Mint Leaves Haiku

Last year’s mint leaves poke

Up through garden dirt gladly,

Smelling of summer.

Get Over Yourself

Everything that happens to you

Isn’t always all about you.

You may weep or scream or stamp in anger—

But don’t expect the world to take on your self-aggrandizing cause.

Get over yourself.

Sometimes it is YOU that is wrong,

Not the world around you.

Often you are making a huge deal over nothing of importance,

Expecting everyone around you to pick up your flag and march to your drummer—

Get over yourself.

Did you ever think it might be YOU that is the problem?

Did you ever think that you, yes, even YOU, might possibly be wrong?

The world will spin along just fine whether you like it or not—

Because you are simply another grain of sand on the beach.

Get over yourself.

Climb off your high horse and admit you might be out of line.

Get down here with the rest of us imperfect people

And rest your head on our shoulders.

You’re just having a bad moment or day or week or year, but still—

Get over yourself!

(Dear much-appreciated readers: this is directed solely at myself about getting over a major hissy fit. I did actually get over myself.)

We Are Bashert

I recently read this; “‘bashert’ is Yiddish for ‘meant to be together.'” Doesn’t that just say it all? When you are with someone you love and care for, whether it is for 10 years or 60 years, you get that ‘meant to be’ rightness of it all. And when that other person leaves your life through death, the feeling of bashert is still strong. The connection is still there.

Bashert’ resonated with me. It gave a name to what I have been feeling since my mother died on December 16 last year. Although I miss the sound of her voice and the sight of her smile, I know with my whole soul that she is still with me. She is free from the pain of the cancer that claimed her, free from worry, free from fear; she is free in all ways. In that freedom she can check in on my dad and me, and all those whom she loved.

The feeling of ‘meant to be together’ transcends death. Of course, there is grief. It’s not that you ever get over grief, you just learn how to live with it. It’s a lot like losing an arm or a leg; you are not the same any longer, but you can still survive well. The fact that we and those who have gone on are now in different planes of existence does not mean that we cannot still feel that never-ending love.

Just that simple word, ‘bashert,’ has already brought me peace and comfort. Going on the supposition that we choose our parents before we are born; we choose those who will help us evolve into the people we want/need to be. My mother used to tell me about her own growing up. She was the last of five children; a “surprise” her mother was not happy about. Her mother adored her sons, but wasn’t at all happy about having this one last girl.

But, as Mom said, although her childhood was hard and sometimes unhappy, she declared that it made her the strong person she became. She felt she had chosen people who would make sure that she would be strong and independent, and boy–was she!

There are deep mysteries we are not given to know while on earth, but my own belief is that we are in “school” during our time on earth. Here is where we learn how to use the gifts and talents we were given. Here is where we meet those who will be significant in our lives. Here is where we learn who we are and why we are here. Here is where we learn ‘bashert.’

I have referenced this before, but it bears repeating again:

“*Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar:

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come.”

*From William Wordsworth’s “Ode — Intimations of Immortality for Recollections of Early Childhood”

Raising Good Radishes and Adults

When you have a garden, you know that you can’t plant a row of radish seeds one day, then harvest full-grown radishes the next day. It takes time, sun, water, fertilizer and weeding to coax them into their delicious crunchy fullness.

Now, kids are not radishes, but similar rules apply. Put them in the right circumstances, with all the help they need to become healthy and responsible adults, and they are on their way to being self-sufficient and productive members of society. As wonderful and amazing as they are as babies, toddlers, school-age kids, teens and young adults, the end-game is to grow adults.

Back in the dinosaurish ’50s when I came along, these are some of the many things my parents taught me:

  • how to make a bed
  • how to keep myself clean
  • how to care for my teeth
  • how to care for my hair
  • how to fold and/or hang up my clothes
  • how to wash and dry dishes
  • how to wash woolens so that they did not shrink or stretch
  • how to cook
  • how to bake
  • how to change a tire
  • how to use a jacknife without cutting myself
  • how to set a campfire and how to put it out
  • how to vacuum
  • how to keep my skin clean and moisturized
  • how to apply makeup without overdoing it
  • how to clean up my room
  • how to ride a bike
  • how to pick up after myself
  • how to be a working part of the family
  • how to stay out of trouble

That last one was the hardest for me. It seemed to me at the time that I was in trouble at least once every week. Our family had rules of behavior, with consequences for going over the line. One of the big rules was that I was never to leave the house without letting my mom or dad know where I was going and when I’d be back. One summer evening as my mom was running a bath for me, I decided to slip out of the house. I had a vague idea I would pay for this later on, but the freedom of walking around the neighborhood alone was just too intoxicating to pass up.

My dad came looking for me, found me, took me firmly by the hand, and walked me home. On the way he asked me if I had remembered the house rule; I did, but flouted it anyway. He asked me if I knew how worried he and Mom were when they found me missing; I hadn’t thought of their feelings at all. Filled with remorse, I realized the enormity of what I had done.

I don’t even remember the punishment for my brief walk that evening, but I do remember the comfort of boundaries. I knew, as I always did, that my parents loved and cared for me, and that I had terrified them that evening. Of course, there were many times when I flounced into my room, angry about not being able to do this or that….even then there was a small and grateful relief in knowing that I was loved and cared for; at those times I even understood why there were rules in the first place.

I have never been a parent; isn’t it something how people who have never raised a child have all these ideas on how to do it? All I know is that my parents strove to be teachers and mentors to me, not necessarily my best friends. (That came later on.) Being raised the way I was, I have a deep and abiding admiration of how my parents made sure that I was able to live on my own and be responsible for all aspects of my life.

I am very glad to have grown up to be a pretty good radish.


What’s Up With This?!

It appears that the Crankee Yankee and I have upset someone’s applecart here in our little town. Having never been in trouble with the law in my life, I am a bit shocked by what is happening to us now. Here’s the story.

We live on a small, somewhat narrow street (24′ wide; often a squeeze to have two cars pass each other) with no sidewalks. We live near the curve of the street, and, despite a “25 MPH” sign on the street, people zoom right through, and often do not stop at the stop sign. Our seniors, school kids, bike riders, walkers and skateboarders are more than a little nervous about being on our street because of this. We have two indoor/outdoor cats who like to cross the street to the green space on the other side of the road, and we have had some near misses with them. So we usually have to be outside to watch out for them.

We have lived on this street since 2007, and the Crankee Yankee’s family has lived at this address since 1960. We have been renovating and repairing the house since 2007. The Crankee Yankee is a retired carpenter, concrete construction superintendent and former building inspector for the town of Londonderry. He does all the work on our house himself, and, as we are on a fixed income, we pay cash upfront. We wish that we had the resources do everything at once, but we are doing the best we can with what we have.

We have been parking his truck and my SUV on the street so that the Crankee Yankee can use the driveway as his work area. We are trying to sell our older Toyota T-100, and have it parked on one side of the driveway. Having our two vehicles parked on the street by our house has actually helped in slowing traffic down. Soon after this, we had two separate police visits about this (no doubt responding to a complaint), and both smiled and said, “I see that you are trying to slow traffic down.”

The Crankee Yankee said that yes, besides giving him room to work in the driveway it did indeed slow things down. The officers had told him to ‘keep up the good work.’

Soon after that, it became an issue with a capital I; it seems that someone with some pull in the town has complained and we were then told to get the vehicles off the street. We explained the situation to the police chief, and he appeared to understand. We agreed that, after the Crankee Yankee’s work was done for the day, we would park one of the vehicles beside the T-100, leaving the smaller car on the street, parked close to the curb.

That seemed to work for a while. Then evidently the police received more complaints, and we received more visits.  The latest one ended with the news that the town is going to put up a “No Parking” sign right in front of our house. We can park a vehicle behind the sign, but since we will have to park one car beside the T-100, it means that the Crankee Yankee will not be able to work in the driveway. Since our garage is under construction, all his equipment he uses each day; table saw, tools, wheel barrows, concrete blocks, bags of cement, rakes, ladders, etc. take up a good part of the driveway.

Our eight raised bed gardens in front of our house means that he can’t work there, so he will have to work on the side of the street by the No Parking sign, and hope that he doesn’t get sideswiped by a passing car. We have also been told that we must now remove everything from our driveway (except cars of course), and get rid of the T-100 we have been trying to sell.

At this point I have feel we have some kind of target on our backs. We keep on asking why this has suddenly become a problem and why can’t we know who we are upsetting? We are getting no answers, and I wonder if the next step will be villagers with torches trying to run us out of town, a la old Frankenstein movies.

We have addressed the speeding and traffic volume concerns at a recent Board of Selectmen meeting, with the result that they will meet again next month. I have written a letter to the editor of our local newspaper to explain our situation; it will be published this week. I have no idea if it will do any good, but I am hopeful.

I fail to understand why, as decent people, good citizens and helpful neighbors, we seem to be singled out. As far as we know, we are not breaking any laws or violating any town ordinances. Neither I or the Crankee Yankee have ever been in trouble with the law, destroyed any property, hurt anyone, passed a bad check, stolen anything, sold drugs to children, or supported ISIS. I wonder most of all why we are not allowed to know who is applying pressure on the powers that be. We can’t seem to get a clear answer.

I’m sorry that this isn’t my usual type of post; no funny stuff, thought-provoking comments, poetry or haiku, or upbeat ‘ain’t life grand’ post, but this situation is weighing heavily on my mind and I have temporarily lost my ability to “rise above.”

If this can happen to people like us, what’s next?