Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jam and Tattoos

A few days ago Melanie invited me to tea. I haven’t seen her in quite awhile for more than a blink because she’s been performing in back to back plays; huge amazing plays all over Los Angeles with fantastic fellow actors She is living her creative dream. This next weekend she opens in George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Misalliance’ and as this of course is E-n-g-l-i-s-h, she is conjuring up opening night gifts for her cast-mates…..English gifts….home made peach-rosemary jam, fig lavandar jam, and ginger scones! Can you believe it? And no short cuts. I know that I’ve mentioned Nanny in blogs past. Melanie’s middle name, Lucy, was Nanny’s real name. Nanny is sipping brandy and muttering from up above with delight (as she was QUEEN of jam) at the sight of Melanie and her boiling jam jars and apron and sweet sticky brew. I, from down here, watch in wonder.

I sat on her kitchen stool and watched her blond curls escaping from their barrette while she stirred and poured the jammy mixtures. As we were not having a serious tete-a-tete with all of this going on I shared my musings on my earlier errand.

I had been standing in line at the post office behind a beautifully muscled, soft skinned, young woman who had tattoos galore all over her back and arms. As we stood I looked and let my mind sail. It took me to “Wow, those roses and thorns are interesting and the colors very strong, I wonder if these tattoos are fresh” to “Her skin is so plump and perfect. Was mine ever like that? Of course it was.” to “Yikes! I wonder what will happen to these roses and thorns as time shapeshifts the colors and flesh! Will they wither and widen and droop and bleed? What will happen?” to “I remember, oh, twenty years ago in Charleston when I used to do massage and tattoos were new, there was a woman who came in with a fabulously detailed red vintage car across her plump rump and I thought ‘woooooooo, that’s a surprise!’ and I wonder now, after twenty years, how is that red car  looking?” to “What happens to the tattoos as the skin looses its oomph?”

 Musings and life. I’m sure the images are  just as amazing but different. Maybe even better!

Ahhhhhhh, yes, just like everything.

And so, Melanie and I shared her jam and my musings. A perfectly simple girlie afternoon which now becomes a treasured memory.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Boulder Wildfires

Today is the fourth day of the Four-Mile Canyon fire in Boulder.

Norman and I met in Boulder in 2002, lived there and were married there. We lived only a hop and skip from where this blaze is wildly out of control. With multitudes of families, all over the world,  dealing with and in recovery from natural disasters right now, this one is not huge but hits very close to home for me.

The word that keeps coming up in reports is ‘rage’.
Is that what fires do?
Maybe they think they’re dancing.
Maybe they think they’re cleaning house or waking everyone up.
Whatever it is they do, when they’re finished there’s no doubt that they existed.

Animal habitats.
Personal treasures.
Crying to God.

Just a few words to bid farewell to one chapter and usher in another, and another will come.
In the meantime prayers for a speedy transition and the return of joy.

Friday, September 3, 2010


What is the matter with us?

When the earthquake in Haiti happened everyone leapt into action to help. We heard about doctors and churches and celebrities rearranging their lives in a flash to do whatever they could physically or financially or simply to draw attention.

Pakistan has been in horrendous crisis for weeks now and we hear nothing. Millions of families have lost their homes to natural devastation. Children are dying by the hundreds every day from starvation and disease. Each of these children has a mother that loves him or her just as much as we love our babies. How can we turn a blind eye and deaf ear? How can we ignore this as humans? Is this because these people are muslims?

What is the matter with us?

Oh yes, one person. Angelina Jolie. Thank you!

Coconut Water

The cold drink display in Whole Foods is in the very front of the store and impossible to ignore if one has one’s eyes open. There must be half a dozen different bottles  and cans, all beautifully, shinily designed, of coconut water. Every time I see these  my memory zooms me around the world.

My first stop is  an ancient city in South India in 1990, when my Mom and Dad and I were re-visiting old haunts for sentimental reasons. We had endured a wild taxi ride to Mahabalipurim, complete with the cab breaking down in 100 degree heat and 100% humidity. We had finally made it and though the giant Buddhas called, we were so thirsty that we could barely walk. And there, like a mirage, was a young girl walking towards us with fresh coconuts. We squatted on the edge of the road and poured the juice from those coconuts down our throats and all over our faces. It never felt so marvelous to be sticky. We three grinned and laughed at each other and then Dad stood up and said ‘Right! Let’s go visit the Buddhas!”

The second place that I fly to is a village on the outskirts of Madurai at dusk in 1964. We had been invited to visit because my father’s work, through a local college,  involved a program of teaching the villagers to resist the temptation to sell their rice fields for bags of gold, as wealthy developers were trying to buy up the farmlands and destroy their livelihoods. A theater group from the college was getting ready to perform a skit to demonstrate this swindling and provide options to the villagers, while we  sat in a circle waiting. Water buffalo and men strolled in from the fields, the moon was full. It was hot and still and in the shadows  the village women came bringing fresh coconuts for us all to drink. We drank and passed, drank and passed round the circle in silence, waiting and being together.

The third place that I beam to is Sri Lanka, which was called Ceylon then, in 1957. We had only recently arrived.  My sister and I had done our writing for the day, and were  now supposed to nap. We went out on the verandah and saw a young boy climbing up a giant coconut palm. Shinnying up like a monkey, with a knife in his teeth. We watched him go from down below us  to way above. With wide eyes and itching legs we were dying to do what he was doing. Then he took his knife and swat swat swat, down fell a heap of coconuts. He climbed down quickly, and in his beautiful dark brown skin, the whites of his eyes and sparkling teeth smiled up at us as he held up the coconuts and nodded. We looked at each other and scampered downstairs like little mice and the boy handed us our first fresh coconuts, the top hacked, and we all drank.

No bottle, no can, no matter what they say or how colorful they are, compare in any way to any one of those coconuts. But I do succomb anyway.

I sit and sip through a straw, in Venice, California, 2010, refreshed and happy.


Oh Mom! Mom! Mom! Three years ago today was your last full day on this our earth!  You told me that when your father knew that his time was coming  he had said to you “Oh Jane, I don’t want to leave this beautiful world”. You inherited his passion for life here, for beauty, for nature, for literature, for humanity and for humor.  You embodied this at the heart and soul of our family.

As a tiny seed I was brilliant to choose you as my mother. You were a giant force, hard-headed and demanding and not easy to be at peace with. Your frustrations as a huge-brained woman in the time in history that you were born, were mighty and until you were stroked and lost access to your phenomenal vocabulary and right side control, you did not slow down. Then you did. Amongst tears and angst,  and you and I embarked on our eight year chapter of beginning and ending every day with an hour long phone conversation. How can one ever doubt God’s wisdom? Our wisdom? You and I grew into best friends. Transparency, truth, intimacy and we healed all misconceptions and opened to pure love. I love you beyond time and space and earth and now. I miss your voice and laughter and your cool hands and your intense concerns and your girlie expressions and  the voids where I can hear you think and silently react. I feel you with me, especially when I blade by the sea and look up and out at the sunset and though I feel you I miss you. I wonder when we shall see each other again and I ask you now, please give me a sign that it is you, when I greet my grandchildren of the future, or babies born to friends. I love you , Mom, with my whole might!

And now, here, one of your favorites:

in Just-
spring     when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles       far       and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful 

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far       and       wee 

and bettyandisbel come dancing 

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and



balloonMan       whistles 




And so you begin your 4th year up and around wherever you are.