The blogosphere is a vast and uncharted universe, encompassing as many blogs, with as many purposes, as one could possibly dream up. As administrator/mistress/placeholder of The Poplar Grove Muse, one of my intermittent tasks is to clear out the voluminous spam we collectively receive.

I do consider all of the ideas you’ve presented in your post.
They’re very convincing and will certainly work.
Nonetheless, the posts are very brief for
beginners. Could you please lengthen them a little from next time?
Thanks for the post.

Good day! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my good old room
mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this article to him.
Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing

Writing articles is a fun.

Who are these spammers? What can they possibly hope to achieve by spamming a women’s writing community blog, hawking, in their inelegant, scattershot ways, their various wares of porn, editing services, companionship, and who-knows what?  Every few weeks I find myself clearing out hundreds and hundreds of such pieces of trash, transferring them electronically to an ethereal virtual dustbin.

A huge proportion of these mis-aimed missives are in Russian, long, rambling incomprehensible rants in Cyrillic characters, while the “English” of many others is clearly not that of a native speaker, filled with alternately touching or annoying infelicities.  Lots of Viagra, lots of latent loneliness. Lots of entrepreneurial effort couched in terms so general, so eager to strike somewhere near some undefined advertising target, that these, too, seem to be composed in some foreign language of another species. Many posts suggest that [We Women] can easily find HOT women in our area—I might propose that WE ARE the hot women in our area.

It’s enormous that you are getting thoughts from this paragraph as well
as from our dialogue made at this time.

Ninety-one percent of those children in the intervention clique stated that the distracter helped and they would use it again

Rencontrez des filles sexy dans votre ville

I really want to f*** myself in the ass on the camera!!!!
I’m waiting for you!!
and my ass wants to f***!
  (This one appears too many times to count)

The names range from the crudely specific—Sexy girls for the night in your town — to those that suggest the bots that generated them— DiegoBioks,  Grokglodledly — to pleas from campaigns to save television shows I’ve never heard of— #SaveTheOA.  

A common theme that fascinates me is a general compliment of obscure intent:

Hi, I do think this is an excellent site. I stumbled upon it
I will revisit once again since I saved as a favorite it.
Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich
and continue to help others.

Or a seemingly respectful request for information or assistance that imputes a certain expertise to the fortunate recipient of the spam, the aim of which is also obscure:

I am curious to find out what blog system you’re
using? I’m experiencing some minor security problems with my
latest website and I would like to find something more safeguarded.
Do you have any recommendations?

Clearly not, or we wouldn’t be hearing from the likes of YOU.

Mistress Mary for The Poplar Grove Muse


Summer Day

I have always been a wanderer
Over land and sea
Yet a moonbeam on the water
Casts a spell o’er me
A vision fair I see
Again I seem to be

Back home again in Indiana
And it seems that I can see
The gleaming candlelight
Still burning bright
Through the sycamores for me
The new-mown hay sends all its fragrance
Through the fields I used to roam
When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash
How I long for my Indiana home

Fancy paints on memory’s canvas
Scenes that we hold dear
We recall them in days after
Clearly they appear
And often times I see
A scene that’s dear to me

A white bike appeared at the top of my street 6 weeks ago and has haunted my summer.  It arrived one Monday morning not long after a tragic hit and run bicycle death that occurred at that spot.  The ghost bike is both memorial to a man who died late one night while riding home and a warning to drivers watch for cyclists and share the road.  The bike rests against the street sign, and has gathered flowers, ribbons and notes as people pass by and want to leave a remembrance. I consider the bike and the incident that landed it there every day, multiple times a day as I drive to and from my house.  I never knew the man, but I did know his family, and I think of them as they must be spending this summer in sorrow. I wonder what that is like to spend the season of abundance and light, mourning the death of a loved one. The bike sweetly, sadly, tragically is his final story.

The place the bike rested is near some wildflowers.  It is now, at the peak of summer, July and August, that I become mesmerized by the flowers that crowd the sides of our roads: Queen Anne’s lace, cornflower, black-eyed Susan, purple clover, goldenrod, daisies, and the funny star shaped periwinkle flowers whose name I do not know.  In the Midwest, if you watch the side of the road in the hot summer months, white and purple and orange flowers fill up the available space. They are the brightest of hues, the prettiest of flowers, they are both plentiful and extremely inaccessible.  I am known to pull my car over to the side of the road, in a ditch to pick a handful.  I associate them with the hottest of days, and I long to pick them all, to love them, to bring them into my house.  When I do pull over and begin to clip roadside weeds, I imagine other drivers eyeing me, wondering what I am up to.  Who picks weeds?   I do love these flowers, and I bundle them up in my sweaty hand and carry them home to some water where I can appreciate them.

This summer I have traveled some.  Most recently to the west coast.  When I travel the first thing I notice is the flora.  How are the flowers different here? The greenery?  The roadside weeds? Who can’t marvel at the palm tree and the bougainvillea?  The flowers and trees with their long growing season are abundant and lush.  But I watched the roadsides of the Bay Area for a sign of cornflower and goldenrod, and could not discover anything that sparked my imagination as much as those midwestern weeds. No rose, no bougainvillea, no strange succulent was as lovely and abundant as Queen Anne’s Lace back in Indiana.  I couldn’t wait to get home and see my flowers, I was sure that they had bloomed and were waving in the thick hot summer sun, waiting for me to get home and pull over and appreciate them. I am home, I said to no one and all the discarded flowers the minute I landed. I am home.

I went for a walk yesterday.  For some reason, as I walk up the street in the oppressive humidity, sweat pouring off my face and back, the old song Back Home Again in Indiana, keeps rolling through my head.  I hum it a bit as the wind picks up the leaves and grasses.  I pick out some black-eyed Susan and daisies to cut.  I wilt in the sun, find a shady spot to rest.  I am on my way to the top of  my street on foot, to look at the bike and watch for a minute, soak up its story. I pause and pay my respects.  This white bike now wrapped in ribbon and flowers seems to shine in the sun.  I have never seen a brighter white.  Cars zoom past me.  It feels very public, very exposed. I wonder how long this memorial will stay.  I hope forever. I imagine all the scenarios that might take it away. Roadwork, theft, the property owner next to the sign might decide he’s tired of it.

The wildflowers, the roadside memorials, my steady walk up the road. I am sunshine and and sweat and home sweet home.  I lay my bouquet down on the ground near the bike while considering the crime and the hot summer night that brought a man and his bike to this spot.  How now, after all this, we consider it hallowed ground.  I silently wish this family a way through grief.  Peace, I think, just peace and I walk home.

Amy Cornell for The Poplar Grove Muse

My Boat



We learn and teach and as we go

each woman sings~ each woman’s hands

are water wings. From “Water Women” by All Renee Bozarth

I was pushed out of a very rocky and leaky boat twenty-eight years ago. I went against my will. I had only been in this one boat for years and I was sure I would never feel at home in a new boat. The problem was, I had never even touched the oars in the old boat. They were never offered and up to that point, I had not dared to take them on my own. I knew how to swim, so I thought maybe I would tread water until a lifesaver floated my way. It took a while for me to realize that I was the lifesaver that I could teach myself to walk on water

The more I treaded, the stronger I became, and I began to rise up out of the water. I spied a shore with a brand new boat bobbing tantalizingly at the water’s edge.

This is my boat, I said loud and clear to myself and to the whole world. The oars fit my hands perfectly. I painted my boat red, my new power color. Passengers in my new boat were by invitation only. No one stayed if they were toxic. I wasn’t the only one who could be pushed out of a boat.

My boat liked its new sheltering boathouse, but it also liked to travel. We’ve been on many journeys, many adventures, my boat and I.

Sometimes it springs a leak and I often surprise myself when I realize I have gathered just the right tools for the task at hand, and they are always ready.

Rebekah Spivey for the Poplar Grove Muse


Lost Girl

She is playful,
a mop of hair,
a puffy sleeved dress with a ribboned waist,
covering crinolines
and ruffled panties.
Mud is caked on the heels of her patent leathers.
She likes to remind me that she is still here,
wills me to let her out.
She doesn’t know what acceptable behavior is.
Certainly, a lady does not like the smell of worms after a spring rain
or long to play with the race track her brothers play with for hours on end.
She belonged with her always aproned mother
in the kitchen,
polishing the silver,
rolling out the dough,
tidying things up with her sisters.
The boys were allowed to do just about anything,
but not the girls.
I kept her away to avoid trouble,
to fit in,
until one day
I forgot about her.

Once in a while a memory drifted in;
the smell of salt water and Coppertone,
riding my bike on a leaf covered path,
or hearing my name whispered as I edged toward sleep.

And then, finally, it all came back,
in a flood of tears that would not stop.
She understood,
she had shed many tears herself
not for herself,
but for me
for the pieces I lost
and forgotten about.
She wanted to help me pull them in like a big fish dad would catch,
“turn the reel,
let it run a bit,
turn the reel, faster!”
Always a two-person job if the catch was big.

Sometimes the line would break,
water would get on her dress
water not from the fish, but from her eyes.
We cried a lot,
she hid a lot.
She could get very small,
it is hard to grow without oxygen.

I need her to grow in me again,
to take me to all the places she wanted to go,
the little cave on the side of the hill that smelled of dampness and dirt,
the creek with the dam that the boys down the street built.
(I was afraid of those boys.)
The secret place where you could see fireflies even in the autumn,
although I think she made that up.

I want her to grow so I can see what she looks like.
I picture her strong, and lean with a fierceness about her,
streaks of white and gray running haphazardly through her still curly hair
and the lines on her face bearing a story,
my story, my pain
mixed with great joy.

She has been here all along,
This not my story, it is our story.
I see her now,
She is standing here
holding a fishing rod,
here to help me pull in the big one,
once and for all.

Sherri Walker for The Poplar Grove Muse

On Spending the Day at Bloomington Hospital

Holy Hill



Efficiencies. So many
Noises. Good God.
Almighty doctors,
Specialists all,
This one for that and
That one for this and
they are all twelve years old
And they are all super cute,
Hip, snappy, right on time with
Charm to lose like a wealth of smile,
It won’t hurt to overflow a bucket
Of warmth on the individual suffering
an existential moment of
“I hope I wake up,” “I’m sorry for everything,” and “I wish I had moved to Brooklyn.” 

Cold hard stone passages, hallway arteries
carry husbands and wives of a certain age
To the kind of customary surgeries that result from
A life of purposeful personal care neglect
Mixed with genetic predisposition to whatever has slunk
About the system since long before Mom slept with Dad.

The bodies are chunky and broken,
Long beards and nose rings,
Tight jeans and gut spills,
Pale pink knit Mom tops and
Peony scattered polyester pedal pushers,
Reeking of smoke and
Looking a lot like — well, to be honest —
A helluva lot more than that’s
Been going on all these years.

It does add up.

There are vague looks of worry.
The aloneness of some feels like they are already ghosts.

Many are accompanied by armies of relatives,
Cousins, brothers, aunts, mamaw,
Support-troops in the rare case that their loved one
Comes under fire from an enemy that
looks oddly like life.

The family-care specialist
Makes sure to have at least
one of their phone numbers.

They fill the consulting room awaiting
arrival of their very own hip, snappy twelve year old
Who will provide a confident, detailed explanation of
Is he going to make it or isn’t he?

Questions in broken farmer English
Are softly asked. 

Nervous laughter of relief wafts from the room.
All those who wait, twitching within earshot
Of the troops in the nearby bunker, feel it and think
this will be a good day after all.
Perhaps we will survive the battle
after all.

Thup thup thups among the
Beep beep beeps and the
Quavering and shouted, “somebody help me”s.

Lifeline is here, aiming, afloat, and aiming again.
We hold our breath as the mind, watching, wanders
to car wrecks and handyman accidents,
Stupid Dad tricks and incidents of child abuse.

The Lord said, Go in peace and be freed from your suffering,
Pray the agnostics in the room watching. 

The tonnage of wasp alights
upon an oddly bright, wide expanse of cement as
Attention is torn by a sensory assault charging the room:

Somebody pooped.
A lot.
In the wrong place.
At the wrong time.
Holy crap.
I think I’m gonna die. 

Oh the indignity of an ill-timed bodily function.
There but for the Grace of God, as they say.

The red-shirts scramble.
Poor thing.
She’s all alone and so frightened.
How can all these children help her, she manages to wonder,
via the few very small spaces still available for hysterical thought in her plaque pocked brain.

Worry and fear.
Sadness and the urge to get the hell out of here,
As if whatever is happening to everyone
in the freezing identical rooms that emit
bups and yeeps and yelps and sobs
Is catching. 

Paperwork arrives.
Wheelchair arrives.
Car arrives. 

The bumpy stop-stop ride
to the East side and out of town
via 2nd Street commences.

We depart the strangers writhing in rooms, in pain, in apprehension.

There is a place in Wisconsin called Holy Hill.
The long drive up the road to the church passes
Fields and a diner.

The church is brick, stoic, a curiosity
Lording over empty land.
The sanctuary is cold hard stone. 

On the right wall as one faces the altar
is a bar stuffed with wheelchairs, crutches.
Post-it notes from the healed cover the walls.

Thank you Lord Jesus!

Curiosity sated, the car that traveled up
Now travels down and 


And rolls directly into the parking lot of the diner.
Waiting for a tow, a conversation ensues with 
teenagers pouring iced tea behind the cold, hard counter.

What do you do for fun around here?

“Well, there’s a movie theater up the road”, she said.

“When I was in high school”, he blurted with odd urgency
to the unusual stranger stuck on a stool,
“my Dad asked me to get up early to help him with the farm,
because he was going to lose it to the bank.
But I didn’t. And he lost the farm.
So now I just read my Bible…but
I’ve always wanted to live in Brooklyn!”

Patricia Krahnke, for Poplar Grove Muse

Near West Neighborhood Cats


The Near West Side Neighborhood has been a cat neighborhood for as long as I’ve been around here.

From 1978-1982, my young son and I rented a house from John Layman at 706 West Sixth Street.  I had a few cats and my friend Marla moved to Canada and left her cat, Dumpling, with us.  Our neighbor Terry Morgan had a cat named Mama Baloney.

Several years after I remarried we began looking for a house in this neighborhood and we were able to buy a house back in the Near West Side in 1992.  I got to know lots of neighborhood cats.  There was Weird Al who lived with Linda and Mike, but who decided to move in to our house.  He lived with us for a few years until my son’s big black Lab came to stay with us and Al decided to move back in with Linda and Mike.

Judy at the corner of Eighth Street and Fairview had 3 cats, a lovely long haired Persian and two short haired black cat brothers.  One of the brothers had a neurological problem and he walked sort of sideways.  But he seemed pretty happy.

Miss Margaret, who lives a block north, has always had free ranging, glorious, long haired cats.  Her cats are 15 years old now.

There was a heart breakingly frightened long haired black cat who would not let us come near him, but he visited our back yard.  We had to put food for him at the very back edge of our yard so he could eat and not be afraid.  We fed him for a few years before he left and we never saw him again.

Our cat Pearl, who was a very sweet, but not a very smart cat, learned to climb and jump up on the roof of our back deck.  She would walk up and over the house roof to the front porch roof.  Then she would sort of forget how to get back for a while.  Many times neighbors knocked on our door to tell us Pearl was trapped on the porch roof and was meowing piteously.  We would thank them and tell them it was OK.  In a while, Pearl would remember how she got there and retrace her steps to the back deck porch and climb down.

Fluffy Harman was one of my favorite neighborhood cats.  She was mauled to death by the drug dealer’s pit bull when he got loose.  That whole horrid situation was finally resolved by neighbors working with the City, and the drug dealer and his dog went away and that old Victorian house was renovated.

Marti, who lives a block north and a couple of blocks west, has had several cats that I’ve known over the years.  Great cats.  Katua, Percy, Frankie and Mr. Gatto, who recently died.

Dave and BJ, across the alley, had Kit Kat who had a few serious arguments and scuffles with some of my cats over the years.

Thumbs is a sweet, champagne colored cat who lives a couple of doors east of my house and sometimes comes by to ask for bite of cat food.  I bring a snack to the front porch for him.  My old cat Pumpkin sometimes goes to parties at Thumbs’s house and my neighbor Zack sends me pictures of Pumpkin mingling with the guests at the party.

The point is that neighbors in the Near West Side have always had indoor/outdoor cats.  And the neighbors have always known and enjoyed each other’s cats.

Some people who have recently moved into our neighborhood are seriously disrupting the long time NWS cat culture.  They have cats that they keep confined in their house.  They are trying to make us all confine our cats because that’s what they believe is best.  It is cruel to confine a cat who knows and loves the outside world.  Cats are only partially domesticated animals and most of us love that about them.  Our indoor/outdoor cats will not trade all their wildness for cat food.

The gentrification of our old Near West Side neighborhood has caused physical and cultural dislocation for both people and their cats.  We are trying to work out livable solutions for both species.

Veda Stanfield for The Poplar Grove Muse

Aqua Net in the Produce Aisle

The lingering wisps of a woman’s hairspray waft over me in the produce section of the grocery store. I look up from the drippy heads of red leaf lettuce. I won’t find her. Still, I look.

Every so often, I am caught off guard by this smell. The truth is, I’m not sure what I’m smelling other than my grandmother. I breathe in her signature scent.

I am 4; she is visiting us in Virginia. I am eating a hotdog in the backyard. My mother runs into the house. Something Grandma said has made Mom sad. I tell her I hate her and run in after Mom.

I am 8. I want to go to a Bon Jovi concert with neighbors. Grandma is at the kitchen table and tells my mother I am too young. Mom sighs and says she’s probably right. I hate her again.

I am 12. I have traveled across the country by myself to visit Grandma and Grandpa in California. I am nervous, but find she is different this time. I leave feeling loved.

I am 21 waiting for her in the lobby of a hotel in London. Our vacation to England is where I return to most. We’re meeting, just us, for cheesecake and ice tea.

The elevator door opens. Grandma’s once tall frame hunches over; the top of her spine is curved. Her sun-speckled, papery skin draped in bright silks; she slowly makes her way into the lobby. Arms out a little, looking for something to hold on to, her thick snowy white curls are sprayed wild like the beach wind is her stylist. Orange lipstick stains the same thin lips I have. I stand and head towards her. As I get closer, I hear her trying to breathe. Raspy and shallow, she is known to alternate oxygen and Marlboro Reds in the same room.

Pete is her name. Mom says it’s because she was one of the guys when my grandparents were in college. She cooked for my grandfather’s fraternity, and they called her Pete.

There’s more to the story, I’m sure. I ask questions, but Mom’s not sure or doesn’t tell. She says my Grandmother is a very private person.

Back in the lobby, her gruff voice, and familiar phrase, “Hey, Kell Bell. What’s shaking?” makes me smile. I lean in towards her, help her steady herself. I inhale. “You always smell so good,” I say.

We head into the cafe, eat cheesecake, drink tea. I tell her about Clark, the man I love. She asks questions about him and what we’ll do after college. I make sure the ones I ask her are easy. I ask about her volunteer work, her friends, the weather. I wonder about the hard questions I have. I wonder about her mother and the stepmother her father married shortly after her mother died. I wonder about my mother’s childhood, the fragments of sad stories I’ve heard over the years. Why Mom often told me I had no idea how good I had it.

We don’t know each other well. This, maybe our fifth or sixth meeting, is one of a few of my memories. A handful more will come. Grandma and Grandpa will be at my wedding; she’ll move to Virginia, where Mom will mother her again. She’ll meet my son and later my daughter. We’ll eat sweets together, and I’ll tell her my stories. She will keep hers.

“Excuse me,” someone says as they reach past me for the carrots. I breathe in again. She is gone. I resist the urge to find the woman who carries her scent. I want to douse myself in my grandmother’s story. I want to know her. I wonder what would have happened if I had offered to listen.

~KGS for Poplar Grove Muse

Big Love

We walk in circles
sit in circles
talk in circles.
We shoot hoops
on the basketball court
and bathe in the shallow creek
with hoots and hollers
as the cold water
kisses our bare skin.
We light candles
and pray in our rooms
one big prayer
of courage.
Then we listen
to the loud
bulging sound of frogs
and the persistent call of
the whippoorwill.
We are clearing
our minds and hearts
getting out brooms and rags
and buckets of soapy water.
We are packing up old books
and dusting off the shelves.
We are making space
to welcome what emerges
out of the crack
where our hearts have
split open.

By Laura Lasuertmer for The Poplar Grove Muse

Meditation on meditation






Empty your mind, they say.
Concentrate on a sound.
Let it go.
Find your inner…
Let it go
There is that irony
in deliberately
In deliberately
emptying the mind
In controlling the body
so that the mind
may empty
as many describe it
let it go
Open that mind-fist
and let
the wind of thought
fly away.
Sit still
Go for a walk
Stand still.
Let it come
Let it go
I like it best
when surprise stops me
as I am busying myself
makes me take a second
and a third
and a fourth
and however many more
at the wonder of what I see.
Not sought
but emerging as the focus
on its own
filling the mind
rather than emptying it
(although some may argue it is emptied of all else
when this occurs)
Letting it play out
usually an instance in the life
of another being
or flora
showing me
our connectedness
in ways
both expected and
The irony of it all
is the best meditation
for me.

Bev Hartford for The Poplar Grove Muse

A brief history of friendship

It starts with your first birthday.  Your mother gathers the other mothers and you eat cake for the first time. Those other babies come in the door with the other mothers and though you can’t say a word or understand what it means to connect with another human, you are connected. Pictures are taken as they sing that famous song and somehow you have your first cohort of friends, quite by accident, through strange acquaintanceships and happenstance. They you are.

Somewhere there is a movie of me seated in a highchair with chocolate cake all over my face. The handheld camera capturing all of us babies with plastic bibs and cake in all our wiggly delight.  I couldn’t tell you who these babies are.  My family moved from that house shortly after and none of them will be counted in this tally of friendship.

I was lucky to live in relatively the same place for all of my growing up years and since I do not know enough to ask why, friends come and go from my life like water. Some are there for the duration, part of my backyard pond, and some are more like ocean surf, coming and going with the pull of the moon, in and out with tide.

Who can say why friendship does or does not endure? Is it conscious? Do we say to ourselves when we hang up the phone angrily, I cannot take him anymore, I will not call her again. Or is it simply one day we forget to call, and then the next and the next until both parties just give up and the solid of their long soulful walks or their shared connection from college simply drifts away on the tide. Fond memories, to be sure, but no one can understand how they fit into each other’s lives anymore.

I am constantly amazed at what washes up on my beach of friendship. Someone is an acquaintance, then we find ourselves on a committee and suddenly its white wine on the deck, feeling ever so close to someone whose name you couldn’t even remember last year. Or the friend from college who calls across the miles again and again, sharing stories of birth and family and city life.  Or the work mates who are part of the warp and woof of every day and then you change jobs and poof, they are distant memories.  No one ever told me how the landscape of our friendships would come and go as I aged.

Some of my high school tribe at the beach,

I had a group of friends from high school who I love. We were the misfits and the wackos.  We shared love in our awkwardness.  We had parties in each other basements and went to the beach together.  We never really had boyfriends or girlfriends or went to prom. We didn’t drink, but we laughed and did our homework. We went to nice schools and spread out across the US. But this I will always remember, we vowed to never lose touch. To show our lasting love and devotion, we agreed to meet every year at the front of our high school wearing a white rose (in case we forgot what we looked like). We never asked how on earth we would forget what we looked like or why a white rose or why in front of the high school we hated. You won’t be surprised to learn that we never did that.  We aren’t great about keeping in touch either.  Different people and friendships have washed up on their beaches as well. We were the shells and seaweed of each other’s surf for a short but important time.

I am always interested in the history of friendship. Jealous of some who seem to have the closest and longest of bonds.  Relieved again that I seem to be able to spread my net far and wide, to connect with people from a huge variety of places and times.  Perhaps I never made the kind of friend groups and bonds that they show in the movies or that others seem to represent on facebook, but I always feel content that I offer the best of me to others and others in turn offer the best of themselves to me.  It has led me to a rich life; one I wouldn’t trade for anything.

I’ve recently been having a series of conversations with an old friend about how to make friends. It seems the older we get, the harder it is to find our tribe in this big wide world. I try to give advice to her, but the truth is, after cake at age one and that small but important group of high school friends, I cannot put my finger on just how one connects to the people with whom one needs to connect.  I feel that connection is not worked at or searched for, connection is simply the water in which we live.  To live is to connect.  Trust and it will happen.

One of the things I marvel about is that people never cease surprising me.  I play the guilty game of writing someone off who is too this or too that, and given the chance to know them, I discover they have a story and a side and an empathy that I couldn’t have guessed. My radar for superficiality or banality didn’t work right and I feel embarrassed that I was quick to judge. Mea Culpa friends. I truly love you all.

As I move into this last half of my life, I have such a great long view of friendship.  I can feel at ease in a minute with my high school soul mates, accept readily that some friendships will go on hold for awhile, recognize that not everyone I meet is destined to be part of my tribe, and accept beautiful connections as they happen. Its marvelous, isn’t it?  How we still celebrate, make a cake and gather round us the people who mean the most to us? Still, we eat cake and sing, marking a year of life and friendship.  Watching more starfish wash up on the shore.