A Pleasant Chat With Myself …with no regrets

Writing 201, poetry: Pleasure, Sonnet, Apostrophe
(not that kind of apostrophe…)

                     Say What, SELF?

Talking to Myself is something I do
Listing accomplishments, dreams, and regrets.
Bragging to Self is always permitted
as long as the truth is told.

But sometimes I resent what SELF has to say
in questioning and doubting and high-handed
pouting over things that
I never got to do.

Travel might have been, should have been, would have been
had the opportunity and ability been present
much sooner in life than it was..

What’s that you say, Self?–
I didn’t apply myself?
I wasted much of the time of my life
on the mundane and unnecessary (in the grand scheme)
pursuits such as housework and not
enough adventure and travel?

Well that’s not the case!  I hasten to say–
I’m not indignant, I just need to explain.
My years as a gadabout (now I only can write about)
Only regretting but never forgetting
the places I did NOT get to and sites unseen.

What’s that you say, Self?
I never got to Australia — why not?
Well you know the reason…lack of money.
No, it is NOT an excuse
a trip to my Grandpa’s land
never made the itinerary
until it was too late.

Well, I’ve been to Minnesota, where I’m infamous for closing the airport
twice in two years.

What’s that you’re saying, S?
Yes, indeed there IS now a sign on the door
It’s the airport that never closes,
rain, sleet or snow notwithstandingl
but it did clamp down in a blizzard
(NO it is not fair to blame it on ME,
just because of a misunderstanding…

Well, OK, do you remember THIS, Self?

I’ve been to the jungle and mountaintops, where I slept in relative comfort
guarded by masked men with guns.
I love that cool, lofty city, high in the mountains–rebels and soldiers, and all.
Now don’t get judgemental and argumental, it was all pure and nobel.
YES, I do admit to thinking as the shadow appeared on the wall–
what the hell am I doing here, after all?

 What’s that you ask, SELF?
Now–don’t take me to task, prattling about morality
and culpability, and what would people think?
You know that I always bask in adventure and human rights
YES I was able to deal with the ghosts aflight in the nights.

So, sophistication was never my thing, and try as I might there was no chance
to be anything but me–boring old ME.

What is it now, SELF?
You remember it all? You DID love the days when I
could run through airports without too much effort,
and react bravely to full-gear soldiers with rifles, looking for passports
— and exist for weeks on a few Spanish phrases.

At the end of this sonnet, if that’s what it is,
Myself and I have agreed that no changes are needed
to worry and fret and make-up regrets, and argue and re-hash old times we would change
Now I can WRITE about memories of times when I REALLY was traveling…
not just in rhymes.

When–Be Specific

Day 9 Writing 201,Poetry: Cold, Found Poetry, Epistrophe/Amaphora
I didn’t do the “found poetry” part of the assignment yet.

                                         BE SPECIFIC

Once in awhile I think of the song “Once in Awhile.”
Once in awhile I say hello to someone I see only once in awhile.
Once in awhile it is “Now and Then”

WHEN? they ask, when?
When will we meet?  Will we meet now?
Now, now is the time to meet–NOW
Not “sometime” if its “sometime–not now.”

To put off ’til tomorrow only brings sorrow
sorrow of putting off ’til tomorrow, when tomorrow may never come
Tomorrow may never come.

Come with me now, or meet me tomorrow–don’t make excuses
or make us recluses, come meet me tomorrow at ONE.

here’s another for today…

                                                                     COLD FEET

Cold feet he had when he asked her to dance,
but he stamped and stamped his cold feet
and he let his warm heart take the chance.

“Oh yes,” she said and followed his lead.

His lead led to twirling and whirling the girl, and
the girl felt such joy–such joy and laughter
laughter and joy that lived ever after

and he never, ever, again had cold feet.

An Elegy to an Endless Moment in Time

Day 8: Writing 201,Poetry:   Flavor, Elegy, Enumeratio

An Endless Moment

Sometimes a moment can encompass an hour,
a few days or a week enhances the power
of a memory — how poignant or sweet
or mundane as a walk down a street.

Fraught with danger, when meeting a stranger,
some moments include a flash of lightning
that strikes like a bolt and never retreats
no matter how old, or how far time has traveled,
the moment lives on and is never unraveled.

A moment remembered in memory unchanged, ever the same
no embroidery of the facts of the night.
The sprinkle of stars on the velvet black sky, lit the atmosphere
as the brilliance of a meteor shower, creating a twinkle in time.

Over and over, in reminiscence, we walk down that street
his hand takes mine, and warms to the welcome and tries a kiss…
and the rest of the tale is history

There is no happy sequel, all things being equal
but never forgotten by time as the years preserved and enfolded
that sweet long moment in time.

The Neighborhood Dance, or Taming the Wild Assonants

Writing 201, Poetry–Day 7: Neighborhood, Ballad, Assonance

(This rhythym sort of works to the tune of “Sweet Betsy from Pike.”
or even “Beverly Hillbilly song.”)

Neighborhood Dance

A natty Anteater’s Aunt wanted a chance to meet an
Easy-going Eel sufficient in charms, the
Idea she had was to learn how to dance, but
Only one catch–the Eel had no arms.  So
Unity of moves was hard to enhance
until the Risqué Raccoon suggested:
“Why not freelance?”

There’s Work to be Done…but Poetry is SUCH Fun!

Writing 201: Poetry, Day Six — Faces, Found Poetry, Chiasmus
(what the heck is Chiasmus?)

just a few books
just a few books

            Booksellers Lament

Books in order means order in books
to find them is the key
with thousands of books the ONE that is wanted
is the one nowhere to be found.

Well, it MUST be somewhere unless it was sold!

If order is everything and if everything is in order
the book business thrives, sporadically
(at least theoretically)
but only if you’re listing, they keep insisting
books on the shelves can’t sell themselves

an order’s an order but books MUST be in order
to fill the order–when there’s an order to fill.

Thanks T. S. Eliot, I loved meeting J. Alfred Prufrock

[This poem by T. S. Eliot is my all-time favorite.  I had not decided on an appropriate entry for this weekend’s Writing 201 assignment, which was to offer a work by “someone else,” other than our own.   I suppose it was serendipity that started the sound track in my brain, whispering the words “In the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo” … and the T. S. Eliot masterwork with the fun name that has thrilled new students forever.   (Perhaps that is a bit over-stated, but at least I can say that the poem with its wonderful metaphors and similes and all that poetic stuff thrilled ME.  Nevermind that I was 50-ish when I first read it.)   Courtesy of Bartleby.com Great Books Online, http://www.bartleby.com/198/1.html

by T. S. Eliot 

LET us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a patient etherized upon a table;

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,

The muttering retreats


Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels

And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:

Streets that follow like a tedious argument

Of insidious intent

To lead you to an overwhelming question….


Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,


The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes

Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,

Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,

Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,

Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,


And seeing that it was a soft October night,

Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time

For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,

Rubbing its back upon the window panes;


There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;

There will be time to murder and create,

And time for all the works and days of hands

That lift and drop a question on your plate;


Time for you and time for me,

And time yet for a hundred indecisions,

And for a hundred visions and revisions,

Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go


Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time

To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”

Time to turn back and descend the stair,

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—


(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)

My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,

My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—

(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)

Do I dare


Disturb the universe?

In a minute there is time

For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,


I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

I know the voices dying with a dying fall

Beneath the music from a farther room.

  So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—


The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,

And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,

When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,

Then how should I begin

To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?


  And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—

Arms that are braceleted and white and bare

(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)

Is it perfume from a dress


That makes me so digress?

Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.

  And should I then presume?

  And how should I begin?

.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets


And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes

Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws

Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!


Smoothed by long fingers,

Asleep … tired … or it malingers,

Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,

Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?


But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,

Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,

I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,

And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,


And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,

After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,

Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,

Would it have been worth while,


To have bitten off the matter with a smile,

To have squeezed the universe into a ball

To roll it toward some overwhelming question,

To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,

Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—


If one, settling a pillow by her head,

  Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;

  That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,

Would it have been worth while,


After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,

After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—

And this, and so much more?—

It is impossible to say just what I mean!

But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:


Would it have been worth while

If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,

And turning toward the window, should say:

  “That is not it at all,

  That is not what I meant, at all.”

.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .


No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

Am an attendant lord, one that will do

To swell a progress, start a scene or two,

Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,

Deferential, glad to be of use,


Politic, cautious, and meticulous;

Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;

At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—

Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …


I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.


I have seen them riding seaward on the waves

Combing the white hair of the waves blown back

When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown


Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Who said Girls are Not Good at Math?

One of the things I always wanted to understand is the wonders of Math.

My algebra teacher said “try, try again, if at first you fail.
An understatement…like trying to teach Math to a whale.

Here is a poem I’ve penned (so to speak) which conveys the point I am trying to make for no reason than thanks from those fortunate old lads and lasses that never had ME in their math classes.

Is it true what they said, that girls don’t know math?

There was an old lady named Madge,

who didn’t get Math as a girl

as hard as she tried, the more her brain fried.

I’ll get this, I will,

if its the last thing I do, she said as she studied

and figured

in spite of the glaze on her eyes.

Don’t confuse me with squares and axioms or paradigms

paradoxes, place holders, equations or boxes.

Then one day a bit of “New Math” gave her some clues

where a pencil and paper would only confuse

It was grey matter that made a much better board

for figures and signs and all sorts of

Math Tricks.

Finally!  Eureka!  a breakthrough, Madge said

as she solved two plus two

and started to realize what she could do.

One more life time should master Madge’s math disaster.

Beginning all over without being reminded that

 “Girls are NOT good at Math.”


[This piece was originally written about five years ago, and has languished since in my DRAFT file.  I am posting it today because I don’t want to lose it into cyberspace.   This is the same garden, I call it the “tree garden” now, because the young trees mentioned herein are now maybe a 70 feet tall.      The garden itself is about 15 years old now, having been previously a cabbage patch and apple orchard.]


The garden is about 80 feet long and half as wide.  At first it was a patch of former farm land, on which grew plenty of cabbage and cauliflower for many years, and occasional specialty crops such as broom corn, tobacco, or cotton.   Well, yes, cotton doesn’t really grow in Ohio…at least it doesn’t make a very impressive boll.   Tobacco wasn’t exactly prolific either.  But this never stopped my late husband, who would always have a go at growing any legal crop.

But this blog entry is not about farming and crops.   It’s about a patch of ground which has grown into a wonderful garden.   At least I think so.   Most of the foliage plants and trees are volunteers–meaning they weren’t planted, but just appeared on their own.  There are maple trees which originated in a pot, from a seed that landed in a flower pot and grew unattended and unnoticed, and maples which just appeared…like Topsy.   There are other trees, growing from seed, I’ll try to find out their names.

Yes, there are some plants that came from a nursery: a bright red-berried Winterberry, and her counterpart the male Winterberry, Gentleman Jim.   Not sure that’s the proper name, but it fits.  There are two Hawthornes, one of which became ill and threatened to die, but it came back as green and lovely as ever.   Bittersweet, a plant I wanted because it was a favorite of my grandmother.  Assorted grasses.  A huge shrub-tree called a ——- and red flowers which have blade-like leaves.  A breathtaking yellow lily, which is spectacular when the rabbits or deer don’t eat it.   Rhododendrons, a deep rose color, bloom profusely, and are also a favorite munchy for the deer in winter.  Heather.  Two red rose bushes.  Six Boxwoods. Assorted other flowers.

Ten years ago I personally dug out raised beds, by digging out trenches or paths between the raised areas.   One of the paths is made of triangle shaped pieces of wood cut from the stairs when the house was built.

And of course the oregano…planted by husband twenty years ago, which has spread magnificently.   The slender spiky purple blossoms smell delicious, adding their color to the summer garden.

In spring some purple hogswort grows near a clumb of ::) in at one end of the path.

A variety of grasses have spread throughout the garden: Japanese blood grass with its red trimmed leaves, the tall waving Plume Grass, the striped Zebra grass, all lend their special charm.

An Oak tree that began life in a flower bed next door, now adorns a front corner of the garden.   A friend and I dug that tree out of its original location, which was not nearly as easy as it sounds, ten years ago.   This once struggling sapling–excuse the clichés please–is well on its way to becoming a Mighty Oak.   Another Oak, a volunteer which remained after pruning of the garden to form paths and island beds, started in a thicket of grass, weeds, and tiny seedlings which were culled to rescue an Oak and a Maple.  Both are now fifteen feet tall.

Last year in sorting through a large border area, a big Spirea shrub with rose colored blossoms had almost disappeared it had been so encroached upon by maple saplings before we resurrected it by cutting away some of the excess trees.    Those that remain are becoming stronger and taller.  Taking out trees selectively works for me, usually the smaller or thinner trees, a decision sometimes hard to make.   The pesky rose prickers are cut out among the trees that line paths which branch off into new areas, becoming secluded side areas.   Paths formed early on with the push mower.

The project has been very rewarding for more than a decade.  For the first few years only the youngest children recognized the paths and foliage areas, and loved to balance on the rather rickety triangle-wood walk.

Not as welcome, but beautiful in their own way, are the Multiflora Roses planted seven decades ago along the hedgerows of the farm.  Vicious prickers attack those who try to tame them.   They like the garden as well as the tiniest spring flowers, and lend their brand of wild beauty.

On its way, theoretically, to becoming a Fairy Garden, a child size bench and a chair painted a light green, with multicolor polka dots, are nestled amont the paths.  An abandoned bird cage found a home among the branches, and shines when the sun is slanted in the right position.  Yet to come, if all turns out as planned, are some colorful little “road” signs, some gourd bird-houses, some sparkly things to attract attention.

There are both cardinals and bluejays, among all kinds of birds.   They argue noisely over air rights and landing branches.  Rabbits and groundhogs make homes in the garden.  The deer wander through nibbling here and there in winter.

What is that saying about a garden?

…… to be continued.

The Great Cat Caper, Shelter Edition

Getting the Cats and Building the Shelter:

We have a big feral cat population here in our neighborhood, or I should say more accurately we DID have a problem number of cats last year.   Originally there were three kittens dropped off by some inconsiderate person in our front yards.  They disappeared for a year or so, then all came back.  A year ago there were a lot of kittens here, but the APL (Animal Protective League) came and collected all of the adult cats and took them away to be spayed or neutered.    The option to have them return, or to have the APL find homes for them, was ours.  Many of the kittens were put up for adoption, but most of the adult cats came back here to “the compound” to live in their original colonies.

Now I have between eight and twelve cats that live outside, and in the winter we create a warm and safe shelter for them located on my back deck.   The neighbors also maintain a home for a dozen or so cats…although I believe that the actual population is approximatel 12-15 cats that live here between us.  We count them at feeding time, and some of the cats are known double-dippers when it comes to having meals…they dine at either or both places.   I have between four and 13 cats here every day.

In the summer months the cats more or less hang out in the yards, on swings, lawn furniture, or here and there in the wooded  and the grassy areas.  Sometimes they camp out and I don’t see certain ones for days.  Other times there are “extras” or visiting cats, who live elsewhere.

The shelter consists (this year) of a picnic table, some plywood sheets, and several tarps.  Under the table are the three tub-shelters which the APL woman made, and are lined with Styrofoam and straw…they have a round pipe entrance to each.  Right now the large tarps are in temporary position, needing tying-down and  otherwise attaching to the railings.  The tarps will soon be fixed in such a way as to create a tent apparatus tied to some umbrella stands.    Then we will bring up some un-cut bales of straw to place around the perimeter, and provide warmth and protection from the wind.

I have a big contraption that serves as a feeding-station, which I can reach from the sliding door leading into the house.  There is a feeding pan, and a water dish…which has to have the ice removed a few times a day when the weather gets colder.

Technically I had planned to build (or have built) a proper roof for the deck, but we ran out of money for such projects again, and the ceiling is open.

Part Two of the Great Cat Caper:

Now here is where I say that I have six cats that live inside my house.  No one has to tell me that is TOO MANY, but right now it is a necessary number.  Tinkerbell, the crotchety old lady cat is the oldest and the original survivor of our first cat population.  I call her Mrs. Tinky, because it is a more appropriate name for her in my opinion.   Tink originally lived with my granddaughter, who moved to California briefly about ten years ago and left the cat here with me.  Tink has never forgotten that outrage, and she has been my cat ever since.

There is a huge Maine Coon, long-haired black male cat who I saved from a bad end when I adopted him from the barn.  Moby had been abandoned, a scraggly looking skinny creature, and I agreed to my family that if he responded when I visited the barn the following morning I would take him to the veterinarian.  True to form, in answer to my call Moby came out from the back of th barn looking like something from the Black Lagoon, with spider webs and straw and leaves hanging from his fur.  He went to the vet for his shots and exam, and she predicted that “the other cats might want to be nice to him, because he’s going to be a Big Boy.”     Moby is now about fourteen years old.

A few years later, about nine years, my grand-daughter (the same one) brought an Easter basket with four kittens in it…each one cuter than the other…and of course I fell in love with two of them.  Those kittens hardly looked like they were the same litter, although they did have the same mother.  We named “the kittens” Toby and Pearl.  Toby a nice tabby, Pearl a small all-black short-haired cat.

Two winters ago, when it was sub-zero temperatures, a beautiful calico cat which I had named Sister, came into the house when I opened the door to put out food for the outside cats…and refused to leave.   Sister is four or five.

Early this year, when it was warn enough to dismantle one of the two shelters on my deck, I had it partly unwrapped when I discovered two very tiny kittens in the straw.  Their mother is Peggy, a black and white short-haired cat, very small.  She had had kittens the year before, and they had died before they could walk.   The little kittens in the straw remained in their nest until Peggy brought them out, and only then I continued with the demolition of the shelter.

One of the kittens, a Calico, had the disorder known as “wobbling kitten” which affects young cats to varying degrees.


The Calico could barely walk, and I had been toying with the idea of taking her in.  Her sister…who I named Baby…was able to climb off of the deck and run around in the flower beds, but able to climb back up into the protected deck area.  The Calico could “swim” its way to getting off the deck, but could not get up again.  Baby could walk upright, with a strange gait, but was obviously not able-bodied.   The Calico disappeared one night, and I brought Baby into the house.

So, Baby makes six cats.  Baby can walk and run, but frequently falls over and since she can’t control her movements from her brain, she often crashes into things.   She is adorable, very friendly and happy, and even the other cats like her or at least tolerate her.     Baby leaps up onto the furniture and plops down on Mrs. Tinky…who would scream bloody murder if it was one of the other cats.   Mrs. Tinky hates kittens, but makes an exception for Baby.


Paper, please: Ode to a Genuine Map

[Writing 201, Poetry.  DAY FOUR: Metaphors]

                          Paper, Please…

One of the things I quite enjoy and sorely miss is a Map,
a good old fashion paper map in a neatly-folded packet.
Nevermind that it opens easily, but defies return to its jacket

Assuming a set of highway coordinates– say 77 and 211,
a North or a West or the name of a city,
a paper map illustrates orientation in words and symbols
helpful and geared to simplicity

Spoken directions–out in the boondocks
may be  clear to a resident but like mud to a stranger
who needs good direction to get where he’s going.
it won’t help him to look for a “guy mowing” a field

Clearly murky and  useless advice
“turn left at Jim Handy’s place, over the creek,
then right at the big Chestnut  tree (or it may be an Elm…)
about a mile, or two, where the old well used to be.”

At a four-way junction there is no function to say
“a drug store on the corner” an ambiguous term
which is not helpful at all for Right or Left
and East or West can be clearly obscured
when the sun has disappeared.

Much clearer indeed is direction with proper inflection–
take this way, then left, then two rights and a STOP sign,
a mile to the South and you will find
the address…a big white house with a blue barn–

Give me a good old paper map–even ripped and torn
it is  better than guessing if I will ever get where I’m going.
I don’t miss the cheerful depressing voice, which after agonizing
pauses and fear of malfunction, startles in the silence–
After twisting and turning, on an intricate quagmire of unlikely paths:
“This is NOT your destination.”