Monday, April 25, 2016

Thoughts on the Marathon II

      The OKC marathon is called Run To Remember and it happens in April each year, close to the the date of the Murrah Bombing, the 19th, 1995.  Vertical banners, each bearing the name of one of the 169 lives lost in the bombing, line the route.  Some of the runners are themselves survivors of that blast. Others run with names of their beloved friend or family member written on their backs "I run in memory of_____".  The opening ceremony is very moving to most of us. There are lots of tears and throats thick with emotion. This year Abbey, Able and Kari ran the 5K. No relay this time around. Audra was in St. Louis and Zach was at the Okeene Rattlesnake Hunt with his boys.

     In the days, weeks and months following the bombing, millions of dollars were donated to help the families torn apart by the blast.  The memorial plaza was built with that money, and the museum.  Medical bills were paid for some, funeral expenses, college tuition for some of the children of the deceased.  One of the stated reasons for the marathon is to continue that promised aid.  It has been a long time now, twenty one years. The marathon was established sixteen years ago.
      Every year the media hounds the survivors and the families of the victims.  Pressuring them to retell the story, to remember, to make us cry again. You know how the media can press and pry. If you have ever been part of a federally declared emergency, you know that that promised federal money doesn't usually show up, once the cameras are packed away. The millions of dollars donated by caring individuals tends to disappear as well. It's an old, sad song.
    The number rolls out every time we remember that day: 169 lives lost beneath the rubble. That isn't accurate, of course.  Each of those individuals had a spouse, a mother and father, a son, a brother or sister, children and friends whose lives were also torn to pieces, even though they did not die right then. Family members had mental breakdowns and never recovered. Children were left to fend for themselves and their siblings at too young an age.
      Remember the heart wrenching picture that became the symbol of the bombing in OKC, the one of the fireman in all his garb, cradling the lifeless body of that tiny, bloodied girl?  Did you know that fireman took his own life a few years after the incident? True story. The next time you weep for that little girl, remember the man as well, and his family, friends and co-workers. The damage was far reaching and continues to this day, as it does with the families of the victims of hate crimes of all stripes worldwide. There are many continuing lawsuits, filed by the families of the victims, trying to get the money they were promised from the monies donated after the incident. I'm fairly sure it has been spent of other things.   
      Bottom line: if you want to donate money or materials to someone, or to a classroom or a family, you need to walk it over there and make sure it goes where you want it to go. Don't give it to a group who volunteers to "take care of it and see that it gets dispersed". They will disperse it alright. When money is passed from hand, to hand, to hand, it seems to vanish into thin air.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Thoughts After Watching the Marathon


We come in all sizes and shapes,
our skins and hair a wonderful variety
of hues from black to pale as milk.
Some have skins speckled with dots,
or with splashes of color, lines
and scars, accidental or purposeful.

We watch eyes, hands, bodies, mouths.
We listen to others' words, noises
and the silences which separate.
We intuit meanings beyond the language;
in the slight movement of brows or lips,
in the shrug of a shoulder, the intake of breath,
movement of the eyes, the turn of a hand,
a moment's hesitation, the waver of voice.

We misunderstand and do not seek clarification.
We jump to wrong conculsions,
We hold onto hurts and refuse to forgive.
We are large-hearted and selfless in crisis
much more than in our everyday lives.
We are tender toward the very young
but impatient with the very old.

We need solitude, sleep, touch, and
connections more than we sometimes admit.
We speak the truth quietly, in the dark,
and smile through lies in broad daylight.
We are capable of great strengths
as well as regrettable weaknesses.

We create coverings for our nakedness
like no other species.
We have eager curiosity and
a thirst for knowledge.
We invent, dream things that might be,
make markings on rock, in clay,
on paper, in attempts to capture time,
images, thoughts and ideas.

We create our own songs,
musical instruments and
bizarre languages to symbolize
tones, times, measures,
quantities, arts and sciences.
We discovered principals of matematics
and physics, chemistry, medicine, flight.

We study the heavens and every
other species which shares this
blue and green water-planet with us.
We are capable of unbelievable violence
as well as immense kindness, gentleness
and compassion.

We repeat our mistakes generation
after generation, although we are
quick to learn so many other things.
We know hope, faith in the unknowable,
trust, suspicion, grief and despair.

My greatest hope is that we can
figure out how to survive
with our best lights intact,
and our worst ones winnowed away.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

An Eye-opening Series of Events

     It started as a perfect Spring morning, the grass wet with dew, the air smelling of all things green and growing.  Sunlight slanted through green leaves, embroidered with birdsong. I made the tours of the gardens, pulled a few weeds, stopped to listen to my friend, Mockingbird warming up for the day's concert.  Taking some deep breaths I stood in gratitude for my many blessings, beauty and contentment before starting the long drive south to the city.
     I went inside and gathered my things.  No keys. Okay. I made the wide wander around the house, searching pockets, looking under papers, digging deep in my purse.  Ah ha! Out to the car with tote and hanging clothes and then back to the house for the forgotten guitar, and once again to feed and pet the cats before leaving. They wanted me to stay. Two days, I whispered to them.
     As I cruised down the red-dirt roads full of sunshine, a pair of doves flew up in front of the car. One of them thudded against the windshield. I glanced in the mirror and saw him flopping on the road. Drat. I hate that. Such loss for his mate. Deep breath in...and out. Turning onto the county blacktop I cruised toward the low place where deer often jump out unexpectedly from the woods surrounding a small, shady creek. When I topped the hill and looked down, I was shocked to see that every tree in that wood had been grubbed out and left to lie, piled in the field, naked trunks, torn branches, thrown down upon the earth, earth roots screaming into open air. The earth itself was scraped clear of all vegetation. The tiny creek looked immensely vulnerable, staggering along through bare dirt where once there had been the richness of habitat. My stomach churned at the violence of the act. My god. Another shake of the head, this time in disbelief. That farm had recently sold; someone new was at the helm.
      It was seven more miles to the state highway. Flat green fields of winter wheat unfurled to my right and left below a high dome of clear, achingly blue sky. At the crossroad two miles before the small town, I noticed an oil truck rolling north along the dirt road to my right.  It seemed we might reach the corner at the same time. He had the stop sign, of course. 
      But he didn't stop. He came barreling across the blacktop at top speed, directly in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes, throwing everything in all the seats to the floor. My seat belt held. The car stopped.  I watched him drive on north; no brake lights.
     There was no one on the road but me.  I sat completely still, unbelieving, adrenalin soaring through my veins, my heart pounding. A gold and brown Meadowlark sang from the barbed wire fence and I looked his way. I thought of the cats, dozing on the porch swing surrounded by the scent of blooming Iris from the gardens. A Red-Tailed Hawk made a lazy circle high in air.
     Turning slowly off the pavement, I headed back to the farm, windows down, driving slowly. This day, I decided, I would sit under the tall, living Elm and watch the bees dancing from flower to flower. I would stroke the cats and read a good book. Not today would I wander from this place of peace. Not today.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day: April's Flags of Fanfare

All the flags of the world ruffle and flutter,
moving to the anthems of early Spring;
beauty and blush, lavender and bronze, 
sapphire, gold and purple velvet.


Royalty never wore their riches so well,
for these ladies are completely unadorned, 
no trumpets sound, none bow and scrape.

We are blessed to catch sight
of their glory once each year,
banishing all memories of tulips.

It is not for thee or me that they bloom,
but to woo the sweet bees, large and small,
those supremely necessary friends.

Iris merely stand, silently unfurl their delicate selves,
and breath loveliness into the world around.



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Suggestions Received

I asked for suggestions for NYC and this is what I have received so far:

1. Have fun.
2. Don't try to do everything in three days. Pick a few things and stay with them.
3. Expect all meals to cost way more than you expect. Forget about it.
4. Go to Levain Cookies.
5.  Be prepared to wait in lines for big things.
6.  Try to find some authentic NY Cheesecake.
7.  Forget about the Empire State Building.
8.  Just cruise by the Statue of Liberty and call it good.
9.  Check out the High Line.
10. When your head starts to explode, go sit in Central Park and breathe.
11. Take ear plugs for sleeping. You will need them.
12. Get a smaller, cross-body purse.
13. Everything is farther than you think it is from where you are. Take a cab or uber.
14. Take something to help you sleep, the night you see Hamilton. Your adrenalin will be through the roof.
15. Do not hang your purse over the back of your chair in the restaurant.
16. Take the subway, (so you can say you did.)
17. Take some cash for the street musicians.
18.  Don't say howdy. Don't say hi to everyone you meet, you'll never get anywhere.
19.  Plan your work (play), work your plan.
20.  "The Bronx is up and the Battery's down. The people ride in a hole in the ground."
21. Nothing runs north and south, like it does in Oklahoma. Forget trying to figure out
      where north is. Use Google and just go.
22. Don't try to see all of any art museum. It can't be done.
23. Rockefeller Center looks just like it does on the Today show. Don't bother.
24. Have fun and come back and tell me all about it.

Okie Dokie. We're working on the plan, have our tickets, have some money in the bank, got the hip to stop hurting. All I need is a new pair of walking shoes and a pair of opera glasses and I'm ready to roll.

Iris Weather and Good Times

So begins the eight week window in which I love living here.
Everything is green and growing, jacket mornings evolve into
perfect sunny afternoons; everything blooming in turn. Sometimes it rains.

Here we have rainbow of Iris and a lovely girl to share them. Abbey, Mags and I wandered through the OKC Iris gardens at Will Rogers Park on Saturday morning.
I must have this and one of these
and two of that one. Mom would love this.
Oh my gosh, look at this guy!
Where do I sign up for this gig?

A garden doesn't look like this without the work of many dirty hands and knees, I know, and hours, yes, and loving eyes and gentle words.
 Show me a gardener who doesn't speak to the green and growing. It can't be done. This sweet girl already knows that truth. It is her heritage.

Maggie's Wood is lush in its pre-Johnson phase. 
It rolls out, full of tiny flowers and soft, interesting grasses in the full range of greens.
I've given up on the black-berries but not the trees.
The son of our mammoth Mulberry is thriving; thick-trunked, wide-crowned. I am so happy. There is much that needs doing. C is right: I need a gardener to do the heavy lifting stuff. I am doing the best I can and leaving the rest to the times when my men come to the farm to help me out.

   The chickens are working on establishing their pecking order. It is already fairly clear who the top dog (?) is. Everyone else is scrambling to find their place. The baby, who has been struggling for life, still lives.  Yesterday she walked around a bit, ate, drank and pooped. Victory! Now if only the others will give her the time she needs to survive. She has a buddy who helps keep her warm. There they are in the bottom right of the picture. Aren't friends nice. They may be sisters.

B had his First Communion on Sunday. He was so well behaved and attentive in his three piece suit.
     It rained all day. My kids say that is Danny, blessing the event. Sounds about right. I found myself very moved to see B in his first walk, by himself, down a long aisle, toward something important.  I couldn't help but think of graduations, honors, and weddings to come. There are so many times when our children walk to the front of the room, with family beaming from the stands, teary eyed. I was surprised how moved I was by the whole thing. Aunt Audra, his Godmother, helped him with his banner and lots of other things. She's a jewel.
      After church, a reception, and time to change clothes and take a breath, we had a party, one of Abbey's wonderful celebratory get-togethers. Family and friends, delicious pulled pork courtesy of Uncle Able, AND several presents. I don't think B knew there would be presents. Surprise! He love it. Thanks to Abbey's big house, there was lots of room for different groups to gather and visit. There were light saber battles that ranged throughout the house, nerf gun fights, ribbon dancers, magic wands, cookies and ice cream...the whole nine yards. It is such fun, I never even think to take a picture.