Thursday, October 15, 2009


An-unusual-night-out-on-our-small-town included the authors’ readings at our luscious indie bookstore, which in a larger city would be considered trendy. Afterwards I picked up a paperback, one of those not with a slick covering but with that thick pulpy cover that screams Quality. Both the owner and the very-knowledgeable clerk were behind the counter. As the clerk took my money and handed me the book, I could hear the rain pounding the sidewalks. My next stop was a small bar a block away.

“Can you put that in something?” I asked.

The clerk looked flummoxed.

“A bag,” the owner whispered. “She wants a bag.”

The clerk heaved a sigh of relief and dug under the counter. He fished up a thin paper sack. If I carried my new compelling book out in that sack, within seconds it would swell up like a marshmallow without me even having had the pleasure of reading it in the tub.

"Do you have plastic?” I asked.

I think for a second the universe stopped. In a musical it would have been the moment after poor orphaned Oliver said, "More food, please."

The clerk began pawing under the counter again.

“We don’t have any plastic,” the owner said. “We don’t have any plastic,” he repeated, his voice an octave lower.

“No plastic,” the clerk whispered.

I considered how big a carbon footprint I would make if I left my book and came back the next day to pick it up, if it weren't still raining which it had been doing almost every day for six weeks as if we lived in Oregon and not in Mississippi.

In silence the three of us stared, them at me, me at them, and then the three of us at a plastic bag filled with store supplies someone had left on the counter.

“Here’s a plastic bag.” The owner sounded as if a life raft had been spotted from his sinking ship.

“A plastic bag,” the clerk said. He could have been making a toast.

Folks, there were maybe fifty people in that classy bookstore that rainy night, all buying books m a d e o u t o f p a p e r. I was the only one who requested plastic.

I promised to use the bag to pick up my dog’s poop. The clerk laughed, but it could have just been nervousness.

Of course I repeated the story to my husband when I got home, just as I’m telling you now.

“Green,” said the curmudgeon. “It’s the new puce.”

He’s a smart man. I am sure he knows puce is not really a green. He just liked the way puce sounded. Say it out loud. You'll understand.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

From the Bag of Odd Things

note: my father was in Methodist rehab, nearing the end of a hospital journey that began August 18, 2001 and left him paralyzed from the chest down. In days we would be headed home, to see if I could take care of him there. I must have found these bulletins in some waiting area of the hospital. For some reason, I took to Jennifer and Michael.

Two handwritten photocopied church bulletins, dated Sunday Jan 6, 2002:

Inside the cross on the first, someone had printed Michael God Love you don't forget

Inside, the following exchange:

Don't go to sleep.

first of all not going sleep I think about some

What? The sermon. or our blessings.

Yeah. also wonder if I have job or not but long as I keep pray I'm really scary I not going have job.

The Lord's will be done. Let's not speak on it anymore just and wait and keep the faith.

When we get finish with communion I find to go I sit here long another why should I sit up in her for meet for I belong this church you sit up in here you want you just be sit here. Next person get up talk over minute I gone. Sincerly, Jennifer

I stay you stay. Sister that's the way it's gonna be.

Then you just see other people leave I'm going anyway now how you like those apple If know you be bad I made you stay at home.

Sorry but I needed a laugh. God forgive me this morning.

you know what at least man up sing doing his best. if that old man sing another song you start laugh I get up say my boyfriend want sing how you like those apple.

as a foot note:

How we gonna get to West today without gas.

I got some mones

Monday, September 21, 2009

Still We Try

from the quote archives

Mr. Raney named the porpoises—Sister Woman, and Renford, and Lamar, and St. Elmo—and could recognize them, and call each by its name, even at night, six feet long some of them, with a million sharp teeth and a naughty grin. Often when he floated past in the boat and watched their playful wheeling, in and out among the cypress knees, he called out to them, “Lamar, we are all alone in the world.” Or “Renford, cork is an export of India!”

The echoes of his voice across the wide water of the bayou was like a heartbreaking song, a music of the swamp.

Hydro said, one time, many times, “Do they understand what you tell them?”

Mr. Raney said, each time. “Nobody knows.”

Lewis Nordan, Music of the Swamp

Thursday, September 17, 2009

More from the notecard archives

The obscure we eventually see.

The obvious takes much longer.

source unknown

Discussion question:

What do you think?

Moderator's take:

My friend drove a beat-up car with a stick shift. We called it the Batmobile, but this is just an aside and not pertinent to the point, though just the name conjures up a lackadaisical delicious distraction of tumbling years of memories, thanks, Jenne, oops, back to the point. One day she took me to the pipeline site parking lot out by Baxter Labs to teach me to shift. After bucking the car across the lot, a door flew open, our school books fell out, and somehow I ran right over them.

"Why do you always do things the hard way?" she said.

I didn't know then and I don't know now. Could today's quote have some relationship to this?

Hint: "always do things the hard way?"

Monday, September 14, 2009

From the Notecard Archives

She found no easy answer, but instead quoted Rilke: "Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves." "Perhaps that is the deepest source and the greatest power of self-respect," she concluded, "learning to live with the questions that have no answer."

source unknown

Thursday, September 10, 2009

If You Don't Know What You Have, How Can You Let It Go?

I once knew a woman who had a resale store in a town too small to claim an establishment as fancy as a ‘shop’. I who at that time loved flitching perfectly good items from other people’s trash was a fool for a resale store.

The loft was filled with frayed clothes overstuffed on hangers and heaped on the floor, clothes so lifeless I could not imagine the fabric transformed into cleaning rags. The woman and her husband bought things in lots at auction. Once they purchased a truck load of shoes, only to discover the shoes were manufacturer’s samples, shoes in all sizes but for the left foot only. A family with a one-legged gene could have been well-shod for the rest of their lives.

Underneath the loft was reserved for discarded toys—puzzles missing pieces, games missing parts, limp and grayed stuffed animals, dolls without arms. The rest of the ground floor was mostly filled with the grim detritus of defunct households, bulbous lamps, orange and brown dented pots with yellow splotchy mushrooms, broken clocks, nondescript dishes with dingy cracks, the occasional sprung chair that looked like small animals lived in it. Nothing that even a seasoned garbage gleaner would want to brush against, much less rescue, though everything was priced to sell.

Then I spotted the fireplace shield. It looked copper, with an elegant spreading oak pressed almost from edge to edge, each distinct leaf gleaming. I can still see that magnificent shield and I covet it today, though I didn’t then and probably never will have a fireplace. There was no price tag affixed. “How much is this?” I asked, mentally rearranging my budget so I could carry home my prize.

“I can’t sell that,” she said. “It might be valuable.”

I was shy and she was shy, so we did not haggle over the unsalability of the perhaps copper shield. She did tell me she refused a handsome offer from a rich lady the week before, so I would know it wasn’t only unavailable to me.

I prowled the musty aisles, casually eyeing the shelves of intact, unpriced glassware behind the cash resister. When I got too close, she spoke up. “I can’t sell you those. That’s why I keep them back there. They might be valuable.”

She seemed nervous that I was looking. I knew then that anything I might find attractive enough to carry home, she would have to keep, because if she sold it she might later discover a treasure had slipped from her grasp.

I gave up. On my way out I spotted a little wind-up metal gorilla. When I fiddled with the rod that required a missing key, I could get the gorilla to stagger a couple of steps and sputter sparks. A horrible walking thing. My boy would love it.

It had no price tag, either. “How much?” I asked.

“I couldn’t sell you that,” she said. “You just take that with you. It ain’t worth nothing.”

Friday, September 4, 2009

Slap U-mami*

*umami—the fifth flavor, savory, which enhances all the other flavors
*Slap yo momma—what we say down home to signify approval; i.e., it was so good it made you want to slap yo momma.

Why is it when I order

Linguine with Crawfish & Andouille Sausage with artichokes, tomatoes, mushrooms & basil pesto in a creole-cream sauce

and I think it can’t get any better than this,

and she orders

Penne with Beef Tenderloin & Portobello Mushrooms in a tomato & Noilly Prat vermouth brothlaced with pancetta

and she says hers is very, very good,

but before the meal is over, she leans forward and says, “I’m just going to have to have one little taste of yours," and she takes a bite and her mouth gets round and her eyes get rounder and she says, “I know what I’m going to have to order next time,"

in that instant my creole-creamy drenched everything does, it gets even better?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Power of Narrative

Life was a little rough for young Grace and Mary, a bit hard-scrabble. Their stern father and their illiterate mother who kept to themselves weren’t like other parents. The girls sensed their classmates looked down on them. They were excluded from activities that make a girl feel prom-ish and girly. High school seemed like a club they were never invited to join. When it came time for them to leave home, they wanted to spare their little sisters the pain of not fitting in, so they decided to give the younger girls a parting gift.

Together the older girls made a totem. One night they invited their little sisters to join them in a meeting, saying it had to be a secret because their parents didn’t want outsiders knowing about the family. “We’re going to tell you our history,” Grace said. With great ceremony the older sisters began story weaving. “Our great-grandmother was the daughter of an important chief,” Grace said. Before Grace and Mary left, they told the younger girls of the strength and bravery of their great-grandmother. Of how she had cared for her people. Of how she had persevered no matter how hard life got for her.

Grace and Mary presented the girls with the totem. “Keep this to remember who you are and what blood flows in your veins,” Grace said. “Always, no matter what anybody says, know what you are capable of."

The stories worked as Grace and Mary had hoped they would. Full of confidence their younger sisters were cheerleaders and homecoming queens. They were joiners and leaders. They lived the happy life Grace and Mary dreamed about when they were in school.

Many years later, one of the younger girls, now a woman with children of her own, called Grace to tell her about the book the P.T.A. was using as a fundraiser. People had contributed stories about family origins, and their story, along with a picture of the totem, was featured. Wasn’t Grace proud?

“You can’t do that,” Grace said.

“It’s done,” said her sister. "Your copy is on the way."

Grace had never confessed the truth to the younger two. “After we left home, we never really talked about things with them. Mary and I were seekers, always exploring the edge. The younger two loved convention. They lived within ‘the box’ and excelled in it. Because we didn’t fit their mold, they were uneasy around us. It was as if we came from different worlds.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Theology On the Way Home from La Piñata or A Little Tap Dancing to A Course in Miracles

she: How do you change your mind? She had been thinking about a situation she wished had ended differently, about feelings that, if she followed them, could be hard or sad.

What do you believe? What do you know?

she: I don’t know anything.

he: You’re on your way, then.


he: And if you don’t like what you believe, believe something else.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Happiness---well, it just is

Happiness, we do not find it, we make it. Happiness does not depend on what we lack, but how we use what we have. Arnaud Desjardins

K: I like this although if I think about it too long, it takes on a lecture-y tone.

D: Happiness. I tend to think it's elemental, like oxygen. We just need to quit holding our breath.


Friday, August 28, 2009

What do you believe?

In The Third Man Factor George Geiger reports many cases where people, most often in extreme risk, sense a supportive companion who accompanies them. In his review of the book for Wall Street Journal, Michael Ybarra cites a few of these people: mountaineer Herman Buhl, the first person who climbed the Nanga Parbat in the Himalayas; Charles Lindberg on his 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic; Ron DiFrancesco, the last man to leave the collapsing World Trade Center in September 11, 2001. As Ybarra quotes Geiger:

"Over the years," Mr. Geiger writes, "the experience has occurred
again and again, not only to 9/11 survivors, mountaineers, and
divers, but also to polar explorers, prisoners of war, solo sailors,
shipwreck survivors, aviators, and astronauts. All have escaped
traumatic events only to tell strikingly similar stories of having
experienced the close presence of a companion and helper."

People in isolation, children and even Mr. Geiger himself at seven when he was threatened by a rattlesnake have felt this unseen presence.

I don’t know if it’s the same, but I know of people whom I trust who have reported extraordinary phenomena. My closest friend says his house was plagued by a poltergeist when his mother moved her father in over the father’s protests. The poltergeist remained after the grandfather died. One dying friend talked me about the young man with flowing blond hair who set next to me on the couch as I visited her in her hospital room. Another friend, also dying, told me about the people in her life whom she loved and who had died that came to talk to her when she was awake alone at night.

I’ve never experienced the unseen companion, but I’ve had enough precognitive and ESP experiences to believe we are connected in many ways that can’t be explained logically at this time. Because these experiences cannot be quantified, their veracity is up for grabs. Some people chalk psychic experiences up to coincidence or deluded thinking. Those unseen or only-visible-to-you companions? There are those who feel they are divine intervention and others who think they are hallucinations. Scientists have discovered they can trigger the companion experience by stimulating a certain area of the brain with electricity. That in itself should be enough to discredit a ‘supernatural’ explanation, right?

But what about the wide spread belief held by most people that they can talk to people who are not immediately in their presence? Scientists have studied this phenomenon extensively and have located a certain object among all the objects available to modern life that, in a person’s presence, when stimulated with energy, can reproduce this result. The person thinks the object rings or chimes or makes some signal, and the person can then talk to another person not in the physical vicinity.

When it comes right down to it, no one experiences anything directly. My dog is lying on the couch. So I think. So I believe. But in order to think and believe that, I must use my senses to detect what I’m calling a dog, and those senses flood the synapses that trigger chemical impulses in my brain which my brain interprets as Spunky, my dog on my couch. For me to believe this dog is real, I can only rely on the chemical and electrical activity in my brain. And speaking of chemical and electrical activity? With my sad state of scientific knowledge and know-how, if I am going to believe in them, I’m going to have to take the word of folks who have a lot more rocket-science sense than I do.

We are told by those brainiacs there are many more dimensions than we can not experience in our physical bodies. But if I could catch a whiff of one of these mostly inaccessible dimensions, wouldn’t it just make sense I am going to have to use the tool that I use to discern everything else in my life?

This is when my sly brainiac leaning-toward-Buddhist nonscientist likes to say, “Actually, none of it is real--the unseen companion, the dog, the couch, me, you.” That’s when my mind rolls into a ball like a porcupine, all my mental quills aquiver. And if my very-much-physical companion is feeling especially frisky, he might whisper, “If God is at all, God is all there is.”

That’s when my mental activity comes screeching to a halt. While I like thinking about ESP and precognition, poltergeists, and invisible company, I cannot wrap my thoughts further than that. Instead I focus on happiness, that illusive factor I invite to be my companion on the rest of this journey and beyond…whether anyone can prove it’s 'real' or not.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Big Blow Out

One reason why wearing underpants might be a good idea:

You discover your old, scruffy, soft, baggy around-the-house pants have split in the back from waist band to crotch only after you’ve leisurely strolled your dogs around your Rated-G neighborhood with the day-care center on the far corner.

The upside of going pantiless:

your beloved husband points out big white granny panties might have been a lot more obtusive than your demurely flesh-tinted nether cheeks.

The moral:

If you show your ass, it's good to be lucky in love.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


The sky is emptiest the morning after the evening you first notice they are not there. It’s only then you know they're really gone.

After that, the forgetting sets in.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Quote Sent by Keetha...did you feel the universe expanding?

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born. - Anais Nin

Friday, August 21, 2009

from the notecard archives

The M & M Grocery and Abiding Truth Universal Gospel Church

a sign on a very small building in the middle of the country between Charleston and Coffeeville, MS, maybe 20 years ago.

If you're wondering, I have a garbage bag full of notecards. A black plastic garbage bag...the lawn size.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

found quote

I've always found it is more fun to ride the winds of change than to do battle with them.
Jeanne Marie Laskas, A Garden in Winter

Sunday, August 16, 2009

only a day a-w-a-y

It was June before I planted my tomatoes in large pots. The tomatoes bloomed profusely but never set fruit. My family botonist suggested the summer heat was the culprit. He was right. The temperature has dropped, and now I have four--count them--four--tomatoes. I immediately emailed a friend who had great tomato success last year.

With each little knobbly tomato, my hope was renewed, I told her. I would pot my next tomatoes at the proper time, the Friday before Easter, and I would have vines as lush as hers had been.

My friend had just moved from one state to another. She said her husband had tossed her tomatoes in order to move the pots so she could use them in the future. "Many of them had blossom end rot, anyway," she said, "There's always next year, mantra of sports fans and gardeners everywhere."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Another of Life's Teachable Moments

Cousin #1, just prior to exiting the room, explaining why she had left this small town to move to a large city a thousand miles distant: Everybody here knows what you are doing and they talk about your business.

Post exit, Cousin #2 to Cousin #3: If she doesn't want people talking about her, she shouldn't live such an interesting life.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Rough Girls in 7th Grade Hisory Class Offered to Meet Me Behind the Keen Freeze and Beat Me Up Because When They Giggled, I Stared

When I took the dogs out for a final potty break before we went to bed, the cop had pulled over a speeder just one house down from my yard. The dogs took their time.

I couldn't help myself. I stared. It's what I do. The red and blue strobe effect was powerful. And my lopsided trifocals didn't help at all.

I told my husband about it the next morning. "I guess that cop was about ready to put up some curtains," I said.

"If they don't want you looking, they shouldn't turn on the lights," he said.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Is It All About Me?

My neighbors have a sun room they use as a t.v. room, with deep sofas and a comfy chair, and that big screen television facing the street. Several mornings ago I noted they had covered the street window with heavy, light-proof least the industrial-looking lining seems that way. For the life of me I can not fathom why they would cut themselves off like that. They've lived there for several years, and I walk my dog on the sidewalk next to the house twice a day, and in all these years, though I've looked every time, I'ved never spotted a person in that room even once.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Random Quote

Go on loving your friend, whatever happens...Learn through this to love without expecting anything. To love the Divine you must learn to give everything and ask nothing. With C you can train for this abandon. The heart must break to become large. When the heart is broken open God can put the whole Universe in it.

Hidden Journey, Andrew Harvey

Friday, March 20, 2009

Baby Daddy--The Legacy of the Great Society

In the courtroom:

D.A. to Potential Juror Guy: How do you know the defendant?

P. J. G.: We are somewhat related.

D. A.: How are you somewhat related?

P.J.G.: He’s my sister’s brother.

Government officials, when you make laws and institute programs to help us feckless citizens, perhaps your first imperative should be, Above all, do no harm.

Nah, what’s the pay-off of that?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Mysterious Universe

Someone who is close to me, let’s just call this person Zen, has put in his years at work and gradually spent more and more of his leisure time in his comfy chair. He told me he woke up one morning wondering why he had dreamed about his coworker Jim, who in the dream had come into Zen’s office to ask a question, just an ordinary question about work.

The next morning Zen spotted Jim going into someone else’s office. Jim was wearing a herringbone vest, a garment Zen did not remember seeing except in the dream from the night before. He knew then that Jim was going to come into his office and ask him a question. He knew the question Jim would ask.

And it came to pass. Jim in his herringbone vest entered Zen’s office and asked the mundane question about work that Zen had dreamed of.

Which explained to Zen the problems he had been having occasionally. He would think he had completed a task only to discover it undone. Obviously he had been dreaming as he had done those tasks, which created some confusion in his waking routine.

It is known to the physicists that if we travel at the speed of light, we move into the future. There are some spiritualists who believe our consciousness can leave our body and make trips on its own.

So Zen’s dreams pose for me a couple of questions.

Why, if Zen’s consciousness is capable of leaving his body at night and traveling at the speed of light, doesn’t it seek more exotic locales than his office, where he has gone for the past twenty-five years in order to pay the rent?


Is it this same disinclination to go time traveling that keeps Zen from, just occasionally, taking a vacation, traveling at the speed of the interstate, and seeing something more exotic in this dimension while he is awake?

Friday, February 27, 2009

LBS (Leaky Brain Syndrome) Reversed…I’m telling you because it amuses me.

I have been reading Harriet Doerr’s Stones For Ibarra. It’s the only book I’ve ever finished and actually started reading again immediately, though I am not sure why I am doing so. The chapters, originally short stories in themselves, stop, like life does…open ended, and open to the the connections we cannot grasp. While I’m reading I’m transported to Sara Everton’s Ibarra, among the nopal and the maguey cactus, the stunted trees: the ash, the olive, the pepper, the jacaranda. One reader on Amazon complained 'All the characters in this book are very one dimensional. You "see" what they do and "see" where they live, but you don't get much below their surfaces.' As if you know your own spouse, child, parent, cousin, store clerk. As if you read the name of vegetation you’ve never seen, and know it. Still, I am there in Ibarra, waiting for that exploding moment that leaves me with nothing to cling to, that opens some essential vein in the universe.

Sometimes instead of reading, I watch television with The Boyfriend. Lately I’ve been trapped by David Duchovny’s Californication. In one episode Hank Moody takes his problematic father to the airport. “What’s this?” the father asks. “A tree?” Hank replies (the father is definitely not the only problematic character).

It’s a jacaranda, says one part of my brain. Immediately another part jeers. A jacaranda? Where did that come from? You don’t know what one looks like. You don’t even know how to pronounce it. Jacaranda? Ha!

Later in the program, after the father has died, after Hank has returned home, he asks his estranged partner the same question. “What’s this tree?” he says. The camera zooms into the ferny leaves, the clusters of lilac-colored blooms. It looks like a pine with rhododendron blossoms to us. “It’s a jacaranda,” she says, and reaches out to lightly touch a flower.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Big Box Store Story #1,127

"You look tired," said the customer third deep in the line.

"Me?" said the clerk. "I'm always tired."

"What happened to that guy?" asked the customer.

"What guy?" said the clerk.

"You know," said the customer. She lowered her voice. "Your baby daddy."

"Him," said the clerk, sounding a bit chirpier. "He broke parole. He back for 2 1/2 years."

"2 1/2 years?"

"Yeah," said the clerk, "I don't know what they're going to do about that murder charge."

postcard from a resale shop in Raleigh, North Carolina, found in a book I’ve long not read


This beautiful view is of Kona’s beautiful Hulihee Palace and the Mokauikalla Church.

This the church where I saw the Hawaiian (Soreau (?) parents of bride)—She had on long white lace over taffeta, by the way—typical U.S.—Her very heavy mother in vividly bright acquaish blue, full long dress, fitted at top with big ruffle around low neck & bottom of skirt, wept throughout.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Just a little fun with LBS (Leaky Brain Syndrome)

Which is what the Boyfriend and I call those incidents when other people seem to read my thoughts, even though they don’t know they are reading my thoughts. If I don’t fall off the blogging wagon again, I’m going to be writing more about this because it’s weird and more fun than television.

Eight years ago I received a small beaded coin purse from an old lady. An OLD lady. It’s the sort of thing an old lady or a strange child might enjoy, or a family member might toss in the trash while cleaning house. I admire this coin purse, and every time I use it, I think of the OLD Lady, and the people who might enjoy such a coin purse, and I always think someone else like me might comment on it, because I comment on things that catch my eye, only nobody ever has, and it’s begun to occur to me that they don’t because they think I’m an OLD lady, so the coin purse is just the sort of thing OLD ladies carry around, thus not worth noting.

This past week-end while I was at the hospital and getting weary and lacking a bit of stimulation that wasn’t the stress of just not worrying about my brother-in-law, plus so continuously running the hospital maze of halls I thought my name was Alice, I stood in front of the Cups bar and thought (very strongly)….where are my people? (don’t worry about that question…it’s on the list for later blog vagaries). I will know the next person, or rather the very first person who will have ever commented on my coin bag is a member of my thought commune.

And just as soon as this silent declaration of thoughts ended, the twentish person behind the counter said, “That’s a wonderful coin bag. I love it.”

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Let's All Ride 'Em, Cowboys

My brother-in-law had chest pains on New Year’s Day, but they were nothing a donated nitro capsule couldn’t fix. The earliest appointment available with a heart specialist was the end of February. When the pains returned the first of February, he self-medicated again with someone else’s nitroglycerin. A day later, after he had made plans to drive two hours to the airport and fly home (he lives 600 miles from where he works) to see a specialist there, the pains returned, so he scheduled an earlier flight, worked, drove two hours for more nitroglycerin, drove back to his own trailer, spent the night, went back to work, then drove back to his trailer, so deep in the woods it had no phone service, to lie down and wait it out until his next morning’s flight. He couldn’t wait it out. He had to drive himself the dark miles back into town to the hospital where the intake clerk was gossiping with co-workers. “Darlin’,” he said to get her attention, “I’m having a heart attack.” When she didn’t seem to comprehend this man on his feet, not on a stretcher, needed immediate assistance, he repeated himself, “Darlin’, I’m having a heart attack, so I suggest you get off your ass and get me some help now." Within seconds the area around the front desk was swarming with emergency personal.

In those long anxious minutes we were waiting on the other side of a phone, we had no word from the last call on the road until another sister-in-law arrived at the hospital and asked for him. “He’s the one,” the intake clerk said, her eyes big. Ohmygod, the sister-in-law thought. “No, no,” the clerk said, “he’s alright. He scared me.” And you just scared me, the sister-in-law thought.

He scared us all.

But he’s fine, after a transfer to a larger hospital, after the heart cath and the stint (the intake doctor had to turn away when my brother-in-law said he had taken five nitros and they hadn’t helped—I know she didn’t want him to see her swallowing the incredulous laugh I saw flashing across her face), after the too much blood thinner, after the recovery.

“At least now I know how long I’ll live,” my brother-in-law told my sister. She listened intently, awonder that somewhere in all the jumble of his three-day-heart-attack this significant revelation had arrived. “How long?” she asked.

“Now I know for sure,” he said. “I’ll live until I die.”

So say we all. Let’s do it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This moment

Today began overcast, with a wild wind and a surging rain. Inside, I was tired and sweaty. The wind has passed, bringing spring coolness to the air. The white camellias have burst into bloom.

Still I am inside, throwing out forty years of detritus.

All of it, the wild wind, the rain, the brilliant coolness, the camellias, forty years—illusive and so brief.