Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Up in the air!

So a couple years ago I was visiting some friends up in the Arrowhead, on the shore of the Great Lake, one of whom is a native of the band that lives on the reservation there, and the other of whom is a member by marriage. One of the stories they shared with me and my traveling companion was that of a partly-deaf elder who, because of his impaired hearing, was under the impression that, when the metaphorical ball dropped to mark the passage of the old year into the new, everyone present was shouting "up in the air!" in celebration of the occasion...which is pretty hilarious and also strangely appropriate, for a night like tonight.  Up in the air, all...up in the air!!

(Come to think of it, it may have been that he was not hard-of-hearing, but hard-of-English. Either way...)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I got one, a Christmas gift from somebody-or-another that I probably could have done without.

No chills, fortunately, except the one in the air. I'm told it's below zero here, and it feels like it.

Look, you know, just because I'm cranky as hell and couldn't be less excited about attempting to celebrate another whole year of my insignificant life being plunged down the toilet of time doesn't mean I don't understand how good my life is, in this cozy house (aka my home) and this fair city and this abundant state and this dominant country (I 'merican and cognizant of it), in my well-fed body in the company of my loving family and my exceptional friends, and all the amazing life and matter on this singular planet, somewhere in this vast and mysterious universe... 

I do. I really do.

But what difference does that make?

Monday, December 29, 2014

So long

2014: Year of the Let Down. 

The end--and the beginning--draws nigh...  

Frankly, this year has been, for me, mostly one big disappointment.  It's been less fulfilling, less hopeful, less purposeful, less productive, less creative, less inspired, less joyful, less meaningful, less exciting, less relaxing, less fun and less rewarding than any other year in recent memory.  I have arrived at the end of it a less loving, less trusting, less articulate, less informed, less active, less aware, less engaged, less vital, less confident, less funny, less musical, less smart and also somewhat fatter person than I started out.  All told, it was one of the most depressing and lonesome years of my life, on record.

But I got through it, actually pretty well by most accounts, and I learned a few things.

I learned to let go. Not of everything, but of a lot of things, including maybe some things that I shouldn't have, but I only have so much room here, and anything that doesn't make life better or easier just isn't worth holding onto for too long. That includes some material things, but mostly ideas and feelings and beliefs and thoughts, as well as some hopes and expectations and desires. If they don't serve you well, then, well, how do they serve you, if at all?

I learned that I have given a great deal more, and less, than I'd thought--and received much the same, in turn. It all balances out, I suppose, although it can be as misguided to place too much importance on your intentions, as it is to try to comprehend the consequences of your actions, or those of others. That's just energy wasted, and goodness knows we need to learn how to manage our energy resources better if we hope to survive.

I learned that my self-esteem is a rather intimate situation that I have not been handling with great care or respect. I honestly thought we were getting along just fine until I noticed that I wasn't laughing at my own jokes anymore, and I was avoiding sleeping on my side of the bed. But Love is a two-way street; you have to be willing to give in order to receive--and vice versa. (It's also a good idea to stick with driving on one side of that road, unless you're playing chicken, in which case you'll just want to make sure you've got the toughest vehicle.)

I learned that one way to guarantee a really shitty year is not to spend enough time outside doing things you love, with people you love.

I learned that money can buy happiness, up to a point, as evidenced by all the people who were apparently more than happy to take my money, and also by the hot tub.

I learned that having a good hairstylist might not be as good as having a boyfriend, but there is only one of those I can't live without.

I learned that it's really best to sleep when you're tired.

I learned that some of the people who love me the most are the people I see the least, and that may not be the best arrangement for any of us, but it's a whole lot better than not seeing each other at all.

I learned that honesty is not a policy. It's a way of living and being, it's a practice and a promise, and it's one I need to make to myself, and keep, every day. Everything else will come naturally.

I learned that there is little sweeter in this world than being someone's favorite--or second favorite--aunt, because I am one (and I'm a niece, too). It's important to be important to someone, and know you make them happy.

These mostly seem like things I should have already known, and possibly did know already, but learning isn't a one-time event. Imagine, for example, learning to shoot a bow by doing so only once. So much for improving your form, or fine-tuning your technique, much less hitting your target... 

Aim to learn the things you love. There's no sense in knowing anything else by heart.

I learned how to do a butterfly roll, how to recover myself and my vessel safely, and to help recover others.

I learned how many loads of shit it takes to make a garden.


I'm glad this year is over, and I won't miss it any more than I already have.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My love will grow old like a knarled tree stump

Happy cheddar bearshiness--I mean Christmas--everyone!

Much love...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oh heck, it's up to my neck

Goodness! I'm late this morning. I slept like a log last night, albeit one that was floating downstream on a mighty river... night before last, I dreamt of the big lake, or the ocean perhaps, perfectly quiet, shrouded in mist, and still as glass... last night, a walk through a wide river-bottom had me follow a rocky red path through deepening waters, until I was met rather suddenly by a rushing, rolling river like I have never seen.  My destination was around a large bend and further up the bank, but there was no passage.  Even turning around was almost an impossibility, as the waters behind me had quickly closed in to the point that I could not see a way, and even if I could... I would surely be swept away. Fortunately someone pulled up in some kind of truck-boat at that very moment, and drove me to a ramshackle place up the road where there were a bunch of peculiar dogs with ears big as bats, and fur as soft as...whatever is softer than bat fur.  The woman and her entourage there seemed to be up to something shady, at this roadside attraction, but since my hero turned out to be Kevin Nealon, I decided it was time to wake up and get on with my day. 

Those waters were powerful. Suit of cups comes to mind...

Thank goodness, for sleeping hard, and for the light inch of snow that fell here overnight. 

Now off to the rug laundry, and to work...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Small wonders

So, at this fab party I went to this past weekend, it just so happened that one of the guests was a woman who used to hang out at the house where I lived my first few years, a place which we (all of us who ever knew it) all affectionately still call by its street name (and in fact one of the sometime residents of the upstairs apartment actually named her son after that street), and this woman, of whom I had no memory at all, remembered me as a baby, a toddler, a tiny girl of two. There was a story about my name that went along with it, involving children and dogs, of course. She was a vibrant woman, happily married to a handsome man, and I do wish I remembered her name...There were a lot of "those kind" of people there that night--successful, healthy, good-looking, seemingly sane and intelligent, amiable, a bit weird, etc.--and, being younger than most of them, it was nice to meet a few positive role models. Quite refreshing.

Oh yes, I remember now...

For some reason I looked back at some old writing today, and found something kind of wonderful that I had completely forgotten. Actually, that's not unusual, and is maybe the biggest reason that I continue to write here, of even the most mundane things, in the least eloquent ways... I find, when I revisit those old words, that they weave a tapestry of memory which is frequently far more beautiful, and more complex, than anything I am able to recall, in the dusty recesses of my mind (to steal a phrase). Words of my own, from years ago, are a time capsule of sorts, a message in a bottle to my future self, a love letter sent to someone I will never meet... 

Among the surprises today was a comment from someone who I do not know, but whose fine praise lifted my flagging spirit, all these many years later:  
Your writing is beautiful, stunning, and luminous. My god. I don't have [time] at the moment to read all your posts but rest assured I will.
Serendipitously perhaps, this stranger had arrived here in search of a certain variety of corn that I had been excited to grow.  Little do we know, sometimes, little do we know.

I'm still excited to grow. Sometimes I forget that the past isn't something we leave behind, it's something we carry forward.

With gratitude.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Nothing of importance whatsoever

Please pardon, if you will, yesterday's post.  I let a rotten mood get the better of me.

Fortunately it was turned on its head by an evening out with my favorite aunt and her husband, who introduced me to a crowd of interesting and congenial folks at a welcoming and unusually inspiring space, in the form of a renovated Masonic temple.  Great live music in the old great hall, with much dancing and revelry, made for a fun night. It's been a while since I've been a very social animal, and it was good to be out for a bit, in an unfamiliar place, enjoying the company of strangers.

I gave myself license to sleep in for as long as I wished this morning, which I've been sorely needing to do. Sleep has eluded me the past couple weeks, save a night here or there, and it was starting to show... I was a little surprised to notice upon waking this morning that I looked quite a bit younger than I had the day before, and today proceeded to be a pretty relaxing day, for the most part... I'm sure I could have accomplished more, but for some reason I just couldn't get the "to-do" list to boot up in my central processor today, and I can't say I'm very sorry about that.  Most of the time it seems I've got a running list of what I need to do or should be doing or should be thinking about doing, etc., so I'm okay letting this be a day of rest, and reflection.

It was in the mid-fifties here today, grey and damp, a bit dreary and vaguely depressing. The snow is all but gone now, after the unseasonable warmth of the past few days, and any prospect of skiing or winter activities is looking pretty slim at this point.  A white Christmas seems highly unlikely.  The weather is what it is, as they say, but what it is kinda sucks, in my opinion. I miss the cold, I miss snow, I miss skiing, and I don't like not having Winter, when it should be here.

If you were looking for a few pointless thoughts for today, there you have them.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Eat It

Shit sandwich, with a side of cold crap, a fresh roll of bs, and a tall glass of disregard to wash it all down.  Now doesn't that just hit the spot?  Mmm-hm...

Friday, December 12, 2014

The city spectacular

Stabbing, throwing knives.
It's good to see each other, after all that 
time, to cry and talk, and
then we fight, lay into each other
like nobody's business.

I pierced the box on purpose,
last night, not really out of anger,
but today I lost it, threw it hard
against the range. We carried on,
continued cleaning.

This isn't a fucking poem.
I forgot my boots and had to come
all the way back here, for them,
but the traffic was better and so was the music,
the second time around.
 I love old country.
I made a good run, once or twice missed
my lens, while quick billows of pink rose high
above the cool blue shadows, the light
as yellow as something I once knew
as home. On the way back I decided
to take the new bridge, and cross
where I could look upstream
at the setting sun, and every breath of it
was more beautiful than my on fire,
the city spectacular, my heart still
pounding, we are more beautiful than we know,
and let us never speak of this again.


It's the little things

On Friendship
Kahlil Gibran

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay."
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I always had this idea I would be good at something

Quote of the day, from the esteemed John Cleese:

“And then I began to see that the world is such a mess, as I think you guys know…It’s such a complete cock-up, and it’s never going to be rational place because all the people in charge are the people who seek power, who are almost by definition assholes, who only the use the power for their own purposes, not to make things better—there’s a few exceptions, but not many—and you realize there’s no chance, and people…there’s a guy at Cornell, where I’m a phony professor, called David Dunning, and he’s discovered—I love this—that in order to know how good you are at something requires the same skills or aptitudes as it does to be good at that thing. So the corollary is hilarious, which is that if you’re no good something, you lack exactly the skills that you need to know you’re no good. Now that’s hilarious but it explains so much...There’s so many people out there who think they know what they’re talking about and they’re not intelligent enough to know that they don’t.”


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Remind me again why this is a good idea

A couple weeks ago, sort of out of the blue, I decided to sign up for QuitPlan. It's not that I wanted to quit smoking, or that I had been trying to quit and failing, but I'd come to realize that I was--or am--seriously addicted to nicotine. That, and I had over the course of the past four or five months developed an unpleasant, unhealthy and persistent cough, which was a pretty good indication to me that I'd had enough.

I've never been a "serious" smoker.  Smoking a pack a day, much less two or three, is practically unimaginable to me. But in recent years I'd come to know and depend on nicotine in ways I never thought I would. It's a fascinating and powerful drug, and despite smoking's many (non-smoking and often vociferous) critics, there are some pretty great things about both smoking and nicotine. I would go so far as to say that, under certain circumstances both internal and external, cigarettes can not only be pleasurable, but also beneficial. This obviously isn't a popular opinion, and it's a hard one to defend in some contexts, but as a lifelong aficionado of sociology, psychology, herbalism, dreamtime, riff-raff, fire, stories, spirituality and ritual, I can say that I've learned a quite a lot from the genus Nicotiana (as well as from the entire Solanaceae family, but that's another story, or several), and I have a degree of respect and gratitude for that knowledge and experience.

Nonetheless, the time has come to call it quits. The truth is that I would rather not quit altogether--I find nicotine to be a powerful ally and a pleasant companion, from time to time--but I just can't seem to moderate my use of it, or perhaps I had afforded it too prominent a position in my day-to-day existence. This habit seemed to be occupying an important space that should be filled by something, or someone, else--even if that was "only" me...

I'm not sure what prompted me to visit the QuitPlan website on that particular day, or why I signed up for the program. I'm not much of a "joiner", and it wasn't something I did with great intent or expectation, it was just a side note on an otherwise hum-drum day, or so it seemed. Oddly enough, after signing up, I told a couple people that I had done so, as if to announce my intentions, but without really feeling any, if that makes any sense... I've done this enough times, and my attitude about it has evolved to the point that it doesn't seem like a huge deal, and it doesn't really matter to me if I change my mind, or relapse or whatever they like to call it. As long as I'm not destroying my health and a slave to habits I don't really control, I'm okay with having a smoke now and then, and I likely will. 

Anyway, on the day I actually did "quit" (or at least my first day without a cigarette in quite a few months, if not a year or more), I got a call from a number I didn't recognize, which turned out to be the QuitPlan folks. I hadn't set a quit date, so it was just a coincidence that they decided to call that day, but the timing was serendipitous.

I've been smokeless for five days now.  On the whole this has been tremendously easier than past attempts, without the obliterating emotional meltdowns, for the most part, and without the absurd and futile ransacking of house and home for cigarettes that are not there, or the nail-biting or the paranoia or many of the rest of the very long list of seriously bothersome and challenging withdrawal symptoms. Even so, I've had many moments, including right about now, that I find my mind wandering toward the back steps, to stand under the stars for a moment, and take a few deep breaths... 

And all these words were mainly just to say that it's actually been incredibly helpful to have someone, however anonymous and remote, offering me some support during these past few days. I wouldn't have guessed that an automated text or an unanswered phone call (from an actual human being) would make any difference, but it really has. It's been truly helpful, at just the right times, and even though I'm used to doing somewhat difficult things on my own, I've needed and appreciated the encouragement for this one. So thanks for that, whoever you are, even if you're just doing your job. It helps.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Go figure

Sometimes when you hear a story that doesn't make any fucking sense, it's not because life can get really inexplicably weird at times, it's just because the story isn't true.


re: Psalm 143:8

I've been feeling somewhat strangely and inherently optimistic these past few weeks, kinda like something beautiful is coming my way and everything is all right in the world, and today is going to be a good day...Like when I get home there will be a surprise package at my door and someone will be waiting, happy to see me.  That's a pretty nice feeling, for about four seconds.  Then it's just a nuisance, like an adorable puppy that won't stop pulling at your shoelaces. 

Lucky I'm wearing clogs today.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

No shame

Chicken skin, for dinner.

Hot tub, for therapeutic benefits.

Home, for the love of everything I hold dear...I'll hold it as close as I can, even if it sometimes feels very far from where I am.

Life is good. I can't deny that, and why would I want to?

Sometimes we just have to dance

Sunday, November 16, 2014

When the cold sets in

Winter scares me a little.  I like that.

And I love this: 

(...followed, strangely, by this:


Friday, November 14, 2014

For it is in giving that we receive.

“You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness. We pardon to the extent that we love. Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again. The great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves and even loved in spite of ourselves.”
– Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Friday, October 31, 2014

Off to the ball...

Thank goodness for fairy godmothers!

Ashes to Ashes

I would like to be out reveling tonight, in the company of friends, getting some kind love from other strangers in costume, enjoying what this dark night has to offer.

I could go as Cinderella, before the pumpkin and the prince, the tired and mistreated girl with too much work to do...

But that's a pretty lame costume, maybe.

It would be truly miraculous if I could get it all done before the ball...

It's painfully difficult to see how that can possibly happen given the pile of shit that's on my plate today, but I shall do my best, and perhaps I can conjure up a little bibbidi bobbidi...Boo!

Trick or Treat.

Guess you get what you ask for.

Better luck at the next house! ;)


Evidence suggests...that things are not always what they seem, or are said to be.

One is left to wonder.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

(re) consideration

all is well, and it is possible to enjoy a moment of quiet solitude in the back yard, as the mist settles among the changing colors. I love the Fall, and things are simply what they are, mostly beautiful...

gratitude to all who share the love, and pay it forward.

Give me a break

Warning! More tiresome woe-is-me ungrateful self-centered venting ahead.

Today has sucked from before the moment I woke up, in more ways than one and for reasons that probably have everything to do with the weather and the moon.  I am disappointed in everything and everyone and I am tired of expressions of bullshit gratitude, on my part or anyone else's. Go to work, make it happen, help someone out if you can't help yourself, ask for help if you need it, quit complaining and stop expecting someone else to do it for you.  

I am the only person who is capable of making this day better for me and that is of utmost importance. No one is going to come along and make my day, although someone did yesterday when they found my sunglasses. It's also pretty darn nice to come home to dinner on the stove, beer in the fridge and dishes washed.  Nonetheless it's up to me to change my attitude and stop feeling and behaving like a piece of human trash.

Last night I had a heart-breaking dream in which I nearly lost my home, or had to say goodbye to it, and that along with other emotional chapters of that story colored my day even greyer than the misty dark skies that covered the city today, and enveloped the skyscrapers downtown in a shroud of why-the-fuck.

Too many people around me having problems right now that are seeping into my consciousness, and not enough hard work and play time. I need fresh air, I need something good, I need an idea, I need a smile. A long-awaited road-trip north may have to go on without me, my closest friends are in a mess of trouble and my lover has gone out to sea. I've been called a healer and a saint by a couple different people in the past few days but I am losing my will to help. It doesn't come from my heart, which has been more or less cut out of the equation at this point.

It does come back to gratitude, for gardens, for old and new friends, for a healthy loving family, for the body that carries me, for the house that shelters me, for a good meal, for work that pays the bills, for people who do real work in this world, for all of it really, and for the ability to change one's circumstances by changing one's mind.

In a way, every thought is a decision.

End of pointless rant.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Bright Sunshine-y Day

A week of missteps, misguidance and missed opportunities--mostly of my own doing, in one way or another, or many--has left me feeling a little less than primed to enjoy the sun-drenched heat wave that is washing over the Midwest right now... I'm looking forward to enjoying the company of a visitor from afar, soon, but today I just feel lost and lonesome, off-track and out of time, left behind and less than loved, and very much missing something quite dear and once familiar to me that I guess I can only describe as home... Ah, but it's a beautiful day, why not enjoy it??

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A beautiful day

I've no complaints, but there are days when it would be good to come home to a hug. Perhaps one day, perhaps.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Low clouds are moving light tonight, in a swift north-westerly direction, and Seven Sisters hang in the sky over the roof of my house, a sight I do not often see this time of year.  It is late, but the stagnant, heavy air that has hovered over us the past few days has given chase, and I am restless.  Sleep has not come easily to me, these two nights past--or perhaps it is that I have not sought it. So, a bedtime story...

This morning, while making my way toward something I hoped might propel me on a new trajectory, a few words on the radio caught my attention.  An Arctic owl was found dead earlier this week, along the I35 corridor in northern Minnesota.

This reminded me that I had awoken earlier that morning to a dream in which there appeared a very large grey and white owl, bigger than any I've seen.  I was out in a canoe, on open water, and first spotted it some way across the lake, hovering as if to dive and catch a fish, as an osprey or an eagle would.  Moments later it plunged, feet first, down into the water, fully submerging for a few seconds before rising up to hover and descend, once again, this time only a few yards away.  I wondered at its great size, its beauty, its uncharacteristic behavior, and waited to see what it might have caught. Its proximity elicited in me a sense of profound awe, mingled with that certain sort of excitement one feels in the presence of wild and magnificent things. Within my next breaths I became aware of my mother's presence in the canoe with me, and the owl, which was now nearly overhead, plunged into the water right beside us, little more than an arm's length away.

Apparently someone was "tweeting" on behalf of the snowy owl that died, some nonsense about its spirit and intentions and all angels having white wings.  It makes me wonder... I can't help but wonder, how many humans still are visited by animal spirits, in flesh or in dreams, and how many of those yet comprehend the language of such calls. Would it were more, and would I were one of them.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


I love the way my Volvo handles.  I really do.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


by way of context.

in our hearts

a friend shared with me this song tonight,

and despite all that I know, the changing climate, this dying planet, and all to come,  it touched me
and perhaps I can hold a bit tighter when I see my young niece and nephew in the days ahead,
and hold hope for

Friday, August 15, 2014


I really shouldn't feel like a failure tonight, but not succeeding can sometimes make you feel that way.

Maybe let down would be a better way of putting it. I just couldn't get it. I suppose I will, eventually, but once in a while it would be nice if I could not have to be reminded of how not smart I am.

Ah well, it's all good... though I miss the stars tonight, like the sky is black.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Like I'm ready to roll

A good friend of mine said to me recently: you need to be in water.

And boy, was she right about that.

Today I went to my first real on-water kayaking class, to learn how to roll...and at the end of the evening, under the nearly-full and brightening moon, I left the lake wet, happy, singing, and wanting more.

This friend of mine also once told me, after I'd spent a good hour bobbing and swimming in the warm blue oceans of Maui, that I looked like an otter out there...which is one of the finest compliments I can think of.

I'm happiest on the water, in the water, near the water, and that's where I ought to be. (and in the winter, water = snow.)

It turned out there were only three of us tonight--myself, another guy, and our young instructor, so we got a lot of hands-on attention and the class ended up going on for an hour longer than scheduled.  It was a perfect prelude to tomorrow, when I will be spending the whole day on the water, learning any number of things that I already know, need to know, do not yet know, and must learn how to do.

I didn't make nearly as much progress as my classmate did today, but I'm confident I'll get it down, under and over, with a little more focus and a lot more practice.  I've got a new stash of pretty much excellent gear, all acquired at the right time for the right price, and you better believe I intend to use it.  I'm ready to roll.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

If you don't have anything nice to say, try listening

There are some things it's good to hear, sometimes, such as:

Are you really forty??? as uttered by your 29-year-old dental hygienist and new mom who "just happened to glance" at your chart while cleaning your teeth

We still can, as asserted by your best all-weather friend, in response to your lame sad excuses and attempt to bail on hanging out one fine summer evening, which we did anyway and which was good regardless and for which I am grateful

What's above our house? followed up by What's below our house? as pondered by your three-year-old niece, to her mother, during one of her routine bedtime philosophizing sessions

If [me, myself and I] can do it, then I can, as put forth by a dear old college friend who was divorced in the last year and recently decided to try meeting someone online and has now been on several dates since we last saw each other in June, after perhaps a decade (in a sweet surprise reunion arranged by my brother-in-law, for my sister, at my niece's birthday party)

Ah, it smells like Mother Nature's Pantry in here, as proclaimed by my sweet and thoughtful sister upon entering my kitchen, with memory of the thickly scented stairway up to the old apartment over the co-op in our college town, where I and others I am fond of once lived.  We sat out on the patio and plucked basil leaves over beers, and then enjoyed a fine dinner of rice pasta with chicken and red and yellow pear tomatoes with parmesan, fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and basil drizzled with olive oil and balsamic, topped off with incredibly delectably possibly perfect pesto on fresh bread or (argh...ok! fine) in my case, just mozzarella and fingers. 

Someone still will, as stated in all seriousness by my mechanic, looking me straight in the eye and without missing a beat, in response to my saying that I'd rather hoped someone would be willing to take on my Volvo as a Labor of Love, before I learned that I have a burnt valve on cylinder two.  Both he and his son had assured and subsequently explained in detail to me that, regardless of my oil issues, this was neither my fault nor my doing.  He went on to say that there are lots of men who work on cars these days--and lots of women, too--and actually suggested without any hint of nonsense that I could fix it myself, just get the parts from that one well-known retailer in WI, go online and learn how it's done and then take it very, very slow, and he even went so far as to tell me on my way out the door to give him a call if I decided to do so and needed any advice. This man is not quite old enough to be my father but I appreciated his slightly paternal and mostly unwarranted yet clearly well-informed and honestly inspiring sense of confidence that I could tackle that repair and succeed. As it stands, after telling me the bad news and letting me know that it would cost a grand to fix the cylinder, they just disabled the fuel injector for a mere $100, a workaround that most shop-owners would not divulge to their clients, much less offer outright as the most viable option. These guys are honest, serious, kind, and not full of shit, and do I appreciate that. And the truth is, though I am ready at this point to retire her if I must--and I must, and I do have a replacement in my sights or at very least my imagination--I would fix every broken part of my little red brick-wagon, myself, if only I had the tools, even if it took years.  For now, I guess we'll just keep on truckin'...even if it is for just a little while, and we don't get anywhere fast.

Good night, happy dreams, which was the beginning of what my mom used to say to us as kids every night, with the end always being I love you, see you in the morning

Peace and gratitude.

P.S. Just for the record, I do realize that I have changed person/voice freely in these paragraphs but this blog is not a grammar lesson, it's just a half-assed online journal so we think it's OK to write as we want.

It's just another do do do do

It's strange, as a human, to be phased out, like a pair of pants you used to wear all the time but now you only put on when you can't find anything else.  I think I'd rather be stuffed in a bag and sent off to Good Will, where at least someone might cut me into pieces and make a quilt of me, or use me for painting.

It's also strange to dream of big red white and blue ship launchings, and the random severed arm here and there, but I'll have to wait to think about that until I get on the train because I'm already running late and as usual I can't find any pants to wear.

Big day today, could be do-or-die for the Volvo. Hoping she's still got a few months to go...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Count on it

Well, I'm back from a perfectly lovely week on the North Shore of my favorite Lake (is it? I've never said that before, exactly.) and much to my recent dismay I have found out that it takes approximately six days in the city and four days back at work for me to feel vaguely as though life is coming to an end.

Today in a somewhat stark but nonetheless pleasant moment I realized that I honestly do not know the answer to the question "what have I got to lose?"...

Even so I had a nice dinner alone tonight, including mint and basil and cilantro and radish and garlic chives and nasturtiums from the garden, chicken from the grill and odds and ends from the fridge and cupboard...

this is what emotional eating looks like. (no cherry on top.)

I'd really wanted to do some writing about the all-too-brief trip before its memory drifted off to distant shores, but it's fading nearly as fast as the evening sun (though it lingers sweetly) and at the moment I'd best be off for a walk in this delicious weather, and save my thoughts for another time. More coming.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I need to do some writing.

I miss it.  Or, I miss being able to look back and remember all that has happened over the past year or two, or more, and learn a few new things, as well.  I miss taking the time to reflect and take photos and share some of my modest life with the very few of you out there who I know stay connected to me, from time to time, through my writing here.

It's not that I haven't had time. Sure, things have been busy, but in truth, I've been purposelessly neglecting this page, for quite a long time now. Perhaps I've grown tired of maintaining a presence here that doesn't seem to reflect certain aspects of my current existence. Perhaps I've grown lazy.  Perhaps I would rather not reflect on my activities and feelings. Perhaps I've lost the knack. Perhaps words cannot do justice. Perhaps a lot of things. But it would be a lie to say that I've not had time.

Yesterday evening I was sitting in a salon, waiting a few minutes for a haircut, and I picked up a magazine that was lying nearby, the kind of thing it's interesting to flip through maybe once a year.  On a page's worth of quotes from celebrities I've never heard of, these words caught my eye:
"There is always enough time. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone's excuse is 'I didn't have time.' From getting important work done to texting someone back, you always have time if it matters."
Of course, this woman probably didn't have to feed the kids, mow the lawn, take her aging grandmother to the doctor, paint the garage, or write a dissertation, among the many other possibilities, although she did apparently manage to write a pretty crappy book.  Anyway, the point is that it doesn't really matter how busy you are, think you are, want to be, or try to be.  The more I think about those words the more they seem to ring true. It's not the time you have, it's the time you make. You find time. And if you don't have time in your life for the things that matter, then maybe it's time to let a few things go. 

So, I'm going to work on that and get back here just as soon as I can. It's not that I can't make time, but it's probably true that I just don't have a mind to do it, or the heart for it (which are probably even poorer excuses!), although maybe I'll feel differently after a week on the shore. I hope so, and I shall return...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Truth is Hard to Come By

Some people get it and some people don't.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

No Good Morning

Get up.  

Remember your dreams.

Take a shower, fix your hair, change your attitude, find some faith. Choose love. 

Change your attitude, have faith, choose Love.

Get going.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Long Exposure

I think where cameras fail
may be in 
the impossibility of 
the separation of
light from darkness,
if not 
stopping time

It's beautiful, running by 
night, blind and alive
to the coming storms on the radar


Sunday, June 1, 2014

if that's not a frog i hear tonight

i don't know what else it could be...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

New Recipe

this one is for Dandelion Wine

made from dandelions picked at the height of their bloom: thick, fat, and sticky, all petals and pollen

yellow fingertips and open flowers
in the calf-height grasses of the warm wind-blown fields
of Spring
(or knee-height, for the small ones who might like to help)

brighter than you've ever seen

3 to 4 quarts dandelion flower heads (it may be hard to tell how much you have once they shut tight and settle)
2 gallons boiling water

put the flowers in the water, stir, cover and seal with plastic wrap, and let sit for two days.  do not exceed this time unless you are me, in which case let sit for three days, and work hard as you can for one of them.  stir daily

bring the flowers back to a boil.  to the boil add:

juice of three large oranges
zest and juice of three lemons
1 lb golden raisins

boil gently, or not, for a while, maybe twenty or thirty minutes, or more.  time is relative.  then add:

6 lbs sugar, just exactly the amount you happen to have in the cupboard, and

boil for ten minutes more.

use a sieve to scoop and strain solids into another pot.  do not attempt to strain twelve quarts of liquid with flowers and raisins directly through a sieve and funnel into your primary, spilling hot sweet flowery beauty all over your feet and the floor, and do not feel bad about the wine you've just lost, even though it smells about as good as anything ever did.  strain the remaining  into primary.  let the solids cool for a bit, then spoon into a nylon straining bag, cool a while more and squeeze as much liquid as you can from them, into the primary.

allow to cool to room temp and then add:

1 packet Montrachet wine yeast
2 tsp yeast nutrient

put fermentation lock in place and let sit until 

the next thing happens...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I arrived home this evening to find a bee hive in my backyard, which was something of a surprise... I'd recently talked of it with the hive's keeper, and was on the fence at the time about whether or not to host a colony this year.  I didn't last year, partly because my hive didn't survive the previous winter, for somewhat mysterious reasons, and partly because I was not inclined to entertain the possibility of another visit to the emergency room, and the epinephrine and prednisone and rather terrible what-not that followed... I have to say, it feels strange to regard the hive with a certain sense of dread, instead of joy, and beyond that I'm just not sure it's sensible for me to risk getting stung again at this point, or possibly ever.  I've come to realize recently, or at least to suspect, that many of my health issues may be related to something called "histamine intolerance", which is a seemingly complex problem having many potential causes and relationships, not least among them being hormonal imbalances (prime candidate.), digestive disorders of various sorts (check.), allergies (apparently.) to certain foods and almost all noxious things, auto-immune complications (possibly.) and general stress (obviously.).  I rather feel at this point that it's almost without question that if I were to be stung, I would most certainly react quite badly--perhaps in a life-threatening way--and in spite of my preference to maintain gung-ho attitude about experience in general and particularly with regard to "Nature", I cannot say that I wish to know first-hand how it feels to stab myself in the leg with an epi-pen.


I'd be happy to have the bees grace my garden, but--


I don't know.  Maybe it would be good to get stung again, and learn what might happen.  Assuming that what happens isn't sudden death, I might be okay with that.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Winds and rain

I didn't get to bed until midnight, somewhat inadvertently.  I popped a small handful of calcium and magnesium in the hope it would induce some drowsiness, and tried reading for a half an hour or so, but I found my eyes straying from the story in front of me and darting anxiously around the room, following motions that weren't there. Under-tired and under-rested. I set my book down and fell to sleep uncomfortably, through a flood of bright light streaming out from under the lampshade into my closed eyes. Eventually I turned it off; I don't know when. It's now twenty after four. Birds are chirping. I woke up forty-five minutes ago, coming out of a dream of the sort that's not terrible, but really makes you not want to go back to sleep. My heart is shadowed, my mind is not at ease; my spirit is unsettled... I can hardly bear the idea of going to work today, to sit in one place, and watch a screen all day. I will come home diminished: less thoughtful, less inspired, less alive. I make it a point to keep things in perspective, and be grateful for what I have, especially having so many people close to me who are struggling to get along. We all make our own beds and we must dream in them, or not at all. We all make choices, and compromises. I do not want to give myself to my job today. I could take the day off, but I won't; I can't. I will need this day later, far more than I do now. So I'll choose to forego sleep; I'll choose to be free as soon as I can; I'll choose gratitude and try to do and be well. I'll forget my dreams, though they leave their mark, and will set aside those that do not serve me. Perhaps tomorrow I will be met by something more empowering and sweet, like a letter from a dear friend who lives a world away, like the sun burning through the morning mists, like a hug before breakfast. I'll hope for a good day. Winds have a way of changing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

honey bends gravity,

light on the back

of a rounded spoon.

the bees are here,

but where are you?


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring Sings

I find what I find, but I don't know what I'm looking for...
I don't know what I do, and I don't how it is that I do it.  The only thing I know is that as soon as you have someone in front of you that is waiting for your voice, close your eyes and sing
-- Concha Buika, (roughly quoted) from the BBC's The Arts Hour

Lots and lots to write about... been thinking about many things lately, of religion and culture, of Christianity and Buddhism, of capitalism and ecology, of action and inaction, of climate change and the change of seasons, of love and companionship, of time, and of things growing...

The garlic has sprung up, just in the past few days, as have many other little green life forms... daylilies, peonies, allium, hyacinths, crocuses, tulips, squill (with blossoms!), chives and garlic chives, strawberries, sedums, mint and comfrey and lemon balm, Jacob's ladder, windflowers, and many others, I'm sure, that I have yet to find...

Today my niece sang to me, over the phone (with a bit of backup from my sister), the song my sisters and I performed for our grandfather's memorial.  She had remembered us practicing it together, with her dad playing the guitar, all those months ago...At just shy of three years, and under the excellent tutelage of her mother, she has learned the words and the melody, which she hopes now to sing with the three of us, when we find ourselves together again.  Her voice, so sweet and so clear and so tuneful, was the best surprise I've had in, oh, maybe forever.

The head of the long running Harvard study on happiness summarized the study's conclusion in five words, "Happiness is love. Full stop." 
-- some commenter, on an aptly written piece about David Letterman 
in the New Yorker magazine

Monday, April 7, 2014

Significant Cutback

Ahhhh, Spring.  It has finally arrived.  

By Sunday afternoon, our recent snowfall had nearly melted away, and with the temps pushing 60 and a whole day to do as I pleased, it seemed a fine time for pruning.  So I listened to this guy (and a few others), and I believed him when he told me that I could not kill my peach tree, not to be nervous, and it's the right thing do, folks...etc.  

Before (sort of...)

and After (omg what have i done???)

You probably do not recall, since I didn't post about it at the time, that I had a bumper crop of peaches last year, from which I put up several pints of peaches in syrup, and some half-pints of salsa and jam, as well as a couple quarts of frozen fruit and a little puree, in addition to some sickeningly rich ice cream (next time: sorbet).  Not to mention the couple gallons I gave my neighbor, and all the ones that gotten eaten, by me and my dearest loved ones, and by the goddamned squirrels--though I did salvage any number of their cast-offs, along with those sampled by the birds and ants, and the many others that ended up on the ground.

Anyway, I've now cut this lovely tree down by half, at least, and I do not expect she will be bearing much fruit this year. Peaches, I have learned--somewhat late--only fruit on their last year's growth, so they require pretty heavy pruning every year in order to maximize yield and retain a manageable, if not ideal, shape. Fortunately I started out with a tree that had pretty good form.  Unfortunately I let it grow, pretty much unchecked, for its first three (or four?) years, which were likely the most critical to developing a well-formed, productive tree. As butchered as it looks now, I probably should have cut all the longest branches down even further, to two or three feet or so, but I just could not bring myself to do that to such a sweet and lovely being that has brought me so much joy, and scrumptious pleasure.  It'll need at least a few leaves, and perhaps the hope of a fruit or two, to get itself (and me) through this season...maybe next year I'll cut it back again, to where it ought to be, but here's where it stands for now.

The plum got a good trimming, too, though not quite as severe.  There's something about pruning that makes it just a little too easy to get carried away, you know?  What's that about??  I guess the nice thing about these fruit trees is that you don't really need to check yourself; they'll recover from the harshest cutting, even if it takes a few years... In the meantime, I've got much, much more in the works for this come on back now, ya hear?

Oh, and the worms are up, just in time for the Resurrection.  Blessed be!  In the name of the Invertebrates, the Bacteria, and the Fungal Host...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Days to remember

This morning I took a cup of tea out on the back step and stood there for a moment, love in the sunshine, watching a couple of woodpeckers in my silver maple tree, one with his red cap and the other, with her streaks of white, a pair of (would-be) mates, perhaps...  Downys or Hairys, I didn't think to discern, as I watched them flit from branch to branch and then away, but it did occur to me that in the time I lived here, I've not seen a pair of them together.  Or maybe I have, and just didn't recall... sometimes it's hard to say what I remember or not anymore, but they were beautiful to see, on the morning of this day, or any other day.  And that I will not forget.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Big. Bad. Beautiful.

Strange to think, but I'm pretty sure that I have never had a bruise this deep, in my entire life. I suppose that's saying something, like, ouch.  Ice, ice, baby... Jesus.  Seriously.

Monday, February 17, 2014

I ate it today.

First, it was a hard-boiled egg.  Later, leftover home-made green curry.  Then it was the hill.

It was steep and it was quick, and about halfway down I stepped out of the tracks and caught a bad edge which threw me in a pretty harsh and twisted sideways fashion to the ground.  As I tumbled onto the snow I heard a sickening "cruuunnnnccccchhhh" as my head snapped to the right, sending a series of small compressions from my left scapula to the back of my skull or vice versa, like the crack of a hard whip on my spine, in slow motion.  Not good, I thought, as I lay slightly sprawled on the ground for a moment.  I got up, shook off the snow, put my stripey hat back on.  At least it wasn't my ankle.  

One word I said out loud, without thinking, as I turned my skis downhill.  

It was not "continue", "persevere", or "go".  

"Pursue", I said.

Pursue what??  I've no idea.  Maybe the fall scrambled my brains and left me at a loss for words, but nonetheless I found those two little syllables interesting.  The sub-conscious works in such mysteriously plain ways, sometimes...that first thought you have upon waking after a good long sleep, the song that pops into your radiohead out of nowhere...everything you ever wanted to know but were afraid to ask...

I exercised somewhat more caution for the remainder of my run.  The last time I'd been there, the trail was a tightly packed, neatly groomed roller coaster of love.  This time, although the snow was fresh and glorious, the way was a bit rough, a bit sloppy, a bit deep, and a bit soft.  I honed my snowplowing skills (not a V like they teach the kiddos in downhill but an simple, single angle, like one ski is the wheels and the other is the plow) and I took fewer risks than I'd have liked.  But after a fall like that--somewhat consciousness-altering--I was not about ready to take another.

I got my courage up as I went, and enjoyed the run almost as much as I did the last time (with the perfect snow and the perfect sunlight and the perfect wax and the perfect owl and the perfect everything), perhaps minus the ear-to-ear grin the whole way...The climb after rush after climb after rush and a good glide on new snow, all made for a lovely evening.

And a lovely weekend, overall... three new light fixtures mounted (and one painted), chores all done, a few days spent with my dear siblings and niece, eating delicious food and sampling exceptional beers, watching fantastic(ly addictive) Anime and doing some thrifty-type shopping, among other things (like staying up too late, under the full moon)... a scrumptious home-made "experimental" Thai pizza for dinner tonight and freshly-washed flannel sheets...I even got myself a good-Samaritan stamp today, helping some nice young guy get his Jeep going again, with a jump start.  I considered just driving off on my own way, and letting it be someone else's problem, but then...why would anyone do that?  He was really grateful, and it was such an easy thing to do.


It's likely that I will find myself in a world of pain tomorrow, but in almost all other respects, I am one lucky woman.  Life is good. And so are clean, warm, fuzzy sheets. 

Good. Night.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Stone-cold bluff

So I got nothin'...Let's see what you've got.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Duly noted.

I learned several important things over the course of this weekend.

Firstly, that you cannot machine-wash your (possibly all-time favorite) alpaca wool hat without it turning into a child-sized replica of itself.  Foolish of me, that was, and I'm about as upset as anyone can be about a hat, which isn't a lot.  But I will miss that hat a great deal.  It's been my one and only for quite a while now, several years at least, and has accompanied me on many backpacking trips, short and long hikes, camping excursions, river trips, cross-country ski runs, snowboarding escapades, backyard bonfires, meandering scrambles, wandering ways, here and there, from dawn to dusk and back again, all seasons of the year.  It was unique, if not cute, and it "became" me I suppose; more than one good friend told me they liked me in it, and I did, too.  I'll not find another like it, and it's a little surprising to suddenly--stupidly--lose something like that and then have to consider its value.  I don't even have another hat in the house that I can wear, that will actually keep my head warm in this weather...sigh.  That is a bummer, but I guess it's time a for a new hat.  I guess for now it's back to that stripey number I wore when I was five...

Secondly, if you unplug your thermostat, your furnace will stop heating.  I wasn't sure until I did it and I wasn't planning on leaving it off for so long, but I was painting, and one thing led to another and things being what they are... I found it interesting that it took so long for the house to start to feel cold, though, on a day as cold as yesterday was.  After nine hours the temperature in the house had dropped approximately 10 degrees.  Not bad, I'd say.

Thirdly--and this one is pretty significant--it is not a great idea to go out skiing in high winds and blowing snow, with windchill in the negative digits, without carrying any gear that may be needed in the case of emergency, even if you are warm and the sky is blue and the snow is soft and it's going to be eighty below zero tomorrow.  I made it back safely--if a little "winded"--and I'm glad I went out, but boy let me tell you... I have not been so happy to see another human being on a trail, or parking lot, in many a day.  I was also rather proud to see how many devoted Minnesotans were out in defiance, if not ignorance, of the blustery/blizzardy conditions.

Lastly, I painted the damn piano room finally.  I'm not sure I learned anything from doing that except that sometimes you just have to wait, even if you end up doing what you were and then weren't and then were and then weren't going to do in the first through eleventh place.  I'm still not sure I dig the color but it looks "good" I guess, and in any case is different than what was there, which in this particular case (and in a lot of cases, actually) is better, because what was there was a whole lot of random barfiness.  

I learned a few other things as well, but I won't get into them now.  That run today took a lot out of me... I was looking forward to writing (better) earlier this evening, but after a good hour in the tub and another on the phone with my sister and a late run for chips and a cuppa raspberry lemon balm I seem to hear my bed calling, and I can't help but wish I had a two hour delay tomorrow morning... Anyway, one of these days I hope to get back to the English language.  For now this will have to suffice. 

RIP, tiny little hat.  Or, better yet, rest on some little person's head, and serve them half as well as you served me.  Now what will rest on mine?

Friday, January 10, 2014

did I say F it?


I am behind, here, by about a million words.  

How many words are there, in a day?