Wednesday, July 31, 2013


This is the third week in a row for fennel in the CSA box.  Fennel is a new experience for me.  I*m a convert.  In addition to the delicate licorice flavor, it looks a bit like a small person with hair.  If it arrives in the box next week, I will do a fennel skit with it before dinner.  Fennel is a versatile vegetable.  I*m a fan.

I am rather fond
Of the feathery fennel
I find every week

Not the fronds so much
But the very fine timbre
Of crunch, then anise

Floods – no – flows - no -faint
Whispers licorice hidden
In salad: surprise!

Taking turns

I did think about going into the office today.  It seems the better part to allow the cardinal to sing the day into fullness outside.  I may take my turn tomorrow or the next day.

I hear the bird outside the front door.
The cardinal
Will need to take this day,
Sing it into fullness,
Take its turn.
Keep it up.
That crested cardinal carries
So much more music
Than the 3 and 4 AM
I take a break
With my summer cold
I may offer such joy
Or perhaps the day after.
Perhaps then
I may offer such joy
In fullness
Take my turn.
Keep it up.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Are you a good witch or a bad witch?  Oh... but I*m not a witch at all.   

When I grew up we had a black and white TV.   Because of this, while I imagined the Emerald City to be green, and the ruby slippers to be red, I never knew that Glinda, the good witch, wore pink.  On a black and white TV,  It looked like she was dressed in white.  It wasn*t until I was in seminary, in my mid-twenties, that I saw the Wizard of Oz in color.  Amazing.  Who knew?  Glinda wore PINK.  It seemed... well... wrong, somehow.

This, I think, is my fifth witch reflection.  The new supervisor, the supervisor who will not be my supervisor, wore dark pink yesterday.  She was most clearly a good witch.  Or perhaps she was not a witch at all.

She must have chosen
Her sparkle shoes
To wear yesterday morning.
I admit I did not see
Her feet,
But she did arrive
In a dark pink blouse,
And the wind
Ok the breeze
Was clearly warmer,
Out of the south.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mom thing

Today I do the mom thing.
I make sure all the pills
Have been taken,
Breakfast consumed,
Socks matched.
I lock the door
Behind them
As they leave.
Today I do the mom thing,
Change the water
In the cat*s bowl.
I realize I myself
Need to shower and dress,
In that order
Oh yes
Take the morning pill,
Eat breakfast,
Match my socks
Before the scheduled afternoon meeting
With the woman
Who might be witch.
I wonder if her socks
Will match.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Accomplishment enough

This has been a summer of arriving late to church on a fairly regular basis.  We usually arrive before the Gospel, which I read somewhere makes the service count.  Of course this means we sit in the back under the choir loft.  Today we actually arrived in time to hear the opening sentence before taking our seat.  

We arrived in time
To hear the opening sentence
From the back;
Slipped in the pew
Second from the front
Before the procession
was halfway down the aisle.
Sometimes such things
Count as accomplishment enough
On a chilly July day:
Three people out the door
In enough time
To hear the opening sentence.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Talking with the witch

Usually I let unrecognized numbers go to voice mail.  Yesterday I didn*t.  I answered the phone from my comfy chair.  The witch and I had a regular professional conversation.  All night I dreamed regular conversations with people I rarely talk with anymore.  This is witch reflection number three.  I have moved through dropping a house on her, dissolving her in water, to a civil professional conversation.  This bodes well for Monday.

Sitting in my cozy chair
On a Friday off,
I answer the phone.
I forget the witch
Has my number.
She has decided to counsel
A client I will leave.
She will meet him
On Monday,
Begin to see him
The week after I am gone.
I sit in the blue recliner
This Saturday morning.
I woke all night
In the midst of regular conversations
With people
I never talk to
In the daylight yesterday
I talked with the witch.
I forgot
She had my number.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Six things before breakfast

Social media provides so much information about ... well ... so much.  Already this morning I have learned about the black bear in Estes Park, Colorado who has learned to open doors and walk into local businesses. The fun fact about coffee beans and civet poop does make me wonder whoever thought to do this in the first place.  This makes me wonder about whoever decided raw oysters were a food item.  Which makes me wonder... well ... a lot of things.  Time for breakfast with real breakfast food (cereal with skim milk, and, of course, coffee).

A bear walks into a bar
In Colorado,
A black bear.
This is perhaps the start
Of a great joke.
Better even than
A bear walks into
A candy store.

The most expensive coffee
In the world
Is made from coffee beans
Found in civet poop.

I think I shall eat breakfast
Before I find out
Four more things.
My brain
Is full.
My stomach

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I grew up watching M.A.S.H.  I wish I remembered who told me I reminded him (I think it was him) of Father Mulcahy.  I think of all those exercises which ask participants to name their hero or heroine.  I have never been good at those exercises.  Likewise I can never figure out what animal I am like.  But somehow that one compliment resonates with me.  Even though I cannot remember who said it.

Years ago I was told
By someone,
I no longer remember who;
Years ago I was told
By someone
Whose opinion
I must have held in high esteem;
I was told
I reminded him
Of Father Mulcahy
From M.A.S.H.
I think this was the best compliment
I have ever received
Bar none.
Years ago someone,
I wish I remember who,
Someone told me
He saw me

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Add water

More Wizard of Oz (see yesterday*s reflection).  I am still considering melting the new supervisor with a bucket of water.  I imagine by Monday I will be able to wish her well.  This week I count the people I will miss and spend some good time with them.  Next Monday I will not carry water with me.

The new supervisor
(Not mine)
Says she knows everything.
She believes that an intern
And a volunteer counselor
Are exactly
The same thing.
Since I no longer count hours;
Since next Monday
Is my final day
As a volunteer,
I count the people
I will miss.
I count my way
To a good ending,
One conversation
At a time.
After I metaphorically
Drop a house
On the new supervisor,
In my head,
Mind you,
I consider buckets of water
And then
Only then
I wish her well:
Out loud.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Drop a house

This morning I am grateful for the Wizard of Oz and all its useful metaphors.  It is rivaled by Alice in Wonderland and, of course, the Bible.  Not that I would ever label anyone a witch... not me... but there is something cathartic about picturing a house whirling out of the sky and nailing a witch-like person.

It is Tuesday morning.
Already I have a list of people
On whom
I would like
To drop a house.
I take entirely too much pleasure
In the metaphor.
I know this.
It is only Tuesday.
The week has barely begun.
I line up people
Consider the houses
I would drop,
Picture the ankles with striped socks

Monday, July 22, 2013


Two more weeks at the Clinic.  It is time to leave.  It is really time ... to leave.  Not the Clinic, exactly, but the mental health system there.  Not the people, exactly, but rather, the system.   This morning brought one more complication.  Heal yourself! I say to the system in place:  Heal yourself!  

Now is the time
To simplify.
My life experiences
Do not fit
On any one piece of paper
Or even
In a book.
Now is the time
To simplify,
To drop experiences
Like bread crumbs
Through the forest
So they may feed the birds
A whole grain diet.
Now is the time
To simplify,
To do what needs to be done
Not bother
With the catalog.
Now is the time
To feed the birds,
To simplify,
To simplify.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Behind the scenes

I am sitting in my office underneath the nave during the main Sunday service.  My door is open so I can see what goes on behind the scenes.  I think I will do this again.  There is a lot that happens backstage.

Behind the scenes
And underneath,
I sit in my office.
I am available
For whoever walks by
While my husband and daughter
Share nursery duty.
My door is open.
I am
Behind the scenes
And underneath.
I hear the service
Through the downstairs speaker,
Watch the last minute acolyte
Robe up.
She will sneak in
From the side.
Behind the scenes
And underneath,
I attended the early service
I am available for all comers

Saturday, July 20, 2013


I attended another workshop yesterday.  It was a good review.  I could have taught it myself.  But I did re-connect with someone I haven*t seen in a few years.  I thought: It could be I am here for this connection, somehow.  The resume itself, its catalog of accomplishments and experiences, now feels like one of those historical documents in the back of the Prayer Book.

I wake up laughing.
I have tailored my resume
To appeal
To many different sectors.
I have done
More training
Than I can ever use
In a lifetime.
Now is the time
To begin.  
I laugh as I re-read
My resume.
I have no one left
To give it to.
In fact
I don*t believe
I need one anymore.
I will keep it
For posterity.
I will do
What seems right.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Promise of iris

Iris is a spring flower.  I often buy them in April.  In this hot steamy weather I had to buy them, even now in July.  They are in the black olive vase, on the dining room sideboard, surrounded by baby*s breath.

I purchased
The promise of iris
In July:
Two bunches of purple iris:
One pale,
One deep,
Both barely unfurled;
One bunch of baby*s breath
In honor of yesterday*s dream.
The iris shows some promise
The breath holds the space
Between the promise.
July is not the month
For iris.
I was surprised to see them
For sale.
I will coax them along
For another couple days,
Trim their stems,
Add new water.
The promise of iris
In July
Is always one
Worth honoring.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Therapy is worth every penny.

Last night I dreamed
I delivered a baby
In the exact fifty minute
Therapeutic  hour.
We did not have much time
For talking.
I was busy
Having that baby.
She was a beautiful newborn
In that wrinkly way
Newborns have.
The rest of the requisite fifty minutes
Maybe it took fifty five minutes,
Considering the clean-up,
The rest of the time
We spent finding something
To wrap the baby in
So I could walk with her
Through the waiting room
To all the oohs and ahs
Of the gathered assembly,
Those who waited
For their therapeutic hour
Of delivery.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Crooked tree

I consider what it means to return to my roots. As I leave one place, I invest more fully in another.  

Outside my office window
There stands a crooked tree,
A pine of some sort.
It holds its needles
Through the winter.
On different days
This tree
Tells me different things.
Yesterday the homeless man
I have come to think of
As Jesus
Sat on the bench
Underneath my crooked tree.
He drew
What he saw.
I did not know he was around
This year.
I guess Jesus
Never leaves.
Today the bench is empty.
My crooked tree reminds me
Of roots
I all too often

Jungle Gymnastics

It is another hot muggy day.  I sit in the air conditioning.  Outside the morning activity in the back yard picks up.  I think I will take the turtle for a spin in the warm today.  He loves weather like this.

The entire back yard
Has morphed
Into jungle gymnastics.
One squirrel has found a stick.
It amuses him entirely.
He throws it in the air
And catches it.
Another squirrel
Lures him away.
They leap and chase up one tree
Down another,
Back to the stick.
A chipmunk has found
The perfect rock
To survey his tiny world
In the sun
With chipmunk eyes.
Yesterday a bunny rabbit
Claimed the middle of the lawn
As his,
Chewed grass,
Cleaned his ears with his front paws
Almost exactly
Like the cat.
In the obstacle course
That is my back yard
The animals are amused.
Sometimes at night
We hear raccoons scream,
Or even catch an opossum waddle
On its tiny possum feet.
He bares his teeth
If he sees us.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


We have a love/hate relationship with the mulberry tree next to the driveway.

We left one car
In the driveway
Under the mulberry tree,
Drove the other one
To Minnesota.
Home again
We consider
Mulberry jam.
Home again
We consider
Cutting down the tree.
Home again
We sit in air-conditioned comfort
Pretend the mulberries
Are not fermenting
On the car still parked
Under the mulberry tree.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Comfortable places

Ready to go home to the cat.  We will drive past the orange moose in Black River Falls.  There is comfort in familiar things.

Back in my comfort spot
Away from home.
Writing again.
Soon we will return
By way of the orange moose.
He will wave us past
With his antlers.
Moose are like that.
Certain landmarks
Are vital to existence.
To me adventure feels best
When it sets off
From comfortable places.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Consider the day

We are staying in the same motel this year as we did last year and the ten years before that.  I hold these hours precious.  The time together and the time apart.  One sleeps in upstairs, one is writing emails, another sleeps in across town.  Me?  I find a comfy leatherette lounge chair across from the sign-in desk.

I sit in familiar space.
Breakfast is just as it was
Last year
And the year before that.
The daughter sleeps in
Do Not Disturb.
This year it reads
Quiet Please.
I have even found
A comfy lounge chair
In the lobby.
Here I write.
We do not have to be anywhere
Until this afternoon.
I breathe in and out,
Consider the day.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

And so it is

Feeling existential today.

And so
It is.
Pieces land,
Settle back into the picture
That is me:
The jigsaw
The tapestry
The mosaic
That is me.
Home again
Home again
They say,        
With a sigh,
It is good to travel
They say
Good to see and experience
New spaces.
It is all,
All of it,
That was,
After all is said and done,
The Promise
From the Very Beginning.
And so it is

Friday, July 12, 2013


Maybe it really does take years.  I counsel clients about this all the time.  Why should it not refer to me as well?  I am making my list of what I can do now, and offering it up.

Maybe I needed a year
For every four or five years 
To recapture the pieces
That are really mine.
Maybe I needed these six years
Of school
Of trainings
Of seizures
Of sitting in the pew in front,
Now further back;
A year of serving
The Clinic;
Six months
At the Halfway House;
Six years scanning the horizon
For what is most likely buried
In my own back yard,
Under the crab apple.
Maybe I needed these six years
To determine the pieces
That fit.

Soon I set off

I wondered why I wasn*t looking forward to this experience.  It*s not the plastic chairs.  Last time I did this I had just started driving again.  Last time I did this every channel offered Sandy Hook.  I sat with a group of strangers having their cars fixed.  Time to gird my loins.

Soon I set off
To get the oil changed.
I will sit with everyone else
Who waits,
TV blaring.
The complicated snack machine.
The plastic covered chairs.
The people
All who wait.
Some will be bored,
Some will sit
With present eyes.

Last time I did this
I watched two hours
As Sandy Hook developed.
Then they came and told me
The car was ready
To go home.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Sometimes mysteries bring us together in... well... mysterious ways.

The daughter
Is at camp.
The cat
Is sound asleep
In the playroom.
My beloved and I
Are in the midst
Of two separate
Evening things
In two separate rooms.
We converge
In the hallway,
Survey the basement
Where the gas leak
From an old dryer hose
Awakened us at 4:30
That morning.
Nothing there.
We can*t figure it out.
We return to our places.
Number two.
We converge on the hallway
The cat joins us
This time.
We talk about birds
Hitting windows
But it is dark
Most birds have gone to bed.
A complete survey
Of the upstairs finally reveals
A downed shower curtain rod
In the daughter*s bathroom.
Mystery solved
This time
At least.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


We only read the gas company directions after the fact.  Do not turn on lights or use the phone.  Do not open doors or windows.  Stay outside.  We are inside with the doors open, smelling leftover skunk smell and a cat box that needs fresh litter.  We wait for Nicor to arrive.

We woke up at 4:30
To a faint smell of gas,
Turned on every light
In the house.
This is wrong.
We are still here.
Now we wait
For the gas company,
Doors open,
Noses attentive to every odor.
Skunks were busy outside
In the night.
The cat box
Needs fresh litter.
We no longer smell gas.
Still we wait,
Cat carrier ready.
My beloved will get the cat.
I am in charge
Of the carrier.
We are primed for adventure
At 6 in the morning.
We wait for adventure
At 6 A.M.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bee Balm

Yeah!  I knew there was a reason I let those vaguely familiar plants grow.  I originally thought they were successors to the Echinacea I planted three years ago.  Nope.  It seems the soil, that particular spot,  is perfect for bee balm, something I never planted to begin with.  Not my original idea, but perfect in its own right.  And the ID?  Thanks, Mom.

The plants
Were vaguely familiar
So I let them grow.
Secretly I hoped
For Echinacea
Purple coneflowers.
When they bloomed
They said
Look us up
It will be worth your while
To let us grow.
I knew I*d seen the flowers
Somewhere in my head
The word Monarda bloomed.
I think my mother has returned
To help the garden along.
She aids the burgeoning bee balm,
Gives it the proper Latin name
In my head
So I can look it up
On Google.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Familiar order

There is comfort to be found in familiar things.  Like a regular plain old summer thunderstorm coming on gradually and moving on gradually.  Best of all, my weather brain moves with it.  It seems from here I can move on to more adventurous things, with my toes anchored in the familiar.

Now this
Is like summer thunderstorms
The way I remember them.
Distant rumble,
Sky gradually darker,
The patter
Of gentle rain.
This is the progression
Of things
In familiar order.
I am at home
In my chair.
I will go to the Clinic
In an hour,
Like every Monday.
The storm
Will have moved on.
The rumble
At a different distance
Already grows fainter.
The sky becomes
Lighter and lighter.
Eventually the sun
Will appear.
This is the way
I remember.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Medium intentions

My daughter is going back to camp this afternoon.  Last night, we had every intention of going to church this morning.  This morning those intentions wavered in their intensity.  Laundry had its way with all of us.  The birds are singing.

I tried to get up
For church.
It could probably be said
I had
Medium intentions.
Nothing hot.
Nothing cold.
Pleasantly cool.
I thought to get up
But when my daughter
Had to dry her clothes
For camp instead,
It seemed better
To stay home and drink coffee,
Keep her company
In the living room
As her clothes dry,
The cat sleeps
In the sun.
I write this,
Pour myself another cup.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

We will stay where we have always stayed

I grew up in Minneapolis.  I have not lived there since high school.  When Mom moved into assisted living years ago and left the family home, my family always stayed at a particular motel in Golden Valley.  Truth be told, it is not an easy place to get to or from, but now, years later, the paths are well-worn.  We know the pool, the continental breakfast. No, it is not particularly close to my son, but it is familiar.  The paths are well-worn.  We can get anywhere from there and back.

We will stay
Where we always stayed
When Mom lived
In assisted living,
My sister lived
In St. Louis Park,
My brother lived
In St. Paul.
Now Mom lives
Nowhere visit-able
Or perhaps everywhere
My sister lives
In Santa Fe;
My son now lives
In Northeast Minneapolis;
My brother lives
In the same house on Laurel
In St. Paul.
We will stay
Where we have always stayed,
Even though my son
Will be the only one home.
We will stay
Where we have always stayed.
There is a small comfort
In knowing exactly
Where we will be.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Fifth of July

We live one town west of the famous 4th of July fireworks in Itasca.  It took our town forever to install weather sirens.  The idea was that we could hear the sirens from the communities around us, if we really needed to hear them.  Besides, they might go off in the middle of the night and wake people up.
We do have weather sirens now because a wonderful woman took on weather sirens as her cause.
Today we celebrate the Fourth of July a day late.  
I*m sure the fireworks will be spectacular as we celebrate our freedom on the Fifth.

My town*s fireworks
Are tonight.
It seems we got a deal.
We celebrate here
On the Fifth of July
Because everything is cheaper
The day after.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


I am on pastoral care duty this week.  It seems fitting that today is Independence Day as I consider we are all moving in that direction.  Today is the day of our release, or tomorrow, or even fifty years from now. We are all on our way.  We are all getting used to the idea.  The arms of God are wide open to catch us.

Today I reflect
On another sort.
As fireworks explode
In the distance;
As the gym is unusually full 
For a weekday;
As I stand next to the bed
Of a dying man,
I remember today
May be Independence Day
For any number of folk
Or maybe it will tomorrow
Or the next day even.
The man has already taken
A turn toward independence.
The fact of the Fourth of July
Is neither here
Nor there.
The man
Is already on his way.
He is getting used
To the idea.
The arms of God
Are wide open
This is independence
Of a different sort
But Independence
All the same.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Late rhubarb

Often I don*t get to the rhubarb harvest until after the flower stalks have grown.  This is late.  Way late.  No flower stalks yet.  It is already July 3rd.  Tomorrow is the 4th and friends are planning their barbecues.  It is cold in the house, and I am sitting under a blanket as I write this.  It is difficult to plan a holiday when the weather won*t comply, when circumstances conspire to quash celebration.

I am late to harvest the rhubarb.
It has grown thick,
Red and green,
In the remains
Of the garden bed.
When people ask
What I*m doing
For the holiday,
I think about the rhubarb,
The weeds that need
To be pulled,
The grapevine taking over
The crab apple
I think about being on call
For pastoral care
During the fireworks,
My daughter home from camp
Friday night.
It is chilly today
Overcast gray
The rhubarb awaits.
The corn in the fields
Is not knee high
This Fourth of July.
I am hopeful for sweet corn
Come August.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Is this normal?

It has been awhile since I*ve made a hospital visit.  It came back natural as breathing.

The grapevine winds its way up
The crab apple
In the backyard.
It did the same thing
Last year.
Most likely
It will do the same thing
Next year.
I will cut it down.
I expect the vine to do the same thing
Next year.
Everything comes
Everyone comes
With his own particular way
With her own particular way
Of being
Of living
Of dying.
Is this normal?
They ask me
In the hospital
As we wait and watch
For death and life
And in between.
Is this normal?
I tell them about my son
Never learning to crawl.
Before he could walk
He rolled everywhere.
It was normal for him.
Now at 26
He walks
Even rides his bicycle
Is this normal?
They ask.
I say
I think it is.

Monday, July 1, 2013


What do a priest and a political scientist discuss over coffee on a Monday morning?  It seems Justice Kennedy used the Fifth Amendment as his support for striking down DOMA.  Constitutional theorists were expecting him to use the Fourteenth.  Who knew?

It seems there is more
To the Fifth Amendment
Than a reason
In court
Not to incriminate