JUST OLD BUTTONS

I have a collection of buttons.  The old fruitcake can that holds them is probably from the 50’s by its look.  It belonged to my mother and I guess I “inherited” it 13 years ago along with the few things she left behind after her death…

My mother, like many women from her generation, collected buttons from worn out pieces of clothing.  With a family of seven children, she was creative about keeping us “clothed and clean.” That meant mending socks, patching jeans, sewing rips and harvesting buttons from clothes no longer useful.

I could have easily thrown out those buttons when I found them at the bottom of a box I  cleaned from her closet some six months after her death…(yes, it took me that long).  But something inside told me to hold on to them.  I admit it was hard for me to let go of things my mother collected.  As if holding onto these “things” would keep her spirit close to me somehow.

I am so very sure I’m not the first woman to hold on to her mother’s artifacts.  I guess it is natural that we want to hold on to something our mother loved and admired… like her energy is still with us…and sometimes, even the spirit of her mother, before.

Today, I went looking in my storage and took out that can of buttons, thinking I could use some of them in my attempt to create some cool pumpkin faces for my grand-kids at Halloween.  I did use some of the buttons and felt good about “my creations.”

Later, in the quiet of my office, I sat down and spread out all of those buttons.   I went through and sorted them by color, size, shape, etc.  Little did I know that I would soon have an epiphany of sorts.  The déjà vu that hit me was so unexpected….I remember thinking “okay, its one thing collecting buttons, but did my mother actually keep and collect buttons from 40+ years before?

Examining the buttons, I began to see bits and pieces from my childhood…here were buttons from my favorite shirt from 3rd grade, then buttons from a coat from 5th grade I had long forgotten…. I began to study these buttons more intensely and with my mind’s eye, remembered clothing my siblings had worn…not the basic buttons, but those that stood out, like buttons from a jacket my brother wore until it was tattered beyond belief, those “psychedelic” buttons on a “hippie vest” my sister, Wava had and even the cool buttons from my youngest brothers’ bomber jacket.  I began to believe that maybe these buttons were a way for my mother to hold on to a piece of history…..her childrens’ history…..just as in the old days when they kept pieces of fabric and made “family tree” quilts.

My mother never made quilts, but she did keep the buttons.  And that day, I got a little “flash back” to my childhood and a little more respect for my mom.  It made me wonder:  what will my children save and collect from our lives together?

A TRIBUTE TO FOREMOTHERS

four gen greats

 

In her book “Dance of the Dissident Daughter”, Sue Monk Kidd writes about the importance of knowing ones “FOREMOTHERS” and how exploring our foremothers through writing could be instrumental in helping us know our true authentic selves.  For are they not a part of us and we a part of them?

So, in the spirit of my FOREMOTHERS, I offer this:

Here’s to my Maternal Great-Grandmother, Belle Zora Joy-Davis who lived most of her life on a Dairy Ranch in Yava, Arizona  and was the mother of 13 children.  I cannot imagine how hard her life must have been or what she taught her daughters about the big wide world at the turn of the Century.

To my Paternal Great-Grandmother, Emma Mae Craw-Matli, (Grandma Short) who boar 5 sons and a daughter and even though 4 ft 10 in, was renowned for her vigor around the Infamous Matli Ranch in Williamson Valley, just outside Prescott, Arizona.  She ruled with an iron fist for 5 decades and though she lost a daughter, Mary, at age 28, her sons did become “TRUE COWBOYS”  working a cattle ranch, riding bulls and broncs in the oldest Rodeo in the U.S. from the 1920’s to 80’s, when her last son died and the ranch and land was sold to developers.

To my Maternal Grandmother, Beulah Belle Davis-Matli, whom I never got to know, as she died on Christmas Day when I was 2, yet whose life story is nothing short of an inspiration as I have learned some 50 years later.  She was a victim of domestic violence, (from a man she was married to for a brief time, not my Grandpa)….she almost lost her life,  yet she overcame great adversity.

To my Paternal Grandmother, Ferne Dorothy Kapp-Jones, of whom I have fond memories.  She took me on adventures to pick wild raspberries in the Arizona  mountains, made the greatest apple plum cake and told me of her theory of “the Methuselah gene.”

And of course, to my Mother, Gay Yvonne Matli-Jones, who left me with her gift of grace on a snowy day almost 40 yrs to the day of her own Mother’s death…she said a GRAND GOODBYE to me in “Harry Houdini style” and still speaks to me in my dreams….

And I have to add three cousins to this tribute.  Strong women who are connected to me through blood and bone, love and spirit, and whom, if I never got to know, I would never have learned so much about my family story:

To MARY MATLI, daughter of my great uncle Charley and aunt Vonnie Matli.  Mary was instrumental in helping maintain a family legacy and keeping honor and dignity in the MATLI name, as best she could.  From birth, all she knew was the Matli family.  She lived and worked the ranch with her parents as she was an only child with no siblings, and most important as some would say, NO BROTHERS…..yet, she worked hard, endured much adversity and family turmoil and to this day, she is a pillar of strength, goodness, and pure heart.

To SHAMAYA RENMARK-FURMAN, my second cousin and grand-daughter of my maternal grand-mothers’ sister VIOLA….we connected on ANCESTRY.com and she provided me with family history from my maternal side (mom’s mom and all those 13 siblings)…..so rich was the history and it changed and transformed me in a positive way, making me feel I had learned more about myself than I could ever have known elsewhere.

And most recently, to MARCIE JONES-HOLTHUS…..my first cousin, daughter of my dad’s brother.  Boy did I learn a lot from her about my dad’s side and she even got me in touch with other family members.  She and I have written to each other, comparing notes about our lives, as I had not seen her since I was four years old….it was a bittersweet reunion that made me feel more intertwined into the tapestry of human beings that I am related to.  I feel grateful that I’ve found “my people” and know so much more about “who I am”……The cool thing is THESE COUSINS ARE STILL ALIVE and I can tune in, show up and connect with them if I so desire.

ON THIS DAY, I HONOR ALL OF MY FOREMOTHERS FROM GENERATIONS PAST AND PRESENT…..for as women, we DO NOT have just ONE MOTHER, we have MANY MOTHERS….young and old, weak and strong, vibrant lights and soft glowing embers……some in the shadows; some in the forefront.  And if we sit still, open our hearts and truly listen, we can hear them speak to us……We hear and feel them in the storytelling, in the ephemera of faded black and white photographs, in the remnants of relics long saved that remind us of long ago and make us feel connected….in hay lofts and dusty trails, in the songs of nature at the break of dawn, in the smell of a newborn calf, in the summer monsoons and all the chores that still need to be done…..we feel them.

TO ALL MOTHER’S…..here now and forever gone……I feel your strength, I feel your comfort, and most importantly, I feel your hearts…….m.e.

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid…

elaina reflection 

Today my daughter showed me a postcard she’d received in which a guy had written her poetry….I soon realized it was the lyrics of an old Van Morrison song…she told me “my friend thinks this song reminds me of him”…

As I read the card, my heart fell deep… my soul revealing….

Reminiscing of a time I knew so long ago…

In my youth at 19 years old, this was THEE SONG that brought her father and I together those many years before….and not before insurmountable odds worked against us…..only to create this beautiful little girl a year later….

I suddenly had one of those “fluttery moments” in my heart…..  I wanted to try and explain to her how I was feeling…… but hey…

Some things are better left unsaid…..  ~  Mick E  ~

A Lifetime of Heart-Shaped Rocks

day17

I love heart-shaped rocks.  I have collected them my whole life.  From river beds and woodland streams; to hiking trails and mountain summits; to ocean and lake shores and sometimes even digging in my own back yard.  I distinctly remember the very first one I ever found when I was ten years old.  It was in Granite Creek in my childhood home of Prescott, Arizona.  My brothers and I used to love to trench through the creek after the rains when we were a foot deep in run off.  Days later when the creek ran dry, we’d quite often find a multitude of treasures washed down by the current and deposited in between rocks along the creek bed.  Trinkets, toys, coins and colored glass….I even found an old vintage doll once.  But one bright day, while trekking through the muck, I happened to glance down and to my surprise, there in between two large and muddy rocks was the most perfectly symmetrical heart-shaped rock….

 As I picked it up, I imagined that it had some secret power and I was meant to find it that day.  It was a smooth, dark igneous rock with tiny white speckles that I thought of as freckles…..just like mine.  I carried that rock in my pocket for the whole summer and I swear to this day that it brought me a sense of peace when things were not going right.  Some days I would hold it when I was sad or afraid and some days I would just keep rubbing it, like Aladdin and his lamp….hoping it would bring me luck…(or at least three wishes.)  Such is the life of an imaginary ten year old.

My search for heart shaped rocks has continued for over 40 years now.  Whenever I am out in nature, I find myself searching for them.  Sometimes, when I seem to be looking too hard, I usually come up empty.  Yet, sometimes I’ll glance one way just for a moment and then back….and suddenly a rock will just seem to show a little gleam so that I notice it among the many rocks, just waiting for me to pick it up.  By and large, these rocks have more often seemed to find me.

Gradually over four decades, I’ve realized that my search for heart shaped rocks has taken on a sense of the metaphoric.  Like life lessons learned, there were  times when I was looking so hard I’d find nothing, only to look away and then slightly glance beyond my periphery and what I’d been looking for would just show up in my world….usually when I was not paying attention.  Sometimes, I’d find answers in the most peculiar and unexpected places.

Over the years,  I have seen both family and friends struggle, those of us searching so hard to find strength, courage and purpose, yet it all seems to elude us.  It made me think:  Is this the path we must follow to find and understand the simple things in life—when we’re looking so hard that we can’t seem to see the forest through the trees?  Is this the secret to life’s wonderment and surprise?  That constant pull on our hearts for “the true meaning of everything.”

It is that wonderment and surprise that shows up “out the of blue” when I witness my 4 yr old grandson playfully having a “zen like” conversation with his toy alligator or when my 26 yr old daughter tells me she wants to marry someone who “has the ability to express love in the way she has seen her parents do with each other her whole life.”

I don’t know for sure, but I think this is the closest I have ever come to experiencing TRUE LOVE …and maybe if I “do it right and pay it forward”  this true love becomes a generational legacy…

In any case, I will forever be on the look out for my heart-shaped rocks…and sometimes waiting for them to find me…until my dying day….maybe before then though, I can take my grandkids on the search with me…who knows what we’ll find together…

~  Mick E.  ~

 

Wherein Should The TRUTH Lie?

truth lion

All journalists, especially those in a position to reach millions should “first and foremost” be emissaries of the public.   As a journalism student who was kicked off  her college newspaper for telling the TRUTH, my thoughts about TRUTH in journalism are of course, jaded.  In 34 years since then, I’ve learned many lessons about “the dissemination of information to the masses.”  The bottom line is “if we don’t stick up for and protect the TRUTH at all cost, how can we ever evolve as a society?”  In today’s world of high speed technology with unlimited information at our fingertips, it is now more important than ever.  Information is power.  Let us not forget that information can sway popular opinion, propagandize a nation and initiate wars (as history has taught us).  Today there seems to be “50 shades of gray” when addressing the TRUTH as we have 50 million perspectives. Sometimes the TRUTH hurts us or others… sometimes the TRUTH is not what we want to hear… sometimes withholding a small TRUTH may help a larger TRUTH be seen with more clarity, thus we can be caught in a moral dilemma.  But if be do not uphold the TRUTH against all odds, then all else becomes meaningless.  There is much TRUTH to the proverbial saying “what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.”  And just as important, how will we then be able to write history?  (the irony here being our history books are filled with half truths and falsehoods).  In the end, the TRUTH is the most precious gift that we can leave for our children.

 A true journalist is only a vessel.  When journalists rise to a position of celebrity, it’s hard not to let their egos interrupt their moral responsibility.  Yet so many get swallowed up in that competitive trek in the name of TV ratings.  I feel sad for what happened to Brian Williams as I really did like him.  That being said, to think no one else in journalism or any other profession has ever embellished their life or work experience is absurd.  Whomever is without the “sin of embellishment” should cast the first stone.  It seems more than ever these days that the idea of “things are not always as they appear” rings true.  It has become harder and harder to decipher fact from fiction and thus harder to not be drowning in cynicism.  I am forever optimistic though, as I believe in the goodness of the human heart.           ~  Mick E.  ~

My Midnight Muse

The Mittens at dawn…my favorite sacred place…. Sept 2011

The first night I heard “sounds” I thought it was in my head.  I was up and down in the carriage house loft I’d just moved into behind my sister’s house and I didn’t think twice.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I was just too busy to take notice.

And then, a few days after New Year’s when things were more settled, I was lying in bed one night when I began to hear the faint sounds.  First ever so slightly, then a rhythm began…..a thump, thump, thump past my window every 15 seconds or so.  It was a sound that had a precise timing….I could hear it as if “in a circle.” At first I was afraid, fearing some weird turn of events.  I was, after all, living in a domicile that with its main house, had been built in the 1920’s.  Maybe this was “the ghost of tenants past.” Finally, I could wait no longer.  As the window above my bed on that side of the loft was boarded up, I’d have to go outside to investigate.  I was scared at first, but then curiosity got the best of me.  So, sneaking out with a flashlight, I peaked through a hole in the fence into my neighbor’s yard and low and behold, this is what I saw:  The neighbor’s teenage son was running laps around his back yard and treading just under my window, making a thumping sound in the dirt.  No need to call GHOSTBUSTERS here… Darn.

The next day I happened to be taking out the garbage at the same time as the teen’s mother and so I struck up a conversation.  I learned that the boy was my neighbor’s 13 yr old autistic son.  His parents had found that letting him run laps every evening before bedtime helped calm him down enough to fall asleep. She explained that they had started doing this in the summer, but as rituals were very important to him and the running had such a calming effect, they let him continue even in cold weather.

As the nights passed and I became aware of his running (precisely at 1030pm—you could set your watch by it), I was surprised at how soothing it became.  The rhythm of his feet pattering by my window was a welcome sound for me, knowing he was just “doing his thing.”  I was usually upstairs writing at that time, so I began to feel that he truly had become my muse, as I always felt inspired by the sounds I heard—like I had a connection to the creative universe… a sense of humanity “off the beaten path” but as sacred and vital as breathing.  He had become my “human metronome”….

In that winter, I had learned a great lesson:  “Don’t be afraid to investigate strange noises that go thump, thump, thump in the night.  Sometimes they may just be there to teach you a lesson beyond your imagination.                            ~  Mick E.  ~