Hat Wave/Heat Wave


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It’s hotter than Hooter in Heater!

An old line I recollect (from Firesign Theater for those of you that might care and be old enough to remember) whenever the weather gets hot.  And it does, occasionally, get hot in the typically cool and rainy Pacific NW.  This summer has been especially intense, almost drought like with these past few days bringing temps in the 90’s and topping 100 for several days straight. More reminiscent of the desert that our climate. Though a little heat wave happens almost every summer.

On my instigation, David and I took off for our cabin, a little over an hour away. Rustic by way of shack-like, but bordering a small creek, it’s without indoor plumbing (think outhouse instead), electricity, phone service or internet. I love it.  Our stays are all about cooking, reading, playing in the creek and hiking. It’s about as far away from modern life as it could be short of camping.

At the cabin, the heat of the city is a little moderated, tucked up as it is in some elevation and in a creek draw.  I can get work done with the siren call of email and the internet, a bit more physically comfortable. Not worry so much about upcoming obligations. (Flowers for an outdoor wedding on Sunday when it’s scheduled to be over 90. What, me worry?)

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with hats.  This year’s trip to the dermatologist was to have some spots on my nose checked out.  Age spots I guess they are, not the freckles of my youth.  “Nothing to worry about, just some sun damage. Wear 50 SPF sunscreen. And a hat.”

We have a car with a sun roof that’s always uncovered. Maybe that did it. You take the light when and where you can in our notoriously gloomy climate. I don’t think of a hat then.

The wearing a hat part, not really a problem although I’ve not been assiduous about wearing a hat for sun protection. My head gets very hot in the summer and even a light weight straw hat can be a bother.  I haven’t really liked those hats with the holes in the crown but that might be in my future.

The sun is not my friend right now. The heat is not my friend and we’ve had both in abundance.

My advice to myself (and to anyone over 40)

Stay hydrated (always)
Wear 50 SPF
And a hat.

Over to Hat Attack for this month’s inspiration. And Visible Monday.  Better late than….

It may be a shack but it’s our very pleasant shack.


Time Warp


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Why, or perhaps how, is it July already?  I find that the time speeds up in about June and before I know it, summer has ended and it’s December.  A particular form of time warping occurs when I go back to visit my family in the Midwest.  A two-week trip compresses itself magically into seeming to take 5 days. I know it’s not true but my body and brain are tricked into believing a particular kind of condensation occurs. Minutes to seconds, days to hours, weeks to days.

My trip coincided with my aunt’s 94th birthday. She worked until she was 90 (really, as a receptionist for a high-tech firm – almost unbelievable). She didn’t collect social security under her own name til she was 91 – widowed at 54 she’d been collecting widow’s benefits until then. She is an aunt by marriage and her mother also lived into her 90s.  She is still kickin’ it although I think this may be her last trip to the Midwest from California.

The birthday girl. Born almost on the 4th of July!

My own mom is still in recovery from my father’s death in February.  I think she’s not grieving exactly but in some kind of shell shock or PTSD.  She was his caregiver (as I’ve talked about) with the care giving increasingly burdensome in the last nine months.  I was somehow sweetly moved to come across my dad’s neatly folded underwear and socks, untouched as yet.  The house is quieter without his puttering, and swearing.  She is still game – we went to a water park although she kept to the quieter rides.  She was probably the oldest grandmother there!

My mom on the left and her sister, and me of course.

Possibly because I spent much of the time in solicitude, catering to my mom, that I came away from my “vacation” more tired than when I left.  Maybe that’s part of the time warp.  The effect of time on our bodies is also a way time warps, emphasis on the warp.  We go from being capable and strong to, well, less so.  Reverting to some place of our childhood when our vigor and capacity were limited.  I’m not saying this has to happen, in fact, as my aunt and mom might attest, it is possible to keep sharp as you age.  Even so, time is inescapable.  If we are lucky we will grow older – time, with increasing warp speed, will wing forward, propelling us into the inevitable.

’til next time,


PS Whoa nelly, it’s July Hat Attack time, and a chance to check in at Visible Monday.

June: A case of nerves


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Wow, it’s been awhile!

It’s audition time for the Christmas Revels and not matter how often I do this (and it’s relatively frequently) I get a case of the nerves.  Not just a bottle but a whole case.  I perform with decent regularity, mostly folkdance and singing.  Sometimes onstage, sometimes in more informal contexts.  I do confess that early on I would close my eyes while singing in a group – though not when dancing obviously!  And I teach and do trainings and public speaking events.  So it’s not like I’m out of practice of being in front of people “performing” in one way or another.

So it’s the judgement thing.  The worry about being up to snuff. I didn’t sing in public from aged 10 to sometime in my 40’s. No school choir for me. My grade school didn’t have one and it didn’t occur to me I could sing in high school.  So auditions bring all this back to me, the sense of imposter syndrome.  And.

Call me a hypocrite but I do judge others, silently of course, if the writing is poor or the singing off key.  I walk in horror of running into someone like me or rather someone like me who can’t keep their mouth shut.  The people I’m auditioning for would never do that but not being cast for a chorus is tantamount to saying those things.  At least that’s the story I tell myself in my fear.

Nonetheless, I’m putting on a feel-good outfit, running through my song, and getting ready to head out. You can’t get through a case of the nerves without drinking at least some of it.

What I wore, minus the hat

Better late than never I’m heading over to Judith’s Hat Attack and Patti’s Visible Monday


Flower riot



My volunteer stint making bouquets made an interesting “turn” recently suggesting we follow a template for design. I’m all for templates to begin with. These help create and frame expectations and can give me (or anyone) the rudiments of good design.  I’m past that now, having internalized these elements so was a bit taken aback that my creative “freedom” might be cramped.  But we’ve been so swamped with flowers post-Mother’s Day that the emphasis has been on getting bouquets done for our hospice partners.  It’s been a wild ride of flower fun.

I am often challenged in my color combinations and using enough different forms (circular, spiky, etc) and textures to keep things interesting with the goals of bringing joy into people’s lives.


May 13 – Where do ideas come from?


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I’ve been thinking about this as I’ve been working on a couple of flat out creative writing projects at once, plus keeping my hand in with creating visually pleasing outfits and of course poetry.

I did not get the two-dimensional art skills in my family (my sister has those) but when I’m faced with flowers, or my closet, something happens – call it magic – that pulls together and helps me create.  In these instances, I cannot separate what I’m seeing with what I’m doing. This is especially the case w/ dealing with flowers and plants. I think I have internalized color sense and principles of art (line, space, etc.) which helps.  True when faced with a big design project, I step out into the art of possible but I’m not 100% sure something is going to work until I see it. This is what I might call reactive ideation.

Poetry is another story. I’m not usually staring at a bunch of words when they reorganize themselves into a poem while I’m watching them (though that would be interesting). Poems seem to come in one of two ways…. I have been watching or observing something/some person and I piece together the conversation or observations; or, like a bolt of light, the whole thing comes to me in one collective piece. Ideas are the starting point though, whether the words just fall from the heavens or I overhear them. They have to be worked, coaxed if you will, to form the whole.

I like to think that everything I do (well almost everything) requires a certain amount of creativity. Even teaching if done well, requires that I step out of myself and present information in new ways to try to “catch” my students. Ideas in this context will come when I’m actually doing the work. I suppose it is the corollary to ideas that come when I’m faced with a bunch of flowers.

So now I’m faced with a creative project that has two elements (a story within a story) and I’m a bit stumped.  I’ve done some initial sketching out, an outline if you will, and I’m not satisfied. I’m waiting for an idea, THE idea to move things from the mundane to the sublime. I’m letting things sink and percolate. Variously I’m not writing anything down and then writing any wacky idea that comes to me. Because sometimes ideas come when you least expect them.  They may not always be the best idea, but they do get other ideas moving.

Something will happen.  And I’ll be ready with my butterfly net to catch it.


Okay I’m still writing poems, just not as frequently.  Where the idea came from this one, I’m not sure. But the experience has indeed happened to me.

The space between waking and sleeping
or the other way round, full of rush
within a body, calming, bodies
that twitch while undergoing paralysis
A torrent of sounds quieted
to the surge of pumping blood
images of noise, scrambled words
too entwined to enjoy.
Once, no twice, I woke up while sleeping
my mind was clear, I couldn’t move
a muscle, trying to wave my arms
rouse my lying self in case I was dying.
Or was already dead. The second time
I knew I wasn’t, not yet. Atonic, instead,
to keep me from acting out my dreams
of flying, of screaming, of fucking.
Now when I lay me down to sleep
I try to dream of quietude
not wake alive inside a body’s dead
muscles that still in lassitude.



Interesting piece on creativity: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/04/creativity-habits_n_4859769.html

May 8 – Returning to Routine

With Napowrimo over the April poem routine has petered out. Much as I wish it were not true, by this, the first week of May, other things have come to fill the routine gap.  I’m teaching two courses this spring, one online and one face to face and both of these take time.  More time than one might expect. There’s a lot of reading especially with the online course.

It’s to easy to upend my priorities. Too easy to spend a little too much time on social media. Or crafting the perfect response to my students. Too easy to get depressed or exasperated by local and national politics. And all of this, this kind of negative routine, saps the creative spirit.  While some things do need attending to (my students!, my garden, my friends) other things could be given a pass.

One thing I’ve been spending some time on has been a fundraiser for one of my favorite arts organizations.  I’ll be talking more about nonprofits and fundraising in the coming weeks but I got to combine some more creative activities (decor for the event) with the more mundane efforts of raising money.

Prepped to go

In some ways, fun as these things are, they are still distractions.  I sometimes wonder at myself, that focus is elusive.  I begin again,  I remind myself what’s important. Set out on another day to keep those things in focus once again. Practice.


May 7, 2017

It was something to keep tethered
So she wouldn’t float away
Some mix of tears and the cloudy sky

Feel your feet,
Feel your toes inside your shoes
the soles pressing against the ground
feel your calves, knees, thighs
pressing against the air
not your head
don’t feel your head
feel something that will not
steal your soul. Your feet.

The present chases itself
Can’t be bothered with the past
Brings along with it barbed wire and sunshine.


Feel your feet.



May 4 – The promise of sun


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It’s wonderful that when one gets into a habit, say writing a poem a day for a month, that habit is more or less ingrained.  Just one day out of April and I missed my poetry group intensely, missed the overflowing mailbox of poems! Missed the opportunity to share whatever strong poem or drivel I managed to design.  So I’m trying to keep up the habit, especially since I know it will make me a better writer.

I heard somewhere (at a lecture I think) that William Stafford woke up everyday, early, and sat down to write without fail.  Every day. I wonder if some days he wrote nothing but lists, like I do!

The weather, temporarily has improved. Sun and 80’s – which is unusual in the PNW this time of year.  The garden plants, which have been steady in growth, practically leapt out of their roots yesterday. Nonetheless I’m glad we don’t have perfect days all the time.

May 4

The trees stand sentinel to spring
while wafting on the sudden warmth
lilacs mist the air with scent of purple.
If all the days were this
We’d surely come inurned,
turn Eden’s bower into the devil’s den.
It’s really best that rain’s deep gloom
descends upon us regular as the night,
so we can cherish each sun dripped day
each golden breath of spring’s bouquet.



May 1 – Back to Normal


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Or maybe not. NaPo/GloPoWriMo is over and already I miss the opportunity to share poetry with my small circle of fellow poets. But as this was May 1, I had opportunity to engage in the poetry of dance as I and fellow traditional dance enthusiasts (aka Morris dancers) danced up the sun in a local park, watching dawn break over the mountain. It’s an age old tradition begun in England and I would guess there are cultures everywhere that have kept watch as the sun marked a time when the days would grow warmer and crops would burgeon.  You can find out more about morris dancing here.

Some pictures from my morning:

I guess this sort of a panoply post.  An assortment of things.  Pictures as above, poetry, and a normal sort of photo to share on Hat Attack.  There’s creativity and passion in all sorts of activities. Some perhaps not so ordinary.

May 1

When Mayday comes to my town
the lilacs are near to bloom
the grass has glistening tendencies
dew spangles and sings on the blades.

When the dawn comes to my sky
the clouds may part briefly,
the sun reflects some atmospheric dust
red flares, fleeting, spread into a blushing aura.

When people come to the heights
they may sit on the grass
or huddle in bright masses stomping the cold
wishing it away with ribbons and bells.

Singing the sun awake
Dancing the dawn of summer.


‘Til next time,

April 30 –


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I have somewhat followed the NaPo prompt to write about a recurring event.
Well May 1 comes every year (so far!) but more to the point, my dance group Renegade Rose dances up the sun with other like minded morris dancers in a decades if not centuries long tradition. We will be at a local high elevation point tomorrow at 5:45 am and dancing most of the day. This poem is related to both the return of “summer” — in the British tradition summer begins May 1, and gathering to keep that promise of tradition alive.

April 30, 2017
I am in a fractured mood
the sun, finally the sun, breaks into spring.
I count the blessings there, turn
to face the mounting afternoon.
I’m setting the groundwork for tomorrow
when May sun coils to bring us
warmer days and better weather.

The queen of May wants pressed shirts,
wants protein and ice cream for breakfast
wants coffee and a nip of brandy to be sure Cold
will keep his distance. But it is April
yet, when spring promises have been broken
in hail and rain and sporting wind.

It comes round every year. We regale ourselves
with last year’s recollect. Remember to
look at the dim ground when we rise
the ground that is indeed split, green, open,
the lilacs that finally have broken bud.
The queen of May wants
for nothing.

April 29 – Move


time is moving. And April nearly done. Here’s the poem for today.

April 29, 2017
All my words tonight
My little chicks of clicks and syllables
they are covening in the coop I guess
not coming out to greet me.

I’ve spent the day in dance
not troubling with poems inimitable
the 4/4 metering of steps drove out
whatever lovely murmurings slid in.

Til the 11th hour
when steps and sound became compellable.
To wrap my arms and ears around
The graceful lingering of energy.

In movement or in words
the capture of an elegy.