Dying/broken/forgiven.... now I begin

Born: 17-06-56....gemini.... monkey
re-born: 3-09-80
born again\found: 14-04-08
other notable dates: 10-03-68; 03-09-87; 23-03-96;
1-05-98; 31-01-02; 5-04-04

Interests: movement, stressed/transgressive embodiment, lived experience (body\space\time\relation)
expression ( word, dance, text, image, story, music, poetics)
learning, yielding......

Hopes for the blog:
offer up the wild intersectedness of lived experience and engage others in creative, expressive, perhaps irreverant, hopefully playful, and respectful encounters....
enact kindness
create moments of pause for disclosure, discovery, stillness

Saturday, December 31, 2011


for years I simply couldn't see
the colour of hybridity
and, close at hand, the greenest eye
as elemental as a sigh....
Sweet pendulum of rise and fall
responded to the silent call
of amber's strange familiar glow
relying on my heart to know
this grove of wild affinity
both wrecking ball and harmony
this tender ambiguity 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

....the pedigree of honey

a good thief needs a good plan
thieving is the difference
food & clothing
hungry & cold

a good thief needs a good conscience
so utterly convinced of the justice
she can , without guile or shame, load a space - heater and a mini -fridge
shopping cart
and, with an industriousness bordering on sincerity,
push that cart
past the checkouts

a good thief needs a good memory
so she doesn't arrive at meetings, conversations
wearing clothes that other people don't realize they have
a good thief needs a good story
every day life 

Saturday, December 24, 2011


.... on the other side of longest night
I wish you all
the gift of deep intimacy
the contentment of a heart at peace with itself
the sweetness of one's own solitude
the joy of friends and colleagues, renegades and rogues, poets and story-tellers

all the best of whatever season you celebrate
thank you for the blessings of your creative energies

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Is there anything more absurd.....

November ended with definite rain, heavy enough to sound like slap, feel like lash...
that was the morning of that day, slap & lash, wet, but still preferable to the human versions...
of slap and lash, that is

then, the day itself, beautiful work and raw hope, embarrassing in their earnest intensity
buttressed against bureaucracy & habit, desperate not to succumb
wondering if triumph is nothing but a carrot or maybe a lemon
make lemonade,
there's a noble venture
exhausted, treading water end of day, almost dark a red dusk sky stopped me in my tracks
in the middle of the parking lot, tranquil pink pouring stark and lovely over tree silhouettes
so calm, I am present for my breath
I see it become part of the twilight
remembering a saying about  red sky at night

November. The most bipolar month so far. Not its fault. Warm & cold;
wet & dry;
grass & gravel
wired & tired
cheerful & jaded
sick & tired
good intentions no excuses
nothing but excuses,  rationalizations, really... & deceit
supposedly all that distinguishes humans from animals
there's a noble venture
just admit being swamped even though there's no good reason
as if some awesome judge is taking account of the good reasons
oh, wait,  I guess I'm the judge, the committee in my head, whoa...
pride, my old nemesis, is that it?? But it's not
not the same as in the before time
I've got no trouble owning the darkness
saying I don't know how to do that, help me. My mistakes no longer make me small...
so, WTF with treading water, who's in charge of water, damn, it's me
haven't written from my heart in weeks for myself for others who care enough to read
haven't read from others' hearts in weeks for myself for others who care enough to write
yeah, yeah, I know, no sense of obligation, I get it...
but I want to be haunted by what matters
there's a noble venture

sickness asserts itself
something I cannot get over
days pass
puking, urging, shitting, groaning, staggering, stinking, shivering, sweating, pathetic
huddled, sipping screaming hot herbal tea,
savoring cold orange juice & water, as if I had never tasted it before...
soothed by time & gravity
I yield. There's a noble venture.
I move into December, feeling the pull of the long night, realizing that I'm longing for it...
longing for it

thanks to forethought, fore-ordained plans
I head North, where clean cold awaits. I know this cold
necessarily unhurried
waiting,  I notice simple, silly things
is there anything more absurd than a pigeon running away from a bus?
I feel something give inside
I yield.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Black Thumb

a lifeline
of 12 steps
advises: get a plant
or a pet
if it's alive in 6 months
move on to a person...
risky business, in this garden
are the only plants that grow around me
all the others die as soon as I bring them
not a metaphor for anything
except dead plants

one has lasted for over
3 years it sits in my kitchen
drinking in water and stray strands 
of sunlight
I think it's waiting 
the cat

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

this is a story about time when i was afraid in the dark

My spouse believes in being energy efficient. When we leave a room, we turn out the light. I frequently come home to a dark house, one brave light valiantly beckoning in the room at the end of the upstairs hallway. That would be my spouse’s study, and the only light on in the house.
The laundry room is in the basement, at the bottom and to the right of a long, wooden stairway. There is a light switch at the top of the stairs, said switch being a key feature in my decision to buy the house.
On a typical weekend, I get myself pumped to do a round of laundry. It’s immensely satisfying to begin a task that has a finite and achievable end.  This particular weekend, I am home alone, a somewhat unusual Saturday afternoon with spouse out on an errand. I take the two storey trek with my piled high blue hip-hugger laundry basket, down the stairs from upstairs, round the corner, down the stairs to the basement, flicking on lights as I go. I slide the basket onto the top of the dryer, and am happily humming and sorting. Colours, bright colours, whites….colours first, detergent, dials and then the sweet sound of water surging and squishing into the washer… and then….. for no reason that I can fathom, I am plunged into a blackness so sudden and complete that I gasp; I actually put my hand on my chest and reach frantically for a surface….
…. And then I hear these….sounds….the door clicking shut at the top of the stairs, and, unthinkably, FOOTSTEPS, on the ceiling above my head. I’m talking to myself as I gaze about looking for some landmark amidst the hovering looming shapes and then there is a huge CLUNK that literally propels me towards what has to be the door, and away from those awful chugging breathing sounds….
I scrabble my way to what I pray fervently is the bottom of the stairs and, stealthily, I crawl up, one stair at a time, ears attuned to every squeak from the upstairs intruder. I turn on the light switch… softly, slow motion, silently turn the knob and open the door a crack. I peer into my darkened downstairs and see…nothing. I run wildly about the space and turn on every light. Breathlessly, I look around. The next move is mine. 

Monday, October 31, 2011


it was one of those 
so cruel that I was too
to be angry
I feel the unguarded gasp in my chest
the terrible oh
of more terrible
this is one of those
I will remember
what I need to do
to keep myself 
from now on
I keep that 

Friday, October 14, 2011

sweet dreams are made of this*

* with apologies to Eurythmics

The dream feels real. Dropped into a corridor teeming with people, scattered carelessly all over the floor, I pick my way through the vastness of strewn bodies, some awake, some asleep,  some stoned, some moaning, some  staring, laying in various positions of twist and turn. I recognize no one, yet I know that  I need to be afraid. I make my way as best as I can, and, as is typical in many of my dreams, I am carrying too much, a purse over my shoulder, a larger satchel,  my coat over my arm, since it has gotten unexpectedly unbearably warm in the moments since I have arrived. Suddenly one of the quiet staring men grabs my ankle. I startle and gasp, and in that moment I drop my coat. He holds on tightly. I pull against his grasp, I wrench myself free, and I reach down to get my coat and get the hell out of there..... and then I am running for my car, and I reach into the coat pocket for the keys... no one is following me, but it's only a matter of moments until something awful happens, I can feel it.... and that's  when it hits me..... I have his coat... and all I can do is sob....I halt and turn and look at the door  and  shudder at what awaits me on the other side even though I know I have to go back and get my own coat and in order to do that I have to find ...him.. And not get caught again. ..... my despair and resignation and fear are humming .... and then I wake up.  I think two things: time to move  my keys to my purse, and, at least my dreams are not subtle.

My Dreams are Not Subtle

My dreams are not subtle
they boil and they bubble
the tower I'm climbing  is turning to rubble
with each step I'm trying to outrun the trouble
that's chasing my heart
can't stop racing
the clock winding down
all the windows have lights facing east

My dreams are not subtle
confusion and muddle
dilemmas around every turn there's a puddle
and when I splash through
winter winds make me huddle
I'm placing my hands
begin lacing
my snowshoes leave tracks
 is facing the beast

My dreams are not subtle
all crush and no cuddle
my dreams are not subtle
silk smooth feels like stubble
I look at one face
and can only see double
dreams bracing
against time erasing
the stars falling into
an ocean of sorrow at least
my dreams are not subtle

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sword-swallower, centrefold, balls & babes

A month later, Autism camp continues to give rise to memories and insights. Perhaps these memories remain so vivid and insistent because autism is such an ongoing part of my necessarily intertwined personal and professional life. This past weekend, almost a month to the day since camp ended, I facilitated a workshop  on Movement Education and Autism, an achievement of sorts, since I've been beating the movement education drum for 15 years .... now, it seems, administrators, policy makers, therapists, specialists, EA's, PSW's, and other decision makers have "discovered" the value of meaningful movement experiences for kids, youth and adults with autism.
Perhaps they should come to camp and see first hand these kids, youth and young adults in action....

I want to tell you about two such young men.... Alexander and Billy. Take a quick glance up at the title, and read on.
Alexander is 17 this year.  Tall, dark and handsome; incredible eyes,  a long history of self injury  and anxiety; mostly non verbal but  an immensely effective communicator. Even though he is over 6 feet tall, he frolics and cavorts around like a 5 year old. He loves jumping on any surface that has even a hint of  springiness to it,  and  he loves the water. We swim at a gorgeous pool that has wonderful extras... water slide,  warm jets,  sprays, an incline entry for wheelchair users or anyone with mobility challenges, loads of water toys....   the pool is surrounded by glass and it's easy to see everything that is going on from the lobby. Alexander gets in and swims, floats, bobs, his eyes the only thing visible except for his occasional head lift to pull in a breath. He can be in the water for hours and is usually easy to coax out  with little fanfare or drama..... and then there are days when  he is ready not only to be out but also to be done.... one such day he gave the spectators in the lobby quite the show. He gets out,  goes to his towel, whips down his trunks and displays himself in all his glorious manhood. Lots of wide eyes in the lobby. Lifeguards and camp workers rush to assist him with his towel, but he is in noooo hurry as he does a leisurely  turn to and fro.We eventually get him  mummied in a towel and then he skips off the deck, chuckling,  supremely contented. What a great swim! This same young man has the most insatiable thirst ... he frequently goes scavenging for water bottles, his own and any one else's in reach. On our week two trip to the amusement park, he went through the picnic area grabbing and draining water bottles until we were able to chase him down and give him  his own quite large  bottle of water.  He chugs that and while we are congratulating ourselves on this feat of re-hydration, he manages to get into The Hungry Bear restaurant , grab a lady's beer right off the table and chug that down as well.... we are quite used to running interference for our campers and we offer to buy the nice lady a beer to replace the one she just lost. She graciously accepts and gives Alexander a high five... "he's a natural" she says, admiringly. Alex has a big grin.
Billy, on the other hand, is more subtle. Also an older teenager, 18 this year, another kid who is non verbal but who has no trouble at all with communicating,  all arms and legs, two monster prosthetics on his huge feet, blond,  with a dreamy expression on his face since he became a teenager  and figured out that gorgeous young women dominate the field  in disability services. He has a goofy laugh and big arm gestures that accompany that laugh. His favourite trick; convincing the girls who work with him that it is their job to go and get the ball when he throws it, or his version of fetch..... and it is usually a cute girl in tight jean  shorts, and the shorter the better. The shorts I mean, not the girls. Billy throws the ball... cute girl goes to get it , cute girl bends over and picks up the ball, Billy does the goofy laugh and the big gestures. I give him  the eye. He laughs even more. He knows that I know what he's doing.  I shake my head, Billy, you are so busted.... but I am trying not to smile..... what's up here I ask .... he likes it, says cute girl. No shit,  I think. As gently as I can while preserving both their dignity I explain to her what is likely going on.....she looks at Billy and decides that maybe he ought to be the one doing the running and bending..... he shrugs. Ya can't blame a guy for trying.
Camp is a place where we can participate in meaningful movement, something that everyone needs and deserves. And, it's a place  where meaningful things happen between people who care about each other. Till next summer.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Life line

Any teacher will tell you this.... the first few weeks back, everyone gets sick. It's all those kids with their sweaty snotty sneezing and breathing and mauling swarming around together; no way not to get sick amidst all those bodily fluids. My level of teaching is not so different, same swarm, different age.  So it's no surprise that I am sitting hunched and huddled in a dark room at midnight wrapped around a steamy mug of hot lemon. The house is so quiet that I can hear all its machinery creaking and wheezing; I am quiet, miserable, achy... a strange twin of the house, creaking and wheezing myself. It's one of those wild moments .... you know, when you're thrown back to all the other moments just like this one, some karmic rabbit hole slide to another universe of the mind... my posture calls me to other such hunched over hot mugs quietude, hot toddies as a kid, a forbidden soothing swallow, more potent than all the vicks  vapour rub in the world, the searing comfort pulling me down into a dreamy sleepiness better even  than sleep, more of them as an adult, with my own unregulated proportions of medicinal ingredients, and later, when the rum and whisky could no longer be counted on to provide anything other than  numbed slumber, the move to less enjoyable concoctions.... but always the heat, the hunch.... I wonder if I ever drank one of those knowing that I would not be getting right back at whatever it was that was waiting for me after I got up.... and there was no doubt that I would be getting up. How did I learn to deny the call of necessary rest.... I wonder... how can that surrender  to the solace of hot lemon not carry me on to day of rest, to taking a break.... it's unthinkable... funny how that memory works, that unthinkable ....
funny how that all came back just sitting here, hunched over the comfort drink,  with its promise of  respite, which is all I can get my head around right now; which is enough...
it is.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


first, a necessary wound
pain's intimate clarity
finds its mark
like hell
no where to hide
imagine instead 
rushing & crunching 
through pile after pile of fallen leaves
soft amber swirling

then, one long, soaring moment
pours strange benevolence into a necessary scar
imagine its sweet resilience
cradling every treachery 
released into soft amber

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Nothing like one's partner having  major surgery to keep one compassionately occupied for a whole string of days.
The worst is over..... back home soon and with perspective on the continuing saga of health care... or are those two words becoming an oxymoron?

Looking forward to writing my way out of .... and into .. . the highs and lows of this experience.

Hope y'all are your usual subversively creative and intriguing selves. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back to the regular workplace

When I know myself, I know others
When I master myself, I do not need to master others 
Tao Te Ching
Chapter 33

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Did you know 
you were born
a night of wondering about
you began 

Would you rather.....

Boys (and, sometimes, girls), of a particular age play " would you rather", a game of word play, a game of awful choices, all the while trying to out- gross each other with progressively disgusting  leaps of imaginative comparison. I have heard the exchanges for the past two weeks at our autism camp. Here are a few examples:
"would you rather eat the gum off the sole of my shoe, or eat boogers out of your brother's nose?"
"would you rather pick up a dead squirrel or kiss a boy on the mouth?" ( I should point out that homophobia  runs hot and high among the 8-13 year old boys at camp).
"would you rather drink snot or drool?"

You get the gist , I'm sure.

I 've also heard some other versions of "would you rather" over the past two weeks, choices impossible and necessary, choices that have made me laugh and made me cry. Here are a few examples:
Kimmi is a 6 year old Romanian adoptee at our camp. She has autism, but is  in most ways anyone would notice a typical little girl who likes to swim and play and have friends, who is afraid of bees and loud noises,  who perhaps cries  more readily and more intensely than might be comfortable for some, and who perhaps has more focused interest in the minute details of every situation. Kimmi 's mom tells me that Kimmi  will miss the last day of camp. She hates to do this, but Kimmi has received a play date invitation and it happens so seldom that mom feels that she can't say no. Would you rather have your daughter miss the last day of a camp she enjoys more than anything else she does during the year or miss a play date that hardly ever happens?
Bowling is a new activity for camp. Our first foray into bowling was last year with only half the campers going. This summer, we take the whole pack of them..... yup, 55 campers week one and 60 campers week two. Manager of bowling alley week one tells me the kids cannot bring their lunch into the establishment. I tell him they will inhale their lunch in 10 minutes and will be up for their shoes and bowling within five minutes of said inhalation of lunch. He had that look of non-negotiation on his face. I say,  if these kids don't eat their lunch NOW,  you will experience a catastrophe beyond your wildest imaginings. He and I engage in a brief, yet meaningful, staring contest. He says, fine, they can eat. Would you rather let 55  kids and young adults with autism carry out their scheduled lunch or have them move into their respective demonstrations of profound confusion and anxiety?
Dimitri is a genius inhabiting the body of a 7 year old, who looks like a 5 year old,  who thinks everyone at camp is stupid except him. He needs a predictable schedule  and  will tantrum at the slightest variation. He is a drama king, a true virtuoso. One of his tactics is the flop and wail  while protesting the gross injustices of the universe. I ask, do you want to walk or be carried? He wants to tell me that of all the stupid people at camp, I am the stupidest. Maybe so, I agree, but I am not laying on the floor crying like a baby. This is what is known as redirection. Something that gets his mind off his distress. He stops and considers the scenario I have just presented ..... his little forehead scrunching up in concentration. Do you want to walk or be carried? Would you rather get yourself under control or choose to get some help with that?
This summer is the 15th year of this camp. Would I rather be on vacation, or here, with these oft-times complicated, most times delightful kids and young people who want nothing more than to be treated like they have a right to belong?
No contest.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Just Another Manic Monday

So begins day one of week two of autism movement camp for the summer of 2011. Readers of this blog will know that I have written here before about the adventures of offering a camp for kids, youth and young adults with ASD (autism spectrum disorder). I always protect the anonymity of my campers with pseudonyms or avatars  and I sometimes conflate a couple of experiences into one so that the protagonists cannot be identified.
Last week's camp had some intriguing events, and I likely will elaborate on them in future posts. Today, I feel compelled to approach the dramatic similarities between several of  this Monday's experiences and last Monday's experiences. Day One of each week has a special flavour all its own. One might say that day one really brings things out in both the campers and the students who work with them. Last week 55 campers attended with 23 students and 9 angels (angels are senior students with previous experience or former students who return to contribute their experience to assist the students who are in the instructional role for the first time). This week we have 65 campers with 30 students and 12 angels ( although two of these angels can only be there for one day each).
So, the bookend thematic is: poop. What else?
One little guy (older, age 13, but still quite small and cute as a button) celebrated last Monday with a marvelous poop episode.... he pooped in his pants, so we brought him to the bathroom and cleaned that up and then he pooped in the toilet and we cleaned that up and then he pooped a nice little pile on the bathroom floor, and we cleaned that up. All this time, the rest of the campers are waiting on two large, hot, noisy buses to go to a fun place for lunch and then a swim. Cute little guy finally gets on and we go off to the lunch and swim venue. No more poop that day from anyone, although we did have some pee from the cute little guy and then another little guy felt compelled  to make a pee contribution as well. On the bus, of course. Well, not ON the bus, exactly, but while sitting on the bus. On the way back someone opens the window of the emergency exit and the beeper goes  off so the driver has to pull over and one cute little girl panics and begins wailing that she has to get off the bus and she wants to go home. Wailing is contagious, so we want the beeping to stop and the bus to start up again so that takes a bit more time than anyone likes, but we get going. The wailing stops (whew) and all is well for the rest of the ride back . One of the camper's (Victoria, of previous blog fame)  parents has run out of gas and so Victoria must sit and wait until an alternative is arranged. Change in schedule is not the strong suit of most folks with autism, so she is NOT IMPRESSED. Victoria's dad says he's getting a T-shirt that says " I'm the fucking asshole" . That was last Monday.  But, hey, no one died, no one got hurt and no one got lost. And we did not have to use a hose to clean down the walls. All things considered, a good day.
Today, the poop theme continued.  A bit of a wild morning.... a couple of my very good male students were  unexpectedly, albeit, unavoidably absent..... this meant re-jigging the groupings. Note the change reference in the previous paragraph. We begin with 6 UNIMPRESSED boys who can be remarkably ingenious in how they make their disappointment known. But we manage. We get through the morning. We load up the buses, we get to our destination. Lunch is busy, but then, wonderfully, it is time for swim. At 2:10 pm, approximately 40 minutes after we all get in the pool, there is a " fouling" (that means someone, likely one of my guys, shit in the pool and there are little rabbit pellet brown turds in the shallow end where 30 of my youngest AND SHORTEST kids are swimming). Note the change reference in the previous paragraph. Now we must get out of the shallow end and somehow fit them all in the deeper end where they cannot touch bottom [an aside here... of course, we obviously have to carry the little guys  and /or do a major run on the water wings and other personal flotation devices (PFDs... this field has numerous TLA's (three letter acronyms)]. Half of the group opts to get out and head outside to the lovely splash pad, almost as good as the pool. The rest remain in the water looking longingly at the warm, fun, bubbly and infinitely more attractive shallow end which they are not allowed to enter, and wail and moan and complain about how we are ruining their lives and everything is absolutely awful and they hate us.
So then, we finish swim and get out and get them changed into their dry clothes..... we get them on the bus and, yes, ta da, the cute little guy from last Monday, him?... he poops his pants right there on the bus. So we have to stay put and take him off and drag him (carefully ) to the bathroom and clean him up. While we are waiting, one of my angels inadvertently grabs the overhead emergency exit handle and sets off the beeper. The cute little girl, ... yep, the same one from last week... begins to wail that she has to get off the bus and she wants to go home. Consistency is a hallmark of autistic behaviour.  We get the beeping stopped (the angel is mortified.... but what the heck, these things happen...), the de-shitted cute  little guy back on the bus, and we are on the go. Whew. (Again)
We get back to our home base and two of the older boys have peed themselves while on the bus. Their parents assure us that they do not pee themselves. Of course. It's been a long day. We are having tactile hallucinations.
Did I mention that Day One  really brings it out of them??

and now... on to day two. Boldly go.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Show Me a Sign

Back from a week long sign language immersion camp in northern Ontario. Partner and I arrive and commit to " turning off our voices"  with the exception of any medical emergencies (partner has some significant health issues that I would not want to trust to my fledgling  ASL competence). With the exception of a few  more or less unexpected incidents ( an unimpressively underempahsized bed bug outbreak that resulted in six hours of clothes/bedding/towels/ luggage washing with the hottest water possible and the hottest drying possible and a door to our room that had no way to close except to place a chair against it),  some typical attention seeking behaviours from the students under the age of 25, and some cheating (!) from students (speaking in whispers so as not to be detected by the Deaf instructors and other hard of hearing participants), the experience was amazing. I would do it again in a heartbeat. There is a marvelous intimacy in this kind of shared silence and commitment to respecting Deaf culture. I was proud of partner for his steadfastness and his sweet sense of fun in the learning context, and I was proud of myself for the ways I was able to be present for the diverse and textured signs of culture and communication.  There is still lots to process..... and as soon as we returned to home base, I began ramping up for my own camp for kids with autism (which began this week .... as in today....more on that in future posts). But, that's the beauty of reflecting on critical incidents like this immersion camp... there are expressive gifts that await me in the days and weeks ahead. I'm looking forward to visiting fellow bloggers and catching up.... and getting out some posts of my own.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Partner and I will be attending a sign language immersion camp for the next week in a beautiful setting in northern Ontario. No speaking allowed.  Good reflective  grist for the mill for future posts.
Have a grand week, y'all.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Eye of the beholder haiku

white wings settling
among red leaves branches sway
blossoms become birds

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

... and where we love

And where we love is home, 
Home that our feet may leave, but not our
The chain may lengthen, but it never parts.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Across time and distance

drinking coffee
with a woman who has no reason to lie
she tells me
how heavy i seem
to her
heaviness not in substance
but in spirit
she recalls
 how light i seemed
for awhile
how different that was

drinking coffee
with a woman who has every reason to remember
being light
for awhile
how different that was 
not only in spirit 
but in substance
she absolves 
of its necessary resolve
for putting one foot in front of another
doing the next right thing
feeling its breath
across time and distance

against the odds 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Punching Smoke

trying to be
at my age 
continuing  to be
struggling to be 
better than I am 
claiming to be

trying to be
 I tend my own garden
looking over my shoulder only 
 learning to trust
after all this time
learning to be

Sunday, July 3, 2011


weeds grow
once the evening
breezes (in) 
begin (s)
it's easier to believe
tomorrow's heat
will not be so 

Sunday, June 26, 2011


old enough
to know better 
to pay attention
to anyone 
who says 
i should have known 

old enough 
to dance with the ghosts
who might have slain me
in another life
i was
old enough to know

Friday, June 24, 2011

Keynotes & little gems

Just back from a teaching and learning conference in beautiful Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Tis the time of year known as conference season in my line of work.... I've been to four in the past six weeks...  love going and love learning and love getting home.
... teaching and learning are two obsessions close to my heart, and this particular conference had some wonderful key note speakers, one of whom was Buffy St. Marie, still feisty and smart and gorgeous  and going strong at 60 plus...  here are two little gems from her:
Bitterness ... treat it like shit; let it dry out and use it for fuel... don't use it when it's wet, and don't use it as make-up, ever.
Lots of people in power want you to believe that what you want isn't on the menu... don't believe it. Cook it up yourself and serve it ...

and a couple of other gems from the other keynote speaker on too much content ( ie, what happens  to learners when teachers at any level try to cram too much material into the time available)-- students  drinking water  from a fire hose and trying not to drown  ( great metaphor, I thought...)
AND the way to prevent this tragedy?? TEACH LESS BETTER.

and now that conference-ing is done, I will happily devote more time to being on my ( and others' ) blogs.
Happy  Solstice ( albeit, belated) to everyone. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How to get a raccoon out of your fireplace....

no, you don't start a fire in the hearth. sheesh!
typically, this wouldn't be something i'd be thinking about, but raccoons have been a bit of a theme in the past few months and years... when my son was living nearby, he had a little fella  (ok, a big fella) inhabiting his upper eaves. i'd drop by and if it was twilight or later, i'd see his (the raccoon's ) little eyes peering down at me from a hole in the eave,  just over the door frame. in the summer of '08, i was at a lovely retreat at a converted church camp  in paris, ontario, and happened to see a family of raccoons, a mother and four babies... such cute little fuzzy bums following the mother as they all ambled off up the hill. i'd go out to the same spot for the four days i was there so i could see them walking away from me.

recently one of my colleagues had a raccoon in her house and she was totally grossed out by it.... she had to leave and stay with friends until her landlord got it out of the house.... she could not even be in the same house! clearly, she does not think they are cute and fuzzy.
and then there was my ASL instructor ( i believe i mentioned in an earlier post that i was learning ASL... still at it.... loving it.... but i digress)  who had one living in his fireplace. my instructor is profoundly deaf, so the solution he discovered is not without  irony (and really, why else would i be writing this post if not for the irony?), and he found it through google (no less!) so it has at least the qualification of others trying it and being successful. he did not want to start a fire either, so here's what he did: he put a boom box/cd -dvd player next to the fireplace and put on music and turned it up as high as it could go .... apparently he had to leave the screeching loud noise going for a time, until the uninvited guests got tired of all that racket and left, but what the heck, he couldn't hear a thing.
supposedly, the tolerance for noise is the downside of this solution. but only if you can hear it.
there ya go!!
you're welcome.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Either way...

thought about
moments of tenderness

thought about
moments of everydayness

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Spring is here, the grass is riz, I wonder where the thoughtfulness is
It used to show its open arms and nurture difference, free from harm
And now I hear a warning hiss
Foretelling creeping Animal Farm

Not strange the changes stalemate makes
I’m stumbling over ladders and snakes
Especially with so much at stake
But what the hell, folks, them’s the breaks

I wonder if I need the night
To train discernment without light
Or if I need a light at all
To feel my way along this wall

Perhaps it’s light that plays me false
I need to lean into the fall
And when I reach and seek a pulse
I hope to recognize its call
Before its decency has faded
Before I get too mean and jaded

Spring is here and summer’s soon
Civility is free, a boon
And thoughtfulness, a twilight sigh,
Awaits, just nigh
Where also lurks a snarling, feral
And I ignore these at my peril

Sunday, May 15, 2011

... one week ago...

you leaned across the table
in that way that beckons
my own leaning in
i meet your soft gaze
in a moment
so vast
it goes unnoticed by those around us
so fast 
as to be completely still
you say to me
happy mother's day
moments like these 
mean everything to me

Friday, May 6, 2011

the tunnel and the light... I think ( for now...)

These past couple of weeks following my father's death have been reflective and exhausting. Reflective because I feel compelled to dwell with thoughts and feelings and not rush anything. It feels like it is  important to be present for what is.
Exhausting because the day after I arrived back in my home province, I had to get my body ready for two abso(f*#@ing)lutely deeeeelightful medical procedures that would happen the next day. I know I am not alone in this prep for medical procedures, but shitting for an entire day is NOT a fun way to spend a day. Not to mention that there was no way to get any of the backlog of work done .... perhaps I could have moved a lap-desk into the bathroom. Um, no. Then two reasonably uncomfortable days following the procedures where the fermenting pile of backlogged material keeps getting higher and higher ( that's a pile of paper... the work backlog... not another kind of backlog). Finally got the pile down to manageable proportions and then got through the next phase of a new fermenting pile of material....  don't get me wrong, I love my job; working in the education field is a privilege... however,  there are certain times of the year when the work feels endless and thankless.
OK, got through that endless thankless phase.... now, today, partner and I fly to Washington, DC for a conference ( oh, yeah.... that was the other thing, getting the writing ready for this conference... but it's all good). As a Canadian, living quite near the U.S. border I have been somewhat baffled by the various stages of alertness that my neighbour to south has been experiencing lo these past few years. As a Newfoundlander, I wonder who is benefiting from such a thoughtfully crafted scam. Today, as a traveller in a U.S. airport, I am realizing I would rather be going to any city .... except Washington, DC.
And, I hate, hate, hate flying. I was still a practicing alcoholic when I first began air travel, and was blissfully unaware of, well, pretty much everything, really, but especially the sounds, turbulence, shifts in speed, take offs and landings... ok,  all of it. My first flight sober was horrific. I was nervous as a cat, ready to jump out of my skin at every nuance ....  as they say about living  sober: son of a bitch, everything's real.
Anyway, back to today's flying adventure. It was a " hop" (hah, I love the casual treatment of that word; a hop, you say) from Buffalo to Washington DC,  so the plane was small. Small. I am no great height (barely 5'4") and I banged my head into the ceiling numerous times as I fidgeted and organized myself into a semblance of obedient seatedness. And again on my way to the bathroom. And on this, the bathroom... here 's a body cue to help you turn around: raise your arms over your head and shimmy around in a small circle before you sit; also,  do a good shoulder warm- up before you head back there so that you don't have to be contortionist in order to finish up the paper work when you're done with the.... other business. I return to my seat and Partner consoles me; be grateful that you don't have to stand up and aim, he says.
I am grateful; I now have a visual to take my mind off the wind gusts that rocked the plane on the approach to Reagan International. Obviously, we landed and I once again evaded the jaws of death. Fear is what it is; there's nothing rational about it. And for that, I am also grateful.

One more thing, while I am practicing my gratitude.... I am grateful for the opportunities blogging gives me to write, to read others' writing, to enjoy funny, thoughtful, irreverent, poignant and tender writing and comments from people who feel moved to express and encourage. I find this community of writers to be patient and supportive, and am impressed in ongoing ways with the acts of bravery, kindness,  creativity and humanity that I have the privilege to encounter. I know that writing and reading have inevitable ebb and flow and that life's unfolding does not happen on a schedule. That said, when the ocean finds its way back to calm, it's nice to have a harbour waiting for the boat.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


being in a life partnership is more than being
it's about being 
it's about being 
you asked if i was ready for another decade or so
bring it on!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

words that need to be said

During these past months and weeks leading up to my father's death, my mom and my brother and my brother -in -law have been doing the bulk of the at home care-giving.  The rest of us siblings and other family members have been doing what we can given the contingencies of  distance and job contexts. It was loving and intense work and it  took  its toll, both physical and emotional. I said in an earlier post that I expected to learn, and that there was much to learn when a family goes through the catastrophic health decline and death of a loved one.
What is most present for me now, as  insight, these days immediately following the funeral and the ongoing and amazingly tender interactions  with my mom, and my sister and my son, and also with my brothers and my brother in law ( who is a brother in every sense of the word!) is the need to say the words that often get forgotten or dismissed as unimportant in the larger swirl of more intensely felt emotions, like love and fear and confusion and despair, and the more intensely felt physical states, like exhaustion and pain... the words that those giving and receiving care need to say and hear, the words that enact love with humility and grace.
Here they are: I'm sorry. I was wrong. I need help. I don't know.
I had expected to learn. I am learning. There is much to learn.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

... I knew I could trust you

you cast your words 
out into the deep
crafted to touch that space
under my heart 
where your first poem 
motion & stillness
moon dance
whispering into my breath
you would call forth
three years ago
when I turned and reached for your hands
I knew I could trust you to reach for mine

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Old Skipper: October 2, 1930-- April 10, 2011

Life is the childhood of  our immortality

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


My father flirts 
with death
from as far back as I can remember
this relationship
shaped my world
the worlds of his other children
the worlds of his wife
risk and its terrible
wonderful consequences
a border
who never left our home
inhabits me still

My father fights 
with life
from as far back as I can remember
he took the driver's seat
knew the road
never showed panic
no matter how lost he was

My father waits 
for spring
maybe summer
if he can lean into this life that death has
recent forays into heroism
leaving him fragile, wondering about who he is
what time is where space is
a stranger better late than never 
it can be
dwelling in the small gifts  of tenderness

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hint Fiction 2

Sarah was Charlie's spouse #4; Charlie was her #2. No rebound. Just wistful, unfounded hope in spite of staggering evidence to the contrary.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hint Fiction 1

Having decided there was no more damage to be done, Charlie moved on. Sarah, blissfully alone, contemplates first contact with a room of her own.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hint Fiction: Prelude

I love bathrooms. Small, contained. Great for warming, sleeping, crying. Most people honor the closed door. No wonder I spent/d so much time in them.

Hint fiction is a prompt that challenges the writer to create a short fiction of 25 words that "hints" at something more complex beyond the words given. I am going to be experimenting with this form over the next few weeks, as an expressive adventure and a writing challenge, interspersed with my regular blog posting. Comment as you wish.... just thought I'd provide a bit of context. As always, I am delighted and humbled by the comments of  those quite generous writers who visit my blog. My thanks  and regards to you all.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


years and time 
don't matter
there dwells an old wisdom
 a brave heart
 hopeful tomorrows
fierce tenderness
your unconditional open arms

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

8 over 6... another go at it

The day that came broke dawn in half
crawled over glass and cried
its red rough heart had lost its laugh
the exacted price for pride
then leaning on its twisted staff
relieved it hadn't died
that day grew soft for cow and calf
a generous countryside
tomorrow's open wide

Saturday, February 26, 2011

8 over 6... a fledgling first try...

Deadly underestimating
the day I went to hell
heart of stone sensations grating
I know those feelings well
(And) it won't hurt, this hostage taking
 my beating's dulled with swell
(And) tending wounds of my own making
I find the words to tell
 I find a place to dwell

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In this place

In this place called home
storms blow in
no one panics
no matter what falls from the sky

In this place called home
wind & water 
forge wild misty silences
so deep
my solitude's heart
like a gift

In this place called home
your voice reaches
I remember
how important is the work of honesty

In this place called home 
you bring me back
I lean into this place

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


... wish I wasn't

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ironic tribute triolet

tales of woe
empty box
Wounded fox
silent crow
tales of woe

Stumbling blocks
who's to know?
Keys, no locks
stumbling blocks.
Scattered flocks
bleeding snow
stumbling blocks
who's to know?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dry Date

In the fall of 1987 I brought temporary closure to a writing project that had brought me back to life... literally, it re-animated me.  Writing that story allowed me to honour two people whose stories deserved thoughtful attention through a powerful process of reflection, poetics and narration, and also allowed me to realize that I could feel all there was to feel and not implode with sorrow and longing. Up to that point in my life as an adult, I had managed  the emotional dimensions of my life with alcohol and other substances, but after living the process of bringing that story to disclosure, I could no longer find refuge in feeling nothing at all. I stopped using alcohol and other substances shortly after.
But, I did nothing else, really, in the service of living mindfully except stop. I may have been "dry", but I sure as hell was not sober.  It took me almost three years before  I took ownership of my alcoholism and addiction, with neither pride nor shame. February 1, 1990: the date I got honest with myself. My dry date.

Monday, January 31, 2011


for those moments 
teeming, vibrant
moves into hushed
enough for every twig's
graceful breathless sway
to take my breath away
for those moments
when wild tender
calls me to be 
than what I am
and I can be 

Friday, January 28, 2011

the shape of this space

near the telephone
a makeshift chair creates a corner
I fold myself into the curve of its shoulder
and breathe in
the sound of your voice

Friday, January 21, 2011

Limerick, for now

At the moment I think I'm alone
There's the sound of the door or the phone
I don't want to be rude
Questing for solitude
But it's like getting blood from a stone

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Two haiku... based in fire *

haiku one:

their eyes might deceive
you see them only as sparks
but the howls burn hot

haiku two: 

hearing the owl's sigh
I bring a flame into the night
it shivers and flares

Friday, January 14, 2011


that place where 
can mean 
other than defeat

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ever wonder

ever wonder 
about the lines
you crossed
your reasons
for crossing them?

yeah.... me, too

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Monday, January 3, 2011

Resolution: Just say no




Sunday, January 2, 2011

'tis the season ... for Bowls

no one wins... 
one side loses more slowly

This is a quote from a fella named Prezbylewski, a character in the series, "The  Wire", commenting on football.  Football ( not soccer, for the "real" football fans)...  I've watched it for decades and have  even taught it for a number of years in another life context, and although I have lots of good things to say about the game, this time of year, when SO MUCH of it is available for viewing, I admit to feeling a twinge of sympathy for the above characterization!! 

Hope you are dwelling in the new year's beginning(s) in ways that are giving you joy.