A Week in January

Monday Morning Musings:

A Week in January

Some days begin grey and turn greyer,
there are mouse droppings in your pantry,
the rodents have partied while your cat sleeps,
the rain like a purple sweater, soft,
and you want to sleep, too.

Another day, the sun tries
to open its eyes,
as the wind whispers, try again—
and flaps rainbow wings. Look.

Another day, in this endless week,
the sky is the blue of cornflowers and hyacinths,
the river sparkles,
shadows dance and play
as a squirrel pipes a melody–

It’s all connected, the trees’
murmuring roots and the river’s answer,
the geese that rise
and the wind that sighs,

bang the drum, cross the bridge,
awaken and inform—
as the sun bestows majesty
ringing puddles in gold
take ideas from cloistered recesses–

It’s a heartbreaking spell
it’s a wishing well
it’s the dock at goodbye
and those left, asking why,

and you can’t explain,
but it comes again—
fear, regret—love,
beauty,
a day in January. A week.

I used some of the random words I generated. It’s been another strange week within years full of strangeness. Lots of grey rainy days with a few patches of blue. No ice or snow—that may come later this week. The GOP is still awful, and I pity anyone trying to teach or learn in Florida. Our children and their spouses—are sick. Older child and their wife have COVID. We have not seen any of them recently, but parents worry. Our refrigerator was terminally ill, and we got a new one last week. Then a couple of days ago, I heard some rustling, and we discovered mouse droppings in a large cabinet under the kitchen counter. A lot. It was a major cleanup. I think perhaps the bird feeder attached to the kitchen window may have lured them with its scattered seeds on the ground. So, though I’ve been enjoying seeing the variety of birds there, I think we should not fill this feeder again.

We’ve caught up on British mysteries this week, sort of comfort shows, not bleak mysteries.
Annika, which we started in October, so re-watched the first episode again and finished the series. My husband was put off by Nicola Walker’s breaking the fourth wall when he first saw it. But this time, we both enjoyed the show. Nicola Walker can do anything. I had listened to the original radio/podcast version of the show, too, which is also voiced by Walker.

Miss Scarlett and the Duke (Season 3)—it’s a light-weight mystery series, but fun, with good acting. I’m surprised how caught up my husband got in it.

We started the latest season of All Creatures Great and Small. It’s another “comfort series,” but it’s hard not to love it. It’s based on the books about a rural veterinarian in Yorkshire in the1930s. The books are also good, and so was the series done several decades ago.

Then we started something totally different, The Devil’s Hour (on Amazon). It’s about a woman who wakes every single day at 3:33 A.M. after a strange dream. This show should come with lots of trigger warnings. It’s unsettling, but we were both intrigued and want to see what happens. We have eclectic tastes. 😏

Warm and colorful food for cold, grey days.

Frosted fields with Van Gogh sun

But still, the Light

Monday Morning Musings:

But still, the Light

“But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”
–from Martin Luther King, Jr., Final Speech: “I’ve been to the mountaintop”

In bleak January,
the unclothed trees shiver,
and the sun has cast herself
into the ice,
but still, she rises.

Sun reflected in icy stream

The fields are rimed with frost,
and all paths seem slippery,
a time for caution, not over-confidence,
yet, through shadows,
some rise–

Frosted fields with Van Gogh sun

Shadow across painted road crossing lines

there’s a crossroad, a moment
when the tipping point comes
and a heart so engraved by
the acid of hate implodes–
or heals–scared with gold,

kintsugi hearts, with their own beauty
like winter landscapes—
and you watch as the geese soar up
past the morning moon, working together
to find the blue

Three geese in flight

that you saw in dreams,
that you see now,
and you think of ancient dead stars,
ghost-broadcasting faint photons,
not infinite, but as close as we can imagine,

the luminous beacons of time,
guiding us, appearing like heroes
that glow with incandescent fire,
not eternal, but with voices that continue
to transmit, like pulsars, blinking, spinning.

tilting toward tomorrow.

Geese and gulls, low tide at Delaware River

I used some of Jane’s Random Words for the poem. And yes, Jane, more stars. They slipped in while I was writing, and I couldn’t ignore their twinkling, or Dr. King.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I’m not a big fan of holidays such as this where people pay lip-service to someone while ignoring what he or she stood for the rest of the year. (Example, anyone lauding MLK who also seeks to suppress voting access.) However, I was moved by Heather Cox Richardson’s letter today on heroes.

Between the weather and work, I didn’t go anywhere this week, except to get a shingles vaccine. My husband and I both went. We know how to have an exciting date.😏 I got a few walks in though.

It was a good week for soup and bread.

We finished Season 2 of the wonderful spy series Slow Horses on Apple TV. Imagine if George Smiley and his circle were mostly inept, but sometimes stumbled into something that they solved. Then we watched Black Bird, also good but disturbing, as it involves a serial killer. The disturbing part comes with the serial killer’s recounting things that viewers do not see, but can imagine. Excellent performances.

On Saturday night we watched Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Netflix), which was thoroughly enjoyable. I think this one is better than the first. Since it seemed like “a popcorn movie,” I made some! And we ate it with a finger-food dinner.

Suspended

Monday Morning Musings:

Suspended

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
–Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

“We hope. We despair. We hope. We despair. This is what governs us. We have a bipolar system.”
Maira Kalman, And the Pursuit of Happiness

Clouds upon clouds—
an enigma wrapped in mystery,
we follow the clues
but find more questions.

What I mean to say,
is that I—we—are suspended
halfway to here or there

uncertain if we are rising or falling,
like astronauts in zero G
seeking up

or down, confused. The moon floats on the water,
unconcerned geese swim over it, but

another whale is beached, I read,
and I wonder if it, too, was lost,
coordinates off, communications broken–

and now the birds, first indicators.
Perhaps it was always about the birds—
the devilish bones and death rattles of dinosaurs
in their past, they soared into the future,
the evolution of unfurled feathers flapping,
vagabonds of time, soaring

out of the fog, I hear geese honk,
a blue jay squawks–not yet,
a gull laughs.
I walk on. Hoping.

I used some of Jane’s Random Words for this poem.

It already seems a long time since the start of the year. We saw more family members last Monday for brunch, and then met dear friends on Wednesday for a lovely lunch at a Chinese/Japanese restaurant. The temperature was in the 60s that day. Such weird weather—warm, foggy, and then more wintry temperatures over the weekend.

A strange week all around, including the spectacle in our House of Representatives, where it took Kevin McCarthy 15 votes and countless concessions to the right-wing extremists to become Speaker. What a contrast between the mess of the GOP and the unanimous vote by the Democrats for minority leader Hakeem Jeffries. He is quite an orator (Google his name and Alphabet speech if you missed it).

We watched several different types of mysteries this week—so there is a theme here.

Three Pines (Amazon Prime), series inspired by Louise Penny’s books. I’ve read some of the books in her wonderful series, but my husband hasn’t. We both enjoyed the TV series very much. I think Alfred Molina did a great job in portraying Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. This TV series focused on how indigenous people have been treated in Canada. It is darker than the novels, and the magic and warmth of Three Pines itself is not there the way it is in the books, but it is still an excellent series.

The Pale Blue Eye (Netflix) is a solid B movie. It’s a murder mystery with twists set in the winter of 1830 at West Point. Cadet Edgar Allan Poe helps the investigator brought in to solve the mystery of who killed a cadet. It was a good Friday night movie.

Decision to Leave (in theaters and rental) is South Korea’s entry for the 2022 Academy Awards. We both really liked this one, though probably I did more. I’m still thinking about it. It is a twisty tale of murder and romantic obsession with the noirish theme of the male police detective who falls for the beautiful female suspect. Both wonderfully acted. The cinematography/editing is brilliant with the camera giving viewers different points of view and lingering on certain shots.

I’ve recently read and enjoyed two novels:
Joanna Quinn, The Whalebone Theater
Kate Quinn, The Diamond Eye

I don’t know if these two authors are related, but there was a throwaway line in The Whalebone Theater that alluded to the main character in The Diamond Eye, a Russian woman who became a sniper in WWII.

The Eternal Endings and Beginnings

Monday Morning Musings:

The Eternal Endings and Beginnings

“In other words,
once there was air,
a bird
could be got.”
–from Lia Purpura, “Beginning”

I.
In dreams
time has no meaning,
our ghosts live again,
disclose the truth of stories.

II.
Invisible birds call
proclaim themselves in
the grey-blanketed world

where there is only them—
and me—but they are
shapeshifters, black dots
that honk as the mother mallard
laughs

then
the blue of jay, the red of cardinals,
spots of color in the monochrome–

is the universe
what we imagine? What comes first?

III.
Cycles and turnings,
sun, moon, earth,
mother and child
reborn
endings become beginnings–

and now, on New Year’s Day,
here, washed clean, sparkling,
it begins. Again.

Helllo, again. This is my first Monday Morning Musings of the New Year. For those who have been away from blogs, I hope you had a good holiday season, and I wish you a very happy and healthy new year. 2022 was quite a year. Friday will be the anniversary of when the US was almost destroyed. I 2022, I had loved one dies, and I also had my first book of poetry, River Winds, published by Nightingale and Sparrow Press.

At the start of this past week, we got together with family. Our older child and their wife were here with us over Christmas and for a few days. We will see more family and friends this week.

We said goodbye to the old year with wine and cheese from Tria and a virtual tasting. It was a fun and educational event with Tria’s wine director, Lauren Harris and Tria’s Cheese Director, Madame Fromage (Tenaya Darlington) who was in Belgium. I liked everything. My husband and I who do not generally like rosé, enjoyed this sparkling one from Italy, and every single cheese was delicious. Really delicious. It was a good night to stay in, as it was foggy, then rainy outside.
But yesterday, New Year’s Day, was sunny and mild.

In my dream early this morning, my children were still children, my mother was around, and so were old pets. It was a past and now. Old and young, dead and alive.

Perhaps I was influenced by what we watched, The Eternal Daughter, a film by Joanna Hogg in which Tilda Swinton plays both mother and daughter. It’s a definite Merril movie that I highly recommend. It’s a mystery with ghostly overtones set in a grand old house in Wales. Merril movie should tell you that it has layers and that it is not an action film.

We also streamed the Lantern Theater’s one-man show version of A Christmas Carol. We had seen it live a few years ago for my birthday. Dickens used to perform it himself, too. Also highly recommended. My husband said, “I could watch that every year.”

Shows: We re-watched the final two episodes of 1899 with our older child and daughter-in-law. We finished Let the Right One In, a Showtime series based on the movies about a vampire girl and her friendship with a boy who needs friends. It’s vampires, but it’s really a show about family, friendship, and what you will do for love. We had started Wednesday, didn’t love, but went back and ended-up enjoying it.

I’m currently reading, The Whalebone Theater: A Novel by Joanna Quinn, and thoroughly enjoying it. I’m also reading some unpublished manuscripts, and poetry that I will review soon.

Long, Winter Dreams

Monday Morning Musings:

Long Winter Dreams

The sun is a specter,
a pale wraith without
the heat of its golden youth,

its white-bearded head haloed
with wreathes of clouds
that feather

the skeletons of trees
backlit on the winter stage,
waiting for spring’s curtain call.

Now we remember summer
in our wine, and gather light around us,
echo ancient tales in newer versions
like sundial to clock
hours that pass and return

differently and the same,
like families, love,
and the river’s flow.

And so, it goes. The food, wine, sweets,
the hugs and kisses, the putting on of hats
and coats, the remembering of ghosts of before
and after

in our long, winter dreams,
the fiddler turns notes into stars—
and diamond glitter falls
so that we shine. Each of us, all.

Not much outdoor walking this past week with the recent weather. We did get to celebrate with family, and even though older child and their wife’s train was first cancelled and then the rebooked one had several delays, they eventually made it here. I hope all of you are safe and warm.

On the way to 30th St. Station on Christmas Eve

Small Stars

Monday Morning Musings:

December Puddle Reflection

Small Stars

December is heavy-lidded,
ready to sleep
with yawns that make branches shake
and clouds that weep great, grey tears—

and yet—

the star-birds still sing,
twinkling light-songs echo

in waves that ebb and flow
lulling us, waking us, making us
dream

and remember, so that
we recreate light, surf its waves
as bobbing buffleheads, here, gone,
here again,

bound to Earth and water,
small stars, sparkling.

My birthday last week began with a wintry mix of sleet and rain, that turned into wind-driven rain later in the day. Our daughter came for a visit on her way home from work, and she brought me a chocolate, chocolate birthday cake. She knows me. The next day we went to see a movie in a theater for the first time since the pandemic (we stayed masked and there were only a few people in the theater.) We saw The Fabelmans, which we both liked very much. Michelle Williams especially is wonderful as the mother in this autobiographical Spielberg film. Then we had my birthday Indian food and champagne.

On Saturday, we saw the Matisse exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We were both glad we were masked, as it was a little more crowded than we expected. It was blustery so we walked back to the train and New Jersey, and then went to William Heritage Winery, where we enjoyed our members’ seasonal flight.

Last night was the first night of Hanukkah. In the afternoon, I participated in Black Bough’s Zoom Winter Extravaganza. It was wonderful, but I was there longer than expected, so I will make latkes tonight—after the January 6 committee’s hearing.
Also—I loved the Netflix show 1899. It’s a Merril show–by the same people who created the German show Dark. You may need to set the captioning (unless you like dubbed shows, which I do not). Do not read spoilers for it.

Smiles of a Winter Dawn

Moon setting in sunrise glow over the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield.

Smiles of a December Dawn

The winter sky is red-suited,
Santa on a flaming chariot,

in almost-light, river spirits dance
and deer leap with a flash of silent white–

if I say leave, the dream goes,
a soul secret–

it is all about perspective,
vast spaces defined in a frame,

within my head, a universe,
and that universe a speck–

see how the moon is merely a smile
beckoning the geese onward?

My message from the Oracle. The photo is from last January, but it was good to see the sun rise today after days of rain and clouds. And I am often aware that my dreams are dreams.

Winter Warmth and Winter Light

***I woke up to quite a surprise this morning. My poetry collection, River Ghosts, is Black Bough Poetry’s December Book of the Month. This is such an honor, and I am beyond thrilled! Black Bough, Matthew MC Smith, and his @TopTweetTuesday have done so much for the poetry community and pushed me to become a better poet. Sarah Connor, whose poetry I have admired very much for years, wrote a very perceptive and lovely review. You can read it here. ***

Monday Morning Musings:

Stark Winter Beauty, a parking lot on a December morning

Winter Warmth and Winter Light

“So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.”
–from “The Shortest Day” by Susan Cooper

Dawn comes late and dusk is early,
the sky is grey, the clouds are surly,
the wind deep-sighs, the squirrels all scurry
to gather nuts in a hurry–

brown leaves rustle, and the weak sun gleams
creating jewels on boughs and streams
glittering rubies anointing the dead, nothing seems
as it was—because the dark enfolds light’s beams

and our dreams that change with passing time
of revolving spheres and the bells that chime–
and so, we don bold red and sparkle bright,
we sing and dance, to spite long night.

Soon the shortest day will come—again—
and then, and then—as we wonder if or when
we’ll feel warmth, see light, a crocus rises from the snow

and soon spring breezes in, and winter must go.

We went to a wedding this past weekend. It was the wedding of the daughter of friends of many years. This is the first event we’ve been to since the pandemic. It was fun to dress up and celebrate with our friends.

I am the river

Monday Morning Musings:

Delaware River with early morning clouds

I am the river

Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river. . .”
Jorge Luis Borges

Step by step, I travel,
the river my guide, an eagle far above
with broad wings outspread, glides out of sight—
I am envious, the music of a thousand shadows
is a whispered song.

We clutch at alluring promises
with unguarded hands, seize the cards,
moon and stars—hopeful–but
we are merely passengers—trust
is a guess, nothing sanctified.

Bread, thick and toasted,
spread with butter and blueberry jam
while the wind bites and the dry air crackles–
I’m surprised by the taste of summer,
sweet and blue.

Now the air
is cinnamon and peppermint,
wax drips from candles,
warm and pliable,
how quickly it becomes cold and stiff.

Azure June days become
December’s violet nights.
Giddy romance turns practical,
but still, your hands, your smile–
which is afterthought, dream or reality?


Another almost-Cadralor from Jane’s Random Words. The start of December has been fitful.
Sunny, then miserable. My husband came down with something VERY suddenly on Friday night. Itchy nose, sneezing, congestion. He took two COVID tests, but both were negative, and he feels better now. The morning is all off–our Ricky is at the vets having his teeth cleaned. I’m hoping that is it. It makes me anxious. I think Ricky and I both like our routines.

We watched The Souvenir, Part II. I liked it, but since my husband was not feeling well and didn’t remember Part I, it didn’t make much sense to him. The director, Joanna Hogg, has a new movie out, so I wanted to finally see this one.

Now that the third and final season of Dead to Me (Netflix) is out, we’re re-watching the first two seasons (already into the second).

Brilliant Things

Monday Morning Musings:

Brilliant Things

Path by Dock Creek and Carpenter’s Hall

“One day is there of the series
Termed “Thanksgiving Day”
Celebrated part at table
Part in memory –“
Emily Dickinson

1.
A whimsical stream
reflecting autumn leaves
and wild turkeys clucking,
cooing, preening their feathers
in early morning light.

2.
The sky is still adjusting,
it suggests peace, then trouble,
ever adaptable, vultures understand
its challenge, a caressing cover
that evaporates over time.

3.
Autumn’s stained-glass light
and long shadows overtake
summer’s dawn choir and rabbits,
the graceful melancholy beauty, an expression
of loss and remembrance.

4.
By the river’s edge
a coyote dashes
on powerful legs, she doesn’t
glance at the irate honking geese–
I’m encircled by tangible wonders.

5.
A Thanksgiving table
our family gathered
with food and wine, telling stories, laughing,
and around us our ghosts smile,
yes, they are with us still.

I used some of Jane’s Random words for this almost Cadralor.
Last week was strange and stressful. It was good to see family at Thanksgiving. Who was able to come kept changing throughout the day.

We saw Every Brilliant Thing at the Arden Theatre in Philadelphia on Saturday. It deals with the painful topics of depression and suicide, but it is not a depressing play. There is humor and joy, and ultimately it asks us to consider the brilliant things of every day. Audience members who agree are given cards with words to call out when during the play, the actor calls out the number. Other audience members were given roles in the play. This is the fourth time the Arden Theatre has presented this play with actor Scott Greer. It’s the first time we’ve seen it, but my husband and I both agreed we’d see it again.