Monthly Archives: December 2017

Rings of Saturn: Daily Post, the Final Day of 2017

Rings of Saturn

I had taken off my wedding ring years before. How typical of me that I would finally put it on again after he died. I don’t know why I do these things. Perhaps it was easier to be married to a dead man, or perhaps I felt he had finally atoned for his bad behavior, but suddenly that symbol had more significance than it had come to have in life. That sainthood of departure? I’d seen it happen again and again, but I had never been one to run with the pack and so it surprised me so much when I looked down one day and saw his ring on my finger again that I took it off and it has resided in my jewelry box ever since—that hinged red leather lips-shaped jewelry box that opens in a kiss to reveal a  little slit-compartment for rings. A next-door-neighbor of my childhood  had brought it as a hostess gift when she came to Mexico to visit me during that long year after his death when everyone came out of the woodwork to come visit.

Draw a ring around the old. Ring in the new in multiples. Duplication has become such a science—the craftsman thrown out of the ring. With the new three-dimensional copier, what cannot be duplicated, if plastic is your creation material of choice? A plastic gun—complete down to the bullet in its chamber. A perfect functioning model of anything with moving parts. Can each grain of gunpowder be duplicated? One ringie dingie, two ringie dingies. Floating away on the surface of the lake of forget. Is that giving up? Ringing the final buzzer? Burning the evidence in a ring of fire? Burning bridges? A phone rings and rings in the distance. It has that ring of authenticity, but that does not mean it is real.

Ring of thieves. One by one, the days steal my life away. Time is that one thing no one has control over—even Einstein or Hawking, who perhaps understood it more than anyone. Estee Lauder, Timex, Time Incorporated—all profit by time but none have conquered it. We are all in the ring with it whether we know it or not. Others may suffer the black eyes or sound the buzzer, but we are all really fighting the same fight. The smoothest face still wrinkles and the most beautiful voice cracks with age or disappears. Buzzers finally go silent and the arms holding up the signs go saggy. Ring around the rosie. Ring around the rosie. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

 

This is a rewite of an essay originally written three years ago. The prompt today was finally.

Zeroing in: Sunday Trees, Dec 31, 2017

Click on any photo to enlarge all.

The canopy of this huge and very old tree covers the entire courtyard at the Lake Chapala Society, providing shade for the various gatherings that are held there. Last Sunday during Open Circle, when it was invaded by a flock of very noisy birds that appeared to be large parakeets or small parrots, I happened to look directly up and was captivated by this lovely bromeliad garden that had implanted itself on the branches.  The birds soon left. I think the bromeliads are permanent residents.

For Becca’s Sunday Trees prompt.

Bougainvillea: December 31, 2017

The last day of the year, last flower of the year. This is my very favorite color of bougainvillea. Pasiano had just watered and by chance I caught it at the right moment.

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For Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge.

Almost Holy

My sister Patti and I, all dressed up for church and told to smile, no doubt! Photo by sister Betty 

 

Almost Holy

I always wanted a set of those panties that had a day of the week embroidered on each one, but I grew up in an era when kids didn’t ask for things.  I know my mom would have bought them for me if she’d known, or my grandma would have ceased her endless activity of sewing sequins on felt butterflies or crocheting the edges of pillow shams long enough to embroider the days of the week onto the baggy white nylon panties jumbled into my underwear drawer. I never asked, though.  Never told.

So it was that on Sunday I’d arise and put on the same old underpants, cotton dress with ruffle, white socks, patent leather shoes. I’d take a little purse no bigger than the makeup case in the suitcase-sized purse I now carry. Into it I’d drop a quarter my dad had given me for the collection, a hanky and the lemon drop my mother always put inside just in case of a cough. I never coughed, but always ate the lemon drop, sucking on it during Sunday School and sometimes asking for another from the larger supply in her purse during church.

Why my mom never sang in the choir I don’t know.  She had a fine true voice.  Both of my older sisters did and so did I, once I was in high school.  I remember when I was little watching the choir in their fine robes that looked like they were graduating every Sunday.  They sat facing us, in three rows to the preacher’s left, as though checking up on us to make sure we didn’t misbehave or yawn or chew gum.  In addition to lemon drops, my mother always carried Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum in her purse.  Sometimes the gum was a bit red  from the rouge she always had on her fingertips on days she applied makeup. It seemed to me like the rouge flavored the gum a bit.  It tasted of clove and flowers.

“Just hold it in your mouth,” my mother instructed, my sister and me; and if we chewed, she would take it away from us. “Just chew it enough to make it soft and then hold it in your mouth.”  This was an almost impossible challenge for a child and actually even for a teenager.  By then, we’d learned to crack the gum and to blow bubbles even when it wasn’t bubble gum.  That fine pop and final sigh of air as the bubble broke–so satisfying. The threat and memory of everything we could be doing with that gum resided in each small wad of it held in our cheeks as we sat lined up like finely dressed chipmunks listening to the minister drone on.

Hymns were like the commercial breaks on television–a chance to move around a bit and look at something other than the preacher–to ponder the curious lyrics such as, “Lettuce gather at the river,” “Bringing in the sheets” and “Let me to his bosom fly.”  (Just what was a bosom fly and what had lettuce and collecting sheets from the clothesline to do with religion? Once again, we didn’t ask.)

Then we’d sit down again for the Apostle’s Creed or a prayer or benediction or the interminable expanse of the sermon–half an hour with no break.  I’d listen to the drone of the flies buzzing in circles at the window, or the sound of cars passing in the summer, when the front and back doors were left open to encourage  breeze where no breeze existed.

Now and then a curious dog would wander in and be ushered out by the man who stood at the door to hand out church programs.  Everyone would hear the scramble of dog toenails on the wooden aisle and turn to watch and laugh.  Even the minister would laugh and say say something like, “All of God’s creatures seek to commune with him upon occasion.”  Then everyone would laugh softly again before he turned his attention back to telling us what was wrong with us and how to remedy it.

That afternoon, Lynnie Brost and I were going to play dress up and have a tea party under the cherry trees and bury a treasure there.  We’d already assembled it: my mom’s old ruby necklace, a handful of her mom’s red plastic cancer badges shaped like little swords with a pin at the back to put on your collar to show you’d given to the campaign,  my crushed penny from the train track, her miniature woven basket from South America that her missionary sister had brought her, a tattered love comic purloined from her older sister. (We’d “read” it first–which at our age meant looking at the pictures.)

I fell asleep thinking of what else we could add to our cache, to be dug up again in ten years or for as long later as we could stand to put off exhuming it. I leaned against my mother as I slept, and if she noticed, she did nothing to awaken me.  She shook me a bit, gently, as the congregation stood after the sermon, singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” as the minister marched down the aisle, smiling and greeting parishioners and the choir followed him, as though they were being let out early for good behavior.  At the door, we greeted the preacher again, standing in line to shake hands and be blessed, then ticked off his mental list of who had been among the faithful on this fine summer day when they could have been out mowing the grass or rolling in the piles of grass emptied from the clipping bag.

Then we drove the block home, for no one ever walked in a small town.  Well done rump roast for dinner, as we called the noon meal. Mashed potatoes, brown gravy, canned string beans, a salad with homemade Russian dressing and ice cream or jelly roll for dessert.  All afternoon to play. Another small town South Dakota Sunday of an endless progression strung out from birth to age eighteen, when I departed for college and the rest of my Agnostic life.

 

This is an essay from almost 5 years ago. Hopefully, you’ve either not been reading my blog for that long or you’ve forgotten it and it will read like new, as it did for me. I missed the boat when it came to religion, but it wasn’t for lack of experience. The prompt today is almost.

2017 Favorite Photo of the Year

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I absolutely love this photo of Ollie when he was runt of the litter.

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Now seven months old, he is the heaviest of the four siblings. Here he is just a few days ago, enjoying the remains of the Christmas turkey!!!

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For the Daily Post’s Favorite Photo of 2017 Challenge.

Adventures with Animals in my Careless Youth

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“No, no, no,” I said, “I can’t”
ride upon that elephant.
The creature lowered to one knee,
leg bent to make a step for me,
and seconds later, I was in air.
Was it courage or a dare?

Each  leg gripped on a massive shoulder,
balanced on that giant boulder
of a back, somewhat nonplussed
as his handler swore and  cussed
to not take down that massive tree
so long as he was bearing me!

Whereupon, once told “You can’t,”
this timber-working elephant
turned to descend the river bank.
I gave the rope a mighty yank.
(That was all I had to hold
as this leviathan grew bold,

intent on giving me a bath.)
His trainer ran to bar his path
and none to soon, in my opinion,
relieved this mammoth of his minion.
Soon after we had said adieu,
I faced adventures that were new.

It’s hard to see what I had there
around my neck, beneath my hair.
That snake wrapped loosely around me
hung writhing down below my knee.
I blew the pungi, hoping harm
would be abated by its charm.

What possessed me, I don’t know,
to agree to this viper show.
I wasn’t squeezed, I wasn’t bitten.
The snake was docile as a kitten.
I was a foolish girl back then.
What wild adventures way back when.

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I’m pretty sure this is a python around my neck. I don’t think I would have been foolish enough to drape myself in a cobra, still, his owner had a pungi, which is what snake charmers use, usually to “charm” vipers or cobras. (Actually, it is the motion of the instrument, not its sound that weaves the spell.) I had on a top that was perfect camouflage  for the reptile. Both of these photos were taken in Sri Lanka in 1973.