Thursday, June 18, 2020

Bring Forth Happiness

Lisianthus with white peonies.

You know your friends know you, know you well, and care very much, when they bring you groceries, and think to add cheese, and extra tortillas, and when they include fresh cut flowers, particularly the ones you would have hoped to bring home yourself. Janece and Paul are such friends. I am reluctant to say anything about this, because I feel spoiled, indulged. They pick up our food, and deliver it to our home. If the circumstances were turned, I know I would do the same, and gladly. They know that we have health conditions in our family that make us high risk, vulnerable. I am so much more than thankful for their help. I am humbled, and I am something that I cannot find the word for... awe, gratitude, perspective, aware, moved by: I feel this sense of awe and gratitude and point of view about how generous, supportive, and good our community is, how each of us can give and receive and be stronger, better for it. What we give cannot always match what we receive, and I've come to believe that when it comes to sharing it's a waste to look for equity, to keep tabs. What I appreciate, and want to build on is, each of us doing what we can, to contribute to the betterment of each other, our neighborhood, the community, our town, the state, the nation, our planet. Let our best actions be like a ripple that moves outward and grows, so that everyone rises, everyone gives, and receives.

It's not only our concern about getting sick, but a question of being able to recover. Sometimes I forget, or I feel apologetic and want to downplay it, but objectively, rationally, our family should not take chances. There is a lot we do already to take precautions, to protect ourselves, and these habits are our personal responsibilities, that we manage. Now, in this pandemic, we are more guarded, and we are surprised, yes, but also disappointed, at how many people are flouting the courtesy and personal responsibility of wearing face masks. It's not alarmist, I am not hiding in a bunker, but the pandemic hasn't been called off. The virus is still taking lives, the risks are real, and numbers are rising. Whether we test, or not, COVID 19 is a healthcare crisis that could be better managed, and that is everyone's responsibility to slow down. Even now, I feel apologetic. Like I parked my feet on a soapbox, and am lecturing. But then I pop over to FB and see these debates... people calling the pandemic "fake!" And other conspiracy garbage, and I can't believe that it's come to this. So, be sure, this is true... Climate change is real. Black lives matter. Love is love. Keep families together. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind. And wear a mask when you go out, because it's an easy thing to do that could save a life.

We love that both of the kittens expose their bellies. Not only that, but they do not retaliate when you give them scritches! Here we have Feynman, taking his nap, in one of his chairs, and he's so content, so certain of his place in the universe, he lays on his back, carefree, and at peace. Seeing him this way always makes me wish this same confidence and sense of worth for everyone. Freedom from fear. Beloved.

Harvests! The gardening we began in March is yielding fruit! Grow potatoes. I tell you, they are so easy, it's ridiculous. These are from our Perseverance bed, that we planted with sprouted potatoes we found in a drawer. There are probably correct times of year to plant, to harvest, and other details that would make us better potato farmers, but our success with growing these should be encouragement for anyone: It is not hard to get delicious spuds, from old duds.

I hadn't counted in a while, but the chiclets came home March 20th, so that means they are three months old. I think I have already stated, but I am darn sure they are, after all, pullets. No roosters. Yeah, I still have just a hint of reservation in my voice. I still cross my fingers. Without any hesitation I will say, they are sweet Chiclets, sociable, and pretty.

Another thing we did last March was rake the rain softened ground and sprinkle some bags of wildflower seeds. In retrospect, I realize they could have done better in a spot with irrigation, and amended soil. That they are "native" flower seeds may be the only chance they had of ever popping out of the ground at all. It's only hard and dry in this end of the yard. And yet! Some success, little beauties. Really, little. I adore them. I see lupine leaves, and the sunflowers are obvious. Marigolds, yes. The frilly magenta ones, though, and those blue clusters, the pale-pale pinks... those are new to me. Do you know any of these? We got borage, too. I am glad we have tomatoes, and I will devour the potatoes, but it's the flowers. The flowers will always get me. I am ordering mulch. And I am going to find more native wildflower seeds, fairy garden seeds, butterfly garden seeds, and next year, I hope we will see something like a meadow, a billowing lea of little blossoms. Next year, there is something pretty.

Did I say? Something about mimosa? I love that there are still surprises in the world, in my own backyard. This tree is so drab, so nondescript, until June, and then it bursts with these pink feather flowers. Poofs of pink. And one time, I learned it's a mimosa tree, and promptly forgot that it's a mimosa tree. And then I was reminded... reminded in the sort of way that will stay with me, and make me smile. I follow High Hog Farm on Instagram... they do so much! On their Instagram, I saw a familiar flower on a post about making "mimosa tincture." At first I confused "tincture" with what I am doing with the calendula flowers. I have calendula flowers in olive oil, for an infusion. The tincture she's making is with the fresh flowers of the mimosa tree and vodka. Should I? Even before this lesson from High Hog Farm, I was reading about vodka tinctures and I bought a bottle of the alcohol. I don't even know why. Except, I guess sometimes I manage to devise my own surprises. I'm not much of a drinker, but evidently I am destined to make a tincture, and it might be a mimosa tincture... Keisha says "... it's supposed to help bring forth happiness."

I like that.... to help bring forth happiness. Cairo takes his naps, and his rattys, to bring forth his happiness. Flowers, taking pictures, reading maps, sharing, those bring forth my happiness. Yesterday, Maria and I poured over a book with thousands of beautiful images, pages and pages, and then we fell asleep, Cairo at our feet, and a cool breeze floating in, and that was a healing, soothing joy. Sometimes I am reluctant to say anything about happiness, and joy, because I feel spoiled, indulged, because I have been called naive, sensitive, a buttercup. I am sensitive and optimistic, idealistic, I do love pretty, and gentle, and even wildly imaginative.

Hello, I am a Buttercup. I want everyone to enjoy comfort and happiness, to have opportunity, justice. Good things are better shared. I am tired of suppressing my nature, my wild imaginings, my hope for my neighbors, our community, your family, our world.

I want to live in a world where we don't need to explain why Black Lives Matter, and it's not necessary to fight for civil rights, insist on access to healthcare, quality, affordable education. I want to live in a world where safety nets are dependable and accessible for anyone, for everyone, where basic, essential rights and freedoms are embraced, protected, maintained, taught, instilled. Imagine all of the growth and creativity, the well being, and learning we will achieve, when we enjoy true freedom, and liberty for all. Imagine if we all give what we can to help bring forth happiness.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020


Four years ago, we celebrated the high school graduates, Max, and classmate, Bella. I know I felt a whole spectrum of emotions, including pride, and joy. I also felt a pang, a twinge, because the four years of high school went by quickly. Very quickly. It wasn't easy, it wasn't simple, yet the foremost reaction I felt, was that was fast, and the next four years could be even faster. It was harder, it was vastly more complicated, but these four college years did pass swiftly, and now we are celebrating, again, because Max is within two classes of completing his bachelor of science degree, as an applied mathematics major. He was approved to participate in commencement for Warren College, class of 2020. (I hope this link will stay active forever.)

Last month, I cried watching the clip of Bella, her dad recording and walking beside her, in the rain, as they crossed the field, alone, at Cal State Humboldt. Michael hummed Pomp and Circumstance. Bella's commencement was about as remote as they come. I felt pride and joy for Bella, and I felt a pang, this time for how bittersweet our celebrations are, when we cannot come together as we have before. Everything is happening swiftly, and we scramble to devise new ways of doing everything, making the best of it, appreciating all the goodness, though we are confronted with real disappointments, losses. I took the time to consider how to celebrate Max's commencement, Alex's birthday, and all of the traditions, and events on the horizon. I was reminded to celebrate, to make something of the occasions before us. Life is not predictable, and opportunities come and go, are earned, and can be taken away... don't waste the chance to enjoy special moments, to make moments special, I remind myself.

This was the last day on campus, as a sophomore, and Maria's first time back on campus since March. Nothing like last year, when we lingered around school, watched seniors in caps and gowns, hugged friends, visited classrooms for last peeks, and even though she was eager for summer, she was also anticipating the next year, returning. Maria has described the difficulty of remote learning, how seeing familiar faces on a screen, doesn't feel like connection. It feels like a reminder of all that is missing, everything that is wrong. Distance learning, online classes, highlights the disconnect. We drove to school to return books, a drive-through transaction. "I feel ok at home. I'm not bored or lonely. I don't think about what I am missing, but when we drive around, and see familiar places, and I know we can't stop, can't get out, then I miss everything, the way it was."

Max's cap and tassel came a few weeks later than they said they would. I am pretty sure it didn't make a difference to Max, but I was getting anxious about the robe we ordered. Like ordering official announcements, the robe was an extra effort to try and create a traditional commencement experience. Some day, this will all feel minor, and it is minor compared with bigger issues, but maybe the bigger issues that affect us, that make us sad, distress us... maybe those are why we need celebrations, caps and tassels, birthday cakes, pride, and pomp, and circumstance.

Happy Birthday, Alex! He found a way to be with friends, and share his birthday. And his experiment with bringing the television outside, assured us that sharing commencement would be feasible, too.

Geoff welded a frame to hold a school banner. (For the record, I also ordered chocolate bars wrapped in prints with the school insignia, and a school pennant that looked much bigger on the website.)

Ruth arrived in time for the virtual commencement, which we screened beneath a canopy, out in our driveway. She also baked pies, and brought a quiche from Holly. We shared in all of it... the speeches, the music and ceremony, the awkwardness of withholding hugs, but feeling connected.

Aunt Holly and Uncle Rich's card put it well, it was Kind of a big dill.

Max had been up, the night before to complete a final project, due at 2 am. He turned it in at 1:20 am, then the ceremony began at 8:30 am.

The speeches, the ceremony... they were genuinely good, poignant, timely, thoughtful. I want to watch them over again, see his picture, his name, and be stirred by the power of the messages shared. It will take more tissue, that's for sure.

An hour later, a conversation started about what's next, about Max's final project, and making.

Seven hours after commencement, his robe arrived.

And just after sunset we lit fires in the driveway, and some of Max's friends came to sit together, a safe distance apart, and we wasted no time enjoying this special moment.

The last four years have not been easy, nor simple, but they certainly went fast.

"So-called mild autism doesn't mean one experiences autism mildly; it means you experience their autism mildly. You may not know how hard they've had to work to get to the level they are." Adam Walton.