A "Book Of Life"
My life in years, written in 2004-2005, revisited in 2017

Forty One
November 10 1999 - November 9, 2000

There it was, devastation of everything Laura had tried to build. She so wanted to help Shayna believe in herself, and become strong as a person. For awhile, it looked like this was coming to be. Shayna got her GED, was the class valedictorian, and seemed to finally be happy. For awhile, I think she was happy, as happy as she could be, at any rate.

Who knows what really happened the night she was driving too fast on a dirt road? She could be reckless. She no doubt threw all caution aside in an attempt to save her dying cat. There was no formal viewing. The funeral director let us view the body before he cremated it. There is nothing so final as seeing the lifeless body, animating spirit having left it.

Shayna now gone, we had to rebuild our lives. It was one thing to take the things that were Shayna's out of her special corner of the living room and redistribute them. She'd amassed a ton of clothes, which were on long poles in the once was library. With heavy hearts, we went through all that stuff.

The material matters taken care of, there were the other matters to deal with. This poem of December 21, 1999 describes it:

One I must bind to earth
And one I must release . . .

For Laura:

Holding power sure,
with steady eye,
I gaze into Laura's blue depths.
"I will reel you in,
I will reel you in,
from however deep you have fallen.
My love is strong,
I will reel you in."
I pull her eyes to mine,
I am reeling her in.
She'll not be lost long.

Laura's blue eye

For Shayna:

Breeze in the windless sky,
a soaring zephyr,
I thought I felt your spirit fly,
limitless speed,
through ethereal plane.
There's nothing stopping you now.
Will you be the next comet we see?

JAL, 12-21-99

streaking comet

I had to have confidence in my ability, in the strength of my love to pull Laura back from the bottomless sorrow into which she was sinking. Time and time again, I had to pull her back. She was starting to get a little stronger, when the aftermath of 'the unnamed individual' arose once again. Mad he was, that he'd once had Shayna, and lost her to us. Nevermind, earlier, he was mad at us that 'we were harboring his sworn enemy'. This wretched individual picked the worst time to strike.

He came to our house drunk, and began hauling away the large concrete statues he'd brought from Tulsa and placing them into a waiting cab. The house, which he'd at one time said was ours, he demanded payment on. He screamed loudly. ''He was screaming threats like an insane man, much of it incomphrensible. Those who were nearer said he was so drunk, his lips were blue, and he was foaming at the mouth. Laura just told him as calmly as possible that our lawyer would contact his lawyer. The dialogue ended after that.''

January 4, 2000, I felt 'at sea':

January 4, 2000

Laura came back with Serena, and the three of us visited for a while. Nothing particularily unusual happened until I had an odd sensation at one point in the conversation. I had this really weird feeling that our house had suddenly turned into a boat, and we were at sea. I could almost feel the 'boat' moving through the ocean. Later, I tried to capture the sensation in a poem:
Whither bound,
this ship of fate?
Are we just players in a play?
All around us,
Time stands still.
It is we who move,
on this ship of fate.
Tall icy spires all around us, now.
The ship moves slowly past them.

I was not the only one to sense this, for Serena felt the same thing. She would become a great comfort to Laura in the healing months ahead.

Meanwhile, we needed a car I could drive. With the Pontiac wrecked, all that remained was a stick shift car. I'd given a second effort at learning the stick shift, but once again, found it too challenging. Stalled out on a busy highway, I was petrified out of my mind, and gave Laura the wheel. I'd tried to tell her earlier not to buy that car, to buy one that Julia and I could drive as well. But Laura had been adament. Once she made up her mind, there was no convincing her otherwise. I have a strong will and can usually be persuasive. But Laura's will was nearly always stronger.

There was one other time I'd challenged Laura and failed. I knew 'the person who shall not be named' was bad news, the minute I saw his long, rambling letters. 'Desperate to communicate', Laura insisted. ''No, that person is cracked, a few bricks shy of a load, I KNOW it.'' Laura insisted then that the association would be good for us. Who knows where our lives would have ended up if it had not been for our association with 'that man'? I can speculate all I'd like and not know. Maybe some good came out of it ultimately.

Meanwhile, back to year 2000 and what was. We needed a car. We traded the stick shift in and got a red Chevy Cavalier:

January 18, 2000

the morning sun
sunrise caught early this morning

There's a newness about the day. I feel an energy I haven't felt in some time. It's time to put things of the past behind me, and look towards the future...

~ ~~ ~~~ ~~ ~

Our new car!

Oh, it drives smooth! I like the extra large windshield which lets me get a bigger 'big picture'. The doors are especially ergonomically designed with a comfortable armrest slant, and curved door handles. Even the steering wheel has special hand shaped moldings. There's no doubt, it's one special car.

Now, all we have to do is pay for it.

Four and a half years later, the car didn't look so new. Thanks to mostly my driving, the sides were scraped up a bit from too close contact with fences, posts and what not. The front piece at the bottom was mushed in from too close contact with those concrete restrainer bricks in parking lots. But it still ran good. Until it didn't, and in 2012, we had to replace it.

Meanwhile, Laura was glad to be relieved of all the driving duties and we put a LOT of miles on that car while in Casa Grande. Part of the driving chores were eased when Julia was tranferred to the new Recorder's office in Casa Grande. That long trek to Florence each day was hard. Things were starting to ease for us a bit.

January 23, 2000, we visited the Boyce Thomson Southwestern Arboretum. I remember Laura was a little nervous, as this had been one of Shayna's favorite spots. But before SHE knew of it, it had longer been OUR favorite spot. It did Laura good to get out and about.

unexpected visitor at the arboretum greenhouse

It did us all good to get out into nature's beauty.

Yet, I still had troubling thoughts. I worried about Laura's health, and what the strain of Shayna's death would do to it. She was drinking too much and putting on weight. Still, she wanted to get out and do things, which was a hopeful sign. We visited Canyon Lake twice, and it was restorative.

Laura at the helm...

March 2000, we discovered the online interactive role playing game that is Everquest. We got two web access accounts and two phone lines so we could battle the baddies together. Laura spent many hours to come distracting herself with that game.

Also in March, an epiphany via a poem:

From Within

But it was not at the moment
of uninterrupted bliss
that the path became clear.
It was in the blinding realization
my eyes were inside me.
I could see in the darkness,
I could hear past the silence,
touch what gray-edged mysteries
lay beyond the summit
of forgetfulness.
There is no path,
you are already here.

One hand is staying the wheel,
the other is waving home.

Recognition comes from within.

JAL, 3-10-2000

I'd been through some difficult times, and I'd learned it wasn't the 'uninterrupted bliss' some try to seek, but that point of self-referencing, 'my eyes were inside me', that sense of the self unto ones self, separate from the herd that would lead to deeper wisdom.

Our troubles weren't over:

March 27, 2000

A chilly nervousness interrupts my concentration every so often. I must remember to practice deep breathing. And what has me so nervous? Friday morning, as I was going to the front door with a huge load of trash in my arms, I met an older man at the door. I didn't recognize him as a customer, and he didn't appear to be a new customer, with clothes in hand. He did have something in his hand, and gave the papers to me. Summons! Yes, we've heard from V.D.P. regarding the house. He's not content with one half of the house's value, nor even two-thirds. He wants it all! We brought the recitation of his demands to the lawyer's office and will meet with her this Thursday to learn our next course of action.

VDP stands for 'Very Difficult Person', aka 'he who shall not be named'. Stress was at a fever pitch about now. It looked like we couldn't stay in that house. My immune system raged, making my joints hurt worse. It was time to pack in the sewing business. I was going to lose that nice sewing room anyway. It was pretty much a crushing despair.

Julia was reacting badly to the stress, as well:

April 28, 2000

This has been a marking time kind of day. Julia's been having bad shoulder pain, so her boss told her to take today off and see her doctor. Her doctor sent her for X-rays at the hospital, as she had no idea what's causing it. It's quite delibating, though. They took lots of pictures, so hopefully soon we'll know. She's on muscle relaxers and pain killers, which are at least softening the symptoms.

Laura's not feeling too well, either. She caught a flu bug, so she's laying low. Perhaps it's the stress of the house verdict. No, VDP isn't going to settle out of court. We will face a lengthy, drawn out, nasty court battle over the house.

We'd like to distract ourselves by playing Everquest. No such luck. I had terrible 'dancing mouse pointer' syndrome. It took several minutes just to loot a stupid rat corpse. Only one cure for that - scan and defrag the computer. It must have been in really bad shape. The defrag is taking hours! Did I ever mention I'm not a patient person!

I'm not.

I'd had hopes Julia's troubles were due to a bad reaction to a medicine. This was not the case, for Julia continued to worsen:

June 19, 2000

Julia, poor Julia, I was wrong about Julia. She can't lift her head backwards. It could well be a neurological thing, but she has to wait until July 6th to see a neurologist. Our good Doctor Eichler can't make it any sooner. Julia cries out at night from the pain. During the day, she paces the floor, wild eyed. She can't work, of course, but we don't know how much medical leave she has.

We feel so helpless.

Still, there was a message of hope from my 'Muse', that I would find strength I didn't know I'd had:

New Ones, And Better

At last now the priming experience.
You will know what power it is you have -   
elemental, that,
for it is more than you thought.
Toss away those old ideas -
(What scraps of useless litter!)
new ones, and better
will be yours.

JAL, 7-11-00

But meanwhile, things were still looking dreadful, especially for Julia:

June 19, 2000

Julia finally got in contact with her doctor. It will be two more weeks before she can get the appointment for the MRI. NOTE this is NOT the DAY of the appointment, just learning WHEN the appointment will be. She doesn't yet know if her doctor got the info to her employer so that she can get medical leave.

Oh, and yes,VDP finally got off his high horse and told the lawyer what percentage of the house he'd like:


Laura offered that if there is no nasty trial, and we settle out of court, we'll take one half, but if he wants the battle, we insist on our title given right of two thirds for us.

In those role playing games, the most powerful mages have a spell called 'Divine Intervention'. We could use some of that about now.

By July 20th, we learned the cause of Julia's troubles was a '' herniated disk between the C-6 and C7 and she will require surgery. However, we are now waiting to get the appointment for the surgery.''

The end of July, we were moving into a singlewide that still belonged to Laura's son Anton. We had to jettison a great deal of things.

Julia made notice of a weird co-incidence:

July 30, 2000

There seems to be a curious cyclical pattern to the way things happen. Julia made an interesting observation. It was the end of July when she first joined us back in 1994. It was the end of July when she first started working for Pinal country. And it is the end of July that we have just spent our first night in the new house. It was kind of creepy, not hearing familiar sounds, and being in a mostly empty house. But it was an initiation. These cycles we see could all be co-incidence, as the mind seeks to find patterns in things. For it may only be similar to the way the mind likes to see things in mottled wallpaper, wood whorls and clouds. Still it's a fascinating game to play 'connect the dots' with visual data or events.

Speaking from present insights, yes, there does seem to be something odd about that time of year!

Come the end of August, I realized that if I was no longer going to be sewing, I would have to do something. A small town like Casa Grande is rather limited in its job opportunities. But I found one at a local convenience store. I ended up as clerk on the night shift. I would soon find myself learning that strength promised in an earlier poem.

Here is a poem written shortly after I started that job:

September 14, 2000

And won't I find the fierce strength within me?
Time and time again,
it has been like this.
I am frail and quivering
and thought overwhelmed.
But something comes -
and I go on.

JAL, 9-14-00

"Courage is grace under pressure"

That saying was on a poster at the place where I received my initial job training. Time and time again since seeing that, I have thought of it. May I grow gracious with strength. May the hidden resources within me become visable. It has happened so many times before. It shall happen again.

But, oh, that job was HARD to get used to!

September 14, 2000

sore feet
The main thing on my mind these days . . .

Do feet grow calluses? I hope so.

Since the last entry, I have been on my feet thirty three hours, once for a thirteen hour stretch. Feet MUST get calluses. They CAN'T always hurt like this, can they?

Yes, I know I'm being a wuss and a whiner. I'll toughen up. I will.

REALLY, I will . . .

I hope so.

But things began to get better:

October 4, 2000

Things ARE looking better! I actually received a few words of rare praise from a certain cranky curmudgeon, for one! Could have fainted, I could . . .

I hardly know what to do what all this optimism! But I'm certainly grateful for the change. I seem energized. I got some more work done on those poetry pages, illustrating two more poems this morning. Why, I even removed some poems from the old poetry pages, so they wouldn't be unnecessarily duplicated, having been put them in the new pages already. I even sent to bit heaven a few old poems that I no longer favored. Just busy as a bee, I am . . .

. . . . up, I am. Why, there are even MORE amazing things to report! [He who shall not be named], otherwise known as VDP, deigned to agree to our final terms on the house! We will not have a long, drawn out court battle, after all.

But this isn't the end of the bountiful good things our way. No, there's more. Julia, our poor, beloved Julia, who's only been suffering from severe neck and shoulder pain since April, yes, she is going to be fixed up today! Surgery to removed the ruptured disc in her neck will happen sometime this afternoon. For that, we are relieved. We'll feel more relieved once she's through the procedure and home safely, of course. But for now, this is enough cause for exultation.

The day after Julia's surgery, she ''happily reports her arm and shoulder no longer hurt. There is only soreness when she swallows. We are SO relieved.''

This forty first year of my life ended on a triumphant note:


''How many times have I sat at the door quivering?''     

''Enough now, that you should know better.
And how many times
has the false faith been made plain to you?
You know it,
you have counted it on your threadbare hands,
and the total always comes up the same.
This is no different.
You would know the faith within yourself,
and you will,
if you but call it forth.
Test that elemental force,
heaving its way through the underground,
rumbling as it makes its path.
It is yours, you know.''
''Yes, I do feel it,
I know it's mine.
What destiny as such lies before me
will be made plain,
and I will have the strength to follow.
Even now, weary limbs feel renewed.
I quiver no more.
Strength will meet patience.
All will be as it should be.''

JAL, 10-7-00

Forty Two
November 10 2000 - November 9, 2001

On my birthday, I was ''pondering the passages of time''. I'd just done the last of the final cleaning of my old sewing room, prior to that house being put up for sale. I wondered who would be living in it. I remembered fondly the many tranquil moments I'd spent in that room:

November 10, 2000

But I know that what allowed me to find beauty there, I have taken with me, and I find many beautiful things about our new dwelling, such as the way the sun kisses everything with stripes as it filters through the blinds at just the right moment of the day.

The optimism of the past couple of months dimmed when Glen, who had done so well after his lung cancer surgery two years previously, began suffering terrible headaches and had confusion when driving a car. He was scheduled for a CAT scan on the 22nd, to see if the cancer has returned and gone into his brain. Meanwhile, Laura thought it a good day to celebrate Thanksgiving on the Tuesday before the test.

Sadly, I ruined the turkey by switching the thawing drip Laura had put on it to hot water. I'd thought it would hasten the thawing process, but it had smelled nasty. ''The hot water had partially cooked the bird, allowing bacteria to grow. We had to chuck a beautiful 23 pound turkey.''

Laura did her best to control her fury, and she performed miracles with a 15 pound bird, but it was still a little raw by the bones. If it were not for Serena's ''perfectly cooked baked salmon'', the meal would have been worse than it was.

Still Laura's initial foresight was good, for Glen did receive a bad report: ''He has an inoperable brain tumor, one that is so large that if it gets any bigger, it will kill him instantly. They are giving him radiation in an attempt to shrink it. One doctor gave him three to five months to live at most.''

Meanwhile, work continued as usual:

November 30, 2000
"In The Midnight Hour"

Flourescent loudness,
bright store at night,
even through shut eyes,
yellow gray.

JAL, 11-30-00


Meandering smooth jazz,
soothing in the midnight hour,
night clerk smiles.

JAL, 11-30-00

December 7, 2000, more bad news greeted us: ''All the medical experts agree Glen would have a 95% chance of being a vegetable if the cancer were thoroughly removed from the brain.'' The next day was the anniversary of Shayna's death.

Laura was mostly recovered from the hardest parts of mourning. Still, there were times when memories of the young woman came to her mind:

December 9, 2000
"I Am Not A Pastel Person"

A week or so ago, Laura, after we saw the video of another good movie, Pleasantville, in which the staid black and white world became colorful when the people quit living by rigid scripts, said recently that she knew very few people who could be said to be 'colorful'. She counted herself and Shayna among them. Laura said that I have 'a colorful soul', but then added that very few people ever get to see that color.

I did not disagree. I'd said the same thing myself in a recent poem:

A Little

Just now, this hard edged beauty,
(why it was for just such force that you've dreamed)  
no caution here in the passion -
I delineate these colors with a broad stroke.
How good the pen feels in my hand.
I will draw this way and that,
just as the mood suits,
draw it all over the skin of my soul.
Tattooed thusly,
still, I keep it covered.
Shy, I reveal it here
only a little.

JAL, 11-18-2000

I pondered the reasons for this, and hoped to be more daring.

It's so easy, despite efforts against it, to fall into habits learned long ago. I'd been discouraged by my restrained relatives from any expression 'too colorful'. Although I knew this to be an unhealthy repression, I still found myself too restrained at time.

Another habit I found myself falling back into was that of being too absorbed in cyberspace. Once again, I needed to withdraw, and do more things with the people around me.

December 13, 2000

It was wonderful just to spend time together. We cuddled close as we watched TV together. It felt so good to be close. Laura and I both agreed that, even though we're still getting over the flu, it was the best day we'd had together in ages. I don't want to lose that. I want all our days to be like that. It is even more important that we be there for each other as we face the trials that are soon to befall us. Glen, sadly, is not doing well. He is losing his motor skills and keeps falling. I need to be a strength to Laura so that she can be a strength to her Mother in this difficult time.

Difficult, indeed, for Glen did not last past the year:

December 31, 2000

Last night at 7:00pm, Laura and I went to bed early. Laura, as she was settling into sleep, spoke softly addressing whatever remained of Glen's consciousness, ''You can let go now. You've done well. We'll take care of Mother. Just let go.'' I, too, joined in and told him, ''At ease . . .''

I grew sleepier, while Laura grew more awake. She got up and called Mother at the hospital. She told Eleanor she, too, should give Glen permission to go. Eleanor had been keeping watch over him, but found herself falling asleep before Laura's call awakened her. After she hung up the phone, she went over to Glen, and he opened his eyes to look at her. She told him she loved him and kissed him, and he kissed her back. Right after that, he passed away.

Had some part of Glen heard Laura? Even skeptical Laura wonders at this. And her sense of timing, how did she do that? Had Laura not called, her Mother would have fallen asleep, and missed this last special moment. We do not know, but I feel Mystery has had a part in it.

I would remember this necessity of giving a loved one 'permission to go', not much more than a couple years later. But that is a tale for that year. The new year of 2001 awaited us.

The aftermath of death continued to hang heavy over our heads and I found myself angry:

And I am angry, too,
at death.
I am the first child who
has thought they would not die.
Surely my anger would keep me from that.
Such a force,
how could the fates deny?
''But, please, at least a spark of me,
some essence . . .''

At least these vain words,
or if not these vain ones,
some other words, and better.
''Don't let it happen to me,''
the forever silencing.
Surely my rage should survive,
my love, my passion.
Don't let the veil tear all away.
Something must break through
and last past time.
I know I am not the first child
who has wished it so,
I know.
Still I voice my wish,
just the same.

JAL, 1-13-2001

And so I wished my Psyche to have immortality. Meanwhile, the hum drum of life went on as usual, some more bum than hum. Our friend Serena fell and hurt her leg badly. She required surgery, ''a metal plate about three inches down from her hip and three inches up from her knee. She'll be in the hospital for some time longer. But after that, she doesn't get to go home then, either. She must go to another place in which she'll be for weeks, where she will receive intensive therapy on the use of her newly mended leg.''

Laura made many trips to the care home and later to Serena's home to help tend her and cheer her up during her long time of recovery. The fall would not have been so bad, except for Serena's osteoporous.

Meanwhile, once again, I pondered the mysteries of those Ancient Egyptians:

January 27, 2001

It rains. We've just finished watching a documentary about the building of the pyramids. A contemporary crew tried making just a tiny pyramid. They worked together over three weeks devising methods, experimenting, and finally successfully getting the thing accomplished. The parting thought of the film was mine as well. What organization the ancient Egyptians must have had to accomplish such a thing on such an huge scale!

Still, when an emperor desires immortality, he does what he can with all the resources available to him. And it worked. Those ancient Egyptian rulers are still being talked about today, while those of other lands of that era have long been forgotten.

Today, as I look out beyond the blind slats through the rain streaked what looks to be a hazy sort of pyramid, though I believe it's a water storage device.

pyramid of sorts . . .

I wondered at the time what this poem was all about, but in retrospect I understand it quite clearly:

A Fair Glimmering

I touch at the gates
of the grand illusion.

Is it not what you hoped for, once?
Things are not what they seem.
thick pockets of leering men.
They have their secrets,
and they're not telling.
Pocket, instead,
what hopes you have.
Reach for deeper truth.
It is harder than you'd hoped,
but it casts a fair glimmering light.
Just now,
the parchments fall.
A new word is being heard.

JAL, 1-31-2001

I was suspicious of some religions and how they try to prey on people's fears. All I could get at then further from Higher Self that it was in regards to ''work[ing] out your own salvation'' without ''fear and guilt''. What was I seeked to be 'saved' from? Those 'things that tear at life.'' That all rather sounds like an initiatory process, and this poem having been received a few days after pondering the Ancient Egyptians COULD be prophetic of a word I'd later hear that was 'new' to me, but quite familiar to those Egyptians: Kheper, (aka "Xeper"), the process of becoming.

The scarab represents the hieroglyph for "to come into being", example at Chicago's Oriental Museum

The following poem seems a message to present me now studying my past, as well as that me then:

If the voice is not in you,
you will not hear it.
Is it a voice from the past?
You know it.
Seek that which is clear and true.
Listen, seek diligently,
apply yourself,
the vision will come true.

JAL, 2-8-2001

The steady hope of the future called to me, as well as the present concerns of the day. And concerns there were. Laura was not feeling well:

February 22, 2001

In this quiet space, I set my thoughts down and I look at them. Each needs sorted, classified, and understood. Yesterday, not half a day away, in the big city with the big mountains (that I love so much), Laura, her Mother and I went to see the doctor. Oh that she might have something in her bag of cures that will make Laura feel better. It's the breathing, you know, the wheezing. She learned better how to use her nebulizer. She's supposed to take a draw on the 'gray tube' (aerobid) after it, just like she does on the puffer version of Albuterol. You know it's bad when you're hoping it's pneumonia she has. Because the other possibility, well the other possibility is the congestive heart failure, lungs filling up with blood, oh really nasty . . . imagine choking on your own blood. Well that is too frightening to think about and we don't want to think about that.

So I push it out of my mind. She will get better, she must. She simply must, because I will not think about what would happen if . . .

. . . and my world gets too small to think about. No, we won't think about that. We have this NOW, and she has a new antibiotic, the xithomax the weekend on-call doctor having prescribed not being specific to lungs and bronchials . . .

. . . and she has a special puffer to help her this week. Her lungs did their wheezing thing for the doctor, so she could hear them. So we take each moment as it comes . . .

The medicine seemed to do some good, and life went along more smoothly. I had time for quiet thoughts and more deep poetry. I'll not share those now, but advance ahead to April, when Laura and I shared a special trip to Prescott:

April 2, 2001
"Something About That Air"

Laura prefers the forest to the desert. I did not know this before, but last Friday, when we were walking on a short trail in the Prescott forest, she revealed this. She had been born in Pennsylvania, a land of forests, and it is this sort of nature to which her heart is most drawn. I, on the other hand, have a deep appreciation for all kinds of nature.

I looked upwards at the tall pine trees of the Prescott National forest, and could not frame them entirely in my camera's viewfinder.

They simply would not be framed entire!

''Look up,'', Laura cried, ''Take a picture of the tree tops!''

Only with head bent back completely, can you see the tops . . .

The path we followed traced alongside a creek. Its soothing sounds added to the charm of our sojourn. At one point, Laura saw a large rock of an 'island' in the creek's middle, and made her way to it.

Laura, in the middle of water . . .

We did not spend long on the path. We could have followed a branch that led who knows where, but Laura was beginning to tire, so we turned around and headed back to the car. We'd spent enough time to enjoy the cool pine scented air and the sights, anyhow . . .

. . . [After we arrived at home], Somehow, I felt as though I should look out our home's windows and see forest. It WAS a magical time. Several times on the path, Laura and I paused to hug and give each other long, lingering kisses. Something about that air brought out the romantic in both of us. We even stopped for a lengthy smooch outside of the restaurant. My 'brave' spontaneity surprised Laura. In town, I am usually not that demonstrative, perhaps a quick peck at best. But there was just something special about this day.

I will tuck these memories close to my heart, so I'll not lose them. Every once in a while, we are lucky. MAGIC happens. Thus it was this day.

I wished to treasure each moment with Laura, and was very grateful for what we had:

April 14, 2001
"Laura's Birthday"

. . . She turns 62 today.

The Barnes and Nobles, where we shopped the day before yesterday, doesn't carry the hearts - and - flowers endless passion type of cards so I was forced to improvise with another type of card. Thus, I chose one with these two cuddly prairie dogs, for they remind me of Laura and I when we're cuddly! Who knows, but perhaps cuddly animals feel much of what we feel when we're cuddly with someone we love. Okay, they may not have moments of beholding their partner with overflowing joy and wonder, but they seem to enjoy it nonetheless.

And so I'm wishing Laura the cuddliest and happiest birthday ever. One thing our relationship has always been rich in is cuddles. We may or may not always have had lots of what may be termed ''sizzle'', but we've never been deficient in simple, warm, comforting hugs and cuddles. The comfort of a hug says: ''I trust you, I feel safe in your arms. I know you love me and I feel secure in that. Whatever happens in our lives, we turn to each other for the love that nurtures.'' This is the bedrock that a relationship ultimately is based on. ''Sizzle'' may add its spark, but it's not what sustains a relationship in the long haul. Laura and I, through out our fourteen years together, have faced many things together. Yet, our deep love has sustained us. I'm grateful for all the good cuddles Laura and I, and Julia!, have shared.

Later in April, I got some initiative and secured for us our own domain name so that all our web files could be under one large umbrella. I was rather proud of myself for this, for always before it was only Laura to introduce new things. Thus it was our works would now be found at http://www.aztriad.com/.

Julia, too, initiated CHANGE, as well. June 15, 2001, was ''historic in the Lansberry household. Julia, who joined our family in 1994, has now officially became a Lansberry. She's undergone a lot of name changes in her life. There was (1) her name at birth, entirely unsuitable, then (2) a name change that came with a marriage, long since failed, then (3) another name change, still not quite right, then (4) the first name change she actually liked, Julia Cybele Cachia, and (5) now, AT LAST, she is  JULIA CYBELE LANSBERRY!  The TRIAD are now all 'Lansberrys'.''

And Laura reported losing ten pounds. She was also out exercising cautiously on the bicycle. Things were on the upswing again.

view from a Tucson window, June 22, 2001

But, oh my, but this is getting to be a familiar refrain, something was to disturb the peacefulness into which we had settled:

June 28, 2001

. . . there is a new polluter in Casa Grande that causes more than just visual ugliness:

An artist's sketch of Reliant's $263 million Casa Grande Desert Basin Generating facility

Back in March of 1999 I told you all about how we might get this new power plant. It was supposed to be 'clean running', so I wasn't greatly worried. I forgot about it until one day I looked out the kitchen window and saw the very thing in the picture above out across the fields. It wasn't white. It was gray and it had gray smoke coming out of its twin smokestacks.

I've been noticing eye irritation every now and then. The beast DOES produce 'particulate matter', but that's not the only thing to come out of those spew stacks. There is also carbon monoxide, which can be deadly in concentrated amounts, and volatile organic compounds, which are also toxic. Reliant is permitted to spew 3, 697 tons of pollutants PER DAY!

As quoted from the informative letter to the Casa Grande Dispatch: ''Here's the breakdown for two turbines with direct burners and a cooling tower: Nitrogen oxides, 214 tons per year; carbon monoxide, 845.60; volatile organic compounds, 115; particulate matter (PM 10), 176.20; sulfur dioxide, 12.36.''

The town with which I had made an uneasy truce had suddenly proved worse when that ugly monster was powered up and began billowing its pollutants.

In July, we had happy news. Earlier, we'd felt much sorrow when Anton and Cynthia's twins did not make it, we did not want to 'jinx' things. I did not even mention Cynthia was pregnant, until after she gave birth to a very healthy Samantha Dawn.

I rejoiced over that, and returned to thoughts of my own:

August 8, 2001

And shall this be another meaningless ramble? Enough of those insipid platitudes which only state the obvious. Boring as hell, that. No, we don't want THAT. We can do better. We WILL do better. The intensity of my desire is only matched by the intensity of my . . .

Well, the intensity of my desire SHOULD be matched by the intensity of some real action. It is not enough to just THINK about something, however good at thinking I may be.

And I do like to think. Well, it occupies nearly all of my waking hours, and in sleep, the dreams take over, and that has its own thought process.

Perhaps these thoughts were the initial seeds of renewed artistic creativity, for in August I began creating more mandalas.


I was beginning to sense "The Magic Within Me" and in a dream, I got a clue:

September 3, 2001

This afternoon, when napping with Laura, I awoke from a most powerful dream:

I was as I was as a young girl. I was with Gramma and someone else at her house. Was it my Aunt June? We were gathered around something in the center. Was it a deck of tarot cards laid out in a foreboding pattern, a clue to something awful at work? The door bell rang, and Aunt June said, ''Oh that's the hiijra who has a 'friend' next door,'' (Hiijra being the Indian present day ancesters of the ancient Gallae, male priestesses of the Goddess). ''He comes to visit his 'friend', and now he's visiting us.'' I ran to open the door, and found a tall personage there, somewhat thick in the middle, with great long hair. S/he had a variety of raiment piled on he/r, robes, and such, dressed for northern climate, at the very least. I reached up and touched the long loose braid of hair that reached to he/r waist. It was thick and coarse, dark brown with streaks of gray in it. I felt in awe to be touching the hair of this fascinating creature.

Next comes the reason of the visit. It turned out Aunt June and Gramma were seeking he/r assistance on some matter, perhaps what the cards were pointing to. I do not recall the nature of the problem, but that magical assistance was required.

At this moment, there is a strange transformation. I am the hiijra, about to summon the divine forces. I am circling around from the waist up, causing my hair to come loose from the braiding. My hair swings wildly around me, as I circle faster and faster. I feel the magic power swell up through me, through my feet, and out through the ends of my hair strands. Whatever needed fixed will surely be set right by the forces I am calling. I am near struck down by the power, and it is only my twirling that keeps me upright.

I know this dance is called by some the Sufi dance, as I whirl and twirl to channel the power.

At this point I awaken to the present day world.

Perhaps this dream is telling me I have magical abilities within me that I am just beginning to be aware of. I would like to think it is, at any rate.

Such were my thoughts in progress, when that devastating event took place on the 11th which would absorb everyone's energies for months to come in processing it. The day the towers fell, and didn't my journal just one week earlier feature the tower card from the tarot??

Tower card, from the tarot
that's how it was, things falling apart . . .

Yes, it did. The co-incidences which are not quite co-incidences spook me. Of course, I was speaking of familial troubles in childhood, but it's odd that that I should choose this image to illustrate that entry.

that's how it was, things falling apart . . .

Much grief, and then I began working through it with humor:

September 26, 2001
a bit of catharsis:

pin-laden bin Laden

Then, weary of it all, I nevertheless proceeded further in the grieving process and declared:

September 29, 2001
poem excerpt

I can't look at the image of your face, Osama
and hate you.
I am spent of hatred.
I am worn,
of hatred.
I am done with that.

I was ready to focus again on OUR lives:

October 3, 2001

When I am old and gray, reading this journal and reliving what then will be my past, will I be frustrated and think ''Didn't I have a LIFE during this time? Did ALL I DO was fret about the war?''  Indeed, much of my mental and emotional energy has gone to worrying about what the future hold in regards to that subject. It's kept me awake at night and given me nightmares at other times. But it really is quite inaccurate to suggest I've been thinking of little else . . .

. . . Laura and I had an excellant time at dinner this Monday. I had my favorite 'enchilada suizas' and we dined in the 'patio' area. I enjoyed the soft light from the window as we had good conversation and savored our food. Gazing into each other's eyes, we celebrated over fourteen years of happiness and good memories made together. One of our special strengths is communication skills.

We often marvel at the idiotic problems of the couples on that dumb soap opera we occasionally watch. Nearly ninety percent are caused by poor communication. I wonder how closely this reflects the average real life couple difficulties. Throughout our years together, Laura and I have met many unusual challenges, and without those good communication skills, I don't know how we would have fared. So we are blessed, indeed.

Add these thoughts to the few nervous ones, and they outweigh them easily. As for the rest, we'll let time answer those worries.

October 19, 2001
A return to artistic creativity with "Leading The Dance"

Life was continuing in the midst of fear:

Radio Wisdom

''Stay brave, stay free,''
the disc jockey urges,
between the soft jazz hits,
(Rumors of more terrorist hits   
soon to come.)
Just outside of the box,
a bird sings.
He, and the singers
within the box.
I shall sing too.
''Stay brave, stay free,''
It's the only way to be.

JAL, 11 - 1 - 01

next section, year 43
Book Of Life Index
© Joan Ann Lansberry