Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bad Poetry Day #3000

we head out
in the morning
on the long grey road
and the sky
is long and the
sky is grey and all
along the
road the wildness
grows, the flowers the
weeds the stuff
I don’t know, I
don’t know the names and
I don’t care
about the names
and the road is so
quiet so
still, we walk down
the middle of it
the grey lane
heading north then
back south, a poem
in my head as
I walk, and Josie
is in his
world and my world
is this poem that
comes back to
me now in this
other time, this time
that will not
measure up to
that morning but on
the road the
poem flowed and
knew it need never
be written.

Part 2
for the first time in
days my heart does
not feel like
bursting and I need
to know if a
person screams
and no one is there
does she make a
My heart has felt like
a suicide
bomb about
to explode and it

Part 3
Do we ever
know the path?

Part 4
This time,
when I travel west,
I want to take the northern route.
See North Dakota and Montana.
Fling myself, then,
through Idaho,
Sin City,
the desert,
hang a right,
keep going,
until I hit,
the ocean.

Part 5
The fog was
so thick we thought
it was snow.
covered the lawn.
Bounding deer
vanished before
we knew it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

five photos

Josie walks on water.

Two frogs go back in the pond.

Hedgie awaits surgery (again).

Elliott and Josie play down by the river.

We all come home.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Pea Picklin’ Positive Diary, or: How Positive Thinking Put Me in a Funk (But don’t worry! I’m OK, are you OK?)

Monday & Tuesday
Feeling fine, going about work and play and evenings on the porch. This soft air has moved in, I’ll call it August air, and it is delightful. The way it feels on the skin. Warm, slightly moist, everything slow, a slight breeze stirs it around, wraps it around, just sit. Listen to the buzz and chirp and chirra-chirra of insects hovering around the flowers, crawling through the deep grass, and the hummingbirds are coming by are whizzing by and Josie and Elliott rest.

Day One ...
1. I was nominated to share three positive things a day for seven days on Facebook.
2. This nomination stirred a few thoughts.
3. Eventually, we arrived here.

I should talk about that word “nomination,” but I won’t.

On the porch again this evening and Elliott slips into the garden, stretches out beneath the slim, green, arching leaves of the day lilies. Josie wanders off across the yard, circles back, discovers Elliott in the garden, loses interest, sits on a step, sniffs the air. That soft, August air.

Tom shows up to mow the lawn. All hell breaks loose. Josie bounds, jumps, leaps, barks. Elliott freaks, hides in that dark place far back under the back stoop.

Day Two of what I am now calling FB Positivity. I have been assured it’s just for fun. But, honestly, I don’t get it. What’s the point? There are so many questions. I have explored some of them, thought about them, written down ideas and thoughts, and the most obvious question is: Why am I doing this? Later in the day I will google “research on positive thinking” (links below), but for now I post:
1. Woke up.
2. Stretched.
3. Josie licked my face.
4. We went outside. The grass is freshly mowed and covered with dew. I noticed Josie kicking his feet out to the side as he danced across the lawn.
5. It is 42 degrees.
6. Made Irish Breakfast tea.
7. Played with Resurrection Hedgie.*
8. Broke the rules.
* Meanwhile, Josie pulled all the stuffing out of
Hedgie the Squeaky Hedgehog so I had to restuff Hedgie and
sew him up. Needle + Thread = Resurrection.

Mid-afternoon, Josie and I walk to the river. Tom mowed the path to the river so it is now a boulevard. In the river I walk to the old island. Josie follows along on shore and eventually skips through shallow water to reach the quasi island. The water is colder, clearer, swifter than it was two weeks or so ago, when we last did this, when I carried Josie upriver. This time, it seems clear he prefers to do it his way.

I sit on a log under which water flows over a bed of multi-colored pebbles. Just in front of me the bed is banked by another log, creating a step down. The water there is about eight inches deep. Then another log and a drop into the deep pool, maybe six or eight feet down. Water flows by, swirls a bit, releases negative ions, or so I suppose because you can’t see negative ions, but I had just been reading about them, and this spot here seems like their milieu. It is pleasant, but I feel increasingly troubled.

Later, I prepare my FB Positivity post for the next day, Day Three.
So two days ago someone tagged me into this FB Positivity game and by late yesterday it had me in a funk because I found myself judging everything I was doing or thinking, or thinking of doing. Is this positive? Hmmm. Would that be negative? Hmmm. And since the norm seems to be to use the words “positive” and “negative” as if they were synonyms for “good” and “bad,” well, there you go. To spend all day consciously judging one’s self really kind of sucks. Or, maybe I should be judging others? So

1. I drove to the corner store and got a bottle of wine and an ice cream bar. Back home I poured myself a glass of wine with two ice cubes and sat down to write about how thinking about positive thinking was messing me up.
2. Josie went with me.
3. I realized how I really prefer to be non-judgmental about most things, if I can, and it’s hard work, being non-judgmental. And now I’d just gone and let this thing on Facebook play foolish games with me. I’d spent the day looking at most everything through this positive/negative lens. Nothing was allowed to just be. Everything was judged. And it was a horrible, horrible drag.
4. But, you know what? I ain’t gonna stop playing this game. Here are three positive things:
1. Breakfast.
2. Lunch.
3. Dinner.
4. Ice cream! (Yep, that’s the bonus.)
But that’s not what I posted. I posted something similar, but not that. And now I’m thinking of the eye doctor I had as a kid. I’ve got terrible eyesight. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was eight. And our family eye doctor was German. As you sat in the chair peering at the eye chart through that gargantuan black metal thing with the two little portholes and all the lenses, she would change a lens with a little click-click and ask, “Is this better or vorse?” Even now I can feel the slight stress of having to decide: Is this better or vorse?

Before I started judging every little thing I was doing and thinking, and then stopped, realizing what a dangerous folly it was, I came up with a bunch of “positive things” lists, just in case I went dry somewhere along the way to seven days. The very first list that came to mind was
1. Ten years ago I moved to the U.P.
2. In a few weeks I will be moving (temporarily) to California.
3. I remain relatively the same.
And there was a list that ended with the word “dictionary” and a picture.

Making up lists of positive things was incredibly easy. Here’s my favorite:
1. Me. (Most of the time.)
2. You. (Maybe.)
3. The rest of ’em? Bah. Who cares?
But thinking about it all, and thinking about how words and concepts are so often treated as all-important but then bandied about as if they were meaningless, and considering that the dictionary instructs one to see the word “sure” for synonyms of “positive,” well, I’m not at all sure I’m going to keep playing this Positivity game.

A hot day at the farmers market. Back home I plop in the river and Josie chases dragonflies. I enjoy dangling from my favorite branch, floating in the water, but I bemoan my lack of skill when it comes to confrontation. I really must learn when not to engage and when and how to say “Back off.”

Elliott scratches his head.

Now, another incredibly warm, soft, August evening on the porch, not giving a damn if it’s good or bad, right or wrong, positive or negative, just relieved that it is, whatever it is, and watching as whatever it is slowly vanishes, turns into something else, something like night, a night with a warm August moon the color of vanilla ice cream, nearly a full scoop, rising in a pinkish southern sky.

The first four articles that popped up in the Google search, in order of appearance:

1. Positive thinking: Stop negative self-talk to reduce stress (Mayo Clinic)
2. The Science of Positive Thinking: How Positive Thoughts Build Your Skills, Boost Your Health, and Improve Your Work (James Clear, Huffington Post)
3. The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking (Adam Alter, The New Yorker)
4. Can Positive Thinking Be Negative? (Scott O. Lilienfeld and Hal Arkowitz, Scientific American)

I must acknowledge Amber Edmondson, whose “positivity” posts I was enjoying until I got wrapped up in my own. Also, from her I got the word “positivity.” Also, Cindy Baker. Even though by the end of the week she was just pissing me off, I know she meant well, and she did put me on this path, and who knows what else I might have written about this week. Just some drivel about my life, I suppose.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Plethora of the Swirling Universe

If Josie were a cartoon character his name would be Jumpin’ JoJoBeans. And he may have once been, you know, in the funny pages of, say, 1933, in Akron, Ohio, and he has been on the lam for years and rather enjoying it.

one morning

In another lifetime, I bet Louis and I were the best of friends, since birth.

The Wishnick
Google “wishnick,” you’ll get trolls, those funky, naked, wild-haired dolls of the 1960s and ’70s and many more decades. At one time they were called Wishniks. The history is dense. It spans not only generations but oceans and then there’s this lawsuit … well. The Wishnick I have (intentionally spelled with a “c” and an arbitrary uppercase “W”) looks very little like a troll but for the wild hair, which is a great poof of indigo blue yarn.

my bedside Wishnick

I bought my Wishnick at the farmers market and was told it was a Wishnick and got a load of instructions on how to use it properly when making a wish, to ensure said wish coming true, which is why I went to the internet, to see if these instructions were for real or just something this little girl was making up as she went along and I followed. But, I found no instructions for wishing on a Wishnik (the troll version). So I decided to accept the rules I had been given which means, for one, I cannot tell you my wishes. But I do believe I can tell you that I have wished. But only if I have woken up in the middle of the night and felt so inclined and reached out for my Wishnick with the poof of indigo blue hair and made my wish quietly in my head so no one could hear, not even Jumpin’ JoJoBeans, who sleeps at my side. I try make simple wishes, and it is a very comforting thing to do in the middle of the night.

Neal 10508
So I woke up the other morning with a repetition in my head: Neal 10508, Neal 10508, Neal 10508. Was it the remnant of a dream in which I had to remember Neal one-o-five-o-eight, or … ?

This Year’s Fawns

The Continuing Adventures of Elliott
One morning Elliott crawled into Josie’s bed and spent the day there. This bed is in Josie’s crate which during the week is underneath the kitchen table, which is where I work, making candles, and so that is where Josie likes to sleep. But this day—Uh oh! Occupied! Josie let Elliott have the bed. Elliott fills the bed from bolster to bolster, from fore to aft, from side to side.

Another morning Elliott pounced on the one thing I’ve bought for Josie that he has never paid any attention to—a small hard plastic bone. Elliott pounced on it, batted it around a bit. Josie bounded over, watched, wagged his tail. Elliott feigned indifference and walked away. Josie returned to his spot in the chair by my side. A few minutes passed. Then, Elliott returned, pounced on the hard plastic bone, batted it around a bit, fell onto his side, reached out with a paw, teased the bone, made it move. Josie bounded over. Watched. Wagged his tail. Elliott stood up, walked over to the door, sat down, stared at it. I got up, opened the door, Elliott went out.

Life in this Eden
One day a while back a neighbor stopped by. She was carrying a dead bird, held it out to show me. She was looking for a place to bury it.

The Bird in the Garden
A dead bird was found in the garden. My neighbor picked it up, placed it atop the hose wrapped around the hose reel, said she would take it with her, bury it later. Later, after she was gone, I noticed the bird atop the hose. She had forgotten to take it with her. It was an unremarkable bird in size and coloring, but it did lack a head. On its back atop the hose, its feet stuck straight up in the air.

jumpin’ jojobeans, the garden, no dead bird

Let the Season Play
A big thing or two or three happened in the world of baseball this week as there was a trading deadline (a mad swapping between teams of well-known, coveted players as well as those mysterious players “to be named later”) and you know how people like to talk and speculate about these things, about what might happen, about what has happened, about what will happen. Well, one perk of being a Cub fan is that at this point in the season most often you can just sit back, relax, enjoy, not worry, be happy. There’s nothing to get too excited about. Nothing to get too upset about, either (well, there’s always something), so let everyone else fuss and fret and boast and bemoan and, I bet, waste their nightly wishes on grandiose, other-worldly things. Well, what do I know about it? This year, because I recently saw the movie “Moneyball,” I think I’ll keep an eye on the Oakland Athletics. See how they do on the homestretch into October. (Let’s see now, what’s their Cub Factor again?)

Meanwhile, there’s always possum delays and the like.

Mornings on the Porch
Still, quiet, damp—a little haze burning off with the rising sun. An earthly heaviness. Later, a plethora of insects. Josie will chase butterflies, hornets, flies, bees, and he will watch ants and stick his nose into their business. He will jump at grasshoppers and snap at mosquitoes. He will sit at my feet, rest in the sun.

saturday night, doing dishes