Thursday, May 30, 2019


We dropped our troubles into the lap of the storyteller, and they turned into someone else's.
~Naomi Shihab Nye

Happy Naomi Shihab Nye week! I wrote a poem inspired by The Art of Disappearing, but it needed fixing and I wasn't sure how to fix it. So I tried again, this time inspired by Shoulders. My poem also has a road in it, although they aren't trying to cross:

Dog Walking
by Tabatha Yeatts

The man and dog amble
along a route they've traveled before,
the drooping black leash
only one of many links between them,

and as they turn a corner where
they will head gently uphill,
the dog decides for the first time
to lie down on that spot,

long furry body across the
sidewalk like it was a bed.
The cars at the intersection
continue to stop and go,

but the dog only stops.
The man, still holding
the utterly idle leash,
looks down at the large hairy beast,

and looks up again, scanning
his fellow humans as they walk past
as if seeking someone to help him
with this surprisingly difficult family member

but no one can,
it's just him and his lying-down dog
who has decided that
there will be no more steps

without a break
and here is as good a place
as any other.
The man shrugs and crouches

to ruffle the dog's head
accepting that his plan
has suddenly changed,
his routine remade, and

love is the only constant here.


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

Pickled Beauty

One of the smartest things you can do on 'Chopped' is to take one of those ingredients and make a pickle out of it, because almost every dish benefits from that.
~Ted Allen

Here at Art Thursday, the topic possibilities are endless. I am not sure what made today's subject come to mind, but I have been thinking about food photography because my daughter's boyfriend and I are working on a low histamine cookbook (which will not include pickled items, as vinegar is out of bounds for my daughter's low histamine diet).

Have you tried pickled vegetables other than cucumber? Have you tried pickled fruits? You can pickle anything (as the links at the bottom will explain).

Gulerødder og bolsjebeder med estragon og æbleeddike
By cyclonebill from Copenhagen, Denmark

Skansen w Sierpcu
By MOs810

Views around Teyrawa Bazaar in Erbil
By Levi Clancy

Melothria scabra frais mis dans un bocal en vue d'être lactofermenté
By Corey Ryan Hanson

Barrels of Pickles, circa 1945
By OSU Special Collections & Archives

Kostroma Market 14 Pickles
By michael clarke stuff

Marv med syltede grøntsager
By cyclonebill

How to Pickle Anything
A Formula for Perfectly Pickled Fruits and Veg
6 Quick Pickle Recipes with Fruit

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Bridging gaps

Follow your dreams, they know the way.
~Kobe Yamada

My second-cousin-in-law gave this TEDx talk, which seemed like good Wellness Wednesday food for thought. The beginning is a little cut off (it's not you, it's the recording):

Monday, May 27, 2019

National Poetry Month printables collection

The National Poetry Month printables from April 2019 are collected here. There's also a literary Take One poster down below, plus an Infinity Breath printable.



In the past I've featured fictional characters' favorite poems and poems about imaginary places. This year, I'm offering FREE poetry printables.

Kicking things off is a pdf for Poetry in the Halls featuring poems by Linda Baie, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes, Robyn Hood Black, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Matt Forrest Esenwine, Charles Ghigna, Mary Lee Hahn, Michelle Kogan, Irene Latham, JoAnn Early Macken, Diane Mayr, O.V. Michaelsen, Heidi Mordhorst, Christina Rossetti, Masaoka Shiki, and me.

Print out these ledger-sized poems and put them up in your school hallways, library, or other poetry-inviting place! Laminate them if you can :-) Came back later to say: Just saw them mounted on colored construction paper and they look great that way, too!

Addendum: I forgot that I have a Poetry in the Halls response form! I've been coordinating this program in various elementary, middle, and high schools for maybe a dozen years now and some years we had prizes for responses. You might want to have the kids respond without giving prizes. Here's the link to the form. (If you want the doc. file so you can change it, email me.)



Where is Peace? was inspired by writing a month of peace poems in February. When you are writing one a day, you wind up thinking about peace from many angles.

Where is peace? What does peace feel like? Is it where we feel safe, is it helping others? Can we find it in nature? Can we make it ourselves? With this printable, I imagine that a class could take a few minutes to make the mini-book and then write their own peace poem. I'm hoping that the printable will free them to find peace in many places.

Where is peace? poetry printable

First, cut off the white spaces around the edges. Then, follow along with this video:

(You can also visit this video by Sylvia Vardell)



Do you remember Greg Pincus's fibs? In 2006, Greg popularized Fibonacci poems a.k.a. "Fibs": six-line poems which use the Fibonacci sequence to dictate the number of syllables in each line (1-1-2-3-5-8).

The Fibonacci sequence is a mathematical pattern in which the first two numbers are zero and one. To figure out the next number in the sequence, you always add the two previous numbers. So it goes like this:

0+1= 1
1+1= 2
1+2= 3
2+3= 5
3+5= 8
5+8= 13
13+8= 21
and it just keeps going.

You don't have to stop at 6 lines -- you can have a 7th line with 13 syllables, an 8th line with 21 syllables, etc., or you can make your Fib longer by going back down (i.e. 1-1-2-3-5-8-5-3-2-1-1).

The Grammar Fib printable includes grammar-themed fibs and space to write your own:

Grammar Fibs printable



When I was looking up what teachers' favorite printables are, "blank newsletter template" came up. I wondered how to make that poetry-related and came up with The Poetry Times.

My idea was that students could interview one another, either about their experience of being poets or about their favorite poems. There could also be guest interviewees, such as librarians, principals, P.E. teachers, etc. answering questions about their favorite poems.

If students have already been writing poetry in class, you're set. If they've already been reading poetry in class, same thing. If they haven't, you can take your class on a reading excursion to the school library or you can bring poetry books into your classroom. The students could explore the books, looking for potential favorite poems. I'm including a printable "favorites list" worksheet so they can take notes about their potential favorites as they are searching. (If you have poetry up in your halls, you could take the class on a "field trip" to read those!) After the students have lists, they can interview each other and write up their responses in their own newsletter.

Here is The Poetry Times collection:

* The Poetry Times template (The top section of the newsletter can include a poem, an illustration, and/or a drawing of a book cover. The other two sections are for interviews, but do what you like!)
* Student Poet interview form (Generally for students interviewing their fellow students about their experiences as poets, but they can also use the forms to interview the teacher.)
* Favorite Poem interview form (with figurative language info on the back)
* Potential Favorites List worksheet

Speaking of illustrations, if you would ever like to use Poetry Monster images for your projects, the gallery is here.



"Take One" or "Take What You Need" posters are fun, they're cheerful, they're something a little out-of-the-ordinary. (You can have anything you want on them. I've seen posters that just say, "Have you seen this poster?" and all the little slips at the bottom say, "yes.")

Once they have been printed out, the little sections at the bottom need to be cut apart so people can easily take one. Then the top can be taped to a wall or stapled/push pinned to a bulletin board or any place you'd put a flyer.

Take What You Need: Literary Edition



for practicing relaxing breaths.

A Song for You

What I can do for my country, I am willing to do.
~Christopher Gadsden

For Memorial Day, I am tempted to share "Take Care of This House" again because in my heart, I'm still sounding the alarm. Let's mix it up, though, with a song that Whitney Houston sang for returning soldiers. There are a lot of great versions of this song. I'm going with Donny Hathaway:

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Unknown until it is finished

My parents elected me president of the family when I was 4. We actually had an election every year, and I always won. I'm an only child, and I could count on my mother's vote.
~Condoleezza Rice

I wonder what Condoleeza did as president? Did she offer longer recess? I'm an only child, but we never had elections. Hope you enjoy this excerpt of "Only Child" by Dennis Nurkse. Click the link to read the rest.

Only Child
by D. Nurkse


In the park the child says:
watch me. It will not count
unless you see. And she shows me
the cartwheel, the skip, the tumble,
the tricks performed at leisure in midair,
each unknown until it is finished.

read the rest here


More by D. Nurkse:
The Chime
Psalm to Be Read with Closed Eyes

Doing the Work that Matters has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Dani!


If you hit a wrong note, then make it right by what you play afterwards…
~Joe Pass

Sometimes when I am at a classical music concert, I will look at the double basses and wonder which color I would pick if I played. I never can decide. What is your favorite?

Duo Feuerholz: Angela Stummer/harp and Thomas Stempkowski/double bass (Vienna, Austria)
photo by Manfred Werner (Tsui)

1957 H.N. White King Mortone Double Bass with Original Blonde Finish
photo by David Price

Bass viol, Barak Norman, 1713, Museu de la Música de Barcelona
photo by Enfo

Contrabass, Cellos, Deutsches Museum
photo by Andrew Plumb

photo by Luisalvaz

Bass, Mexico
photo by Rod Waddington

More quotes:

Flea: The most incredible thing about the upright bass—the few times I’ve played one—is the way you can feel the whole thing vibrate when you have it up against your body. It’s like your body is resonating with the instrument. It’s a very fulfilling feeling.

Charlie Haden: It is! That’s why I stand so close to the instrument when I play. I put my head next to it. One night in 1959 I was playing at the Five Spot with Ornette, Don Cherry, and Billy Higgins, and I always play with my eyes closed—but I opened my eyes, and there was some guy onstage with his ear next to my ƒ-hole. And I was like, “Who is this guy?” And Ornette was like, “That’s Leonard Bernstein!” And I was like, “Okay . . . .”

Wednesday, May 22, 2019


Singing is like a celebration of oxygen.

Hi folks! I wasn't sure I was going to be able to post today...I have been getting a lot of input and wasn't sure I could manage any output. In other words, I'm overstimulated and having a hard time concentrating. Then I thought I could tell you about a couple of things we've done lately.

For Elena's high school graduation, we sent out some blank advice cards with her announcements. They weren't completely blank -- they said things like,
"Be prepared to _____________"
"Always keep _______________"
"Don't be afraid to ____________"
It has been such fun getting them back! I included self-addressed stamped envelopes to make it easier to reply (and we only sent them to people we thought would want to do it because we didn't want to pressure anybody.)

On Dash's birthday, he was overseas and couldn't really receive presents because he was worried about being able to fit them in his suitcase (and he was going to be home the following week anyway). I didn't want to not send him anything, though, so we made a special birthday e-card. First, we made signs that each had a different word of a birthday message. Then various family members went the schools he's attended (starting with preschool!) to take photos of themselves with the signs. He didn't realize it, but his girlfriend also took a picture of herself with him in the background, so he got to be on his own card :-)

I am pretty into celebrating and it has caught on with our kids. For instance, we pick a theme for each person's birthday. My husband's birthday theme this year was The Blues Brothers, which was fun. We had a Blues Brothers concert poster up, a sign that said, "We're on a mission from God," a t-shirt for Ray's Music Exchange, a key from the Plymouth Hotel, a mini Bluesmobile, etc. Picking themes that aren't things you could find at Party City forces us be inventive.

That's all I've got for now! If you have any ideas, please share :-)

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Well-nigh in the clouds

If I were going to prom again, I would wear a huge skirt and plain cotton tank. A big, poofy, flotation-device-sized skirt. I wish I had done that.
~Leandra Medine

Happy Poetry Friday! I tried to find a poem that matched what is going on in our household (This weekend one of my kids is going to prom and one is coming home from a semester in Germany). There is a surprising dearth of poems about prom. I did find this video, which mixes dance and Germany, calling itself a "cinematic poem":

I love this poem by Jan Wagner, translated from German by Iain Galbraith:


make yourself heavier, they call. i close
both eyes, thinking
of sacks of cement, iron foundries
and elephants, an anchor sinking

in deep mud while a fleet of whales
manoeuvres above it, an anvil’s
bullish head. for a while
i hold my breath and wait. to no avail:

read the rest here

Two more:
TEA-BAG by Jan Wagner
QUINCES by Jan Wagner


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


Do you have hands? Excellent. That's a good start. Can you hold a pencil? Great. If you have a sketchbook, open it and start by making a line, a mark, wherever. Doodle.
~Chris Riddell

Images from Hamonshu: A Japanese Book of Wave and Ripple Designs (1903) for Art Thursday. These seem like they could be good for doodling or zentangles (should I capitalize "zentangle"?).

A couple of posts that mention Zentangles (I'm capitalizing it this time, just in case).

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Being the other half

When you're on stage, the audience becomes your other half.
~Laura Branigan

For Wellness Wednesday, enjoying watching people do what they love:

Goldstar, discount tickets to live events
TodayTix, for last minute tickets
The music in the video above is by Stromae

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Good and the Bad

Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your hearth or burn down your house, you can never tell.
~Joan Crawford

In my apparently ongoing "songs from the radio" series, we have Good As You by Kane Brown, and a bonus that wasn't on the radio but Elena played for me while we were in the car:

Lake Street Dive:

Thursday, May 9, 2019

The baton has given the signal

Happy Poetry Friday! I don't often have my act together enough to talk about holidays in a timely way. And today is no exception. I wanted to show you how to make poetry-themed tea bags because I thought they might be a pretty Mother's Day gift, but I don't have any coffee filters to make a sample one. Here's what they look like (minus the theoretical poetry I was going to have):

I didn't make these!
This image is from the instructions page.

Moving on to a couple of poems, plus a reminder that this is your last chance to sign up for the Summer Poetry Swap.


“lands” from Salt
by Nayyirah Waheed

My mother was
my first country,
The first place I
ever lived.


excerpt of To Think of Time from Leaves of Grass
by Walt Whitman

It is not to diffuse you that you were born of your mother and father,
it is to identify you,

It is not that you should be undecided, but that you should be decided,
Something long preparing and formless is arrived and form'd in you,
You are henceforth secure, whatever comes or goes.

The threads that were spun are gather'd, the weft crosses the warp,
the pattern is systematic.

The preparations have every one been justified,
The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton
has given the signal.

The guest that was coming, he waited long, he is now housed,
He is one of those who are beautiful and happy, he is one of those
that to look upon and be with is enough.


The Poetry Friday round-up is at Elizabeth Steinglass's blog. Thanks, Liz!

The Proper Art of Writing

Calligraphy is the art of putting the brush on paper properly and then accurately removing it.

For Art Thursday, pages from the German book The Proper Art of Writing (1655). The full title is The Proper Art of Writing: a compilation of all sorts of capital or initial letters of German, Latin and Italian fonts from different masters of the noble art of writing. As you can see, they are often more interestingly intricate than they are legible!

The Proper Art of Writing:

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

To Do

The project may be the lion, but the list is your whip.
~Adam Savage

Talking about a subject dear to my heart this week for Wellness Wednesday: the to-do list. I am a huge fan. (Personal quirk: I tend to send myself emails, reminding myself about what I should be doing, and then I compile them into a list. I generally sort messages from other people quickly, so I wind up having a bunch of messages from myself in my primary in-box.) My to-do list keeps me from forgetting things, and it's so satisfying to draw a line through a completed task. Want to make a list AFTER you've done something, just so you can have the pleasure of crossing those things off? Have at it! Enjoy your to-do list, I say.

Belle Beth Cooper wrote a useful article about having success with your to-do lists which includes this graphic:

I have seen people of all ages get overwhelmed by big tasks and put off starting them -- the point Cooper makes about breaking big jobs down into smaller tasks for your list is an important one. It really helps make the big stuff more manageable. Baby steps!

I keep my lists very basic. Maybe you would like print some fancier ones?

* A to-do list with priorities and loves, among other things
* This one has two to a page
* A selection of printable to-do lists

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Poems about Poets

Every individual ought to know at least one poet from cover to cover: if not as a guide through the world, then as a yardstick for the language.
~Joseph Brodsky

Have you written a poem about or inspired by another poet? Send me the link and I'll add it to the list!

James Arthur:

High Plains Wind by Mary Lee Hahn

William Stanley Braithwaite:

The Gift of Dawn by Molly Hogan

Jimmy Carter:

President-Poet by Tabatha Yeatts

Billy Collins:

At the First Light of Day by Jone Rush MacCulloch
Imaginary Billy and I Discuss the Founding Documents by Tabatha Yeatts
Our Ship by Margaret Simon
Thoughts from Beside my Mother's Hospital Bed by Mary Lee Hahn

Adelaide Crapsey:

A Cinquain for Adelaide Crapsey by Elizabeth Steinglass

E.E. Cummings:

under the influence by Cheriee Weichel

Emily Dickinson:

Dickinson's Garden by Ariana Yeatts-Lonske
If Dickinson Had a Daughter by Brenda Davis Harsham
To Make a Forest by Mary Lee Hahn

Robert Frost:

Happy Birthday to Robert Frost by Brenda Davis Harsham
Nothing Gold by Mary Lee Hahn

Albert Garcia:

August Afternoon by Carol Varsalona

Seamus Heaney:

Poetry’s Power by Alice Nine

Gerard Manley Hopkins:

Glory by Sara Lewis Holmes

Lee Bennett Hopkins:

Don't Ask a Hopkinsaurus by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
Two poems (Crows and DEET-ed Tick) by Alice Nine

Langston Hughes:

Your Embrace by Alice Nine


If Truth Be Told by Mary Lee Hahn

Kathy Jetnel-Kijiner and Aka Niviâna:

Sister of Sea and Sand/Sister of Snow and Ice by Michelle Kogan

Karla Kuskin:

Autumn That Was Put Into Words (And Pictures) by Linda Baie

Pat Miller

Remarkably Aria by Kimberly Hutmacher

Naomi Shihab Nye:

Children of the World by Brenda Davis Harsham
Golden Shovels by Jone Rush MacCulloch
In Robyn's Dawn Chorale by Christie Wyman
Letters by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
Mother Nature by Michelle Kogan

Mary Oliver:

A Misty Mary Morning by Margaret Simon
Box Full of Darkness by Ruth Hersey
Mary Oliver Reminds Me by Brenda Davis Harsham
With Thanks to the Unknown Bird, Whose Nest is so Carefully Constructed by Molly Hogan

Rainer Maria Rilke:

On Rilke’s Poetry by Brenda Davis Harsham

Dr. Seuss:

On Seuss’s Different Colored Days by Brenda Davis Harsham

William Carlos Williams:

A Lazy Symphony by Mary Lee Hahn
So Much Depends Upon by Margaret Simon
This is Just to Say by Sally Murphy


Don't forget to sign up for the Summer Poetry Swap!

Jama's Alphabet Soup has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Jama!

Wrocław's Dwarves

All dwarfs have beards and wear up to twelve layers of clothing.
~Terry Pratchett

Public art from Poland today. Here's a bit of background from the BBC:

The Cheeky Gnomes Taking Over by Eliot Stein (excerpt):
Twee as they may be, each statue is actually a nod to the Orange Alternative, an anti-Soviet resistance movement born in Wrocław that used dwarves as its symbol and helped topple Poland’s oppressive communist regime in the 1980s.

Armed with spray cans and led by an artist at the University of Wrocław named Waldemar ‘Major’ Fydrych, the group peacefully protested the government’s censorship of free speech and public gatherings during the period of martial law from 1981 to 1983 by defacing communist propaganda with surrealist-inspired street art – specifically, paintings of mischievous little gnomes.

“It was a terrible, dangerous time. You couldn’t go out on the streets at night and there were tanks and soldiers in the main square,” said Arkadiusz Förster, a journalist for Poland’s national Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. “The dwarves gave us something to laugh at, and that was the whole idea: to show how absurd the situation was and encourage people not to be afraid.”

Bardie (Barduś) dwarf on Solidarności
by Beata Zwolańska-Hołod
photo by Bonio

Dialogomir (Dialogomir) dwarf from Solny square
by Grzegorz Łagowski
photo by Pnapora

Tooth-dwarf on Krakowska 26
by Beata Zwolańska-Hołod
photo by Pnapora

Bubble-spiller (Bąbelek Chlapuś) dwarf on plac Grunwaldzki 22
by Marcin Łuczkowski
photo by Pnapora

Shomol (Szomol) dwarf from National Forum of Music on Krupnicza
by Marta Mirynowska
photo by Pnapora

More images of Wrocław's dwarves
In Your Pocket on Gnomenclature: Wrocław's Gnomes

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Charles and Emma

A young man once asked [Charles' brother Erasmus Darwin] in, as he thought, an offensive manner, whether he did not find stammering very inconvenient. He answered, 'No, Sir, it gives me time for reflection, and saves me from asking impertinent questions.'
~Charles Darwin

I just finished Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman. It was just the right book for me during this chaotic time (Elena has laryngitis; Ariana had to go to the ER again for anaphylaxis) -- easy to pick up and put down, engaging, charming. I like hearing about naturalist-related stuff, so it was up my alley.

I'm mentioning this book for Wellness Wednesday because maybe you need that kind of book for your reading pleasure and also because:

"...In a sense you might say that Charles and Emma Darwin were each sleeping with the enemy [due to their conflicting beliefs]. But they were not enemies. They were the best of friends, and their story is an inspiration. They had ten children. They lost three...The problem of faith and religion and the afterlife in some ways only grew larger as they confronted those tragedies and faced the chasm at the end of life. And yet together they triumphed."
~Jonathan Weiner

People being respectful of their differences? Imagine that!