Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Velvet Night

In an old part of the city one of the best spots to work is by the window of a creaky-floored, tin-ceilinged all-night cafe. The square, real window panes have Christmas-light-edging around the view of a snowbanked, pavered street and narrow shops on the other side with their evergreen and twinkling garlands. The sidewalk below glows from the warmth that invites friends and lovers and tattered wanderers alike. Good music, bursts of laughter, and pleasant voices telling stories mix in.

Some friends come by, pull chairs close, and tell about their ice-skating at the city rink tonight. Earlier today I had promised I'd buy them coffee afterwards. Stories of hockey (haw-key) come up. I recall mine, having just bought a hockey puck at the Red Shield (Salvation Army) store--not just any hockey puck, though. It's a genuine, used, CHA, maple-leafed gift for one of my brothers, who is a collector. We grew up skating every chance we could get, and I think of the Fire Department flooding for rinks and how we brought sack lunches and delighted over free hot chocolate at the warming booth. Each new season, we traded in our outgrown, used skates for used skates that pretty much fit depending on how many socks were worn, at the ACE Hardware. How they made a little money was charging for blade sharpening and selling blade covers. I tell them about the scar on my chin--how I got it playing hockey--high-sticked after making a goal, no less. And, being on crutches right now stinks. So we laugh and talk about skating, life, love, and family fun. They tell me how much they love that their mother can kick someone in the seat of the pants and the person will thank her for it later, because, of course, she only does it because she loves them. Their mother, the former Dairy Queen of New York State, rode the train to Chicago and sat on Santa’s lap at Macy’s while I took a picture. There was no line, and Santa was amiable. Two middle-aged businessmen, apparently foreign visitors, observed and pondered our “custom.” One of them took out a camera and made a souvenir photo, while the other one sat on Santa’s lap . . . all the same . . . smiling and wishing and hoping.

Pushing their chairs back away from the little table, they linger on goodbye. Midnight mass, Christmas Eve--you'll call us, ok?

Outside, the ribbon ends of red velvet Christmas bows, softly flapping, frame the winter night.

12-23-09, 12AM

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Unexpected Gift

I ventured out his morning to see how much slickning the icy rain had brought. I saw something unusual and thought, "I should take a picture. That's wild." I went back to wrapping presents, humming Christmas songs, when it came to the The Twelve Days of Christmas. Then, it hit me. That odd thing I saw--was that a partridge in a pear tree? I believe it was! (See:

Happy First Day of Christmas!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The First Snow

December 3 brought a favorite day and a favorite poem:

The Coming of Light

Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow's dust flares into breath.

Mark Strand

Saturday, November 21, 2009

For Jean

Mother to Son (Child)

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps.
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now—
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

Langston Hughes

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rise and Shine

"The sun never sets. It is we who rise and think to shine."
Earle Birney, in The Old Farmer's Almanac 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Beautiful Pomegranates

How to eat a pomegranate. So far, nothing beats fresh, like an orange. Umm, crispyluscious. I've never heard of anyone getting sick from eating too many. (?) While expecting Molly, I ate 3-7 oranges a day the last three months with no apparent afteraffects, my only scientific basis.

Pomegranate cheers!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Spirit in the Sky

It seems lazy, and it is kind of, but I'd put this one in my favorites, too. Song of the Year for 1969:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Radish Leaves

Fast-growing, easy, tasty. :o) Mmm, eating a salad of them right now--sprinkled with black raspberries picked from the thickets, almonds, feta cheese, thinly sliced small green onions, fresh ground pepper, sea salt.

More ideas:

Steam garden fresh radishes for a few minutes, add the greens (well-rinsed) for a few more minutes, and then serve them with butter, a little salt, and gratings of coarse pepper. They are absolutely delicious - a whole new vegetable for the table!

Grandmother's Radish Leaf Soup

* 3 large bunches radishes
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1 very large onion, chopped
* 4 russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, chopped
* 3 cups water
* 2/3 cup milk

Cut leaves from radishes and wash well. (Reserve radishes for another use.) Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add radish leaves and sauté until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add potatoes and 3 cups water. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Puree soup in batches in blender. Return to saucepan. Mix in milk. Stir over medium heat until hot. Season soup with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pavement vs Me

Now I think I need a different bike but, oops, my pavement says I don't. Thanks for the inspiration, Mark--here's to dreams!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stravinsky's Birthday

The artwork on June 17, commemorating Igor's birth, by someone special at Google. Love the all the horns, especially the French horns in this piece:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pennies IV

How long can this "lucky penny" thing last, I wondered. Finding them so often, I started noting the calendar for fun. My mind would even calculate ahead how many more days could pass without finding one whenever I'd pick up a larger denomination.

One day, after I'd gone for about a week without finding any coins, I began thinking, guess my life is not really that special, oh well--maybe a quarter next week will make it up. Later that day I went to pay a bill. When I handed over the check, the lady said, "Oh, it's you. You're the one, the winner!" I was puzzled. A scruffy customer next to me growled, "Just accept it." "It" was a lovely lidded Italian glass jar filled with JellyBellies, the number of which I had guessed a month before, a part of the Easter decor. As she handed it to me, she said, "Wait, there's more--you also get a $25 Meijer Gift Card!" I swallowed my giddy laughter as I nodded to the man and thanked the lady very much.

Once outside, I laughed so hard I felt 10 pounds lighter. God has a sense of humor. The next day, I had my students calculate how many days of "lucky pennies" I'd been given. 2,500 days, of course--almost seven years. Everyone loved the JellyBellies.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Happy June Chickencrossingtheroad Jokes

Loved 'em since childhood, like pumping high while standing on a board swing. I give extra credit for new (or made-up ones--ha) brought to class. Like: Why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other slide.

Here's a neat one from a friend. :o)

Saturday, April 18, 2009


All I'm going to say is, if you don't like the taste of "light" products and thought brie cheese with the delicious, edible rind couldn't get any better, try President's new Brie Light. It has "50% less fat & 30% fewer calories." BUT, mmm, best of all, it TASTES BETTER than the original! Of course, all I had to go with it at the moment was apple juice. Still--the label said "not from concentrate" . . . Cheers!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cartwheels on Steroids

I did promise a couple of friends that I'd do cartwheels on their front lawns when I am well again. Now I'm on steroids. Wonder if it will make any difference. Ha. I also have an inhaler to take with me to school. My doctor sent the "release" after he saw me today, so I'm going back tomorrow.
A nice cup of coffee at 6:15 and look out, kids!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Flame of Burning Love

Although I didn't attend church this morning, I was deeply moved in reading this little book from Fall River Press: Mother Teresa, Her Essential Wisdom.

"The sunshine of God's love . . . the hope of eternal happiness . . . the flame of burning love. Easter is this joy. However, you cannot have joy without sacrifice. That is why Good Friday comes before Easter."

"Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of Christ risen."

"I love all religions but I am in love with my own. If people become better Hindus, better Muslims, better Buddists by our acts of love, then there is something else growing there. They come closer and closer to God. When they come closer, they have to choose . . . Gandhi once said that if Christians lived according to their faith, there would be no more Hindus left in India."

"To smile at someone who is sad; to visit, even for a little while, someone who is lonely; to give someone shelter from the rain with our umbrella; to read something for someone who is blind; . . . to write a letter or take the mail for someone, or bring a flower to somebody, or wash clothes for somebody, or clean the house--small things, but God sees everything great."

"Today somebody is suffering, today somebody is in the street, today somebody is hungry . . . today somebody is lonely."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

John 16:33 (KJV) "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

John 16:33 (NIV) "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

John 16:33 (NLT) "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sleeping = Fighting Bears

OK. "The Bear" has a mean teammate, "Grizzly,"
aka P-neumonia. The good news:

Dr. : I'm ordering a powerful antibiotic for you . . . and you don't also have mono.

Pharmacy: Insurance pays most of the $170 for the 10 pills.

School : Please don't return until your doctor faxes a release note.

Sweet dreams, everybody. xoxo

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Dozen Steven Wrights for TLC

~I used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn't park anywhere near the place.
~I went to the museum where they had all the heads and arms from the statues that are in all the other museums.
~My aunt gave me a walkie-talkie for my birthday. She says if I'm good, she'll give me the other one next year.
~I had some eyeglasses. I was walking down the street when suddenly the prescription ran out.
~Smoking cures weight problems...eventually...
~I intend to live forever - so far, so good.
~I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.
~I took a course in speed reading. Then I got Reader's Digest on microfilm. By the time I got the machine set up, I was done.
~I went camping and borrowed a circus tent by mistake. I didn't notice until I got it set up. People complained because they couldn't see the lake.
~Today I dialed a wrong number... The other person said, "Hello?" and I said, "Hello, could I speak to Joey?" They said, "Uh... I don't think so... he's only 2 months old." I said, "I'll wait."
~Two babies were born on the same day at the same hospital. They lay there and looked at each other. Their families came and took them away. Eighty years later, by a bizarre coincidence, they lay in the same hospital, on their deathbeds, next to each other. One of them looked at the other and said, "So. What did you think?"
~I can remember the first time I had to go to sleep. Mom said, "Steven, time to go to sleep." I said, "But I don't know how." She said, "It's real easy. Just go down to the end of tired and hang a left." So I went down to the end of tired, and just out of curiosity I hung a right. My mother was there, and she said, "I thought I told you to go to sleep."

The Upsides

of viral meningitis . . . aka THE BEAR :O

sleeping, sleeping, sleeping
hearing songbirds, geese, ducks, turkeys, seagulls, muskrats, and squirrels . . . with nests near my window (tweedle, wockle, quackle, gobble, swoosh, swish, scribble)

friends and family with TLC and jokes (see some of Steven Wright's next)
no make-up needed with fever blush

hot Mike's Hard Lemonade with honey
thinking, praying, sleeping

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Impossible Takes Longer

The difficult is what takes a little time; the impossible is what takes a little longer.
Fridtjof Nansen, Peace.

Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star.
Paul Dirac, Physics.

In any case, let's eat breakfast.
Isaac Bashevis Singer, Literature--to his wife on hearing he had won the Nobel Prize.

From a joyful compilation of Nobel Prize Laureates' quotations by David Pratt

Monday, March 16, 2009

Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire

Oh, it's good. Makes you feel better about being at, PTL, a 24-hour Meijer after midnight, picking up guinea pig bedding or something for the next day's lessons and being called cuckoo. Rafe Esquith can often be found at the 24-hour Home Depot. Here, from his slim, entertaining, and worthy book:

We can do better . . . true excellence takes sacrifice, mistakes, and enormous amounts of effort. After all, there are no shortcuts.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Heads Up

From the edge of crumbling asphalt acres to pitted sidewalks caulked at empty windows, there was nothing but mountains of haggard snow out of whose summits rose lampposts that could still be seen beyond the interstate. Under ubiquitous clouds enveloping shammers, scammers, and radio yammers unraveled a long prayer walk. Upon the sigh of its last yearning prayer request there was something after all. Shining. The amen. It said, "In God We Trust."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Farm Night with Baby

Tick tock
Dream shock
Awake blick
Asleep block
Midnight click
Moonlight clock
Blanket quick
Frantic frock
Cramp leg kick
Cold foot sock
Baby sick
Cradle rock
Flutter wick
Stumble talk
Nestless chick
Lonely walk
Starry crick
Foggy flock
Freckles’ lick
Backdoor lock
Climbing stick
Stairway stalk
Eyelid plick
Body balk
Pillow thick
Feather dock
Tick shhh
Tock shhh
Zick shhh
Zock zzzzz

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Penny Dreams

If dreaming of finding pennies counts, there were two. They appeared during the night before my trip to the Lemmon-Holton Cancer Center for a sudden lump last Thursday. Numerous digital xrays, diagnostics, and two ultrasounds later, there was no hint of surgery where incisions had been made before, only free valet parking and Douwe-Egberts coffee, views of large flat-screen tvs, lighted ceiling art, the city, and the beautiful, beautiful blue sky. Oh, and my plastic amusement park bracelet.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Penny Report

The green indoor-outdoor apartment stair carpet is not always trip-free after a weekend of visitors. This weekend it was an impromptu charm bracelet or a Miro or a Klee all the way down three flights and out the door. A pinata had broken somewhere, it's happy owner not knowing that all the way out, small plastic trinkets mixed with crepe paper and candy were trailing through, and into the snow. Near this living, charming snow painting lay a penny--maybe gravity had also had its way on the pinata's cashola. So that was one wet penny.

The penny before this one sat by the molding under the Goodwill counter. Gave it to the cashier.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Quote from CREDO by William Sloane Coffin:
"Clearly the trick in life is to die young as late as possible."

Really great writing by Rick Bragg:
All Over But the Shoutin'
Ava's Man

Monday, February 16, 2009


About one-fourth of the way down County Road 900 South to Slater's Market, with baby Eli frontpacked, Emma and Molly in the double stroller nibbling graham crackers, and Jesse walking, making longstemmed grasses whistle, we'd pass the Kissing Tree. It was really two parallel trees that barely touched, except slightly, at two large branch cuts that had healed into facing, well, "kissing" doughnuts. Then someone of us would always exclaim, "There's the Kissing Tree!"

It was beyond old Mr. and Mrs. Hossler's place where Ruby tended the neatly arranged, large garden, with some of the tallest, prettiest flowers we'd ever seen. He, "Pardon my French" Ed--he said that a lot because he'd slip most every conversation and say something he really meant to not say, was rarely seen driving his truck. They say he'd started drinking years ago when they lost their beautiful little five-year-old daughter. It wasn't a disease. She just fell out of the truck's open door as the then-young Mr. Hossler was driving up State Road 14. The Kissing Tree helped us forget about that awful sadness.

Seventeen years later, it is so grown together and intertwined that it's hard to distinguish which branches belong to which tree. You can still see the kissing part.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Overheard and Spumoni

I used to listen for hours to the Sunday afternoon/evening discussions of L. Grampa (Papa/Paul), my Omi and Opi (Rose and Otto Wilde), Opi's twin brother Onkel Willie (William Wilde), his wife Tante Vickie (Victoria), their brother Onkel Emil (Emil Wilde) and his wife Tante Lieschen (Liesel) at Onkel Emil's dining room table, while drawing or coloring in the front room. I'd listen to L. Grampa and his closest friend Onkel Herbert toss around ideas till all hours of the night in the living room of our house on Brohl Street. I'd fall asleep on the floor of my bedroom, listening from under the door to L. Grampa and Uncle Wilmer, or this other friend of his--a brilliant mathemetician, in the kitchen of our house on Susilane.

L. Grandma always hung around with Tante Lieschen and our favorite great-aunt, Tante Frieda (Wilde) Dressel, when we were at Onkel Emil's or at Tante Frieda's house in Detroit. Onkel Alfred Dressel, her husband, was gruff, and smoked cigars downstairs while the rest of us would stick around the dining room and kitchen for the great food, cookies, and table games. There were always fresh flowers on the table. When Onkel Albert would come upstairs, turn on the TV, and watch a ball game, he rarely talked. He always kissed us goodbye, though. His breath smelled like Sen-Sens, and I think he let us help ourselves to the tiny licorice squares when we were there. We could smell the Italian confectionary on the corner from her house, and Tante Frieda (her name means "peace") sometimes gave us money to go get some pistachio, black cherry, vanilla spumoni--a child's fantasy request. Mmm . . . Alinosi's.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pennies from Heaven

Cracked blacktop, dirty, gritty ones,
From muddy gutter water ones,
Surprising, under sidewalk shoes
Seen but left, for whom to choose.
Sunny, windswept, sanded ones,
Streetlight neon-flashing ones,
Coppershiny ones in pairs,
Paired with quarters on the stairs.
Mostly next are tiny dimes,
Found in moonlight's guiding ray.
Then, at least expected times,
A lonely dollar greens the day.
Oh! The grateful thanks in taking,
Ah! Love's hopes are not forsaken.