Autumn cattails

Autumn cattails

Roasted marshmallows on a stick
dripping sweet fluff
that momma bird
wove into her cozy grass nest
made visible at leaf-fall of autumn
along the dusty country road.

When the dust settles
and the branches stand bare,
when the cattails lose their tight composure
and the chicks have long fledged,
there is a vulnerable, honest moment
to reflect on where and how and with whom
you spend your precious time,
that bare moment when you question
and yearn and choose to leave your nest
and fly.

Posted in Wisconsin | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A day at home

A day at home.jpg
A day off at home

The blue light of pre-dawn
rouses me from a cozy sleep.

A country run into the organing horizon,
feet pounding on the gravel road,
invigorates me.

The morning breeze kicks up.
Open windows
bring in the energy of waving trees
and squawking birds.
I am busy in the kitchen
and tick chores off my task list.

As the day warms,
I can smell ripened crops
and browning mown grass
and feel the passing shadows of clouds mixed with faded blue.
This “me” time
to nap and write and create.

Deer come out to graze
as evening approaches.
The twin fawns have grown taller than the beans
and the coopers hawk futilely chases swallows
as they crisscross above the prairie lawn for mosquitoes.
This is time to nourish myself.
Shakshuka (shahk-SHOOK-kah) fragrant with Indian spices
and full of local grown vegetables and eggs
is my dinner.

Day light gloms.
The trees are still and darken to a deep emerald
with edges washed in yellow light.
The neighbor’s barn is lit with alpenglow,
the tasseled cornfield a blanket spread at its feet.
My spirit grows contemplative
as I watch the day tuck into night.
There is time yet for a movie,
a movie filled with laughter and inspiration
watched part on the exercise machine
and part sunk into the couch.

Darkness has folded-in around the house now.
It makes the space feel quiet and calm
and a little lonely.
It is time to settle into sleep.
I read my daily affirmation,
pull up the covers,
and shut off the night light.

As I drift off “to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat,”
I am grateful for a day at home
to nest and create and nourish
my mind, body, and soul.

Posted in Wisconsin | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Open the windows

Open the windows.jpg
Open the windows

Sitting in our quiet house
I opened the windows to let nature in,
to let in the alchemy of trees mixed with wind,
the sound of summer blowing out
and autumn sliding in.

Posted in Wisconsin | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poison Ivy

poison ivy.jpg
Poison Ivy

Leaves of three,
let it be
cause it might be poison Ivy.

So many plants of three
how do I know it’s one of these?

Follow this guide
for I have not lied,
it will keep you out of trouble
and avoid making your skin bubble.

Ivy looks so sweet
with its leaves in a circle neat.
its green blades are round and wide
the size of potato chips before their fried.

Ivy edges are not smooth
but serrate like snaggled toothes.
They have small veins
off a main vein
so in vain, do not miss these un-vane plants.

Ivy never branches
just three poison chances
on an 8 inch stick,
a tri-lobed green lolli-pop
that you cannot lick.

This shade lover
is found under forest cover.
It spreads from its roots
and can reach your ankles over your boots.

Poison Ivy has no luster to muster
like its shiny cousin Poison Oak
but, be warned, Ivy also is no joke.

As forest romancers
rolling in the hay will attest,
staying far away is really best
for if you do not heed
and touch this noxious weed,
your skin will boil up red
with pockets of weeping liquid.

About your looks, do not worry
cause the itching will make you more sorry.
But, in 5-12 long days
you will recover
and be much the wiser.

Posted in Wisconsin | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Helyn – A modern woman

Helyn – A modern woman
January 24th, 1915 t0 June 22nd, 2016

Helyn (changed from the old fashioned “Helen”)
was not a traditional mother or grandmother
except that she liked to be pretty as women do
with her lovely wardrobe of stylish dresses,
layers of petty coats to fill out her slight frame,
and attention to her beauty and quiet charisma in community plays.

She lived younger than her age.
She wasn’t ready to be “grandma”
and preferred the title “super gram” over “great grandmother.”
She referred to pruney old ladies
because she never was a pruney old lady
with her hair perfectly done
and lip stick expertly applied before leaving the house.
She always looked 20 years younger than her age,
as if she would ever tell you her age.

She was a modern woman,
a working mother before there were working mothers.
She went to college, not to find a man,
but to start a career.
She worked from high school to 93
having two lifetimes of jobs.

She had the ordered, quick mind of a
court reporter, accountant, and church secretary
yet a disordered house with
stick pins, pennies, and plenty of papers lying about.

This wasn’t an obstacle to her love of entertaining however.
Clutter could be quickly swept away
even hidden in the dryer
to expose the elegance of her home.
A wall of beautiful antique clocks,
framed prints of famous paintings,
a hmong art quilt and a family quilt hanging on the wall.
A grand porch and blooming rose bush,
delicate rose china in the cabinet,
and a booming, ebony grandfather clock in the corner.

There was music plunked out by grandchildren
on a table top organ,
card tables pulled out for “hand and foot,”
bridge club and occasionally sheepshead.
At holidays she’d gather her big family
serving them her German potato salad
and moist Thanksgiving stuffing.
There were always five gallon tubs of ice cream
in the garage freezer
and plenty of food left out on the table for snackers.

She was a modern thinker too
up on politics, economics, and church business.
She read Time magazine and watched Dr. Oz.
She believed that women could do anything
and didn’t need to take the traditional path of marriage and children.
We lost grandpa to a heart attack at age 61,
she contently never remarried or even dated.
She traveled to far flung places,
expressed educated opinions,
and had a dry, witty humor.

She had a soft spot for men who needed a mother figure
yet she wasn’t a push over.
She was the disciplinarian of the family
Dad had the soft heart and gentle ways.
The rubber hose above the door frame
was her threat to naughty children.

She was a survivor.
Survivor of a childhood with little money
although rich in intellect and possibilities.
She survived cancer
and survived watching her children battle their cancers and trials.
She outlived a husband, a beloved daughter-in-law, and all her siblings
yet had the fortune to have never lost a child past infancy.

Helyn lived until her final few months
in her hometown, in her marital home on the farm.
She loved the Pope
yet cherished and held onto life tightly.
She used to say,
“I am going to live forever. Someone has to be the first, why not me.”
Only when approaching 100 years old
did she scale back that goal to 102
and upon turning 101 bumped it up to 105.
Not quite forever, but close.

What a gift to have had a mother and grandmother,
a matriarch, to us and to a small town community,
for more than a century.
She was our pivot point,
a person who taught us about strength and making opportunities
and being true to yourself.

We will remember you always, Helyn, as a modern, strong, spirited woman.
We all love you.

Posted in Wisconsin | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Light bathing

Light bathing
Light bathing

Morning sun
white yellow
illuminates my forehead,
hands, and belly.
It catches in my eye lashes.
I can see its beads
in my every blink.

Morning light sparkles
on the fibers of my blanket.
It glints off my pen
into my downcast eyes.

The day is inviting me
to lounge and be.
Sun will do the work today,
the work of growing and greening,
of moving fairly
sprinkling bright drops
over the fields and
through the leafy trees
onto the delicate bells
of lily of the valley.

All I need to do
is allow
to breathe in
the drops falling
across my lips
and let them soak
life energy
into my soul.

Posted in Boston | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A curated life

A curated life

A curated life
A museum quality life
where we hold onto
things that give us
beauty, pleasure and function
and cast off the
things and people and beliefs
that do not nourish us

Cast off
pinchy shoes,
negative nellies,
broken tools,
dirty carpet,
harsh light bulbs,
unsafe practices,
belittling thoughts,
unresearched judgements,
and processed foods

Keep nature
the green and growing,
strong and blowing,
singing birds
and shade trees

Keep art our muse
poems and pictures,
happy music,
sensuous sculptures,
symbolic wreaths
and calming decor

Keep clothes
of color and soft fabric
with flowing lines
and classic style,
stretch and comfort,
warmth and breathability

Keep function
The tea mug,
the toaster,
broom and rake,
things for cleaning
and things for transport

Especially keep loved ones
who love us back
with wide open arms,
warm kisses,
interested ears,
and thoughtful hearts

A curated life
is a chosen life
culled for happiness,
love, and uncluttered peace

Posted in Boston | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment