Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A Magnolia Rain

This year, the opening magnolias were the lushest, thickest, fullest and most perfect I’ve ever seen. When they were still in early bud, Keith said that it is rare for the magnolia blossoms to survive. “Rain,” he said, glumly, “usually comes and destroys them.” Yesterday I walked and cycled around admiring the magnolias. They were almost completely open. Gorgeous. Today, they would have reached the apex of perfection. Last night, it rained. Not a nurturing, nourishing female rain, but a raging male rain with lightning and thunder. Downpours. This morning, the sky is black and the magnolias ragged.

Did someone already say this? Probably. It seems like everything has been said before.

But--would a "Magnolia Rain" be a soft female rain that allowed the magnolias to survive? Or was it this male rain that tortured them?

Mary Stebbins

For Keith

Monday, April 18, 2005

"The Rest of the Story"

I was upset earlier today because we were expecting company--Neil, Laura and Rachel--at 6:00 PM. I did not know if we were supposed to serve them dinner and I did not understand why they had not called to accept or decline our invitation and did not know what to do. It turned out that they had called twice to accept and both times had given messages to Graham and he had neglected to pass them on and as a result, I had to run around attempting to create a dinner for company AFTER they arrived. I thought I did a reasonably good job (made shrimp (yum) and Italian friend zucchini (yum) and molasses cookies, but it was obvious we were unprepared. And because of this, I missed much of the company and was unable to play with Rachel who then shunned me and refused me kisses. I did not want her to be forced to kiss me because I hated that when I was a child. No one should force kisses on anyone.

Here are a couple of other opinions: people who wash their driveways have no lives and are wasting precious resources and probably should be shot (except that would be a waste of a good bullet).

Here is the poster that goes with the haiku I wrote. The artist's name is Neva Austew. Here is a link to her website: . I love this piece of art and hope you will visit Neva's website and support her and her work. Posted by Hello


I hate sitting inside looking out at the sunshine and for no good reason. Except that there is one delay after another. Right now, I am waiting for Graham to come home. I won't go into all the earlier delays--they aren't worth the effort. It included laundry issues and computer issues and various wrong numbers and just plain stupid stuff.

While I was waiting for one issue to resolve, I did a little ego surfing, don't ask me why. I encountered this link: And there is the peregrine poster with one of my haiku. Cool. I do have to worry because links are not always permanent. I may put it in my weblog only to find later that it is gone. But for now, hurray!!

I like peregrines. I have been lucky enough to encounter a few in the wild. I like hawks in general. One time, when Bruce and I were out in Idaho doing horse research, we camped under a tree with a redtailed hawk nest at the top and a yellow warbler next at the bottom of the same tree.

I don't generally talk much about Bruce because I am with Keith and Bruce is with Debbie and n'er the twain shall meet. But Keith has pictures of Susan all over the house. And all her books and clothes and perfume and hair curlers and credit cards and cards he has given her. She's been dead well over two years. So if I want to mention Bruce occasionally, I guess that's OK.

Here is the haiku I wrote that is posted on the website:

Under tumbled black,

Liquid pigeons pour through sky,

Chased by peregrine.

In case the website disappears, I will also include the visual.

So, Graham finally arrives home--with a friend. He did not ASK if he could bring a friend. Now what? I wanted to OUT and walk because we are having company tonight and I won't be able to. Grrr!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The Hard-Luck Dove Nest

The Hard-Luck Dove Nest Posted by Hello

Hard-Luck Dove Nest

The doves abandoned the nest in the back bedroom window today. This morning they were working feverishly to add to the nest and save the eggs, bringing grass and twigs, but their efforts were feeble compared to the increasing slump of the nest. I was sad to see them go—they've been sitting on those eggs for weeks already.

Additionally sadly (forgive the double adverbs), the object at the bottom of the picture is a baby bird from last year that got tangled in the grapevines and was unable to free itself and died there—this after I had watched them being fed and cared for. I was away when the sad event happened.

Once, there were two nests in the two back bedroom windows, the north one being a robins’ nest and the south one belonging to a pair of cardinals. Both were used for years until the doves took them over. The heavy ex-robins’ nest with its baby doves was the first to go down, blown out of the protecting vines in a windstorm. Now the other is going, and it is two late for the eggs, some of which have already tumbled to the ground. Two remain but must be chilled by now.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Retelling: one new and six old pictures of Margaret. Posted by Hello

The Retelling

The Retelling

I once read that it was important to name the people you love to keep them real. I liked the idea, a sort of invocation. I tried it. Every morning when I awoke, every night as I went to sleep. Saying the names of everyone I wanted to hold in my heart took more and more of my day. I have so many to love. To keep real. Regretfully, I gave it up. Almost. Sometimes, I still name my loved ones. At night, I often wake to realize I was saying those names in my dreams.

Yesterday, my mother gave me a piece of cherry pie that her friend Helen had given her. She didn’t want the pie wasted, but she couldn’t eat it. It wasn’t a real piece of pie made by a person, or even a bakery pie, but a little fake pie full of preservatives. She had been trying to give it to me for a week. Finally, to appease her, I took it.

“I can’t eat it,” she told me, for the twentieth time, plaintively. “There’s something about the cherries. They don’t agree with me.”

“I remember about the cherries,” I tell her, “and I can tell you the story. I don’t know how old you were, but it was a long time ago. You were eating cherries, and you bit one in half. There was a worm inside, so you tossed it away and bit another in half. That one had a worm, too. You cut the rest of the cherries and half and every one had a worm inside. You felt sick, because you had already eaten a number of those cherries. You were never able to eat cherries after that.”

“Yes,” my mother said, “I remember now. There were worms in all the cherries.”

“Extra protein,” I say. Sometimes, she really remembers, but today, I’m not sure. I sit there, holding her hand, remembering another retelling.

My father was moved from the room in the nursing home he shared with another man. After too much pain, he was finally put on morphine. We had all gone to see him, my mother, my daughters, and me. We held each of his hands and each of his feet. He moaned. I said, “Remember the time we skied at Mount Snow, swam in the heated pool and watched the steam rise against the snow?” And I told him the story.

And my mother said, “Remember Margareto’s Lodge, how I always had a warm meal ready for you when you came home from your adventures?” And she told that story. We went around the bed, each of us telling a story. Then we went around again. We were retelling his life, his life and ours. We did not know yet that at the end of the retelling he would die. He did not live through the night.

I turn to my mother. “Remember,” I say, “how you loved to roller skate down the sidewalks to your Grandmother’s house? You kept the key to the metal skates on a ribbon around your neck.”

She nods. “Is the house on Ellsworth Ave still in the family? Are my parents still alive?”
“No, I tell her, “your parents died almost sixty years ago.” I never know if I should ell her this. She looks sad. “The house is sold. Remember the fire you had in the house, when someone dropped a match in the wastebasket?” I tell her the story again.

“Remember when you married Pa, and you didn’t tell anyone at American Locomotive Company, where you both worked? It was April Fool’s Day. You were so pleased to have such a wonderful secret. It was 1944, and you had quit college to work on the war effort, remember?”

“Remember,” I ask, “when you had three babies and sat and watched the trains go by in your back yard? And rode in the old black Ford with the rumble seat?”

She nods. “Remember,” I ask, “when you chopped your fingers off in the lawnmower, packed them in ice, and drove yourself to the hospital? They reattached all your fingers. You can’t even tell.” She holds up her hands and studies the thin gnarled fingers in amazement.

“I don’t remember that,” she says. I will have to tell her again and again, how brave she was, how smart. “You were so brave, so smart.”

Then we say the names: Mary and Wallace Thomas, her parents, John and Wally Thomas, her brothers. Joseph, her husband, my father. Ann, her friend and sister-in-law. We are deep in the retelling, saying the names and making them real. Mary, Robert, Tom, her children. Sara, Erin. Tanya, Jaison, Rosy. Rory, Cory. Her grandchildren. Makenzie, Tharin, Jacob. Her great grandchildren. Graham, my new son, Keith, my fiancé. I have taped all their pictures around the room.

“Margaret. Mom,” I say, “don’t forget yourself. Remember,” I add, “when people called you Maggie?”

“Yes,” she says, “and some called me Margie. My friends. Marjorie Sheffer, Ruth Grenoble, Ruth DeVries. I remember my friends. I remember them now.”

Mary Stebbins
April 3, 2005
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Saturday, April 02, 2005

I recropped it so that the bird was a larger part of the picture. Named it Lady Redbird. Posted by Hello

I cropped the picture and tried to lighten and brighten it a little. Posted by Hello

This is the picture of the female cardinal I took at Niagara on my way home. Posted by Hello