You may have noticed that I haven't posted for a while. Maybe you think that I've been off traveling the world, or perhaps writing that middle grade novel, YA memoir, stack of picture books that have been sitting in my journal on my ever-lit-back-burner-eternal-flame of creative wonders-waiting-to-be-manifested. I wish I could say that was so. It's summer. Time of long languid days, frivolity, friends, outdoor grilling, right? What did you do with your summer vacation? Remember that first essay you had to write when you came back to school? This year my essay would have probably sent me to the school psychologist. No one would believe that it happened. I must have made it up.
Not wanting to bore you with the details, I will condense it for you as best I can:
Since I last posted:
I had the flu. I had lovely company from Austin, Texas visiting about a week after the flu started. I lost my voice. My brother moved in with us in the city. My brother was supposed to find a place to live. He wound up in our home for a month. He didn't like the bed. (My father took my good bed to his new apartment a half mile away when he moved out in June.) I had to buy a new bed and put it together with Ikea instructions and the flu. I had to buy bedding for the bed. My father's mania escalated. He called me every day, sometimes up to six times per day. I started letting it all go to voice mail and tried calling back every other day, but wound up having to just walk over to his place as he continued covering every square inch of wall space with photos, captions written on tape, drawings on t-shirts... and he started planning an exhibit in a store on his block. My father also decided to attend a Presbyterian church, to produce two films: one written by a Mexican waiter in his retirement community, the other by another resident- which needs to be filmed in Israel in the year 1AD, and he- my father- thinks he will get an arts channel show on himself, a lifetime achievement Oscar®; he wants to sue a number of people, and he wants a kitten, a woman, and... he wants to buy my house, which is not for sale, by the way. Plus he will get me on his arts show, and he has told me that I will be a producer of all sorts of things.
That's just about my immediate family.
Then there has been my husband's health. We are now on a new diet adventure and trying to cut out high cholesterol food, so I have been trying to figure out how to bake gluten-free and fat-free... and at the same time my brother-in-law, a sweet, smart, respected judge, was viciously attacked at his home by a stranger wielding a glass container of sulphuric acid, (there is just too much of a horror story to go into here) and my dear mother-in-law lost her "boyfriend"Dale, a sweetheart of a man, to cancer...
Yes. All this since the last post.
Needless to say I've been wrung out and torn to shreds. I can't seem to figure out where I left my life, or who ran off with it. Thankfully there is our cottage on Lummi Island, where for the past month each weekend I've been doing almost nothing but processing all the fruit and vegetables we grew. Canning, dehydrating and decanting things like a homesteader on steroids. Use it or lose it. But after this weekend when I pickled and canned beets, made fig jam, blackberry-Gravenstein apple fruit leather, froze blackberries, picked sugar snap peas and plums, and made a plum tart- I snapped. The weather had been picture perfect, just like that photo of my neighbor Michael's sailboat: clear, calm, sunny, warm and crisp. On Sunday night I told my husband that we weren't leaving. One more day... I just needed one more day to try to "not do anything."
So I did. But I didn't do nothing. I went for a long walk on the beach. I looked at Michael's sailboat. I marveled at a single piece of eel grass glistening and glowing in the morning light, slithering across wet stones. I hunted for agates and found one that looked like a belly button... and I found this:
A tiny snail, impossibly orange-red, somehow surviving in a tidal zone where large rocks routinely roll and tumble and crash into each other. And then, just before I saw one of my island friends- who is a much better photographer than me- I saw that the beach had sent me a message:
Kisses and hugs. Hugs from friend, Cheryl. A tail wag from dog, Max. A short, but reassuring conversation. Some grounding. The sense that there is balance out there and it can be restored.
Back at the house, I looked at my truck. It's twenty-two years old now. It lives on the island and it's growing moss and lichen, but it still runs. Some day, I'd like that to be me. Grounded on the island. Sitting still in one place long enough to grow moss, but to still run...
For now, I'll take a day like this when I can get it and then I'll run back to the city. Back to my crazy life. I hope that there will be time for more posts more often. I hope that my father will find his own grounding and not keep sucking the energy out of me like a hypomanic vampire.
Maybe then I'll be able to get back to my real bliss.
They're waiting for me.
And thank you for waiting for me, too.