Friday, June 29, 2007

I saw my dad last night...

He and Mom were going into a movie theatre.
I said to my oldest brother See, I told you Dad
was here! Look...there he is. When Dad noticed
that I noticed him, he started to go away. At first,
it was like a parent tiptoeing out of a room so as not
to wake the little someone they just took a peek
at, then it was like he was shielding himself with his
hands so we couldn't see him (almost like a child plays
hide and seek--they think if they can't see you, then
you can't see them). Then his back started to slump
and he became smaller and smaller and then he
just gradually disappeared.

My brother shouted Why are you doing this?

And I woke up.


It continues to be a struggle to go to my mother's.
I feel bad for her, for her sufffering, for her loneliness,
for the great missing of my father. But I can't pretend
that all those bad years didn't happen.

There are people who have it and had it far worse than
I did. I recognize that. I also recognize that my mom did
the best she could do considering her circumstances,
but I'm not altogether sure some days if she did the best
she could. So, I try to let the past be the past, but I can't
ignore the fact that things happened. Things that hurt. Hurt
that hasn't gone away. Diminshed, yes. Never gone.


So, my sister was trying to call Mom the other day and couldn't
get through, so she asked me if I'd go by Mom's and check
on things. She thought perhaps the phone was not working
properly (which was the case). I already had Molly in the car
and we were on the way to the track to take our walk. I didn't
plan on staying there for long, but as it turns out, I was there
45 minutes to an hour, which is a long time with my mom.

Molly enjoyed herself in the yard and house, so that was good.

I noticed Mom had a new Tiki umbrella attached
to one of the tables out back. I told her I liked and she

I do too, but what's the point in having it? There's no one
to sit outside beneath it and talk to. No one. And I said:

Well, Steve's coming this weekend. Maybe he'll sit out
here awhile. Or, you could always bring out a book
and sit out here and read.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

April Escape

Birds strut around the peonies.
No cat to scare them off.
He's taking his nap atop my car

again--a coveted and favorite spot.
The cardinal alights near Two-Socks
fairy and pecks at the softened

earth. Watchful. Hopeful.

The coreopsis decided this week
to flower in all its grandeur;
rhododendron offers the best
of herself, the pieces of her beauty

unmarred by the unexpected cold
spell. I am only privy to such things
because I am here, thrust into the every

day without choice. Hewn from the labors
of my work-a-day world by the powers
that governed me. Fired, terminated, axed.

Why not watch and love the watching,
no matter what the reason?

Such an ordinary thing, clematis blossoms
opening on the vine. Extraordinary,
perhaps, the ability to rise

above a passing glance and notice
their persistence. In this year
that was, in this year that will never
be again, I watch April unfold,

the normal never so abnormally right.


One of the poems I wrote this spring and didn't get back to.
It's just not there yet. Like so many I write these days.
Not that I ever felt any of my poems were "finished"--
it just used to seem easier somehow to get words out
on the page...words that resembled the makings of a decent


Finally mowed the yard today. It was beginning to look
like the house where nobody lived (as Lucinda says in one
of her songs). I had to go fill the gas containers
and I just haven't felt like doing it, but I did today.


Never even took my plants to the screened-in porch
this summer. They generally love it out there
and thrive. Just didn't feel like doing it.


Tonight's meal: plain old spaghetti. I've been cooking
things like wine and tarragon talapia, florentine
meatballs, spinach, mushroom and artichoke
soup with tortellini and crusty french bread,
cajun-spiced salmon, etc. etc. Plain old
spaghetti sounds like a winner to me for tonight.
With a bottle of nice red wine--a cab, I think.


Medusa. I once thought I saw her looking in my bedroom
window when I was a child. Something jz said on his
blog made me think about her and that night. I was
certain she had looked in my window. It still
creeps me out to watch Clash of the Titans. My son
thinks I am a total wacko to get creeped out by
COTT, but hey, what can I say? The movie and its
cast of creepozoid mythological creatures scared
the hell outta me when I was a kid!


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Laurel tagged me for a meme, though I confess
to not knowing exactly what that word means.

I am supposed to reveal eight things about myself.

Hell, I reveal much about me here on a regular
basis, but I found it hard to come up with eight
things. I will find it equally as hard to realize
another eight I didn't think about listing.



Reveal eight things about yourself

It used to be that my life was an open book,
as the old saying goes. Now, I find it’s best to listen to others
and leave me out of the equation as much as possible.

I wanted to be a dancer/choreographer. A choreographer friend
of my mom’s taught my sister, two friends and me a dance routine
for the school talent show when I was in the 7th grade. We chose
the Jet Song from West Side Story, and I fell in love with dance
and orchestrating dance movements to music.

Some nights (many lately), I go to bed without washing my face
or brushing my teeth or even taking my clothes off. It’s like I am
always ready to jump outta the bed and run if need be.

I had the chance to meet the man once (Dylan, of course), but as
the crowd surged forward and pushed me into the front of the stage,
I got so panicky I made my way over to the wall. The girl I had
been with through the whole concert who told me she had been with Dylan
in the 70s in Louisville after a show told me to stay with her
and I'd meet him. She said she had "been with him" kind of been with him--
(or so she said). She assured me if I stayed with her, I would meet
The Man. I watched from the wall as Dylan pointed out three women
(including the woman I was with through the whole show until my panicky
episode) and his stage crew took the women by the hand and took them backstage.

I like to dance alone in my dining room or kitchen. I play The Doors, Zeppelin,
Sinatra, Dylan, Hole, L7, Coltrane, Miles Davis, Lucinda Williams and others
and I just dance without reservation.

I was loving on my puppy, Molly, and damn if she didn’t tongue kiss me!

I hate the heat. I’ll take winter any old day. I can put on layers to be warmer
but not much I can do to be cooler.

I live a life largely filled with fear. I work on overcoming the fears, but they
work on overcoming me.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Rather low key day

today. Son (youngest) called at 5:45this a.m. Had spent
the night with a friend and was feeling bad.
He still feels bad--throat and headache.

I worry about these kids. I guess my worries
are a bit trivial in light of many other worries
parents have, but I asked if he had taken a drink
of someone's drink (thinking mono). My daughter
contracted mono at age 19 or 20 and the Epstein
Barr virus stayed in her system and she has been
fighting CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) since
that time. She is much improved. She credits
much of that to a gluten-free diet.

She is 26 today. I sent her a card and said
I didn't remember much about being 26,
but I do, as I found out as I was writing her
a note in the card.

The summer before I turned 26, we went to L.A.
for the first time. Griffith Observatory, Hollywood
Wax Museum, Hollywood Bowl (the L.A. philharmonic
was doing a salute to Wagner--the Olympics were
taking place), Graumann's Chinese Theatre, Knott's
Berry Farm, Disney, etc. etc.

We went to Lancaster to visit my grandmother.
I knew if I was ever going to see her again, I would
have to go, and I wanted to, but my panic disorder
was so bad and my fear of flying so extreme that I didn't
know how I was going to do it, but, hello Amtrak!

We took the train from St. Louis to L.A. Long trip
but one filled with many exciting (and terrifying
moments--like when the power went out
and we were in the middle of a mountain tunnel
between CO and NM). But, but--I made it,
and I was so happy to see my grandmother.


All of this makes me think of the trip my daughter
and I just took to Naples in late May. She wanted
to take a boat to the Keys, or just drive there.

I hate!!! bridges, so I couldn't bear the thought
of driving over all that water, and I don't like
to be out on boats, so that was out. Of course,
there was a daily flight there as well, but with
my fear of flying, that was not an option.

So,we got home, and I thought, and I still think--
Why do I have to live my life in this fear?
Why is everything I do so defined by these tangible


And I wish I was well and whole and could seize every
opportunity for fun and new and being alive.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cat Power - Living Proof

I like Cat Power's m usic a great deal. My daughter is the one jumping over the hurdle.

I need a new bra.

When I was young, my mother and her friends
were burning their bras--that was their rite
of passage. They were in their twenties, breasts
still firm and nipples erect, even after birthing
numerous children. I have birthed my own
and mothered more, and I say it's time
for a new bra, one with underwire that stays
in the seams, one with useful straps, one I can
toss in the dryer and still wear the next day.
Utiliatarian--that's me. Sexy, once. Pretty, maybe.

I gotta go. The new bra story must wait.
House full. Doggie needs walk. Should eat.
Will eat. Sister's a songwriter. Baby great-nephew
will be one year old this Sat. Friend of mine lost her daughter
to cancer (doesn't really feel right to put that in here
but I am thinking about the family).

Bras and the need of such and the burning--
well, the burning never ends.
I think

it went something like this:

I don't feel like I'm runnin' my life, Doo.
I feel like my life's a runnin' me.

Something like that. Coal Miner's Daughter.


I completely and utterly and regretfully feel the same way.


Am applying for a position at the community college.
Called a friend from the writer's group I used to attend.
She has her MFA and works (I thought) in the program in which
I intend to apply. Turns out she's applying for the same
position. Yikes! Made for an interesting conversation.


Watched Bobby last night and Last King of Scotland
last weekend at Dawn's. Bobby was a better film.
Not enough info about Idi Amin in LKOS, and there
was just enough about Bobby to make it an interesting
take on things. Couldn't help but think about myself
in 1968--almost 10--not worldly by any means
nor politically savvy, but I had a father in Nam,
so I was quite keenly aware of what was happening.


Goodnight room.
Goodnight moon.

Friday, June 15, 2007

What I know

I know today was hot, but hotter
days have covered my body
like a shroud in billowy accolades.

I know death is true and life
uncertain. A coral bell succumbed;
a petunia endured. And the yucca,

ever indifferent, stems done
with it all, still found room
to cascade her lovely dying

white across a range of green.
I know I have not heard
your voice in some time, its

rise and fall, its unmistakable
cadence not capable of reaching
an audience now. I know I miss

you, most acutely today, with summer
flinging herself full-fledged and bold,
daring the bravest to come out and play.

On days, such as this, when I hide
behind windows with no blinds
and beneath a comfortless comforter—

I know you are gone.
Was just on the porch thinking about

As I have so often since his death.

Sent his mom and brother a card today
and was just sitting on the porch wondering
why I didn't think to get his dad a card.


At the funeral home, his dad embraced me
and said something like You're just an ole
hippie, aren't you? And he was smiling
with a trace of tears streaking his face.
And I smiled and hugged him hard and said, Yeah.
yeah, I am.

He reminded me about the time he saw me (us--the family--
we were all there) at a Hootie and the Blowfish
concert in Springfield, IL. He was there with Jake,
and his Jake's brother. It had to have taken place
between 1990 and 1995, but I don't remember
the year. I have a picture my ex-brother-in-law
took somewhere in this house, but I don't know
where it is. My ex Bro-in-law was working for the paper
there and took a cool pic. Apparently, we even
passed his car on the interstate on the drive there
(Lauren reminded me of that and Mark concurred).
How very heavy his heart must be.

I will find a card and send it to his dad.


I have always, for as long as I can think, felt alone,
but I don't know that I have ever known what solitude
is like.

Reading Hirshfield, I understand, I think, the important
role of solitude in our lives.


So, some more Hirshfield to close this entry:

But originality also asks presence--the willingness
to inhabit ourselves amid the uncertain transports
and sufferings that are our fate. To feel, and to question
feeling; to know, and to agree to wander utterly lost
in the dark, where every journey of the soul starts

Thursday, June 14, 2007


In this kind of mood today:

I told you
from the start
just how this would end
when I get
what I want
I never want it again

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

On the road again..

at least, that is the plan. I think I'll leave tomorrow.

My daughter-in-law's baby shower is Sunday, so I think
I'll go early and spend time with my friend in Lexington.

We never get much time together, even if I stay in town 2 nights.
The days and nights are filled with talk about
literature and science and family and sickness and loss
and friendship. Rarely do we get in bed before the sun comes up.

She is a research toxicologist at UK. I confess to not understanding
half of what she shares about her research, but it is so interesting
to listen to and to think about. She got her BFA from NYU in the 80s,
and acted for some time and wrote and all of that stuff. She still
loves theatre and art and we spend time as well singing songs
we both love and know so well. She was a madrigal singer in high
school and has the most beautiful voice. So, I am looking forward
to the visit. I am just looking forward to being with my friend,
who loves me for who I am.

So, hopefully I'll find a job soon, and so, it is good
to take the time now to make a prolonged and invited
visit with the person who knows me best.


I just want to share these thoughts from Jane Hirshfield:

Poetry leads us into the self, but also away from it. Transparency is
part of what we seek in art, and in art's mind of concentration that is
both capacious and focused. Free to turn inward and outward, free to
remain still and wondering amid the mysteries of mind and world, we
arrive, for a moment, at a kind of fullness that overspills into every-
thing. One breath taken completely; one poem, fully written, fully
read--in such a moment, anything can happen. The pressed oil of
words can blaze up into music, into image, into the heart and mind's
knowledge. The lit and the shadowed places within us can be warmed.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Yesterday, late in the afternoon

I brought a magnolia blossom
into the house and floated it in a bowl,
a beautiful multi-colored bowl,
one of the bowls my daughter gave me
for Christmas.

I didn't cook last night.
I couldn't. So, I placed the bowl on the cooktop.

One of Wes's friends touched it and asked
what it was, and Wes said, Don't touch that flower!

He remembered the times I've brought them in
and told him they would brown and wilt away
almost immmediately at the touch of someone's fingers.

I don't know that that is true, but it has been my experience
with magnolia blossoms that they don't care much
for human touch. But, his friend touched it, and still it lives.

Tonight, it is lovely still, and oh so fragrant. I would
say I want every room filled with bowls of magnolia
blossoms, but truth be told I'd be sleeping outside
to just be able to breathe. But such a fragrance--oh my.

Outside of gardenia, I can't think of many fragrances
I love as well. Honeysuckle--oh yes. But things have changed
in me in my middle years. I can't enjoy the fragrances,
the aromas, the flavors of the things I've always loved
without some consequence (swollen eyes, runny nose,
cough, nausea). That frustrates me.


I was thinking earlier about my flower and herb gardens.
About how when the day comes that I can no longer live
here or choose to no longer live here, how someone else
will move into this house. How I hope they will love
the gardens. How I hope they will love the love that made
this home.

There are many times I've wondered how I ended up here.
In this place, in this town, in this home.


In 1999, when my friend, my very, very dear friend
who loved me so, died.

I asked her, about 3 weeks
before her death, why she went to so much trouble
to plant perennials around the small rental house
she and her husband had moved into. And she said:
I didn't plant these just for me, and if I never see
them bloom, someone will.

I was thinking what a waste of her time and money
to plant things somewhere she didn't plan to stay.
I was thinking she would move on and ....

and live.

But she knew otherwise.


So, someone, at some point in time, could choose
to tear my whole house down and put up a parking
lot (nod to Joni), or choose to tear out some of the gardens
and put in a pool or add an extra room, or someone could
decide they just don't want to maintain all these flowers
and herbs.

I can't understand why I even think about any of that.

I am not bored. Nor am I without other thoughts,

How to become gainfully employed, how to deal
with the loss of my father, how to be near my mother,
how to deal with the loss of my daughter's friend,
how to accept my youngest growing up, how to think
about becoming a grandmother, how to think
about getting older, how to think about my addictions
and my pain, how to think about letting go, how to consider
holding on, how to get off my ass and move, move, move,
how to let myself sit on my ass and not think move, move, move.

How to be a better friend, a better mother, a better sister,
a better person.

How to find strength in the small things that happen
every day.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Finding What We Lose

For whatever we lose, like a you or a me
it's always ourselves we find in the sea
e.e. cummings

When our toes searched together
for the speckled shell, we dared open our eyes

to the secrets of saltwater. You, the niece
who looks like me, popped up red-eyed

and laughing. It's a crab, you said. My hair,
strangling my face like seaweed, framed

a sputtering grin. I watched you wade
back to the shore and then turned my face

to the open ocean. Why so little laughter
and so much grief? My words were inaudible,

churning there in the changing tide. A sudden
shift in the waters knocked me beneath. Surfacing

and confused, I thought to myself: What is lost
is not what matters. This water, this ocean, this sun

streaming across my aging body--this is the found.
Alive and angry, wet and sunburned, far from home

and weary--this is found. To live in the elements,
to relinquish fear and laugh in the face of death,

to wade slowly back to the shore, body brined
and mind opened, this is to let go of what is lost

and start again. And if the starting again is years
unfolding, then let them unfold like a sheet flailing

in the open wind, a winter baring her gnarly teeth,
an early summer reprieve offering her simple gifts.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Walking again, though without much oomph or uumph or whatever it is. Without much enthusiasm!

Molly and I go every day to the track. She only makes
it about 3/4 of a mile, then she lies down in the shade
and waits for me to finish. She can still be a major
pain in the ass, but she's also a good puppy (well,
she's a busy puppy and she sometimes lets you
pet her without trying to play bite, so that's good).

She got stung by a bee yesterday and one side
of her face swelled up. I was upset and not sure what to do
so I called the vet. He said to give her 50 mg of benadryl
That seemed to do the trick. The mommy side of me
sure did come out when I saw her swollen face.

She's a 50 pound 5 month old, and she likes to chew
things (like my furniture) and jump on people
and all sorts of other obnoxious things (one of her
favorite things to do is to go get a big drink
of water and come drool all over my legs and arms--


Reading Wise Blood. Also reading a Hirshfield book--
Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry, I think is the name.

It contains essays about poetry. Interesting thus far.


Mowed the yard today. Now need to do some more
weeding. Worked in the yard all day yesterday.
Planted my annuals. My perennials are doing great.


Went to see Pirates of the Caribbean Thursday--disappointed.
Saw Mr. Brooks yesterday with a friend. Not my kind of film
but it was ok. She likes crimes stories and gruesome stuff--
like Silence of the Lambs. Not for me. But, it was an ok
film that didn't creep me out too much. It seemed like a major
stretch to think there would be a serial killer with the status
and character this guy had, but then I have to think about the
charmers like Ted Bundy. I'd just rather not think about
that stuff.


My mind is so full of thoughts I want to come here and write
or go to my journal and write, but I just can't bring myself
to do it. I need to do it. I need some catharsis. I need
to unload some of this baggage I am carrying around.
Maybe I'll get to it soon.

Friday, June 01, 2007

If I Had Some Blue, I'd Patch the Sky

He said this at three, his mother
a widow two years. It was raining
and she was trying to clean walls

for company. He had gotten underfoot
too many times that day and mother
had given him a few lickins, but the tears

he cried were the tears of an old soul,
a three year old who knew his mother
hurt. Years later, he took the motor

apart in the first car she bought him,
splayed the parts on the driveway
and sidewalks of the rock house

that had rocked him to sleep all of his young
life. When the motor didn't fire, his mother,
who knew nothing about motors but much

about frustration and the way it clouds
your being, said, These things appear
to be upside down. He shook his head

in disbelief, in gratitude. He acknowledged
her insight, shook his own head in disbelief.
She tells me this story tonight, she who is nearing

ninety, a story I've not heard in the thirty-
one years of marriage to this boy who became
the man who became the husband who became

the father to my three children. And I understand
more about the intricacies of love, about how we stray
and still come back, about the way our one small part

of living becomes this bigger part of giving. And yet,
still I stray, never faithful to one thought long enough
to own it, never free to belong comfortably to any one

person's history. Belonging means losing. Losing
means loving. Loving, at times, means relinquishing
all one holds sacred, like all the lies you tell yourself

and all the truths that are hard to accept because some
are good, too good to believe. The bad ones really don't
touch you as much. You took them in long ago, an errant

friend. They become so much a part of you that the pores
of your skin recognize them, the tips of your fingers crave
their belonging, the breaths you take deep in the night,

when the house is quiet and you cannot sleep, are the breaths
of one who has known loss and not forgotten. And this simple
story becomes the grace of goodness that gets you through

another long night, when blue is nothing more than dream.