Category Archives: Other kinds of Loss

Flying Kites

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Flying Kites

Since I was a little girl, trying to construct my own one-dimensional classically-shaped kite out of tissue paper and raw wood sticks, I’ve always been fascinated by kites.  Kites were a bonding medium between my husband’s youngest son and me and I remember once taking a new boyfriend up on the hill to fly a kite after our first amorous encounter and actually, never seeing him again. I’m sure I’ve become the subject of one of his scornful “weird chick” stories.

Kites eventually evolved into more exotic shapes than those first fragile little assemble-it-yourself kites that came as paper and string tightly wound around a disassembled skeleton of unsanded sticks sure to provide a number of slivers during assembly. In my twenties, I bought a lovely cellophane kite in the shape of a jellyfish that actually traveled with me to Mexico twenty years later. It was the kite I’d sailed off the pier in Huntington Beach, in the sand of beaches near L.A. and from a campground north of San Diego.

I can’t remember what has become of it since I moved to Mexico eighteen years ago. Perhaps it is in a box somewhere or perhaps it eventually disintegrated and was thrown away, but my fascination with kites did not expire with it and so when I saw the kite vendor next to the road that runs between Ajijic and San Juan Cosala, I immediately pulled over, turned around and went back to examine the glorious three-dimensional fabric kites.  They were in the shapes of birds of prey, dragons, fish, and other fanciful creatures.  I chose a hawk and a dragon and bought both.

I couldn’t wait to get home and go up to my roof to fly one.  Ground level at my house furnishes too many places for a kite to get tangled up in: bougainvillea vines, palm trees, roof tiles and phone lines. I went up the stairs to the second level terraza and unfurled the hawk kite.  It was a windy day and it did not disappoint, but soon rose to the full extension of its string. Real birds occasionally circled around it, wondering no doubt what weird bird was this.  But after a few minutes, when I looked down from the mesmerizing sight of my own kite hovering far above, I noticed in amazement a similar kite soaring high above my neighbor’s house down below.

Not one but two men were up on the high dome of their house flying a kite! Now I must say that I had lived in my house for sixteen years and had still never met these neighbors.  There is an empty lot between us as well as high walls surrounding both of our properties, as is the norm in Mexico.  Tall trees and weeds have grown up between us and they are just occasional weekend visitors to their vacation house. We share a gardener, Pasiano, and that has been the extent of our relationship for the now 18 years I’ve been residing here.  But they seemed to spot my kite the moment I spotted theirs.  I waved from my high perch. They waved from theirs, further down the hill. And I think we both felt a momentary sense of unity.

Since then, that kite has resided, rewound into a tight bundle, in my umbrella stand, along with its fellow kite, still a virgin and as a result, more tightly and professionally wound.  I don’t know why I’d never thought to fly either of them since then, but as I was packing to go to the beach last January, my eye fell on the umbrella stand.  No need for an umbrella at the beach, but a kite?  Yes!  I chose the more flamboyant red dragon kite. I would finally see it fully extended!  The cord was stuck into the cellophane sheath that surrounded it–a flat plastic structure with the strong braided nylon cord wound tightly around it.  Into my fully-packed car it went.

Once I arrived in La Manzanilla, the kite took up residence with my art supplies, sticking up out of a large plastic box that sat on the dining table bench behind the table, which was never used for dining but instead became my computer table and art center. There was much to do–greeting old friends, working on music for CD’s to go with my children’s books, writing groups and readings, planning art activities for friends, swimming, beach combing, dining, dancing, observing the nightly parades that streamed by my house, dealing with the all-night LOUD music from nearby bars, coping with the muffler-less motorcycles that streamed by my house at 3 in the morning.

It was a month after I’d arrived at the beach that my eye fell on my long-overlooked second kite.  It was a nice windy day on the beach. I’d seen at least one other kite flying–something I’d never witnessed in the ten years I’d been coming to this relatively sleepy little town. Here were no high-rise hotels or swinging discotheques like the ones in Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan.  Here were little restaurants and night spots frequented by the ever-increasing number of American and Canadian writers, musicians, actors and artists who swelled out the population of the little town for 6 months of every year—those months before the humidity and heat grew too intense to bear.

So, finally, I took my wonderful kite out for its inaugural flight. Assembly required only crossing two long slender plastic spines and slipping their ends into pouched slots on the snout, tail end and two front legs of the dragon and attaching the cord to a center ring. The long expanse of the cord was wound around a flat plastic spindle that had been packaged up with the kite.  I slathered on sunscreen and went out to my back porch that overlooked the beach, descended the stairs and began to unwind the cord.  The kite rose immediately into the air, born by the strong coastal breeze.  It shot upwards and upwards and upwards and––then it was soaring up and over the long line of vacation rentals and restaurants that lined the beach and I was holding the cord winder to which, it seems, the cord had not been attached!

Within seconds, my beautiful kite was gone with the wind and out of sight.  I ran quickly down the beach to a small restaurant that furnished ingress to the main street of the little town that fronted the house I rented every year.  I ran out onto the street, madly looking up and down for my kite, fearing to find it plastered against the windshield of a wrecked car or in broken splinters, shards and rags after being run over. I looked up and down, up and down, then ran to the center of the street to finally see it, a block away, held streaming behind the form of a small girl on the back of her mother’s motorcycle, speeding down the brick-paved street into the distance. I ran after it, shouting, creating quite a spectacle of myself, then stopped, realizing they would probably make the circuit around the plaza and come back again, as all the other motorcycles always did.  But alas, I never saw the motorcycle or the little girl and mother or my beautiful new kite again. They had vanished into the labyrinthine sand streets of the little town.

For another month, I looked for it in the skies above the beach. The house I rent is only one building away from the main paved entrance to the beach and the hub of beach life, but alas, it never appeared.  I console myself with the thought of the astonishment of the little girl as it soared over the rooftops and within her reach—her delight as she held it streaming out behind her, her other hand securely clutching her mother as they created a beautiful spectacle witnessed by everyone watching that day from sidewalks, benches or the inside of stores, restaurants and galleries along that main thoroughfare. Witnessed by me, standing center-road, regretting its loss.  But at night, before I fall to sleep, as I look for the ten thousandth time at the paintings that cover the walls of my bedroom, I imagine that little girl in her room, my splendid red dragon kite tacked to the adobe wall in front of her bed.  Her little miracle.  Her treasure, perhaps, for the rest of her life.

 

 

 

Prompt words today were kite, scorn, labyrinthine and instant. Here are the links:
https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/03/30/rdp-saturday-kite/
https://fivedotoh.com/2019/03/30/fowc-with-fandango-scorn/
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/03/30/your-daily-word-prompt-labyrinthine-march-30-2019/
https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/03/30/instant/

Bad Timing

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Bad Timing

On my birthday in July, my true love gave to me
a coupon for a ski trip and a real live Christmas tree.
Chocolates when I’m dieting, sad songs when I am gloomy.
A grand piano, though my new apartment’s not too roomy.
The week that “Save the Animals” appointed me their chair,
he bought me a new winter coat of lynx and llama hair.

He brings home ice cream in the cold, hot cocoa in the summer.
When I broke my tooth, the peanut brittle was a bummer.
Though his gifts are generous, my thanks are often mimed,
for I’m speechless over just how badly all of them are timed!
The reason why we are not wed is so hard to relate.
I had the cake, the rings, the gown. We set the time and date.

The groom showed up and waited as I walked down the aisle.
My wedding dress was finest lace, my undergarments lisle.
I’d planned each detail out with care and left no stone unturned.
Just one detail  left to him–you’d think I would have learned!
For when I went to say “I do” to this  man I adore,
they found our wedding license had lapsed two weeks before!

The Prompt––10,000 Spoons  Tell your own verse, stanza, or story of a badly-timed annoyance.

 

Bob’s Rope

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                                                                        Bob’s Rope

A week ago, I drove to the Santa Cruz, CA area to visit old friends. It has been fourteen years since I left there to move to Mexico, and when I spent the night with my friends Linda and Steve, they invited my other good friends Dan (pictured above) and Laurie to come for dinner. When we fell to comparing our present physical ills, as old farts like us are prone to do, I admitted that over the past year I have experienced a number of anxiety attacks when I go to bed, mainly centered around fears that I will soon stop being able to breathe. When I told Dan about these attacks, he said that he, too, had been having them for a long time but that he’d found a cure–that cure being Bob’s rope. The story goes like this.

About twenty years before, Dan and Laurie had decided to drive down to Baja and asked my husband Bob and me to accompany them. We took two cars because they had to come back before us as Laurie didn’t want to leave her elderly aunt for too long. Dan said he had felt terrible anxiety before the trip. What if their car broke down? With no big towns in Baja, what would they do? Nonetheless, we went, and on our second day of driving, we fell behind them a mile or two. We were nearing the crest of a big hill when we suddenly saw a big engine part lying in the road. We swerved around it and as we passed over the summit, we spied Dan and Laurie’s car down below at the bottom of the hill. We thought they were waiting for us to catch up, but then saw Dan get out of the car and wave us down.

Part of the engine had fallen out of their van! We went back to pick it up and discovered that it was the universal joint or some part of the engine that contained the universal joint, which is a vital part of the engine, or so I was told. Dan was sputtering a bit, but Bob just went to the back of our Blazer and pulled out this colossal hemp rope…maybe twenty feet long and about two or three inches thick. This he tied to our trailer hitch and to the chassis of Dan and Laurie’s van. We then towed them about 20 miles until we found a tiny “town” consisting of a small gas station. We pulled in and Dan, who knew more Spanish than we did at the time, (we knew none) asked the station man where the next garage might be. There were a sum total of three little houses in the town that we could see, and the man pointed to one across the road and said we should go see Jose.

Jose had about 5 old cars parked in his yard and when he inspected the part we’d retrieved from the center of the road, he said he’d see what he could do. He scrounged around in the various cars and came up with a part which he promptly dropped in the dirt, at which point all the bearings dropped out onto the ground, rolling every which way and burying themselves under powdery dirt and sparse grass clumps. He laboriously scavenged, picking bearings out and cleaning them off on his shirt before dropping them into wherever bearings go. He worked for a half hour or so–maybe longer.

This part of the story I didn’t witness as Laurie and I were across the street in the shade of the service station eating the best tamales I’ve ever had in my life. We’d purchased them from a little woman who had a stand by the side of the road. They were incredible in that every single bite tasted different from every other bite. She had put everything into them: pork, pineapple, cheese, mild chilis. Each bite was a totally new tamale experience and the masa was moist and light and wonderful. I was thinking that it was worth Dan’s U-joint just to get to eat these tamales! We thought we should buy some for Dan and Bob, but as time wore on, we ended up eating theirs as well. Only so much can be expected of girls marooned in the heat with only the shade of a forlorn little gas station for comfort.

At any rate, I’m sure we bought more tamales for the male members of our expedition and eventually, they drove up in Dan’s van. As they (probably) ate their tamales, Dan spoke in wonder of the fact that Jose had somehow been able to gerrymander the part from the pieces of the different cars–none of which were vans or even the make of his van. And, when he asked how much he owed them, they said, “Oh, 150 pesos!!!” This at the time was about $15. He said he would have paid more but alas, that happened to be all the cash he had on him and I’d spent all our money on tamales and gas.

So it was that we went on to a few more days’ adventures before they headed north again and we continued to Mulege and points south, took the ferry over to Guaymas on the mainland of Mexico and drove up the coast and back home. Later, Dan reported to us that he’d stopped by to see Jose on the way back up to California and left him with a couple of cases of beer and a bit more money, which he felt he had certainly earned, even though he had not commanded a higher price.

A happy Dan drove his van home and for 6 months it performed perfectly; but he started worrying about it and thinking it was bound to eventually give him problems, so he went to the authorized garage of whatever make his van was and had them order the correct U-joint and install it. Afterwards, he had had nothing but trouble with the van and they ended up trading it in. He admitted then that he never should have meddled with the perfection of Jose’s repair job.

Now, he said, every time he felt anxiety, he thought of Bob’s rope and it would calm his fears and remind him that things worked out because they had to and that there was really nothing to be so anxious about that it kept him from doing what he wanted to do. When Bob died and I moved to Mexico, I asked them what they would like to have from our house to remember us by and Dan quickly requested the rope! He’s had it ever since. They now split their time between their house in Boulder Creek, CA and a house near the southern tip of Baja and every trip they’ve taken down, they have carried that rope in the trunk of their car. Dan still suffers night anxiety attacks as I do but he said when he does he thinks of Bob’s rope coiled in the trunk of his car and that calms him.

That is the story of Bob’s rope–how it came to have such importance in Dan’s life and how it has come to have a potential for comfort in my life as well.

DSC09974                                                     Laurie seems to have life whipped.

The  Prompt: Tell us about a journey you have taken, either physically or emotionally.
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/journey/

Rings of Saturn

The Prompt: Weaving the Threads–Draft a post with three parts, each unrelated to the other, but create a common thread between them by including the same item — an object, a symbol, a place — in each part.

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 that heart-shaped jewelry box ever since. That jewelry box with the little slit-compartment for rings that my sister’s friend had brought as a hostess gift when she had come to visit 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 take 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 grows shrill with age or disappears. Buzzers 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.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/weaving-the-threads/

Post-Migraine Depression

Disclaimer: Yesterday I suffered my first migraine in sixteen years or so.  I had just been telling a friend how long it had been since I’d had my last one and the best way to overcome them when suddenly, a few days later, when I was standing on a ladder putting away material in my studio, I grew dizzy and would have fallen off the ladder if I hadn’t had a chair back and file cabinet to steady myself on.  Soon after, the migraine descended, along with the nausea and this time with a shortness of breath that was probably psychosomatic but which made me feel as though I was going to suffocate.

What was worse is that there was no one around–no one in my neighborhood–no one I could think to call.  When I tried to think of someone to email or Skype, my mind fogged and I couldn’t figure out how to type the letters or who exactly to call–just to have a sense of presence.  I was too sick to talk and could barely even stand the distraction of calling on Skype.  Nor could I figure out how to actually make the call.  Luckily a friend who was about to leave on a trip to another town and who was already connected to me by Skype, contacted an old friend and she called me and talked me down a bit, poor thing, talking for ten minutes or so without relief.  All I needed was some soft distraction so I did not think about not being able to breathe.

Today just the slight edge of a headache is there. Enough so I dare not bend down or chance seeing a bright light or smelling the odor of Jacaranda, which I am afraid is what caused the problem this time, but I have started thinking about old age and being alone and vulnerable and all of those things I’ve never really thought of seriously before.  When I tried to write something else entirely, what got written was the rather self-indulgent piece below.  My impulse is to put it away and to write something else, but I also have a curiosity about whether others might have the same feelings sometimes so I just might have another look at it and print it with the understanding that when such things are written, they sometimes serve as their own antidote.

Or, perhaps the extreme of what I wrote is simply priming the pump–a surge to get me going.  Well, I’ll have another read and we shall see.  If I do print it, I’d appreciate comments–lots of them–no matter how negative.  My grandmother used to say a Dutch phrase when she was feeling sorry for herself, “Mama Miet mi Dote!” (Mama might be dead.) It became our family’s saying, only my mother (her daughter-in-law), who didn’t understand Dutch, said “Mama Milk My Goat.”  My dad thought this was funny so never told us differently until I went to college and tried to use it and got blank stares from all those who didn’t know the phrase I thought everyone used.  It was then my dad ‘fessed up.  So, “Mama Milk My Goat.” Yes, I am feeling sorry for myself in the ditty below, but it helps to rave sometimes and tomorrow is another day.  For now, I’m lying low for one more day.

Post-Migraine Depression

My life is growing narrower, the walls are closing in.
I don’t care where I’m going or care where I have been.
I never thought life would wear out or that I’d tire of it,
but suddenly the life around me does not seem to fit.
We’re schooled to be cheerful and to make the best of life–
to emphasize our happiness and overlook the strife,
but somehow everything has changed. Perhaps it is the weather,
for suddenly I feel my life is on too short a tether.

I think I’ve worn my old life out but cannot seek a new one.
I’ve simply not the energy to try again to do one.
So I shall lie abed today to contemplate my fate–
to have a look at what I do and what is on my plate.
I need to feed the dogs and then to feed my own self, too–
to dress myself and try to put each shoe in front of shoe.
My grandma was a martyr and perhaps I am the same,
but I don’t try to make this into any other’s blame.

I simply feel that I must stir the pot up once again–
take off on an adventure someplace I’ve never been.
Find a niche and fill it and live a simple life.
Try to find diversion without turmoil or strife.
To inspect the Caribbean or a tiny town in Spain.
Live alone in solitude with nothing to explain.
My family is scattered and has no need of me.
In terms of obligations, I am really fancy free.

So if you do not see me later on this blog,
just know that I have gone away and slipped my usual cog.
Perhaps I’ll be beach combing or traveling out to sea.
Perhaps I’ll be investigating what else I can be.
My life will soon be over and although I’ve had the best,
I feel that I need more of it before my final rest.
Or, I may not stir at all. I guess I must admit,
perhaps my need is satisfied by contemplating it.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/we-built-this-city/

Offers

Offers

When he asked me to marry him
and when we had to bury him–
these times inevitably set
wherein we find that we must let
nature have its way with us.
It does no good to rant and fuss.
Life’s made to reward, then abuse.
Its vagaries we can’t refuse.

All is part and parcel to
the next thing that we’re meant to do.
Good comes from bad and bad from good.
Birth, courtship, marriage, parenthood
fill our lives in marching order,
but every joy must have its border.
Birth leads to death. Love’s often lost.
To release life’s pleasures is the cost

of having and enjoying them.
Coal under pressure becomes a gem.
Remembering this must get you through
the next trial that’s set up for you.
Every day’s  an offer  you can’t refuse–
another pleasure to gain, then lose.
Life’s losses are also its seeds.
We lose our wants to gain our needs.

The Prompt: Set the timer for ten minutes and then tell us about an offer you couldn’t refuse.

If I Were Water and You Were Air

The Prompt: For this week’s writing challenge, take on the theme of H2O. What does it mean to be the same thing, in different forms?
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If I Were Water and You Were Air

I used to be restless water—
only the froth and currents
of a moving life.

Now I am still water,
sinking down to where
I can be found
by anyone willing to stand quietly
and look.

Is it true that moving water never freezes?
Is it true that still waters run deep?
Is it true that we are wed in steam?

“What if, caught by air,
it never lets me go?” I ask.

“But even water
turned to air
must fall at last,” you say.

“And what if I fall farther from you?”
I say. “Or what if I never again find banks
that open to contain me?”

I used to be swift flowing water.
Now I am a pool that sinks me deeper every year.
So deep, so deep I sink
that on its way to find me,
even air may lose its way.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/ice-water-steam/