Friday, October 31, 2008

The Patience of Ordinary Things by Pat Schneider


It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they're supposed to be.
I've been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"People Get Ready,

there's a train a-coming. don't need no ticket, you just get on board."


Went to a funeral today, my hubby's co-worker, dead at age 54. What once sounded old to me has changed over the years I realized as I stood with our friends in the early afternoon light on this beautiful golden October day and watched the casket being placed into the hearst.
Because we are nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists and we daily watch the current of morbidity, mortality pass by us it's easy to believe that we are safe on dry land protected from those chilling waters. But life is what it is. No more, no less.

Few words of comfort for the group gathered here today. Michael had collapsed at work and the resuscitation attempts were done by those who knew and loved him well. "All the King's horses and all the King's men..." During the service I had the uncomfortable feeling of being at the losing end in a game of Tug of War and the priest knew he was dragging us all through this towards him yet unable to answer our unspoken question, "Why?"

"Life is eternal and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon, and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight."—Rossiter W. Raymond.


Please note: photo by Jacken Hack

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sister, Can You Spare The Time?



This past summer we spent two weeks in one of our most favorite places in the world with two of our most favorite people. Last week one of those people, the "best man" at our wedding, underwent a mastectomy and is now learning about her options for chemo and radiation therapy. If she were my blood sister I would sign up for this study in a hot second, but she's not, and I can't. I can spend money for products that donate to research, but I can offer very little hands-on help for my friend and it's breaking my heart. If anyone out in the blogosphere is interested and eligible for a sisters' study check out Army of Women.



please note: art by Nancy Dunlop Cawdrey

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Starfish by Eleanor Lerman


This is what life does. It lets you walk up to
the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a
stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have
your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman
down beside you at the counter who says, Last night,
the channel was full of starfish. And you wonder,
is this a message, finally, or just another day?

Life lets you take the dog for a walk down to the
pond, where whole generations of biological
processes are boiling beneath the mud. Reeds
speak to you of the natural world: they whisper,
they sing. And herons pass by. Are you old
enough to appreciate the moment? Too old?
There is movement beneath the water, but it
may be nothing. There may be nothing going on.

And then life suggests that you remember the
years you ran around, the years you developed
a shocking lifestyle, advocated careless abandon,
owned a chilly heart. Upon reflection, you are
genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have
become. And then life lets you go home to think
about all this. Which you do, for quite a long time.
Later, you wake up beside your old love, the one
who never had any conditions, the one who waited
you out. This is life's way of letting you know that
you are lucky. (It won't give you smart or brave,
so you'll have to settle for lucky.) Because you
were born at a good time. Because you were able
to listen when people spoke to you. Because you
stopped when you should have and started again.

So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your
late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And
then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland,
while outside, the starfish drift through the channel,
with smiles on their starry faces as they head
out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea.


please note:art by Phyliss Rees

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"We'd Make Neil Young a Senator...


I live in a bi-political party household and, while I don't have the luxury of feeling smug and sanctimoniously intelligent about all my decisions, it has made me a better listener forcing me to be more tolerant of the thoughts driving diverse opinions. The one thing I am hearing from everyone I hang with is that WE ALL WANT THINGS TO CHANGE in our country and we all want it to change for the better. That alone is something to unite us as Americans despite the ever escalating negative campaign ads.

For those youngsters voting in this election who are sick and tired of hearing about the Sixties and fighting old battles--close your eyes, cause you ain't gonna wanna to hear about the Forties either. But, as my BFF Winston Churchill stated after Victory in Europe and after he was roundly defeated in Britain's first General Election since 1935, "They are perfectly entitled to vote as they please. This is democracy. This is what we've been fighting for."

I may not agree with a vote for McCain, but I would disagree a gazillion times more with a decision not to vote at all. Be a patriot and do your civil duty--VOTE. That is precisely what many men and women on this beautiful blue planet are fighting for.


Hubby and I may not see eye to eye on presidential candidates, but this we could totally go for:


...even though he came from Canada."






please note: music by Over the Rhine, art by Dr. Seuss, photo from the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, big blue planet from a higher power filled with Love

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dear Rachel


Thought I'd write a few words for a friend who has left the fair CinCity for Germany. Rachel is one of our new nurses from the Neurodrama ICU. She has gotten herself a job working in the United States military hospital at Landstahl and we,of course as Mama Birds are want to be, are hugely impressed and proud of our young chickie. God bless, girlie, write soon and have a fantabulous time.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Six Minutes of Heaven


Happy New Year, Mr. Morrison

"I saw you standing with the wind and the rain in your face
And you were thinking 'bout the wisdom of the leaves and their grace
When the leaves come falling down
In September when the leaves, come falling down"


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Classic Ballroom Dances by Charles Simic


Grandmothers who wring the necks
Of chickens; old nuns
With names like Theresa, Marianne,
Who pull schoolboys by the ear;

The intricate steps of pickpockets
Working the crowd of the curious
At the scene of an accident; the slow shuffle
Of the evangelist with a sandwich board;

The hesitation of the early-morning customer
Peeking through the window grille
Of a pawnshop; the weave of a little kid
Who is walking to school with eyes closed;

And the ancient lovers, cheek to cheek,
On the dance floor of the Union Hall,
Where they also hold charity raffles
On rainy Monday nights of an eternal November.


please note: photo by Larry Fink

Monday, October 20, 2008

West Wing #2 by Mary Oliver


You are young. So you know everything. You leap
into the boat and begin rowing. But, listen to me.
Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without
any doubt, I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me.
Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and
your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to
me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent
penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a
dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile
away and still out of sight, the churn of the water
as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the
sharp rocks—when you hear that unmistakable
pounding—when you feel the mist on your mouth
and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls
plunging and steaming—then row, row for your life
toward it.


please note: photo by Al Fasoldt

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Day Off in a Rainy CinCity


A day off after two days dealing with the sequelae of bad brains. We have a few young-uns as patients right now; perhaps harder on the younger nurses and docs since it hits so close to their own ages. Bumps up against that shield of invincibility they carry. For those of us with more years under our belts and wrapped around our waistlines it's easy to see these young victims of fate as our own kids. Their parents are even generally younger than me--I was a late mom, or as the medical terminology states, a "geriatric pregnancy"(...and I heard Hollywood was tough)--and the desire to care for and work towards a child's,albeit 18 or 19 years old, survival is deeply imprinted. At some point as I got older it became easier to commune with families caught in the limbo environment of the ICU quite simply because I can easily imagine how it feels. There but for the grace of God, go I.


But, they're in someone else's hands today while I attempt to do something maternal for my own offspring--help HoneyHaired girl study for Spanish I, send $$$ to CollegeGirl and dutifully write down her suggestions for Christmas gifts. There must not be media input from the outside world at her university since it doesn't appear that she has heard of the "cratering" economy. Still need to clean out the attic closets, but much prefer to procrastinate on that. I have a week off coming up soon. That seems soon enough.


Hubby and I have dance lessons this afternoon. Ballroom dance. We met dancing at Moonlight Gardens at Old Coney though in the years between then and now have lost some of our fleet footwork.
perhaps more like...

I also joined a creative writing class at our newly opened community arts center and am working at revising my work up to now. The other members of the class are working on short stories and novels.I love reading and hearing them read their work, but am totally flabbergasted and envious they they have so many thoughts and words intheir heads. I must have had the method of writing used in charting so thoroughly ingrained into me that I try to distill all my thoughts into small concise pieces--like poetry.

Below is a revision of an earlier work from April 23,2008. See if it works any better for you. The instructor wanted the voice of the bombing victim to be clearer. One student thought the condolences seemed too pat. Those words were from an actual letter that I received, one that gave me great comfort because I knew the writer really knew my brother, so at this point I don't know how willing I am to change his words. We'll see. I can't go to class till next weekend since I work this Sat. and Sun. so there's plenty of time to revise, revise, revise.

Requiem for Two Voices

Zig-zagging with crowds that inhabit my mornings,
I am sorry to learn of Tom's death.
headlong in our daily commutes, grabbing
He and my father, an English teacher at Oak Hills, were
coffees and conversations to go
great friends. I remember his wit, vibrancy,
pell-mell, in and out of doorways, leaving trails of words in our wake.
and passion like it was yesterday.
Buses bellow, stop, and move on. Backpacks and bags push and crush,
I'm sorry for the loss
the sky splits open, an almighty bang, and silence.
of your fossil-collecting uncle, brother, and son.
Sidewalks bubble with breath as smoke and bodies fill my eyes.
My deepest condolences.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Poet Goes to Indiana by Mary Oliver


I'll tell you a half-dozen things
that happened to me
in Indiana
when I went that far west to teach.
You tell me if it was worth it.

I lived in the country
with my dog—
part of the bargain of coming.
And there was a pond
with fish from, I think, China.
I felt them sometimes against my feet.
Also, they crept out of the pond, along its edges,
to eat the grass.
I'm not lying.
And I saw coyotes,
two of them, at dawn, running over the seemingly
unenclosed fields.
And once a deer, but a buck, thick-necked, leaped
into the road just-oh, I mean just, in front of my car—
and we both made it home safe.
And once the blacksmith came to care for the four horses,
or the three horses that belonged to the owner of the house,
and I bargained with him, if I could catch the fourth,
he, too, would have hooves trimmed
for the Indiana winter,
and apples did it,
and a rope over the neck did it,
so I won something wonderful;
and there was, one morning,
an owl
flying, oh pale angel, into
the hay loft of a barn,
I see it still;
and there was once, oh wonderful,
a new horse in the pasture,
a tall, slim being-a neighbor was keeping her there—
and she put her face against my face,
put her muzzle, her nostrils, soft as violets,
against my mouth and my nose, and breathed me,
to see who I was,
a long quiet minute-minutes—
then she stamped feet and whisked tail
and danced deliciously into the grass away, and came back.
She was saying, so plainly, that I was good, or good enough.
Such a fine time I had teaching in Indiana.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"...we shall never surrender..."


Blitz
The Story Of December 29, 1940
by Margaret Gaskin

I love this book and I want everyone to read it although I realize it's not everyone's cup of tea. It is literally one day out of months of nightly bombing raids conducted by the German Luftwaffe which presents a bit of a problem to write as there is no one particular character to follow. As you read, you follow the timeline of the raid itself, which was massive, and individual accounts from many sources.

It took me a bit of time to read, partly because these days I've only been reading at night before bed and it's not too long before I'm asleep. The writing was somewhat difficult for me due to the style of the author. She must have a British style of the wording and the structure and rhythm of the sentences and I would have to re-read to get the gist of it. And the abbreviations...!!! Wartime England... Could not remember those from night to night, but it made no difference to the narrative. It was that interesting. I kept waking my poor sleeping hubby to tell him something I'd just read that was unimagineable. "They dropped over 127 tons of bombs." "There were over 1500 fires in a square mile area and now they've run out of water." When the book moved onto to Churchill's funeral in 1965 I was crying and trying to read the passage to him.(SPOILER ALERT--Winston Churchill is dead.)

So, if I were Queen of the World, I would have certainly EVERY AMERICAN read this book, and I would make Ken Burns', The War, mandatory viewing for high schools. We should know and be grateful for the courage and sacrifices of men and women of many nationalities for the freedoms we enjoy in this country.
When I was in London a million years ago I fell across this ruined church--now a garden. Didn't at the time fully appreciate it's history, although I felt the sacred space contained there and have never forgotten it. Discovered it again as one of Christopher Wren's churches rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666 and lost in the fire the night of December 29, 1940--St. Dunstan's in the East.


Quintessential words: "Keep buggering on."--Winston Churchill

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Jet by Tony Hoagland



Sometimes I wish I were still out
on the back porch, drinking jet fuel
with the boys, getting louder and louder
as the empty cans drop out of our paws
like booster rockets falling back to Earth

and we soar up into the summer stars.
Summer. The big sky river rushes overhead,
bearing asteroids and mist, blind fish
and old space suits with skeletons inside.
On Earth, men celebrate their hairiness,

and it is good, a way of letting life
out of the box, uncapping the bottle
to let the effervescence gush
through the narrow, usually constricted neck.

And now the crickets plug in their appliances
in unison, and then the fireflies flash
dots and dashes in the grass, like punctuation
for the labyrinthine, untrue tales of sex
someone is telling in the dark, though

no one really hears. We gaze into the night
as if remembering the bright unbroken planet
we once came from,
to which we will never
be permitted to return.
We are amazed how hurt we are.
We would give anything for what we have.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Now by Greg Warson



I told you once when we were young that
we would someday meet again.
Now, the years flown past, the letters
unwritten, I am not so certain.

It is autumn. There are toothaches hidden
in this wind, there are those determined
to bring forth winter at any cost.
I am resigned to dark blonde shadows

at stoplights, lost in the roadmaps of leaves
which point in every direction at once.
But I am wearing the shirt you stitched
two separate lifetimes ago. It is old

and falling to ash, yet every button blooms
the flowers of your design. I think of this
and I am happy, to have kissed
your mouth with the force of language,

to have spoken your name at all.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Evensong


A Woman Feeding Gulls
by David Wagoner



They cry out at the sight of her and come flying
Over the tidal flats from miles away,
Sideslipping and wheeling
In sloping gray-and-white interwoven spirals
Whose center is her
And the daily bread she casts downwind on the water
While rising to spread her arms
Like wings for the calling of still more gulls around her,
Their cries intermingling at the end of daylight
With the sudden abundance
Of this bread returning after the hungry night
And the famine of morning
And the endlessly hungry opening and closing
Of wings and arms and shore and the turning sky.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

It's Sunday and the Theme is Trumpets

"Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are -- but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, 'rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation' -- a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself."
John F. Kennedy

The Wild Swans at Coole
by W.B.Yeats

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine and fifty swans.

The nineteenth Autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All’s changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold,
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake’s edge or pool
Delight men’s eyes, when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

art by: angie@northerngirl.net

The Trumpet's Child by Over the Rhine

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Saturday Mornings in CinCity


I (Heart) My Wife
By Darlyn Finch

"I (Heart) My Wife"
the bumper sticker read
in the window of the pickup truck
ahead of me at the red light,
and I burst into tears
for no particular reason
I could explain
to the crossing guard on the corner
or even to the man driving the truck,
who looked quite ordinary,
and did not realize
those four happy words
could rip a woman's heart out
under certain circumstances,
when she's one man's abscessed tooth,
and another's dirty little secret.

Then I stopped to wonder,
as I blew my nose
and wiped my eyes,
whether the man had bought the bumper sticker
at all, or if his wife had perhaps
stuck it there,
in the window behind his head,
as a message to women like me,
whom she surely knows are sitting
at every red light
in every town,
wishing they could one day be
someone's very best thing.


And, while you're driving around town today,
here's a sampling of some hometown favorites,
Over the Rhine, from their new CD, the Trumpet Child.

Friday, October 3, 2008

What the Hell happened to TGIF???



I know it's a crescent moon here in CinCity, but there must be a full moon somewhere shining its craziness over our way...



You know, some people just ain't right.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

For Your Sister, Your Co-Worker, Your Neighbor, Your Best Friend



Susan Love is looking for Healthy women to participate in research and look for an end to breast cancer in OUR lifetimes. One more thing we can do to help the women in our lives that we love.



http://www.armyofwomen.org/


"Breast cancer affects one in eight women during their lives. Breast cancer kills more women in the United States than any cancer except lung cancer. No one knows why some women get breast cancer, but there a number of risk factors. Risks that you cannot change include

* Age - the chance of getting breast cancer rises as a woman gets older
* Genes - there are two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, that greatly increase the risk. Women who have family members with breast or ovarian cancer may wish to be tested.
* Personal factors - beginning periods before age 12 or going through menopause after age 55

Other risks include being overweight, using hormone replacement therapy, taking birth control pills, drinking alcohol, not having children or having your first child after age 35 or having dense breasts.

Symptoms of breast cancer may include a lump in the breast, a change in size or shape of the breast or discharge from a nipple. Breast self-exam and mammography can help find breast cancer early when it is most treatable. Treatment may consist of radiation, lumpectomy, mastectomy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy.

Men can have breast cancer, too, but the number of cases is small."