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?