Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Balance in April

Joining Juliann and friends on this last Tuesday of the month to talk about my one little word. As I explore the ups and downs of balance, I've learned something new this month. For me, living a balanced life includes poetry. I've read poetry before, but somehow I've really begun to take it to heart. In the hands of a skilled poet, simple words can help me to explore, express, and clarify what I'm feeling. A good poem can become a sort of mantra that I carry with me, can help me get through the bad times, and celebrate the good times.

I think much of this new appreciation of poetry is due to the poems and poets Kym shared during April. One of my new favorites is Balance by Jane Hirshfield and I was so taken with Good Bones by Maggie Smith that I bought the book and have been reading it, carefully savoring. Here's one I want to share:


There are fish in the black trenches
of the sea that look like rocks.
Their poison shouldn't trouble me.
They are so deep, we'll never touch.
But I think of them. If it is paranoid
to believe there is a trench in me
the doctors haven't dragged,
a cave no one's plumbed with light,
then fine, I'm paranoid. But whatever
plaques and tangles, whatever cells
wait deadly with their terrible hunger
must be disguised. You should know
the most venomous fish lives
in the shallows. It also looks like a rock.

Good Bones, published by Tupelo Press in 2017. Copyright Maggie Smith.

Thank you, Kym, for helping me see how much poetry can help in balancing my life, and exposing me to poems and poets who do it so well!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Sometimes Monday ...

... is a day to take another look!

I've never like azaleas very much, mainly because the ones I usually see are spindly and sparse, kind of like this slightly pitiful one. 

I had a doctor's appointment this morning and decided to walk since it was a beautiful (chilly) morning, only about a mile away, and I needed the exercise. I noticed a few bright azaleas blooming, and once I really paid attention, I noticed lots of them, in many and varied colors.

Many of them have clearly been pruned, but some are growing and blooming profusely all on their own. I don't know if people in Elkton have discovered the secrets of growing azaleas, but once I started paying attention, I gained a new appreciation for the humble azalea. I hope you've got beautiful blooms (azaleas or otherwise) in your neighborhood!

Friday, April 26, 2019


Today, as I continue to seek balance, a perfect poem from Mary Oliver.


Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.
The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.
But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.
Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.
–Mary Oliver

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Three on Thursday

Joining Carole and friends for Three on Thursday. Earlier this week, I shared my lovely surprise tulips reaching towards the sun. Today I've got three more surprises, growing in the shade.

First, plenty of hostas. I think I might need to add a few variegated ones.

Next, a small forest of ferns. They've just sprouted this week, but I think there will be enough room among them to plant my favorite shade flower, bleeding hearts.

And lastly, lots of lilies of the valley.

And as a bonus, I want to share something extraordinary. Our lawn in NJ consists of weeds, moss, and some grass. The lawn here in MD is mostly grass and clover, but it's also got thousands of violets. John considers them weeds, but I think they are just beautiful. There are lovely patches of purple everywhere! I mowed yesterday and felt bad about cutting many of them off, but I hope they continue to grow and bloom. 

Head on over to Carole's for more Three on Thursday thoughts.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday, with some good unraveling.

The unraveling is being reknit into a Hitchhiker. I've only got a few teeth on it as I'm still undecided about whether I like knitting with the crinkly yarn. I may soak the tiny Hitchhiker and semi-block it to see what it looks like before I make a final decision. There is something satisfying about giving the end a yank and unraveling when I need more yarn!

I finished Miracle Creek a few days ago, but have been unable to decide exactly how I feel about it. There were extraordinary parts and there were awful parts, but it sure is prompting a lot of thought. Maybe I'll have clarified those thoughts and written a review by next week. I'm now engrossed in Inland on my Kindle and have started Fall Back Down When I Die in audio. I do think that both of these very different novels about the west will be far more clear cut and enjoyable than Miracle Creek.

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Brilliant Jewels

Tulips were a tray of jewels.
  ~E.M. Forster, Howards End

Oh, the joys of seeing what blooms in spring at a house you bought in the summer!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Sometimes Monday ...

... is a good day to get growing in a new garden in MD.

My sentiments exactly!

Friday, April 19, 2019

More Poetry

While searching for poetry, I came across this fun Poem Generator. You just choose the type of poem you want to "write", enter a few nouns, verbs, and adjectives, Mad Lib style, press "Write Me a Poem", and voilĂ ! Here are a couple examples of a generated quick poem and a haiku. 

The Frilled and Fallen Hyacinth

Whose hyacinth is that? I think I know.
Its owner is quite happy though.
Full of joy like a vivid rainbow,
I watch her laugh. I cry hello.
She gives her hyacinth a shake,
And laughs until her belly aches.
The only other sound's the break,
Of distant waves and birds awake.
The hyacinth is frilled, fallen, and deep,
But she has promises to keep,
After cake and lots of sleep.
Sweet dreams come to her cheap.
She rises from her gentle bed,
With thoughts of kittens in her head.
She eats her jam with lots of bread,
Ready for the day ahead.

Hyacinth - A Haiku

Late windblown leaping
A fallen hyacinth sings
Betrayed by the sun

They don't quite measure up to Mary Oliver or Jane Hirshfield, but they are entertaining. Generate a few poems yourself and have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Poem In Your Pocket

Today, on Poem-In-Your-Pocket Day, I'm sharing a Wendell Berry poem that I recently found at the library. It's a new one to me, but says so much, like so much of his other poetry.

To My Mother
by Wendell Berry

I was your rebellious son,
do you remember? Sometimes
I wonder if you do remember,
so complete has your forgiveness been.

So complete has your forgiveness been
I wonder sometimes if it did not
precede my wrong, and I erred,
safe found, within your love,

prepared ahead of me, the way home,
or my bed at night, so that almost
I should forgive you, who perhaps
foresaw the worst that I might do,

and forgave before I could act,
causing me to smile now, looking back,
to see how paltry was my worst,
compared to your forgiveness of it

already given. And this, then,
is the vision of that Heaven of which
we have heard, where those who love
each other have forgiven each other,

where, for that, the leaves are green,
the light a music in the air,
and all is unentangled,
and all is undismayed. 
"To My Mother" by Wendell Berry, from Entries. © Pantheon Books, 1994

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Unraveled Wednesday

Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday with an (imaginary) FO and some wonderful new yarn I can't wait to cast on.

It looks like the five hours I spent at the Subaru dealership this morning getting my explosive, shrapnel-containing, death-dealing airbag replaced wasn't quite enough time. I had imagined finishing the ribbing on my Sockhead Cowl, coming home to take a picture, and casting on something new, but that didn't quite happen. So please imagine another two inches added to the top ribbing and let's finally call this one finished. 

Because my knitting mojo has returned, and I have some great new yarn to cast on. I purchased these at The Loopy Ewe and was quite happy to see them there. They were available on the website for about 10 minutes before they sold out, but luckily there were several available when I visited in person so I quickly grabbed a couple.

They are Wollmeise gradient sock blanks, but in my case the green one is going to be a Hitchhiker blank for Ryan. I think I'll try knitting directly from it as I unravel, and hope that I don't have to unravel and soak to get the kinks out. That will just slow me down!

I'm listening to Miracle Creek (very good so far) and just downloaded a pre-publication copy of Inland from Netgalley. It will be a difficult choice deciding which one to read first. 

What are you making and reading this week?

Tuesday, April 16, 2019


When I changed my word to Balance back in February, I did so because I was feeling quite out of kilter with many years of caring for my father, his death, buying the house in MD, commuting back and forth between MD and NJ, and the death of my mother-in-law, but I really didn't have a clue. I know that I was feeling unbalanced and had begun to take small steps to remedy that, but then the universe stepped in with bilateral pulmonary embolisms to make sure that I was really paying attention to Balance.

I went to Colorado to visit Ryan, but also to discuss some issues and challenges that he's been having for several years. We talked and talked, he arrived at some decisions and plans to move forward, and I was feeling better about his situation than I have for several years. That felt like I had taken positive steps toward helping Ryan regain some much-needed balance. Then I got on a plane to fly back home, ended up with two PEs, and after being initially scared to death, I've begun to make balance a part of my life again.

So far, this has involved following doctors' instructions to the letter - taking medication religiously, not sitting for more than an hour without moving, and making sure that I exercise in some form for at least an hour each day. Moving is no longer a choice or something I can ignore! Some aspects of the whole experience have caused me even more stress, so I've returned to daily meditation. It feels like a lot right now, and I don't want this to take over and rule my life, but I think it's all important to incorporate healthier habits and make them an integral part of my life.

I've read slightly differing statistics, but the median seems to be that in about 40% of people who experience a PE, the first symptom is sudden death. That is an alarming number to me, and one that I've had to make a conscious decision not to focus on. I have no idea why I wasn't among that 40% or why I was lucky enough to walk around for 72 hours after it happened before I was diagnosed and treated. But I was incredibly fortunate and feel that regaining Balance is key. I'm trying.

Monday, April 15, 2019


I've rested and recovered for a bit, and while I've still got a way to go, I've missed writing in my spot here, and it's about time I returned. I'd like to thank you all for the books, letters, notes, and good wishes. I appreciated them more than you could know, and there were some dark nights in the hospital where they helped me immensely.

But since it's April 15, I'm going to start off complaining about taxes. They've never been enjoyable, and I've always resented the time I had to spend doing them, but this year they were worse than usual. Three or four times worse.

I did our federal taxes back in February and found that we owed $$$$ for the first time in many years. I assumed I had made some wrong entries, checked my numbers, and came up with the same thing. I promptly put them away and didn't even want to think about state taxes.

So I didn't, until a few weeks ago. John had a W-2 for his earnings in DE, and I just assumed that I would have to file a DE return to get a refund of everything that had been withheld. Wrong! His company is in DE, and while we live four miles away in MD, DE doesn't care about that. We ended up owing more money on top of what was withheld, so that was another disappointment. Next I waded through MD bureaucracy to determine what we owed them, figured it out (hopefully correctly) and filed that. I've never thought of NJ as being the home of fair and reasonable taxes, but I've changed my mind after figuring out that NJ was kind enough to give us a credit for the slightly outrageous property taxes that we pay and another credit for the taxes we paid to DE. We even get a small refund from NJ.

So while I'm feeling literally and figuratively overtaxed, I'm on my way to the post office to mail these envelopes, grateful that we've got the money to pay what we owe, and even more thankful that these tax tribulations are done (at least until next year).