Thursday, April 20, 2006

A trio of typecasts... Not

I am waiting for someone to join me at Fred Meyer (our local version of a superstore) when a white Dodge Caravan, late model, drives down the parking lot aisle searching for a spot. The driver is probably 40ish, Caucasian, blond, and has all the markings of a "soccer mom" (stickers on her review mirrors to boot) except this: As she drives by me, through closed windows comes the roar of Hindi film music played at what has to be a deafening volume.

A week later, again in a parking lot, but now in the trendy California community of Hermosa Beach, a late model half-ton pickup goes by us driven by a young man in his early to mid 20s, all the markings of a surfer but.... coming from his stereo, loud bagpipe music. I wait, expecting it to be a sample but no.

Finally, dinner at our favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant, where of course they usually play Chinese music. Except last night. When they had on the B-52s.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Eulogy of Sorts

He’s got one of those fork-tipped weed diggers
Sitting in the afternoon sun out front
Vin Scully calling pitches on the grainy AM radio
“Damn crabgrass, gets into everything” he’d swear
As I sat down on the lawn to watch him fight
The endless battle with our weeds.

It was nice sitting there with him outside, I’d dig a bit too.
“Talk his ear off” Mom’d say
I don’t know what I said…
Only that he listened patiently
Meantime effortlessly solving much bigger problems of his own
Or at least, it seemed that way as he climbed his corporate ladder
Securing his family’s future then spending the weekend
Acting as if nothing was more important than yardwork, baseball, and whether I should pierce my ears.

I’ve wondered over the years, who taught him
To nurture things, people so carefully?
The mom who left when he was five?
The dad whose death in a fire called him home from the war?
Grammy, whose chickens he fed and whose wood stove he stoked?
Something he learned in those early Quaker meetings,
Or maybe from the wife he treasured for 56 years.
I guess I should have asked him but I imagine his answer easily now
“It’s just the right way to do things” he’d say
As if everyone should know it.

But there was something more to it about Dad
The way you couldn’t help talking to him
And how much it would help when you did.
Later on he’d tell people how politely I listened to his advice,
Then went right ahead and did whatever I chose.
He wasn’t shy with his opinions, and indeed, I didn’t always agree on his approach
But I got to talk it out, whether I was ten complaining about a dodge ball game
Or forty struggling with a manager I didn’t trust
Whether you were a family member, a mentee,
Or just someone who sat down next to him on a plane
He’d gift you with his genuine interest, his full attention, a couple of well placed questions…
Pretty soon you’d be feeling like
You were getting at the root of things.

Dad would say you can’t just pull out crabgrass easy like a dandelion
Because it sends all those runners underground.
It takes an especially patient gardener to do that much digging
Year after year,
A gardener who cultivates the best from those he planted,
And those who passed through.
I expect I’ll go on talking to him now
Hell, no one knows me better
(Although he’ll have an even harder time getting a word in edgewise)
Its easy enough to find that spot in the sun with him still
And I expect I’ll go on gardening in his stead
He is well rooted in me now.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Ok I lied, this was too apt not to want to post it here.

By Jean Nordhaus

Would it surprise you to learn
that years beyond your longest winter
you still get letters from your bank, your old
philanthropies, cold flakes drifting
through the mail-slot with your name?
Though it's been a long time since your face
interrupted the light in my door-frame,
and the last tremblings of your voice
have drained from my telephone wire,
from the lists of the likely, your name
is not missing. It circles in the shadow-world
of the machines, a wind-blown ghost. For generosity
will be exalted, and good credit
outlasts death. Caribbean cruises, recipes,
low-interest loans. For you who asked
so much of life, who lived acutely
even in duress, the brimming world
awaits your signature. Cancer and heart disease
are still counting on you for a cure.
B'nai Brith numbers you among the blessed.
They miss you. They want you back.

Monday, April 03, 2006

On hiatus

I'm having some rather debilitating migraine/muscle issues which seem partly related to computer work. I'm also feeling more than a bit stressed by the estate stuff and events of the last couple of months, which are time consuming and leave me tired, either tired happy or tired sad and perplexed, but tired.

I'm working on the eulogy I need to deliver on Saturday, and otherwise, I think my writing time is pretty limited for a while. I don't want to leave you hanging, so its probably at least another month before you should expect to find something new here. I do appreciate everyone's support over the last few months.

Please take care. My best regards,

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