if you give an insomniac coffee & predawn time alone…

This morning I remembered a thoughtful quote I heard recently during Vermont Recovery Advocacy Day. I made coffee and started searching. I often think of the children’s book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Joffe Numeroff.

One thing leads to another and sometimes you don’t know how you got there. This happens frequently to me.

Today, I thought I would follow the trail. If you give me coffee and some time alone…

OK, the author of the quote, I think his last name was hummmm…Chesterfield. There were some real gems from him. I thought I must have the attribution correct..Lord Chesterfield.

“Never seem wiser, nor more learned, than the people you are with. Wear your learning, like your watch, in a private pocket: and do not merely pull it out and strike it; merely to show that you have one.”

Advice is seldom welcome, and those who need it the most, like it the least.”

I kept reading and then this one popped up:

“Women especially as to be talked to as below men, and above children.”

Lord Chesterfield, you obviously were not the author I was looking for…and maybe kind of a prick, but hey it was the 17th century when you were writing, so I won’t “cancel” you—context is everything.

The sun is up now, it’s snowing and I’ve had my second coffee…I finally found the correct quote.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

—G. K. Chesterton

Thanks as the highest form of thought and gratitude doubled by wonder—so beautifully said. What other quotes about gratitude can I find?

I needed to know a bit more about G. K. Chesterton. He was an English author best known for creating the priest-detective, Father Brown.

Then, I next read on his Wikipedia page that his best friend from his St. Paul school days was Edmund Clerihew Bentley, inventor of the clerihew

I didn’t know what a clerihew was. Should I have? Do you?

A clerihew (/ˈklɛrɪhjuː/) is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley. The first line is the name of the poem's subject, usually, a famous person put in an absurd light, or revealing something unknown or spurious about them. (Here is a well-known clerihew of his.) Sir Christopher Wren Said, "I am going to dine with some men. If anyone calls Say I am designing St. Paul's."[1]

I wrote my own clerihew after reading Mr. Bentley’s example.

To the courageous people of Ukraine, I humbly offer my thanks, gratitude, and compassion for what you are against-all-odds bravely doing to protect your families and defend democracy around the world.

horizontal mystery ship—for Dad

HORIZONTAL MYSTERY SHIP

when you leave at seventeen
rarely home
more than two weeks at a time 
months, years and decades
can be surprisingly unreliable markers of adulthood

only once
in the summer of ‘88
a recent college grad
wide-eyed and wanderlust-fueled
my tonsils required more
I stayed a whole month

once healed, packed, and in possession of necessary visas
off to the southern hemisphere
a young pioneer 
in search adventure
and different stars

now, when visiting 
after a lifetime lived elsewhere
grey hairs visible
no matter my efforts
I find myself
sliding into a peculiar second adolescence of sorts

driving Dad’s truck 
windows down, hair blowing 
mile after mile of expansive, wild beauty 
the prairie 
a determined cellular homesteader 
forever staking a claim in my blood and bones

I want to sneak out to the bar
play Space Invaders
sadly, no longer a standard
unlike 1982
drink beer, eat junk food
and avoid the endless expectations of being a grown-up

Looking back with midlife sensibilities 
I realize
those late nights in high school
tenth grade, I believe
laser focused, playing Space Invaders
provided a surprisingly valuable education 

initials entered, quarters stacked
protect the bunkers, defeat the aliens
monitor the horizontal mystery ship with vigilance 
my peripheral vision unknowingly trained 
to notice things beyond immediate scope
bonus points pinged
while friends waited impatiently

twenty more minutes, please

under a waning August moon
only one lunar phase ago
I was still my father’s daughter
a middle-aged, South Dakota teenager
pretending time actually plays tricks
wanting desperately to disregard reality 

one more visit on the calendar
one more phone call
cheeseburger or ice cream cone 
one more evening watching
Everybody Loves Raymond
M.A.S.H. 
or Mayberry RFD

twenty more minutes, please

quarters stacked no longer
Space Invaders
the nearly forgotten teenage relic 
of a heartbroken
fifty-something
fatherless daughter

once again, 
I am protecting my bunkers
monitoring a new horizontal mystery ship
paying very close attention
to what's just beyond my immediate scope

just twenty more minutes, please