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Archive for the ‘The Big Picture’ Category

I have subscribed to Funny Times for years.  I try to read it slowly instead of gulping it down like a bag of jelly beans.  The other day I was reading an article in it, “Retiring Bill Pullman,” by Craig Idlebrook, and I encountered a perfectly wonderful line that I need to save.  What better place than here, where I can share it?

An aging actor once said that as we get older, competency increasingly becomes a turn-on.

When thinking about marriage, I would replace competency with kindness.  For if attraction is the spark that ignites love, it is a thousand daily kindnesses that keep love alive.

Thank you, Craig Idlebrook, and thank you, Funny Times.

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This last weekend we flew to Maine for the burial of my father’s ashes. Dad died on Valentine’s Day, 2007, and it was his wish to be buried in the memorial garden designed by my landscape architect sister D at the new church. The garden is now finished, thanks in large part to donations made in Dad’s memory to the church.

My dear A made the box to hold the ashes. He made it last year, a few months after Dad died. He has made many wonderful boxes and pieces of furniture, but this was the hardest thing he’s ever made. Because I’m the second oldest of a large family, I hardly ever spent time alone with my parents. But A went to several week-long or two-week-long woodworking classes in the town where they lived, and so stayed with Mom and Dad. I think he spent more time alone with them than I ever did. His relationship with them was a solid bond. He and Dad drank bourbon together in the evenings and much enjoyed each other’s companionship. His love for my father was evident in the box he made.

Six of the seven children trickled in over the weekend, with families. One brother (and his family) was missing and much missed, but his absence couldn’t be helped. It was an easy relaxed weekend, with only small amounts of crabbiness, and large amounts of food, blabbing, and love, especially for Mom.

The burial service was in the late afternoon on Memorial Day. It was just our family, the vicar of the church, and the bishop of Maine. (And of course, the funeral director.) It was a bit cool, but the rain held off. The service was short, and when it was done, D brought out a bottle holding forget-me-nots in water. She handed the flowers to my sisters and mother to toss into the grave. Then she poured water over all our hands and with wet hands, we each touched the box holding the ashes.

She and my brother lowered the box into the grave, and then we all took handfuls of earth and threw them in over the box. I put in an extra handful for my brother who couldn’t be there.

Then it was over. We all were teary, but the sorrow did not carry the sharpness we’d felt at the time of Dad’s death.

After a walk around the garden, we went back to Mom’s apartment for a feast. But first, everyone got a glass of bourbon (Old Crow, Dad’s choice, yuck) and toasted our father. “He was a good man,” one of my brothers said, and we all repeated it. Another brother said “To and with”, a toast Dad often used, and the rest of us chimed in.

Dad had wanted to have “He was a good man” on his gravestone, but the memorial garden only allows for small cobblestones. So his stone said:

Halsey DeWolf Howe
Priest
Jan. 21, 1921 – Feb. 14, 2007

We were all satisfied, and I think Dad would have been satisfied too.

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Focus

I’m wondering if I’ll ever get some sort of focus in this blog, or if it will all be random blab. I’ve been reading many blogs this week, and I enjoy the random blab, or This Is My Life style of blogging, but it gets a little wearying after a while. I might not feel that way if I hadn’t been lying around waiting for my foot to heal.

But when I think about how I could focus it, too many things come up:

  • Yoga – Interestingly, I’ve found lots of Ashtanga yoga blogs, but few Iyengar. Could I make a generalization about that? No. But I found that using the private blog I have with my friend Jill (which we are not currently using, alas) helped my yoga practice.
  • Language – When I taught intro to linguistics I made my students carry around little notebooks so they could jot down things they observed about language. The observations could be anything – noticing dialect differences, new words they’d learned, thoughts about foreign languages they’d overheard, relationships between English and the Spanish they were learning – I only cared that they did it so that they could become observant. I got the idea from Haj Ross at the Linguistic Society of America summer institute, and the practice sharpened my awareness and gave me a great deal of fodder for my studies. So this blog could possibly become my language notebook.
  • Green ideas – I think a lot about plastic, for example, and its ubiquity in our lives. Like the language notebook, blog entries about plastic, water conservation, prairie reconstruction, and other green ideas might make me more aware of the topic.
    Web development – Well, that would drive away all my friends, who couldn’t care less, but it’s certainly something that I find very interesting.
  • Living a life paying attention.
  • Resources – A friend told me about someone she knows who uses her blog as her own reference library, where she puts links, books she wants to read, movies, and ideas. It’s not a public blog. I like this idea.

There’s more, but I can’t think what right now. This blog is a baby. It might turn into something completely different.

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