

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I cried (with joy) when we first arrived and heard the waves further up, and saw the … the everything! We rather blindly criss-crossed over rocks and hurriedly set our chairs down into what is often underwater — we just couldn’t get close enough, perhaps, ‘though we said, “To get out of the wind.” Too long, this winter. Much too long.

He said, “Two old people, carrying their chairs into the rocks.” I wanted to disagree as I usually do. “Old” is a 3-letter naughty word. It was pretty much accurate, though; it was too long a winter. Mostly, though, I hadn’t worn my rock-scramblers, but some Clark’s clogs. Just then, a young ‘gull took up residence, and I forgot about a lot of things, having remembered their (animal!) cookies and small pretzels in my bag.

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Has come to this house today

Something tells me that you just might believe there are nearly 700 posts in my Drafts folder. I’m sure WP hates me as much as does the cellar that has had to hold 700 other items for years, though not all are mine nor even ours. Nothing hates me/us/them more than does the attic — there’s mice there in the winter, and big black nosy hornets in the other, shorter season and thus, it is visited only by those who’ve seen two tours in Iraq — but the point is, I have no idea what I’ve published or not.

Did I tell you about the geese of apple crisp time, and about the geese of tulip time? How one runs to the window or rips open the door to see and hear them better? It’s such an ordinary occurrence, this honking heard twice a year from a mile away that is even more of a draw than the annual and extraordinary hearing-must-see precision jet flying show.

I stood under them the other night as they flew over, a squadron of five who had split from the other waves of geese. They went dead silent as they approached me. As soon as they were *safe* again, the one on the back left of the vee cranked up the direction/encouragement again. Something rises, then, in those below.  What is it?

As I entered work last evening, I watched a brand new (to me) robin running across the snow, trying to get me to follow it — away from its nearby nesting site.  There would be nothing in the nest just yet, but there will be.  Soon.  They don’t know, but I’ve seen all their babies from spots inside the building. I was only heading for the front door, something that couldn’t be avoided, which I couldn’t tell her or him.  I know it’s better for them and theirs that they remain afraid of all near-nest creatures, but it hurts.  Who screwed up life so much that even robins pay the price of caution at the expense of not enough attention to true predators, like the hawks who are by now very sick of field mice?

It’s cold and gray, today, and I’ve seen some flakes fall. But if I see a robin, it’s Spring. Period. Lilacs will be icing on that cake. Ordinary, yet not at all: Every living creature we see today was Planned, and some will herald our re-greening, life-giving season. Be they people or birds, marvel as much as you dare!


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I must.

If while being warmed
you’d like to feel swarmed,
toss one slice of bread near the blanket;
they will come if you toss it–
soon swarmed, I will posit:
from each other, 12 ‘gulls will yank it.

Do you thrill to large wings
so near eyes — all head things —
while oiled neighbors move off by 10 paces?
Close your eyes, with arms high,
let another piece fly–
the beach will gain back many spaces.


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