Thursday, May 29, 2014

Where I am From...

I was inspired by my friend Tammi to write a poem about "Where I am From..."  She was inspired by her niece. And this is how the artist's circle begins to form.  You can find Tammi's poem and her artwork at Sonoma Coast Weekly.

I met Tammi at Write: Doe Bay in April. Her honesty and talent continue to inspire me. Her son Grady is also an artist and together they work on art journals and read art books and she helped me to see what is possible to do with my own kids.  I want to dig through my drawers and pull out my college art supplies.  I can spell the art eraser as it rubs against the paper.  Do you remember the kind? You had to heat it up in your hand and pull and stretch it until it was soft enough to use.

Thank you Tammi. xo

Where I am From...

I am from a long country road with a name few can spell or pronounce: Schacht Road (you say it like Shock)

I am from a woman who went to Chicago after high school graduation to nanny.  She dyed her hair black and upon her return her mother didn't speak to her.
She left the job early, that's what she thought her mom was mad about.

I am from a man who bought his own new shoes as a boy from the money he saved doing his paper route.

I am from a paper maker and the community surrounding him.  Shift work and beer at The Mill Stop.

I am from a grandmother receiving oranges at Christmas from neighbors and eating the white rind part too...precious treat, like gold.

I am from another grandmother whose floors you could eat off of.  She crosses the room and stops to pick up a fuzz ball from the carpet.

I am from a grandfather who liked to dress like a bum but pay in cash.

I am from another grandfather who owned a grocery store and gave his wife unlimited credit.

I am from old stock and good blood.  German and French Canadian.

I am from a town that gave me Saturday nights at the roller rink, in the winter a skating rink at the Civic Center.

I am from a town that filled me up with Midwestern values.

I am from Wisconsin farms even though I didn't grow up on one.  When I travel, people always assume.

I am from sleeping bags and soda on Friday night watching The Love Boat.  Falcon's Crest with grandma. T.V. trays to hold popcorn and treats reserved for this night.

I am from a series of books called "The Girls of Canby Hall"...begging my mom to take me to The Pine Tree Mall to buy the next book in the series at B. Dalton bookstore.

I am from The Brother's Three pizza on Main Street and I still crave it despite my "no dairy" diet.

I am from a town where the mall used to boom, the downtown too.  Today, I cringe in it's wreckage.

I am from holiday dinners that are always the same.  If we don't have this tradition what do we have? Ham and rolls on Christmas, Hillshire brand preferred.  Turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes with gravy and green bean casserole.

I am from opening a present or two on Christmas Eve and Santa arriving on Christmas morning.

I am from R.V. camping across the U.S. to see the world before I could appreciate it.

I am from cloth napkins purchased at an after Christmas sale, napkin rings too, even though we didn't have a dining room.

I am from a wool, three quarter length sleeved coat with a fur collar and a matching necklace, earring and bracelet set even though there was no place to wear them to.

I am from love and knowing if you did your best that was all that mattered.

I am from wooden church pews and Sunday school, church choir and ham and bean suppers in the church parish hall.

I am from pickup trucks with the window rolled down, country station on the radio and a nod and a raised finger movement to your neighbor.

I am from a gun cabinet in the basement and deer hunting season.

I am from brandy slush and taco dip and Christmas open houses.  Send the men to the basement for poker games.

I am from mini boxes of cereal on camping trips.

I am from gardens planted and pine trees too...Hanging baskets of flowers and geraniums in pots.

I am from trailer courts and high school proms.

I am from a purple banana seat bicycle that my babysitter taught me how to ride.

I am from pride, support, kindness and listening.

I am from everything and I am from nothing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


Do you think dandelions are weeds?

When they mess up your suburban landscape
and muck up the Earth when you attempt
to dissipate them with chemical spray...

Do you think they are weeds when your son bends over to pick a bunch with his chubby hand?
He hands them to you with such grace and pride...
it's as if he delivered you to yourself.


I love my children with equal parts love and longing.
Longing to let go...Let them move amidst the Earth without being tethered to me.
Longing to pull them back into my arms and smell their necks,
gently push back hair and let my eyes fall into their deep blue pools of cool water on a humid day.

Will my heart break when you get on that school bus this Fall?
Will my heart break again, as it's done hundreds of times already?

Or will I slowly wave and smile and walk back to the house, sit down in the quiet space;
shoes scattered by the front door, peanut butter knife in the sink...

Will I slowly pick up, clean up, tidy up my heart?

Pick up the pen and begin again.
The day my daughter was born my Mother told me that life is now a series of FIRSTS.

The first time she laid eyes on me.
My eyes on her as I watched her take her last breath.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day...

I look in the mirror and see the face of a girl. When did I get here? To this place called middle age? I still see the grade schooler who loved art more than math. I see the college girl falling in with the wrong guy. All those fine lines...Maybe my face changed when Dad died.

I see a woman becoming a mother and those lines softened. My heart expanded and shifted to include you. To beat for you. I see the face in the mirror of a woman still needing her mother. More fine lines from losing you.

I see me, but I see you. Our reflections connecting, merging into one. You are me. I am you.

A prayer card handed out before you view the body. "We little knew that morning, God was going to call your name." Did you hear God's voice? Who is God?

When I look in the mirror is it God I see? I am him. He is me.

Years upon years of church, Sunday school, bible school, Junior choir, church trips and a church wedding to marry an agnostic...
All these years later what do I believe? Generations before me rise up to say "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6)

Bit and pieces of memorized verses, hymns and Luther's catechism wander through my head.

My grandmother's white gloves and a pocketbook with a gold snap closure on top...inside: lipstick, tissues and gum to keep us still throughout the service.

I walk through the cemetery, looking for the tree to remind me...counting over graves to the left, or is to the right? Finding a flat grave marker with my family name on it. I see your name, your husband's name.  My son's name now. A strong name. My son named after a man I never knew. Did he hear God's voice too?

I keep walking through the cemetery. Peace and calm fill me. I am content. You see death. I see love. Lives lived and all these people loved. You see missing. I see history. You see tears. I see dedication. Grave site flowers tended to so lovingly.

I walk toward the mausoleum. You aren't there. A box of ashes and a casket. Cool marble stone and gold letters with your names and dates of birth and death. I don't enter. I keep walking.

I see my reflection in a puddle.  Who is the woman I see?
Child, daughter, wife, sister, mother, friend....
I am still me.
Complicated and changed...heart broken wide open.

A huge expanse. Can't call it a crack, but rather a chasm.

The ravens fly deep down into it and quickly fly out, hundreds of them at the same time like inky spots spattering over a white page. Their departure leaves a blankness, an open space to refill.
You gave me the foundation.

Damaged along the way I take the caulk gun and press it and press it and press it. I hear it click, click, click.
I fill it. I refill it.

You remind me everyday that you are still my mother and I am still your daughter.

Monday, May 5, 2014


This was Saturday night: good friends, planning for our June trip, sushi making. My life is broken open of late. I love that feeling.  Like anything is possible and I am the key to my own life. Just falling into the grace and beauty and joy all around me.  I have these little beings that I am raising and it sure is nicer sharing it with friends. Driveway hockey games and derby hats. Watching the Kentucky Derby after dinner and my daughter handing out Girl Scout cookies on a platter.  My son falling asleep on my lap with his clothes on, completely spent from hockey and fresh air. Life is for Living. Seeing it.  Smelling it.  Eating it up.