Friday, May 31, 2013

Sugar Therapy

It's been a challenging week, with eruptions/explosions on the homefront; while at work, 1/3 of our staff (which = one person) at home sick with "intestinal flow" (and I think he actually said "flu" but "flow" seemed so much more apt), and then a turbulence of the heart. Ah, the heart. One would think that by this age, we'd be so over these kinds of fusses. Well, we aren't. Welcome to singlehood at 56.

But I walked in the door tonight to a heaven-sent scent, and my son was in the kitchen bent over a bowl of something pink and creamy, and a single-layer chocolate cake was in the oven, nearing that perfect state of sponginess. We each had a slice, while it was still warm (raspberry cream cheese frosting!), and goddamn that was the best cake I've ever eaten. (He realizes that this is a high compliment, as I consider cake to be a gift of the gods.)

Not a complete cure, but probably the best balm possible on a lousy day. How did he know?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


photo courtesy of Utah State University Cooperative Extension

Where bracken ferns grow thickly, if you are nimble enough (and probably small enough) you can scoot on your back until you are thick in the middle of them, underneath their lace, and you'll find that you have a kind of private room there, and you'll be invisible, because no one will ever look for you under a canopy of bracken ferns, as it is the most unlikely of places to linger.

Monday, May 27, 2013

I've been making so little noise here, one might begin to get concerned.

Sometimes silence descends, in its various forms, and these days it's blog-silence. The poetry is still flowing, in spits and furts, but flowing nonetheless. The landscape here grows lush and full, over-leafed, over-greened, and today wetwetwet, hours of wetwetwet. Too lazy to walk to work in the rain, those slosh-footed urban blocks.

Out with poet-friends tonight, an informal gathering to read our work & talk about our work, less structured than my longtime writer's group. Bits of music: guitar and voice. Wine. A good way to end the holiday that was not a holiday for me, worked a full get-it-done day.

One minute at a time.

Friday, May 24, 2013


To correct:
I have five sisters;
I am one of six sisters.

Unremarkable, except —

This: an ordinary pink rose.
I don't know it's variety except hybrid tea.
And unremarkable, except for the fact
that every spring now for 26 years,
when I smell this first of many blooms,
I think immediately of sitting on the couch
with my five sisters, when we all fit on a single
couch at the same time!

Every year, it's the same.
A scent like apples still on the branch,
and lemons. And there we are,
laughing, elbowing, making room for each other.
And there was a time when we all fit.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Keeping this in mind....

When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it's bottomless, that it doesn't have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space.”
Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living


I want to be looking at this flower....

and listening to this....

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Meat Pie, Bittersweet

I just finished the last slice of a terrific beef pie my son R. made. Now, it's been a long week already, and it's only Tuesday: turbulence in and around. But as I put the last bite into my mouth (I made him save me one last piece), I had a moment of thinking, this is the perfect food. It was a deeply soul-satisfying, primal-animal comfort, all wrapped up in yolk-glazed pastry. Even sitting alone at my table for dinner, the sense of satisfaction and completeness was profound. Life. Is. Good.

R. has a Culinary Arts Degree, but because of multiple health issues, can't work in the field. The meds that could possibly enable him to work a kitchen line would most likely also cause his death, by heart attack. He's been unemployed — except for some seasonal umpire work — for over two years. Unemployment depleted. Savings: bye bye. He's 27, intelligent, talented, capable, and financially supported by me. It's a struggle, and I get angry and frustrated with him far too often. Last winter he started back in school in a worker retraining program, and then was rear-ended in a collision, got a concussion, and landed immobile for two months.

Not much has changed since then. He's applying for entry-level jobs, battling depression, and cooking for Mom. Changing the litter box. Doing the odd job at the glass factory.

When he was in his first year of cooking school, we had our run-ins re: the kitchen. That year, on Christmas Eve, I was preparing a traditional (for my family) Christmas Eve dinner: French Canadian Tourtiere, a pork & beef & potato meat pie. It's a dish that is much beloved by my boys, and is often fought-over as a Christmas morning breakfast treat.

But that particular Christmas Eve, R. came into the kitchen, observed very briefly what I was doing, and snatched the wooden spoon from my hand.

"Hey! What the hell are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm just trying to introduce classic French cooking techniques into this kitchen!" He answered.

After an impassioned spate of back-and-forth, I ordered him to leave My Kitchen.

And he did.

And the tourtiere was, as always, fabulous.

As expected, R. mellowed as the years passed. A few nights ago, when he was making the gravy for this current meat pie, he asked me to taste it, wanted to know what was missing.

I was quite taken aback: R. was asking me for cooking advice? I mean, we've collaborated on a number of recipes, but he's never asked me, outright, to identify something missing/needed in one of his creations.

Needless to say, I was astonished, and suggested a trickle of Worcestershire, or even a splash of soy sauce to deepen the complexity of flavors.

"Oh! Yeah!" He said. And did it. And it worked.

Which brings me to this evening, and my dinner, and my one moment of gratitude, of goodness, of appreciation for this one small thing which turned my week — early though it still is — into a good one.

Of course, what would make it an exceptionally good week would be for R. to get a call about a job, any job. Or for the pharmaceutical gods to alchemize an ADD med that isn't a stimulant, that actually works.

Lacking that, I'll savor these last flavors of R.'s meat pie, and that he asked me for some honest input. It wasn't tourtiere, but it was a damn fine pie.

And conclude with the fact that life is indeed good, could be better, but this, ladies and gentlemen, is what we've got.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Rustic Imprints

Shameless self-promotion in the interest of staying afloat:
I'm launching a new side-gig called Rustic Imprints, mixed-media pieces using original imagery photo-transfer onto birch boards, suitable for framing. They measure 9x12" and are signed by the artist. (That would be me.)

Currently working on a line of dress photos. My younger sister wore this dress, at the age of 6, in our sister Ann's wedding (flower girl). All lovingly stitched by our mom.

Each piece is given a girl-name, this is titled "Kathleen", after my sis. can be yours for $125.
I ship.

(Don't have a paypal account set up yet, but it's to come, soon.)

If you have any interest, shoot me an email at

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pema Chodron

I do so love the wisdom of Pema Chodron:

"First, come into the present. Flash on what’s happening with you right now. Be fully aware of your body, its energetic quality. Be aware of your thoughts and emotions. Next, feel your heart, literally placing your hand on your chest if you find that helpful. This is a way of accepting yourself just as you are in that moment, a way of saying, 'This is my experience right now, and it’s okay.' Then go into the next moment without any agenda."

Monday, May 13, 2013

Breaking Out

I'm the featured reader tonight at an open mike event, the first "solo" reading I've done in almost nine years. Minor jitters, though I'll know many of the people there. The question I have to ask myself is this:

"In what manner do I desire to remove all my clothing in public?"

Because being a poet, and reading one's work in public, is a lot like that.

I used to give readings several times a year, but went into a hermit-like state with my writing after some major life-shattering events a decade ago. Other than blogging, and my monthly writing group, I dropped out of the scene. Rarely submitted new work to magazines. Rarely went to readings. Stopped reading most poetry.

And then last fall, on the encouragement of some friends, I began going to a 3x/month open mike event, and found a new home. There is music, poetry, fiction, memoir — a little bit of everything, from people of varying abilities, and a wide range of ages. All warmly welcomed, all entertaining, mostly all inspiring.

Part of me is still kicking and screaming, wanting to retreat to the safety of No Exposure. And then there's the other part of me, who finds great comfort as well as a thrill in the well-tuned line of verse. And I'm taking an even bigger risk tonight with my theme. Instead of my usual assortment of family/death/birds/humor, I'm reading an all sex/love/desire collection of a "poet's dozen" of 13 poems, including a few that have received no critique from anyone. Nothing like jumping off the cliff at full speed, eh?

Thursday, May 9, 2013


As I've been.

Ruminating the many absences, disappearances, those finite/infinite losses that make up a life.

Meanwhile, the earth is blaring out in blossom, so much I can't keep track.
So many scents.
Color like I believe I've never seen before, yet know, of course, I have.

To hold both this abundance and this scarcity in the same hand, that is the challenge.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Saturday, there were only buds.
Today: 37 blossoms.
As always, I am in awe of this planet.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Couple of White Boys

photo by Andrew Baldwin
That's my boy on the right there, and on the left, his friend from childhood, G., who spent a good portion of his early years at my house. They've recorded a rap/hiphop album of their duo "South Brandon", and this is one of the promo photos.

Not sure how I feel about the rap lingo, but these two guys do it all a little tongue-in-cheek.

Who woulda thought, back in their Ninja Turtle days, that they'd still be buddies and playing rap music together?

Gone to Seed, Gone to Blossom....

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Night Dress

Under a half-egg moon
I'm out with a 46-year-old dress
my mother hand-stitched for my sister Kath
to wear in my sister Ann's wedding —
rinsed clear of its accumulation of years
and freshly pressed, I let it float down
to a bed of deadnettles and bluebells
on the last April evening of the month.
It's chilly and I've not donned a sweater —
so I work quickly, the flash illuminating
a dark garden in bursts of surprise light.
I drag over a green metal chair
and position it in the unsteady earth,
climb warily up to a better vantage,
breathing my balance
until I'm just above the lace skirt
and pink-ribboned bodice.
I think of how my mother would disapprove
of her stitch-work tossed to foliage,
and how she'd tut-tut at my middle-aged self
perched in moonlight on a rickety chair.
What she doesn't know — gone these long years —
is that I handle this dress with a reverence
saved for relics — which this is.
Done, I gather up the rustling taffeta,
cradle it in my arms, leave satin trailing
in lemon balm, sweet woodruff —