Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Daddy's Mitt

I used to be soooo passionate about baseball when my boys played it in their youth. Their childhood was spent playing Little League, Babe Ruth, and high school ball. I lived at the fields and relish every smack of the ball hitting leather and crack and ping of a metal and wood bats hitting a ball.

It was all tied up with my Dad also. He taught me to play baseball. I remember watching him play ball on a farm team league in KS. Later after he died, I kept his old cracked mitt in my closet and would take it out to play catch with my sister.

The mitt was supposed to be mine, but I lost it to a sister in the many moves after college. It's ok because I know it is just as cherished in her possession as it was in mine. Besides I don't know that it would be a cherished possession for my boys now. And this morning I discovered this poem..

By Emilio DeGrazia
A girl, nine years of wonder
Still on her face,
Stands directly on the bag at third
Running amazed fingers along the wrinkles
Of my old leather mitt.
It is the bottom of the ninth,
And everywhere in the world
The bases are loaded.

I'd like to think and imagine me and my Daddy having this conversation together as if he had never been sick or had died.

Friday, July 25, 2014

My Go to Doggie Death Poem

My go to Doggie death poem. How's that for guilt? I still feel regret for dogs in my past that I could have done more for. Queenie too....

The PARDON by Richard Wilbur 
My dog lay dead five days without a grave 
In the thick of summer, hid in a clump of pine 
And a jungle of grass and honey-suckle vine.
I who had loved him while he kept alive
Went only close enough to where he was
To sniff the heavy honeysuckle-smell
Twined with another odor heavier still
And hear the flies' intolerable buzz.
Well, I was ten and very much afraid.
In my kind world the dead were out of range
And I could not forgive the sad or strange
In beast or man. My father took the spade
And buried him. Last night I saw the grass
Slowly divide (it was the same scene
But now it glowed a fierce and mortal green)
And saw the dog emerging. I confess
I felt afraid again, but still he came
In the carnal sun, clothed in a hymn of flies,
And death was breeding in his lively eyes.
I started in to cry and call his name,
Asking forgiveness of his tongueless head.
..I dreamt the past was never past redeeming:
But whether this was false or honest dreaming
I beg death's pardon now. And mourn the dead.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Your words in complete sentences,
making sense with verb, noun, adjective,
march like tiny soldiers across my brain,
drumming in a heartbeat of anguish,
 anger, attraction, appeal.

They bewitch my brain
and I create conversations
from the littered clothes,
fallen from closet hangers
in my bedroom.

Loneliness is imaginary conversations.

It brings to mind the Super Moon
outside my window tonight,
shining through the lattice blinds
with a heavy glow.
Unbelievable and unreal
in its weight in the night sky.
The causation of cadence.
Language beats upon the strand,
dragging words out to sea
and back again.

My existential Dover Beach.

I am bothered
by the scabrous jolt
of your emails,
The lines of practise
are tiny swords
piercing my frontal lobe.

I want.  What I can't have.

I am bewildered.
Your words are seduction,
juicy and trembling on my tongue.
I wrap myself in their silky strands.
I am plaited in the paragraphs,
roped to the pages of your text.

You stab me with your periods.

I'll take your words,
those deleterious words,
and hang them
with semi-colons from my ears.
The colon will be the needle
through my nose.

Seduce me with your words, and I will follow them across the pages.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Queenie is my old lady dog of 17.  She was my oldest son's 12th birthday present.  He is 28 now.  Just like in "My Dog Skip"  the kid moves away and leaves the dog at home.  They get on with their lives and leave their pasts in the dirt for moms to clean up and take care of.  Another role of a mother: we nurture dogs also.

Sometimes I look at her and wonder if she remembers him and misses him?  I know now I am her whole world.  She can no longer see clearly or hear.  Her bones ache and she is frail on her legs.  A lot of time she stands and stares for the longest time as if to say,

"Now what was I going to do?  Or where was I going?"

As I watch her decline I worry about her.  The biggest worry is,

"When am I going to have to make THE DECISION?"

I worry when she doesn't eat.  I worry when she looks confused.  I worry when she can only walk 50 feet and then look up at me as if to ask,

"Please carry me now."

I come home and always quickly check to see if she is moving or breathing.  I worry every time I have to leave her alone.

I think this is probably going to be her last summer.  The times she is weak seem greater than the times she wags her tail and smile at me.

I know she is feeling pain from her arthritis.  Her last medication caused her liver enzymes to go way up.  Last week I got her some new meds.  These could cause kidney problems.  So yesterday when she would not eat and I did not see her drink my first thought was,

"Is she starting to have kidney failure?"

Today I did not give her the meds just to see.  She turned her nose up at the chicken noodle baby food but did eat a wee bit of honey yogurt.  She drank some chicken broth and Dog Ensure.  She doesn't seem to be drinking as much water.  She is still peeing and had a small poop.  (Can you tell she is consuming my life right now?)

At one point today I looked at her and she seemed so sad and confused.  It occurred to me it may be time.  Just as quickly as the thought occurred, I pushed it out of my brain.

Once she is gone it will symbolically end my past life of husband and family.  She is the last tie left.  I dread the sorrow and mourning I know I will experience once she is gone.  I don't even know how to prepare for it.  I cry now as I even write this down.

I had to make this decision with my Allie dog a year and a half ago.  I know the hurt fades as do the memories.  I still remember the rawness of the loss and the many tears.

I think what I fear the most will be the bitterness I will feel for my son for abandoning her to me and never once checking back on her to see how she is doing.  I fear I will have a difficult time forgiving him for what seems like such a callous abandonment.

What I will do is tempt her with juicy morsels of whatever I can find she will eat.  I will hug and kiss her which she just tolerates.  I will continue to worry about her and plan my day around not leaving her alone too much.  I trust I will know when the time is right to say goodbye to her.

I know the tears and yes, gut-wrenching sobs, will happen but I know the hurt will fade.  She will forever be in tombed in my heart and symbolic of the end of a marriage and family.  For she is now my only immediate family I have left.

Pastor Bill Cwirla told me on the death of Allie that he believed the closeness that man feels toward dogs is a remnant left from the garden before the Fall.  I like that and it gives comfort.

My Queenie Beanie will be my precious memory.  She has been a companion that has never failed me or left me.  She loves me unconditionally.

I won't miss the poop and pee stains on the carpet though.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Today was the Southern Oregon Lavender Trail.   Rosie and I went to 5 different Lavender farms in the Applegate Valley.  We started out in Rosie's old stomping ground Williams, OR where she grew up.  The first stop was Two Sisters Lavender Farm.  It was difficult for us to be impressed with this small lavender farm and I thought they were spendy.  It was because this is what Rosie and I had in our minds: Mt. Shasta, CA and lavender.

Our next stop was Goodwin Creek Nursery in Williams.  Here we had a delicious blackberry/vanilla sorbet.  (It was nothing do with lavender, but it was divine!)  They only sold lavender plants so we did not see any fields.  We had a most interesting conversation with a gentleman about milkweed and Monarch butterflies.  This was the first time I have seen milkweed plants for sale.  In Oregon they are considered to be a "noxious weed".  What they don't realize is milkweed is a staple of Monarch butterflies and with the spraying of pesticides and mowing down of milkweed,  Monarch butterflies are on a decline.    When the boys were little we could find milkweed and Monarch caterpillars.  Now I cannot find them.  Their habitat is being destroyed.

The next stop was one of my favorites and was the farthest out, Luna Blue Farms.  It was quite the chore to get to the lavender so we decided to take advantage of the sun umbrella and chairs.  The first thing we noticed were all the butterflies!  There were 4 varieties of lavendar, but we only noticed the butterflies on one row. There was swallowtail and buckeye butterflies. We sat and watched them frolic through the blooms.  The bushes were alive with honey bees, bumblebees, moths and butterflies.  Soon the farmer came to visit with us and we discussed the lavender business.  It was peaceful, quiet except for the hungry buzz.  Overhead red tail hawks were scavenging in the sky.  It was soul satisfying!

We left Williams and traveled to the town of Applegate.  Eight miles up Thompson Cr. Rd. was the English Lavender Farm.  The lavender was planted on a sloping hill so when the breeze blew the lilac scent was sent down the hill.  It was a freshly graveled road and new "barn".  They served Stim coffee, lavender lemonade, and sold all kinds of lavender products.  Again I thought the prices were spendy.

We decided to not stop at the Applegate Valley Lavender Farm as a sort of political protest.  All the other farms had banded together to publicize and advertise the Trail.  This person decided since she was on the main highway she did not need to pay into the organization.  In other words, she took full advantage of the publicity to benefit herself and not her neighbors.  That's dirty and I would rather not support someone with such callous business practises.

Last on the list was Lavender Fields Forever, which was probably the best organized, best prices, and most user friendly.  They had a food cart, Figgy's, and craft booths.  We were shown how they make the lavender wands by a very nice young lady.  I spent a lot of my money there buying bath gel, mist, essential oil, and patronizing my classroom helper, Susie's craft booth.  My favorite was the cute stuffed bird with the lavender tail!

We ended the day at Fiasco Winery where Chef Jesse Sword had created some quenching lavender iced tea.  We tried his wine marinated shrimp wrapped in prosciutto and drunken apple, smoked chicken, bleu cheese pizza.  (YUM!)  It was a truly lovely day.

We both decided though that NOTHING could beat the  Mt. Shasta Lavender Farms:  The view, the fountain, the free lemonade, the well priced gifts, the lavender and THE MOUNTAIN.   Sorry S. Oregon you just don't have it all.  You can drive 49 mile to Williams or 60 miles to Mt. Shasta.  Go for the mountain!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Another Rubicon Moon

Tonight I went out to Fiasco Winery at Ruch.  I have good friends that work there.  The Chef flies in fresh fish from Hawaii and grills it on a salt block.  I wanted a draft beer and a healthy meal in a safe place where I could take my dog.   I figured if I sat near  Chef Jesse and his kitchen he would look out for me.

Ruch holds a special place for me in my memories.  All three of my boys went to school at Ruch.  We swam in the Applegate River and drove the back roads for the adventure. So driving to Ruch can be bittersweet with memories.

We had our meal and it was very good. Fresh swordfish with baby summer vegetables.  Desert was grilled peaches in a lavender sauce on top of vanilla icecream.  Queenie enjoyed the icecream also.

As I was getting ready to leave the full moon was rising in the east. It is supposed to be a super moon this weekend where the moon will seem brighter and bigger.  It was breathtaking and brought to mind  an earlier poem I had written.  Rubicon Moon.  I think like all good literature it transcends time and can be applicable to different time frames.  I am not saying my poem ranks up there with Dover Beach but in my mind Rubicon Moon has now a new meaning for me.  Just as I am sure it will have a different meaning for me in the future.

I like the poem.  I like the way it expresses my feelings.  I like the way it has transcended the moment it was written about.  I will always have Rubicon Moons.

Full Moon Rubicon
(to do something that commits you to a particular course of action)

Limber twists,
Habits of mind.
You've disturbed my sense.
I can't breath for the desire.
And you are so far away.
I look at that moon.
I would be that shard of light.

"Can you see the full moon?"

My words are careless
in its light.
I can't get them to refract, bend or shape
I am oblique in moonlight,
sloping and slanting in beams
in the night sky.
Avoid objects
that bend the waves of light
at the edge of mountains
(catching beams in their gnarly teeth)

redistributing my energy,
scattering it on the high plains.

And would you gather up that dust of me?
Or leave me in drifts of prairie grass?

I am invisible.
The light sears
Wraps a stroke,
finger cold in moonlight.
Your touch leaves a phosphorus trace,
moonlight green,
Patterns of a Luna moth flying silent
under the radar in the night.

My heart on the beams of refracted light,
Irregular, off beat,
Death strokes my brow,
Caresses my body,
I decay at a touch...


Best Article ever on Reading!

Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered

I was thinking about this song last night.  I was unfamiliar with it till I downloaded Linda Ronstadt ""Round About Midnight".
Most of what I knew of the song was the refrain.  So I googled the lyrics.  Ella Fitzgerald's lyrics came up first.  (I love Ella Fitzgerald!  I have her singing Cole Porter.)

Whoa!  I read the lyrics.  Earthy.  Scandalous. Truthful.  Then I checked out where it was from: "Pal Joey", a musical.

I immediately had a flashback to Southwestern College, Winfield, KS, with Veda Rogers in the History of Musical Theatre.  If I remember correctly "Pal Joey" was considered the first true American Musical.

I've never seen it and vaguely remember it might have had Frank Sinatra in it ?

I decided last night to do more research on the song and the musical.  Linda's version seems a bit tamer than Ella's.  I am downloading Ella's today.  Compare for yourself.

Bewitched, Bothered , and Bewildered by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart

After one whole quart of brandy
Like a daisy I awake
With no Bromo Seltzer handy,
I don't even shake.
Men are not a new sensation;
I've done pretty well, I think.
But this half-pint imitation
Put me on the blink
I'm wild again
Beguiled again
A simpering, whimpering child again
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I
Couldn't sleep
And wouldn't sleep
Until I could sleep where I shouldn't sleep
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I
Lost my heart but what of it?
My mistake I agree.
he's a laugh, but I like it
because the laugh's on me.
A pill he is
But still he is
All mine and I'll keep him until he is
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered
Like me.

Seen a lot
I mean I lot
But now I'm like sweet seventeen a lot
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I
I'll sing to him
Each spring to him
And worship the trousers that cling to him
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I
When he talks he is seeking
Words to get off his chest.
Horizontally speaking
He's at his very best.
Vexed again
Perplexed again
Thank God I can't be over-sexed again
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered am I

(Reprise at the end of the show)
Wise at last
My eyes at last
Are cutting you down to your size at last
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered no more
Burned a lot
But learned a lot
And now you are broke, though you earned a lot
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered no more
Couldn't eat
Was dyspeptic
Life was so hard to bear;
Now my heart's antiseptic
Since you moved out of there
Your chance-finis
Those ants that invaded my pants-finis
Bewitched, bothered and bewildered no more.

Linda's version is quite tame by comparison.

He's a fool and don't I know it
But a fool can have his charms
I'm in love and don't I show it
Like a babe in arms

Love's the same old sad sensation
Lately I've not slept a wink
Since this half-pint imitation
Put me on the blink

I'm wild again
Beguiled again
A simpering whimpering child again
Bewitched bothered and bewildered am I

Couldn't sleep and wouldn't sleep
When love came and told me I shouldn't sleep
Bewitched bothered and bewildered am I

Lost my heart but what of it
He is cold I agree
He can laugh but I love it
Although the laugh's on me

I'll sing to him each spring to him
And long for the day when I'll cling to him
Bewitched bothered and bewildered am I

Men are not a new sensation
I've done pretty well I think
But this half-pint imitation
Put me on the blink

I've sinned a lot
I'm mean a lot
But now I'm like seventeen a lot
Bewitched bothered and bewildered am I

I think I prefer the grittiness and power of the first version.  

I see also that Doris Day, Barbra Streisand, Rod Stewart, Frank Sinatra and Patti La Belle and Vivienne Segal sang it.

I am now going to find the script for Pal Joey and read it.  I don't think I'vee ever seen anyone perform it.  Hat's off to Veda Rogers for teaching me about it and now I must confess something the has been a burden on my heart all these years.

Veda, I cheated on the final test in your class.  I am ashamed.  I am sorry.  I did not deserve the "A" you gave me.  Forgive me please.  I think that was the only time I willfully cheated in college.  The guilt was so high I could never do it again.  Look at me now, 57 years old,and I still feel so badly about it.

I just read Wikipedia and remembered what "Pal Joey ", 1940,  was known for.  He was one of the first "antiheroes" in a musical: a likeable villain.  Gene Kelly played him on Broadway.  There was revival in 2008.  A movie was made in 1957 starring Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayword, and Kim Novak.

There have been a lot of revivals of "Pal Joey" with the book being rewritten.  Research, HO!

A good review history of Pal Joey:
"Pal Joey was a forceful and uncompromising presentation of unpleasant characters and situations; and it offered a seamy side of life in a disreputable neighborhood. This was strong medicine for American theatre audiences in 1940, so long accustomed to only sweetness and light in their musicals."

I knew I remember something about Pal Joey being different but I had it wrong about being the 1st musical.  

It's too bad the movie is suppose to be so awful.  I'm not finding a script yet and I doubt anyone around here is going to be puttig it on. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014



Hate replaces the blood 
running from the heart to head.
It lingers in my toes,
compromised by my Raynaud's.
It settles in my fingertips;
and the hand warmers can't do their job.

Hate hovers on my tongue,
a communion wafer gone sour.
A litany, a chant, a mantra,
I repeat over and over again:

"I hate you."


Hate surges vermillion,
coalesces to blue,
of words frozen
like hard green peas
in plastic freezer bags
on swollen joints.

The hate sears my veins:
a myocardial infarction.
I can't move past the feeling,
and it strips the oxygen from my brain:
Cerebral anoxia killing cells.

Hate murders the muscle memory,
pumps cyanide to the very end of capillaries,
robbing life from heart cells.
The dead is alive in me.


Hate is a zombie life.
The dead walking,
dragging gruesome limbs,
tattered shredded skin, and lipless smiles
to concertina wire fences.

There I hang, bloodless, on razor edges.
A meat hook embedded in my sternum.
Intestines drooping in gangrene slime,
coating the wire of my cross.

I am hate crucified.

and there is no Resurrection
when hate replaces blood sacrifice.


Hate needs a retell.
A breath to kindle blue veins to scarlet,
on a body hung from a wooden cross.
Hate is a bruise fading
to newborn skin, bathed
in the water imbibed Word.

Hate needs an object,
a thing not human,
to correct fairy stories
of red shoes dancing
on a loaf of bread,
sinking in slime 
to the marsh woman's kingdom.


Hate is a changeling
left on a doorstep
for an unbaptized child
clenching iron words
in a baking oven.


The words are memories I hate.
I long to scrape 
them from my brain: a leucotomy
of my hate,
leaving me a truth:
Hate needs to be dead,
in my heart,
in my head.

My life on the cross
has already been done,
through a rip in the side 
and the holes in hands and feet,
in the blood and water
flowing from forever.

Friday, March 28, 2014


I feel empowered this week!  I made a list and I'm crossing things off.  I took my car in for service.  I took Queenie to the vet.  I got my taxes done.  I unplugged my toilet! I set up Doctor appointments.  I got my carpets cleaned.  I did things that I never did before and without condemnation.  What a beautiful, liberating thing it is to be a responsible, tax paying citizen taking care of her life.

I did not have to listen to criticism for doing things wrong or incorrectly.  I did things that needed to be done in a timely fashion.  It made me realize the constant criticism I got from Pat.  I never did anything correctly.  Anybody I chose to do work was condemned and vilified by Pat.

Now it is just me and I did things that needed to be done.  I may have flinched a bit because of residual habits of abuse, but I overcame them.

I am not the person I was 5 years ago.  I am not beaten down.  I like and value myself.

I did not not walk away from my job.  I did not fold my cards.  I persevered. I stuck to it.  I am a beloved child of God.

My sons would not recognize me.  I hope someday they will want to meet this person I have become. I hope someday they recognize the gifts I gave to them:  God, hope, love, and a life worth living.

Meanwhile, I will continue to rebuild my life.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Medford Teacher Strike February 2014


I go back to my room tomorrow and have kids on Monday.  I am waiting to see if I have to make up any days.  I have lots of anger issues over this that I will be working through.  Plus I am exhausted.  It was a great civics lesson and makes me appreciate our Constitution even more.  Yep, I'm a union thug now.  Going to hug and squeeze those kids and do what is right for them and their education because I am in the one in the classroom who knows them and I have the professional training to know what is BS and what is good and right for them.  We are taking back our profession from the people who are clueless about what goes on in the classroom and do not have the professional training or education to know what is good and right for children.  

As a side note out of 600 teachers only 20 crossed the line, and our numbers on the line stayed the same during 13 days of strike.  The others unions say that is unheard in a strike to have such a high percentage go out on strike and keep the same numbers on the line. We are MEA!

Picketing sucks.  It was cold.  It rained.  It snowed.  It's boring. It's heartbreaking to see your kid's faces in bus windows, and behind fences and you can't hug them. It was infuriating to hear stories of the "quality education" going on inside when your CLA tells you of the 6th grade sub who had the kids compare the price of a 64 oz beer to a case of beer. Or the sub(scab) who slapped a child.  Of subs letting them chew gum.  Of subs checking their dating sights on school computers.  Coloring sheets in highschools.  Of our classified staff having to teach the lessons because the subs could not figure out how to do it.  The scabs, and I use it on purpose because not only were they the bottom of the barrel but were only in it for the money, were paid over $300.00 a day plus room, board, meals, training and catered meals.  Money that could have been used to settle a fair contract.

Then there was the waste of money on "rent a cops" to protect the sites and students from us dangerous teachers.  Security people who smoked cigarettes on the school ground and had felony history.

It was unbearable to read the lies about us in the newspaper and on the news from our superintendent when he tells them that we make $102,000. Or that they refused to bargain for 4 days over the holiday weekend, and the school board chair was in Las Vegas for a soccer tournament.  Or watching this timeline unfold that was planned all along by the school board and admin.  That they cared so little for the children, parents , and us .  

On the other hand, the overwhelming support on the streets from our public was amazing 200 thumbs up to 4 thumbs down or the middle finger.  Oh yes we were flipped off.  I even had a 70 year old lady stick her tongue out at me.  Of coffee, donuts, muffins, water, pizza, sandwiches, soup, and checks sent to us by education associations all around the state and country. 

Finally when we lined the streets, 600 strong on Barnett to show our solidarity, with drums pounding, a wall of signs , and hands waving we felt the strength of the most creative, inspiring, loyal, ethical, group of people I have ever known!

Our district could NOT break us.  They kept telling the press how we were going to break and cross over and how we were losing out on 3000.00 a week.  (REALLY?????!!!!)  We stood firm.  We stood tall.  We did not play in their sand box.  We took the higher road.  We did not delete posts off face book if they did not agree with us  like the district did.  We DID NOT lie about the numbers like they did on their web site.  We did not spin the truth to the cameras to make us look reasonable.  We did not sling mud against the people who lied about us.  

We deserve a fair contract that doesn't change 118 things in it.  We deserve to have a COLA after not having one for 8 years.  We deserve to have protected prep time and fair special ed. numbers across the schools. We are self insured.  We don't need a cap on our insurance costs.  We saved the district money on the insurance . So much so they moved millions to the general fund our of our insurance pool.  

Finally, don't just eliminate the early retirement benefit without phasing it out. We only asked for a year. Don't throw your veteran teachers off the cliff.  You gave admin. 2 years to phase it out.  You gave us 3 months. 

We did what we do best- we educated with numbers, we stood up to the bullying, and we used all our skills we use in the classroom to educate our students.  We are teachers.  We are united.  Don't come between us and our students.  We know what is best for them.  We are in the trenches. We deserve to be treated with respect and to have an admin that works with us collaboratively instead of dictating to us every single thing we do. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014