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Today in My History

2000: Ptui!
2001: Somebody Stop Me!
2002: How to Complicate Almost Anything
2003: Playing Doctor
2004: #9 Call Bulletin
2005: First Blood

2006: A Fleeting Wisp of Glory
2007: Internet Narcissist
2008: California's Prop 99
At Loose Ends
2010:  A Good Friday
2011:  Why?

Bitter Hack
Updated: 3/28
"True West"

Books Read in 2012
 Updated: 3/29
"Cutting for Stone"

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My 70th Year

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My 70th Year



3 April 2012

I guess you would call Swap Bot a social media site.  It's where people who like to send "stuff" to other people gather.  Not being a crafty person, I don't participate much, but I do, from time to time, sign up to participate in mostly pen pal sorts of activities.

Yesterday, for example, I wrote a letter for "Appreciation of Mothers."  The idea was to send your favorite "Mom" memory to another person on the list.  I wrote the person I was paired with a brief history of my mother and included my favorite memory, which is the sight of her sitting at a table (I have dozens of pictures of her sitting at various tables) peeling apples in preparation for making an apple pie.  She was one of those who peeled her apple in one strip and she saved the peelings for Karen and me, and we loved to sneak those thin slices of apples, all sugary and cinnamon-y.  She made her own crust from scratch too, and made little sugar pies for us out of the left-overs.

It's sad that she doesn't remember how to cook any more and that the height of her "creativity" these days is deciding which of the "green boxes" in the freezer she will microwave for dinner...if she remembers to eat.   She sometimes doesn't.

On Easter, we are splitting up again.  Walt will go to his brother's house, as will their sister, and be with the big crowd there. I will fix dinner for my mother, who doesn't like large crowds any more.  I was going to make a small roast lamb for her, since we both love lamb.  But the small roast I found today costs $35 and I decided perhaps is a better choice!

Another SwapBot swap that I signed up was to send a poem to 3 people on a post card.  I am not a poetry person, but I thought it would be an opportunity to introduce my 3 partners to the works of my sister Karen.

After she died, we found a bunch of poems that Karen had written and in the year after her death, I typed them up and had them bound into a book to give to both my mother and my father.  I used one of them to print on the back of this postcard:

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This is the poem, written April 7, 1970, that I printed on the back:

The fog rolls in under the Golden Gate
And, spreading her fingers wide,
She reaches out to touch
Every nook and cranny of the city

Enveloping alll, she covers them
With a blanket of refreshing dew.

I walk out at twilight,
Reach out my hand,
And greet the moist fingers of fog
Which surround me

Choosing the poem, however, made me read through the whole book again.  It's a short book.  She didn't leave a lot of poetry, but she seems to have written poetry when she was at her most "down."

Karen came out as a lesbian in her senior year in high school and she moved in with a partner.  The partner was an older woman and the story I was told was that she picked up young girls and then when they got older, dumped them for someone else.   It sounds like the sort of stereotypical stories that floated around in those days, before PFLAG, before gay pride, when police were still raiding bars and throwing gay men in paddy wagons if they looked at other men at all.  My parents were still thinking they had done something wrong.

She kept a very secret life with her first partner, but her poetry reflects the pain she suffered,

"Why why, WHY?  Why can't life be simple and sweet, and uncomplicated," she asked at one point.

In a poem called "Night" she wrote,

Night is the time when I misse you most
At night is when to have you near means so much--
Not caressing me or even touching me-- But to
Know that all I need do to fine you -- to feel your warmth --
Is to reach out-- and find you there.
That I miss!
Good night, you in the next room.

She wrote

To hold a hand
To feel its strength
To know its warmth
To experience its soft caress
To respond to its pressure
To know that hand like your own
To recognize it in a dark room
To have it withdrawn
To miss it when it is gone.

The book is full of such sadness, such isolation at a time when she was supposedly in a happy relationship.  The last poem says it all

empty words
written on an empty page
signifying nothing
from an empty brain

I wish David had known her.  This is the stuff he would have written, and would have talked with her about.

She eventually found another love in her life and we were happy because Karen seemed happier than she had been in a long time, and even came back to the family,briefly and we had the potential of being friends for the first time in our lives.

Until her lover shot her in the head.  She died September 13, 1971, when I was pregnant with David.  I often thought, through his growing up years, that somehow she had been reincarnated in him...he was as frustrating as she was. 

I miss ya, Karen.


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The faithful dog waits patiently for our return.


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