Thursday, November 29, 2007

If Tomorrow Never Comes

My father has been surviving emphysema for 35 years now, the last 10 have been pretty painful to watch, and endure, I know someday soon the disease will win. My parents were told by their physician three weeks ago to contact hospice services. My father said he’d be around for the New Year, they could do it after the holidays, and then went up and fixed a hole in his roof. I kid you not.

My brother in law was diagnosed with lung cancer, which has moved into his brain and lower regions, back in February. He was given three months tops. Though bouts of chemo that have done very little, but help the cancer grow and metastasize, he has endured and battled and lost his hair but not his will to live, work, and survive. I know cancer will win this battle, but he plans on being here through the holidays.

At 4am Sunday morning the phone rang. This usually means in my household that my radio station is off the air and I need to go to work. This Sunday morning it struck fear in my heart when I heard Ducky’s youngest sister’s very calm and quiet voice on the other end. Handing the phone to Ducky I went back to bed. It didn’t register very well when he walked back into the bedroom to tell me our nephew was dead. I was certain he’d misspoken and meant his little brother, but no he’d meant Wapiti.

Give us credit, neither of us said, “But I just saw him on Thanksgiving and he was fine.” Apparently after a heated argument with his wife, in which the police came and escorted her and their teenage children and grandchild out of the home, he began drinking. Considering the evening’s course of events, I believe he’d been drinking far long before the evening unraveled in rage, horror, and blood.

The police had escorted the family from the home at 9:30 Saturday night. Returned at 11 after Wapiti’s oldest daughter had called worried he was suicidal, please check on him. Returning to the house they were met by an armed Wapiti. The confrontation ended in a shoot out and Wapiti dying on his living room floor.

I’ve obviously have shortened the course of events, for several reasons. The first being I was not there. What I know is that a very nice guy is now dead because of events he started. A wife and three children are hurting because he could see no light at the end of his tunnel. His brand new granddaughter will never get to know the wonderful grandfather he would have been. He was a nice guy.

Saturday afternoon Wapiti will be laid to rest in Portland. Far from his family – and take my word for it – this outrages is paternal family. I love most of my husband’s family, well there is this one sister that pushes all my buttons with her woe is me attitude, lifestyle, and ranting (but that is a different story) but I am having a hard time with their reasoning. They don’t hold a person in their heart. I mean they probably do on some minor level, but they think “he’s going to be up there in Portland, far away from family and lonely.”

Excuse me, he’s dead, sadly dead. The do not talk to their loved ones past, they do not light a candle in remembrance. No, they take Christmas trees to the cemetery and sing carols.

I hope I’m not offending people with this tirade, but if you loved them in this life - hold them in your hearts in their passing. Celebrate their life, the person they were, and the spirit they are. In all honesty, I don’t get funerals (although I will attend and I will cry, because I hurt too,) and yes I, realize funerals are basically for the living.

Strangely on Thursday as we were driving to Eugene for family Thanksgiving festivities we had a conversation about letting those we love, admire, cherish, and value know each our feelings every time we see and leave them. I strongly hold to this practice, I never want to have regrets that I
1) never got to say good-bye and
2) that someone I cared about didn’t know how I felt.

Wapiti underscored the message of our conversation – he called each of his children Saturday night and told them that regardless of what would happen that night, he loved and cherished them deeply.

In the words of the medium John Edward, please validate, communicate, and appreciate those you love because tomorrow does not always come.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fences Make Good ?Neighbors?

For years the house next door has held a series of “not there for long” renters. Then about three and a half years ago the house sold, and stood empty for several months. All this time the beautiful rhodies in the front yard, the lawn, and varied shrubs have turned from brown to black and withered away in a flurry of dead dandelions. That’s right, even the weeds are black.

It was about this time that the son and is offspring moved in. A seemingly nice, unemployed, guy who can do everything while getting nothing done, don’t get me wrong I like this guy well enough. Since the house sold we’ve heard a retired couple were going to move in as soon as they sold their house in Hawaii. Now I love my rainy, cold, windy stretch of Oregon, there is no place prettier or better to live and raise family. But they live in Hawaii. Oregon/Hawaii. Not that I want to go live there, but most people do. About two months ago, guy next door said his folks were moving in. I jokingly ask, “They really do exist?”

Three weeks ago, guy next door said he’d be trimming back the Butterfly Bush and Climbing Rose that is growing through the cyclone fence onto their side. I’ve been offering to do this for years, that way I could control the destruction. Walking into their back yard, guy next door described what he wanted to do and I told him, “Do what you need.” I would live to regret those words.

Tuesday night I came home to this.

I guess playing nice with the neighbors or courtesy are not his high points. I suppose I should post pictures of their dead front yard that actually looks worse than their river rock graveled back yard.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Another Great MeMe Stolen from CV Rick ~ Ah, Life Is Good

Stolen Straight from the page of CV Rick who features a MeMe each and every Saturday. This one is delicious….


Costa, the fastest growing coffee shop chain in Britain released a survey showing the habits of readers. 77% of British readers enjoed a book so much that they reread it, and then the survey went on to list the 20 most ReRead books.
This meme centers on that list. The object: For each of these books, tell us whether you've read it, enjoyed it, and whether you enjoyed it so much that you read it more than once. At the end tell us which three books, on the list or not, that you've reread more than any others.

1. The Harry Potter Series by J.K Rowling -
I’ve read none of these books, but I have watched and own at least the first three movies, err is that four.

2. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
I’ve read this series at least eight times. My Favorite Books of all time. And yes, I own the movies, but I take issue with some of the content change in the movies.

3. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
I am a Jane Austen fan. I own the book, I’ve read it several times, Austin is great inspiration for my poetic voice. I own the movie.

4. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
I have read it once or twice.

5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Required reading in high school, the movie was good.

6. 1984 by George Orwell
A favorite book of my second husband, I read it back in the 80s.

7. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Haven’t read it, no intention of reading it, just not interested.

8. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
I read it years ago with my daughter.

9. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
I’ve read this one more than once. I never found Heathcliff that interesting.

10. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
I know I’ve read it, but I can’t remember it.

11. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
Have never even heard of this book.

12. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
Required reading in high school

13. Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews
Nope, I have never been there and never wish to go there. This maybe the only book my third husband has ever read.

14. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
When I was a kid.

15. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Never heard of it.

16. The Bible - (by a lot of ordinary everyday men.)
Defiantely, but I only revisit the gospels.

17. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Another favorite of my reading exhusband (number two), but I’m not sure I’ve read it.

18. Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
Haven’t read it, saw the movie, blechk.

19. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Never read it, never seen the movie. But I loved the Carol Burnett spoof.

20. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
I can’t remember, but it seems it was required reading at one time, but then that could have been a Tale of Two Cities. Who knows.

The three books I've read the most number of times:

The Lord of the Rings – My all time favorite book – at least 8 reads, and by golly it’s just about time for another.

The Stand – I’ve read this probably five or six times, a masterpiece.

Pride and Predjudice – I love Austin’s writing, I’ve read this book and all of her books (I have the library) several times and will definitely go back for more.

Have you noticed Rick has lots of great blogs to steal? Thanks Rick.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Scientific Lemming

Okay, what is it about internet testie thingies? I am so lemming. CV Rick had this interesting graft on his blog today, so of course I had to jump off the cliff and have one too.

I ended up

Your Aspie score: 73 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 150 of 200
You are very likely neurotypical

Which is all fine and well, but is this good or bad?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day 2007

Thank you Tewkes to the inspiration of this post.

I have always been blessed. Despite what my husband says, we live in the land of the free. While I don’t believe in war, I know it sometimes is an evil necessary. I can’t argue the validity of World War II, I can’t argue the need for the world to unite against an evil so vile, it changed the face of society for ever.

Old soldiers and young men suited up, stormed the beaches of Normandy, slogged through the jungles of Asia fighting in blood, mud, monsoon, snow and bitter cold to eradicate the world of this tyrannical hatred. To them my heart rejoices, mourns, and knows the world today is better.

Three of my father in law’s brothers served in World War II. Two of the three were captured, held in POW camps or on work farms until their liberation in 1945. All three returned home, forever changed by the experience, and much of the family has distaste for the Brits due to the circumstances surrounding their captures.

My grandfather was physically unable to serve in World War II, so he worked in the naval ship yards. My grandmother (adopted) worked for years in the plane factories as a Rosie the Riveter. My father’s oldest brother died while enlisted during WWII driving a truck. My father and my uncle both served during the Korean conflict, neither served in battle, and yet my uncle is interned at Arlington (this sits heavy on my soul.)

My father served in Panama, his stories are rich, humorous, and self-deprecating. My father is my hero.

Rabidly against the Vietnam War, my father and I came numerous times to battle in my teen years. He now recognizes that the war was wrong. The parallels between Vietnam and the Iraq Wars are totally lost on him. I mourn the lost of our young men who died in foreign lands for the material wants of impotent old men with power. Young lives lost, potentials never realized, I cry in want of them who are named in the glossy black marble of the Memorial Wall.

Both of my brothers have served. D2 in the Army after high school; D4 (my youngest brother) is an Air Force lifer. I value their lives, their contributions to our country. During Desert Storm I had pen pals who were serving in Saudi, there wonderful letters are stored away in my keep chest. Their friendships are warm memories, and knowing that they are out there walking somewhere safe and free are happy thoughts.

Today, as yesterday, there are those who will never come home. I mourn their loss. I pray no more will be lost. I know my prayers are for naught.

To those who have served, thank you. To those who are serving, I value you and your life. I wish you peace. To those who are reading this please remember those who have and are serving on this Veteran’s Day 2007.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Talk Thursday - Center Of Your Longing

Last night I let JulieAnn know she was tagged for Talk Thursday, just as last week Enlightened Faery had let me know I was it. I wondered, and feared a little, what JulieAnn would do. Wow, I was blown away by her post Ravings of a Mad Woman . Incredible. Now I am doubly afraid.

The need to write lyrical, metered, rhyme dwells deep inside me. I consider myself a poet. To lay down the words that make others dream, feel the wind on their face, the sea and sand beneath their feet drives me, the elements beating their tattoo in time. The simplest word or phrase will lodge itself in my brain, becoming the rhythm of my day until I write it down, let it grow, expanding into line, verse, and stanza. The meter will awaken me in the dark of night, when other mortals sleep, and hound me until I write it down.

In the tired night my prayers will be broken by a line, a set of lines, until I say my Amen and get up to write it down. Woe to me if I ignore my muse, the whispered voice in my brain, repeating over and again the words that will not let me be. Dare not roll over for slumber deep, for by morning’s tide I will have long forgotten the rhyme to be nagged by the knowledge there was once something there that longed to be and I ignored.

To lay the words that move you to tears is the center where my longing is born. To be the kind hand that pens the lines that captures your world and thoughts. The ideas and hope that makes your heart sing and believe again. That is the center of me. To bring you the wind in your hand, the thunder in your heart that matches the sound of sky and sea, that is the center of me.

The Elementals

The morning mist sets on the moors,
above the heather wet,
and holds the light close to the ground
the moist, damp air it's net.
The churning waves sent from the sea
batter the rocky beach,
the salt spray flies to meet the mist
where moors and ocean reach.
I raise my arms up to the sky
in praise, my morning rite,
drink of the day into my soul,
of salt spray, moor, and light. .

The mid day sun rides on the sky
where Gulls and Petrel soar,
fields of blue, are the air and sea,
mauve, heather on the moors.
The foam peaked waves, crash to the sand
below the granite cliffs,
where churning winds, gear up to rage,
a gale wind strong and stiff.
I raise my face up to the sun,
drink in the wind and light
its strength and peace rain over me
I breathe eternal might.
The western sun has gone away,
dusk heralds in the night,
a storm brews strong upon the sea,
waves gather strength and height.
Dark churning clouds are rumbling deep,
and flash with brilliant light.
Tempest winds howls over cliff and land
and blow with all their might.
I stand and breathe the elements,
drink in the raging sight.
it's pain and brute force bolsters me
in life's continual fight.

The morning mist lays on the greens,
a bonney day begins,
the birds are winging on the sky,
the bees are buzzing hymns.
The churning ocean will reach the cliffs
and kiss the basaltic rock.
The breeze will freshen on the bay,
and ruffle on the loch.
I stand in awe, in silent peace,
I bow my head to pray,
for the wind and rain, sun and mist,
I thank God, every day.

© 20 July 2000 Calista Cates-Stanturf

Monday, November 05, 2007

Monday Morning Roses

I was helping JulieAnn with a website problem this morning. As a test I uploaded a random picture. And thought it so lovely. I didn't get JulieAnn's problem fixed, but I am offering up Fourth of July Roses for your Monday morning.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Five Four Things I’ve Quit aka post number 100

Have you noticed how CV Rick is a great source of MeMe’s? Every Saturday Rick post a MeMe, today’s an interesting offering, one I’d never have thought up myself, but delicious in concept and content. I will now apologize for the length, because it is long. But there are only four.

I’ve always been taught not to be a quitter. Winners don’t quit. What doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger. Okay that last one is a great saying.

So here is my stab at Five Four Things I’ve Quit.

Girls Scouts. Anyone who reads my blog, with any regularity, knows I loved being in Girl Scouts. Scouting laid a foundation in my life to attain my goals. It didn’t hurt that my mother was the leader for a large portion of the time I was in scouting. I learned nature craft, good work ethics, self-reliance, and outdoor skills. I learned a love and stewardship of this planet and the universe.

I began in Brownies, I remember loving a comradery with the girls in my troop. Girls I went to school with from kindergarten through tenth grade, girls who often didn’t speak to me outside of meetings, camping trips, and cookie sales. My mother was our leader through Juniors and Cadets. In my ninth grade year I moved into Seniors, my mother didn’t move with me. Neither did any of the girls in my troop, really how many high school co-eds did you know in high school?

The girls in my new troop had been together since the beginning, had their hierarchies formed; cliques that didn’t have room for the new geek in the group. I was seemingly on the outside, did things different than they did. I’d been to Summer Camp nine years in a row, I’d been to Gam, hell I was a Mariner and they were into gossip. I had been the number one cookie seller two years running in our branch, had done regional advertising campaigns. I was not them. I was not popular. I was forever odd man out. And my attitude was resented.

I loved Scouting. Having never been popular in school, I had always savored the comradery that Scouting had given me, and now it was gone. I loved camp and had been looking forward to a summer as a CIT (councilor in training), quitting scouting meant no summer camp. Walking away from scouts, in some respects, was one of the hardest things I’d ever done, in others one of the easiest.

Dance. All my life I’d wanted to dance. I’d begun tap dancing at age four, ballet at five. When those classes ended at first grade, I still danced. Really how many little girls do you know who don’t dance to their own tune? We danced a lot in Scouting, summer camp had given me a love for folk dancing, the Horah, the Maya (my favorite), country dances, high country, and dances I can’t remember.

In school dancing was a definite part of our education. Beginning in fourth grade with square dancing. Fifth grade we began adding folk dances into our repertoire. And by sixth grade it was ethnic dance. I loved to dance.

Both Benton (my junior high school) and La Mirada (my high school) offered dance. La Mirada offered a dance troupe. So I took not only PE, but two dance classes a day. I dreamt of dancing as a living. It never occurred to me that girls, bordering on six feet tall were not made to dance, they were made for Basketball.

Side note: I hate basketball. I cannot shoot hoops. Have never been able to shoot hoops, unless it was playing horse, and I was standing with my back to the net over the Taylor’s garage door. That was the whole sum of my talent and ability.

When I moved to Oregon there was no dancing. No dance teachers. No dance classes in school. Sadly, the high school refused to accept my dance class credits and I had to take night school and full course to make up for the credits in order to graduate.

Side note: After taking night classes and full course, the school and state decided my dance classes did count, and I graduated with 4.5 extra credits.

So maybe I didn’t quit dance, maybe it quit me. I tried going back in my thirties, but the skill was pretty much gone.

My first marriage. I’m not sure it is fair to say I quit my first marriage, but I did. One day, in my senior year, I was sitting in the back of the bus with a bunch of girls, when I spied a blue 1953 Chevy Panel Wagon. I’ve always had a soft spot for panel wagons. I was looking at the car, while all the girls were looking at the bad boy behind the wheel. Oohing and Ahhing over Bad Boy.

Damn, he was hot. And I loudly proclaimed I was going to marry him. Sheesh, I’d never even met him. Fast forward a year or so later, summer after my senior year and I ran into Bad Boy at the Fourth of July fireworks show. He struck up a conversation and asked for my phone number. I didn’t hear from him again.

Well not for three months or so. Then one day he walked into the restaurant where I was working and sat at one of my tables. It wasn’t by design, of that I am certain, he’d forgotten me. So I walked up to the table and said, “Should I still keep waiting for that phone call?” Yeah, I know, stupid.

Two weeks later we were living together. A year later we were married and preggers. Two years later we were in Germany, and it was suddenly evident he was an alcoholic. How I didn’t see it before was beyond me, because the evidence had always been there, I just had refused to see it. But now it was worse. He was suspicious when he didn’t need to be. He was abusive. And I’m pretty damn certain he had a girl friend named Denise on the side.

But marriage is a life long commitment, and stupid me loved him. We had a beautiful daughter together. He was in the Army, I was working for the CPO and finally had friends, but something was wrong. The first big indicator came when I woke up one night and he was sitting on my chest, choking me. He swore he’d never do it again, and I believed him. Don’t they all?

Life was better for maybe a month or two. One Sunday afternoon, watching tv, I asked him to chew with his mouth closed. God please chew with your mouth closed. It continued, and I hit him upside the head with a bowl of cornflakes. Out of the blue, no sign it was going to happen, no preconceived though process involved, suddenly my cornflakes and milk were running down the side of his head, into his ear and under his collar. He was understandably livid. I was mortified, I mean how shrewish? I was appalled. And then I started laughing, but he didn’t.

Side note: I now realize this was the first PMS episode someone in my life suffered through, but by far not the last. And that is not an excuse; it was an unforgivable action. Funny, but unforgivable.

It wasn’t much later that he asked for a divorce. I cried for a whole weekend, devastated that my marriage was apparently over. Which of my cousins was I going to turn into? What in the hell was I going to do? How the hell did this happen.

Then he said he was wrong (a theme in my life apparently) and wanted to try again. He could have said this three days earlier and saved me a weekend of crying, but I have now come to realize that for some men, me in tears is an aphrodisiac. Less than a week later I realized making up and trying again was a bad move and I decided to leave.

Me leaving him was not an option. Or at least he wasn’t going to make it easy. For three months he took every dollar of my paycheck, made my life living hell. But he was true to his word and bought both Psam’s and my plane tickets home. The night before our flight was to take off, he came home and pounded my head into our cement floor until I faked passing out.

Hair Dressing. Yes, I went to Beauty College. At the age of twenty-nine I went to Beauty College. Wow, twenty years ago. I had to drive 125 miles each day to school for over thirteen months, and never missed a day, and hour, a minute. I was the first in the school’s history to do this. I passed my boards and license exams with the highest scores to date for 1987 in the state.

Having a perfect record, the highest scores, and ability does not a hairdresser make. I lasted five years. Five years of people telling me things I considered myself better off for not knowing. I was divorced, again. I was working three jobs to make ends meet and fund our gym memberships. Raising a daughter by myself, again. And I was always exhausted. I didn’t enjoy the clientele. I did not enjoy the pressure. But I can give you a damn good haircut. In fact I cut my own hair.

I went full time into radio, and haven’t looked back.

What are your top quits? And do you regret them?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Talk Thursday - Drinking In

I've been tagged by Enlightened Fairy, and this phrase from a song on the radio this afternoon just stuck with me, "drink me in like water."

In June, just before school let out for summer break of my six grade year my mother had a baby boy. I distinctly remember my parents being annoyed with my cousins (who were preggers at the same time) for choosing to use the name David for their baby if it was a boy. A silly argument really. Not one that harmed anyone but in the eyes of a 12 year old, pretty senseless. A sentiment underlined by the death of my brother, one day after he was born.

I remember it being still dark, when my father called us all in to the living room, maybe the drapes were closed, I can’t remember. He told the four of us that our mother was in the hospital and David had been born. And I distinctly remember him saying he’d been born too blue and had holes in his heart, so does Dee. Strangely my mother does not remember, her heart has ached and grieved all these long decades past, not that she realizes it, but when June 13th rolls around, my mother inevitably has a migraine. I also remember it was the first, and only time, I have seen my father cry.

This strong woman is incredibly optimistic, through thunder clouds and lightning she will search for the silver lining and has always believe everything has a purpose. When a door shuts, a window opens out look on life. In my mother’s eyes David touching our lives, ever so briefly was to unite us as a family. This might be, it makes sense, and I look at my family past and see the results of his passing to this day.

That summer after David died my family took the first of several summer vacations. My dad had three weeks accrued and in August of that year we loaded in the Econoline and drove cross-country to my father’s family in Ohio and West Virginia. The next summer my aunt and uncle, several cousins came out and we began a series of summer vacations that began and ended at Morro bay with the redwoods and Shasta Lake in between.

During the autumn, winter, and spring we’d travel out into the desert, to Phoenix, to Mexico, where ever that Econoline would haul us. David’s passing certainly brought us together; we hiked, we camped, road motorcycles, adventured together, and we laughed. We learned about the land, the sea, the stars. We learned about each other, and we learned about the world.

The nights in the desert are mesmerizing. The stars out the Milky way spread out like a twinkling blanket, shooting stars dying out into black nothingness, the cold, white moon on an frigid spring night, UFO’s, and jet planes on journeys that we could only imagine. You could lay on your back and drink in the universe, the immensness of it all, and the reality (at age fifteen) that you are a dust mote of time and biology. A grain of sand on the desert floor of a green planet somewhere in the Milky Way. You feel the hand of God. Of time. Of the universe.

These moments, adventures, epiphanies of growth climaxed one autumn afternoon in my sixteenth year. We’d spent the weekend at my aunt’s in Scottsdale, before turning north to see the Grand Canyon. Now where the Grand Canyon is in relation to Mesa Verde, I don’t’ know, I just know it was the same trip, a trip that would change me forever. We wound our way through Oak Creek Canyon, where brilliant red monuments stretch in to an amazing blue sky. We laid on our bellies to peek over the canyon’s rim at the bottom a mile away. We stared across the expanse to the eastern side of the canyon in disbelief at the distant vista that the Colorado had etched and painted over the centuries. Visions of wonder that I will carry into the next plane.

In the moderate heat of that late afternoon we arrived a Mesa Verde. Mom and dad were armed with maps and brochures that gave body to speculation to the Anasazi who carved out the mighty Montezuma’s Castle.

Stepping out of the van, I was overwhelmed with emotions, my senses laid open to an onslaught of feeling, impressions and emotions. I closed my eyes and literally drank in the still peace of the mesa. Peace that filled me with calm surety, I knew who I was, I knew why I was there, I knew that all and nothing else mattered. I was suddenly at peace and fully ready to handle what my future would bring me. The lessons that I would need would unfold in front of me at their time.

I visited the ancient ruins and I drank in me.