Thursday, August 16, 2018

Winging It

Nature can only be governed by obeying her.
— Henri Poincaré

When Christie asked for bird poems for this Friday, I was totally on board. Birds are some of my favorite people. I didn't really know what would come out, though, when I sat down to write. Like the scientists in my poem, after doing my research I was just kinda hoping for the best.

Endangered Kirtland's warbler
photo by USFWS Headquarters

Ineptly Benevolent

Picture our warbler-loving scientists,
roaming the forests with battery-powered stereos
in their data-driven hands, tucking them into young pines
and leaving them to sing a warbler here, and another,
to this enticing new home, move-in ready,
with romantic rendezvous potential.

We stage and we plan, but we are also fluent in surprise,
like the experts who realized after years of holding forests still,
keeping the tall piney matches from burning
assuming that blazes were bird-scuttling habitat-ruiners --
that some species seek out after-fire areas,
rejoice in the phoenix world, seek it,
flight-follow the scent of char.


How Makeshift Stereos Could Help an Endangered Warbler Find a New Home
Wildfire Benefits Many Bird Species

Wondering and Wandering has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Christie!

The Pond at Benten Shrine in Shiba

And nearer to the river's trembling edge There grew broad flag-flowers, purple, prankt with white; And starry river buds among the sedge; And floating water-lilies, broad and bright.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

A woodblock print from 1929 for Art Thursday:

The Pond at Benten Shrine in Shiba
by Hasui Kawase

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Nut Up or Shut Up

My momma always told me someday you'll be good at somethin'. Who'd have guessed that somethin' would be zombie killin'?
~Tallahassee, Zombieland

Zombieland is movie which manages to be light-hearted despite its zombie-ridden, post-apocalyptic setting. It's not the sort of thing that would usually make it into Wellness Wednesday, but here we are.

Right before he was about to do something dangerous, Woody Harrelson's character would say, "Nut up or shut up," which always made me laugh.

The cussing and gore starts at 45, so stop then if you just want the quote. (I couldn't find one that just showed the first 45 seconds)

Later, when Jesse Eisenberg's character is faced with a zombie clown (his worst fear!) that he needs to conquer in order to save his ladylove, he isn't even surprised. Of course, he thinks. He had to do this. It was time to nut up or shut up.

Is there something that makes you dig deep, something you need your most crazy/brave self in order to do? It could be something more consequential than finding a Twinkie, but maybe not.

You know what time it is!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Come Along Too

Well, if my thoughts had wings,
I'd be the bird that sings.
~Roger Hodgson

Supertramp has come up a lot recently, so, okay, I got the hint:

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Needed: Titanium Spines

Nothing scares me, because I used to think I was indestructible. Now I know I'm indestructible, not to mention my spine is indestructible. It's all titanium.
~Jason Priestley

Maybe "The Bone that has no Marrow" reminds you of someone? (Yes, I am perpetually aggravated by lack of stand-up behavior.)

by Emily Dickinson

The Bone that has no Marrow,
What Ultimate for that?
It is not fit for Table
For Beggar or for Cat.

A Bone has obligations —
A Being has the same —
A Marrowless Assembly
Is culpabler than shame.


For some reason, this week I remembered a project from years ago where someone asked for photos featuring bits of poetry. Here's one I made with a line from "You Can't Have It All" by Barbara Ras:

More are here

Nix the Comfort Zone has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Molly!

Bruno Liljefors

The animals seemed to have an instinctive trust and actual attraction to him.
~Ernst Malmberg, speaking of Bruno Liljefors

Swedish artist Bruno Andreas Liljefors (1860-1939) clearly spent a lot of time outdoors, observing.

Chasing Hare

Flock of Ducks and Sneaky Fox


Sleeping Jeppe

Stalking Fox

Winter Hare

Cat in the Summer Meadow

Men Warping

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Specialized Knowledge

One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.
~Shannon L. Alder

photo by Jack Wallsten

Kao Kalia Yang makes an interesting point about how our experiences give us specialized knowledge that can help others:

I am learning now about what the things we go through, we survive, do to us and our relationships with others, how they shape and change who we are and how we can be — give us specialized knowledge, insights, experiences that we can share when the loneliness of a personal experience is too much to bear.

Going through hardships gives us strength in the places we’d never thought to develop, spaces we didn’t know we’d occupy, room to reach beyond ourselves, toward others who are where we had been.
~Kao Kalia Yang

It can be something as big as Malala starting The Malala Fund after she was shot for trying to get an education, or something as seemingly small as answering questions on a forum. Answering questions in a forum can be so helpful! Posting YouTube videos and blog posts can have a big impact. What are other things that you have found helpful when you were looking for support from people who had already been through a situation?

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Bringer of Jollity

Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.
~Markus Zusak

A bunch of beautiful people making music...students from the Berklee College of Music performing Holst's Jupiter, The Bringer of Jollity:

Friday, August 3, 2018

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

You know, I know a few techniques that could help you manage that anger effectively.
~Bruce Banner

I first heard about Aimee Nezhukumatathil when I read "Cheese Curds, The First Time" on T. S. Poetry Press's Every Day Poems, but I wasn't able to find it online to share with you. I found a bunch of others, though!

"What I Learned From..." is a good prompt, isn't it?

What I Learned from the Incredible Hulk
By Aimee Nezhukumatathil

When it comes to clothes, make
an allowance for the unexpected.
Be sure the spare in the trunk
of your station wagon with wood paneling

isn’t in need of repair. A simple jean jacket
says Hey, if you aren’t trying to smuggle
rare Incan coins through this peaceful
little town and kidnap the local orphan...

read the rest here


Cherry Hill photo by Ian Sane

The Woman Who Turned Down a Date with a Cherry Farmer
By Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Fredonia, NY

Of course I regret it. I mean there I was under umbrellas of fruit
so red they had to be borne of Summer, and no other season.
Flip-flops and fishhooks. Ice cubes made of lemonade and sprigs
of mint to slip in blue glasses of tea. I was dusty, my ponytail
all askew and the tips of my fingers ran, of course, red...

read the rest here


First Anniversary, With Monkeys
By Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Periyar Nature Preserve

There is no crumbly frozen cake to thaw.
Today, we are in the jungle. I mean mosquito. I mean

tigers and elephants sludging their way
to the lake for a drink and Don’t make sudden moves

or snakes startled from an afternoon nap
will greet you fang first. I think we are lost. Too hot

for any cold confection to survive. Even my tube
of sunblock is as warm as a baby’s bottle. You get

to those places I can’t reach, those places I dared
not even whisper before I walked down the aisle

in white. You never worried if our families
would clash, if they would clang like the clutch

read the rest here


Swear Words

A Year of Reading has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Mary Lee!

Thursday, August 2, 2018


Finish every day and be done with it. For manners and for wise living it is a vice to remember. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. To-morrow is a new day; you shall begin it well and serenely, and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Two serene paintings by Frederick Cayley Robinson (1862-1927):

Blue Bird Dreamships

by Frederick Cayley Robinson

by Frederick Cayley Robinson

Wednesday, August 1, 2018


Treasure by Nick Kenrick

Krista Tippett and Rumi today:

I don’t think joy is a privilege. I think freedom can be a privilege; I think luxury and comfort can be a privilege. But joy is a piece of basic human resilience. It’s a human birthright. And in fact, one of the paradoxical and amazing things about our species is how people are able to get through the worst, also, with their joy muscle intact. So I think, if we want to call the world not just to justice but to joy and to flourishing, of which joy is a part, we have to find those ways and those places where that is also what we are finding and stirring and keeping alive in others.
~Krista Tippett

Do you know what you are?
You are a manuscript oƒ a divine letter.
You are a mirror reflecting a noble face.
This universe is not outside of you.
Look inside yourself;
everything that you want,
you are already that.

Monday, July 30, 2018

If I Ain't Got You

Some people think that the physical things define what's within
And I've been there before, and that life's a bore
So full of the superficial
~Alicia Keys

Mozart would play a counterpart with his left hand while using his right to mock it. It was blue, dark, shadowy - and it made me feel something. That's when I realized music was inside me.
~Alicia Keys

For Music Monday, one of my favorite songs. Alicia Keys:

One last quote:

I'd rather believe in my own choice and see it all go wrong than do something I'm not fully convinced of and later feel guilty about it.
~Alicia Keys

Thursday, July 26, 2018


There's no backward and no forward, no day other than this. You fill your cart as you go, and that's that.
~John Burnham Schwartz

photo courtesy Ruth Hersey

I received a slice-of-life poem from Ruth Hersey, accompanied by wonderful photos of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Florida. As someone whose eyesight is underwater-esque without my glasses, I can sympathize with this situation:

Lost and Found
by Ruth Bowen Hersey

On Wednesday the ocean took my glasses
After it pounded me on the sand
And left me gasping,
My knees bleeding.
I emerged newborn from the water
Like Aphrodite, but blinking near-sightedly
And clothed in a stripy bathing suit.

On Thursday I lived in a blur
As though still under the waves;
Life around me went on
In an impressionistic haze
While I strained to exist.

On Friday I found new eyes
At Eyeglass World,
Rediscovered borders and outlines.
Alive, I walked in the botanical garden
And drank in color and detail with my camera,
Consuming orchids and ferns,
Caladiums and birds of paradise.
Greedily seeing, seeing, seeing.

Photos courtesy Ruth Hersey, whose blog I always love to visit for poems, inspiration, wisdom, and beautiful photos!

Reading to the Core has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Catherine!

Addendum: Kat and Ruth are sharing poems I gave them for the swap.

W.C. Richardson

Energy and motion made visible – memories arrested in space.
~Jackson Pollock

Art by W.C. Richardson today. He explains that he isn't crazy about the way his art looks online because you can't tell that they are all hand-painted. "They are really more physically present in person," he says. I understand that (and talked about the joy of seeing paintings in person pretty recently), but still...I like seeing them virtually. Thanks for giving me permission to share these, Chip!

In The Foam
by W.C. Richardson

(Another) Another Written Time
by W.C. Richardson

Bounce the Counter
by W.C. Richardson

Many Worlds
by W.C. Richardson

Sa Har
by W.C. Richardson

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Supporting Artists

My child, I can live on a good compliment two weeks with nothing else to eat.
~Mark Twain

The other day, bighearted Amy Ludwig VanDerwater sent me a sweet card and several poems, including "Alley Violinist" by Robert Lax. It goes:

The Alley Violinist
by Robert Lax

if you were an alley violinist

and they threw you money
from three windows

and the first note contained
a nickel and said:
when you play, we dance and
sing, signed
a very poor family

and the second one contained...

read the rest here.

The question of what the violinist would do is the focal point here, but I would also like to point out how important it was that the folks who loved the music said so. What if the person who could afford a dollar was the only one that the violinist heard from?

Even if you can't afford to donate, your words matter and your opinion counts! Creators of all kinds thrive on knowing that they are reaching someone.

If you are interested in helping artists financially, Patreon is a way to support artists for as little as a dollar a month.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Prague Cello Quartet

A cello on a winter night in the midst of a frozen city—that was what his voice sounded like.
~Tiffany Reisz

Isn't that a beautiful description of someone's voice? I really like cellos. I have posted as often about cellos as I have about french horns. Do you have favorite instruments?

Speaking of spies, if you visit Washington D.C., you might want to visit The Spy Museum.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

An explosion of exactitude

Japanese things - laquers, netsuke, prints - conjure a picture of a place where sensations are always new, where art pours out of daily life, where everything exists in a dream of endless beautiful flow.
~Edmund de Waal

Netsuke from the Edo period

I've been reading The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. De Waal is a poetic writer, and the way he described why he wanted to figure out the history of the netsuke he inherited from his great-uncle made me want to add some line breaks...

from The Hare with Amber Eyes
by Edmund de Waal

This netsuke
is a
of exactitude.

It deserves
this kind of
in return.
All this matters
because my job is to make things.

How objects get handled,
used and handed on
is not just
a mildly interesting question
for me.
It is my question.

I can remember
if something invited touch
with the whole hand
or just the fingers,
or was an object
that asked you
to stay away.
Some objects seem to retain
the pulse
of their making.


My Juicy Little Universe has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Heidi!

Addendum: I shared a couple of photos with netsuke yesterday.


Japan never considers time together as time wasted. Rather, it is time invested.
~Donald Richie

Tomorrow I have a netsuke found poem; today I have a related object: inrō. Inrō were most commonly used to carry identity seals and medicine and were held together by a cord, secured to a netsuke. An ojime (bead) on the cords between the inrō and netsuke held the boxes together.

Inro with Cranes Soaring by Mount Fuji, and Netsuke of a Turtle, 19th century
The Walters Art Museum

Inro with Autumn Carnations and Badger Netsuke
by Toryu (Japanese, active ca. 18th century)

Inrō in the Shape of a House

Inrō with a Chinese scholar and attendents

Inrō with a serpent

Inrō on Pinterest

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Helplessness Management

If you love your country, you must be willing to defend it from fraud, bigotry, and recklessness--even from a president.
~DaShanne Stokes

I'm a pretty chill person. Under normal conditions, I don't spend much time angry. These are not normal conditions, though, and some part of me is angry at all times. To be honest, I think that's necessary. When I stop being furious about our GOP leadership being corrupt and immoral, I will have accepted the corruption and degradation of my country. That isn't going to happen.

I thought about having our topic be "anger management" but when I looked at the info about it, it wasn't quite right. I don't need to count to ten or I'll blow my top. It's really "helplessness management" that's my concern.

It feels like we have a "the emperor has no clothes" situation going on, but when the child at the end of the story says, "he's naked!" instead of the townspeople finding the courage to agree, 40% of them say things like, "I can't tell because I'm not looking," "We like making you mad that he's naked," and "None of the other emperors wore clothes." So what do you do when being clear-eyed is completely frustrating?

Emperor's New Clothes, Denmark

Here are some possibilities, in addition to getting out and protesting:

Support organizations that are trying to make a difference. You can support them by making a donation, by following them, by volunteering...

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
Public Citizen (Protecting Health, Safety, and Democracy)
Let America Vote
Postcards to Voters

A book that might make you feel better:
What Unites Us by Dan Rather

A petition:
Need to Impeach

Things to read or do (self-care):
Mindful breathing
Random acts of kindness
Write yourself a love letter
Spending time with art
Body scan
The APA on anger control

Whatever you do to help yourself or others is important and it matters. Thank you!

Monday, July 16, 2018


Naar leiken er best, skal ein helst halda upp.
English equivalent: Leave a jest when it pleases you best.
~Norwegian proverb

I had to laugh when I saw that proverb because it reminded me of something I told my kids (more than once!) when they were young..."the secret to a good joke is knowing when to stop."

For Music Monday we have Halvorsen's Norwegian Rhapsody #1:

Thursday, July 12, 2018

In Solidarity with (Mother) Nature

Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.
~Barbara Kingsolver

I love the joyful surprise of finding a clever poem (and a beautiful postcard) in my mailbox. For the Summer Poem Swap, Becky Herzog used an Emerson quote I shared on my blog as a springboard.

In Solidarity with (Mother) Nature
by Rebecca Herzog
Nature never hurries. Atom by atom, little by little, she achieves her work.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I carve out time
(chiseled in Play-Doh, not stone)

I listen for the muse
(she sounds a lot like my kids)

I fall into a rhythm
(the beats are foot stomps overhead)

I toss the words onto the page
(and teach a child to catch a ball)

I wring out my tired brain
(while little hands squish my cheeks)

But bit by bit
(and little by little)

I achieve my work
(the work is never done)


Poetry For Children has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Sylvia!

Beautiful work

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it.
~Author Unknown

I like the combination of work and beauty in this painting. The painter's wife Selma is getting her hands dirty, but I'll bet she's happy:

Selma in the Garden
by T.C. Steele

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Relationship Advice

Being with someone who is smart and gives good advice adds tremendously wonderful elements to your life.
~Patricia Cornwell

Having to give relationship advice can start pretty early. When my firstborn was in preschool, she told me she had a tough choice to make about which boy would be her boyfriend. I asked her which one she thought might bring her a bandaid if she had a boo-boo. She thought that was a good question and it seemed to shed a bit of light on her calculations.

Fast forward eighteen years and Ariana becomes serious with a guy who came with her to a doctor's appointment on their first date. (Long story!) He is most assuredly someone who would get a bandaid for her boo-boo. He is also someone whom she finds very interesting -- a trait Barack Obama recommends.

The advice:

First, he asks: 'Is she someone you find interesting? You will spend more time with this person than anyone else for the rest of your life, and there is nothing more important than always wanting to hear what she has to say about things.'

Second, he asked: 'Does she make you laugh?'

And third, he said: 'I don't know if you want kids, but if you do, do you think she will be a good mom?

'Life is long,' Obama told him. 'These are things that really matter over the long term.'

I think these are smart questions. What questions do you recommend?

Monday, July 9, 2018

Sweetest Life

I'll take you to my island
Let's get away, get away from it all

For Music Monday, a good song for summer by Kwaye:

Friday, July 6, 2018

Pooches and Prophecy

What do dogs do on their day off? Can’t lie around – that’s their job.
~George Carlin

My buddy Laura Shovan sent me charming origami pups containing dog haiku for the Summer Poem Swap. (It should come as no surprise that Laura has hidden talents like the ability to fold adorable pets. Never underestimate a knitter.)

Laura named her origami after her dogs

Inside the origami were (Rudy first, Sam second):

summer shower
old Beagle sits
wet nose quivering


June rain
wipe your paws
when you come in, dog


Laura really nails canine-ness, doesn't she? So this next part is kind of a rabbit trail which circles back around to Laura's swap. I heard about rhapsodomancy recently, which is a scrumptious word for divining the future with poetry.

Wikipedia explains:
Rhapsodomancy is an ancient form of divination performed by choosing through some method a specific passage or poem from which to ascertain information.

There were various methods for practicing rhapsodomancy. Sometimes, individuals would write several verses or sentences from a poet on multiple pieces of wood, paper, or similar material, shake them together in an urn, and pick one at random. Sometimes, they cast dice on a table that was covered with verses; the one on which the die landed was said to contain the prediction.

In ancient Rome, the method of sortes involved opening a book and choosing some verse at first sight.

Even though I don't actually believe in telling the future and am not 100% sure I would want to find out even if I did (believe in it), I decided to play with the concept.

Laura gave me an arts magazine along with the poems she sent me, and I decided to open it and point to something and see what I got. What would my little experiment in rhapsodomancy uncover? Well, at first, I got a photograph titled "Tranquility." Okay, sounds good, but that's more photodomancy than rhapso, so I kept going. Got a colored pencil drawing the second go-round ("Portrait B") but the third time I got a stanza!

From "I AM" by T. R. White:

I am encased in a siding of armor
Impenetrable by design
Those who seek to tear me down
Can't contend with my front line


Prophecy? Words to live by? What do you think?

The Miss Rumphius Effect has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Tricia!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Nature Studies by Detmold

Nature never hurries. Atom by atom, little by little, she achieves her work.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Illustrations by Edward Detmold from News of Spring and Other Nature Studies (1917) by Maurice Maeterlinck.

Pine Grosbeak
by Edward Detmold

by Edward Detmold

by Edward Detmold

by Edward Detmold

Catasetum and Cypripediums
by Edward Detmold

by Edward Detmold

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


The time to make up your mind about people - is never.
~Katharine Hepburn

Sometimes when I look at people's behavior online (oh, the comment section!), they can look pretty horrible. Deplorable, even. But in my daily life, I cross paths with nice people all the time.

I was hurrying into the airport recently and I lost my footing in a puddle. I fell heavily on my knee, messing up my sandaled toes. When I was going through security, that section of my leg set off their sensor (?) and the TSA officer wanted to pat it down. I mentioned to her that I'd fallen and showed her where my foot was bleeding. She was lovely and gave me a Hello Kitty bandaid, which made me laugh.

At the grocery store the other day, I had a cashier who looked pretty sour. She didn't speak English and didn't really engage with me during the transaction. After I was done, she had two coupons of her own that she wanted to use on my behalf, and she put a surprising amount of effort into making sure I got that money back ($1.67). I was really touched. She was a book whose cover I couldn't read at all.

I frequent grocery stores, to be honest. My crowd eats a lot. At another grocery store, there's a cashier who calls everyone "mi amor." Other staff members, customers, we're all "my love" to her. I was at the store and she was talking to a customer near me about whether the customer was getting a particular discount. "You're such a beautiful lady," the cashier said. "You have to get the discount." I don't know what the ordinary-looking senior citizen thought about the compliment, but I do know that the cashier meant it.

What do we see when we look at people? Threatening TSA officers, sour-faced strangers, plain faces? What else might we see instead?

Monday, July 2, 2018

America the Beautiful

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw
Confirm thy soul in self-control
Thy liberty in law!
~Katharine Lee Bates

We preserve our liberty by following the rule of law, don't we? The words to "America the Beautiful" are inspiring:

"O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!"

Loving their country more than life, and loving mercy more than life. Thank you, founders, and thank you, Ms. Bates.

Now, for a bit of football-related joy.

The U.S. isn't in the World Cup, but I am following it closely, as I always do. When games go to PKs at the end (like they did yesterday), you can pretty much guarantee that I am freaking out. Too much pressure! You can see how much these folks are enjoying The Beautiful Game:

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Dulces Sueños

Well, putting words on paper isn't your job. Your job is to go digging around in your soul.
~Radney Foster

Remember that time I posted two songs by Radney Foster? No? It's here. Today I have another song by him. Proceeds go to RAICES Texas (The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services).

Foster says: “Watching children being forcibly taken from their parents, solely because they crossed a border is antithetical to everything I believe. My conscious tells me it’s wrong, my faith tells me that’s wrong and the values I was taught at the dinner table tell me it’s wrong.”

He also says: “My hope in rewriting “Godspeed” was that people might lose their preconceptions about these families and look at them as human beings who should be treated with dignity, mercy and grace.”

Proceeds from “Godspeed (Dulces Sueños)” will go to RAICES Texas. The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services serves immigrants and refugees in our community by providing immigration-related legal services, advocacy and opportunities for educational and social support. They believe that by actively promoting the well-being and informed participation of immigrants and refugees in the community, everyone benefits.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

More than flowers

Basil, thyme, coriander, and broad leaf parsley grew in billowing clouds of green; the smell so fresh your mouth watered and you began to plan the next meal.
~ Ellen Herrick

The Herb Garden - Castle Acre Priory, Norfolk
photo by Glen Bowman

I turned a quote by Henry Beston into a found poem for Poetry Friday. It made me think about how everyone, no matter their appearance, is more than what you see.

by Henry Beston

A garden of herbs
is a garden of things
loved for themselves
in their wholeness
and integrity.

It is not
a garden of flowers,
but a garden of plants
which are sometimes
very lovely flowers
and are always
more than flowers.


I'm going to be having a little herb tasting week for my family in July, using recipes from Rosalee De La Forêt's Taste of Herbs exercise collection. (If you are interested, I would check out her Alchemy of Herbs book which I think has similar recipes but isn't part of a larger class. Also here's a video of her making an elderberry recipe from Taste of Herbs.)

Carol's Corner has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Carol!

P.S. Diane shared a quote from my dad's book Wider Thoughts on the Team IMPERFECT blog yesterday.


If one perceives of it all – the entire War or even life as a whole – as a scene in the theater of 'infinity', many things are much easier to bear.
~Max Beckmann, 1884–1950

I enjoyed spending a little time at the St Louis Art Museum (SLAM) this week. While obviously I do like looking at art online, there is something special about being in the same room with a compelling painting. SLAM has "Stairway at Auvers" by Van Gogh, which fairly vibrates in person (link below).

I thought Max Beckmann's work was fascinating. His "Titanic" reminded me of refugees. There's a certain desperation that both groups have in common. I'm including another painting from SLAM below, and a bunch of links to other favorites that I saw there.

by Max Beckmann

by Pablo Picasso

Max Beckmann's Harbor of Genoa

Interior with Young Woman Tracing a Flower by Louise-Adéone Drölling

The Louvre, Morning, Sunlight by Camille Pissarro

Madame Roulin by Paul Gauguin

Sadak in Search of the Waters of Oblivion by John Martin

Singer with a White Plume by Georges Rouault

Stairway at Auvers by Vincent van Gogh

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Traveling While Chronically Ill

Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.
~Neil Gaiman

A guest post for Wellness Wednesday by my friend Tanita Davis:

photo by Tanita Davis

Milady of Maladies: Traveling

It’s officially summertime in the Northern Hemisphere, and the tradition of so many in the Americas is to pack up and hie off to parts cooler whilst a great heat settles onto our green and formerly pleasant land. This is a great plan if you have a.) time, b.) means, and c.) the wherewithal to get out of bed once you get there.

I don’t always have that last one. Since November I’ve been trying to understand what my diagnosis of scleromyositis, a so-called “overlap syndrome” autoimmune disorder, was going to mean for my life. It’s been a challenge, over the last eight months learning to eat well, sleep well, and live well with a body that, with varying degrees of hostility, seemed to fight my efforts. This month, I had the opportunity to discover what it was like traveling with an autoimmune.

I was determined that since we’d finally scraped up the money for a trip that I wasn’t going to be a problem when Tech Boy and I went to the medieval city of Delft, The Netherlands, this past May. (It was an amazing trip, and for some commentary, check out a few of our rather blather-y blog posts, including the unexpected eight-and-a-half-hour layover on our trip home.) We took precautions – I upped my walking time gradually over the weeks before we left, to get into condition. We paid out a little extra for the flight, and sat in an Emergency Exit row, because the additional leg room was crucial not only for Tech Boy’s lanky limbs but for my often swollen and aching hip, knee, and ankle joints. (However! I was still confident I could wrench up that door and help people to safety. I wouldn’t have been in that row without that confidence.) We packed my meds in my carryon, and we packed our own plane food. We also chose to rent an apartment for our time in the Netherlands, because though there’s no particular diet that’s going to “cure” an autoimmune disorder, we’ve found I’m generally healthier when I’m in charge of my own nutrition.

For the most part, things were good. The newness of castles and canals kept me going for a while, even with the unseasonable heat in Europe at the end of May, I managed to get around to see and do almost everything I wanted to. However, I made a few mistakes – one was forgetting a huge sun hat. Many autoimmune disorders come with rashes and skin conditions which are exacerbated by sun exposure – don’t forget your hat, or even an umbrella/parasol thing.

Another mistake I made was not scheduling in down time, preferring to run until my engine was running on fumes... and that isn’t something I’d do again.

Schedule rest. Schedule rest days. It’s much wiser to acknowledge that you do need accommodation, you will need downtime, and that there’s nothing wrong with it. This will prevent you feeling guilty for “wasting” time sitting or lying down and “trapping” everyone into having to slow to your schedule. Scheduling days where you and your family do separate things is the best idea. Or, better yet, scheduling daily downtime where you literally put your feet up for two or three hours is a much better option than driving yourself ‘til your tires go flat.

And, of course, for that downtime? Yeah, yeah, we all have our phones and our movies, but don’t forget your books!

Books which are immersive and bring new worlds to life are some of the best options for travel – whether you’re having downtime, or in need of a mental vacation. Here are a few of my favorites immersive travel books in the fantasy genre. I hope you get a chance to read some of these books which describe faraway places, beautiful (and slightly chaotic) scenery, and immersive, subversive social mores:

THE GOBLIN EMPEROR by Katherine Addison
PALADIN OF SOULS, Lois McMaster Bujold

Happy Travels, Friends!


Addendum from Tabatha...

* Tips for Traveling with a Chronic Illness
* Traveling with IBS
* Tips for Being Prepared When Lupus Follows You on Vacation

Monday, June 25, 2018

The 7th, Allegretto

I am afraid there are moments in life when even Beethoven has nothing to say to us. We must admit, however, that they are our worst moments.
~Henry James

Beethoven has plenty to say to me. Sometimes I sing this piece to myself while I am cooking. For Music Monday:

Can’t you see that I’m deaf? —
I also cannot stop listening.
~Rita Dove

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Quiet friend

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

Rilke today...I posted one of his Orpheus poems before (Orpheus links below). This sonnet may be about an ancient myth, but it resonates today.

Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.


Previous Rilke Orpheus post
Orpheus with his lute

Becky Herzog is sharing a sloth poem I wrote her for the Summer Poem Swap.
Michelle Kogan has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Michelle!

Maria Yakunchikova

Yakunchikova is not only a great poet but also a great master. In Russia she is still insufficiently appreciated, and yet there are few contemporary artists - not only here, but also in the West - who wield such a fresh, noble palette, with such broad and vigorous skill.
~Alexandre Benois, 1901

Art today by Maria Vasilievna Yakunchikova-Weber, who only lived from 1870-1902. She was diagnosed with tuberculosis in the late 1880s, but she was able to carry on until after the birth of her second son in April 1901, from which she never recovered.

Reflection of an intimate world
by Maria Yakunchikova

View from the Belfry of the Savino-Storoshevsky Cathedral, close to Svenigorod
by Maria Yakunchikova

Stairs to the street
by Maria Yakunchikova

The Terrace
by Maria Yakunchikova - 1899

City view
by Maria Yakunchikova

Sleigh and village in winter
by Maria Yakunchikova

Tea time
by Maria Yakunchikova

Fear 1893-95
Maria Yakunchikova