Saturday in August

On a lazy afternoon

Sun bright overhead

She lies, relaxed

In a hammock in the yard.

A book, unread,

Is open on her chest and

A breeze plays gently with her hair.

On a table nearby

Her drink warms as the ice quickly melts.

Beneath her,

close by as always,

The dogs rest, panting in the shade.

While around her,

Surrounding her everywhere

the buzzing of the cicadas lulls her to sleep.

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Regret

The rosy bloom
turned its face to me
like the sun
Reaching
Soft petals caressing
as I hurried past

Days turned cold
pink faded to white
petals wilted
Brown
gently dropping
Rushing, I didn’t notice

As the flower died
I recalled the rosy hue
The petal’s soft embrace

Too late.

Subject Line Poetry

I like to make poetry using email subject lines. Here’s a few:

so I don’t forget
I got a bad feeling
part of the reason
sounds like something you would do

lucky in love
Give me a break
Something to consider
Another one bites the dust


Virus Warning
One more time!
NOW EVERYONE SAY IT WITH ME
not a virus, it’s a hoax
mystery solved


i am the walrus
tonight
Lunch and Learn Next Week!

It’s Flannery O’Connor’s Birthday.
this pm
Can you believe?

This could have been us


travel expenses
pay day part two
engagement record

double-billed

To prove we really did this…


These poems originally published in 2003.

What the hell, World?

Has it always been this crazy?

The presidential election. (Sigh. This election.) Terrorists. Mass murder. Hate. Racism. Every other ism. Allowing ourselves to be pitched against one another. It’s madness.

My motherly instincts want me to hide my kids away, shield them from the absolute insanity going on in our world today.

But. They have to live in this world. And hopefully make it better when it’s their turn. So don’t they need to know it. All of it? Even the bad stuff?

It’s enough to drive a mom mad.

And yes, I do think it’s always been this crazy. We just didn’t know it. We didn’t always have social media, where we can literally watch things unfold in real time.

We didn’t have the news in our Facebook feed showing us every missing child, every murder, every abuse case from every small town in America. (Seriously, how do I turn that off?)

We didn’t have live tweeting from the scene. Giving us a perspective we’ve never had before. (And if you’re like me, you find out about things happening from Twitter.)

In the old days, if you skipped the 11 o’clock news and didn’t read the newspaper you were blissfully ignorant. (As long as you could dodge Gladys from down the street.)

Now, it’s everywhere. It’s difficult to ignore because social media and all things online are ingrained into our every day lives. It’s hard to escape, even if you wanted to.

I do love social media. I must, I do it for a living. I love keeping up with family and friends far away. I love seeing their pictures, hearing their stories. I love getting to know people from all over the world in a way that I could not have before.

But with the good comes the bad.

I also get to see the world as it is. Warts and all. And I get drawn in. Refreshing that feed too often. Checking the phone one too many times. And you know what? It makes me unhappy. (At least sometimes. I still love a good puppy pic.)

All the more reason to unplug regularly. (Or go off the grid altogether if that’s your thing.) I want to set a good example for my kids. I do think that, within reason, they should know what’s going on in the world. But they also need to learn moderation. And that constant exposure to social media and the insanity that comes with it is not healthy.

Earlier today as I sat in front of my screen working, my younger son waited patiently for me to read to him. I’ll tell you what, watching him giggle over a baby firefly being called a pupa was the most awesome thing that happened to me today. I’m glad he reminded me to unplug.

The best thing we can do is put our devices down and spend quality time with our kids. Raise them to be good human beings. As Whitney says, they are our future. Maybe if we raise them right this world will have a chance. I know I’m going to try harder.

The House Becomes

A house is merely a building, a structure,

made of wood, and glass

stone, and plaster.

It gives shelter from the cold, safety from harm,

a place to rest your head.

But wait.

Now fill it.

Fill it with love, and warmth

and welcoming arms.

Fill it with joy and laughter

tears and sadness.

Fill it with happiness, and grief.

Life. And death.

Now look.

Now it is transformed.

It is no longer simply walls and windows and doors.

No longer only shelter, or safety.

Filled with these things it becomes

something beautiful,

something inviting, and comforting;

something wonderful.

Filled with love, filled with family,

the house becomes

Home.

home

People can be mean

I called a little boy at the playground “nasty.”

It was not my finest parenting moment. In fact, it was a missed teaching moment. But he made my son cry and I lost it.

If you knew my youngest son you might understand. At five, he’s the sweetest, most friendly, outgoing, easy-going kid.

He just wants to play. He’s never mean. (Unless it’s to his older brother, but he usually deserves it.) In fact, when has encountered mean kids he’d get a confused look, like he just didn’t get it. And why should he?

He’s the kid who runs on the playground to join a group of kids he doesn’t know without reservation. (And being his shy, introverted mom, I’m always awed and thrilled by this.) He’s also the one who, when he sees a kid playing by himself, will invite him to join whatever he’s doing. He says hello to everyone he passes and never turns down a chance at a conversation, with kids or adults.

So, we were at the playground alone and he was doing his thing. A group of kids around his age showed up. He immediately tried to play with them. He ran over and tried to engage. It was pretty obvious from my view that they blew him off. But he’s easy going, so he went back to his thing. A little later, he tried again. No success.  But again, he just went back to playing alone. No biggie.

Then, they all descended on the play equipment that he was on. He was sitting at the top of the little slide, and a girl was trying to climb up it. He wouldn’t move. (He can also be pretty stubborn.) She started yelling for her mom, and eventually he moved aside so she could pass. A minute later, he’s standing there, head hanging down not saying a word, and this blond boy a good two inches shorter than him obviously just laying into him. I couldn’t hear what was being said, so I inched closer.

“You aren’t my friend!”

“You can’t play with us!”

“We are all friends, and you’re not!”

I asked what was going on. The boy said my son tried to hit him. “No,” I said, “I saw him and he didn’t.”

“He was going to hit my sister.”  “No, I said again, “I saw the whole thing, and he wasn’t.”

“Well, he was mean to me.”

At this point, I looked at my son. He looked pitiful. Big fat tears slid down his cheeks. Snot ran out of his nose and puddled on his upper lip.

This is where I went wrong.

Instead of walking away, or finding the mom (who was in a gaggle of ladies not paying any attention), or saying something more adult-like, I turned into a petulant child. I said, “Well, you are not nice. He was just trying to play with you and you were mean to him. You are a nasty little boy.”

The boy tried to argue back, and I again said, “You are not being nice.”

And then, I took my boy by the hand and we walked away.

I told him that sometimes people just aren’t nice and we shouldn’t let it ruin our fun time. Even though he was crying and asked to leave—and my heart was breaking—I took him on the swings and eventually got him to smile again. But his heart wasn’t in it, so we left soon after.

I forced myself to be pleasant all the way home and talk about how fun the playground was, and what we’ll do the next time we go, because I didn’t want him to focus on the negative. But my blood was boiling and, worse, I knew I blew it.

So, yeah, it was not my finest moment. And an opportunity to teach my son to be the bigger person was lost. But, damn, when I saw those tears and that wounded face…I just couldn’t.

Saying Goodbye to Max

The vet called today. She told me that she had Max’s ashes ready for us.

We adopted Max when he was 10 months old. I wasn’t sure I wanted a German Shepherd, but my husband did. I agreed that if he could find a GSD at a shelter we would talk about adopting it. So one day on a whim, he stopped at the local animal shelter with our two youngest in tow; and there he was. He’d just been brought in as a stray a few days before, so he wasn’t even available for adoption yet. The kids begged and pleaded so I agreed to go see him.We waited the required few days and set up a “meet and greet”. Usually the shelter staff will name the animals brought in, but he hadn’t been there long enough. They put us in a small room and went to get him. When they brought him in he didn’t even hesitate, he just ran right over to me, put his paws up on my shoulder and gave me a hug, tail wagging furiously. Somehow he knew I was the one he had to win over. I looked at my husband and said “His name is Max.”. The poor guy was so skinny, he must have been on the streets for quite awhile. But he was smart and sweet and gentle, and he stole my heart.

1330614044320We were lucky, and so blessed. We had 16 years with Max. Most German Shepherds have a life span of 10-12 years. For most of those years he was happy and healthy. He didn’t slow down until he was almost 14. The vet was always amazed and would tell us “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it!”  We didn’t do anything special, we just loved him. That was easy to do.

I could talk forever about Max, about how intelligent he was, or how patient he was with the kids. How he never growled or barked or nipped at them, even when our granddaughter rubbed petroleum jelly all over him. But I would never be able to convey what a wonderful dog he was. Max gave us so much love and trust that letting him go was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I wanted to share all my memories of Max, but I’m not quite ready to let them go. So I’ll share them a little at a time, when I’m missing him the most.

Two weeks ago today, our buddy Max crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Tonight he’ll be coming home for good.