gravel road girl

Archive for the category “simplicity”

(Unrevised) Poem of the Day: Marmalade



my old, faithful cat

lies at my feet

curled around herself.

Like a rug

washed too many times,

she is patchy

and frayed

and thinning.

She no longer gives service

for catching mice

or for kittenly entertainment,

but like any good dog,

she is a cat of


and presence

and enduring love.

(Not) A Poem a Day: Swans

photo: Drazen Neske, Unsplash

Because writing time has been at a premium lately, I’m posting a recently written poem. As we here in the Midwest impatiently wait for spring, the gathering of eagles near open water and the flight of swans makes things bearable and gives us hope.


written Friday, March 4, 2022

Two pair of swans,


flying swiftly

to the northeast

as if sprung from a bow

arrow straight.


below them

limited by where the asphalt

could take me

wished to reach up

to fly away with them

free of roads

free of fences

free of my own


A Million Little Things

A million little things.

That’s what I did today. Because I couldn’t decide on one big thing–a thing that would really matter–I did a million little things.

Little things, that in the scope of my life, probably won’t matter or even be remembered. But for today, little things were all I could tackle.

I picked tomatoes and pawed through the pole beans that weren’t supposed to be pole beans. I know how to garden. I planted bush beans, but alas, I have pole beans. Pole beans planted in rows don’t work very well.

I picked some beans.

I stopped to pet, hold, and talk to all three of my ‘barn cats’–Marty, Libby, and Theo. I don’t have a barn, but ‘garage cats’ just doesn’t sound as quaint.

Libby, the ‘barn cat’

I sprayed my black Aussie/border collie dog, Bonnie, with the hose because she likes it, and it’s Iowa-August hot outside. I was supposed to be putting the sprinkler on the garden.

I put the sprinkler on the garden.

Did I mention I’m doing all of this in my pajamas? It’s o.k. I live on 3.5 acres surrounded by derecho-flattened cornfields. It is sad, and I will miss the dry rustle of harvest-ready corn across the Iowa countryside this fall.

I gave my potted fern a trim. She had a lot of brown, poor thing, and reminded me of me when I need a root touch up. It was tedious, but I felt sorry for her.

That’s the thing about a million little things: they’re often tedious. That’s why we don’t do them.

They don’t really matter, and they’re tedious. But after I trimmed Fern, I felt just a little better. She sits on my front porch. Who wants a scraggly fern as their first hello?

I washed my soap dish.

I know, you’re thinking that’s a bit extreme, maybe OCD. Who knew a soap dish needed washing, right? They do. They get soap-grunge. Trust me.

As I washed my grungy soap dish, I pondered the practicality of said soap dish. Everybody uses liquid soap and hand sanitizer now, right?

Do I really NEED a soap dish?

I do. Because this soap dish was given to me by a friend who I don’t see nearly enough these days. And it’s special because she knew me well enough to know that I  would like it. Not every simple gift is so well thought over.

I put my clean soap dish back on my freshly cleaned sink.

I put my flower frogs back in their scattered places.

Yes, these are flower frogs. All 15 were borrowed by my niece to display table numbers at her wedding. . . on Aug. 1. I’m not sure why it’s been such a chore to disperse them back onto shelves and window ledges and coffee tables where they hold postcards and shells and feathers. It just was.

I wandered about and placed them. And I felt better for doing another little thing.

I hung white laundry on the line.

Even as I hung it, I looked at some grey clouds that tempted rain–maybe. “Are you lying?” I thought thoughts at the clouds. Clouds often lie in August. Oh well, I guess if it rains my whites will smell like sun and wind AND rain. There are much worse things.

I took my clothespin bag inside, hung it up, and petted Marmalade, the ‘house’ cat.

Marmalade is old and fat and sleeps wherever the fancy strikes her. Again, there are much worse things.

I took luggage to the attic.

We had only just used it this past weekend, so there was a sense of victory at the minimal-procrastination factor. It was tempered, though, by the fact that I quickly stuffed it into the dark, oven-like attic and raised the steps–no “putting things in their proper places” today.

Today was a day of little things, not attic cleaning.

I wrote a birthday card to friend who is miles and states and hills and valleys of memories away. Writing a card is a BIG little thing. We are all out of the practice of writing. . . with a pen. . . legibly. We are out of the practice of thinking purposeful, gracious thoughts and pondering sweet memories worth telling.

This was my biggest “little” thing today. I’m pretty sure it was worth more than my other little things.

I sipped A&W Diet root beer while I cut some fresh zinnias. The zinnias were much needed to replace the dead ones gracing my kitchen windowsill. A small ‘little thing’ that makes such a happy difference when at the sink.

The A&W root beer was a nostalgic choice. My grandparents took me to the A&W drive-in in Buffalo Center, Iowa, when I was old enough to go for a visit but still young enough to be home sick. The root beer float was a diversion tactic. I don’t recall if it worked, but I do remember the frosty mug of vanilla ice cream and icy root beer.

I enjoyed the memories and the cicadas and the root beer while I cut zinnias.   

Sometimes, on days–in seasons–like these when all you can tackle is a million little things one day, one moment, at a time you find that ‘little things’ are what keep life real and precious and particularly simple.

“You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need.” –Vernon Howard

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