Category Archives: changes

Susan

 

March 3, 2018

The pain is deep, the loss is great; I just lost my sweet sister. I am not sure how I move from this spot of hurt, how I get through whatever is left of my life here without her comforting words and warm heart, a heart that loved me as no one else can, a sister’s heart, a sister’s love. I am broken and crumbling with pain. It was sudden, it was in an instant that everything changed. I am not much on public display of anything this personal but, I write when I hurt; it helps me, she helps me…

Oddly, at 3 this morning I woke and tried to put myself back to sleep but could not. I remembered I had not closed the door to my chicken coop so I wandered outside in my nightgown, a bit afraid, a bit compelled. The waning full moon had caused beautiful dappled shadows across the yard, the beauty took away the fear I had from the desolation of the hour and caused a stir within me, a moment that was beautiful and mysterious, a moment not seen by me before. Minutes later, when back inside, the phone rang. It was my brother with the news…strangely, he was calling from Thibodaux, the town where she was born.

I hold tight to this as I try to get through this passage of darkness. It is a place we all have known, this place that brings us together and makes our differences seem so trite and our hearts seem as one, this shared place of human suffering and inevitable loss.

Forgive my public display of emotion and my dark demeanor but I write these words of sorrow for her acknowledgement, for her wonder. It’s all I can do.

March 11, 2018

There are two words that have emerged from the sudden pain and circumstance of my sister’s death from one week ago, “resistance” and “regret”. The consequence of these words can cause much pain and unhappiness…I tell myself this as I continue to stumble down this dark path to recovery; I talk to myself in each hour that strikes, comforting myself with good memories and recognizing that, unlike myself, the sweat from life is gone from her brow, her face is relaxed and her heart is at peace. All of that helps a bit but the hurt seeps through into my limited human mind and I fall off of the edge again. I know the drill, I know about loss, so, I have some hope, that in time, the days will hold more joy. They will never be the same, for when someone you love leaves, there is always a missing part. As nature does, something or someone will replace the physical time slot of loss but no one will replace the carved out notch within your heart; that is how it happens, I know.

I think about these two R words, “resistance” and “regret”, and I realize that at times like these, they are the enemy, they will take you down and will leave you there – rid them from your life. I cannot continue to “resist” the fact that Susan is not a physical being anymore; she will not call me each morning and afternoon to tell me about her chickens or share a short story about our mother and a laugh about our dad, she will not be here for Christmas hugging my children and bringing her special taco dip for Skip as she lovingly attends to Thomas and Emma as though she hasn’t seen them in forever. I cannot resist that, it is true, it is real. I, we, must go with what is before us and accept it, for as long as we “resist”, we will feel pain. I find her in my heart and in my thoughts now, she accompanies me
throughout my day as we continue to discuss life and search for answers and share one another’s pain and joy as only the two of us can.

“Regret”… that is a destructive emotion felt by all of us to some degree. If we have human relationships, we have some degree of regret. Susan and I were sisters, four years apart and on the surface, very different, in other words, we had our “moments” of friction, especially growing up. I look back at those “moments” with a sense of humor and see them as essential, I have no “regrets”. As adults, we have smoothed out the rough edges and discovered that we have the same heartbeat, we are the same inside, we are sisters. I suppose my current “regret” would be the phone call I did not make last Friday night. I wanted to talk something over with her but decided to wait until the next morning, the morning that never happened. I will let that go…

Vanishing

NYC

I just read James Edmunds FB post about, yet, another cultural closure in Manhattan. I don’t know if I am going to be successful with expressing my feelings about news like this, but I am determined to try…I do not classify myself as a “traveler” but I do travel somewhat. I make extensive drives, both north and west, to see some of my adult children. I mostly drive because I love the freedom of the road and hate the hassle at the airport and consequent car rental places. Anyway, on my journeys, I have come to notice how vanilla this country is becoming; we are being defined by corporate and are losing “our soul”, to quote someone unknown to me; we are vanishing.

When I leave the Deep South, I take the interstate, I10 takes me to my connection and/or destination. I do understand that the interstate is mottled with corporate and by passes the towns and cities along the way, but I have seen what all of that corporate coverage on the outskirts of town does to the inside, the place that is (was) different, the place where the character once lived. I can easily see how the local shops are diminishing and being absorbed by the national chains that are on a monetary mission to rob each of our towns and cities of their identity and, sadly, we are letting it happen.

I see it first hand in our little southern towns. It is ironic that the culture in south Louisiana is what interest people and encourages travel and tourism; it is who we are, but it is slowly being dissolved by corporate moving in to feed off of these tourists and newcomers that our individuality brings in, and so began the “vicious circle”.

I remember the small towns and villages of Acadiana from my youth, each had its own uniqueness and were distinguished. They did not run together on the interstates and highways, they did not bleed of corporate spillage that connects each small town; they all had a unique character. Now, when I try to find them, they are spattered with the same familiar signs that “introduce” every other town. I worry, that soon, there will be nothing to identify them but the signs. Their interior, their soul, continues to shrink as they are being surrounded by suburban chains that cheaply replicate art and iconic establishments that were meant to be exclusive and original. Instead, there is now hundreds of cookie cutter sameness littering our countryside.

I wonder what happens next. When corporate is finished with these towns and cities it greedily absorbs, and we all look the same, what happens then?

This is nothing but an emotional post with not much academic input or substance and certainly no solution, but I  wanted to say it; that is why I have this little piece of real estate on the internet, my humble blog, so I can say “it”. Sadly, I doubt that anything or anyone will stop this huge machine that is taking our identity, our uniqueness, and in some cases, our livelihood, away from us.

Unfortunately, I will shop at the big box stores (I doubt that I eat at the chain restaurants, however) and I will feed into this corporate mountain of greed, all the while mourning the loss of our originality.

Thanks James for, at the very least, bringing this modern movement to light…that is what good art does, it makes people “see”.

b u

p s

the winds of change

DSC_3571Maybe this is my life now. Maybe my day should be filled with modest daily chores, small ones like dishes washed with geranium scented soap and clean sheets on the line and (always) time for the garden and art and sometimes filling my kitchen with the scent of lemon drop cookies or cinnamon.

Maybe this is when I let go. I let go of the daily routine that can be a “job”, I let go of want and preoccupation of anything material, I let go of the mindset that I have control over anyone’s thinking and with that release, I judiciously welcome anyone’s disagreement with mine, for they too are their own captains. I let go of some of the lofty goals set in my youth, they are a burden to me now- pressure to perform, desire to acquire,  battles to “win”. I have no capacity for that, which went with youth, that inescapable naiveté fueled by innocence, I let that go, gladly.

All that has happened before has had its place in my life, a paramount place, but now the winds have changed, they are gentler and filled with whispers of wisdom and I make the time to listen. The outside noises have become less audible and I mostly hear the sounds inside of my own head, those are the words I adhere to, not the others, not the propaganda. I also hear the humming of people from my past, just a few words here and there that have stayed with me and I keep those close to recall. And, always, I hear the voices of my children, grown now and on their own paths, paths strewn with my prayers and wishes for happy lives. It is a delightful place this age of mine, I am adjusting and embracing with a ways to go, but soon I will see clearly.

M5397

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road trip

 magnolia1Elizabeth and I leave in 2 days, a road trip that stalls a while in NYC and ends in Cape Cod, a long good bye, again.  I cut honeysuckles and picked an early blooming magnolia for the kitchen. I want that southern fragrance to fill the kitchen in these last mornings of her visit, competing with coffee but, somehow, winning. I want her to remember these smells of the Deep South as the salty sea breeze reveals the tiny freckles on her nose again.

I wrote about marigolds recently, in my Sunday column, and the fragrance that carries me back to Live Oak Lane and my mother. Scents linger in our hearts and cause memories to retell those wonderful stories of our lives. The fresh lemon scent of magnolias will always introduce summer to me and bring back turbulent thoughts of adolescent sprinkled with soothing memories of Miss Sue, she and I standing underneath her 40 year old magnolia tree and snapping the perfectly , barely opened flower for my mother’s kitchen – a fragrance that said home.

Anyway, another chapter is about to begin for her and consequently, for me, no matter how many magnolias line my kitchen counter, she will leave. As moms, we are always “packing bags” and sending them off, whether it be next door or at the tip of a cape, gone is gone. I do not intend this post to cast a guise of melancholy, for I am happy about this journey. The physical mechanism of this trip has me a bit nervous and, as I professed and confessed, earlier, this keyboard is where I sometimes come to release those bothersome thoughts, that anxiety – this is an open forum to myself. I can read and reread how my thoughts are floating chaotically around in my head and perhaps corral them into a more certain shape, a more linear thought to deal with and leave my fragile heart out of this.

So, I end with positivity and I begin the day with a mission to pack and to be happy about our journey together. Good byes are temporary, memories are forever.

questions answered…maybe

I wanted to post something today and I began a story about an owl I saw this evening but no “story” emerged, just a snapshot appeared. I write:

 I went for a short walk today, late in the afternoon but before evening. I walked across the field towards the little coulee that separates my space from a neighborhood and watched for the moon. I did not see it, this winter moon in its waning phase for the sky was cloudy and filtered its light, but as I stood there I heard a whoosh sound cutting the stillness. I looked up to see an owl in flight. It landed near where I stood in a tree – perched there and magnificent. I felt I didn’t belong there, this was his space, it is a place he had come to many times before when there were no people, no houses and concrete. He now seemed out of place and that made me sad.  Later, as I was writing, I heard him outside of my window. By then it was nighttime and he was hooting. There is something mysterious about that sound. It seems foreboding and ominous.

That’s it, that’s as far as I got. I distracted myself from the owl and began rummaging around in my folders and I came across something I wrote last summer – I may have already posted it but, that’s okay, I post again because now, unlike then, I can answer some of the questions. I suppose if we just allow our lives to progress as they should, we can find answers, but that’s not what we typically do, we force things to happen – patience is a virtue. Anyway, here it is, perhaps, again.

 

 
summer 2012
I couldn’t sleep past 5 am this morning even though my bedtime last night approached midnight. It’s good though, I have wanted to see the summer sunrise and hear the silence in my house and I did this morning. There is something special about the beginning of a day – the feeling of aloneness, a place to connect with yourself before the rattle of the day distracts you and you become the chameleon once again. I can see myself more clearly  and I can admit my fears and flaws  and I can get to know me a bit better here in the very early morning when the world is somewhere in the distant and I am “alone” in it. I set goals for myself in the quietness of this morning, simple things like starting a canvas I have already created in my head and packing away the childhood memories in Matt and Drew’s room and then more difficult things like completing  the unending book I began nearly a decade ago, a memoir about Miss Sue and another goal to untie a few more apron strings, to “let go” , to redefine my role as mom and view it more as a sideline “job” while , all the while, wearing my heart on the outside– this is tough after so many intense years of being in the middle of things but it’s rather restful also – less doing and more enjoying. This post is going nowhere…

 
 It’s nearly noon now and I have some reoccurring thought in my head. It’s about change, lifestyle change. I can’t maintain the appetite of my youth – I have to let a few things go before I get weighted down with age and upkeep. I think I will begin with the garden. I have been gardening in one capacity or another since I was 15; Miss Sue taught and inspired me then. I have, by early June, semi abandoned mine and as I look at it I realize it is like a child and needs a lot of attention if it is to blossom and reach its potential. As I look within myself I realize I am not willing to give it the time it needs, at least not now. I have discovered this wonderful place to give me compensation, however, the local Farmer’s Market. I will limit my garden next spring to a square root box containing tomatoes bell peppers and eggplant and maybe cucumbers. Done.

 
 

I am still debating about my chickens at this point. I really do enjoy the fresh eggs and do not trust anything in the supermarket so perhaps I will scale down my flock from 18 to just 4. This will have to take its natural course of course, for I do not cull chickens. From this bucolic scale down I propose and post, I hope to unveil time – time to paint, write, and leave, just for small excursions probably to visit my nomadic kids.

Then there is the question of this house – this huge great old house where I raised my family – what do I do? What do we do – us who have rooted ourselves in memories and a place and now want more flexible time and less domestic work; it seems a choice between sentiment and pragmatism – who wins? It’s a great place to accommodate my large family but nearly each day of the year, after Elizabeth leaves, it will be an oversized space for just two people. I do not want to be its slave nor do I want it to be my money pit – I can think of so many other places to throw money, places that make a contribution to someone. I am not prepared to answer this nagging question just now, I think more needs to unravel before I know the answer. I will just pay mind to the contents at this point and try to lighten the interior load and perhaps one day soon, I will know what to do with the rest.

 
Ok.There you have a fair portion of a summer day’s rambling – questions posed, few answered. Exhausting, but it does help to write it down.
 
 
 
 

b u

p s

winter

 
I drug the Christmas tree to the burning pile this morning.It is a guilty pleasure I suppose, to burn my very dead tree, but I recycle so much I need more than my allotted one roadside can and I compost nearly everything so, I burn my tree. I will sit there on a winter afternoon in January and I watch the fire while giving it a fond farewell. Anyway, along the way to its final resting place icicles fell from its branches. They are  there in the winter grass and I know, that this spring, when I cut the grass these fragments of this Christmas’ adornments will catch the light of the warm spring sun and glisten; I will see them and think of now. I will remember this Christmas. So, I leave them where they are and I say adieu to this holiday season and a fond farewell to the tree that occupied a special place our home for a while. 

 
I have not been outside in a few days so I explored a bit to see what winter had done. It has brought visitors from the North – small warblers camouflaged in the winter grass that seem to make the ground move as they do, it was enchanting to see them once again. And the starkness of the woods helped me to see through and be thankful for the lushness of summer but enjoying this moment to “look within”. The rabbits are there hiding in their holes and now and then darting about looking for food, sometimes I see their backsides – their cottontails – bounding about and I naturally think of Peter! And the raccoons come out at night, looking for food and threatening the smaller animals, I know that because of my diminished chicken population (sometimes I forget to close the door to the coop). Winter is challenging for animals and people.
I did find more camellias near the woods. I thought they were over by now but there are some left – almost a revitalization. Anyway, I picked a few for inside and one smaller one especially to sit in a Christmas present, a tiny pot Elizabeth made for me in her pottery class, one of my most treasured Christmas gifts. Even in winter there is beauty to bring inside.
LSU 1974
I suppose that is what I’m trying to say with this post, trying to remind you how each season has its purpose and its beauty – just as each season of our lives has its. Like spring and summer, our beauty and purpose is very much apparent in our youth but as we continue, like winter, the landscape becomes a bit more puzzling and our purpose must be redefined. As an art student I painted old, weathered faces – I had a fascination with and regard for the miles of life that were evident – years and years of wisdom, wisdom that needed a place to be. We all have purpose always, in each season of our lives. Just like the woods in winter, as time goes on, time gives us more opportunity to look within and redefine.
 Read the poem beneath and the first time you read it, think of it literally, think of the seasons, and them read it again and think of it figuratively and substitute the seasons of nature for the seasons of your life…
 
There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you…. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.Ruth Stout
 
 
b u
p s

 

what to do?

I couldn’t sleep past 5 am this morning even though my bedtime last night approached midnight. It’s good though, I have wanted to see the summer sunrise and hear the silence in my house and I did this morning. There is something special about the beginning of a day – the feeling of aloneness, a place to connect with yourself before the rattle of the day distracts you and you become the chameleon once again. I can see myself more clearly  and I can admit my fears and flaws  and I can get to know me a bit better here in the very early morning when the world is somewhere in the distant and I am “alone” in it. I set goals for myself in the quietness of this morning, simple things like starting a canvas I have already created in my head and packing away the childhood memories in Matt and Drew’s room and then more difficult things like completing  the unending book I began nearly a decade ago, a memoir about Miss Sue and another goal to untie a few more apron strings, to “let go” , to redefine my role as mom and view it more as a sideline “job” while , all the while, wearing my heart on the outside– this is tough after so many intense years of being in the middle of things but it’s rather restful also – less doing and more enjoying. This post is going nowhere…

a display of last year’s ambition
It’s nearly noon now and I have some reoccurring thought in my head. It’s about change, lifestyle change. I can’t maintain the appetite of my youth – I have to let a few things go before I get weighted down with age and upkeep. I think I will begin with the garden. I have been gardening in one capacity or another since I was 15; Miss Sue taught and inspired me then. I have, by early June, semi abandoned mine and as I look at it I realize it is like a child and needs a lot of attention if it is to blossom and reach its potential. As I look within myself I realize I am not willing to give it the time it needs, at least not now. I have discovered this wonderful place to give me compensation, however, the local Farmer’s Market. I will limit my garden next spring to a square root box containing tomatoes bell peppers and eggplant and maybe cucumbers. Done.

an easter egg chick
 I am still debating about my chickens at this point. I really do enjoy the fresh eggs and do not trust anything in the supermarket so perhaps I will scale down my flock from 18 to just 4. This will have to take its natural course of course, for I do not cull chickens. From this bucolic scale down I propose and post, I hope to unveil time – time to paint, write, and leave, just for small excursions probably to visit my nomadic kids.

Then there is the question of this house – this huge great old house where I raised my family – what do I do? What do we do – us who have rooted ourselves in memories and a place and now want more flexible time and less domestic work; it seems a choice between sentiment and pragmatism – who wins? It’s a great place to accommodate my large family but nearly each day of the year, after Elizabeth leaves, it will be an oversized space for just two people. I do not want to be its slave nor do I want it to be my money pit – I can think of so many other places to throw money, places that make a contribution to someone. I am not prepared to answer this nagging question just now, I think more needs to unravel before I know the answer. I will just pay mind to the contents at this point and try to lighten the interior load and perhaps one day soon, I will know what to do with the rest.
It’s difficult dealing with the wonderful memories of this place – perhaps I stayed too long?

Ok.There you have a fair portion of a summer day’s idle rambling – questions posed, few answered. Exhausting, but it does help to write it down.

b u
p s

changes

Staying flexible in life is definitely a survival skill we should all acquire. Especially if you are a parent and double that if you are a parent of 5. Just saying. There is some analogy about trees that don’t bend won’t last the storm – I find this to be so true. My life is changing just as the season is. Soon things will be different here and I hope the course that has been chosen will be a good one – as we all know, the answers are not in the back of the book, they are at the end of the journey.
Speaking of trees, they are turning here – ever so slightly, but they are. I can’t seem to be outside enough. Everything is changing, even the sounds, especially the birds. I am so satisfied with myself when I can be still enough to notice some of what this planet is doing to prepare for winter – it is a symphony that is lost to many. In the country it is still apparent and it truly sustains me.
b u
p s