Family Road Trip–Day Three


Today we awakened earlier that we usually do on vacation in order to get to the train station in downtown Albuquerque to take the Rail Runner to Santa Fe.  Apparently, we worried too much about missing it because we arrived really too early and sat around for more than 45 minutes waiting and watching.  I walked around and took several photos of my grandson waiting and of one of the numerous murals one sees in downtown.

 

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I was surprised by the number of people using this train.  It takes one and one half hours to get from downtown Albuquerque to Santa Fe depot because there are quite a few stops on the way including one at Sandia Pueblo and another at Kewa Pueblo.  Photos are forbidden while traveling through Kewa.  The route basically follows the Rio Grande Valley.

I took a few photos from the train and several in Santa Fe.  Good friends, Dino and Zuriash, were already in Santa Fe and picked us up at the depot.  We went to the Chocolate Maven for brunch–my daughter totally loves this restaurant because they have crepes.  We walked around the art exhibits by the church near the square, stopped in a few shops, and just before the return trip on the train, went to Jalapeños for drinks.  A wonderful day with family and friends and a little train trip, my grandson’s first.

 

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Gratitude and Dust


Initially, I planned to continue my Apocalyptic Planet series, but today’s events caused me to choose otherwise.  As I sit here writing this, I can see the endless blowing dust through the spotted window.  Sometime today, while I was at work, it sprinkled while the dust blew.  Now every window on the east and north side of my house appears as if someone had thrown handfuls of nearly dry mud at it.  My black car looks the same.  The wind whistles in the flue of the wood burning stove in my bedroom.  This storm  blows harder and longer than the one we experienced last week.  Tomorrow they forecast more of the same.

Saturday I stopped by two greenhouses to purchase some hanging baskets and native flowers.  The mesquite trees kept telling me, “Wait, wait.  Cold will come again. Wait!”  Normally, I obey what the mesquite trees tell me.  They never come out until they know without a doubt the cold is over and they feel safe.  I bought the flowers anyway.  This coming Saturday, Hilltop Senior Citizen Center in Amarillo has their Gala at my house to raise money–complete with a silent auction, food, and drink to raise some much needed money.  I want everything to look springlike and pretty.  I heard the weather forecast on the radio coming home from work.  I just looked again on the Internet.  Frost predicted tonight and even colder tomorrow night.  After I fed Rosie, placing the alfalfa as much out of the wind as I could, I brought the hanging baskets inside and poured a bunch of water on the other new plants. The native plants, tough, worry be little.  The others will not survive 33 degree weather.  Later, I will go out and cover them with old towels, hoping the wind relents and does not blow them off.

Everyone here posts photos of the dust on the Internet and gripes about this horrid weather.  Although I certainly dislike it, I refuse to complain.  This, too, is tornado country.  I listened to the news this morning and again coming home from work.  Thirty four dead, whole towns destroyed, a new school flattened.  Here I see no devastation, only the endless, depressing, annoying dust and wind.  My friends, family, and I are alive, our houses intact.  Rosie huddles behind the barn, still healthy, neighs when she hears me coming.  Gratitude engulfs me.

 

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The iris I was hoping for.

Rim Rider


I ride the rim on Rosie,

writing stories in my mind.

The neighbor’s husky howls.

Rosie listens, watches,

moves away from the canyon rim.

I write of long lost lovers,

names forgotten,

smiling brown faces,

drifting through my dreams.

I ride the rim on Rosie,

writing stories in my mind.

The bobcat climbs the canyon wall.

Rosie’s ears move,

her body tenses.

I write of childhood memories,

places loved and lost,

of family joys and sorrows,

Mom’s singing while she worked,

Dad’s napping on the blue linoleum  floor.

I ride the rim on Rosie,

writing stories in my mind.

Isabella runs past, bunny hunting, barking.

Rosie wants to run, to race, is held.

I write of fragrant fields of saffron,

endless Thai seas of blue and green,

of lands I’ve loved , the Navaho Nation, the Llano Estacado.

I ride the rim on Rosie,

writing stories in my mind.

Grandmother


We sit on the wooden swing suspended by silver chains

hanging from the bungalow front porch ceiling.

She, elderly beyond her years, grey hair piled atop her head,

thin and wrinkled.

She stays with us sometimes when Aunt Julia goes off

on one of her adventures.

Cattle graze across the road in front of the house.

It is summer.

A bull mounts a cow.

Suddenly, out of the silence, Grandmother speaks,

“Men and bulls are just alike;

they are only interested in one thing.

A bunch of good for nothings!”

Her voice is vitriolic.

And I, a child, maybe twelve, innocent and ignorant,

sit there shocked,

amazed,

embarrassed,

astonished

to hear my grandmother talk that way.

Now, nearly fifty years later,

I wonder about her life,

what in it caused this secret bitterness

she spilled just once on that idyllic summer day.

I look at her wedding photo.

She has a steady, unsmiling, pretty face,

marrying a handsome man twenty two years her senior.

Were they happy, sad, or probably a bit of both?

I remember what my mother, her youngest daughter, told me

snippets here and there.

A hard life, endless guests

never a break from gardening, cooking, canning, cleaning.

I look at other photos of my grandmother

taken before I was born,

older, nearly as wide as she is tall, never smiling.

I remember her in an old lady’s flowery, lavender dress,

thin from years of undulate fever.

I remember her feeding me bread, butter, and sugar sandwiches,

Easter egg hunts at her house,

and later, at another house, walking with her to the corner store.

I never remember her smiling.

True Love


“True Love.  Is it normal…?”

Wislawa Szymborska

 

 

Who gets it?

Does it descend

like lightning

striking

only the lucky?

Is it a curse,

a blessing,

a gift?

Me, I’m clueless.

I think perhaps my parents had it.

I don’t.

Never had

or did I miss it,

the strike

the blinding?

Lust I understand.

True Love??

Migraine


Since I was a child, my only health issue has been headaches.  When younger, sometimes they were little ones and sometimes nearly incapacitating.  As an adult I could count on having at least one a month, sometimes more.  Weather seems to be the main culprit now.  If certain weather patterns occur, a series may hit me for several days in a row and then blissfully nothing for a couple of months.  My daughter has migraines also; she must have inherited this from me, sadly.  Tuesday this week, I awakened with a doozy and suddenly recalled that I had to attend this class for work.  I took my medication and hoped.  While waiting for the class to start, I decided to write down exactly how these migraines make me feel.

 

Poised above my head,

the hammer ball strikes the ten inch nail.

It drives through my right frontal lobe,

the nail point jutting out just below my right cheek, shiny, bloodless.

The hammer flips, the nail pulled out.

Pain pulses, excruciating.

Poised above my head, the hammer strikes again and again.

Endless hours the hammer strikes and pulls.

I hold my head in my hands, rocking back and forth.

Endlessly.

Marriage


The following poem was chosen to be published in the Story Circle Network’s annual Anthology this past autumn.   I submitted two flash memoir pieces, including the Spiders story on a previous post,  as well as this poem.  I was very surprised that this was the one chosen.

Marriage

                                               I remember the time he touched my face, melting me.

                                               I married him; my face slowly, inexorably froze.

The Journey versus the Destination


Until yesterday, I always thought I was a destination person.  Set goals, act, get it all done quickly and efficiently, achieve!!  Suddenly, while driving home from Austin, realization struck in  the form  of wild flowers.  Traveling to Austin, I oohed and awed so much over the blue bonnets, daisies, gaillardia, and others I did not recognize that my daughter finally exclaimed, “Mom, you have said that over and over, really!”  I asked, “Don’t you think they are beautiful?!”  I could hardly believe her response, “Yes, but they’re just flowers,”  Just flowers!!!!  I wanted to stop and look closely at them, to take photos, to touch them.  Instead I said to myself, “You can do that on then way home.” But I didn’t. From Austin to Marble Falls, the road was too winding with no adequate place to stop.  Besides my daughter slept blissfully beside me on the passenger side; I didn’t want to awaken her.  Furthermore, she had previously emphasized the point that we needed to get home buy a certain tine.  Tomorrow, my grandson had school and I had to go to work.  It was a nine hour drive. For hours from just east of Llano past San Angelo, I kept thinking I’d stop.  The flower species and colors changed.  I saw other people stopped, taking photos and touching the flowers.  As I drove it hit me:  my personally preferred form of travel involves wandering.  Yes, I know the destination, but I want to see the places, the people along the way, to stop, to explore what holds my interests.  It is the journey, the process, that truly enthralls me.  This is the reason, too, why without a lot of thought, I chose one route to Austin and another back.  Curiosity, a love of differences, of change, of variety. I never stopped. I kept driving until my daughter awakened just before Sterling City and we switched drivers.  By then the flowers were fewer and farther between. And it hit me that this too was my father’s preferred form of travel.  He lived on the same farm for 90 years and in the same house for 80, but he loved trips.  Every year we took at least one.  We always had a destination, well, sort of, but we stopped whenever and wherever we found something fascinating and wonderful.  As he would have put it, “You never know.  You might find something in an expected place and want to stay there longer.” Since I took no photos on this trip, I decided to share photos of the flowers I found blooming in my xeroscape garden at home when I arrived.  Yes, they are lovely and I love them, but I will wonder for weeks what I missed along the road.