Saturday, January 20, 2007





The Chows are a little testy because we have been spending a more time than is usual at the office. Been regrouping down there and everything is now in place, mostly, as we swing into a busy production time.

I have a smaller office but same view. Easily the most beautiful view in all of The 'Kan. I boast this fact regularly and with absolute certainty but no one really believes me until they come by. Then it's WHAT A VIEW YOU HAVE HERE. yup.

Because my new office is smaller, some of my really cool art has gone outside in the halls and other public areas. I lost 'Humpty Dumpty' to the lobby, where he resides with grace and authority. Or uncertainty, I guess, as Humpty Dumpty would. I lost the 4' x 4' piece of handmade paper to the outer office of the big corner office I vacated. So it's like those special people you meet and work with from time to time on a big project or in a big effort of some kind: after it's over, you still see 'em here and still love 'em, but it's not the same.

These days I am cultivating new lovers. My father was in business for himself, too, and in the early 1950's, when he needed the all important sign that's critical for retailers, he didn't call the sign shop and say, hey bring over something that will give me curb presence and appeal, that will generate foot traffic and will make me a beacon on the shopping ave. And make it nice but not too expensive either, will you? No, when he needed a new sign for his business, my dad made his own sign. He got together a mighty stack of two by fours and fashioned them into the name of the store and then wrapped each letter in tin that he carefully bolted to the wooden letter carcass. He then primed the tin letters in yellow paint, curious, and finished up with bright red. Those letters he made in the adolescence of his business life served as his only sign for almost 40 years.

When he retired, the sign came down as the business sold. I was there the day that truck loads and truck loads of a bygone career were taken to the dump. A huge pile of the big red letters were in line, en route to their own private Auschwitz at the county landfill. I reacted in instant horror, pleading with my brothers for a stay for the noble letters. But to no avail; of what possible value were these letters to any of us now? Undaunted, I was able to furtively get the letters back to The 'Kan in time to avoid their certain demise and for no one to know that they were being mothballed at the storage facility of my business, their future certain but with an uncertain destination.

I don't remember when exactly I realized that the time had come for the red letters to light up the skyline again but it was with sheer glee, and pride, that I spied one of the big red letters on my new office floor last week, the movers having executed the procurement request from storage. I wanted just one, one special letter, to hang in my new office with the perfect view of a most beautiful world, a view and world that feeds my soul as my mind spins out solutions and solves complex problems.

That one special letter hangs on my wall now and I think of my dad. Proud graduate of IDAHO, Harvard Business School, Navy veteran with war service on the Pacific, father of four children, son, brother. I am proud of my dad and proud of his store in my beloved hometown and proud of the contributions that he made to our community. But that's not what I think of when I stare at the letter as I am on the phone or thinking about something problematic.

I think about my dad and know that we are each responsible for our own well being. My dad had never made a sign before. Apparently he couldn't afford to have a sign made. Neither stopped him. I wasn't there but I guarantee you he laid it out with pencil and paper, got together two by fours and tin on a Saturday morning and by Monday noon, was hanging letters on his store front. Didn't use a graphic designer. Didn't use an engineer. I don't even know if he used new two by fours. He needed a sign and so he made one.

We all make our own way. Some days it goes a little faster than others. But ultimately, our journey will be complete, and successful, when we can look back and know that we responded with ingenuity, desire, and tenacity and never gave in to boredom, skepticism, despair or defeat.

You've been gone seven years now, Dad, and I still think of you every day. I hope you are better. While I didn't know you when you were young, I bet I would have liked and respected you. I hope you can say the same about me.



JBelle
Bellemaison
The 'Kan EWA

19 comments:

PDX Pup said...

OMG! The letters! I have always LOVED the letters and have been anxiously awaiting their return! Southwark Lad and I have had some contentious debates over whose SoHo/Pearl District loft they will hang in...Magnifico! I'm glad to see it! I think it's a perfect fit, and I'm sure Pom would agree!

the psycho therapist said...

Thought-provoking, beautifully written, as always...

never gave in to boredom, skepticism, despair or defeat...

I don't know, Schmeebsie, I do not know. You and I don't necessarily enter from the same paradigm stage door and this could be o' dem times. You see, even though I know you use the qualifier "give in" in this statement, there are times when I'm of the awareness this is called for, just what the doctor ordered, in point of fact. I find giving all feelings permission to be whatever they are, to the degree they are, to be a vital step in the healing process...that very thing to get us to the proverbial "light".
I vote for acceptance of "it" as "it" is in all "its" myriad of forms.

Perhaps we come from the same place on this and it is hairs I am splitting...I cannot be certain in such a narrow window as this comment section. I know we agree more than we disagree and I know we respect and care deeply for one another so I will leave this at that. (lol)

You are a strong woman, the result of a powerful alchemy. It sounds as if your father's "metal" and "meddle" was in your cauldron's mix and, for that, you give thanks. I cannot imagine he would be anything less than proud and in awe of your beingness. You share more than blood.

Blessings to you and your new office space. I can feel the wind from here. Your "windows" are toujours open...

:)


Hey, nice view!


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green libertarian said...

Your Dad is doing just fine, Jbelle, much better, much much better. I get this directly from the spirits in the material world.

As you know, the view from the upper floors of the America West Bank building is the best, you can see the solar panels we put up on the Community Building, and soon, the 100 or so panels we'll be putting up on the old Hotel Saranac.

But ultimately, our journey will be complete, and successful, when we can look back and know that we responded with ingenuity, desire, and tenacity and never gave in to boredom, skepticism, despair or defeat.

Very well said.

MarmiteToasty said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the psycho therapist said...

PS Responding with ingenuity, desire and tenacity is a soul goal. I also like "integrity" and "authenticity", which you happen to have in spades!!!!!!!!!!

You flippin' GODDESS, you.


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MarmiteToasty said...

Gawds sake!!!!

Christ :( - Ive read this most beautiful post 3 or 4 times, each time stepping away from the screen to blow me nose and wipe me eyes....

Such love, such wonderful love..... oh how proud you dad would have been of you and your family..... he would be plucking them chest hairs out with proudness...... when I look at that huge red 'M' it makes this warmth come over me bubbling inside... I keep going back to the picture to have that feeling over and over..... sigh....

God!! To have had a father like your dad must of been heaven itself..... keep all precious memories forever....

My dad hated me.... I suppose he had his reasons.... I know of them now, but I to this day can not believe them, but then there is so much unbelieveable shit that went on...... I remember once when I was about 10... it must of been a day when I had my Brave Head on lol...... I remember it as if it was yesterday, as I do all my memories..... I said to him..'I know you dont love me, but do you like me just a little' ... he knocked me across the room LOL there was my answer..... I also remember back before then, I must of been about 7/8 and one of me brothers was 9/10, and we was sitting on the top of the stairs planning how we was gonna kill him when we was adults and dump his body in the river that ran through the dumps at the bottom of the close where we lived lol (that river was actually a stream and only about 3 foot deep lmfao)... my brother told my dad and I had to have the week off of school cos of the beating lmfao.....

Later in life as an adult I found out why he hated me so much..... they were NOT justifiable.. oh well... so many memories.... shit I think I have only ever told 2 people that story..... shutting up now lmfao

But I loved that man to the day he died.... I can truely say that... never got a chance to ask him so many unanswered questions, never got to say goodbye, never got a change to go to the funeral.... such a fucking mess......

The only thing I have of my fathers, is a pair of his glasses.... when all this things were split between my other sister and brothers (not me lol - like the last twisted knife from the grave) - my brother gave me his specticle case... and sometimes I get them out of the cupboard and just hold them......

OK Ive said way way to fucking much..... sorry...... in tears now for the love you had of your wonderful father (((((((((((JBelle)))))))))xxx

x

the psycho therapist said...

That took great courage, Marmy. Great, great courage.

Come close for a moment and let me tell you a secret. No matter what you did as a young child--no matter what pranks or trouble you may or may not have gotten into(and who the heck knows if you even fall into this category, for godssake)--nothing justifies being abused by a parent in any way. No "thing", nothing. An adult mammal has the responsibility to protect and care for its young. Period.

Sadly, there are many humans who fall short of caregiving tasks with the result frequently being a child who blames themselves. Goodness there is much to say about this topic, from the how's and why's to the impact such experiences have over a lifetime.

In my experience, personally and professionally, it is verrrrrrrry normal behavior for children to think and talk about hurting, getting back at, an abusive parent. Your words sound familiar and typical. Ironically, (or not) it is a sign of strength that you were able to give voice to such inner truths at the time as some children hide their emotional pain out of fear. Your willingness to express your suffering by sharing with a trusted source is a sign of mental health. If you would've actually acted on it (which the majority of children do not), that would not be healthy and that doesn't take a neuroscientist to figure out.

Bottom line: you demonstrate courage now and you did then. I applaud your risk-taking here (even if it isn't my blog, lol). I don't think Jbelle minds the loud applause coming from my computer across the thousands of miles. ;)

Love to you. You are not alone. Not now and not then. We humans share the universality of experience known as suffering. I see yours and my heart is fuller and bigger for having done so.

Now I am rambling!

*muah


{{{{M and W and J}}}}

MarmiteToasty said...

Jebus...... almost as many stories about this, as I have on MrFabs site about me pets LMFAO.....

*cough..... I often did speak out... gobby ya see, but it was different back then.. no one to help ya..... but I knew what was right and wrong, so I would speak out and get the beatings... :) thats why Im such a 'well ard' git lmfao......

I could write one of them books lmfao.....

When my lads reached certain ages in life, I would go back to that time in my life and hope that they didnt have the same thoughts about me as I had about my parents at the same age....... god so many stories.... sighhh

x

toadman said...

Wonderfully written story, awesome sentiment...and heart felt. My father is still alive, and I respect him greatly, though we differ in so many ways, and don't communicate well at all.

Also, nice office. Good choice of placement of the letter. I wish I had a view like yours.

Oh, by the way, that little plant looks like it could do with a bit of a watering.

MarmiteToasty said...

ps..... Wendy.... its not the fact that I did anything as a child, it was the fact that I even existed..... ask me another day and maybe I will explain - 'well ard' right? :)

x

jb3ll3 said...

GLib, I am really, really glad to hear that. I think about just that and think about him healthy and well and wonder what that looks like. I was so happy to receive a confirmation number on that thought!

Ah, Sweet, Sweet Mel. Those brothers can be really treacherous, right? I am positive you didn't do one thing to merit your father's rejection. It fact, hear me now, I speak the truth: it's not your fault.

It's not your fault.

It's not your fault.

IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT.

You know, I would not lie to you, patronize you, flatter you, nor gloss over any of the hard realities in life because Sister, we gotta be there for each other. See that' s the part you had no way of knowing: my father was the King of emotionally absent Fathers and it wasn't until he got sick that I became really, really important in his life, critically important in fact, because those brothers had jobs and families and YOU KNOW how much time and effort sick parents take. And my dad was sick and very difficult for a long, long time. So our relationship had two phases: the first one, where he ignored me and would never acknowledge me nor the legitimacy of my existence, despite my accomplishments and character; and the second one, where he abused me and everyone in his wake, in his highly demented state.

So I think about what our relationship might have been like if he hadn't had a daughter to figure out what the heck to do with--he never did figure that one out so he defaulted in favor of control until the evening he died. And he did an absolutely beautiful job of that.

Mel, I just reread your note, again, and I certain of what occured to me the first time I read it: your dad didn't hate you. Your dad hated his life and was very, very angry and you were sadly, tragically,cruelly where he acted on that keen unhappiness. What happened between you and him was not your fault. It was very bad luck for you to get him. I like to say that my dad wasn't much of a dad but he was the only one I had. ANd I work, still, to find his goodness and wholeness and cherish that. Frankly, I'd rather clean toilets in an Exxon as it would be much easier and nicer work but the pay on this work is better so I persist. If I prevail, I'll let you know. :)

Your Holiness, thank you for being a sweet, soft light on my path. You make it easier.

All for now. And Toad, that plant does not need watering, but pruning instead, which I did yesterday. More on the cactuses later. xo

jb3ll3 said...

Pup, Those letters have toughed it out and made it to 2007. what's to become of them? They have survived too many close calls to go to the dump now. Sell the furniture, auction the art, put the jeweley and the silver, china and crystal on consignment. But those damn letters--don't let go of the letters, okay?

the psycho therapist said...

Your dad hated his life and was very, very angry and you were sadly, tragically,cruelly where he acted on that keen unhappiness.

Yes, and...

been there, wrote the book, bought the t-shirt and have been spending the better part of this lifetime trying to transmute that garment into pure white light...not unlike cleaning toilets, metaphorically speaking, heh.

*sigh

*breathing in, breathing out

Schmeebs, thanks for the reminder. It's always good to see the projection returned to its rightful owner.

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MarmiteToasty said...

If only you knew!!! sigh!! If only someone knew!!!....sigh!!

x

toadman said...

"Sell the furniture, auction the art, put the jeweley and the silver, china and crystal on consignment."

You forgot "And give toad the CD collection and DVD collection." I am in the will, am I not?

jb3ll3 said...

You are in the will and I think you are going to be pleased with me when the time comes. I will gratified for all time that you and ToadGirl named your third child for me. Belle. It's a gorgeous name.

Duffer said...

JBelle,
I've been racking my mind trying to figure out what business your father operated. I've been in your apparent hometown for 40 years, but can't come up with a name where the "M" was displayed. Would you give me a hint?
Thanks,
Duffer

jb3ll3 said...

Duffer, oh my! we'll have to connect at the HBO blogfest!

green libertarian said...

WHAT
REALLY
MORE
CAN
BE
SAID
HERE?

Jesus.
JESUS!

The outpouring here has blown me away, and humbled me.
/drying tears

(((((Marm)))))