Saturday, September 19, 2009


Richie's home again. When I picked him up from the train for the labor day visit I realized about three minutes before I left for the train that I would be traveling in an unsavory neighborhood at night. Great. I don't see well as it is and I wanted to drive his grandpa car of a boat over there to fetch him. Understand I don't drive very well, never have, never will. The skills it takes to drive are still I don't possess and I am not even sure I want to own them. I don't drive that far that often for this to be an issue. Best Friend loves to drive and most boys I know can't wait for the chance to drive somewhere so this issue doesn't present itself that often. I popped in the car on one of those summer evenings the romantics write about, crisp and clean and cool after a summer blistered day. I try to call a friend, someone angry with me. Ever know someone JUST like you? It's not a good idea, I'd avoid your clone especially when they are the opposite sex with a mad on about something. No luck so I pop in a little kid rock, the new stuff.

To run Richie's car you have to be Chris Angel. You have to jimmy this, tickle that, fidget with the lights the seat and the mirrors. It's an old car he's run into the ground and even though it's not the safest or the most convenient there is something romantic about the big leather bench seat and of course kid rock singing about taking a road trip to Louisiana. It's been a difficult summer of sorts and I am anxious to see my kid and hug him and listen to his life because at this point his life has to be more interesting than mine.

I keep thinking don't miss the turn, if you miss this turn you see you end up on some stretch of I55 and turning around will take me another 30 minutes in this strange industrial area with a few hookers spread around here and there to add a little color to this adventure. I didnt' miss the turn but by this time kid rock is playing loud and I am dancing a little sipping diet coke with a metal straw and owning the world. The blues flew out the window with my hair and there's my kid on the platform surrounded by friends from school and all I wanted to do was put the car in park and put my arms around him. You see I created him out of young love and little pieces of my flesh and my blood coursing through his veins. Even when I want to change his direction, make better decisions than he does, when my heart aches for him he's still mine. I think at just that moment that he's 5 again standing next to the kitchen table while I am making the little pancakes he still likes with the blueberry eyes. He's holding a batman and a spiderman sandal each for the same foot complaining to me that the kids are outside already and he needs two shoes that match these. His hair was so blond then that it would stay light through December. He was always tan and he never wanted to be in the house. Some things change, others never will.

He tells me at the train platform that he wants me to meet his friend's parents. I whisper to him "another time" with the brush of my hand and I hug him so hard that we spin around a little and I didn't want to let go for awhile. You see I didn't have this with my mother, she was gone already and I can't even remember her voice some days. Richie will remember me. He will know I love him ferociously and endlessly. I kiss his cheek a few dozen times and tell him I miss him, I miss him and yes I miss him and we can't get his things into the car fast enough to speed home. Home. Home where the cats are, home where the ham is, home where his bed waits, home where the music and the paints and the art and where you can be whatever you need to be.

Last winter when he was home on break we spent a few days snowed in, eating bad food and listening to music, watching CNN and playing video games. When the days are long and I am tired, so tired. I have that day in my head and I relive it the two of us giggling while we are shoveling the drive way with no end. I remember standing in my studio and watching him shovel just about the end of the drive and the plow burying him in the end and watching him throw the shovel at the back of the plow and me laughing like mad, laughing and laughing some more. I put on my gloves and hat and headed out to help. Three days later we were still digging out.

Now it's summer, summer's end and we are cruising home, him letting me drive because he seems it's what I want. We sing a few lines of kid rock and then turn down the stereo for him to tell me a little about college life, his girlfriend, his new classes, the cost of books, how exciting. He motions for me to get into the left lane and I remind him there's a white castle up here and we aren't going home without some sliders. I called best friend when we got home and filled her in on his comings and goings and telling her again that seeing him at the train was good, this would be a good visit, no turmoil, no bickering, just home. An hour upon his arrival Batman stops by and I pour a glass of red and head to the back deck under a quilt for a late evening chat under a veil of stars and when I think of taking the stereo outside to listen to music, nature brings out the summer bugs to sing to me. I am so blessed. I could close my eyes for a moment and when I opened them I could see twirling trails of sparkling lights all in love swirling around a summer night. This is home, what home is. When you think you know every corner, every thought that could happen here a surprise, a new voice, a new way to look at things a calming force, the hand on your shoulder.

I went in later to lay in bed and think of the day, tired ready to fall into the bed, not on it. I used to define my life by being someone's mother and now I couldn't do that any longer. To do that now would be a lie and it would be a shame. I am spending this summer trying to define my life and who I am and having him leave over and over again to find his life helps me do that.I can let go and exhale and know it will all be alright. He will flourish, he will know he's loved, he will figure his way and make his own life and his own family and his own home. I made him some fried chicken to take back and I will on Monday when he leaves again. Sometimes when you go home to see your mom you just get what you want.

Monday I won't cry when he leaves. I was close last time when I took him to the train and saw the empty platform where he'd be standing soon his book bag in one hand and a bag of stuff from me in another. These separate lives we lead now a celebration of life and of how fast it all moves. Where has 23 years gone? Where is the little boy in the sand dunes at the lake house playing for endless hours with giggling boys so caked in dirt and sand and the smells of summer? I think of taking him out on the paddle boat and 3 minutes from the shore, the whole intent of the trip, "mom can I pee off the side of the boat?" He'd wait until we passed the bridge and going back was just too much time. When he pushes and shoves me into this new life of his I have to stop and close my eyes and see the hundreds of adventures, the days sun burned in the back of the car driving home from the Lake singing Melissa Etheridge songs while Best Friend shakes her head in irritation that he doesn't know the words to Freebird. June becomes July and July is 23 years later.

My sweet niece Katie finds me tonight and sends me a message that she misses me and we laugh a little and I think of her mom always letting go of another child and wonders how she does it over and over again. I feel the need to draw someone close to me and to let them into my family and my heart or to at least leave the door open a little bit to hear another voice and to be brave. The summer is giving up her fight and I want to be in Ashland on the porch watching cars turn the corner sipping lemonade and listening for the sound to play euchre. I want Matt as a partner he's a brave bidder and he never looks focused enough to bluff. Jim always wins, that's just too easy and I miss them all very much.

Monday, September 7, 2009


When they told me the truth about Santa
I was in the midst of such betrayal
and my mother found hilarity in it
smiling, warning me that life is full
of one disappointment after another
and the big lies will kill your spirit

After they broke my rib cage and
cut into my heart
the butterflies flew out all over the room
and one is stuck in my throat
and it's working it's way
back in or back out forever

I woke up wanting and wanting
new love
new poetry
new hope
the answers to questions I never feel
I have the right to ask

I saw your butterfly sailing over
my head while working in the yard
I whispered to the spiders to start
spinning a net to catch you when you fall
the whole time, you telling the spiders
to spin a web up to the sky so I could
get a better view
your butterfly was a listening butterfly
and you flew so high that when you spoke to me
I wondered if it was Orion or even Zeus

My butterfly has traveled around the world and back
close to the ground
seeing things fluttering
avoiding large feet, avoiding the crush
watching so closely the
careless feet all around
Be assured that this sort of worrying changes a person

I shouted up
"Don't you ever get lonely up there?"
and in a moment's hesitation
question withdrawn
sucked back in down my lungs into my belly
someone recently pointed out my lonely parts
and I didn't appreciate it
but I had hoped my lonely and your lonely
could take a walk on a summer's night
and together these two brilliant
lonely butterflies could change the summer
make it longer
lovelier, make the air sweeter

It's difficult to find a
a commonality of soul
a kindred moth like fluttering around creatures
"If I promise to hide my flame and you promise to hide yours?"
Such promises are made under a umbrella of stars
and when made too rash are broken
like broken glass that could cut your feet

This is how flutters of bug nature find love
one exhales and opens her wings and lets go unafraid
and the other well he just sort of gives up the height
and finds her, landing in a soft place
created by God for him to hold him there
seducing him into
staying just a few more minutes
a few more hours
a few more weeks
until he forgets he's supposed to leave
and she forgets he was ever not there
when she puts his white coffee cup in the sink
for the hundred thousandth time and
smiles licking the side where his lips drink first

Then one day when they have known love
believed in it's power
when he knows how to calm her pensiveness
and she knows how to inspire him
then he takes her up there on Sandburg's blue wind
and he holds her so close she's unafraid
if she falls, so does he and he never
unless she makes chocolate souffle
when she is up that high and she's sure she can
touch a star or perhaps just gaze into it's eye
he tells her of twilight

You see twilight, he explains
is that place where
your breathing is not something you are aware of
its the music that is played by your heart
and your lungs, the symphony of your organs
all working to take you to rest
and I get to take you here because that is who I am
(He never knew he was a poet you see)
She was grateful that without her glasses
squinting from the garden she could still recognize kindness
Kindness from her tender mother
Spring loaded strength from her warrior father
the patience to find both from Love

Ordinary miracles happen most every day
This is yet another day in the garden
where Adam saw Eve naked and loved what he saw
when he ate apple pie
and liked it's bitter sweetness
and that moment created us all
created the power of Love
and butterflies danced about on blue winds
where she dances because dancing is her idea
on her tip toes
because he pulls her up there
because that's his idea

these two brilliant winged creatures
One blue, one green
her wings gossamer, his like linen
and when they are very close
when it's quiet
when he's whispering
and she's straining waiting for the next word
when the bright moon that lights her room
shines through them
for a brief moment
they create turquoise
like the color of the waters of Costa Rica
and in that moment in that very moment
Orion turns his head
to hide a helpless tear
and for the first time
he grieves Meriope
whispering her name
into a harvest moon

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What I did on my Summer vacation


My father was a blue collar guy he
and with his faults he loved his
and oh did he love
and when we went on
it was adventure, it was the
pouring over maps and
This would be no ordinary
he attended to every detail like it was a
and it was his mission of

Life's details beat us up
every day
they are the monsters we
we design even and even when we love our
hitting the mark can seem an uphill
I had prepared the garden and dug the flower
planted the seeds and by the time I had
I didn't even care that the flowers
I could go to the nursery and buy this
nobody would
nobody had

When the 72 days started I
find the parts of my life I
loved (and I
I hadn't planned a
even time away was
I was too
too caught up in what
be rather than what I had and what did I have I kept
over and over
like swinging a bat
hoping it would hit a ball that I couldn't even
my eyes too full of
too full of
that this was it, there was no
nobody was here to plan it
and I missed my

How do I tell you that you are
I didn't have to plan it
You showed up and took over my
crowded every thought and time with you was
my sides ached and laughter knew my
I fought off
what a lie, I never want to
I can sleep when I
I only want to sleep when I'm so
I can't move another inch
still 15
afraid they put me to bed before the real party

Vacation is the special
you've put in the back of the
that you just gaze at
where you'll wear it. it's the
thought that
you now when people are
wanting what you don't want to give
(there is no them when you are
it's the respite from speaking when you don't want to utter a
because nobody
a word you'd spit from your lips to their ears

I do love to
the way there is so exciting something (you) to
and on the way home so full of
so full of renewed respect for what is
and sadness for what you'll leave
You take off and you are without
above, looking down on the earth and the
so far below, so dirty in their
my head full of honey and you the
so full of
for the power and dignity of
and it's complete and unexpected

As an adult Disney World seems almost
A giant mouse to tell you the world is
This is vacation after all and soon it will be
Like love, like passion and even like
It passes through us, over us and all around us as a
that God makes plans for us and we work through the
for a few lost
Work is waiting, the papers piled up, the grass is tall,
and you're left with the stories and
of a greener world, a softer day, this stolen


My summer vacation was work and not feeling well made work, more workified. Richie is back at school and in the first week his computer blows up, great. The world feels a little wonky, but all good. The weather is changing and I am so thankful for a mild summer and a little sad it's all ending soon. The big summer bugs are singing loud and their anthem is about to be over as mother nature sacrifices them to the fall. The fall always makes me a little sad, the light ending sooner in the day only to be given soon to the frozen earth. I will miss the sounds of nature's summer in the evening as it's been cool enough to sleep with the windows open and a few nights so cool, just opened a crack. I'm not sure the roses will bloom again before the frost and today I purchased mums, three big baskets of fall flowers, not a good sign. I am so not rushing the season this year, wanting to linger in the warm sun for just a few more weeks.

Today I decided the fog was lifting and I wasn't counting days anymore. This is such a joyous thought, to let myself off the hook a little and concentrate again on work work work and a little bit of joy, taking on a painting project or two and perhaps evening a little exhale. And what a summer it was this quest for adventure. Summer always makes me feel old like the passage of time is marching across my body like the ants on the counter. I forgot that time also heals. Time lets us forget transgressions of others and even if we are lucky, ourselves. I was thinking today I wanted a new sofa, something giant, with a big camel back and huge wooden legs. The last hunt for a sofa took forever.

I don't think I will put up the tree this year for Christmas, letting myself off the hook there as well not in the mood for all that brings, perhaps age makes us a little wiser and a little grumpy. I allowed a little time for a nap in the early evening and it seemed like a gift I had shopped for myself and then given myself all wrapped in a bow. Nice. I found the little locket I lost, sort of. Sometimes my anger gets the best of me and I will throw away something I love and other times I've left a trail of retrieval. Little victories like little blessings, one at a time, patience and all. I listened to some short stories I downloaded, stories of betrayal. I liked one better than the other and will go back and listen to them again soon.

I heard from my friend John back from China. He talks about that place like I talk about missing my parents, almost sacred. It's nice to know that in this world there is still magic even if it's in a foreign far away place.Orion is reminding us it's the harvest again and I think I will look for more tomatoes soon and fresh sage and onion to make some wonderful sauce to freeze, to freeze and share. In the middle of winter I will appreciate these efforts when I open the bag to smell summer in the kitchen.

In Paris on the Boulevard Saint-Germain there is a cafe called Cafe De Flore. There you can find the most amazing crunchy bread and very salty butter. They serve this with a tea a black tea and lots of lemon and bring you a glass of ice in case in the middle you elect for iced tea. I was reminded why I love salad nicoise. The first time I had it I was with Best Friend and people we love in Milwaukee at the Museum of Art there. It snowed that day over the lake and we saw the most amazing exhibit of glass I'd ever seen and of course some Georgia O'Keefe paintings (they are famous for their collection there.) The salad was an adventure, the long french green beans, the tuna, and of course the boiled red potatoes. Then the olives, deep ripe tomatoes and crunch iceburg lettuce. It's an adventure just to eat, everything put together like a mosiac painting. I think this winter I will write a cookbook, every day switching from something savory to something full of summer, Paris and love.

If you haven't tried to write your own recipe of things you love, sounds like a good idea and I'd trade with you, delish for delish. You can always find me at or my work at