Colder Weather

Cold and crisp here in Wilmington this morning – in the 30’s – feels like a cold, crunchy apple.  It sure doesn’t feel like “work”, but that’s where I was headed at 7:30 AM- listening to Zac Brown on my iPod (thank you, Scott) – with my sun roof open – hand raised to the cold -feeling the wind between my fingers.

I’m ready for a fall road trip!  Wanna come?

Fall Road Trip

Pensive Rainy Monday

As my grandson might say… I’m all up inside my head today.

Yesterday we celebrated the first birthday of my youngest grandson.   It was truly a day for celebration and we did it well, if I must say so myself.  Scott and Crystal throw wonderful parties and this was no exception.

So why am I all up inside my head?

Let me ‘splain…

My father (he’s 89 years old) went to visit a urologist last week for problems that he’s been having and they found a tumor in his bladder.  Pretty frightening – especially when his father died of cancer – his sister died of cancer – and his brother has been battling cancer for several years.   His brother’s cancer began with a tumor in his bladder and when they performed a CT scan, they found that the cancer was also in his kidney and so they removed the kidney when they performed the surgery to remove/biopsy the tumor in his bladder..

My father is my only parent.  My mother died in 1985 (I was in my 30’s) from complications following a stroke.  (That’s another story)

So… I know my dad is worried – frightened.  And I am frightened for him.  I am almost 65 years old – with lupus – and I am not able to care for him if he needs care.  He’s in a pretty frightening situation.

We have never had a close relationship.  I think it’s better now that it’s ever been, but it’s not (and most likely won’t be) what he wants it to be.  He would like me to be all mushy-gushy “oh. my dad… my dad” about him but I don’t see that happening..

I would describe my father as manipulative, passive aggressive, emotionally abusive, emotionally dishonest, self-deceiving – and oh!  Did I mention that he’s just plain mean and that he seems to enjoy causing trouble (what I call a pot-stirrer) and that he takes responsibility for nothing? Nothing is ever his fault.

Well, he rode back to my house yesterday after the party (about a 35 minute drive) and for some reason he chose yesterday to tell me how sorry he was that we didn’t have a better relationship and that he knew that he screamed a lot (which was insignificant in the big picture) when I was a kid… BUT… that there was a reason (isn’t there always???) for his behavior.

At that point he proceeded to vilify my mother and present a long list of her sins (as they say… both real and imagined). My mother and I were not close either, so his rantings and voluminous accusations (oh sorry… accusations leave room for doubt.  These were facts  Just ask him!) certainly did not break my heart  (Although I do think it was meant to hurt me as much as acquit him – that’s kind of his M.O.).

Maybe it’s a judgement thing.  I don’t want to judge her.  Her life was loveless.  She was a truly amazing woman who was criminally under-appreciated.  No one should have to live like she lived (Oh wait! I lived there, too, didn’t I?).  He, of course, never mentioned his sins – his affairs.

He claimed that he told me all of those things to improve our relationship (um… really???  I think I must have missed that episode of Dr. Phil.) but that he was afraid the he just made it worse.  And then… he cried.

I feel so badly for him.  The tears could have been more manipulation but I don’t think so.  I think the poor man is just scared to death.  (and of death)

He thinks I haven’t forgiven him. He’s wrong.  If I hadn’t forgiven him, he would not be part of my life – in any way.  The man is toxic, and I’ve been advised (by more than one person) to eliminate him from my life.  Somehow, for me, that doesn’t seem right.  Justifiable? Sure!  But right?  Nope.

I explained it to someone this way…

If my father had beaten me with a stick when I was growing up (which he didn’t. He was not a “hitter”) – and  I had grown up and forgiven him.  I would still be out of my mind if I allowed myself to be in a position where he could do that to me again. It wouldn’t mean that I hadn’t forgiven him.

I have forgiven him.  I would like for his life to be happier.  I would like for him to enjoy my family – his grandchildren and great grandchildren.  He’s welcome in our lives.  With conditions?  You bet your ass!  As long as he’s not abusive – as long as he’s respectful – as long as he doesn’t try to pit people against each other.

Was he any of those things yesterday?  (the good ones, that is)  No, I think he was again manipulative, mean, abusive.  But I also think he’s extremely frightened, so I’ll give him a little latitude, but not a lot.  What was not okay… is still not okay.

This week is his CT scan – surgery scheduled for the 26th of this month.  After the CT scan, I think we’ll know more and we’ll go from there.

One thing that never changes… God is good and He never leaves us – any of us.

Hangin’ out with the robins

robin

Nothing earth shaking today – just a day of gratitude.  I won’t say that I can’t be discouraged today, but it’s a good day.

I was supposed to take my grandson for band rehearsal (he’s a bass player) but practice was canceled at the last minute.  He met me at the car when I pulled into his driveway to tell me that practice had just been canceled – too late to let me know before I left my house.  He looked worried that I had driven there for no reason and that I might be angry.  Imagine.

I looked at that dear face (if an almost 15-year-old boy/man can have a “dear” face) and smiled at him and told him that any day that I get to see his face is a good one – no matter how brief.  (and I meant it).

Back home, sitting at my work table – listening to Pandora radio – finishing a Leukemia awareness bracelet that someone had ordered and that I wanted to get in the mail this afternoon, I just felt grateful – for my life – my family – my house.  Just grateful.

The sun is shining and the grass was cut today so the lawn looks great. We seem to have quite a few robin visitors pecking at the ground and strutting around the yard with their distinctive red chests , enjoying the afternoon.  (I mean.. they didn’t speak to me or anything to tell me they were having a good time.  They just look like they are.)

Peace – sweet peace

Life is SO good!   And I am…. truly grateful!

Friends, Guitars, and Lightbulb Moments

Last night we went to see an intimate concert with buddies, Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter at the Keswick Theatre outside of Philadelphia.

I love those “talk a little”, “sing a little” “we’re-just-hanging-out-with-you” concerts that Mary and Shawn (like we’re on a first-name basis) do so well.

Photo: Shawn Colvin - Mary Chapin CarpenterYou know how people say… “Enjoy the guitar stylings of  blah.. blah.. blah… “?  Well… I truly do enjoy the guitar stylings of Shawn Colvin – every shade – every nuance. Masterful!

Anyway, at some point during the concert, I had a lightbulb moment. I’m sure that for many, this would just be a peanut butter and jelly moment, but for me it was lobster!

Ok… so a couple of years ago when I had a life-threatening, lesson-learning time in my life, I bought a guitar.  I played briefly a thousand years ago in the 60’s when I was a non-drug taking hippie (Believe it or not, there were a couple of us). So with my new “life is short” first-hand knowledge, I decided not to waste it (life, that is).  Even though I was 62+  years old, I was still kickin’  and so I made up my mind to learn to play the guitar.

Enter self-doubt.  I have small hands, gnarly pinky fingers (can you spell rheumatoid arthritis) and I got hung up on barre chords.  (I don’t think I’m alone)  I mistakenly thought that I couldn’t REALLY play the guitar until I mastered barre chords (or as I call them…. big girl chords), so I’ve played a little off and on but not like I wanted to play OR as much as I wanted to play.  (At the moment I have no callouses.. shame… shame…shame)  I was frustrated and made it way too personal.  You know… “you’re so stupid”… “you can’t do anything”… “what a putz”… “pathetic”… and on and on.  (I’m excellent at discouraging voices in my head)

ANYWAY… I watched Shawn and Mary play last night for 2 1/2 hours and I saw Mary play two “big-girl” chords (just two) in two different songs and in one song for Shawn.

I’m great at nuance, but very often, the obvious escapes me.   2 1/2 hours of beautiful music?  Two big-girl chords????  Well.. what the hell am I waiting for?  For my fingers to grow or my pinkies to straighten out?  Not gonna happen!  BUT… I think if I just freakin’ play… the barre chords may come (or they may not).   Whatever!Graphic: LightbulbI’m going to STOP listening to the crappy voices in my head (or better yet, change them) AND the guitar snobs (one of whom I live with) who believe (and are quick to opine) that if you can’t play barre chords, you don’t really play the guitar.

There’s another lesson here – way bigger than playing the guitar.  I’ve always had a hard time being my friend.  Maybe at this late point in my life, it’s time I start.

While I ponder that-there thought… enjoy this video that I found of Shawn and Mary and what this tour is about (and watch for the big-girl chords).

Richie Havens

~ January 21, 1941 – April 22, 2013 ~

I’m listening to Sleepy Hollow this morning on WXPN (xpn.org) and naturally, they’re playing quite a few Richie Havens songs.

The name “Richie Havens” is often followed by “best known for opening the Woodstock Music and Art Fair in August 1969…”

I’m sure that’s true, but the privilege of seeing him in Philadelphia at World Cafe Live a couple years ago is what I’ll remember best about Richie Havens.

We saw him in the building before the concert, in a suit and tie, his gentle smile warming all those he encountered.  When he arrived on stage, he wore a white shirt and tie, dress pants (and shoes) and a dashiki.  Richie Havens had a formidable physical presence and a spiritual presence large enough to fill the room.

Those long, elegant fingers (resplendent in the silver rings that we know so well) enveloped the neck of his guitar and the essence of Richie Havens poured from that wooden vessel for the next two hours and filled up all the hollow places inside me.

I’m not exactly known for being silent, but that night I was silenced by the tangible presence of this gentle man’s spirit. I arrived expecting a great concert.  I was not disappointed, but I left with so much more. Through some kind of musical osmosis, I left more peaceful, kinder, more aware of the footprint that I leave in the world.

Richie Havens will never be gone.  He left a piece of himself in all of us.

From The Long Road
by Richie Havens and Cliff Eberhardt

I can hear your voice in the wind
Are you calling to me? Down the long road
Do you really think that there’s an end
I have followed my dreams, down the long road

Somehow I feel you are here
You are waiting in that dream
Somewhere down this road we will awake
And be at the start again

I can hear your voice in the wind
Are you calling to me? Down the long road
Do you really think that there’s an end?
I have lived my whole life, down the long road

http://www.richiehavens.com/official_site/news.html

Anger pisses me off!

I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions (or any other kind of resolution) so I don’t know exactly how to define this.  Maybe definition isn’t important.  Maybe it’s just a simple statement.

ANYWAY… I’m tired of being angry.  It pisses me off.  I don’t like how it feels.  So, change it, you say???  I’d love to.  I want to really get rid of it, though – not just choke it down. (I’m SO good at that)

Why do I get so angry?  How does it serve me?  Does anger protect me?  How the hell does it protect me?

I wasted an entire day today being angry.  I could justify my anger – tell you all the things that happened today that just set me off, but in the end, days are too precious to waste (especially when you’re 64).

Anger indicates entitlement.  Who am I to be entitled?  I felt that my “rights” were infringed upon today – or more accurately, my expectations.  What I expected to happen today didn’t happen.  So what?

I don’t know.  I’m just angry and I hate it.

I’ve already blown some of my resolutions, so maybe I’ll just shrink the list to this one thing – I resolve to look for the source of this anger and get rid of it.  (Just thinking about it burns me up.  [How am I doing?})

Hippie Wisdom

Years accumulate like baseball cards in a shoe box
And with them; knowledge – the wisdom of age
painted with the colors of the past

A time of love and kindness;
peace and understanding
color our lives and (hopefully)
the lives we touch

So we smile the smile of hippie wisdom,
we share the love,
and keep on keeping on.

Peace… out.

peace