Adrian Vaaler prepares to play "Taps"
I'll just say it: I'm lucky. Lucky to have come from a family relatively untouched by loss from war. So on this day, Memorial Day, my gratitude pours more from my head than my heart. It embarrasses me to write that, but what's true is true.
My mother, the daughter of Polish immigrants, was a first-class patriot. She understood—and felt deeply— what this country symbolized, despite its imperfections. In 1943, she saw her husband—my future father—off to a Navy destroyer in the North Atlantic. He returned. So many others did not.
My mother bore her children in the prosperity of those post-war years, and we were the beneficiaries. She tried to instill in us her loyalty to the flag, but her history was not ours, the lessons already a generation removed. Informed and influenced by the particulars of my own history, my patriotism is more guarded, more cynical.
And yet there it stands in that last sentence, preceded by its own and unapologetic possessive pronoun: my patriotism. My patriotism, which brought me yesterday, as is has for the past decade or so on this commemorative weekend, to the grounds of the Eugene Masonic Cemetery to hear Taps played at noon in the Public Square. This cemetery, quietly managed to honor its location's natural history, is home to the graves of many of our city's founding citizens as well as veterans of 15 decades of wars. To my mother, who made me stand up for the Stars and Stripes, even when they were passing on a television screen, I will say that your lessons did not go unheard. To the women and men who never lived the future I was fortunate to have had, I say "Thank you."
THIS YEAR, 2012, MARKS THE 150th ANNIVERSARY OF TAPS:
I've been a bit stuck lately, writing-wise. I don't get much into the muse-myth (sparkly ideas landing unbidden on my shoulder) or the notion of writer's block (bricks—unbidden as well— blamming down to squash the sparkle). I'm pretty much of the school that believes that you just pull up your big-girl underpants and get the work done.
One of the things I do to get in the mood when I'm not in the mood is take a little side-trip through my Drafts folder in search of an idea to kick-start my ambition. The Drafts are little baubles that once caught my eye, but didn't quite make the cut on paper. In theory, what once glittered is still gold, but that doesn't always prove to be the case. This example, for instance, which just last night I hauled up from the muck:
No one knew
where the cat came from,
but there it was in
behind the baptismal font,
ready to strike.
Huh????? I have absolutely no idea where that came from, nor do I now find that passage the least bit interesting, but it does get me thinking about baptismal fonts and black cats:
Which gets me thinking about mosaics and Halloween:
Which gets me thinking about witches and food:
Which gets me thinking about television and good food:
Which gets me thinking about France and French cooking:
Which gets me thinking about Julia Child and that poem about her I've been hungry to write . . .
So what have I been stalling around for?
Thanks to Cousin Lori for the sampler!
An unexpected repair to my house has me feeling grumpy. Okay, more than grumpy. Exponentially grumpy. So grumpy that I've been feeling that I don't love my house anymore. My house has betrayed me. My house makes me think I'll never trust it again. The house is a bad marriage, and I want out.
That was yesterday. Today the sun is up, the sky is blue and even though I haven't yet planted the red geraniums in the pot on the porch, it's looking like a red-geranium day. Tra la la la la la la. Pollyanna has come home at last!I'll admit to being a bit of an optimist. Or a hopeful-ist (though some would say delusionist.) And I've never been one to blame a messenger. So I got to thinking about all the things I love about my house. Things which, despite my momentary despair, were all still true when the sun blared up over the hilltops this morning--
THINGS I LOVE ABOUT MY HOUSE:
LOTS OF LIGHT AND SHADOWS TALL ENOUGH FOR A GIRAFFE COOL RAILINGS
-SHAPED SPOT ON TILE ROOM FOR ALL MY JUNK WEIRDLY REFLECTIVE DOORBELL
But what I love best about my house is that
KOBI LOVES IT, TOO!
And if you feel as if you need a little Pollyanna in your life today, check out these videos:
| || |When I was a kid, I loved the ransom notes on the TV detective shows: a piece of grimy paper covered with letters cut out from magazines: 1 million $$ if U ever want 2 see your kid alive again. No cops. Forget the mystery; I wanted paper and scissors and a pile of magazines. I'd be happy cutting letters out to make messages all the livelong day.Which is why, given the chance this past weekend to join Sally Ehrman's Cut-up Poetry workshop at the Northwest Poets' Concord, I jumped at the opportunity to spend the 9 o'clock hour playing cut-and-paste. | |
One hour's precious little time to create a poem from a random source, but Sally had all the tools ready for us to use: blank paper, scissors, glue sticks, and a stack of pages culled from old magazines and books. The timer ratcheted, and we all took to our tasks: cut cut cut arrange arrange glue. And too soon came the end: DING! The final few minutes of the session were dedicated to reading our poems. Mine was nothing to blog about, the ending leaping off a non-sequiturial cliff, but it sure felt good in the making:
| |Ten o-clock and all was well, but turns out there was another joy embedded in the workshop . . .
A few days prior, as I was taking my morning shower, I was obsessively trying to recall the lines from a beloved poem, Percy Bysshe Shelley's "Ozymandias," entirely frustrated with myself for not being able to remember all the end rhymes. But by the time the water was turned off and I'd finished up with the towel dance, my brain was already away on other adventures and I forgot my mission to look up the poem in order to refresh my memory banks.
So what unbounded joy to find among my allotment of 10-or-so workshop pages a sheet torn from an old literature book, all 14 lines of dear "Ozymandias" right there in front of me, right in my hands! The odds of that??I'm thinking I should blame those two vast and trunkless legs of stone for the colossal wreck of my cut-up poem. "Ozymandias" was the first thing I cut out with my scissors on Saturday morning. And I wasn't about to cut it up.