Tuesday, November 18, 2014


"And where a great and unique man speaks, small men should keep silence."

Franz Xaver Kappus, introduction to Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Monday, November 17, 2014


"There has to be insight born of hindsight. Otherwise, you’re only confessing your sins and asking the reader to forgive you. And that is a complete misuse of the writer’s power and unfair to the reader."

On False Sentimentality, Womanhood, and Getting with the Program

A Conversation with Meghan Daum

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Handling Rats

Rats have moved into chez-Jordan. Here's Moka-chan eating pizza crust. Why rats? They're smarter than gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs. They swim, they're trainable, and they like to be held. Our Mule is turning into a pro rat handler. A New York City friend was by to meet them, she stood in the hallway and called out, "That's close enough!" when they appeared out of their hotel. Sweet red peppers are a favorite vegetable. We have not taught them how to place basketball yet, like they do at COSI, but they are very charming, and they do like to be held.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


My husband told me of a new business term for getting into the details today, granular.

I know the term granular from the perspective of wounds. Granular means that the tissue is filling in at the base; it's a sign of growth.

Through stress and suffering we can sometimes find ourselves in a place we would never knowingly go. These broken place are an invitation to  growth, where life gets granular. When your spirit or life needs a new direction, the earth shattering stuff comes from deep down and is rebuilt, not in a fell swoop, not on the surface, but at the base-- bit by crumb by bit. 

Take it slow, your foundation is reforming.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Hero

Dear Uncle N,
Only time will tell if she will ever know the story, but something tells me that she will shrug it off as if she knew all along it would be you.

She's never doubted one of you, ever. She may have admonished any one of you from time to time, but she never doubted the great stuff of which any one of you were made. Not because she made you, but because she watched time and experience mold you into noble and great human beings.

There may be fewer pictures in your baby book, there may be some mixed up memories of your first words, but you got more real estate in her heart, as the baby-- of this there is no doubt. No one even begrudges this, which is why it is so fitting that it was you that saved the day.

Thank you for helping us to see how important it is to do your homework, to look at old images and to compare them with new ones, to ask bold questions, and to pursue experts. Thank you for being wicked smart and leaving no stone unturned. Another day will come, and you may not be able to maneuver the fates, and for that I fear a wearisome struggle for you and for us.

I have no stripe to add to your sleeve, I've no sword to knight you with, but I do really, really get that you were the one who made a difference on this one important day. You are the hero. In the movies, the hero strides in with clanking boot spurs or on a white horse, but in real life, he's wearing khakis and fleece, and he has trained, researched, and consulted to do this one thing that counts in this moment as if his whole life prepared him for the day.

Thank you for being you.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Old Wood and a Long Wait

As I feed the old wood into the fire. My thoughts swirl around a dead tree's new life as dancing flames. Bright orange and yellow lights glow before me as I sit mesmerized by the heat and energy.

My mother-in-law's body struggles onward, its functions met by the administrations of hospital nurses, tubes, and drips, but the brain rallies no longer. I dare to ask, how much longer. "Everyday something different happens, who can know?"

How like life-- we make our plans and then poof, they are gone as if spit in the wind.

According to the doctors, the brain is gone and will not come back. Another pounces for certainty, "Are you sure?" Just a minute ago, uncertainty was waved in my face, now it is thrown again from a different angle. 

Certainty shimmies away.

I press cold fingers into warm skin. A body lies before me, unable to move or speak. Bandaids, tubes, dressings, and machines, cover and whirr. It is a scene out of reality, yet surreal. I'm asked if I want to leave. I'm confused. I want to know, I want to see evidence.

Consultations ensue. Some experts consulted say no recovery is possible. Other experts are found that say the brain must first reabsorb the blown up tumor tissue, but it is possible. 

Possible? How long do we wait? How many before her have recovered? How likely is it that the brain will be uninjured? Will she come back?

The waiting continues. There are no quick or easy answers.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sewing Patches

Unskilled stitches erratically poke between fabric layers with fatigue. It's late, after midnight, as I finish sewing the corporal stripes onto a World War I doughboy uniform. I think of the small boy who will wear the uniform to go trick-or-treating. I think of his grandmother, Mimi, holding onto life by threads as she breathes through a tube and doctors plan one last attempt to bring her back to us. I will remember these imperfect stitches I did not plan. But then, who plans these things? Ok, if you read the headlines at the checkout, some do. For others, the inevitable comes full bore and without warning, like this thing with Mimi.

I stitch and tell the little boy that we might need to prepare ourselves for something sad as things may not work out for Mimi.  He tells me to be hopeful. I am, but I am also shaken enough to know that she is near a dangerous precipice. I sent her little boy to be at her bedside. 

My little boy and I watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, a TV special I've watched dozens of times, always with a craving for a snack cake. Vince Guaraldi plays the cheery jazz melodies from World War I for Snoopy's flying ace scenes-- It's a Long Way to Tipperary. My doughboy knows that and a few more. Heck, he taught me to sing the words. Although I've been watching that special since at least 1976, I never appreciated those songs until now.

We sing to keep away unpleasant, unproductive thoughts. No wonder the tunes are catchy, they have to be for soldiers. So I stitch for little boys, for the ones who make me feel hopeful, even on a grim night and hear joyful melodies in my head long after the show is over.