Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Few Complaints

Putting all the pieces together might just take a lifetime. So okay, what else were you planning to do? Fish? Plant a garden? Become a hobo and ride the train?

Thanksgiving report: A success. No dead bodies were found and no one had to go to the hospital this year. It’s good to have realistic expectations.

Good news: Our house is now fully clothed; the last piece of siding was hung on Saturday, again without any injuries.

Better news: Tom got his new bass; he’s set for four years. Jojo starts driver’s ed today.

Best news: I bought a car and ordered a laptop; I sense a small degree of independent movement flowing my way.

But… There is always something to complain about. The Finlander reminded me I don't have to be in such a good mood. Check this out if you don't have enough complaints today: Helsinki Complaints Choir

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Shaded Tree

It's nice to wear a little disguise after Thanksgiving, kick back behind some shades while the world passes by. No one will ever know it's you. Of course, the cemetery might give it away.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thanksgiving Hovering

Thanksgiving hovers in the distance, waiting for a cadre of preparations to usher it in. The dogs, banished to the family room a week ago, are whining. I buy them extra bones, sit with them in the evenings, but otherwise hold my ground. Dehairing the house is a process, not a last minute detail. I hear my husband sympathizing with them in the mornings, telling them it’s not his fault, it’s the woman. So we’re back to the Garden of Eden once again. One cat was banished to the barn for her various unrepented sins in the sacred realm of the kitchen. She has been ostracized, which Pete Seeger said means forced to live on the edge of town.

Grandma is rubbing lemon oil into our furniture with the remnants of a torn diaper. Her mind has unraveled important connections, like the desirability of bathing, but her hands hold and release residual memories of cleaning polish and rags. Before Thanksgiving morning, we'll polish her up, too. The winds in the house blow puffs of Pine-Sol and Windex before settling into deeper, more earthy tones. Candied ginger boils slowly in the kitchen, giving way to simmering chicken stock for the turkey to bathe in.

Life flows in and out of all these preparatory duties, saturating our senses. We’re making memories, someone said.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bender & Muffy

Cats sleeping with dogs...


Our friends walk in the woods and stumble over dead bodies, all missing, all murdered. The count so far is three. Although one was actually on the edge of a cornfield, I think it amounts to the same thing. What are the odds of accidentally finding a dead body? I’ve been known to dive into woods and cornfields quite frequently. This information seems important to me.

My son’s track coach found the body that was on the edge of the cornfield. It was missing its head. I can’t remember what the outcome of that was, but I seem to remember it wasn’t an accident. I don’t know if they ever found the head.

The parents of my son’s girlfriend found their body in an Illinois forest preserve back in the ‘70s. It had all its parts when they found it, but sometime after (maybe during) autopsy it wound up missing its head and hands. There was talk it was the missing Brach candy heiress. Perhaps all that candy made her body parts fall off easily, become less secure. But I heard thoroughbred race horses were involved, or maybe it was non-thoroughbreds. My memory is so poor.

Another body turned up a few years ago on Thanksgiving morning. That one was our next door neighbors’ claim to fame. They were out hunting for rabbits, which is another mystery I can’t explain. Why hunt for rabbits when you’re about to sit down to all that food? From a distance they weren’t sure it was a body, or at least one that was dead. On closer inspection the question was resolved. The body had kept all its parts, but natural causes weren’t suspected. It was very badly bruised.

I put dead bodies and snakes in the same category. They are part of nature, I don’t mind seeing them and touching them, but I like to prepare myself for the encounter. I really prefer to know when they’re apt to be around.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cords of Entanglement

Scarred hands claw at the cords of entanglement, we’d rather let go, let our eyes unravel the scene. God and culture are woven together; love and domination are coiled in the same skein. My friend complains we have no good patterns for going forward. How in the world are we going to make it through? We rub our scarred hands together, flesh on flesh, blood mingling with blood. We're not sure what we're creating, but it’s the best we can do.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Shaded Dreams

My dreams are shaded by an iridescent
blue and black butterfly
It holds me mesmerized in the twilight
It doesn’t flap its wings

Monday, November 13, 2006

Starved Rock Too

I've been thinking about photos, the near elements, the far elements, how the light and the season affect the scene. It is amazing to me how complex a photo is. I like this one because it is serene. But that is just the surface. The stories that are hidden inside these pictures... Jeez. Just around the bend from where I took this picture a triple murder took place. It happened back in the sixties, but remnants of the story are still floating around, settling in nooks and crannies, polluting the atmosphere. The man who committed the murders is still alive and will be eligible for parole soon. Google Starved Rock murders and you can read about the whole thing. I'll be hiking there again in December, trying to illuminate mysteries and understand things I can't see. Again and again I am reminded that I can never see the whole picture. The scenes are complex and all appearances aside, they aren't perfectly serene.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Rumsfeld’s departure was an unexpected bonus. My cautiously optimistic stance this morning has almost turned into a smile. I’ve been a little depressed lately about our lack of direction, the snail’s pace at which circumstances change. Patience is a virtue, blah, blah, blah. In the meantime, my hair isn’t exactly getting any less gray. That’s why I’m so happy with disillusionment. It’s not going to alter my hair color, but it seems to be blowing in change.


I’m not going to go on and on about the elections. I’ll just say I feel a good deal better today than I felt two years ago. I believe I have disillusionment to thank. Disillusionment has suddenly become my new best friend. He’s dangerous, yes, in all his nakedness. Sometimes he frightens me. But I’m adjusting. Even when the scenery is harsh, it’s feels much better to be able to see.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Good Intentions

Our intentions were good: drive up to Kalamazoo and see Tom’s first jazz concert at college. Tchaikovsky is okay, nice for daydreaming, but jazz is what we have been waiting for, the reason Tom went away. I mean, otherwise he could have stayed at home, shoveled goat manure, gone to school at IUSB.

It was just Jojo and me. Gene wanted to see it, agonized over missing it, but there was no way he could get there. He was in another time zone. You can see where this story is going, right? We didn’t make it to Kalamazoo. Any story that starts out with stated good intentions will have a tendency to stray.

The short story is this: The car battery gave out in Jones. The battery was old and the temperature was something like 20 degrees. Go figure. Jojo and I were stranded in the Shell gas station parking lot until Tom could rescue us after the concert, three and a half hours later. We passed the time playing cards, eating up the rest of the car battery listening to Radio Classics on Sirius, and munching on the leftover Halloween candy that our good intentions were bringing to Tom. I told Jojo about the last time something like this had happened to me. Some semi truck drivers hauled my 16-year-old butt and my car from St. Louis to Chicago, but that’s a long story for another day. By the time Tom rescued us we had heard enough stories and we were very cold.

Tom had had his adventures, too. Before the concert started he knocked a vocalist friend unconscious. It just wasn’t his day. It was a running hug that knocked them both off balance and slammed her head into the concrete floor. The paramedics had to come and take her to the ER. She didn’t get to sing. You never know when friendship and gregarious behavior is going to take a violent turn.

We made it home by midnight, though all of our good intentions had gone astray. The concert, according to Tom’s girlfriend Kelsey, was pretty good. I wish I could have seen it. I wish my feet weren’t still numb.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


In my dream I am crawling across the arches beneath an old, abandoned bridge. There is no way to cross the bridge’s surface. The road is permanently closed. Halfway across the bridge I encounter the most beautiful butterfly I have ever seen. It is resting on the arch in front of me, underneath the bridge. I must take its picture, but my camera is in my pocket and I need both of my hands to keep from falling. Somehow I get my camera out and snap the picture, but I’m worried that it won’t turn out very well. Still, the picture is in my brain. I turn around and crawl back the way I came, amazed that there are butterflies so beautiful, amazed that I was able to see one.

And you thought Freud was dead! Of course not. He lives on in our dreams. I’m sure my dream interpreter friends will have fun with this one, but I think Freud said it doesn’t matter what you think it means. What matters is what I associate with the dream. What I associate with the dream is that it’s very nice to be dreaming, seeing things I didn’t expect to see.