Saturday, August 29, 2009

I watched Ted Kennedy's funeral mass this morning, as I watched Obama's inauguration, Bush's first inauguration, Reagan's funeral, JFK's funeral and every single episode of West Wing ever taped. I love this stuff.

I have been slow to warm to Ted Kennedy's late life renaissance; his strong appetites and young second wife never helped me to take him seriously as a statesman or political figure of stature. But the people from both sides of the aisle who mourn and grieve his death have made me know that they, along with many others, saw a side of him that was not visible to me; the fervent, unconditional endorsement of his children as a world class father gives him a credential that even Ronald Reagan never was able to obtain. So I settled in after cardio this morning to watch his people say good bye to him. I was touched many, many times.

A few observations:

Only in America, only in NORTH America, do the television commentators have to explain the aspects of the Catholic mass, the rite of worship from which all other Christian rites of worship fall. Lord Have Mercy.

Many people, all Republican, still hold Mary Jo Kopechne and dissolute living against Ted Kennedy. I suspect most of those people are Protestants as redemption is something that Protestants just don't or refuse to understand. We were taught redemption in only the most academic of manners as young Protestants. But Ted Kennedy was a living model of redemption, of a man who kept working at getting it right and finally, late in life, succeeded. The power of redemption is holy and is one of the most underrated things of life in the New Millennium and it's a little more real and actual than the blood of Jesus washing away the "sins" of "man". Kennedy was a sinner among sinners, but he never gave up and never gave in to failure or tragedy, nor let his heart become bitter and hardened.

As long as we're on Protestants and their numerous shortcomings, I think one of the major failures of the Protestants is not teaching the papacy and why The Holy Father Himself is critical to the Protestant doctrines. Why don't good little Presbyterian and Baptist boys and girls have an understanding of The Pope and his authority and stature in Christianity? Ted Kennedy, like many people in political service, was a deep and devoted follower of American History and believed you couldn't go forward until you fully understood where you came from.

One of his sons eulogized Senator Kennedy as a guy who taught him to like Republicans and briefly discussed the obvious value of such. Right on Brother! Much of the civility and dignity has gone out of politics in recent years; the atmosphere of holding each other in a certain regard irrespective of party affiliations is something many American voters, including me, long for. I am reminded of Ron Rankin of Kootenai County in Idaho, a tried and true Republican if there ever was one; in fact, a Newt Gingrich Republican. But Mr. Rankin, as I knew him, was different because he maintained relationships with everyone and worked with anybody in a effort to lower taxes and reduce government. Mr. Rankin was an easy guy to respect, like his mantra or not, and a guy willing to do what it took within the bounds of decency to deliver outcomes for the taxpayers of his district. Ron Rankin was as partisan as they came and fiercely defended the tenets of the GOP platform, yet he never lost his civility nor his sense of humor. I yearn for relational politics instead of transactional politics.

President George W. Bush was there, looking sad and miserable. Could it be that he, too, longs for redemption? I give Mr. Bush Big Ups for showing up.

My favorite quote of the Senator Kennedy's is this: Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good. He was speaking in reference to enacting legislation but for people like me, this is a short and simple warning about the seductions afoot regarding things in life that just aren't art forms. Like life itself, for instance.

The message of his sons' remarks about him was hope and redemption: "The work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on." --August 2008, from his address to the Democratic National Convention

But my favorite, except for what Ken Burns said on the night Mr. Kennedy died, is what Alfred, Lord Tennyson said and Mr. Kennedy's nephew repeated in The Prayers of The Faithful:

May it be said of us now:

"I am part of all that I have met;
For much is taken, much abides.
That which we are, we are.
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Strong in will.
To strive, to seek, to find
and not to yield. "

May God have mercy on us all.

The 'Kan EWA

Sunday, August 23, 2009

So. I get my hair cut in Seattle. There's a true confession! I don't tell anyone because the few times I have tested the waters with this disclosure, mentioning casually over dinner that I go to Seattle every 6 weeks to visit Anthony, to receive absolution and indulgences, the response is something like, or exactly like, this: you are such a Prima Donna!

And that may be true. I'll have to think about that sometime. But I doubt being seen as a self-indulgent and narcissistic will deter me. The experience is far too nourishing. Yesterday, in a fit of utter hedonistic abandon, I had my fingers and toes groomed and painted, too. They assure me this act is entirely legal in the state of Washington but it feels so good, is so fine, and is so completely decadent, how could it possibly be legal? As I write, my fingertips flash with gleaming tips of ebony, soothing my soul yet stirring little tiny sparks within me that crackle and sparkle in the wake of my keyboard. Anthony the hairdresser and his colleagues seek, find, and sort out some of my higher, heart felt, fondest, and most secret of expressions. Wasn't there a show tune about this? Doris Day? I Enjoy Being a Girl.

Women never painted in the Renaissance; they did not decorate the Pharaoh's tombs nor were they allowed to sculpt the angels for the great bridges in Europe. Women necessarily moved to other forms of expression early on; their home, their hobbies, certainly their children and some, themselves. Their jewelry, their shoes, their colors and their make up all became channels through which they expressed their fondest beliefs about the beauty around them, about what happened today, about what they want or what they are hoping for tomorrow. Hair and nails and clothes? It's all expression. They are just trying to have a word with you.

And just as Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and all the other American patriots who crafted the White Paper behind the US of A would assert, you cannot deny anyone their expression; politically or but especially otherwise. You cannot deny a woman her expression and her thoughts about the glory of the universe and of life around her because it's just not American. (Please insert the tiniest of winks here.) So be careful when you start throwing that Prima Donna stuff around. And thus with perfectly cut, smooth shiny hair and silky fingers and toes, I adjourned to Pike Street and set out to walk that eternal flame of unconditional love and understanding, the market. Can't we understand much of everything about a people and where they live by what they are selling and buying at the market?

I have never been to a market anywhere in the world where I have not gained a higher and better appreciation for people and how they really live and what they have to do each day in their life in that community. The market knows all and tells all. I recall the Muslim women in the south of France on a hot summer's day, studiously examining the frilly, fussy, lacy, gaudy-colored lingerie--they in their dark, large head scarves and chin to toes woolen chadors and dresses. I remember, distinctly, the tiny, tiny wizened Vietnamese woman who had split rice sacks in two, sewn on handles and stood at the market in Dalat selling her rice sack shopping bags, for 11 cents USD; the market in Moscow, Russia with thousands of cheap replicas of Soviet military uniforms and gear, obviously mass-produced in China. And the market in Hilo, Hawaii where the Japanese sell exotic fruits they grow in their back yards; the handfuls of violets for sale at the market in Notting Hill in London....

I prowled along First Street in that bad ass car of mine, looking for a parking place, the moon roof gliding open to the effervescent Seattle sky just as Spencer Davis rocked the car's sound system with Gimme Some Lovin'. I turned into the market at the brass pig and waited while the Asian tourists in front of me driving a mini-van with Florida plates sorted an entire family out and back in the van again; then crept along, resuming my search for a parking place, stopping dead in the middle of the street for the jaywalking artist who jumped off the curb into the fray of the Pike Street Market, scurrying across the scree of comings and goings to his stall lugging canvases and easels. It was worth it because as he touched down on the opposite curb, he turned and flashed me an over-the-shoulder smile, mouthing a little tiny 'thanks'. I found my spot St. Anthony does it again! got out of the car and walked in the perfect 63 degree Seattle air, cool and frothy. Wearing flip flops.

I never wear flip flips in public. Just don't do it. But on this day, at least for one time I had something to say, and on this perfect morning, this peridot of all mornings, I was going to say it.

The 'Kan EWA

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Father Joe Small S. J.

He's walking with me, at my elbow at every turn this week. I still miss him, miss his high-grade pure self that is the simplest, the most common of denominators, absent from anything disingenuous or toxic. Just in case you don't have time to link back to what he's telling me these days, again, the essence of Joe was and is this:

"THIS IS THE TRUTH: you will never be free until you love, or try to love, every person you meet; and try to forgive every person that hurt you. Until that happens, you will never be free."

Be good to each other and be good to you. Get free.

The 'Kan EWA

Monday, August 17, 2009

So while I was prowling around way in the back of my garden, I found exactly four leaves on the Burning Bush that have turned red. My friend Christy has started her tomato canning/salsa liturgy. The annuals have now grown into magazine cover status and the birds are free to flit and sing throughout the garden, with no attendant worries of babies. You know what this means.

I have always loved Southern California because of my Grandma Belle ties; I loved that woman dearly even though I am a replica of the other grandma, that Timberlake Queen, Bula Grace. But it was in a distracted, spectator manner that I loved/love SoCal, despite those damn jacaranda trees, camellias and agapanthas, because I could never live in anyone or anywhere where the Four Seasons were unknown. I love the seasons and live deeply by them. But lately, I do think I could give an endless summer a try.

Is it because I love summer more? My days are now so different in summer; no racing to Seattle or Vancouver for the weekend with a Suburban full of soccer girls. No reload after reload for a hyper busy boy too curious and involved for his own good. No running back and forth to Coeur d'Alene on errands of mercy, exercises in frustration. No swim team practice, no art school classes, no pool parties, no firecracker shorts, no birthday cakes, no sunsets along a wide sky on the way home, no back to school sales.

None. Now that I devote myself to what holds my interest, the days do not seem long enough or satisfying enough to let go of and I love them/need them, the hours of exploration and contemplation, more than I ever have. A conundrum to be sure. Has life become something of an art form?

And my long ago Jewish heritage that I thought was a little later in my personal evolution that might make either of my grandmothers comfortable, seems much, much father away these days as I just do not like fall and the new year as I once did.

I'm changing again. As the tee shirt I bought in Seattle last weekend says,

It's all good.

The 'Kan EWA
You're right again! It IS time for another Rumi poem. Go out there today and give someone your very best love. Without cause.

Love is reckless; not reason.
Reason seeks a profit.
Love comes on strong,
consuming herself, unabashed.

Yet, in the midst of suffering,
Love proceeds like a millstone,
hard surfaced and straightforward.

Having died of self-interest,
she risks everything and asks for nothing.
Love gambles away every gift God bestows.

Without cause God gave us Being;
without cause, give it back again.

`Mathnawi VI, 1967-1974

The 'Kan EWA

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Oh, I agree. An update is in order. Because it's all about me! I know you are dying to know what's been going on.

Summer. That's been going on. One of my friends, EMiss, was tittering at me when I was telling her about the garden, saying, It's the most beautiful it's ever been. She snickered, you. you! you say that everrrrry year.

Do I now? Well then; that's because it's TRUE. The garden was/is fabulous. At the moment, it's in summer dormancy. Summer dormancy is that period of time it lays back and regroups for the big early fall showing. Like between the Sunday matinee and the Sunday evening curtain? right. Like that. But me being me, you know it's now that the show is over and lights are down low that I love to love my garden. The roses have quit blooming, the lilacs and the rhododendrons are well done for the year and the light colored perennials have all wilted in the Leonine heat. It's in August that I watch, honestly? for hours, everyone, anyone who wants to come to my garden and eat. The birds have hatched, nursed and evacuated those babies so they delight in bathing and sampling anything and everything; the squirrels continue their summer solstice gorge; razorbacks!; the dragonflies patrol for aphids; the bees noisily slurp the water and greedily attack the nectar; butterflies by the hundreds nibble bronze fennel; the neighborhood cats come and nosh on catnip until they are quite drunk; everybody indulges with abandon at Bellemaison this time of year. And I just love that. It took me five years to get rid of the chemicals that had been previously in use here and ten years to plant a plethora of things including berries, vines, blossoms, herbs, hips, roots, leaves and stems that everyone would love to love but I got it done. So now they have plenty to eat and nothing will harm them here, except for their natural predators.

I finally have what I wanted to be in the garden at Bellemaison and Saturday mornings are an orgy, a love fest, between me and those who love my garden too. We feed each other.

ohhh, the pleasure between lovers.

The 'Kan EWA

Monday, August 10, 2009

And I'm back.

yes, we Idaho'd up the boys from Noo York Citty. Let's just say with a big wink and a little swagger that we elevated their consciousness. We await the return engagement in the middle of September with great anticipation; we can and do bring it around here. And we are unlike any place in the entire world.

These days I am plagued and challenged by my least favorite of anything: herding cats. I do not like herding cats. But because I am high challenge and detail oriented I usually have a good outcome. But I lose my best self everytime. Every damn time. But I'll get it done.

The 'Kan EWA