At last.

I shall try to put something on this blog much more often than I have been. I promise ! It won’t be all poetry. I started out wanting it to be a way to share my writings with my friends, but I think very few of them are really interested.
I want to do more sharing of my heart, my situation, where I am in my thought life, as well as my poetic life. I confess that the ravages of old age are getting me down and I have not been feeling well at all lately. I was told in January of this year that I have kidney disease and it is quite far along. I have managed to improve my kidney function by strictly changing my diet, but still, it is a worry.
My liver disease is well controlled, but now it is arthritis in my hips as well as back, and so I am in almost constant pain. I want to walk and do some minimal exercise, but I find it only causes extreme breathlessness. I tell you this not to whine, but just to set the scene, so to speak.
I had a friend who died last year of a brain tumor. While being treated for that, over the course of a few years, she kept up a blog to let her friends know how she was doing. I think I’ll do the same. Instead of feeling guilty for not communicating with friends, I shall direct them to my blog and thus tell everyone at once. Not that I suffer anything life threatening, not at all ! At least not yet.
For the last 2 or 3 years, for some reason which I cannot explain, a lot of the poetry I’ve written has to do with old age, death, or dying. At first I didn’t even realize I was writing in that vein, and so I wonder why. Perhaps because at my age you lose friends to death and death seems to creep closer.
For example:

LOSS

Older people learn that very soon
dear friends depart for unknown lands
while they remain behind.

Youth feel the pain of loss
but it is not the same.
When you grow old
you see them falling,
one by one as in a
terrible dream—the war of bodies
making their last stands against
the encroachment of the years.

There is no hope of winning,
no possibility of a truce with death.
Only loss after loss after loss.
And it is what it is what it is.

And, what it is is almost the end of March, 2017. Unbelievable, no?

Greetings to all from the sunny southwest.  And I do mean sunny!  The weatherperson tells us that in a day or two we may expect temperatures to reach into the 80s. (But only for a few days, then back to more seasonal norms.  You never know anymore, do you?  Best just look out the window for a forecast.

Well…here’s my February poem: (this is not supposed to be double spaced, but I can’t seem to change it so…….)

                February

oh look!

it’s the month of my birth.

and I cannot decide if I should

celebrate and call my friends in

for a party

or cry copious tears of rage

because of age.

 

but, seriously, I know that

tears are wasted on what I cannot change

and the years will pass

without my permission.

 

and so, I will put on the smiley face.

I will claim sageness and sagacity

and pretend I am so much wiser

than the young.

 

I do, however, avoid mirrors,

especially in changing rooms at the mall,

and try not to stare in envy

at my friends who have managed to keep

their youthful figures by

indulging in hopeless exercise.

 

For even though the sun is shining

to cheer up a winter day,

I can just as cheerfully sit

and exercise my mind,

losing myself and my cares

in other places, other concerns,

other months that may arrive

and offer hope.

2017

Happy New Year ! That’s what one is expected to say on the first of January. It may not be happy for you, so if not, then I would wish you joy and peace instead, along with God’s best blessings.
It is already the 10th of Jan. today, and I need to put something on this blog. Lately, I’ve felt without anything worthwhile to say. I need to make a resolution to do better with my blog in ’17, although I never make resolutions, so I’m not sure how that would work out.
To start with , here is a little ditty that came to my mind the other day:

My sweet tooth sent me to the kitchen,
where temptation was strong, I confess.
I was drawn right away to the chocolate,
for I’ve simply no will power, I guess.

I glanced at the carrots and celery,
the yogurt looked good I must say.
But there sat the gooey fudge cake.
Ignore it? Ha ha ! No way.

the New Year

My thoughts at the end of 2016:
I listen to a radio program called the Commonwealth Club every Saturday morning. Today the guest was a journalist and author who has a new book out which is all about the pace of change in our world.
His name is Thomas Friedman and the book is “Thank You For Being Late: an optimist’s guide to thriving in the Age of Accelerations.” (You can see who Friedman is by just googling his name.)
After listening to his lecture this morning, I felt compelled to write down the following thoughts, and share them on my blog.
If you haven’t stopped to think about it, ponder this: it is only in the last 9 or 10 years that we have had Google, Facebook, etc. and the “cloud”. I know, it seems longer, but not so. Those of us who are older, like myself, look at the lightning speed of change and feel like we cannot keep up. Only that short time ago we did not have Wi-Fi, hand-held devices that double as telephones and internet connections, or people in undeveloped economies with the same telephone connections as we in the Western world.
Because of things like Twitter, whole populations can be swayed in an election year into voting for an inexperienced demagog. Truth is being buried under fake news and people scarcely know any more what to believe or believe in.
As I listened to the lecture on the radio this morning, I began to think of what it is that we CAN cling to in times like these. What never changes, no matter new technology, new governments, or new standards of human behavior? God, of course !
God is love, yes, but also peace, joy, generosity, and hope—always hope for the future, no matter what happens. A belief in and trust in the eternal spirit that lives in all of us humans and that we call God allows us to deal with change, and even with despair and pain.
There is an old hymn that is still sung in Protestant churches, “The Solid Rock”. This is our God, solid, but unlike a rock in that He is never eroded or changed by wind, rain, water, or the faithlessness of His creation.
This is what we can cling to and believe in now, in the days of lightning fast change.
I wish you a blessed and hopeful New Year.

Merry Christmas !

This is my annual Christmas letter to friends and family. I wanted to include a couple of pictures, but since I can’t figure out how to transfer them from my photo gallery to this site, I finally gave up. I do waste a lot of time trying to figure out how to do things. The aging brain does not take easily to all the new technology.
I will also include a poem that I scribbled just this morning as I sat and admired the few decorations that I managed to drag out of my closet a couple of days ago.

December 2016

This year has sped by, as it does, but I think I’ve aged about 5 years at least. (smile)
The worse part of my year was, of course, the death of my dear sister Lona. It was a huge shock to everyone as it was so sudden. She insisted that there be no service of any kind and so her family honored that although it wasn’t what we would have preferred. We talked on the phone often and also by e mail, but I had not seen her since summer of 2015 when she came to Colorado. I am thankful that I had seen her so recently.
In March the Toths asked me to move out of their apartment as Barb wanted it back to use for a music studio. I was quite surprised, as I had always had the impression that this was a long-term arrangement. So, at first I couldn’t imagine how I would ever find a decent apartment elsewhere. Rents are not high here compared to other places, but to someone on a small fixed income it seemed I would have to live in a less than desirable part of town.
As usual, God led me to just the right place. It is rent-subsidized senior only building. It is not old, and is very nice both in and out. It took me awhile to get used to having someone living above me, and walking farther to my car. But I usually can feel at home wherever I land
Lara came down for a few days to help me move the small things, and a group of men from my church came and moved the furniture. What a blessing that was !
As everywhere else, I suspect, our weather is not as it used to be.
Our hottest month is usually June, and we get our
“monsoon” rains in July and August. This year was hotter in July and most of the rains came not until Sept. It is finally cooling off, but has been mostly sunny and nice up to now.
I’m feeling my age more and more as I‘ve had several annoying health problems this year; nothing life threatening, but things that have sapped my patience and my energy. In July I had heart tests, including a heart catheter. All year I have struggled with wax build-up in my ears, sometimes blocking my hearing completely. Several times I had to go back to the doctor to have them cleaned out, including one time when he had to send me to the hospital and knock me out in order to get the wax out without causing excessive pain.
I am experiencing also more back and leg pain and find it harder to walk any distance or be on my feet for long. Not sure what that bodes, but I try to take it one pain at a time. (smile)
The end of Sept. was the most exciting time of 2016 for me. Lou’s family decided that since we were denied a chance to gather and grieve after she died, that we would get together anyway. Since we all had planned to go to New Orleans on the 29th to celebrate her 80th birthday with her, we went anyway, even though she was only with us in spirit. Her oldest son, Mike, his wife and 2 children came, as did her youngest son, Doug, with his wife and two children. So, Lara and I made 10 and we had a lovely family reunion.
Lara and I decided to drive, but it was a fast trip as she had only a week left of vacation this year. We managed to cram a whole lot into our short time, however. We made a short stop in Little Rock, AR at the Clinton Presidential Library. Neither of us had been to a presidential library before. It was quite impressive.
Next, we stayed over in Vicksburg, MS and spent a morning touring the Veteran’s Memorial Park, which is a huge place stretching over several miles of the site where the famous Civil War Battle of Vicksburg took place. It was a long siege which resulted in victory for the northern army and their regaining control of the Mississippi, a key supply route.
The next day we arrived in the New Orleans area, but as the rest of the family had not come yet, we decided to tour a Civil War era plantation, which was fascinating.
We only had a couple of full days with the rest of the family, but we enjoyed each other and shared memories. At dinner on the 29th we toasted our mother, grandmother, sister and aunt with an appropriate Irish toast.

CHRISTMAS (2016)

they’ve all come to the party
as they do every year
to climb dutifully up on the tree

a crystal dove of peace settles
on a branch next to a Santa
who is kneeling at a manger

wondering why he is there along with
balls of native design, sporting bear claws
and kokopelli in nambe

stylized clay bears hang along side bells
ringing Feliz Navidad near tiny white
lights and red chiles

we all gaze fondly across the room
to the table by the window where
another group of regulars has gathered

they find their places, knowing
that of all those at the party
they are the most important guests

Mary and Joseph look down once again
on the tiny baby, beside well-dressed kings and
a rough shepherd who brought a cow

and a sheep along, staying a safe
distance from the kneeling camel.
the month of lights and good cheer

will soon be over. Then they will all go
back into their boxes while I
make them promise to come again next year.

It’s Over !

Well, it is all over. (In more ways than one.) The whole of America was getting so disgusted with the political process as it was practiced in 2016. I’m not holding my breath, but I am praying that someone will get smart and help to change things.
When I think that over a billion dollars was wasted on this election, I wonder how much good that money could have done if given to a worthy cause.
Since I am Canadian, I have a preference for the parliamentary form of government. This 2 party system leaves people pitted against each other and has brought out the hate. My cousin Allen has a super commentary on his blog. (dablogfodder.blogspot.com) He is also an Xpat Canadian, but he lives in Ukraine.
My daughter attends a liberal church where everyone is welcome. Her pastor received a hate phone call two days after the election, telling him that “since there is now a righteous, God-fearing administration in the White House, churches like his can be gotten rid of.” Talk about hate! And fear of the “other.”! How appalling. And I’m quite sure that was not an isolated event. People and churches all over this country who believe that each person is to be accepted as God created him/her are wondering what next? Who will be the first victims of new discriminations?

So….after hearing my daughter tell about that phone call, this is what I wrote:

NOVEMBER 2016

We thought it was over, this hateful time
when the ability to debate without rancor was lost.
Now begins the unleashing of the hounds of hate,
creatures of the night who bare their teeth and lust for blood.

Do not try to restrain them for they
believe they have license now to tear
limb from limb all who live by the law of love,
all who offer the hand of peace.

Well, enough. I had to have my say, I guess. On to a more cheerful note…..believe it or not there are only a few short weeks ’til Christmas. This is my Christmas poem: (one of them)

DECEMBER
here we go again
chestnuts imploding,
tree lights exploding,
dreaming of sleigh rides,
singing carols in our sleep.

it’s that time again,
shopping ’til we’re dropping,
partying without stopping,
eating too much sugar,
and wishing for more sleep.

how did December come to this?

could we live old times again?
allowing peace to find us,
with simple joys and no fuss,
singing Christ Is Born and
Silent Night within our hearts?

Happy Thanksgiving. Let love rule.

I’m Back.

I have been away on a trip and came back too beat to blog. Now I’ll share a little of my experiences with you.
We had no funeral or service of any kind to celebrate my sister when she died a few months ago. So in Sept., on her birthday, the 29th, we decided to meet in New Orleans and toast her on her birthday even tho’ she could not be there.
My daughter and I drove from Albuquerque to NO and met two of my nephews with their families. It was good to be together. We shared pictures that she had collected over the years and memories. I wrote down some of my feelings. It is just a rough draft, perhaps it needs a little polishing, but I’m going to share it now anyway.

9-29-16
today we celebrate my sister,
mother, grandmother, aunt.
today we weep and remember,
we laugh and relive times with her.
she should be here; the hole
she leaves in our lives will not be filled.
overwhelmed by memories, we sit in awe
at revelations of a life we thought we knew.
words she left behind surprise,
for only after death are families allowed
to see the soul behind the role we play.
do you think you know me?
how can you ever know the life
that shaped me before you were born?
the heartaches unable to be expressed?
the struggles and the uncertainties?

we love, we families, but in the end
we are alone. Tears fall
for the sister I knew and
the one I did not know.

I also spent some time in Albuq visiting old friends. I love the mountains here in Las Cruces, but the Sandias, just to the east of Albuquerque, are also beautiful. So I expressed them in poetry:

SONG OF THE SANDIAS

I’m aging now, don’t look at me
so closely. Step back, as you would to
appreciate a lovely older woman.

Go across the river high above
the valley so that I appear
in all my glory–blue, with delicate

shadow when the sun shines,
watermelon pink when the setting sun
shares its glow with me.

Don’t come too close. You’ll see
my rough rocks and hidden ravines.
Like wrinkles, they deny my beauty.

No need to be disillusioned.
Why see the flaws when you can dwell
on the lovely vistas with which I gift you.

Hasta la vista!

Haven’t posted for way too long !

Time has a tendency to fly. I’ve been absorbed with lesser things, and haven’t had time to learn more about this blogging business, let alone add a post to the existing blog.
Now I’m preparing to go on a trip to New Orleans with my daughter, and will be gone a couple of weeks.
We are still having hot weather here in the sunny southwest, altho’ the nights and evenings are getting a little cooler. It is hard to know what to wear from day to day as the temperatures vary so much this time of year, let alone know what to pack for a trip.
Anyway…..here’s a couple of poetic offerings.
I had the extreme joy of spending 3 weeks in Ireland in 2008, and this is my impression of Dublin:

DUBLIN TOWN

It strikes you first, the contrast,
the old and the new.
Ancient, soaring cathedrals beside
internet cafes and designer boutiques.

Narrow cobblestone streets between
juice bars and coffee shops.
Sounds of many tongues mingle with
the soft and rolling Irish burr.

And oh ! the traffic!
The brave but foolhardy pedestrians dash
headlong into the maelstrom of cars and buses.
(there is a crossing signal, but,oh well.)
Taxis weave and dart through cars
inches apart in narrow lanes.
A nervous rush of humanity and machine mixed
in an unholy blend of confusion
on streets whose names change with every block.

The Celtic Tiger roars here, claiming
Dublin for the 21st century
while short miles away sheep graze on placid hills
and history yawns.
* * * * * * *

Unfortunately, the Celtic Tiger no longer roars today, but it was back in 2008 !
On a totally different note, here is one I wrote just today. The form is called a “nonet” because there are 9 lines with 9 syllables in the first line, 8 in the second, and so forth, on down to just one syllable for the last line.

None of us have a ghost of a chance
to get out of this world alive.
Oh, I’m sure that you know this
and yet you still feel free
to close your eyes to
the reaching hands
of those who
need you
most.

August 13, 2016

 

Mountains in the Morning

Most mornings our mountains look sharp
and rugged against a clear blue sky.
Today they are the background
in an impressionist painting,
A smudged outline of their usual selves
Behind a screen of mysterious mist.

The wind will blow the mist away later
And the mountains will shout
“See! I am here,
as I always have been.”

********************

Yesterday, the mountains were misty indeed. Some of it is smog I’m sure. But now we have had some rain at last! So the sage is starting to bloom. All over town the rain awakens the sage and it breaks out in glorious purple. I love the sight.

August already !

I often wonder what I could say to make my blog more interesting. It seems my life is quite boring just now. One could talk about current events, I suppose, but most of what is in the “news” just now doesn’t bear talking about, let alone thinking about !
I better stick to poetry. ………

GO TO THE ANT

I almost stepped on it…
a small twig, upright,
moved across my path,
held aloft by a determined ant.

Tall as a tree it must have been
to him, but he struggled on,
waving the twig bravely,
doing what few ants
had done before.

I am not determined and brave,
I cannot balance trees,
but as I struggle to cross my paths,
I am sometimes noticed,
but often stepped upon.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Yesterday I shared a poem about how I love clouds. Here’s one to add to that:

the clouds are only sheer curtains today
reduced by winds aloft
to filmy angel wisps molted
by some celestial bird
they pattern the sky like
abstract art.
I want to spin and dance with them.