Sunday, May 24, 2015

Bless You, Catastrophe of Stones

I suppose that there should be a blessing for stones, those broken piles of marble, granite and slate one finds in old cemeteries.

“Bless you stones, your broken piles, your tenacity to mark bones.  Bless you, catastrophe of stones.”

Bless whomever you guard, even if the only decipherable words say, “He, guy…”

Bless the nameless babes in a wall of “INFANTS”.  Fraziers these, an old name in Milton Freewater.

 High on hill this pioneer cemetery gathers the dust from the fields about and sprouts blooms for the dead, stands of lupine, stripes of purple.  While across the valley the newer cemetery is filled with vases of flowers and flags for veterans, this one is graced with only lupine and the stones and three trees.  And grass so tall that the waving heads cast shadows mirrored on the upright stones.

Bless the stones and those whom they guard.   

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Company Coming

"Company coming today," I said to my dog, Lizzie.  She was sitting next to me on the floor, while I put on my socks.  She immediately turned her head looked down the stairs and cocked her ears to hear the arrival of someone at the front door.  Although I was just making conversation more to myself than her, to my surprise she knew precisely the meaning of my words company coming.

Only recently have I begun to say company coming to her, but she is a quick learner.  Realizing that she had added these words to her list of known expressions, I began to feel guilty for not having given her more extensive vocabulary lessons.
Lizzie as a Tiny Puppy
But now, I shall begin.  She is four years old.  So much more grown up then when she first arrived as that tiny puppy.  She now is twenty-eight in human years.  She could have such a better receptive vocabulary than she has.  What should I include in the list of new words?

Two years ago I taught her travel meaning that we would be in a different place at the end of the day from where we had been at the beginning.  She seemed to at least absorb the excitement in my voice and responded accordingly.  I would love to say that that word is still in her repertoire, but I am afraid now that she might have lost it do to the lack of opportunity to be out on the road again.  Even though we are no longer traveling in it, I could begin teaching her more technical vocabulary to keep her abreast of the changing world.

 She knows the difference between an e-mail and a text message.  The latter she despises, as its incoming ring tone is so annoying.  If she is on my lap and hears that noise and I say text message, she'll jump down and go away.  She knows that if there is one text, there is almost always a second.  (I feel that she would prefer to be with someone, whose phone is so old, that texting is almost impossible.)  Maybe she would appreciate learning the words: hashtags (like #doggy social clubs or #dog park), Dogpile (search for one), or blogspot (might smell good).  

Lizzie asking for food.
That reminds me that she does have some mathematical skills; she can count to three.  I toss three treats into the grass in the morning after she has eaten.  Sometimes I count the treats as I throw them.  One, two, three.  I am sure that she is checking.  At the command go find, she races off of the deck to search-out three treats.  You would think that a Scottish English terrier would not mind getting her feet wet, but early morning she won't go into the grass without some encouragement in the form of treats.  Once there with the early morning dew having wet her paws, she will then wander and do her dog business.  I believe that she would appreciate learning higher math, but I have been reluctant so far to feed her more treats.  Ten.  One-hundred.  Infinite number.  She would translate learning higher math as dog joy.  

She already knows take photo.  When we are out walking, I'd stop to take a photo and she knew that there would be a little pause in the walk.  She had taught me the word smell, a stop for her expressed with butt to the ground and a refusal to move.  (Now that she knows that she can teach me dog, I am wondering what she is planning to add to my vocabulary.)

Table Duty
You would not expect a dog to have multiple definitions of words in their vocabulary, but you would be wrong.  Case in point.  Like the Weimaraner in the photo above, whom I met last year on a trip to Los Angeles, Lizzie likes to get on top of the table.  When I hear the kitchen table squeak, I know that Lizzie will be on it checking for crumbs.  From the other room I would yell No!, but Lizzie quickly would choose from her multiple definitions of No! and respond accordingly.  Get off the table (move quickly, surprised that Kathy knew what I was up to), stop begging (ignore this command), do not bark (time for just a few more well emphasized barks) or don't eat the cat food  (respond so slowly, that it will all be gone before Kathy could reach me).
I could add words to Lizzie's vocabulary like surgery, groggy, and pills.  Bey, the dog down the block, recently added these words to his vocabulary.  If Lizzie knew their meaning, she might be more cautious about her health.  For now she just sees Bey go by and admires his new outfit.  She does smell Bey on me and wonders why I smell a little like that worrisome place that she knows as vet's office.  She doesn't recall that they sell those stylish shirts.  Maybe vet's office has two meanings.  Worth considering in a dog's mind.      

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Send Photos. Fourth Year of Passing.

Photo by Sterling
If Gary could make a call from a phone booth somewhere up there in the beyond, he’d be giving us one of his famous pep talks, 101.  Today is the anniversary of his fourth year of his passing.  His lecture would be thoughtful and (maybe having heard it before) we would listen to him with a little wry smile knowing that he was right again and that also he really cared about us. Or he would just be championing our progress.  We owe him, so here is my suggestion. 
Photo by Gary McConnell
Gary loved taking photos.  He had an eye for this gorgeous world.  Some days now, I stop and look around and then channel the view to him.  He so loved clouds, and mountains, flowers and great blue herons.  Whether it is realistic or not that I could send him a mental photo is of really no consequence.  It doesn’t matter. The images feel like blessings, that can be tossed into the universe, heading them into the general direction, where I imagine him to be.  Express delivery.  

Photo by Gary McConnell of the Grande Ronde Valley
This day, nay this week, send him a photo.  Send him a postcard view of this world that he loved.  Just send it.  Send selfies and images of cool cars, flowers and humorous signs.  Clouds.  If he can receive them, he’ll know you're thinking of him.  Address them to “Beloved Gary,  Abha Kingdom."  Bless him. 
Photo of Gary by Kathy McConnell
 For many of his family this year has been a worthwhile one.  His kids:  Rebekah getting ready to go to college for a nursing degree. Marzieh happily married to John.  Sterling smiling about a new relationship.  Grandkids: Lucio looking at the world with hopeful eyes, Victoria becoming a beautiful young woman, & Josiah loving school.  Finnegan and John both beginning to show some character and talents.  And step-kids:  Laurie and Molly attending grad schools and both working hard.  And the latest family addition for Kelsey, his niece, a baby boy (tiny at birth, but doing well).  And I:   happy, writing, gardening and surrounded by many good and interesting friends.  "Life is good!" Gary would have said.  And it is.

Now get busy; send images.  Here is another one from him to you.
Walla Walla at Sunset by Gary McConnell

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mentons- A Nineteen-Year Procrastination

Menton Tulip
Nineteen years is as long as from the time I slipped out-of-the-womb and lost my first tooth, fell from a bike sans training wheels and mastered parallel parking.

 Nineteen years is as long the first day of college orientation, when I moved into a dorm wearing what I hoped was a cool-enough shirt, had my first job interview for the real world and began an IRA and mortgage payments.

 Nineteen years is as long as from the pregnancy test, elementary school volunteering to the FAFSA college-funding application for my child.

 Nineteen years is a long time to procrastinate.  But I did.    

My Mentons
Nineteen years ago, when I saw Menton tulips in a front yard a few blocks away, I knew who owned the house and tracked down the owner to get the name of the flowers.  I intended to buy a few of the bulbs and to plant them in the front yard of the house, that I had just purchased.

Tulips are planted in the fall.  And fall was always one of the busiest times of year for me at school.  By spring when tulips began appearing- the usual red and early yellow ones, I would remember the intention to plant Mentons.  Sometimes mid-year, I’d be thumbing a catalog of plants and run across them.  They were rare enough that they had to be ordered from somewhere from a catalog.  But winter was too late and, at the same time, too early for the next year.  So I would forget again or be too busy.  I somehow continued to recall that they were salmon pink inside and some sort of soft pink and yellow outside.

Retired now, last fall I put “Find Mentons” on my list of intentions.  I wasn’t even sure that they were still sold.  But they were.  Purchased from a catalog they arrived in a brown cardboard box last October. 

 Nineteen years is a long time to wait for something.  It was so worth it.  Find Mentons.  Put them on your list and hopefully don’t procrastinate nineteen years.

My summer intention is to strip and varnish those molding boards, which I had pulled from a house that was being demolished nineteen years ago.  My house has been waiting for them.  No more procrastination for me.  Nineteen is my magic number.  I wonder now if I have nineteen boards to strip.  Hmmm.