This face


You never know when it will happen, when you suddenly receive sight.  You see something in a wonderfully strange new way, as if You are the only one, ever, who has seen it.  You feel an immediate relationship  to the object of your attention.

I remember once, sitting by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere while my husband changed our flat tire and I noticed a little flower growing nearby.  An otherwise ordinary wild-flower made exceptional in the moment.  The flower moved in the breeze and moved me with her dance.  I could almost hear her whisper, “Look at me.  I am here just for you.  You will be the one I dazzle with my brilliance in my short life time.”  I saw, really saw this one flower in this one spot in this exact moment.  I had a mysterious notion that someone had moved heaven and earth, including blowing our tire, to bring that flower and me together to arouse me, bless me, love me.

I have passed by all types of flowers in my lifetime, zillions of them.  They all sort of blend and merge and make for great scenery along my life’s journey. People are like that too.  Faces flash by on the news, in the grocery store, at the airport.  I zip by them and  absent-mindedly categorize them into manageable varieties: beggar, pilot, American, businesswoman, mother, Asian, orphan, criminal, banker, movie star.  Perhaps I smile, perhaps not.

But this one day, this one face crossed my Facebook screen and caused me to pause for a moment.  Gracefully, miraculously I could see.

Learn more about the amazing people who found and care for this child and others at Orbit Village.

Granny get your gun



Maybe it’s just me, but I find it a little disturbing to think of Grandma packing a hand gun.  Can you picture your grandmother with a gun?  I’ve asked many of my friends lately, “Do you own a handgun?”  The overwhelming response has been “yes,” followed by impassioned explanations of self-protection and the fear of an upcoming revocation of the sacred constitutional right to do so.  Is it because I live in the south? the bible belt? a red state?  Trust me when I say that I get it.  I understand the need to bear arms.  Please don’t interpret my sly grin and my nodding head as a sign of disapproval.  It’s more like a sign of disbelief.

I’m a grandma myself and I try to imagine the scenario.  It’s Monday and I can’t find my cell phone, I forgot that I left my flat-iron on and I didn’t write down that the pest control guy was coming at 10.   I am getting out of the shower when I hear a noise, it’s a burglar.  I quickly wrap a towel around me, run to the kitchen, grab a step stool, run to the closet where I keep my gun high on the shelf away from the children, find the box of ammo (in the drawer by my bed-away from the gun-to avoid an accident),  find my reading glasses because I can’t see a thing without them,  load the gun, aim it with a steady arm, fire and shoot the guy standing at the front door while holding up the towel with my chin.  Don’t worry about the poor pest control guy, I missed him by a mile.

My husband took me to a shooting range once.  You had to put on earphones because the sound was unbelievably loud.  My first shot was pretty darn good, but when the instructor kept cautioning me to keep my thumb wrapped around the handle, or I might cut it off when the casing shoots out the back, my aim got worse and worse.  I don’t do too well when I’m scared.  So at least (in my made up scenario), I still have my thumb, though I’m quite deaf and the would-be robber got away.

I joke, when I’m sad and I’m saddened by the times.  I wonder what is real and what is perception driven by fear and manipulation.  Admittedly, I don’t know, but it seems like we’re back to those wild west days pictured in old movies.  And, like a scene from another old movie, my stomach tightens slightly when I think of my gentle, kind, loving, girlfriends with guns in their hands.  I feel like the mother in Christmas Story when Ralphie begs for a BB gun and I think,

Go ahead Granny, get your gun.  “But don’t shoot your eye out.”

Or mine.



A view of Paris

It was a curious mix of history and art that summer; a harmonious  blend of tranquil neutrals dabbed with vibrant color bleeding subtly into the more aggressive, impatient stokes and angles of stone and stucco.  They arrived  at their apartment in Paris by way of rolling rural farmlands after visiting the beaches of Normandy.
From their balcony they could see the Eiffel  tower pointing towards the heavens and rising above the ordered rows of terraced rooftops.  That is how they spent their apartment time,  looking out.  For, inside, the furniture was sparse and cheap and they had long ago outgrown sparse and cheap.  “I  chose the room for the view,” he said.
If there had been long strands of beads hanging from the doorway to a mattress filled with water, or a dresser filled with jeans and halter tops, she would be certain that she had lived there before.  “Just like some of my friends who spent a college-summer abroad,” she said.
 “Bohemian,” He said.
She liked the city and the sound of cars breaking and accelerating, accentuating the race toward the future.  She was attune to multiple dialects  blessing or insulting receptive ears.  From her window,  fabulous foreign faces worthy of Renoir, impressed themselves upon her.  She thought she saw a familiar one, a high school friend.  But she quickly dismissed the likelihood of him being here, now, and completely unchanged in 40  years.   The strong aromas of bread baking, laundry soap and garbage alternately wafted in with the breeze and dissipated once identified.
Outside they walked for miles on sidewalks crammed with people, shops, cafes, and museums. They saw old masters hanging in gilded frames mingling with tatted, pierced, spiked, youngsters.  They listened as a girl in tight jean shorts played Vivaldi on her violin.  A car playing rap music passed by.  They ate fresh crepes and drank old wine. They bought a gift for their grandson who would be born at the time of her mother’s 90th birthday.  She felt energy flowing through her as if she were plugged in to a source of vigor that heightened her sensitivities and reversed the advancement of the last few decades.
Perhaps it was because they had come from the battlefields of world war II, frozen in time.   Normandy, a beautiful, tranquil place and stage for a terrible war which birthed the acts of valor to which the French pay homage.  She thought of the thousands who gave their lives to preserve the only way of life she had ever known.  WWII was her father’s war and he had come home.  He lived to be 70.  And though he was not buried then and there with the thousands in that memorial cemetery, to her he was just as gone .
Her husband’s war was very different.  It became a dark chapter in history and left a rancid taste in the mouths of the American youth in the 1960’s and 70’s.  Drafts and protests, unclear message and mission, dead soldiers and heroes, none the less.  Her husband talked some about that time. He had flown in a plane of the same model as one they saw in a Normandy museum.  They spoke of returning to Southeast Asia some day.  She wondered if the future held that possibility.  She wondered who he was in high-school, before Vietnam, before they met.
Her father used to say,  “you can’t put an old head on young shoulders.”  But he was wrong. He should have known what young people don’t, that youth is indeed a state of mind;  old – the full  richness of experience, reflection, knowledge, connection, and life – a story captured with pen, paint and voice punctuated with spilt blood and drunken wine.
In Paris the past presses urgently against the future as if all answers lie somewhere in between.  In this space she rested her wise old head, no longer grey, against the strong shoulders of her husband’s 18 year old self. She grabbed his hand.