A Week Later, Remembering the Big Cookie: Everyday Magic, Day 14

One world encompasses me so completely that it’s hard to remember the life I just left, the one in New Jersey and New York where, a week ago, Ken and I celebrated our anniversary with a big cookie, family and friends. At my mother’s apartment in central New Jersey, close to where I grew up after our family fled Brooklyn in the Levitt-town diaspora, we gathered with my mother and aunts, uncle Lou (who took the great pictures), and friends Yvette, Kenny, Kelly and Scott to eat Chinese food and a very big cookie.

The trees were a few days ahead of the trees here, the wind was smooth, the temperature was brisk, and we had the pleasure of remembering with those who were there and those who weren’t what exactly happened on our wedding day. This included how the barn for the barn dance was, despite people’s surprise, a real barn (not so good for high heels), and we did get married on as much of a mountain that you’re bound to find in Kansas. We also talked about how everyone met one another, whether by blind date, just hanging out and then discovering one or the other thought it was a real date, or falling into a new life together without looking.

By the end of the night, there was just the crumbs to sweep up and a sweetness marking the merging of the old life with the new life, the family of origin with the newer friends, and one world with the other to come, just 1,400 miles west and right ahead.

Pictures, from top: Ken & Caryn, my mom and Aunt Rhoda, Yvette and Kenny, Scott and Kelly, and Ken and Aunt Jill. Thanks Lou Mazza for the great photos!

The Autumn & Woman That Won't Let Go (So Far): Everyday Magic, Day 114

It’s well into November, and many of the trees around here still are holding tight to their leaves although those leaves are often dark brown paper bags of their former selves. Similarly, I’m having a hard time letting go of various things in my life, which lead to that kind of leaf-gripping worry that disrupts my day, aims me toward watching youtube videos when I should be working, and keeps me up at night.

Walking is the only thing that makes sense at times like this, and lucky for me, I got a long walk along the river and through part of the river trail with Danny mid-day and then through the tree-lined fields near Haskell Indian Nations University Kris near sunset. All around, I saw that the wild trees — the native ones — had a much easier time disrobing, standing bare-ish in the too-warm-for-this-time-of-year day while the domestic trees, the one brought here from there, still had a death grip on their lives, mostly rust, dark yellow, or the kind of green about to die.

I think there’s something to that: what’s wild and rooted here can go with the flow much more. What’s trying to make a life here while having evolved in other weather, other climate, has a harder time trusting the change in the season. Meanwhile, the birds flow overhead, heading south. The trees continue to rain down. The wind lifts and falls. What are you afraid of, and what good does it do to hold onto whatever is changing? the world sang to me. Let go. Besides, winter is coming, and it’s okay.

What Will You Do With Your One Wild & Precious Hour?: Everyday Magic, Days 112-113

I double-dipped on the extra hour by coming back from New York earlier this week and picking up the extra hour I left by the gate when flying out of the central time zone, and now today, another extra hour! To paraphrase Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese” that ends with the question, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” here’s what we’re doing at our house:

  • Miyako, the little cat, is spending her extra hour attacking Judy, the big cat, in the ongoing war of being our home’s top cat. Since Judy attacked Miyako mercilessly when Miyako was younger, it’s payback time. We do break up the fights whenever we can.
  • Mariah, the dog, is sleeping.
  • Forest is catching up on homework.
  • The front porch is dreaming of purple flowers.
  • I’m going to clean the basement because, if the house is the metaphor for the life and the body, then the basement is either first chakra or the soul, and it needs major tidying.
  • Ken is planning to write an article for Blue Sky Green Earth.
  • The wind is up and running, doing its own version of the New York marathon in Kansas.
  • The hedge apple tree over our parking place is going to drop its final osage oranges after already breaking Ken’s windshield.
  • The apples on the counter are bathing in sunlight, unaware of how they may just be baked later on.
  • The greenhouse is begging us to water all the plants just moved in from the outside.
  • The big red rock on the side of the drive is considering its options.
  • The refrigerator is dancing a jig when no one is watching.
  • A doe is planning to walk through our swing set area to survey the bird feeder up ahead where she’ll return all winter to snack on fallen seed.
  • Several flocks of blackbirds are migrating a little further today.
  • The sewing machine and pile of fabric are singing out to me to give them a life for a while.
  • The laundry is dreaming of transformation.

So that’s the news on our plans here. How will you use your one and precious hour?

Who Dances?: Everyday Magic, Day 111

Last night I participated in a marvelous panel with some extraordinary dancers at the Lawrence Arts Center focused on dance dialogues, and especially the question, “Who dances?” posed by Susan Rieger, artist director of the 940 Dance Troupe. Susan is very interested — as am I — in who dances (who we watch, don’t watch; who gets to perform and who is never seen as a dancer, etc.). As part of my response, I wrote and read this poem, and lo and behold, the astonishingly body-eloquence of dancer, artist and all-around great spirit Laura Ramberg showed itself when Laura (as we had planned) rose out of her chair and danced to this poem. The panel also included Karole Armitage, founder and choreographer/director of Armitage Gone! Dance, and Michelle Heffner Hayes, Department Chair of KU Dance Department.

Who Dances?

How can we tell the dancer from the dance?

— William Butler Yeats

Don’t think it is only the ones we’re used to seeing —

limbs agile as big bluestem in wind and rain, bodies

honed swans long accustomed to sleek flight. It is actually

happening beyond the reach of the obvious, lucid as light

that permeates every pore of whatever anyone calls reality.

The 82-year-old woman, walker in hand, not so much a shuffle

with her, but a glide pause arch, a long breath, the black birds

pouring diagonally across the window while she readies herself.

Not just the black birds too, but the cells of the glass, the nucleus

of the atom, the eyehole of the wooden frame, the plaster peeling

in triple slow motion. Not just what seems inanimate but the air

always, the compression of moisture and speed, wind and time,

the physics of acorn fall, the quirk of the cork fastening

leaf edge to branch, the call of train whistle twisted and swirled

over space to land here as opposed to there. Don’t think it is all

about thought executed through limbs, or core strength

making possible the explosion of agility and leap. Your thoughts

are simply little snaps of the fingers, small ebbs of old jokes

from ancestors who danced in ways you can’t even imagine

when no one but the goat was watching. Don’t think it’s just

bodies in space as defined by a body in space. What generic cialis online fast shipping constitutes

the breathing body of the horizon is beyond where elegant fingers

can reach. What makes space is all infinity propped on one

particular shelf where now you live and breathe, later you don’t.

It is not just that it’s all dance, but that the dance is all language,

the break speed of the crow’s wing, the dizzy of a cold front

powering through whatever was for a moment the safe and the known,

the ecstasy of the universe of water, and how the ducks upon

one particular pond make the ripples dance into rock and stillness

and visa-versa. There is a lonely man, tired and at the end of

his life, waltzing a broom at the train station. There is a young

woman, given up on cell phone reception as she crosses the street,

pushing her cold hands into her pockets and skipping for three steps.

There are new lovers and old ones, tilted broken ones and

just forgiven-all-over-again ones, making new shapes in the blankets

from their grief and yearning. There is the clump of dirt falling

from the shovel one woman holds, her sun glasses dancing

with the moving windows of time across this moment, as she waits

to hear it all hit the coffin of her beloved. There is the rush of whatever

you think or I think we should do slamming so hard into the moment

the light lands soft and full on us that we lose our balance

and dance to some old pop song slanting down from the apartment above.

There is this and so much else beyond what can be conveyed

through the actual performance, the moment someone is dancing

to transmit something about this life to someone else.

What matters just as much is how the dance lands and opens

its tired arms, its aging legs, its old and new muscles,

its beating heart, its daring lungs into the the dance already happening,

angling life from breath, and breath from time and time from

the constant motion of life which is, which has always been,

which will always be the dance. What matters most is using

the dance that’s watched to show the dance that is.

Photos: Susan Regier on top, and then Laura Ramberg, as photographed by Tom Parker when Laura, Kelley & I performed in Waterville, KS a month ago.

Landing: Everyday Magic, Days 108-110

For the last two days, it’s been planes, trains and automobiles with bouts of open and clean space between them, a great anniversary party with friends and family, but mostly that sense of speeding through space. Thanks to New Jersey Transit and Continental Airlines, speed has been all around, from sitting in the ambling nicely train while a super sonic whoosh of an Amtrak jolts me with its passing, to sitting in the rounded end of terminal A at Newark International Airport, waiting to board a second plane after our first one was deemed unfit.

Now I’m home, the cat asleep on my lap (a compromise to keep her from sleeping across the computer keys, all an obvious ploy to say: love me instead), the dog asleep by the feet, the dirty buy cialis online overseas laundry dumped out of the suitcase, the pile of newspapers ready to read and weep over, and all the assorted things to get fixed (like our furnace, which won’t turn on, and the wheel alignment after skidding some to avoid a deer on the way to the airport). The room is quiet, the leaves completely stripped from the Cottonwood, the wind slightly up, and the rose in the vase pretty much spent.

I like landing, especially after what it always takes to get from one dimension to another, from the land of my childhood to the land of the rest of my life. Now it time to walk back into this life more fully as soon as I go find some coffee to replenish the coffers.