Thursday, July 19, 2018

An explosion of exactitude

Japanese things - laquers, netsuke, prints - conjure a picture of a place where sensations are always new, where art pours out of daily life, where everything exists in a dream of endless beautiful flow.
~Edmund de Waal

Netsuke from the Edo period

I've been reading The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. De Waal is a poetic writer, and the way he described why he wanted to figure out the history of the netsuke he inherited from his great-uncle made me want to add some line breaks...

from The Hare with Amber Eyes
by Edmund de Waal

This netsuke
is a
of exactitude.

It deserves
this kind of
in return.
All this matters
because my job is to make things.

How objects get handled,
used and handed on
is not just
a mildly interesting question
for me.
It is my question.

I can remember
if something invited touch
with the whole hand
or just the fingers,
or was an object
that asked you
to stay away.
Some objects seem to retain
the pulse
of their making.


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


Japan never considers time together as time wasted. Rather, it is time invested.
~Donald Richie

Tomorrow I have a netsuke found poem; today I have a related object: inrō. Inrō were most commonly used to carry identity seals and medicine and were held together by a cord, secured to a netsuke. An ojime (bead) on the cords between the inrō and netsuke held the boxes together.

Inro with Cranes Soaring by Mount Fuji, and Netsuke of a Turtle, 19th century
The Walters Art Museum

Inro with Autumn Carnations and Badger Netsuke
by Toryu (Japanese, active ca. 18th century)

Inrō in the Shape of a House

Inrō with a Chinese scholar and attendents

Inrō with a serpent

Inrō on Pinterest

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Helplessness Management

If you love your country, you must be willing to defend it from fraud, bigotry, and recklessness--even from a president.
~DaShanne Stokes

I'm a pretty chill person. Under normal conditions, I don't spend much time angry. These are not normal conditions, though, and some part of me is angry at all times. To be honest, I think that's necessary. When I stop being furious about our GOP leadership being corrupt and immoral, I will have accepted the corruption and degradation of my country. That isn't going to happen.

I thought about having our topic be "anger management" but when I looked at the info about it, it wasn't quite right. I don't need to count to ten or I'll blow my top. It's really "helplessness management" that's my concern.

It feels like we have a "the emperor has no clothes" situation going on, but when the child at the end of the story says, "he's naked!" instead of the townspeople finding the courage to agree, 40% of them say things like, "I can't tell because I'm not looking," "We like making you mad that he's naked," and "None of the other emperors wore clothes." So what do you do when being clear-eyed is completely frustrating?

Emperor's New Clothes, Denmark

Here are some possibilities, in addition to getting out and protesting:

Support organizations that are trying to make a difference. You can support them by making a donation, by following them, by volunteering...

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Public Citizen (Protecting Health, Safety, and Democracy)
Let America Vote
Postcards to Voters

A book that might make you feel better:
What Unites Us by Dan Rather

A petition:
Need to Impeach

Things to read or do (self-care):
Mindful breathing
Random acts of kindness
Write yourself a love letter
Spending time with art
Body scan
The APA on anger control

Whatever you do to help yourself or others is important and it matters. Thank you!

Monday, July 16, 2018


Naar leiken er best, skal ein helst halda upp.
English equivalent: Leave a jest when it pleases you best.
~Norwegian proverb

I had to laugh when I saw that proverb because it reminded me of something I told my kids (more than once!) when they were young..."the secret to a good joke is knowing when to stop."

For Music Monday we have Halvorsen's Norwegian Rhapsody #1:

Thursday, July 12, 2018

In Solidarity with (Mother) Nature

Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.
~Barbara Kingsolver

I love the joyful surprise of finding a clever poem (and a beautiful postcard) in my mailbox. For the Summer Poem Swap, Becky Herzog used an Emerson quote I shared on my blog as a springboard.

In Solidarity with (Mother) Nature
by Rebecca Herzog
Nature never hurries. Atom by atom, little by little, she achieves her work.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I carve out time
(chiseled in Play-Doh, not stone)

I listen for the muse
(she sounds a lot like my kids)

I fall into a rhythm
(the beats are foot stomps overhead)

I toss the words onto the page
(and teach a child to catch a ball)

I wring out my tired brain
(while little hands squish my cheeks)

But bit by bit
(and little by little)

I achieve my work
(the work is never done)


Poetry For Children has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Sylvia!

Beautiful work

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it.
~Author Unknown

I like the combination of work and beauty in this painting. The painter's wife Selma is getting her hands dirty, but I'll bet she's happy:

Selma in the Garden
by T.C. Steele

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Relationship Advice

Being with someone who is smart and gives good advice adds tremendously wonderful elements to your life.
~Patricia Cornwell

Having to give relationship advice can start pretty early. When my firstborn was in preschool, she told me she had a tough choice to make about which boy would be her boyfriend. I asked her which one she thought might bring her a bandaid if she had a boo-boo. She thought that was a good question and it seemed to shed a bit of light on her calculations.

Fast forward eighteen years and Ariana becomes serious with a guy who came with her to a doctor's appointment on their first date. (Long story!) He is most assuredly someone who would get a bandaid for her boo-boo. He is also someone whom she finds very interesting -- a trait Barack Obama recommends.

The advice:

First, he asks: 'Is she someone you find interesting? You will spend more time with this person than anyone else for the rest of your life, and there is nothing more important than always wanting to hear what she has to say about things.'

Second, he asked: 'Does she make you laugh?'

And third, he said: 'I don't know if you want kids, but if you do, do you think she will be a good mom?

'Life is long,' Obama told him. 'These are things that really matter over the long term.'

I think these are smart questions. What questions do you recommend?