Saturday, July 28, 2018

Falling from the Nest

Mama sparrow flapped and chirped
With great fury
As my husband and I peeked in
on her babies,
Eyes open, feathers formed,
Nearly ready to fly.

The babies squawked at my camera lens.
One fluttered.
Was it fear or anger
At these intruding giants?
He beat his wings
Until launching over the edge of the nest
Onto the pavement
Where he could only overcome
Gravity’s pull by inches.

Oh how Mama raged impotently then.
What could she do against us
Even as my husband
cupped her baby
To set him back in the nest?

I apologized to Mama,
Prayed that my own children
Would fly rather than plummet
in the coming days,
And that I’d have grace to trust
In unfamiliar forces
Which I could mistake as malevolence
Should my fledglings fall.

Sunday, December 03, 2017


For as long as I can remember, my birthday has always required that I take some time to draw away from people, become quiet, and send prayers of gratitude for and toward the woman who gave me life.  I think of her on other days of the year to be sure, but on this day, because we shared it, because it is the day only we share, because she was the mystery of my life, I need the quiet to give thanks, to revere, to wish her well.

It’s not a habit most other people ever understood.  They might claim to understand the need but they could really only understand that it existed and grant acceptance.  They could not begin to conceive of the need for silent connection across whatever the unknown distance was,  the intensity of the drive toward reverence, how wounding the thought of being denied the meditation is.

Over the years the ritual has had different forms as I matured.  It went from childish daydreams, to grieving a loss, to formal prayer, to longing, to wishes for her peace and well-being.  Sometimes it was all at once.  Always, it was wrapped in silence. Usually, in solitude.

I don’t recall which year, but in recent ones, perhaps it was the birthday after I’d been declared cancer-free, I took my period of quiet and sent out the wishes for my birthmother’s health in all manners, for her happiness, and that she’d somehow know I was grateful to her.  The words arose in my spirit, “Don’t you think it’s time you tell her that yourself?” Hhhmm, maybe it was.  But still I waited.

The last two years, I actually invited people into my ritual.  I’d found a local labyrinth and wanted to walk it as my birthday mediation.  The first year I asked a dear friend to join me, one who I knew enjoyed meditative practices and who, for different reasons, had her own need to draw away for quiet reflection.  We walked in silence following the path that turned in and around on itself bringing us close only to separate us greatly within the maze even though we remained a constant number of steps away from each other.  The metaphor for the twists and turns life takes us on as we travel was rich.  My friend and I embraced upon reaching the end then basked in a few more quiet moments before exiting the path.

Last year I asked my daughter to walk it with me.  She’d been through some deep trials and I knew the labyrinth was a place of refuge for her.  She asked if her friend could join us.  The three of us traced the winding labyrinth in silence, each alone with her own thoughts but walking together to the end.  Again we paused and shared hugs at the center of the maze before departing.  There was a sweetness to sharing the walk with young women just beginning their adult journeys.  What I held in my heart, was I had chosen to begin the journey an active search to finally thank my birthmother.  It was indeed time I told her myself rather than sending those thoughts and wishes on the unknown winds. 

What I did not know was a year later the ritual would be altered forever by having the mystery answered, by being welcomed into a space that had always been reserved for me.  And so, on October 12, 2017, forty-nine years after being sent home with a family who could keep me safe and provide what my birth mother could not, I sat at her breakfast table.  In pjs , robes, and slippers we sipped coffee and tea considering what the day ahead would hold.  She and her husband assured me that though they had ideas I was free to decline any or all of them because my comfort and happiness with the day was paramount to them.  I said all their ideas seemed perfectly lovely and I welcomed them.  I told them about my ritual, admitted a sense of unease about abandoning it completely because I still had need for the quiet even though I was sitting before them and able to directly convey my lifelong gratitude for her selfless choice to protect my welfare. There were smiles and comments affirming my need.  We almost moved thoughtlessly into the next topic but I said, “Wait. This is significant.  We need to take a moment to hold this momentous occasion with reverence.  I’ve waited forty-nine years to say thank you to your face.”  Then looking directly into the eyes of the woman who carried me and sent me to my family without ever being able to see or touch me, and with tears in my own eyes, I mouthed, “Thank you.”

Later that day, in between activities, we took a drive out to Presque Isle, a peaceful forested park with paths along Lake Superior.  We had about a half hour before dinner reservations and I had not yet had my quiet.  I asked if we could take the time we had to do a walking meditation on the path here.  It was a straighter path than the labyrinth, the curves more gentle.  My birthmother, her husband, and I walked along in silence breathing in the lake breeze, watching sunlight filter through trees, feeling the crunch of leaves underfoot, hearing the lap of waves on the shore. At the end, we embraced.  I felt the contentment of knowing my gratitude had been both given and received, of a mystery being resolved, of being received with gladness like a new child.

I believe the ritual will remain for as many years as I do. Though it is transformed from one of mystery to one of wonder, it will always carry gratitude.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017


Although shortest in duration, transition is the most intense stage of labor occurring just before the second stage when the baby is pushed down the birth canal to be born.

This wait
Has far exceeded
Any normal gestation
By decades.

This labor
Has been protracted,
A rhythmic
Annual contraction
When imagination
In attempt to grasp
What reality
May be.

I pace
My home,
My yard,
The driveway.
My husband
Has finished painting
A long ignored room,
Has cleaned,
Has sent away

It won’t be long now,
Just an hour until
She calls from the hotel.
I breathe,
Hang sheets on the washline,
Paint my toes.

Nervous tension
As unseen forces
Propel me
Through time
The car bearing
The woman
Who carried
But never held me
Pulls into the driveway
And she hears

My first cry.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Catching up...

So it's been a while and the visit with Lecram is what it took to get me back to blogging.  What, you may ask, kept me away in the first place?

Well, I was walking to blogland carrying a basket full of goodies one day when a hungry wolf jumped out of the bushes and....hhmm, no. Let's try again.

Well, when we left off back in November 2015, I was working in a couple urban elementary school libraries one of which had been unceremoniously moved to a stage at the end of a gymnasium.  They did however bring back full-time librarians so I was no longer working alone.  Sadly, The librarian I was assigned to share the stagebrary with was...hhmm...shall we say, less than competent or committed to providing good service.  It was the straw that broke the camel's back for me and I began looking for new employment closer to home.

A job I had applied for and not gotten a year earlier was posted again and though I was annoyed with the poor communication from them the year before I got over myself and applied once again.  I was called for an interview and admittedly carried the attitude of Morgan Freeman's character Red in The Shawshank Redemption when he goes before the parole board the final time. I reasoned they took a pass on me when I behaved well so what did I have to lose but if they hired me no one could say they didn't know what they were getting into with me. I was a bit stunned to be hired.

So just over a year ago I bid farewell to my beloved teachers and students in the urban elementary schools.  I was given a truly loving send off and shed copious amounts of tears. I traded an hour commute in heavy highway traffic for a fifteen minute commute on rural roads, full time-pay that netted me less than Calypso earned scrubbing toilets in a hotel, for part-time pay that was netting me a good bit more, and a filthy stagebrary where I had a broken laptop and basketballs flew in and knocked books off shelves for a gleaming new library with lots of natural light and all the tools I actually needed to do my job.  If I hadn't taken the job you'd have to wonder if one too many basketballs made contact with my noggin while I shelved books.

There was this little problem of aching for my elementary kids and friends back at the old school.  So I decided I'd go back as a volunteer once a month to read to classes. Though lots of people questioned the sanity of that choice it's been a good thing.  I get my little kid fix, I get to see the friends I made, I provide a respite from some of the nonsense they all deal with, and then I go home.  In other words, I get all the fun without all the bullshit that weighed me down when I was an employee there.  At the same time, with a little distance I see how horribly dysfunctional the whole situation is there and when I start lamenting how bored I can get in my current position a visit gives me enough of a dose of the mess to remember how fortunate I am to be in a better situation.

So that's the professional chapter.

The personal chapter has been.....interesting.  Last summer Logophile came to visit and we took Philadelphia and turned it upside down.  We had a fantastic time! Then after twenty years, I finally got my entire crew back to my beloved Trinidad.  I had been back a couple times in between there but it had been twenty years for my girls and my son had only been there in utero. It was a rich and wonderful time for us all to share together with each other and with the friends there who are more like family.

There has been the strange space of learning to parent adult children as they navigate their own joys and dilemmas, both big and small. There is the equally strange space of watching our own parents age, decline, and losing Mr. Lime's mother. The shifting shapes of family as some ties strengthen and others weaken for a variety of reasons makes for an interesting range of different perspectives on old events and new directions.

The strangest space of all has been the effect of finally deciding it's time to search for my birthmother,  the process of finding her, and the psychedelic warp of perspective that has offered.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Da Count-Lime and Lecram and Lisa in Da House

I haven't posted in well over a year, in blog years that's a small eternity.  About a month ago, Susie asked me to come back.  Life has been a little bit of a wild ride since then, 99% good stuff but it's kept me hopping.  Then I got a call from my old pal Lecram Sinun saying he was going to be traveling across the continent to my coast and asking if I might have some time to get together.  You're damn right I would have some time!

First Jimmy and Janita met for drinks at a local jazz club. They have an 11 year history and Janita was glad to meet her good pal Jimmy who cheered her on  and even named her when she was first born.  Eleven years, how the hell is that even possible?  Lecram's comment about meeting bloggy buddies is each one comes across as themselves on their blogs and then when we meet they are just more obviously...themselves.  I have to say that holds true for me too.  Meeting Lecram was no different.  No surprises in his persona, just meeting a beloved old pal face-to-face for the first time.  It's great fun to finally be able to look someone in the eye, see mannerisms, hear a voice, and feel it all come together to finally flesh out a person fully and to realize it all adds up to everything you expected and more.  Starting out with a level of comfort and familiarity makes it so easy to dive in without any real hesitance.  Lecram is one of those deeply reflective people too so reading his blog for the past decade or more and having a strong sense of who he is made the ability to connect in person even easier.  The conversation flowed effortlessly, so much so I didn't realize we'd all be cleaned up around at the end of the evening and were those patrons...the ones who close a place down....until he pointed it out.

The next morning Lisa and Lecram returned for a tour of local cemeteries, because I am just that exciting a host and my hometown is just that thrilling a place that people are dying to come here. (Ba-dum-DUM)  Truth be told, Lecram and I share a certain affection for the peace and the craftsmanship and history cemeteries contain.  Not a lot of people dig that so of course we had to celebrate our strange attraction to them with a little tour. Here he was greeting the town's founding fathers.

Lisa graciously provided paparazzi services upon request when we found a setting we liked either in the graveyards or between the three we visited. Yes, I took them to three different cemeteries in town.  Listen, if you want to go throw your money away at the casino, be my guest.  Lecram and I prefer dead people.  Don't judge.

We got Lisa in on the action when we found a nice big headstone to use as a tripod....either that or it was one of the zombies we found lurking among the graves. (insert maniacal cackle here). She was such a great sport not only about bringing Lecram out to my neck of the woods but in staging some of our shots and she was a lovely person to meet as well, insightful, interesting, and open to wherever the ride took us.

 After a bit of discussion we agreed we share a preference for the very old, very simple headstones as opposed to the obelisks which seem to be demanding we pay attention to them.  I think they seem to say, "I'm dead but still potent!" Which seems a silly and futile argument when you're worm food.

On the way back to the car I asked if they were familiar with the PA phenomenon that is Wawa?  They were not so I hipped them to it.  After having a yummy bit to eat at a far groovier local mom and pop establishment Wawa was anti-climactic at best but they could put a marker on their travelogue bingo card.  It's an important PA ritual.  Next visit (and I hope there is a next one, both here and on the west coast) we'll cover other important PA sites and rituals like fire hall wedding receptions.

From there we hit the grocery store to get ingredients for a curry fest at Chez Lime.  After years of trading food posts and some private exchanges about food which got us both sweating like we'd just eaten a hot curry it was obvious this had to happen. Lecram prepared a Malay Hot Chili Curry #1 with four, count 'em, four serrano peppers. (Four is hot, but 5 or six is local hot) I was anxious to enjoy my first Malay curry. Lecram is an awesome cook and excellent guide to a new recipe and way of making a different kind of curry. It was a joy to be at his elbow as he showed me all the ways to make this authentic. And man did it smell and taste fabulous. I love me a good Trini or Indian curry.  I make and enjoy a Kenyan curry (more later).  I like Thai curry. I was delighted to taste Lecram's Malay curry, which was wonderfully distinctive from all the rest.

While Hot Chili Curry #1 sat on a back burner doing its thing it was time for me to get started on my pot. I made Kenyan curried venison because Lecram expressed a great longing for venison.  I actually learned this dish from a Kenyan friend about 20 years ago after she expressed a great longing for venison and I shared some of our bounty with her. I also fried up some roti and made Kenyan ugali to go with the stew.  A lovely bottle of Pinot Noir from Lecram complemented it all well.

 Lecram, Lisa, and I filled our bellies but for me at least I felt my heart and soul filling up.  With now adult children working on all different schedules and having their own busy social lives, and my new job (more about that later) often putting me on an opposite shift from Mr. Lime there are darn few family meals here any more and even less frequent are times in the kitchen with people I care about.  This day gave me the joy of sharing cooking time with a dear old friend and making a new friend.  I got to stand at  Lecram's elbow and learn his tips and tricks for making a proper Malay curry. I had a chance to prepare a couple dishes for some hungry pals who were anxious to enjoy them.  We all sat together trading stories, sipping wine, sopping up two different curry gravies with fresh roti and ugali.  (Oh and if there is any doubt, Malay curry and Kenyan curry go reeeeeeally well together even though the flavor profiles are noticeably different.  Super yum!) Sharing this culinary time made me realize how deeply I've missed having appreciative people to cook for and with.  It fed a long felt hunger to spend kitchen time with other people who derive joy from preparing and sharing food together.

Every moment together felt like a special gift to me.  I shared how when I first stumbled across Lecram's blog I felt unworthy to even comment because I was so blown away by his creativity and talent, that when he "noticed" and commented warmly on my blog I felt as if the exalted artist had blessed me with some tiny bit of esteem.  We all had a good chuckle over that. Though I will always have tremendous admiration for Lecram's talent and ability to make things happen and sustain himself as he continues to produce works, over the years we became friends and this time just confirmed that.

Way back up in that picture where Lecram is holding up four fingers there is a plaque that hangs over the door in the background.  It hung over my grandmother's kitchen door and I claimed it when she passed.  It is the girl scout motto, "Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver.  The other, gold."  It was pure joy to finally meet my old friend face to face and to make a new friend in Lisa.  Our time together filled my soul, heart, and belly to bursting! Thank you, Marcel, for letting me know you'd be passing this way.  Thank you, Lisa, for being so graciously willing to chauffeur and stage shots.

As we chatted we spoke of the power of blogging to help us form connections all over the world and the greater depth and intimacy if promoted when compared to Facebook or Twitter.  It's been a long absence and I don't know how regularly I'll post here but it's good to be back.  I'm hoping to keep up with the old friends who also seem to miss the circles we had here, and who knows what new friends wait to be made...Well, there are some stories from 3-D life, we'll see if they make the blog...


Sunday, November 01, 2015

Long Time No Post...

This poor blog has been languishing, so much so that I even failed to marked its 10th anniversary back on October 12.  I gave it to myself as a birthday present a decade ago.  Although I have been largely absent the last couple of months I am still grateful for all the remarkable people I've had a chance to meet as a result and for the countless ideas I've been exposed to and creative opportunities It has brought.

Now, what has been keeping me so insanely busy?  the start of the school year has been horrendous.  Basically, I walked in the first day of school to find the 10,000 volume library had been packed up over the summer and unceremoniously dumped on the stage for me to put in order....with no help.  Oh, and the stage still had all the curricular materials from two past reading programs on it as well.  And it was filthy.  And my desk had been thrown away.  And my book carts had been given away.  My computer and printer were missing.  And the locked closet of my book repair supplies had been pillaged.  I was, to understate it in the most extreme way, not pleased.  To put it bluntly, I told the principal in so many words that this was the third library in two years I was told to reassemble from scratch by myself and to date this was the biggest damn clusterfuck I had been handed yet, so congratulations on attaining that distinction.  Yes, I actually looked him in the eye and said those words.  There were other words after that wherein I went on the detail the level of clusterfuckedness and what was necessary to uncluster the massive fuckedness of the situation.  This all fell on deaf ears.  It was a time of unparalleled joy and delight if you enjoy being subjected to the whims of incompetent leadership. 

Since that time I have put to order the utter chaos that was over 200 boxes of books plus shelves.  I tracked down and reclaimed my carts, computer, and printer.  In order to get through the weeks of heavy lifting I took my yoga mat to school.  I lifted boxes and books until my back said enough for one day then I rolled out my mat and did yoga until it felt better and the homicidal urges passed....since zero assistance in the process was provided.

We have resumed circulation which means I finally have the chance to enjoy the kids again and all the hilarious conversations they provide.  Here then are some of the early conversations this year, which have amused me and reminded me why exactly I endure the stupidity of this school district.


2nd grader: Miz Lime, are you gonna dye your hair?
Me: Nope, I like it the way it is.
2nd grader: Did you dye it to get it all grey and white?
Me:(laughing) No, I let time do it for me.
2nd grader: That's a lot of work?
Me: Indeed it is.


When checking out books I ask for a student's last name so I can find them in the system. For kindergarteners it's a crapshoot as to whether or not they know their last name. When one wee one told me her first name I asked, "what is your last name?" She stared at me blankly so I rephrased my question, " What comes after Agatha*?" She brightened and announced proudly, "Sleepyhead!"

And then there was the boy who answered my question of what comes after Hobart* with, "Hey, white boy."


Fridays with kindergarten are telling...

Conversation #1

Librarian: What month is it?
Kindergartener: TUESDAY!!!

Sweet mother of Bill Murray, if it were Tuesday all month I would drive a truck with a groundhog in it over a cliff!

Conversation #2

Girl comes up to my desk with no book. I ask where her book is and the librarian says no books for her because she was throwing them.
Me: uh-oh, was that a good choice?
Her: (shrugging)
Me: Are you learning to make good choices in kindergarten?
Her: (with great sincerity) Nooooo....
Me:(stifling giggles) You're not?
Her: No
Me: Do you think you will be able to learn to make good choices?
Her: (enthusiastically) Yes!
Me: Oh good! What's one good choice you think you could learn to make?
Her: 7? 8?
Me: (confused puppy head cock)

Conversation #3

Boy comes to me crying that someone hurt his feelings.
Me: what did he say that hurt your feelings?
Him: He said I was stupid.
Me: Well I can understand that doesn't feel good. Let me ask you, do YOU think you are stupid?
Him: (shaking head no)
Me: Do you think you are a smart boy?
Him: (nodding yes)
Me: Good. I think you're a smart boy too. (He smiles) Do you know what smart boys do?
Him: No
Me: They remember that they are smart and let comments about being stupid fly away from them. Do you think you can do that, smart boy?
Him: (big grin) Yes!

Conversation #4

Me:(as little dude steps up to check his book out) What's your name, friend?
Him:(using his fingers to pinch his mouth into fish lips) mmffmm fffmmmp...
Me: (chuckling) Can we try that again without fish lips?
Him: (still pinching and now shaking head no)
Me:(mumbling as I'm making fish lips) Can you understand ME now?
Him:(grinning ear to ear and nodding emphatically)
Me: (laughing because OF COURSE this backfired ) Well, fish can't have library books because they get the books all wet.
Kid behind fish lips boy: His name is Charlie!*


And then there are the parents...

I had a young teacher tell me a student's parents inform her she needs to be patient with their kid because...wait for it......they aren't.
Idiots: holding teachers to higher expectations of self-control than they hold themselves.


If you want to feel like a rock star push a cart full of books into kindergarten.
If you want to feel like a priest hand out the little paper positive behavior reward to 1st grade. As they sat along the wall while I handed them out a few kids reverentially placed one hand palm up inside the other as if they were ready to receive Eucharist while I went down the line . I thought a couple would cross themselves.

Is library a religious experience? I think so and I try to make it a sanctuary. Does that make me the Priestess of the Library?


I love it when the tough guys love books.

Tough guy Fifth grader: Miz Lime, where's the poetry books?
Me: These three shelves.
Friend of tough guy: Where's the good books, Miz Lime?
Me:(opening my mouth to speak my standard response)
Tough guy: (totally stealing my line) Man, they're ALL good books in here!
Me: Amen, brother! You beat me to it. Rock on!


And there's always the challenge of figuring out which book a kid wants...

2nd grader: Can I have the book with the little white guy? My classmate had it last time.
Me: Tell me more about the book so I can figure out which one you mean.
Him: He has yellow on him and goes up to the sky.

He wanted......

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.  Proud to say I nailed it.


And finally, there was the administrator who studied the posters I put up on the backs of the bookshelves facing out into the gym from the stagebrary (that's what I call it now that it's located on the stage at one end of the gymnasium...because OF COURSE that's where the library belongs.

Her: (with great irritation) Who put up those posters?
Me: (with pride) I did!
Her: (chagrined) Oh.

*names changed to protect student privacy

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Wild Berries

      As a child I’d walk with Nana and Grampop
on the trails behind the cabin.
In the heat of summer
we’d find the bushes
laden with tart wild berries.
We collected them as we walked,
one for the basket,
one, two for my mouth.
Dappled sunlight fell on our faces and hands
as Nana exhorted me to restraint
during the harvest,
“We have sugar and cream
back in the cabin.”

As a child I’d watch Mom-mom
stir the boiling elderberries
Pop-pop had gathered for jam.
I watched him squeeze the cooled berries 
through the cheesecloth,
the purple-black juice tracing
the veins on his forearms.
I once asked to have some berries
before they went in the pot,
“No, girl. They’ll give you a bellyache.
They need the heat.”

As a woman I moved to the woods
with my husband and children.
I remembered the wild berries,
searched my property
and found none.
I called the berries in the wilderness.
They did not answer.

There were sour years,
Years of pain and quarrel,
Years of heat and squeezing,
Years when I so desperately wished
I could speak with my grandparents,
the men and women who
had survived Depression and War
and broken promises.
I wanted
to sit at their feet and ask,
“Where is the sweetness?”

In want of quiet and healing
I returned to the wooded paths,
inhaled the piney air,
let the brook water wash my toes,
dried my feet on the moss,
listened to the birdsong,
warmed my face in the leaf-filtered sunlight.
When my heart was at rest
the berries were waiting for me.
They whispered,
“We have come.
We are here,
and free.”