CAKE

Where there is cake, there is hope. And there is always cake. (Dean Koontz)
So when I was a kid growing up in a tiny farm at the end of a gravel road in the north woods of Minnesota, I was terribly uninteresting. I didn’t care much for serious farm work or even riding my horse or playing with other kids (well…there was only one other kid within six-seven miles besides my brother…and, as we all know, little brothers are of the pest family, not real people).
What I did like to do was read, roam around in the woods AND BAKE CAKES. From about age 10 on, I was obsessed with cake baking. Chocolate, cherry, white with layers/raspberry Jello-enhanced/brown sugar icing/lemon-filling, pineapple upside down, angel food, gold cake, raisin spice… One a week at least. Every possible kind of cake, mostly recipes from the West Nidaros Ladies Aid cookbook.
I had no interest in any other kind of cooking or any media or creative outlet than reading books. Books were of course my downfall…that fateful geography book, leading me straight into life as a travel addict…but this is a cake story because I baked a cake last Sunday.

Cake (Noah Eli Gordon)

Look, you
want it
you devour it
and then, then
good as it was
you realize
it wasn’t
what you
exactly
wanted
what you
wanted
exactly was
wanting

RIO GRANDE

el rio grande

The Rio grande flows from the continental divide like a golden thread, taking the loneliness out of the Colorado mountains. The eyes of dead apache warriors express their sorrow with silent renegade war cries, as the Rio grande meanders through New Mexico.

Tooh-ba-aadi is an ancient Navajo word for a south flowing river. It flows through Tejas like a carancahua red cloth, it cuts through chihuahuas,  coahuila,  Nuevo Leon and tamaulipas like an Anasazi arrowhead.

The Rio grande is an ancient river that was flowing before all things were given names and the universe had a song in it’s heart. The Rio grande was here before a box of holy relics was bestowed upon an heir by three wise kings. The Rio grande was here before cathedrals, monasteries and chapels were built to cage the gods of man. The Rio grande was here before man enslaved man, a freely flowing river emptying it’s burden into an ocean claimed by no one.

The Rio grande is 1800 miles of blood, sweat, fear, hate, greed, envy, avarice, mercy and grace. The Rio grande is the bridge to the heart of my people and expresses it’s beauty everyday with its brown muddy waters.

And I remember you rio grande, when your strong undercurrent pulled me into your embrace. I remember you rio grande when my cousin drowned at your shore. I remember you rio grande and all the people who call you freedom, and I will remember you every time I close my eyes, clench my fist and raise it high into the air as I pray and mourn for my people.

By One Deep (https://allpoetry.com/poem/11834343-el-rio-grande-by-one-deep)

STILL WALKING

More time on bosque walks. Many delicious quotes and poems. Many photos. Many miles. Another morning in the woods tomorrow. This pathway through the pandemic.

“With the first step, the number of shapes the walk might take is infinite, but then the walk begins to define itself as it goes along, though freedom remains total with each step: any tempting side road can be turned into an impulse, or any wild patch of woods can be explored.  The pattern of the walk is to come true, is to be recognized, discovered.”
–  A.R. Ammons, A Poem is a Walk

WALKING

“That’s the best thing about walking, the journey itself. It doesn’t matter much whether you get where you’re going or not. You’ll get there anyway. Every good hike brings you eventually back home.” (Edward Abbey)

 “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” (Friedrich Nietzsche)

 “I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see.” (John Burroughs)

MINNESOTA

ALONG THE MISSISSIPPI, GRAND RAPIDS

I’m lonely often these days. Not really a deeply depressive or even particularly sad loneliness. Just that feeling of wishing to see a person or place that’s not here… or go to time that’s not now. Sometimes wishing intensifies into longing…sometimes it’s just okay to think fondly of the missing piece. For today I’m thinking Minnesota. Last summer. Home. Water. Rivers. Lakes. It’s still cold up there, been snowing this week…. My brother sent a pic on Monday…with a little snowdrift left in the background.

MISSISSIPPI

What I miss most right now about way up north is how it smells in the spring when the snow melts and the ground thaws and sprigs of life emerge from the newly defrosted earth and the tree branches are taking on a hazy hint of green. You can smell earth and the decomposing leaves of last fall and fresh plant life poking up in odd corners all over the place.

And Minnesotans start wearing shorts with their parkas and boots and lifting their faces to the sun… and for just a few days they don’t complain that it’s either too hot or too cold.

Photos from up home last summer.

RED LAKE

Coronavirus weeks are much like any other week…well except for the fear … and figuring out a reason to shower…and wondering if Delta will return all that tickets-to-Africa money…and going to the store looking like the Lone Ranger…and pondering the how a world that can be so IT and AI and go-to-the-moon smart sits arguing and pontificating while the bodies pile up from a new disease insisting that the ‘only thing we have to fear…’ is not washing our hands enough and closing gun shops.

There…a week’s allotment of words  Now for the good stuff.

NORDSTROM KEEPS SENDING ME EMAILS ABOUT HOW TO DRESS FASHIONABLY AND COMFORTABLY FOR 24 HOURS A DAY AT HOME. I’M ALMOST POSITIVE I ALREADY HAD THE COMFORTABLE PART DOWN…NOW I’M WORKING ON FASHIONABLE. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

CONTINUING ON WITH UPGRADING TO ‘FASHIONABLE’ I ESPECIALLY LIKE THIS RETRO T-SHIRT AND THE PANTS MY SISTER-IN-LAW FOUND AT A GARAGE SALE IN PIETOWN.

AAAHHH. SOMEONE TO TOUCH AND HUG AND KISS.

LIVING ROOM JUNGLE WINDOW.

CALIFORNIA LACE SENT ME A BIRTHDAY PLANT…CALLED A SWISS CHEESE PLANT!

STAGING THE DAY

Pictures from a rainy day train ride in Norway…from Stavanger to Kristiansand. 

Sitting on my couch loving this rainy morning. I am a certified Pluviophile and almost nothing makes me happier than seriously rainy weather. I live in New Mexico just to keep me from getting too damn happy….

Spring Storm (William Carlos Williams)

The sky has given over

its bitterness.

Out of the dark change

all day long

rain falls and falls

as if it would never end.

Still the snow keeps

its hold on the ground.

But water, water

from a thousand runnels!

It collects swiftly,

dappled with black

cuts a way for itself

through green ice in the gutters.

Drop after drop it falls

from the withered grass-stems

of the overhanging embankment.

I actually stage my sunny front rooms some days just to pretend…if I draw the blinds, turn on a couple of discreet corner lamps and the rain ap on my phone I can take myself all the way to Hilo, Hawaii, the rainiest city in the U.S.. Son Scott and family lived there for awhile; I visited a few times, and found it to be perfect.

But that was awhile ago…before the Year of the Pandemic. When every day didn’t need its very own goal in order to get through…such as…today I won’t contract the virus OR today I will obey all guidelines to keep everyone else safe OR today I will clean the garage (whoops, I don’t have a garage) OR today I’ll read or listen to something worthwhile/enlightening/uplifting and not my latest murder mystery OR today I will simply wallow in my inner pluviophile and drink a lot of coffee and not worry.

In case you’re in the mood for a long poem…Longfellow after all!

Rain in Summer (Longfellow)

How beautiful is the rain!
After the dust and heat,
In the broad and fiery street,
In the narrow lane,
How beautiful is the rain! 
How it clatters along the roofs,
Like the tramp of hoofs
How it gushes and struggles out
From the throat of the overflowing spout! 
Across the window-pane
It pours and pours;
And swift and wide,
With a muddy tide,
Like a river down the gutter roars
The rain, the welcome rain! 
The sick man from his chamber looks
At the twisted brooks;
He can feel the cool
Breath of each little pool;
His fevered brain
Grows calm again,
And he breathes a blessing on the rain. 
From the neighboring school
Come the boys,
With more than their wonted noise
And commotion;
And down the wet streets
Sail their mimic fleets,
Till the treacherous pool
Ingulfs them in its whirling
And turbulent ocean. 
In the country, on every side,
Where far and wide,
Like a leopard’s tawny and spotted hide,
Stretches the plain,
To the dry grass and the drier grain
How welcome is the rain! 
In the furrowed land
The toilsome and patient oxen stand;
Lifting the yoke encumbered head,
With their dilated nostrils spread,
They silently inhale
The clover-scented gale,
And the vapors that arise
From the well-watered and smoking soil.
For this rest in the furrow after toil
Their large and lustrous eyes
Seem to thank the Lord,
More than man’s spoken word. 
Near at hand,
From under the sheltering trees,
The farmer sees
His pastures, and his fields of grain,
As they bend their tops
To the numberless beating drops
Of the incessant rain.
He counts it as no sin
That he sees therein
Only his own thrift and gain. 
These, and far more than these,
The Poet sees!
He can behold
Aquarius old
Walking the fenceless fields of air;
And from each ample fold
Of the clouds about him rolled
Scattering everywhere
The showery rain,
As the farmer scatters his grain. 
He can behold
Things manifold
That have not yet been wholly told,–
Have not been wholly sung nor said.
For his thought, that never stops,
Follows the water-drops
Down to the graves of the dead,
Down through chasms and gulfs profound,
To the dreary fountain-head
Of lakes and rivers under ground;
And sees them, when the rain is done,
On the bridge of colors seven
Climbing up once more to heaven,
Opposite the setting sun. 
Thus the Seer,
With vision clear,
Sees forms appear and disappear,
In the perpetual round of strange,
Mysterious change
From birth to death, from death to birth,
From earth to heaven, from heaven to earth;
Till glimpses more sublime
Of things, unseen before,
Unto his wondering eyes reveal
The Universe, as an immeasurable wheel
Turning forevermore
In the rapid and rushing river of Time. 

 

A SHORTAGE OF WORDS

It was impractical…perhaps even outright delusional…to think I could find the will and/or the words to write a cheery (or depressing) post every day during this strange time. I realized last night while struggling over the most trite of sentences that I was practically out of words and what few were left I needed for the book.

ME ON A TRAIN FROM STOCKHOLM TO NARVIK, NORWAY IN THE 80S. I WAS GOING TO POST SOME WONDERFULLY INSPIRATIONAL PHOTO TONIGHT…BUT IT INSPIRES ME TO REMIND MYSELF THERE ARE STILL JOURNEYS TO TAKE SO I NEED TO STAY ALIVE!

So I’m reverting to once a week, a post full of poetic, insightful, wise, and comforting expressions for this time of woe. Of course, if such a post is ever forthcoming it will have been copied directly from world famous philosophers, thinkers, mystics, and narcissists.

Today’s another day in a world that none of us have ever before experienced. Days are so ordinary in many ways; I’ll write a little, answer some emails; eat leftover pasta for lunch, maybe I’ll clean the bathroom (or maybe not); and so on and so on… While at the same time the world–as we know it– has changed forever. Although the horrible truth is that the more of us that die, the more likely moments have been added to the life of Planet Earth.

So see you in a few days when I’ve saved up some more words.

STEVE AND ASHLEY, SEPTEMBER AT THE WEDDING. STEVEN TRYING HIS BEST TO LOOK ANGELIC…WHICH IS WHY HIS NEW MUSTACHE IS NEEDED-ADDING THAT TOUCH OF MENACE.

And it was not the finest of days…starting with a stomach ache (OMG, didn’t I read somewhere that one of the symptoms…); middle-of-the-night reading of a history of pandemics; listless…but I wrote-badly; cranky but no one to snap at or complain to…  Okay, all that’s out of my system. Here’s the good stuff, three minute plank, almost-four mile walk, google hangout with Steve and Ashley, the amazing California grandchildren (Steven has a mustache which lends his handsomely-likable face just the tiniest touch of sinister—that might be his goal now that he living in the Central Valley away from his known SoCal on the coast life).

The news is so bad. It is just so bad. I think most of us now believe that it’ll be at least at year before there’s any degree of normalcy—and, according to my night-time reading, most pandemics return more than once, or pop up in different areas of the world with some frequency before there’s a vaccine that’s actually effective…I probably should stick to my murder-filled bedtime stories.

So much writing and reading and thinking and planning to catch up on during this time. Don’t whine. Just do it.

I’m so very lonely for normal (even though, as a current FB post advises, let’s not go back to that normal, let’s do better).

 

ABOUT THAT BIRTHDAY…

“Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.” – Truman Capote

 Managed to survive another birthday, another year. And thanks to an idiosyncratic (and that is my highest of compliments) array of family and friends…and being alive it was quite a nice day. May I share a few highlights?

First of all I do love those Facebook birthday greetings…and every year vow to check in on a daily basis so I don’t miss a friend’s…then I don’t…but happy birthday to all I missed last year and I’ll do better this year! Because I so much enjoy your greetings to me. Seriously—it is a lovely warm and fuzzy feeling even you’re a curmudgeonly crone like me. THANK YOU ALL.

And then there are the many of you who called and SANG happy birthday to me. Who knew I had so many friends with interesting voices. Actually my daughter in law was first and she played the guitar as well; then my friend Jess who not only played the guitar but added her toddler daughter as performer. The rest of you were beautiful but without the guitar and baby it didn’t quite have the same impact (just kidding). SO THANK YOU ALL ALSO. (But perhaps you could take up a musical instrument this year…because I am in isolation and determined to do it all over again in 2021). And thanks to my sons who ordered a thermometer and masks and took a distanced walk with me.

And finally, to the sweet cards and pretty little gifts some of you dropped on my front step. Virus-free of course. They were kind and lovely as were the park photos. Here’s a photo of the cards and the poem my cousin Arne in Norway shared. It is lovely, from one of my favorite poets, and doubly pertinent.

Spring and All [By the road to the contagious hospital]

William Carlos Williams – 1883-1963

***

By the road to the contagious hospital

under the surge of the blue

mottled clouds driven from the

northeast – a cold wind. Beyond, the

waste of broad, muddy fields

brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

 

patches of standing water

the scattering of tall trees

 

All along the road the reddish

purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy

stuff of bushes and small trees

with dead, brown leaves under them

leafless vines-

 

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish

dazed spring approaches-

 

They enter the new world naked,

cold, uncertain of all

save that they enter. All about them

the cold, familiar wind-

 

Now the grass, tomorrow

the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf

One by one objects are defined-

It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf

 

But now the stark dignity of

entrance – Still, the profound change

has come upon them: rooted, they

grip down and begin to awaken