What you wish for.

December 2, 2017 § 4 Comments

Be careful what you wish for is the familiar saying.

It is a pessimist’s warning, delivered with a frown.

Getting what you wish for is sure to disappoint!

Or bite you on the butt.

You’re better off with the known, the as-is, the just-okay.

But that doesn’t stop us from wishing for the long shot, the impossible, the rainbow. It is why we buy a lottery ticket.

We spend hours imagining what isn’t, and often what can never be.

But why?

Perhaps we are testing the boundary between the possible and the impossible. Maybe that line is chalk, and maybe it can be scuffed out with the sole of a sneaker, a new one drawn in. Who knows?

« Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Respect for the small.

November 4, 2017 § 2 Comments

rubber bandsA single paper clip.

A sheet of paper, one side clean.

The heel of a loaf of bread.

A handful of rubber bands.

What are they worth?

They’re not worth the trouble of storing them until needed.

Not worth the effort or ingenuity required to put them to use right now.

So, without thought, we default to the easiest solution. We toss them in the trash.

This cavalier treatment of the small-but-useful object is not a constant when it comes to human behavior, but it has held steady for quite a while in this period of prolonged bounty.

Here is an adage that expressed our relationship with small but useful objects during the Great Depression:

Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

If there were a saying that summed up our treatment of the objects in our lives today, it would surely end with, “throw it out.” « Read the rest of this entry »

Age before beauty.

October 21, 2017 § 9 Comments

My husband, Ray, says there are no ugly young people, an exaggeration, but not a whopping big one.

Consider what the young have going for them. Smooth skin, and if it is tan, their skin has not yet begun to pay the price for that glow. Wide eyes, the lids fully open. Straight backs. Limber joints. The young body exhibits an appealing ease.

But old is beautiful too.

What I write next is mostly for women, the sex afflicted with the expectation of beauty.

This post will come as no surprise, but sometimes we only question the things we take for granted when we say them out loud or state them in print.

Physical attractiveness is not an absolute requirement for guys. Funny is just as good. Athleticism or smarts; those work too.

And for those with young-buck good looks, with age these attributes are seamlessly replaced by a growth in stature and authority, a good job.

I don’t know whether this is because women are more broad-minded than men, more willing to judge worth based on a range of positive qualities, or because men, as members of the dominant sex, have used their power to write the terms of their own attractiveness.

« Read the rest of this entry »

John Dillinger’s Dick.

October 9, 2017 § 1 Comment

*

Some seventy years ago

Ray was a Catholic kid at Holy Redeemer,

a DC school with nuns in black and white,

girls who flashed bare chapped knees

below navy blue pleats,

and boys who, in defiance

of their mandatory neckties,

were as wondering and

irreverent as any.

*

In addition to the rote round of

genuflection, catechism,

burnt offerings,

the squeal of chalk on board,

was the annual field trip.

Even then DC was rich

with museums.

*

But the Holy Redeemers went to just one.

Not the Smithsonian,

not The National Gallery,

not the Renwick.

No, the band of Catholics single-filed

onto the street car

(the tracks ran right by the school)

and rode to

The Medical Museum,

to ogle its two-headed baby,

its anatomical anomalies in murky jars.

But every year the same rumor

was passed around,

boy to boy,

elbow to ribs.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Five things I know, and how I know them.

September 27, 2017 § 7 Comments

1. The old are like Russian nesting dolls.

All the earlier selves are hidden inside the one you see, still there, preserved.

But unlike those wooden dolls, each of the selves hidden inside that old body is different.

One has skinned knees.

A second is reading a Nancy Drew book.

A third wears a prom corsage.

Another holds a baby in her arms.

I wish I’d known that when I was a kid seeing my grandparents as only that, grandparents. Inside each of them was a kid as young as I was, and on the outside, a kid as old as the one I would become.

I know about these hidden selves because, much to my surprise, I am old. And young. And everything in between. I am every one of those dolls down to the tiny one at the very center.

2. The inanimate is just the animate holding still.

Existence is an addition problem. It is the sum of everything.

Each rock, feather, man-made object, holds the life force.

It moves like a cloud shadow across the landscape but we are too distracted, too human-centric to notice.

We, the kinetic, the perpetually in motion, are not attuned to it, but if we become aware, the inanimate befriends and anchors us, it puts our insignificance into perspective. Feel that force and we understand that we are just one more number in that long, long addition problem.

I know, because I feel the life in the rock I rest against, and in the favorite sweater I wear year after year. Still my whirring self, and the company of all that is surrounds me.  « Read the rest of this entry »

Oh, dog!

September 13, 2017 § Leave a comment

 

Oh, dog!

You whose name is God,

spelled backwards.

Which is fitting.

God, the great intangible.

Dog, who with nail-click,

familiar stink and scrubby fur

is tangible.

Times two.

***

God is omnipresent

while you, oh dog,

are simply present.

You live in this

roll in the grass.

This plate-lick.

This scratch between the ears.

May we learn

from your example.

***

Oh, dog!

You are not God,

but you exhibit his patience

with us, the impatient,

imperfect, improbable

Humankind.

***

Thank God, we pray.

But thank dog, we live.

Over 16.

August 12, 2017 § 4 Comments

Young, we set out like those brash southern boys so eager to join the fray they were afraid the war would end before they saw action, whupped Yankee butt.

Some, too young for the fight, chalked the number 16 on the sole of a boot so that when asked if they were over 16, they could swear they were without lying.

Surrounded by friends, they paraded out of hometowns.

Mothers and sweethearts waved and blotted their eyes with cloth handkerchiefs.

Some of those aspiring soldiers carried rifles, some knives, and some a canvas sack home-packed, as if the boys were picnicking, not going to war.

« Read the rest of this entry »