I’m just going to listen to your heart

I had a doctor appointment today so I wrote a haiku sequence. Also, I don’t have a picture from my appointment so I’m using this 2016 photograph of my husband pretending to be doctor. I believe the character’s name was “Dr. Douche.” Anyway, it’s poem time.

i like the light touch 
of the stethoscope on my
chest and back, each tap

a gentle chill 
going to the doctor can 
be nice if you just...

take a deep breath  
i'm just going to listen 
to your heart and lungs

i overdo it
inhale a good five seconds
longer than i should

and hold it in for
far too long before i dra-
matically exhale!

just breathe in and out
he says, breathe normally now
i've forgotten how

Thank you for reading my blog. Writing it is as easy as breathing in and out. -Connie

Nothing more, nothing less

It’s May 2nd and I think the same thing I have thought every year on this day since I was four or five years old.

“Dad’s birthday.”

I associate beautiful, warm weather with my dad’s birthday even though it’s not always beautiful and warm on May 2nd. In fact today was so dreary and cold that we cranked the heat up to 70. But my dad had a beautiful and warm heart, so that’s why I associate those adjectives with this day. That’s why I love this day.

My dad has been gone for five years and I am grateful, of course, for the memories, but even more so for the rare occasions I still have “dad moments.”

I’ve heard it’s common to associate a cardinal with a deceased loved one, but I don’t know why. What I do know is that while I’ve seen countless cardinals since my dad died, there have been two specific, separate occurrences when I saw a cardinal, stopped everything and thought the same thing.


A simple but heavy thought.


Nothing more, nothing less.

Another time I had a “dad moment” was on the treadmill. Treadmills aren’t exactly known for being spiritual so I’m as surprised as you are. But the moment was real and is still fresh in my mind.

I was listening to the rough cut of a literary podcast Jesse and I were editing for Rockford Writers’ Guild. It sounded terrific. I’m not bragging. It was legitimately good audio. But that’s not what was strange. The strange “thing” is that when I was on the treadmill listening to the podcast, my arms shot up in victory. But when that happened, my arms didn’t feel like my arms. They felt like my dad’s arms.


I knew in that strange moment the podcast was good. And it was. And it led to all sorts of great things. But that’s not why I’m writing.

I’m writing because the place I seem to have most of my “dad moments” is when I’m out in the world running errands and I see moments of beauty and warmth exchanged between a dad and his daughter. The most recent one was when I saw a stranger-dad pick up his daughter from school. I looked up and saw a dad fist-bump his daughter. It was a moment of cuteness and mutual respect. Though I never fist-bumped my dad, I was visited by that old familiar thought.


Nothing more, nothing less.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Love and miss you forever.

And to the rest of you: Thank you for reading my (very late night) blog. -Connie

P.S. I don’t have a lot of pictures of my dad, so I used an old photo of Jesse and our oldest daughter sharing a smile. I think it captures a certain universal “dad moment.”

Ding dong!

It’s the first day of May also known as “May Day.” That’s when people “secretly” deliver baskets of fresh flowers to their friends, neighbors and loved ones. I say “secretly” because part of the ritual is to place the “May Day basket” on the doorstep, ring the doorbell and vanish into thin air (or go home).

Wherever you go, you must n-e-v-e-r speak of the basket. You are to act like it never happened. If someone says they saw you, deny it.

So many red flags…

When I was very little, I willingly participated in this vandalism. I wasn’t allowed to use the good flowers, so I’d rip violets, dandelions and clover out of the earth and arrange them in a handmade paper basket. Sometimes the lilacs would be in bloom so I’d snip a small bunch, shake the ants off of it and stick it in the basket.

Making the paper basket was simple and we completed this task at school. You take a piece of construction paper, make a few little cuts, fold up and Scotch tape the four corners into a shallow basket. Then you staple the paper handle to the sides.

Honestly, I don’t know why I don’t do this more often. They’re adorable catchalls for pens and pencils. Rubber bands and whatnot. Note to self: Make baskets.

Anyway, even though I worked quickly, within seconds my flowers wilted. I’d place their droopy, lifeless bodies into what was now a paper casket. Inevitably, there would be at least one ant crawling over the carnage.

I was never proud of my work. Looking back, I should have just thrown the baskets in the trash. But this was before I learned how to “kill my darlings.” I didn’t know what an editor was back then. All I knew was I created something and goddamnit, I was going to force it on someone. But who?

I decided that my very private next door neighbors Miss Collier and Miss Norris would be the victims. I was equal parts giddy and terrified to ring their doorbell. I wasn’t even sure they had a doorbell because I never saw anyone visit them. The thought of leaving them my basket of doom made me dizzy. But I was all in because I thought I was doing my neighbors a great service by sharing my “art” with them.

I have so much shame about how much I’ve shared over the years. But you don’t really see me stopping, do you. Consider this blog a May Day basket from me to you. Not something you really want or need but, ding dong, here it is.

Thanks for reading my blog. I greatly appreciate it. Hope you get some real flowers today! -Connie

Of Mountains and Molehills

A moving truck pulled into our alley. They idled for several minutes.

Jeez dude. Shit or get off the pot. (My favorite saying.)

I went about my business until I heard the sound of the engine shutting off.

What the hell? That’s not what I meant!

As I pondered the different ways “Shit or get off the pot” can be interpreted, I suddenly heard God’s extension ladder vigorously zooming into the sky. It was so loud and angry-sounding my chest rattled. I looked out the window to see what they were delivering to God when I realized it wasn’t God’s extension ladder I heard. It was just the guy pulling the ramp out of the truck. And that’s when I realized I was “trapped.” I immediately texted my daughter.

Hi Sweetheart. There's a moving van parked behind the van. I'm looking at it right now. I can't tell how long they are going to be there. What's worse: I can't get out! LEGITIMATELY TRAPPED. I'm worried that I'll be late picking you up. What kind of shoes are you wearing? You might have to start walking.

Now is as good a time as any to tell you that I, Constance Valerie Kuntz, have been known to make a mountain out of a molehill. Case in point: the moving truck. Another text.

I'm not sure who is moving what. All I know is that I don't feel like I should ask the truck to move just so I can get out because what if they're delivering oxygen tanks or a hospice bed? 

I really didn’t want to know. Major breach of neighborly etiquette. Must text daughter immediately.

I really don't even want to know, you know? Shit. 

I texted a picture of the truck to my daughter.

God. I just can't figure it out.

I headed to the basement to transfer the laundry. I passed the back door on my way down. I thought about opening the door and checking on the progress of the movers, but I resisted. I palmed the door, gave it a little pat and descended the stairs.

A watched pot never boils. (My other favorite saying.)

Then I pondered the different sayings that incorporate the word “pot.”

  • a pot to piss in
  • pot calling the kettle black
  • pot shots
  • gone to pot
  • great American melting pot
  • pot head

When I got to “Potsie from Happy Days,” I heard God’s ladder getting sucked back into the the devil’s throat. This time the sickening sound loosened the molars in my jaw. By the time I reached the top of the stairs and peeked out the back door, the truck was gone. Crisis averted.

I folded the laundry and picked up my daughter with plenty of time to spare. And seeing her emerge from the schoolbus, fresh-faced after a long day of traveling and playing soccer? Well, that’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Hey, thanks for reading my blog. -Fusspot Connie

Day and night

Here’s some haiku poetry about our backyard. I wrote it today because last night I woke to the sounds of screeching raccoons scaling my neighbor’s tree.

Hear my poem.

a choir of tulips
turns to the sun and opens
wide to sing and shine


flowers fold their
fingers neatly
into their laps


close your eyes
into yourself

3:00 a.m.

raccoons hunt for mice
instead come face to
face with a fox

3:01 a.m.

lungs and eyes
screech and scream as they
scale a tree to safety

3:05 a.m.

fox flees and
the family descends the tree
slower going down than up

3:06 a.m.
i close the window and turn
my back to nature
hide under my pillow

Thanks for reading my blog and / or listening to my podcast. -Connie

Editor’s Note: Haiku is not limited to the 5-7-5 syllable structure.

For Nerds Only: Hear raw audio of the raccoons in my yard!

His first name is Richard

The Rockford Register Star has an update about a Catholic school teacher and Boy Scout camp co-director who has been charged with a sex crime against a child. The front-page story fails to include the offender’s first name.

You’ve heard of ‘bury the lede.’ This is ‘bury the deed.’ Someone else, once again, is deciding how much we should know. 

I, Connie, someone who respects privacy, actually think you should know his first name. It’s Richard.

Richard J. Reynolds, age 56, is hardly the first sex offender to emerge from the Catholic Diocese of Rockford, but he’s the most recently accused.

He taught at St. Peter’s Cathedral School from 1998–2019, then All Saints Catholic Academy from 2019–2021. Most recently, Reynolds was hired by Holy Family Catholic School. He was to teach once the 2021–2022 school year started, but he “retired” after the diocese and Holy Family became publicly involved. It’s possible they knew something sooner. This is the Catholic Church, after all.

To be clear, the Catholic diocese was officially aware of the allegations in August. That’s when Holy Family put Reynolds on unpaid administrative leave. He wasn’t fired; he wasn’t shooed away in disgrace. Two months later in October, the 56-year-old respectfully retired.

Two months is the time it takes to meet with lawyers, trusted friends and advisers. It’s generally how long it takes to get finances in order if you find yourself in a life circumstance that “suddenly” demands extra cash. It’s not ideal, but you can crack into your IRA and 401K if you need to, say, pay 10% of a $40,000 bail.

Reynolds’ $4,000 bail is paid and the retiree is currently free.

It’s worth mentioning that it’s unusual for a Catholic school teacher to have enough money saved to retire at age 56. That’s rare even for high-powered lawyers and CEOs with lucrative careers. But Reynolds was a history teacher.

When interviewed in 2018 about a northern Illinois history fair, Reynolds told WIFR News, “Rockford is full of a lot of history. Illinois is full of a lot of history.”

Rockford and Illinois aren’t just “full of a lot of history.” The city and state are full of sex offenders.

According to city-data, there are 515 registered sex offenders in Rockford. According to safehome.org, there are 32,541 in Illinois. That’s 257 sex offenders per 1,000 people.

Perhaps Reynolds spoke unremarkably to WIFR about history because history actually bores him. But it was something he could learn. The simple task of memorizing historical data was his chance to stand in front of, and among, hundreds of children. And he was a scout leader? Guaranteed orgasms all year round.

I generally stay away from the “tar and feather” approach and using vulgar language. I’m not interested in going to Richard Reynolds’ house (he’s a neighbor) and spray painting “child fucker” on his garage door. But I think it’s important to remember that men with fully developed minds and bodies are out there looking at kids and thinking, “I want to fuck that child.”

I’ve used the f-word to emphasize the violent nature of sex offenders. They’re not innocent guys who sometimes think naughty thoughts.

I don’t know for sure what they think but I doubt their thoughts are gentle or even humane. Sex offenders shred innocent flesh and irreparably damage young souls. They’re selfish and dangerous. And they’re smart; they know what they are doing.

You can do your own research about Richard Reynolds, or any criminal. As much as I respect the idea of so-called local journalism and appreciate home delivery of the newspaper, it’s not enough. I encourage you to utilize the internet, public radio, your instinct and your physical observations as you follow the data. You’re just a few clicks away from the real history of Rockford, of Illinois, of our entire country. Utilize as many safe, reliable sources as you can to stay vigilant.


Aside from his “retirement” from the Catholic diocese, Reynolds is barred from volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America. He is charged with grooming and disorderly conduct and has a plea hearing on May 25 at 9:00 a.m. at the Kane County Judicial Center. He’ll likely just get a slap on the wrist.

Thanks for reading my blog. No poetry today. -Connie

In Rockford, we ‘shake our instruments with intensity’

Great news: I won a 2022 Action Micro-Grant to produce the 2nd Annual Winter Solstice Poetry Caroling event. That’s Wednesday, December 21, 2022 at 3:00 p.m. in Walker Park. Please save the date for this free, outdoor event. Everyone is welcome. Our first year was a wonderful success. Here’s some of the feedback.

"The jingle bells and drums were a GREAT touch. Hearing the different arrangements of voices - also very moving. What a great (new) tradition to add to our Christmas traditions
Thank you! I loved it so much." 


"We loved it, Miss Connie. Thank you!"

"Wonderful project."

"We LOVED it! It was a surprise for my family and our guests and everyone was enthused and excited about it. THANK YOU for the book of poetry and the candy/chocolate for the kids! I certainly thought that a live poetry delivery in the dark of the longest night was a gift all in itself! Thanks for sharing all of these gifts with all of us!"

"It was lovely, Connie and family—thank you so much for the visit."

"Amazing! So loving. So in the spirit."


Now that I have “proof” that poetry caroling is fun AND I have a grant, I have time dedicated to recruiting more carolers! Join us!

Poetry caroling is similar to Christmas caroling. Carolers meet at Walker Park at 3:00 and I hand out scripts. We have a quick rehearsal to assign parts, check pronunciations and establish rhythm.

We walk through the neighborhood, gently shaking a variety of acoustic, handheld instruments. Once at the doorstep, we shake our instruments with intensity for a few seconds. Once our “guests” are outside, we share a curated arrangement of poems.

It’s tremendously exciting! The way the poetry sounds and feels outside in the cold, dark night is amazing.

Poems or excerpts from poems will be selected and arranged from (at least) the following:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Dreams by Langston Hughes

Appalachian Elegy (select sections) by bell hooks

Let the Light Enter by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas

The poems selected reflect the spirit, hope, truth and love of the longest, darkest night of the year.

I’ll work on the arrangement a little closer to the date. The final “script” will move along quite nicely. We are at each residence for less than 10 minutes.

Everyone is welcome to come poetry caroling with us! All I ask is that you let me know you are coming so I print enough scripts and have enough snacks and wassail. I also will need to make sure we have the proper amount of cars organized for the caravan.

The details:

-Meet at Walker Park on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022 at 3:00 p.m.

-I’ll hand out scripts.

-I’ll assign parts and lead a quick rehearsal to check volume, pronunciations, tone, rhythm, etc.

-Chugro will lead the caravan safely to each destination.

-The homes / places we are caroling will know we are coming. We are not “surprising” anyone. We are not going inside anyone’s home. We are not asking for anything in return. We are not caroling any houses that do not want to be caroled.

-The schedule is tight because it will be cold. Now…save the date! Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022 from 3:00-5:00 p.m. -Connie

Fern and Angelo prep for poetry caroling.

The grant is made possible through a partnership with the Rockford Area Arts Council, Rockford Art Deli, and the Rockford Area Visual Artist of the Year (Manny Tang, 2021).

As I lay wafting

I hit a pothole and popped my front tire. My mechanic recommended I go to Marvin’s Tire Shop to replace it so I did. I called them to make an appointment but the receptionist said I didn’t need one.

“Come anytime,” she said.

“Wow, thanks.” I said. “I’ll be there in ten.”

I grabbed a book (Morning Haiku by Sonia Sanchez) and headed over there. I figured I’d have to wait for at least an hour.

I figured wrong. You don’t even get out of your car!

When you pull into the lot, someone comes up to your window like the roller-skating waitresses on Happy Days. In my case, it was a man and he was wearing sensible shoes. Anyway, I didn’t know this sort of customer service still existed. When he appeared carside, I was so startled that I forgot how to roll down my windows. I ended up opening my car door to communicate because I’m an idiot.

By the time I figured out how to speak to another human, he already saw the spare and knew why I was there. He directed me to pull into the garage and one of the mechanics got to work.

He jacked up the car — this next part is important — with me in it.

I was mortified! With each pump, I felt things jiggle that I had never before felt jiggle. The new sensation triggered my doubts and insecurities.

Oh my god. Was I supposed to get out? Is the man going to die from the extra weight?

I looked ahead to the car in front of me and saw that the driver was still inside.

Phew! Phew, phew, phew!

Once my initial shock wore off, I cracked open my book but quickly realized I was too excited to concentrate on literature, especially the corny-ass forward.

From the moment i opened the book and read the first haiku, i slid onto the floor and cried and was changed. i had found me. -Sonia Sanchez

Good for you, but I don’t want to read this book now.

I looked up and found the poetry my soul was craving.

I saw another mechanic lift and dip a dusty old tire into a big tub of what looked like a warm, sudsy solution. When he pulled it out, the tire was as shiny as a seal.

Then another vehicle pulled up behind me and I saw another mechanic jack up that car with the driver still in it. I know it’s rude to stare, but I had to watch. I turned around in my seat and observed the driver jiggle with each pump. It is the most satisfying thing I have ever seen.

When I turned back around, my mechanic was already done! He released the jack. The van and I wafted down to the ground. It was the first time I have ever wafted. And as I wafted, I felt all of my cares and worries drift away. Bliss.

Until today, I had never been inside a professional garage. Jiffy Lube, sure, but nothing like this. I’ve always been sent to a boring waiting area or if it was at K-Mart or Wal*Mart, they’ve told me to “go shop.” This was so much better.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you’re local, I hope if and when you get a flat tire you head over to Marvin’s! -Connie

Eighteen is porcelain

Editor’s note: I thought about not writing today because it is our anniversary which is to say it’s a sacred day. But I don’t want to quit blogging until I reach the 100-day mark, at least, so here I am. Read at your own risk.

Happy 18th Anniversary, Goldie. You light up my life and I love you.

I looked it up and eighteen is porcelain. That’s what toilets are made of so cheers to a practical and necessary anniversary?

Material goods aren’t really our thing, but nature is and I’ve always loved the unpredictable, natural elements of our anniversary.

When we got married, it was 81 and sunny. Today, it’s literally forty degrees colder and windy here in Rockford. But the sun is shining and I can feel the warm spirit of our beautiful day in my jaw, my chest. My temples.

There will be a full moon tonight. The media is calling this one the “pink moon.” Why do they have to call it anything? It’s like assigning porcelain to an anniversary.

Last year on our anniversary, a great horned owl visited our backyard. Awesome.

And I remember the year before that we had a little double-date in our backyard with the ducks. It was the beginning of the pandemic and neither of us wanted to venture too far from home. It seems funny now, but I was afraid to even go to the backyard. And by funny, I mean kind of sad and disturbing.

Most (all?) years we’ve celebrated with a run or walk or hike or bike ride. I’m glad we take it outside. And I’m glad for the days we don’t leave the house. I’m glad for the days I look up from my “morning chair” and I see you on the couch, surrounded by books, art and animals.

But this morning you weren’t there because you were, and are, in San Diego. I do wonder what the pink moon will look like when you get back to your hotel room tonight. Will you be able to see it over the Pacific Ocean? Will you even look for it? I will if you will and for tonight only I’ll let it light up my life. Here’s to 18 more and then 18 more after that. ❤

To the rest of you non-Goldies: Thank you for reading my blog. -Connie

P.S. Fun fact: I’m the editor.

Stop dragging your wife and move to Rockford

The front page of today’s paper says MarketWatch put Rockford on a list of “surprisingly cool towns.” Gosh, thanks MarketWatch! Your backhanded compliment tells me you are surprisingly cool, too.

Speaking of compliments, kudos to Ken DeCoster for this surprisingly cool journalism! I love how his story leads with “Proximity to Chicago and Milwaukee…” as the number one reason the forest city is so fabulous. It’s good to know that what’s cool about Rockford isn’t Rockford itself, but that it is on the way to actual cool places.

It’s really the story that just keeps giving because DeCoster interviewed Marc Strandquist, a 59-year-old Rockford native who works for a “private equity firm in the Chicago area. That’s right: DeCoster interviewed a middle-aged white guy who doesn’t actually work in Rockford for perspective! How surprisingly cool!

As DeCoster writes it, “…proximity to O’Hare International Airport” was what sold Strandquist and his wife on moving to Rockford during the pandemic.

I think the most surprisingly cool part of the story is when Strandquist is quoted in the story as saying, “I’ve dragged my wife everywhere” when they were looking for a place to live. Gosh, I hope she didn’t put up too much of a fight!

Another reason Rockford made the “surprisingly cool” cut is because you can buy a house here for less than $150,000. DeCoster also interviewed Conor Brown for this story. Brown is the CEO of Rockford Area Realtors and said Rockford has “always been a city that has been cool and creative.” How surprisingly cool to hear an unbiased comment about the city where Brown buys and sells houses for a living!

Rockford is a small city with a population of about 150,000 people. I would never call it “surprisingly cool.” I’d just call it cool. Great people, including my family, live here plus there are outstanding options for education, anti-racism, spiritual growth and science. I love writing in Rockford and can honestly say I am in a constant state of inspiration here. I love the land, I know where to get a good latte and should someone need me, I am accessible. I may not have much love for the story I read in today’s paper, but I do love it here.

Thanks for reading my unsurprisingly uncool blog. -Connie