Archives for category: Memories

EstherandElizabeth, 6 years old birthdayliz near end 1
Full of Days

I am old and full of days, and I know this because I get gift certificates in the mail, small bordered, blue; staccato messages to me approaching a distinctly marked age, as not like my twin’s age of 68 when her soul pierced the body’s shell and flew onward and upward, and when I had a feeling or wrote something like, “We will see each other once again -against the dark space and within the illumined lands of God, and we will remember our days as three year olds, sitting on tricycles of resplendent fire engine red and sturdy wheels, not yet aware of the rivets and tunnels we would face in our growth as twins and as souls, an intertwining of hate and love.

Fraternal twins. She from my father’s stock, the ones that produced fine men and maybe a sister or two who vaulted into business, and he, our father who was very much on earth, despaired at his life, the alcoholic wife, the kids like cartoon blocked figures with hair all over them, reminiscent of cave days, as witnessed by their teenage grunts from, “Where are you going?” and their toned and chanted response, emitting from their closed lips, “Out.” And indeed they went out.

The older girl, older in months; neighbors say they are all Irish twins, born within so many months of the other, tskk, tskkk. The older sister, yeah, you know the one who won the Margaret O’Brien Look Alike contest in Boston? Oh yeah her, she went out, out indeed.

She conceived a child as she melted into the arms of her teenage lover, the one who laughed and came from a poverty so cruel, and she was sent away to a home for pregnant girls, and all I can say is, “Thank God, she didn’t live in Ireland,” the Ireland of the Magdalene Sisters, in whose convent, young girls of impure type were housed in terror. For it was a time of sheer cement walls and slaves blending in, Irish girl slaves, those who might have had an impure thought or wrested themselves away from a pushy boy, or better yet, did the dirty deed and used the portion of her body referred to as “down there.”

Out also went the twins who by this time had finished throwing pitchforks and ice choppers at one another, but who had graduated to nasty, slime-ridden comments, of “I’m not sitting in the car, next to Esther,” or she, of the famous Hebrew Queen’s name, ran away from the Randall G. Morris Elementary black tarred school yard before Liz could cream her, she ran blocks and darted through the back door of the twelve- room house on Fernwood Road, in West Roxbury, and double locked the old brass locks against an avenging twin.

Not quite like the caves and battles of Beowulf and Grendel, but darn, didn’t Liz thrust her fist through a small paned window and reach down and unlock both locks and burst in and pin the curled up Esther into the coat rack of old winter coats and jackets?

And then that twin and her queen-named counterpart would, miraculously at twenty-one, be kind to one another. The catalyst for such kindness was a brain stem injury on behalf of our sports figure, Liz, of the mighty fist, which rendered her, well let’s just say, “Rendered her.” From those days of miraculous recovery, a mother had died, the father remarried, the sister gone and married; the brother disappearing and last heard was a used car salesman. We proceeded to fill the pages of our lives and we would always help each other out in a crisis. One day of cumulus clouds in Caldwell, Idaho, she passed on, at age 68 of cancer. The first bracket of the hyphenated, “tell-the-twins,” passed, piercing the body’s shell, her soul going on, leaving husks of giant blades of a sad, sad life, but at peace and loving her boys, one who would marry a pure soul and produce golden children, but that is another story.

The story is now 7-8 years later, I, Esther, who was born twelve minutes later, am approaching that demarcation known as “Full of pages of life,” of skin like parchment paper, but also of still ever sturdy hips.

And so this has turned out to be a prose poem, for what does the poet do? They pierce the state of the mundane and rise to astonishment as words from an unseen ocean spill and spill out onto the earth of one’s mind.

imagesCA9U2AM5Dancing the Tunes

I am a woman of rich inner means, of hips which widen, and of feet which grow clumpier as the years go by.  The word “dance” does not call to me as it did in my younger years.

At twelve, my twin Liz climbed out of a tree, swung into the back door of our twelve- room house, and ran up stairs to our bedroom.  We shared.  She drew a line down the middle of the room.  No crossing.  Twins are like that.  But on Friday nights at 7.30, all the twelve year olds in our town dressed in either suits for the boys or dresses, stockings and shiny patent leather shoes for the girls.

Harry Raymond’s Dancing School, Friday night sessions ,were held weekly in a sagging huge yellow house with white trim on Centre Street in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, near the Shawmut Bank.  My father or mother drove us, and we sat in the back seat feeling like victims in a Black Mariah, wheels silently thwopping towards Harry’s.

Dressing for Harry’s was weekly penance.  Red silky type dresses; made by my mother, with tiny cloth buttons and Peter Pan Collars.  Under the dresses, the dreaded undershirt, and down further the garter belts which were like magnets to the seamed beige stockings we reluctantly hauled over our young girl thighs.

This was a mournful time for us; a time we didn’t fight, too locked into the mutual tragedy of garter belts – long floppy rubberized stretchy thin bands with hooks on the end.  The clips at the end were like a snake’s mouth – open, slide over nylon stocking, close, and clip, a metal slider of small proportions would pull the length of the strips tight.  Ugh.  A beginning rite of passage where I would learn women’s looks are for pleasing, pleasing men.  Am I okay?  All right, as in are my seams straight?  Liz and I were poised on the edge of some type of womanhood, reluctantly brought into the fold of How Do I Look, Does This Please?  Will He Like Me?

Once left off on the curb, we clumped up beat up wide stairs next to a rickety white banister and head towards the powder room.  Jannie Cleary with her curly red hair seemed unfazed.  I wondered if she wore a bra, maybe that’s why she seemed to carry an aura of confidence. “She likes boys,” Liz whispered to me with a downward twist of her mouth.

We filed out and sat on chairs in a huge circle around the edges of the ballroom.  We sat like cows watching Harry Raymond, a thin double for Liberace, glide across the floor, moving by each young girl saying, “Girls’ legs are meant to be closed.”  Then, each week he’d tap Liz’s ankles with his slim black and gold cane, and say, “Ladies do not sit with their legs apart,” because Liz always sat as if ready to spring upon a horse and ride off into some elusive West.

First we learned the Fox Trot, l clump, 2 clump, 3 clump, sway together 4.  During the week at Ruthie Anderson’s house, we danced the fox trot with each other.  Ruthie was Protestant, and we were Roman Catholic.  Our mothers were best friends – daring in a world of people who kept to their own.

Then we learned the waltz – l, 2, 3 – l, 2, 3, feet stomped instead of slid  on the old wooden floor as we stood like fledgling dancers auditioning for a musical.  Eventually we sweated through the waltz.

imagesCAXX4KJA

 

 

 

 

 

Girls had to sit and wait to be asked to dance. The boys liked Liz; she was cute and sporty.  I sat there like a female Prince Valiant, a large red square of silk, my hair a dark clump of blunt and my bangs sort of straight, but not really.  My throat filled with doubt, as one by one, the seats around me emptied.  Finally after thinking I’ll just put my throat on a hook, tall, small-headed, round-chinned Holland Morgan stood silently before me.  His brown eyes questioned me, and his right eyebrow went up as in a “why not,” and we wordlessly cobbled our dancing feet together..  A fox trot.  Step, Step, Step and Step; learning to hoof in a measured square to a musical beat.

Then, as if Zeus threw a thunderbolt into my mouth, I heard myself motor mouthing about dogs, our once poodle who died.  Holland knew of this sad event.  I spoke droolingly of our beige non-altruistic pug and our copper-toned farting boxer.  Words poured out of my mouth like an overfill of chicklets spilling out..  I don’t remember his response.

Years later, when I was twenty, I met Holland again.  He was a friend of my step-brother.  I fell in love with him because of his writing.  He called me Cynthia one winter night as we walked over to Howard Johnson’s for coffee in Kenmore Square, and I was shattered.  He was at Dartmouth, and I worked down on State Street for attorneys.  I lived with roommates near the back of Fenway Park, near Kenmore Square.

I still dream of Kenmore Square because my mother died one icy day in our apartment on Bay State Road. Old issues maybe, or deep wounds, not all caught up by the therapist’s dustbuster.   Liz and I were seventeen.  We had a pug and a boxer, and Liz and I would walk them across Storrow Drive, and walk by the river, the wind whipping through us in the winter.  It was a good day when I realized, after Holland, after Bob, after blah, blah, I wanted what they had:  words, empowerment, not to be lost.  I was a dance in progress, and it’s taken a long time to become myself.  I no longer wear stockings with seams, although they are coming back, and I’m glad that time period is over.  Some people want to go back when times were good.  Good for whom, I might ask.  Then I think it’s all some sort of a dance – this life – a dance indeed.

imagesCA2GPRGH

I sit here on the anniversary of my marriage to my husband who is now 78, and I say to my 74-year-old self, “Self, did you think 27 years ago you’d be sitting here contemplating verbs and old age and giving out sage advice, sage being not only a spice?

I vividly remember our wedding, my dusty pink Laise Adser dress with pastel green nubby cloak with hood, like Meryl Streep wore in the French Lieutenant’s Woman. Bill and I fit like Bogie & Bacall, like bookends of similar but different backgrounds. We remember radio. We were Catholic. We were from the right-hand side of the United States, and we both love pug dogs. Is this the basis of a spiritual relationship? It is.

There’s more this story – how I met him after he had been a Baha’i for two weeks; how I had to go back to being a legal secretary, having left my cubicle four years earlier to return to college; how we had income which was good in the beginning, and how I just before I met him I made the insane decision to buy a radio for my car. We met, we laughed, we matched, and in a dream one night our DNA code swirled around us in figure 8’s. That’s what I call, “It’s a sign.” Yeah, we did a lot of that too.
I made a list of qualities wanted in my unseen mate, and this list fell out of a book a year after we were married. Everything on this long narrow list, “Sensitive, spiritual, humor,” was there – I turned to him waiving the list of scribbled hopes, and said, “I forgot to put tall,” but if so, I wouldn’t have married my husband who is about an inch shorter than I.
It’s been an action packed life. We moved seventeen different times. I had health issues which I’ll speak of at 80 or so. We traveled across Russia, visited Siberia, and lived in Ukraine and Belarus, before, during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. We also lived with my second mother-in-law who told me one day, “You carry the heavy stuff for him,” and now it is the day of our 27th anniversary.

I sit here with a hiatal hernia, and a suspiciously ingrown toe. I am in my red and black PJs – contemplating words used for aging. Baby Boomers take note. “Use strong verbs – might I suggest “lurch” and “cope.”

My marriage, and a plethora of other happenings, healed me, and now we both face the final frontier. I finally have self-acceptance and self-appreciation, except for an occasional Thursday of black condemning thoughts. It is a time of great inner wisdom and also a time when my body becomes like an old truck spending more time in repair. An ashtray falls out, gets fixed and doors fall off. The unknown is with us every night when our sliding door shuts. Allergies descend upon my husband at every weather change, and it feels like the English Channel roars through my ears, until I turn and rub his back to his snuff, snuff, cough, cough away. I am like someone spraying the end of the contents of the Raid Can.

Again it is also surviving a twin’s passing first if you want to know, and it’s being grateful for skin that looks young thanks to a friend’s gift of Clarins. It’s having a pool house with very low rent and landlord kindness. It was having heart and gall bladder surgery within days of each other and surgeons writing off their fees, but not telling me. It’s standing up to my last breath for the oneness of humankind, and always helping someone every day. It’s living beyond the fringe and not having 401K’s and not giving a rat’s ass, but rather living in a quirky world where status is a blind removed from my mind knowing wealth follows poverty and poverty follows wealth , and I think of the quote, “ O Children of Dust – Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor …” and even when my cash flow is minimal, I listen.

It’s having lingering fears in a dark hour at night, when I get up to pee and hope when I am very old, I will not be a burden, and I don’t want my family to take care of me, because I’ve lived with two mother-in-laws. It doesn’t work very well.

It’s every day having something slow me down, feeling crappola, but then again getting up, like a Russian Matroishka doll who bops up repeatedly after falling, and like a Russian Woman who is strong, and other women also, it’s seeing the beauty in so many faces, and loving the nobility among the anonymous. It’s having two themes fascinate me – man’s humanity to man and man’s inhumanity to man. I don’t mind dying, it’s the getting there, and I want to have integrity and nobility. So far I’ve managed to have dignity in the extreme times of my life, but one never knows his or her ending. It’s also having great kids, family, grandchildren and friends.

It’s living with more soul than body, and not ganging up on myself for having a peanut butter sandwich every morning for breakfast, and drinking lemonade, a good kidney stone prevention. It’s always turned towards something greater, a Divine Presence, and yet being willing to throw my whole being over a cliff for the wellbeing of the world.. It’s always learning, always seeing the wisdom in all things, no longer have shoulders tense up about every issue on earth.

Moderation to some degree has come to me. Trust, like surfing the opaque waves, is there also, but I have to guard this feeling until my last breath, and maybe one silent no breath. It is a life of purpose and humility with a whispered hope that I’ve left the world a little brighter.

Reader:  Janine, a wonderful member of our verbally weird and adventurous, skilled, blabby CHPercolatorCoffeehouseforWriters – suggested a prompt overusing adjectives.  Here’s my take:

Muffy Kincaid, that lustrous blonde with just a wee bald spot on the top of her head, revealing a dot, a splot, a mere quiver of pink flesh, under which spot, a brain whirred, as if agile and liquid,

and our Muffy conjured up ways to attract Alfred to her yoga class, in which she would point her long, long, long, long, limber, limber, limber legs and elegantly formed, mushroom like in its splendor big toe to the dappled white ceiling which was in tiles if you want to know, and they were becoming loose,

as Harry Raymond, a swish of a guy, who stood on head in his irritable, Terrible Tempered Tommy Bangs moments of anger, sweating, frustration, brought on by glaring at the cellular, no  – not cellular — oh why had our Tommy Bangs, histrionic hero of the Yoga Loaf, on the top floor of a bakery, a hot, hot, hot floor, why could he not, indeed, could not find fame, and then our little mischievous Muffy, with a nickname of misky tisky, conjured again, under that pink spot of the brain,

having listened carefully, her spike-like cilia open to Harry Raymond’s needs and desires, thought, “Why I can kill 2 birds with one stone,” and thought Alfred twisted and twined his “Hi I’m from the Maine Woods,” thick lumber-like legs, would come and discover the lascivious twists and turns of

Dear Muffy, who not only thought under that pink spot on her head, but lusted, yes, our audacious mild mannered heroine Muffy admitted to lust,

and if she could entice Alfred into a yoga studio, surely Alfred would receive a memorable metaphoric epiphany and envision, using his yet to be developed connecting skills under his skull, yes our Alfred, had  a skull, but opposites attract, pink spots vs. skull and

Alfred from Maine would visualize throwing Muffy into the clover and violating her in the vilest way, all the while, thinking, this all started because I left my man cave, my man ways and went to Yoga, and Harry Raymond, that insipid white crow of a man, actually had some tricks up his sleeve with which to twitch and turn and perhaps thrust (oh dear an inflammatory thought) and so I would end this earnestly written tale with the motto,

“Yes the Muffies of the world, can conjure, and the Harry Raymonds of the world, will live to see another economically assured day, in this time when men of reptilian brain, and smaller anatomy down there, trot and scheme behind the crooked corridors of power.

Wednesday Mel posted a blog by me, and I was the guest blogger.  Today and a few days ago, this blog went out with Mel as my guest bloggerhttp://melwalshjones.wordpress.com/tag/guest-blog/

Reader, junior learner here.  Baby Lois Lane.  Blogger in apprentice is reblogging this very same post, because I get the feeling, people think I, esther, aka sorrygnat, wrote this blog of Mel’s.  Hmmm I wish.  Mel is an accomplished writer, and yes we are bookends this week and yes, she’s from Boston, and yes, she teaches writing, but her influence is much broader than mine.  I bow to her good writing.  So, here t’is, so Mel gets the credit.!

 

P.S. we  all met on the I Am Not Bob April Challenge, a generous and life changing encounter with writers. 

 

 

Mel Jones is a native Bostonian. She grew up on the Irish Riviera –The South Shore.

As a child, she spent many hours sitting in trees reading books and writing poems. She had her own newspaper column at fifteen and was determined that she would be the next Shakespeare or Tolkien. She was educated at The College of William and Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Antioch University, Los   Angeles. She holds degrees in History, English, Rhetoric, Literature, and Creative Writing (Nonfiction). Yes, she is overeducated. 

She has done extensive genealogical research both for her own family tree and professionally

 Mel edited a now defunct literary journal, The Sylvan Echo. She’s taught children from kindergarten through college in a variety of public and private settings.  She currently teaches College-level Composition. Mel is the founder of The Midlothian Writers’ Workshop.  She offers a variety of services for writers, including retreats.

Publications include, a book of poetry, Between the Lines (2005), and essays in The William & Mary Gallery, Sherwood Forest,and online at Little Seal and r.k.vr.y. She recently had an epiphany, if she sent her work out more, she would be published more. She’s working on that. She maintains a sometimes snarky blog, Mel’s Madness, which is more Erma Bombeck than William Shakespeare. Mel lives and writes on a small leisure farm west of Richmond, Virginia with her partner, parrots, and progeny.

Country Sunday Drive.

This morning I had to run to the store. Now for those of you who live in the real world that entails a 1/2 mile, maybe a mile’s drive. But not here. It’s eight miles to the local grocery store (national chains like Food Lion or Kroger are longer drives).

I pulled out of my driveway—watching carefully—because I live in a curve. My up-the-hill-neighbors apparently forgot that at some point last night; their cute little blue rag-top was sprawled in the ditch in front of their house. It took out the little green phone box. I knew my internet would be down. City folks! They moved here because they wanted “life in the county.” That’s what they told me in the one conversation we had over the old rusted barbed wire fence that separates our two properties. I’ll bet they have had more country than they can stand at this point. At least that’s how it looked as I drove by the stranded car.

I briefly wondered if they had swerved to avoid some sort of animal. I did that once. I slammed on the brakes when a rabbit hopped out in front of me. It was the first country lesson that I learned: do not slam on your breaks on a dirt road. Bad things happen. The rabbit hopped away, fine.

I totaled the car.

Anyway, I made my way up my windy road without incident. I stopped at the red light that annoys the locals so badly, Damned city folk! Who needs lights? All anyone’s gotta do is look both ways! That’s what the old folks said. It was a big deal when they put that light in; the county has six traffic lights now. Down right depressing.

I picked up the things I needed and started my trek back.

Now one would think this too would be uneventful. Au contraire. Once I turned at the traffic light back onto the road that leads home I had to stop to let the groundhog pass. I sighed. Then I had to stop and let the Sunday riders on their quarter horses pass, and then there were deer. I watched as two hawks swooped into a field for breakfast. They were successful. I was beginning to think, aaahhhh, were it not for the traffic light, this could be heaven.

But then I came around the curve. And there he was. A Black Angus bull in the road. In the road my poor little Mercury Sable was driving on. I was sure my car would lose a battle with him. I was sure I would just piss him off. And then I would have to get out of my car and face him. What was I to do? There was no cell service on that part of the road, not that I would know who to call about a bull in the road anyway.

I confess, my first thought when I saw the massive blackness in the road was that perhaps it was, I dunno, not real. It was a shadow or something. Maybe this one was of those flashbacks I had been warned about. But then, he snorted at me, just like in the cartoons with his flared nostrils steaming.

I slammed on my brakes. Thankfully this road was paved.

I have lived here for twenty years, but I have never encountered a raging bull in the road before. I’ve seen them in fields – safely behind electrified fences. I’ve seen farmers scurrying away—running for their lives. Once I even watched as the county deputies were chased out of a field. They were tracking a runaway. A bull snorted at them while he pawed the ground. They ran: deputies and blood hounds. The Bull treed the runaway, who was grateful when the farmer brought feed for his herd. One has little recourse with a bull.

I beeped my horn.

He snorted. Round one to the bull.

I inched forward.

So did he. Round two to the bull.

By now there were three or four vehicles stopped in each direction. No one wanted to play chicken with a bull. Several young men in fancy pick-ups were collectively shaking in their boots in the northbound lane.

Then, just as we were all beginning to feel a little bit desperate there in the morning sun, a little old man in a woody-style station wagon came along, got out of his car and hollered at the bull, “Get the hell off of the road! I’m a-gonna be late for church God damn it!” He took off his hat and swished it at said bull. Then punched him in the nose.

The bull skulked away. Round three to the old man.

My neighbor’s car was still in the ditch and my other neighbor’s pigs were scouting it out—they were inside the car and nosing around in the front seat. Pigs are curious animals. The neighbor should have put the windows up. Maybe the bull had been in the road when my neighbors were coming home last night and they too thought he couldn’t be real. I don’t know. But it would be less than a month before that farmhouse came up for rent again.

from You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Lulu.com/Amazon, the author’s garage….. ISBN 978-0-557-20933-0-essays, poetry, observations from a twin’s dying to cubicle despair in a corporate world with voices of buoyant pathos, mystical reverence – you catch my drift

Why do I write?  Like now, when the dishes sit orphaned in the kitchen sink because I, the washer, am typing, sharing, breathing, living, putting off the inevitable, because once a long time ago, I was so hurt, I couldn’t breathe.  I carried that hurt with me forever, until I found out that sensitivity is the price and the prize for being able to write, for being able to read people, to Braille the unsaid.  I write to a lady in prison, who said “I liked a phrase you wrote, “The language of God is a tear running down someone’s cheek.”

I write because I read, insatiably, gobbling, inhaling, filling myself with the human condition; splat on the floor some days, like a big old squishy bug, flattened, dead, its body swept up by old straws on a broom; and then I write to show the magic of St. Theresa’s Snow Queen Altar when I was young, and how everything looked like a wedding cake, and I write to tell how when I was younger, and so needy I could have impaled myself on a stake wide and big, sort of like a meta-letter holder, except the stake would run through my insatiably needy heart, and a note on my back would read “loves too much,” and that was before the book Women Who Love Too Much.

I write because I have gone beyond Medieval Posts puncturing my despair and loneliness and have decided Men Who Love too Much is here too.  Maybe we all love too much, and I write because maybe none of us love too much, for we are told by images in advertising, that we should be thin, jaded in the eyes, like the look of models for Vogue or whatever, who probably could shoot up heroin on their lunch hours, and because despair is trendy and nihilism and materialism and not giving a damn might be the language of the hour.  But then there is the lonely, little, big, young, old, trembling, brassy, you-catch-my-drift-writer who writes because he or she must, and words have a visceral effect upon her, him, the dog, the surrounding room.  I write of hopes for the world, and a good ham sandwich or description thereof on a sour dough roll, with slabs of mayo, and a bed of lettuce, and curled pink ham,  ready to go into someone’s mouth which is opened to the size of half a ladder, is  a good thing, a good description.

What this nation needs is a good ham sandwich and a Pepsi without the aspartame and some down to honest to goodness honesty that is the natural condition to communicate, to be real, to be afraid of bugs in knotty pine walls when the walls come alive at night; to watch an elderly blind woman, clutch the corners of her walker, take a breath and remain a sweet sweet spirit, knowing that her condition, her tests are the divinely calibrated kind, even though trucks have run over her emotionally, and I write to tell of the anonymous amongst us, the bravery, the small acts of courage, kindness in this nation where the world is narcissistically checking its derriere in the mirror, and no one or precious few are listening to the “midnight sighing of the poor,” and where we must have immense courage and speak up; talk, yeah, walk the talk, be it; speak up; tell future generations who we were, wanted to be, became anyhow and our hopes for the future; because someday we will all be sensitive, spiritually inclined, aware of our oneness,  and otherness will go on a back shelf like Twinkies, no longer approved of by the American Heart Association, and writing will be celebrated by hoots and hollers and a piping or two from a medieval horn or Siberian throat, and the arts will have a way of grabbing our soul’s innards and carrying us through the day.  These are some of the reasons I write, but there are others, but today is Wednesday and those are my Wednesday’s writing reasons.

Okay Reader, I’m going to jump right in.  http://hereismars.wordpress.com/  Mars recommended me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  \

I thanked her and waited in silence for an email to come over the horizon saying, “You’ve won our Versatile Blogger Award.”  It doesn’t work that way.

My them for the April Challenge, MNINB, “It doesn’t work that way.”

So today, I am going to try to do several things at once.  I am a superb multitasker, but whiz around so, I fall off the planet on a daily basis.  My call to action comes at the end.  First the award.

pathway to knowledge, wonder and humility

Thank you Mars, dear tender-aged Mars whose blithe spirit shines through and captures the poetic tendrils of my heart.   http://hereismars.wordpress.com/ (repeated it).  Select 15 bloggers I’ve recently discovered or have been following regularly.  I nominate the blogs below for the versatile blogger award. (Advice:  Google it, and following the instructions.)

http://swpulley.wordpress.com, long time friend, writer, lived in Bolivia and Chile 30 years, early member and continuing member of CHPercolatorCoffeeHouseFor Writers, and just one who you can roll around a floor laughing.

http://bahaithought.blogspot.com/

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/02/04/rainn-wilson-soulpancake/, I adore Soul Pancake, and use it in my writing classes at times.  I also gave the book Soul Pancake to my granddaughter.

http://www.bendsintheroad.com/  I have connected with blogger and will do online interview!

http://blackwatertown.wordpress.com      Northern Ireland, author and enchanting commentator; have been following him since he found me – how I don’t know.  I think I had 7 followers then.

http://elenagorokhova.com/  Author of Mountain of Crumbs, on Goodreads, Russian heritage. I lived in Ukraine and Belarus, spent some time in Moscow and Siberia, follow her blog on Goodreads.

http://creativityontheloose.com/   new; intriguing; she was in a class of mine

http://thekitchensgarden.wordpress.com/   a  new, refreshing blog about farm life, and well written.  Sagas, small s really about lambs being born, lamb bloat, the birds; all have names, and the blogger’s pieces undo the knot in the back of my neck from my social media strain.

http://kofegeek.wordpress.com/   Kofegeek is a silly geometer, a lover of coffee and fresh carrot

http://catewrites.wordpress.com/feed/   An exquisite young writer, working on her first novel – we meet once a week and share our writing through prompts!

http://mrslittlejeans.blogspot.com/2012/04/our-cat-boys-are-tree-huggers.html

friend, who is a scientist, a Baha’i and who writes enchanting, whimsical pieces.

http://livingbackstreet.blogspot.com, a very talented artists.  She had a stroke and since then she’s been producing the paintings you will see on her website.

http://holessence.wordpress.com/ one of the first bloggers to reach out at beginning of our MNINB April challenge, generous in spirit and knowledge

http://bridgetasher.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

terrifically informative re writing

http://debbieohi.com/home/atom.xml  I love her art

Okay this is for the lovely Mars – 7 things about myself

1.  I am 73, but have the writing voice of a 35 year old;p spunky, funny, deep, spiritual, whatever.

2.  I am a twin; fraternal, she died a few years ago.

3.  I am a member of the Baha’i Faith – since 1966 – was Catholic from Boston

4.  I am a pug dog devotee

5.  I have lived in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, Minsk, Belarus, spent time at Lake Baikal in Siberia, looked across borders to Mongolia, stared at the biggest fattest head of Lenin in Ulan Ude, Siberia, and crawled across railroad tracks and clung to barely the inside of a train in Eastern Ukraine, and last I road on a bus with our interpreter who thought beings from Mars would soon pop up, and where the bus driver stopped the bus, and said about the quacking goose in our midst, “Off with his head,” but of course, the goose lived, and we did too.

6.  I am a memoir addict, and started reading 4 books a day when I was 7; since then, my addiction has grown.

7.  I teach several writing workshops, one of which to homeless women, and they rock.

1. Please tell us about you the person and the author:

Glad that’s worded that way, because above all we are all persons first. In 1990 I started publishing personal and reflective essays in various journals. A writer friend from Israel had recommended me and many other yet to be published writers to write for a particular publication in Australia/New Zealand. This journal was globally distributed. When my friend suggested I submit some of my stuff, I thought, “Is that stuff under the bed collecting dust balls?” But in 1992 I was married to my wonderful husband Bill and we were living in Ukraine, in the City of Dnepropetrovsk, and this magazine published an essay about our lives in Ukraine.

I’m from Boston, born in Boston, and I remember blackout curtains from World War II on our windows and peeing in the dark. I remember the 50s and being a Catholic girl and going to a public high school. I had no writing inclination, but read voraciously from six years on. A huge influence was my mom who became a major alcoholic, but was a lover of books and also taught Latvian women to speak and read English when they came to our little brown rented house on Wren Street, and they spoke of the Iron Curtain, and their husbands lost behind this curtain. I remember thinking in images of a giant iron shower curtain spread across a vast land.

I grew up in a stratified society, where people drew lines about religious affiliations, class position, race, difference. I was a child in the 40s, a young girl in the 50s and was Catholic. In my twenties, I drove to California after the Cuban crisis, drove out by myself. My mother had died; my father remarried; my twin was somewhere; the family was dysfunctional and scattered. My older brother and sister weren’t around. I was a legal secretary and outwardly gutsy but inwardly a wimp.

I discovered the Baha’i Faith at 27, and felt as if I stepped out of a black and white photograph into the land of color. I stopped drinking, even though I hadn’t yet connected the dots of alcoholism sitting in my family’s history box for generations. I immediately became aware of the oneness of humanity, and my old stereotypical views fell off me like corrugated cardboard. Still, until I die, I must be aware of prejudice and how it is inhaled by a baby when born. My life is incredibly full –I teach writing to homeless women and others. I give a lot of free workshops. I guess you could say my husband and I are activists as we totally believe in service to the community at large. I used to be fearful but didn’t show it, and I faced life and have crawled over railroad tracks in Donetsk and been in Ukraine during the Russian coup and written a book about it. I’ve been to Siberia, and I have a son Nicholas who is married and a granddaughter. One last thing: I jump out of airplanes to say hello to Pug Dogs even if they are only dark little dots on the ground. That’s sounds very year-booky.

Mostly I totally believe in the splendor of the human condition, and am horrified by the meanness of our age, but have tremendous hopes for the future. I believe one becomes mystical by embracing the grit of one’s time and that we should be anxiously concerned about the needs of our age. I am the last of my siblings, my twin having died a few years ago. I’ve survived heart surgeries, blah, blah, blah, and walk an hour a day; sound like a gadabout and light up like a pinball machine when celebrating, reading, writing, a good book, justice, being a solace to someone else, being a source of light and laughter.

2. When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

In 1980, when I got a chance to go back to college, I wanted to learn writing.

3. Did you take any classes or go to school to learn to write, or did it just come naturally

No. Writing letters came naturally, but I had no idea whether studying writing would ruin my fledgling writing or not. I went to UC Irvine and enrolled as a junior at 42 as a single mom, fresh from what felt like 100 years of work as a legal secretary. I majored in English as I read voraciously and thought that the most practical. I had no dreams of becoming an attorney. I took a summer class and wrote a story about a blue dye eviscerating the earth from a jeans factory and a dog named Lance I think. I didn’t have the knowhow or the courage to have dialogue. There was lance, the blue dye, the inhabitants of earth leaving the planet, and the owner of lance, a woman who died.
My first writing teacher said, “Take every writing course this school has to offer.”

I took expository writing in the second quarter and the TA said “Take every writing course this school has to offer,” because I wrote a piece about who I was after reading an excerpt of May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude. Reader her talk about depression, writing and planting flowers caused me to think, I can do this. I remember feeling electrified, not hugely, but nevertheless animated.

I then took Beginning Fiction with Oakley Hall, and I was nervous. He has written a book on the novel; was co-head of the UCI Writing Program, and is well respected. He went to Iowa I think. I was nervous until I looked under the large square table where we all assembled, and I saw faded purple Rit died socks, and then looked up into his broad face, and kind eyes, and his hair looked like yarn. He taught how to show, how to be the camera eye, how to use strong verbs, and I flourished.

I then went on to take an advanced writing class with the other co-head who didn’t like older women, but thought I was a very good writer. He tried to discourage me, and I think he did so, because he didn’t make it in the way he expected. It was rough, but I hung in.

Then I took journalism with a very good Journalist who had been nationally known, and he said, “You are a good writer, but what the hell are you trying to say.” I also took courses after graduating as part of teacher training in teaching secondary writing, and Writing the Natural Way. I use those methods when I teach workshops.

I also took from the Pied Piper of Workshop Leaders, Jack Grapes in Los Angeles who is a method writing teacher, and I took his beginning workshop. Then I waited 10 years, took his advanced courses, and around 2003 I was bursting through sound barriers. . I have written 2 books: Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia and You carry the Heavy Stuff, the most recent.

I took a UCLA class too and we were not allowed to praise or criticize anyone’s writings, no comments, but the instructor told me I was very good. So yes, I took classes and really learned method, and craft of showing, use strong verbs, and still read voraciously.

4. Please tell us about your book and how did you come up with the idea for it.

As I mentioned I had a previous book, and the 2nd edition has pictures. Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, about our 3 year period before, during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. It is a personal view, a behind the scenes sideways type of thing – personal, funny, sad, hard, and spiritual.

I joined CHPercolator Coffeehouse for writers because my friend Steve kept encouraging me. We all give prompts to write about at periodic intervals and thus, writers from around the globe write or not write every day.

After 2 years, I looked at my previous writing and the CHPerc bundle, and thought “It’s time to do another book.” It’s called You Carry the Heavy Stuff and has a street sign that says, “It’s all grist for the Mill, been there, done that, what’s next,” with a pug’s back to the reader and a tall thin red-haired lady with an old leather type valise, inky papers sticking out of it, and she’s wearing red high top sneakers. That’s my persona. I have used “It’s all grist for the mill” so much; people will soon begin to scream.

I had a mother in law who was the size of a small tree trunk and didn’t take noth’in from no one and we lived with her after we came back from Russia because we didn’t think it was wise for her to live alone. When I first met her, Bill and I were packing up our bags to drive away, and she and I were loading stuff at an open trunk, when this low growly voice (hers) said to me, “You carry the heavy stuff for him.” So I wrote a piece about her.

Anna was her name, and Italian momma was her game. I both laughed inwardly and groaned. I wasn’t insulted. Had I been 20, I’d have run away. This book is a series of poetry and prose about who I was, am; life in an office cubicle; life in middle school and a world view taking shape, life after 9/11; essays on prejudice, which makes my African-American friends cry, and essays on spirituality and eating falafel at the Mercatz (shopping area top of Haifa hills) in Israel. I also talk lightly and deeply about social conditions, Baghdad, being a twin, having a twin die, and packing for the future. All of my pieces reflect varied writing styles.

A fellow writer wrote “You Carry the Heavy Stuff reveals an author who engages life with grit, honesty and good humor. Bradley-DeTally rests thoughtfully at a quiet stream to make serene observations, and then she’s up and away again to fight her good fight with a Tally HO! A refreshing read that combines a depth dimension with the tragicomedy that is life.”

I was going to call the book Writing on the Fly, and I had everything in it: fiction, surrealism, poetry, short stories, and then I trimmed it down and a friend said, “Writing on the Fly is overused.” So I had a brief contest where I promised a few select friends a Starbucks coffee card if they voted on a selection of about 5 titles. You Carry the Heavy Stuff carried the day.

I don’t outline. Let me repeat that I don’t outline. I free write and then I tweak, tweak, tweak. I am pretty spontaneous and word crazy some friends might add.

5. Which of your characters were your favorite and why?

My favorite characters are pugs and the people in Children of the Stolen Ones, a poem I hope which gives honor to my brothers and sisters of African heritage.

6. What traits and characteristics did you give some of your characters to make them memorable? Courage, nobility and the human condition is a sideways view.

7. Does your book have any important themes or lessons you wanted to convey?

Well, it’s memoir-ish so the traits would be pissy, funny, ballsy, outspoken, socially concerned, deeply spiritual, thrown in with the theme of global citizenship and the inhumanity of man and the humanity of man (generic man of course).

My themes speak of the wonders and need for oneness; the need to throw prejudice off the planet, the nobility of the anonymous and the suffering among us, the struggle and beauty of the dying cancer patients, the humanity of others, and the downright wonders of slinging around language like hash.

8. What was the road to publication like? Was it turbulent or fairly easy?

I am too old to look for an agent, and have a small following – think larger than a beer truck but smaller than the Coliseum in LA so my friend Steve said “Publish through Lulu.” He has done so with several witty books. Reader it was hell, pure unadulterated hell. Very Kafkaesque and tortuous until I finally gave in and bought a Lulu package, and then it was a miracle. Price wise it’s the best so far, but I’m not an enchanted devotee. One gets lost in Lulu like getting lost in the Hotel California, “It’s a lovely place….but you can’t get out …. Lost in the Hotel California.The biggest thing about a book is not thinking about writing one, not thinking about publishing, but marketing after it’s done. My advice is take it step my step and “follow the force” so to speak.

9. Please tell a reader what they should know about your book before the purchase them.

It’s creative non-fiction, spunky, funny, shows a variety of writing styles, almost a book of prompts plus points of view as an extra added package! It’s 14.96 (the extra penny is the hell part.) Also there’s a download – e book type of thing. (You Carry The Heavy Stuff) http://stores.lulu.com/sorrygnat and http://www.amazon.com/Carry-Heavy-Stuff
Esther-Bradley-DeTally. I recommend the Lulu site because you can read some of the pages. I also have some I can mail.

10. Words of wisdom for aspiring writers.

Read, read, read, read, write, journal, write, never give up; take courses, watch, listen learn, imitate, and trust the process.

estherbill@gmail.com http://sorrygnat. Word press. com blog

11. What current projects are you working on?

I am writing a book about someone with deleted memory; in interview process and at the beginning right now. I also teach the writing process, currently with homeless women, and their volunteers, and under the literacy umbrella of local libraries, plus give individual sessions and have writing groups.

11. What do you want your legacy to be- to have left the world showing worlds of unity, love and laughter, and to be a point of light in the dark dark nights of the soul, and to laugh and yuk about recipes, ham sandwiches and to promote the oneness of mankind, but to write, and know the power of words, the love of them, their ordinariness and majesty and not to worry about publishing, but think of the journey itself.

I wish for a world where everyone is a trust of the whole.

Esther’s ten favorites.

Favorite time of day?

First cup of coffee brought to me in bed by wonderful husband of 25 years.

Dessert: vanilla ice cream and dark, thick and creamy hot fudge sauce.

Teacher – Miss Halloran, in book; changed my world view from neighborhood to vast history and dimensions and the dangers of war within a 5 minute read of giant poster on her wall.

Social networking site; Facebook

Favorite city: Pasadena

Music – Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez

Color: the rainbow

Pastime: drinking coffee, and talking about real stuff with friends

Book: Oh my the over 600 on Goodreads, but if you don’t have time, Gleanings by Baha’u’llah, and An Interrupted Life, Etty Hillesum, and, and

‘Nothing save that which profiteth them shall ever befall my loved ones.’-Baha’u’llah

You Carry the Heavy Stuff

Nov 07, 2010 10:31am

 From You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Esther Bradley-Detally – on Lulu.com., Amazon, and   Author’s possession 

Children of the Stolen Ones
(for Gloria Haithman—December 2, 2004)

“Greens” makes me think of Ola Mae’s Greens, down in my belly, in Olean,New York, as crowds of us burst into Ola Mae’s Restaurant on a regular basis to shoot the breeze, eat her famous Greens, and just to feel all’s well with the world.  Here in Pasadena,California, the subject of greens and chitlins came up.  I thought of Ola Mae, the camaraderie, her corn bread too, and just feeling part of the woodwork welcomed by her open heart and Best-Greens-Cook-In-The-World self.

In Pasadena, on a Wednesday night, Gloria talked about the same thing, but went a step further.  She spoke of soul food on another level, the spiritual teachings of love, hope, and faith.  She spoke to our insides where there are no colors.  Gloria said, “We were not colored when we were born.  Yeah, I thought, we came in that way, and no one crayoned some in, or bleached others out.

What if, instead of calling the dark ones, the Negroes, the People of Color, names given by history book scribes, say, “Black or African-Americans?” Then a phrase measured out, by Gloria, entered our gathering, all the while she was telling of a story of friends who called themselves The Sisters.  These Sisters went to South Africa, honoring their roots, and seeking answers to their identities.  On the trip they were constantly greeted by groups of women who would sing to them.  One day they met some African women who had the “Who are You? Where are you from?” look in their eyes, all the while staring at The Sisters.

One of the South African women said, “They are Children of the Stolen Ones.” Back in Pasadena, sitting on the orange velvet couch, those small noble words, “The Stolen Ones,” bombarded my heart as I felt my soul sink into a place of utter knowingness, of a reverence and majesty revealed.

As a white lady, an older one, who learned of our essential oneness some forty years before and humbly stayed on the thorny and pitted path of discovery and unity, I sat there stunned.  I repeated the phrase over and over to myself.  “Children… Children of the… Children of the Stolen Ones….”

Yes, and for me it was a rightful and merciful appellation.

Finally, dignity and solace packed into five words.  Measure it out on the tongue, slowly: “The Stolen Ones… Children of the Stolen Ones.” Feel your heart melt as if a great and timeless grief has finally been acknowledged.

My heart bowed a humble bow to the true nature of an incredible people, their majestic endurance, their ancestors.  I’m no artist and don’t know my colors, and I live in a world that thinks it knows its colors, and colors inside the lines, not outside—the “lines” being the operative word.

Well, I’d say in this year of 2004, “Maybe we should hear The Sisters, our sisters’, call from South Africa,” and use lines to wrap around: Majesty, Dimension, Endurance, Courage.  Name every quality our sisters and brothers of African heritage carry with fortitude, and you come up with, in my book, “The Chosen Ones.” And, what if God and his Messengers and Prophets saw that these Chosen Ones endured trials similar to the Minor Prophets? And what if Bahá’u’lláh knew His love for His Chosen Ones, knew they suffered the banishment, the chains, the whippings, as He, in the Path of God?

So here’s the final what if—what if this planet really was a testing ground to see who could show courage under fire, love of God, love of people despite that the Stolen Ones and their kin were also robbed? But wait, here’s another view.  I think the Children of the Stolen Ones are the Morning Glories of our age! Their children; their children’s children.  It’s the story Morning Glory.

Let’s proclaim, let’s shout, and let us bow in reverence to our ancestors, ransomed so we might reframe our hearts and join each other in history’s future where lines are a thing of the past and colors are loved-filled stripes of every hue.

Skin Color

At the Black History Parade, put on by the Jackie RobinsonCenter, one cold, but sun-emerging day, paralytic agony stops my nouns, verbs and adverbs describing skin color or lack thereof.  Pain fills my heart as my eyes Braille the sadness of a man’s face, deep rivets line his cheeks, highlighting generational discounts and the pitter patter of white voices.

Numbness clots my throat at this morning’s Parade, while those in other parts of the city, those from White gulags, tuff lawns, buff cars, and spread glossy interracial magazines, photo ops on tables, never viewed by the living.

Brown vs. Board, wasn’t that inTopeka?

In Idaho, Bill and I share a table with a Nigerian psychiatrist.  It’s lunch time in a hospital cafeteria,  and Bill asks a question which floats over our salads:

“Do you have to emphasize your African heritage”?

An acknowledged “Yes.”

A rueful, half-stated reply, “My children will not have that advantage.”

On the broad palettes of television’s life experts on society, are noticeable by their absence of color. Hey, what about The News Hour with Gwen Ifill?  Yeah, and Colin Powell, and… Yeah?  Hey guys, take the tour of Any City, USA, where two separate neighborhoods exist—bookends of ideological contrast.  One is spacious, forgiving, and tolerant, with wide streets, large houses and gracious plants, suggesting it’s easy to feel benevolent.  The other part contains narrow streets, boards on windows, hunger at night, restless poverty, and shootings.  Skin color privilege cuts its wide swath.

I can say no more.

This isn’t to say I don’t have regrets or I don’t remember them. Some regrets sweep away easily when manicured estates employ gardeners impeccably blow lawns, long stretching driveways and sidewalks to reveal nary a curved or crisp autumn leaf. I’m not sure regret can be swept away like autumn leaves.. Then again, I loved autumn leaves on the sidewalk, particularly walking back from the library, the West Roxbury Library on Centre Street, my fingertips feeling the rough concrete images of a stone wall along the upper part of Billings Field. I loved walking under chestnut tree branches and kicking thick piles of yellows, burnt orange, tinged red of maple leaves, everything: leaves just thick enough to walk into piles, scuffing. Ever scuffed? It was hard on my brown tie Oxford shoes, the ones my mother insisted were so good for my feet, but still I walked and scuffed and kicked and felt full of warmth and protection as I hugged my books and stopped to smell burnt leaves in the air nearby.

The smell is wonderful, not a good word for a writer to use, but it’s Sunday afternoon, and I haven’t remembered scuffing leaves for eons. Easier to remember the leaves, the scuffs, than the regrets. I regret I never sang for my father, and that I didn’t kiss my mom goodbye, the day she died, and I left that morning in a hurry because I had to take 2 trolleys to high school because were moved to the city, Back Bay if you want to know, by the Charles River near the Harvard and MIT crews, where we walked the Pug and the Boxer even when the wind tore through us.

I certainly wish I had done better with my teeth. That’s a universal regret. Somehow I know this. I wish I had been able to continue piano lessons. I wish I had studied computing, and maybe taken auto mechanics in first grade. But I don’t regret Miss Higgins, my first grade teacher, or my Uncle Bill Johnson, who brought us molasses candy in long oblong boxes, a box for each kid, and the sticky time of it after Sunday roast beef dinner. I don’t regret his cartoons of my mother following our kitty whose tail stuck up to the ceiling, and a string from her rear parts moved along the floor, under the shadow of my mother with scissors. He called this cartoon “The Lost Cord.” I don’t regret the bookcases filled with books, and the absolute privilege I took as a human right, to sit in a huge chair and read, and not be interrupted, because that was normal in my house. “I’m reading,” gave each reader a sacred space.

I regret not knowing my parents, or the other adults for that matter, knowing them as people. I tried with my father, but my mother died early. I regret moments of being a bully, and that’s private and a long ago. I regret being so afraid of things, but don’t want to sweep it away like errant leaves which escape a rake. I regret most that my twin and I were such opposites and lived most of the time in the tension of the opposites. (Reader this phrase is right up there with “grist for the mill” which I use too frequently, but I have dropped, “my dendrites are hanging out.”) We were opposites: when young, she sturdy and athletic to my frail, roller skating, but bookish self. She kept her emotions tucked in like a North Easter, a person from Maine, and yup and nup and her not speaking of emotional revelations fell over her like a yellow slicker preventing rain. I was the emotive, get-into-trouble twin, funny, daring, but underneath probably equally unsettled or frightened. I regret in our later years her wall regarding my beliefs, but I don’t regret going beyond this wall and caring for her 2 years in a row, and in her final days, her reaching out to me, lifting arms from a body ravaged by cancer, and wanting to be held. And hold her I did. Nope, I won’t sweep that away.

From Linda Popov regarding service, celebration, memorial for John Kavelin:

Saturday, July 25, 2009 10:26 PM, CDT
Dearest friends,
Tommy just read aloud many of your guest book entries to members of our family gathered at Spirit Lodge. Our hearts have been deeply touched by the outpouring of your love and support. How wonderful to know we have this amazing global family, especially at this time when joy and sorrow have embraced, as our father used to say. Tommy’s daughter Zhena who lives in Sweden came from Puerto Rico withTommy and Farahnaz. My son Craig came from San Francisco, son Chris from Australia and Tommy’s daughter Nava from Haifa, Israel! At John’s burial, a small, exquisite circle of friends and family accompanied by a piper recited prayers, sang, and each placed a rose on John’s casket. More than 100 attended yesterday’s celebration. The visual presentation of photos of John’s life including a portion of the dvd of the 20th anniversary conference will be available soon on line. We wish all of you could have been with us for this amazing celebration of John’s life. We did it up right, decorating the hall with tapestries and paintings from John’s home, & lots of flowers. Tommy sang so beautifully as did others. My eulogy was met with many tears and lots of laughs as well. I feel we all need to stay in touch for a while. Dan and I are going away for a week. After that I will send you thoughts on where to make donations in John’s name. Tommy and all of our family join me in sending you our heartfelt love and gratitude. Linda




IN HONOR OF PUGS
Pictures: Pug and me in 1990, taken by an LA Times Photographer after our Siberian trip. Journalist I knew interviewed us. Sophie The Pug, an enchanting picture taken by friend, and Lucy, who is much prettier in person,and is very sweet.

Lucy, the black Pug, in Pasadena is 14 and struggling, but her thick black tail wags with the enthusiasm of a seven year old. Sophie the Pug, in La Quinta, California, owned by Michael and Margaret, is having hip surgery May 9th. Margaret called this morning. She was our Pug’s Second Foster Mom. Ann Clavin was the first. Wait-backup; Ralph Schreiber, took Puggy for 3 months when we first went into Moscow, Siberia, Ukraine. Then when we went to live in Dneperpetrovsk for the year, Ann Clavin took him. Many tales ensued about Puggy, his brattedness, his toes, his moaning and hatred of the snow, and his incessant need to scold for food. Richard Clavin was chief pug carer, and send a picture into The American Baha’i which was published.
Unfortunatley, Pug didn’t endear himself for another year, so we came home that summer and took him to Margaret in the Desert, and more hilarious stories followed. Margaret had never owned a pug before. I might add, Nikki, her daughter, trained Pug so he was basically dog civilized. Gratitude to both Ann and Margaret knows no measure. Well long story short, Sophie the Pug, Margaret and Michael’s beguiling little pug has to have hip surgery. Her left leg seems to have gone kaput. I am staying with her May 11-17th. I will be Cherry Ames Visiting Nurse, for those of you who remember that childhood series, and Bill will take care of Lucy in town.

Pugs, to pug lovers, light up the universe. Someone else might just see a squished in mug, and hear snorts, but to the pug lovers everywhere, their owners see lights in their brown eyes, a creature like reaction to all innuendos, and they are cuddily, will sit next to your soul and shed hairs on it, and grunt. I personally would jump out of an airplane (at 3 feet) to see a pug. So today is an unofficial Pug Day. It’s Saturday, and we visit Lucy today, normally not seen on Saturdays. But hey, grace is grace!

Anyhow wishing all those pug lovers out there a glorious day! Remember, take a pug to lunch this week!

Yesterday, Nick, aka Nicholas, aka Thor, Niko, Nicolai Ivanovitch, aka, my first born, last born, my only, and I went to lunch. He took me to Green Street in Pasadena, and for the first time in a long time, it was just the two of us: not rushing off in a car somewhere. He had been working 50-60 hours a week, and both he and Laura are tired. She was off with her parents who live in the area also.

We had a wonderful time. Sometimes moms and kids relate just as that: a mom to a kid, but yesterday we just chatted, and I filled him in on our last three months. There’s a picture of Nicholas with my twin sister, Elizabeth, and her husband Jim, and he’s gloriously happy. I also am putting up a pic of his baby picture.

He’s a very funny guy, and I guess I am a funny old lady, but our humor is different which is delightful. I’ve worked hard on being a good older mom which means, get off his neck, stay out of his business, and love his wife (an easy task indeed), but give them space. Yesterday we talk as two human beings carvorting and maneuvering through this path called life, and I was happy and grateful.

thanks Nicholas! love you mom

Elizabeth Leslie BY Esther Bradley-DeTally

It makes sense, Elizabeth, my twin, would have come down the pike first. I bet when she hit earth, she did so with a determined plop of a baby bottom. In fact, I think she had printed instructions for her life, balled up in a chubby fist. I think these instructions read: “This baby has spunk, courage, and a capacity to endure.” I also think she had some capital letter instructions which might have read “Increase Capacity for Endurance.” And you know, just to go further out on a limb with “I betcha,” I betcha some random angel threw in Determination and Service but also added Loves Sports.” Life is indeed not all work and no play.

But, what do I know, because I was on the Welcome to Earth conveyor belt, 12 minutes behind her. Me, Elizabeth Bradley’s twin. Elizabeth Deagan Bradley, born August 28, 1938, in Boston. She went home first, and I stayed to put weight on a four pound body, and clutching my own fistful of instructions and a note “Dear Baby, As you go through life, you will experience the phenomena of skin stretching. Do not be alarmed.”

We went home to parents Don and Mary, a sister a year older, Mary Ellen, whom we called “Meb,” a brother John a year older than that,” and a housekeeper Rita who had the talent of keeping the household together, all the while with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth.

We preceded: the Great Hurricane of 1938 a month later, sweeping into the New England Landscape like Attila the Hun on a bad day. We preceded whooping cough in the next few months, which Children’s Hospital of Boston took care of, because my father was out of work with 4 kids, all 3 and under.

Margarine hadn’t been invented, and our jumping on tin cans to save them for the War Effort and our saving lard, and tobacco shortages were just around the corner as was War with Germany and Japan and blackout curtains at night.

Descriptions followed: One became blonde and curly haired with big blue eyes. The other looked wizened, wrinkled, a baby squirrel kicked out her nest with a solid hind foot of Mother Squirrel.” “The Twins didn’t sit up until 7 months because they had each other.” “In the winter, we’d dress you girls up in snow suits which took a good half hour a piece, and put you outside. You stood motionless, not moving; until we gave up and hauled you back inside.”

After kindergarten they separated us because one twin was more dependent than the other. Only last week did I find out the cause. Liz said, “I copied your yellow wooden shoe drawing.”

I read and Elizabeth hated reading. But one day in third grade, a miracle happened in the form of Eddie and His Fire Engine, a short story which Liz read at school. Guess what, you couldn’t stop her from reading then. She also threw herself into Red Rover games, jump rope, sledding, ice skating at the local field, a form of squash which you hit with a tightened fist. Liz was the best. She’d sit right close to our dad and listen to the Baseball Game with him. She wanted to be a boy, and she was the next best thing for our dad.

Radio programs were a big item. We passed on over Baby Snooks and Jack Benny. By the time Elizabeth was 10, my mom would come out to the back porch, look due east and up into a thickly leaved maple tree, and say, “Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Bobby Benson and the B-Bar B is on.” A rustle would be heard, and Liz would slide down that tree and disappear into the worlds of Bobby Benson, Sergeant Preston and His Dog King (of the Yukon), Red Rider, and the Lone Ranger.

Harry Raymond’s Ballroom Dancing School beckoned us at age twelve, and Liz would climb down her tree and we’d put on identical red satin dresses with Peter Pan Color dresses that my mom mad. We’d be driven to Harry Raymond’s Ballroom Dancing School. We had to wear stockings and garter belts. I felt like a cat on the way to the public bath. Liz was more popular with the boys and had no trouble being asked to dance. When we sat on the sidelines on long benches, she sat with her legs wide apart as if ready to spring on a horse, sat that way, that is, until Old Harry who was like an Opaque Crow, tapped her ankles with a long black walking stick and said, “Ladies always sit with their legs closed.”

There’s a dark side, like big splashes of thick red and black paint, assaulting a Pollack canvass. Alcoholism, a mom taken away for shock treatments, a dad besides himself with anguish, 4 kids in disarray. Elizabeth also told me last year, “When I was 10, I stood in the graveled driveway and thought, “I have to take care of myself now.”

My father didn’t leave us, and my mother eventually died when we were 17. We had moved to downtown Boston along the Charles River, and Liz went home from school first and found her. Our mom died that night of a massive stroke.

Did I mention we fought a lot, and that she’d wait until I’d left the house and then fill my shoes with Kleenex and wear them for the evening? Did I mention all those Saturday night dances, and lots of guys thinking she was the cutest thing that side of the Mississippi, and dances where ushers went around tapping couples locked in Siamese embrace, saying “6 inches from the Holy Ghost”?

She also faked playing the clarinet with Janet Cleary and myself in the St. Theresa’s Marching Band, and we marched on the floor of Fenway Park and in the St. Patty’s Day Parade in New York.

She was the good student. She published a short story in the Tattler, a High School newsletter. We both thought we were stupid (my father was in Harvard at age 16), and we felt like Prince Valiant trolls. We loved dogs, independent ways and a 12 room house with 8 bedrooms and lots of fireplaces. Still, we shared a bedroom, and I was sloppy beyond measure. My father used to say “No man will ever marry you with a room like that.” Liz drew a line down the middle of our room, and I couldn’t cross over to her side.

Neatness aside, she went on to nursing school, but came home one night in hysterics, determined to quit, quit that is, until the next day Dad said, “Get up, you’re going to look for a job”. That night Liz was back in school. She finished, graduated to a standing ovation because an accident bruised her brain badly, left her with a slight limp, and her brain stem was injured. She came away from this sharp as a tack and it made her the most compassionate nurse in ICU and CCU units around!

She married a man whose chapter could be called “Psychotic and Dangerous,” and fortunately he died. I had my son Nicholas at 31, and felt badly she had no children. So we did what twins do, like Parcheesi Games and gifts for birthdays, we shared. I included her in many of Baby Nick’s adventures, and we were always there for each other.

Another chapter began meeting James Leslie. They were a match. Her wedding was the happiest of days, and then she became pregnant at around 42. Surprise! The day Matthew was born, blue eyed, blonde hair (where have we heard that), was a huge, huge day of joy. Jim and Liz then took care of foster children, and animals began to gather in their house looking for a potential Arc. Another incredible day happened when Joey arrived over the threshold, dark, puddle-warm brown eyes, a half-smile that would twist and melt your heart, and then Liz and Jim adopted him. After a few foster children came and went, shored up, readier to face the world, Matt said to his Mom, “When do I get a new mom and dad?” But that wasn’t the case.

Other than Her Lord, Jesus, these two fine sons were and are the cause of Elizabeth’s Greatest Happiness. Jim died, of agonizing bone cancer, and it was a blow. But somehow a spoon was in their pudding, which means, the Hand of God was gently guiding this little family. They moved to Idaho, and the rest is Matt’s story.

One final comment, she was always grateful: for every leaf on a tree, for a roof over her head, for every blessing and trial that came her way, and she tread the path of service and selflessness with her patients and her family with fortitude, endurance, empathy, courage, and tads of laughter, well throw in “How about them Red Sox” too!
We were both happy to be twins!

Winter came early that year. That year when they had said Gorbachev
was sick, and beefy people appeared on the TV screen to announce a
takeover. that year when one morning in Ukraine the people awakened
to no money, no rubles, no purchasing of bread, longer lines, because
the government had switched to a new money, Ukraining money, the name
of which paper escapes me at the moment.

The sidewalks were wide but bumpy, and snow filled pothills in the road.
Lines of babushkas waited for the bread store to open, bulky bodies,
empty bags, scarves tied tightly over their ears, their skin ruddy
from years of hard weather.

Still we trudged into the City. Forget taking the bus outside our
flat which either didn’t show or didn’t work. No, we would walk down
Orlovskaya Street, skittering down, taking a left, right, streets like
the shops, empty. Finally to the trolley and waiting as I felt
history’s shadow and sensed the ghosts of prisoners, serried lines,
marching to the nearby railroad station.

Our trolley would come, and we’d squeeze into its crowded innards,
passing money up through the people, hand by hand until the bus driver
received it, and then back, hand by hand, over the heads of people, a
small paper ticket, similar to one in a Bakery would be handed out.
Somehow the money still worked for the trolley for a few days.

Cold whipped through my thin grey coat, the one I found in Ulan Ude, a
city with the largest fattest head of Lenin sitting in a public
square, near the KGB building. Always in our time was the sense of
being watched. Now in the cold weather, when we moved our mouths
around so as not to freeze and made funny faces like Vlad, our
interpreter told us, we moved towards the Mining Institute, ready to
trudge up Karl Marx Avenue, towards the pretty side of Dnepropetrovsk.

We walked by cake shops, bread shops, an army take in the center, and
I noticed the snow fell like a lacework over the city; obliterating
any ugliness of the previous day. The snow created a space within us
like a moving painting, and we could for moments forget the people
whose life was arduous and abusive from early morn on into the night.

Living in Dneperpetrovsk, in Ukraine, in the winter, we learned how to
use dry mustard in a bucket of hot, hot water, so steamy, my toe
stayed in for milleseconds. We learned, no forget that, we
experienced the love and caring from Inna, from anyone, when we were
sick. We would be quickly scooped up into blankets, with our heads
peeping out, and our feet immersed in mustard water (mustard being a
deficit item. We were given verenya a jam in tea and once as I sat
being treated, I experienced menopausal flush compressed into an
hour’s time with mustard and verenya, but weakened and no longer
desperately ill, I could stagger to my bed and sleep and recover.

Winter, and no vegetables in the open market, well maybe a few that
looked like they came from a potato orphange, and some wilted cabbage,
but still we had bread and cake and new money: coupona, wow, coupona.
so many words ending with “a’! Little parades of “a”s indicating
hope and not starving, no rather packing my hips with starches and
lumbering through those winter days.

There was the night when we walked the wide flat sidewalks down to the
railroad station at four in the morning to welcome Paddy O’Mara from
Ireland, and the snow fell through the silence, a purity from God, and
a lacework of sensory experience flowed through me, beauty revealed in
a hard town, during a hard time, along with ever unfolding love and
kindness from our Russian friends, and I will always remember that
year, the year when winter came early.

My twin, Elizabeth Leslie, died June 18, 2007. She won the long hard fight, and many events and happenings swirled around us, too numerous to comment at the moment. She died peacefully, family nearby. She was surrounded by loved ones, and Hospice, Hospice was incredible, and educative and loving. Lindsey, Matt’s wife (my nephew) and I were student nurses. We learned to crush ice chips with a hammer (ice folded up in tea-towel), we learned how a sheet placed under the patient’s torso, is called a draw sheet, and how two figures get on each side and lift the patient up. we learned how to lift someone from bed to chair, and i learned all manner of getting meds into my sister whom I call Liz. Matt, Lindsey, Bill and I were like a concerto, and since Lindsey is a trumpet player, I thought musical reference good. I have pictures or will put pics up later, but Matt did a montage of pics including some of Liz and I as kids on trycicles and the like, causing a lump in my throat at random moments. A lot was said; she was held, loved, prayed for, with, over, and tucked in the best way we all knew how. It’s a privilege to help a soul over the threshhold, and i’m glad Bill and i were there.

we were to go to seattle, but too tired. Instead, we are down with Ralph and Sue in Chico, and will get back to Pasadena in mid-July. Friends all over sent prayers and love, and how lucky can you get. So that’s it for now, a breaking of my blog silence. Wishing you all well, love esther

Halo Moon Meets HyperPhysics Over Falafel at the Mercaz
Esther Bradley-DeTally

I sit here at the top of Mercaz in Israel, in a small, dart-in, take-a-quick glance-to-the-left at a glass counter, a man stuffing a half pita with round crusty balls, and a cabinet filled with icy drinks, coke being my Falafel companion.

There’s no halo moon sitting inside besides me on my chair, my Pilgrimage badge tucked into a pocket, so maybe baby I won’t get overcharged as an innocent on her search for the proper Chickpeas – big round ones, resting on a bed of hummus, surrounded by lettuce and pickles and cabbage and onions and tomatoes like it’s the best Our Gang pita to hang out in.

Are you with me? How about these Hills of Haifa. Yeah, I’m a newly emerged mountain goat who just hoofed, cavorted her pilgrim heart right up to the Mercaz which is a shopping area in Haifa, to wolf down a falafel, remember the other day when Johnnie and I were here, and to find a few gifts to take home.

Pilgrimage is not always about whispering of the “Face of God,” which if you want to know, believe me, I’m not kidding, I found a phrase of that exact saying in a book I read today. Yesterday I said in my small writing, “There is no Face of God,” well if I’m lying, I’m dying; there in that book, small red-crimson cover, about the Blessed Beauty, it referred in small black ink that “Face of God,” is a title used for the Manifestations, Prophets, Messengers, Divine Educators of God, so I am not just whistling Dixie when I tell you, “Boy was I surprised.”

But hey back to the Falafel and me and relationships. Someone mentioned a halo moon, and I Googled it because I have empty spaces in that vat of a brain of mine that resemble someone who had half a head severed like logs going into big blades, and the part that was severed for me was math, science, biology, stuff with details, and makes me wonder, “Why did I only see my eyelashes in the microscope”?

Are you with me? So before I sit down and feel the hot crunch of chickpeas in the back of my throat, I am going to tell you this Google led me to click on Hyper Physics, and I thought that’s what I am as a poet; I am trying to connect all my words and images and feelings into a Hyper Physics mode where everything is interconnected.

So I say, I’m going to connect a Halo Moon because I feel pretty stuffed and fortified right now, cuz that coke and falafel hit the spot and make me feel round and as if I’m producing extra circular rays of satisfaction around my round spots, just like a Halo Moon. And I’m going to tell you this hoofer and hoper has been praying her brains out (well parts anyhow) and she’s praying for Peace, because as I said previously, it has been promised.

Now don’t give me any half hearted reply or responses that peace isn’t possible. Because if you do that, you’ve just been listening to all those boys at play on the planet who want parades and neon signs and national anthems, and bling, lots of bling so they won’t think of the real stuff that matters, like the soul and its journey either to falafels or hallowed White Spots, and do you think people, all of us on Planet Earth, can actually be stopped in our coming together, our hyperphysics dance of oneness, cuz aren’t we about creating an ever-advancing civilization. Are you with me?


March 19, 2007-first essay upon return-
What exactly was it I did hear in those silent moments where timeand the soul, my soul to be exact, took a ride to another dimensionand time flattened out and I stepped with stockinged foot and measured gait towards the Threshold of the Blessed Beauty.”I consented to be in chains that mankind be released from its bondage,” and I found my forehead resting upon a pure cloth, on which were scattered crimson rose petals, and a silence from the White Heat of God’s Face enwrapped me in a certitude.Outside of time, the soul’s hangout, I took in knowing, God has no face. I took in white plaster walls, silent curving lacy ferns yearning their way up to pristine skylight. I took in the Pilgrim’s stockinged feet from Turkey, Peru, Canada, China, feet carrying the beseeching heart for mankind’s ordered life to be revolutionized, galvanized into an everlasting peace and the beginning of the Advent of Divine Justice. Outside in the world, the leaders played, hurling rocks and phrases suggesting “My testosterone is bigger than yours,” but for a time,nine days to be exact, I listened to my footsteps across lightly molded curved pebbles, witnessing sounds of my feet across broken tiles, calling to mind brutalities of leaders gone by. Empires stopped, majesty stamped on gardens on Mt. Carmel, every leaf, every mineral opening up to serve the blessed feet of the ordinary humanity who will come together no matter what. No boys will be boys machinations can stop this quiet soundless step towards ouroneness, and besides the white heat from the Face of God, bleachingmy bones towards selflessness and service, a promise is made,viewed, and the silence shouts, over Akka, “the silver city” and to Mount Carmel, the “mountain of God” Isaiah’s call: “Get thee up into the high mountain, O Zion that brightest good tidings,” and David in his Psalms predicted, “Life up your heads, O ye gates…theKing of Glory shall come in,” and I call to mind whilst standing in thick dimensions of purity the words uttered to Orientalist, Professor E.G. Browne, words of light going into the world as beacons of hope, “These fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away and the “Most Great Peace” shall come.”

September 6, 2006 – wrote short story last night, basic question of why was the dog wet and huffing and puffing, which I forgot to tend to – so much for completeness; Walked the Rose Bowl today; chatted about affluent happenings of some, and in my mind’s eye thought of those who struggle. Am figuring out this blog; and i almost approach it as I do the DMV line when renewing my license, i.e., with trepidation, but hey yea, it’s just a new thing; “aint no big thang, just a chicken on a strang,” via Nick my son; below is an interesting quote from Pearl Buck:

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him…a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create–so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange unknown inward urgency, he is not really alive unless he is crating.


Pearl S. Buck, novelist, Nobel laureate (1892-1973)

Relief coursed through me when i read that; i remember being at a point where my dendrites were hanging out and the Virgo in me was hissing back; and lo and behold, the quote came in; so i offer it for others.

talked to attorney i had worked for 100 years ago; we still hold each other in our minds and feel well being; he knew me before Nick was 5; and I worked for him at Rutan & Tucker, and he was selling his rubber canoe. I had precious little money, but bought it off him, and it was blue and orange and we lived on Balboa Island in a little apartment upstairs; which I called “My Robinson Caruso House without Robinson Caruso,” and that canoe was terrific fun that summer; except when Nick didn’t want to carry it back; But we all rolled around the sand laughing at our escapades. Seems symbolic, no matter how rough the times can be, seek a joyous moment.
okay, ta ta for now