© 2008 -- 2011 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic. All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


Storms batter the windshield. He turns and points.
There. That’s the place. As lightning slivers fall
on a dropping river brimful with trout
that raise themselves to lay themselves in creels.

The car falls suddenly through walls of stone
on a town where sunlight patterns the streets.
Ghost town. Silver's what they took out of here.
The gold's up north. Then we climb, looking

for rainbows on the sky, and stop to rest
above a lake riddled by rain. The clouds
press down, obscure the ragged granite peaks.

There's a miner's shack hidden there in mist,
up that trail we'll climb tomorrow. We pitch
our tent and eat beans huddled from the cold.

Originally published in Ball State University Forum. Autumn 1985 .
© copyright 2004, 2009 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog.
All rights reserved.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Request for Modification Review

We are planning to fence in our backyard so the puppy can go out by herself and run, run, run. But we live in this thoroughly modern neighborhood that's overseen by Bureaucracy Unlimited, otherwise known as the Home Owner's Association, aka neighborhood gestapo aka bureau of regulations. That means that even though only if you squint as you go by the house (thanks to a line of evergreens at the end of our driveway and the fact there are no houses behind us) maybe you'd be able to see 8 feet of fence, we still have to fill out, submit, and have approved a "Request for Modification Review" that needs to be signed by our neighbor (we only have one on one side because we're the first house on our side of the street once you enter the division) before we can start building.

Did you realize there are over 90 words in that last sentence?

Anyway, I'm not going to bore you with all the things we have to document about the fence. But after I downloaded the form, I saw everything that, supposedly, needs to be approved:

* Exterior decorative objects, front porch flower pots [????????? boy, I got away with one there] lighting, etc. [etc???????????]
* Garden plot [????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Those can really ruin your property value. Now you have to sell to green people ?????????????????]]
* Private pool [?] [So if it's private, why do I need to have it approved?]
* Exterior landscape and maintenance. [I'm okay there. I just won't do anything to my yard. Let nature take its course. At last a green rule.]
* Storm windows/doors [I'd rather freeze anyway. That's what men do. I've learned that from reading blogs.]

Then at the end before I sign, I say I agree no work will begin until I get written approval from the Covenants Committee. I love the biblical nature of all this. After all, I live in the south. Where is Legal Mist when I need her?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Further proof the matrix does exist

As an editor I hesitate to post this without sending it through fact checking first. But what the hey...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Garden Verse

i’ve tried to tell you how i feel
but your eyes
keep falling shut

just this once
can’t you stay up with me

you once said i was insensitive
because while i slept on the ground in our tent
a storm from the lake filled you with terror.
i recall seeing flames from what we thought
was a dead campfire
glowing eerily against the tent wall.
you thought we were going to die.
now you sleep upstairs while i wrestle this demon
& i excuse you.

this devil is mine
Originally published in A Matter of Mind, Foothills Publishing, 2004.
© copyright 2004, 2009 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog.
All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Way To Go Braja!

Check the spotlight (over in the right sidebar). It's a really good piece of news.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Just two quick things

My daughter, who just became a UU and is on the edge of vegan, was here with our lovely granddaughters and son-in-law this past weekend. (the son-in-law has his lovely side too.) And she likes to cook for us when she comes. So this past weekend she made spaghetti with a vegan bolognese sauce (vegetable stock) made from scratch with meat.

We have a puppy trainer who comes to the house once a week to help us train our very intelligent puppy. Yesterday, she taught her "leave it." I wasn't sure when I watched that it worked. It seemed she was more interested in the treat reward than in actually learning not to do something. But today, she has spent a lot of time looking for things to chew she knows she's not supposed to, and then looking up at me to see if I'll say "leave it. Good, puppy. Here's a reward." I think she's bought the trainer.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Random Friday and The Disciple

1) Things haven't settled down yet, but I have been able to venture out into Blogland with a little more frequency over the last few days. Gee, there's a lot of posts to catch up with.

2) I'm still being held hostage by a cute puppy. Saturdays when S is home, I volunteer to run the most mundane errands while she watches the dog. It just feels good to be out of the house and on my own. I did take her for her first real walk today. I've been walking her back and forth in the driveway and letting her sit at the end of the driveway to watch the cars go by. Everybody waves at us. One of us must be really really cute. But the vet told us not to put her down on the ground where other dogs were until after she built up her immunity from her second shot. She got her second shot a week ago, and the vet said we could walk her on a public sidewalk a week later. The walk wasn't as exciting or interesting as the walks Cloudia takes in Hawaii (And if you haven't read her book ALOHA, Where You Like Go? yet, you should). We just walked down to the street sign we can see from our driveway and back. But there can be beauty in mundane as I've been discovering on Saturdays. And I'll tell you, she was one happy puppy.

When we lived in Massachusetts, Friday was my piano lesson day. It was a couple hours for me to put aside all the editing and boring contract writing I do and do something for me. I took lessons from the owner of the music school I went to, and after the second lesson, I understood chords like I had never understood them before. I even sat down one Sunday and started writing out all the chords in order for each major and minor scale. I was liberated. But I still couldn't play. Nevertheless, I knew that Dave, my teacher was good for me.

The lessons were never just simply learn this because that's the next thing in the book. In fact we didn't have "a book." He asked me what I wanted to learn. I told him. And he found things to help me learn it. It was very organic, and music was a good thing. After I had been taking from him for a while, I walked in for my lesson one day and said, "Look, I don't want to keep going the way we're going. I wrote a song and it's like the first song in this blues opera I want to write about John the Baptist, and I'd like to use this lesson time to work on the opera."

He said, "Okay, play the song."

I did. He got interested and took out his guitar to play along with me, and after telling me about what surprised him in the score and that he liked it he said, "Okay. If you want to work on composition, that's what we'll do." That's when The Disciple was born. (Actually, it had been born a few nights earlier when, after having drunk a little too much bourbon, I sat down at the piano and began improvising what I thought was sacred music but then decided it worked a hell of a lot better if I made it bluesy. But that's another post.)

So I caught The Disciple fire, and with Dave's mentoring, I became possessed. I had at least one new song a week, or the core of a new song, or a revision of one I had already written based on his response. I'd bring in what I did, try to play it for him, and then he'd play it and say, "was this what you were hearing?" 95 % of the time, it was.

I never was more convinced I was going to complete a work than I was this one. I basically finished the first act, began working on songs for the second act, completed the overview of act 2 and act 3, and listed the missing songs in act 1. Then we (S and I) moved to Atlanta. There is no Dave (that I've found) in Atlanta, and the work ground to a halt. I try to get back to it, but without Dave, I'm not sure what I've written was exactly what I was hearing. Plus, I have no one to tell me why it wasn't when it wasn't or why what I heard wasn't as good as what I could have heard. I've tried to jump start the process. To no avail. Then, the other day, Rene reminded me it was a worthwhile, or at least an interesting, project. Maybe the collective energy of the blogosphere, maybe some specific people on the blog, will become my Dave.

When I break down and buy better composition software so that it plays what I hear, I'll post the actual songs on the blog. In the meantime, keeping with the theme of random Friday, here are some random things about/from the disciple:

Nate: The title character. A disciple of John
John: A tall lanky itinerant preacher
Jesus: A former disciple of John who rises to prominence as a charismatic TV evangelist
Peter: Another disciple of John
Herod: A county sheriff in Alabama
Herodias: Herod's second wife, also his niece
Salome: Herodias's 16-year-old daughter by her first husband, Herod's brother
Several deputies, including the executioner
Several high ranking state officials
Chorus: at variable times other disciples, camp followers who come to hear John preach or who follow Jesus, artisans and craftsmen, ordinary citizens, children who seem to be constantly around Jesus


Every butterfly that you see
Knows that it's where
It needs to be
Birds that fly
Never ask why
They have wings
Just see all the flowers
Think how many colors
Each season brings
You don't need a why for everything

You don't need to know
Any more than
Day will always follow night
You won't always know when
You'll get it right
Just listen and you'll hear
That song that lives
Somewhere inside
Ev'ry one's got a song
That can't be denied
You don't need a why for everything

Hawk and robin
Sparrow crow and wren
All gliding through the sky
Watch them riding
On the early morning wind
They don't ask
How they know
They don't wonder why
You don't need a why for everything.

© copyright 2007, 2009 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog.
All rights reserved

There's more, but this is Random Friday

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Bather

(Exodus 2.5)

unmilked breasts glisten
delicate oil-coated skin
the daughter of kings

the noon sun dances
from shoulder to gold-chained neck
as girls wrap her hair

take away her robe
watch her glide to the river
and bathe in waters

satiate with death
a basket hidden near shore
is best left unfound

Originally published in The Columbus Dispatch, 1980.
© copyright 2004, 2009 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog.
All rights reserved

This poem appeared in the same article in the Dispatch that Zipporah did.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Egyptian, why’d you come if all you want’s
To sit and stare at cracks that climb the walls?
My breast that longs to feel your hand caress
It lies here bare while you ignore my needs.
You might as well not stay as make me feel
I have no husband. Tell me what I’ve done
To make you turn your face away from me.
Please help me understand, Moses, why you
Have shut me so completely from your life.

I wish I knew your dreams. Each night I lie
Beside you while you toss and cry out names –
Egyptian names I’ve never heard you say
But names demanding terror even here.
I want to see the things you see, but how?
Aren’t I your wife? And didn’t Father take
You in, make you a son, and give you all
He has? Then why do you reject us now
With silence, Moses? Tell me what I’ve done.

Zipporah, near Mt. Horeb, where I take
The sheep to feed, I found a bush still green
And unconsumed by desert sun. The sheep
Won’t touch it. And as I wondered at it I
Removed my sandals. I felt as if I stood
On holy ground. Then to this place a man
Who’d fled from Egypt came and asked
If I could give him water, and I did.
And while he drank, he told a brutal tale

Of evil winding in Egyptian sands,
Of Hebrew bodies covered with raw sores,
Of babies starved because their mothers not
Allowed near wells go dry. And as he talked
I raised my hands to look at them. Look here.
This skin, Zipporah, it’s their skin. Their sores
Have covered both my palms. I dropped my staff.
I stared at him. I stammered. Then I asked
Could no one help, and all he said was, “You.”

No, Moses, don’t think that. Come here and lie
Beside me. There is nothing you can do.
You left them long ago. Lie here with me.
We are your kin, and you’ve become like us.
This desert land, Egyptian, is your home.
Let Pharaoh answer for his sins. Don’t take
Them on yourself. The people there don’t want
Your help. They ran you off. They’re Pharaoh’s slaves.
You have your life. Leave justice up to God.

Originally published in The Columbus Dispatch, 1980.
© copyright 2004, 2009 the Grandpa at The Word Mechanic Blog.
All rights reserved

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who commented on the last post. It made this Grandpa feel good.

And, because some of you have asked....

Her name is Yeats, and she's twice as big as she was when we brought her home two weeks ago when she was twice as big as when we picked her out of the litter two weeks before. . .

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

This is just to say (and I've lost two followers over night)

Rae at US IN TEJAS tagged me for a meme. And Marty at Dark Star Discovery (what a wonderful Blog name) won two awards and passed them along to me. Thank you, both of you. Considering the fact I've been totally AWOL from the Blogosphere for way longer than I ever thought I'd be, and will for more days ahead, I'm touched. I'll do the meme and post the awards and pass them on soon. But again, thanks.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My neo counter does show 3 visitors from Mongolia

My son sent me an email this week with the subject line "Word Mechanic a hit in Mongolia." Remember the picture of this elevator sign that one of the consultants that works with the bank my son works for sent him from Mongolia?

Well it seems that after that post appeared, someone changed the sign. This is what's there now.

I'm just happy I could be of service.