Thursday, December 4, 2014

SHIT PEARLS: INTERPRETIVE POETIC ESSAY

Facilitative dream image:
Numerous small shit pellets, shape and size of pearls, 
suspended in transparent plastic tumbler full of champagne.
Puzzled about process of returning shit pearls 
into body--NOT wanting to re-ingest by mouth.

iPad dictionary offers illuminating descriptors:

Excrement implies completion of metabolism.
Metabolism works in two related and differing processes:
(1) Destructive metabolism: breakdown of complex substances 
and consequent production of energy and waste matter.
(2) Constructive metabolism: synthesis of nutrients that form
tissues and store energy.
Complete metabolism requires both de-struction and con-struction. 

Next, consider pearls, precious and sought-after gems, 
given and worn for special occasions, graduations and weddings;
formed when oysters solve invasive irritation by surrounding
intruding sand with pearl juice. Metaphor about transforming
a negative experience into a positive outcome; 
about an irritant's becoming soothing comfort; 
about simple sand, the essential erosion of rocks into minute particles;
sand, transmuted into vaulted beauty and admirable aesthetics.

Plastic materials: synthetic or semi-synthetic organic
solids that become malleable; usually synthetic, commonly 
from petrochemicals, but many are partially natural.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plastic

Plastic, transformation of natural substance into
mundane and durable utilitarian items; 20th Century,
contemporary version of Medieval Alchemy.

In 1700 AD, Dom Pérignon, monk cellarmaster 
at the Abbey of Hautvillers, Reims, failed to complete 
fermentation before bottling and corking the wine. 
Dormant during winter, but, when spring arrived, the contents 
of the sealed bottles resumed producing carbon dioxide. 
Later that spring, the bottles of wine in the cellar exploded.
Sampling one bottle, Dom Pérignon called to his brethren,
declaring "Come quickly! I'm drinking stars!" 
http://www.wineperspective.com/making_champagne.htm

Champagne, elixir of celebration, achievement, unity.
Transformation of plant bloom into gaseous liquid.
Fermentation and distillation, containment of chemicals,
Until transformed into bubbling potion with legs.
Achemical process: creating one substance from another.

All four, metabolism, pearl-creation, plastics, and 
distillation, are chemical/alchemical processes:
combination; composition; re-formation, redemption;
synthesis of theses (rhymes with feces) and antitheses.
Easily converted into alchemical transformative metaphors:
Proverbial making sows' ears into silk purses;
Mythic Phoenix's self-incineration on funereal pyre, 
Followed by arising into recycled and renewed vigor.

But this is my dream. What ramifications for my developing life?

Associating brown excrement with translucent pearls,
suggestive of reclaiming and integrating shadow images, 
both positive and negative projected characteristics;
reclaiming and transforming both poles into generative energy and vigor.
Celebratory toasting with synthetic symbols of metabolized energy
suspended in liquid presented in non-special container, 
indicative of natural, organic process; marking the event of 
past, current, and future growth and progress along 
spiral navigation toward my center, my soul.
Retuning to my body: integrating and synthesizing all
Images and symbols into my subtle body and psyche.
Utilizing inner resources, becoming whole, renewed vigor.

Hopefully (holding my breath and crossing my fingers 
while knocking on wood), harbinger of forthcoming 
growing-up, differentiation, and, dare I say, (yes, I do),
individuation.

Godspeed, happy trails, and traveling mercies
To me and to each and every all of you too!

Ann B. Blake
(c) November 7, 2014

INSTEAD

None of my own poems since early November;
Not even reading beloved weekly New Yorker.

Poems erupt in my mind, sometimes and often
Patiently waiting until fingers meet keyboard.

Been reading Irish detective novel for Book Club *
And starting this month's book by courageous teen. **

Instead of writing and reading for my own pleasure,
For now, instead, honored to read new grad students'

Diligently-crafted courageous and poignant family histories,
Renditions of students' lives, embedded in theory;

Forging contextualized understanding,
Resulting in light bulbs of recognition;

Evoking soft tears and reclaimed projective responses,
Facilitating forgiveness of self and others; 

All in service of addressing unfinished family business,
The most crucial apprenticeship for counselors/therapists.

When fall quarter ends, in two weeks, I will be bereft and adrift,
Like missing characters in a completed and compelling novel:

Missing students' intimate grapplings with histories and futures.
Instead, I will return to my life, grieving and enriched.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) December 4, 2014

* The Likening by Tara French
** I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

THE GOLDEN RULE from multifaith perspectives

PfLAUM Publishing Group
5003 rev/7-05
Scarboro Missions - A Canadian Catholic Community of priests and lay people
Designed by Kathy VanLoon
Copyright - Paul McKenna -2000
Poster published by:
PfLAUM Publishing Group, 2621 Dryden Rd., Dayton, OH 45439 USA
Service@pflaum.com. www.Pflaum.com
ISBN 0-89837-249-6

Quoted from poster: clockwise from upper left, and back around to upper left

Baha'i Faith
Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.
Baha'u'llah, Gleanings

Hinduism
This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.
Mahabharata 5:1517

Buddhism
Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
The Buddha Udana-Varga 5.18

Confusionism
One word that sums up the basis of all good conduct...loving-kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.
Confucius Analects 15.23

Taoism
Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss.
Lao Tzu, T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien, 213-218

Sikhism
I am a stranger to no one;  and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all.
Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1299

Christianity
In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
Jesus, Matthew 7:12

Unitarianism
We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Unitarian principle

Native Spirituality
We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive.
Chief Dan George

Zoroastrianism
Do not do onto others whatever is injurious to yourself.
Shayast-na-Shayast 13.29

Jainism
One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.
Mahavira, Sutrakritanga

Judaism
What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah: all the rest is commentary.
Hillel, Talmud, Shabbat 31a

Islam
Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.
The Prophet Muhammad, Hadith

Monday, November 3, 2014

WEEKEND WITH WILMA

Friendship salad with crucial ingredients:
Relaxed companionship imbedded
In long-term knowledge of each other;
Foundation of enough-in-common values
Yielding fluid and win-win decisions;
Animated conversations explore
360 degrees of interests and creativity.

Serious problem-solver, dedicated conversationalist,
Even with complete and utter strangers, inserting
Her version and vision of the world, loaded with 
Heaps and gobs of data, weaving facts and information
Gleaned during world travels, voracious reading, 
TV documentaries, radio, DVDs, books on tape.

Observant humor that leaves me 
Leaning against convenient buildings,
Doubled over in peals and delights of laughter.

Recent whimsical perceptions and observations:

Re: train breakfast: Quite a massive portion--
Glaciers of oatmeal!

Re multitude of options: So many horses in the field.

Within descriptive fantasy paragraph about road conditions
While riding in a horse-drawn surrey: Non-macadamized roads.

Her: It's Saturday; we can do anything we want.
Me: We can do anything we want all the time, if we only knew that.
Her: Well, you have to stay with logical limits of the situation.

My balance is not as good as it used to be--I haven't played hockey for some time.

Most narratives finalized by quiet, 
Self-reflective inner glance, accompanied
By slight nod and affirming "uh huh,"
Assuring current summation or conclusion.

Loss of weekly church service connections
Morphed into longer mini-vacations:
Ashland's Shakespeare Festival or
Train trip to Portland's outdoor market,
Equally satisfying and enriching for the company.

My chosen Big Sis offers rich assets.
That's what friends are really for!

Ann Beth Blake
(c) October  30, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

MEN'S CLOTHING VS. WOMEN'S CLOTHING

Sans hips, men's slacks fit better than women's.
Men's apparel comes in actual sizes, thus 

Avoiding alteration of clothing item or of me.
Men's specificity of lengths and neck sizes

Limits the range of choices, in contrast to
Plethora of women's designs and colors.

Women have permission to wear men's clothes,
Thus I have freedom to choose fit OR fashion.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) October 9, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

MOON AND MOUNTAIN

Almost-full, wide-eyed, OH!-mouthed 
Luna hangs in cloudless eastern sky,
Just above pinkish-greyish horizon.

Luna's averted face conveys
Amazement and shyness, 
Responding to Rainier's beauty 
And barely-covered nakedness,
Clothed solely in glacial glissades.

Discomfort increases over two days
Until blush completely takes over
In Blood Eclipse; then, slowly, 
Two weeks hence, Luna disappears, 
Once again, into New moon status,
Restarting cycle of wax and wane.

Relationships, complicated by
Yearning and terror, autonomy and
Dependence, approach and avoidance,
Breathing in and breathing out,
Reflect celestial orb's natural cycles.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) October 6, 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014

ADVENTURES IN VICTORIA

Trek north to Victoria to see
Famous Jungian analyst;
Workshop focused on heart as
Inner compass: attend to activities
During which heart sings and 
Soul fills; time becomes timeless.

Ferry from Anacortes and back;
Drive through rampant rain, to,
Drive through motorcycles, fro.
Joe ferried us on land from
Place to place to place to place.

Synchronicities strewn along path: 
Penguin Coffee Shop, t-shirt for Lar;
Viking exhibit at Royal BC Museum;
Bagpipers regularly erupting in vicinity,
Once en masse down sidewalk.
Brochure for Seattle's Most BORING
Exhibit: SR 99 Tunnel Exhibit--amen!

Christ Church Cathedral, Quadra at Rockland,
Enormous new organ; 10 new astonishing 
Stained-glass windows abounding with angels.
Mid-morn service cancelled for later Feast of 
Dedication Celebration; priest available for personal
Tour to upstairs windows and downstairs crypt,
Winding narrow staircase, sans Black Madonna.

Quality Inn on Blanshard and Courtney.
Argyle Attic pub upstairs for scrumptious
breakfast, walls stenciled with phrases:

"Canada is like your attic; 
You forget what is up there, 
but when you go, it's like,
'Oh man, look at all this great stuff!'"

"This is how I used to be, pretty, eh?"

"There are few, if any, Canadian men 
who have never spelled their name
in a snow bank."

"I want to thank all the Canadians 
who came out today to wave to me 
with all five fingers."

Argyle Attic
777 Courtney Street
Victoria BC, Canada
V8W 1G3

HEART SINGING, SOUL FULL

Inner compass hums and thrills
While participating in soul-filling
And heart-expanding events. 

Timelessness points
Toward soulful actions.
I feel loving, and I feel loved.
Follow indicator every moment.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) October 4, 2014

TRIADIC COLORS

Embraced inside and outside
By trio/triad/three clear colors,
Rainbows first three bands,
Selected during paint chip 
Shuffling for condo remodel.

Soft, mute, palette soothes
As contextual container.
Yet bright, vibrant colors,
Mirror fire, focus, and direction.

Joyful, happy, exhilarated;
Vibrant, alive, active, pulsing;
Hot, mild, and cold.
Reflected in fruits, flora,
Plants, tints and dyes, 
Geological striations.

Chakras. 1, 2, and 3:
Root: life, survival, earth;
Sacral: order, sex, creativity;
Solar plexus: wisdom, power, life force.

Current multiple reflections:
Jacket, massage images,
Floral painting at lecture,
Sunday's altar flowers, 
Coffee shop decor.

Attention riveted,
Smiles beam and
Tears of joy flow, 
Heart sings,
Soul fills,
Paths open.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) September 27, 2014

VOLUPTUOUS RAINIER

In depth of night,
Haute couture designers,
With bolts of silk gauze,
Crept up Mt. Rainier,
Artistically draping her in
Diagonally asymmetrical 
Drooping and curved sashes,
Suitable for seducing 
Suitors courageous 
Enough to summit 
Her voluptuous terrain.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) October 6, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

LINT VIRUS

New red fleece jacket, not yet washed,
Sloughs and sheds red snowstorm of dots,
Molts gobs and clumps of red fuzz.

Like Charlie Brown's friend Pig Pen,
Leaves behind trails and traces and 
Wakes in car, coffee shop, and ferry.

Not crisis, just momentary annoyance.
Rectify confettied slacks with wet washcloth, 
But never, ever wear jacket again until 

Washing machine and dryer purge detritus and debris,
Hopefully not hopelessly clogging machines 
Beyond further and future helpful use.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) September 26, 2014

SLEEPLESS IN WOODINVILLE

Hour-long trek, 
Successfully, yet fretfully,  
Navigated.

Toss and turn,
Comfortable enough, 
But sleep eludes.

Too-late tea?
Stimulating day?
Anticipation of tomorrow?

None rings true.
Turn to tablet to write
Myself to sleep.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) September 25, 2014

Thursday, September 25, 2014

MANY-NAMED BROTHER

Because of long, unusual
Surname, all children given
Short names, specifically
Linked to one or more relatives.

Dan, second in overall birth order, 
First-born in second family, 
First son and first maternal grandson;
Named for Irish ballad,"Danny Boy," 
And Dad's middle name, already 
Converted from grandfather's "K" to "C," 
Germanic Karl to US Carl.

Childhood nickname, Danny,
Still rings true in my inner ears.
Upon becoming verbal, moniker
Morphed into How-Come Dan,
For obvious and pertinent reasons.

Gifted in all academic areas,
Landed on chemistry to explain
Entirety of intriguing world.
Chemistry to medical research to
Computers to ballistic telemetry--
It IS Rocket Science to him.
Cleverness earned him respect
And new descriptive nickname: 
Digital Dan or, for short, Dij.

During annual Holiday Mexico trip,
Sailing pals added final "O" to all
Travelers' names, resulting in adapted
Spanish version of Hawaii 5-0's Dano. 
(Mine, Anno, less successful, due to 
Too-closely-rhyming posterior anatomy.)

Freer now in retirement, he and 
Labrador pal, Jade, wander 
North from the Southwest, 
Seeking cooler climes, elk runs,
Golf courses, fishing ponds, 
Eatable birds, dog training trials, 
Scenic sights and sites, stopping 
Frequently to visit family and friends.

Unique blend of serious intent 
And boyish mischievousness.
After years of dedicated work, 
He plays with similar vigor, 
concentration, and joy.

All in all, Dan, by any and all other names,
Is still my next-sibling, my brother, Dan.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) September 25, 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

HAVE PSYCHE WILL TRAVEL

Ten-dollar words describe my praxis:
Peregrination, peripatetic, itinerant.

Original practice remains in Olympia,
In second location, stable for decades.

Seattle office moved from place to place, 
Sublets in Westlake, Queen Anne, Pioneer Square.

Current Seattle office shared with colleague,
Two days, come and go independently.

Recent addition of one hour in Tacoma,
House remodeled into sweet office.

Inner and outer flexibility echoed in multiple
Spaces in which to apply my professional craft.

Gratitude for generous and hospitable colleagues, 
Grateful for generative work that keeps me on the move.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) September 18, 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014

MINNESOTA IRON RANGE'S 5th P

How could I have omited 5th P from previous 
Poems about Summer, 2014, visit to hometown?

Cherished four Ps previously chronicled:
Potica, porketta, pasty, Sammy's pizza.

Lunch at hospitable cousin's lake cabin cum home;
Toured construction updates: kitchen, shed, sauna.

Companionate cousins shared chores, interests,
Professional careers, affection, light-hearted humor;

Relationships firmly grounded in lifetime of 
Congenial family gatherings in small hometown;

Grandparents and their two daughters, each with 
Four children, close enough for regularity of connection.

Our 2014 mid-day meal started, of course, with tea and potica.
Brother prepared beans and fried thinly-sliced camp potatoes,

Complemented with Walleye Pike (5th P) recently
Caught in Canada's pristine Boundary Waters.

During cleaning of fish, cousin generously added 
Refinement to delete pesky midline bones.

After shaking filets in thin batter of flour and spices, 
Capable fry cook soon delivered delicious local fare.

Nuthin' says Home like favorite childhood foods,
Iron Range' 5 Ps, served up and duly digested.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) September 13, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

DELAYED CLASS REUNION JOURNAL

Not much interest, but agreed to go.
Then whiny my re most of my inner 
Group of fiends not in attendance.
Friends of a friend, but not mine.

Frustrated at first to try to connect in
Loud, crowded corridor and rooms.
Too much chaos, no name tags,
People already grouped and laughing.

Old insecurities and jealousies erupted.
Then, on own initiative, connected with 
several people, getting more comfortable
And willing to engage and converse.

Few initiated with me, which, 
Again, prompted sadness, regret.
Yet, most people, pleased and willing to
Talk when I approached and inquired.

Once in high school building, erupted in
Joy and celebration, youthful playfulness,
And appreciation to be home, home, home.
Enveloping hometown ease and good will.

More and more comfortable and extraverted.
Said hello to almost everyone I recognized.
Actually, easier to initiative conversation with
Men rather than women--old insecurities.

In spite of natural introversion, shyness,
Residual self-imposed invisibility,
All in all, feel happy and satisfied with
Interactions and experiences.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) September 12, 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

WAITING FOR CROSSWALK LIGHT

In hot late afternoon sun,
Uncharacteristic for Washington, 

Two males patiently wait for long
Stoplight to change to "walk."

Younger man in jeans, T-shirt, and woolen cap,
Straddles bike, no sign of exertion.

Older man, in jogging shorts and 
Tank top, sweat gleaming on bald head.

Individual, unique autonomic responses to
Exactly same environmental context.

Each person, nonverbal in distinct universe, 
Although, actually, only two feet apart,

Connected and separate, alone
And together, silently sharing this moment.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) September 11, 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

URBAN CANYONS

Grew up in iron ore mining country,
Resplendent with rust-red canyons,
Excavated by enormous steam shovels;
Deeply-etched abyss miniaturized all
Equipment from ground-level perspective.

Viewed Grand Canyon on misty winter morn,
Mirroring person-dug canyon on Minnesota's
Iron Ore Range, Western edge of Arrowhead counties.
Vowed to return to float Colorado though Grand
Canyon--intention remains on Bucket List.

In recent years, Seattle streets echo inverted
Version of canyons, as high-rise buildings
Erupt upward from the surface, contrasted with 
Downward erosion via rivers and shovels which
Slowly or quickly break Earth's carapace.

Whether up or down, similar outcome: extinguished
Sunshine, relegating all to almost-constant shadow,
Decreased temperature, and pallid complexions.
To flourish and mature, plants need both light and shade.
Hopefully, plants and people can find vital balance of 
Rays and shadow in 21st Century industrial urban canyons.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) September 5, 2014

LEFT MY HOUSE LESS LADEN TODAY

Usually carry soft briefcase stitched 
Into multiple pockets and sections,
Enveloping paper professional calendar 
With shipping-tape tunnels for pen and pencil,
Crammed with concert and workshop flyers,
Seminar readings and academic journal articles,
Syllabi and course assignment lists,
Checks made out for weekly appointments and 
Monthly appointments and rent payments,
Collection of inspirational quotations,
To-do lists of tasks and shopping and
Phone calls and e-mail contacts;
Larger credit-card wallet and small cell-phone wallet;
Assortment of loose pens and pencils and markers;
Deck of cards, small writing tablet, Kleenex,
Necessary but seldom used toiletries,
First-aid supplies, 1-day quantity of meds;
iPad with charger and cords and portable
Hockey-puck-shaped internet connector.
Yielding sore shoulders and tight lower back muscles.

Today, left my house less laden, with only 
Mini red-and-white canvas carrier containing
Paper calendar and small cell-phone wallet.

Of larger symbolic importance, left my
House today feeling less laden by emotions
And concerns and complexes and frets.
Back and heart and mind, lighter and freer.

Left my house less laden today.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) September 5, 2014

SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE A CHILDLESS MOTHER

Billie Holliday crooned about being a motherless child;
In adolescence, accompanied myself on the piano,
Singing this tune at the top of my lungs to punish Mom.

Always assumed children were in my cards, but not so.
Have to be conscious of Mother/Heroine Archetypes,
Stay on track to balance nurturing and boundaries.

Full and rich professional and personal lives,
Bounty abounds, beauty surrounds, play sizzles.
Yet, sometimes, I feel like a childless mother.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) September 5, 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

PUBLIC AGING

My elders always said they felt younger than their
Age, although exteriors showed passage of time.

Similarly, as I approach my 8th decade, 
I feel 35-or-so years old--half my age!

During recent trips via public transportation,
Others offered a bus seat; sent my luggage

Ahead rather than my trudging down airline 
Passage, tugging bags via my own energy.

Proudly flaunting my salt-n-pepper hair undoubtedly 
Contributes to others' perceptions and assumptions of

Advancing age and progressing physical limitations,
Projecting their mothers and grandmothers onto me.

Although I appreciate considerateness and respect,
I am astounded by being treated like a little old lady.

Despite aching knees and early-evening fatigue,
I continue to feel vital, energetic, and capable of 

Great things: complicated and creative endeavors,
Jam-packed social calendar, and long reading lists.

Like recalcitrant children, self-perceptions lag behind 
Actual alterations and reality-based bodily changes.

Only ten years younger than my mother at her death,
Perhaps I can receive an occasional helping hand.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) August 25, 2014

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

SISTERS OF THE 'HOOD

Genetics, of course, leave marks.
Proximity, also, has influence.

Known since 7-years-olds, second grade;
One short-end-of-block between homes;
Frequent contact, daily during summers;
Taught me to ride a bike; matching sailor
Hats, yellow T-shirts, and tan Wrangler jeans;
After watching Charlie Chan, walking back
Home down middle of street at midnight.
Making up mnemonics to study biology.
Post-junior-college moves--last two
Baccalaureate years at state colleges in 
Southern Minnesota and Eastern North Dakota.
Got on with adult loves, work, and lives.

Christmas cards, occasional e-mails.
Reconnect at 50th High School Reunion
On Minnesota's Iron Ore Range. 
Shared childhood photographs.
Regular Sunday phone conversations.
Summer, 2014, All-Class Reunion,
Preceded by several days at her home, 
During which we discovered similarities.

Similar moral/ethical codes; 
Similar level of tidiness; 
Similar red decorative accents;
Same red frying pan;
Similar taste in clothing styles;
Same taste in clothing stores;
Same green earrings.
Similar easy laughter.
Emotional comfort in her company.
Physical comfort in her home.

Blood is thick; propinquity is powerful.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) August 12, 2013

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

EARTHLY STARS

Some women wear their 
Sensuousness like 
Sequined magenta gowns, 
All sparkling strut and stride,
Pulsating like a neon sign,
All "Hey, world, here I am!"

As a mystified and impressed 
Observer, these women seem 
To be about extreme attitude 
And absolute confidence, 
Willingness to be out in the open,
Embracing complete acceptance 
About whatever is unequivocally true.

From 40s, 50s, 60s Midwest,
Still searching for middle 
Ground of self-acceptance and
Visibility, I aspire to my own 
Sense-of-self, my own version of
Letting my inner light reflect outward.

In the meantime, I laud and 
Appreciate women who let their
Eminence shine brilliantly, intently,
And without self-conscious apology.

You go, woman! Roar and shine!

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 29, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

SHE'S DONE WELL

From same neighborhood 
And socioeconomic status,

Both single without children,
Variety of challenges.

She's made a good life
For herself: strong faith,

Interesting and contributive 
Employment, network of

Close friends, cozy home,
Cute pups, reliable car,

Attractive apparel, 
Warm sense of humor.

She is a supportive and 
Caring friend, which is

One of the best qualities 
Of a life well lived. Cheers!

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 22, 2014

SYNCHRONOUS TRAVELING

Closely-associated women's 
Menstruation usually synchronizes.

For women of a certain age, 
Sans monthly cycles, we find

Alternate unintentional linkage:
Pointing to chair cum table

As the Other says, "Table?"
Not reading minds, but being

In sync, on similar wave lengths.
Ahh and Awe and Odd. Satisfying.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 20, 2014

VILLAGE OF TWO WOMEN

Trek across West, from WA to CO
In four days. From verdant green to
Scrub-brush and tumbling weed; 
Rust-colored, wind-scored skeletal 
Cathedral spire relics; moonscape 
Tan-and-green layered pointed peaks.

Assisted packing; truck easily driven in
Two-hour rota; meals mostly from left-over
Largess in camping cooler; both of us 
Required to open/close rolling truck door to
Access first row of food and clothing supplies.

Second-story Motel 6 rooms to muffle
Others' noise. Accommodations
Good enough, but not repeatable any
Time soon. Learned from previous day
And flexible enough to incorporate each
New day's informative adventures.

Rough at end of trip as, first, I got ill, 
And then she got ill. Village of two offered
A spare as personal resources dwindled
To interdependence of capable individuals.

Working road trip through beautiful and 
Windy states; mission accomplished.
Fatigue followed by many requisite 
Hours of recuperative sleep and sleep.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 22, 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

MINNESOTA IRON RANGE'S 4 P's

Four characteristic, nay, iconic 
delicacies (porketta, potica, 
Pasty/pasties, and Sammy's pizza),
Indelibly identified with Hibbing, MN,
On The Mesabi Iron Ore Range, on
Western edge of the Arrowhead 
Area in Northeastern Minnesota.
See brief descriptions below;
Detailed recipes on separate pages.

In this collaboratively-cooperative
And richly-ethnic region, these
Delicacies appear at special family 
Celebrations and, this past week,
At Hibbing, MN All-School Reunion.

During the All-school Reunion in
Hibbing, Minnesota, my hometown,
The Iron Ore Capital of the World,
We shared Sammy's Special pizza 
At Sammy's Pizza on Howard Street. 
The establishment now offers non-
Traditional gluten-free pizza crust.

Founded in 1954 and previously
Located across the street, we teens
Gathered at Sammy's on weekend
Nights, sharing an order of fries and,
Occasionally, an illicit cigarette;
Plugging the Juke Box to hear latest hits;
Observing and, hopefully, being observed.

On his way home from the Corner Bar,
At Howard Street and First Avenue,
Just across the street from Sammy's,
Dad often ordered Sammy's Special,
Sausage and green onions, cut into
Squares rather than slices, each square 
Containing small meat balls of spicy sausage.
When Dad left remainders on stove top
(Sans the convenience of microwaves),
We gladly feasted on room-temperature 
Sammy's Special pizza for breakfast. 

At summer picnics, Fourth of July and 
Summer birthdays, Auntie Jeanne
Often served porketta sandwiches
And potica in their backyard or 
At their cabin on Sturgeon Lake.
Both delicacies came from town stores:
Fraboni Sausage, Inc. and Sunrise Bakery.

Remainder of shared edibles came from
Competent kitchens of Auntie Jeanne, 
Grandmas Blake and Miettunen, and 
Mom: potato salad, jello of varied colors,
Hot dishes, watermelon, and cakes.

Families and friends met regularly at 
Dining room tables and outdoor picnic 
Tables to celebrate annual family, 
National, and church holidays,
Sharing cultural and regional fare.

Our senses chronicle our history and 
Specifically evoke gustatory memories.
European immigrants seeking work
In iron ore mines, brought rich family
Recipes to Northeastern Minnesota,
Spicing childhood taste buds 
As well as adult reminiscent images.

I adore my hometown. I appreciate
Opportunities to rekindle friendships
With relatives and peers and to feast
On familiar food and evocative sights.
Home is where my heart resides.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 14, 2014

http://mnsandwiches.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/the-iron-range-pasties-and-porketta-tour-in-photos/

PORKETTA: spiced pork roast, eaten on hard rolls (from Sunrise Bakery) with mayo and mustard.
L.G. Fraboni Sausage, Inc.
FRABONI'S
https://www.frabonis.com/
Producer and retailer of various sausage such as Bratwurst, Polish, and Italian Sausage.
1202 13th Ave E, Hibbing, MN
Jeanne Cooney ( http://www.jeannecooney.com/), Minnesota mystery writer offers recipe found at web site and on separate page in this blog.
http://www.jeannecooney.com/index.php/margies-recipes/other/item/97-porketta-seasoning

POTICA: thinly rolled dough spread with cinnamon and walnuts, then rolled into a loaf; served best with hot, black coffee at mid-morn--or anytime at all.
SUNRISE BAKERY
http://www.sunrisebakery.com/
1813 3rd Ave E, Hibbing, MN
Recipe at web site below and on separate page in this blog.
http://www.lakesuperior.com/lifestyle/food/316recipebox/

PASTY (short "a"): originally home baked for laborers' (Mesabi Range iron ore 
miners) lunches: thick, sturdy pie crusts filled with meat and vegetables, including potatoes and rutabagas. Stays hot until lunch, a complete package eaten without need for utensils.
Best childhood location: Finnish Lutheran Church on 7th Avenue on Wednesdays.

Pasty Recipes at website below and on separate page in this blog.
www.hu.mtu.edu/vup/pasty/
 
SAMMY'S SPECIAL PIZZA
SAMMY'S PIZZA & RESTAURANT
http://mysammys.com/
106 E Howard St, Hibbing
Sammy's Special: square cut sausage, green pepper, and onion pie

MINNESOTA IRON RANGE PORKETTA RECIPE

Porketta: spiced pork roast, eaten on hard rolls (from Sunrise Bakery) with mayo and mustard.
L.G. Fraboni Sausage, Inc.
1202 13th Ave E, Hibbing

Jeanne Cooney ( http://www.jeannecooney.com/), Minnesota mystery writer offers the following recipe:
http://www.jeannecooney.com/index.php/margies-recipes/other/item/97-porketta-seasoning

Dry rub porketta, or porchetta, seasoning recipe from the Iron Range.

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. basil
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. cracked fennel seeds
1/2 Tbsp. thyme

Mix together well. Rub on a pork roast before roasting in the oven or grilling.
Recipe submitted by Pam Petron, on behalf of her cousin, Juliann Armbrust, who grew up in Hibbing and is now a FACS teacher in Medford, Wisconsin. Juliann often talks about how she misses the porketta from the Iron Range.

MINNESOTA IRON RANGE POTICA RECIPE

Potica: thinly rolled dough spread with cinnamon and walnuts, then rolled into a loaf; served best with hot, black coffee at mid-morn--or anytime at all.
Sunrise Bakery
1813 3rd Ave E, Hibbing, MN

Recipe at web site below and on separate page in this blog.
http://www.lakesuperior.com/lifestyle/food/316recipebox/

Slovenian Walnut Potica
This recipe is from the cookbook, Cooking on the Range, submitted by Jean Karsman of the Slovenian Women’s Association of Chisholm, Minnesota. (Many jealously guard their potica secrets.)

Yeast Mixture
5 tsp. dry yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. warm water
In a one-cup measure, dissolve yeast in warm water, add sugar, stir and let bubbles form on top.
Combine the ingredients to make the dough. Separate into two parts to make the top and bottom crusts for a 9-inch pie plate.

Dough Mixture
1-1/2 c. scalded milk (1 minute in microwave) Can use half as canned milk or half-and-half cream.
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 stick margarine
2 beaten eggs
6-1/2 to 7 cups flour (Jean uses Gold Medal regular)

Scald milk and margarine in microwave for 1 minute, add sugar, salt, eggs and yeast mixture. Stir and add flour, beginning with 6 cups, then gradually adding more flour until dough is no longer sticky.
Knead – with a dough hook or by hand on floured board for about 20 minutes until smooth. (Jean does half with dough hook at a time, and then kneads all for several minutes to combine.) Place in well-greased large bowl, cover and let rise in warm place or put bowl in hot tap water, changing water frequently to keep hot. (No kneading after dough is risen to top.) Line three pans with parchment paper. (Jean has 14-inch pans, so she makes three strips out of one batch as her table is 42 inches.) Spray paper with cooking spray such as Pam.

Filling
6 c. ground walnuts (about 1-1/2 lbs.)
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
3 eggs beaten with 1 tsp. almond flavoring
1 c. scalded cream or canned milk with 1 stick real butter melted in and 1/2 c. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon

Add hot liquid to ground walnuts that have been mixed with sugars and cinnamon. Stir well, add eggs.
Return to bread dough, which should plop, not run. Carefully dump dough onto table that has been covered with a twin sheet or table cloth and lightly floured. Start with a rolling pin, rolling the dough to a rectangle about 24 by 36 inches. Then stretch dough to 42 by 60 inches or to your table size. Cut off any thicker edges. Drop filling by large spoonfuls over two-thirds of the dough (using hands spreads easiest and most uniformly.) Spread evenly to edges and pick up short edge of cloth and gently roll over and over itself.
Cut into pan-size strips and patch with leftover thin dough or cut with a small plate and pinch ends shut. Place in prepared pans and prick with cake tester (or turkey pin) to prevent air bubbles. Cover and let rise about 40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325° F or 350° F depending on oven. Bake 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown. (Jean bakes hers at 340° F for about 35 minutes.) Remove from oven and let cool in pans for 20 minutes. Carefully dump out in hand, remove paper and set on a cooling rack. Cover with a cotton cloth and cool. (Jean wraps hers in plastic wrap and then freezer foil.) Freezes well for up to six months.

MINNESOTA IRON RANGE PASTY RECIPE

Pasty (short "a"): originally home baked for laborers' (Mesabi Range iron ore 
miners) lunches: thick, sturdy pie crusts filled with meat and vegetables, including potatoes and rutabagas. Stays hot until lunch, a complete package eaten without need for utensils.
Best childhood location: Finnish Lutheran Church on 7th Avenue on Wednesdays.

Pasty Recipes at website below and on separate page in this blog.
www.hu.mtu.edu/vup/pasty/
 
Original Pasty
     3 c. flour
     1 1/2 sticks butter (cold and cut into bits)
     1 1/2 tsp. salt
     6 tbsp. water
 In a large bowl, combine flour, butter and salt.  Blend ingredients until well combined and add water, one tablespoon at a time to form a dough.  Toss mixture until it forms a ball.  Kneed dough lightly against a smooth surface with heel of the hand to distribute fat evenly.  Form into a ball, dust with flour, wrap in wax paper and chill for 30 minutes.
 Filling
     1 lb. round steak, coarsely ground
     1 lb. boneless pork loin, coarsely ground
     5 carrots, chopped
     2 lg. onions, chopped
     2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
     1/2 c. rutabaga, chopped (can substitute turnip)
     2 tsp. salt
     1/2 tsp. pepper
 Combine all ingredients in large bowl.  Divide the dough into 6 pieces, and roll one of the pieces into a 10-inch round on a lightly floured surface.  Put 1 1/2 cups of filling on half of the round.  Moisten the edges and fold the unfilled half over the filling to enclose it.  Pinch the edges together to seal them and crimp them decoratively with a fork.  Transfer pasty to lightly buttered baking sheet and cut several slits in the top.  Roll out and fill the remaining dough in the same manner.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Put 1 tsp. butter through a slit in each pasty and continue baking for 30 minutes more.  Remove from oven, cover with a damp tea towel, cool for 15 minutes.
 Milwaukee Journal March 28, 1943  Welsh
 
 Michigan Tech Dining Services Pasty Recipe
This recipe makes 10 pasties.
Put about 12 oz filling in each crust.
Dough:
3 1/2 flour
9 oz shortening
10 oz cold water
1TBl+1 tsp salt
 Filling:
3 1/2# potatoes,peeled
1 1/2# coarse ground pork
12 oz coarse ground beef
9 oz diced onions
8 oz diced carrots
7 oz diced rutabaga
1/4# butter
1TBl salt
1Tbl pepper
 Chop the carrots and onions. Dice the potatoes and rutabagas in a 3/8-inch dice. Mix all the filling ingredients together and set aside. Mix the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening, as for pie crust. Add the water and mix gently just until the dry particles are absorbed; do not over mix.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.On a floured surface, roll 4-ounce balls of dough into circles about the size of a dinner plate. Put about 12 ounces of filling on one half. Dampen the edges, fold crust over filling, and seal.Place on greased baking sheets (or use baking paper). Place in oven and bake for one hour. Serve with either catsup or gravy.
 
Meat and Vegetable Pasty
 Brown ½ lb cubed lamb or beef in 2 tbsp fat.  Remove from heat add 2 cups diced,
raw potatoes, 1 ½ cups dried raw carrots one cup diced celery and leaves, 1
tbsp salt ¼ tsp. pepper mix thoroughly.  Make rich dough by sifting 4 cups
flour, 4 tsp. baking powder 1 ½ tsp. salt. cut in ¾ cup shortening.  Add milk
to make a soft dough.
To make a meat and vegetable pasty, brown one-half pound cubed lamb or beef in two tablespoons fat.  Remove from heat and add two cups diced raw potatoes, one and one-half cups dried raw carrots, one cup diced celery and leaves, one tablespoon salt and one-fourth teaspoon pepper and mix thoroughly.  Make a rich dough by sifting together four cups enriched flour, four teaspoons baking powder and one and one-half teaspoons salt.  Cut in three-fourths cup shortening.  Add milk to make a soft dough-about one and three-fourths to two cups.  Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently one-half minute.  Roll one-fourth inch thick.  Cut into 8” rounds.  On half of each round put one cup filling.  Fold other half of round over filling, sealing edge firmly with finger tips or fork.  Bake on an un-greased baking sheet in a 375 degree oven 50 to 60 minutes.  This makes six large pasties.
 
Cornish Pasty
 Crust - 3 cups flour, 1 cup finely ground suet 1/4 cup lard 1 tsp. salt
6-7 tb. cold water
 Filling - 1lb beef (cubed or diced) 1/2 lb. pork, potatoes, turnip, onion,
parsley, some finely grated carrots are optional
 Blend lard into flour, preferably with pastry blender.  Add suet which has been finely ground.  Work in thoroughly with flour mixture.  Add cold water to make soft dough, just a little bit more moist than ordinary pastry dough but not as soft as biscuit dough.  Divide dough into four pieces and roll each piece out to size of dinner plate.  On one half of the rolled out dough build up the ingredients as follows a half-inch layer of finely chopped potatoes; season with salt and pepper.  Follow with a thin layer of sliced turnip, then a very thin layer of chopped onion and sprinkle with parsley.  Cover with about one fourth of mixed cubed beef and pork and season once more.  Top with piece of butter about the size of a walnut.  Now fold uncovered portion of dough over filled and crimp edges.  Your pasty is now somewhat in the shape of a half moon.  Make a one-inch slit in the top of the dough and place prepared pasty on a greases cookie sheet or a pie pan and put in the oven.  Bake at about 400 degrees for an hour.
 
Happiness Pasty
 Blend lard into flour.  Add the suet which has been ground through a food chopper, using finest cutter.  Work in thoroughly with flour mixture.  Add cold water to make a soft dough (more moist than pastry but not as soft as biscuit dough).
        Divide dough into four pieces and roll out each piece to about the size of a dinner plate.  On one half of the rolled-out dough, build up the ingredients as follows.
 1.         A half-inch layer of finely chopped or sliced potatoes seasoned with salt and pepper.
2.         A thin layer of sliced turnips.
3.         A very thin layer of chopped onions.
4.         A quarter of the mixed beef and pork and season once more.
5.         A piece of butter about the size of a walnut.  Now fold the uncovered portion of the dough over the filled portion and crimp the edges half-moon shape.  Make a one-inch slit in top of the dough and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet in 400-degree oven for one hour.
 
Finlandia Pasties
 Ingredients
 4 cups flour, dash salt, 1 ½ cups solid vegetable shortening 1 cup cold water
 Filling
 ½ lb ground beef ½ lb ground pork ¼ cup beef suet finely chopped
1 large potato peeled and cut into 3/8 in. cubes.  2 carrots peeled cut into
3/8 inch cubes  1 small red onion finely diced, ½ rutabaga or turnip peeled and
cut into 3/8 inch cubes. 1/8 cup fresh parsley finely chopped
  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all remaining ingredients in large bowl, using hands to mix until thoroughly combined, like meat loaf.
Divide dough into four equal parts.  Using a rolling pin on a floured board, roll each into an 8-inch to 10-inch circle.  Place 1 cup of filling in center of circle.  Fold both sides up and crimp firmly, forming a half-moon shape.
 Use a large spatula to lift each pasty from floured board, and set it on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake 75 minutes, until brown remove to wire rack.  Serve on plates, with gravy on the side if desired.  Yield: 4 meal size pasties.
 
(Ms. Wilson)
Pasties Michigan style (still from mines to supermarket)
 4 cups flour
salt 1 1/4 cups lard, chilled and cut into 1/4 inch bits
10 to 12 tablespoons ice water
2 pounds top round steak trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
5 medium potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 medium turnips, scraped and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
 In large, chilled bowl combined flour, 2 teaspoons salt and lard.  Working quickly, rub flour and fat together with fingertips until it looks like flakes of coarse meal.  Pour in 10 tablespoons ice water, toss together and gather dough into a ball.  If dough crumbles, add up to 2 tablespoons more water, a teaspoonful at a time, until the particles adhere.  Divide dough into 6 equal balls, dust them with flour, wrap in waxed paper and chill 1 hour.
 Combine beef, potatoes, onions, turnips, 1 tablespoon salt and pepper and mix well.  On lightly floured surface, roll out one ball of dough at a time into a rough circle about 1/4 inch thick.  Using a plate or pot lid about 9 inches in diameter as a guide, but the dough into rounds with a pastry wheel or sharp knife.  Place about 1 1/2 cups mixture in center of round and spread to make a center strip.  Fold one side of the round over that and press edges together snugly at one end.  Starting from the sealed end, press the two edges of the round together to encase the filling securely and form a double-thick band of dough about 1/2 inch wide along the seam across the top.  With your fingers crimp together.  Carefully transfer with large spatula to un-greased baking sheet.  Repeat the process with remaining dough and filling.  Cut small slashes on tops.  Bake in preheated 400 degree oven about 45 minutes or until pasties are golden brown.  Make six 9 inch pasties.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

HOME AGAIN

No place like home, for sure.
Red-eye to MPLS; after several 
hours of fitful sleep, magically,
Morning in Minnesota.

From airport, capable retiree, Doug, 
Drives van past Fort Snelling National Cemetery;
I wave and send love to Dad and Bea.
Angling northwest, along intermittently
Visible Mississipi, headwaters further north.
Other passengers: salt-of-the-earth folks,
Friendly yet reticent, too shy to initiate, 
Too polite to completely ignore one another.
Full confidence in Doug's no-nonsense,
Feet-on-the-ground, approach to transport.

Familiar business names: earliest Target,
Caribou Coffee, Mall of America;
Huge American flag signals Perkin's;
One red rose indicates Herberger's;
Radisson Hotel displays original 
Double ess Scandinavian spelling.

Medium-height forests of deciduous trees.
Good roads, due to two seasons:
Winter and subsequent Road Construction.
Blue and white license plates with 
small canoe above numbers/letters.

Prairie extends on all sides,
Vistas for miles and miles.
Small farm towns dot horizon,
Breadbasket of United States;
Grain silo in each small farm town.
Two-story stucco homes, wide
Boulevards, prominent bright flowers.

Soft sunshine in post-solstice glow.
Robin's egg blue, cloudless skies
Reflected in 10,000 lakes, 
Inviting a short or long swim,
Home to trilling loons and
Cooing Mourning doves.
Lakes and lakes and lakes.

Pleased smile as memories, images,
And sounds flood senses.
Eagerly and confidently anticipate
Experiences of next six days.

MN magic works on me: smile more easily;
Soft-muscle calmness and relaxation;
Eyes relaxed rather than alert and wary;
Breathe more deeply in crisp, fresh air.
Home again; home again; home again.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 8, 2014

SLEPT LIKE A BABY

An aspect of sustained independence:
Disquieting solitary sleep, thief of
Rejuvenating night-time respite.

Various attempted remedies offer
Unreliable relief: novels, crosswords,
Late-night TV's too-familiar re-runs.

When visiting friends, relaxation and sleep
Visit me at bedtime, hospitable ushers into
Uninterrupted hours of peaceful slumber.

Gratitude for both/and experiences, both ends of
Continuum: soaring freedom of independent life AND
Invaluable contribution of comforting companionship.

Again quoting clever Shakespeare's Macbeth (II, 2, 3):
"Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast."

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 9, 2014 

Monday, July 7, 2014

TOO TIRED

Quarter over, graduation celebrated;
On verge of three short journeys;
Upcoming six-month sabbatical;
Two days ill, long sleeps, but not
Quite enough as yet and for now.

Shakespeare's apt description:
MACBETH, Act 2, Scene 2, Page 3:
"Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast."

More Shakespeare, Hamlet, act 3, Scene i, Pages 65-68:
"To sleep, perchance to dream--ay, there's the rub."
'Tho not sharing Hamlet's deep despair and fear of dreams,
Yearn for long, reparative sleep and illustrative dreams to
Knit and clarify, to soothe and reassure, to calm and heal.

Do not read despair or retreat 'tween lines,
Merely surprising, overwhelming fatigue that 
Arrives at completion of arduous push, when body
And mind at last relax and momentarily collapse.

Oh! For summer-afternoon nap in hammock at lake's edge;
Soft breezes ruffling hair, birds sweetly tweeting;
Animal-shaped clouds wafting ever eastward;
Breathing deepening and slowing;
Sentences simply shortening;
Sleeping and dreaming.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 7, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

DAD'S D-DAY

Second Dad fought in
Second day of WWII D-Day.

Never spoke about war,
'Tho might have if lived

Beyond short 47 years;
Died in 1968, heart defect

Undoubtedly curable by
Today's medical marvels.

During teens, Mom and I 
Stayed up late watching

Sentimental WWII movies,
Evoking tears and regret,

But no conversations with Dad; 
All 3 dads, Greatest Generation.

Although hate contemporary 
War movies that prompt sobs,

Watched "Saving Private Ryan"
For possible glimpse into Dad's 

Experiences on French beaches,
Uncertain whether on land or in air.

Had Dad survived into old age,
Might have told dreadful stories:

Bodies floating off shore,
Horrific carnage on shore;

Intolerable terror contrasted
With Yanks' can-do spirit and 

Youthful intrepid invincibility;
Duty conflicted with death.

We send our young to fight 
Political, ideological, financial

Battles, sacrificing generations 
To protect our present, yet

Putting our future in danger, our
Potential in peril, again and again.

In May, June, September, November, 
And December, we specifically honor 

Casualties: premature, mid-life, late deaths;
Of all wars; in Honolulu; in New York,

Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania;
And on occupied French beaches.

Small wonder the allure of bombs,
Missiles, stealth aircraft, and drones

That protect aggressors while also
Destroying people and products.

May freedom ring,
May peace and justice prevail.

Ann Beth Blake
(c)  June 6, 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

NEW SPELLING

Today, had to pull out iPad 
To confirm spelling of 90:
Neither ninty nor ninety
Looked correct to editing eyes.

Although requiring persistent
Practice, spelling has been 
Reliable, except for uncertainty

About middle e in some words:
Judgement (judgment) and 
Acknowledgement (acknowledgment).

Wonder of wonders, iPad
Accepts both spellings, 'tho
Preferring g sans e, looking odd;

Proving, once again, the old
Adagement (grin and chuckle):
Learn something new every day!

Ann Beth Blake
(c) June 2, 2014

REMEMBRANCES

Minnesota Memorial Days,
First holiday heralding summer,
Prior to school's out, but
Harbinger of freedom soon.

With grandparents, visited
North Hibbing Cemetery,
Brought flowers to gravesides:
Great-grandparents, great uncles;
Then, sister; moved her casket to
New South Hibbing Cemetery with 
Dad, then grandparents and Mom.

Always swam on Memorial Day,
Irrespective of water temperature.
Family picnics at grandparents' 
Cabin on Side Lake, later at 
Cousins' cabin on Lake Sturgeon;
Walking five miles to Kelly Lake.

Frantically busy waitressing at 
High school/junior college job,
Riverside Inn near chain of lakes,
With Ad and Dom, Rosie, Squirty, 
And changing cast of college-age pals.

In adulthood, much-appreciated
Three-day weekend, excuse for
Short road trips to mountains or
Ocean beaches, but, recently,
Just respite for too-busy life.

This year, more reflective mood
Offers vibrant images, memories
Of people now passed, this poem
To commemorate loved ones.

Rest in peace, Beloveds; 
I miss you; I send much love,
Ann

Ann Beth Blake
(c) May 26, 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

WE LOST OUR VOICE TODAY

Dr. Maya Angelou is at rest, 
Her powerful voice quieted.

Soulfully narrating her 86 years,
She also narrated the lives of everyone.

Beacon for African American women:
Gwen and her daughters and nieces,

Nikki Giovanni, Alice Walker, Opra Winfrey, 
Gayle King, Toni Morrison, bell hooks;

For women of color, all women, 
For all men, indeed for all people.

She accepted the Presidential
Medal of Freedom in the name of

All immigrants, listed by country
Of origin, encompassing all

People who were violently stolen 
Or escaped poverty and oppression.

She included all of us in her 
Words and in her loving arms,

Gave voice to every human moment,
Celebrated Clinton's inauguration.

At Seattle's Paramount Theater, 
Being in her splendid presence,

Tears streamed throughout
Her speaking, singing, and poeting.

In her radiating regalness, she spoke
Plainly and directly to each of us.

One side of the same coin:
Eloquent and accessible;

Suffering and laughing; 
Humble and courageous;

Affectionate and blunt;
Gregarious and solitary.

Maya already abides in Heaven,
Awaiting any and all who make the cut.

We lost our voice today.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) May 28, 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014

ONE YEAR, CLEAN AND CLEAR

One year, post-diagnosis,
First follow-up mammogram.
Due to continued tenderness in
External and internal surgical sites,
Mostly concerned about possibility 
Of increased squish-factor pain.

Another in long chain of wonderful
Outcomes: less than a week prior to
Mammogram, tenderness and swelling
Abated, resolved, disappeared.

This time, no waiting due to need to slow down,
Clarify, increase diligence, take a closer look,
Enhance careful screening, make certain, be sure.

Within 10 minutes, with smiles and reassuring pats,
Good news: no sign of cancer; clean bill of health.
Medicos and treatments did the job: extra cells, gone!
"See you in a year for next follow-up!"

Exhaled relief; broad grin of exhilaration; 
Jubilating spring in my step; rapid phone calls 
To relay positive results; continued celebrations.

As always, deep gratitude to The Divine, The Family,
The Team of Friends, and The Medical Folks one and all.

Ann B. Blake
(c) May 8, 2014

HAIR!

Trio of high school lads,
Jogging down city street,
Turning out for cross-country.

First lad's tightly-curled locks,
Not a strand moved as he ran,
Everything contained and ordered, 
Matching his meticulous cadence.

Second lad's medium-length, 
Slightly-curled bob, cautiously
Bouncing up and down in regulated 
Rhythmic repeat of careful steps.

Third lad's middle-of-back cascade:
Independently, joyously, randomly
Floating in front of, around, and behind
With each buoyant leap forward.

Each boy's idiosyncratic hair style
matching his characteristic running gait,
Affirming freedom of personal expression.

"Flow it, show it, long as God can grow it!"
Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical,
James Rado, Gerome Ragni, and Galt McDonald

Ann B. Blake 
(c) May 11, 2014

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

SWEET SEND-OFF

Twenty-year soulful ride with
Friendly companionate travelers 
On Jungian road to education,
Increased consciousness,
And community connection.

First-wave, "gang of eight,"
Paved organic foundation:
Designed and implemented
Container for personal involvement
And professional enhancement
Of like-minded practitioners.

Second-wave sustained while
Many of first-wave attended 
Jung School to become analysts.
Charter members intuitively morphed
Guidelines, formats, and offerings to
Accommodate changing topography.

Third wave of newer and younger 
Members maintained original map
While refining and updating via
Technological frontage roads
And innovative short cuts.

As 20th Anniversary loomed,
Fourth wave invested bold
Assessment and redirection.
Twentieth Celebration infused
Vibrant energy and creativity.
Opportunity for Old Guard to
Step back, confident that JPA
Is in good health, good hands,
And that well-traveled road is
Sturdy, stable, and sustainable.

To my professional family, 
Thanks for generous and 
Generative celebration of 
New day on same road.

Godspeed, Happy Trails,
And Traveling Mercies.
And deep love and gratitude.

Ann Blake
(c) May 7, 2014

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

SEATTLE SPRING

In Seattle coffee shop, 
Two college-age women 
Mull over beverages
And lecture notebooks,

One in dark red galoshes,
The other in rubber sandals,
Typical of informal Northwest,
Reflective of variable weather.

Puget Sound offers gamut of
Wind, rain, sun, overcast, fog
Damp cold, temperate heat.
You name it, it visits us.

"If you don't like Seattle's
Weather, wait a few moments,
The opposite will appear."
And, sure enough, it does.

Weather, like so much of life, is
Unpredictable. Because climate is
Our envelope, we chat endlessly 
About contrasts and inconveniences.

Ann B. Blake
(c) April 29, 2014

Sunday, April 27, 2014

QUICK QUIPS

Because both my dads had clever and 
Quirky humor, I thoroughly enjoy dry wit.
Specific interactions offer me huge pleasure,
Tickle my funny bone, and contradict my
Sometimes-waning confidence in humans.

In my 20s and 30s, I liberally sprinkled my 
Conversations with variations  of "f:" as verbs,
Adjectives, nouns, and hyphenated words.
After a particularly vitriolic, yet playful, diatribe,
One of my grad school pals wondered aloud:
"Do you eat with that mouth?"
Bent over with mirth, I didn't change right
Away, but, later, when I cleaned up my 
Vocabulary, I credited that friend's feedback.

I take the longest baths and shortest showers.
When I quickly emerged from my daily ablutions,
My hostess, looking puzzled, inquired of me:
"Did you wash ALL your parts?"

Purchasing supplies for my annual sharing of
Maunday Thursday Communion with my mentors,
I bought two righteous whole-grain dinner rolls, and 
I broke up a Sauvignon mini 6-pack to buy just one
Three-ounce bottle of red wine--enough for four
Individual servings of The Body and The Blood.
The cashier, distracted by struggling to enter sales tax 
Numbers in his recalcitrant cash machine, eventually
Looked up at me with all seriousness to offer:
"Just in case you need more, we're open 'till 8 pm."

We humans are creative, destructive, kind, demeaning,
Supportive, critical, sad, joyful, wise, ignorant. The trait
That is supremely important to me: dry, quick quips.

Ann B. Blake
(c) April 27, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

SHY LUNA

Instead of risking exposure to voyeuristic observation
During Earth's stealthy stripping of Sol's mirrored rays,

At sundown, reticent Luna drew initial shroud of 
Clouds to cloak upcoming Blood Moon eclipse.

At first, she selected striated sheer gossamer,
Leaving splashy-tailed trail of reflected white.

Half hour later, newly-absconded atmospheric layers 
Left only remnant of smudged opaque ivory orb.

By midnight, Luna had accessed dense overcast,
Pre-empting Earth's obliteration of loaned light.

Within cloaked privacy, Luna endured sequential 
Steps of involuntary and temporary nakedness.

Where cloud disguises unavailable, lovely Luna's
Orbed blush expressed her bared embarrassment.

In next 18 months, Luna must undergo three more
Stints of being robbed of her borrowed yet glowing gown.

Humans too, more or less, clothe their nakedness. Like Luna,
We sometimes feel vulnerable in our original natural state.

Ann B. Blake
(c) April 15, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

GUTSY CRISS

Clear commitment to social justice,
Translated into compassionate action.

Creative aesthetic vision applied to internal
Landscapes; living spaces; and global environs.

In personal health challenge, dedicated to investigation
Of purpose and to confluence of inner/outer metaphors.

Continuous devotion to personal best; constantly engaged;
Carpe Diem; full-tilt boogey; no holds barred; strong focus.

Intently held, as she holds others, in loving embrace of
Daughter, family, neighbors, friends, and beloved dog, Belle.

The journey is THIS journey, uniquely designed for You,
Formulated for your optimal growth and development.

Know that I love you. Know that I am a companionate
Traveler. Know that I invest energy in all your highways.

Ann B. Blake
(c) April 14, 2014

Friday, April 11, 2014

EMERALD RING

Proffered during dream state,
From unknown emissary;
Fascinating and riveting beauty,
Gracing ring finger of left hand.

Originally meant to come in 5th year 
Of long-ago, mid-30s, failed marriage.
Now re-emerges in Emerald City, adulthood home,
During year of multitudinous transitions.

Green beryl mined in southern climes,
Deepest green more valuable than diamonds.
Sacred stone of Venus' hope, faith, and love.
Earth's gift; archetypal enhancement.

Power, heightened in Spring and at full moon,
Brings comfort in troubled times; bearer of wisdom and reason;
Healer of heart and eyes; adds harmony to relationships.
Symbol of survival and of healing and of future well-being.

Puzzlement: Wherefore? and From whom?
Dazzling adornment, graciously accepted.
Recognition of inner and outer achievement.
Let go, receive; simply give thanks, praise, and gratitude.

Ann B. Blake
(c) April 11, 2011

Monday, April 7, 2014

FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT

BUMPER STICKERS

Non-judgement Day is Near

I Might Be Old, But I Saw the Best Bands

LICENSE PLATE SURROUND

Em Eye See, Kay Eee Why, Em Oh You Ess Eee

Friday, March 28, 2014

AFTERMATH CONTINUES

Fourteen weeks later, awaken to clarity, ending ditziness;
Three more weeks, wake up refreshed, not exhausted.
Another week, awaken to usual energy, feeling myself again.

Residual early evening fatigue, resist 3 events per day.
Ongoing soreness and occasional zigzag twinges.
Grimacing in anticipation of next mammogram.

Foster daughter now dx with severe breast cancer,
Requiring entire menu of treatment modalities
For three-quarters of year: too invasive, too long.

Reminiscences of niece's brain cancer ordeal.
Echoes of secondary trauma shakes core,
Re-threatening dismay, disorientation, disintegration.

Remembering images of dread and terror;
Processing across variety of venues. Love,
Support, appreciation of beauty: Self holds again.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) March 29, 2014

THANKS, GRAM, FOR THE CURLS

Completely straight hair for 60 years;
Decades of envying younger brother
And all others with wavy or curly locks.

Maternal Gramps, Jack's straight, black
Mop of hair, dominant trait, at least 
For two-thirds of jealous lifetime.

At 60, several flights to-and-fro to MN 
During step-mom's final illness;
skipped haircut; discovered latent curls!

Seemingly out of nowhere, but actually
Sent directly yet belatedly from maternal 
Gram, Helen, with cap of soft curls.

Blood is thick; sooner or later, genes
Express themselves, for good or bad.
Waited an almost-lifetime for eruption.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) March 29, 2014

Saturday, March 22, 2014

BALLET HIGHLIGHTS

BRUBECK AND DESMOND'S TAKE FIVE, more or less

Women's vibrant rainbow of cocktail dresses,
Men in black shirts and slacks, splash of red ties.

Multiple variations of dancer partnering; several solos.
Piquat humor, complete with tap dancing and shimmy.

Playfully relating, interweaving, leaping and swirling.
Now with this one, now with that one, now left out.

PÄRT'S KISS

Harnessed in suspended ropes, able to touch stage
To push off into air or slide sideways, almost horizontal.

Couple floats within ebb and flow of love's currents:
Ecstasy, conflict, enmeshment, cut-off, entwined.

Flowing even when fighting, balance of seeker/sought.
Breath-takingly beautiful, soul enhancing, tearful appreciation.

STRAVINSKY'S STATE OF DARKNESS

Lengthy athletic solo: full flex of each muscle, 
Summoned to constant motion and exertion.
Yogic slowness with only one or two points of contact.

Sweaty sheen illustrates extreme effort.
If any excess padding (doubtful) at beginning of 
Rehearsals and performance, none left at end.

CERRUDO'S WORLD PREMIERE

Six songs by six composers, taped rather than live:
Melodic, surreal and haunting, soaring, expansive.

Somber range of shades of grey toward black,
Non-distracting of complex dance patterns.

Flood lights on stage floor, in varying patterns,
Dancers sometimes waiting in twilight.

Frenetic movements of varying groupings,
Bodies intermingling--geometrically, like insects.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) March 22, 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

MID-WEEK BALLET

During half-time/half-pay year, 
Continue to haunt artistic venues,
In cheapest seats, smallest bites to eat.

Enter concert hall to hear pianist 
Practicing sections of all-time favorite 
(well, one of several) tune: Brubeck's Take Five; 
Concert just for me, accompanied by 
Cacophony of other instruments playing 
Same tune at different places--or other
Tunes from tonight's repertoire of Pärt, 
Stravinsky, Cerrudo--modern score indeed.

Art appreciation inherited from family and 
From Castle of the North/Hibbing High School's
Formal auditorium which attracted famous artists.
Fee admission gained by ushering: intense pleasure.

Many others keeping company up here in cheap seats;
Birds'-eye view of both orchestra and choreography,
Which fill heart, feed soul, and expand entire being;
Such largesse prior to curtain going up--what an evening!
Stay tuned for details, additions, and amendments.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) March 20, 2014

WANING ACADEMIC LIFE

Beginning to wind down from collegiate career;
Difficult to imagine lack of regular contact with 
Close colleagues, motivated students, fulfilling tasks.

During 3-year practice toward retirement,
Working 2 quarters full, 2 quarters off:
Bites, tastes, flavors of letting go, unfolding.

Quarter sans meetings yields enormous relief;
Becoming less tolerant of necessary, or at least
Ubiquitous, administrivia and paperwork.

Today, surprising, reassuring, and slightly-unsettling
Schedule with only three events on paper version
Of usually-tighly-packed daily calendar page.

Time available: wake sans alarm clock's insistency;
Aerobic stroll to neighborhood private practice;
Leisurely sit in coffee house, tapping on iPad.

Obvious retirees, breathe in and out, calmly read,
Absorb oxygen at the same rate as news facts;
Lend relaxed ambiance to other patrons' busy days.

I gaze out at rare Seattle sunshine; passively observe
Girl in pink ballerina tutu; adolescent boy body-bumping 
Light-changing button on streetlight pole; moms with strollers;

People in vehicles stop, then await their turns to pursue 
Errands, tasks, business; trees push out buds; pair of beagles 
On red leashes, one paunchy, the other eager and wagging.

At last, some down time to reflect, notice, contemplate, 
wonder in awe and curiosity, practice different rhythm.
Inhale compassion, exhale compassion, again and yet again.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) March 20, 2014

Saturday, March 1, 2014

EPIDEMICS

In 80s, epidemic killed gay men.
Poignant quilts: visual testimony 
Of enormous extent of loss.

Today, people infected with AIDS
Often survive for decades with
Intense cocktail of medications.

Another epidemic, breast cancer,
Usually meant death sentence after
Horrendous treatment options.

Today, medical advances, although
Invasive and tedious and frightening,
Do the job of extending our lives.

Visiting foster daughter for weekend,
One more member of that dreaded club,
Whose members do not want to join.

Night before flight, startlingly clear
Dream of extensive surgery on my
Other breast; scar mimics her incision.

Long-range treatment; success rates.
Bevy of supportive family and friends.
Heavy knees; laughter; rainbows appear.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) March 1, 2013