the great dream

When I was about 19, I had this remarkable dream that I would have a son one day who would be a seer. I wouldn’t know what that meant until almost ten years later when an audiologist confirmed our baby boy was deaf.baby dane by paul adamsFor the most part, I put off the grief about that news for almost 25 years. Instead, I thought of that dream and dove into its goodness . . . this was going to be about seeing, not about not hearing.

How that boy could see . . . always different than everyone else . . . inside the soul and outside the lines. One morning when he was maybe four or five, he woke up earlier and happier than usual. I came into the kitchen to find him already at the table with crayons and paper drawing something with the kind of intensity that pushes tongue out over lip. IMG_1285He beamed up at me . . . held up his drawing of this scene:
“Last night I dreamt you a raccoon.”grillermanThe years have been full of such gifts . . . deafness has given me much more than it ever cost me. But it cost a lot–frustration, raging at the world that wasn’t kind, patient or just; my guilt and vulnerability and trust and doubt and confusion and exasperation. 57939750759__6A759E99-7933-4451-9669-9D7A815FD90D
But not with my son, at least no more than usual when your kid sasses back, whacks his brother, launders his hearing aids, skips school, keeps dating a bad girlfriend, and trades his sensible car in for a super-jacked ATV.me and DaneNow we are writing a book together, and more gifts come at me a myriad of ways. Things I wondered about in the days before he had enough language to tell me what he felt have come pouring forth. We are waking and dreaming together.IMG_4746We laugh, we cry, we find each other in new ways and discover we were never lost, not even once. Even now when he lives a thousand miles away and days pass without a word, I can feel him in the darkness of every kind of distance. For me, this hasn’t been about seeing or hearing, but about feeling.

 

the write stuff

I write every day for a living, and as a hobby, I also write (and take photos).

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If I could do this any other way, I’m sure I would. But perhaps you can relate–knowing what you are here to do brings a kind of peace along with torment . . . the poison and the antidote . . . the creative imperative . . . the sleeping and waking. Elaine Pagels quoted it best here:

“If you bring forth that which is in you, what you bring forth will save you.
If you do not bring forth what is in you, what is in you will destroy you.”
– Elaine Pagels quoting from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas

On her own steam

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On the day we learned about the college admissions scandal, my daughter was accepted into a selective business school that she found (on her own) and applied for (on her own) and will transfer to next fall. She shared this with us via text, as if it weren’t skype-worthy (it was). I couldn’t possibly overstate my pride in her and am dedicating this post to Makena.

 

You know how you can’t take your eyes off your newborn . . . how every breath and noise and smell and feel are cliff-hanging you for the next moment? The crescendo of her baby cries or laughter . . . the plot-thickening with her new words and discoveries (and hair color changes) . . . the incredulous day of departure that was kindergarten, summer camp, graduation . . . and is now adulthood.

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It’s been like that for me for 22 years now, although the cliffhangers have become more hair-raising: six months backpacking across the UK within a month of high school graduation, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail for six months, trekking around Iceland for six weeks, and the next adventure: working on an elephant preserve in Thailand this summer.

 

In the midst of all that, she has stayed on the honor roll, always kept a part-time job (including being an R.A. in her dorm), and survived some horrific experiences including discovering a suicide on her hall. Her MIH (Make It Happen) Factor is so off-the-charts that my fears for her safety are mostly eclipsed by her track-record.

 

She is one of the most capable human beings I know, and I remain in a constant state of awe.

All I can think to say at this point is YOU ARE WELCOME, WORLD!!!

CU bound

character study

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The grove of pecan trees had been planted generations earlier, long before Hodge was born in the shelling shed to Esperanza, who left him there when it was time to move on with the crew to pick the next farm. His mother gave him his first name, although he never used it. Also, the umber cast to his skin that set him apart in Missouri in 1927.

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From Grigg Hamblin, Hodge would inherit the land where the trees had been set out in orderly rows along the floodplain.

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From the trees, he got both a living and an identity. As if he’d been bred for it, and perhaps he was, Hodge was the special kind of being that is a pecan farmer. Atop sturdy, straight legs, he was mostly trunk supporting a thick V of shoulders, muscles knotting his arms down to long fingers. A head of nut-brown curls went uncut during the harvest season when he didn’t even bother to return to the house at night.

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Arizona Hodges Hamblin belonged only to the trees, and that’s how it went until he was almost 30.

© 10/18

littorally

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After work last Wednesday, I dropped the kayak in and paddled up river to the beaver lodge, taking in the only news I can stomach these days.

 

A pair of trumpeter swans (black billed) have found a congenial welcome by Keats, the omnipresent mute swan (orange billed). Keats is a curmudgeon with uncompromising rules about his territory. Yet there he was being nice. This is above-the-fold news, people.

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As the sun set, I paddled back towards my house on the peninsula. There’s plenty of yard work to do and writing deadlines weighing me down, yet the water gives me a sense of calm. It’s hard to feel pressure or anxiety here. I am happy with the idea of growing old in this littoral place that is now serendipitously mine . . . the hard work of getting here rewarded by a contentment both unfamiliar and constant.

IMG_5690I may just mark my height on a doorsill and measure how much shorter I get every year I grow older and new in this place.

a wee dram then a dousin’

Feeling my ancestors calling me, so I’m heading back to the old country in just a few weeks. Here’s a good example (from 2015) of why it feels like home . . .

the hour of soft light...

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After a well manneredly morning of service at the Church of Scotland on the Isle of Gigha off the Kintyre Peninsula, the local historian (and relative to practically everyone living here) Alasdair Mc whose family has lived here “a thousand years” invited me back to his farm (circa 1750ish) for a look at the parish records to find my ancestors here.

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They abound . . . it was such fun, the BEST of travel.  (I am such a cheap date.)

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His wife set us up with a wee dram and I wish I had another right now because the weather has turned blustery cold today.

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The ferry back to the mainland ‘ll be sloshin’ and it’ll be awhile before I feel the warmth of yesterday.

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There are many ways Scotland has to warm ye.

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“I told him about chairs but not about bushes.”

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Plans are underway for an international conference set for this June in the lovely resort town of Bad Ischl high up in the Alps. I’m on the planning committee for this event and had to go looking this morning for some photos to use for promotional purposes. Here’s a shot I took and will use, along with what I wrote in 2016 that won’t make the promo:

I can’t recall why she said it, but the woman who said “I told him about chairs but not about bushes” is from Lithuania and struggles to express herself in English . . . so does the man from Mauritania who always smiles and has an enthusiastic YES down pat, but little else. He is a medical doctor in his world, but in this country he can barely order schnitzel. He greeted me over midmorning tea with, “How fine are you?”

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The communication misfires are nothing short of poetic at times. I’m at a conference where at least 39 countries are represented, many of them small developing nations. I’ve rarely felt so ethnocentric (and ashamed of it). Elvira from Herzegovina says the flowers are so smelly here in Austria. Yes, I nod in agreement, they certainly are.

And the Women Said

“And the Women Said” by Kelly Grace Thomas | Rattle: Poetry
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Kelly Grace Thomas

AND THE WOMEN SAID

And the women said watch as men call us lottery tickets
watch as they cash register us into gamble into played
out combinations of sweaty bills and pocket want
watch as they lick their lips for that better life
watch as they pout, when we don’t pay out.
When the bling of our breasts don’t make them
Cheshire cat the same. When we got our own debts
that gotta be paid, to mirrors, to mammas, to the way our hearts
traffic light in the closet after we sold ourselves
whole.
And the women said feel the way we became campfire
how we ghost storied into this dangerous beauty.
How them men can’t scrub out our smoke, how our blue learned
to burn slow, standstill like the moment between beggin and maybe.
Feel the way we soil into shovel, how we let ourselves be held even
after a matchbox tongue misspoke of our flames, even after we told flint,
you don’t live here no more. The women said feel how we are not open
fields waiting for their strike. They cannot not bury us
deep, call us things of war and be surprised
when we land mine.

from Rattle #51, Spring 2016
Tribute to Feminist Poets
2017 Neil Postman Award Winner

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