Tonight, Sue, the grumpy but super efficient cashier at my favorite diner called me Honey. I add this to a lifetime of breakthrough achievements with severe-seeming older women like Doris, who looked like she was going to shoo you off the summer porch but taught me to sail a sunfish. Like Rose, the tough boss of the Interlochen housekeeping department who gave me a broom and a summer job. Like Ruth at college work study who paid me to xerox packets of class materials for professors that I revered. Like Joan, my principal’s administrative assistant who ruled Cranbrook with well-polished nails and a shrewd phone delivery. Like Judy, the chain-smoking artist in Provincetown who could copy-edit an office doc until it resonated like a bell. And yes, the four octogenarian ladies of Cedar, Michigan who I danced the polka with at Cedarfest when I was 19 and was later greeted by local police who slapped me on the back and treated me to a beer.
- Seth, kills his successful brother, Osiris, and floats the king down the river in a casket.
- Queen Isis, wife of Osiris, finds the coffin and hides it in the reeds and rushes.
- Seth discovers that the coffin has been found, he opens it, and chops the body into pieces and spreads them around.
- Isis gathers the pieces together, uses some magic, and brings him back to life.
- Isis couples with Osiris before he descends into Hades.
- Their baby, Horus, challenges Seth for the throne and reclaims it.
“Those fighting to be included in the ideal of equality are not being divisive. Those fighting to keep those people out, are.” -Jon Stewart
In 1978, I had a breakout moment in my basketball career. I was a shooting guard on the Interlochen Elementary JV team. After about three team turnovers in 35 seconds, I grabbed a loose ball, broke away from the pack and nailed a layup. For the opposing team. My dad, who had coached high school football for a dozen years, stayed remarkably composed in the bleachers. He didn’t suddenly start rooting for the other team.
On October 8, 1988, I was in college in my dorm room with the windows pulled up. I was listening to the booming PA from across campus when Columbia University’s 44 game losing streak came to an end with the 16-13 defeat of our football team. I started going to games after that loss. I wanted to contribute some energy to orange and black. I wasn’t evaluating, I was rooting.
I have nearly always followed Detroit teams. Rarely was I choosing them for their record. I was listening for Ernie Harwell’s voice, I was watching for Sparky Anderson to spit and kick at dust.
Is it possible that some of the oddity about American politics is that we’ve confused political parties with sports teams? That Rubio’s “take-down” of Obama’s mosque visit was some crowd cheer that didn’t have to be true to be fun?
When you get to visit with a best friend’s mom. Growing up studying studio art on her walls. Rides home from school. Snacks from her kitchen. Trips to the beach. Pizza parties. Openness. Generosity. Goofy fun. Fiber sculptures. Giant loom in a picture window.
Today I’m having a butter-burger and cheese curds at Culver’s restaurant with my mom, when three men from my past approach the table. Mr. Parks, my sixth grade teacher from Pathfinder School. Mr. Scheffler, a neighbor, friend and former director at Interlochen. As well as one of their mutual friends of 40 years.
The three drifted to us, calling out our names, remembering shared events.
Mr. Parks took me and thirteen other sixth graders camping in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for five days. He had us plan, pack, and cook our own meals. We hiked Pictured Rocks seashore, navigating caves, climbed fire towers at Seney Wildlife Refuge. The first pictures I ever took are grainy snapshots of waterfalls, while standing next to Mr. Parks.
Mr. Scheffler lived across the street. His wife, Pat, and my mom ran Interlochen’s academic library. That was the center rotunda on campus. I remember the shining waxed floors and the new books being ordered, received, stamped, processed into card catalogs, and delivered to shelves.
In 1976, the year my family moved to Interlochen, Mr. Scheffler and Mr. Parks canoed from Traverse Bay to the Mackinaw Bridge in 4 days by themselves. That was what two great friends picked to do for fun. I totally get that.
I didn’t want to let go of the handshakes. I feel so lucky that they saw us, remembered us, and asked about our adventures, our families, friends, what we were reading. Just like they have been doing probably for seventy years.
“Quicker than birds, they dipped
Up and sifted the dirt;
They sprinkled and shook;
They stood astride pipes,
Their skirts billowing out wide into tents,
Their hands twinkling with wet;
Like witches they flew along rows
Keeping creation at ease;
With a tendril for needle
They sewed up the air with a stem;
They teased out the seed that the cold kept asleep,
All the coils, loops, and whorls.
They trellised the sun; they plotted for more than themselves.”
In one of my favorite Roethke poems, he describes three German ladies (FRAU BAUMAN, FRAU SCHMIDT, AND FRAU SCHWARTZE) who were part of his earliest life, as he grew up in his father’s greenhouse:
“Who creaked on the greenhouse ladders,
Reaching up white strings
To wind, to wind
The sweet-pea tendrils, the smilax,
nasturtiums, the climbing
Roses, to straighten
Chrysanthemums; the stiff
Stems jointed like corn,
They tied and tucked,
These nurses of nobody else.”
Tonight we hiked along a boardwalk at the Manteo visitor center that reached out into Roanoke Sound. This was once the property of the Collins family, a prominent African-American family that had owned a large parcel of land for generations.
My father-in-law represented them in an eminent domain case when the city/state was arguing that their harbor propety had little value because it was too shallow for the development of a marina.
Then Norm called the historian, David Stick, to the stand. Stick testified that the entire Navy fleet once spent some tense moments hiding in that harbor during the Civil War.
Too shallow? The cost of not knowing history? The eventual cost of the property was north of 4x the original sales price. I love that Mavis witnesses her grandfather’s wit and wisdom.
A friend’s kombucha company was destroyed in a fire this weekend. While insurance and appraisers do their work, her friends and customers are dropping unopened bottles of her product off at her doorstep. Each bottle includes a part of her original scoby: the yeast and bacteria colony that make up her original recipe.
This story reminds me of Kizer’s poem, Semele Recycled, when the heroin is exploded into pieces across the planet. Semele gathers herself together, literally. She, like Rachel, is a badass.
Mr. Rogers really should have walked through his door, then taken off his pants and put on sweatpants when he started his show.