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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each
I do not think they will sing for me....

nonsense and the lovely, part of the parcel, part 2

Postcards, cards and letters. Another road trip, a visit to the family, unfortunately everyone but me somewhat in crisis. I wanted to stop in Portland, in Ashland, in Seattle, but frankly with the amount of energy the family is taking, I didn’t have any left to lift up the phone. Apologies to Laurel and Seamus, KB and Andrew, Jennifer and Skye, for a missed chance to visit.

Drips and drops of a visit, a holiday, a missed connection, a made connection, images and words, mostly fragments, vignettes rather than complete thoughts or stories.



I really like driving to Portland, the roads have relatively little traffic, except for long haul truckers who are good drivers, courteous, and treat both Tessie and me with respect and maybe just a sly attempt to check out my cleavage when we stop for coffee and a shower. I love truck stops. Scary Farmer Brothers coffee, but masses of hot hot water. Code that requires low flow shower heads? Screw that.

The second day's drive is much less pleasant, the highway between Portland and Seattle has more or less turned into the west coast version of the Sprawl. It didn’t help that for many people it was the beginning of spring break, and everyone was driving to get somewhere else. Too fast and too close together. The 6 hours driving was much more tiring than the 8 the day before. But over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and back on rural roads, that’s the home stretch.



In the rooms the women come and go, talking of Michaelangelo



Finally arriving at my sister’s house. Everyone is at the dinner table, since Tess and I had taken some time to stop and wander in various places, both sick of the car. Quite a crowd around the dinner table.

Concerts, my sister and pop singing in this amazing a capella group, the surprise visit of my aunt and uncle from Virginia. Lots of running around, changing clothes and trading kids and mixing up cars and rides and foo foo raw. The concert was lovely.

A similar scene the next day, only the concert was in the evening instead of the afternoon, and the kids went along. Perhaps not their thing, atonal, polyphonic choral music, but they sat through it. And Tessie was quite mesmerized by the conductor, so she and I conducted the last piece in the first half, with her in my lap. And she drew and amazing picture of it, music stands and all, telling me “That one’s Grampa Mac, that one’s Aunt Katy, that’s the lady with the white hair, that’s Carrie." And the conductor, facing the wrong way but with a big smile, and enormous hands.

Finally, Tuesday, most of the guests leave, and Kate and I spend a good portion of the day reading novels, heads at either end of the couch, quilt over our knees, I always forget how damned cold the northwest is compared to California.

Alternating between reading, taking turns getting up to put on the tea pot, and talking. Late in the afternoon, we start talking about her separation.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

As I’ve said before, in my mother’s house, love is taken up in teacups. But I’ve recently figured out that it also is taken up in words. I used to sit down with my mom, pot of tea between us, and we would talk. Two hours, three, who counted? Not profundities, but laughter and understanding, and her question to me, always, “how’s your soul?” This wasn’t a social Howareyou I’mfine, it was a true how are you REALLY. Tell me, and I’ll take as long as we need to listen. And then you will do the same for me.

Now I’m doing that for Kate, for Mark, even for my pop, in his case in really different way. I doubt at this point that their marriage is going to knit itself back together – too many misunderstandings and too many edits for the truth and good listening to come back. It reminds me of myself, running away from my ex-husband, ten years ago, except that Kate is doing it in a far more civilized way.

They are in crisis. They are ALL in crisis, except me. This is a reversal from our usual roles, me historically being the hell raiser in the family, the one far more likely to go off on some quirky adventure and then change my whole life, in one scrambing leap. Kate is the rational one, the methodical one, the introverted one, so it’s odd to switch our roles and find myself giving advice. And being the listener.

But they’ll get through it. We are scrappy, my family, good sturdy strong-bodied peasant stock, inheriting our discontent, so that we always moved west, picked up and parted when we were unhappy, when the potato crop failed, when the deer ran out, when the colleges weren’t good enough, we founded our own. People die. We grieve, we survive, we do not walk away from our lives, even when it seems overwhelming.



The question I have for you:
Does love lead to loss of self?


Call me if you need a cup of tea. And tell me, how’s your soul?

And it is, indeed, nonsense, and lovely.




nonsense and the lovely, part of the parcel


For ideath as part of this ongoing discussion, also for Kate, Stumpie, Therese, my darling Mitzi, IWhoSawTheFace, Lucy S, icicle and graceness, all of whom are going through crises and losses of their own. Love to you all. Keep your chins up.

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