Busy Times for Farmers and Grandkids!

Dust is flying in the fields as farmers here hurry to get seed in the ground. They often have to be on the roads as they go from field to field or farm to farm. Although I usually cut through the country, the other day coming home from Katherine's after I had filled my gas tank, I took the highway. There I slowly drove a long way behind a tractor. I reminded myself, “If you like to eat, be grateful for farmers.”

Mary Ellen and Brian are not only super busy in the field and with their kitchen redoing, but they somehow managed over last weekend to move two kids out of their apartments as their school year ended.

I was only away from home last Saturday morning less than an hour running in to do an errand at Katherine's house. Yet I missed all the excitement here. Gerald was down at the end of the lake mowing the bank there when he realized his tractor was on fire!

He had to jump off and hurry up our long lane to get to his shop for a bucket. Riding his utility vehicle back down, he was able to dip lake water and put out the fire. Scott Cully, our good next door neighbor, came and helped when he realized what was going on. Brandon White was going by a little later and saw something amiss from the road and ran up fearful for Gerald. By then Gerald had things under control, but Brandon stayed until he was sure all was well.

A bird had built a nest inside the tractor and caused the fire with considerable damage to wiring. Scott and Sonja were here again that afternoon helping, and the repair folks brought down a replacement tractor this week when they took ours to be repaired. Gerald was amazed as he had never had such an occurrence before, but he has since learned that this happens more than we were aware. I used to have to lay down on the garage floor and coax out kittens from the inside of the car engine before I drove the car, but I did not know you need to check tractors for birds' nests.

Grandkids' summer plans no longer allow coming to the farm first to attend Vacation Bible School when they were very young and then in later years to help out with VBS in our village. This summer their plans are diverse and exciting. Trent was the first to begin work. Brianna and Mary Ellen drove with him to Kansas City to get him settled in a sweet little loft apartment in someone's home, and yesterday Trent began an internship at the AMC Theater Support Center, as their new headquarters building is called.

Brianna has a few days yet to get packed and ready for a hot summer in Grenada, Spain, where she will be immersed in Spanish at classes at the university there. (This trip is to fulfill a requirement for TESOL students at Murray.)

Sam is temporarily here from Waco and was able to with his mother on Mother's Day. He will be interning this summer teaching motivated kids from the inner city at a program in Austin. His group will be meeting at the University of Texas, so he is pleased about that.

Elijah is finishing his first year of teaching, and he will be supervising the Illinois Normal interns just as he did last summer. This is the program he participated in two summers ago which led him to teaching in Chicago.

Cecelie, his younger sister and our youngest granddaughter, will be graduating from high school in a few days and will be going the furthest this summer. She felt called to go on a mission trip to help in an orphanage in Kolkota, India. (I did not even know Calcutta was now called Kolkota.)

Her older sister Leslie is busy developing her new dual business—going rogue, Leslie calls it. http://leslieeilerthompson.com/marketinghome/ She free lances in both marketing and music work. One most recent client is her dad, for whom she created a website to promote “Mr. E's Bees.” She continues to perform as she has all her life (even as a a toddler when her mother said she always acted everything out instead of talking) and now she uses her university training to work as a music copyist.

Because the University of Oregon is on a term system rather than semesters, Geri Ann does not graduate until June 18 on Father's Day. She made the decision not to play pro ball again this summer, and I am hoping she gets a little time to rest up before she joins the work force. I know she is coming this way to be in a friend's wedding, and I am excited about that.

Tara, our oldest granddaughter, will continue what she does all the time—getting three boys to their ball games and cheering them on while also working full time at the new sports field house she has been involved in for the two years it was built. Fortunately, she has lots of help from her husband and also her mother, who lives near by.

However, Vickie may be busy elsewhere this summer although I an sure she will attend plenty of boys' games. I am saving the best for the last! Granddaughter Erin will be having her baby girl very shortly now, and I am hoping she will have a wonderfully busy and happy summer ahead of her bonding with Caroline Marie Simons before she has to adjust to going back to her teaching job.

Oh, I forgot to include Sam's girl friend Anna, who is planning a trip to see a friend in Germany, after a summer of employment caring for six children during the day. As I have anticipated the grandkids' summers, I have had to study up on my geography and look at maps to see where they are all going to be. I look forward to hearing their reports to enliven my quiet elderly stay-at-home life style. And I look forward to holding that first great granddaughter!

188 Hits
3 Comments

Stephen’s Way: An American Reads Proust

I like to read and I’m not put usually off by difficult books. I have read War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov, much of Faulkner, most of Joyce. But there are a few books that I have never been able to finish, and so far as I can tell they have nothing in common.

The first is Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstader. It came out a few years after I graduated and was a combination of two things that for me (and possibly only for me) are inseparably linked: philosophy and comedy. I have never been able to read the entire book, mostly because at least once each page I have to stop and think, and once my brain is so activated it seldom circles back to the beginning point. I was lucky if I remembered to mark my place.

The second book is The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. I started this one based on the recommendation of Joseph Campbell, who ranked Mann with James Joyce as the great mytho-centric writers of the Twentieth century. With Mann, you have some choices. I picked The Magic Mountain because Death in Venice was too short, Buddenbrooks (reputedly his masterpiece) too long, so The Magic Mountain seemed just right. Plus it had magic in the title, though as I discovered there were no elves or wizards, at least not as far as I got. I was enjoying The Magic Mountain despite its fantasy-barren nature, but life intervened, the book was packed away, and to date it has not been found. Though I did get one nice poem out it. Still I hope to find my copy one day and begin again.

The third book is  Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way, the initial volume in Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, which is sometimes poetically translated as Remembrance of Things Past and oddly translated as In Search of Lost Time, which sounds like a story about someone who couldn't find their watch. Proust was a contemporary of both Joyce and Mann. Proust and Joyce met once in a famous encounter where each complained about his health and excused himself (true writerish behavior).

I had a copy of Remembrance of Things Past that somehow resurfaced, which I took as a sign that I should try again. Previously I had made it to the scene with the tea and madeleine, and then gave up, possibly because it made me hungry, though more likely because I felt I had done my duty. The translation I had was the original English translation by C. K. Scott Moncrief, which was regarded as the standard. But after a few pages of this, I decided to switch to a later translation by Lydia Davis. I don’t know which is more Proustean, but Ms. Davis work was slightly livelier and I stuck with it.

In theory I could read it in French. I took eight years of French and can speak but not really pronounce several words at least. I suspect the book is better in the original, and I have the same suspicion about Mann in German and Dante in Italian and Homer in Greek. But for now, and likely forever, I will have to rely on the wonderful work of translators, who so remarkably devote years of their lives to other people’s words.

At this reporting, I am 150 pages into Swann’s Way and I am pretty sure that other than tea and madeleines nothing has happened. But I must say it is not happening marvelously and I can’t wait to see what doesn’t happen next.

248 Hits
2 Comments

Unusual Parallelism

My sister and l live in opposite sides of the world.

Despite distance the frequency of our radars have managed to stay clear.

We have an unusual connection thru parallel journeys and mental telepathy.

Months go by without communication yet when distress calls our signals automatically connect.

 

Just the other day while walking at the mall I missed a step and fell to the ground.

I twisted my ankle badly and it took me a while to get back to my senses.

Moments later I receive a message from my sister saying that she had fallen too.

She had just arrived at the emergency room while I had just gotten home.

 

How odd?! I thought to myself.

After a few exchanges I realized that we both fell at the exact same time!

I am in awe at the synchronicity and parallelism of it all.

I am sure that like myself she began to contemplate on the deeper meaning.

 

A fall of sorts somehow always jolts me back to my senses.

It’s like the Universe telling me, “get back to your center.”

“Slow down, pause.”

If truth be told, I have been going through a lot of transitions lately.

 

My mind has been overthinking and at times I’d be running on adrenalin.

That sudden fall broke the cycle of over extending myself.

I believe the same for my sister as well.

She and I have been going through major changes in our journeys.

 

I am home alone for the next 3 days with my foot elevated.

I admit that it’s hard to stay put physically and mentally.

However, I have to believe that it is necessary therefore, trust is the process.

Just as anyone would take caution before taking a big turn while driving.

 

I am once again humbled and reminded to take a few steps back and reflect.

For I know that something big is about to unravel as I take that turn.

I see the light from a distance and maybe I am cautioned not to rush.

Rather, to pace myself and walk mindfully as I continue to mend my way back.

182 Hits
1 Comment

Everyday Superheroes

Huge eyes bulge from their sockets in full Cocker Spaniel spiel, more cute than ugly and loaded in a love that oozes past the film of mucus that has turned those eyes from brown to grey, probably because of the recent marathon surgery and sedation. Little moans come in spasms of mooing coos. This poor girl has been through the trauma of her life, having two vets slice the length of her underside to remove a mammary gland chain. Cancer, whether in pets or humans, is a shit of a thing. Her surgery came at the pinnacle of a most gruelling week.

I sit here now from the summit, listening to my poor little girl’s moans. My son, who had the responsibility of bringing her home from the vet after her surgery, told me not to look at her wound as it would be too upsetting. He knows me well. Her cancer is terminal and although I can say it easily enough, I can't think about it. Not when I see Schnooze splayed to her side, her nose snuggled into her sister. Teddi has moped about these past days, lost without Schnooze. The two have been inseparable for the past eight years, until this point.

I think of her as my little hero for what she’s endured. But that’s not quite the right word. In fact, I don’t like the word hero for it means a person who has performed some courageous act or is of a 'noble character'. Yet everyone performs courageous acts all the time, acts that influence and affect others and contribute to this world. And mostly, quietly and unassumingly, without any fanfare and any need for recognition.

The dictionary also states that a hero is ‘a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal.’ This makes me gag! Special achievements. Really? It sounds more like an adoration developed in response to this modern world’s insatiable appetite for the need to be special and recognised, of people to be revered for being exceptional for any celebrity or voyeuristic reason.

Maybe that’s part of the problem with humanity right now, this need to be special when in fact, everyone has their own special abilities and qualities, their own level of achievement and success, however different it is from one person to the other. Maybe that’s why there is so much judgement in the world and so little acceptance and appreciation.

Those that read my words have heard me talk of my brother. While he’s unable to function in the way that mainstream life allows, he does function, and extremely well. His paranoia that can’t be ‘cured’ means he can’t enter a supermarket or walk in his own backyard for fear of people spying on him and his mind is in constant battle with demons that interweave with his schizophrenia. People that don’t him would judge him as the weird guy down the road, the crazy man. Yet he is one of those quiet, gentle giants with an eye to paint and draw that is extraordinary. His oils and charcoals grace the walls of so many and his patience to capture that tender essence of people in his paintings is little understood. Where’s his accolade for his accomplishments, his superb achievements relative to his measure of who he is?

No, the word hero isn’t right. People accomplish everywhere. For Schnooze to endure the surgery and now recovery, however cute she is when she crashes her Elizabethan collar into walls and is unable to reach that urging scratch behind her ear, and the gratitude when you can reach that scratch for her, she’s my little superwoman. And Ms R that I lunched with recently, her patience and determination in sourcing funds for scholarships for young people in disadvantaged areas so they can have a chance to an education and to pursue their dreams, is admirable. Without her and the organisation she works for, these young people would miss their opportunity to contribute to the world in the way they aspire to. Another superwoman, quiet and unassuming, yet so full of the will to give.

It’s times like this past week that I get to sit on the summit after the gruelling climb of the past seven days, to observe and reflect ... on the 70-year-old woman who confessed to being molested by a boy when she was young, in the pool she adored swimming in, which she never returned to again. The remorse in the eyes of her sister at hearing that confession as she never knew of her torment. She's the one to be revered for her exceptional strength for what she's endured for so long. One could say, she should have spoken up. But we all have our limitations and they all differ. No judgement is required on that, or on the woman who barraged abuse at my son, H, simply for being a by-stander in an act of rage on the road. I’m sure she accomplishes in her own world. And one day, ‘bogan’ H, in long hair pulled back to conduct chemistry experiments, will have developed the next drug to cure her ailment in old age. A superman, even with only the aspiration to find the next drug.

We all succeed and triumph relative to our own lives. Take the depth of love that’s hidden from the world because of society’s taboo in loving two people, and the strength of those people to carry that love into their eighties. The giving spirit of the mentor to constantly push the student, to question and dig for answers, even when the question has never been asked before and is so abstract that understanding it seems impossible, let alone answering it.

Look into the eyes of one so young when tragedy strikes and the empathy that bleeds in all shades of the rainbow, or of people young and old who risk their lives to rescue others … they’re everywhere.

Try to understand the strength of the paramedic who becomes de-sensitised to so much yet can still flash a smile of warmth and share a few words of care that can soothe any ache of heart, or the tears that build in the young man with responsibility to collect his very frail dog from the vet … they’ve all accomplished, all have pushed themselves or been pushed to limits that have often been untested.

To be surrounded by people who accomplish so much, without the public and materialistic adoration that goes with the heroism of today’s material world, is a true privilege. The quiet heroes of this world are everywhere. They’re the true superheroes.

***

An unexpected call from the vet last night has revealed that they managed to capture all of Schnooze's cancer, and just in time. Now that's a trio of superwomen I wouldn't want to mess with!

451 Hits
6 Comments

Latest Comments

Ken Hartke In Praise of Old Hotels – Taos and Leadville
21 July 2017
The road is always calling... I'm debating with myself about driving up into Wyoming for the solar e...
Stephen Evans In Praise of Old Hotels – Taos and Leadville
20 July 2017
I so enjoy these - they make me want to hit the road!
Ken Hartke In Praise of Old Hotels – Taos and Leadville
20 July 2017
I'm glad you liked it. I enjoy visiting these authentic old places and appreciate the effort to kee...
Katherine Gregor In Praise of Old Hotels – Taos and Leadville
20 July 2017
I so enjoy your descriptions of various hotels! Each has its distinctive personality. I have fond m...
Stephen Evans The Poem I would have Writ
14 July 2017
Maybe it is an excuse though I tend to read is more as frustration with the choice between being in...

Latest Blogs

I am about sixteen.  I wake up in the middle of night.  The sound of distant crunching, faint music and the light spilling into the corridor lure me l...
It has been a while since I shared an old hotel dispatch from the road.   Here in the high desert of New Mexico, June is our hottest month and the onl...
"What is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer. Certainly there be, that delight in giddiness, and count it a bondage to fix a ...
"My life has been the poem I would have writ,  But I could not both live and utter it." Henry David Thoreau Born July 12, 1817 ...
I am priveleged to occasionally witness these little domestic dramas as they play out in my backyard. This is my local Scaled Quail family.  Body lang...