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Confuse me.  I am smart.  And I am a woman of a certain age.  So it’s not like this is my first elevator ride.  But when I am faced with that unique challenge of pushing the arrow button that says “hold the door open” versus the arrow button that says “close the door”, I get as lost as if I were wandering around Antarctica in a whiteout.  Those arrows…they mean nothing to me.  The only thing I can see is the slightly hurt, more-than-a-little-annoyed, offended look in the eyes of the person on whom I am closing those elevator doors as my brain fumbles about, thinking in a panic, “Which button??? Which button???”

To all on whom I have inadvertently closed elevator doors within an inch of their noses – and to all to whom I will undoubtedly do this in the future – my sincerest apologies.

I’m a pretty good photographer and I can’t even take a decent picture of the things.

On Poetry

Poems come in rushes
or not at all.

They spill from the souls and pens unbound,
a waterfall of words rushing
down a passage of boulders
In the brain that would trap them
were they too weak,
Those words
Then left tangled and forgotten as something
choked and burned by summer kudzu or
an unrepentant murderous lover.

When the words won’t come
or when they crawl,
disparate phrase by disparate phrase
following on the heels of an
inspired title,
I tire of trying to soothe them into order,
this rascally line of word children.
I let them play,
jottings only,
And the poem breathes,
And shallower
Then stills.

I cannot understand the man who,
for weeks has been
“working on a poem”.
You cannot rearrange water
once it has flowed onto a page –
you can only carve ice, but ice
does not curve,
not like liquid words
not like the bending turns of a poem.

A poem is or is not.
It is born of thought whole,
An Eve from somewhere behind a rib,
A Venus rising from her shell.
A tweak here or there perhaps,
After a night in a soft bed
(Never a refrigerator – too chill)
A cast of shadow caused by altered light
A pearl tucked in a tendril of hair
A wisp of chiffon draped over a bare shoulder –
just so –

But work?
Oh no.
A poem
Is birthed from soul.

Because of our senses, so many parts of the past are not lost to us.

Sight? We have images from as far back as 1826.

Sound? The first audio recording ever is from the 1860s. For Christmas last year, when I bought Kelsea her record player, I also bought an album of historical figures speaking, just so we could have a voice to attach to a name and a picture. We are cut off from this part of the past prior to the recorded word.  Such is not the case with visuals, as we have paintings prior to photographs that give us images from centuries ago.

Taste? Well, for centuries some people have had good taste and some people have had questionable taste, but we’re not talking about that kind of taste. We’re talking about, say, turnips. A turnip today – at least one grown organically – likely tastes pretty much like a turnip six hundred years ago tasted. Ergo, status quo. We retain a history of taste due to the unchanging nature of basic foodstuffs.

Touch? Ditto taste. A cat’s fur feels the same as it did one thousand years ago. I think. Not everything is the same to the touch but there is a living history, A rock still feels like a rock.

And so we come to smell. And here is where history fails us. The sense of smell is lost with time – it is the most fleeting and least replicable of the senses. You know the fragrance of a rose, yet one fragrant rose is unlike another. And many roses are having the fragrance bred out of them, either because of people’s allergies and oversensitvity, or because the scent is sacrificed for a more stunning visual beauty. Will there come a day when the scent of roses is just a memory? Can it even live on in essential oils if there are no more fragrant roses?

Florals aside, while we can look at Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s picture, Netherlandish Proverbs, and you can see a lot of what life might have been like in a Dutch village in the 1500s.

You can imagine sounds, because you know what a voice sounds like, what a goat sounds like, what a cacophony of noise sounds like, but what is missing is being able to imagine the rich aroma of the place and time.This was an era when people didn’t bathe often, lived in close quarters, kept animals on small parcels of property, and had no particular system for waste disposal of any kind. Of course, they didn’t have all the trash that we do now, but organic waste is just as smelly as any other kind of waste. And there was possibly a lot more organic waste than we have now – I have no idea what they did with dead animals.  Buried them, I hope. Or ate them, perhaps?  Times could be tough.

This one sense, which in each of us today, is so variable – some can smell things that others cannot – is the element of the past from which we are most disconnected. A curious thought.  Especially when scents can trigger such memories. When I open boxes that I packed up five years ago the day after my Mother died, her scent can waft out as if she’s by my shoulder. Perhaps she is.

When I was pregnant, I would have olfactory hallucinations – memories of smells from my past – primarily gardenias.  It was lovely.

But then Kelsea came up to me this morning and said, “Mom, smell my shoulder.”

I guess that sense of smell can be a mixed blessing.



Don’t you hate it when you see that you’ve written something down and you have no idea what it means? I have the word “coodle” written on a napkin in front of my computer. I don’t think “coodle” is an actual word. Though perhaps it should be.

Headline in The Denver Post today: “Melons Claim Another Victim”. Perhaps I’m overtired, and I truly do feel awful about anyone who has lost someone due to the serious melon health problem, but this headline struck me as funny. Killer melons on the rampage, roaming about in gangs. Something out of a B-movie.

There are rabbits living in my garage. I know this because I saw one squeeze under the super-tiny space between the door and the concrete last night. Now I am concerned that there are lots and lots and lots of rabbits living in my garage. When I open the doors in spring, will I be crushed by an avalanche of bunnies?

Roscoe is doing much better. I miss him now that ex-Pat is back taking care of him. And I’ll bet he misses me too.

Our wind gusts are supposed to get up to 120mph today. Those, ladies and gentlemen, are our chinooks. Hopefully, the warm temperatures that they bring will melt the remaining ice on my sidewalk, so the city doesn’t issue me a citation. But that’s a whole other rant.

This whelk sat on my Mother’s bookcase for many years. Now it sits on mine, reminding me of many things beautiful.

Quote of the day:  “We are all of us richer than we think we are.”  —  Michel de Montaigne

Daily gratitudes:
The arch of a goose’s neck
That Roscoe is improving
That Kelsea is so wise
Down pillows

This morning at the bus stop, I was bored and my toes were cold, so I amused myself by looking at the snowflakes falling on my outstretched hand. Which, incidentally, amused my fellow queuers, because they got to watch a woman smiling idiotically at her outstretched hand.

Amazing little things, snowflakes. That each one is unique boggles the imagination. Mine is boggling – is yours? Seriously, when you think about all the snowflakes EVER, how can this be possible? (Although according to our friend, Wikipedia, matching snow crystals were discovered in Wisconsin in 1988. How they found them, Wiki declines to tell us, but I know how resourceful those Wisconsinites can be. Or perhaps the fact that there’s a wonderful road house every 500 yards has something to do with this claim.) How can each snowflake form so perfectly and yet be so incredibly transient is also a boggler.  And a reflection of many other facets of our existence, if one were to choose to wax philosophical.

I think I’ve seen some remarkably similar, but perhaps “they” are right. (Are “they” always scientists? Is there a building somewhere where “they” go to work every day, and then use minions to spread “their” well-researched factoids until said factoids become common knowledge?)

In 1885, Wilson Alwyn Bentley began his endless quest for two identical snowflakes. He photographed thousands of them with a microscope, and he, along with others through history classified and categorized them, and shared their wide variety with us and the rest of history.

Do you remember how old you were when you first saw snow? When someone told you no two snowflakes were alike? Do you remember trying to find two that were? Do you remember folding white paper and snipping it, then unfolding it to make your own remarkable snowflake, designed at random?

I saw one today that reminded me of a sheriff’s badge. And according to Google, the largest snowflake ever was 15 inches in diameter, and was seen in Montana in 1887. As brief a life as snowflakes have, I am amazed that anyone could capture and record it. I mean, how did whoever know it was going to fall? How did they measure it? In the air? After it fell on the snow? Ane what are the odds of capturing it?  I’m sure there have been larger ones – just none that a human has ever caught.

I may be sounding quasi-eloquent on the amazingness of snowflakes, but those of you who read these pages often know that I am not a cold-weather girl, that I would sooner see sand than snow any day. But in the spirit of appreciating life as it is given, we must bloom or freeze where we are planted. For me, that’s here, now, among the snowflakes.


Does Calliope only play
when I am at windows that cannot open?
When the pane no longer separates

from the

changing emerald sea,
the edges of sunflower fields,
the misted outlines of blue hills,
does she go to earth
hidden beneath a rock of her own choosing,
cupping her words like tender orchid blossoms
in her secretive hands?


since it is me, does she
Curl in a chambered seashell,
her breathing being that delicate sound
one hears when
one puts
it to
one’s ear?

Can she not mingle her muse’s music
with my own enchantment?
must she save her songs
for times when
the windows to my soul are tear-streaked,
and even inner vistas rage with rain?

Yet now, she fools me, feeds me, as is her way.
Now, the words come
despite what I may say
about her silence.
It is of her innate nature, to play.

Photo for January 5, 2012: A Muse’s Hollow

Gilpin County, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.”  —  Rudyard Kipling

Daily gratitudes:
A day that felt like spring
The multitude of birds this morning
Horses on the sidewalk in downtown Denver
Folded laundry

I think Violent Doughnuts would be an awesome band name. 

Do you ever do that?  Hear something and think, “Wow, that would be a great band name!” 

It’s always something really strange.  On a road trip last year, Kelsea and I decided that “Moose Hallucinations” would be an awesome band name. I still think it would be. Only I can’t play an instrument, so it can’t be my band.

Any band name suggestions you’d like to share?

Mixed Company

The poet lies there
As the bright spangle of lightning
Illuminates the words she chewses
About rain sounding like
Bamboo wind chimes.

The homeowner lays wondering
if this will be the time to
tell about leaks
in her new-old roof
And how deep the water is
in the pig run outside her
bedroom window.

The mother lays awake
wondering if her daughter,
miles away,
is wakeful too,
and recalling another storm
where they cuddled together
as the bolts hit too close to home.

The child wishes it could go on forever,
loves it when the thunder rattles the windows
in their panes
And the sea
froths gray.

The abandoned lover remembers
of tropical rains and
being frightened once
by the thunder,
holding her love tight until
her fears passed
with the storm.

I try to sleep
But the bed
Is mighty crowded.

I love looking at other people’s photos. I am so often left feeling envious, amazed and enriched.

Envy: not a good thing. It can run the gamut of “I wish I had their equipment” to “I wish I could travel like they can” to “I wish I was more comfortable taking pictures of people”. (As an aside, I initially typed “I wish I was more comfortable shooting people” and that just never sounds right. It would be wonderful if we could come up with another term for taking pictures besides “shooting”).

Amazement: I am constantly fascinated by how other people see things. I have my own eye, and others who have spent time with me on photo-taking days (which, when on sabbatical, can be every second of every day, much to my companion’s irritation) have, in my humble opinion, learned how to see the world a little differently because of it – and have improved their own photography skills in the bargain. As a bonus, I have expanded my own eye from seeing the world through theirs as well. But everyone has a different eye, and there are so many photographers who see things in a way I don’t. Hence, amazement.

Enrichment: a well-taken photo – which can be composed or accidental – can stir unexpected emotions within you. It can make you feel happy, make you laugh. It can make you curious about the subject, the location. It can fire up a train of thought about something dimly associated with the image. It can stir memory. It can generate lust, longing, sorrow, a sense of the bittersweet. It can disturb. It can inspire peace. It can move you to tears.

I think the core of this trio of feelings is amazement; the enrichment and envy are always touched by a peeking sense of being amazed. You can look at someone’s vacation shots and be bored out of your mind, or be fascinated by the way they see the world. Maybe that’s what it is – people who love photography, who love to capture that moment to share with others, see the world with slightly more focus, more passion, more purity and clarity than folks who just snap shots to doument a trip. I’m not judging here, truly. Those snapshots have a perfect purpose. They are just not the same thing as images.

An image is a reflection of what you are seeing. Almost a mirror, but with the glass itself colored by your own vision. That miniscule injection of your own sight and soul. That’s what makes an image special, captivating, amazing. The transmission of the eye of the photographer, slightly conscious and completely selfless.

That’s why I keep looking at other photographers’ works.  And that’s why I keep shooting.

Aspen image taken by Kelsea in Steamboat Springs last weekend.

Words are the strongest tool in the world.  Amazing how such a seemingly mundane thing – language – can have the power to strengthen someone or bring them to their knees.

If you spoke to me in Russian, I wouldn’t have a clue what you were saying.  Say the same words in a language I understand, and they can bring me to tears or make my heart sing.

How much do we hear, really? Is it not just the words themselves? As someone joked in a meeting last week, “I don’t use letters.  I use words.”  Another attendee responded, “Jack, you do know that words are made up of letters, right?” 

Yes, words are made up of  letters.  Letters themselves have no power.  In fact words themselves are powerless.  Read a word in a dictionary and it is flat.  It is… just a word.  But hear it spoken from the lips of someone for whom you care, or whom you view in a position of power, its meaning is infinitely altered. (And historically has been the source of all trouble in the world.)  It is not just the tone, though that plays a part.  Which leads me to wonder if the power of words is as strong if one uses sign language.  It’s not just the context in which the words are spoken, the circumstances – no, it’s stil more than that. 

It is the soul behind the words.  Perhaps that’s what demarcates the difference between writers – how much of their own soul goes into the words upon a page.  How much of their own truth are they willing to own. 

How much are most people willing to look at their words and say,”I own that.  I speak my truth.  And now I’m brave enough to live it.” 

I am.  I don’t know a lot of truths about life anymore, but that I do know. When I say a thing, I mean it, heart and soul. I like that about me. I tend to hold the rest of the world to my own standards.  I don’t know if that is fair, but I suspect most of us do so regardless..  I can make excuses for other people until the cows come home.  (I know that about me too.)

Does that mean that I shouldn’t always believe what I am told?  When I believe words that resonate within my own heart, am I being naive?  Or am I having faith?  Those who believe the words of the Bible can look around them and recognize that the actions of the world don’t fit the words in the good Book.  Yet they still have faith in those words.  Why should it be any different for any other set of words in which we have invested faith?

Just a thing for Thursday contemplation….

December 2022


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