Sunday, March 7, 2021

Being Wise Five

Christmas 2016

Being Wise Five March 7, 2021

Aging interferes with memory.

People used to admire mine.

Now I need reminding. I keep

two records, when I only need

one. If a book slips out of sight,

I can’t find it. I search my piles

of folders for class notes, student

work, miscellaneous papers I

don’t want to lose track of. But

where are they? Yet the lines

of new poems rise to the surface

My words are still there and

many memories, even if not

the ones I’m looking for. I do

pretty well on grocery lists and

remembering meal plans. My

life is simple: writing, publishing

what I’ve written; teaching, 

nudging my students to keep

after their goals, pointing out

awkward phrasing, celebrating

the completion of a book. 

Amazing that I still have

students. Once I forgot my 

class, but they were not angry.

They called to remind me. Can

love compensate for memory

loss? Sometimes, Muse Mother.


Sunday, February 28, 2021

Being Wise Four

Being Wise Four February 28, 2021

Some days aren’t so cold. We leave

the back door open in the afternoon

for the sun to beat on the storm door.

The volunteer peach tree has buds.

Daffodils rise in the front and in the

flower garden. Inside, my small orchid

thrusts out its tiny bloom stalks.

Tomorrow March arrives. I look at

the corner where my friend sat amid

a chaotic bunching up of clothes.

The fuscia in the window keeps

throwing up its red petals. She

brought us so many sad stories

of children in despair, lost and

maybe never found. I’ve lived here

quietly, at peace, glad for what I’ve

done in my life, for the obstacles

I’ve outwitted, the miles I’ve

traveled, the people I’ve loved and

been loved by. I wouldn’t change a thing.


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Being Wise Three

Photo of Three Cliffs Baby on Gower, Wales by John Ewiing.

 Being Wise Three February 21, 2021

What is life without problems? I have mine,

and then some. I have my helpers, but

sometimes they fail, too. It’s why we like

to hear about other people’s, what makes

them stumble, protest, even despair. My 

old friend used to say: “If human beings

are involved, there is always something

you can do.” Welford Wilson comforted

me when I was down-hearted, and we’d

pick ourselves up and try again. I lost

my website for a day. Then today, to my

surprise, it returned. The email is blocking

eleven messages in my outbox. My mind

doesn’t do well on this level of technical

competence. From long practice, I’ve

learned to hang on, try new things, ask

help, give it a rest. Read a book. True,

life without problems would be dull. 

So what if the dog pees? Clean it up.

If the package is delayed, be patient.

If the order is incomplete, call and

complain. Don’t expect a perfect

life. You already knew there’s no such

thing. If people fall in love with you,

remember they can also fall out of love.

Human beings change. Rare are the

ones who accept you, foibles and all,

errors and all. Things don’t exactly

solve themselves, but sometimes

you catch a glimpse of a possible

solution. Go for it.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Being Wise Two

Being Wise Two February 14, 2021

Day after day I see the same things:
photos of my twin grandchildren when
toddlers. And my son Tim at age ten.
A sprawling orchid blooms in my
window. Finnish islands carved by
glaciers on one wall. Books and boxes
of books are everywhere. Paintings
and pictures on the walls. A few
plants here and there. The dining
table with its odds and ends, address
labels, planner, medicine, placemats,
and silverware. We eat supper 
together. Last night, soup. He had
chicken noodle, and I had vegan–braised
vegetables. A CD player lives under
the lively orchid, and a long-stemmed,
vibrant plant throws itself around the
computer table seeking light and
recognition. The email today brought
me another order of Baba Summer Two,
newly arrived in one big box and two
small boxes. Because of the window,
this corner is cold. But I wear many
layers, and a blanket over my legs.
Clutter dominates my household,
and too many books. Tim builds a
fire with wood Janet brought. She’s
always a step ahead of me. She
worries I’ll get cold. Lately we have
rain, wind, and low thirties, but sun
will return. Out the back window
I can see my hens and their guard
dog rooster running to the orchard
and back. Under my desk, a chaotic
pile of receipts saved for filing with
my taxes. My body still lives and
thrives. I sleep when I don’t want
to sleep, and stay awake when I
want to sleep. My dreams are
coming true, despite setbacks and
delays. I suffer patience and humility.<

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Being Wise One

Being Wise One February 7, 2021 These days, these years are like no others. The virus confines us, yet we flourish. I make lasagna, pizza, spaghetti and tacos, fresh bread, lemon ginger tea. Janet and I plan a vegetable garden. We already have the seeds, and the onion sets are in the ground. We have the vaccine, too, now. I get my second shot in fifteen days. I still teach by Skype and publish books. One shipment in and one to wait for. Another already in the works. We have a new, sane president, but the last one left poison behind, still unresolved. Good and evil remain at war. Good will win but slowly. We’re told relief is coming, and more vaccine. Meantime, millions are without work or rent or food money. The numbers stay high of the sick and the dead. It’s time to throw away the bouquet that lived two weeks, to work harder to walk better. In my own way to tell the story of this year, its joys and sorrows, its newly learned patience and acceptance.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Talking to Myself Sixty

Talking to Myself Sixty January31, 2021 At this age--eighty-three--I think about the rest of my life. How many more years? I'll never know, but is it important? Probably not.Good things keep happening.. I woke up shivering, but I managed to cocoon myself and sleep another hour Taking off my covers feels risky, but I take the risk, add my serape to my costume for keeping warm, then my blanket. Toast and tea help. Outside snow is falling, the weather page tells me, and it won't get above 34. I'll make bread today and read a favorite author,heat the left over pizza, and Tim will start the woodstove earlier than ususal. Today matters. Each day brings a new surprise. My seventh grade boyfriend calls me up. His wife has dementia and he's depresed., but we laugh. My therapist' of the 80s to whom I dedicated my obook about teeens, writes to thank me and signs her letter "fondly." We're starting a vegetable garden. Janet has already planted onions and garlic and is readying rows for sugae snap peas. It will stay cold today, but we have wood and fire-starters, plenty of lemon grass tea.By suppertine we'll have fresh bread. I'll read the author I love best., walk indoors, make notes in my diary,laugh at Tim's Southern accent drink more hot tea and remember to enjoy each day's new surprises in a warm home.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Talking to Myself Fifty-Nine

Talking to Myself Fifty-Nine January 24, 2021 Once I held a songfest with a blue grosbeak at six in the morning. I sang, “Where are you?” and he sang, “I’m over here.” “I see you,” I’d call, and he’d reply, “I see you, too,” then fly away before my eyes with his mate. We were at the dam, No one else around. Now he is my screen-saver. I meet him every morning when I wake at three, four, five. His head and body are bright blue, his wings black, white, gold, even red. Imagine a bird singing to me. Out of the wide universe, a little bird. He doesn’t care if I forget what I’ve just said or lost an order I forgot to finish. All the limits of old age are upon me, one after the other. But people help me, and my spirits are generally good. I forgive myself and other people, too. No point in holding grudges. Best to have a clear conscience, achieve what I can, and then let go. I escaped our plague and get my shot tomorrow. Hallelujah, ***************************************************

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Talking to Myself Fifty-Eight

Early Spring Garden several years ago.

Talking to Myself Fifty-Eight January 17, 2021

The woods are full of gun-shots

on a Saturday afternoon. Two helpers

come to clear the garden for planting.

They bring dry wood treated to start

fires. I give them a loaf of bread and

some frozen collards. Tim goes out

to help them. The local Trump

supporters still have their signs out.

Most of us are Democrats, with a

few exceptions. We watched the attack

on the Capitol building. We hear

they’ve put up a fence around it, and 

National Guard troops brought in

to defend it and our elected president.

Where is our peacefulness? Where

is our living, breathing democracy?

Why are they shooting in the woods?

The first shipment of seeds is here.

Sugar Ann Sugar Snap peas, Early

Wonder beets, General Lee Slicing

cukes, Cajun Jewel okra, and Gold

Metal Mix zinnias, Sensation Mix

Cosmos. A brave man and a brave

woman will travel to the capitol

in three days to be inaugurated. We

Americans elected them. Why now

are we afraid for their lives

and our own?


Sunday, January 10, 2021

Talking to Myself Fifty-Seven

The village post office.


Talking to Myself Fifty-Seven January 10, 2021

I live in a democracy, which some

discount, including our president.

We want him gone. He still has

ten days, but how much damage

can he do? Too much, we fear. 

The one we want is waiting in the

wings, waiting his turn. He was

elected. Some cried that our votes

didn’t count. So many absentee

votes made a difference. It was

the lawless crowd we worried

about. No respect for other people,

no respect for our democratic

traditions. An old man in the

post office leered at me, came 

close. “How you doin’, honey.”

I kept going. I had packages 

to mail. This was not the Capitol

building in D.C. This was in the

village post office. When I’d

mailed my packages, he was

gone. The signs said to stand

six feet apart. He was not even

one foot from me. Gone when

I came out, yet, in reality,

how far away?


Sunday, January 3, 2021

Talking to Myself Fifty-Six

"First Snow" by Nikolai Smirnov. A Kostroma Region village farmhouse.

Talking to Myself Fifty-Six January 3, 2021

All around me: photos and paintings,

and a Finnish poster. My loved ones

take up wall space. I’ve been in this

room most of the time in most of last

year, staying safe from the virus that

kills. The poster over my desk is of

glacier-cut Finnish islands, a jigsaw

of forests in an impossibly blue sea

over my desk where reside printer,

fax, and scanner, and my Bach records.

To the right the wall holds Rumyantsev

forests, an abandoned village against

a golden fall. To the left, Nikolai Smirnov’s

roads, his mother’s village and her

small figure. Also Lyuba’s image of

her sister Vera emerging from the

forest like a modern Demeter. Then

that sister’s painting of the Krukov

Canal. Above the computer table, 

the face of Esenin--such sad eyes.. He

was forced to kill himself, his last

poem written in blood. Beside him

Vera’s flowers, and below Nikolai’s

rendering of the Kostroma city

center, and still lower, the Ipatievsky

Monastery from across the Kostroma

River. Behind the computer on a 

shelf, the Virgin’s Annunciation by

Lyuba, and my twin grandchildren,

and my friend Jaki and me. The back

wall has a long one of a village field

of dandelions, the coming of spring

with cranes flying. I thought it was

fall before I had my cataract surgery.

Aleksei’s forests and Nadya’s pink

landscapes, the ruins of Goncharov’s

home, and the enlarged flower by Doc

Ellen–all above the chest freezer where

I store my bread flours and keep all 

my published books on top, and 

a photo of me in my father’s arms

at age two. The back door holds old

Christmas cards, and the wall beside

it, two paintings by Roman Smirnov

of water and trees. Behind me, Smirnov’s 

village farmhouse, the Golden Autumn

giving way to the First Snow. Farther away

my son Tim’s memories of New Mexico,

and Julia’s colors, which I chose that go with

Tim’s. Also, from a magazine, Botticelli’s

 Arrival of Spring after Winter’s Deadlock.

May it arrive soon.