Stuck in the Middle!

How this giant, metal tube even makes it airborne is a mystery in the first place, but equally mysterious is how fellow passengers can for hours of motion and constant white noise be content to keep window shades down, eyes glued to phones, and be silent except for the momentary few mumbled syllables deemed necessary when trying not to step on each other while edging bodies into these narrow aisles and hard cushioned excuses for seats.

How can the people around me on both sides of the aisle be content with taking off and hurtling through the atmosphere without glimpsing the world outside? A mystery. But also, an irritation for the powerless one in the middle. No control. Penned in. Victim of turbulence, exercising blind faith that we are really flying and not in a fake simulator, part of some grand experiment—or hoax.

To top it off, having to wear a mask accentuates the feeling of claustrophobia—trapped side to side, front to back by non-communicative people, also hidden behind their masks. Does no one like clouds at 33,000 feet anymore? Does no one like to check now and again to make sure the engines are still attached to the wing? With no view to the big, wide world, how am I supposed to know what part of the USA I am going to crash into should this turbulence continue to shake the metal bolts apart that hold this tube together? How will I know the correct time to start a rousing verse of “Abide with Me” if I have no visual cues as to our elevation?

But here I sit in the middle, the squishing, you-don’t-deserve-an-armrest middle, nose running, face hot, eyes staring straight ahead at the pixelated screen with a black and white cartoon jet making ever so slow progress on the line from Dallas / Fort Worth to LAX. I accepted the sugary soda and the dry, round pretzels from the anonymous attendant not because the meagre offerings would assuage my hunger, but just for an excuse to take off my mask and breathe the recycled air more freely.

Interesting that: The miracle of covid is such that if you eat the junk food offerings without a mask, you are afforded an uncanny measure of protection from all things viral. It’s like a pretzel force field descends while you munch, or why else would our all-knowing handlers allow it? Of course, none of it makes any sense.

Once finished, the mask has to go on again, or you will be firmly reminded that the force field has been lifted, making everyone once again vulnerable. It apparently has a short shelf life. Again, I slip into the cone of silence, those on either side still staring at their phones, all windows closed tight in the steely, grey cabin light.

Footnote:

On the long flight home, once again I ended up in the middle. The person by the window slept and snored on taxiing, slept and snored on take off and ascent. He was so out of it, I decided to risk lifting the window shade by him. He never stirred except for his vigorous exhalation, so I enjoyed my cloudy view over his inert body for many aerial miles. Some time later with the rising of the sun, he woke up briefly to notice his shade was up. He slammed it down with vigor and went back to snoring. Of course, I looked straight ahead and said not a word; though I was formulating a lie in my head about the naughty attendant who had possibly desecrated his space.

Next time I need to take a long trip, I am going by car where I can always be guaranteed a window seat and plenty of leg room.

Beep Bleep

My life is full of beeps.

The toaster beeps, starting and finishing;

the microwave beeps;

the new dryer has a honking grating beep when done;

my phone beeps–even in the middle of the night, warning me to look out for a bad person driving a whatever (Excuse me, I was asleep, not on the freeway!);

the fridge that came with the house is grand, but it too beeps if I leave the door open too long;

our new van has all manner of beeps–the seat belt alert, the front and back warning (You are getting closer, closer, TOO CLOSE!); and even though a car is not in the lane beside, it seems to know that the car beyond is considering speeding up, so BEEP, don’t make a move!

Our toothbrushes, razors, and other little rechargeable do-dads beep when getting low on battery and when charging is complete, and

with all the troubles, I have come to feel like the whole world is getting ready to give one massive beep.

Under my covers I go.

When I Was Young . . .

When I was young, I dreamed big dreams of earth and sky,

of progress and promise.

Context was safety, and I was so safe as to not know what real danger even looked like.

Though it would not have been right to stay in that cocoon of love and acceptance,

I often wonder

if that young girl had known what was really afoot in the wide, wide world,

the wild, wild real world,

would she have dared to traipse beyond the green fields,

the treehouses, and sandy riverbanks,

the hot-breath Holsteins, the feral cats made tame,

the safety of happiness, of home?

Would she have dared to sling a Harmony archtop guitar over her shoulder and run headlong into the unknown,

to explore the more complicated

and often darker underbelly of the world.

Probably.

But can I go back home now?

Small Moves and Big Moves

This large pot of CA poppies was thriving–big, beautiful blooms, luscious and prolific–until they weren’t!

The plant had gotten so big that it overshadowed the Cape honeysuckle planted in the ground beside it, so I decided to move the poppies about 6″ to the right and a quarter turn. No biggie. Just to give my honeysuckle more breathing room.

Within minutes, not hours, the whole plant sighed and sank. It looked like it was dying. It went from vibrancy to pathetic in literally minutes! I have never seen anything like it. Who knew that such a small, insignificant move could destroy the spirit of such a glorious display, and yet . . .

We are moving. A much bigger move! I am not wilting just yet, but I am exhausted and really tired of the tension of the process. I am hoping my poppy pot is not a future metaphor for my reaction to such a radical change at my age. Maybe moving more than 6″ is key. I will survive it.

Back Again . . .

I haven’t posted for awhile since WP logged me out somehow, and with all the craziness in our lives right now, I couldn’t remember my password! Oy!

We have dismantled our house and loaded a container in preparation for a move to Texas. Things are moving slowly with too many hiccups to count, so we are living bare bones.

But once we move, hopefully I will have new flora and fauna to fill up my pages.

Hope you all are enjoying the approach of summer and living covid free!

“Cats in the Cradle” and Other Untruths

82200214_10157070552970748_4702658291954614272_n (2)

Sandy and Harry Chapin wrote a song in the 70s called “Cats in the Cradle,” which told the story of a parent too busy to be involved in his child’s life; then, when the parent is retired and free of obligation and wants to get together with the child, who has since grown up with responsibilities of his own, the parent is filled with regret because the child gives the same excuses that he once used for not spending time. 

I remember being impacted by the weight of the message; and though it in no way was the situation in my own home, I knew it probably applied to others who were so into themselves and their careers that they did not meet their children’s need for relationship and connection. And I knew that would be a very bad thing: tut, tut. So the lesson is a good one–to make use of the time you have because soon it will be gone.

Implied, though, is that if you invest totally in child rearing that the relationship with an adult child will not be distant and will be satisfying for all. Except that is not always the case. A parent can be totally present, involved, and committed with time, energy, and money; and yet, the adult child does not take the time and effort to connect consistently and stay close.

My experience: Even after a long, hard day working the fields, milking cows, and in the winter, driving the snowplough, my dad always took the time to watch cartoons with us or play a round of softball. Mom was a stay-at-home mom and was always present–too present sometimes because being present meant if you did something wrong, you got caught immediately.  They were our biggest fans–always at our performances or games or whatever we were involved in. They drove us on long trips to church camps and gatherings when it would have been much easier (and cheaper) I’m sure to stay home and rest. They were present and involved both physically and emotionally.

So when I, who had a bad case of wanderlust, thought going to college at a school much further away than my sisters and brother was a superb idea, they supported me and all of my dreams, though looking back, some were definitely a bit squirrely. They were in my corner 100%.

When I moved to California, even though I wrote and performed songs about them and our close relationship, I seldom called because it was too expensive for me. Of course, I didn’t write either, though there was nothing wrong with my arms. It was more a case of living life with zest and knowing my folks were there somewhere in the background rooting me on–though without any updates on my exploits, they had no idea what I was doing or whom I was with. (I didn’t either all the time, which is rather terrifying to look back on.) Sometimes, I would get lonesome and call home. I would let it ring, but then I would hang up before they answered because I couldn’t afford the call. Somehow that felt like I had touched home; but obviously, it was more than lacking on both our parts and especially theirs who had no idea what I was doing. Dad told me later when I confessed to that practice that I should have called collect. And yes, I should have.

Mom and Dad visited out here in CA once, and our family drove back to Canada every so often; but now that they are gone, I regret how much time I let slip by without contact. I felt close to them, but in many ways, I was living off old memories rather than creating enough new ones. They raised us kids to be independent, but for some reason, the busyness of career and raising a family crowded out what I see now as a lack in my devotion to my parents and my obligation to give back. They were always there for me, and even though far away, I could have done much more to stay connected.

So the “Cats in the Cradle” guilt trip may apply to some who neglect their kids and are not involved and present, but there is just as much guilt to go around for some of us who got it all and still went traipsing off, living life, without looking back–at least, not often enough.

Maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. My parents would not have wanted me tied to their apron strings, and they were proud of my traveling music ministry, my family, and my accomplishments, but when I re-evaluate the “more” that I could have done to stay connected, I have regrets.