Thursday, September 24, 2015

Two Worlds Pen and Ink Drawing

Two Worlds, My Daughter and Me
Last night I picked up my lovely black ink pens and played for a while with an image my therapist described to me when I told her "I'm happy, but the death of my daughter permeates everything."

She said she could imagine me painting it. She said "The feeling is like black smoke, and at first, in the early weeks and months of grief the smoke is very dark, and it permeates everything--your thoughts, your emotions, your activities. Then as time passes, the smoke begins to thin, and it becomes easier to carry on."

I agree. I've experienced several levels of healing that I recognize when I think back to the beginning of Jessie's new beginning, and all the trauma involved in receiving the news, making arrangements, travel, scattering her ashes, taking care of distributing her things, and coming back to my home to learn how to wake up and make things matter again. There is healing there. So my black smoke cloud is beginning to dissipate.

Me, Mom.
In the image, I am the Mom who is left holding lots of love (the wilted hearts in her hand) that I didn't have a chance to give to Jess while she was alive. Not that we didn't have great and wonderful love between us, just that it doesn't "turn off" when someone dies. Also in this image my love is wafting out of my heart and trying to reach her, but it's also piercing my heart because the worlds are separate and I can't really see her. I have a warm blanket around my shoulders for protection.

Jess is dancing in the celestial realms.
This detail of the image shows Jess dancing and flying with her new wings in the celestial realms. She is able to see me, and she's sending out lots of love everywhere. She's healed and happy and celebrating her arrival in her new home. She's facing me, because she still loves me, and always will, but she has new freedoms now, and can go wherever she wants to. Her body is facing me to show that she will always remember me, and will come and visit in my dreams and meditations.

Detail of my face and the love wafting out of my heart.
Detail of Jessie's delight.
The veil that separates the two worlds.
On the left is the spiral of life. The darkness around me dissipates if I walk towards it. It is marked with a zig zag pattern that shows we are connected but separate. When I become not solid, like the little triangles, but synthesize into my own celestial self, I can follow the path to the tip of the triangle and cross over.

I will paint this image soon. Will post when it's done.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tree Book Short Chapter 6 - In Which I Learn I Am Not Alone Even When I'm Alone

My Mama Tree - In Which I Learn I Am Not Alone Even When I'm Alone

I was about 14 years old, yet again the new kid on the block, as we had returned from England and moved from our wonderful old yellow house with the beautiful birch tree, sycamore trees, and apple trees, to a new house that my parents had loved for years from afar. They were thrilled when the new house came up for sale, and happily set about purchasing it and moving the family to the neighborhood across town.

I was sad to leave my friends but happy to explore the beautiful park that sat across the street from the new house. I discovered a gorgeous elm tree way down at the end of the park, a tall and stately tree with rough textured, soft grey colored bark and pale green tiny leaves that shimmered in the sun.

I would go there and put one arm around it, always greeting it when I arrived, and saying thank you when I left though I didn’t consciously know why at the time. It felt like a friendly, strong supportive being that was nurturing to be with during a time when my life was full of changes. I went there many times throughout my high school years and enjoyed the constancy of it.

The feeling I got from this tree was its ability to contain, listen, absorb my emotion-- and give back a sense of serenity--it had a strength that took all I gave and gave me back room to breathe. What magic. A gift.

Years later the city redid the roads around the park and in the process made the park smaller, cutting down my beautiful tree and paving over the land where it had grown. That was sooo upsetting, but I will always have the love of that tree and the times with it in my heart. They gave me strength and peace that continues to be a part of me today.

I hope that tree now lives in the “Big Garden in the Sky” that is one of the places I plan to inhabit when I leave this world. What a joy it will be to see it again.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Tree Book Chapter 5 - Rhododendron Hammocks, In Which I Learn to Breathe and Dream

When I was about 8 years old, I was uprooted from my elementary school and all the friends I didn’t make along with the wonderful smelly-ink purple dittos we used to love to sniff (you have to be old to understand that one). We moved from our familiar American neighborhood and beloved yellow house with the perfect yard to a great old estate in Wimbledon, England. From the new backyard, whose acres contained a peach orchard, an apple orchard, and two long glass greenhouses, we could see the Wimbledon tennis courts, and hear the balls being hit back and forth along with the rise and fall of the crowd’s reaction.

I was lonely then, and spent hours by myself under the old overgrown bushes that fronted the property. I dug in the soil with a little shovel and was convinced I’d found a buried village when I chanced upon a bunch of old red roof tiles buried deep in the earth. I also uncovered lots of antique bottles--hand-blown, of various colors, which I unearthed and brought into the house for rinsing. They sparkled in the sunlight after decades of burial. I didn’t know their history, or how they got there, only knew they were treasures to me, stacked along my windowsill all clean and shiny in the sun.

On our property grew two very old, huge rhododendron bushes. They were as tall as trees and as wide as a house. Of course, as children do, my little brother and I took our adventurous explorations of the property under the embrace of those beautiful branches—discovering a world dappled in sunshine, fragrant with the years of fallen leaves making a soft underworld that cushioned our bare feet in spring. Outside the flowers blossomed and buzzed with the activity of happy, fluffy bumblebees, and inside we found an oasis of peace, a place to be for a while where nobody knew where we were.

We took sheets from our mother’s linen closets and brought them down the hill and into our sanctuary. Tied them hammock-like and laid in them swinging gently back and forth, talking of all things imaginable.

To me, being in that sundappled sanctuary meant freedom from obligations, a chance to breathe, a chance to dream, cradled in Nature as only she can do, with one of the beloved people in my life.

We spent many hours there, and a part of my soul was born and fed, swinging from the underbranches in the dappled sunshine and wafting, beautiful fragrance of Earth.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tree Book Chapter 4 - Our Gnarly Apple Trees - In Which I Learn about Duality

When we lived in the butter yellow house on Longview Avenue--the one with the best backyard ever--one of the things that made it most special was a trio of apple trees that grew in the back corner and along the side yard. They were sisters, gnarly and old as all get-out.

Their trunks were strong and thick, and their branches were as big around as our legs and they twisted all over the place. They were perfect trees to climb, which we did all the time. We hung upside down from one of the lower branches, or sat in the perfect turns and twists of the branches, swaying with the breezes in spring and summer, and huddling in the fall. Their branches were full of stubs which would either poke me as I leaned on them while sitting, or prod and scrape as my hands grabbed to pull myself higher up into the canopy.

Their fragrance in the spring was divine and sitting among the blossoms and bees as the buds slowly opened in the sunshine was a world unto itself. Soon firm round fruits would start to grow, at first hard, tiny and green, then swelling and ripening into blushing, juicy apples that we could pick and crunch on in the fall.

Playing in and among these trees is when I began to have a sense of the duality of this world, when in the fall, the trees would shed the apples that were not collected or eaten, and the ground would be covered with them. This became true Wellington territory, as some of the apples rotted and became mostly applesauce--brown and gushy, that we had to slush through as we did our father’s bidding.

He would send us out with brown paper grocery bags to fill with the fallen apples. This was in the days before they made plastic grocery bags; paper was all anyone had and it had its very own wonderful crunchy brown smell. My sister and I would pick the apples up one at a time and drop them into the bags. We didn’t have gloves, which would have made this process much more efficient, so we were careful to pick them up just between one finger and a thumb, with the other fingers of each hand stretched out to avoid the rotten spots and worms and bugs getting on us. The juice would drip over our hands and up our sweater sleeves to our elbows making us feel sticky all over.

The fragrance around these beautiful apple trees at this time of year was sweet and strong--a bit past ripe, and the soft summer breezes had turned to chilly winds snapping our hair across our faces and putting roses in our cheeks. Sometimes the apples would drip so much juice into the brown paper bags the bottoms would fall through as we dragged them across the yard over to where my Dad would prepare them for disposal. Those times we’d have to pick them up all over again and plop them into a fresh paper bag, shaking the juice off as we went and examining the worms and bugs left in the bottom of the bag once we’d gotten them all transferred over to the new bag.

Sometimes our reward from our father for a job well done was a shiny new dime per bag – we’d get about five to eight bagfulls; the trees were fruitful indeed. I liked to spend my hard-earned money on bazooka bubblegum because I loved the comics enclosed in each piece, and I could get 10 pieces for a dime. I loved to blow huge pink bubbles and chew to my heart’s content. I learned that duality has a silver pink lining, yum, and that this kind of work is GOOD.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Celebration Chart Upstages Stages of Grief Chart

Depressing but Helpful Stages of Grief Chart
In the process of coming to terms with the death of my sweet daughter earlier this year, I came upon this chart during one of the rare times I looked through online discussion groups on grief. I was pretty discouraged, encountering women who had lost children and as a result became pretty stuck in depression, even up to 25 years later - unable to love their children who were still very much alive, unable to engage in spousal relations, and just plain unable to experience pleasure and happiness. 

I understand this, but since I'm already 56, I want to avoid spending the rest of my life depressed, so I've found and created some good tools to work with in creating happiness, even though the grief is also present. Integrative thinking, which my therapist has taught me, helps us to allow ourselves to be sad, yet happy at the same time. One of my favorite quotes that illustrates this is by Kahlil Gibran, who says, "Your deepest sorrow is but a reflection of your greatest joy." What a magnificent joy I have in my daughter, and my son, and my wonderful husband, as well as other members of my family and friends.

The chart above is helpful in determining where we are in the process, but the design could use some updating, since the truth of how it plays out, as expressed vehemently in the grief group comments, is that we are usually in more than one place at a time, and we bounce back and forth between all of them, sometimes several times in a day. Our healing is not "progressive," where we one day reach a point at which our grief is "behind us." We carry it with us like a boulder every single day. But we can lighten the load by focusing on the good.

In order to do this, I decided to spend some time creating a new chart, which I call my Celebration Chart. 

Click on the image to enlarge it.
Isn't it pretty? I love how the connecting lines make a sort of geometric design. 

As I designed this chart I thought about the story of the two wolves inside us. It is a Native American story that teaches us that where we put our energy and focus, we create growth. This applies to the "bad wolf" (negative emotion) as well as the "good wolf," (positive emotion). In the story the little grandson asks his Grandpa which wolf wins, and Grandpa's reply is: "The one you feed."

So with my chart I was thinking of how we come together with others, and why. It is a reflection of our society that we've become much more isolated as a result of the Internet, global travel, husbands and wives both working, and consumerism taking center stage. There are plenty of scholarly articles out there exploring this phenomenon. We "think" we're connected, but unless there's some real social interaction, we don't get to feel real, abiding emotion behind the communications - the kind of emotion that supports and encourages us, a sense of true community. 

In my chart, I explore what gives us a sense of love, accomplishment, satisfaction, and connection. As I bounce through the original grief chart, I'm aware of what I'm experiencing, but now I spend more time focusing on applying the activities in my Celebration Chart. We can apply these to ourselves in a very personal way, or we can take notice of others that we care about and reach out to apply them to our loved ones.

My little chart is a work in progress and I'll likely update it, but for now it's feeding my good wolf (grin).

Along with my other Lovies, I celebrate my sweet daughter - the time we spent together, her accomplishments, her beauty inside and out, her emotions, all of them, her joys and her challenges. Such love.

Another step in the journey.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Peyote Rainbow Ruffle Bracelet

Learning new stuff!
I decided to teach myself how to do a peyote stitch cuff bracelet that would be lightweight with no backing. I've seen a lot of these in my research on what other beaders do, and one thing I wanted was a soft, ruffly border, which I hadn't seen. The border on this bracelet probably includes more beads (and more time) than the interior part of the bracelet itself. I was happy that it turned out just how I imagined it in my mind. All fluffy and ruffly and beautiful.

Then I wanted something to make it special, so I looked through all my cabochons and this little clay face one appealed to me immensely. I had no idea how it would work, stitching her onto this lovely bracelet without any stitching showing on the back side. I didn't know if the beads would align so that I could stitch around the cab properly. It was a big leap - and it worked! Yaybers!!
Little Clay Face with her floral headdress and garden leaves.
After I sewed the little clay face cab onto the peyote stitched background, she let me know she wanted some flowers on her headdress, so we picked some out and stitched them on. And then she wanted to be surrounded by some greenery that would suggest she lives in a beautiful garden. So I chose two lovely green agate cabochons and anchored them onto the rainbow background.

Voila! We have a little garden sprite among rainbow colors and I now know how to do a whole peyote stitched bracelet. Only takes 32 and a half hours, lots of good music, and some old movies.

There she is, little rainbow sprite with her garden leaves.
This bracelet includes a nice strong 5-loop magnetic clasp of sterling silver. It's secured with wire guards, and I've gone through each loop four times, to give it a lot of strength. It's sewn with 4 lb Fireline, so the ends have about 20 combined lbs of strength to hold it with no worries. Length is 7 inches. It's drapey and soft on your wrist, not heavy, not hot. Very cool, in fact ; )

This bracelet will be on exhibit at the Bellefonte Art Museum through the month of October, then for sale in Dreamkeeper Creations, if she doesn't find her forever home before then.

Thanks for visiting!


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Tree Book Chapter 3 Love on the Run - I Learn that Sycamores are Touchstones for Joy, Laughter, and Love

I was about 7 years old, living with my family in one of the homes where I was happiest—the butter yellow house with the wonderful backyard. This was a time between countries, between travels, when we touched down in the U.S. for a little while, and felt, for a moment, what it was like to have a real home.

My Dad rarely had time to spend with my sister and brother and me, so when he did, we treasured it. One evening Dad decided to toss grownup pursuits aside for a while and he came outside where we were playing in the warm soft breezes of early summer while Mom spent time in the kitchen cooking one of her nourishing dinners. She was a great cook with Southern roots (Virginia, with family there going back to the 17th century, let's not talk about the flag; we were tobacco farmers who supported freed slaves, a dangerous perspective in those times), so dinner was always tasty and rejuvenating, with lots and lots of butter. On everything.

We knew to leave the biggest pork chop for Dad, or the last of anything left in the serving dishes for the grownups. We knew how to set the table with the proper number of forks and knives and spoons in all the right places next to the china, water glasses and wine glasses just so, and how to clean all the dishes afterwards (no dishwasher, and if we chipped or broke anything Mom took it out of our hides).

This evening Dad decided we would play kickball so he got one of our big round plastic balls and brought it into the yard—purple and white marbled patterns decorated our ball. We huddled while he taught us the rules, making each of the bases a sycamore tree.

We kicked and ran to each sycamore—our compasses in this game filled with competition—my brother, sister, and I. I can remember the sound of my bare foot hitting that ball like it was yesterday—bop! It was a time of joy, running with our little tan summer legs pumping under our bodies in the warm sunshine, our bare feet tickled by thousands of slim, short leaves of grass, stomping across the strong roots of the sycamores which wound their way underground and overground beneath their leafy canopies. We hollered as each runner made the rounds, eyes twinkling, arms waving, mouths shaping their way around shouts of encouragement. Each strong colorful tree trunk was a solid touchstone as we ran around as fast as we could.

It was rare to be able to play with Dad. It was rare to see him happy and carefree. The sound of the ball being bopped across the yard was music to my ears, as was the revelry around this activity. 

The sycamores dropped what we called “ballies,” little round seed balls with spikes that could last through several seasons. On bare feet they weren’t all that gentle—kind of ankle twisting and sharp and nut hard, but we ran anyway, round and round, tagging the beautiful trees along the way.

Sometimes love hurts, but we do it anyway.

It was never about winning. It was all about playing. 

These were the good times that now make me able to spot a sycamore half a mile away no matter where I am, and remind me of pure joy and the love and laughter of my family while I was growing up.

* * *

Thursday, September 3, 2015

My Tree Book Chapter 2 - In Which I Learn that Sometimes when I Think I'm Doing a Good Thing I Can Be Quite Wrong

I was about 7 years old, living with my family in one of the homes where I was happiest in the U.S. The color of the house was a rich butter yellow and it had several apple trees across the side yard and a tall and stately birch tree in the far back part of the yard.

This house had the perfect yard for children to grow up in, with a swing-set and sandbox that my father made, three apple trees, the birch, and three huge sycamores out back. Many hours were passed in the sandbox, pouring, patting, burying things, and digging them out. My Dad had made this beautiful sandbox out of 2 x 4’s, painted them green, popped triangular red seats across the corners, and filled it with the softest whitest, most glorious sand.

My sister and I would adjust the swings on the swing-set so the seats were hooked about four inches from the top bar, and we’d climb up and wiggle our legs through to sit on them. Feeling on top of the world, we'd sing our lungs out for all to hear. I still remember some of those songs. We’d also perform plays with the swing-set as our stage, swathed in sheets for theatre curtains, with a row of grown-ups arranged in folding chairs across the back lawn as our audience. They had to pay a nickel each to see one of our shows.

One time I was doing a showy twirl around the sidebar of the swing-set but miscalculated and tumbled to the ground, knocking the breath right out of myself. Ugh, it felt an eternity 'til my body recovered, and I think my neck bones still wear the scars of that fall. Another time I lost the amethyst and pure gold ring that I’d been given for my birthday, which led to days and days of looking for it—but it was never to be found. I miss it still.

When my sister and brother and I played out front, I got to ride my cool red tricycle up and down the driveway, and we’d play king of the hill with the neighbor children using a nice sized boulder for the “hill” that sat in the yard next to the driveway. The king would stand imperiously on the rock and the peasants would knock him or her off, taking over the position of power. Jolly times.

My sister and I played dress-ups, prancing around in the yard all decked out in some of my mother’s beautiful old party dresses. My favorite was a red chiffon creation that flowed with the slightest wind, while my sister preferred the sequined strapless cream and pink floral gown or the glorious soft purple chiffon that poofed around her like cotton candy.

At this house, my very favorite times were spent alone under a big beautiful birch that grew at the far back of the yard, next to a wooden fence that went all the way around. It was an open fence, so I’m not real sure what it was good for, other than hanging onto when practicing my flirting skills with the boy that lived up the street in back, or singing a song, or spreading dress-up clothing upon for choosing.

The leaves of this birch tree by the back fence were small and a delicate shade of lime green, and they’d flutter in the summer breezes, singing their song to my soul as I spread out soft quilts and hauled all manner of entertainment from the house, including books, my mother’s biggest spaghetti pot, the bottle of dish soap from next to her kitchen sink, and a huge collection of Barbie dolls and their associated paraphernalia, stored in a bunch of old-fashioned hatboxes.

I‘d turn on the hose and fill up the spaghetti pot with water—the pot was almost as tall as the dolls, then squirt a ton of dish soap into it and swish it around to make bubbles. Some of the bubbles would float up into the air, reflecting the iridescence of dappled sunshine and I’d catch them on wet fingers and wave them around 'til they popped. Of course the dolls had to be dressed properly in their swimsuits; dressing them was half the fun.

I’d spend hours bouncing these dolls across the quilt over to the spaghetti pot and give them each a big jump into the water, then twirl the Barbies back and forth so their hair flung streams of water everywhere.

Sometimes they’d plunge headfirst into the spaghetti pot, coming up for air and plunging down again like dolphins, and sometimes I’d hold them way high up over the pot then let go so they plunked down with a great splash.

After I tired of dunking Barbies I’d set them out in a line on the quilt to dry in the sun and sit with my back to the thick trunk of the birch, scooching around so its gnarls didn’t bite into me while I read a storybook. I could feel its roots under me, stretching out across the grass, making humps under the soft quilt. I’d read for a while, eventually melting down into a prone position, book laid out in front of me, soft quilt under me, the pure white of the birch bark winking in the sun, tagged with dark black lines that gave it shape and character, almost as if its eyes were watching over me.

I often drifted off to sleep, entranced by the flutter of a thousand tiny green leaves against the robin’s egg blue sky, feeling the warmth of spring sunshine dappling through the delicate branches, and these were the best kinds of naps.

Sometimes when I woke I’d find ladybugs joining my little party. They made me feel lucky.

One time, in the early evening when I’d returned to the house with my dolls, I decided I needed to dry Barbie’s hair and held her head very close to the light bulb of a goose neck lamp in my room. Good thing that in those days they didn’t have smoke detectors, else I’m sure they’d have gone off and warned the whole household that I was putting us in dire jeopardy.

Barbie's hair began to smoke, the smoke curling up past the lightbulb and infiltrating the air in the room, and I soon discovered that I’d made a nice bald spot on the back of her head—note to self: don’t hold Barbie so close to the light, for she will burn and you will get in big trouble….

I thought I was doing a good thing, but young as I was, I learned for the first time how trouble can start when you least expect it and you think you’re doing a good thing…. I managed to put her smoking hair out and hide her til I could fix her. That was back in the days when we had three heads for one Barbie and we could change them out. I secretly buried the one I’d burned in the bottom of the kitchen trash can, and popped on the one with the painted on plastic hair, which was probably better for spaghetti pot swimming under my beautiful birch tree anyway, even though it didn't fling the water quite as well.

Ah, those were the days....

* * *

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My Beloved Trees - Chapter 1 Red on Banana Trees and Bad Luck, In Which I Learn How to Focus on the Good

I'm going to post some chapters from the book I'm writing called Confessions and Lessons of a Tree Hugger: Trees I’ve Loved That Have Loved Me Back. These chapters are short, and not yet polished, but rather than have them "sitting in a drawer" I think I'd like to share them. Please don't hesitate to comment and let me know where the gaps are, and where I need to fill in. What things are not clear, and what would you like to hear more of?

I'll deal with images later - plan to illustrate each chapter, and wish you could see the images in my head right now.

I'll start with the intro, and include Chapter 1 here. Happy reading : )

Confessions and Lessons of a Tree Hugger: Trees I’ve Loved That Have Loved Me Back


This book was inspired by a suggestion from my “Distress Tolerance” handout from Connie Powell, my therapist, on accepting reality as I grappled with the decision in 2013, to continue my fast-paced professional job at a university vs. the call of my heart to devote myself full-time to creating art, which has been the call of my soul as long as I can remember.

To anchor myself, the handout suggested that I “Go hug a tree. Think of how you and the tree are connected. Life is in you and in the tree and both of you are warmed by the sun, held by the air, and supported by the earth. Try and experience the tree loving you by providing something to lean on, or by shading you.” ~From Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha Linehan. Copyright 1993 The Guilford Press.

Regardless of whether I have a borderline personality disorder (don't we all?), I found that when I started thinking of the trees I’d loved I realized that they’ve had an ongoing presence throughout my life, far larger and more rewarding than I had realized, so I set out to create this tribute to share my delight. I find that the beautiful, wonderful trees in my life have provided constancy, serenity, protection, and love, among many other things.

Another thoroughly enjoyable discovery is that every single person I’ve talked with about this book as I’m creating it also has one or more very special tree stories to tell. Keep an eye out for the sequel, which will be made of their stories. Think about the wonderful trees in your life that lend you their strength and beauty – love them and allow yourself to feel the love that they return. If you're like me, you'll find that it's very real and quite substantial, especially when you're feeling a little bit alone or bewildered, and it can make the difference between despair and moving forward with good humor and strength.

If you’d like your story to be included in the sequel to this book, feel free to send your name, contact info, and story to me. I look forward to getting in touch with you to hear your story!

Red on Banana Trees and Bad Luck - In Which I Learn How to Focus on the Good

I was four years old, an American child living with her family in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and there was very little I knew, except that the boy next door could catch wild birds in his hands that let him gently pet them, that New Year’s fireworks were simply spectacular and I was allowed to watch them dressed in only my underpants, nothing else in the tropical heat, while running around at midnight on the high-off-the-ground stonewalled patio of our home.

Kuala Lumpur was a land of superstitions, and my older sister’s friend Sharon Wagner, who lived next door, told us that putting anything red on a banana tree would bring bad luck. She dared us to try it, so of course we did, on a night when our parents were out celebrating early evening New Year’s festivities. We tied an old red rag to the banana tree that lived right smack in the middle of our backyard, and that very night robbers came to our house and stole a collection of food and liquor, along with the family radio, which back then was a major form of entertainment and central to the household.

The next morning, our maid asked my mother, as she was bringing coffee to my parents in their bedroom, whether “Sahib had drinkies in the night?” She was referring to the unusually empty liquor cabinet, which was normally stocked nicely for cocktail parties. Mom said, “No, Sahib came to bed right after the party.”

It was during the time of Chinese New Year, which Mom said was the worst time for theft, since the native people believed in settling all their debts before the New Year and often in Kuala Lumpur, if they didn’t “have it to give,” they would steal it. Evidently the settling of debts had nothing to do with being virtuous while on that quest.

After they hit our house the thieves went next door (really brilliant) but the neighbors were home and called the cops. So the thieves ran, leaving all of the stuff they had stolen from our family in a pile next to the stream in our backyard.

This was the stream, by the way, where my father had an open invitation to the natives to come and fish for catfish for their dinner, and one time when they had several big fat catfish laying out by the bank of the stream my sister stepped on one. It flipped up around her ankle and she went squealing and hopping all over the yard. That was a heck of a good giggle time for me, but not so much for her. This was also the house where we would watch as our Aya put yellow sulfur powder all around the border where the bottom of the house met the yard in order to keep the pythons and other snakes from coming into the house.

On the night we got robbed, Mom said she’d just gone to the bank that day and cashed Dad’s paycheck, and there was a load of money in her purse, waiting to be deposited into their household bank account. This was back in the days when transferring money at the bank wasn’t handled electronically, imagine that….  Anyway, Mom said her purse had been tucked into some shelving in the living room and the thieves completely missed it – good thing.

The grown-ups around us shared coffee in the wee hours of the morning and talked of what had happened across the street and all over the neighborhood. The robbers had hit several homes.

After all was said and done, I didn’t believe that putting the red on our beautiful banana tree brought bad luck, because no one was hurt, we were all fine, and the bad guys didn’t get away with anything—it was all still piled in our backyard. Maybe the banana tree brought us good luck after all.