Without Birthdays There’d Be No Mother’s Day

I don’t remember the day I was born, do you? But ask any mother about the day her child was born and she will be glad to fill you in.

(Imagine a New York accent.) “Little Johnny came on a rainy Wednesday. Oh yah, he gave me the fits for eleven hours. Johnny just didn’t have a clue as to how to get outta there, so I pushed him! I’ve been pushing him ever since. But anyway, his arm was up over his noggin, the doctor said, so a puny thumb flipped out first like a hitch hika. The Doc fumbled around so only his head was crowning and all. That hurt like a bugga! The good thing was it helped me forget my husband was layin on the floor out cold. He lost it when a nurse handed him a soiled towel to throw in the linen basket. Geez Louise, I had to do the Lamaze all by myself. All that breathing! The nurse took ova holding my hand and started breathing with me. The doc said to start pushing. Golly. Finally, after all the ‘don’t pushes’ and ‘not yets’ I felt like I had the constipations. So I pushed like a motha and screamed like a psycho lady. Lamaze schlamaze! That kid took my breaths away. I swear little Johnny and I were the same color of blue. I bet a dolla he was. Actually, I did swear. More than once, but who’s countin’ at that point. The doc said I was doin’ good, and that I was fully effaced. Ida like to slap him in his efface! Everyone, including my husband, who pulled up beside me again, kept sayin’ to push. With my eye balls bouncin’ at each one of ‘em I yelled with spit comin’ out, ‘I am! I am! Holy Schmoly! Get this kid outta me!’ The doc told me to give it one last big push, which was good, because that’s alls I had left. So I pushed like a weightlifta and out came my boy like a bowling ball. The nurse put him on my chest like a slab of meat and I was so full of the emotions. Johnny cried, for crying out loud, and my husband came in close and all our tears mixed together. I’d go through it all over again! A miracle it was, a miracle for sure.”

Due date determined by the baby, not the mother | SciTech ...

Pandemic Pondering

Has mitigation led to manipulation or the revelation thereof?

Do masks make manifest our propensity to hide?

Will contact tracing underline or outline a community?

Does distancing lead to dysfunction or uncover it?

Will we think twice about ‘going viral’?

 

Has mitigation led to meditation?

Do masks reveal our trues selves?

Will contact tracing underscore our need for others?

Does distancing lead to a helpful perspective?

Will we think twice about going virtuous?

 

Heard Immunity

No typo. Yes, a bit playful. Everyone has a need to be heard. Nobody wants to be herded. I’ll admit, part of the reason I write is to be heard. Our voices are a gift to others while our ability to hear is the mechanism to receive such gifts. Ever wonder why God gave us one mouth and two ears, I mean besides the scientific anatomical ones? I figure it might be so we listen twice as much as we talk.

The immunity part comes in when talk becomes cheap. It’s simple supply and demand. Ever been around someone whose mouth prattles on and on? They supply too much. They tome on and on and you tune out. Blinking becomes a conscious choice so your eyes don’t succumb to glazing over. You throw a penny of thought into the conversation and coins gush out like a slot machine on steroids.

That’s when heard immunity kicks in. It’s not that they don’t have anything to say. On the contrary, mixed into the white noise of their run on sentences are clues. Their mouths aren’t open and shut cases of our prosecution. A word, a phrase, and tone of voice start rolling over like a rock tumbler. If we can hang in there, we might stop looking at their mouth and make more eye-contact. If I can cup my ears for a little longer, maybe, just maybe, I can interpret their words in the context of their whole. Did you know that body language accounts for the majority of communication?

Listen. Listening can be hard work sometimes. It’s a skill in need of constant development. Make no mistake, listening is not the same as hearing. Just ask my kids. When they call me ‘Jerry’ I know it’s after multiple attempts at ‘Dad’. My wife knows I can’t do two things at once. To tell her I’m listening while checking my phone? Fail.

In all this distancing, sheltering, and personal protecting, there are spaces created to listen. I can’t say I’ve taken every opportunity to really listen. I’d kick myself if my leg reached that far. Instead I’m pounding these keys as a note-to-self.

Two ears plus one mouth equals communion. Community. Communication.

Two eyes plus two ears plus one mouth equals better reception.

Heard immunity is something I want to avoid.

4 Shocking Facts the Wool Industry Doesn't Want You to Know

 

An Eagle, A Weasel, And A Grain Of Wheat (I went long today…cup of coffee’s worth.)

Thursday, often overlooked, fills a gap between Wednesday and Friday. These days are often not named by the sequestered, the distanced, and the unemployed. More people are getting a hint of the homeless while hunkered down in their homes. Do the homeless know what day of the week it is? Do they give a flip?

“Hey you, what planet is this?” Captain James T. Kirk

Precisely.

Anyway, I simply want to mark this day as Thursday, for the record, and all that. Thursday April 30, 2020 for hindsight’s sake!

The Muse didn’t tell me to go get my laptop to write the words above, but I had to dip my toes in the ole ‘stream-of-consciousness’ for a bit.

The thought at hand comes from my readings this morning. I’ll start with where I ended. A weasel. Take a sec now and what comes to mind when I say weasel… Definitely not a term of endearment, eh?

I’ve been re-reading Annie Dillard’s book Teaching a Stone to Talk. In one chapter she details the life of a weasel. A ten inch squiggly line of an animal. She tells of a man who shot an eagle (Must have not been outlawed at the time.) and attached to its neck was the skull of a weasel. Weasels go for the jugular and don’t let go. Their jaws are like vice-grips, and after clamping down, they take their prize back to their den and sequester for a few days until the need arises to play fetch again. (Kinda like safaris to bring back toilet paper and hand sanitizer these days.) Apparently the weasel missed its mark and the eagle wrestled, clawed, and ate as much as it could. Eagle-weasel…Fascinating.

Well, I couldn’t help but overlay a metaphor over such an image. Now, what comes to mind when I say eagle? Right. Weasel going after the jugular of an Eagle. We’re talking freedom here and the defending of it. I gotta be careful or this blog might turn into some sort of hummus of hubris in which we keep grabbing the chips on our shoulders to dip and dip and dip.

I’ll be the first to admit I shy away from talking politics. (By the way, do you know the definition of politics? Poly means many, and ticks are things that suck the blood out of you. J) I usually don’t talk religion in a matter-of-fact way either. Those who do might be considered courageous or fanatical, depending on who is listening and the filter with which they listen.

I believe our country was founded on freedom, warts and all. I believe my Christian faith is also founded on freedom, some Christian knuckleheads notwithstanding (Myself included from time to time.). First, country-wise, a Trail of Tears, no explaining that away. We also confess to the sin of slavery, and thousands died, white and black, to bring about emancipation. It’s human nature to look on the color of the skin first before discovering the content of anyone’s character. Some are more skilled in getting past appearances than others. (That could be a blog post [or a book] in itself. Probably is many times over.) We can make confessions of creeds and miss the point entirely, which is Christ himself, not crusades or Christian religion per se.

How are you feeling so far? If I were you. Wait. If I were me, I’d crack some eggs, scramble them, and lay the eggshells between us. It’s like back a few generations ago when the topic of sex was spoken only using winged insects and avian references. If we do discuss religion and politics it’s usually after we’ve had one too many and our defenses are down. Well, what I mean is there are plenty of talking heads…often talking past each other. Our divisions gladly pluck up talking points and paste them over each other’s mouths. I know. I know, but don’t we all like a bit of drama with a splash of optics?

Annie Dillard, the weasel and the eagle, was read last. The first thing I made an effort to get synapses synapping was in the gospel of John. Jesus, in usual fashion, had his disciples scratching their heads.

“Listen carefully: (interesting, Jesus already knew they might not get it) unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, is sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have if forever, real and eternal.”   John 12:24, 25. The Message Bible

Okay, what the heck does a grain of wheat dying have to do with the old eagle/weasel? I got to thinking about how we humans like to weasel out of things. It seems our tendency is to stay in our little stories. Get what we get and go to our den until we need something else. At least that’s my modus operandi most days. But this weasel…the one that bit like a tick and wouldn’t let go, died attached to freedom. Who knew the places he flew before dying. In an odd way maybe he was buried in the sky. Hmmm.

I suppose I should have a point. It’s personal, first and foremost, like a finger pointing at my chest, because in the end it’s our hearts that matter, right? Okay, let me put it this way. I see eagles occasionally on my delivery route. It’s as if I saw one and it flew over to me and said, “Bite me.” It’s as if Jesus walked up to me and said, “Jerry, you are that grain of wheat.” It’s wholeheartedness gone wild, courageous enough to risk it all. Death be not proud. Living to die, and dying to live and all that. So much more, but I’ll chew on this awhile, no, maybe clamp down.

Tuesday

Tuesday

Like the middle child

of the beginning of the week.

Looked over rather than seen.

Endured as opposed to lived.

You know how each day

exudes an ambiance?

Sunday with its long naps

and pew perching.

Wednesday has ashes and humps.

Monday, extra cups of coffee.

Thursday is second fiddle to Tuesday.

Saturday the garage is addressed.

Friday we remember God.

But Tuesday.

It acts like the missing sock.

Maybe it’s the overlooked,

almost empty loaf of bread.

This day clangs no cymbals,

yet is loaded with snooze buttons.

We pay no mind to Tuesday

except when we call it fat.

That day, once a year,

when we all mispronounce

a pastry, or misspell it.

Tuesday afternoon gets a nod

from The Moody Blues.

They had sympathy,

for a portion of the day at least.

Well, anyway, say hi to Tuesday

for me.

P.S. I’m so sorry I forgot your special relationship with Morrie Schwartz and Mitch Albom; They were Tuesday people after all.

Tether. My Mom on the Phone.

Out of the quarantine of mind, I thought of my mom on the phone. A throwback fifty years when telephones hung on walls or sat on tables next to thick directories Schwarzenegger couldn’t rip in two. Hers was centrally located in the hallway between her bedroom and the kitchenette. It hung patiently with rotary eyes circling portions of the alphabet. Off white, maybe because she reached for a smoke each time it rang, and a twenty foot cord slung between receiver and base. To call, she’d have to take several finger rides on the rotary ferris wheel to connect with a voice on the other end.

I swear we could jump rope while she chattered about with Maxine (Affectionately called Magazine by all her ten children.), When she bandied about in the kitchen blabbering on with Maryanne Himes we plucked the cord like a guitar string. I use to love to take the phone off the hook when the cord was pitifully tangled. I’d stretch it as high as I could reach and let the receiver spin like the bobbins on her sewing machine…Singer sewing machine. Green with fancied lettering on its body. Anyway, the phone.

I wonder what Alexander Graham Bell would think of what we’ve done to his marvelous invention? We cut the cords. We only have to reach in our pockets, or rifle through the cushions to call someone. Wait. Call? Honestly (Mom’s catch phrase.) Talking on our mobile phone is the function of last resort, no? [Odd thought: What if we gathered some old cell phones and made a mobile mobile to hang over the bassinet?]

Back to my dear mother. She could talk. She would listen. She had a strong neck, despite the pain in it I gave her sometimes. She could prop that yellowing dog bone of communication between her shoulder and chin for what seemed like hours. I’ll bet she could hold a shotput in there no handed.

In the mornings she’d find her coffee, Virginia Slims, the green bean bag ashtray, and stretch the dickens out of the cord to sit to table talk in the dining room. I remember the two clicks, always, of the lighter. I recall the uh hums and drags on the stick, hearing them before seeing them. I’d round the corner to find her in a worn out nightie and a thin line of smoke wafting above the cigarette pinched in the clasps of the tray.

In the evenings, same gig, except a drink in a tumbler or an Old Milwaukee with the tab pulled and dropped into the can. The surgeon general let her know about the tobacco hazards, but the beer company didn’t care about the choking hazards of a pull-tab. The conversations morphed a bit between sunrise sips and evening slurps. Reviewing the day’s activities after the fact was more colorful than the sizing up of the laundry list in the morning, which, by the way, always included laundry. Let me be clear…death and taxes, tis true. More true is death and taxes and laundry. Just ask anyone who has children splayed all over like grass seed.

After I moved out, for the second or third time, I’d dial 342-8127 to hear her voice dole out questions, advice, and little popcorn phrases like “oh, honestly” and “for heaven’s sake.” While I talked, occasionally I’d hear her blow smoke off to the side or ice cubes knocking together. My shoulders relax at the thought of it. Sometimes idiosyncrasies over time bring a sense of security.

My mother, God love her, kept the same number from the beginning of time until she hung up the phone for the last time in 2012. Sure, she traded in the cord for an antenna to untangle a bit, and then a simple cell. But that cord, like an umbilical, always stretched far enough to reach me and those she loved.

 

Deep Pocket

I dug into the bag

like digging for keys,

loose change, or

a crumpled receipt.

No carbs up a sleeve,

like townhouse crackers,

or black and white cookies.

The deep pocket,

the last of the mini

cinnamon doughnuts

made me work for them.

Comfort for a cost.

Powdered dust, evidence,

all over my jeans

revealed finger prints

for an open and shut case.

Maybe the judge will

let me off easy.

In these times I’d

fair better with a jury

of my peers…

They would offer me

a glass of milk.

An Open Letter to Sunday

Dear Sunday,

Good morning. I hope you are found by many as a resting place. In these days all strung together with no commas or periods may we all find you nestled between parentheses, protected from pandemics and quarantines. Even God took a breather from His creativity and sat with you for twenty four hours.

It is said separation makes the heart grow fonder. Well, I’ll try to separate you from all other days, to give space for reflection and gratitude for another week passed, and take heart for the God given days ahead.

I know you’ll tell me it’s not about you, but the You beyond you. I get it. But sometimes without any given Sunday, I would carry over the incompleteness of Saturday’s chores without a blink. Weeding. Vacuuming. You know, the circulars of human existence. Mow the lawn…again? I did that last week. Throw in another load of wash rags…redundant.

If I think of you as a metaphor as opposed to micro-phor, I might be able to gain perspective on the rhythms of space-time contingencies and such. Sure, many people pile in and pull out of their driveways and head to church because you showed up. Not these days.

If I had the memory capacity to remember each encounter with you from my birth through all these fifty-eight years, I might be able to quantify and qualify the overarching tapestry of you.

For now it seems like a gut feeling. Like the subtle emotion rising as the sun pastes the shadow of the blinds across the floor. Like Debussy hovering over my dad’s nap. There was a time when a poem was poured into a church service like fine wine, and I partook.

At any rate, you, Sunday, seem always to be in italics, like a speed bump mid-sentence. Highly underrated though. Monday mornings get a groan out of most of us. I thank God for Friday, but you oh, Sunday, you’re different. You draw my attention in your beauty, your invitation to transcend beyond and through to your Creator. At least that seems to be your calling.

By inference, you are a kind of light which illumines everything I see. Sun-day. You are a clarion call, as is the sun. A call to rise as you do in our inner selves, to not only underline you, but to see what underlies you. To drop everything and follow your lead to rest as commanded. To lift empty hands and open hearts to the God you represent so vividly.

This song by Phil Keaggy came to mind. If you have time, close your eyes and rest and listen.

The Maker of the Universe, Lyrics. By Phil Keaggy

Still my favorite Easter song.

Gerald the Writer

The maker of the universe,

as man for man was made a curse.

The claims of law which he had made,

unto the uttermost he had paid.

His holy fingers made the bow

that grew the thorns which crowned his brow.

The nails that pierced his hand were mined

in secret places he designed.

He made the forest whence it sprung

the tree on which his body hung.

He died upon a cross of wood

yet made the hill on which it stood.

The sky that darkened ore his head

by him above the earth was spread.

The sun that hid from him its face

be his decree was poised in space.

The spear which spilled his precious blood

was tempered in the fires of God.

The grave in which his form was laid

was human wrought his hands had made.

The throne on which he now appears

was his…

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