Thursday, July 29, 2010

This Is My Brain

This used to be my brain:

This is my brain now:

Four days without blogging! A new laptop! None of my settings are right! Nothing's where it's supposed to be! Where's the Internet Explorer icon? Where's the Blogger shortcut? I hate the new email, that "Live" thingie with all its blaring, blinking, popup ad CRAP! And the wireless mouse has run away with the moon!

In AA we laugh about the alcoholic's dislike of change. For the past four days I've rediscovered a complete aversion to it. I want my old stuff back. I'm inadequate, stupid, frustrated, and bewildered. I'm even writing this post on my old laptop because if I spend one more hour trying to find my favorite stuff, I'm going to hurl that bigger, faster, shinier, shittier pain in the a*s out the window.

How do you deal with things like this?

My solution's going to be prayer, patience, and phone calls. In the meantime, have a great day.

(My photos are of the seed pods of a sweet little flower called "Love in the mist" or "Kiss Me Quick!")

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Total Confusion

Although much of life is cyclical, cycles confuse me sometimes. Why do fashions return every 20-odd years? Why does my daughter love my '80s clothes? Why is deterioration a precursor of rebirth? Why are there annuals when they could be perennials? How come it's already time to get on the Poetry Bus?

Niamh takes The Total Feckin Eejit's Bus on world tour with a confusing prompt this week. Please go visit the wonderful forms of confusion my riding companions capture.

Have We Left the World a Better Place Than It Was Before We Got Here?

My generation came of age
and the neighborhood boys
got shipped to the jungle to fight gorillas
the girls went to college
the college boys wrote manifestos
police became pigs and war became stupid
We tripped and fell and tripped again
Elvis gave way to the Doors
We expanded our minds
We fought a war to end a war
and we won by God we won

Then came disco. We were besotted
by paychecks and stopped checking out
the guerillas among us rose up
to be brokers and lawyers and such
our soldier boys suffered from PTSD
tended by women who had burned their bras
We declared war on drugs
We invented Earth Day, cell phones
indestructible plastic and global warming
We dreamed up the world wide web
and we paid by God we paid

We survived Y2K but died in planes
new weapons of mass destruction
We declared war on terrorism
sent our sons to Iraq while our daughters
turned experts on mochas and fraps
our grandchildren texted and our parents
declined so we placed them in homes
watched Alzheimer’s kill them
one step at a time. Our drugs morphed
into anti-depressants and cholesterol
fighters, our portfolios crashed
and we lost by God we lost

How did we get here and why did we stop
believing our power to change all for the good?
Idealism died and we wrapped it in plastic
shipped it off to the landfill
with the rest of our trash. We who invented
the peace sign know little about it
in our Golden Years
We no longer protest
We no longer fight
We’ve left it all to our children
and we want to retire
My generation has aged
and what have we done
by God
what have we done

A Sight for Sore Eyes

This is what summertime looks like where I live. My eldest daughter from Oregon has spent the past week with me while resting from her travels along the length of the West Coast. So I took her on one of my favorite drives. We went up this road here:
Then we hiked a bit, avoiding these:

Poison oak
and western star thistle, the nastiest plant in the West... We got through these and found this:
A sweet little creek still running in July...

and a reflection pool, where we found things like this...

and found things like this

and even some giants in waiting underwater:
We also found things like these two creatures from the blue lagoon:
We studied this orb spider's web for a length of time

before heading back to the car for home.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I Get a Gold Star (Literally)

Imagine my surprise yesterday evening when I opened the day's mail and found the certificate pictured here from the California State Poetry Society. (Picture me skipping around a small kitchen.) The day had not begun auspiciously. I'd gone on a country walk with my poet friend Dianne and my half-century-old body had humiliated me. Sigh. Little did I know that THIS Waited In Store For Me.

I've shared this poem here before, but I'll reprint it so you don't have to go bouncing around to find it (meaning, so I don't have to go find it and do the linky thingie).

Poor Pleasures

In the ragged shack on the edge of the blue-oak forest
she stands barefoot in the kitchen lit by one bare bulb.
Threadbare blue jeans cling to the stems of her legs
the sleeves of the man’s shirt rolled up to bare thin arms
as she washes dirty old dishes in the rust-stained sink.

It is 5 o’clock on a spring morning and he is gone
to the oil fields. The chill in the kitchen is bone deep
but her bare feet are tough with years of poverty
and the floor is worn linoleum, dirt-brown gleaming
underfoot from the damp mop standing by the fridge.

Anyway the coal box by the stove is empty of all
but black soot. The water on the stove is just lukewarm
yet her hands sing with pleasure as she pours it out
to rinse clean dishes in the dish pan in the sink.
Even this small warmth is lovely on a chilly morning

The blackened glass over the sink reflects her face
unlovely and inscrutable, with one small scar adjacent
to that wide full upper lip where his fist came to rest
one night long ago, before he gave his life to the oil field
and demanded nothing but her food and narrow hips.

She dries the dishes with a muslin cloth hand-stitched
by her mother in the lamplight of her cabin, a flour sack
transformed to an endless use for dishes, a dowry
for a marriage tired before it even started. With a rag
she wipes the sink, untroubled by the rust today.

She wipes down the old stove and a song slips out
as she scours grease spots, at first a humming
melody, but as she turns with the rag to the tabletop
and wipes its red-checked oil cloth, the words pour
forth: amazing grace and one white peony in a vase.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

To Bee or Not To Bee

A busy bee on a Wordless Wednesday.

Here's the Wordless Wednesday home page:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bright Spot on the Horizon

Just when you think your efforts are futile and Nobody Is Listening, a speck of hope appears on the horizon. It gives you enough juice to keep on keeping on.

Back in the beginning of January, the church that allows us use of its space for monthly poetry readings had a special Epiphany celebration. To bring home the concept of wise men following the star to find enlightenment, the church had paper stars all over its walls. On each one was printed a word that its members were to ponder through the coming year. Even we poets were encouraged to pick a star off the wall to take home. This is what my star says:

Since my post before last about giving up, two different attorneys are pondering my mother's case. Whether anything comes of that, it doesn't matter. Just the fact of their interest right now is enough to keep me moving onward. It ain't over till the fat lady sings.

Life is sometimes like that. A situation bothers me and nothing seems to effect change, not prayer, not action, not consultation with experts or crystal balls. Plodding forward is dismal and takes more energy than I think I have.

Then the bright spot appears on the horizon. I'm reinfused with hope for change. Maybe the time isn't right, right now. Maybe I have more inner resources than I thought. Maybe the Creator is saying, "Not yet," or "Not that," or "Something else is coming down the pike, so strengthen those feeble knees and endure another day."

This has happened before. I often don't know how to pray or what to pray for, so I use my judgment and pray for what seems fair or good or pain-relieving. (Mostly pain-relieving!) But since I don't have a Master's in Omniscience, I'm not qualified to act like God. I forget that sometimes.
I guess that's why we're supposed to pray only for God's will and the power to carry that out.

Monday, July 19, 2010

He Was a Hard Guy to Live With

The Poetry Bus, driven by Argent, seeks unrequited love this week, or comedy. Them's the choices. My eldest daughter is visiting from Portland, Oregon, and we've had a busy weekend, so I asked her to pick a poem from my past. Here's the one she chose, an old tongue-in-cheek piece with an excruciating rhyme scheme about a relationship gone bad.

She Must Have Been a Masochist

Gentle jailor, blessed foe,
If you broke this yoke I would not go,
Nor would I were the lock ajar,
The cuffs uncuffed and the lash laid low—
If free of such, I’d not fly far
Before I craved the clutch of iron and chain
And my cold bed, where I have lain
And carved my name in stone
More nights than stars have known.
I know no home beyond these bars and claim
No wish to flee. I can’t abscond.
I have no lord but thee. Your scepter whip
Your reins and key are instruments of sanity.
What meaning lies in the land beyond?

Though my cellar be severe,
Sweet warden, all is clear in here:
These black shackles bond
My pale arms where they belong.
Had I not their iron grip, how should I stand?
How should I know the sun had dipped
Beneath the edge of land, without that
Slanting scrap of light?
How should I sense without your whip
To cut me as it kisses,
To burn me as it lays me bare,
Singing has it hisses through the air?

My nerves have come to love the pain.
My neck would break without the chain.
I choose it so. I bear your mark.
My eyes have grown to love the dark.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Time to Give Up

~ You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try. ~
Beverly Sills

So far, I’ve heard a litany of “No”s in my search for a legal advocate for my mother’s catastrophe at the hands of a hospital (described here).

I’ve learned a lot about the essential failure of the medical advance directive. I’ve learned that in the 20 years since the United States endorsed the advance directive as the means to protect our right to make our own end-of-life decisions about medical care when we are unable to speak for ourselves, we still don’t have a viable way to ensure our decisions will be honored.

I’ve learned that when an elderly, incapacitated person—one of the very people federal and state statutes seek to protect—is put into a hospital without an advocate present, that hospital may violate her civil rights, violate federal and state regulations, diregard her legally expressed advance instructions, treat her based on liability issues rather than her true best interests, and do whatever they choose to prolong her life. The hospital may do so with certainty that it will not be held accountable by any government agency or court of law.

Do I give up? Do I let the litany of “No”s defeat me?

I’m struggling with that decision. Part of me believes that I ought to cease fighting and accept the situation. Part of me believes that giving up is not the right thing to do.

If Thomas Edison had given up when yet another experiment failed, we wouldn’t have electricity and lights to read by at night. If Martin Luther King Jr. had given up when yet another civil rights case died in court, what would have happened to the civil rights movement?

It doesn’t appear that injustices are corrected because everyone suddenly realizes a wrong should be righted. And changes don’t occur just because they’re needed.

There’s a possibility that God might be telling me something in the disinterest of lawyers to stand up for my mother and say she was mistreated. My hubby thinks that might be the case. There’s a school of thought in a chapter in the book of Alcoholics Anonymous, that if we are disturbed by a situation, we need to accept that situation as being exactly the way it should be right now.

But I have a niggling feeling that a wrong is perpetrated on people like my mother, and if I give up, the status quo won’t change.

So I struggle with my disappointment, and I keep on sending emails, making calls, researching the law.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dumb Habits That Drive Me Nuts

Last weekend I tore out the dried sweet peas, a pod of which you see in this photo. It was dusty, itchy work. I heard myself humming. I don’t know why I wasn’t aware of it before. Now that I notice it, this compulsive humming, of the same bars of the same song all day long, is making me nuts.
Since I took note of it, I’ve tried to stop myself. As soon as I stop thinking about the humming, it starts again. And my repertoire, since I noticed it last weekend, is not large or even interesting. So far this week, I’ve hummed:
It’s a Grand Ole Flag
Camptown Ladies
Hark Now Hear the Angels Sing
And this timeless classic: The Muffin Man

Sunday I went around and dead-headed the roses, trying not to hum. When did this habit begin? I used to talk to myself while gardening. So I tried talking to myself. It was ridiculous. It was not a stimulating conversation. I said the same crap over and over again. And as soon as my mind drifted from the boring self-talk, there I was, humming It’s a Grand Ole Flag.

It was crazy. I came in the house and told Joe, “I can’t stop humming.” He told me, “You always do that.” I pondered this news. How could I forget that I hum a lot? Or did I just never notice this essential, tedious, daily thing about myself? Why do I hum? To break the silence in my head? To keep myself company? Yet I hum in the presence of others. What does it look like to them, this woman of a certain age walking around randomly humming the same lame tunes? I must have thought no one else could hear me.

That got me thinking about habits of other people that also drive me nuts. (I don’t want to be alone in my weirdness.) I know someone who always sticks his finger in his mouth after a meal to wipe around his molars. Yuck! How about guys who turn and spit on the ground while you’re talking to them? Double yuck! Someone in my household who shall remain unnamed always leaves tiny bits of veggie matter in the sink strainers. Gross!

There’s the lady who inserts “And, uh…” into every other sentence. The young women whose spandex tank tops cling to the rolls of fat around their midsections. The drivers who don’t know what their turn signals are for. People who say, “Irregardless”…

Does anyone else out there have humming issues? Habits that drive you nuts?

Camptown ladies sing this song: Do dah! Do dah!...

Monday, July 12, 2010

This is not an ad for $tarbuck$

Is it legible? You're not thinking: What the hell is arrwed?

All right. So the assignment was this: If you want to go on world tour with the Eegit's Poetry Bus this week, write something on something.

On something. Literarally. Titus the Dog wrote poems on stones. It's that kind of week. I looked around for something to write on. I could have written on the dust that blanketed my car, but dear Joe wiped it down Sunday morning. Nothing clicked.

Then I handled my recycled $tarbuck$ cup, the one my muddy chai latte came in the other day. The poem poured out of me like a lukewarm breve with cinnamon. The reason it did, I guess, is the thought that caffeine increases the heart rate. The joys of free association.

Dominic at Made Out of Words dreamed this up. He wrote an ode on a banana. He'll have some very creative writers at his place. I've off to check them out.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Secret Recipe for Lemon Tart

Here it is, the recipe you asked for!

Creation of a Lemon Tart

It began with an egg.
And then an ovary of eggs.
Each one in turn dashed
itself on the altar
(what a mess!), offering
to become part of the
greater good: A lake
of clear slime with stratums
of yellow yolk.

Sugar dived in, nectar
of the gods to sweeten
the primordial ooze
(carbohydrate heaven!)
Yin and yang commanded
sour soften sweet
and so lemons poured
out their juices
sacrificing themselves
to the protoplasmic mass.

Butter next, melted gently
slid into this biological soup
swimming with eddies
of sweet-sour protein
making amoebas.

Then cream creamed
the crop, the nucleus
that rocked it all
with an explosion of
higher life. The gods
loved it.
They slurped it up.
It was the greatest creation
the earth had ever seen.
For this,
I will never leave you.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


This is my husband's deadliest weapon, reserved for taking down Big Game, like his wife. It is registered with the local sheriff's office. If you note the post time below, you'll see how this lemon tart caught me in its sights at the most vulnerable hour. Shame on him for maliciously assaulting his wife with this atrocity.

If you only knew the brutality I put up with every day. It's a miracle I've lived this long.

This might be my final post. If you don't hear from me tomorrow, please send a posse. You might need a skip loader too.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


double hollyhock

Blue today. Nothing to say. Waiting for it to pass. As it always has.

Better than thoughts are flowers. Here is a glimpse of my garden.





a daisy-type like gaillardia

Are you having a good day? I hope so. If you're blue, what do you do?

The comment moderation thingy suffers today from a Blogger Bug. I'm attempting to post your comments but alas, not all go through, and the comment link is off. Mr. Blogger refuses to reply to one's notification that not all is well. That's one way to deal with the blues: refuse to take note of them.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Striking a Bargain with Nora

Nora lives in an old folks home
for those whose minds are going.
She looks sharp as a tack
in her flowered polyester blouse
that buttons at the wrists
and her beige polyester pants
with shoes to match.
“I wonder if we might strike a bargain”
she says to me, as I sit on the bed
watching my mother push her walker
into the wall as if she could push
her way into another life.

We introduce ourselves politely
paying no attention to my mother
and then Nora asks, “Would you be
interested in taking that off my hands
for twenty-five dollars? At this
point I just want to be rid of it.”
What have you got for sale? I ask.

Nora looks bemused.
“It is one those things,” she ventures
gesturing with her hands
“with the white on it…” She pauses
frowning into the distance. Then
she looks at me with purpose.
“I wonder if we might strike a bargain”
she says. “I’ll let you have it all
for twenty-five dollars.”
I smile at her.
My mother is in the bathroom
pushing against the wall
with her walker and determination.

Will you take a check? I ask Nora.
May I deposit it into your bank?
Nora stares at me, speechless.
“Well,” she says as my mother turns
to the other wall and tries to push it
into China. “I suppose
that might be all right.”
But she isn’t sure.

I wish that Nora were my mother.
I wish I could give her
twenty-five dollars to see
what she would do. I notice
my mother pushes her cart
against the wall just like
my old cat pushed herself
against the wall when she was
dying. Nora, I say to her,
I would like to strike a bargain.
For twenty-five dollars
will you take my mother
off my hands?
This is my ticket on the Poetry Bus, taking its world tour this week. The Weaver of Grass told us to write about an unexplained incident. Or a person. I chose to write about three unexplained people: What is Nora up to? Why does my mother try to push through walls? And who am I, to offer my mother to a total stranger for 25 bucks? You'll find other bus riders here. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Peace Is Boring?

In my writing room
beneath the shady sycamores
on a hot July day
my writhing head rests.
I summon the muse
but she sleeps like the dead.
Not even espresso
wakes her.

The famous blogger Monkey Man dreamed up the idea of the “Sunday 160” wherein one makes a statement in 160 characters counting periods and spaces between words.
(That explanation was in exactly 160 characters too.)
What people are able to say within the context of a text message is interesting. You can find them on the Monkey Man’s blog.

I haven’t had a real job for four years. My days consist of reading, writing, various projects, Alcoholics Anonymous activities, household chores, gardening, and managing the needs of my mother’s Alzheimer’s disease. Every so often my lifelong dance with depression spins out of control and I have to get involved with psychiatric stuff.

Recovery from addiction has lent a structure to my life for 20 years. It influences my outer life, because I go to a lot of meetings, and it influences my inner life, because I’m mindful of how I interact with the world.

I’m saying these things because today I’m a little bored. There’s nothing on my agenda except dinner and fireworks tonight with my daughter and her significant other. The projects that have consumed my life lately either have been completed (like preparing my poetry manuscript and getting a novel ready for a workshop next month), or are in suspension because it’s Sunday (like the pursuit of justice for my mother).

I’d like to write a poem, but nothing is jostling around inside of me, looking for a way out. Nothing is jostling around in me at all.

And the outer world isn’t exactly clamoring for my attention. The things that give my daily life structure are all quiet today. Both inside and out, it’s…. boring.

I once called my AA sponsor and complained that life was boring. I didn’t like confessing that because I had told my daughter a thousand times that “boredom is the product of an unimaginative mind.”

My sponsor told me that perhaps I was experiencing the lack of drama, chaos, resentment, and fear. In fact, maybe I was feeling PEACE for the first time in my life.

I guess I’m at peace today. I hope you are too. I think I'll go practice gratitude for feeling at peace by doing a little work in the garden.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

You Guys Have Funny Taste

Little-known sad facts about odd potatoes who lack names: They'll snuggle up to anything in an effort to fit in.

They bow before stone idols, begging for somewhere to belong.

They tend to be runaways.

They will hock your china if you aren't careful.

They try to pair up with unsuitable eggs.

They identify with anything called hens and chickens.

They look for love in all the wrong places

consoled only by cats like Kate here who practice active listening techniques

and put up with the odd nuzzle.


Floggers have blown to the rescue!
In the spirit of camaraderie and ridiculousness, worthy souls have gathered here today in the sight of God and everybody to join together a nameless crazy potato, rescued from the compost heap just in the nick of time right before it became mashed, YES! I said we are gathered here together to join this oddest of potatoes, veritably shaped by the adversity it has endured in the slings and arrows of the compost heap, truly a garbage dump if you want to know the truth, YES! Can I have an AMEN? I said we floggers have done the spiritual equivalent of circling the wagons around this poor little spud, proving once again that COMMUNITY can accomplish what mortal Self cannot, and what is that? you ask, I will tell you: we can touch the stars! YES! The stars, I tell you! The dark matter of this universe is ours to bridle and steer into tomorrow, and at our helm, ladies and gentlemen, rides the Unknown Tater! And he shall be known among us! Amen! We are gathered here together to join this most hapless, yet surely most fortuitous, spud of unknown origin, whose ways are not our ways, YES! who is indeed as far removed from our ways as it is possible to be removed and yet still be within the circle of holy wagons, we shall join this very potato to the name we bestow upon it with pride. It is with great pleasure, thereby and heretofore, that we baptize, this very day, this most unusual and splendiferous of spuds, whose gender and genealogy we cannot know, indeed perhaps should never know, and shall consider henceforth without prejudice to be a neutral party, YES! we baptize thee, oh weirdest spud, in the name of all that is holy to potatoes everywhere, with an equally, indubitably weird NAME:


(P.S. I voted for Spud.)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fried Po TAH toh

Don't you look incredibly yummy...
My crazy little potato, who grew oddly against the odds in the compost heap, pines for a name. Too embarrassed to leave home without a moniker, he/she/it got acquainted with the household today. Some meetings went better than others.

The little spud paused to offer an opinion on the newest member of the clan: my second manuscript of poetry. The potato-ette thinks it needs more work. I almost made hash of the stupid twit.

The poor thing wonders if it could grow up to become this:

Let's name the small fry today. Here are the choices. Please vote for one.

Animus, sings Spirited Dianne

Spud! growls Titus the Worthy Canine

Spudnik, pronounces Lorenzo the Worthy

Spudkins, hollers Glenn not of Luckenbach

Tater or Scallop, drawls Brian the Blog Wonder

Tuber or not tuber, ponders Technobabe Hamlet (Tutu for short)

Leslie, chirps Magpie, neutral for he/she/it

Hope, whispers Marion, for it grew against the odds

Abbyration, dares Monkey Man

Masher, cries Jacob, who says it's a dog

Chip, opines Syd from his sailboat

Yukon Cornelius, the Venturing Mountain Potato, says Great Scott

Albert, roars Totalfeckineejit

Dinner, chimes in Carrie Burtt

And Rule #62 is still in force: Thou shalt not take thyself too seriously.