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Friday, November 25, 2011

of hedgehogs and reindeer and teddies..

it's been two years since i saw my Christmas things. last year we were 'camping' in temporary housing while waiting for our house to be finished, and i had no room to put anything out. (we basically lived out of boxes for 9 months. but that's another story.)

today, we unpacked Christmas treasures.

it felt like old friends stepping out of a dark place into the light and holding out hands saying, 'oh, how i've missed you...'

things i'd forgotten were unwrapped- linens and teddy bears and dishes and candleholders...all so sparkly and bright and unbegrudging of their two-year imprisonment.

the little tree stretched its stiff limbs as if it was glad to be free of the cardboard and tape and dust.

the hedgehog made a run for it, so i put him in the wagon outside on the front veranda together with the reindeer and the big teddy with the red hat.

the mugs wept to be filled with tea. the candleholders shone with the light inside, so thankful to be warm and blazing again.

my dear little treasures. tomorrow we shall continue to place you all in just the right corners of our lovely house. merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

bending, not breaking...

defiant, he refused to look me in the eye or acknowledge my words.

but i knew he heard me, for his little hands pulled at his eyes to try to stop the tears and he trembled.

violence in the classroom, even in play, is unacceptable and must be disciplined. our usual method is 'time-out' on a special chair. this little one had to be dragged, limp and deadweight, to the chair.

when i asked him to apologize for hurting his friends by punching them in the faces, he was sullenly silent. over and over again i softly explained, on the other side of the classroom so as to give him privacy, that he simply could not behave this way. no response other than the frantic clawing at his eyes.

i led him back to join the others in the reading circle...he continued to be difficult. given his special needs, we have given this child a lot of mercy, but i could see that it was coming to an end for both the teacher and me (i'm the assistant).

finally, the teacher asked him to leave, since he refused to cooperate with anything. i took his hand and quite forcefully removed him, again limp and defiant, to the other side of the classroom, again.

i looked him in the eye, bobbing my head back and forth to catch him. "sweetheart, you cannot do this." again he began the frantic clawing at his eyes to stop the tears. i rubbed his back and held him in my arms. he pulled away. i held him. suddenly, a burst of anguish. flooding tears. agony. clutching his stomach. uncontrolled gasping and choking.

i waiting, tissues mopping up the flood. rubbed his back. prayed quietly. tapped his shoulders. waiting for him to settle.

thinking deep in my mind- how dreadful it is when a child has gone so far without bending, without being gently bent, that he almost has to break. daddy and mommy find it easier to just let him do what he wants, rather than stop his headlong rush to delinquency. the child suffers because of their refusal to confront this behavior with daily, consistent love and discipline. 

his sobs take so long to slow. he clings to me, writhes in my arms. stubborn little heart refusing to speak, to pray, to listen, to look at me, he is deep within himself in torment.

and i wish that i had a way to explain that it's not his fault.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

early mornings i leave the house in the soft first lightening of sky. i drive a road that winds along the lake beside the mountains. it runs almost below lake-level- there's a levee between me and the water. i get to the beginning of this road just as the sun is rising.

it never gets old, that first gleam of newborn sunlight sparkling on the water. the low line of mountains in the distance gently backdrops the long expanse of whiteness. something in me leaps and throbs at the aching beauty of it all.

folks are jogging along the levee path- bright t-shirts jostle for positions. some are doing graceful ti-chi strokes- some simply stretching out the night stiffness. families stand around in comfortable clusters, enjoying the cool farewell of the night and the welcome promise of another day.

i drive along the road, expertly avoiding the potholes and the bicycles and the tricycles and the trucks and other oncoming vehicles- playing chicken is essentially what i'm doing- but carefully. the beauty of the morning makes me a relaxed chicken-player...the mist over the lake begins to dissipate as the kilometers tick off along the road.

it's not far till we curve east, and the light is blinding. i put on my shades and lower the visor. the river, oh! the river...bounded by green marsh grass waving in the wind, flat as a prairie plain, running straight east into the gray-purple hills that beckon it with open arms. the beauty of it hurts me, calls me. 

we cross the floodway bridge- more vehicles and people now- slower traffic- but the arms of the river reach out to me, begging me to step down from the little bamboo loading platform on the shore and into a long motor-canoe and point it into the morning.

where does the river go? what wonders would i see if i ever had the time to just stop, to just park the vehicle at the side of the road and actually follow it into the east?

i think of the brave mouse reepicheep, hero of the "voyage of the dawn treader"- and i want to be him; to clamber into my little coracle and paddle off singing into the sweet water that rushes up into the 'utter east' and eternal morning.

but i have not the time, so i drive on...i drive on past the water, every day, wishing that duty did not call me. wishing, oh! longing, that i had the luxury of endless time and energy to follow this haunting silver dream.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


been awhile, i know.

been busy.

doing just the ordinary, humdrum things of life.

thought i'd share what happened today that was not ordinary.

first of all, background: last week, 2000 pesos went missing from my wallet. just walked away, without so much as a please and thankyou.

the morning i drove up to the tollbooth, opened my wallet, and discovered 20 lonely pesos where i had just seen 2000 the evening before, was a shock.

so what was different about the evening before the morning shock at the tollbooth? (i did scrounge up enough to pay the toll from change and bits of paper money hiding in various places in my car, the people behind me in the line were not amused)


the house next door, where nobody lives (because they think it has ghosts), has a new caretaker. a middle-aged lady. while i was away at school, she informed my caretaker that she was locked out of the house- being new to the doors- and had slept outside. she was hungry. she was tired. she was in need of help.

when i got home from school, i invited her in for a cup of coffee. we fed her supper. my girls talked to her for a long time, just chatting and getting acquainted. she was kind of weird, but you know. one doesn't like to jump to conclusions.

you knew where this is going, don't you.


one of my girls went to the bathroom, the other was washing dishes and not really watching, and my purse with the red wallet visible was sitting on the little table in the foyer, where it always sits.



eventually, after searching, thinking, talking to various people, and getting advice, we reported the theft to the security in our village.

no accusations, just the bare bones of the story, and the missing money.

today, somebody must have told her. i was standing outside on the driveway watering some very dry grass, when suddenly i heard a roaring sound. here comes this lady.

striding up my sidewalk, right past me into my house, bellowing "susan! susan! where is susan!"

there is no susan at my house, let it be noted.

i followed her.

she backtracked and came out towards me -out of my house, mind you- and continued roaring, weeping, and waving her arms. i could not understand anything she was saying- she's visayan, not my dialect- and so i held up my hand, and called for nancy.

nancy is the original helper of mine who she had approached the day she was locked out.

more bellowing. my other girl came to see. i left and went upstairs to calm down the little girls.

we called the guard.

he escorted her home across the street.

phone calls were made. reports filed. i was advised to lock my doors.

i didn't.

i refuse to live behind locked doors.

the employer was supposed to come immediately. as of now, 8 hours later, she's a no-show...and ms BELLOW has been stomping around in her yard, all day.

i'm not scared.

i will lock the doors and windows tonight.

but i think she is probably slightly manic and very upset at what she has been told is an accusation- it's not, really- and so there.

it's been interesting. especially the part where emma and my little cherrylyn (granddaughter) dressed up as darby and spent the whole rest of the day storming around pretending to be sleuths finding a robber. yeah.

never- well, sometimes, but not today- a dull moment.

Friday, November 4, 2011

i own a little bit of sand,
a patch of sand by the sea,
it's just a scrubby bit of land-
but it belongs to me.

behind that tiny stretch of sand
a river runs along,
and all beside the dusty road
the palm trees whisper song.

and just in front of my piece of sand,
the ocean stretches wide!
the sun comes up at the back of it-
in front, sinks down at night.

I love my scrubby bit of land;
it holds my house of dreams.
and though there's nothing there but sand
it all belongs to me!


march, 08

Thursday, November 3, 2011

barefoot boy...

The Barefoot Boy

for alex: 

Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy,—
I was once a barefoot boy!
Prince thou art,—the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye,—
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood’s painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor’s rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee’s morning chase,
Of the wild-flower’s time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole’s nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape’s clusters shine;
Of the black wasp’s cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy,—
Blessings on the barefoot boy!

Oh for boyhood’s time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!

Oh for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread;
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone, gray and rude!
O’er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs’ orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy!

Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt’s for work be shod,
Made to tread the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!