July 10 - 4



July 10, 2001
In the Sunday calls to Germany we learned that Werner’s oldest granddaughter, Anna, was to make a trip on Tuesday to each of the families in Hamburg to announce her coming marriage to Achie. The day literally exploded in adrenaline and hot air as each person found 50 reasons why this couple should not marry. Then today, as the new couple made their visits, explained their plans, everyone is nodding in agreement.

This reminded me of how my own father reacted when I first told him that I planned to marry the boy I had been dating steadily for the past three years. It was summer. I was working in a dry goods store just down the street from his bank and it was our habit to walk home for lunch together. My father and I had never been close, so this ten-minute walk five days a week was the high point of our association and one I truly treasured. Confident of our closeness, on this day when I seventeen, I calmly began to tell him of the plans my boyfriend and I had for getting engaged. He was planning to leave for two years as a conscientious objector (to the Korean War) for service in Europe and we both felt being engaged was the easiest way to make it through the long wait. I was not surprised that my father let me talk on and on without making any comments. He was known for his quietness and even his deadly silences that could last for days. I figured that what I was telling was no surprise as it seemed the very most rational thing in the world for us to do. All he had to know was more of our plans to see how right we were, I thought as I chattered gaily.

"Your children will never be right." he growled. I was stunned into a silence that lasted many years between us.

Now, as an adult I realize his position and the reasons behind his comment. Yes, in this rural Mennonite community there was a rash of strange aunts and uncles because of earlier "in-marrying" but I had no idea that these problems could skip a generation and perhaps reappear in my children. Today I would have the very same concerns he had! But then! I heard his words and took the hurt out of them in full, but they meant absolutely nothing to me. It was as if he had spoken them in a foreign language or used terms which had never been defined. The idea that he might be right was so huge and terrible there was no room for such a thought in my mind or tender heart. I was so convinced that my love for this person was absolutely right and there was no other plan in the world so right as the one to follow my heart. I knew my heart and I felt (even at seventeen) that I knew best for my future. I needed no advice on what to do and even less on who to marry. I KNEW.

Fortunately for all of us, my three kids turned out to be ‘right’, beautiful and healthy children with none of the scary stuff from the errors of past generations. This week as been interesting when I could step back and realize that I am now listening to the conversations that surely my grandparents and parents had that week of hot summer weather.

On our walk today, we saw, as we crested the hill in the piney woods, a doe nibbling grass along the road. We stopped to watch and then saw she had her fawn with her. She ignored us but he (it had to be male) took a few steps toward us stamping his tiny hooves in the stag’s threatening manner. He looked to be about three to four weeks old. He kept looking back at his mother to see why she was so unconcerned about us. Finally he walked off into the deeper grass of the ditch. So we began to proceed. Then out of the ditch he came with an even larger doe right behind him. It was as if he had gone to get some backup help for the situation. Behind her was her fawn which looked to be about a week older (and a lot more sophisticated). We stood very still while the parade slowly crossed the road to melt into the trees.

By evening Werner knew I was rather frazzled from the many phone calls of the day so he offered to take me to the spirit boat knowing that this quiets me as little else does. In the parking lot we could see that someone had mowed the weeds in the past couple days. Evidently that person had seen the little personal lifeboat someone had ‘plundered’ from the ship and then discarded by tossing it up in a driftwood pile. The boat was now lying in a place where I could get to it without going through poison oak, so I climbed the hill and got it down.

On the beach the ship looked much as it had the last time. No one else was there so I shouted out my greetings and gestured broadly enough to untangle my nerves and muscles. After greeting Grandmother Ocean, and getting my feet and head wet, I tied the little boat on some exposed ribs and covered it up with stones and seaweed. Some guy walked out on the beach but he looked harmless so I got out my flute and let it play the songs it wanted for the spirits. I had found that the flute (not I!) could find four distinct tones from one fingering. I had the idea of changing the number of open holes because with no wind I thought I might try some new melodies. Imagine my surprise that the flute plays the same tones no matter which or how many holes are opened or closed! Even the breathing is not mine but comes from the waves and whoever is breathing me. I feel, when I stand there over the spirit ship that I am the flute and am held and something is blowing through me.

you've seen balloons
when the wind comes like a bugle
remember me the thief
preached upon "breath" until the narrow
birdsongs have been tried and laid aside


July 9, 2001

I was standing beside a male character knowing that we were going to be transported to somewhere to our left. We had to pull ourselves up into a tube, rather like the overhead carriers in airplanes. He seemed stronger and was first to get his body pulled up and was wiggling into place. I started to pull myself up thinking the job would be harder than what it was so if he went ahead I would have the time and space to be as clumsy as I am. I was rather surprised to find myself getting into place ahead of him. The tube was quite narrow so he had to wait while I went on. We arrived in my grandmother’s house. Evidently we had spent the whole summer here and now it was time for us to pack up our things, clean up the place and leave. It was hard for me to decide whether to leave my dulcimer. I loved this one and the thought of being without it all winter was something I did not want to do. Yet, I knew I had another one at home and it would be simpler and easier to just leave this one here. If I left it I needed to find a secure place for it. While I was fussing with this, my grandmother appeared and I thought I would be glad to see her. Only she was very angry with my Aunt June. She felt Aunt June was not doing her portion of the work so she began to scold her loudly and aggressively. I turned the other way to go into another room to start my cleaning with the thought that I would just leave those two work out whatever they had going.

In all of the various rooms were my cousins who were also cleaning and putting things away. When I got to the kitchen I realized that this room would need the most work so I began here. I asked someone where they were throwing the trash and it seemed that no one had the idea that some things should be discarded. I began to have my doubts about how helpful they would be, but got a trash bag, set it in the middle of the room as a broad hint that it should be used. For some reason, instead of just cleaning out the cupboards I began to take apart a very greasy, gunky filter that was installed high at the corner of the wall and the ceiling. When I got it taken apart I saw that this was really a mess, really needed attention, was going to be a job to get clean and was more work than I wanted to do today. But now that I knew what a mess it was, I realized that I would do whatever it took to get it clean. While reaching far back inside of the ventilator, I woke up with a jerk and hit my head on the windowsill.

One can hardly call compiling a mailing list as a creative work, yet it was the only thing I accomplished during the working day. I was glad to finally have the feature. All these years I have saved old emails just to keep the addresses because I could never find the address book feature. It actually felt good to get that huge file cleaned up and out.

All day I felt as if I had a cast on my leg because my ftp was not set up. I would be thinking of other things and the thought would cross my mind: you didn’t send the blog file. I would have to go through the process of: why did you forget this? Will you do it now? And then a long "Ohhhhhh." Of remembering. I see the new word has an automatic corrector of my punctuation.

Not knowing how long David would need to finish setting me (my computer – same thing) up and how much I energy I would need for the evening, I did not take a walk. When he left (7:00) the fog and damp blowing wind made me decide it was healthier to stay inside. I worked on the new poems until the cat came and demanded to be put into his bed for the night. He was ready for bed but I was not. I laid awake a long time while the poem continued to come. Am feeling I want to cut this short this morning so I can get on with typing them up. Typing the poem in is always half of the work. As I talk them back to myself is when the best accidents occur and the poem takes on its ‘real’ life.


July 8, 2001 Sunday
The rest of the world had this day as a Sunday. I woke up thinking of "new computer" which translated into "new day" which gave me "new week" which meant it was Monday. I even carried my laundry downstairs thinking this was the day. I ate my breakfast thinking it was a Monday. It was only when I sat down for my devotions that I realized this foggy morning was a Sunday.

Getting to work I often felt I was in Santa Cruz on the roller coaster. It was such and up and down day. One minute I was delighted with finding a new function, a new button, a new easier way to do things on the computer and then I spent at least ten minutes finding the 8th mute, the one that was keeping me from hearing the CD that I need to have in my ear to drown out the heavy breathing of this machine. I had to wade through so many frills and ribbons, all the while doubting my self-confidence that I would ever get the problem fixed. As deep as that despair was the joy of finally discovering the problem and being somewhat smart enough to turn on the right icon. So it went all day. Up and down. Often stuff zoomed by me so fast that I truly felt I was on a virtual roller coaster. By noon even the bags under my eyes were tired. There is so much to adjust. I was surprised how important my environment around the computer is to me. How I could not settle down until the tiger sat to my right, the pink scarf covered the color printer; my easel was exactly where it should be. I never knew myself to be so compulsive.

In the afternoon, I transferred the rest (I think) of my data out of the old machine using two disks and the wheels on my office chair back and forth between the two machines. The job took a while but at least I felt I knew what I was doing and could do it.

Later when I tried to send this file by ftp I could not find the program! I was sure it had been transferred but it had gotten lost somewhere in the new clutter. I am stymied because, I am ashamed to admit, I cannot make the shortcut function – so the little icon appears on the first screen. I know it is a simple operation. I have watched David do it and he does it so quickly it is like a magic trick I cannot comprehend. So I just gave up to tiredness and the evening.

After dinner, the last of the salmon, thank goodness, I worked on new poems most of the evening. Took an hour out to call Bambi to see how she survived her birthday. It was just raining in Utah and I wished so much I had been there. I told her I would love to run out in the rain naked and she said that lightning could strike me so I gave up on that fine idea by telephone. If I had been there I think I would have risked it for that marvelous feeling of rain on bare skin and the smell of moisture on hot dust.

When I went to bed I could not sleep so laid there waiting on the opposite of lightning – sleep to strike. Suddenly I could smell the strong odor of a wet dog. I kept sniffing the moist dark air wondering where this was coming from. Closer and closer came the sound of grass being torn up and then chewed. The deer were grazing just below my window. I let the sound of their chewing be the little waves that carried me off to sleep.

July 7, 2001
Tonight I have this huge white elephant in my workroom. Its flapping ears give me the music I did not know I wanted to hear. Its ivory toenails feel strange and stiff under my fingers. Its breathing is loud and a bit intimidating. From such a sound I expect smoke to rise up from some unexpected quarter. If I do not type fast enough, it closes its eyes and a blue green sign flashes that the beast has gone on "stand by". I feel as if I should tuck my feet under my chair so they do not get stepped on in the dark. I pet the beast cautiously, repeating the mantra: "this is my same version of Word, I do know how to use that" and there are moments when I feel as if I am riding high on my newest pet.

The whole day went into computer this and computer that. In the morning I cleaned out my old dear. Then I unplugged it and moved it out of its familiar dust into another corner of the room. I have unplugged and reassembled that machine enough that I felt competent to set up the new one also. But this was not so. Already the weird speakers gave me the feeling I was in a strange land and did not know the language again. So I busied myself with preparing everything for David. It was like waiting for the doctor. You know, how you straighten up this or that knowing full well that he will only be looking for his work and not how one keeps house.

the missing all
nature – the gentlest mother is
in dust the only secret
there is a solitude of space where
my soul accused me and I quailed

I thought we would be able to simply run a cord from one computer to another to funnel the data over. Before, with small hard disks this was not a problem because they held so little information that only the programs were on the hard disk and all the data was kept on diskettes. With the mega-huge disks came their reluctance to accept having to work with a disk stuck in their ribs so it was easier to just dump all the info into the deepest guts. I thought I had done a good job of cleaning it up or out, but David found files within files I barely knew existed and some of these were huge. There was no way a Windows95 could speak over a simple cord to a Windows ME and the old version would not allow David to put the data on CDs. So he began zipping it out. Disk after disk filled with my dismay that he had to empty so many bins. Because I had never used the zip drive on my old computer, I did not order a zip drive for the new one. In order to zip into it, he had to download from the Internet a new driver for his machine. This meant another 30 minutes over our slow and ancient backwoods connections. Finally, he became as exhausted as I was and we agreed to let things sit until Monday night.

I was too tired to get dinner, so was glad for the left over salmon. Making toast was about as much cooking as I felt like doing. It tasted so much better to me cold and smothered in cheese.

Tonight was the fireworks display in Point Arena. But that strange quietness I enjoyed on the beach last night was the start of our summer weather. By this morning our world was wrapped thickly in fog. This was the real summer fog. It is the kind that sticks to us all day long. Some sun came though late in the evening giving us hope that we could see the fireworks, but as soon as the sun began sliding down the backside of the curve the puffy clumps of clouds got thicker and thicker. All we got from the display was a series of loud booms that the fog made to sound louder than normal. The best part of the show is the pearl necklace of cars as they wind along the coast on Highway One when everyone goes back home in the complete darkness. Because of the fog, not many people went to the trouble to drive down so there was only a trickle of cars lighting up the fog on our road.

the month of July
seemed capable of stopping
at a broken window
in the night if one listened hard
bath oil, burning leaves, wishes


July 6, 2001 - Friday

My new computer arrived today! I have been limping along the super highway in my Windows95 for so long passersby have begun to show only pity and small smiles remaining in the dust. David, my computer guru, has already promised to come tomorrow to do all transferring of files. I have a spider phobia and whenever I get into background files, even the html versions, I feel as if I am running my hands over the uneven walls of a cellar in the dark.

Much of my morning went into blogging, research and trying to join a blog ring (I don't think my copying in the information worked right - we will see). I have some concern if I can keep up this pace when other work begins coming down the tubes. At the moment there seems a summer quietness in publishing that leaves me just enough time to get myself into new obligations.

I was staring at the big shell on the dining room table and thinking: I wonder how different my life would have been if my centers, my spine, my back, my central being had been encased in the days of my life as are those of a shell. How it protects its inner self with a spiral of defense! In comparison, how fragile, how open, how vulnerable we humans are! My back will always remain a mystery to me because I can never get around back there. Never can I press my body against my back. Never can I run my hands over its evidences of living.

it's easy to invent a life
at last! to be identified with a charm
that invests a face
and with what body does it come?
size circumscribes – it has no room

And how good it would be if I, like the channeled whelk, could face, head on, my past. To actually see the ridges, the dings and dents of past events and to be given the chance of smoothing them over with the mother of pearl of today. I would welcome that. And what if, as I got older my days opened outward in smooth geometric precision until at my death I stood at my widest! I do not want to go into death shrunken, diminished and at a crawl. I want to go to this end with my arms held out wide as a child runs against the wind. May it be so.

We had our first salmon of the year for dinner. Seven dollars a pound from the supermarket and its freshness was a thing of the past. Soon there will be the fishermen parked in pick-ups in front of the post office with their big iceboxes of catch. We should have waited for this, but were just too eager. I like salmon best when it is cold: crumbled on cream cheese and bagels with fresh dill. When it is still warm from the oven it seems too alive to eat.

We went to Mote Creek to visit the spirit ship. The protecting log before it was washed out to sea so the high tide had come over it last night. The two flattened hoops were now exposed where the dried seaweed washed away. They have bent in the opposite directions so the design in the huge cushion of seaweed is of a cradle about 10 long. 

The solstice tides had heaped up stones so high that the creek is almost dammed. It is only near the shoreline edge that little trickles of stream appear before disappearing into the sea. A weather change was in the clear air, so there was almost no wind so the beach seemed graveyard quiet, heavy and expectant.

a vision in marl
it was not death for I stood up
a great hope fell
in  a maelstrom with a notch
my faith is larger than the hills


July 5, 2001 - Thursday
HAPPY EARTHDAY BIRTHDAY! Bambi - my youngest daughter, middle child, seer, personal astrologer, light and canary in my spiritual tunnel. Thank you for picking me to be your mom!

I laid awake in the pre-dawn darkness thinking of Bambi, thinking of the day she was born and watching Venus go from limb to limb of the pine tree as it climbed out into the brightening sky.

scooping the sky
free of its darkness
morning star

At the computer, I began typing up the poems from the other snippet book titled:

from the wives of god
the functional forgetting
begins with two lines or more

I was surprised that I had written in there, several days ago, the very poem that now dovetailed into today.

our parts danced
and parents receded into day
forgotten persons
stumbling home running dark
brave in the fifties of ice

In my email was a letter from Janet, the Janet of her Rockford, our grade school, her rabbits, and my twin. She wrote: "Also working as a writer/editor for 20 years burned me out on writing, which was always a strain for me. I always said it was the hardest thing I've ever done, and I've had to do some hard things. It was you who gave me the bug. I remember we were standing at the window of Mrs. Wolfe's classroom watching it rain and you said that when you grew up you were going to be an author of history books, and then explained that authors were the people who wrote books. Don't think I had ever heard of an author before, or for that matter ever quite realized that someday I'd be grown
up. Anyway, the idea resonated with me immediately."

I was so touched that she remembered this incident, which I had forgotten. It seemed I had been given a priceless gift today to have this chunk of my childhood, cared for, remembered and given back to me. When you think how many thoughts have gone across her brain in almost 64 years, it seems a small miracle that she could give me this.

When I went outdoors to make an offering at the new rock shrine I was delighted to see that a nasturtium had sprouted and already grown up through the floor of the little spirit house! So good spirits are there and have let me know they are happy with their new dwelling.

Then I worked on this file, setting up my blog. At first I thought of using a different color scheme from the rest of ahapoetry but my skills with computer graphics have forced me to keep the design similar and simple. Whatever I accomplish here always seems a minor miracle because I am in no way in control of what I get. 

When I checked in on my website the counter was poised at 414444.

In the evening, while I writing up the paper version of my journal (out of habit I cannot so quickly abandon that practice) the telephone rang. It was Kay. This is the Kay who is in the other two stories of ceremonies with Martin Prechtel :Grandmother Sea With Eyebrows Of Foam Ceremony 2000 and On the Beach of Stars Every Grain of Sand a Soul of Fire Ceremony 2001. She, too had gone back to visit the spirit boat and told me a beautiful story of how when she was there the ancestors got in touch with her and even gave her a gift from their lives. As marvelous as her story was, her slip of tongue added an important dimension. Wanting to say, "When I recognized them. . ." she said, "When I recognized myself." The phone was very silent for a long time as she thought about what she had just said.

We had such a good time sharing our stories we decided to hold a little 'get-together' of locals to share our experiences because 'something' is certainly happening there and we felt that if others had gone to visit the ship they, too, would have stories.

JULY 4th, 2001 - Wednesday
Today has been a firecracker of a holiday; one that fizzles and quietly goes out. Unfortunately Barry's rejection yesterday continued to bother me too much for such a small thing. When I finally got to work typing up yesterday's poems, and was able to forget my embarrassment, Jody called to apologize for him. Again I had to take out the shreds of my self-esteem to decide what was worth repairing and what should be forgotten. The rest of my day just never jelled. 

I am ashamed I hide
my soul in bandaged moments
I died for beauty
when it put a belt around my life
the day grew small, surrounded tight

Some days before I had photocopied from a book the first lines of 800 of Emily Dickinson's poems. These I had cut apart, mixed in a box to draw at random to make up my own poems. These I taped down into little books (fascicles) for myself. When the book was full, I typed up the lines directly as they appeared. Then today I reworked the poems into being my own. The first one in the book is:

let us play
as if yesterday a daisy vanished
departed to judgment
whatever it is, she has tried it
whatever she dissolves into it is

The rest of the 80+ poems I will save so they may dribble down through my coming days. It is as if I have already lived parts of tomorrows with the feelings captured just a few days ago.

Coming back from our walk under overcast skies, I noticed how the mint had grown with last week's rain. So I picked all that was hanging across the stone walkway.

a taste of garden
in my cup
days of sunshine rain
with a peppermint taste

Wanting to have some sort of celebration, and knowing our little town will not set off its fireworks until a later Saturday, I listened to the radio and accidentally heard Gene Burns reading the Declaration of Independence. I hadn't planned on crying but the brave words touched me so deeply. We do have a great country- warts, bushes and all.

4th of July
parades and fireworks
for the nun
there are extra prayers
another stick of incense

Copyright ©Jane Reichhold 2001

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