Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I have to admit I am kind of obsessed by tornadoes.  I fear and hate them but live vicariously to see each photo the storm chasers put up on Facebook.  I am amazed at how much more we know about these storms today then we did in the 70's.

I can't remember the first time I had "the dream"  but I do know it occurred regularly every spring for as long as I lived in Kansas.  It was one of my first reoccurring dreams.  It was my rerun that terrified me and woke me from sleep with my heart screaming in my chest and my breath caught in the depth of my nightmare that was so real to me that I thought I had died.

It was always the same.  I was outside, and in the distance I could see that snake of a funnel reaching for the earth.  I would turn to run and find myself in slow motion, glancing back to see the tornado take on it's evil persona.  It would have eyes, and it's mouth would be yelling in glee at the sight of me, stuck to the earth.

I would desperately try to outrun the beast, but it turned with me and followed me across the pasture, laughing the whole time.  It would grow bigger till it filled the horizon.  It was evil and it wanted me.
It wanted me dead.  There is nothing like the feeling of being chased and not being able to move or move fast enough to escape. I would always wake before it got me, but the terror lingered all my days in Kansas.

I don't even remember the first time I heard about tornadoes.  As far as I know in my childhood we never even went through one.  I do remember Daddy standing on the front porch watching the sky at sunset.  As a farmer they paid attention to every detail of the weather.  It meant prosperity or ruin.  I never remember having to go down in the basement . (Creepy place on the Bentrup farm.)

Even after we moved to town, Lincoln, Kansas, I don't remember any kind of a tornado warning or going through a tornado.  The fear remained though.  It wasn't until I was in Salina, KS that I ever went through an actual tornado.  

The sirens went off, and I was lickety split in the basement under the stair, holding Nikki, our dog. It drove me crazy with fear that mom was still upstairs watching the beast bear down on us.  I screamed at her to get down in the basement, and she kept telling me she needed to watch it.  We had basement windows she could watch it.  I was sneaking peeks at it in between prayers.  It was a monster!  

Then it was gone!

It jumped to a nearby hill and wiped out a trailer court.  (Really, why would you even have trailer parks in the midwest with tornadoes?)  Mom told us we could come upstairs so I went.  We watched out our patio door as all these baby funnels were dancing a jig around the hill with the trailer court.  The trailer court was wiped out, but no lives were lost.  Now I had an actual picture of that monster in my head to view those nights in springtime in Kansas.

After college I moved to Oregon and the nightmares stopped.  Oregon rarely sees  a rope, funnel or wedge.  I call the thunderstorm wussy compared to Kansas.  Houses shook in thunder and night was day with the lightening strikes.  The only damage we get from thunderstorms in Oregon is forest fires, and they don't seem to have the same fear factor for me.  I have been through one of those too!

With the internet now I can follow the storm chasers and watch their videos and view their amazing photographs.  I am in awe of what they know now about these storms.  I think the storm chasers are crazy to do their job.  They must be adrenaline junkies.  If I  caught sight of a tornado I would be transported right back to my nightmare.  I'll take the basement, thank you very much!  Oh and living in Oregon!

Sunday, May 26, 2013


The door
stands locked,
keeping fear,
in the room
with me.
Fear (It),
me from God.

I am locked
with worry,
I am Thomas,
with my unbelief.
I need realia.

I want the nails
to hold me
to the wood.
The spear
me to you.

The lock,
my own doing,
the metal rusty red,
tumblers locked in scarlet,
in my decay
and inaction.

You come
to me
through locked
and fears,

with Word.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Commutative Property

To know nine,
is to know you: 
your gait, your inflection,
the incense of your skin.

I can count the addends:
the laugh, the tease of words, 
the flannel against your chest,
the curl you hated, laying
on your forehead, the spooning
slumber, and the burble of breath.

No matter how I move
them, the commutative property
holds true. ( 3+6= 6+3)
Math IS the final authority.

You can take the nine,
subtract one and get eight.
And in that subtraction
(9-1=8) the child begins
to recognize patterns
from the public records.
The identity property 
always comes next. 
Eventually decomposes
leaves zero.

the same as
putrefy and rot,
the identity of one.  
The identity of zero.
The identity of alone.
(0+1=1, 1X1= 1)

I am the inverse
No addends to clutter,
no numbers to compose,
or decompose, except zero.
For me to be fluent,
(life that goes on),
I need to know the you 
and me that were the same 
as one,
the you and me
of two alone.

There can be no more grouping.
No associative property,
no factoring out,
no parentheses to keep us together.
(3+1) +1= 3 + (1+1)

The numbers render us
cold, factual,
minus emotions.
(We'd like to think)
love, pain, anger,
(sorrow, bitterness)

Squeaky chalk on a board
and chemical death
in the odor of a white board marker.
The numbers and operations are the way
of looking at the death
of a marriage,
thirty two years past.

Friday, May 3, 2013

On Falling in Love with Opera

It's funny how our tastes change as we get older.  What I detested when I was young has now become something of beauty for me.  Maybe it has to do with all the "background schema" I have now.  Maybe it is all those years of accumulated "wisdom' I have acquired.  Maybe it is all my life experiences combined with childhood dreams that have now taken flight.

I remember a conversation I had with a young adult writer at a Reading conference one year.  (I think it was Bruce Colville).  He talked about how he was just now reading some classics and really relating to them and enjoying them.  I think we were talking about Moby Dick.  He expressed the opinion that there are some work of literature that can really only be understood and appreciated as we get older because of our years of experience.  That maybe the 'classics " could only be appreciated and understood with the "older" brain.

I am beginning to think he's right.

I hated opera when I was in my teens and 20's.  It annoyed me to no end.  It grated on my nerves. (Kind of like what rap does to me today.  Smirk.)  Not that I had ever seen the opera live.  My experiences were related to clips played on TV and Bugs Bunny cartoons.

I did see an opera at Vassar Junction.  I was in my 20's.  I think it was the "Ballad of Baby Doe"(?),  an opera written in English set in Colorado.  I was still not too impressed with the genre.

Then came the desert years of my life where I did not see any theatre, much music, no opera, and very few films.  It was the baby years and me trying to fit into a married role with a man who did not care to see any of those types of art.  Consequently, the boys were dragged to a few orchestra concerts, no plays, and very few movie.

Tonight, at the age of 56 years old, I finally saw my first staged opera, and it was "Madame Butterfly" at the Craterian (the Ginger Rogers Theatre).  It was exquisite.  The costumes, the set, the LIVE orchestra, and the singing were amazing.  It helped that there were captions in English, but I think even with out the English I could have figured it out. 

I loved hearing the live orchestra, and the singing was soaring.  It did not grate on my nerves or set my teeth on edge. Instead, I was in awe of the notes hit, the crescendo of the voices, the nuances in the pianissimo of anguish sung by Butterfly.  Just as I railed at the typicalness of some men and the wussiness of men's actions in their inability to be honest to women about what they really feel.  It was the Ugly American.

I started crying way before Butterfly thrust the knife into her chest. I knew it was coming.  I was prepared for the tragedy but that was how moved I was by the singing and music of the opera.

There are some good things about growing old.  I count falling in love with opera as one of the benefits of growing old.  It was glorious! I can't wait to go to my next opera.  I'm not even going to look at any man if he won't take me to see the opera and appreciate it as much as I do now.  

No more deserts for me!