Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tuesday Morning Beach Report: Found Art

There was lots of found art on the beach today. Enjoy!

How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Charlie the Tuna

Get Yourself a Limbo Girl 

The Colossus of Oxnard

And here's what  the ruins of the original Greek Colossus of Rhodes might have looked like after the earthquake of 226 B.C.

And while we're on the subject, here's Emma Lazarus's poem referencing the original colossus. This text is inscribed on a plaque on the inner wall of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

The New Colossus 

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Monday, July 25, 2016

Monday Morning Beach Report

That chalky band of dark blue above the water is residual smoke from the fires.

I'm not in any danger here. It's not blistering hot, but the air-quality even in this paradise is a reminder of the suffering and peril for those battling the flames and the people whose homes and properties are at risk or have already been lost.

Pray for them. Pray for rain, or even just some humidity. Pray that the hot winds turn back to the dessert. Pray for all that and more.

Here's a poem by Ellen Bass--

Pray for Peace

Pray to whomever you kneel down to:
Jesus nailed to his wooden or plastic cross,
his suffering face bent to kiss you,
Buddha still under the bo tree in scorching heat,
Adonai, Allah. Raise your arms to Mary
that she may lay her palm on our brows,
to Shekinah, Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to Inanna in her stripped descent.

Then pray to the bus driver who takes you to work.
On the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus,
for everyone riding buses all over the world.
Drop some silver and pray.

Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM,
for your latte and croissant, offer your plea.
Make your eating and drinking a supplication.
Make your slicing of carrots a holy act,
each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.

To Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, pray.
Bow down to terriers and shepherds and Siamese cats.
Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.

Make the brushing of your hair
a prayer, every strand its own voice,
singing in the choir on your head.
As you wash your face, the water slipping
through your fingers, a prayer: Water,
softest thing on earth, gentleness
that wears away rock.

Making love, of course, is already prayer.
Skin, and open mouths worshiping that skin,
the fragile cases we are poured into.

If you're hungry, pray. If you're tired.
Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day.
Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth.

When you walk to your car, to the mailbox,
to the video store, let each step
be a prayer that we all keep our legs,
that we do not blow off anyone else's legs.
Or crush their skulls.
And if you are riding on a bicycle
or a skateboard, in a wheelchair, each revolution
of the wheels a prayer as the earth revolves:
less harm, less harm, less harm.

And as you work, typing with a new manicure,
a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail,
or delivering soda or drawing good blood
into rubber-capped vials, twirling pizzas --

With each breath in, take in the faith of those
who have believed when belief seemed foolish,
who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.

Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace,
feed the birds, each shiny seed
that spills onto the earth, another second of peace.
Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.

Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk.
Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child
around your Visa card. Scoop your holy water
from the gutter. Gnaw your crust.
Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling
your prayer through the streets.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Weekend Report

It would have been easier to stay home and mix my own drink.

I went out to a local bar last night to hear some music
My marriage was happier than this bar, I said to the friend I was with.

Ice, we need ice, the bartender yelled every fifteen minutes or so and it was lugged from somewhere in a yellow bucket that may or may not have been exclusively meant to haul ice.

Every other minute a member of the wait staff slipped behind the bar to fill water glasses for a table.
Get out, the bartender would hiss, you know the rules. You don't belong back here.  It happened over and over again, and the bartender went nuts every time. One waiter was particularly adamant with his rebuttal. Apparently there was no water for the wait staff to access wherever it was that they were supposed to get it, and the bartender could just fuck himself.

Kitchen staff came out of the kitchen, hot and desperate to quench their thirst. Get out, the bartender told them too. They weaseled by him and stuffed the bar water nozzle into a glass.

It took forever to get a drink.
The place ran out of the beer it shared it shared its name with.
The bathroom needed toilet paper.

The bartender laid out his tickets from the tables as the waiters put them in. We're out of ice. I don't have a martini glass. We're out of lemons. We're out of limes. You don't belong back here. Get out. I'm really busy he told any patrons at the bar that dared to usurp his attention to order a drink. He made two guys who wanted only a Bud Light and Corona wait until he'd filled the tickets laid out in front of him.

Waiters begged for their drink orders. I'm busy, the bartender would snarl. If people can wait an hour for a cheese sandwich, they can wait 15 minutes for a pina colada.

A guy I guessed to be the owner appeared. He reprimanded the bartender, sliced lemons and limes, hauled in another keg of the eponymous beer, all while looking slightly suicidal.

I finally got the fries I ordered after asking for them a second time an hour later. They were delicious.

The music was fantastic. Everybody in the bar was grooving there in the Kingdom of the Cranky Bartender. It was all of us against him. We won.

How was your weekend?

Have you read THIS yet? George Saunders writing about Trump. Left Land vs. Right Land. I recommend it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

A Room With a View

This is the view from my motel room in Fremont, Nebraska
That's a soybean field--and there in the distance, the curve of the Earth.
It's flat here and the eye travels easily to the horizon.

I spent the 30 years of my marriage visiting my in-laws here at least once or twice a year. It's surprisingly different from the countryside in Iowa where I grew up. But I've spent most of my life in big cities, so I can see the Nebraska countryside through city-dweller eyes too. It can look mysterious. Even a bit eerie.

It's a great place to contact aliens.
Or imagine animatronic dinosaurs or skeletal insects devouring the earth.

But I didn't come here this trip to write stories. I came to bid final farewell to my ex-mother-in-law. I made a terrible first impression in 1975. Braless and in short-shorts, I was wild girl with even wilder hair cavorting with the son that was meant for the seminary. 

She and I found common ground though and I treasured her. She was one of the most likable people I've ever met. 

Today after her funeral, after witnessing her ashes put into the ground in her husband's grave, I gave myself a tour of her yard. She gardened with both a reverent and a fanciful hand. She loved "garden junk,"especially and I do too, though most of my own treasures now come from the beach. 

 There's a row of towering evergreens that she planted as tiny saplings.

One summer she requested custom stepping stones with the handprints of her grandchildren.

She burned her trash--but only what could not be composted or recycled. 

Her hard work yielded much beauty. And while the yard certainly is not at the pinnacle of its glory years, her hand is still evident. I stood in front of her tool shed for a bit this afternoon, wanting to open it, but I didn't. She put me to work there during my first visit post divorce. I remember the smell of dirt and oil, but I can't remember what it was she had me do, only that I felt safe there in that small dark space that housed the tools she used to create her art.

Mildred was the most fervently religious person I've ever known. I may have been one of the most irreligious people she ever knew. Yet, somehow I believe that she resides now with her God, the angels and the saints. May she rest in peace. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Bird of the Day

These creatures recently appeared a few doors down from me.  I'm amused. Delighted even. But I suspect our homeowners' association might not be. There have been letters of late reiterating old rules, enumerating new ones. Our boat docks need to be cleaner; kayak racks must be removed,; nothing is to be hung from patio fences or set on top of patio walls; and be careful where you prop that broom or  kayak paddle; and for god's sake you must have saucers under your patio potted plants. We all have plastic owls (I have four) everywhere to keep the swallows, gulls, and pigeons from encasing the neighborhood in guano so maybe the swans are cool. I hope so.

My neighborhood pet peeves? Loud motorcycles, my neighbor who leaves his car running while he does who knows what, and all the water that gets wasted around here on watering outdated un-waterwise landscaping.

But it's still paradise.