Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Quote: On Coffee and Women

"I like my women like I like my coffee: scalding, dark and bitter."

--Great Scott
(whose Christmas gifts are under reconsideration)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Quote: On Poetic Cultivation

“Travel broadens the mind, but great poetry is often the product of narrow obsession, the neurotic cultivation of a tiny plot.”

--Stephen Moss

Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday Quote: On Bibliophilia

"She is too fond of books, and it has addled her brain."

--Louisa May Alcott

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

So Far This Week...

I replaced the modem.

The Older Daughter threw up twice at school and came home early.

The Older Daughter ate tortellini two hours after arriving home, and two and a half hours after that competed in an Academic Team competition (her team won both their games).

My grandmother had her 91st birthday (Yay, Grandma!).

I was approved for substitute teaching in our school district.

The Older Daughter won not just the local but the district Patriot's Pen essay contest for her age division. dryer broke (I am awaiting the repairman now).

Oh, yes! And Dad put an extra hard drive into my computer.

With a coathanger.

Which is still in the computer.

And it's still only Wednesday!

Friday, November 30, 2007


I know today is Friday and that I should be posting a quote, but my modem is down (again!), and I don't happen to have my quote journal in the library with me. Hopefully Dad and I will get the electronics working again this evening. I'm coming back into town after feeding Great Scott and the girls, and we'll work on the thing then.

The real reason for this post is to celebrate. Today on a walk a barred owl flew across my path and landed in a tree just across the creek. It let me cross and approach close enough that I could see its face and eyes clearly before it flew to a tree a little more distant. The eyes of barred owls are hauntingly beautiful. I've heard that if you look down a deep well in daylight, you can see stars. If the same were true of those black, black eyes, I would not be surprised. I could look at them for hours.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


It must be hard to be the child of two writing oriented parents. One day last weekend The Younger Daughter's evening prayer went in part like this:

"Dear God...please forgive us for our sins and our improper English."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Eve--Surprise Me List

Infamous for his War on Whining gratitude posts, Randy of Everyday Thoughts Collected asks for Thanksgiving lists of those things for which we are grateful but which are a little unusual. Skewed, in fact. So here it is, dear twin, the Quotidian Light list of Thanksgiving peculiarities.

1. Dirt. (For repotting the orchids.)

2. Socks with individual toes.

3. Benadryl for when the children are too crazy.

4. Alcohol for when the husband is too crazy.

5. Morrowind, for when one simply MUST live life as a lizard in a dress robe.

6. Children who want cooking utensils and badgers for Christmas.

7. Wormer.

8. Small dead animal carcasses on the front porch. (As opposed to in the house.)

9. The word "no." As in, "No, we're not going anywhere for Thanksgiving."

10. Individual cups in bras. (Great Scott seconds this one enthusiastically.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Quotidian Light Reading Level

cash advance


William Shakespeare

Once more unto the quotidian light, dear friends, once more.

Which work of Shakespeare was the original quote from?

Get your own quotes:

Kudos to Seeker, from whom I unabashedly yonked both of these.

Friday, November 09, 2007

I Just Did WHAT?!

This week I went to the superintendent's office at school and after a meeting with her and the Jr. High principal, took home an application packet for a substitute teaching certificate and position. What's more, when I arrived home, I immediately got online and made an appointment to have fingerprinting done for the required background check. Immediately as in before I could change my mind.

What could possibly drive me to do such a thing? I, who swore I would never teach (especially at the secondary level, not to mention Jr. High) and could not foresee a return to "walking the halls of academia" ever again? I, who cringe at mispronounced words, bad grammar and misplaced commas--my own and everyone else's--and grimly remove myself from the vicinity of mouthy children in public lest I be tempted to "help" their parents? I, who am familiar with the discipline plight of the public schoolteacher, who hear about it and see its result every night when Great Scott arrives home, head bowed, shoulders slumped, dragging his six foot three inch frame over the threshold, his soul nearly sucked from his body? What, indeed could possibly entice me to enter that world, even on an intermittent basis? Especially on an intermittent basis, without the authority a full-time teacher holds over her own classroom?

Passion. Something I don't talk or write about very often or very much. I am passionate about the written word, and I am passionate about helping others find in themselves some good, some hidden potential previously unrecognized. Substitute teaching will very likely NOT give me the opportunity to indulge either of these passions, I realize. However, a substitute teaching certificate will enable me to begin a writing club for the high school and jr. high school in our district. The one condition I was given was that I find a full-time faculty member to help sponsor it, and this afternoon a quick conference with horror writer and H.S. English teacher, Matt Cardin met that condition, may-his-name-be-praised-forever.

We shall see where this goes. I anticipate beginning substitute teaching in early December and beginning Writing Club meetings in January after the break. I am more grateful than I can say to Matt, who is already staying after school several nights a week, and I am both excited and apprehensive about the venture. Wish it luck.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Call for Submissions: Guerrilla Ink Press

Guerrilla Ink Press is currently accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction manuscripts, as well as photography and digital artwork for a new literary, arts, entertainment, news publication, GiP. This magazine allows Guerrilla Ink Press to continue providing dynamic publishing opportunities for new, emerging, and established writers in both electronic and print formats. Deadline is December 10, 2007.

Send Submissions to:
Attn: GiP Magazine
Guerrilla Ink Press, LLC
1956 E. Chestnut Exp.
Springfield, MO 65802-2235

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact with the subject ‘Attn. GiP Magazine.’ We look forward to hearing from you soon.

I've known Will LaPage, the founder and executive editor for GiP, for a good many years and can say without reserve that he is one of the most dedicated people I have ever met in terms of commitment to the literary world. He himself has a definite gift for writing, and reading his pieces in workshop has always been an act of appreciation as well as critical review on my part. His input on my own work has been more than notably helpful (those of you who enjoyed "Mania" have him, in part, to thank). What's more, GiP is offering book deals to each of of the contributors to its first issue. You can read more here.

Please pass this information on to other writers who may be interested. I'd love to see GiP flooded with quality work, and I know many of my readers and their acquaintances can make it happen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Observations on Motherhood: Those Kinds of Days

Some days I feel much better prepared for what motherhood requires than other days.

Some days it all comes together quite well, and the bills are paid, and all the batteries work, and the children play happily together and have shining teeth. Other days nothing gets done, and it rains in the windows, and the cat leaves tongue prints in the grease in the unwashed pan on the stove, and the children look like prime candidates for the cast of “Oliver!”

Then, of course, there are all the days in between, which probably look from the outside more like the first kind of day but which feel from the inside far more like the second. The trick is to navigate these with all the aplomb that comes naturally when one is having the first kind of day and knows it. It helps to remember that many famous and successful people have had parents who probably had days of the second kind, too.

1. Albert Einstein’s mother didn’t always get his hair combed before he got out the door.

2. Emily Dickinson’s mother couldn’t get her to come out of her room and play with visitors’ children every time they had company.

3. Jonathan Edwards’ mother couldn’t have counted the number of times she demanded, “Will you just get on with it and kill that spider?!”

4. Thomas Edison’s mother was sure he would ruin his eyes reading in the dark.

5. Henry Ford’s mother told him to go play in the street at least once.

6. C.S. Lewis’s father despaired that his son might live in a fantasy land forever.

7. Benjamin Franklin’s mother worried that he didn’t have enough sense to come in out of the rain.

8. Louis Pasteur’s mother once despaired of ever getting him to wash his hands.

9. George Washington’s mother warned him time and time again to brush his teeth.

10. Mark Twain’s mother....Oh, Lord, that poor woman!

11. Edgar Allan Poe’s mother got sick of cleaning up after all those birds.

12. I can just hear Christopher Columbus’s mother saying, “It’ll be a whole new world when I let you do that!”

13. Leif Erikson’s mother threatened to ship him off so often he took her seriously and did it himself.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

In Spite of Myself

I am not the most joining kind of person. I tend to avoid social activities like the plague. I'm not particularly shy; merely a little antisocial. "I'm not afraid of people," I'll be quick to tell you, "I just don't like them." (This is a bold-faced lie, but it sounds so fun I can't resist typing it.) Nevertheless, I know social activities are good for me. They get me out of the house. They force me to interact with people I might otherwise never get to meet. Once committed, I dread them and bemoan my fate up until I get in the car, but I nearly always have fun in spite of myself.

Thus it was when a friend from Ozark Mountain Players called this week and asked if I could possibly help judge a costume contest for the Douglas County 150th year celebration, I said yes. After all, I've been assistant costume mistress for OMP's productions of "Laura's Memories" for three years now and listened to the costume mistress (my mother) talk about period costumes for a good 13 years prior to those. When I told Great Scott, he said, "Well, that's very civic minded of you," a comment that immediately brought to mind The Civic Minded Five from the old 90's cartoon The Tick. Indeed, as I headed toward Douglas county this morning, I was feeling a lot like The Carpeted Man (click on link and scroll down), which is to say hot and itchy just thinking about it.

Of course, I enjoyed myself. The costumes were truly wonderful, and the three of us judging had a very difficult time of it. There were several pioneer ladies; a whole pioneer family complete with little boys in buckskins; young ladies in gorgeous, hoop skirted, ringlet-curled glory; a mountain man with handmade leather boots, clothes made from period patterns and a hat that some mother animal used to love; a widow whose black veil covered her from hat brim to below her knees; a stunning green fancy dress and matching hat with feathers; and the first place prize, a grey dress with a hoop skirt almost as wide as its wearer was tall, its skirt ruffled in layers, each trimmed in black ribbon, the matching bonnet period perfect, an unassuming outfit whose wearer looked like she'd stepped straight out of a civil war picture. I loved the costumes; I loved working with the other judges; and the ladies who were running the whole kit and caboodle from the grandstand have my utter admiration for their organizational skills and good humor.

The day was, in short, a good one, a good one in spite of the self-image I sometimes try too hard to maintain: that of a somewhat snarly recluse. It was good to remember that I DO like people and to remember how much, something I suspect I need to do more often.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Quote: On Learning

"A process is always a learning process if we let it be."

--Dr. Maribeth Impson

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tonado Weather

This is it. Spring and fall, April and October are our annual times for tornadoes. Tonight's storms are being tracked from the local newsroom. So far the area has lost two houses, a barn and a lumber mill, and the evening is just beginning.

Guess who's staying up late tonight.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Sunday Situation

We've recently begun going to a new church, which is helping--a bit--with some of the tensions and ambivalence I've had toward church for a long time. Still, there are Sundays when what I really need is space, when the thought of stepping into a church building and facing church people is more than I can bring myself to tackle.

A couple of Sundays ago was like that, and Scott graciously took the girls himself. He came back chuckling, saying that when the pastor asked about my whereabouts, he (Scott) had told him I was staying home, that I was Emily Dickinson. "Oh, we all have days like that," the pastor replied.

"I didn't even try to explain," said my husband. "What could I have said? 'No, you don't understand; her nickname among her college professors was Emily Plath. She really is Emily Dickinson...on a good day.'"

Great Scott also tells me that the pastor was making noises about coming out to visit. Maybe I can stay upstairs and send down little scrappets of cryptic poetry until he leaves.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Quote: On Courage and Poets

"The courage of the poets is to keep ajar the door that leads into madness."

--Christopher Morley

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Goblin Fruit

An online poetry webzine, Goblin Fruit specializes in poetry '"of the fantastical", poetry that treats mythic, surreal, fantasy and folkloric themes, or approaches other themes in a fantastical way.' Working from three different continents, editors Amal El-Mohtar, Jessica P. Wick and Oliver Hunter (who is also responsible for Goblin Fruit's wonderful artwork) have put together a quarterly web publication that made me cry and laugh at once in a surprised sort of painful joy when I stumbled across it.

"Find your own images," a much loved mentor told me once, "and write them." My public personal images have been rural and home based--trees, field grasses, birds, garden flowers, cups, my daughters' hair--and these I've woven into poem and essay as I was taught, finding meaning in the ordinary, making the commonplace new. What I have been careful to keep out of any writing I intended for publication, though, is the mystical, the fantastic, hints of deeper and often darker things that even as a child I knew lay beneath the ordinary. This summer I began giving myself reading permission to return to my first literary love: speculative fiction. By July I was searching for mythopoetic markets, which is when I found Goblin Fruit through a link at Endicott Redux. I've found several other markets that I like, but none quite so well as Goblin Fruit. If you've got a few moments, an interest in poetry and a secret fairy tale fascination, go check it out. I do not think you will be disappointed.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

In Memoriam: Madeleine L'Engle

November 29, 1918 ---September 6, 2007

A great light has gone out of this world.

Friday Quote: On Pacing Oneself

"I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once."

--Ashleigh Brilliant

Thursday, August 30, 2007


We live surrounded by fields and creeks. The occasional snake through the yard is neither a great surprise nor a great alarm. Nor is finding, as we do, the occasional shed snake skin. Were any of the snakes we've seen poisonous, we'd surely feel differently, but so far they've all be speckled king snakes or black rat snakes or ring-necks or ribbon snakes or a particularly fetching brown mottled, friendly little variety whose name I've mislaid for the moment. All good neighbors, if a bit startling to encounter unannounced.

I thought nothing of it, then, when The Younger Daughter came in after playing outside the other afternoon, and announced that she'd found another snake skin besides the one her father had found the day before. Two was unusual, but not necessarily shocking. I went with her to examine the new treasure. Sure enough, it was a second skin, nearly as long as the first: three to three and a half feet or so in length and still in one piece. You could even see where the eyes had been.

While The Younger Daughter examined her prize more closely, I stood gazing up into the tree above us. The trees in our yard are Paradise Trees or Trees of Heaven. They are huge and wonderfully shady, but these trees are short lived and most of them are at least partially hollow. Snakes have used them for homes before, one particular fellow one summer grew to nearly five and a half feet long: my own height. I was looking for snakes on the branches, but what I saw was another skin dangling from the limb several feet overhead. I pointed it out to The Younger Daughter, and she danced a happy little jig. "Three!" she exclaimed, "There are three of them!" She watched the skin swaying gently in the breeze, head over one side of the limb, tail further up, then went back to her two skins on the ground.

I walked around the other side of the tree, still looking up into the branches by the trunk. The lowest limb was now brushing the top of my head with its leaves. I didn't see anything and was about to go back in the house when a drop of water fell past my nose. I looked up to see a fourth empty skin directly overhead within inches of my face, dripping with the last bits of the afternoon's rain shower. My heart beat a bit faster, and I stepped a little to the side. I like nature, mind you, but I'd rather it not happen on my head, and this was getting a bit eerie. Four snake skins. That meant four snakes, all around three foot long, judging by their cast-off suits.

I was about to call The Younger Daughter to see this latest discovery when she yelled from the other side of the tree. "Mom! Here's another one! Right up there in the branch! It was right over my head!" She was right. There it was, waving languorously in all its ghostly reptile grace. Five.

We didn't find anymore, although I circled the tree warily several more times. I did see a slender black head followed by the rest of a slim black body emerge from under the cover of an old well in the backyard a couple of days later. I cannot describe the grace of it, although I can describe the caution with which I've been walking in the yard of late, especially under the trees: extreme.


Two or three years ago my mother went through a period of giving me potted orchids. This one was blooming when we bought it, blooming with three or four blossoms on one stem. It hasn't bloomed since. Not until now, that is. Some days I sit beside the window with my pen and journal and just stare at it rather than writing. I am a rich woman.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Tooth Saga

Monday evening: The Younger Daughter pulls a tooth. She's been going through a stage of shedding teeth like a little shark this year, so all seems fairly routine. The Tooth Fairy confiscates it, leaving much coveted cold, hard cash in return and then gives me the tooth, as she almost always does, to hold until she's got enough to build her castle with.

Tuesday evening: I notice The Younger Daughter's gum above the now-missing tooth seems a bit red. I attribute it to the fact that she's just pulled the tooth, and make a mental note to watch it, just in case it might be true inflammation.

Wednesday evening: The gum still looks a little bright to me, although not badly so, and it isn't sore at all--a good sign. Nevertheless, I get out a flashlight and look at the empty socket, and... EGAD! There is a dark red fleshy thing protruding slightly from the socket! Either The Younger Daughter has just been infested with some tiny, exotic gum leach, or that is the pulp/nerve of her missing tooth! Is this normal? Is it supposed to be there? Is there an infection?! Has she pulled it prematurely?!


I can't call the dentist at 9:30 at night. It doesn't hurt her at all, not even when she rubs a finger over it. I shudder and tell her to rinse and go to the living room for stories and prayers. I try to not worry about it. I will call in the morning. I will not worry. I put my head down on my desk and say a short prayer. I will not worry. Feeling faintly nauseated from anxiety, I walk into the bedroom to fold some laundry. I will not worry. Finally I call my sister. We have one of those conferences that only sisters can have. I feel a bit better. We will wait and see. Great Scott doesn't get home until 11:00 p.m. from the night class he's teaching. I will tell him in the morning.

Thursday (this) morning: "Oh," he says nonchalantly as he gets a shirt out of the closet and pulls it on. "Yeah, those are always there when you pull a tooth. It must've just detached lower down than most, that's all." He buttons up the shirt and meanders out of the room to go find his good friend, Coffee.

The Younger Daughter swears she hasn't pulled a permanent tooth, that this one was still a baby tooth. She may just be afraid The Tooth Fairy will want her money back, but I'm going to believe her. She is confidently, blissfully carefree. I want to grow up to be just like her.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Workspaces: Donald Hall--a Slide Show

This past week has been...wearing. Tonight, exhausted, I should have been long ago in bed, but I ran across this slide show of 13 pictures taken at the farm of Donald Hall and have been smiling contentedly at my computer ever since.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Anniversary 2007

We exchanged cards in the morning and spent the day in different towns. We met at the Jr. High for The Older Daughter's registration/open house in the evening, then went home in separate cars. It sounds terribly unromantic, but the truth is Great Scott gave me possibly the best card ever (he wrote personal stuff in it--my favorite kind); we had Rosewood Farms' chocolates to celebrate after dinner, and we'd purchased a mutual gift--a DVD: "The Merchant of Venice" with Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons--which hopefully we will find time to put to use this weekend.

I was given some excellent celebration suggestions from both my Blogger and my Facebook readers, and will probably put them to use the very next weekend that The Girls to to their grandmother's. Steak it is, and a quiet night together, and candles. Right. Thank you all for your input.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Celebration Ideas, Anyone?

On Tuesday Great Scott and I will be completing our 17th year of marriage. We'll also be attending Jr. High Open House with The Older Daughter. Ah, wedded bliss!

I'm taking suggestions about what might be some ways we could celebrate at home, since that's where we're going to be for awhile, what with Great Scott beginning teachers' meetings and then full-blown school next week.

Open to romantic suggestions, especially from male readers, 'cause often enough I completely miss the boat when it comes to doing things that make occasions special for Great Scott.

Procrastination Aids: Simpsonize Me

Ok. I'm not a huge Simpson's fan, although they are occasionally funny, yes. However, this afternoon I stumbled across a ridiculous site that yields downright hilarious (and frighteningly accurate) results. You plug in your picture, and in return are rewarded with a full-fledged cartoon version of your charming self. Wondering how accurate these things might be? Check out my results below. Just be sure to post your own cartoons if you try this.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Friday Quote: Personal Ads

"They call me naughty Lola. Run-of-the-mill beardy physicist (M, 46)."

"My only academic achievement was contaminating the water supply in class 2C by sneezing over the beaker tray. It caused the biggest outbreak of conjunctivitis ever known at Sutton Primary. I wasn't sorry then and I'm not sorry now. Bitter PR exec. (F, 34) WLTM man to 40 who enjoys living on the edge (of Putney). Box no. 8370."

"Don't send me any poems. Woman, 34. Fed up of getting poems. Box no. 4253."

"You are going to be alone this Christmas. That's because nobody likes you. I, however, will provide you with a basic meal and some pleasant company on the understanding that you do not criticise my collection of antique medical implements. Tidy man, 51. Size 9 slipper. Box no. 7314."

"Romance is dead. So is my mother. Man, 42, inherited wealth. Box no. 7652."

--from They Call Me Naughty Lola: Personal Ads from The London Review of Books

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Procrastination Aid: Online Magnetic Poetry

Oh, the fun! Magnetic Poetry now offers online composition. What's more, you can pick from ten differently themed collections of words, including "Shakespeare", "Genius" and "Artist" kits. Woo! Woo!

My favorite, though, is the "Inuendo" kit.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

On the Whole Self, Being Real and the Better Part of Valor

This summer, returning from one of my rambles in the fields, I met our orange and white cat out in the weeds by the old barn. Understand that this cat climbs into my lap to take naps, that he demands to be picked up and nibbles on my neck with some regularity; we are very good friends. On this occasion, though, he nearly leapt out of his skin. Wild-eyed, his tail bottle-brushed to twice its size, he humped his back, then dashed for the cover of a brush pile to keep an eye on me until he could be sure of who I really was. Sometimes I wish people had as much sense.

Not to say we should run and hide when we meet someone out of the context in which we know them, but all too often we assume we know the whole of a person, effectively putting them in a conveniently labeled box and attributing any behavior outside that box as deviant, when actually it may be key to a deeper comprehension of who that person really is, the whole of their identity which we, to date, have only seen in a limited context. My cat had known me as an indoor being who could occasionally be found outside near the house. Meeting me at the edge of the field rocked his furry little world. His response? To give me room to be what I was going to be outside the context in which he knew me, even if it didn’t fit the box.

(Disclaimer: Whatever reason this cat might have had to assume that an unfamiliar factor in my character might prove in any way dangerous to himself or his dignity is entirely coincidental. Totally unfounded. Utterly speculative. Pure chance. You’ll never prove anything.)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Quote: On the Coupling of Words

"Every new poem is like finding a new bride. Words are so erotic, they never tire of their coupling. How do they renew themselves? In their inexhaustible desire for combinations and recombinations."

--Stanley Kunitz

I'd never thought of words as lovemaking when they join their separate meanings together in order to make a new one that is, nevertheless, derivative of each of their own. Of course, the metaphor breaks down if carried too far, but still, how beautiful.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ooooh! Pretty!

Yesterday morning I was in the kitchen mixing up a batch of scones for the girls' breakfast when I heard, "Bzzzt! Bzzzzzt! BZZZZZTTTT!" Looking down, I noted bright golden light flashing through the oven window and then several showers of absolutely gorgeous sparks cascading down the inside of the glass. I have to confess, I'd never heard an oven make that noise before, but it didn't sound like a particularly happy oven-noise, so I turned it off.

After 15 minutes or so, I opened the door a bit and peeked in. The top element was glowing bright red around one spot, and while I watched, it threw some more sparks off. I shut the door again. Obviously the poor thing was having some sort of breakdown and needed some privacy. It seemed unkind to intrude.

Three hours later I gingerly cracked open the door again. No sparks this time, and the glowing red spot had burned three quarters of the way around the curving length of the element. I wasn't surprised to find this morning that eventually the element burned itself in two before giving up the ghost.

The appliance repair and supply shop we use had to call their supplier to see if the replacement element could even be ordered. The stove is that old. It also looks like I'll have to do some wiring to get this thing fixed, since the element is soldered onto the wires instead of simply plugged into something. Maybe there'll be more sparks! Ooooh, pretty!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Yes, I'm still breathing. In fact, there's been quite a bit of breathing going on. There have been lots of other things going on, too.

1. Play practice twice a week, dress rehearsals for a week and then at last, opening night and completion of the first weekend's performances.
2. Finishing up another journal volume and beginning a new one.
3. Visits to the doctor and errand running with my grandmother.
4. Visiting a variety of churches. (We're looking. Again. Or, rather, still.)
5. Getting sunburned at the White Hart Renaissance Faire.
6. Celebrating the birthday of a dear family member.
7. Keeping theater and graduate student hours-- the girls, too.
8. Researching and finding mythopoetic literary venues.
9. Great Scott finishing up ENG 600 (Methods of Research and Bibliography) at MSU in 4 weeks instead of the usually scheduled 16 weeks.
10. Having The Older Niece (11 yrs.) over for a weekend.
11. Losing 10 pounds.
12. Walking down paths lined with field grasses higher than my head, many in bloom.
13. Taunting The Older Daughter with the newly arrived, seventh Harry Potter book while she was still in the shower just for the amusement of hearing her scream.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday Quote: On Poetry and Enticement

"What enticed me about poetry was being able to hold in my hands and in my heart these small pieces of meticulous and beautiful meaning. It was like reclaiming the soul, or giving the soul a voice."

--Joy Harjo

Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday Quote: On Beauty

"I'm after something that will make some sense of the chaos in the world and within us. The result should be something that is, well, 'beautiful,' but beauty isn't merely the pretty, or harmony or equilibrium. Rilke says beauty is the beginning of terror."

--Frank Bidart

Green Garnets and Silver

I am inordinately proud of finishing this. I've been alternately fiddling with it and ignoring it since last winter. Completion! Huzzah!

The Wonders of Technology

My first memorable experience with the wonders of technology occurred when I was two and began with a phrase I'd heard at my father's feet, where I often played while he studied at his desk or worked with a soldering iron and circuit boards: "I wonder what would happen if I did this." My father's mantra firmly in mind I sat behind his chair one evening with an admittedly pilfered X-Acto knife in my chubby little hand and considered a wall socket. "I wonder what would happen..." That night I learned one of the hard facts of life: technology can bite.

Forward twelve years. I have a boyfriend, a boyfriend who is three years older than my fourteen-year old self, a quiet boyfriend, it is true, but one who is kind, has a good sense of humor and how loves Star Trek even more than I do. What's more, he's fascinated by computers, and my father just happens to have built one himself from the ground up. The boyfriend comes over to visit. Whether he's visiting me or visiting the computer is a moot point; he's in the house, and my father isn't looking at his watch and asking loudly if "he's" still here, something Dad will do often in the years to come. I have learned another of technology's wonders: it attracts men.

Twenty-five years after this I'm crawling over ceiling joists, running cables and joking with Dad about networking my PC's and Great Scott's Mac, something that we both know makes my husband's hair stand on end. I'm not sure why he doesn't trust us. Just because we've spent some long nights trying to recover significant memory loss on one of my computers or had to wipe hard drives and start over, just because Great Scott sometimes comes home to find one of the PC's lying on its side with wires exposed and me up to my elbows in its innards, just because he knows my father has a penchant for working on electrical lines during storms without turning off the power first, is hardly reason to not trust us. Right? I'm thinking this may be technology's most wondrously utilitarian as well as entertaining value of all: making the husband nervous.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Poser Snarl

I am not a poet. I am not even a writer. What I am is a pen and ink and paper addict, a word addict, someone who scribbles in compulsive spurts and who, honestly, is about as happy to write a letter or a list of random words or to copy out a nice bit of someone else's writing as she is to write her own. Maybe more so. Often, most definitely more so.

Lately pen and paper mock me. I pick them up, and they whisper snide things beneath my pen strokes. What I need is to write utter nonsense, equally snide patter that has little literary value but that is a relief to write just for the sake of its smart-alek-y-ness.

So. Give me topics upon which to snarl, topics about which to be sharply witty and ascerbic. I need the excuse.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Friday Quote: On Therapy

"Therapy is expensive. Popping bubble wrap is free."


Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Quote: On Indolence

How beautiful it is to do nothing and then to rest afterward.

--Spanish Proverb

Yesterday we ran errands like our lives depended on it, braving both a factory outlet mall and Stuff-Mart in one fell swoop. We came home exhausted and cranky. Ok, I came home exhausted and cranky. This morning we have done nothing but laze around like beached sea slugs (but without the slime). It has been wonderful.

One moment of excitement did rouse us to a flurry of phone calls. The cast list for "Laura's Memories" came via email this morning. Two of the girls' friends tried out also, so there has been much heating up of the phone lines in mutual congratulations and discussion. Rehearsals begin June 5. We'd better pack in all the sea slug time we can in the next two weeks.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


One of my favorite cartoons ever.

And a close runner-up.

Journal Excerpt: May 1, 2007: On Choices and Ambivalence

11:57 p.m.

All day I have been forgetting that this is the first of May. All day time has meant nothing to me save that it touches upon the necessity of picking up the girls after school and eventually feeding them.

I have been playing with fountain pens and inks tonight, foolish ink-stained wretch that I have become. I form letters, loops and backloops, humps and dots and swirls, as if they matter, as if they have meaning there upon the page. "Noodler's Burgundy," I write, and, "Diamine Royal Blue," "Private Reserve Purple Haze" and "Unknown Black." I write them over and over, some with fine nibs, some with medium. Some I write with flex nibs, adding unnecessary flourishes and scrolls until, impatient, I begin to write too quickly, and the flowing lines turn into scrawls and worse-than-scrawls. Afterward there are pages and pages that mean nothing, that say nothing save that I was restless. Nowhere on the pages do the words "conflicted" or "dissatisfied" appear. "Unhappy" is not among the eloquence of looping lines, nor "discouraged" nor "slipping," "dark," "falter" or "lost." Only the objective and the cheerful names of inks: "Apache Sunset," "Purple Martin," "Sapphire Blue,""Claret."

A power line was down across the road in town this morning. I had to back up and turn into a parking lot, then turn around, go back the way I'd come and try a different route to my destination. What if the destination is unknown? What if one finds oneself in a parking lot three times a day? Four? Five? Six? Turning and heading back up the path already traveled? Without direction, without a goal, one loses the way. There is no coming or going save only to keep moving, long for rest as one may well do.

The rain is falling outside, pattering on the walk. It, at least, knows its own direction, single-minded, enviable phenomenon of nature.

"...when we choose
the way by which our only life
is lived, we choose and do not know
what we have chosen, for this
is the heart's choice, not the mind's;
to be true to the heart's one choice
is the long labor of the mind.
He chose, imperfectly, as we must,
the rule of love, and learned
through years of light what darkly
he had chosen: his life, his place,
our place, our lives..."

(For whole poem, click quote and scroll down to Thursday, Aug. 26, 2004.)

Wendell Berry's words strike home both as a sharp blade and as a life preserver that having been thrown, hits the person in need of it and gets his attention. I think of choices I have made, choices I repeat weekly, sometimes daily. I think of how, unknowing, I first chose, how knowingly I continue choosing, a life in which I am so restless, how still that life is full of love and how choosing against it would betray myself far more deeply than I have yet to do, even traitor that I am. "We live the given life and not the planned," writes Berry in another poem, and I believe these words, too, believe that they are not in opposition to the others, believe our hearts in making their own choices, result in given lives, lives far different than anything our minds would have ever planned.

Perhaps it is an exercise in humility and discipline at last, to subjugate the lofty mind to the inexplicable and single-eyed determination of the simple heart. At least there is in it for me this consolation of choice: "...his life, his place,/our place, our lives." It lightens the weight of doubt to consider that my own choice of the rule of love is a choice that has resulted and continues to result in the places and lives of our two daughters and perhaps to some lesser degree, Great Scott's, too. I do not choose perfectly, but I choose. I choose.

What's in YOUR Refrigerator?

Today was supposed to be The Younger Daughter's party for the gifted program after school, but her teacher called and had to cancel.

Too bad. I had already made something to take.

Guess what greeted Great Scott when he opened the refrigerator upon his arrival home.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thirteen Recent Moments of Serendipity or Sheer Amusement

1. Finding a given-up-for-good earring on the school parking lot this evening as we left the girls' spring concert. It was one of my favorite pair, one I lost Wednesday afternoon.

2. Seeing three deer in the field last night, while walking. One leapt out of some trees rather near me and ran, making startled deer noises, across the field and into the woods. The other two studied me at length before running halfway across the field and then stopping to study me some more. They did this so long that I expect they will present their theses at the end of this semester.

3. Finding purple salvia at the local grocery store's parking lot greenhouse.

4. The Older Daughter's deciding to forgo the school reward field trip in order to do something alone with me that day for a treat.

"Are you telling me you'd rather do something with your family than with your friends?" I asked, astounded.

She looked at me as if I was utterly brainless, "Well, yeah!" I am still reeling in befuddled wonder.

5. Sitting at my table with my father soldering phone wires and fastening them to receptacles and talking or not talking, as the mood struck us.

6. A working internet connection.

7. And phone lines that don't buzz in our ears.

8. Walking down to the creek in the rain while we were under a flash flood warning and watching the water tearing past at four times the width of the normal stream bed.

9. Looking out the window during last Friday evening's slumber party to see the younger daughter and her two best friends in the driveway having an all-out mud fight .

10. Hosing them down afterward. In well water.

11. Overhearing the younger daughter tell her father over dinner, "I like 'Red Green', even if it is a show for middle-aged men!"

12. Participating in the napkin fight that erupted as a result of the above comment.

13. Lying on my stomach across a made bed in the middle of the day, watching a steady rain soak the earth outside the window and listening to it on the leaves and grass. Luxury.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Blogging Complications

My apologies for the lack of blog entries. Several complications have arisen that have prevented posting.

The good news:
None of us here at home are sick anymore. Huzzah to that!

1. My father had a heart attack.
2. Our phone line is entirely on the fritz. I've had to do all internet things from the library (where I am currently). This will continue until the lines are fixed, so future blog entries will be few and far between until then.
3. The end of the school year means an increase in busyness. Sewing costumes for a school play, getting The Older Daughter to rehearsals and attending the play kept me busy for a week (right on the tail end of Dad's hospital stay, too).
4. Attending The Older Daughter's reading of her winning essay at the local VFW last night after three days of frantic attempts to find said essay. Her teacher finally located a copy, may she live in sunlight forever.

More good news:
Dad is home and a little restless, I think, at being cooped up. He came over yesterday, and we made plans to totally rewire the phone lines in the house for/with me. :) This should be fun.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Fever. Chills. Sinus pain. Muscle aches.

I feel so bad my chocolate bunny has not even been licked.

NaPoWriMo efforts on hold.

(On the other hand, lots of great poets have written on drugs. Just think what a bottle of Nyquil might do for one's verse!)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday Quote: On Being Exceptional

"The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that which must also make you lonely."

---Lorraine Hansberry

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Thirteen Things That Drive My Husband Batty

1. My cold feet against his bare legs in winter.
2. I wear crop pants.
3. I have a neti pot...
4. ...and use it.
5. I prefer to mow the grass in fun designs (think Indian or Celtic knotwork) rather than doing a complete section at a time.
6. If a book is very boring or very interesting, I have no problem with turning to the back (or the middle) and reading there for awhile.
7. I am chronologically challenged (read, oblivious). Dinner gets started when the sun begins setting, a problematic issue in spring and summer.
8. I dislike wearing shoes.
9. I forget to turn off the stove burners and oven...
10. ...and to shut the windows when the heat is on...
11. ...and a couple of times, to pick up the children after school (Children? What children? Whose children?!).
12. James Fenimore Cooper amuses me.
13. I think trees talk.

Rediscoveries--The Writing Process: Time of Day

Many writers and writing coaches I know or have read say that morning is the best time to write. When I was in college, I used to stay up all night, writing into the wee hours of the morning but didn't get much done in full daylight. Partial cause was, indeed, procrastination and looming deadlines, I'll admit, but I also simply thought better at night; the flow of words and images was stronger and clearer. Maybe it was the silence, my roommates all asleep, outside traffic practically non-existent in our little residential neighborhood. Or maybe it was the assurance of no interruptions, the security of isolation in my basement chamber at a time of day when I knew no one would need me; no one would call.

Nineteen years later, I still write most easily late at night. Yes, maybe procrastination is still a factor (my NaPoWriMo emails have gone out after the midnight deadline two days in a row, now), but even that aside, night is still my favorite time to write. Great Scott! and the girls are asleep, and the house is a small one, so no housework can be done without waking them, thus I'm relieved of the obligation to attend to the practical household matters--the omnipresent bane of any sort of creative concentration I might attempt. No one calls. No distractions present themselves. The night is mine.

I've tried writing in the morning (i.e. Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way recommendation), but there is never enough time, and mornings demand a great deal of concentration as it is. There are two girls to get up and feed, errands for which to prepare, sometimes meetings to attend, and lots and lots and lots of things to remember. There are pressures and insanities in the morning, and while insanity may have inspired a great many writers, this one thinks it's highly overrated as literary motivation goes. Unless one is writing about large, overcooked oatmeal monsters, that is. Mornings are excellent motivation for large, overcooked oatmeal monster works. Angry large, overcooked oatmeal monsters. Angry, large overcooked oatmeal monsters who can't find their car keys and who have 8:30 a.m. appointments with the school speech pathologist. Oh, yeah.

One of the books I've been reading about organization (You! Yes, you! Quit your snickering!) advises its readers to consider what things they do that work well for them already and to build on those things rather than chucking everything out the window and trying to adopt someone else's system, whether that system be for time or environmental organization. Perhaps I need to stop trying to write on someone else's body clock, to stop feeling guilty for my wee hours production. Because, it's working: I'm four for four in rough draft turnout, a totally unheard of thing.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Unexpected Swing

It could very well be the sunshine, or maybe it's the sound of birdsong wafting through the open windows with the breeze. Whatever it is, I've awakened the last two mornings feeling more alive, lighter, even (brace yourselves) happier than I've been in a long, long time. Despite allergies and a wall of dishes to be washed by hand and a yard that in in desperate need of mowing and three tabards to make for The Older Daughter's school play, I feel wonderful when I open my eyes in the morning!

Know what I think it is? Not writing, no. Having written! Yes, thus far I'm two for two on the poem-a-day effort. (Well, two poems and a bit of horrible doggerel, actually, but who's counting?) I go to bed satisfied. I wake up...happy. The word is alien in my mouth, but sweet. Happy... Happy... Happy...

It's like living in a whole new plane of existence. Nirvana must be like this--only maybe with the dishes washed.

Friday, March 30, 2007


Write a poem a day for the month of April (National Poetry Month). Madness. Sheer madness.

All right. I'll do it.

I do have terms, though.

I don't write poems in a day. I take--literally--years with each poem before I consider it ready for publication. Therefore, I personally will undertake NaPoRoDraWriMo (National Poetry Rough Draft Writing Month).

Furthermore, I am not crazed about the idea of posting online all the nonsense that will erupt from such a frantic pace. I do, however, recognize my need for accountability. If you desire to subject yourself to a LuPoRoDra (Lucindy Poetry Rough Draft) a day, drop me an email, and I'll fire off a daily group update. I'll be grateful for the impetus to hold to my goal in semi-privacy , and you...well, we all have a little bit of the masochist in us; this should indulge it for you.

(I would be thrilled, BTW, to recieve similar updates form other NaPo(RoDra)WriMo attemptees. There's nothing like thrashing around in the mire of creativity in company.)

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday Quote: Reality

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

---Phillip K. Dick

Friday, February 09, 2007

Authors' Bios online at Relief

Relief has posted authors' bios for issue two. Yours truly's is about halfway down the page and not at all unhappy about being in such good company. In truth, my first reaction to reading the other authors' and poets' bios was intimidation. I'm looking forward to reading the work itself.

Friday Quote: On Gertrude Stein

According to a desktop page-a-day poetry snippet calendar that sits on Great Scott's desk, Gertrude Stein's editor, A. J. Fifield, once rejected one of her submissions as follows:

"I am only one, only one, only one. Only one being, one at the same time. Not two, not three, only one. Only one life to live, only sixty minutes in one hour. Only one pair of eyes. Only one brain. Only one being. Being only one, having only one pair of eyes, having only one time, having only one life, I cannot read your manuscript three or four times. Not even one time. Only one look, only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one."

--Poetry Speaks, desktop calendar

Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday Quote: On Poetry and Cat Concerts

"Poetry proves again and again that any single overall theory of anything doesn't work. Poetry is always the cat concert under the window of the room in which the official version of reality is being written."

--Charles Simic

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thirteen Things to do on A(nother) Snow Day

1. Let the children sleep in.
2. Let the husband sleep in.
3. Sleep in.
4. Throw the cat off one's head.
5. Make scones with real butter for breakfast.
6. Do laundry...and more laundry
7. Pull out season 3 of Hercules: The Legendary Journies, the one you bought and stashed away before Christmas in anticipation of potential snow days.
8. Listen to delighted cheers.
9. From the husband.
10. Join in the general mockery and delight of cheesy dialogue and fight scenes.
11. Let the husband field The Older Daughter's question as to why the females in Hercules wear clothes that facilitate pneumonia.
12. Wonder how much more Hercules we can take.
13. Listen to the news and discover school is out again tomorrow. Good thing I've got seasons 5 and 6 still hidden in the bureau drawer.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday Quote: Kitty Koans

I have found myself participating in compulsive activities of late, doing meaningless things in a driven manner simply to block out the rising rattle of thoughts have begun circling in my head like manic buzzards--like manic buzzards on meth. This morning, I need to slow down the interior. I also need humor. Following are several koans (thoughts or questions intended for meditation) from Henry Beard's Zen for Cats.

What is the sound made by a single jaw chewing on a mouse?

If there were no inside, would you still want to go outside?

If you encounter the Buddha on a garden path, bite him.

What is so special about the weeds in the big pots in the living room?

Why does the vacuum cleaner fall silent when its tail comes out of the wall?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thirteen Things...That Begin with "S"

Back in December Seeker gave me the letter "S" with the assignment to list ten things beginning with "S" that I love. Since I am such an underachiever in regard to promptness, I shall endeavor to tack on an extra three things, thus bagging brownie points while still fulfilling my Thursday list of thirteen things. Ah, multitasking!

1). Symbolism

2). Scott--The man I sleep with and cook for and read with and worship and torment and for whom I buy chocolate.

3). Silence

4). Stillness

5). Snow

6). Shimmering light on running water

7). Subtleties

8). Silliness

9). Slippery, moss covered stones

10). Streams

11). Sisters (my own, my aunts, my daughters...this relationship in general is one that interests and fascinates me and makes me grateful)

12). Sunlight

13). Seekers (people who persist in asking questions when there is no guarantee of being given an answer they can bear or even any answer at all, people who ponder and wonder and ask what if)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Looking for Relief?

In the sidebar to the right, you will find some buttons describing a brand new Christian literary journal, Relief, and linking to its website. I first heard of Relief last fall when Jennifer of Wonderfully Ill-Composed mentioned it at dinner. Relief's first issue came out in November last year and contained poetry by Scott Cairns and an essay by poet Luci Shaw, among other intriguing goodies. Poet Kristin Mulhern Noblin, for example, is someone to watch. Right now she's evidently teaching middle school English in Portland, OR, but the woman can write and write well.

Relief is new, yes, and I get the impression it's finding its voice, as I expect any new lit mag must do in the beginning. Still, I'm very impressed with the enthusiasm and approachability of its editors, with their passion for literature and their insistence on and pursuit of human authenticity over prettiness and pat answers. The text links will take you to the main page. The graphic button will deliver you to the store where the first issue can be purchased.

I might add that Relief will be publishing two of my own poems next month. Torn between whether to purchase the first issue for Cairns/Shaw/Noblin or the second one for Lawson? Go ahead and get them both. You know you want to.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The "It's All About Meegle" Meme

Jeremy (from whom I filtched this meme and who is a grand source for all things fun) gives the following directions should you choose to tackle this one yourself: "...take the following search strings, (with your name) and find the one you like best." He credits Laura with its invention. If you attempt the Meegle, be sure to leave a link on her site.

Lucinda was born four years earlier and remembered and told stories of another war.

Lucinda grew up around her father's writer friends--Allen Ginsberg, Charles Bukowski and Flannery O'Connor...

Lucinda likes to give the dogs treats from on top of the bookcase. [Note: How Lucinda got on top of the bookcase is not explained.]

Lucinda hates being in the dark, both physically and mentally.

Cindy spends most of her time looking into the mirror admiring her beauty... [Note: "Lucinda" returned no results. Thus the nickname substitute.]

Lucinda eats a truffle and reels and staggers and blubbers, thereby making her board members think she is over the hill, nuts, goofy, senile, demented.

Lucinda wonders if magic might be involved.

Cindy's favorite food is probably roast beef... [Note: Again, no results for "Lucinda". What's more, there was only one result for "Cindy" and this was on a pet of the day site!]

Lucinda's hair is conveniently located in the Central area of Connecticut and is within driving distance of all New England States...

Lucinda likes to wear [Note: Sadly, neither "Lucinda" nor "Cindy" returned any results. One can only assume the worst.]

Cindy has traveled to Naples four times a week to train with her coach for this year's Olympics.

Lucinda works in secret...

Lucinda has decided to be difficult.

Lucinda cries, "I know, I know, I sound like the old gypsy woman in The Wolf Man."

Lucinda is happy to hear it.

Tags: Randy, Scott and Seeker

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ice, Ice, Baby!

Here at Possum Box Lane we have lots and lots and lots of ice. Every tree, every bush, every blade of grass is encased in its own little ice capsule. The countryside glitters and gleams, even though the sun is behind layers of thick clouds. In our yard, one hugantic tree limb has fallen across the front walk and into the driveway where my car would have been had we not moved both cars well into the lane and away from all trees. Another big limb is lying in the side yard. Both maples are topped with giant spikes where their heaviest and highest branches have cracked and broken off. Down by the creek, I discovered yesterday that my favorite wild plum tree, the one whose white frothy blossoms I loved in the spring and whose tart fruit I nibbled and carried with me on walks in the fall, has snapped off at the ground, its diamond crown more than it could bear.

Our power went out yesterday around 1:00 p.m. We still had heat from the gas heat stove, although its fan no longer worked. As the light failed, Great Scott lit candles, and he and the girls finished their game of Dragonology. We laid out his double sleeping bag and the girls' bags on the floor in front of the stove and closed off the upstairs. Then we sat in the living room, and I read aloud from E. Nesbit's children's book of Shakespeare plays until bedtime. To the girls it was an adventure. The cats loved having them in front of the stove, and before long two girls and two cats were snuggled together in a heap watching the flames in the heat stove flicker shadows against the walls and ceiling. Great Scott and I went to bed with flashlights and read for awhile, The Great Golden Sun Cat curled sleeping atop the covers. It was one of the most peaceful evenings we've had in a long, long time.

The power came back on this morning around 10:30 or 11:00. The phone went out about the same time. As I type this to post, I'm in Great Scott's classroom at his school (the school itself is closed today). Our internet connection at home is dial-up, so I won't be able to post more or to post comments regularly until the phone problem at home is fixed. Since the last phone repairman told us that digging would be necessary the next time the phone went out, that may be awhile. I'll try to pop in as I can via the library computers or here at school.

Many thanks to those of you who checked on us. May your power stay on, and your heat be consistent and cozy!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday Quote: On Shooting the Bear

Every morning or afternoon, whenever you want to write, you have to go up and shoot that old bear under your desk between the eyes.

--Robert Leckie

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Books Since Christmas

The following is a list of books I've either read or am currently reading or will soon be reading as a result of generous Christmas gift carding (and borrowing from my husband's and our daughters' stashes):

1. Eragon by Christopher Paolini--We saw the movie over Christmas break. Great Scott had read both this book and its sequal to the girls, but I'd registered them only in bits and pieces, so I reread them for myself this week.

2. Eldest by Christopher Paolini--No, I don't believe that Murtagh and Eragon are full brothers. I'm betting Brom was Eragon's father. My older daughter disagrees. This is the stuff of a lively relationship. :) (Even if I did agree, it's entirely too much fun baiting her.)

3. Blue Iris by Mary Oliver--I need to write her. She's kept me alive for years now. She deserves tangible thanks. I begin to breathe again when I read her work.

4. Late Wife by Claudia Emerson--Found this by accident. Am impressed all to pieces. Very concrete. No telling. Showing. Showing. Showing. Meaning conveyed via image. Excellent.

5. Mint Snowball by Naomi Shihab Nye--Prose poems! I've been becoming increasingly interested in prose poetry. Nye is a favorite. Good combo, I'm hoping.

6. Narrow Road to the Interior by Matsuo Bashō, translated by Sam Hamill--Maybe I was feeling a bit harried in the bookstore when I bought this with a gift card after Christmas. Usually haiku doesn't catch my attention. This, though, seemed restful, and when I opened it, immediately I felt permission to "play" more with my own writing, to take it less seriously and try new things. Plus, Great Scott has long been a fan of Bashō's, and I knew he'd enjoy it, too.

7. The Gift by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky--Rumi is one of my favorite poets. Hafiz sounded as though his work might have in it what I love so much about Rumi's. This is an educated guess. I'm widening my horizons.

8. October Palace by Jane Hirshfield--I love the grounding effect of Hirshfield's poetry. I need it.

9. Lincoln's Melancholy by Joshua Wolf Shenk--Finally I'm reading this, and although I'm reserving judgement until I'm finished, thus far I'm notably impressed by the depth of Shenk's research and how cautious he seems to be about drawing set-in-stone conclusions. You'll hear more from me on this one in the future.

10. A Writer's Book of Days by Judy Reeves--I really don't like buying books about writing or books of writing prompts or plans. They ususally sit on the shelf and mock me. This one, though, is friendly. I think it purrs when I open it.

11. The Essence of Zen compiled by Maggie Pinkney--An anthology of zenlike quotations from widely (and wildly) varying sources.

12. Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill--This one is Great Scott's, and I shall have to wait until he finishes it to tackle it myself, since I read in fits and starts, and it drives him crazy to pick up one of his own books and find four or five of my bookmarks in it. He is a patient man.

13. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci Volume II by Diana Wynne Jones--I'm always on the lookout for acceptable fantasy books to keep the young book-demanding hordes here in our home at bay. So far I've not read anything of Diana Wynne Jones' that I'd have any qualms about handing over to the girls immediately. This pleases me. Plus, her books are just plain fun.