Monday, July 13, 2009


"And the house of Israel called its name Manna. And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey ... So they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted."
Exodus, 16

So, Bill's new obsession is daylilies. You should come see. This is the second summer for a lot of them and they're filling out and getting wonderful. I don't have him here for quick reference, but I think there are around 80 in the garden now and several queued up in the garage for planting this week. Some 40 of them are currently in bloom.

Many of them are the most elaborate flowers I've ever seen. Showier than orchids. Ruffled, variegated, single, double. Their colors range from the palest pink to the blackest maroon. Some have different colored "eyes." Some are a single glorious shade. Some are fragrant like nectar. Some smell like something delicously alive and clean but nothing more. All have names. Like "Shores of Time" or "Ed Brown." Bill's recitation of their names is a daily liturgy.

Each one is a miracle you can hold in your hand. Every bloom thrives for a day and is gone the next morning. It's kind of painful. We've tried gathering them up and bringing them in. They're lovely at night fall and
by morning have turned into something totally goopy and disgusting.

They are manna. Sufficient to nourish a soul one day at a time, then gone.

Therefore, in the evening, Bill goes around and picks off the spent blossoms, that are really at their peak. He tosses them into a bucket and that's it on them. Before he does that, though, we pass them back and forth and inhale their beauty. Trying to glean maximum enjoyment before they're gone. Then the slate is clean. Ready for a new morning of fresh bloom.

I am not a Biblical scholar by any means, but the metaphor of manna has always interested me. Touched me, I guess. To me it's the very paradigm of trust, which is a commodity I'm very low on a lot of the time. The Israelites were under a lot of stress in the wilderness, and they freaked out about a lot of stuff, annoying Moses and undoubtedly trying the patience of God. They tried to hoard up the manna for the desert version of a rainy day, and the leftover portion turned nasty very fast. They had to learn to take what they needed and trust in providence to provide for later. (Hey! Providence. Provide. I never noticed that before. What was I thinking?)

The Buddhists have that whole attachment concept, which is the same idea with a slightly different spin. It is our clinging that causes suffering. Our desire for every beautiful thing to last, when no beautiful thing ever can. For although the day lilies are extreme in their fleeting span, their wisdom applies to everything that blooms in the garden. Here today. Gone before we're ready.

This is the pitfall of living a human lifetime in such a magnificent world. We can't fully appreciate the beauty without seeing the fading, can't love summer without noticing how fast it goes.

We are commanded by the nature of the universe to live fully in each moment. To hold the lily and breathe in its loveliness so deeply and completely that we can toss it away without regret.

Tall order. Big challenge. Always worth a try.

And no kidding. Stop by and visit Billy's lilies. They're only here for a little while.

July 13, 2009

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What I Did On My 4th Of July Vacation

Yesterday was the BEST July 4th Celebration in the history of the United States of America and it happened right here in my neighborhood. I had the swellest day with everything I ever wanted in a 4th of July. It was sunny, but not too sunny, warm but not too warm, breezy but not windy -- just the right amount to make all the flags wave picturesquely in the All-American breeziness. And because of the rain everyone's been cursing lately, the world was a gorgeous shade of green.

We had a parade.

A parade so funny, so funky, so American, with a Salvation Army band; three friendly police cars with full-up light and sound; children in red, white and blue attire (and hair), on foot, in parents' arms, on decorated bikes; some wailing, some blissful; one young man posing as Benjamin Franklin with a degree of authenticity that in my opinion outBenned the young Ben himself.

There were floats that showed a lot of forethought and effort and floats with a whacked-together, thunk-up-at-the-last-minute, insouciance. (Notable was the cherry picker device Frank is using to paint his house, extended to its full height, tricked out with bunting and loaded with kids and grown-ups. It sailed up the street with its occupants at tree-level and Frank in his big white shirt looking BUT EXACTLY like THE Spirit of 1776. So cool you couldn't stand it.)

There was Emil (who is 90+) on his red scooter, dripping beads and wild enthusiasm.The rest of this year's photos are "not yet available" but they will be shortly at (Along with weather, webcam, golf handicaps, what music is playing currently, etc. etc. You should go to there. It is fun.)

So the parade was, as noted above, the perfect parade with more participants than spectators. And I got to be a spectator this year. Which was a role that needed filling. Yay me.

Here's my schedule of what I got to do on Independence Day 2009:

Get up. Have coffee in the yard and listen to the neighborhood wake up with birds, sunshine and happy voices.

Help fill 150 water balloons for the games. The incredibly cheap and tacky nozzle device actually worked like a charm. We all three got pretty wet; it took a lot longer than you'd think, and obviously the y chromosome makes it utterly impossible for a couple of guys -- even father and son -- to resist firing off a couple of water bombs at each other. John, very good shot. And quite unexpected. That was excellent.

Watch the quintessential neighborhood 4th parade, as noted above.

Sell raffle tickets down at the park and root for every single kid to win the bicycle.

Eat a good hamburger and some delicious taco salad and have a
a Rolling Rock in a bottle, in a Shore Acres Association coaster, before 11:30 a.m. (The coaster was $2 and worth every penny. We moved 100 of them at the picnic.)

Have another beer and guard the water balloons from 20 or so little boys who just really couldn't stay away from them. (Y chromosomes again.) Also guard and distribute prizes to kids who were mostly very polite and appreciative and who generously gave me the gift of seeing a cheap glow sword as the True Holy Grail.

Watch Bill be 100% the Bill I signed on the spend the last 40 years with, as Director of Games. I hope we ride our Emil Scooters down Shore Acres in the 2039 Parade.

See our water balloons well-used in water balloon tosses for all ages and then. at the end of the games, turned loose in a perfect freeforall, which included pelting Frank et al who were watching from that cherry picker and had NOWHERE to hide. (Lucky for you guys we didn't release the leftover eggs from the egg tosses.)

Note: I'm not even going to mention all the people (Meg, Dan, Meredith, Scott, Boo, another Dan, people, people, more people -- you know who you are; you are magificent and you know that.) who did all the work to make this event happen.

My day, continued:

Have another beer.

Sit down on our deck, listen to John's great playlist and watch the water and the boats with neighbors we knew and neighbors we're just getting to know and strangers we liked.

We flew our flag down there (instead of on the street side, where there were plenty) for the admiration of boaters and to warn off the Canadians. Or at least the dratted Canada Soldier, Bug of Many Names.

Have another beer. (Lost the previous one. Somewhere.)

Have a short nap caused by sun, busy day, and, possibly, beer.

Stroll down to Meredith and Scott's fabulous new patio on (like, no kidding, ON) the water and watch the sunset and the bonfire, have a beer, and meet and remeet their cool friends. If Domino hadn't gone out of the magazine business, they'd have been down on the patio last night doing a spread on how the young, hip, people of Shore Acres Drive celebrate the 4th.

Fireworks were visible up and down the lakeshore; everybody's city was putting on a display. And if fireworks were legal, I'm sure there would have been really cool, really loud, almost scary fireworks at Scott & Meredith's. But that would have been illegal and I hasten to say there were NONE. At all. No firework fun was had by us there. Really.

Then we came home, met Sue and Hossein on the sidewalk and got Hossein's recipe for ribs which includes, and I quote, "zap them with my magic" and went to sleep. All worn out from fun and no fireworks. And beer.

See? Perfect.

God bless the people and the friends of Shore Acres Drive.

God Bless the USA.

July 5, 2009