Thursday, January 17, 2019

The fortitude of eyelashes

I have an extra set of eyelashes because you never know. I could cry or laugh, or it could be windy, and I'll need a standby pair.
~Niecy Nash

Long Eyelashes by Luca Sbardella

Hi folks! I wrote this poem in kind of a funny way (for me) in that I started with the title, and then wrote it gradually over the course of a week. I am posting it here partly to stop myself from continuing to fiddle with it.

The fortitude of eyelashes
by Tabatha Yeatts

the atmosphere of the soft planet of our eyes
extends as far as our vision: the low-lying cloud smudges

on spectacles giving way to the clear skies of the stratosphere:
the table, the chairs, the bird hiding in her nest, the squirrel

sitting on the fence, the tree branch leaning to almost scratch
the window, the pine needles arrayed around the branch

like so many resolute eyelashes-- you won't catch them
lying down on the job. No matter what the world

of your eyes has seen, if its orbit has swirled past
burning winds and eruptions that turn its moons

to rubble, asteroids that your eyelashes
must buffer against -- even if they are sentries

for a bloodshot, brokenhearted planet,
the eyelashes are still on duty.

their only weapons--
their willingness to shield,

their constancy in pointing the way,
always scanning ahead,

the way they never leave
until their watch is over

and they fall, alone,
blown, floating --

their last gift:
a wish.


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

Like everyone, I am touched by Mary Oliver's passing. Although I don't usually share poems on Wednesdays, I shared one of hers this Wednesday.


The man who pauses on the paths of treason,
Halts on a quicksand, the first step engulfs him.
~ Aaron Hill

My first idea for this Art Thursday was "traitors," but I found that it was a little tough to come up with enough art so I branched out to include people who sponsor treason (and protesters).

Kiss of Judas
by Giotto di Bondone

Benedict Arnold
Copy of engraving by H. B. Hall after John Trumbull, published 1879

Meanwhile In America...
by Greg Auerbach

Russian support for Donald Trump at the Twitter/Facebook Election Carnival 2016 Studios

The Psychos
photo by Matt Brown

Pussy Riot performing a song against Vladimir Putin in the Christ Savior Cathedral
The Prayer, a.powers-fudyma

Protest for Russian Journalist Anna Politkovskaya (murdered, 2006)
photo by Amnesty Finland

Russian Authorities Order the Destruction of a Digital Artwork
The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen
A bit about Putin's Russia by Anna Politkovskaya
Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice by Bill Browder
The Apprentice: Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy by Greg Miller

Nemo unquam sapiens proditori credendum putavit.
No wise man ever thought that a traitor should be trusted.
~ Cicero

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Getting started

There is nothing stable in the world; uproar's your only music.
~John Keats

by D

excerpt from The Fourth Sign of the Zodiac

I know, you never intended to be in this world.
But you’re in it all the same.

so why not get started immediately.

I mean, belonging to it.
There is so much to admire, to weep over.

And to write music or poems about.

Bless the feet that take you to and fro.
Bless the eyes and the listening ears.
Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste.
Bless touching.

You could live a hundred years, it’s happened.
Or not.
I am speaking from the fortunate platform
of many years,
none of which, I think, I ever wasted.
Do you need a prod?
Do you need a little darkness to get you going?
Let me be urgent as a knife, then,
and remind you of Keats,
so single of purpose and thinking, for a while,
he had a lifetime.

~Mary Oliver

Monday, January 14, 2019

Otava Yo

It was his nature to blossom into song, as it is a tree’s to leaf itself in April.
~Alexander Smith

Playful songs by Otava Yo to wake you up this Music Monday:

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Hands I do not know

As far as we could tell, the face of the revolution was a sea of embroidering women, patiently waiting the resignation of their repressive governor.
~Diana Denham

One more quote!
She was passionate about knitting because it allowed her to reach a state of peacefulness, and she loved to embroider because it let her express her creativity. Both activities were liberating. They allowed her to exist outside of time.
~Laura Esquivel

I posted embroidery yesterday for Art Thursday, and I'm following up with this poem for Poetry Friday. Sadly, Hazel Hall, who had scarlet fever as a child and needed a wheelchair thereafter, only lived to age 38.

by Hazel Hall (1886-1924)

MY hands that guide a needle
    In their turn are led
Relentlessly and deftly,
    As a needle leads a thread.

Other hands are teaching
    My needle; when I sew
I feel the cool, thin fingers
    Of hands I do not know.

They urge my needle onward,
    They smooth my seams, until
The worry of my stitches
    Smothers in their skill.

All the tired women,
    Who sewed their lives away,
Speak in my deft fingers
    As I sew today.


Kathryn Apel has the Poetry Friday round-up today. Thanks, Kat!


I have a profound interest in embroidery, as I have female ancestors on both sides who embroidered their way through great trials.
~Emil Ferris

My younger daughter discovered recently that she likes embroidering. She embroidered two presents for her grateful sister and now she is excited to embroider all the things.

It would take a while to work up to any of these projects (and she would need to have a lot of time to do them!):

Portugal, circa 1845

Men's coat, probably England

Portugal, circa 1825

Wall hanging

Chinese Dragon at Mystic Seaport

photo by Rusty Clark

Four Roundels, China, late 19th century

photo by Rick Semple

Embroidery tutorials
How to Embroider (Martha Stewart)
(Isn't punctuation great? Without parentheses, it's How to Embroider Martha Stewart, which is probably also a thing)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Connections and Comfort

How good it feels to be fed!
~Janet Reich Elsbach

You might not be surprised to hear that I asked for a number of books for Christmas. One of them was Extra Helping: Recipes for Caring, Connecting, and Building Community One Dish at a Time by Janet Reich Elsbach. I like "reading" cookbooks no matter what they are, but this one is especially meant to be read. Elsbach writes comforting commentary before each section, which covers cooking for people who have had babies, moved, been sick, or lost someone, plus "food for cheer, distraction, and celebration," "food for a crowd," and "food for lunch boxes and care packages." I marked "Life is Upside-Down Cake" as something I'd like to try myself (is it okay to make something for yourself out of a cookbook like this? Let's say it is.)

Another thing that caught my eye (but I don't have plans to make any time soon, knock on wood) is a koliva, a Greek dish eaten at memorials, such as on the ninth day after a death. Elsbach was brought one after her sister died, and she says that the food gifts from that time "made indelible impressions." "Each one was a strand in the rope that tethered me to the land of the living and together they eventually pulled me to my feet again, altered but upright." A beautifully-put reason to try to be present when someone is in need.

Elsbach notes that it's best not to say, "If there's anything I can do, just let me know" because often nothing comes of that. If you can, offer to bring a meal on a certain day, or ask if they need anything from the store, or if they need a ride somewhere, or if they could use having their library books returned, or what-have-you. I know I have said that generic statement before but in the future, I will try to be more specific.

Back to kolivas. Elsbach explains:
"Seeds, sweetness, and spices were beautifully arranged in the bowl she presented, adorned with blossoms though it was deep winter. The notion, she said, is to take in the seeds in the name of the departed. Once consumed, you carry on the spirit of that person, whom you offer eternal life through your continued existence, I reckon, until someone eats a koliva for you, and on, and on.

Very poetic, isn't it? Here's a recipe:
Greek Kolyva (Koliva) Wheat Berry Memorial Food

A bowl of koliva by Goran Andjelic

In the celebratory chapter, Elsbach talks about making teeny cakes. She says, "Making a teeny cake is far less daunting for the maker than a grand creation that is destined to serve a crowd, and even if the thing turns out ever so slightly wonky, it is likely to charm." I think she's right, and will certainly make one sometime. Yesterday, we had a cupcakes for my older daughter's birthday. To meet her dietary restrictions, it had to be gluten-free and low-histamine. I used King Arthur gluten-free muffin mix (she knows the amount of sugar in it is doable for her) and added blueberries and coconut milk, and made a vanilla frosting with toasted coconut. It was tasty enough to want to eat even if you didn't have a bunch of dietary constraints.

Food restrictions can pose a daunting dilemma, but I encourage you and salute you in your efforts.

Is there a dish you always bring for special occasions like births, deaths, moves?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Thunder and Lightning Winter

[Bach] died of a stroke (after an unsuccessful eye operation) in 1750, at the age of 65, and was buried in an unmarked grave.
~Chris Zimmerman

This is the wrong time of year for thunder and lightning (it's usually performed in March or April -- Good Friday), but I liked it with the poem, so here it is:

Bach Winter
by Jane Mead

Bach must have known—how
something flutters away when you turn
to face the face you caught sideways
in a mirror, in a hall, at dusk—

and how the smell of apples in a bowl
can stop the heart for an instant,
between sink and stove,
in the dead of winter when stars

of ice have spread across the windows
and everything is perfectly still
until you catch the sound of something
lost and shy beating its wings.

And then: music.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Makers, Gatherers, Melters of Frost

The word poet, which has been in use in English for more than 600 years, comes from the Greek word poiētēs, itself from poiein, meaning "to make." The word also shares an ancestor with the Sanskrit word cinoti, meaning "he gathers, heaps up."
~Merriam-Webster Dictionary

When the frost has melted
by Peter Shanks

A poem by Zen Poet Ryokan Taigu (1758–1831) about letting go:

Though Frosts come down
by Ryokan

Though frosts come down
night after night,
what does it matter?
they melt in the morning sun.
Though the snow falls
each passing year,
what does it matter?
with spring days it thaws.
Yet once let them settle
on a man’s head,
fall and pile up,
go on piling up –
then the new year
may come and go,
but never you’ll see them fade away

translated by Burton Watson


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

A Winter's Walk

Throughout their fifty-year-long friendship, Abbéma would paint Bernhardt’s portrait numerous times, and would serve as her companion and confidante until Bernhardt’s death in 1923.
~Bill Rau

Sharing just one painting today.

An elegant woman, said to be Sarah Bernhardt, on a winter's walk
by Louise Abbéma (French, 1858–1927)

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Vision Boards

Hope dreams into being what is possible but not yet formed.
~Sharon Weil

Happy 2019!

I wasn't going to post anything today because I'm short on time, but then I thought about vision boards...I made one for the first time yesterday and really enjoyed it. Maybe you'd like to give it a try? You can find tips here (but I would encourage you to ultimately just do whatever pleases you):

The Chopra Center's Vision Board 101
Vision Boards (Pinterest)
Artful Parent: Make a Vision Board

The supplies I used: a sturdy piece of paper (printmaking paper), rubber cement, scissors, and a bunch of old calendars, magazines, catalogs. I thought about what I wanted to strive for and attract this year, and cut out pictures that represented those things. I'd read that it's a good idea to leave space and not cover every square inch of your paper, which felt good even though it was the opposite of what I would have done without that recommendation.