Friday, December 31, 2010


Going into the fix-'em-up brain factory this morning, hoping the census is low and a few of us can go home early. Or not...

Whatever the day brings, I plan to have a glass of bubbly in hand at midnight yelling out a welcome to the new year and a fare-thee-well to the old one. Wishing you and yours much joy and happiness in 2011.

Resolutions?...I may have to fine tune a bit, but the sentiment above seems okay with me!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

When I Am in the Kitchen

by Jeanne Marie Beaumont

I think about the past. I empty the ice-cube trays
crack crack cracking like bones, and I think
of decades of ice cubes and of John Cheever,
of Anne Sexton making cocktails, of decades
of cocktail parties, and it feels suddenly far
too lonely at my counter. Although I have on hooks
nearby the embroidered apron of my friend's
grandmother and one my mother made for me
for Christmas 30 years ago with gingham I had
coveted through my childhood. In my kitchen
I wield my great aunt's sturdy black-handled
soup ladle and spatula, and when I pull out
the drawer, like one in a morgue, I visit
the silverware of my husband's grandparents.
We never met, but I place this in my mouth
every day and keep it polished out of duty.
In the cabinets I find my godmother's
teapot, my mother's Cambridge glass goblets,
my mother-in-law's Franciscan plates, and here
is the cutting board my first husband parqueted
and two potholders I wove in grade school.
Oh the past is too much with me in the kitchen,
where I open the vintage metal recipe box,
robin's egg blue in its interior, to uncover
the card for Waffles, writ in my father's hand
reaching out from the grave to guide me
from the beginning, "sift and mix dry ingredients"
with his note that this makes "3 waffles in our
large pan" and around that our an unbearable
round stain—of egg yolk or melted butter?—
that once defined a world

please note: art by Vangobot

Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 26

by Kenn Nesbitt

A BB gun.
A model plane.
A basketball.
A ‘lectric train.
A bicycle.
A cowboy hat.
A comic book.
A baseball bat.
A deck of cards.
A science kit.
A racing car.
A catcher's mitt.
So that's my list
of everything
that Santa Claus
forgot to bring.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Toward the Winter Solstice

by Timothy Steele

Although the roof is just a story high,
It dizzies me a little to look down.
I lariat-twirl the rope of Christmas lights
And cast it to the weeping birch's crown;
A dowel into which I've screwed a hook
Enables me to reach, lift, drape, and twine
The cord among the boughs so that the bulbs
Will accent the tree's elegant design.

Friends, passing home from work or shopping, pause
And call up commendations or critiques.
I make adjustments. Though a potpourri
Of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Sikhs,
We all are conscious of the time of year;
We all enjoy its colorful displays
And keep some festival that mitigates
The dwindling warmth and compass of the days.

Some say that L.A. doesn't suit the Yule,
But UPS vans now like magi make
Their present-laden rounds, while fallen leaves
Are gaily resurrected in their wake;
The desert lifts a full moon from the east
And issues a dry Santa Ana breeze,
And valets at chic restaurants will soon
Be tending flocks of cars and SUV's.

And as the neighborhoods sink into dusk
The fan palms scattered all across town stand
More calmly prominent, and this place seems
A vast oasis in the Holy Land.
This house might be a caravansary,
The tree a kind of cordial fountainhead
Of welcome, looped and decked with necklaces
And ceintures of green, yellow , blue, and red.

Some wonder if the star of Bethlehem
Occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed;
It's comforting to look up from this roof
And feel that, while all changes, nothing's lost,
To recollect that in antiquity
The winter solstice fell in Capricorn
And that, in the Orion Nebula,
From swirling gas, new stars are being born.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In Winter

by Michael Ryan

At four o’clock it’s dark.
Today, looking out through dusk
at three gray women in stretch slacks
chatting in front of the post office,
their steps left and right and back
like some quick folk dance of kindness,
I remembered the winter we spent
crying in each other’s laps.
What could you be thinking at this moment?
How lovely and strange the gangly spines
of trees against a thickening sky
as you drive from the library
humming off-key? Or are you smiling
at an idea met in a book
the way you smiled with your whole body
the first night we talked?
I was so sure my love of you was perfect,
and the light today
reminded me of the winter you drove home
each day in the dark at four o’clock
and would come into my study to kiss me
despite mistake after mistake after mistake.

please note: photo art by Desert Vu.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Anniversary on the Island

by W.S.Merwin

The long waves glide in through the afternoon
while we watch from the island
from the cool shadow under the trees where the long ridge
a fold in the skirt of the mountain
runs down to the end of the headland

day after day we wake to the island
the light rises through the drops on the leaves
and we remember like birds where we are
night after night we touch the dark island
that once we set out for

and lie still at last with the island in our arms
hearing the leaves and the breathing shore
there are no years any more
only the one mountain
and on all sides the sea that brought us

Monday, December 20, 2010

Your Luck is About to Change

by Susan Elizabeth Howeby

Ominous inscrutable Chinese news
to get just before Christmas,
considering my reasonable health,
marriage spicy as moo-goo-gai-pan,
career running like a not-too-old Chevrolet.
Not bad, considering what can go wrong:
the bony finger of Uncle Sam
might point out my husband,
my own national guard,
and set him in Afghanistan;
my boss could take a personal interest;
the pain in my left knee could spread to my right.
Still, as the old year tips into the new,
I insist on the infant hope, gooing and kicking
his legs in the air. I won't give in
to the dark, the sub-zero weather, the fog,
or even the neighbors' Nativity.
Their four-year-old has arranged
his whole legion of dinosaurs
so they, too, worship the child,
joining the cow and sheep. Or else,
ultimate mortals, they've come to eat
ox and camel, Mary and Joseph,
then savor the newborn babe.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday in CinCity. The Pass the Zadroga Bill Edition. Please. And Forward It On.

Dear Senator Voinovich,

I am asking you to please reconsider a blind solidarity with the Republican Party and to vote the will of the American people and the citizens of Ohio on the Zadroga, 9/11 Bill now before the Senate.

It is nothing but wrong to disallow compensation and healthcare assistance to the men and women who worked tirelessly at the WTC site for months on end and who now suffer the consequences of the toxic materials distributed there.

Please honor those first responders who served our country in 2001 by assisting them in their time of need. Any more filibustering looks like exactly what it is--a silly, pathetic joke by folks who don't actually do the hard work at hand. I do not recall one senator pulling a dead body out of the rubble during that national tragedy. Your long speeches are not wanted here. Actual financial assistance is required.
Make it work and get it done.

Thank you for your time and thank you for a vote of support for first responders,

FaceBook has a site or you can easily Google your own state senator and be immediately connected to the website and email.

Included is a taste of what political guru Jon Stewart has to say. It ain't pretty, GOP.

Friday, December 17, 2010

TGIF. The Week Off Work Edition.

It's very quiet here this morning. HoneyHaired is at school taking her last exam of the quarter. Art History. Hubby's luxuriating in being back in bed after driving our grrrrl and the neighbor grrrrls to school this morning. It was my turn, but I bartered to drive extra shifts on a morning without so much snow and ice. I was thinking perhaps next summer.

Birds are chattering away at the bird feeders in our front yard and I see glimpses of a fat furry tail scampering across the outside of our living room window. This fall we had a mama and baby squirrel constructing an elaborate nest outside our kitchen window. The baby would come out in the evenings at dinnertime and peek in, lifting his little paw on the screen like a hello. I don't know if it was the workmen who came to fix the gutters or a forewarning of the bitter wind that comes in from that western exposure, but the squirrels moved their home from the back of the house to a front window box where I hope they're more protected.

I can see the lights on in the kitchen of the house across the street and up the hill from us. Soon their two little boys will be bundled in bright red and yellow coats and start whooping their way across the adventure that is their backyard.

I've had this past week off work and have enjoyed every second of staying in my oversized grey sweatpants with the big pockets. I am completely in love with these sweatpants. The week was slightly marred by the fact that my Occupational Health and Safety Workshop class had to give a presentation to the county's 44 fire chiefs about our survey project. And when I say "our group" I mean that out of the 5 of us only Joe and I worked on the Power Point and went to this meeting. I had no idea what to anticipate so I imagined something very formal with all the chiefs in their dress blues and being very judge-y. It, of course, was nothing like that. You're lucky if you can get them off their phones and Blackberry's for half a second. But it is done and I can almost relax.

I still have to work on IRB(Investigative Review Board)forms to modify the study and get approval, but IRB has not switched over the class members from last year to this year and I cannot get on to the protocol. I like to get things done, mostly because I'll forget about them, so this is like a loose thread that keeps flitting in your face every now and again.

Christmas shopping this year has been mostly online. I like to buy local, but haven't really had the time. I don't think I've shared this yet, but HoneyHaired was accepted to college--Urban Planning. That was a big celebration here and a sigh of relief. I wandered all around the east and west campuses of the university a few days ago to find a Tshirt from DAAP(Design, Art, Architecture & Planning)as a stocking stuffer for her. I may have paid more in parking than for the actual Tshirt and I should mark on the calendar the first of many, many checks to them.

So, there's my life in a nutshell these past few weeks. I'm patiently sitting here with my coffee, wrapping paper and tape awaiting FedEx and the mailman to bring boxes and boxes of goodies to me. In the meantime I found a recipe for Caraway Citrus Mustard to give as gifts and to use on pork loin or ham sandwiches. I think I'll try it out and catch up on all The Good Wife episodes I've missed this quarter. Wishing a very blessed Advent to you all...

Walking Beside a Creek

by Ted Kooser

Walking beside a creek
in December, the black ice
windy with leaves,
you can feel the great joy
of the trees, their coats
thrown open like drunken men,
the lifeblood thudding
in their tight, wet boots.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Emily Dickinson's To-Do List

by Andrea Carlisle

Figure out what to wear—white dress?
Put hair in bun
Bake gingerbread for Sue
Peer out window at passersby
Write poem
Hide poem

White dress? Off-white dress?
Feed cats
Chat with Lavinia
Work in garden
Letter to T.W.H.

White dress or what?
Eavesdrop on visitors from behind door
Write poem
Hide poem

Try on new white dress
Gardening—watch out for narrow fellows in grass!
Gingerbread, cakes, treats
Poems: Write and hide them

Embroider sash for white dress
Write poetry
Water flowers on windowsill
Hide everything

Monday, December 6, 2010

Missoula in a Dusty Light

by John Haines

Walking home through the tall
Montana twilight,
leaves were moving in the gutters
and a little dust...

I saw beyond the roofs and chimneys
a cloud like a hill of smoke,
amber and dirty grey. And a wind
began from the street corners
and rutted alleys,
out of year-end gardens, weed lots
and trash bins;
the yellow air
came full of specks and ash,
noiseless, crippled things that crashed
and flew again...
grit and the smell of rain.
And then a steady sound,
as if an army or a council,
long-skirted, sweeping the stone,
were gathering near;
disinherited and vengeful people,
scuffing their bootheels,
rolling tin cans before them.

And quieter still behind them
the voices of birds
and whispering brooms:
"This Land
has bitter roots, and seeds
that crack and spill in the wind..."

I halted under a blowing light
to listen, to see;
and it was the bleak Montana wind
sweeping the leaves and dust
along the street.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010


by Joseph Stroud

Everywhere, everywhere, snow sifting down,
a world becoming white, no more sounds,
no longer possible to find the heart of the day,
the sun is gone, the sky is nowhere, and of all
I wanted in life – so be it – whatever it is
that brought me here, chance, fortune, whatever
blessing each flake of snow is the hint of, I am
grateful, I bear witness, I hold out my arms,
palms up, I know it is impossible to hold
for long what we love of the world, but look
at me, is it foolish, shameful, arrogant to say this,
see how the snow drifts down, look how happy
I am.

please note: photo art by minimanjapan