Monday, August 31, 2020

Avalon Jazz Band

Trenet said that he had written an initial version of the song's lyrics as a poem at the age of 16, many years before he came up with a tune for it. The tune came to him while he was traveling by train in 1943 between Montpellier and Perpignan as he was gazing out of the window at the Étang de Thau, a lagoon in the south of France.
~Wikipedia's entry about "La Mer"

Avalon Jazz Band for Music Monday:

I'm fairly sure I've posted La Mer before, but I'm also fairly sure you can't have too many La Mers. (Is that the plural? I'm not too sure about that...)

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Dysgu Cymraeg i Awen Dylan Thomas

A couple of poems and a question today. I attended a good webinar this afternoon, which was a lecture with a chat box on the side. Afterward, I was pondering a person who was unpleasant in the chat. She held herself like a fist: defensive, clenched, angry. It seems like there are quite a few people moving like fists through the world. How are we going to change that? What can a person who feels like that do? I don't have answers. Just wondering.

by Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

The single clenched fist lifted and ready,
Or the open asking hand held out and waiting.
For we meet by one or the other.


A poem by Menna Elfyn that you can hear in the Welsh here. I may use this as a mentor poem.

Teaching Dylan Thomas’s Muse to speak Welsh
by Menna Elfyn

Once she was a mockery,
the crone in the empty park, old, impotent, hunchbacked —

but today things are different;
I sit beside her,
teaching her words of weight — drawing her to say them after me: Trees, oh how mighty they are, with the might of the Welsh:

and dŵr, see how water purrs
in Welsh when it’s splashed from a fountain.

and then, I teach her two words –
adar and trydar,
the wings and the light;
and now no one will shout harsh words after her because the words will be in her mouth.

I will be the park-keeper, going homewards knowing that she is not homeless;
far away I hear her pronounce:

coed cadarn, cedyrn y cymry, dŵr and adar;

and her words will be
drops flung from a fountain, rising like flying wings.

Now her stick,
spearing dead leaves in the park will turn them, turn herself
into a living green.

Translated by Elin ap Hywel


My Juicy Little Universe has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Heidi!


Moss is inconceivably strong. Moss eats stone; scarcely anything, in return, eats moss.
~Elizabeth Gilbert

Not 100% sure why I picked mosses for Art Thursday this week (I mean, I'm not sure what made them come to mind), but aren't they cool? Moss garden info links are at the bottom.

Moss garden at Hakone Art Museum
Big Ben in Japan

Tokyo, Japan

moss, ginkakuji
Kate Nevens

Bulletin de l'Herbier Boissier, 1890s
by Herbier Boissier

Marsh Macro Dolly Sods

Goutte d'eau
by Thomas Bresson

Moss And Lava, Iceland
by Gretar Skulason

How to Create a Moss Garden
Types of Moss for Landscaping
Moss in Japanese Gardens

Monday, August 24, 2020

A song since before time

The world was a library and its books were the stones, leaves, grass, brooks and the birds and animals that shared, alike with us, the storms and blessings of the earth.
~Chief Luther Standing Bear

Listening to Mr. Dangeli talk made me tear up.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

The definition of genius

There was earth inside them, and they dug.
~Paul Celan

A prose poem by Claudia Rankine:

Don't Let Me Be Lonely [Mahalia Jackson is a genius.]
by Claudia Rankine

Mahalia Jackson is a genius. Or Mahalia Jackson has genius. The man I am with is trying to make a distinction. I am uncomfortable with his need to make this distinction because his inquiry begins to approach subtle shades of racism, classism, or sexism. It is hard to know which. Mahalia Jackson never finished the eighth grade, or Mahalia's genius is based on the collision of her voice with her spirituality. True spirituality is its own force. I am not sure how to respond to all this. I change the subject instead.

We have just seen George Wein's documentary, Louis Armstrong at Newport, 1971. In the auditorium a room full of strangers listened to Mahalia Jackson sing "Let There Be Peace on Earth" and stood up and gave a standing ovation to a movie screen. Her clarity of vision crosses thirty years to address intimately each of us. It is as if her voice has always been dormant within us, waiting to be awakened, even though "it had to go through its own lack of answers, through terrifying silence, (and) through the thousand darknesses of murderous speech."

Perhaps Mahalia, like Paul Celan, has already lived all our lives for us. Perhaps that is the definition of genius. Hegel says, "Each man hopes and believes he is better than the world which is his, but the man who is better merely expresses this same world better than the others." Mahalia Jackson sings as if it is the last thing she intends to do. And even though the lyrics of the song are, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me," I am hearing, Let it begin in me.


Rankine makes a reference to Paul Celan, so I looked him up.
Celan, who was Jewish, was born in Romania in 1920.
On his way to France to study medicine, Celan was in Berlin during Kristallnacht.
Back in Romania, he was forced into labor during WWII (where, among other things, he was tasked with destroying Russian books).
His parents lost their lives in an internment camp.
He was a polyglot who translated literature from Romanian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, Hebrew, and English into German.
Celan said, “There is nothing in the world for which a poet will give up writing, not even when he is a Jew and the language of his poems is German."

With a changing key,
You unlock the house where
The snow of what’s silenced drifts.
Just like the blood that bursts from
Your eye or mouth or ear,
So your key changes.

Changing your key changes the word
That may drift with flakes.
Just like the wind that rebuffs you,
Clenched round your word is the snow.
― Paul Celan

Two more quotes:

“Spring: trees flying up to their birds”
― Paul Celan

“you're rowing by wordlight”
― Paul Celan


Pleasures from the Page has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Ramona!

Ossip Zadkine

“We are scared but what else can we do? We are not being aggressive. We are women standing here who also have a voice,” said Minsk resident Zhenya. “We are scared of being arrested but we want to be heard.”
~from "Thousands stage flower protest in Belarus as EU weighs sanctions" by Andrei Makhovsky

I've been following the election (and subsequent protests) in Belarus and wanted to feature an artist from Belarus in honor of the protesters and the need for free and fair elections. For Art Thursday, Belarus-born sculptor Ossip Zadkine:

Vincent and Theo van Gogh
"through my deeds you have witnessed the creation of several paintings which will breathe tranquility even in times of upheaval"
by Ossip Zadkine

Les Arques - Eglise Saint-Laurent, la crypte, pietà
by Ossip Zadkine

by Ossip Zadkine

A Pair of Candelabras
by Ossip Zadkine

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The touch of music

Inspirational music teacher Alison sent this quote:

Monday, August 17, 2020

Getting a workout

I have to exercise in the morning before my brain figures out what I'm doing.
~Marsha Doble

Cheerful songs (with some exercise) for Music Monday. Keoni Tamayo and K-pop:

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Doing it again

No one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley.
-William Goldman

Hi y'all! Happy Poetry Friday!

I'm going to tell you about a couple of poetry-unrelated conversations I had with family members recently. It will circle around to poetry, I promise.

My son Dash cooked dinner for us last week. Normally, I do all the cooking because our family has seriously complicated dietary restraints. Dash volunteered, though, and he came to me to discuss what would be on the menu. "This is like solving a sudoku puzzle," he said.

The other day, I told Matthew (Ariana's boyfriend) that I had been thinking about how I was like the Dread Pirate Roberts. He laughed and teased me that he wondered which of the many things we had in common I was talking about. I explained that each time I fix a meal, I feel like that's it, I won't be able to do it next time. Which reminded me of the Dread Pirate Roberts telling Westley at the end of each day, "Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning." I guess I'm more like the flipside of DPR (his more convivial sister?). Instead of thinking that I'm going to do something, I think that I'm not. "Nicely done. Too bad you won't be able to do it again!" But then I do it again.

What does this have to do with poetry? Have you ever thought you didn't have any more poems in you? Wondered if the last thing you wrote was the Last Thing you'll write? Not to worry, you have plenty more in you. Maybe not right now, but give them a little time and they will bubble up like you wouldn't believe. Maybe sometimes you need a break, but you can't count yourself out.


For today's poem, follow this link for Everything is Going to Be All Right by Derek Mahon, read by Andrew Scott. It makes me tear up! (You'll probably recognize Andrew Scott, even if you don't know his name.)


Nix the Comfort Zone has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Molly!

La Piscine

How calm, how beauteous and how cool--
How like a sister to the skies,
Appears the broad, transparent pool
That in this quiet forest lies.
~Eugene Field

Today's Art Thursday post was inspired by my friend Linda's visit to La Piscine Musee-d'Art et d'Industrie de la ville Roubaix, a swimming pool turned museum.

La Piscine (sun window)
photo by Jean Christophe Blanquart

Danseuse à l'écharpe
Agathon Léonard

La Piscine, Expo Camille Claudel
photo by Jean Christophe Blanquart

La Piscine, Expo Camille Claudel
photo by Jean Christophe Blanquart

Un faune, 1869
by Édouard Reynart

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Medicinal plants (again)

The scope of herbal medicine ranges from mild-acting plant medicines such as chamomile and peppermint, to very potent ones such as foxglove (from which the drug digitalis is derived). In between these two poles lies a wide spectrum of plant medicine with significant medical applications. One need only go to the United States Pharmacopoeia to see the central role that plant medicine has played in American medicine.
~Donald Brown

 I'm re-visiting a post today. Love these photos!
Schisandra by Brian Chiu
Feeling tentatively optimistic this morning...hope you have reasons to feel upbeat, too. If you are interested in medicinal plants for stress, you might like to read this relaxing nervines and adaptogens post by Mountain Rose Herbs. (I hear many good things about Mountain Rose Herbs. I'm not making any money from them, just thought you might want to know.)

Motherwort and bumblebee
by American College of Healthcare Sciences

Look up "contraindications" for the herbs you'd like to try so you can make sure they don't conflict with any pharmaceuticals you already take. For instance, if you are on blood thinners, you don't want to thin your blood more with herbs. WebMD has contraindications listed under "interactions."

Holy basil with hovering bee by Jo Zimny

If you've never had any herbs before, maybe chamomile would be a good place to start. Lavender and holy basil (tulsi) are also good introductions.

Chamomile by Virginia Sanderson

Plants are some of my favorite topics of conversation, so feel free to chat me up about them!

Monday, August 10, 2020

You Gotta Have Somethin'

I'm not trying to be your highness
Cause that minus is too low to see, yeah

~Bruce Fisher and Billy Preston

Even during a pandemic, I sing to myself a LOT during the day. I was singing this recently, although I had no idea what most of the lyrics were. Shout out to my dad, who I know likes this song by Billy Preston: 

One more while we're at it:

Friday, August 7, 2020

Basho zine


Pausing between clouds
the moon rests
in the eyes of its beholders 

-Matsuo Basho
translated by Michael R. Burch

Been a busy week here. I had forgotten about making zines, so I was happy that looking at my summer photo journal reminded me. Making zines is relaxing, sort of meditative. I used a Basho quote for this latest one. What mentor poets refresh you? 



The butterfly
perfuming its wings
fans the orchid
-Matsuo Basho
translated by Michael R. Burch
Small Reads for Brighter Days has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Laura!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Seedling Quilts

It is a golden maxim to cultivate the garden for the nose, and the eyes will take care of themselves.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

Sharing some of The Seedling Quilts by Australian quilt designer Jodi Godfrey today! I appreciate that Jodi gave me permission to post them here.

About The Seedling Quilts:
The Seedling Quilts are English Paper Patterns and Applique quilt designs inspired by medicinal herbs. The quilts range from intricate and completely hand pieced to simple, machine pieced quilts with a little hand stitched flourish.





Tuesday, August 4, 2020


Buttercups by James Bowe

On the Shady Side
by Rabindranath Tagore

I lived on the shady side of the road and watched my neighbours’
gardens across the way reveling in the sunshine.

I felt I was poor, and from door to door went with my hunger.

The more they gave me from their careless abundance
the more I became aware of my beggar’s bowl.

Till one morning I awoke from my sleep at the sudden opening of my door,
and you came and asked for alms.

In despair I broke the lid of my chest open and
was startled into finding my own wealth.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Queen of Hearts

But when they're handing out the heartaches
You know you got to have you some
~Hank DeVito

Maybe there's a lone playing card somewhere in my house? I don't know, but for some reason this song has been going through my head at random times. Juice Newton: