Monthly Archives: June 2012

Wood and metal heartbeats

It seems most of the important things in our lives are decided around a kitchen table. Well, for pretty much all of my life anyway. There is something so timeless about that table in the kitchen. Well worn sometimes, well used for certain and a very tangible symbol of the family that has gathered around it for so very long. I can remember a whole lot of kitchen/dining room tables my family has gathered around.

The one in childhood in Florida was, as I remember anyway, sort of steel grey with a fake marbled top. I see it as a grey block crouching in the knotty-pine dining area right off the kitchen with it’s Sunday-best table cloth that sported a pine-cone/fir tree motiffe.

Then there was the yellow topped one in Long Beach in the tiny little bay-window nook that seemed to be hunkered down like a little girl giggling over not being found in Hide’n’Seek. That little nook was a place where one could sit around the corner to the left and no one coming in the kitchen or even the alley door to the right of the kitchen sink could see you. It was the only place in the house that afforded true seclusion. In the dining room of that house on Walnut St was the “big table”, the one used on such formal occasions as Christmas or birthdays or the evening before Mike went into the Navy. It usually had a crocheted table cloth on it, which indicated the particular use of the item which it covered. No everyday coffees here, only those occasions deemed festive enough for its use.

There was the round, almost modern one in Santa Fe Springs. It sported chairs with castor’s and a leaf that turned it into an oblong table suitable for every sort of any kind of celebration. It was this one that moved with my Mother. From Santa Fe Springs to what was called El Toro then, (now it is known as Lake Forest, very hoity-toity). I remember this one being ensconced in her mobile home (DO NOT call it a trailer) with the mirrors on the built in china cabinet copying it into infinity.

It was that round, funky sort of table I remember as her most happy-I-bought-it item. We celebrated my childrens birthdays there every year, my own too and hers. The four of us, my two boys and her and I would gather around that to snack, to feast on meals or just have cookies and talk about all the things that needed to be laid out on the top of it and flipped over and back again. My brothers and I gathered around that table when we had to make the agonizing decision to put her in a board and care home, just before she passed away from ovarian cancer.  My brother Edwin still has it. Seems fitting somehow that it just never quite left the family.

In my own house I have had over the years tables that never seemed to have that kind of magnetic appeal. I had an antique from England that I loved but not too many others did. Then, after the boys both left my house, I had a beautiful glass-topped small round one that I still have, but it has migrated to be outside by my front door enticing my visitors to sit a spell.

I think the one I have now is the one that will probably travel with me when I wander. It has four very beautiful dark wood chairs, a leaf in the center that has its own resting place inside the table and a scared and very used top. It came to me that way. I found it at the old St. Vincent de Paul store, silently pushed to the side of an aisle looking forlorn. As I cleared its top to see it better I could the scratches and the damage done to its shiny mahogony top. Then I touch it. And it spoke to me of its family gathered around, having meals, celebrating, playing games, laughing, crying and living. I took it home.

It is the table’s character, its personality if you will, that gives it its infinite beauty. It sits in my dining room with its four newer chairs gathered around it, sometimes with a fancy table cloth on it, most times just everyday place mats. It still loans itself to its true calling, to be the gathering place for my little famiy. It is where Terry and I had our evening meals, before he had to go back to Michigan for a while. Its where Auntie Norma and I have shared meals occasionaly, both of us marking the empty space where he should be. It is where my grandchildren have gathered for a cutthroat game of Monopoly, with the Land Baroness Cienna playing til the bitter end. It is where my dogs and I gather and sigh over the empty chair that is waiting for Terry’s return.

Kitchen tables. Like kitchens, they are the heart and hearth of a family. It is where the heartbeat is. It is where the love is grown, nurtured, feed, stretched and honed to perfection.

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Live Laugh Love

                                                        That’s why I keep the  

gates of my heart open

’cause you never know  

where love might be

I leave a crack in my defenses

and let the unexpected carry me    

Larry Murante

My Dearest Love: Being open is what brought me you. I refuse to be stuck, to be trapped in a rat-race sort of run for something that won’t let the crack let in love. I have a finite number of days left on this earth. I chose to live them to fullest with the biggest helping of love and joy.

Won’t you come join me?????

I do so love this man’s view of life. I am trying to decide how I want to spend the rest of my life, what to pursue, what to leave behind, what to focus on and what has spent it’s time right up to the end. It isn’t people I am done with,  just a life style that says more, bigger, lots of stuff is the only way.

I really don’t believe that any more. Maybe when I was younger I did, not too sure about that though–I could have just been pulled along with the rest of the people stuck in a white water wash of running after the vaguely whispered success which was supposed to be happiness.

Today, to my heart, success is loving. Loving brings happiness.  It is not an item in a catalog, a house on a particular street or a piece of paper issued to a name by unknown and unseen persons.  I have decided to live that belief. To love, to laugh, to live in this moment. I have decided to not allow any “stuff’ to hold me back to living that.

I may just up and pull up stakes and head out with my two dogs in the car with me. We might head north or east or even south. But they and my family and the man I love will have all of my heart I have to give.  But my promise to myself will be this: I will be completely alive, I will completely love. And those who love me will get all of that love.  And at the end of this life God has given me I hope I can lie there in my bed and reflect on all the love that I had the blessing to give and recieve. That will be the measure of my success as a human being.

Things do not give hugs. Only arms can do that.  And if one is lucky enough to earn it—furry little bodies and paws!

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A Lorretta and Ronnie sort of night……..

Well, it is a down-sad sort of day today. I think I will watch Moonstruck, drink my TJ’s Zin (Traders not Tobin), listen to Ronnie tell Loretta about what love isn’t and cuddle with DaBoys.

It has been one whole week without my Michigan Man. 7 days. And tonight, right now, is the definitely hardest of them all. Tonight is the end of my work week. Tonight is what used to be our “movie night”.

He used to come over, watch movies with me, cuddle on the couch and just be together for hours. Last summer, at it’s first day, we spent together in celebration in our sort of quite kinda way the sun. This one finds me alone, with an incredibly beautiful view out my front windows of Iceberg Roses, California Gold Bougainvillea and English Lavender. The beauty soothes my sad, sore heart; my lonely heart.

So tonight, my heart needs to be soothed and coddled and reassured and gently and tenderly held. So, DaBoys and I will be ensconced on the couch holding each other till the tears are spent and we toddle off to bed.

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Welcome to 8th grade—-again!

There is one thing about life, one thing you can count on and that is things usually change, What brilliant pundit said ‘the one constant is change”? Well, that is true of just about everything, but one things stands out as an exception to that life-rule. Everything else, all that we think should be the same, just isn’t.

We spend inordinate time and money going back to our high school years; just look at the business opportunities afforded this lucrative past-time. Class mates send us notices through all sorts of social media sites, most of whom we cannot remember for the life of us. All speaking and reveling in the changes since those golden high school years, years that the faded memory of has changed it to be so very much better than the reality of it. Let’s face it, for most of us high school was an ordeal that we faced daily as we traversed it.

One thing though does remain the same. That one thing is love. It can reduce us to an angst filled 8th grader waiting with baited breath for the lover to answer the phone (or text back to be modern). It can run roughshod over our mature thinking process and fill us with a physical pain, located amazingly somewhere in the vicinity of our central chest. In any other subject we are that together individual who looks at life with clarity, honesty, calm (oh, boy yea) and truth.

Not so if one falls in love, at any age mind you. You are, just like the poets from every age have been tellings us for all those ages, tossed about on the sea of emotions. Just because you can call yourself “mature” in some venues, the one labeled “Fall in Love Here” has no room marked “mature lovers enter here”. Love is love—period. Your heart tells your comprehensive thinker residing nicely in your head they can take a vacation. In it’s place your emotional heart runs rampant with fears, exquisite joys and deep drownings of sorrow. Sound like 8th grade? You betcha!  Love is. It is not contained, it is not directed by anything else, it just is. As Ronnie Camerarie said in Moon Struck, love is not like they told you in the fairy tales.

I fell in love with my neighbor’s son. For the first time in my life. I almost missed it. I almost let the chance pass me by. Something in that heart of mine would not let me do that. The nudging was constant, the need for his company became a daily companion. And I have been plunged into that 8th grade stuff once more. Now, he is in Michigan and I am in California. Too far away by half. His voice on the phone sends ripples of down right pleasure through me. And, just like 8th grade, he can slay me with an off handed word or phrase and start all those fears and terrors rolling through my head. I may intellectually know he will come back. I may understand the why’s of him being there for his son, who will start university in September. But my heart just cries out “when will I see you again”. Not logic, just feelings.

It has been said that saving the best for last is to savor. Love at last is to savor the whole experience, the whole unit of love. Some of it is breathtaking, some is heartbreaking. I would not change one tiny part of it. I just thank the Good Lord that love like this did not pass me by, but opened my front door and sat down on my couch.

Come home soon darling, DaBoys and I are waiting.

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Slug’s Ohio Vacation

I’ve been here in Ohio now for five days,  at least three of them in the eye of   Hurricane Reunion; seeing those I hadn’t seen since the last one a year ago. Eating, snacking, eating again, snacking again—then—desert!! If I get out of here with gaining ten or less pounds I will consider my self quite the luckiest of humans.

I would not miss this for the world. It is my immersion into my Dad’s family, a family I didn’t get to be around while I was growing up. Coming here I am one of many, a part of something, a member of the troop. I am not on the outside of anything, even though I live in California; I am “Ernie’s Girl”.  It is like my ticket in, my stamped pass, to be my Dad’s girl. This  November it will be ten years since he and my Mom died, the space is still there that they filled. But here, the space is less obvious, less empty. Here my cousins and I are right back in Gramma’s side yard catching fireflies and letting them loose in her house for night lights. Priceless memories of days gone past.

The bonus is my boyfriend (such a silly word for those over 50) is here with me. Today he is working with my cousin Connie’s husband and son on a construction site for a house they are renovating. He keeps saying to me “they are good people”, I keep nodding  and thinking, “salt of the earth, they are”. I can see he is relaxed and at ease too. It is like coming home for him I think. In the aspect of acceptance, relaxed atmosphere and just generally that mid-western attitude that he grew up with.  Country home feeling.

So here I am, in Connie’s kitchen, getting my self together to cook catfish and potatoes for the guys when they get back about six. I have to bestir my self for I have turned into a slightly comatose slug here. Full of great food, even greater deserts and living in a pace I forgot was possible in the SoCal world of hurly-burly go faster and faster.  A true vacation of every part of us modern-life-living people.

I  did not realize that I had a slug-me on the inside just waiting for Ohio to come out and sink into this chair in Connie’s kitchen.


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Cathedrals of Stone

Cathedrals of Stone

Sky columns

reaching to the floor of Heaven.

Small boulders

prostrate at God’s feet.

Music of the waters

accompaniment  for

the chorus of birds.

Small settlements

nestled in the valleys

sheltering pilgrims

on their walk along the Pilgrim’s Way,

between the majestic vaults of stone.

Each one standing as sentry

at Heaven’s Gate;

dressed in arches, columns, crevices and cracks.

St. Denis in its man-made splendor

humbly bows in the presence

of the Master Builder.

May 27, 2012

Poem started in the drive through Zion, took some time to finish. Mainly because of the incredible heart-stopping beauty of this place nestled in the southern Utah desert.

OK, Mom, I get it. Once you truly experience the West, absorb and allow it to absorb you;  your blood is filled with the vistas your eyes and mind see. It is here, standing at the base of a red rock cliff, looking up at these cathedrals of stone, that the soul itself bows to the God of the Universe who created them both.

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