Day 47: Plague and Pestilence

Shower Thoughts: Vehicles today can surf the web, link to your phone, stream music and videos, etc.. but they still can’t perform a simple database lookup to tell you what the check engine light is on for.

My breakfast: strong coffee with coconut creamer, bagel, two hard-boiled eggs with my NEW favorite spice Tajin, which is chili peppers, sea salt and lime. What’s on your plate?

Good morning.  How ya’ doing today?  Are you up with the birds like me? If so imagine the two of us clinking our coffee cups together in a toast for a good day. *cheers*  Although there are many thoughts racing around my mind this morning, I’m just not too sure what to write about. It’s SO much–there are SO many topics.

The way I feel this morning reminds me of what my doctor said when he was mentally preparing me for the birth of my first child 30 years ago. He said something like, “As you know from the childbirth and newborn book I gave you the cervix will expand to 10 cm gradually.  The body will slowly open and prepare the way for the baby to exit the body.  Labor pains are just that—pain.  However, at the peak of labor, when the head and shoulders exit, that is the maximum expansion, alright.  Now, when that happens, the skin, muscles, and other tissue are SO stressed and at their limit, the nerves stop sending pain signals and basically the mother feels no pain.  Now, isn’t that something to look forward to?”  Sounds perfect.  Thanks, doc.  Men say this because they can’t possibly imagine a watermelon exiting their body from ANY hole, much less one that was made specifically for that purpose.  I know he was trying to be encouraging but, well, whatever.

Yesterday I had a write out!  I met with a friend on her front porch for a mask-wearing, 6 feet apart sitting, write out.  She has a cute classic home over in the Sunnyland Neighborhood.  Builders back in the early and mid-1900s understood the value of a good front porch—they are the original SOCIAL PLATFORM.  Our activity feels like we transported back to perhaps the 1950s, waving at neighbors as they walked by, shouting at another asking if they want some tomatoes cages, stuff like that.  This neighborhood is fortunate to be within walking distance of a great grocery store, bus lines, and parks.  In Bellingham, we are allowed to walk outside without citation but advised to not travel too far or too much or with too many people. This is to help reduce the chances of accidents in an effort to keep the hospital free from preventable causes.  In addition to friendly foot traffic, my friend also has many bird visitors.  She throws out some saltines to a crow she recognizes and then says to me “LOOK! He’s going to burying it up in that houses roof gutter”, and he does.

Later she offers me some sun tea she made.  I accept…and then there is another sign that the times are not themselves.  The freshly poured glass of tea is placed on the table. I wait for her to sit down, and then I stand to retrieve it.  It is possibly too dangerous, too rude, or hostile to be close enough to HAND someone something with an unloved hand.  Are we two ladies enjoying sun tea on a fine May afternoon, or are we masked rebels toying with death?

 

Here is an old poem I found in my notebook.  Think I’ll play with it a bit more.

The Salting Room
or Watching Cooking Shows Home Sick with the Flu (April 2019)
by Shannon Laws

The butcher knows if the pig was happy

red cow parmesan from a free-range life tastes better
solid and liquid
curds and whey
the Salting Room
20 months- sweet and rich
30 months- amino acids start
40 months- salty-sweet bitter

mother sits at the chair
closest to the kitchen
Fat transforms in the pan
in the oven, in the crock

we laugh and cry cutting onions with friends
I keep my miso to two or three years
hidden and pressed

Roll the dough until
it resists your thumb.
Debone and roll to a
long round roast.

Salt the meat
give it time
###

Here is my current mood expressed in a meme.  Enjoy your day my friendly bot.  -S

Little Words

MC Escher Three Worlds I
M.C. Escher Three Worlds, 1955

This morning I am thinking about a friend I use to know, when I lived in a different town.  I’ll call her “N”.  N has brain damage caused by an accident and a stroke.  I do not know how or when she got it; I never asked.  N has a speech tick, which means she communicates using only three, very limited sentences:  “Oh well”, “Oh, I don’t know about that”, and “Yes”.  She only shakes her head for “No”.

She smiles constantly.  It’s rare to see her frown or upset, because little upsets her.  N’s smile, crooked as it is, is horribly contagious.  She uses it to every advantage, often for non-verbal communication, such as *smile* Yes, I want that book, or *smile* More water please.

“Oh well” is her favorite phrase to use.  If we were playing a game and she didn’t win, Oh well.  If her drink spills over, Oh well.  She says the phrase in the exact tone, with open arms, EVERY TIME.  N and I met up about once a week for over a year.  In a “normal” relationship we would have known too much about each other by then, instead we built up a “getting use to each other” bond.

 

GETTING TO KNOW YOU?

I grew to like N.  I would come over and play BINGO, and read to her.  There was something more behind those eyes that made me curious.  I just didn’t feel like it my place to ask too many personal questions about her, so I didn’t.  However, the artifacts in her room gave a few hints of her life before the brain damage.  For example, on the middle of the wall, in clear view, space is committed to her full-nude self portrait, tastefully done in an abstract watercolor.  Judging by the style and frame it looked like it was from the late 1970’s.  She appears as a strong, confident woman, proud of her body.  Was N a feminist?

Many photos of her family, her children and grandchildren rest among books on the shelves, books about art, other languages, foreign countries, murder mysteries.  The frayed edges on the paperbacks suggest she’s read them all.  Sadly, the stroke took away her ability to read.  She holds her books, quietly in her lap; she loves to hold them, open to a page just right of middle.

 

DO YOU KNOW ME?

One month I was depressed.  After realizing my 20 year marriage was over, I walked around in a zombie state, adjusting to the thought of it.  Everything was foggy.   I analyzed and over analyzed everything.

It was fall, the season that readies us for winter.  I continued to see N.  Her big smile lit up my day.  Her unending, seemingly, optimistic attitude encouraged me.  However, I did not believe she was capable of recognizing my mood, the slight change in my behavior, until one day.

An afternoon in October, I wheeled her back to her bedroom after a BINGO game.  She smiled at me to open her curtains.  N has a wonderful garden view.  When I pushed back the curtains I was shocked to see the whole yard was covered in large, orange maple leafs!

“Wow!” I proclaimed from the window, “N, look at your yard!  All the leaves have fallen down!”

The majestic maple, older than the building we stood in, was barren of foliage.  Black branch tips wiggled like horse whips in the wind.  The once lush and lively view of iris stocks, azaleas, rhododendrons and lawn was gone, buried beneath the tree’s litter, cancelling out any hint of green.

She looked out.  Then at me.  Then out again.  Our eyes met.

With comical timing she opened her arms―“Oh well.”

We laughed together.  Her comment touched a tender spot in my heart, tears came down my face.

Tears came down N’s smiling face.

She was crying with me.

And I was thankful.

 

***

 

 

Poetry: Table Lamp












Table Lamp


Lamp with beads
around the edge,
decorations designed 
to reflect light,
accent the bulbs 
efforts.
heavy brass base
keeps the stand from 
falling.  fabric leaks 
out just enough
rays to comfort the 
room.
warm glow bounces 
off your cheek as 
we talk.  steam from 
a tea cup mists the
vision.
     This is a gentle memory

Girlfriends

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than 
walking alone in the light.”
-Helen Keller


Girlfriends are important. Might be old news to you, but it’s new to me. Acquaintances worked just fine for many years, or so I thought. My home and work life kept me distracted from having close friends. Woman, especially moms, do this to themselves, too often. Perhaps it’s because as modern woman we are encouraged to be independent, strong, and sometimes that’s interpreted to… BE ALONE.

 It’s no wonder how some of us wake up one morning with a big chip on our shoulder. Well, guess what girlfriend, you did that to yourself, because you always think you have to do everything BY yourself. Life is a burden and joy that should be shared. This is what I’m learning.

My Grandma Mimi shared one of her favorite “girlfriend stories” that happened during her 50 year career as a Registered Nurse. From 1966 to 1970 Grandma was looking for adventure. She applied to work at a remote family care facility outside of Anchorage, Alaska. The patients were mostly Native Eskimo, Yupik or Inuit woman and their children, plus various locals who worked in the nearby towns. Although located in the “wild frontier” the rules at the clinic were anything but wild, especially for the woman. All the nurses, candy strippers to RN’s, were housed in a dorm-like wing of the hospital. It felt more like a prison that home.

At the end of day, these young ladies wanted to get out and go have fun in town.  However, the stern Head Nurse forbid the nurses from drinking in public, dancing, and held them to an early curfew. Nurses back then had an image to uphold.  If nurses broke the rules they could be seriously reprimanded and even fired, their professional and personal reputation stained for life!

These 10-15 ladies in Mimi’s dorm, all strangers, brought together for work decided to make the most of their situation. Some quietly gathered up cigarettes, cards, liquor, one figured out the perfect volume level for the phonograph.

 At the end of a long day, after curfew, and once the Head Nurse had left the building, they’d all crawl out of bed; sit on the floor, room lit only by a few flashlights, played cards, smoked and listen to music!  They never got caught.  They were working girls, and friends.

Girlfriends are important to have in the best and worst of times. Having a card party on the floor may not of been the adventure Grandma was looking for when she went to Alaska, but the friendships she made during those years lasted long into her life.  The memories of those times, good times with good friends, I’m sure carried her through the many trails in the years to come.

Girlfriends rule!