Friday, August 19, 2011

My Wild Weeds

Maybe since I'm not a farmer I've always had a spot in my heart for weeds.
That commercial where they squirt a couple of dandelions in the crack of the driveway with some pesticide (and they wither away like the Wicked Witch of the West) always makes me sad. When I lived in New York City weeds through sidewalk cracks got my empathetic encouragement: "You can do it, young fella! Conquer that cement!" As a bird watcher I studied field guides to weeds just to know what the black-capped chickadee or the red-winged blackbird ate for a snack. One creature's banquet is another's menace.
Now that I have a spot of dirt to plant a tomato or two I'm out there everyday pulling up that crab grass and insistent ivy that the previous owner planted. No dandelions tho. Lots of other unknown weeds that I often mistake for "real" plants.
So wrestling with weeds is not entirely foreign to me. In fact, I've had my own personal weed garden to tangle with each day of my life.
That's my hair. Curly, unruly, will not toe the line, or smooth out, or listen to me. (I used to straighten it in my teens but that short-lived battle won could not win the war.) I gave in years ago. I have a wild weed garden on my head. And no amount goop, spray, pleading, begging, psychokinesis, or heavy hats will tame it.
You might say I wallow in weeds. I even like the word.
Before agriculture weeds lived free. And so did a lot of other earthly delights.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Be There Now

Were you hanging out in the late 60's? The sentiment "Be Here Now" captured imaginations. It meant: don't be worrying your head about all the things that are not here now -- just pay attention to the moment you are in. The moment you are in quickly becomes the past, and you can't be in the future be HERE now. Feel your life in its moments. Be with it.
Seems most of us have fallen completely into Be There Now. All of our devices (like electronic balls and chains) drag us away from here to there and over there and over there. It's the quintessential embodiment of "the grass is greener...over there."
Imagine if we tossed those little devices away, freed up our hands and heads and imaginations, kept our friends in the dark as to exactly what's on our minds every minute, and all managed to Be Here Now.
Try it on for size. Makes the air tingle a little. Gets you reacquinted with the quiet in your head. Lets you do a howdy-do to your soul whose been hanging around, drumming its fingers, waiting for you to Be Here Now.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

One Hand Washes the Other

The other night, while teaching a cooking class, I cut my finger. An annoying thing to do especially when you're the one who's supposed to know what you're doing.
Luckily, one of my regular students is a nurse pratictioner and she bandaged me up perfectly. She told me: "Don't Get It Wet!" and "Don't Take the Bandage Off For Three Days!!"
In those three days I understood what one hand washes the other really is. You can't wash your hand with just one hand. You can't dry your hand with just one hand. You need them both.
During that same time President Obama was trying to wash hands with the other side of the aisle (the side way over to the right way over about a million miles from the Capitol building) and he couldn't.
You can't wash hands with just one hand.
And so. Everything is rather dirty.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Thousand Years

I'm trying to figure out why I always have trouble with time. Since my 20's I stopped wearing a watch (I had to wear one when I was a stage manager but quit that at 24). Being near a clock stresses me. Like it's bearing down on me- telling me to hurry up.
I even took astrophysics classes at the American Museum of Natural History to track down the space-time continuum. Is that where it all starts? Is there a lot of it? Why years? Why hours? Why tick-tock?
Duane's been carting around furniture and mementos of his grandparents from one residence to another for years. We found buried in a box a needlepoint by his grandmother, it says: The Hurrier I Go The Behinder I Get. I said that's me! and it's now hanging over my dresser.
This weekend we saw an exhibit of Shaker furniture. On the wall was a quote by a Shaker (Mother Ann):
"Do all your work as though you had a thousand years to live, and as you would if you knew you must die tomorrow."
I read the first part of that line and felt relieved. a THOUSAND years. Wow. That takes the pressure off. Feels relaxing. Makes me comfortable and not crazed. Leaves plenty of room for breathing.
Then the second part comes. " if you knew you would die tomorrow..." I get the sentiment. Be in it. Take hold. Embrace the moment. But doesn't that undo the wonderful sprawl of a thousand years?
Can I do both?
I want a thousand years. I need a thousand years. My head is filled with all that must be done, all that I dream of creating. Projects and ideas are lined up like airplanes with impatient passengers all backed up over Laguardia airport at 5pm, all wanting the runway to land.
Without measuring time I sometimes feel the open-ended space of a thousand years (a little). With no clock to tap me on the shoulder every minute I don't think about boundaries of time (as much)...about start and finishes...about what fits and what can't fit.
I just do, be do be do.
Gotta go. I'm late.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Frank Sinatra Song

It's not just a song. It's not just a singer. It's not just an era.
It's an everything that's almost impossible to explain. And the explanation is likely different for every Frank Sinatra Song listener. I can only try. Try to tell you what it means to me. What it does to me. How it can rearrange brain molecules. Turn me from one road to another (invariably to a better road). How it can bring back my physiology from 40 years ago -- from 50 years ago (yes, I go back that far). How it brings back my Dad.
My Dad was a Sinatra listener. It's how I ever heard him to begin with. My mother was a listener, too. She went to the Paramount shows. She sat through 2 films to see the stage show of big band plus Frank Sinatra. She stayed through it more than once. They took her bag lunch from her before she entered just to avoid such a thing. Missing lunch didn't stop my mom and her friend Rosemarie (my future godmother) from staying as long as possible. Every Saturday a big pile of brown-bagged lunches towered in the Paramount lobby. Then she went back at night with her aunt and uncle.
But my Dad. My Dad's not here anymore. So says the official word on all the physical things that says a person is on earth or not. But my Dad is everywhere still. Thank god for that. There can't really be a right world without him.
And when Frank Sinatra's singing he's here the most. 
I learned later that it was really Dean Martin that was my Dad's favorite.
No matter. The very tenor of Sinatra's voice sounds like my Dad's smile. The swing of the Nelson Riddle arrangements will always be the tempo at which my Dad danced. The open-hearted, ever-smiling wise guy attitude of Sinatra brings back my Dad's big laughs and wisecracks. The uplift of Sinatra's mood, how it can pull you up from the floor to the top of your favorite game -- that is all Dad. He did that without thinking. He did that with a look, a shake of his head, how he could cut through any mean mood and shake it down into just plain silliness.
Sinatra's heart-pouring ballads are Dad's easy tears, not sad tears, but tears that felt the earth, and the people, and the love. Tears that recognized life and how full it really is. Dad saw that. Sinatra sings it.
And as much as Sinatra carries my Dad's essence, and how my Mom owns Sinatra's music, it is so much mine, too. A child of the Beatles, I listen to Sinatra and feel: this is mine. This is me. This is what I am made of, too.
I guess because I'm made of my Dad. I'm made of my Mom. And, gosh darn jeepers, I'm lucky as hell. Ring-a-ding-ding.

Monday, March 16, 2009

When A Man Loves A Worm Moon

It's March. And the full moon that satellited around us on March 11th is known as the Worm Moon. You gotta love a worm moon. Just the two words together warms the heart. Worm and Moon. 

Now the reason they call it a worm moon (i'll bet you already know this) is because we've got spring sneaking up on us and that's when the worms start squirming around in the dirt again so that air and water can squiggle into the ground. The worm poop known as castings gives the soil a perfect nutrient-rich fertilizer. And a lot of it. 'Cause there are a lot of worms out there.

I'm talking earthworms. Kinda the building blocks of the plant world, which is, you may have noticed our world.

Which makes that "lowly worm" talk seem silly. Nothing lowly about them except their height.

Did you know that an earthworm has no lungs? They use oxygen but it goes in and out of their skin. No lungs, but FIVE hearts. Oh, yeah. And all those hearts makes for some mighty fine romance. Earthworms have all the equipment they need to make their own babies but, no, they'd rather rendezvous with another earthworm and take advantage of the "it takes two to tango" theory.

You see, it goes like this. The two worms (both of which have male and female reproductive organs) sidle up to each other and flatten out against each other perfectly. Then there's an exchange of the life-giving juice known as sperm (sometimes known as glue). Each of them gives the other some sperm. Then off they go on their own while their bodies choreograph an elaborate system of moving the sperm from section to section until it reaches the egg section. Once the eggs are fertilized they break off into a cocoon. Making more of these love-bugs.

Yes, the lowly earthworm. Dancing to the beat of its own drummer under the Worm Moon, which just may be the most romantic moon of the year. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What's up with colonialism?

Yesterday marked the anniversary of Tibet's failed uprising against the Chinese. 
1959-2009. 50 years.
What's the point of taking over Tibet? The Chinese say they've modernized their world, set up a needed infrastructure, and dismantled the Dalai Lama's feudal system. Feudal system as in monk disciples? If anyone knows anything about the Dalai Lama, feudal lord is the last label on earth that could possibly fit.
So now that the Chinese have made things "better" in Tibet, the Tibetan way of life has almost disappeared (along with thousands of killed Tibetans). And now the Chinese live there, too. So the betterment was to make it hospitable for new settlers.
Sound familiar?
The West Bank, 
Roman Empire,
thousands more.
dictionary: "Colonialism is a practice of domination, which involves the subjugation of one people to another."
Pretty pushy, isn't it? Why would one people want to be subjugated by another? (They don't.) More puzzling: why does one people want to subjugate another? (To conquer, to subdue.)
I want what you have, get lost. I don't want to hear your complaining, stifle. I don't like how you do your thing, conform.
Of course, you can't do this kind of thing unless you've got an army. And guns. Weapons, etc. 
And then they put bows and ribbons on it and say it's for everyone's best interest.

Any cosmic relief in here? It's a hard one.
Reversals. They happen. They have happened. Somehow the weaker prevail. Somehow the stronger lose their wind. Sometimes with enough opposition, the bullies back off. 
When someone more powerful yells: "Hey you! Cut that out!"
And the more powerful can be the small, but collected. 
All the small ones saying at once: "Hey you! Cut that out!"
Critical mass becoming a fierce Tibetan deity ferocious enough to incite terror in evil spirits.

It's an ocean of grief. With a world halted like a ship without a sea.