Traeger season. My favorite time of year. An entire meal cooked out on the deck either directly on the grill or in aluminum packets makes for quick easy clean-up. The scent of mesquite pellets wafts about the deck. I peel russet potatoes and cube them, spray Pam on a huge piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, spread out the cubes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and seal ‘er up. To make sure they’re crispy on the bottom, they go on the grill first. My favorite part is sitting in the sun snapping the fresh green beans. I add a little lemon juice, salt, and summer savory to this packet and put it on the grill after the potatoes have cooked about twenty minutes. Then last, but certainly not least, the rib eyes, bright red and perfectly marbled with delicious fat. Mmmm. I sprinkle both sides with Traeger Prime Rib Rub, the perfect steak seasoning (in my opinion). Then on the grill they go. I set the timer on the stove so I don’t get sidetracked and over cook them. Time has a way of getting away from me when I’m basking in the sun in my deck chair waiting for dinner.
Season of delightful foods
For Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub today, Bjorn is hungry and looking for recipes. He wanted us to write about time in the kitchen, but my thoughts immediately went to cooking outside on my Traeger pellet stove. I’ve had a Traeger for years and could never go back to grilling over charcoal or gas. There is just something about that mesquite or hickory smoke that makes the food taste so delicious!
I don’t really know what cancer is, but mom’s in the hospital having surgery because she has it. I think that’s what Aunt Barb had and she died. I hope mom doesn’t die, too.
We’re visiting her today. She might be ready to come home, but I’m not sure. I hope so. She’s in a nice private hospital. Her room is almost homey with wood trim and soft lighting, not sterile like a typical hospital room. She’s sitting up in bed, propped up with pillows behind her. Her noon meal sits half eaten on the portable tray; she was always a slow eater, but this hospital food seems to have caused her to pick even more than usual. I climb up on the bed next to her and eye what’s left. “Can I have your Jello?” I ask. A half smile crosses her lips as she reckons I can help her clean her plate. “I have to eat it all before I can go home,” she says.
I wasn’t there the last time she went into the hospital. That time it was colon cancer. No one called to tell me she’d been admitted again or how bad it was, so I wasn’t there to eat her Jello. Maybe if I had been she could have come home again.
Rays of summer sun
Overshadowed by dark pall
Cancer beckons death
It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and guest host Lady Nyo is calling for haibuns involving a childhood memory. If it was May or August, I might have conjured up a happy memory to share. But it’s January and I’m missing my mom so this is what I’ve got for today.
Filed under Family, Life, Poetry
I love vacation because I get to spend more time with my mom and dad. Even if a lot of that time is riding in the back seat of the car. Eventually we get out and I get to hang out while they eat their picnic lunch and share pieces of pastrami and chicken with me. Yum! Then we head off on a trail. I’ve never been on such a long hike before, at least not that I can remember. And it’s hot out! I keep trying to sneak into a cool ravine, but they pull on my leash and say, “Stay on the trail, silly dog.” I see a chipmunk run across the trail ahead and I want to chase it, but that darn leash stops me. I do hope we get to the end of this trail soon. This is a long hike for an old dog like me. I need a drink and a nap. Oh, but first a dip in the cool lake.
Hiking near lava rock flows
Fun, tiring outing
Roman after a long hike
I’m finally getting around to posting for Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub, where Toni is calling for us to write about the dog days of summer.
Filed under Family, Life, Poetry
An outdoor June wedding in the Pacific Northwest is always a crap shoot. You pick a date and hope the weather cooperates, or else don’t care whether it does or not. If a little rain (or an impending thunder storm) is going to ruin your special day, pick an indoor venue. But outdoors and June was the perfect option for a young woman named Kelsey June who loves nature. The weather forecast changed from thunderstorms to blue skies to intermittent rain showers every two hours or so. When the time for the beautiful riverside ceremony arrived (an hour late due to a train on the tracks that delayed the entire wedding party and guests) the sun was shining bright. As the festivities continued, there were periods of chill rain showers, some downpours, followed by blue skies again. I suppose the wedding day was a microcosm of the marriage itself, into which some rain and some sun will come in alternating bursts of life together.
Summer rain showers
Unpredictable as life
Nourish all that grows
It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and once again Toni is at the helm. We are writing about rain and are to title our poem one of the 50 Japanese words for rain. I chose harenochiame ( 晴後雨 はれのちあめ), which means clear then rain. As a traditionalist, Toni is asking for us to include a traditional haiku at the end of the haibun. I have complied, though the wedding my haibun is about was anything but traditional. I’ve included below a pictures of the newlywed couple.
It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and Toni is calling for a haibun about everyday things with a true haiku at the end. I did my best. We’ll see what she thinks. This haibun is looking forward to later in the summer when I’ll get to enjoy the labors of this past vacation week.
Vacations can’t last forever. This one has been wonderful, spent planting flowers, including 14 Lantana. But eventually the daily routine returns. Preparations for the work day, each important for different reasons. Start with coffee, my daily devotional, and treats and a game of fetch with the dog. Crazy cat gets in on the action, too. Then shower and teeth brushing makes one presentable to the world. Must select just the right outfit to be warm enough in an air-conditioned office but not too hot to sit outside in the summer sun for lunch. Most importantly, I must pause for prayer—a chat with God about the day ahead—preparation for whatever might come my way. Oh, and can’t forget to pack that lunch. What good leftovers are in the fridge? No leftovers, but mmmm, there’s hummus, crackers, fresh snap peas from the farmers’ market, crisp jicama slices, and of course a cold sparkling water. All packed to go, give the dog his leaving bone and the cat a few treats. Finally, it’s out the front door to the car with just a moment to enjoy the potted flowers on the front step.
Lovely summer dalliance
They’ve grown large since June
I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend Mother’s Day than walking with my son among 600 or more varieties of iris, along with the many “companion” plants—oriental poppies, fringe trees, lupine, and more. The weather is perfect. The sun comes out enough to keep us warm, but then slips behind a cloud for respite from its rays just as it’s feeling a little too warm with a sweater on. Who knew there were so many different iris? Two-toned purple Poets Rhyme, burnt orange Drinks at Sunset, gold and pale yellow King of the Road, and vivid yellow with brown beard What It’s Worth (according to the sign, $40—yeah, I don’t think so).
Then there are the darker hues, purples verging on black, that catch my son’s eye because of their names. “These are some pretty edgy names for flowers,” he says, taking a picture of Hello Darkness (my apologies if you are now singing Sound of Silence in your head), Before the Storm, Banshee, and Old Black Magic, to name a few. Finally he decides he’s taken enough pictures.
We continue to wander up and down rows of iris while my husband takes a rest on an orange bench in the shade. The color combinations are simply stunning—I want them all in my own garden but I’ll later have to settle for just two. Then I happen upon what my son decides is the best iris name ever—”It’s as if the iris took my challenge to come up with the edgiest possible name,” he says—and there before me is Pretty Edgy. He snaps his final picture. The day’s perfection is complete.
Iris, iris bloom
Ev’rywhere the eye can see
This is posted for Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub today where Bjorn is asking us to write about walking.
Filed under Faith, Life, Poetry
For weeks I’d been getting away with pants or at least longer shorts. Up in the mountains of Ramona it wasn’t too hot. But that day we were off to Calico ghost town in Death Valley—the whole family was going and there was no getting out of it. Besides, I loved the desert. Still, it was likely to be 100 degrees or more and there was no way to get away with pants. So I pulled on my pink shorts and tank top, hoping mom wouldn’t notice.
Of course she did. “What’s that bruise on the inside of your thigh?”
I suspect she already knew. Mary Lou’s mom had probably called her the day it happened. (Your daughter’s friend doesn’t get stepped on by your horse without you calling her mom, after all.) I had convinced myself she didn’t know I’d gone over there that morning; that I’d gotten away with the forbidden main-road crossing before school. I was sure she didn’t know about that fateful bareback horse ride and me falling off. But the jig was up. The heat had exposed my secret.
Reveals what we’d like hidden
In the desert heat
Had to write another Southwestern-inspired poem, a haibun this time, for dVerse Poets Pub.
Filed under Family, Life, Poetry
Yesterday, Toni at Kanzen Sakura commented thanking me for writing two haibuns. I replied that I’d only written one. Apparently that’s because the second one was still in the works. So I’m posting this second haibun now for Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub.
Working on my memoir, giving in to the compulsion to communicate my story to whoever might need to read it, I decided I would have more success in actually getting the words on the page if I hand wrote. There is something about typing that makes me feel like it has to be perfect the first time, but handwriting builds in an automatic rewrite when I later type it up. So I rummage through my cloth basket of blank journals for just the right one. [This takes some time because there are probably 20 or more journals in that basket, evidence of another compulsion]. I find a 150-page spiral bound notebook with only 10 pages used up and decide that’s perfect. I peruse what’s been written and come across these words, written 18 ½ years ago:
It takes courage to write. Courage is not the same as fearlessness. Rather, courage is writing in spite of fear.
Just been reading “The Courage to Write” by Ralph Keyes. It got me thinking about writing a book about the effect being raped at the age of 14, while still a virgin, had on my life—the teen years, college, marriage, sex, life, thoughts, depression [although genetics had something to do with this as well].
I must be crazy. I can’t write such a book. Or rather I can, in that I’m sure I have enough material and could actually write it, but would I ever be willing to let anyone read it?
Crazy indeed. Yet here I am, almost two decades later, still compelled to write that book. Only now the story is complete. There is more than just the pain and suffering of trauma to tell; there is also the story of healing and redemption. Now there is courage.
Hidden on journal pages
Die and are reborn
For Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub we’re writing about communication. I decided to write about the frustration of communicating in a particular circumstance.
People who have never experienced chronic pain don’t seem to understand why sometimes I just can’t do certain things. I know I look fine from the outside. I know I hide it pretty well most of the time. But it’s exhausting to try to live as if I had no pain. It’s difficult to know how to communicate the struggle. If I told you I was in pain every time I was in pain, you’d think I was a whiner or a broken record. So I don’t tell you, unless it’s really bad.
“What’s your pain number today?” I hate this question. I never know how to answer it. Ever. And how does what’s a 6 to me (based on 10 being the worst pain I’ve ever experienced) really communicate to a doctor how much pain I’m in? I want to answer, “Whatever number will cause you to do something to make it go away!” Because although today’s pain may not be the worst I’ve ever experienced, it’s bad enough that it brought me into this terrible, sterile, time-wasting environment in the hopes that you could help me.
“Describe your pain. Is it burning, stabbing, aching, sharp, or dull?” “Umm, yes. Can you make it go away now?”
Jesus knows my pain
Will wipe away ev’ry tear
When the Son shines bright
The journey of Lent is personal for each Christian. In fact, some Christians aren’t even aware of what Lent is, what it means. It should be a journey of drawing closer to Christ, of understanding His sacrifice. Yet so often it becomes a journey of self-righteousness rather than self-sacrifice. We “give up” something we think is important—often things that would be considered extreme luxuries in other parts of the world—like chocolate or sweets, T.V. or Facebook. Then we tell everyone what we’re doing so they’ll see just how self-sacrificing we are.
Several years ago I decided I wasn’t going to give up things for Lent. Instead, I adopted a writing discipline. This year I decided it would be poetry—I would write a new poem every day for Lent (with Sundays off, of course, because they aren’t part of the 40 days of Lent). Now here I am telling everyone about it, and thinking that I’d forgotten how hard it is to write a new poem every day whether there is inspiration or not. Still, the writing journey does draw me closer to my Savior, requires me to think about Him when I might otherwise be distracted by chocolate or sweets, T.V. or Facebook. It’s really no sacrifice, but it is a worthwhile journey.
Desert sun blazes
Forty days, forty long days
No food, no water
It’s only the beginning
Real sacrifice is coming
For Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub, Rajani has challenged us to write about a journey. The subject of this haibun was rambling around in my head this morning, though not in terms of a journey, but I wasn’t sure how to express it. The Haibun journey turned out to be the perfect expression. When I tried to write the haiku, however, it wanted to be a tanka.