‘I Could Never Do Airbnb’

The reservation said six gentlemen from
Hong Kong. Quiet, we expected,
Deferential, polite.
So many hahahahahas on us!

Two cars disgorged five smoking,
Frolicking, selfie-snapping,
Columbian college students ‘touring.’
Except that they never left our house,
But for the need for smokes and the occasional
Bag of chips.
They sang – off key, with abandon and
Feeling.
The boys were edgy and quiet.
The spokeswoman – the only one with any English –
Spanned the culture and language
Gap with thank yous and
‘I’m sorry for the cigarette butts in the fern garden,’
And ‘do you have a screwdriver, a tiny one, to take
Apart a phone for an electronics project?’
If we had a ticker on the front door to tally
How often it opened and closed,
Into the wee hours,
It would
Malfunction from
Overuse.

Columbians live in the front yard.
Unlike Americans.
City action is on the street.
They stand out by the cars and laugh and take
Cell-phone videos while
Climbing the Dogwood and
Share the images to their RapidoGram Stories.
They sing and talk and laugh, and we’re not sure
Why they chose to come here. Little here, our house,
In a quiet neighborhood not used to
Bogota, Columbia, South America
In the front yard and the comings and goings
Of their second car backed in and parked
Nose-out behind the first car.
Snatches of telenovelas colombianas,
Soaps in Spanish melodrama,
Ached through the cigarette smoke,
Outside the bathroom window as I
Showered for church.
It was a regular
Freakshow.

Until the spokeswoman hugged me,
Got her flowery perfume all over me,
And thanked me.  Said she
Felt so welcome here, slept so
Soundly here. And
I am
Dust-humbled and
Glad, so glad.

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Little Hands


Abby W. Photography

Little fingers, twined on Momma’s,
Are a painting titled
Trust.
Little hands, palms up in prayer,
Teach me tenderly to
Come.
Seat me, Jesus, in green grass,
The only place I can be
Fed.
Let my hands be always little,
Open to receive your
Bread.
~

Inspired by John 6, Isaiah 55, Matthew 18, Ryan Blackman, and Evelyn Quinn

Kate From Sheboygan

 

I love throwing around the word ‘Sheboygan’ as if I am intimately familiar with the Wisconsin city. I’m not; Sheboygan brings no connotations to my mind whatsoever.

Until a few months ago.

I did not go to Sheboygan. Sheboygan came south in the form of a delightful 25 year old millennial named Kate, who came with her boyfriend Kyle to stay in our Airbnb room on the southern lap of their hit-all-50 bucket list.

Kate and her boyfriend are scientists. Odds were that, as an English teacher who has lived south of the Mason-Dixon her whole life, I would have few connecting points with two scientists from Sheboygan. Wrong!

Let me describe Kate: engaged! She was a reminder of how rich this life is and to hang on to that. Her bucket list includes skydiving and Nashville. She kayaks and hikes and Cricuts and loves children and is the perfect balance to her quiet companion who is more what I had envisioned a Sheboyganite to be like. And yes, their accents were hard core. Mwahkee; Grammuh (your mother’s mother).

She was not afraid to invite us to our own back porch to talk. Most Airbnbers are properly reserved and that’s as it should be. But, oh, the refreshing one who breaks through and says, “Come visit!” That freedom doesn’t just come from youth. It comes from the heart of a person who doesn’t fear judgment because she herself is not judgmental. She takes in life with pleasure as it comes to her.

Thank you, Kate, for reminding me that God has no end of ideas when forming our personalities; that He had a great time making you; and that He blesses this big world with your warmth.

#iheartsheboygan

PS. Kyle, seriously about the wedding invitation. Kate’s one of a kind; don’t let her get away!

If I Understood You Correctly

Sister-girl, what will you find there,
In the church of you?
Our first dishwasher was army duffel
Green,
Gummed with years of generic
Tomato sauce,
And offered the panoply of options including
On and Off.
It sort of cleaned the dishes, but

You get what you pay for.

Fingers in the medium do not
Bleed a life price.
Ply though they will, fingers
Can only cry out in wordless,
Flexed
Extension for redemption.

Their cry is true as
The pink sky over the
Catholic church in
January,
That morning
It was seven degrees,
With birds.

I do not trust in my fingers;
They are dead.
But their offspring
Breathes
The promise of salvation.
~

(In response to an article by Rebecca Gayle Howell titled “The Lexington Cure” published in Oxford American magazine, Winter 2017)

A Teacher’s Reward (And A First Attempt At Rap)

Wearing my Madewells
Trying to stay well,
I know I’m paid well;
These kids behave well.
I make their brains swell,
That’s what their grades tell.

But that’s not all,
Sweet babies hearts are tall.

In their faces
A world of patience,
And expectation.
I’ll sit beside them,
Point, and guide them,
“That’s where we’re going.
Fast or slowing,
I’m going with you,
Make sure you get through.”

But that’s not all,
Sweet babies, you won’t fall!

Think all you’re learning,
As earth is turning,
And every sunrise
Broadens your eyes,
Now you can say that
North is that way,
You did not know that
Yesterday.

And that’s not all.
Keep going, that’s not all.

You don’t believe me,
But I’m here already.
In tomorrow
There is a hollow,
A seat with your name,
A need for your flame.
You will be perfect!
No one else fits it;

World’s not right ’til you’re in it.

Real Women Ski Uphill And Other Michigan Moments

When you cannot sew a quilt, you write a quilt; you sew with words. So I will write a quilt of 2000 miles and Michigan moments.

* Robin’s Egg Blue and Lavender 9 Patch Block. The Au Sable Cross Country Ski Trail in the morning. Ice, water, and trees made a pastel glow and the Lord and I talked as I skied. The first wipe out of the day, I heard my body say to its component members, “Oh, we’re doing this again, are we?”

* Crimson Bear’s Paw Block. We started the fourth mile of the trail and I concluded that I have 3 miles in me at a time. The huge paw print in the snow had to be a hangry bear. By God’s grace, trails do end and we regained the car, heaving, and snacked on apples that were the best apples we’ve ever had.

*Meyer Lemon and Olive Green Pinwheel Block. What color is youth? A group from Earlham College spread an enormous cooler full of picnic in front of the fireplace in the Stone Turtle Lodge and snapped, scrolled, laughed, and ate. Remind me to tell Will Sieg about the brilliant girl in the so-cool headband who spread peanut butter and Nutella on a flour tortilla!

*Granite and Pitch Rail Fence Block. Wet, pot-holed roads in hard-working towns between the lovely lakes and woods.

*Silver Silk and Pearl Batik Half-Square Triangle Block. Rolling Hills Trail in the sparkling cold afternoon. Emily Dickinson wrote of that ‘certain slant of light’ on winter afternoons. Yes. Yes, indeed. Spliced with tree trunks, the slant of light lit the snow and inspired us to crouch and go down the hills with poles tucked back like Olympians.

*Solid White Block, ‘062588’ embroidered in white thread in Bodoni 72 Smallcaps Font.

*Desert Camo, Denim, Sandpaper, and Pleather 9 Patch Block. What our car looks like inside and out.

*Muslin and Orange Calico Flying Geese Block. Goodale Bakery in Grayling, MI. ‘Pasties’ are beef stew in pastry pockets that warm the gizzards. Those and a 50 cent bag of popcorn got us through the afternoon. It’s good I don’t live here. The only way to take on Old Man Winter is to stay inside and eat.

*Sunflower Barn Art Block. Sally at Spike’s Keg O’Nails Restaurant. I called Donalyn ‘incomparable,’ but Sally compares. Genuine warmth and interest overflowed from Sally as she extolled her hometown and gave helpful advice. We laughed at her honest comment that cross-country skiing was not her cup of tea because, “I mean, I’m walking and walking and walking and not getting anywhere!” All said in that North Mitten accent.

*Sherbert and Wine Log Cabin Block in Amish Solids. Oh, the 9 Oaks Inn. What we owe you! Our nook in the cold. Gas heat and hot water at crucially needed times. And to Bryan – stepping in for the motel’s owners who were sitting pretty in Bradenton, Florida – our thanks. Bryan anticipated a desk job, dealing with working men who wouldn’t need much from him beyond a towel and an ash tray. How could he foresee that the septic tank would back up and the lights would go out and the generator would be frozen and crotchety all in one night? Our hearts bled for Bryan as we heard him out there in the bitter cold with his band-aided fingers whanging some part of the motel generators with a 2-foot crescent wrench, using choice words, and talking on the phone to Bradenton. Little did he know that Andrew was praying against his success because the generators were one thin pane of glass away from our lair and you know they are loud. The fact that Michigan Power and Light got the electricity on fairly quickly takes nothing away from Bryan’s heroics. As we left, I gave him a candle and love from Alabama. (His band-aided fingers are another story altogether.)

*Traditional Fan Block, Indigo Blue fanbase, Spokes of varied white hues – eggshell, bone, vanilla, smoke – on a Background of Daffodil yellow batik. Detroit. Breakfast with Jay and Lydia and the view out their back windows; Redeemer Midtown Presbyterian Church and their call to be the love of Christ to Detroit; sunshine in February on detailed downtown architecture; a Lebanese lunch at Al Ameer where the meat is better than candy; people of every variety; and three little girls playing in their front yard on a blighted street. The width of these experiences compelled us to think about what we are called to do and be in this world. One thing is sure: we cannot coast through this life. Don’t you love a life that is bigger than this world?

                                               

      

                                       

*And then the random crazy block of moments like us stove-up and Andrew referring to cross-country skiing as ‘you know what.’
Or when Michiganders referred to ‘up north.’ Any more north than this and, surely, you have crossed the pole and are headed back south?!
Or the directions including take a ‘Michigan left.’ No joke. That is a thing.
Or the interesting plastic pan in our motel room that was clearly an important amenity and was a mystery to us. Sled? Serving tray? Ahhh, snowy boot holder! Who knew?

Or walking on water! We had never walked on a frozen lake before.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow! We are humbled with gratitude for this trip and this glorious and fallen and beloved world.