Friday, May 25, 2018

A bird for Anna

Quick as a humming bird is my love,
Dipping into the hearts of flowers—
She darts so eagerly, swiftly, sweetly
Dipping into the flowers of my heart.
~James Oppenheim


I participated in More than Meets the Eye, Margaret Simon's photo poetry exchange. Thank you, Margaret! And thank you to Jone Rush MacCulloch, who sent me a photo from Oregon of an Anna's hummingbird. Once I looked up Anna's hummingbirds, I was sunk. It was too interesting! I had a hard time stopping my research.


An Anna's hummingbird
by Jone Rush MacCulloch

I found fascinating facts about the hummingbirds themselves, which are the fastest animals on the planet. During their mating rituals, the males will fly straight up over a hundred feet and swoop powerfully down, making a burst of noise at the bottom. Scientists found that when the hummingbird "pulls up at the end of the swoop it experiences forces 10 times the pull of gravity – more than even experienced jet pilots can endure without passing out." I should write a poem about that, or the fact that they are also the fastest shimmy-ers in the world (a slow motion camera "caught the birds performing a micro-shimmy that is 10 times faster than a dog shakes after a bath.") But I got side-tracked by the story of Anna, the Frenchwoman the hummingbird was named for by naturalist René Primevère Lesson. I couldn't help but explore that bit of history.

A bird for Anna

On a four-year voyage
   around the globe,
René catalogued land creatures
   like the kangaroo and boar,
but the ones that
   lingered in his mind
were the ones that soared--
   stunning birds-of-paradise
and the remarkable
   flying jewels--
hummingbirds.

Anna was a princess
   and the empress'
mistress of the robes,
   the foremost lady-in-waiting.
Anna's husband François studied birds,
   collected thousands.
Like his wife, they were captivating,
   bright, bejeweled,
catching the light,
   sharp and
surprising.

Although Audubon
   described Anna as a
beautiful young woman,
   extremely graceful and polite,

René would be the one
   to name a shimmering
specimen for her.

New World bird,
   a hardy soul
who remains all year,
   named for an
Old World princess,
   who also stayed home,
beloved of traveling men.

*****

Reflections on the Teche has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Margaret!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Haruo Uchiyama

...My passion is to help people connect with wild birds through wood carvings and taking action to save their habitat.
~Haruo Uchiyama


I first heard about Haruo Uchiyama because he makes “Touch Carvings” for the blind. He also helps with preservation activities by making decoys of Short-tailed Albatross and other species, and he designs hand puppets for hand-raising chicks. He has been authorized by the Japanese government as a Modern Master Craftsman. I appreciate that Mr. Uchiyama gave me permission to share his artistry here.

'akiapola'au
by Haruo Uchiyama

Touch Carvings of Yardstick Birds
For the vision impaired, wild birds are hard to touch and understand. The wood carvings cannot convey the soft, fluffiness of real birds, but they can teach them the difference in shapes, sizes and beak forms, and the name of each feather.
by Haruo Uchiyama

Puppets for Hand Raising Chicks
Lappet-faced Vulture, White Stork, Siberian Crane, Whooping Crane
by Haruo Uchiyama

Family Tree by wood inlay, with bird carvings of the Darwin's Finches
by Haruo Uchiyama

Cranes (Whooping, Manchurian, Siberian white)
by Haruo Uchiyama


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Disability notes

As the years go by, fewer and fewer Americans will appreciate the fact that their forebears were quite happy to elect a handicapped person as president of the United States. We cannot allow the memory of FDR's disability to fade even more. A full picture of this extraordinary American political leader must be given.

We must grasp the fact that every day the president could not get out of bed, get dressed, reach the bathroom or get to his desk without the assistance of another person and a wheelchair. He was totally dependent upon both.
~Curtis Roosevelt, about his grandfather


I'm reading Introducing Disability Studies by Ronald J. Berger and I used a lot of wee sticky notes on the first couple chapters.

Quotes I marked while I was reading:
...impairment refers to a biological or physiological condition that entails the loss of physical, sensory, or cognitive function, and disability refers to an inability to perform a personal or socially necessary task because of that impairment or the societal reaction to it.

***

...For instance, people who use a wheelchair for mobility due to a physical impairment may only be socially disabled if the buildings to which they require access are architecturally inaccessible. Otherwise, there may be nothing about the impairment that would prevent them from participating fully in the educational, occupational, and other institutional activities of society. Or take the case of visual impairment. Nowadays people who wear eyeglasses or contacts don’t even think of themselves as having an impairment, because these corrective devices have become commonplace. But if it were not for these technological aids, which are now taken for granted, their visual impairments might also be disabilities.

***

Take the case of facial scarring or disfigurement, “which is a disability of appearance only, a disability constructed totally by stigma and cultural meanings."

***

All this is to say that it is important to understand “disability” as a social phenomenon, an experience that cannot be reduced to the nature of the physiological impairment. Rather, it is a product of societal attitudes and the social organization of society.

***

Indeed, most anyone who lives long enough can expect to have an experience with disability before they die. Joseph Shapiro adds that fewer than 15 percent of those who are disabled are actually born with their impairment, and therefore anyone at any time, “as a result of a sudden automobile accident, a fall down a flight of stairs,” or the acquisition of a serious illness, can join the ranks of people with disabilities.

***

Internationally, the World Health Organization (2011) reported that in 2010 there were more than one billion disabled people around the globe

***

And John Hockenberry wonders, “Why aren’t people with disabilities a source of reassurance to the general public that although life is unpredictable and circumstances may be unfavorable, versatility and adaptation are possible; they’re built into the coding of human beings.”

***

Monday, May 21, 2018

This time, baby

Tick, tick, tick, tick on the watch
And life's too short for me to stop
~La Roux


A little dancing this Monday morning with Pomplamoose:



Thursday, May 17, 2018

Poem Your City

There's nothing people like better than being asked an easy question. For some reason, we're flattered when a stranger asks us where Maple Street is in our hometown and we can tell him.
~Andy Rooney



found this when I looked up "hometown"
photo by Hieu Viet Nguyen

A Twitter hashtag from this week -- #PoemYourCity -- resulted in a bunch of wee poems about hometowns. Here are a sampling (I was prone to noticing ones that mentioned writers):

*****

Rev Spunky Blumpkin wrote:

This tag for some will be hard,
However, I'm from Dumfries,
Home of The Bard.
#PoemYourCity
(he included a photo of Robert Burns)

*****

Andy‏ @andymcphalanx 18:

Come and show me another city with lifted head /
singing so proud to be alive and coarse and / strong and cunning.
#poemyourcity has already been done pretty well by Carl Sandburg, I'd say

*****

LisetteInBlue💫‏ @bookgirl8 7:

Here is all you need to know:
We don't have a Trader Joe's.

*****

Jared M. Gordon‏ @JaredMGordon 4:

Consider my city if yours are all flops
I'll be your tipster
But when a city gets two olive oil and vinegar shops
It's reached peak hipster.
#PoemYourCity

*****

Garrett Moe‏ @Garrettmoe 4:

Other cities might be more fabulous
with just cause to walk with a strut
but out here in Indianapolis
at least we had Kurt Vonnegut
#PoemYourCity

*****

Carl Lamy‏ @carllamy 37:

#PoemYourCity
Baltimore, Charm City
The City that Reads
If only the Orioles
Could hold onto a lead
Go O's!

*****

Just Another Pretty Face:

#PoemYourCity
I'd tell you my city,
but witness protection forbids me.

*****

Sloth Reads has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Rebecca!

The Towering Green

When I go out into the countryside and see the sun and the green and everything flowering, I say to myself "Yes indeed, all that belongs to me!"
~Henri Rousseau


Just one today...

The Avenue in the Park at Saint Cloud
by Henri Rousseau







































A Rousseau-inspired ekphrastic poem by me

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Breakfast

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.
― A.A. Milne



Was this a real cereal?

I am a huge fan of le petit dejeuner, so for Wellness Wednesday, I bring you...Breakfast!

In my family, my husband will eat most anything for breakfast, but my kids have definite preferences. For instance, other than cereal, my son likes eggs, sausage or bacon, and grits or oatmeal. My younger daughter likes toad-in-the-hole, waffles, popovers, or crepes. My older daughter likes pancakes, French toast, hash browns, and fruit. One thing that goes over well universally, and is a hit with guests, is quiche.

I started out with the recipe for Easy Broccoli Quiche from Food, Folks, and Fun and tweaked it to suit my needs. I feel like cooking the veg with the onion enhances the flavor (instead of adding the veg raw), but you can do it that way if you want.

Easy Custom Quiche

9-inch store-bought pie crust (I've used regular and gluten-free)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cups vegetables, diced or cut as small as I have time for (broccoli, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, whatever you like)
1/2 cup cooked bacon or sausage, diced (optional)
6 oz. cheese, shredded (cheddar is standard, but don't let that stop you from using your favorite)
4 large eggs
2/3 cup half-and-half (or milk)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic (or more, if you're like me)
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Let pie crust sit at room temp for 10-30 minutes if frozen. Prick crust 25 times with fork. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or until light golden brown.
While pie crust bakes, heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, five minutes or so and then add other vegetables. Cook maybe five or so minutes. Add veg to pie crust, top with meat (if including) and cheese.
In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, yolks, half-and-half, salt, garlic, and pepper until combined. Pour mixture over pie crust. Bake quiche on top of cookie sheet 35-40 minute or until set and a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Move quiche to wire rack and let cool 15 minutes before serving.

What to try next? Here are some I'd like to make. If you make one, let's compare notes.

* Mocha Coffee Cake (Diabetic Living)
* Maple Glazed Pears and Cereal (pretty!) (Also Diabetic Living) (I'm not diabetic, but maybe some of you are, and they look good regardless)
* Dark Chocolate Quinoa Breakfast Bowl (looks great! and they claim it's healthy!)
* Zucchini Bread Oatmeal (am I crazy? this sounds good)
* Banana Peanut Butter Chia Seed Pudding
* Golden Milk (Turmeric Ginger Milk) (an acquired taste?)
* Oatmeal Sconuts (a combo of scones and donuts)
* Egg and Cheese Hash Brown Waffles (I feel like these might not turn out for me, but I'd like to try once)
* Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl
* Banana Pancake Dippers
* Open-Faced Broiled Egg, Spinach, Tomato Sandwich
* Chorizo, Egg and Potato Breakfast Quesadilla with Chipotle Sauce

Monday, May 14, 2018

Keep Me Up

I wrote this song personifying anxiety. It’s a song to anxiety, and was easy to write because it's about what I was feeling in the moment.
~Charlotte Lawrence


If I didn't know it was to anxiety, I would have guessed that it was to a romantic interest. I wonder how many other songs are directed to anxiety (or another emotion/situation/issue) that I've assumed are to a person?



Tips to manage anxiety and stress

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A European excursion

...Who are you? I ? Or really anyone else to judge them?
~R.M. Engelhardt, talking about poetry slams


Poetic fun from the Netherlands, Wales, and the medieval era today.

StAnzaPoetry shared this on Twitter:
At a Dutch poetry slam and they are genuinely voting with tulips.
It gets better: when they were down to two finalists, the audience members gave their tulip to their favourite poet, and the one with the largest bouquet won!

Apparently this is standard in the Netherlands, but normally the flowers are roses.


*******

Did you know that May 14th is Dylan Thomas Day? In Dylan Thomas' radio drama Under Milk Wood, the audience gets a glimpse of the dreams and private thoughts of the inhabitants of a fictional Welsh fishing village called Llareggub ("bugger all" backwards). (Note: "Bugger all" is a rude/informal way to say "nothing")



*******

In addition to celebrations of Dylan Thomas, in Wales you can also find the gravestone of John Renie who died in 1832 at age 33. The gravestone features a 285-letter acrostic puzzle which is reputed to read 'here lies John Renie' in 46,000 different ways.


*******

Our last bit today is about a song of sixpence. Actually THE song of sixpence -- it seems like it's nonsensical, but actually has a grain of truth to it! Here's how it goes, in case you've forgotten:

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing;
Wasn't that a dainty dish,
To set before the king.

The king was in his counting house,
Counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlour,
Eating bread and honey.

The maid was in the garden,
Hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird
And pecked off her nose.

That was the version I knew, but apparently sometimes this ending verses are used:

They sent for the king's doctor,
who sewed it on again;
He sewed it on so neatly,
the seam was never seen.

or:

There was such a commotion,
that little Jenny wren
Flew down into the garden,
and put it back again.


by Alfred Kappes

History Undressed explains that in medieval times, pies were different. They were thicker, and you could bake a crust "pot" and lid and then put live birds (or rabbits, frogs, dogs, or poetry-reciting dwarves) in so they could fly/jump out and entertain your guests. (Some of these "pot pies" must have been enormous!)

*******

Jama's Alphabet Soup has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Jama! Maybe Jama has talked about bird pies before?

Last call for the Summer Poem Swap! I have heard from a lot of people already and am eager to make the chart!

Sky Blue

The sky is everywhere, it begins at your feet.
~Jandy Nelson


Swiss physicist Horace-Bénédict de Saussure was my inspiration for today's post. He made a cyanometer to determine exactly how blue the sky was. Mountain climbers had noticed that the sky became a deeper blue the higher up you went and Saussure wanted to measure it.

"In 1802, [geographer Alexander von] Humboldt took the tool on an ascent of the Andean mountain Chimborazo, where he set a new record, at the 46th degree of blue, for the darkest sky ever measured." (Sarah Laskow, Atlas Obscura)

Cyanometer, 1789
by Horace-Bénédict de Saussure

Groton Long Point, 1910
by Henry Ward Ranger

A Girl Copying a Drawing
by Martin Drolling

“In the year 1533 a horse in the air was seen in Bohemia, and a horseman, as if he wanted to mount it, just as is painted here"
by Augsburger Wunderzeichenbuch, c. 1550


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Bad Advice Wednesday

Don't overreact. For example, if someone inadvertently embarrasses you in public, don't let anger get the best of you. It really isn't necessary to frame the person for a murder he/she didn't commit. Wouldn't it be enough to simply break up his or her marriage instead?
~Anthony Rubino Jr.


Usually for Wellness Wednesday, we consult good advice. Today, we're having Bad Advice Wednesday.


Advice for How to Make Friends as an Adult:
Have an epic quest with someone. Psychology tells us that the stress of a traumatic event bonds people, which makes total sense. Remember how, at the end of “The Goonies,” they were even better chums than before? Get into a “Goonies”-type adventure with some people, if you can swing it. When you hear of someone planning on tinkering with something she bought at a mysterious shop in a back alley, nab an invite. If you both survive, you’ll be tight as all get-out.

(Actually, I am totally on board with tinkering with something bought at a mysterious shop, so if you have one of those, hit me up.)

Kellen Erskine with Bad Grocery Store Advice:



More bad advice:




A Collection of Bad Advice

Some good advice about bad advice:

Avoiding bad advice from your colleagues
Signs that you're getting bad advice
Recognizing bad advice
Seek counsel not advice



Monday, May 7, 2018

Casa di Riposo per Musicisti

Of all my works, that which pleases me the most is the Casa that I had built in Milan to shelter elderly singers who have not been favoured by fortune, or who when they were young did not have the virtue of saving their money. Poor and dear companions of my life!
~Giuseppe Verdi



photo by Paolobon140

The photograph above is of the retirement home Verdi built for elderly opera singers. Isn't it marvelous? Verdi and his wife are buried on the grounds.

There was a movie made about the place:



Clearly I need to see Verdi's La Traviata. I don't understand what's going on here at all, but it is still riveting:



When I was checking to see if I had posted Verdi's music before, I found that I had posted about roses named for him.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Sign up for the Summer Swap

Green was the silence, wet was the light,
the month of June trembled like a butterfly.
~Pablo Neruda


SUMMER POEM SWAP!!

Last year my daughter Elena painted the Summer Poem Swap logo. I used a painting of hers this year, too (a self-portrait). Does that make it a tradition yet?


Want to send someone a poem and receive a poem? It's a fun way to increase the amount of real mail you receive and also to give yourself deadlines. I like a good deadline, myself.

I'm doing the same thing this year as last year -- giving people the option of signing up for up to five swaps. You can pick whatever number you want. Here are the dates so you can decide:

Swap #1: Ends on June 22nd (Send out a poem by then)
Swap #2: Ends on July 6th
Swap #3: Ends on July 20th
Swap #4: Ends on August 3rd
Swap #5: Ends on August 17th

If you realize that you've been thrown a curveball and you can't do a swap you signed up for, please tell me so we can make sure the person you were assigned still gets a poem.

One more summer quote:

Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don't they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.
― Ray Bradbury


*************

We have KINTSUGI WINNERS!

AMY LUDWIG VANDERWATER and LAURA SHOVAN!

Congrats!! I will send each of you your kintsugi kit this week -- let me know if your address has changed!

*************

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

Thor and Loki

“Is there anything more beautiful than gold?” - Freya's question.

Plain-thoughted Thor spoke. “A farm at first light
Is more beautiful than gold, or
A ship's sails in the mist.
Many ordinary things are far more beautiful.”
~George Webbe Dasent


In honor of Avengers: Infinity War, here's Thor and Loki art for Art Thursday.

Ah, what a lovely maid it is! (1902): Thor is unhappily dressed by the goddess Freyja and her attendants as herself
by Elmer Boyd Smith

Thor's Fight with the Giants (1872)
by Mårten Eskil Winge

The Prose Edda recounts that Sif once had her hair shorn by Loki, and that Thor forced Loki to have a golden headpiece made for Sif, resulting in not only Sif's golden tresses but also five other objects for other gods (including Thor's hammer).

Sif (Thor's wife) sleeps while Loki lurks behind (1894)
by A. Chase, Legends of Norseland

Why was Loki bound, left to have a snake drip venom onto his face? The other gods had had enough of his trouble-making! Loki's wife sat next to him with a bowl to catch the venom, only leaving to empty it.


"Held a cup to catch the venomous drops" : Sigyn and Loki
by Arthur Rackham

Sigyn and Loki
By Karl Gebhardt, 1892

Just including this one because she reminded me of Snow White.

Freya and the Dwarves
Illustration by Harry George Theaker, 1920


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Gluten-free tea party


May is Celiac Awareness Month, so for Wellness Wednesday, I'm sharing tips on holding a gluten-free afternoon tea.


Looks great but it's probably not gluten-free
photo by Anna Fox

Scones, sandwiches, and pastries are often gluten-full, so if you want an afternoon tea and you have celiac (or someone in your group does), you will probably have to do it yourself. The good news is -- it's not that hard!

Most black and herbal teas are gluten-free, but occasionally they have barley malt in them -- check the ingredients (and here's a list also). (It seems pretty ironic that Yogi Tea's "Stomach Ease" has barley malt in it.)

So now you've gotten your tea picked out. If you want to make scones yourself, you can use a mix (King Arthur flour makes some good ones) or you can make some from scratch. There are scone recipes which tell you how to make your own gluten-free flour or you can buy it already mixed. I do the latter; it's easier. I have had good luck with all of the ones I've tried (Cup4Cup, King Arthur, Bob's Mill). You can use any scone recipe with them. These Lime-Pineapple Scones are nice, and these White Chocolate Chip Raspberry Scones. With your scones, you'll want some toppings, such as preserves, honey, whipped butter, clotted cream, vanilla or lemon curd.

Okay, let's talk about sandwiches and other savories. You can use gluten-free bread, or you can make sandwich fillings and put them on other things, like cucumber slices, celery sticks, gluten free crackers, gf bagel chips, lettuce leaves. I have also put gluten-free savory foods (like gf meatballs, roasted potatoes, and cherry tomatoes) on mini skewers. Sandwich filling possibilities include crab or shrimp salad, egg salad, chicken salad, broccoli-carrot salad.* I made some wee shepherd's pies that went over well. These spinach brownies are great (use gluten-free flour). Brie on gf crackers with preserves on top is delicious.

For dessert, you can use the gf flour to make any kind of tiny baked goods, such as these cookies made with tea. You can also dip fruit (fresh or dried) in chocolate. One time I put strawberries and marshmallows on little skewers and drizzled them with chocolate. I have also drizzled fruit with rose syrup or jasmine green tea syrup, and I've taken a small silicon ice cube tray and made little chocolate cups which I filled with raspberries in a glaze. I've made spiced nuts and put them in tiny serving dishes next to each plate. Topping apple rounds (sliced whole apples with the center removed) with caramel sauce is yummy. Basically, if you think outside the "flour-based" box, things will start to pop into your mind.


photo by rawpixel.com

On different occasions I have fixed dairy-free teas, kosher teas, nut-free teas, vegetarian teas. Anything is possible if you do a little planning.

If you have additional ideas, feel free to share them, and if you have any questions, please ask! (I don't have celiac, but one of my daughters does and my late father-in-law did.)

* When you are making your savory salads, make sure that your ingredients are gluten-free. For instance, I use Duke's mayonnaise, which is gf, but there are probably some mayos out there that aren't safe. Also, imitation crab can have wheat in it, I think. If you are used to checking ingredients, then you do this already, but if you are making your first gluten-free meal, this could be new for you. Just saying -- trust nothing! Check!