Monday, June 26, 2017

Music and the Human Spirit

Those with dementia are still people and they still have stories and they still have character and they're all individuals and they're all unique.
~Carey Mulligan

Our video for Music Monday comes with a tissue warning:

Addendum! It's the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter -- can't let that go by unacknowledged:

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Holding our breath like a coin

Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected.
~Roman Payne

I'm really into mentor poems these days, and I can see using the first of today's poems as one. "If you were a ______"...

by Heather Sommer

Your first time out of the country
of your own skin, I didn’t bring a map.

You always hated that I’d been lucky
enough to pick my way through streets

I couldn’t pronounce to find cathedrals,
graveyards. If you were a city, you said,

I’d only like to know your suburbs.

read the rest here


by Christopher Howell

When Keats, at last beyond the curtain
of love’s distraction, lay dying in his room
on the Piazza di Spagna, the melody of the Bernini
Fountain “filling him like flowers,”
he held his breath like a coin, looked out
into the moonlight and thought he saw snow.
He did not suppose it was fever or the body’s
weakness turning the mind. He thought, “England!”

read the rest here


My Juicy Little Universe has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Heidi!


Summer is always best through a window.
~Jens Lekman

Windows for Art Thursday. Recently when my family went to an art exhibit, my daughter Elena & I picked the same painting as our favorite -- one with an open window and billowing white curtain. It drew us right in. I can't share that painting for copyright reasons, but...

photo by Simon Matzinger

After the Rain
photo by Carroll Jones III

Abbey of San Galgano
photo by Simon Matzinger

Open Window
by Diana Lee Photography

scorcio alla galbusera bianca
photo by Alberto Magagnini

The View From Qaytbay Castle At Alex
photo by Ahmed

open window
photo by fortheloveofcc

Red and white
photo by Massimo Telò

from Dear Evan Hansen:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Art Time

Mix up a little more shadow color here, then we can put us a little shadow right in there. See how you can move things around? You have unlimited power on this canvas -- can literally, literally move mountains.
~Bob Ross

For Wellness Wednesday, we're thinking about engaging with art.

I started Art Thursday years ago to ensure that I would spend some time with art every week. Have you been getting as much interaction with art as you want? This could mean just following Art Pics Channel on Twitter so you see some art every day, or rotating prints you like as your wallpaper on your computer. Maybe you want to try some Zentangle or coloring, or decorate the cover of a notebook or binder with a print so you can see it when you are studying or cooking, etc. What feeds your spirit? How can you get more of it?

A Beginner’s Guide to Finding Art You (Actually, Genuinely) Like
7 Ways to Make An Art Museum Visit Fun for Kids
10 Reasons to Visit Art Galleries
100 Art Therapy Exercises

I have an Etsy account where I save favorites, and I encourage doing that, although it doesn't need to be Etsy. Other sites include Artsy, DeviantArt, and Society 6. You can save things that appeal to all sorts of different moods. Have fun with it -- save things you can't afford ;-)

A couple of videos:

Monday, June 19, 2017

Can't Sleep Love

I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.
~Jane Austen

These folks are completely in the zone when they're singing:

They are pursuing solo projects now, so here are their individual web sites:

Thursday, June 15, 2017


It goes without saying that a fine short poem can have the resonance and depth of an entire novel.
~James Wright

Busy writing poems for the Summer Poetry Swap this week! I wrote one for the wrong person first (how is that possible, you wonder? I found a way...), plus I am doing two people for the first swap, so I have been working on three poems. I am going to be collecting poems about mistakes for an anthology, so I have been doing prep work for that as well.

Here's a short poem by James Wright, plus a song:

By James A Wright

The moon drops one or two feathers into the field.
The dark wheat listens.
Be still.
There they are, the moon's young, trying
Their wings.
Between trees, a slender woman lifts up the lovely shadow
Of her face, and now she steps into the air, now she is gone
Wholly, into the air.
I stand alone by an elder tree, I do not dare breathe
Or move.
I listen.
The wheat leans back toward its own darkness,
And I lean toward mine.


I think immortality is a real draw for many writers, don't you? Poet by Bastille:


You can find the Poetry Friday round-up at Carol's Corner. Thanks, Carol!

Train of Thought

I like trains. I like their rhythm, and I like the freedom of being suspended between two places, all anxieties of purpose taken care of: for this moment I know where I am going.
~Anna Funder

Trains for Art Thursday. I saw the painting by Hans Baluschek and decided to run (chug?) with it.

The Express Train Arrives, 1909
by Hans Baluschek

La huerta o el tren de Colmenar
by Ulpiano Checa

Viaggio Triste (Sad Journey)
by Raffaele Faccioli (1845-1916)

La gare de Lyon-Perrache
by Louis Beysson (1856-1912)

Berlin-Potsdamer Eisenbahn 1847
by Adolph Menzel

Saint-Lazare Station, the Western Region Goods Sheds
by Claude Monet

The Lackawanna Valley
by George Inness

100 years of electrical trains and international traffic exhibition (IVA) Hamburg

Lastly, go visit a painting titled "The Annoying Cavalier." I really feel for her...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Comfort Foods

Some foods are so comforting, so nourishing of body and soul, that to eat them is to be home again after a long journey. To eat such a meal is to remember that, though the world is full of knives and storms, the body is built for kindness.
~Eli Brow

Thinking about food this Wellness Wednesday. Healthy comfort food in particular. Do you have anything you like to eat when you are cheering yourself up? Mashed potatoes are a favorite of mine, with lots of cream, butter, and salt. Not super healthy, and honestly, a healthy version of it probably isn't going to do it for me.

My relatively healthy comfort food favorites:
soups and chili
tea and lots of it
plain Greek yogurt with honey
coq au vin
chicken tikka masala
guacamole and tortilla chips
lasagna (okay, not healthy?)
chocolate drizzled strawberries (maybe with bananas or marshmallows...)

photo by Jen R

This looks like a good list: 31 Days of Healthy Comfort Food

What are your favorite comfort foods, healthy or otherwise?

I lived in Atlanta for five years and boy howdy, did I love the food. This video fills me with longing:

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Welcome Table

There is no hospitality like understanding.
~Vanna Bonta

The Welcome Table today. Dan Zanes and Friends first:

And a jazzy version from Old Town School of Folk Music:

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Ten Things

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
~T.S. Eliot

"Ten Things Found in a Wizard's Pocket" is today's poem. It has been used in lesson plans as a mentor poem, which inspired me to write "Ten Things Found in a Mermaid's Pocket."

Ten Things Found in a Wizard’s Pocket
by Ian McMillan

A dark night.
Some words that nobody could ever spell.
A glass of water full to the top.
A large elephant.
A vest made from spider’s webs.
A handkerchief the size of a car park.

read the rest here.

Ten Things Found in a Mermaid's Pocket

A balm for well-kissed lips.
Some scale-shaped band-aids.
An umbrella hat for when no one's looking.
Chocolate seaweed for bad days.
A pair of special occasion stillettos.
A sailor's hair in a locket.
Dolphin mist perfume.
Another sailor's hair in a locket.
A sweet pet jelly with a zippy stinger.
Throat spray for tired singers.


What might YOU find in an interesting stranger's pockets? A Year of Reading has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Mary Lee!

Biodiversity Heritage Library

Somewhere close I knew spear-nosed bats flew through the tree crowns in search of fruit, palm vipers coiled in ambush in the roots of orchids, jaguars walked the river's edge; around them eight hundred species of trees stood, more than are native to all of North America; and a thousand species of butterflies, 6 percent of the entire world fauna, waited for the dawn.
~Edward O. Wilson

Art from the Biodiversity Heritage Library today. I really had a hard time stopping. So many pleasing and curious things! (Click to embiggen.)

from The naturalist's miscellany, or Coloured figures of natural objects
by George Shaw, 1751-1813
illustrated by F.P. Nodder and R.P. Nodder

from De dieren van Nederland
by Hermann Schlegel, 1804-1884

from De dieren van Nederland
by Hermann Schlegel, 1804-1884

from De dieren van Nederland
by Hermann Schlegel, 1804-1884

from Himalayan journals; or, Notes of a naturalist in Bengal, the Sikkim and Nepal Himalayas, the Khasia Mountains, &c.
by Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, 1817-1911

from Flora of America, drawn after nature on the spot. Rich collection of most remarkable plants, flowers & fruits of size & natural size.
By Etienne Denisse

from The plums of New York ...
by U.P. Hedrick, 1911

from The main gifts of Dutch East Indies
by P. A. Ouwens

from Exact description of the main natural curiosites of Albert Seba's magnificent cabinet
Albertus Seba, 1665-1736

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Longest lead-in ever

by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Today for Wellness Wednesday, we're thinking about making sure our relationships are uplifting and not "vexations to the spirit."

One of my mottos is "Protect what you value," which I often think when I see people on motorcycles without helmets, but applies to many ways we spend our time. Do you value your peace of mind, your self-confidence? Protect them!

Maybe you don't have vexatious relationships, but maybe someone you love does. Other people's choices are generally out of our hands, but I have seen young people make better choices after they become more informed about healthy and unhealthy relationships. Information sharing can be helpful.

How can you tell whether a relationship is healthy? What can be done about it if it isn't? Here are some articles on those topics:

Are the people in your life positive?
7 signs you're in a toxic friendship
13 red flags of potentially toxic friendships
9 relationship red flags you shouldn't be ignoring
6-step life detox to get rid of a bad relationship
5 ways to end a bad relationship
How to move on from unhealthy relationships
Loveisrespect (resources to empower youth to prevent and end dating abuse)

A song about cutting someone loose:

Monday, June 5, 2017

Music, darling

I call everyone 'Darling' because I can't remember their names.
Zsa Zsa Gabor

Darlingside today, courtesy BonBon:

Friday, June 2, 2017


I don't know why we take our worst moods so much more seriously than our best.
~Tim Kreider

I read a poem that wowed me this week, but a) I don't have permission to share it, and b) it was quite dark. Darker than I'm feeling. To read it (which I do recommend), go here.

Instead, I'm sharing Ogden Nash.

No Doctors Today, Thank You
by Ogden Nash

They tell me that euphoria is the feeling of feeling wonderful,
Well, today I feel euphorian,
Today I have the agility of a Greek god and the appetitite of a Victorian.
Yes, today I may even go forth without my galoshes,
Today I am a swashbuckler, would anybody like me to buckle any swashes?
This is my euphorian day,
I will ring welkins and before anybody answers I will run away.
I will tame me a caribou
And bedeck it with marabou.
I will pen me my memoirs.
Ah youth, youth! What euphorian days them was!
I wasn't much of a hand for the boudoirs,
I was generally to be found where the food was.
Does anybody want any flotsam?
I've gotsam.
Does anybody want any jetsam?
I can getsam.
I can play chopsticks on the Wurlitzer,
I can speak Portuguese like a Berlitzer.
I can don or doff my shoes without tying or untying the laces because
I am wearing moccasins,
And I practically know the difference between serums and antitoccasins.
Kind people, don't think me purse-proud, don't set me down as vainglorious,
I'm just a little euphorious.


It's June! (This made me laugh, especially when she describes what happened...)


Buffy Silverman has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Buffy!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Landscapes, Seascapes, and Story Scenes

I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers. I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer -- and what trees and seasons smelled like -- how people looked and walked and smelled even.
~John Steinbeck

Three artists this Thursday: Harold Harvey, Eleanor Fortesque-Brickdale, and Marie Egner.

Pioneer of Aerial Navigation
by Harold Harvey

Marsh landscape

by Harold Harvey

Unloading the boats, Newlyn Harbour
by Harold Harvey

Motiv von der Insel Rab (Arbe)
by Marie Egner

by Marie Egner

"Yestreen Queen Mary had four Maries, This night she'll hae but three; She had Mary Seaton, and Mary Beaton, And Mary Carmichael, and me" (Mary Hamilton)
from Eleanor Fortesque Brickdale's Golden Book of Famous Women

Bottom and Titania
by Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale

The Uninvited Guest
by Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Spark that Links Us

An idea, when lighted, often glows to illuminate other ideas.
~Aniekee Tochukwu Ezekiel

For Wellness Wednesday, a few words from Naomi Shihab Nye. I am not somebody who is a really thorough fan, like one who reads everything a particular author writes or listens to everything by a particular musician, but I do have some people I fangirl over. For instance, I think I have posted more times about Shakespeare and Bach than I have about anybody else. Mary Oliver consistently makes me give a happy sigh. And so does Naomi Shihab Nye.

Naomi Shihab Nye by Micahd

I'm going to share bits from Nye's introduction to Salting the Ocean today:

In the midst of public jabber, high-velocity advertising, and shameless television, where is one true word? Where are three? Who will pause long enough to describe something truly, and clearly? Where is the burn of speech, the sweet rub of language, the spark that links us?

Poetry, poetry!


"How should we use poetry?" people sometimes ask me. Read it! Share it with one another! Find poems that make you resonate. Different poems will do this for every person. We "use poetry" to restore us to feeling, revitalize our own speech, awaken empathy.


Put a poem on the board and don't even discuss it -- let it permeate the atmosphere on its own.


Do we explain music every time we listen to it? Mystery remains part of many poems, as well it should, since it remains part of our lives no matter who or where we are.


I can promise you one thing: whatever you do in your life, whatever path you follow, if you are a person who feels comfortable writing your own words down, you will have an easier, better time of everything.

~Naomi Shihab Nye

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Still feeling sentimental

Just popping in to share a song! Ben and I celebrated our 25th anniversary last week. Here's Leroy Sanchez singing a song by James Arthur:

Monday, May 29, 2017


Perhaps the two greatest moments of my life were standing on the moon and being outside of the room when my granddaughter was born!
~Eugene Cernan

Posting late today, but it's still Monday!

Onuka is a Ukrainian electro-folk band ("Onuka" means "granddaughter," and is in honor of the lead singer's grandfather, folk-instrument maker Oleksandr Shlionchyk)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Last Lyrics

I get all my ideas in Switzerland near the Forka Pass. There is a little town called Gletch, and two thousand feet up above Gletch there is a smaller hamlet called Über Gletch. I go there on the fourth of August every summer to get my cuckoo clock fixed. While the cuckoo is in the hospital, I wander around and talk to the people in the streets. They are very strange people, and I get my ideas from them.
~Dr. Seuss

Two themes for the end of the lyrics month! First, a children's theme, which I'm kicking off with what I think of as a poem for two voices from Seussical:

Steve Songs. He has a lot of inventive, interesting lyrics.

They Might Be Giants cover many science topics in a fun way.

Bonus lyrics that made me laugh:


My second theme is "I can't keep quiet." I already featured this first song, but it's back with a choir of 1,300:

Cold War Kids: Locker Room Talk

Bonus for people who like political parodies: The Russian Connection (to the tune of "The Rainbow Connection," song starts 2 minutes in)


Reflections on the Teche has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Margaret!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wish we were here

Success, she decided, was often a matter of knowing when to relax.
~Barbara Taylor Bradford

I saw this painting and thought, This is it. Here's what I have to say this week.

Couch on the Porch, Cos Cob
by Childe Hassam

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Getting your hands dirty

My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's point of view.
~H. Fred Dale

We have a guest blogger for Wellness Wednesday! Maria Cannon wrote a piece about a subject close to her heart: gardening. She found that gardening improved her quality of life as she dealt with a chronic illness. Links at the bottom to help people get started.

a handful by Pat Dumas

6 Amazing Reasons Why Backyard Gardening is Good For You
by Maria Cannon

It’s easy to see why gardening is fun, interesting, and rewarding, but the health benefits of tending to a backyard vegetable or flower garden aren’t so obvious. If you’ve ever wondered why getting your hands dirty in the garden feels so good, read on for seven incredible ways that gardening boosts your wellbeing.

1. It Boosts Your Mood

You know you feel better — happier, more spirited — after an afternoon of digging in the dirt, but did you know there’s a scientific explanation for why gardening makes you feel great? Healthy soil is home to bacteria called M. vaccae, and when you breath it in, it gets busy boosting the amount of the mood-boosting neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in your body.

2. It Unleashes Your Nurturing Side

Tending to garden plans puts your nurturing side to work: In order for plants to bring you beauty and nutrition, it’s your responsibility to keep them watered, fed, and safe from passing storms and hungry wildlife. Having something to nurture can be especially rewarding for people living with mental health issues. When you’re responsible for something else’s survival, there’s a reason to get up and get active each and every day.

3. It Centers You

Gardening keeps people connected to their most immediate needs as humans. It teaches the importance of aspects of the natural world that are taken for granted, like healthy dirt and clean water. It lets you produce something tangible and teaches patience while you wait for plants to grow and blossom. In a world where it’s all too easy to stress about spreadsheets, deadlines, and budgets, connecting to the natural world can be incredibly centering. It forces you to stay focused on the present moment, not on future responsibilities and past mistakes.

4. It Relieves Your Stress

Gardening has been shown to reduce the amount of cortisol circulating through the human body. Cortisol, sometimes called the “stress hormone,” is released in excess during times of stress. Over time, too much cortisol in the body can lead to anxiety, depression, fatigue, weight gain, and even premature cognitive decline.

5. It Gives You a Healthy Dose of Vitamin D

Insufficient vitamin D is linked to depression, seasonal affective disorder, and even weakened immune systems, and there’s only one sure-fire way to get enough vitamin D: sunshine. Any time you work outside in the garden, your skin is soaking up ultraviolet B rays and using them to produce vitamin D. While you need exposed skin, free of sunscreen, to properly absorb UVB rays, you should only leave your skin exposed for about half the time it normally takes you to get a sunburn. After that, cover up to prevent skin damage and protect against skin cancer.

6. It Keeps You Limber

Working in your backyard garden may not qualify as vigorous exercise, but it does require a wide variety of body movements that help keep you active and limber. Whether you’re kneeling to sow seeds, squatting to harvest lettuce, bending to pull weeds, or lifting bags of compost, the diverse activities involved in tending to a garden can improve your mobility. This helps keep your body healthy now and also preserves balance and functional mobility as you age, keeping you independent for longer. In fact, gardening is even used as therapy for stroke patients seeking to regain dexterity, increase strength, and improve their confidence.

Whether you’re interested in gardening for the access to fresh, organic produce, for its therapeutic value, or simply for a fun, outdoor hobby, you’ll be rewarded with all of these wonderful health benefits and more.

Small Space Gardening (How to Garden Anywhere)
Beat the Winter Blues with Houseplant How To’s
10 plants to grow if you're stressed
Black Thumb Gardener

Monday, May 22, 2017

All on me

When it don't add up
you can count on me
~Devin Dawson

Having a mellow, upbeat Music Monday with Devin Dawson:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Lyrics inspired by books and plays

There is a design, an alignment
A cry of my heart to see
The beauty of love as it was made to be
~Sigh No More

Lyrics inspired by or from books and plays today. So many choices! I shared some Wuthering Heights songs and David Gilmour singing Sonnet 18 a while back. This Poetry Friday, we have two Shakespeare, two Daphne du Maurier, one C.S. Lewis, and one Gregory Maguire (L. Frank Baum).

Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More (lines from Much Ado about Nothing by Shakespeare)

MC Lars: Hey There Ophelia (Hamlet)

Tori Amos: Jamaica Inn (inspired by the book of the same name by Daphne du Maurier)

Meg and Dia: Rebecca (also by Daphne du Maurier)

Phish: Prince Caspian

Kristin Chenoweth: Popular from Wicked (a musical inspired by a book inspired by a book)


Do you have favorite songs inspired by books?

Whispers from the Ridge has the Poetry Friday round-up today. Thanks, Kiesha!

Itty Bitty redux

The Spoonsize Boys steal the dollhouse toys while the cat by the fire is curled. Then away they floats in their eggshell boats, down the drains to their underground world.
~Tim Powers

Another Art Thursday repost today. This is from August 2013. I am a fan of wee scenes and am hoping to put together a miniature garden. Last fall, I bought one piece, which was joined by a couple others, and now I need to find a suitable location for them (so I can add a lot more!)

Darth Vader's dollhouse? Check. Dollhouse's dollhouse? Check. Miniature-food genius? Check. You may proceed.

Dollhouse for a dollhouse
photo by Bellafaye

Dollhouse inside House on the Rock
photo by John Kroll

Stettheimer Dollhouse
photo by Kristine Paulus

Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle
photo by Kathy

Dollhouse Candy Cabinet
by Stéphanie Kilgast

Dollhouse bedroom
photo by Béatrice

Dollhouse library
photo by dmmalva

Bedtime Story
by Chris Nitz

Gingerbread House in Progress
by Stéphanie Kilgast

Dollhouse full of bees
photo by shelmac
At night they all retired to the honeycombs in the kitchen, Lo-Fi Arts Festival, 2012


* Let's Build a Dollhouse, how-to site
* Make an easy bookcase dollhouse
* Dollhouse wall boxes (dioramas)
* Miniatures tutorials

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Language of Love

One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.
~Paulo Coelho

I heard about the concept of "love languages" last weekend. The five love languages (as described by Gary Chapman) are: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. They can communicate any kind of love -- romantic, familial, neighborly, etc. I'm including this for Wellness Wednesday because it seems useful to think about what makes us feel good (as givers and receivers).

I think I like to give and receive all five. Maybe I like quality time best? Words of affirmation? What do you think? Is there a particular love language that you identify with?