Thursday, December 30, 2021

Not dispensible

if our disability is anything, it is a fire. we give our fire – our work, our own personal story back out to the world, not hoping for a grand conflagration, but a beacon for an ever-opening world.
~Stuart Ian McKay

I saw the documentary Crip Camp Wednesday night and LOVED IT. So good. Thank you to everyone involved with making it, including the Obamas. If you are like me, you don't watch documentaries much, but you should watch it.

On another topic that is actually the same topic, I live in a county where people have been good about wearing masks. Yesterday I was in Target and Barnes & Noble and I didn't see anyone not wearing a mask in either store. During the pandemic I have seen people not wearing a mask or wearing it wrong sometimes, but I have only been provoked to speak to someone about it once.

It wasn't the person so much as my personal circumstance that did it...I had just spent two weeks staying in the hospital with my husband, who had sudden kidney failure. So I had seen zero people not wearing masks for two weeks. What I HAD seen were folks who were doing their very best for others, putting other people's health front and center, and I just couldn't stand the sight of this woman at the grocery store wearing her mask under her chin. Such disrespect for everyone around her.

The poem I'm sharing today expresses why Crip Camp made me want to sob. It's not that the movie is sad, it's the utter disrespect and disregard the disabled community has been shown during the pandemic that is so heart-wrenching. (This poem is by a British poet but applies just as much to the U.S.)

Dispensible Other
by Janine Booth

Accept our rule and stop this hue and cry
Some loved ones have to go before their time
It's just the weak and sick and old who'll die

We have a theory here to justify
Our nudging unit thinks it's just sublime
Accept our rule and stop this hue and cry

No need to test or rest or notify
Our British stock is mostly in its prime
It's just the weak and sick and old who'll die

Forget your fragile neighbours and apply
Survival-of-the-fittest paradigm
Accept our rule and stop this hue and cry...

read the rest here


On the one hand, more people have turned out to be disappointing than I would have ever expected, but on the other hand (literally) watch people being creative and beautiful in this hand ballet from the 2020 Paralympics:


Carol's Corner has the Poetry Friday round-up today. Thanks, Carol!

P.S. My husband's kidneys are working now!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Life, meet Art

And from Humming-Bird to Eagle, the daily existence of every bird is a remote and bewitching mystery.
~Thomas Wentworth Higginson

We had a Carolina wren fly into the house again today (one flew in last week). It flew right past my face when I opened the door to walk the dogs. The wren landed on a lamp and then flew upstairs, ending up in the same bedroom as last week's wren. My son Dash got this funny picture of it apparently checking out a bird poster:

Another photo by Dash:

We wondered if it was the same one from last week. Here's a shot of that one (I can't tell.):

Monday, December 27, 2021

What ho!

If the world is cold, make it your business to build fires.
~Horace Traubel

For Music Monday, White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes:

For something dramatic, The Cold Song:

Klaus Nomi, who sang it first as far as I can tell, is really something but I can't find a version that seems to have been posted by him or his people (so I can embed it). Also, here's a bass version by Dingle Yandell.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Christmas Delivery

One kind word can warm three winter months.
~Japanese proverb

Catch you next week! 💖💖

Christmas Delivery
by Jose Frappa (1854–1904)

Monday, December 20, 2021

Ríu Ríu Chíu

Many people have fond memories of 'The Monkees.' I fondly remember it, too.
~Micky Dolenz

For Music Monday, two versions of Ríu Ríu Chíu, a Spanish carol from the 1500s. The Monkees and The Boston Camerata:

Saturday, December 18, 2021

A different kind of holiday letter

To write is human, to receive a letter: Divine!
~Susan Lendroth

Maybe some of you would be interested in Toni Bernhard's How a Holiday Letter From a Person Who Is Chronically Ill Might Read:
I want to start by saying that I’m aware of how this time of year can be stressful for everyone, regardless of the state of their health. People often feel overwhelmed by everything they need to get done. Others may have such fond memories of past holidays that they find themselves feeling blue this time of year (this can happen to me). I just want you to know that I recognize that I don’t have a monopoly on stress and frustration and sadness just because I’m chronically ill. However, my limitations are a particular challenge during the holidays because they remind me how much my life has changed since I became ill over 20 years ago.

read the rest here

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The homework of compassion

In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.
~Elizabeth Gilbert

Happy Poetry Friday, y'all! I picked a One Little Word for next year -- the first time I've chosen a word! I think I'm not supposed to tell you until next year, but I'm getting in the spirit of things already.

My OLW is: generosity. Not money, per se, but generosity of spirit, centering abundance and bounty and letting small stuff go.

Andrea Potos kindly gave me permission to share this poem, which illustrates generosity towards a difficult family member, but could also be thought of in terms of difficult people/situations in general.

Praise for the Difficult Family Member
by Andrea Potos

Praise for she who is the fingernail
on the blackboard of your calm,

who writes in careless cursive
words that dare you to erase them.

She could be the teacher who reminds you
how much work you have to do, as if

the homework of compassion will be yours
as long as you dwell

inside this body, separate, yet not,
from she who dwells in hers.


One more:

The Returns of Love
by Luci Shaw
after George Herbert

There is such generosity in love it will not fit
Within a modest box with corners and a key.
But what if I offer more than I receive? If
My love’s largesse, though open, unencumbered, free...

read the rest here


Also read Andrea's When Beginning the Poem. (Plus, check out Noon Meditation by Cicada.)

Jone Rush MacCulloch has the Poetry Friday round-up. Mòran taing, Jone!

Lawren Harris

During the 1920s, Harris’ works became more abstract and simplified, especially his stark landscapes of the Canadian north and Arctic. He also stopped signing and dating his works so that people would judge his works on their own merit and not by the artist or when they were painted.

Canadian painter Lawren Harris with some winter art for Art Thursday:

Mountain Forms
by Lawren Harris

Pine Tree and Red House, Winter City
by Lawren Harris

Ice House, Coldwell, Lake Superior
by Lawren Harris

Winter Landscape with Pink House
by Lawren Harris

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Moths in flight

It's an amazing thing to watch a lizard fold a moth into its mouth, like a sword swallower who specialises in umbrellas.
~Elizabeth McCracken

Got five minutes? Need to relax? (Nobody gets eaten!) A video from Dr. Adrian Smith's Ant Lab:

Monday, December 13, 2021

Ae Fond Kiss

Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
~Robert Burns

Aye, I should save these videos for Burns Night in January, but I am listening to them now so for Music Monday, Hozier and Coda:

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Not root but wick

All of a sudden I looked around my life and realized that the stacks of books by my bed were poetry books and that what I had pinned up on the walls and door of my office were poems and even what I had taped up all around the mirror were poems!
~Annie Lighthart

Thank you, Annie, for giving me permission to share this!

A Cure Against Poisonous Thought
by Annie Lighthart

Believe the world goes on
and this bee bending
in honeysuckle just one
of a mighty nation, golden
beads thrumming
a long invisible thread.

In the green drift of an afternoon,
the body is not root but wick:
the press of light surrounds it.

from Iron String © Airlie Press, 2015.


Also go to Annie's site to read The Kindness of the Cello and The Second Music


For your amusement, a bookmark alignment chart. I have done a lot of these, but am prone to chaotic good, true neutral, and lawful evil.

Merely Day by Day has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Cathy!

I like it

Fabio Petani tries to get carried away by the matter, aiming at ending the periodic table with a cluster of artworks able to tell a story about the alchemy between art, chemistry and nature.

For Art Thursday, Fabio Petani:

Fabio Petani FLUORO (флуор) & MALVA SYLVESTRIS from Fabio Petani on Vimeo.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Tall and Deep

People like bluegrass. It's had a following amongst a lot of hip and young people. A lot of college kids like bluegrass.
~Dolly Parton

I don't know if Dolly's right, but I know this unhip person likes it. For Music Monday, performances that are food for my spirit by Michael Cleveland, Tommy Emmanuel, and Jason Isbell:

Michael Cleveland:

Australian Tommy Emmanuel with Nashvillian Jason Isbell:

Bonus: an amazing guitar version of Somebody That I Used To Know

Thursday, December 2, 2021

In praise of being unfinished

Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand?
~Wm. Shakespeare

I love Macbeth, and I love Rosemerry Wahtola would have been great to go with her to see the performance that inspired this poem:

Two Hours Upon the Stage
by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Again tonight Macbeth kills Duncan,
stabs him in his sleep as he has done
for four hundred twenty-five years,
as he’s destined to do for how many
hundreds of years more, never able
to break from what’s been written,
ever a victim of his flaws. As I walk
away from the blood-stained stage
into the warm night, I notice how
with every step across the damp grass
my story is still being written,
notice how unfinished I am—
a flawed human yet in service
to the human I will become.
Praise the power to evolve,
the chance to choose to be flower
and not the snake beneath it. Praise
the power to walk away from the script,
to walk away from prophesy, to walk
into the next scene as it comes. Praise
the chance to change, to transform, to turn
while the candle, though brief, still burns.


Michelle Kogan has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Michelle!

A poem for our friends who have suffered a loss this year: Blue Christmas by Barbara Crooker

Thinking about coziness

The quiet transition from autumn to winter is not a bad time at all. It's a time for protecting and securing things and for making sure you've got in as many supplies as you can. It's nice to gather together everything you possess as close to you as possible, to store up your warmth and your thoughts and burrow yourself into a deep hole inside, a core of safety where you can defend what is important and precious and your very own. Then the cold and the storms and the darkness can do their worst. They can grope their way up the walls looking for a way in, but they won't find one, everything is shut, and you sit inside, laughing in your warmth and your solitude, for you have had foresight.
~Tove Jansson

Someone (I don't remember who) posted on Twitter recently that they were looking for ideas about how to make their apartment cozy. They got many many responses that were some variation of: have lots of soft blankets, electric candles/fairy lights, and fuzzy pets. Lights, warmth, softness. A commenter linked to an interesting article about people wanting coziness indoors because the world outside seems threatening, which has always been true (in terms of winter being dangerous and dark) but seems particularly true these days.

When I went looking for cozy art, I nearly gave up. The coziest art I found was of people reading.

Reading. Family Scene by Lamplight
by Salvador Dali

Reading A Story
by James Tissot

One more quote:

The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one's ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender, of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.
~Kenneth Grahame

Do you have favorite cozy art?

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Constructive contemplation

Did Mary Oliver know about this expression? I believe she would have liked it. This was posted by Grubbing in the Filth, a podcast about invertebrates:

If you need me, I'll be over here thinking about the immortality of the crab!

Saturday, November 27, 2021


In a democracy everyone is a leader.
~Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Thursday, November 18, 2021


If the human condition were the periodic table, maybe love would be hydrogen at No. 1. Death would be helium at No. 2. Power, I reckon, would be where oxygen is.
~David Mitchell

We make a Thanksgiving Tree poster every year where we write things we're thankful for, like each other, our neighbors, our pets, tea, coffee, functioning kidneys, infrastructure, good pharmacists, vaccines, classes, car repair, Poetry Friday. There's a lot to be thankful for, and when it gets right down to it, the periodic table covers it all. Right?? I mean, I can't tell you how glad I am for carbon and don't get me started about oxygen.

Mary Soon Lee's Elemental haiku, a poetic periodic table on the AAAS's, is so fun. Maybe you've seen the table before, but her haiku bear revisiting. A sample:


Beyond Literacy Link has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Carol!

Suzanne Valadon

I found myself, I made myself, and I said what I had to say.
~Suzanne Valadon

Art by Suzanne Valadon (1865–1938) today. Some information about her from the National Museum of Women in the Arts:
Born Marie-Clémentine, Valadon was the daughter of an unmarried domestic worker. She grew up in Montmartre, the bohemian quarter of Paris, supporting herself from the age of ten with odd jobs: waitress, nanny, and circus performer. A fall from a trapeze led her in a new direction.

From 1880 to 1893, Valadon modeled for several of the most important painters of her day, including Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Although she could not afford formal art classes, Valadon learned readily from the painters around her. Close friend and mentor Edgar Degas also taught her drawing and etching techniques. Valadon soon transitioned from an artist’s model into a successful artist.

Valadon also had a complicated personal life. By 1909, she had given birth out of wedlock to Maurice Utrillo (who later became an artist), married, and divorced. That same year, Valadon, 44, started painting full time. A mere two years later, she attracted critical acclaim with her first solo exhibition.

View from My Window in Genets (Brittany)
by Suzanne Valadon

Raminou sitting on a cloth
by Suzanne Valadon

Woman with a Double Bass
by Suzanne Valadon

Monday, November 15, 2021

Kathleen MacInnes

The place was getting very full, and people who were arriving at the front door ended up having to go round through the back door into the kitchen. There were tunes of course, loads of reels… and the next thing Kathleen MacInnes was standing in my kitchen. She sang, and I honestly have never seen anything like it… the whole place fell silent…
~Brian Finnegan

For Music Monday, Kathleen MacInnes (a.k.a. Caitlin NicAonghais) singing in Scottish Gaelic:

Thursday, November 11, 2021

A faith

Now I as a painter shall never stand for anything of importance.
~Vincent Van Gogh

A poem for artists, teachers, parents, mentors, inventors, gift-givers of every kind:

What Vincent Couldn't See
by Tabatha Yeatts

If I could journey back a hundred and thirty years
to visit Vincent, interrupt him as he sat

composing a letter to Theo or gazing at the sky
and seeing brush strokes there,

if I could speak the truth of the iris shirts
and sunflower posters, the ginger-haired actors

with starring roles, the admiration glimmering
like moonlight in a rainy street, the applause

that travels through the ages steady as a
steam engine driving past a field of grain,

could he believe in a love that never
touched him at all?

Vincent could witness many worlds
others did not see, but not that.

Can a person approach this world
with a faith in love unfelt, unknown?

Not faith that entire museums
will be devoted to their work,

but confidence in an unknown person
for whom your efforts will be a spark,

someone whose light will catch
by the gentle curve of your flame

leaning across time and space
to ignite.


Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Matt!

Wednesday, November 10, 2021


...With watercolor you are in a dialogue with the paint, it responds to you and you respond to it in turn.
~Alan Lee
For Wellness Wednesday, a melange of contemplation and laughter.

* A useful metaphor from Molly Hogan in her post What do you remember about watercolor water? :
I still remember swishing my brush in the water, and watching the swirls of color leave the bristles in curling ribbons and gradually infuse the water. How the water turned a beautiful shade of blue or purple or maybe red. Sometimes instead of focusing on the paper and my watercolor creation, I’d turn my attention fully to the water. I’d dip my brush into those dented colored ovals and add a bit more of this hue or that, then watch the change. Inevitably, I’d end up with a murky glass of water and no matter what bright color I added next, the end result was…murky water.

I’ve been feeling like my life is a bit that way lately. No matter how much I try to focus on the joyful moments, of which there are many, I can’t change the overall tone.

read the rest here

* Relax with Rocks: a rock-stacking simulator by Neal Agarwal (my rock stacking abilities are subpar)

* I use a different password for every account so I really never know what my password is. I loved the "five asterisk" idea, haha. Stevie Martin:

Saturday, November 6, 2021

delightfully mundane

It’s the simple things in your life that make up the bulk of it. The mundane is where we live
~Eric Overby

I love these very much.
(Hat tip, once again, to Ariana)

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Seen how it ends

"I honestly think what we do musically is just a result of our friendship, and not the other way around."
~Tim Hanseroth, guitarist for Brandi Carlisle

Doing things all out of order! Music for Art Thursday?

Ariana shared Brandi Carlisle knocking it out of the park on SNL and from there I heard Carlislie's beautiful The Joke:

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

The Dissident

When I speak of the fear, intimidation, arrests and public shaming of intellectuals and religious leaders who dare to speak their minds, and then I tell you that I’m from Saudi Arabia, are you surprised?
~Jamal Khashoggi

Ruth Hersey has a perseverance-honoring post today as part of her thirty-days-of-gratitude, worth a read.

Today's main event:

I received an invitation from the international literature festival berlin [ilb] that I wanted to share with you. (I did a post three years ago in response to another invitation by ilb regarding Jamal Khashoggi and the UDHR.)

Worldwide Screening of »The Dissident« by Bryan Fogel

The international literature festival berlin [ilb] invites individuals, schools, universities, the media, and cultural institutions to participate in a Worldwide Screening of »The Dissident« by Bryan Fogel on December 10, 2021, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the United Nations in Paris in 1948. The documentary reconstructs the background of the murder of the Saudi Washington Post journalist and regime critic Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 and illuminates the geopolitical and power-strategic context of the case.

»The Dissident«: American documentary filmmaker and Academy Award winner Bryan Fogel spent two years researching for the film. The two-hour documentary analyses the course of events at the consulate in Istanbul and also sheds light on how those in power in Saudi Arabia suppress freedom of the press and manipulate public opinion with trolls and bots. Turkish investigators, journalists and opposition members in exile, Khashoggi's fiancée Hatice Cengiz and the former CIA director John Brennan have their say.

Institutions and individuals who would like to participate with a screening on December 10, 2021 are asked to send us the following information by 15 November 2021: Organisers, venue, time, participating actors, event language, link to your website if applicable. The email address is: The ilb will announce the events on the website and on social media.


You can find The Dissident on Amazon, Vudu, Redbox, and Apple TV.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Happy Halloween!

On Halloween, what bothers some
About these witches, is how come
In sailing, through the air, like bats
They never seem, to lose their hats?
~David McCord

Illustrations by Australian artist Ida Rentoul Outhwaite from The Enchanted Forest by Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and Grenby Outhwaite. The witch and her sister have amazing balance...

The Witch’s Sister on her Black Bat

The Witch on Her Broomstick

Thursday, October 28, 2021

For fortitude

I was in charge of this fragment of creation and so I had the last word.
~Helena Nelson

I've been studying Scottish Gaelic on Duolingo since January and it's been nice having the continuity of it in my erratic schedule.

For today, "Poetry Forum" by Scottish poet Helena Nelson.

Poetry Forum
by Helena Nelson

What is poetry for? (Maitreyabhandu)

It’s for weddings
and funerals
and reading on the train
and for taking a person out of herself
and bringing her back more sane.

It’s for children
and lunatics
and chimney-sweeps and punks
It’s for teachers...

read the rest here


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

The magic of tweed jackets

Toad put the thin button in his pocket. He was very angry. He jumped up and down and screamed, ‘The whole world is covered with buttons, and not one of them is mine!’
~Arnold Lobel

In honor of Halloween, today we have "Frog and Toad are Friends." What?? you say. My son and his girlfriend are dressing as Frog and Toad this year.

The funny thing is when that Dash pulled out the tweed jacket he is going to wear as Frog, and he found a bowtie and a sonic screwdriver in the pockets! The last time he wore it, he was the 11th Doctor.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Brain Story

I had always known the sky was full of mysteries—but not until now had I realized how full of them the earth was.
~Ransom Riggs

A few links for Wellness Wednesday:

Understanding how our brains are divergent, as individuals, can help us to brainstorm ways to adapt our lifestyle and environment to meet our needs.

Show Us Your Brain – FREE Resource for understanding your “brain story” from NeuroClastic (free pdf printable)

A couple more useful, interesting things:

* Evidence suggests that there is a window following a trauma in which a bad memory can be disrupted or avoided — and in which memories can be uncoupled from the brain's emotional centers. (How Playing Tetris Tames The Trauma Of A Car Crash) (hat tip: Ariana)

* HeartMob: Give or find support for people facing online harrassment

Monday, October 25, 2021

In praise of DYI phone wallpaper

The Earth is Art, The Photographer is only a Witness
~Yann Arthus-Bertrand

I don't have music for you this Monday, but I do have a make-your-own...I have really been enjoying changing my phone's wallpaper using my own photos. Spotting interesting potential backgrounds has been fun. If you haven't done it, maybe you'd like to give it a go?

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Little Green Orchard

Stay, illusion!
If thou hast any sound, or use of voice,
Speak to me.
~William Shakespeare

I've given myself permission to just post when the spirit moves me, so I don't know what my upcoming blogging schedule will be. Last week, posting was pretty much out of the question, but I did buy some Christmas presents. (?) I'm back to the correct season this week with a shivery poem:

The Little Green Orchard

by Walter de La Mare

Some one is always sitting there,
In the little green orchard;
Even when the sun is high
In noon's unclouded sky,
And faintly droning goes
The bee from rose to rose,
Some one in shadow is sitting there
In the little green orchard.

Yes, when the twilight's falling softly
In the little green orchard;
When the grey dew distills
And every flower-cup fills;
When the last blackbird says,
'What - what!' and goes her way - ssh!
I have heard voices calling softly
In the little green orchard

Not that I am afraid of being there,
In the little green orchard;
Why, when the moon's been bright,
Shedding her lonesome light,
And moths like ghosties come,
And the horned snail leaves home:
I've sat there, whispering and listening there,
In the little green orchard.

Only it's strange to be feeling there,
In the little green orchard;
Whether you paint or draw,
Dig, hammer, chop or saw;
When you are most alone,
All but the silence gone...
Some one is watching and waiting there,
In the little green orchard.
Jama's Alphabet Soup has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Jama!

Kuroki Neko

The wind outside nested in each tree, prowled the sidewalks in invisible treads like unseen cats.
~Ray Bradbury

Isn't that Bradbury quote great? I am a fan of cats of all colors, including beautiful black ones.

A Black Cat
by Jahn Henne

Slim Woman with a Cat (1913)
by Géza Faragó

Black Cat (Kuroki Neko)
by Hishida Shunso

Elena Kats-Chernin's Black Cat Rag
Ivana Tomášková - violin, Renata Ardaševová - piano