Friday, May 27, 2011

If You Close Your Eyes...You Can Feel Them

We have always taken pictures in graveyards.  Always.

My husband has always found it strange...morbid.

For as long as I could remember, each Memorial Day was marked by another photo at the head of the grave--next to the stone, so the names and dates might show--giving the dead their place in the family photo.  Not everyone was in the photo, mind you, just those who chose to take the time, to make the journey.

My mother's side of the family had two graveyards to tend, and the journey took the better part of the day.  First driving one direction (for over an hour) then stopping, tending to the stone, arranging the flowers, scattering the rosemary (for remembrance, if you believed Shakespeare, and I did), then facing the camera for the flicker of a moment that it took to memorialize your duty.

Perhaps we would stop for something to eat at Judy Ann's Diner, then we would face the other direction, drive several more hours through twisty, turny back roads, venturing down unmarked gravel roads lined with evening primrose, past the the point where someone asked, "Are you sure this is the right road?  Maybe we should turn around" at least three times, before finding ourselves at a tiny, well-kept graveyard, surrounded by overgrown wildness.  A family graveyard so pristine, with its stones worn smooth, that it did not matter that the names were lost to time...they were family, perhaps a hundred or so faces that I never saw, but part of their blood runs through mine still, so I run my fingers over the vague indentions in the stone, wishing I had thought to bring some paper and some charcoal, and I try to spend enough time with them that I don't feel foolish for the five hour round trip drive that this graveyard's visit cost me.

After all, I remind myself, it is just time...and they have all the time in the world.  What was it that T. S. Eliot said?    ...time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions...

Finally, I raise to my feet for the obligatory photo.

This year, I think it is time to pass this on to the young ones.  I will scrawl a hand drawn map, as my great-grandmother did for me.  I will tell the same stories she told, pointing out the same markers as we drive, and I will feel her there with us as I do.  Her words as familiar to me as my own, as if her stories were mine.  And, in truth, they are.

So as we gather the things to for the journey, there shall be rosemary cut fresh from the plant, and a basket to gather the evening primrose, and there will be my camera.

This year, another generation takes their place in the photo.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Things that Got Me Through this Week

I did not get to bed until after 2:00 a.m.  Don't worry, I had a good excuse...the copy of The Bucolic Plague that I had reserved at the library was finally available.  I was beyond excited!

Just to be perfectly clear...this week has been draining, frustrating, and otherwise maddening!  The only thing that has gotten me through it has been obscene amounts of Triple Dazzle Caramel pieces and model walking (both watching and doing).  If are really fortunate (or if your week was really bad), you might even watch Josh model walking while you are eating the chocolate.  Just a suggestion.

So after I got off work last night, I went and picked up three kids, got groceries, put groceries away, made pasta salad, got children cleaned up, put away folded laundry out of some creepy sense of wifely guilt, then curled up on the sofa and read the book from cover to cover in about four hours.  I had not necessarily intended to read it all in one sitting, but I could not bear to leave Brent and Josh, a/k/a The Fabulous Beekman Boys, in a "bad place" so I had to keep reading and see it through to the conclusion.  (Apparently I am convinced that when I cease reading the characters are stuck in some sort of limbo until I return.)

Notes to self: (1) actually BUY a copy of The Bucolic Plague (hey, I gotta do my part to get Josh at the farm full-time!), and (2) track down a copy of I Am Not Myself These Days (since apparently libraries in middle America do not realize that people DO want to read about former drag queens).  Let's clear this up now, shall we?  We DO!

So, tomorrow is Day One of my testing.  I am having two days (Friday and Saturday) of allergy testing, during which time they will test 100 allergens (or as I like to refer to it "The Day of 100 Pricks").  I alternate between being excited (to find out what might be triggering the Eosinophilic Esophagitis and where I go from here) and panicking (because I love to cook and eat, and because this just sucks in general).  In preparation, I have spent the past couple of weeks eating everything they are testing for, just in case I don't get to eat it again...ever.  Although, I do still need to make a Stonefruit (peach/cherry) Patchwork Pie, and I should probably eat another hot fudge sundae...and I may need to dig out a pair of "roomier" jeans.

Before I forget, for those of you who have no idea who Josh and Brent are, please, please do yourself a favor and head over to Beekman 1802 and check out their soap, cheese, bath salts, seeds, recipes, and other things that make life Fabulous.  You can thank me later.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Love: I Know it When I See It (Do You?)

My mind has been preoccupied lately with the concept of "What is true love?"

I know that love is nothing like the movies and it is not all hearts and flowers.  People are not perfect; therefore, love is not grows and evolves and can come in unexpected ways.

For me, it seems like describing "love" is a lot like how I have heard "irony" described, I know it when I see it.  There has to be respect and honestly, and the ability to put another's needs above your own...but not to wallow in martyrdom.  A couple has to support one another...but not be co-dependent.  There is a delicate balance, a gentle shift and sway.

This has led me to ponder which couples seem to have "it," that intangible thing that seems to make the relationship work.  My votes for this week are:

  1. Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Dr. Brent Ridge - Yes.  We all adore Josh and Brent (and apparently we also consider ourselves to be on a first name basis with them!).  I love their banter.  I love they way the know each other and accept one another's imperfections.  You gave me the perfect "teachable moment" to explain to my eight year old (now nine year old, Happy Birthday sweetie!) daughter about how love find us in many ways, and that more love in the world is always a good thing.  Polka Spot is just a bonus!
  2. Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer - (Yes, we also consider ourselves to be on a first name basis with Neil and Amanda, but none more than my oldest daughter, who wrote to Neil and sent him a copy of the book she wrote.  He graciously responded to her with a handwritten note!  He now has a life-long fan in all of us!)  Ahem, but I digress...  Yes, they are the perfect power couple...strong, opinionated, self-assured, and eager to promote good Art--whether made by them or other talented people.  When one of this couple is involved in something, the other proudly shares in it and bolsters the other's projects and efforts.  It is a true partnership. 
  3. Pickle and Honey Puff - Any couple who are still calling one another by their pet names after that many years deserves an honorable mention.  And, no, "dumb ass" does not count as a pet name!  You rock, Pickle!  You, too, Honey Puff! 
And, yes, I am fully aware that two of the couples on my list cannot legally get married where I live; I find this fact a sad commentary on society.

I can't define love.  I only know certain characteristics of it...but I know it when I see it, and I see it in all of the relationships I mentioned above.  How sad that so many people are so busy trying to define it, legislate it, regulate it, and restrict it that they no longer SEE it when it stares them in the face.