Looking Like the Last Day

This poem is a Tripadi, a Bengali form, that consists of at least one tercet. The tercet is syllabic having a count of 8/8/10. It also has a rhyme of a/a/x where x is an unrhymed line.

From working hard her hair turned gray
For retirement she would pray
Made the decision that this was the hour

She told the boss it’s her last day
Cleaned out her locker, got her pay
Coworkers cried and bosses laughed with glee

Said her good-byes to those who stay
Accepted gifts then walked away
With radio blaring she sped toward home

Now each morning she gets to play
Or not get up and in bed lay
No work or worries now she’s her own boss

I’m feeling a little nostalgic today as I celebrate the 3rd anniversary of my retirement. I had been to the workplace to do a little one-on-one staff training since it has been nearly 2 years that my position has been empty. It was really sad that the prior director felt that my position wasn’t worth what I was being paid. Instead he offered less than half the salary and hadn’t had a single applicant since my replacement left. Of course he wasn’t paying her much and she left the field and her profession to make big money elsewhere. The new director has made me an offer to work training new investigators/Grad Students/Post-Docs/Undergrads. At first the suggestion was to work full time as a private contractor but that won’t happen. I decided that perhaps working 16 hours a MONTH and doing batch training for groups of no more than 6 would be my preference. We will give it a try since the staff is now down 2 additional people. I’m not going to stress over it because my mantra remains – “Not my monkey, not my circus!” The current wave of reminiscence will soon pass as I do not miss the early morning wake up, the constant rush to get things done, the surliness of bosses, nor the pettiness of some coworkers. In my new training arrangement I don’t have to take any belittlement, any animosity, or bullying. I can stand there and smile knowing that they are paying me by the hour (a tidy sum) to listen to them flap their lips. All I hear is the sound of coins rattling around my piggy bank!!

Looking Doggie

We have had her (the new dog) for 11 days. I think we are keeping her. Sparky has been lobbying for another dog ever since Ranger had to be put down back in October 2015. This dog is 4 years old, a female, and formerly owned by a good friend (another Veterinary Nurse). She was named Maggie. Now I have a few foibles having worked in Veterinary clinics and one of them is animals named with people names. I just don’t care for it. Obviously this is not a problem for most people as it is more common than not to have pets named with all kinds of people names and nicknames. To that end we are trying to come up with an appropriate moniker for the soon to be ex-Maggie. The names in the running are: Magic, Mochi, Matrix, Mascot, and Maze.

Son#2 was the one to propose Mochi. Mochi, a Japanese rice cake made by pounding glutinous rice until it becomes sticky and turns to a kind of sugar, is his first choice. Son#1 doesn’t have a strong opinion but as a Magic: The Gathering player he is pushing for the name Magic. I like the name Matrix. But really it will be up to Sparky to make his choice. I will keep you posted.

But the most important thing is that she is really a good dog. She is very housebroken and lets you know when she needs to go out. She walks on a leash without pulling or wrapping you up. She travels well too and loves the car. We took her geocaching and she had a very good time and was well behaved too! She doesn’t bark – at all. We finally heard her bark – once when the doorbell rang. She did whimper when she saw a cat and wanted to go play (she was brought up cats and thinks they are all her friends). She likes other dogs and either sniffs noses and wants to run or sniffs and ignores them. She loves to be petted and snuggled. She likes everyone she has met so far – man, woman, and child! She is an Australian Cattle Dog mix, and very small weighing in at 30 pounds (13.6 kg) but is still a little chubby.


This is her posing for me with her typical one ear up and napping on the sofa (guiltily).

We went geocaching in the Chickaming Nature Preserve. We had just come from the shady woods to the edge of the prairie. There were lots of birds and sounds to catch her attention. After a little more walking we found a shady spot to rest.

On Sunday we attended the family ice cream night – without the dog. We were ordered to produce the pup or no ice cream for us! She loved everyone.  She made the rounds soliciting an ear scratch or a head pat from everyone in the room. Of course the youngest members of the family decided that getting down on the floor was the best way to interact. Our niece fell asleep petting her as did the dog – we aren’t sure who was more relaxed!

One of Sparky’s criteria was that “his” dog be smart enough to learn commands and tricks. We had been told that she was difficult to train and only knew “sit” and “come”. So far Sparky has taught her to shake hands, catch kibble when tossed to her, lay down, and stay. I gave her the stay command (with hand signal) and she stayed parked like a statue while I went all the way from the upstairs to the basement and back – a rather long stay and she nailed it! He is moving on to roll-over and we’ll see how that goes. He really wanted a dog that will play fetch and catch a frisbee but she is terrified of balls and almost any toy. But that is really okay with me… Her idea of play is running in a circle and then soliciting ear scratches and belly rubs!

Looking Dusty

Dust of Life
Today and yesterday and most likely tomorrow
are filled with the sweeping up of crumbs
remnants of life and living
never groovy, neat and tidy
as seen in magazines
Sunrise and high noon and very probably dusk
will be spent in a flurry of scrubbing floors
covered in scuffs and muddy paw prints
that resist the gleam expected from
surfaces clean enough to eat on
Time on the clock and calendar passes
the battle rages between us and
the far out dust and debris
in the end we return to that
we fought against
accepting our heritage.

This is my entry for the We’ave Written Weekly (W3) poetry prompt set by Kunjal on David’s blog, “The Skeptic’s Kaddish”. I am very aware of death. Lately death has touched many around me. And since I am not an island, death has looked me in the eye, nodded and passed by. As friends and family cope with the loss of people they love, I am reminded that death is ever present. We mostly dismiss the fact that these bodies were made of dust and that it is only natural that we return to dust. Perhaps being able to ignore death is what lets us savor the present… and still death winks at me.

Looking for Comfort

I mentioned way back in July 2021 that it was the year of the mattress. Son#1 and #2 both received new mattresses as early Christmas gifts. I wanted a new mattress for my bed too. Here we are almost a year later and I still don’t have an upgrade. I priced them, again, and the cost is crazy high. I was informed at the Mattress Depot that the prices reflect the added costs of shipping since some of the mattresses are manufactured overseas! Anyway, the result was no new sleep set for the master bedroom.

The real story is the guest bed. Son#2 mentioned that he can’t handle sleeping more than 2 nights on the ancient mattress. To be fair that mattress was a college graduation gift from my father way back in 1979. Which if you do the math makes it 43 years old. It is an Englander, which back in the day was a very highly regarded product (and they are still going strong). Anyway, with the prospect of getting son#2 to stay a little longer, we invested in a new mattress for the guest bed. It also coincided with my sister’s planned (but canceled) visit, so that was a bonus. Granted the new mattress probably won’t last 40 years, but I probably won’t either!

The reviews are in for the new mattress:
“It’s bouncy but not saggy. A big improvement.” – Son#1
“No more nightmares! Finally a firm mattress.” – Son#2
“Nice! Not that I’ll ever need to sleep in that room!” – Sparky
“Cushy! It feels like my own mattress!” – SIL when she stopped over
“Real comfortable.” – SIL’s partner in crime (who had to try it out too)
“No dent in the middle!” – murisopsis
“Good. A firm mattress.” – RighteousBruin9 aka peacefulwarrior9 aka A Sagittarian Seeker
So there you have it – the mattress is a winner!

Looking at Father’s Day

A verse in honor of this Father’s Day
When men take a leisurely pause from work
Enjoy TV, gifts, and beers as a perk
Do manly things with friends, goof off and play
Put chores and projects at home on delay
Ignore the phone, play online games and smirk
Favorite meals, dessert eat beast-mode berserk
At day’s end, Dad exhausted hits the hay

Yesterday was Father’s Day as celebrated in the USA. Generally this holiday doesn’t get the same respect or celebratory hoopla that Mother’s Day receives. Sparky’s dad is still with us and had celebrated his 89th birthday in March. He’s slowing down but still drives (even if he probably shouldn’t) and has a keen interest in all things golf, football, national politics, and family! So we took the opportunity to gather with him and shower him with all kinds of goodies (that is some tasty jam for his morning toast ritual). Sparky had been treated to dinner out by son#1 on the previous Wednesday and by son#2 the Sunday prior. I made Sparky’s dreams come true – we are now hosting a dog that will probably become our dog (actually his dog). We are giving it a week to see how she adjusts but this weekend went very well. Sparky and the new dog were curled up on the sofa watching TV Friday night so off to a good start.

The poem is an Italian Octave. It is an 8 line poem in iambic pentameter (which just didn’t work for me) with a strict rhyme scheme of ABBAABBA. Of course as soon as I saw that rhyme I knew I had to do one on Father’s Day!

Looking Roasted

I was ashamed with the last posting of my culinary efforts. To make amends, I want to share this adventure. I don’t know about you but in this family we are nuts about nuts. Well, Sparky is the nutty one. He regularly consumes lots of peanuts, his fair share of almonds and I have to hide my pistachios. If Sparky runs out of peanuts then he will tuck into my pecans or walnuts. He can make a big dent in cashews in a matter of seconds. No nuts are safe from him – he will even eat Brazil nuts! Knowing this, when I stumbled upon the Kroger Woo-Hoo shelf stocked with bonus bags (20% more nuts in 19.5 ounce bags) of whole almonds for the whopping price of $1.99 per bag I couldn’t resist. I bought 4 bags. Here’s the catch, they were raw almonds. Sparky prefers roasted almonds or cocoa coated almonds.

Our neighbors generally gift us with their home-made seasoned nuts at Christmas. I was given the recipe several years ago and had never attempted to make them – until now!
Barbeque Toasted Almonds
1 T. olive oil
2 T. honey
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1 t. chili powder + 1 t. for sprinkling over the finished almonds
1/4 t. cumin
pinch cloves
2 c. raw almonds

Mix the oil, honey and spices together in a deep bowl.

Stir vigorously to blend the oil and honey and distribute the spices homogenously. Add the nuts and stir until all nuts are evenly coated. Turn the nuts out of the bowl into a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Stir continually.

It is very important that you not stop stirring as the nuts can go from raw to burnt in a heartbeat. The nuts will start to darken and the spices will be fragrant. Remove from heat and pour nuts onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with an additional 1 t. chili powder. Allow to cool completely. Break the nuts apart and store in an air tight container at room temperature.

Nuts will be good for about 2 weeks. (But they won’t last that long!)

I made a variation on the theme. The cooking directions are the same but the ingredients are slightly different:
Sweet and Savory Almonds
1 T. olive oil
2 T. honey
1/2 t. rosemary (I had to grind mine to a powder before use)
1/2 t. allspice
1/4 t. cayenne pepper + 1 t. chili powder for sprinkling over the finished almonds
2 c. almonds

Looking at Genes

There is debate on whether certain proclivities are the result of genetic disposition or environmental opportunity. Is the ability to see the world and translate that into poetry influenced by genes? It is hard to say. My mother was poetic. My great grandmother wrote poetry too. Yet neither of my sisters is so inclined and I alone am left to carry on the poetry genes. Son#1 can write poetry. He doesn’t but he could. I know this because he wrote in HS and his English teacher was very impressed (he was reading Ambrose Bierce) and was inspired. But I digress. Of my mother’s 6 grand children only one has ever actively written poetry beyond what was required in school.

During National Poetry Month, son#2 saw me struggling with one of the forms and asked what I was writing. I let him read what I had and pointed out what wasn’t working with the meter. He shook his head and retreated only to return and hand me a small slip of paper where he’d scribbled a few lines. His comment was, “Its only words. The meaning is up to the people reading them.” Sometimes he scares me. What follows is his poetic effort:

Bang! Bang!
My elbows strike the table
Spilling apple juice
Shattering the conversation
An orangutan enters
Stinks like feet
Nostrils flare
The quiet room waits

I’m not sure what he wanted to express. It is however an apt description of him making an entrance. I’m undecided if I should encourage him because he really was interested or ignore him because he was poking fun at me… Any thoughts??

Looking at Silver Linings

I decided to participate in Monty Vern’s June poetry challenge to write a “Silver Lining” poem. This poem is a take on the Golden Shovel where you take a line from a poem and use each word in order as the end word in each line of your own poem. The difference between the Golden Shovel and the Silver Lining is that in the Silver Lining you are allowed to leave out unimportant articles like “the” and “a” and some prepositions, retaining the dominant words. I tried, really I did, but gold outshines silver every time. So even though I did try to leave out the little words it just didn’t happen. If it is really important a distinction just drop them as you read and see if it makes everything better… Monty gave a list of 3 lines from various poets. As soon as I saw Carl Sandburg on the list I knew I was in.

“A molten gold flows away from the sun.” from “Evening Sea Wind” by Carl Sandburg

The hammer raised falls, slag shoots a
Gray heat not so removed from molten
Iron once a bright glowing gold
Now dulled as heat rolls and life flows
The men start with vigor but it fades away
And the toil wears them faster from
Any soul abrasions industry devises the
Furnace is their heart and their sun

Sandburg wrote about industry around Chicago and this is something I’ve been near in may ways – geographically and that Sparky worked for a Steel Company for many years (thankfully not in the foundry). The vision of these “men of steel” has stayed with me. They start out young and end up with stress fractures and bent and ready for the scrap heap. But not before they have produced sons eager to take up where their fathers left off. And though that is a biased point of view, many would defend the decision to work in the mills. They say it is a good job with good pay and excellent benefits. It provided their families with a home and food and money to pay for a boat and trips to the lake. And that is true. I suppose it is all about choice and perspective…

Looking at We’ave Written Weekly

This weeks We’ave Written Weekly poetry prompt hosted by David on the Skeptic’s Kaddish is from Britta. Her challenge was to write any poem using one of the words from her poem as the title… That leaves it wide open as her poem is dense with delightful words! So here goes.

Drunken Crows
With feathered wing and piercing eye
We grow and fledge, take to the sky
We fly through life thinking we are above

Haughty birds we flock together
Prance and preen with shiny feather
Unaware of the iridescent lies

We play on thermals in the sun
Swoop and loop until day is done
And only in landing see the flight path

As night descends and all goes dark
The crowns slip from proud monarch
And soon realize we are just drunken crows

This was written as a Tripadi, a Bengali poetic form written in tercets. There must be at least on tercet but there is no limit on the total number. Each tercet is syllabic and rhyming with a rhyme scheme of a/a/x (where x is unrhymed) and a syllable count of 8/8/10.

As many know I’m a fan of the crow. On our trip to the mountains we saw ravens, which are in the same family as crows but a much bigger version, kind of the Midwest crow on steroids. Anyway the Indiana crow is not a wimpy bird, being corn fed and growing into a formidable scavenger. That said, the crow is playful. They have been noted as one of the animals capable of play. And play they do! On a warm day when the heat on the pavement shimmers, there in the air unseen by the human eye are hot air thermals creating a roller-coaster ride for the crows. They will ride these up and up without a single flap of a wing and then exit and slowly spiral then plummet toward the ground. At the last minute they adjust and with flapping wings re-enter the thermal just to do it all over again. It reminds me of people who play around and never consider that are inferior to nature or other people. But life has a way of turning the mirror so that we see exactly how silly and often insignificant we really are in the larger scheme of things.

Looking Protected

His parentage unknown with saucer sized feet

All too soon the rest of him caught up
The chain-link fence was a chin rest.

His tail destroyed the lamps and knick-knacks
His weight made sofa cushions collapse
His ferocity toward the intruder saved their lives

This is a Cherita, named from the Malay word for story. It is a poem consisting of 3 stanzas. The first stanza is a single line. The second a couplet and the third line a tercet. The line lengths are at the poet’s discretion. It is untitled, centered on the page, and has no requirement to rhyme since it is modeled on the haiku/tanka.

A former coworker got a puppy from the animal shelter.  She and her family wanted a small to medium sized dog, something in the range of a cocker spaniel/border collie. All the puppies they had were “Heinz 57” variety. The adoption clerk informed them that the mother had been a sheltie and the father was unknown. Anyway, they selected a likely pup that appeared to be fluffy enough and friendly. After a couple weeks and a visit to their vet, it was determined that their 12 week old pet was really maybe 8 weeks old. The vet’s prediction was that their small to medium sized dog would be much bigger. Her prediction was spot on. When Fluffy went in to get his 16 week vaccinations, he was big. By the time he was 8 months he was the size of a very hairy Great Dane and he was still in the gangly adolescent phase. My coworker considered re-homing Fluffy but her kids were all very attached. Fluffy went to obedience classes and was really a star pupil. His only bad habit was getting on the furniture…

Anyway, his tail was a weapon. If he was happy to see you, you could expect bruises on your thighs from being beaten with that wagging tail. He redecorated her house by eliminating clutter, magazines, and glass figurines (really anything breakable at wag height).  She was at her wits end when he decided the new living room sofa was his bed. She shooed him off it but he would be back as soon as she turned her back. A year later he was a lean and muscular dog. She told me he weighed about 140 pounds! Her good sofa was sagging and the cushions a total loss and she decided that he had to go. A few days later as the family slept, two men broke into the house through the kitchen window. Perhaps they were looking for anything to sell for drug money, maybe they had more wicked plans. But Fluffy cornered them and set up such a racket that even the neighbors knew something was wrong. When the police came the intruders basically begged to be arrested! Fluffy obediently stood down and let the police do their job.

She was curious to know just what kind of dog he was . The results of the canine DNA test pointed to a mix of several big dogs – St. Bernard, Rottweiler, Great Dane, and Akita. Fluffy is now allowed to sleep on the sofa and the talk of him being sent away has ceased forever. Sparky wants a dog but not a really big one. He just might get his wish. The only catch is the backyard needs the fence repaired and we have to see if the dog in question likes Sparky as much as he likes her…