“I brought the snacks today,” says Simad, setting a small ice chest on the table. “Since my cat cooks better than me, I brought store-bought mochi’s.”
“What’s a mochi?” asks Twinkie.”
“Japanese rice cakes- stuffed with ice cream–an ice cream you can eat with your fingers.”
“Yum,” says Harvey, “biting into the soft rice pillow filled with Mango ice cream. “My first. How many can I have?’
“Oh, there are about six a piece.”
Harvey laughed. “My kind of guy.”
“Harvey,” says Ollie,” pouring herself a cup of coffee, “how was your week? I wondered how it went after last Tuesday.”
“Umpth,” Harvey grunted, dropping into a chair. “You know what that Richard Bach fella said, ‘If you wonder if your mission on earth is over, and you’re alive, it isn’t?” He placed one ankle over the other leg. “Well, Liz’s was over, and mine isn’t. I had been thinking of myself, not her. It makes me wonder, though, does a person know when it’s time, or is our life just snuffed out?”
“Depends on your view, I guess,” says Ollie. “It hurts if we think the person chose to leave us. But then it isn’t much better to think their life was snuffed out without their consent. It’s complicated since there are many ideas on the subject. I know it’s hard when someone’s physical presence is no longer with us. We miss them.”
“Yeah, I suppose I will miss her forever—well, until I see her again. You know, ever since we’re old enough to listen, we hear that death is the final hurrah. Our pets die, our Grandmas and Grandpas, parents even. When death comes, we are shocked. ‘It’s a tragedy,’ we say. ‘How did that happen? What did they die of?’ I’m glad she didn’t have to feel what I’m feeling.”
“Oh Harvey,” says Twinkie, “You took her pain. You were gallant to the end.”
“What a dear young lady you are.”
Simad pipes up: “There is a story about a famous hunchback in love with a beautiful woman. When she hesitated to marry him because of his condition, he said, ‘I took it, so you didn’t have to.’ She married him.”
“Oh wow,” said Harvey, scratching his head. “You guys are something else. You know what else I did this week?”
“What?” “Tell us.” “Go for it.”
“You know Liz’s garden has been fallow for almost two years, overgrown, a mess. I hadn’t visited it until last Saturday. I stood there looking over the brambles and began to pull weeds. Among them, I found volunteer potato plants, so I dug potatoes, a wheelbarrow full of red organic potatoes.
“If you want some, I have a box in the car. And there was an oregano plant as large as the bathtub. I left it and cleared the area around it. There is spice for my spaghetti sauce—more than I will ever use. I gave some to the neighbors. I was so into cleaning that I rented a rototiller and completely cleared the area. While at the garden shop, I bought a box of wildflower seeds, except the gardener said to plant them in the spring, as they probably wouldn’t winter over.”
“Have your get-together in the spring, Harvey, and we will all throw seeds,” said Sally. “Your kids might like that too. What a great honor to Liz.”
“Better than visiting a cemetery, I’d say,” says Shal. “a field of wildflowers. I wish it was spring.”
“I’m proud of you, Harvey,” says Ollie.
“Me too’s,” around the table.
“I’m going to hold you to it, Harvey,” says Shal, “to have that gathering. I know how easy it is to lose momentum. Inspiration wanes if we don’t act on it.”
“I’ll tell the kids this week so they can plan on it.”
“What about having it before spring?” Shal suggests. “You can invite us back when the wildflowers are in bloom.”
“I want to do it now.” Harvey pulls out his phone and checks the calendar. “How about we do it on Saturday the 30th. No, Sunday the 31st. I don’t want to interfere with Twinkie’s Glass Blowing Class. You went, didn’t you?”
“I did, all day Saturday. And I went back on Sunday, too. Oh, Harvey, I would love to come on that Sunday if it works for your family.”
“I’ll bribe them. Let’s do it. I have a right to be impulsive.”
“You let us know, says Ollie,” Now, Twinkie, tell us about your class.”
“Alan had me dipping the blow rod into the molten glass and carrying it to the table practically all day on Saturday. By the end of the day, those two pounds of glass on the end of that blowpipe felt like I was carrying an anvil, but I loved every minute. It doesn’t hurt that Alan is a hunk and the nicest teacher I could ask for.”
“Hum,” says Ollie, “I detect more than a love of glass blowing.”
“In my dreams,” says Twinkie. “Everybody falls in love with Alan.”
“The same with you, Twinkie.”
Her cheeks glow pink.
“I went back on Sunday because Alan was having a demonstration for tourists, and he invited me. At the demo, he introduced me as a trainee, and asked if I would explain the instruments to them and tell them how hot the furnace is, and people wanted to know if we went to the beach to collect sand.”
“Do you?” asks Simad.
“No, we must buy it, as it is a special blend. Expensive, too.”
“How old is that Alan fella?” asks Harvey. “Is he married?”
“No. He isn’t married. I sneakily asked about his family. No wife, no kids. He’s in his early thirties.”
“Okay then,” says Harvey.
“Thanks, Pop, for looking out for me.”
“Shal, Sally, Simad, what’s happening with you guys?” Ollie asks.
“Well, I’m glad I began meditating again, “Shal says. “I’m less stressed out over work. My wife said I stopped pacing the floor. I didn’t even notice. I did have an experience this week. You know I’m not religious. I don’t want any organized events, doctrines, or dogma. But as I sat and meditated, I entered an altered state where I felt in touch with the divine. It was a feeling, not a belief. My head was light, and I drifted for the longest while. I was in space with endless possibilities around me. I understand what people mean by being spiritual, for I believe that space is where God is. And I want an artistic endeavor to be enthusiastic about, like Twinkie has, something I can sink my teeth into. I’m tired of selling things. I want to be visited by the muse.”
“Be still and listen.”
“Come over to my shop,” said Harvey. “Look around. See if anything grabs you. I do woodworking from time to time.”
“Do you have a torch?”
“Yep, I do.”
“I’ve thought of sculpturing where you weld odds and ends together and come up with something like a college.”
“Maybe. More like free form.”
“Gather some junk and come on over. We’ll see what we can come up with.”
“I’d like that, Harvey.”
“Harvey,” says Sally, “How about you give me a batch of Liz’s wonderful red potatoes, and I will make an Italian potato salad for your gathering on the 31st. It’s great for an outdoor picnic since it has no mayonnaise, just oil, vinegar, and herbs, and it’s best served warm.”
“That would be perfect.”
“And throw in some of that oregano.”
“I’ll bring something,” says Twinkie.
“Me too says Ollie.”
Simad and Shal: “I will. I will.”
“Well, it’s settled then,” said Harvey, “I’ll provide the meat, chicken, and veggie burgers.”
“Okay, Simad,” asks Ollie, “how about you?”
“Everyone else seems happy and I’m miserable. I’m going crazy. I have a deadline, and the closer it gets, the more uptight I get. Besides, my girlfriend is tired of me complaining about my writing. I think she wants to move on.
“When I’m in a jumble like now, meditation or affirmations just irk me. I’m stuck.”
“Okay, guys, pounce on Simad.” Says Ollie. “We set this up to be a support group.”
I have joined Substack. Here is an explanation:
Conversations Under the Maple will continue to be here, so you guys will get them, but I will be adding content between the conversations that will be from me, not the group. If you would like to read them please go to Jewell D’s Substack (cut and paste the address). Below is my first in between post.
Build It, and They Will Come
If I could build a coffee shop, a hang-out place, I would. We could sit and read, talk, or get our group together, find new friends, and dare to get honest with feelings and questions on how to deal with life, the Universe, and everything. Spirituality, God, psychology, our psyche, our hearts, and our egos are all there. That’s life.
I’m glued to this page. But then maybe that’s the best way to meet you. Our local is worldwide. Our interests are diverse. It’s good you didn’t find me at the beginning of my tenure here on Substack, for I kept changing my plan. (If I’m painting a room, I change the color about three times too.) But now I believe I’ve settled down to a color.
I dipped my paint brush into water into which I had dropped blobs of oil paint—remember when we did that in school? Water and oil paint don’t mix, so the paint floats on the water. Whatever you dip into the water will come out smeared with oil paint, a kaleidoscope of color. I think in school, we dipped jars. Here, I will dip my brush and swipe it across the page.
We will talk about whatever is on our minds, not gossip, but real stuff. The subjects are endless. It’s all life. The mixture of colors.
I began Conversations Under the Maple on my blog, and when a reader mentioned Substack (that I didn’t know existed), I decided to check it out, and Viola’ here I am.
I will publish From Beneath the Maple Tree weekly as long as they allow me into the conversation. Interspersed between those posts will be my visit with you—as I am doing now. And I expect some input in return. Fair enough? Okay.
If you wonder how six people can gather under the maple tree for an entire afternoon one day a week, I think back to a six-month training. A group of twenty or so met for a full day twice a week for six months. Then, some of us went on to a second six-month training. And there were young people, lovers, couples, at least two engineers, a professor, a physicist, a doctor, writers, housewives, and a budding psychologist all mixed together. How did they get the time off? I don’t know. They were committed to their own life advancement.
Here, it will be easy: read for 10 minutes or so.
Ten minutes might change our lives.
I can’t wait.
A brief explanation of what will occur on Jewell’s Substack.
Conversations Under the Maple will continue to be here, so you guys will get them, but I will be adding content between the conversations that will be from me, not the group.
I Subscribed to my own site and every time I post I get an email right away—it’s cool, and it didn’t cost me a red cent or a blue or yellow one either, and they won’t charge you unless you specify.
Jewell D’s Substack