Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Spending every dime
For a wonderful time

If you'd asked me fifteen minutes ago whether "Puttin' on the Ritz" was a good Halloween song, I would have said no. But now that I've seen this?

Monday, October 30, 2017


Down by the river by the boats
Where everybody goes to be alone
Where you won't see any rising sun
Down to the river we will run
~Agnes Obel

These aren't Halloween songs per se, but they sound appropriate for the season to me... Agnes Obel:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Filling and being filled

Life is painful. It has thorns, like the stem of a rose. Culture and art are the roses that bloom on the stem. The flower is yourself, your humanity. Art is the liberation of the humanity inside yourself.
~Daisaku Ikeda

I shared a Buddhist concept on Wellness Wednesday ("mudita") and I've got poems from Buddhist Poetry Review today.

excerpt from Zen Thoughts
by Diana Raab

Good poems, like good fiction, need a problem
solved, but on some days the jar is replete
with problems in the midst of sleeping answers.


photo by Kevin Harber

Kitchen Meditation
by Darrell Petska

My philodendron is a calculated thinker
appraising each facet of sunlight.
In a clay pot's darkness richly moist
it knows deep intimacies.

read the rest here


In the evening the two of us
by Rick Kempa

In the evening the two of us
kneel before the water-hole
in the creekbed below camp,

filling our bottles. The vault
of the sky opens and down

read the rest here


I was open like a bear trap
by Meredith Maltby

I scratched underneath

my chin and felt

a whole bed

right underneath
the jaw

read the rest here (scroll down)


Friendly Fairy Tales has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Brenda!

Last call!

Updated to add: Also, don't forget to sign up for the Winter Poem Swap!

Maneki Neko

It's bad luck not to believe in luck.
~R.J. Lawrence

Do you recognize these cats? I often see them in local restaurants.

Maneki Nekos
photo by Mitsy Mcgoo

Known as Maneki-neko ("beckoning cats"), these sculptures originating in Japan are thought to bring good luck. The earliest mentions/depictions of maneki-neko date from 1852. Their origin story is unclear, but one popular folktale involves a poor shop owner feeding a starving cat, whereupon the grateful cat sits outside and beckons people to come in, bringing customers to the kind owner.

Joruri-machi Hanka no zu
by Utagawa Hiroshige, 1852

Hong Kong - Lucky cat
photo by Stef Lewandowski

by p82 of UTI Crew
photo by Chris Christian

A wooden mold for a Maneki-Neko and Okiagari-Koboshi Daruma figure from the Edo Period, 18th century
Brooklyn Museum

Maneki-Neko - Temple Gotokuji, Tokyo
photo by S.

photo by Annie Guilloret

Maneki Neko at SFO
photo by Patty

Maneki Nekos
photo by Valeri-DBF

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Empathetic Joy

photo by melted plastic

I worked on blog posts backwards this week, and I did Art Thursday first. It's about Japanese beckoning cat statues, meant to bring good fortune to their owners. Reading quotes about "good fortune" sent me down this Wellness Wednesday path, thinking about feeling fortunate, really experiencing and savoring it, whether the experience comes from your own good fortune or others'.
I implore you to see the universe as a warm and supportive one because you'll look for evidence to support this view. When you anticipate that the universe is friendly, you see friendly people. You look for circumstances to work in your favor. You anticipate good fortune flowing into your life.
~Wayne Dyer

Our friend, Timothy J. Russert, was a man who awoke every morning as if he had just won the lottery the day before. He was determined to take full advantage of his good fortune that he couldn't quite believe and share it with everyone around him.
~Tom Brokaw

Henceforth I ask not good fortune. I myself am good fortune.
~Walt Whitman

If you are feeling similarly overwhelmed by how affected you are by the emotions of others, I’d like to offer another possibility for preserving your well-being: Double down on your capacity for empathy. Instead of trying to become immune to other people’s stress, increase your susceptibility to catch other people’s joy.
-Kelly McGonigal

In Buddhist psychology, empathic joy is considered one of the four brahmavihāras (sublime attitudes), alongside equanimity, loving kindness, and compassion. Like other mindsets, empathic joy can be deliberately trained as a way to deepen your wisdom and well-being. With practice, you can strengthen your capacity to notice, resonate with, and celebrate the happiness of others.
-Kelly McGonigal

Rejoicing in the good fortune of others is a practice that can help us when we feel emotionally shut down and unable to connect with others. Rejoicing generates good will.
~Pema Chodron

Buddhist teachers interpret mudita more broadly as an inner spring of infinite joy that is available to everyone at all times, regardless of circumstances. "The more deeply one drinks of this spring, the more securely one becomes in one's own abundant happiness, the more bountiful it becomes to relish the joy of other people."

The spirit of mudita, and of the other brahmaviharas, affirms that you deserve to be happy simply because you are, not because you're the same as others or because you are smarter, richer, nicer, or "better" than anyone else. When you believe and understand this truth, you can take delight in the happiness of others instead of feeling threatened by it. Your relationship to the world becomes one of communion rather than competition.
~Frank Jude Boccio

The Dalai Lama points out that there are so many other people in this world, it simply makes sense to make their happiness equivalent to our own because then, he says, our chance of delight ‘are enhanced six billion to one. Those are very good odds.’

Monday, October 23, 2017

Sing with me

Sing with me, sing for the years
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears

Morgan James with one of my favorite Eric Clapton songs:

Morgan James again, knocking it out of the park:

In case you can't remember how the original went, here it is:

Quite a contrast, eh?

(I didn't mean to go down this road, but here's Aerosmith doing Dream on with a children's choir, which is a whole different sound. Warning: tissue alert due to the video.)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Winter Poem Swap + Sandburg on Milton

we are words on a journey
not the inscriptions of settled people
~W.S. Merwin

Time to sign up for the Winter Poem Swap!

Do you know how it works? Unlike the Summer Poem Swap, when people do up to five swaps, the Winter Poem Swap is just one swap. This time, though, you are asked to send a wee gift along with your poem. If you would like to participate, send me an email (tabatha @ tabathayeatts . com) by November 3rd. I will give you the name and address of someone to send a poem/gift to (let me know if you want the same person to be sending to you or if it doesn't matter). Then you have a month to write your poem and put your package together.

On to today's poem! I have a deep and abiding fondness for poems about poets (and others -- e.g. "Emily Dickinson and Elvis Presley in Heaven” by Hans Ostrom).

To the Ghost of John Milton
by Carl Sandburg

If I should pamphleteer twenty years against royalists,
With rewards offered for my capture dead or alive,
And jails and scaffolds always near;

And then my wife should die and three ignorant daughters
Should talk about their father as a joke, and steal the
Earnings of books, and the poorhouse always reaching for me,

If I then lost my eyes and the world was all dark and I
Sat with only memories and talk—

I would write “Paradise Lost,” I would marry a second wife
And on her dying I would marry a third pair of eyes to
Serve my blind eyes. I would write “Paradise Regained,” I
Would write wild, foggy, smoky, wordy books—

I would sit by the fire and dream of hell and heaven,
Idiots and kings, women my eyes could never look on again,
And God Himself and the rebels God threw into hell.


He who would not be frustrate of his hope to write well hereafter in laudable things ought himself to be a true poem.
~John Milton

Okay, one more Milton quote:
In those vernal seasons of the year, when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and sullenness against Nature not to go out, and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth.


Mistakes Anthology Submission Info

A Day in the Life has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Leigh Anne!

A tribute to clear writing

The greater part of the world's troubles are due to questions of grammar.
~Michel de Montaigne

A painting from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore today. (Just the one! Every once in a while I keep it to a solitary work.) Love these rich colors!

Allegory of Grammar
by Laurent de La Hyre (1606-1656)

The Walters explains:
The importance of the intellect was often celebrated in representations of the Seven Liberal Arts: Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Geometry, Arithmetic, Astronomy, and Music.

This personification of the liberal art of Grammar is engaged in an activity to show how ideas impact real life. To demonstrate how important grammar and clear writing are in making ideas "bloom," the artist metaphorically represents Grammar watering two pots of flowers. Over her arm is a scroll bearing an ancient definition of grammar in Latin: "A literate tongue, spoken in the required manner."

One more grammar quote:

I love you. You are the object of my affection and the object of my sentence.
~Mignon Fogarty

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Online Wellness Classes

Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect.
~Samuel Johnson

FutureLearn sent a message for World Mental Health Day encouraging people to take free classes on wellness topics, such as:

Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance
Monash University
Reduce your stress and improve your wellbeing, by learning mindfulness techniques to use in your everyday life.


Psychology and Mental Health
University of Liverpool
Learn how a psychological understanding of our emotions and behaviour gives us new ways to improve mental health and wellbeing.


Literature and Mental Health: Reading for Wellbeing
The University of Warwick
Find out how poems, plays and novels can help us understand and cope with deep emotional strain.


Strategies for Successful Ageing
Trinity College Dublin
Find out how staying happy, healthy, socially-connected and active can help you age successfully and navigate life's challenges.


Maintaining a Mindful Life
Monash University
Learn how to apply mindfulness techniques, so you can improve your communication, relationships and emotional health.

Morning rowtime by Akash Malhotra

From Coursera:
A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment
Indian School of Business
This course draws content from a variety of fields, including psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral decision theory to offer a tested and practical recipe for leading a life of happiness and fulfillment.

The above classes are free, but there's also an Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management Course ($99) at The Herbal Academy.

Have you ever taken an online class? Did you like it?

Ending with a cute video:

Monday, October 16, 2017

Somehow he never loses his hat

Animation is not the art of drawings that move but the art of movements that are drawn.
~Norman McLaren

Thank you, Matthew, for this terrific hand-drawn video by DoodleChaos, which shows a "line rider" making his way down the music for Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Yehoshua November

There's a lovely Hasidic story of a rabbi who always told his people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, "Why on our hearts, and not in them?" The rabbi answered, "Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your heart, and then when your hearts break, the holy words will fall inside.
~Anne Lamott

When I was deciding what to post for Poetry Friday, I was feeling pretty lousy (a cold). What kept my attention when I was blowing my nose every thirty seconds? These poems by Yehoshua November...

Yehoshua November

After Our Wedding
by Yehoshua Nobember

When you forgot the address of our hotel
in your suitcase,
the driver had to pull over
in front of the restaurant.

Men and women dining beneath the August sun
looked up from their salads
to clap for you,
a young, slender woman
in a wedding dress and tiara,
retrieving a slip of paper
from the trunk of a cab
in the middle of the street.

read the rest here


Upstairs the Eulogy, Downstairs the Rummage Sale
by Yehoshua Nobember

The beloved Yiddish professor
passed away on the same day
as the synagogue’s rummage sale,

and because they could not bear
the coffin up the many steps
that led to the sanctuary,
they left it in the hallway downstairs,

read the rest here


by Yehoshua November

Before the Silent Prayer,
some slip the hood of their prayer shawls
over their heads,
so that even among many worshipers
they are alone with God.

read the rest here


Conjoined Twins
by Yehoshua November

My father was a resident in the hospital
when my young mother gave birth to them. Two bodies
and one heart.
And hearing that the pathologists at that teaching institution
were coming to learn the lessons
science’s rare cases could teach,
my father turned the combination
on his locker and concealed the stillborn baby boys
in a box.

read the rest here


2AM, and the Rabbinical Students Stand in Their Bathrobes
by Yehoshua November

2AM, and the rabbinical students stand in their bathrobes
at the edge of the yeshiva parking lot, watching
the practiced motions of muscular firemen disembarking
from their engine. Soon, it will be determined
the youngest student in the building
pulled the basement alarm

read the rest here


A poetry poster by Yehoshua November: “You Stood Beneath a Streetlight Waving Goodbye.”

Live Your Poem has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Irene!

Don't forget to send your mistake poems! (Penicillin, anyone? X-rays?)

Jane Austen

How I wish I lived in a Jane Austen novel!
~Dodie Smith

Do you have a favorite Mr. Darcy or Colonel Brandon? My sixteen-year-old and I disagree about which version has the best Colonel Brandon, but we do agree about Mr. Darcy. Were you wondering when I would finally get around to featuring Jane Austen art? Wonder no more!

Jane Austen sculpture at Winchester Cathedral
photo by Jason Ballard

Sitting with Jane, Basingstoke
photo by Heather Cowper

walk on
by andrea joseph

The Examination of All the Letters Which Jane Had Written to Her
by Isabel Bishop

Dromen van Jane Austen (Dreams of Jane Austen)
by FotoBIB

Jane Austen
by Antony

Chawton Mittens
pattern and photo by The Bees

Jane Austen book plate fabric, from a Mansfield Park illustration
photo by Karen Cox

I love this quote of Mark Twain's because I always wonder, "How many times did he read it? Wouldn't once have sufficed?":

“Every time I read 'Pride and Prejudice' I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
~Mark Twain

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

We can keep on singing

I remember my choir teacher in high school told me, 'When in doubt, sing loud.' I'm a terrible singer, but I always auditioned for the musicals, and would get cast in them because I really would just put it all out there. That was really good advice, and I think it works for everything, not just acting.
~Judy Greer

For Wellness Wednesday, some choral music and an excerpt from Heather Lende's Find the Good: Unexpected Life Lessons from a Small-Town Obituary Writer where Ms. Lende speaks about what singing in a choir means to her:
"The years are adding up -- births and deaths, arrivals and departures, old songs and new. All held together by the strength of not one note, but so many, blending together. We will never be onstage at Carnegie Hall, but lives have been changed for the better by our music and our connection to one another through it. If I weren't in this little choir in the middle of nowhere, I wouldn't have been standing on the stage at that memorial for my good friend who died at sixty-one, singing peace with al my heart into all those tear-streaked faces. I wouldn't have truly felt Emily Dickinson's beautiful words, "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul," and better yet, because I sang about that little bird who sings sweetest in strongest gales, and never, ever, asks a crumb of me, I felt that unexpected surge of contentment.

It may sound corny, but I don't care, because it is true: Hope did perch in my soul that day and I watched it flying around that room as surely as if it were a yellow canary. Some philosophers urge young people to march to their own beat, or dance to their own music. There's a time and place for that, but I sure hope my grandchildren find a choir, and work to sing along with it. We may not be able to control when children throw up or a spouse leaves us or when one of the altos has a stroke between morning worship and the evening church potluck and won't ever be returning for the dress shoes she left by the coatrack when she pulled on her snow boots. We cannot stop a once-vigorous running companion from shrinking inside a hospital gown and disappearing entirely, but we can keep on singing. This is how we give each other a little lift on low notes, and a smile on the high ones, or share the effort in those places where staggered breathing is the only way to make it to the of the day.
With thanks to Ms. Lende for giving me permission to share this excerpt.

It's not the best view, but hey, my kid is performing (in the orchestra, not the chorus), and the choirs sound like champions, my friends!

Want more choral music? Have I got some for you!

The YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus
Choir! Choir! Choir!
Steinberg's Passion Week
Elijah Rock
Le lagrime di San Pietro
Eric Whitacre Singers

Monday, October 9, 2017

Dreams made real

Looking down on empty streets, all she can see
Are the dreams all made solid
Are the dreams all made real
All of the buildings, all of those cars
Were once just a dream
In somebody's head
~Peter Gabriel

Interesting video by Yoke Lore! What if Virtual Reality could give us a "redo" with things we regret?

Enjoyed this cover of Peter Gabriel's Mercy Street performed by Banfi (cool studio!):

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The thing the poet thinks

Heaven deliver us, what's a poet? Something that can't go to bed without making a song about it.
~Dorothy L. Sayers

Glass Jar by Steve Johnson

Poet connections this Poetry Friday. First, a poem by Robert Francis:

by Robert Francis

Words of a poem should be glass
But glass so simple-subtle its shape
Is nothing but the shape of what it holds.

A glass spun for itself is empty,
Brittle, at best Venetian trinket.
Embossed glass hides the poem of its absence.

Words should be looked through, should be windows.
The best word were invisible.
The poem is the thing the poet thinks.

If the impossible were not,
And if the glass, only the glass,
Could be removed, the poem would remain.


Robert Frost was Robert Francis' mentor, which brings us to this excerpt from a poem by Galway Kinnell written for Robert Frost:

from For Robert Frost
by Galway Kinnell

Poet of the country of white houses,
Of clearings going out to the dark wall of woods
Frayed along the skyline, you who nearly foreknew
The next lines of poems you suddenly left off writing,
Who dwelt in access to that which other men
Have burned all their lives to get near, who heard
The high wind, in gusts, seething
From far off, coming through the trees exactly
To this place where it must happen, who spent
Your life on the point of giving yourself away
To the dark trees, the dissolving woods,
Into which you go at last, heart in hand, deep in:

When we think of a man who was cursed
Neither with the all-lovingness of Walt Whitman
Nor with Melville’s anguish to know and to suffer,
And yet cursed . . . A man, what shall I say,
Vain, not fully convinced he was dying, whose calling
Was to set up in the wilderness of his country,
At whatever cost, a man who would be his own man,
We think of you. And from the same doorway
At which you lived, between the house and the woods,
We see your old footprints going away across
The great Republic, Frost, up memorized slopes,
Down hills floating by heart on the bulldozed land.

(read the whole thing here)


Kinnell mentions Whitman in that poem, as does my daughter in her poem For You, which you can read here.


Violet Nesdoly has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Violet!

Ah, yes, I almost forgot -- don't forget to submit to the mistakes anthology for middle schoolers! We could use some more poems about historical blunders (The Tower of Pisa, anyone?), and I'm not sure we have any about fictional flubs. (What's a fictional flub, you wonder? Edmund in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe makes a famous mistake...) Updated to add: Got a Tower of Pisa poem!

Nice as pie

We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.
~David Mamet

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any kinds of pie that I don't like. I'm sure there's something out there somewhere, but you'd have to put in some effort to find it. Accomplished artisan bakers can make amazingly ornate pies, but even a "regular" pie can be a work of art in the hands of the right photographer.

Tarte aux Pommes Bouquet de Rose
By Meg Zimbeck

Chocolate Tarts (polymer clay)
by Stéphanie Kilgast

Peach Pie from Gold Orchards in Stonewall, Texas
by Diann Bayes

Chocolate ice cream PB pie
by Yesica

Lemon Meringue Pie
by Mary-Katherine Ream

Herringbone Lattice
by Joy

Apricot Strawberry Pancake Pie
by Bill Bumgarner

Blackbird Pie
by Charles A. Federer

Deep apple pie with a leaf crust
by distopiandreamgirl

A final quote:
Cut my pie into four pieces, I don’t think I could eat eight.
~Yogi Berra

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Keeping hydrated

They both listened silently to the water, which to them was not just water, but the voice of life, the voice of Being, the voice of perpetual Becoming.
~Hermann Hesse

Summer smoothie ice cubes by Personal Creations

This Wellness Wednesday, we're thinking about keeping hydrated. My older daughter drinks a LOT of water/liquids during the day. She has a condition which requires that she have a continual stream of electrolytes. My son likes plain water just fine and drinks plenty of that, but my younger daughter tends to go all day without having much of anything. Does that happen to you? What are ways to make drinking water more interesting?

The Daily Burn suggests:
Pop a couple blueberries or blackberries into each ice cube tray slot and fill the remainder with plain or flavored seltzer.
Pour and freeze chocolate milk into cubes to cool off (and jazz up!) a plain glass of milk.

Martha Stewart suggests:
Freeze fresh lemonade, limeade, or the fruit nectar of your choice in an ice cube tray.
Cut watermelon into cubes, place on a baking sheet, and freeze.

My Fussy Eater suggests:
Freeze various juices—such as apple, cranberry, and orange juice—in layers. As they melt in your cup, the sunny cubes will add color and flavor to that otherwise unexciting H20.

From 17 Apart:
Fill an ice cube tray with a generous number of mint leaves, add water, and freeze.

From Rachael Ray:
Dissolve one part honey in three parts hot water. Let cool, then pour into a tray.

Shape.com suggests:
Freeze clementine slices and use as ice cubes.
Add a few drops of rose water. (I like rose syrup in water, esp. with a slice of lemon. So good!)

I drink a lot of tea (black, green, white, and herbal), and I also like broth. What about you? What are your favorite ways to keep hydrated?

There are apps you can use to help you keep track of how much water you've drunk (my older daughter's roommate uses Plant Nanny, where you keep a plant "alive" by watering it when you drink).

One last quote:
[Jellyfish] are 97% water or something, so how much are they doing? Just give them another 3% and make them water. It's more useful.
~Karl Pilkington

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Are you an arts advocate?

The creative arts are the measure and reflection of our civilization.
~Ann P. Kahn

Americans for the Arts says:

Join the movement to advance the arts and arts education in your community and across the country.

Annual membership is FREE and your online benefits include:

Membership to vote on the legislative policy platforms
Breaking news and legislative alerts from the E-Advocacy center
Quarterly updates through Arts Action eNews
Exclusive access to the member's only Arts Action Fund PAC

Sign up now and be entered for a chance to win 1 of 10 $100 gift cards valid in-stores and online at Blick Art Materials and Utrecht Art Supplies when you sign up during the month of October!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Singing your knife

Kind words are benedictions. The are not only instruments of power, but of benevolence and courtesy; blessings both to the speaker and hearer of them.
~Arthur Frederick Saunders

Today's music is on knives from the Renaissance. The notes -- comprising graces and benedictions to be sung before and after a meal -- were transcribed and given to the Royal College of Music, who made the below recordings.

Left & right views of an etched, engraved and gilded steel knife with ivory, brass and silver handle, by an unknown maker, Italy, 1500–50. Victoria and Albert Museum no. 310-1903

From Open Culture:
...Each knife had a different piece of music on each side, and that a set of them together contained different harmony parts in order to turn a roomful of diners into a chorus. One set of blades had the grace on one side, with the inscription, “the blessing of the table. May the three-in-one bless that which we are about to eat.” The other side holds the benediction, to be sung after the dinner: “The saying of grace. We give thanks to you God for your generosity.”
Grace, Version 1
Benediction, Version 1

...We are as unlikely now to encounter singing kitchen knives as we are to run into a horse and rider bearing 100 pounds of finely-wrought wearable steel sculpture. Such strange artifacts seem to speak of a strange people who valued beauty whether carving up the main course or cutting down their enemies.
Grace, Version 2
Benediction, Version 2
One more benediction quote (80 years!):
For the past eighty years I have started each day in the same manner... I go to the piano, and I play preludes and fugues of Bach... It is a sort of benediction on the house.
Pablo Casals