Liberty Mills Farm

Somerset, VA.

DJDawson 2017



“…Prednisone may cause you to feel aggitated, even somewhat uncharacteristically aggressive.  Angry, even.  You may experience feeling restless and, as in many cases, you may have trouble falling asleep – or feel no need to sleep at all.  You may have thoughts of daring feats.  Do not obey them… .”

Note:  You may lay in bed fully awake for several hours kidding yourself sleep is “just around the corner”, when you know damn well you’d rather be outside in the front yard in the booming thunderstorm holding lightning rods in your bare hands while sporting a tin foil hat and summer weight granny nightie, bare foot and hollering at the wild sky, “Is that all ya’ got, ya’ big rainy cry baby!?!”
[I had a very strange rash. It resembled a large cat scratch, hurt when touched, and came out of nowhere because I didn’t roll in the woods, lay lawn or swim anywhere.  It did go away, weeks later…Prednisone was dispensed by the doc-in-the-box.  I wanted to chew my own hand.]

DJD 2016

Breaking the Rules of Engagement.

What a curious thing to remember, today:  24 years ago, on this very night, as the temperature turned, my then-boyfriend and I drove from the south shore to Port Washington the all the way out to Port Jefferson – just to have dinner. He acted very peculiarly as he couldn’t decide where we should eat or when or what. Every suggestion I made, rejected; clearly, he had to decide.  He was preoccupied and a bit brusque. (Not unusual for him, as I came to learn.)

Before we dressed to go out, I asked, “Is this a dinner that requires hosiery?” And he said ‘Oh, yes.’  So.  Fancy and important.  I had some idea of what might be in store but wasn’t certain.  Heels, skirt, blouse, hosiery.  Out the door without any real plan.

When we finally arrived at the inn, happy to find it open post-summer, the restaurant had just served the last table. A waitress with loaded tray,  passed through the dark wood lobby between the kitchen and the grand dining room. My boyfriend launched into begging the maitre’d to seat us – taking the man around the corner – I could only stand in the lobby and guess their whispering – while he basically groveled for table.  I should mention it was about 8:30 PM.  They had every right to refuse us a table so late.  This is how it went with him:  good idea, poor execution.  I knew this.  In the short time we’d been dating, we’d been late to almost every invitation, every rehearsal and run-through, every timed event – because he was chronically late everywhere for everything.  I waited in the restaurant foyer watching the bar crowd boozy and loose, finish wide bowls of oysters and chowder.

20+ years later, I cannot tell you what we had for dinner. For dessert, even though I ‘passed’, I was presented with a small, black ring box holding a lovely diamond shouldered by two teardrop blue sapphires. It very much resembeled a drawing I had made several weeks before, which I was told got “lost in the wash” – and I believed that.

What I did not believe – in that waterside inn at the ferry landing, in that late-night moment, exhausted and leaning into what can only be described as compassionate resignation, with bleary-eyed staff curling around the dining room door frames to peek – was that I was sitting across from this man, about to say yes…to something I truly did not want. After only seven months of dating, including somewhat living together already a month or so, I was SO afraid to hurt his feelings.  From his bended knee aside our table, in front of the staff and other guests, I closed my eyes and exhaled agreement.  The applause and cheering filled the entire inn, but felt inappropriate as they congratulated a groom and his bride, the liar.  The girl too afraid to say what she did, and did not, desire.  I’d let things go too far and rather than risk his anger or a fight or immediate heartbreak and an uncomfortable silent ride home, it was easier just to say yes and give him what he wanted.

20-something years later, in this lovely Indian Summer September evening, shared with a different partner, I say “yes,” again.  To me.

Despite the path and the pain, any other reply than “yes” that night would not have been this life.  For I am in Love with this life, this ‘where’ right now, and the people with whom it is shared.

Happy Anniversary to me, today.  A day that reminds me to be honest with myself, to live, and Love, authentically, without fear.

Fearlessly loving from here.


Greenroom. (Poem)

A slow-glowing firefly rests where the cottage red garage door meets the pebbled tan foundation.  

It lights, labored, out of breath from a long summer winging warm night air.  

Across the gravel, honeysuckle continues a thin late bloom.  One must come so near for barely a hint of perfume that filled the entire yard merely weeks ago. 

If you rush by either on your way out for the evening, you’ll miss two of summer’s highlights taking their final bow.  

Let us ease into long sleeves, and blankets, and sleep, windows open as long as we can.  

Most of us are awful at farewell.  I aquiese to autumn one falling leaf at a time.

DJDawson 2012

September 20. 

’tis a gift, this life.

How the heck did I get so lucky to
-be here (one smart mother).
-know what I know (open, curious, insatiable mind).

-shepherd my child (excellent karma).

-be loved by a handful of stellar souls (and I mean honestly Loved — in that 4 AM, unconditional, whatever-you-need, take-you-as-you-are way we Love people).

-and be lucky enough to have people to Love, and like, in return.

Don’t know how it happened, but I am so very lucky…and I would not change a thing or lodge a complaint with the manager or send back scrambled eggs when I asked for over-easy.  Everything is a gift.  Including you.


Neil.  09.08.2015

What a strange place to be

Sending intermittent thoughts

Small prayers to ‘wasband’
he who was my husband

On the untimely but not altogether unexpected death of his brother,

Cornelius “Neal”


Named for their father


late last week, diseased liver and rattled core

gave up and ghosted him to the other side

younger at heart than most of us and most of our offspring,


with a profound lack of grounded responsibilities or any sense of sobriety

textbook wild spirit

genuine freebird *ignited lighter into the air*

Galahad and gadfly of bar rails and car-lifts

Vodka & Vicodon

Skynrd, Allmann

less refined but just as earthy

mortared with talent and deep soul


lost cause

failure to launch

rugged, salt & peppered smug grin who

never failed to glean a bosomy date or black eye from her husband, mate

or (in a few cases) a wits-end father


Swinging fists and spittle swearing from

the womb to the pine box

helluva ride

all before 58 or 59, definitely before 60


I am glad I met the other, younger, brother first.

I am learn’ed from both men, in the hardscrabble ways of wheeling and dealing for affection and second chances

though the lessons go unpracticed by my hand


He would have sold snake oil just for the sake of making a sale, and been all the more happy to white-knight-drive you to the doctor when it made you ill. With remorse, with a large battered heart, with loud rasping voice as if shout-talking over a taproom crowd, even when it was dusk alone or a baby’s christening in church.


He, best man to my then groom, arriving early that damp October afternoon. Half past the hour, an hour earlier than printed. He made sure to have the groom early, too, as it was his reputation to be late everywhere and always.


He cried through the entire service. Blubbering huge mantears down the front of his tux. His unspoken yet precious wedding gift to me — no one else – he made that very clear — was his sobriety

(for the service)


I was moved to tears.


He was present and fine past the picture-taking but stalled hard before we cut the cake. He took up with one of the photographers (both women) and they enjoyed each other’s “company” (to be polite) several times, apparently at great auditory exhibition, in her car in the front parking lot of the Garden City Hotel. I admired both his libido and his lack of decorum as I slept in my own hotel bed alone that night, the newly minted Mrs. No-body staring into the future


He cried again the day my child arrived and came, timid gusto, to sit and hold her.  Bundled bean curled against the mechanic’s arms. He held her for almost an hour in near-silent awe, and softly cried and told her the world would be kind…to her.


His baby gift was to arrive sober — just to be able to hold her. I’d anticipated him not showing or showing up three-sheeted or with yet another nameless dingbat on his arm. But, he arrived smoke-free, smacking of nothing more than Old Spice and a leather jacket.


Rest in peace, my once-brother-outlaw.

They’ve saved a pick, a stool, and a fine bottle of something just for you.

The music will be incredible, as you knew.

With respect, always,


 djdawson Sept 8, 2015

Barley September.

These last few mornings, before dawn, I have walked the dog.  Because my head is thrown back mouth hanging open dazed by all the stars, I have no idea whether or not she has relieved herself of her night holdings.  Let’s presume “yes”, as she has not soiled the carpet (recently).

On our walk this morning, cows lowing and uncensored roosters on the farm through the wood tuned up for their field day.  Again, the sky invited gazing.  Orion, clear as ever, sparkling belt and all, beginning to dive out of sight into the gathering equinox. Tonight, we will be blessed by the pull and push of September’s full Corn moon or Barley moon; the true Harvest moon this year does not rise until October.

Orion, whose body so powerful, his ego so big, believed no creature would or could ever slay him, stung by a lowly scorpion and up into the stars he went.  The scorpion, receiving similar celestial treatment, was placed on the opposite heavenly hemisphere so the two might never meet again.  Orion’s story, far more detailed and varied than what I share here – versions that include seduction, death by arrow, sobbing goddesses and angry gods, mothers and daughters, and other narrative rhinestones – a familiar and ancient myth.

This morning, realizing the constellation was leaving our sky for a while, I felt an overwhelm’ment of gratitude for having those few moments of unlit quiet, alone and outside.  And, immediately after that peace, I felt as though the calendar would suddenly move more quickly than the last eight months.  When the grape harvest is over, our home life will return to ‘normal’.  No more insanely early wake-up times for him (which also mean for me because once he’s up, I basically am, too); no more going to bed directly after 5 o’clock supper (which means being in bed with a full stomach, tossing and turning and trying to screen read in the dark, and being awake long after he has crossed into deep sleep).  The return of morning and evening in-bed conversation and planning and mindwandering, and communion.  As much as I may become periodically flummoxed about these temporary changes to our household routine, Orion reminds me to never get so brazen and full of myself to believe I can get along without these things; to not take the small stuff for granted, lest they creep up and bite/sting/kill me.

Harvest isn’t going to kill me or us.  Neither is the changing sky…because there is always a reason to get up in the morning, and not just an anxious dog – whether or not the fruit is ripe and ready, and there is always something to look at in the sky, day or night, clear or foggy.

Just keep looking up.