Here is the tree we will plant for our baby. It is a live oak, and the tree expert at the nursery has assured me that it will probably outlast B and I very easily, which makes me happy. We had hoped to plant it this weekend, but we have to wait for all the utility companies to come out and mark their territory on our lawn first. That's what I get for trying to be a good citizen - delays and spray paint on my grass. Hopefully, we will have it planted by next weekend at the latest. For now, it makes me feel better just to see it in its pot, all strong and alive.

For Jill

who is fascinated by refrigerator contents

Unfortunately, the only thing interesting is the two pieces of birthday cake that were so rich we couldn't finish them.


Poetry Thursday

I am vaguely amazed that time keeps passing. Last Poetry Thursday, I hastily posted a poem after my doctor called to let me know that a blood test had come back with some funny results. I was worried and scared, but I never dreamed it could mean what it did. Now, somehow, I have survived an entire week. Sometimes I feel detached, and wonder why I don't feel anything. Other times, a crushing weight catches me by surprise, and the grief is so overwhelming that I think I won't live. And occasionally, I find myself laughing, or making a joke, or being happy about something. I am fighting myself to not feel guilty about these moments, because I know that is the way to be healed. The dangerous thing is that part of me doesn't want to leave my misery. Part of me wants to never get past it, never move on. If it weren't for B, I don't think I could move on.

Celestial Music

I have a friend who still believes in heaven.
Not a stupid person, yet with all she knows, she literally talks to God.
She thinks someone listens in heaven.
On earth she's unusually competent.
Brave too, able to face unpleasantness.

We found a caterpillar dying in the dirt, greedy ants crawling over it.
I'm always moved by disaster, always eager to oppose vitality
But timid also, quick to shut my eyes.
Whereas my friend was able to watch, to let events play out
According to nature. For my sake she intervened
Brushing a few ants off the torn thing, and set it down
Across the road.

My friend says I shut my eyes to God, that nothing else explains
My aversion to reality. She says I'm like the child who
Buries her head in the pillow
So as not to see, the child who tells herself
That light causes sadness-
My friend is like the mother. Patient, urging me
To wake up an adult like herself, a courageous person-

In my dreams, my friend reproaches me. We're walking
On the same road, except it's winter now;
She's telling me that when you love the world you hear celestial music:
Look up, she says. When I look up, nothing.
Only clouds, snow, a white business in the trees
Like brides leaping to a great height-
Then I'm afraid for her; I see her
Caught in a net deliberately cast over the earth-

In reality, we sit by the side of the road, watching the sun set;
From time to time, the silence pierced by a birdcall.
It's this moment we're trying to explain, the fact
That we're at ease with death, with solitude.
My friend draws a circle in the dirt; inside, the caterpillar doesn't move.
She's always trying to make something whole, something beautiful, an image
Capable of life apart from her.
We're very quiet. It's peaceful sitting here, not speaking, The composition
Fixed, the road turning suddenly dark, the air
Going cool, here and there the rocks shining and glittering-
It's this stillness we both love.
The love of form is a love of endings.

-Louise Gluck



Happy Birthday, B.
I love you.


Not for the squeamish

1. The bad part

In the continuing cruel irony of this miserable event, my milk came in. Apparently, my body thinks I gave birth and have a new baby to feed. I woke up ravenous on Monday. I couldn't get enough food or enough water. I felt hot and flushed. Honestly, I thought I was having some kind of breakdown with weird, psychosomatic symptoms. And then I started to, um, leak. So now, I have just one more painful, physical reminder of what we have lost. I also have smelly cabbage leaves in my bra.

2. The good part

I have accidently made up a new recipe for some really comforting comfort food. I adapted it from a recipe in a cookbook that sucks too much for me to give it a link here.

Kind-of Homeade Chicken and Other Stuff Soup:

Rotisserie chicken (you know, the ones at the grocery store)
1 Qt chicken broth
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 handful of baby carrots, chopped
1-14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1-9 0z package of refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 zucchini, chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
salt & pepper

1. Pull all the meat from the chicken and set aside. Separately, set aside the bones and skin.
2. Bring the chicken broth and 2 cups of water to a simmer.
3. Add the bones and skin from the rotisserie chicken and simmer for about 30 minutes
4. Strain the broth into a bowl and set aside
5. Heat the oil over med-high heat and then saute the onion and carrots for about 10 minutes
6. Add the broth, chicken meat, tomatoes, tortellini, and zucchini and bring to a boil
7. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes
8. Add cilantro and salt & pepper to taste
9. Serve topped with parmesan cheese (real parmesan, please. Not that Kraft, grated crap), and with a side of crusty bread.

Good for the soul.



Ashes of Life

Love has gone and left me and the days are all alike;
Eat I must, and sleep I will, — and would that night were here!
But ah! — to lie awake and hear the slow hours strike!
Would that it were day again! — with twilight near!

Love has gone and left me and I don't know what to do;
This or that or what you will is all the same to me;
But all the things that I begin I leave before I'm through, —
There's little use in anything as far as I can see.

Love has gone and left me, — and the neighbors knock and borrow,
And life goes on forever like the gnawing of a mouse, —
And to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow
There's this little street and this little house.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

Just a note to let everyone know that we made it through the surgery okay. I sincerely hope that we have now survived the worst day of our entire lives. For everyone who has called - we appreciate the love and support, but we aren't sure when we will turn the ringers back on our phones.



Last week, our baby died. We didn't know, of course. We went on planning and hoping and buying maternity clothes, and feeling lucky. And then, yesterday, the ultrasound technician said "Oh. Oh no. I should have checked that first." I didn't know what she was talking about. I was looking at the tiny little fingers up near the baby's mouth and wondering if he would be a thumb-sucker. "I can't see a heartbeat," she said, "I'm so sorry."

In what seems to me a cruel irony, I will spend today at an abortion clinic, surrounded by women with healthy babies that aren't wanted, having my son surgically removed. In pieces. We won't even have anything to bury. A small sample of the placenta will be sent off for testing to maybe find out what happened. Or maybe not. "It's extremely rare," my doctor said. Someone else used to talk about winning the 'evil lottery.' I guess that's what happened.

Our baby never had a name. All he will have is a tree that we will plant in our yard, to be removed at will by the next owners.


Poetry Thursday

This Window

I sit on the inside of this window
doing piece-work: woodcut, quilt square,
the shape of things to come.

Next door, you putter,
running water. Soon you will bring me
coffee, years before I need it.

Outside in the twilight,
a child playing some street game
calls: come closer

as the bark on the tree
darkens with evening and the last
light empties from a curve of sky.

I have been smelling coffee
all my life. Cold and so much
older when you bring me some,

I sit on the inside
of this window, close
as I can come.

-Candice Ward

I have recently noticed that a lot of the poems I like are about loneliness and isolation. It makes me feel like I need to state for the record that I don't generally feel very lonely or isolated. I think I'm usually a very optimistic and upbeat person. I don't know why my taste in poetry is so contrary.


Two pictures that make me happy

First, my favorite, local plumbing company. Their vans never fail to make me giggle.

Next, the hole I cut in my kitchen floor with B's circular saw. I have never used a circular saw before, and it made me feel like a total badass. Look at all the sawdust I made! Unfortunately, when I was getting ready to go at it with a crowbar, we realized that the refrigerator needed to be moved out first. And that will be a big job, since we have to take the doors off, empty the stupid thing, and maneuver it to the opposite side of an island and around the corner into the living room. But tonight, I will use the crowbar.


Creative destruction

One of my favorite things to do is tear things up and look at the insides. I especially enjoy when B saves ruined computer components for me to smash up. Once, I skinned a furby and then took it to pieces. BTW, a furby skin makes a very good costume for a small dog. Not that I would ever do such a thing (sorry, Luci).

So that crappy contractor we had last year? Stained the oak kitchen floor approximately the Kool-aid color that I dyed my hair in 8th grade. For those of you who weren't around to see that travesty, it is a rather alarming shade of burgundy. With much lighter spots where the stain didn't take (I'm talking about my hair also. No, you can't see a picture). All in all, I would say it looks pretty crappy. And I don't trust contractors anymore. So I have decided to replace the floor myself with slate tile. The first part of the project, which I am very excited about, involves taking a crowbar and circular saw to the existing floor. I am hoping to post pictures within a few days of large-scale deconstruction. I've been waiting a long time to do something like this since apartment complexes tend to frown on this type of activity. Yay for home ownership!


Only depressing in the middle

This has become one of my favorite songs of late, and the video is strangely attractive.

I tend to dislike Father's Day, since I have been rather disappointed in my dad. I've never had a good relationship with him, and I haven't spoken to him since my wedding 2 1/2 years ago. That also happens to be the day he didn't show up for my college graduation. I kind of always thought that his first grandchild would be something that would maybe cause him to rethink our relationship. I have harbored the secret hope that when I got pregnant, he would call me or contact me in some way. However, he hasn't. So I'm finally working on giving up hope. I have to make the positive decision that he will not be in any way involved in my child's life. I hate to make it so final, but for my sanity, and B's, I think it has to be that way.

I'm hoping that by this time next year, Father's Day will only make me think of B. It should be a lot nicer that way.

On a happier note, the miserable morning (noon, and night) sickness that has plagued me for the last few months, and the total lack of energy has disappeared. In it's place is an appetite that makes me fear for our grocery budget, and a bizarre constant craving for Honey Nut Cheerios and skim milk. Gender will be determined on July 14th, so anyone who would like to get in their bet should email me before then. So far, most of my family votes for a boy and the rest of the world is voting for a girl.


You know what's strange?

How you can get so used to something out of the ordinary that it becomes totally ordinary until you think about it. And how most people will just ignore the thing as long as everyone else does.

Our department at work acquired a small, retro-modern side table when we first moved to this building. We decorated it with a stubbornly non-blooming orchid, some origami flowers, and some plastic bowling pins, and placed it in the middle of the aisle. It has been there so long that no one really notices it. But the other day, I watched someone from outside the company visit our department. He kept glancing at the table (and also the huge paper-mache chicken that sits on a filing cabinet), but he never said a word or asked anyone about it. Generally, no one ever does. It's especially funny when serious people from outside companies visit in their fancy suits and ties and have to detour around it, but still never say a word.



Poetry Thursday

I have decided to institute my very own Poetry Thursday as an excuse to post a poem I like once a week, just because.

A Negro Love Song

Seen my lady home las' night,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hel' huh han' an' sque'z it tight,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hyeahd huh sigh a little sigh,
Seen a light gleam f'om huh eye,
An' a smile go flittin' by —
Jump back, honey, jump back.

Hyeahd de win' blow thoo de pine,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Mockin'-bird was singin' fine,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
An' my hea't was beatin' so,
When I reached my lady's do',
Dat I could n't ba' to go —
Jump back, honey, jump back.

Put my ahm aroun' huh wais',
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Raised huh lips an' took a tase,
Jump back, honey, jump back.
Love me, honey, love me true?
Love me well ez I love you?
An' she answe'd, "'Cose I do"—
Jump back, honey, jump back.

-Paul Laurence Dunbar

A lot of people either don't appreciate Dunbar at all, or only read the poems he wrote in standard English. Some people say that the poems he wrote in dialect were pandering to a white population that would pay for harmless, quaint, non-threatening poetry by a black man. I don't know if that is true or not, so I ignore the question and listen to the music. It is absolutely important that you read this poem out loud to hear the rythym of it. I was lucky enough to catch a reading of this poem on NPR last year, but now I can't find it.


Mostly an excuse to post a cute picture of Monster

I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful city. I sometimes wonder if all the poor souls still in flat, barren, generic DFW and flat, swampy, generic Houston know what they are missing. Why would you want to live anywhere else when you could have this is in your backyard?

It is rare to find beer cans, cigarrette butts, and other trash in the greenbelt. People around here seem to respect nature more than other places I have been. Instead, you are much more likely to find rock-pile art

and happy, worn out dogs.


In which she rants about meatloaf and over uses her parenthesis privileges

Last Wednesday night, I made meatloaf muffins, using Jill's recipe. For anyone who doesn't know, the biggest divisions in the meatloaf world are caused by what type of starch to use. The majority falls into the bread crumb camp. In my opinion, this is why most people don't like meatloaf very much. The recipe I have always followed, which was handed down to me from my mom (but probably not much further, since it involves Hunts Meatloaf Fixins [which appears to now be called 'seasoned tomato sauce,' but I know the truth]), uses rice, but Jill's recipe used oatmeal. I was torn. I wanted to try the novelty of oatmeal, but I was unwilling to give up the comfort of rice. Finally, I made two separate batches. I am happy to say that there was a party in my mouth for both versions, and both made a mighty fine meatloaf sandwich the next day. Just don't try it with bread crumbs.

BTW, no one needs to email me about the shame of making my cornbread without a cast iron pan. I know. But it was a weekday night and I was lazy.


You'd think by now Sebastian would have learned

Not to come downstairs when I'm doing laundry...



I would like to write a post about meatloaf today, but instead, I will frantically count beans until late in the night because I'm dealing with multiple accounting emergencies. (STAT! That journal doesn't balance!)

Anyway, for now, here is a poem about meatloaf:

Today for lunch I made myself a

cold meatloaf sandwich on lightly

toasted white bread with American

cheese, ketchup, mayonnaise, lettuce.

This is a quite a strange combination

of ingredients to put on bread I think.

My sandwiches don’t often warrant scrutiny

before being chewed up and washed down,

Except maybe for tofu, avocado

and sprouts in a pita pouch. Veggie

Sandwiches always make me think

I am doing right by eating this mess -

Not, damn this is good, but

Yep, plenty of vitamins here...

I’ll live longer by eating this way...

But meatloaf sandwiches are different.

I learned about meatloaf sandwiches

from my father who loved them best.

Even as he was eating his Sunday hot

meatloaf dinner, he was planning lunch

For the next day when he could

pull the ingredients from the frig,

build the sandwich of his dreams,

sit alone in the kitchen and savor.

Nowadays I think brightly of my father

with every meatloaf sandwich I eat.

My mother made BLTs, and the smell

of bacon frying is forever tied to her.

My mother’s mother made egg salad and

tomato soup when she watched over me.

My father’s mother made marmalade toast –

one slice for her and one for the dog.

But meatloaf is the stuff of patriarchs.

My father used to make idle threats

to cut off the arm of anyone who dared

reach for the last piece of meatloaf.

To deny him his meatloaf sandwich

was to risk amputation by butter knife.

I’d pretend at dinner to pilfer the leftovers,

sliding my hand stealthily toward the prize.

Wham! Down would come that dull knife.

I would giggle uncontrollably then try again.

Such warm memories from a cold sandwich.

I get no such joy from ham and cheese on rye.

Jack McGeehin

(lifted from Peeling Wallpaper)



The pebble
is a perfect creature

equal to itself
mindful of its limits

filled exactly
with a pebbly meaning

with a scent that does not remind one of anything
does not frighten anything away does not arouse desire

its ardour and coldness
are just and full of dignity

I feel a heavy remorse
when I hold it in my hand
and its noble body
is permeated by false warmth

- Pebbles cannot be tamed
to the end they will look at us
with a calm and very clear eye

-Zbigniew Herbert



Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

-Robert Frost

When I was a very little girl, my Mom was studying this poem in college. She read it out loud to me, and I loved the way it sounded, so she helped me to memorize it. According to her, I spent the next year or so reciting it to anyone who would listen. I still love the music of it. In high school, the thought that it might be about suicide appealed to my teenage angst. Now, I still marvel at the deep, yearning loneliness of the poem.


Gretel in Darkness

This is the world we wanted.
All who would have seen us dead
are dead. I hear the witch's cry
break in the moonlight through a sheet
of sugar: God rewards.
Her tongue shrivels into gas...

Now, far from women's arms
and memory of women, in our father's hut
we sleep, are never hungry.
Why do I not forget?
My father bars the door, bars harm
from this house, and it is years.

No one remembers. Even you, my brother,
summer afternoons you look at me as though
you meant to leave,
as though it never happened.
But I killed for you. I see armed firs,
the spires of that gleaming kiln-

Nights I turn to you to hold me
but you are not there.
Am I alone? Spies
hiss in the stillness, Hansel,
we are there still and it is real, real,
that black forest and the fire in earnest.

-Louise Gluck