Easy to Take


Life is full of things that are hard to take, like criticism, break-ups, and all that laxative you need to drink before a colonoscopy. But there are some things that are easy to take.

A little child’s pudgy arms thrown around your neck.
The song of a red-throated finch perched right by your front porch.
A massage in a darkened, scented room with a Zen fountain bubbling.
Sinking into your comfortable chair and taking off your shoes after a long day.
Hours in a beach chair reading a page-turning book while the Pacific whispers rhythmically on the sand.
Cherry-flavored cough drops that don’t work but taste wonderful.
The wide-eyed thank-you from a homeless man when you give him a twenty.
Hot water pounding from the shower onto your aching forehead.
Climbing gratefully into your own bed with your own pillow after a long absence sleeping on strange mattresses.
When the dentist says “All done” and takes that little napkin off your neck.
The sound of your name in a loved-one’s voice.



Red Ink in the Blood

I taught English literature and composition for 33 years. I hated grading papers, but it was my duty. I was paid to correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation and to teach students how to avoid getting my red ink on their papers by writing it right the first time.

On Facebook I see many errors made, and I see many rants from people angry about the mistakes of others. Making others wrong is an ego ploy to make you feel right and therefore superior to the others. I resist getting into the rants, and I resist correcting spelling and other errors in people’s posts.

In the last two weeks, however, I have heard two people mispronounce the word “homage.” Instead of saying “OM-idge” they said “oh-MAZH” rhyming with the French word “fromage.” One of these speakers holds a PhD in English.

So, I have given my ego permission to write this post, just to let out my irritation at the mispronunciation of “homage.” I know English is one of the most adaptive and adoptive of languages, changing usage readily and receiving words from other languages with open arms, unlike the previously mentioned French. If enough ignorant people keep saying “oh-MAZH” on television and radio, very soon it will be accepted as the standard pronunciation. Why does that bother me?

Power and Control. In my learning and practice of Centering (Contemplative) Prayer, I have seen how my need for power and control have added to my suffering and prevented me from being my true, loving self. Here it is again. Now that I am retired, I have no students that I can teach the proper pronunciation of “homage.” I have lost the teacher’s power, and I certainly have no control of Facebook. I feel helpless to hold back the tide of mispronunciation that threatens the English-speaking world.

There. That feels better.

Keep Calm, and Love Thy Neighbor.


DSC_1283DSC_1308Just checking my “stats” and I see that my Old Town Agave post got more views than any of my written posts. People like to look at pictures. People don’t like to read. Those are my conclusions. So, let me post some more pictures of Old Town for your enjoyment. Why not?

Angel Numbers in My Addresses

My spiritual friend Sheree believes in angels. She suggested a book by Doreen Virtue on Angel Numbers. The first numbers I looked up were the addresses of the houses I have lived in . Here are the results:

643 Clark Avenue: Angels watch over your family to make sure all your needs are met. Indeed, this is the house where I lived as a child—growing up with my little brother and playing in the neighborhood. I felt safe and fulfilled; after all, I had the neatest playhouse, built by my grandpa.

1156 Karesh: Your powerful intentions are guiding you through this time of transition. Stay positive and focused through these times of change. Be careful to balance your thoughts about material possessions with faith. I lived here for a long time, through most of elementary school, all of junior high and high school, and through college. My first wedding reception was held in the backyard of this house. Lots of transitions took place in this house, including my mother’s funeral reception. I was unchurched myself, but I visited church with most of my friends. My non-existent faith got no encouragement from my secular teachers.

1017 Flora: Center your thoughts on God, creativity, and peace. You are on the right path. Creative? Yes. Amy was brought home from the hospital to this address. It was my refuge after divorce. It was a peaceful, happy time (mostly). I don’t think I was thinking much about God, though; my second wedding was performed by a judge.

6871 Shelton: You are on the right path with the actions you have chosen to manifest divine abundance in all ways. Watch your thoughts; focus on desires not fears. This is the first house we bought, and it was a good choice. Pippa was born while we lived here, and we were all baptized and started regular church attendance at this time. I did not keep my thoughts focused on the good and started into depression, trying to make myself happy with material things.

11015 Charleston: Keep your thoughts focused on God during this time of transition and change. You create your reality with thoughts and beliefs. Engage in creative activities and avoid addictive behaviors. God helped me through the painful times in this house: family strife, awful headaches, job loss, depression, therapy. I finally came to understand how my thoughts created my depression. Creativity was mostly in decorating the new house. Our time here ended with a major move to a new area.

44864 Linalou: The “Angels of Abundance” are with you, helping you receive your Divine inheritance. They are making sure your needs are met as you focus on your spiritual path. The more gratitude you show them, the more you open the flow of support. This is the house I live in now. It is the house where I began my conscious spiritual journey, joining DOK, learning centering prayer, going on retreats, reading about spiritual matters, writing songs about God in my life. My needs are being met so I have time to focus on the spirit. We ring our prayer bell daily and thank God for all his gifts.

So, there you have it. The way the numbers coincide with the way life went during my residence in these houses is fascinating to me. Maybe later, I will write about my phone numbers. They are even more awesome.

How to Insult a Songwriter: Call Her a Poet


Across the desk, music publisher Rick Shelton smiled brightly at me and said, “You’re a poet.”

Why did I feel like I’d just been slapped? Because I’m a would-be songwriter, not a poet. I don’t want to be a poet. Nobody wants poetry anymore, if they ever did.

To say “you’re a poet” means you sit in your ivory tower and torture the English language to make obscure points people don’t care about. A poet is like a painter of portrait miniatures. It takes painstaking skill, but nobody wants it. Why would you carry a painted miniature of your loved one in your pocket when you could carry a photograph—on your smart phone?

Poets are obsolete. They’ve all turned into bloggers, novelists, or songwriters.

Songwriters, on the other hand, are down-to-earth, singing about universals that EVERYBODY cares about: love, sex, beer, and the past. Their language is colloquial. You probably said most of those lyrics yesterday in conversation with your ex- or your dog. And the rhymes? Well, we forgive the songwriters for that—it helps us learn the chorus so we can sing along. Songwriters are just alright. They get us and we get them.

In fact, the majority of us say we LOVE music, and we don’t mean that weird jazz or boring Beethoven stuff. We love country, pop, rock-and-roll, blues and R&B. We love music, so we LOVE songwriters.

We don’t love poets. Never did. Our old-maid English teachers tried to make us like poems, but it never took. Why can’t poets say what they mean? Poets suck.

And that’s why I wasn’t pleased to be labeled “poet” in the song-publisher’s office. It was the kiss of death.

Does anybody know if Poet’s Market is still in print?

Homeless Girl, Ten-minute object writing

Her hand-me-down dress was way too big for her, hem nearly reaching her skinny ankles and the waist not touching her anywhere.  Her dusty legs went directly into dirty red Keds, not taking on any socks, clean or otherwise.  No one had bothered to wash, brush, or trim the mousy, lank strands that fell limply over one eye and down to her shoulders.  Though someone had, maybe a month ago, given her a “manicure” with hot pink polish.  It was mostly chewed or peeled off by now, but a few of her grubby fingers showed remains of hot pink.

She sat on the stiff office chair by the social worker’s desk, studying her chipped nail polish and dangling her legs which didn’t reach the floor.

“Now, tell me your name.”

She peered up briefly through her stringy hair, said “Neecy,” and looked back down.

“Is that short for Denise?”

Neecy shrugged her thin shoulders in the baggy dress, and said no more.

[On a website called Hillbilly Culture, run by Amanda Williams, I am writing daily exercises and posting one on the site.  This is another one I liked, so I decided to post it here].