Late afternoon haiku

May 27, 2017

Sunlight in my eyes,

trying to feel important,

before it leaves me.

cfblack, 5-27-17

Life rhythms

May 17, 2017

Life has a rhythm,

Sun sets on another day,

Morning will follow.

cfblack, 5-17-2017


May 15, 2017

The light is fading,

Locusts sing in unison,

“Our time is coming.”





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happy mother’s day

May 14, 2017

My mother was an amazing woman. Born to Dutch parents whose parents immigrated from Friesland, Netherlands, she married a Baptist rising academic from lower middle class parents whose ancestry was Scottish / Welsh & she & my father decided to raise their kids Presbyterian. She never went to college but supported my dad through his academic career as a Mechanical Engineer Professor at Purdue and later Dean of Engineering at Drexel Univ. She was a stay-at-home mom. They had a son named Daniel, then couldn’t get pregnant until I came along 8 yrs. later, then had my sister 2 1/2 yrs later & a 4th child, my younger brother, 6 years after that (surprise!). When my father died at a young age and the high class academic “friends” dropped her like a hot potato, she turned to alcohol for comfort. At age 63, the age I am right now, she quit cold turkey, went thru rehab and never drank again, then became a strong support of many others in their journey to sobriety. She overcame clinical depression a few years later, when the job she worked at for 20+ yrs. closed their doors without warning. She just went in one day & found it closed up. In her 80s she loved Purdue basketball, being home with her cat, Buffy, and studying the Bible with her women-friends. She suffered from a debilitating malfunctioning heart valve and quickly became tied to her oxygen machine, walking from living room to kitchen with great difficulty. She lived to age 84. Our relationship was difficult but also strong and I still wish I could pick up the phone & call her at times.

me and my mom

world citizens

May 12, 2017

We have raised our children to be world citizens. This was important to us and, I believe, one thing we succeeded at. What do I mean by “world citizen”?

To me, a world citizen is a person conscious of the world. Conscious of and knowledgeable of different cultures and beliefs. A person not afraid to investigate, consider other opinions, a person open to learning. A world citizen knows there is one race, the human race, but it manifests itself in a great variety. This is the MOST important lesson to teach your kids: The WORLD is our home, people the world over are inherently the same, want the same things, clean water, land and beauty of the earth, a safe place to live, peace with their neighbors, family, and community. They want to raise their children to be whoever they want to be, and have the opportunities all other children have, to read and write, learn in school, become contributing citizens of the world.

When I was growing up, my dad was a professor of mechanical engineering at a large university, Purdue. Graduate students from different countries came into our home and had dinner with us. I do not remember ever being invited to my major professor’s home for dinner. But my dad was exceptional. We had African students from various countries, those from India, and other places. Sometimes my sister & I were asked to dance for them or talk with them. We also had family music nights. I grew up on Satchmo and Dixieland jazz. My dad played guitar, banjo, flute, and bongo drums. My mom played piano and I was taught that as well.

My husband and I raised our kids on little money. The privileged childhood I enjoyed vanished when my father died at a young age, 3 months before his 51st year. We had 4 children in years of poverty, I would say. But this essay is not about that. All four of our children have traveled internationally overseas, something I never did, and they all did it on a hope & a prayer.

Jasmine, our oldest, went with her sister Leah to China. They joined a program called “the crazy English school”. They had to pay their plane fare but once getting to the school, their plane fare was paid back to them. For 2 weeks, they interacted with Chinese adults learning English, who wanted to sound “American”.

Prior to this, Leah spent a year in Liverpool, England after graduating half a year early from high school. She left before she turned 18. She spent a year doing service for a hostel/type place run as a Baha’i school in Liverpool. We had no money. We came up with the plane fare but England required she show hat she had $1000 and didn’t need to take a job from Britains once she got there. We didn’t have $1000. A co-worker of mine who was Indian said, “OH, I’ll loan you the thousand, once she gets there you give it back to me. Indians do this all the time.” And that’s what we did. She learned many things about English culture, including that they turned on the water heater in the morning for the purpose of a short shower. Then they turned it off. Pharmacies didn’t have the DRUGS we have, shelves and shelves of them, and even aspirin was behind the counter. They sell more herbal stuff. I think at one point I even mailed her some ibuprofen or aspirin.

Our 3rd child, Jamal, oldest son, was a soccer player. He had the opportunity to go to Argentina with a youth exhibition team from our hometown. The whole team had offers to stay with a host family for a year. Our son was the only one who did so. A few of the things he learned was seeing absolute poverty while riding the bus to go to some soccer games. He said we don’t have such poverty here, basically tent cities or shacks for long stretches of miles. Secondly, Argentina was going through a bit of political upheaval and he was downtown during a protest one time. Third, they ate a LOT of meat. His host family had some cattle I believe. Fourth, Argentina is much like a European country. The young adult scene was late night, tight pants, very European.

Our 4th child Levin, 2nd son, went to England with his sister Leah one summer. They roamed London, got to Scotland and saw Lochnaw castle in Stranraer, and got to Amsterdam. Saw LES MISERABLES in LONDON, a requirement from his sister which he was not excited about. How did they have money to go?? Financial Aid! She was living WITH US so had no living expenses, yet the school did not count OUR income because of her age. She got a lot of financial aid. Something in me says, “That’s wrong!” but we had no choice in the matter. She got the money regardless.

Lastly, this same daughter went on pilgrimage to the Baha’i Holy places in Israel, with her father as assistant and baby son 8 mos. old, in 2006. And JUST THIS YEAR, our oldest daughter did the same, taking her oldest son with her, the youngest son not able to go.

Today, all 4 of our kids are adults living in 4 different states, with us in a 5th. This makes for loneliness and missing them a lot. However, we raised them to be free to go and live where they wanted to. And they did. We talk on FaceBook, visit when we can. They are world citizens, all of them. And for this, we are proud.

End of semester depression

April 21, 2017

End of semester depression

About to kick in

Classes full of students


Chaotic hours of young adults

Speaking texting



Last gatherings of these particular groups

Final thoughts expressed

Arguments put forth

This group of seniors

Moving on

The first in their families

To get a degree

Their families beaming

With expectations

Hopes for their future

On their sleeves

We wonder

Who they will become?

What life will bring them

After they leave?

At this point,

All is possibility,

With fear of their reality,

This is the moment they will dance,

Time to celebrate.

                  cfblack 4-21-2017

End of semester, Beginning of life

April 21, 2017

I’m tired,

and I hope I can find

all the Quiz 2’s

for the right students,

so we can go over them

before the final.

I hope I can answer all their questions.

I hope that they ASK some questions.

I hope they turn in

that ONE assignment

I allow them to make up

that they never did,

Because I’m a nice person,

a caring prof,

who would happily give all A’s

and not focus on grades at all,

but just have conversations

about what they are learning —

from each other,

from the book,

from the Internet,

from their phones,

and what do they think about it?

And I want to tell the seniors,

Baby, just slow down,

It’s not over,

It’s never over,

You will always be learning,

the road is long,

And as soon as you leave this place —

which you are itching so bad to do —

Life is gonna smack you in the gut,

and you won’t even see it coming.

But don’t ever give up,

And don’t let it get you down,

Because life is beautiful

and it’s all worth it,

Just keep your head up

Stay informed

Speak your mind

And be involved,

Don’t accept the world as it is

Do your best to change it,

Find something to do that is worthwhile,

Because life is truly

what you make of it.

cfblack  04-21-2017


April 13, 2017


Clowns are scary.

They don’t show who they really are,

Paint their faces,

And laugh too much.

They run around in circles,

Fall over themselves,

Ride silly bikes,

And play mean tricks.

Adults think their children will laugh at them,

But children know,

And are scared of clowns.

We don’t know what they will do next,

Will they be funny?

Will they fall down?

These days, clowns are running the world,

They play silly games,

Fall over themselves,

Play tricks on us,

See if we notice,

And laugh and laugh,

And laugh.

cfblack  04-13-2017

Driving through the storm

April 6, 2017

Driving Through the Storm

Racing home in the rain,

I hold onto steering wheel,

Peering over it, I sit up straight,

Trying to see the road.

I follow the truck in front of me

With blinkers on,

His, and mine,

And realize why

people drive

into dangerous water they shouldn’t have,

It’s too hard to see

where road ends

And water begins,

Or how deep it is.

Just as in life, we take our chances,

Follow our instincts,

Say a prayer,

And hope we make it through.

I check my seatbelt,

Take my time,

Place my finger on the window button,

so just in case

I am swept away,

I’ll roll it down

to make it outside,

Because the story that stays with me

From the thousand-year-flood,

Is the lady whose car

met a wall of water

While driving under a bridge,

She was 3 blocks from a hospital,

swept away in the middle of town,

trapped within her car.

So carefully we plan our day,

So unaware of our fragileness,

So close is this world to the next,

We make the jump in a minute,

So set the course of your journey,

And plan what you do each day,

But realize life has twists and turns,

Appreciate the time you have

And all you learn along the way.

     cfblack  04-05-2017                                 

Rowland Owen from Machynlleth, Wales

April 1, 2017
One of my family lines goes back from my Dad’s mom, Grm. Mary Reid Agnew, to her great-grandmother, Sarah Sallie Owens. Then the Owen line goes WAAAY back to Rowland Owen b. in the 1500s in WALES. So that line is originally from Machynlleth, Montgomeryshire, Wales.
When they immigrated to the colonies very early in the 1600s, they went to PA, where Harry Thomas Owen became a Quaker. & then to North Carolina. Wilkes County NC, up near Virginia. Various Owen(s) people linked to our line gradually move to Kentucky & then southern INDIANA.