Just bitchin'

#March

blogmarch1

“In like a lion; out like a lamb.”

That’s the way the month of March, that quixotic, transitional interval spanning from winter into spring ;

 

And HOLY CRAP!!! Just as I hit the semicolon, a huge flash and an immediate clap of thunder that made my hands jump, my cat’s tail expand to alarming proportions, and the house shake!!!

I kid you not.

Photo043

So now, after a brief break while all things electrical were turned off and a barrage of hail flattened the hyacinths in my planters…now I will continue. And it seems more appropriate than ever to discuss March and its unique attributes.

I think I’ll leave the unfinished thought and improperly placed semicolon above as a tribute to the angriest month on the calendar. Maybe that slight offering will keep it from further inflicting itself on me.

What started me writing about this in the first place was my kitchen ceiling. Its disconsolate dripping is a fitting sound track. The sagging, cracking sheet-rock another testament to the birth pangs of spring. The light switch taped down to discourage inadvertently flipping it on and shorting out the kitchen light that is perilously close to the leak and thereby burning down my house is another signature of March.

I’m not a fan of the month.

But I still wonder about that ‘in like a lion’ thing.

Lions are golden and soft-furred and regal. March is dark and violent.

And ‘out like a lamb?’ Lambs are cute, but they can be messy and loud and notoriously hard to catch. (Note the hover-lamb below.)

hover lamb_1

So based on this year’s experience with the month only half over, and as a plea for the quieter, more manageable way in which I hope it will end:

March —

In like a brontosaurus; out like an arthritic vole.

In like a tsunami; out like a jar of grape jelly.

In like Trump; out like My Little Pony.

Just, please, no more shaking and roaring, okay? OKAY??

blogmarchcat

Advertisements
Standard
Just bitchin'

Lilacs

bloglilac1

There have always been lilacs.

When I was a child, in the first home I recall, they bordered our yard.

As our truncated, customized version of a family moved from locale to locale, they were the first things my mother would plant. It didn’t matter that it might take years before their piquant blossoms would show; that we would have moved on long before the flowers appeared.

There had to be lilacs taking root while we lived wherever we lived, whenever we lived.

When we finally did put down roots of our own, lilacs thrived.

They grew in purple profusion, spilling their heady scent into our lungs, into our dreams, into our souls, into the languid California nights. The sultry heat of the Southwest drew forth flowers and fragrance that would forever be associated with the lessons of childhood.

And one of the most important was illustrated…by lilacs.

It started as a game.

“Find the five-petaled blossom.”

bloglilac2

I and my siblings would scour the heavy panicles of purple or pink or cream or yellow to find…

…the mutant.

Among the overwhelming presence of tiny, four-petaled flowers would lurk the stranger in their midst. The five- or even six-petaled bloom. It was special. Strange. Something to be sought. Something marvel-worthy.

“It stands out,” my mother instructed us. “It does not fit in. It will never be ‘normal.’ But…it is beautiful. It excels the norm. But it will always stand alone.”

Excelling the norm became our motto.

Standing alone became our fate.

My mother raised us.

Lilacs all.

bloglilac3.

Standard
Just bitchin'

Zombie of the Season

blogpollen1

It’s insidious.

It wafts about virtually unseen until it accumulates in deceptively pretty, golden drifts. It collects in the crevices and at the interstices of your newly-washed car, your lawn furniture…your innocently-gaping throat and nostrils. Your eyes.

But those are mere diversionary tactics.

It wants your brain.

It’s pollen. The wild, golden child of all those lovely Spring catkins gracefully dipping and swaying in the breeze.

It is the zombie of the plant world.

It wants your brain.

And it shall have it.

Oh, sure, you can try to stave it off with any number of chemical weapons. But sometimes you don’t want to risk the accompanying lethargy. Sometimes you don’t relish the idea of every moist membrane of your body being converted into dry, cracked parchment. Your vivid imagination conjures up sinuses lined with something resembling California’s drought-ridden soil, webbed with arid fissures.

You don’t want that.

So you decide to power through the discomfort, hawking and coughing all the way.

By the time you are reduced to a wheezing, gelatinous mass, abandoned by friends and family because, let’s face it, you’re kind of disgusting like this, you begin to crack. Much like the California drought-ridden soil. The tiny crevices gather and grow and intersect and become one glorious gape.

You shatter.

You take the antihistamine. And it’s not the non-drowsy version, because, well, you’re still laboring under the delusion that you can power through anything the season dishes up. A sign your brain is already under siege.

In a few hours you will blink stupidly instead of speaking cogently. You will nod off over your keyboard. You will struggle for the words just out of reach. You will lick dry lips to no avail. You will rub dry eyes to a sandpapery texture.

You will fix the world in your deadened, dry gaze, and realize the final enormity of your defeat.

You and pollen have become one. You are the outward manifestation of pollen.

Zombies both.

It wanted your brain.

And it got it.

blogpollen2.

Standard
Just bitchin'

Season of Bounty

blogmouse1

The calendar says ‘Not yet.’

The budding trees say ‘Almost.’

But Spring is here.

It crept into my home this morning. Actually, it was carried in. It was deposited with loving care on my bed before I knew what was happening. It was released beside my elbow as I lingered in the last, dusky shreds of sleep.

It electrified me.

It bolted me from my rest and my sheets, and the security of Winter slumber hitherto undisturbed by those who walk on four paws and bring…gifts… It burrowed under my comforter and snuggled deep with desperation rooted in its instinct to survive.

Spring is here.

I know because the invasion has begun and I have been pressed into the dual role of victim of, as well as EMT for, vermin.

My cat, Jack Sparrow, is thrilled. This is the time when he can truly express his gratitude for being adopted from a shelter. This is when, after long, cold, barren months, he can shower me with an embarrassment of feline riches. This is when he gets to watch the ensuing chaos after bringing me his version of ‘breakfast in bed.’

It amuses him. I can tell.

He takes a ringside seat and watches the race to find a receptacle that is mouse-worthy. Tail twitching, he sees how clumsily I trap his ‘gift’ in the drinking glass that will never be allowed to touch my lips again. Not after this. His whiskers tilt forward and his ears tilt back as his scantily-clad, furless owner dashes out into the chill morning air in search of a site where the ‘gift’ may be released with a reasonable expectation of escape and survival.

Deep inside, Jack Sparrow does a cat-chuckle.

Because he knows where to find more ‘gifts.’ And he will. A weekly, if not daily, progression of small, scurrying, squeaking bounty await him.

Spring is here.

The only thing more alarming is Summer.

That’s when the snakes appear.

blogmouse2

Standard
Just bitchin'

Lessons from a Lummi

bloglummispring1

Growing up, my mother had a friend named Mary Hillaire.

She was an outspoken member of the Lummi Indian tribe in Washington state. Her name was Anglicized from Hill Air, I was told. She was an activist, an educator, and instrumental in founding programs devoted to the study of Native American culture. She left her mark particularly on Evergreen State College in Olympia.

At one point, my mother helped her write some of her speeches. Mom had the secretarial skills, but Mary had the charismatic ability to make people listen. She was an extraordinary woman.

Her spirit visits me every Spring.

I remember her standing outdoors in our yard, breathing deeply of the still chill air. She would joke about it being mandatory, given her name. And then she would fall silent before instructing the pale child beside her, whom she couldn’t know would store her lessons for a lifetime.

She said that Spring was not a season so much as a feeling of life surging upward and forth from the frozen ground. She could feel it in her blood, like wine. Spring was a promise that was always kept.

She told me to follow its example and never break faith.

I thought of Shakespeare’s Juliet, decrying that Romeo would swear upon the moon, saying that the ever-changing, inconstant moon was a poor example upon which to base a vow. The seasons change as does the moon, but they are reliable in that changeability. Mary Hillaire took a longer view, and in doing so, revealed a deeper truth.

Mary gifted my mother with an exquisitely woven basket; an artifact of her people. It featured stylized deer circling the rim. Each stood forth on four sturdy legs. Except one. It only had three legs. She told me it was intentional. She said if all the deer had four legs, the basket would be perfect. Humans were incapable of perfection. To produce something perfect was to mimic the gods…a thing both disrespectful and dangerous.

One must always acknowledge one’s flawed humanity and remain humble.

I don’t know how Mom and Mary met, but I suspect they became friends because they shared a concern about the fragility of their respective cultures.

To this day much of my mother’s background is unknown, veiled in vague mutterings about political expediency and the KGB in Russia at the time. She mentioned how the Soviet Union was overwriting languages of the countries that became satellites, insisting only Russian be taught in schools. She dreaded the loss of so many cultures.

Mrs. Hillaire had similar concerns. So she worked tirelessly to make sure tribal culture had a voice and remained strong.

It was her life’s work and admirably accomplished.

But to me, as trees begin to burst with blossoms, Mary Hillaire is a voice on the wind, telling me to be human and flawed…and to breathe deep.

Because life, like the seasons, is a self-renewing promise.

bloglummispring2

Standard