Saturday, August 29, 2015


"I have new eyes," Kaleia announced to me in her Pittsburgh House.  Then she said, "I have new eyes, and new eyebrows."  I thought of e.e. cummings who says "the eyes of my eyes have opened."  She is 2 1/4 so the whole world is new, but I believe she is seeing Pittsburgh with new eyes after a tiny lifetime lived in New Mexico.
I have just returned from a week in Pittsburgh to celebrate my birthday and see my family.  My family now includes not just my brother, sister-in-law, Niece, and great niece, But Hope, Leland and Kaleia, our grand child.  The lens of seeing Pittsburgh is not just the view after the Fort Pitt Tunnel from the airport, but a little bit teary view of my family in new surrounds.

On the way from the airport when she insisted I sit by her, with great serious intent she announced that "Babies don't wear shirts.  Evah."  My brother said she sounded like a New Yorker, and "evah" became our word of the week.  Kaleia is the latest family campfire we all gathered around, so it is hard to find our center.  Luckily I have a class at UNM to teach and the Girls' School waiting. A new baby is growing in Hope and that's another focus.  Kaleia said she has two babies in her tummy and that she has a nephew who is two months old.  She has become what Hope calls a teller of tall tales.
Kaleia runs down the marble halls of my old Temple to her preschool class hollering, "It's my school."  She visits the family cemetery plot, we shop at Trader Joe's where it says, "See Yinz soon."

Her interest has changed from obsession with her baby dolls to her backpack bear.  She insisted I photograph her with her bear.  What you don't see is the front porch on Tilbury street where a cast of characters pass by.  The Orthodox and Hasidim on Saturday since they don't drive.  There is a park, hills, a back yard with sod her other grandpa planted.  She calls that her Pittsburgh Yard.  It is the size of our guest room.

I got a birthday card from my nephew wishing me the best birthday, "Ever."  "Ever," I told my nephew, "how did you know that ever is the word of the week?"  Then at my party, I meet a new friend with Ghost Ranch connections.  Will is my niece's nurse in the hospital and everybody loves him.  After chatting with him we discover that his late father was my program director at Ghost Ranch and is sorely missed. What are the odds? They invited him to come celebrate my birthday and meet my young family.

We totally hit it off at my birthday party.  It happens to be, in this land of coincidence and meant to be, that it is Will's mom's birthday the same as mine.  His sister is at my party also, a lovely young woman named Eva.  She explains it's pronounced "evah" as in "whatevah."  I guess my family is meant to be in Pittsburgh.  I'm home, trying to land here while they are trying to land there.  Where is happily ever after anyhow?  I have to think, whatevah.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tunnels and Bridges

22 days and counting until my youngest daughter, her husband, and family take off for Pittsburgh.  I may have slightly mentioned this to you before, dear reader, dear friend tired of me going on and one and on about this, but my little family is taking off to my very own Hometown so Leland can pursue a PHD in clinical psychology at Duquesne University.

Fine and dandy except they are the movers and shakers in family dynamics, the ones who lived in a yurt 3 years on our land, the ones who threw great parties, had forty hour baby labor, sweat lodges, and have the youngest child.  You know how the baby in the family is. At two years and three months, Kaleia is in some sort of peak of adorable.  Adorbs, as the kids say.  She speaks in unintelligible but meaningful baby talk, waves her hands like her Italian ancestors ("Logghe" is an Italian name after all, traders from Venice via Flanders), and has our hearts firmly in said hands.

Last week, and we are trying to squeeze in Kaleia time, I could not get her to settle for a nap.  Mike's breaking out the chain saw while I was pushing her in the stroller, how she usually crashes, did not help.  By about 4:00 she was punch drunk and marching about the house talking about tunnels and bridges.

I thought it was very advanced and interesting, since we have nary a tunnel, and a few bridges here in New Mexico.  Then I realized, what is Pittsburgh but tunnels and bridges.  She is rehearsing for her next act.

If I weren't going back east for my birthday and then later my high school reunion, I would be even more bereft.  Some days I just weep a little, others more.  But as a person who has been accused of never leaving Pittsburgh by her spouse, this is a tricky time.   All along  I go to sleep and rise early, as if I never left Eastern Standard Time.

My night dreams have always been set at least 25% in Pittsburgh. I have probably spent more time at the family house in dreams than when I lived there.   Last week I dreamed we bought the house, the house that I lived in from age 4-after college and marriage and kids, the 1980's.  The house was the same with a light flowered sofa instead of the deep purple one.  But the big change was that now we had to feed the horse who lived in the back yard.

My cousin James Kessler and I are back in touch. We last visited in person when I went to D.C.  attending brunch for Mother's Day with my family and the famous Mimi Meyerson, and marching in a Code Pink anti-war protest in front of the White House for Mother's Day.  It was a lovely visit but then we drifted back into our own lives.  I remember the Cousin's Club in McKeesport, and we don't have one of those with its Hungarian pastries and embarrassing Hungarian old country relatives, Big Pearl and Little Pearl.  Big Ethel and Little Ethel,  Beti with an "i."  Now I long for a Cousin's Club.

Jim just attended his 50th high school reunion, as I will attend mine in October. Jim, retired from the Army where he orchestrated the Army band, and by now he has done some fifty arrangements for the PBS shows for Memorial day and Fourth of July.  Jim went to Taylor Alderdice, a graduation class in the 800's.  I went to The Ellis School, with about 50 some girls.  Somehow he managed to connect me to some of my elementary school classmates.  One person says she went to kindergarten with me.  I hope I didn't bite her, or that she wasn't the one who bit me. 

I do look forward to the connections in the world, which hopefully add to the connections in my brain. I have never left Pittsburgh, though we're 42 years deep in New Mexico.  My last book, The Singing Bowl which I highly recommend  (hint hint) has a section called "So Far from Pittsburgh."  Here's to tunnels and bridges.  My little family both a tunnel of depth and a bridge spanning distances.

Monday, May 4, 2015

April in Raton: Vitamin W

I have been home a week now and just finding my grounding.  I was able to work two weeks in Raton, NM, on the Colorado border, in Poetry Rocks!!  I was alongside two fabulous performance poets, Manuel Gonzales and Esmé Rodriguez-Vandragger, geniuses in inspiring high school students to write and perform their poetry. We met for two weeks with Raton High school students.

The other poets had been there for some years. It was my first year there.  Happily, the kids were open hearted and kind. Even two non-compliant senior guys ended up smiling at me.  I had a skate boarder who never participates, join into every class activity and show up as audience for the finale at the 100 year old Shuler Theater.  Classes stood up for informal group readings in the library Marathon.  I mean, besides the traffic ticket for not seeing a small blinking light while traveling about 20 mph, it went well.  Everything goes on your permanent record, not just moving violations,

It's hard to know if I am the right fit for the job. I had several people comment that I bring wisdom to the mix, but the other poets were not in short supply of Vitamin W.  I am grateful for the experience, and I am digesting it all.  The beautiful Cheyenne said it best, "I don't dance to impress, I dance to express..."  Raton moved me with its mountain beauty and students. I felt both impressed and expressed. Raton has a great swimming pool, friends Sharon and Chuck who cooked for me twice, and John Davidson who helped me get my head on straight for my departure. I also like the Asian Buffet where the three poets met to eat one night. Barbara Riley at Heart's Desire B & B couldn't have been kinder. And Page Gandy who will take over the program for next year with support from the indomitable Christina Boyce were super appreciative of my Vitamin W. 

I don't know if having a non SLAM poet like me is a plus, but I did connect with entire classes and miss their sweet creative energies in early morning.  My mother won golf championships in her mid eighties, I told Brianna, a golf star.  My mother never gave up.  I would like to think I take after her, she who could light up a room.  But I know I also take after my father, a dark, kind person who could write a wonderful thank you note and read them to me often.  This is my thank you note to Raton, even the police officer who wrote me a ticket and unleashed an hour of tears, ones uncried about other issues, so my friend said he was a therapist. Thanks Tim and Christina who photographed all of us and made us look sparkly.  Page who, besides being a wonderful teacher, reassured me that my Vitamin WW, way with words, was an important ingredient.  I learned from the Buddhist, Bernie Glassman, how one uses the ingredients you have before you?  I think we mixed them up pretty well.

Thank you Raton. This is my room, the car I drove by every day, and the last picture is Esmé at her house after our final road trip home.