Thursday, March 25, 2010

Some Meandering thoughts

I can handle the big stuff...strokes, heart surgery, tough clients, ice storms, and skunks that fight under our porch and then spray the basement. Handled, all with aplomb. It seems to be the little things that throw me under the bus. Not only are they little, but they are first world problems. My friend Mea uses this term to help Americans differentiate between a third world potable water, no access to medical care, etc and the first world problems we can get mired down in. I had dinner with a friend last week-end who has spent quite a bit of time in Haiti during the last months. Her perspective has been broadened.

I need to travel out of my small New England town and see how the rest of the world is getting on. I need some perspective broadening. I have the right to worry that the 4 star restaurant I just had dinner at was too small for intimate conversation or that our medical reimbursement fund is not calibrated correctly but I need to balance those worries with what is happening in the rest of the world. I have become too comfortable with my comfort.

I have learned the most in my life when I have become uncomfortable. I left Texas when I was 22 and did not know a soul in this part of the world. I have spent some time wondering what pulled me so far away from home but I learned to trust that unconscious desire to leap. Letting go of the trapeze before you catch the next one is a time of disequilibrium and discomfort. What a glorious space.

So, I'm settled, healthy and comfortable at this moment and I'm enjoying that, too. Still, when I start worrying too much about my first world problems, I know it is time for the next leap.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Knitted Vest

My grandmother taught me to knit when I was 5. For the next 35 years, I consulted with her on every knitting project I undertook. I miss her voice and her advice every day. My mom mailed me a box filled with her old knitting needles not too long ago and I use them with anyone who wishes to learn. We get the privilege of honoring the people who came before by passing on their wisdom.
My grandmother had the habit of grabbing what I was working on and finishing up the tricky bits. Consequently, these are the first armholes I have completed on my own. That is why I asked my son to take an armhole shot.
This vest took about 3 months to knit on size 17 needles. You can find the pattern on the Lion Brand website.
Just one last word to my grandmother: I know you see the glaring mistake right smack dab in the middle of the back. I know you want me to find a way to make it right but that was one of the things you used to do for me.....find a way to go back into the piece and fix what was wrong. I'm going to leave it in, just like the Navajo do with their blankets...weave in a mistake because only the gods and grandmothers should achieve perfection. I'm happily not even close but I promise you I will keep on working on it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hanging with my Gnomies

Spring is here in New England and the first day to climb, and then summit 50 degrees earns bragging rights. Notice the bare trees, the fleece clad hikers and the pale visages. We emerge, mole-like from layers of clothing and squint at the sun. Each family has it's rituals and ours is to head over to a local hiking spot and.......make gnome houses. The thing about spring in New England is that it looks a lot like winter in the rest of the country. The gnomes are just as eager as we are to emerge from the darkness and embrace new growth but it is worrisome. Have they emerged too soon?

My children are self-proclaimed gnome protectors. They worked hard at the end of our hike to insure that when the snow returns...and it will......our woodland friends will have transitional housing until the spring truly arrives. Luke found some soggy moss for a comfortable bed and Emma rounded up some acorns for bowls. They even called in an expert for structural advice: he took his job very seriously, as he is wont to do.
I have faith that spring is coming and even greater faith that the gnomes will be OK until it gets here.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Heart Matters

My neurologist was taken aback to learn of my climbing, skiing, etc and was quite clear that I should be doing none of those things. As I have slowed down, so has my heart rate. On a positive note, I think I am going to facilitate a group for folks who are recovering from PFO closures...I would like to call the group "heart matters." How do you support one another during recovery? What would the focus of the group be?

The thing is, when you hit the wall, whatever the wall might be, you need to talk to each other. For one thing, your friends, relatives, and blog readers get narrative fatigued. Don't get me wrong, you guys are hiding it well and have been nothing but supportive but there comes a time when you want to give your friends a break and talk to other people who have gone through voice some of the fears and frustrations that come with being a heart patient and with having to use common sense and moderation and all those things that you thought were waiting for you when you were 70, not 46.

We get to become who we are going to become now and we get to mourn the loss of invincibility now. There is a psychological shift that occurs that is profound....sometimes profoundly scary, sometimes profoundly hopeful. Today, with all the tests results showing no problems, I'm feeling profoundly grateful, yet again. It is hard to land on just feeling normal but I yearn for it. Those shifts are always worth talking about, if we can just carve out the time and the space to do it.

So, I hope the group pans neurologist seems excited at the idea of it and has asked me if I would be interested in facilitating honor to be asked, really. Time to give you guys a break from all the heart rate worries:)

Monday, March 1, 2010


I will leave it to my astute readers to analyze why this poem makes the cut today:)


Your unhappy and silly youth.
Your arrival from the provinces in the city.
Misted-over windowpanes of streetcars,
Restless misery of the crowd.
Your dread when you entered a place too expensive.
But everything was too expensive. Too high.
Those people must have noticed your crude manners,
Your outmoded clothes, and your awkwardness.

There were none who would stand by you and say,

You are a handsome boy,
You are strong and healthy,
Your misfortunes are imaginary.

You would not have envied a tenor in an overcoat of camel hair
Had you guessed his fear and known how he would die.

She, the red-haired, because of whom you suffer tortures,
So beautiful she seems to you, is a doll in fire.
You don't understand what she screams with her lips of a clown.

The shapes of hats, the cut of robes, faces in the mirrors,
You will remember all that unclearly, as something from long ago,
Or as what remains from a dream.

The house you approach trembling,
The apartment that dazzles you-
Look, on this spot the cranes clear the rubble.

In your turn you will have, possess, secure,
Able to be proud at last, when there is no reason.

Your wishes will be fulfilled, you will gape then
At the essence of time, woven of smoke and mist,

An iridescent fabric of lives that last one day,
Which rises and falls like an unchanging sea.

Books you have read will be of use no more.
You searched for an answer but lived without answer.

You will walk in the streets of southern cities,
Restored to your beginnings, seeing again in rapture
The whiteness of a garden after the first night of snow.
--Czeslaw Milosz