Wednesday, March 14, 2012


     ·         Always do the collars and cuffs first
     ·         A packet of Lipton onion soup mix makes a tasty meatloaf
·         Separate wash by colors
·         Ring twice, then hang up; we’ll call you back
·         A “Take Me Home to Mama” sign always gets you a ride.
Thank you and yes, I have managed to look decent most of the time and have eaten regularly. 
But what were your tips for love and friendship?
I know you meant to tell me, maybe for my 21st birthday?
And I’m sorry that I didn’t get your advice about
©       How to find a perfect (ok good) partner
©       How to be a good (ok decent) friend
©       And how to love myself, yes how?!
You were going to prime that pump weren’t you?
Something like

»        Do unto yourself like you would have others do to you
»        Don’t commit too soon, but commit wholeheartedly
»        Know your mistakes and learn from them
»        Be self-critical but not self-condemning
»        Be generous in forgiving yourself
I’m certain you were going to tell me…
Stuff like that would have been very useful.  Maybe more so
Than hints from Heloise.
P.S.  I never could get those creases straight, and then there was permanent press!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

In My Place

Through the door and across the sodden field
I can see a solitary tree
Springing like a bow released
-Recoiled and coiled over again-
Flagging on the passage
Of the next rain shower:
Rainfall ahead for the next ten miles.
And then without prelude or
Even a polite introduction
It falls, in a common chorus of paradiddles,
Pop-corning drops on the fabric roof,
Teasing like a big brother.
Will it ever crease, or will it mete out water
In such random measure
Just a bit now, to gently remind,
And quite a bit more later
To put me in my place,
Which seems to be
Somewhere damp
And in between
Fish and fowl?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012



When I was thirteen or so, my mother took me aside and pronounced that I should either be a minister or a teacher.  The immediate effect of this bulletin was to make my shivers wiggle!  These careers were the farthest possible choices from my adolescent imagination, not that I had given much (or really any) thought to a career at that point.  I had just barely become a teenager after all.  It’s not an appointment process I felt, it just happens, or so it seems.

Swept up in the typical flow of school, I found myself in the hallways of the local community high school, freshman year.  If anyone had taken notice of me, I hadn’t noticed.  I was just an immature kid, hoping to make it through the maze of hallways without drawing attention to myself.  Good luck with that! The game was everyone noticed everything; how you dressed, how you cut your hair, who you walked with, etc. 

Academically, math class proved to be especially challenging.  Algebra wanted something from me that I just didn’t seem to have.  What was all this about “x” anyhow?  To me it was all an unknown.  My teacher, Mr. Hutchison, was just a little hard to read at first. He was soft spoken, witty, clean cut, with a blazer and Buddy Holly glasses.  People who knew him referred to him as “Hutch” although never to his face.

He knew math was all slings and arrows to me, but he never embarrassed me in class by calling on me when he understood I was lost.  The day before tests, he invited me and others to a review session after school.  If you attended, there were likely problems practiced that would be on the exam the next day. I attended.

When I dropped out of marching band (the clarinet was my woodwind equivalent of algebra) he found a job for me holding the sideline down marker at home football games.  I was still involved.

During my senior year I quit the wrestling team in frustration, one month shy of the dreaded “participation letter.”   He took me aside and kindly asked the wisdom of my decision.  I couldn’t admit to him my embarrassment in not actually earning a letter, but he understood.  I was relieved.

Passing him in the hallway on any given day, he would give me a silent, non-judgmental nod of recognition.  I sometimes walked out of my way just to gain this affirmation.

Slowly as the days and years passed, he became “Hutch” to me.

As luck would have it, I have recently retired from a 35 year career as a teacher.  Imagine that! I tried along the way to be caring, understanding, and supportive, realizing that children need such consideration.  It’s the least that I could do, because in part it was done for me.

I guess you don’t always know a role model when you first see them.  Perhaps the cliché images of sports stars and movie idols put up road blocks. Or perhaps it’s just the fact that we don’t know who we will become, at least when we are young, and who might just be quietly guiding us along the way. 

Looking back now, it’s easier for me to see who was there for me and who had a hand in my making.  Looking back, I see those Buddy Holly glasses and sly smile.