Monday, December 27, 2010

Post Holiday Blues

The turkey is a thread-bare carcass.
Gifts are opened, ooh'd and ahhh'd.
Phone calls are placed and excuses made.
The tree sheds its needles in the corner
while three baubles drop without notice.
Vows are made to escape it all next year.
We forget and forgive ourselves
and do it all over again and again.
And, for the most part, we find it meaningful
and worthwhile, and essential to our connection
to family, friends, and loved-ones.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happiness is...

Spiritual ecstasy
and/or a new 46 inch LCD TV from "Santa!"
Thank you Leah, Shie-fang, and Ron!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

10 Reasons to Love the Rain

1. It's a great excuse for curling up with a good book.
2. The yard won't need watering for a week or so.
3. The sound of rain on the roof is very soothing.
4. The car won't need to go to the carwash for a while.
5. There's likely to be a gorgeous rainbow afterwards.
6. Everything will smell fresh and new.
7. Rainwater is good for washing your hair.
8. The reservoirs will be replenished.
9. School children will get to be children and splash in the puddles.
10. Gene Kelley may come dancing by your window!


She sits in the corner
afraid to speak
for fear the green bile
will spill from her belly
She dreams of tearing flesh
ripping hair
crushing bone
Her eyes dark slits
hiding coals of hatred
She's held her silence for years
tending the needs of others
Under her tongue rests
the bitter pill of reason
She dreams of spitting

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hard Times

My Dear Lizzie,

The weather has turned cold here in Chicago and the long nights give rise to many thoughts of you and the children. But for the job at the tallow processing plant I would at once return home. James writes that the fields lie fallow and that the Crockers have left for California, having finally lost their deed to the savings and loan. It is indeed a blessing that Grannie Crocker did not live to see her family torn from their home.
The candle burns low. I send my love to Joanna and Junior and Victoria and Virginia. May God in his goodness bring us together soon.
Your Dutiful Husband,
William Charles

Monday, December 20, 2010

High Maintenance

Joanie hung up the phone and leaned against the kitchen cupboards. "Not again," she said to no one in particular. This was the third time in as many weeks that her next door neighbor, Mildred, had called to ask if she could borrow a pair of underpants. It wasn't that she minded helping people out but it wasn't like loaning a cup of sugar or a couple of eggs. Underwear's expensive, and well, you know, personal.

Fortunately she'd stocked up on new ones at the K-Mart sale. It would have been pretty embarassing if the call had come earlier. The elastic in the legs of her old ones had grown all tired and the lace was so frayed she'd almost felt guilty at donating them to the Goodwill. But then they hadn't had any holes or anything so she just couldn't make herself throw them away. At the rate Mildred was going, she'd soon be down at the thrift store buying them back.

Mildred had returned the first pair of borrowed undies the very next day, discretely bagged in a small brown bag with a thank you card pinned to the top. The second time the thank you note was replaced with a sympathy card and a long explanation of how the lacy size 8s had got caught under the agitator and came out a shredded mass of nylon acetate.

Joanie noticed that her neighbor had seemed to avoid her since that misfortune and to tell the truth she wasn't altogether unhappy. She was beginning to be a bit too high maintenance for someone who had only been in the neighborhood for a month.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Exiting 101

Exiting 101, she leaves behind the hum of freeways and trucks and drives into the foothills that lie to the east. Not yet fire season, cows forage with their young on the hillsides. Up ahead she spots a rest area with a picnic table and pulls over to eat french bread and brie. She'd bought a bottle of spiced cider but it had lost it's chill so she drew cold water from the small spring at the edge of the clearing. Ahead the road seems to narrow and she wonders if she'll be able to get through. Like most decisions in her life, turning back is not an option.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sweet Baby James

I remember the sweetness of your breath, how you cried in the middle of the night, how you were always hungry. 

I remember your smile, your thirst for experience, your conviction that you could do anything, absolutely anything.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

LA in the 80s

Don't it always seem to go
that you don't know what you've got till it's gone...
(with thanks to Joni Mitchell)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

These Days

I can't always remember
not to bleach, machine dry, or iron
or not to eat too much cake 
or drink too much coffee
And I can seldom find all my computer files
or get rid of the many I don't need
without messing up the ones I do
I can't quit drinking coffee and
I don't want to give up half&half
And exercise is too much work
and takes too much time away 
from my computer and NPR
But I still think often of those I love
and remember them (and myself)
as we were: full of commitment, 
loving and lovable
with dreams and plans to change the world

Keep dreaming dear ones, keep dreaming

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Just a Mistake

Her brain feels numb, on hold, like a child who has run away from home and wants to come back but isn't sure of the way. She looks up from her computer to watch the light slip slowly across the rug, marking the passage of the afternoon.

She thinks about the phone call, a spillway of words, strange accusations that shift the moment from balance, clear blue perfection to confusion.

"He doesn't want you to see her anymore." The words flap, just outside of understanding. She wants to cry or scream or just hangup and pretend it didn't happen. That it's just a horrible mistake or maybe she's just woken up in someone else's dream.

Friday, November 19, 2010

No One

No one ever told me
that life alone would not be lonely
that breakfast laid for one
NPR instead of conversation
and an ornery cat for companionship
would fill my life right up to the top

No one ever told me
that pruning roses
slashing dead leaves from the banana plant
and discovering a long-forgotten bed of gladiolas
would restore my faith in rebirth and renewal

No one ever told me
that I really can fly
that money does grow on trees
that all roads do lead to pleasure
and that I will live forever
in my granddaughter's memory

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Name Calling

She lifts the tiny bundle from the white bin and holds her up to face the father. Now they must choose a name. 

Anna after the grandmother? No. 

June? Not June as in the month, as it's September and no one is named September. But June, like the mother, and June like the smell of cut grass and the crick-crack of grasshoppers and the warmth of long days and stars so close they drop in your lap. 

No. One June is enough and June isn't an easy name to call from the back porch and it doesn't go with Kay, a name that you can say with one light breath. Kay who lives on the pages of all the women's magazines, waiting for her soldier to return. Yes, Kay.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Marik returns from the market with one basket empty, the other filled with small loaves of stale bread. Most of the stalls are closed, fresh vegetables gone for weeks. She breaks the bread into small pieces, ladles a cup of lentils for each child. 
The baby lies quietly against her breast, sleepy from nursing and weak from the fever that has visited each family in her village. She watches the bones of her son and two daughters grow more visible each day. She wonders what they have done to deserve this.

Her neighbors talk of the foreigners who promise help, who will arrive soon in green trucks with boxes of dried milk and bags of flour. Gathering the thin shawl around her thin shoulders she wraps the baby tighter and kneels to say her evening prayers.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mahogany Dreams

Harold slowed the car to an almost stall, then gunned it as he passed the driveway. It was already past midnight and he wanted to get to bed. But the red and black Buick sitting in the driveway was proof that Rufe was still waiting inside. He could just go on in and walk right past him to the bedroom but he knew that face-to-face he wouldn't be able to hang on to the advantage he had by staying out of sight.

"Come on Bubba, you gotta help me out," Rufe had pleaded at breakfast. "I've already lined up the Bailey twins to ride inside and they've promised to take off their shoes."

Harold knew Mama would kill both of them if she found out. But after hours of listening to his stepbrother's half-baked reasons for why he just had to have Mama's mahogany casket for the 4th of July parade, he couldn’t think of anymore reasons to say no. He laid the receiver on its side and slipped out the back door.

Mama was out in California visiting her cousin Marlene and wouldn't be back until after Labor Day. But Harold knew it couldn’t-and wouldn’t-be as simple as his brother made it out to be. Besides, everybody in town would know where it came from. It wasn't like you could just find a casket laying around somewhere. And Pearville folks weren't exactly known for keeping their mouths shut.

He couldn't understand why Rufe didn’t just use crepe paper flowers to cover the flatbed like everybody else did. But he did have to admit he just might stand a chance to take first place and that'd sure be worth some bragging rights.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Long lines of customers wait at every register as closing time nears. Moving the video rental to the Lotto counter has been a disaster. No one sees the drop box on the corner and most customers just toss their returns on the coutner. They'll blame her, of course, if they don't get checked back in and they get hit with late fees.

Worst of all, now she also has to mess with the Lotto tickets.The guy at the counter keeps fumbling to find seven cents so he won't have to break a dollar bill. She wishes she could just say "don't bother." What would it hurt if the register was short seven cents?

Her feet ache and her back hurts and all she can think about is getting home to her son and daughter. They'll already be asleep but she'll check in on them and maybe sit beside their bed for a while, listening to their shallow breathing. Maybe Rachel will wake up for a moment, turn over and open her eyes with a "hi mami" before dropping back into the sweet sleep of childhood.

She longs for the day when she can get a day job and be home for dinner. They can watch tv together and she'd read them a book at bedtime. And maybe, just maybe, she'd never have to watch another person dig for change.

Friday, November 5, 2010

On the Street

Being on the street made him feel better. He didn’t have any place else to go until the shelter opened. And there was always something going on downtown: somebody with a harmonica or a beat-up guitar and a cardboard box, looking for spare change. And you could usually count on the drunks to give you a show, shoving each other around. 

Guys he'd known for a while asked about his daughter, the one who lived down in San Pedro with her husband and their two kids. He used to take a bus down to visit every once in a while but it was just too hard. They had their life. He had his.  

Monday, November 1, 2010

Identical Twins?

Go Giants!
Thanks to Aaron Gallegos.

Poetry in Motion

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Jonas Salk

In the early 50s, people across the nation were terrorized by the threat of polio, a crippling disease that could lead to terrible crippling or worse, a life of confinement in an "iron lung." 40+ years later I became close friends with a Pittsburgh writer who was close friends with Jonas Salk, the doctor who developed an effective polio vaccine.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just Thinking

Wind and water
sea and sky
love and laughter
you and I

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sunday Night

It's past midnight, a slow Sunday night. The turistas are long gone and only locals sit at the bar. The owner plays dominoes in the corner with a gringa wearing a faded Hussong's shirt. She chases tequila shots with a cold Bohemia. After three games, she's winning.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

At Last

 My dream home, from the back.

The roof is finished and not a moment too soon. We had our first fall shower this afternoon, followed by a brilliant sunset. The next step is stucco.

I'm working on getting used to a new neighbor, a small harmless snake who is as wary of me as I of him. John has promised to "relocate" him to the pasture area.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Voices

Crowded Room by Chester Gould

the voices in my head
      all mine of course

be patient
           work it out
it could be worse
        it should be better
your needs don't matter
            they matter too much
you expect too much
          he expects too little
don't ask
              and for god's sake
don't tell 
             how you feel
it'll work out
           or not

A Long Time Ago

In a land faraway, life was so much simpler. Or was it?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Dream

An old damaged print of Gauguin's "Te rerioa" sits on the bookcase across the room. When I look up,  I see her eyes, then the hand that covers her mouth.  She leans forward,  as if to study the situation.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Sometimes the drive is so beautiful, it doesn't matter where I'm going or why. It's just important to keep on moving down the road.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Seeing Is Believing

As a child I believed that hummingbirds would die if they stopped moving. Consequently, I never saw them in any state other than flight. 

A couple of days ago I bought a small hummingbird feeder with a suction cup that allows it to be attached to the window over the kitchen sink. Now we draw lots to see who gets to do the dishes.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dog Tags

“Dog tags found around the neck of a casualty, and only those tags found around the neck, stay with the remains at all times.”  
Captain Richard W. Wooley, US Army

He didn’t die on the battlefield though he would have willingly given his life for his country or, more accurately, for his family and friends. They, of course, would have preferred that he lived his life for them.
After the accident they found his dog tags in a dresser drawer, under the discharge papers (general: less than honorable but better than dishonorable). Too wounded to make any kind of decision, the mother took it all: the clothing, dishes, record albums, broken figurines, a tattered copy of The Anarchist’s Cookbook.

At the funeral, they draped his coffin with an American flag which they folded afterwards and presented to his mother. She promised to give it to his oldest daughter, someday. And she will, but not yet. For now, the dog tags lay on the shrine she’s made to honor all her lost loved ones.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Half Way to Heaven

 We're still a ways from an open house party but this was an exciting day. We hope to finish the roof next weekend.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Where Can We Start?

A worldwide issue, poverty is felt most deeply by women and children. What can we do? I'd like to hear from you.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Organizing, Again

If I could just get organized
I'd be happy
I'd be rolling in the dough
people would come from miles around
just to admire my system
the beauty of perfectly placed shoes
the elegance of pristine table tops
the calming presence
of absolutely everything in it's place
Alas, at best, it's a work in progress
at worst, a hopeless delusion

Thursday, September 23, 2010


This wasn't exactly what I was thinking of when I searched on "hope." But this seems like an example of one of my favorite Rolling Stones songs: You don't always get what you want, but you get what you need!

Sometimes a good laugh is what I need and Mr. Hope is always able to deliver!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Just Inviting a Few Friends Over

to celebrate my birthday!
Wish you could all be here!

Friday, September 17, 2010


Where the rubber hits the road and I hit the ibuprofen!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sometimes All I Need

photo by zuanda


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Wedding

The Wedding Candles by Marc Chagall

The bride was beautiful, 
the minister a bit much, 
the rain not so bad, 
and the nineteen course 
sit-down dinner for millions 
well, just beyond belief. 
May they and we all live long and prosper.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

And the rain came down. . .

The wedding will take place outdoors at 3:00 this afternoon. Chance of rain: 40%. Rain right now: light. Chance of a beautiful wedding and joyful family and friends: 100%. Life is good. MTK!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Vacationing in Vancouver!

Here four days for a wedding. Eating too much, and having great fun. What a wonderful way to celebrate my decision to QUIT after school, forever and always. (Except for going in one last time to finish the teacher timesheets and pack up my personal stuff, etc.) It's a long boring story how it all happened that'll have to wait for another day. Suffice to say, I'm pleased with myself!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Coming Up for Air

School is harder than expected, the weather hotter, the enrollment larger, the staff...well, mostly good, some difficult, the principal a real treat, the best since Marilyn at Hall District. I'm on a dead run constantly, trying to get a passport so I can make my trip to Vancouver with Shie-fang (who knew that you needed a passport for Canada!)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

No Time

to think 
or take a drink
to have a smoke 
or tell a joke
just kicking butt
one more time
to make this school mine

checking the weather report
all the time
today will be sublime

(just joking folks 
about the smokes
will do anything for a rhyme)

For those who don't know, they called me back to Freedom Elementary to run the after school program for 5 weeks until a new site coordinator (hopefully a woman from San Diego) can take over. Will probably spend a little time with her going over the basics, then have my life back. The money's good, the challenge is, well challenging, and it feels great to see the smiles from teachers who remember me from last May. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thank Goodness for Sons

Just a quick post to let folks know I'm still kicking. John and I just spent  2 days cleaning out one of the storage units (except for the furniture!) and 2 days having a yard sale. It was pretty successful for both of us. Not much income but lots of stuff gone (including a huge load going to Goodwill!)

Starting tomorrow I will be working for after school again in Watsonville, filling in until their new After School coordinator comes on board September 25. Hopefully, the days won't be too long. And I'll have enough energy left over to keep the ole blog going!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Angelina Beloff

Diego met sculptor Angelina Beloff during his stay in Belgium in 1909. They married two years later and had a son who died at 14 months. In spite of Diego’s relationships with other women, they remained married until Diego returned to Mexico in 1921. Unable to collect court ordered alimony, Beloff supported herself teaching sculpture classes.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Diego at 20

As a teenager, Diego studied at the San Carlos School of Fine Arts where he discovered the work of the indigenous Mexican artists from the period before the arrival of the Spaniards. In 1906 at the age of 20, he left for Europe where he immersed himself in the work of French, Italian, and Spanish artists. Finally, in 1921, he was ready to return to Mexico where he would find his voice as a muralist.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Diego Rivera

Diego Rivera (and his twin brother, Carlos, on the left) were born December 8, 1886 in Guanajuato, Mexico. (Carlos died two years later.) Diego began drawing at the age of 3. To save the walls, his father build him a studio with canvas covered walls. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Need a Break?

Drop everything and get out the peanut butter and jelly!

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Long Time Ago in a Faraway Place

I left Lueders, TX, in December, 1954. This photo of the football team was taken two years later. My "true love," Johnny Lambert, is the last boy in the bottom row. I saw him only once afterwards when my father and stepmother took me by to see Granddaddy Clark. Johnny heard that I was in town (his family ran the telephone office) and came over to say hello. An awkward, self-conscious preteen, I was so embarrassed I wouldn't talk to him. I heard  later that he died young. I never forgave myself for such foolish disregard of his feelings.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Moving Forward

This is only the first step, but a very promising step. Tell your state representatives how you feel on this. It does matter! A lot!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

She Feels

flat, cold, lifeless
no shape or dimension
no meaning
anger without outlet
hurt without release
unresolved, unrealistic

unable to face the truth
unwilling to take the risk
to break the bond
let go of the last chance
to make amends
to let go of the disappointment
and accept the raw reality

Jellyfish Clouds

Jellyfish Clouds: I'd never heard this term until today but it seems totally appropriate.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I Worry

about leaders who do not listen
parents who no longer care
children who go to bed hungry
or die of curable diseases
politician without morals
voters who don't vote
species that disappear
floods that could be prevented
earthquakes and fallen villages
tornadoes and hurricanes
birds buried in tar
old people afraid to go outside
families losing their homes
lost languages
lost souls
lost hope

Monday, August 2, 2010

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

"But it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then." Alice

First published August 2, 1865, Lewis Carroll's story is subject to many interpretations and adaptations. But for children everywhere, it opened the door to new worlds and provided an ongoing source of both dreams and nightmares. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam

Watching Monty Python on tv with Cindy (Monty Python: Almost the Truth, IFC), I'm reminded of the role Spam played in my childhood. 

Using her Mouli (from France, you know), Mom would grind up Spam with pickle, onion, and mayonnaise and spread it on slices of white bread. It  felt very exotic!