Saturday, December 29, 2012

Life goes on

The flag at Castro and Market from Noe and Market
Long time, no post. October into November I was caught up in the presidential election. The prospect of a corporate raider for president was horrible to me. What a relief when President Obama was re-elected. 

We’ve been easing ever-deeper into retirement… productive mornings, taking it easy into the afternoons and evenings… 

Leslie and I are in San Francisco at the moment. We’re staying at David’s and Charles’ house for the Christmas holidays, as we did for Thanksgiving. We had several days together, then David and Charles left for a several days to visit Charles’ family in Tennessee. They’ll return the day after Christmas and we’ll be together again through the New Year holiday. The night before they left I read the Night Before Christmas for the 26th year in a row.

At the corner of Castro and Market
A few weeks ago I was lying on the bed in late afternoon and Leslie came in and bent over me to kiss me and like a starburst I saw her true beauty. We fell in love more than 50 years ago and I've always seen her beauty, but this was so intense and sparkling. I made a re-commitment to her then (which I told her about last night). It's a deeper understanding of "til death do us part" - I feel like I'm in a new stage of life.

Wren (named Wregan the Vegan) on feeder at our bedroom window 
So here we are riding buses and streetcars and walking all over San Francisco. Yesterday we were on Stockton Street, the Chinese part of Chinatown, checking out the markets, the people, and having lunch (duck and pork on rice, what else) at the New Moon Café, where if you go upstairs and look back just past the restroom you can see into a room with big fans and whole pigs hanging, air drying… and the menu includes sesame oil with stomach, pork skin and pork blood, and, well, you get the point. It’s a lot like being in Asia.

Ferry Building, choir
We took the F-Line down Market to the Ferry Building Saturday market – Golden Gate Bridge not far away, vendors outside and in, tons of people, beautiful vegetables, breads, cheeses, mushrooms, olive oils, chocolates, and of course, Blue Bottle coffee. There was a choir singing in the gallery above that runs above the ground floor where all the vendors and people are. Magic!

Hummingbird near Noe and Market.
Thanks for the camera David and Charles!
Yesterday on the streetcar back toward home a woman left her scarf on her seat and a guy chased her out to give it back and the driver waited. Later a young woman with long curling hair was getting off and she turned to us and said, “You two are adorable.” Then when we got off a man stopped us to give me the umbrella I’d left behind.

We were in Café Trieste, communing with the ghosts of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg and having the usual double espresso and there was a well-dressed older man, muttering and talking, and then shouting and cursing, standing right next to Leslie, threatening someone, shaking his cane, and Leslie is sitting there, cool as can be… Someone finally escorted him out. As we were leaving, we saw a woman, escorting him back in. Haha, we wondered what the people inside thought about that?  

Inside Italian streetcar (1920s) on the F-Line
Little by little the buses and streetcars are giving up their secrets to us. Into the Tenderloin and the 38 stop near Shalimar where people go to score and sometimes smoke crack (a desperate scene; it's tolerable, though, as long as you don't do something stupid like carry a purse); and the wonderful loop from Union Square through Japantown (nice mall, clean restrooms), on to Fillmore (coffee at Peet’s), Pacific Heights, through the Marina (walking around Chestnut Street), looping back up through North Beach, Chinatown, hop off at edge of Union Square and walk back to our hotel in Chinatown.    

Even with all the magic, it’s a somber Christmas. The Newtown Connecticut killings of so many children have shaken Leslie and me. What now?

Gun laws should be improved/strengthened of course. I say this as an experienced gunfighter who owns guns. I’m not a hunter though.

We should commit to being better parents, and partners and neighbors. It all starts at home, loving, supporting, teaching, and protecting. It continues into community, with engaging, supporting, and lifting up others.

We should train ourselves and our loved ones to maintain situational awareness. This isn’t being fearful or paranoid; it’s a basic life skill and is in opposition to walking around like a numbnuts.

We should make a commitment to acting effectively when action is needed. In a crisis/dangerous situation most people freeze and do nothing; a few people panic; a few people act effectively. For example, if someone starts shooting, what should you do? Go sideways of course, preferably to the left, and leave or flank the shooter and take him down.

I just finished reading Carl Jung’s autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, wherein he says evil has been loosed upon the world as a “determinant reality” and “how we can learn to live with it without terrible consequences cannot for the present be conceived.” And I’ve been reading the Book of Job, the book that asks, “Why do the righteous suffer?” Someone suggested St. Francis had a response, but not an answer to this (heretical) question. I’ll take this as a response to Newtown and as part of the answer to the question of, “What now?”

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

As anyone who knows me would know, I’ve got a way to go on this one, but nevertheless, Onward, into "the unrepeatable gift of each precious day."

When we got back to DFW Airport from Thanksgiving in SF there was a note on my car, saying “A Purple Heart (referring to the license plates), Marine (window decal), Obama supporter (bumper sticker) – I dig it! Thank you for your service and happy Thanksgiving!” Inside the note there was a gift. Nice.

Chocolate pecan pie
I’m a pie-making dynamo. Starting at Thanksgiving I’ve baked at least one… pecan pie, chocolate pecan pie, chocolate walnut pie, cherry pie, apple pie, coconut pie, beef pot pie, and chocolate torte.

There have been challenges this year (the hailstorm, mostly), but it’s been a good year for us. And I’m committed to continue to work toward real-izing St. Francis’ prayer.


Karen Mabry said...

Charles. Your message amazes me and makes me realize what true and involved is really like. I admire you, respect you and I am proud to know you. You and Leslie are inspirational and have always been so for me. Reading and seeing your "together Love" makes me see that my love for Steve needs work. Thank you, Karen In 2013 Steve and I will celebrate our 45th Anniversary and I feel like we have a long way to go and inspire to be like you both.

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