2020 Blog

In late 2019, each time I sat down to write a So I See post, I experienced a sudden case of lethargy. It feels like losing my keys, except it’s inside me that I can’t go anyplace. Then, on the first day of the new year, I started writing as if I couldn’t stop. Seems thoughts with words were like heavy rain, looking a lot like poems. That means they’re appropriate to read at the Head For The Hills open mic reading on Tuesday, January 28 at the Hillsdale Library. First, I’ll try a few of them out on you, the four blog readers I know about. I love hearing from you, send me your poem if you have one.

Dialog with Voice

Sitting down to write with lots of ideas today–again.
Voice says, Don’t write.
What?
I said, Don’t write.
Don’t be silly. What do you mean, don’t write? That’s what I do.
Don’t bother.
Why?
It doesn’t matter.
What doesn’t matter?
What you write doesn’t matter
Why?
Because it has be written.
No.
Yes.
It hasn’t been read.
It has all been written, it has all been read, it is not important
You did this to me once before
Yes, I’ve done it before

Painting, drawing, environment and concept works.
Even conceptual works needed stuff to make them happen. Less stuff, but still stuff.
You convinced me there is no place on Earth for the stuff I make. I gave up and lost
part of me.
However, I understand what you’re saying, It takes stuff to write–paper, electronic gadgets,
road trips, precious resources for the sake of words repeating themselves. Should the buck
stop here? What about losing myself?

The buck does stop here, Life is about losing one’s Self. Think about it.

NEH, 1/1/20

20/20

It’s a new year, 2020, the one some astrologers anticipate. They say the stars
and planets are arranged, so that everything getting ready to happen, is happening.

I suspect all the things I tried hard to make happen in 2019 happened on the first
days of 2020–finding my ring of keys in a coat-hood was stunning.

Almost every morning’s walk in 2019 was uncomfortably dampened by sudden squalls.
Each day of 2020, so far, I don’t even need the raincoat I tragically lost in 2019

2020’s news informs me the president of my country shot the top commanding general
of another country. The voice in his head said it would be a good idea.

The other country doesn’t like that idea and wants to shoot back. I wonder if
they will shoot the president of my country, me, my family, or my friends?

A whole host of hope-filled presidential candidates are professing their talents.
No one is better than the other. Seems we need them all, and then some, in 2020

My planet has been working on a plan to take back the resources we humans have
been stealing to make ourselves rich and comfortable. 2020 may be the time to do so.

I’m old now, on the other side of life. I’d like to think, as my generation moves out, a
new kind of Earth will nurture a new kind of human–sensible, thoughtful, altruistic.

NEH 1/3/20

Road Trip

A jazzed Poet-Quintet sways together in an old, silver SUV from Portland to Seattle on a stormy, black and white day, rain falling, rising, flying lane to lane. A motley, little group of Boomers, Hippies and an old Silent–warm, safe with Driving Poet in charge. All animated, alive, awake with anticipation.

Two Portland poets are featured presenters at seven p.m. The rest will join some of Seattle’s best at a quaint, up-town coffee house open mic. Arriving on time, a necessity, is achieved after hastily securing two one-person and one three-persons rooms in a small, nearby hotel.

Hearing impaired listeners struggled through coffee house, kitchen dish-banging to hear exquisite poetic rhythm and meaning. Applause for Portland poetry seems meager. Seattle poet response for Seattle poetry comes with raucous hand-claps and whistles. Perhaps glasses of wine would help, but was an unwelcome added expense.

A happy coincidence for one Portland and one Seattle poet of the same generation is, they were both born in China, not far from each other. Their poems were serendipitously inspired by the Yellow River. A friendship flowered over tea and talk. Rain never stopped that night. Driving-Poet found her way soberly, safely back to the small hotel.

Silent Generation-Poet assumed her position as Chaperone-Poet in the room for three. He-Poet was on the cot. Driving-Poet chose the bed closest to the bathroom. Driving Poet is beautiful and smart. He Poet declares his love for her, remaining appropriate at all times except when he says, “May I tickle you?”

Old, Chaperone-Poet senses helplessness. Drivng-Poet giggles just right, naming her beloved husband’s attributes and magnetism frequently dampening He-Poet’s ardor sufficiently. The next morning, He-Poet informed both females their snores kept him awake. Then, Portland Poet-Quintet took to the rainy road back home to bright, Portland sunshine.

12/28/19


Gun

Looking for Something Special?
Did you know there are thousands of firearms, let alone
all types of outdoor gear available for special order?
Stop by the sporting goods counter at your local Bi Mart!

He, sandy-haired, clean-cut white man–mmm, early 40’s?
Precedes her at Bi Mart’s checkout stand

She, white-hair, white woman looking for the
right battery to lock and unlock her car door.

His cart holds four, empty, kaki, canvas rifle cases,
four dark, heavy steel boxes, and plenty of ammunition

She, in characteristic visual acuity, notices two more carts of firearm gear
steered by clean-cut men to other checkout stands.

What is this, she thinks, then taps the young man’s shoulder.
He swings around alertly, making stern, pale blue, wide-eyed contact.
eased by her geriatric demeanor.

“Are you going to kill somebody?” She asks, wishing they could talk.
“Oh no”, he says, after a thoughtful moment, “This is for my father.”

She remains confused, as they move on; imagines standing with the
Christmas bell-ringer, watching for gun gear; asking the question

“Are you going to kill somebody?”

The Christmas bell-ringer will say, “Careful, gal, you’ll get yourself killed, and maybe
me too.” Curious, she still wants to know the answers to that question.

12/12/19

Neighborhood Nudity, Winter, 2018



























Christmas

In my imaginary dialogs with Jesus, he says he is exhausted. He says he feels used. He thinks he is sometimes used as an excuse for people to misbehave.

He says he isn’t frozen in time or in the stories people wrote about him long ago. He says he is alive, sad, tired, misunderstood and disappointed because the world doesn’t seem to reflect his teachings.

He says he speaks to us all the time, trying to help us appreciate and love ourselves and our lives so that we can appreciate and love each other and all life around us. He notices we are too busy to listen.

He is sorry that his birthday is used to boost the economy–he would like his birthday to remind us of our appreciation for life.

He says he wants to rest. I am imagining this Christmas as a time to give Jesus the gift of rest-filled peace.

NEH, 2005

Earth Poem

Honoring all participants in the UN Climate
Action Summit in Madrid, December 3 - 8. This
is a message of encouragement, gratitude and
hope for international goodwill, cooperation,
discovery, research and creative solutions.
Thank you for your efforts on behalf of our
Planet's recovery, healing and sustained health.

EARTH POEM

Our Mother
Who art the Earth
Hallowed be thy name

You are the bed in which love is made
You are the bed in which seeds of
human-kind grow and multiply
You are the bed in which we rest in peace

May you be blessed and holy
to all who think and act upon you

Give us this day our daily share
of reverence and sensitivity
to the truth of your nature

Give us the clear understanding
that it is out of your womb
all life is born
and every breath is your gift

Help us forgive ourselves our
transgressions upon you
Open our eyes to see
your needs are our needs
Open our hearts to love you
as we love ourselves

Grant us the
energy
willingness
passion
to heal your wounds
which are also our own

For thou art
Almighty Mother Earth
the power grace and glory
of our being and
we are your precious children

Amen/Ubuntu
NEH 12/3/19





This I Believe

The West Hills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (WHUUF,
Portland, OR) established a forty year tradition of Sunday
services titled This I Believe. Members take the time and
opportunity to share beliefs, inspiring animated response
and exchange like, “I had no idea this Is who you are, what
you have done, who you have been!” This unique opportunity
invariably brings deeper understanding and friendship with
one another.

I recently presented a This I Believe I am weaving into So I See,
suggesting you consider your beliefs, write them, sharing them
and please send So I See brief responses I can quote…

This I Believe

According to my dictionaries, Belief is something one accepts as true
Truth: a fact or belief.

This is my fourth This I Believe. The privilege of presenting is the growing awareness that life and time changes my beliefs and helps keep me up to speed on who I believe I truly am.

Since 1991, WHUUF has been my University of choice because of my belief in it’s Motto, The Seven UU Principles:
• justice, equity and compassion in human relations • acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth • the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.• the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process .• the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all.• respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. I believe the seven UU principles are a great topic for on going conversation.

My inner laboratory, located inside my Self, is a place where I study and work on a hypothesis devoted to the importance of equalizing my body, mind and spirit in all matters inside and outside. Inside is where I find my truth when I give equality to my thoughts, feelings and beliefs.

I believe the good I can do for others is to let go of my projected judgments of what is right and wrong for another person. I believe knowing as much as possible about humanness and human diversity helps me understand suffering and joy. I believe, as I study myself, I am also studying others and I learn by listening talking and trusting the moment.

As a parent, I believed my job was to “grow” my children into something, at least resembling myself or their father. It wasn’t a good idea because it was not possible and could cause unhealthy discomfort. I choose now to recognize my discomfort by admitting it, naming it, taking responsibility for it and changing the conditions causing it. My offspring have been my best teachers in this area.

Today’s This I Believe cohort and friend, Carole Price, gave me The Force of Character by James Hillman last year for my birthday. James is literate, scientific, theological, intellectual, philosophic, and creative, making his book a hard read for me. However, it has embedded a new belief–I’m not sure if it is his or intrinsically mine. This is how I read and understand it.

I was born with a cellular birth-imprint of natural, innate, character. No two people are born with the same imprint–unless we are cloned which is a possibility from now on. I am uncovering my birth characteristics–three of which are curiosity, humor and abstraction all of which distort my communication. I can be misunderstood when making assumptions from curiosity, humor or abstraction. The trouble is those characteristics can be, more fun than factually dependable.

Jame’s message to me, is that birth-print characteristics insist on taking a major role in our elderhood-80s, 90s,100s if we are lucky enough to be here. Natural character is is altered in life by childhood, parenting, education, social structure. However, It can show up, later, frustrated, emerging as cantankerous, irascible, unacceptable behavior. Among those, I am noticing, impatience and intolerance, I tend to welcome because I believe they support the beliefs I’ve needlessly subdued for a long long time.

Sometimes curiosity makes me ask you who you are, how you feel or what you want and think. You may consider it none of my business. I will consider your honest disclosure about that, kind, just and compassionate. I believe in honest self disclosure coming from the natural, human trinity of thought, feeling and belief.

My current passion is writing. It talks to me, tells me who I am. It’s the harbinger of my Self. If I were to use the pronoun, She, as I describe me, it would help detach my Self from her dreaded Ego. However, what I write and read is relentlessly all about me and the Ego I have hosted for 86 years, and own unequivocally–almost, unapologetically.

I think about death more often now. My image is a dried leaf falling from the tree and becoming dust. I’d rather not be pushed around by an air blower and put in somebody’s truck–of course I have no control. The best thing about aging is noticing I like myself now–that’s a surprise. Here’s the song I sing to myself sometimes changing the word “you” to “I”. “S’wonderful by George and Ira Gershwin…

‘S wonderful, ‘s marvelous You [I] should care for me!
‘S awful nice, ‘s paradise, ‘s what I love to see.
You’ve [I’ve] made my life so glamorous,
You [I)]can’t blame me for feeling amorous!
Oh ‘s wonderful, ‘s marvelous,
That you [I] should care for me!

I hope you will all come to this podium for your This I Believe. Take this opportunity to express and enlighten us with the wonderful, unique, intrinsic Self Life is giving you.

Normas singing to their Selves…

Today

I’ve been sitting on So I See for some days, wondering where to go now. I have 100 or more vintage Jottings from years past and assumed I would uncork them on So I See even though Now is always getting in way, wanting to be expressed…

It occurs to me I need to define the word, “Jottings” which I use but do not own. “Jottings From 5th and G”, is the original title of an article in the Lake Oswego Review beginning in 1970s, or earlier by reporter and First Addition resident, Peg Patterson. Sometime later, it became a generous publishing collaboration from the Review and Lake Oswego Adult Center for senior writers. JoAnn Parsons, recently retired from the valued historical list of Jottings organizers as she moves forward with a new book. Writer, Cherie Dupuis is now in charge. Thank you both from the hearts of us Jottings writers. Here’s a couple more Jottings…

The Visitor

Marge Stein was the real receptionist and this was her day off. Stepping into Marge’s place at the front desk was like stepping into my very own ocean liner and steering the museum through this rainy Monday in 1956. The thick, half-round, hand rubbed, oak desk, built high off the polished marble floor is where the public echoes from Tuesday through Sunday.

Marge looked like a museum receptionist should look, thick, straight, Burnt Umber hair, long enough to sculpt snake shapes around the back of her head. Makeup, as if applied by Johannes Vermeer; her figure mirroring the bronze Venus by Aristide Maillol standing in the foyer. She gave tailored suits, knit shifts and belted tunics a reason for being fine art. I was no visual match, not well- designed, yet–an art student, working to keep herself afloat .

The under-counter fluorescent lit-up me and the whole front desk. The museum people arriving for work waved, winked and nodded. One, not noticing I wasn’t Marge, asked, “Did you play Bridge at Carol’s on Wednesday?” I imagined I was Marge and said, “no” in two tones.

Checking the desk’s cubbyholes to see that the stamps, envelopes, rubber bands and miscellaneous were in order, I read Marge’s note from yesterday, swoopily scripted in cobalt blue ink. It said, “Dora, Susan Levin will deliver Igor to the front entrance at 11 a.m. Be sure Max is there!”

Dora Oaks was secretary for Museum director, Max Sullivan. She told me when to mimeograph announcements, polish the samovars, dust the collection racks or, the best job, attending the front desk. Dora wasn’t there, yet. So I left the note on her ink blotter with the morning mail and ran back to answer the flashing phone, letting the caller know that Edward Steichen’s photographic portraits of New York and Hollywood’s famous-types were on view through November.

Back at the desk, the museum was still, dark, except for reflections of the wet, gray day on the polished floor and the lit up reception desk. The light/heavy, stopping/starting rain tones on the sculpture court skylights beat a bluesy sound track for this morning.

I was free to swivel in my maroon, worsted wool, desk chair studying Chaim Soutine’s baker in a white hat and coat leaning on thick red cadmium above the; South Gallery doors; to the shelf of Ming Dynasty bowls in the glass case near the umbrella stand. A hundred and eighty degrees from the bowls was the huge, black and white abstract, “Painting # 7” by Franz Kline–teacher-in-residence that year.

At exactly eleven o’clock two dark bodies blew into the foyer – talking loud like sailors in a squall. My spine uncurled from the back of the chair. One tall man, one short, popping, shaking, spraying umbrellas, horn piping out of their tailored overcoats.

The shorter man said, “This Portland weather, it is like a storm at sea!” – trilling all his rrrrs. The tall man said, “Yes, I’ve lived here five years and I’ve grown to expect a certain amount of stormy weather. I’ll take you to the upstairs gallery and show you how it influences some of our Northwest painters. But first, Igor, follow me, Dora has a hot drink waiting for us in my office.”

As they passed the front desk Igor winked at me. I wondered if Dora knew that plans had changed. It was Max, not Susan, who delivered Igor Stravinsky to the Portland Art Museum that day to view his portrait in the, South Gallery, Edward Steichen exhibit.

Norma Edythe Heyser (If there are any readers who remember the Portland Art Museum in the 1950s and 60s, please contact me with your stories or a photograph of the front desk, the elevator, or maybe a story about Polly Illo, Bob Peirce or anybody–thirsty for the olden days! soisee.org)

Oil Bath

My apartment bathtub is a white, size small, plastic box into which my size large parts do not entirely fit. I have avoided bathing until struck with an unrelenting desire to fix my dry, itchy skin with an oil bath. I don’t know if there is such a thing but I imagined it through and decided to prove it’s effectiveness. Since the little white box doesn’t attract elegant bathing, there is no particular sentiment concerning its condition or inadequate function.

The idea haunted me for several weeks when, at Bale’s grocery store, on 10% Off Tuesday, I spotted a tiny bottle of Crisco Oil for $2.46. which inspired action. Its label reminds me of mother’s pie crust made with Crisco shortening which may inspire further action at another time.

Late afternoon, on 10% Off Tuesday, seemed just right–the world outside cold, blowy, wet. Drawing the shower curtain to the back wall, I turned the water full on to nearly hot, threw in three fists full of Epson Salts and a generous third of the Crisco bottle content. The bathroom fan with its bright, warming–orange globe gave a crystal shimmer to lovely, four inch, floating ovals of undulating grease lighting up the steamy stage for a thrilling adventure.

Crisco Oil undulating in the bathtub

Before entering the tub, I hooked up the Sony boom box playing Chet Baker and Strings, dimmed the lights, lighted a votive candle for the edge of the tub and, taking time to acclimate to temperature, slowly submerged myself into the treatment.

In seconds the oil bonded to every part of me. I became shiny, slimy, slick, sliding throughout the dimensions of the box without volition–no longer sitting but rolling side to side. All concern aside, laughing out loud and fully accepting the situation as is–it was fun until my inner adult suggested, This may be unstoppable. I should have a telephone. Would 911 consider a Crisco Oil bath an emergency?

Taking time to slip around, soak, feel warm and think about how greasy hands and feet are useless on plastic, I remembered discovering, on a slimy roof, that a Turkish Towel is a no-slip panacea. Both the wash cloth and bath mat fit the definition and are within reach at this critical time when the water is cooling.

Yes, it worked perfectly. I carefully planted the wash cloth under my foot and very bent leg; folded the bath mat over the tub-edge capturing one hand and one foot. With benign help from an adjacent slippery cloth-bar, I stood strait up, stepped out, slowly, successfully and thanked the Great Creative Source–wondering if anyone from the Ottoman Empire knew the full value of Turkish Towels.

My skin is making a remarkable recovery and asking for more. Am currently planning the next oil bath adventure–perhaps tying wash cloths to my feet and maybe, thereafter, using my hands to engineer a Fuji Apple pie–thanking both to Crisco.

Norma E. Heyser 11/15/17

Dear Readers/Writers,

For months, growing into years, I have been engineering a blog out of relentless desire and ruthless ignorance. Yesterday, I learned how to make it Public. Now, I’m tip-toeing into the scene, inviting you to help grow So I See by creating a reading/writing relationship.

I have used OLIVE: Her Life and Times With Norma as a launching pad and would love to hear from those who do, or do not have snail experience to write about.

Now, could someone remind me to check in on my own blog? Norma Edythe Heyser

OLIVE: Her Life and Times with Norma

Olive

My offspring say I should have a dog. I say, “No”. Two sons, two dogs, three cats for 18 years, plugged up my nose. After a shameful dependence on Afrin nose spray, I was told I was breathing danders, assuming they were little white bugs until my anatomy coloring book explained epithelial skin cells.

I have a bevy of wonderful dog friends in the neighborhood who wiggle and smile at me from almost a block away. I wiggle and smile back and when we finally get close, we touch and love for approximately 60 seconds–the thrill lasts until the next dog comes along.

I have expressed a bit of lonesomeness lately. A new friend, Devon, artist/poet/Snail Expert, convinced me a baby snail would be practical, affordable, modestly demanding and good company. Three weeks ago, baby Olive was delivered in a 12 oz, Mt. Olive (Since 1926), Kosher Baby Pickles jar with 22, carefully placed nail holes in the lid.

Devon created a lovely terrarium with tiny rocks, organic soil, weathered sticks, moss and lichen varieties and a crispy, curled up Laurel leaf–the kind the kids in my neighborhood tried to smoke in grade school.

Three weeks ago, I could hold Olive on my pinkie fingernail. Now, she hardly fits on my thumb. Today, she appeared to be somewhat depressed–sleeping most of the time in her curled Laurel leaf. I woke her up with nudges and a squirt of water for an exploratory trek through a forest of potted Cyclamen and a healthy, gastric elimination.

A lovely, one gallon Mayonnaise jar awaits holes in its lid to house Olive’s bigger body. I asked Devon if Olive needs a mate. She says Olive is likely to have babies without a mate. The web says, “Most snails are considered to be hermaphrodites and have both male and female reproductive organs.”…hmmm, well.

Another reason I don’t have a dog is, I don’t want to get too involved–you know, stay free of responsibility so I can write a lot and ignore everything else. Snails don’t wiggle or smile either. I’m not sure Olive cares if I’m around or not. Little does she know I worry and care if she eats her lettuce, or not.

I need a pet who worries about me and wants to be sure I eat my lettuce. Boyfriends don’t do that anymore either–especially when they get old. I just worry about him eating his lettuce.

Maybe I’m too old for a dog, a snail or a boyfriend?

1/2019

Olive Update

In April, I decided to give up caring for Olive, my pet snail–in the spirit of altruism, of course, detecting her depression in that over-sized mayonnaise jar. She kept trying to bury her growing self in only an inch of soil–no place to hide–the soil organic, of course.

I sincerely believed she could take care of herself and considered Olive a lovely gift to my Fellowship’s memorial garden–a whole new environment, a place to bury herself, including fellow snails and other sympathetic creatures. I would be encouraging and supporting a make-over; an opportunity to re-invent her life.

In May, I requested a sort-of-Bar Mitzvah-type celebration with organizational assistance from for the Sunday School children, believing it was a wonderful idea! However, quite unexpectedly, Olive and I were denied access by the experts including the Reverend minister, Olive’s surrogate mother, the Portland Audubon Society and resting my final hope on a trip to Pendleton seeking permission from my Walla Walla Indian friend who gave me the final, “No”. They all believe Olive is dangerous to the State of Oregon. More than one expert suggested, heaven forbid, she could eaten–that’s dangerous to Olive!

Now, I would like to hear from the experts on the larger question of migration and immigration. How is a snail dangerous to the earth, no matter where she comes from? If Olive, who is likely to come from France, is dangerous to Oregon, what then, are humans who come to Oregon from other places–like Paris? Plastic and bombs are dangerous to the earth, Olive is organically made.

Truth is, in April, I may have wanted to get rid of Olive. In fact, in biological ignorance, I was starving her of the protein she needed to expand her Self. With fresh Cuddle Bone and egg shells, Olive perked up, began remodeling her shell as I watch the awesome process. Her job, as a snail, is to expand her space–creating it out of her own juices. She still buries herself in a scant half inch of soil, but continues to grow beyond the size of the mayonnaise jar and eats her lettuce profusely–organic, of course.

It’s July tomorrow, what do I do now?

6/2019

Olive and Her Friends

Two neighborhood Snails came out to play, or something, on the walkway this morning, making silvery slime in partnership. Olive wasn’t interested. She slid over them and the pink plum seed headed for the English Ivy patch to make another plum tree.

It wasn’t the meet-up I had expected. Perhaps she has learned to be a loaner. Wonder if isolation is her thing?

She just headed back to her Mayonnaise jar as if it were where she wanted to be. I wonder if I shouldn’t worry about her so much–its just something I like to do.

7/2019