Thursday, February 27, 2020

Mr. James's Marvelous Thing

I went out with this girl the other night, she wore this real slinky number...She looked great going down the stairs.
~Milton Jones

Slinky, Amsterdam
photo by Ceescamel

by Prartho Sereno

In this week’s obituaries—Betty James,
whose 90 years are boiled down
to three paragraphs, one and a half given
to her husband Richard, the marine engineer
who fell in love with a torsion spring
when it toppled from his desk and
cartwheeled out the door.

In the picture, Betty’s holding the beloved
Slinky in her stair-step hands. Most likely
she’s been shuffling the toy—one of its many
irresistible charms. But for the picture’s sake...

read the rest here


This amazing video doesn't have any talking (btw, it ends at 1 minute, 14 seconds):


Addendum: This poem is from Rattle. I looked at several issues (Civil Servants, Adjunct Professors, Japanese forms, etc.) and I thought I remembered that today's poem was from the Poets of Faith issue. It's actually from the Mental Health Workers edition. Isn't it interesting how that categorization could change your interpretation? Probably thinking it was from the Adjunct Professors issue would change it again!

Karen Edmisten has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Karen!

Rolling pins

There is a mystery inherent in a pie by virtue of its contents being hidden beneath its crust.
~Janet Clarkson

Rolling pins for Art Thursday? You probably think I've dropped my stopper, flipped my wicket, fruited my loops. Well, take a look at these:

Unknown maker, England, 1775-1810
Exhibit in the Brooklyn Museum, New York
photo by Daderot

Glass rolling pin, engraved with ship, anchor and words Chars. Oliver
Auckland Museum

Rolling pins, Smithsonian Folklife Festival
photo by Paulo O

Swedish decorative wooden rolling pin with the commandments of the house written onto it
photo by Martin "xarragon" Persson

MODO museum, Colonia Condesa, Mexico City.
photo by Apoptosical

A rolling pin as a monument to a local pastry-cook Dana Šupáčková, Řevnice, Czechia
photo by ŠJů

Wednesday, February 26, 2020


A man is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots, whose flower and fruitage is the world.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

This week for Wellness Wednesday, some purely entertaining things..why not?

New Shoes by Paolo Nutini:

Don't you love how inventive people are? Here's a clock that shows the time in sequins:

I don't know how they control 4 million volts of electricity, but it looks pretty cool. Lords of Lightning:

One more feel-good song (Warning: cuss word, although it is sung beautifully). Allen Stone:

One last thing that makes me smile:
If you're in the market for Literary Chicken greeting cards, check out From Scratch Studios.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Simple Romance

Why fight the feeling?

Keeping things upbeat this Music Monday with COIN:

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Hand-marked paper ballots, y'all

Dictators are not in the business of allowing elections that could remove them from their thrones.
~Gene Sharp

Hi folks! For a couple of years now, I have had a preoccupation with election security. I can't remember exactly when it started. I was already concerned in 2018 when Brian Kemp served as overseer of the same Georgia election he was running in. At the time, I was like, How is this allowed? Nobody stopped him, which has really been an ongoing theme of the past few years. Who will stop the people who want to cheat?

That's what I'm wondering, and that's why I asked some poet-friends if they wanted to write on the topic of election security, especially the necessity of hand-marked paper ballots. When I asked, I wasn't sure I would get any takers. I mean, who wants to write about that? I hadn't even written one yet myself! But poets care, and they are willing to take on a challenge, so here we are!

Ballots for Swedish national election
photo by Jens O. Z. Ehrs

One last thing -- I would encourage everyone to follow Jenny Cohn. Keep informed!

Election dreams of a clumsy dialer
by Tabatha Yeatts

I inadvertently dial my uncle's number
on speed dial again...his spot, at the
right place for an accidental push. I

miss a call from my husband-- the ring
volume unintentionally silent on my
phone. He thinks we can find a way to keep

me from pushing the wrong buttons.
Oh mom, my children would say, unsurprised.
They would recommend me for many things--

You should run a B&B, they say, you could
sell these cupcakes, these creams
-- but they
wouldn't suggest that I run an election. The

voting machines would malfunction and I
would only be able to supply snacks for the
repair people, could we find any. Lines would form

down the block while people missed work and
babysitters fumed as no one came to pick up
the kids. Foreign countries would change the tallies

and I would only be able to say, "Did you see
that? Just then? Well, it's gone now."

I'm sure I could make paper ballots, though. Nice-

looking ones, easy to read, and I definitely could
come up with all the pencils a quick-moving line
of voters could want. "So happy you could come,"

I would say, shaking each hand as they depart,
duty done, ballot ready to be counted, safe from
fingers that push the wrong buttons.


Muddied Tech Trail

Yes, I have my ballot.
And yesterday dropped it in.
I hope it will be counted.
I'm wishing for a win.
But with the news reported
of mysteries and hacks.
I'm also counting on the truth
that America has our backs.
The truth is that I'm troubled
as never before I've been
that people in our country
ensure that we ALL win!

© 2020 Linda Baie


You can check what is going on in your state with The Verifier map.



From the Italian ballotta
meaning "little ball."

Long, long ago a voter made
a choice by means of a little ball
placed in a container to be counted.
Imagine how quickly the tallying
of little balls would lead to chaos.
One or two or twenty balls
rolling to the floor, into corners.

Paper came to replace the spheres.
A simple marking of one's choice
on a piece of paper. Years go by...
'til mechanization...interference.
And so, we come back to paper--
easy to mark, easy to collect,
easy to count (and count again).

That's how democracy really rolls!

© 2020 Diane Mayr


Your Vote Only Counts If It’s Counted (A Nonet)

not digital,
not ephemeral.
In your hand. Palpable.
A vote that will be counted.
An actual piece of paper
holding officials responsible.

© 2020 Mary Lee Hahn



Paper trails tell
voting tales--
They note
the way we vote.
For Democracy--
What do we need?
Paper trails!

Did you know that all 50 states
have been graded on our
voting election security,
and we didn’t score so well overall…
My home prairie state of Illinois
came in with an uninspiring C.
Though the report indicates
we’re making changes.
Out of 50 states in our 2016 election
Illinois was hacked into and compromised.
Hmmm, wonder ‘bout the hanky panky go’n on…
I’ll let you figure out who compromised Illinois,
and who tried to compromise 23 other states too…

Paper trails tell
voting tales--
They note
the way we vote.
For Democracy--
What do we need?
Paper trails!

You might wanna throw up your arms
and pass on our upcoming primaries–
But not I, I still believe in
I still believe in our
inalienable right to vote
I still believe in truth–
It’s there somewhere
I hear about it everyday
I see people fighting for it

Paper trails tell
voting tales--
They note
the way we vote.
For Democracy--
What do we need?
Paper trails!

Find out where to vote–
Find out how to vote–
Get your name on the rolls.
If you wanna try a
Paper ballot, and make a
Paper trail–
Start early!
You may run into some snags --I have--
But I’m plugging along.

I’m gonna hand mark my paper ballot,
They will note the way I vote.
Start your own
Paper Trail!

© 2020 Michelle Kogan


Cheriee Weichel was inspired by today's poems to add one of her own, after The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams:

so much depends

you and me

paper and pen

counted by real


One more poem: Thinking of String by Ian McMillan


John Oliver talks about voting machines
Why paper ballots are the best safeguard against election hacking
Verified Voting Recommends Hand-Marked Paper Ballots

Addendum: I felt bad just talking about hand-marked paper ballots because that's not the only thing. To assuage my conscience:
1. Hand-Marked Paper Ballots (exception 4 voters w/ disabilities)
2. Remove The Modems
3. Remove Remote Access
4. Ban Internet Voting
5. Manual Audits
6. Paper Voter Lists (in case e-pollbooks fail)
7. Protect Your Voter Registration (triple check; save screenshot or other proof)


Library Matters has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Cheriee!

Saints, stories, and allegories

Shaped a little like a loaf of French country bread, our brain is a crowded chemistry lab, bustling with nonstop neural conversations. Imagine the brain, that shiny mound of being, that mouse-gray parliament of cells, that dream factory, that petit tyrant inside a ball of bone, that huddle of neurons calling all the plays, that little everywhere, that fickle pleasuredome, that wrinkled wardrobe of selves stuffed into the skull like too many clothes into a gym bag.
~Diane Ackerman

I winged it for Art Thursday and ended up with a selection of European paintings from the 1500s and 1600s featuring interesting women (and one skull).

Vanitas Bust of a Lady
by Catharina Ykens II, Flemish painter

Artemisia Drinking Wine Mixed with the Ashes of her Husband, Mausolus
by Filippo Tarchiani

Saint Catherine
circa 1505-10
by Fernando Yanez de la Almedina

Dulle Griet (Mad Meg)
by David Teniers the Younger

Allegory of Fortitude
circa 1568-72
by Michele Tosini

Wednesday, February 19, 2020


Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.
~Henry David Thoreau

Today's Wellness Wednesday topic was inspired by Herbalista, who runs foot care clinics in Atlanta for people experiencing homelessness. They say:
When we offer to care for someone’s feet, we are entering into an intimate and sacred relationship. We are asking they trust us with not only their body, but their ability to navigate the world. How much we rely on our feet! They lead us to food, to water, to shelter, and to work. They are our contact with the earth and our means of escaping danger... Foot care is an opportunity to radiate health throughout the entire body!
So what can we do to tend to our feet?

Wear comfortable shoes that fit properly. Our feet "stretch out" over the course of the day, so pick shoes after you've been up and walking for a while instead of first thing in the morning. My husband likes to use a standing desk for part of the day and only some shoes are comfortable enough for long periods of standing. He likes cushioned inserts.

Sometimes people have legs that are different lengths, so a heel lift in a shoe can help prevent pain. (Sometimes ways of holding our bodies can make one leg seem shorter when it really isn't, so there's "anatomical" vs "functional" leg length differences. I think it's easiest to tell the difference if you're measured when you're lying down.)

I have worn the wrong shoes for many a hike. (I guess I have been surprised to find myself on a hike, many times.) I don't know what advice to give about that.

One last thing about shoes...How Stuff Works says, "you can't really avoid foot sweat. However, you can try to alternate your shoes, so that the pair you wore yesterday has a chance to dry out completely before you wear them again." Seems reasonable!

How Stuff Works also suggests taking a walk every day and washing between your toes every day.

YouTube has foot care videos relating to diabetic feet, runners, dancers, hikers, folks with cracked heels, and on. I developed Plantar Fasciitis from some beloved flip flops made of yoga mats (I guess they were TOO comfortable) and stretching exercises were extremely helpful.

Inexpensive DIY Foot Care
WikiHow on caring for your feet and toenails

Monday, February 17, 2020


This is winter, which nonetheless brings its own delights.

Voices of Music with Vivaldi's Winter:

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Not even leftovers or condiments

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.

Last week, I shared a poem that is performed in the Poetry Out Loud high school recitation competition. This week I'm sharing two poems that would be great for Poetry Out Loud, if they aren't used for it already. In honor of the ups and downs of love, poems by Matthew Olzmann and Sara Teasdale:

Madarak számára szívből
by encsere

by Matthew Olzmann

Here’s what I’ve got, the reasons why our marriage
might work: Because you wear pink but write poems
about bullets and gravestones. Because you yell
at your keys when you lose them, and laugh,
loudly, at your own jokes. Because you can hold a pistol,
gut a pig. Because you memorize songs, even commercials
from thirty years back and sing them when vacuuming.
You have soft hands. Because when we moved, the contents
of what you packed were written inside the boxes.
Because you think swans are overrated.
Because you drove me to the train station. You drove me...

read the rest here


Godey's lady's book, 1840

Spring Night
by Sara Teasdale

The park is filled with night and fog,
The veils are drawn about the world,
The drowsy lights along the paths
Are dim and pearled.

Gold and gleaming the empty streets,
Gold and gleaming the misty lake,
The mirrored lights like sunken swords,
Glimmer and shake.

Oh, is it not enough to be
Here with this beauty over me?
My throat should ache with praise, and I
Should kneel in joy beneath the sky.
O beauty, are you not enough?
Why am I crying after love,
With youth, a singing voice, and eyes
To take earth's wonder with surprise?
Why have I put off my pride,
Why am I unsatisfied,—
I, for whom the pensive night
Binds her cloudy hair with light,—
I, for whom all beauty burns
Like incense in a million urns?
O beauty, are you not enough?
Why am I crying after love?


TeacherDance has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Linda!

Gift covers

In a digital age, I still love sending and receiving cards, hand-writing notes, and wrapping gifts.
~Matthew Williamson

For Art Thursday we have traditional textile gift covers. Fukusa are pieces of decorated silk used to cover gifts in Japanese tradition. Bojagi is a general term for all wrapping cloths in Korea. I didn't find a definition for "Boktcha" other than "gift cover."

Bojagi for queen, Joseon dynasty
photo by Mar del Este

Boktcha, Iran, 18th or 19th century
Honolulu Museum of Art, shared by Hiart

Embroidered Fukusa, Japan, late 19th-early 20th century
Cleveland Museum of Art

Embroidered Fukusa, Japan, late 19th-early 20th century
Cleveland Museum of Art

DIY Fukusa envelope
Cute furoshiki fabric (Japanese wrapping cloth)
Wow, here is a chart about a lot of ways to fold furoshiki.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

DIY Valentine's Day

What did the paper clip say to the magnet?
“I find you very attractive.”

Hi folks! For Wellness Wednesday, I'm thinking about things you can do to celebrate Valentine's Day. To me, you can celebrate anybody and everybody you love on Valentine's Day, including yourself.

Preston would like to be everyone's valentine,
starting with Lucy

Some doable projects:

* Mini Letters for your valentines
* Valentines Fortunes
* Washi tape tic-tac-toe valentine
* Jan Brett's printable valentine pages for kids
* Chocolate Cream a la Mount Vernon
* Pecan pie muffins
* Apple butter cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting
* DIY Tassel Garland (can do in pink, white, red) (I admit, this one is time-consuming, but it looks good)

A pre-making meditation:

Want to give someone a notebook or do something with a notebook you've been given? Here are some ideas:

Tuesday, February 11, 2020


But when I started, I wasn't even a bill. I was just an idea. Some folks back home decided they wanted a law passed, so they called their local congressman and he said, "You're right, there oughta be a law." Then he sat down and wrote me out and introduced me to Congress, and I became a bill. And I'll remain a bill until they decide to make me a law.
~I'm Just A Bill, Schoolhouse Rock

YelloPain with My Vote Don't Count:

Monday, February 10, 2020

Woo, all right, oww!

Rock 'n' Roll might not solve your problems, but it does let you dance all over them.
~Pete Townshend

Rockin' out this Music Monday with some classics:

Bachman-Turner Overdrive:


The Who:

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Carl Dennis

I have begun to think of life as a series of ripples widening out from an original center.
~Seamus Heaney

Carl Dennis wrote a bunch of poems that knock my socks off. Here's one:

by Carl Dennis

If on your grandmother's birthday you burn a candle
To honor her memory, you might think of burning an extra
To honor the memory of someone who never met her,
A man who may have come to the town she lived in
Looking for work and never found it.
Picture him taking a stroll one morning,
After a month of grief with the want ads,
To refresh himself in the park before moving on.
Suppose he notices on the gravel path the shards
Of a green glass bottle that your grandmother,
Then still a girl, will be destined to step on
When she wanders barefoot away from her school picnic
If he doesn't stoop down and scoop the mess up
With the want-ad section and carry it to a trash can.

For you to burn a candle for him...

read the rest here

photo by Sam Galison


I also love Book Fair and Thanksgiving Letter from Harry, among others.

Writing the World for Kids has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Laura!

Honoring the Law

If citizens cannot trust that laws will be enforced in an evenhanded and honest fashion, they cannot be said to live under the rule of law.
~Dale Carpenter

No one is above the law. In honor of people who actually believe in following the law, we have historic lawyers and judges today.

Frank B. Kellogg
by Philip de László

Thurgood Marshall
Betsy Graves Reyneau

Sophonisba P. Breckenridge, before 1923
Library of Congress, Bain News Service

Louis Brandeis, circa 1916
Harris & Ewing

Emanuel D. Molyneaux Hewlett, 1902
Author Unknown

Wednesday, February 5, 2020


I like long walks, especially when they're taken by people who annoy me.
~Fred Allen

Everyone feels like shaking their fist at a cloud sometimes, right? (Dealing with pharmacies has made me feel like that more than once.) My friend Margaret Simon posted about National Curmudgeons Day, which was January 29th, and is graciously allowing me to share the poem she wrote for it.

Before we take a look, here are a couple more curmudgeon quotes that amused me:
Curmudgeons and cats usually get along famously because we have a mutual disdain for foolishness.
~Richard E. Turner

O, could I clamber to the frozen moon,
And cut away my ladder!
~George H. Boker
Sample curmudgeons:
Oscar the Grouch
Grumpy Cat
The two cantankerous elderly Muppets (Statler and Waldorf)
Ron Swanson? (Parks & Rec)

when I looked up "curmudgeons,"
this fellow showed up
photo by Oskari Kettunen

Margaret used the definito poem form, invented by Heidi Mordhorst. A definito is a poem of 8-12 lines that defines a word and ends with the defined word.

National Curmudgeons Day Definito
by Margaret Simon

When your day starts out in slush and mud,
When nothing seems quite right,
When your cat scratches drawing blood,
When you’ve already lost the fight,
When all you want to do is rest
or hide, just slam the door,
You can’t suppress your grumpiness;
Your mom says you’re a boar.
Your face turns green and grouchy,
shoulders glum and slouchy.
It may be better to stay in
as you are a curmudgeon.

Margaret's notebook page
for National Curmudgeons Day

* If you're always cranky (or problematically cranky), you might want to check out this list of medical reasons for irritability
* What to do if you're cranky and blue (a book for kids)
* Foods for bad moods
* Suggestions for when you're feeling grumpy at work

Monday, February 3, 2020

I Want You Around

Snoh Nowrozi (born Shahrzad Fooladi, 13 September 1987), better known by her stage name, Snoh Aalegra, is a Swedish singer and songwriter based in Los Angeles. Her debut album Feels was released in 2017, followed by Ugh, Those Feels Again in 2019.

For Music Monday, Snoh Aalegra: