Stuff.3: Books by Devon Miller-Duggan

Stuff.3: Books

The antique Limoges and Madame Alexander dolls are one sort of thing-you-don’t-know-what-to-do-with. The books are another matter entirely. No matter how resonant a thing is, how much of your history it carries, no necklace or bowl or rug has the layers and layers of the battered copy of the novel you fell in love with in 6th grade and read 12 times (Ivanhoe) or your original copies of TLOR, the book that taught you what wild things you could do with a crochet hook, the collection of frightening poems about the last days in Hitler’s bunker that you wrote your dissertation on. This is why I have 3 different Complete Shakespeares. Then there’s the historical novel sextet in which I found my second daughter’s name, which I did without remembering that my own name had found its way into my mother’s vocabulary late in her pregnancy when she was loaned a steamy romance. And the poetry—every print journal in which mine has ever appeared and all the books I have loved or valued enough to keep. The books, more than anything else, feel like a very detailed map of who I am, where I’ve been, what I’ve loved, though not who I’ve loved. I guess that last bit makes them the 2nd Most Important Map. As map, though, it makes them hard to part with: Georgette Heyer and Terry Pratchett, James Wright and Lucille Clifton, poetry anthologies for teaching and histories of couture or ballet for pleasure, books and books on Holocaust Lit.

Then there are my husband’s books: naval and war histories, encyclopedias of Theology and Classics, volumes and volumes of Medieval and Church History, much of what’s been written about Machievelli and Thomas More, the Crusades and Plagues. There are almost as many in his office at the University, and they will have to be dealt with when he retires next year, but those are next year’s problem. He is busy trying to find homes for many of them—many are the standard books in various fields and might find homes in some of the less well-funded smaller college libraries around us. Many relate to long-since-completed projects. Many are standard volumes passed on to him by his retiring professors. They themselves have histories. Together they also comprise a map of who he is. We will pass over in silence the entire wall of books on more or less permanent loan from the University Library (it’s a professor thing). Those I am being a hard-ass about him returning.

We aren’t Book People in the same sense as the community at the end of Farhenheit 451, though I desperately wish I had that gift for memorization (at one point in my college years, I could recite the opening passage of The Sound and the Fury and the closing paragraphs of The Once and Future King, but I don’t tend to retain what I memorize, even if I work at it). We are certainly People of the Book in religious terms, but that’s not at all the same thing. We are, though, Book People in a more general sense—people who love them, are very nearly helpless in bookstores, people who were saved by them in our youths, people who keep and treasure them for a great cloud of reasons, and people who write them. Still, some books need to fill up someone else’s soul, someone else’s curiosity, someone else’s space. It’s not a thought I’d have ever admitted to a few years ago. I think we’ll still have more than enough books here to qualify as Book People, even Advanced Book People, but maybe we’ll lose our credentials as Book Hoarders. Which is a little sad, but not sad enough for me to keep all zillion of them on our over-laden shelves, no matter how much I love photos of writers or artists taken against the backdrop of their gloriously-over-laden shelves.

Devon Miller-Duggan

Investigating Failure by Devon Miller-Duggan

Further thoughts on FAILURE

I have talked so much and so whiningly about my sense of being a failure that my daughters have forbidden the topic, quite reasonably. I have a couple of books out; a job teaching Creative Writing at a semi-big university; a rich and lovely family life. So the subject of My Failure in Life (I did not become famous…) and in Art is sort of off the table. I am, after all, still writing and finding meaning in it, still trying to become a better writer, still making various things whose making amuses and comforts me, still alive. I am still looking for risks to take.

It’s taken me years and years to let go of the idea that my life would only be justified by my being a brilliant and acclaimed maker of some sort. Years and years to come near being able to be grateful that I have something/anything to teach and make, and that when I write, even sometimes when I am working on a collage, my ADHD-ridden head settles, and everything in me and outside of me integrates so that there is a single, crystalline whisper in the center of my brain and feeling everything stops being a war. Even so, I would say that this is a “mostly” sort of progress.

But, more immediately, there is the question specific failures—poems that just won’t work, drawings that can’t catch the heart’s pleasure in the eye’s bounty, fiber works or collages that go splat. I love the Hassidic take Miriam quoted (and I think Yehudis Fishman’s words bear re-quoting here…):

…no intention for a positive accomplishment ever goes to waste; if it doesn’t seem to bring about its intended results, it still exists in the universe until someone, somewhere, sometime, actualizes it.

Aside from automatically validating the flops, this maybe ties into the bigger issue of an artistic life as a whole, since it seems to speak sideways about much of what teaching does. I know not all artists are or want to be teachers, but for those of us who do, there is my favorite-favorite bit from A Man for All Seasons, a play about a Christian saint written by an atheist existentialist (peace to the Mantel fans…). It seems to expand on the Hassidic idea, while focusing on one avenue:

Sir Thomas More: Why not be a teacher? You’d be a fine teacher; perhaps a great one.
Richard Rich: If I was, who would know it?
Sir Thomas More: You; your pupils; your friends; God. Not a bad public, that.
― Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons

I noted, while reading over this, that I did a thing I generally do—not talk about individual failures with individual projects. They can’t be accounted for by the larger issues of audience and intention. Bigger projects—like whole manuscripts—carry their inevitable weight in terms of my sense of who and how I am. Individual projects—poems, collages, sewing projects that are NOT my daughter’s wedding gown—those are where risk is freedom and failure is just learning. If they’re poems and don’t take up space except in my drafts pile and computer file, then I’m sort of cheered by them. They remind me that failure is not artistic death. If they’re extra bad drawings, I can just ditch them and be happy for how making them took me deeper into looking. I’m believe I’m not ever going to be unhappy about having made them: I’m perfectly content to have made an attempt to write “The Poetry of Dentistry” and make it a comic poem. Boy does that one stink. There is always the chance that I might figure it out and turn it around one of these days, but meanwhile its continued existence is a bit like a by-its-nature brief friendship. It’s woven into the fabric like a slub in raw silk—the kind with different-colored warp and woof threats so that it changes colors in different light, like the stuff I made my daughter’s wedding gown from. It wasn’t perfect, either, but it was gorgeous.

New Scrolls in Fairy Houses!

Where: along the dog walking path at Santa Fe Skies RV Park.

What: poems by Devon Miller-Duggan housed in recycled metal sculptures.

How to View: drop by the Park which is off of Route 14. Look for three “houses” (created by Tim Brown) for the poems: mushroom, cantina, and cabin. Read the poems, which are printed on sumingashi marbled paper by Isabel Windon-Sagan.

This is our third year of presenting poems. Thank you Devon!

Stuff II: The Saga Continues by Devon Miller-Duggan


I got rolling with the pre-renovation packing and may have packed away too much. We’ll see how I do for the next few months without my nice studio pottery serving bowls. I’m fairly sure I’ll be happy to see them come back out. But there are a number of difficult items—things that were given to me lovingly, but that are not “us,” “us” being not merely my husband and me, but also my daughter and son-in-law. We’re not completely integrating the spaces, but there is a bit of a move to make the common spaces more common, and the couple of pieces of Victoriana definitely do not belong. That’d be fine, if I weren’t a person to whom the visual mattered less (or who was less bougie, as my daughters delight in reminding me). I have a pretty high tolerance for mixing periods and styles—I sometimes even do it on purpose, either because it amuses me (every knob on my kitchen cabinets is different) or because I’ve always liked the way European households often manage to mix heritage pieces and Ikea sort of casually (so…because I still wish I lived in Europe?). But the beautiful Limoges bowl with flowers and gilt, which my aunt loved and gave me because she thought I’d love it as much as she did, while still quite beautiful, just sounds a vaguely plaintive note in my living room. So what to do with it? That’s where the whole “stuff” question gets really noisome. I have quite a few things that fit into the awkward category of Too-Nice-for-Goodwill-But-Tough-to-Unload. Millenials famously do not want “brown” furniture unless it’s mid-Century modern, and even that is, I gather, losing its cachet. So the Empire card table my husband came with but I never liked, my mother-in-law’s faux-Chippendale secretary (whose spot is about to be taken up with a new powder room), her Welsh cupboard (which will NOT go in the renovated kitchen)—what the heck do I do with it. Some of it I have listed on FB Marketplace (where I narrowly averted being scammed by someone who pretended to want the charming pine dresser that was in my childhood bedroom), but really, no one wants the Belleek cup-and-saucer my MIL brought back as her obligatory souvenir from Ireland, and even if I wanted to give it to Goodwill (my MIL was famously open in her dislike of my existence—but that’s what you get when your in-laws are basically a Eugene O’Neill play), it’s too delicate. And too pretty. I just don’t want it, and it turns out, neither does my husband. If you do (it’s the scallop-shell pattern), feel free to let me know—I’ll pack it right up and put it in the USPS to you. Ditto the Belleek creamer and sugar bowl (odd pattern with Bacchus’s head and many grapes). Seriously, let me know.

Stuff.1 by Devon Miller-Duggan


There are memes on social media and articles in all sorts of publications telling us (Boomers) that the subsequent generations DO NOT want our stuff. Not our heirlooms, not our elegant china, not our furniture. None of it. This may be a phase. Humans have phases. But it does make it oddly hard to de-stuff your stuff if you have a need to do that. In our house, we’re prepping for a bunch of major renovations to make the house functional for two families so that our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter can comfortably stay and, hopefully, see us through aging-in-place. The house is big. The yard is BIG. We like each other a lot and have been living together for 5+ years. It’s a classic story—they moved in planning on it being temporary, and it turned permanent. Works for us. But the house does need some changes for 5 big personalities to negotiate American-standard communal living, so we’re wading into a bazillion months of construction. This necessitates lots of packing-away. Which involves LOTS of why-are-we-keeping-this work. I am, so far, enjoying it. It feels like order-making in the midst of a mildly dis-ordered life in the midst of a massively dis-ordered world.  

One of the things I find myself most attached to are fabrics. It’s so bad that I asked my daughters last year to stage what amounted to an intervention in advance of a yard sale. I unloaded about ½ my stash in the face of ruthless questions about whether I was EVER going to make anything out of X yardage. Not much of it sold at the yard sale, but a bit more than half went to a woman in our neighborhood who makes all her children’s clothes (also homeschools them and grows lots of veg in her front yard. The person who took the fabric was a friend of hers who mentioned this, so I cajoled her into taking practically everything kid-able in the piles. The rest went to the thrift store, where it will, hopefully, find other sewists who want it. There was a lot of wool in there. Who wears wool any longer? I don’t, especially the sorts of skirts and jumpers I used to wear a lot. We don’t have much winter in DE.  

Just this morning, I went to put on a dress that is too big, feels frumpy, and has seen me through a lot of summers (I tend to keep clothes I like a long time). The thing is, I LOVE the print. Love it. I could take the dress in, and may, or I could cut it up (the fabric is in great shape) and make a dress for a granddaughter. What I won’t do is put it in the thrift store box because the fabric is a perfect print and makes me happy every time I look at it.  

So I’ve been thinking about what categories of stuff I am most attached to. I am surprised to say that it’s a smallish list: a few of the things my grandfather gave me, some books, lots of art, a few pieces of jewelry, and fabrics I love, most of them one shade or another of green, photos. So why is my house so blasted full of stuff I don’t really want (my mother’s Lenox, my Madame Alexander dolls…), but that is too good to thrift, and too hard to sell? I have thought it was acquisitiveness—one of the Great Sins and a convenient thing to beat myself up about. But I think it’s got more to do with accretion and connection—stuff that I loved in the past, or just landed here because someone else close unloaded it and I automatically kept it because of that connection. So if you’d like my mother’s almost unused set of Lenox “Autumn” china, let me know. I’ll be happy to ship it off to you. As soon as I find it.

Baskets by Devon Miller-Duggan


I have faith in baskets. Especially square and rectangular baskets, though I have them in other shapes. The faith is about how baskets, strategically placed on shelves and surfaces throughout my house will save us from the chaos of our collective modes of moving through life—or keep us looking like people who care. There are 5 humans in this house, each of us with a different approach to Stuff. These approaches range from “It’s where I have always lived and it is all my space”—that would be the 5-yr old, and why not—to outright hoarding (books-and-papers—that would be my husband, who is a child of a hoarder. My mother-in-law kept, among other things, every flower arrangement we ever sent her. She was the Miss Haversham of floral arrangements). I’m the daughter of a collector. As best I can figure, the distinction is about intention—my father meant to have over a thousand duck decoys, and hundreds of antique oyster cans, among other collections. The only thing my mother collected was clothes—red silk blouses and classic cotton bandanas in particular. The son-in-law who lives with us has ADHD as forceful as mine and is a little oblivious to the stuff he leaves in his wake. He’s working on it, but he has a full-time job with a finance company, is finishing his BA, and thinks that spending time with his kiddo is more important than picking up. My daughter is a retail manager who has weird hours and more stress than her salary could possibly compensate for. She and I both try. My major tool to combat this 5-person storm of compulsion and obliviousness is baskets. I put them where things pile up (inside the front door), sometimes with names on them. This has helped with the tripping-over-other-people’s-shoes problem. But mostly they turn into miscellaneous collections of Stuff that we forget we have. Yet my faith has held firm. We’re about to do some major renovations on the house. These require a lot of packing away of things, but also a great confrontation with Stuff We Don’t Need. It’s a good thing. But God help anyone who suggests I let go of any of my baskets.

Fairy House Preview

So exciting–we’re entering the third year of poetry in the fairy houses on the dog path of Santa Fe Skies RV Park off of Route 14.
We’ve enjoyed hosting poems by Bill Waters, and are thrilled to preview Devon Miller-Duggan. Here is one of her poems. All of them will be installed by early summer. Stay tuned!


All the dogs know we’re here.
None of the dogs wants you to know
what they know about our sun-cap and curved gills.
None of the dogs believe you’d believe
the dreams we puff out just for them,
just for them through the S of our door.
Look closely as you can,
closely, closely. Perhaps
your dog will breathe just right
so that you glimpse
rainbows just behind the door.

Mushroom with sculptor Tim Brown, whose vision infuses the themes of the Fairy Houses.

The Magic Garden by Devon Miller-Duggan

The Magic Garden

I had driven past Isaiah Zagar’s Magic Garden in Philly (Philadelphia to those of you not from the mid-Atlantic) that I really had myself convinced that I had been there. There are over 200 Zagar or Zagar’s-student mosaics around Philly. ALL around Philly. Between those and the remarkable number of murals all over the place, Philly can be quite the visual feast from the street level, provided the traffic doesn’t kill you.

I am a huge fan of Outsider Art as well a s a passionate fan of High/Canonical Art. I just plain love to look at things humans make with their hands. Zagar, who has an art degree, is a particularly wonderful example of what happens when someone with canonical training lets their not-so-inner obsessive out to play with “outsider” media. “Magic” is right.

Anyway, I was apparently deluded about having been to the Magic Garden because GOODGOLLYMISSMOLLY, I’d have remembered that very clearly. Viscerally.

I’ve done a fair amount of mosaic—all in the prissily named “Pique Assiette” mode of using random and busted china. I’m sure I was inspired by years of loving to run into Zagar pieces all over Philly, but what really got me going was having a new bathroom built when we renovated the house to make an apartment for my mother. Context: this renovation, which added a whole new floor to our split-level was massive and happened in the months after my father had died. Hint: Do not make major renovations when you’re in the first year of major loss—grief is not a good decision-context. I made some stupid choices, including the Jacuzzi-type tub the contractor warned us that people never use as much as they think they will. But the goofiest decision I made was when the contractor gave me the name of the tile company he used so I could go pick out tile for the tub, I blurted out “Oh, I’ll do that myself.” The contractor rolled his eyes, asked me if I’d ever done anything of the sort, and then gave in (probably quietly planning how his crew would clean up my mess). But I did it—a pretty large Gaudi-esque swirl of trees around the tub and the sink. They turned out very well. Mosaic is not particularly complicated work. It’s not oil painting or throwing clay. And it was, in its way, very therapeutic to search out all the bits and pieces in thrift stores and on eBay, then break them up and sort them (I have always loved to sort things) and put them back together in a new order of my choosing. I stayed up into the wee hours listening to local news from Caribbean islands and Scandanavian countries (what’s on at 3 a.m. on our local NPR station), crouched in the tub making broken teacups into trees.

I also did a somewhat more Zagar-ish (it includes more 3-D bits) dark green border around our garage. The neighbors in our very NORMAL neighborhood have been remarkably tolerant.

I’ve also seen a fair amount of outsider work, like the Beer Can Castle in Colorado. But nothing really prepared me for the gorgeously quirky intersection of sophisticated inventiveness and wildness in the Magic Garden. You have the sense of being inside a profoundly connected and intelligent intentionality (brain/spirit) at the same time as the sensuality and physicality of the place (parts jut out everywhere and “windows” insist that your body follow them through the twisty spaces (body/eroticism). There seems to have been no “thing” that could be grouted in to a wall/floor/ceiling that Zagar couldn’t find a place for, and all of those things play with each other and with light and make sensual and brainy and joyous sense out of a mind that (Zagar lives with bi-polar disorder) is not always able to make sense to itself; because the world of the intangible is often full of darkness and intransigence, the Garden turns its embrace to the physical world to find grace. St. Paul would have hated it, which is recommendation enough for me, since Paul frequently ticks me off royally.

More to the point, I “got” it with every cell in my body and every chamber in my heart. If ever a place was simultaneously ridiculous and sacred, if ever a place embraced the mess of having to live in the physical world while being creatures of spirit, this is it.

Chapter 1,000 in The Mama Saga by Devon Miller-Duggan

Chapter 1,000 in The Mama Saga

When I left the house to have an early morning mammogram, I checked in and she was lucid and fine. When her aide arrived half an hour later, The Mama was lucid and fine. She was fine when I came home. She was fine until sometime around noon when the aide sent my daughter up with the message that The Mama was having a stroke. My daughter clearly thought one of them was being dramatic (both are maybe prone to that, and since TM has both dementia and 50+ years of MS, we can’t always tell what’s going on). But the aide, who is wise and has seen a few things, was correct. So I stuck an uncoated aspirin under TM’s tongue and called an ambulance. Dithered a bit about whether to have her taken to the Level 1 Trauma ED, where I have had a number of pretty non-happy experiences that went on for hours and hours, or the Level 2 to which I usually take her because it’s fast, nicer, and reliable. Went for Level 1, partially because that’s the hospital that has a floor dedicated to the Hospice outfit that we’ve had good experience with. It turns out that being a critical case in a Level 1 is an immeasurably different experience than being a mere kidney stone or busted something or other. Other than to say that from beginning to discharge, every human we had contact with was operating at peak humanity and peak competence, I’ll spare you the details. What was interesting was The Mama. First, in case you ever wondered, no matter how entangled/close/intimate you might be with your loved one, when they super-focus on you pleadingly in the ED and repeat “NO, NO, NO…” over and over, you will probably not know what they are saying “no” to. “Don’t let me die,” “don’t let them take me away from you for a CT scan,” “I am damn well NOT having a stroke,” and “let me go; no intervention” are all among the possibilities, and aphasia pretty likely will make it impossible, absent a Vulcan mind-meld, for you to tell what you are being asked to do or not do. This is the point where I offer a public service suggestion: you cannot possibly imagine how important it will be to have a legal directive and a POA with you, because the ED is definitely not the place to figure out that stuff, let alone have to make guesses or judgement calls. Because no matter how good you are in an emergency, you will be dumb enough to ask a neurologist you will later find out is an MD/PhD whether he has any experience with MS, and that is no predictor for good decision-making.

Back to The Mama. It was a monster arterial clot. Since, unlike invasive interventions, are on the table, I okayed TPA but no transfusions should it cause a bleed. It worked like whoever invented it dreamt it would. She was better 15 minutes after they administered it. Which meant we were back to her normal cycle of mild aphasia followed by periods of clear speech, followed by milder aphasia-Lather, Rinse, Repeat. There were three interesting bits: the first was when she spent 20 labored minutes trying to get out a sentence that finally formed into “I don’t want anything to be wrong with me that will affect anyone else!” Since this is about 8 hours after she’s been admitted and I am several flavors of gonzo-tired/wired, my unspoken immediate response to that was “too late for that one, Mama!’ But I did what you do and kissed her on the forehead and said “I know. It’s okay.” The second happened shortly after that. She’s gotten super-sensitive to discomfort as the dementia has progressed. She has a particular animus for BP cuffs and pretty much always looks at me like I am feeding her to a dragon when a nurse pumps the cuff. Having spent much of the day fretting at it, she suddenly figured out that she could slip it off, so she did. And then spend a good 2 minutes giggling maniacally. That was both hilarious and disconcerting. I was glad my daughter was there to see it. Otherwise the whole family would have accused me of hyperbole later… And the third interesting/revealing/weird moment was during one of the every-20-minutes neuro-exams—the verbal part. It went sort of like this:

Nurse: What’s your name?

TM (giggling and twinkling her eyes): Devon.

Nurse: Do you know where we are?

TM (still twinkling): Devon

Nurse: What’s your birthday?

TM (twinkling and bobbing her head happily): Devon

Nurse (with infinite patience): Do you know why you’re here?

TM (serious now): Devon

Nurse (giving up, looking at me quizzically): Well, that was interesting.

My Daughter (looking sympathetically at me, talking to the Nurse): You have no idea.

Me: blank, blurry “save me” stare at the ceiling, then nod to nurse, who then seamlessly moves on to the physical part of the exam and pretends she didn’t just witness that. I figure that the nurses in the Neuro-ICU probably see lots of weird interactions.

So here we are back home and back to what vaguely passes for normal. The world inside my house certainly runs in extremes. On the one hand, I started sobbing while carrying a basket of laundry upstairs this morning. Not a big deal—I suspect this will happen off and on for a few days. But my 19-month-old grand-daughter, who lives here and was behind the gate in her parents’ living room about 20 feet away (her parents were talking about job hunting and didn’t hear me—I wasn’t very loud) heard me and came over to the gate, leaned her head against it and started chanting “Oma, Oma, Oma!” until I took a nice deep breath and told her I was okay. Then she went back to stepping on all her noisiest toys while her parents were talking. Like a toddler should.

Devon Miller-Duggan Turns 64 and Reflects on That and More

This Week

I turned 64. I like that I have now reached the age when I don’t have to ask my husband “Will you still need me? Will you still feed me when I’m 64?” mostly because I have a year in which I’m a line in a Beatles song. I’m not sure why that amuses me so much, but it does, and I’m not inclined to expend much energy figuring it out. Maybe one of these days, we’ll rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight. If it’s not too dear…

I saw a list on line the other day of Beatles songs John Lennon didn’t like. A handful of my favorites are on the list. Either I have given up on being edgy/with-it, or it’s possible that Lennon and I don’t have to agree. I have friends who know and like my poems who are fondest of poems I think are mediocre, and I know for certain that I have given up fretting about this. Anything I can manage to give up fretting about is a good thing.

And my husband did feed me, in fact. I bought the steaks and peas and potatoes and Boursin (for the potatoes), but he cooked. And, besides, I was doing the weekly grocery shopping for my mother, so I had time to noodle around in the store thinking about whether I wanted steak or king crab. He likes to cook more than I do these days, and he got everything done perfectly.

I don’t particularly like it when my birthday coincides with Mother’s Day. I have mixed feelings about both, and having them happen together just seems like too much to process in one day. So I did the morning routine for my mother (tough to schedule an aide on the holiday), went to church, probably let myself get talked into helping with an internet book club set up between young South African women and young American women, shopped for my mother (who was aware neither of my birthday, nor of Mother’s Day, which was okay with me) took a nap, did some submissions stuff, played Words with Friends, and spent the rest of the day either crocheting or eating and watching TV with my husband. The highlight of the day was probably when I told my 18-month-old-grand-daughter I loved her and she came over and kissed me (a first—she’s plenty affectionate, but this sort of specificity is new, and she chirps/sings as she walks, which is pretty wonderful to live with).

It’s been a complicated semester. I had a kidney stone early on and have never quite felt like I’ve gotten my feet under me. I’m teaching a new course—typically, I came up with a nifty idea about doing imitations of a bunch of poets, but only semi thought it through—this is one of the parts where being an experiential learner doesn’t always work out for the best. The course will be better next time I teach it, but seems to have not been a disaster, as nearly as I can tell, this time ‘round. My other two classes had big, tough issues I’ve never dealt with before, neither of which should go in a blog–one a headbanger, one a heartbreaker. And I lost 30-40 hours at the beginning of the semester to a new Faculty Evaluation System put in place at Pretty Good U that is a total POS (it has, for instance, gone down in the middle of contract renewal system, of course). And I’m pretty ticked that I am going to start having an actual attendance policy in classes (I’ve done quite nicely for years with one that consisted of “You expect me to be here, don’t you? I expect the same.”), but absences have gotten way out of hand. I blame the zeitgeist. Meanwhile, my mother’s slide downward has picked up speed—she’s almost out of language, and has begun to be seriously short of breath. And I have been trying to get her whole home-health-aide situation re-settled since the week between Xmas and New Year’s, when we found out that the coordinating insurer had pulled out of the market, and the new one won’t deal with Home Instead. In the northern of Delaware’s 3 counties. Just the one. Meanwhile, I am trying to coordinate between 4 companies/agencies. Much of this would be resolved by paying home-health-aides living wages, but they’re all for-profit companies, so…

The yard’s a mess, though it’s full of flowers. It’s been a weird, long, cold spring, so some things hung on forever. I’ve never had daffodils still blooming when irises came up. It was pretty. The stripey pale pink azalea has been in bloom for ages. But it got stinky hot just in time to fry the lilacs the day after they bloomed. I haven’t walked the back yard for several weeks. I’m betting there’s some poison ivy out there somewhere. And I think I’ve decided to forgo the fancy wood play-set-with-house-and-climbing-wall that seems to be the suburban standard in favor of an old-fashioned swing set. But the poison ivy will have to be dealt with first.

Our cello prof tends to favor 20th/21st c. music, so I don’t often go hear him (I’m fond of some, especially of the elegiac sort, but often feel like I’m wearing uncomfortable underwear when listening to much of it), but he did a 2-night recital of Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites several weeks back. It was imperfect and glorious and made me so goofily happy that I email fan-girl-ed him. We’re going to try to have coffee. There’s much too little cross-departmental conversation around here, just because depts. are so big and we’re all so separate, so that’s kind of nice.

Last day of class tomorrow. Mostly, my students will be reciting the poems they’ve chosen to memorize. That’s nice, too. And it’s looking like I’ll survive to teach another semester. The summer’s big projects include reading all the books of poetry I haven’t gotten to all year and re-organizing the bookshelves. Could definitely be worse, which, these days, is saying a lot.