Thursday, December 19, 2019

Childhood Xmas


When ye were a wee lass or a wee lad, did ya wonder what Santa would bring ya on Xmas morn? When I was a wee lad, Xmas morn was long and painful. Me brothers and I would awaken early and peek into the living room, staring at the presents under the tree. Our parents, who, on any normal day, would be up hours before we would, would be nowhere in sight. They would be in their bedroom getting dressed for Xmas mass.

No presents would be opened until we came home from mass. And would they take us to an early mass, like the 6:00 AM, or 8:00 Am, or 10:00 AM? NO! They took us to mass at noon. Cruel that be.
I would pray, "Please dear Lord, Make Father Flannery say mass really fast.” The good Lord must have been hard of hearing or he was too busy enjoying the choir singing Xmas songs. I couldn't pay attention to the sermons, or the readings. I’d forget when to stand or kneel.  Me thoughts were on wondering what was in the box under our Xmas tree.
Tell me about your Xmas morns when ye were a wee lass or a wee lad.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Jeremy's Orange Sky

Many years ago our (then six-year-old) son, Jeremy, was sitting at the kitchen table with Crayons and a coloring book. I saw him grab a blue crayon and start to color the sky. I stopped him. "What color is the sky, Jeremy?" I asked. 
Annoyance scrunched his face. "It's blue," he said. 
"Are you sure?" I asked. 
Irritation pulled up his shoulders, as he returned his attention to his coloring book. I asked him to put his blue crayon down and come outside with me. The sky was similar to the one in this photo. "What color is the sky, now, Jeremy?" I asked. He made a failed attempt to suppress a smile. We went back into the house. He colored the sky orange. When I saw him grab a gray Crayon I asked him, "What are you going to use that gray Crayon for?" 
He narrowed his eyes at me. "I know that clouds aren't always gray. But that is what I want to color my clouds."
"That's fine," I said with a smile.
Orange skies remind me of Jeremy.

Donde Esta Tu Lengua?

Donde esta tu lengua?

Where is your mother tongue,
Your birthright,


Your badge of honor?
Where is the song


Of your soul,

Those heartfelt words

Your mother sang to you,

Even before you were born?

Why do you call your abuelo

Grandpa?

He barely speaks Engles.

You insult him, que no?

You toss his gift,

In his face,

That most precious gift

He has passed on

From generation to generation

Polishing it to shine

So that you, tambien,

Could say with pride,

Este lenguaje es mio,

This language is mine

Yo hablo Español.

Donde esta tu lengua?

Where did you lose it?

Did someone steal it?

Why did you believe

Your White teachers,

Who falsely told your parents

Speaking Spanish will hurt

Your children.

It will make them less.

It will identify them

As other.

Que? Other?

No hay otro

There is no other.

solo estamos nosotros

There is only us.

Why did you believe

Your neighbors who threw

The rock through your

Front room window

With a note attached

Scrawled with the words,

Wetbacks go home.

Go back to Mexico,

With other words of hate

Your mother would not,

Dared not, translate

From hatred English

To understandable Español.

Donde esta tu lengua?

Que no te acuerdas?

Don’t you remember?

Donde esta tu lengua?

Monday, October 28, 2019

No One Should See


I hope no one

Is watching me,

No one should see

Pain stained tears

Sneaking out

From my eyes.

No should see

The ICU,

The coffin,

His ashes

Floating out to sea.

I'm hidden in a closet

Of my own making.

No one should see

The reams of paper

Each page starting

With if I had only,

If I would've,

If I had not.

No one should see

The boxes of reams

I've hidden in my closet.

I hope no one

Is watching me.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Terror Hiding In the Phone


A terror hides in the phone,

Hanging on the kitchen wall,

Ringing over and over,

Until I  pick up the receiver.

A haunting voice speaks,

"Hello, this is the hospital.."

That voice kicks my head

Stands on my chest,

And bangs my head.

"Your son has been in a motorcycle accident"

Repeats over and over,

In my head, 
While I listen.

While I try to listen.

While I try to undo

What I'm listening to.

"May we have permission

To treat him?

He's had a severe head injury.

May we have permission

To treat him?"

Terror wraps its thorny tail

Around my chest.

"We'll call back

When the doctor knows More."

There's more?

What more?

What?

Terror scratches a whisper,

"They don't know

But there is more."

"Your son has been in a motorcycle accident"

Repeats over and over,

In my head.

I want to go.

Go to our son.

Go protect our son.

Go save our son.

Make sure he's cared for.

Make sure he'll be fine.

I stare at the terror

Hanging on the kitchen wall

Waiting for it to ring.

Waiting, praying, begging

For the voice,

The doctor's voice,

To squash the terror,

And say our son is fine.

A terror hides in the phone,

Hanging on the kitchen wall.

I wait, staring at the terror

Knowing it is hiding

In the phone.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Liking To Eat Onions All At Once

     When I was six years old my mother boiled cabbage. The whole house really stank. Yuck. I hated the odor and taste of cabbage. We sat at the table and gave thanks for our food. My mother put a really big leaf of cabbage on my plate. I mean really big. It covered the whole table. OK, I'm exaggerating. But that is what it seemed like to me when I was six.  The aroma was horrible. I pinched my nose so that I wouldn't have to smell it. I know that we had something else to eat besides just the cabbage. But the putrid odor of boiled cabbage is all I can remember. My mother told me that I could not leave the table until I ate all of the cabbage. I thought my mother was being real mean to me for no good reason. I ate everything else on my plate and then stared at that cabbage. I know that because all I remember is me staring at that gargantuan cabbage leaf on my plate. 
     By now I suppose you are wondering what does cabbage have to do with liking to eat onions all at once. Actually, it has nothing to do with it except it is when I first heard the onion story.
     I cut a small piece of the cabbage with my fork. I put it in my mouth and gagged. I spit it out. My mother glared at me and threatened to spank me. I reached to the middle of the table and grabbed a slice of white bread. I wrapped a tiny piece of cabbage in the bread and ate it. I must have eaten half a loaf of white bread by the time I finished eating the cabbage. My stomach was so full of bread and cabbage that I could hardly walk. 
     "That wasn't so bad, was it," my mother said. "I know you could finish it."
     I wobbled out of the kitchen. My father had long gone left the table. He was sitting on the couch, in the front room, enjoying his beer, and reading the paper while my mother did the dishes. My father called me over and asked me to sit down.
     Now I can tell you about the onions.
     "When your grandfather, Hope, (That is the name I called him) was a little boy like you," my father said, "he hated onions as much as you hate cabbage."  
     He told me that when my grandfather was about 10 years old, he forgot to close the corral gate before he went to bed. The next morning my great-grandfather was furious. One of the horses had gotten out of the corral and was nowhere to be seen. My great grandfather was so mad that he made my grandfather go look for the horse before he ate breakfast. 
     My grandfather saddled one of the other horses and went looking for the horse that had escaped. He hunted for that horse all day. He rode his horse into the mountains before he finally found the missing horse. He lassoed the horse and tied the rope around the horn of his saddle. He towed the horsed behind him.  
     It had taken him all day. He was starving. On his way back it started to get dark. He saw a little house on his way home. He tied the horses to a post and knocked on the door. He told the man who lived there that he had been looking for the horse that got out of the corral all day and that he was very hungry. He asked him if he had any food to spare. The man invited my grandfather in and told him that he had just made himself some onion soup. That was all the food he had in the house. He offered my grandfather a bowl of onion soup. 
     My grandfather was so hungry that he figured that even though it was the one food he hated the most, it would be better than starving to death. My grandfather was surprised by how good the onion soup tasted. My grandfather had liked onions ever since that day.
     My father resumed reading the newspaper and drinking his beer. I left my father and wished that we had a corral with horses. And if one got loose because I forgot to close the gate then maybe, just maybe, I might like cabbage. 
     And then the cabbage odor from the kitchen hit my nose and I changed my mind.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Orlando, Milton, and the Couch



We were living in Married Student Housing, a little more than a mile from the University of New Mexico when Denise finished making this couch. Orlando was born a few weeks later. It was so comfortable that many people fell asleep on it while visiting.
Milton was amazingly tolerant of Orlando, who used to pull Milton's hair. After we moved into our house on the West side of the Rio Grande, I heard Milton scream. I ran from the kitchen into the front room to find Milton's back legs wrapped around baby Orlando's neck and his front paws beating Orlando's head. When Milton saw me, he stopped screaming, stopped beating Orlando's head, and ran off. I fully expected to find blood all over Orlando's head. But there wasn't a scratch.
Orlando used to crawl to Milton, roll over onto his back and pound his head on Milton. I guess Milton's tolerance had been greatly exceeded when I found him "admonishing" Orlando. I miss Milton. He was my favorite cat. 


Thursday, September 05, 2019

Selling Deseret News Final

I remember selling newspapers with my cousin, Robert when we were young, still in elementary school. He'd stand in front of the Kearns building in Salt Lake City and send me off, away from him. I'd walk, with a load of papers under my arm and yell, "Paper! Deseret News Night Final! Paper 5 cents." (The following year it went to 10 cents.)

Robert had customers in the Kearns building. We would get into the elevator and ride it to the top floor. Just before it stopped, Robert and I would jump up as high as we could. The kinetic energy helped us jump up very high. And when we rode the elevator down, we jumped with as much power as our legs could muster just before it stopped. The kinetic energy prevented us from jumping much at all.

When I worked in Forth Worth, Texas, (I was much older then, 31) I talked an elevator car full of engineers into jumping up as high as they could just before the elevator stopped on the 4th floor. They thought I was crazy, but they DID! and we all came out of the elevator laughing. There were a couple of people waiting for the elevator on the 4th floor. One asked, "What's so funny?"
"It's just Mushroom," one of the engineers answered.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Getting Over The HUMP

The path of life has many humps to get over.  Some of the humps are mountainous. Getting over a hump requires a climb over and hopefully a slide down the other side. 

Man O man! A climb over a hump can be really hard to start. We have an enormous "helper" at our disposal. That helper is the PRESENT MOMENT. Redirecting our awareness to the present moment is hard when we have things to do  (which are in the future) or we are fretting over things we did or didn't do (which are in the past). 

When I have to get over the hump, and I'm having difficulty getting started, I step outside and shift my awareness to the gifts that are out there. I look at the flowers.




I remove my shoes and put my bare feet on the grass. I feel the texture of the leaves on the rose bush or the guava tree. I listen to the birds or look down at the rolly pollies in the garden. 


If it is late enough for a sunset, I watch, breathe, and give thanks for its beauty. 
This exercise pulls me into the immediate present moment. I give thanks, breath deeply and then I come back in and start the climb, whether it be to write, to pay bills, wash the dishes, whatever. 

If this doesn't work, I go for the big help. I go to the beach and ask the Spirit of the Sea to help me. She reminds me that everything comes in cycles, in sets, in its own rhythm. And then she feeds me her energy as I watch her waves roll in against the shore.
 If I am closer to a mountain, or a wilderness area, (even a small one) I go there and ask the Spirits of Nature for help. 

Stress depletes our energy. Nature restores it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

My Life Is a Procession

My life is a procession From one learning to another. Each and every arrival, Each and every there, Ceases to be a termination, Because it is an established Determination That There is no getting there. Because every arrival Is a new starting point With new tools, New lenses though which To see anew The world that we are creating. The only "there" that exists Is the ultimate there. And we really don't know where Or what "there" really is. So long as I am here And not there, l choose to learn and re-learn, I choose to move Into the practice of practice, As I continue to practice The art of learning.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Father's Day Comes With A Sharp Barb


Father’s Day comes

with a sharp barb

ThAT pricks my chest

with a thorn

That turns into a wasp

Who stabs his stinger,

That burns and stings

All the way to my heart.

Where is our son

Who died too young,

Too young for me to be

A grieving father

On Father’s Day?

I sat, this morning,

Alone in the kitchen

Drinking my latte

Tears sliding, dropping,

Plopping on the counter.

Each one whispering,

“He’s dead.”

I miss our son.

Long gone,

are His hugs,

and his voice Saying,

“Happy Father’s Day, Dad”

Saturday, June 08, 2019

First Boat


I remember when I was about 5 years old and we visited my Aunt Elsie and Uncle Gile (pronounced Ggee le) on their farm in the Bosque, in Bernalillo. An irrigation ditch ran the length of the farm. On one of our visits, my cousin, Rose and I put the remains of a red wagon (with no wheels) into a ditch. We got in and floated about ten feet before it sank. We emptied the water and floated another ten feet. Then we got yelled at for getting our clothes wet and dirty. Our mothers put Rose and me into a round metal tub and gave us a bath.

I was 8 years old the first time I was in a real boat. My father drove onto the ferry from Terminal Island to San Pedro. It was a very short ride.

When I was 11, I won a free ride to Catalina Island for selling the most Independent Press Telegram subscriptions that month. I went by myself. I met a boy. about my age, on the island. He had a dingy and invited me to take a ride. He took me to his parent's sailboat that was anchored in the harbor. Then he took me back to shore.

When I was 20, I sailed around the world in a 250-foot-long Destroyer Escort. That is when La Mare, captured my heart. I loved being out at sea. The Viet Nam war stifled my enjoyment. But when we were not fighting, La Mare filled me with awe.

When Denise and I moved to Albuquerque, I bought her a 10-foot-long aluminum Jon boat. We rowed it down the Rio Grande in a race and came in second place. We take it out and row around the Naples canals. It's not stable enough to take it out of the marina or canals. It is really just a larger version of the red wagon we put in the ditch when I was 5, except this one doesn't have holes in it that makes it sink after 10 feet.


Sunday, May 12, 2019

MOM Means Mother Of Mine

MOM means Mother Of Mine
And that is just fine
By me.
When my time
Within her belly
Came to an end
Death wrapped his
Blubbery white thighs
So very tight
That try as I might
I could not
Get out
Death laughed
At my mother’s pain,
At her fright, and fear
That she and me
Would die,
While men
Took their sweet time
Considering what could
Or should be done.
In the eleventh hour
The knife sliced through
My mom’s belly
Cutting her and me,
Setting me free
To breath and cry
I am alive!
I am alive!
My mom and me
Share a scar
That marked me
Belonging to her.

Friday, May 03, 2019

I Am Grateful For My Body

I am grateful for my body,
Just the way it is,
And is not.
We, my body and me,
Have conquered Seven
Experience filled decades
That have been gifted
With the sweet and gentle
Touches of Tenderness
From parents, siblings,
Lovers and our children.
My body brought me pain
Each time it broke, or tore
From a crash, a fall, and
The terror and guilt of war,
I am grateful for my body
That held the tiny hands
Of our baby boy,
And then held his hands again
As he lay dying.
I am grateful that my body can cry
And wail
And tell my sad story.
I am grateful that my body
Can still climb mountains,
Swim and ride a bike a 100 miles,
And hold the tiny hands of my grandson.
I am grateful for my body
That can sit quietly listening
Filled with pride
As our daughters and son
Play music.
I am grateful for my body's ability
T0 hear the heartbeat of my mate
As we continue
Loving and living
In our seventh decade.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Jump by Jeremy Montoya

Our son, Jeremy wrote this essay less than 9 months before he died.


Essay 2 January 26, 1992

I’m more scared than I have ever been in my life. Here I am standing with my toes hanging over the edge of a bridge one hundred and forty feet above the water rushing through the gorge, wondering what in the world I’m doing here.

The day had started beautifully, with the warm sunlight streaming through my window and without a cloud in the sky, which was a real treat in Whidbey Island, Washington. My friend and I decided to get ourselves into some trouble, but the little town was still asleep. We had heard from a fellow trouble maker that we could pay to go bungee jumping up in Canada, so we thought we would go up there and try it out.

It was a long ferry ride to the green forested island of Victoria, shrouded in clouds, approaching us majestically through the water. We drove for what seemed like forever, through beautiful aspen forests with moss growing on the rock cliffs shearing off overhead and sunlight streaming through the trees creating a patchwork of shadows on the highway. As we approached our destination, the shadows grew longer, and the day became darker.

We drove up a gravel road to a sign that read “You are now entering the BUNGEE ZONE,” and my friend and I exchanged an excited grin as we parked the truck. We were deep within an evergreen forest, and the air was cold. The sun was being kept prisoner by the tall branches of the trees overhead, and there was a cool wind blowing against us as we hiked up the mountainside. We came to a clearing, and in front of us looked a huge metal bridge traversing a gorge cut into the mountainside, with a large crowd of people standing at the railing by the gorge looking up at the bridge. An excited murmur went through the crowd, and I followed their gaze to the thrillseeker standing at the center of the bridge and crossing himself before jumping off with a terrified scream. The crowd roared with appreciation.

My friend pulled me towards the concession booth, where we paid our money and signed a two-page disclaimer which mentioned the word death at least once in every paragraph. With renewed confidence and my ticket in hand, I walked straight to the outhouse conveniently placed between the ticket booth and the stairs to make sure I wouldn’t embarrass myself later. This done, I approached the stairs which reached into the sky and seemed much wider than before. I sat down on a chair at the top of the bridge and talked to the guy who was strapping my legs together. He told me no one was going to push me, and I could back out anytime I wanted, and if I backed out no one would call me a sissy or a pansy or a candy-ass pantywaist woose girl or anything like that.

Now as I stand looking down at the water I feel a chill running up and down my spine. I think someone must have made a mistake – I must be at least three hundred feet above the water. I look down at the throng of people standing at the railing with their cameras in hand, and I get a round of applause and a few shouts of encouragement. The temperature seems to have dropped a few degrees, I can feel the icy hands of fear grab my guts and give a good squeeze. The instructor yells, “ONE TWO THREE… BUNGEE!!!” and I jump.

The first half second I’m in shock, and the next half second I can feel the vampire of fear sucking the marrow from my bones as I feel pure, stark terror for the first time in my now shortened life. In this instant my eyes slam shut, every muscle in my body cramps, and I stop breathing. In the next instant I open my eyes and scream with delight as I float through the air, and everything is silent except for the rush of cool wind in my ears and the birds singing and the wind blowing through the trees and then the creaking of the bungee cord as it stretched to its limit, gently and deftly pulling me away from the water, five feet below me.

After I’m lowered to a raft in the river, I climb the winding staircase up the side of the gorge and emerge triumphant, sharing a smile with the members of the staff. – I have become a member of the club.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Cloud Wisdom

I am water. 
Can you see? 
I am moist 
As I hoist 
My very essence 
High into the sky 
To change my form, 
My shape, 
And my weight 
While I wait 
Floating slow,
Shining my glow 
Of blazing white, 
Day and night. 
I tell stories 
That I find 
Buried deep 
Inside your mind, 
Not always sweet, 
Nor always kind, 
But always ready 
To be revealed. 
And maybe thus 
Your heart'll be healed 
As you stop 
Your perpetual glancing back 
And jumping forward 
Without realizing 
You and I are only, 
Ever only, 
Here now. 
Stop. 
Look up. 
I am water. 
Can you see? 
Stop and just be you 
Watching me 
Being me.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Children Arrive With an Owner's Manual

We often say, "Our children did not come with an owner's manual." Why not?
Or did they? Did we not see it before our eyes and make use of it? Our parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, and siblings with children are "the owner's manual." Do we access them for advice often enough? Are they readily available?


In days of old when multi-generational families lived in close proximity, their experiences and wisdom were easily accessible.  Now that we are such a mobile society, and so rarely live in multi-generational households we need a different way to pass down information and wisdom.


Create a notebook to record the raising of our children. Write down what our children to and our reactions. Write down how we solved problems, how we cleaned up messes. Write down advice that others give you. Be sure to write down any memories from your own childhood that our own children's actions conjure. Those memories will let your adult children know that you survived and learned from the struggle. 

When we do not record our processes of raising our children, when we don't write down what our children do that delights us and drives us crazy, we do our children and grandchildren a disservice.

The "Owner's Manual", your notebook, can be paper or digitial. When your grandchildren arrive, give a copy to the parents so that they may have the wisdom and experiences of their elders and be better informed of what is coming.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Clover



I am grateful 
For the beauty at my feet. 

When I stop 

And just be 

In the present moment, 

Beauty graces me eyes,
And I am blessed.
The clover smiles.
The grass blooms.
And I am grateful.
Sunlight shines for me
To see the beauty
All around me.
 
I only need to stop,
And just be
In the present moment.