Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Freedom, Rhetoric and Poetry

Yesterday, the kids and I were awakened by an early morning phone call (not my phone) with a request from Bella to join her at her place to watch the presidential inauguration on her big screen television. Being the dutiful friend, and enticed by the romance of red, white, and blue donuts, the kids and I headed over to partake in the history making.
On my way to get said donuts, I began to make observations of the folks who weren't in front of the TV, or listening to the radio. 
Didn't they care? I thought most of Eugene voted for Obama.
What about those old guys? The TV was playing at the donut shop, but they couldn't see what was happening. Maybe they'd watch the swearing in ceremony. 
What about those boys? Those wandering smoking boys in black? Didn't they want to witness history rather than goofing about?
We watched the inauguration, but what I had looked forward to was something I hadn't recalled noticing in the soundbites of previous inaugurations, and that was the reciting of an inaugural poem. 
At the end of the inaugural celebration, I was glad that they mixed rhetoric with the art of poetry. 
When I was six, and wanted to be a poet, the author of "Praise Song for the Day" Elizabeth Alexander, was only a few years older than me. My quick research reveals that when I was six, she lived in Washington D.C, as her father was a law professor at Howard University. At this time my dad was either an oil truck driver, or a cab driver. 
Here's her poem:

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Elizabeth Alexander

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pajamas Day

This morning as I sat on our leather couch in the living room, I yelled at a lady running by, "Lift YOUR legs!"
I'm still in my comfy, flannel snow globe pajamas.
I woke up not at the crack of dawn, but what seemed a reasonable hour to read the paper. Evander was up about 8A, we had some snuggle time on the couch, but just enough to cause severe sleepiness in me, and call a "do over" to waking up.
I rejoined the husband (notoriously a late sleeper) and pretended to be asleep until about 9:30A, too late for my George W. to make me coffee. It's 11:16A, and I guess I missed the barista boat (as if I'd make my own coffee).
I'm to "Part 2" of The Middle Place, and very much enjoying the read. Will share more later.
I am in the middle of eating the potatoes Evander helped me make using our corer/peeler/slicer.
 Although it is Sunday, all but Paul skipped church, as Emma had a sleepover guest still here from the night before. The girls joined me for potatoes, and then hurriedly dressed for their swim meet this afternoon. The other girl's mom arrived and volunteered for chauffeur services, including the return drive. But before I could reintroduce myself to the potatoes, Paul calls saying EK has invited us to breakfast after church.
EK and her family have just begun "attending" our church, so I couldn't figure out how she invited us over, just like that. Friends for ions, I was all teary last Sunday when she and her family, including her parents, sat a few rows in front of us. I love these dear people, so it was an honor for them to be at our strange little fellowship.
So, I didn't confess to Paul that I had a mouthful of potatoes, and gladly accepted the invite. What to wear? I will stay in my pajamas. 

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Good Times 2008

I was going to end this post with this photo, but here it is, first.
In November, I almost didn't have these two loved ones in my life. But by the Grace of God, they are still on this earth. 
This post is a backward overview of my year. As in every year, and every day, I do not know what my story will be in advance. If I would have known this past year's script, I would most likely have given it back to it's Author. Perhaps I would want to give it back every year if I had a choice. But I believe that I am the creation, and that my story is being created, along with those whose paths I cross on this journey. My Creator is merciful, yet does not allow me to live and learn in this life without suffering.
Yet, here I am, accounting only some of the moments of joy I experienced over the year.
The above photo of Bella and babe was snapped at a location where I had always wanted to travel-Ft. Rock, Oregon. Otherwise known as the middle of nowhere. Just a couple weeks previously, our Cascade Lakes Relay team ran near this location, however, this was in the dark, so I couldn't see the beauty this place had to offer. 
Here are some of my favorite photos from the year (Bella took some, I took some, and so did the T-man):
Evander's "friend" birthday party, rock climbing at a local school gym.

New for me this year, is the whole facebook phenomenon. A friend introduced me to fb in September, and am admittedly hooked, for better or worse. I can quit at any time. At any rate, these photos are from Em's and my wonderful November trip to Seattle.

My staged facebook photo at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass concert.
 My husband is a great get along guy. 

Dan and Patty's wedding was the highlight of September.

One of my favorite photos-ever. Camping in August with great friends.

This guy lights my fire.

A fantastic day at Mt. Hope's welcoming home.

An average Oregon summer's activity.

Some of my favorite kids in my backyard for my birthday celebration.

Family Soccer Organization at it's best.

The brunch after the Eugene Half Marathon 2008.

Oh yeah, we went to Disney World with some close family friends.

This is the day we enjoyed a great fondue spread, as well as having learned about 
baby Owen being on the way.

Kes cutting up with Bud at Emma's b-day celebration. Their visit include a hike up Spencer's Butte, just Bud and me while the rest of Eugene slept.

Taken at Emma's thirteenth birthday party. Just a few of the wonderful ladies who are part of the village that is helping me raise my girl.

A surprise from Indiana.

February's surprising joy in Indiana.