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Thick with Humidity · Monday July 14, 2014 by Janet

Summer in Virginia.

Severe thunderstorm warning until later.

No Currier and Ives images here. They never captured the humidity anyhow.

The storms are becoming more violent and deadly.

The folks denying climate change preach God and country:
In the USA, the “S” stands for stupid.

Too Much Coffee · Monday July 14, 2014 by Janet

I can pretend I can drink coffee any time and still get all the rest I need.
It isn’t true.

So, I will be alert and toss and turn instead of sleeping. And seven o’clock will find me tugged awake by NPR and the coffee maker ready to be turned on.

I know there are reasons to cherish wakeful times: times to ponder life and love and the details distracting me from the bigger picture and deeper points.

I think I could probably give up coffee altogether and undergo a de-tox.
For now I don’t want to.
I really like the warmth of the cup and the room-filling aroma.
I do enjoy being able to afford this first world luxury.

There are worlds of others who do not share this privilege.
I have not forgotten them.

Time for bed again. May I stay up late with the adults?
Or have a drink with Hemingway and find reasons to be more adventurous – unconcerned with effects and consequences.

Another cup? An aperitif?
A time to savor luxuries and follow paths of wakefulness.

Memories of my father · Monday July 14, 2014 by Janet

He sat on the basement steps – ill from the experimental medicine he was taking.
I fussed at him for lying to me.
I had asked him about something and later discovered his answer was a lie.

I recall that moral indignation I wish now I could take back.

His lupus was bad. Most of the treatments he underwent were worse.
In this system of alleged “healthcare” that he navigated, there were few good options.

I know he suffered and wished it would end.
I know now I added to his anguish.

I hope he forgave me. I was disillusioned by moral principles I thought I knew.

I had no idea what he went through.

Any lies he may have told were ones he probably wished he himself believed.

April 24 2014

Easy Math · Tuesday January 28, 2014 by Janet

I’m not always good with numbers.
I can figure out my age because my birth year is
a nice round number.

Sometimes I don’t know how old my son
would be now.
But I do remember the year he died.
Another round number.
Y2K was nothing in my life.
My world fell into pieces whether or not computers failed.

This year a life puzzle fell into place:
I turned 64 and Patrick would have been 32.

What i always know: Patrick is half my life.

A Note About Squirrels · Thursday January 16, 2014 by Janet

Cicadas returned to Virginia in the summer of 2013.
Their noise droned from the trees for weeks.
Their brown shells crunched below our feet and clung to walls and fences.

Squirrels seemed intent on killing themselves as they zigged and zagged across highways and roads.
Very often small furry bodies stayed on the roads as
wheels ended their frenzied crossings.

Small branches broke off the trees – often oak – and littered yards and roads.
I would pick them all up one day and the next you couldn’t tell they had ever been picked up.
Was there a name for these break-off’s?

Chatting with a friend in December, I commented on the suicidal squirrel behavior of the summer.
With his quiet words, he explained many things:
“The squirrels were frantic because there were no acorns this year.
The cicadas had damaged the oaks when they laid their eggs.
The branches broke off so no acorns were produced.
The deer, too, had no acorns so they were eating all the shrubs and flowers in the yards.”

Just like that: Ecology 101.

No wonder the small grey rodents were frantic.
They were facing death either way.

* * With gratitude to DuVal Shumaker.

The Voice · Monday December 23, 2013 by Janet

is not the TV show exploiting unknown singers,
promoting a few but not most to “big star” status.

This voice tunes me to the chords of the universe,
causing vibrations that echo in inner and outer worlds.

This voice guides me from “Oms” through “Namaste” and beyond.
It takes me to gratitude for the joy of movement and prepares me
for deep relaxation.

It remains constant despite interruptions for trash collection and
the forestry service forgetting we are there, carrying on conversations
in the echo chamber of the hall.

The voice encourages us as we do downward facing dog,
letting us know we need not argue with hamstrings that know better than to aim for pain.

This voice takes us from one asana to another, with explanations for how this
body grants us joys and mobility, flexibility and healthful living.

This voice reflects and radiates lessons about how we function and
how to be patient, to listen to our inner wisdom as it teaches us better ways.

This voice takes me through deep relaxation to the edge of deep blue visions
before my eyelids and almost imperceptibly back again to gentle rousing
from another yoga session.

We are our own stars, learning to listen to the voice,
tenderly tuning us to the universe.

For Hope with gratitude and love,

Billy Bragg's "Tooth & Nail" · Wednesday September 18, 2013 by Janet

Sit down. Kick off your shoes and listen. For those of us of a certain age, and of a very particular kind of experience, the playlist of “Tooth & Nail” will feel familiar and sound throughout our souls. You may at first be attracted by the rousing “There will be a reckoning”, but you will want to stay for the funny and poignant messages portrayed by Bragg as he paints a portrait of a poetic handyman or prepares for the funeral of a loved one. The romantic loveliness of “Your Name on My Tongue” will linger in your heart, accompanied by a musical arrangement that will send that same heart soaring. Bragg is a craftsman musician and songster. These songs will break your heart – and I mean that in the best of ways.

Reading Books · Saturday August 31, 2013 by Janet

Maybe I read it before.

Perhaps it was one that was assigned in high school English.
It might have been on the required reading list.

There is much to be said for reading books when you are grown.

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 was published in 1953.

I am reading it in 2013.

Horrified at the flat screen reality he described then that has become reality now.

Earbuds firmly in our ears. As Faber says they did not need to burn the books. People weren’t reading them anyhow.

No need to close the universities. No one was taking the courses on English literature or Greek philosophy.

People are not talking on the porches.
Watching alligator hunters in the swamps is not reality.

What does it matter who is chosen on “The Voice” when no one is listening?

At Home with the lights turned off · Wednesday May 23, 2012 by Janet

I sit at the window to witness the lightning and rolls of thunder.
The drama of the storm has loosened adrenaline
and made the dog nervous and eager to be near.

Once my son died, I wondered what else could hurt me.
The numbness that held my heart seemed impenetrable.

Until the undertow at the beach threatened to make my numbness a moot point.
I made it out of the water.

Until the suspicious mammogram left me crying on the examination table.
I’ve already been through so much, spare me an ignoble battle with cancer.

The results were “benign”. Such a strange word.
I still had to find reasons to go on living without the child with whom I shared the excitement of thunderstorms.

Poetry Month 2012 · Monday April 30, 2012 by Janet

I have not written a poem.
April is national poetry month.
My writing languishes.
My friends wait for letters.
My cats and dog go un-petted.

Then you send me this photo of birch trees that can only be European and my head spins to another continent.

Shall I never be rid of Dr. Zhivago riding through the snow in a cold I felt in my toes for years?

Lately I dream of living in Portugal or Morocco – away from the drones of indifference of the peace president.
Instead I deal with the daily debris of too much stuff but not enough cash, of work that is putting in time and mindless data entry.

I did not plan well for retirement.
I did not buy the new used car while I still had health insurance.

But I did escape insanity and the awful sameness that was making me ill.

And now I occasionally have a morning for me.
I can savor the beauty of the morning light and actually feel how different it is when I am not rushing to go to work.
I can look out over the pond and observe the cows and allow myself the luxury of reading a book just because I want to.

So I take this as a sign that the world can spin out of control but I will still be fighting for understanding and
wondering why there is never enough time to encourage friends who need it.

“Zweiundsechzig und kein bisschen weiser?”
Na ja – mal sehn.
Love and Light.