Monday, February 27, 2017

Sleepless Night

I am grateful to those who are keepers of the groove. The babies and the grandmas who hang on to it and help us remember when we forget that any kind of dancing is better than no dancing at all.
~Lynda Barry

I posted art by Ben Heine several years ago. Happy to bring music from him to the blog today:

Thursday, February 23, 2017


If this poem had wires
coming out of it,
you would not read it.
~Kevin Powers

This week I've been reading Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting by Iraq veteran Kevin Powers.

Here's an excerpt of "Separation":

by Kevin Powers

I want the boys at the end of the bar
to know, these Young Republicans
in pink popped collar shirts, to know
that laughter drives me mad
and if one must be old
before one dies, then we were
old. Nineteen or twenty-three
and we were old and now...

read the rest here.

A previous post on soldier-poets.


Karen Edmisten is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Karen!

Addendum: I was reminded of a wee post from January, where I talked about not knowing what was going on with someone just from looking at them. If we could operate from a place of compassion, prioritizing one another's health (including mental), that could change the world.

A Quiet Moment

In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence.
~Robert Lynd

Felt like doing some bird watching this week :-)

On the Feeder
photo by Alan Levine

Two Rainbow Lorikeets, Australia
photo by Robyn Jay

by Łukasz Hejnak

Melanerpes formicivorus, Acorn Woodpecker
photo by Tim Lenz

At the Bird Feeder
photo by Macomb Paynes

photo by James Albright

photo by likeaduck

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How to...

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
~J.R.R. Tolkien

Thinking about what we do with our time today with a poem by Matt Haig:

I might add...

How to feel connected to time: visits with elders or children

I tried to settle on something for "how to savor time," but there were too many options ("a cup of tea" and "gratitude" being some of my favorites). Do you have any to add?

Monday, February 20, 2017


[Passion Week] was composed in St Petersburg during the turbulent years of the Bolshevik Revolution and Russian Civil War, in an environment where repression against the Church was already being felt, and arrests of nobility, clergy, artists, intellectuals, as well as ordinary believers, were commonplace: Steinberg’s own brother-in-law, Vladimir Rimsky-Korsakov, a professional violist, was arrested. Shortly after the work was completed, the performance of all sacred music was banned by the Bolshevik cultural commissars. On December 12, 1923, Steinberg made the following entry in his diary: ‘Today I learned from Klimov that all sacred music has been banned, with exception of two classic works. That means there is no hope of hearing Passion Week…'

You can vote now in the BBC Classical Music Awards (voting is open until the 24th). I enjoyed listening to the nominees, all top-notch. I was struck by Maximilian Steinberg's Passion Week, performed by The Clarion Choir with conductor Steven Fox.

From the BBC site about Passion Week: Written for the Russian Orthodox Church in the early 1920s by Shostakovich’s composition teacher Maximilian Steinberg, this profoundly beautiful choral piece lay forgotten for over 90 years.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sweet dreams of warmth and light

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show.
~Andrew Wyeth

Two seasonal (for my part of the world) poems today, plus a bonus.

Mockingbird by Carolyn

excerpt from Lament of a Mocking-Bird
by Frances Anne Kemble

What didst thou sing of, O thou wingëd voice?
Dark, bronze-leaved oaks, with silver mosses crowned,
Where thy free kindred live, love, and rejoice,
With wreaths of golden jasmine curtained round.

These didst thou sing of, spirit of delight!
From thy own radiant sky, thou quivering spark!
These thy sweet southern dreams of warmth and light,
Through the grim northern winter drear and dark.


The Wind, the Sun And the Moon
by Anne Stevenson

For weeks the wind has been talking to us,
Swearing, imploring, singing like a person.
Not a person, more the noise a being might make
Searching for a body and a name. The sun
In its polished aurora rises late, then dazzles
Our eyes and days, pacing a bronze horizon
To a mauve bed in the sea. Light kindles the hills,
Though in the long shadow of Moelfre
Winter won't unshackle the dead house by the marsh.

Putting these words on paper after sunset
Alters the length and asperity of night.
By the fire, when the wind pauses, little is said.
Every phrase we unfold stands upright. Outside,
The visible cold, the therapy of moonlight.


Here's a bonus (non-seasonal) poem by Anne Stevenson:

On Going Deaf

I've lost a sense. Why should I care?
Searching myself, I find a spare.
I keep that sixth sense in repair,
And set it deftly, like a snare.


Check It Out has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Jone!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Seaweed Art

A beach is not only a sweep of sand, but shells of sea creatures, the sea glass, the seaweed, the incongruous objects washed up by the ocean.
~Henry Grunwald

Sharing works by AlgaNet, a French-Spanish seaweed artist, today, plus a painting of a seaweed harvester:

Pressed seaweed art in red

Pressed kelp seaweed art

Blue sea fan art

Natural seaweed collage

Ocean flowers

A Moliceira (The Seaweed Harvester)
by António Carvalho de Silva Porto (1850 - 1893)

Monday, February 13, 2017

In the Car

He who sings frightens away his ills.
~Miguel de Cervantes

I've posted songs I've sung in the car before (here and here, for instance). I've got some more for Music Monday:

Barry Tuckwell playing Richard Strauss:

Brett Young:

Friday, February 10, 2017

So I'll fight the dragons 'til you can

He wanted the songs, the stories, to save everybody.
~Sherman Alexie

Three songs today...the first one is from a poem by Dana Gioia (I shared it a while back).

The second song is from a musical based on a novel. I haven't seen Big Fish, but I heard Aaron Tveit sing this song (brought a tear to my eye!). I think Poetry Fridayers will appreciate the desire to bring your stories to someone else.

Lastly, we have the Eric Whitacre Singers performing an ee cummings poem. (Yes, I'm fangirling Eric Whitacre again!)

I Will Wade Out
by ee cummings

i will wade out
            till my thighs are steeped in burning flowers
I will take the sun in my mouth
and leap into the ripe air
                with closed eyes
to dash against darkness... the rest here

Some of y'all will be into the song about homemade canned food I shared for Music Monday.

You can find the Poetry Friday round-up at The Logonauts. Thanks, Katie!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Olga in Ukraine

This landscape is animate: it moves, transposes, builds, proceeds, shifts, always going on, never coming back, and one can only retain it in vignettes, impressions caught in a flash...
~Ann Zwinger

Felted landscapes on brooches by a Ukrainian artist:

Htsvetuschih hills and trees
by Olga

White-flowered landscape
by Olga

by Olga


Purple flowers
by Olga

Yellow flowers
by Olga

Felt Art tutorials

One last quote. This one's about plain unfelted wool:

My mother told me once that she had her talk with God whenever she started a new sweater: 'Please don't take me in the middle of the sweater.' And as soon as she finished knitting a sweater, and it was blocked and put together, she already had the wool to start the next sweater so that nothing bad would happen.
~Judy Blume

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Bad dreams

The sigh of all the seas breaking in measure round the isles soothed them; the night wrapped them; nothing broke their sleep, until, the birds beginning and the dawn weaving their thin voices in to its whiteness.
~Virginia Woolf

I had thought about talking about sleep for Wellness Wednesday, but I am actually typing this after having only been asleep for an hour and a half. I woke up violently, dreaming that politics was about to literally make me throw up (I wish I were kidding!). So clearly, I am not ready to talk about how to get a good night's sleep. Maybe a better topic would be how to calm yourself down after a bad dream or anything that makes you need calming down.

Of course, staying away from the computer is a good idea. I've been reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and I should probably be cuddled up with that right now instead of here. The irony of me wanting to write about sleep was too great to ignore, however. Here's what I'm using (but not the whole thing! I need to go back to bed :-) ):

I'm not sure this next one would work if you actually play piano because you would probably be too distracted by his technique etc., but I find this view mesmerizingly soothing:

Monday, February 6, 2017

Taste a little of the summer

Ah, she's got magic in her - you know what I mean
She puts the sun and rain in with her green beans.
~Greg Brown

Some charming thoughts about eating canned food in winter from Greg Brown:

Saturday, February 4, 2017


Corrupt politicians make the other ten percent look bad.
~Henry Kissinger

people protesting in Romania, from Bucharest Life

Thinking about Romania and hoping the decriminalization of corruption is repealed.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Playing in the Square

Beauty is not who you are on the outside, it is the wisdom and time you gave away to save another struggling soul like you.
~Shannon L. Alder

Hubble Watches Super Star Create Holiday Light Show, NASA

How can we save ourselves and each other? Among the many ways we can find (and soothe) our best selves are poetry, music, and all the arts.

"Playing in the Square" was originally published in the Infoxicated Corner Spotlight Series at TheThe Poetry and is being reposted with permission of the author. Thanks, Chen!

Playing in the Square
by Chen Chen

It could happen like this: we rush out of the station,
late for work, & find a small band playing in the square.
Been playing in the square all morning! they shout to us.
& with winsome smiles, urge us to join in, handing us
instruments. & somehow, we’re taking them—
an accordion for you, a fiddle for me.

& more people stream out of the station.
Been playing in the square all afternoon! we shout to them.
& with kind mischief in our smiles, call them
to join in, rolling out more instruments. & somehow,
an old woman with beautiful fingers takes up a clarinet,
a sad-eyed boy becomes our fourth bassist.

& people pour out. Been playing in the square
all evening! & we have instruments
ready. & we begin to spill, the square
stretching strange as an octopus. & the children vote
in favor of dancing, & dance. & somehow,
a stray bulldog becomes our main percussionist.

& doctors treat people without charge.
& mothers laugh with their sons.
& neighbors argue with passion, but no one goes hungry.
& some even fall dreadfully in love. We’re playing
in the square all night!
& the night joins in,

the moon in its borrowed suit of gleam,
the stars & planets finding their spots
a bit clumsily, foolishly—
they each take up their ancient instruments
& spin their amateur bodies, somehow remembering
the music, the movement.


Another Chen Chen favorite of mine is "The Professor of Russian Studies."

Penny Parker Klosterman has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Penny!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Strange cats (and others)

You will always be lucky if you know how to make friends with strange cats.

Art from the Netherlands today. Thanks, Tetiana!

by TetianaArt

by TetianaArt

Cats and fish
by TetianaArt

by TetianaArt

Flower Cat
by TetianaArt

by TetianaArt

Tomcat with parrots
by TetianaArt

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Headaches were like birds. Starlings. They could be perfectly calm, then a single acorn could drop and send the entire flock to the sky.
~Erika Swyler

Taking a moment to talk about headaches for Wellness Wednesday.

What kinds of headaches do you have? If you get headaches, you've probably tried a lot of remedies already, but I'll go over a few things that I've found helpful. Headaches can be debilitating. I never had migraines, but five or so years ago, I would take tylenol or aspirin fairly often for headaches and other pains. These days, our aspirin and tylenol expire, unused. I don't need painkillers much, and when I do, I have other options. What works for one person (or on one occasion) might not work on another, so it can be useful to have a variety of things to experiment with.

Putting warmed up heating packs on their head and/or neck has been popular among my family and friends. You can make your own heating pack, by the way. This is one I made:

proud of this because it hasn't fallen apart

I have heard of filling socks with rice and sewing or tying the end. If cold helps your headaches more than warmth does, go for a cold pack! For some people, it is helpful to have a cold pack on your head and a hot pack at your feet.

Caffeine makes some people feel worse, but I have a family member who does best with strongly-caffeinated tea at the onset of a headache.

When I have a tension headache, I often turn to lavender. Taking several deep breaths of an open lavender essential oil bottle often takes the edge off. Other lavender options are tea and Calm Aid. (Peppermint tea or oil can also be good.)

Another stress/tension headache helper that I find useful is lemon balm.

One more thing to check out is IbuActin. This helps me with aches and pains. Your mileage may vary!

Some people swear by magnesium.

Here's what The Mayo Clinic has to say about migraines.

Massage can help!

Recently my younger daughter had a headache that I thought was a stress/exhaustion headache, but was actually due to having put dirty contact lenses in her eyes. That calls for a whole different response! (I gave her immune system supporters, which did the trick, thank goodness.)

If your headache is due to illness, you'll need to deal with it differently, but no matter what kind of headache you have, try to keep hydrated, get enough sleep, and eat nourishing foods (like stocks, for instance).

What's worked for you? Let us know!

P.S. Just got a coupon for a headache-relieving tea from a favorite tea company. Use "FEVERFEW10" for 10% off (not sure how long it will last).