Tuesday, October 11, 2016

As the Crow Flies

A crow, power line clenched in his talons,
memorizes my face
as I walk below.
His black eye
takes in the set of my jaw
the downward turn of my mouth
my stiffened shoulders
my red, red eyes.
"I will remember you,"
he caws,
his voice hoarse with promise.
"I will single you out.
I will know you next time."
The crow
who can count to six
who turns on his brethren
for no good reason
who picks his breakfast from
cracks in the blacktop
and waits until cars are dangerously close
before flapping his wings
in a lazy hop...
He blinks
recording my sad, ordinary self
imprinting my sorrow on his mind's eye.
Then he spreads his extraordinary wings
and leaves the power line trembling.
He swoops overhead
without so much as a good-bye.
We will meet again
I know.
He will remember the sad core of me
and bob his head in recognition.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Words welled up in my eyes,
clotted my throat,
stood on the front lines of my heart
ready to fight, defend...
"Retreat words," I ordered.

I was not ready to send them forth,
armed as they were.
Instead, they bunched behind my knuckles.
My fists clenched with thoughts.
They lay in wait...
whole sentences
crouched silently,
held at bay by my command...
a war within.

Other words,
well trained,
shuffled their combat boots.
They marched in rows,
across my mind,
over my lips.

"Retreat words," I whispered,
my voice quieter than crickets,
lost in the steady drumbeat of battle.
My rebel words
breached enemy lines,
fighting for my cause,
disobeying orders.
My words,
a rag-tag militia,
led a revolution.
Rogue words with soldiers' hearts,
armored in truth,
too brave to surrender.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

One Meeting Too Many

The coffee pot,
Humbly splattered,
On the wheeled cart in the library
Bears witness to the harried start of the day.
The plastic prong,
On one side of the lid,
Has come unhinged.
We empathize;
But no one takes time to fix it.
We are quick to take seats
at the back tables
Wrapping cold hands
around warm mugs
In air conditioning that works too well today
And not at all tomorrow,
Scrabbling for a loose pen
in the bottom of a book bag,
Pretending to take notes
While making to do lists:
-Turn in lunch forms
- Order electric sharpener
- Put in work order for locker #17...
The only sweet thing
About a mandated morning meeting
Robbing precious minutes
Reviewing old news
We know by heart
Is the jelly donut
Sawed in half
With a plastic knife
That wasn't really cut out for the job
Or even up to the challenge
But showed up anyway
A flimsy plastic miracle.
Proving once again,
The littlest things can make a difference.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Seeing Stones (Part Two)

Last week, I shared a photo of some seeing stones I collected from the banks of Elkhorn Creek.
I was fascinated with the perfect, tidy holes bored through solid rocks. What made the holes?
After quite a bit of research, I discovered the holes were made by piddocks. A piddock is a type of mussel who lives inside angelwing shells. The tiny clam rotates the sharp edges of his shell in order to carve out a tunnel for himself. Safe inside his chiseled burrow, he reaches out to gather all the nutrients he needs. When he abandons his stone house, he leaves it behind for rock hounds or curious teachers!
Although I have not yet caught a glimpse of a magical world or supernatural creature while looking through my seeing stones, I have learned about a world and a creature I never knew existed. That is its own kind of magic!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Seeing Stones (Part One)

A couple weeks ago, my husband, sons, and I rented two kayaks and a canoe and ventured down Elkhorn Creek. I wasn't brave enough to tackle any white water rapids, so we opted for the three-hour "Fun Float." After a 15-minute orientation video, our guide herded us onto an old school bus and drove us a few miles to the access point where we chose our boats, oars, and life jackets and set off downstream.
We took turns paddling the kayaks and canoe; and, although we didn't encounter white water, we did navigate some challenging "riffles" that tipped my younger son right out of his kayak and caused my husband and I to ram the bow of the canoe into a rocky outcropping.
Despite those mishaps, we were having fun on our "Fun Float."
Halfway through the trip, we docked our boats on a pebbly beach, unloaded our small cooler, and sat down to drink some water and eat a few snacks.
An unusual rock caught my eye. It was a chunk of limestone with a neat hole bored right through it. I picked up the rock and showed it off to my husband and sons.
"It's a seeing stone!" I exclaimed. I knocked a clod of dirt off the edge of the rock and held the hole in front of my eye."These are supposed to help you see into magical realms!"
I looked the exact opposite of magical...soaked shorts, frizzled hair, mismatched bathing suit, bulky life vest (still fastened even though I was on shore), and a sunburned nose.
Joey and the boys were too kind to take a picture of me; but I'm sure I looked half crazy wandering around the beach, staring through my new limestone monocle.
"I guess this is caused by moving water," I speculated, still scavenging around on the beach. By now, I was mainly talking to myself since my husband and sons were repacking the cooler and clambering back onto the boats.
"I hope it's okay if I take it as a souvenir," I said to no one in particular. "I mean...my seventh graders will love this. It's like in the Arthur trilogy or Spiderwick Chronicles! I can put it on the bookshelf; and the kids can look through it like I am right now and...ohmygosh!"
I interrupted my own enthusiastic rambling when, through the seeing stone, I saw two more rocks with perfect holes.
"This is awesome!" I shrieked, scooping up my two new seeing stones. Now I was really beginning to wonder if I had stumbled into a magical realm. I glanced nervously over my shoulder to make sure my family was still there. They were there alright, waiting impatiently for me to get into the canoe so we could finish our trip.
"Can you believe this?!" I asked, awkwardly climbing into the canoe, my three rocks clutched to my life jacket.
"They are cool looking," one of my sons conceded.
"Yes!" I said. "They are really cool looking; but why are there so many? I don't think these could all be caused by running water..."
I tucked the rocks into the bottom of the cooler, grabbed an oar, and helped paddle down to the take-out point. For the rest of our journey, I wondered about my seeing stones.
Back home, I booted up the laptop and set to work, determined to learn something about my new collection. Hours of research later, I realized the science behind the strange rocks was more magical than I could have imagined...
(Stop by Galley Street next Tuesday to find out what made the holes in the seeing stones!)

Two of my three seeing stones. I lost the third; but I found it a few days after taking the picture.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Upcoming Coronation

I'm getting a crown in a few weeks.
Unfortunately I'm not getting a crown because I'm queen for a day; and I didn't win a beauty contest.
I'm getting a crown on my tooth. Ouch.
One of my molars has a fracture. When my femur was fractured in fourth grade, I didn't get a crown; I got a cast. The crown on my tooth is like a cast that stays on forever.
My dentist said she just went to a conference where they discussed the fact that more and more people are living to be 100 years old; so we need to be even more diligent in caring for our aging teeth. I'm only 46; and already one of my teeth is going into a permanent cast.
The dentist explained to me, while I was still lying on the examining chair with my head tilted too far back, that if I don't get the crown, I may have to get a root canal. That sounds like a punishment.
"If you don't eat your vegetables, you can't have dessert."
"If you continue to sass your mother, you will be sent to your room."
"If you're not home by curfew, you will be grounded."
"If you don't get this crown, you will get a root canal!"
I decided to get the crown. I'm a rule follower; and with my dental anxiety, I don't think I can endure the root canal. It's bad enough that my mouth, which I assume has always been a democracy, will now be under the rule of a monarch. The unruly molar with the crown will definitely demand the lion's share of attention. The other teeth are going to have to adjust to the change.
I don't want to mess with the geography in there by digging a canal which might eventually lead to a bridge. No thanks...unless the newly crowned royal tooth decrees there must be a canal. In that case, I guess I won't have much of a choice. My mouth is not my own. Hopefully I'll live to 100 so my royal tooth can enjoy a long and successful reign.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Beach Bummed

My family knows I prefer indoor activities unless I am on vacation. For ten days a year, I live like a person on a Nike commercial. If not on the beach, I'd rather be on my couch. In fact, I sometimes blame my inactive lifestyle on the fact that we do not live ocean side. If we lived near the ocean, I would be a dog-walking, running, biking, paddle-boarding, bird-watching, zip-lining fool. I would slather myself with sunscreen and insist on eating a healthy, grilled, seafood dinner on the patio every single evening. 
Unfortunately for my waistline, we live 10 hours from the ocean. We do not have an enclosed patio, so we are forced to carry all the patio furniture cushions in and out whenever we decide to sit outside. We have so many cushions, that I am completely exhausted by the time I have the cushions in place. From the moment I sit down outside, I begin to dread putting all the cushions back in the garage. 
If we lived at the beach, we could leave the cushions in place. The intense sun would dry the damp cushions in record time, fashionably leaching them of their color, leaving them tastefully faded. Worn out things look classy at the beach. Worn out things look worn out in my backyard.
On muggy days, like today, I seriously consider sitting on the cushions inside the garage. It's cool in there. It's so humid outside that my hair stays in a frizzled cloud around my face. No matter how long I spend blow-drying and straightening it, it takes about five minutes for it to recoil from the hot, wet air. My hair recoils first; then I recoil and retreat back into my air-conditioned lair. If we were at the ocean, my hair would be sun-streaked and windblown.
At the beach, grit on the hardwood floors is expected...sand carried in on flip flops and bare feet. I'm not sure why I have grit on my hardwood floors here in central Kentucky; so I choose to ignore it and pretend I'm at the beach.
The freshest seafood we can get here comes from Kroger's seafood department. If it smells fishy, I steer my cart right on to the red meat section. The ocean is good for my cholesterol.
At the beach, I feel relaxed. At home, I feel harried. At the beach, I don't set cell phone alerts or check my calendar. At home, I misplace the dog groomer's reminder card and end up missing the dog's grooming appointment. At the beach, fresh strawberries seem like dessert. At home, fresh strawberries seem like dessert only if they are on top of chewy chocolate brownies and a scoop of French vanilla ice cream.
I need to move to the beach.