Dollar Snow-Cone

The August summer heat would not relent as she defiantly arched her elderly frame to rise from the cracking concrete stoop in this ignored part of the city.

I walked up the block with a crumpled dollar bill for the ice – without the syrup.  Sweat scattered from my hairline.  My face and neck burned scarlet.

The makeshift plastic table was wobbly-arranged for quick sales anticipated from the two buses of people who visited for a mere afternoon, scheduled in to clean up the neighborhood through a service agency.  All in the name of peace and solidarity.

A battered aluminum urn, dented from years of use, held ice that would shave pieces into a forbidden Styrofoam cup – a cheap fix.  A neat row of glass bottles with plastic pumps each waited with their blaring color of sugar syrup attentively for its snow-cone debut – chartreuse mint, tangerine orange, bright violet grape – nothing known to Nature.  My only wish was the frosty shavings to melt my dusty, gritty throat.

She rose from the stoop as I smiled deeply breathing in front of a torn plastic umbrella, offering some shade.  Her cocoa-colored skin clenched hard onto muscles whose strength was all but gone from years of sacrifice.  Her knotted, ebony hands buckled from years of toil…fields, factories, mills?  I couldn’t imagine.  This heat would not stop her today.  Nope.  No way.

“Just ice please.”  I handed her the dollar bill.

She pulled the black plastic lever to shave the ice into slivers of cool relief.   Gently she extended her arm giving me a cup filled with ice shavings and started to count out change – one worn quarter, one dime and three nickels.  Her hand trembled as she counted and then my eyes rested on her wedding ring encircling the on her left hand.

The simple band was of thin gold, but the worn beveled edges reflected the mysteries of a previous life filled with more joy than today brought.   The pattern of the bevel was exactly the same as the wedding ring belonging to my grandfather which I wore in the middle of my right hand.  I had asked for it and wore it every day without fail since his death.   Nonu’s hands were the worker’s hands of a turn-of-the-century Italian immigrant – massive, skilled and unfaltering.  They could crush rock, melt brass or graft five different apples on to one tree for autumn pies Noni would make each year.

I reached for her left hand with my right so she would see my ring as I touched hers.    She slowly lifted her eyes to meet mine.  Her heavy blink under sagging eyelids gave way to a weakened smile as time and space held us united in some unexpected enigma made for this day.

“No change”, I said, “and God bless.”

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A Weekend Lesson of Gratitude

nyc19_12

It was a weekend of looking back into a past I had lived with others – bittersweet, remote yet familiar. Another life passed in time in which random molecules of myself still reside. As I drive South on Sunday, this time the traffic flows freely compared with the double-time it took to return to my past on Friday. The lesson? Live Life in our present in our gratitude for all that It offers. Emerge from the shadows of our past with Life in the present and Love as Much as We Can Forever. Thank you Mary.

The Night of the Mantis

2014 sept miguel n laundry room 009

as summer ends and autumn begins, the prayer of the Night Mantis soars to heaven that it may be heard even amid the destruction.

After All

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Giving thanks

for that which we share in our lives is part of the Plan that connects us with the world surrounding us. Take a moment to acknowledge your gifts by placing them in service on the Altar of Gratitude.

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warmth

from the coziness of covers warmed overnight by body’s life to the expected cup of tea upon rising after yet another winter storm, i give gratitude for heat in the cold and whisper a prayer surrounded by morning silence for … Continue reading

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white noise

leaves time and space for silence slipping on paths still uncleared. at 12, from three directions, neighbors with plow, shovels and smiles offer grace and relief. and i, offer gratitude!

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little miracles daily

little miracles daily

when pain, stress, grief or fear overwhelm you, take time to stop everything for silence. realize that you have arrived at this time and place having already overcome other pains, stresses and fears. realize the strength that surrounds you, even … Continue reading

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not waiting for Superman.

not waiting for Superman.

As I make my bed this morning, much like I have done since childhood, I take note of the two symbols which guard my bed in my absence: two plush stuffed animals – one, steadfastly old, gifted at birth by … Continue reading

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