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

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?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Orpheus with his lute (and Vivaldi with his)

Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain tops that freeze,
Bow themselves when he did sing

Ethereal lute music today. Vivaldi's Lute Concerto in D:

Orpheus with his lute, sung by Olivia Manna, words by Wm. Shakespeare, music by Wm. Schuman:

Friday, May 12, 2017

Advice Songs

We're not just gathered here on a lovely May day in an ordinary auditorium at SF state. We're all strapped in, seated together on a gigantic ball whirling around the sun at 67,000 miles per hour, nested in a galaxy hurtling through the depths of space and time at 1.3 million miles per hour.
~Kirk Schneider

Hurtling through space

I'm featuring lyrics for Poetry Fridays during the month of May. This week, since my oldest baby is graduating from college, the spotlight is on advice songs. Last year, when her younger brother graduated from high school, I shared Humble and Kind. (When you get where you're goin' / Don't forget turn back around / Help the next one in line / Always stay humble and kind)

When you're chewing on life's gristle / Don't grumble, give a whistle
Eric Idle: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
(This video from a talk show made me laugh until I cried. I'll admit that I am easily amused.)

You don't need it / So don't eat it
The Cramps: Don't eat stuff off the sidewalk
(With a name like that, it sounds like they are speaking from experience...)

Don't ski naked down Mt. Everest / With lilies up your nose
The Monochrome Set: Ten Don'ts For Honeymooners

Good advice costs nothing, and it's worth the price. /
I sincerely doubt / That the world could do without /
My good advice.

Allan Sherman: Good Advice

When the dog bites / When the bee stings / When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things / And then I don't feel so bad

Julie Andrews: My Favorite Things (Here's Mary J. Blige, who does a great job covering it.)

This isn't exactly an advice song, but "Be kind to me, or treat me mean -- I'll make the most of it, I'm an extraordinary machine" sounds like something to aspire to.
Fiona Apple: Extraordinary Machine

I've never gotten taller making someone else feel small /
If you ain't got nothing nice to say, don't say nothing at all

Kacey Musgraves: Biscuits

Today is where your book begins / The rest is still unwritten
Natasha Bedingfield: Unwritten

Okay, there's nothing interesting about these lyrics, but I like the sentiment of the song:
Kygo ft. Ella Henderson: Here for You

Halestorm: Dear Daughter


What are your favorite advice songs? I know there were plenty I didn't have time or space to include ("I hope you dance," anyone?).

Tara at A Teaching Life has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Tara!

Thursday, May 11, 2017


True strength is delicate.
~ Louise Berliawsky Nevelson

Another in my new series harking back to posts from the Art Thursday archives! This is from five years ago. I thought cairns would be a nice thing to revisit for their beauty and meditative qualities.

Two cairns by Patrick aka the Buddha Collector, Rotterdam, New York

Aviemore Cairn

Cairns Series LX
by Hammer and Coil

Cairn in Ireland
photo by Chad K

from Andy Goldsworthy's Three Cairns
Photo by Phil Walsh

Fungal Rock Balance
by Mark Kelly

Moncrieffe Island, Perth, Scotland
by Murray Barnes


Helpful notes on building a cairn
The Art of Rock Balancing
Professional rock stackers

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Quote Journal

No quotes needed up here today.

Today for Wellness Wednesday, we're thinking about keeping quote journals. Do you already save quotes or poems that have special meaning for you? Words that you might find solace in, or just thoughts that you want to return to? I started keeping quotes in high school. I still have my first pocket journal around somewhere, and I still remember some of the quotes I chose back then. Here are a few that I've saved more recently:

A book is a heart that only beats in the chest of another.
~Rebecca Solnit

Spring has returned.
The Earth is like a child that knows poems.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

Ontologically, chocolate raises profoundly disturbing questions: Does not chocolate offer natural revelation of the goodness of the Creator just as chilies disclose a divine sense of humor? Is the human born with an innate longing for chocolate? Does the notion of chocolate preclude the concept of free will?
~David Augsburger

Because you were born into this particular era doesn’t mean it has to be the limit of your experience. Move about in time, go places. Why restrict your circle of acquaintances to only those who occupy the same stage we call the present?
~David McCullough

Our culture is deeply invested in the concepts of inspiration, having big dreams, innate talent, and luck. These four concepts have one thing in common: they require no work. Success in any field requires work. The arts require hours, days, years...
~Julianna Baggott

You can be way more creative in a kids’ book. Kids take whatever you tell them as ground-zero. I could say to a kid: “Once upon a time there was a world made entirely out of kites. The people were kites, the trees were kites, and all of the buildings and rivers and mountains were kites too.”

And a kid would be like, “Yes. And then what happened?” No hesitation. That’s priceless.
-Marcus Ewert

Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people.
~Henry Miller

An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.
~G.K. Chesterton

English bacteriologist Amalia Fleming spent years working on a problem.
When asked why she refused to quit, she answered, "There is an end even to failures." She did finally figure it out.

Pollinating the Stars by Elena Y

Some resources:
* Free Printable Journal pages
* Wikiquote
* Quote Investigator
* Me, being a little cranky about misattributed quotes (Full disclosure: I don't always check to make sure either. I try to think for a minute about whether it sounds like something the person would say, and if I am hesitant, I look it up.)
* Inspiring Quotes for Art Journaling

Monday, May 8, 2017

Favorite concerts

The best gift I was ever given was the arts.
~Jill Scott

Did y'all see that thing that was going around Facebook about naming concerts you'd seen? I didn't do it, but it did make me reminisce about my favorites.

One was Sweet Honey in the Rock, so in honor of that and the fact that "In the Morning When I Rise" could wake you up this Monday:

Another favorite was Alison Krauss, who I saw in Atlanta:

This is fast! If you weren't awake before, this should do it.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Lyrics, I

Those in power write the history, while those who suffer write the songs.
~Frank Harte

Sharing lyrics-as-poetry on Fridays during the month of May.

In the first 1:50, Utah Phillips explains where he got the idea for The Miner's Lullaby:

The Miner's Lullaby
by Utah Phillips

Once, long ago, he was handsome and tall
And fit to be called to the war
We left our village, family and all
To never return any more

Now he takes his coat, bucket and lamp
And whistles away to the cage
Where men young and old from all over the camp
Gather in search of a wage

Husband, sleep, lay your head back and dream
A slow fallen leaf borne down to the stream
Then carried away on the wings of morphine
Homeward far over the sea

My husband and I are Roman in faith
And we have a secret to keep
If ever his life is taken away
Then gentle and long will he sleep

Now some men pass with family around
And linens and blankets so clean
But seldom a miner goes underground
Without his tin of morphine


But now here's a word, an explosion is heard
The miners are trapped far below
If any survived down there alive
I'm certain we never will know

Although our families have vainly appealed
No rescue attempt can be seen
Our hope for loved ones in the dark earth sealed
Now lies in a tin of morphine

My daughter Ariana is an amazing resource for this project, and she told me about the second song I'm sharing today by Robby Hecht:


Of course, I should mention Bob Dylan, the winner of a Nobel Prize for literature. Here are two of my favorites: You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (I love singing along, particularly with "You're gonna make me give myself a good talking-to!") and Don't Think Twice (It's Alright) (also good to sing with). I love Shawn Colvin's cover of the first one. (She is also a good songwriter, e.g. Shotgun Down the Avalanche. And she makes me think of another excellent lyricist: Suzanne Vega, who wrote Gypsy, which I still love. This is certainly leading me down a winding path!)


Yesterday, I shared some of my parents' art for Art Thursday :-)

A whole passel of people told me they want to do the Summer Poetry Swap and I will be contacting them soon. If you haven't emailed me about it, doooo it!

Jama's Alphabet Soup has the Poetry Friday round-up today. Thanks, Jama!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Mom-and-Pop Operation

We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us.
~Bergen Evans

Happy Art Thursday! I had an "a-ha" moment this week about upcoming Art Thursday posts. I realized that, having done over 450 of them, I had a huge archive that I could raid to share with you. I mean, I can't remember what all I've posted, so I know that you can't. So that which is old will be new again, and maybe it will give me a little more time for writing. Win-win? Hope so.

First up -- art by my parents!

River View through the Arches
by Catherine Wingfield-Yeatts

Fantasy Roller Bird
by Catherine Wingfield-Yeatts

Sweet Smell of Spring
by Catherine Wingfield-Yeatts


Light In A Cage
By Harry W. Yeatts, Jr.

Through the Keyhole #1
by Harry W. Yeatts Jr.

Bee Footprints
by Harry W. Yeatts, Jr.

Blind Fiddler's Eye
by Harry Yeatts, Jr.

More old posts:
A poem for my mom
A book for my dad

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Fur babies

“I've always had this feeling," Henry says, "that all dogs are really therapy dogs.”
~Meg Donohue

photo by Christi Gain

For Wellness Wednesday, we're spending time with animals. I almost feel like I could just give you the link to We Rate Dogs and call it a day. They offer a heaping helping of blood-pressure-lowering adorableness.

Ways to hang out with animals if you can't actually own one (or if you do but you still want more animal-time) include volunteering at a shelter or a wild animal rescue, fostering a pet, helping raise a seeing eye dog, being a dog walker or sitter, visiting a zoo or nature center, or just going on a walk.

Alternatively, you could just enjoy some animal videos and photos. This video is called "Reasons you should have a cat," but they also could have called it "Do you want a small friend to take on dogs, bears, and possibly trash your house?"

10 Popular Small Pets (info to help you decide, if you are in the market for a pet)

photo by Gary Lin

Addendum: Man buys robotic cat as gift for his mother who has dementia

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Honoring the deepest sources of our national strength

The nation which disdains the mission of art invites the fate of Robert Frost's hired man, the fate of having nothing to look backward to with pride and nothing to look forward to with hope. ~John F. Kennedy

Hearing a president be articulate, knowledgeable, and thoughtful made me feel a bit weepy, but if you can stand the contrast with our current condition, check it out: is hardly an accident that Robert Frost coupled poetry and power, for he saw poetry as the means of saving power from itself. When power leads men towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truth which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.

Monday, May 1, 2017


When you're young, all evolution lies before you, every road is open to you, and at the same time you can enjoy the fact of being there on the rock, flat mollusk-pulp, damp and happy.
~Italo Calvino

Last week, I went to Elena's school orchestra concert. One of the highlights was when they played a composition written by a member of the orchestra. Camilo's piece was inspired by "The Distance of the Moon," a dreamy story by Italo Calvino about a love triangle. (Read about the story here). I don't have a video of the performance to share, but thinking about it made me look up young composers for today. In my research, I liked Judd Greenstein's work in particular. There was something playful about it that made me seek out repeat listenings.

One more quote from Italo Calvino:

...we contemplated the stars beyond the Moon, big as pieces of fruit, made of light, ripened on the curved branches of the sky, and everything exceeded my most luminous hopes, and yet, and yet, it was, instead, exile.
~Italo Calvino