Poetry Day: The Bones of This Place

The Bones of This Place

Northport Marina July 4 2017

Northport, Michigan Marina, July 4, 2017  mdh

I am still a flower pin worn on a summer hat in this little village…

Not like some who have become the tanned skin

or deeper yet, the flesh of this place.

Earned with years of faithful returns to  the waiting cottages

with fine dust on tables

that floats in the slanted sunlight

as the windows rise again.

Northport Lelu building

Hidden garden next to the Lelu Building- Northport, MI    mdh

Others, here around the seasons

are now the very blood running through the street veins-

keeping the fires burning and

nodding a farewell to us when winter walks this way.


The longest here; the ones whose names sit on stones

in silent spaces…

on signs that guide us on…

on barns that have gathered the cherry harvest for

More than one hundred years-

They are the bones of this place-

They are the framework that holds it all together

no matter the changing shape of everything around

as it grows and thins from year to year,

starves and flourishes-

Stands naked in hard years or

wears a flowered hat when the bank is full-

The bones… they hold the memory

of why this place is even here.


barbs in winter

Barb’s Bakery- Northport, MI  January, 2016  mdh

The Navigation of Grief

for Nancy~

This week, I was thrust into the steel and velvet construct that organically assembles itself in times of dire need. There is no engineer designing the temporary structure; no operating manual or planning meetings. Instead, the whole thing rises in a matter of hours, like a gossamer tent large enough to hold the people, the food, the photos and the gigantic emotions that gather to hold sacred space together.

Just after 5 AM, a week ago, my phone rang with the news that a friend, my best friend’s husband, had died moments earlier. He had been struggling with health issues, recovering from surgical complications, but there was no sign the outcome would be this.

Within the hour, the construct began to rise around her. Women made immediate flight and driving arrangements. Daughters, already there with mother, and spouses stepped into the arms around them to hold the shock of loss among them; too heavy for just one to hold alone.

Calls were made and people silently coordinated the parts they could and before noon on the day that the world tilted over, the work of closing a life was under way. Quietly, out in the world, a relay of family, friends, co-workers and neighbors each stepped in and took on part of the whole.

By the time I could get south and to her door, boxes were arriving with supplies and food; comfort things for the mad crush of all who needed to honor him by being present for a little while. Women arrived and cleaned her house, stocked her refrigerator, packed extra meals into her freezer. They sorted the photographs, wrote the obituary, ran the errands and gently put a drink or food or Kleenex into an empty hand. They took those hands and led them to a quiet spot to close their eyes for a moment.

As swiftly as the news had come, all the whirl of activity dissipated like the strange calm that follows a tornado. Down came the invisible structure and left behind were the artifacts of gathering and a web of open phone lines at the ready for a call, a visit, an offered shoulder for the days ahead.

Now the work begins. Grief is a hero’s journey, fraught with perilous hours between the sunset and the long walk to another morning. And on that walk is every song you danced to, a toothbrush in a glass; a sweater left on the back of a chair; the book they’ll never finish. Waves of memory crash the beach of your solitude, carrying these small things that gather around you.

“I’ll sort everything out and clear this area soon.” We lie to ourselves, to our loved ones about the things we are ready to let go of. But truth be told, that glass had his lips on it. The sweater still smells like him. The aftershave on the dresser is mostly full and if you never smell it again, a large hole will rip in your soul and so you leave it there, right where it’s always been… just because it feels right.

There is no clear route when navigating grief. Though everyone has or will walk this same path, each journey will be different. You need a new map for this uncharted territory.

Where roads used to lead to an obvious destination, now, there is nothing there. Where a spot on the old map used to point the way to a place of joy, now, there’s too much there.

Kierkegaard said, “Man suffers no greater loss than the loss of an imagined future that is no longer possible.”

There are no maps to this new land. Others can only tell you what may be there along the way… or maybe not.

For the woman walking alone now; one certainty holds true for her; the women who flew to her side, the men who quietly went about the work that needed doing, they are all still there. See them? Just off to the side. Giving her space, until she reaches a hand out into the empty void. There will be new hands now, reaching back. Some are strong and secure and have been there for a lifetime. Other hands, so tiny; looking for comfort from her strength to fill them up.

It’s been a week already. A week. The sun is still rising. The dishes still need washing. Autonomic tasks become small meditations as she puts her life in order; a new order. And all the while stopping for a moment to repeat a memory…one more time, so it won’t be forgotten. A smile. The sound of his voice. A glance at his profile in the TV light. She won’t forget. It’s a part of her; not separate.

Navigating this new world on winds of change, grief gales will be running her aground for a while but she’ll find more and more patches of fair wind and sunlight to carry her forward. She’ll make a new map to help her girls find their way too. And when she stops to feel the life around her she’ll feel all those arms who held her close on this most difficult week.

And she’ll feel him too. That unseen hand on a shoulder. That kiss on top of her head. A breath away. Only a breath away.




Chewing on The Immigration Gumballs


The 1996 Immigration “Explained” in Gumballs video is making its way around the internet again. It’s an interesting theory, but it ignores the singular element of what is *humane* in terms of humanity’s caring for each other.

As a species, we face a few overwhelming problems; Over Population and Poverty/Starvation for most of the Earth’s inhabitants.

We can not turn away the most ambitious of the masses who seek asylum here (Gumball guy, Roy Beck’s words; not mine) AND simultaneously remove funding for birth control for a planet that is obviously too stupid to only have as many children as they can care for.

Simple solution: Mandatory MALE birth control. For example; if a male has fathered two children with his legal spouse, a mandatory vasectomy should happen the same day the second child is born. A global mandate of this kind means an instant reduction in the “pink gumball” numbers and, over time, a normalization of the number of humans to food ratio until the world is able to take care of everyone.

And here’s why men would make sure that won’t work: men think their sperm is their property, but women’s bodies are somehow *co-owned* by others. Something has to change and it’s about damn time men started taking responsibility for birth control.

Those over crowded nations and horrific living conditions immigrants flee from might just improve over time with a normalization of population growth. With a population under control and all the pressures of overcrowding reduced to a dull roar, a return to home lands could realistically happen. Not through deportation, but through a welcome move back to a new beginning. Many immigrants move here with every intention of going home one day. And we are not the only nation where people long to go, but we like to pretend we are.

Over population is our singular, over arching issue globally. Access to affordable and effective birth control is the first line of defense for over crowding and growing poverty areas dependent on support from others.

In states like Colorado where birth control is readily available, teen pregnancy and unplanned pregnancies dropped by 40% in the past six years.

We should be following suit with a male birth control campaign in our own country as well to reduce the always growing numbers of those born in poverty that stay in poverty.

Beck’s plan at NumbersUSA.com is not to maintain legal immigration. It is to shut the borders. Period. So if your children or grandchildren are not already US citizens, brace for a battle when attempting to bring them here, no matter which country they currently hold citizenship in.

We are already a nation of immigrants, just like Trump’s wives. And frankly, I’ll take a migrant worker who might get desperate and commit a crime like any American person could over a President who commits treason and endangers millions by making back door deals for his own ego and monetary gain any day of the week.

So here’s the gumball video. It’s very interesting and I’ve gotta say, the visual aide is impressive. All that’s missing is him ending the presentation with the wrap up line he silently implies: “… and let’s get real people. Who really gives a shit about the other useless three billion people anyway?”



They are here!

The results of my Ancestry DNA test that I got as a Christmas gift are in. I have always wondered what my “special sauce” was, given to me through relatives, now long gone and where on Earth they called home. The results are back and after I laughed for a long time, I had a sense of wonder as so many of these places have called to me, through music, or food, sights and sounds. Some of these places, I have visited; others are still on my bucket list.

I’ve spent my lifetime only knowing that my paternal grandparents were Italian (Sicilian and Calabrese) and my maternal grandparents were Norwegian (mom’s dad) and Czech (mom’s mom). I’ve been trying to build a family tree and have hit dead ends on all lines somewhere around the mid 1800s. Until I launch an expedition to the motherlands to comb through church records, I will probably never know anything specific about the stories of my great grandparents and theirs as well.

But blood doesn’t lie. Even if I don’t know their names and their stories, they live on in the structure of my cells. Maybe, they gave me a freckle on my arm or a color in my iris. Maybe the sound of my voice is similar to theirs or a strange love of exotic food; or the powerful wanderlust that has pulled me to countries far and near.

I laughed when I saw these DNA test results because I have some living relatives who harbor not-so-very-well hidden feelings about some cultures, religions and races that they consider *less than*- and even *terrorists* by circumstance of birth.

Well buckle up girls, because these results are YOUR results too.

Italy/ Greece-32% …

Western European (France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland) 20% …

Scandinavian 16% … (Sweden, Norway)

Eastern European (Czech Republic, Austria, Poland) 12% …

MIDDLE EASTERN (Syria, Iraq, Iran, UAE, Jordan, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia) 8% …

Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) 3% …

EUROPEAN JEWISH (Ukraine, Israel, Poland, Belarus, Hungary, Russia) 3% …

Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal) 2% …

NORTHERN AFRICA (Morocco, Western Sahara, Algeria, Libya) 1% 

And trace DNA from Finland, Northwest Russia, and Caucasus- a reference to more ancestors from Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria and others.

I am an interesting blend of so many cultures that are currently under scrutiny by people with very small minds.

I’m actually kind of bummed that I didn’t find any Orient, South Pacific Island, South American or Native American sparkles floating around in my bloodline.

Here’s what I know- I am a child of Earth in all its technicolor glory, and I carry a little bit of many, many cultures that make this the amazing planet that it is.

Everyone should have this test run just to see who it is you’re hoping doesn’t get let into America. Because they are not THOSE people. They are OUR people.

Suck it up, Buttercups.

Take it away, Michael…


Who In The World Am I? DNA Results are IN!

Hello again!

Wonder from the daughter. What a great eye!

My Joy Photography

With this blog and website, I will share with you my travels and moments I decided to capture. I am working on setting up purchase capability for my photos- so hang tight! They will be found here at SmugMug!

Please feel free to contact me about where some of these photos are taken. I would love to share my favorite hiking spots, trails, National Parks, favorite food joints, etc.!

Thanks for joining me, check back in again soon 🙂

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