Monday, May 15, 2023


My life has been scattered with ‘shoulds’. I rail against them when I find them. My ear is sensitive to the word. A red light flashes at the sound of a “You should…”.

When I turned eighty, something happened to me … or rather… I did something. Something diaphanous, driven by some niggling fear of ‘shoulds’ I’ve never known about, lived under all my life unaware. Like mosquitoes in a dark bedroom you can’t see but you know they’re there.
When I turned eighty, I retreated into myself. At least that’s one way to describe it. I set out to uncover and release myself from the dictatorship of ‘shoulds’. It was difficult to distinguish between ones I wanted to keep and ones I’d picked up that have been hitching a ride these seven decades or more. I wound up retreating from many obligations. I let some people down.
I went on a vacation that started at a pagan festival and a hash brownie I thought would be best eaten whole after someone told me, “You should only take a quarter.” Two hours later I was laughing hysterically at how I’d taken on his ‘should’ as a challenge and refused to think he might have been right. And the voice in my head saying, “You should have listened to your mother,” and marvelling at how a ‘should’s’ power to guilt could snake its way out of the past.
I was in that wormhole when it was interrupted by my friends asking if I was OK. I felt surrounded and safe, joyfully stumbling from gathering to meal to ceremony, followed by an entourage of angels picking up after me, glasses, pants, as I sailed deeper into a mystery. Looking back, the best I can say regarding the mystery is that it was perhaps about noticing how hilarious are some of the ways I defend myself and what’s that all about?”.
And so, at home a short time later, I put myself in that same condition and started to dig for worms. Burrow down their holes. See what jewels might be buried. And over the year the wormholes have opened into gardens and a magic castle with mirrors on the walls of the circular stairs where at each landing you could look at yourself and step into another story.
Somewhere along that stairway I realized I had taken myself back in the same way Merlin lived from end to beginning. And once arrived, like stepping from a darkness into the soft light of dawn dancing behind the mist, the Sun revealed to me my story.
Do we all have a story? Mine became clear, the through-thread that connected it all, the… what do they call it? The over-arching conflict. I saw where most of those pesky ‘shoulds’ were holed up, but that was the least of it.
The jewels I uncovered at first were smothered in filth: frustration, guilt, resentment, darkness, betrayal. But during this year of inner journey into the wormholes of time, this chemical journey, spiritual journey, I came to face trauma differently.
Instead of digging it out and throwing it away I took in the old trauma, replaced the broken parts, gave it a fresh face and played out my story on a colourful stage. And I love replaying the juicy chapters. After all, the traumas are mine, and if it isn’t love, it’s fear.
Perhaps all I did was sweep away some of the fear to discover what was hiding. To relax some it, the fear inherited and transmitted down. Perhaps break the cycle by forming a cycle. The fear is ever a yearning, a cry for love, and I will ever return it.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Weeding Memories


Perhaps it’s my age.  I’m weeding out memories I don’t need.  Memories that bring pain of missing, of regret, of revenge, of guilt.  These days mostly of guilt.

I made a stupid joke to a waitress in Ireland… never mind.  You don’t need to hear the rest.  The upshot is I made an ass of myself and her feelings were hurt.  And here is the 25-year-old memory: the chair I sat in; the darkness of the room; why I made the joke.  What satisfaction I intended to get from thrusting out with this subtle stab.  

I do my best to feel it all, dive into the muck of it all.  Look at myself in it all, what I needed then, what I feared, what was I clawing myself out of?  Digging deep to expose the root.  Hiding nothing.  And judging nothing.

And I forgive myself, for who I was and the part I still am.  Hopefully less of that part of me.

And I commiserate with the waitress.  Up to then we had been in friendly banter.  Did she feel torpedoed?  Affronted?  Did she walk away predisposed to distrust yanks?  I saw her open mouth where no sound came out that told me she didn’t get the joke and thought it was meant for her..

I’m sorry for the role I played.  And yeah it sucks. 

And farewell to you, sad memory, off to a cloudy remote closet somewhere, to rest.

Friday, April 7, 2023

The cat's First Foray


All winter the cat ignores the door.  One unusually warm day I eased her out with a gentle "Here ya go," and watched the window for her scratch to get back in.  Other than that, all winter she is an indoor cat.  Then there is a not-so-cold day followed by a warm day, and the cat sniffs, but saunters by.  Finally, today is the day.  I come in and here she is at my feet, whiskers sweeping with each twitch of her nose as she creeps toward the fresh air in her amazing slow-mo Michael Jackson Moon Walk.

That is how we country folk measure the changes of seasons.  The cat's first foray.

Snow and its inevitable retreat from the sun is another measure.  The day we pack up the cleats and the poles.  The last hurrah to the snowmobilers.  

It is the melting snow that dictates the river that now threatens to overflow.  Every few years it washes out the road, isolating us from civilization.  Two days ago, with a lot of snow on the ground, we had a day of steady rain.  That's the recipe.  If we make it through today we'll be safe for another year.*

And down south it looks like the death of a long dark winter will not warm quietly into the spring.  There may be a messy butchering.  But if a bull is running wild, what can be done?  

And the birth of the new season?  Will we sail in baring an olive branch to those who were taken in by fear and ignorance?  Or will we let our own fear convince us they need eradication?  

*The cat came in at the end of the day.  The river did not overflow.

Friday, March 24, 2023

When the Ark was opened

When the evil Nazi villain, Belloq finally fulfilled his obsession to raise the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, and peer inside, he released a light more brilliant than the sun.  His whole body seemed lit by a million-volt current, and for a moment, his complete form was white, then blue, then dropped to the floor of the cave in a cloud of ash.  There remained for an instant, the ghostly image of his face, written in air.  The face was smiling as if imbued with some kind of sublime, transcendental knowledge.  He had peered into the mind of God in the instant of his destruction, and what he saw brought him to completion.

What had Belloq seen, peering into the Ark, that left him with such a nirvanic countenance of enlightenment?  We might never have known, were it not for an archeologist's discovery of that very cave, and a shard left behind, burnt and crumbling, with signs it had survived an explosion, still big enough for radiologists to conclude it dated it to the time of Moses.  An examination by a philologist revealed from the scratches and scrawls into the stone, that they had a partial tablet from an ancient tome of Deviltry.  And written in an obscure Hebraic tongue, translated as best as can, was engraved: 


So today if you are cajoled and seduced by a homunculus who skuttles up the stairs each day and suckers you into hide-and-seek, smack-the-balloon, chase-til-you-drop….  Remember that when she gleefully shouts:


… in heartless disregard for your red, sweating, puffing face… Remember the good news which popped out of the very library of the Ark of the Covenant, and reply, 

"Last one," 

… as you raise your hands into talons that bookend the hungriest, menacing sneer you can muster… and she darts into the hall, shrieking with delightful terror… and you pray, "The last one.  Please God, the last one."


Saturday, March 18, 2023

Violet's Plan

I look up from my computer to see Violet’s eyes on mine from behind the counter with brows that hold an “I might be about to cry” curve.

“You OK, Honey?”  I get up from my work, head over to sit beside her. 

“I’m feeling scared.”


“Scared of people.”

“But Grandma and I are the only ones here.”  Damn.  I catch myself trying to make her feelings go away, trying to get her to justify or explain, when that is not what this three-year-old who has signaled me with plaintive eyes needs.

“Would you like a hug?  Would that help you to feel safer?”  She does not climb into my arms, but stands and hangs her head, fingers touching pursed lips.

“I have a plan to help me feel better.”

“A plan?”

“Yes, you could play with me.”  I burst into laughter.  She's caught me in my own trap.  If she had just come up and asked me to play with her I would have said, “No Honey, I have to work.”  Apparently, she knows I’ll drop everything for a child in distress.

Now she is dancing and prancing in front of me like a hula-popper with a Cheshire smile.  What can I do?

“OK.  One game of Hide-and-Seek and that’s it.”

Friday, February 3, 2023

The day Aura Celeste died


The Day Aura Celeste Died
I sat in the battered leather chair on the porch,
Damp from a careless hosing of the hanging plants.
I heard the Robin clucking his evening song.
I heard an unfamiliar bird, perhaps babies whining for worms.  

As dusk settled
Two families of coyotes cried to each other across the valley.  
The orange cat perched on his spot on the table, licking a paw and surveying the garden.  

Nothing was out of place on this late spring day,
When the forest displays so many lush, vibrant varieties of green.  
Nothing was out of place on this day that Aura Celeste died.

Only I was out of place… tired, sad, empty, dark.  
A beautiful child who loved to draw, to play guitar,
on the cusp of her teen adventure

And now
And now there will be no more nows.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Water colour


Last August Diana headed a bit deeper into the woods and took a little painting course with her friends. A few days later she emerged with tales of all sorts of trouble and woe. Not having done art, she’d bought some supplies she thought would work, like pencils and pastels, but it turned out everyone was using water colour. So she found herself thrust into water colour with a few brushes and a motley collection of donated tubes of paint.
She hated the lack of precision of watercolor. In her attempt to perfectly recreate reality, she was being hindered by the medium’s very identity: water. It splashes, it spreads of its own design. It dilutes. “Instead of painting lines, I’m painting little strings of clouds,” she said. “Look,” she said. “How are you supposed to get all those colours?”
She started making colour charts. And complained about the foibles. Complained that she needed special paper. And in order to not waste the paint she already had, she needed to buy more colours and brushes … complaining each time that she didn’t like water colour.
So that was August. I posted a video of how it’s going now.
Rather than a fish to water, she took to it like a ewe stuck with some rejected lamb. Eventually the fiery Diana bonded, warming herself to evenings of adventure watching YouTube… how to paint a cloudy sky, a tree, feathers, shadows… and it goes on these chilly winter nights. It looks like what will later be known as her avian period is coming to and end. She accepted the challenge to paint a person. Whatever comes next, we know the ewe and her lamb won’t be parted.