Friday, August 25, 2006

The Death Bed

We watched her breathing through the night--
Her breathing soft and low--
As in her breast the wave of life
Kept heaving to and fro.

So, silently we seemed to speak,
so slowly moved about,
As we had lent her half our powers
To eke her living out.

Our wearied hopes belied our fears,
Our fears our hopes belied;
We thought her dying when she slept,
And sleeping when she died.

For when morn came, dim and sad,
And chill with early showers,
Her quiet eyelids closed ; she had
Another morn than ours.
Thomas Hood

Eva's Death -- From Uncle Tom's Cabin

Eva, after this, declined rapidly; there was no more any doubt of the event; the fondest hope could not be blinded. Her beautiful room was avowedly a sickroom, and Miss Ophelia, day and night, performed the duties of a nurse, and never did her friends appreciate her value more than in that capacity. With so well trained a hand and eye, such perfect adroitness and practice in every art which could promote neatness and comfort and keep out of sight every disagreeable incident of sickness – with such a perfect sense of time, such a clear, untroubled head, such exact accuracy in remembering every prescription and direction of the doctors – she was everything to St. Clare. They who had shrugged their shoulders at the little peculiarities and setnesses --- so unlike the careless freedom of Southern manners – acknowledged that now she was the exact person that was wanted.
Uncle Tom was much in Eva’s room. The child suffered much from nervous restlessness, and it was a relief to her to be carried; and it was Tom’s greatest delight to carry her little frail form in his arms, resting on a pillow, now up and down her room, now out into the veranda; and when the fresh sea-breezes blew from the lake – and the child felt freshest in the morning – he would sometimes walk with her under the orange-trees in the garden, or sitting down in some of their old seat, sing to her their favorite old hymns.
Her father often did the same thing; but his frame was slighter, and when he was weary, Eva would say to him –
“Oh, papa, let Tom take me. Poor fellow! It pleases him; and you know it’s all he can do for me now, and he wants to do something!”
“So do I, Eva!” said her father.
“Well, papa, you can do everything, and are everything to me. You read to me –
you sit up nights; and Tom has only this one thing, and his singing; and I know, too, he does it easier than you can. He carries me so strong!”
Harriet Beecher Stowe -- Sister to Henry Ward Beecher, Father Lyman Beecher.

This piece touches me at so many levels. Of course with six granddaughters, I sense the pathos and imagine the grief of the parents. But the character that makes me well up is Tom.
I picture him and his limitations, but what he can do, he does with such love. "He carries me so strong." That line just strikes such a chord in me. I had an Uncle that also had many limitations, but he too, 'carried me strong'.

To A Waterfowl

This classic poem by William Cullen Bryant is well known, but each time I read it I love where he takes me. I love the nature poets. I have sat by a pond or lake many times fishing and watching the ducks fly in for a landing with their wings making that soothing whistling sound. I have watched as well, many times the ducks in the distance, a shadow in the setting suns light, so I particularly like this one and where it takes me.

To a Waterfowl

Whither, midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou purse
Thy solitary way?

Vainly the fowler’s eye
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,
As, darkly painted on the crimson sky,
Thy figure floats along.

Seek’st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
On the chafed ocean-side?

There is a power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast –
The desert and illimitable air ----
Lone wandering, but not lost.

All day thy wings have fanned,
At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere,
Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
Though the dark night is near.

And soon that toil shall end;
Soon thou find a summer home, and rest,
And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend,
Soon, o’er thy sheltered nest.

Thou’rt gone, the abyss of heaven
Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart
Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given.
And shall not soon depart:

He, who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone,
Will lead my steps aright.
William Cullen Bryant.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

What Immigrants Bring to Oregon

Ugh, you hear it all the time. “Ey, Mayor Potter, what’s the deal with that new office of Fresh-Off-the-Boat Attitudes?”
“You really think a huddle of smart-aleck immigrants are worth our money?”
I’ve seen it happen, I’ve watched him pause, before responding. “Hmm, Yes, Immigrants, Uh, why are they important to us?”

I hold up three fingers for each big reason we are indispensable. Us immigrants, to America.
Okay, once and for all, City Hall types, snip and magnet this column to your file cabinet --
Fresh off the boaters are unabashed believers in American participatory democracy. We love the stuff. Cynicism and his uncivil cousin, passivity, have not yet visited our humble homes.

Newcomers are all about community. Count us in your tribe, and we’ll rumble to the last stubborn soldier for you. Loyalty is the currency of every ricepicker’s realm.

Immigrants are above all, a practical folk. Wasting time, squandering face, and most importantly, misspending money, are antithetical to these very bones.

Let me give you some cultural differences, we went by a pet store and here is what we call our D list. D is not for dope, or for dumb, D is for dog.

At the dog store, we saw doggie videos. VHS format is $10.50; DVD for $15.50.
You sit Skippy in front of your Sanyo. These movies are for him. Shot from a “Doggie Cam point of view. Whew!!!
This is decidedly unFOB (Fresh off the Boat).
Dogs do not figure big into democracy. People do. People watch movies.

On the doggie store’s shelves there are clothes. Dog clothes. Shoes, shirts, sweaters, windbreakers, rain slickers. They sell Doggie-Ts that say; Pet this; Rich Bitch; Bad Hair Day and perhaps the most vexing for FOB folks; “Favorite Grandchild” in both hot pink and baby blue. Life jackets run from $49. to $70.
For Dogs.

Definitely not FOB. Of course, we are communal; certainly I am loyal as a dog. But dogs belong outside. They wait below Aunties kitchen window for leftovers.
They’ve never—not in any grand elder’s memory – worn coats or galoshes. Dogs are pretty good at ducking rain. Indeed, it’s a dog’s job to protect us, not the other way around. As a matter of fact, when things get really bad…we eat them.
Lab adobo. Yum!

In front of the doggie store, there are strollers. Dog strollers. You put Muffy in there. You push her around town. There’s screen windows all around so she can see. “Mesh provides full protection from bugs.” The best model has shock absorbers in back and bright reflectors up front. For safety. They go for $127. to $229. That’s US dollars. That’s totally unFOB.

FOB is as follows; Money is really hard to get. Really hard to save. Really important for schooling our kids, for keeping healthy our grandparents, for living cozy in a house ma’s dreamt of; for dressing good at church or temple or mosque, for arriving there in a really cool Acura. White is best.
Money is necessary for back home; money can’t be made back there like you can here. Our money will make right all the bad brought upon us by awful winds and ugly oceans and angry volcanoes and murderous quakes. And our stupid sultans. Our careless leaders.
Ayoh, Portlanders. Oregon does not have too many immigrants – indeed, we have not enough. Newcomers come practical, clear headed. Like common sense, you can’t have too much.

This article taken from The Asian Reporter.