Wednesday, October 5, 2016

big small fast slow

There is relativity of size:

The tiny sugar ant marching through a horse's mane is unsure what a horse is.

Could there be creatures so big we humans don't fully notice them?

And how about relativity of the experience of time:

Is it possible a ninety-nine year lifetime for a human could be equal to only half a second in the life of a rock or something else that seems unmoving? The rock-beings likely would not notice us at all, our tiny blinks of melodramatic existence against a life 6 billion years long.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

I am yours

I am yours
However distant you may be
There blows no wind but wafts your scent to me
There sings no bird but calls your name to me
Each memory that has left its trace with me
Lingers forever as a part of me


(Eric Clapton's adaptation of material by 12th century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi)

Monday, October 3, 2016

'What's it like,'
the little child asked,
'to be the fish
in the fish bowl?'

The goldfish darted
away and near.
'I don't know what to say,'
he thought,
and looked at the
giant face near him.

Friday, September 30, 2016

11 at night

It was 11 at night, 1975, I was wearing a parka, the wind was blowing, there was snow mounded here and there in the grad center parking lot. The moon was full, the night was quiet, clouds like translucent silk floated swiftly across the shining face of the moon. I stood there, my face turned up to the moon, my feet safe but cold in crepe-soled hiking boots. The sky was black, and ice hung from the bumpers of the parked cars.

My mind was empty of thought. The guitar performance ended an hour ago and the network of intricate sound and varied timing was a key that opened the lock to a dormant part of that mind, wordless, letting me hear at another level, and see another dimension of the freezing sky and I still need no words for what I learned. A door to a universe expansive Godness was open, and I absorbed all that my teaspoon of brain and heart could hold.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

'Be-eeee Good!' E.T. the extra-terrestrial said to the teary-eyed little girl who had helped save his life.  

(Little girl - hmmph. E.T., old and wise, was smaller than she was!) 

He boarded the disc-shaped spacecraft that was flashing colorful beams of light. It quietly lifted up, and away.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Connecticut Yankee

Mark Twain is perhaps best known for his children's books, Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. Some forty years ago or so, I read one of his adult novels, A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court, the story of an American of the late 1800s traveling back in time to England to experience Medieval life. The only part I now remember is the Yankee saving his own skin by predicting a darkening of the daytime sky. The sun then blacked out on the day he predicted. The people were astounded. 

How was he able to do that? The event was a historically memorable solar eclipse that the Yankee had learned of during his life in America.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Monday, September 26, 2016

'Soap opera is daily serial melodrama that originated in the United States on radio and then became popular on daytime television in many countries. Soap operas received the name because soap manufacturers first sponsored them on radio. For many years, a number of critics considered soap operas, though popular, to be a low type of mass-market entertainment. However, many critics have re-evaluated soap operas, assessing them as one of the few original American art forms...'

(quote from The World Book Encyclopedia
2015 edition
Volume So-Sz

During the 1960s, soap operas were on daytime TV, the same time each day from Monday through Friday. On Monday, the episode summarized and provided some closure on the previous week while opening up a new storyline. Friday episodes were 'cliffhangers', leaving the audience anxious to return to the show come Monday. 'The Guiding Light', 'As the World Turns', and 'General Hospital' and 'The Edge of Night' are four that were very popular across many years, social phenomena. Many a homebody refused to miss a single episode of their favorite soap.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

the sun

what if the sun 
were not a ball of fire
but a sphere of light?
How would such light
translate into warmth
on a place like earth?

Friday, September 23, 2016

autumnal equinox 2016

the feast
of vegetarian pig
is over
the glass of white wine
the sun
melts orange
from behind a bank
of steel gray clouds
it glows across
the quiet valley
of cedar trees
and gnarly oaks
brushing all with gold
i listen for druids
or angels
and hear the rumble whine
of an air conditioner
from the house nearby

of equinox past
and equinox future
and equinox on this day
the sun,
so slow to set,
hastens pace
in blazing silence
touches the far horizon
and sinks
to a fine point of light

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

grackle's planet

grackle flies by
a blue and white planet
on his shoulders

turtle calls up to him
from the floor
of the creek below

that looks so heavy
my shell is strong
let me carry that planet for you!

grackle circles wide
and sails back to the creek.
he lands next to turtle.

the planet eases off
the bird's shoulders
and turtle holds still
waiting to bear its weight

but the planet rolls instead
into the creek bed.
grackle pushes and nudges
with his beak
but cannot roll
the heavy sphere onto
turtle's back.

turtle wades
around the planet
steering through the shallow water
with his flippers

it starts to rain
the grackle and the turtle
stand watch
side by side

the planet does not wash away
it rocks and sways
and rocks and sways
in the creek current

the planet gets wedged;
creekweeds and stones
secure it to the floor
and it grows still

it does not budge
home now
a planet on a planet.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The dashboard, door handle, and steering wheel of your car left out in the sun are too hot to touch. The pavement is hot. Sometimes it gets, as the colloquialism goes, hot enough to fry an egg.

Before you take your shoeless kids and dogs outside to race to the car, or feed the birds and squirrels in the parking lot on a 100 degree summer afternoon, or drive a horse and buggy around the town square to give visitors a tour, try removing your own shoes and socks and stand on the heated surface for a few seconds. Well, maybe not that long. Ouch.

We usually wear shoes, so it's easy to forget our companions' feet can blister from contact with the burning paved surfaces around us. This summer, I've seen dogs and horses in pain, and since they are speechless, thought I'd put this into words.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

family triangle

There is a generous amount of discussion about how a child feels and behaves when a new baby brother or sister arrives. Some children are pleased and excited, some are not, and almost all experience some jealousy regarding the attention the new infant receives. The older child is accustomed to receiving lots of notice from the parents, and now he or she has to share that attention. It's not unusual for signs of sibling rivalry to show up.

What is discussed less is the nature of the family before the second baby, when the family consists of only the parents and one child, what a family triangle is like. This is an interesting system in and of itself, whether another child ever arrives or not. When another child does arrive, though, there are adjustments for everyone, not just the firstborn, as the triangle takes on a new geometric shape.
There is a generous amount of discussion about how a child feels and behaves when a new baby brother or sister arrives. Some children are pleased and excited, some are not, and almost all experience some jealousy regarding the attention the new infant receives. The older child is accustomed to receiving lots of notice from the parents, and now he or she has to share that attention. It's not unusual for signs of sibling rivalry to show up.

What is discussed less is the nature of the family before the second baby, when the family consists of only the parents and one child, what a family triangle is like. This is an interesting system in and of itself, whether another child ever arrives or not. When another child does arrive, though, there are adjustments for everyone, not just the firstborn, as the triangle takes on a new geometric shape.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Ostrich and Lark

'Every day, all day,
over the cicada's drone,
a drizzle of buzzings fell,
and a downpour of birdsong.

'Hornbill, Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Diederik,
Mousebird, Whydah, Canary:
from gray-light-come to last-light-gone,
the fancy-dressed suitors of the veld
warbled their rain-shower jazz.'

(a couple of poetic paragraphs from the book Ostrich and Lark, by Marilyn Nelson and illustrated by San artists of the Kuru Art Project of Botswana, 2012)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

poetry within lyrics

Some of America's most unrecognized poetry
is tucked within the lyrics of our songwriters.

for example
from Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel
in the 1960s:

'What a dream I had
pressed in organdy
clothed in crinoline
of smoky burgundy
softer than the rain

'I wandered empty streets down
past the shop displays
I heard cathedral bells
tripping down the alleyways
as I walked on...'

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

'Do we throw away the apple core?' he asked his dad. 'I already ate the good part.'

'Are you kidding, Son?' said Dad. 'Give me that apple core! It is the BEST part. Inside this apple core are seeds that might make trees that can grow for a hundred years or longer. Thousands of apples for you and your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren could come from these little seeds.'

Dad shook out two of the seeds, and set down the core. While he showed the seeds to his son, a squirrel came up behind him and carried away the apple core.

'Dad! Catch that squirrel! He's taking away the BEST part!'

They watched the squirrel leap up a pine tree and stare down at them, holding the core in his nimble little fingers.

Dad stared back and thought for a moment. 'Not to worry, Son. You and I can plant these two seeds. Squirrels are wonderful farmers. He'll take care of the rest.  There may be apples not only for us, but for his great great great grandchildren, too.'

Monday, September 12, 2016

Muppets and Rogers

The news today from the Muppets who live on Sesame Street is that: You Are Important!

You have something special to offer in your time and place and current physical shape that is all you. You may not know it yet. (You may envy this person and that cat.) Your family and colleagues may not know it yet.  But: You Are Important!

(And, as Mr. Rogers has always said as he puts on his sneakers and sweater, he likes you just the way you are.)

Saturday, September 10, 2016


When I was a kid in the 1950s and 60s, lollipops, also known as suckers, were abundant. There were Dum-Dums on paper sticks with paper wrappers, a small sphere of hard candy made only of sugar, and varied flavors and food colors. There were Safety Pops, wrapped in cellophane, that had a string-like loop for a handle. The loop was less likely to cause an injury than the sticks. The candy itself was transparent and came in a number of colors and flavors. Dum-Dums and Safety Pops were relatively small compared to the white disk on a stick you might find at a carnival. It was striped with a rainbow of colors, was opaque and had more sweet substance to it.

Lollipops were given at the completion of classroom projects, at special celebrations, and just for an afternoon treat. They could be found, bright red and green, in Christmas stockings. I remember toddlers with red or purple saliva running down their faces as they cheerfully followed older siblings around in the yard.

The magical thing about lollipops that we rarely acknowledge is how quickly they can relieve pain and distress. Nurses gave them to children at the doctor's office after surviving vaccinations and tetanus shots (injections). A child runs up wailing because of a bleeding brush burn on the knee. Give him or her a lollipop as you clean the wound, and crying and moaning stops almost immediately. A little sugar can be very comforting.
Almost everyone who has a few birthdays under their belt has experienced a crisis or distressing event in their lives. We have great successes, and happy events, and also pain at times. As a psychologist, I have helped clients process emergencies as they occur, and helped them find ways to seek comfort and weather grief.  Of interest is I also came to observe that clients sometimes suffer on the anniversaries of such events. Without awareness, they might report a kind of depressed state of mind had occurred for a few days, with no reason evident to them. Over the course of the session, or perhaps a week or two later, something would click. That was the week their father had died, or the very date they had experienced a serious injury. Our inner wounds heal, but come the anniversary, they fester a bit, consciously or unconsciously. They call for some attention. We acknowledge what has been lost, through thought and/or action, seek the comfort we need, and move on. The pain fades once again.

This same process can occur with communities as well, as a University of Texas psychologist and professor, Dr. Pennybaker, has written about. The whole village grows sober or anxious as the date of a past major hurricane or fire approaches. This kind of anxiety will gradually lessen as the years pass, but initially can be a true annual disturbance, with return of the fears and agitated state that arose with the event, and some of the defensive behaviors that resulted. Memorials, prayers, letters, newspaper articles, commemorative public parks and libraries, are ways we handle such situations as a whole. Ideally, we also take care not to stimulate overreaction.

Perhaps I write this now because of my own physical awareness of the approach of September 11th. I extend my sympathy for all of us who experienced losses on that date in 2001.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Three miniature trains were winding along three sets of tracks at a railroad museum in Kingman, Arizona. They coursed around towns and farms made of plastic, stone, and wood. Cows stood here, and grain storage structures there. Somewhat like watching vehicles at cloverleaf highway intersections, the trains were mesmerizing. The sounds and speeds were varied, but at some point, the motions of three separate trains become connected, as though they are separate entities, yet also one whole entity as in an orchestra.

Riding on full-size trains can be like a song. The background beat is clickety-clack as the train moves over the tracks; you can feel the pulse and bumps. The train itself is like a melody, fast, in swaying motion, separate from the countryside, and connected. The song slows as the train slows down, and sometimes halts, at the stations, then picks up momentum once again.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Moody Blues was a British band of the 1960s - 70s that created wondrous sound, using techniques that were new to the time. They made an album called 'Every Good Boy Deserves Favour'. My dad had once mentioned a similar saying 'Every Good Boy Does Fine'(?), and explained that it was a mnemonic device, the first letter of each word being the note of a line of the treble clef of western written music.

I don't know a whole lot about guitar strings. They do change over the decades, and here I am mumbling about this and that. In learning to play guitar in the mid 1980s, for some reason I could not hold on to the popular mnemonic saying at that time for tuning guitar strings. So I made up my own: Every April Ducks Go Back East.

Guitar strings are interesting. Electric guitars, classical guitars, and acoustic guitars use variations of metal and nylon strings. The bass strings tend to be heavier; the higher pitched strings lighter in weight and smaller in circumference. But the materials and specifics evolve across time. And if all the strings were the same material and circumference, one could still tune them to the desired pitches.

There is something so fascinating about the fretboard, the surface of the neck of the guitar where the strings abide. There is this intersection between the geometry of the half-step dividing lines (ie, the varying distance between the frets), the qualities and tautness of the strings, and the sounds that emerge that make for both visual and auditory fascination and satisfaction. There is the physics of different aspects of the instrument and of sound. With some guitars, the location of the frets is precisely and systematically closer together as they approach the soundhole. With some guitars, this is not so. It's not as obviously logical as one might think, and some people adjust these properties in creative ways that might keep a mathematician and a musician awake at night.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

visual effects

Computer Moose
faces the ancient user.
His antlers hold
the keyboard.

all dressed in blue
stands atop the library shelves
arms uplifted.

Ghostly Goat
of peeling paint
and shredded paper
shines and stares
from a weathered brick wall.

Startled Doe,
like her Sisters of the Woods
who peek from behind trees,
peers from triangles of street lights
and stray trinkets of three

Spirits nod
from book covers
and patterns in the rugs.
They yearn for attention,
and imagined hugs,
offer yeses and nos
and flickers of cheer
to the eyes
of one old hermit
bearing bundles of years.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The first time I went abroad, it was to France when I was in my 40s,circa 1996. The first thing I noticed was the currency, a paper bill. I don't recall how many francs it was worth. It was colorful  and it featured an engraved image of Antoine de St Exupery, the author of Le Petit Prince and other remarkable writings of the first half of the 20th century. Our United States of America currency was  green, and featured portraits of our presidents. I was fascinated to see a writer commemorated in such a way.

Friday, September 2, 2016

fundamental ethics

Some of the fundamentals for humans, to survive, to live, include air to breathe, water and other fluids to drink, and food to eat. Shelter, reproduction, and sleep also rank high among essentials.

There are also fundamentals in how we humans live, what we call ethics, morals, good not bad, right not wrong. There are religions with commandments and rules, governments with laws and ideals, clubs (such as Scouts, Rotary, Shiners), schools, and professions (such as medicine and science and military) with ethics codes and honor codes.

I read once in a book regarding the ethics of psychologists a review of such codes and regulations. The authors reported that the first ethic in the majority of such undertakings is 'Do no harm.'  This usually comes before the second most common ethic, which includes variations on the theme: 'Do good.'

Thursday, September 1, 2016

In the past, many a town was planned on a grid of horizontal and vertical lines. The people would try to orient the streets north-south, and east-west. There might be a square in the middle of town where the courthouse would stand, or a church. Around the square would be shops and markets and good things to eat.

The streets around the square might be labeled in an organized way, to make them easy to find. There was a Main Street or a Grand Street. Then there were numbered streets, such as first, second, and third. These might be the east-west streets. Then there might be north-south streets in alphabetical order, labeled A, B, and C, et cetera, or Adams, Bush, Clinton and Eisenhower. Or Annie, Bella, Candace, Darla and Elizabeth. Or Agarita, Bluebell, Carnation, and Dahlia. Et cetera.

One day, though, or perhaps across a long period of time, the grid plans got buried in a flurry of change. Loops and streets with intriguing curves came into being. Roller coaster style highway intersections were built. We've been in awe, and often lost, ever since.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What do masa (as in tamales), polente, couche-couche, grits, cornpone, hominy, hush puppies, and cornmush have in common?

(Besides yum.)


Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Around the turn of the century, my parents still lived in south-central Louisiana. Dad saw some wee citrus trees for sale at a building supply store, and though he was no gardener, decided to plant some in the yard. He dug a hole for each of four trees, and left them alone.  Louisiana offered good soil and plentiful sun and rain. Within two years, the trees began to bear fruit. With nearly no effort, my parents soon had amazing yields of oranges and sparkling flavored grapefruit. The earth - bountiful planet that she is - provided plenty for my parents, and the squirrels, rabbits, snakes and birds who also resided in the yard. There were plenty to share with friends and family as well.

Monday, August 29, 2016


'My wife waits for a caterpillar
to crawl onto her palm so she
can carry it out of the street
and into the green subdivision
of a tree...'

from 'Found'
by Ron Koertge

Saturday, August 27, 2016

'Fill your heart with love and there is no room for anything else.'

quoted from a gravestone in San Marcos, Texas

Friday, August 26, 2016


part of life requires
and loop-de-loop
(sometimes we get lost doing this)

part of life
is straight, fast, & narrow
(sometimes we get tripped doing that)

it's a matter of timing
to reach one's destination
(should there be a destination) -

zig-zag and meander now;

Thursday, August 25, 2016

An interesting note regarding Adam and Eve is that they are not just characters in a story or a myth. They have a documented family tree: Genesis - chapter 5.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


What other species take dogs into their homes? Feed cats and turtles, monkeys and parakeets, deer and ponies? Hide frogs in the bathroom sink, build plastic tunnels for gerbils?

Humans cherish their pets, give them dear names, buy them toys and warm cushions, snacks and rhinestone collars.

Perhaps swans take in ducklings, and sows mother kittens. There are wolves known to feed abandoned human infants. Perhaps many creatures have space in their hearts and homes for the wandering stray struggling alone.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

quotes regarding music

'Music, to create harmony, must investigate discord.'
- Plutarch

'My music is best understood by children and animals.'
- Igor Stravinsky

'Music is well said to be the speech of angels'
- Thomas Carlyle

'Life can't be all bad when for ten dollars you can buy all the Beethoven Piano Sonatas and listen to them for forty years.'
- William F. Buckley

Monday, August 22, 2016

science class '67

from middle school
science lessons
circa 1967 -

fact 1

the stars and planets
that we see
shine so bright.
the stars give light.
the planets
reflect light.

fact 2

our planet earth
and the planets we see
- such as Venus
and Saturn -
circle the same star.
we call that star the sun.

fact 3

many planets
have moons.
the dear and only moon
that circles around our earth
shines bright -

fact 4

is the sunlight we see
reflected off the
surface of the moon.

fact 5

earth's beautiful moon
also reflects
indirect sunlight,
that which is
reflected by the earth.
it's called
and glows
in faint
rich shades of blue.

fact 6

thus we on earth get to see ourselves,
our own sunlit planet's
lovely light,
mirrored by our moon.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Walt Whitman perhaps intimated that one can find a map of the universe in a blade of grass.

Friday, August 19, 2016


We humans show a preference for communicating with words. (Look at me here, typing words at the library.) Other species on our planet communicate as well, but with dance, stares, hand motion,songs, gifts and thoughts. Some, like one octopus to another, may model how to access something like food. Some make expressive patterns flying in the air or soaring through the water. We humans can do many of those things, we like the arts of painting and pottery, but still seem primarily to rely on words.

Sometimes, as a human myself (best as I can tell), it's quite an experience to learn something without words. We watch a sunset and experience wonder at the changes in the sky. We hum a lullaby to let our child know that all is well, it is safe to ease into sleep. Yesterday, through, I listened to a performer sing with nuanced vocal control, music that erupted with strength and passion. He was singing in a language I do not know, but I think in this case, my mind was more deeply affected by not knowing what the words meant.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

a grain of salt

If I were a school teacher, there is something I would like to teach regardless of what subject we were learning:  Not everything I teach you is true.

No matter how good your teacher is, or how logical the readings and lectures, nothing is 100 percent accurate.

Some of the facts passed down from generation to generation may be flawed, or may even be invented by a researcher who wanted some admiration back in 1717 or 2010. 

Don't assume the writer or teacher is always correct. They are humans, after all. There may be other ways to look at facts - different perspectives, different interpretations.

If you don't understand something, don't assume you are not smart. Some articles are written by reporters who don't understand the subject they are writing about; that may be why you don't understand the article. The article doesn't make sense to ANYBODY.

Just because there is a new discovery or understanding does not mean it is superior to the old.

Some teachers do not tolerate debate very well; they sincerely pass down what they have been taught, most of which is likely very useful, and do not expect to be challenged. The student doesn't have to question the teacher. Just keep an open mind about what you learn.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

This morning I found something in the shallow basin of a fountain. It's been raining of late, and the inch of water in the basin was rather murky, the color of rust. There were a few fallen leaves, but this one stood out. Its shape was swollen, cylindrical.

Being a bit of a scaredy cat, I was reluctant to pick it up. Yet it was something that was unlikely to survive under water. So I gently lifted it out, and sure enough, though its appearance was that of a furled leaf, no longer than two inches, its weight suggested something more. There was what looked to be a horn at one end, like that on some caterpillars. I've watched caterpillars go into metamorphosis, 'melting' into chrysalis or cocoon state, and this curled green object was similar in appearance. Though small and apparently motionless, its life felt much larger than its size. I placed the chrysalis amidst some moist shrubbery, in hope that it might complete its transformation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

i had a piece
of polka dot cloth
that had no plans
so i folded it in half
and sewed a teddy bear.

i stuffed cloth scraps inside
and stitched some black eyes,
and a nose,
and some claws
on the bear's four paws.

the bear stared at me
and looked a tad bare
so i found another scrap
and made him a bow tie.
he was pleased.

now i stare at him
soul friend from mid-air,
friend from nowhere,
formed of cloth,
polka dots
and a smart bow tie.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

What is the top priority you have in mind for your business?
Money? Customer satisfaction? Quality of service and products? Providing jobs?

Twenty years from now, what will bring you happiness? Knowing you have a large number behind the dollar sign on your bank statement? Seeing how the high school kids who started at your company now have families and are contributing the work ethic, skills, and responsibility they picked up working for you? Seeing customers buy more and more flimsy or disposable items, or seeing a bicycle or coffee percolator or TV remote that is still in use 15 years after their purchase? Knowing your customers by name after all these years? Remembering how you have shared your products and services with those in need? Are you happier hearing your workers greet you when you arrive, or watching them quake?

Will you take great pleasure in knowing your town has grown more stable, enjoys greater abundance, with the long-time presence of your business? Or will you have sold you company for a profit to a distant corporation, and moved away?

Friday, August 12, 2016

regarding television

we humans rather innocently grow to trust the personalities and the authority of the voices on television more than we trust our own ears and eyes when we step outside of our homes.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


will there be
a room for me
at the end of the day?
will there be a bed
and a pillow for my head?
a tub to rinse
the heat and grime
from my hair?
a chair
to lift my feet
and sit away
from noisy trucks and
cars for a time?
i'll write a poem
i'll share my sandwich
i'll take the pitcher
and fill the glasses
water plants
wash the dishes -
will there be
a room for me
at the end of the day?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

one soul
many forms -
i've seen You

Thursday, July 28, 2016

 travel notes

comb the
Arizona sands
pale blue sky
peaceful pace
in and out of

Thursday, July 14, 2016

the old story goes
that the father
of George -
who some day would be
our first president -
went into the orchard
to admire the young trees
and found that one
was chopped in half.
'Did you, George,
with your little axe
cut down
the cherry tree?'
'I cannot tell a lie,
Father. It was I.'
No coverup
from young George.
I wonder though
what has happened
to the tree
and why a child
might be given an axe
the quandary of america
oh say can you see

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

poem from whale's breath

as it all
fades away
at the end
of the day

as the past sinks
it starts to swim
the fragments bobbing
on the crest of a wave
tumbled to the tideline
along the beach

i really want to write about whales
their breath
the myths
the Biblical past
where Jonah journeyed
within an unnamed friend

whales speak
beneath the surface
but do we hear?

do we sleep better
as their lives decline?
our lives decline,
our existence
from theirs

the air outside is stale
so far from the oceans.
the sea horses and clams
the marlins and barnacles beckon

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A small act of sharing, or repair, like a single pebble tossed into the water, can ripple and bloom. Its good effects spread far and wide, past and future.

- i'm traveling this month, thus the recent lapses in posting.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mommies and Pops, it's not a bad idea to keep a small pack of gum in your pocket or purse. Sometimes your little kids - 3 and up - will start to squabble while you are in church or a library or someplace where the noise is not permitted, and you can't at that moment figure out what the problem is, if there is a problem. Half a stick of gum can temporarily provide quick relief. You can address the squabble details later if necessary.

(P.S. Save the wrapper for later. Proper disposal of the chewed-up miracle intervention is advised.)

Monday, June 27, 2016


i feast on apple pie
peanut butter
and peaches preserved;
walnut strudels
corn tortillas
cranberry muffins
with hot cafe
count my blessings
birds fetch the crumbs
and sometimes share
perhaps their fears
and sorrows fade
come apple pie
and walnut strudel

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Wouldn't it be neat to go to an art exhibit whose theme is ducks? There are art exhibits around the world, but I've never seen a duck art exhibit. There could be Audubon or Sibley paintings and sketches, there could be fine polished decoys, carved of hard woods. A Korean totem pole, with ducks calmly perched at the little platform on top would be quite moving.

Mallards and wood ducks swimming in a pond are such a peaceful sight. They float in a kind of unison, as though they are separate but in some way, contentedly connected. Ducks seem to be quite cheerful neighbors to us all. They don't attack and they don't squabble very much, just quack quack quack and dive for a little pond weed. Mother ducks are a remarkable sight, with their fluffy ducklings waddling single file behind them. 

I saw a mallard all alone on this morning's walk. A duck all alone appears a bit confused. What am I doing here? the solitary duck seems to ponder, standing motionless at the water's edge; something is missing.

Friday, June 24, 2016

God's violin

 God's violin

sparrows' chirping chirping
rising and falling within
the dry rustle of summer leaves.
buggy wheels rattle and growl;
baby's high pitches
pierce and slide;
shoes whisper
against the sidewalk pavement.
cars roar past -
then grumble and snore
in pause at the stop light.
pigeon's wings flutter
as he rises to a bough -
i listen for the sound
the chords of love
the bow against the strings
of God's violin

Thursday, June 23, 2016

In Passing by Albert Huffstickler

In Passing
by Albert Huffstickler

There's a way people come to know each other
without ever speaking -
like on a bus at night
or in an apartment house over the years,
passing each other in the hall,
meeting at the mail box;
eating in the same diner at opposite ends of the room,
passing in the street year after year
on the way to work or on the way home.
In the silence of the night sometimes,
faces come to us in the darkness -
the faces of people we have known
but never spoken to.
And in the night, these faces glow
with a gentle light
and they're like the faces of angels
descended from some high place
to tell us it's all right,
that the loneliness will end,
that somewhere in a place not known to us yet,
we're together and always have been.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


There was a siren, a type of salamander, that lived in our ditch when we were kids in the 1960s in south Louisiana. There was always an inch or two of water, and on a summer afternoon, we'd go out with a piece of thread and a bit of bacon or cheese to see if we could catch a crawfish. But sometimes, something much heavier tugged on the string. Slowly I'd pull so as the catch wouldn't let go. When I saw the great wide mouth and slippery body of the siren emerging from the mud, I'd drop the string and run away, hollering. I was the one that let go, and the siren got to eat the bacon or cheese appetizer.

I think about that salamander sometimes. It seemed to be living in the smooth thickness of mud, not on land nor in the water. How does a siren breathe in the mud? How do they reproduce? Are there families of sirens that live in the mud?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Maybe it was at age seven, for First Holy Communion, I received a gift. The gift was a book, a Holy Missal, bound in white and protected with a clear vinyl cover. The pages were very thin, and lined with gold. There were five slender ribbons of different colors, that let you mark your place without folding the corners of any of the pages. The section with the Holy Mass was written in Latin on the left page, and English on the right. The book was illustrated with pictures of  saints and the Holy Family in beautiful colors, and halos and suns that sparkled with light and very thin lines of gold. There was a section for Mass, for Rosaries, and for the yearly calendar that matched the saints to Masses on specific dates. The book also included a description of different items at the altar, and the vestments that the priest wore at Mass, and their significance.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The forge-fire sets a glow in the heavens,
the hammer thunders, showering the smoke with sparks.

A ruddy smithy, the white face of the moon,
and the hammer, ringing down cold dark canyons.

Li T'ai-po
translator: Hamil

I like a poem that takes the reader to another place and time.
Li Po composed this from China in the 700s.

Friday, June 17, 2016


schools of pogies 
sailed along 
the shallow waters
of the Mississippi coast
flashing silver
silent lightning
as they leapt into
the sunlit sky

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A to B

Straight line gets you to your destination, A to B; triangles do not.

(Line so direct, so fast. Triangles wandering all over the place.)

Triangles will get you to your destination, A to B; One straight line will not.

(Line so stuck in two dimensions, so easy to roadblock. Triangles take you off the page to other points and to your destination.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

the Moon's story

and the Moon showed up
in the blue room
and shared its story

the Moon big and round
mottled and glowing
filled the room

and no one peeped
or argued, or made a sound -
awed that the Moon had voice.

the Moon finished,
departed without conversing;
the room felt big and empty.

the others in the blue room left.
they found themselves outside,

by the Moon's voice
the Moon's story

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

when logic does not work
and instinct fails us
when we can't quite locate
those we have loved
and learned to trust -
not friends
nor family nor creatures -
when even God
is beyond a Wall-
we sometimes reach out in the dark -
resort to crazy little habits -
dog paddle to keep afloat -
till God flows in the wind again
large and glowing as the clouds
or shining
from the hearts
of kin,
man, toad, or beetle
or arching tree,
in the love from a stranger
or light from a foe.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Dirt is a good word. It's short and strong. The word stands for something rich and fundamental to life on our amazing planet. I don't know for sure, but I think it must be made out of a bit of everything. Rock and leaves and feathers and shedded snakeskin; potatoes and whiskers and paper cups and watermelon seeds; seashells and seaweed and mistletoe and lost socks. It would take me a few thousand pages to list everything.

Almost everything we eat relies upon dirt as much as it relies upon water and sun. Dirt loves up the trees and the corn and the shrubs covered with berries.

Dirt comes in many colors. Our dirt in south Louisiana was black in the 1950s and 60s. When we drove up through Alabama, the dirt we saw was a deep reddish orange color as we approached the Smoky Mountains. Some dirt ranges from beige to nearly white.

When we were kids, digging was fun. There were worms and beetles and mites to be found. Was it The Three Stooges who taught us on television that if we dug deep enough, we would come out in China?

The lady who helped care for us when our parents were out of town gave me a spoon and a pan. She came back and poured water on a bare bit of earth, and left me to it. It was fun making mud muffins.

Life is good, and dirt isn't bad. Dirt is essential to earth's goodness.

Saturday, June 11, 2016


Pictures of hippopotamuses (or is it hippopotami?)often show these great languid beasts keeping cool and groovy in the bed of mud in the shallows or along the edges of a pond or river. Almost like trees, its as though they are rooted, connected to the dirt of the earth. Do they worry about germs and worms? That, I do not know.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Orion's belt; his scabbard.
Casseiopeia's Chair.
Big Dipper.

I like living in the city, walking distance to groceries, parks, and libraries. For so many years of my life, I lived in rural areas. The words above just came to mind, and I realize, city citizen that I am, I do miss past nighttime neighbors in the dark night sky.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Nativity, encore

The Nativity story has survived 2000 years. It is rich with hardship and with joy, celebrating a birth that happens far from home. I like the part of the wise visitors who follow a very bright star or comet, to reach the birthplace. I like that it takes place outdoors, under a starry sky. Almost every artwork or other representation of the Nativity pictures other animals, present and calm, as well as humans. There may be a donkey, who carried the mother while she was in labor. An ox or a cow is usually included. Chickens sometimes are there, and a camel near the wise men. I can't think of any other popular stories where a human infant is born amidst other species. Their presence may have helped keep the birthplace warm. And I like that there are shepherds, informed in the dark of night by angels singing. The shepherds show up with their staffs and their sheep, curious about a baby born in an open barn, moved by the mom, dad, and baby with their halos glowing.

I see I wrote about the Nativity last December, not that long ago, and don't know why it came up again today. There are those who believe the birth actually occurred in spring, when the sheep were lambing.

Here is the the previous entry I posted:

There are few folktales, myths, songs, or stories from history that celebrate the experience of giving birth. The most notable exception is the Christmas eve celebration of the Nativity, the Biblical story of the birth of a Jewish baby two thousand years ago who was named Jesus and who became the holy man who is at the core of Christian religions. Whether or not one is Christian, many appreciate the story, and all that it carries, of a baby born far from home in the starry night in the only housing available to the journeying parents: a barn with a feed trough that was a perfect size to hold a newborn. It's the only story I know of a birth surrounded by other species on our planet: the donkey, the cow, possibly some sheep and chickens, some angels, and eventually a camel or two. It's the story of the birth of a specific child, but it's also the story of every birth, the story that every newborn is a wondrous gift.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Little green yard lizards have necks that expand and turn rosy red when they are seeking a mate. 'Come hither!' the bright splash of swelling color seems to say. Fireflies (a.k.a. lightning bugs) have  bodies that blink brightly in the night. 'Here I am!' they seem to say. People have faces that turn rosy with interest and shyness. The pupils of their eyes dilate. 'Umm. Do you like me?' their faces seem to say. Frogs croak over and over: 'Come find me! I'm at the pond!'

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


In the mornings, sometimes I watch a bird who trots about, feeding morsels of food to other birds. Gift giving is an interesting tradition. Sometimes it's an exchange. Sometimes we give gifts for an event, such as birthdays, weddings, graduations, the arrival of an infant. Sometimes we are showered with gifts from someone who gives with love, who does not expect anything in return. We someday come to honor the giver's generous spirit by giving to others, without desiring anything in return.

Monday, June 6, 2016

beneath turtle's shell

beneath the arc
of turtle's shell
carries earth
on her shoulders

Saturday, June 4, 2016

I'm not very knowledgeable about types of dance nor the histories of ballet, waltz, and cha-chas. That said, I've been thinking about flamenco lately. Some weeks back, I noticed a skirt in a clothing store that was long and black with layers of taffeta ruffles along an angled hemline. The skirt looked like something performers on television might wear when dancing a flamenco. The word and dance flamenco perched in my mind a while. Flamenco might be the Spanish term for flamingo, the tall pink wading bird. Flamingos at one time were, for some reason unknown to me, popular here in Austin, Texas. There was a restaurant that sold black t-shirts with a row of pink flamingos. There was a bit of a tug-of-war, not a battle, about whether it was okay to have statues of pink flamingos in one's yard. Did pink flamingos make the neighborhood tacky or cool? That said, the only real flamingos I remember may have lived at the zoo in San Antonio.

Anyhow. I've been thinking about the flamenco, and how the dancers use their layered skirts in the same way that birds fan their feathered wings in mating rituals, using slow, seductive motion. I've been thinking about the clicking of castanets during the dance, and how perhaps they sound something like crickets chirping in the background. I've written in the past how some of the old pieces of classical music include sound patterns and repetitions similar to the songs of certain birds. The flamenco is a dance that seems to recreate the beauty and wild formality of life. We humans, via dance and music, remain, in our way, interwoven with the other species that share the planet earth.

Friday, June 3, 2016

cheese and dairy -

We went to a university that had an agricultural school. Part of that program included cattle. The students ran an ice cream parlor, Ferdinand's, which sold products from the cows in their dairy program: rich, sweet ice cream. The students also made a selection of cheeses, sold by the school. One cheese was named after the school mascot, another named for the mascot of a rival university just across the state line. The cheeses were sold in wheel shaped portions sealed in wide, flat, round cans, and could be stored for long periods of time. They were very, very good.

Cheese has an ancient history around the world. In some cultures, it is a staple in people's diets. Milk products from animals that grazed in sunlit fields keep us healthy in places where winters are cold and very clouded, and little fresh food is avaialble. They keep the rest of us nourished as well. Cheese is mostly made of milk, which is a complete food that meets all of the nutritional needs of calves, kids, and lambs. We humans accept some of that milk, a whole food, for our own well-being. We are so grateful to the animals that share the milk they produce. Milk, yogurt, ice cream and cheese all contribute to our health and happiness.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

When reviewing photos and sketches from varied cultures past and present, one characteristic that stands out about humans is hair. Customs regarding hair care and appearance vary widely and wildly from location to location, and era to era.

The men in parliament and congress past wore their own hair, or wigs, long and primly curled. American men during WWII wore buzz cuts; during the Civil War, many pictures show men with hair untended altogether. Some times and places, women are expected to cover their hair, usually with cloth or veils. Some women in Africa wear wraps of colorful fabric around their heads.  Scarves or babushkas were once popular in the Ukraine, Russia, eastern Europe. There are the starched Dutch ladies' caps with little wings. The long draped scarves for Islamic women at times are hotly debated.

Women have worn their hair piled neatly atop their heads, or flowing down, unkempt. There are braids in Germany and among the native peoples of the American continents. Afros and dreadlocks, as do oils and dry looks. Helmet shaped hairdos come and go among men and women. Some styles take hours to prepare; some are spit and go. Some cultures remove sections or all of their hair. For example medieval monks wore a round bald spot atop their heads. Much time and debate focuses on hair issues, what is acceptable, what is not. One year the women here are curling their hair using 'permanents'. The next, we are ironing it straight as a board. Short hair for men in some decades was preferred within Christian, conservative groups, yet Christ is always pictured with long hair. The Biblical story of Samson and Delilah is a curious one, as thought there were some power lost in the cutting of Samson's hair. Some people like spiky hair, multi-colored hair, humorous hair. Grey hair can be a sign of dignity and wisdom, or 'over the hill'.

The way hair is worn communicates messages about our genes, who we are, and when and where we have lived. It can communicate our occupations and something of our personalities. There is a surprising amount of fuss over who wears their hair this way or that. Some people will not come out of their homes if their hair is not just so.

Do we tend toward prim or alluring?
Rich or poor?
Regimented or wild?

This tribe or that?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

All those years, we thought of outer space as empty, a vacuum.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

noble fly

Once upon a time, there was a noble fly. His name was Barney. Barney was a magnificent creature, a quarter inch long, with transparent wings that glittered in sunlight. He could fly up. He could fly down. He could fly all around. His eyes had many, many facets and he could see almost everything in all directions around him. His reflexes were such that if danger approached, like the tongue of a frog, he was up and gone before the frog could catch him. He groomed himself while perched on a twig, and liked to fly to flowers, and walk - he had six feet! - deep into the tunnel inside to find nectar.

One day, he was perched on a box at an airport and before he knew it, he and the box were loaded into the cabin of a spaceship. There was big noise and he was rattled and confused and so kept very still atop the box. When the ship landed, he flew around the cabin and through a very big tunnel.  Nothing seemed quite normal.  That's because the noble earth fly was now on the moon...

Saturday, May 28, 2016


The past shifts just as the future shifts - according to what we're doing now, in the present.

Friday, May 27, 2016


Yoga teacher Kathleen Douglas ended each class with these words:

'May you be happy, healthy, and whole. Namaste!'

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Lima beans taste fine right out of the can.

Our mother, who called them 'butter beans', had a way of preparing them, though, that enhanced their flavor and texture.


1 can of lima beans
1 large pat of butter
a pinch of salt and black pepper

Open the can with a can opener, leaving the lid partly attached. Drain about a third of the liquid. (This will not be used in the preparation.) Pour the rest of the liqid into a saucepan. Add the butter, salt and pepper. Cook on low heat for about ten minutes, permitting the liquid to simmer. Stir occasionally. Add the lima beans, and heat another fifteen or twenty minutes. Stir occasionally. The lima beans become tender, and the liquid thickens to a gravy-like consistency.

If you like, serve with mashed potatoes or corn bread.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bats, mice, kids, dromedaries,
woodpeckers, squirrels,
and turtles eat berries.
Moose, foxes, bears, kangaroos,
raccoons and butterflies
eat berries, too.
Rain falls
and sun shines down -
the earth is crumbly
black and divine.
On land and near creeks
where lawn mowers stall
berries grow wild
and spread to feed all.
Strawberries and blackberries
on angel food cake
a heavenly feast
so simple to make.

Monday, May 23, 2016

'I believe that God is in me as the sun is in the colour and fragrance of a flower - the Light in my darkness, the Voice in my silence.'  

Helen Keller

Saturday, May 21, 2016

chewing cane

During the 1960s, come fall in south Louisiana, on two-lane country roads, you might come upon open trucks filled with sweet potatoes or filled with sugar cane rattling to processing plants. Sometimes, near our house, a stick of sugar cane could be found at the edge of the road. At the local A&P grocery store, they sold sticks of cane, perhaps 8 inches long. We would take a stick of cane, and our mother or father would peel off some of the hard exterior. We then could chew on the moist tough sweet interior, and spit out the fiber when finished.

Friday, May 20, 2016


My First Book of Knots by Berndt Sundsten and Jan Jager contains the following little ditty to remember how to tie a basic knot called the bowline.

'A field mouse comes out of its hole, runs around the tree, and then goes back into its hole.'

There's a bit of information on the fisherman's knot as well.

'It's said that sailors used to send a thin string or silk ribbon with this knot to their girlfriends to see if they were still in love with and loyal to them. If the knot came back properly set, everything was as it should be. If not, then things were over.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


If you happen to be vegetarian, and you keep a small farm, what would happen if a friend contributed a piglet to your family? We know about bacon and ham, but what would the pig offer in a barnyard that does not prepare animals for the butcher?

Pigs have a reputation for being quietly wise. They have a most acute sense of smell. This makes sense given that in the wild, animals in the pig family search for tasty roots and fungi with their flat noses close to the ground. They are known to be helpful to humans in locating wild truffles in the woods.

I don't know much about pigs (or hogs, or boars), so I don't know the answer to my questions. Would a pig (a mammal like dogs, cats and humans) make a good friend? Would the domesticated pig we know today survive in the wild?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


i won't describe the moon - go look yourself today or night!
i won't write about bees and flowers - go listen, go see!
i won't write about wine - go have a sip, go sniff and taste!
i won't transform croaking frogs into words - go outside and hear!
i won't describe the wonder of a hug - may you be hugged

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

As a kid in Louisiana, I got to see fields of green cane, blowing in the breeze. Dairies and rice fields were not far from our home. It wasn't very hard to find corn, sweet potatoes, cotton, tomatoes, figs, or pecans. 

I've made several trips to Florida in my life, and seen groves of oranges. In eastern Washington state, I saw miles of wheat fields in what was called the Palouse.

In central Texas, I discovered fields of peaches and grapes.

Of late, I've wondered about foods and beverages I enjoy, but know little about. I've never seen a coffee tree, nor tea leaves growing. I've never seen an olive tree.

Monday, May 16, 2016

3 sparrow poems


the library is quiet
so quiet
hear sparrows
sweetly sing


hops through
clothing store door,
pauses, head tilted.
hear cashier sing


library's quiet -
cell phones, computers
hear sparrows
sweetly sing

happy a.i.

Friday, May 13, 2016

As a relatively new psychotherapist, I used to think about how I could help clients to spend their session with me in a most productive way. How could I shorten the gab and get to the heart of what was troubling them? With the passage of time, I came to realize it made no difference what a client brought up, whether it was what they had for breakfast or the major concerns in their world. If I listened, the big picture was evident no matter what subject matter was introduced, no matter how they spent their brief time with me. Sometimes, discussing breakfast was more effective than focusing on their troubling wounds.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Barbara Jordan

There is something auspicious
about sitting near
the Barbara Jordan statue
under the shady trees
on the campus
of University of Texas

her hands are on her hips.
i overhear
'you know she don't take no truck
from nobody'
and you can tell
that's truth
by her sturdy stance

she looks calm though
and wise as can be
and her words
on the plaque
burn like starlight
my liberty
my rights
my equality
and yours too

i tremble
just a little
as i walk near -
her faith, hope and charity
that confident
that present.
i walk away
in sweet air uplifted
her devotion to right
not wrong
that eternal

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

layered life

hermits like me
we waltz from dream to dream

the layers of life
i can see and hear
children rushing
from to to fro in the library
as i type

rise and fall
within my head
the talking heads
whether i participate
or no

banana tree leaves
shelter the shade below
nod, nuzzle, and wave
one to the other
weary of the heat

shadows expand and shrink
wrestle and laugh
on sidewalks and balconies.
they take shape and fade
like cloud pictures in the sky

Monday, May 9, 2016


When we are newborns, we gradually learn to distinguish the blur of colors and shapes around us, to recognize them as individual objects, as parents, as the doggy, as the blanket, as big sister, as the spoon. We learn to pay attention to the objects and individuals, and to somewhat ignore the shadows they cast as something intangible.  We learn the require less focused attention than the light reflected off the surrounding creatures and furniture and objects.

In my 60s, as I write in this blog I named 'the dark & the light', I've come to take more notice of shade. Perhaps we underestimate shadow.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

pat pat pat pat
the children's feet
scramble up and down
the stairs
- nearly two centuries ago -
of Longfellow's poem.
perhaps today
there are great great
great great
perhaps they can be heard
somewhere now
on somewhere stairs
their own
little feet
tumbling in abandon
making noise
making symphony
with ancient ancestors
who also live
still wild and child
their feet
still heard
in Longfellow's poem.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

process and product

I like to draw and write. I've completed poems, essays, short stories, children's books, a novel and a half, et cetera. I have framed some of the art I've created.

These days, I don't think so much about the end product. Even when I have no idea of what I want to draw or write, inking dots and penciling lines, perhaps in a rhythmic, repetetive way, helps me to break through the blocks, break through both on the paper and in life.
The daily process in itself - drawing, blogging - enriches my life. 
Some people live goal-oriented lives; some live fully within the daily details. Sometimes it's the end product that we strive for. Sometimes, it's the process, the everyday journey more than the destination, that keeps us whole and happy.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, April 30, 2016


During the last half of the 20th century, now and again I had the opportunity to take a motorboat ride or a ride on a little sailboat out into the Gulf of Mexico. Many times, we happened to see this narrow ribbon of debris floating parallel to the coast some distance out. It looked like foam and bits of human litter riding a wave poised between rolling in one direction or the other. Our dad told us that this line marked the tide, as it either approached the shore or was moving out again.

This ribbon is a visible marker of the turning point of the tides. As the earth spins one full rotation each calendar day, the pattern of the sun's and moon's gravitational pulls on earth shifts. There are high tides and low tides each day, daily patterns.

The biggest high tides come when the sun and moon are in alignment on one side of earth. That occurs at new moon. The lowest tides come when the sun and moon are most separate in the sky from the perspective of the earth. At full moon, the moon rises as sun sets - they are tugging at earth from opposite directions. These are monthly shifts in the tides.

The gravity of the sun and moon as the earth rotates on its (invisible) 'spindle' affects the wax and wane of seas and lakes. The tides thus are also a significant factor in weather fluctuations. The rhythm of life and the activities of many species on the planet are intermeshed with tidal activity. The tides could metaphorically be described as the breathing pattern of the earth.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

I like browsing through dictionaries, especially the very big dictionaries on pulpit-like wood tables in libraries. I like the little illustrations that accompany a few words on each page. Sometimes, the definitions of a few words wake up something in the mind. Here are four words I found today - as is - in Webster's Third New International Dictionary - Unabridged, copyright 2002. 

deer oak n: a small shrubby oak (Quereus sadleriana) of dry uplands of western U.S. that produces abundant acorns relished by deer, bear and cattle

basi: a fermented beverage prepared by natives of the Philippines


2 kindling n: an act of giving birth - used chiefly of a rabbit

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016

Bits of wisdom have come my way from family and friends, teachers and strangers, across the years. Sometimes, the memories of most of our interactions are shed, and I hold tight to the morsel that still shines bright.

Sometimes, I don't think to include the animals and trees and different forms of wildlife as bearers of wisdom, but they are. I could list quite a few, but our small family cat, Ashley, comes to mind at this time. She had a habit, especially when my husband was away, of bringing treasures into our house through the cat door to my attention. There was a small bat who clung to our ceiling fan, a cottontail bunny who darted behind the bookcase, a quite large iguana-type lizard that she set in my husband's closet atop his shoes. There was a Carolina wren. She was very gentle in how she carried them - they were not injured, and we returned each to their outdoor habitat.

It was a bit of a challenge to carry a foot-and-a-quarter long reptile back outside. At the time, she worried me - was she a danger to the outdoor animals? But she did not seem to be exhibiting an instinct to kill.

I can't put into words exactly what I learned. Sometimes I wonder if the visitors she carried into the house somehow permitted her to do this. I mean - how could she capture a bat and that big of a lizard? It was as though she was sharing something about the outdoors with us people in front of our TV indoors.

Friday, April 22, 2016

video games

Video games surfaced during the era
when it became accepted and common
for both parents to work away from the home.

As with books,
one can spend time
immersed in invented fanatsy worlds
of video games.

Unlike with books,
many of the journeys, plots, and details of video games,
on screens, however tiny or large,
can be shaped by the player.

One can choose a cartoon figure on the screen,
change the character's eye color, clothing preferences,
haircut, and other aspects of appearance to please the player.
The player decides at the start of the game:
This shall be me.

Then the player guides the cartoon figure like a video puppet,
along pixelated roads, forests, castles, and stairways,
(squares of data dots -
zeros and ones)
meeting up with treasures and dangers along the way.

Kids who have grown up spending long hours
of reduced supervision inside their homes
found entertainment and discovery,
developed complex skills through such games.
This has resulted in tremendous effects
on the minds of the players,
and on the physical world around us all.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Imagine you are an only child with a mom and a dad. How much do they hover regarding what you eat, what you wear, and what you are to be when you grow up? How often and how much must you share the things in your room with others?

Imagine you are one of 14 children - say, number 10 of 14. How much do your parents worry about you in particular, about what and how much you eat? Do you ever have a room to yourself? Do you stand out in your family, or do you pick and choose, hide and seek, without anybody noticing?

Imagine you are the youngest of three. You follow your sibs everywhere because they are like gods. Your older siblings are always smarter than you - they can already read and add when you can just count to ten. They can ride a bike without falling over. Are you smart too?

Imagine you are the oldest of the three, and you always have to watch that the younger don't get into trouble. Maybe the younger are very precious to you, maybe they're nuisances that tear your favorite book or color on top of your homework. Maybe they're both, your precious nuisances.

Maybe you're in the middle, and feel neither the first to achieve, nor the beloved baby of the family.

So many early circumstances shape our lives and our beliefs about ourselves. Family size, parental presence or absence, and birth order are fundamental, deeply imbedded factors in who we become.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

mint & watercress

Mint flourishes so abundantly. One little plant tucked into the soil near a drippy outdoor faucet grows quickly and so fragrantly.

A children's book of the past, 'The Bobbsey Twins Go to the Country', refers to watercress growing near a pond on a farm. Bert, Nan, Flossie and Freddie gather watercress leaves and eat watercress sandwiches for lunch. When I read the story, I wondered how that would taste. Half a century has passed, and I have yet to find a watercress sandwich.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

picket fence

Mark Twain's fictional character Tom Sawyer was given the job of whitewashing a picket fence. The weather was mild and he was just a kid and he got tired or bored after painting a foot or two of fence. As pals came by to see what he was doing, they visited and Tom became aware of a way that he could get the fence painted with almost no effort on his part, and maybe a bit of gain. Before you know it, his friends were almost fighting for a turn at painting the fence.

It's been many many years since I read Tom Sawyer, but as I recall, the fence was whitewashed in record time - maybe with two or three coats.

Monday, April 18, 2016

'Saint Bernard is a large, intelligent dog that became famous for rescuing lost travelers. The dog was developed during the 1600s by a group of monks in the monastery of St. Bernard, in the Alps of Switzerland. At that time, many people traveled in the Alps on foot. Some lost their way or became buried in sudden snowdrifts or snowstorms. The St. Bernard was trained to rescue such people. With its keen sense of smell, the dog could find people who were buried in the snow. After it had found the lost traveler, it called for help by barking.'

Quoted from The World Book Encyclopedia
copyright 2015
S-Sn Volume 17

Thursday, April 14, 2016


it's not just that you
are dozing off here and there
comfy in your big chair
in front of the TV screen
what happened, you ask,
did i miss the end of the show?
reality does take leaps now and then
like a skipping stone -
or the wrist watch with a second hand
that ticks only on even numbers
leaping over the odds -
a town you miss
driving down the road
you ask,
did i blink?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

apple trees and Oz

The movie 'The Wizard of Oz' was broadcast once a year on television when I was a kid in the 1960s. It was a big event for children and grown-ups. Judy Garland plays the role of Dorothy, the little girl who, with her dog Toto, gets caught and injured in a tornado. The dream world she discovers while unconscious is colorful, and sometimes quite scary.

One scene has Dorothy and her new companions, the Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow, trekking through the woods on a journey to find the wizard who might help Dorothy and Toto return home to Kansas. They pick some apples in the woods, but the trees have mean faces and throw apples at the travelers who run away to keep from getting pelted.

I found that scene a little scary. But sometimes, now I'm grown-up, I think about how big and ancient those trees looked. Were they modeled after real apple trees? I wonder how those apples tasted.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I like watching bees. I like watching squirrels and grackles, dogs and flies. I also like to watch golfers. Pairs, singles, clusters of three or four. They walk and they pause among the trees and upon the swaths and mounds of green, and across the little creek. They walk and they pause. Sometimes, they take a stick out of their bags. One by one, they swing and whack at a tiny ball. They send it rolling, or they send it flying through the air. From a distance, a grackle and a squirrel are watching one golfer. The golfer looks frustrated and pretends to break his stick over his knee. A dog is watching me. I watch the clusters of golfers walk and pause, walk and pause, like game pieces on a great game board.

Monday, April 11, 2016

the tufts of white
could not be snow
drifting on a gentle breath
of April air

beyond, near the creek bank
stood an aged trunk
a mighty tree 
the cottonwood
shedding its white debris

i reached and caught
a bit of fluff
a faint-weight nest
of faint-weight seeds

carrying the hopes
of the cottonwood tree

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Friday, April 8, 2016

I can't find it any more. There was something otherworldly about it - the few minutes of video on from film from a small town Idaho television broadcast circa 1959. It was one of those Saturday-afternoon type shows, where locals got a little air time. (Most programs at night and weekday mornings back then were from national broadcasting companies.)

This youtube clip had about a dozen high school kids doing the walk, a kind of dance or promenade that actually has ancient roots, to a popular slow-rhythm radio melody. The boys were on the right side, the girls on the left. One by one, they paired up, and kind of boogy-walked slowly down the middle of the lines. They looked camera shy - all of Idaho was pretty rural - and earnest, dressed in their best, stepping away from childhood into adulthood.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


Sunshine for birds and bugs and primates such as the human toddler in a buggy yesterday...

some people count and study and isolate specifics about the various vitamins and minerals that nourish most species of life on earth. Is it possible one can sum up the vitamins as sunshine? perhaps not the minerals, which come to us dissolved in water - from the rivers and from limestone-lined aquifers...but vitamins may come from our bodies absorbing sunlight (Vitamin D being one we associate with sun), and embracing foods - oranges, grapes, vegetables - that take shape in the sun. We drink milk and eat cheese, yogurt, pudding, and other milk products from cows who graze in the sunshine and eat grasses that reach toward the sun, grasses that are reliant on sunlight for growth. As are we.

Most life on the planet has evolved under the sun, and very likely is dependent on, intricately interlaced with, sunlight. Sunlight may not provide vitamins, but be the vitamins.

I do not 100 percent know that this is true, but I ponder at times.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Sometimes you receive a little gift that you never would have thought to ask for, but that grows big over time in meaning and value. As a kid, I received a necklace - a thin chain - with a  very small pendant - a sphere of water with a seed in it. In the box was a bit of paper with a quote something like this: If you have faith as in a mustard seed, nothing will befall you.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Some time around the turn of the century, there was a news article about the largest living thing on earth. Scientists had decided it was a fungus - was it in the Minnesota area? - that stretched for many miles beneath the surface of the soils, and from which mushrooms erupted here and there.

I blogged a little blurb about that, and have also blogged a couple of times about about the Redwood trees and Sequoia, how new trees spring from their roots, a circle of new trees around the oldest tree.

Perhaps there have been trees interconnected via the roots across large masses of land - where acres of a certain species of tree, a whole forest, are actually one living entity. Of course, if we open this door a little wider, we might understand that all life is networked in some way; trees and possums and Cajuns and barnacles that are individuals are yet all connected, one life.

Monday, April 4, 2016


When I was perhaps five years old, my family and I visited a friend who had a swimming pool. The most shallow part of the pool was close to four feet deep - I spent much of my time in the strongly chlorinated water clinging to the edge of the pool, afraid of letting go and breathing water up my nose.

My dad taught me two things I remember still. One was that if someone was ever drowning, you could save them by pulling them through the water by their hair to a safe spot out of the water. You have to be careful their face is upward so they are not breathing water. That sounded crazy, and like it would hurt, but he pulled me around the pool by my hair, floating on my back and it didn't hurt. It was fun.

The other thing he taught me was the 'dead man's float', which is a way to stay alive if you're in deep water and too tired to swim. He said you don't even have to know how to swim to do this.

Unlike when being rescued by one's hair, this is face down. You float in a calm relaxed way, without fighting the water. Your arms and legs are limp and motionless. You hold your breath long as you can, then turn your head up, out of the water to catch another breath, and relax again, face down. He said you can survive for many hours this way if necessary.

Over the years, I learned to love swimming. There are a few times in the Gulf of Mexico I've been pulled by an undertow, and become afraid. The dead man's float kept me calm until I could swim back to shore again.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

and today came the wild onions
and the one-eyed bears

As psychologists in training, we were taught to pay attention to the details of dreams, our own dreams as well as those of clients. If something was vivid, an orange citrine, or a tiger in a taxi cab, we didn't have to know what it meant, but we could give it a nod in some way during the waking day.

As the years have flowed forward, I've come to see that the details of the waking day, such as wild onions showing up in different settings in a single day, can be just as vivid, and just as worthy of respectful attention as the images in dreams. Such encounters are sometimes the source of what I share on this blog each day.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Chimney swifts and gorillas
came my way today.

Thursday, March 31, 2016


I've paid bills since I was 19. It was kind of fun then - I had my parents behind me, and roommates, and it just seemed like an exercise in being grown-up. Apartment rent, utilities, phone. That was about it. There were only a few transient concerns about whether I had enough in the bank to pay the monthly obligations. It was thrilling to be so close to being grown-up.

Over forty years later, it is the last day of the month, and tomorrow I shall sit down and gather the rent, utilities, psuedo-utilities, cell-phone, car insurance, storage unit rent, and credit card bills together. It's a bit of a sweat, times are tight, and I worry for two days each month as I complete what sometimes seems more like an ordeal than a simple chore. Then, I live frugally, and I set aside financial worries for the rest of the month.

Twelve times a year for forty years. Twelve times a year for millions of people.

It could be better; it could be worse. We count our blessings.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I was reading about trends in positive psychology today, and came upon a paragraph about hope therapy. What stuck in my mind was a tiny phrase: 'Hope buddy'. For some people, hope comes to life when a friend is sharing their exploration for hope.

The little phrase lead to all sorts of silvery threads and glow-in-the-dark thoughts. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


i like things
that flutter in the breeze
flags on a tall tall pole
wind socks
and Tibetan prayers
Mexican scissored
squares of paper
aspen leaves
whether green or gold.
i like the triangles of foil
strung above car sales lots
and lowering sails
on great tall ships
monarch butterflies
rise and fall
coasting on an autumn norther
but most pleasing of all
are memories of wandering
through my family's
sheets and shorts
and pillow slips
wee socks
and tee shirts
as i hung them on the line
sweet damp and cool
under the hot dry sky

Monday, March 28, 2016

Illness and injury are not pleasant experiences, yet sometimes they open us to other ways to experience strength and vitality, despite diminished physical wellness.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

black & white

black office chair
black shelves
the light on the ceiling
is a quadrangle of white
shaped by the window frame
through which sun shines bright
black, white,
black, white
I look and I stare
the draw is
visually - magnetic
spiritually - charismatic
the appeal
of dark and light
in the absolute
of black and white

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The magnolia tree branch
lay in the road
its leaves glossy
and dense with green

though it was
newly disconnected
from roots,
from its tree,
the leaves stood alert
and cheerful
ready to embrace
the twists and turns
the new growth
or dry mulch ahead
in life

as though the future
holds nothing
but good
whatever shape
it might take

Monday, March 14, 2016


the dough
the moulah
the spinach
the cash
the bucks
the dollars
el dinero
the grand

money money money
we dig holes
we fill holes
all night
and all day
so we can
bring home
the bacon
bring home
the baht

Sunday, March 13, 2016

from Macbeth

from Act 1, Scene 6
by William Shakespeare


This guest of summer
The temple-haunting martlet does approve
By his loved mansionry that the heaven's breath
Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze,
Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird
Hath made his pendant bed and procreant cradle:
Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed,
The air is delicate.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

earth layers

In science class in 7th grade, there was an image in a book of how something like a pipe could be inserted in the ground and then pulled up. The contents could then be analyzed. One could see the various layers of soils, clays, earth that lay below. Those layers in a way told the natural formative history of local lands, and gave information about nutrient content, acidity, density and water. This information could be used by farmers trying to determine what crops might fair best in this location. It might be used by investors and explorers seeking petroleum.

When we humans carry out major projects with huge machinery, and hollow out the land to great depths, I suppose we lose some of that ancient history. Sometimes we use such diggings as filler elsewhere. The land becomes more like rubble. While many wonderful plants and trees can indeed grow atop this jumbled material, something of the natural integrity of the land and the life it supported is lost.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How to Help a Suffering Elephant

Soak the elephant's front feet
in washtubs of very warm water
to which 1/2 cup of baking soda has been added.

Speak gently and confidently.

When the water has cooled to room temperature
take one foot at a time out of the water
to gently trim any broken nails or debris.

Wrap the foot in a soft towel.
When dry,
pull a really soft slipper sock
onto the foot.

Repeat this process
for the rear feet.

Monday, March 7, 2016

dish water roses

There is a detail from a piece of writing that has remained with me. Unfortunately, I don't recall if it was from a novel, biography, or perhaps a newspaper essay. The writer mentioned a rose bush, wild and gnarly, that was in their yard. The mom in the family had a habit of saving the rinse water after washing the dishes. She would carry the pan of water to the rose bush each day and empty it there. Though the area had experienced some very dry years, the rose bush thrived.

Friday, March 4, 2016

'Small sweat lodges were often made of mud and covered with mats and tree branches. Larger sweat lodges might be made of logs. In one kind of sweat lodge, the entrance was sealed from the outside and then someone poured water over hot rocks that had been placed on the floor [ground?]. This created steam, which caused the people in the sweat lodge to perspire. Sweat lodge ceremonies were designed to purify the body, cure illnesses, and influence spirits. Most sweat lodges were built near rivers so the people using them could jump into cool water after leaving the lodge.'

quoted from
Indians of the Northwest Coast and Plateau
World Book
a Scott Fetzer company

Thursday, March 3, 2016

u can dance

you can take lessons and learn to play the piano
&/or u can play the piano

you can study agriculture and learn about farming
&/or u can grow a garden

you can memorize prayers and learn to pray
&/or u can just pray

you can take ballet, tap, and square dance lessons
&/or u can dance

u can dance

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Lyrics to the song 'Beautiful'
from Stephen Sondheim's 'Sunday in the Park with George'
(as printed in his book Look, I Made a Hat):


Old Lady

It keeps changing.
I see towers
Where there were trees.

Going. All the stillness,
The solitude,

All the time,
When things were beautiful...


All things are beautiful,
All trees, all towers,
That tower -
Beautiful, Mother,

A perfect tree.

Pretty isn't beautiful, Mother.
Pretty is what changes.
What the eye arranges
Is what is beautiful.

Old Lady



I'm changing.
You're changing.

Old Lady

It keeps fading...


I'll draw us now before we fade,

Old Lady

It keeps melting before our eyes.


You watch
While I revise the world.

Old Lady

As we sit here -
Quick, draw it all, Georgie!


Sundays -

Old Lady

As we look.



Old Lady

You make it beautiful.

Oh, Georgie, how I long for the old view.

Monday, February 29, 2016

I've been thinking of works by a famous artist of the 1930s, Escher. The public is probably most familiar with his clever sketches of stairways with people walking on both sides of the lines forming the steps, a kind of 'trompe d'oeil'. There's a sense of plain methodical logic that carries the viewer into a fantastical state of existence. He also created numerous works of wildlife, such as birds, frogs, fish. Like his stairway art (which has a touch of art deco architecture about it) the creatures he draws are simple and precisely drawn. He creates patterns that play with the perceptions of the viewer - the fishes visually fold into birds and back into fishes, depending on what parts of the art you focus on. What entrances me is that something as concrete and straightforward as his sketches can capture the flow of qi or soul, as though the essence of a school of fish might transform into that of a flock of birds, and back again into that of fish.