Archive for November, 2007


Sunday, November 18th, 2007

I have been home two weeks now. It may appear that Texas never happened, as I’ve been transplanted from one day to the next, from warm sun and a high azure ceiling, to an overhang of grey and continual wet, from mist to hard hitting, pounding rain. But that’s not the problem. I’ve loved to be back in this Autumn again, and Fort Langley is home. I’m struggling with an overwhelming ennui. What next? And where is the energy to do it?

Today I looked through all my Osho books, searching for a particular section that had resonated with me. Osho continually encourages people to meditate, saying that if 1% of humanity became meditative, our world problems would end: the poverty, the strife, the wars. That our inner conflict as individuals manifests itself globally. Clean up our own acts and it would reflect accordingly. Psychologists became aware in both World Wars 1 and 2 that suicide rates dropped, murders and madness stopped. Possibly all of these potential acts were diverted into the armies. But then there is this theory, that humanity accumulates madness and neuroses, and wars are humanity gone mad as a whole, and then collectively it has to be expunged.

The reason I am thinking of meditation is because my thoughts are scattered. Right now I have freedom, and I have become very aware of the two sides to freedom. There is freedom FROM and freedom FOR. I am free of tiresome employment, a stultifying marriage. My children are well and gone. I am free of ill health or any other kind of hardship. My freedom FROM has brought me now to a place of sadness. One cannot remain in limbo for too long, hesitating and wondering where to go and what to do next. I’ve known for a while what my answer is, to go deeper into myself. I have gone wide for a long, long time. Even with the chattering of my thoughts I can hear very clearly the call of myself. And there is the dream too. My summer was spent free FROM and I revelled in it. I discovered that all I really want to do EVER, is live and write, write and live. I can’t be the only one who’s wondered why (really, why?) can’t I be paid (needs met) from somewhere (the universe?) just for being ME? So that is my FOR, but still I languish.

Perhaps there must always be that in between time to regain balance. The last two months in Texas had its own extremes. Now here I sit in the attic. But my meditation has never taken that form. The moment I step outdoors I am in my meditation. I walk whenever I am called, I am undeterred by the hour, the dark, the rain or the cold. I have always appreciated Julia Cameron’s semantics in “The Artist’s Way.” Not surprising that a walk is good for us, our soles/souls touching the earth. And I believe that writing is a meditation, to know oneself. And I believe by writing I am being true to myself. The world then has one more happier, authenticated human being.

I did find that passage in my Osho book, about disconnection. About sitting and disconnecting yourself from all your connections. Remove them one by one. Do not label yourself as someone’s wife or mother. Do not think of yourself in terms of what you do, I am a teacher, a carpenter. Disconnect. You are not married, employed, male, female, young, old, Russian. Disconnect. Disconnect. And then you are alone. You are in your aloneness. There are no more connections. It has all fallen away. And the chattering falls away. I think of how we struggle with this. It can feel like so much negation. It can feel like one is free falling. And that is the line we walk, the difference between falling and being in your aloneness.

I’m going to take one more shot at Texas, and then be done with it. I just finished Larry McMurtry’s “In A Narrow Grave – Essays on Texas,” written almost forty years ago, but I still snickered at the accuracy of his description of Midland…”Midland is a new oiltown, a community of some 70,000 nervous people located many many miles from anywhere…” “Its unpleasantness quotient is very high…” Not for naught did I spend so much time and energy scratching at its oily gold surface, looking for the soul I wondered lived underneath.

I am leaving for Ontario on Tuesday. A further reaction to the experience of Texas? An attempt to keep walking and writing, giving in to my resistance to finding employment? Or does John Le Carre’s observation make the best sense of all…Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.

Good Life

Remembrance Day

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

I loved to shuffle

in your slippers red plaid

broken down at the heels

for when your car turned

into the driveway

I’d balance backwards

down six steps, and leave them

pointed, ready, warmed for you.


The night you fell

beside the hospital bed

unnoticed to the floor

I did not feel your falling

I only heard the phone

later in the dead of night

I stood, a stone

your kitchen cenotaph

Father, you are remembered.


The first Spring you missed

in eighty years

the rain drenched me.

The sidewalks puddled in cherry blossoms

haloes round street lamps

what celebration this pink confetti



Every bus stop

every old man standing

stung my eyes.

You loved the Spring always

walking the gardens

among budding trees.



November’s leaden cold

marble monuments built to glory.

We pile our dead

history weighing the ground.

Story by story stone upon stone

we stand in silence, bowing our heads.


This now is this day

and today I sit, with memories

loose thoughts walking through my brain.

I sit, and leaves brush against windows

in their falling.

I feel the pulse of life in this house

moving in hushed reminders around me.

Today is the day old men and women weep

and remember.

This is designated sorrow time and I long

to see my father’s bony feet, and offer

for the first time, to hold them in my hands

and rub them into warmth for all they’re worth.



But we can never have the same

and try it differently, but never mind.

We’re all forgiven. We’re all forgiven.

Tonight I bring these words to you

my offerings paper monuments

before which I stand.

I say I say Stand up.

These are my monuments

I say stand up. Stand up.

What are yours?


…for you Dad.

Synchronicity…Part Two

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

When I knocked on the door of the Lonesome Dove Inn, I had three questions. The tall, slim woman who answered my knock seemed a little surprised by my unheralded arrival there in the dark, but she immediately invited me in. “Is there any room for me? Can I afford it? And do you have anything to eat?” She said she did have a vacancy and I said I would take it. But she insisted that she would show me the room first, to make sure it was what I wanted. But I was in. I followed her through the hallway to an open area where kitchen and dining room met. A feeling of warmth and peace, calm and civility embraced me. It was the hug you hadn’t realized you needed, until tears come to your eyes.

Together we went up the unusually wide carpeted staircase to the single room she had available. Along the way the ceilings were high, the lamps cozy, old wood, antiques, comfort and character, no pretentiousness here. We stopped at a doorway and she said, “This is called Hud’s Library, I think you’ll like it.” Was it then that I sensed that I had made it back to where I was supposed to be? My room (I’d already claimed it) was a smallish, narrow room with what looked like a day bed on one side and the opposite wall was all bookshelves. Hud’s Library indeed.

I recognized books that I had, or loved, ones that passed my “book person’s” rating system, and there were also quite a few of Larry McMurtry’s books, older looking hardcovers, obviously first editions. Mary said that it was just me and a group of quail hunters, that she was sorry but she only offered breakfasts, but there was a convenience store attached to the gas station just around the corner and down the street. It felt so good knowing that I knew now where I was going to sleep, so I set off for the snack bar, famished. It must have been at least eight by then, and it had been a long momentous day, a lot of driving, and very few hours sleep the night before. I was exhausted.

Sitting in the Lucky Dollar having my piece of pizza, I got my confirmation that I was back on track. Whenever I overhear a place name that seems so out of context, or a particular comment about something that has been significant to me, or hear a name that is also the name of one of my people, I pay attention. I figure it is the universe signalling me that there’s a lot more going on than I realize, and that I have to see past my own drama and let the mystery unfold. I heard the names Hayden and Ruby float up from two different tables on either side of me. See? that told me. You think you’re alone?

Mary escorted me to my library one more time, and left me with a dressing gown and a chocolate on the pillow. I was at the “Thank you thank you thank you” part of my prayer. Getting into bed and leaving only a small bedside lamp on, my companions on the shelves lining the walls watched over me. They threw a long, comforting shadow. But I had to stay awake, and could not succumb to sleep. I had homework to do before midnight. 255 days after your birthday is what is called your Golden Mean. It is your psychic birthday. In that 24 hour period in art, engineering and architecture, there is a sacred geometric proportion. A window of 24 hours every year when the universe reveals your “mission” for the year ahead. It is an “aha” moment, a day to formulate your plans for the next 12 months and make the biggest, boldest wish list you can imagine.

I did it! I let my dreams and hopes and wishes go out past the walls of this second floor bedroom, out through the yard, past the hunting dog tied to a tree, into the night of a small town in northwest Texas. Out and out and out and upwards towards the bright stars in the dark night where those secret yearnings of our hearts go.

Something woke me at 4:30, I guess it was the quail hunters stirring, I met one in the hall, and then sleep eluded me. So I began looking at the McMurtry books and habit, former publicist that I am, looked for inscriptions. Hmm. These did not seem to be merely polite. I was noticing a real friendship here. And tucked inside the books were old newspaper clippings and articles, interviews and photos from over the years. I have never been star struck or a stalker. I’ve had purpose and been in the company of many a glittering published literati in my book past, but I know what I admire and respect about people, and am not shy about holding back my raring enthusiasm. I was starting to feel like I was in the bosom of something warm and personal here, not just an inn modelling itself after a native son’s famous epic series.

Allow me here to introduce Mary Webb, the lovely proprietress of the Lonesome Dove Inn. Breakfast was ready, real food! And then real conversation! What a haven. I could ask Mary questions about Texas, about this town, her life (she’d left Archer City too, for a time, 30 years to live in Wyoming!), her friendship with Larry (oh yes), and get another thoughtful, definitive facet to this quest I’d been on, trying to figure out what the hell is this polarized, in your face, contradictory place called Texas. Mary showed me the Inn, the rooms are named after Larry’s books and characters: Comanche Moon, Desert Rose, Evening Star, Old Bolivar’s Kitchen, Anything for Billy…there are posters and memorabilia tucked about, photos of Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones from the Lonesome Dove Series, Cybill Shepherd and Jeff Bridges from The Last Picture Show… but it doesn’t look like a museum. The Lonesome Dove Inn is a home proud of its family and friendships, its connections and accomplishments.

The sun was shining, the windows were open to a breeze. I felt so inspired sitting with Mary in her kitchen, sensing a long history and a wealth of community. How I would have loved to have heard all her stories, been privy to a life grown up in small town Texas. Mary asked me if I could stay another night, and for this reason, that Larry and Diana Ossana were arriving the next day, to stay for a week at the Inn. My mouth fell open. So near and yet so far. How I would have loved to have hung about the kitchen, sat around on the bar stools talking about books, the book business, the effects of the big box stores on independents, just favourite books, growing up in small places, the writing life. I have some great anecdotes about being an author’s escort. Writers, the most fascinating, articulate, intriguing people in the world. Hey, I can tell a story or two. I have a bona fide life of grace and extreme myself. How I would have loved to have stayed. Mary has a delightful mind. She offered to disable my car. “There are no mechanics in Archer City.” But I had family commitments in Midland that would not allow it. I bowed to the timing of the universe. I had to go.

I’ve made a new friend. Hello, Mary! I had to laugh. How lucky am I, how grateful I was to have been welcomed into The Lonesome Dove Inn. Even Annie Proulx has stayed there! So I headed back south, singing at the top of my tuneless voice, along to the soundtrack of Brokeback Mountain. I am a blessed, smiled upon woman. I wanted so badly to make that pilgrimage to Archer City, to BOOKED UP, to Larry McMurtry’s Texas. And I did. It is the complete opposite in so many tangible and visibly obvious ways to my small town, Fort Langley, British Columbia. But the essence that speaks to my blood, that gets right inside of me, that I found here, it was there, too. I would go back in a hoofbeat.

Good Life

* or google Booked Up, Archer City, Texas