Friday, November 27, 2009

Getting Things Right

Dad had died and I had his violin; I decided to take
lessons. One of the bank tellers where I worked
mentioned her aunt was a music teacher. She gave
private piano and violin lessons. Her name was
Margaret Bailey and she lived on Bailey Road just
off the Back Caribou Road where the stretch was
hilly farmland, quiet and crispy cold in the winter
time and sweet and sunny in spring and summer. I
would drive from our place on Main Street in
Presque Isle and take the old road that was curved
and hilly and come to the bottom of a long incline,
which was the crossroad where Bailey cut through
Caribou, turn left and drive about another quarter
mile to the old farm house -- big and white.

Margaret lived there with her sister Maud. I was in
my twenties then, Margaret must have been
pushing sixty, and Maud Thaw was widowed and
surely pushing eighty. She was stooped over with
a dowager's hump and had been a school teacher
for many decades. She was always smiling. Maud
moved much slower than Margaret, who was a spit
fire, full of loud laughter and burning energy. She
had married her music, her flowers and her dog
Fenriese, who barked ferociously every time I
drove into the yard.

Week after week for three years, I went for my
lesson. Margaret and I exchanged muffin recipes,
and Maud would calm Fenriese by petting him and
having him lie down beside her at her feet on the
kitchen floor, while we sat at the table sampling
muffins before the lesson.

Margaret was enthusiastic and positive about my
progress on the violin and never once berated me
for my lack of practicing, but encouraged me time
and again , feeding me new music pieces, enticing
me with "Danny Boy" and "Liebestraume" and
"My Wild Irish Rose." She played piano and I
played my pieces on violin. She would say, "Next
week, we'll play a duet. I'll play violin with you."

We managed to have fun even though I remained
recalcitrant as a musician.


Nothing to be done except the saying Yes to
the definitions -- those handed to me and
those I make up for myself.

These defining patterns are the perimeters,
the map, the borders, the box, the area I
navigate, function, live. Some of it is
chosen, some not.

But this is home -- conscious and

These trees are my trees. These streets are
my streets. These people are my people.

The studio apartment in which I bathe and
cook and write and sleep; this man I love --
whom I have chosen and who chose me;
and the something bigger who chose us

In School

The school of life! Perhaps, it's all about
learning the principle of the thing -- the
issue -- the cause.

Term limits, for instance. Sometimes it's
important to vote on principle.

If we want a democracy, and the people
who voted voted against term limits, but
the incumbent still overturned the term
limits so that he could run again in the
election, and he was rich enough to
convince many influential folk to encourage
their constituency to vote for him on the
basis of the good he was able to accomplish
-- and perhaps he is the better candidate, but
the way in which he went about running
again defeats all that I value, then I vote on

But, I learned that in the school of life and
hanging out with social justice minded
people who were against war because
human beings get killed in wars.


She wore a navy blue dress that flared. There was
a wide red belt around her waist, which emphasized
the flare in the dress and her feminine figure, which at
that time was more trim then in later years. She wore
red high-heeled shoes and carried a red leather handbag
that matched the shoes. She wore a navy blue hat with a
brief net veil that came down just below her eyes and nose
and her gloves were navy blue.

Mom was careful about every detail of her appearance
and mine and Dad’s too. She straightened his tie; he
liked that. He cared about his appearance too.

I wore a yellow princess style coat with a yellow hat that
also had a brief veil coming down in front of my face. I wore
white see thorough nylon gloves and black patent leather
shoes and white socks. The coat had a row of yellow buttons
with just a touch of pink in them and there was pink in the
coat’s collar. I held a small black patent leather purse.

Dad wore a light beige suit and brown shoes. His tie was
wide against his starched white shirt. There was beige and
brown in the tie and a small gold tie clasp kept it in place
and centered on his shirt when his jacket was buttoned or
unbuttoned. We were pleased with the way we looked.

Mom wore her favorite perfume, “My Sin” by Lanvin. It was
a small gold bottle about the size of her lipstick container. The
the bottle top was black. And the image drawn into the gold
bottle was of two very tiny figures – one on its knees and the
other stooped over it in a kind of seated round position – as if
the scene were of a penitent and confessor. The robe of the
confessor engulfed the smaller penitent figure as if a pardoning
were taking place.

Mom wore bright red lipstick, and her hair was dark brown.
Dad had grey salt and pepper hair, very shiny in the sun.

My hair, blond originally, was turning into light brown. It was
shiny and shoulder length in a pageboy with bangs.

We were off to church on a Sunday morning in Soldier Pond.