Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Bad Anne Frank

I always knew that I would be a bad Anne Frank.  She was my hero,
smart, a writer, honest, brave, deep, and Jewish.  I worried if I were in the attic
how obnoxious and impossible I would be. I think many of us felt that way.

 Now, over a week in seclusion with supplies, books, running water,  my husband
 and daughter next door, I am already exhibiting signs of what a bad
Anne Frank I am. We sequester on a luxurious, rustic, six acres.  The 18 chickens are oblivious.
The robin splashing in the bird feeder knows nothing of virus.  The week of daffodils,
when I was supposed to be seeing my brother and wife in Florida, is ending now.
I would have been traveling home tonight.  ten days ago I fretted about the late arrival, and now
any arrival except the one of this virus, would be welcome.

How have I been  bad? I have been so anxious already, one long week of solitude
I have blown through enough stress to power a car. I have been cooking three meals a day.
I am trying to make something special each day.  Today I think I forgot an ingredient
because my blue corn, blueberry muffins were a little rocky.  If you slather butter
and home made jam, it's edible. Today my daughter went out for us.  She went
to four stores with our "wish list," as my youngest daughter calls it.  When she got that bag
of flour she located out, she turned into Miep Gies, the friend who helped Otto Frank and family.
There was a heroic vibe around my daughter.  She grew mythic. She wore a wool cape.  She is style itself and knows how to dress for any occasion.She delivered the bacon to non-kosher cheers of praise.

I am stressing myself out already as is my want.  Today I was up since four AM and it was not a good day.  The news freaks us out.  They said if we over-react, that might be the good news.  Two of my kids are working out in the world.  That is worrisome. Then some don't have work.  That too is fraught.
 I have three kids.  What was I thinking, that there is safety in numbers?
I have done some good deeds.  I use only two squares of toilet paper. I posted the poem "Pandemic" by Lynn Ungar that went viral to my beloved Santa Fe Girls' School and heard back from a dear student. I got in touch with Lynn Ungar herself to thank her.  I laughed at Wolf Martinez' FaceBook letter to Toilet Paper.

I laughed a deep laugh at Don McIver and wife dancing in their home for ST. Patrick's. They were alive and spontaneous. I was laughing like never before.  I don't know how come I got them LIVE, I just did.
They showed me what it means to be live, not this faint replica of my hero I have become.                                      

My youngest daughter tells her six year old Kaleia that these are blue iris she bought in Pittsburgh's Trader Joe's where it used to stay "See Yinz soon,"   the Pittsburgh equivalent of y'all.
"Virus?" my granddaughter says.  My second cousin twice removed told me people were weird.
She saw an old Hispanic lady with a shopping cart with only a box of matzoh.   That image is my image
of the week.  What do you take into the desert of the unknown?  Unleavened bread.

I'll try and track my behavior and see if I do more good than bad.  There. I wrote something.
The robin wrote it for me.

                                   The robin, splashing
 in the bath knows nothing
of virus.    

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.