Monday, June 30, 2014

Finding God's Grace in the Garden

through the lens
of a camera
to watch an ant crawl on the
vein of a leaf
to follow a bee on a petal
or wait for a butterfly to land
while you hold still

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Illusive Memory

Sven Birkerts's book The Art of Time; explores the why and how of memoir writing.

He writes, " The memoirist is generally not after the sequenced account of his life so much as the story or stories that have  given that life it's internal shape."

That's quite an assignment. It demands honesty, digging through the shards of accumulated details. It means pushing aside those memories that are on the surface to find those that were foundational.

I have read memoirs that never moved beyond a " and then " stage. Memoirs that parade the author around like a horse and pony show.

Finding our stories --moving past the dross and mining our experiences, may be liberating or a daunting task.

Why not drag along a mirror and skip a linear recitation.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Not Chance

I love the unexpected. Today while out on a photo shoot I chanced upon a conversation with a professional photographer.

We talked about waiting for the right moment and how often that moment is unexpected. If you rush through the day it's easy to miss.

Friday, June 27, 2014


until you see a
flat rock and a panorama
of rocks you passed
on the way
up to

Thursday, June 26, 2014

After So Long a Time

I am full of questions
and possibilities of if.
Suppose we make-believe that
the past is written in pencil or in
a light watercolor wash? Reword sentences. They
are full of mistakes. Are
you willing to forget yesterday?
Suppose I brought
you fresh paper and a pen to
start again? Begin today.
I am willing to wait so
you can follow-- lightly.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mea Culpa

Writing on an I Touch ( an IPhone without the phone) is difficult. When I find errors it's impossible to make corrections. Excuse the extra words, too many letters, and grammatical errors. Vacation time isn't the time to drag along all my computer gear.


It rained off and on today giving us the excuse to travel to our favorite bookstore.

Blue Hill Books doesn't look like a bookstore. On the outside, a modest house-- inside it's been converted into a bookstore with an eclectic selection of books.

I could sit in one of the their many chairs and browse for hours. At one point I picked up a small book written by a woman who homesteads on Deer Isle. Not that I'd ever put up all my food, ferment vegetables, slaughter a pig for winter, or not have running water. For the a moment I envisioned what that might be like. The one bath a week might be difficult-- especially heating the water over a fire.

After writing down books I want to read I began to earnestly select a book to buy.

Not an easy decision. I finally selected The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

And how did I pick this book? I'd like to sound erudite and give a long explanation , but it is simple.

The lines. The way words spun out into visual images.

" The way the anesthesiologist sits at the head of the patient during surgery like the host at a table."

Words are never just words.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

That Little White Ball

Imagine playing the same golf course just once a year. That's what we've been doing for the past twenty years. Four friends all going to Maine the same time each year and playing the same course.

Last year we never finished playing because the rain started on the fourth hole and by the sixth hole the sky simply opened up. We were soaked through and through.

Today, a dry sunny day albeit a breezy day, was perfect for golf. With the ocean as a backdrop the scene was perfect.

Sometimes it's not about the score or who had the most pars or the longest drive.

Sometimes it's about four friends --and a tradition.

Monday, June 23, 2014


I watch waves cover brown rockweed
and then return to the sea.
A constant refrain.
A seagull passes, lands, and stares.
A lobsterman hauls in a trap,
checks the lobster's length.
I eat my peanuts and read my book.
Soon I'll walk to the cobblestone beach.
Here the ocean tumbled rocks
until edges turned smooth. All
roughness polished away by waves.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Photo Shoot

early morning
and shadows
spread across rocks,
mingle with granite fissures
in serpentine patterns
until the sun stands tall
and the shadows recede

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Walking Around Jordan Pond

to describe
the movement of water,
it's symmetry
as it rushes to shore--
undulate, ripple, ruffle
fall short. How hard to describe
the sibilant sounds
accompanying each approaching ripple.

Our language falls short.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Climbing Cadillac Mountain

Stuff winds
scrubbed granite rocks,
swayed strands of grass,
left ripples in puddles,
and spun my hair like a dervish
spinning a dance

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Observing the Ocean

sea, a
with precision
and bravado

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

An Unexpected View

pasted on
a clear white backdrop
dried, mist covered mountains appeared

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Sijo --A Korean Form


I wonder, did I listen to unsaid words, to discordant
discourse. Who knew the words told a story. My failure to
hear or see, to realize seeds, planted early, remain forever.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Vacation

I've stacked my vacation books on a chair--two mysteries, an espionage saga, a book on the use of time in memoir, a book of poems, and a book of short stories. Who can tell what I'll want to read.

Then there's the art supplies, camera and lenses...

One of these days I'm really going to pack everything in a small rucksack and commune with nature without photographing the dramatic landscape, without drawing lupines, without reading a story with a plot.

Instead I'll write four line poems in my head.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


I remember when taking part in a Pride Parade meant turning away from any large camera—lest you appear on television or in the newspaper. Working for a local school in a conservative town meant that some folks didn't "take kindly" to that type of demonstration.

I remember when you took out all your Pride buttons and wore them on your hat.

I remember when the local women's bookstore became the place to find music and books that spoke of "forbidden love".

I remember how a drag queen stopped traffic so that a group could safely cross the street.

I remember when the drag queens weren't too welcome at the Pride parade—"let's not stand out.

Yesterday I went to an annual Pride party—fifty gay and lesbian adults, several straight people— about ten children, three dogs, chicken kabobs, salads, the ubiquitous chips and dips, and a place set up for all those who wished to blow bubbles—huge bubbles. A layered Pride cake, pies, cookies, and anything else labeled sweet.

What I loved about the parade —the photos folks took. Many of the drag queens in outrageously flamboyant outfits. We are all types of people—button down shirts, strictly feminine attire, butch, wildly androgynous, differently gendered, transgendered—ordinary.

What I loved about the party—all the small children who had two mommies or two daddies. We are family... Get up everybody and sing.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Mentor

I read somewhere about a writer who said that what she tried to do was create some noise with her writing. What an admirable goal—be the itch, the burr, the murmur in your ear.

To do that requires an honesty that chafes against taking a safe route. There's a difference between an individual opinion and opening up the dialogue to include others.

I admire that writer.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Sketchbook in Search of Sketches

It's the small things that often bring such great satisfaction. This afternoon I followed a You Tube Video titled " The No Sew Handmade Book."

Everything initially went well. I folded when shown where to fold. After each set of instructions I stopped the video and made my fold. Then the time came for the cuts.

I went down to the basement and found my twenty-four inch metal ruler,a cutting board, and a sharp rotary blade cutter.

Then I did all the cutting--precisely, carefully, and with determination. Despite all this care one cut went in the wrong direction. Rather than a proper sketchbook, mine turned out lopsided and impossible to turn from page to page.

So I started all over with the folds and then the cutting. This time I knew what had happened and with trepidation I made my cuts. I folded the paper back and forth until a book emerged. Creating a cover was the easy part. I stamped the words Sketchbook Crawl on the cover and set the sketchbook under two heavy tomes.

In the next two days I'll write my name inside and do a watercolor sketch. Then the sketchbook will go into an envelope and be mailed out. In ten months it will come back to me-- after traveling across the states and several foreign countries. The artwork of nine "artists" will fill the pages.

It's akin to having nine pen pals. Remember a time when you had pen pals? 'Tis exhilarating.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Uzzen Sheerah

His daughter Sheerah, who built both
Lower & Upper Beth-horon and Uzzen Sheerah
—I Chronicles 7:24

Not enough, just one line—
     I want to clothe Sheerah
           in a story
         give her a face
I want to hear her words.
I want to know the shape of—
the breath of 
this place on the map.
I want to walk
the zigzag of roads—
I want to look hard
at materials she used
test their malleability
their strength
I mean to ask if she dreamt of settlements, of thresholds— instead I read the line again and again, until I feel at home in Uzzen Sheerah Magic of names—
Uzzen Sheerah Uzzen Sheerah

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


I copy down lines from books, magazines and occasionally from articles found on the web. Yesterday two lines captured my attention and both dealt with memory and the past.

Time is the longest distance between two places.-- Tennessee Williams

Doesn't that capture the futility of going home again and expecting things to be the same. People you knew decades ago and haven't seen since then--do not remain the same, but memories do not allow for aging.

Then there's this line by Tom Long: What is required in confession of sin? first, there is the courage of memory.

Unpacking that line requires a mirror.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Beyond the Familiar

The crust of the everyday must be
broken through...
--Eugene Delacroix

That outer layer, that dry facade covering up what really resides inside each individual needs attending. Unless we dismantle the ordinary, refuse to keep adding items to our list of to do activities, move beyond the comfortable places, we won't break through that crust.

The crust protects, keeps us from really seeing. To break the crust may mean confronting demons or it may mean seeing beyond a narrow tunnel vision.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Check Me Out

Unless you know how and where to check the correct boxes and only if you stay away from social media your life is available for perusal. That is, whatever you choose to place in the carnivorous maw of the internet is available. A frightening phenomenon if you value privacy.

Even without ever placing any information on the internet anyone can find out your age and address. We are all tethered together on this highway whether we signed up for the trip or shook our heads in the universal no.

Facebook allows you to make your musings private or available for anyone with a Facebook account. Some degree of privacy requires a meticulous attention to detail.

Tonight I wondered if someone I hadn't seen in thirty-two years had a Facebook account so I listed her name in a search box. Ten names appeared. I whittled the list down to two people and then selected the correct name by realizing that one person was about twenty so they weren't even alive thirty-two years ago.

Perhaps, I thought, I could make contact. Perhaps, I thought we could talk about the intervening years. I had my list of questions: Do you still draw? Do you still like ratatouille? Do you believe in miracles?

Instead I left the Facebook page.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Pentecost Sunday

did you notice
the Spirit moving,
breathing, singing
out Hallelujah, did
you feel the Spirit's
breath, the Spirit
calling your name

Saturday, June 07, 2014

New Words

The OED's recent update includes bookaholic and bestie.

It takes awhile before the new word enters the word processing lexicons. I had no difficulty with bookaholic, but needed to look up bestie. No one I know refers to a friend as their bestie-- a person's best friend.

This must be a word that is age related.

One other word that made the updated list-- wackadoodle. It's syncopated, but lacks something.

But you need to keep up-- even if you never intend to use the word.

Friday, June 06, 2014


a family of wild turkeys
push boundaries
until they become
next door neighbors

Thursday, June 05, 2014

After Reading a Book on The History of Religion

Suppose we start over. Create a set of myths that could be modified, altered, cut apart-- to satisfy everyone. Suppose we used language that offends no one, is gender neutral, all inclusive, and free from jargon.

Suppose we create a new set of commandments arrived at by consensus.

Suppose we save money by combining a religious edifice with the town hall.

How long before it all falls apart?

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

A Yen for the Past

If I threw out all dietary concerns, ignored healthy choices, eschewed all the warnings about what's detrimental to my well being and longevity--

If I created a menu for a day without a whit of concern for all the don'ts and warnings--

If I ignored the exercise mantra, the meditation regime, the 10,000 steps a day--

If I took off my step counter, hid my timer in the closet, rolled up my yoga mat--

I'd dream of a repast from a bygone era

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

An Orderly Form

I just finished reading an article about sestinas. Serendipity. Earlier in the day I thought of applying myself to the arduous task of writing a sestina. The more I read , the more I realized that using that particular poetry form means agreeing to transparency.

The poet unveils a process. Lucinda Roy writes, "In sestinas, things aren't resolved ; rather, they are experienced in a shifting light."

Roy uses words like momentum. The poem gathers a certain impulsion as the poet proceeds toward an ending. Does the poet wait upon the conclusion or is it determined by the layers that precede the last three lines?

Of course there's always the question of what words to use as the end words since these words will repeat, although in a different order, in each of the stanzas.

A conundrum, but worthy of the time.

Monday, June 02, 2014

A Bullfrog Lament

unseen, hidden behind
bellowing, waiting
for a response

Sunday, June 01, 2014

The Gifts

What does the word common mean? It is open land—for everyone to use. Boston Commons once permitted the grazing of cattle.

The purpose of Boston Commons included a place for public hangings—until 1817. Mary Dyer, an outspoken Quaker, refused to remain banished to Rhode Island. When she returned to Massachusetts she continued to voice her opinions.

On June 1, 1660, surrounded by the sound of drums, the authorities hung Mary from a giant elm tree. Three other Quakers also lost their lives—as well as some pirates, murderers and witches.

The huge elm that served as a gallows stood on the Commons until 1876 when a gale tore it down. At that time it stood over seventy-two feet high.

If we refer to someone as common we're relegating that person to an ignoble status or at best a mediocre or ordinary rung of the ladder. Nothing special.

But common has another meaning, one that involves universality.

Imagine a group of developmentally delayed individuals leading a Sunday morning service.

The word was common—what we had in common with one another. Some of the adults read and some had no language. We sang together and used our hands and arms to lift up prayers to God. We took communion from a young woman in a wheel chair—no language, spastic movements, yet you knew that this truly was what communion was all about.

These adults come to regular church services and in addition twice a month they have a special service.

At times the service seemed a bit chaotic—but it was imbued with a sense of joy. We all, in common, rejoiced—prayed, gave thanks, shared joys and concerns.

I once had a student who always said, "Never make assumptions or you'll miss the gifts."