Saturday, February 27, 2010

Poem - Contemplation

I wrote this poem after contemplating how we sometimes can feel so saddened by the stories on the news, but not feel an equal pain for the outstretched hand of a man on the street.


Give me peace, give me pain,
Give me penance for a life so vain.

With one hand full of pride and derision,
I point my finger and cast my aspersion.

The crippling cry from an upturned face,
The sign of lost hope in a downcast gaze,
Do not move me, do not touch me.

Yet, I cry for the wars and the fires that rage,
I cry for the death by the hand of a knave,
But I do not move; I dare not touch.

With eyes that absorb the media’s glare,
I glance askance with an absent air;
Still he asks for my hand and my pocket of change,
To lift him above the ubiquitous plane.

And then one day,
 I dare to give, I dare to live.

My heart beats once then two then three,
I see the man, I set him free.

Give me peace, give me pain,
Give me penance for a life so vain.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Triumph of Nations

Triumph of Nations
We have been conditioned
to cheer for our American heroes,
the ones who ski fast, skate fast,
and do everything with grace and speed.

But what of the other nations?
There are several nations making their 
Winter Olympics debut in 2010:
Cayman Islands, Ghana, Pakistan, Peru,
Colombia, Montenegro and Serbia.

What did it take for these athletes
to prepare, raise money, travel,
and participate?

It took a triumph of spirit.

Olympians persevere
against all odds and all obstacles
to compete, represent, and belong to 
something bigger
than themselves.

We share in their pride, their work,
their desire,
to be the best,
but ultimately in their desire to be a part of 
this triumph of nations.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

An Old Soul

An Old Soul
Preamble:  This is a true story.
The first draft was written at the end of February in 2008

My Monday morning started with a cup of coffee, a call from my sister and a strange dog on the porch.  When I first noticed him, he was serenely napping, but he startled when he sensed me watching through the window.  He was a yellow Labrador with large soulful eyes that seemed to plead for my attention.  I figured his owner would walk by calling his name and he would soon go running off for an eventual nap on his own porch.

(click 'read more' for the rest of the story)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Cat who likes Rhymes

A Cat who likes Rhymes

 My cat is quite lazy,
she sleeps all the time, 
she only wakes up 
when I pen a good rhyme.

She likes a short poem 
about birds or gray mice; 
a poem about dogs 
might even suffice.

 But if my brief rhymes
 begin to lose zip, 
she’ll turn up her nose 
as quick as a whip.

 She’ll yawn and she’ll stretch
 and strike a bored pose, 
then fall back asleep 
and dream of great poems.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Perfect Blend Girl

The Perfect Blend Girl
by Rita Bourland 
The first time Dan saw the poetry, he had just spilled his coffee on the sports section of the paper.  As he tried dabbing the mess, to no avail, he noticed the tiny handwriting.  Right under a photo of another accused steroid-user, he read:

Forgive me, oh please,
I’m down on my knees,
I’m sorry you caught me for sure.
I wish I could quit,
I’d like to repent;
I’m certain there isn’t a cure.

Dan smiled at the truth of the poem and then gathered the sodden mess of paper and tossed it into the recycling bin.
(please click 'read more' for the rest of the story)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Easier said than Done

I was purchasing about four items at the grocery store this evening, so I headed for the self-checkout area.  As I waited for the next opening, I noticed a man (about 30 years old), finish his transaction, pick up his bag and walk away.  I figured it was my turn until I heard the cashier for the area say, "Sir, sir, you still owe 49 cents."  The man came back to the check-out and looked in his bag as if he was going to return an item.

I was standing nearby and said, "Here's a dollar. I hate for you to have to return your groceries."

He looked at me very strangely and said, "I have a $20 bill, I just don't want to break it."

He started walking away, again without paying, and the cashier said, "Just give me your bag of groceries and you come back when you have the money."

The man walked away with his shoulders hunched and I said to the cashier, "Do you think he's mentally handicapped?"

He said, "Who knows and who cares."  He was clearly quite exasperated at this point.  I proceeded to check out my few items.  As I was leaving, the man reappeared with his money and paid the cashier.  We both walked to our cars.  I saw him get in his car and then get out again and go back into the store.  Who knows what happened next.

I bring this up tonight because I think there are a lot of people out there in the world who are doing okay but still have difficulty with some of the slightly more complicated transactions that are expected of them. Something like self-checkout seems fairly simple, but if you suffer from a condition where sensory overload creates panic or counting money is a big challenge, it's suddenly not so simple.  The man clearly was having trouble dealing with what was being asked of him.  He wasn't belligerent; he just couldn't deal.

I wonder how many times he has faced similar situations and just walked away rather than ask someone for help.  Probably a lot.  I hope he's okay.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Shore to Shore

It takes guts to ride a bike
from shore to shore;
flat tires, sore legs
parched lips,
lonely nights,

give way to
unbridled adventure,
curious and kind strangers,
majestic mountains, searing deserts,
and cool ocean breezes.

America has it all
and gave it all
to one young man
who road across the land.

Read more at: Freedom of Spoke

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sharks in the Snow

Try to conjure up the Jaws music and you will get a sense of how this snowman feels.

The sharks they are coming,
there's nowhere to hide,
I can't seem to gain any ground.

I'm frozen in fear, 
my screams you can't hear,
I feel the sharks getting quite near.

My hopes to be saved rely on the sun,
or maybe another big snow;
either way
the sharks have to go!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


A book called Perfection, was recently published.  The author, Michael Hyde, teaches at Wake Forest University.  I have not read the book yet, but did hear the author interviewed on NPR.  The discussion covered a lot of territory and left me with some lingering thoughts.  As human beings, we spend a lot of time striving to be the best at something.  But what does it mean to be the best, and isn't there always another mountain to climb?  Our constant striving can help us achieve some notable goals but can also make us stressed and sick.  The ability to balance and to find beauty in the moment might help ease that constant yearning for the next best thing.  Perfection looks at some of those ideas and gives a framework for our societal attitudes.  So, here's a little poem about perfection:

I am perfectly pleased,
(well most of the time)
but once in awhile
I wish for the best
from myself,
from others,
from all of mankind.

Maybe I could be the smartest,
maybe I could know everything,
maybe I could right all the wrongs.

It would be nice to be perfect (sigh),
someday I might be,
right now I'll just sit and 
sip sassafras tea.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Enchanting Embrace

I listen to NPR daily and also check their website for national news updates.  I saw this story yesterday and found it so heartwarming and mysterious that I had to pass it along.  The basic gist of the story is that Barb Smuts, a field biologist, was studying at a mountain gorilla preserve in Rwanda with her friend Dian Fossey when she and a female gorilla locked eyes (generally avoided in the wild but occasionally happens).  After a brief moment, the gorilla got up from her group and walked twelve feet to stand directly in front of Barb.  The gorilla put her forehead against Barbs (steaming up her glasses) and then put her arms around her in a warm embrace.  A little later, the gorilla returned to her group and the encounter was over.  So, what passed between them?  Did the gorilla sense an emotion (sadness, acceptance, love, compassion) in Barb that allowed for this connection between species?  The mystery of this moment enchants me.  There are small miracles every day and this would have to count as one.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Creativity and Love

Creativity is often spurred on by loving thoughts of others. This valentine greeting is a good example.  I started thinking about all the people I love and then did a Google search about Valentine's Day.  I saw a random picture of a Scrabble tray with the word love on it somewhere on the world wide web, and then I thought of the idea for this picture and this post.  Our family loves Scrabble, so it seemed like the perfect fit. I took the picture (above) after carefully placing the letters on our Scrabble board, and then my oldest son used a bit of Photoshop magic to turn the Scrabble board into a heart.  It was a wonderful endeavor that he and I worked on together, and now I get to share it with all of you.  So, here's to love and creativity!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Good Grief, It's Cold Out Here!

Good grief,
Why am I standing out here?
I don't have a hat
or suitable gloves
not to mention 
the lack of warm pants...
So how does a guy
who is friendly but SHY
end up on display
for all who drive by?
I guess someone thought 
I was cute, OH MY!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Receive with Simplicity

"Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you."  Rashi (1040-1105)  This is the opening line in the movie A Serious Man.  I loved the movie and could comment on how I think this quote relates to the movie, but I would rather think of it in broader terms as it relates to all of us in our everyday lives.

It is incredibly difficult to receive everything with simplicity.  Our brains tend to analyze, dissect, digress and basically over think everything that happens to us.  How do we slow down our minds to be present in the simplicity of a moment?  I guess the best answer is to practice with great diligence.  It is worth the effort.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ho Hum Limerick

A limerick to brighten your day.
Ho Hum Limerick

There once was a boy named John
who always said duh or ho-hum,
his teachers were vexed,
his parents perplexed,
why John
always acted so glum.

Then one day a new John appeared,
he smiled and spoke with great cheer,
his teachers were pleased,
his parents appeased;
what happened
was never quite clear.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Saved by a Sinner

I was listening to A Prairie Home Companion the other night.  In Garrison Keillor's News from Lake Wobegon, he talked about a young boy being lost, one bitterly cold night, after being separated from his camping group.  The Minnesota temperature had dipped well below freezing and the snowy ground was frozen into an icy tundra. He was found by his drunken uncle and taken back to the uncle's hunting cabin to warm up.  The uncle, the black sheep of the family, had been banished to the cabin by his wife for a variety of unforgivable offenses.  Garrison Keillor said the boy realized he was being saved by a sinner

If you believe that all humans are imperfect, then every time someone is saved they are being saved by a sinner.  You may not like the word sinner, but in my mind it just means someone who is a work in progress.  Aren't we all?

But if you look at a person who is really down on his luck, after living a life of 'sin' (however you wish to define it), then it seems likely he might feel a stronger need to redeem himself through an act of kindness.  But, in truth, his desire may not be any stronger than another man who has seemingly lived a very pious, christian life. What truths lie in the hearts of men are only known to them. 

In the story, the uncle wonders if his act will prove fruitful.  He hopes the boy will grows up and make something of himself, thus ensuring the act will have redemptive value.  But I believe good deeds have inherent value both to the giver and receiver;  the redemptive part is beyond our control. We must simply act and continue living, each of us an imperfect work in progress.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Cold Wind Doth Blow

In honor of the piles of snow that have fallen today:

The Cold Wind Doth Blow

My snowman was tall,
as tall as an oak;
he looked mighty fine
for a snow-covered bloke.

He had a cool look,
 he cast on the world,
but rarely found warmth,
the wind often swirled.

His smile was frozen
in quiet delight,
as he stood at alert
from morning 'til night.

 But then the bright sun
brought sizzling heat;
he quickly did fade
and melt in defeat.

With the help of a friend he might reappear,
the next time it snows -
next year,

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Everything is a Miracle

I like to do the cryptoquote in the newspaper each day.  Once I've decoded the letters, I am often rewarded with a thought provoking quote.  Today's quote was especially interesting.

"There are two ways to live:  You can live as if nothing is a miracle: 
You can live as if everything is a miracle."  

Those words were written by Albert Einstein (1879-1955).  After doing a little research, I found the following words which he said to a rabbi in 1929:

"I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, 
not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of Mankind."  

After thinking about these two quotes and considering the author, I guess I would conclude that Einstein, who saw and understood the tiniest particles to the largest galaxies, was awed by the majesty and intricacies of our universe just like the rest of us.  Even his vast knowledge could not fully explain the mysteries, but he clearly believed the mysteries did not include a judging, vengeful God.  The majesty and complexity of our world could be summed up in the simplest of words: miracle.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Letters of Recommendations

I was asked to write a letter of recommendation for one of my son's friends and started thinking about the fact that it is rare for the subject to ever see the letter of recommendation that is written on her behalf.  How many times in life do any of us get to read a letter that is primarily singing our praises?  But the protocol is to send the letter off and not let the subject of the letter know what has been written about her.  I have decided that it is a great travesty.  As we grow into adulthood and venture into the work world, the praise is handed out less frequently and we sometimes forget the positive attributes that others see in us.  Therefore, I've decided that in the future, a copy of recommendation letters should always be sent to the subject.
P.S.  My son's friend will be receiving a copy of the letters I have written on her behalf.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Something Light - Sort Of

I love writing children's poetry.  I had a simple rhyme that popped in my head today and thought I would share it.  The idea of a child longing for a simple pleasure while the grown-ups are fixated on their Blackberrys seemed amusing and tragically sad all at the same time.

My mother loves tweeting,
my dad loves to text,
but I prefer reading,
it's really the best.

Monday, February 1, 2010

But What Did It Mean?

My husband and I were traveling on I-64 today, entering Louisville, KY from the west.  We drove under a pedestrian walkway and I noticed a handmade sign draped on the outside of the protective fencing.   The following words were printed on the sign: GRAYHAWK CORP SHAME ON YOU.  I was processing that information when I noticed a man standing behind the sign with one hand clenching the chain link fencing.  He was leaning forward, staring down at the streaming cars in a determined, desperate and slightly sad posture.  I know you are thinking I surmised a lot about this man in the few seconds it took us to pass under the walkway, but I know what I saw.  Several things passed through my mind as I tried to figure out the story behind the man and the sign. Did another company go out of business, was Grayhawk in someway involved with the wars we are fighting, did Grayhawk move their corporation to China or India, or did they perhaps treat their employees unfairly?

I figured I would get home and check out the story with the help of the internet, but sadly I was let down.  I found a couple of old references to possible low salary, low benefit issues but they were from three years ago and I wasn't sure it was the same corporation.

So, I may never find out why a lone individual was spending a Monday afternoon staring down at the interstate traffic behind a sign with a very accusatory message: GRAYHAWK CORP SHAME ON YOU.  But I've given it some thought and I've decided it's not a bad message for a whole host of corporations, banks, politicians and citizens of our country.  The sign might have worked better if it simply said: SHAME ON YOU, leaving every viewer with that simple unsettling thought to ponder.