Saturday, May 8, 2010

Early Writings

In my first year of high school, I was assigned the task of writing my autobiography. It began, "At thirteen, I look back on the trials and tribulations of my life." I wish I had that essay, it would be interesting to learn of such "trials and tribulations." I look in vain in my diary of the years from age 11, when I began keeping one. I see such entries as "was baptised. It was very nice." In my mind I see the lake, my long gown. I feel the cold water, laying back in Rev. White's arm and going under. I look in the diary written when my sister Doris was at Wallum Lake, hospitalized with tuberculosis. In the diary, the tempo of my days never changed: "Went to school." "Report cards come out soon." "Accepted Jesus as my savior," and so on.
My memory says more: the disappointment when I made my first "C" and I thought, "I'm not as smart as I thought I was." My mother telling me "Go say goodbye to your sister," the day she was to leave for the hospital. Not knowing what to say to her, I ran into my room and found my most precious possession - my Bible - to give my sister.
©Natalie Norman Baer

Friday, May 7, 2010

Don't call me names

Say, "hello ladies" to me and my back stiffens. Class me as a "golden ager" and gall rises in my mouth. The only time I like "senior citizen" is when I get a cut on the price.
Why am I a different person than 20-30-50 years ago?
Living is more serene for me: I'm happier, less tired, more productive. My tongue is sharper, I search for words and I've stopped dying my hair.
©Natalie Norman Baer

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

becoming Invisible

I first realized I had become invisible when, wheeling my grocery cart around a stand of wine I was examining, I came carthead to carthead with a young woman, possibly 30 years younger than I. She looked surprised, moved her head, jiggled her cart to move between me and the wine stand. "Move", she said, No "Please", no smile, just the toss of her head idicating where. Brought up to mind, to obey a stronger force, I backed up and moved to the side. Then anger atruck and I whipped my cart around, almost striking her small child trailing behind. "Look out, little girl," I cackled, without a pause in my motion. No sound from the other woman - it was as if I weren't there.
Then it happened again, another store, another move around the corner. This time it was a man, a man of dignity, white haired, wearing a badge. I stepped aside quickly as he drove his cart straight at me. This time there was no nod of the head. Again, it was as if I weren't there!
How long have I been invisible? I dress nicely, my hair has a becoming length abd color, my husband likes my cooking but often when I speak or call out to him, he doesn't answer. I'm not there!
Thomas Mann in "Magic Mountain" wrote: "A man lives not only his personal life as an individual, but life of his epoch and his contemporaries." Perhaps it is not only I who have become invisible but the entire babbling, fault finding, me-first era that I live in will go down in history - Invisible to the last.
©Natalie Norman Baer

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Trapped in Machu Picchu

Traveling in South America we toured Macchu Pichu and then, as we slept, a storm struck. My memory of that:

The rain seemed light to us down
in the village of Agua Calliente
but high above, thousands of feet above
it was enough to move the earth
And with the earth was a boulder
Or two to dam the stream
that once poured so freely down
the ridge to the river below

How could we know, so comfortable in bed
of the horror that stream caused
as it broke and tumbled with the rocks and
boulders through homes with people once alive

Did they hear it before their houses crumbled?
Did they lie beneath the ruins?
or did they sweep along with the river
as it reached toward the sea?

Everything seemed normal that next
sunny day, shops were open,
vendors hawked their wares while
tourists viewed and ate their meals

Behind the fence is all that remains

I remember

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dear Moki

March 27
Dear Moki,
Now you did it, bad enough that you jumped our fence and ran away, but you took the grandchildren's dog with you. We miss you both - Kona for his sweetness, you for your bounce and energy. I remember the day you were born - one of eight wiggling bits of life. You were two months old when we chose you, with your white ruff, brown feet, and sleek black coat. The day we brought you home, you jumped out of the car, squeezed under the gate and trotted back to your old home. I brought you back and that night you cried but never puddled the floor.
Soon you were part of the family. "Bedtime", Buzz would call and you'd hop on the couch as we went upstairs. Later we'd hear you quietly pad up the stairs and settle on the landing. You'd crawl as close to our bed as Foolsie the cat would allow. Remember how she had a hissy fit when you got too close? The bed was HER territory. I guess the floor got too hard because sometime during the night you'd tromp downstairs for that soft couch.
So where are you now? Did someone pick you up, did you get caught in a pig trap, fall into one of the big sinkholes? Surely you are too smart for that, But you've been gone a week, I'm not crying anymore but I kiss your dear face, your playfulness - tossing your "Squeekie into the air for us to catch. I miss the sound in the morning: the little mews, tiny woofs, the thump of your tail. I miss you kid, you were our special one.
We left the door open at night the first two days you were gone - I cried when Buzz carried your food and pans upstairs. It seemed so final. It's still there waiting for you. I'd like to say, "come home, all's forgiven", but I don't want to start hoping again, it's too painful.
We love you, we miss you.
Come home.

March 28
Dear Moki,
Shame on you leaving your dad who stroked you, played with you, watched you outside while you did your business. Last night he had his first dream, (he says he never dreams). He dreamed you came home again.
So, come on, boy, get with it, and show your face again.
All's forgiven.

April 3
Dear Moki,
Our sorrow is healing, we only hope you are in the care of good people and not down in a sinkhole where no one can hear you,
Dad took down the barrier where the fence had fallen and stacked the wood to plug the holes. Remember how you used to sneak out through the fence? You'd wait until we weren't looking, then zip through with a yip and a ha-ha. Well the ha-ha is on you, isn't it?
Kona's mom still acts cross with me - she doesn't say so but I know she blames us for you leading Kona astray. She has a new dog now, looks like Kona with the Akita face. We went down to the Humane Society to see what is available in case we want to have another friend in the family. Have to think about it. You were lots of fun but a pain in the butt, too.
Well, boy, we miss you. I still tear up but another day is coming and we'll all live through it. You'll not be forgotten, your puppy mischief - the ragged edges of the carpet, the scars on my arm - will always rimind me of you. You'll not be forgotten.
Buck up, wherever you are. You carry our love with you.

I actually wrote these letters to Moki in 2001. Since then we have acquired two more dogs from the Humane Society but to this day, nine years later, whenever I see a dog in the back of a pickup truck, I look to see if it could be our Moki.
©Natalie Norman Baer