I have a super announcement–I am working on my 5th book of poetry! The poems are being selected, polished up and organized now. Hopefully, by the end of the month, the new collection will be ready for submission. The BLOG tab will be removed once I begin seeking a publisher. Don’t want old drafts of poems to be confused with final versions. The title of the book is TBA.
Please consider picking up some poetry on my main page. Thank you for visiting my site. When someone “likes” anything I post it sends me to the moon and back!
P.S. For about 10 years Washington State has voted by mail. I voted last week. Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who oversees voting says about 004% of our voters did, it appears, try to vote fraudulently. They voted for someone else who had passed away, or they voted more than once. And that was 142 people out of 3.2 million ballots cast.
So, yesterday I caught myself flexing on the lady givin’ me a $25 haircut. Afterward, I walked out of the place and while driving home, examined a strange, yet familiar, feeling like something was wrong…(I’m a bit slow about these things) Then it hit me “OMG I was totally rude to the lady who cut my hair!”
“WHY?” I screamed to the mountains!
“WHY?” I yelled to the sea!
During this serious shitstorm of a time in history WHY would I flex during a standard life interaction with another human? Here is what happen… We started to share how the lockdown had effect us and compared notes. I basically bragged about how fortunate I was that BOTH my jobs were essential and how incredibly busy I’ve been. Then I handed the talking stick to her and she blew my mind. She is in her early 30s, newly married. Found out she was pregnant in March. Lost her job in March. She filed for unemployment. Received about two months’ worth when it stopped with no notice. She called in an inquiry, the state said she did not qualify for unemployment and would have to pay all of it back. She protested their decision. This resulted in her having to defend herself in court. She won. Now the judge has ordered that the unpaid 6 weeks of unemployment be sent to her asap, which hopefully will arrive by mid-July.
“I’m all stressed out with the baby, my job, stupid unemployment being all messed up, and this virus thing. It’s horrible.”
Now, hourly pay at Supercuts Hair Salon ranges from an average of $8.10 to $13.36 an hour. Let’s say she worked 28 hours a week because those cheap-ass companies don’t want to pay their workers health care so they keep them under 36 hours. …and let’s guess she is making about $11.00 an hour, that’s $1848 gross, with 10% taken out for taxes that’s a check for $1664. That is some hard-earned cash! (BTW, this is the third time a person has shared a similar story with me about their unemployment payments being denied. WTH Washington?) The only saving grace for the haircutter was that her husband’s job is considered essential and he has worked through the whole lockdown, keeping them barely housed and fed.
So here I was getting my haircut for the first time since November 2019, waltzing into Supercuts thinking I am a boss. Sons of the bitch! This was rude. I didn’t even think about how rude until my drive home. Perhaps an evil side of my sub-conscious drove that whole event. Perhaps I was forgetting when I was a new mom and we couldn’t freakin’ afford a gallon of milk! I couldn’t buy new clothes for my kids. We couldn’t even afford for me to go to work, in town–because we only had one car–and due to the cost of daycare! I’ve been there. Really I have. Also, I’ve stood in the company with affluent upper-middle-class people who assume everyone in the room is like them. Going on and on about vacations, new cars, private yoga sessions, and seeing their doctor, one flex after the other. Felt their words grind up against my reality.
Yes, I do feel like I’ll need a vacation after lockdown. I’ll be honest. But I must always use my words carefully. I can’t control what others do, but I can control what the heck comes out of my mouth! Each home is having a different experience during this difficult time. Please learn from my mess up.
Be kind to each other.
Shower Thoughts: The Swiss must have been pretty confident in their victory if they included a corkscrew in their army knives.
Let’s check-in. Do you know anyone who has been directly affected by the virus? I personally know three people. Two friends of mine lost family members; one a mother the other a grandmother. This week I learned that an acquaintance had a meth relapse. One step farther outside my social circle, I’ve heard many more struggles, especially in relation to small businesses. It is a stressful time. Very sad.
Washington State is a small business hive. In Oct 2019, six months before the lockdown, Business News Daily reported:
Washington state hosts 608,956 small businesses that employ 1.4 million workers, which is more than half of the state’s private-sector workforce. These small businesses represent 99.5% of all Washington-based businesses, more than half of which maintain less than 100 employees. Washington’s economy is worth $563.2 billion, making it the 12th largest economy in the U.S. In 2018, real GDP grew by 5.7%, far outpacing the national average of 2.9%.
This week, talking with folks throughout my town, I believe the general consensus is that Washington State, much less Whatcom County, will continue to be conservative in its public gatherings well into next Spring. How can we restore the entrepreneurial character of our state? Also, I am beginning to hear plans for preparation for the second wave during the cold and flu seasons. In WA that is roughly four months November – February. I can see it now- folks not sure if they have a regular cold or CORVID-19. Hopefully, there will be MORE tests available so doctors will know what to do.
I saw a “Beautiful British Columbia” license plate yesterday for the first time in almost two months. I was shocked! Around the mall and Costco areas, it’s normally a 40/60 mix of US/Canadian plates. Bellingham is about a 20-30 minute drive to the Candian border and the exchange rate is favorable for the US. The border is closed to non-essential travel right now. TIL that there is a slight difference between the west coast and the east coast COVID-19 strain. I am wondering if the virus has mutated due to isolation between Vancouver, BC, and Seattle. What can citizens expect when the border re-opens?
What will the post-pandemic world look like? Well, for me, I never brought my laptop home. I shared an office with three co-workers. POST-Corvid my guess is work-life will be a hybrid of days in office & home. Many questions this morning. The answers wait for us in the future.
Here is a poem I’m working on. I wrote it last year on a day off. I took myself out for breakfast and was sat next to a coffee klatsch of ladies.
TWO TABLES OVER
by Shannon Laws
Four ladies at the diner
I can hear the flowered hat
and lace blouse in their voice
A mental corset shape their words
Manners learned from a hard
covered book control the conversation
It is a lovely visit
A fine afternoon
Let us meet again next Friday
They are a dying breed, I think
Second hand on a hanger
Classic female behavior
Early 20th-century thinking
My mood expressed in a meme. Stay safe, stay healthy. Love each other.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
Shower Thoughts: No other species is watched more while pooping than dogs.
Oh my goodness, day 40 has arrived! It’s been 40 days since the official declaration from our governor to Shelter in Place, March 24th. We are in the middle of our 5th week. We learned on Friday, May 1st, the lockdown will be extended to May 31st. How are you holding up? Hope you are healthy and adjusting to your new normal. As soon as we adjust completely, perhaps, going through all the stages of grief and loss, at some point we’ll be thrown back into the fire. This morning I am thinking about the working class returning to dead-end jobs. I’m wondering what factors make a job a good job.
The 5 stages of grief and loss are: 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them.
Many Americans will return to their jobs to face a brilliantly obvious discovery, a very REAL tried and true FACT- they are underpaid. Their previous jobs were unable to prepare them for regular emergencies such as a new transmission much less a pandemic. Middle-class life is now 30 percent more expensive than it was 20 years ago. Meanwhile, salaries, which have stagnated for decades don’t go as far as they once did to cover the necessities. Do we really want to go back to “normal”?
People with guns are starting to freak out. Last Thursday, April 30th, hundreds of well-armed citizens waving MAGA signs crashed the state capitol of Michigan demanding that the country reopen. They wanted to get to the House floor where representatives were in session but were blocked by state police and sergeants-at-arms. In Michigan, it is legal to carry firearms as long as it’s done with lawful intent and the weapon is visible. Lawful Intent? hmmmm… In my town, if this lockdown extends another two months, my biggest concern is folks might just start biking naked or something. But, there are many parts of the US where the breaking point could result in converting Doug’s Toyota Tacoma into a freaking ISIS tank and start patrols!
I’m wondering about the demographic that stormed the capitol. Are they the same that was studied in various reports over the last two decades? Did you know that the suicide rate for white middle-aged working-class men has spiked? This group of Americans appears to be the most pissed off and depressed. Why?
For white men without a college degree, the average growth in median wages between 1979 and 2017 was a negative number (−0.2 percent a year), even as median hourly earnings for all white workers grew by 11 percent in the same period. This wage deflation has had well-documented cultural ripple effects, depressing marriage rates as men’s appeal as partners fell along with their earnings. Without a stable family life, these men are more isolated, with fewer of the sorts of social buffers that might inoculate them against suicide or drug abuse. As a result, the rates for both have gone up.
For what it’s worth, I was raised in a working-class neighborhood in South Seattle and my folks had small businesses. A part of me recognizes these men. They are the sons of my neighbors. My personal interpretation is that these suicide rates reflect a group of men unwilling to seek self-improvement in the form of therapy or education. Perhaps in their culture it is a sign of weakness, or maybe they do not believe they are wrong, mentally injured, or perhaps it is a simple financial barrier. Adaptation to our changing world is difficult but necessary.
So, let’s move ahead a few months. We have a Presidential election coming up. Is Biden going to go the way of Hilary or Barak in his campaign outreach? Will he be able to identify, and connect with the majority of voters? …also could folks start voting out the sellouts in the Senate? Seriously. Otherwise, in my view, Trump will simply be more fuel to the unpredictable, unstable, despair bonfire.
Here is my current mood expressed in a meme. Thanks for visiting. Be safe, stay healthy. -Shannon
Today felt like a normal day. The middle of the week is busy-time. Busy-time is my normal. I can’t help myself. Perhaps, one day, I’ll be a free spirit like the porta potties in the video–blowing in the wind–but hopefully, I won’t be full of shit. hahahahaa! Well, maybe a little.
1) an observed joy- I don’t want to jinx us, but the weather since the mandate started has been SO nice. Spring birds are chirping up a storm, light breeze, blue skies, and sunshine= perfect.
2) a real concern- Today I saw the news clips from 4/13. Once again I’m absolutely flabbergasted by something our president said. He represents many things that are wrong with our country. Yes, I am concerned. Concerned and sadden.
3) a personal challenge- Remember to always bring a mask when I go out.
4) one personal success (no matter how small)- I checked off everything on my Tuesday to-do list.
5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- I believe I’ve experienced all five stages of grief during the lockdown– denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Here is my current mood expressed by a meme. Take care of yourself, stay home, stay healthy, love one another.
Noel Casler, a celebrity and comedian who used to work on the Apprentice, did a radio interview on CJAD with radio host Dave Kaufman and to say the interview was terrifying would be an understatement. He talked quite a bit about Donald Trump’s alleged drug habit, something that many people have openly discussed over the years. There was lots of buzz about him snorting Adderall and abusing Sudafed. But for some reason, everyone just…let it go once he won (stole) the election in 2016.
Then Casler moved on to the NDA’s and the reluctance (fear) that everyone in Hollywood has about coming about and saying what they really know about Trump and his family. People, sadly, put their own personal needs and careers over what is best for the country, so they chose to stay silent. Casler than talked about Trump sexually assaulting women – discussing the Barney’s dressing room, specifically.
Yesterday my daughter’s gift arrived! It is a beautiful hand-sewn mask by a fabric artist who lives near my daughter on San Juan Island, Washington. Here is the photo I took to share with you. Placed my breakfast inside to simulate a nose. I love the little cutie tangerines that come in mesh bags this time of year at my grocery store.
I heard on the radio this morning that the spring/summer harvest of many crops in America are left to rot in the fields. They are essential of course, but there are two issues, the farmers have no money to pay the workers, and the mass majority of Americans can not afford the food, which dominoed into fewer buyers purchasing the bulk produce. NPR Morning Edition reported:
“…In fact, the pandemic has caused entirely different problems: a spike in the number of people who can’t afford groceries and a glut of food where it’s not needed. Dairy farmers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Georgia have been forced to dump thousands of gallons of milk that no one will buy. In Florida, vegetable growers are abandoning harvest-ready fields of tomatoes, yellow squash, and cucumbers for the same reason.”
Is there a food shortage coming? Once again I will attempt to quiet my panic. Calm it with prayer/meditation, give it to the trails I walk, allow it to transform into motivation and energize me while I work. We have to trust that the people with direct influence over these decisions have the wisdom and courage to make the right choice for all of America. It is difficult to trust our leaders. Consistent empathy towards citizens is non-existent. Personal gain is KING.
1) an observed joy- the Good Friday live stream service today
2) a real concern- No personal concerns at this time, but some things I am wondering about, for instance, when Washington re-opens, will they need to control our State’s borders? Will the price of gas go up soon?
3) a personal challenge- My next shopping day is April 15th. I want to have a new, leaner strategy, anticipating that Washington State will extend the mandate to the end of May.
4) one personal success (no matter how small)- I am stretching in the mornings with a 30-minute video I found on YouTube.
5) a random thought (no matter how silly)- Can I come out of the pandemic healthier than when I went in?
Here is a photo to illustrate my mood today. Thank you for visiting my blog. Please click “LIKE” and let me know you came by. Peace & health be with you, Shannon
So, a while back a friend said she could finally afford to buy that bohemian coat she wanted. The use of the word “bohemian” spurred memories. I’ve considered myself a bohemian ever since my aunt gave me a turquoise & silver ring when I was seven. My aunt lived the bohemian lifestyle and getting that ring from her, in my simple-kid mind, meant I was in the club. My contributions to the movement were growing out my long straight black hair, wearing a bandana when I mowed the lawn and, as often as possible, sit on our couch in an incorrect manner.
Before the pale blues and mauves of the ’80s made their appearance into my childhood, I was surrounded by beatnik leftovers from my parent’s first home; my mother’s early ’60s style contrasted with her sister’s ’70s experience melting together into a sweet avocado green. Of course, I had no idea what either of those lifestyles was about! Our living room was crowned by a 3-foot round metal, astrological chart wheel hanging above a black and white leopard print flop couch, adjacent to a row of mahogany stained bookshelves and dad’s tobacco pipe cady. In my room, Barbie was living clean in her shoebox and lego “Dream House”. Literature in the home included encyclopedias, LIFE Book collections, sci-fi books and poetry by Kahlil Gibran. Music was predominately 60’s jazz albums, Bill Cosby, Helen Reddy, and Carole King.
But it wasn’t my stuff, it was the life and home that my parents built for us. It was warm and happy. As an adult, how do I recreate a modern art of living? Somewhere along the way, I lost it. I need to get out of survival mode and find my faux-bohemian again.
Turn those dreams of the high retired life down a couple notches. First, be honest with yourself. Instead of a dream retirement cabin on the lake, you can be just as happy in a studio apartment that’s 30-minutes away from a lake. Just visit the lake. You don’t need the whole lake. This isn’t the 50’s. No lake for you.
The west coast of Washington and Oregon offer a high quality of life, clean air, water including water in the shape of lakes that we can all visit. In WA we have all four seasons, mild winters, besides the scratchy track of volcanoes down the middle of the Cascades, we’re doing alright…except for the cost of living. According to the site costofliving.net the cost of living in Washington is higher than the national average. They report,
“Our cost of living indices are based on a US average of 100. An amount below 100 means Washington is cheaper than the US average. A cost of living index above 100 means Washington, Washington is more expensive. Washington’s cost of living is 118.7. Housing is the biggest factor in the cost of living difference. The median home price in Washington is $381,300.”
How do you add quality to your life on a tight budget? Of course, defining “quality” is person-specific. In this economy, in this city, I am trying to live a good life but I feel like most efforts bring me down, and I am starting to take it personally. This American Life has it out for me. I pissed it off somewhere along the line and it’s not giving me anything, no living income, no happily ever after, no satisfaction except in a sunrise, no joy but in my neighbors blooming trees, no love but when that orange cat comes by and rubs its cheek against my doorway, no peace but the ocean that tells me it’s always there—it goes out, but it will come back, it always comes back. No glory but a rainbow around the moon and my childhood friend the Big Dipper and Orion chasing each other in the sky. The world is a big and resourceful place if you are a tiny red ant working with a million other clones. It’s all about perspective.
Early morning air whistles past the plant on the dresser, kicks at a scarf hanging on my bed post, then finds the place in my mind holding childhood trinkets. I surprise myself, reacting in song. I sing an old folk song handled and dusted by time, passed down generation to generation. An oil cloth recalls the brass plate, treasured like a trophy discovered in the attic, reveals the words “Oh My Darling Clementine.”
Wearing boxes without topses
Wind and song send me away. I’m sitting in the back of my dad’s big green truck, singing with family; brother, cousins, Aunt Jo and mom. Camping gear stacked strategically around us and beneath. Weather report checked in the morning Seattle Times, large blue tarps folded in squares under the red cooler. The cooler is full of four days worth of food including butter, milk, cheddar, baloney, and beer, of course, beer.
I-5 smog blows through the broken floorboard near the tailgate, the only bare spot on the floor; it’s a leak to the outside world. It looks like a tiger bite or a claw ripped at the wood. I want to stuff a kitchen towel in it to seal the room. Our only source of light comes from the long rectangular canopy windows. Classic layout, men in the cab, women, and children in the covered bed with the other commodities. We sing to pass the time, the men listen to the radio.
It’s 1977, summer vacation, and mom has cut off our worn school jeans to mid-thigh. All our church clothes left quietly resting in the dressers at home. Anything ripped or stained is allowed to go to the beach
At the half-way point, we stop to refuel.
I do not know how I must have looked to the clerk at the gas station as I walked up to the counter with a handful of wrinkled dollars. Did I resemble a poor latch-key kid abandoned by working parents or perhaps a tourist who lost their luggage, forced to purchase a salvation army wardrobe? The back of my long black hair teased out from a short nap. Maybe she saw many kids buying Bubblicious and a blue slurpee that warm week in June. She saw so many a day that she didn’t really see me, I blended in with the neighborhood kids, whatever that neighborhood was called, wherever we were.
The night air brings it back to me. I don’t know how. Does memory ride the current like evergreen pollen, stains the skin with a fine yellow dusting? Like that afternoon the San Juan woods seduced me to take the wrong turn, bending me towards a grove of pine in heat?
I travel a bit…
At the end of my childhood block is a field of sweet grass. Pull a large stalk, slowly, straight up, out of its hinge and you have a treat, chew the white sweet end for its nectar. One bite is all you get per blade. Take the flat half, place between your thumbs and blow. We sat all afternoon chewing on sweet grass and whistling. Why should I remember that? That quiet moment found in a field, in South King County.
A few trees still stand there, ask them, they might know.
Remember. Forget. Remember again.
More wind. I am 10, I hear it all again. That vacation one summer…
The forest behind me, the constant waves crashing just over the dunes, the violent sound of a bag of ice thrown to the ground to break it up, the repeated clink of a male metal pump tapping rapidly along the female rim of a full tank.
“Kids, time to go!” An adult performs the last chore, drains the melted water pressed behind a flimsy white stopper at the cooler’s base. A solid stream of water hits the dusty oil ground with a poof! Water skates to the lowest point, rainbows wiggle along the ground. It’s pretty. A fresh bag of broken ice opened, poured over the perishables.
The cooler, our snacks, ourselves tucked back into Big Green for the last leg of the trip.
A daystar opened in my row of dead leaves pallid from the wind a golden center ready for the slug that finds it blind and eats it whole. Feet that feel no miracles will stomp on it thinking it a weed in the way of clearing fallen bark and broken twigs that quit the tree. January snowdrop white as milk glows like fairy-light on the foggiest morning of the week frosted in the polar vortex, born again.
Guest Poet Bio:
Born in Pennsylvania and educated in England, Denise duMaurier worked as a stage actor in character roles for more than 50 years. Her love of poetry began with wonderful roles from the “SH-guys:” Shakespeare, Sheridan, Shaw. Her latest book, Follow Me Down, contains poems of tribute, remembrance and aging, most written in Minneapolis, MN, before moving to Bellingham, WA, in the spring of 2010, to escape Minnesota’s winters.
Village Books is pleased to carry copies of Denise’s poetry books Follow Me Down and Abandoning the Raft. Please call 360-671-2626 to obtain copies.
~Thank you Denise for allowing me to post this beautiful, fresh new poem on my blog. When you shared it with me the other day at our Saturday brunch, I was moved. If it wasn’t for the noise of the cafe, people may have heard me sniffing tears away. It touched my heart as your poetry often does. Great stuff! –Shannon