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Archive for September, 2008

By Bob Chrisman


Yesterday evening as I sat in my favorite coffee shop and drank my French press of Irish Breakfast tea, I finished Twilight, Book One of the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer.

In August when I decided to read the series as a result of the red Ravine post My Kid Got Bit By Stephenie Meyer, the library waiting lists for each book spanned anywhere from 18 days to over three months. I placed reserves on all of them, including her new book for adults, and waited.

Fate ordained that I would read Books Two through Four first and then receive Book One. (Not as bad as my experience with Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, where I read the series in reverse order—kind of like a life review of the characters.) In the case of the Twilight Series, it didn’t matter that I hadn’t known how the tale began because each book told a complete and fascinating story.

Sometimes I read long into the night, well past my bedtime. After I finished New Moon (Book Two and the first book that arrived from the library) Meyer had transformed this 56-year-old, full-figured white guy from Missouri, not into a vampire but into a fan. (I still laugh thinking that ybonesy advised me when I told her I was going to read the series, “…just remember it’s written for young adults.” Maybe I should listen to the people who tell me to grow up.)

The stories are classic vampire/werewolf tales, but with enough differences and twists to make them new and refreshing. These vampires can be out in the sun (sort of). They live in the Pacific Northwest, where the sun rarely shines (something I knew to be true for years despite my friends in Washington and Oregon who insist, “But the sun was shining yesterday before you arrived”).

Some of the vampires don’t kill humans to drink their blood—for ethical reasons. The werewolves aren’t really werewolves (but I can’t tell you what they are, since that information doesn’t come out until the final book, Breaking Dawn). They don’t morph into hot-blooded killers only during the full moon and you can’t kill them with silver bullets.

Most impressive, these books are not small. Breaking Dawn is almost 800 pages long. The fact that Ms. Meyer has written books that require an attention span of greater than 15 minutes and that teenagers have read them impresses me beyond words. This woman has lit a fire under her readers, which is now spreading to adults who typically won’t read “young adult” fiction. (My name, by the way, has inched close to the top of the reserved list at my local library for her book targeted to adults, The Host.)

I would have moved blissfully through the world without the knowledge of Stephenie Meyer or the main characters in the Twilight Series books—Edward Cullen, Jacob Black, and Isabella (Bella) Swan—had I ignored the post on red Ravine, but my life would lack a certain richness that these books brought to me. A good story offers more rewards than I can sometimes imagine, and these are good stories. Not once did I feel like I was reading young adult fiction.

If you love vampire stories, read these books. Try to read them in order—Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn—but if that’s not possible, just know that you can start anywhere in the series and not be lost (slightly confused for a short time, maybe, but not lost). You will not be sorry.

Once you’re done, tell me, Are you an Edward or a Jacob fan? You can only pick one.



Bob Chrisman is a Kansas City, Missouri writer whose pieces Hands, Growing Older, and Goat Ranch have all appeared in red Ravine.

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Ready for Take-Off, this angel baby pooch stops to pose before marching on in the Harvest Festival Pet Parade, photos © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Every year in early fall, our little village holds a Harvest Festival. This used to be a farming community, and although many fields have turned into big houses with lawns, you can still find acres of apple orchards and corn and chile crops. Not to mention the good-sized gardens and non-commercial farms that produce a bounty of fruits and vegetables. It’s definitely a time to celebrate.


My favorite part of the Harvest Festival, hands down, is the Pet Parade. The first year Jim and I moved here, we heard that the festival always kicked off with a parade for pets down the main road in the village. I’d never been in a parade before, and something inside me was hankering to walk with our dog, Roger, as observers lining the street cheered and clapped wildly.

I tied a red paisley handkerchief around Roger’s neck and headed to the staging area where parade participants were gathering with dogs, cats, goats, chickens, turkeys, and horses.

Roger, of course, was chomping at the bit. This was the most exciting thing to happen in his life, too. He pulled me from one animal to another, sniffing the spray paint on their coats and their silly wigs, hats, tu-tus, flower arrangements, polka dots, shoes, and tuxedos. Clearly, Roger was underdressed, and I towered two feet above the tallest human participant.

Still, we marched. We smiled and waved. We posed when Jim snapped our photo and then watched him stagger off holding his stomach from laughing so hard.


Nowadays, entire families march in the Pet Parade. This year there was a “wench wagon” with showgirls dressed in velvet corsets sitting in a horse-drawn carriage. (Forget the kids and pets, I’m taking my bosom to the parade!)

There’s still the odd assortment of animals. One year I saw an iguana in its glass terrarium atop a chariot, looking like Cleopatra. This year my favorite was the Chicken-Mobile (a chicken perched on a Playskool car) and the weiner taco (weiner dog in a taco shell). The goat in a straw hat was a stand-out, too.

After the parade everyone scattered for other parts of the festival. Some headed to the food court—all that clapping worked up an appetite for turkey legs and Indian tacos—while others jumped on hay wagons heading in the direction of the three-mile-long corn maze.

We made our way to the Old Church and Casa San Ysidro, where we bought tamales and burritos from a woman who scooped extra ladles of red chile meat onto your plate if you asked.

We took our food to a bench under an old quince tree and talked about how cool it would have been to take Azul and the Toms, or Sony, Otis, Rafael, or even Baby to the Pet Parade.

There was a time when I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Maybe next year.





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“How is it? Beautiful??”

Jim is excited that I’m here. He loves this place.

I’m standing on the deck of a co-worker’s home outside of Seattle, on the Puget Sound. The sky is only a shade lighter than the slate waters. It’s drizzling and I’m worried that my hair will get frizzy. But yes, the hills with their 1950s-style houses in pastel blues, yellows, and pinks remind me of tiered gardens, and through the mist I make out blue-green firs and the beginnings of fall oranges and reds.

“It is beautiful,” I tell him.

We almost moved here, me and Jim, before we got married. It was 1989 and I was a year away from finishing graduate school. I had spent almost eight years of my adult life as a college student and decided to go on for a PhD. I loved college life. 

I wanted to walk briskly all my mornings across green lawns and past a duck pond, have all my days punctuated by the sounds of a chapel bell and students pushing their way out of musty buildings.

I applied to University of Washington. Jim had come here several times to bike the San Juan Islands and Vancouver. More than once he rode down the coast and across to New Mexico. I pictured Seattle as young, hip, and progressive.

Besides, my favorite weather was rain. It made me introspective—gave me melancholy without the sadness. People warned that Seattle’s constant drizzle was different from New Mexico’s infrequent thunderstorms, that I’d outgrow my fondness after a few days. Yet I insisted I’d love it, and if I didn’t, it wasn’t for forever. Just long enough to get me to another university to teach.

I got to work pulling together my application. I was so confident I’d be accepted that I told Jim to put in for a job transfer with REI, the company he worked for back then. I didn’t bother to visit the university doctoral program or talk to its advisors. I simply sent off my package and waited to hear back.

In the end, Jim got the transfer and I got rejected.







It’s strange how life takes you in directions you don’t intend to go. Choices get made for you, and then you make new ones.

I remember calling the head of the doctoral program after I got my rejection letter—it was the first time I talked to him. He told me they could accept only two students, that the competition was fierce. He mentioned a young woman from Stanford with a 4.0 GPA. I cried for days, sure that my life was ruined.

After graduation I took a job with the local university. The bubble burst after six years. I discovered the college campus was not the place for me—I strained against the bureacracy and emphasis on credentials.

In all those years since that initial sting of rejection, I never pined for Seattle. I filed it away as a city I’d someday like to visit. We talked about coming here for our honeymoon, biking all around, but Jim hurt his wrist and we took a road trip to Jackson, Wyoming instead.

Now here I am. Did I really once dream about getting my doctorate in Seattle and becoming a professor? If it weren’t for Jim’s excitement about my finally being here, I might have forgotten about it altogether.

Nah. I don’t even know why I said that.

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Wired, The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Wired, The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




F. Scott Fitzgerald was born September 24th, 1896 on Cathedral Hill in St. Paul, Minnesota. I wrote a post last year celebrating his birthday. When I reread it last week, I made a note to drop a comment there, a Happy Birthday wish. Then I watched Bill Moyers Journal last weekend, and the short comment took a longer turn.


Moyers began the Journal by quoting a few lines from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, about his protagonists, the Buchanans:

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.


The characters were fresh for me. I saw The Great Gatsby at the Guthrie Theater a few summers ago. Moyers continued:


It’s happening all over again, except this time Tom and Daisy are the titans and speculators on Wall Street who took the money and ran. Their bubble burst, as it did in the roaring twenties, leaving the mess for you and me, our children and our grandchildren, to clean up. The big bad government — so despised in Wall Street boardrooms and beltway think tanks — has stepped in, hoping to save capitalism from the capitalists…



Here we are — cleaning up the mess. I was reminded of our recent Writing Topic, Where Do You Go In Times Of Crisis?. We are a two-tiered culture, steeped in debt: a wealthy culture that privatizes gains and socializes losses; a poorer culture of working class, middle, and lower income people, forced to take more and more personal financial risks to stay afloat.

Bill Moyers Journal digs into some of the deeper social issues behind the current financial crisis. And how everyday people — people like us — are going to pay a heavy price. I’m not good with numbers. I don’t understand the details of financial wizardry. But his words made sense to me, and inspired critical thinking about the future of finance in this country.


Fitzgerald, The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Fitzgerald, The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Fitzgerald, The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Who wins and who loses? New York Times financial columnists, Gretchen Morgenson and Floyd Norris shed some light on that question. And Moyers interviewed former Nixon White House strategist, and political and economic critic, Kevin Phillips on the “7 sharks in the tank with the economy.” Phillips, author of Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, said financialization has made us dependant on an industry that’s lost half its marbles, and strapped us with debt unprecedented anywhere else in the world.

The experts also talked about how the state of our money union does not play politics. Reaganomics may have started the economic downslide. But Democratic and Republican administrations have both contributed to the problem. According to Phillips, “the flush of the Democrats (the labor movement) carries a lunchbox; the new soul of the Democratic Party wears a pinstripe suit.” And neither of the current candidates is addressing the reality of the situation. Campaign promises are not going to bail us out this time.


Face To A Name, The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Face To A Name, The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Face To A Name, The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


The show has the perfect climax — a personal essay on the decision to tear down Yankee Stadium. How the new stadium will be subsidized by the public with tax-free bonds. How the greed and disregard for local community trickles down to neighborhoods, cities, and towns across this country:

And so this Sunday evening we will bid farewell to dear old Yankee Stadium, and await the new colossus to rise from its ruins. It will cast its majestic shadow across one of the country’s poorest neighborhoods, whose residents will watch from the outside as suburban drivers avail themselves of 9,000 new or refurbished parking spaces. Never mind all the exhaust, even though in this part of town respiratory disease is already so high they call it “asthma alley.”


I thought of the new Twins stadium in Minnesota, the same stadium that we the people voted over and over again not to build. Its skeleton now rises like a Phoenix from a giant parking lot behind the Target Center, and towers over a small downtown shelter that feeds and houses the homeless.

I can’t help but wonder — is anyone going to step up and take responsibility for all this debt? How have American lifestyles and personal debt contributed to the problem? Where are our priorities? When will we get back to supporting what is important and vital to a culture – community centers, education for children, the Arts, having enough food on the table, and enough money to live through old age.

Have you been able to save for the future? How is your retirement growing? It might not surprise you to know — not all of us are struggling. (Are we really entertaining a bailout?) I was stunned by this list from Moyers:


  • Lehman Brothers - in the last 5 years of his tenure, CEO of Lehman Brothers, Richard S. Fuld, Jr. earned $354 million
  • Merrill Lynch – the current chair who has been on job for 9 months, John A. Thain, pocketed a $15 million dollar signing bonus. His predecessor, the retired E. Stanley O’Neal, pocketed $161 million after the company reported an 8 billion loss in single quarter.
  • Bear Stearns – former CEO James Cayne sold his stake for more than $60 million after the Bear Stearns stock collapse
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – former heads, Daniel H. Mudd & Richard F. Syron, received 24 million combined in severance packages on top of their salaries


Retreating back into their money. I think there are more than 7 sharks in the tank with the economy, and someone has surely lost their marbles. The question is — who’s counting?




           Face, The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    West, The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

               Face, West,  The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota,
               October 2007, all photos © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey.
               All rights reserved.



So we beat on boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

-last sentence of The Great Gatsby, inscribed on the tombstone of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre at their grave in Rockville, Maryland


VIDEO LINKS:

BILL MOYERS JOURNAL - Headlines of Gloom or Doom? Wall Street Woes Around the Globe – September 19th 2008

KEVIN PHILLIPS - discussion with author of Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, and former Nixon White House strategist and political and economic critic (great sense of humor)

WINNERS AND LOSERS – segment with New York Times business and financial columnists Gretchen Morgenson and Floyd Norris as they discuss who wins and who loses in the financial turmoil

YANKEE STADIUM: A BILL MOYERS ESSAY - great essay on the demise of Yankee Stadium and how it relates to the current economic situation



-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, September 25th, 2008

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By Robin*


When I think of the word “crisis,” I’m reminded of an earlier life. Not in the sense of Shirley McLaine living past lives but in the sense of my years before and my years after my own life-changing crisis. It was the ultimate crisis, the one that prepared me for every other one—even as they come for me now.

The old saying, “God doesn’t give you any more than you can handle”—well, it’s not one I buy in to. I believe we torture and smear ourselves up in our own personal crises and then God pulls us out of the muck. If we’re willing. I am surrounded by “muck survivors,” and I promise you, God had nothing to do with the pain inflicted on each of them. But they are all survivors, and thankfully, so am I.

I grew up the youngest of three daughters, separated in age from my sisters by the eleven and seven years between us. My father, the best man I ever knew, worked at three jobs to provide for us. Seems now like he worked the better part of his life. My mother, a woman with extraordinary Movie Star looks, suffered from mental illness—schizophrenia.

My beautiful eldest sister left home at 18 to marry a man she did not love. She sacrificed her dreams and her body to find some form of unattainable inner peace. She searches for it even now. My middle sister ran away a month later, to escape the private Hell—our own dark secret—we lived in. She was only 15-1/2 but she was strong and grew into a fearless warrior of the streets. My father would frantically search for her and then drag her back to “safety,” only to find her missing again. Finally he gave in.

When you’re nine and left behind, you have no choices really. You’re too young to make any. I clung to my father whenever he was home, taking in all of his kindness and his unspoken heartache. He did what he thought was best for me at the time and I did everything I could to please him.

When he wasn’t there, I was left in my Mother’s “care” and I was just too small to know how to fight back. (He later discovered that his youngest daughter with the beaming smile was just not strong enough.) I learned to turn inward, to hold it all in, trying to escape the madness that surrounded this terrified, shy little girl.

I learned to never ask for help, never to draw attention to myself, never to tell anyone about my home-life, never to show anything but absolute harmony and my big wide grin. I faked my way through school, church, and every friendship I managed to cling to. I survived by performing, as if in a hideous play that never ended.

Eventually, blessedly, I grew up, moved out (that’s a story in itself) and scraped by with what money I had. I landed a good job, a nice home, and a wonderful partner who I thought I would hang on to forever. I had done everything by the book—working hard, not making waves, and never, ever showing a sign of weakness.

Things were going well until at 30, my “perfected life” took a nosedive and I lost my forever partner. I was tougher by then, plus I was still young, so I dusted myself off and kept my head high knowing I had weathered far worse.

Within a month, I got laid off from my job. A fingers-tightening-around-my-throat panic started to seep in. Within six months I lost my beautiful home and everything else that I thought defined me as a successful, “normal” person. I moved in with a friend, and for the first time in my adult life I had to admit defeat.

From there, it was a small step from a life with fulfillment to a life without meaning and I became totally enveloped in the old terror of the past. I got up, ate, went back to bed, slept and maintained that cruel existence without understanding what was happening to me, nor knowing I needed help—badly.

There’s an insidious thing called “depression” that eats at your soul, making you feel unworthy. Most of us have been down that road at some time in our lives. But within my family tree, there’s a villain that is far worse—extreme psychotic depression. If your life takes that road, chances are you will not return whole, if you return at all.

At 30, I knew nothing of either ailment and when voices began to fill my head, they seemed to have an answer for finally eliminating my crisis and all my pain. Oh, I fought them with everything my will had left, but my will was scarred and battered. Eventually, I lost the battle.

I stood at the mirror and watched another person—a weathered, beaten version of myself, older in body yet terrified like the little girl—put her hand to her mouth, repeatedly, and swallow the pills. I was helpless to stop her.

I awoke in a strange bed with no recollection of where I was or how I had arrived there. I remember a woman talking to me, her voice full of fear, saying she had just driven her car into a tree but somehow survived and that she would try again. I was later taken to a room to be evaluated by a Doctor who gently told me that I was in the psychiatric ward, in a wing for the “less dangerous,” and that I had survived swallowing over 400 pills. I believe the words he used were “a damn lucky walking miracle.” The pills had no lasting physical effects.

Here’s what happened in my biggest moment of crisis: everything I knew before that moment became my past and every minute aftewards became my future. My future, now crystal clear, was all the life I had in front of me, come what may.

I was released within 48 hours, completely altered from the ghostly human that had arrived, reborn as someone new. As God as my witness, from that moment to this one now, I have never looked back for an answer or questioned why I survived. I knew.

There were 21 people in the entire world that knew this story. They have honored me these past 20 years with their protection, their silence, and more important, their love. And now, there are more who know.

Today, I take each crisis as it is. I deal with it the best way I know how, and I move on stronger than before. Everything from that moment taught me how to live, how to forgive, and to have absolute faith in miracles. And as I age, I grow younger. I’m now a laughing child whose heart is free.




Robin (*not her real name) is a friend and fellow creative spirit. She wrote this piece in response to red Ravine post, WRITING TOPIC – WHERE DO YOU GO IN TIMES OF CRISIS? Because of the personal nature of her story, Robin chose to use a pseudonym.

Here’s what she had to say about writing this piece: It was tough to write those words, but I thought maybe anonymously, I might be able reach someone who’s in trouble or thinks they’re alone in their own crisis. People close to the edge are not as easily recognizable as the general public seems to think.

Thank you, Robin, for sharing your story with red Ravine.

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Half Shadow, Half Light, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Fall Equinox, September 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Green Loves Blue, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Fall Equinox, September 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Blue Rock, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Fall Equinox, September 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Equinox Goddess (Turning), Minneapolis, Minnesota, Fall Equinox, September 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Equinox Goddess (Turning), Half Shadow, Half Light, Blue Rock, Green Loves Blue, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Fall Equinox, September 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



It is the Fall Equinox. The veils between the worlds are thinner. There is an opening that allows us to consciously engage the Doorways to the Mysteries — to set intentions. Clarity — what do you want to come to pass in your life? Twice each year, no matter where we are on this Earth, the Sun rises and sets exactly over the Equator, tracking exactly due East and due West.


According to Cayelin K Castell at Shamanic Astrology, the Ancients knew what they were doing when they built an Equinox corridor in Chaco Canyon:


The ancient architects and builders of Chaco Canyon (in New Mexico) were inspired to build what is essentially now explained as some sort of equinox corridor in their main building complex. This corridor marks the equinox Sunrise, tracks the Sun’s journey through the sky, and then marks the equinox Sun set. This corridor was designed to capture the So Below experience of this As Above bi-annual event, giving us another potent clue about the importance of this seasonal timing. This understanding may inspire each of us to tune in and discover what significance the equinox timings represent for us individually and collectively.


It only takes a few steps into Chaco Canyon to realize the Ancient Peoples, the Land and the mythology, are as grounded and rooted as they are otherworldly. But are we living in such different times now? Doesn’t every day offer us the opportunity for forgiveness, for mercy, for compassion? For one more chance to embrace our better selves?


There were no formerly heroic times, and there was no formerly pure generation. There is no one here but us chickens, and so it has always been:  a people busy and powerful, knowledgeable, ambivalent, important, fearful, and self-aware; a people who scheme, promote, deceive, and conquer; who pray for their loved ones, and long to flee misery and skip death.

It is a weakening and discoloring idea, that rustic people knew God personally once upon a time — or even knew selflessness or courage or literature — but that it is too late for us. In fact, the absolute is available to everyone in every age. There never was a more holy age than ours, and never a less.  

- Annie Dillard, from For The Time Being, Chapter Three, Random House, 1999


The year has seemed chaotic, serious, negative, uncertain. In this country, we are in the middle of a tense election process, the war in Iraq drags on, and towering financial structures are crumbling around us. But we have to keep going. Every piece of shadow that covers a crack in the sidewalk is an opening — because it also covers the mineral, the gem.

Maybe the Philosopher’s Stone is buried. Maybe it hasn’t seen the light of day in 3 million years. It doesn’t matter. We all have access to everything that came before us. And I agree with Annie – there is no time like Now.


There is no less holiness at this time — as you are reading this — than there was the day the Red Sea parted, or that day in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as Ezekiel was a captive by the river Chebar, when the heavens opened and he saw visions of God.

There is no whit less enlightenment under the tree by your street than there was under the Buddha’s bo tree. There is no whit less might in heaven or on earth than there was the day Jesus said “Maid, arise” to the centurion’s daughter, or the day Peter walked on water, or the night Mohammed flew to heaven on a horse.

In any instant the sacred may wipe you with its finger. In any instant the bush may flare, your feet may rise, or you may see a bunch of souls in a tree. In any instant, you may avail yourself of the power to love your enemies; to accept failure, slander, or the grief of loss; or to endure torture.

Purity’s time is always now.

– Annie Dillard, from For The Time Being, Chapter Three, Random House, 1999


-posted on red Ravine on the Fall Equinox, Monday, September 22nd, 2008

-related to post: 8 Minutes

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Scratchy Moon (Against The Grain), a Moon Mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Scratchy Moon (Against The Grain), a Moon Mandala, oil pastel & colored pencil, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






Against The Grain (August Moon)


Yellow flower moon
the corn is in silken maize
8th moon, plum moon, hot moon

shedding summer feathers,
Red cherries turn to black,
the drying up moon –

After the berries ripen on the mountain
and the geese in chevron begin to fly
I’m dazed, standing here in human confusion
crying, what next?






Black Curve, a Moon Mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Pink Curve, a Moon Mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Pink Curve, a Moon Mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

August Moon, a Moon Mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.August Moon, a Moon Mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.August Moon, a Moon Mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, September 21st, 2008

-related to posts: The Many Moons Of July (Digging Deeper), winter haiku trilogy, Coloring Mandalas, Squaring The Circle — July Mandalas (Chakras & Color)

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I have a photo of me in Ray Bans and a bright green bikini top, climbing sandstone rocks on a beach in Costa Rica. I’m smiling, teeth white against my dark skin. On the back of the photo, these words in my handwriting: March 1996, for Dee, so you’ll know what your mama was up to six months after you were born.

Rosa from work snapped the shot. She and Kevin and I were on a two-week trip to Central America. Guatemala and El Salvador the first week, weekend at Manuel Antonio, and the second week in San José. Rosa and Kevin went on to Honduras and Panamá, while I flew back home to be with my baby.

It’s a long story, how I ended up in Central America when Dee was only six months old. Suffice to say that it had to do with a grant proposal I submitted on behalf of the university I worked for when I was pregnant. The proposal was funded, and I had to follow through with the trip or risk losing the money.

As with most international travel, it was Hell getting mentally prepared. A jet plane crashed in the region weeks before I left, killing everyone on board. All I could think was, I’m going to die and never see my baby grow up. Of course, once I got there I was pulled into the color and smells and sounds. I loved it.

Between appointments, I had to run to my hotel room and power on my little battery-operated breast pump. Waoo-waoo-waoo-waoo, it went, like a sick cow, for twenty minutes. I sat on the bed with my blouse unbuttoned and tried not to worry about whether I’d dry up by the time I got home.

Later, walking past indigenous women sitting on the sidewalk, infants in bundles on their backs or in their arms, I pictured my watery milk running down the sink and wished I could pick up a baby and feed it.

“Ew, that’s disgusting!” Rosa said when I told her what I wanted to do.

That trip, Dee refused to take the bottle. Typical conversation those first days I called home:

     Has she taken it yet?
     Nope, just spits it out.
     My God, what are you gonna do?
     Everyone says she’ll take it when she gets hungry enough.
     Have you tried other nipples?
     Yeah, went through four new ones today.
     I’m sorry.
     It’s alright. She’ll be fine. Don’t worry.
Click.

Everyone was wrong. Dee never took the bottle. No other options left, Jim finally introduced rice cereal.






I was thinking about that trip yesterday. The postcards I’d sent from Vietnam had just arrived, and I remembered how before I left for Central America I prepared a postcard a day for Jim to read to Dee. I didn’t actually send them; I left them for him to show her, a new one each day.

I went on a lot of trips while both my babies were young. I left the university when Dee was about a year old; new job yet one thing remained the same—still plenty of travel.

I remember sending baggies of frozen breast milk over dry ice for Em when I took a week-long training course in Eugene, Oregon. I became expert at pumping in mothers’ rooms at work and in airports. Life revolved around finding the best place and time to run my little machine.


I pumped milk in the Portland airport. I used the private kiddy bathroom, which had a plug so I could use electric. After 15 minutes, someone jiggled the door and it turned out to be a cleaning woman. At first she scolded me for using the kiddy bathroom; apparently a woman had complained about not having access to the changing table. But when I explained that I was pumping and that I appreciated the privacy, she seemed to understand.

I’m coming home with something for everyone: Em’s milk, a watch with a floating dinosaur for Dee, a Nike fleece sweatshirt for Jim.


Before we had kids, Jim and I made the decision that one of us would stay home full-time to take care of them. We both came from families where a parent stayed home, and we wanted to do the same thing for our kids if we could afford it. Which we could, barely at first. Jim got the role of stay-at-home Dad, and I got to pursue my dream of working in a job where I could travel.

But it wasn’t easy being away from my children. All the time I was on the road, I wondered if they would grow up and resent my being gone. Yet when I was home I was a present parent, more so, I imagined, than dads in my same situation. Bone tired, I took over the moment I got home. Evenings and weekends were always mine.

My girls are both old enough now that I can see they’ve not been damaged. On the contrary, they are bold and adventurous from spending formative years with a parent who let them walk on roofs versus one with a fear of heights. They love being outdoors, think nothing of catching snakes and frogs, and are up for long hikes.

They also want to get to know this world. “Take me to Vietnam,” they tell me. I promise them that I will. Hopefully next summer.

They’re in for a wild experience.




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Viet Nam 9000 -- Stamp Of Approval, postcard from ybonesy, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Viet Nam 9000 — Stamp Of Approval, postcard from ybonesy, Saigon to Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






After a long day at work, I opened the mouth of the black mailbox this afternoon to find ybonesy’s beautiful postcard. It is dated 2 Sept 08 and postmarked 05-09-2008. I guess that means it took 16 days and nights to float from ybonesy’s hand in Saigon to a little white cottage just outside Minneapolis.

Thanks, ybonesy. You made my day. I’m bananas for you, friend!






         Postcard From Vietnam. Woman Rides A Cycle In Ho Chi Minh City, original photographer Radhika Chalasani, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Postcard From Vietnam. Woman Rides A Cycle In Ho Chi Minh City, original photographer Radhika Chalasani, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

        Postcard From Vietnam, Woman Rides A Cycle In Ho Chi Minh City,
        original photographer © Radhika Chalasani, photo of postcard 
        © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


        Soon The Sun Will Be Up, postcard from ybonesy, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Soon The Sun Will Be Up, postcard from ybonesy, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Soon The Sun Will Be Up, postcard from ybonesy, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, September 18th, 2008

-related to posts: The Dying Art Of Letter Writing (Postcards From The Edge), Thank You For Keeping An Eye On Me, Mary

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In personal crisis, my first response is to go inside. That’s when a turtle shell really comes in handy. I’ve had several knee-bending crises in my lifetime. They come about once or twice a decade. The earliest I remember as an adult was after I had moved to Montana in my early twenties. I had a few friends but no job; I was plum out of money. I was scared. I cried myself to sleep every night.

I didn’t own a car. I biked through Missoula, Montana on an old $20 Schwinn 10-speed I had picked up at a garage sale. It was blood red and welded at the crossbars. I bought a used red carcoat at Good Will. I wore black corduroys and a sturdy pair of Vasque hiking boots. I kept going.

I was taught by my parents that if you take the next right step, have faith, eventually things will turn. I took a big risk moving to Montana by myself. It was a dream. I couldn’t turn my back on it. In talking to friends, I found places to go to get help. But I waited way too long to ask. This is another family trait — waiting until we are absolutely devastated to reach out for help. Is it shame? Is it fear? In my case, a little of both.

I did finally call my parents and told them I was in dire straits. They sent me lots of love and $200; that was all it took. I used the money wisely – food and shelter. I finally landed a job as a gas station cashier making $2.50 an hour. I worked until midnight where I closed up by myself and rode my bike home across wintry black city streets.

Jobs were scarce in small-town Missoula. I wanted to better myself. I went to an employment agency and took the necessary skills test to land a job as a dental tool sharpener on Reserve Street. It paid well and wasn’t as physically demanding as some of the U.S. Forest Service jobs that many Montanans had at the time. I worked there for quite a few years before I moved to Minnesota.

My instinct is to go inside. To weather the storm alone. To keep secrets. Relationship crises are harder to me than economical. Busting out of personal relationships is painful and haunting. The endings of relationships have given me bleeding ulcers, the body’s version of a broken heart. I like to think I am wiser now. But it is best to maintain humility. We are all the same distance from the ditch.

In global crises, I am saddened. I send prayers to those in need, but I try to act locally. There is so much suffering in the world. Why does it take a catastrophe for us to notice? In personal crisis, I turn to family, to prayer, to therapy, to recovery. I have bottomed out and been willing to do the work to keep going. I have also holed up, frozen and scared, afraid to do the work. I’ve gotten stuck.

That’s where some kind of practice comes in. Something that takes me back to center. Writing every day. Going to a meeting. Calling and talking to someone I trust. I’m not good at emergencies. If someone is bleeding or needs immediate medical attention, I can be squeamish and fearful. But over the long haul, I will stick with you. I’m a sticker.

Last night we watched In The Land Of Women. It’s about a 20-something erotica writer, Carter, who after breaking up with his famous model girlfriend, moves from Los Angeles to Michigan to live with his aging grandmother for a while in hopes of writing a novel. He lives across the street from Sarah Hardwicke (Meg Ryan), her husband (who is having an affair), and their two daughters; at that exact moment in time, Sarah discovers she has breast cancer.

I turned to Liz just yesterday, “If something happened to me, if I got sick, would you stick it out with me?” She looked at me with her kind blue eyes, “Absolutely,” she said. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“I’d stick, too,” I said. Then I smiled, blinking back tears, and turned to watch the end of the movie. The truth is you never know what you will do in a situation until it happens to you. But faith, and the face of that smiling Buddha, teach me that things will turn. Sit like the mountain. Prayer, practice, community, can help navigate treacherous and rocky terrain. But I have to do my part.

Show up. Continue. Give back. Reach out. I still battle with waiting too long to ask for help. But I am getting better. And to anyone who has stood by me along the way — thank you.


-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, September 18th, 2008

-related to Topic post:  WRITING TOPIC – WHERE DO YOU GO IN TIMES OF CRISIS?

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I have to say, I’m not terribly saavy when it comes to finances. One of my first bosses once told me that you should hold on to stock as long as you can. Boy was that bad advice.

I’m thinking now about the crash of 2001. I remember D., how she’d accumulated thousands of shares of company stock. She was going to sell them off when she retired and go to her hometown in Georgia, create a foundation, build a school, give back. Then the stock went from $140-something a share to $17 a share. When it hit $13, she thought of selling. Then it hit $10 and her stockbroker called, panicked. He said it was going to drop to zero. She sold it every last bit of it, thousands and thousands of shares. The point at which she sold happened to be the lowest it reached before slowly climbing back up.

Sell high, buy low. That’s what they say. Some people, people like me, aren’t built for stock markets. We don’t have a good sense of where the high point is. Some people are built for other markets, slapping the skin of a melon to tell if its ripe, or knowing how to contrast colors, or being able to predict whether the baby in your belly is a boy or a girl. Odd that I should be the one in our family to be the money person. It’s not a role I relish.

I wonder what Dad thinks about the financial crisis. I wonder if it’s going to affect him much. I think we all lost money, although one could argue the money never really was ours to lose, just money on paper, back in 2001. That’s the thing about stocks and equity. It’s all paper money. Like those dollars you get in Monopoly, orange-yellow for the $20 bill, baby blue for $5, yellow for $1.

Honestly, I can still see and smell all of that game, remember which properties cost the most and which were good buys. Park Avenue and Broadway were on the side of the board you never wanted to land on. I always went for infrastructure—Reading Railroad and Water Works. Those seemed solid and cheap, I think it only cost $75 to buy most of them.

I’m trying to remember now, what little doodad did I pick for my Monopoly self? Was it the Scottish terrier? Or was there a big high heel shoe, a woman’s shoe? For some reason that rings a bell. I liked things that had denseness to them, none of those hollow ones. I would never had gone for the thimble or the top hat. I liked weight, something I could feel in my hand.

Where I go in times of financial crisis? Certainly not to my stockbroker. I won’t call him for a while, assuming he still has his job. I don’t want to know the damage, and I’m certainly not going to sell low like D. I’ll wait for the value to grow again, if it grows again. It did after 2001. Call me in ten years and once it grows, I’ll probably take it all out. Never do stocks again. They’re too light-weight, like the thimble in Monopoly, not enough meat on their bones. If I could invest in dirt, I would, and I suppose that’s what land and buildings are all about, although those don’t seem like a good risk at this point either.

When I’m in personal crisis, I go inward. I’m thinking now of each night when I go to bed, how I tuck my hands into the waistband of my pajama bottoms. I go to warmth, pull my arms in tight so they touch the rest of my body. Some day when I’m old I will be folded in and tiny, all of me caving in towards my heart. That’s the place I go to. To my heart, to where I can protect it.

If it’s a family crisis, I go to my parents. I go to my siblings, the place where I feel the most comfortable. The place I grew up. But if the crisis is my very own, I deal with it on my own. It’s just how I am.



-related to post WRITING TOPIC – WHERE DO YOU GO IN TIMES OF CRISIS?

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Smiling Buddha, statue in a Buddhist temple in Cai Be, Vietnam,
August 31, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




Today chatting with a friend, talk turns to the financial crisis. The stock market dropped over 500 points in a single day earlier this week, and major financial institutions are on the brink of collapse. Am I worried? Yes. Is it going to get worse? Probably. Have I looked at the value of my 401(k) to see what the damage is? Hell no!

Nor do I have plans to. Where I go in times of financial crisis is to the future. One foot after the other, I keep moving forward. If it’s totally out of my control and the damage is done, I try not to worry (although, how can I not?). The truth is, I do my best not to think about it.

Call it optimism, faith, or naiveté—I admit to possessing all three. You could say my theme song is Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t worry, be happy.

I don’t mean to make light of any of this. I know people are financially devastated. Old people living off retirement accounts, people on fixed incomes, and all those folks who not only don’t have the luxury of a 401(k) but who will also feel the pain in other ways—rising prices, home foreclosures, job loss. Often, denial just doesn’t work as a coping mechanism.

How do you respond to crisis? And do you respond differently if the crisis is personal versus when it’s happening outside of you?

Each person handles crisis in his or her own way. If the crisis is dangerous in nature—living through violence or trauma—professional intervention may be necessary. Do you seek help as soon as you know you need it, or do you wait until you’ve reached a point of total despair? And when crisis is manageable through your own devices—prayer, meditation, action, avoidance—what measures do you take?







John F. Kennedy once said, When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters—one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.








I’ve been lucky or blessed. Maybe both. I’ve only had to deal with personal crisis (as opposed to this current financial crisis) one time in my adult life. Oddly, I found that I acted rather than avoided in that instance.

I did everything I could to take the bull by the horns and steer it in a different direction. I also sought solace in family, and when the going got really rough and I got really scared, I prayed.

Think of the different crises you’ve experienced in your life. Did you deny? Sink into despair? Act? Did you turn to God?

Do you see crisis as a moment of torment or a moment of opportunity? Or both?

Where do you go in times of crisis? Write, for 15 minutes, no stopping.



Crises refine life. In them you discover what you are.
                                                                      ~Allan K. Chalmers




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By Carol Tombers



Shamanic Series 1, Egg tempera with earth pigments on Arches Rag 400 lb. paper, 23″x30″, painting © 2008 by Carol Tombers. All rights reserved.



It is my desire for color that calls me to the studio. Essentially, color is a vibration and its energy is stored in the mineral pigment. I am drawn to put those different vibrations next to each other and listen to how they speak to one another. And I am curious to bring together colors that are rich beyond daily visual experience.

Painting is like a meditation for me. It almost always produces a calm and alert state of mind, and puts me in touch with a universal sense of well being. It hasn’t always been like this. For many years the primary test was a struggle with what subject matter to depict.

Now I try to include all of the subject matter that interests me at once, and the challenge becomes how to represent it in a way that might be meaningful to the viewer. The image, then, is closer to how I experience the world and this gives me a sense of satisfaction.



Shamanic Series 4, Egg tempera with earth pigments on Arches Rag 400 lb. paper, 23″x30″, painting © 2008 by Carol Tombers. All rights reserved.



Five years ago I began to take classes in Medieval egg tempera painting from a master icon painter in the Russian Orthodox tradition. The theology underlying the images engages me in a mythological way rather than a spiritual way. My own studio painting changed as I began to understand that every aspect of the painted icon is reflective of a particular concept of the theological tradition. No brush stroke is made, nor color mixed, that it not significant to the theology.

For example, when an icon is gilded, the artist first applies bole, a mixture of red clay and glue, to the prepared surface. The bole (essentially dirt) symbolizes the most base aspects of human nature. The bole is polished to a mirror-like smoothness, a symbol of the spiritual work of the human. Next, the icon maker breathes a deep breath onto the bole to make it tacky before laying on the 24K gold leaf, a symbol of divine perfection. The idea of these materials symbolizing a spiritual process inspired me to put my personal mythology into my work.

About this same time I began to study shamanism, first in the tradition of the Mapuche people of Chile, and later in a more general way. It is through shamanic “journeys” and other meditation practices that I come to the imagery of my paintings.



Shamanic Series 3, Egg tempera with earth pigments on Arches Rag 400 lb. paper, 23″x30″, painting © 2008 by Carol Tombers. All rights reserved.



The paint I use is made from “earth pigments.” These minerals and plants are ground and mixed with egg yolk, water, and a drop of vinegar to preserve it. The beauty of egg tempera is that it is translucent and that light passes through the paint and bounces off of the white ground, giving an effect of a painting that is illuminated from within.

The pigment can be laid down on the painting in a pool of water so that the different mineral colors fall to the surface of the painting in patterns similar to the bottom of a dry riverbed. Up close a tension can be seen between the various pigments; but stepping back your eye blends the color together to see it unified. So there is an exciting variation in the appearance of the materials, depending on proximity.



Shamanic Series 5, Egg tempera with earth pigments on Arches Rag 400 lb. paper, 23″x30″, painting © 2008 by Carol Tombers. All rights reserved.



To support my studio work, I make color studies, practice brush strokes, and collect color combinations. I paint about six hours at a time, two or three times a week. I look at other paintings. I keep painting. I learn about what other creative people think about. I keep a journal of color combinations and their recipes, lists of books to read, and images to track down on the web. I don’t often listen to music while I paint because I want the right hemisphere of my brain available for painting. But I do listen to audio books and pod casts while I work.

I was listening to a dialogue between Leonard Cohen and Philip Glass from the Aurora Forum at Stanford University. Leonard Cohen said you (artists) have to keep going because it isn’t until near the end of the work that the brilliance of it comes out. So I urge my strategic mind to fixate on color combinations and other art elements and principles, rather than the evaluation of my work in a realm beyond my control. This allows me to keep going.



Shamanic Series 2, Egg tempera with earth pigments on Arches Rag 400 lb. paper, 23″x30″, painting © 2008 by Carol Tombers. All rights reserved.



About Carol:  Carol Tombers was born and raised in Minnesota. She began her artistic career at the age of eight by painting a picture of the garage on plywood with house paint. Later she earned a BFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design and an MA from the University of St. Thomas. She is especially delighted by travel, and has done visual research most recently in Barcelona and Bogotá.

Carol has taught visual art for ten years at The Blake School and will begin a seven-month sabbatical in January 2009. During that time she will be studying historical color systems and painting in Mexico and Colombia. Her work has been shown in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei, Seoul, and Ohio.



To learn more about the Russian-Byzantine Tradition of Icon Painting visit The Prosopon School of Iconology. To learn more about shamanic healing in the Mapuche tradition visit Luzclara — Chilean Medicine Woman.

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Georgia Peach, North Augusta, South Carolina, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Georgia Peaches, small roadside market near North Augusta, South Carolina, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.











boiled peanuts, okra;
the whole wide world in a bite
of fresh Georgia peach












Post Script:  Special thanks to my step-dad — well, I call him Daddy. But some call him George, and some call him Robbie, and some call him Big Daddy, and Liz calls him Sweet Lou — for carting us around Georgia and South Carolina the last few summers. This year he took us to this little roadside stand for fresh watermelon, okra, corn, figs, peaches and boiled peanuts.

He also came to meet Liz at the airport with Mom and me, gave her a big hug when she arrived from Atlanta, and another one when she got on the plane to fly back to Minneapolis. I hope he knows how much I appreciate his kindness, his big heart, and the way he drove Liz, Mom, and me around so that Liz could see and hear about my old childhood haunts. (This is one of those cases where 1000 words of history from my parents is worth more than a single photograph.)

After Daddy left to drive to Tennessee for the funeral of his brother, and then on to Pennsylvania to help take care of my brother, Mom and I stayed on a while longer. We took one more late afternoon trip to the roadside stand the night before we left, and bought fresh boiled peanuts to cart back to my brothers, sister, and sister-in-law in Pennsylvania.

While Mom tasted a fresh fig, the feisty Korean woman who runs the stand with her husband told me that for the last two or three decades she has farmed the land and made the South her home. She loves it there. And forever her home it will be.



-posted on red Ravine, Friday, September 12th, 2008

-related to post: haiku (one-a-day

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Dad in Le Mans, France, two months after the Normandy
invasion, 1944. Photographer unknown. All rights reserved.




Usually it’s Mom I call but this time I ask for Dad. When I ask him what he’s doing he says he is playing Sudoku even though he should be ironing shirts for the trip to Denver.

My parents haven’t been to Denver for a couple of years. Janet is coming to pick them up. They’ll be gone almost a week.

“Will you stop in Costilla?” I ask.

He says they will, and this time they’ll also stop in Ft. Garland. There is a World War II memorial there, and my dad’s Uncle John’s name is on the wall. His brother Onofre’s was supposed to be on there, too, but for some reason it didn’t make it.

“We’re also going to see Nena,” he says. Uncle Onofre’s kids, they all have nicknames. It drives me crazy because they use their first and middle names, plus the nicknames. Nena is Magdalena. She only has two names.

“Did you go to the funeral?” Dad asks. He’s talking about Onofre now.

“Da-ad,” I say, “yes, remember?!?”

“Oh, that’s right, you drove. And who else came with us?”

“Patty,” I tell him.

“Oh, right, and Janet came down from Denver.”

“Dad, don’t go losing your memory on me now.”

God, please don’t let him slip away like that. He’s already a little viejo. Don’t let him lose his memory. Onofre died in spring. The wisteria froze, big grape clusters whithered brown overnight. Don’t let Dad become the wisteria, frozen after a too-warm February.

“Why isn’t your name on the memorial?” I ask.

“We already moved to Taos,” he says, “and the memorial’s only for people in Costilla County, Colorado.”


In a box in my writing room, I keep a picture of my father. I have many pictures of him and Uncle Nemey, from the war. Nemey was in the Navy, Dad the Army.

The Normandy invasion happened June 6, 1944. My father knows all those dates. About two months later, after camping out for weeks in an orchard, his unit finally got to go into town and take showers. They dressed in uniform and walked all around Le Mans.

There’s Dad, standing with legs a broad shoulder’s width apart. He looks happy.

“I was happy,” he tells me.

My parents have another picture, of Dad and another soldier with a young woman who happened to be walking by that day in Le Mans. We joke that she was Dad’s girlfriend. Nah, nah, he always has to tell us, we didn’t even know her!

“Little did she know she’d become part of our family photos,” he laughs.


I’m crying now. I’m getting a crying headache.

Dad was walking the morning of September 11, 2001. Seven years ago he still walked five miles every morning, even more on the weekends. I’m trying to remember when it was he fell while taking his daily walk. Was it the following year?

I know he saw the cranes from the work they were doing to widen the Montaño bridge. I know he got dizzy and out of breath, that one of the workers saw him and came running. I know he got sick to his stomach, and that the ambulance was only able to reach him because of the construction project.

After they put in the pacemaker, that’s when he went from good old age to not-so-good old age.

“I don’t like to dwell on those things.” He is talking about 9/11. He goes on to describe how he was walking and someone told him that a big airplane had hit one of the towers. He says he couldn’t understand how the pilot could have made such a mistake in daylight. He got home to the TV just before the buildings fell.

“A day of infamy,” he says. Then, after a moment he adds, “like Pearl Harbor.”

My father has seen so much. So much life and death. I am an ant compared to him.

“I’ll come by before you leave,” I tell him.

I want to see his gray watery eyes. They used to be so dark they looked black.





***NOTE***  When I went to scan the photo of my father, I found a poem that one of my daughters printed out on my old scented stationery. I’m not sure if one of them wrote it or if they found it somewhere Dee wrote it; I loved it and wanted to share it now.



Rose thorn

 

by Dee

 


Remember the flowers?

Oh so red

So smooth the petals but beware the thorns

Ending sadness

Tomorrow the wound shall be gone

Happy with your new rose

Out with the thorn

Roses are red

No longer my finger.




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Exploring A Canal Series


Chom Chom, eating fruit in a village on the Mekong Delta, August 30, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Beautiful Boy, child in a village on the Mekong, August 30,
photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



red on blue, red lace over blue shutters in a home on the Mekong, August 30, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Floating, helm of the canoe as we make our way down a Mekong canal, August 30, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.






Brick Village Series


Lone Boat at Dawn, small boat painted with a face to ward away evil, August 31, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Morning, man and child on a boat at morning passing the brick village on the Mekong, August 31, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Brick Village, detail of a building in a village whose homes are constructed of brick, August 31, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Brick Village, faded blue boat docked on the edge of Mekong’s brick village, August 31, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.






Buddhist Temple Series



Temple Window, looking out the window of a Buddhist temple in Cai Be, August 31, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Arms, statue in a Buddhist Temple in the city of Cai Be on the Mekong, August 31, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



 

Temple Colors, beautiful colors in a Buddhist Temple in the city of Cai Be, August 31, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.






Big River Series



New Bridge, bridge being constructed near the city of Can Tho, August 30, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Floating Market, vendors selling produce on the river, August 30, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Tidy Village, buildings stand out on a crisp morning, August 31, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.






Bassac Boat Series



Bassac Cruise Boat, wooden boat for excursions from two to nine days, August 31, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Tomato Art, an elegantly presented decoration, August 30, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.






-related to posts Peace On The Mekong and A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words. Or Is It?

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