Pook at 10


Pook had his 10th birthday 3 days ago. I took him to the veterinarian. I’m sure he would have chosen to do something else, like go swimming in the river in his shorts and t-shirt or wander the neighborhood “Building streets”, imagining a new little city, fitting and layering his own roads and highways upon what already exists.

But we went to the vet. He happily listened to MPR with me because that’s the kind of boy he is, curious and easily engaged.

He is the kind of boy who makes up jokes like this:

          “Why does time fly faster as you grow older?”

          “Because Earth’s rotation speeds up.”

 He is the kind of boy with quickly shifting passions. He can move from zero to frustrated fury in less than a second. It’s like a frozen, forgotten can of pop warming in the back seat of the car. BOOM!.

He’s the kind of boy who is continually surprised by his sensitivities.

          “Mama, when you told Betty we’d get her poor little body fixed up, it made me cry. Look.”

Betty has Heartworm and, for the last 10 days, mostly what I’ve been thinking about is her, imagining a hand full of cooked long spaghetti wriggling in her heart. Evil worms and their spawn.

And he’s also the kind of boy who keeps reminding me that everything will be fine, that I have to trust.

Now I’m reminding you.


Haste is the way to acquiring closets full of plastic junk and no treasure.

The early bird and all that.

It’s polite to be on time but far worse to teach your children to live under society’s shadow, self-denial in praise of the voice of high hurry.

Get a fast car and, whatever you do, don’t drive a car from last century unless it’s shined and in a parade.

Get over it already, hurdle horse, because grief and confusion and loss are slow and uncomfortable. At least don’t talk about it.

Clean the house.

Cleanliness is not a virtue.

A dirty cup is no more sinful than a barking dog.

And if I say to you, “Be quick”, because I’ve forgotten what I just wrote,

Say to me, “Have a cup. Rinse it if you must, but sit and drink it until you hear the ice loosen from the soil outside your window.”

Remind me that acquisition is heavy,

a burden so weighty, I won’t be able to help you with yours.

In fact, I might not even see you.

Tax Time


It’s that self reflective time of year again that always comes before Easter. It’s tax time.

The on-line tax filing program asks its questions politely and directly. I admire that quality. What puts me off, though, is that it refers to me in the third person.

Does Shannon want to contribute $3.00 to the Presidential campaign? It will not change (her) tax or refund.

Who checks this box?  It raises too many questions. Where does the money come from then, if not the taxpayer?  What’s it used for? Flags and confetti? Some party you’ll never be invited to? Shannon will say no.

What is Shannon’s status?

The choices are pretty limited here. Nowhere is the option of Master of her own destiny. So she is left with choosing between Single or Head of Household. She asks herself, “Do I flit or do I swagger?” She’s never been much of a swaggerer. It’s something she’ll have to work on.

Does Shannon have any dependents?

Well, yes, the two she awakens every morning and sends to bed every night depend on her. What about the people she helps out on a regular basis to relieve their domestic burdens? Does the boy in carpool count? And what about the occasional or unexpected dependents?  There was the woman who took her arm so as not to slip on the ice. And other drivers, they depend on her to follow the rules, to stop when she’s supposed to stop, to go when she’s supposed to go.

Can anyone claim Shannon as a dependent?

Probably. There is a lot of kindness in the world. Shannon depends on that. Funny, there is no mention of co-dependents.

Is Shannon blind?

Yes, she is. But she does have moments of clarity.

Did Shannon have any farm income?

No, although she’d like to have a farm some day. Not a hobby farm because it seems to her that farms cannot be considered hobbies. One cannot set down a farm on the floor beside the arm chair or leave the farm on the dining room table before going off to bed. One cannot leave a farm in the shed when they lock up shop.

And what’s all this about railroads? In her whole life she has known only one single person who works for the railroad. She suspects he works alone. It must be a very special job to warrant a shout out on the tax form.

Moving right along, we come to charitable donations.

Did Shannon make any monetary donations to charity?

Did Shannon make any non monetary donations to charity?

This is the part of the form where taxpayers get to feel all righteous, to reassure themselves that they did learn to share when they were in kindergarten.

When did Shannon acquire the goods she gave to charity?

What was the original cost of the goods?

This one is a stumper. Shannon will have to come back to itIn fact, she’s going to log off now.

Are you sure you want to quit?

Absolutely. (It’s too taxing)

Seeking Employment



I am literate and write well. I am organized, efficient, and I easily retain information.

I don’t often use big words and I don’t usually swear.

Dogs like me.

I can’t fly a plane but I know how to book cargo or set a person up for a pleasant vacation.

I’ve taught people, children mostly, despite the fact that I don’t have a teaching license.

I’ve cared for the elderly and those with developmental disabilities (I hate that categorization), but I don’t have current certification to prove it.

Once I fit a square peg into a round hole, though the square was a couch and the round hole was a doorway.

I’ve hung sheetrock, laid tile, rewired, and fixed toilets. I’ve hung doors. Admittedly, getting them to hang straight with the latch gliding smoothly over the strike plate to click quietly was more luck than skill. I’ve mowed lawns, shoveled snow, hauled dirt, laid patio stones. And I’ve painted. I’ve done lots of painting.

I can’t drive a bus and I don’t want to.

I understand english and spanish and french. I would say that I speak those languages but I’m really not much of a talker. Sometimes I speak in different accents.

I know how to prioritize tasks. For example, in order to make pancakes for my hungry household, first I have to wake up, brush my teeth, and start the coffee. Since I’ve used most the distilled water in the coffee pot, I’ll have to refill the distiller. Before I can do that, I need to empty the dishwasher so I can load it with last night’s popcorn bowls and milk cups that are in the sink. I’ll start the quinoa for the pancakes while I’m doing that and by the time it boils and simmers for a while, I can turn off the stove, turn my attention to Betty, who has been gazing at me this whole time, wondering when it will be her turn for a walk.

I do have an MFA in creative writing and I won a prize for my thesis. That’s just a bit of extra information.

I’m 50.

I’m not naive and I like it when people are straightforward and honest. I’m not easily offended. If you maligned my kids in some way, that would offend me. Or if you gave me one cent as a raise, that would offend me.

So, if you or someone you know is looking for a person like me to fill a vacancy, send me a message. I will be like that machine that never breaks down, humming in the background.


Flies in the Kitchen


Yesterday, I looked closely at a fly, noted the iridescent green of its bumpy back, and decided that was my favorite color. I looked at its helmet face and complicated body. I didn’t swat it because I don’t like how they squish.

But that was yesterday. Today I realized what a sucker I’d been because now there were 50 flies in the kitchen, split evenly between two windows, hiding out under the blinds. I made a fly trap from a water bottle, using a banana peel, vinegar, and old spaghetti sauce as bait.

While I waited for the trap to work, I decided to try out our newly inherited paper shredder. Oh! the satisfaction! I never knew how enjoyable it could be. The gas and electric bills became confetti. The mortgage statements became rodent bedding. The rejection letters were nothing but the soft, curled grey of a memory.

When I returned to the kitchen to see how my trap was working, I saw that it wasn’t. It had trapped only the stupidest two. The others were having a festival, forming their fly relationships, planning their maggot families. It irritated me. So I got out the handheld vacuum and sucked them all up.

Their new cylindrical prison was clearly overcrowded. Some were stunned. Some buzzed with indignation. I could have left them to die but I’m no warden. I see no need to try and govern the lives of others. So I brought them outside to the compost heap, which isn’t a heap at all, but a series of holes I dig, fill up and cover over. And I set the flies free.