You have not seen me. Nor have I.
Invisible. Only the ages will reveal
me. My soul, not picked out, yet is I.
You have not seen me. Nor have I.
Invisible. Only the ages will reveal
me. My soul, not picked out, yet is I.
Our home sets at an altitude of nearly 5000 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California with winters that are typically mild with only three or four significant snows in a season. Around 40 inches of rain fall during an average year. This has not been a typical year. We’re at 60 inches, and the winter–which season I generally love– hatefully drags on, as persistent as the ring of robocalls. The fog–since first light to this hour of early evening–has been as thick as cowboy coffee, and the thermometer hanging just outside my kitchen window refuses to stretch to the 40 degree mark. Within the last hour I saw a report of tornados touching down in central California, an extremely unusual situation.
So, for the second Sunday in a row, we did not go to church. We just don’t do fog. Last Sunday on my Facebook account I mentioned what a blessing internet live-streaming of church services is to Jerry and me, and how it provides the opportunity of being with groups of people all over the United States as they worship God. First thing this morning we went to church in Indianapolis with Pastor Mooney, then to Alexandria, La. with Pastor Mangun. We watched both Brother and Sister Larson minister in San Diego, then this afternoon Cherie Wilkins texted me a link to her church in Texas, pastored by Brother and Sister Tuttle.
Because we couldn’t go to regular church, we ate. Splurged. Indulged.
We’re now a bit on the lethargic side.
We’re warm and cozy.
Weather forecast: Rain all night. Possible snow from 1 to 3 am. Rain all day tomorrow.
Hmm. . .wonder what I can whip up!
Jeanine called on Wednesday before Easter to remind me of the meeting on Thursday. “Don’t forget the contest. The hat contest. Easter bonnet.”
My creative side is limited. Quite limited, especially as regards crafts, sewing things, and such as that. I do write frequently, and am a rather serious amateur photographer. That’s about it as far as creativity is concerned, so when I had heard previously about the hat issue, I paid it little mind.
When I hung up the phone after talking to Jeanine, my vision was caught by a wide, filmy band of ribbon that was fluttered across the back of our living room couch. I had moved the ribbon there from another place with the thought of either disposing of it, or of taking it upstairs and tucking it away with gift-wrapping items that are in a cupboard in our game-room. I cannot say what possessed me at that moment to recall a wide-brimmed straw hat that resided on a high shelf in my bedroom closet–but something did, and with a certain gleam in my eye (I suspect, although I certainly couldn’t see such a gleam) I grabbed up a plastic climbing stool, placed in before my opened closet, reached high and grasped the said straw hat.
I created. A mad-hatter now, I wrapped the ribboned gleam of color about the crown of the headpiece, and with my off-white cord threaded through a wide-eyed needle, I attempted to adjoin the two pieces. The effort was less than stellar as the spaces between the straw formation of the hat were so large that the majority of my stitches snagged nothing but air. Pins. Safety pins. I pulled several of them from the plastic container I found in my seldom-used sewing kit, and voila! Success!
An hour or so before we left for the meeting, as I donned my hat for one last perfection check (by and large to assure that no safety pins were visible), I inquired of my hubby. “Want me to make you a hat, Jerry?”
He eyed me. “I don’t think so, Shirley.”
I think I glimpsed a smirk across his otherwise sweet face.
Out of the fifty persons or so who attended the meeting, when they called for the Easter Bonnet contestants to go forward, the elect group consisted of eight people, I believe. I joined that bevy of the brave and talented who walked to the front and straggled into a semi-circle of hatted people. Three prizes were awarded. First name called–not mine. Second name called–not mine. Third name called: Shirley! The emcee handed me an envelope on which was written: Most Creative. Inside was a ten-dollar bill.
So there you go. My first attempt as a milliner, and I won cash money. What say you? Should I proceed with this occupation? Have I, in the millinery field, at these late years become a sort of Grandma Moses?
My camera has been in the shop, the weather has been the wintery kind that lectures people with bodies a bit on the agey side such as mine to stay indoors, and I’ve been busy with the wrap-up of Dream Shards. Such are the reasons I have not taken many pictures lately, and why my photography fingers have been itchy. (NEW SUBJECT stuck right here in the middle of this paragraph: I’ve decided to take up word invention. Consider the word right there in the third line–agey. My dictionaries indicate there is no such word, while my common–or inventive–sense tells me there should be. Aged is available–a regular, ole word, but that just does not have the right sound–or look. So, agey it will remain, at least here on my column, although my smarty-pants dictionary built into my Mac snarks a red line every time I type the word!) Anyway, I got my camera back, tugged cleated boots onto my feet, slipped my hands into warm gloves, plopped a fuzzy cap atop my head, and set out.
The grey birdbath aligned by the side of these daffodils is filled with water that through the weeks of this long winter has alternated between a state of frozen slab and of liquid thin enough that the occasional bird has dipped its head, and taken a drink. At the slender feet of these magnificent flowers is a spread of white, a remnant of the record-breaking snow and rainfall we have experienced here in the San Bernardino Forest this year.
We have planted bulbs since we moved here, adding to the number that pushed through the earth and revealed themselves the first spring we lived here in Crestline. When the daffodils are in full bloom, as they are now, they sketch a golden swath of color across our front bank, truly magnificent.
Ken and Nancy, who live across the street are the best neighbors anyone could have. Three of their grandchildren are visiting now, and a couple of days ago they came onto our front deck. “What’s up, kids?” I asked them
Jake, the eldest, handed me an envelope, even as he was chattering away. “We’re sorry . . .about the flowers.”
Krista is a beautiful little girl with long black hair. Six years old, I think. Her face wore fright and sincere sorrow. She said nothing.
I opened the envelope and read the notes.
They’re allowed to play in our yard, and in the neighbors to our right, for their grandparent’s property has little flat ground. It seems they had started up a little business; selling daffodils to each other. Our daffodils, and Kerry’s who lives two houses away.
I told them it was okay, and that I knew they wouldn’t do it again. I really can’t even tell any of the flowers are missing. “Kerry thought it was a really bad thing,” Jake said in a defensive, little bit arrogant way.
A couple of days after this happened, as Jerry and I were walking back from the woods, I looked intently at Kerry’s yard. They have no daffodils. Every single flower is gone.
But Krista’s letter. Did you notice it? At the bottom, I believe she said, “Do you forgive me?”
I do. I hope Kerry does.
Melina said it correctly, “This is a bittersweet day.” Indeed it was, for its curious boundaries metered funeral flowers, eulogies, and graveside committal words. Flowing tears and grievous expression held hands with mirth and laughing aloud.
Two of our sons, their wives, and one grandson, along with Jerry and me, had attended the funeral of our dear friend, Rev. Paul Walker. It was a beautiful service, where loving honor was paid to this great man of God. Jerry was honored by being asked to speak during the graveside service.
Jerry’s birthday had been the day before. He had already celebrated with birthday dinners and breakfasts, a myriad of phone calls from family and friends, and by opening packages received in person, and in the mail. These particular youngsters, though, had not seen him on his special day, although they had communicated by mail and by telephone calls.
“Dad,” said Andrew at the conclusion of the services. “Let’s go eat somewhere. Celebrate your birthday a bit more.”
No one knew a close-by place to eat, so Andrew and Shauna consulted maps and recommendations on their phone, and we all pulled up in front of Billy Qs in Palm Desert. It was a tiny pizza place, with not a table to seat us all, except for one with high stools, so we scurried around, and helped Jerry get seated up there. After we had received the drinks we had ordered, Andrew leaned in, and said, “There’s a really nice place next door. Want to pay for our drinks and go there?”
“No.” I said, “Let’s don’t do that.”
All agreed, and what a dynamite decision we made. The food is outstanding, and the people are fantastic. The female partner of the man/wife owners of the little place was our waitress . . .and she is a hoot.
My husband has a line he loves to use in restaurants–one which causes the rest of us to smile wanly, and take on an apologetic look. Sometimes we tuck our heads. “Do you take food stamps?” he asked Darnelle.
She missed not a beat. “Yes we do. However, you need to provide three forms of ID.” Wide-eyed, Jerry was speechless. The rest of us were howling.
The upward momentum never faltered during that fine hour. When Darnelle learned this was a birthday celebration of sorts, she went next door to Cold Stone, bought an ice cream cake, and set it at the end of our table. She scurried up a make-shift candle, and we sang. Before we left this charming place, Darnelle was in the middle of all of us, and we were hugging and promising to see each other again.
For part of the summer, she and her husband take an RV to Big Bear Lake, which is about 20 miles from where Jerry and I live. “We take a portable pizza oven there, and cook up pizzas for everyone in the RV park.” She wrote her phone number on the back of a card. “Call me. We also take a boat there. Love to take you out on it.”
I love living.
At night I walk
with care. Each step
Then . . .
beneath my back is black.
My eyes fixed on stars, of cold and diamond flame.
Ice. Black ice.
Snow and ice, they grip and hold
the cold. Long days and nights
but close about
spring giggles. She knows
snow and ice will pack and run.
Curiosity niggles. Has another person in the world, at any time, teamed George Washington with an eggplant? Is there–has there ever been–any other writer whose mind makes the leap from our beloved first president to a well-aged eggplant?
Any of my dear readers who has the time, the temperament, and the inclination to do such research, would be held in high esteem by the writer of this piece, and the comment section on this page would welcome such information. Actually comments of any breed concerning this post are welcome, and just might prove entertaining.
I read a bit about President Washington this morning in honor of his birthday, which I believe is the 22nd. At the Washington Library site at Mount Vernon I came across this account of his reminding his men of his sacrifice, and of his aging.
“Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for, I have grown not only gray, but almost blind in the service of my country.”
While trying to calm anxious Continental Army officers frustrated with Congress near the end of the American War of Independence, Washington reveled (revealed) to the assembled officers, for the first time, that he had begun wearing glasses. His gesture was a chance to remind them of just how long he had served, without pay, during the war.
Statement before delivering response to the first Newburgh Address | Saturday, March 15, 1783
It is said these men had never seen him use glasses before, and that somehow his appearing vulnerable and in a needy state helped quell the severe unrest among these officers.
I’m not sure how I came to keep this eggplant in my kitchen, but it may have gone something like this: I probably bought him at a 99 cent store, with the faint thought of concocting a tasty eggplant parmesan cheese dish, which I have never made, but which Jerry is very fond of. I think I’ve had the fella for months–maybe since Christmas–not sure. Anyway, the faint consideration of the eggplant parmesan cheese dish flickered out along the way somewhere, and I began to notice what a lovely specimen lived here in one of my kitchen baskets. He began to wrinkle in the finest way, and I began showing him to visitors.
I’m fairly in touch with aging, seeing that Jerry will be 87 next month, and that last July I had the startling experience of attending an 80th birthday party, which, unbelievably, turned out to be my own! Not just that, but as was true with President Washington, both Jerry and I have for some time sported spectacles. I’m one-up on him, though, in the hearing category, as I now sport an aid in each ear. But he has those canes he maneuvers around with, so I guess we’re even.
He’s wrinkled, is my eggplant, and as you can see, he is scarred. He’s beautiful, too, and although he did not live out the purpose for which he was created, he is ending his life by doing what he can. He brings me pleasure. His formation, his color, his intricately designed stem are works of art.
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.George Bernard Shaw
With sincere apologies to the late President George Washington.
Jerry has macular degeneration now. He almost never drives. He can hardly use his phone because of his limited sight. We’ve had snow on the ground for weeks, and today alone we have received almost six inches of rain. Sort of snow bound here in Crestline.
Yesterday, he said, “Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I didn’t get you anything.”
I brushed the remarks aside. “Jerry, that doesn’t matter. You know that.”
This morning our furnace quit belching out heat. Jerry traipsed down to the basement. Came back. “The flame is lighting, but the fan doesn’t come on, so then the flame goes off .”
Jerry called Ken, our across-the-street neighbor, who is the best neighbor anyone could possibly want. Ken’s a little younger than we are . . .but still an old man, I suppose. A couple of weeks ago he had cancers removed from his nose and ears, and for a few days when we would see him, the end of his nose would be white . . .with bandages. Both men poked around in the basement.
The called furnace man came. His poking around in the basement led to his saying, “Your furnace is 40 years old, has this and that problem. You need a new one.” We ordered a new one. Wrote a check for half the charge. Will pay the other half when he installs it.
Later I stood by Jerry as he sat on a stool tending the fire in our fireplace. “I’m sorry I didn’t get you anything for Valentine’s Day.”
“Doesn’t matter, now does it?” I placed my hand on his shoulder. “Red hearts, chocolates, cards . . . It really doesn’t matter, Jerry.”
We’ve made babies together. We’ve bought furnaces and paid water bills. Once upon a time we were young, and now we’re old. A time or two, we stared down death. We swatted the tush of our sons, and of our daughter, and now, they with ease, place an arm about the shoulder of a fellow and say, “Let me tell you about Jesus.” We’ve wrecked cars and bought hamburgers and pumped gas and eaten in joints. We’ve settled into the skinny seats of planes, then tramped the ground in countries not our own. We’ve cried in our living room and in our churches. We’ve hooted in laughter. We’ve cooked biscuits and gravy, and grilled spareribs on our back deck. We’ve buried friends. We sleep with Winston, and drive ourselves crazy trying to make him mind us. We’ve looked wide-eyed at our kids as they took us in hand to tell us about Alexa and Siri. We’ve ridden horses in the Sawtooth mountains, and I fell off, and we’ve waterskied, and preached, and taught, and sang. And loved.
A box of chocolates? A rose. A card. Some glitter. . Sorry I didn’t get you anything, Shirley. Are you kidding me?
The months have been dry, even to the extent that a severe water shortage had been declared, and we were admonished to use restraint in our usage, especially when irrigating our lawns and flower beds. The drought has continued through the winter, and here we were into February, little rain, and our snowfall of less than an inch had been disappointing. A couple of weeks ago it started raining. And raining, and then again, until I threatened to gather gopher wood, and I thought I glimpsed a thin line of animals trekking down our lane. Last night came heavy snow, mounding on our deck tables, ledging on our window frames, and spreading over the new daffodil shoots that bravely this morning are still pointing skyward. Snow is forecast to last throughout the day. Yes! We need it, and I love it.
Winston hates the rain. When he must go out, I give him a little shove down the back steps, he does his business and shivers his way back up the steps. But snow? He loves snow! Trots rapidly, pushes it around with his nose, and when we were almost home after our walk this morning, he turned in to Ken and Nancy’s across the street and barked for Shelby, their golden retriever. “Come out and play,” but Shelby didn’t like the snow too much and when Ken opened the door to let her out, she held back on the deck while Winston loudly barked at her.
“What shall we have for breakfast?” I asked Jerry after Winston and I were back inside, and he suggested waffles and bacon and that was deliciously fine with me.
Do you know about our waffle iron? I suspect not, for I have been dilatory about posting faithfully on this blog, and have a hunch I have not told you. Since I’m positive you want to know, I’ll tell you now!
During the Memorial Day holiday here in our mountain communities we have mountain-wide garage sales. Hundreds of people organize (or sometimes not!) their things, set them out on tables or blankets on the driveway, or . . .you know the routine. and we shoppers cruise by and if someone’s offerings appeal to us, we park our cars (often with great difficulty here) and browse through the items. It was three or four years ago now when Andrew and his crew were up for the event, and we were involved in said activities, when by the side of the road we spied a mound of boxes and bags and a sign that snagged us: FREE. There among the stuff set this beautiful, red waffle iron. Now I have never owned a waffle iron, and I said, “Look at that!”
“Want me to get it, Granny?” said dear little Brady.
“The rest,” as they say, “is history.” The perfectly operating red iron has now waffled out scores of crispy treats, its count increased this morning when Jerry and I chomped down on a couple of our own.
Those daffodils? They’re vulnerable. Because it is in their DNA, they have pushed through the cold earth . . .but they are fragile, and before their blooms burst into their intended glory, death and destruction will try to snag them. Disease. Rodents. The stomp of a hard-soled shoe, the wayward strike of a hoe.
I care about those plants on my front bank, and will see to them. See to their safety and to their progression.
We’re all daffodils. We lean on each other.