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76E towards Akron and Vivaldi on the radio,
I was flanked for a time by the Blue Knights Motorcycle Club.
I pushed my Forester of a Certain Age to 85 and kept pace with them for a moment and,
just at the instant that, their lined faces beautiful and suddenly young again with delight,
they roared ahead to fade into the dusk,
the moon, just one night shy of full,
made its twilight shift from transparent ghost to glowing pearl
and the fireflies as if to answer turned on their luminescent show and,
at least for those last few minutes driving home through the sparking dark,
I knew myself no more and no less than a letter in a syllable in a haiku
written in the language that is spoken by the World.

To Sleep

Until you experience insomnia, it's just an abstract idea.  The reality of having it though is something else entirely.  Short term sleeplessness can be a novelty, something to talk about at work the next day, but, when you have chronic insomnia, it makes every day a little foggy, a little cloudy - dimmer than it might ordinarily be.

Hello, Bombay!

A week from today, I will be in India!  

The Gauntlet

 Mom's sister came into surprise her for her birthday. This is the first time that they have seen each other in nearly a year and a half - since shortly after mom's stroke. 

It is interesting to watch people who have not met mom since the stroke or who - like my aunt - process her condition. Before you see mom, you have to find her in the nursing home.  You enter through a main lobby and then walk through a couple of halls.  You will pass people - staff and residents - some there temporarily doing physical therapy and others who are long term residents like my mom.  

A nursing home, however hard the staff tries to make it nice - is more a hospital than a home.  It's just the way it is.  The very first impression that most people have is one of scent - the smell of industrial strength cleaners, perhaps cooking smells from the kitchen and the inevitable and unpredictable odors that attend people who, for a myriad of reasons, find themselves living there.  This is very, very hard for most people to adjust to because it strikes them on a very visceral level.  In many, many people it actually triggers a flight response.  You may have to force yourself to continue deeper into the nursing home.  It may not be easy.
Next, you will notice the people.  Staff will be bustling about trying to get too many things done, care for too many people all in too little time.  They may seem grumpy or abrupt, harried.  Some will be calm and cheerful.  Some may seem depressed.  (Don't get attached to those folks - they probably won't be there long.)
 If you are visiting a loved one, you will find yourself having one of two reactions.  A) trying to overlook anything that is not perfect, excuse it, pretend it is normal or ok  or B) going into hyper protective overdrive and fixating and overreacting to everything and anything.  This is natural and can only be surmounted by repeated visits.  On your first visit - and unless you return frequently - you don't know what is normal.  You don't know what is acceptable and what is not.
The other facet to visiting a nursing home is the people who live there - either long term or temporarily.  Temporary patients may be old - there to recover from a broken hip or young - like the young burglar who had the bad timing to hide in a dumpster just before it was emptied into a garbage truck.  These folks have a job to do while they are there - physical therapy is exhausting work.  They pass through and usually return back to their lives.
The long term patients may be young, old or in the middle, too, but they are not going anywhere.  The damage to their bodies or minds from illness or injury is not something that can be repaired.  The most that they can hope for is to reach a point of stability and this is usually fleeting. 
These folks do not have a job to do. Their physical, occupational and/or speech therapy has come to an end.  People who have worked hard - at home or at jobs - now have all the time in the world - and very, very little to do.  Tedium becomes their constant companion and there really is not medication that, as with pain, can alleviate it.
For visitors, the long term patients - the residents - can be difficult.  They do not look well because they are not.  They are old, infirm, diseased - and they look it. Or, they may look just fine - on the outside - while on the inside their mind is tangled and shadowed. They may confuse you with people in their lives.  They may try to engage you in attempting to escape.  A 90 year old lady may beg you to call her mother's phone number. A gentleman may try to simply walk out unless his hat his hidden from him.  They may pass you notes telling you that they are being held captive against their will. They may, each time you pass, reach out and want to take your hand.  (It is ok to take these offered hands - they will not harm you.)
Do not make the mistake of deifying these people. As with any group, there will be mean ones, kind ones, cunning ones.  Some will tell you, every night as you are leaving to be careful, drive safe. Some will chide you for not taking care of yourself, tell you that you need more sleep. Others will cadge change for the soda machine.  Some will ask for your phone number.
It can be a wrenching experience - walking by these people. The trick to it is to look past the initial physical impression that you have of these people. Find out their names. You may have to introduce yourself many times - every time you see them.  That's ok. Many, many, many of these people get very few visitors - they become starved for physical contact. Babies need human touch to thrive - and this is something that we never really outgrow.  Find out who they are. 



We seem to have made it through winter and Spring seems to be springing.  Gorgeous day yesterday, though chilly today.  The sun is peeping out, though - so yay!

Tonight there will be a Super Full Moon.  Hope that the sky is clear so that I can see it.  :)

Sloppy Moes!

A meatless version of the Sloppy Joe:  Behold the Sloppy Moe!

Sloppy Moes

16 ounces fresh button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thickly
1 can of black beans, rinsed
1 can of Manwich Bold Sauce
1/2 cup of cooked rice
Butter, and do not stint on it, my good man

Fry the mushroom slices in a large skillet over a medium high heat in a few tablespoons of butter.  If you are in a patient mood, fry them in batches so that they are not crowded in the skillet.  If you can let them get a little crispy it is most delicious. ( If, however, you have had a long day and need to eat ASAP, then just dump them in, swish them around until they look cooked and hope for the best.)

Spread the cooked mushrooms on a large plate so that the steam they release does not make them wet and mushy.  Put black beans  and rice in skillet and heat through.  (If you are tired, just dump the beans on the top of the mushrooms.)

Add the can of Manwich sauce and reduce heat to low. (Or, not so low if you don't plan on wandering off and getting distracted by a TV show.)  Simmer till the sauce is thickened, stirring gently to ensure that it isn't sticking and burning.

Serve on a nice Kaiser roll.  (Or whatever bread you have lurking around.)

Here is the nutrition info for the whole batch.  (You will have to adjust the fat content for however much butter you decide to use to fry the mushrooms and the carb/fiber content for whatever bread item you put it on.)

Sloppy Moes

Calories     Fat      Cholesterol       Sodium          Carbs          Sugar      Fiber         Protein
    1,018            0g         0mg                         6,704mg            198g                79g               21g              24g


On Reading Pablo Neruda with my Coffee

 This morning, I am reading Pablo Neruda, in English, of course,  and as much in Spanish as I can - since its in the Chilean variant, I can only get the gist and not the finer, elegant meaning of the verses.  It is just different enough from the little Spanish that I remember - it hovers on the tip of my ear.  ;)

If I were suddenly granted immortality, I think that I would spend part of my never ending days learning all the living languages of the world.

When I read haiku and tanka, I think the same thing...wondering what subtleties and entendres I am missing, for haiku, so exquisitely brief, exist, when they are very good, on several levels - dimensions -  at the same time. A poem about morning glories twining up an old well may also be about the desolation of losing a young child.  A butterfly resting on a flower pot is just that, but also may be a summation of the very nature of Buddha.  A decrepit hut with shadowy, unswept spider filled corners is, again, just that, but also the literary avatar for the poet himself.

It is part of the charm of haiku that they exist with so many facets and depths, offering one gift for the casual reader, one for the scholar and another for the poet.  

Silver Linings

May all the every day cloudy things that happen to us have slashes of silver woven through them and may we have our eyes open that moment when they catch the light and shine.

Evelyn Kincaid


Evelyn Kincaid

knows her way around

as long



is going around

in circles.

And so she does.

Always looking for a door

or better yet

a face

that looks


She's ready to go home

And the nurse says

maybe tomorrow

the next day.

She's been there seven years.

She tells me she is glad to meet me


asks if I know who she is.

I smile

and shake my head

and let her say

Evelyn Kincaid.



My mother's stroke in December made her world contract to first the inside of a hospital room then the inside of a nursing home. So much of what she was before was swept away by the damage that the stroke left in its wake and by my step-father's death shortly afterwards. And she is left now to piece herself back together as best she can with the scattered and broken bits left behind.

Nobody can tell us what will happen next. The speech therapist has said that she may never regain her speech. The physical therapist said that she may never regain full use of her right side. The doctors say that she may have another stroke. Or another heart attack. Or another fall. But, all of these experienced and caring professionals also say that they really do not know.

Since her memory can be foggy and time seems to flow differently for her now, she lives very much in the moment. This is both a gift and a curse. It is easy for her to concentrate on the NOW, but it's also very hard for her to look backwards and see how far she has come since the stroke. She gets discouraged sometimes seeing how far she still has to go in the recovery journey. So, I find that I have become the chronicler of her life.  I tell her the story of her life from the stroke on.  I remind her of where she started. I tell her the story of how when I first saw her a day and a half after the stroke, she couldn't swallow. Of how for months, she was virtually bed bound. Of how she couldn't sit up on her own without falling down.   I map for her the path that, step by faltering step, she has traversed since that December night.

And, I remind her that I know who she is has not changed. She is still Nancy. Still my mom.  

 I am not blind to the change in her circumstance, of course. Her physical therapist counts her progress in steps. Three steps with much assistance after the broken hip. Fifteen steps with minimal assistance weeks later. And, when I was able to observe therapy the other day, twenty-one steps and that after the therapist asked her if she wanted to stop at fifteen. She kept going. She wanted me to see that she was working hard and did six more steps than the day before. And I could see it. I saw that every step she took was bitterly hard, bitterly painful and I saw her take them anyway. The determination shone through the exhaustion and pain etched on her face. Yes, I thought. You are still you. You are still you.