Sunday, July 31, 2022

Background on Tattoo Artist

Ruby, Elisa, and Dee during the 2022 date-tattoo-motorcycle visit!

When first we met, in January 2012, Ruby had just turned eleven, and I could see, during her visit here with her mom, Elisa, that the young lady already had a mind of her own. She didn’t hem-and-haw when I asked her about the recipe she concocted for our Saturday night dinner. Nor did she hesitate when I asked what she’d like to do next. I thought she was, in some ways, shy, but she was also extremely capable of speaking up for herself.


During that visit, I learned about what she was like at six. It was then that she showed herself to be a true entrepreneur. One day that Spring, her mom offered to pay her ten pennies for every dandelion she dug up by its roots. 


Ruby hurried outside with fork, knife, and the trowel her mom provided. 


Elisa returned to her writing and didn’t notice, as time passed, that Ruby returned to the kitchen several times for more dinner forks and knives.


 An hour later, when Elisa had finished here blog posting and gone to the sink for a glass of water, Ruby bounded into the kitchen again. 


“Mom,” she asked, “do we have any more forks. Or trowels? That would be good! Any trowels?”


 “Why do you need them? You took a trowel and a fork, too, when you went outside.”


“I’ve got more workers than forks,” Ruby replied. 


“Workers? What are you talking about?”


Ruby’s face, at six, gave nothing away.


Elisa marched with her first-born daughter to the front door.


What greeted her was the sight of a number of children—most Ruby’s age or younger, but a few, older—assiduously digging up dandelions in the front yard. Because a gentle rain had soaked the grass the night before, all the youngsters wore muddy feet or shoes.  Mud smeared their hands. Their shorts. Their tops. Their lips. Clearly, a few had, in their industry, licked the lumps of mud that clung to their cheeks.


“Hi, kids,” Elisa called. Most of them looked up and “highed” her back. Several, however, unwilling to be distracted, simply continued digging, mudding themselves.


Looking down at her six-year-old, Elsa asked, “Ruby, why exactly are all the neighborhood kids digging in our yard?”


With a gap-toothed grin, Ruby said, “I hired them, Mom. I’m the boss. They’re the workers.”


“And do they get those ten pennies I promised you could earn for each dandelion root?” 


“No. No way. They get five. I get the rest.”


“So how much do you think you’ve earned?”


“Lots,” Ruby said, looking up with her gapped-tooth grin. 


“They did all the work though,” Elisa said. “You’ve got to admit that.”


“But I bossed them.”


 “Well,” Elisa said, never being a complete fan of capitalism, “I think you earned three pennies for furnishing the equipment and for being bossy. The kids each get the seven left.”


“No, Mom!”




And so it was that Elisa and Ruby called a halt to the project, gave each child his or her earnings, and accompanied them each home to explain to the parents. 


This was the beginning of Ruby’s entrepreneurship. In my grab-bag of stories, I have more I could share with you about Ruby, but the one you need for my next posting is this: How She Came to Be a Tattoo Artist. 


Next posting, I’ll “expound” on that. I know you all want to see my tattoo, but as those of you who’ve followed my blog for years know, I have a need to always provide background. Only by doing that do I provide justice to a person, a happening, an emotion.


So, two weeks from now will be another story on Ruby at twenty—sixteen years after today’s story—and then, two weeks later, the unveiling of my tattoo and the experience of having Ruby create it for me.





What Elisa’s latest scans at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City revealed about her Stage #4 melanoma of the bone has, as Elisa says, been “awesome.” Many others are using the word “miracle.” Her oncologists say that they’ve kept from her not only the dire seriousness of her cancer but also their doubt that she’d live even two years beyond November 2019 when it was discovered.  


Here’s what has caused the elation: All the tumors are gone from her brain, her lungs, her upper back, her hips, her pelvis, her ankles. She still has tumors at the base of her neck and on her lower—lumbar—spine. But . . . a big BUT . . . these are smaller than they have been. 


So, thank you all for your prayers. Positive thoughts. Healing visualizations. Continuing concern. May peace and joy descend upon you and bring into your life the overwhelming contentment that comes when we know that the Holy Oneness of All Creation, of which we are all a part, has enfolded all of us, once again, in an experience that reveals our Oneness. 




Sunday, July 17, 2022

Part 1 of the Tattoo I Now Wear

During a recent visit with friends in Idaho, I got a tattoo. In today’s posting, I’ll share with you the background of that tattoo, which I’m now wearing on my right forearm. It is and will be until I die, a reminder of a Presence that got me through an emotionally difficult time during my childhood—a time of despair, desperation, and loss of the idyllic security of my first five years of life.


In August 1941, my carefree childhood ended. My parents and young brother disappeared from my life; I didn’t know where they’d gone nor if they’d ever be back. 


My grandmother, angry at her son’s precipitous escape from her dominance, used me as his scapegoat. Every Saturday, during my weekly visit, she’d pummel me with the same harsh words: “You’re naughty, Dodo! That’s why your folks left you behind. They’re having fun without you. But your little brother got to go. They’ve deserted you.” 


I learned not to cry. Or ask why. Or whimper. I knew what would come next. Each visit she’d wallop me with the same litany of abuse.


“They don’t love you. They’re never coming back. You’re an orphan now. And I’m certainly not going to let you live here. Not with me. You’re just a bother.” 


 During those months of kindergarten, I ceased to be happy, carefree, spontaneous. I became, instead, somber, downcast, silent. For the next three years, I remained so. When, at the end of my kindergarten year, my parents returned, my 180° personality change distressed them. Daily they queried me: “What’s wrong, Dodo?” “What’s happened?” “Where’s your smile disappeared to?” “Where’d my little girl go to?”


But Grandma had done her work. Fearful, I said nothing. I could trust no one. 


No one except Arthur, who was known only by me.


I met Arthur in September 1941 as I walked the path through a corner city lot of wildflowers and weeds. Emerging from the plumed grasses, he padded toward me. I felt no fear of this approaching lion with his brown ruff and swaying tail. What I did feel was a sure knowledge that I could sink into the loving depths of his eyes and be happy, moment by moment, breath by breath.

During the next few days, I realized that only I could see and hear Arthur. On our way to school that first day, he’d purred that he’d be with me always, loving me no matter what I did or said or didn’t do or say. “You are my Beloved,” he said. 


I did not know what that word meant, but I trusted whatever he said. His words were not razor-sharp as Grandma’s were. The tawny quilt of his being wrapped me in an all-embracing peace. He became my shield against the “slings and arrows” in my grandmother’s quiver.


Arthur got me through the hard days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

Twenty-seven years later, in September 1968, while visiting Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, I found a ceramic figurine of Arthur. While browsing in the college’s gift shop, I looked down and there on a table was the figurine. I recognized him immediately. 


For fifty-three years, from that day until last year, his figurine was always near: on my bedstand in Ohio and New Hampshire, on my office desk in Minnesota and here in Missouri. Always, I was just a glance away from the security that Arthur so graciously and gleefully had given me on that September day in 1941.

Moreover, for all those years, whenever some persistent emotion overwhelmed me—fear, happiness, panic, gratitude, anxiety, joy, exhaustion, glee, jealousy—I would pick Arthur up and hold him. His rump pressed into my left palm; his snout into my right. Then, seeking the depth of abiding peace, I’d let emotion flow down my arms and into Arthur. And he, a seemingly boundless vessel, would take what I was feeling and leave within me the breath of Oneness.             


Last April, I visited Elisa—my adopted granddaughter—in Idaho and spent five days with her in Salt Lake City while she did radiation for her Stage 4 melanoma of the bone. I’d carried Arthur’s figurine from Missouri to Utah, knowing that he’d always watched over, comforted, consoled, encouraged, and delighted in me.

It was time, I realized, to give his presence, represented by that figurine, to Elisa. I trusted that just as he'd protected and watched over me, so his presence would enfold her and what she was going through.


She knew his story and was touched by the gift. However, when I returned home and looked to the left of this computer, to where he’d once stood, I missed him. Greatly.

His eyes; his ruff; his sturdiness; his steadfastness; his humor.


And so, in my next posting—hopefully two weeks from now—I’ll share with you the tattoo that now blesses my life. I’ll describe the tattoo experience and the delightful tattoo artist who gave me the gift of Arthur in a new and quite wonderful way. 



PS: This has been, I know, much longer than my normal posting of 600 words. However, Arthur and his steadfast presence in my life deserves no less from me. I hope you will return in two weeks to discover the story of the tattoo that is now emblazoned on the very skin I wear.

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Foiled by Google

 Hello All of You Who Leave Comments on my Blog Postings: 

I find myself unable to "sign in with Google." My niece has 

tried--for almost three hours--to figure this out . . . to no avail.

So I suppose that from now on, I won't be able to respond. I do 

hope you know that I welcome your comments and would like 

to respond to each individually as I seem always to have 

something to say!

However, I'm just going to thank you now for the comments 

you've left on my most recent posting (July 4th). And for any 

comments you'll leave in the future. I value your thoughts and 

responses always.

Peace amidst the confusion all around us . . . 

Monday, July 4, 2022

A Lesson in Dating While Vacationing

Recently, I visited my “Idaho family.” For two weeks, I spent time with Elisa’s four offspring, who now range in age from twelve to twenty, and with Elisa and Mike. 

In addition to family time, I had three unexpected experiences: I got a tattoo. I went on a motorcycle ride. And I had a “date.” Or at least that’s what Elisa told me I had. Today, I’ll share my confusion.


First, the background: I’ve become friends with one of Elisa’s elderly Idaho friends—a philosophical man. (Let’s call him Palmer.) 


When Elisa was in the hospital in November 2020, she asked me to call Palmer and introduce myself. She wanted me to keep him apprised of what was happening with the cancer. He doesn’t have a smart/cell phone nor a computer, so the line-land phone is his way of communicating


That’s how Palmer and I met. Since then, we’ve spoken on the phone every couple of weeks about how Elisa is progressing as well as about books, political happenings, and quotations that have struck us as incisive.  


In April 2021, while visiting Elisa, I finally met him in person.


On this most recent visit, Palmer came to Elisa’s home for a boardgame afternoon with the family. The next day, he called and suggested we have lunch together that coming Thursday. He drove us to a nearby restaurant—and yes, he’d checked beforehand to see if they had any vegetarian entrees on their menu. I enjoyed the food, our conversation, and his candy-apple red sports car.

When we got back to Elisa’s, he opened the car door for me, which I thought was quite nice. Then, as we stood together, he said, “Dee, you’re good with words. What would you call what we just did?”

Puzzled, I thought, “I’d call it ‘getting out of the car.’”


Before I voiced that thought, he said, “I’d call it a date.”


Floored, I found only one response—the one I say to anyone who takes me to a doctor’s appointment or away from home: “Well, it’s time for my nap.” 


He walked me to the front door where Elisa stood—like a vigilant mother. She’d been wanting to drive that Mustang ever since they’d first become friends. So, when he offered to let her do so, she jumped at the chance. The two of them zoomed down the street to the highway. I zoomed to bed.


When they returned, Elisa came inside, and Palmer drove off.


She told me then all the complimentary things he’d said about me. 


“I think he’s a fine person, too. Fair and just. A good friend,” I replied.


Then, I told her about his using the word date. 


“Well, Dee, of course that’s what it was!” she exclaimed, clearly surprised at my confusion.


“No, it was two friends having lunch together.”


“Look . . . he called and asked you out; he took you to a restaurant; he paid for the meal; he drove you home; he came around the car and opened your door and helped you out. That’s a date.”


“It’s two friends having lunch together. That’s all.” 


“Dee, Dee, Dee,” she murmured, looking at me as if I were a butterfly who’d just emerged—innocent of experience—from the chrysalis. 


“I know,” she said, gently pushing me down on a kitchen chair, “that you never dated much either before or after the convent. And I know your last date was maybe fifty years ago [she was right about that]. But what you just did was a date. That’s what a date is!”


So that’s what a date is. Hummmm. You learn something new every day. 




PS: In a future posting, I hope to explain the how and why of the tattoo and the motorcycle ride. I have photographs of both.