Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Personal Mottos

To begin with, let us take the following motto...Literature is Love. Now we can continue.
~Vladimir Nabokov

I'd like to kick off this Wellness Wednesday by talking about people using their talents to be lovely to one another. For instance, after poet Tomas Tranströmer had a stroke that rendered him only able to play piano with his left hand, composer Daniel Stagno composed three left-hand-only songs for Tranströmer. Isn't that marvelous?

Have I mentioned that poet E.J. Koh has been writing love letters to strangers? (Her plan: to write a thousand!) My daughters received letters from her this week. *happy sigh*

Maybe something about the use of your talents will make it into your personal motto? I think the act of coming up with a motto/mantra/prayer/invocation/rallying cry can be a useful exercise. What feels right? What serves you?

Would you want to pick just one word to be your motto? (True confession: mine has fourteen words.) If you want to try going with just one, here's some info about One Little Word. They explain:

So what do you do with this One Little Word®?

You live with it. You invite it into you life. You let it speak to you. You might even follow where it leads. There are so many possibilities and no right or wrong way to approach the adventure.

Monday, August 21, 2017


Ohh, he works out
but it's you that I really want
~Izzy Bizu

Two Skinny songs for Music Monday. The first is a body-positive song for skinny guys by Izzy Bizu:

Skinny Blue with "Tennessee":

Sunday, August 20, 2017

How to Stop Time

Forever, Emily Dickinson said, is composed of nows. But how do you inhabit the now you are in? How do you stop the ghosts of all the other nows from getting in? How, in short, do you live?
~Matt Haig

Just finished How to Stop Time by Matt Haig. I cried at the end, not because it was sad but because I was so moved. If you read it, let me know what you thought.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


How then does light return to the world after the eclipse of the sun? Miraculously. Frailly. In thin stripes. It hangs like a glass cage. It is a hoop to be fractured by a tiny jar. There is a spark there. Next moment a flush of dun. Then a vapour as if earth were breathing in and out, once, twice, for the first time. Then under the dullness someone walks with a green light. Then off twists a white wraith. The woods throb blue and green, and gradually the fields drink in red, gold, brown. Suddenly a river snatches a blue light. The earth absorbs colour like a sponge slowly drinking water. It puts on weight; rounds itself; hangs pendent; settles and swings beneath our feet.
~Virginia Woolf

Isn't that an exquisite quote from Virginia Woolf? I don't have permission to post the following artworks here, but they are worth clicking on the links:

Eclipse of the Sun, 1975 by Roy Lichtenstein

Corona #2: Solar Eclipse by Caryl Bryer Fallert
from the Permanent Collection of The National Quilt Museum of the United States
One of the 100 most important quilts of the 20th Century

A terrific selection of downloadables for Eclipse 2017 from NASA

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A prayer and a call for submissions

Smart people learn from their mistakes. But the real sharp ones learn from the mistakes of others.
~Brandon Mull

Something from 100 Poems to Lift your Spirits today, followed by an announcement.

An excerpt from Max Ehrmann's A Prayer:

May I not forget that
poverty and riches are of the spirit.
Though the world knows me not,
may my thoughts and actions be
such as shall keep me friendly with myself.

Lift up my eyes from the earth,
and let me not forget the uses of the stars.
Forbid that I should judge others
lest I condemn myself.
Let me not follow the clamor of the world,
but walk calmly in my path.

Give me a few friends
who will love me for what I am;
and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps
the kindly light of hope.

And though age and infirmity overtake me,
and I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams,
teach me still to be thankful for life,
and for time's olden memories that are good and sweet;
and may the evening's twilight find me gentle still.


Perhaps a mistake was made?
photo by Diablo Rosa

I'm putting together a poetry anthology for middle schoolers and would like to invite you all to submit. The theme is mistakes.

Why make an anthology about mistakes? Because "mistakes flower/every hour"! We make them all the time. Some are the size of erasing a hole in your paper, mispronouncing a word, or tripping over your shoelace. Some are the size of telling a friend's secret. Some can be useful, like a science experiment that goes wrong but gives you a new idea. How can we make the most of the good mistakes and do our best to fix the ones that need fixing? Poetry can help us figure it out.

The details:

The anthology will look at mistakes from as many angles as possible, including (but not limited to) mistakes that result in discoveries/inventions, grammar and etiquette mishaps, historical and fictional blunders, funny/silly/embarrassing missteps, ways to make things right, and forgiveness.

Humor is good. Seriousness is also good. The primary interests are carefully-chosen words and generous, honest insight (although not everything needs to be deep, you know?).

Please submit blind entries (include your name, address, phone number, email address, and poem title on a separate page). A panel of readers, including teachers, will be evaluating the poems. Poems can be form or free verse. Multiple submissions by individuals are fine.

Simultaneous submissions are acceptable as long as they are identified and as long as you remember to withdraw it if it is accepted elsewhere. Reprints are fine as long as the author has the rights. Payment is one print copy and one electronic copy. Authors retain rights. Send poems (and questions) to mistakesanthology(at)

The deadline is November 1, 2017.


A Journey Through the Pages has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Kay!

Poetry on Paper

Poetry surrounds us everywhere, but putting it on paper is, alas, not so easy as looking at it.
~Vincent Van Gogh

Posting work by Vincent Van Gogh today. Basically, I wanted to spend time with "Undergrowth with Two Figures" and then I started adding on.

Undergrowth with Two Figures
by Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890)

Green Wheat Field with Cypress
by Vincent van Gogh

The White Cottage Among the Olive Trees
by Vincent van Gogh

by Vincent van Gogh

The Garden of Saint-Paul Hospital
by Vincent van Gogh

Almond blossom
by Vincent van Gogh

The Red Vineyard
by Vincent van Gogh

(I've featured Van Gogh before.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Memoir isn’t the summary of a life; it’s a window into a life, very much like a photograph in its selective composition. It may look like a casual and even random calling up of bygone events. It’s not; it’s a deliberate construction.
~William Zinsser

Hi folks! Like last week, this Wellness Wednesday post was inspired by a press release.

I was charmed by the summary for the film Spettacolo:
Once upon a time, villagers in a tiny hill town in Tuscany came up with a remarkable way to confront their issues: they turned their lives into a play. Every summer, their piazza became their stage and residents of all ages played a part – the role of themselves. Monticchiello’s annual tradition has attracted worldwide attention and kept the town together for 50 years, but with an aging population and a future generation more interested in Facebook than farming, the town’s 50th anniversary performance just might be its last. SPETTACOLO tells the story of Teatro Povero di Monticchiello, interweaving episodes from its past with its modern-day process as the villagers turn a series of devastating blows into a new play about the end of their world.
What's the link to Wellness Wednesday? It made me start thinking about memoirs. Maybe you'd be interested in writing a wee memoir about yourself or a friend or family member? It seems like it has the potential to be rewarding and therapeutic.

* Memoir prompts
* Reasons for writing memoirs
* Writing a flash memoir
* How to structure your memoir
* A memoir-writing workbook

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sharon Isbin and Berta Rojas

Let me explain something about guitar playing. Everyone’s got their own character, and that’s the thing that’s amazed me about guitar playing since the day I first picked it up. Everyone’s approach to what can come out of six strings is different from another person, but it’s all valid.
~Jimmy Page

Sharon Isbin and Berta Rojas for Music Monday:

Thursday, August 10, 2017

In my mailbox

To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.
~Phyllis Theroux

A poem wallet from Irene

I love pulling the mail out of the box and finding something exciting inside. This summer has provided a bounty of delights. (I'm not including everything that everyone sent because it's a lot of photos already and I want to give you a good look at poems.)

From Carol Varsalona:

From Buffy:

From Joy, who enjoys correspondence more than just about anyone I know:

From Michelle Kogan:

From Irene, who used a book as her springboard:

From Robyn, who used a map of my locale for her clever steampunk critter:

I also shared the poem I received from Iphigene earlier.
A bonus shout out to my friend Amanda who sent me a care package of some of her handmade soaps.

One last quote:

Alice Adams wrote a sweet note to me after my first novel came out when I was 26, and I was so blown away that I sent her a bunch of stamps by return mail. I have no idea what I was thinking. It was a star-struck impulse.
~Anne Lamott


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

Wassily Kandinsky

Lend your ears to music, open your eyes to painting, and... stop thinking! Just ask yourself whether the work has enabled you to 'walk about' into a hitherto unknown world. If the answer is yes, what more do you want?
~Wassily Kandinsky

Works by Wassily Kandinsky today. Kandinsky was a law professor who decided to leave the university and devote himself to art, a choice partially instigated by seeing an exhibit of French impressionists.

More Kandinsky quotes:
Each period of a civilisation creates an art that is specific in it and which we will never see reborn.
The more frightening the world becomes ... the more art becomes abstract.
Color is a power which directly influences the soul.

Wassily Kandinsky with Paul Klee in Guethary, France, 1929

by Wassily Kandinsky

In the Bright Oval
by Wassily Kandinsky

Above and left
by Wassily Kandinsky

Distinct Connection
by Wassily Kandinsky

Hommage to Grohmann
by Wassily Kandinsky

Merry Structure
by Wassily Kandinsky

Quiet Harmony
by Wassily Kandinsky

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Character Day

Fame is a vapor, popularity is an accident, riches take wings, those who cheer today may curse tomorrow and only one thing endures - character.
~Harry Truman

It might be fun for fiction writers and readers to have a "Character Day" where you dress up as your favorite character (does such a thing already exist?), but for Wellness Wednesday, we're talking about something a little different. I received a press release that explains:
There are 7.5 billion people on this planet, and each one of us has a unique character, determined and developed by genetics, our environment, and ultimately, ourselves. The fourth annual Character Day scheduled for Wednesday, September 13, 2017, presented by Emmy-nominated Film Studio Let It Ripple, will explore meaning, purpose and the science of character through a LiveCast Q&A with prominent global thought leaders like the Dali Lama, Krista Tippet, Al Gore, Angela Duckworth and more.

Character Day focuses on the idea that if you concentrate on certain parts of who you are, you can develop your character and ultimately lead a more meaningful, successful and happy life.

Spearheaded by Tiffany Shlain, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, thought leader and founder of The Webby Awards, Character Day highlights recent breakthroughs in the social science and neuroscience behind character development, and provides the tools (films, discussion kits, online resources), for free, for millions of people to engage and develop the character strengths needed to thrive in today’s world. ..You can sign up at

Character Day Trailer from The Moxie Institute on Vimeo.

Whatever you are physically...male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy--all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside.
~Cassandra Clare

A rather mysterious quote:
You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jellybeans.
~Ronald Reagan

Monday, August 7, 2017

Watch out for Lucy

The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself, too.
~Samuel Butler

We have a dog named Lucy who likes to go off with stuff and take it under the sofa, where she can eat it/chew on it to her heart's content. She's done that with lip balms, boiled eggs, donuts, pill bottles, shoes. If Lucy's backside is sticking out from under the sofa, it's a good idea to get down and see what she's got. Sometimes even just the way her collar is rattling will make me suspicious. Recently when my husband was away and he said he couldn't find tea that he thought I'd packed, I said, "Let me go look under the sofa." (It was there.)

This morning when I said, "Watch out for Lucy," this song started going through my head. There are no dogs in it, but plenty of trouble...

Eric Clapton

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A collection of words

Lexicographer: A writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge that busies himself in tracing the original, and detailing the signification of words.
~Samuel Johnson

Next week I'll share some poems from the summer swap, but in the meantime I have entries from Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language (1755). They're not poetry, but they are poetic, and they make me want to use them in poems. For instance, did you know that "anthology" once meant "a collection of flowers"?

Anthology. n.s. [ἀνθολογἰα, from ανθος, a flower, and λέγα, to gather.]
A collection of flowers.
A collection of devotions in the Greek church.
A collection of poems.


Daggersdrawing. n.s. [dagger and draw.]
The act of drawing daggers; approach to open violence.

They always are at daggersdrawing,
And one another clapperclawing.
Hudibras, p. ii. cant. 2.


Afterlove. n.s. [from after and love.]
The second or later love.

Intended, or committed, was this fault?
If but the first, how heinous ere it be,
To win thy after-love, I pardon thee.
Shakesp. Richard II.


Fopdoodle. n.s. [fop and doodle.]
A fool; an insignificant wretch.

Where sturdy butchers broke your noodle,
And handled you like a fopdoodle.
Hudibras, p. ii.


Camelopard. n.s. [from camelus and pardus, Lat.]
An Abyssinian animal, taller than an elephant, but not so thick. He is so named, because he has a neck and head like a camel; he is spotted like a pard, but his spots are white upon a red ground. The Italians call him giaraffa.


Grubstreet. n.s.
Originally the name of a street in Moorfields in London, much inhabited by writers of small histories, dictionaries, and temporary poems; whence any mean production is called grubstreet.
I'd sooner ballads write, and grubstreet lays.
John Gay.
[What's a temporary poem? I guess it must not have been very well-regarded...]


Blatteration. n.s. [blateratio, Lat.]
Noise; senseless roar.


Anybody want to make a sentence or poem with one in the comments? Mainely Write has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Donna!


Surprisingly, tourists are still something of a novelty in Zalipie, and are regarded with curiosity by locals, which is probably for the best.
~Sumitra, Oddity Central

Sharing scenes from the charming Polish town of Zalipie today for Art Thursday. (I thought this was the first time I featured a town, but there was that post about Paris... )

Zalipie - painted village, Poland
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland
Fot. Mariusz Cieszewski

Well in Zalipiu
photo by Ricardo77

Zalipie museum
photo by mksfca

Zalipie - painted village, Poland
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland
Fot. Mariusz Cieszewski

Painted House
photo by magro_kr

Polish illuminated cottage in Zalipie Małopolska
photo by Mathiasrex

Muzeobranie 2007
photo by mik Krakow

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

What we don't see

For good lieth not in pursuing,
Nor gaining of great nor of small;
But just in the doing—and doing
As we would be done by, is all.
~Alice Cary

A shout out today for being nice even when we are ignorant of a person's circumstances. This summer, my older daughter was diagnosed with a dysautonomic disorder which causes the blood to rush to her feet when she stands up. This makes her feel dizzy and makes her heart pound. Standing on her feet for long doesn't work well.

We went to a show the other day and, at the end, the performers were given a standing ovation. My daughter remained seated. Looking at her, you wouldn't know anything was wrong, and maybe it would make you annoyed that she wasn't getting up. Isn't it a nice idea, though, to give people the benefit of the doubt? Not to assume that we know everything that is going on with a person? I've said this before. (Don't worry, no one bothered her.)

She might get a temporary handicapped placard for the car, but she does worry how people will respond to seeing her get out. (She has two young friends with invisible illnesses who have gotten hassled when parking.) The people who would bother her would feel righteous about doing it -- what a weird world!

When you think about it, maybe there are more things that you can't see than those you can. I mean, you can see if someone has a service dog or is in a wheelchair, but you can't see migraines, lupus, diabetes, infertility, neurological diseases, digestive disorders, depression, heart conditions, allergies, anxiety, multiple sclerosis, Sjogren's, etc.

It can be hard to say the right thing since we don't know what is up with people. Years ago, a stranger told me that we needed to give my daughter a sibling, not realizing that I was utterly heartbroken about suffering a miscarriage the day before. We don't know, so the best we can do is try to be kind and try to let go as best we can when people say the wrong thing.

* But You Don't Look Sick? a blog with resources for people with invisible illnesses
* Self-care and chronic illness articles on The Mighty

Monday, July 31, 2017

Only one small caveat

(And she's got)
Animal Spirits
(And he's got)
Heartfelt lyrics
(Put them together)
And you can hear it --
It's a song everyone knows

Keeping it serious this Music Monday:


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Literarily Angsty

A dreaded sunny day
So I meet you at the cemetry gates
Keats and Yeats are on your side
~The Smiths

Yup, I'm just sharing this song today by The Smiths because he mentions Keats and Yeats and Oscar Wilde (whom I quoted on Wednesday, small world) and (obliquely) Cyrano deBergerac.

If you must write prose and poems
The words you use should be your own
Don't plagiarise or take on loan

An instrumental version:


A Word Edgewise has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Linda!

Addendum: Michelle is sharing the ekphrastic golden shovel swap poem I wrote for her, plus her response poem. (Last week, Brenda shared the Narnia swap poem I wrote for her.)

Check these bags

I want to travel on a train that smells like snowflakes. I want to sip in cafes that smell like comets. Under the pressure of my step, I want the streets to emit the precise odor of a diamond necklace. I want the newspapers I read to smell like the violins left in pawnshops by weeping hobos on Christmas Eve. I want to carry luggage that reeks of the neurons in Einstein's brain.
~Tom Robbins

In honor of vacations, luggage for Art Thursday.

Lost Luggage
by Mr. Gray

A visit to the NYS Museum of Transportation
photo by Norm Wright

The Traveler, Spain
photo by Astur

At Baggage Claim in Indianapolis Airport
photo by lamccain71

butter cow
photo by wasim muklashy

On the road
photo by Kate Ter Haar

I remember that platform bell
photo by Derek Finch

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


It is a great mistake for men to give up paying compliments, for when they give up saying what is charming, they give up thinking what is charming.
~Oscar Wilde

Thinking about compliments this Wellness Wednesday. My daughters had a music teacher who would only give praise when the people he was complimenting were not present. He would brag about something they had done (to people who didn't necessarily want to hear it), but in person, not so much. This fellow did not have the hang of how to give compliments.

We may be better at it than the above-mentioned teacher, but compliments can still be tricky to navigate. I find that many of us take criticisms to heart much more than we savor compliments. There's work to be done!

* An article about the giving and accepting of compliments
* How to give and receive compliments assertively
* Teach students to give and receive compliments
* More compliments (an old post of mine)

Geez, I know I say this all the time, but tissue alert!

One last German proverb:
What flatterers say, try to make true.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Don't let the devil lay a finger on you, baby

“You might, from your appearance, be the wife of Lucifer,” said Miss Pross, in her breathing. “Nevertheless, you shall not get the better of me. I am an Englishwoman.”
~Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

A number of songs have conversations with the Devil (or appearances by him). For Music Monday:

Now here's a story you might not have heard (unless you're my dad)... blues guitarist Robert Johnson was said to have sold his soul to the Devil at a crossroads at midnight in exchange for his musical genius. Read about the legend here.

A post featuring blues as poetry (for Father's Day)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Current events in poetry

The poet doesn't invent. He listens.
~Jean Cocteau

In case you were wondering where you could find poems about today's happenings, here are two:

Limericking (on Twitter)

Rattle response poems to current events

Friday, July 21, 2017

Swap poems

Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.
~D.W. Winnicott

Iphigene and I sent each other poems for the first swap. I think they are sort of a conversation in themselves, even though we wrote them at the same time.

Iphigene explained that her poem for me was inspired by a book she was reading called The Lonely City by Olivia Liang, which explores the idea of loneliness through different artists.

She says, "While the poem may be a bit sad, I thought, since you had a blog that explored art, this would perfectly fit...I hope the poem is able to deliver, more than the idea of the lonely, but the way art connects the lonely with each other, hence in a way building this sort of invisible community." Iphigene also sent me an excellent drawing of hers to go with it:

The Lonely
By iphigene
(for tabatha)

Loneliness clings to souls
Like skin to bone

They are the lonely:
Bodies with big black
Voids digging into their bellies

There is no fire in them----
Only a chill, an eternal winter
Gnawing at their backs
seeping through their veins
Reminding them
They are the lonely.

Hopper, Warhol
Darger ---artists
Born with loneliness
Clinging to their souls---
Never to be erased
By crowds and art

Only to be eased,
Eased by the swelling
Depths of their voids
Into canvases, photographs
And prints

Eased by the birthing
Of their loneliness---
To be seen and felt
By those who walk with
big black voids
in their bellies
To stare into themselves
To recognize

That among the bodies
In a crowded city, in the midst
Of laughter and camaraderie
Are the lonely: just like
Them, just like me

Souls with loneliness
Clinging like skin
To their bones.


My poem for Iphigene was inspired by a poem by L.L. Barkat. I’ll include it first:

Let's make walls like this,
you and I.
Not the kind that stand between us,
but the textured kind you might
run your fingers over
to find its heart. And a wall like this
would have a heart,
in case you were wondering.
Because we’d be painting our colors into it,
and it would look like sweet meyer lemon, aqua sky,
grass green (the kind you see in spring) —
and, love.

Here’s the poem for Iphigene:

Let's make scars
by Tabatha Yeatts

Let's make scars like this,
you and I.
Not the kind that
prove the wound stung,
but ones are smooth pink witnesses
to the healing, to the
sealing of the raw cut. No swollen
red streaks scalding the edges,
a scar like ours would mark recovery
that can withstand a poke or prod,
a sleek track that holds fast,
and signifies stories, survival,
and strength.


Katie at The Logonauts is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Katie!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Swedish Embroidery

From the manner in which a woman draws her thread at every stitch of her needlework, any other woman can surmise her thoughts.
~Honore de Balzac

Swedish embroidery this Art Thursday, primarily by Karin Derland.

Swedish Embroidery
by Karin Derland
photo courtesy Bengt Nyman

Swedish Embroidery
by Karin Derland

Swedish Embroidery
by Karin Derland

Swedish Embroidery
by Karin Derland

Julmarknad Galleri

Christmas Market

Huck embroidery
by Victoria Pickering

coif embroidery
by Lia de Thornegge