John Oliver in Raleigh

What a find this show was!! John Oliver right here in Raleigh. Thank the heavens for the Independent Weekly’s list of fun stuff to do. It was my charge to find the weekend fun for myself and some friends, and I scored BIG. Mark and Kathy, Sasha and Mike, and Jay and I all had a delightfully splendid evening of rip -roaring comedy at NCSU’s Stewart Theatre. The event was put on by Charlie Goodnight’s.

I guess it’s obvious why he has his gig at The Daily Show. He creates a web of politics and comedy from which even he can’t escape. Now that he’s been living in the States and paying taxes, he gets the whole Boston Tea Party idea. Why couldn’t he vote for Obama?! Hysterical when he tells it. And when he explains how Australia is the only country with 100 percent voter participation, he had himself rolling on the floor. Watch out for those drunk conservatives! I hope he survived Nashville.

Homeless vet please help

I can’t remember the song or the line, and maybe it was more than one, but I remembered today that at the Bruce Springstein concert my sister Cherry and I recently went to in Greensboro, that I told myself, I would no longer look away from the panhandlers standing at intersections looking for help from passing drivers. This has always been a difficult topic for me. I remember reading an article once that suggested instead of looking away with shame for not knowing what to say, look the person in their eyes and acknowledge their humanity, acknowledge that they are. A friend also told me once that she would always give a dollar when approached by someone looking for help. She said giving away one dollar wouldn’t kill her. I’ve remembered that.

Today at the intersection of Highway 70/401 and Tryon Road, there was a man with a sign hat read, “HOMELESS VET PLEASE HELP.” My normal hesitation was there, and then I relaxed and reached to my purse hoping I did in fact have some dollars. I had two dollars. Like my friend Janet, I thought one or two dollars two or three times a month shouldn’t keep me from being able to pay my bills. If that were the case, it might not be long before I was sharing this gentleman’s corner. Rolling my window down, I leaned out and smiled. He walked over, and we exchanged the same pleasantries I would exchange with anyone.

“How are you ma’am?” he asked.

“I’m fine, how are you?” I answered.

“Good. I went to church on Saturday and Sunday,” he noted.

I said, “Good for you. I didn’t go either day.”

“That’s okay,” he offered. “God forgives you.”

“Thank you,” I smiled gratefully.

Good friends

Finally. I joined my first book club. Actually, it’s the first book club for all of us in the group. What an appropriate read we chose for our first venture — The Knitting Circle. Ann Hood writes about a group of almost exclusively women who weave their lives back together with the support of each other and their shared stories.

We all agreed on the book, I think, before any of realized the story revolved around grief and loss. I eagerly bought my copy and rushed home to read the foreward with concern. I still face and have only now been able to recognize and fully comprehend my own grief over the loss of my Reason. I wasn’t sure I could read about the subject.

To my surprise, I cried only once. The sentence stopped my breathe. Mary was talking to Beth about how the lives of her husband and her children would go on after she was gone. I closed the book and bawled. Yet, I was able to pick it up the next day and continue reading. The last time I read for several hours and finished it.

Each chapter introduced a different character’s sorrow to the main character Mary who had suffered the loss of her five-year-old daughter to a deadly form of strep. Mary had no idea if or how she could survive without Stella. Keeping her hands busy with knitting, Mary allowed the woman of The Knitting Circle to reach into her heart and hold her hand. Exposing and accepting the depth of her misery in the company of others’ was the only way Mary could return to herself, to her new self who understand the importance of forgiveness.

Five of us met at our wonderful friend Nina’s home. Bertha, Nancy, Sonja and myself. Our friend Wendy was out sick. Just like The Knitting Circle, our group of women understand and discussed the unfortunate side of life. We all lose people we love. We all lose parts of life, that we wish we could keep forever. Nothing is permanent…the hardest lesson for me to learn yet.

It was our first book club meeting, but the second time the group of us has gathered at Nina’s. You could see each of us reaching out just enough to one another, but still hesitant to expose too much of ourselves. Sharing reactions to literature and art join us…the humanities. I am grateful for this opporunity to explore books, myself, each other, and the friendship of women.

Good walks

I’m so grateful to the folks at Gourmutts and Wag for telling me about the Easy Walk dog harness. My walks are back. Reason and I enjoyed daily walks for years and years. Once Jules and Luna came into my life, at 60 pounds and 40 pounds, it was impossible for me to walk them together. I did fine taking each one separately, but really wanted to be able to go with both of them. Now, I can. Free, free…it’s wonderful…like I’m alive again. Really, that’s how excited I feel about being able to walk and hike again.

My walks are when my mind breathes. My thoughts don’t really clear, but they slow down. I can focus on one thought at a time. It is this sense of peace that coraling two dogs from different directions didn’t allow.

Clearing the clutter from life figuratively and literally makes room in my mind as well. The leaning piles of paper and towering stacks of things that need sorted and addressed are like the thoughts and worries that lurke just waiting for that moment when you already feel overwhelmed to lurch out at you demanding to be heard.

I’ve read just enough about Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project to be thinking of my own happiness quotient and agenda…if you can have a happiness agenda. One of my first objectives for me agenda is to see the happiness in the small moments, the treasures tucked inside a glimpse. Returning to the office after lunch, I saw a fella walking his two dogs. Only, the little beagle in front was walking himself, with the end of his leash held gently in his mouth. He was taking good care to hold the leash snuggly, and he paused to be sure his person and canine comrade were properly following his lead. He was delighted. And delightful.

The wheels on the bus go round and round

Hello blog. You can’t really say it’s a blank page, the empty spot for the blog post. All the visual guidance and boundaries imposed by the HTML code, I suppose, telling us how and where. It is almost like facing your own mind though. Sculptors say they free what’s inside the block. I suppose anyone who takes pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) attempts to free what’s inside our minds. The immediacy of the internet evens provides a sense of instant connection. You can imagine someone somewhere already reading what you are only about to type. How do you connect without revealing? Or is it all already revealed and acknowledging so allows the connection?

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

Lines I don’t often hear referenced from Robert Frost’s famous poem, but the ones that struck me recently as I heard them at a senior awards ceremony. All we can do is move forward. There isn’t even choice involved. These moments move into new moments and where do the old moments go?