Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Neil Young Old Man

Love lost, such a cost/give me things that won't get lost/like a coin that won't get tossed/rolling home to you

I've been first and last
Look at how the time goes past.
But I'm all alone at last.
Rolling home to you.

Regarding Cardinals

If a cardinal shows up as your totem, keep these things in mind:

They remind us that regardless of the time
of day or year, we always have opportunity to renew our own
vitality and recognize the importance of our own life roles.

They tell us that that we should be listening to the inner
voice (the feminine) more closely for our own health
and well-being. Since most female birds usually are
quiet and camouflaged,
a cardinal totem almost always
reflects a need to assert the feminine aspects of creativity
and intuition more strongly.

Cardinals can reflect a need to be more careful about your diet,
that what you are eating may be injurious to yourself
and affecting your overall vitality.

They represent a need to reflect upon the rhythm of twelve
that is going to become more prominent within your own life.

They often reflect lessons associated with responsibility
and the recognition of the importance of the task at hand.

If the cardinal is your totem, it may reflect past-life connections
with the church, or even a reviving of more traditional religious
beliefs, regardless of denomination.

When they appear as a totem, they do so to remind us to become
like them. Add color to your life, and remember that everything
you do is of importance.


From Animal-Speak: The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures
Great and Small
Ted Andrews

********************************************

Work to do today. Separate and transplant hostas, finish cleaning up my herb garden, plant a bleeding heart I bought a few days ago (it's so lovely!), clean the kitchen, dining room, living room, and hallway--as in deep clean (yuck--I like a clean house--I just don't like to clean!), take a walk, go to the grocery (after I decide what I want to cook tonight), do another load of laundry, and more things I am sure I am leaving out.

I'll have baby Isaac this weekend while his mommy and daddy take a trip to Nashville for a couples weekend thingee. He's never been away from them all night, but hopefully, he'll do okay. He's the reason I need to get all of the floors swept and mopped--I don't want my little sweetness crawling around in all that Molly, Oreo, & Dante fur and all the dust and tracked-in stuff that I don't think about too awful much on a daily basis because I can't see it. If I was crawling around all the time, by golly, I would know what a mess it is.


Right now, it's time for a cup of coffee. My head hurts (yes, still--not as bad as when it started but it's never left me--gets old!).

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Harry Belafonte - Jump In The Line.

Time to dance...oh, yes!

It can't be the end


So, I finished reading East of Eden. I read
it voraciously for days (not that long of a book
but I am a slow reader), and when it got down
to the last 50 pages or so, I became a slow
reader on purpose. I didn't want it to end.


I feel something close to empty. Silly, I think,
but some books move me that way. I know when
I have finished my reading, I will mourn not having
more to read or not finding some other something
to read that moves me the way the book I am reading
moves me.

My mother has always read and read and read.
Not just fiction, but a great deal of non-fiction,
editorials, essays, poems.

I could not like her very much for many years and
for various reasons, but I can see now why she kept
her nose in a book and why she feels the need
to pass books on to others.

My eyes roll beneath their lids, wanting to be angry.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb (1980)

Along the same vein, vain, vane, pain, pane, pain...and it's all going to be okay...

Eels - Novocaine for the soul

This song popped into my head today,and no, I don't have a tooth ache...

Unearthing the Goods

I've abandoned the crosswords, or at least
I try to believe I have. Newspapers are strewn
across the dining room table, beneath the bedside
table, next to the couch. I'll do them this week,
I think, knowing full well the idea of strengthening
my mental capabilities has about run its course,
like a tired old bank mule who's seen her share
of the dank and dark places she'd prefer not
to go again. If only her master would set her free
and let her fart openly in the grassy field
next to the raped and vanished earth! You have
to keep your wits about you, though, as she must
have, all those years of taking men in and out,
up and down, her flanks blackened for life,
her nostrils flared but incapable of bringing
fresh air into her lungs, the pink lost so long
ago. Gotta keep your wits. Haul up another
load to make some man rich--not the man whose
hands pat your face on occasion and give you fresh
oats to eat--not him. But he will do, his sooty
face peering into the darkness of your mule
eyes, peering into the wonder that is your old
body. Each day there is a slipping back into birth--
when you first came out of your mother, wet
and whole, fresh and destined, her milk
enough to sustain. The weaning was not nearly
so bad as the acceptance, the leaning into black
easier than imagined. I can't say why a bank
mule comes to mind as I consider tossing
the papers into the recycle bin. She feels to me
a kindred spirit, this most hearty and delicate
form of a woman, this one who let herself be led
into the forsaken places only a man could take her.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cardinals





Evening Comes Calling

The small, silent bells of Lily
of the Valley dip down close
to the earth, next to the fairy
that sits atop the grave of my
beloved Two-Socks, the fairy's
hands tightly wrapped around
a soup-bowl sized bird feeder,
the birds no longer afraid
of the former enemy who lies
beneath the ground, her favorite
blanket and toy gone to dust by
now. From one branch to the next,
two cardinals burble and practice
their seasonal dance, interrupted
by the forgotten one who still lives,
and though his old bones and muscles
strain to carry the excess of his years,
the birds stop their dance.
The barrel-chested male flies away,
the female alone now, fluffing out
the muted colors of her life, ruminating
over her next move and the cost
involved: search the newly-dug
earth for food or dash down
to the recently mowed yard for nest
material, her partner gone a few blocks
over by now, most likely calculating
his odds too as he looks for someone
else to peck on the shoulder, an awkward
young man whose date had no more
time for the intricacies of courtship,
hoping for one more chance to polish
his moves before the sun, that testy
manager, his fatigue showing in shades
of deep crimson and plum, decided
to turn out the lights and call it a day.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Leonard Cohen - Bird on a wire

Mock Orange and Purple Irises




Another restless night...

Always a poor sleeper but the last
three nights have about done me in.

Only have one client today in the afternoon,
so just going to rest this morning.

Cooked three-bean chili with ground turkey
and hot Italian sausage...was quite good...

pound of ground turkey
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage (I can never
find bulk, so I just remove it from the casings
and add to the turkey)
oilve oil
1 can red kidney beans
1 can cannellini beans
1 can black beans
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (can leave
some seeds if you want it hotter)
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 small can Rotel (Rotel is just a brand name--
it's diced tomatoes and green chilis)
1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with garlic
1 beer (I use a dark beer--I think it gives it more flavor)
3/4 to 2 cups of beef stock
1/2-1 cup chicken stock
1-2 tsps cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tsp smoky paprika
dash of cayene
dash or two of worcestershire sauce
fresh cilantro, chopped
4-5 scallions, chopped
Monterey Jack cheese
Sour cream
Crusty bread

Ok, so it was hot here yesterday, but I like soups
and stews any time of the year! Add olive oil
to a large soup pot or Dutch oven (my preference)
over medium to medium-high heat. When evenly
heated, add ground turkey. Start breaking it up
but let it also stick to the pan a bit--makes it all
taste better. Add sausage and continue cooking
until turkey and sausage are cooked through.
Push the mixture back to the sides of the pan
and drop the chopped onion, garlic, and peppers
into the center. Cook until the onions start
to get translucent. Combine mixture and stir
well. Add the beer and cook down to about
1/3 of the bottle. Add tomatoes and beans.
Stir well. Add seasonings. Stir well. Add stock
and stir well. Taste test after 15 minutes or so.
Add more seasoning if necessary. Cook for 30 minutes
to an hour. Serve with crusty bread, chopped scallions,
cilantro, sour cream and grated cheese. Yum. No
complaints at my house.

Tonight is Mahi Mahi night. Going to marinate it
in tamari, ginger, lemon juice, garlic, a little sesame
oil and serve it with sesame asparagus and rice.

Should be good.

************************************

I'm doing a decent job at this being busy thing. To look
at me, you would think all's right in my world.

Some moments of each day, it even feels all right.

Like when I'm mowing, or working in the yard
or cooking, or stopping the mower because
a friend stopped by for an hour just to talk,
or when I'm reading or thinking about my kids
or my grandson. Those are good moments.

Much of the day is as it's been for too long now,
though, but I'm not going to air my dirty laundry
here. I am just going to keep trying to know what it is
to be better. Maybe someday I will.

And the flowers on the table are lovely. And someone
did get home (late) and noticed them. And I think it
was right to bring them in. I'm just weird about
cutting flowers and even trimming my trees. I just
think it hurts them. My magnolia needs to be pruned,
but it's not the right time of year, and even when it's
the right time, I hate to cut it.

Kind of like cutting my hair. I haven't cut it since I lost
my job 18 months ago. It's as long now as it was when
I was 32--when I had my youngest son. Half way
down my back. But I like it and don't think I will cut
it. It's just hot, so I keep it up a lot. No bun. Just ponytail
or in a flip with a barrette.

I was one of those people who thought women past a certain
age shouldn't have long hair. Don't know why I ever thought
that. I think it looks better than it has in a long time, and the more
I work out in the sun, the more those golden streaks
start to show through it. It's dark brown with some reddish
highlights, but the sun and beach and pool summer fun stuff
lightens it. Thank god it doesn't turn it grey! Only a little
grey at my temples, so I'm fairly lucky, I guess.

Have never colored my hair and don't really ever want
to, but if starts to get grey all over, I may!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Curse Against Elegies

Oh, love, why do we argue like this?
I am tired of all your pious talk.
Also, I am tired of all the dead.
They refuse to listen,
so leave them alone.
Take your foot out of the graveyard,
they are busy being dead.

Everyone was always to blame:
the last empty fifth of booze,
the rusty nails and chicken feathers
that stuck in the mud on the back doorstep,
the worms that lived under the cat's ear
and the thin-lipped preacher
who refused to call
except once on a flea-ridden day
when he came scuffing in through the yard
looking for a scapegoat.
I hid in the kitchen under the ragbag.

I refuse to remember the dead.
And the dead are bored with the whole thing.
But you - you go ahead,
go on, go on back down
into the graveyard,
lie down where you think their faces are;
talk back to your old bad dreams.

Anne Sexton

Once in a Lifetime--Talking Heads

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Going Down

Went down hard today. No bumps
in the sidewalk and no twisting of ankles.

Passed a house with a fenced-in yard. A pit bull
ran up to the fence and Molly was doing the sniff
thing through the links when another one
showed up and then they got very aggressive
and scared Molly and she bolted.

I've been on a horse when it bolts--I know
there is no stopping that energy. I was
helpless. She pulled away and pulled
me down into the street (the gutter, basically)
of a very busy street. It hurt like hell
but I had to get up and get her.

I have a knot the size of half an orange
on my right leg below the knee, my ankle is bruised
and battered, my right elbow scraped, my right
palm bruised and sore, my back hurting.

Maybe she's just too much dog for me.

Or maybe I just need to be very selective
about where we walk.

Hurting, hurting. Another ice pack on its way.

The Doors - L.A. Woman

Monday, April 21, 2008

Stories Molly Could Tell

I'm sure she thinks I've lost
it, my arms and legs twisting
and turning, my hips swiveling,
my head moving up and down
like some bobblehead Jim Morrison
wannabe, dancing my ass off to L.A. Woman,
taking her face in my hands and kissing
her as she sits, confused and interested,
on the couch, her long pink tongue
entering my ear and swiping
my chin. This is a human
she does not know, the one who dances
without shoes, without abandon
in the living room, Emeril muted
in the background, my body a whirling
dervish, thinking nothing of my age
or how bad my knees will hurt later,
just wanting, in that space, late afternoon
light filtering through the lace curtain,
to be that long-legged, honey-haired girl
who never got high but had her share
of Boone's Farm, who spun herself in yards
and dance halls, who wore halter tops and bell
bottoms, who laughed freely on occasion,
who married young and loved her family well,
who will never look that way again, but who feels
all is right as she spins once more around
the floor, kisses her dog, and works her frenzy
into the softness of Riders On The Storm, her body
grateful for this slow part of the story that is her life.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

October 14, 1923-April 20, 2006
A.E.L.

In memory of my father, who died two years ago
today. Two years ago at 10:56 p.m tonight.
I miss him with all my heart.



Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W.H. Auden
Edgy and Dull

Supposed to be 71 today and sunny (it's
a little overcast at the moment). I have more
yard work to do--lots. Haven't started on the herb
garden yet--need to weed and trim a few things
back though I won't trim much until after it blooms.

I still have tarragon, flat-leaf parsley, rosemary,
sage, oregano, chives, lavender, and thyme growing.
Most likely the mint and lemon balm are doing ok,
too, but I haven't looked things over very well.

Just so hard to get motivated to do anything.

Don't want to even utter the D word. It hovers
over me all the time, but I don't want to be back
on anti-depressants.

So, I just bide my time (and waste a great deal
of it as I wallow in my apathy), and try to stay
focused, busy, or slightly inebriated, or a combination
of those things--whatever gets me through (and now
I am thinking of Lucinda Williams' Blue).

*******************************

Reading East of Eden but thinking of Grapes of Wrath,
which I think I will reread after I complete East of Eden.

Thinking of that scene in the book (but mostly from the movie,
with Henry Fonda--the farewell scene), which then makes
me think of Bruce Springsteen's Ghost of Tom Joad,
which then makes me think about this band my son listens
to (I like them, too), who happen to make me think
of Springsteen, again (The Arcade Fire is the name of the group),
which then makes me think of the polka and I start
hearing polka music and I want to be in a little deli in Chicago,
which makes me remember it takes money to physically
go, but it only takes a few moments, with eyes closed
and body relaxed, for my mind to take me anywhere I want to go.

****************************************

"...I'll be all around in the dark. I'll be ever'-where - wherever you can look. Wherever there's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad - I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise, and livin' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too"

an excerpt of Tom Joad's farewell speech to his mother
from The Grapes of Wrath

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Shoes

She says I'm drawing myself
inward, into a ball, like a potato
bug curled up at the touch
of a finger, this after analyzing
the way my left sandal has flattened
itself, my right foot apparently
still living in the zone. I confess
that the sandals were cheap and had been
subject to being hosed off more times
than they deserved, that they had endured
miles of walking they were not designed
to withstand, just a pair of thick-soled,
black somethings to wear at the beach.
Unconvinced, she makes me stand up
in them as she examines my legs
and posture, asks me to do a 360
just to be sure she's on to something,
but I laugh as she talks, curling the toes
on my left foot inward more and more
with each turn thinking how funny
it is that my shoes should give me away,
not my face, my body, my tired legs,
spidering out now as legs are apt to do,
and I want to be angry with her
for her intuition, she who loves me so,
enough to subject me to this examination.
The conversation moved into often-covered
territory--Tennessee Williams and Carson
McCullers, shoes and freaks, the strange
and the odd, the lover and beloved, iguanas
and cats--and the sandals got kicked
into the new grass, me promising to load
them in the dumpster on Monday and buy
a new pair, thinking I hope this pair does not give
me away so easily, though I don't tell
her that as we sit there sipping our drinks,
an ambulance screaming by, dogs barking
in the dark at something unseen, the early
spring rain coming down, my feet already missing
my old friends who could no longer keep my secrets--
those softies who deserve the dumpster.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Taking The Beauty Out

Judas hanged himself on the branch
of a redbud tree, my mother tells me
as we discuss how beautiful they are this year,

their lilac color gracing the parkways, backyards,
and even the shanties in town, which makes me think
one day they weren't always destined for the wrecking

ball, these run down and mostly abandoned
houses, that someone must have cared at some
point about beauty. She has this way of interjecting

a factoid into every conversation, one which contains
more snakes than an Indiana Jones movie, one that takes
the listener down the path less traveled and into shadows,

where even in the light of day, every inch of the walk
is dark and unforgiving. I think she has a vast wasteland
of information just waiting for someone who happens

to stray into her neighborhood, and though the redbuds
are no less lovely, the desire to speak of them diminishes,
fades away into highway or tall grass or concrete, lost,

the way many beautiful things are, when the whims
of introspection, intentional or otherwise, come calling.
Redbud Tree

Animals Know

My son calls me this morning and asks if my dog
went nuts last night/early a.m., and I'm thinking
How does he know that Molly was not well last night?

All I know is I woke at 4:40-4:45 at the sound of my
bedroom door shaking as if someone had the knob
and they were just pulling on it constantly. I was
frightened and wondered why Molly refused to move.

She didn't even bark--she just stayed curled up in a ball
on the bed next to me. My husband is out of town, so that
made things even worse. So, I got up and walked into the
living room through my bedroom door that goes into
the hallway (we have an odd door that opens from our
bedroom to the living room--I'm sure it was meant for heat
circulation purposes when the house was built, but it
serves no purpose now--we're going to turn it into bookshelves
one of these years!--it was the door that was shaking)
and I went to the living room not knowing what to expect.

My cat was running around looking terrified, but other
than that, there was nothing else going on in the room--
no train going by, not the cat jumping on the door,
no explosions, so I grasped the handle and pulled it
tightly and then it stopped shaking. I went back to bed
only to find that Molly had wet the bed and would
not move from her curled-up position, so she knew.
But next time she knows we're having an earthquake,
I hope she finds another way to let me know besides
wetting the bed and refusing to move!
A 5.2, which isn't much, but it was eerie. We're on the New
Madrid fault line and could have a large quake at any time.
I live roughly 160 miles from New Madrid, MO.

Popular history (around these parts) is that Reelfoot
Lake was formed in the 1800s as a result of a large
quake, which caused the Mississippi River to flow
backwards and fill major portions of that area. Don't
know how correct that history is, but I've certainly
heard it many times. The possibility of
an 8.0 is fairly high around here, but it's just something
we don't think about. We have tornadoes to worry about!

So, I finally moved Molly's butt off the bed, changed the sheets,
cleaned the wet area, dried it as best I could and turned a fan
on to help dry it out more. I haven't been back to sleep
since, and I am pooped! After I got the bed changed,
I moved over to the other side (the dry side) with just
a blanket and tried to go back to sleep, but I was freaked
out thinking maybe I had a ghost in the house. I would
have never thought earthquake!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Didn't

...get around to cooking the Montalcino Chicken until tonight...

ummmmmm ummmmmm ummmmm

that Rachel Ray knows how to cook! The flavors were
so perfectly blended with one another, and the wine
was perfect with the dish. I will cook it again, and again
and again.

Now, if you're watching your sodium intake and calories
and fat, it's probably not for you, but hell, you only live
once. Best enjoy some good food, and this was ass-kicking
good. Hat's off to the Italians and Rachel Ray!
Peonies at Dusk

White peonies blooming along the porch
send out light
while the rest of the yard grows dim.

Outrageous flowers as big as human
heads! They're staggered
by their own luxuriance: I had
to prop them up with stakes and twine.

The moist air intensifies their scent,
and the moon moves around the barn
to find out what it's coming from.

In the darkening June evening
I draw a blossom near, and bending close
search it as a woman searches
a loved one's face.

Jane Kenyon

**********************

Peonies

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open--
pools of lace,
white and pink--
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities--
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,

the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding

all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again--
beauty the brave, the exemplary,

blazing open.
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,

with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing forever?

Mary Oliver

*********************

I couldn't get the Oliver poem to format correctly. The second,
third and fourth lines are all indented--2nd line about 3 spaces,
3rd line about 6, and 4th line about 8. But I love the poem
and wanted to share it along with the Kenyon poem.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

You're living for nothing now, I hope you're keeping some kind of record

One of my favorite Leonard Cohen songs

Finally

...a completely sunshiny day, which
should lift one's spirits. I think my own
won't get lifted 'til I lift a glass of vino
tonight.

Oops--wrong--it just got cloudy.

Going to cook Montalcino Chicken with Figs
and Buttered Gnocchi with Pancetta and Nutmeg
(a Rachel Ray meal, and if you ever watch her, you'd
know it was hers because she adds nutmeg
to so many things!).

This one will be cooked with some Rosso di Montalcino
(coudn't afford the Brunello--yikes, was it expensive!)

I watched her make this one night last week, so I got
a bottle of wine when I was out of town last weekend
(can't get much wine here--Yellow Tail, Gallo, Glen Ellen,
etc.--very, very limited choices in this town).

Short day at work today (maybe).

Don't see my first client until 1, and then
I have folks every 15 minutes
until 3 or so, if they show up.

The study is nearing its end, so I'll only be working
another 3-4 weeks, and then who knows what I'll do.

I just can't worry about it anymore. I have a few
irons in the fire with some positions I would very much
love to have, but so far no interviews. I remain hopeful and will
just do the best with what I have until then.

I would like to start grad school, but I don't know what
I want to be when I grow up. Too many choices.
Too many areas of study I enjoy. Too much money to go.
Too little time. Too much thinking. Do I get my degree
in something I love, or something that will bring much
needed revenue into the household? That being said,
I could not get my master's in an area I didn't feel
compelled to study and make a career out of just because
there is demand in that area and more money than one of my
other choices, but there are limited career opportunities
in this area, so I have to think about that too.

Maybe by the time I'm 50-55, I'll figure it out. At 65,
I can get a free ride--never had one of those.

That's something to look forward to.

REM - Swan Swan H

Monday, April 14, 2008

Life Is Beautiful

and remote, and useful,
if only to itself. Take the fly, angel
of the ordinary house, laying its bright
eggs on the trash, pressing each jewel out
delicately along a crust of buttered toast.
Bagged, the whole mess travels to the nearest
dump where other flies have gathered, singing
over stained newsprint and reeking
fruit. Rapt on air they execute an intricate
ballet above the clashing pirouettes
of heavy machinery. They hum with life.
While inside rumpled sacks pure white
maggots writhe and spiral from a rip,
a tear-shaped hole that drools and drips
a living froth onto the buried earth.
The warm days pass, gulls scree and pitch,
rats manage the crevices, feral cats abandon
their litters for a morsel of torn fur, stranded
dogs roam open fields, sniff the fragrant edges,
a tossed lacework of bones and shredded flesh.
And the maggots tumble at the center, ripening,
husks membrane-thin, embryos darkening
and shifting within, wings curled and wet,
the open air pungent and ready to receive them
in their fecund iridescence. And so, of our homely hosts,
a bag of jewels is born again into the world. Come, lost
children of the sun-drenched kitchen, your parents
soundly sleep along the windowsill, content,
wings at rest, nestled in against the warm glass.
Everywhere the good life oozes from the useless
waste we make when we create—our streets teem
with human young, rafts of pigeons streaming
over the squirrel-burdened trees. If there is
a purpose, maybe there are too many of us
to see it, though we can, from a distance,
hear the dull thrum of generation’s industry,
feel its fleshly wheel churn the fire inside us, pushing
the world forward toward its ragged edge, rushing
like a swollen river into multitude and rank disorder.
Such abundance. We are gorged, engorging, and gorgeous.

Dorianne Laux

******************************

This day can't decide if it wants to be sunny or not.
Day after day of rain and clouds, a freeze warning
tonight.

I spent the weekend with a friend who needed
help. We worked our asses off--even sore today
from the 50 + times I walked up and down the stairs
with my hands full of things she couldn't part with.

She has her reasons.

It was painful for her. No cathartic moments yet,
but I think as time passes, she will feel better.

It's hard losing your mom and dad (her mom 9
years ago, her dad in February). I told her she
didn't need to explain why she held on to so many things,
but she said to me, through tears, that she needed
to tell me why. So, I left there today to come back
home, not sure if it was the right time to do what we
did, but I think it probably was.

***********************

Escapees on the loose in the Mad City. They escaped
from a medium security prison in Indiana. One of them
killed a woman here in 1984 but was not convicted
of that murder until 1989. At that time, he was already
serving time in IN for another murder. He has family here
and, with the discovery of two stolen cars believed to be used
by the escapees, the belief is that the two may be in this area.

My daughter calls every day to ask if I have my doors locked.

Yes, I say. Yes. And when I was not home, yes, your dad
and brother locked the doors. No word on any developments
today.

I am bone-weary. Just goes to show how out of shape
I am. But no walk for me tonight. Think I'll just
read this evening. Been reading East of Eden
and brought a few books home from my friend's
house.

**********************

We watched part of a disturbing movie while I was
there--the first night after we decided we were
pooped and needed a break. Happiness.
I would like to see the rest of it, sick as it was.

We listened to John Prine, Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams,
Van Morrison, REM, Emmylou Harris and others
while we worked.

Sandalwood. Her house always smells like sandalwood.
I love that smell. And I love patchouli, though I rarely
burn any patchouli now. I brought home several boxes
of sandalwood candles. I have one burning now.

Enticing smell. Earthy. Of friends.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

As The Fog Rolls In

We meet so many people in our lifetime--
people who heal, people who hurt, people
who care, people who can no longer care,
and on any given night we are prone
to think of them. Tonight I am thinking
of Fanny, of her capacity to give, of her stern
ways but her open heart, the woman
who made my first son's quilt, the charge
nurse on 3rd North, my first time to work
surgical, who knew, young as I was, eighteen
and still in braces, that I could do what needed
to be done, and more than that, who knew I felt.
And in the feeling comes the loss, as it must,
and the blank look and the crying later,
after the shift was over and I was home
in my little 12 x 60 trailer, this whole world of pain
and love that I had not experienced before filling
me until it spilled over into the sink and the bath
tub and the shag carpet, my cat later that night
running up the leg of my pants, my husband
trying to console me as he warmed his dinner.
I read once that as long as there was someone
to remember another someone then that one
they remember is never really gone. To utter
a name into the gathering fog, to think of them
on a night when the moon is obscured by clouds
and the rain lightly falls, is to touch them again,
is to know their energy. It is her touch I feel this night,
she with her nurse's cap, emblazoned with stripes,
propped on her head at an odd angle, her ankles swelling
with the demands of age and the hours spent walking
the floors, her demeanor never less than professional,
her tough exterior melting in the med room
as she held me after my first patient expired--
not for long and not too tightly-- just enough
to say It's ok to be where you are with this,
and don't you ever forget that. And though
I could make little sense out of the events unfolding--
phones still ringing, visitors coming and going,
meds to be given, doctors leaving the floor--I knew
she was right. Death is not this great divider, not a friend
you'd have lunch with if you knew the cost, and not an enemy
who needs to resort to cutting your throat, and life
was not this cryptic message, nor was it something easily
understood. She would say, Honey, you have this huge
heart willing to give-- let it take you where it will, and for
all the times you wonder why it would take you places
like this--a grandfather in arrest, a young woman
with two babies, heart damaged beyond repair, think
of the moments you spent giving to the living and the dying,
but mostly to all those hurting people somewhere in between.

*******************************

I do no justice to Fanny's memory here, and I didn't
come here to write a poem--I just wanted to say
something about a particular someone who made
a difference in my life. I was watching Patch Adams,
and the nurse in the movie (the one who knows when
to let things follow their natural course) made me think
about her and about that part of my life.

I had just gone through one of the most significant
changes of my life and was looking for a job. Just 17.
I remember the interview, the woman with perfect
hair and a nice smile, telling me that there were two
positions available--ward clerk or med tech. I asked
about both and decided I'd go the med tech route.

I was good at what I did, and I loved it and I hated
it because every day I was working with sick people--
some of them never got better, some of them did,
some of them left and I never knew what happened
to them.

I went through an on the job training program
and eight weeks later, I was giving people their shots
and routine po (by mouth) meds. I learned so much
pharmacology and so much about adverse reactions
to meds and drug interactions. I was completely
in my element.

I remember one night an intern came in and asked
me what I would do if X amount of a particular med
was prescribed for one of my patients (I was on the
pediatric floor at that time). And I said, If you ordered
that amount of X med, I would say you were trying
to kill the patient.

He was cocky and so sure I didn't know my stuff,
but I did know it, and it's a good thing I did because
at that time, the pharmacy closed at 9, and I was second
shift, and if I did not know how to calculate or recognize
an order that was lethal or dangerous, many patients
could have died.

Things are much different now in the hospital. The meds
are all prepared now by the pharmacy, which is open
all night. But people are still the same. You have people
who care and people who don't and so much nonsense
going on it's crazy.

I decided after my first child was born that I wanted
to stay home with him, and I did, and I stayed home
until my second entered school. I have no regrets
for that, and I don't want to pursue a nursing degree
now, but my interest is still there, and Fanny was one
of those people who not only set an example, she lived
the life--she was kind and firm and calm and giving.

I have never forgotten her or her importance in my life,
and I still have the beautiful quilt she made for my firstborn,
with her name embroidered in the corner.
Lilies

I have been thinking
about living
like the lilies
that blow in the fields.

They rise and fall
in the wedge of the wind,
and have no shelter
from the tongues of the cattle,

and have no closets or cupboards,
and have no legs.
Still I would like to be
as wonderful

as that old idea.
But if I were a lily
I think I would wait all day
for the green face

of the hummingbird
to touch me.
What I mean is,
could I forget myself

even in those feathery fields?
When van Gogh
preached to the poor
of course he wanted to save someone--

most of all himself.
He wasn't a lily,
and wandering through the bright fields
only gave him more ideas

it would take his life to solve.
I think I will always be lonely
in this world, where the cattle
graze like a black and white river--

where the ravishing lilies
melt, without protest, on their tongues--
where the hummingbird, whenever there is a fuss,
just rises and floats away.

Mary Oliver

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Poetry Circle

We meet tonight to discuss 4 or 5 Billy Collins
poems. The first line of the first poem mentions
Jackie Wilson and Gracie Lantz:

Already tonight I have lifted my glass to Jackie
Wilson and Gracie Lantz


and I started thinking about Jackie Wilson and trying
to remember some of his big hits but nothing came
to mind, so I googled him, and found Lonely Teardrops
and Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher (a song I will
never hear again and not think of Ghostbusters II).

There were many things I didn't know about Jackie--
that he was called Mr. Excitement, that so many
singer/songwriters today credit his work as having a profound
influence on their own--from Van Morrison to Michael Jackson,
that in 1975, at age 41, he was performing for the Dick Clark show
when he suffered a heart attack, fell to the stage and suffered
a head injury from which he never recovered. He was in vegetative
state until he died at age 49 in 1984.

None of this will we discuss, or at least I doubt we will,
but I just felt compelled to go look him up and post
Lonely Teardrops.

Now, back to my notes for tonight's discussion. I hope
we have a good turn out.

********************

And yes, D, if you read this, it will be summer soon. Lovely
thought-- thank you for sending it my way this cloudy morning--
I'm trying to get closer to fine.

****************************

So, we discussed 2 of the 4 poems. The readers didn't particularly
care for Billy. They were kind of So what about him. One of the group
members is a very astute reader. Her ideas about the work are always
thought-provoking. As a matter of fact, I think she would do better
leading the group.

I sometimes wonder why I even decided to do this.
For something to do?

If so, wrong reason.

I find myself not terribly inclined to continue, but we'll
see how I feel next month.

I feel I am just not qualified enough or attuned enough
or intelligent enough to lead the discussion. I really need
to evaluate why I decided to do this.

Not to say it was not an interesting and edifying evening--it was. I'm
just feeling kinda small right now.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Remembering The Forgotten

Augmentin, that's what she said, but what she prescribed
was Amoxicillin. I had forgotten they were the same
and spent a few hours in the night trying to remember
if they were, everyone else long since asleep.

I didn't turn the light on, didn't come to the computer
to look up broad-spectrum antibiotics, didn't let myself
open the dictionary next to the bed. I lay there awake,
going through the days and nights I once administered

medicines, wondering how I could ever forget a part
of me who worked every day where lives hung
in the balance, where the difference in 1.5 and 1.05
was life or death, my head hurting and my mind furious

with itself for all its failings, for all the times it remembers
the things I'd rather forget. The next forgotten word was Spirea,
only thinking about it hours after ridding the garden beds
of their winter collections. I stood at the window admiring

the work I had done all day, garden beds cleared of weeds
and refuge, but I could not summon, with all of my powers,
the name of that shrub I planted one hot summer, long past
planting time, knowing if I didn't water it daily, I could lose

it. There are so many losses one grows weary of the tally.
But what joy when the mind reveals all its little secrets,
when the red knees hidden beneath dirt-stained pants
is cause for wonder, when the right arm throbs and the ache

of living is finally and utterly something to embrace.

***********************

This guy on one of the gardening channels said

You don't want your yard looking like a big box
of crayons just exploded on it

Huh? Hell yes I do! Give me color everywhere!
If only I could drop a big box of crayons and have all
those lovely colors everywhere I look.

What an idiot.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

What a Headache

Finally, after almost two weeks of a non-stop
occipital headache, at the urging of my friend,
I went to the Care Center today to just have things
checked out.

The pain radiates down the neck and extends up
into the ear, jawbone, and eye on the left
side of my head.

Good news is this: it doesn't appear that I have
a brain tumor nor a bone infection (there is much
tenderness in the jawbone area). It appears
that I probably have TMJ. There isn't much
one can do for that except pain management,
which is not going to be an easy task for me
as I don't and won't take a pain med.

The doctor prescribed 3-4 times a day NSAIDs,
a Medrol pack (steroids) to reduce the inflammation,
a soft diet--preferably hearty soups--and an antibiotic,
as she feels I probably have a sinus infection.

Jury's still out on whether I'll take the steroids
and the antibiotic, but I will do the other things
first and see if that makes a difference.

She also said I need to have my dentist do some
X-rays and determine whether I need a bite
block to wear at night. What joy. Yippee.

Worse case scenario with TMJ is jawbone
replacement. But I'll try all the other non-invasive
things I can and see if they work.

Very tired of a continual headache, earache, pain,
and nausea. So, I guess it's good that I went,
but I already had a suspicion it could be TMJ
and should have (perhaps) just read some literature
and made some decisions. With that said, I will
also say that my friend loves me enough to want
to be sure that nothing else was going on, and she's
right. Better to check these things out.

*********************************

Finally lifted my trellis from the ground
today, dug some deep holes to secure it more
firmly in the ground, and then cleaned
out a few garden beds. It was cool but not
cold today, so I got a few things done.

********************************

There are still several roads under water here, but
the basement is drying out. Damage assessment
duty tomorrow.

****************************

Trying to decide that I want to watch tonight. My son
and I watched No Country For Old Men yesterday.

I am still processing what I saw and how I feel about it.

He and I had a good discussion about the movie, and he tells
me it took a second viewing for him to feel he understood
the premise a bit better. He's a big fan of the Coen brothers,
and I confess to liking them quite a bit as well. So tonight,
I think I may watch Sweeney Todd, or I might just watch
Network. I haven't seen it in some time and I'm kinda in the mood
to open my own window and yell I'm mad as hell and I'm not
gonna take it anymore!

Ta-ta.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Caught In The Tide

There are snapshots, colors
fading from the noon sun, lining
the radiator shields, the bookshelves,
the dressers and piano top. One
is of a young child in a striped
one-piece bathing suit, her father
lifting her above the waves, her face
happy and anxious at the same time,
the father smiling. And there he is again,
this time holding her arm at the church
as he takes her down the aisle and releases
her into the unknown, his face still happy
but filled with some uncertainty, looking
so handsome and young in his tuxedo,
friends and family in the background
whose faces the camera did not clearly
catch, its focus on the man and the young
woman. And then, there he is again,
sitting under the dogwood tree with his
youngest grandchild, a weary smile
gracing the definitive lines that men
who have lived thirty years at sea
and who have witnessed things the young
woman and the grandchild can't begin
to imagine often wear, and you would think either
the young woman, who has now earned
her own share of lines for entirely
different reasons, or perhaps a grandchild,
would recognize the importance of placing
these scenes in a photo book or a box
or in between the pages of a favorite
book so the fading would end, the erasing
of time halted, but the woman, in particular,
knows there is no stopping this gradual
fading into nonexistence, her memory
nearly as drained as the paper, her resolve
to persevere not what it once was, back
when she was lifted from the waves,
feeling the pull of the tide, worrying
even then that her father may not be strong
enough to save her, nor himself, from a plan
not of their device, but one they must live with.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

When The Spirit Calls

Her face is the color of a Dove
milk chocolate bar and just as smooth,
so smooth, as a matter of fact, that I wanted
to take a bite out of one of her high cheekbones.
She hugged me, knowing my face was familiar
but not quite being able to place me. What she
needed was a comrade in arms, the woman in line
in front of us at the local grocery store was the woman
she caught with her man one night last summer,
after she'd put her babies to bed and put her face
on, her long walk to his house longer than she
would know until she found them in the middle of love-
making, his hand touching places reserved exclusively
for her, and then she looks at the young girl in line
in front of us and asks her Are you Sammie? I saw
fear rise in the other girl's eyes, rise like the creeks
and streams inundated with this latest spring
downpour, fear so palpable my heart starts to beat
harder, and I think of the rabbits Molly chases
in the backyard. After the woman leaves, she tells
me how the scene played out, how he ran after her
into the street, how other women and men judge
her because she can't read and lives
on disability, how they have no right, the man
and the woman who drives a red Camaro. All the way
out the door and into the parking lot she asks me
if what she did was wrong as she explains the situation,
and I say, Sister, what did Jesus say about judgment,
about what to do, and she answers with the Biblical
explanation, her thin arms flinging themselves around
my neck, her voice calling to me as I walk to my car,
Thank you, Sister, for filling me with the Spirit
today, and I nod to her to say I understand,
knowing full well the way the spirit moves
her is as broken as the way she walks,
and my spirit is not nearly as fierce nor as ready
to concede how tenuous the walk is, grateful
I could even talk the talk long enough to matter,
the albatross of indifference spreading its enormous
wings long enough for me to release this onus of me
which generally refuses to be released,
except when the spirit catches me unaware,
and all pretense leaves in the shadow of its calling.

Down in the River to Pray

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I Can See No Reason But This

Why aren't you alive, I say to no one
or nothing in particular, as I stand
on my porch and watch the traffic
trickle by, this several hours after rush
hour, which is not really a rush in this
small town--it's just the path some folks
choose on their way home. But there
they are--those damn branches next
to the porch, the ones that fell this winter
in the ice storm. They just keep looking
at me, their bare limbs reaching out
to me like so many fingers in the nursing
home, dead but still alive, lending
themselves to the imagination of a drunkard
and a fool who chooses to think they still
feel, two months gone, severed from their
host. Why have I not taken them
to the curb, left them there for the city
to feed them and their disability into
the chopper, and then take them
to the mulch yard at the recycling center
where they would be sure to arouse someone’s
interest, have a chance to find a new home,
one in which all the fragments of their existence
could come together to make something whole
again? I just haven't found a way to make
peace with them before I send them away,
one of them with the beginnings of a bird's nest
woven tightly into one of her arms, a very pregnant
cardinal swooping in and out, her beak filled
with the melange she finds scattered about in yards
and trash-filled streets, me quietly watching
her flit about, then going back over the question
nagging me from the start—who am I to say
what constitutes life--realizing as I say it
to the wind, the limbs, and the birds that I miss
you so much that nothing I see or know makes
much sense except letting the living take a stab
at living and letting the dead do what they
must, which may mean letting the dead just be.

stevie ray vaughn pride and joy 1982

In a Stevie mood today...sure wish I had seen him perform live before he left this earth...still dancing here...

Lamentations of a Quasi Gardener

Spring has arrived, bringing with her
only work to be done, I think as I look
from my porch windows to the unraked
leaves, fallen limbs, clumps of wild grass,
to the Bermuda forcing its way through
the small cracks between the brick
pavers I placed in front of the garden beds
the summer you died, the summer I could
not stop moving--planting, digging, raking,
mowing, and sweating--god yes, sweating,
pulling Bermuda from around the beds
until my palms bled, and there it is all back
again, prolific and determined, much more
determined than I think I am this year to remove
it, a days-long task to lift each paver
and pull by hand the unruly roots
until the wet soil coats my garden gloves,
which I will be forced to shed, if I am to feel
the loam conspiring with the intricate
workings of rhizomes webbed beneath
my feet, and I'll be bent there in the hot sun,
fingers and nails covered in cold soil, pulling
and cursing and wondering why I didn't do this right
initially and place black plastic over the tender
seedlings, leaving just enough air for them to grow.
But I know why--that would have been too easy,
and I'm not about easy. I lean toward making things
as difficult as possible--perhaps to have something
to bitch about, a lesson to offer my children or anyone
who will listen, not knowing any good reason
to keep this up--this laboring and saving the fragile
ones from being choked to death--me so immersed
in my martyrdom that I often forget to do the basic
things like planning and taking reasonable steps,
just diving in on a whim for the most part, and my yard,
like my life, stretches out before me, little snippets
of my half-hearted attempts strewing themselves
about, waiting for those large droplets of yellow
sweat to drip from the tip of my nose and become
forever lost in the raging green.

***************************

Major overhaul on this one but not sure that it is saying a damn thing I want it to...errrrrr....

Gotta take Molly out to potty and get to work....no time for poetry today (she says after she's spent the last hour fooling around with this thing!)

and jim, thanks for your comments on the first posting of this--I still think the poem may be working against what I am asserting but I can't tell for sure...should know better than to try to force my little darlings...this may be one I need to kill off indeed!

********************************

Gumbo night tonight with a Chardonnay. Selections
in this town are very limited--I hope I chose wisely.
I bought a bottle of Tormaresca Puglia (Puglia is
the southern Italian province where the vineyard
is located). My only other choices were Mondavi,
Glen Ellen or Yellow Tail. We'll see if I made a good choice.

Never been much of a white wine person--I do so love
the reds but they make my teeth turn gray (which doesn't stop me
from drinking them--I just invested in some whitening toothpaste
that really does remove coffee, tea and wine stains) but I am trying
to branch out a bit and pair up my wines with my food.

Just thinking about the gumbo makes my mouth water.

Using a recipe from Food & Wine magazine and embellishing
it with my own special touches I add to gumbo. Hope it's yum.
somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
E. E. Cummings


somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look will easily unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands