Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

When I found out that the regional airport offers flight lessons, I decided it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. So, on a hazy Sunday morning earlier this month, I flew a plane!

The Piper and me

The Piper and me

When I met the instructor, Frank, at 7:30, he had already done the pre-flight. The first thing he asked me was, “Do you understand how planes fly?” I didn’t think “magic” was the answer he was looking for, so I had to admit that I didn’t. He gave me a brief physics lesson, went over the basic controls, and it was time to board.

As I climbed up onto the wing, he said, “The pilot sits on the left side.” I sat in the right seat and he corrected me. It became apparent that was the pilot! *Gulp* (Of course he still had full control, or we wouldn’t have made it very far.)

As we taxied down the runway, he let me guide the plane, which is done with foot pedals–one to go left and the other right. I wanted to grab the controller and steer it like a car, but flying and driving are two very different things. Let’s just say, I’m glad that no one was watching me. I didn’t manage to drive the plane off the runway, but I might have come close…

Once the plane was in position at the beginning of the runway, Frank took over. It was just like taking off in a commercial jet, minus the flight attendants’ pre-flight spiel. Oh, and the fact that this plane wasn’t much bigger than my Ford Fiesta. And of course, I wasn’t a passenger–I was in the pilot’s seat.

The view of the airport (Photo Credit: Degner Regional Airport... I was not even thinking of taking photos at this point!)

Photo Credit: Degner Regional Airport…I didn’t take any photos during the flight.

Near where the above photo was taken, Frank took his hands off the controller and declared that I was now flying the plane. *Gulp* I took hold of my controller. “So, what exactly do I do?” He had me pull the controller toward me, which lifted the nose of the plane and brought the plane higher yet.

Soon, we were 1,000 feet above the ground, with the whole town spread out like a blanket below us. I had a whole new perspective on this town where I’ve lived most of my life. We circled around my neighborhood, and I was able to pick out my house! Then we turned back toward the airport and Frank landed the plane, safe and sound.

It was a short flight, but it was a great introduction to flying. I won’t be in the air again anytime soon, but I’m thankful for the experience.

When I was recalling my adventure to my friend Reagan, she was reminded of a poem that hangs on the wall in her home.

High Flight
John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (WWII pilot)

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

A post-flight photo op with the instructor

A post-flight photo op with the instructor


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Celebrating my 33rd birthday with my family.

I celebrated my birthday last Sunday. It was a wonderful day full of family, friends, and food. My parents made a delicious lunch: grilled pork tenderloin, brats, pasta salad, cinnamon chips and fruit salsa. My birthday cake this year was an amazing chocolate Bundt cake with vanilla ice cream and ganache. (Thanks, Mom!) And the finishing touch was an original poem written by my brother, which I was granted permission to share.

Roses are red
In some regions pinkish
White roses exist
And gold or light yellow

Violets are blue
So the poems of old go
For the sake of tradition
Let it be so

Today is your birthday
Dear Sister of mine
There have been five presidents*
In your lifetime

All served two terms
Save Bush the First
And in fairness
Obama has just begun term two

So happy birthday
And many more to be
You are a sibling
Of high quality

My friends Reagan and Brett hosted a dinner and game night for myself and two other friends who have late May birthdays. The night included a tasty meal, delectable dessert bar, fun games like telepictionary, and lots of laughter. At midnight, when there were five of us left, we broke out Puerto Rico and played until 2 am. (And since I never lie on this blog, Brett won…but only by a few points.)

It was a great way to welcome a new year!

*Joel forgot Carter–I was born in an election year.

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The incarnate Word is with us,
is still speaking, is present
always, yet leaves no sign
but everything that is.
-Wendell Berry

View from the top

“The change from storm and winter to serene and mild weather, from dark and sluggish hours to bright and elastic ones, is a memorable crisis which all things proclaim.” -Henry David Thoreau

I set my face, forsook my fears
I saw the city through my tears
The darkness soon will disappear
And be swallowed by the sun
-Matthew Perryman Jones

They're not called spring ephemerals for nothing. The little gathering of flowers I photographed on Wednesday was already past its prime, petals strewn about the dead leaves.

I dream of a quiet man
who explains nothing and defends
nothing, but only knows
where the rarest wildflowers
are blooming, and who goes,
and finds that he is smiling
not by his own will.
-Wendell Berry


Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
He makes our sorrowing spirit sing.


The earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
Psalm 33:5b

Evening Light

This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.
-Maltbie D. Babcock


“Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” -Annie Dillard

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Tea + Poetry = Bliss

Tea + Poetry = Bliss

Tuesday was the last day of April, so that means it was the last day of National Poetry Month. I mentioned earlier that I had attended a poetry writers group at my local library for the first time. I was seeking input on one of my only recent poems–yes, the one about the harp. I’m not a prolific writer of poetry, but attending that one meeting has branded me as a poet.

On Tuesday evening, the library hosted a wonderful event. They were celebrating the publication of an anthology of poems from regional poets. A poem written by my friend Julia was chosen for the anthology! Julia, as well as two other women, read their poems for us. There’s something magical about hearing poetry read by its author.

Before the guest speaker was introduced, they asked each of the members of the poetry writers group if they had brought a poem to share. And they asked me first! I didn’t realize I would be asked and hadn’t come prepared. I was the only one who didn’t read a poem.

Todd Boss was the guest speaker. I didn’t know anything about him going into the event, but I walked away with a volume of his poetry. He read his poems, as the library director observed, with much mellifluousness. I would recommend his poetry to anyone. It was a pleasure to listen to him read poetry and tell stories. It was also a pleasure experiencing it in community and seeing other people’s reaction–especially to the funny poems.

I didn't take this photo, but the expressions are too good not to share! Photo Credit: Owatonna Public Library

I didn’t take this photo, but the expressions are too good not to share!
Photo Credit: Owatonna Public Library

Another blogger, Audrey, wrote a great account of the reading here.

As I was standing near the book table after purchasing Todd’s first book, Yellowrocket, Barb, a friend from church came up to the table to talk to him. She held up his second book, Pitch, which has a photo of an overturned piano on the cover.

“There’s actually a couple in Owatonna who had a piano fall off a trailer while they were moving it!” I overheard her tell him. I immediately jumped into the conversation–that couple is my parents!

When I was about five years old, my parents bought an upright piano. As they were bringing it home, it rolled right off the trailer and down a hill. And, as the story goes, it exploded. Just like that, my dreams of becoming a concert pianist were dashed. It’s a story that gets told every so often, and it apparently made an impression on Barb, although she didn’t remember just who it happened to.

We all had a good laugh, and I was glad that the story of the Boss Family piano turned out much better. He plays it to this day!

“Here,” he said, “Your parents need a copy of the book!”

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! [Two weeks early}

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! [Two weeks early]

What a generous and thoughtful gesture! If I hadn’t already decided that he was a new favorite poet, that would’ve sealed it. 🙂

On my way home, I stopped at my parents’ house to tell them the story, waiting until the end to reveal their gift. Of course, they loved it! Then, my dad proceeded to read aloud all four movements of Overtures On an Overturned Piano–a perfect end to National Poetry Month!

The poet and his gift.

The poet and his gift.

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I Brake for Harps

I was driving in the countryside
All was calm, but then I spied
A peculiar site–what a surprise!
There before my very eyes
A lonely harp glimmered and glowed
Right there–in the middle of the road!

There I braked in a bedazzled way
A harp is odd betwixt fields of hay
Bending, arching, standing tall
Its strings glittering, I heard it call:
Come out and sing a sacred hymn
Multitudes of cherubim!

What was that? I thought I heard
A choral harmony with bubbling words
Floating softly on a breeze
I froze, in awe, and went weak in the knees
As heavenly voices circled around
I tell you, my heart began to pound!

A lonely, arching harp is one thing
But, when unseen hosts join in to sing
Their melodies, piercing and strange
Beyond the human vocal range
Well, that doesn’t happen every day
I was scared, but had to stay.

The voices paused, I looked around
Not one angel made a sound
‘Til, “Who is this we have before us?
Strike the harp and join our chorus!”
Play I did, cause play I must
A song burst forth like a mighty gust:

Hallelujah! Glory be!
Worship God in harmony!
Praise the Father! Praise the Son!
Praise the Spirit, three in one!
Arching harps and trembling knees
Call us to rejoice in Thee!

[This is meant to be read out loud, with all the pomp and flourish of a young Anne Shirley…]

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April 15

April 15th: Finally–sunshine!

Spring has not yet sprung. It’s been a gloomy April, but tonight the clouds dispersed enough to allow for a brilliant sunset. It was good for this Minnesota girl’s heart, because the dreary, blustery cold has been downright depressing.

Last week, on a whim, I attended a meeting of the Poetry Writers Group at the local library. I don’t write much poetry, but I had one poem that I wanted some input on, one that I was determined to finally finish. I didn’t know what to expect, or if I would even be brave enough to read my silly rhyming poem to a bunch of strangers, who were most certainly Very Serious poets. Well, I did it–I read my poem to all three of the others who showed up. Even though all of them favor free verse, they were encouraging. They are also expecting me to show up to their monthly meetings, as well as a poetry reading later this month. Yikes!

On Saturday, I took my 4-year-old niece to the alpaca expo here in town. She just stared at the furry creatures and kept saying, “Wow.” Later she asked me why we went. I said I thought it would be fun and asked if she had fun. “Uh, I think so,” was her reply. I think she had more fun playing with my kitties, reading, coloring and watching Monsters, Inc. at my house afterward. 🙂 Here is one of her originals:

Here I am in my summer dress, with Dashwood on a leash. Belle is holding Zoey.

Here I am in my summer dress and teal crown, with Dashwood on a leash. Belle is holding Zoey.

Tonight after work, I stopped at the nursing home to visit with one of the residents. D is 47 and has been living in nursing homes since she suffered from a stroke at the age of 39. Tonight we watched news coverage on the Boston bombing (so sad!) and discussed, among other things, our favorite artists.

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Well, I did it. I committed, on a whim, to taking a photo every day in March to document the transformation of winter to spring in Minnesota. Little did I know that it would be the coldest March that I’ve ever experienced, or that we were in for consecutive bizzards. Winter just would not give in without a fight.

But here we are on the first day of April, and I’d guess that more than 85% of March’s snow is gone. The high in the Cities was 35° F and the Twins’ home opener was this afternoon. (They lost.) As I heard on the radio this morning, “Bundle up and go to the game. You’re Minnesotans, you can do it!” It might have been the coldest home opener ever.

I still plan to post occasional, but not daily, photos of this Minnesota spring.

Since April is National Poetry month, I’ll leave you with a poem I came across a few years ago.

Myra Cohn Livingston

Spring skips lightly
On a thin crust of snow,
Pokes her fragrant fingers
In the ground far below,
Searches for the sleeping seeds
Hiding in the cracked earth,
Sticks a straw of sunshine down
And whispers words to grow:
O seed
And root,
Send forth a tiny shoot!

Spring brings out her baseball bat,
Swings it through the air,
Pitches bulbs and apple blossoms,
Throws them where it’s bare,
Catches dogtooth violets,
Slides to meadowsweet,
Bunts a breeze and tags the trees
With green buds everywhere.
O April,
March and May,
Come watch us at our play!

Spring pipes at the peeper frogs,
mocks the mockingbird,
Hears a ring of harebells,
A mourning dove’s soft word,
Bubbles with stream waters,
Splatters with warm rain,
Listens to the rustling
A wakening breeze has stirred.
O Laugh
And sing,
Give welcome to Spring!

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