Monday, July 30, 2007


I started reading Michael Burkard's My Secret Boat a few days ago, and it is stirring things inside my writing brain. I've been stuck for awhile, unable to access the places where the words live. But simply reading Burkard you have to go into those places and muck around. This is not a book you can read on the surface and consume, or at least I can't. It's more of a soaker. I read one page, maybe two, and then I let everything seep for a time. So, I love it. Maybe I'll have a new poem one of these days, and I'll loan the book to you, whenever that time is when I get to the end. Here's a small part:

"You die a thousand deaths in a private secret life, for no one knows what you do, what you love, and of course others are doing it, as with song, and you always hear this and die some more. And you usually wind up converting the private life into some other form, a form which will allow the secret life to remain a secret, yet will still feed the new form. With me it was writing. The cost of the conversion was immense--it is twenty-five years later and I am only beginning to realize the cost, even as I write here, to it, for the first time. For the conversion calls for still another layer of identity which often (although, I agree, not always) obscures the real even more. It is layer upon layer. Identity to one's self, others, identity to one's hat--my hat the writing hat, my arm the arm of memory--now I prefigure a drawing of a man whose arm is abstract, but active--and who has a hat for a head! And where is the heart? A secret mark, breathing still, what a miracle!"

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Rachel's Bread

I've found a possible location for the next writers' thing, if I can drag you people out of South Bend. Tom had a gig last night at Rachel's Bread, 212 W. Washington St., Goshen, and it is the place. It's next door to the farmer's market, organic, with good beer and good coffee and great food... They had hearth roasted salmon and greek pizza. So, the gist is I liked it, a lot. But I know, it's far, gas prices... We'll see. They only take cash, too, which is not such a bad thing. And, because Rachel wants a little break, she's going on vacation for two weeks, so they'll be closed during that time. This is definitely my kind of business. The pic above is (left to right) Spencer Short, Ben Petrie, Tom, and Eric Simpson, in all their Irish band glory.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Looking Out My Back Door

My messy nature.

Miss Honey Pie Chicken eating her breakfast.

It all goes a little wild this time of the year. The volunteer cherry tomatoes are crowding everything, including this hisbiscus Yolanda gave me a few years ago. To the left of the hibiscus is one of Gene's hops plants that he started this year.

From The View

Every writers' get-together is vastly different from the previous ones. They all take on their own little personalities, which is cool. There were six of us at Howard Park, Chris, Naoko, Rachel C., Neil (with text messages from Chad who absquatulated to Florida) and David K., so we adjourned to The View for better beverages and the necessary smoky atmosphere. I don't think there were any plots to overthrown anything, but I might have missed that part again. Anyway, it was fun. Let me know what and when we should do something next. I'm starting to run out of ideas over here. Chris is playing at The Hearth in two weeks, which is fun to watch but not necessarily good for conversation.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Rain or Shine - But Probably Rain

Okay. It’s going to rain. We’re still meeting at Howard Park at 6:30 for the writers’ get-together, congregating in the parking lot, but we’ll probably then convoy to either the Bucket or Chris O’Brien’s, depending on who brings kids. Thanks to Chris for offering her abode! Hope to see you all there. Chris lives close to downtown, and is a very congenial type, so it's all good.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Writers' Get-Together - Howard Park Map

Here's the requested map to the writers' get-together for Thursday evening. What if it rains? I don't know. Why do I have to decide? Someone tell me what to do if it rains. I like rain, but maybe not everyone does. We need the rain, anyway. I'm tired of hauling buckets of water to my baby blueberry plants. I'm bringing cookies. You don't have to bring anything, unless you really want to...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Woods

It's still a week before the Keweenaw, but I'm already throwing things in piles so I won't forget them. Extra batteries for the GPS, hiking boots, maps, a box of jelly jars so I can make thimbleberry jam if there are any berries in my super-secret thimbleberry patch that only that one black bear knows about. I'm trying to figure out which books to take. My headboard is getting heavy again. Work has picked up and I haven't been able to read a darn thing except for court transcripts and blogs. Waiting to be read:

The Complete Stories Flannery O'Connor
Already Dead Denis Johnson
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Annie Dillard
I hate to see that evening sun go down William Gay
Legends of the Fall and The Beast God Forgot to Invent Jim Harrison
My Secret Boat Michael Burkard

I obviously don't need to lug all of that, so I think I'll choose two and probably not finish anything. Usually the best stories up north are the ones not written down.
I'm working up my nerve to more fully explore an abandoned cemetery tucked away on the side of this cliff, but we'll see. It's the companion cemetery to the one I love at the bottom of the cliff that's sunk into the muck. Back in the day the Catholics were buried in the lower cemetery and the Protestants in the upper cemetery. I've probably posted this pic before, but it's from the lower Cliff View.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Champion Dog

On Monday nights Jojo takes Max to dog obedience and agility training classes. He is not particularly gifted in obedience, but he likes hanging out at the fair grounds with his dog friends. We had high hopes that he would do well in agility, because he can jump all the way to the top of the screen door when he wants in and he can run like the wind when he escapes from our fence. However, they don't ask the dogs to do those things in agility training. They have to run a course, in the right order, and use a timer. It was like one of those poetry exercises! I really had a lot of sympathy for the dogs. But Max prevailed. He only ran away twice and ran through all the obstacles faster than the other two dogs in his class. So, he got both a white ribbon (for subpar performance) and a Champion trophy for beating out the two other dogs. We are so proud.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Time to Change Your Air Filters

Every week we think we might hear some definitive answer about Gene's job, but months have gone by and we still don't know. As it stands right now, sometime in the future, perhaps, he will start a new job 50 percent of the time in the field engineering department. "We'll get back with you and schedule something." In the meantime, we're on standby, "as you were." Whatever. So since we're flying into the realm of limbo in perpetuity, we're doing the only reasonable thing we know how to do. In a couple of weeks we're heading for the Keweenaw air. Whew.

Letting the Garden Go

I've been falling down on my picture taking/posting responsibilities.
Last week I discovered Tomato Hornworms on the volunteer cherry tomatoes that have spread across my garden. I was incensed, or something like that. Look how this one has stripped the tomato of its upper leaves. I did not save their lives. I fed them to the goats. They're sneaky, though. They look just like the tomato plants. However, this week I was delighted to find that some insect was laying their eggs on them, Braconid Wasps, I found out. Everyone should have a garden to enjoy, an organic one, of course.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Back to Work

Work is always slow at the beginning of July, but things are picking up. Today promises to be entertaining.

Q. And were you in the right-hand lane on Chestnut when you noticed Mr. D. on your windshield?

A. I would have to say kind of like in the middle.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

OR/WA & Jesus

I'm not sure if this is Washington or Oregon. They kind of run together, like Michiana. Maybe they call it Washegon or perhaps Orington. Anyway, Gene says it's nice, like the U.P. but bigger.

In other news, get over to Jesus' blog (link on the left). He's had a story accepted to an online publication, Shine. Yes, I know, I'm not giving the links. If you just go to Jesus' blog (on the left) you'll see it all.

Monday, July 16, 2007


My dentist was right. I did need a crown. It occurred to me that she was right over the weekend. I rubbed rum on my gums all day Sunday. We spent three quality hours together today. We'll spend some more quality time together in a few more weeks. When the rum wears off I'll be back. I hate it when she's right.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Ongoing Tunes

Talia took fantastic pictures of Chris last night at the zoo. There is something other wordly about her when she plays her fiddle. It's not the pure music that sends me; I'm not sure I always hear it. It's watching the players become consumed.

The kids, of course, were beautiful, too. They can hear the music and they have to dance. They just run out there. Kennedy's Kitchen threw away the set list so the kids could keep dancing. That's grace. Amen. I would tell you about the clouds and the trees, but you already know.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Kennedy's Kitchen at Potawatomi Zoo

Another gorgeous day. Jeez. Talia mentioned it, but I wanted to mention it again. Chris O'Brien, our writing pal, of Kennedy's Kitchen fame, is playing tonight from 5-8 at Zoo Fest (or some such title) at Potawatomi Zoo. So pull yourself away from the computer and get out there. I'm coming and bringing Jojo. I think Talia might be there. Like my grandma used to say, go outside and play, or else.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Blue - or Maybe Cerulean

There are days when the temperature is perfect, the sky is blue, etc., etc., etc. Like today, for instance. Who can argue with a day like today? Give it up. The sky is blue. I'm not sure why blue got associated with depression. It can't be because of the sky. I think I could be bleeding to death and happy about it if the sky was blue. Have you ever heard of anyone dying of the ceruleans? No.

The writers' thing was good. I can never hear all the voices I want to, but what can you do? Just being together with everyone infiltrates my skin. I'm porous, it all seeps in. David and Talia have other details on their blogs, if curiosity is killing you. Of course, if curiosity is killing you it means you weren't there and you should have been. Blah, blah, blah.

If it's my fault that you weren't there because I schedule these things during the day, I'm going to try and bend a little. The next one will be in the evening. So there. Maybe by tomorrow I'll decide on a day. The choices seem to be the 24th, 25th, 26th. I will use my trusty dart if no one speaks up.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Playing Chopsticks Again and Again

Out in Vancouver, Washington, recycling is the thing. I'm getting one of these in a few days, a fruit basket made out of recycled chopsticks from the farmers' market. Of course my son said, "How gross is that." I'm sure they sanitize the chopsticks. When you're not using the basket it folds into a fan. Here's a couple of links: Chop Stick Art and Cracked Pots. How funny is that? I think I've found my new home.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A New Mythology

It’s not about the bees.

We dream differently,
faces to the ground listening
for the tremble of the water table
set for who knows who?

It’s flowing through this earth
and that earth, weaving the earths together
into a primordial ooze. This is a mythology.
Who knows what is true?

In my dreams you are naked
and bleeding; you have three children;
you are a black butterfly; we argue.

I am a tree.
Feeling you move.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Foreign Country

Naoko tagged me after a great post about bringing her basin to America. I'm in awe. How can I even think of what I would bring to a foreign country where I was staying for a year? I'm having an imagination failure big time. First of all, which country? No, that can't even be first of all. First of all I must think, what about my dogs, my cats, my goats, my chicken!!! I want to go, really, but shouldn't I wait for them all to die? This tag is causing me some major anxiety. Jeez. I think I'm going to have to give up tag if things keep going this way.

Hold on - what's that I hear? A cat hacking, puking on my carpet, again. I am throwing her outside, she is fighting me, sticking her claws in the screen. Just a minute. I'm sure I can find something to take to a foreign country for a year.

OC Boys

We were winding up the evening, letting the last of the retold stories slowly unroll. It always turns on who is still living, whose bones are now rotting away. T. tells us K. died of cancer some six months ago. This is news that slipped by us. T. says he was never right anyway. He remembers the fun they had in the old grand piano boxes, thrown out behind the music store turned bar. “Man, we used those boxes. I mean we used them. One day I ducked into one of those boxes and K. was screwing this guy, this kid, M. He wanted me to join him, but I said nah, I gotta go home. He took things too far, K. did. But in the end he got religion. Became a deacon. M.’s been gone a long time, hung himself in the shower.” It wasn’t late, but we downed the last of our beers, made our way home.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Monarch

I found this Monarch dying at the parking lot at Lowes today. I know they have short life spans, but it just didn't seem right for something this gorgeous to die in that particular spot. So, I got him home without injury, a miracle, and promptly turned him over to Jojo, who is feeding him sugar water from her hands. He's sleeping now in the fuschias.