Saturday, July 01, 2006

On Blogging...

Writing a blog is a bit like planning a set of music: you start with something good, something up-tempo; something that gets the crowd's interest and promises more. Then you - well, that's the topic of another day's writing.

What follows ("Genesis") shouldn't come on the heels of "O.C.D." Today I sat down to write a humorous bit about the bank robbery, but neighborhood events brought a black curtain down
on my intentions, and so you (the other reader of my blog) are faced with two pretty somber tunes - one right on the heels of the other. It's a sequence that wouldn't make for a good concert, and it probably doesn't make for a good blog, but sometimes it's the way things go.

In writing "Genesis" I never considered that it's subject matter relates to "O.C.D.," but I think there is a striking and frightening relationship between the two. How fine is the line that distinguishes deviant self-destructive behavior that harms "self" only from deviant destructive behavior that harms others?


From parent to child the lesson was passed:
The fingers of exploring hands
Touching the forbidden; “Father knows best,”
The unspoken justification.

Gift of the guilty passes down generations,
The mute links of an unbroken chain,
Complicit in deed and denial of what is
Too shameful to speak out loud.

Stunned and disbelieving, silent at first,
The little girl withdraws in hurt and wonder,
Then suddenly runs screaming from what should have been
Bubble bath and rubber duckie grandfather fun.

Police car in the yard, statements taken,
The family shatters in shock and disbelief,
Unaware that Destiny’s child has broken
The painful sequence of perhaps a hundred years.

Friday, June 30, 2006


Yes, Master? I hear you calling me again. I was on my way upstairs, but you stopped me.

I’m busy. You don’t need me right now. I will ignore you. What you want me to do is wrong – I know that – and so this time I will resist. I remind myself that I am strong, but you call again and my steps turn.

I rationalize: it will only take a second...

Master, why do you do this to me? You harm me, you shame me, and I hate you for it. Yet you satisfy me in the strange, incomprehensible way known only to your slaves.

We are the nail-biters (lucky are they), the scab-pickers, the hair-pullers, the hand-washers, the counters and so many others. Like a master puppeteer, you manage us, you direct our movements, you interrupt our lives.

Yes, Master, I will do your bidding again – but just this time. When it is done I will feel shame and anger, and I will vow that it is the last time I will bow to your demand.

Master, will you ever let me go?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Acryllic painting of Sunnyrest Farm by Evelyn Andrus Toporcer, circa 1973, from a Kodachrome slide taken in the 1940s.

When I was little, my father would spend summer evenings taking me to “stables” (his choice of words) where we would boldly walk through pastures and into barns, sometimes chasing the horses for the fun of watching them run and buck, sometimes offering them carrots or apples. It was not yet 1950, and liabilities and lawsuits weren’t on anybody’s mind, but it’s still hard to figure why nobody ever shot us or called the local sheriff.

Our favorite place was named “Sunnyrest Farm,” with its rolling, tree-lined pastures and its well-maintained, red, gambrel-roofed barns. There were box-stalls in it for several horses, and it was on one of our evening invasions of that barn that I met Johnny Curry, Cowboy. I was four years old.

Johnny kept his horse at Sunnyrest in exchange for taking care of the other animals boarded there. He was probably in his twenties, though the age difference between us never quite registered with me. He talked about horses, and I boldly conversed with him, completely forgetting my usual shyness.

He was a saddle-bronc man in those days, and although the rodeo only came to town for one week in the summer, I would go at least twice (because that was all our family could afford and was willing to sit through) to soak up every bit of the action. I’d also casually speculate (in a voice that I made sure could be heard in the bleachers around me) about how “good” a horse “Johnny would draw,” hoping that he’d get “the one with the ‘Roman nose’ because that was the toughest bucker” (and therefore the one you could win the event on). I was a pretty cocky little cowgirl in my kid-size dungarees and western hat!

We both grew up a bit. My family moved to the opposite side of the city from Sunnyrest Farm. I got my own horse (a lame old mare rescued from a mink farm); Johnny got a wife and became a father. They planned to move west, but before they did, Johnny invited us back to Sunnyrest. He’d bought a new horse and trick-riding saddle that he thought I’d like to see. The horse was a beautiful palomino; the saddle, white leather. “Do you want to ride him?” Johnny asked. I’ve been proud at various times in my life, but never prouder than I was circling the ring on that cowboy’s horse.

A few months later, Johnny’s wife ran off with another man. She took their two sons with her, and Johnny went west alone. I never saw him again, but word came back that he died young. Most of us never realize how hard the life of a cowboy can be.

Photograph by © 2006

Indigo Blues

I got these blues in the mornin',

I got these blues around my head.
I got these blues in the mornin',
If I don’t get me some lovin' soon I’ll be dead.

I’m worn out, wet and weary,
‘Sing these blues up to the sky.
I’m worn out, wet and weary,
‘And so down I can barely fly.

‘Need a blue-feathered woman, Lord,
A gal to put my heart at rest.
‘Need a fine blue-feathered woman, Lord,
Someone who’ll sit upon my nest.

Yes I got these blues in the mornin',
’Ain’t got nuthin else but this tree.
Yeah I got these blues in the mornin',
'Want someone to share this branch with me.

I got these blues in the mornin,’
I got these blues around my head.
I got these blues in the mornin,’
If I don’t get me some lovin' soon I’ll be dead.

Note: I took some "artistic license" with this one: a female Indigo Bunting is actually BROWN...