Looking Scary

Today is Halloween and most of the kid’s trick-or-treating activities have already occurred. At the conference the celebration started on Monday with quite a few people with some sort of costume. I wish I was faster on the draw with the phone camera so that I could have captured a couple of people in full costume. One woman was decked out like Elvira, Mistress of the Dark – make-up, wig and dress (though she didn’t bare as much as the real Elvira, then again she didn’t have as much to bare)! There were a couple of very credible zombies too. My coworker reported seeing a vampire complete with blood dripping from his chin which grossed him out and made him feel queasy. The only other celebratory clue that Halloween was eminent was the plethora of candy at all the vendor booths. I managed to score a big York Peppermint Patty which is nearly my favorite candy. There were lots of other inferior candy selections but I limited myself to the dark chocolate and the gummi bears. I packed my bat brooch and matching earrings. The earrings are really heavy, I’m also allergic to the nickle in the wires, and lastly the hole in my left ear has grown closed. I think it is for the best I forego wearing them. A bloody ear might be in style but I refuse to bleed for fashion (my own credo). I also packed a headband with pink bunny ears attached. I’m not sure I’ll wear them today. I’ll let you know if I get up enough nerve to do so. I will be leaving Baltimore tomorrow evening and will be home by Friday (so that I can get back to work)! See you then!

Looking Leftover

I’m pushed to the back
Forgotten, spoiled leftovers
Waiting for trash day

A little unconventional for a haiku so I’m calling it a senyrus (which is a type of haiku that is cynical or darkly humorous). Last month I had dinner at my sons’ house. Son#1 had cooked and as we were trying to fit leftovers into the refrigerator, I started pulling out mystery items. I could tell without opening the containers that they had gone bad. It wasn’t even a situation where there was a small spot of mold or something dried out. No, these leftovers were horribly bad. The lids of the containers were bulging with botulism, near exploding with putrefaction. These were bomb squad level. Several were in those disposable Ziploc plastic containers – I tossed them. There was a partial package of bacon that surprised me. I thought that bacon was so full of preservatives that it was unlikely to rot – I was wrong. I’d never seen tie-dye rainbow bacon before… When everything was said and done, I sent Son#1 outside with the kitchen trash to salvage the half dozen Tupperware bowls and sandwich squares. He managed to scrape them out without tossing his cookies. We put them into the sink to soak in some bleach water. We succeeded in cleaning them out and they were washed and returned to duty. There are days where I think I’m one of those forgotten containers reeking of ptomaine.

Looking to Fly Away

I have printed my ticket and gathered my agenda. I am flying out this weekend for Baltimore, MD. It is not a vacation. I will be traveling with a coworker to present a poster at a National Meeting. I need to travel light to make it easier so I’m trying to pack versatile clothes that will compact without wrinkling. So far I’ve laid out multiple clothing combinations and attempted to sort them by day/activity. I’m wondering if I can manage without a jacket or sweater. In the past the conferences have been in warmer areas – San Antonio, San Diego, Charlotte, Austin, Phoenix. This year it is in Baltimore. It is easier to pack for warm weather… I’m tempted to forgo the stylish clothes and just hang out in jeans. Then my professional conscience whispers that I’m representing my place of employment. Anyway I’ll have the suitcase packed by the time you read this. I will be gone 4 days. I have the poster printed and the extra Velcro in the travel tube. I just hope it doesn’t exceed the size requirements for a carry on!! I will try to visit while I’m at the conference but I can’t promise that I’ll have time, or a secure computer connection. If I don’t visit all of you – rest assured I will be making the rounds as soon as I get back!!

My dearest friends I bid adieu
It pains my heart to part from you
My travel takes me to the East
I’ll be back, I think, at least
While I’m parted from your view
I will miss you all ’tis true!
When I return in four days’ time
I’ll update the blog and post a rhyme
Missing my bed and pillow is tough
And missing your blogs is also rough
But I promise I’ll catch up as soon as can be
I’ll read all past posts I guarantee!
Until I return please be kind and good
And treat each other as I would.

For those with inquiring minds, the above poem is an Epistle poem. This poem is is read aloud as a letter. It may be a direct address; informal or formal in tone, and in any form from rhyming couplets to free verse. The audience can be external or internal to the poet. It is usually used for moral, political or religious discourse. Until I return please “be excellent to each other”!

Looking Through the Crack in the Fence

Our neighborhood has a set of covenants that cover everything from basketball hoops to house color. One of the defining things about our subdivision is that there aren’t any chain link or stockade fences. If you want a fence it can be a split rail fence with green coated wire fencing on the inside. There are strict specifications on what kind of wire and how tall and how big the openings can be. Basically it forces you to be neighborly. You see your neighbors grilling on the patio, the kids playing in the yards, and it makes having a dog a challenge. There is a fence in our neighborhood. It is on the property line between the subdivision and a diesel repair shop/shady operation. This fence is rather decrepit. At one time it was painted red but it is mostly just weathered wood now. There are several sections that have been replaced with a different style of fencing so the thing looks rather haphazard. Mostly it is covered by untamed vines, weeds, and poison ivy that grows on the strip of land between us and them. This repair shop has recently changed hands/owners. Whatever questionable activities had been taking place have ceased. There have been positive changes:
1. The ferocious shepherd mix dog is no longer patrolling the grounds. This is a relief for many people as this dog would regularly slip off and terrorize neighborhood children and pets. I’m hopeful that the new owner will forego the “junkyard dog” method to guard the property.
2. The driveway has had a new deposit of gravel spread to fill in the ruts the size of most compact cars. That should reduce the mosquito population too!
3. There is a new chain link fence around the front of the building. They even put tarps on the inside to act as a wind break, to prevent drifting snow, and to provide a touch of privacy.

(these are not photos of the fence but represent the type of fencing used)
As you can imagine, the changes have brought out the curious. This routinely deserted section of the walking path is now teeming with my neighbors. The fence wood is warped and sections are leaning. Poison ivy has filled in many of the spaces between the boards. Everyone still wants to press an eye to the cracks in the fence to get a glimpse at the changes being made. Or they could walk to the end of the path and walk a half block down the street and actually stroll up to the shop. The guys are fairly friendly and would probably be more than happy to show you the upgrades that have been made!

Looking at Whale Song

I was thinking about human courting behavior. Which made me consider my ongoing romance with my husband. Below is a haiku where I explore love after 40 years:

Belly to belly
In language only I know
He sings a whale song

I decided to take this theme and attempt to move it into different forms. This is a kimo, a modern Israeli haiku, composed of 3 line with a syllable count of 10/7/6:

We sing intestinal whale song duets
Entwined belly to belly
Through ocean depths in love

Then there was the Tyburn. This form is more difficult – there are 4 rhyming lines of 2 syllables each, followed by 2 rhyming lines consisting of 9 syllables each. The 5th – 8th syllables of the 5th line are made of the 1st and 2nd lines and the 6th line followed the pattern of the 5th – 8th syllables are the 3rd and 4th syllables. It isn’t the easiest poem to write:

My love
Sort of
True love
Held to his heart my love sort of sings
Whale song rises, true love above wings

And then there is the Rhopalic verse, a Greek form with deceptively simple rules – the 1st word in a line has one syllable, the 2nd has 2 syllables, the 3rd has 3 syllables, the 4th has 4 syllables, and so on. You can have as many words in each sentence as you desire as long as they follow the rule.

Minds entwined intellect
One body interweave
True marriage consummate
Love making serenade
Whale language recital

Looking at Tinted Windows

Slowly rolls the big black Escalade
Watching the summer shorts on parade
Dark tinted windows hide whose inside
Stopping to call them over curbside

He picked a cautious and wary group
His nefarious plans become moot
Techno girls with cameras steady
Snap likeness and license already

One dials the police another her dad
Reports the man in the car unclad
Keeping their distance they raise a fuss
Tables turned he loses his smugness

At once the girls flip him off en masse
Tires squealing his foot hits the gas
There’s no escape from the cops today
One more pervert they’ll lock away

It has been awhile since the last time there was a report of a suspicious vehicle attempting to lure children up to or into a car. It always seems to happen in the summer. Except for this time. October has been a bit chilly but we had a couple warm days. I suppose I’m as guilty as the next person because I put on my light weight top and my capri pants and sandals one last time. According to the NextDoor neighborhood network (an annoying social media site that my neighborhood is part of and I got suckered into subscribing to and can’t get out of), some middle school girls were walking home from school when a big SUV rolled up and started following them. They stayed together (safety in numbers) and when he rolled down the tinted window all 5 of them started taking photos – of him and his car and his license plate. One called the police and described the guy. Lucky for the girls, our police department is responsive and happened to have a neighborhood patrol not more than a block away. They were there in a flash. Literally. The suspect didn’t have time to get his pants up and zipped before the officer was ordering him to exit the car with his hands up. I’m guessing the girls had moved up the block by that time!

Looking Down

Willow Poetry, a site by Hélène Vaillant posts a weekly photo challenge whereby the readers are challenged to write about the posted photo. This week the photo was provided by Jordis Fasheh.

Peer into the darkness long hidden
Ask why decoration in the interior
Never mind the iron jail grate
Down deep there is a sound, rising
Open to the light they rush
Rail thin from confinement
Angry and vengeful they escape
Screaming at God and man
Fainting you fall back, fall down
As they fill the air mocking life
Utter an oath, a prayer, a plea
Loosed on the world all pestilence
Too late curiosity’s regret

This is my acrostic poem for this prompt…

Looking Left Out

I was a small child. I detested the ritual of picking teams because I was the last one picked. There is nothing that compares to the feeling of being unwanted. Perhaps I had overdeveloped intuitive sense but I could tell when I wasn’t welcome. Growing up in a subdivision created a closed group of playmates. As the subdivision expanded, the number of potential friends increased too. On one occasion my best friend and I joined a large group to play kickball. Teams were chosen and yes, I was the last one picked. It was finally my turn to kick. I kicked the ball. It went sailing and I ran. However it was caught and I was out. I was relegated to the end of the rotation and no matter how many times others were up to kick I remained at the end of the line. After a few more innings I simply walked away. It took the others a good hour to realize I was gone. That is the passive rejection. Active rejection is not as easy to ignore. I’ve had people refuse to acknowledge my existence. I’ve had people talk over me. Once a group turned their backs on me.

Those experiences shaped me is myriad ways. Perhaps the most prominent was that I have become very accepting of others that are on the margins. In high school I had a little group of friends who were all “odd ducks” in one way or another. My circle of of friends in college was the same only different. It made me patient. Many of my coworkers think I have the patience of a saint. I prefer to think of it as cutting others some slack. Not everyone learns at the same rate in the same way. I am willing to try different methods without putting the blame on them or me! Those experiences of being left out pushed me away from the mainstream. Probably saved me from experimenting with drugs, alcohol, tobacco or becoming sexually active as a young teen (I came of age in the 1970s). I was always an introvert but having to rely on myself for entertainment, conversation, and companionship allowed me to be comfortable being alone. I can eat at a restaurant solo, see a movie by myself, and be home alone without trepidation. It also pushed me to become less introverted. I consider myself to be a recovering introvert in that I can be comfortable in social settings, meeting strangers, and I appear outgoing.

I suppose some people when rejected become angry and want to avenge the slight. Others become withdrawn and depressed and exhibit self destructive behaviors. Some seclude themselves effectively creating insulation against the rejection. And others rise up against it and become social butterflies. What is your experience?

Looking Left

I have an eclectic group of friends who come in a variety of political persuasions. I don’t discuss politics on my blog too often. Today is an exception. My philosophy has always been one of respecting the opinions of others even when they radically differ from my own – an “agreeing to disagree” kind of view. The last few weeks has brought out the nasty in so many people! I’m all for passion in your convictions. I understand that emotions on both sides have been running high. I felt the urgency and the hesitation concerning the Supreme Court nominee. What has pushed me, and not over the edge but farther to the left, has been the assertion that because something happened a long time ago, it shouldn’t count. That kind of thinking is all kinds of wrong. If I murdered someone and wasn’t arrested, tried, convicted, and punished then it wouldn’t count against me if 30 years has passed? I think not. Justice demands an accounting. The priests that molested children in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s should get a pass and not face their comeuppance? I think not. Some crimes require righteous outrage. And rape and attempted rape are the kind of crimes that cry out for redress. The wounds inflicted on the mind and soul (or for those less religiously inclined the psyche) of victims of sexual assault never really go away – they may heal but there is always an ugly, angry scar that they carry. The injuries for the most part are hidden, just like the crime. Too often there is a lack of belief, a refusal to grant credibility, and an insistence that the victim somehow brought this on themselves. The culture of placing all the blame on the victim effectively silences the victim and absolves the perpetrator of any guilt or responsibility. This is wrong. I believe we need to do better. It isn’t about blaming boys for having testosterone coursing through their bloodstream any more than it is the fault of girls for being attractive. What it boils down to is personal integrity – or the lack thereof. And what I want in a judge that sits on the highest court in our country (other than a functioning brain) is personal integrity. Brett Kavanaugh may be a Yale graduate and a sitting judge in the appellate court (which necessitates higher brain function) but I posit his moral compass is broken. I think Brett Kavanaugh’s attempt to sidestep the questions, turn the tables, and conveniently refuse to address the issues raised during his Senate hearing was arrogant, flippant and downright disrespectful. I personally think that if he doesn’t know that “boffing” is not the same as burping he can’t possibly be smart enough to be a Supreme Court Justice. Really, I’m probably more naive about these terms than most and even I know that one! His getting emotional when reminiscing about high school chums and holidays with his family only highlighted the presence of a double standard. Any woman who exhibited the same tearful demeanor would have been denounced as unsuitable due to a weak and sentimental disposition – obviously not cut out for the Supreme Court. And it makes me angry. Angry that the FBI investigation was rushed. Angry that it was a sham. Angry that the Senate has put partisan politics ahead of due process and the will of the majority of Americans (last time I checked women aged 16 or older made up 58% of the work force). I’m bringing my anger to the ballot box. My vote will go to the opponent of any of the politicians voting to confirm Mr. Kavanaugh. Trump has his court justice but I think he will soon become a President without a majority.

Looking at the Photo: What Do I See?

I visited Hélène Vaillant at Willow Poetry where she has posted a poetry challenge to write a poem, haiku, tanka or short story which represents what you (see) feel (within you) about this photo. I’ve seen several of them but I wasn’t inspired. Today was different! Below is the photo.

Lot’s wife looked backward
True story, the rest did too
Disobeying God
Frozen in stony silence
Watching Sodom’s destruction

A little Tanka (made up of a hokku paired with a waka), which is to say a poem made of syllabic line counts of 5-7-5-7-7. Although the true Japanese form is not about syllables but rather 3 lines of 17 or less “on” words in 3 lines. The true haiku must contain a season word and is serious in tone.