Sunday, August 31, 2008

Coast Rat

I sit and watch, waiting to see if Gustav makes landfall near my hometown.

Cousins, aunts, my mother... all at 'high' ground, for what it's worth. Everyone waiting....those who left early, those forced to leave, those in cars driving for hours to go a few miles as they opened up I-10 and I-55 to go one way... out of the City.

I've ridden out a few major hurricanes as a child. Hilda I don't remember. Betsy, yeah, I remember her full on fury. Camille... not as wide as Katrina, hit hard, hit small. Each of them left behind ruined houses, ruined lives.

When you are a kid, a hurricane is almost fun... we'd ride our bikes, raincoats held open to catch the strengthening winds. It meant your parents were home from work, and you did silly things, like fill up the bathtub, pile up ice, have batteries and candles and we got to sleep in the hallway of our 800 sq ft house. All six of us... blankets and pillows and a transistor radio.

No one evacuated, you stayed with your house, you rode out the storm... levees held back then, and we simply waited until it was said and done, then, went on with our lives.

We played games outside, as parents struggled to put up plywood over the big picture windows, over sliding glass doors. An air of excitement ran though us... no concept of what a hurricane could do, just picking up the energy of our parents, who stood in groups, smoking and drinking a beer, keeping an eye on the clouds. They start to swirl a bit... the wind is stiffer, rain starts to fall... by then, we are hunkered down, already in petty fights over who gets what blanket and oh, no! Someone left their bike outside! You hear the wind slam it against the house, and it's gone.

The rain moves in a horizontal fashion, surreal in it's beauty. We leave a window cracked, so the air pressure won't cause problems inside. We are limited to our water intake, and consume all the snacks we want, it's like a party.

The eye hits... we dash out, to compare stories with the Boudreau and Hecker families... the kids stretch and dash about, running off steam. Windows and boards are checked, a fast inventory of what damage is done so far... birds start to chirp again, in the blue sky of the eye. The wind starts up, we drag our dogs back inside, give a cheery wave and retreat into our separate homes to wait out the other side.

I am sent to check on a window in the back of the house, where my grandmother's room is... it looks out onto my favourite tree, an elm I've read in since I can remember. As I stand there, looking... mesmerised, the wind rips it up, tips it towards the house where I'm standing, unable to move. At the last minute, a gust grabs it, flips it the other way, and I run back to the safety of the hallway, of my family.

The parents continue to smoke, we fall asleep to the sound of rain and wind and murmured prayers.

In the morning, the damage is done, trees, cars, roofs... we sit on a roof of newly constructed, and now critically damaged, homes... watching the sky for tornadoes. One is spotted dropping down, and we all yell with excitement. It is far from us, still, with the flatness of the area, we can see it hit a house. We are jumping up and down on the roof... in the mad dash back to tell parents, I slip off the boards we set down on the deep mud, sinking up to my waist.... I'm pulled out, all of us laughing about the enviroment, how our woods are changed, the mud, the stink, the wonder.

I find out later my aunt and uncle had to be evacuated.... pulling out four children and my uncle's mother floating on boards and a baby mattress--wading waist deep to reach rescue boats. I was overwhelmed with their adventure, not thinking of what they'd gone through.

Two of those same cousins lost almost everything in Katrina. They just rebuilt, and my cousin in law, Leslie, says if Gustav hits, she's not going back to see what is left. She is one of those who stayed in a hospital, saving whomever she could... while they waited for help that was so damn long in coming.

That house near the lake withstood Betsy and Aunt moved across the Lake, and then, Katrina removed most of that neighborhood.... where a group of children used to run, yelling and playing games, is now filled with FEMA trailers and old dreams.

I don't know how things will go... if the storm hits west of the City, the surge can still go up 20 feet.. the levees may not hold. If it hits, well, I'm not sure New Orleans will survive.

I'm keeping an eye on Lance, too... he's down in Mississippi rebuilding thanks to Katrina... he took a two year sabbatical, he left his family behind, and came down in a little trailer, to do what he could to help. This is after he brought in food and water and clothing a few weeks after Katrina.

Cross fingers, say prayers, hope Gustav dies before he hits... the mess on top of the mess I saw there just in May, well.... we'll need a ton of people like Lance.

Selfless, concerned, caring for people he'd never known before. Be careful, my friend... stay safe.

You are indeed, my hero.

photo of Lance from

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Investment's Car

The Investment finally has his car running.

This has been a long hard struggle for him, to get his 1971 Datsun 510 from a lump of metal to a lump of metal that works.

Oh, it's beat up as shit, there is no insulation inside, so, road noise is huge, the heat comes off the engine.... you open the passenger door from the outside. Windows don't roll up perfectly, and the transmission is missing a gear.


He got it running. He knew nothing about cars, didn't grow up around a dad, my father was not in any condition to help... he bought this car from a woman who swore it was in great shape, she had a husband in Iraq (like his brother at the time), she was a Christian, she said... trust her.

And, he paid her a down payment, scrimped and saved and paid her on time every month until he paid it off. She sold him a huge lemon.

Sure, he gets a bit down at times... he'll get one thing done, and then something else goes bad.


He's learned to re-build a car, he has a look of pride when he gets in it, he has made this thing run.

We zipped around town, laughing at how loud it is, and he told me his work he wants to do.... how he's going to get the transmission replaced, going on and on. I listen, having no idea what headers are or what they do, feeling pride in this 6'5" lanky, man, with his knees up under the steering wheel... me unable to turn towards him because the seat belt cuts me across the neck, and he talks of the new ones that will go in.

We drive down the street, the car with a few different colours on it, some rust... the guy who passed it for inspection was picked up for heroin possession last week, explaining now how the car managed to pass. We zip between other cars, his voice telling me about how this model raced, and on and on.

I'm proud of him. I'm always proud of him, of his siblings... here, though... he's worked hard, he kept on persevering, he is sticking with this project. We laugh about the car, but, our laughter is tinged with pride... his for having a car that runs, mine for what he's come to, from where he once was. And, I can see where he'll go, now, as he's gaining his confidence in who he is, what he can do when he puts himself forward. He's starting to believe in himself. Yes, I can see all the places he'll go.

More than likely, driving that car.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Lady Whose Name I Don't Know

Every evening, she would walk up the hill where my house is built.

It's not an easy hill, a good 6% grade, one that starts out slow, lulling you into a feeling it will be a snap, when you feel your muscles start to pull, and your breath comes harder... by the time you reach my house, at the top of the hill, you are wishing you'd purchased a dwelling no further than mid point.

Every evening, she would walk up the hill where my house is built.

She's at least 85, straight back, white hair so fine even a slight breeze will set it in motion on her head. She wears slacks with an almost defiant look, this woman raised when only that maverick, Katherine Hepburn, wore slacks. She is thin, tiny, cotton shirts in the summer, a heavier coat in the wintertime. I noticed my last summer, she had someone walking behind her...not with her, not next to her.. behind her. She would bear no person's help.

She works in her small flower garden, pulling the weeds with a hard yank. She wears a large straw hat in the garden, and little gloves with flowers on them. I tried not to wheeze as I walked past her on my way up the hill. If she could do it, so could I.

In winter, she is outside with a broom, slowly sweeping off the dry champagne powder we call snow from her sidewalks. Steady, strong movements keep the stuff swirling around her, her progress marked by the appearance of the bare pavement behind her. On occasion, with big snows, I've walked down the three houses with my shovel, moving the stuff from the larger driveway.

We never exchange a word as she sweeps and I shovel, clearing it all away. She has on a pink knitted hat, leather gloves and a heavy sweater, no matter the air temperature. I have the drive finished by the time she has her front walk swept, she still doesn't make a sound, or smile... a brief nod is given, and she goes back inside. We've never exchanged names; her granddaughter said she is quite deaf.

I imagine it's immaculate there, inside her home. Everything placed just so, her TV is somewhat modern because her granddaughter lived there when she went to the University. Small dinners, I'd bet, served in the kitchen, while she eats and listens to the radio news turned up high.

She doesn't abide fools or Democrats or tomato worms, I reckon.

When I was gone, I wondered how she was, if she was still about, sweeping, gardening, walking. I've not seen her in the time I've been back, either.

Yesterday, there she was... stick straight back, sturdy shoes, walking up the hill in front of my house, grasping my iron fence only once.... someone who looked to be her son panting behind her. She glanced over in my garden, still somewhat barren from it's near death experience....but, slowly greening again... saw me sitting there, and nodded. I nodded back, set my sprinkler, and came inside.

And danced about, Sophie scampering out of my way, giving thanks that she was still here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Utah Vegetables

I am one of these.

My routine is now: get up, talk to Sophie, make coffee, make the bed, surf the web, read, water part of the lawn, stare over the vast valley, drink water, talk to Sophie, read, write a bit, exchange emails with Kimi, talk to Sophie, move the water, sit on the front swing again-looking at the hummingbirds and bees on my huge lavender patch, talk to Sophie, eat supper, watch a movie, read, go to bed.

The excitement is killing me.

Sometimes, this routine is broken up by calling my Mom and exchanging animal stories with her, each of us trying to one up the other. She has the Terrier, I have Sophie, who is the oddest cat I've ever seen. She plays fetch, she follows me through the house, sits on the sink when I shower, knows I am going out when I put on my jeans (she attempts to bite them), and basically runs my life. She lies down by whatever door I've gone out of, waiting for me to return. And, she still cleans my chin every morning. At least, she's got it in her head the human's breast is not for her, and no longer waits in anticipation for it's appearance.

Sometimes, I have coffee with HRH, who is the substitute American Sign Language teacher for one of the high schools. We have interesting conversations, as I tend to do with my interesting children:

-So, someone posted I am a three bagger on my blog.

-Wow, Mom! That was harsh.

-Yeah, I thought so, because, I mean, one bag is sufficient, don't you think?

-Totally! Especially if it's burlap, because it won't slid around or make noise like a paper would cling to your hair and stuff, and you won't have to worry about it coming off.

-Good point!

-You know, Mom, two words make everyone in the world look beautiful....


-Ah huh.... Light. Switch.

We both nod and finish our coffee.

I go to movies with The Investment, and sadly, we've seen everything, so, last night, our choices were either a film about Mormon missionaries or "Death Race". We tossed a coin, and the Mormons lost.

So did we.

The funniest thing was, the rest of the packed theater was there because they actually thought this was a good film to come see, and, from their reaction, they got their money's worth. The Investment and I ate our popcorn, candy and drinks... and sat silently staring at what is up for one of the worst films I've seen... ever. We didn't leave (our usual M.O.) simply because the Mormon movie had already started, so, there was nothing else we could sneak into.

The upside is, I'm healthy, I have great good times with The Investment and HRH and her family, Sophie keeps me entertained, and I'm writing.

As long as I don't find myself with my ass attached to the chair by roots, I should be okay.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Yesterday, The Zenmaster was 32.

Never fails to surprise me when he shows up, and he has hair on his face.... he's tall and has a deep voice... never fails to surprise me when he gets out of a car that he's driving. Somewhere in my head, he remains the 6 year old boy I met long ago, when I first started dating his dad. The dark brown hair is the same, as are the blue eyes that never lost that deep twinkle.... his smile still spreads over his face, his laugh is still goofy, his hands are as big, he retains an 'aw, shucks' kind of a manner... he has, however, learned, finally, to dress better.

The days of bright green shorts and an orange teeshirt are over.

This is the man that holds his siblings together.... he is the center of the universe they've built as a unit. He is the eldest of five.... two mothers, one father... none of them seeing that DNA split. He provides advice, money, laughter, scoldings, love, hugs, kisses....he set up a fund for his niece so she'll have something there for college. He buys a house so his sister and said niece will not have to worry about landlords and rent issues. He is our rock.

He came to my home, put it in shape to be sold, he and his lovely lady... dashed in, dashed out... always giving me advice on how to handle the whole thing. He lets me rant when I'm upset, his calm voice, -Now, Mom, he says.

Mom. The best gift he ever gave me. He was 12, and suddenly started calling me Mom. He doesn't know I went in the bathroom after that conversation, when he just started using the name, asking me a question, then going outside... and I cried. One thing to have his sister start when she was 2 and a younger sibling saying it... and another to have him make a conscious choice to give me that gift.

He was heard one day by a neighbor, out in our back yard...swinging his baby sister, HRH, and singing to her... he was 13 or so... she came inside, and called me. He made up the song, he didn't see Eileen out there... and he was telling HRH in his very off key voice how much she meant to all of us, how much he loved her, how he'd always protect her, and care for her.... and he has.

Oh, he's not perfect by any means. I dumped a cup o'noodles on his head in the car in pure anger once. Don't worry, they were warm by then. He pretty much destroyed the car we gave him. He almost flunked out of his University the second semester. He didn't always make good choices.

I remember dropping him off at the Jesuit High School, his pants so far down on his ass, I think I drove home through traffic and had coffee made before he slouched his way up to the front door.

He also worked at a Hospice, and came to lie down by me the first time someone died while he was at work.

He pulled up those University grades, and worked jobs to help pay his tuition. He has had his best friend since they were around 8, I think. He is an amazing role model to his siblings, although he did try to kill one of them once. He made clever movies with GI Joe, he babysat, he survived a step-father from hell who did the wonderful thing of dying on Zenmaster's birthday a few years ago. He works hard, he is my little geek with his own LAN system in his house, who takes his cats with him when he comes to visit.

He is handsome, witty, loving, kind, odd, intense, loyal, has a temper at times, will do anything for his family, has a black belt in some throw you around thing, he thinks about presents he gives you.... He is my ZenMaster. I am blessed to have him in my life, we all are.

Happy Birthday, Son of my heart.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Can't Write, Don't Ask Me

I quit writing.

I'm not sure when or why, I simply quit the process of putting down my thoughts and ideas and the world that lives in my head... it all ground to a halt. I find pieces of paper with a word here or a phrase there, and I've no idea what I was going for or what I meant to say or why I even wrote that word or phrase. I'm not deep in the dumps or upset, I am simply caught up in a place of white noise and no inspiration, is all I can think.

I love Six Sentences.... I can't even compose six words.

There is the continuing feeling I am on the cusp of something... that I am waiting to tip over the edge of a big change in my life, and I have to save all my words for that to happen.

Or, I'm simply out of words to say. (I can hear everyone who knows me laughing there).

I go for a day at a time, not speaking.... listening to whatever it is God is telling me, wondering if he can get past the clutter that is in my head... all the babble and confetti and scraps of ideas and thoughts and left over mish mash that constitutes my interior world.

Or, is all of that his answers to my questions?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Letdown

Three days after strike, and I am still moping around the empty house.

Strike always depresses me to no end. You spend countless hours designing, building, creating costumes, characters, finding props, set dressing.... doing it all. Rehearsals, fittings, finding time on stage, last minute, and I mean last minute changes to the sets and things the actors had to fit into their blocking... opening nights that rocked, a season that was spectacular... standing ovations on a regular basis for one show.

Then, strike... and in a whir of motion, props are inventoried and put away, costumes marked for cleaning, photos taken, the whine of screw guns ripping apart the sets and in 24 hours... everything is packed up and put away.

Clean stage. Clean dressing rooms. Clean build area. It's as if we were never there...and I'm always sad about it all.

Sophie tries to make me feel better by playing "Let's eat your hand!", a game she finds far more interesting than I do. She also plays, "Lie on your chest when you are reading." and "Sit on your forearms while you are typing on the laptop.". Still, she comes when I call, and is very tidy... I can't ask for more (except for a halt to the eating my hand). The bad thing about a cat is, you can't walk it... I walk alone, and it's hot and I don't like heat and I don't want to garden and waaahhhh.

So, yeah, that's it, The Letdown after theater season. I'm settled into my big room, my huge closet is nicely organised, pictures are on my wall, I've had a nice time with a sleep over when Golfwidow stopped in on her way to Vegas to live, and I'm ready to have something new occur.

I'd like it to happen, oh, now? Until then, I've a trip coming up to see Peter and Prince and my brother, and that should be fun. Still, I want something to happen... I feel it in my bones, and I so hate waiting.

Now, now would be nice.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Life After 40

On a blog I read, an unsent email was posted that caught my eye.

The writer is 24, and she spoke of having women reaching their sexual prime at 40...

I have to comment on letter, on women coming into their 'prime' at 40. Is it a sexual prime, or, is it more an acceptance of who we are as women, a feeling of comfort in our own skin, making it living life in it's prime? A realisation we don't really care who likes or doesn't like us anymore... a sense of not being bovvered (thanks Catherine Tate!) by very much, therefore, we aren't hampered by worries of comparisons anymore, so, we smile, and jump happily into the world, including a sexual world, thrilled with all that it entails?

As a mature woman, I find myself more involved with the things I find interesting, I don't concern myself with people that drain me, I devote myself to those I love, to things that are important to me, I understand time is not my friend...I'm not focused on the party scene, I want to have a place of comfort for the man I would be involved with, and focus on those needs... flirting is a waste of time and an insult to the person I am with... I know what I want, what I need. I also know I am okay on my own, so, anyone in my life is there because I choose to have a relationship, not because I feel something is missing otherwise.

When a woman does get involved, I think we are more focused in many ways...not as raw in our emotions. There is more depth in a sense. We project a very real sense of comfort, security, acceptance.. of both self and the person we are with... there isn't that game playing, of trying to compete with everyone around, we are past all of that. Set, settled, secure. We are women, not girls, not trying to figure out life.. we've done it, and we are delighted to share what we know. There is a sense of ease, of comfort, of texture, of richness in all we have to offer... women over 40 have learned to enjoy life, including sex, to embrace it, to welcome what it has to offer. We are fearless.

Granted, there are some who reach this place earlier, and some who never do... I am speaking from a personal place, from my own perspective, from those women in my life who are, indeed, fearless, content, good with being 40 and very sensual in that space. Ask the men in their lives if you don't believe me... we may have Advil next to our beds, but, that doesn't stop us from enjoying ourselves in those beds.

It's odd... I find myself being told I look better now than I did ten years ago. I believe it's the acceptance of who I am, and being quite content with that person.

I wouldn't be in my 20's or 30's again for anything.... I wasn't very good at life back then...but, enjoy it, those of you who are. And to those of my generation?

Rock on, ladies, rock on.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

And When I Die...

What do you want to be remembered for?

Simple question... when you have thrown off this mortal coil... what do you want to have as the thing you are remembered for?

I look forward to the answers...

Friday, August 1, 2008

He Listened

A line in the play, "Brighton Beach Memoirs" always stays with me.

The father, Jack, is bemoaning all that is going on; a large family, one of the jobs he worked during this Depression closed... he's feeling lost...and his wife says to him, he'll be able to pray at Temple all day Saturday.

Jack: There are men who have been praying in that Temple for 40 years. Do you know how long it will take for my prayer to get to the top of the list?

Kate: (nods) God has time for everyone.

On my birthday, the GodMother called to let me know God listened, and indeed had time for all of our prayers, her family and friends... including the many kind words from people here.... with her last test out of the way, she is currently cancer free. She asked to say, "Thank you", and I have to you....Thank you, for caring, and praying... it was a wonderful phone call, I assure you.

A birthday present I can enjoy for years.