Each Morning 24 February 2021

I’m working on a poem and struggling because of the tight form. So far:   Each morning I make my bed and check it off my list. But still I feel my feet of lead, losing them there in the thick grey mist. In my heart I long to be the one that was called and should be me   and check it off my list. Tasks pile up, run off the page I dare not shirk or yet desist For time will come–I’ll have the mage, and all I dare to dream outside where I can be redeemed. But still I feel my feet of lead They drag behind me, force my stay…  
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Finding Home 29 January 2021

I love to read other people’s stories. To live in another’s set of shoes and experience their life and their world is just as fantastic a journey as any good fiction. Nancy Parker’s Finding Home A Memoir is a story that took me back in time to Maroa, Illinois beginning in 1938 when Nancy was born.

Her life growing up was not easy, but neither was it completely bereft. Surrounded by family, sometimes loving, sometimes not, Nancy learned to take care of herself out of necessity: “I rode my bike to pieces. There were no bike shops in town and no money for repairs even if there had been. I had to learn to repair my own bike.” (Parker, 27) It was war time and with rationing, people had to make do.

There were good times on her grandparents’ farm: “The barn cats and I watched as Grandpa got his one-legged stool situated, sat down, put the milk bucket under the cow’s udder, put his head against her flank and began to milk. I loved the rhythm of the milk splashing into the bucket.” (Parker, 37)

But there were very hard things in her life as well, including her mother’s death, her father’s alcoholism, and the abuse from her older brother. Eventually, Nancy had to assume the responsibilities of care in the home: “…it became my job to get the younger two up, dressed, fed, and off to school.” (Parker, 70) After her dad’s sudden death, she and her two younger siblings had to go and live with an aunt and uncle on their farm near town. They were treated like servants.

While the memoir shares both good and terrible situations, we see Nancy’s strength as she grows into adulthood, having a career in teaching and also as an advocate for seniors among other things. And she ends up finding home, and the courage to tell her story.

If you’d like to read Nancy’s story, you can contact her here: nkp@myfairpoint.net

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Where I’m Going 18 January 2021

When it feels like I’m in a room with too many doors and I can’t seem to open any of them, I ask myself, “Where am I going? What do I need?”

I need a list, a decision, a quiet mountain meadow, a long ride on my horse and time with my kids. I need a vision of what should be, a map, a guide, a guarantee, an angel, and a winning number. I need a publisher, a wide-open place, kindness, and some dark chocolate.

I need solutions, faith, and long-uttered prayers to be answered. I need space and light and joy and love and grace. I need to lace up my boots and head out into whatever is supposed to be next. I need to root for the underdog that is me. Risking and gambling and finding that path I’m supposed to be on, but somehow lost the way.

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Where I’ve Been 11 January 2021

Looking back to January 2020 and through the last year, it’s been rough in turn, but with beautiful explosions of wild flowers from high vistas. I’ve felt the hike on last year’s trail in the souls of my feet, in the ache of the heavy pack I carried at times, and in my thirst parched throat when water was scarce. I started the year on a high, running both a 5k and a 10k in one weekend with speed I thought was behind me, but more importantly with two people I love and hold dear.

It made me realize that I’ve put up a green screen or really nice Zoom background in front of my daily life, blocking out what I didn’t want to see. But on I went, wearing more and more of that thick cushion off the bottom of my boots and patching the holes again and again. I don’t like negative progress on mountain trails and I sure don’t like it in my life, but I kept at it. I panted and felt the beat of my heart as it worked harder to help me pick up each foot and put it down again.

For days, sometimes, the trail leveled off with only a few rocks to climb over or some gravel to remove from my boots. Feeling a cool breeze whenever the path paralleled a creek or flowing river, but then suddenly facing a steep climb I knew I never make it up. Do I stop and turn back? Do I stop and stay on the rocky ledge? Or do I move on, up that steep slope until I hit the top and view of the whole world before me.

Isn’t this the kind of decision we all face?

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Wild Bells 30 December 2020

My sister posted this poem, written 150 years ago by Alfred Lord Tennyson. I was thinking that I long for those wild bells to ring out grief, sadness, depression, and bad attitude. To ring out name-calling and bullying and politics. To ring out us versus them. To ring in that frosty light in the wild sky. Ring in softly falling snow. Ring in joy and peace and hearty laughter. Ring in love and light. To ring in all that is good and kind and humble and just. And for me, to ring in courage.

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

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The best Christmas gift

I love this whole piece about love and family.

jpburgess

The front of the 1965 Christmas card with all seven Prescott children. Cathy would have just celebrated her first birthday on December 7. The front of the 1965 Christmas card with all seven Prescott children. Cathy would have just celebrated her first birthday on December 7.

I wrote a bit about those old family Christmas cards a few days ago in “The birthday season.” I had most of the cards my mom and dad made during the years they had together when we were children, until my mom died in 1966.

I couldn’t put my hands on two of them: 1964 and 1965. 1964 was the year the last of the Prescott siblings was born, Cathy, on December 7. I think my sister Sally has a copy and I will get my hands on it soon!

But Sally did find the one from 1965 and looking at it now, I was reflecting on its simplicity.

Like the rest of the series begun in 1956 when George was born, it has each of our…

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There’s Room for One More — jpburgess

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.  All went to their own towns to be registered.  Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called […]

There’s Room for One More — jpburgess
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Celebrating Cathy 7 December 2020

Today we remember and celebrate our sister, Cathy.

She was my little sister, but even though she was younger, she was my rock and my protector. We could look at each other and burst out laughing, unable to stop. She never failed to show up when I didn’t even know I needed her.

She brought birthday cakes covered in bright frosting and took delight in seeing it smeared all over my kids’ faces. She loved and encouraged them both and would be so proud of who they’ve become.

Up for some adventure? Cathy was always ready for a road trip or a movie or a walk around a mountain lake. She road around the corn field with me when I ran the grain cart. She stayed with me when she had other places she wanted to be.

She brought joy, frustration, mirth, music, healing, and love from her heart. We miss you today on your birthday and we celebrate you.

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Contemplating Rabbits 27 November 2020

Photo by Steve Smith on Unsplash

I find myself contemplating rabbits again. Each morning when I go out to feed, there are four adult rabbits that scamper out from under the small porch. I’m fairly certain that they meet each day, knowing my schedule, and discuss how they will handle my entrance into their world.

One day they will just peer out from under the boards at me, each in a different spot. One might be next to one of my flower tubs, one under the bottom step, and the other two on either side at the edges.

Another day, I’ll step out and all four will clearly have just emerged from under that porch as they each have a spot in the yard not far from the safety of “underneath.” And they stare at me.

But this particular day, I think they decided I needed some shaking up. I emerged from the garage door and there they were in various places in the yard. They didn’t seem to notice me. But when I hit the end of the sidewalk, all rabbit hell broke loose. Each one lit off in a different direction hitting full rabbit speed in seconds. I spooked and they each ran a circle around me, like maybe they even drew some ancient symbol as they careened around me from all sides.

Who knows what they’ll do tomorrow.

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Vigilance 20 November 2020

She hadn’t noticed them there, under the small deck. 

Walking out to feed the horses, the rosy glow of the cloud bellies drew the phone out of her jeans pocket to snap the photo. Good Morning make it a great day. Sending the Tweet with the photo and tucking the phone away, she was steps from the hay.

But the “Mornin’ boys” stuck in her throat at the first stab of pain at her ankle. And by then, it was too late.

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