Thursday, June 29, 2023

Wax & Wane

Language exerts hidden power, like the moon on the tides.
~Rita Mae Brown

Hi folks! Happy Poetry Friday!

Dear Irene asked for a moon poem to share during today's round-up. Wouldn't you know I shared a moon poem last Poetry Friday? How silly of me! I wrote one this week so I would have another for Irene. My poem was inspired by agricultural theories around the moon and the way people also have cycles, with times to get rid of hindrances, times to grow something new.

by Tabatha Yeatts
The Moon replenishes the Earth; when she approaches it, she fills all bodies, while, when she recedes, she empties them. ~Pliny the Elder

In the waning of the Moon,
Pull down the branches
that tap your windows during storms
like ghosts,
clear out the dead ones
that hang over your head
and rattle like loose bones.

In the waxing of the Moon,
Dig a hole
close to your heart
for seedlings.
Pat down the soil around
your twiggy babies.

In the dark of the Moon,
uproot weeds.
Wear a headlamp
so you can find them.
Be discerning.
Be ruthless.

In the light of the moon,
plant ground crops--
Start now, replenished,
to cultivate these little
tides dammed by rosy skin
for piercing later,
after the moon has left you
bit by bit,
and you must draw upon
your own resources
to bloom what is barren.


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

The Paracas Textile

One of the most extraordinary masterpieces of the pre-Columbian Americas is a nearly 2,000-year-old cloth from the South Coast of Peru.
~Lois Martin, about The Paracas Textile

For Art Thursday, a striking ceremonial textile from 100-300 CE. Ms. Martin also says, "Like some other very fine cloths, the [Paracas] textile is finished so carefully on both sides that it is almost impossible to distinguish which is the correct side." Want to read more? See her Khan Academy article here.

Detail, The Paracas Textile
The Brooklyn Museum

Detail,The Paracas Textile
The Brooklyn Museum

The Paracas Textile (2x5' in total)
The Brooklyn Museum

Monday, June 26, 2023

Gotta keep it clear

I had to fly myself
Just to make my way back
- Meshell Ndegeocello

A plug for listening to new music from Andrew Budson, Harvard Health Newsletter:
Music keeps your brain networks strong

So just how does music promote well-being, enhance learning, stimulate cognitive function, improve quality of life, and even induce happiness? The answer is, because music can activate almost all brain regions and networks, it can help to keep a myriad of brain pathways and networks strong, including those networks that are involved in well-being, learning, cognitive function, quality of life, and happiness.

For Music Monday, Clear Water by Meshell Ndegeocello:

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Jazz on the moon

We all do 'do, re, mi,' but you have got to find the other notes yourself.
~Louis Armstrong

Happy Poetry Friday, everyone! Although I'm not a teacher, I really enjoy Porcupine Literary, a journal by and for teachers, which is where I read today's poem. Jo Angela Edwins takes a student mistake (confusing astronaut Neil Armstrong with musician Louis Armstrong) and lets her imagination soar: When Louis Armstrong Landed on the Moon.

When Louis Armstrong Landed on the Moon
by Jo Angela Edwins

Quiz question: Who was the first person to set foot on the moon?
Student answer: Louis Armstrong

Picture his space helmet
specially equipped
to accommodate the trumpet.

He must have resembled
a Seussian cartoon:
that polished horn
sticking stiffly through the visor,
the aperture gasketed
tightly with polymers,
a protection against oxygen leaks,

read the rest here


More poems from Porcupine Literary:
To My Student Who Cried for the Creature in Frankenstein by Dana Kinsey
Sisyphus logs onto his 9AM Zoom class by m.o. kng
Masque of the Red Death by Aimee Noel
John Wick, in the Classroom, explains his Pedagogy by Chloe N Clark
On Being a Closeted Teacher by Caroline Earlywine


A Word Edgewise has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Linda!

The Valþjófsstaður door

Það eru margar undur í höfuðkúpu
there are so many wonders in a cow’s head
~Icelandic expression used when something strange or amazing happens

Iceland seems to be a very popular destination these days! My MIL just took a trip there and her photo of the Valþjófsstaður door caught my eye. It was carved circa 1200 CE and tells the story of a knight who saves the life of a lion by slaying a dragon. The lion then stays with the knight until his death, whereupon it lies mourning on his grave. The lower roundel shows four interlaced dragons.

The Valþjófsstaður door
photo by Ellie Lonske

The Valþjófsstaður door
from Nordic Voyages - Iceland and the Faroe Islands. Sketches and studies, by Alexander Baumgartner

The Valþjófsstaður door, upper roundel
photo by Jakub Hałun

The Four Dragons
photo by Wolfgang Sauber

Monday, June 19, 2023

The Frost is All Over

What would you do if the kettle boiled over?
What would I do but to fill it again.

For Music Monday, a tune that has been popular for hundreds of years. The Frost is All Over:

The Chieftains with Punch Brothers:

The Mary Wallopers:

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Until I run out of things to thank

...Notions of will and agency aside, that's what I think we're doing here: participating in creation. Sometimes as pigment, sometimes as canvas receiving pigment, sometimes as a brush in an artist's hand, moving with the hand, yet exhibiting a character of the brush's own.
~Ricky Ray

For Poetry Friday, poems by Ricky Ray. I feel like students might enjoy the role animals play in his poems, and it could inspire them to write their own poetry with their own relationships to animals.

My Donkey Spirit Steps through My Body to Take Up the Slack
by Ricky Ray

At some point, the body cannot pull its cart,
struggles against the straps, sinks into the muck,

struggles again and falls. The body cannot pull the cart
so it becomes the cart, while the spirit steps down

from the seat, picks up the cart and hauls. No straps,

read the rest here


My Favorite Sweater
by Ricky Ray

The moths have come and gone again another season.
Left portals in my coats and sweaters. I hope they
had a good meal, that the relics of sweat didn't cause them

too much indigestion. They even supped on my favorite,
a third-hand green the color of pine, thick as a blanket,
the goats right up against me as the cold tries to stick

its hand into my chest. I hope they ate well enough
to bear another generation without the hunger
and suffering too many have known. Another hand

would hunt them down and smack the light
from their lamps, but today, as the Christmas sun
makes its five-minute visit through my north window,

read the rest here


Sometimes the Work Comes to You
By Ricky Ray

A herd of horses gathered outside my cabin, their hoofbeats steady as a bonfire crackling green logs. At the same time I could hear them bent to the earth, nipping the young grass. It was the wrong season. I wore two sweaters. In my dream, from across the lake, a wolf howled to remind me of a wound left open in the soul. My blood flew with his howl. Then it turned in the air like a flock of pigeons and came back. The wolf sat beside me and watched. I asked to borrow his nose.

Caught the scent of decay and followed it to my heart.

read the rest here


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

Historical fashion

Fashion changes, but style endures.
~Coco Chanel

When I saw the photo of this coat, I wished I could wear it. But what could I wear a coat like that to?

Marshall & Snelgrove Ltd, 1895 – 1900, England
Some people with answers to that question (although all of them would admit a coat like the above would be hard to come by!)

V. Birchwood:

Dandy Wellington:

Bernadette Banner:

Monday, June 12, 2023

Graindelavoix sings Gesualdo

'These voices' I said appreciatively, 'these voices – they're a kind of bridge back to the human world.'
And a bridge they remained even while singing the most startlingly chromatic of the mad prince's compositions.
~Aldous Huxley, writing about Gesualdo's madrigals

For Music Monday, mad prince Carlo Gesualdo's Plange Quasi Virgo (Tenebrae Responsoria) sung by Graindelavoix:

(Why was Gesualdo (1566–1613) considered mad? When he discovered his wife with her lover, he killed them both.)

P.S. One thing I find fascinating about this video is how each person in the group is responding to the music and each other. You can (almost) watch the workings of the voice as an instrument.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Yes, please

Beth smiled, and felt comforted, for the tiny [bird] seemed to offer its small friendship, and remind her that a pleasant world was still to be enjoyed.
~Louisa May Alcott

This morning (It's Wednesday, I'm scheduling ahead) as I was getting ready to go meet a friend for a walk, she asked, "Do you still want to go considering the air quality?" Air quality?? Ah yes, we need to be protected from the air. Time for consolation!
By Wisława Szymborska
Translated by Clare Cavanagh

They say he read novels to relax,
But only certain kinds:
nothing that ended unhappily.
If anything like that turned up,
enraged, he flung the book into the fire.

True or not,
I’m ready to believe it.

Scanning in his mind so many times and places,
he’d had enough of dying species,
the triumphs of the strong over the weak,
the endless struggles to survive,
all doomed sooner or later.
He’d earned the right to happy endings,
at least in fiction
with its diminutions.

Hence the indispensable
silver lining,
the lovers reunited, the families reconciled,

read the rest here


Buffy Silverman has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Buffy!

P.S. I have a new website!

A fruity bouquet

Unless a tree has borne blossoms in spring, you will vainly look for fruit on it in autumn.
~Walter Scott

Our neighborhood deer have been enjoying mulberry season. Wineberry season is coming right up. Although the animals are having fun, we aren't used to eating fruit that we don't find in the store. How many fruits are "out of fashion"? You can tell in Abraham Gibbens' still life that the strawberries he ate in the 1600s were wild, much smaller than the ones we buy today. Also, he had gooseberries, another neglected fruit. For Art Thursday, less common fruit:

Frutas do Conde (Annona/Sweetsop)
Agostinho José da Mota

Loquats and Mountain Bird
Under the Rowan Tree Janis Rozentāls

Still Life with Strawberries, Cherries and Gooseberries
Abraham Gibbens (fl. 1629–1635)

Marvelous, bird and pomegranate
Carlos Alberto Fernández

Hawaiian Breadfruit
by Persis Goodale Thurston Taylor, c. 1890

How to harvest wild berries: Foraging for beginners (I learned something here about false strawberries)
A beginner's guide to summer foraging

Monday, June 5, 2023

Purple shower bells and tea

The premise of the song is that a couple is exchanging love letters in musical form. The singer is creating "Strawberry Letter 23" as a reply to the song he has received from his lover, and he refers to her previous message as "Strawberry Letter 22" when replying.

For Music Monday, the Brothers Johnson with Strawberry Question 23 (1977). A bit of trivia: The 12" single was pressed on red strawberry-scented vinyl. The 7" single was originally released in a strawberry-scented sleeve.

More of the Brothers Johnson: Stomp

Friday, June 2, 2023

The perfume of your smiles

The ear is the avenue to the heart.

Hi folks! Happy Poetry Friday! Today's poem is "Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear" by Mosab Abu Toha.

Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear
by Mosab Abu Toha

For Alicia M. Quesnel, MD


When you open my ear, touch it
My mother’s voice lingers somewhere inside.
Her voice is the echo that helps recover my equilibrium
when I feel dizzy during my attentiveness.

You may encounter songs in Arabic,
poems in English I recite to myself,
or a song I chant to the chirping birds in our backyard.

When you stitch the cut, don’t forget to put all these back in my ear...

read the rest here (ugh, I forgot to add this link at first!)


The Miss Rumphius Effect has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Tricia!

Thursday, June 1, 2023


If I had Aladdin's lamp and the usual three wishes, the first would always be, 'Give me the first day of June.'
~Gladys Taber

Hi folks! For Art Thursday, June. Something sent me on a sheep-shearing side-track when I was looking at June paintings, so I have included one of those even though sheep can be shorn during any season.

June from Through the Year with Birds and Poets

by Eugene Grasset

by Alphonse Mucha

Sheep shearer
Unknown painter

Ornament featuring Mercury, patron of the month of June
by Adolphe Giraldon

June, Lippincott