Sunday, March 13, 2011
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Friday, March 26, 2010
Going From Room To Room”
DeAnn Louise Daigle AWW 3/20/10
The store was downstairs. The front faced the road, which was never paved. Mom blamed the lack of business to that fact. It seems the town had voted on paving the other road, the one that led directly over the bridge in Soldier Pond. Across that bridge were three more stores to choose from. Our end of the village only had the one store. We still supplied several families – even those up the hill that led to a fork with Eagle Lake going south and Fort Kent going north. We were situated just east of both larger towns. That would have meant Fort Kent on the right and Eagle Lake on the left if you traveled up the hill to the fork from the store. On the way to Eagle Lake you came to the small settlement town of Wallagrass – Soldier Pond fell officially within the district of Wallagrass Plantation.
When you walked in the front of the store, you pushed in a heavy wooden door that had a glass window from the waist up if you were an adult, chin up or nose up or above your head depending on how small a child you were. Upon entry, there were nail barrels on either side for people to sit on and chat. Later Mom would add an old stuffed rocker on the left side of the entrance, and my dog Chillie would love to climb into it to nap in the sunshine that flooded in through the large windows on either side of the door.
The cats Blackie and Mitzie also liked the warm seat. Only those two cats were allowed into the store; the others stayed in the shed or roamed outside, and Dad cared for all the animals. He fed the cats in the shed and Chillie in our kitchen upstairs. He gave treats to them all in the side- store where he cut the meat.
Upon entering from the front, you were faced with aisles of canned goods on the left and bread and pastries on the right. Cereals and other boxed goods as well as baking products were on the wall shelves on the left. Against the wall on the right was a cooler for milk, cream, butter, soft drinks, and after the beer license, beer.
Mom was hoping someday we’d get a freezer for ice-cream, but we never did.
Behind the counter straight ahead and toward the rear of the store, was a whole wall of candy bars in their respective boxes, open and leaning forward displaying their contents. Right next to that display and directly behind the cash register were cigarettes packed in neat rows in a glass case and next to them were wall shelves of all kinds of medicines, elixirs and tonics for spring, cold remedies, aspirin, rubbing alcohol and the like.
Right next to the counter where the penny candies were also on display near the cash register, was a glassed-in white meat case displaying fresh meats, red hot-dogs, blood sausages known as (boudin) and cold cuts, and cheese.
A great white scale was on a counter next to that. Here were weighed all the bulk goods: bolts and nuts and nails, the meat, and cookies from the glassed-in cookie case that held the coconut cookies and pinwheels and jelly-filled and date-filled and ginger snaps too. Underneath the scale were brown paper bags of varying sizes, very small to very large.
There was a red metal peanut machine that stood on a pedestal in front of the counter with the scale. For one penny you could get a whole fistful of beer nuts. A bubble gum machine with jaw-breaking blue, red, green, yellow and orange balls filled the inside of a yellow stand with a clear thick plastic dome right next to the peanut machine. For one penny, you could try your hand at breaking your jaw. I was allowed one ball when my cousin Barbara came to visit in the summer from Biddeford, Maine.
In an anti-room on the right and just off the main part of the store, there stood the large square kerosene tank. In that same space was a wall of cubby holes filled with various sized nails and nuts and bolts, spikes and screws. On a shelf above the kerosene tank were kerosene lamps for sale. There was a pickle barrel and a salt pork barrel and two more nail barrels for sitting and chatting away the minutes. There were overalls hanging on one wall, mostly for men, but some for children too; there were work gloves and large red handkerchiefs on shelves with brimmed caps and a few brimmed straw hats for working the potato houses and fields. There were hoes and shovels leaning up against the wall and brooms and dustpans too.
The back door to the store led outside through the heavy wooden storm door and screened door where stood a long wooden bench for people to sit on and talk. The red gas pump stood by the side of the road; the Flying Horse emblem on a round white disk at the top. The car garage was out there too attached to the shed and just below the porch outside the house, which extended onto the fenced-in lawn up on a knoll and facing the water and the houses and fields across the water, including the schoolhouse now painted white, which had been red when Mom attended. Potato houses were lined up next to each other and down the embankment from the unpaved road and just above the railroad tracks, which were up a smaller embankment from the water’s edge.
Back inside was the side-store room through another doorway directly in front of you as you stepped in from the back entrance and past the kerosene tank now behind the opened storm-door. In this room, Dad cut the meat that was kept in the meat case and in the meat locker, which was located in that room. He had a butcher table and sharp knives and thick brown wrapping paper with white twine for wrapping. In that room, were kept cases of empty soda bottles and in season, fresh produce like onions and grapefruit and oranges, pears and peaches. There was a rack that held brightly colored envelopes of seeds with pictures of the product on the outside of the envelope.
There was a wide window sill as well, where you could sit in the sun and look out of the tall wide glass window. Outside the window and directly across the road was the small grey building referred to as “the office” and more potatoes houses stood in line along the tracks. You could also see the water and, in winter time, the section that was scraped and used as an ice-skating rink. The evergreen woods and hills stretched out to infinity. We played cards, Old Maid, in that window. We played jacks too and laughed and sometimes ate potato chips and drank soda.
The cellar door, a trap door in the floor, opened up; and a stairway led down into the dark earth basement where one light bulb with a pull chain hung from the ceiling and where the furnace was located and where Dad had nursed a sick cat or two or three over the years. He fed them canned milk and they came out looking picture-perfect after having survived awful cat fights in the woods. Dad fell down those same cellar stairs and broke his cheek bone when he drank too much one time. Then, he had to wear glasses permanently.
Behind the counter where the scale stood in the store proper was another door that led to the back-store, where cases of empty beer bottles and soda bottles were kept, and there was a large heavy old brown desk always over-loaded with files and papers. On the desk was a massive Underwood typewriter, which I loved to play with and on which I would write my small story books and poems. The room reeked of the smell of beer and soda, but I stared out the window that looked into the tall grass from the hillside, where we slid down in winter time and where the apple tree stood with its most fragrant spring blossoms. My apple tree, and I fought for it too, yelling at the boys who climbed it and ate the green apples, never allowing them to grow red.
The stairs – that went up to where we lived and into our kitchen on the left, and out onto the screened-in porch on the right – were just outside the back-store. A door that led to the shed was also there at the foot of the same stairs, as well as, another screen door that went outside to where the bench was and near the store’s rear entrance.
In the store proper again, Dad had an office behind the counter and to the left as you walked in through the front of the store. You couldn’t see it immediately until you walked up to the counter to pay for your purchase, but you could hear the music emanating from the sometimes staticy brown radio. The office was behind a walled-in section. It was a small office. On the wall hung a pay phone next to the large scenic wall-calendar. There was an old oak desk, a black phone and a swivel chair. This is where Dad read the morning paper from which he then made his daily tongue-in-cheek pronouncements goading the population who visited. A large filing cabinet stood against the wall. On top of the cabinet was a grey wire rack with clips that held all of the unpaid bills from the local poor people.
We were all poor – in varying degrees.
“What I Was Supposed To Do”
DeAnn Louise Daigle AWW w/Marta 3/13/10
I felt I never pleased her because I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do – and it stunned me when one of the sisters said to me at breakfast, where we were supposed to be silent in the Motherhouse refectory, “Just say what you think; just say what you believe.” Why had I been so stunned? Well, I was stunned and embarrassed because it occurred to me when she said this to me, that I’d always been afraid to say or think or believe the wrong thing, the unacceptable thing. Like wow! Here was this very bold, very intelligent, funny and never-lost-for-words sister telling me now at twenty-nine years old that in essence I should be thinking and speaking for myself, not mouthing stuff to please others, whether they were the traditionalists or the progressive-thinking bunch with whom I now found myself surrounded.
Where was I in this foray? What stand, in fact, was I taking? Obviously, I was sitting with Sister M and company; a table I chose. And these folk wanted passionately to do away with silence – along tradition-bound practice in religious life – intended to extend the sacred space we had just left – early Mass in the chapel upstairs. The new theology was about recognizing that every space was sacred space and every act by human beings – the act of speaking itself – was sacred as well. I do think we were all a bit nervous, a bit intimidated by the long-standing-centuries-old tradition for keeping silence at breakfast. But, some of us were less afraid than others and were eager to move ahead into twentieth century new theology, which actually had its roots in the past. It was more interpretation that was happening rather than totally new theology, but a view to tradition in practicing what we felt was truly intended; what the Jesuit founder meant when he said seeing God in all things and all things in God. We were, as Sisters of Mercy, very much instilled by the teachings of the Jesuit tradition, and we up-and-coming young sisters were trying to do exactly that in our own way. Some of the older sisters also understood this; others were miffed to high heaven and just viewed us as impertinent and letting the secular society dictate to us a way of living that went against what we had been taught – what we knew deep down to be right.
It was a hot time! And tempers flew hither and yon at community gatherings and meetings. Professionals were brought in to teach us how to communicate with one another. Many sisters said nothing – kept so much inside and were confused. They feared that their whole lives had no meaning if all this change was happening around them. The Latin Mass, gone; the long floor-length habits, gone; going places in a car unaccompanied, gone! Their world seemed to be falling apart. So in came the enneagram and Myer-Briggs – instruments to help us come to know and understand ourselves. It seemed an insult to many – since for decades they’d believed they were the brides of Christ and were totally given to God – and that was enough. More impertinence!
But, what stunned me was my own inability to know myself and how for guidance I looked around me and though I knew deep down what was right and true for me – I needed concrete examples of others living out what I wanted to live out for myself.
So Sister M kicked me hard that morning at the refectory table, because I’d been looking to her and to Sister A and others as examples of how to live authentically my own truth in this topsy-turvy world of change.
My mother, my dear mother, had made it hard for me to know how to please her. She so wanted the best for me, but she stifled me too. Perhaps that’s why I so looked inward. I really don’t know. Being inward was my temperament also, I think. I was different from her yet I was like her too in some ways. We both loved beauty and balance and neatness and order. But, she felt distant to me too. When I was very young I felt she really didn’t want me around. If I’d said that to her later when I was older, I think she would have been very hurt. I don’t think she realized how dismissive she was of me. Now, I think she felt guilty a lot and perhaps ashamed too that she had committed such a sin and I was a constant reminder to her.
I know now how painful her life had been – not without its moments of joy, but, she lived with a sick man, an alcoholic and no one saw his behavior as an illness; it was seen then as something evil and bad that my father was doing, and my mother could do nothing about it. They loved each other and stayed together and lived in the struggle bereft of understanding – or maybe they did understand and accept their reality. My father, who was not my biological father, was a very kind man and not one who would have intentionally hurt anyone. My mother knew this. And when I grew angry with him, she advised me not to because there was nothing he would not do for me. He loved me so much, and I knew this to be true.
Maybe love does conquer all. The old cliché is profoundly true – perhaps.
And maybe all the turmoil we were experiencing in religious life had to happen in order for all of us to accept this truth once again.
It seems the turmoil that appears in personal life and in the life of society is a kind of earthquake, that forces us to come to our senses, to come to what really matters!
Sunday, March 14, 2010
DeAnn Louise Daigle AWW 3/11/10
Sometimes there is something better out there. Clichés are sometimes accurate. The bird song outside my window this morning is spectacular, and it is outside of me, but it’s my ability to appreciate the song, inside of me, that fills me with wonder.
Everything is out there and everything is inside also. When the inside is in sync with the outside, everything is best.
Whatever I’ve noticed around me, whether the woods, birds, wind, or waves, if my interior world was not at peace I was not able to appreciate and have a sense of wonder for my surroundings, but nature is a curious thing. It grabs you by the lapels and swings you around to its own way of vast perspective. Nature has power and magic that heals the interior spirit of a person.
Being out in nature does sooth the soul; there is a connection; a recognition of the self. Human beings are part of nature, not separate. I found out last Saturday that this is a basic belief of Shintoism, the far Eastern ancient religion and philosophy.
I was at a Zendo taking a course in Ikebana, the art of Japanese flower arrangeing. It is a contemplative and quiet exercise that in the end reflects the person’s interior world.
Isn’t that what we really seek in religion? We seek to have our inner world reflected back to us. There must be something sovereign and stately and filled with grace and unsurpassable beauty in the interior that makes us passionate for having it all reflected back to us.
This morning my religion is bird song and even the helicopter fluttering overhead gives me a sense of permanence and place here in the golden city of my being.
DeAnn Louise Daigle AWW 3/9/10
Frosting on the cake on a big plate with little plates all around makes a party. Pink petals in the frosting and green leaves. It’s Lent and my birthday. The exception to the rule; today, I can have cake and soda and a bit of candy too. My birthday always falls right after Lent begins. That’s just how it is. If Mom were truly strict about it, she would not allow this one digression. She is strict and she does allow for this one digression.
Oh, happy me! Only, on all my birthday pictures from little girl days, I don’t look happy one bit. What was happening? Was it that there were just too, too many of my peers in the room, I was no longer the center of real attention? They were all conversing and joking and laughing, but I felt left out. I always felt a bit on the margins, a ways away from my cousins and friends. I felt different from the beginning, it seems.
I was happiest with warm sunny summer days daydreaming in the swing, running to the woods with my cousin Carl and building camps and playing imaginary games. I was happiest with my animals, Pepper and Mitzy and Blackie the cats, and my dog Chillie. Finding kittens in the shed all in a ball on a burlap bag made me happy; Mitzy looking content while feeding them; the smell of the dusty shed was a clean smell. It was outdoorsy though not quite. It felt natural.
I did not like the smell of the beer bottles in the back store, all stacked in cases. Returnables. The smell of the soda bottles made the smell of the beer bearable.
DeAnn Louise Daigle AWW 3/3/10
I was in the shower several years ago now, when this strange song came to me. It moved me so deeply, I began singing it and tears rolled down my cheeks as I did so, and something inside me softened, softened -- ever-so-subtly, it was almost imperceptible. I only noticed it after I stopped singing, but I did not want to stop singing. The song, it seemed, was singing me. It was in French. What did that mean? That I sang in French? It felt like a connection to my childhood and my childhood friends -- a time of wonder and questioning and mystery and fear and anxiety too.
But the French felt singular, felt unique and universal all at the same time.
It felt like some deep, deep cry had welled up and it could only be expressed in song. The melody, I found haunting and the words even more so. They were mysterious and filled with wonder.
Et les petite enfants, (3 times), ils vont chanter, ils vont chanter. Repeat
Et les petits enfants, (3 times), ils vont danser, ils vont danser, ils vont danser Repeat
Et les petits enfants, (3 times), ils vont chanter, its vont danser. End
It went on like this for about a half hour, I think, as if I'd been in some kind of trance; and something deep inside me softened, something changed.