Thursday, November 28, 2019

Giving Thanks

Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard.
~Fra Giovanni Giocondo, attributed

Rerun time! This post is from 2013.

Andi at A Wrung Sponge wrote about Giving Thanks: Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving, which was compiled by Katherine Paterson and illustrated by Pamela Dalton. I bought it immediately -- what a visually and spiritually lovely book!

Paterson shares this prayer attributed to Father Giovanni Giocondo, circa 1433-1515:

I salute you! There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much, that, while I cannot give, you can take.

No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take Heaven.

No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant. Take Peace.

The gloom of the world is but a shadow, behind it, yet, within our reach, is joy. Take Joy.

And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.


Wendell Berry again, Tabatha? Yes...

When I rise up
by Wendell Berry

When I rise up
let me rise up joyful
like a bird

When I fall
let me fall without regret
like a leaf.


Wee Words for Wee Ones has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Bridget!

Gifts (repeat)

Finding happiness should not be seen as finding a needle in a haystack. Happiness is within...Therefore, finding happiness should be like finding a gift in a stack of gifts.
~Steve Maraboli

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm dipping into my archives during this holiday season. This post is from 2012:


I've been working on the PTA Reflections arts program all week. This year's theme is "The Magic of a Moment," so I have enjoyed seeing the many ways that students interpret magic moments. They unwrap them like gifts, great and small.

No student art to share today, but when I put this week's post together, I was inspired by the Reflections theme:

And a New Story Started
by Hamed Saber

Hope on Blue
by Meena Kadri

Something Sweet
by Milena Mihaylova

Doctor Who Adventures
by Thomas Leuthard

Buddha in the Jungle Highlands
by Trey Ratcliff

Chinese Aviatrix Receives Gift Of New Plane From Colonel Roscoe Turner, Washington, D.C. [1939]
shared by Ralph Repo

Paralympians Jaroslav Hadrava and Rene Taus celebrate
by Gaël Marziou

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


Soothing touch, whether it be applied to a ruffled cat, a crying infant, or a frightened child, has a universally recognized power to ameliorate the signs of distress. How can it be that we overlook its usefulness on the jangled adult as well?
~Deane Juhan

My Australian friend Kat was here last week and she had congested sinuses, so I suggested that she do the "Drop Ya Head" video (as I think of it). It was helpful enough for Kat that she asked me for the link so she could do it again as needed. I thought maybe someone else might find an acupressure theme useful for Wellness Wednesday. (Keep in mind that acupressure shouldn't be done over open wounds, bruises, varicose veins, or any area that is bruised or swollen.)

The video I showed Kat:

Some points from 3 Easy-To-Reach Self-Acupressure Points by Cheri Haines:
• Let your body and your points be your guide. Don’t get hung up on exact point locations... [you can] simply massage around the point area. You could even try, as you massage, to narrow in on a particular spot over time.

• When you find your spot, you don’t need much pressure. What you want to focus on is the angle. To experiment with this, when you get to the spot or point, try pivoting your finger a little to the right, left, up or down to achieve your optimal sensation.

• Find time for you. You don’t need a lot of time to practice self-acupressure—just five minutes or so can be very effective.
A little selection of acupressure videos. Please use with caution based on your own specific health concerns!

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Same Heartbeat

We're living for the same dreams
We got the same bloodstream
~Imagine Dragons

Imagine Dragons for Music Monday:

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Cranberries, Gingko, and Thyme

Cranberry sauce may be a Turkey Day staple, but it wasn’t available in a can until 1912, when a lawyer named Marcus L. Urann got the idea to buy a cranberry bog and can cranberries. He eventually formed a cranberry cooperative that renamed itself Ocean Spray. By 1940, cranberry sauce had become the jiggly, canned log beloved (and argued over) by millions of Americans.
~Erin Blakemore, Smithsonian magazine

Credit: Kent Mason

I didn't write a poem about cranberries (for Becky's prompt) but I did find this poem by Carl Sandburg. Helga was his daughter.

by Carl Sandburg

THE WISHES on this child's mouth
Came like snow on marsh cranberries;
The tamarack kept something for her;
The wind is ready to help her shoes.
The north has loved her; she will be
A grandmother feeding geese on frosty
Mornings; she will understand
Early snow on the cranberries
Better and better then.


A poem by World War II veteran Howard Nemerov that takes place in late November:

The Consent
by Howard Nemerov

Late in November, on a single night
Not even near to freezing, the ginkgo trees
That stand along the walk drop all their leaves
In one consent, and neither to rain nor to wind
But as though to time alone: the golden and green
Leaves litter the lawn today, that yesterday
Had spread aloft their fluttering fans of light.

What signal from the stars? What senses took it in?

read the rest here


This xkcd comic seemed almost like a poem to me.

The Time Before and After Land:


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


If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.
~Loran Eisely

Aquamanilia (or aquamaniles) for Art Thursday. An aquamanile is a pitcher-type vessel that usually contained water for washing hands as part of upper-class meals or the Christian Eucharist. (The word itself means "water" and "hands.")

Bronze aquamanile in the form of a mounted knight
Germany, 1200s
Metropolitan Museum of Art
photo by Postdlf

Aquamanile in the Form of a Unicorn
German, circa 1425 –50
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Aquamanile featuring Aristotle and Phyllis
First half of the 15th century
photo by Vassil

Samson Aquamanile
12th century
photo by FA2010

Valle della mosa, acquamanile a forma di uccello fantastico, 1150-1200 ca.
photo by I, Sailko

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can't utter.
~James Earl Jones

This week's topic was inspired by Austin Kleon (although I should have thought of it sooner myself!). Austin wrote:
It really helped me as a parent [of someone who stutters] (and a human and an artist) when I learned about neurodiversity from books like Steve Silberman’s Neurotribes and Andrew Solomon’s Far From The Tree. In his essay “Stammer Time,” journalist Barry Yeoman writes about how he thinks his stuttering makes him better at his job and how he and other stutterers are starting to feel that fluent speech is overrated.

Tips from the When I Stutter (the movie) site:

While there is no cure for stuttering, there are many approaches and philosophies that can help. The aspect of ACTIVE LISTENING is an element that should be employed when talking to a person who stutters. Interrupting a person who stutters or even finishing their sentence is, often times, not helpful and undesired. Just conveying that you are there to listen is GREATLY appreciated.

Finding a good speech therapist can also be helpful in one's journey. There are several to choose from and you should investigate which approach aligns with your communication goals. To find a speech-language pathologist press HERE.

The role of support groups such as the National Stuttering Association (NSA) can also be extremely beneficial in that they offer people who stutter the chance to share their experiences with other individuals who understand. The feeling that "you are not alone" becomes evident and can be life-altering. To find out more about the NSA and other organizations that support people who stutter press HERE
More resources:

* Books on Stuttering, includes sections on children's, adult, professional, Spanish, and French (The Stuttering Foundation)
* Popular Stuttering Books (GoodReads)
* How to Respond if Your Child Stutters (Scholastic)
* The King's Speech

Monday, November 18, 2019


“It is a very beautiful day. The woman looks around and thinks: 'there cannot ever have been a spring more beautiful than this. I did not know until now that clouds could be like this. I did not know that the sky is the sea and that clouds are the souls of happy ships, sunk long ago. I did not know that the wind could be tender, like hands as they caress - what did I know - until now?”
~Unica Zürn

Bonobo for Music Monday:

Thursday, November 14, 2019

To Cast Light

A president cannot defend a nation if he is not held accountable to its laws.
~DaShanne Stokes

I tried to find a selection of poems relating to the events of this week, but it's a bit early for impeachment poetry. Instead I found poems relating to Trump and the Statue of Liberty.

photo by Darshan Simha

Statue of Commodities
by Craig Santos Perez

Give me you roil, your labor,
Your fresh produce selling at wholesale fees,
The shiny products of your factory floor.
Send these, the cheap goods, gift-wrapped to me,
I raise my debt inside the global store!


Liberty Enlightening the President

by Steph Burt

I give. I’m tired of your poor
Attempts at reason, your muddled hassles, your breath, your information-free
Refusals to learn, your tempests when tweeting. I’m sure
We can send you back home in less time than it took me
To raise my right hand. Take your gold. You can use the front door.


Twelve Reasons A Woman Might Hold Up One Arm
by Jane Hirshfield

There are innumerable reasons a woman might hold up an arm.
One: to signal, here.
Two: to signal, stop.
Three: to beckon a boat or a taxi.
Four: because her other arm is occupied, holding an idea or an infant.
Five: to reach for some sweetening fruit from a tree.
Six: to cast light.
Seven: to shade her own eyes from what the light shows her.
Eight: because she is fixed in a previous era.
Nine: because she is waiting for a new era.
Ten: because she refuses to lower it.
Eleven: because the locked ladder inside it is learning one of the 40 languages that vanish each decade from earth in a silencings low-motion earthquake.
Twelve: to wave farewell to the words that are leaving, to wish them safe travels,
a home in some other woman’s new country, in some other woman’s new future


Head Wound
by Patricia Smith

The lamp is still lifted. But the woman’s muscled
arm quivers, her neck bulges with strain, copper
teeth grind, raining green upon the man below
her. He blocks the golden door with the slop of his body.
She pulls in a real American breath and brings the lamp down.


Some poems on McSweeney's made from Trump quotes.

Today's Little Ditty has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Michelle!

Charles Conder

Many anecdotes testify to Conder's gregariousness and his preoccupation with social life as well as his charming and attractive personality.
~Ursula Hoff

Works by Charles Conder (1868-1909) for Art Thursday. Conder was born in England, but was sent by his parents at age 16 to Australia to work for his uncle, a land surveyor. Despite his parents' intentions, Conder ended up becoming an artist, as you can see:

Departure of the Orient
by Charles Conder

A Grey Day
by Charles Conder

Night in the Garden in Spain
by Charles Conder
by Charles Conder

All on a summer's day
by Charles Conder

Going home (The Gray and Gold)
by Charles Conder

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Health Journals

Writing is the only way I have to explain my own life to myself.
~Pat Conroy

I get a lot of Wellness Wednesday ideas from my daughter Ariana. This time, thinking about how useful her health journal has been for her. Keeping track of what is going on from day-to-day makes finding patterns easier. It also makes it easier to figure out whether a medicine is working. There are lots of people who might benefit from keeping track of their medicines, or their sleep schedule, or their exercise, or their symptoms.

Ariana says, "It took me a little while to realize that the most important things to write down for me are food, symptoms, med changes, and activities...Maybe for someone else with a different condition, food wouldn't matter that much but it would be important to take & write down blood pressure every day...You want to find a system where it takes you less than 5 mins to fill out so you will actually keep up with it."

* Bullet Journal for Mental Health from Well Ella
* Wellness Journal from Space and Quiet
* How to Start a Daily Health Journal from Healthy Habits Reset
* Bullet Journal Set-up from Diary of a Journal Planner
* Health Trackers for your Bullet Journal from Just Bright Ideas

Regular notebooks work great. These are also cool.

This journal spread by Brie Lentry helps track actions for building healthy self-esteem habits:

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Five Things

A lake... is earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.
~Henry David Thoreau

I turned a poem into a mentor poem again this week! My starter poem was written by Flora de Falbe, a young poet in the U.K. I've been thinking about putting all the mentor poems I've used together in a post, if I can find them!

Five things about the lake:

by Flora de Falbe

1. The lake is no slave to fashion, but she is proud of her frothy skirt of trees. Her dark, svelte figure.
2. She doesn’t want to talk. The air rushes over her, whistling how have you been? – and she responds with a glassy stare...

read the rest here


Five things about the rainbow:
by Tabatha Yeatts

1. The rainbow is unconcerned about being person-seen. She will dart out when everyone is still inside, wondering where they left their umbrellas.
2. She hopes that the hill doesn't notice how often she alights near him. Or if he does, that he starts wishing for rain.
3. Though the rainbow's trying not to be obvious with her attentions, she can't help but appreciate how very soft his mossy sections are. The grass IS actually greener on his side.
4. She accidentally blushes a double rainbow when his flowers brush up against her. The people who spot her capture photo evidence of her embarrassment.
5. Maybe other locations would like a warm and dazzling rainbow now and then, but she moves around less and less. She feels lit up here, even when it doesn't rain.

photo by Lux Raimbow Rafael


Last chance to sign up for the Winter Poem Swap!

Live Your Poem has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Irene!


The Ladybug wears no disguises.
She is just what she advertises...
A miniature orange kite.
A tiny dot-to-dot delight.
~J. Patrick Lewis

For Art Thursday, ladybugs (or ladybirds, depending on where you live).

photo by Mathias Krumbholz

Ladybug in Ukraine
photo by Чорний Олександр

Ladybug, Serra do Itajai National Park
photo by KaiaPavesi

An Asian ladybug on a Jeffrey pine in the Botanical Garden of Schönbrunn
photo by spacebirdy

Ladybird climbs a nettle, Alford
photo by Dave Hitchborne

An Asian Lady Beetle at Vosseslag, De Haan, Belgium
photo by Hans Hillewaert

* How to Build a Ladybug House
* Ladybug Mosaic Garden Decoration
* Cute DIY Ladybug/Bumblebee Tic-Tac-Toe

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Remedies for Winter Air

Then comes Winter, with bluster and snow,
That brings to our cheeks the ruddy glow...
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham

Cold weather can really throw my son's health for a loop. Recently when the air turned chilly, he started feeling it in his lungs. Dry winter air can be challenging on lots of health-related fronts. Today for Wellness Wednesday, we're thinking about what we can do to keep from being too affected by it.

My hope was that I could name things that wouldn't be too expensive, but the first thing I feel like I should say is...consider getting a humidifier. You can also heat up water and breathe in the steam.

A cheap thing that Dash does is drink caffeinated drinks. Caffeine is a bronchodilator, so it helps loosen up his lungs when they are feeling tight.

More suggestions I've run across:
* Wear a scarf.
* Keep your mouth shut when you're outside (and breathe through your nose).
* Get a flu shot.
* My least favorite suggestion: take shorter, cooler showers. Hot ones can dry out your skin (although they are nice for your lungs).
* Use gentle cleansers and follow them up with lotions or creams.
* Have indoor plants.

More tips (and an adorable bird):

7 DIY Skincare Recipes for Fall/Winter

Monday, November 4, 2019

New Pup

If a dog will not come to you after having looked you in the face, you should go home and examine your conscience.
~Woodrow Wilson

Hi y'all,
We've got a new family member! He will be 1 year old in December. A rescue organization picked him up living in a tire yard in Puerto Rico. He has a terrific temperament -- such a sweet dog. We are still settling on a name for him. It might be "George." He looks kind of like someone put fennec fox ears on a teeny tiny German Shepherd.

What does Lucy think, you ask? She's not so excited about it, tbh. He wants to do everything that she does. He barks when she barks, pees when she pees, wants to play with her toys and eat her treats. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but that never really makes older siblings feel better, does it?

Updated to add: I think we're going to stick with his original name after all, which is Preston. Also, Lucy seems to be coping with his presence better today. Good job, Luce!

One more update because awwww:


A beach is not only a sweep of sand, but shells of sea creatures, the sea glass, the seaweed, the incongruous objects washed up by the ocean.
~Henry Grunwald

An Irish folk song today introduced to me by Elena, who is learning to sing it. Dúlamán is a conversation between two seaweed collectors (seaweeds being useful as dyes and as food). One of the men wants to marry the other's daughter, but the father isn't too happy about it. In the end, the first fellow elopes with her anyway. The course of true love never did run smooth, eh?