Sunday, February 28, 2010


Feb 27, 10. I have been up for a long time. Too excited to sleep. More e-mails today. I put some beautiful YouTube videos from Paris and Toulouse on Facebook. I have watched them four times already. They are quite lovely.
Hickman, "I will see the shadows of my grief everywhere. And move on." Mae S. did not write today and I will not see her journal again until I return March 17 or 18. Whittier wrote, "Before my drift-wood fire I sit, And see, with every waif I burn, Old dreams and fancies coloring it and folly's unlaid ghosts return."
Verna was so kind that took me to the terminal. So I didn't have to take the light rail. I tested my tribal ID and held up the line. The security officer had not seen one before so he had to search the books. As he flipped the pages I saw "Indian" upside down and pointed to it. He let me pass. We both learned something. He will tell other officers so we first nations peoples can use our tribal ID cards to travel.
When we got airborne I began looking about for sky ranger/marshal. But I didn't see anyone who looked like he could protect a plane full of people. It was an uneventful journey across the sky. At 6:52 PM I was in Atlanta, GA. Layover spent reading "Columbus and Other Cannibals". Then on to Melbourne in a much smaller plane. Arrived at about 10. Laura met me and took me to her home. They had already had supper but fed me well with shrimp gumbo and salad. Then to bed.
Feb 28, 10. In AM I opened the blinds to greet the sun and renew my friendship with the great pine and queen palm. They know I am here. I sense my own dearness in their presence. Now some of the smaller trees are remembering me. The queen palm says, "Look I am healing you!" Yes, I do feel better. She sweeps the sky with her patient dance. The big pine sends me his steady gift of peace. I moved the chair to the window and the sun has reached me. The good energy is overwhelming my winter blues and cabin fever is flowing out of me. I can almost see it littering the floor around me before it is sucked into the sky and away.
Later we went to Pat's birthday party at Meg O'Malleys Pub. Everything was delicious. I went home and took a long nap. I woke up about 6PM to call Ann M and Angeline B.
There's a full moon rising over Melbourne and the queen palm is in ecstasy. The moon back lights her fronds and she scatters the warm moonlight over us.

Friday, February 26, 2010


I've added David Richo to my Amazon wish list. It's getting long because I'm trying to get free shipping. Most of what I want to get are not eligible so I am still $15 from my goal. I've also added books for Cedar. Annie said at her parent teacher conference Cedar got high marks for reading and writing in her journal. She brought the journal and read it to me at Perkins. The teacher was moved by her rich mental imagery and how well she expressed it on the page. Perhaps a poet has been born.
Jim Cotter, "Again arises from the heart of suffering the ancient cry, O God, why? O God how long? And the cry is met with silence." Hickman, There are times "when we feel utterly abandoned, left in a dark room alone, When the universe seems a vast and unfriendly place." Richo, "More and more I look at people and their choices without censure." Mary O, "In the personal life, there is always grief more than enough, a heart-load for each one of us on the dusty road."
Soon Annie and Cedar will be at the door! Wallis called to say my Hall of Fame portrait was used as a backdrop for the Women's Foundation news on channel 11. I got e-mail from Chey that she had seen it, too.
It was a joy to spend part of my day with Annie and Cedar. When they brought me back Cedar clung to me for a long time. She kept adjusting her embrace to see if we could make it tighter and longer. How desperate was her sweet embrace. She said if I don't come home she might want to go with me where I am going. At last we said our final goodbye. When I looked back she was still hanging out the window waving her small thin arm.


Feb. 25, 10. Lynelle came and got me and we went to see "Avatar" in 3D at Southdale. Barbara L. was already there. What can I say? It was an incredible experience! I especially appreciated the scenery and the fantastic foliage. The environment was totally pristine. Except where the aliens from Earth had settled and mined. In one of my long ago dream times I was walking up a long dark hill. I knew I was looking for something but didn't know what it was. Far ahead of me I saw the earth being disturbed and out of the soil arose a tall blue woman in an orange sarong. This happened again and again. Soon the hill was full of blue people in bright sarongs coming to meet me. Some of them were quite old and some were children. There were several messages in the Avatar story. Of course, I saw the invasion of an indigenous nation by greedy, violent, vulgar men.
Mae Sarton would clean her cellar because when her garden called it must become a priority. She would devote herself to growing food and flowers. I want to be more devoted to the gardens this year and also to expand.
Friends Carter and Flo are in DC. She is training to be one of 12 coaches for the Membership Recruitment Institute of the League of Women Voters US. She will be coaching membership recruitment efforts in 12 states, including MN. She will also be working to make another attempt to have the Equal Rights Amendment included in the US Constitution. Since 1923 the ERA has been introduced into Congress annually. It has never been passed!
Lynelle and I also stopped in at Birch Bark Books. She got a beautiful blank book for my journal collection. We selected a wonderful Laurel Burch illustration of indigo blue cats with golden eyes. I purchased "Poems by Heide Erdrich, National Monuments". We each got a complimentary bookmark featuring "My Antonia" by Willa Cather.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I've been receiving bon voyage calls. Justice called Monday and I spoke with Wallis and Annie, too. Yesterday I spoke with Myrna. Soon after Bruce called and I had a long talk with Bud as well. Angeline left a phone message but I get about 3 e-mails a day from her now.
About his father John Greenleaf Whittier had this to say, "A prompt, decisive man, no breath, Our father wasted." My Grandmother Vanoss introduced me to Whittier before I was 10 years old. It was she who who gave me a poet I could love. She gave me her old and worn collection of Whittier poems when I turned twelve. I still cherish it. When she came to visit us in Cass Lake she would sit in the rocker and I would sit at her feet. I would read her favorites to her. She had marked them when she was a school girl at Carlisle PA. The collection included his master piece, "Snow Bound". However, I favored "School Days", "Maud Muller", "Barbara Fritchie", and "The Barefoot Boy". I thought he was really a girl like me. Of being a poet Whittier wrote, "I mistake, occasionally, simple excitement for inspiration."
Mae Sarton wrote of her dilemma as a writer, "I... sometimes feel accused for not doing a better job, for not being more thorough and patient. The problem is that the material is so rich and varied..." After she had lashed herself for not being perfect she wrote, "Well, it's worth trying."
I've been watching "The Train" with Burt Lancaster. The old train fascinates me. When we lived in Fosston (1940s) we were nearly on the RR track. I loved to watch the engines load coal and water. They were steam powered in those days and pulled a red caboose.
Phillips Brooks, "...our grief is bound up with our love." Hickman, "My loved one is as much a part of my life as the air and food and water that nourishes my body."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Black Elk. "It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives. Nourish it that it may leaf and bloom and fill with singing birds." Hickman. "...the unquenchable nature of life... singing even in the dark hours." Mae Sarton had lost another friend and her memories were full of last goodbyes. "Never again would I push open the door and find Mildred with a cat sitting on the arm of her chair, her eyes bright, an open book in her lap. In two days all that had become history."
I walked to the underground library today and picked up "John Greenleaf Whittier, selected poems", "Columbus and Other Cannibals" by Forbes, "Everyday Committments" by Richo, and "Lady Windermere's Fan" by O. Wilde. Good reading tonight.


Feb 22, 10. Sharon H and I came back to La Farm then she played cards with Barbara and Lynelle while I read and relaxed. I also worked on the jigsaw puzzle. Then we settled in and watched the Olympic ice dancing. I'd seen many pheasants along the road but no turkeys.
I am up early today. The sun is not yet risen but the snow and sky are dusky blue and the black fringe of distant trees hedge the house that love built. The coffee aroma fills the kitchen with the warm fragrance of another friendly day.
I must not neglect the near trees for they are also beautiful. Some of them are marked for doom. How I love the dark and graceful shape of them against the winter sky. Mary O. "I stand in the cold kitchen, everything is wonderful around me."
Feb. 23, 10. Barb's husband Arnie had given her money to take us out for breakfast at City Cafe in Ashby. We had a hearty meal. Sharon H joined us and Claudia also showed up. We had a group photo taken. I bought a woven rug from Joel the rag rug man. We went back to clean La Farm house and then drove to Mpls.
Justice called while Ann and I were watching "As Good As It Gets". I talked with him and then Wallis and finally Annie. It sure was nice to connect with home for a few minutes. We finished the evening by watching Olympic ice dancing.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Feb. 21, 10. Katy is glad to see me up early. I give her ears a long and gentle rub as she is unable to do it for herself anymore. She is grizzled in the face, her body is full of tumors and arthritis makes life difficult but she plods on. As she lays at my feet I sense her joyful spirit. Sharon has already dug Katy's grave because she doesn't think she will survive the winter. I have also said my goodbye to this faithful, loyal, loving creature who has been Sharon's ideal companion for 14 blessed years.
Judith Guest. "It's easy to lose sight of the fact that writers do not write to impart knowledge to others, rather, they write to inform themselves." After a breakfast of coffee with bagels well buttered and spread with Patty's rose petal jam Sharon and I , accompanied by our lab buddies embarked on a polar journey. We walked Schabb's Bay over icy ridges of crusted snow. We tried to stay on old snowmobile tracks but we often stepped over the hard edges to sink into the soft loose snow.
After a lunch of beef stroganoff we sat and read poems to each other. She read Dorothy Parker and I chose Mary Oliver. The she drove me to Henneman's where I had a brief visit with Shawn who is now 17. He is tall and slender and wise.


Feb 20, 10. Last night we had a wonderful gathering at La Farm. Patty K brought the music. She had many assistants. there were two autoharps, three guitars, three drums, and one tambourine shaker, me. In our midst were two parents grieving the loss of their 17-yr-old son. Two weeks ago he was killed in a snowmobile accident. How quickly the world is shattered by loss and grief. The wounds so fresh and painful. Oh God! How do we endure? I was thoroughly exhausted and unable to dream. I went to sleep with a thud and awakened with a pop.
Mae Sarton. "How much resistance there still is (1982) to a woman who dedicates herself to an art." But Willa Cather gave us Thea the ruthless opera singer who learned to use men to serve her genius. Sharon Saxton came over today and we made a new plan that will allow us to spend extra time together at her house. Barbara had a photo shoot at Patty's. Lynelle and I had baked salmon and Italian noodles for lunch.
Afterwards Barbara drove us to Doris the drum woman's house to see if she could repair a drum and to make arrangements for making a drum of her own. She wants to make it before July when we all go back to The Mallard.
Then we drove to Donnie and Sharon's for a chili supper. The table was full and all around were 11 warm and friendly faces. I went home with Sharon S and received a sweet welcome from Katy and Shadow the two black labs. We watched the movie, "Forget Paris". Then we talked about a certain grief of womanhood. Then to bed for a sound sleep. Sharon tucked me in like a precious pearl.


Feb. 19, 10. The day arrived with a red blaze on the distant horizon. All the trees are dressed in a heavy lace of frost. The black robed pilgrims standing along the road have assumed a new identity. In morning light they become young pine trees.
Last night was open mic at the Evansville Art Center so we all showed up. Barbara had a bag of percussion and shaker instruments which we all shared. Sharon H and I signed up and waited our turns. What a great show it was. So many talented poets, musicians and singers took the stage. So many old friends, familiar faces and hugs of welcome.
There are times when I am with a group that I seem to disconnect and sink away to be alone. It does no harm for I rise again and no one knows I have been away. But not in this group. I remain present and connected.
I read a poem I had written, "The Barefoot Poet"
The fabric of her gauzy gown
Of opportunity was thin.
The gown itself a bit too small.
Snug in the shoulders, you see.
The hem fell well above the knee.
No elaborate embroidered promises
Adorned the shapeless bodice.
No long train of promises followed
Her barefoot steps.
Anxious to please but overlooked
Too many times, unrewarded
Efforts heaped the dusty corners
Of her diminishing future.
But plodding on for many years
She wore the dress to shreds.
Then it lay abandoned in the snow.
All her pretty poems tumbled
Unexpectedly from faded folders
To follow her barefoot steps.
I spent the night at the Henneman farm near Evansville. I was thoroughly welcomed by the two big dogs, Charlie and Zoe. I also had my first black and white dream! I was an observer of a homeless man's desperate plight. He wore an ill fitting wool tweed suit and climbed an apple tree for food. He filled his pockets, descended and walked down the road toward the setting sun. I saw that he was Montgomery Clift. He disappeared as a police car arrived at the apple house. A woman hurried out and pointed toward the west. There was no road so the cop had to walk. I whisked away and caught up with Monty as he entered a ramshackle house. It was getting dark and cold. He pulled down several boards and built a fire in the small wood stove. He tore up some of the floor and found a cigar box. He looked inside to find some money and an assortment of gold jewelry. He put this all in his pockets and slept on the floor. Soon the sun was shining into the room. He got up and left. I remained behind and heard steps on the porch. The cop was soon in the room. He looked around and wrote in his notebook. I was rushed forward to find Monty knocking on a door. Soon Shelley Winters was standing before us. He gave her the jewelry and walked off without a word. She looked quite stunned as she watched him leave. I knew the cop would be coming and I counted Monty's offenses. Theft, vandalism, trespass. Perhaps the man wasn't Monty but was also guilty of impersonating a dead movie star. Thus ended my first and hopefully last B/W dream.
I had my hair cut really short today.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Friend Aina said that Elder Buck has left an antler for her. What a loving living gift! Aina is someone who savors the wonders of earth. She has many wild friends and several dropped antlers among her treasures.
Emily Dickinson, "This is the Hour of Lead - Remembered, if outlived, as Freezing persons recollect the Snow - First - Chill - then Stupor - then the letting go -" This is how the poet expressed deep grief and loss. When I must recall the Hour of Lead I will also remember the simple joy of a new day rising with an opportunity for growth and renewal. For just as Elder Buck must lose his antler so he will grow another. The new antler will be different. It will be a record of growth, renewal and maturity.
Today I leave for LaFarm, a writing retreat near Evansville, MN. I plan to work on a play. I have selected several books to keep me company. One from Willa Cather, another from Langston Hughes. I will also take our good friends Mary Oliver and Mae Sarton.
Mae wrote of how the writer is so easily distracted. "An hour of intense talk uses up the psychic energy I need to call upon when I write." Mary O had this to say, "Well, we change, but we don't change much." Grant Utley used to say, "Time marches on, but not very far."
Barbara and Lynelle arrived at 11AM and we were on our way to La Farm, near Ashby MN.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


The dark towers of the Scottish Rites Temple rise ominously against the coming day, like Camelot at dawn. I wander unseen through the awakening camp. The great war horses stamp their bloody hooves while children polish the battered armor of the knights. Where is the king? I see Arthur kneeling in the snow. Does he pray? Nay! He weeps.
Several nights ago I dreamed that a terrible rumor had ruined my reputation. Myrna had remained my stalwart friend. It was she who discovered the source of the vicious verbal campaign of slander. When I confronted Margo she denied being the author of such lies. Then she smiled a greasy grimace and pointed behind me. But as I turned my eyes opened and I was awake.
Last night I dreamed I was working in a hospital. I was full of the idealistic zeal and enthusiastic energy of youth. I had arrived for duty to find old friends Rachel C and Bernice H in alarm. They took my hands and pulled me through the busy corridors to Central Supply Service. The door was open and a young man in white was removing things and filling a cart. "Stop!" I shouted. He barely glanced at me and continued his assault on what seemed to be my domain. Rachel and Bernie stared in helpless dismay. The man pushed the cart out of the room, down the hall and to his office. Rachel and Bernie began restoring order to the shambled room. I followed him protesting all the way. When we reached his domain he turned toward me with great anger, pulled himself to his full height and glared down at me. "I'm a doctor," he snarled. "I save lives. What do you do?" Clearly he held me in total contempt. I admit I was confused by his behavior. "I take directions," I replied. But he was looking beyond me now. His face softened, his eyes grew warm, his smile angelic. I turned to see a young fair-haired woman. She was not looking at him but at me. "I am doctor's wife. I'll speak to him," she promised.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Langston Hughes, "I have almost forgotten my dream. But it was there then, in front of me, bright like a sun - my dream."
Sometimes I feel more like a witness to my life than a participant. There are moments when I look out at the world through the lenses of my spectacles and feel imprisoned. So I remove my eye glasses and find the entire world is out of focus. Therefore, I must retreat to a safe place behind the glass wall again. Laraine Herring, "...the stories that spring from the authentic voice that is ours and ours alone come from within our own bodies."
Speaking of divine love the Yoga said, "He (God) is gazing at me (you) through the stars." That may seem a bit distant but what could be more constant!
David Richo, "The first given of life is that changes and endings are inevitable for any person, relationships, enthusiasms or thing. Every beginning leads to a finale." May I add to Richo's list of givens a constant that comes with every change? Choice! We are always stepping into intersections where we have an opportunity to select the change that becomes a choice.
I remember a certain intersection where friend Bona-Carol and I stood in the shallow edges of a very cold lake. Without consulting her I stepped into the water up to my waist and plunged in. She followed. We both came up screaming to prove we had survived. We got out of the water very quickly and wrapped our shivering selves in a blanket. We stared at each other for a long moment, amazed at our reckless courage and burst into hysterical laughter. Then we put on our shoes and walked home with blue-lipped giggles. I still can't believe we did this for we were not girls but crones who had chosen the challenge of spontaneous adventure with the possibility of sudden shock and heart failure.
Here is Mary O as a witness, "There was, one morning, an owl flying, oh pale angel, into the hayloft of a barn, I still see it." One night on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound I walked a bit of forest where I was a newcomer. I'd followed the narrow trail to a small open area and I knew the trail resumed on the other side so I went on in the darkness. But I veered to the right and walked into a long low branch of pine where an owl sat waiting for a mouse. Of course, he was offended by my clumsy presence and flew almost into my face. I raised my hands to protect my eyes but he swept over my head and away in total silence. I can still feel my hair standing on end.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Mae Sarton, "Truth transcends fact." That's why a poem or a song can often bring ideas or ideals into such sharp focus while technical writing sprawls across many pages to bring its piercing light to a subject.
Hickman, "I am always in danger of being swept away, of falling through the trapdoor of despair." Annie has written to tell me that the Saturday birthday party had a bad end. The family had gone to slide an icy hill. Wallis was on a saucer, lost control and was flung from the sled. She lay motionless at the bottom of the hill. She was unable to move! An ambulance took her to Bemidji. She had 3 broken ribs but no spinal injuries. Now she is home and Justice has accepted night nurse duties.
Of course, part of me wants to hurry home and be a good mother but I'd be double-booked. I have accepted a job in Evansville and one in Mpls this week. Then next week I begin my extensive travels which will carry me to Florida, Paris, Toulouse and eventually to the sugar camp. I send her prayers for strength and healing.
It's rather like the Valentine dream of Steven being injured and me unable to help. I was shown how other family members would take action in my absence. Wendell Berry, "Why must the gate be narrow? Because we cannot pass beyond it burdened."
In "The Truro Bear and Other Adventures" Mary Oliver includes 13 poems about her dog Percy. What a lovely tribute to her friendly furry companion. She also wrote, "Emerson, I am trying to live , as you said we must, the examined life."
Today Ann made three glorious omelette's for breakfast. She donned her blue smock and appeared as an artist at her easel. When the feast was laid so tenderly upon my proffered plate I saw a gift of nutritious beauty. At the table I sliced half a banana into buttons arranged artfully at the edge of the plate. Then with the fork I began to sculpt the eggs and filling one bite at a time. Turning the plate to explore from every side I removed the banana buttons one by one. At last all that remained was a brave triangular shaped banner of egg which I ate respectfully.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Happy Valentines to all!
During meditation at SRF I was considering a troubling dream in which my son Steven was in desperate need of assistance. I was unable to help because I was caught in a paralyzing energy shield. Daughter Esther drove up in a blue truck. "We have to help Steve. He's been beaten. They did it to him again! They beat him and left him by the road. He's in the ditch. He can't get up. We must help him! Hurry!" She was screaming but I could not move. Suddenly daughter Annie swept past me and leaped into the truck. They sped off together to help their brother.
When I lived in Grand Forks I saw an elder man clinging to the side of a brick building. I ran across the street and held him up. I shouted for help and another man hurried to aide us. Then two more men came to show us where he lived. When we got to his door about 1/2 block away the two men dismissed us. The elder said, "My friends will take care of me. Thank you. Thank you."
Afterward as I was walking toward home I could still feel that small man in my arms. He felt like a bag of bones. I thought, "He was someones baby. He was a child at play. He was a friend, a lover, a father." I've never forgotten him and somewhere in my mind I had begun to think Steven was destined to become such a man. Until today! Now I know his sisters will be there for him. I don't have to carry that feeble man any more. I can release his poor bones and never have to hold him in my arms again.
There were lovely flowers in the SRF hall today and Yogananda had his eye on me. "Well," I asked him, "what do you think?" "Of what? "Of me." He spoke a single word, "Transient." It means "passing through time". Well, aren't we all?

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Today is daughter Wallis' birthday. She was my firstborn and I recall the first moment that I held her in my arms. I remember how she looked, how she smelled, how she felt. She is in my arms again, so tiny, so precious, so loved.
Tomorrow the year of the Tiger begins. It could end badly for the estimated 3,200 tigers that still roam the earth. The tiger is quickly disappearing due to habitat loss and poaching. The pelt is worth $20,000, each paw can be sold for $1,000. Chinese use body parts for medicine. The bones become aphrodisiacs.
Tomorrow is St. Valentine's Day. The Catholic Church has three St Val's - all martyred. Wendell Berry, "The burden of absence grows, and I pay daily the grief I owe to love."
I dedicate this new poem to all crones that come to this blog with open hands. Especially Sharon S. who turns 70 in March.
"Crone Song"
We crones have gone beyond
The call of our own voice of innocence
And with our hand upon the door
We stand looking into another world
To which we do too soon depart.

Our blood will feed the giddy worms,
Our flesh enrich the soil.
Perhaps the roots of a maple
Will clutch my rigid bones.
Then those who tap the tree
Will get a taste of me
And wonder at such sweetness.

Or will a heron flying home at dusk
Listen as owls perched in my strong limbs
Mutter their message to the future?

Or will I rise from my grave
A graceful blue violet
To be praised with the simple joy
Of a wandering butterfly?

Or shall I find my rest
On a bed of moss where a shy child
Will press her eager ear
Against my velvet mouth to hear
My songs of awe full love?

Friday, February 12, 2010


Hickman, "The memory of my loved one is a part of my life forever." Mae Sarton, "It is hard to believe that in three months the field, so absolutely white, will be its ragged spring self again with a host of daffodils poking up through it." Angeline has written that the violets are blooming in France! Wendell Berry, "When I walk here alone, the thought of you goes with me; my mind reaches toward yours across the distance and through time." Of poetry Tom McGrath wrote, "of course, the Muse doesn't let you quit..." He was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. He said, "The work of the poem is to create a past in order to rescue the future that has been stolen from us." Clay Jenkinson, "He (Crazy Horse) had a kind of moral purity, that is virtually Christ-like, and it doesn't hurt that he was assassinated by Rome and partly by his fellow Jews, at about the age of 33." In the final hours of his life Crazy Horse would say, "All we wanted was peace and to be left alone."
Today I received an e-mail invitation to join friends on a snowshoe adventure. But I cannot. However, it took me back to an old trail cut and cleared by me and Brandon. We often walked there. I was especially eager to walk by moonlight. He often joined me. I'd send him ahead of me so he could feel more alone. But I'd always catch up to him as he stood mesmerized by beauty. He'd stop to fix the image in his memory. He didn't want to forget those crystal blue trails. Sometimes I wonder if he thinks about that, too. Sometimes I am afraid I must remember it for both of us.
Norma and I went out for lunch today. She had the fruit bowl and I had a Cajun burger. I hadn't had a burger for 4 months. I thought it would be wonderful. But now I wish I'd had a fruit bowl, too. No one gets enough fruit in February. I also mailed two packages.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Good morning! Look at all that sunshine! It's all over town today. Like a big heavenly smile it goes from ear to ear,
My childhood friend Myrna will be in town today. Her brother Julius has gone to the other side and his remains are being interred at Fort Snelling. I can't be there but in spirit. In fact, I think my spirit is already there making spirit step prints in the snow.
Roger Rosenblatt, "The problem with death is absence." Yes it leaves an empty place on this side, a familiar hole in life. We walk around the edges and cry, "I miss you, miss you." And it's true. It's unavoidable. It changes the future... even the past is altered by death. But it makes me think of the other side where so many loved ones are waiting for me. It gives me permission to look toward my crossing over with the anticipation of many joyful reunions.
Somewhere in Stevens Square community is a garden dedicated to the memory of Emily Peake. I must look for it on a summer day.
Clay Jenkinson, "Almost all that matters is gone now. The Indians were decimated to the point of genocide; the buffalo nearly exterminated; the wolves killed off; rivers channeled, dammed, drained and befouled; grasses plowed under and good earth blown away."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Yesterday I had lunch with Beth W. at The Green Mill. We spoke of the past and future. We addressed the moment and enjoyed the present. We laid our hope out on the table between us and warmed it with our hands. Our dreams were hung before us like exquisite weavings; we saw where tomorrow might lead us; how we could expand and enlarge; where more color and detail would add depth. Stories and poems were carried to and fro on our living breaths. Favored writers joined us briefly, expressed themselves and quietly gave up the space for a new voice. It was a delightful exchange of creative energy.
Thinking of it now I wonder if we did not board a frigate, pull up the anchor and set ourselves adrift upon the enchanted waters of an uncharted sea. Afterwards she put me ashore at the underground library. She would sail back to Excelsior and Don. I would enter the elevator and descend into the bowels of other worlds and other lives. I embarked upon a quest of discovery where ideas new to me were waiting to be explored.
"Rebel Music; Human Rights, Resistance Sounds and the Politics of Music Making". I turned to essay #7, "The Right to Live in Peace; Freedom and Social Justice in the Songs of Violetta Parra and Victor Jara". Violetta Parra, "I sing the difference between what is true and false Otherwise, I don"t sing." Martha Nandorfy, "Party politics do not involve all segments of society, and even alienate portions of the working-class who distrust politicians and institutions... due to the belief or insight that... all parties... defend their own interests once they are in power..."
I cannot yet see the sun but the sky is bright and blue. I do see the edge of the day whetting itself along the bricks of the building to my east and creeping stealthily along the wall on my west. Between these lies a fenced courtyard already filled with golden sunshine where squirrels cavort and birds have come to bask. In Mpls we had several inches of new snow. It fell gracefully over the city. Every house was swaddled in glittering loft. While people slept the streets were paved with ermine. Soon it was displaced and sullied by the grimy grind of industry. I know the forest trails at home are still shimmering and pristine.
It also snowed in France. Angeline B, "I should be planting garlic and echalottes instead of sitting by the fire."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Wow! "La Danse" was an incredible event! Because of the weather and other inconveniences our party of 6 dwindled down to two. So it was just me and John Colliers. Ann dropped me off at the St Anthony Main Theater where John was waiting. The weather had discouraged everyone. We shared the large auditorium with about 6 other patrons! La Danse was documented by Fredrick Wiseman. It is an intense exploration of one of the world's greatest ballet companies, the Paris Opera Ballet. It was filmed in the 19th century building Palais Garnier. It was spoken in French with English subtitles. Several ballets were presented in rehearsal and performance. the language of dance took us on a journey from "The Nutcracker" to contemporary works listed in the program. Also listed were the names of The Stars and The First Dancers. Wiseman included views of empty corridors filled with commanding voices, stairwells of cheerful chatter and silent windows with hazy views. We saw custodians engaged in building repairs and wall painting. We were also privy to a union meeting. We were allowed to look over the shoulders of those who made the costumes and those who cleaned the shoes.
As I sit here today in my lazy old body there are beautiful, energetic young people teaching their strong, graceful bodies to dance.
Like most of us winter people Mae Sarton had grown hungry for light and watched the days grow longer. "It's 5PM now and still light... It is wonderfully silent and beautiful all around, so silent I have not wanted music..." Later she would write, "It's dark now. The snow is deep blue and the ocean is nearly black. It is time for some music."
I am trying to get a short story ready for a March 1 deadline. But I have no energy for that kind of work. I have a title and the bones for "An Abduction".

Monday, February 8, 2010


On this day in 1982 Mae Sarton was in her 70th year and under a stormy sky. There was great wind and heavy snow. She "got into an anxiety panic, very stupid." She was living alone in a rural area. "I felt old and foolish to be so upset." Help was only a phone call away and soon Janice and Maryann arrived with shovels to dig Mae out. Later she wondered why the same storm that used to be so exhilarating was now so darkly troubling. Albert Camas, "In the midst of winter I discovered that there was in me an invincible summer."
Mary Tall Mountain wrote a poignant poem about "The Last Wolf" that is deeply moving. No room here for her many good words. I will simply post the end, "Yes, I said, I know what they have done." Two-leggeds have brought such enormous pain and terror to other beings. I wonder how we shall ever find forgiveness?
Yesterday I had a Julia Child moment. After thanking the range run hen for giving herself to feed us, I cut out the backbone with a pair of dangerous kitchen shears. I laid the chicken as flat as I could and baked nearly an hour. In the drippings I prepared a spicy drizzle that really dressed up that tender hen. Ann made a wonderful jicama-apple slaw. It was so perfect we skipped the homemade cream of mushroom soup.
We had a potluck luncheon at the fellowship yesterday. All was good. We had a full table and found connections we could only discover in an informal gathering. Loretta is a musician. I had seen her on stage with her husband Curtis many years ago. Dan is from St Cloud and knows Keith Secola. Keith traveled with the homeless tour for 6 years. Chauncey and I had met during a diversity workshop at Mt Carmel several winters ago. When I told Loretta that Annie Humphrey was my daughter she smothered me with praise for my musical child. Of course, I loved it!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Today I began making my marks on the blank pages of a new journal. the old one will be mailed to Jannelle. Today is Brandon's 22nd birthday! I don't think of him as dead and gone. I think of him waiting for us in a better place. There is a silver quality to the sky this morning. It clings to the edges of everything. I see my fingers and the pen traced with silver. I imagine my hair bright with silver like a great crested bird.
Yesterday Ann and I went to airport to pick up Verna, back from Mexico. On our way to and fro we saw a large dark bird on a tall street lamp. We were unable to identify but it was probably a hawk. So I accepted the gift of strength it was offering and thanked Creator and the hawk for helping us through another day.
I am reading a few pages of "The Faith of a Writer" and was dismayed to see Joyce Carol Oates refer to Sarah Orne Jewett as a "minor contemporary of Henry James". Jewett was the single greatest inspiration behind the well known and beloved novelist Willa Cather. I would not classify Jewett with the minors. Oates goes on to say that on at least one occasion James was inspired by Jewett.
Charles Beard, "When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." When I lived in Eagle Butte, SD, I thought the sky at night was closer to the earth than anywhere else. One could reach up and pluck a star out of heaven. Like one old crooner sang, "Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket... you'll have a pocket full of stardust." But stars are more than beautiful. Like the fisher star... they can lead you home. I remember a poem about a sailor who wanted nothing more than "a tall ship and a star to steer her by."
In Marilyn Chin's poem about assimilation she wrote of herself, "Solid as wood, happily a little gnawed, tattered, mesmerized by all that was lavished upon her and all that was taken away." Assimilation of the original peoples of Turtle Island was less welcome and more harmful. The survival and expansion of the new American Republic required that Indigenous Peoples be dispossessed of their lands. It became necessary to create a mechanism and a rationale for taking land held by "savages".
From my journal, 2-20-o5 (before Brandon's death by murder), "I am sitting in the lobby at the University of Normal, IL. I feel like a bum! My luggage went somewhere else. Linda took me to the store for toiletries but I have no clean clothes! The motel just called. My bag has been located and will be delivered to the motel this very night. Tomorrow I will do my presentation in clean clothes. won't that be nice?
Today Ann is learning a new trick. How to convert a CD to a DVD. She did this before but the audio quality was seriously compromised. I can hear my mother's voice reaching me across all those years from 1992 as I sit here in 2010. Isn't technology wonderful!

Saturday, February 6, 2010


We had a lovely gathering of lovely people on a lovely night at this lovely abode. There was Sharon, John, Helen, Norma, Linda, Susan, Ann and me. The wild rice dish was declared delicious! Some of the mushrooms came from France. Angeline had sent them several months ago. I had saved them for a special event... such as this was. The mushrooms were like black trumpets. I don't know the name.
The party inspired a dream of food. I was making bagels while I slept. The recipe covered half of the refrigerator door and I was unable to read it. A voice suggested that I read the fine print. At the bottom of the page was written, "Must be read from right to left". It didn't take long before I had a stack of round bagels. But I got tired of making them all the same so I began shaping them into the alphabet. When all the bread was ready someone knocked on the door. I opened the door and was surprised to see Lauren Bacall shining in rose satin and glittering with diamonds. In her throaty voice she drawled, "Hello, Anne. Am I late?" After I got her seated there was another knock on the door. Soon I was greeting Katherine Hepburn. Then Jackie Gleason entered. After that they were coming so fast I didn't know who came in. There must have been 50 guests eating bagels. I even saw John Trudell and Keith Secola chewing up the alphabet.

Friday, February 5, 2010


John Updike, "The sound of her (his mother) typing gave the house a secret, questing life unlike that of any of the other houses...". Jane Kenyon, "Here in this house, among photographs of your ancestors, their hymnbooks and old shoes... I move from room to room."
Yesterday I walked to the underground library and returned with many words so lovingly arranged on myriads of pages. I carried books of promises through the snowy streets. When I arrived at my room I sat down with Victor Jara and Emily Peake. Jara was a world-famous Chilean folk singer. In 1973 he was murdered. His crime? He awakened the consciousness of the people with his message of hope and social change. Emily was an Ojibwe woman from White Earth Res. who worked for community. My Grandmother Vanoss often spoke of her. She died April 18, 1995. She was born May 28, 1920, Fairveiw Hosp, Mpls.
In preparation of tonight's wild rice dinner and storytelling salon I walked to Kowalski's. No, I was not looking for road kill! It was a pleasant excursion into a lovely day. I am going to use the recipe my deceased relative Winnie Jourdain shared with Emily. I include it here FYI. I am boiling 4 plump chicken thighs as I write. You must wash the rice if, like mine, it is home processed. Remember 1 cup of rice needs 3 cups of water. Home processed rice cooks fast so don't boil it too much. Bring water to boil, add rice, cover and let stand. Dice 4 stalks of celery, one onion and 1 cup mushrooms, saute in 2 T olive oil. Remove chicken from bones, dice and set aside. Save the broth. Measure 3 cups of broth into bowl, add 1 t. vinegar and 1 1/2 t salt. Drain rice and add other ingredients. Mix well. Pour into covered casserole. Bake 1 1/2 hours at 300 degrees.
Winnie died at age 101 (2001). She was the last survivor of the Broken Arrow Guild. But I felt her looking over my shoulder as I stood at the stove. She said, "Mushrooms will make a nice addition to this gourmet hotdish." Winnie had an impressive cookbook collection and was a great admirer of Julia Child.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


The uninvited guest is a deadly pest and has destroyed ash trees in 13 states and 2 Can. provinces. It appeared here in MN in May, 2009. The tiny green insect threatens to destroy many millions of trees. Itasca county, where I live, has 60-90 million ash trees. Are they on the borer's menu? Noam Chomsky, "The US supreme court has just handed much more power to the small sector of the population that dominates the economy."
Feb. 3 was the 51st anniversary of the day the music died. In 1959 Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper were killed in a small plane crash. My favorite Buddy song is "Rave On". Find it on YouTube. "LaBamba" was Valens' signature song and you can also find the Big Bopper singing "Chantily Lace".
I began the day by watching a movie, "Edge of America", released in 2004. It's a good story! Find it at Netflix. My daughter Annie wrote and performed some of the soundtrack. In fact, her song gave the movie its title. If you listen you'll hear my words, too. One day Annie was discouraged and asked me, "What can we do?" I said, "Oh, Annie. We got to climb more mountains, run more miles, climb more trees." She knew what I meant and you would, too, if you lived on the edge of America".
Hickman, "We know that slipping away from reality is no pathway to peace of mind and heart." Daisy Zamore, "I love this body of mine that has lived a life... I love this body that is made of pure earth, seed, root, sap, flower and fruit."
Mae Sarton, "What originally put me off (Matthew) Fox was the absence of an authentic style. The actual telling (of "A Spirituality Named Compassion") is done in a rather pedestrian language, which never lights up the material for me."
MaryO, "...on the daily tidal flats so silently abide the tribes of clams." Now there's an authentic style with lights.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Mary O, "Some poems are... like a letter written to a friend." Hickman, "So in the healing from the wounds of grief, a generous amount of silence will help us rest in the depths of our own soul, and find peace." M Sarton, "I feel bereft now that the muse has withdrawn and no poem comes to interrupt my hours at my desk."
From my journal 3-28-05, "Look for me where the stars go down! Find me in the high clouds. In one moment I'm on a journey that takes me near and brings me far." July 12, 2007, "Brandon has taken the sunshine."
I looked for Patrick DesJarliat on the Internet today. He is the Red Lake Ojibwe who created the Hamm's beer bear. That bear is still for sale! I was surprised to learn that during WWII he entered government service and taught an art workshop at a Japanese Relocation Camp. Their plight reminded him of what had happened to the indigenous peoples of America. He joined the Navy and returned home after the war. In the 1950s he created the Hamm's bear and the Land O' Lakes butter maiden. I found his son Robert on Facebook and left a comment.
I recently purchased "Elvis: Moody Blues". It was the last album released during his lifetime. Friends say the last song he ever sang was "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain", Aug. 16, 1977. He accompanied himself on the piano. Four days before his death "Way Down" hit #1. "Unchained Melody" was a live recording. The Righteous Brothers may have a better recording but what a challenge. Elvis did it live and in 3 octaves. No one would say this is his best album but it reached #3 on Billboard and sales exceeded 2 million and it went double-platinum. I used to cry whenever he sang "Danny Boy"... but I don't do that anymore.
I played a few rounds of "13" solitaire in honor of the lonely king. In fact, I played until I won with short breaks to dance and also to visit the exercise room on the fifth floor.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Obama to Supreme Court, "You made a bad decision that's going to hurt this country. Corporations already have too much power. You just handed them more." Nancy Pelosi, "We will put a 5.6% tax surcharge on any income over one million and pay for more jobs." But the wealthy rage, that will be an declaration of war based on class! There has always been a class war in the US. It was unprovoked and undeclared and the poor were always the losers. Bush handed his rich buddies a free ride. That was 10 years ago. How long should one expect to ride on a free ticket?
Concerning the joy of victory in war the poet June Jordan wrote, "I suggest to you it's a hit, the same way that crack is, and it doesn't last long." I've heard that violence is addicting. My son Charles is a cage fighter and he gets high on exchanging blows with other men.
Mary O, "Poetry is prayer, it is passion and story and music, it is beauty, comfort, it is agitation, declaration, it is thanksgiving." Hickman, "Our hearts go out to those who are young and sustain a major grief too soon, before they have had carefree years to treasure."
Today I was listening to the cd "At Blackwater Pond: Mary Oliver Reads Mary Oliver". She began speaking "Wild Geese". It struck me that these are the words that I'd read long ago. In this poem I discovered MaryO and she discovered me. If you have the book "Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems Volume One", turn to the "Wild Geese" on page 110, and you will find me there.

Monday, February 1, 2010


James Dean, "Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today." Meridel LeSueur, "It comes like this - the song - the gentle giant hum of earth, and its sons and daughters are not in canisters of bombs." Emma Goldman, "They (idealists) have advanced mankind and enriched the world."
Kitty came over last night. She and Ann did 20 minutes of PM yoga, I did about 10. I'd prepared a broccoli cheese pie which we all enjoyed for a late supper.
When I was about 12-yrs-old my mother got into the habit of inviting Taig W to our house for supper every other Sunday. Taig was an unwashed sort of person. He wore dirty clothes and had a bad smell about him. Mom always made me sit next to Taig and I always objected. One day I asked why I had to sit by him. She pushed back my hair, looked into my eyes and declared, "Because you are a nice girl. I know you would never say anything rude or unkind to our guest." Wow! She was counting on me to make the poor old man feel welcome at our table! I did not disappoint her. One day we moved to the far side of town and Taig came no more to our friendly door.
When I was much younger I was staying with my Grandma Vanoss on the second floor of a building on 4th Ave in Mpls. As we sat down to eat our dinner I said, "This is a lot of food for two people." She stared at me in amazement. Then she told me to eat nothing, she put on her sweater and left. Several minutes later she returned with an old man. He was tattered but clean. After we had all eaten she gave him his hat and he left. I didn't know his name and we never saw him again. Grandma said my words were like an angel giving her direction. She had gone immediately out to the street and invited a stranger to eat with us.
Mary O, "Don't worry, sooner or later I'll be home... my shoulders covered with stars."