Exploring the poetry of everyday life

Haiku: Underground Spring

Earth warms in secret
Precious green gifts creating
First crocus pops up


Haiku: Daylight Moon

Lady slipper moon
Lingers in pale deep blue dawn
Daylight saving time


When the Lights Went Out In the Greenbriar

Suddenly in the Greenbriar the lights went off, and my music. The refrigerator shuddered and grew quiet. Silence and darkness settled over my dinner, though my candle still burned. Abruptly power returned, as it had in former outages. And then quickly departed. The electricity played this cat and mouse game a few more times before darkness settled in for good. Ironically the lights a block over at the shopping center blinked their neon signs as usual. The view from my window and my candle gave enough light for me to finish my dinner.

That evening a study group from my church was meeting in a neighbor’s apartment. I expected the power would be restored by then. Just in case I located my flash light and my cell phone, whose battery I discovered needed recharging. After a bit when we were still in the dark someone knocked on my door to be sure I was OK. I looked out in the hall and saw more people with flashlights checking on neighbors. The group gathered in the dimly lit hall reminded me of a bunch of miners in an underground tunnel.

I went to check out if our study group still planned to meet. The leader, who lives elsewhere, was at my neighbor’s door. He had given another member of our group a ride since her electric garage door opener was a casualty of the outage. With our elevator also a casualty she was doubtful she could navigate the stairs to the fourth floor. We three took the stairs down to the lobby and found it was full of people in need of company and information about when the electricity would be restored. The doubtful member of our study group decided she didn’t want to miss our meeting and all four of us trudged up the four flights of stairs together. Except for the leader three of us are golden agers. Our hostess lit candles and offered us a glass of water. (Coffee pots require electricity.) I brought some cookies left over from a book group meeting the day before. And another Greenbriar resident joined us with a Coleman lantern to light our way. That was the first night without power.

Morning came and it was a bit colder in my apartment. The water from the kitchen faucet was cold as ice but still running. I made instant coffee with room temperature bottled water and was grateful for the caffeine. I didn’t plan to open my refrigerator door so my stash of Lean Cuisine would stay frozen. Instead I scoured my pantry for possible breakfast food. Someone had given me a mysterious jar of grapefruit marmalade. I spread some on bagel crisps, also leftovers from my book group. It was delicious. How could I ever doubt grapefruit? To go with it I found some trail mix made of dried fruit and nuts which was as close to protein as I could get.

The self-appointed care-givers were up early and had gone to Starbucks for coffee. An angel from across the hall knocked on my door and poured hot coffee into my mug. She said I would find bagels and cream cheese in the lobby. Someone had a gift certificate from a Bagel Shop that she had cashed in. I walked down the stairs and found a party in progress. People had put more chairs around the large round table in the lobby where a crowd had gathered for the impromptu breakfast. I discovered a friend that was going to the public library to charge her phone who was glad to charge mine as well. Finally I would have contact with the outside world. I learned that a transformer had blown the previous evening in the midst of the snow and ice storm we were having and left two thousand people without electricity. No one was clear about when the power would come back on – maybe that night or even the next day. I hunkered down to read and do word puzzles until afternoon when we word puzzle ladies would join to play our game. When the sun went down taking the light with it we went home to our apartments to figure out what we had for supper. Some people bailed and went to stay with family or friends. And some of us made do and waited.

I ate a makeshift supper by candle light. Afterwards I tried to read with my flashlight until I got sleepy. It really was peaceful with none of the usual noise that electrically powered things create. I looked out my window and to my amazement saw stars everywhere and an almost-full moon. One thing I miss living here is seeing stars. The bright outside lights on our patio blot them out. I thought seeing the heavens full of stars was not such a bad tradeoff for the loss of electricity. I said good night to the moon and went to bed.

In the middle of the night I woke up and realized that the lights were on and the furnace was running. I got up, reset my clocks, checked on the Lean Cuisine in my refrigerator and went back to sleep. That was the last night of the power outage. I awoke to my usual day. Ordinary never felt so good.


Haiku: Forecasting the Weather

Sunny and warmer
Patio transitioning
Holiday lights gone

No bulbs blink nightly
No snowman, sleigh or reindeer
Live in the ivy

March will soon arrive
With its annual snow storm
On St. Paddy’s Day

Not out of the woods
Winter weather still lingers
Aye, but we can dream


Haiku: Sensing Gifts

Rain pings window pane
Feet warm in old moccasins
Feel softness of sox


Saga of an Odd Mom

Once upon a time, I was born in Houston, Texas. We lived a Saturday Evening Post – Reader’s Digest sort of existence in a residential area of the city. When I was ten years old my dad decided he wanted to be a farmer and moved us to Greenwood, Mississippi where a friend of my mother’s who had been her Matron of Honor in their wedding lived.

The Mississippi Delta was an eye-opening world for me. It was a William Faulkner – Carson McCullers version of the deep South with a hint of Margaret Mitchell thrown in. My female friends and I pulled in our belts to have a seventeen-inch waist like Scarlett O’Hara. I read Gone With the Wind religiously every three years. People prided themselves on being eccentric and worldly-wise. One of my parents’ friends who lived on a cotton plantation in a neighboring county was the only subscriber of the Wall Street Journal in the entire county. My parents found a place for themselves on the fringes of society. My friends were so unusual I felt the only thing outstanding about me was that I was perfectly ordinary. I also made good grades and was declared the “Most Intellectual Girl” my Senior year in high school.

My college years passed and phased into marriage and family. That was the expected order of things. In college I was an English major, continuing my life-long love of reading. I married my childhood sweetheart – though no fireworks lit up the sky. I gave birth to three sons. Being Mom is the center and soul of my life.

Years passed. My sons began to engage life on their terms. I found space to have my own dreams and allow myself to follow them. God had long been an important part of my being. However, I felt something was lacking in the church I belonged to. I embarked on what I called “my conscious spiritual pilgrimage”. A Pastor at the church told me of a retreat center that offered an amazing new way of bible study. It transformed my life. I decided to study at a theological seminary with the intention of becoming an ordained minister. I thanked the excellent student I once was and upon whose shoulders I now stood. I never doubted I would accomplish my goals. I did. I became Rev.Mom.

I celebrated my fiftieth birthday while I was in seminary. My faculty advisor asked what I wanted to do now that I was fifty. I answered “Become an original”. I wanted to quit living up to what I thought was expected of me. I wanted my “no’s” to mean “no” and my “yes’es”, yes. Several years later, after parting from my childhood sweetheart husband I followed my bliss to Chicago to marry another class mate from Greenwood whom I had run into at our 40th High School reunion.

My second husband and I traveled – a lot. We were in Denver at the Naropa Institute when I heard the poet David Whyte read some lines of his poetry. “Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you.” The “small, bright and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart.” The original of me!

Again I moved on from marriage and moved back to Cleveland where I had lived with my first husband. Two of our three sons live here with their families. I did not want to get to the end of my life without living close to my grandchildren. I chose not to end life as a bitter old woman.

Five years ago one of my sons suggested I start a blog. My first theme was the David Whyte quote and a major category was Becoming an Original. I was still on that path. And then a light bulb blazed.

Last Sunday I invited my sons and their families to join me for a local production of Godspell held in my church’s basement and then pizza at my apartment afterwards. In conversation around the table the question of the dates of their dad’s and my birthdays arose. One is on the eighth of February and the other the ninth of December. They had just missed their dad’s because of the confusion. My oldest son Bob said he had a way to remember – his dad’s is the even date 8 because he is sort of square. Mine is the odd date 9 because I am odd. I pondered his meaning for two days and then asked him in what way am I odd. He replied that he knew his mom was odd a long time ago. Other mothers didn’t go to a mountain retreat center that the Appalachian Trail runs through and certainly not to Chicago to attend seminary once a quarter for five years. And then I got it. Odd in his eyes is not a bad thing. There is nothing like your child’s “getting” you. I am on top of the world. It’s like finding the bluebird of happiness in my own backyard. I am even forgiving myself for not being a typical grandmother. As I consider how my sons’ lives unspool I realize that I passed on some of my oddness to them, and even to my grandchildren.


Haiku: Down to Earth Dawning

Pinking horizon
Silhouetting dark tree-line
Street lights still burning


Haiku: Breakfast of Amateurs

Eggs over easy
The flipping an act of faith
Sometime yokes on me


Haiku: Artistry of Time

Gray hair silver now
Wrinkles sketch abundant years
Golden-aging’s gifts


Haiku: Reprieve

Still, chill Saturday
Snow stopped, temps creeping upward
Stray sunbeam or two