we have adopted this tree and should we ever drive there and find it is gone we will likely be pretty devastated.
we have a relationship with this tree in this farmfield on this road. we never tire of it. somehow it keeps us centered.
this beautiful tree stands there – as weather systems spin around it and time travels on and on, we see the stalwart and steady tree – withstanding it all. it is not ON the mountain in the raging wind, the swirling snowstorm, the beating rain, the ice and drought and cold and heat and night and day and fog – it IS the mountain.
lessons on highway h.
“be the mountain,” the tree calls to us, “be the mountain.”
and before we drive off, “just like me, like me, like me,” it adds, echoing into the wind.
the first time i walked by i was a misunderstander, a glancer, a critic.
i thought – and spoke aloud – that it seemed elementary to display canvasses with the primary colors…large canvasses at that, lots of wall space, valuable real estate for an art museum.
it only seems right that ellsworth kelly, in a conversation with john cage (i mean, who gets to talk to john cage!!) said, “i am not interested in painting as it has been accepted for so long – to hang on the walls of houses as pictures. To hell with pictures – they should be the wall.” and so, ellsworth created big multiple panel paintings – murals – to cover walls. they are stunning and i have been enlightened – by sheer experience of his work. you need just stand there a few extra moments and it hits you. his “austin” temple of light is on our list of places to visit. minimalism. color. breath.
we visited the milwaukee art museum and the two of us, ellsworth, richard diebenkorn and mark rothko all hung out together. their notoriety far surpasses anything we could dream of – yes, yes – by miles and miles. but they love hanging out with people who get it and we were happy for their company.
we talked about art and music and simplicity and air and light. we talked about the ocean park series and rectangular color fields and bigness. we talked about communicating basic human emotions in our work. we talked about journeys and life and times of passage, evolution. we rued the difficulty of transitions and obstacles. and then, though sans museum ticket but clearly listening in, john cage stopped by and reminded us, once again, to “begin anywhere.”
and then it was time for us to leave, to go sip wine at the public market and to talk about the magic of getting it.
so…we didn’t go to nearly enough places and i am sort of stuck in buyer’s-remorse, retail-regret, choice-underload.
i, eventually, chose frames – they resemble john denver’s and john lennon’s. a little bit bohemian. a little bit retro.
it had been a long, drawn-out affair. i tried every frame on at the vision center – well, not the really expensive ones because – though we had vision insurance at the time, my portion only covered contact lenses and no back-up glasses. we went to costco and i went up and down the optical wall, trying on, taking off, trying on, taking off. it was exhausting. we went back to the place where i had my eye exam – there would be a discount for buying glasses in addition to contacts.
nearly everyone at the vision center got involved. i had gotten it down to five different frames and – standing in front of the mirror trying them on over and over and over again – finally resorted to asking lovely sarah, the my-age vision assistant. i tried each pair on for her while david watched. we eliminated two frames. one made me look exactly like harry caray, which is not a good look for me. i loved the anderson cooper look, but all those frames were too wide and extended well beyond my face. apparently, i do not have a big face. or – women don’t mind frames that extend into their widest peripheral vision, making their hair stick out. there are many, many, many large frames out there. even bigger than the ones i had in 1985.
i had tried tortoise shell and red, maroon and clear. i had tried hexagonal and cat-eyes, square and rectangular. i had tried my-little-pony and under armour, karen kane and bebe and vera bradley. and now there were these five.
sarah turned to her colleague and asked for her help. the colleague had me try on the three frames – over and over – and then she turned to another colleague and asked for her opinion. the customer who was being served by that vision-center-person piped up. eventually, there was a vote. and everyone in the store voted. the black metal round frames won. i placed an order, laughing, and was relieved it was finally over – the stress of choosing a frame that fit my face – which, i might add, turned out to be a child’s frame. we left.
but i still think about the frame in my mind. also round, but plastic and black and just exactly right – making my forehead look smaller, the indent of my face less indented, the wrinkles around my eyes disappearing, the dark circles lighter, my eyelashes longer and my eyes more expressive.
david picked out his frame in about two minutes. so it was hard for him to understand the hissy fit i had over finding the right frames. a dedicated contact lens wearer, i have never really liked any of the glasses i have owned. i wanted this time to be different. so i tried to explain to him all the parameters the new – perfect – no, no – quixotic – glasses must fall within. purple stuff came out of his exploding head. but my hissy fit helped.
we picked up the finished glasses and, putting them on, they seemed a little blurry. i sighed. i haven’t tried them again. but i will. i’m hoping they will be ok. and i guess i’m still wondering if that truly perfect frame exists out there somewhere.
i can still locate my 1985-ish glasses. they are huge tortoise shell frames – bigger than my face – that sit way above my eyebrows and way down on my cheeks. i have no idea what i was thinking, but i suppose they were all the rage at the time.
well, guess what?
they are again.
giant frames, wide frames, frames that cover all expanse of your visage. yikes!
i look – decidedly – like a bug wearing any of these. like a fly – with big eyes – or an ant or – adding to my list of lookalikes – a meerkat or a spectral tarsier.
these are not good looks for me, i have decided. it didn’t even take pondering. it’s quite obvious.
so, re-using the 1985 glasses doesn’t work. i can’t find my glasses from the mid-90s but i know – i remember distinctly – that those do not sit low enough on my cheeks to cover the sometimes-dark-circles i have inherited from my poppo. somewhere in there i sort of remember a pair of big clear glasses. fortunately, they have gone the way of one of the charities that collects eyeglasses. i, in addition to ordering new lenses, was stuck having to look for a new frame.
but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
mostly, the experience of deciding what kind of lenses – lenses! – you want is complex.
i am a contact lens wearer and only need glasses when my eyes are tired at night and maybe we’re driving and i’m behind the wheel. in that case, i want the lenses that specifically deal with darkness and oncoming headlights and the possibility of rainy wet streets and glare off puddles and asphalt, orange barrels that populate every road in our vicinity and on every highway we choose to travel, equipped with deer-alerting alarms.
so – the anti-dark, anti-glare, anti-highbeam, anti-barrel, anti-deer, anti-sleepy lenses, please.
we each have our strengths. and, on the flip side, we each have our weaknesses. i am a detail person. he is a big picture person. sometimes that equates to a lovely full-length view of the world. sometimes it’s a total pain in the ass.
most of the time david is kind of mushy, endearingly compassionate and not all male-blustery-like. this is a good thing. we tend to be on the same page a lot – until we are not. and then, those are the moments the dog senses that his best laying-down-spot is in the bathroom. we aren’t really yellers, but, since our dog is as empathic as we are, he just knows that our tone is changing and someone is miffed and he is going to get out of the way. soon, he checks back in to see how things are going and is generally relieved when – even before leaving – we turn to him in miff-middle and reassure him, “it’s ok, dogga,” anticipating his departure.
there have been a few times that d has done the guy thing…you know, the well-it’s-not-working-for-you-so-let-me-do-it. i wouldn’t be honest if i didn’t say that it is royally annoying. i also wouldn’t be honest if i didn’t say that i feel total vindication when the whatever-it-was-that-wasn’t-working doesn’t work for him either. empowering. somehow i think you know what i’m talking about.
it’s in those exact moments – either way – on either side of the miffmobile – we all need to remember it’s good to laugh.
it’s a recurring theme. and variations. sleep. no sleep. partial sleep. disturbed sleep. sleep with snoring. sleep sans snoring.
i don’t remember having this problem earlier in my life. it’s not like i wasn’t worrying about things then, so i don’t know what the difference is. other than menopause. and hormones. and…ummm…aging. a fun trilogy.
we try to have good conversation in the wee hours. we generally have a banana (somewhere we read that bananas are sleep-inducing plus they are easy snacks in the middle of the night.) if we are still starving, we have been known to get up and make pancakes. having mid-night pancakes always sounds better than actually making pancakes in the middle of the night – tired and a little ornery from not sleeping. but once they are made, it’s pretty dreamy to indulge in a few maple-syrup laden pancakes at 3am.
david doesn’t really have trouble sleeping. his troubles come from my trouble. he is a generous sleep-giver-upper on those nights, for which i am grateful. he mustn’t have the trilogy, the whole trilogy and nothing but the trilogy. plus, somehow or other, he places all angsting to the side when he lays his head down. he just goes to sleep.
i wouldn’t say it’s completely autobiographical. but one has to get one’s idea nuggets from somewhere. and – since our lives together have some really ordinary moments – truly ordinarily-ordinary with a smidge of extra as frosting here and there – they are somewhat easy to pull from.
day-to-day living has enough funny stuff. really. stuff happens. big stuff. little stuff. silly stuff. stupid stuff. hard stuff. poignant stuff. goobery stuff. one just has to notice, to pay attention.
and then – in the case of of a sort-of-autobiographical-sort-of-construed-sort-of-vulnerable-sort-of-stand-up cartoon – one has to be willing to share.
the perils and the summits of middle age. there are plenty.
there’s no telling. no way to know. really anything. any. thing.
the mystery of the new year is enormous. giant arcing things will happen, life-changing. tiny morsels of moments will happen, life-changing. we have no way to truly predict. there is no artificial intelligence that can tell us the spectrum of life that we will experience in the new year. it is hidden in holiday wrap, too much scotch tape, gift tags that have become mixed up, like luggage on southwest airlines right now.
to greet it without a hint of anticipation, without a breath of celebration, without acknowledgement of the brevity of time, is to maybe miss it.
stardust falls on our shoulders as we walk into the turn of the year under the big, big sky.