Category Archives: Friends

Great Kiskadee

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My friend Andy just published a wonderful shot of a Great Kiskadee that he captured in La Manzanilla, a town on the West Coast of Mexico.  It brought back memories of two different sightings I’ve had of one, both in the town where I live in Mexico, San Juan Cosala.  HERE is a link to my photos of my second sighting and below is a story I wrote about the first one I ever saw and the lady who inspired the story.

“Great Kiskadee”

I think every little girl has crushes on older girls.  Many years ago when I was living in Australia, the little girl who lived next door once said, “When I grow up I’m going to marry you!” When her sister, full of wisdom at age 8, explained that girls didn’t marry girls,  she said, “Oh.  Then when I grow up I’m going to marry my dog.”  It was the first time I was pretty sure that a little girl had a crush on me and it seemed to signal one of those switching-over times when we ourselves become what we have formerly observed.

Since then, a progression of little neighborhood girls have come to bake cookies or to sing along to my horrendous guitar playing or to do art projects.  Now that I’m in Mexico, they come to learn English.  It’s a treat for them to see my house and see what a foreign lady wears and eats, what her friends are like.  But I don’t think they have crushes on me.

That phenomenon of the crush is dependent  not only on the age of the one who bears the crush but also on the age and manner of its recipient.  As a little girl, I had crushes on three neighborhood girls.  One, the eldest, was independent, tomboyish, and friendly to me.  She grew up, married a rancher and moved away. The second was pretty, a talented piano player who lived with her maiden aunt.  She married a bully and grew silent and reclusive.  The third was our neighbor Patty Peck, my sister Patti’s best friend.  She, too, was a talented musician as well as a straight A student.

She was an only child, and I admired the attention her parents seemed to extend to her and to me, too, when once I stayed with them for a few days when my parents left town.  In her home there was more care, more rules.  I felt fragile, as though I might break.  Every time I left the house, I needed to tell them where I went.  This made me feel valuable.  The first day I was there, her mother Elsa gave me a paper upon which was written the day’s menu.  I was to make a check by any food I didn’t like so she could change the menu to meet my likes.  This was astounding to me.  Some of the foods I didn’t really know, since they were vegetables never served by my mother, and mealtime became an adventure.

After dinner, I could go out to play for a few hours until night time.  I decreased my range, proudly boasting to my cohorts that I couldn’t go beyond the school yard block in playing hide and seek because I was being taken care of by the Pecks and they didn’t want me out of calling distance.

This special feeling extended to Patty Peck as well.  She was birdlike–a pretty dark-haired high strung girl.  She had a nervous little laugh that seemed refined.  She paused  a moment before answering, as though she was taking care to think things over before she spoke–a quality rare in our world.

Of course, being four years younger and the little sister of her best friend, I never got to spend as much time with her as I might wish to.  This was mainly due to my own sister’s guarding of her friends.  I was “little” and my presence destroyed some fine balance among her and her friends, who seemed to be more exotic, fun and adventurous than my stay-at-home careful group.  My sister’s gang staged circuses and plays, charging admission.  They played Tarzan, complete with costumes.  My sister was Cheetah, Patty Peck was Jane–the most exotic role.  I could watch if my sister didn’t notice I was watching.  But Patty Peck, who had no sister of her own, was nice to me and seemed to like to have me along.  She never treated me as a pest.  I always had this feeling that if it weren’t for that selfish sister of mine, that we would be friends.

This came to be true my sophomore year in high school when she asked me to come to Augustana College, all the way across the state, to stay in her dorm for little sisters’ weekend.  I went, thrilled, and was as nervous as if a movie star had asked me over for a few days.  I worried about what I wore.  I tried to be neat and clean.  When we went out to eat, I worried about what to order.  But everything was fine.  She introduced me to her friends, took me to her favorite haunt for cinnamon rolls.  I think there was a banquet or some staged events, but for me the best part of the whole weekend was finally getting to have Patty Peck for my own friend.

After that, we wrote a few times before going off into our individual lives.  I went off to Australia and Africa, she married a handsome outgoing man and moved for awhile into a cabin high in the mountains of Montana.  During the winter, they had to snowshoe in, which I of course found to be exotic.  Also, it was untypical.  I was thrilled that she was living a life so unlike the one I might have imagined for her.  This careful “inside” girl,  studious and musical, chose a life-of-the-party regular Joe and let him carry her off to the wilds.  I loved that.

Later, when she  got her Masters in Microbiology and then went on to get her Ph.D., it seemed a more believable course for her life to take.  Amazed that anyone could maneuver successfully the upper realms of science and math beyond trigonometry and chemistry, I was only amazed–not surprised.  I could picture her in the white lab coat leaning over an electron microscope.  I could imagine her care, her graceful movements transferring the test tube from location to location.

I missed imagining her with Jerry, her ex-husband. When I pictured them together, I always thought of her as being called forth out of herself, giggling perhaps, a bit silly.  Brought to that place by him.  But I knew there was that scholarly alone place in her, too, that place that also needed satisfying.  That person sat on the high stool in the laboratory of my imagination, looking closely, evaluating.

Of my three crushes, she was the only one who remained  in my life.  For years I knew all of the turns of her life through my sister.

During our thirties and forties,  our relationships with former classmates and town mates  survived long distance.  We met at high school all-class reunions every five years or stopped in while passing through each others’ towns.  Then as we got less busy, we took more time to renew the closeness of old relationships.  Patty Peck began to take once yearly visits from Baltimore to Wyoming, where my sister lived.

Once, when I was visiting at the same time, we watched fireworks together and trekked up to the medicine wheel that was miles out of town.  As my sister and another friend walked ahead,   Patty Peck and I fell into walking together. I liked the person she had become or perhaps remained.  Interested in wildflowers, medicine wheels, cloud formations.  The scientific part of her noticed the minute world just as the artistic part of me did.  There seemed to be no difference.  You could go slowly and she understood that it was not out of laziness but out of a need to see it all, notice it all.  Her scientific mind recorded the details that I had to sketch quickly onto paper to remember.

Years later when she was one of three Pattys who came to visit me in Mexico all at the same time, I found that she had not changed.  She devoured my bird books, leaving little stick-it notes jutting out from pages, recording on them which birds she had positively identified.  She’d get up at six and sit on the patio recording the birds.  I, who had recently lost my husband and moved to this country where I knew no one, had quickly fixated on birds and insects with an insatiable interest.  The plot of my past six months had centered almost entirely upon them.  It was as though we had a child in common. I ate up her interest and her contribution to my informal research.  I had wanted that brilliant bird to be a red-breasted sapsucker so badly.  The story I was writing depended upon that exotic bird being in it,  and she had concurred in my opinion.

I took to getting up early and joining her.  It was a special time without distraction when I got to have the extra older sister of my childhood dreams.  Over the years, my relationship to my real sister Patti had augmented and mellowed into the relationship I always yearned for when I was little.  She listened, took care and valued me as much as I valued her.  But I had felt that neighbor Patty had felt that way about me even as a little girl, and it was fun to be on an equal footing, the  difference in our ages having been canceled out by our both passing age 50.   Now our varying interests, careers and life choices had brought us to this same place–my early morning patio overlooking Lake Chapala in Mexico.

I always imagined that trip of the three Pattys–my best friend, my sister and my sister’s best friend, would become a yearly event and I looked forward to it becoming so.  Next year, we wouldn’t float four abreast on the queen-sized air mattress; drinking margaritas and laughing for so long that we’d all get sunburns.  Next year, we’d continue our indexing and notation of the birds in my world.  Next year, we’d find different places to walk now that the lake was full and our former walking grounds covered by water.

Of course, in real life, those next year plans don’t always happen, and so it was for the three Patty reunion.  But on the shelf next to my computer is the vivid blue book titled “Mexican Birds” and sticking out from its pages like bright yellow plumage are the miniature sticky notes embellished with her fine flourished script.  “Vermillion Flycatcher, Violet-crowned Hummingbird, Great Kiskadee” she has written, defining my world for me, leaving me a gift, a communication.

Recently, my sister Patti has gone out to to see her old friend for what will probably be the last time. They say that there is a good likelihood that her stage 4 cancer was brought on by her extensive use of electron microscopes in her work as a microbiologist.  I hope that as those closest to her come near to share her next journey, that they will all find the words they need to find for each other.  So far away, I wish I could comfort her, comfort my sister.  If I could get my emotions enough in check to talk, I’d call, and perhaps will.  But for now, I try to send strength, energy.  As I think of her, I can feel something from inside of me stream out toward her.  She might have a scientific name for what I just experience as healing energy; there might be a theory in physics to explain it.  But for me, I am sending a current composed of all of our short moments together combined with every time I have thought of her, admired her, wished that we were closer friends in proximity and sentiment.  I add my little stream to all of those who love her most.  And on the shelf near my computer, from the pages of the little blue bird book, she speaks back.

Good bye my friend and neighbor.  I’ll miss you.

Love, Judy

Ta Ta

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Ta Ta

It’s an exquisite loss, your going away,
and it’s also timely, I’m given to say.
You may find it inane that I’m saved while you’re lost,
but it’s true that some friendships come at a cost.
You’ve departed, it’s clear. This I so plainly see,
but your leaving has given me something back: me!

 

Prompt words today are timely, inane, lost and exquisite.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/rdp-sunday-timely/
https://fivedotoh.com/2019/01/13/fowc-with-fandango-inane/
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/your-daily-word-prompt-lost-january-13-2019/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/exquisite/

Beloved: WordPress Weekly Photo Prompt

 

On Facebook, click on the URL to see all  35  photos. When you get to my blog, then click the first photo and arrows to enlarge all photos.

 

The WP Weekly photo prompt is beloved.

Who Walks into Your Life

 

Some force that is called Karma by some, fate, coincidence or synchronicity by others, and God, Allah or The Great Spirit by others, determines who walks into your life. But it’s up to you to decide whom you let walk away, whom you let stay, or whom you refuse to let go.

 

IMG_1266The prompt today was  coincidence.

Old Friends

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Old Friends

Peruse my stars or read my palm.
Your predictions raise no qualm
for sleep has spread its soothing balm,
and now my world is blesséd calm.

The dogs are stirring and at my door.
They have been fed, but they want more.
For their restlessness, I am the shore.
I am their center and their core.

My world once shaken is calming down.
I have no need to scour the town,
for though the planet may fuss and frown,
my world surrounds me like a velvet gown.

My friends are resting upstairs and near.
They have no reason to stir or fear,
for in my heart I hold them dear
and bless those bonds that brought them here.

Now I hear each leave her bed,
choosing company instead.
They brew their coffee but must be fed,
so from the pillow, I raise my head.

My pain diminished since my fall,
I move more easily down the hall
as camaraderie sounds its call,
and I go to join them all.

The prompt today is “calm.”

Just Testing

Bloggers know this, but today I’m just reminding us all that best friends need not always be close at hand or even living in the same country. I’m leaving in a few hours to fly back to Mexico. My bags are packed and for the first time, although they are stuffed to the zippers, I’m leaving the U.S. with the same number of bags with which I left Mexico. What I’m not taking back with me are all the close friends and relatives who have made the rigors of traveling worth it. Prime among them is someone you’ve gotten to know a bit during these last few weeks of my trip. A bit of an agoraphobe, he has nonetheless not only paid host to me in his home but has also driven me through six states to visit other loved ones. I release him now, back to his computer and the grass that I am sure he’ll be mowing tomorrow.  Oh, and to Little Duck, for whom he has sole custody, while I merely have visiting rights. Although he goes by the name of okcforgottenman on his blog, he is far from forgotten.


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Just Testing

If I were to choose from all the rest,
you are the one who’d ace the test.
You left your warm and comfy nest
to drive around at my behest.
I do not say it often, lest
you come to see me as a pest,
but though we tease and joke and jest,
you are the one I love the best.

 

The prompt word today was “test.”

To Gather Together

img_5823Over the river

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and through the woods. to our good friends’ house we go.

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When we stopped for lunch, if we hadn’t known it before, we would have known by the menu that we were in the south!

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And when we passed the rockets, we knew we were in Huntsville! 

It is most appropriate that the prompt word today was “Together,” for yesterday, Forgottenman and I drove from Missouri to Huntsville, Alabama, to be with two of our favorite people–our friends Tony and Allenda who lived right next door to me in Mexico for eight years before they moved back to the states. We had a wonderful time during those eight years, talking daily, meeting a few times weekly for Allenda’s incredible cooking or games of Mexican Train.

Tony and I wrote a book together and Allenda and I were in two different art groups together.  With our friends Audrey and Linda, (Forgottenman and Ron when they visited,) we formed a tight “posse” that gathered at the drop of a hat or an invitation.  And when we gathered, the one given was lots of laughter. Side-splitting, aching laughter that feels so good and that seems now to be the most necessary ingredient in friendship–coming right after trust and  loyalty, which was certainly there as well.

Unfortunately, they all left Mexico on the same year, and I’ve been missing them ever since.  Luckily, Audrey eventually came back, but two isn’t a posse, and we miss the rest of them.  Always will.  Hopefully just once more before all of our leaves fall from the tree, we’ll  be together en masse at my house, as it should be!  In the meantime, I’ll wander over the border now and then to come check up on them.  This time, it was Tony and Allenda and Forgottenman I’ve herded together.  Not the entire flock, but what lovely wooly creatures they are!


To Gather Together

To gather together, I flew on a plane
for seventeen hours, then flew once again
for another nine hours, then got in a car
and drove for five hours and now here we are!

Gathered together with three old time friends.
Now we’ll be together until our time ends.
Allenda’s lasagna and laughter with Tony
and all of Forgottenman’s verbal baloney.

I have been missing this madness for years.
All of their banter falls on my ears
like light verbal rain that gives birth to attention.
I soak in the comfort of each thing they mention.

There’s no time like idle time spent with a buddy.
We may not be sprightly, our memories muddy.
We tried to share book titles that we forgot,
Yet Google remembers all we have not.

Movies and TV and sports scores and then
we start to remember all over again
past times with invites thrown like a ball
with no prior warning, over  the wall

that was all that divided us three years ago
when life was easier–free-flowing, slow.
“Let’s get together for a meal or a game.”
No prior planning, no traffic to tame.

The folks in our posse would gather like sheep.
The talk wasn’t serious, organized, deep.
Light chatter and silliness, cleverness, joking.
Side-splitting laughter ’til we were all choking.

Linda and Audrey, Tony and Allenda.
Forgottenman (when we were on his agenda)
and me like a housemother, guiding them all
so they didn’t wander, stumble or fall.

A sterling example when I wasn’t stumbling
or tripping or falling, forgetting or mumbling!
For the value of good friends you’ve formerly had
is that they remember the good, not the bad:

the train games that lasted far into the night,
driven in by the moths drawn in by the light.
Hot tubs at midnight, margaritas or rum,
counting up tiles until  minds were numb.

Ridiculous movies of Allenda’s choosing,
raunchy and scandalous, but most amusing.
Collaborations over writing or art.
When we weren’t silly, damn, we were smart!

All of these pastimes special and shared—
All of the truths of our hearts that we bared
didn’t all end when you all went away,
for all of the memories have chosen to stay.

Now I’m handing them back to you, right here and now
and hoping you’ll all make a pledge, take a vow
that next year you’ll  make the journey to me
so all of the “us’s” can once more be “we.”

 

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We knew we were in the right place when Allenda served up her famous lasagne,

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when Tony fell alseep in his chair before the night was over,

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and when we found the flowers and chocolates our gracious hostess had left on our bed table.

Good night.  All’s well in this world. We are together.

Appropriately, the prompt today is “Together.”