Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Hurricane Harvey

A hurricane is an impermanent, ever-changing phenomenon arising out of a particular set of interacting conditions - air pressure, ground temperature, humidity, wind and so on. The same applies to us: we aren't self-contained units either. Like weather patterns, we are also an impermanent, ever-changing phenomenon arising out of a particular set of interacting conditions.
~Kristin Neff

I'm giving myself permission to not post through September 8th because things are pretty hectic here, but I wanted to pop in to share 14 Instances of Every Day People Being Heroes in Houston After Hurricane Harvey Strikes

Here Are Ways You Can Help People During Hurricane Harvey
Donate to Team Rubicon's Hurricane Harvey response
Donate to Herbal Medic Hurricane Harvey medical and community response

Thank you for the reminder, Linda M.! Here's the link for KidLit Cares's Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort and here's the mistakes anthology call for submissions.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A bonus song

Everything I know, I know because of love.
~Leo Tolstoy

This song has been going through my head. I think it's because we've been watching War and Peace.

(Honestly, I don't know why anybody gets mixed up with Hélène Kuragina...)

Marie Digby
Chris Isaak

Jumping off a rope swing

You gotta love like there's no such thing as a broken heart
-Old Dominion

A band named after my home state (Virginia) today:

Old Dominion

Friday, August 25, 2017

Unpicking silence's voices

The Scottish sun, shocked by having its usual cloudy underpinnings stripped away, shone feverishly, embarrassed by its nakedness.
~Stuart Haddon

Although I didn't understand all the words in Anna Crowe's poem about longing for her Scottish home (e.g. "burn" refers to a "small stream; a brook"), I loved it immediately:

I have lost my bearings
by Anna Crowe

A fox barks and the door creaks
as though the wood
remembered the tree it once was.

I write this at a kitchen table
in the city, a plane passing
every minute, day and night.

It is time to go north. I want
to listen to silence and unpick its voices:
the wind that surges through pines...

read the rest here


Ms. Crowe also translates poems. One poem I will remember is a translation of Joan Margarit's Professor Bonaventura Bassegoda -- I wish I could link to it, but you will need to go to Tugs in the Fog to see it. That whole page is worth exploring. (The ending of A Secret History of Rhubarb is also a favorite...there are many to be had.)


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

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens

[Most other mosaic work I've seen] might tell a story, but it’s a story that you already knew. Isaiah’s work tells you a story you didn’t know.
~Rick Snyderman

I heard about Philadelphia's Magic Gardens from my son, who saw them last week and thought they were fantastic.

From the PMG site:
Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG) is a nonprofit art museum and gallery space located in Isaiah Zagar’s visionary art environment at 1020 South Street.

Spanning half a block, the museum includes an immersive outdoor art installation and indoor galleries. Zagar created the space using nontraditional materials such as folk art statues, found objects, bicycle wheels, colorful glass bottles, hand-made tiles, and thousands of glittering mirrors. The site is enveloped in visual anecdotes and personal narratives that refer to Zagar’s life, family, and community, as well as references from the wider world such as influential art history figures and other visionary artists and environments...

Zagar has devoted himself to beautifying the South Street neighborhood since the late 1960s, when he moved to the area with his wife, Julia. The couple helped spur the revitalization of the area by renovating derelict buildings and adding colorful mosaics on both private and public walls...

In 1994, Zagar started working on the vacant lots located near his studio at 1020 South Street. He first constructed a massive fence to protect the area then spent years sculpting multi-layer walls out of found objects. In 2002, the Boston-based owner of the lots discovered Zagar’s installation and decided to sell the land, calling for the work to be dismantled. Unwilling to witness the destruction of the now-beloved neighborhood art environment, the community rushed to support the artist.
Have a look:

Philadelphia Magic Gardens
photo by angela n.

Magic in Mosaic
photo by Vandan Desai

magic garden uplook
photo by schizoform

Philadelphia Magic Gardens
photo by angela n.

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
photo by Alison

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens
photo by Peter Miller

Magic Garden
photo by Thom Watson

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

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