A Day of Memories

aweddingSix years ago today, my friend and once-husband died of lung cancer. This is the only existing photo of the day we eloped in 1962.

We were kind of a fire and ice mixture. Made some fascinating patterns and two great kids, but we were destined to destroy each other if we didn’t separate.

Our son published some of his writings, which are available on Kindle. In the early days, we were very competitive with each other regarding our writing/achievements. Back then, I kind of viewed us as an “F. Scott and Zelda” situation.

Only I didn’t jump into a fountain and wind up in a loony bin. I jumped out into the life I was destined to have.

We eventually were able to become good friends, and I was with him on his last day.

I often think about how much he would be enjoying the paths that our two kids have taken and the way his grandson is blossoming.

a total spring cleaning

Obviously, I’ve cleaned out my blog house, going for a fresh new look. Now, the challenge is to clean the cobwebs out of my head and start to write here again. It’s not unusual for bloggers to take a break every once in a while.

I’m also motivated to tune up physically — went to the chiropractor today. Of course, it helps a lot that my daughter (who cooks for the family) has upped our intake of delicious vegetables and cut down the fleshy portions of our meals. That means I’m eating healthier (except for my late night snacking, which I’m trying to control). With Spring will come more walking and a greater willingness to get myself out for the exercise classes at the well-equipped local Jewish Community Center.

My next challenge is to clean out my living space and make room for the new Lazy-boy glider recliner I bought myself for my birthday with my tax refund.

In the meanwhile, I’m still putting out heirloom seeds for wintersowing, even though it’s kind of late for that. I can’t wait to get out and garden.

My son, who is still job-hunting, has been motivated to publish his late father’s novels, which have been sitting on old 5 inch floppy discs in WordPerfect. They are available via Amazon Kindle, and he has put up a website to promote them: www.myrlnbooks.com

The Wheel turns.

The wheels turn.

Spring. Sunshine. Energy. Hope.

a family tradition of “orphan ornaments”

My daughter just won an Amazon gift card for submitting this true story to some website that was having a contest. I thought it is worth posting here.

My father had a tradition every Christmas — he’d “rescue” a new “orphan ornament” from some store. He’d hunt for these strange, oddly made ones that looked like mistakes (like one riding a hobby horse, but the horse was actually impaled through the little wooden elf body) and otherwise would be rejected or left behind. Like the Island of Misfit Toys. He’d get one or a few and add them to the tree. I lost my father a few years back quite suddenly and unexpectedly — the orphan ornaments came home with me and we hang them with our own son, now ten, each year — in memory of “Pa”. We honor him, and a lesson (albeit maybe accidental) on acceptance, tolerance and reaching out a hand to those who might otherwise be overlooked. Even now, as we begin our search for a family dog at different rescues, our son gravitates towards those that are listed as “still waiting” or “overlooked” for some reason, wanting to give them what they need. It’s silly, it’s sweet, and it instilled in us a way of thinking that was probably unintentional as far as his reason for getting the ornaments, but that had an effect on us nonetheless.

Legacies: Burdens or Bequests

On Facebook today, my daughter writes:

Having difficulty — dad died in 2008. I have a basement of things — mostly writing…must be THOUSANDS of poems, started collections, forgotten beginnings, things left undone. Bits and pieces of him, his heart, his spirit, that no one in the world will see. Here they sit. For what? He would tell me to let them go, they are just things, gone as he is. But it seems a betrayal. He’d laugh at that, I know. But still. All his work, his passion. For what? To be tossed in recycling. Doesn’t seem right.

The other day, my blogger friend Tamara posted this:

Yesterday I pitched my idea for a new book. I had been excited about it for days – felt alive and alert and looking forward to the writing of it. But, oh well – someone had just recently done a book very similar to what I was proposing. These things happen, and of course I can still write it – perhaps for a different publisher. Because, write it I will – write it I must. It feels like a legacy sort of thing and something I want to do for teachers of young children out there. And as I write this piece now, I realize that at some level I struggle with the feeling that I am entitled to leave a legacy. I mean, who am I after all? Just some teacher educator somewhere. So, where do I get off thinking my legacy is worth anything.

Over at “Time Goes By,” Ronni Bennett links to “Legacy Matters,” and offers this quote from there:

“…what you leave behind is the evidence of the life you lived,” says Jill. “I want people to live fuller, richer lives and the way to do that is to realize that we all hang by a slender thread that could be cut at any time. I believe that we all should have a legacy plan so that we leave behind the gift of good records, the gift of good directions, the gift of family stories and the gift of ourselves. This is different from your traditional estate plan or your financial plan, but, in the end, may prove far more valuable to your family.”

If you are a widely published and/or read writer, your legacy of words is an obvious one. That’s the advantage of blogging — your words and thoughts and values are out there to share with the world even after you are no longer a part of it. As long as someone pays for your domain name, of course.

Apart from this blog, which will disappear when my consciousness does, what is my legacy? My bins of yarn and fabric? My shelves of books? My box of poems, finished and unfinished? Certainly it’s not my money, because I have none left to leave.

In truth, I believe what I left as a comment to my daughter’s Facebook thoughts about her father’s legacy:

You’ve got me thinking about legacies, and what they really are. Your dad’s most important legacies are the differences he made in the lives he touched as a teacher, mentor, father, friend. Those things live on and are paid forward. The stuff that turns to dust and ashes is really not that important in the long run. Pick a few things at random to save when Lex becomes interested. Let the rest go. The best of his legacy is inside you.

And perhaps the best legacies that we can leave our families are our examples of living with passion and purpose — the behaviors and values we model each day as we “Enjoy Every Sandwich.”

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No, neither I nor my keyboard has gone completely haywire.

The above are the first lines of the results of geneticists’ efforts to sequence the genes of the swine flu (renamed H1N1).

I don’t understand any of that scientific mumbo jumbo. I also don’t understand why (from Harper’s Weekly):

Egypt, which has no cases of the flu, ordered all its pigs killed, especially slum pigs; police at Manshiyat Nasr slum fired tear gas and rubber bullets at rioting Coptic Christian pig farmers.

Well, I guess I do understand why. I just think it’s stupid.

Some sciences might be awfully hard for lots of people to understand, but, I swear, even more often, I find it hard to understand the people who don’t understand.

I watch my home-schooled grandson as he moves each day toward understanding more. While he already knows “where babies come from,” my daughter has been waiting for him to ask how they got there. And he finally did, the other day.

Using videos on the web and available books designed to help children understand the process of conception, gestation, and birth, my daughter is helping her son to begin to grasp the complexity of it all.

While I am unswervingly Pro Choice, I also understand the awesomeness of fetal development. And that’s why I don’t understand why those who oppose abortion don’t make a big deal of disseminating information about how babies come to be and how “sacred” (see 5th definition here) and amazing the actual, factual process is. I wonder, if young children were instilled with awe while explained the facts, would they be more likely, as teenagers, to avoid unwanted pregnancies — not out of fear of some god, but rather because they would value life more. Maybe it shouldn’t be called “sex education.” Maybe it should be called something more scientific, like “human procreation.”

C’mon, even Sarah Palin’s daughter admits that abstinence doesn’t work. She certainly has learned that from her own experience.

Knowledge and understanding can sidetrack many bad decisions, and “knowing” and “understanding” are not the same thing. If children truly were helped to understand the scientific marvel that they are as human organisms — right from the very beginning — perhaps as they mature, they would have more respect for themselves and for other living things. And then, maybe, abortions wouldn’t be necessary except in extreme cases.

Of course, I’m just speculating. What do I know? I’m just a little ol’ grandma raising hell at the keyboard and trying to understand this world that seems to be “going to hell in a handbasket.” (Hmm. Why a handbasket, I wonder.)

Some extreme things that are happening I understand and accept, some I understand but despise, and some I just don’t understand. All of the above are reflected in the following, again lifted from Harper’s Weekly Review:

Sweden recognized same-sex marriages.

A food-service industry survey found that schoolchildren would like to replace lunch ladies with robots.

Kenyan women’s organizations called for wives to boycott sex, and for prostitutes to be paid not to work, until leaders in the coalition government stop feuding.

South Korea bioengineered four fluorescent beagles

A senior Buddhist monk in Thailand named Phra Maha Wudhijaya Vajiramedhi vowed to teach gay and transgender Thai monks better manners, which would include the elimination of their pink purses, their sculpted eyebrows, and their revealingly tight robes.

Officials in New Delhi were investigating the case of Shanno Khan, an 11-year-old girl whose teacher allegedly forced her to stand in the hot sun for two hours as a punishment for not doing her homework, ignoring Khan when she promised to learn her alphabet and begged for water. The girl fainted and was hospitalized. “I never want to go to school again,” she told her mother, and died a day later.

April reveries

We are all remembering that it was a year ago today. I see people smoking and I want to tell them. I want to tell them that they should have been there to see where it leads, what it leaves behind in those who feel his absence as much as they felt his presence.

I took a Valium this morning before my spinal MRI. I am still relaxed in reverie.

April is such a neither month — not yet really spring, still capable of the few flurries I spotted yesterday on my way from the mountains to the valley.

A wedding in April is a weather-chancy thing. My cousin’s daughter’s this past weekend took place in a venue that featured a panoramic view of the Hudson River and the foothills of the Catskills. If it had been a sunny day, the view would have been breathtaking.

The cousins of my generation sat together, recognizing that we were now the “elders” of the family, as our younger relatives stopped by every once in a while to chat with us. On that dreary April evening, the music and dancing and revelry reminded us that warmer vistas are just beyond sight. Youth and hope and love ruled for those several hours as a muted sun slipped behind the hilltops.

One of my cousins, who married into a family that, for generations, maintained a 24 room house in what is a nicer part of the city, hosted some of us from out of town. The house is theirs now, her and her husband, who spend part of the year in Florida. It’s a house filled with generations of ghosts, all of those who lived and died here, family and extended family. For generations. They might sell it if they could; but who wants a 24 room house in a one-family residential neighborhood. For now, it works as a home-base for a number of the clan, including their daughter and future son-in-law.

My cousins and I, for the most part, are very different — at least our lives meandered down different paths, mine having taken me a long way to the left. But they are tolerant of my politics, my lack of religion. They are probably more tolerant of my viewpoints than I am of theirs. They are able to interact and relate with me and with each other in ways that ignore all of those values that might divide us.

As we sit around the breakfast table over the kinds of food we all seem to like (little things, like corn toasties — which we don’t like to toast — and Polaner All-fruit instead of sugar-ridden jelly or jam) they make me laugh. They do not pressure, they do not manipulate. Together, we are the kids we were who grew up playing “Flies Up” on their front stoop, even through dismal April afternoons.

We relax into the neither-nor of April, a time of its own, of our own.

There is another family wedding coming in June. I will be there again, in the bosom of family.

Closer by, my mom slips inevitably into dementia’s final horror. I stopped her from eating a paper plate the other day. I strain to remember the Polish I used to speak so fluently so that I can understand her.

I am not there now, I am home in Massachusetts, but I will be going to visit her in a few days to help set up space for, and help to acclimate, a live-in helper who speaks Polish.

Perhaps I should take my Valium with me. After all, it will still be April.

a good day for a poem

While I was moving, I sorted through some of the stacks of poetry that I had written over the years and pulled out a batch of short ones. Perhaps Thursday will be the day of each week that I will post one of them.

I live in Pioneer Valley these days, but I wrote this one back in the 70s when I lived in another valley. I think one of the reasons I call this blog Kalilily Time is because of my memories of that past valley time.

Valley Time

the winds tease the the sun
toward morning,
brushing aside the easy showers
of early summer clouds.

Time follows the way of the wind
through this dawn-misted valley,
filters through the blue unfoldings
of fragile morning chicory,
flows through the slow, green seekings
of those low growing vines,
breathes honeysuckle and wildrose rain
into the season’s drifting light.

the sun leaves the high horizon,
draping a dry autumn night
over the tired faces
of September sunflowers.

I am thinking today of my late once-husband, who loved the power of words more than anything in his life, except his children. We shared both of those loves, but not in the same ways or same volume.

I am, once again, searching for the voice that I misplaced somewhere during this last decade.

the legacy of voice

We are all writers in this family: my daughter, my son, me, and my late former spouse, whose unexpected death almost a year ago still affects our offspring. My kids and I write when we are moved to do so and have the time. He wrote because, as he once said to me “everything else is sawdust.”

And so our daughter has launched a brief and intense campaign to raise enough money to fund a summer writing workshop for a talented kid. She is negotiating with the New York State Writer’s Institute to provide this support through their program.

She has until March 21 to raise $550.

Those who knew Bill Frankonis know that his life was dedicated both to the art of writing and to encouraging creativity in children of all ages.

We have been affected by the legacy of his voice. It’s fitting to extend his legacy even further, and to help some young budding writer to find her or his own unique voice.

You have until March 21 to add your $10 (or more) donation. If the goal of $550 is not met, your donation will be returned.

You can go here to donate to the W. A. Frankonis Budding Writers Scholarship Fund.

home to the sea

We drove into the sun, with a pale moon still high in the sky, and we brought our father/grandfather/father-in-law/once-husband to the place he asked to be laid to rest.

The morning wind whipped around us, and the tide was beginning to flow, as we searched along the deserted beach for a place to leave him to the sea.

His daughter prepared the place.

His son placed him in.

Until that point, the small waves inching up the shoreline were a good ten feet away. Then suddenly, before he filled the hole, one wave reached and carried most of him away. Ah, we all thought — the sea is as eager for him as he was for the sea. It was odd, though, that none of the other waves had come up as far.

After they filled in the sand and were ready to place the flowers on the spot, another single wave obliterated all traces of where he had been placed. And so the flowers were left on the shore line and petals tossed into the spray.


And then we left him to the sea.

My photos of the trip are here.

Our daughter’s are here.

And our son’s are here

With b!X back in Portland, OR, who knows when we will be all together again as a family.

Myln Monday: See Here

For a while before his death in April 2008, non-blogger Myrln (aka W. A. Frankonis, i. frans nowak), posted here on Kalilily Time some kind of rant or other every Monday. Our daughter, who has salvaged his published, performed, and none-such writings, continues to send me some to post posthumously.

See Here
We don’t need to go to the stars
To find wonder.
A backyard is light-years enough.
And maybe it used to be a star anyway.
Waf oct99