Saturday, February 28, 2009

...a time to be born, a time to die...

It's early in the day, yet I've already read about two deaths on my small corner of the blogging world. By coincidence we had two deaths yesterday, well, one died after aggressive care was withdrawn and comfort care maintained, and one patient was transferred to in-patient hospice.

We pass a funeral parlor on the way to HoneyHair's dance lesson, its parking lot filled to the edges and cars overflowing up and down the street from friends and neighbors come to comfort.

Another cold and grey rainy day here, the kind of day that keeps grief hovering close to the earth by sheer weight of the cloud cover.

It's a day when sadness could reign.

But it is a day that I am alive to tell the tale and live out loud, so I offer this poem with many blessings for those who have loss and grief in their lives.

In a beautiful blue lagoon on a clear day, a fine sailing ship spreads its brilliant white canvas in a fresh morning breeze and sails out to the open sea. We watch her glide away magnificently through the deep blue and gradually see her grow smaller and smaller as she nears the horizon. Finally, where the sea and sky meet, she slips silently from sight, and someone near me says, 'There, she is gone!'

Gone where? Gone from sight. That is all. She is still as large in mast and hull and sail, still just as able to bear her load. And we can be sure that, just as we say, 'There, she is gone' another says, 'There, she comes!'
Henry Van Dyke

Peace be with you.

please note: art by John Singer Sargent

Saturday in CinCity

What I Believe
by Michael Blumenthal

I believe there is no justice,
but that cottongrass and bunchberry
grow on the mountain.

I believe that a scorpion's sting
will kill a man,
but that his wife will remarry.

I believe that, the older we get,
the weaker the body,
but the stronger the soul.

I believe that if you roll over at night
in an empty bed,
the air consoles you.

I believe that no one is spared
the darkness,
and no one gets all of it.

I believe we all drown eventually
in a sea of our making,
but that the land belongs to someone else.

I believe in destiny.
And I believe in free will.

I believe that, when all
the clocks break,
time goes on without them.

And I believe that whatever
pulls us under,
will do so gently.

so as not to disturb anyone,
so as not to interfere
with what we believe in.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bridal Shower

by George Bilgere

Perhaps, in a distant café,
four or five people are talking
with the four or five people
who are chatting on their cell phones this morning
in my favorite café.

And perhaps someone there,
someone like me, is watching them as they frown,
or smile, or shrug
at their invisible friends or lovers,
jabbing the air for emphasis.

And, like me, he misses the old days,
when talking to yourself
meant you were crazy,
back when being crazy was a big deal,
not just an acronym
or something you could take a pill for.

I liked it
when people who were talking to themselves
might actually have been talking to God
or an angel.
You respected people like that.

You didn't want to kill them,
as I want to kill the woman at the next table
with the little blue light on her ear
who has been telling the emptiness in front of her
about her daughter's bridal shower
in astonishing detail
for the past thirty minutes.

O person like me,
phoneless in your distant café,
I wish we could meet to discuss this,
and perhaps you would help me
murder this woman on her cell phone,

after which we could have a cup of coffee,
maybe a bagel, and talk to each other,
face to face.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Second Lining* for Dummies...and Happy Mardi Gras Y'All

*compliments of Wikipedia: The "first line" of a funeral consisted of the people who were an integral part of the ceremony, such as the members of the club or krewe, or family and friends of the deceased. Usually brightly coloured items such as beads and feathers were offered to the "second line". The "second line" originally referred to people who were attracted to the music. Traditionally such people would follow behind the "first line." (In the final decades of the 20th century it became more common for some such onlookers who joined the procession to mix in or even get ahead of the band and first line, behavior considered a social faux pas by older New Orleanians.)

To follow such processions because one enjoyed the music came to be known as to "second line" or to be "second lining." Uninhibited dancing at processions also came to be called second lining.

"Let's dance, put on your red shoes and dance the blues

Let's dance to the song
They're playin' on the radio

Let's sway
While color lights up your face
Let's sway
Sway through the crowd to an empty space..."--David Bowie

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Few Words About Religion

I was not raised Catholic. My family attended and had been lectured to in Presbytarian churches and for a short time, Unitarian, but I converted while in college once I started going to the old St. George's with my dorm roommate. It fit me like a glove and I felt at home there despite my ignorance of the exotic rituals and prayers everyone else knew by heart.

When I say that I am Catholic I say it with the caveat that I am an American Catholic, which is to say I do not agree with everything that comes out of the Vatican. Sorry. I have no issue with homosexuality. Love is love, and people are lucky and blessed to find it wherever they find it. I believe that priests should be allowed to marry and that women should be accorded more prominent positions within the church structure. There's more, but let's just leave it that I realize the Pope is not doing a little jig everytime I open my mouth and declare I'm Catholic. For the totter to that teeter though, I've been told quite forcibly by my born-again in-laws that I am going straight to hell because I am Catholic. ALL catholics are going to hell--popes, Mother Theresa, the whole lot of us. So there you have it. Stock up on the roll-on deodorant.

Lent is bearing down upon us and Catholics generally give up something for those forty days, the idea being to share in the sacrifice and suffering of Christ. I've been having a difficult time with that for the past many years. I witness a lot of suffering and have some idea of the physical pain Jesus endured in those last hours. So being reminded more of the suffering in this world doesn't feel like the right thing to be doing.

Any ideas out there?? What do all of you do??

I think for lack of a light-bulb moment I'll add in activities and give of my time as opposed to giving up an activity or a food group or a habit I should give up anyway. I could volunteer at the orphanage across the river...Or, I'll try and say the rosary daily or read from A Year with C. S. Lewis, but have the sneaking suspicion that I am tailoring these activities out of what's easiest and the path of least resistance for me. Generally not such a bad way to go, but I can see I have more thinking to do. One thing is for certain though. There will be fish involved. And homemade coleslaw. And chocolate cake. Definitely chocolate cake.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

And A Big Thank You To All Those Right-Brainers Out In LA

Film Noir
by Sherod Santos

A mist had settled over everything.

It was after ten, almost eleven.
A smudgy lamplight overran the curbs
where leaves had started
to gather as well.

Some young people
prowling the neighborhood
were afraid that nothing would happen tonight,
just as nothing
had happened the night before.

Although it was cold,
the boys wore cutoff sweatshirts,
and the girls,
more comfortably dressed for the weather,
kept laughing at things the boys said.

A car turned onto Millbrook Road,
dimmed and then extinguished its lights
before rolling to a stop in the leaves.

When the young people passed,
they banged on the hood with their fists—
the boys, not the girls,
though the girls were amused by this as well—
and frightened the man inside.

Or did they?

The car door opened.
The man stepped out and,
as killers do in Hollywood films,
slipped a hand inside his coat.

And then, in a quiet, almost whisper
of a voice, he said something
none of them could hear,
though how he said it
seemed the thing he said.

Without looking back,
the young people kept on walking,
though faster now,
kicking up leaves as they went.

And when they were finally
far enough away they were sure
the man couldn't hear,
one boy turned and shouted back
"Oh yeah motherfucker,
we're really scared."

And that was that.
One of the girls drew closer to the boy
who'd said those words,
another drew farther away.

Friday, February 20, 2009

An Early Saturday in CinCity Post and Is Oscar Fever a Reason To Call In Sick??

It's my weekend again to work. I made the mistake of listening to the news while I was cooking dinner so not only did I hear the weatherman talking about more snow and a freezing wintery mix--rather gleefully I might add--I got a heads up on some patients Life Flighted our way. We just lost a 23 year old young woman from a "worst-headache-in-her-life" brain bleed. The outside hospital had left her sitting in their ER waiting area for three hours before they CAT scanned her head and saw all the blood. By the time we got her there wasn't much left to save. She may not have made it in any event. A third of all subarachnoid bleeds don't make it to the hospital and, out of those that do, another third don't survive. But, watching the families, especially when they're so young, and having so little to offer them is heart wrenching. Not looking forward to another go round of grief.

Thankfully Oscar's on the way. I make no excuses for it, I love the whole kit and kaboodle of the Academy Awards show. I love the red carpet performances, the gowns, the hair, the jewels, the long and over-drawn thank you speeches. I love Jack in the front row with his shades on, still the cool cat of celebrity-ness. Every year Hubby and I say we're going to see all the contenders for the next year's show. Every year we don't. What can I say? Life happens.

On Sunday night we will be rooting for our favorite movie, Slumdog Millionaire. Loved it from beginning to end. Especially the end. Life doesn't get much better than singing and dancing in unison in a train station. May it one day happen for you.

Happy Weekend.

Walking a True Line

by Andrew Hudgins

Red lights whirling behind her in the sun,
a cop ordered me off the trestle. Why?
I asked, squinting. I knew what she'd say.
I loved this shortcut to my bad job, loved walking
above the street and then above the river,
mincing across the slick, splintering ties
—a true line against a hard blue sky—
teasing a fear of heights with a love of rivers.
The trains don't use it anymore, I called
down to the voice that yelled what authority
must yell: "Get down anyway!" What
a surety the State was—Mom, with a holstered
nine millimeter.
That evening, as I trudged,
obeisant, below the trestle, giving Mom
time to forget, the creosoted posts,
oozing tar, shuddered like oracles.
Above, unseen, a lugubrious chugging mass,
passed over, painstakingly almost half-aware,
as gods proceed when they think they love us,
we who are in this world to be swept away.

please note: photo by Donncha O Caoimh

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How Has It Come To Pass That I Am Not Living In Garnet Hill?

I came home from work last night and found my old friend, the Garnet Hill catalogue, waiting for me on the hallway steps. How has it come to pass that I am not living in that utopia?

That should be me searching out the "so many ways to celebrate spring"...reveling in "the versatility of cashmere", certainly "replenishing my wardrobe" and "refreshing my home."

These lovely, lovely people have no access to radios or televisions and have never heard of an economy--cratering or otherwise. I belong with my people. They are my tribe.

Don't be a silly ass like my husband and talk to me of marketing. I know these folks exist. Right there, on page 7., one of my could-be-best-friends is standing on the doorframe of her convertible with her big old crazy floppy hat and a fully, scrumptiously packed picnic basket in the back seat. She's waiting for me to arrive with the brown bag full of refreshing bottles of clear mountain spring water before we drive off to adventures unknown.

They show pictures of their golden haired children

and vacation photos from "Forget-me-not,Tidy-tips, and Goldenbush." You can't make that stuff up.

I think I must have a lie-down and try to wrap my brain around all of this.
Something, very obviously, has gone awry. I miss my homies.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Coming To Town. Cannot Wait.

History of Desire

by Tony Hoagland

When you're seventeen, and drunk
on the husky, late-night flavor
of your first girlfriend's voice
along the wires of the telephone

what else to do but steal
your father's El Dorado from the drive,
and cruise out to the park on Driscoll Hill?
Then climb the county water tower

and aerosol her name in spraycan orange
a hundred feet above the town?
Because only the letters of that word,
DORIS, next door to yours,

in yard-high, iridescent script,
are amplified enough to tell the world
who's playing lead guitar
in the rock band of your blood.

You don't consider for a moment
the shock in store for you in 10 A.D.,
a decade after Doris, when,
out for a drive on your visit home,

you take the Smallville Road, look up
still scorched upon the reservoir.
This is how history catches up—

by holding still until you
bump into yourself.
What makes you blush, and shove
the pedal of the Mustang

almost through the floor
as if you wanted to spray gravel
across the features of the past,
or accelerate into oblivion?

Are you so out of love that you
can't move fast enough away?
But if desire is acceleration,
experience is circular as any

Indianapolis. We keep coming back
to what we are—each time older,
more freaked out, or less afraid.
And you are older now.

You should stop today.
In the name of Doris, stop.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mary Bly

by James Wright

I sit here, doing nothing, alone, worn out by long winter.
I feel the light breath of the newborn child.
Her face is smooth as the side of an apricot,
Eyes quick as her blond mother's hands.
She has full, soft, red hair, and as she lies quiet
In her tall mother's arms, her delicate hands
Weave back and forth.
I feel the seasons changing beneath me,
Under the floor.
She is braiding the waters of air into the plaited manes
Of happy colts.
They canter, without making a sound, along the shores
Of melting snow.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I'm Gonna Love You Like Nobody's Loved You Come Rain Or Come Shine

excert from A Line-storm Song
by Robert Frost

The line-storm clouds fly tattered and swift,
The road is forlorn all day,
Where a myriad snowy quartz stones lift,
And the hoof-prints vanish away.
The roadside flowers, too wet for the bee,
Expend their bloom in vain.
Come over the hills and far with me,
And be my love in the rain.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th...psych :>)

and on Valentine's Day going to see the ballet, Peter Pan. Cause nothing says love like a pirate and his crocodile.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"...for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

The Bat
by Jane Kenyon

I was reading about rationalism,
the kind of thing we do up north
in early winter, where the sun
leaves work for the day at 4:15

Maybe the world is intelligible
to the rational mind;
and maybe we light the lamps at dusk
for nothing...

Then I heard the wings overhead.

The cats and I chased the bat
in circles—living room, kitchen,
pantry, kitchen, living room...
At every turn it evaded us

like the identity of the third person
in the Trinity: the one
who spoke through the prophets,
the one who astounded Mary
by suddenly coming near.

please note: art by Henry Ossawa Tanner

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Trust Me. I Was Not the One Left Standing.

Got my ass kicked for two days by an 80 year old man in 4 point soft restraints. What's next on the agenda is my heating pad and a bucketful of Advil.

"...Ali's got a left, Ali's got a right;
If he hits you once, you're asleep for the night." Good night all.

Monday, February 9, 2009

On the Back Porch

by Dorianne Laux

The cat calls for her dinner.
On the porch I bend and pour
brown soy stars into her bowl,
stroke her dark fur.
It's not quite night.
Pinpricks of light in the eastern sky.
Above my neighbor's roof, a transparent
moon, a pink rag of cloud.
Inside my house are those who love me.
My daughter dusts biscuit dough.
And there's a man who will lift my hair
in his hands, brush it
until it throws sparks.
Everything is just as I've left it.
Dinner simmers on the stove.
Glass bowls wait to be filled
with gold broth. Sprigs of parsley
on the cutting board.
I want to smell this rich soup, the air
around me going dark, as stars press
their simple shapes into the sky.
I want to stay on the back porch
while the world tilts
toward sleep, until what I love
misses me, and calls me in.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

10 Things I Love That Start With the Letter E

Game imported from Sweet Annie at Blissful Bohemian. Name ten things you love that begin with a specific letter. In my case, the letter E. So here goes:

1. Well, first of all there's elephants. Who doesn't love those cute little faces??

And what's not to love? Elephants are actually a lot like humans. They laugh and cry. They grieve over their dead. They play games with each other and have fantastic memories so they can even remember the rules and not go to bed mad.

2. Then there's Engelbert Humperdinck, who I don't actually love and his singing's just on this side of okay, but I do love his name.

3. I luuuuuuv eggs, deviled.
Nothing fancy, just classic.

Best Basic Deviled Eggs

6 eggs, hard cooked and peeled
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
3/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar
pinch of salt (optional)
fresh ground black pepper (optional)
smoked paprika (optional)

Cut eggs in half. Arrange egg whites cut side up on a serving plate and put the yolks in a small mixing bowl. Mash yolks with fork then stir in mayonnaise, mustard, and vinegar. Mash and stir all ingredients together well. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired. Spoon a little bit of the mixture into each egg white half, dividing mixture as evenly as possible between the eggs. Sprinkle eggs with smoked paprika if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yield: 12 deviled eggs

4. Mr. Ed.

"A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
And no one can talk to a horse of course
That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed."

5. I love Eeyore.
"I'm not asking anybody," said Eeyore. "I'm just telling everybody. We can look for the North Pole, or we can play 'Here we go gathering Nuts in May' with the end part of an ants' nest. It's all the same to me."

6. Love the movie, The English Patient,

although I love the book more.
"...The desert could not be claimed or owned—it was a piece of cloth carried by winds, never held down by stones, and given a hundred shifting names before Canterbury existed, long before battles and treaties quilted Europe and the East…. All of us, even those with European homes and children in the distance, wished to remove the clothing of our countries. It was a place of faith. We disappeared into landscape..."

7. I love Albert Einstein.

8. I love and adore eiderdown.

9. I love Chapter 3 from the Book of Ecclesiates.

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace."

10. The end.

Thanks Annie:>)

Saturday in CinCity

It's not a rainy day, but sure feels like one with the sun peeking out from grey skies and water rushing down the streets. I've been driving Miss HoneyHaired around town and across the river. Saturday's a good day for lessons and since Hubby works the weekends it's "GRLZ ONLY." Our own Gruesome Twosome Club today with no boyz allowed, no makeup. Work-out clothes required.

One of the college stations is on the radio playing a great version of Trouble in Mind and HoneyHaired is telling me about a new song she likes--Are we Humans Or Are We Dancers.

We discovered a fantabulous diner across the river, The Pepper Pod. Breakfast 24/7. The kind of place where you gotta pay when you order if you're there between 11pm and 6 in the morning. HoneyHaired got the Hungry Man's Special with extra bacon and hash browns, although goetta is an option. Smoking's allowed in the restaurants across the river, and I must admit I enjoy seeing people still being able to sit down at a lunch counter ordering a cup of coffee and having a cigarette. The waitresses all smoked. They're of an age to have a pretty significant cough with it, but what the hell.

We weren't there thirty minutes without hearing at least four people talk to the cashier about being out of work now. Company closed down, got laid off, got fired. She said,"There's been men coming in wearing suits wantin' to know if there's any positions open. Cooks, dishwashers, anything." It worries me. I've heard the economic pundits say that it's going to get worse before it gets better and I believe them. I've heard their tone before only it was me saying it to a patient's family and I knew how much worse things could get. So, I believe them. And, I left too big of a tip. Maybe that can trickle down, too, with the rest of this melting snow.

"...Trouble in mind, I'm blue But I won't be blue always, 'Cause that sun is gonna shine in my back door someday..."

please note: art by Peter Brown, music by the incomparable Aretha Franklin

Friday, February 6, 2009

Uncle Jim

by Peter Meinke

What the children remember about Uncle Jim
is that on the train to Reno to get divorced
so he could marry again
he met another woman and woke up in California.
It took him seven years to untangle that dream
but a man who could sing like Uncle Jim
was bound to get in scrapes now and then:
he expected it and we expected it.

Mother said, It's because he was the middle child,
and Father said, Yeah, where there's trouble
Jim's in the middle.

When he lost his voice he lost all of it
to the surgeon's knife and refused the voice box
they wanted to insert. In fact he refused
almost everything. Look, they said,
it's up to you. How many years
do you want to live? and Uncle Jim
held up one finger.
The middle one.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Life On Mars

Hubby and I love this television show and, for those of us of a certain age, it resonates deeply. 1973 is for me a meaningful year. A marker point.

It's the year I graduated from high school, the year I started college, the year United States troops pulled out of Vietnam and the year the Watergate hearings began.

The American Indian Movement and their supporters seized the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota. The World Trade Center became the tallest building in the world and Secretariat won the Triple Crown. 1973 was three years before I married my high school honey, and six years before I found myself divorced.

The cars, the clothes, the sideburns are so familiar that I can't believe they're gone now. So I find myself wandering through the sets and scenes of this show and looking around the sights as a tourist this time around, not as a native of the time. I hear the chorus of a long forgotten song from a car radio or bar's juke box and search for the street signs that might have helped me to navigate my way.

Please note: Fountain Square, 1970's. Sargeant Shriver at podium. Behind him, John Wiethe, Tom Luken, Theodore Berry.

Damn. Foiled Again.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bright Sun After Heavy Snow

by Jane Kenyon

A ledge of ice slides from the eaves,
piercing the crusted drift. Astonishing
how even a little violence
eases the mind.

In this extreme state of light
everything seems flawed: the streaked
pane, the forced bulbs on the sill
that refuse to bloom...A wad of dust
rolls like a desert weed
over the drafty floor.

Again I recall a neighbor's
small affront — it rises in my mind
like the huge banks of snow along the road:
the plow, passing up and down all day,
pushes them higher and higher...

The shadow of smoke rising from the chimney
moves abruptly over the yard.
The clothesline rises in the wind. One
wooden pin is left, solitary as a finger;
it, too, rises and falls.

please note: photo by Jon Morris

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Random Bits of Fluff Floating By

The bad news-- in the worst snowstorm of a generation, London has NO snow plows. The Good news--you'd still be in foggy London Town.

Not a big fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but these two men could totally change my mind. Uhmmmmm...I am entranced by fancy footwork.

And, for anyone who might have been pondering deeper questions in this big blizzard we call life... I am Boggle.

Come on. You know you want to take the test--What Board Game Are You?
You Are Boggle

You are an incredibly creative and resourceful person.
You're able to dig deep and think outside the box to get things done.
You are a non linear thinker. You don't like following directions
You draw your inspiration from the strangest places sometimes. You're constantly inspired.

Yeah, like I'll be putting that on my resume and request to transfer.

CollegeGrrrl and CollegeTown just got their electricity back on yesterday although the rest of the state is still without power and, yes, it is snowing again.

There Will Come Soft Rains
by Sara Teasdale

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Well, Alrighty Then. 6 More Weeks It Is. Kinda Testy Aren't We??

from The Writers' Almanac:
"Today we celebrate three holidays, all of them from the same source.

February 2nd is a "cross-quarter" day in the solar calendar, which means that it falls exactly between a solstice and an equinox.

It's the ancient Celtic celebration of Imbolc, in honor of Brigit, the goddess of fire, poetry, healing, and childbirth. Brigit brings the healing power of the sun back to the world on Imbolc, a day that carries the first promise of spring. Imbolc comes from the Old Irish i mbolg, meaning "in the belly," because this is the time when ewes became pregnant to deliver spring lambs.

The Christians took over the Celtic celebration and made February 2nd into a Christian holiday, Candlemas Day. Candlemas Day celebrates the presentation of Jesus at the Temple exactly 40 days after Christmas.

There are many old sayings about today — about the emergence of animals from their winter dens and omens that predict the season ahead. One English saying goes:

If Candlemas day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
But if Candlemas day bring clouds and rain,
Winter is gone and won't come again.

There was a tradition in many European countries of watching animals — especially badgers — to see how they acted on this day. If they returned to their dens, it meant that there was still a long winter ahead.

German immigrants in Pennsylvania found that there weren't a lot of badgers in America, but there were a lot of groundhogs, so the holiday evolved into Groundhog Day. The first reference to Groundhog Day is from 1841, in the diary of a storekeeper in Morgantown, Pennsylvania. He wrote: 'Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks' nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.'"