Thursday, May 31, 2007

Code Blue

Dang it, it's probably too late, but maybe not. Tonight you can experience a blue moon! Read all about it at Space Weather. Jupiter, too! It's warm, it's gorgeous. Get out there!!!! Yes, the moon is passe in poetry. I don't care. If the clouds part it will be cool.


Okay. She's a robin. I'm easily amused. David has kinda, sorta started a bird watching thing, which unfortunately excludes my robin friend, but I'm starting with her anyway. I figure if she was nice enough to nest above my nose, she deserves some notice. I looked up incubation times, two weeks. I'm not sure who LL is either, but it doesn't matter. This bird I know, in a birdy sorta way.

June Writers' Picnic

Is that title right? I'm not sure. Does the picnic belong to the writers? Maybe. Would the picnic exist if the writers did not will it into existence? Who knows? I never know where things come from. They just show up and I smile and say, Good morning. Would you like a cup of coffee? Maybe you prefer tea. Regardless, the winds of creation have blown over the waters and a light has shown, and it was good, and the June Writers' Picnic is now set for: Friday, June 22nd, at 11:30 a.m., at the Nature Center picnic area at Potato Creek. More details will be forthcoming, but the gist of the story is: I'll bring paper products and charcoal and some food to share. You bring some stuff to share, too. Food is good, but writers do not live on bread alone, but words... Definitely bring words, even if you don't bring food. The words do not have to be captured on pieces of paper. You can just carry them around in your mouth and spit them out when the time comes, as you see fit. You may, however, bring captured words if you wish. What else may you bring? Other writers, loved ones, small living things. Also, it would probably be a good idea to wear comfortable hiking/walking shoes. So, to sum up: food, friends, words, comfortable shoes. That pretty much does it, but if it doesn't, I know you will tell me... I have a feeling Talia is going to say something about sunblock.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Life is starting to move. Gene has an interview in Texas next week for a job in his company which won’t require any move. He is doing massive prep reading and has trimmed his beard, although before he leaves I might help him fine-tune. He’s heading down to Texas early Saturday to spend a few days with his good, hard-drinking buddy in Austin, so he can look and feel his very best (in the words of Arlo Guthrie) for the interview. I’m sending vitamins.

The Garren books came. Among the Monarchs was devoured last night. So good. So close, or at least a way of expression that I can understand. The Piercing is for tonight. I can't wait.

I’m trying to order stuff every week from Amazon to keep the wheels turning. I’m with Talia, writing is hard right now. But the reason is not a mystery to me. Swarms of people keep pulling me to the surface with questions like “Do we have buttermilk?” “May I borrow your car?” “Have you seen my shoes?” and statements like “My girlfriend is spending the night.” “Mine, too.” There is a double bass in my spare bathroom named Lauren, that I have to step over if I want to pee, which I do. I can’t use the main bathroom because of a line of girls standing at the mirror straightening their hair. Lauren’s neck makes it impossible to shut the spare bathroom door. But finally, this morning, they have all gone away. Lauren is back sleeping on Tom’s bed, I can pee anywhere I like. I have two days before they swarm back. I’m dreaming of a trip to Isle Royale…

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tagged Again

Attorneys always begin the questioning with certain admonishments, like, if you don’t know the answer to a question, the appropriate response is “I don’t know.” Then they’ll say something like, “Please don’t guess, but you may estimate. That is fine.” English majors, who sometimes go on to become lawyers, are never admonished in this way. I’ve even been told, by one professor, you’re an English major, you should always have something to say. Thank God he is retiring soon. Perhaps if he would stop saying things – but that is another story, another day. All this is a long way of saying I’ve been tagged by Talia to hold forth on the subject of quotes about poetry. The appropriate response is “I don’t know.” I’m still sifting it out, trying to come to terms with what I believe. But since I’m trying, so hard, to lean into poetry, I will tell you what I’m reading, I'll estimate and try to get close to the subject, I'll tell you what struck a chord with me recently, as I’m waiting for works by Christine Garren and Jack Gilbert to arrive.

The Wound - by Franz Wright
for Denis Johnson

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

Four young deer walking through the dawn
across my road. One garter snake
in the strawberries, thankfully not close
to one fat toad underneath the bed
of purple sage tended by a bumble bee
complacent enough to let the musician
stroke his back. Various rabbits,
Numerous birds. One dead mole.

And you?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The View

They are making good progress, my robin friends. Although yesterday I had to slap Sunflower kitty down from the tree with a broom.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


I've been working on my flower beds lately. Always before Memorial Day, the peonies begin to bloom.

Friday, May 25, 2007

God Things

I am watching some robins build a nest right outside my bedroom window and I figure I am the luckiest woman alive. I look up from my computer and there they are, sitting in the young catalpa tree that I didn’t plant, but didn’t pull either, because I am not very good at weeding and besides, catalpa trees have the best fishing worms and it was probably a God thing, which you should never mess with. So anyway, I am here and they are there, not ten feet from my face, trailing bits of stuff they gathered from who knows where and we’re just going to be here together and it’s going to be a fine summer, really fine.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Post Picnic

The first writers’ picnic was good, relaxing, everything I was hoping for. Thanks to all who turned out on such short notice. The air somehow seems a lot healthier when you all are around. There is something about coming together that is essential. The structure for writers might be all screwed up at IUSB, but I believe enough connections have been made to begin to form a community. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. We’ll try to plan a little ahead, say, more than 24 hours, for next time. I’m thinking the week of the June 11th or June 18th. Write me with your preferences and we’ll set the date. Potato Creek is on the schedule next. David knows all the trails, where to take naps...

Monday, May 21, 2007


(I finally started reading Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son, so this morning's work seemed to make more sense.)

You are taking a random walk through our online cemetery.
It’s pronounced bro.

I gathered it from her bit‑by‑bit, piece‑by‑piece.

Did she have a theme in her photography?

She had a high tolerance to drugs like morphine.

The pictures that are posted, a lot of naked women, those were all at your studio?

No water after midnight.

How she felt going through this ordeal.

She could shoot and would shoot anything. She enjoyed shooting people more than anything.

She was awake during the entire procedure.

Did she have any type of bondage issues with her photography? Did she like shooting bondage‑type photographs?

She was aware.

Chemo decimated her skin.

She was left with jangled nerves.

Opiates had no effect.

She had two red dots on each hip bone.

She did not feel good that day.

She didn't dislike it. She would shoot whatever she was asked to or could.

It felt as if something was trying to tear its way out of her abdomen.

Was she able to make a living?

What was puddling up under her was probably a cold sweat.

Something bad going on, either cancer or a tumor.

At various times.


Travel to New Orleans or to visit friends in Michigan on occasion.

OxyContin, I believe.

A history of depressive disorder? Anxiety? Panic attacks?
Eight to ten beers over a 10 to 12‑hour period.

In the morning?
No. Well, yes.

A 12-pack of Heineken?
Bubble-gum-flavored Xanax, yes.

Regardless, she stole it anyway.

Issues with anger?
Prozac, Paxil, Ativan.

Is this a good place to stop?

We didn't think she was going to die.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Tossing and Shoring

We are still floating in a state of job uncertainty, at least two more weeks to bob in the unknown. In addition to a move to Grand Rapids, the specter of Cincinnati looms. Still, all the hand wringing could just suddenly disappear and nothing will change, except all of my closets and cupboards will be cleaned. Good Will is tired of seeing me. I hide behind the blinds as my trash man heaves away the overflowing barrels. We should really be under this stress for the entire summer. So many things need to go. While I am tossing things overboard, the Finlander is shoring. This week on his journeys he captured thick wooden spoons “strong enough to beat our grandchildren with,” and a set of shining soup spoons.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Think of your breast as a face on a clock.
Place your right hand at twelve o'clock.

Move toward one o'clock in small circular motions.
Keep your fingers flat and in constant contact with your breast.

Use your fingers in a massaging, clockwise motion.
Remove pillow, check inner breast (six o’clock to eleven o’clock).

Ten o'clock. Eleven o'clock.. Twelve o'clock.

Attention left breast twelve o’clock.
A breast lump approximately 1 to 2 centimeters at nine o’clock.

Soft, round, mobile, non-tender.

Ultrasound wand on the three o’clock position of her right breast…
The right breast mass at one o’clock was marked and scanned.

The three to nine o'clock area that is recommended for excisional biopsy…

Palpable 1 cm mobile non-tender nodule on left breast at three o'clock.

5cm hard mass in the three o’clock position of the right breast 8cm from the nipple.

One morning on seven o'clock rounds, she complained of insomnia.
Most evenings, she goes to bed at nine o’clock.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The OC Boys

Housekeeping and out of control blood pressure have pulled me back to the trains. It seems I need a little exercise, a little fresh air. This is the train trestle in Osceola that inspires me at times. Baugo Ferretti Park now hems it in, but there's a back gate close to my front door, so I slip in when there's time. I'm thinking we ought to do a writer's picnic next week. The park has some nice short hikes.


I shoved aside my own frantic housekeeping for awhile to finish up Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping. Towards the last few chapters, nothing else mattered except finishing the book. I haven't read something so right in a very long time. It has everything I love and fear, trains, the lake, drowning, transience, bridges, life coming undone, undertows, old houses... I could go on and on. It was like coming home. I will read it, I know, again and again.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Elusive Essence

It is hard to get to the essence of things, so the poem below is me just trying to find out what the important part of the story is. I stumbled across familiar words recently, Prayer concerns "For the family of..." a man I knew, whose life lately had unraveled, but I didn't know he had died. He told me a story once. When he was four he and his mother watched his father take off in a private plane. It was a birthday present for his dad. The plane went up and then fell before their eyes in flames. I think his father's burning ashes seared all his days. I haven't got it right yet, but that's the story, at any rate.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Burying a Fine Spring Day

(Working on this. Not done.)

Steeped in stained glass
Charred remains dissolve

Black mortar, glue

Sinew searches for solid bone

What holds us together

While our fathers’ flaming
Ashes rain and rain

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Up Above My Head

Chronic Liar's Pea Soup

In my recipe folder I have a stained, photocopied recipe for pea soup with a picture of Eric Clapton in his kitchen and allegedly Clapton's signature. It was passed on to the Finlander by a chronic liar. I've always called it Eric Clapton's Pea Soup, but until I have more proof I'm going to switch to Chronic Liar's Pea Soup. It seems like I have a higher responsibility for accuracy when I put something in print. I always pull out this recipe in the spring when the mint is up. It's not your average pea soup recipe. It's pretty good.

1 lb. frozen peas
1 small lettuce
A few sprigs of fresh mint
A few sprigs of fresh parsley
1 tsp. sugar
1 medium onion
1/2 cucumber
2 ounces butter
2 1/2 pints chicken stock
1/3 pint milk
2 tsp. curry powder
Salt & Pepper

Peel & chop cucumber and onion -- clean & chop lettuce mint & parsley. Heat butter in large saucepan (keeping in mind the post below). Add lettuce, cucumber, onion, mint & parsley and stir till butter is absorbed. Add stock, peas, sugar, salt & pepper. Simmer until peas are soft. Pour the liquid into a blender and puree, adding the curry powder. Then reheat adding the milk and correct the seasoning.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Has This Ever Happened To You?

So, I'm thinking about found text. Here's a little court dialogue that was amusing me while I was trying to finish up all my classes. Probably why I got a C+ on my research paper.

Q. Has this ever happened to you?
A. Yes.
Q. Have you ever consulted a doctor about this?
A. About my inability to get the egg into the frying pan fast enough? No.
Q. Have you taken any actions to correct your behavior to prevent further overheating of cooking oils or fats?
A. I don't turn the pan up as high.
Q. When did you decide you would like to start taking corrective action?
A. About burning the butter?
Q. Yes, in your cooking habits.
A. I didn't decide to take corrective action.
Q. Do you own a bird?


I’ve been tagged by Talia. I’m not wearing any socks, but these are the first few things that come into my head, in no particular order, bearing in mind that tomorrow I might wear socks and have a completely different list. But I guess anytime I hear these songs I’m likely to smile.

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” Rolling Stones 1969
“Stoned Me” Van Morrison 1970
“No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature” The Guess Who 1970
“Steal My Kisses” Ben Harper 1999
“Up On Cripple Creek” The Band 1969
“Easy Rider” Janis Joplin 1968

Looks like I might be old. We’re renovating our musical minds over here, looking into music that we weren’t really aware of when it came out. Satellite radio and itunes have opened up vast musical horizons. I guess I better tag someone now. Jesus and Jennifer, you’re it and you’re it.

In other news:

Fiddler’s Hearth was great. There is something otherworldly about watching people doing what they love. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when they’re good at doing what they love, either. I know, I know, I'm the mom...

The cleaning and polishing and shining continues. Gene is now surfing the net, figuring out where his pants should break, what color shirt and tie to wear to an interview. We’ve been married 22 years and these have never been pressing concerns.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Job News

First, and most important, Tom & Crew are playing at Fiddler's Hearth tonight, 9 or 9:30-ish. Should be fun, only 15 minutes or so, enough time for a small chat, as though my chats were ever small. Come if you can. It's a nice atmosphere.

The Finlander's resume has been polished and sent. In 30 days two people will be asked to move, Grand Rapids or Cincinnatti. The lucky two people, if they decide not to move, will be let go at the end of the year. No one knows who is going to be asked. Gene has been with this company 24 years. Meanwhile, he's trying to transfer out of his department into a job with 70% travel, but no move. If that's no go, and he is asked to move, he'll go to Grand Rapids, pick up a cheap place, and Jojo and I will finish out the next 1-2 years here. There is no way I could leave one second sooner. On the good side, in the county north of Grand Rapids there is some beautiful acreage, something I've always wanted. We'll probably be in a state of uncertainty all of May.

My personal closet is now cleaned, although I did reconsider one action. I threw out a box of letters from my teenage years. They were mostly from one guy... No one thought it was a smart move, so I retrieved them from the trash before the rain came, put them back in the closet. History has not been lost, just shoved to the back of the closet.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Not Worth a Darn

At noon on Saturday I arrived at a place called caught up. I wasn't sure what to do. This place always makes me nervous. Suddenly it's my turn to choose the moves. I am endeavouring to persevere. I have opened up Animal Soul by Bob Hicok. It's quite good, funny, sharp. Perhaps it will help me get into the writing mood. The end of the semester has left me a little dry, as the blog will attest. In the meantime, I am emptying closets and bookshelves, abandoning things I've outgrown, figuring out what I absolutely can't do without. Job instability has shown its face to the Finlander. Leaving my street today felt like leaving the womb. Okay. That was stupid. No one actually remembers what leaving the womb feels like. Well, I certainly don't, but since I get claustrophic it probably felt good. But I just can't quite nail the feeling. One hundred and one metaphors for leaving and not one worth a darn.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


My children, in different states, but on the same day, dream of tornadoes while they carry our animals out of harm’s way. They feel the tearing winds, the desire to save. Certainly someplace there is a center that never moves.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Whew! What day is it? Where am I? Where are you?

I turned in my last paper at 11:30 last night, at least I hope that's what happened. It's all a blur. I'm ready for that picnic at Potato Creek.

More later. I'm alive. I hope you're alive, too.