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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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There’s no place like Mom

There is no place like Mom.jpg
There’s no place like Mom

There’s no place like Mom
A safe place
without judgement

There’s no place like Mom
A warm place
full of unconditional welcome

A nurturing place
with good food
and big hugs

A fun place
with laughter,
card games and pink hair

A forever place
with love that
lives in your soul

there is
no place like Mom!

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In like a lamb
only the crusts of snow
like heels of day old bread
linger in the shadows.

The dormant grass is showing
like unmentionables under a short dress.

The fields are spitting rocks
and the gravel road puckers
as the frost comes out of its winter den.

The spring birds have been fooled,
red wingers bobbing on tattered cattails
and robins teasing worms from the brown lawn.

something changes.
Is it Pi day on 3/14
or the Ides of March on 3/15?
March changed her mind.

Rain then sleet then snow and blow
and blow.
The pussy willow catkins shiver
and the yearling fawns are scratching for corn kernels
heads down against the wet snow
whipping horizontally across the open spaces.
Weather man says snow all night.

Out like lion.

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A year with deer

A year with deer
A year with deer

A year with deer outside my window.
Creatures of the dawn and dusk
they materialize in the low light
leaving their hiding spots
to graze in the slight protection of numbers.
They nervously twitch flag tails
talking to each other,
bobbing their heads in watchful munching,
ears turning on turrets
listening for anything out of place.

They clue me into something amiss.
Tails in the air,
high leaps punctuated by nervous stares toward the creek.
They crowd closer together and move to the side of the house.
Hunger keeps them from darting into the woods.
I look where they are looking.
Ah, coyotes. Two of them. Slinking. Looking about.
Marking a bush. Gnawing on something.
The herd relaxes slightly as the coyotes leave the scene.
The business of dinner resumes.

As food becomes scarce in winter,
the deer pecking order shows up.
Does in their prime birthing years eat first.
Fawns come out in full daylight
to beat the cautious does to the waning food supply.

Fawns, now without the attention of their mothers,
like waking children with chicken tails,
fur ruffled and uncombed
eat the soy beans nearest the house
where the does will not venture.
They come in twin pairs
small and fluffy with sweet little noses
and a lost look in their eyes.

But, summer does are great mothers
stepping up their watchful biding to protect their progeny,
showing their darlings where and when to fill their bellies
and where and when to hunker down and chew their cud.
Fawns play and leap and nuzzle each other
unworried about dangers.

Falls deer are reeved by nature to procreate.
Does play hard-to-get
pestered by horny bucks
abandoning sustenance to chase tails
and posture to competitors.
Eventually does choose a suiter
looking back with a come hither,
get-this-over-with look.

And, the cycle continues.
Spring fawns
Fat summer of plenty
Rowdy fall
and scarcity of winter.
Through it all the strong and wily survive.

These beauties of the woods
thrive and grace us in with a show
as they go about the business
of living on the edge of forest and field
outside my window.

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