Animal Friends – Welcome Visitors

About 3 years ago, we gave up apartment life and rented a house in a woodsy, out-of-the-way little neighborhood called JoAnn Manor. It’s a quiet neighborhood built sometime in the late 1950’s. Most of our neighbors have been here since the 70’s, take care of their homes and plant gorgeous gardens. Nearly everyone has a dog. There are retirees and new families, and people like us who just love the idea of not being boxed in. We actually found this house with the help of my mother’s lifelong friend, Shirley, who lives around the block and is without a doubt my fairy godmother.

Now the end of the longest road, Big Hollow, ends in a large pond. This pond is home to turtles, water birds and every other creepy pond critter. As a result we are visited frequently by furry, feathery, feisty denizens that share our yard space. I thought I would introduce you to our extended wildlife family:

The rabbits:  There is an entrance to an established warren right at the foot of our giant fir tree (also known as the bird condo).  Hazel is the oldest – he is very large and grey and has been here since at least the first year we moved in.  He is obviously named after The Watership Down Hazel and seems to be the grand-daddy rabbit in the family.

Hazel and Morrissey

Heike is a younger female. She has a very distinct golden patch on the back of her neck. She is fearless and comes out during the day to feed on fruit and seeds from the birdfeeder. She has come within 2 feet of me while I was gardening and watched me for quite a while. Heike means “ruler of an estate”. And she certainly is in charge.

Morrissey is Heike’s brother.  He has a darker, bluish coat – very goth for a rabbit.  Thus Morrissey suits him.  He is not a fearless as she is, but he will follow her lead.

Morrissey

Tiny is well…tiny. I am not sure if he is Heike’s child or little brother.  He certainly has her fearlessness.

Heike & Tiny
Heike & Tiny

The crunchy heads:  We have 2 grey squirrels and a chipmunk that are here the most. The obese older squirrel is Chunk. He lives in the oak tree next to the driveway and prefers filberts. He is old and has some scarring across his back.  He is a ballsy old man squirrel.  I have caught him swinging upside down from the birdfeeder with his old grey head jammed inside gulping the seeds. The first time, I came out and yelled at him to get down.  He just looked at me and then went on gulping. I had to put a Slinky around the birdfeeder pole to keep him from eating all the seed in one day.

His little skinny brother is Slink.  Slink is lightning fast and prefers to swipe food then run away to eat.

Crunchy Head, the chipmunk travels via concrete gap near the garage door.  He will indulge in the fallen bird seed even though the birds all scold him. He is called Crunchy Head because my old dog, Doc, would try to go after him.  We also joked that when Doc was sleeping, he was dreaming of eating Crunchy Head.

Crunchy Head
Crunchy Head & Heike

Crunchy Head almost lost his life once to Natty, the Hawk.  Natty (and Natty’s lady friend) have been here more than once.  I call him Natty after Natty Bumppo (Hawkeye). He had a bit if a wrestling match with Crunchy Head in the back yard, but did not succeed in making him an entree.

Natty

The birds: The fir tree bid condo is home to many varieties of feathered neighbors.  There are the Mertzes – Fred and Ethel – the cardinal couple (who did have babies this past summer).

The yellow finches, Sonny & Cher. (We also have black and white finches).

Yellow Finches

The red house finch, Morty.

redhousefinch1

Wilson, the white woodpecker.

White Woodpecker

Harry & June, the doves.(Too flighty to stay for a picture.  They are shy.)

This is a mama turkey hen. She built her nest close-by somewhere and patrolled our back yard for a bit.  Daz went to take a nap on a warm early summer day.  He was sleeping in the chaise lounge and woke up to find her directly in his face.  He claimed she was eyeing him like a piece of corn!

turkey hen

I am so happy to share my space with these wild ones. We don’t interfere with them other than putting our birdfeed or fresh basil sometimes for the rabbits. We do not hunt ot try to frighten them. They often share their seeds and fruit peacefully and I love watching them.  It gives me a sense of family.  I can’t wait to see what next Spring brings – new birds, new bunnies, new friends.

 

 

 

 

Poetry: And the Banshee Raises Her Wail

This weekend found me full of the Halloween spirit! Decoration are up and Connor’s costume is almost done. He is going as Link from Legend of Zelda.
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I wrote this poem about 3 years ago. And yes, it is about a monster of sorts. The Bean Sidhe (or Banshee) is the messenger in Celtic legend. She is the harbinger of death or transformation, connected always to the Tuatha De’Danaan (Tribe of the Goddess Danu) and especially to the Sidhe (Fairies).
The Bean Sidhe is a monster very dear to my heart.  She is the unbridled spirit living in every woman –  the part that refuses to buckle and surrender to arbitrary rules made by others. She is that voice inside that tells us to leave a bad situation. She can only be true to her nature and call out for what is required. Transition or death.  For most of us it is transition – standing up for yourself, speaking up and speaking out, voting, protesting, making your presence known.
And when we embrace her and let her out, she is fierce. Her wail, her warning, used properly can blow open doors, frighten the people around us who may have never heard us actually speak for ourselves.  It is the voice of preservation, the clarion call that things must change – if only for you. Authentic nature will not be silenced.
Please enjoy!
banshee00
Bean Sidhe
Deeply sonorous, most defenseless
Unaware, unawake, poor man.
Red curtains shiver o’er shuttered window
Painting all the air with blood cast shapes
I sigh, next to him
Dressed in spasm of shadow from candlelight
Breath so quiet, sweet taste of camphor and kiss

Lingering like a faraway lover

For I am already gone and done
Already in the trees outside raising my wail
Already calling pale armies to raid
House and Soul
“Come down and be a good girl,” he said.
“Come down and make a home and try love
Wake before each sunrise next to me.”
And I did.
And oh the invisible cage
of his embrace
Even when he was not with me…
We built seasons, tore down dreams,
We built routine, tore down ideas.
I could not make a home with all the wild in my body
I could not constrain the savage driving my heart
So I wake before each midnight next to him
So the feral cry climbs in my body and twitches my limbs
He is all beauty–
base and innocent of the thing I am
He believes darkness only lives out in the trees
Poor man.
For when I next open my mouth,
it will be the last sound he hears.

Thank you, Tom Petty

We someone famous dies, we talk about them. Everybody talks about them. If they are like Tom Petty, mostly we just extend our gratitude that we happened to hit this mortal loop at the same time. Tom Petty had a long career and an impressive body of work – listen to the whole catalog – the texture of his work is neither glam-rock smooth like Bowie nor quite as unwashed as Mellencamp.  There’s a earthy, sexy grit to it, a forward groove, and a feeling that everything will be all right.

There are gems like “Runnin’ Down a Dream”, arguably the best driving song since Golden Earring’s “Radar Love”. “Don’t Come Around Here No More” stands out with its creepy Alice in Wonderland video. His biggest hit, “Free Fallin'” started out as a way to make fellow Wilbury Jeff Lynne laugh.

But when we praise the work of an artist, it is usually in terms of how their gifts affected us personally. What does the song mean to you? Which one got under your skin and cracked your heart wide open, leaving your brain in the dust?

“American Girl” was released in 1977.  The urban myth states that the song is about a college girl from Petty’s home of Gainesville, Florida who took LSD and jumped thinking she could fly.  I never read that part of the story til a few days ago. I’d heard the song hundreds of times, sang along, knew the words.

In the summer of 1989, on my first night in Paris, I was standing alone on a balcony at 3am. It was quiet, rainy and cool.

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My balcony at Hotel de la Cite Rougement in Paris.

 

Earlier that night, I had struck up a conversation in a cafe with a boy named Karim. He was swarthy and beautiful and looked vaguely like Jeff Healy’s drummer. We were both 20 and far from home – although he would not talk about his home. He asked if I would like to go to the Eiffel Tower.  Well, of course!  He had a car and we could be there toute de suite!

He was a very fast, very terrible driver. Worse than me when I started driver’s ed and nearly took out some trees. It was after midnight though and the streets were clear. He bolted down close alleys and jerked the gearshift. The little orange Citroen hopped and screeched. And then suddenly, there we were. We parked on the Seine side and got out. 1989 was the 100th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower (from the 1889 World’s Fair).  “100 ANS” was spelled out in lighted letters down one side. I had showed up in Paris at an auspicious time.

TE100ans

The air was heavy and sweet. And Karim kissed me and the clouds opened.  The rain drenched and pounded us, but we did not move from our place. We kissed and kissed because the moon was full and the tower was lit and the rain gods couldn’t stop us.

We both started to shiver. He drove me back to the cafe like a maniac.  Except now, he was a chilly, excited maniac. We agreed to meet for lunch in the same place. He kissed me goodnight and I didn’t want to let go, but I did.

I walked home slowly, cool insistent droplets pattering my head and hands.  Back to my hotel. Back to standing alone on the balcony.  Back to when I did everything I could just to be here.  I couldn’t help thinkin’ that there was a little more to life somewhere else. After all it was a great big world.

I stood there, stopped shivering, tasted the warmth of his kiss lemonade beer and Gauloises cigarettes.

I knew I would never see him again. Not my choice. My group was leaving for Alsace in five hours. I breathed in the night deep as I could.  God it’s so painful/something that’s so close/still so far out of reach. I wanted to make it last. Make it last all night.

I don’t play the what-if game. Life happens the way it is supposed to.  I am exactly where I need to be. Wherever Karim landed, I hope he is happy.  Whenever “American Girl” comes on, I sing along. It’s not about me, but it is. I appreciate what it means to me.

It got under my skin, cracked open my heart, left my brain in the dust for 3 minutes and 33 seconds.

Thank you, Tom Petty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Makes Family: A Book of Love

Every year for Daz’s birthday, I try to make something original that expresses the way he makes me feel.  I made this little book for him, but I want to share it with everyone.

Art has become the catalyst for me – whether it is drawing or painting or writing or cooking or singing. It is my WD40 AND my duct tape. It smooths the edges and keeps us together. I have typed the wordss out under each picture, Please enjoy!

 

Art1

Art: noun, The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.  But what if ART is more than what we make? What if ART is what we are? What if WE are the medium – pulled together in a cohesive torrent of creative LOVE?

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ART brings us together in a masterpiece of the human tapestry. Our history in every language.  Our skin in every color. Our truth in every version. Our story whether small or epic.

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Our perspective at every angle.  Our memories at every age. Our love in every expression.

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We see ourselves woven and folded and part of beauty and the living tableau of ART.  We see with our eyes and mind and heart.  We feel color.  We hear texture.

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ART makes beauty and life and love and home. ART makes FAMILY.  Thank You for being my family, my partner and helping me create this life everyday!

Love, H.

No Love in Things

So this is a ghost story about how we are haunted by things.

In the mid-1980’s, my mother was a cross-stitch artisan. She made some absolutely flawless work. We had even tested out several design software packages to create our own patterns for images. I also created some pieces, but nothing as intricate or challenging as the pieces she made.  For my grandmother’s birthday, she had a brilliant idea of making an entire cross-stitch quilt.

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The quilt design was 25 squares, each with a different rose picture. My grandmother LOVED roses. I was to make 12 and my mother would make 13.  Once they were completed, we would have it sashed with green ivy fabric and quilted by the ladies at The Neighborhood House for a donation.

quilt1

Whatever else was going on, we made that happen. It was a beautiful quilt.

And this was a big deal to us.  My grandmother, the quilt’s recipient, had made a masterpiece of her own that had hung in a couple different fabric/quilt shows and museums.  She had make a double-embroidered quilt of all the birds and flowers from all 50 states in alphabetical order.  It was enormous! Five years of work, countless episodes of All My Children, holding her mouth just right while threading the needle.  She had a bent fingernail because of the constant pressure against the fabric to get the stitch just right.

My grandmother loved our gift. And being from the generation who lived through the Great Depression, she wrapped it up and put it away for safe keeping. I would not see it again for 30 years.

quilt 2

When my grandmother died, my mother moved into her house. She quietly gave the quilt to a childhood friend of hers. The quilt was still new – wrapped up and folded neatly in plastic. And in exchange, he gave her a lamp.

lamp2

It was no ordinary lamp. He had lovingly made a Tiffany-style pink and white lampshade just for her and attached it to an ornate metal base. It was a table-lamp and it suited my mother and all her pastel belongings to a tee.

Now these were two specific, unique and priceless things.  A great deal of feeling and sentiment were attached.  A great deal of creative work (including my own) transpired to bring them into being. The trade between my mother and her friend was one of equality and mutual admiration. And yet, they were THINGS.  Not people. Not loved ones.  Things.

When my mother passed in 2010, it was a chaotic time.  I am an only child and there was no will. I did my absolute best to put the nuts and bolts of her life in order and try to honor her in a way that would suit her. I did not allow myself to grieve in public or at all for at least another two months. I had help.  My mother’s friend Shirley and her close neighbors, Sonya and Emilio helped me immensely.  We sold as much as we could to take care of funeral expenses and set up a memorial service.

I held my breath for two months. I dealt with releasing her house to the bank and sending out death certificates to creditors. I felt loved and supported by people who just showed up and pitched in. Because we all loved her.

 

I held my breath and when I exhaled, I was alone. One night at 2 a.m. I just sat up in bed.  Her dog Doc, who became my dog, laying on the end of my bed staring at the closet.  Her ashes were on my top shelf. They had handed me her remains in a green velvet bag. I awoke and began to really feel the empty space in my life where she had been. We had talked daily often more than once. She made me laugh. She was the best grandma to my son. She was gone.

And there was not a THING that I wished to hold on to. None of it contained her heart, her soul, her spirit, her light. I didn’t need any of it because I carried the best of her with me. Always.

I had neither the quilt nor the lamp. And I was grieving and healing.

And it slowly got better. I miss her now, today, this moment. So does everyone else. And we live on connected by that.

So this is the haunting part, the life lesson:

A few months ago, my mother’s childhood friend showed up and found me.  He had the quilt. Honestly, I didn’t know it still existed.  But there it was, still folded immaculately in pristine plastic. He wanted to give it back to me. And, just for kicks, he wanted to know if I had the lamp. Because in his eyes, I had not been a good steward of my mother’s THINGS.  Because at some time while I was holding my breath and THINGS were being sold, I let the lamp get sold too.  Because when I was dealing with the tidal wave, I did not happen to grab his lamp and anchor it to myself while I withstood the storm.

aladdin

I was polite. I understood his point of view. I told him honestly that I did not know here it was or whom had it.  He talked on in a very heavy-handed way about disrespect.

“I’m giving this back to you because I know where things go.”

He was trying passively to shame me for not possessing HIS lamp. A lamp that was his then my mom’s, but never mine in the first place. A lamp that was so important to him still, that six years after my mother’s death, he found me just to emphasize its loss.

I remained polite. I much prefer people who speak plainly if they have an issue with me. But it was apparently that HIS lamp and HIS loss were not MY lamp nor MY loss.

I never wanted the lamp.  I never wanted the quilt back. It was given as a gift.  And my understanding of a gift is that once it is given, you do not take it back.

His attempt to hang six years of guilt on me for a lost THING didn’t work. In fact, it made me very sure that I will never charge another person with curating or keeping my THINGS.

marley
Jacob Marley wearing his chains of THINGS

I have the quilt, but I am donating it. The quilting is still crisp.  The stitches still look fresh.  In its 30 year existence, this quilt has never warmed anyone. It has never been loved. Its beauty has been made bitter by those who buried it away, suffocated it in plastic in the back of a closet. I am hoping that donating it allows the magic to finally grow. So much care and love went into it.

quilt4

My real hope is that whomever ended up with the lamp truly finds joy in it. Maybe it’s a beacon for a little girl reading stories. Maybe it’s the perfect source of light and comfort for someone who is alone. It could not be any of those things for me.

It was never my lamp.

Poetry: In the Midnight Garden – The Power of Dreams

One August night three years ago, I woke up blind sobbing.  I could not snap myself awake because this dream held on to me.
I dreamed of the man I love being called by Death.
Death is not a stranger to me.  My grandparents, parents – all no longer in this life. It is an honor to be truly present when someone passes.  I was there for my maternal grandparents and my mother. I held my grandfather’s small, blue hand and felt all of his memories pass through him; his life in rural Kentucky as a child, his mother’s face, his dogs, his children when they were small, his continued strength and determination and I knew firsthand the blessing it left on me.
mort
T-shirt design by Daz L’asrtist
Aside from my wonderful son, I have no immediate family. I have built one with friends and specifically with this man. This man who is fearless and kind and creative and magic and steady and real.
So when she came to collect, in this dream, in her guise – I made a deal.
Please enjoy the poem below:
In The Midnight Garden
She stole in through indigo bough under the weight and glory of
a full, gold moon
A ghost of a girl moving like breeze through gaudy forsythia
Her limbs birch white and eye pale grey blue like the pulsing
vein of a wild dove
Her ebon hair whipping savage and smile curving down
She sang her rain crow song, weaving through phantom
wisteria
She called to me with a lover’s voice by my secret name and
brought me out under the darkling stars
“I know you by your eye and your song.” She croaked softly
and offered me her cold hand as if gifting me a lily.
Her cool breath stole across my shoulders and slowed my blood. The
Death crow had coming to steal away my love.
Steal him from his life and waken in him another. A birth into
fretless abyss and humming oblivion.
To waken in me endless
empty hours and stillness without peace,
To tear him from his life and so from mine.
“How will you keep him with flesh that alters and weakens?
How will he love the finite and imperfect? When art and beauty
are timeless?
How can he stay with you? When I am Evolution and Omega.”
“I know you by your cold and illusion.” I sang softly and placed
my warming hand on her icy brow as if feeling a child’s face
for fever.
She wavered a bit but stood frozen, defiant. The Death crow demanded her treasure.
“I know you will take him. Into the desert darkness
where life is only a covetous idea.
I know he will love the journey and waken from the dream of
this life.And you may have him when my heart stops and me
too for the bargain.
But first listen…”
She smiled a curving downward crescent and let her head fall to
one side.
Her raven mane falling over the shifting planes of her
silver face altering into pain.
She heard
Loud and hard and hot and fierce the insistent beating of my heart.
The Death crow’s eyes grew wide as the moon. “I’ll be back.”
I smiled. “Take your time. We will be a while yet.”

The 3 Sisters of the Sky – How Not to Be Afraid of the Dark

Words of a Dandelion

I finished the manuscript today for the children’s book.  Daz is hard at work on the illustrations.

If you were a child and you feared the night, would this comfort you?

Would it ease your fears to see the balance of night and day?  For centuries, we have assigned fear and danger to the night. I wanted to create a story about balance, about sisters who must share and perform their tasks.  They are all friendly and positive in their own way. They care for people, animals and each other. They benefit everyone in completing their specific tasks and taking their turns.

Selene

If my perception of night – rife with its histrionic terrors  – could be altered into the character of a young, helpful girl with a magic silver bow, then it would be my favorite bedtime story.  Please enjoy:

The Three Sisters of the Sky.

Celeste, Soleil and Selene…

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The 3 Sisters of the Sky – How Not to Be Afraid of the Dark

I finished the manuscript today for the children’s book.  Daz is hard at work on the illustrations.

If you were a child and you feared the night, would this comfort you?

Would it ease your fears to see the balance of night and day?  For centuries, we have assigned fear and danger to the night. I wanted to create a story about balance, about sisters who must share and perform their tasks.  They are all friendly and positive in their own way. They care for people, animals and each other. They benefit everyone in completing their specific tasks and taking their turns.

Selene

If my perception of night – rife with its histrionic terrors  – could be altered into the character of a young, helpful girl with a magic silver bow, then it would be my favorite bedtime story.  Please enjoy:

The Three Sisters of the Sky.

Celeste, Soleil and Selene, the Three Sisters of the Sky,

The merry daughters of Mother Earth and Father Time

Each sister takes her turn to play day or night

Each sister must do her part and share the sky

Celeste, the eldest sister, is the peace keeper in the balance night and day.  Father Time tells her that it is dawn. Her jackrabbits nibble their grassy breakfast.  Deer gather in the misty forests to watch the morning glories open their deep blue eyes.  It is time to awaken her sister, Soleil. She wakes her sunny little sister, pulling back her pretty cloak of all color stars.  “Up, up, little sister! Dawn is coming. Today will be glorious!”

Soleil, the middle sister, yawns and stretches out her golden rays. She puts on her glorious gown of red, yellow and blazing orange. Soleil calls out to the roosters that it is time to sing. She shines on the farmers who work with Mother Earth.  She strides across bright fields, warming the animals that graze and bask in her shimmering rays. Soleil opens wildflowers so honeybees can drink nectar and make honey. Sunflowers joyfully follow her journey. Songbirds tweet their happy melodies.   “Let’s play!’ she calls to the monkeys who follow her from tree to tree.

Soleil has traveled far today.  Celeste knows her little sister is growing sleepy. The crickets begin singing a sweet lullaby.  Celeste tucks her sunny little sister in under veils of lavender and gold. “To sleep, Soleil. Goodnight, my golden sister. Sweet dreams.”

And now it is Selene’s turn. “Up, up, little sister! Night is coming. All will be well.” Celeste helps her youngest sister dress in indigo and brush her silver-blue hair. Helpful fireflies will keep Selene on her path through the dark. “Don’t forget the dreams.” Says Celeste. Selene picks up her magic silver bowl of dreams. Tonight the dream bowl is full, bright with hope and memory and wildness. Little Selene giggles. Dreams are her favorite part of the night.

Selene strolls quietly through shadowed lands.  Moonflowers and jasmine open their blooms to greet her.  “Come help, my friends.” She whispers to the little bats that fly about eating mosquitos. “Come run and play.” She calls to her foxes who love the night.

Selene sprinkles dreams from her silver bowl over sleeping children.  She lights up the little stars for weary travelers to brighten the path until they are safe at home. She cools and comforts with her soft hands. The owls and wolves sing her wild songs.

The peaceful night is ending. Selene must rest and fill her magic silver bowl with dreams for everyone.  Celeste wraps her glowing little sister in a soft blanket of pinks and blues. The dawn has come again.

Celeste, Soleil and Selene, the Three Sisters of the Sky,

The merry daughters of Mother Earth and Father Time

Each sister takes her turn to play day or night

Each sister must do her part and share the sky.

Practical Magic for Ugly Children

I was raised by my maternal grandparents from ages 2 to 7, and then from 11 to adulthood.  My grandmother’s mother, Gertrude, did not like children. She had had six of them. And now had to put up with her offspring’s offspring’s offspring. It was more of a have-to with me. My grandparents lived close to them and took them to doctor appointments. Gertrude got to visit with me more than she would have liked.

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Chet and Gertrude

When I was six, I lost my top right front tooth as normal kids do. However, the tooth that took its place, came in twisted like a corkscrew. Gertrude bestowed the pet name of “Snagglepuss” on me.

Snagglepuss

She was the only one who called me that, but she did it as often as possible. I had the tooth pulled and actually had an extra tooth bud that came in straight. I smiled at her broadly every chance I got, hoping for release from the vile nickname.

Alas, Gertrude was 4’6”.  I was already nearly as tall as she was. And in retrospect, it must have seemed threatening to have a child your own size constantly grin at you like a homicidal monkey.

monkey

As I got a little older, I began to talk more with my great-grandpa, Chet. He was quiet. Never said more than was necessary. I know more of what was said about him that I knew him.  From my grandmother’s stories (his daughter), I knew he had a bad temper. I knew he kicked the shins of people who were rude at dinner with hobnailed boots. I knew he was part “Indun”, or Native American and knew some magic. I knew he was a cutthroat Pinochle player.

Lump

Grandpa Green and me (in my lump state).

It was a beautiful thought for an ugly kid. I came from magical people. Somewhere under this pasty nearsighted, greasy-haired lump, there was a continuation of a magical bloodline. Not a passing on of a cheap card trick or sleight of hand, not some $8 Bill Bixby linked rings nonsense, but real magic. Something that I could like about myself that no one could really see.

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The summer I was 11, sent back from my feral days in Ohio, I went barefoot every chance I got. My grandparents were supremely overprotective and forced me to wear shoes. With the damp and the heat and the wet socks and closed shoes, I ended up with plantar warts all over my right foot. I hid it at first, embarrassed and scared. But it spread and the toes began to look webbed. The pain of taking a step and desperate willingness to cut my toes off just to stop the infernal itching made me stay in my room.

They found out. My grandfather caught me without my socks. They took me to the doctor. Then to a dermatologist.  Dr. Dickinson prescribed a smelly, burning lotion that smelled bad and burned worse. Then Dr. Dickinson spoke about burning them off or freezing them off.  I’m sure he was a respected doctor, but to me he was a bald barbarian heaping fear and discomfort on an itchy foot wart volcano.

doc evil

And he never spoke to me or looked at me. In fact he was examining my foot and reached up with his gloved hand and separated my hair. He looked at my grandmother and said “I can give you some topical lotion for this oily dandruff.”  He then scheduled an appointment with them for a month later to either have my foot burnt or frozen.

I spent the next week crying. The idea that the oily, dandruffy, lumpy girl was now also going to be the limping, half-footed, clumsy girl too was crushing me. The burning and itching had not subsided. My foot seemed alien. Did I even care about it being burnt or frozen? Was it part of me still?

Enter magic. During a Pinochle game, the situation of my foot had come up in conversation. And my great-grandfather, supreme car shark and “Indun” had a trick up his sleeve.

He told me to take off my shoes and walk to the back of the yard with him. He told me to follow directions.  And he told everyone else that it was none of their business.  So I did.

When we got to the lot line, we sat down on the grass.  He took my foot and held it and looked at it. He took a large, dry navy bean out of his shirt pocket.  He considered it. I didn’t know that old people carried dry beans in their pockets. So I also considered it.

bean

He looked up and the sky and then at my foot. He rubbed the dry navy bean over the warts, humming a bit. I watched him, thinking that I was never going to eat navy beans again. Thinking that this was too simple to be magic and too weird to be anything else.

When he was done, we stood up.  He handed me the bean.

“Throw this over your shoulder and don’t look back to see where it falls.”

So I did.

The pain was gone.

Within three days, my foot was clear.  And magic was real to me.

I have never had a wart since. I have never eaten a navy bean in my life.

My great-grandfather, the magic “Indun” died at 93. In the years between, I was his friend and lucky Pinochle partner. He came to Thanksgiving a couple times. Gertrude passed before him and he married a lady 30 years younger than him about 6 months before he died. They traveled a lot. She took him to see the world beyond the Midwest. I was happy for him.

Chet and Ruby.JPG

Chet dancing at 93 with his new wife Ruby.

A tiny bit of belief, the smallest bit of magic can heal anyone. Everyone has a spark of divine within them, even old people, even ugly children. Don’t let it be lost to the mediocrity of every day. Allow it to be part of you, fight to keep it. Use it to do good.