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: