Category Archives: Nieces and Nephews

Tale-Telling from the Homefront

Home this past weekend. It was Mother’s Day, if you didn’t know;  if you didn’t know, you’ve really got more going on than I’m fit to address, frankly.

In Britain and Ireland, Mother’s Day is more commonly referred to as “Mothering Sunday”, which sounds just–well, just horrid, don’t you think?

ME: Happy Mothering Sunday, Ma!
MOM: [shudders]


A very special e-mail from my mother last week. She attended my niece Maddy’s very first “Grandparent’s Day” at school, and afterwards, escorted Maddy to a place called Mrs. Curl’s:

Mrs. Curl’s is right down the street from my elementary school/parents’ church. It is a fabled business, is Mrs. Curl’s.

Behind Mrs. Curl’s is a place called Archer’s Meats.


My mother briefly discussed some of the ins and outs of Grandparent’s Day proper. Then:

“Anyway, the real fun started when I took her home. We went to Mrs. Curl’s, and if you recall, Archer’s Meats is right behind it. A sturdy young farmer brought in a calf–this would be for butchering.  Fortunately, Maddy didn’t notice the nice cow. As we sat outside enjoying our ice cream cones, we heard a sharp cracking sound, which I believe to have been a gun shot involving the calf.”


She concludes: “Maybe a few zoning regs wouldn’t be a bad idea.”




It doesn’t end there, though!


My sister reminded me–and my mother verified this story–that, when we were little school children just down the road, a cow ESCAPED from Archer’s, GOT INTO THE FIELD by our SCHOOL, and HAD TO BE SHOT. And that the TEACHERS had to PULL ALL OF THE BLINDS CLOSED so we WOULDN’T SEE IT and develop IRREPARABLY COMPLEX MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES  for THE REST OF OUR LIVES.

I don’t remember ANY of this happening, for love nor money, but my sister does, sort of? My brother Nick apparently recalls it with the clarity of yesterday.

We decided that this is because the boys would have been hyper aware–would have had the inside line, back then–on A COW being SHOT IN A FIELD adjacent to SCHOOL PROPERTY.  I’ll betcha they went to the bathroom and tried to see out the window!

LITTLE JOHNNY: Hoist me up!
LITTLE TOMMY: It’s just like Christmas!


I know it sounds like Mark Twain wrote my school, but Greenwood is a perfectly genteel place!


There is a bait shop.


The other happening of the weekend was my youngest brother Ben’s graduation from college. My little Benjers! My sweet little boodle-doo. 

My grandmother, my parents, Ben, and myself loaded ourselves into a vehicle and made our way to the graduation on Saturday morning; it was held out-of-doors, at a stadium-ish place, and that cool spring wind sure did BITE OUR FACES OFF! But first: Pictures!

 Flanked by Ma and Pa, standing athwart the universe, master of all he surveys!

Flanked by the womenfolk!

A warm handshake between friends!


 For years, wheresoever I have lived on the face of the earth, I have kept this picture of Benjamin in my home:


At the graduation, the powers that be asked–as they usually do–that the spectators hold their applause until all of the graduates had received their diplomas. Hahahahahahaha! Those powers that be! “Knuckleheads that be”, I like to call them, when they believe that such naive requests will be honored in any substantive fashion!

The name of Graduate Number One was called. Her high-heeled foot had scarcely hit the stage when a woman in the crowd shot up from her seat–a woman quite centrally located, bleacher-wise, rendering her position like nothing so much as that of a mermaid on the prow of a pirate ship–and shrieked, with one fist thrust into the air:



When Ben’s name was called, I mustered up a “Woooooooo!” But it bore no relation to the primal cry seen above.

I know when I’ve been outclassed.


I would be remiss if I did not direct you to the New Blogs/Websites of my good friends Lara and Laura [don’t get CONFUSED by their SIMILAR NAMES. They are two different people, with two different hearts, and thoughts, and feelings]!


just a girl and her stuff

Let me be frank with you; let me speak plainly, as people do. Laura has the best taste of anyone I know, end o’ discussion. It’s disgusting. If Laura told me to purchase a pair of shoes the color of melted orange sherbet and shaped like a rocking horse, I’d buy those shoes, because Laura knows. Don’t ask me how she knows. God knows, I think.

Anywho, go and read all about the delightful things she finds! 


Lara Levitan
Lara has recently–and very excitingly–started on a new full-time venture as a mural painter/greeting card maker/step-stool creator/everything-er! Her work is bee-yoo-ti-ful. Go, look, stay, mayhaps purchase!

She is very talented, that Lara Levitan. You should see.


I am moving at the end of this month. Not to a new city; just a new apartment. It feels, though, like crossing an ocean. Three years in one home is not very long, and yet? It is. I moved in February 2007. From then to now? A lifetime. I have loved this apartment very much.

I have been thinking very much, lately, about terribly and utterly missing something, or someone, when they–or it–are still right in front of you; before they’ve vanished; before they’ve gone completely beyond your recall, out of your life with a finality that brooks no return. What do you do with this feeling? I do not know what to do with it. It is an ache that needs must fade, as other deep aches do. It requires no action. But…it does.

I am not very good at saying goodbye forever.


Our new apartment has a lilac bush in the backyard.



Explorers Cry Out Unheard

What I have in mind is the last wilderness.

I sweat to learn its heights of sun, scrub, ants,
its gashes full of shadows and odd plants,
as inch by inch it yields to my hard press.

And the way behind me changes as I advance.
If interdependence shapes the biomass,
though I plot my next step by pure chance
I can’t go wrong. Even willful deviance
connects me to all the rest. The changing past
includes and can’t excerpt me. Memory grants
just the nothing it knows, & my distress
drives me towards the imagined truths I stalk,
those savages. Warned by their haunting talk,
their gestures, I guess they mean no. Or yes.

Marie Ponsot



Filed under Beginning Brand New Things, Brothers and Sisters, Marie Ponsot, My Parents, Nieces and Nephews, Poetry

A Little Quiet, Followed By Loud

In one of those Halloween shops this weekend, with Bridgid. You know–those Halloween shops, the ones that randomly spring from the earth this time of year, like earthworms from the soil after a driving rain; except for the fact that earthworms are an important part of the cycle of life, the give and take of our ecosystem, the tapestry of the planet, and Halloween shops contribute the following:


And this is TAME. [Also, is that a tie around her head?] You know what I’m saying. This is like…this is like the “Accountant Piratess” costume. This costume is my concession to the fact that I flatly refuse to post terrible things here that one’s mother could see [hi, Mom!]; also my concession to TASTE, also MORALITY. The shop we were in was SODOM AND GOMORRAH. I was Lot’s wife. No, really.

Like–a Little Miss Muffet Adult Costume. No no no.


Ugh, Halloween is weird!


The store didn’t stop there, however. We were making our way past bloodied skull masks, two-headed babies with glowing eyes–the stomach, it turns. When I see such things I feel uneasy. It should not be de rigueur, during Halloween season, for free peoples to walk past two-headed babies with glowing eyes in a store without batting an eyelash.


I have drawn my line in the sand. I have drawn it. There it is.


Let’s scatter these nothings, these Hallowe’en dregs, to the four winds; instead, let’s look at my nephews in this year’s costumes!


If you need to pardon yourself to sponge the cute off your eyeballs, you may.


According to my sister, my niece Maddy has decided that she wants to be a vampire for Halloween. This includes the Halloween costume party at her kindergarten.

MY SISTER: So I was like–great! It’ll be five princesses and MADDY THE VAMPIRE.

Quoth my sister, however, Maddy “never wavered” in her desire to be a vampire this year.

That’s my girl.


I am the oldest of seven children. When I was growing up, one of us was consistently garbed as a hobo on Halloween. Someone was also always dressed as a “housewife” [sporting a cold-creamed face and a bathrobe. Ah, simpler times!] My sister has a memory, which may or may not be true, of being a witch “five years in a row” [direct quote].

Hey. Hey, YOU have seven kids and YOU dream up Halloween costumes for SEVEN KIDS every year, young whippersnapper. 

My roommate told me that when she was a girl, her school had something called “Hobo Day”, where the children all came to school dressed like hobos.



So I just read “The Once and Future King”, by T.H White–



It cut me right open. Beauty, beauty.

Not beauty: “Nicholas Nickleby.” I have spoken of Dickens many and many a day, here in Wheat Not Oats. And many and many a day have I expressed the pure and shiny and unstinting love in my heart that I have for all his works.  Not this one. No: Not this one.

I waited and waited for him to show me what I knew he could do, and he never did. It was dretful disappointing.

Nicholas Nickleby: Not so much.

Perhaps the movie version is better, starring Anne Hathaway. She is pretty good.


Things are quiet, these days. Fall is moving in. Moved in, rather–it’s here. I kicked my way through a lot of leaves on a Sunday morning walk. In college I would collect the most colorful ones and put them on my desk; by the end of the season they were brittle, dust to the touch. They had a week in them away from their tree.

I finally busted out a knit cap today. The store said that it was “one size fits all”, which means “one size fits all except for Emilie, whose head is roughly the circumference of a basketball.”  I jammed it down, though, and made it work. I think. I have boy hair, so I’m always all worried that I’ll look like a longshoreman from a distance.

I bet there would be times when you’d want people to mistake you for a longshoreman, though. Like–

–Dark alleys down by the pier
–Longshoreman bars
–The topmost deck

I think you get the picture.



Keep me from going to sleep too soon
Or if I go to sleep too soon
Come wake me up. Come any hour
Of night. Come whistling up the road.
Stomp on the porch. Bang on the door.
Make me get out of bed and come
And let you in and light a light.
Tell me the northern lights are on
And make me look.  Or tell me clouds
Are doing something to the moon
They never did before, and show me.
See that I see. Talk to me till
I’m half as wide awake as you
And start to dress wondering why
I ever went to bed at all.
Tell me the walking is superb.
Not only tell me but persuade me.
You know I’m not too hard persuaded.

Robert Francis


Filed under Brothers and Sisters, Charles Dickens, My Parents, My Roommate, Nieces and Nephews, Poetry, Robert Francis

Three Nights Two Days

Home in Indianapolis for the weekend, for my niece’s sixth birthday party.

I got in late Friday night. On Saturday morning, my parents made breakfast, and we randomly began watching a Western film that was on the TV. My pa’s a real fan of Westerns. This particular Western was called:



Of “Ulzana’s Raid”, I will say this. AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

One minute, we’re enjoying delicious cinnamon rolls and the gruff banter of Burt Lancaster’s “McIntosh”, a world-weary tracker; the next minute, we’re staring at the screen in frozen horror at  a wagon ride through the countryside gone HORRIBLY, HORRIBLY WRONG and OH MY GOD ARE THEY–? and IS THAT A HUMAN HEART? THAT IS A HUMAN HEART.

It was almost enough to deter us from enjoying our breakfast, but not quite.

MY DAD: [giving me a level look.] Two rolls left, three of us.


My niece’s birthday party was a cracking good time. My sister’s mother-in-law has a real knack for clever cakes, and she didn’t disappoint this time:





She wrapped the legs of the Barbie in Saran Wrap, and I don’t know what-all, and plunged the doll into the skirt-cake.

When it came time for Madge to blow out her candles: Dilemma! What to do with a pair of flammable plastic arms?

But my sister did not bear five children to be thwarted by the likes of a Barbie Doll.





Later, we squirted silly string onto the children, to fun up the joint. They screamed as though they were in “Ulzana’s Raid”.


The next day, breakfast and Mass, and a Colts game in the afternoon!

There is a time delay between the television in the kitchen and the television in the living room.  This creates a certain amount of  highwire tension during the Colts season. A certain amount of “gentleman’s-honor-I-won’t-give-the-game- away-just-because-I’m-fully-several-seconds-ahead-of-you-here-in-The-Future.” My brother and father and I were in the kitchen at one point, snackin’, and my little sister was in the living room. Something good happened; I don’t remember what, now, but it was good and it was the Colts. Perhaps a “first down”? Perhaps “the Jaguars went for two and they went down hard”.



Hubble talk in next week’s blog. Let’s examine the universe.

Oh, The Universe! You’re a real card these days, The Universe.

THE UNIVERSE: Tell me something I don’t know!
ME: But you know everything, The Universe!
THE UNIVERSE: How embarrassing for me.


Insomnia & So On

Fat bed, lick the black cat in my mouth
each morning. Unfasten all the bones

that make a head, and let me rest: unknown
among the oboe-throated geese gone south

to drop their down and sit beside the out-
bound tides. Now there’s no nighttime I can own

that isn’t anxious as a phone
about to ring. Give me some doubt

on loan; give me a way to get away
from what I know. I pace until the sun

is in my window. I lie down. I’m a coal:
I smolder to a bloodshot glow. Each day

I die down in my bed of snow, undone
by my red mind and what it woke.

Malachi Black

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Filed under Brothers and Sisters, Indianapolis Colts, Malachi Black, My Parents, Nieces and Nephews, Poetry

I Am Energy

I don’t really have a good explanation for showing this to you, opening the whole blog with it, even; it was posted on a Livejournal board I was reading this weekend. If’n I’d been drinking something, water or such, I would’ve spat it to the Mississippi.






Livejournal is such a funny beast [and the Twitter, and the Facebook, natch].

Every time I think I should delete my Facebook account, someone I went to high school with posts about their baby daughter taking her first steps in the Grand Canyon during the harvest moon, or something. And then I’m like…well.

That’s very nice, knowing that, I suppose.


Speaking of babies:



I remember when she was THE SIZE OF A YAM.

I called her the night before, to wish her the best of luck.

MY NIECE: Hi, Aunt Emilie!
ME: It’s your first day of school tomorrow! Aren’t you so excited?
MY NIECE: Aunt Emilie, guess what?
ME: What?
MY NIECE: Tomorrow is my first day of school. 


I think it’s time for some News From the Wastes of  Outer Space, don’t you?

From NASA [actual headline]:

Tropics of Saturn’s Moon No Tropical Paradise On Some Days

[I almost died right there]


“Astronomers have identified a storm cell on Titan the size of the country of  India.”

Scientists apparently located a “significant mass of methane clouds in a cold desert area where no clouds were expected”.

Methane clouds. Methane clouds! Also “cold desert area”.  And this is the stuff of tropics! God in His wisdom, I tell ya.

Did you know that Titan is the second largest moon in the solar system?


It doesn’t look like much to write home about, I’ll grant you, but it has methane storms the size of India!

Elsewhere on the NASA site: something called the Planck space telescope has “begun to collect light left over from the Big Bang explosion that created our universe”.


“The answer [to questions about the origins of the universe] is hidden in ancient light, called the cosmic microwave background, which has travelled more than 13 billion years to reach us.”

Um…cosmic microwave background?


Sometimes I think these guys use copies of the Oxford English Dictionary for target practice. 

SCIENTIST ONE: Pretty words! Who needs ’em?
SCIENTIST TWO: They’re only good for wooing the women!


I saw the below, this weekend. And this ridiculous picture made one tiny crack in my LOLcats armor. I laughed. I continue to maintain that cats are not funny. But.


Let us never speak of this again.


The Wind Blows Through the Doors of My Heart

The wind blows
through the doors of my heart.
It scatters my sheet music
that climbs like waves from the piano, free of the keys.
Now the notes stripped, black butterflies,
flattened against the screens.
The wind through my heart
blows all my candles out.
In my heart and its rooms is dark and empty.
From the mantle smashes birds’ nests, teacups
full of stars as the wind winds round,
a mist of sorts that rises and bends and blows
or is blown through the rooms of my heart
that shatters the windows,
rakes the bedsheets as though someone
had just made love. And my dresses
they are lifted like brides come to rest
on the bedstead, crucifixes,
dresses tangled in trees in the rooms
of my heart. To save them
I’ve thrown flowers to fields,
so that someone would pick them up
and know where they came from.
Come the bees now clinging to flowered curtains.
Off with the clothesline pinning anything, my mother’s trousseau.
It is not for me to say what is this wind
or how it came to blow through the rooms of my heart.
Wing after wing, through the rooms of the dead
the wind does not blow. Nor the basement, no wheezing,
no wind choking the cobwebs in our hair.
It is cool here, quiet, a quilt spread on soil.
But we will never lie down again.

Deborah Digges


Filed under Deborah Digges, Math and Science: General, Nieces and Nephews, Poetry

Christmas, Or: I Received A Paper Cutter LA LA LA

On Christmas Eve, we turned on “A Christmas Story” in the kitchen, as pecans were being chopped and sugar was being sprinkled and dumplings were being rolled and dreams were being baked and et cetera. It had reached the point in the movie where Ralphie had finally gotten his BB gun, and “all hell” hovered on the horizon in the form of his broken eyeglasses. As you know–if you are an American, and have not been living in a thatched-roof hut off the Trans-Siberian Highway since 1983–the refrain “You’ll shoot your eye out!” runs throughout the film. As we watched, my father–in a reflective sort of way–said:

MY DAD: I knew a kid whose eye actually got put out.
US: Guh?
MY DAD: His brother threw a rock at him. He had one eye!
US: Guh guh guh gah gah gah aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
MY DAD: Can you imagine being that brother? 

Meeeerrrrry Christmas!


Here’s an obligatory Picture from Christmas Day, snapped by my aunt during a vaguely candid moment, and which–as a bonus!–is also vaguely humorous! From the left, that’s my brother’s fiancee, my sister [holding my nephew], and my mom. I’m in the middle with the New Baby. 


The New Baby…well, there literally aren’t words for how I feel about this baby. It’s embarrassing. Baby of the Year.  Baby of the Universe. Winner, Best Baby 2008. Winner, My Heart, Which She Holds In Her Small Fist With A Grip Of Iron. I actually WANT her to cry, because that means I can rush to her side and provide tactical assistance. But this baby doesn’t cry. You practically have to divine what she needs. And her MOUTH quirks up into this little SMILE which just KILLS you even though you KNOW THAT, TO HER, YOU MERELY RESEMBLE A BIG BLOB OF POTENTIAL SUSTENANCE.


My mother’s side of the family was in town for Christmas this past weekend, which meant that myself and three of my brothers had to sleep at my sister’s! Slumber party! Yay yay yay aaaaaaaa!

ME: I’m sleeping on this couch.

My sister cautioned us that my 2 year-old nephew would likely enter the living room, where we were camped out, at around 7 a.m. Both nights that we slept there, this did occur. I would hear something strange in the darkness–

ME: My God–what’s that loud, slobbery breathing sound?

–and then I would sit up and cast my eyes about, and Drew would be lying half-asleep and face-down on the floor in the pitch dark, immovable, half-wrapped in a blankie, thumb jammed in his mouth, staring off into space, exhaling in the manner of someone wearing a diving mask which has flooded with ocean water. The following would then ensue:

ME: Drewbie?
DREW: [Stares at me as though I am a grizzled hitchhiker] 
ME: Drewbie, do you want to come up here and lie down and go sleepy?
DREW: [Stares at me though I have constructed a fiery Molotov cocktail out of his newborn sister’s formula bottle]
ME: Uh…Drewbie?
DREW: Mommy!


When he was significantly more awake, a few hours later, it was all “blah blah blah love and kisses and hugs”, of course, like nothing had happened. 

DREW: Aunt Elleee!*
ME: You looked at me like I was a grizzled hitchhiker. [Pause.] I love you. 

*He tends to leave out the “m”


Here comes New Year’s. Here it comes. Here comes the shiny and new.

I recently told someone that I wanted to spend my New Year’s Eve alone on a mountaintop. 

As that is impracticable at the moment, a party with small cups of champagne will be nice, too.


The next time I write, it will be 2009. Bless my boots! What ought one resolve to do, in 2009? I have a few big plans, but I’m not telling.

New Year’s is good for little plans, too. Like I think I should clean my room and I should buy a little bin where I could keep all my file folders. The bin could be red.


My room is awash in file folders. Every time I open one, I marvel at the contents all over again.

ME: Holy MARY!

Sometimes I forget why I kept something. It was bone-achingly important at some point, and now it is not. I cannot remember why I printed this short story, and gave it a folder all its own. There are other stories. I did not print them.


Last poem of 2008. I read a lot of poetry this year; I found basquillions more poets and poetesses with whom I became can’t-eat-can’t-sleep-must-read-everything-they-have-ever-written-even-the-bad-stuff-from-1992 enamored.

However, this poem [which I linked to in this blog, but did not post in its entirety] really threw me and my heart and soul and everything right against the wall. In the good way.

Happy New Year.

A Letter

I have been wondering
What you are thinking about, and by now suppose
It is certainly not me.
But the crocus is up, and the lark, and the blundering
Blood knows what it knows.
It talks to itself all night, like a sliding moonlit sea.

Of course, it is talking of you.
At dawn, where the ocean has netted its catch of lights,
The sun plants one lithe foot
On that spill of mirrors, but the blood goes worming through
Its warm Arabian nights, 
Naming your pounding name again in the dark heart-root.

Who shall, of course, be nameless.
Anyway, I should want you to know I have done my best,
As I’m sure you have, too.
Others are bound to us, the gentle and blameless
Whose names are not confessed
In the ceaseless palaver. My dearest, the clear unquaried blue

Of those depths is all but blinding. 
You may remember that once you brought my boys
Two little woolly birds.
Yesterday the older one asked for you upon finding
Your thrush among his toys.
And the tides welled about me, and I could find no words.

There is not much else to tell.
One tries one’s best to continue as before,
Doing some little good.
But I would have you know that all is not well
With a man dead set to ignore
The endless repetitions of his own murmurous blood.

Anthony Hecht 


Filed under Anthony Hecht, Beginning Brand New Things, Brothers and Sisters, My Parents, Nieces and Nephews, Poetry


I truly love this, from last Friday’s Chicago Tribune [in reference to the “trouncing” we supposedly took from Old Man Winter the night before, if by “trouncing” you mean “not a trouncing” or “not enough snow to frost a cupcake” or “we’ve all got cupcakes for hearts if we think that weather was a trouncing” or “I want a cupcake”]:

“Neighborly behavior seemed to be the theme on side streets near North and Western Avenues this morning, where Octavio Gonzalez, 57, had just finished carving a path through the snow around his entire block. He described the snow blower he was using as so old, “Columbus brought this machine over from Spain.”

Columbus brought this machine over from Spain.

When’s the last time YOU combined a reference to a 13th century explorer and outdoor power tools? Hey, this sounds like a fun game.

This lawn edger is circumnavigating the crabgrass like Ferdinand Magellan!

No, no–not as fun as I thought.



Christmas makes you crazycakes when you have nieces and nephews. I went to the wondrous children’s store Psycho Baby last week–a poor, poor personal decision, since my resolve in that place flaps around like a windsock–and bought my newborn niece an intricately knit winter hat which resembles a ladybug. There are antennas on top. Let me break this down for you:

ME, PRE-NIECE AND NEPHEW HAVING: Oh, just throw a warm oven mitt on their head.

ME, POST-NIECE AND NEPHEW HAVING: I wish the antennas had rhinestones on them, too!

[That sound you hear is my brother rush-tackling me to the ground, and he’s right to do it]


We had the Disney Channel on for hours at my sister’s yesterday. For the last time: can someone please explain the devastating allure of the Jonas Brothers to me?


I mean it.


Not too much time for writing this week. I’m in Indiana for the holidays, playing with babies, watching Sports Center, staring at the eggnog in the back of the refrigerator, closing the door, opening it again, drinking the eggnog, drinking some more. 

And re-learning how to hold a newborn. I’m not very good at it. I mean, I don’t drop-kick them, or anything. But you know. Those little boogers might as well be made out of Swarovski crystal. 

Next week is the last Wheat Dear of 2008. Maybe we can reflect and things. 

This poem punches me right in the heart.

Prairie Octopus, Awake

The night’s turned everything to junipers
shagged and spooked with cerulean chalk-fruit,
weird berries whiffing of Martians in rut.
I forgot this isn’t my universe
sometimes. Sometimes I think I was falling
most of my life to land here, a lone skirl 
in the immaculate hush. In my world
I waltzed with my ink-self, my black shantung.

Owls swallow vowels in stilled trees. It’s not
sleeplessness, it’s fear of what the dark will
do if I don’t keep a close eye on it.
Blue minutes leak from the pricked stars’ prisms,
seep into the earth unchecked.  Just as well–
I’ve hardly enough arms to gather them.

Nicky Beer

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Filed under Brothers and Sisters, Nicky Beer, Nieces and Nephews, Poetry


This blog was all ready to go–all ready to roll down the silo chute like a sack of soybeans–when a Late-Breaking Update occurred. Namely, the birth of my niece! She’s Lucky Number 5, in my annals of niece and nephewdom. 

Her middle name was selected based on the fact that she was born on the feast day of the Immaculate Conception.


Welcome to the universe, sweet little darling baby!


A sentence I read this week:

“The Germans have a word for it: Vergangenheitsbewaltigung — more or less, “coming to terms with the past.”

I want to know how those conversations go, between German friends; the conversations that use such a word.

GERMAN 1: Wie geht es Ihnen?
GERMAN 2: Vergangenheitsbewaltigung.
GERMAN 1: What?


I like the idea that there is one word to describe the concept of coming to terms with the past.


We’re on the  quick drift to the holidays. On Saturday, I had my once-a-year discussion with my father about what he’d like to receive for Christmas.

ME: What do you want for Christmas?
MY DAD: I don’t know. Nothing.
ME: [Shatters window with rock]

 One of these days, I’m going to come home with a Shetland pony for him, and we’ll just see how he likes it.

My dad’s a real make-lemonade-from-lemons kind of guy, though.

MY DAD: I named him “Albert Pujols”!


My mother, an extremely talented and intuitive buyer of presents, showed me one of the gifts she purchased for my nephew when I was home for Thanksgiving: a toy chainsaw. It’s RAD. I  tried desperately to locate an image of the exact chainsaw she purchased, but alas and alack: I could not.

I did find this:




 I also located a website,, which provided the following info on their toy chainsaw offerings:

“Li’l Logger Toy Chainsaw and Hardhat

This toy chainsaw and hardhat combo is a huge hit with kids! Your little boy or girl will have loads of fun pretending to cut wood just like Dad and Mom.”



I like their gender inclusiveness, don’t you? I’m just imagining the reaction of my nieces, aged 3 and 5, if they received a toy chainsaw from Santa this year! They’d just love it, I bet. They’d love it so much they’d fling it onto the flame-wreathed logs in my parents’ living room fireplace on Christmas Eve and watch it burn!


Real listings under the “Shop by Category” section on

Arborist Ropes
Concrete Cutting
Lumberjack Competition
Portable Sawmilling
Christmas Cards

Let’s just say that I clicked on “Christmas Cards”; and let’s just say that I was taken to a page that said “Forest and Tree Care Industry Christmas Cards”; and let’s just say that one of the cards I could order [quantity 100, envelopes included] was called “Logging Near Mt. Shasta”.

I love the world.

Running Away Together

It will be an island on strings
well out to sea and austere
bobbing as if at anchor
green with enormous fir trees
formal as telephone poles.

We will arrive there slowly
hand over hand without oars.
Last out, you will snip the fragile
umbilicus white as a beansprout
that sewed us into our diaries.

We will be two bleached hermits
at home in our patches and tears.
We will butter the sun with our wisdom.
Our days will be grapes on a trellis
perfectly oval and furred.

At night we will set our poems
adrift in ginger ale bottles
each with a clamshell rudder
each with a piggyback spider
waving them off by dogstar

and nothing will come from the mainland
to tell us who cares, who cares
and nothing will come of our lovelock
except as our two hearts go soft
and black as avocado pears.

Maxine Kumin


Filed under Brothers and Sisters, Maxine Kumin, My Parents, Nieces and Nephews, Poetry