Dumping My Blog

pencils at the ready

been thinking it a while –
but is it one more step away from writing?
Or toward it?

I admitted to these very thoughts
while riding to church a few weeks ago
and wouldn’t you know it?
The morning’s passage included
immediately they left their nets.”
I like that.
(Long before Nike’s “just do it”
were the first disciples.
They were more cutting-edge than me.)

So what’s the hold-up?

I will miss the friends I’ve met in cyberspace,
not that I won’t be in cyberspace,
but I think I’ll feel only half-in.
Now that I see that in print,
I realize my thinking on that is wrong.
This hadn’t struck me before.
(This is one reason writers write, says Joan Didion,
to find out what they are thinking.)

I’ve been blogging over a decade, so it’s a hard break,
like parting with a old sweater,
too tattery to be seen in
but there are so many memories attached.
Okay, my blog isn’t that tattered.
Still, sentimentality is often the obstacle to the uncluttered life, is it not?

But mostly the hold-up
is the cry of the platform-builders,
“You must blog.”
Must I?
Did anyone actually say that
or is that how it got twisted in my mind?

I wish to say something fabulously acceptable,
such as,
I’m working on my doctorate
or going to do third-world orphanage work
or donating all my writing parts to a needy person
and so – apologies, apologies – I no longer can blog.

But I don’t have a noble cause to give as excuse.
And my faithful readers do not require it of me.

It is enough to say
I have nothing to say,
that what I have to say,
the topic closest to me right now,
the one I dedicate my peak writing time to,
which is as it should be,
doesn’t belong here,
and I belong where it is.

You are nodding. I know it.

A few times in my life I wondered how to explain to a friend a decision I made, only to discover no explanation was necessary.

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 5.29.29 PM
ICICLES THAW in the afternoon sun.
A squirrel watches me take a picture.

That’s the way it is with these late-season storms,
the dripping comes fast on their tails.

The incessant dripping,
it drives some people nuts,
even when it signals the very thing they’ve been waiting for.

I hear the drip
before I see it.
I turn my head to look,
then, as always, jump to take a picture.
There’s just something there.

I want to be like that,
a person who thaws quickly,
who does not hold on to anger.

I wonder if I will be.
I wonder if I am.

21 Days until Spring

The day before another storm is due, we go to the art museum. 

of the state highway
and the turn into the neighborhood,
there’s a sign.
Someone goes out every day
and changes the number!
A spreader of hope, that person.

(I think it might be my next door neighbor.
I’ll text her and ask.)

Another storm is coming
and we’re not sure we’re up to it,
but we’ve no cause to complain,
not compared to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey kin,
so we won’t,
but we will agree on the countdown,
that it makes us smile when we drive by.

(My neighbor says yes, she’s the one,
and today she’s taking down her winter decorations in the house,
hoping to advance the cause.)

Today again the roads have been brined –
but we shake our fists at tomorrow’s storm
and drive an hour
to the Art Museum
to see watercolors
and dream of Spring.

Crocus poked through the soil in last week’s thaw.


I Get a Pet

Since I can’t have a dog
I got a fish
at the pet store downtown
on the corner,
the store that’s been there forever
or at least as long as I’ve lived here.

The same woman is in there
who was there when I used to go in
and browse through the dog sweaters
and Wally kept tropical fish in a big, big tank.

While she rang up the items
we piled on the counter –
gravel, a small plant, fish food
and of course Mr. Fish himself –
two small children
asked permission of their mother
to go look at the guinea pigs,
then ran past
the man who stopped in for some pig’s ears.

His dog,
waiting in the car just outside,
refused to take note of us when we emerged,
so fixed was his gaze on the door
through which his owner had disappeared.
You’ve got to love that about dogs.

“Don’t forget to name your fish,”
the woman shopkeeper had said.

I’m naming him Benny.

chair and pillows
not that we can’t hear each other
from where we are,
but just because.

And I leave the chair like that
even after she goes –
the whole day long –
so that every time I pass through the living room
I remember our conversation.

Having everything in order, just where it belongs, is highly overrated. :-)

SHE LET ME make her breakfast.
and said yes to the Clementines I pulled from the drawer.
We sat there peeling them,
the smell of oranges filling the room.
I liked that.

I made more coffee than was necessary,
I was pretty sure,
considering half the time she comes in, announcing,
“None for me. I’ve given it up.”
Surely, I’d be dumping most of it afterward.
I turned the coffeemaker on
a few minutes before she was due because
there’s just something about the sound and smell of coffee brewing
when a morning visitor comes through the door.
This might just be a thing I think.

We catch up on her recent trip
and my finally taking a class
and our various church stuff.
We are knee-deep into her wondering what to do
about the most negative person she’s ever known
when my phone rings.

I decline the call,
but when it rings again,
she says, “You need to take that”
and she’s right.

She slips out.

after she goes
and after the call,
I wander through.

Dirty plates are piled high with orange peels,
the furniture is askew
and the coffee pot is empty.

You can’t buy this kind of happiness.


THE PROBLEM with all this intentionality I’ve been writing about
is that you make new friends
and then something happens to one of them.

One of the other adult volunteers
in the youth ministry
has died, and suddenly. Too young.
A very gentle soul.
Teacher. Principal.
A part of my own “coming back to life.”

I am better for having met and known him,
and will miss his voice.
Thank you, Jim.

Owen Meany cover

THE LIBRARY texted me: “Materials due soon.”
I was only on disc 13 out of 22 of the audiobook version
of John Irving’s “A Prayer for Owen Meany.”

Turns out you can’t renew materials when there’s a waiting list.
I am sympathetic –
I was on that waiting list a year –
but when there are 22 discs
and you have only a short commute to work,
it can take some time to get through.

I wrestled over this,
whether to keep the audiobook and pay the fine
OR return it and read the rest of the book the old-fashioned way.
After all, there are TWO copies on my bookshelf.

(Can you believe I waited a year when there were two copies in the house? I have no defense, Your Honor.)

Now that I’m completely hooked,
maybe I will pick up the actual book and read it.

B-u-t I don’t want to set myself up for failure.
so I decide to be a scofflaw.
I decide to keep the audiobook until I’m done with it and that’s that.

I drove to the library after work on Thursday to return it,
but the school next door was about to let out
and the street was crowded with people picking kids up
and there was traffic, which we never have here –
an honest-to-goodness 4 car back-up at the red light –
and all the parking was taken up by minivans.
I took this all as a sign to hold on to Owen a little longer.

When you are looking for a sign your choice is right,
almost anything will do,
have you noticed?

But now
Owen has gone back.
Turns out 15 cents is the tipping point,
the deciding factor in whether to be a scofflaw or not.
The fine for overdue books is $.10/day,
but the fine for audiobooks is $.25/day.
And since, as a matter of policy,
I had already decided
if I was going to keep Owen Meany,
I was keeping him all the way to the end,
which could be another 2-4 weeks,
I was compelled to return him let Wally return him
on his way to an evening meeting.

Owen wasn’t overdue even a single day.

Ten cents is one thing; 25 is another.
But it wasn’t the cost so much as
I couldn’t bear running up a fine that high
and having it be a matter of public record . . .
. . . in case I should ever run for public office. :-)

All of this is my way of saying what a fabulous book this is.


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