Christmas sights this week:
6 members of the Salvation Army choir singing their hearts out at the entrance to Walgreen’s, their voices carrying through the air to my car as I drive by…..
Great Christmas lights in River Oaks where enormous oaks dangle long strands of light from limb to ground…..
Snow, last snow 2004, next snow who knows, snow on Wednesday evening, swirling down fast enough to stick. I have to take a walk in it, stand under street lights where I can see it best. Its beauty shakes my heart. Who knows when I’ll see it again. And sure enough, by the next afternoon, it’s almost temperate. Houston in winter….
Out to Mom’s to make empanadillas, Puerto Rican meat pies, once a family tradition. We’ve upgraded. My daughter found a meat pie dough, already cut in circles. Still, it’s a lot of work, cooking pork, the smell of onion, garlic, capers, everywhere, adding a little olive, a bit of hard-boiled egg in the filling. Mom dozes in a rocking chair as we fold and fry. The meat pies are good, but not as good as memory. Isn’t that true about everything…?
Posted in family, life
Tagged "River Oaks", "Salvation Army", Add new tag, Christmas, empanadillas, Houston, Karleen Koen, lights, snow, winter
Where were you when Barack Obama became the next president of the United States? The emotion of the election Tuesday night will remain in my memory, just as I remember where I was when John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy were killed. The wound around the assassinations of my girlhood and young womanhood has been somehow opened for cleansing with this man from Illinois’s election. I’ve been crying on and off since Tuesday, when I see a photo of his shining smile, or read again one of his potent quotes, or see photos or videos of people’s happiness and amazement. Idealism again? Possibility again? Devotion to the higher ground again? John McCain’s concession speech was eloquent, truly gracious and even better, truly patriotic. In that moment I loved him, and when he called Obama “my president,” I started crying all over again and thought, you are indeed, at your best, a grand old man, all that is best in the word: warrior. Historical novels are built off the emotion and memories of moments like this past week.
I want to mention two lovely and deep memoirs out there, one by my agent Jean Naggar, called Sipping From the Nile. Jean writes of her life in a closely knit banking family in Egypt, their exile because of politics, and the remaking of a life in Europe and New York. The other memoir is by a spiritual mentor, Dunya Dianne MePherson. Called Skin of Glass, it is the story of her interior and exterior journey from gifted performer to Sufi mystic and gifted performer.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged "Barack Obama", "Bobby Kennedy", "Dunya Dianne McPherson, "Jean Naggar", "John Kennedy", "Martin Luther King", "Twin Towers", Add new tag, Challenger, history, Karleen Koen, memoir, Sufi
I took my mother to see her sister in Florida. My uncle was flying in for a reunion of the siblings. Mom has mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. It was a driving trip and hard for us both. She was a trooper but confused, overwhelmed by choices and new places and the familiar being always unfamiliar. She had very much wanted to go to Florida, but by the time I dropped her off she was fretful, quietly upset, and ready to go home. Within a day, she was soothed, but all of us realized that her days of traveling zestfully to other places were over.
She and her sister are close. Theirs has been a vibrant, loving relationship. They were black belt shoppers and mothers of large families. They exchanged clothes and wore the same hair-dos. The day before I brought her back, I was so aware that my mom will never go to her sister’s home again, sit in those comfortable rooms with all the photos of family, sit on the porch, drink coffee, talk about children or weather or husbands or the weight they’ve gained or lost. It’s another ending for Mom. She doesn’t know it; that’s the kindness, I guess. But I felt it, felt sadness and loss and life’s moving on, its steel-edged inevitability.
I felt the same during my sister’s last weeks. I walked the yard, daffodils ready to bloom everywhere, with my college-age daughter and thought, my sister will never do this, this very simple, we take it so for granted thing, with her grown daughter. It hurt in the most exquisite way––life’s hardness and our fragility, death and rebirth, luck and that which will be.
Posted in Before Versailles, character, creativity, Dark Angels, family, Houston, Karleen Koen, life, love, mothers, Now Face to Face, sisters, story and character, story and family, Through A Glass Darkly
Tagged Add new tag, Alzheimer's, another ending for my mother, Karleen Koen, life, mother, sister
Here’s my latest kinda haiku. I play with that 5, 7, 5 syllable poem structure sometimes. It’s like finger exercises for my mind. I usually notice something in my garden and work with the haiku structure to capture it. I always enjoy attempting the precision haiku requires; it makes my mind feel sharp, crisp.
You are late, my dear
I gave up on you––but there
you are–– four fat tight
the color of sherbet
Posted in Before Versailles, creativity, Dark Angels, family, Houston, Karleen Koen, life, Now Face to Face, story and life, Through A Glass Darkly, writing process
Tagged "christmas cactus", "writing tips", Add new tag, haiku, how I love haiku, Karleen Koen, writing process