Minnie and BowWow’s First Road Trip in the New Truck


BowWow: Jesus H. I feel like I’m riding in a semi, here. A big nut size Bulldog. Hey, smart guy in front, what’s our handle, see any Smokies up there? Give us the word, Good Buddy.

Minnie: Don’t bother him. He’s trying to drive safely in the rain.

BowWow: Yeah, well, they’re up there with their big seats and their console and their coffee and all their shit plugged in. It’s like they put two La-Z-Boys in a giant box with a steering wheel. Meanwhile, we’re back here on this fucking bench.

Minnie: At least we’re not in the back. You know. Where they put the cargo.

BowWow: Cargo? Cargo? What cargo? You can’t really think he bought this truck to haul cargo. Good Lord, Minnie, how much of a sap can you be?

Minnie: Well, she’s doing that Time of the Month Club thing now. You know. Getting those things for homeless women.

BowWow: Oh, okay, I get it. He bought an F150 to haul Tampax around town. What a prince of a guy. Minnie, wait right here while I figure out how to roll the window down and fling myself on to the highway. Where’s a fucking bus when you need one? Hit me with a bus, for God’s sake. Cargo.

Minnie: You need to calm down. Stop being so dramatic. So incendiary. They’re going to start thinking we’re unhappy back here.

BowWow: We ARE unhappy back here.

Minnie: No, they’ll think we’re unhappy and they’ll stop asking us to come along. They’ll just assume we’d rather stay in the kennel.

BowWow: Yeah. Doggy prison. It’s lookin’ good right now. Like a big Va-cay. Dog treats. Romping with the opposites. Beats this rolling nightmare of rain and classical music. Endlessfuckingness. We don’t even know where the fuck we’re going.

Minnie: Just trust them, BowWow. That’s what I do. And it always turns out nice.

Wishing for More Weeds

Jan Wilberg:

That it’s the last day of August reminds me of my mother being completely focused on pulling the weeds. It was what she needed to do but it took me years to understand why.

Originally posted on Red's Wrap:

In the hottest part of the summer

August when our lawn turns brown

Unwatered and drier than sand

My mother pulls weeds

Working her way up one side

And down the other of the gravel driveway

Pulling each dandelion growing along the

Edge of the straw of our lawn and the stones

Inching along, taking every blade

Moving stones to reach the roots

Baking in the unwatered heat

Wishing for more weeds

I see her from the road

Bent over the current weed

Her back and arms browner each day

The seam of the driveway straight and hairless

In the back, my dad is mowing

A sound of enterprise

Our household at work

I join my mother at the edge

Pulling weeds, moving down the line

She says nothing, but repeats my work

Finding the strands left behind

Digging under the stones for the roots

Wishing for more weeds


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The Person Formerly Known as Short Pants

Originally posted on Red's Wrap:

My uncle’s name was J. No, it wasn’t Jay. It was J.

This was a guy who was born in 1911 so it wasn’t like his parents were into some symbol for the person formerly known as Prince thing. Why would anyone name their son a single letter? I would have asked them, my grandparents, if I had ever talked to them but I never did. Oh, they were alive until I was about fifteen and we did visit but we didn’t actually converse. Ask me about my grandfather’s worm bin though. It was massive. He would turn the dirt over with a pitchfork and there would be hundreds of big fat angleworms, the ones that had knuckles they were so big. Ponder on that for a minute.

Anyway, I thought about Uncle J because he was a person not in need of a nickname. There is no diminutive for…

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Mine to Lose

rock towerBesides canoeing the hidden lakes of the Upper Peninsula and my Kindle crack habit, mood management is my primary avocation.

It takes less time than it used to and I’m figuring out why. I’ve learned that I don’t need to let every bad feeling flower. I don’t need to give it a name. I don’t need to stop everything I’m doing, go bring up an extra chair from the basement so it can sit at the table like an equal with my trusted companions: optimism, confidence and sense of well-being.

A bad feeling shouldn’t get the attention it hasn’t earned.

I could feel it lurking yesterday morning. The tiny tumor of incapacity, self-pity. The litany warming up: I am exhausted from my increasing deafness. I am too much trouble to talk to. I might stop caring what people are saying. I am living in my own head too much. I will live the rest of my life as a spectator. Why is the sound of my own voice so off today? I always had a good voice. Now it’s so tinny. Why am I so tinny?

So, as I often do when I’m troubled, I decided to blog about it. But the day got away from me. First I had to have breakfast with my son, then I had to go with my husband to buy his new truck, then I had to rush downtown to a meeting with city officials to plan a visioning session for the homeless system, then I had to go to a ballgame with my husband, then I had to trade texts with my daughter, then I had to laugh so loud the people in the seats in front of us turned around and started laughing, too, even though they didn’t know what about. Why is she so loud, they might have wondered. Because she can’t hear herself. That’s why. Pity.

Later at home I got out my laptop to write that post. That’s nuts, I thought. Why give it a name? Why let it be a bigger thing than it is? Why memorialize my self-pity yet another time?

It can be kept small like a pebble in your pocket, I told myself. You can still reach in and turn it over with your fingers, hold it in your hand like the miserable gift it is and maybe, if you’re lucky, it’ll find its way to the hole in your pocket. You can let it just fall. Pay it no never mind.

You can do that, I said to myself. It’s your pebble after all. Do with it what you will.

Time in a Bottle

Originally posted on Red's Wrap:

That’s my brother on the bed, being a new baby in the afternoon, the afternoon’s sunlight softly sprayed across my parents’ bedspread. He is waking from a nap and because he is their first baby and still new, my mother calls for my father to fetch the camera. It’s the light that she loves. It’s just right. It is the summer of 1939.

A family changes with every new ingredient. So by the time the second or third child comes, the camera gets worn out, the lens starts acting funny and there’s no time to fix it or get a new one. There’s so much to do when there are babies around. But that’s okay. We remember what’s important without pictures.

When I met my brother, I was a baby who napped on that same bed and he was nine. In all of my conscious memory, my brother was fully…

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A Long Time Coming

La JollaI asked so much of her and I never said thank you.

It’s hard to believe looking back like I did today, sorting through hundreds of photos, some so old that they were printed in squares like they were taken with a Brownie camera, so hard to believe that I never took her by the shoulders and looked her in the eye and told her, “I couldn’t have done this without you.”

She was a teenager when we adopted two toddler boys.  The first was a thin delicate boy, gentle and undemanding, but he needed so much to make up for what he’d lost. He was hungry in all ways but hid it so well; he was patient, unassuming, expecting little from us. He never cried. We marveled at that until we figured out what it meant. Still, we rocked him for hours just out of joy for him coming to us.

The second boy came to us after having  laid in his crib day after day looking at the ceiling of the orphanage cabin where he’d lived his whole life next to several adjoining cribs, some of those babies lying on their backs, too, others standing at their crib railing, railing against the boredom, the heat, the people busy with other children and other things. He was silent. Because of his brother, we expected that. But it didn’t last.

He was sick. He threw tantrums. He needed breathing treatments. He took steroids. He was sweaty, sticky all of the time. Holding him was holding a wet, squirming box of heat. Nothing made him happy.

On our first trip to Florida together, he fell and hit his head on a stone bench. This meant that he had stitches on the back of his head in addition to the every four hours breathing treatments, the little machine with the mask and the tubes and the plumes of medicinal air floating up around his ears. Meanwhile there was the other quiet, patient boy needing everything he couldn’t ask for.

It was hell to admit that we were in over our heads. A teenager, then one little boy and then another. But we were. Or we would have been if the teenager hadn’t been the person she was. Able, strong. Not uncomplaining, thank God, because then the story wouldn’t be worth telling. She didn’t complain so much as give us looks that we correctly interpreted as her saying, ‘what did you think this was going to be like?’

She was nobody’s fool.

So now, oh, twenty-five years after the fact, I am saying thank you. I am saying to my daughter what I am maybe just now realizing. I could not have done it without you. We, the two of us, the parents, could not have done it without you. And we might be late, we might have waited a very long time to say this. But we say it anyway.

Thank you.


I’m Berry Well, Thank You, and You?

Jan Wilberg:

There were no berries for us this time but if there had been, it would have been like this.

Originally posted on Red's Wrap:

A key thing about being a regular blogger is sometimes not giving a shit if anyone reads what you write. That’s my number one message tonight.

My second message has to do with blueberries. Specifically, disabusing people of the notion that picking wild blueberries is a glamorous or frivolous endeavor.

In the movies, when glamorous people are picking blueberries, the berries are always plentiful and perfectly ripe. The pickers wear aprons and carry wicker baskets. When they get home, they bake pies with the top crusts carefully woven into designs signifying important ethnic origins like northwestern Danish or ex-urban British.

This is not reality.

Today, my husband and I drove into the School Forest in Grand Marais, Michigan, to pick blueberries. The School Forest is a vast wood with many dirt roads and ski trails and, yes, it’s actually owned by the Grand Marais School. It’s huge and wonderful, also completely…

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