Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Instead of listening/watching the Republican convention, you should rent this movie:

It's effing hilarious. Really.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My neighbor told me over the weekend that their kitchen remodel will take about 4 months. That's fantastic. So above the noise of the chickens, the dog barking, will be banging and the buzzing and whining of power  tools.

I don't begrudge them a new kitchen. Their old one was long overdue for a make-over. However.

I'm either intolerant of noise because I'm getting old or I'm simply a curmudgeon and grumpy anyway. I long for a quieter environment.

On my favored Tiger Mountain trail, the first 200 feet or so, you can hear the steady rumble of traffic. Then you cross a clearing and enter the proper forest and the sounds disappear. I know when my hike is at an end because I hear the traffic again. There are researchers who look for places on earth without manmade noises. There aren't many any more. At least every 5 minutes you can hear a plane or chain saw or train most places on the planet. In Nepal and India the noise is unrelenting; constant blare of car horns and diesel engines. And when I say unrelenting, I mean constant.

Olympia is my imaginary destination. I imagine retiring. I imagine buying a house/cabin on 2 acres with  big trees and a wee bit of water (pond, stream, large puddle). There will be a clearing for vegetables with a deer fence around it. I'll swim in Evergreen College's huge pool as an alum. I'll dance with the local 5 rhythms community. I'll sit with the local Buddhists.

And it will be so quiet. I'll go out into my back yard and sit in the hammock and listen to the sparrows, jays and wrens. The dog will have learned by then not to bark at every damn thing. I'll finish my book and on alternate Wednesdays I'll meet with the local poets to read and hang out.

The End

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Tonight is the memorial for a babe. We're going to the lake and read and cry and release lanterns that float and dissolve in the air.

I volunteered to read what the parents wrote. I just practiced in my living room. The katz scored me (4.5) and the dog licked my hand. Then he jumped up and barked. I think her was alerting me to the aliens landing in the back yard. Now he's on the deck barking.  I feel safe with him around.

Babies don't all make it. In my work, the grief is sometimes unbearable. But bear it we must.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Brilliant bright sun today. Reading Stephen Batchelor's book, "Buddhism without Beliefs". Beyond how-to books about meditation, he deconstructs religion as a system of followers who subscribe to 'experts' who prescribe exercises; how to breathe, how to reorganize thoughts (on the way to extinguishing them), how to chant properly, etc. Including Buddhism. I've reached a crossroads in my practice and I'm seriously questioning the various ways I've practiced over these 16 years. Sitting practice is important for me. What is more compelling is the ways I move toward or more away from pleasant experiences and painful ones.

What is meditation? What is it for? These last few weeks have been intensely painful. Rather than shrinking from what hurts, I've moved toward the pain; to investigate it and examine it. Does it have inherent worth? What can I learn? And I've been approached by others for comfort, how do I respond?

Pain can help us open. Or it can shut us down. Acknowledging my broken heart in the face of loss and feeling the sadness and grief of us all seems to be my daily work. And noticing the systole and diastole of emotion, noticing the moments of insight as well as the utter cruelty inherent in our lives here brings me to a kind of peace. It is what it is. Equanimity or Upekka in the Pali language. Being able to be with ourselves in the face of our overwhelming sorrow. Or joy. Or love.

It's not about transcendence. It is about immersion without hooks. Like waves in the ocean.

Courage, dear pilgrims.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


showed up yesterday. Wondrous and wondrous. 'Do you want to be King of the First Brutal Memory?' Wonderful, terrifying poems in a lovely hand-bound book.

Rebecca binds the thrashing reader. And you keep reading, going back and forth. I read a page. Then I read it again. And it's all new. What I read yesterday is not what I read today. Trism is even better read aloud. Try it.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I'm dog tired, whatever the hell that means. All night birth and directly to our annual picnic, still in my blue scrubs. I've taken to wearing scrubs to births because I was always messing up my normal clothes. And I feel vaguely important. Like when I used to carry a pager before all the drug dealers had pagers. I though I looked important then too. However.

I'm not important, just tired.

The picnic was lovely, lots of wee babes and bigger babes and their parents and a marimba band and balloons and a crap cake from Costco and potluck food and parents who are grateful for us, for being there when their babies came out.

We admire the babes and dance to marimba music by the lake and enjoy the fruits of our/their labors.

In the meanwhile, I'll eat a bite of dinner and lie on the couch in the attitude of Camille with a hand to my face as I delicately cough into my lace hanky.

I once saw Charles Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatre Company do Camille, all male. Men with hairy chests in tulle and falsettos. It was there that I realized that my high school art teacher was GAY. I was so uninformed in high school. I just thought Mr Muck was artistic, which of course he was. And he saved my ass by allowing us misfits to hang in his classroom, away from the jocks and cheerleaders and popular kids. And we made art while he played Grace Slick on the turntable. I had a terrible crush on Allen Bush who was probably also gay. He was pretty and aloof and I adored him.

I'm hoping a nap revives me. As long as the dawg doesn't bark and give me a heart attack. At least the weather goddess has come to her senses and given us proper NW weather, not that lidless 96 degrees. Nothing hurts my heart as much as the polar bears going extinct. If polar bears are in trouble, we're truly fucked.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's quiet here. I have to write a poem about a baby that died. For them. For the baby. For myself. How do you do this? You 'work the earth of your heart', as Kathleen Norris has said.

And still the relentless heat cooks the garden. When I came home last night, I ran to the coop to shut the chickens in, to protect them from raccoons. And I let the dog out, our prancing white poodle pup who brings me all his toys and welcomes me by biting and holding my wrist in his grinning mouth. Dog joy is eternal. I fed the katz, their indignity as having to wait so late for their dinner evident in their yeowling and tail twitching. Then I dragged the hose to the vegetables in the light of the back porch light. New starts of beets and chard seem to be holding their own.

The garbage strike is over. The trucks clank and shudder in the alley by the back yard. For once we're caught up with recycling, no more overfull bins and bags. A new Dead Can Dance plays in the background, electronic with sitars and odd drumming.

I pull myself back to the memory house where my parents, my brother, my grandfather circle and spin. They waver in their ghostly limbs, weeds just under the surface of the lake, barely visible but touching the swimmer's legs.

I build my house on their bones, on memory. My father skating figure eights on Lake Erie far from us, my mother peeling apples for a pie, the long curlicues of apple skin piled on the table, my brother as a little boy, lying before the fireplace, watching the flames. Down the years, my grandfather's suicide sending the message to his descendants, 'here is a doorway, here is the rope, the gun, a way to stop the pain'.

I know I'm lucky. Resilient. I could have been an alcoholic, an addict. Instead I had children who taught me how to love, how to hold on when the darkness came. I thought I was doing it for them but they saved me. My cousin wasn't so lucky. Or Colin. Or Geoffrey.

The mountains save me. The garden saves me. My silly dog reminds me to bark and swim and chase squirrels. The cat waking me in the night so I'll call her to my bed. Midwifery saves me.

Why did I choose to be a midwife? There are hundreds of reasons. And today memories come unbidden; mothers and fathers cradling their beloved babes newly born. Babes they made and praised and waited for. And I witnessed their joy and triumph and tears. And I hold their suffering too, as big as a world. For suffering comes to us all. And it shakes us, it shakes us in our bones.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I was gonna take myself to the mountains, a new trail by Bellingham where there is a fire tower and you can see for days. But. Someone is in labor and I'm going as the second midwife. So. I get to stay around here with de dawg until I get a call.

Felix got a hair cut on Sunday so for a few minutes he looked like a proper poodle. But then Deb took him for a swim so he's back to his usual shaggy self, just shorter hair. During Seafair, the water was so riled up, his hair was green when he came out of the water. Now it's crystal clear again, even for the weeds. Maybe I could sneak off to the lake for a quick dip before I'm needed at the birth. Maybe not.

The chickens are making their noises outside. It's going to be another hot day. The tomatoes are ripening and I just planted more beets and chard. The lettuce is bolted so the chickens get that. I water and water and my water bill is going to be huge. Sigh. We aren't having any rain, not a drop. Unusual for us here in the rainforest. I can't complain compared to the Midwest. Deb is going to Vegas for her brother's birthday and it's 100 there. Ug.

Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand? Hmmm. I feel for Paul's wife. Their kids are 7, 8 and 9. Way to crank them out and how exhausting for the momma. Maybe they have servants who care for the children and they come into the dining room at night so Paul and his wife can ask after their health before they go back to the children's wing for the night. All she had to do was birth 'em. And no more children? Are they using BIRTH CONTROL? I certainly hope so.

I'd much rather speculate about Gore Vidal, that fabulous man. Why couldn't we have someone like him for prez? Rest in peace, dear Gore.

By the way. Chickens can be really loud.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Because I am UNPATRIOTIC, I didn't watch a lick of the Olympics except while waiting for the guys at Firestone to fix my broken tail light, I got up to speed (haha) by watching the double amputee guy on his bouncy legs. I love him. And his bouncy legs.

And BTW. While driving on I-5, which is a big 4 lane, some lady asked me to pull over (wha????) while we sat in terrible slow traffic. I politely declined but she caught up to me again and yelled through the passenger side window that my tail light was out AND her daughter was delivered by Ina May.

Let me explain. My bumper sticker says 'What Would Ina May Do?' Ina May is a big famous midwife who lives on The Farm in Tennessee. She's an author and a world traveler. There is an obstetric procedure named after her, the Gaskin Maneuver. Anyway, sheesh lady. No, I can't pull over on the freeway. And I'm glad your daughter was delivered by Ina May.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I know, I know, you can't really see her. But I went to a Melissa Etheridge concert tonight and I danced in my bare feet by the stage and I didn't care that I might have looked a fool. Actually, I think everybody WANTS to dance but they're too worried that they'll look silly. So they kind of sway and wiggle their bottoms a little while Melissa is hollering and stomping and the guitars are screaming-I mean we're supposed to go crazy.

And it was outside at the zoo so we benefitted animals. Although I have a conflicted relationship with zoos, all the sad critters. We passed the flamingo enclosure tonight. They're pink because they eat pink shrimp. What if we could eat beets and become maroon? Or carrot orange?

So I danced and danced and now I have grass colored feet.

Friday, August 10, 2012

This child is AMAZING and so is the movie:

In 5 rhythms dance, chaos is everything but at the bottom is grief. So last night I danced the grief dance, all the way to the bottom. It felt like my whole body was crying.

This morning is therapy, oh boy. My therapist in in Pioneer Square, land of tourists wandering around with cameras and triple shot mochas with whipped cream. They ride The Duck, which is an amphibious car/boat thing with a guy hollering in the front. They get pulled around in horse-drawn carriages. They stand in clumps waiting for the Underground Tour of Seattle to start. 

I've never ridden The Duck, or a horse-drawn carriage or gone on the Tour. Nor will I. I would like to ride on the new ginormous ferris wheel by the waterfront but I hear the lines are huge and it costs, like a million dollars.

Also Pioneer Square has homeless people. My homeless man is usually there on a bench by Chief Sealth. He's polite with his cap out. I give him a dollor and sometimes five dollars. I look forward to seeing him because I know he's still ok, wherever he sleeps. He always asks how I am and he always blesses me. This morning I need his blessing. 

And the sun shines on all us sinners.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

To those who read here, there are tragedies we can't speak of. Right now, I vacillate between weeping and being numb and sleeping. A hornet stung me yesterday and I thought, aha, a sharp pain on my hand. I can attend to this because I can't fix the bigger problem. I can never fix the bigger problem.

Sometimes our hearts are broken so wide open, they can't be enclosed again, closed again. Some loss can't be borne.

And yet, the dog needs his walk and the chickens need to be let out of their coop. Eggs collected. Cats fed.

Remember to eat. Go to work. Listen carefully to the mothers. Attend.

When you can, visit the mountains and breathe in the trees.

My sorrow is vast. And deep.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

The Waltons, of Wal-Mart fame have the collective wealth equal to the bottom 30% of us. And they spend their time (and obscene wealth) on figuring out ways to avoid paying taxes.

What the hell do wealthy folks need with so much wealth that they'll never use in their lifetimes or the lifetimes of their offspring? We're living in an oligarchy now where my neighbor's children eat from my garbage cans (I took them some fruit and rice under cover of darkness) and I care for plenty of young pregnant women who have no health insurance except what the State (fortunately) provides. Thank you, Washington State.

I care for women who live in grand houses and I care for women who live in one room apartments downtown. Women with nannies and women with food stamps.

It's going to be insanely hot today. I'm heading south to a beach park where Felix can get in the water. My neighborhood is going to be packed today with inebriated sunburned revelers and I'd just as soon be gone.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Mary, this one's for you.

Lucy and Fiona:

And I found two sweet brown eggs in their box. Although they sit on each other in there. I'm not such what chickens think, or if they think. We might get four more pullets and we have to figure out how to 'introduce' them. Name tags? A motivational speaker?

I know there will be chicken wars but eventually Lucy will be crowned Queen Chicken and all will be well.


Been listening to the Blue Angels this afternoon thundering over our roof. The katz have disappeared and Felix looks at the sky and barks. BARK BARK BARK!!!

Time for a dog walk and a dip in the lake. I'm not drinking alcohol now (sob!) because my naturopath told me not to. I don't drink much but on a day like this, a bloody mary or a margarita would sure taste good. And restorative. Maybe I'll take myself out to the local veggie restaurant and pretend my virgin Mary has alcohol in it. That's so sad.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

I will admit to a wee bit of anxiety and depression. While looking at my garden this morning and wondering how to pay my taxes and continue to be a business person (not) with the whole effing burden of my clinic on my shoulders, I succumbed to depression or rather I became aware of my ongoing low level anxiety.

I dreamt the other night that a check fo $33,000 had just come in and, boy howdy, was I elated. I like being a midwife. I don't care for the worry about the business end. Everyone must be paid, supplies ordered, taxes and rent and oh yeah, I have to pay myself.

I look at my great big house and I want a cabin in Olympia that costs about $50 a month.

Whine whine whine.

I practice generosity daily or I try to.

Ok, enough of this. The sun is out and the filthy dog needs his swim.

At least the two remaining chickens are happy. And they give us eggs every day. Thanks, girls.