Prom Night

Tonight was prom night where I teach high school  All teachers, unless they provide a really, really good excuse, must go.  Many teachers find this a rather tiresome assignment.  Last year I did not go until time for the cleanup crew because I was singing in a big concert.  Tonight I signed up for the first half and ended up staying a bit later because it was fun.  No kidding, I was having a good time for two reasons:  dancing and dressing up.  As a girlie girl, I really like to dress up and dancing is akin to heaven so…I teach in the “country”–not exactly far from town but they think country–horses, country music, guns, four wheelers–you get the idea.  I have owned horses for years, but I am not that kind of country.  Can I dance to country music–sure, but I never listen to it.  What did they play a lot of??  You guessed it, country music.  I did not dance to that, oh,no.  Once in a while they played something else.  I danced some fast dances.  I asked one student why he wasn’t dancing and he told me he did not know how to two step so I taught him.  It took less than five minutes.  He can dance–I had already fast danced for a few minutes with him.

Can most of these students dance well?  Not exactly, except for a few.  And then there is the question of super high heels.  Most of the girls arrived with them on their feet.  One half hour later they were dancing barefoot.  In a brief chat with the new principal, we discussed how perhaps we should provide dance  and high heel etiquette classes, starting about two months before prom night.  I often wonder how these ballroom dancers spend so much time dancing in high heels. Dancing is such fabulous exercise, I think I will try it alone at home to get in shape.  If I plan to take even a little walk in about six weeks at Simien National Park in Ethiopia, I must get in better shape than I am just doing yoga.  The mountains there are over 13,000 feet high.  Now I need some sleep.

Funeral Dream

Her mind wanders in the soot filled

dreams when she was eighteen and lost,

tried to commit suicide her first year in

college.  Far from home with a homesick

roommate and people who ate this slimy

looking white stuff –grits–she’d never

heard of or seen.  Crazy people who

thought black peoples’–they called them

colored–only use was playing loud

music to dance to.  Who could adjust to

these southern belles riding horse to

hounds, dancing to music they couldn’t

touch with people they could never love.

In isolation she played piano for hours,

wrote depressing stories no one could read

and swallowed a bottle of bitter.  Changed

her mind, vomited in the infirmary, made

volcanoes in chemistry class, flew around

Washington, D.C. during Kennedy’s

funeral to avoid her own.

The Sound of Silence

For years I puzzled over what this phrase means.  This evening I discovered the answer.  Unlike the first part of the week, today was sunny, little wind, high 70s, what most consider a perfect day weather wise.  I ran home from work, gave Rosie, my horse, some food, let Isabella, my dog out for a bit, and then ran back to town to see my grandson perform.  He attends Wolflin Elementary School.  The physical education teacher selected a group of students called the SWAT Team who perform at different functions.  The last time I saw them, they performed at a local high school’s basketball tournament.  Today they executed four routines at their school’s annual gala, a fund raiser with games, food, a silent auction, dunking in the water, that sort of thing.  It really astonished me.  I have no idea how much they practiced, but these routines were not short and everything was perfectly choreographed.  First, the boys performed using basketballs to do various tricks and movements in unison to music.  Then  the girls did this complicated sort of dance over these long bamboo poles that other students clicked together.  The only other place where I have seen anything like this is in Thailand at the Rose Garden near Bangkok.  The third routine included both boys and girls and they used this giant circle of multicolored cloth to dance around, in and out, make the cloth into a sort of yurt like shape.  I have no idea how they kept it up like a giant circular tent one minute and flat the next.  Finally, they competed with hoola hoops to see who could keep going the longest.

After I returned home, I hosed off the front entryway, planted some flowers in pots, and watered other flowers, all in preparation for a fund raiser tomorrow night at my house–to raise money for a local senior citizens center.  Rosie is shedding her winter coat and seemed miserable itching so I brushed her.  Now tufts of pale rose colored hair lay everywhere in her corral.  Finally, a bit after eight I came inside for a late dinner.  Then I noticed.  No sounds, no wind, no appliances humming, no coyotes howling, no birds singing, no dogs barking, no sounds at all.  Nothing.  The patio doors are open; I walked outside a few minutes ago.  Nothing.  I sit here before the computer and hear the sounds the keys make when I hit them.  When I stop, nothing.







Isabella on the patio in winter.



They started blooming today.

The Girl and The Woman

The Girl

She stands alone by the train tracks.

Watching and waiting and dreaming.

Hobos no longer exist.

She remembers reading stories of life

when her great grandmother lived:

hobos begging for food, gypsies stealing

children and telling fortunes, long days

working in the corn fields, chopping weeds.

Her own family praises:

tractors, riding lawn mowers, herbicides, pesticides,

electricity, TVs, dishwashers, muscle cars, MacDonalds,

diet Coke, cell phones, computers, DVDs, iPADs.

Now the only excitement lays in Grand Theft Auto,

guns, and sex.  She watches and waits and dreams.

Canyon photo 1 anabel

The Woman

She stands alone on the rim,

watching the moon rise,


Life flies by on wings


She remembers rich years

filled with long joys, living,


and temporary sadness, divorces,

moving here and there,

Narrangansett Bay, Utah mountains,


babies held to breast,  blond

and chubby, cafe con leche.

She remembers girlhood longings

for far horizons, traveling

around the world, lovers,

husbands, shades of brown


She’s learned to make

her own excitement,

singing Goddess songs,

dancing on the rim of wonder.


Photograph by Anabel McMillen and Painting by Lahib Jaddo


Recently, I took a writing class about finding your voice.  Mostly, I took it not because I needed to find my “voice”, but rather to force me to really get serious and write.  One assignment was about firsts in our lives, e.g. first kiss, first love, first…You get the idea.  It was difficult for me because suddenly I realized I neither remembered nor even cared much about firsts.  My response to the assignment is this.

Memories of the future.

These are the memories that matter,

These and memories of the present.

Bold, fearless, fun, beautiful, wild,

Dancing, singing, writing, loving, laughing

memories now and tomorrow.

The past—gone, dead.

Fly free and clean!!

I don’t remember many firsts.  First dance, first communion, first love, first hand holding, first lie, first kiss.   Nothing.  I am not all that fond of kissing anyway.  I do remember first sex as a rather boring disappointment.  Good sex requires experience.

I have never been lost in my life.  I have never thought I really might die, not soon, but when I do I would rather die by puma than in a car wreck.