"We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." ~Maya Angelou

Monday, April 16, 2018

Poem: Never Forgotten

He sits alone in the airport,
white hair beneath a cap with
U.S. Naval insignia.
Trembling hands cradle
a steaming cup of coffee.

Respectfully I extend a hand,
"Where did you serve, sir?"
His blue eyes lift to mine,
there is a pause, followed
by a firm, dry handshake.
"Korea", he says, '52 to '56...
two tours... a destroyer."

Our clasped hands hold
as we speak. I say that my
friend's father was there
at that time as well, inland,
but didn't make it home.
He says something... stumbling,
broken bits of language,
words that cannot convey.

His eyes fill, as do mine.
He lets go my hand and says,
"I served...",with a tight jaw
and looks past my shoulder.
"Thank you for your service."
He nods and lowers his eyes.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Poem: For Baby Wyatt

Baby's Breath and Miniature Roses
to mark a too brief life, now that
the months-long battle is over.

That sweet, soft head, washed
with kisses and tears,
kisses and tears,
the perfect mouth with its
tiny teeth and pale exquisite lips
that will never again curve into smiles.
                  ~            ~
They are safe now in the arms Love,
the greater, all-encompassing Love,
and they will be there still, when
you arrive, however much later,
with heart wide open and eyes
wide open and searching.

They will be with your mother,
your sister, a aunt, a friend, waiting
with their tiny arms outstretched
for you, the heart of their heart.

Friday, April 13, 2018

TBW Out Of Its Banks

     TBW is on a rampage today...well, for the past few weeks actually, but today is beyond ridiculous. Winds are 35, gusting to 50 mph. Everything that could move on the porch, has blown down to the south end. I went out and turned the table upside-down to keep it from breaking to bits. This is craziness. There are big wildfires out by Woodward, Leedy, and Guthrie which are burning out of control. A friend of mine told us one of her nieces and her family lost their house, the barns and sheds, the horses and cattle in the Woodward fire. They got in the car and drove like bats out of hell and managed to survive.  With winds at 50 mph it is impossible to stop a fire; the fire flies forward and eats up everything in its path. The fact that we have been in a drought since last summer doesn't help at all.
     After these last two weeks of Teacher Walk Out and the insanity of a legislature that refused to even entertain any bills that could have funded education, I think it might be time to sit down and think about why we are still living in Oklahoma. There are other states where education is funded and the weather is more bearable and the people more broad-minded and progressive.  I think it's time to move on, or back, or somewhere better than this. I know, people will say, "No! If everyone who wants the state to be better, to improve, leaves for other states, we will never make any advances". I hear you, I know all that, but my grand kids need a better education than in schools that are so underfunded.
      Of course, I don't have any say in where my grand kids live or don't live, but that's how I feel about it.  My own children went to school in a country school where they didn't have access to a lot of programs and we didn't move because Danny farmed the land right here.  But now my children have skills and degrees that can find employment anywhere, they are not tied to the land and neither am I. This bloody wind and drought stirs up dust and smoke and my asthma and lung problems are huge here. The garden in summertime exhausts me. I think things might be better somewhere else. Time to look around and make some plans.
   To that end I am deeply into simplifying things in my house: books, stuff, quilting material, anything that doesn't tug at my heart is going away. I'm digitizing pictures and baby books, I'm taking bags of stuff to Goodwill and Hope Outreach. I have a little pickup now and can move bigger things away. I have two treadle sewing machines in my home, neither of which I need. Does anyone want one? They need to find new homes. My house has become the repository of family furniture, because I am close and have room for it.
     Can you hear the resignation in my voice? You aren't imagining it. The weather here beats you to death, especially the wind, endless, howling, pounding wind, day and night. Wind and no rain. Let's go hitch up the horses and head either west or east, this middle ground is becoming a wasteland.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Issues and the Ocean

     I have been following the happenings at the state capitol in OKC this week, teachers in the hallways in conversation with legislators, or trying to find people to talk with about the chronic underfunding of education in our state. We are not the only state to have this problem, I understand that, but ours is like a monster that is running wild. Perhaps theirs are too. This past week, teachers, administrators, support personnel, parents, students, state workers in other agencies, friends, churches, steel worker unions, and many more have walked and stood and cried out for funding to be revisited this year. There is still time, although we keep hearing from some in the House that there is not. There is always enough time, if you lift your head and decide to step out of the obedience to money line and do the right things, the important things, for the right reasons, regardless of the consequences.
   They did already pass a nice pay raise for the teachers, but two days later they took away the funding for it so the burden then fell on the schools to find that money for the teachers at the expense of other pockets in the system. This is exactly what has been done ever since I first started teaching; it's the bait and switch, oldest trick in the book. In the past, if they ever didn't take the funding away, the insurance companies raised the insurance rates to match whatever raise we had gotten, so we always ended up the same or less than where we started. There were caps on what a teacher could make a year, and may still be: $40,000.
      There are tax cuts that could be walked back, there are taxes on capitol gains that could be addressed, there is money from the casinos that was supposed to go to education and didn't because of a lack of oversight, there are other kinds of gambling, there are other ways as well.  The problem is, the Speaker of the House will not let bills, that might be of help, onto the House floor for a vote. One person should not hold so much power in an elected, representative governing body that they can hold the whole body hostage at their whim. We need to fix that. I realize he isn't standing alone, but he is the keystone and this stance is going to be bad for him, in the long run. I hope he soon awakens to that realization. We'll see what happens. There are midterm elections in November. I hope someone steps up decides to run against these men who are dead set on not funding the public schools or taking care of the people of Oklahoma. Many of the people, at all levels of government, who are against funding the public schools, have never been to a public school, nor have they sent their children there.  The public schools aren't good enough for them or their children. So my thought is: we should work to make the public schools good enough for everyone's children.

    Today is Thursday, the fourth day of the Walk Out (not a rally). I know some smaller schools will have gone back to classes with nothing changed. I hope the larger ones continue to hold strong. I hear there is a group of teachers walking from Tulsa to OKC to bring attention to the issue. Today many teachers, students, and supporters walked from Mustang and Yukon (two suburbs of OKC to the west) walked to the capitol with signs held high, to gain media attention to the plight and needs. It's fifteen miles.
     I am not at the capitol this week. I am in California, reading and writing as I sit beside the ocean. I am letting that roaring power soften these tight cords of emotion that have bound me too tightly in the past several weeks. There are lots of emotional strings being pulled right now, ever tightening around myself and those I love and care for.
         I stepped out into the waves on Tuesday afternoon and tears ran down my face.  I needed the ocean. Yesterday I didn't get in the water, because it was too freezing cold (although there were three and four year olds in swim suits who were jumping into the waves all around me, and 12 year young boys and girls riding the boards out to the bigger waves). Those of us who are a little older had our jackets on. This is Moonlight Beach, somewhere I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a restful, beautiful spot to enjoy: sand, sea, volleyball, picnic tables, kids' playground, restrooms, fire pits, seagulls....the whole nine yards.

       Yesterday we drove south and then walked across the border into Mexico. M's dentist is down there and she needed to get some work done.  There were many, many people walking across, both ways, all day long, so we joined the line. It was a long walk and at the end of the day we wound up on the wrong side of the long bridge and had to walk back around to find the car. I got my exercise, that's for sure, and slept like a baby last night.
       Mexico at the border is kind of a horror with all the razor-wire and armed military and that monstrosity that used to be a river in between. There are families, women and children and grandmas, sitting outside both sides of the border crossing building waiting, just waiting, hoping their husbands and sons step out through the doors.  They appeared to have been there for some time.

 This is where we're staying this time, a little Airbnb close to the beach, with a beautiful lemon tree by the front door and the bath and shower hooked onto the side of the larger house (strange!). It is a little chilly in the shower, if you wait too late in the evening to grab your towel. It brings to mind our days of camping in the National Forests with the family when I was 12 or 13. Brrrr..... Okay , I'm off for more adventures. Next week I will join the fray at the Capitol and add my voice to the cry for the teachers and education.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Love is Love is Love is Love is Love

     The forest is brimming with life of all kinds, interconnected and interdependent. The forest is a metaphor for all of life on the planet, for the great creator, by whatever name you call it/them, has placed all things before us for our education, our enlightenment, our encouragement toward compassion for all of life. When we consider certain lives unimportant, when we denigrate, or despise, or mock, without any twinge of sorrow for their lot and their sorrow, we lessen the strength of the whole by our smallness of mind, heart, and spirit.
       Love is stronger than death, it is stronger than hate, it is the only force than can ultimately hold us together, so we do not perish alone.                                 
                           Love is simple. Let go of your ego; open and accept.

"No man is an island
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee. "

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Poem: Looking Back

When did we go off the rails?
   I roll the film backward,
searching, shaking my head--
no, before that, before that.
As a child in the 60s,
I remember thinking
assassinations were
  that protests and racial
conflicts on the news were
that the Berlin Wall had
   always been there.

Let me see..
there was The Depression,
   The Holocaust, WWII,
Easter morning, Korea, McCarthy,
  murders in Mississippi,
   JFK and Jackie, the Bay
of Pigs, Khrushchev, the
   Cold War and Dallas with its
unanswered questions, Space travel,
   Vietnam, Selma and Montgomery,
deaths in riots here and over there,
    Bobby in the kitchen, hippies,
Johnson, sit-ins, protests, fire hoses,
    rubber bullets, real bullets,
a Dream shot down, screams in
    Saigon, secret tapes and denials,
hostage deals, Hollywood in Washington,
   lies and lies and coverups and lies.

But before that, was the Crash of '29,
    the Roaring twenties and the
horrors of WWI, the Archduke,
   flight, Women's Sufferage,
the inhumanity and greed behind
    the Industrial Revolution, immigrants,
railroads, Winchester, Genocide on the Plains,
    the Civil War, states rights, human rights,
slavery, division, revolution,
   colonialism, immigrants, trade...

The patterns were there from the start,
I simply wasn't paying attention,
    or maybe
I needed a better history teacher,
although history is so malleable,
it probably wouldn't have mattered.