Fish Bowl


"The Goldfish Bowl" by Henri Matisse

“Fish Bowl”

The fish can see us, says the child, as she stares

rare to find such honesty from adults

the child understands the two-way mirror

Adults only acknowledging their principles raw

we look and seek for errors in judgement

errors in our own behavior management

Yet, the fish swims in his tiny bowl

“He can see us,” the child says

staring at the fish bowl, seeking nothing

but entertainment

Learning from the child’s words

I acquire a new rhythm

a new stance

The fish can see us

perhaps we should smile

could it be that simple

perhaps it can.

* this poem was written by yours truly in 2002, an oldie but goodie.  I have been thumbing through old journals.  They are so interesting to read and look at.  I have found that the older I get, the more reluctant I am to write my dark thoughts down, in fear of someone finding them, judging them.  I have especially been doing this when it comes to sad thoughts.  I am going through a difficult time right now, dealing with the pending death of my mother and a recent miscarriage. 

I was so faithful to my journal in my twenties.  I carried one everywhere I went and it was my duty to write down my thoughts.  I wasn’t as jaded then.  I still believed in miracles and fantasy dreams.  I will get back to that free spirit soon enough.  I just took some heavy turns, as I curved onto the highway to adulthood.  My father died and that was something that certainly…certainly what…I don’t know what word to put here.  It certainly was something. 

I am a big believer in journals. 

NYC Journal by memomuse circa 1998

A friend of mine recently told me she wrote down all her deepest and darkest thoughts in her journal, at fourteen years old, after being date raped.  Her mom found it and put her in a mental institution.  She said she will NEVER EVER make that mistake again.  She will never write down another thought or feeling again.  I tried to encourage her to start a new journal, but she said, ‘No. No thanks,” with a certainty that was real.  I told her I would make her one.  Still, not even a flinch.  I don’t blame her.  Can you imagine?

Anyway, back to the fish bowl.  What do you think of this poem?  I don’t really know what it means.  I do like the line:

“We look and seek for errors in judgement

errors in our own behavior management.”

 For me, that line rings true this week.  I made an impulsive memomuse move and it was pretty inconsiderate.  I just got really excited about something and wanted to be a part of it when it wasn’t mine to be a part of.  I do that all the time as a journalist and writer.  I want to experience things, if not through me, through words and photojournalism.  I’m a weirdo sometimes.  But I feel mostly misunderstood.  I feel like I could say, “You know I have Asperger’s syndrome, does that explain my behavior?”  I don’t really have it, but I feel like I lack social skills sometimes.  I just want to zip forward to straight up feelings on the rocks.  Honesty on the rocks.  Let’s cut the bullshit and tell each other how we really feel.

Jumping in Fish Bowl

Perhaps I should watch the fish swim more instead of trying to jump in the bowl with them. 

This post is random. 

Hope you have a great day.  Thank you to the new subscribers and old.  I don’t know how you found my blog, but I’m happy you liked it enough to see it in your email inbox.  I really appreciate having readers.  I hope my words wrap themselves around you somehow, perhaps like a bean pole vine, climbing and twirling in cascading circles and twists.  Perhaps they hammer at you like a chisel and break down a barrier.  Perhaps they lift you up and make you feel like you are not alone.  Just know, somehow these words embrace me as I imagine you reading them, somewhere across the globe.

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Montessori Garden – There’s 15 Children Running Around Without Smocks and Open Cans of Paint


I should have known better than to plant that many seeds, but I didn’t want to methodically plan my garden, nor did I want to be patient about its growth patterns.  So instead, I told my husband, a former landscape designer with a degree in Environmental Design, “I need some space to garden my way without any rules.  I’m going to Montessori garden.”  He said, “OK, I’ll take Ben inside and leave you alone.”  At that point, Ben, my ten month old son at the time, at the end of April, was pretty dirty himself from digging in the garden.  So my husband took Ben inside and I was left outside to commune with my inner

Marie Montessori

Marie Montessori.

My husband has helped me plant some sunflowers, wild flowers, and red onions in another garden bed.  Everything got measured.  Every step was calculated.  The assurance of sunflowers blooming several months later is 100%.  I had tried to grow seeds in containers inside the house in early Spring, and had no luck.  Hardly any came up at all. 

So, I decided to do this vegetable garden my way.  I had leftover seeds:  cucumbers, tomatoes (three varieties), pumpkins, zucchini, watermelon, pole beans, spinach, lettuce, and a tea rose.  So I had at it.  I cut those daffodils back to the very stub.  The garden bed I was going to use had been an oval contained oasis of daffodils come every early March. 

Photo by memomuse Copyright 2011

Each year blooming bright yellow smiles, shouting, “Look at me.  I am here to tell you Spring is on its way.”  I love those daffodils.  But I always thought, what about the rest of the year.

I felt intense freedom with my newly acquired “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, but I know gardening is in my blood.  Afterall, I grew up pulling weeds and picking gooseberries and all kinds of other fruit and vegetable treasures in my childhood garden.”  I dug up the ripe black earth, holding juicy earthworms in my hands, thick dirt caked into my nails, no gloves to protect my hands.  It felt so good. 

So, I planted the seeds by the handful, dropping them in without precision.  I had used so much precision with the trying to start the indoor seeds.  I even measured the damn things with a marked up popsicle stick gone ruler.  That kind of precision is not my thing.  And if you know me, you know I do it my way and much like a wild Montessori paint brush, taking the strokes where I am pulled to paint.  I, at least, dug rows, taking the hand digger and tracing it back in a clean, slightly wavy row.  I dropped in the seeds and told each one it had the permission to be beautiful, wild,  and slightly arrogant how it decided to shape itself.  Then the seeds told me, “We know we are beautiful.” 

The creator, science, God, the universe (fill in what makes sense to you) doesn’t make anything flawed.  I dropped in three or four seeds in each dip in the soil, wanting for sure for something to come up.  I didn’t bank on every seed sprouting.  I thought for sure I’d have some strike outs.  But I am also an Aries and I tend to overdo things. 

Well, as the seeds started sprouting, wow, did I feel beautiful, filled with Kelly green thumbs. 

photo by memomuse

Five in fact on one hand, no fingers, just five Kelly green thumbs.  Then I noticed they grew some more.  I shouted inside.  My Montessori garden sure is something.  And I did it my way.  I remember being caked with so much dirt that afternoon I actually looked black.  My knees and bare feet were covered thick with soil, rich with earthworms, beetles, and bugs.  I almost planted myself.  I am trying to embrace, “Bloom where you are planted.” 

Well, the Montessori garden is growing and thriving. 

Pumpkins, taking over, in the garden. photo by memomuse

Thriving a little too much.  The pumpkins are like a kid with ADHD, running around bare footed and bare bottomed, juggling ten open paint cans across a white carpeted room.  My husband always reminds me, “You told me when we first were dating, ‘Don’t cry over spilled milk; you can always clean it up.'” Then I tell him, “That was a long time ago.  I’m kind of anal now.”  I can always clip back the pumpkins. 

I can also let them wander and meander in colorful orange blossomed flowered curves, where they intend to go.  But what do I do if they strangle the zucchini and throttle the eggplant.  Afterall, being a former teacher, I can’t let the kid with the ten open paint cans pour paint over the shy kid sitting quietly in the corner, dipping her paintbrush in the water color and then rinsing it in the cup of water.

I guess I tend to embrace and invite chaos and then when it is at my doorstep, I kind of panic.  In my old age, I panic more often.  Maybe it is more fun to run around bare bottomed and throw my “control tank top” to the floor and let my inner child run free.  Chaos can be controlled or stopped and nature has a way of working itself out.  That quiet lovely dark purple eggplant will know what to do when the rowdy pumpkin, fat kid, tries to pour the ten open paint cans all over it.  And heck, maybe the kid with the open cans of paint is using watercolors.  If he’s using oil paint, we have a problem and I’ll have to call his parents and have a parent conference.  I might suggest he get some meds or a smock!

photo by memomuse - Three Varieties of Tomatoes

Oh, I forgot, this is a Montessori garden — the cucumbers, three varieties of tomatoes, and zucchini might need smocks too.  They’re a little wild, but filled with blooming fruit.  I can always make pickles, can the tomatoes, and make enough loaves of zucchini bread to open my own bakery. 

Painting by Mischa Vanderspek

That’s the Montessori way – embrace the chaos, especially when it’s at your own creation!

Miscarriage – The Silent Empty Box


To be filled with life is something.  To be pregnant with a growing little miracle of science and nature in your belly is beautiful.  To lose a pregnancy is sad.  The feeling is surrounded with so many emotions.  Guilt, loss, nothing, emptiness, aching, breaking, bending into shadows dark.  I had to take a break today and submerge myself in some creative work.  I wanted to shake this feeling of empty.  Shake it loose from the empty box it resides in now.  Like a box with nothing inside.  Just invisible strings connecting back to my heart.  I don’t know how to put it in words so I am not going to worry about using dazzling adverbs or catchy phrases, but they may just happen to come out that way.  I just want to write a post about it. 

There are so many women out there feeling this same feeling today, yesterday, tomorrow.  It covers me like a vine nobody can see.  Much like a bean pole vine grasping to anything its tendril can reach. 

Photo by memomuse - "Bean Pole Vines in My Garden"

Something sturdy, mounted in dirt, standing upright.  This vine of sadness can’t grasp onto nothing.  So I grasp and curl around words.  Around people I trust.  Around acknowledgement that it happened. That’s its over. That I need to grieve. 

As my mind curls and bends in thoughts of what may have been, what was just yesterday, before the bleeding started, before the sadness erupted.  Before yesterday, I was cocooning into a ball of beauty, growing inside, feelings of joy and elation surrounded me.  Flowers and fruits of joy rippled in the sun.

"Layers of Life and Light" - Photo by memomuse

Layers of light echoed over me.  Now there is nothing.  Just this box of invisible sadness nobody can see with the naked eye.

Long story short – I went to visit my dying mother in Colorado three weeks ago.  The night before I left, my husband and I made love.  I went home to Wyoming and Colorado where I feel the most alive and vibrant, for it is home and my place on this earth.  I have been transplanted to North Carolina and I am trying to make the most of it.  But back home, where I come from, just as the Kenny Chesney songs sings, I love it there.  On this journey where I thought I was going to say goodbye to my mother, I was surrounded by a land that knows me.  That I know.  That I love.  This journey home, this journey to say goodbye, something magical happened.  We conceived a baby.  A miracle.  A seed that sprouted into life.  I found out last week I was pregnant.  I took three home pregnancy tests and was more surprised with each positive test, as I have struggled with infertility in the past.  My son is just thirteen months old.  We were not actively trying to get pregnant.  So it was a surprise to find out we were pregnant without even a blink of the eye, without a blink of the heart.   

I took a home pregnancy test on Monday, then Wednesday, and then Saturday.  All positive.  The faint blue line got thicker with each test.  I took a urine test at the doctor on Monday and they told me to come back in a week because it was, not without a doubt, positive, but there was a shadow line.  So I took two more home tests that week, Wednesday and Saturday.  And sure enough, positive.  I started to feel the pregnancy symptoms, fatigue and drop to the floor tired.

I went in to take another urine test at the doctor yesterday,  feeling it wasn’t needed, feeling pregnant, feeling sure a life was growing and thriving inside me.  I didn’t need a doctor or lab technician to tell me I was pregnant.  Something bigger happened – a life bloomed from my journey to say goodbye to my mother.  How serendipitous.  How miraculous.  How joyous. It made the fact that my mother is dying a soft sleeve to rest on.  To rejoice on.  I was sure this baby was a girl and I was going to name her Eleanor Elizabeth and call her Ellie Elizabeth. 

My mom, Elizabeth, and me as a baby

Elizabeth, named after my mother. I had visions of her soft curls, her big blue eyes, her big heart.

When I took the test at the doctor just yesterday, I noticed some blood.  Frightened, I told the nurse.  Then the results from the lab technician came in.  The test was negative.   I fumbled with my paperwork to hand to the check out clerk at the doctors.  She gave me a silent nod and a sweet abbreviation of sugar, “You’re all set, Sug.”   I wanted so badly to walk out the back door, nobody to see my sadness or my tears, as they began to gush. I walked past all the ripe bellies, round and plump with life.

Sometimes I wish there was sign women going through the grief of miscarriage could wear on their back.  “Please treat with kindness – grieving heart – may slumber slowly today and tomorrow and certainly the day after next.”  But it is invisible.  Our eyes are swollen, sad, and watered with tears only time can heal.  There is no clock for this time passage.  It is not an hour, a week, a month, or a year.  It is a hole in our heart.  We go on.  And on. And hopefully you can give a hug to someone in need.  Perhaps, you just don’t know.  And what do you say? There are no words.  Just invisible tendrils trying to clutch at something strong, sturdy.  For it may be the hope of another chance at conceiving. 

Toddler in my arms

Perhaps it is the smile from a toddler in your arms.  Perhaps it is the earthy soil in your hands as you plant a memorial garden.  Perhaps, the box is still empty when you shake it, although you are sure something is inside.  Something thick. Something heavy.  Because something like a life just doesn’t vanish when you bleed.