Friday, November 26, 2010

Dying slowly

I haven't been writing much lately, in fact not at all. So I'm posting a poem by Pablo Neruda today that said what I was thinking. 

You start dying slowly
if you do not travel,
if you do not read,
If you do not listen to the sounds of life,
If you do not appreciate yourself.
You start dying slowly
When you kill your self-esteem;
When you do not let others help you.
You start dying slowly
If you become a slave of your habits,
Walking everyday on the same paths…
If you do not change your routine,
If you do not wear different colours
Or you do not speak to those you don’t know.
You start dying slowly
If you avoid to feel passion
And their turbulent emotions;
Those which make your eyes glisten
And your heart beat fast.
You start dying slowly
If you do not change your life when you are not satisfied with your job, or with your love,
If you do not risk what is safe for the uncertain,
If you do not go after a dream,
If you do not allow yourself,
At least once in your lifetime,
To run away from sensible advice…

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Open the door

Almost all the doors in my house are these kind of doorknobs and regularly I am unable to open doors because the doorknobs fall off into my hands when I try. This happens with my oven door as well. Could be a metaphor...could be the person that put them on didn't do a very good job....I tend to try to make everything into a metaphor or have meaning...but I do know love won't open my doors, it takes a screwdriver.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

give me the man...

Give me the man who will surrender the whole world for a moss or a caterpillar, and impracticable visions for a simple human delight.                                                               -Bruce Frederick Cummings

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Rode the elevator seven floors down
And walked outside to palm trees
And cool breezes.
There was a bus there waiting for me
Inside the bus were donkeys
And elephants
And dainty ballerinas stretching and
I started to leave until a hand reached out and touched my arm
I turned to find a man who looked
Like Bob Dylan but told me his name was Jose.
He led me to a seat beside him
We rode in silence ignoring the circus animals
And their wild commotion.
At a park the bus stopped and let
Jose and I exit leaving the noise
And smells behind
We walked to a bench and sat across
From each other.
His brown eyes held the weight of the world
But his voice transported me to a quiet place
Where I could breathe
He asked if he could help me, ease my burden,
Calm the tumult in my soul
I smiled and asked him if he had the credentials to perform such magic.
He laughed at my innocence and told me
All he could do was be there and
Watch me spin into the wind and
Minister to my wounds when I tumble and fall.
I thanked him and said that would do just fine
Until I learned to catch the wind
And soar on my own.
The bus returned and took us back
To where we had begun.
I left the unruly circus crowd and my friend
Jose to ride the elevator back up the seven
Floors to where I lived. The doors slowly opened
And I walked outside to face the storm.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

always safe, 50% of the time

Tiny Dancer's present was to take her and a friend horseback riding.  I used to ride horses every weekend when I was a teenager so I was excited to share this experience with her.   Making arrangements with the owner of the ranch was a nightmare. She never returned phone calls or emails. And when she did she had 10,000 (maybe an exaggeration) stipulations and instructions. This should have been a sign but we trudged on...The day of the ride was glorious, sunshine but crisp and cool...perfect day for sitting astride a magical steed and riding into the sunset.  We arrived early because the owner had directed us to arrive early. We had water and sunscreen and signed releases absolving the ranch of any responsibility for any mishap.  When we approached the barn, after climbing a fence or two we found one lonely horse grazing in the yard but no human present. We waited at the barn gate, peering inside and seeing only dogs who acted as if they would eat us alive if we entered the gate. Finally a woman's voice called to us from the dark recesses of the barn.

"Can you please tell me who you are?"  We identified ourselves but she was not convinced and said she would call our cell phone to make sure we were really who we said we were. We told her we didn't have our phones with us. Finally she said the words that carved a mental image in my brain that will be with me for awhile. She said..."I can't come out yet. I'm not dressed...I'm nursing puppies." She then berated us for being early though she had instructed us to be early the day before. As we waited outside she would occasionally shout out complaints and excuses and we began to wonder if we should run in the other direction. She finally came out, fully dressed and with no puppies attached to her. She whistled one loud long whistle and about 10 horses came running from some hidden corner of the was a thing of beauty and our spirits brightened as we were allowed to enter the barn.

Terri was a small wisp of a woman but with hair and a personality that were bigger than life. She began to explain about the puppies, their mother had a rabies shot while pregnant which caused some complication in the birth and the ability to nurse her own puppies. So Teri had been giving them their mother's milk every two hours with a turkey baster.  She said she was covered with milk everytime she fed them so had begun to change into her 'milking' clothes whenever it was feeding time. It took hours for the ride to start as Terri told us story after story, cleaned the barn, fussed over the puppies and finally got the horses ready. In between she would give the young girls gems of wisdom like, "opportunity has two faces, one with hair, one that is bald, if you don't grab opportunity by the hair then you will be bald." She told about learning to ride when she was very young and her trainer yelling at her because she wasn't a good rider at first. She asked her trainer why he stuck with her since she was so bad and he explained to her that he had stayed because he was in love with her mother. Her father finally kicked him off the ranch because of his excessive drinking. Terri warned the girls that she would be yelling at them during the ride, like her trainer yelled at her, but only because she wanted them to be safe and learn how to ride..  But she assured them, "I am your friend, in a few years when you get into some trouble in the middle of the night and can't call your parents, you can call me and I'll come get you at the police station, if I remember you...well I'm come get you anyway if you tell me you rode here when you were younger."  When the horses were saddled we found these were not ordinary trail horses that respond well but horses with spirit and minds of their own. I wondered about the wisdom of placing inexperienced riders on such horses.  It soon went from excitement to tears when the girls couldn't control the horses even inside the barn.

In an effort to make things better Terri went ahead and took the riders outside to journey across rocks and deep gullies and ravines on horses they couldn't control.  I stayed at the barn with instructions to check on the puppies and make sure the mother dog was not suffocating her babies by sitting on top of them.  Soon I heard the cries of Tiny Dancer begging for someone to let her off the horse she couldn't control. Terri's warning that she would be yelling at them was no empty threat. She began screaming directions in a loud harsh manner. When that didn't solve the problem she began calling the girls babies and the worst riders she had ever seen. There's nothing like name calling to motivate children to want to experience something new and difficult.  Finally she helped Tiny Dancer off the horse, sent her into the barn with me, telling her she was done with her. More sobbing and self-recrimination as we waited for the other riders to be allowed to dismount and return to sanity.  Climbing back over fences, we made a clean and quick escape.  Happy Birthday Tiny Dancer!  Next year I'm giving cash...

Thursday, September 23, 2010


No sleep. My mind racing 100 mph. The lump in my throat growing bigger. The knot in my stomach is rising and soon will meet the lump in my throat and cut off my breathing all together.  Heart pounding, head throbbing, eyes refusing to close. Loud claps of thunder fill the room so that there is little space left for anything else. Then it comes...the sound of heavy rain soaking the ground and easing my spirit. Lulling me into sleep and rest and hope for tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

just one...

A tiny trace
The smallest hint
A gossamer allusion
To what was before
 Sends her in swift retreat
To the murky recesses
Of the corner closet
Cradled in shadows
Wrapped in a mantle
Of moonlight
That trickles through
The window and
Presses into the cracks
And crevices filling
The dark sanctuary
With a glimmer of light
Which she grasps
With both hands
As the floor falls
Beneath her and
She floats into the
Starless night sky…

Saturday, August 14, 2010

vavava voom

Bone against bone
Flesh against flesh
We each suffer in our own way
The old man
Shakes his fist at the moon
The young girl sits in her
Room knitting purple thread
Into a sacred cloth
That will blanket her pain
And the heat, oh god, the heat
 The drops of rain evaporating
Into steam as soon as they
Hit the pavement.
The blond twins smiling as
They order wine and appetizers
All the voices in the room
Dissolving into a dull roar
Of laughter and empty words
 While her eyes search the crowd
For that one face that will
Recognize and know her for
Who she is and not just
Love her for her stylishly
Tilted hat and her green
Coat with the fox-trimmed collar

Saturday, July 31, 2010


I'm always searching for signs. The night of the Full Buck Moon, when its light flooded my room, anointing me with good fortune, I began looking for signs to confirm the blessing that had been bestowed on me.  And for the right music...I listen to music sometimes to find hidden messages from the universe...kind of like a soundtrack for my life. Earlier this week I was driving to the hospital for my father's surgery and fervently searching for some symbol of hope to hold on to when Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' began to play. I looked out my window as hundreds of birds suddenly rose up from a thicket I was passing. The birds, the was awe- inspiring. I knew I had received my sign.....but from who? God, the universe, or do we create our own signs to comfort ourselves?  Of course that afternoon while eating steak in a country roadhouse I heard the song, 'Cause the more I drink...the more I drink.'  I think I'll stop looking for signs.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

bubble dance

This is one of the students at our school in the multi-handicapped class...I took this picture last year for our school yearbook. Tonight he is surrounded by family and friends in a hospital bed in critical condition with no options left to save him. They are waiting for him to leave this world believing that he will be in a better place and will finally be able to freely run and play and talk...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Bessie Smith Strut - 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

cheers from Florida

We were getting ready for my sister's second chemotherapy yesterday. We packed two backpacks and a lovely Pierre Cardin bag with everything we thought we would need for a six to seven hour stay at the cancer center. We were refusing to let cancer and the pumping of toxins into her bloodstream distract us from work and play.  Or maybe we were trying to shut it out by bringing a plethora of toys with us. We packed books, laptops, ipods,  cellphones and cameras into our bags and headed for the hospital.  If we were occupied with our 'stuff' then maybe we wouldn't be thinking about the hard questions. When will her hair fall out? What strange things will happen to her body from the chemo this time? How nauseated will she be? What is this strange rash on her shoulder? What were the results of the PET scan? 

First stop was the blood draw center where they would take a little blood  to make sure her blood counts are where they should be. Then we sat in Starbucks sipping chai tea while we used the laptop and watched soccer. Then we had an appointment with the oncologist. We sat in the waiting room and! Then we were called back to the exam room. And that is where things began to unravel. It seems my sister's white blood count was not high enough to receive her treatment. We would not be able to have chemo until the count was higher. They are expecting it to be higher on Tuesday.  We spent time discussing meds, measuring tumors, rescheduling treatments and arranging more precautions against the inevitable nausea that will follow the next chemo. We were discouraged, disappointed and defeated. And so we dropped off our bags of technology paraphernalia at home and escaped to the safety of a dark theater to watch a wonderful foreign film from South America. We were the only two in the theater and it did the trick. 

So today she returned to work  and I to my computer. Monday I will travel to Gainesville with my parents to find out when my father will have surgery on his spine. He is in pain and unable to walk. He is not a happy camper, to say the least. And my mother in her stubborn, stalwart manner tries to take care of everyone and fix everything because...that is who she is.  So we will fill our weekend with distractions and move on into next week with renewed strength and optimism...and maybe a little less 'stuff' in our bags.

I promise not to bore everyone who reads this blog (all three of you) with continued details of my family's illnesses but it's my life this summer and where my mind and my heart will be for now.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Paul Boocock

Paul Boocock
 photo©Paul Boocock

Sunday, June 6, 2010

tiny slices

Watching the world
through the slats of the blinds
The soft breeze
Blowing the bamboo leaves
The drops of rain
On every tree glistening
In the evening sun
I think I like life better
In tiny slices through the blinds
Instead of all at once.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Buk time...thanks to Paul Shelasky

Recently I ran across an excellent blog and not only was I inspired by the photographs it reminded me of how much I love today I'm posting a poem by Charles Bukowski. I'm off to Florida this back soon!

photo©Rhonda Prince

 Straight up and down
and then maybe sidewise
for a while
and have your guts
scrambled by a
and the demonic
you've got to run
along the edge of
you've got to starve
like a winter
you've go to live
with the imbecility
of at least a dozen
then maybe
you might know
where you are
for a tiny
moment."  - Charles Bukowski

Monday, May 3, 2010

under his wing

The man she used to love
stood outside her window
offering tea and oranges.
 He wrote a message
on the back of a maple leaf
ripping it from the tree
and letting the wind take
It from his fingers.
The same message was
written in braille on his
wrist and all she had to
do was take his hand
and touch the words
with her fingertips.
Instead she let her hand
rest on the smooth
bodhi seeds and glide
past the turquoise bead.
She felt the words enter her
heart and  take hold
growing wings and flying
out of her chest…out of the window…
past the man she used to love
and finally soaring up toward
grey clouds and
disappearing forever.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bittersweet Symphony

One of my favorite photographers has a permanent exhibit on 591... yeah!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Denial isn't just a river in Egypt

Icarus: All limits are self-imposed. 

It's true! Sometimes I'm in denial about it but it's true. So the journey begins to find what I really, really, really want and to stop imposing the limits that have prevented me from finding what I really, really, really want...

 More thoughts on denial:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wrestlemania – for Bill


My dad was a soldier, a lifeguard, a wrestler and finally a bricklayer.  I posted this story about him in a comment on Cafe Selavy’s blog and he asked me to share it here too, with a picture. A few years ago a student I had was so impressed that my dad was a wrestler that my dad sent him a copy of this picture with this email:




The only story I remember well from the wrestling days, which were before I was born, was this one:
After my mother and father were married he took her to a wrestling match. He was the referee that night for some women wrestlers. During the match the women jumped on my dad, pulling him to the floor and one lady wrestler was sitting on his chest, her legs wrapped around his head. The crowd went wild...people sitting near my mom kept talking about how lucky the referee was and how much he must be enjoying it and how it was all carefully planned beforehand. My mom wouldn't speak to him for days and that was the end of his career.

Sunday, March 7, 2010



Saturday, March 6, 2010

whispers in an empty room

 She sat in the silence of the tomb
and opened the  envelope  
 now empty and torn,
though it once held
a letter written on
perfume-scented paper decorated
with lavender flowers .
She knew the words by heart
reciting them to anyone
who might listen.
If she could give them all away,
then the words may
 have a life of their own
spiraling past chimney smoke
And gabled roofs to travel
to stuffy and cold sitting rooms
in far-away places,
each syllable finding a path
that will secure its own immortality
and flaunt  contempt
for those who hear the whispers
of the wind and mistake it for
their own voice.

Monday, February 22, 2010


A slight reprieve...the house I'm moving into is not ready so I have an extra two weeks. I'll do it right this time...I won't panic...take it easy...easy as pie!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

fallen or just sleeping?

"I said, tell me brave captain
Why are the wicked so strong
How do the Angels get to sleep
When the Devil leaves the porch light on?"  ~Tom Waits

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

the grass is always greener...

...or so they say. I am putting my hopes on that idiom. It's not just the move, it's all the other things in my life that seem to be crowding in right now. I'm drowning...
"When you're drowning, you don't say, 'I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,' you just scream."  -John Lennon

I'm not the screaming type but don't think it hasn't crossed my mind a time or two...

Monday, February 15, 2010

another fine mess..

I don't do well with moving, and packing, and change
today I packed one half a box then ran away
to do something else. But they canceled school tomorrow 
due to inclement weather so now I'll work twice
as hard tomorrow to make up for my lollygagging today.

I was going to write about it all...I thought that might be cathartic
but it just feels like one more thing I have to do...
so instead here's a picture of the inside of my head!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

moving on...

I'm moving soon. No not here but moving to a delightful little house in an older neighborhood close to the school where I teach. I think I'm going to be very happy in this house but the move itself is a tad overwhelming. But as moves usually go, I will wait until the last minute and then panic and start throwing things in boxes and somehow it will all work out.  I promised myself I would start early and be really organized this time but I don't think that's going to happen. Life tends to get in the way and I procrastinate and make excuses. I should at least make a list, isn't that what people do when they are getting ready to move? Even making a list seems overwhelming at the moment. 

Still...once I get moved there will be sunbeams and bluebirds...I just know it!