Friday, August 30, 2013

My Favorite Poem I've Ever Written

I am surprised but I just about if not actually cry every time I read this. I am pretty proud of this poem. 


If I were dying tonight,
Lying in my bed with plastic tubes and half-filled bottles
on the small table nearby 
and bedpans and oxygen there to diminish any shame, 
Perhaps forcing my breaths
with the strength of a desperate parent
who implausibly and frantically lifts two tons 
of mangled steel off a broken daughter—
If I were dying tonight and I wished to tell you
What will astonish you,
I would tell you this:

Be sure to notice white flowers in the moonlight, 
Because the softened glow is like no other.

Appreciate the lingering scent of garlic on your fingers, 
Because healing is possible from that alone.

Tell the truth when it matters least
Because then you will be sure there is another honest person in the world.

Always spend the extra money for dimmers
Because light that builds in intensity and then gently fades is 
 good for your spirit.

Over and over, ask yourself, “What is the lesson here?”
Because then you will forever be a student and never a victim

Never believe for a moment that the world is going to hell
Because you only need to love outside yourself to know better. 

If I were dying tonight, I would tell you all this
Because astonishment is brethren to curiosity,
Which leads to observation,
And dedication,
And finally appreciation.

If I were dying tonight, perhaps there would only be minutes,
Perhaps only seconds, 
To tell you that I will leave with all the love
I have ever felt, and ever given.
I will take it all with me, tucked under my angel wing—
The accumulation of grace from every breath I have ever taken.

Here’s what’s astonishing:  I will also leave all that love behind, 
It will be imbedded in my daughter’s stunning light and my partner’s quiet 
It will guide my friends and coworkers when the layoff comes. 
My brother will remember how I tried to do my share
And Joey will find someone else like me to help him tame his fears.
Even the woman at the grocery store that day I let her go ahead of me—
will remember how we were both comforted from that simple act.

If I were dying tonight, I would also tell you
That within, under, because of, and from the little moments 
Comes all the wonder and astonishment you could ever hope for.
The little moments that aren’t so little.
I would tell you to let those moments astonish you.
I would tell you this because it is all you need to know.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vacation Time

I am finally back in Provincetown. With JB and Chase. In our new sweet house. I'm walking with canes. But walking better. And the ocean is everywhere.

JB and I are here for one week and a day or two. We got an offer on our condo and my surgery is behind us, so we are trying to get back to  relaxing--not always easy. Boy the world is a mess. Syria and Egypt and Miley Cyrus on stage in her underwear, and racially, even worse. 

This is not a typical  time in Provincetown. We have moved from a quiet location one block from all the action to the quiet East End on a busy street. That, and I cannot walk far. I should say that the folks at physical therapy say I need more patience because I am doing really well for 7 weeks after major surgery, but I don't like being impaired walking. And I'm uncomfortable with some degree of pain most of the time. Maybe so for another month or two. 

Tonight lounged on the couch we passed JB's IPad back and forth, resulting in this drawing. This is an app called Making Paper 53.  I learned about it from Silke's blog. It has paint colors and different sizes and functions of pens and pencils and paint brushes. And an eraser. All easy peasy to use and fun to create drawings and doodads. And then to store them.

Plans for tomorrow:   breakfast
                                  read two chapters of my book aloud to JB (could be difficult)
                                  work in the little yard weeding and pruning
                                  go to the provincetown pool and lounge and bob

For me, it's been a quiet summer on the blogs. I have an unsettled feeling that Facebook has made the blogs less essential, and I hope that is not true because I love blogging. 

Best wishes with love

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Some time ago I stopped writing poetry. I am not happy about that so this is about that.
Where is that well of words;
gurgled streams moving
through the right and best place,
a channel for my brand
of perplexity and observation?

Those words used to flow
 sputter and drip too;
they'd drench me with the chance
to rightly see--
A waterfall it was, 
no effort just gravity; 
just my keyboard,
and feeling fingers.

I stopped writing water words:
now I think but don't record
and I don't know why. 
But I still turn to the the waves and trees.
and I still try.
I know this much: what yearns
Is just the whether
of a waiting sky.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Thoughts About Family

I noticed something a while back.

When I talk about my family, I mean JB and Jess and her family.

When Jess talks about her family, she means Mike and the kids. 

I could be sensitive and sometimes I am. Jess is number one to me (forgive me JB, please understand) and I am number six to her. That is the normal arc of the circle. I know that when I am needed, whenever there is big news, I will be sought and I will be there in a flash. I have not achieved true elder status yet but I do think my daughter is proud of who I am. 

But look at her and look at Mike and now their four children. This is a happy family. This is all I could ever want and hope for for my beloved Jess. Too often I struggle with questions like do I spend enough time with them? Do I help enough? Should we move closer? Too often I find no answers, but when I look at this picture, taken two days ago on Logan's second birthday, I know the best use of Jess' day-to-day and my day-to-day is that we rejoice in our collective well being, whether the physical distance between us is near or far.  Because we will always find one another at the big moments and in the little treasures. I am sure of that. 

I love this girl and her family to the moon and back. I would step in front of a moving train for any of them. Jess knows that and that has nothing to do with anything except abiding love. And I know, even at number six, I am equally loved in return.

I am so lucky proud. 


Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Dog Named Chase

He is the size of a deer. He has a seizure disorder, a broken ankle that was never fixed, he's missing half his teeth. His medication costs more than our monthly electric bill and has to be given every twelve hours, meaning either JB or I are up early each morning and have to plan ahead for his evening dose. He howls like a wolf several times a night, waking us from a sound night's sleep and he turns his head when we try to give him treats, even chicken. Until this week, he has refused to do his business while on a leash, requiring major planning whenever he is anywhere but in our fenced in backyard.

JB and I did not sign up for all this when I had a dream about a dog named Chase and then there he was on Petfinder, Chase, a six year old retired greyhound who was lucky to be rescued rather than put down. I do not like having a dog who must be on a leash when not in a fenced area because, we're told, he will hit 58 miles a hour in four strides and has no knowledge of traffic and no nose to find his way back home.

The howling has been almost the worse, but Chase's aloofness is the hardest of all. We have been trying to woo him with soft words, body rubs, cookies, comfort. Sometimes he will make eye contact but most often he barely moves. Sometimes he sleeps twenty three hours a day, at least four of those hours the effect of his seizure medication. He will not come when we call him, does not play, rarely wags his tail. Sometimes he just stands there, ignoring us. 


Dear Chase,

We are noticing differences. We can see that you are trying. We are so happy that we've finally found cookies that excite you, that you come for them when we call you. We are so happy you like being scratched under your neck, and don't think we don't know that you are looking at us more; that you come in the den and stay with us each morning while we have our coffee. 

This week you traveled with us much more easily. Thank god your bathroom habits have become more flexible. We know you like routine and it's unfortunate you ended up with a family who gallivants more than stays settled. But we'll try to be your routine; us and your dog bed. 

You cannot continue to howl at night. A dog behaviorist has made suggestions and you do seem to be doing better. We can handle one howl a night until you figure out you don't need to howl at all. We know you lived in a crate 23 hours a day when you raced, and probably many other dogs howled too. We know you have not had a close relationship with a person or a family and that living in a house with people is totally foreign to you. We know that you have had to learn to live and cope in ways that we cannot even imagine. 

Yes we have wondered if we are the right placement for you. Yes the greyhound adoption agency would take you back without question. But no you are not at risk of being sent back. We want this to work.

And this week, for the first time, it seems like you want it to work too. We're glad.

Love from
us your family

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

For Deborah xo

This is Reese. She is one month old. I am highlighting her for my friend Deborah, who has a little grand girl of her own and whose family has been unfairly targeted by fecking cancer. I hope she makes you smile, Deb. 

Reese is the fourth child of my beloved and only child, Jessica. From age seven, Jess grew up in a two Mom household and I would have bet all my riches she would never have four children. Reese has three brothers, Mr. Ryan 6, No Longer Baby Drew 4, and Logan almost 2. 

We expected a fourth boy. It has actually be a shock that Reese is a girl. Which is interesting.

How petty to admit it's partially about the clothes. Boys' clothes are really boring; I'd be surprised to hear much disagreement about that. Already I've bought Reese a fall knit dress even as I lay on the couch nursing my new knee. 

But it's more than just the clothes. I've worried about my daughter when I am too old to take care of her. I've looked at her boys and I've guessed it will be Drew who will care for her most and best when she is old and needs care. I look at the situation with my brother and myself and I thank god there is me to tend to our Mother. Forgive me because I know there are exceptions, but we girls get it better: we understand nurturing and care giving and we seem to accept what is needed and expected. 

So I am glad my Jess will have a daughter.

But not just that either. I expect I will do different things with Reese. Maybe not. I imagine simply by nature of being a girl that she may be calmer than the boys. Maybe more interested in spending time coloring and cooking and going through my jewelry box and not as much physical rough housing. I KNOW I may be wrong here; I really do. But still, it feels different. 

Reese's two youngest brothers kiss her every morning and evening, want to hold her, speak softly to her. Do they react differently because she is a girl? Will they wrestle with her in the same way? And will they tend to protect her in ways different from their bonds with one another? 

Don't get me wrong. I love these boys. Adore them. Every year JB and order their pajamas for the year. 
It is the most fun thing. Mr. Ryan via his Mother sent us a photo yesterday. He was excited to try on his new pajamas. 

Last year just about this time I bought Mr. Ryan a big boy camera for my birthday. It was quite an event: I took him to a camera store and a very nice man taught him some basic instruction. I told him this is something he and I will do together for years; gallivanting and taking pictures. At the time Jess politely said to me, "You can't be serious that you bought a real camera for a five year old?"

Well yes I did. Last weekend Jessica told me, "Wait until you see the photos Ryan took at the beach--pretty amazing." I am not surprised. This will be one of I hope several assets he will carry into life which will help him feel competent and curious. That's what assets do: they build up your self esteem.

I am so glad.


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Where I'm Not

I am not here.

Hanging these fab party lights was the last thing JB and I did before we left the new house in Provincetown and before I had surgery secretly praying that I would wake up the same me. 

This is the longest I've gone without the urge or push to blog. It must be because I've been home recuperating and I am without my normal tools of camera and pen. Instead I've been sleeping and bending and slowly reading the daily paper.

This is about to change. This week I will see the surgeon who will tell me I can drive again and I will forego a cane for my own stiff knee and physical therapy where there is an exercise bike and weights.  Tomorrow I will write again. I have sixty pages to pull in shape for submission to a certain agent I want to pick up my novel. I want a $ 5000 advance and I am envisioning that happening. :^)

Ah but this deck in Provincetown. I cannot believe this will too be part of my life. 

I stopped work just before this surgery and for the first time in my adult life I will have no schedule I must keep. I have a consulting gig I can do at my own pace from home; I have a novel to finish; I have a garden that welcomes me anytime. I have a family and small children who live two hours away. I have worries and chores. But I also have a clean clear canvas. I don't know what I will do. I can easily find myself staying close to home, staying inside all day even, and I know that will not be good for me. I'm a social sort. I like contributing and I like attention.

I'm glad to be posting this tonight. It's a good sign for me. I'm just about off the heavy meds. Last night I made soup. Tonight I emptied the dishwasher. I've taken a shower. Normal life. 

Normal life. This is my current worthy grateful goal and I'll be fine if it turns out to be anything but normal. 

love love