Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
I'll be back tomorrow - it seems the moving has stirred up some dust in here.
Posted by Brigid at 7:27 PM
Monday, May 4, 2015
Abby is keeping her toys close by (she did not like it when I packed them up and left with them) and I have internet again so life is good.
Some posting to follow after a good night's sleep.
Posted by Brigid at 2:59 PM
Friday, May 1, 2015
Thanks for the support - and if you like it - let others know (but use my author name, not my blog name to avoid confusion). This was a deeply personal book - written for my dad and my daughter and dedicated to the Henley family - friends who recently adopted 3 children that brought with their family situation, a number of challenges, and lots of love.
It's not just about human adoption but all of the friends, two and four-legged, that become our family as we come of age.
Click on the link on the right sidebar for Amazon Easy Ordering.
or Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1478754141
Posted by Brigid at 4:28 PM
― Jules Renard
"There's a treat in your pocket-- I know it."
Simba the Golden Retriever.
Posted by Brigid at 5:08 AM
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
I'm moving to a new crash pad. My lease is expiring, and I'm not happy with either the current upkeep of the property or the new neighbors I share a wall and driveway with since my neighbor the cop bought a house. They consist of the buffalo family and their feral children who spend their evenings bouncing things off the walls while the kids scream and cry and doing laundry at 6 a.m. on weekends when I'm coming off of work at 3 a.m.
I've rented a yuppie condo place in an expensive community (it's actually cheaper than a house though) but they allow large pets, which few nice places do, and have a dog park very close by. Yes, I could transfer to Chicago - but it would mean not being Gibbs, and I like being Gibbs. Squirrel retirement is looming (with my retirement pay based on the last three years of being Gibbs) so I look at it as an inconvenience for another year, then on to other things and more time at home to annoy my husband.
But cement between floors, a single one bed-rrom neighbor with a car that cost more than most of my gun safe, and a location far away from the road at least means I'll have some quiet in the evenings to write and relax when I'm working-- which is but a distant memory lately.
But the next few days will be busy packing after work, and I will have a couple of days with no computer but for a quick Facebook hi from a local coffee shop. I'm going from multiple bedrooms and two baths to one bed/one bath so there's some packing and downsizing to do. Hello? AmVets? After that, the free ice cream will continue and I promise not to bore you all with the new book any further, though I will advise when the Kindle edition comes out.
Thanks for those of you that acknowledged it though. It's not for everyone but the fact that a few of the many folks that visit here left a comment and bought a copy, even if the subject matter likely wasn't their thing, (there's no guns or spaceships!!), meant the world to me. You, my friends, all are awesome, and the reason I keep showing up here regularly.
See you all next Monday, Comcast (shudder) permitting.
Posted by Brigid at 9:34 PM
Monday, April 27, 2015
It starts with great anticipation, is filled with moments of joy, discomfort, and the occasional sleepless night while thoughts kick from inside, with no place to go. It takes months and months for it to grow and develop and it seems like the day it is born will never be here.
Then it's done, painfully and protractedly. Finally, you hold it in your hands, loving it because it's part of you, the most painfully shy, weak, strong, courageous and foolish parts of you.
But remember, there's ALWAYS going to be someone who has never been through the experience that's going to say "Ugly Baby."
It's all worth it.
"Hard times and lean times are only forever if you believe they are. If you refuse to, they are simply brief glances in which, for a moment without measure or context, will lie in your sights the portent of all that you think you cannot bear but will, there between the darkness and the light."
- Saving Grace - A Story of Adoption
Posted by Brigid at 7:04 PM
Sunday, April 26, 2015
The rough riders, tearing up the streets, just like old times.
This old bus is a warrior, Frank. I have tried to kill her, but she will not die.
I have a great respect for that.
Tom Wall - Bringing Out the Dead
An elderly man sits in front of a cold television set, the house is warm, but silent this day. There are plenty of homemade meals, frozen and put carefully away and labeled, things his daughter made for him, on hand. But tonight, he just wanted some canned chicken soup and a generous drop of amber liquid, something familiar and warm for his soul.
Outside the wind blows, new spring leaves clinging to still bare branchess as fiercely as flags. Inside, the phone rings, it's the neighbors, a couple of "kids in their 60's", as he calls them, calling to check up on him across the little white brick fence. For they'd not seen anyone leave the house for a walk in a couple of days. Beyond the simple expression of Christian caring, they were concerned. He was fine.
He was glad they noticed.
Tonight, his son is gone and his wheels are silent. He's alone with his thoughts and the past, hoping the phone will ring. It would be his daughter, who lives so far away, who checks on him daily and visits when she has days off that allow for a quick flight out there and back.
He thinks of her, not as a grown woman, but always as that little auburn haired child who would sit on the couch for hours. Her companions were the books she coveted, books that she did not so much simply love, but crave like an addict, the fire that flowed from the writers mind through fingertips to be burnt upon the page, then doused with the water of laughter or tears, and wrung out again. He always said there was no interrupting her when she was like that, the house could burn down around her as she embraced the words among the flames. She remembers him saying "She'll love everything that hard. That will be both her blessing and her curse". She wonders why she remembers it now.
He settles down as he waits for her call.
So someone always checks on him and she has had more than one call when his curtains weren't opened or the dog was barking, only to find he'd simply fallen asleep in the chair. Apologies were made but she would dismiss them, for better to be concerned and have it be a false alarm when look away from someone is in need of dire help.
It wasn't always this way. In my Dad's time, a nation attacked us without warning and we dropped a very large atomic bomb on them. Today, we apologize profusely to those who wish to kill us, closing the shutters so we don't see rogue nations continue to build their nuclear capability. We close our mouths, stopping our protests before they become sound.
Off work for a few hours, I go for a short run in sweatpants and a beloved dark blue Citadel sweatshirt, trying to work off ten pounds that set up base camp after my brother's death, the need to get out in the wind briefly stilled. With the bad knee it is a work in progress, moving always, finding the composition of lift and motion that will propel me forward, help me get past pain that is more than a knee, scanning the horizon for anything unusual, gun on my hip under my shirt
The place I live in when working is in a little town some miles from the city but close enough we have to be vigilant. It's relatively quiet, with some nice houses, a young neighbor I recognize walking a lab, his wife, pushing a stroller. But there are still a few homes that look like the only lab that have is of the meth variety. I see an older neighbor and stop and ask her about her grandchild, she asks about my family and tells me she misses seeing Barkley. I thank her, small connections, small reassurances.
I see someone on the bike trail that goes past my road. I recognize her, a city clerk, another volunteer at the food kitchen, we chat briefly and wave goodbye. As I head out into the open area that's part of a nature preserve. I see a movement off in the brush. Dog? Coyote? Now I knew I was in no danger from the coyote or his brethren, as there were many walkers about, but I was in his world. To my eyes, his world was dark, every noise I make a threat or a promise. Where he could see, I was blind, where he could smell, my senses were mute. What he could hear eluded me completely. What drew him in, was as old as time and as uncaring. While I had intellect and size he had the grimness of infallibility, instincts honed through generations of survival in an ever dangerous land.
Despite the scientific part of my brain telling me that logically I was in no danger there are primal forebodings that stir softly in our blood. Times, despite logic, that cause a less than subliminal sense of something lurking, watching. Something that stalks quietly, closer to our world than we want.
As I headed back towards my garage,I see a young man I don't recognize, coming from the direction of town I tend to avoid. His eyes are binge drinking slits, downcast, his hands in his pockets, his whole movement, one of coiled tension and anger, at his parents, at life, who knows. I clear my throat and make eye contact and move across the street towards the gleam of a light in a window, walking head up, hand ready, determined in my movements, even if I still have a bit of a limp when I'm tired. He moves away and past, paying as little attention to me as he does his own grooming, not knowing that had he moved with the intention of harm, I would have dropped the whole world on him.
I care, for people, for friends, even for strangers who, having lived lives of work and honor, just need a little support. And, as Dad surmised, I love deeply. But I have a limited capacity for empathy for scavengers and predators, having seen in my travels around the world, some absolute realities beyond the billboard of illusion that the socially and politically naive never imagine.
I go inside my little crash pad, setting down on the table my own sword; one in the form of a large caliber firearm, dropping the badge in my coat pocket on the table; my shield, one that grants access to grief but does not protect me from sorrow. For sometimes you think you can fly, only to be destined to drown.
For years, I did all I could to protect not just my physical form, but my heart-- doing what people the world over do when they are hurt. I pushed everyone away. I also pushed my boundaries, sometimes hanging up high in the air, the g-forces on my body a distraction from the pain, the air parting like the Red Sea, my only need to move on at maximum risk to my body, and minimum risk to my soul.
I wanted nothing from the world but the ability to push through it without being touched. I talked little to people but much to the sky, whispering to it my regrets as I rolled through 40 degrees of bank, taking counsel with that great blue solitude.
You think that cheating death like that would make me feel alive but for a time, it was a battle without passion, grey and colorless, with neither the urge to win, or the fear to lose, played out before an arena with no audience. I came within a few knots of a final pronouncement more than once, and found that I had nothing left to say.
The only sound was the wings cleaving the air, a sound that is like all other sounds of profound mystery, the lap of a wave upon a shore, the echo of taps, the whispers of a voice that speaks to you in dreams from an eternity away, heard but not comprehensible.
There were a lot of good times, there were a lot of good memories wasted as more than once I said "should have" or "would have" Those are words in all of our hearts, at least once. We recall much of a life as each year passes, candles on another cake, warm breath against the flames. But what do you remember most - the best day of your life or your last regret?
The difference is profound.
Sometimes it's pride, sometimes it's hurt. Sometimes it's history. Often it's the fear of being judged, or even rejected. The safety stays on, the mouth stays closed and while we think we are protecting ourselves, we're merely closing a door on life, one that can be as fixed as one of a prison. In doing so sometimes we lose a friend, we lose an opportunity or we lose on love- that improbable, inexplicable and sometimes bewildering thing that binds us together despite our blood, or through it.
I look at my Dad, and when my brothers name is mentioned he gets this look of profound grief on his face, even as I've learned to get through the day as a stoic. He is a man who is not Time's trinket and for him, my brothers collapse and death on Good Friday was if it was yesterday.
But he'd not have given up the experience of adopting and raising him, both of us, for any happier ending. As I make my plans to call both he and my husband tonight - that's what I will remember.
Back home out West, someone is knocking on my Dad's door, with food, with care, making sure he's not alone tonight. He looks through the peephole, unlocks the door and opens his home and his heart, all that is left to him. In his closet is a military uniform, on his porch an American flag, and within his reach, until he was too frail to handle it, a shotgun that had fed and protected him for over 75 years. On the table, a photo of a tiny spitfire of a woman, years before her bones shrank inwardly, her mind and her flesh growing sparse in those last days that he never ever, left her side.
We love with great depth, we defend with great pride, we protect with a generation's honor, even as we always keep our guard up, our eyes open equally to worry and wonder.
Posted by Brigid at 11:30 AM
Saturday, April 25, 2015
These cats are family, but still, I am a dog person, even as I have a soft spot for any animal that is homeless or mistreated. Walking through my neighborhood with Abby, our new rescue dog, yesterday, I saw a cat, arrested within the eyes of that dog, pulled up high in the apostrophe of fear as he held poised for fight or flight. I pulled Abby gently away, as she had cats at her foster Mom's house and we weren't in for a rumble. But I didn't want Abby to get a clawed nose for her curiosity. The cat's coat was in good condition as far as I could tell, but it was a thin, likely a stray. I was going to see where it went, where it might have a home, but it was gone in a flash before I could check on its well being. I'd seen her before, always hanging around the same spot in the fence, where she likely had found a safe place to sleep.
But animals aren't the only "strays" we see, people fall into that same category. I'm not talking homeless, necessarily, but those people that by circumstance or transplant find themselves in a new city, for a new job, or a fresh start, where they don't know anyone, or are stranded somewhere while traveling for a day or days, due to weather and fate.
I found myself in that circumstance the first year I was in Indiana. I'd only been on the job a few weeks, not enough time to make any friends. I'd moved here from back east, too far to visit any old friends after the cost of the move. My parents were in San Diego at my Step Aunt's condo, where they spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas after my Mom died and my dad remarried two years later, to a widow with three adult kids. I wasn't invited-- the place not being big enough for the whole blended family. Dad felt badly I'd be alone, but he wanted his wife to be happy, her time with her sister, growing short, the rest of her siblings gone. I understood that, and would visit them for a belated Christmas at home on their return, but it still made the holiday lonely.
There was no car, just a flash of light reflected off a nearby rode, and it brought back every moment as a child, those moments we have all had, when we feared we just didn't fit in, that we didn't belong..
Yes, thirty pounds of potatoes, for although I expected RSVP's from about six people, I ended up with twenty-seven people, pilots I worked with, a couple of our mechanics, and a few corporate pilots that used our facility and stayed at the local hotel while their passengers enjoyed Thanksgiving with family and they got free Cable. They arrived with drinks and chips and thankfully, some extra rolls and a couple of pies from the Safeway store.
It was a wonderful evening, with massive quantities of food eaten, countless stories told and much laughter, eating until we couldn't eat any more. There was something starry in the kitchen that night, where I learned as much about my ability to organize and create as I did about the essential bond that a meal around the table creates, even if it's a bunch of card tables shoved together with white bleached sheets over them.
But that night, if only for a few hours, we had that bond of family and food, warmth and safety. It was that moment when chance aligns with time, whose only foe is death, and together, death's darkness seems so very far away.
You see them at any airport, that frazzled traveler that just missed the last flight, that young person sleeping on the floor after their flight cancelled, without the means to secure a hotel room. I've offered a hot coffee and a sandwich with a smile to more than one soldier or college student I saw stranded at the airport. Because I have been that young person with rumbling stomach, surrounded by strangers, wanting only to be home.
I had a flight between two Midwest cities a few years back after I'd picked up a couple of days work as a contract corporate pilot The city whee I was flying wasn't home but it was near where I was spending Thanksgiving with friends when I got the call to cover for a pilot out sick, for a company I'd done some contract work before. Easy money and the holiday was about over anyway.The sky was cold and cloudy as I waited for my return light, to be followed by a long drive home, but there was no precipitation All of a sudden, our flight was cancelled, with no reason given, but we were only told we'd be on another flight real soon. I didn't see any mechanics at the plane, and the flight crew was all there, so I called Flight Service, for the aviation weather, giving them the N number of the plane I'd just flown in, the previous night. There was severe icing aloft, unusual to be so widespread, but deadly. No one, big or small, was going to be flying out of that airport, and likely for the rest of the day.
We said our goodbyes and walked away towards home. The sun, who's brilliant form dwarfs us all into the smallest of particles upon the earth as we are held within it's glare, was hidden behind the steeled gray of cloud cover. With it's brightness now captured behind a stratified door, the night fell upon us as we walked to our cars, it was as if we were all just shadows, covered with a fine, soft scattering of night, falling like ash.
I never saw any of them again.
As the phone rang with the cherished voice of my husband, letting me know he had reached his destination safely, I realized I had much to be thankful for. Even in an empty house there was a gentle doggie snore of an adopted friend until the clock struck the duty hour and I gathered a black bag and gear in case the phone rang in the middle of the night. But before that occurred, there was something I needed to do. With a quick warm hand pressed for a moment on top of a cold square box in which my furry best friend lay, I left the house and walked to a little store a block away, a can opener and a little plastic bowl in my pocket. I got some cat food, and put it out in a bowl along a solitary fence.
For everyone, at one time, is a stray.
Book can be ordered today from Amazon at the following address:
For everyone, at one time, is a stray.
Book can be ordered today from Amazon at the following address:
Posted by Brigid at 8:31 AM
Friday, April 24, 2015
Saving Grace - A Story of Adoption has been published. Paperback is available at Amazon. (Kindle copy in the works, and should be available in a few days).
If you liked the style of writing in The Book of Barkley you will enjoy this story. It started as a journal I wrote to my daughter after I gave her up for adoption as a teen. It wasn't anything structured, just notes here and there of thoughts and stories of her birth as well as my life growing up in the 60's and 70's with the brother I was adopted with. In a series of vignettes of life and memories crafted from those notes, I hope some of you will see much of your own journey to family.This book is for my daughter, in memory of my brother, but I hope the world will enjoy it.
Posted by Brigid at 6:56 AM
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
It really was a beautiful evening - despite the brisk, chill wind. Other than the area of the street lights, it was almost impossible to see the difference between sky and open land that lies next to where I live, no fences, just open ground. It made for a serene and enigmatic landscape.
Houseguest F. went with me. With a six foot tree inches of muscle at my six position, I was comfortable taking Abby further out afield to walk then immediately around my driveway, for even armed, as a woman, I don't wander far into the shadows.
"Let's go this way" I said, with that tone that was less a woman giving direction and more that command that was mine for so many years.
Taking on that yoke of responsibility, comes with it much reflection, as you open that cockpit door for the first time as the Skipper, as full of faith as if opening the door to some secret shrine. You learn quickly, how to adapt and change and even more importantly, that you are just one person and without your crew, you are nothing. Especially, to that crew chief that fears neither God nor the Devil, man or weather, and hates all pilots on sight and you most of all, which all new pilots secretly believe, even as it's not true.
With the wry countenance of a watchful parent he gives the signal, fuel is introduced and your night starts
It was hours later, the mission completed, when I was fighting sleepiness even a the stars themselves seemed to tire of the night, that the seat started to feel familiar. But it's something that never left, and with rare exception, I'm usually the one in charge,.
But it's my nature to lead, even as almost all of the people that are close to me are also natural leaders. Some honed that skill from the cockpit of an airplane - which can be as serene as the imperceptible motion of a becalmed ship or as violent as a paint shaker. Decisions are made with split second timing and often much adrenalin only to then sit for hours with nothing happening, as the land profiles ahead of you as flat and as matte as black paper cut from the sky, fallen to earth Others do it in building a business, or those battles that are the downfall or the saving grace of man. Some aren't cut out for it, such decisions leaving them a doubtful shadow of themselves trembling in the glare of action.
Anyone that deals with human nature knows it as well, vain hopes and fitful errors, grandiose plans broken down by ego into small bits waiting for others to sweep it up and make it whole, while they move onto the next disaster. Then there are the critics - people that love to tear down that which they themselves can not build.
Still - I'd take it over a life that's flat, safe and bland, as unseasoned as the soul that walks in it.
We ended up cutting across an open grassy area of property in the little community I live in, even if part time, the grass cut short that day. F,, walking at a distance at my 9 o'clock, had Abby's leash and she stuck her noise town in the grass drinking in the smell of something.
And it wasn't grass.
As she popped her head up I could see from the faint glow of a streetlight that she had something in her mouth, about the size and shape of a smaller Nerf football.
F.. looks down and says, dead calm, "It's a dead rabbit". Likely killed by the mower.
"Abby - Drop it drop drop it", I cried out, helpless to do much else from a distance.
She knows "drop it" from playing with toys but she wasn't having any part of it, even for the treat I pulled from my pocket and hoped she would see from the distance in the darkness.
"F - get it get it get it!
F was already reaching down to pry the dead rabbit from her mouth- which he did both expertly and gently while I moved to her side.
Abby was very pissed off, giving him a look that menfolk the world over would recognize. I also realized that no mater how much you think you are in charge, how many titles you have, or what your rank is, to a dog with a piece of dead animal in it's mouth you are simply
Blah Blah Abby! Blah Blah Abby!
Sometimes we need that lesson.
As we headed back towards the house so I could call my husband, I realize how very lucky I have been in my great misadventure which is life. I look upwards, at the stars, and see with it the sun, the light, the darkness, great seas and vast skies the limitless creation of God's own seven days, which this one small soul blundered into unbidden, connecting with other small souls that then joined in that web that is camaraderie, that is life.
I wouldn't trade any of it for anything.
Kill the Wabbit
Posted by Brigid at 5:48 PM
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
It looks like a testosterone bomb went off in here and Abby is looking perturbed that couch, futon and all extra sleeping spaces are no longer hers.
There's many years of history here, and there will be some tales told under the "Cone of Silence" where a toast is raised and at least one tale will be told about a wrong way tank and a Bosnian goat (a tale that's in my next book but not told here tonight). I don't have a real little brother of the blood kind, but I really do have my own band of little "brothers", and for that I'm grateful for their presence.
We think we have also lured Tam over for Poutine and Beer on Friday night.
I'll be back tomorrow.
Posted by Brigid at 7:30 PM
Monday, April 20, 2015
But it was NOT torn down. The city in Plainfield worked with some local folks to get it moved to the historic downtown area and restored to it's glory of 1954. I sort of stumbled across it one day and promised to drive back and eat there. With my husband around this weekend it was the perfect time.
Partner and I made the drive to check it out and are really glad we did. They've been open several months now giving them time to work out the kinks that can come with any new business, and establish a good menu.
MMMM, Spice Cake
It was pouring, so we ate inside but there is outside seating, including an area where your pets are welcome (the restaurant is right off of a walking trail through an extensive city park so this would be a great spot to stop with the kids and the dog for one of their hand crafted milkshakes, malts or old-fashioned soda floats on a warm summer day.)
There's some standards and some not so standards like Grilled Cheese, full of not just cheese but lots of bacon, roasted tomatoes, avocado relish on homemade (baked right there) bread served with a cup of tomato basil bisque. Then there was something called "disco" fries which looks wonderfully like Canadian Poutine - with french fries covered with melted mozzarella, brown gravy and fresh chives.
They also sell their whole pies and loaves of bread to go.
I had the tenderloin sandwich (and yes, there ended up being a "to go" box involved --it was HUGE). Crispy and tender with a surprisingly delicate, yet crisp and tasty coating, it was worth each and every calorie, especially with a homemade bun and garlic mayo and my choice of their many sides - in this case poppy-seed infused creamy coleslaw though I almost went for the bacon mac and cheese. Partner headed back to Chicago in the morning with half the sandwich (which didn't last the trip) and called to tell me how good it was.
Looking out the window, at small town America, I was thankful that such family run businesses are still succeeding. There across the street, a bus from a Baptist church, a city flag honoring our soldiers, and another local business. This is the kind of town I grew up in, and though I'm officially a "big city" resident now, I love to return to my roots Especially with wonderful meals to go with it.
To the owners and staff of the Oasis Diner-- here's hoping for another 50 or so years. We will definitely be back.
Posted by Brigid at 7:26 PM