Jun 30 2010

spoonful of sugar

An afternoon that swallows time. Even when I beg, there is
no more. Deadlines and desideritas, my life.

I take myself too seriously. Ponder things that can’t be solved. Worship silence and sanctuary when there is none. Too many moments pass while I stare out my window.

A garden that grows without me. A tale that was not true.
A mystery that has no answer. My life.

A series of situations. A corner that keeps my secrets. A broom
that sweeps almost nothing clean. My life.

Some days overwhelm me. Some days wait to be taken.
Some days sing songs that only I can hear. Some days I sit on
the floor and weep. This is not my imagination.

A forest that leaves light unspoken. A tree that whispers platitudes. A fern that grows in shadow. My life.

A sunbeam filled with dancers. A teardrop left unclaimed.
A glimpse of mediocrity. My life.

Dreams that claim my sleep the way lovers claim their hearts.
Things I cannot have lined up before me. Things I do not want
stand next in line.

A comfort that eludes me. A melody of words that have no tune.
A signature I do not recognize. My life.

A smile on my lips, of strawberries and wine.

A summer day that does not end.

I stand here, waiting.

Jun 28 2010

it comes and it goes

A moment of clarity so much clearer than I would have liked.

Seeing things that I could have done without seeing. Speaking words that make no sense to anyone but me. Laughing at bad jokes and hard comments and all this party banter. It makes my face hurt.

I would much rather be home, sitting in my garden, even if that means there are mosquitoes.

And then, later, I am home, in my garden, and there are mosquitoes, and black flies, and my funny little kitten who keeps rooting in my heart, growing deep into a place I did not know was there.

There is that risk, again. We take it, all of us, each time we love. Knowing what could happen.

It cannot be helped.

Like these damned mosquitoes. I just want to sit here. They just want to eat. But I am not in the mood for compromise.

There is another cat here, the neighbor’s. I’d like to adopt her, too.
I know she is hungry. I feed her, sometimes. But no more cats, no more. And she is theirs, not ours, although so was my Pepe, when he showed up here, half-dead. I didn’t feel like compromise then, either, although I sort of got permission before I brought him inside. At least I told them he was here. They did not ask for him back.

My mockingbird has learned duck. It is hysterical. Quack quack.
A big cosmic joke, the mockingbird. One of my favorites. Evolution is supposed to happen for a reason. But what is the reason for the mockingbird’s talent? And what about fireflies? What is the reason for the glow, is there one? Or are they just pretty?

Songs float through my mind these days. Lines I remember and don’t know why. Just now, “This is not my beautiful life.” Well, this can’t be anything but my life, I am the only one in it. This is my life. And it is beautiful.

The cats are playing: hide and seek, you can’t catch me, this is my house. Once survival is taken care of, something else kicks in: the need to be entertained.

I just want to sit here and listen. This mockingbird that has learned to quack. It makes me smile, I sit here by myself with a silly grin on my face. The air is oppressive. Humidity 100%. There is no breeze.

Nature doesn’t care what I think, or say or do or observe. She just marches on, in one direction. Nature never asks why.

But still, these cats.

They play.

Jun 26 2010

training wheels

Forty-seven is a strange age, not exactly old, but not really young, either. And of course, that is why it’s called middle age.

But with this age, this middleness, come revelations, realizations, determination.

Life speeds up as you get older, but your body slows down.

I want to run more and more and more, but am able to do so less and less and less. I want to stay up very late to finish a book, but my eyes start to droop around midnight. I want to spring clean my house all in one day and have energy left over for dinner. I want to stay outside playing until it grows dark and someone calls me in.
I want more. More time.

I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, I just want a newer bicycle. One without any rust or scars or missing spokes. One that lets you pedal backwards when you want to, in case you missed something. I want to understand life before it’s too late, while I still have time to enjoy it. I want to appreciate, while I still have the strength to pedal.

I have wobbled and wiggled for 47 years, trying to maintain my balance. Now I think I am ready to pare things down, remove that extra set of wheels, pick up speed. I want to fly down a hill with the wind in my hair, or coast past my house with my hands waving high in the sky.

I want to let go. Of things, emotions, barriers, clutter. All that clumsy baggage that keeps me from gliding along, bumps and potholes that make for a very rough ride. I want the life that I have and the life that I want to become the very same thing. I want to ride into the sunset, keep going all night, and circle the sun at dawn. I want to race time with one eye on the prize.

I have no illusions, I know I will fall. Plenty of times.

But that’s okay, I plan to get right back up.

Unless, of course, I break a hip.

And then I’m going to cry like a baby.

Jun 24 2010


You can’t write about silence because it doesn’t exist. It pretends to exist, we talk about it, we yearn for it, we aspire to it, but life is never truly silent. There is always something making sound, your heart beating, your lungs breathing, there is always a whisper of life, somewhere.

My mind is never quiet. I have never been able to meditate, to completely clear my thoughts, there is always some phrase or idea that raises its hand and waves for my attention. I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing, although sometimes I do wish that they would all just sit down and read for a while. Or take a little nap.

But mostly I like that my mind moves in circles, thoughts flowing in and out and around, and then back again, sometimes when I least expect them. I like that a line for a poem can just appear, on a page that my brain has already printed. I like that words are perpetual, always there, my constant companions.

Yes, peace and quiet sound really nice, I wish for both fairly often, but in truth I would probably get bored.

I like to stay up, alone, when everyone else is sleeping, I like the way the house sounds when my husband and son are here and asleep, it is a different sound than when I am home by myself. Even though I can’t really hear anything, I can sense their presence within the quiet. Perhaps it is the peace of their sleep that I feel, palpable evidence of their dreams.

Sound travels further at night, and our dreams entwine themselves around what we hear and tell us the story of that noise, this whisper. They (the proverbial they) say that dreams don’t really play out as stories, that they are just flashes in our brains, synapses, individual thoughts or images that our mind strings together later, and then adds meaning. I’m not sure I believe that.

I think dreams are stories that need to be told.

Poems are emotions that struggle to exist.

Words and images are the conduits.

Silence can exist, in a vacuum. But I am not there.

Jun 22 2010

synapse no. 1

you drove past me once without waving.

i smiled anyway.


Jun 20 2010

go fish

My sister took this picture of my dad last year, and we both love it because, as we say, “It’s classic Deetz.” Somehow, in this picture, I can see him as a little boy, sitting there just like that.

We all call my father Deetz these days, when my son was little he started calling him D.T., no one is really quite sure why, but it stuck, and over the years it evolved into Deetz. Now everyone that is any part of the family calls him that.

I have a lot of memories of fishing with my dad. When I was a kid he would load all four of us into the station wagon and off we would go, probably giving my mom a much-needed break. My brothers and sister and I caught a lot of sunfish in those days. Once, just once, I caught a bass. And I was so excited, but then so disappointed when I had to throw it back, because it wasn’t bass season. Of course, someone else always had to put the worm on the hook for me, my dad did it, mostly, or sometimes my brother, but I didn’t ask him very often because he also liked to torture me about my fear of worms and would usually dangle one in my face first.

Once, we went fishing after a long rainy spell, and the big old station wagon got stuck in the mud. I mean really stuck. It took hours to get out of there, all four of us pushing and laughing hysterically and then getting mad and then laughing some more as the wheels just kept spinning and we would move an inch or two, and by the time we got home we were all covered in mud, and that was not a good day for my mother.

Another time, we went ice fishing. I don’t remember catching any fish that day, but I remember that for some reason my brother decided to fill his hole back in with chunks of ice right before we left. And me, being the klutz that I always was, immediately forgot that hole was there, and as we were walking back to the car, my leg slipped right down into it. My dad instinctively grabbed for me, catching me by the hood of my coat, and pulling me back out almost instantaneously, so I was saved from a complete dunking, or worse. But, oh my, was I cold. We had to go to my grandmother’s house, which was closer than ours, so I could get out of my wet clothes. Nobody was very happy with my brother that day.

Sometimes just a few of us went, sometimes it was just me and my dad. And as I got older, a lot of times I didn’t even fish, I took my book and sat near him and read while he fished. For some reason, I love those memories as much if not more than the ones I have of actually catching fish. We didn’t talk much, you have to be quiet when you are fishing, but we sat there, together, each doing the thing we loved best.

My dad is the most patient man I have ever met. He is quiet and sweet and selfless. For my entire life he has given himself to his family. He has always, always been there for me. Putting worms on my hook, driving me to the mall when I was a teenager, and then sitting there on a bench while my friends and I shopped, helping me fix anything in my house that has ever been broken, giving me advice when I have asked for it, and just being there, silently, when all I needed was that.

My dad has always been there to grab my hood and pull me up.

My dad is my hero.

Happy Father’s Day, Deetz.

Jun 18 2010

the eye of the beholder

A weed is only a weed because somebody else says so.

A weed is a flower with a bad reputation.

A weed has a remarkable ability to adapt.

A weed has very strong roots.

A weed is not afraid to be scattered by the wind.

A weed has great tolerance for adverse conditions.

A weed will flower at all cost.

A weed is doing its best to survive.

I’m pretty sure I could be a weed.

Jun 16 2010

on getting all my
ducks in a row

or, when life overwhelms, run away. And yes, I know these aren’t ducks, they are geese, but sometimes a girl gets to take a little poetic license, doesn’t she?

I seem to have depleted my batteries recently, and I just wasn’t running properly. I knew this, but couldn’t seem to break the cycle. So when my mother-in-law asked if I wanted to head up to the Thousand Islands with her and my sister-in-law and niece for a girls overnighter, of course my first thought was “I can’t do that, I don’t have time,” but then my second thought was, “Don’t be stupid.”

So I said yes and dropped everything, knowing it would all still be there, on the floor, when I got back. I never do things like that, but I knew that I really, really needed this one.

And off I went, and for the next day and a half I did only silly, relaxing, fun things. I giggled a little, I guffawed a lot. It helps when you have a silly eighteen-year-old with you and she does some really funny, crazy things. I also read a whole book. (Okay, I had started it the night before). It wasn’t even that great, but I lived within its covers for hours and hours anyway and that was its own little escape within my escape.

I never really used to believe in burnout, or at least I never believed it would happen to me, but lately I have begun to grasp the concept. Just in time, though, I am also starting to grasp the concept that no matter how much you have to do, every so often you need to simply stop everything and have some fun. Fun for the sake of fun.

They kept asking me what I wanted to do, and I kept saying, “I don’t care, I am just so happy to not HAVE to do anything.” But mostly I was thinking that I’d like to be sitting in a chair with my feet up, reading. We walked the little towns, we shopped, we ate, we went sightseeing. And then, finally, we sat in the hotel room and I read while they watched their shows  (there were a lot of them). Basically, I didn’t do anything I didn’t want to do the whole trip.

Well, except pay $12 for a friendship bracelet that is essentially a piece of string with four beads strung on it. I almost refused, I thought it was ridiculously expensive, but we were all supposed to get one, together. So I bit my tongue and plunked down my cash, and now there it is on my wrist.

But it might just end up being the best twelve dollars I ever spent, because every time I look at it now, I think of how hard we all laughed at 11:30 that night when my niece went to take a shower and was scared by a tiny little spider and dropped her glasses in the toilet. And she was appalled and grossed out and there was some gagging and it was just so funny and we laughed until we snorted because she is the kind of girl who would rather throw her glasses away than fish them out of the toilet.

And then, of course, we were on a roll, and we laughed hysterically for the next hour and probably kept everyone in all the rooms near us awake, but we just couldn’t stop and we didn’t stop and we all fell asleep with smiles on our faces.

And during the night I dreamed silly dreams

while all those things I left scattered

at home on the floor

moved themselves back into place.

Jun 14 2010

the long and the short of it

is that my cup is full, it is overflowing, and I keep pouring new things in. Life is short but the days are long, sometimes too long, and I find myself wishing them away, wishing for this one, or that one, to be over.

My days are consumed with holes and surprises, moments of passion, fits of anger, tears of joy, and a whole lot of busywork in between. Life is filled with life and I live it to the hilt, not wanting to miss a single thing and why should I, why would I, when there is so much to experience?

It makes me think of that Emperor, Joseph II who supposedly told Mozart his music had “too many notes.” Of course, he was so very wrong, Mozart used exactly the right amount of notes, his music comes as close to perfection as is possible, but this life, my life, seems filled with too many notes, too many choices, there is always something else and something else and something else.

I’m not saying it’s all bad, in many ways choices are good, way better than not having enough. These days we can work where we choose, marry or not as we choose, and pick from the entire pond of fish if we want to. We can eat any fruit or vegetable we want at any time of year because it is always available, we can buy anything we want at any hour of the day because the internet makes it possible, we can exchange thoughts and ideas with people on the other side of the globe, at any time, if we so desire. It makes my mind spin.

But are we frozen in place by all these choices? Have you ever been behind someone who couldn’t decide on a flavor of ice cream and stood there forever and ever? Do you ever find yourself buying much more than you need because you can’t decide between this one or that one? Do you ever have a day when you have so much to do, but get nothing accomplished because you walk in circles?

Are we getting out of tune with our own survival, with the rhythm of life that our bodies want to follow even if technology makes it unnecessary? We exercise at scheduled hours if we exercise at all, we buy more things than we have room for in our homes, we eat food that is bad for us because it is there, everywhere we look.

We keep expanding our own tiny universe, one item, one idea, at a time, until we can no longer see the big picture. All these smaller things, these superfluous notes, block our vision. All we see are these choices, the ones we pick, as well as the ones we do not.

I keep trying to find balance, but I flounder in the chaos, one day thinking I thrive on it, discovering the next I most assuredly do not.

I want my life to be a symphony filled with exactly the right number of notes. Not one too few or one too many. I look past all the choices, filter the detritus of technology and convenience and materialism that fills my line of sight, trying to find my perfect pitch. I want to be a melody, not a cacophony.

But the long and the short of it

is that I’m having a really hard time

coming up with the bridge.

There are simply too many notes.

Jun 12 2010

lessons I’ve learned from
{cats} about life

Sunbeams make the best mattresses.

Being top dog isn’t all that.

Claws come in really handy sometimes.

You can make a toy out of almost anything.

There is nothing like a fireplace in winter.

Curiosity doesn’t usually kill you,
but it will get you in trouble sometimes.

Speed is underrated.

It is better to be the cat than the mouse.

A warm lap is a worthwhile quest.

A nice bath right before bed helps you sleep.

It’s better to eat small meals throughout the day.

Sometimes you have to share, and sometimes
you can get away with taking what you want.

Emotions can be understood in any language.

It’s okay to expose your belly to those you trust.

When you are happy, sing, when you are mad, grumble.

Life is one long series of meals and naps.

A little catnip every now and then never hurt anyone.

When you are scared and you want to look tough,
give yourself big hair.


P.S. Doesn’t he look like he is posing for a school portait?