Thursday, December 31, 2015


Amazing the things that are found when one memory is unpacked. Unpack one today and see what comes.

My daughter thinks
She will make applesauce today.
I remember the Foley food mill:
All those apples
That made their way
Through it,
The finished product
With whipped cream
And a sprinkle
Of nutmeg
On top.
Of course back then
It seemed Macintosh
Was the order of the day,
No fancy apples;
Back then when the eggman
Delivered eggs
From the trunk of his car,
And corn
When it was in season.
I don’t remember
Who delivered the apples.
I do remember
The Foley food mill
Being allowed to make applesauce,
Then the pleasure,
Whipped cream and nutmeg
On top
The mixing it all together
Before the first spoonful.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fifteen binders

Somehow it seems wrong to title any of my reflections. Someone may be predisposed to not take from them what they need to read. Take what you need. Release what you don't. May your life be filled with more than fifteen binders. May you not save those binders, but instead, fill your own, and then... give them away.

I have fifteen zippered binders
Of reflections,
Each in its own
Plastic page.
Then there’s the blog,
Some of which are in
The binders.
Most are not.
I tell my daughter
She may decide what to do
With anything I leave behind,
Even the reflections.
They’re all on the blog
She says.
Oh no they’re not,
I say.
What do we leave behind us?
What do we leave?
Everything encased.
Everything left.
Fifteen binders
Filled with life.
Everything does not fit
On a blog.
I know that.
I know.
Everyone has way more
Than fifteen binders
Full of life.
There is no vault
To save it all.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


The kitten prowls in search of grandfather cat, hiding on the speaker box. The house smells of lavender. Me... I am here. It is not as simple as it looks.

The house smells of lavender.
The kitten sits
On the tweed reindeer.
I read poetry
Of being here,
Simply here.
I think
If it only were
So simple.
Day five of Christmas
The wise folk are on their way
Wise folk
Me in a chair
With directions
On what I need to do
Until Florida next week.
Tweed reindeer
The cats play chase
Around the Christmas tree
I am here
Here I am.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ice day

May make it to the grocery store... eventually. Not even a day for walkers, such as me.

We may not go out today.
The daughter made it to Elmhurst,
Says she may come home.
We will spread salt
On the walk,
Food for the birds
In back.
The duck lady has launched her corn
Across the way.
I wonder if ducks slip
On ice.
We are home with the tree,
The cats,
The turtle.
Today is an ice day.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

How lovely is this?

So...the day after Christmas, with the nativity on the front table, the wise men waiting to arrive, the tree decorated. the presents opened... the day after Christmas she calls and tells me the Second Coming is now. How lovely is this.

How lovely is this:
A call from a friend
Who says
The Second Coming is here.
Do I feel the difference?
Do I see him?
I hold my cup of hot coffee
In the dinosaur mug,
Warm in my hands,
Watch the duck lady.
She waits for snow
To feed the ducks,
Checks her corn supply
Every morning.
Jesus has come again,
Duck Lady.
He is already here.
Jesus is here.
How lovely is this?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

More tree

The floor is strewn with ornaments, even though we mostly decorated the top of the tree. The cats each have their separate love of the Christmas tree. Grandfather cat loves the assembling, with everyone on the floor, unfolding branches. The kitten waits until everything is completely assembled.

Our tree shakes.
A kitten face appears
Among the ornaments
Next to the star 
On top.
I can almost see
The kitten disappear.
The smile remains.

Friday, December 25, 2015

It is the tree

For cats, Christmas is the tree.

The kitten has only climbed
The Christmas tree
She spends today
Freaked out
Occasionally attacking
Grandfather cat
Under the tree.
Christmas for cats
Does not include
The Nativity
Or stars,
The wise people
On their way.
It is the tree
The outdoors brought in.
The tree.
The tree.
For cats,
It is the tree.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

In memory

Remembering Dad. Yes, Lane, I know a collection of squirrels is not an army, but a scurry. Still army seems more appropriate somehow.

It is Christmas Eve day.
It looks like spring.
I don’t have to worry.
The only decorations
Are nuts in a glass vase,
A reindeer on top,
The Christmas bell
On the door handle.
Christmas will come
No matter
The Whos from Whoville
Are nowhere to be seen;
I did not listen
To Lessons and Carols
From England.
The pumpkins from Halloween
Fed an army of squirrels.
The remains went out
With the trash.
It is Christmas Eve Day.
In honor of my father
Who died 19 years ago today,
Who always shopped for Christmas
On Christmas Eve,
In memory of him
We consider Christmas

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


One thing at a time... I tell my clients. One thing at a time... I tell myself.

I thought I’d written today
Then realized
That was yesterday.
The grief has begun its way
Into my head.
There it is.
I thought I’d escaped it.
Oh bother
I think
Like Winnie the Pooh
Even like Eeyore.
This timing is unfortunate.
The garbage and recycling trucks
Make their way through the neighborhood.
The cats on opposite chairs
Glare at each other.
So far I have decorated
By hanging a cowbell on the front door,
Filled a large glass vase
With nuts
Even perched a reindeer
On top.
That’s it.
I thought I’d written.
Now I have.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Good reasons all

Tis the season for oh so many things.

This is the time of year
People cancel
And add sessions:
Good reasons all.
I do the same.
These days I try
To think ahead.
When I can’t get there,
I don’t go.
I practice doing other things.
There are books to be read,
Poems to be written
Always prayers
They do not require place or posture
Sometimes I remember things
Long forgotten
I cancel and add at will
Sometimes at whim.
Good reasons all.

Monday, December 21, 2015


Waiting for simpler things.

Complexity grows
This time of year.
We wait for the Baby.
We wait for snow.
We wait for light.
We wait for family to arrive,
However they come.
We wait for them
To leave.
Complexity grows
With all we have added,
Nativity pageants are larger
Than anything
We’ve ever seen.
Everything demands
A crowd.
I yearn
For Silent Night
Sung with simple guitar accompaniment
Followed by moon and stars
Maybe some snow.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Epiphany tableau

I love how the story is retold year by year.

I remember the church:
It held an Epiphany tableau
Instead of a Christmas pageant.
Instead of three kings
It offered Native American dancers
Down the aisle.
People left many things
At the manger.
One family left the church
For something “more formal”
As if
Nativity pageants ever offer
The way it probably was,
As if the pageant
Or tableau is not rewritten
Every year
No matter where it is.
My favorite is still the year
The triplets
Played the kings,
And their best friend
In the world
Played Herod.
She did not want to be left behind
So she visited the manger
With her friends,
Knelt with them
In homage to the baby Jesus.
With that picture
I saw the world begin to change.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Getting used to a more permanent organization.

I am now organized
In a different way.
This way requires others
To take me places
Or tells me
That thing
Is not so important.
In between,
Even sometimes,
All the time,
I pray.
Monday and Fridays
I stay local.
I can’t see you then
Unless it’s for coffee
At the local Starbucks.

Friday, December 18, 2015

God in a bag

God will not be contained.

Sometimes we think
We have God in a bag,
A reusable bag,
Of course.
We can take him anywhere;
We can take her
We can shop the shelves
Of the finest store
With mangoes and kiwis.
We can shop
The local store
Which carries mostly things
Like Spaghettios.
When we look in our bag
God is not there
God was never there
And of course
God was always there,
Nestled among the mangoes and kiwis
And Spaghettios.
We bring God home
In our reusable bag
And find
She is already there,
At home.
He is already there,
At home.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

We all do what we can do

I am home now Mondays and Fridays. I see clients Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I am continuing to learn boundaries, at home and in the office. I do what I can do. It feels enough. Last week someone read my blog in Sri Lanka. Really? Sri Lanka! It sounds exotic.

We do what we can do:
Nothing more
Nothing less.
That’s all there is:
Nothing more
Nothing less.
There it is.
Sometimes we hear about it
Sometime not.
Sometimes it enters the ether,
Dissipates to points unknown,
Never to return.
Or perhaps
It returns on the lips
Of an unknown child
In Sri Lanka.
We will never know
We do.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


It is Advent, the season in which we await the birth of Jesus. My MA alma mater has placed a professor on administrative leave. She decided to where a hijab in support of Muslim brothers and sisters. Really, Wheaton, really?

I can’t help but think
The hijab worn
In Wheaton hallways
Inspired fear,
Brought immediate response
Just as much as those airplanes
In New York,
At the Pentagon,
In that Pennsylvania field.
A simple headscarf
Worn for Advent
Brought a more immediate response
Than the impending
Birth of Jesus
A tiny baby,
Already King of the Universe.
He came to hold
All of our hands,
So we,
All of us,
Would know
No fear.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Walking minutes

I guess I'm getting used to walking. I have even begun to measure some things in walking minutes. 

Now all my dreams
Involve walking
In childhood places
Mixed with neighborhoods
I know now.
They all flow together
And I
I am walking everywhere.
In fact it seems
Everyone is walking.
We say
Good morning
Good afternoon
See you in church.
Everything is gauged
In walking minutes.
The world runs
So much slower.

Monday, December 14, 2015


I have a friend who said he would like "the kitten experience." We are living the dream.

The kitten woke up
Completely wired.
We all watch her:
My beloved
The grandfather cat.
She has bottle caps
Milk rings
All over the house.
She finds one.
It is the most fascinating thing
She has ever seen;
She has never seen it
It is completely new.
She brings me one.
We may play fetch;
Then again
Maybe not.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

What's your specialty?

It's foggy today. It feels appropriate to my state of mind. I had a client once, let's say her name was, oh, Elizabeth. She said, I would like my diagnosis to be *Elizabeth*  I told her: That works for me.  I feel the same way about my specialty. I figure it's kind of a priest thing.

I am often asked
What’s your specialty?
I am learning to say
I don’t have one.
Thirty plus years as a priest.
Sixty years of living.
No specialty because that
Might omit
This new person,
These new people,
Who just walked through
The door,
Perched themselves
On the sofa.
I have learned to say
Let’s see
If we can work together.
You are not a diagnosis
Let’s see.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Squirrel Thanksgiving

Life continues. Keep looking.

The squirrels mine the pumpkins,
Fill up on seeds
Before the snow
Sure to come.
The metal can with birdseed
In back
Remains impenetrable.
The pumpkins offer
A feast in the front planters,
Thanksgiving left over
From Halloween.
The next sedge of cranes
Flies south.
Autumn life
Continues on
Even in December.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Waking up

I've had lots of practice waking up... in the morning...even now, in the Emergency Room, having been unconscious for a period of time. Best to put that practice to use.

I wake up every morning
And know
Is waiting for me
Just as
I am waiting
For them.
It has little to do
With any training
I have received
As a priest
As a therapist
And everything to do
Every morning
Waking up.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

At least

I read of a man with epilepsy who, in the midst of a seizure, knocked on a stranger's door and demanded to see the giraffes in her backyard. Of course she called the police. Of course they arrested him. Then they found his epilepsy bracelet. At least I've never done something like that, I thought. Then I remembered my last visit to the ER, after I had an accident I don't remember, at an intersection I never drive to, having gotten there through five stoplights and a train crossing. I will not be driving again, even though I've never demanded to see the giraffes in anyone's backyard, even though I know giraffes live in Africa, or in zoos.

At least
I’ve never done that
At least
I’ve never said that
At least
I’ve never made
That mistake
I’ve made others
Equally bad
Equally weird.
Actually often,
There are others there
To save me
From myself.
So we can cry
Maybe even laugh

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Hooray. Today the experiment worked. I will try it again on Thursday.

Today I began again.
It was an experiment to see
Whether this kind of dizzy
Plus a workout
Resulted in something more
Than dizzy.
It didn’t.
The experiment
Had positive results.
I will repeat it
On Thursday.
Results only matter
If doing the same thing
Brings the same outcome.
Today I began again.
Thursday I will
Begin again.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Duck lady

I understand, Duck Lady.

The duck lady
Across the creek
Has checked her garage
Every morning.
If my imagination is right
She misses
Her ducks
The excuse of snow
To feed them corn.
I’m sure the supply
In her garage
Is ample,
Ready for the snow
Sure to come.
I know she is praying
For snow.
I understand,
Duck Lady.
When things are different
From the way
They usually are,
We hope and pray
They will return.
The corn is in the garage.

Sunday, December 6, 2015


I am on a range of medications which have a possible side effect of dizziness. Thankfully one of these has been subtracted (hooray) and one has been added (boo? hooray? we'll see). The new one seems to offer a new sort of dizzy. Still I'm upright, and not seizury and maintaining my sense of humor (hooray). The world spins for each of us at a different speed.

This new kind of dizzy
Helps me see
The dizziness of others.
Everyone has
His own kind
Her own kind
Of dizzy.
The world spins
For each of us
At a different speed.
It’s when we pretend
It’s all the same
That we get in trouble.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Uber plus some

My independence is challenged these days. Of course it is. It will remain challenged. Of course it will. 

I learn the ins and outs
Of Uber.
I learn where to pick up buses,
No routes are close
To where we live.
The train is close.
It goes straight downtown.
This would be good
If downtown
Was where I wanted to go.
I could go straight downtown,
Transfer to another train station
This would take me
Two blocks
From my office.
At least a two hour trip.
I could read
A lot.
I learn the ins and outs
Of Uber.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Finally the ginkgoes

I wait for this every year. In college we had a ginkgo tree on the front lawn. It was the first time I noticed it lost all its leaves at once. I watch for ginkgoes every year, hoping to catch the "let loose" day. Most times I don't, but still, most times it's enough to walk out the door and find the ground fully covered in gold.

With the giving up
Comes the taking on.
The ginkgo outside the church
Finally let loose.
The ground is a sea of gold,
No matter the snow.
It is too late to rake.
The gold will remain
Under the snow
‘til spring.
It is the way
Of gingkoes
For those who see
Such things
And even for those
Who pay little attention,
It is still the way
Of gingkoes.
With the giving up
Comes the taking on
The watching for such things
As gingkoes loosing all their leaves
At once.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Making the next adjustment. Then the next one.

Adjustment takes tears
Many tears
Looking out the window
At the 92 year old colleague
Getting in
To drive his car
Watching him pull out
Of the parking lot.
Adjustment takes a lot
Of why me?
Then why not me?
Why me, once more?
Then come the tears.
Finally again
The figuring out
What comes next,
And next
And next again.
Then more tears.
The next thing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Occasional services

What if this were the last day you could drive? So many face it every day. It is usually not scheduled. Such things come suddenly, or maybe they only seem sudden when they happen to us.

There are stages
To this letting go.
First comes the accident,
The emergency room,
The letter from the state.
Now comes
The farewell
To the driver’s license;
The hello
To the state ID.
The car keys
Go last.
I think they require a ceremony
For removal from the wallet.
I wonder if a liturgy
Has been written
For this occasion,
This odd poignant occasion.
I wonder if there is a book
For such occasional services
Which I know
Are more
Than occasional.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


The Thanksgiving that was... and wasn't. I wouldn't have it any other way.

As I bask
In the glow of Thanksgiving,
The un-turkeyed Thanksgiving
The cranberry-less
I see the cats
In a different light.
I see this morning
In a different light.
The woman in red
Is alive
Across the way
Ready to feed the ducks
When snow comes again.
As I bask
Despite the head cold,
As I bask in the glow
I am here
You are there
Turkeys and cranberries
Will most likely
Be on sale
This week.
The woman across the way
Awaits her ducks.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Best Thanksgiving

We have missed Thanksgiving with our son for a long time. It was time. Long past time. It was the best Thanksgiving ever.

We stayed in a hotel
That felt wrong
From the beginning.
No details here.
The dinner at the pricey restaurant
Had no turkey
On the menu,
Nothing with cranberries
The portions were small.
We left hungry.
We laughed at the bill.
The next day
We ate like kings and queens,
Sat at the bar
And watched the son
And brother
In his element.
Black Friday
Was not Black.
It offered a spectrum
Of white light
Every color
Of the rainbow
And then some.
It was the best Thanksgiving

Sunday, November 29, 2015


None of us had ever had a persimmon, so we bought one.

The taste of the persimmon
Was sweet.
It dried out
The backs of all my teeth.
We each described it in different ways.
I am not interested
In eating another one
Or over-ripe.
My teeth still
Feel it
One day later.
The sweetness
Has gone.


I am learning to change my punctuation, putting semi-colons where I once put periods. Life is so much more interesting with semi-colons. I am considering a semi-colon tattoo. I know this is a reflection in itself, and may have little to do with what follows. So be it.

Some people
Are exactly on time
For everything.
I am learning
To be less exact,
More gracious,
More understanding.
Here I am.
Here you are.
We are all
Never really exact at all,
Even if we pretend
We are.
Here I am.
Here you are.
Exactness is a figment
Even if we almost always
Arrive on time.

Goodbye exactitude.
Hello approximation.

Here I am.
Here you are.
Not a bad way
To start a new year.
Not a bad way
To begin.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Not Black Friday

This is a perfect trip. Perfect because of the company.  Family.  Minneapolis is home turf for me. It's the combination of family and memories. Yes.

This is not at all
Black Friday.
In fact
I think
It’s a lovely maroon.
We all had lunch
The son is off to work.
The daughter will go
To the art museum.
Perhaps my beloved will go
With her.
I am staying
In the hotel room,
Maybe reading a book.
We will eat dinner
At seven,
Get a good night’s sleep,
Leave in the morning.
Not a Black Friday
At all,
More like maroon
Or maybe even teal.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving morning

Breakfast in the motel in Milwaukee before we pick up the daughter. Thank goodness the woman with little cigars disappears outside before coming back in to comment on every item on GMA. Time to go.

The air is filled
With Good Morning America
A woman with little cigars.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Thanksgiving plans changed piece by piece. I think I like this.

My sister is in a tiny house
Outside of Santa Fe.
My brother
Is in Vietnam
Having drawn the right number
Years ago
My sister-in-law
Is in Vietnam
With him
Playing dress-up,
Taking pictures.
My beloved and I will drive north
To Milwaukee
To pick up the daughter
At midnight,
Leave in the morning
To drive north again
To Minneapolis
To find the son
Eat turkey.
Who knows what else
Will transpire.
Everything changed
Over the weekend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

And so the sandhill cranes

Signs of winter. Some here. Some to come.

And so the sandhill cranes
Appear again,
Signal the true end
Of fall
More than the snow.
They are late this year
Their calls
(my beloved heard them first)
Their calls
A joyous sound.
The first snow melts.
The backyard birds
Find the seed
Around the crabapple.
Soon the duck lady
In red
Or blue
May appear.
My beloved saw fox tracks
In the snow
You can tell
He said
Because they walk
In a line.

Monday, November 23, 2015

More kitten

Got to get back into writing. 
Thanksgiving plans have changed. We are driving north to find the son, picking up the daughter on the way, This will be good. Very good. We may even bring leftovers home to the cats.

The kitten has a tail
Bigger than the rest of her,
A black stripe
Down her nose,
A chirp which serves
A constant reminder
She is there
For leftovers.
The kitten
Loves the bran sludge
In the bottom
Of the cereal bowl,
And anything round
She can pick up and carry
Bottle caps,
Milk rings.
She adores shredding napkins
And leaving them
By the side of the bed
For us to find.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Hotel room dream

Funny things, these dreams.

In the hotel room
I dream of the kitten.
I dream of taking tests
In which I score 61
Though normal
Is 68.
The test-giver laughs
When I tell her
That’s not good enough.
But look!
She says
That same test says
You have absolutely no risk
Of a heart attack.
I wonder how this can be.
She says
These tests can’t lie.
I wake up.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Arriving early

I am learning new ways to navigate things like Convention.  Arriving early and establishing a nest is a new thing for me. It feels pretty good.

I arrived so early
The lobby was empty;
I reveled in the silence,
The sheer space
Before the fullness
Tonight I establish a nest
To return to
From the fullness
When the respite
Calls me.
Then and only after that
I will return
To the fullness.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Earth shoes

Still seeking the magical cure for everything.

A while back,
Long ago now,
It seemed everything
Could be cured
With Earth Shoes.
Not able to stand upright?
Earth Shoes.
Earth Shoes.
Forgot to eat breakfast?
Earth Shoes.
Didn’t get enough sleep?
Earth Shoes.
Not enough water?
Earth Shoes.
I still seek the equivalent
Of Earth Shoes
That magical way
Of keeping feet
Flat on the floor
Earth Shoes
The cure for everything.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

We do what we can do

It's newly dark. I am figuring what needs to more, no less. I do what I can do, as we all must. Hugs are wonderful things.

We do what we can do:
No more
No less.
Today requires
One cup of coffee:
No more
No less.
Today requires
The right amount
Of engagement:
No more
No less,
The hearing of jokes
Silly yet serious;
The hugs
Just because hugs
Connect us
In unworded ways.
Here we are
Doing what we can do.
The same things
Yet somehow different
No more
No less
Present as much as possible
With enough left over
For tomorrow.

Monday, November 16, 2015

No guarantee

I have one more daily pill to take. And no guarantee, absolutely no guarantee, I will not have another unforeseen seizure. Still... I will do what I can. I will find the humor where I can. I will enjoy the people who work in the neurologist's office. I will give thanks for what I know, and I will give thanks for those who care for me when I do not know, for those who tell me what happened in my absence.

There’s no guarantee
Of course there’s no guarantee
Still… this might help…still.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Not tempered

Change comes hard, even when it's written on the calendar.

I am still not tempered
To the evening sky
An hour earlier
Than it should be
Dark and darker
I wait for the hour
To slip back
Where it once was.
I know I am not in charge
Of time
This time or really
Any time.
I keep hoping
For different things
To come to pass.
I do not want to wait.
I am not tempered
To this particular darkness.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


For my dear friend, Laurie Michaels, she who groks. My beloved says this is one of the only good things about Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land... the term "grok." Thank you, Laurie.

At every point in life
It is vital
To find those
Who have experienced
Something similar.
At every point
In life
We must sit
With a warm cup of something,
Share the similar thing
And say
That thing is not the sum total
Of our being.
There is always more
To be claimed.