Last night Jack and I were out for a late-night walk.  It was peaceful, walking in the park, with the dragon flying around and whatnot; the air still, warm, quiet.


As we were on our way home we heard several shots from a semiautomatic weapon and then a car alarm.  We looked at each other.  The sounds had clearly come from the cemetery.  Jack said that was very efficient.  Neither of us had our phones.


I raced home and called the police within five minutes of hearing the shots, trying to explain to an officer where I had heard them.  The cemetery has a new name.  He couldn’t find either name on whatever map he was looking at, asking a couple silly questions.  I explained exactly where. 


All our windows were open.  I heard one siren go toward that area when I was barely off the phone.


A couple minutes later, another siren. 


That’s all I got.


For some reason I am very weepy this morning, on our American Independence Day.  Usually I hate holidays’  interruption into my daily routines and find July 4th to be one of the silliest displays of “Ugly Americanism” possible.  But somehow today, I started thinking about the Statue of Liberty and how she was the first thing that immigrants saw as they disembarked awful, stinking steamships–  if they had survived the journey at all- the tired, the poor, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” 

And it got me to thinking about how my ancestors got off those boats and had their last names mangled and Americanized (by possibly well-meaning and overworked Ellis Island employees) and lost part of their identities in exchange for newfound freedoms.  You know not everyone survived the journey; of course even now many people from Mexico die for the same reason.  Trying to enter Los Estados Unidos with a dream of a better life, just as my European ancestors did- and we mangle their hyphenated names too, our computer systems unable to handle the not-even-very complex system of ….well I digress.  My maiden name is unpronounceable and unspellable even in its Ellis-Islandified version- and I’ve seen it in the original language.  Jack’s is “odd” as well.  My dad’s ancestors were some of the few survivors of a ship that burned off-shore in a horrendous blaze visible for miles.  My maternal grandmother’s great-great-grandmother came over on a sailboat.   But our families came here- to America- with hope.  Hope and faith that carried them through steerage and seasickness and storms and uncertainty and probably even the separation from family back home awaiting the letter – in any language- telling them that it was finally time to join Papa in the new country.

I also have been thinking too much about this stupid ongoing war that we are still in for no reason. 

This year it is not a stupid picnic for me.  Nor just a stupid parade (though I will be there).  Not just a gun salute by the fewer-and-fewer surviving WWII veterans.  It is an actual celebration of freedom- well, the ones we still have and need to continue to fight for.  Fight with your pen (or your computer, or the library’s computer if you don’t have one) for it is mightier than the sword.  We the people elected our officials.  They need to  know what you think.  Tell them.  Write them.  Call them.  Even meet with them- they just might agree to it (yes, I know this personally.)

I wrote before about how death would be a sort of freedom.  Maybe that is why I am weepy today- because my ancestors were the ones that did not die while seeking freedom.  That, my friends, is irony: the best and most beautiful kind.

God bless America.  Let freedom ring.

Clematis.  Not chlamydia.
Clematis. Not chlamydia.

Several years ago, my friend came over, saw this vine in my yard, and said,

“Oh! I love your chlamydia!”

Of course we laughed and I set her straight.

Now every year when my clematis is in bloom, I think of her, and it makes me smile. I love my chlamydia too.

I’m honestly asking!

I’m kind of a hoarder and so many things just defy classification. You know…shoes go in the “shoe place”, cans of sardines go in the “cans of sardines place.” Hair doodads have their own (big) bag. But…man. This coconut bra has me stumped. I haven’t been invited to a luau for two years (although it’s a great vowel dump as a Scrabble play, so technically my rack (PUN!) has invited me to several since then. (Ever had a rack full of “U?” “I” follows me around too. I sense a bad Scrabble Club pickup line.)


History would seem to indicate that the way to get oneself invited to a luau (or anything else) is to get rid of the perfect outfit for it. That’s the real reason that Russ Feingold didn’t get elected president: because I still have the dress I planned to wear to his inauguration (it is a formal;  deep blue. Perfect.) Honestly, though, that is how it goes: whenever I have gotten rid of any of my hoardings, the opportunity and need for that item has soon arisen (although, I got rid of a box Sharpied “Bible Outfits” and still have yet to get cast as Mary from Jesus Christ Superstar).  So my entire theory  paranoia could be completely off-base.

Hoarding, I must say, has both advantages and disadvantages.  Sartorially, I am prepared for just about anything.  The bigger question is, will I be able to find the item in question?

So, help me out here: whither the coconut bra?

Sometimes when Jack and I are traveling, driving far from home, I imagine a house at the end of a long, winding country road.  A woman comes out onto the front porch, so very happy that we have arrived at long last.  We are home- not our home, but the “home” of  our collective imagination, of our subconscious.  She is wearing a flour-covered apron, with a multitude of pockets.  She is wiping her hands on a well-worn towel, and envelops me in an embrace– squeezing me into her warm ample bosom, her soft arms holding me just long enough in a loving hug.  She is an archetypal grandmother; not my actual grandmother, who raised me, and loved me with a ferocity unmatched by a mother bear for her own cubs (and who also watched the A-Team with a religious fervor, cheated at Scrabble, argued incessantly with my mother, and was ectomorphic–about as bony as humanly possible), but a grandmother who bakes with entire sticks of butter  and loads the table with the caucasian version of soul food.  A grandmother who never gets angry.  Who has eagerly awaited my visit, as Jack deftly maneuvered the winding, sometimes treacherous rural highways, a bit worried, but trusting that we would arrive safely into her waiting embrace, into her comfortable kitchen, into the love that she had in her heart the entire time- even before I was born, before I left home, before I met Jack and knew he was the man that would make me happy until the day the first one of us dies.