Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Someone asked about the hawks. Yes, they are still hanging out in our neighborhood. This morning one was sitting out in the crapple tree tearing away at what was probably a smaller bird. They aren't congregating in the tree as much as they did at first, but their presence is felt. Their constant "kwee" cuts through the air as they call out to each other all day long.

Last night, I heard a burst of laughter coming from the bedroom and opened the door to find Alan reading, of all things, a poetry book. He reads poetry all the time before he goes to bed, but never with laughter. Before letting me read what he was holding, he ran to get an old anthology to show me probably the most well known of William Stafford's poems. Here's the two poems, the second of which made me laugh very hard, too.

Travelling Through the Dark
By William Stafford

Travelling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.

By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.

My fingers touching her side brought me the reason-
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside the mountain road I hesitated.

The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.

I thought hard for us all -my only swerving-
then pushed her over the edge into the river.

Traveling through the Yard
(for William Stafford)
by Rae Armantrout

It was lying near my back porch
in the gaudy light of morning--
a dove corpse, oddly featherless,
alive with flies.
I stopped,
dustpan in hand, and heard
them purr over their feast.
To leave that there would make some stink!
So thinking hard for all of us,
I scooped it up, heaved it
across the marriage counselor's fence.
Just emerging from a busy week.

I found out Monday that the headaches I'd been having since June were migraines not sinus heaches like I thought they were. The neurologist I'd been sent to see said that sinus headaches were relatively rare and they shared a lot of symptoms with migraines. I'd been under the impression that migraines left you wearing sunglasses and hidden away from other people after working for someone with chronic migraines for a few years. I guess they're different for everyone, and I'm thinking that "migraine" is another one of those catch-all terms doctors use for things they don't completely understand. After one abortive try at pain relief, we found a prescription that worked and the rest of the week has been much, much better.

Our celebration of Alan's 30th b-day was nice but low-key since he had to teach his last fiction class for the Loft that night and his last poetry class the next. We managed a quick dinner together and I snuck a cake past Alan to share with his class. With last minute advice from Richard, I bought him a good bottle of bourbon, and Alan enjoyed of glass of it before going to bed that night (after a quick internet search for "branch water.")

I spent Thursday at our local amusement park, Valleyfair, with four great teenage girls from our transitional housing program and another staffperson to celebrate the girls almost perfect attendance for last year. We were only there from 10 am - 3 pm, but I was exhausted by the end of the day. We spent the morning on the scary rides and the afternoon on some of the water rides. I got to try their new ride, Steel Venom, which was a blast - right to the edge of too intense but not over it, and finally rode an older, but previously unridden by me due to the lack of adventuresome friends, roller coaster, Wild Thing. Originally, I had been assigned to accompany some 6 and 7 year old boys (we'd already had a few discussions about the height requirements and how great the little kids rides were and how the big kids weren't allowed on them), but the numbers attending changed, allowing me to hit the big kid rides. After the mind blowing Steel Venom, our first ride, I was very glad we'd found a prescription that worked for the heaches. I did get pretty nauseated on a ride I've ridden many times before without problems. A friend said that she can't ride the scary rides anymore because she gets sick, and it seems to be something that happens as you get older. I've heard this from some other people, too, and am praying that it isn't happening to me. My dad always enjoyed riding the scary rides with us when we were little and I'm hoping to keep going for a long time, too. I have noticed that my acrophobia has gotten a little worse, as my mom's has as she's gotten older, but so far, I've been able to keep it from stopping me from enjoying anything.

Finally, congratulations to Barth and Lisa who are finally home with the new addition to their family, Isaiah!

Monday, August 04, 2003


We just got back last night from the Polonia Jam and our visit with Mark and Martha. Friday night, we visited the infamous Keg in Stevens Point and sampled its wonderful microbrews. Alan lost his deep fried cheese curds virginity and we got to see the stage where Mark and Martha perform their wonderful music on a regular basis.

Saturday, we arrived in Polonia around noon laden with accoustic and electric guitars. We spent part of the afternoon dodging rain, but enjoying Point beer and great accoustic music, highlights including Keg Salad and a beautiful rendition of Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee." As evening rolled in, the music changed to electrical and things began to rock a bit more. Highlights of the night time were, Mad Melancholy Monkey Mind complete with Mark, fingers and hair flying, going to town on the guitar, and the revolving Band of Bobs with their famous rendition of "Can't You See?".

After take down, we moseyed back to the campsite, where I collasped while the others ventured further down the road to Jimmy and Sally's place for good food and musical company. In the morning, Jimmy and Sally fed us a wonderful breakfast and we headed back to Stevens Point after breaking camp.

Back Chez Martha and Mark, we were treated to a private, accoustic performance of Mark's sci-fi inspired Captain Future. (I can't wait to hear the electric version!) As we sat in one of the Point coffeeshops having a last coffee before hitting the road, about half of the people who passed by the window were other musicians from the jam.

So, the Polonia Jam is highly recommended, especially since it's free. In fact, even without the music, the Jam was worth the trip just for all the great stories the musicians told. And of course, there's always Mark and Martha, who are also worth the trip. Also recommended is the upcoming M4 CD since, with the new band members, Mad Melancholy Monkey Mind is really onto something. If you want to visit the Jam, just remember to bring something to sit on or you'll end up with some very sore feet like I did.


In addition to excellent Polonia Jam, Polonia is home to a thriving Polish Catholic Church. Some of the buildings remain from the time when Felician nuns arrived in the community from Poland. The grounds are surrounded by a wonderful rock wall made up of small round stones that another website said was built by the orphan boys that lived there.

Just down from the church is the Depot Bar which hosted the Jam and right across the street is Sylvia's Bar. Next to Sylvia's is the Cafe. With a couple more buildings, this is the extent of Polonia's downtown. I didn't enter any of these places but I would like to try the Cafe next time.

Our camp was on a rarely used property just up the hill from the church. The large clearing had an abandoned white house at the end near the driveway entrance. It was so dilapidated that none of us ventured inside. After a brief peak, Martha and I walked to the other end of the clearing where a tarp hung over a picnic table. We turned when we heard a large crash to find Alan and Mark coming towards us a ways away from the house. The crash came from inside the house and no one had touched anything, so we don't know what caused it. Some things are better left alone and this house was one of them. We took a picture of the house and I'll share it once I figure out how to post photos here. Another thing better left alone was the outhouse which was listing to one side and sagging into the ground.

We decided to set up our tents under the tarp because it looked rain, which ended up being smart because both came through the later heavy downpours completely dry. The picnic table and tarp, and soon our tents, were covered with jostling, mating and fighting grasshoppers. Martha noticed that many of them were missing a hind leg. I guess being a grasshopper is harder than I ever would have imagined, if I had thought about it, but then insects in general have it pretty rough. We made it through the night with only one grasshopper in the tent with us. I don't think Mark and Martha were so lucky. Alan and I enjoyed our first time camping together and a brief respite from mosquitos. Martha thought it had been too dry for mosquitos this year but I like to think they really don't have any. We've all got to have our dreams of paradise.