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Articles in "Spiritual Smart Aleck "

Here follows part of an email written by my friend Susan Bardwell some years ago. Susan passed away last November after a brief fight with lung cancer. We miss her terribly. I must have written to her complaining that some religious proselytizers had come by the house and she responded:

The series "House" has ended, and the character of Gregory House stayed unrepentant to the end, though he (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen it) redeemed himself in his own twisted fashion by faking his death so he could be free to make the final months of his best friend, Wilson, happy. He literally lays down his life for his friend, and as we have been told, greater love hath no man.

First of all, an apology to Narcissa Whitman, who has suffered enough. After I sent out my last column I was informed right smartly by several people that the person who brought the dandelion to Seattle was in fact Catherine Maynard, second wife of "Doc" Maynard, Seattle’s first doctor.

Sunday. It is the first beautiful day, almost like summer. The sky is clear, the sun is hot, the sounds of lawn mowers and weed eaters are abroad in the land. It is a day that makes you feel like you’re young again and anything is possible.

Well, I felt like that until after I’d worked pulling weeds at the church for an hour and came home and sat down for a while.

Our dog, Jive, passed on about a month ago. I’m sorry if I forgot to tell you. I thought I’d told everyone, but I was talking with Sonya yesterday and said in passing, "Now that the dog’s dead..." and she shrieked, "WHAT?"

After my cousins Charlotte and Nancy and I finished visiting the Pioneer Cemetery in Watsonville, we headed out to the Pajaro Valley Memorial Cemetery to pay our respects to our grand parents, Percy and Lyllian.

When I was a child, we used to go out and place flowers on Lyllian’s grave. She died in 1938. After her passing, Grandpa took solace in the brothels of Watsonville.

My cousins Charlotte, Nancy, and I made a cemetery tour. My father and their mother were brother and sister, so we share grandparents and great-grandparents. Charlotte has become more intrigued by genealogy the last couple of years, and she wanted photos of family headstones to put up on the internet.

Drove down to California a few weeks ago.

I went down I-5 as far as Grants Pass, and then cut over to Crescent City on the coast, where I spent the night, after driving up to say hello to Smith River. Had to say hello, because my father’s family used to have a place there.

In a recent column I spoke of a VW van in less than flattering terms. Those remarks prompted a friend, Alan Blue Heron Milinazzo Barnett, to write in praise of the VW bus. I asked him if I could run his letter as a guest column. He said yes. Here it is:

It occurred to me the other day that there are similarities between being a farmer and being an artist.

My father was a farmer, as his father was before him. He raised apples out in Green Valley, just west and north of the Pajaro Valley, near the Monterey Bay. My mother raised my brother and me, kept the house up, and did the book keeping for the farm, and occasionally played the piano.

Last week our big projection television lost its electronic mind and began showing pictures in strange colors, and also breaking the images into streaks and blotches, while making a noise like something inside was whirling around furiously losing pieces, and getting ready to explode. We turned it off and moved a back-up television from my office into the living room. We seldom leave the house and television is our main form of entertainment, and I didn’t really need to watch TV while working on the computer, did I?

First, an apology & correction: In a classic slip of the mind in my last essay, I said that my friend Becky grew up in the Madrona neighborhood of Seattle. This prompted a LARGE FONT email from her saying that she grew up in MAGNOLIA, not Madrona, and she was proud of her neighborhood.

Three mighty warriors gathered to go hunting. These were their names: She Who Argues; Makes Many Plans; and Straight Arrow, so called by the other two because she tended to drive the car straight through curves instead of around them.

They wanted to begin early in the morning, so they caught a ferry to Southworth a few minutes after noon and headed for the fabled hunting grounds of East Bremerton,

It is that time when we pause to look back and reflect on the year that was. Well, those of us who buy into the conventional idea that a new year is coming on January 1 do this, anyway.

The Island’s years tend to have a regular routine, and this year mainly followed that routine: the tide came in and went out, usually a couple of times a day. Some trees fell over. Some hillsides slid. Some days we saw the mountain

Micheal, the husband of my friend Susan who recently passed, writes that their four year old grandson Ian asked if MaMa was dead. Yes, Micheal told him, and the boy went off to play. But now, a couple of weeks later, Ian wants to know when MaMa is going to come back alive again.

My friend and constant email pal, Susan Bardwell, passed away on Friday, November 11, at the age of 57. She had inoperable lung cancer, and after a course of radiation and two chemo sessions her body couldn’t go on.

Hallowe’en is past, and the next day the Christmas products appeared, at least on the shelves that weren’t already decked with Christmas products. That stuff has been in the big stores on the mainland since August.

All my life the Christmas shopping season has left me feeling inadequate and disorganized about Christmas shopping and gift giving. There is a reason for that feeling: I am inadequate and disorganized when it comes to Christmas shopping and gift giving. I’m the one waiting to mail packages at the post office on December 23rd, for example. 

"I love humankind. It’s people I can’t stand." - Charles Schulz

Well, crikey, mates. Let’s talk about how hard it is to love people.

There are different kinds of love – there’s the love we feel spontaneously for people we know, and there’s that more challenging kind of love, agape, "non-erotic love, as of God for humankind..." Thank you, Webster’s dictionary.

Once upon a time, a friend’s heart stopped. It was 4:30 in the morning. His wife awoke, there was a 911 call, there was CPR. The EMTs got his heart going again, and he was transported to the hospital, but a doctor told his wife that her husband was not expected to live.She called the priest to come and give her husband last rites. She called their children to come and say good-bye. All who knew him prayed for him, hoped for the best and feared the worst. 

I was cornered by a ranter yesterday. It was a left wing ranter, decrying the corporatocracy. I thought what I always think when cornered by a ranter: Where is the nearest escape route?

I might not disagree with what a ranter is saying, but I do resent the ranter taking up my precious time yelling at me. It isn’t as if yelling at me, or anyone else, is going to improve the situations which have the ranter so upset.

I was asked to write a blurb about the island Labyrinth Tour that is coming up, and I realized that the blurb needed a picture.

I mentioned this in an email to my friend Susan, who is a retired journalist, and told her that it would be hard to get a good picture of a labyrinth because a labyrinth is a pattern on the ground, and I wasn’t sure how I could get a picture that looked like anything more than a lumpy bit of lawn with some rocks set in. I mentioned that perhaps I could climb up on a bench that sits at the edge of the lawn where the labyrinth is located, and from that height I could get a better picture.  

It is September again, and the spiders are in full bloom. We see them and their webs everywhere.

I will not say that I am not afraid of spiders. Just the other day I picked up a plastic cup in the sink and a spider came galloping around the corner headed for my fingers. I yelped and gave my hand a short sharp shake, and the cup flew clear across the kitchen.

How old was I when I first realized that one of the greatest things I could do to increase my happiness was to lower my expectations? Perhaps it was about the time that Mick Jagger was informing us in his iconic rock whine that you can’t always get what you want. Probably later than that. I’m a slow learner.

A couple of months ago I found out that I didn’t have cancer. It was a huge relief. Not two weeks later I found out that a dear friend of mine has stage 3 lung cancer.

Her name is Susan.