Intensity: A Poem

Intensity: A Poem

Intensity, hard to live with

even harder for others to understand.

Thoughts consume as they are ruminated

and then spit out like cud

only to be left on the floor

without being digested.

Never the same.

Never understood.


No, not really.


Yes, for most.


So, I am told.

When a passion

overrides rational

thought and action

making one

unattractively incomprehensible.

Why? They ask.

I do not know,

You reply.



 Almost comedic,

in a sad sort of way.

Intensity, I live with you

so I need to find a way to

not let you alienate others,

as it seems I am not able

to pack you away

for all time,

even for my own good.

But, now I know I must.

Unhealthy pondering returns,

borne of  incomplete tasks,

propelled by desire to do what is Fair and Just.

Persisting at a calling I am not paid to perform.

Causing sleepless nights from swirling muses who force

me to ride a long board of words and phrases, speeding

together to form a ramp of sentences and paragraphs,

only to fall off the pipe at the end.






This is a passage I wrote just over three weeks ago while waiting to have surgery. It is filled with the emotion that some might feel when faced with the unknown – an unknown outcome. Thankfully, my outcome was a positive one. But, never the less – I thought I would share what I felt at the time. Maybe, some can relate.

For three weeks now I have lived with uncertainty.

I have lived with this before, but it seems a new feeling, a strange, unfamiliar,

and disquieting state of being now.

This time, as in the past, the uncertainty is health related.

For three weeks now, I have lived with not knowing.

Not knowing, whether or not I am healthy.

Certainly, a healthy person does not need surgery.

But, I will have surgery this week.

Certainly, a healthy person does not have a cause to see a specialist.

But, I did last week.

Certainly, a healthy person does not need tests and examinations that evaluate their state

of being, allowing doctors to assess and plan, after prodding and probing.

But, I had these two weeks ago.

I want answers.

I want to know! Am I healthy? Am I a victim? Will I be a survivor?

Only time will tell. Time. It can be a friend. It can be a foe.

It can take too long or be shortened beyond our desire.  

During these three weeks of time, while I am uncertain, all these thoughts and more,

race through my head.

I pray for grace, strength, and guidance. I have asked those who share faith in a higher

power to pray for me.  I know they will.  

I have faith.  I have friends.  I have family.  I am blessed with their love.

Yet, I am scared.  So, I pray some more.

I waken, and I pray, in the quiet of the early morning, before the sun quiets my thoughts. 

I pray for the doctors who will treat me,

the nurses who will care for me,

my husband who I could not bear to tell I thought I was sick.

My boys, now almost grown men, but still need me.

I pray for them to be patient with me.

I pray for the wives I might not know,

and the grandchildren I might not get to play alongside while I sit on the floor.

I pray.

I pray.

Strangely, my anxiety is low.

I know I cannot control this situation.

I cannot.

So, I do not try.

For only a few short weeks, I have been in bed with uncertainty, again.

My haunting past of uncertainty was whether we would have children,

enduring miscarriage after miscarriage.

Afraid to speak of the joy of pregnancy for it might end, as it did the time before,

the time before that, and the two times before that.

Yet, I have three boys. Almost men. They are my greatest gift and my legacy to this world.

I have a loving husband of thirty years. It is, and has been, LOVE with capital letters.

So blessed am I to have found this kind of man.

I feel healthy, not sick.

My friends were here last night, making cider with us in a healthy,  joyous, and

jovial state of mind. For a little while, I could forget.

I will be okay.

That is all I could tell them.

I will be okay.

I pray.


Three weeks later, the uncertainty is past.

I am okay.

My prayers are filled with gratitude.

Life has shifted and been put in perspective.




Caving: Follow the Rules! A Reactionary Post.

Caving: Follow the Rules! A Reactionary Post.

Have you ever been spelunking? How about cave exploring? They are one in the same!

Major newspapers have recently written and posted articles about an ordeal a young college student in Indiana had while spelunking. Reading these articles prompted me to post on this subject, having been spelunking several times in my life.

My first time caving was when I was about 30 weeks pregnant after our move to Wisconsin eighteen years ago.  Being a self-proclaimed science nerd, I was more than willing to go in an effort to explore our new mid-western surroundings and check out the stalagmites and stalactites. After all, we already had a precocious five-year old who was ready for some Earth Science.  It would be a great experience for him, too.  So, off we went one hot summer day to Niagara Cave in Harmony, Minnesota. It was very cool and although the experience ended for me more quickly than our group (I got a little claustrophobic and diaphoretic, having to ascend before the tour was over), I went back two more times over the years – always with kids in tow.

Other than memories of dank darkness, narrow passageways, dripping water, and cool temperatures (which are a relief from summer heat whether you are pregnant or not), I remember being told the rules.  First and foremost, the one repeated several times was to stay with your group!

This brings us back to the publicized articles found in the digital editions of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal about the recent incident with the Indiana College Student who was left alone in the cave when his group exploration was over.  Yes, he was left. The buddy system did not work. Obviously, numbers (bodies or students – whatever you want to call them) were left unaccounted. It sounds like the pressure of our overscheduled days reigned over getting the group out and on their way to their next obligation or activity. There were a lot of safety checks not performed. He is lucky. I am glad he was found and is alright. But, you know what really gets me is that the articles totally gloss over the fact that HE LEFT THE GROUP!  It is mentioned once in the New York Times article but then, that is it!  Where is his responsibility in the incident?

You do not leave a group in a cave! He was not an experienced spelunker. The light shines on yet another great example of our youth being so focused on their own needs and wants that safety for themselves and others becomes an afterthought.  This focus could have had dire consequences. Yeah, you are not enjoying that part of the cave, your back hurts, etc., etc.. Stay with the group!  It will be over soon.

I am sorry but I think the newspapers do some disservice to us all in telling this story in the way the details were shared.  HE LEFT THE GROUP.  I think it demanded repeating, at least once, if not more.

Obviously, the student leaving the group with which he was exploring to find the other group was a huge mistake. It was his mistake. His mistake was compounded by the mistakes of others in the group for failing to account for him upon exiting the cave.  Luckily, for all, the situation was not fatal.  I am really not sure which – the group or the student – bears the greatest weight of the responsibility for his being left behind. Again, you do not leave your group! Ever.

The moral of the story? Spelunking is fun. Kids love it. You can experience awe and wonder about our earth and how it forms in any number of caves across the country. It is generally a safe activity.  It is the type of activity I would, and have, highly encouraged for enriching our youth. But, there are rules. The rules are there for safety – yours and others.  Follow the rules and. most likely, you will not have to find yourself in a situation that could threaten your life, or leave you considering crickets for your next meal.




Tending My Own Garden

Tending My Own Garden

By 6:50 a.m. this morning, they were gone. My two students were off to the high school for another year. One was excited, and one was reluctant but glad it was the beginning of the end of high school for him.  He is ready for something more.

On the first of this month, I wrote about my wishes for this school year.  The post is filled with reflections, observations, hopes, and desires for the year that starts today.  The first week of September is always jam-packed for my family. Not only is school always scheduled to begin, we also have two birthdays to celebrate, back to back. One today and one tomorrow.  Luckily, we were able to do some celebrating over the weekend, so I feel good about taking care of that.

Now, it is my turn. I need to tend my own garden. I mean this metaphorically as well as literally. Over the last few weeks, I realized that I did not have to run over to school to weed the butterfly garden in an attempt to have it presentable for our students and their families on the first day of school.  I have not missed going, however much I will miss the students. It was a task that always made me resentful, for many reasons. This summer I relieved myself of this self-imposed duty for the first time in 13 years. It actually feels good!

Today, I can tend my own flower garden, not because I have to, but because I want to. Over the weekend I planted mums. Today, I will weed the front perennial bed. Later this week, I will have monarchs to release. And soon, there will be milkweed pods to collect.

Today, I will tend my mental garden. A new round of graduate classes start for me, one of which includes a research study which I am designing and need to prepare to implement by the holidays.  My time is freed up to attend to my own needs as a student, life-long learner, and community educator.

Today, there is much to be done. I have given myself time to do it. Today, while the house is quiet and my students are starting their own year, full of new classes, friends, and activities, I have time to tend my own garden. I am grateful for that.

Via TwoWritingTeachers Blog and Slice of Life Tuesdays

Lately, Social Media Just Makes Me Feel Like Barfing……My First Angry Post

Lately, Social Media Just Makes Me Feel Like Barfing……My First Angry Post

Lately, whenever I read posts on social media, I just want to barf! Yes! Upchuck. Vomit. Loose My Cookies. Ralph. Whatever you call it, it means that what I am reading makes me sick.

People can be obnoxious! Yes. There, I said it. Obnoxious. And, it might include you!

There is too much blaming, too much self-righteousness, too much in your face, I told you so, mentality. It has come to a point where I just want to remove myself from the pages and be inaccessible. I know it can be done. My husband does not have a “page” nor does he want one.

So, you know a big word or have a large vocabulary.  So do I.  You do not need to be thanked. I know how it feels. I wasn’t.  You are the best of the best.  Is this self-proclaimed or did someone tell you that?  Your child did 17 AP courses in high school!  Somehow, that does not seem impressive, but more like, idiotic.   Yes, it is all enough to make me sick. I might be rapidly coming to the conclusion that my husband is right. We should move to the lake house and escape humanity.

And then, I remember that I have enjoyed camaraderie with friends from my past, students I have enriched, administrators I have known, and easy access to family.  Realizing those things makes the barfing part go away – at least temporarily.

Here’s the thing. ( I’ll use the damn contraction in my post, too! It is not often I succumb to slang in the written word, but it is necessary today and seemingly, tolerated by many!)  We need change. We ALL – from the very young to the very old, from the most intelligent to the cognitively disabled, from the very rich to the poorest of poor – we ALL need to change.  Schools need to change. Licensing practices need to change. Bureaucracy needs to lessen. Scientists need our support. Health care needs to treat the patient not the EMR or the computer. College students need safe exposure to views other than their own. We need a better society – a more giving, tolerant community, more honesty, less capitalism, more respect for authority and authority figures like police officers, less abuse of the system, more sustainability, and more solutions to problems before we have to leave them to our children and grandchildren.  Our earth is dying. There! I said that too. We ALL need to change. I beg of you to honestly think of what you can do to better the planet and/or society AND not expect anything at all in exchange. We know you cannot even expect a thank you.

Basically, I do not think the internet is providing an avenue to make those changes. This belief is reinforced every time I check my social media.  My blog is not being widely read. There are other, more entertaining, more poorly written, more laughable pieces than mine. Let’s face it, I am a serious person, trying to provide serious opportunities and information for enrichment.  Yet, it goes nowhere. It is not what people want to read. It is not sensational or entertaining enough. And, that tells me that people, most people, really do not want to change.

So, I have two choices. I can continue to stay on social media and occasionally feel like barfing. Or, I can remove my attempts at positive influence and opportunities for enrichment and be obliviously ignorant to the idiocy that surrounds us.

Although the latter seems very appealing, I think I will choose the former – for now. For me, the positive always outweighs the negative.  And, I am not sure being ignorant would make me happier.  So, what does this mean? It means you will occasionally be exposed to a rant such as the one I have gone on tonight.

WordPress Daily Prompt: Continue

Entitled: Not Just the Young

Entitled: Not Just the Young

It is the end of summer. This means running around for school clothes and classroom supplies. Over the years, I have found it easier to just take my boys on separate days. So, yesterday I finished up by taking my 17-year-old out for his turn.

We spent a couple of hours in places like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Kohl’s Department Store. Following innumerable sessions of trying on shirts and shorts at Dick’s and then, pants at Kohl’s, we were ready for lunch. It was late – about one o’clock in the afternoon. The parking lot of our local, preferred burger joint, Culver’s, was not too crowded, so we headed inside for some sustenance.

Upon entering, an elderly couple had just moved up to the register to order, and another more-middle aged couple were already ordering at the second register. There are two more registers but they were currently unattended by employees, signifying that they were not “open”.

Another family had entered the restaurant behind us. They consisted of two children under age five and the parents. The parents were probably in their early 30’s. Without trying to listen, we heard the little girl tell her mom that they should go to the register to the left because the line was shorter. Her mom responded, after several ignored attempts by the girl to move her family, that they were in “the line” and they had to wait their turn. Nice! I liked what we heard.  The girl tried one more time after the mother’s initial response because the lines were just not moving. I believe there were some issues with the customers being able to hear the employee and the employee needing to excuse herself to make an ice cream cone – as this happens at Culver’s.  Not a problem.

More and more people came in and the line extended to close to the doors. Still, just two registers were open for ordering. Asking to move again, the girl got the same response from her mom as she did the first time, so she became compliant and quiet.

That is when it happened! Two elderly women, probably in their mid 70’s came in and clearly saw there were about ten people, or four “families” including us, next in line. One loudly stated, “well this line is short” while briskly heading past all of us who had been patiently waiting for our turn, to the far left register!

The mom behind us muttered, “Oh, dear!”

I turned to her and said, “Yeah, that is just great, isn’t it? And here you are trying to teach your children to be patient and wait in line for their turn.”

Then, the third register opened with the employee calling, “I can help the next person.”  The two elderly women who had just walked in the restaurant, past all ten of us waiting, moved from behind the couple at the second register, to the newly opened third register and placed their order! This happened before any of us waiting in line had moved!

Wow! You know, there is a lot said these days about young people being entitled. Today, we observed that this is a problem not reserved only for the younger generation. These two elderly ladies totally disregarded proper social etiquette about lines in a public place. There was no way they could have misunderstood that all of us were waiting our turn!

The little girl was shown what not to do. Her mom was disappointed at this show of disrespect and entitlement, as we all probably were.  Over lunch, my son and I had a conversation about the behavior. He told me that he fights the perception daily, that it is the young who are entitled. He is conscious of not acting in such a way – conscious at work, at school, and even at the leadership camp he attended this summer,  You do not get to disregard others.

Yes, the “me first” attitude belongs to more than just the young in our American society today.  I have seen it recently when traveling, when shopping, and now when trying to order a simple lunch at a popular restaurant.  It needs to stop. You need to wait your turn. It doesn’t matter whether you are four or seventy-four, just wait in line with the rest of us.

Winding Down: The End of Summer is Here

Winding Down: The End of Summer is Here

Some areas across the nation have already started back to school! I know this from listening to the news, reading social media, belonging to a teacher blog-writing community, and talking with friends.  Here, in the upper mid-west, our summer is not quite over, but it is close.  Most districts have two to three more weeks until students arrive back at their desks, ready to learn.

As the years go by, summer seems to go faster and faster! This summer was no exception. Although probably busier than most summers we have had, I feel a sense of accomplishment as this one comes to a close. My husband and I took our very first, week-long trip alone, since our honeymoon – thirty years ago!  Our sons have kept busy – the youngest finishing up an online course, which he has diligently spent 2-3 hours on a day since the Monday after school got out – even he said he feels tuned up for his first AP class experience that will start in September!  The traveling soccer league he belonged to is over and done with for the season and perhaps for good for us. It was exhausting  and not truly necessary to be driving two and a half hours to a large city to compete against teams than might not be more skilled but were definitely more cohesive than ours.  But, just as that ended, the high school team started having captain’s practices and contact days with the coaches. We are in the middle of “training camp” which has constituted 9 hours already just between Monday and Tuesday this week. By the end of today, another 5 and a half hours on the pitch will be completed. Between the mental demands from the online class and the physical demands of the soccer, our fifteen year old needed a three-hour nap yesterday for the first time in years!  It almost felt as if he were two again, with all of us checking on him periodically!

College visits have been underway. It just makes sense to use the time over the summer to get to some of the prospective campuses rather than take a day from school once it starts.  Our middle son will be a senior this year! He has been employed for over 12 months, kept up good grades, learned to enjoy working out at the YMCA, helped to win a tennis team conference championship – which continued into the summer, and fine tuned his 3D printing – software – coding skills over the last year. Currently, he is printing a pin-hole viewer for us to use during the solar eclipse next week. I even got a hug before bed from him last night, and a chance to tell him how proud he makes me!  However, he is a worrier – like me, and the state of the world weighs on his mind.  His final year of high school will go fast (we have been through a senior year once before), with memories being made on a daily basis that he can hopefully look back on happily when the future arrives and he is a college student.

Our oldest was just home for a visit. He graduated from college this past May, Summa Cum Laude, no less!  He blossomed during his university time and has elected to pursue a PhD in Statistics. His program starts on Monday.  I am excited for him!  Employment during the summer was split between two research labs, checking on goats, being with friends,  and developing his own areas of interest to pursue in the coming months.  A couple of week-long visits home were squeezed in along with a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, with his Aunt to celebrate his successes – which have been many.  The trip was well deserved!

Early summer and mid-summer brought the death of both of our beloved cats.  They were fourteen and blood brother, barn cats.  We are pet-less now and I can tell you it is still an adjustment, especially for me. I miss them. I miss caring for them, loving them, and receiving their love in return. Yet, I know we are not ready for new pets. Not yet.

Our house siding project is coming along. Hopefully, it will be finished by the time the weather turns cold. Our fruit has been coming in all season – first cherries, then blueberries, now plums, and pears. The harvests have been plentiful and they keep us busy processing the fruit. We have learned that ripeness turns to rot if you wait too long!

I have had a tiny amount of time to work on jewelry making – a hobby of mine. But, I also took a summer graduate course that was grueling and did not end until early July.  So, my time has been somewhat limited. I am itching to get back to more creating.  For the first time ever, I am really not sure I am ready for my fall semester of classes to begin!

Yes, our summer has been busy and fulfilling. I think we all have a sense of accomplishment. I know, in many ways, we have been enriched by all of the activities and challenges. But, summer is winding down. Our town’s local festival – Kornfest – is this weekend. To us, it signals the end of summer is near and the school year is about to begin. I think we are ready!