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Sunday, July 17

seeking grace

No, not the spiritual kind:
Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people
I have a sort of convoluted theory about all that stuff and I am sure that whether I am right or wrong will not matter a bit to the powers that be.

I am speaking of grace as defined in the dictionary thusly:
Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.

I don't have that. I have never had that. It is not related to my foray into what will soon be considered my "golden" years. Except for a decent showing on the dance floor during the 80's I have never had what could be considered charm of movement. I was reminded of this yet again when I finally got my bike out and went riding along the waterfront.

I meant to get pedaling earlier, like late April or May. But it was cold and rainy and then I got busy and I kept putting it off. I live on a bike path. I have no excuse. It was July before I finally got the bike on the street.

Russell still rides like a teenager. He puts one foot on a pedal, pushes off and throws his leg gracefully over the seat while careening down the street. His bike moves straight and true as he does this.

Meanwhile, I have both hands on the handle bars in a death grip and I am trying to decide whether I should keep trying to get my leg over the seat from behind or if I should put my foot between the seat and the bars and scoot in sideways but my shoes keep getting stuck. The bike is wobbling fearfully as I keep trying to do this while hoping no kids ride by and start laughing at the chubby old lady trying to get on her bike.

Russell, meanwhile, has circled back several times waiting for me. No pressure.

I finally get on the thing and now I have to start out. I can only start out with the right pedal. No, I don't now why and, yes, I have tried it with the left and it just doesn't work for me. It has always been so. Apparently, the way I stop and start means that the right pedal is always in the highest position so now I have to get my foot up there and balance it before I can start. No, I never think to even out the pedals before I do this. Once again, I don't know why.

Russell is circling like a land buzzard.

OK, pedal engaged, off I go, wobbling mightily until I can get up some speed and then, praise all, I am riding. As long as I don't have to stop, I am riding!

Every stop sign is a challenge, crossing the street is a project, but I carry on. I know that in a week or so I will have remembered how I do all this. But I will never look good doing it. Russell can make small, concentric circles while riding. I have to hop off the seat and do this little hopping in a circle dance with the bike between my legs. I expect a sign to pop up at Canalside any day announcing the newest comedy act appearing daily.

One would think that my clumsiness would discourage me from trying, but it doesn't. Because once I'm riding and the wind is in my hair and the sights and sounds of the neighborhood or trail are all around me, I am not clumsy. I am not getting old. I am like the wind. Well, maybe a breeze.

It feels good to make my knees work, to get out of breath a little bit on a rise, to coast downhill with my feet out sideways like a little kid.

In a few more days I know I will be able to hop on that bike like a 40 yr old. I will ride on a street alongside cars without chanting "don't hit me, don't hit me" under my breath. I will make a tight U-turn while remaining seated.

Yes, there will be snow on the ground by then and I will have to start over again in the Spring, but maybe I will achieved something else. A little bit of effortless movement.

You might call that grace. Both kinds.

Monday, July 11

Chautauqua on my mind

It was the weekend I have been looking forward to for months. I love this show for the educated, affluent customers, yes, but the Institution itself is the kind of place that prompts you to take a deep breath when you enter the grounds and it holds you with a sense of well being the whole time you are there. Last year it was at this show when my illness started to really make itself known and I was aware of and grateful for the differences this year. We had a tough set up in a downpour but it didn't faze me except for the stress on my damaged knee. It was better by the next morning and I wandered about the grounds with a spring in my step the rest of the weekend - even did a quick run home for some materials so I could spend Sunday morning finishing up more work to bring. Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am?

But it wasn't any of that, really, that made this a beautiful weekend. Sales were blah compared to other years so I guess the economy has everyone spending more cautiously. Didn't bother me. I'll explain why I didn't join the chorus of disgruntled whining going on around me as we broke our booths down.

One of the first persons to enter my booth Saturday morning was a petite, elderly Chinese woman who studied every single thing with a serious expression on her face and then turned to me as she was leaving and with s sweet smile said "so much beauty here".

A bit later, enter Judy, a one woman self esteem creator. She bought a couple of things, and proceeded to throw so many compliments at me that I wondered if there was a hidden camera somewhere, But, no, she just really related to my stuff. She came back several times over the weekend, always bought things, always went on and on about how wonderful the things were. She brought a friend in one afternoon to show her just how wonderful I was and then, to top things off, came back on Sunday to take my picture so she could include it with one of my things she had purchased as a gift.

I may adopt Judy.

One of the employees of the Institution came in and was moved by one of the quotes I use and it started a conversation which led to us realizing we had both lost our Moms recently. We talked about that and about feeling their presence and signs and she said to me that she believed there were few coincidences in life and that many things happened for a reason, even conversations and she hugged me.

Another woman studied my collage pieces for a very long time and talked to me about how she loved them and wished she could do it and so we talked abut letting yourself try things without fear, respecting your own vision.. I offered some elementary advice on how to get started (I'm pretty new at it myself) and she said she was inspired..She bought a piece and gave me a hug.

There is a trend developing here.

So many people that come to this show have art in their lives and it makes for interesting conversations about book binding techniques and types of handmade paper and how to cut mats and which philosopher actually said that quote I used on a fly leaf. I had to hold one woman's cello while she dug out her credit card, another was carrying a partially completed papier mache ogre she was constructing for a diorama.

This is not your usual craft show, this was not my usual year, this was not your usual show crowd.

I may not have made a record amount of money this weekend, but I was made richer nonetheless.

Oh, and today, the day after a show, when I would normally be exhausted and sore and housebound, I went for a bike ride with Russell down to the Harbor, sat on the newly painted Adirondack chairs along the canal. let the warm breeze wash over me while I ate a strawberry ice cream cone and celebrated nothing but the joy of a normal day and the gift of connections made and cherished.