Idaho Gigolo



He can dance
He can prance
He’s a horse
Of course
Idaho Gigolo
Idaho Gigolo

He can dress
With the best
Talk trash
With a splash
Plays golf
Like a dream
Charm flows
In streams

He can dance
He can prance
He’s a horse
Of course
Idaho Gigolo
Idaho Gigolo

Doesn’t stress
No mess
Tennis pro
Don’t you know
Fine wine
Fine food
Helps to put him
In the mood

He can dance
He can prance
He’s a horse
Of course
Idaho Gigolo
Idaho Gigolo

No sport
Too small
Smiling charm
Pervades them all
He’ll help you
Buy a bike
Knows just
What you’ll like

He can dance
He can prance
He’s a horse
Of course
Idaho Gigolo
Idaho Gigolo

Likes to sail
On a yacht
He knows
He’s hot
Very handy
Deck candy
Getting sandy
Fine and dandy

He can dance
He can prance
He’s a horse
Of course
Idaho Gigolo
Idaho Gigolo

previously published on


I was asked to write a poem from the perspective of the angels in my dream.


We are stars
We are born
We are made to burn
We flame
We explode or burn out
We are made to die

We are angels
We are made to fall
We all fall
We are white falling in black space
Or black falling in white space
If you prefer
It doesn’t matter
It is the contrast that is important
There is no light without dark

We are angels
We are made to fall
We all fall

Do you fear
your fear?
your anger?
your grief?

We fall for you

If you reject
your fear
your anger
your grief

We will fall for you
We accept falling

All must fall

If you accept
your fear
your anger
your grief

We will fall with you

You will fall with us

Recovering from influenza exhaustion

Influenza can cause swelling in the lung tissue. This is different from pneumonia, in that it is not fluid in the lung air spaces and different from bronchitis, where there is swelling and inflammation along the tissues lining the lungs.

In really severe influenzal lung swelling, the air spaces swell shut, the lungs are bleeding and bruised, and the person dies. Young healthy recruits in the 1917-1918 influenza would literally turn blue as they were no longer able to breathe and they would die.

If a person is still feeling exhausted after the initial week of influenza, they need testing to find out if they have lung swelling. This can be done at home or in your doctor’s office.

To test at home, the patient should sit relaxed for 10-15 minutes. Take a one minute pulse count: normal is 60-100 beats in one minute. Then the patient should get up and walk until short of breath. Sit back down and repeat the pulse. If the pulse is jumping up 30 points or if it is over 100 after walking, there is still lung swelling. The treatment is rest.

To test in my office, I add a pulse oximeter. I get a resting oxygen and pulse level, walk the person and then watch the recovery. The oxygen level will often drop and then rise to the sitting baseline as the heart rate recovers. Most people do not need oxygen if they have a healthy heart and healthy lungs to start with.

You can see why influenza would be so dangerous to someone with an unhealthy heart or lungs, because the heart can’t make up the difference.

I had influenza in 2003 and had lung swelling to where I could not walk across the room without my heart rate going to 132. Sitting, my heart rate was 100. My normal heart rate is 65-75. It took two months for the swelling to subside and mostly I lay on the couch. Be reassured that if you rest when you need to, you will recover.

The photograph has my father sitting and Andy Makie standing with the harmonica, at a music party at my house in 2009. Both my father and Andy are gone in their 70s, primarily from lung damage from cigarettes. Miss them both. Thanks to Jack Reid too.

Choice dream

Very soon after the angel dream came back I dreamed this:

I was in a house doing something and I realized suddenly that there were a lot of people present. It was a party. I had been so engaged that I had not noticed. It was not my house.

I saw my maternal uncle. I went to hug him: “Hello Uncle Rob!” He withdrew with his fierce expression: “I am not sure I want to hug you.” I shrugged.

I saw a female maternal cousin next, across a counter. We have been on opposite sides of a family issue. I reached across the counter and hugged her. She looked sad and disapproving, but she let me hug her.

I was hungry. We were going to have dinner, but it was not ready yet. I had a chocolate bar and pulled it out. Dark chocolate. A two year old curly headed blonde boy was eyeing me and the chocolate. I smiled at him. He smiled back, cautiously. “Who does this little boy belong to?” I asked, “And may I give him some chocolate?”

A large blond curly haired man turned and smiled at me. “He’s mine and yes you can.” he said, grinning.

I said to the boy, “I am going to pick you up and then I will give you some chocolate.” I picked him up. He was still being a little careful, glancing at his father to check in. I thought that the party was going to be fun, with the little boy and his father, and I woke up.

My mom loved me

My mom loved me

It’s herself she didn’t love
She didn’t love her anger
She didn’t love her fear
She didn’t love her sorrow
She didn’t love her shadows

She packed all her troubles in her saddlebags
and rode forth singing.

When I was angry
she felt her anger
When I was scared
she felt her fear
When I was sad
she felt her sorrow
When I felt my shadows
she felt hers
I hid my shadows

I hid my shadows for many years
and then my saddlebags were full
They called me

I dove in the sea
I rescued my anger
I rescued my fear
I rescued my sorrow
I rescued my shadows

At first I couldn’t love them
My mom didn’t; how could I?

But I loved my mom
I loved all of her
Her anger
Her fear
Her sorrow
Her shadows
Her singing and courage

I thought if I could love her shadows
I could love my own

It was hard
It took months
I looked in the mirror at my own face
And slowly I was able to have
Compassion for myself

I am sad that my mom is not
where I can touch her warmth
and tell her I love all of her
I tell her anyway

I’m finding many things as I surface from my dive
Sometimes I feel the presence of angels
I was looking for something else
I found a valentine
that she made me
No date
Many hearts cut out and glued
to red paper

I am so surprised

My mom loves me
shadows and all
now and  forever.

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child Sweet Honey in the Rock

I took the photo of my mother working at the etching press while I was in college.
This was previously posted on in 7/2014 and written before that.

Voice lesson 2

I joined the Gospel Class of the 2014 Centrum Blues Festival. You can join just for the Gospel Choir and it gets you the lessons, performance and into one concert.

It was taught by Dr. Ethel Caffie-Austin and Delnora Roberts.

Dr. Ethel Caffie-Austin is described as West Virginia’s First Lady of Gospel Music and Denora Roberts is from Maryland. Both are black. Their gospel choir for Centrum was nearly exclusively white, though there were a few asian people. I went to high school in Alexandria, Virginia. I thought, oh, goody, these women will yell. At some point, they will raise their voices at us.

This class taught me the best voice production of anything I have ever done. I have not focused on voice, being a rural doctor, but I have sung folk songs since I was tiny. In college I joined the university community chorus at the University of Wisconsin, where we did Carmina Burana. I took some private lessons. When I moved here in 2000, I joined Rainshadow for the William Byrd Mass that they were going to sing for my mother’s memorial after she died of ovarian cancer. My father had helped start it in 1997. I asked to stay in it after the memorial and they let me. I have been in it ever since.

And still, these ladies from the east, did the best voice training I’ve ever had.

First they had us sing and they divided us into Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass. They did it by ear in groups. That in itself was impressive. They could hear everything.

Here is what they told us:
1. Sit in a chair. Take as deep a breath as you can, then inhale three more small breaths. Hold it. You should be able to hold it for five minutes. I can’t yet. But I am doing better. Let the breath out.
2. Do six fast inhalations and exhalations, as deep as you can and sticking your tongue out on the exhalation. You will look like a Maori warrior — that is the face you want. It may make you light-headed. That is because you have blown out your store of CO2 and your body is adjusting.
3. Nasal wash every day. Neti pot or Neilwash or a Sinugator. Ok, the last one sounds like it would bite your nose. I chose the Neilwash because neti pots look too much like teapots.
4. Stretch your range. Both of these woman could sing all four parts: down to bass, up to high soprano.
5. Drink enough water. Drink water all through class. Drink water all day.

Then they taught us. No paper at all. They would sing a part, have us sing it back, and then teach the next part. In four days they taught us four part harmony to 8 gospel songs. We would get confused and start singing each others’ parts. They would stop. “A tenor is singing the alto part. Who is it?” They would have the tenors sing and could pick out the culprit.

Towards the end of the first 3 hour lesson, Dr. Caffe-Austin looked at the Sopranos and yelled full voice: “Sing louder. With soul.” Everyone jumped and I started laughing. The other Sopranos gave me evil looks. Dr. CA didn’t sound angry or anything except loud. Full voice for her filled the chapel we were in.

On Friday we did a lunch concert outside. Dr. Caffe-Austin really messed with us then. “What is the order?” People asked. She just smiled. Out there she would just start a song and we’d better pull it out of our memories. And…. she threw in three we had not done. By the third, we’d gotten it: call and response, we’d better sing.

On Saturday we were first in the lineup for the four hour Blues Concert in the balloon hanger (it is an old fort, remember? Fort Worden, and it was an intelligence dirigible hanger.) This time we were ready and responded to whatever she threw at us. It was so much fun and all oral tradition: no written words, no written music and we learned it.

Hope I can do it again this year. Hope they are back: no listing yet for the Gospel class at the 2015 Centrum Acoustic Blues Festival.

The picture is from July 2005 from the Centrum Fiddletunes Festival outside the balloon hanger.

The future of medicine

we recognize the true embodied mind
we stop the stigma of the many beaten down
the damage done in childhood caught in time
hearts open and lift the broken off the ground

we learn that diagnoses are a crutch
drugs plaster over deep and seeping wounds
mental labels hurt the patients oh so much
we learn to listen: broken hearts sing grieving tunes

cruel medicines and thoughts are shelved for good
gentle boundaries surround hearts to keep them safe
we rise as friends and families and doctors really should
the angry monster revealed as longing waif

damage done in childhood to the brain
lays survival pathways that we no longer call insane

The photo is me and my sister Chris. I do not know who took it, but I think it was at my maternal grandparents. They are deceased, my parents are deceased, my sister is deceased. I don’t know who to credit.

Exercise the wanting self

Achy this morning

Busy on Monday
Virus on Tuesday
Throwing up and
cancelled clinic
Beloved visitors all week
Worked, nauseated Wednesday
Thursday almost better
Evening festive
But up 1 to 4 am
with someone way too sick
phone to specialists
six times
finally I tell her
if she is not transferred
I think she will die
She chooses to go
Slightly groggy clinic Friday
Hard to type

Achy on Saturday

I make myself
go to the pool
to swim laps
I know
it will help

In the water
the wanting self
is noisy
I want goggles
I am wearing a mask
It leaks
Why haven’t I gotten goggles
I deserve them
Moratorium on spending
and haven’t had time
and I want that
beginner yoga kit
and other things

The wanting self
makes me tired
and it is silly
to want so much
Stymied, the wanting self
goes on about work
I am on lap number twelve
I think
I am uncomfortable
with Mr. J in clinic
who keeps wanting
more pain medicine
and complains about
my boundaries
In the water
I realize
that he is no more comfortable with me
than I with him
I am pleased
to admit that
and can refer him
to a pain clinic
The lady next to me
has a powerful breast stroke
long deep glide
under the water
The wanting self
wants to swim like her
Why don’t I exercise more often?
I am lazy
Maybe I will exercise
before my first cup of tea
every morning
The wanting self
builds castles in the water
that wash away
I wonder if the wanting self
builds up
is stored
in my muscles
and exercise
the wanting self
That would explain
better than anything
I know of
and why exercise
is the best treatment
and maybe that is why
and exorcise
are so close
I picture all our
wanting selves
sloshing around the pool
they dissipate
Does chlorine
inhibit their return
to our bodies?
We climb sleek
from the pool
and shower

I am less achy
still tired
but my muscles feel
blood flow
has returned

I must exercise
more often
and exorcise
the wanting self