chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Monthly Archives: May 2013

attention…

May 30

jik to DAK at 86May 30. My mother’s birthday.

In our family tradition of handmade cards, this was the ‘card’ I gave her when she turned 86, in 1997. Over some weeks, I had sewed and stuffed the numbers and covered every inch of the surface with fabric paint, concerned that it would be fully dry by her birthday.

Dorothy had already slid quite a way down the slippery slope of dementia, no longer able to cook or drive, requiring my father’s help with shopping and cleaning and the many small decisions that form the underpinning of each ordinary day. But she was still able to express herself, recognized most people and took pleasure in choosing her clothes and working in her art studio. Her ability to gauge time and sequence was damaged, but her birthdays were always an occasion much anticipated and enjoyed.

98And we did celebrate that birthday, somehow. There was probably a restaurant dinner and cake and candles. My father would undoubtedly have given her a small wood carving, sanded smooth, initialed and dated. I don’t remember the particulars except for joking that we would keep the big 86 and turn it upside down and use it again when she turned 98.

But she didn’t make it to 98 and neither did my father. In fact, that would be the last of our birthdays we celebrated as a family. That May, just before my mother’s birthday, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer; he would be gone before his own birthday in December.

Although, in those early days, there was no reason to be without hope — certainly my father’s choices erred on the side of hope — if my mother understood, she was in denial, and I was plunged into a terrible and surprising grief.

But we did what our small family had to do. We pulled together, faced each day with a measure of good cheer, managed the sad business of my father’s illness and worked together to assure my mother’s care in the years ahead.

The progression of her decline seemed to protect Dorothy from a sense of loss — a small gift to us both.

We celebrated her birthday together five more times, each one marked with a special meal and, of course, a handmade card.
. . . . .
jik to DAK, 1997, 12″w x 13″h

how to rally…

IN THE TURBULENT…

the fuzzy…

THE GRUBBY…

a daughter…

I was…

THE SPACES…

overwhELMed…

elm seedsHow eager the Ulmus, spring limbs laden with pendant promise, profligate in its disc-winged seeds.
Yet how tough, unwelcomed, these papery lozenges, these flighted samara, in even this moist and fecund earth. For surely if they succeeded in proportion, then instead of Doug fir and maple, cedar and alder, we would be enveloped by elms.

the husks…

akin…

imposing…

this decadent dawn…

smoker…

cigarette drawing by DorothyThis week, in Albuquerque, we went to a casino. In addition to an assault of noise and lights, we were engulfed in cigarette smoke. In the U.S., it’s easy to forget that this used to be the norm: people smoking in offices and movie theaters, in restaurants and on airplanes.

My parents were both smokers. My dad quit in his 50s after he tore something coughing — but not on the first try. It took my mother saying that she bet he couldn’t quit to get him to stop for good. My mother smoked right through her pregnancy, but she quit when I was born. She said she didn’t want to pollute that sweet-baby smell with smoke. I know it couldn’t have been easy and I count it as a gift.

But it didn’t stop me from smoking, starting at about 11 or 12 with stale cigarettes cadged from the crystal box that my parents would put out for guests and continuing until I was 25. Every time I lit up someone was sure to say, “I didn’t know you smoked.”

One day I caught sight of myself in the mirror, cigarette in hand, and was shocked at how wrong it looked. So I quit. Finished. Done. But even now, after all this time, and not ever being a heavy smoker, I sometimes wake up in the morning and realize I was contentedly smoking in my dream.

The casino visit feels like an inoculation — a booster shot — against the dark temptations of such dreams.
. . . . .
drawing by Dorothy, circa 1941

watching New Mexico…

Red Rock Park - near Gallupthe busy sky…
virga — the veils of rain that don’t reach the ground…
shadows draped across sculpted mesas…
the many colors of sand…
prairie dogs…roadrunner…woodpecker…
a shaggy donkey…a pink-nosed week-old calf…
the fragrance of ponderosa…
. . . . .
photo of Red Rock Park

Happy Mother’s Day

the sacred slow waters…

rock the pastoral…

feathered…

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