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Archive for October, 2007

It was so warm for an October day. Still, I wore three layers and brought hot tea. I sat on a rock for a while before hunting.  I am fighting a nasty cold so I didn’t stay long. I’ll just look a bit, I told myself.  And I did.

I found a few stunning pieces (see catch of the day below). I felt the tiredness wash over me and knew it was time to head home for a luscious nap. “Just one more,” I told myself, “Just one more.” 

I kept looking but the looking was a little less relaxed and a lot more desperate. Will I find an amazing marble, a bottle neck or a deep blue? I have to hurry, it’s time to go home, I should be resting. But what if the next one is the best one? I say, “Just one more and then I’ll go,” and then I do find one more. It’s smooth and weathered and beautiful. White. The last one is the best one and I can go home now and rest. Right?

I don’t stop. I keep searching. “Just one more.” And again, there a light pink one, a triangle with soft edges and it’s marvelous. It’s clearly been swimming in the deep for at least a decade. A treasure. A treasure. See? See, I tell myself, how can I stop now? 

I keep searching.  Well, I haven’t been out for a while, and I’m already sick, what’s a little less time not resting? Maybe, “I’ll just find one more. One more.”

Let  me be clear. While sea glass is not so prevalent as it was before the new bottle laws and recycling, there is no shortage of beach glass or sea glass near me. I will not run out of opportunities to find more.  If I were energized to get it all I would still miss pieces. If I went five times a day I would not come back empty handed. There is no shortage. Except in my being and in this drive to get what? Is it simply the acquiring? The fear of missing out? The inability to stop doing something?

Whatever the reason it is also why I can’t be alone in a house with a bag of chips, leftover cake or virtually any pie. This lie of “just one more” is never filling for me. I know this now. Cheez-Its never even get to be in my car because they do not survive the ride home to get into my cabinets. 

Except for the first five bites of certain foods, or the early stages of hunting, every single one is the ‘last one’ and ‘just one more’ and when you do that about one-hundred times it’s hard not to notice that you are deceiving yourself.

Aging makes telling lies, even to yourself, much less appealing. When my daughter was a baby I used to say, “There’s no problem a cheerio can’t fix.” Later, “No problem a hug can’t fix,” and it made me happy and proud. It was satisfying to have exactly what she needed when she needed it. And what do we humans crave for comfort or when in distress? Food. Love. Not that either one is anythig but essential. And yet, too much, the need for more, the bottomless pit of desire and the endless seeking is not what I want for my daughter or for myself. At some point enough is enough, or at least it’s supposed to be, right?  

Here’s what I love about sea glass – you can’t eat it. Actually, I’m proud to say I have yet to try. I can honestly say I haven’t even considered it before. What I love about sea glass hunting as a practice is that it is illuminating. I don’t only learn about sea glass but about my own self, the soft and stunning pieces as well as the sharp-edged ones needing more work. So I will return again and again and again. The first step is paying attention. So today I was present to my own greedy desire, my hunger that was going to get satisfied no matter what I found or how long I searched. And if I return to attentiveness, I can keep saying, “just one more time,” endlessly.

Catch of the day

  • a palm-sized grey piece of glass – a soft warm grey
  • a white piece, smooth and foamy on most surfaces but with one little section where the letters “simp” are clear as can be
  • a greenish-yellow piece so covered with dirt it looks beaten up. I have the urge to give it a bath.
  • a pink piece fairly untouched by the sea that I couldn’t let go of despite it not being too smooth
  • a perfect smooth piece of light pink that could be a worry stone or on an altar – so beautiful it could be worshipped
  • a tiny “tooth” of a piece, square and frosty
  • four similarly shaded browns (two which were right next to each other) and two found at random
  • A thick green piece, long and angular at one end
  • two pieces of pottery
  • one very large shell – thick and white and solid as a paperweight 
  • The knowing that some of the sea glass does get caught in the sea moss and that if I lift it I will often find a treasure.

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Sea Class Crafts

So far, I have not felt the pull to create a sea-glass mosaic though I have considered making a wall of tiles with sea glass in each tile.

Mostly though, I love being able to hold the sea glass in my hand. Even the pieces I make as necklaces need to show the sea glass. I’m most happy with the larger pieces of sea glass that hang on my neck – ones I can use touch stone throughout the day.

However, I love to look at what others do with sea glass and many who view this site have the sea glass bug and are itchy to try new things with their collections.
Here’s a link to a page that gives some instruction.

http://www.essortment.com/hobbies/craftsartsbeac_svay.htm

Here’s a great site for making sea glass necklaces:

http://www.essortment.com/hobbies/beachglassneck_szwe.htm 

 And one person on this forum http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/necoast/msg0607444516615.html?12 seemed to have endless ideas about what can be done with sea glass (scroll down a bit once you get on the site).

Catch of the Day: Get to the source of whatever brings you delight. And if that delight comes in the form of free gifts, ‘glitter littler’ from Mother Nature, be very VERY very grateful.

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in memory of a neighbor

He did not find shore, a safe haven, his brother knocked empty on a loud door.I sat at my desk looking out the window into darkness and listening.No one expected a response. Papa H..said “Hi” today as I passed him yesterday’s paper. It wasn’t even noon.He was talking to our postal carrier.They were silent as I approached but kept talking as I got closer.“He’s not been getting his mail. For weeks.”“He could be away,” H said.“He knows to put a stop mail,”she said. She knew him from work. He was a postal carrier too.“Have you seen him?” one of them asked.”I saw him a week ago. Or was it two? He was in bad shape. He stumbled from the cab,” I said.

“He’s drinking again?” she asked.
”I don’t know if he was drinking, maybe he was just sick,” I said.

”He wasn’t even watching the game. He likes baseball,” he said
”His family should be calling every few days, right?” she said.
”I don’t see no one down here for him,” he said.
“Maybe they are mad at him,” she said.I thought of my own person who had a birthday no party.

I felt sick for the rest of the day.
An 80 degree day in October.
Warm and sunny but pumpkins aren’t supposed to sit on porches next to blooming morning glories and barbecue supplies.Black construction paper cats on the door and eating fudge-sicles don’t mix.It’s not supposed to be this warm when leaves turn color.Even my meat got bagged in ice at the grocery store so it wouldn’t spoil, so the cold cuts would stay fresh. But what about him?
Was he smoldering in there?
The windows weren’t open.The knock, unanswered. Papa brought his brother a screw driver so he could go through the window.Why didn’t anyone turn on the lights? A car light? A flash light.His brother called out into the house and all I could hear was the calling.Windows open in a neighborhood where we live on top of each other and know each other’s lives. He lived two doors down.  The phone rang. I knew it would be Nana C.I didn’t want to see her name on the caller id.“He’s dead. He died,” she said. “I thought you should know.”
It’s so sad,” I said.
She had sid to him, “Can I give you a hug?” when he returned from rehab.“Sure,” he said and took it.“We care about you here,” she had said as herself and as our neighborhood.“I’ve never had so much support in my life,” he said. The ambulance came but they didn’t stay. They didn’t even pull him out on a stretcher.
A fire truck came and went. Red and blue lights off and on. Coming. Going.
His brother got the call that he was in really bad shape. His brother got him into a rehab, got ready to take him to the hospital as he had a seizure in the passenger seat. It didn’t take, the quitting or the rehab. I saw him walking, some said, to the AA meetings at the church at the end of the street. I saw him taking peaches from another neighbor’s tree at night and wondered if they tasted good or if he was just hungry for any food. Papa H noticed no trash was going out, the lights weren’t even on for the Red Sox series. Bad signs.  I gave you three things in the last year. And maybe not much more in the entire time we shared this street. I gave you a dirty look, when drunk, you drove past me and my daughter. She was chalking in the street. You swerved the car when you bent down to look at her. I stared at you as a mother saying, ‘Don’t drive on this street drunk and dangerous. Children play here.” You were about fifty but the disease made you skinny and hunched and bony.Your tires were flattened by someone intent on keeping you not driving. You were drunk, hungover or having DT’s when I saw you. It was over 90 degrees. Fly unzipped, shirt off , I could see ribs. You looked so close to death that it made me want to hurry the girls past you. I saw you struggle with your spare tire, trying to get it out of the back of the car. I said “hi” and “It sure is hot” but I pretended not to notice the weight of the tire almost knocked you over. Not being able to drive didn’t change you.

Maybe a month ago S. sausages and grilled veggies. It was not an impressive- sized plate but we had leftovers. I knocked on Papa H’s door first. My daughter was with me. I didn’t think when I headed for your house. I knocked and wondered if I should leave the food out if you didn’t come to the door. But you did. Face to face maybe five inches apart. “We had extra,” I said. “Thanks,” you said and took it. We turned around. In the street she clutched my hand. “He doesn’t look good,.”
”No honey, he doesn’t. He’s sick.”

“At least he has something good to eat,” she said.“That’s right,” I said. I wondered if I had done the wrong thing by letting her come with me on his porch. ”Just being neighborly,” I added.

Will my daughter wonder what kind of sick he was? How will I tell her how he died? That there is someone in my family who I don’t call or check on, someone in S’s family we don’t stay in contact with.

I know Al-Anon says detach with love but no one can tell anyone exactly how. “Either do an intervention or let go,” was the advice I got once. 

“I don’t even know if an intervention would help,” I had said, “But how can I just let her linger?”  I do not feel able to just let go. I know it is her life. I know she is responsible for it.But no one has been able to get that through to her. They carted him out in a white van. I heard a folding bed, a cot, the spring of the wheels on the bottom. His body at least deserved respect. It was like the vans used to pick up stray dogs. Even the ashes of my dogs were treated better, in gold-plated containers. Saved, for years after cremation. I was only able to spread the ashes this summer. Letting go is not what I do best. Letting God is still a brand new concept. How does his brother feel? How do I?Sad. Numb. Angry. It wasn’t a necessary death.I would dive into storming waters to save some people.What are we humans supposed to do for one another? It was a paper plate, I think, we served him on. It was my eyes on his when I stared him down.”He looked so good when he got back,” he said.
”I saw him walking a lot,” she said.
I was quiet. I had been afraid to hope. Today, we waited to hear what we already knew.There was no breaking down the door, rushing in or saving.

There was no way to rescue

He was already gone.

Maybe he’s resting in an easy chair watching the world series in a place where there is no need for drunkenness.

Catch of the Day: Confusion. Why does someone have to hit rock bottom alone to recover? Why don’t some make the return trip? Why, if it is a disease, is it so hard to have compassion? Why is it easier to feel more tender toward a neighbor than others who I know much better?

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Slowing Down

I’m forty. Sometimes I neglect myself. I love to write and yet it often makes it to the bottom of my to-do list. If I wasn’t in a writing group with the pressure to produce I  might organize my recycling, sort sweaters that need to go to Goodwill or paint that second coat in the bathroom that has been on my to do list since summer.

 

I do not build in enough soul time, emotional and intellectual stimulation and rejuvenation. I am beginning to shift from this always-harried-place but it’s going slow.

This summer, I pre-packed four beach bags for my daughter. We live near the ocean. I had spent too many times running around my small home gathering sunscreen, towels, bug spray, a protein packed snack, bug spray, beach toys and sunglasses. I was tired of being caught of guard by a beach invite. So, I planned ahead and even had one baggy for band-aids, antiseptic wipes, extra ponytail holders and wet wipes.

 

Why not pre-pack a bag for myself with a journal, blanket, snack and a book? Why not have a ready-to-go or what the hell bag? Or at least include an extra shirt for me in her beach bag? Why not have an “I might feel like yoga or dancing” outfit in the car?

 

I do carry sea glass in a Ziploc bag with pink, green and silver wire as well as pliers and a cutting tool. Who knows when the time or urge to wrap and coil and loop and twist might overcome me? Why not have the supplies to indulge my hands and heart?

 

I’ve glimpsed this knowing and the calm and joy simple pleasures bring. I let myself have my own jar of sea glass, my personal collection and allowed myself this indulgence having no idea what I’ll “do” with all I find.

Will I make sculptures with glass and clay, figures with torsos of clay and spines of glass? Will each piece hold some gummy-looking jewel inside? An angry figure could have sharp pieces protruding and a calm figure would have frosted pieces blended in. Or maybe not? Maybe the pile will gather taller and wider. And then what? Maybe nothing.

 

All these shards, my precious little pieces under dead crabs, under sewed, under a layer of loose rock have helped me practice listening, stopping and savoring.

 

I notice how tired my husband is of late because he’s working long hours. I hear his sighs, the loss of vigor in his voice as he leaves a message at home while on his way to a late-night meeting. I know how early he was up at the computer working by how watery the iced coffee he makes me every morning. I can see how empty his coffee pot is when I wake – the one I prepared for him the night before, where I decide based on his work load and mood how strong to make the coffee and how much to make. Also, I notice his laughter, when he gets a break. It is loud and deep. His joy over a Skinny Cow while watching the Red Sox is more palpable. I can see and sense the tension that dissolved from his shoulders after a good work-out.

 

I hear my daughter’s giggles more. I stop what I’m doing, look up, and watch as she shows me her latest dance routine or, tonight, when she told me how in Africa napkins are held one way (on the chair and one stands to use it when necessary) and in China (on the chair as well but crumpled). She pretends to be an expert and loves to share information even if she is making it up with a give-away smile that says, “I’m so ad libbing.” I enjoy her curiosity as well when she wants to “google when google was made?” or check how much a rhino weighs. I am amazed that google is a common-place word to a child in 2007.

 

Today, at the auto shop where I got an oil changed she asked why my birthday was so late in the year. I said, “Babies don’t get to pick their birthdays. No one does.” She said, “Why?” and the man behind the counter stood up, stuck his head out the window and said, “I’m waiting for this answer.” He came out, laughed, put his hand on my shoulder in the sweetest way and smiled. “What?” my daughter asked as I struggled to think of an age-appropriate but honest answer starting out with the reminder that we all (even us old adults) started out as babies. Or this morning how she said babies to four year olds are a small, four to forty-year olds are a medium and being over 50 makes one large.

 

I glimpse the green in the glass so absent from many lawns yellowing from the lack of rain. Some glass someone used and tossed while getting drunk or got shattered in anger is now a moment I rub, massage and place safely in myself.

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Heavy-Hearts

It is early in my hunt and I spot an enormous heart-shaped rock. It is for my friend. She has her own collection. I know this. I understand this strange passion more than I ever did before. I pick up the rock. It is not small. It stretches at my sweatshirt and is hard to carry. It is perfect and wonderful and I can’t wait for her to have it but until she does, I must carry and protect this rock.

How we love our friends. Once we know them, and their collections, whether in the form of stones or emotions or stories, we can’t help but be connected to them too. 

I am not alone on my beach even when I am. My heart-rock collector friend is there. Her love for heart-shaped rocks is palpable. My love of her and this heavy rock carry me home feeling full, bundled up, stretched and enriched. I pay more attention to all the shapes on the beach. Friends make me enlarged, aware of things I would not see or notice or care about if not for them and I am so grateful.

It wasn’t a blissfest on the beach though. I am used to crab shells discarded and left behind, bones, even full skulls, and spines of fish, speckled on the shore. Tonight though I saw what at first seemed an old towel, a twisted rag only to realize it was bird fur and the bird, whole with the neck twisted to one side and the body to the other. It was belly up, exposed. 

Did it drown or get struck by something or die naturally? I have never seen a dead bird this large and whole. Do I bury it or is it in the proper place on the sand at the ocean. I know we all die and cycle through life, animals too, but I am disturbed. I am my daughter didn’t see this sight tonight.

This bird, it has as peaceful a pose as any dead thing can have hut it is still unsettling. We are not a culture comfortable with death. I’m part of this culture. How long ago was that fur fluffy and flying through the air? I hope it was a full life.

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The other night, the tide was gentle and soft, mother nature slurping the bottom of her big ocean soup or a dog dog licking and messy and happy with no care to what gets wet.

Catch of the Day

I found my first piece of blue. I knew I would. I’d love to say I could sniff it out of the ocean’s air or sensed it. I did sense it but I had clues. My daughter, and a friend, both found blue pieces in the last week. I guess I knew the blues were swimming and I’d find their other pieces. 

1 blue, a stunning color, wasn’t as smooth or cloudy as most pieces. I wonder, were it another color, if I would have taken it home. I was so glad to see a blue that I did not let it become a glorious sanded down, naturally tumbled stone. Do we do that often with things we assign high value too? Do we rob them of their chance to become more full and whole and natural because we want to cherish them as we are and don’t want to lose them to the ocean or fate?  If it were a piece, less “special” I might not have revered it as much. I don’t want to lose any joy in my catching of the common and typical ones, the joy of finding the clear pieces. To “humble” me I found a perfect shade of blue, bent over, excited and it was the ring of plastic on the top of milk. What is art and beauty when it comes to “found objects” and art is as subjective as anything else.

Speaking of white glass, perhaps the Oct. dusk makes different colors pop in and out of the scan of my eyes. White can be so secretive. A wet piece of sea glass and a dry gray rock look identical. This is a new season of hunting for me with more chill and sound and excitement.

1 large mostly clear white piece, rough, but so textured with lines that it was compelling, an incomplete piece, unusual, striking with ridges and edges 8 pieces of brown in similar light rootbear color, thing and in all different shapes, one is almost 2 inches long and ovalish round and interesting

3 very dark and thick brown bottle bottoms. One has the number 40. one has the number 12. once is without number and all very soft at the edges but with texture

a stunning thick light green,

1 pale yellowish green

4 green fragments

1 huge heart-shaped rock

1 piece of pottery, pie-shaped (a small piece)

a thin sliver of green ceramic – thought it was sea glass and has a glassy shiny look but no sharp edges

 

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The title of my blog is sea glass girl. This is not only a blog about how I love that certain shade of pink in the last piece of glass I found. It’s about when I read a quote that will not leave me alone. It’s about how obsessed I am with the origins of things meaning most everything.

I was reading Sun magazine, my first issue, and loving the lack of ads and the in-depth pieces.  I was reading an interview with Coleman Barks who has made Rumi’s work so popular. Here’s an exchange from page 9:

“Lalwer: You start with translations of Rumi’s poetry instead of the original texts. Have you ever wanted to learn Farsi?”

 Barks: I didn’t hear Rumi’s name until I was thirty-nine, and by then it was too late. To write poetry in another language, or even read it, you have to have the language in your mother’s milk.”

 So I think of my daughter, now five, who may have sipped her mother’s milk or not, but who did not grow and get nourished by it. Will she ever be able to inhabit poetry, the place where soul and conversation, where intellect and spirit merge? Can she, my deep and thoughtful little one, feel the free flow of language move her to expression without a gap? How will she, as an adult feel reading a line such as this one? I know she’s a poet already but this line lingers.

How do I feel as that milkless mother, who can love and nurture and care for her, but never be the mother Rumi meant when he spoke. I know I am not her birth-mother though I am her mother. Poets, so much less cautious with the truth, know it too. But to see such a phrase in print, reminds me of my daughter’s birthday.

 After cake, iced cream, gifts, friends, fun, sprinkler water and basketball and giggles, my daughter, soon after waking, sobbed on her actual birthday.

As she so often does, she cried her deep and desperate cry, saying, “Mama, Mama,” over and over. I held her. Her head is pressed into my neck, my ear, my chest. Her arms, wrapped around me, her legs around my waist. My husband sits on the couch. I rub her back. I hold her. I sway a little. I “there there there” as does her father. We let her cry. But she is crying through me. I am not catching her grief, absorbing or dissolving it. I am holding her as she cries. I look at my husband and we are both filled with emotion. Her heart is heavy on her birthday. Not all day. Not even for long. She had fun later. She made crafts, told jokes, ate, bathed, watched stupid t.v. But, she did not grow on her birth-mother’s milk. Sometimes her cry for “Mama” is primal and deep and beyond needing me.

I do not know my biological father. I have no illusions that my life would be easier had I known him given what I do know about him. However, every year, without fail, on my birthday I thought of him. I wondered if he was o.k., alive, healthy. I wondered if he was thinking of me, even remembered my birthday and had maybe meant to find me or send me a card. I wondered if he would understand my really bad eyes because he has them as well or if he had other children and if he lived with them or left them as well. Every year. Every birthday.

I go to the ocean because it doesn’t answer questions but lets them float on waves. It does not say, “Don’t project,” or “Don’t be so deep or so difficult.” I go to the ocean because there I can collect bits and pieces of rock and glass, and let go of who and what I can’t be or know.

I believe in the power of making meaning even out of loss and pain. I believe transforming trash can make sculpture, jewelry or a spiritual practice.

Adoption starts with a loss, the loss of being fed the “mother tongue,” when raised in a different culture than the one you were born into, the loss of being cherished and adored and un-relinquished.

This does not mean that adoption is about loss and loss only. But without loss there are no adoptions. Grief is a necessary ingredient in adoption. Whether it is flour or seasoning, whether it is the plot or a back story, whether it ends with a rainbow or stays rainy is not for me to say. I speak only as an adoptive mother not as an adoptee. I speak only as a daughter without a father. 

From the same interview, page 6, Barks says this:

“Rumi dissolves boundaries. People from all religions came to Rumi’s funeral. When asked why, they said, ‘He deepens us.” His presence was poetry and his friendship with Shams made everybody feel more alive and more in a state of praise and grief. Everything was sharpened and deepened by this longing…”

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