admit deny

For mindlovemisery’s prompt: opposing forces. The prompts are admit/deny and presence/absence.

The pairs bring up my current sadness right away. I am struggling with the realization that we have a pervasive legal substance that works at the opiate receptor, is all over the US, and I have to send out urine tests for ALL of my chronic pain and opiate overuse and anyone on any controlled substance. You say, “but it’s legal”. I say, “Overdose and death risk. I can’t ignore it.” Here is the resulting poem.

admit deny

admit to yourself you deny your addiction
the presence of the drug means the absence of the one I love


Container dream

I dream I am at a concert in a park. Or some very big event. With my significant other. It is a beautiful day, the sun is shining, the grass is green, there are rolling hills and trees. People are arriving.

There is a gasp of horror. There is a large box, like the hold of a ship. We hurry to look in: there are three open containers down inside, tops removed. They are full of children. Smuggled? Immigrants? The containers are surrounded by water. My significant other and I drop our things and climb down the long hold ladder into the water, which is cold, filthy, and comes up to my thighs. I’ve kicked off my sandals. We are wading to the containers. An ICE agent in a black uniform, bullet proof vest, belt with tools and guns, and riot helmet, blocks me and says, “You have to be wearing shoes to help.” He is handing out plastic stretchers. He can’t see my feet. Yes, I know it’s dangerous and my feet could get cut, but this is probably sewage and dangerous even with shoes. We should really be in hazmat gear but the kids could be dying. I just look at him, silent, and he hands me a stretcher.

Enough people have come forward, into the water, that all the kids have been placed in one of the containers. None of them are dead. They are being lifted out one by one, to ambulances. Now the hold is surrounded by rubberneckers. I climb out and find my purse and camera and shoes. I am grateful no opportunist has stolen them. The ICE agents are telling people to back off and give them room to work. The news crews are there and a Washington State politician says, “This is Washington State, we will take care of these children, we will not see them separated and incarcerated, I will see that they are returned to their parents.” Good luck, I think, but at least there are tons of witnesses and cameras and news crews.

I need to find somewhere to scrub my legs down with soap and to find my significant other. It’s getting more crowded.

I wake up.

And what I notice is that the water did not stink and was not full of lumps of floating excrement. As I wake I hope that I won’t catch something horrible and die….usually my dreams have full sound, color and smells too. I wonder where the children were from, and why, and whether they had some sort of sanitation….

Matinenda doors

For Norm2.0’s Thursday doors, these are my family’s cabins in Ontario, on Lake Matinenda.

First, the log cabin. Built in the early 1940s. I wish I knew the names of the builders. My grandparents hired two men. They built a fireplace and chimney, too.


The Little Cabin is smaller and was built somewhere between 1936 and 1938 by my grandparents, with a smaller room and porch added later.



We sleep in tents, mostly.


And the boat house has doors too:


A lovely trip, with layers and layers of memory for me.


For Raynotbradbury’s “my life in percentage” challenge.

I have just returned from a vacation, a trip, a pilgrimage where I was unplugged. No list. No goals. No internet. No outlets. Just a lake and old cabins and meals and weather and quiet. Percentage, I wonder, of what? Happiness? Efficiency? Joy? Gratitude? Percentage genuine? Percentage genuine and present. What percentage is a loon at?  Either 0 or 100 percent and they are both the same.

We travel to the lake. It’s hard to get to from my home. We drive to a Seattle hotel for a park and fly. Stay the night. 6:08 flight Seattle to Detroit. Short layover but I know the airport, we make the gate with 120 seconds to spare. Our checked bags make it too. Flight Detroit to Sault St Marie, MI. I did not reserve a rental car soon enough to get one in Michigan, so we have a limo reserved. It’s a van. The van takes us across the border into Canada and to the Sault St Marie, ON airport, where we get a rental car. We drive to a grocery store and get a few groceries. The plane landed at 3:08, and I would like to get to the lake before dark. We drive from Sault St Marie to Blind River, and the 17 miles to the lake. We find the old boat, load in our stuff and get the four stroke started, one hour before sunset. The cabins can be reached by boat, no road. The dock was destroyed by ice so I have to pull the motor up as we come in to the pebble beach. I am just big enough to do yank the motor up. We are here. We unload.

Crazy, right? I have been describing it as “shacks on a lake”. No electricity. Propane stove and refrigerator. We used to use candles, but the fire risk is high this year. LEDs now. One cabin was built by my grandparents somewhere between 1936 and 1938. The other is a log cabin, built in the war years by a pair of French Canadians, logs chinked like tinker toys. Not quite though. It’s the log above chinked to the log below.

We set up tents and are unplugged. I have two phones. My t-mobile won’t work at all. The old I-phone will work sort of sometimes on the front rocks. I have camera batteries and take a lot of photographs.

I open my computer once at the library in two weeks.

We sleep in tents except for the two nights with major thunderstorms. It’s really the outdoors I want. The lake changes color and mood from moment to moment. I swim this year: I am way stronger than in 2015 or it’s warmer or both. We are in the cabin to eat and do dishes, but otherwise we are nearly always outside. The loons call. A family of mergansers comes up on the rock with us, 10 or 11. Otter sliding through the water. A pair of raccoons. A snapping turtle the size of a platter. Three pileated woodpeckers come to check out my flute. Three sandhill cranes by the road on the way into town. My cousins report a moose on the way into town.

The loons answer when my daughter plays violin: every time she plays the E string, they reply.

I’ve been visiting that lake since I was 5 months old. The lake, the rocks, the trees. The lake changes color every moment, changes surface mood, change. But the depths change slowly and are present, a turnover when the lake thaws in the spring and freezes in the fall.

I am the lake and the lake is me. Unplugged and being. Minimal doing. No list. Eat when hungry. Sleep so deep and swim and canoe around the lake.

I canoe and there is a woman, way across the bay. We talk. I know her last name, she knows mine. She remembers playing at our cabin with me and my sister, our long hair, running around while the adults talked about Watergate. About 1970. Her father just died in his upper 80s. He defied the doctors after a stroke a decade before, walked again and she kept bringing him to the lake. Now they are trying to maintain an old cabin, as we are.

Home again.


My sister’s writing about the lake from 2009: Rain on water.

Ms Boa signifies

Ms. Boa looks the way I have felt this week. And hearing that Aretha Franklin died, I think this expresses my mood.

This is for the Ragtag Daily Prompt: respect. Respect for loss, grief, and cat knowledge too.

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Princess Mittens, the cat on the left, is gone. One day she was in the living room, sitting under the vent and staring up at it. I finally paid attention and realized why.

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There was a bat in the vent. I could see claws. Ms. Boa became very interested too.

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We did get the bat out, by opening the windows upstairs and the vent. Keeping the cats downstairs.

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Ms. Boa was sad when our other cat was killed by a car.

Thank you so much for the music, Aretha Franklin.



For the Ragtag Daily Prompt #76: freedom.

Immigrant children separated from parents and placed in “camps”. This is concentration camp, jail. They have not been returned to their parents: This is a horror committed by my country. Return the children to their parents.

The deer were in the empty lot across the street from my clinic yesterday. Both fawns went to check in with their parent when I got out of the car with my camera. Imagine the terror of a small child whose parents have been taken away.

Stages of Grief: anger

I am thinking of the songs that comfort me in grief.

And thinking about the stages of grief. Five, right? Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Grief and Acceptance. My sister said, “They left out Revenge and Acting Out. ” She died of cancer in 2012 at age 49. Six days after her birthday and the day after mine.

Anger songs for grief. But denial is first, right? Not necessarily. These are not stages you move through in a certain order. This is more like a spiral, where you go from one to the next and back to the start, from day to day or even hour to hour.

I’ve already written about My Name is Samuel Hall. That is an angry song, unrepentant, that my sister wanted the last time that I visited her. I knew that she was furious about dying and leaving her husband and daughter. And me and her friends.

My mother sang:

“Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I think I’ll go eat worms. Big fat slimy ones, little tiny wiggly ones, see them wiggle and squirm. Bite their heads off, suck their guts out, throw the skins away. I don’t see how anyone can live on three meals of worms a day… without dessert….”

She also taught us this:

“I don’t want to play in your back yard
I don’t like you any more
You’ll be sorry when you see me
Sliding down my cellar door”

My parents had songs for every mood I can imagine. There were moods they would not speak about but they sang them.

My favorite angry groups are The Devil Makes Three, Hank Williams III, The Offspring, and Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Sweet Honey in the Rock? Yes. They sing about death a lot. This song is not about death: it’s about a “bad” woman, wanted dead or alive. But listen to the song: they are singing about a real event and a woman who fought back against a rape. On the thirty year album of Sweet Honey in the Rock, the group says that their first “hit” was this song, played by news stations. “It was a hint that we were not going to be top 40.” The song is Joanne Little.

So here are three songs by the others:

The Offspring: Why don’t you get a job?

The Devil Makes Three: All Hail

Hank Williams III: My Drinking Problem

And how do families show anger? They fight. They fight with each other. They fight about how someone should die, what should be done about mom, whether dad can live alone any more, about the right way to grieve. They fight about small things or big things and they even sue each other. Before you wade into the fray, step back. Remember, families grieving are always a little bit insane, very stressed and it’s all grief.

Hank Williams III: Country heroes

Blessings on the people I know in hospice right now and on their families and loved ones. Third one today. Sending love.