Saturday, June 25, 2016

Wild Onion

Wild onion grows happily in my front and back yards. (This particular picture is courtesy the Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve, where you will enjoy the photo caption!) I posted a very similar photo on Instagram, captioned "Electrified!" Commanded by something at Facebook, I also planted an onion that had sprouted in my freshener, and it sports a gorgeous head of white blossoms at the moment. But, alas, today I was out there early with my scythe, whacking at certain tall grasses and plantains that are out of control. Then with my little garden chair, clippers, and gloves, doing some edging and weeding.

Even earlier, I watched a flock of bluejays take up the bread crumbs I'd laid out under the sweetgum tree. Then the resident squirrels enjoyed their chunks of apples. Now it's back to domestic chores and moments of rest, reading outdoors, currently Edna O'Brien, with whom I am in love. Ah, and did I tell you about the neighborhood raccoons, six or eight of them, living in a neighbor's tree? A rare and wonderful thing to come upon a gaze of raccoons! (Many thanks to garyjwood, flickr, and Wikipedia for this particular gaze!)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

S is for Selfie

I learned from The Bloggess that today is National Selfie Day. Or rather, #NationalSelfieDay. (I suspect this is a Twitter thing.) I planned to illustrate this blog post with a selfie. If I could figure out how. I vaguely remembered taking some accidental selfies a few years ago when trying to document storm damage to our fence. Sigh... And I do OK on Instagram, taking pictures of my garden. So the plan was to go out and take a selfie beside the newest bloom on the Prairie Blue Eyes, since I have blue eyes (and it doesn't). I grabbed the new cap I bought today to walk home in, so I could show you that, too, my support of ISU Redbird Volleyball, and I do support Redbird Volleyball, but I bought the hat because I forgot to take my hat to work, since I don't wear a hat on the way to work, so my hair can dry,* only on the way back..., when the sun is in my eyes. Double sigh...

*Swimming, followed by chlorine removal shampoo. (So my hair doesn't turn green.) (Wouldn't that be a fun selfie?)

But when I picked up my phone, it was dead. So it's on the charger now, and I am going to tell you about H is for Hawk instead. This is a wonderful book, as everyone told me, by Helen Macdonald, and I loved remembering two specific things while reading it: 1) My own reading of The Once and Future King, by T.H. White, as Macdonald discusses that and other works by White as she a) mourns her father and b) trains her hawk 2) seeing a falcon in a hood on a falconer's wrist in childhood (sort of scary).

Here are some things I loved in the book:

1. "Being a novice is safe. When you are learning how to do something, you do not have to worry about whether you are good at it. But when you have done something, have learned how to do it, you are not safe anymore. Being an expert opens you up to judgement." (p. 146, British spelling of "judgement.") Yes, indeed, judgment and expectations! Your own and others. Not to mention fear! Fear of judgment, fear of failure, and even fear of success, the self-consciousness that brings and how it can take the joy out of the activity you loved while beginning to learn it. Of course, this can be countered by the joys of mastery, confidence, and the ability to help/teach others, etc.

2. "Some part of me that was very small and old had known this, some part of me that didn't work according to the everyday rules of the world but with the logic of myths and dreams." (p. 220) This is the part of me that I trust and need to remember to trust, because whenever I don't remember to listen to little, old her 1) she stamps her foot 2) it's a disaster.

3. Back to p. 146: "'Need to excel in order to be loved,' White had written in his dream diary." Well, yes. That's exactly what drives my need to excel, to pursue excellence, in general. Plus, I keep a dream diary. What's not to love? Well, the "unspoken coda," as Macdonald calls it: "What happens if you excel at something and discover you are still unloved?" Mmhm. Well, thus far, my answer is, "Be more lovable." That little foot-stamping girl probably taught me that.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Way Behind

Mmm, yes, I appear to be way behind in my blogging. It's not that I haven't been inspired to blog! (Or maybe it is.) It's that I've been busy, and swimming. And walking, and reading, and seeing people. And writing and editing to deadline.* And working.

It's all good. I think five poems have come out since I last blogged, two in a print mag no doubt on its way to me, since I did not go up to Printer's Row Lit Fest this year to retrieve it, and three online:

"Harpoon" in Sweet

"Crabapple Blooming" in Poetry Porch

"Cows in the Rain" in Redheaded Stepchild

You can hear me read "Harpoon," thanks to a tiny computer microphone my son gave me for Christmas! It's a very short poem that keeps flailing. I think Emily Dickinson might like my weird use of the word "it" in it. You'll want to see the red hair and peacock feathers on the home page of Redheaded Stepchild, a home for rejected poems.

And my daughter, who is twenty something, wrote a Father's Day list for the Entertainment (etc.) section of  forever twenty somethings, a fun place to be forever twenty something. And I love her bio.

*Yes, one of the deadline pieces is about elephants.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Poetry Reading on Friday, May 20

I am excited about this poetry reading in Chicago on Friday, May 20, 2016! Doors open at 7:00 at 914 W. Lawrence, and the art gallery is on the 4th floor. Come early to see the art! I get to read with the fabulous poets listed here, who start us off at 8:00 p.m. I read after that, probably around 9:00 p.m. There will be refreshments--must bake cookies!!--plus beer & wine. (So I hope there will be potty breaks!)

I have been reading my poems outside, now that it's sunny again, and trying not to be too nervous. Sunshine aids with that, but on the night of the event I will be indoors and trembling. But all shall be well! There will be much love in the place, including friends, family wamily, and encouraging strangers.

Come hear Susanna Lang, Kristin LaTour, Donna Vorreyer, Valerie Wallace, and me!

I'll be reading from my new chapbook, ABCs of Women's Work (Red Bird, 2015), and this poster comes from the cover of that! Both of these great posters are by Paul Ryan, who runs the Lagoons Sessions reading series and Lagoons Editions, a small press. Our paths crossed years ago in a small writing group in Chicago, and I am glad they have crossed again! Random coincidence: cross stitching!

I also plan to read a couple poems from two previous chapbooks, choosing poems with "women's work" in them and honoring the work of the women who run those small presses: Kristy Bowen of Dancing Girl Press and Margaret Bashaar of Hyacinth Girl Press. You go, girls!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Bluebird of Happiness

This morning I saw the bluebird of happiness in my own backyard! Actually, three of them. Actually, they might have been the Brewer's blackbird, as seen here. They were small, dark blue, shiny, and feeding along the ground. Two were at either end of a shared dandelion stem, like Lady and the Tramp in Lady and the Tramp, having spaghetti. Then the third arrived, and, just as I got my husband to join me at the window, they flew away. Sometimes, that's life.

Or perhaps it was this guy. By Edward Lear.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lagoons Sessions

Poster by Paul Ryan
Friday, May 20, 2016
Uptown Arts Center
941 W. Lawrence
Chicago, IL

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Poison Ivy & Arsenic Lobster

My son was a big Batman fan as a kid, and he grew up to draw this Poison Ivy car! You can see more of his drawing and design at his Sketch Blog, and I offer this today in celebration of the new issue of Arsenic Lobster, which contains a poem of mine called "Poison Ivy."
There's a whole array of wonderful stuff, as usual, in this issue, and editor Susan Yount's introduction is like a poem in itself.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Such a busy month! But so far, I do have 27 new poems! They await re-reading and revision, and I have more to write before the month is out. In the meantime, here are two poetry posts involving collaboration:

1) The new poetry feature at Escape Into Life: Lissa Kiernan and Maureen Alsop, with art by Sara K. Byrne.

2) A lovely blog post by Maureen E. Doallas in Writing Without Paper, with poetry, art, and video by Lucien Stryk and Suzanne Stryk.

Plus, random Sibling Revelry by the Callaway sisters!
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