Sunday, May 25, 2014

odes to spring, illustrated, because the camera died

oh them pea-picklin’ peepers
if ghouls and zombies
one-inch high
as loud as they could,
they’d sound like them peepers
in the wood
that sing and dance
water’s edge
moonlight deep
a dream between
- now and then -
- sharp and flat -
- awake, asleep -
But what comes next?
Beyond the sleep?
A dream?

stepping outside on the porch
I lie on the sofa watch “Mad Men” then go up to bed read “The Sun Also Rises” and sleep well and wake up to fresh air, one bird singing, Elliott at my feet. In the southern sky hulks of clouds and the shadow of a half moon and air filled with moisture, the grass thick and green and growing. The little garden happy with daffodils, dirt brown and rich and speckled with weeds. The sky clears but fog hangs in the branches of budding trees and dew drops cling to the needles of evergreens.

What song might one give?
If today a baby were born
what would you tell her?
What would you want her to know?
What would you say?
Good Luck?
Or, remember that sign
posted on a tree
in “The Wizard of Oz” –
I’d turn back
if I were you.

Then I thought,
while driving home on this spring day
from the farmers market
where I sold candles and
so now I have cash in my pocket
and a memory of so many kids
running amok in the sunshine
with flowers blazing
gripped tight
like flags on the 4th of July,
and I’m making this third-to-last
turn homeward,
and in letters and numbers
construed from red dots
the casino sign reads
3:14 p.m. | 75°

I think,
what song might one give?
To this person just born?
I could run through the gamut of all I thought,
and I even looked up
Billboard’s #1 Hit:
All of Me
by John Legend.
Not to be confused with
All of Me,
by anybody else,
for instance,
Ella Fitzgerald.
Then I decided on this.


Sunday, May 18, 2014


Nothing to share this week. What a relief!

All quiet along the Otter River.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

to dog or not to dog: such is the question

Sixty-five degrees and sunny. / The lightest of breezes. / The sun, two hours from setting, in a cloud-streaked sky. / Elliott and I on the evening porch and a bird is singing, one, maybe two, a robin, and the peepers are peeping soft, in the background, and a sandhill crane is out there, somewhere, trilling.

Elliott! In or out? Aw, what does it matter?

Earlier, walking dogs up at the shelter. They seem all alike in their desire to go, to walk, to move, to run. All day on a mild day I look forward to these walks with dogs in the woods on soft, well-worn trails; each time now less snow, snow vanishing, but still, down a slope, along a river, a trail covered with six inches of soft, crummy snow.

But who cares. A beagle drags me to and fro.

The dogs are all different. Some are easy to walk, not pulling so much as leading, and others are nearly impossible to walk—they pull, and they are stronger than I am. Alfie* (I mentioned her last week) leads. She puts her nose to the ground and shows me where she wants to go. She does not look up, neither left nor right, just straight ahead, goes.

What if one day she put her nose to the ground and was suddenly gone across 18 acres and beyond? This is what I think the first time I walk her, after I have already seen her and taken the tumble. And the first time I walk her I realize that if you put the first two dogs in my life together the result would be, maybe, Alfie.

The next time I walk her I realize I have never had a dog from whom I knew what to expect, meaning at the start there were never any expectations of who this dog would be, who it would become, how it would act or behave. Once I looked into adopting a racing greyhound, retired. The more I learned of what to expect, and the more I was told this is how it will be, the less interested I became.

The first dog in my life was Joey. I don’t know where he came from, or how he came to be part of our family, he was just always there from my first memory. He was a basic brown, beagle-collie mix, a happy-go-lucky troublemaker who bit mailmen and assorted others. He also devoured hidden birthday cakes and out-in-the-open peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. But he and I, well, he and I got along fine.

A happy pair.

Niki came along because of the beagle in her—my dad liked beagles. But not enough, I guess, or in such a way, to purchase one purely bred. Niki was the result of some accidental breeding that occurred in a nearby suburb. She was fun, photogenic, and a nervous wreck. During a thunderstorm, she could take out a wall.

In quieter moments, she played piano.

In my twenties, I adopted Dandy after walking through a large shelter, picking him out because of the way he sat quietly and looked at me. I had to teach him not to be afraid of a throwing motion, and I had to teach him how to swim. He then loved chasing tennis balls at the beach. He was black with salt-and-pepper toes, and he was swift, smart, soulful. A lab-spaniel mix, I think.

Waiting for the barbecue.

Buster was found, picked up out of a gutter. He was a terrier mix. Enough said. But of course you can read more, if you like.

Just a pup.

Queenie was picked out of a shelter by the man who was then my husband. I believe he chose her because she looked like Dandy, who had died just a year before. She was sweet, incredibly smart, a little sneaky. She was a border collie mix.

Very demure.

So then, why not Alfie? I am ready, but is my life? As I think it over, I think maybe I am over-thinking.

Saturday the farmers market opens for the season, so I’m busy making candles, and I’ve decided on the CD to crank up on the drive in: “The Best of John Denver Live.” Louis gave it to me in February so that while crossing the Rocky Mountains I could listen to “Rocky Mountain High.” I wish he, and you, and some dog, could be there with me.

You know, I never liked this “Sunshine” song until I heard this version, which sounds just like the one on the CD. The difference is the age in the voice and the horn. Now it seems a sweet love song, a lullaby even. Good night, little doggies.

* Alfie is not her real name. Though it could be, I suppose.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

where do all these pea picklin’ thoughts come from?

Mornings I walk through the fields to the river with Elliott. Afternoons I walk over the river via the road; Elliott stays home. The river is high and wide and muddy and laced with frothy bubbles as it surges around trees on its way to the lake.

Bubbles on a river.

One day I paused to watch wide swaths of bubbles heading toward a twiggy island and thought it was kind of like watching clouds and that I would soon be seeing images in the bubbles like an elephant or a donkey or Aunt Matilda. But all I saw were bubbles. I walked away and wondered: Where does thought come from?
Thought: 1. the act or process of thinking; reflection; meditation; cogitation (from Webster’s New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, 1986)
I was talking with my auto mechanic and snow plow guy (one and the same), ready to switch out my snow tires for regular tires. He was skeptical, reminded me that the last date he plowed last year was May 17. This year, that is the date of the first farmers market. I don’t remember that May 17 snow—all I marked on the calendar was that May 17 was the date hummie returned. The first tick had showed up the day before.
 … Thoughts enter our brain from a source that is outside of our physical body and, only when they reach the brain, does it begin to act and decipher them. … (from Israel News, 2013, #1 response from Google search where do thoughts come from)
One morning Elliott met me at the door with a mouse in his mouth.
Thought – … ; reflection, cogitation, consideration, meditation, study, lucubration, speculation, deliberation, pondering; … (from Roget’s Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases, 1937)
Some days I think I should write about writing, but then again, what would I say? That like shit, it happens?

(2011, #3 on Google search)

And the treads on all my shoes, the ones lined up by the door, are caked with mud.
Thought, the power of the mind (q.v.) to form and rationally apply general conceptions. Thinking is a complicated process that depends on pre-existing intelligence, learning, and experience. It necessitates seeing what things have in common and putting those things into new relationships; the ability to retain impression of previous situations and to recall them (memory); the symbolizing of actions and objects by words. However, in its simplest form, thought is recognizing in the mind what another thing is, and having pleasure or pain from it. … (from The New World Family Encyclopedia, Volume Seventeen, Stratosphere—Undulant Fever, 1954)
Lately deer have been coming around in ones and twos and entire herds. One morning one was napping in the yard not far from the front door. When I opened the door to let Elliott out, shutting it behind him, that deer got up, stood still, was knock-kneed and all agog staring at Elliott. Minutes passed before it loped away. I opened the door. Elliott came in.

Yes, Elliott, them deers is back.

All thoughts come from the Universal Mind. (from Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo & The Mother, #20 on Google search)
It has been a grey, damp, brown, wet, grey, damp, brown week. Except for the furry black rims on the deer’s ears, the slick red branches of the dogwood, the fuzzy green of the evergreens. Then, late Friday, the sun came out. Saturday was grey until another dinnertime flash of light. Sunday morning, grey. Around here people like to say, as they did in Chicago, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute, it will change.” Which may be true except in spring when cold drab seems to be … forever. Folks up here deal with it by pretending spring does not exist. They call it winter and say we have winter until June, then, if we’re lucky, summer, maybe.

A flash of light.

Thought … Despite the fact that thought is a fundamental human activity familiar to everyone, there is no generally accepted agreement as to what thought is or how it is created. … (from Wikipedia)
I have started walking dogs up at the local shelter, and one has touched my heart. She is an older mutt, small to middlin’ in size, has floppy ears, skinny legs, is brown with a weathered-white face. I think: love.