Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Tears for the Cottonwoods

English: Narrowleaf cottownwoods (Populus angu...

I have not lived in my neighborhood for all that long—three years. In those three years, every morning that I possibly could I sat outside with my cup of tea in hand and meditated upon the three large cottonwoods that grew in the lot adjacent the back yard. The city owns that lot and for some unknown, unexplained reason they cut down the three majestic cottonwoods today.

The trees had housed two grey owls, who one morning blessed me by flying from deep within the foliage of those trees to land upon the fence and look me in the eye. I found great comfort in the hooting sounds they made in the early hours of the day, and feel a sad, sickening sense in my stomach about where they will go now.

Cities never try to explain to small neighborhoods like mine why they cut down such majestic trees, nor do they leave room for what should have been a funeral. Each of my neighbors could have been marching around the great trees and giving thanks for their beauty; giving thanks for the rustling sounds of leaves that shimmer throughout the day for more than half the year. But cities do not tell you when the branches will be crashing down. They feel that they owe no explanation.

I am so sad to see those trees go. I have loved them with a reverence and in awe. They stilled my heart at dawn, and brought a smile to my lips in the evening. They were the focus of my gaze when I sat quietly bundled in robe and slippers; or in shorts and t-shirt. I knew them through every season and today they came down with their golden autumn leaves still attached.

This is a sad day for this neighborhood and I know that I do not grieve alone, for how could anyone who drank in the wonder of those cottonwoods which arms always stretched up to heaven in prayer, not feel an empty longing for their now stark absence.

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Life Unfolds

After six weeks of unwinding my business and four weeks of packing up used to be my office, I stand upon the precipice of a big “what’s next?”  The packing and the unwind were a good distraction from taking any action.  You see, I don’t really know what I want to do next.  I am someone who has rushed at life for most of my life, so this whole idea of allowing life to unfold and reveal is a bit outside my comfort zone.  In spite of my “seize the day,” or in some cases “strangle the day” attitudes, life is unfolding, coming to me, and illuminating a path toward Chapter 3.

I stood at the kitchen window this morning, cradling my cup of hot tea in cold, grateful hands.  Thick frost coated the lawn and a group of children bundled up like little Michelin men trudged to the bus stop, accompanied by parents and dogs.  I never tire of this morning parade of vibrancy and promise.  I headed upstairs to my “office” and realized that life has settled down enough for me to do what I love best in the mornings:  read and write.  Not exactly your “extreme sports,” but exciting nonetheless.

A day ago I committed to participate in NaNoWriMo–something I learned about from one of the blogs that I read.  NaNoWriMo happens every November for 30 days.  It stands for National Novel Writing Month.  It’s a challenge whose rule are to simply write 50,000 words in the month of December.  The prize is that you finish that task.  It’s big and it’s bold and I am excited to participate.  I will post some excerpts on my blog as I go along. The goal is to learn more about being a person, more about being a writer and more about just how much you can do if you push yourself.  Right up the alley of an individual who does not do well with ambiguity.  This writing challenge unfolded and presented itself at a time when I was thinking I wanted/needed the magic of a deadline.  If you want to learn more, you can visit http://nanowrimo.org

If you read my blog, I hope you will cheer me on to finish.  It means risking writing bad stuff, because 1,600 plus words a day is daunting, but I want to be in it for the long haul and I appreciate the support.

Posted in Comedy, Tragedy and What the F...?

Ode To A Desk

Opened notebook, pen, books and glasses
The massive roll-top was a beast of a desk. Purchased his first year in practice, it represented what he was becoming: a teacher, a doctor, a man with vision and a heart full of idealism. It had stood out at The Antique Guild, the place where a generation of us longed for things worn and aged from a different time, history and story that could be traced in the grain of old oak and an imagining of where it had come from.

When the top was rolled up, twelve small drawers outlined the top of the desk, dropping down into other small compartments and shelving, but leaving a large surface for writing, for books, for charts and manuals that became part of his life. File drawers were stuffed with notes and articles about nutrition and biochemistry. The whole thing was chaotic and scattered, but he knew where everything was and I knew better than to ever touch anything or try to move things around. In the evening he rolled down the top and covered the whole mess as if tucking in a child for sleep. And on the workday mornings, he opened and awakened it, shuffled the papers and articles, sat with his patients, one elbow resting upon a surface that bore witness to his work and its unfolding.

It came to life before anyone had a personal computer that required space for a tower or a printer or a screen; before desks would contain those carefully placed holes for cords and phone lines. All of that came later, as the desk grew impractical for keeping up with a technology that had no respect or reverence for it’s fine lines or history. Still, the desk moved with us from office to office, the largest piece of furniture in his room,  the marking and symbol of a man who created life on his terms in his unique way, without worry or concern for pleasing those around him, but instead exercised a fidelity to raw authenticity. Like the desk, larger than anything in the room, my husband, the “him” of this ode is in many ways larger than life when it comes to how he did his 37-year career.

Somewhere in August we made the decision that it was time to move on to the next chapter of our lives. Consulting work came easily to him. He had become the grey beard in the room who had something to teach those youngsters about bio-chemically based nutrition. Life now offered work from an office at home that has a different desk, one built for computer screens and printers. The tailored attire of his career would bend to a pair of sweat pants and a soft, cotton t-shirt.  Here came the gentle ending to a long story, a good story. . .and the ending to the good desk, a glorious beast of a desk that dominated his office for 37 years.  As the new chapter began to reveal itself,  the desk was let go.

I sat in the hallway of what was once our office building when they came to get it. We had tried to sell it, only to realize that the young people in this brave new world needed and wanted the strategically placed holes for cords; the place for screens and printers; a surface that was sleek and modern. They craved Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn not the story or history as told in old oak grains in what was becoming an antique and a relic of a dated past.  Significance changes with each generation, and the desk had served its purpose well.  We donated it to the Hospice Thrift Store.

Two men came in on a Wednesday morning and unscrewed the top and the sides and wheeled it past me in three different pieces to what I hoped would be a new and fitting home. I wished that it would wind up with someone who would appreciate it and who would run their hands across the grain and wonder what stories the massive beast held in its still beating heart.

We grow old. Our precious things lose meaning but our purpose remains: a place to study, a place to write or to read, some corner we create to carry out these small actions of our life that grow us and hold the potential to become big when talents are shared. The old desk went down the elevator and into the truck in three pieces and I could not hold back the tenderness of a few tears for what is the closing of the curtain on a chapter well lived for both the glorious beast of a desk and a man who continues to courageously do life on his own unique terms.