Evening Poetry, June 17

Granite and Wineglass

by Rumi

You are granite.
I am an empty wineglass.
You know what happens when we touch!
You laugh like the sun coming up laughs
at a star that disappears into it.

Love opens my chest, and thought
returns to its confines.

Patient and rational considerations leave.
Only passion stays, whimpering and feverish.

Some men fall down in the road like dregs thrown out.
Then, totally reckless, the next morning

they gallop out with new purposes. Love
is the reality, and poetry is the drum

that calls us to that. Don’t keep complaining
about loneliness! Let the fear-language of that theme

crack open and float away. Let the priest come down
from his tower, and not go back up!

You can find this poem in The Essential Rumi.

The First Ever FLX Literary Society Meeting

Last night, we had our first FLX Literary Society meeting in our library. There were five of us, which felt perfect, since four of us were introverts. This idea has been brewing ever since that episode of What Should I Read Next podcast where Tiffany talked to Anne about her Literary Society.

Tiffany was flooded with DMs on Instagram of eager readers, like myself, who wanted to know more about Literary Society and how to start one of their own. Thankfully, Tiffany graciously gave us some guidelines in her Instagram highlights and was very encouraging to those of us who wanted to take her idea and run with it.

So I did. I asked a few friends if they would be interested, started a Facebook page, and set the date for our first meeting. And last night, we met and shared all of our bookish thoughts with each other.

Alan went first and talked about 11/22/63 by Stephen King, which he just finished, and also about King’s Dark Tower series, which he loved.

Susan shared a few Shel Silverstein poems from A Light in the Attic (Somebody Has To and The Little Boy & The Old Man as well as an original piece of her own writing. Susan is a witty, funny writer and we all can’t wait until she has a blog of her own!

Stephanie explained what Reddit was to all the older folk in the room and how she discovered a book called Tales from the Gas Station, a comedy-horror book by Jack Townsend.

Jenny introduced us to The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, a novel told through the dog’s perspective. She said this book will make you cry, but has a happy ending. She also told us about Travels by Michael Crichton, which was a travel memoir from his younger years, and The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve, which is a mystery set in Maine that alternatives between time periods. The book she’s reading now, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life by David Brooks sounded like a good personal growth book and reminded me of Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward.

I talked about The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton, that I finished earlier in the week. The writing in this book is beautiful. I wanted to read whole passages over again just to listen to the those words. Her writing reminds me a bit of Amor Towles’ A Gentleman in Moscow. The stories in this book are centered around a house in the English countryside where a ghost resides. Many characters from different time periods are all connected in some way to this house. The ghost’s narration is interspersed with third person POVs of the various characters in their various time periods. It was an ambitious book to take all of those people and find a way to connect them to the house. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the audio version.

I also shared about The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne, a book about a gay young man growing up in Catholic Ireland during the fifties and sixties. And I talked abut She’s My Dad by Jonathan Williams, a book I’ll share more about in a review next week, and about the most bizarre book I read in 2018: Convenience Store Woman a story told from a socio-path’s perspective by Sayaka Murata.

Other books mentioned were From a Buick 8Dr. Sleep,  Joyland by Stephen King, the Jonathan Maberry series that starts with Ghost Road Blues, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

Check out our Facebook page for video snippets and photos of our first meeting! Have you ever thought of starting a Literary Society? I’d love to hear from you in comments!

Evening Poetry, April 7

In honor of National Poetry Month, and Mary Oliver, our beloved national poet who passed away in January, I will be posting one of her poems each evening in April. I am hoping to follow in the footsteps of Sarah Clarkson and read a poem on Instagram Live in the evenings as well…Follow me on Instagram to tune in.

I Wake Close to Morning

Why do people keep asking to see God’s identity papers

when the darkness opening into morning is more than enough?

Certainly any god might turn away in disgust.

Think of Sheba approaching the kingdom of Solomon.

Do you think she had to ask, “Is this the place?”

This is from the collection, Felicity.

Eating Frogs, Spring Cleaning, and Other Fun Things

A long time ago, a dear friend of mine had the habit of cleaning her home on Mondays. When I asked her why she chose Monday as her cleaning day, her practical answer was that Mondays are a day that no one looks forward to. So she felt that getting the cleaning out of the way paved the way for a happier outlook for the rest of the week.

This is the mentality found in Mark Twain’s frog quote: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

We all have places we want to go in our lives: personal goals and dreams that we are reaching for. But we have to do the hard and tedious stuff first. It’s necessary! Whatever it is you don’t want to do right now (and these are on my list this week): call the insurance company, get a new social security card, find a way to make a wireless printer work with my new 5G connection…just do it. Quit procrastinating! Use Mel Robbin’s 5 Second Rule if you need to…Make that dentist appointment, finish a sewing project and ship it, declutter the back room, clean the bathroom…just pick one and do it first thing in the morning. I promise you will feel better knowing you did that hard thing first.

In her book, Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis shares a pretty clear message: you have to do the work and be the hero of your story. No one will do the hard things for you. Dreams are important and you need them, but, as Rachel says, you can’t live on hope. To make those dreams a reality requires a lot of uphill effort. In her podcast episode 72 about the daily practice that changed her life, she tells us we should write out our dreams, like it’s already reality, and then begin to reverse engineer what it will take to get you there.

So make your list and eat a frog first thing tomorrow morning!

And, in case you are doing some cleaning and want to know what cleaning products and tools (and a few books on home organization/care) I use, here’s my list of favorites. In my own life, having a clean and organized environment is necessary for my mental and emotional health. I am with Marie Kondo on this–the more clean and uncluttered your living spaces, the more you will enjoy your life.

Home Comforts

Organized Simplicity

Biokleen All-Purpose Cleaner

7th Generation Glass Cleaner

7th Generation Wood Spray

7th Generation Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Rubbermaid Reveal Spray Mop

Shark Steam Pocket Mop

Microfiber Cloths

Share your frogs and cleaning adventures in comments!

In So Many Words, (or A Roundabout Way To Write About the Last Three Years)

It’s not easy to walk toward authenticity, to pursue that will o’ the wisp

happiness. She’s elusive. You have to come at her from another angle

entirely. You waver for years wondering is she worth it, are you brave

enough. And one day, you get a glimpse of the other side, and you start

walking. Break with false selves and all the pretenses. Strip away the

supports and crutches, raze all the monuments you built to your good

name. You let go the loves you have known, their faces forever in your

soul’s vision. Look deep into the black river of your fear, and plunge in.

Like a stone you sink with your guilt and grief, into bottomless night.

No way to breathe through the pain, nothing to grasp. You fade in and out

of the senseless dark for a lifetime. Maybe you never were alive or

shouldn’t be anymore. Fading, fading, until hands catch at yours and pull

you into sunlight. It’s been so long since the sun kissed you, since you’ve

been held and known. Someone is holding you and calling your name,

singing. You allow yourself to be sheltered, fed, and comforted. Like an

injured bird you are tenderly cared for. Your many wounds begin to heal

and each day you can let in a little more light. One day you feel possibility

playing with your hair, like a breeze from the open window. Someone

stands at the door and calls to you. You smile at him and he comes close.

You are being told how loved you are, how lovely, how much you are

cherished, and what you mean to him. You’re dimly aware of his tears.

He is kneeling before you and you slowly comprehend that you are being

asked to make a home here. To belong. This house is spacious and set on a

hill. The one who saved your life has patient, joy-filled eyes that crinkle as

he laughs. He is gentle, kind, gives you the best rooms in the house, gives

you everything he has. You melt into his love. You are made new.

You think about the people you love across the river and your heart aches.

Months pass, and one day you see two figures coming toward you and it is

your loves. When you look into their eyes you see how they’ve been

marked with the pain of your leaving. You see how they try to understand,

how they’ve forgiven you. Tears come but they embrace you. You

bring them into your new home and feed them and listen to their beloved

voices. They meet this new man and graciously accept him. Your heart is

full, and at last, there she is–happiness– flitting around the table and

shining on every face.

Links I Love

Here is where you will find some of my current sources of inspiration. I’m going to enjoy this windy, wintery weekend, listening to and looking out for the newly returned Redwing Blackbird and Eastern Bluebirds, and keeping busy in my studio making new products for my online shop and Etsy shop.

Music: Alan and I were fortunate to see The Punch Brothers at the State Theatre in Ithaca this past week. Chris Thile is the genius mandolin-playing front man whose voice can soar almost as high and sweet as his instrument. He plays and sings with such fluidity, grace, and energy that the crowd was riveted the entire evening. The rest of the band are all incredible musicians as well, and together they made it a joyful, memorable night for everyone.

Their latest album is called All Ashore.

If you are a fan of English folk singer Kate Rusby (You should be!!!) then you will enjoy Changeable Heart, the newest album by Ruth Notman and Sam Kelly released by Pure Records, Kate’s label. The singing and production styles are similar to Kate’s and made me smile!

Also, since it’s St. Patrick’s Day Weekend, here are a few of my favorite Celtic albums:

Island Angel by Altan

Roses and Tears by Capercaillie (Scottish, I know, but similar style)

Reunion: A Decade of Solas by Solas (Irish-American band)

Podcasts: I discovered a new podcast this week called Herbs & Oils by Aromaculture.com

I listened to an episode on Flower Essences, which opened my heart up to the possibility that there may actually be something to them. There are so many episodes I plan on listening to, so if you’re into aromatherapy, herbalism, or alternative medicine and want to grow your knowledge, this is a good place to check out.

Rachel Hollis’s Rise podcast: The guest on Episode 87 will clear away plenty of excuses for why you can’t do something. After listening, you’ll feel fortunate and ready to take on the challenges in your life.

Books:

The Gown by Jennifer Robson is a beautifully written story that alternates between post-WWII era and the present day. It centers around women that worked on Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown and although I’m only about six chapters into it, I am completely spellbound and committed.

The Heart’s Necessities: a Life in Poetry by Jane Tyson Clement and Becca Stevens tells the story of poet Jane Tyson Clement, with songwriter and musician Becca Stevens commenting on how the poems affected her life and writing style. Several poems are included at the end of each chapter, making this a lovely gift for poetry lovers.

That’s it for this weeks’ links! Enjoy your weekend, friends!

The History of a Mother’s Mealtimes

On a recent weeknight, I listened to a mystery on audio while preparing dinner. I peeled garlic for marinara sauce, breaded tilapia and placed it in the oven, sautéed more garlic with the bok choy, boiled water for gluten free pasta and my stepson, Clay’s, ravioli, washed lettuce and spinach for tossed salad, and chopped shallot and even more garlic for vinaigrette.

“I’ve been so hungry today,” Clay says as he sat down to eat. As I usually do, I put on a jazz playlist and lit a few candles to accompany our meal. Even on an ordinary weeknight, the music and soft light turns the mundane into memorable.

We talk about his school day, how his finger is feeling as it heals after an unfortunate accident in chemistry, and discuss possibilities for meals he could take with him this week for dinner during musical rehearsal.

My daughter, Ella, is in musical rehearsals at her school several nights a week as well. As I washed pots and cleaned the stove and counters and table, I made up a plate for her in case she is hungry when I bring her home. I respond to a text from my husband, Alan, who lets me know he loves me and asks how my day has been. And I think about my adult life in mealtimes.

When my son, Judah, was a newborn, like most mothers, I ate when he slept and meals were not at regular times. At six months and onward, I prepared and fed him whatever I was eating, meals were regularly timed and eaten together. At least I attempted to; he was an extremely fussy eater. We had the love of pasta & sauce, bread, and anything with chocolate in common, so in all his aversions, we always had common ground.

When Ella was born four years later, I carried on with mealtimes at regular times. Their father worked long hours, so it was only the kids and I most nights. The days melted into one another with me thinking they would never end. Well, I knew that wasn’t so, but it felt that way. My kids would always be small, and needy, and I would be the center of their universe.

And suddenly they were high school and middle school ages. They no longer came downstairs when I called them for dinner; I ate on my own many nights. At sixteen, my son got a job at a local grocery store and was away from home several nights a week.

Then another abrupt change came a few years ago, with my divorce. Suddenly I ate alone or with Alan, and only rarely with my kids. I didn’t even have to cook every night, as Alan is a good cook and enjoys it.

Fast forward to today, and I eat with my daughter, now in tenth grade, twice a week, when she’s not rehearsing musicals, with her friends, or with her dad. My son comes over maybe once a month. He works varying hours, almost full-time, and is in a band. Alan and I eat together two to four times per week, on nights he’s not working. So I’m more often on my own or with his son that’s still at home.

Some nights I love the solitude of eating on my own, with a book or my iPad next to my plate. Other nights solitude turns a tad lonely as I mull over my decisions that have separated my mealtimes from my kids’ a few years early.

But more often these days, I think of each mealtime as unique, as one of a fleeting seasonal collection that can change at anytime. Each meal, no matter how ordinary, how unremarkable the food on the plate, or how dull the conversation, is still a gift that should be savored.