Friday, October 6, 2017

Taking a Stand

Time is precious and I know some folks don't want to click on links, but I wanted you to to know there are those who are taking a stand for this beautiful old world, for what is right and good. This is Joel Clement's Letter of Resignation from the Department of the Interior. Reading it made my day.

Watercolor: Kingfisher and Turtles in Pond
19th Century

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Unsung Third Stanza

There's a great deal of talk right now about the National Anthem, to kneel or not to kneel. I am a big fan of Colin Kaepernik, not just because of his political stance but for all the philanthropic work he is doing for those at the margins of life.

This morning, I came across this poem and found it dovetails with my own thoughts, though this poet has stated them so perfectly and so beautifully. 

A New National Anthem

The truth is, I’ve never cared for the National
Anthem. If you think about it, it’s not a good
song. Too high for most of us with “the rockets
red glare” and then there are the bombs.
(Always, always, there is war and bombs.)
Once, I sang it at homecoming and threw
even the tenacious high school band off key.
But the song didn’t mean anything, just a call
to the field, something to get through before
the pummeling of youth. And what of the stanzas
we never sing, the third that mentions “no refuge
could save the hireling and the slave”? Perhaps,
the truth is, every song of this country
has an unsung third stanza, something brutal
snaking underneath us as we blindly sing
the high notes with a beer sloshing in the stands
hoping our team wins. Don’t get me wrong, I do
like the flag, how it undulates in the wind
like water, elemental, and best when it’s humbled,
brought to its knees, clung to by someone who
has lost everything, when it’s not a weapon,
when it flickers, when it folds up so perfectly
you can keep it until it’s needed, until you can
love it again, until the song in your mouth feels
like sustenance, a song where the notes are sung
by even the ageless woods, the short-grass plains,
the Red River Gorge, the fistful of land left
unpoisoned, that song that’s our birthright,
that’s sung in silence when it’s too hard to go on,
that sounds like someone’s rough fingers weaving
into another’s, that sounds like a match being lit
in an endless cave, the song that says my bones
are your bones, and your bones are my bones,
and isn’t that enough?

~ Ada Limon

If you're not familiar with Ada Limon, here's a link to her site:

Saturday, September 23, 2017

There is a Light

Well, it's been a while. I hope you are all doing well. Life is good here. Buddy and I are still hanging out together and life feels pretty peaceful, as long as I don't spend too much time thinking about the current administration in the White House.

Blogger has always seemed to be a kind, gentle place. I appreciate the friends I've found here. I'm not sure yet what I will do, but it will probably involve poetry, music, and art, plus an occasional personal story, as I did in the past. It's good to be here again.

"There is a light within our soul
that burns brighter than the sun."

~ Basith, Autopsy of the Seasons

Image: Albarran Cabrera, The Mouth of Krishna

Monday, June 27, 2016

An Embarrassment All the Way Around

I believe Donald Trump must never be allowed anywhere near the White House, but this is not what I imagined for the first female President, nor did I ever imagine Elizabeth Warren would accept the role of Hillary's attack dog. This is an embarrassment all the way around.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Morning Ritual

There are a few Tumblr sites I visit as part of my morning ritual. I love seeing what's been posted each day. They're places of peace and reflection. And, I like looking at pretty pictures. Once in a while it leads me to another Tumblr and I add it to my bookmarks. Yesterday I ran across one and decided to borrow an idea I found there. I googled vintage postcards, downloaded one that fit what I wanted to capture and added lyrics to it from Leonard Cohen, one of my favorite songwriters. It's not highly creative but it's fun and I may do a few more, either using his lyrics or other songwriters I admire.

In other news, we got our first real snowfall yesterday, about five inches. I actually love shoveling snow as long as it doesn't become a Sisyphean task. This was just right. I hope all is well in your corner of the world.

Click on the postcard to enlarge.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Christmas Fireworks and Coyotes

Well, it's Saturday night in northern Minnesota, in mid-December, and I just came in from standing on the porch listening to fireworks in the distance, part of a local Christmas celebration. If I'd been willing to go to town I suppose I could have seen them. I wasn't willing. It's hard to remember Christmas is just around the corner when there's barely a drop of snow on the ground and it's in the 40's.

Buddy, who had been resting peacefully on the porch, was not real thrilled with this turn of events. The fireworks went off, he barked. The fireworks went off again, the coyotes howled. The whole thing was turning confusing to him so he opted for going inside and I went with him.

A few minutes later I'm here at the kitchen table, listening to and watching Joni Mitchell sing, Coyote, during, The Last Waltz, with The Band. I love this song and the video.

So, that's what I'm doing on this mid-December night. Hope you're having a good night, too. Here's Joni:


Friday, December 4, 2015

The Companionship of Nature

A couple of barred owls, better known as hoot owls, have been hanging around my place again. I hear them after dark and very early in the morning. Buddy tends to go out just before daybreak, settles in on the porch to watch the woods and keep an eye on any critters passing through. Once he sees something he softly grrrrrrs, just to make his presence felt. From my table by the window I keep an eye on him in case any of those critters wander a little too close.

A few mornings ago, I stayed outside for a while watching and listening with him. Two owls started calling from one end of the woods to the other. There had been a light snow during the night ... a nice counterpoint to the morning's greying sky. Together, they created a slightly melancholy mood.

Last night at bedtime, as I turned out the little lamp I keep on my windowsill, I again heard the owls. They continued to call as I fell asleep. I found it peaceful and comforting, as though reassuring me, "All is well." Art, literature, music, friendship - all essential to my life - but nature sustains me like nothing else can. I love knowing there are owls in the woods, calling to each other in the darkness.

Painting by Jeanie Tomanek

Sunday, November 29, 2015

How to Be in Love with Life

Good morning, everyone. When I first woke this morning I felt led to read excerpts from Mary Oliver's book, Dog Songs, her paean to dogs and all they offer us. My pal, Buddy, has taught me so much about living life fully, how it is to be in love with life itself. As I have often said before, he is one fine companion. I had a feeling, as I read, it was going to lead me back here. I'm very glad it has. I'd like to share an excerpt that especially spoke to me on this cold but beautiful late November morning ...

"I want to extol not the sweetness nor the placidity of the dog, but the wilderness out of which he cannot step entirely, and from which we benefit. For wilderness is our first home too, and in our wild ride into modernity with all its concerns and problems we need also the good attachments of that origin that we keep or restore. Dog is one of the messengers of that rich and still magical first world. The dog would remind us of the pleasures of the body with its graceful physicality, and the acuity and rapture of the senses, and the beauty of the forest and ocean and rain and our own breath. There is not a dog that romps and runs but we learn from him."

~ Mary Oliver, Dog Songs

Wherever you are, I hope you are all having a wonderful Sunday morning.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Caught In a Downpour

As I was bringing my compost bucket to the garden this morning, I got caught in a downpour. Ducking into the shed (a very poor pun), I stood and listened as it passed through. I may have mentioned a time or two, all my outbuildings have tin roofs. The garden shed has the additional grace of slatted sides. I could listen, and watch. It was the most fun I've had in a while. It didn't last long, but while it did I was reminded of something I wanted to tell you.

A few weeks ago, I went to the cabin to do another walk-through to see how it fared through the winter. I do this fairly often and have spent some time there looking at possibilities other than its unintended use as a raccoon / porcupine hotel.  For a while a skunk lived under the porch but I believe it has moved on to other quarters.The raccoon and porcupines have also moved on now that summer is here.

Prior to this particular walk-through, I had, that morning, mentioned to myself how nice it would be to have a book of Carl Sandburg's poetry. I had no notion of which one, just one to add to my collection of poetry books. That afternoon I went to the cabin and did my usual, somewhat cursory looking around. Without knowing why, I felt drawn to a particular set of shelves in the corner. I had looked at these shelves before, but this time I looked closer and tucked into the corner of the highest shelf, against the wall and blending into the wood, was a book. I took it down and turned it around. It was a well-worn, 1922 edition of Carl Sandburg's, Chicago Poems.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

When Books Were Books

There was a time when books came with nothing but hard covers and unbreakable spines, with artwork gracing their covers. I have fallen in love with these books and what they represent: the care taken to present beauty at every opportunity; when art was everywhere, even on bank notes and postage stamps. I fear they are all falling by the wayside of expediency. It seems we are being indoctrinated into the lie that we don't have time to slow down and savor the minutiae of life.

Most days, I look to nature for these elements of beauty. Yesterday, I saw white violets in the meadow. There was more than one extensive patch. I almost missed these quiet beauties as the sky had captured my attention. I was walking among them before I looked down and realized all the beauty right there at my feet.

The book covers that have caught my attention the most are those that bring together my love of books and love of nature. I mean, who doesn't want to be "among the meadow people?"

Ever since I realized insects rule the world and far outnumber us, I've been paying more attention and showing a great deal more respect. Yesterday, two little bugs found their way in with my bed sheets. They were hanging on for dear life, so I took them back outside to their known universe. They might not have been ready for a whole new one. Hmmmmm. Now, I'm wondering if that's not exactly why they came inside with my sheets. They were ready. I will try not to ponder the imponderable too long.

Instead, I will think on this title, the ways in which I can practice having, "a quiet eye," with the birds who frequent the feeder. Again this spring the indigo buntings spent a few days with me, moving from the feeder to the rock garden as morning arrived. Against the grey rocks they are so beautiful.

I don't know about you fellers, but for us girls, Louisa May Alcott was a pretty big deal among readers. I saw, "Little Women," at least parts of it, on television recently, but I didn't see them represented the way they are in my mind's eye, so I turned it off and let what I remembered of them remain. In her honor, I must include this cover.

And then, there's this. James Russell Lowell is the poet, the illustrations are by my beloved Winslow Homer. What's inside would surely set my head spinning. I would love to get my hands on a copy of it, first edition, of course.

I see more second hand bookstores in my future.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Getting By With A Little Help From Our Friends


Winter Dream #7 by Teresa Evangeline from cara long on Vimeo.

I've recently taken a break from twitter, perhaps a permanent one, but that's yet to be determined. While there, I found myself among some fine people, very creative and very kind. One of them is Cara Long. She is a short fiction writer who could always be counted on for something fresh and intriguing. She created this short video to complement my poem, Winter Dream #7, and posted it on Twitter. I am so grateful for her support and her creativity. I wanted to post it here to thank her and share it with you.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Farm Wife

It's a lot of fun for me to run across a painting I've not yet seen by a well-known artist whose work I love. Such is the case with Picasso's, "Farmer's Wife on a Stepladder." I'm reminded of the woman at the farm across the river who provides eggs for me. She and her husband have a beautiful farm with extensive gardens. I'm so grateful for their presence in my neck of the woods. I hope you are all well and having a good spring. I think it's going to be a really good summer.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Waiting on the Irises

Well, I hadn't planned on taking a break, but, apparently, that's what I'm doing. I hope all is well with all of you. I'm still posting over on my poetry blog and hope you'll visit me there. Spring is just around the corner ...

Painting: Vincent van Gogh

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Love is the Answer Always Has Been Always Will Be

Tony Zimnoch's posts are consistently intriguing, and this is no exception. I hope you'll go over to his post, read the intro. and then click on "read more" for one of the most beautiful pieces I've read in some time.

Photo of Simone Felice by John Huba

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Prelude to a New Day

Prelude ...

I've always liked that word. For me, it is the hour before dawn ... life's tender beginnings ...

The photograph is mine.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

In a Country Called October

"The October country ... that country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coalbins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain."   ~ Ray Bradbury, from The October Country

Saturday, September 27, 2014

For the Woman In Ithaca

The only time I recall hearing someone cry I didn't know or couldn't see was in the tent next to me outside Jackson, Wyoming in the middle of August in the middle of the 1970's. It  was also the middle of the night. I thought perhaps the bar had closed and disappointment had set in. I went back to sleep.

The next day, my companion and I stopped in a bar/cafe somewhere up the line to get a bite to eat. A few people were shooting pool and playing the jukebox. I noticed every song they played was by Elvis and thought, "They sure are Elvis fans." You know where I'm going with this, right?

We drove through Yellowstone, saw some elk, stopped at Old Faithful - the usual things one does in Yellowstone - still out of tune with the rest of the world. It wasn't until we were leaving Yellowstone that we finally turned on the radio. Just as I did so, the announcer said, "They're lining up at Graceland to pay their respects ..."

When I read this poem today, that came to mind. But, the poignancy of this poem far outweighs, for me, the poignancy of losing the King. This is about a real person hurting over a real life who, for all we know, still struggles through the occasional night when she wonders ... I like how the poet honors that grief.


There was a woman in Ithaca
who cried softly all night
in the next room and helpless
I fell in love with her under the blanket
of snow that settled on all the roofs
of the town, filling up
every dark depression.

Next morning
in the motel coffee shop
I studied all the made-up faces
of women. Was it the middle-aged blonde
who kidded the waitress
or the young brunette lifting
her cup like a toast?

Love, whoever you are,
your courage was my companion
for many cold towns
after the betrayal of Ithaca,
and when I order coffee
in a strange place, still
I say, lifting, this is for you.

~ Leonard Nathan

Painting by Edward Hopper

Friday, September 5, 2014

Things to Consider When Closing a Door

I'm afraid I've discovered a new poet. I'll try to go easy on you, not overdo it. This is the one I started with:

"A Brief Lecture on Door Closers"

Although heretofore unconsidered
in verse or in song, 
the ordinary door closer is, I submit, a device
well worth considering. 
Consisting primarily
of a spring and a piston, in combination, 
here's how it works: 
                  You open a door, 
either pushing or pulling. 
The spring is compressed, the piston extended. 
Now, having passed through the doorway, 
you relinquish control, 
and the door closer takes over. The spring remembers
how it was— 
it wants to return. But the urge is damped
by the resistance the piston encounters, 
snug in its cylinder
filled with hydraulic fluid. 

Such is the mechanism of the door closer, 
invented in 1876
by Charles Norton, when a slamming door
in a courtroom in Cincinnati
repeatedly disrupted
the administration of justice. 

Whether concealed beneath the threshold
or overhead in the head jamb, 
whether surface-mounted as a parallel-arm installation
or as a regular-arm, 
door closers are ever vigilant, 
silently performing their function, rarely

Whereas doors can be metaphorical—as in, 
for example, "He could never unlock
the door to her heart"— 
door closers cannot. 

Remember this when you
pass through, and the door closes behind you
with a soft thud
and final click
as the latchbolt engages the strike.

~ Clemens Starck  (1937), from Traveling Incognito

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I Am Not A Rock, I Am Not An Island

On Labor Day I labored, and it felt really good. I sawed dead branches from several trees and from shrubs near the greenhouse; both the shrubs and the greenhouse needed more sunlight. There is great satisfaction for me in this work. I have grown to love piling brush, something I hated doing as a child. I like knowing I'm clearing away those things that need clearing both in my physical and spiritual life. Sometimes we just need to do it.

Half a century ago my father developed lakeshore around Ox Yoke Lake - the lake of my childhood - building cabins for summer and weekend residents. The family spent many days clearing brush and hauling it into piles. In the evening we would be rewarded with hot dogs roasted on sticks over the fire followed by s'mores. If you've never eaten a s'more, well, time's a wastin'. Here's how: graham crackers with a couple of squares from a Hershey chocolate bar and a marshmallow, also roasted on a stick. This is the preferred method. When times get tough other methods may be employed. You'll figure it out.

After clearing the brush I worked on a new compost pile out by the garden. As they say, next year in Jerusalem. I followed that with much baking of zucchini bread, some with dried cranberries added. Fortunately I froze most of it. I also decided to find new ways to use zucchini, so I shredded a bunch (that's Minnesotan for a lot) and have added it to BLT's and other sandwiches, as well as omelets. It's non-stop zucchini season as some of you might know. Years ago there was a wonderful writer for the Christian Science Monitor named John Gould. He did a weekly column for them about life in the northeast - Maine, if I remember correctly. In one column he wrote of zucchini season and how, out of necessity, everyone started locking their cars. If you didn't you might return from your errand with a back seat full of zucchini. This type of story has now become ubiquitous, and I more fully understand it.

Later in the evening Buddy and I were treated to a sky show. With thunder rumbling overhead and the sky lowering, the sunset went on as usual. It turned all shades of pink and violet. Across this beautiful expanse came some amazing horizontal lightning bolts. Buddy soon decided he'd had enough so I let him in the house and continued to stand on the porch at what I was sure was a safe distance. But, Buddy must have faced reality sooner than I, covered in fur and all. With the next one I could feel the small hair on my hands stand up. It was time to go inside and watch from the window.

I like summer but I love fall. The Farmer's Almanac has purportedly predicted another long, very cold winter for my neck of the woods. So, I'm going to relish every day of this slanted sunlight and prepare for what may come. I have short story collections by my favorite writers and more than a few books of poetry. I have a set of watercolors yet to have the package broken open on them. I have the cooking channel (I'm hooked on "Chopped"). I have music, I have Buddy, and I have all of you. I am not a rock. I am not an island. But, I'll post the song anyway because who doesn't like Simon and Garfunkel.


Today's poem:

The photograph is mine, taken in the fall of 2012.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day: For the One Hundred and Forty Six


The back, the yoke, the yardage. Lapped seams,
The nearly invisible stitches along the collar
Turned in a sweatshop by Koreans or Malaysians

Gossiping over tea and noodles on their break
Or talking money or politics while one fitted
This armpiece with its overseam to the band

Of cuff I button at my wrist. The presser, the cutter,
The wringer, the mangle. The needle, the union,
The treadle, the bobbin. The code. The infamous blaze

At the Triangle Factory in nineteen-eleven.
One hundred and forty-six died in the flames
On the ninth floor, no hydrants, no fire escapes—

The witness in a building across the street
Who watched how a young man helped a girl to step
Up to the windowsill, then held her out

Away from the masonry wall and let her drop.
And then another. As if he were helping them up
To enter a streetcar, and not eternity.

A third before he dropped her put her arms   
Around his neck and kissed him. Then he held
Her into space, and dropped her. Almost at once

He stepped to the sill himself, his jacket flared
And fluttered up from his shirt as he came down,
Air filling up the legs of his gray trousers—

Like Hart Crane’s Bedlamite, “shrill shirt ballooning.”
Wonderful how the pattern matches perfectly
Across the placket and over the twin bar-tacked

Corners of both pockets, like a strict rhyme
Or a major chord.   Prints, plaids, checks,
Houndstooth, Tattersall, Madras. The clan tartans

Invented by mill-owners inspired by the hoax of Ossian,
To control their savage Scottish workers, tamed
By a fabricated heraldry: MacGregor,

Bailey, MacMartin. The kilt, devised for workers
To wear among the dusty clattering looms.
Weavers, carders, spinners. The loader,

The docker, the navvy. The planter, the picker, the sorter
Sweating at her machine in a litter of cotton
As slaves in calico headrags sweated in fields:

George Herbert, your descendant is a Black
Lady in South Carolina, her name is Irma
And she inspected my shirt. Its color and fit

And feel and its clean smell have satisfied
Both her and me. We have culled its cost and quality
Down to the buttons of simulated bone,

The buttonholes, the sizing, the facing, the characters
Printed in black on neckband and tail. The shape,
The label, the labor, the color, the shade. The shirt.

~ Robert Pinsky  (b. 1940 )