Smiles for May 4

  1. GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAFinishing the first installment on the short story I started yesterday.  I need to have an adventure before I can write much more on it.
  2. Hitting publish.  Twice.
  3. Packing away the spring semester.
  4. Singing “What I Did For Love.”
  5. Answering “Can we have a bath?” with “Would you like bubbles?”
  6. A random “I love you” from someone not-so-random.
  7. Home-made beef stew.
  8. Not-so-matching his and her hand-knit scarves washed and hanging side-by-side to dry.
  9. Finishing a book and queuing up two more.
  10. Having so many left-overs in the fridge that I won’t have to cook until about Wednesday
  11. and we’ll still be as tight as the ddrum at guitar center

April 19, J is for Joy Jar



I have visited you thrice, adding a trinket to my Joy Jar each time:

1) half an oyster shell
2) a coffee stirrer
3) a beer bottle cap

mingling with a candle stub, a dog tag, a fishing lure, a neon orange wrist band, and eleven pennies.

I would have to explain their significance to anyone but us, and so I have.

A Bit of Prose

I am supposed to take some words from Cheever’s journal and write the start of a short story based on something in the passage.


“The landscape, or what I see of it from the driver’s seat, is lovely, but I say this: that the role of a writer is not to seek out the most beautiful places in the world and describe them—at least not my role.”

My role is simply to describe what I see, to draw a picture with words as vivid as the one you might snap with a camera. And so, whizzing along at 60 miles per hour, somewhere between home and Norfolk, past Emporia but before Suffolk, I notice that there are swamps on my right, and that the water is high. Higher than I thought it would be, not that I expected watery swamps in the first place.

On my right there are stands of trees, mostly sorts of oak. I can tell because the bark is rough and the branches are bare. Occasionally, there is the green of a pine. These are old trees, tall. My eye is drawn ever upward.

Above the ribbon of asphalt is a ribbon of sky. There are no clouds. The bare branches against the blue make me think of paint brushes. The fan ones with tickly bristles, perfect for painting trees. I imagine that the trees paint the sky. I giggle at the idea of hard, stiff branches becoming feathery enough to spread titanium laced cobalt.

I bring my eyes back to the road, and notice that the reason that line of branches in the sky looks so neat and orderly is that the state has cut down any tree that dares to grow out of line with its groundmates. I think about how people also do that to each other. I chew on this all the way through Suffolk.

Ten Day Writing Challenge, Day One

Thanks, cuz, for the hat-tip!

10 things I want to say to 10 (or 17) different people:

1. That thing you did, I wish you hadn’t. Every day. 32 years later, it’s still every day. But it’s final, and I am doing my best to come to terms with it. I loved you, I love you still, and I am sorry I didn’t get to tell you more. And I am sorry that when I did, you were too far gone for it to change things. Godspeed.

2. I forgive you. You are an asshole, but I acknowledge you were only doing what had been done to you. If I have my way, I will never see your face again.

3. Thank you for not noticing that I was not responding to your energetic, extroverted overtures, and continuing to badger me out of my cave. I needed a friend, and now I have one. This is probably the only time I will ever be grateful that someone didn’t leave me to write in peace.

4. I hope what you have now is worth what you gave up. I wish I had known how differently we define the term “best friend.” But I will be forever grateful for the pushes you gave me, and I promise to one day look back and smile about us.

5. Thank you for being only mild shocked and mostly pleased when you found out the truth. And for the honest encouragement to be me, all of me, all of the time.

6. Girl. SMH. We are okay. Remind me to tell you how the Japanese mend broken pottery.

7. You amaze me. Every time we communicate. ‘Nuff said about that.

8. I’m terrified you are going to freak out if I ever come clean to you. Sigh. I don’t know why, because you have managed to adapt every time I have self-disclosed, but still…terrified.

9. You, I cannot forgive yet. You are a blind misogynist and a power-wielding idiot. I could *maybe* forgive you if I was not aware that you should have known better based on your training, and if you hadn’t also told lies about what was said between us. Fiduciary trust, jerk. Google it.

10. You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you! Times eight.

There not quite enough to Wipe hard drive, but a good start on a defrag!


Listen, do you hear that?

It sounds like silence,

but it’s actually space that I

have carved out

for you to fill with words.

It lies there on the empty

pillow that is next to

my own pillow,


Two pillows on

one double bed,

one with a hollowed out

head place and one without.

There is nothing


than that.

This entry was posted on July 21, 2012, in cass writes.

Writing As A Way Of Healing by Louise DeSalvo

I just finished this book, which I started on April 22 of this year. That’s a long time to spend reading a 216 page book, isn’t it? I thought I would review it, but in the moment, I have decided not to. I’m going to write something else instead, and what I am about to write is a direct effect of reading this book. In fact, I could hardly make myself finish it, because this idea gripped me with such compelling force that I had to keep drawing myself back to the page. And now I struggle to begin.

I have, several times over the past few years, struggled to write about my father. Part of the Mary Monologues was about him, and I have written a couple of poems about him, but I have never truly come to grips with him, his life, his death. I’ve felt the emotions and the turmoil, but I have not tried to organize that mishmash of confusion into a narrative that I could integrate into something useful, something I could process. Today, as I was finishing DeSalvo’s book, my mind continued to wander to the trunk in my room. Inside that trunk are photo albums. Several, I don’t remember how many. There are albums in there that hold pictures of my father, albums that my step-mother gave me not long after he died. I haven’t ever really studied them, and have looked at them only briefly since they came into my possession.

I think it may be because by not looking, I could choose to continue to not remember. We have discussed before, you and I, my faulty memory. But I know that my memory can be triggered by pictures. That in fact, if I want to remember something now, I stop and take a mental image of what is happening at this moment. It has, I think, been easier until now to think of him as someone who was never truly part of my life than to admit that I might have had, and then lost, something very precious. The truth is, I don’t know what I will find in those albums. I do know there are at least two images there that I can talk about, because I can see them just as clearly as if I had them in front of me.

Anyway, I had planned to write this summer, but I had no idea what about until today. I have a couple of collaborative projects going, but I’m also pretty sure that this will be the summer I pull all the writing I have already done about him together into one piece. And it will be the summer I pull those photographs from their acidic PVC albums and mount them on proper paper. It will be the summer I let myself tell me the story of My Daddy. There are parts that will be very ugly. Such is life. There is anger as well. But I hope I also find beauty and laughter. Mostly, I want something whole and something true. A piece that says: this is what happened when I was six, when I was seven, when I was 12, and when I was 43, 44, and 45.

I knew it would happen eventually, and I bought the scrapbook supplies last fall. I guess it’s time.


“Just be you,” you say and
Laugh with me.
I don’t know
To do
With that.

These are not words
I am
Accustomed to.

They buzz in my
Ears, drowning out
“Just be what I
Want you to be,”
And snorts of disgust,
Laughing at me when
I don’t get it right.

I am not sure
That it’s okay to be

But it is comfortable,
Like wearing my own shoes,
And not a too small
Pinchy pair
Left by his mother,
Or his ex,
Or his fantasy.

Accessories once owned
By some perfect girl
I could never
Be. Wrong
Color, wrong shape,
Wrong size.
Wrong me.

So, some of you may have seen this before, since I first posted it on facebook. As I try to get back into blogging, I thought it might make it a little easier if I shared some of the stuff I have written and tucked away. Much of it needs editing anyway, and that’s a project I have been meaning to get to.

Btw, what do you guys think of this Klim Revolt Jersey? Seems a little warm for summer wear to me.

The Love of Knitting Part Three

Part One
Part Two

If hats are easy, the only word to describe socks is “not”. They require custom fitting and tedious measuring and remeasuring. I’ve probably knitted 18 pair of those—one pair each for my eight children, three pairs for my grandmother, one pair for a sock exchange and the rest for myself. Socks say, “I love you enough to spend 25 hours of my life making something for you to walk all over.” Socks say, “Here is my heart for you.” Socks are very talkative, even though they are highly functional and usually hidden. They are a huge investment of time because they are made from such thin yarn. You can knit an entire sweater out of bulky yarn in the amount of time it takes to knit a pair of footies in fingering weight yarn, which is very thin wool. Wool is wonderful for socks because it’s very warm but also light-weight, and because it not only wicks but also absorbs moisture. In fact, wool can absorb 30% of its weight in water without feeling wet.
I once started a pair of over-the-calf socks for my second husband. I knit the leg, turned the heel, and knit most of the foot. I ripped it out after our divorce. He had been too uninvolved to try it on so I could close the toe. I will use that yarn to make a pair for myself. I like wool socks enough to be willing to try them on!

I will never forget the smile on Grandmother’s face when I slipped that first pair of hand-made wool socks on her feet. “Aaaah,” she said. Then she wiggled her toes.

“Do you like them?” I asked. My smile was as big as hers.

“Yes, thank you,” she said. I think probably no one has ever been as appreciative of my knitted socks as she was, unless I count myself.

Of course, Grandmother didn’t walk in her socks. By the time I made them for her, she was bed-ridden and in the nursing home. She’d always had cold feet, but after she stopped walking on her own, it was a constant complaint. Except for the first pair, I mostly knit those socks on the way to visit her. My mother drove the 90 mile round trip five times most weeks, and I went along for three of them. I have all of those socks now, except the first pair, which disappeared in the facility laundry.

When I think back and see my hands knitting those socks for her, I also see her hands making clothes for me when I was young. At one time, she made everything I wore except for my underthings. When I got older and petulantly demanded store-bought stuff, thinking it was better, she made clothes for my dolls. And when I was older yet, she made bed quilts for my first six children. On the last one, for my third son, the stitching lines are crooked in a way that she never would have tolerated from her younger self. To me, it is the most beautiful of the bunch. She couldn’t sew at all by the time the seventh and eighth were born. I wonder now if these same thoughts went through her mind when I gifted her with those socks.

My mother has also made blankets for most of my children, and is currently working on the last two. Hand-made, wearable love is a family tradition.

My current project is one I have been working on, off and on, for six years. I have started and finished many other things while stitching on this blanket I call “Hocks.” Its name is “Hocks” because when I started it, my then-baby could not yet pronounce the letter “s”—she called socks, hocks. It htuck. The blanket is made of hock yarn. It is thin, warm, and nearly weightless given its size. It is probably four feet square now, unstretched. Eventually, it will fit my double bed.

Hocks is composed of mitered squares, each one built on the two below and beside it, so that the squares sit like diamonds. It is done in garter stitch: I knit across the row, taking out two stitches in the middle, and then I knit back. The small squares are about two inches diagonally, require 12 yards of yarn, and take 45 minutes to knit. The larger squares are four square inches and require 45 yards and 120 minutes. Knitting on it reminds me of how I live. One thing builds on the thing before.

The blanket is being knit with what basically amounts to scraps. Some are my own leftovers, some have come from friends, and I have even received some from strangers. Sometimes a scrap is so small I get only get one square, but sometimes I get several. People, like the yarn scraps, come and go.

The backside is a mess, with loose ends everywhere, just begging for me to take a minute and weave them in. Unwoven ends are unfinished business. I know I will have to take of them eventually, but for now, I can choose to just look at the pretty side.

Sometimes a set of squares clash as I am working up close and personal on a particular area, but when I spread it all out and step back, it is beautiful, all crazy colors and mixed up randomness. It’s the unexpected events in life, the random ones that take your breath away, that are the most wonderful. Those are the kind of moments that make it worth getting up in the morning.

It takes years to make a bed-sized blanket from sock yarn. It looks very messy while you are doing it. It requires persistence and determination. The only thing that stays consistent in this blanket is the knitter. Though the yarn has come from many places, the knitting is all mine, just as no one else can do my living. Sometimes, I have to grit my teeth and force myself to work on it. Maybe I should have just called it “Life.”