Thursday, December 16, 2010


Dawn S came as I put Cedar on the bus and we left directly for Pine River. It was a lovely ride over good roads. I did two programs and they were well attended. Both groups gave us a full house. Several dear and loyal friends showed up and it was a great treat to look out at their smiling faces.
When I got back home I emptied the mail box of its exciting contents. Cards and notes and a package from Carla D in France. She had sent me four envelopes of postage stamps. Cedar and I will open them tomorrow when she gets back from school.
Flo also sent a package with me and it contained a beautiful doll! There was also a caddie, can of chocolate and a bag of Jasmine tea. What gracious generous friends!
This is the final journal entry and the last blog for Seven Decades. I've enjoyed this so much that I plan to begin a new blog Jan 1, 2011. I'll keep a daily journal and a weekly blog. Thank you who have followed the blog and left comments. Perhaps you will join me again after Christmas.
Good bye for now.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


While going through photos I am setting aside those of my pet friends so Cedar can see how real they are. Now they are but names and stories without breath or bone.
In spite of serious temperature dip the goldfinches are still coming to the feeder. I think they should go south as they are too aggressive for the chickadees. How can the cheerful friendly little ones survive such fierce competition?
I went out early to meet the bus so I could take a ten minute walk. I tried to step in nonslip spots but impossible to avoid ice completely. When I got to the bus stop I was so tense my whole body was a clenched fist. But as I stood in the sun I was soon so warm I pulled off my scarf and removed my old tattered mittens.
Brandon said these were "the mittens you love". He'd noticed that I'd patched them with red felt hearts. I'd embroidered a smile on one of the hearts and he noticed that, too. Not much escaped his quick bright eyes.
I have so many photos of him and twice he has looked up out of an image and brought tears to my eyes.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


"Politics is about the improvement of people's lives, lessening human suffering, advancing the cause of peace and justice in our country and in the world." Paul Wellstone.
Did you know that friends and I visited Marjorie Rawlings home at Cross Creek, FL? Yes, and the oranges were ripe. So each guest was allowed to pick and enjoy a fresh fruit from the tree near her house. Just think of that! My cells were nurtured and restored by Marjorie Rawlings and a single orange. In my life so far I can remember only two such special oranges. The first was found in the toe of my Christmas stocking in 1945 on Franklin Avenue, Mpls, MN.
Today I have spent hours looking at old photos before I lock them away for storage. I think I might never look at them again. How beautiful the children were and always dear and sometimes sweet. Those were my golden years. Then came the grands. But Brandon left so suddenly. Now I have Cedar to love and she is my new gold. And how she appreciates my old stories. She opens both hands to receive them like the black plums of summer.

Monday, December 13, 2010


What a dream! I was at a party with my dog, Armand. We were having a good time. Every time something fun or funny happened he laughed! He was not large. He was not small. He seemed to love me very much but abandoned me later. He had short hair of a dark chocolate color and his ears tipped over at the top. As we tried to leave the party through the back door I discovered two cows blocking the way. They were dead and frozen. It was a shocking sight so I decided to seek another exit. I met a woman who was also trying to leave and had seen the cows. We were walking together when we met my dear old friend Bing (she is long gone to the other side). I told her about the dead cows. "Pooh, pooh!" she snorted. "I am not afraid of such things." She led us out. But Armand would not pass the cows so I went home without him. Soon a young man in a short black jacket was at the door. He wanted to see the stamps I was trying to sell. I showed him a portfolio of stamps and he selected an exquisite strip. They were fairly large, printed on gold paper and the art was highly colored. He went out to get his money from the car and never returned. When I became suspicious I looked into the portfolio and found the coveted stamps were missing.
Cedar came to spend the day with me as she was too sick to go to school. Yes, they do not want such children in the classroom sharing their germs. Only grandmothers can tolerate such children. She spent a lot of time playing with my stuffed dachshund collection. Later she worked on a chalk art project for Laura and wrote two short stories entitled "Bender's Tail" and "The Brave Snowman". I was her stenographer.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


I have received several holiday letters. I find they are missives of the highs and lows. Friends sharing grief and joy at the end of 2010.
I kept myself busy all day. I got a lot done as soon I will be gone again. Gloria brought me a bag of buns and a loaf of bread. I think I will make tuna salad sandwiches tomorrow.
Myrna called and we had a good visit. Now I am so tired again. Where is my energy?

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I enjoyed a wonderful continental breakfast, read my e-mail and suddenly Dawn S had arrived. We went to the Brainerd library. Some very old friends showed up. I'd known them 30+ years before. I nearly wept. I devoured them with my eyes so long hungry to rest upon their beauty. It was a good crowd. Some had brought books for me to sign.
Then Dawn and I were off to Pine River. We picked up her husband Joe. I had another terrific group with some familiar faces. We had late lunch on the road and very fine conversations, They brought me to my door and returned to the long highway home to Brainerd.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Dawn S came to pick me up and we had a pleasant journey over good roads to Wadena. At the library I told 4 stories to 80 6th graders! It was a full house. Afterwards we went to Baxter where a nice room was reserved for me at Hawthorne Inn and Suites. We talked about meeting for supper. But I took a hot bath, called and said I would go to bed early and meet her at 9:30 AM in the lobby.
I dreamed of falling trees. I held the hand of a child in mine and picked our way safely through the trees. When I looked at the child I saw Brandon smiling up at me. I went on avoiding the trees falling around us. When I looked at the child again... it was Cedar. She looked up at me with worried eyes. When I felt sharp sticks strike my face and arms I woke up in a strange room and heard someone running down the hall with heavy feet.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


In the quiet morning I read a bit of Wendell Berry and he wrote that God is showing us mercy when he does not allow us to see into the future. On my long drive to Walker I was on icy #8, then on a very snowy #200. Visibility was poor at times and the road had disappeared under the snow. I thought, "If I had seen this road in my future today I would have stayed home." At the library I waited. It stopped snowing and 60 third graders entered all rosy cheeked and bright eyed. I had a wonderful time telling stories to so many good listeners. As they left several came to thank me. How gracious of them.
Now I am quite exhausted. I feel like I pushed an elephant all around Leech Lake. Yes, I returned on #371, got on #2 and found myself circling Leech Lake on a stormy day.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Today is the anniversary of the day John Lennon was murdered and the international celebration of his extraordinary vision of a world without war.
I worked on the puzzle for about an hour in the community room. C. came to apologize for not attending the pie party. She went on to tell me she is quite sick and does not expect to see Christmas! I was stunned by the suddenness of this terrible news. I stammered my dismay as she backed out of the room. I really can't tell you what images followed her to her room, touching her vital organs and licking her shoulders with a long cruel tongue.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I was at Longville library today (the smallest town in the state with a library). I had another nice crowd. Cameo gave me a beaded buffalo pin. She'd brought her son Joseph, a charming lad who said he would try to tell one of the stories to his father. I keep asking myself, "Which one?"
Cedar came for supper and fell asleep on the love seat. Annie took Geezis to IHS teen clinic in Cass Lake. She has breathing difficulties and painful knees. As predicted, nothing was done but she received a prescription for pain medication which can be purchased at Target without a clinic visit.
Gloria, Randy, Ed and I are still decorating our corridor. Annie came up to get Cedar and said our hall looks better than first floor. "What have they done down there?" I asked. "Nothing," she replied.
While at the Longville library an elder man asked if my books were there. They had one but it was out. The librarian offered to put him on a wait list. He agreed. The librarian soon discovered the man had no card. So she signed him up, issued a card and he would get the book ASAP. What a wonderful moment! A library patron had been created by his desire to read MY book! Wow!

Monday, December 6, 2010


I dreamed a woman... not young... not old... I suppose she was an eternal creature. She walked in silence and came to look at me on the bed. She smiled, held out her arms and embraced me. She looked at me for a long time then leaned down and kissed me. I felt her hair fall across my face. She paused at the door, looked back and smiled in her wonderful way. I think that smile is part of my forever. I have been wondering about her all day.
I'm still working on "Uncombed Hair" and thinking about that early visitor. I think she was some part of me that decided to leave. I think today I am not quite the person I was yesterday. At first I considered if that was good or bad. Now it doesn't matter. It is what it is.
Today I had so much on my plate that I forgot to get Cedar off the bus. When I got home there was a note from the police stuck in my door. "I have Cedar," was all it said. Annie called to tell me the grim details of the fate of the forgotten child. I am forgiven by one and all (but I have not polled the PD).

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Pearl has loaned me a small artificial table top tree. I put it in the front window and how delightfully it reflects its bright beauty against the dark glass at night. The light is produced by bundles of plastic needles.
Today I began work on re-editing "Uncombed Hair", a collection of poems formerly published by Loonfeather Press. I'm going to reissue it as a kindle book. I find myself making small changes. I also find new ways to understand those early works.
Gloria and I put up lights in the 2nd floor hall window. We also put lights in the community room window and hung a wreath.
May S, "Everyone at a certain point in the pre-Christmas shuffle must long to push it all aside and think quietly about friends and loves and ways toward renewal..."
At Stillmeadow Gladys T wrote, "The air is so full of birds one could think them larger snow flakes."
The pigeons swoop in like kamikaze pilots. There are at least 20 of them now. They are quite lovely with their various colors shining iridescent as they strut across the snow.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I had made a beautiful apple pie. Gorgeous! I considered taking a photo. Too vain, I thought as I slipped it into the refrigerator. To make room for the second pie, the less attractive sweet potato pie, I moved a jar of orange marmalade. It slipped from my hand and PLOP it fell, crushing the most perfect apple pie I had ever made.
Did I scream? No. Did I curse? No. I wept for 3.5 minutes. I really have no time for regrets. I wasn't going to tell... but at 4 PM I must present it to those who come to our pie party in the community room and someone will certainly ask, what happened to the pie.
Cedar and I have heard from the Elephant Sanctuary. Jenny, our favorite, died in 2006. Lottie died recently but Shirley is doing well.
The pie partY was a great success. We had several guests from outside the building. I had three guests and Dorothy had two. We ate only half the pies and no one asked for seconds. We sat around talking for almost three hours! It is strange that we don't socialize more because we really seem to enjoy gatherings. Good pie, good friends, good night.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Cedar asked for the broom maker story but we only got to the point where the three thieves follow him and his little girl up the mountain.
I have been awake too long and at 1:30 PM I am already tired. I was unable to sleep due to painful ankle. The goldfinches were sending me pinched and crabby thoughts because there was no food for them on yesterday. This pettiness has settled in my foot. I must accept full responsibility for my pain because I failed to measure out their little seeds and feed them for a day.
Before I go to meet the bus I'm drinking a mug of green tea. We have had a conversation. "I am aware that green tea is a healthy beverage," I said into the mug. "I am sending your health benefits into all my cells. Please pay close attention when you arrive at my right eye. For you see it is quite challenged. You will find macular degeneration and a lemonade cataract. Do your duty." The tea was brief, "I always do."
Getting ready for our pie party tomorrow. I have an apple pie in the oven and a sweet potato pie ready to enter the heated chamber. Pearl is preparing a pecan pie and Gloria a pumpkin. I hope four pies will be enough for all of us.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Instead of taking the Armand book to the bus stop we stood on the cold corner and I told Cedar a story I'd made up about a broom maker, his daughter and three friendly wolves.
May S had visited the Great Smokies and remembered seeing several wild deer "and the dragon tails of mist lying among the hills." Gladys Taber had enjoyed the first snowfall at Stillmeadow. "The old greystone walls silver over, the swamp wears a mantle whiter than foam."
Van Gogh the lonely genius wrote, "I shall not avoid meeting other people - neither shall I seek them." Apparently his brother Theo had written that Vincent had offended their father and urged him to repent. To this Vincent wrote, "No, I really have no time for repenting."
Last night I had supper with Pearl then we walked across the hall to play cards with Evie. Then for the first time I heard Evie complain just a very little about the arthritis that is stealing her hands, her feet, her arms, her legs. "I get angry because I cannot do the things I want to do."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Nov 30. On this last day of November a dear young friend wrote on facebook that she had dreamed of me. We were together dancing in the snow with horses near us. A beautiful image for me to enjoy all day.
Cedar and I had a terrific breakfast of cheese, toast and grapes. Then to the bus stop with a new book to read. It is "The Family Under the Bridge" by Natalie S Carlson. Of our hero Armand we discovered he is an elder man of limited means. Of children he grumps, "Starlings they are. Witless, twittering, little pests." However, he welcomes adventure and I am sure it is upon this peg the tale will turn. One of the things Cedar and I appreciate about Armand is that he lives in Paris.
I knew the weather would be challenging so I decided to leave for Cass Lake at 1 instead of 2. My library program began at 4. Wallis came with me and it was fun to see her grinning from the back row. We had a small but appreciative group in the basement of the library. Some new faces and some old friends looked back at me. I had a good time.
I tried to stay up to greet Chey and Gene on their return from Seattle honeymoon but I was too tired. Under a dark sky with snow falling softly all around I slept and dreamed. I was caught up in a great task of creating a huge beaded hanging table. All night I strung beads.

Dec 1. In the morning I awakened with the great glittering cut glass creation hung before my eyes. The colors were shades of turquoise, amber and sparkling black,with silver and gold, too. It was designed to suspend a circular plate of glass. How beautiful it was. But I lamented all the hours of all the days lost in the creation of such a lovely, fragile useless thing.
I heard happy voices and got up to join Wallis, Chey and Lamaya. Soon Wallis was preparing breakfast and I held a cup of hot coffee in my aching hands. "Why do my hands hurt so much today?" I wondered. It was because of how I'd clutched the steering wheel as I'd crept toward Cass Lake the previous day. I remembered how I'd watched the great hands of the cold winter wind polish the ice before me. Then I'd held that hair thin beading needle all night. I rubbed my hands and told them, "Now we must drive home."

Monday, November 29, 2010


"I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley. And yet for a long time, looking back I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led..." Wendell Berry.
Yesterday afternoon Kathy G called and said she had a gift for me. I walked over and she gave me two bags of cranberries because she knows I love them. I was close to Marlene's so I stopped there for a few minutes. Later as I walked homeward I thought about Paul Simon's song, "She had diamonds on the soles of her feet." Because I was wearing my ice grippers that never wear out.
Today Annie, Cedar and I were on the road again. We had to deliver a pair of moccasins fully beaded by Annie. They were stunning! It was for an elder honoring. Jim S was retiring from the NAYC. Lynn L hosted the gathering and had invited a drum with six singers. We all enjoyed a wonderful round dance. The food was really great! As we sat in a circle of about 40 people I realized that I was the only one wearing red socks. In fact all other socks were black, gray or brown. It must have been a sock standard to which I was not privy. Gifts were exchanged and since we were expecting a winter storm we got back on the road about 3:30. We ran into snow on #73 and came creeping along until we got to Grand Rapids. There the road improved and we hurried on to Deer River, arriving at 8:30.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Van Gogh felt himself imprisoned by poverty, excluded from certain work and many things seemed beyond his reach. Of course, he was often melancholy, empty and discouraged. He was hungry for affection, too. "There may be a great fire in our soul, and no one ever comes to warm himself at it."
Robert Frost wrote, "Ballads lead their life in the mouths and ears of (wo)men by hear-say like bluebirds and flickers in the nest holes of hollow trees." Now there's a splendid gathering of words!
There are too many aggressive goldfinches at the window feeders. The friendly little chickadees are no longer coming.
Van Gogh, "A just or unjustly ruined reputation, poverty, fatal circumstances, adversity - they are what make men prisoners." He also named other ways to cage people. They are the prisoners of prejudice, misunderstanding, ignorance, mistrust and false shame. He often felt cut off from others, shut in, confined, buried. Did the door of his cell ever open? He escaped captivity when he experienced deep affection, friendship, being a brother, love. "Where sympathy is renewed, life is restored."
Two things surprise me about Van Gogh; one of his most recommended books was "Uncle Tom's Cabin", by Stowe, and although he was a young man he sometimes suffered with sore feet.
He had an incredible depth of sympathy toward others and although I haven't seen it in this book (so far) a profound recognition of the sacredness of all beings. A tender compassion for those who work and labor for pennies is a constant thread running through these pages.
The summer I was 11-12 an older cousin came to stay with us in Mpls. We lived on Riverside. One day I discovered him on the phone singing "The Lovesick Blues" to some girl. I was too young to appreciate his lovesick state and laughed at him. This was a nearly fatal mistake and he took to punching me when no one was looking. I told my mother he should go back to White Earth. "Why?" she asked. "Because he's trying to kill me." "Nonsense! You're always trying to make mole hills into mountains." So I started practicing how to lie in a casket. But it wasn't long when our relationship changed and he became my champion! But I almost had to die to gain his sympathy! I had to fall from the limestone cliffs of the Ms. R., dislocate my hip bones, scrape off half my face and break both arms!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Although I know poetry must have drama I find some poetry/poems become remote and obscure when the writer makes too great an effort toward the mystic. At some point it becomes too tedious and the reader will turn the page or close the book. Reading a poem must give me access to some new and wonderful thought or I will not expend the effort it might take to find the level of pleasure I seek in words.
Robert Frost, "Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting."
I do feel that some poets are asking me to climb mountains when I only wish to stroll a pleasant rise.
The goldfinches in their winter feathers have been at the feeder off and on all day. If I left the window open with a plate of seeds on the sill I might get them inside!
April 1876, Vincent Van Gogh, "At half past three in the morning the birds began to sing at the sight of dawn..." I recall a young man telling me of such an experience. I was working in the old Bemidji High School. His eyes shone and he gasped on his words as he told me of this extraordinary personal discovery. It was to him so unique he could have been the first and the last person to hear the birds raise the sun.
Pearl's daughter is in NY for two weeks so I took her shopping. I also did some sewing and washed two loads of laundry. I've been reading "Dear Theo", the autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh. I could wish the type a bit larger.

Friday, November 26, 2010


"And there is life everywhere. A porter with his wheelbarrow, a man who is leaning against the railing of the bridge and looking into the water, a woman in black with a white bonnet." Vincent Van Gogh. Do we see life everywhere? I try. Do I succeed? Sometimes I do!
Robert Frost has a wonderful comment for the poet. "For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn't know I knew." I have stumbled into revelations just like that! I didn't know where I was going and suddenly I was arrived!
I had heard "The First Noel" many times and even sung it. But I never felt it until I heard it expressed by Elvis P. He didn't tell us the shepherds were cold... he made us shiver as we pulled our tattered robes closer around us. He didn't tell us they were alone and alive without hope... he isolated us on the dark slopes and wrapped us in despair. Then he ripped the sky open and we saw the angels coming!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Robert Frost offered this about poetry. "Theme alone can slow us down." He also points out two poetic mysteries. 1. how a poem can have a tune. 2. how a poem can have wildness and at the same time a subject.
At 8AM we were on our way to Hayward, WI, to spend the day with Charles and family. Of course, the food was good and the children played out in the snow. The big bonus was finding granddaughter Alyssa was there. She's seven now. I'd brought a box of small plaster cast dogs and puppies with paints. Charles went out to purchase a pkg of paint brushes. I wanted them to have a concrete memory of the gathering. After dark everyone (except me) played hide 'n' seek. The seeker was armed with a light saber. Some hiders were never found! Charles was really glad to see me! We got back to Deer River quite late and I was exhausted.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I dreamed that Annie, Justice, Geezis, Cedar, Walt Scott and I were in India making a documentary to raise awareness of hunger and shelter issues. We had a jeep and trailer for carrying our equipment. Everyone rode in the jeep but me... I sat on the equipment. We visited several families and were welcomed with affectionate respect. Everyone dressed in their finest clothes and the tables were spread with an abundance of food. The household members had also prepared songs, skits and dances for us! We filmed everything. As we went along the jeep began to fail so I would have to walk uphill. Later the jeep could not move forward with me in the trailer. Walt was driving. "How far to the next stop?" I asked. "Three miles," he said. "I can walk three miles and meet you there," I declared. Then he said, "But what about the crocodiles? They frequently cross this road between the waterways." I was awake instantly, leaving Walt and everyone on a dusty road in India.
We had a terrific breakfast at the Taxxi. I had the Swedish sausage breakfast with lefsa and lingonberries. I felt very continental.
Annie and Cedar went for a swim and I caught up with the journal. Then we left for the north and reached Deer River just before the heavy snow began to fall.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I dreamed I had a dog! It was a white/blue poodle. We were having such fun! I was disappointed to wake up and find myself alone.
Annie, Cedar and I were on the road to Mpls by 1 PM. The tar got better and better as we rolled south. The ice rain had been caught in the trees. So we had a journey through a glass forest with crystal candles in the tree tops. Every tall blade of grass was also encrusted. What wonderful vistas waited over every rise.
We got lost looking for the Mpls Tech Coll witnessed a near tragedy. A young man saved himself from death or injury by leaping up on a car that was going to hit him. We all screamed as he propelled himself to safety. His strength and agility saved him.
Lynn L called via cell phone from Chicago and directed us to our destination! Our student host Lance was waiting in the foyer and took us to the auditorium. Johnny Smith from Red Lake was emcee. Four students offered their poetry, Marcie Rendon read, Bobby Wilson spoke his poems, Annie sang and I read two short poems. Then Lance took us to the cafeteria for Indian tacos. He put three tables together so we could have a party. It sure was fun! Paul T joined us and told me about his great American journey around the states and into Canada. I got a few cards from him while he was gone.
When they started turning out the lights we knew it was time to leave. Lance took us to the Hyatt Hotel. Our room was on the 20th floor. Cedar and I were mesmerized by the "bright array of city lights."

Monday, November 22, 2010


Annie and I to GR to run errands, visit the library and have a good talk. It was fun to hear about her new job and the students. But Geezis has developed respiratory problems and painful knees. She will see doctor soon.
Thoreau, "I got up early and bathed in the pond; that was a religious exercise, and one of the best things I did." Bathing is a religious exercise even if done in a bathtub. Thoreau knew that, too. He said that one measures increasing character by the ring in the tub.
I decided to relax with a movie and selected an old film entitled "The Story of Seabiscuit". It stars Barry Fitzgerald and Shirley Temple. It was a predictable tale and not too interesting. One of the unexpected pleasures was seeing all those vintage cars!
Robert Frost wrote of sentences. "All that can save them is the speaking tone of voice somehow entangled in the words fastened to the page for the ear of the imagination." I love finding my ears pinned to my imagination after so many uninformed years of believing they were merely attached to the sides of my head!

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Wallis prepared a nice breakfast, we made our goodbyes and I left when it was light. I was almost to Bena when the snow caught up to me. I was, of course, relieved when I slid into my parking slot behind Deer Crest Manor.
"So much of life is wasted in loneliness." Vincent Van Gogh.
In Steph's package there was a note to Cedar, "The blue heart necklaces are for you (the smaller) and an older bigger person to show you share the same heart song." I suggested she give it to her mother."No," she said, "I want you to have it." Oh, how blessed I am!
Thoreau, "But I retained the landscape and I have annually carried off what it yielded without a wheel barrow."
I made about 6 dozen chocolate chip cookies from scratch and carried most of them from door to door. Then I played Skip-Bo with Pearl and Evie, and I won! So Evie said, "Thanks for the cookies. Now go home." She was teasing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Annie and kids did not stay at the homeless camp. It was too cold. They went home to hot chocolate and warm beds. An option the homeless do not have.
Cedar and I enjoyed a delightful morning and Annie came for her in early afternoon. Soon I was driving West and arrived at Bemidji library for first program on my Kitchigami library tour.
I'd left a note on Wallis' door telling her that I'd be back to spend the night if she had a bunk for me.
The new branch manager is Paul, he fills B-C's former position. He gave me a quick tour and explained the set up. Later I just wandered up and down between the rows of books. I recalled a day when I challenged Brandon to find the smallest cook book in the library. And he did.
After an hour of telling and talking, singing and dancing... I was worn out and used up. As I was leaving several people wanted to talk. One young man is learning Greek so I gave him my book bag from Greece (Angeline). Most of the other people wanted to thank me and touch hands. But one man wanted to know more about Leonard Peltier. I was walked out to my car by novelist Kevin McColley. We'd met several years ago at Sister Wolf in Dorset. I hadn't seen him for a long time so we had a brief and pleasant chat.
I got back to Cass Lake before the snow came. Lamaya was also out seeking shelter. So we three had a three generations slumber party.

Friday, November 19, 2010


My dear and precious friend, Larry Cloud Morgan, wrote a poem about facing the fourth hill of our elderhood. "Our dreams must tell us what we cannot speak, Like footprints to Ishpiming (heaven) Weaving the winds to sing Fanning the stars to shine Lighting the trail to the sacred mound Where we say 'Mountain, you are beautiful And I am not afraid'." I see Larry on the other side holding his hands out to us. "Don't be afraid", he says in his soft and gracious way.
I received two parcels in the mail. Steph sent a lovely wooden box from Honduras with a collection of costume jewelry for Cedar and me to share. Angeline sent a small jar of mushrooms from France and fig biscuits. I love mushrooms. Both Cedar and I love figs.
The maintenance man arrived to repair the kitchen drawer and the closet door. He is a pleasant, cheerful, courteous young man. Also efficient, energetic and enthusiastic about getting things back into proper working order. Not everyone enjoys their work as much as he does.
I got Cedar after school and she will spend the night as Annie and the big kids went to the homeless camp in GR. Cedar and I worked on the bird puzzle. She assembled the blue jay, two cardinals, four chickadees and a cedar waxwing.
We read a story about an elephant named Shirley who now lives at the Elephant Sanctuary in TN. We found it on the web. There was a profile of Shirley but none for her friend Jenny. So we wrote to the director. Cedar mailed the card. We look for a timely response.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I heard Scott Hall talking about my upcoming Kitchigami library tour on KAXE this morning.
May S was happy! "Oh, What a rare friend is she (Susan) with whom I can share poetry." I have just such a friend! Sharon Saxton also enjoys poetry. We have shared verses, exchanged names and even fell in love with the same dead poet at the same time! In Barbara's Mallard Island album 2010 there is a photo of me reading to Sharon. She sits in rapt attention and I see a childlike quality upon her. I was reading A.E. Houseman, about the athlete who died young. We shared a cabin and often read to each other at night. But the photo makes it clear that we both love poetry and we also enjoy a loving friendship.
In his winter journal Thoreau wrote, "Still grows the vivacious lilac a generation after the door and lintel and sill are gone, unfolding its sweet-scented flowers each spring..." He further describes the lilac as "tender, civil and cheerful." In my wanderings I have often come upon lilacs in a field and after a brief search find evidence of old houses and sheds. I have wondered who planted the roots, added water to the soil and nurtured them along until they grew taller than a man then crowded the sky above the house.
Wallis and Gerry gave come and gone twice today! I have carried my pies from door to door and no one said, "Skat with that!"
There has been a death in our building.Pearl has been crying all day. She had her lovable cat Hershey euthanized. Hershey was 15, had an internal growth and was unable to keep food down. I went down to tell Dorothy that Coco is now the official pet mascot of Deer Crest Manor and offered my services as dog walker.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


When May S awakened on Thursday, Nov 18, 1982 she wondered what joy she would find in her day. As I consider tomorrow I expect the joy of Cedar's early arrival. Also, my daughter Wallis and niece Geraldine are coming. I made two pies in anticipation of visitors. A pumpkin and a cherry. I promised Gloria and Ed a slice of cherry tomorrow.
Every morning six pigeons come flapping out of the south. They follow a path through the sky. Then they swoop up to the roof. They always roost over my window. After a few minutes they leave together with a great commotion as if overtaken by a sudden alarm. So I have begun to call my little tree top flat by a new name. Pigeon's Roost. It suits me... for now.
Thoreau: "When the ponds were firmly frozen, they afforded not only new and shorter routes to many points, but new views from their surfaces of the familiar landscape around them." When Brandon was quite young I took him out on the ice of Steamboat Lake. Then we laid down and looked up into the bright sky. I remember feeling very small and insignificant. After a long time I began to feel cold and said we should go home. He didn't more. He told me he wanted to stay. I said I'd wait for him at the shore. So I walked back alone. After every 20 steps I'd look back at him. He soon became a dark spot on an enormous field of white. At the tree line I made myself comfortable and waited. At last he got up and waved his arms.When he got off the lake we stood looking out at the place we had been. Then we went home for toast and soup.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


My mother always enjoyed those little snowbirds. She'd squeal with delight when they fluttered up as we rode past. Now it's my turn to point them out to Cedar with the same joy my mother expressed when she pointed them out to me.
May S wrote in 1982, "The November evenings are somber, but I love the smells, damp leaves and salt from the ocean."
Thoreau left good words for my consideration. "See those clouds; how they hang! That's the greatest thing I have seen today."
The greatest thing I've seen today was little Cedar turning to smile and wave from the second step of school bus #17. What's the greatest thing about your today?

Monday, November 15, 2010


Cedar had injured her toe and couldn't wear her shoes so she spent the day with me. I put a cartoon on for her while I did 2 loads of laundry and sewed up a lot of Seminole patchwork.
"Snow settles Over the nettles. Where is the voice I heard crying?" Edna St Vincent Millay. But today it is Thoreau who feeds my spirit. "In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick, too, to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line."
The velcro tabs on Cedar's jacket were so fuzzed up they didn't close. So we each took a tweezers and plucked them clean. It really was fun! We laughed and made silly jokes. We also retrieved the bird feeder which had fallen from our second floor window. As we gathered the fallen objects Connie opened her window and we had a brief chat. I wonder how often she finds a visitor at her window?
Last Friday I took Cedar to see the endangered animal babies, cubs of the big cats. We made a $2 donation. Cedar was disappointed that she couldn't enter the cages. Later in the car she sulked. I said it would be nice if she thanked me. But she went on pouting. When we got back to the flat and I had forgotten her bad mood she came to me and softly said, "Thank you, Gramma, for taking me to see the endangered babies." I said, "I was glad to do it. I want us to enjoy our time together. I love you very much." She smiled and nodded, "I know."

Sunday, November 14, 2010


May S wrote in her journal on the 13th, "All I ask is to write poems." She was trying something new, a series of prose poems entitled "Letters from Maine".
Meridel LeSueur wrote her strong opinion concerning violence. "Now from city to city the real source of violence in American life was naked - the violence of corporate wealth able to starve you, control your jobs, your life, your being. This is the true violence."
I cut the 10 yards of fabric I'd sewn into 36X4 inch strips into 1 1/4 inch pieces. I have quite a stack! But I didn't sew.
Gloria came over with a piece of cake for me. Ed and Randy were visiting in their flat so she came over to visit me in my flat. Later Dale came with a check for Wallis. Then Marlene called and we went out for dinner.
When I got home I worked on the puzzle, read some from "A Lesson Before Dying" and watched a movie. "The Jackie Robinson Story" has not been restored so it looks and sounds just like the movies I saw when I was quite young. It has black lines and white spots on the film. Bits of dust and hair can be seen around the edge of the picture. The music is too slow and the background noise sounds like someone frying eggs. Robinson played himself. It tries to tell how racism kept black athletes out of professional sports. They say he broke the color barrier for other black athletes. I'd like to know more about him.
I worked on a roundup letter, too. But since I have no printer I e-mailed it to those who had written to me in longhand and had mailed the letters and cards by snail-mail. Two on the list had no e-mail so I will write them tomorrow.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


This morning the mail box offered a card, a personal letter, a gift certificate and a letter from Social Security. The official letter was slashed with yellow highlighter. The yellow sentences screamed up into my ignorant face, "Now read this and understand!" Some such letters are marked with a tiny x to indicate where your attention is needed. The x is less pugnacious.
I have begun reading "A Lesson Before Dying" by Ernest Gaines. I'd opened the book with a cup of hot coffee beside me. The pages held my attention in a firm grip and when I turned to the coffee I found it had grown cold and exceedingly bitter.
Kathy G called. She needed a ride to the grocery store. I needed a few things, too. Later as I waited for her, I stood beside the car. I noticed a tree full of dark birds. I wondered what they were singing as the snow began to fall. I walked closer and they fluttered to the ground to fill their gizzards with wild seeds. They were clearly excited! They whistled, creaked, chortled and a sweet pipe was heard among them.
It's been snowing all afternoon and the ground is covered. The leafless trees are iced with white frosting.
My friend Cash had a Q. "How do animals find us? Do you suppose it's our unpleasant body odors"? I considered this for a moment and decided, "They find us by the color of our breath rising up into the sky."

Friday, November 12, 2010


Wallis is on the move again. She's returning to our old house. She'll be closer to her grands and has lifelong friends nearby. I'll miss having her to bum around with. Chey and Gene are exploring the idea of moving to Seattle.
I put most of my 'new' puzzles in the community room shelves and packed a box of 'old' puzzles for Anita. I'll start assembling a Christmas wreath puzzle as soon as I finish the one that's on the table now. If I find it quite festive I'll glue it together and put it up near my door. If it's not festive enough I will embellish it with beads and bows.
I got my orthotics (sp) today. There had been some discussion of reconstructive surgery but I want to try the braces. The bones in my feet and ankles are going away. I'm good for 2-3 blocks and then I need to sit. The braces will keep me upright and reduce the pain of walking. No, they are not Frankenstein boots. I'm breaking them in... or are they breaking me in? I wore them for a couple of hours today and can feel the rest of my body adjusting. The doctor suggested that I find a ground level flat or a place with an elevator. But the stairs are actually easier with the braces. I never dreamed that I would outlive my feet!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Armistice Day... Day of Peace... End of War. "Global consciousness, a global world. Not a global imperialism, but human collectivism; not cultural imperialism, but global consciousness of new human relationships... global solidarity." Meridel LeSueur.
When I was a child I was told again and again. Reminded beyond forgetting. "You were born the winter of the great storm." So I was conscious of being a storm baby, I grew into a storm child and after many years I have become a storm crone.
Joyce Sutphen, "Alone let me listen closer to the day, let me hear the wind between the leaves."
Today I got my new eye glasses. It will take time to become accustomed to the ridge that slashes my vision. It's like looking through a plate of cracked ice. I must wait for it to thaw into seamless crystal.
Melanie's bouquet has become almost a companion. I have come to rely on its joyful presence.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I knew there would be an emotional letdown today so I have fortified myself against any disappointment. But the party continues! A call came from Chey and Gene in Seattle wishing me a good day. The mail brought two more cards and a pkg. E-mails are still arriving, too. The pkg from Sharon H contains a copy of Barbara L's wonderful album of photos from our Mallard Island adventure of 2010. It's a lovely collection of images. Thanks Sharon.
May S was enjoying one of the luxuries of a successful writer's life. "I sat there watching it (day) fade (into dusk), and the coming and going of wings in the air at the bird feeders. It was peaceful."
Today I opened "What Do We Know", Mary Oliver. On page 41 she asks, "What would you like to see again?" The answer, "My dog: her energy and exuberance, her willingness..." So I decided this collection must go on a journey to Sharon S. Just 2 days ago she had her dear and loyal black lab, Katy, euthanized. How lonely my dear little friend must be today.
What would I like to see again? Blue Canyon in AZ. What would you like to see again?
I'm reading a biography of Marilyn Monroe by DH Wolfe. I appreciate how he expresses her as an intelligent, sensitive, passionate artist. A woman of emotional depth and breadth who was adored by her public but often misused and abused by the people around her.
Mel came over after work with a lovely selection of cut flowers! She didn't want to stay so we stood at the door and had a brief conversation. I gave her 3 decks of playing cards for The Boys and Girls Club. She will put them to good use.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


A huge box arrived from Florida today. Inside were 21 jigsaw puzzles. It must have been a puzzle just packing them into the box. Thanks Laura! They will get me through the long Minnesota winter. Thanks Anita!
My new motto will see me through the next 10 years. It is "Provoking the future!" It starts tomorrow when I wake up.
My first phone call of the day came from Wallis. She was joined by the sweet voice of Lamaya in singing a celebratory happy birthday duet. It was just beautiful!
Yesterday Lamaya, 5, witnessed a horrendous episode of animal cruelty. It's been bothering me off and on all day. So I went for a late walk to dust off my thoughts. As I stepped along I smelled cigarette smoke and, looking around, saw a husky man dressed in a uniform standing in the shadows. "Friend of foe?" I asked. (I wanted to say, "Saxon or Celt".) He replied, "I'm on duty." With renewed confidence I continued along the dark road. At the end of that dirt road is the tar street and the rest of the way is well-lit. I enjoyed the playful leaves tumbling along. Their dry delicate whispers were like messages from summer.
What a year this has been and next year, which begins tomorrow, will be as dear... or more dear.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Last night I went to sleep wondering how to assemble a short strip of fabric into Seminole patchwork. This morning I awakened with the solution. Chevrons. Sleep on it, they like to say. And so I have. Our minds must be busy all the time.
Thoreau wrote, "Instead of calling on some scholar I paid many a visit to particular trees." I know of no scholar that would select my company but many trees have welcomed me to share an hour, or a day in their glad company.
May S had made an important decision at 70. "To make every effort to live in eternity's light, not in time." She had given up on a love affair but would turn her attention to poetry as if nothing else mattered.
Saige got his first deer on the first day of the 2010 season on his first deer hunt!
The chevron idea works! I started with about 2 feet but the cut sew cut sew process reduced it to 8 inches.
Birthday cards have been arriving. Sharon H called to say a package is in the mail.
Mel and I went to Bemidji. We wanted to see a film at the Native American Resource Center, BSU. They showed "Smoke Signals". It was fun to see John Trudell, Gary Farmer, Jim Boyd and other famous Indians on the huge screen. But after Mel saw Elaine Miles driving backwards across the reservation she thought we might try it. Fortunately she came to her senses before she could get the car in reverse.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


"Autumn is a fine season... At night there is the high wedge and honk of birds flying south... making the woodpile grow..." Some words from Meridel LeSueur... and me. Thoreau had spent many days "trying to hear what was in the wind..." Then Yeats offered his advice, "Never give all the heart For everything that's lovely is But a brief, dreamy kind delight..."
Sewed 10 yards of fabric strips for Seminole patchwork. Will try to find time to cut tomorrow. Perhaps assemble and sew a bit, too. It's a long process. But beautiful results. Also baked ginger cookies. Cedar likes them.
I dreamed that I opened the door and found Robert Duvall standing on the welcome mat. "I come to help you move," he said. I looked him up and down. I thought, "He couldn't move a box of feathers." He laughed in that embarrassed way he has and said, "Well, I brought a friend who is big and strong." In stepped Sidney Poitier. He was very young and dressed in a dark suit, white shirt and tie. He had just stepped out of the old movie, "To Sir, With Love". I had to tell them the truth. "I'm not moving at this time." They both smiled and bowed. I closed the door on two old heroes.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


In my dream I was walking down a dirt road. It was dark but for the stars. I didn't know where I was but I knew where I was going. My right ankle was hurting. Suddenly I heard someone walking behind me and turned to find a horse following me. He asked, "Wanna ride?" "Yes, a ride would be well appreciated. I'm going home," I said. He got down so I could get on his back. At first I enjoyed riding through the night but I was not getting home. I told the horse to stop and let me down. The horse did not speak but kept going. I knew it was a dream so I woke up and found myself at home and no horse in sight.
Gladys T was focused on personal gratitude because she found it "too easy to let the world's trouble sweep over one in a dark flood..." Well we know what Thoreau would tell us. "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."
Ed got Gloria and I each a mechanical parrot. It dances and it sings. It has a recorder and repeats what it hears. Cedar is going to have fun with it.

Friday, November 5, 2010


May S had only one word for today (1982), "Dismal". Gladys T was giving her books away, as am I. She wrote, "I find this a great emotional upheaval. Every book was somebody's dream once..." She went on to say that each book represented struggle, anguish, joy and pain. Thoreau wrote, "Every man (woman) looks at his (her) woodpile with a kind of affection." Yes, I have loved many and many woodpiles. I couldn't help myself. They had so much to offer. I still love a good pile of wood when I see it... so full of promises of warm days and cozy nights.
HH Humphrey, "A man without a job, without any opportunity to care for himself and his family develops a sense of bitterness and rejection." For many who are poor... their friends are poor... they may live in poor neighborhoods, depressed communities, a culture of poverty.
At the library today Cedar and I got a printed list of Hans Christian Anderson's published stories. There are 27 on the list and we have read 4. So we have many more pages to turn with Cedar snuggled close against me... images dancing through her mind.
When we were in NM several years ago we visited Allan Houser's sculpture garden. We took many photos. As I was leaving, one of the young men gave me a small chair he'd made from broken bits of bronze. Then about 2 months ago I found an old book entitled "Blue Canyon Horse" written by Ann Nolan Clark, illustrated by Allan Houser. When I did a residency at the Museum of the American Indian in DC Houser's work was on exhibit. I visited it daily... usually more than once a day. The stone nations were so warm, alive and communicative.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Unemployment in MN is nearly at 10%. HD Thoreau wrote of poverty. "Some of you... are poor, find it hard to live, are sometimes, as it were, gasping for breath." He referred to it as an "ancient slough". JC said, "The poor are always with us." The by-products of poverty include shame, misery, degradation, poor health care, hopelessness. There is also hunger, desperation, crime and even domestic violence.
My grandmother made good meals from cans of horse meat. But one night my grandfather slammed his fist into the table and said, "I will not eat dog food again." He put on his jacket and left the house. My Gramma and I ate in silence. Just before bedtime he returned, embraced both of us and a ate a plate of meatloaf made from horse meat.
Poverty is a terrible burden for a family to bear. Poverty is often expressed in statistics that try to separate it from humanity.
I went to the Eye Q in GR and have heard that my left eye is somewhat improved but the right eye is worse. New glasses next week. I shall fling myself into reading!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Gladys T, "For one Thoreau there is a mort of best-selling books, ephemeral as mayflies." Now for a word from our friend Henry. Sir, can you tell us about your abode? "My house was on the side of a hill, immediately on the edge of the larger wood, in the midst of a young forest of pitch pines and hickories, and half a dozen rods from the pond, to which a narrow foot path led down the hill." Oh, I can see it! I can feel the narrow path under my feet!
Pearl made cake and I took it door to door for her. Later I went to the Redd Shedd and had lunch with Wallis. She's going to CL for a few days.
To celebrate my 7th decade I have adopted a new motto. "Kiss me goodbye." Justice has held it to his heart. I'm so pleased to be taken seriously by a 17-yr-old grandson. Chey and Gene are leaving for Seattle tomorrow. What an adventure for them!
I'm listening to "The Love Songs of Italy" and I feel that I want to cry. Nevertheless, I'm going to add some of them to my i-tunes collection on the pc. Because, you see, "I know what it is to be young." Orson Welles.
Today I read "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" to Cedar and she asked who wrote it. HCA I told her. "He also wrote 'Thumbelina' and 'The Little Mermaid'." Then Cedar added, "And 'The Ugly Duckling' and 'The Little Match Girl'.' Isn't she a wonderful child! How fortunate for us that we can be together at this time. I at the end of my earth journey and she at the beginning.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


"Peace is too expensive!" from "Cradle will Rock". Yes, the script implies, the market rises on the wings of war and every wo/man has her/his price... of does s/he? I did know that Orson Welles is often portrayed as arrogant and verbally brutal. But I did not know he was a creative genius of great cerebral capacity and high courage. What an impact this movie makes.
Gladys T, "We like to eat down by the pond..." and so would I. Verlyn K urges us to be ready to part with the days that have passed and so I shall. "Going into winter takes confidence," he tells us.
I feel quite clever because I was able to post "Grandmother's Gift" to Amazon and it will be ready for Kindle in 24 hours. Also I joined the old VHS player and the tiny portable DVD player. Now I can view both on VHS. I am unable to get the DVD audio to VHS but it's fine for me and Cedar does not complain.
We returned from Grand Rapids under a bright rose-red sky with a full rainbow over us.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Gladys T wrote, "Some of the days in November carry the whole memory of summer." Keats asks, "Where are the songs of spring?" Verlyn K had watched snow fall "out of a goose gray sky". He felt he'd fallen far behind the season. I feel that I've fallen behind, too. With no hope of catching up. But I opened a random book to a random page and read a few random words by Sue Monk Kidd. "I felt a lavish sweep of happiness..." What does that stir in me? What does that stir in you? On this first day of Nov 2010 I look back over a long collection of moments swept by happiness. Yes, it's all there. Surely the future holds more such moments.
When the bus stopped the door folded itself open, Cedar leaped out and flew to my embrace. We took her backpack and jacket to the flat and left for a tour of the neighborhood. We plucked four soft lamb's ears and caressed them with utmost tenderness. We discovered a fuzzy dandelion snuggled in the grass. "Go away!" it begged. "I am the last of my kind." But falling to one knee Cedar snatched it up and blew the seeds away. They danced lightly on a golden breeze and promised to return multiplied. Then I pointed out a tall grass seed head that looked like a tiny squirrel tail. Cedar was delighted! Then I showed her where the silver maple had dropped its chamois-sided leaves. I'd seen them on a moonlit night and thought a gaggle of ghost geese had left their pale tracks all about. I picked up two perfect goose steps and walked them up the sky. Cedar laughed and so did I. Farther along we came upon a few flaming Japanese maple leaves caught in the grass. Of course, we set them free.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


The birds have not yet found the thistle seed feeders. One chickadee expressed a bit of interest. Just a long curious look... but he wondered at it. For it had appeared suddenly and was worthy of a brief survey.
Another Q has been asked. "Which US president would you invite to dinner?" I would ask Pres. Franklin D Roosevelt... but not without Eleanore.
I just found out that Gary Snyder wrote a poem about "The dead by the side of the road." He'd found a fawn hit by a truck, took it home and made stew for Halloween.
One day as I drove to Cass Lake to visit my mother the car in front of me hit a partridge. I stopped, picked it up and took it to Mom. She cleaned it, cooked it and we at it thankfully.
Pablo Neruda tells us what we always knew. "Love is so short, forgetting is so long." Love has so many beautiful faces. It carries us to such incredible places. Love swims, it flies, it dances and it sings. But I have also discovered it weeping in the dark corners of sour dreams.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Our bright and fragrant day has darkened and great clouds have gathered over Deer River MN. But somewhere within I have hoarded enough sunshine to warm my spirit. It casts a golden glow around me. I take it with me through the day.
KAXE asked a Q. "What would you bring back from your past?" After an amazingly brief consideration I said, "My roller skate key." Why? It helped me get away from my mother's watchful eye. It locked my shoes to the magic wheels that carried me down the block, around the corner, across the street and away. It was my personal key to adventure.
This evening we went to Tom and Missy's annual Halloween party. Who was there? Beauty, Spiderman, The Princess Fairy, The Tooth Fairy, The Corpse Bride, The Elegant Lady, Mortessia Addams, a witch, a teenage vampire, a doctor, a nerd, a punk hoodlum and a chip 'n' dale dancer,
We played Bingo until everyone had won a prize. Then we played a cover-all and Marcellus was the big winner. Later the pinata was shattered by the teenage vampire.
Barton Sutter has a "Halloween on Hennepin" poem in his collection, page 49. I read it once and agreed to feel sorry for Father Hennepin because "He thought the Indians were pagan."

Friday, October 29, 2010


I've put Mary Oliver aside and have opened "The Book of Names", Barton Sutter. I found a compelling image of a man kneeling at the water's edge drinking his reflection. "When I am done. I am still there." Of course, the reflection I drink is my own... just as you drink yours.
Just now I am enjoying Johan Strauss but Mozart is waiting his turn.
I gave Wallis the felt 'feathered' cape that Brandon used to fly about in. I'm giving his bird mask to Maddie. Wallis will give the cape to Marcellus. I'm sending the Fog Woman mask to Flo H. I'll keep Crow's ankle bells for a bit longer.
Many years ago Brandon gave his beaded velvet vest to Sandy Gotchie and he wore it to all the pow-wows. It was wonderful to see the vest being danced. Now Sandy is gone to the other side, too. So I wonder who will dance the vest or will it be packed way and forgotten?
Wallis and I left early for errands in Grand Rapids. We also visited the library. Then home I hurried to meet Cedar's bus. As she relaxed beside me I read "The Little Match Girl". I told her it was written by Hans Christian Anderson and asked if she remembered another story by HCA. Before I filled my lungs she replied, "The Ugly Duckling".
Later Pearl and I went to the Lion's hamburger supper at the Vet's Club. It was fun for us to get out together. We took an extra meal to Evelyn, who had been feeling poorly and stayed home. After she'd eaten and showered we all met at Pearls for 3 hands of Skip Bo. It was swell! Sometimes we'd all talk at the same time. Then we'd all stop talking and laugh.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I have seen the small white stones waiting alone under the moon. They turn their pale faces upward as I pass. They have scattered themselves down the gravel road. They are frequently seen on the edge of the lake where the waters wash away their sharpness. It is a gentle process... this seeking to be round.
Stephanie called early with a question which I answered by telling two stories from my past.
It happened one day that I fell asleep in the middle of Rabbit's dinner. I was awakened by snow falling on my face. I opened my eyes to find myself surrounded by hungry rabbits. I wondered at their fearlessness. But just then they fled in unison and disappeared as quickly as a sneeze.
On another occasion I sat in a deer bed trying to act like a deer. Two curious does stepped from the trees to watch me. One came closer and closer on her shining black hooves. Step by step she advanced. Then the other doe stamped her foot and made such a fuss that Stepping Deer turned and walked slowly back to the trees. Soon I was alone again.
This morning I dreamed that I had gone to a domestic violence event at a large gloomy building in a crowded community on a cold wet night. Inside the building I became confused and asked various people for direction. No one seemed to know what I was talking about. At last I discovered a small hand printed note on a dark wall which directed me to the proper lobby. Several information booths had been set up. I took many posters and handouts to pass on to those who could not attend. Inside the auditorium I found a small gathering of women. I put the posters on a seat. Then I removed my iridescent mauve robe and spread it on a seat to dry. I sat down expecting to hear a parade of speakers. A woman rose from the front row and took center stage. She was somehow familiar but her face was out of focus. She was not tall. She was slightly overweight and poorly clothed. In fact, she was wearing my navy blue sweater. She looked out at us and I was filled with a profound sorrow. Then she began to sing. Her voice rose above us then fell upon us in great scalding drops. Then the drops cooled to a gentle rain. At last her voice crumbled like old roses and petals tumbled all around. I wanted to stand and shout, "Bravo!" But I could not move. I could not speak. I woke up slowly with the beautiful opera still in my ears and the fragrance of roses covering my bed.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Pablo Neruda asks, "Is a dictionary a sepulchre or a sealed honeycomb?" Just a sliver of a thought from Mary O, " be wild and perfect for a moment..." If I pluck those moments from a lifetime, will they fill a boxcar, a barrel or a thimble?
Gloria and I have got Halloween fever and have been decorating the corridor into something ghoulish. We are already making our T-day plans and talking about Christmas.
I made a blueberry wheat bran coffee cake today and listened to Patty Kakac sing her wonderful songs. Her lyrics are exceptional and well-chosen. I have several of her CDs.
When we went to White Earth long ago for a Camp Justice reunion no one knew how to operate the can opener. We would have starved if B-C had not arrived and showed us how to operate the contraption. Many of those old justice seekers are gone now. Yes, and many more to follow.
I carried the garbage out and found the night was good for walking. So I carried a care package over to Kathy's. Well, it was very dark, wet, windy and cold. It was a bit more of a test than I was looking for. But I am home now and dry and warm and cozy, too.
I watched that "Maverick" movie. It's pretty old but I'd never seen it before. It was sooo funny.
Marlene is going to Sandy Gotchie's funeral tomorrow. He and his son drowned while setting net in Ball Club Lake. One of my school friends made the journey a couple weeks ago. Margaret Robinson. I saw her last at the LL Vet P-W. I didn't know it was our goodbye kiss. We had a good laugh that day.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Wallis had an appointment in Cass Lake. Then we visited the USFS and asked Ronnie H if she had anything for free. She graciously rolled out the treasures and we got a wonderful selection of fun stuff for Cedar, Lamaya and Marcellus. We got posters, too. I put mine out in the hall for all us 2nd floor residents of Deer Crest Manor to enjoy.
Pablo Neruda wants to know, "Is it true that swallows are going to settle on the moon?" Then he wonders if the moon swallows will migrate in autumn. Where would such fantastic birds spend the winter? I ask myself.
Mary O also has questions. "Now that I am free to be myself, who am I?"
Last night as Mel and I returned to Deer River in the dark I confessed my addiction to cranberry sauce. She offered me her opinion. "This is not an addiction. It just happens that you are very fond of cranberries." "But wait!" I cried. "There's more. Every night at 8PM I crave chocolate. I pace the flat like a starving beast. I don't dare keep a bag of in my flat. I will devour it with ugly greed." She replied, "A bit of chocolate does no harm." "I cannot be satisfied with just a bit. Furthermore, the craving never arrives in the morning or at noon. But only at night." "You should not deprive yourself of such a small pleasure. You must purchase a generous bag and give it to someone in the building to keep. At 8PM you will go to them and request a single piece of chocolate... no more." "Yes, yes," I agreed. "I shall designate someone to be the keeper of the chocolate. Each night I shall request and receive one kiss of chocolate and I shall be satisfied!" Then she turned to me, her pale face shining in the darkness and said, "In my closet I keep a bag of chocolate chips. Three will make one chocolate kiss." Oh, we laughed the miles away.
But at 4:30 today as I waited alone in my car a terrible sorrow came upon me. The fierce wind rocked the car, the rain slapped hard against the glass and the foggy windows seemed to isolate me from the world of joy. There was something ominous in the heavy clouds pressing over me. It was as though a lifetime of grief had been rolled up in a cloth and an unseen hand was pressing it into my throat. For just one horrible moment I was choking on all my old forgotten heartache. Then it was gone... as suddenly as it had come. I was left to wonder.... and at 7:30PM I am wondering still.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Pablo Neruda asks darkly, "Do you believe that ahead of you grief carries the flag of your destiny?" In some old stories destiny was carried in the mouth of a fish, a glass slipper or a streetcar named desire. Remember the blind street vendor in "Stones for Ibarra"? He sold lottery tickets. He waved them against the sky and said, "Here is your future. Here in my hand."
Mary O wants to know, "What happens to the singing birds when they can't sing anymore? What happens to their quick wings?" Such difficult questions for this gloomy morning. Yesterday these trees were full of singing birds but their quick wings have carried them away.
Verlyn K saw "the way the season swells within us."
In PM Mel and I off to the Rief in Grand Rapids to hear the Vienna Boys Choir - Shubert Choir. It was quite lovely from first note to last. The choir leader is from Peru and seemed naturally warm and respectful toward the boys. It happened that such concerts had been reserved for royalty. Now they are here in Grand Rapids singing for a less than regal group which included at least one Ojibwe grandmother. A white moth danced over us. From lamp to lamp it fluttered.
Behind closed eyes I savored The rise and fall of young voices Swelled against expanding walls And high to heaven ceiling. Around me a thousand hands Burst into exuberant applause. A small white moth With wings too thin to shadow The bright faces below, Fluttered from lamp to lamp Dancing her silent tribute To Mozart, Shubert and Icochea.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Yesterday I went through my theater box again. It's been a long, step by step process but it's nearly empty now. I'm having trouble giving up the masks and wigs. They seem more personal because they are such intimate beings. They were each created to reflect a certain character. Although a few if them were quite adaptable.
Ellie and Karen brought a VHS player and a bag of tapes. So today I am going to fit that into my small flat. The jungle chair has got to go. I pulled the AC out and replaced the insulation.
Went after Wallis. Then out to Annie's for barn chores.
Pablo Neruda wants to know, "Where can you find a bell that rings in your dreams?" I want to know how would such a bell be transported into a dream?
Mary O wrote a poem for "October". Keats wrote a poem to "Autumn". I am so glad for the words they put to paper. Because this morning when I opened my eyes and found myself still alive... I wondered "Why?" But Keats and Oliver have shattered my strange melancholy with their gracious words. I had been been living like a dead woman! Mary O, "Look, I want to love this world as though it's the last chance I'm ever going to get to be alive and know it." Just think... you can be alive and not even know it! That's how it was this morning.
Today Gloria and I arranged a seating/lounge area at the west end of our hall. She has plants and I added the jungle chair. It's lovely. Her husband Ed was the first to try it out.
But wait! There's more! Today is Gloria's birthday and I gave her my Liberace jacket. She loves it! I'm feeling very splendid now. The jungle chair is happy and Liberace rejoices.
I have changed the furniture about in the living room and turned the desk toward the window. I also finished the prayer ties. Tomorrow I must do something about the paper clutter.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Pablo Neruda asks, "How old is November?" I measure my years from one Nov to the next. But I have never wondered how old is Nov.
May S writes, "The sky over the ocean was almost black... and I liked it. It suited my mood, which was not rosy." Now I am wondering how many rosy days are in Nov?
"The king is out hunting, the queen is expecting a child, and so things could not be better." But I wonder what the fetus actually thinks about being born into such a family. And does the queen really enjoy being pregnant?
Karen and Ellie stopped in on their way to Bemidji. Then Gloria came over and together we went to visit Evelyn. I've had several social hours today. Sometimes I can't tell the difference between a solitary day, a lonely day and a day alone. But today was social.
Still at work on prayer bundles. I watched Sidney Poitier in "To Sir With Love" and recognized one of the other teachers. It was Patricia Routledge who plays Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping up Appearances.
Wallis and I spent a pleasant hours doing barn chores for Annie. She and kids have not returned from visit to Charles and family #3 in Hayward WI.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Yesterday as I sat at the fire I recalled a couple of elder male patients in the hospital at Eagle Butte SD where I was working in the early 1960s. They shared a room and had begun calling me "Chicago". When I asked they why, they said, "Every day you come to work and walk the halls all day long." Yes, from room to room I went answering calls for assistance from the bed ridden men and women in my care. But I still didn't know why they called me Chicago. They explained further. "In three days you could walk to Chicago." I'm sure they overestimated me but I always was a good walker... until now.
May S wrote, "I believe that our chief responsibility is not to change others for the better but to change ourselves." We are all changing... more than we know. But are we better? Are we going in the right direction?
Pablo Neruda asks, "How many bees are there in a day?" Not as many as in yesteryear. Why? There are many theories but one truth. Man has pulled Earth out of balance and so we have lost our harmony.
Mary Oliver urges us to "visit the sunflowers. they are shy but want to be friends; they have wonderful stories of when they were young..." Are you a sunflower? Am I? Can we be friends?
After Wallis and I returned from Annie's it was already dark. But I walked a bag of food over to Marlene's. It's about a 4-5 block walk RT. She was not at home so I left it near her door. I walked slowly back under a beautiful full moon. As I approached the apt bldg I was stopped by a police officer and questioned. After he decided that I really did live in the bldg he explained that there had been intruders and 2 units had been robbed. One of the intruders was an Indian woman with missing teeth and a short pony tail. So of course I was suspect. Then I was told to check my apt and see if anything was missing. My 2nd floor apt had not been entered, nor had Gloria's, but Randy had lost money. On 1st floor 2 units had been entered and one robbed.
We are going to request more security.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


May S had written to a friend who had lost her father. The friend said, "...a piece of my identity pulled away." Yes, that is so. When a loved one makes that journey to the other side we lose part of our SELF. We are always lonely for the one that has left us behind. But looking toward a great reunion when we make our crossing.
Today is the 5th anniversary of Brandon's departure. He'd be 22 now.
Verlyn Klinkenborg writes, "The air wears the tannic acidity of decaying leaves." I still have a small collection of leaves from his last autumn. I have some prayer ties I made as I sat beside his young and brutalized body at his wake.
I don't remember who said it and must paraphrase, too. But these words are in my thoughts again. "The dead rise up to walk the fields of memory."
I made a pot of jalapeno bean soup for Brandon's memorial feast then went to Cass Lake with Annie and kids. On our way we stopped to pick cedar leaves for the sunrise-sunset fire. LL day labor had delivered a load of wood. Gene was the firekeeper. When we got to Gene and Chey's house I hung the last bundle of prayer ties in one of the old box elder trees. The tree was shorter than me 55 years ago but raised itself high above the house by the time Brandon was born. It sheltered his childhood and now the tree is dying. Annie sat in the smoke turning jingles for Cedar's new dance dress. Chey and Lamaya had gone to a pumpkin patch near Park Rapids with Headstart.
By 5:30 we had a big crowd waiting for food. Everyone brought something and there was a lot of leftovers. Faith made the spirit dish. Terry offered a prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude for our wonderful Brandon. Wallis spoke of his journey. Shirley read a poem. Esther B told a very nice story. When I told about Brandon on the mountain, Justice came and stood beside me.
About 7:30 it was cold and dark so many had left. The tables had been cleared and dishes washed when we began to smell propane gas. Faith called the fire dept. We opened the house doors and tried to get everyone outside. We had to douse the fire, too. Soon we heard the siren and saw the flashing lights. The firemen did not find a problem with Chey's tank. They checked out Laurie's, too. Then they crossed the street. We could see the red light flashing on their gas detector. They turned off the gas, notified the homeowners of the situation and left.
Later we hurried home through a moon bright night.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Well, it finally happened. I got a phone call from Elvis! He was having a party for his biggest fans. A car would pick me up. "Bring your swim suit," he said. The phone was still in my hand when the car arrived. I thought, "It will be a small party. There can't be too many of us still alive. We can talk." Suddenly we were at Graceland. There were people everywhere! I could not believe it. Then the car door opened and the driver helped me out. But the magic of dream time had happened and I was about 17. I was wearing a turquoise dress with a full skirt held out with several crinoline petticoats. The blouse had short sleeves and a Peter Pan collar. The waist was cinched and I wore white patent leather ballerinas. My hair was short but thick and curly. I didn't see Elvis or anyone I recognized. I wondered if Natalie Wood was there. It was a noisy bunch. I found the food but I wasn't hungry. The pool was so crowded no one could move. I decided to leave. The big gates were open so I left. No one said goodbye. I was still young and walking through the woods. It was bright and fragrant. I was still walking when the phone rang. It was Cedar. I haven't seen her for two days so she wants to come over after school. We can have a party! She'll want to hear about my dream.
May S had ghastly news. "Brown pelicans had been found dead... some fiend had sawed off the upper bill, so they starved to death." Why would anyone do such a horrible thing? She thought fishermen had done it to reduce competition. When B-C and I were in California we found a sick pelican. She called her brother, he called the proper authorities and the bird was rescued. I don't know if the birds was restored to health.
Gladys T wrote, "Beautiful October, I wish it could last for a year." If I could choose a month that would last all year what would I choose? I like the seasons the way they are... always changing.
J Crow had been walking through several days of rain and cold and sleet. He'd been gone for 12 years. Now he was going home. He told himself, "It won't be the way you remember it. Things will be changed. People will have died. Trees would have fallen."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


In the parcel from Steph I found a pair of exquisite silver feather earrings in a small leather pouch. I've seen a lot of this style but none so very fine. They are quite detailed and truly handsome. I wore them the day they came to me.
Last night I packed a parcel for Angeline. I don't want to stuff it with old newsprint so I am sending one of my Johnny Depp t-shirts. She loves two American men... Johnny D and Clint E.
I am also trying to find a home for my Liberace jacket. It's really too elegant for fashion in Deer River. It even raised eyebrows at White Earth.
I've begun plucking my eyebrows for Halloween. I want the Mortesia Addams look of the surprised vampiress. If I can't get them shaped correctly I'll shave my brows off and pencil them in. Do not attempt to dissuade me for I am determined!
May S was haunted by a poem written by Elinor Wylie. May had been thrust "back in the country of (emotional) pain." The poem is entitled "All Souls". Gladys T was quoting Rupert Brooks. He began, "I shall desire and I shall find the best of my desires; the autumn road, the mellow wind..."
Four black bananas have been transformed into a fragrant loaf of banana bread. Perhaps I will carry it door to door tonight. I'm assured of a welcome. I have never met anyone who didn't like something fresh from the oven and homemade.
Wallis and I had supper at the Community Cafe. Annie met us there. Wallis has moved just about everything to the Redd Shedd for storage. I tied 19 prayer bundles today.
Julian H asked me to wear purple tomorrow to demonstrate support for the human/civil rights of the gay community. I have made a lavender ribbon boutonniere tied with a long violet ribbon sewn to a large green ribbon. I added a glass button to hide the stitches. It's awfully cute. I wore it today and will wear it tomorrow.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I heard a loud knocking on the door. Got up to see who it was. I saw 3 out of focus shadows. I knew it was a dream. The 2 men remained fuzzy and silent but the woman was clear and vocal. It was my daughter Esther. She began screaming at me with insane rage. She was so angry her hair stood on end. She has long lovely hair but as it stood out around her head she became hideous and bizarre. As she shouted I began to see her attire and recognized that she was some kind of a law enforcement official. I think it was a visit from the Gestapo.
Gladys T paints a pretty picture with words. "Nights are cold now. Twilight is brief. We eat supper by the fire." Wendell Berry turns me inward. "So help me, I heard the silence that stretched all the way from the ground underneath my window to the farthest stars, and the hair stood up on my head and a shiver came into me..."
I have found facebook the perfect tool for reuniting with family members, friends and the offspring of old friends. Connie is dear Elsie's daughter and Diane is the daughter of sweet Dana. We have already exchanged several messages and I feel truly blessed by the affection and respect of these two women from the generation of my children. Perhaps these are children who can say with Gordon Parks, "Momma's words refuse to die. Instead, they grow wings and soar. And their constant echo bleeds me dry. (Even the trees bent down to listen to her words.)"
A most remarkable and highly evolved nuthatch has been coming to the feeder. At first I thought he was daft because he pecked so vigorously at the side of the bottle feeder. But as I watched I saw that he did this to shake seeds out of the bottle and into the tray. None of the chickadees do this but they leave him alone so they can share the benefits of his extraordinary activity. So, they are all pretty smart.
I cut 62 leather circles today and will begin to make prayer bundles tomorrow.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Last night I watched Tom Cruise play Col Claus Von Steffaunberg who master-minded one of 12 plots to assassinate Hitler. All these attempts on the brutal dictator's life were carried out by the loyal German underground. Not loyal to Hitler but to Germany and the people. One of the quotes was, "We did it so the world would know." Know what? That not all German's supported Hitler and his gang of murderers.
May S observed, "The leaves are falling fast." We are beyond the time of falling leaves here. Only a few tired leaves are holding on. I have lived here since May so I have witnessed the life history of these particular leaves. One day I heard the trees sigh... grateful to be relieved of the burden of leaves. But in the spring they will be happy to host another generation of leaves.
Gladys T, "I think nobody dies on the Cape except by accident, because of the fish they eat." Emma Bear told me that, too. She lived to be over 100. I think tuna and sardines count.
Today we had a b-day party reunion for Annie. She is 44! But I remember her as an infant, toddler and upward. There were 15 of us. I wore pants from Tibet. Thank you Helene. I wore earrings from Lebanon. Thank you Joyce.
I also watched 3 episodes of "God in America". I find it strange that religion (the many varied forms of Christianity) played such a vital role in the formation of the organized government of the invaders. I had thought all had been founded on the natural outcome of logic and reason driven by hate and greed. As for slavery it's impossible for me to believe that the immoral and brutal bondage of human beings could be viewed as in keeping with the biblical standards of a Holy God. I was appalled to hear the slave owner quote that if a slave did not please the master the slave must be lashed. A holy mandate!

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Oh, I had the dearest dream! I was asleep in this flat and my bed. Someone was trying to wake me. Up and down and around me the small feet hurried. I peeked out and saw Sam's little hairy feet. I pretended to be asleep so he kept after me. Digging at my hair, poking his cold wet nose into my ear. It made me laugh. He got more excited and started whining. I didn't want him to bark so I said, "Okay Sam, I'm awake." He leaped off the bed and ran from the room. I got up and followed. My mother was standing in the living room. She was so young. She wore a pale rose dress with a white apron tied around her tiny waist. Her hair was short and curly. She wore no eye glasses. "Where is he?" I asked. She smiled but didn't speak. "Did you see him? She nodded. "Is he still here?" She said, "He's here but you can't see him if you don't go back to sleep." I turned and hurried back to bed. I was asleep instantly. My dreams were full of people but no more Sam.
May S offers her wisdom, "I must manage to have my real life here at whatever price..." An authentic life does not allow excess. Some activities must be abandoned. Some duties should be ignored.
Gladys T was still on the Cape. "The old weather-worn houses are silver, roses still bloom, the dark red ones against a split-rail fence have a jewel quality."
Steph H is on her way to visit Sharon S. I would have liked to go but a family reunion keeps me rooted. I am sending a gift to Steph at Sharon's address. It will be a great surprise. Shhhh.
The blue chambray skirt was dumpster bound when I reconsidered its future. The fabric is symbolic of the working class... blue collar. You know. I will save it for a project. Not a flag but a quilt... perhaps.
The package from Steph came today. It was bursting with gifts for me and Cedar.
I went out to visit the moon but had almost too much light for stars.

Friday, October 15, 2010


When I was down in Comm. Rm, at work on most recent puzzle, two pilliated woodpeckers arrived. When I returned to the flat a chickadee was enjoying breakfast at the beverage bottle feeder. May S saw birds, too. Sun. Oct. 17, 1982. "The other day I saw a ruffed grouse... the pheasant has vanished... the egrets have left the salt marsh." Gladys T enjoyed a visit to Cape Cod "to walk the great shining beaches, drive along the dune roads and watch the moon over the old unquiet ocean." Of the birds she wrote, "The gulls go over and drift on the bosom of the air and cry their piercing lovely cry."
I have been watching Sherlock Holmes as enacted by Peter Cushing. It is a collection of the only 5 episodes of the BCC's 1960 series that have survived. He was a quiet and deliberate hero. I saw the Young Sherlock last winter. At the conclusion of the movie I was so battered and exhausted I feared I might have to be carried from the theater. But I staggered forth on my own two feet... leaning on the arm of friend Aina. Did you know that Sherlock died once! The public outcry caused Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to restore his life. Now Holmes has outlived his creator. Doyle died in 1930. Holmes is alive and well.
I made a very fine upside down cake but Cedar would not eat it. So I've been up and down the halls leaving cake with all my neighbors.
Now I will enjoy "The Poetry of Langston Hughes", read by Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. I bought it at the friends of the library bookstore. It's on cassette.
Sat on the curb at the bus stop waiting for Cedar. I always have a book to read. Just now I am reading "Jayber Crow" by Wendell Berry. When the bus stopped, the door opened and there she was. My little honey girl, Miss Pineapple. She showed me her school picture. "Oh, so pretty!" I exclaimed. Later she showed them to Gloria who confirmed that she was beautiful.
Later Wallis called and needed a ride to pick up meds and mail. Then Cedar and I came back to the flat. She watched "Watership Down" on DVD.
It's almost my b-day #70. Yesterday I visited a gathering of flowers on display in a cooler. I opened the door, touched a bouquet and pretended it was mind. Mel got 2 bouquets of bright blooms for her birthday. When I asked who sent them she looked at her hands, twisted her fingers and whispered, "I did." "Mel," I said, "that's wonderful!"