Sunday, April 26, 2020

Talking to Myself Nineteen

Baby chicks on roosting bars in their coop.

Talking to Myself Nineteen April 26, 2020

Every day more white iris. The chickens haven’t
bothered them. Tracey gave me bulbs, which I
duly planted, but they didn’t bloom until this year.
Then the chickens ate the weeds which held them
back, and here they are. The violets returned when
I let go the reins, some mysterious, some defiant. 
This morning I think of losses. Lisa Mansfield
whose smiling face I met in the post office. I worried
about her, living so close to that coal ash dump.
Poisoned, then murdered, along with her husband
still angry about that coal ash dump so close to their
home. Angry enough to kill, but someone else killed 
him and Lisa. Then John Cross, so kindly, often 
gave me rides to meetings. Once he fixed a weak 
board on the back porch. Terica-for-Peace dies
of lung cancer. She cheered me on when I began
working against fracking. Then Johnsie. She knew 
the coal ash trains going through Southern Pines
were death trains. People talked about her love
and her smiles. No one was a stranger. No one
listened to her warnings. Was it the cancer which
killed her, or the cure? Now our twenty-first
century plague carries off thousands. What have we

come to in the land of the Pilgrims?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Talking to Myself Eighteen

Sunrise at Jordan Lake earlier this month by Doc Ellen, DVM.

Talking to Myself Eighteen April 19, 2020

Is this my eternal life, wearing a boot
to protect fragile toe bones while they
heal? Sleeping with one foot under 
the covers and one on top? Using a
borrowed walker to move from the
couch to the kitchen and to my
computer and writing chair; staring 
at the trees outside, watching the 
chickens cultivate the backyard
and where our garden was? Only 
blackberry vines now. We had the
perennials: daffodils, violets, and
now the white iris. In front, forsythia
and hydrangea, daylily leaves, and
next door the remains of our champion
black oak, finally on the ground, 
tangled in chickweed. Tim brings
in eggs laid among the bicycles
under a tarp The wilderness has
jumped the fence, but the grape
vines again run over the top
of the chicken run. They run over
the fig trees, too. It doesn’t bode
well for tomatoes and zinnias.
Emails from friends: “How
are you?” “Still healthy, broke 
some toes, but they’re healing 
slowly.” I write about my life,
remember when I kept our
baby writers’ network afloat,
when I influenced the National
Endowment panel to keep the
required number of books 
published to two, instead of 
increasing it to ten. I told them: 
“We have no household budget.”
I lived then in subsidized housing,
got food stamps. Janet comes,
and we reminisce about our losses 
and hardships and our small, but 
persistent, victories. I didn’t get 
the grant I tried for, so I said
we’d have a conference for 
women’s stories. Six hundred
women came, and I told them
their writing was important. We
called it “Tell Me a Story That’s True.”
I still believe, with Muriel Ruykheiser,
“If one woman told the whole story
of her life, the world would split
open.”I’m still working on it.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Talking to Myself Seventeen

  Judy's flock of white rock chickens outside their chicken door.

Talking to Myself Seventeen April 12, Easter 2020

We never know what will happen to us
before it does. I’ve had many surprises–
some scary, some gifts I never anticipated.
I always learned. I rarely anticipated success, 
but it found me in unexpected places. 
Last Monday night I fell, with cane, walking 
from my couch bed to the bathroom and 
hurt my right foot. I took Tylenol and went
back to sleep. In our pandemic we’re told 
to stay away from hospitals “Call your
provider.” I emailed her: what to do? My
little toes were hurting a lot.”Go to an
orthopedic clinic.” “Which one?” The answer
came back: “Ortho Now for emergencies.
Call first.” Tim doubted it would be safe.
I called.  It sounded okay. They were
careful because of the coronovirus. I
Could come right away. We went. A
friend of Tim’s had given him a walker.
We took it and I put a sock on my foot.
We were seen right away. My foot was 
examined and x-rayed, Two small bones
were broken. Then they put on a boot 
to keep it in position for healing. “Come
back in four weeks or later, if it’s healing
well.” Living with a boot and a walker
isn’t easy. I take Tylenol when it hurts
a lot. Gifts arrive: a better walker. Janet,
when Tim is gone all day and Wag needs 
to go out. I can wash dishes and make 
my lunch and our supper. I read and write.
I can send emails. I look at the greening
world outside my window, watch our
dogs and hens in the backyard, hearing 
the morning roosters. Janet nestles
Wag in her arms, talks to the hens and
our Silver Polish rooster whom she 
admires. Friends write to me, and I
answer. My days pass slowly, but

my foot is healing.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Talking to Myself Sixteen

Talking to Myself Sixteen April 5, 2020

A new kind of plague let loose
in the world. How could we forget
the numbers lost in the 1300s and
even to the 1800s in Europe and
Asia: the Bubonic and Pneumonic?
Millions died, carried by fleas from
rats, spread by ships. We thought we 
ran the world, but the world as we
knew it has disappeared. “Please
stay at home. Wash your hands.
Keep six feet away from your
friends and loved ones. Don’t travel.”
We have to go out for food and
medicine. The hospitals need masks,
ventilators, more nurses. “Please
stay home. It saves lives. Maybe
yours or someone you love. The 
elderly are most at risk.” Young
men in pickup trucks speed through
the quiet neighborhoods. “We are
staying home, but the death toll is
still rising. Blame China, blame
the president. Save the economy.
Wall Street is staggering. The
stimulus package won’t be enough.
Millions have lost their jobs. Stores
are closing. Yet this year there
were daffodils and forsythia, the
yellows of spring, and the white
iris. First one, then a second. The
violets have moved into the flower
garden. More iris lift their buds.
The hydrangea is leafing out. Day
lilies rise in time for June. We won’t
forget this--ever.