Category Archives: doldrums

ordinary friday (list)

sure signs of spring in the yard

sure signs of spring in the yard

morning snuggle
tiny boy in fleece footie pajamas
three way hug before Poppa leaves for work
morning diaper change (a wrestling match on the kitchen floor)
breakfast debate settled
pot of oatmeal and toast prepared and served to a toddler who deigns to eat them
trash out
coffee made
comfort boy after a fall
take the mail out
notice birds singing as I walk back down the driveway from the mailbox
freshly turned garden earth glistening dark in the morning dampness,
waiting for my tweaked back to mend
so i can get out there and rake out the weeds
mop the latest iteration of muddy dogprints off the kitchen floor
move laundry into the dryer
3 emails answered
pack bag for boy’s weekend with Grandma
turn the house upside down in search of his Other Rainboot, (again), fruitlessly
edit press release for client
continue the great family paperwork Filing project
remember to feed myself around 10:30,
cold oatmeal with maplesyrup and soymilk in a wooden bowl with a kid spoon
boil water for the chickpeas I soaked overnight
change the sheets
check the chickpeas
make the boy more toast
help him fix a car
flip through Gary Snyder’s Collected Works while picking up the bedroom
stare for a little while at notes I scrawled in the margins when I was 21
and then put it on the shelf
and drop to my knees to look for the Other Boot
under our bed
add oil to the car that burns oil
grocery shop for the boy’s weekend away
deal with several separate tantrums, in various locations
pass two different people crying on the sidewalk,
5 miles apart from each other
and practice tonglen
realize I’ve added too much oil to the car
research the implications of this
and schedule an appointment to have it drained and changed before work
file more paperwork
make lunch
(kale chickpea quesadillas with vegan cheese and appleslices)
visit with Ma
bundle the boy off to Grandma’s
“I be back,” he assures me from his carseat
and I am glad that I feel like laughing instead of crying
If our son is independent
if our son is compassionate
if our son knows something about fearlessness
then we have done well.
get the oil changed
recycle the mail, because it is all irrelevant
dress for work

and practice gratitude
for all of this

even when its hard

its beautiful

"Beep beep."

“Beep beep.”

tilled and ready

tilled and ready

loves kale.

loves kale.



Filed under basic goodness, blue collar, doldrums, facing east, Family, Garden, Gary Snyder, gathering, gratitude, Labor, motherhood, Ordinary, photographs, poetry, spring, stories, unrepentantly unedited, waitressing, watching it all go by

making soup from what we have

photo 1

sit by an open January window
and study the healing
of the half dozen cracks and gashes
the work weekend left behind on my hands

sip lukewarm coffee
and watch a slight wind stirring in the damp boughs
of a cedar tree that is maybe a century old

think about the questions of the day
What Ought We to Do…
about potty training the toddler
about the epidemic of gun violence
and the erosion of abortion rights
How are we to love each other, best
and how long is this stomach virus contagious
when will we finish the bathroom remodel
and catch on to the violence
of American poverty

the issues of the day seem insurmountable
but are soon forgotten
in the thickening pile of months
and years

make soup from what we have
which is collard greens, black beans,
farro grains and summer tomatoes and basil, frozen in blocks
from a warmer time

make playdough
watch him knead the warm, wheat-colored lump
into dogs and sticks and gingerbread men

and continue rowing
through the thick greyness
of the doldrum days

photo 2


5 AMpThu, 31 Jan 2013 10:47:44 +000047Thursday 2009 · 10:47 am

a dead gull and a map of the world

(orderpad note 1/19)

Driving home from Violet’s 2nd birthday party,
which was sweet in every way imaginable,
Callum and I discussed the colors of the things we passed,
orange backhoes and green trees, yellow cars and blue signs.

I passed a seagull in the righthand lane,
its wings were outstretched,
and it had been run over several times.
And I thought about the colors of the scene,
and about flying
and how sometimes life is wrought
with unpredictable happenings.

Callum chattered in the backseat, showing me his party favors in the rearview
Ahead, I saw a crumpled piece of trash dancing along the shoulder of the highway
I reached one hand into the backseat to receive
the item my son needed help with
and in that moment
the trash lifted up into the wintersky
and was unfurled
by the wind

revealing before me a perfectly unfolded
map of the world

i exited the highway
and drove up the hill to our house
how to blow into a paper whistle party favor
which was yellow
and unfurled with a tweet
at the end of the curl of paper,
much to my two-year old son’s delight.

and that was the end of the poem.


Filed under basic goodness, doldrums, gathering, gratitude, January, love, meditation, motherhood, on writing, Ordinary, outside, Peace, poetry

orderpad notes, 4.17

dim brewpub on a tuesday night
in the foreground,
the hiss of meat being slapped
on the grill
murmured Spanish
directing the assemblage of meals
the ceramic whisper of clean plates
being pulled from stacks

in the background,
the pleasant din
of people enjoying themselves
voices rising and falling
silverware clinking against plates
the weight of pint glasses coming to rest
on wooden tables

And here, in the space between,
hovering in wait
for a full caeser and a bowl of chili,
for the next request, or demand
for the end of the night
for some time to myself

I do not resent the people who eat the food
or drink the beers
but sometimes i think about asking them
if they realize
that every full pint, and every empty one
and every clean fork, and every dirty one
and every full plate, and every picked over one
is borne by these arms
my body knows the weight of that pint glass
as intimately as i know the shape of my son’s hands

I share dinnertime with certain restaurant patrons more often
than i eat that meal with my husband and my son
and while I am grateful for my job, and my coworkers,
and my kind patrons, who are many, and my good tips, which are frequent, and the lack of a bill for daycare,

i cannot help but think of something Josie said the other night
we are surrounded by food,

and yet we hunger


Filed under basic goodness, blue collar, doldrums, Family, Food, Labor, Ordinary, poetry, stories, waitressing

Doldrum notes

i left two pieces of toast unattended
while sorting a self-regenerating pile of laundry,
the toast caught on fire
and burned for some time
filling the kitchen with a surprising amount of smoke
i opened the front door
and the back door
and our house became a tunnel of wind
the baby and i watched, astonished
as it barreled past us
like a train

driving north on a rainy tuesday,
i noticed
they’ve finished the suicide fence on the Aurora bridge
its not an insurmountable obstacle
but people won’t be able to stand there,
on the edge
contemplating the leap,
like they did in the old days.
Now, they’ll have to clamber over
and dangle,
it seems like it would be harder to change your mind
from this position.

childproof caps are not always childproof, but
“the human body can tolerate a great deal of ibuprofen without adverse affect”
or so I am told by the nice man at Poison Control
and I sit there after he hangs up
watching the baby
who may or may not have eaten any pills,
and think of all the things we survive
just to become children
we should give ourselves more credit
for resiliency

the prayer flags are snapping and twisting in the wind
while the sleeping dogs lie
it occurs to me that I’ve used the word doldrums several times lately
without being entirely clear on the meaning.
so i look it up.
and the definition delights me.
turns out,

the doldrums are a place…
a band of the earth near the equator
where the north winds and the south winds converge
its a low-pressure zone, where things are calm
and ships got trapped in the old days
because there wasn’t enough wind to fill their sails

it seems to me that the doldrums aren’t actually depressing at all
but rather, are a good place for contemplating

to escape,
one just needs to get out the oars.


Filed under doldrums, poetry, watching it all go by, winter