What happened to the 70 degree days?

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:55 pm by admin

Last week I checked the seven day weather forecast for this week. It said the days were going to slowly warm up into the 70’s by Thursday. No such luck. We’ve been at or just below freezing over night and we hit only 50 degrees on Tuesday, the warmest day of the week.

This past weekend the fish started to become active, sunning themselves in the shallow end of the pond and looking for food, but since Monday they’ve barely made an appearance. The water temperature is hovering in the upper 30’s to lower 40’s, so I can’t begin to feed them.

I do know that spring is coming though. The daffodils and crocuses have begun to poke their head up, and today I noticed green on the lilac bushes where there used to be only buds.

Spring can’t get here soon enough.



Another blog?

Posted in Poetry, Touch: The Journal of Healing at 11:33 pm by admin

The software I use to create and edit Touch: The Journal of Healing allows for RSS feed in a limited capacity. One of the page types that does provide RSS is a blog which can be incorporated with the journal or as a separate site. I’m experimenting with the software to see if I can taylor it to duplicate the journal appearance, but so far, my success is limited. One advantage a blog would offer is the ability to post announcements about the journal without affecting the integrity of the journal pages. Another page type that provides the RSS feed is a photo album theme. I don’t think this is the way I want to go because the journal is literature not photography and the graphics used in the journal will be imbedded within the poem and prose pages. At this point I don’t think a separate album page would benefit the journal in any way.

I’ve made a few changes in the appearance of the journal that will be uploaded once I’ve tested each page for functionality and appearance. I’ve found that some browsers are able to enlarge the page if a user needs to see text larger while others aren’t able to do this. As a result, I’ve increased the font size a few points. I’ve also made minor text changes on several of the pages where I found the language didn’t flow as well as I intended it to flow. I’ve received feedback from a few folks so far and it has been positive. I want to get all the bugs worked out well before the first issue is published, and I remain hopeful that folks will advise me of any difficulties they experience.



We’re up and running! Call for submissions.

Posted in Poetry, Touch: The Journal of Healing at 11:45 pm by admin

It’s now official.

Touch: The Journal of Healing seeks poetry, prose, and graphics submissions for its debut issue intended for publication May/June 2009.  Within our pages you will read works from people who have committed their lives to the vocation of caring by touching the lives of their fellow human beings, be they health care professionals, family members, spouses, lovers, partners, or friends, and from patients themselves. Please visit our journal site and send us your poetry, prose and artwork for consideration.



New Project: Online Poetry Journal

Posted in Poetry, Recipes & Cooking at 11:15 pm by admin

I have no excuse for allowing over two months to pass without a single blog entry. Actually, there are many excuses I could use, but none would excuse me from taking a mere ten minutes each day to reflect on something.

I’ve been busy with life. The Poets org Poetry Forum, my private poetry forum and my part-time job in the ER have taken up a good amount of time. I’ve also been cooking large Sunday dinners that consist of pot roasts, roasted chickens, pork roasts, all with with roasted vegetables and pints and pints of gravy; large pots of pasta served with home made sauce; and marinated london broils have kept us pretty well fed through each week. I’ve also been baking different sourdough based breads on Saturdays and/or Thursdays. I use my starter Herman to seed the sponge the morning before I bake which allows it to develop its flavor, and then I begin the process of choosing and assembling the ingredients and mixing the dough around noon the following day. I usually have it in the oven by 4:00 PM which gives it time to bake and cool for our dinner time of 7:00 PM.

I’ve baked batards, braided loaves, loaves in pans, and I’ve risen loaves in round baskets and bowls lined with floured linen towels. When Daniel arrives home from work, the whole house smells like fresh baked bread. I’ve been using a larger percentage of whole wheat flour than I have in the past, and I add any combination of ground nuts, dried fruits, honey, molasses, barley malt syrup, butter or olive oil, herbs and spices, rolled or steel cut oats, corn meal, and different salts and sugars. They’ve all turned out good, but some have been spectacular. The best loaves I’ve made are the Italian herbed, nutted whole wheat, and one loaf of rolled out cinnamon raisin bread which gave it a swirl pattern when sliced with brown sugar baked in. Only one batch didn’t rise well, and I think that was because I forgot I had added the salt and added salt again, but it tasted great. Those loaves I either sliced and toasted with a brushing of olive oil, chopped garlic, Italian herbs and parmesan cheese, sort of like pesto, or I toasted the slices and then we dipped them in small bowls of the oil, herb, garlic, cheese mixture.

All this cooking and baking has allowed me a creative outlet while being cooped up in the house over the winter, and my private poetry forum just finished a 10:10 day poem challenge where collectively we wrote 87 poems between the ten of us who participated which also provided me with a creative outlet. But what’s really got me excited is Daniel and I are in the process of starting an online Poetry Journal.

After experimenting with the software and making many mistakes (my own mistakes that is), but learning along the way, we’ve got it to the point where we’re just about ready to put it online and send out our calls for submissions. The journal reflects a unique combination of our philosophies and we’ve put our Touch on every aspect of its construction. No templates were used so every component you will see we’ve created down to the photographs we’ve taken that are used as background and enhancements.

I’ll post more on the journal once it’s up and running.

That’s it for today.



Bread Therapy inspired by Julia Child & Danielle Forestier

Posted in Recipes & Cooking, Thoughts and Reflections at 10:40 pm by admin

I checked back here this morning in search of my Sweet & Spicy Crock pot Pork Roast recipe, a recipe I created on the fly and couldn’t locate in my cookbook or on my computer. Luckily I posted it here back in September. My brother is down from New York visiting for the holidays and I wanted to make a traditional German New Years Day pork dinner, but with a twist. I’m not a big fan of sauerkraut so the pork roast with sauerkraut and caraway is out.

In the past I’ve baked a ham and served it with coleslaw, baked beans, and cornbread, which as far as I’m concerned covers me for the pig and cabbage combination traditional dinner. I checked with Mom about New Years Day dinner and she hadn’t made any plans so I offered to cook and bring the meal to her house.

You might be wondering what the heck New Years Day, pigs, and cabbage have to do with bread therapy, Julia, and Danielle. When I clicked on the link to my blog, I was surprised to find that I haven’t posted anything here in seven weeks. I thought it’s about time I posted something, so here goes.

For the past twenty-eight years, I’ve baked sourdough bread, usually beginning in the fall until the end of the following spring, and sometimes even in the heat of July and August if I really had a “hankerin’ fer it”. I have my own sourdough starter culture, fondly named Herman. I figured Herman is a living being, or more accurately living beings, who has/have brought much joy to my life by way of my taste buds and stomach, and so my sourdough culture deserved a name. I chose Herman after a favorite patient of mine from when I began my nursing career. Herman, the man, was very particular about things and had to have things just right and in a certain order, and he had to be in control of any situation he was in in order for him to exist in this world. He was plump with a bubbly personality, and he had a complexion that reminded me of bread dough. All of his characteristics aptly describe sourdough starter and so Herman, the starter, was born. Herman, the man, was quite amused when I told him of his namesake. Both Hermans died within a month of each other nearly twenty years ago, Herman, the man, followed by Herman, the culture. Herman the man, died from a heart attack, Herman the culture, from an invasion by red mold, something fatal to sourdough starter. I had to start all over to create a new sourdough starter culture, and it took several years before the second generation Herman was up to snuff by way of taste. The spring after both Hermans died, Herman, the man’s wife, became a patient of mine. I told her my little story and also that I named a favorite goldfish I bought that spring after her husband, who swam in my pond and greeted me each morning, the goldfish not the man. She was touched by the gesture. Ok, back to bread therapy.

When Julia Child’s PBS series “Baking with Julia” aired eleven years ago, I was a faithful viewer, and if I didn’t watch the programs when they aired, I taped them to view later in the week. I don’t think I missed a single episode, and I know I actually watched the programs that involved baking anything with yeast when they aired. To this day I vividly remember the episode on french bread. The guest baker, Danielle Forestier, demonstrated the preparation and baking of a traditional french batard, a bread that contains the same amount of dough as a baguette, 12 oz., but isn’t rolled out quite as long. It looks similar though smaller to a loaf of Italian bread you can pick up in any supermarket, but the appearance is where the similarities end. If you’re interested you can view the program via a streaming video by way of your search engine.

During the year “Baking with Julia” aired, and for several years after, I experimented with different ingredients and methods, often combining the ingredients and methods from different episodes or introducing something I picked up somewhere else and from my Mom. Mom is a wonderful baker, who never measures anything, it’s all done by feel. One combination that I found to be a success is Pesto bread. It is very simple to make and requires only a few ingredients. Bread can often be unforgiving if something isn’t done quite right during the preparation, handling, and baking process. This bread I have found is quite forgiving.

During the past two weeks I’ve been baking bread. For me, baking bread is as therapeutic to the soul as it is to the taste buds when eating it. When my brother called several weeks ago, he asked me to bake some bread for Christmas because he doesn’t fancy store bought bread. That evening, I took Herman out of the ‘frig and fed him. Feeding sourdough consists of stirring warm water and flour into the starter and allowing it to become active in a warm place if it’s been stored in the ‘frig. I place the container on the top of the ‘frig over night. By the next morning it’s bubbling and twice the size it was the night before. Here’s my recipe for Sourdough Pesto Bread using a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. It will make two batards.

Sourdough Pesto Bread


1/2 cup active starter
3/4 cup warm water
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tblsp. honey
2 1/2 – 3 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 heaping tblsp. pesto base
1 tblsp. extra virgin olive oil


1. Combine in a nonmetal bowl the starter, 1/2 cup warm water, yeast, and honey. Cover with plastic wrap leaving an edge open and place in a warm place over night to develop the dough sponge.

2. Add remaining water, olive oil, pesto base, and flour (reserving 1/2 cup) to the mixer bowl.

3. Stir the sponge and add it to the mixer bowl. It will be sticky so scrape as much as you can into the mixer bowl.

4. Start the mixer on the slowest speed to combine the ingredients until you can’t tell the difference between the sponge and the added ingredients. Add the remaining flour slowly as needed during the next minute or so until the dough begins to take form. The dough should be firm but not dry. If needed you can add 1 tblsp of water at a time to the dough. Mix the dough for about 8 minutes on the slowest speed.

5. Remove the dough from the mixer, form into a ball, and place in an oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it completely with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place. Allow to double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

5. Punch the dough down and remove it from the bowl to a floured board. Cut it in half and form each half into a ball. Cover with a floured towel and allow it to rest for 5 minutes.

6. Form each ball into a batard. Watch the video noted above if you don’t know how to do this. Place the batards on a floured Baker’s Couche, cover with a floured towel and allow it to rise in a warm place for about an hour. It should be just about double in size. Placed Baker’s Tiles and a pan for water in the oven. As the dough nears completion add water to the pan and preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.

7. Turn the dough onto a Baker’s Peel and slash the top with a razor blade or sharp knife. Quickly slide the dough into the oven on the hot tiles and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. The internal temperature of the loaves should be 200 degrees fahrenheit when done.

8. Remove the loaves from the oven when done and allow to cool on a rack.

Serve with extra virgin olive oil to which you’ve added your favorite Italian herbs and freshly grated parmesan cheese, and enjoy, Daniel did!



Tilt Press

Posted in Poetry, Thoughts and Reflections at 10:12 am by admin

I’d like to give a shout out to Tilt Press.
Here’s their catalog page.

Rachel Mallino is a casual member of my poetry forum who has been busier than a one armed paper hanger lately. Rachel and her co-editor Nicole Cartwright Denison have just made their selection for their most recent chapbook Handle This Bludgeon and Run Me Through by Andrew Terhune.

Give the site a visit and order a copy of this latest poetry chapbook.



In Time

Posted in Poetry, Thoughts and Reflections at 11:11 pm by admin

A Pantoum – of sorts

In Time
for Madelyn
by O.P.W. Fredericks

For the times they are a-changin’.
–Bob Dylan

When the last has stood to gentle time
and when gentle winds soothe tired bone,
In that comfort hour I’ll know it’s mine,
In that comfort hour my life I’ll own.

For the times they are a-changin’.

And when gentle winds soothe tired bone
I’ll have given all to one in love.
In that comfort hour my life I’ll own.
In that comfort hour I’ll shine above.

For the times they are a-changin’.

I’ll have given all to one in love.
By example I have lived my life.
In that comfort hour I’ll shine above
In that comfort hour there’s no more strife.

For the times they are a-changin’.

By example I have lived my life,
in that comfort hour I’ll know it’s mine.
In that comfort hour there’s no more strife
when the last has stood to gentle time.

For the times they are a-changin’.


Happy Anniversary Daniel

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:57 pm by admin

Today is our anniversary. We spent a quiet day together, and I have been reflecting on how much my life has changed for the better since Daniel came into it. I have never felt such peace nor experienced so deep a love, and I have never known an inner strength as unshakable as I have in Daniel.

I love you Daniel,



Autumn approaches

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:27 pm by admin

There was a tang in the air this morning, that first hint of autumn when the sugar maple in the back yard begins to lose its leaves. It’s always the first to signal the change of season. The house was cold this morning, I didn’t think to close the windows last night, and I woke this morning with the down comforter over top of me. I must have pulled it up sometime over night. The white oak has started to drop its acorns. I can hear them bounce off the ground and the picnic table, and some even roll across the front porch floor. The squirrels are busy eating their fill as well as burying the darn things in the flower pots and boxes around the porch. This winter, after I’ve brought the plants indoors, I’ll have a few oak trees sprouting among the basil and lemon verbena. The koi and gold fish are also ravenous, finishing their food in less than half the time as normal. All of these things all my signals that the change is coming.

I harvested the yellow peppers today, all two of them. One was perfect, the other half rotted on the side concealed by the iris it was growing against. I tried to cut away the bad part, but the rot permeated the entire thing. I also brought in two perfect tomatoes. There’s six more that are trying to ripen before the first nip of frost kisses them good morning. I hope they make it.



Pork & Creamed Mushroom Gravy

Posted in Recipes & Cooking at 9:05 pm by admin

Today I ran out of ideas for dinner, so I went through my recipes to look for a meal that uses Campbell’s soup. I found a recipe in my cooking folder that I received from my Campbell’s email subscription. It’s very easy and it tastes wonderful. I’ve fiddled with it a little, as I always do, to give it a little bit of a kick.


1/2 lb. frozen green beans
2 carrots peeled and cut into oblong wheels 1/8 inch thick
6 pork cutlets – trimmed
Pam cooking spray
2 cans Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can water
1/4 tsp. dried ground sage leaves
1/4 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary
3-4 good dashes Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup dry basmati rice cooked as directed on package


1. Spray frying pan with Pam. Heat pan under medium flame and cook carrots 3 minutes. Turn and add green beans. Cover and cook an additional 5 minutes or until tender crisp. Remove to microwave safe bowl.

2. Brown pork cutlets in pan drippings from vegetables 4 minutes each side until juices run clear. Remove. While cutlets are cooking mix remaining ingredients except rice in a bowl.

3. Pour soup mix into frying pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover an cook for 5 minutes.

4. Return pork cutlets to pan with soup mix and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Warm vegetables in microwave.

5. Serve pork cutlets aside vegetables rice. Use cream mushroom gravy to adorn rice and cutlets.



Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 8:18 pm by admin

This is going to be brief. Tonight we’re having an online discussion on enjambment and line breaks. It’s interesting to see how different poets use these techniques differently to enhance stressed words and emphasize their work. The participation is a little lighter this evening, but the discussion is very informative.



Gizzie’s freedom

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:30 pm by admin

Gizzie experienced her first real day of freedom today. Neither Daniel or I realized how little we have seen of her the past two weeks. Chester’s presence required her to live in the basement and I’m sure she considered it a banishment. It’s wonderful though just how forgiving animals can be. Humans should take note. Today was the first day since Chester left that she seemed at ease and she spent hours out on the front porch sleeping on Daniel’s rocker-glider. When I called her in for dinner, it was obvious she knew Chester was gone because she didn’t wait at the front door and listen for him. She just sauntered into the kitchen and ate her dinner in peace. She spent this evening moving from the back of Daniel’s La-z-Boy to my side to the front porch, and back to Daniel’s La-z-Boy. She made this round trip several times. It’s nice to have her back, but I still miss Chester terribly.



The house is quiet.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:51 pm by admin

I realized today how many things had changed over the past two weeks, how much our routines were modified to accommodate and work with a new dog, how quiet the house was, and how much I miss Chester. I spoke on the phone at length yesterday afternoon with my friend Larina about Chester. I told her about what I was feeling, and that after crying my eyes out and making a fool of myself in front of the man who came to take him away, I realized Daniel and I had made the right decision. Could it have worked out, perhaps? Was it possible that at some moment after he and Gizzie learned to cohabitate, he would decide to not listen just one time and attack her? Was it possible if he attacked her he would kill her? Could he have turned on Daniel or myself, without what we would interpret as provocation? Was there something in his past that caused him to interpret a word, as sound, a tonal inflection, a body stance as a threat? The answer to these questions is yes.

It is so hard to know exactly what triggered his aggression. Daniel and I talked at length Saturday night. Our greatest fear was for Gizzie. While he could inflict severe injuries on us, we do not believe he could kill us, but Gizzie is another story. There are several things that nag at me. Whenever I told Chester to sit so that I could put on and remove the soft collar for his leash, he would cower. I wonder if he associated this word with a punishment of some kind from his past, or if a punishment followed that word. I was the one who most often reprimanded and rewarded him for his behavior. Reprimands consisted of no, a stern no, or if he wouldn’t listen, a time out in his cage. His rewards consisted of praise, petting, a belly rub, and for the second week he was here, a small treat, usually a piece of his kibble, as I was advised to do by an animal behaviorist I had consulted about he and Gizzie. I was the one who walked him in the yard most often and corrected his behavior about the koi pond, testing the fence with his teeth, and rolling in the excrement of wild animals. I was the one who most often told him to move away from the basement door when he observed or growled at the cat. Was this all just too much for him? Had he finally had enough of it?

I was told by the animal behaviorist that dogs often try to establish their dominance by positioning themselves on furniture at a level at least equal to if not higher than the humans. He was allowed on the sofa, and he often positioned himself on the back of the sofa or on the arm of Daniel’s La-z-Boy recliner. In talking with the animal behaviorist and the woman I adopted him from, I related the training he was going through. They both told me that Chester identified me as the alpha male of the pack. Were these aggressive incidents his challenge to that position?

I wrote that Chester became aggressive towards me on Saturday. I had just finished taking a shower. I used the same soap, shampoo, and deodorant that I always use, and I was dressed in clothing he had seen me dressed in before. I had walked into the living room to ask Daniel when he wanted to eat dinner. I remember that I had put my hands on my hips when I was talking to Daniel. Was this the trigger that set him to growl and begin the cascade? I don’t think we’ll ever know whether it was a combination of things or one isolated incident, but the bottom line is that we both no longer felt safe in the house with him. In addition to our fear for Gizzie’s life, we were also very concerned for other people who might visit, be they friends, family, or strangers. Because his aggression escalated over the course of those two days, we just couldn’t take the chance.

I called the Vet’s office this afternoon to inquire about Chester. I wanted to be sure he was OK and that they were not going to put him down. When I had talked to the woman about Chester on Saturday, she told me that just the day before a farmer had inquired about a dog for his farm. She said that if Chester didn’t work out for us, perhaps it would work with the farmer, but she had to go visit the farm first and talk to him about what he was looking for. This was all before Chester turned on Daniel. This afternoon I was reassured that they were going to visit the farm, talk to the farmer and determine if Chester might work out for him. I told the woman I had adopted him from that I do not want him put down. She told me that they would do their best for him.

I sit here this evening thinking about this little guy, sleeping in a metal cage when just 3 nights ago he slept beside me on a down comforter, and how happy he was hunting moles in the yard. I think about how fast his little stump of a tail wagged when he ate the food I cooked for him, and I remember most his gentle eyes looking up at me pleading, “Please Daddy, pet me some more.”

God I miss him.



A failed adoption

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:53 pm by admin

For the past two weeks Chester has helped me fill an empty space I’ve had in my heart for five months. I had to have my other dog put to sleep this past April for what I believe was a brain tumor. She was my companion for fourteen and a half years, and to this day I continue to miss her. She took to Daniel immediately and loved him as much as she loved me. Daniel’s grief for her loss was more intense than mine, as I cried rarely and minimally until the week before we adopted Chester, then I sobbed for days. Chester was a rescue and a young adult male Jack Russell Terrier of between two and three years.

Since last night, Chester’s behavior and demeanor deteriorated to the point of trying to attack from within his cage. This occurred when Daniel had returned him to his cage after his second walk this morning. As Daniel closed the door, Chester lunged at the door, snarling, barking, and bearing his teeth. It was obvious he was trying to harm Daniel. I called the Vets office where we adopted him to come to take him away. It was no longer safe to have him in the house. It was four and a half hours before someone was able to come for him.

Chester showed great promise. He was adjusting well to his new home, and learning what his new boundaries were; e.g. not diving into my koi pond to catch a fish, not peeing in the house – he only did this once, coming when called, and lastly to not antagonize the cat who was living in the basement until we could figure out how to introduce them properly. Three days before he attached me, Chester saw his first deer in the back yard. Since that time his demeanor was off, yet he was still loving and, and full of young dog energy. He had become more resistant to commands to come, or sit, or the word no, and most importantly, to move away from the basement door and not growl at Gizzie the cat.

Since I was a toddler, I have shared my life with nine other dogs – one who had a litter of ten puppies – five cats, six pet ducks, one rabbit, five guinea pigs, five mallard ducklings who I hatched from their eggs when their mother had been killed by a car, one Canadian goose who was raised from one day old – she still had her egg tooth, two mice, and many baby birds who had fallen out of their nests. Chester was my tenth dog. Until Chester, I have never been afraid of a dog, nor have I ever had the slightest worry or fear that one of my dogs would turn on me and attack.

Today my hand is a little more swollen than last night, and the evidence of a bruise is making itself known. It is oozing serum and I am keeping it bandaged. It has become more tender than last night, and it now throbs and stings. There is no sign of infection, and Chester was up on all his inoculations. As a result of the wound, typing is a little tough. The mouse is putting pressure on the wound, but I want to keep the muscles moving to speed the reabsorption of the blood that is there.



Should I have seen this coming? Dog bite.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:40 pm by admin

How do I tell you about this? As some of you know, I have written frequently about Chester, a dog we adopted a little over two weeks ago on August 30.

This evening Chester attacked me, biting me in the palm of my right hand. We had just finished our walk when I started to wipe his feet of mud from the yard, something I have done dozens of times over the past two weeks. Without warning, he lunged and bit my hand leaving two puncture wounds. I spoke with the woman we adopted him from, and she advised me to allow him a time out in his cage while we go to the hospital. If he seemed OK when we got home we could let him out, if not he should remain in the cage ’til morning, only being allowed out to potty. I spent several hours in the emergency department and after returning home, he seemed to be the same old lovable Chester. Daniel took him out for a walk and then returned him to the cage. I remained in another room with the door closed.

An hour later we checked on him and he seemed fine. He was allowed out of his cage with a leash attached. I sat on the couch and he jumped up beside me and pawed me to pet him. I spent a few minutes petting him on his back, behind his ears, and on his belly when he offered it to me. An hour later he again became very aggressive towards me without provocation. Chester was lying on one end of the sofa and I was at sitting at the other end watching the weather about hurricane Ike when he began to approach me slowly with a look in his eyes I have never seen before, one step at a time, pausing between steps. I had a pointer-beagle mix before who moved like this when he was stalking prey. Chester’s head and ears were lowered. He was not growling or bearing his teeth. I immediately averted my eyes and froze. He stopped right next to me staring at me, his body stiff, muscles tense. I softly called to Daniel to take him away from me. He was returned to his cage and it was covered. Daniel has been the one to take him out for his walks, but Daniel has told me that Chester is becoming more distant. Each time he has been taken out of his cage I have gone to another room. He remains there now.



Voices on voice

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:47 pm by admin

Last evening I participated in a lively discussion online between members of my poetry forum. One of the things we discussed, there were many topics – some of which will not be repeated outside of that chat room, was poetic voice.

My dear friend Larina, editor of the online poetry journal The Externalist, led the discussion. I’ve always had difficulty putting into words my definition of poetic voice. It’s sort of like the well debated issue of, “Is it pornography or art, you know it when you see it,” or in this case read it or hear it. I recognize the voice of a poem, and I can now often hear the forum member author of a poem without seeing their name.


Among the explanations, definitions, and descriptions of poetic voice were the following comments:

A focus on sound or emotion.

Unique variations that occur consistently within a poets’ work that make that poet “stand out”, a combination of theme, style, technique, and tone.

A poet may find it difficult to recognize their own voice.

A poet often discovers their voice when they listen to someone else read their work

Personal philosophy comes into play, whether we view the universe as having any static components. Poetry is inherently a dynamic art, and style, a momentary vista in a kaleidoscope of emotion.

In life, if you let your perspective dilate, you can see that fine thread of continuity that is ever changing and yet unbroken. For those whom writing is inextricably intertwined with that thread, they are poets and have this kind of voice.

Voice is a personal style of a poet.

Each poet has a different concept of voice, what it is or not, what will inspire it, who has or doesn’t have it.

Voice is a combination of things that make poetry unique to a poet.

It is the totality of the poet.

It’s something really kind of ephemeral and hard to categorize.

There are many poetic voices, confessional, lyricist, narrative, experimental/avant-garde, langpo, accessible, difficult, etc., etc., etc.


So use your unique voice and write a poem.



The heavens shine brighter tonight

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:47 pm by admin




Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:49 pm by admin

I’ve been thinking a lot about tomorrow. I know I’m not alone when I say I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the first jet struck the first of the twin towers. I remember it was a Tuesday. I was performing a procedure on a patient. It took all of my will power to stay focused on the procedure, but I could feel a numbness overtaking me. When the second plane struck, I was with another patient, performing the same procedure. It was a hectic day at work, and though I was grieving inside, and numb, and angry, and scared, I could not allow my feelings to interfere with the care of the patients. That evening when I went home, I watched the television until 4 AM and went to bed. I remember watching Peter Jennings on ABC, and I remember Diane Sawyer walking through New York as she picked up pieces of paper that had been blown out of one of the towers. I woke on the 12th at 6:30 AM and immediately turned the TV back on and watched until I had to leave for work. I remember the skies that day, devoid of jets, except the few fighter jets I watched fly overhead. All commercial aircraft were grounded.

For the next two weeks I sat glued to the TV whenever I could, wherever I could. I kept KWY, a Philadelphia news radio station, tuned in on the car radio. In the evenings while I had the TV on, I went to the major news networks web sites and read about all the victims. I looked at each face and read all of their biographies and the stories that were written about them. Then I stopped. I couldn’t watch it any more.

I was numb for months, but slowly the numbness wore off to be replaced by a deep seated, controlled rage. I wanted revenge! I watched our country prepare for war. I listened to horrible words spoken by many people about striking back, knowing that many of the words were twisting the facts, but I didn’t care, I wanted blood.

For the next two years, I supported our troops, “adopting” several individuals and platoons, and I spent thousands of dollars on supplies and postage to mail them each care packages on a monthly basis. I converted a room in my home to “the troops room” where I stored the supplies and shipping materials, and I found myself on a first name basis with the post mistress at my local post office. I wrote hundred of letters to each of my troops and learned of their birthdays, anniversaries, and when their unborn babies were expected to arrive. I even wrote to some of their wives.

Then I realized my country had gone crazy, and I stopped.



Rainy days are soup days

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:44 pm by admin

This morning the rain started around 9:00. There were two sections to the storm, and the first wave provided a continuous rain, heavy at times until just after noon. I spent the morning watching the weather radar on my computer to time my walks with Chester. In between walks, I washed eight large leaves of lettuce, wrapped them in a linen towel and put them in the frig to dry, and spent time on the two poetry forums. Instead of using the leftover pork roast for the bean soup, I defrosted leftover ham from two months ago. It was baked with ginger ale, cloves, and honey, and I’ve used ham cooked with this recipe before for different soups. It always comes out very well.

At noon, I added the ham after I diced it, stirred the soup, added a cup of water and left it alone. The rain has stopped and there was a large area on the weather radar devoid of rain so I drove over to the O & A Farms produce stand to pick up cucumbers, bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, and red onions to add to the lettuce for a salad to go with the bean soup. On the way home, I stopped at Genuardi’s Market and bought a wonderful loaf of an artisan bread to toast for garlic bread. When I got home, I prepped the vegetables I was going to add to the salad and put them in the frig for later.

I spent a few hours on the two poetry forums and then at 5:00 this afternoon I took Chester out for a walk and worked on the pond. While we were out, I measured the water level in a bucket that I sat on the sidewalk before the rain started. We received 2 inches of rain, that’s 6 inches since Saturday. As the minutes ticked by, the second wave of rain continued to dissipate, and finally disappeared. Daniel had told me he would probably be late this evening because of a project he was working on for a client, so started to take the things I needed out of the frig to finish making dinner.

At 5:30 PM Daniel called to say he was on his way home. I rushed through making the salad and sliced the bread, drizzled it with olive oil and then sprinkled it with garlic powder. Daniel arrived home just as I was putting the garlic bread in the toaster oven so I offered him his bowl of salad to start. The soup was gently boiling in the crock pot so I ladled out two bowls and let them cool a bit while the garlic bread was toasting. I usually just have bread and butter with soup but the garlic added a special something to the meal. I’ll have to do it again.



Beans, beans, are good for your heart …

Posted in Recipes & Cooking, Thoughts and Reflections at 10:31 pm by admin

I called the Vet’s office today and talked to the woman I had spoken with when we found Chester. I explained the situation of Chester and Gizzie, the progress he has made in his behavior, and how his is settling in. She listened to everything I said then told me she’d like to consult with an animal behaviorist she works with to help the animals she rescues adapt to their new homes. She told me once she had some information, she’d call me back. Before we hung up, she said there was a second person she was going to call as well. I remain hopeful that we can make his adoption work.

Just after noon, I assembled the ingredients for my bean soup. I began to soak the beans this past Saturday, just as Hanna began to dump her version of rain on us. I’ll include the recipe below. In the past, I’ve soaked dried beans for a few hours in a large sauce pan and then brought them to a boil, then reduced the heat and allowed them to simmer for about 3 hours before I assemble the ingredients. The trouble with dried beans is that they remain crunchy after cooking in the crock pot for up to 12 hours. It isn’t until the second or third day that they’ve softened. I’ve used canned beans, but they literally fall apart in the soup and there’s a lot of waste when I rinse the beans until the water runs clear before I use them. I rinse them because I can’t stand the smell when I open the cans and it also helps to minimize the associated aftereffects.

Bean soup is a favorite of mine, right up there with split pea and lentil. This time I used four different dried beans, kidney, pinto, navy, and black. I usually use whatever is on hand, but I selected these varieties when I went shopping because of the unique taste and characteristics of each. I want to see how they’ll taste combined. During the first 24 hours I rinsed the beans and changed the water three times. After that, I’ve done this twice a day. I believe this will help with the aforementioned aftereffects and it will help them to soften. On a side note, if I didn’t know better I’d swear Chester has eaten beans every day since we brought him home.

3 day Bean Soup


1/2 cup each – dried kidney, pinto, navy, and black beans – soaked 2 days
1 – large onion cut into small wedges
2 – carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 – stalks celery cut into 1/2 inch pieces – include the leaves, they have the best flavor
1 – large can diced or peeled tomatoes with juice or 2 1/2 lb. tomatoes diced
2 – bay leaves
2 tsp. – fresh ground sage
1 tsp. – fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. – fresh ground lemon pepper
1 tblsp. – fresh ground sea salt
1 tblsp. – McCormick’s Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp – dried chopped rosemary
1 tsp. – ground garlic
2 tsp. – dried chopped garlic
3 hefty dashes of Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce
1/2 tsp – Old Bay Seasoning
1 tsp – dried basil
2 cups – cooked diced pork or ham
3-4 cups – water – added as needed to keep the beans submerged.


1 – 5 or 6 qt. crock pot

Start in the afternoon.

Assemble all ingredients except the meat in the crock pot and turn on high until the soup boils, about 3 hours. Reduce the heat to low for 3 hours. Alternate settings between high and low 3 hours each, except over night leave crock pot on low. DON’T LIFT THE LID TO CHECK! – YOU’LL LOSE A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF HEAT AND WATER VAPOR.

Only lift the lid to add water as needed to keep the beans submerged.

The next morning, (obviously lift the lid) stir the ingredients and turn crock pot on high the remainder of the day until serving.

6 hours before serving, add the meat and stir again.

Serving Suggestions:

Prepare your favorite garden salad and select your favorite dressing.

Get yourself a nice loaf of crusty bread. Slice bread into 1 inch thick pieces. Drizzle with olive oil or spread with butter. Sprinkle with garlic powder and place in toaster oven until the garlic bubbles and the bread begins to brown.

Serve the soup steaming hot with your salad and garlic bread.




A proper introduction

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 9:33 pm by admin

After a week of forced separation, and after much discussion and contemplation, Daniel and I decided to introduce our two four-footed companions to each other today. BIG MISTAKE! While I took Chester outside for a walk, Daniel brought Gizzie, the cat (nicknamed Gizmo like the Mogwai from the movie Gremlins, but not after the Mogwai; or Mozilla similar to Godzilla, but not after Godzilla; or Mo Mo; or Mo dill a, emphasis on the first syllable which is held the longest, or … Ok, you get the picture) up from the basement and put her in her cat bed on top of the liquor cabinet in the dining room. “On the liquor cabinet in the dining room?” you ask. Because of the layout of the house, she is able to view us when we’re in the living room, dining room, and kitchen from this vantage point, and that’s how she wants it. What Gizzie wants Gizzie gets, she’s a cat!

When Chester and I entered the house, Chester knew immediately that the cat was near. Daniel stood in front of the cabinet petting Gizzie while Chester sniffed about with intent. Gizzie watched Chester with intent from an altitude of four feet. Try as he may, Chester could not locate her, and his search took on a fervent pitch. I picked him up and showed him where she was from about five feet away. It’s a good thing I chose this distance and had a firm grasp on his collar. I have never witnessed such fast reflexes. He immediately attempted to launch from my chest towards the cat. Gizzie hissed. Chester barked and whined. Gizzie hissed some more. After a few moments I put Chester on the floor while I held on to his leash. As if on a pogo stick, Chester launched himself into the air, intent on latching onto Gizzie. Gizzie peered down at him and with each leap launched controlled swipes towards his face.

Chester realized there was a chair next to the cabinet and made it up onto the seat before I was able to grab him. Had I not done this, he would have been at the cat in an instant. I moved the chair away from the cabinet and placed Chester back on the floor. He continued his feverish leaps into the air while Gizzie continued her swipes near his snout, alternating her hisses with growls. This continued for another five minutes. At four minutes, Chester began to tire and his altitude lessened with each leap. As he neared the point of collapse, I picked him up and took him out into the yard to cool down. He headed straight for the stream at the pond and immersed himself in it, lapping up water as he moved through the water iris. His thirst finally sated, he climbed out and came to me exhausted. I carried him to the porch and dried him off, thinking the encounter had drawn to a conclusion. Not so.

I kept him on the leash as we entered the house again, hoping he would retire to the couch, but prepared if not. Not! He headed straight for the cabinet and cat, and launched himself into the air with greater determination than before. Gizzie, recognizing the seriousness of his intent, increased her pitch and volume, and began to connect with great accuracy across Chester’s snout, but she did not draw blood. I allowed this to continue for another two minutes, and when the first sign that Chester’s launches weakened, I took him away into the living room, with him barking all the way. Gizzie immediately launched herself into the air and landed on the floor ten feet away at the foot of the stairs leading to the second floor. She disappeared up the stairs in an instant. Chester tried to pursue her, but I had a firm hold on his leash. I immediately took him outside to calm him down. Again!

When I returned, Daniel had closed the door at the foot of the stairs, allowing Gizzie time to recover in a safe environment. Chester sniffed around and after a few minutes determined Gizzie was not near. He returned to the couch and collapsed, falling fast asleep in less than a minute.

After a while, Daniel and I discussed what to do, and whether I should call the Vets office where we adopted him to take him back. This was very upsetting to me and I have remained nearly silent the remainder of this evening. I simply don’t know what to do. My heart is aching at the thought of losing this little guy, who has become so dear to me, while at the same time thinking of Gizzie and her sentence to the basement at no fault of her own. Chester has made tremendous progress in his behavior and he has become comfortable here. He is no longer on the alert at every new sound, and he doesn’t feel the need to follow either Daniel or I at our heels whenever we leave the room, at least for a minute or so. Late this evening I found tiny scabs in the fur on Chester’s snout. At first I thought they were fleas, which shouldn’t be there because of his flea collar. I realized that Gizzie had indeed connected, but again she was very restrained. We took a chance to see if they, or he could get it our of their/his system(s). It failed.

I’m going to call the Vet tomorrow to seek advice on improving the chances of getting these two to coexist without antagonism or the fear of bloodshed.



Hanna, you disappointed me, but the pork roast was great!

Posted in Recipes & Cooking, Thoughts and Reflections at 10:05 pm by admin

I prepared for Hanna and her wrath today by draining the pond of about 800 gallons of water, cleaning out the rain gutters and down spouts of leaves, sticks, and walnuts deposited there by squirrels, and by checking the foundation of the house several times during the storm. It was all for naught. When the rain had stopped, I had to top off the pond with the garden hose, there was no deluge to overtax the gutters and down spouts, and the foundation held. The estimate for our area was 3 – 4 inches over the course of 8 – 9 hours. We did get a smidgen of water in the basement, really just a damp spot just inside the bilco doors, (like those that would lead into a storm cellar). We could have done with twice the rain we received. We haven’t had any measurable rain in nearly a month.

Just before the rain arrived, I put together the pork roast in the crock pot. What a treat. It was moist, tender, and just on the sweet side, with just a touch of fire. I modified the recipe I mentioned yesterday, as I always do, and boy-oh-boy am I glad I did. The ingredients make a wonderful spicy-sweet compote that is attractive and goes well served over or beside the meat. With the pork roast I made potato pancakes from a Panni box mix, and french cut green beans. For dessert we had a pint of sliced strawberries that I added 2 teaspoons of sugar to and allowed them to marinate for several hours over Hostess cake cups with fresh whipped cream, Hershey’s syrup, and Daniel put coconut on his serving.

Sweet & Spicy Crock pot Pork Roast

1 – 3 lb. pork roast
1 – can crushed pineapple
1 – c. chopped dried cranberries
1 – tsp. ground sea salt
1/2 – tsp. fresh ground tricolor peppercorns
4 – good dashes Texas Pete Hot Sauce (used 2 if you want a mild tang)
1/4 – tsp. crushed rosemary
1 – tsp. McCormick’s Italian Seasoning
2 – tblsp. soy sauce
1 – tsp. garlic powder
1 – tsp. dried chopped garlic
2 – tsp. dried onion flakes
2 – tblsp. dried parsley flakes
1/2 – tsp. freshly ground sage
1 – tblsp. Mrs. Dash

Place all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for 7 hours. Remove roast from pot and allow to stand 15 minutes before cutting. Serve compote over meat slices.

Give this recipe a try. I think you’ll enjoy it.



Meat Run ahead of Hurricane Hanna

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:45 pm by admin

I went shopping today at the local Giant Food Store to take advantage of a sale on meat. Tomorrow we’re expecting the arrival of Hanna the hurricane and I thought a crock pot meal would be a good idea. I want to try out a new recipe I received from a subscription email for pork roast. Hopefully the power won’t go out or I’m screwed, LOL. I can always cook it on the gas stove in my big ol’ cast iron dutch oven or one of my stock pots, but the crock pot really does a nice job on pork loin. I’m not one of those folks who makes a panic food run for milk, bread, butter and eggs whenever there’s a forecast of bad weather, but soup, stew, or crock pot goes with rain. I think tomorrow qualifies as a rainy day, they’re predicting up to 7 inches for us. What do folks do with all that butter anyway? You only need so much for scrambled eggs.

Giant is offering center cut pork loin roasts, buy one get one free, and I selected two of these roasts at just under 3 lb. each. While I was in the meat department, I found another bargain, gorgeous 1 1/2 inch thick beef loin boneless sirloin steaks, also buy one get one free. These steaks were in the display meat case where the butchers work. They were freshly cut which allowed me to get a good look at them. Both the roasts and steaks were nicely trimmed of fat. I also stocked up on lunch meat and cheese, and since there’s rain forecast for later next week I bought a few bags of dried beans; navy, kidney, pinto and black. I figure I’ll be in the mood for some good bean soup for the next rain event. I’ll use the last of the leftover pork roast for that, and it will be the first opportunity I’ll have to use a few bay leaves from the bay tree we bought two months ago.

At the end of next week, I’m going to grill one of those steaks and fry up some onions and crimini mushrooms I bought today as well. We’re going to eat well for the next seven days, that’s for sure.

If the crock pot dinner turns out Ok, I’ll post the recipe tomorrow.



Poetry conversation – poetic voice.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:58 pm by admin

This evening I am participating in a conversation with fellow poets online in a real time chat session. Gotta love this technology. We’re discussing a new project in the works, and as someone said in last weeks chat session, “Getting poets to collaborate … is like herding cats,” to which there was a reply, “You can only herd cats with a can of tuna.” I wonder if that’s why I’ve been craving a tuna sandwich lately.

This realtime technology is so helpful and quick when it comes to sharing ideas and discussing various topics. There are a few drawbacks though. When reading words, one is unable to hear inflection. Also, when there are several folks participating, the comments are posted as they are sent, but not necessarily in response to the comments that directly preceded them. This leads to some amusing reading, misunderstanding and confusion. We’ve all had a good chuckle when reading the lines that are posted in the order in which they are posted. It does help when each participant uses a different color.

We have since finished our discussion on the project, and the topic has now changed to “poetic voice”, or a “poets voice”. This is an interesting conversation we’re having right now. According to a good friend of mine, my poetic voice is that of a “narrative lyricist”. This sounds so nice, but I’m not sure I qualify.

It’s 11:55 PM right now and the conversation is still going strong. Lord knows when we’ll finish.

Gotta run, there’s much to read and catch up on since I left to post this.



Two steps forward, one step back

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:49 pm by admin

When we went to look at Chester this past Saturday, I spent a few minutes talking with the veterinarian to learn his views on dog care. He is adamant that dogs should be fed once a day, regardless of their age. I’ve been of the school that after one year of age, a young dog is transitioned to one meal a day over the course of several weeks. This is accomplished by reducing one feeding, and increasing the other. I have always fed my canine and feline companions in the afternoon. This allows them to take care of business right after they eat, again in the evening, and then again the next morning. This has reduced the number of “accidents” dramatically. Of course, if an animal is ill or recovering from surgery I’ve always fed them small meals 4 or 5 times a day. For the dogs, I cooked their food which consisted of rice and barley, ground beef or chicken boiled in bullion for the fist few days, then I’d gradually add cooked vegetables to the mix. Once they stabilize, I begin to add in their kibble.

This morning was the first that Chester wasn’t fed. I took him out into the yard multiple times and then again just before I left the house. I put him in his crate with a rope toy and left, no ceremony involved. When I returned, he was waiting for me quietly, and the cat was howling at the basement door. After taking Chester outside for 10 minutes, I fed them both, Chester in the kitchen and the cat in the basement. I let Chester out again and brought the cat upstairs. Again she looked at the crate and disappeared up the stairs, so I closed the door behind her. Less than a minute later I went out into the yard to find Chester watching the fish intently from the rock border. I called him and he came immediately, then returned to the rocks only to be called away again. We walked around the yard and returned to the porch. I decided to do a little trimming of the burning bushes around the porch that had begun to invade the azaleas, and in doing so, I forgot about Chester. In less than a minute I heard a splash. There was Chester doggy paddling around the pond. I called him from the edge of the pond, but he acted as if I wasn’t there. For all I know, he didn’t hear me, he was that intent on catching a fish. Suddenly he seemed to notice me and after several more laps, he climbed out, just out of my reach. He completely ignored me when I called him to come. As he prepared to jump back in, I used one of the large nets I had made for the fish, and caught me a dog. In trying to herd him towards me, he fell into the settling chamber and swam to the edge by me feet. I helped him out and carried him to the porch. Fortunately there were a few towels draped over the furniture from Monday’s events, and I used them to dry him off. As I was drying him off, a towel fell over his head. He panicked and nipped at my hand through the towel, but he did this very gently. I told him No! and continued to dry him. When I brought him into the house, he acted quite dejected and went into his crate all by himself. I left him there and started to get dinner ready. He joined me in a few minutes, the previous events seemingly forgotten and made up with me. As I continued to prepare dinner, he waited at the top of the stairs for the cat to make an appearance. The basement door was opened and I let him think she was down there. I’m pleased that he did not venture down to the landing or into the basement in search of her.

Two steps forward, one step back.



Settling in

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 9:14 pm by admin

Chester seems more comfortable with his new surroundings. He’s also found his bark, though it’s restrained. He doesn’t carry on as long as the previous dogs who have lived with me, and it seems to take a bit more activity outside to get his attention. He’s also minding better. Today each time he approached the pond I would tell him No!, and he listened. He does test the waters though, approaching the rock border around the pond repeatedly. I think he’s waiting for me to slip up and not say No! just once.

This afternoon while I was preparing dinner, he sat in the kitchen on the edge of the stairs that lead down to the landing for the basement to watch and listen for the cat. I spent the morning correcting him when he ventured to the landing to spy on the cat below through the basement door perforated sheet metal . Hopefully he’s beginning to get the message.

Chester and I spent quite a bit of time outdoors today walking around the yard. In the morning I kept him on the leash because of yesterday’s fishing episode. By the afternoon, there were no more incidents, so I tried it with no leash and he behaved. Several times during the day I put him into his crate, extending the length of time until he was in there for 1 1/2 hours. This is in preparation for when I go to work tomorrow. I’ll be gone from the house for about 5 1/2 hours, and I want him to become accustomed to being in the crate when both Daniel and I are away. When he was safely in the crate, I’d open the basement door to allow the cat to come upstairs. The furthest she ventured was the kitchen. At one point I put Chester outside and carried the cat into the living room. She took one look at the crate, sniffed the air and ran upstairs to the bedroom. I closed the door behind her and left her up there for three hours. When I checked on her, she was sound asleep on the bed.

When Daniel came home from work, Chester greeted him at the back door then turned around and disappeared into the living room. He returned in a few seconds with his baby in his mouth and offered it to Daniel.

I remain hopeful that in the not too distant future, everyone (dog and cat) will settle down and we’ll become one big happy family, if not happy then at least tolerant.



Forum Repairs and one wet dog.

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:45 pm by admin

For most of today Daniel got his wish (to do nothing), but a few minor problems that cropped up on the forum intervened. I took care of the things I could correct, but he pitched in and took over a few of the more time consuming problems. While all of the data transferred from the old forum, there were a few compatibility issues that required us to go in and correct manually. Overall though I am very pleased with the transition, and from what I can tell, the forum seems to be working well for everyone.

Late this morning I began to water the herb garden with the sprinkler attached to the pond pump. Chester was intrigued and began to lap at the water as it sprayed onto the tomatoes and herbs. An hour later when I moved the sprinkler to the lawn, Chester noticed the streams of water landing fifteen feet away and he went berserk, attacking the streams of water and chasing them. At first I found this funny, and I turned my attention to some weeding. Less than five minutes later I turned around to check on him and found our little white dog was gray and dripping clods of mud. He was having a good old time, but I had already cleaned his paws and legs from his activity in the herb garden. I used the garden hose to rinse him off and he decided that was a toy as well. I’m not sure how much he drank, but he was peeing all afternoon.

This evening before dinner, I performed a routine water change on the pond. The fish have learned that feeding time is just around the corner when the pond water level drops. In their anticipation, they begin to churn the water and jump and splash. Chester immediately picked up on this and decided to investigate. Why for the past three days this meant nothing to him I’ll never know. I called Daniel to come outside to watch as I anticipated the inevitable.

For a good ten minutes he hung over the edge of the settling chamber looking down at the fast moving goldfish. He was in kill mode, and he ignored my commands to come. He circled round and round the sides loosening the stones that adorn the water’s edge. I decided that if he falls or jumps in he would have to get himself out. Finally he couldn’t take it any more and he jumped in. When his little body hit the water he realized he couldn’t climb out because the water level was more than a foot below the rocks. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, and I literally fell out. I couldn’t stop laughing. He looked at the two of us with the most pitiful expression and after a minute or so, I decided to come to his rescue. No sooner had I pulled him out, then back he went, this time circling the pond. In less than a minute he was in the pond with the big koi, half swimming half walking on the bird control netting I have over the pond to keep the blue heron out. This continued for another ten minutes. Whenever he reached the rocks he would climb out, run around the pond and jump back in from another vantage point. No matter how I tried to anticipate his moves, I couldn’t catch him. He was having a grand old time. Finally he began to tire, and I was able to get ahold of him. After using two bath towels I had him dry enough to return to the house.

After dinner I took him out for his evening constitutional. The garden hose was still running to fill the pond, and Chester decided it was another opportunity to hone his hunting skills. He ran to the hose and began to bite at the stream of water. In a few seconds he realized the water was landing fifteen feet away on the surface of the pond, and he decided to give chase. He crouched down and sprung into the air intending to catch that water. I don’t know how I did it, but I caught him in mid flight three feet off the ground. Needless to say, he was disappointed. For the remainder of the evening, he went out into the yard on a leash. It’s just about bedtime, and he’s still a little damp so I’ll covered him with the down comforter. He’s fast asleep right now lying next to me on the sofa.



The first bark and a new forum on the same weekend!

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 10:18 pm by admin

Today Chester is more comfortable in the house, but he is also more confident and he is acting very aggressive towards the cat.  We have tried to introduce them safely, but he lunges at her and she hisses and runs.  He instantly overcame his fear of the stairs when he followed her up to the bedroom and then into the basement.  We have not allowed him off the leash in her presence since he came into the house.  Jack Russells, his breed, have been known to kill cats unless they are raised with them. Daniel seems to be taking this all in stride, but I am concerned that one or both of them will end up at the Vets for suturing. We’ll see.

At noon today we took the old poetry forum offline and set up the new forum with the database from the old forum. Daniel started this while I drove to the tax office to pay the annual school tax bill. I was gone longer than I had intended because I fell into a conversation with the tax collector about dogs and koi. She also has a pond. When I returned home, I distinctly heard the muffled sound of a dog’s bark. As I walked through the back door, there was Chester, “baby” in mouth, barking. Then I understood the muffled bark. Chester dropped his baby and barked his little heart out. Daniel told me that Chester watched me drive away from the back of the sofa through the living room window and remained there until I returned. His bark is less shrill than that of my previous dog, but it is a Jack Russell just the same.

After my return, Daniel and I worked on the installation of the new forum and checked each function and option as we fine tuned the operation of the software. I had anticipated this transition would take the better part of a day, but to my surprise and delight I was able to notify the forum members at 4:19 PM that the new forum was up and running. Not including Daniel and myself, all but two of the forum members logged on to check it out. So far so good, but I’m sure a few bugs will creep up over the next few days.

This has been an eventful weekend. Between the forum and the introduction of Chester, we haven’t had a moment to simply breathe. Tomorrow Daniel plans to do nothing, and I can’t fault him for that. He has worked tirelessly over the past week to test the forum software for every conceivable problem, and he has helped me to select the most useful and beneficial packets to allow the members greater freedom and more options when posting their work. I could not have created this poetry forum without his dedication and support, and I am very proud of what we have created together.



Meet Chester

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:43 pm by admin

I am happy to say that at the present time I am in the company of a new canine friend. He is approximately two years old, and he was rescued from the SPCA the day he was going to be euthanized because he had not been adopted in the time allowed.  A woman who works for a veterinarian about 45 minutes from my home started a program in conjunction with the Vet.  In brief, the vet agreed to take in dogs and cats who he and his assistant both felt deserved more time than the SPCA could give them.

The dog’s new name is Chester, and he is of the same breed as the dog I recently lost.  There are many similarities between them because of the breed, but he is a unique little guy who has yet to bark.  For the past four months, he has lived in a cage at the vets office, but they have made every effort to provide him with love, attention, and room to run and play.  His breed is one of the most intelligent there is, and as a result of this many owners who adopt them, “aren’t smart enough to have them,” as the woman at the vets office said.  I have found this to be very true after living with one for fourteen and a half years.  It is probably why he was taken to the SPCA, and is likely the reason he was returned to this vet after several failed adoption attempts.

He is shy, but not timid, and within the first three minutes of walking around the yard, he flushed his first field mouse.  He now has the run of a fenced in yard, which he was a bit intimidated by, and a house.  When he approached the koi pond, he simply waked right in, submerged, surfaced, swam to the edge, climbed out, shook himself off, and continued on his exploration of the yard as if nothing had happened.  He has kept Daniel and myself in his line of sight since we arrived home, and he makes every attempt to be in physical contact with one of us in some way, except when he falls asleep with his head resting on his “baby” – stuffed animal.  Tonight will be the hardest for all of us, as he has new sounds and smells to experience, and he is in a new environment.  He is also afraid of the stairs that lead upstairs to the bedroom.  Hopefully one of us will not be sleeping on the couch with him tonight.  His interaction with the cat was brief, as she disappeared into the basement the moment she saw him.  Thankfully his fear of the stairs prevented him from following her, that and the basement door we closed behind her.  Bringing him here is a lifelong commitment, and I have every intention of making this transition as easy as possible for him, as I do not want to see him go through another rejection.

The information I received from the Vets office we adopted him from was minimal, just the vaccination record from the SPCA. I also had asked for a several day supply of the food he had been eating so as to transition him to his new food. I forgot about that until after we had arrived home. The first thing he did when we brought him into the house was to go to my old dogs toy box. He sorted through the twenty or so toys there and selected seven. The ownership of these seven items has been permanently transferred to Chester and have been relocated to one end of the sofa where he staked a claim. Daniel and I have accepted this quite graciously in view of this period of transition we are all experiencing. He has growled a few times when I have approach him to protect his toys and I have backed away. These moments are brief and quickly forgotten when we go for walks on the leash within the fenced in yard. I am being cautious so as to prevent him from hurting himself. He is still exploring his new world, but with time he (and we) will adjust.

Wish us luck tonight.


Meet Chester





Letting go

Posted in Thoughts and Reflections at 11:33 pm by admin

Since this spring I have mourned the loss of my dog. We shared fourteen and a half years together. During that time many changes occurred in my life, but through it all she was by my side. When Daniel came into my life, she not only accepted him, but embraced him. The bond between them formed almost instantaneously and continued to grow over time. When she died, Daniel’s grief was almost unbearable. He had never had a dog before, and during the months since she passed, he has reflected on the impact she and their bond had on him.

During NaPoWriMo, April 2008, I wrote a poem each day. One of these poems is significant, because it was the last poem I wrote before I realized there was something wrong with her. This poem is probably the only one I will ever write like this.  It is not really my style, and it was written on the evening of April 10, 2008. The poem begins with a strophe written as a quote, but it was written by me. It came to me that evening as a rainstorm was winding down.  I believe it was my subconscious mind telling me to pay attention.  During the next three days my mind was quite unsettled because I began to sense a change in her, and then I knew there was something wrong.  I wrote this particular poem with her snoring quietly beside me.

I’m not quite sure I can explain this poem because it’s a complicated concept for me. The language of the “quote” is quite different from that of the poem, it is more sophisticated.  I’ve thought about this for months, and I believe it was my sub conscience’s way of reaching beyond my years of training and clinical experience, which were blinded by familiarity and denial, to look at the situation in a very basic and simplistic way.  I was intent on writing a poem that evening, and after I wrote the quote the path that the rain flowed became very clear to me.  I simply followed the raindrops movement in my mind.  The poem is about the sound of water, and there is a line in it about the “rush of life” as it relates to the sound of the placental souffle, the sound of blood as it flows through the placenta in a pregnant woman. It is only this evening that I realize this line, “rush of life,” was speaking to me about the passage of time.

For two weeks after her death, my dreams, my thoughts, and my writing all reflected our life together, my guilt about having her put down, and my grief over her loss. During this past week I began to let her go.  I’ve held my grief in, only breaking for fleeting moments, for four and a half months.  I dreamed about her last Friday night, and the next morning I opened her folder on my computer and read all her poems. The tears flowed and it took a long time to get through them all.  I decided to post the few poems that I felt were poignant yet written with at least some degree of clarity and accuracy, and did her memory justice on my poetry forum.  The response I received from the members of the forum was a cross between condolences, and candid critiques of the writing.  Each time someone commented on the thread I reread the poems and cried again.  This has been a very cathartic week for me. I have not yet responded to the comments and critiques so as to allow a little time to pass. The philosophy of the forum is to support the work of each poet in a positive way to improve the work and prepare it for publication, if that is the intent of the poet. I can tell you that all the members have been stellar in their endorsement of this philosophy and their support of my writing about her.

This past Tuesday, I told Daniel I had begun to research dog adoption. I called the shelters and rescue organizations in our area in the hopes that I would find another canine companion. Daniel and I have talked about another dog, but until I was able to let go of my grief, I have not been able to accept this. Today I spoke with Daniel on the phone during his lunch break about a dog and we decided to make an appointment for tomorrow to visit with one particular dog to determine if this will work. I’ll let you all know how it all turns out.


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