Friday, December 1, 2023

Boring, Oregon

As a resident of Normal, Illinois, I was delighted to pass through Boring, Oregon on a recent trip to Portland for the birth of my grandbaby! I'm happy to report that Boring* was not boring at all, but a charming town, as was Sandy, Oregon, both on the way to Trillium Lake, pictured here with Lola and her mother (my daughter!) in the foreground and Mount Hood in the background, near sunset, looking golden. It was still white on our way up.

*It's named for a fellow, not a state of mind. And Normal, Illinois is mentioned in the Boring, Oregon Wikipedia article!

And here is Lola as a polar bear. Shortly after this, she had a diaper change and nursed in a warm car. Reality. Golden background or no. It was an absolute delight to be with her. I was present at her birth, a long labor. I held her for hours many nights, so her parents could get some sleep. I did what my mother did for me, with both my children. I was so grateful to be able to do so! And it makes me cry to say so.

I miss my mommy. People, I have to tell you I would stare at the photo of her I sent for her obituary and posted on my Facebook page, and say, "My mommy!" and cry every time, as I am crying now. At first, in the thick of it all, labor, delivery, tending the baby, I just kept going. I knew what to do; it was what she would do. Then grief would surprise me with its whack in the heart. My husband tells me this will keep happening. My heart goes out to all of you who have lost someone dear to you. Especially, if she was a good one, your mother. Mine was. I know I am lucky.

Upon my return to Normal, I went to work. I did laundry. I paid utility bills. I tried to catch up on various tasks. I visited my father, who is doing OK. I love to get mail. Good old-fashioned snail mail. But, so far, I have been unable to open the many condolence cards that arrived in my absence, were held at the post office, and got delivered in two bunches on my return. I'm sorry! I will open them eventually, and reply to you, as would my mother. I will probably use the box of cards she had saved, that I found in her house as I was clearing it out in September and October so it could be sold. My father closed on the house on November 1. Lola was born November 4. My mother died November 5. It was a lovely circle, and it makes me 1) weep 2) grateful.

I'm grateful that my sister could travel to Normal while I was gone, and that she slept beside my mother on the night she died. I'm grateful that my dad could be included in a big, lively, joyful Thanksgiving celebration with my brother-in-law's family! And that we had a lovely celebration of our own, in Portland. I'm grateful that my son is perfecting the traditional orange-pretzel salad, a favorite my mom used to make for holiday meals, and that he will be able to come home for Christmas this year.

I'm grateful to be boring! To post relentless pictures of my grandchild! Grateful to be a grandmother. It's what my mother was! Both my kids joined me for a Zoom church remembrance of my mom. Grateful for that! And that my brother could also attend, from California. (We'll have a celebration of life later, in warmer weather. In Normal.) I'm grateful that my mom's sister and her daughter came to town the weekend it all came to a crisis, and saw my mom in her last lucid moments, before she seized and slept.

And now this next adventure, navigating grief. I'm starting with evasion, leaving those letters sealed, doing chores, decorating for Christmas, but, as my dad said, I have to "go through it," and we will. Together and on our own. In my case, some poems are coming, to rescue me. Words are suddenly rolling out, not quite randomly.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Peacock Crossing

We knew a peacock was crossing the road behind us because a dog was barking at it. Bret turned to look and pointed it out to us, as we prepared to cross the one busy road on our neighborhood walk here in the SE quarter of Portland, OR. Another neighborhood walk is planned for today, a sunny day, timed with the baby's nap after a feeding, as she loves sleeping in the stroller on a jiggly walk. I love being a new grandma. It is helping me continue to accept my mother's death, in part because I am doing the things she did for me, when she came to help with both my babies. I am continuing a motherly tradition, and wearing my Mother Road hat to shield my blue eyes from the sun.

Baby Lola's eyes will probably be brown. Both parents have dark brown hair and brown eyes. But maybe not. Green eyes appear in Bret's family, and Lola currently has auburn hair. His grandpa had dark red hair. Wouldn't that be a delight? 

I had a poem accepted for the Claude Monet issue of Poetry East. It is, of course, a mother poem, as well as a Monet poem. It's titled "Bridge." I was gazing at lots of the "Bridge Over the Lily Pond" paintings and anticipating my mother's death. Right now I am simply gathering lines that come to me in my poetry composition notebook, brought along on the trip, along with my daily diary, a dream journal, and a tiny reading journal. I am reading and writing steadily, in snippets between baby holdings and diaper changes.

Lola's father is excellent at diaper changes and sleep swaddling. Here he is, and here she is, swaddled with a little white noise machine near her head. My daughter is doing well, healing, nursing, walking, creating new routines. She plans outings, so we have been to a park and a garden where we saw many ducks, a flock of geese that rose from a pond, circled it, and resettled, and a bald eagle in a treetop.

Another outing was to Doe Donuts, which I highly recommend if you go to Portland, a town well known for donuts as well as Powell's Books! We all loved the whipped-cream topped donuts called Portland Fog! Their logo has a sweet doe, but I don't have a picture of that. And while Doe Donuts doesn't love day-old donuts, I do. Another favorite was cranberry lime.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Peacock on the Roof


It's a beautiful day in Portland, Oregon, sunny, with bright fall leaves blowing down and gray clouds massing in the distance, after days of rain, and that's a peacock on the roof. I came here to help my daughter have a baby, and that has indeed happened. A beautiful baby named Lola, 8 lbs, 12 oz, 22 inches long. So far, she likes to sleep in the daytime and keep her parents awake from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., like lots of babies who sleep while the mother is active by day and kick around nocturnally. I am happy to hold this baby and stare at her. The activity that rocked her to sleep in the womb included a daily neighborhood walk that I got to do with the family a couple times before the birth, and that's where the peacocks come in. Just as there is a flock of wild turkeys back at home, or trail turkeys, since they walk the Constitution Trail as well as the neighborhoods, here there is a flock of wild peacocks. Or you might say a pride of peacocks, a muster of peacocks, or an ostentation of peacocks. Although these local peacocks are quite modest and unostentatious. Shortly after getting this picture through my son's window, I got to witness this one fly gently down to earth.

Then time stood still, as they say, suspended itself, and we had days of labor in a hospital room. The baby was born, and then my mother died, as if she had been waiting for the baby to come into the world before she went out of it.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Empty Shelves

What a difficult and sweet, sad and joyous time it has been. We cleared out the house with the help of friends and family. I never thought I'd see these bookshelves empty of books. And today we moved my fierce and feisty mother into hospice care. I'm glad I got to spend some quiet time with her in the hospital and that I got to see her moved safely into the hands of calm, experienced people who will help my dad through whatever is to come next. 

The full impact of losing my mom--a gradual and imminent process--hit me as I drove down the driveway of my childhood home for the last time. The empty house...was her. 

And this is her, too!

Friday, October 27, 2023

All Around Me

All around me, so much beauty, the fall happening in sunshine and rain. I've been so busy, so preoccupied. I am clearing out my parents' home, giving things away. So many people have helped, and are still helping! My brother and his wife, her brothers with trucks! Now my sister is coming, and her husband, with a truck! Two Men and a Truck came, such hardworking guys! Recycling Furniture for Families. Habitat for Humanity, their Home ReStore. Friends baking cookies for an event Saturday afternoon. Friends helping with moral support and labor. I am so grateful. And the nasturtiums are still blooming!

Meanwhile, I am still working, still editing. The poetry has mostly been set aside, but today I was revising two poems, and that felt good. My printer broke, and ironically these would go to a snail mail publication. But I have let so many deadlines pass during this necessary time of other work. A poem came out, in Border Crossing. Other poems were (kindly) rejected. Again, gratitude.

Other people's fathers are failing, dying. Other people's mothers. The trouble continues in Ukraine, in Gaza, elsewhere. So much suffering continues. Yet my time has felt suspended, even as tasks went on. 

These nasturtiums are hiding under an umbrella of leaves. So am I, maybe.

But I led a board meeting, I met with a banker, I did an all-day work training on mental health in older adults. Met with co-workers to plan a Death Cafe. I am feeding the neighbor's cat. Packing to go help my daughter have a baby! It all somehow gets done.

Meanwhile, the burning bush went red! 

Sunday, October 1, 2023

My Nasturtiums

Sometime in the middle of the summer I planted nasturtiums and marigolds from seed along the fence, and they have been gloriously blooming all September, and now it's October! There's a tiny nasturtium patch blooming under the Little Free Library for Iris Harley, who would be 5 now--next year to be joined by white anemone. Almost everything in my yard is native or perennial or I harvest seeds from one year to plant the next. Chicory and Queen Anne's Lace come on their own.

My friend Ken Kashian, photographer, asked if he could have some leaves and blooms for a photo project. Yes, come over! He did. These are his photos. This one, which reminds me of a ballet dancer, is my new Facebook profile picture. The delicacy and light in these photographs are helping me, sustaining me. September has been a hard month, emotionally. My mother was in the hospital for a week and has now been released to memory care, where we are gradually adorning her room with comfortable, familiar, and beautiful things. Visits are brief. She's doing OK.

My brother and his wife have been here, visiting family and helping me clear out the family home. Heavy lifting! Husband helping, too, and yesterday he transported about a dozen boxes to Books to Benefit. Books, paintings, clothing, kitchen things, pretty things, music, and eventually furniture will all be finding new homes. (Let me know if you need anything! We might have it!) Dusty sorting, nostalgia, family photos...

My father is coping, grieving, raging, and, perhaps, relaxing a bit. Maybe some stress will fall off. Maybe he can make new social patterns. The university archivist took 26 boxes of his papers--teaching materials, publications, plays, drafts, authored books... There is so much more left to sort in the house. I am exhausted in all the ways. But imagine him--his whole life gone, the marriage torn, two frail loving people, near but apart.

Friends, as well as family, are helping in supportive and practical ways. I am so grateful. And a special joy this weekend was our houseguest, fiber artist Pat Kroth, here for the Sugar Creek Arts Festival--and, a nice surprise for her, a double award winner! One of the awards is for art that uses recycled materials. I am happy to say that some of her future art will include a watercolor silk dress from my mom, and some of her skinny jeans!

For the first time in a long time, I reached for my poetry drafting notebook, to capture two lines that came to me suddenly: "Remember the knife / and the tiny spoon." These are a cake knife and a salt spoon, brought home from the farmhouse--the spoon because it is so tiny and charming, the knife in case I bake a cake. But who knows what they will be in the eventual poem? It is assembling itself in fragments. "Will there be a piano?" I don't know where it will go next.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Mother Tree

I guess this is what I am doing in the way of poetry lately: a Mother Tree. Visual, 3D poetry--a small branch anchored in a vase with glass pebbles, hung with ornaments from her life: earrings, baby bracelets, a nostalgic love pin nestling in the tree as if K-I-S-S-I-N-G. There are two tiny skulls to represent her parents, who lived with my parents for a time in their old age. So did my dad's grandfather, at one point. My folks were very generous people, also taking in a high school student, whose parents moved his senior year, and a young man from Mali. They are living now in a retirement community, in independent living but with lots of home health care, and I am slowly but surely clearing out the family home while it is for sale. Lots of laundering, donating, recycling, redistributing, and rearranging. I feel like my mom! 

There is a silver chain with an apple on it, from when my mom retired from teaching, and a silver gavel, probably from her years with the local teachers' union. My brother's blue baby bracelet hangs near the latter.

My sister and I have pink baby bracelets, and near them I have hung one of my own earrings, a favorite, the mate lost, pink stones, one in the shape of a heart.

There is a found earring (like a found poem!), a sort of mask, chosen for the Mother Tree because of her work in the theatre. Her mother's hospital bracelet, or her own (?), hangs around the vase itself.

I loved making my Mother Tree. I did it instead of church last Sunday morning. It was a way to relieve stress, honor my mom, and felt spiritual, to be sure. It was a way to rest, after all the cleaning. It was a way to take things from tiny boxes and let them live again. I thank Connie Shannon for the inspiration. She made a "tiny beautiful things" tree this past spring when Heartland Theatre was doing the play Tiny Beautiful Things, based on the Cheryl Strayed book. It became part of a library display for the production, and then library workers loved it so much it became part of ongoing displays all through the summer!

Here is my Mother Tree where it lives now, on a stand at the top of the stairs, with a stack of books, under a painting by my husband. He knocked it over this morning, coming out of the bedroom, but I was able to restore it (and slightly reposition it, to avoid this in the future!). It's fragile but able to be rehung or added to, as needed. There might be more mateless earrings to come....

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Furious Cooking

If I were doing the Sealey Challenge this year, I would embark on a re-reading of the Maureen Seaton books in my possession, having just learned of her death. I met her in Chicago and took a seminar with her, and she was an inspiration. She encouraged me to send some prose poems to Quarter After Eight, where they were taken. It became a favorite journal of mine, full of the challenging and unexpected. 

I would probably start with Furious Cooking.

Sadly, I am not doing the Sealey Challenge this year--voraciously reading a book of poems a day in August--because daily life has gotten a bit too complicated by caregiving, though resting with poetry might have helped. The heat wave did not. Now I think of throwing my ivy comforter on this wooden glider, putting the stack of Seaton books beside me, and at least leafing through, pausing here and there to concentrate on a poem. But the afternoon is spoken for.

Yesterday morning, I tabled for the local Democrats at the annual Sweet Corn Circus, having many great conversations with people who stopped by, and giving away a lot of children's sunglasses, pencils, pens that are also styluses, and buttons. We heard the whistle that meant the sweet corn was cooked and ready for eating. Gammi Phi Circus performers stopped by our booth for candy. On my way out, I saw their performance space, with young kids rolling around their pool inside giant blow-up plastic balls. It was a delight. Then I took my mom to Urgent Care, as when I went to change her wound dressing, I found the wound was infected. Sigh....

That's kind of how each day goes now.

Here, at least, are some random poem titles from Furious Cooking, to give you a sense of, well, everything. And its pertinence:

"After Sinead O'Connor Appears on Saturday Night Live, the Pope"

"A Constant Dissolution of Molecules"

"Self-Portrait with Disasters"

"The Man Who Killed Himself to Avoid August"

Saturday, August 5, 2023

My Midge

My Midge doll is not pregnant. She is simply Barbie's best friend, and my case is a (pink) Barbie & Midge case. She has freckles and brown hair. Here she is with a book hedgehog in the background, wearing fairly sensible yellow heels (sturdy squarish, not spike heels; and they are also square-toed. The kind I myself might wear, if there were a yellow opportunity!) Yes, we saw the Barbie movie last night. Went with my sister, visiting from Nebraska, and my husband, who enjoyed it a lot. It was not what he was expecting. Thank you, Greta Gerwig!

It turns out my sister had no Barbies of her own, just played happily with my handmedowns. I sort of remember being asked about that and saying yes, of course, and of giving her Skipper outright at some point. Where is Skipper? My daughter had Barbies of various sorts; some were sold, some may still be in the house, but she/we did a lot of responsible cleaning out, so maybe not.

My sister was here to help with some responsible cleaning out of the family home, and progress was made, and good things happened this week--medically and with home health care, etc. Joy and relief! But care and stress continue. All shall be well. 

And today shall be a Slattern Day....

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Where's Home Now?

My family home went up for sale this weekend. So if you live in the Midwest, or want to, there it is. (It's in corn and soybean land now, but, given global warming, this could be the tropics soon.) I loved growing up there. So many good memories, including my daughter's wedding in the back yard; so many holidays; so much love, so much change. I'm simultaneously teary-eyed with love and nostalgia and realistic. It's the right time. My parents are safe and sound in a retirement community, and it's time to let someone else love this dear, dear place. (It will haunt my dreams.)

I sat at two booths yesterday at our local Pridefest, put off for a month but hugely popular and well-attended this beautiful, beautiful Saturday and night. The dangerous heat had lifted, there was a breeze, there were rainbow capes and braids and a rainbow tutu (on our new lesbian pastor) and plenty of temporary tattoos. I saw a snippet of the glorious drag performance in front of the Bistro, and then left, pooped. Today, I met a new caregiver for my mom, and she had attended Pridefest as well, an excellent omen.

When I first arrived, my parents were not in their apartment. I looked in the usual places--and I had brought fresh-baked cookies, left by the door as I searched--but we kept missing each other. Finally, I found them and we took the elevator and headed down the hall, my parents walking at their different paces, using the convenient handrail, as I walked at my mother's side.

"Where's home now?" she asked. It was not in regard to the sale of the family home. It was a polite question she asks people she knows she knows...but can't quite recall. It's the first time this has happened to me, but the timing is so perfect, I can let it be.

Later, she knew me. (I think.) I changed the dressing on the wound on her leg, almost healed! We taught our favorite card game to the new caregiver--who loves theatre (yay!), who played volleyball in high school (yay!), who was at Pridefest yesterday (yay!). So much to be grateful for, as my heart keeps gently breaking.

Saturday, July 29, 2023


I had to nudge myself into another poetry submission and discovered it was a full two months since the last. Sigh... Busy, stressful times continue, but with beauty, joy, and moments of sweet downtime, plus, alas, dangerous heat. But the heat has lifted, and I am soon to volunteer at two tables for our annual downtown Pridefest, itself delayed by a full month but now fully supported by the city. I've got my Pride hat, my Pride flags, and two shirts--one for each organization, plus a water bottle, travel tissue, a cell phone for a ride home, and a Walt Whitman tote bag. I feel strangely well prepared! I hope I am coherent, as I had a little anesthesia yesterday. Nasturtiums I planted from seed, and the above marigold, are blooming! There was welcome rain and, sadly, some unwelcome damage from recent storms. Let's hope we all repair.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Everything's Coming up Barbie

The new Barbie movie looks like so much fun. Weird fun. Here are some other weird things lately. I was driving home and got to the railroad tracks with the red lights flashing. It was a short wait, no train went by, etc., but when I looked in my side view mirror the driver of the car two cars behind me was down on the road doing push-ups! On the road. Doing push-ups! 

Here is my classic Barbie, a brunette from the 1960s. I also have Midge. And this fabulous red velvet coat. Fond memories, lots of wear and tear on the wardrobe and the case. I don't think I will become a millionaire from this vintage Barbie. I do love her clothes. There's also a red one-piece swimsuit.

Walking to work today, I was not, thank goodness, killed, but a car turned left very close to me. I could feel and hear the whoosh. Grateful he didn't run over my foot. I was crossing in the crosswalk with the walk light, and he was turning left facing east into the blinding sun. He might not even have seen me. It made me a little cranky, making it a Cranky Doodle Day in the blog, but I have fun stuff happening later: wine, dinner on the grounds of Ewing Castle, and The Tempest at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival! I have already seen Comedy of Errors and The Book of Will. Lucky me! 

And in the good news department, a short play of mine, "Shakespeare's Ladies at Tea (or I Thought You'd Never Asp)" will be performed in August in New York City by First Flight Theatre Company in Under St. Mark's as part of the Little Shakespeare Festival. It is a little play! a tragicomedy! And was great fun to do many years ago in Chicago, so I hope it is great fun again!

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Red Hibiscus, Fog, Sitcoms, Shock, Badassery

Dear blog readers, I haven't forgotten you--I just write my blog to you in my head while swimming, early in the morning. Twice now, I've gone swimming in the fog--once a drifty, blowy fog and today (was it today?) a stationary fog that soon disappeared. Since lap swimming is repetitive, I do lose track of days. It also becomes meditative. As the summer has progressed, that easy breathing thing has happened. I feel like I could swim forever. But this is sometimes followed by my nose having to remind itself not to breathe water, my body thinking it lives here now. 

The other meditative thing I did lately was walking the trail through two butterfly areas--the butterfly refuge, a wild native prairie with monarch-loving plants and mown paths, and a planted butterfly garden maintained behind the cancer center. The latter has a labyrinth, where I did a walking meditation.

But first a shocking thing happened: a man pushing a stroller with two children in it came up the path saying to them,"Remember when I said I would slap you to the ground? I was just joking, but those people believed me." He then veered off the path to take a shortcut over a grassy hill to some apartments. (I don't think he was joking.) Then another shocking thing: on the trail a couple was talking about panic, saying, "You can panic all you want if you keep saying you're right." And then, "They'll break into our homes and shoot us in our beds." What is going on? It was just a beautiful, peaceful day otherwise. It seems like America is scared and angry, and violent. On a Saturday, with kids.

But today is Thursday, or Thor's Day in the blog. I can conquer this with peace and poetry. And comedy. And sorrow. I have two poems in the current issue of Redactions, the Sitcom Issue, because my life is a sitcom (Mad About You) and a dark, quirky comedy (Everybody Loves Raymond if it was rebooted as a future White Lotus). To further mess things up, both of these began with biblical prompts, during Lent.

My husband had a birthday this week, and we celebrated by going to a poetry reading (he liked it!) and taking the poet and her husband out to dinner. The poet was Lynne Jensen Lampe--she came to our little public library from Columbia, Missouri--reading new poems, and poems from her new book, Talk Smack to a Hurricane. We have a robust reading series of local and regional poets, and, especially since our virtual programming during Covid, many far-flung poets, some, like Lynne, who still show up in person, and some who remain virtual. I'm delighted that Chicago poet Yvonne Zipter will come down in October. Really, it's a fantastic series that doesn't get much local media attention, but I am reading Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, thanks to my new pastor, and so may try to attempt some marketing badassery soon. Shonda makes me laugh out loud. Thank you, I needed that!

Sunday, July 9, 2023


Soon I'll move back outdoors on this lovely Sunday afternoon. The garden is wild and leaping now, since the generous rains. I planted nasturtium late, by seed, and it is leafy with at least one tiny bloom budding. I hope there will be more. Prairie Blue Eyes continue to open, lasting for a day. My Rose of Sharon is always late compared to others in the neighborhood, but I see buds there, too. 

My parents came to church, a nice surprise, and I also went to visit them afterwards, having lunch and a walk together, with more flower gazing. I did the daily wound dressing for my mom, seeing good progress. Soon, I hope, she will be fully healed.

My father has trouble breathing, with low energy as a result. Soon he will need oxygen more than overnight, but, as always, it will be hard to convince him of that. He wants, instead, to get better. So we do what we can with what we have. Yesterday, we all played a nice round of rummy golf (a card game, though he plays actual golf some Mondays!)

Usually, I find out what I am doing by staring at my daily calendar. It reminds me of when the kids were growing up--so many things to keep track of: practices, school health exams, softball, volleyball, summer baseball... 

More tasks await in emails. I do them all as they come, as there is only this moment to do them in. Just now, I put on gloves and wiggled two wheels on the little blue car, helping my husband with a car repair. That wasn't on the physical calendar, just on the calendar of our brains. The car needs new transmission fluid, and if that doesn't work, its time has come. (It's a 1991 Ford.) I have been checking out the Chilton Repair Manual for several years now, my circulation stats probably keeping it in the library!

My dreams, too, are task or trouble related. They might possibly lead to new poems...if I put that on the calendar.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Who Gnu?

It's July, suddenly! Summer moves so quickly, while simultaneously feeling eternal and leisurely. And we've been having drought and wildfire smoke, so it's been looking like August out there for a while, with chicory fully in bloom and Queen Anne's Lace ready to pop. Now, thunderstorms bring needed rain. The purple cone flower is open, the orange day lily, the sort of lavender-mauve Prairie Blue Eye, nothing "blue" about it. I've been swimming, except for 2 days this week, when weather & circumstances prevented it, and enjoying the ducks at the pool and some neighborhood ducks on my walks to work.

I have a poem in Image, a beautiful journal. The print copies arrived this week, and the online version comes out July 6. I am thrilled and enjoying the issue, full of variety, plus Art, Faith, Mystery.

The books I am reading continue to have a music connection, as noted in a previous blog entry, and my sister was here for a few days, so we sang at the piano--"Joanne" and showtunes, a little concert for my mom between medical appointments. I loved learning more about Bill Harrison in Making the Low Notes, a memoir by a bass player and therapist I had met in Chicago! And even Cambridge, a novel (autobiographical?!) by Susanna Kaysen (of Girl, Interrupted) had music in it--a mother who plays the piano, a teacher, Vishwa, who teaches the young Susanna to listen--as did Dear Diary, by Lesley Arfin, with punk and rave concerts in it. My life is a tangle of intersecting strands. 

Even last night, the interstitial music was gorgeous in The Book of Will, by Lauren Gunderson, in a wonderful production directed by Lori Adams, its opening night* at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. The weather cooperated in letting us see it under the stars (clouds), including a huge wind that blew in after the dramatic death of Burbage. Spoiler alert. Burbage dies, Shakespeare is already dead, somehow his plays get published! And knowing all this before we go in, the play is still full of suspense and a cliffhanger!

*I was also lucky enough to attend opening night of Comedy of Errors with my sister (see Open Water Swim). I can't right now untangle my life, but I am enjoying the very mess of it, the love, the moments of respite and card playing, and even the tenderness of wound care as my mother's skin grows back on her leg. Today there may be dancing at church. There will certainly be a potluck. And that makes it another Random Coinciday in the blog.**

**Oh! And to add to the coincidii, a little play of mine called Shakespeare's Ladies at Tea (a gathering of Shakespeare's women uttering their own real lines in a new context) will be performed in New York in August! Who gnu?

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Open Water Swim

It was a perfect Saturday morning for the open water swim competition this weekend in Evergreen Lake at Comlara Park. I was not swimming! I was there to support my brother-in-law, Tim, and Rob from Early Bird Lap Swim (weekdays mornings at Fairview Pool, where I do swim!), and all the fabulous swimmers of all ages, local and from afar! Hot, so we standers on shore kept seeking the shade, and I got a weensy bit of sunburn despite my sunscreen (which worked perfectly where I had smeared it correctly). Breezy.

It was also a perfect night for the opening of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival! I got to see Comedy of Errors with my sister, and we sat in the castle courtyard afterwards, chatting with each other and with actors, directors, and other theatregoers, as the breeze continued. As we chatted with Karen and Eva, who played sisters Adriana and Luciana, I got to tell Eva that I had played Luciana years and years ago in the same festival! It was a wonderful moment of time doing its weird expansive, eternal, here-and-now thing.

Boy, do we need rain. I'm glad it didn't rain yesterday morning (last year's open water swim was canceled due to a downpour, also needed during a time of drought), nor at night during the play (I saw those Colorado concert rain-and-hail videos on the news!), but I wished for overnight rain (only a 30% chance here, reduced to 0% by reality). There were severe storms to the west of us, but nothing here.

It's lovely to have family in town visiting, and they got to see the final matinee of The Waiting Room--the 10-Minute Play Festival at Heartland Theatre Company! (I had seen it 3 times before, so I stayed home to water my flowers and otherwise be a slattern.) Today my sister, who is writing a play about Abraham and Mary Lincoln, will take her daughter to Springfield to see a new musical about Abraham and Mary Lincoln. And that makes it a Random Coinciday in the blog!

Sunday, June 18, 2023


I had another recent poetry acceptance, this time for a poem about my mother that is also about the time I played Marjorie in the play Marjorie Prime, a few years back. I played an 80-year-old woman, and afterwards 1) everyone mistook me for my mother 2) I cut off my long hair streaked white that I wore in a braid (just like my mother) and 3) people asked what I did with makeup to look 80. Basically, the answer was "no makeup." For those not so familiar with theatre, the stage lights will wash you out, so wearing no makeup did make me look 80! But still. So now it helps me 1) understand my parents and 2) brace myself to be reading Successful Aging, by Daniel J. Levitin! I like it a lot, and I hope I am aging successfully!

I found this book, and got it through interlibrary loan, after I read his book This Is Your Brain on Music, which I discussed with the Stranger Than Fiction non-fiction book club. It meets in a wine bar! Our next book, already in progress, is I Live a Life Like Yours, a memoir by Jan Grue, about living with a disability...and just living his own life, which is like...yours, or mine. The Levitin book on aging is delightful in its examples, many of whom are musicians that he met in his other work! Joni Mitchell, Sonny Rollins.

Also in progress is another memoir, this one by musician Bill Harrison, a bass player I met in Chicago! Making the Low Notes. I think all these connections make it a Random Coinciday in the blog, as well as a Poetry Someday, not to mention Father's Day. (I'm glad I remembered to make a reservation for dinner tonight for Dad!) I love having a book at hand in any room, or to take in a cloth bag for any waiting room. Two medical appointments coming up this week for my mom. Successful Aging recommends learning new things: I am learning proper wound care and wrapping. I doubt I can learn a new language or a new musical instrument at this point, but I am making new crafts occasionally, and playing the piano a bit more, now that I am tuning it regularly. 

Coincidence: Levitin says in the Acknowledgements for This Is Your Brain on Music that one of his favorite songs is "Joanne" by Michael Nesmith (of The Monkees!). When I read that, I thought, "I have that sheet music" and ransacked my piano bench for it. Success! Plus a bit of stumbling around on the keyboard. But it was fun to find some of the elements of music that Levitin describes and admires immediately evident in a song he likes!