Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Pewter Pitcher


Pauline passed the word to me from here, and so with little else to inspire me I decided to write a poem about a pewter pitcher.

But I should tell you that right now I am creating a nursery rhyme book for my 2-year old grandson and so with my mind entrenched in that arena, my poem may sound a little bit silly and a big bit juvenile.


That old gray pewter pitcher
Is what we use at tea.
But Grandma’s pewter pitcher
Is more than what you see.

The handle curves like her gentle hand
With soft and grazing touch
And overall, sweet simplicity,
Like that dear one, loved so much

And in the delicate laurel wreath
The circle of love we sustain
And in the pursed pout of the lip
Want of kisses seems so plain

And in the gloss of this holy grail
There is a fogged reflection
Fossilized blurs of yesteryear
Curves of the same connection.

(She takes it from the wooden shelf
Sets it on a cloth of lace
Then with a rough, and work-worn hand,
She waves me to my place)

Yes, there are pipkins on the shelf
More polished and more sleek
But only the pewter pitcher
Speaks a language so unique.

‘Cause Grandma’s pewter pitcher
Is more than what you see
That beautiful grey chalice,
Brings crème fraiche and love to me.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What Do You Do With Wonder and Awe?

What do you do with wonder and awe? How do you release the inner tension it creates? How to you ease the reverence, respect, dread, and weakness of heart that grips the soul in a gridlock of conflicting feelings of sadness and joy?

I have this sense of awe and wonder when I see my grandkids coming up the walk. But thankfully it is easing by throwing my arms around them and their gentle kisses on my cheek.

I have this sense when Hub gives me an unexpectedly card or bouquet, and I ease it with a blend of smiles and tears, mutual joy, and his hovering presence. I have this sense when my double peony blooms, but it eases as the blossom over-ripes. And so, for such situations, there is a way of escape.

And that be all good and well, but the tension and tight grip of awe and wonder is not so easily resolved in other situations. There are many for which there is no release.

I remember when Hub and I went on vacation one fall. I remember seeing snow-capped purple mountains shoed with golden russet trees bordering a glistening turquoise lake in west coast country. I remember how it was and how the tension of wonder and awe gripped my heart and mind and soul. So tight that it was racking, throbbing, and tormenting.

I feel the agony and ecstasy of that tension again, when I recall the loveliness of it all. But there was no way to release the tension when it hit.

I recall at the time when Hub and I stopped at the edge of those emerald waters how driven I felt to fling myself on the grass, and pound my fists on the soil, and kiss the ground, and weep. All of which I could not do, must not do, as such a reaction would inflict Hub with an even greater torment and tension—over the well-being of my mind and health.

But there just has to be a way to release the tension of wonder and awe. It comes upon me with a gentle wash that ever increases in temperature and duration till I feel scalded, but yet there is no escape. No release—from the joy coupled with dread. I almost hate it. It leaves me in spasms of sadness and gladness interchanging at breakneck speed—like a Drop of Doom roller-coaster ride.

Now it’s been years, close to eons, since last I read “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” I read it again last night. I wept with sorrow, then cried with joy, as I did that first time I read it as a child—the line that I love, that breaks me so into pieces is that gentle, sweet, most lovely line— “and when I awoke, it rained.”

And now, from that reading, this morning and through the night, I have been racked with the painful conflict of heart-sorrow and head-joy. And rather than abating, the tension of wonder and awe goes on and on. I am as close to the brink of frenzied hilarity as I am to the brink of a grand and copious wash of tears.

The tension is as like to a dead albatross around my neck as anything can be. In fact, I think this poem mirrors the tension of awe and wonder and in doing that, only increases my awe-and-wonder tension. God, I almost wish I had a toothache or a pulsing migraine to distract me from the absolute beauty and total horror of that poem that I so recently read.

But how can I find release? Hug the book. That isn’t going to work.
Kiss the page. That isn’t going to work.
Erase the poem—can’t do that either.
It is emblazoned with permanence in my mind.

I want and I need to be free of this tension. It is hampering me. It is crippling me. It is tormenting me. But how, pray how, can it be done?

Maybe if I read the poem three more times. Do you think?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Ways of The Elderly 4.


And what are Valentine-like-loves? They can be of a Romantic nature but often they are not. They are simply people I have known throughout a lifetime that gave me confidence, courage, comfort, and worth.

Simply put, what you might call easy friendships with the kind of people that always, and forever, give comfort and security without a trace of aggravation or qualm.

I came to realize this Valentine-like-love representation only this morning in discussion with a friend who dropped in for coffee. In our conversation a name came up so familiar to me because the name mentioned was a fellow who lived near my parents’ house throughout my childhood years.

The name was Mr. Jolly. One of the friendliest, jolliest people one could ever hope to find. He lived alone for many years but eventually when I was in Junior High, he married a dear, sweet lady, as jolly and friendly as he. Wonderful people they were in every respect.

But after I married and moved from my childhood home district, I seldom saw Mr. Jolly and his jolly wife. But nothing changed. Even at that, he and his wife forever remained as friendly and jolly and open to chatting with me as they always had, despite geographic separation and infrequent encounters.

Now I was quite taken aback this morning when Mr Jolly's name came up in a coffee conversation. Surprised that a neighbor in this area that I now live in also knew him. Immediately I expressed in glowing terms how much I honored Mr. Jolly's goodwill and generosity. My coffee-friend listened and heartily agreed with my assessment, but then…and that’s when…she asked me if I was aware that Mr. Jolly passed away some years ago.

Immediately I was so deeply saddened – my soul awash with dismay, loss, and even a kind of isolation. But then slowly, I came to the realization that I knew that. I did. I already knew that. But with that blessed failing memory, I had forgotten and the forgetting was truly sweet.

I have thought and continue to think of the Jolly Man and his jolly wife so often. And when I do I smile and I am so happy when I think of them. Happy because I remember them only in the present tense. How lovely they ‘are’, and how lovely the discourse in my mind of their easy friendship, easy pleasantness, and jolly nature.

It is so nice to be comfortable with present confidence, and unmindful that Mr. Jolly is gone and she in a retirement place. I prefer it that way. Sorrow and loneliness eradicated. All that so direly chills the heart with the loss of good friends tucked away out of mind.

I am well aware that to others, this is a derogatory thing, this living a life of ‘fancy’ rather than ‘fact’. All I say to that is, “Excuse me, Sophists of Society, insist if you must on factual and scientific data for youthful years, but not for the elderly. Being old is not an easy path and in treading it, fancy is what softens the pains of physical and mental impoverishment.


And so, in conclusion, in Way IV, I give you only this one small sample of February comforts and Valentine-like-loves. There are more. Many of my dear friends are gone, but I forget that as I ponder special times we once shared when we conducted heart exchanges like Valentines.

And so what I am left with is a discriminatory memory that allows me to ponder what lovely friends (in present tense) I have. How fond I am of them, how strong and comforted I am because of them. How fixedly they remain an immortal abstraction within my heart and mind.

And so, I wonder if perhaps, in some oblique way, that here, in Way IV, we factually and scientifically found the fundamental cause of the oft-found-conviction of after-life immortality in the hearts of the aged because long-term memories are immortalized and short-term memories die such a premature death.

So Old Age? – Bring it on! In as many ‘Ways’ as there may be. And in that, let me be short-term-forgetful, as long as with long-term-memory, I retain the immortal companionship of all my many Valentines.

[“The Ways of the Elderly” could, I think, be a rather grand epistle. I invite you to do a “Way”. There is nothing sophisticated about my blog so if you have thoughts to add, post them in my comments section and I will pull them out and add them to the other “Ways”. Or post them on your own blog and let me know.

I say this half-jokingly, half-serious, because I don’t really know if anyone will use this prompt to divulge the secrets of present time and place that the Elderly are so disinclined, or unable, to tell.]

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Ways of the Elderly 3.


What seems to have really intensified since “Way I” and on through “Way II” and now into “Way III” is forgetfulness.

I know I am forgetful. Hub knows I am forgetful. And my children and neighbors know it as well. They have too often seen the missing pepper grinder in the fridge, the fresh lettuce blasted in the freezer, and the missing cookbook in the knives-I-no-longer-use drawer. But one small comfort is my long-term memory is reasonably in tact.

In light of that and assuming that this is common among seniors, could this explain why seniors are so secretive about the present? And why they cannot divulge out-takes of present time and place? Maybe there is no present because as quickly as it comes it dissolves into forgetfulness. So quickly that there is no time to take it up, turn it over, and have a good look at it.

But I digress. In my particular circumstance so far, all that occurred in Way I and Way II was so self-deprecatory and depressive. And so I begin to wonder, ‘Is there not an upside to this elderly stage of existence?’

Oh yes, there is. Very much so. But only just today, I came to that realization and I must quickly get it down before it escapes from memory.

Now I already know from blogging and reading others blogs that some kind of aura exists that directs commonality of mood and thought of humankind according to calendar times and seasons. While I was writing this I found a surprising number of other blogs contemplating similar subject matter, although from widely diverse perspectives.

But, unfortunately, contemplation of aging can be somewhat depressing to those of us nearing the climax of life. And then, if you add to that, the dreariness of February, that desperate time when Spring is too far away to look to the future, and Winter too fixed in place to look to the past, the whole conglomerate of it all becomes rather debilitating.

But be of Good Cheer because between the Dumbo ears, behind the bulbous nose, and above the skin-wizened neck, there is a bit of a G-Spot, locked between long-term memory and short-term forgetfulness. To explain further, this is the spot that magnifies, amidst all the awful changes in appearance, something to be truly grateful for among the ‘Curses of the Fullness of Age’. A tiny spot stimulated to a frenzy at this time of year by, what I choose to call, Valentine-like-loves.


Friday, February 5, 2010

The Ways of the Elderly 2.


The first elder realization came about two years ago. That awful day I woke up to find, when I gazed at my mirror reflection, that my smooth and delicate ear lobes had suddenly transformed into monster blobs—without cause. There was no malady, no infection, no chaffing, no heavy embroidery on my pillowcase, in fact no exacerbation of any kind.

But nevertheless, I had seen earlobes like this before. Oh yes, now I remember. They flagged the drooping heads of so many of the dreary souls I had once seen at a rest home. That’s where I had seen them.

I was so—not pleased. This new outgrowth was in no way comparable to the slow, creeping pace of outgrowth in my 13th year, and 14th year, and 15th year, that finally, finally, in my 16th year, resulted in sweet, flattering, and lovely swollen breasts. The ear-lobe-happening was a quick-take in no way comparable to that tardy breast transformation.

With the ear-lobe thing, there was no wait. I hadn’t yet reached any point of expectation and already it happened. I went to bed with delicate ears one night and woke up with Dumbo ears the next morning. Egad!

But as awful as it is/was, I am truly glad that I did not in my youth, wear those great honking ring-implants in my ears that I now see some young people wearing. What will become of them, when they reach “Way II” of their senior years and their earlobes explode?

But, all that aside, within “Way II”, the education has only just begun. Cause yesterday, just yesterday, I took a peek in the mirror to see if I was okay for the dreaded trip to town and guess what?

Now my nose has exploded. It is no longer the angular delicate silhouette it has always been. No longer the reserved profile of a perfect balance within the spectrum of once-large-eyes, no somewhat reduced, and once-full-lips, now somewhat reduced, and once-full-face, now somewhat reduced.

Yeh, you guessed it. Now I have this gawd-awful nose, that obviously happens as one ages, whether one avoids alcohol, steroids, cabbage, jumbo onions, or boils lexicons with cosines and drinks the reckoning warm without sugar.

And, so now, the conclusion formed within the context of these latest circumstances is that within “Way III”, or should I say a week or two, I will find a great honking coarse black hair growing out of this bulbous nose with all good will and dedication.

NEXT POST: — we continue on our way — to WAY III.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ways of the Elderly [Way 1.]


In ‘Way I’ of this series, I first want to reflect on my own peculiar attainment of an understanding of life realizations.

Suffice to say that at a young age, through diplomatic conversations with my mother, and less diplomatic conversations with older sisters, I found out that within my lifetime, I could expect several stages of change.

There would be a stage of adolescent change, and soon after stages of love, marriage, childbirth…and then…little else. Nothing actually. Because after that, life-stage-instruction fell off, as it were, into a deep chasm. There was no discussion from Mother or siblings of what I might expect in that latter period of my life.

And so the learning was hampered right from the get-go with a kind of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ kind of thinking, not only from my Mother who maybe as yet didn’t know, but also from Elders in the neighborhood. And so that silence made old age seem so irrelevant. So unrelated to me—my life and my own physical and mental development.

Sure I encountered a few old people, some very old indeed, but ‘twas said about the town that ‘they are totally senile’, and indeed, they appeared to be. It was obvious even to me in my tender years that they all were so-of-another-mind, and another time, and another reasoning, and a square-and-unyielding-lack-of-acceptance of the magic of modern-day thinking. So much so, I concluded they must be no more a part of my phylum or sub-species than a rock or a tree.

Appearances alone supported this conviction. So many of them had hunched backs, a shuffling gait, bulbous noses, over-large earlobes, and folded sagging necks shaped in all respects like that of turtles. None of which physio-features I possessed.

And furthermore, when I engaged in conversations with them, like turtles they withdrew from present time and only discussed with me times of their-now-distanced youth.

They were mum, in fact, secretive of their own particular thoughts and feelings in present time. Even my own parents became secretive in that respect in their elder years. Pretending, as it were, that they were still in a youthful space. Dipping only into circumstances of the past. A kind of pantomime acting out without the modern-day stage costumes of jogging outfits, face-lifts, tanning agents, hair coloring, and only God knows, what else.

So, despite even one-on-one discussions, the ‘stage of elderly’ remained a complete blank slate—and my understanding as limited as that of a something as inanimate as a rock or a tree.

And so, with no knowledge of what to expect in my elder years, I likewise gave no contemplation to that stage of life. But eventually realizations came. Not gently, but explosively.

Next Post – you guessed it – WAY 2.