Sunday, January 31, 2010


(PHOTO: E.F.R.'s inquiry notebook)

Foot recovery is going well. I'm mobile (always a plus), and I'm doing all the rubber band exercises I was told to do. It looks like I'll be making a serious attempt at climbing by mid February. In the meanwhile, I'm intensifying my workouts. Just this afternoon I bought a serious pair of walking shoes with all the geriatric support a woman recovering from an injury would need. They ain't pretty, these shoes, but they keep my foot in the right position and that's all that matters. Not quite orthopedic; not designed to make my butt better; these Avia walkers are the Volvo of shoes: "Boxy but good."

As part of my recovery, I joined Nebraska Writing Project veterans for the 2010 Winter Writing Marathon on Jan. 23. Each season, the NeWP hosts one of these writing/walking events that encourages writers to claim spaces/places, write for awhile, then move on to another place/space. There were just under thirty participants this winter - a marathon record - and we began our journey at the Sheldon Art Museum on the UNL campus. For me, one who has been forced to rethink physicality while waiting to heal, who has been craving climbing the way some crave recreational drugs, it was a magic day. Not only did I write and take photographs, I walked!

After dividing our large group into five smaller ones, we hit the streets of Lincoln. The day was balmy for January, though the sunny sky gave way to the gray of winter just as we set out. My group stopped first at The Coffee House for a cup of joe at our first forty-five minute writing session. We sipped coffee and wrote, then before heading off to our next destination we shared our writing. NeWP marathon participants are asked to simply say, "Thank you" after another writer shares a draft. It's an intimate way to get over the fear of writing and sharing your work. I think this is why I like these marathon opportunities so much. And I must admit, it just felt damn good to be out walking in a pair of real shoes, even as the tendons in my foot and ankle ached. Recovery that involves writing is the best kind, I think. My first poem of the day:

(PHOTO: "Torn Notebook" by Claes Oldenberg and Coosje van Bruggen, 1996)


The bones don’t carry the load
and my curves are wider than they used to be.

The hairpins are now straight-aways,
the pert mountains have eroded to drifting

foothills – or what could be foothills if
gravity proves as constant as Newton claimed.

Such is the topography of middle age. I can’t
decide if my body’s failing me or coming into

its own, like the Roman Coliseum or the
Greek Parthenon. Sometimes, it seems

my mind leans like that Tower Pisa –
an architectural wonder, true, but

not where you’d want to set up shop.
I don’t know why I am so surprised

to learn I could not stave the evidence
of time, that my doctor would say, “mammogram”

and mean it every year, that my old bones
wouldn’t bear the weight of my young ideas.

But I am. I look for time the way
I look for my car keys – late –

with someplace to go, wondering
what else I’ve lost, forgotten.

(PHOTO: "Fallen Dreamer" by Tom Otterness)

From the CoHo, we moved on to try to get into the Tugboat Gallery, one of the many studios occupying the floor above Novel Idea Bookstore and Gomez Art Supply on 14th street. Unfortunately, the gallery was closed. So my group hung out in the commons area among the studios, listening to artists work on projects as we worked on our own. In that forty-five minute burst, I created a poem best described as an "ambitious mistake" (a designation that goes to most of my errors).

We then moved on to the Great Plains Art Museum - an architectural monument to honor the color beige. The bran interior leaves one wondering if the interior designer was colorblind. Sitting there for half an hour, I wrote this poem:


Ivory, beige, taupe, wheat, shell – so much
Sensibility in this textile interpretative Plains dance.

I wish there was some amber, perhaps
the brilliant blue of April sky, maybe

the swaying red of seductive summer sunsets.
Is this a Cornflake museum in sensible shoes,

an architectural ode to utility?
This is not the Nebraska I know.

It’s not the palette of my colorful life ripe
with artists, poets, writers, and musicians.

My wagon ruts lead to smoky jazz
underground poetry potlucks

and the burnt umber of my poor choices –
But the mural of my great plains,

the tapestry life led to settle,
isn’t hung in this burlap place.

At the end of the marathon, all the participants gathered at Misty's to eat dinner together and hold a public reading of their favorite writings from the day. If you've never done a writing marathon, I highly recommend trying one the next time you're out in rock country or chillin' in your favorite town. Sitting around, taking in the sights of everyday life can focus one's writer eyes, make small things grand, important.

After dinner and goodbyes, I headed to Indigo Bridge Books in The Creamery Building at Lincoln's Haymarket - my new favorite place to hang out. Not only is this place an independent bookstore, it's got a fantastic and cozy coffee shop inside. I bought the one Kerouac book I didn't own, sat down with a cup of coffee, and enjoyed the night sounds of my writing life even as my foot ached from a long day of walking into words.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


(Photo: The Monty Python Foot)

"Let's get you weened off this thing," may be my favorite quote of 2010. My doc, after checking x-rays and saying a whole lot about rehab home therapy, and after handing me a gigantic rubber band, said these magical words. And I, leaving the health center, waving a rubber band above my head, could only think of one song by The Spinners:

Hey, y'all prepare yourself
For the Rubberband (wo) man
You never heard a sound
Like the rubberband (wo)man
You're bound to lose control
When the Rubberband starts to jam

So for a few weeks, it's gonna be me, boot-free, and a big rubber band.

Got that rubberband
Up on [her] toes
And then he wriggled it up
All around [her] nose

The leg's a bit chicken-ish, spindly, and I can't climb until I can support my weight on that leg. But guess who's dancing? Guess who's already snapped herself in the forehead? Guess who's wearing a left shoe?

Hey ya'll prepare yo'self ... doo doo doo doo doo doo-doo doo-doo!

Monday, January 18, 2010


Over the winter break, I got a chance to chill with Rec climbing alums. The old school crowd was fully represented, spare the notable absence of Eli Powell. You can get to know this fine group of people by following their blog (click: Climbing House). It was good to get back to the wall even if I couldn't climb. When I arrived, sauntering with penguinesque sex appeal, I rushed the wall to give it a big hug. I think it hugged me back.

(PHOTO: I experience healthy foot envy as dirt bags air their feet at the bench)

I still have weeks of recovery time ahead of me. Getting out of the Boot of Doom is just the first step (no pun intended). I'll have some physical therapy to gain both strength and mobility in the joint, and I have to regain some of my once-admirable calf muscle. In the big scheme of things, this injury isn't disastrous, but it has set me back. Navigating my disappointment and sense of physical captivity, relying on others for help with things I normally would do myself, and accepting limitations hasn't been easy.

I miss the people from the wall, the witty nonsense and constant conversation, so I'm eager to get back. For now, I'll focus on getting better and rebuilding strength, taking better care of myself, and trying not to scream obscenities into the universe (bad karma, at this stage, should not be courted nor gained).

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


It's too cold to do much of anything spare stare outside my window and loathe my geographical choices. However, I found this book, The Book Thief, and I haven't been able to put it down even though I have course planning to do, a website to design, and a rabble of neglected responsibilities. The book is an unusual structure for a novel - it's definitely postmodern - but it's a story about one who ushers souls "home" and his following of a book thief - a little girl - in Nazi Germany. If you're looking for a good book, the kind that pushes you to think outside of your own life's worries, this is an awesome choice.

I've also been experimenting with music, searching for unusual instrumentalists. Music is a very important part of my life, and my discovery of Andy McKee has added great joy to an already joyful hobby. I just bought his album, "Art in Motion," and this song prompted the purchase:

Though this song has unusual percussion, the rest of the album is just soulful and deep. It's not the sort of fodder you'd hear at a John Tesh dinner party, either. This song, "Into the Ocean" is as beautiful to hear as it is fascinating to watch:

Candyrat Records is fast becoming one of my favorite independent labels. I've got a roster of soon-to-be-acquired albums, and I'm enjoying music without lyrics. You might, too.

On the classical end of things, I'm liking Pepe Romero and Ana Vidovic. She's cooler to watch than dear ol' Pepe:

With the temperature falling below zero and the wind chills hovering at a balmy -16 tonight, I decided to write, listen to music, and bake some of those pumpkin muffins I featured on this very blog. I baked a lean but outrageously good burgundy stew tonight, and I'll post that recipe later this month.

Recovery is slow, but good. I wish the weather wasn't so bleak - I've got cabin fever. But other than these two minor things, life feels pretty good. My focus now is on getting better so I can train to go to Shelf Road in April. Let's hope my x-rays on the 13th are encouraging and my doc gives me the clearance to assume "normal" (whatever that is) activities.



LINCOLN, Neb.- Erica F. Rogers (D) bent her ankle on Tuesday with full mobility for the first time since Nov. 25, 2009. Circular rotation of the foot is possible, but not recommended. News of this healing milestone was welcomed. Rogers, having spent more than five weeks in the tarsal chastity belt otherwise known as "the Boot of Doom," said she was encouraged by recent developments. Clutching her climbing harness and wiping tears with her polka-dot chalk bag, the novice indoor sport climber was visibly moved as she reached this healing milestone.

"I can see the end of the road," Rogers said, "and it leads to the Rec center."

The x-ray scheduled for Jan. 16 has been moved up to Jan. 13. Rogers said she is optimistic, and forecasted a short-term regime with physical therapy and a gradual entry into normal activity. Though initial recovery estimates seemed grim, Rogers said she believes she will be climbing again before March 1.

"I have to," Rogers said, "this sedentary lifestyle is making my butt grow."