Thursday, April 21, 2016


Last year's bunnies have not yet reappeared.

The groundhog fled to the woods as we neared.

The squirrels continue their race unabated.

The cardinals rest on the ground, satiated.

The stinkbug in the kitchen once released its blast.

Trapped spiders under cups return to the grass.

Bald eagles soar, long-necked geese alight.

Moths on the window show their bellies at night.

Mice in the ceiling are found one by one.

Lizards under steps dart out for the sun.

The snake in the fireplace never returned.

The dog across the water barks but is spurned.

Last year's bunnies have not yet reappeared.

The tick was found nestled beside the girl's ear.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Alice's 6th birthday poem, annotated

Dear Alice, I'm so happy that you're six today
Having you as my daughter always brightens my day. (1)

I'm so proud of the girl that you are becoming:
Loyal and kind, smart, funny, and loving.

When I look at you, I see a bright spark
Bubba (2), you've got moxie (3) that can light up the dark!

There's no place on earth I would rather go
Than to cuddle up with you to read a book or watch a show (4).

When I'm with you I know we'll have a fun time,
Laughing, chatting, playing "Is that a good rhyme?" (5)

And just a reminder, in case you forgot
Always be kind, always learn quite a lot. (6)

When I see you on the school bus or having fun with your friends
I can catch a glimpse of the path when childhood ends. (7)

Sometimes I can even see the lady you'll become
Gentle, gracious, charming, a lot like your mum. (8)

Perhaps that's because you're a young lady of six
Not a baby anymore, but a child, wild and rich. (9)

You know I love you forever, which no one can deny
I love you forever, even if you give me roll-eye. (10)

Happy Birthday!

(1) I'm deeply ashamed that I had to rhyme "day" and "today" in the opening stanza. An inauspicious beginning.
(2) "Bubba" is Alice's nickname; Barrow's is "Buster." Josie's nickname is to be determined, but she will surely acquire one. 
(3) One of the Berenstain Bears books talks about "moxie"; Al had no idea so we tried to explain it.
(4) Usually HGTV; Al, like the rest of us, is a big "Fixer Upper" fan. Cooking shows are also good ("Top Chef," "Chopped," "Chef's Table."
(5) I'm really proud that the kids like to improve little sing-songy rhymes ("this is a song, I sing it so well, this is my song, I hope you don't smell"). I love that they can grasp the rhythm of language and reach for words that sound similar; they'll usually finish one of these ditties by asking, "Is that a good rhyme?"
(6) When the kids go to school, I tell them, "Be kind and learn a lot." 
(7) The first time I saw Alice board the school bus and drive off was a shockingly emotional moment. Even now I do feel a twinge as the bus toodles off with her on board.
(8) Al has these moments -- sitting with her legs crossed primly, when she rests an elbow on the table and gestures with her hand as she talks, when she shakes her head in mild exasperation or gentle humor -- and suddenly she is a young woman before my eyes.
(9) Another weak rhyme.
(10) Al's version of snotty teenage entitlement manifests itself in the facial expression we call "roll-eye" -- eyes rolled up, tongue hanging out of her mouth. Usually she does it in jest, but not always. (Barrow tries to imitate it but can't quite swing it -- he ends up jutting his forehead and looking upwards.)