November 4, 2017 § 2 Comments
A 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 »
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.
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.
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
the squeal of chalk on board,
was the annual field trip.
Even then DC was rich
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.
September 27, 2017 § 7 Comments
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 »
September 13, 2017 § Leave a comment
You whose name is God,
Which is fitting.
God, the great intangible.
Dog, who with nail-click,
familiar stink and scrubby fur
God is omnipresent
while you, oh dog,
are simply present.
You live in this
roll in the grass.
This scratch between the ears.
May we learn
from your example.
You are not God,
but you exhibit his patience
with us, the impatient,
Thank God, we pray.
But thank dog, we live.
July 16, 2017 § 2 Comments
Buskers, those street musicians wearing tragic hats and faded jeans, are the filter feeders of the music world, gleaning pocket change and an equivalent amount of attention from a busy, going-somewhere audience.
The signals that let listeners know, “Hey, this is a big act! These guys are hot!” are absent.
No band bus.
It’s a hunger that will never be filled.