Monday, December 16, 2019

Christmas Spirit @ Lowe's

Corina and I rarely hang out one-on-one. She's my eldest daughter and lives next door, the familiarity and ease works because we live such separate lives.   Today she joined me as I walked to the mailbox and as we both had mailings to get out decided to go to Santa Cruz Post Office together.

After we mailed,  I thought I might find a small Norfolk Pine at Lowe's in EspaƱola. I once went there with my youngest child and bought a dying pine that grew its spindly self into the family tree, one with a few long branches, a family joke. Our personal Charlie Brown tree had served for ten years. Time for a new one.

I have never gotten the hang of a full-tilt right-on tree.  As a child we had a Chanukah bush which was the Reform Jews caving into the peer pressure of Christianity that is America.  My adult trees for the kids were clumsy and unaesthetic, but I love my children's ornaments and collect hearts and angels.

We found our three foot high tree right away, the  exact small Norfolk pine of yore, for $20.  It will would surely live on in our greenhouse.  Corina had already charmed the check out man who had a shaved head on one side and a poof of curly black hair on the other.  He was smiling, as everyone does to the charming and beautiful Corina who flirts with the world.  He said, "I won't lie to you," one of my favorite phrases because I never thought he would lie, "but someone always steals my spirit. I get it and then someone just steals it."   I said that you get paid to put up with those folks.  He said he gets paid to put up with them but not to have them steal his spirit.  He said he wouldn't lie to us again.  I looked at his name tag as we were leaving the store,  JESUS     I said, "I didn't know who I was dealing with. We'll send extra spirit your way."  He liked that. Corina kept smiling.  We loaded the small pine into my Subaru and indeed felt the spirit of the holiday.  Wild hair style, smiles, small tree and all.

I won't lie to you.

Thursday, November 7, 2019


You're interested in the history of the house
and there are few things I know, being
a being who thinks history is minutia, not
wars and subdivided lands, burial mounds

though I must admit the Jewish cemetery
on Blackador holds my two favorite corpses,
Let me give history a whirl, which is so opposite
a spin.  Not political but personal, as Pittsburgh

is a city made of people people. I love Rodin
and the Burghers of Calais who, apart from nudity
look like they are standing on Penn Avenue lamenting
the price of fish or the late delivery of chipped ham.

There was a Carriage House out back with a pump
where with a few gestures spit out black tarry oil
and up the ladder newsprint from the 1930"s.
Then the dreams where I lived in a remodeled version

I secretly always wanted to be in exile,  live there,
after the tennis balls against the brick house, the ice rink
down the blocks, and out toy version on the patio.
Did I tell you a night watchman came by twice a night

and my father slept with a shillelagh by his bed
we always though he won in a card game. There is no
chronology here as in my books. I date the pages,
the basement stairs where my brother and I sat

before there were treads we played train. He always
was the engineer and I a passenger.  Or when I chocked
on popcorn before there was Heimlich and he thought he'd done
me in which is maybe secretly what every sibling wants.

This is veering dark, when I feel light around you, dear house
with your 68 year old Japanese maple tree, a bonsai set
in concrete.  Did you know the famous lecturer lived next door
who looked death in the eye, saw his life, and backed death off?

The friends who still live there for me, Judy, Marlin, Peggy Lou.
The autumn Marlin and I lined the streetcar tracks with buckeyes
and the police or some official came and we feared jail.
The streetcar was my totem animal, all charge and growl

and bell, and that left swing that brought me home.  You wanted
history and I  invented dreams, where monthly or weekly you appear.
My history channel for nostalgia or nest or acorns planted
to see if what I left could grow where lightening struck once.

The Carriage House is gone,  revealing an apartment
two Europeans in the window eternally taking tea, discussing W W III
 I tried to find a way back, walked and walked the block.
Good Bones an architect might say. Dear house who owns you now?

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Small Miracle on Yom Kippur

Dear Chavah,
I went up to Taos after missing last year and felt so at home, though I only slightly know a handful of people.   I was asking various folks, Bobbie, Rose, Bonnie, about you and feeling so much the threads of beautiful, accessible Judaism you spun in Taos.  I remember bringing Hope, now a mother of two, with me. I just felt such gratitude to you and close. I though of you with love countless time during the Holidays. I also appreciated the new Rabbi, Judith Ha-Levi and my driver and husband, Michael.
When we got home I had a package.  I order my books that are out of print to keep some stock, and this time I ordered from a new vendor, ABE books.  The package was a copy of Blessed Resistance, and sometimes, since they are second hand books, they are signed copies so I always check. When I opened this books, minutes after coming down from Taos, this is what I saw.       To Myra and Ben,     The parents of my favorite Rebbe on this planet. Carol (Chavah)gave me the title for this collection, & really reconnected me to what I love in Judaism.     

      All Blessings --Joan Logghe  1999

I don't know if your parents are living, but I do know this moment was one of awakened holiness, and wanted to tell you this small miracle.I remember how proud of you they were when they got the book, now twenty years ago,  They loved that you were mentioned. My Tashlich poem, written after a day with you for Rosh Hashanah, was printed this year  in the Taos Jewish Community  Newsletter.
So, that's one of the many miracles.  Let me know what you think.  If you want the signed book I am glad to send it. But for now, I send much love.   Joan
I heard back from Rabbi Chavah immediately, and she agreed it rated the miraculous designation.  I mean 20 years, right??This week is the year anniversary of the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, and I have barely written since my response to that.So this year, the tree of life is glowing outside my window this first snow of the year, red crab apples, cerise apricot leaves, and the glowing gold of valley cottonwoods.
A belated Happy New Year.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Poem :: Our Lady of Sorrows Fiesta: Small Things

Does this work?  Go to Miriam Sagan's blog  listing belo to see the poem
I was prodded to write for 100,000 poets for change.  I am not too active on
Facebook or my blog, but Miriam invited me to this even, which had 20+ poets
and was well curated.  I even had my grand daughter with me.  Not the happiest
of topics but for reals.

 xx Joan

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Falling in Love with Pittsburgh

     This is what I want you to know.   I left Pittsburgh in 1965 and went to college.  I left again in 1969 after the Woodstock summer after college.  My mother kept asking me when would I return and I silently said, "Never." They sold he house, they would have gladly given me. I always visit.
Then my father died, then my mother.  That was long ago.  My brother got a bad diagnosis there four years ago. Then my daughter, Hope, moved to Pittsburgh while her husband, Leland, is in grad school there.  Having them move away was a blow.
       Then I fell in love with Pittsburgh and it's where i want to be when not here.
I was already crying, when my grand daughter was born there and died, in a four day beauty flash.
My heart is speaking Yiddish.  I am falling in love with so many people there I could at least
imagine living there.  The midwives, the woman at Farmer's Market, the grandma at Blue Slide Park from Russia. My brother is falling in love with my children, and our third grandchild, Luca.
My great niece, Lauren, and I already fell in love. She named me Amazing Tante Joan.
     This is what I want you to know.  My brother was Bar Mitzvah at Tree of Life.  In those days Rodef Shalom did not have Bar or Bat Mitzvahs.  They joined Tree of Life Synagogue, though it was on Craft Avenue, same as the Pittsburgh Playhouse. I went to Rodef Shalom, not far.  My little grand daughter went to pre-school there and my mother's perfume still in the halls.
I was, during all this, a Jew. Even though,  Even though we were taught not to let it show so much outside the house.  I couldn't blame them for teaching this, with Anne Frank in every diary written by every little Jewish girl.  She was the back story of out lives more than Hitler. He was behind the back story.
     So now this.  eleven people gunned down on Wilkins Avenue, the street where we lived from my birth to age three. I remember the Bar Mitzvah, just a scene in the new house, and the woman with the blue tattoo on her wrist. I helped take her coat. I have a selective memory, don't you.
What I want you to know is nobody says, "A good Jew" as they easily say "A good Christian."
We say a mensch, which means a human being.  My grand daughter now goes to a Jewish Day School and got a mensch card for her good deed. How do we carry these children forward?
     Her school and home are one mile down Shady Ave.  One mile as the crow flies.
I almost said bullet.  I almost said, the Jews could be mistaken for crows, with our
black garments for mourning.  This is what I want you to know, my grand girl carried by her other Grandpa, Charlie, who happened to be there for all of this.  I thank him, the sweetest of men who went to Rwanda for Peace Corps retirement.  We are so lucky to have each other.  He was with us for Passover too, and when baby Jade on life support,  he held her little hand all night for several nights.
My mother watches over Pittsburgh.  We are so lucky to have threaded the needle of Holocaust and made it here.  Sadly the eleven elders are gone.
      The youngest one not old enough, the oldest, 97, still too young. A minyan, ten needed to say mourner's Kaddish.   Eleven died.  The singers sing, "we will build this world from love."
A man videoed the march and I watched in twice. One if us can't stop crying. One of us is numb.
At a Bar Mitzvah, age 13, the boy becomes a man and is morally responsible for his choices. My childhood friend said her son, not raised Jewish but Jewish by birth, made his own Bar Mitzvah by hiking alone in the woods.
At least, tag very least, I am finally writing something, numb as I feel. Obsessed as I cam. In love, deeply and very, in love.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Four occurrences with birds

My daughter, Hope, and her four year old left yesterday after a delicious month of their company.
They lived in the new TeaHouse and came up for breakfast most mornings.  I felt like the luckiest person.   We are  all trying to remember happy again after digesting sadness last year.  I have been thinking of grief as a machine, an engine that chews its way through the dense material and manufactures something more refined.  Maybe an alchemy or an assembly line, not sure.I read that every grief is the most important one.

As we are leaving, driving to the airport, Corina comes up and finds a large bird in the house. She has no idea how it got in but nabs it in a bedsheets and sets it free.  That's one.

Then today Mike goes to get eggs, and comes across a mother hen and a clutch of chicks.  She must have sat on the eggs in the weeds outside the chicken coop and yard.   I wonder out loud if they will escape the hawks and coyotes.  That's two.

I stop to tell Myngo, my neighbor about the chicks. He has been seeing so many bluebirds, the ground is a carpet of blue.  Blue birds are signs of a healthy ecosystem, or so I've been told.  That's three.

This morning, sitting in the house we hear the familiar and dread bird-slam against the window. There should be a word for bird hitting window despite a  decal silhouette of a hawk.  We go and look and it is a hawk, taking a few last breaths.  On my table the book H is for Hawk sits unopened. What's going on, Corina wonders.

Before Hope left she found a tiny rabbit, carried it in her hands, though I am fearful of rabbit fever.  It was the cutest of creatures, and after she put it back, the mother seemed to reclaim it.  Who eats who?  Texas is flooding, we are now in a bird wonderland, they are feasting now on the refilled feeder.

Creatures coming and going all around us. My daughter is flying back to my old home. The hawk to hers, the hen making herself at home.  We are cleaning the house, grateful to have one. My friend's husband about to or already crossing over.

And of course, our spirit baby, Jade Bird.  Her ashes buried here in the best garden on our land.
Succulents and petunias and morning glory.  A hummingbird feeder still a-buzz. That's the place I go and feel most alive, into the sadness and the vitality.
That's invisible and indivisible. That's another One.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Perked Up

My  now four year old grand daughter Kaleia told me one late night avoiding bedtime,  that she was perked up, she illustrated with thumbs up.  She wasn't perked down, her two thumbs pointed the reverse. This has been my months long effort.  My friend Sharon taught me one can control one's attitude.  I am trying.

Today is sunny, not yet windy, the dishwasher humming, the birds fed, the hummingbirds on schedule.  We have 20 baby chicks and two baby turkeys in the greenhouse. Yesterday we went to Earth Day at Northern New Mexico and as we sat through talks on solar building, we nodded to one another.  We had done almost everything right.  Of course, there's room to improve but this lecture sure helped me perk
  My friend Julie Bennett took this Singing in the Rain photo after writing class at Pueblo of Pojoaque Library.  It's right by the Wellness Center where I swim and which locals call "The Wellness."  I am perked up after I swim.  My inspiration and role models are Osh who told me he's 85 and sometimes swims a mile.  He does a leisurely back stroke, all the time in the world. He dresses well and is cheerful.  He is living a perked up life.   I like also Helente who is in that age range.  Sometimes she arrives with her lanky Australian friend in his Speedo.  I want one of those guys to help me perk up when I am in my Eighties. I notice all the folks older than I am who are perked up.

I always felt perked up after a visit to Barbara and Alvaro.  Life was worth living and the Truchas immoveable feast they provided uplifted and inspired many. I bet many feel that he was a very close friend, as he had the gift of attention and heart.  Today I go to Alvaro's memorial   It has been hard to grieve enough for how I deeply feel at this loss. He died in August at 89.  Our last talks were that he wanted to do a ZEN service and make a Japanese garden at the grave of Jade Bird, our beloved birth and death grand daughter.  He's the one who told me, "Short is short, long is long, each life is complete."  I recalled those words in the Children's Hospital during the most baffling and dire of times. I think we wrote it over her crib. There were moments of perking up even then and this Alvaro teaching which he passed on from his own Zen teacher did help.

He twice insisted he would do a Zen Ceremony and the kids said, "Say yes , Moma.  How can you say no to that offer?"  Even though I knew he was in no way up to his generous nature and impulses, I said yes. He wrote to apologize he would be unable, as his own son died.

When Alvarao died, a few months after this generous offer, my grief hollows had been stretched so big by loss, his death fit inside the emptiness.  I was spared the dreaded response I knew I would have. I could handle it.  I dread losing Robert Bly, Gerald Stern, Gioia Timpanelli, these dear stars and my own personal best friends, too, I will lose.   Alvaro was a true Zen teacher, living so presently and elegantly, and knowing death was always right there, in those Truchas views, in the books that he wrote, in the music that would sound and then disappear, in the paintings he made.  He was living between the eternal and the ephemeral.  He was one of the best men, to me, I ever knew.   He's alive as long as I am, according to my rabbi. His own work will live on, of that I am convinced.  He was so focused to finish his translations of Diego Rivers's interviews by his brother.  He completed that important project which now has found a publisher.

Today I am perked up to drive to Truchas and remember Alvaro.

"The beekeeper kissed me,
the kiss it tasted like honey."

 "Besome el colmenero
que la miel me supo el beso."

translated form Spring Has Come: 
Spanish Lyrical Poetry from the Songbooks of the Renaissance