Sunday, August 31, 2014

Brick feature wall

We double-crossed our fingers in the car so she might get the single bed and not have to share a bunk. She determined it was not a good thing to pray for, but crossing fingers was o.k.  She got the bed, the smallest closet and the brick feature wall which is part of the prize.  Breakfast together tomorrow, then we take the scenic route home via the Sandhill trail in Nebraska.

The dorm room
Is set up.
My daughter drew
The drawn slip of paper
Netted her the single raised bed,
The desk without shelves,
The smallest closet.
Has the brick feature wall
For the room.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Preparing to go

Ah lethargy.  The daughter is printing pictures on photo paper.  My beloved reads baseball scores.  The cat sleeps on the dining room table.  Me?  I am writing this... dressed and showered and packed. Ready, yet not quite ready, really... not quite ready... to go.

The cat
On the dining room table,
A place he is never allowed,
Almost never.
We have not agreed
What time we will leave,
Each of us
In various stages
Of readiness.
Even the turtle
Has barely made it
Out of his log house.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Kindergarten Wall 
Here it is.

It is difficult to know
What to write today.
Less than 24 hours now.
The cat is sound asleep
On her hair supplies
In the middle
Of the living room floor.
The daughter
Is out to breakfast
With friends.
Yesterday she listened
To John McCutcheon
The Kindergarten Wall
Over and over
At home,
In the car.
We sang the chorus together
On our way
To pick up one last thing
From Marshall’s.
Less than 24 hours now.
The cat is now asleep
Next to the bins
Which will go under her bed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I get the car

In the name of paying attention to the particulars, I have now put a hold on our mail and stopped the newspaper.  Today is the therapist, negotiations, vegetables and maps.  I get the car!

First off today
Was the rehearsal
Of how I am doing
With the leaving,
With the individuating,
With the connecting
In different ways.
Now comes the negotiation
Of who gets the car,
Then the haircut,
The vegetable pick-up,
And the trip
To Triple A
For maps of Iowa
And Colorado.
I get the car.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Conveniently free

Last night I made arrangements with the cat and turtle person down the block.  This morning I drink coffee and write.  I notice the growing pile in the living room.  I tend to the tattoo on my left foot.  My beloved and daughter still sleep, upstairs. 

This week the mornings
Are conveniently free
So I can sit
Drink more coffee
Than I really need.  
This week I notice
The buds on the lily
Are goners,
But still the full flowers
Hold their own.
The living room
Begins to fill
With dorm room
The cat sleeps
On her pile of shoes,
Head propped on a heel
Just so.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Four days.  As of now, we pack the rental van on Thursday afternoon, leave Friday morning.  Two clients for me this week.  One session of my own.  Therapy is a good thing for everyone.

We are
A few days
From leaving.
She plans a stopover
To see friends,
Now in Iowa City,
Along the way.
When we say
This may mean leaving
A day earlier
She says
Her mind is set
On leaving Friday.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


The daughter is having breakfast downtown in Logan Square.  We are having breakfast here at home.  I carefully clean my tattoo, apply the thin layer of recommended lotion, pour another cup of coffee.

We practice Sunday morning
Without her.
She left for breakfast
We slept in.
Now we contemplate
One more cup of coffee,
Consider next Sunday
In Colorado,
But first
More comings and goings.
For now we practice
Sunday morning
Without her.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Oh Bother

It was a good workshop.  I reconnected with people I have not seen for awhile.  I met some new ones.  I learned the difference between mindfulness and grounding.  I came away with at least six more things to read and research.  Then came the question at the end.

What are two things
You’ll apply from this workshop
When you return to work
On Monday?
I got stuck:
On the two things,
On returning to work,
Stuck even
On Monday.
Other than these
Minor things
I recognized
It had the bones
Of a good question.
Other people in the room
Dutifully answered.
I sat stuck on
Two things:
I had only one
Or possibly ten or twenty;
On returning to work:
My work never stops
On Monday:
Most often a day of rest
For me.
Other than these
Minor things,
It was a good question.
Like so many times before,
My answer did not fit
The question’s specifics.
So often I find this:
My answers quickly move
Beyond the specific question.
Oh Bother
To quote Winnie the Pooh.
Oh Bother.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Flash floods

The flash floods must be somewhere else.  Maybe I will find them on the way to the workshop I will attend today.  Just to be sure, I plan to drive the high roads.  

At 4 AM
The warning signal
On the phone
Announced flash floods
Until 8:30 AM.
In the sun
Of 7:45
The only sign
Of excess water
Hangs on the windows,
The cold inside
Pairs with the humidity
They dance together.
We can see little else
Through the glass
Just the possibility
Of flash floods
For the next minutes,
The sun through rivulets
Running down the pane.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


True confessions.

I have hidden
Behind Mary Oliver;
To the side
Of Barbara Brown Taylor;
In the wake
Of so many women
(forget the men, for now)
(sorry, men)
(apology flows through
My Minnesota veins)
I have clung
To the hem of particular garments
When in truth
They are clothes
I could never wear.
I have even walked
In certain shoes,
They pinched my toes
Threw me off balance,
When really
I have always craved
Comfortable shoes.
I own six pair
Of the same
Comfortable shoes,
Different colors,
In the closet,
As well as pink plaid flats
For fun.
I carry a lapis wallet
For that pop of color.
It matches nothing
I own.


Feeling nostalgic and hopeful and still glad to have another week watching the coming and going before the drive to Colorado.

Next to the gold tassel,
The graduation gown
Folded neatly
On the front table,
The glass vase holds
The stem of lilies:
Two white flowers
On their way out;
Two bloomed overnight,
Two buds still                                
On that same stem,
Their future
Remains unknown.
Baby’s breath pillows
The entire arrangement.
Baby’s breath always
Looks the same
Fresh or dry
Like the pictures
on the family room wall,
Moments captured
In time.
The lilies hold life
Not captured
But released
Into time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pop of color

Yes, I bought it.  I now have a pop of color for every outfit.

She is good
At what she does:
The resale shop lady.
My daughter finds a wallet
In an unlikely
Shade of blue,
It has a spot for everything
And then some
It is a color
That matches nothing
I own.
She is good
At what she does:
The resale shop lady.
There’s something about
A pop of color
She says
It brightens up
Any outfit.
Oh, you’re good
I say
You’re good.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

So many ways

I see your Facebook posts, Elizabeth Molitors and Laurie Vanderlei.  Flank steak and matching roommate pillows.  I can't compete.  IKEA makes me dizzy.  Deviled eggs and potato salad are more my speed. Macaroni and cheese later this week.

So many ways
To launch a child:
Pack a van
Cook a favorite meal
Look at all the possibilities,
“For-real” dizzying
For this mom.
Dad gets
The next IKEA trip.
I have made deviled eggs
Potato salad
Beets with feta cheese
For dinner.
So many more meals
To come.
Macaroni and cheese
Comes next.
So many ways
To launch a young woman
Cook a meal
Sit in the living room
Watch the comings
And goings
So many ways.

Monday, August 18, 2014

One step at a time

Yep.  Soon she goes.  Every conversation feels deep and meaningful. Time is going faster than I remember. It's the kairos and chronos time distinction.  We are solidly in kairos now.

One step at a time
Even though we all
Would rather leap
To the ending
Or at least the middle.
One step at a time
To learn
What must be learned,
Incorporate it
Into all the steps
Made before,
All the steps
Yet to come.
One step at a time
Even this time
When so much is crammed
Into every moment,
Even more important
To recognize each step
As it comes.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


There are several ways to send your last child away to college.  This week we decide on the font for our matching tattoos.

Today or tomorrow
We choose the font
For the tattoo.
Nothing script-y
Nothing scroll-y
Something that will look good
On 18
And 59 year old skin
Location has yet
To be determined.
I figure
We have all week.
The tattoo guy
Says it won’t take
Much time.
Of course time
Is relative.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Countdown

I have determined to pay attention to every possible minute.  The daughter is upstairs getting ready to go kayaking with her boyfriend's family.  Next Saturday, to my beloved's horror, she and I will get matching tattoos.  Who knows what will happen this week of all weeks, and next week of all weeks.  Then the drive.  The countdown continues.

The countdown continues.
May be the most human thing
We do:
The number of times
We said
Or even thought
I love you;
The number
Of joint pedicures;
The trading back and forth
Of whose choice
To pick where lunch
Will be consumed
No, after you,
After You.
The winning
The losing
The realization that nothing
Is ever really lost
In the whole scheme
Of things.
The countdown continues.
The Days
The Hours
The Minutes.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Lasts, The Firsts, The In-Betweens

My daughter's friends are trickling off to college.  We begin the drive in exactly two weeks.  A two day road trip each way.  Lots of firsts and lasts and in-betweens.

We are moving
Through “The Lasts”
Only of course
They are also
“The Firsts”
And even
“The In-Betweens”
Last night
My daughter
My beloved
Spent a night on the town.
I stayed home
Watched TV
Home improvement shows
Criminal Minds.
I opened the doors
To the backyard,
Listened to
Night noises.
This morning I got up
Before the creatures of the night
My daughter
My beloved.
I opened the doors,
Listened to blue jays,
Pondered the two
Sound asleep
Whether this is part of
The Lasts
The Firsts
Or even
The In-Betweens
To be experienced.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


I remember saying to my therapist: Oh, I can't be depressed... I have anxiety, He said It's possible to have both.  hmm.

With Robin Williams throwing the spotlight once again on depression and suicide, and the whole world commenting on whether he died from an illness like cancer, or didn't choose to stay alive, or some subset of the spectrum... I think about last winter, in particular.  Remember last winter, the winter that wouldn't end?  I do.  While I cannot say my bottom was like Robin's, or like the bottom of any number of people I know, I have had a taste of what it's like.  And I know no one's bottom compares to someone else's bottom.

The bottom I hit
Last winter
Was nothing like
The bottoms I witness
In so many
It was low enough
Even almost
Or maybe
Under water
Where the phosphorescent fish
Only blinking
The bottom I hit was
Not like so many bottoms
I have witnessed
But still low enough
To know
I prefer not to live there
And will do anything
I can
To emerge to the place
Where light
Is more a constant thing
Not only occasionally

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I see this as cramming one more thing into an already tight, emotional, schedule.  He sees a celebration worth the time and effort.  This may not be the battle in which to invest my energy.  Sometimes... it is important... to go with the flow.

This may not be
A battle worth winning.
After all… some aren’t.

First leg

Yep, she's leaving soon.  All the pieces are being accumulated at home.  Will they fit in the car or do we need to rent a van?  We will accompany her to Colorado.  We will not be the same on the return trip.  But first comes the trip west.

As I contemplate
The trip to Colorado
Two weeks hence
I consider the changes
Facing me
On the return drive
Back through the fields
Of Nebraska,
Of Iowa,
Then back
To the western suburbs
Of Illinois.
I contemplate the changes
I will find.
But first,
First comes the trip
From the western suburbs
Through Iowa,
Then Nebraska,
And finally Colorado,
That first leg
Of the journey.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


It's funny.  This could apply to any number of things.  Today it applies to the news that Robin Williams committed suicide.  It's not so funny.  We are a people who forget such things as soon as the cold news melts.  It does seem as though there is a teaching/learning moment here re: depression/addiction/suicide. A teaching/learning moment which lasts until it melts.  

Once more the flurry
Of news beyond news until
This still cold news melts.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Waiting for sun

We are all creatures of habit.  The cat knows the spots the sun usually hangs out.  So he waits.

The cat sits in the spot
Next to the front window,
The spot the sun would shine
If today was sunny.
He slits his eyes
Hoping for sun,
His paws curled under.
It is time
For the morning nap
In the sun.
He sleeps
While he waits.
Cloud-covered daylight
Will have to be enough
This morning.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

More elderberries

Worth noting.

Journal entry, August 9, 1854
"To Boston. 'Walden' published. Elder-berries. Waxwork yellowing."
                                                                Henry David Thoreau

One hundred sixty years ago
Came on the scene.
A man of few words:
Henry David Thoreau.
A man
After my heart.
My elderberries
Have long since
Gone to the birds.
His elderberries
Were worth noting,
Next to Walden
And of course
A trip to Boston.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Amazing the things we do when we finally feel settled.

Over the last few weeks
I have settled in
To where I am.
By this I mean
I am content
To live
Where I live,
Even to move some backyard
Lawn sculpture
To the front patch,
The place we meant to plant
Perhaps next year.
This year
I will move the frog
Created from old tractor parts
To the front patch.
The frog is our version
The lawn gnome
The mirror ball
Mother Mary on the half shell.
I will move the frog
To the front.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Back to driving and NPR.

Links in the chain.
I am back to driving.
I realize I only listen to NPR
When I drive.
When I was being driven
By my beloved
We talked.
When I was being driven
By my daughter
Music prevailed.
Links in the chain.
Now that I can drive again,
I am more connected
To the world at large
Through NPR.
I know.
I could have listened
At home
But at home silence
And the birds
Ran the day.
I had more respite
This summer
Than ever before.
And now,
It seems it’s time
For driving
Once again.
Links in the chain.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Sometimes even an interview is involved, during which I discover Not this one, either.  What an odd hobby. Still I wonder whether the right thing is out there somewhere, or in here somewhere.  It seems the jobs I apply for now are getting closer.  It seems the conversations I am having are getting closer... to something.  Still.  What an odd hobby.

My hobby these days
Is applying for jobs I
Surely will not get.

Monday, August 4, 2014


I am sitting here under the soft blue blanket.  I consider what connections I may make today, knowing full well there will be many unplanned encounters.  Today has already brought delightful conversations with the phlebotomist, the pharmacist, a barista, and even the cat.  I consider what connections I may plan today, never knowing exactly what the outcome will be.  It remains to be experienced... all of it.

It’s all about connections:
The ones we choose to make;
The ones that catch us unawares;
The ones that trip us up
In front of Starbucks;
The ones that wait
For the dead of night
Only to come to light
In the soft silver gray
Of dawn.
Connections that grow
With sunlight,
Grow when watered;
With no known meaning
In this time and place,
Only to offer their possibility
So much later.
And sometimes
Never at all.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Biggest difficulty

I had a series of dreams last night.  Interspersed were periods of wakefulness during which I worried about how I would drink my coffee this morning.  Yes, really.  I awakened to find the Sunday story from  A reflection on the broken pieces.  Somehow just what I needed to hear.

The biggest difficulty
This morning
Is a lack of milk or cream
For my coffee.
So I eat yogurt
In tandem
With sips of coffee.
Now I will go to church
To hear about                    
The feeding of the five thousand,
The twelve baskets
Of broken pieces
Left over.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Eight acres

This is for the Vicar of Bolingbrook  Thank you, Heidi.  Have a splendid time exploring and experiencing things on your sabbatical.  Goat cheese is not my thing, but I am particularly attached to my backyard, and a particular pair of blue jays who returned this year.  Thank you for reminders of what is important.

Years ago
We bought eight acres
Mostly hill
With a babbling stream
8 acres in Wisconsin.
We would build
Or camp there.
We have seen the land
Maybe three times.
It is just outside
Of Patch Grove,
Down the road
From Boscobel,
Site of the top security prison.
Last year I found
A first cousin, once removed.
She lives in Albuquerque,
Summers on a farm
In southwest Wisconsin
Near that eight acres
In Boscobel.
We should meet there
She said
We should meet
Perhaps in Boscobel
At the A&W.

Friday, August 1, 2014

48 hours

Whatever will you do? they ask me.  No problem here.

It’s me and the cat
The turtle and the blue jays
Two cars in the driveway
At least 48 hours to do
Whatever the heck I want
The gift of time alone
Silence if I wish or
Whatever music beckons
An ear
A possible haircut
My tastes are simple
Me and the cat
The turtle and the blue jays
Two cars
48 hours.