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Posts Tagged ‘the space between’



By Elizabeth Statmore


I wanted to find that Anne Lamott essay on their dog’s dying, but it’s in another book and I don’t have time to find it right now.

This is the first work day without Fromage, and I can already tell there are going to be a lot of awful firsts like this — first Trash Night without him, for example. Trash Night was Fromage’s favorite holiday. Lucky for him, it came every week. Tuesday nights, after dinner, we would bring the trash and recycling and composting down the front stairs and haul the wheeled cans to the curb — black for rubbish, blue for recycling, green for compostables.

David would wind him up as I started gathering the bags in the kitchen. “Trash Night!” he would exclaim to Fromage. “Trash Night!” And Fromage would start to dance around the room excitedly, wagging his tail hard and barking.

“Trash Night! Trash Night!”

Bark! Bark! Bark!

Being descended from a long line of working dogs and shepherds, he would herd me with our bags toward the front door, barking as if to yell, “Hurry up! It’s Trash Night, dammit!”

As far as he was concerned, the best nights were the ones when we needed to make the trip to the sidewalk more than once. He would dash up the stairs and bark down at me, urging me on. While I dealt with the carts and the bags, he would amble over to lift his leg and pee on a nearby sidewalk tree. it was his holiday — and now he is going to miss it forever more as we are going to miss him.

This hole in my heart feels bottomless, and it makes me wonder if I will ever feel whole again. I miss him with an ache and an urgency I can’t describe with words. This is my life now.

***
8:00 p.m. insight — Fromage does not want us to be lonely. He wants us to adopt another dog who can watch over us.

He loves us and doesn’t want us to be lonely.

He stayed as long as he could, but he just couldn’t do his job of taking care of us any more and he had to go. He’d dragged himself through sickness and dying, and it was time for him to leave us.

But he doesn’t want us to be lonely for too long.

He loves us and wishes us the best. It’s not a betrayal of him for us to love a new dog.


_________________________



About Elizabeth: Elizabeth Statmore is a San Francisco-based writer and teacher of writing and mathematics. She is a long-time practitioner and teacher of Writing Practice, which she learned from Natalie Goldberg. A frequent contributor to KQED-FM, Elizabeth’s last posts for red Ravine include Seed Starting, a piece about writers as gardeners, and Writing The “Remembering Grace Paley” Piece — a step-by-step tutorial on how she turned a raw piece of writing into a finished radio commentary. Elizabeth was also one of our first guest writers, contributing the post Abandoned Is… Fromage was her dog and spirit guide of almost fourteen years.

The Gifts Of Trash Night is Part II in a series of three Writing Practices about the love and loss of Fromage. Part I is titled Long.

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Spring walk.

Spring Walk, Droid Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2012, photos © 2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




Let the essays compose themselves.
Two yellow finches and a strong March wind—
skywriter’s delight.






-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, March 11th, 2012

-related to post: haiku 4 (one-a-day) meets renga 52

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Vintage Cars At Nokomis Lanes, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






snippets of the past,
bowling alley or drive-in?
2-D sleight of hand —
vintage cars fade into walls,
the future walks a thin line.








-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, April 8th, 2010

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day), WRITING TOPIC — MEMORIES OF CARS

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New pages, testing out my new doodle journal, Christmas gift to myself, December 26, 2009, images © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
Today is all mine. It’s almost two and still I’m dressed in my light blue, light flannel pajamas. They’re old-fashioned, the kind of button-down-top and pants that Ricky Ricardo and Lucy used to wear. As Jim said, “Now if someone comes over early on a weekend, you won’t have to scramble to get dressed.”

No scramblin’ today.
 
 
 
 

my three cranes

 
 
This was the view from my kitchen window yesterday morning. The three cranes who’ve been hanging out here for over a month had meandered up to the spot where the pasture meets the patio—the closest point to the house without actually being on the patio.

One crane stands sentinel while the other two eat or preen. If they catch us in the window watching them, they sometimes stop what they’re doing and stare back. Us watching cranes watching us watching them.

It’s reminiscent of that spring when we had nearly two dozen turkeys lounging on the patio furniture, including the farm table that’s pushed up against the exterior wall of the kitchen. Turkeys looking in on us, and now cranes. Birds, Big Birds, are social animals. Either that or curious ones.
 
When I crept out the sliding glass door over to the low wall that separates patio from pasture, the cranes booked on out. They didn’t take flight, but they wandered away on their incredibly long and skinny legs to a more comfortable gazing distance.
 
 
 

December Cranes, cranes in the pasture retreating when I move closer, December 28, 2009, photos © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 

November Cranes, same cranes, November 28, 2009,
photo © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
 

changing tradition

 
 
My sister Patty and Mom made Christmas tamales this year. It’s a tradition in our family. Patty suggested that Mom try adding red chile to her masa this time around. Mom had never done that before. Normally the masa is made straight up—corn mixture and water or broth. Not being the most traditional of women, Mom agreed to the change.

Turned out be a good idea. This year’s Christmas tamales were the best ever. I’m not kidding. Chile in the masa made for an interior sort of heat, the kind that comes from deep inside. And tastyyyy?! The kind of taste that you crave days after Christmas has ended and you wonder if anyone has Christmas tamales still tucked away in the freezer.
 
 
 
 

  

Tamales for Christmas, Mom’s tamales stacking up for the big holiday,
photo © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 

tart and sweet

 
 
One of my favorite gifts for Christmas was a package of Sharpies in Caribbean colors. They remind me of tropical Jelly Bellies or Skittles. The kind of bright colors that people in island cultures use to paint their homes, although you never can tell since the sun fades the colors over time to a sort of Easter egg pastel palette.
 
 
I bought myself a new doodle journal, on sale at Anthropologie. I love that store; the buyers there have the best taste for eclectic and gorgeous furniture, bedding, clothing, shoes, kitchenware.

This journal has a full year’s worth of pages, each month a different color. The months aren’t labeled but the dates are—1 through 31, or however many days there are in that particular month. January is salmon, February creme, March red, April green, May yellow, June blue. The paper has little specs in it, like sun spots on skin. The freckles come out when you apply a marker to the surface.

A doodle a day, starting January 1. I can’t wait. In fact, I didn’t wait. For the first two blank pages, I already doodled. Real doodles, not the fancier drawings I tend to call doodles. I’ll still do those, but sometimes my own complexity—my desire to outdo myself—gets the better of me. Back to basics. (With a mango twist, of course!)
 
 
 
 

  

 
 
 
 
 

retreat, retreats, re-treaty

 
 
I recently became a member of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe. I received the 2010 Catalog of Offerings and have decided to take two classes in 2010.

One I want to take with Jim. One of my intentions for 2010 is to share my passions with him. I seem to spend a lot of time in my own world, and while I’ve always appreciated the latitude my husband gives me, I also realize he’s open to exploring new things.

We had a couple’s massage on his birthday, and I’m always surprised by how willing he is to do things I might otherwise assume he wouldn’t want to do.

Don’t make assumptions, one of The Four Agreements®. I reflect on this particular agreement most of all, although all four are principles to live by.
 

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

 
Read The Four Agreements® again. Live them all year long.
 
 
This wasn’t meant to be a post about new intentions. Remember, I’m sitting in pajamas, chillin’. I guess the reflecting and looking forward are percolating, even as I cling to lazy days spent in coffee shops or movie theaters or my writing room.

The waning days of 2009. Another year. Another decade.
 
 
 
 

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Heart, Wonder(Woman), & Stained Glass Mandalas, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved


It’s that awkward time between end-of-December Holidays and the New Year. And 2009 was a hard year for many. I personally know people who were (and are) unemployed, those who have lost much of their life savings due to illness and no health insurance, a family with a loved one who died unexpectedly in her 30’s from an enlarged heart. They checked on her when she didn’t show up at the family Christmas party; the funeral was Christmas Eve.

But I also saw a heartwarming story where a man in Youngstown, Ohio named Jason Evans donated a kidney to Kimberly Smith, a 58-year-old woman who has raised 28 foster and adopted children, and a stranger to him, so that she could live. (He heard the call at a church service; she calls the kidney LJ for Little Jason.) And a segment on a woman named Jennifer Williams who gives back to women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who have been raped, tortured and mutilated in the Congolese civil war, by encouraging sponsors to pledge $27 a month and write letters in an exchange that transforms both women’s lives. Lisa Shannon, founder of Run for Congo Women, has a personal mission to sponsor 1000 Congolese women.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Was it something you really wanted as a child? Was it handmade, a piece of art or jewelry, a family recipe box, dinner with friends? Did it cost money or was it a gift from the heart? We didn’t have a lot of presents under the tree this year but life feels abundant. We and our cats Kiev and Mr. Stripeypants have our health (Chaco died mid-year); there was good food on the table, Christmas ham and Grandma Caroline’s Green Salad; the Wonder Woman stocking stuffer (made by Magnet Dude) and Mandalas Stained Glass Coloring Book brought big smiles to my face.

Liz’s sister has a tradition of sending her a rock from Heart Mountain in Wyoming each time her mother visits or another Holiday rolls around. We have bits of the Heart all over our garden and yard. Each time Liz opens a new heart, her face is filled with wonder. There are cards that line the bookcase, some with checks or gift certificates, not to mention the pajamas and slippers from a pre-Christmas sale. Life feels abundant.

Maybe the greatest Christmas gift was watching a family from up the street (who we had never met) stroll through the neighborhood with their snowblower, digging out driveways from the Holiday blizzard. How neighbors joined in and walked along with them, helping the next neighbor dig out.

Or the young sister/brother team who knocked on our door Christmas Eve and offered to snowblow the driveway for $10. They came from a blended family of 7 kids and were trying to earn a little extra money. These are the gifts that keep on giving.

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Insomnia, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, photo © 2009 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

every waking moment
fitful bursts of sleeplessness
posing as dreams

 
 
 
 
 
 

Couldn’t sleep last night; so many scattered thoughts rolling around in my head. They say you wake up at 3 a.m. for anxiety, 4 a.m. for depression. I must be feeling anxious. At a few minutes before 3 a.m. (Dead Time), I was wide awake. So wide awake, I even broke the 5-7-5 structure on the Sleeplessness senryu (not typical of my haiku).

I did keep the 17 syllables. After a few years of haiku, they must be hardwired into me. Sometimes I’ll dream about writing and counting haiku in my sleep. I once read about a Japanese poet, Shuson Kato (born Takeo Kato but referred to by his pen-name, Shuson), who counted syllables on his fingers while he lay unconscious a few weeks before his death.

 
Here is an excerpt from his 1993 obituary in the Independent — Shuson Kato, poet and scholar: born Tokyo 26 May 1905; died Tokyo 3 July 1993:

In April this year, he fell sick, but again recovered and started the arduous task of choosing the weekly poems for the Asahi. Alas, on 20 June he lost consciousness: the 11 July issue of the Asahi poetry page was his last. It was said that even while he lay unconscious he was moving his fingers in the typical syllable-counting fashion of every haiku poet, bending the fingers inwards towards the palm, then releasing them again one by one.

Shuson believed in the healing powers of poetry. Again from his obituary:

In 1957, Kadokawa Shoten issued a first collected edition of Shuson’s works. But the poet fell ill in 1960 and underwent chest operations, presumably for tuberculosis. Yet he continued writing haiku. As he said: ‘Without my haiku I am nothing. It is only haiku I live for, and only haiku that keep me alive.’

His faith in the healing power of poetry was such that he gradually recovered. It was in the Sixties that Shuson became identified in the popular mind as a poet who wrote in order to explore ‘how human beings should live’.

Powerful testament to the value of poetry, an art form whose readership is dropping. I find the ancient haiku poets inspiring. It is customary for haiku poets to compose a death haiku just before dying, an epitaph that lives on. Perhaps you’d like to leave your own haiku or senryu in the Comments to honor the recent July 3rd anniversary of Shuson’s death.

 

Blue (If I Knew Then, What I Know Now),
Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2009, photo ©
2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

_______________________________________________________

Epilogue: At 6 a.m. when Liz’s alarm was about to go off, I was heading to bed and a Version 2 of the Sleeplessness haiku popped into my head. I don’t know if Versions 1 and 2 are opposites, or complements like red/green or orange/blue.

 

every sleeping moment
fitful bursts of wakefulness
posing as dreams

 

Below are a few other Night Owl posts from over the years. I am most creative in the middle of the night or very early in the morning in that space between dark and light. I wonder if there are other Night Owls out there who write poetry in their sleep. Or if the Early Bird still catches the worm. 
 

 

-posted on red Ravine in the space between Tuesday morning, July 14th, 2009 and Monday night, July 13th

-related to these obituary posts on red Ravine: The Uses of Sorrow – What Is It About Obituaries?, Reading The Obits, Halloween Short List: (#2) Build Your Own Casket

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Taos Mountain, behind the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Taos Mountain, behind the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, February 2007, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.











thousands of years pass
summer, winter, spring, and fall
where mountain meets sky











-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

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

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