Monday, June 28, 2010

Tea Cup Tuesday, #18

This week it is bathroom teacups! No, not everyone has a bathroom decorated with tea cups,  and no, I don’t brew or serve tea there. But the guest bathroom makes a nice place for some extra cups and saucers to rest.

This tea cup a friend found at her church rummage sale for me. It has a nice silver handle and very round, shallow bowl. It says Made in Japan.

The bottom cup was a new gift from one of my book club members. I was dealing with some difficult issues, and she brought tea and tea cup to remind me not to steep in my worries. It is a lovely shade of blue and with such beautiful birds. This sweet little bird sits nearby and seems to go with the cup.

This cup and saucer are marked Windsor Ware from Johnson Bros, Made in England. About ten years ago, DH was sent to Windsor, Canada to work for six months. He entertained himself on the weekends by taking drives or bike rides across the countryside. The Windsor area was beautiful, and I got to visit a couple of times. One Saturday he was driving around and saw an elderly woman having a small rummage sale on her lawn. He stopped and poked around. Although the cup did not look like something I would choose, she only wanted $2 for it, and he thought it interesting. I agreed when I saw it and have enjoyed having the touch of brown added to my cache.

In this same bathroom, there is one tea pot. This was a birthday gift from a group of friends. It is a lovely pot, so spring-like and holds a large quantity of tea. It is a little difficult to brew in unless each cup is poured through a strainer. It is best to brew the tea elsewhere and decant to this one for serving. I do not use it a lot for tea, but do enjoy its beauty.

Is Writing Dangerous to Your Health?

Do you ever think too much about writing, about your stories? Do you ever forget what you’re doing and become lost in your imaginary world? Are you ever driving a car and forget where you are going and that YOU are the one at the wheel? Is thinking about scenes while driving as dangerous as texting while driving?

I have to be careful and not read Jenny’s Saturday Centus until after I have been for groceries or made a dash to the farmer’s market. Because if I am not careful, I am pinching the rutabagas while looking for the right word to describe the moment of passionate embrace and moaning in vicarious pleasure while iother shoppers look on. Or I plan some murderous deed, gripping the van steering wheel in a death grip, and do not realize the bumper up ahead is just that-- a mere bumper and not a target to annihilate.

I remember reading that May Sarton often left a poem on her desk unfinished for months at a time while looking for the right word. Sometimes I wiggle sentences and juggle words in my poems too. I know the poem is almost stand alone but has some ragged edges yet. I realize that something needs to be honed a bit, sharpened like a kitchen knife that cuts a banana but won’t slice a tomato clean and precise. So I mull over words, sticking them in and taking them out, trying to find just the right one. It is like having a ring of keys in your hand and knowing one will fit the lock if you can just find it.

Teachers are multi-taskers and women are jugglers, always having several balls in the air at once. So I often tried doing household tasks between running trips to the computer. Put a load of laundry in, write a line; brown those chops, stick them in the oven, and return to writing a love scene; dash off two more paragraphs and then remake the bed with clean linens. It usually works well but can lead to disaster. I was writing one day when sounds of gunfire echoed through the house. I thought, “Oh, the dastardly criminals are loose again.” But wait a minute, there are no guns in my story! Bam, another pop and then I sniffed a sulfur smell. Eggs! I was boiling eggs!

I went to the kitchen to find the eggs had boiled dry of any water, gotten hotter and hotter with no attention, and were in the process of exploding all over my kitchen. Yes, I had set a timer, but its gentle ding was lost somewhere in the 1800’s as pioneer woman tried to parley with a Comanche for the safety of her daughter.

A cell phone can be put in my purse; a computer can be put in sleep mode. But my mind, what there is left of it, is hard to turn off. It races on all the time, getting nowhere really. So if you hear of a hit and run accident on your police scanner, it might be me tooling down the street thinking the fender I just hit was a log in river while I was padding for Lewis and Clark. Then again, I have been known to step off the curb in front of traffic while my head was in the clouds. Writing can be hazardous to my heath!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Saturday Centus #8

Want a way to practice writing scenes? Tightening lines? Come write with Jenny’s writing promt. Each linked essay must be 100 words or less, not including the "prompt" words. The prompt words can be used in any place within your story but must be left intact. To do Saturday Centus, use Jenny Matlock’s writing prompt found at

Prompt:“Did you notice Elizabeth in class this morning and how forlorn she seemed?"

Perhaps I will write her a comforting note, I thought.
Getting an Education
I studied her in the lecture hall. French roll pinned perfectly, eyes attentive to professor, the filigree E on her matching cardigan plummeting down to her pert breast points. But I knew her fingers meditating the single stand of pearls were remembering last night at the lake with animal-like frat boys.

“Did you notice Elizabeth in class this morning and how forlorn she seemed?"

Perhaps I will write her a comforting note, I thought. After all, no one needed an education like she got last night.

“Oh, probably just listening to old Dinmore on the Greeks. That’s enough to make anyone look pitiful,” I turned the topic while I watched Elizabeth amble across the oval, her books clutched close to her chest.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A June Tea Party

One thing that gave me a lot of pleasure was giving a tea party on my deck. My friends would come early in the morning and stay until nearly noon. We drank tea, tasted goodies, and yes even gossiped in the under the shade trees. In the winter I continued the tradition indoors, making changes from iced tea to hot tea, from frosty glasses to warm cups. At Christmas I traded in gift buying for gift giving by choosing to give my friends one evening with a meal they could come to and simply sit down at the table for the evening. I did it all because that was my gift---a true evening out away from families, dishes, and even having to take a dish. One year they found a collection of Mary Englebright tea pot ornaments and made a tea wreath for me. Everyone picked out a different ornament and wrote their name on the bottom. After twelve years, it begins to show signs of wear.

Eventually, as I went to work and children required more time too, they insisted on bringing something so we turned it into Christmas pot luck for just us gals. We always had a great time and it was something we all looked forward to during the holiday season. The year my dad died, I just did not have the heart to be as festive but the real issue was energy. Somehow the Christmas dinner went by the wayside, as it was a year I began working more hours too.

Our lives just got more complicated, making it harder and harder to arrange for our fun get togethers. Everyone has jobs or retired husbands to work around. Diets are now sugar free, cholesterol free, fat free, nut free, caffeine limited, or some restriction making food choices for a menu a challenge. Grown children need help or grandbabies need rocking. Cancer, heart attacks, death, aging parents and just plain old exhaustion add more complications to the mix. But despite all of the above and the horrible heat this year, I decided to have a tea party…well, a limited version of one. Due to the heat, I called for it to start an hour earlier than usual so we could end before the sun found us on the west side of the house. I limited the menu to simple cookies and tea only: no finger sandwiches, nuts, rolls, mints, chocolates, or decorated cut outs. We would concentrate on tea and talk.

And that is what we did this morning. Everyone truly enjoyed the tea party under the trees. We ate lavender, chocolate chip, and oatmeal cookies, carrot muffins, and spread fresly made plum jam on shortbread. It was a toss up which tea was the favorite between cinammon orange, ginger peach and a tropical of passionfruit and papaya. Such laughter and cackling floated through the neighborhood! The birds chirped, the water fountain tingled, ice rattled in the glasses, but no sound was more pleasant than the laughter of my friends. We talked, joked and remembered; we missed those who had moved away.

After a couple of hours or so, the heat increased and real world obligations pricked our minds. We lingered a bit in our good-byes, lamented having to end the party, and vowed to not let too much time pass before for we did it again soon.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nice Day in June

     A garden in St. friend's garden is a cool and green retreat in June.

A front came through last night and dropped today’s temperatures from 95 to 90; it has been some relief. Who would have thought 90 would feel cool? But it has been a summer kind of day I like with a delicious meal at home. Nothing is better than sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, green peppers, and cantaloupe, all grown locally. I like a dash of cottage cheese with my slicers; cucumbers are hardly ever better than when sliced with onions and marinated in vinegar brine heavily laced with salt and pepper!

The only dent in the day is the crowd of flies that lingers around our ankles and hover at the door waiting for a chance to come in and speckle walls and windows! They were bad yesterday, and I thought maybe the front moving through would take them along east. However, the pesky things are still here so it must have something to do with the humidity.

Today’s blog at Susan’s Blackberry Cottage ( shows some wonderful textiles and comments on a simpler way of living. It suited my mood just right today. Seems I am growing old, tending to remember the “olden days”. I know those days were far from perfect, but they made some nice memories. I remember days helping my mother by hanging over a hot ironing board pressing those textiles to starched perfection in the blow of an oscillating fan! No AC then! One thing we did not iron was bed sheets. My Granny always ironed those bed linens every week; boy, am I glad my Mom didn’t take up that tradition!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lots of Mish Mash

Summertime and the living is easy….well, it could be if it were cooler. This morning I was mowing again at 6:30 am. It was cooler then but still a steamy job. Our heat index at bedtime last night was 88. Too hot to mow then even if I wanted to mow with a flashlight! So it was a early work call this morning. DH washed and cleaned cars under the shade trees later before sitting down to cool off. Relative term since the air was hot anyway. This afternoon we escaped inside to air conditioning.

A few years ago my sister-in-law gave me these great work gloves, Atlas. They help while mowing and everything else. They are far from worn out, but I was distressed this morning to find wear showing up! The gloves are like the flowers... and the glove-wearer, distressed and worn!

Hens and chicks do well in hot and dry scenarios. They also make it through freezing cold winters. But suddenly three of my hens grew up and are flowering! I have never seen this. They must be 8 inches tall, enough they are leaning over now. The blooms are not pretty, look like little brown straw flowers in a bunch. All the rest have remained small and normal looking, but they are overshadowed by these monster growths!

Forty four years ago today DH and I had our first date. Wow, what a number! We went to see Mary Poppins, NOT his kind of movie, but that just shows how eager he was to please in those days. If only he were HALF that eager now to just pick up his own socks!

Oh my, what a mish mash of nothing this post is. Must be the heat; it fries all the good ideas!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tea Cup Tuesday # 17

Wow, weather remains hot, too hot for June. I like to ease into summer, but this year I was parachuted right into sticky humidity and breathtaking heat. The first few hours right after dawn are the productive times, and it is hard to decide what work, exercise or endeavor will the lucky winner of my time. This Cousin Sel plant is a tropical and loves the present weather. It is called Cousin Sel after my friend's relative named Sel who has been gone for over 30 years. The family and their friends continue keeping slips of the plant alive.

On page 12 of the newest Tea Time magazine some red and white polka dot cups are featured. I think they are charming because I saw them this spring at a local decorating shop in town. Although they don’t look like me for style or color, those polka dots just looked plain fun. When the owner of the shop called last week and asked me to use a credit with her store due to some business changes in her life, I knew what I wanted to carry home. I had worked for a few hours last winter and spring; while there, I hungered after the tea pot and cups even though I had no need for them. When I went in to the store, I chose a delightful mix of both polka dot trios and the companion mugs…just for fun!   

This art deco styled tea pot and metal cozy were a gift from friend Tracy a few years ago. She found it at a flea market and it is in excellent shape. I do not know the age. This style of tea pot was popular in the 20’s , 30’s, and again in the 60’s. Actually, you can buy new ones right now that look exactly the same. Having a metal tea cozy is unique to me, and it works very well at keeping tea warm.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday Centus #7

Want a way to practice writing scences? Tightening lines? Come write with Jenny’s writing promt. Each linked essay must be 100 words or less, not including the "prompt" words. The prompt words can be used in any place within your story but must be left intact. To do Saturday Centus, use Jenny Matlock’s writing prompt found at

Freed on Father's Day
It was Father’s Day, 1984, when I heard that voice in the hallway and knew the marriage was over. Later, my bawdy Dad and egotistic husband swilled beers near the grill like Marine buddies.

“Can’t get the little woman to cook on your special day?”

I steamed. Randall insisted on grilling. Besides, he wasn’t my father—or anyone’s father.

I wanted a baby; he didn’t. He wanted to remain star of the show. One could tell by the fiberglass boat, archery and hay bales in the backyard, an Olympic assortment of running shoes lined up in the closet, and the latest technology plugged into every outlet of the house.

Two men chortled; I planned escape!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Treasure Hunting in the Heat

Although last night DH had agreed we needed to get rolling and accomplish what we could before the heat set in, he slept late this morning. It was nice to have the deck alone for a while in the early hours, but the heat moved in steadily. Also there was a lot of breeze which is unusual this time of year when the air is so warm. Finally, I rousted DH out and said I was hitting the road; he hustled and joined me. A few errands in town and then over to Sam’s for a few bulk things. Since we were only about 15 minutes from the Oklahoma border, we decided to scout out flea markets in Miami. The wildflowers were beautiful due to heat and recent rains, but I could take no pictures as we were traveling the turnpike. Safety was a factor over picture snapping. Once in Miami, there weren’t many antique stores or flea markets. Loads of casinos if you wanted to gamble though! However, we scared up a place or two,and one was packed with glassware and china. It was a challenge to seek finds in the loaded shelves. When flea marketing, it is really the hunt that is as thrilling as bagging the dish!

I found some Blue Willow pieces worth the price. They weren’t extraordinary but all were made in pre-war Japan. One dish is like a soup bowl but is quite a bit more shallow. I have no idea what the original use was. Then we angled back across the border north of town, passing through Mickey Mantle country (now there is a name from the past!), and barely caught the corner of Kansas at Baxter Springs. A couple of nice flea markets there where one store clerk directed us to a flea market in a residential area. When we got there it was more of a thrift store; sales would benefit the Neutral Lands Cherokee, a non-federally sponsored group working to promote Cherokee culture and language, run classes for pottery making, and help people with a food pantry. Prices were certainly right here, but items were not what we were looking for today. However, I did eye this tea pot. I passed it three times and then decided the money would go to a worthy cause even though I didn’t “need” it. It is not valuable I am sure; the only mark on the bottom is USA. But it had a nice shape, looks old fashioned, and while it was filthy, it did clean up well. Even though it has no Native American designs, I think I will call it my Cherokee tea pot.

Tomorrow the temps are to be even higher than today. So maybe we will brew up pitchers of iced tea early and hunker down for reading some good books outside in the shade.

Salt and Pepper Together Again

Yesterday I got up at 6 am and started mowing the yard. The weather forecast was for nothing but hot, hot. I dreaded doing it so much I wanted to get it over with, and besides, I had company coming from Kansas City. So I pushed away those bed sheets and headed out to wrestle that mower. I was soaking wet like a sponge in a mop bucket when I was finished.

I made a carafe of cinnamon orange tea and pitcher of Tropical tea, pushed up the umbrella shade, and set out dishes on the deck. Tracy arrived right at lunch time so we set to eating, drinking, and talking. We talked until nearly 7:00 when she headed back to the city. We had missed a summer visit last year and Tracy made it happen this summer in celebration of her June birthday month.

It was the 80’s when she arrived in my neighborhood. With two boys about the same age as my boys and houses two doors apart, we found a lot in common. Besides rearing boys, we read the same books, held the same religious beliefs, appreciated poetry, and were politically attuned to one another. It was swimming lessons, movies, bike rides, baseball cards, and more with the boys that first summer and beyond. We both believed children needed discipline and respect for elders; we both knew our children weren’t perfect, but we aimed to make them as shiny bright as we could. We really worked hard as mothers.

Although we had a lot in common, we had differences too. She was built like a Pretzel rod and I was a Cheetos Cheese Puff. She grew up in the heart of Missouri; I grew up in the corner of Kansas. I liked jalapenos, and she liked food with less fire. I liked bounding out of bed at dawn; she liked to do her housework at midnight or later. We each had grown up with dad’s who loved to do Sunday drives, dragging their families aimlessly over miles of Midwestern highways. But it was the 1950’s and while my car knew no bounds, her car could only stop at certain places, Separate but Equal.

Once the kids were off to school in the fall, we walked and talked the mornings away. We noted the passing seasons, waved to old gents on front porches, petted snarly haired dogs out on short leashes with gray haired grannies. We walked the two miles to downtown where we might pay bills, shop a tad in the few stores left on the town square, and then settled in at the local deli for a diet drink and an arguing session with the deli owner. (He argued about everything. You just had to choose a side and he took the other!) Then it was another two miles home again.

We had been walking the streets for a few years before I learned the retired neighbor man had been calling us Salt and Pepper at the local coffee shop. Since we called ourselves Street Walkers, we saw the humor in his name too and were not offended. We were fixtures here for a decade until one day her husband’s company required a transfer. Devastated, we both adapted and dealt with the news as people do with life changes. We were not happy about it though. We managed to stay in touch as many folks don’t do now days, and both our lives are richer tapestries for the threads of friendship we have woven together over time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Remembering the Osage

"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward."
Soren Kierkegaard

This marker was placed on our court house lawn a few years ago to commemorate the “end” of the Osage Wars. Hum, not much of a war was involved. The Osage were located in the Ohio River Valley near Kentucky, pushed across the Mississippi, later driven to the western border of Missouri and finally landed in the southeastern corner of Kansas, out of Missouri’s hair. The Osage lived there a relatively short time before being pressed into Indian Territory that later would become Oklahoma. They were the only tribe to buy their own reservation and later made money of oil and mineral rights.

The Osage make an appearance in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie (near Independence, Kansas) when they were hungry and wanted some of Ma’s bread. What the book doesn’t say was that the Osage were there first with some gardens and homes before Pa and his friends “settled” that corner of Kansas.

Just north of my Kansas hometown, the Osage had lived on the banks of the Neosho River. The farm boys were always toting to class some arrow heads or chiseled stone from that era. How we all wished we could have lived there when this tall and mighty tribe of people lived on the land. The Osage were to cross my path another way when I dated a boy of Osage blood lines. He, his dad, and his brothers all had the statuesque build and dark hair of the Osage. He was athletic and quiet, a gentle memory now.

Our town was also about 10 miles away from the Osage Mission to the east. Fantastic history here. The Osage chief, who had been to St. Louis and knew the importance of white men’s education, begged for the black robes to come teach his people. So the Catholic priests came and settled there opening Osage Mission which was a church and school for teaching Osage boys in the 1840’s. Of course more white men followed them and shortly after the Civil War the Osage moved from Kansas to Indian Territory.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


A steady summer rain falls again this morning so it will be a day for lingering over the tea pot. Today my cups and pots are reminders of friends. This small pot and mini cups were found by a friend on trip in Indiana. They stopped at a yard sale where a man was selling his mother’s things. This Blue Willow (chocolate pot, I think) and a double set of cups were lumped in a box. My friend said she just had to bring it home to me.

This cup is very modern and sturdy, although not like a mug. Another friend who was living in Finland for a couple of years made a trip to Egypt. She wanted to bring me this cup and saucer so she hand carried it back to Finland and then hand carried it again to New York, on to St. Louis, before handing it to me in the Ozarks. I appreciated her effort so much. I rarely use this one because I consider it irreplaceable.

More friends and pots another day as I need to go do some tea sipping!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flag Day

Today is Flag Day, but rain came down most of the day so I couldn’t put out my flag. I was glad that I had mowed on Friday and changed the porch d├ęcor. At least my baskets have a flag and summer mood on this rainy day. Inside I did a touch of reds too. No, not everyone wants a pickup truck on their dining room table, but I enjoy things that are uniquely me. I had wanted this truck for a couple of years at a local decorating store, watched it go on sale, and still begged for a lower price as it was out of range at half price and then 60% off. The gal was a sweetie and said she would forgo the tax and I figured that was as low as it would go since she liked it herself.

The weekend was so quiet here with lots of reading on the deck under the shade trees. Plugging in this fountain DH rigged up and pouring numerous glasses of iced passion fruit tea were great when added to the company of a good book. I worked my way through fellow Writer Guild member Larry Wood’s history of the Civil War battles at Newtonia. I had no idea such large battles occurred in this area. I am well aware of the Battle of Carthage known as the first Civil War battle west of the Mississippi. I have traced the route of that battle a few times, and I know about Wilson’s Creek at Springfield, Missouri, along with nearby Pea Ridge over the Arkansas line. I have made a quick visit with kids in tow to the Pilot Knot battlefield and visited Lexington, Missouri, site of the hay bale battle. But I had no idea more than 10,000 men fought it out twice in Newtonia, a tiny Missouri berg. Larry does a great job reviewing all the Missouri war activities before he goes into detail about Newtonia. With the Civil War sesquicentennial coming up, you might like to check out this short, informative read.

So sprucing up for summer, mowing, reading, and some poems submitted were all done before the rain moved in for a day or two. More rain tonight and then maybe we will be in for some sunshine again after this damp Flag Day.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Marlin Perkins

Many Baby Boomers will remember Marlin Perkins of the television program of the 1960s called Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. He was a fixture on the show that was all about conserving and nurturing endangered species. Perkins was born here in Carthage, down the street so to speak, in 1905. He enrolled at University of Missouri, Columbia but dropped out to work with reptiles at the St. Louis zoo.

Perkins was always interested in animals of all kinds. One of the members of the Friends of the Library and her husband traveled with the Perkins and his wife in their retirement years. Dorothy couldn’t say enough about what nice people they were and how pleasurable the safaris in Africa were in Marlin’s company.

Later I was to meet Mr. Ralph Hunter when he returned home to the family home in his late years. Hunter had stories about Marlin Perkins too. They were childhood friends despite one being Black and the other White. Hunter recalled hiking out to Spring River with Perkins and catching toads, frogs, snakes, fish and anything that moved to be hauled back to town for study. Hot and exhausted, creatures hanging out their pockets, the boys wanted a cool drink at the drug store. It was a different time and Hunter was not allowed inside. He recalled that Perkins refused to stay inside if Ralph couldn’t, so he would buy them both bottles of pop and return to drink it on the street curb with his friend.

Perkins won four Emmys for his participation in the television program that was an early promoter of ecology. He retired from a second stint at the St. Louis Zoo in 1970, and he died in 1986.

Splendor in the Grass

Want a way to practice writing scences? Tightening lines? Come write with Jenny’s writing promt. Each linked essay must be 100 words or less, not including the "prompt" words. The prompt words can be used in any place within your story but must be left intact. To do Saturday Centus, use Jenny Matlock’s writing prompt found at

Splendor in the Grass
Maura loved mowing grass in the summer. The sun beat down on her perspiring skin, sweating out sugary Twinkie poisons; robins followed her mower waiting for worms near the earth’s topside, and the drone of the engine drowned out everything but thoughts she wanted to mull over in her head. Under today’s July sun, she was remembering her date with Roger and the passionate kisses stolen on the Country Club’s lawn near midnight. She smiled recalling the softness of freshly cut grass cushioning shoulder blades exposed by a pink sundress. It’s true the smell of mowed grass can stay with you for years, for decades.

90 words, excluding prompt and title

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dizzy from Blogs?

Do you ever get dizzy reading blogs? I mean one leads to another and then another. Then yet another blog name catches your eye, and you are far away from your original topic. I never meant to get so involved, but some days I begin to feel like Hansel and Gretel in the forest looking for bread crumbs to follow my way back to “home”. However, I must say I have met a lot of great and interesting people lately due to blogs. I am beginning to understand the true meaning of social networking and why it works.

On Jenny’s blog( I ran into writing prompts. I thought I didn’t have time for writing prompts. I have a basket full of my own idea waiting to be finished. But I started reading and seeing that they were fun. First thing you know, I was drawn in and trying my own hand at writing a short, one hundred word piece in answer to a prompt. I find the prompts stretch me into new areas, tease me into writing something I wouldn’t do otherwise, and introduce me to new writers with their unique responses to the same prompt.

It was not a challenge to follow a tea tip since I am “a drinker”, and when I did, I bumped right into Martha’s Tea Cup Tuesday ( she posts pictures of tea cups. Well, that lead me to so many tea cups, tea pots, and tea parties it is a wonder I ever pried myself away from my computer! I sent some links to a friend who is ecstatic to find out about this tea cup world too. She said she must read these pages slowly as she wants to savor every “drop” of each page.

Then there are the contests on blogs! I have won a nice mystery from Donna’s blog ( and good Christian fiction novel from Debra ( This week I signed up for a chance to win a Starbucks give card at Beth’s food blog. If you would like to take a chance on a Starbucks gift yourself, register at

Oh, it is late! I have cooked , shopped the farmer’s market, worked on a new poem, enjoyed a friend’s visit, had supper with my sister and family, and blogged today. I must get some sleep as tomorrow is a new day and there will brand new blogs to read!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fish Story

Want a way to practice writing scences? Tightening lines? Come write with Jenny’s writing promt. Each linked essay must be 100 words or less, not including the "prompt" words. The prompt words can be used in any place within your story but must be left intact. To do Saturday Centus, use Jenny Matlock’s writing prompt found at

When I  suggested a cool movie on a hot day, he said, “Ah Honey, I gotta get that boat in shape for the fishing tournament. But you go ahead.”

He thought I wouldn’t go alone. He thought I would stick around fanning myself in a lawn chair, waiting to go for a part or fetch a beer. But I fooled him, grabbed my purse, and left. I cranked the air to frigid, shoved in Pavarotti, and raced to the show.

I settled into the comfortable movie theater seat with awkward 3D glasses perched on my nose, a small tub of popcorn on my lap, and a bottle of water lodged into the seat holder while escaping with my imaginary lover on the screen—who knew nothing about bass and crappie.

97 words excluding prompt

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ramblings on Poetry

"Poetry is the coonnection to that time before time…It makes us remember what we were supposed to be. It makes us look at what we have become. The job of the poetry is akin to that of the shaman, to go out and bring back truth. To look ourselves in the face is the hardest thing."
Doris Seale in The Broken Flute

  Julie and Bob in North Carolina. She is one of my former walking pals. Miss her! But doesn't this lifestyle look like fodder for a good poem?                                                                                   

I took got up very early this morning so I could water all the flowers and tomatoes before the heat developed. Then I met my friend Bonnie at the Y track for a walk that was plenty warm enough already in the full sun. A quick trip to the farmer’s market and then home to relish my shady deck. There was enough breeze to keep it cool for a few more hours. I have to make a choice in weather like this. I can walk, bike, enjoy the deck, write, clean house, mow, or maybe bake. I can’t do it all though in the few hours before the Missouri inferno cranks up. This morning I chose to walk, ignore the grass, and let my mind wander over words and lines as I sipped cinnamon orange tea. The beauty of the morning was poetry itself.

When I was in school poetry was hard for me. The teachers all wanted students to count the beats, feel the rhythms. I never could count what it was supposed to be because I always “heard my own drummer”. Then I hated free verse because I never knew what they were talking about in the poems. At least with rhyming lines you could tell where the lines were “supposed” to end!

Now free verse seems to be the more popular form of poetry, and with age, I find I like it better. However, I will admit that there are still some works I read and gain nothing from because I am lost to what the poet is thinking. I can not see what he wants me to see. I have favorite modern poets like Ted Kooser, Mary Oliver, and Jane Kenyon.

I check Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac often at . Each day he posts a poem by a well-known or lesser known poet and adds commentary about birthdays and events concerning other writers. Keillor usually chooses poems so down to earth that you feel the poet is talking directly to you as in these lines from his choice for next Monday from David Ignatow’s poem “The Death of a Lawn Mower”.

It died in its sleep,

dreaming of grass,
its knives silent and still,
dreaming too, its handlebars
a stern, abbreviated cross tall weeds. …

You can listen to Keillor read the poems at this site as well, and it is always a joy to hear his readings.

I also have a Poem-A-Day delivered to my mailbox from I will confess to not enjoying some of their choices this spring. They seem too wild, too scattered for my tastes. However, there are still those ones that pop up every now and then to touch or move me reminding me why I subscribe.

I have been reading a lot of the new literary journals for poetry this spring. The River Styx , published in St. Louis for 35 years, is a quality publication. Their poetry contest just closed at the end of May with Maxine Kumin judging this year. It is a colorful and glossy publication that includes fiction along with poetry. For contests and submission info go to

Another favorite publication, new to me, is Poetry East. I have the Fall 2009 issue which is titled “Seasons”. I find myself carrying this magazine around with me for those moments I find myself waiting somewhere. Rather than let a minute go to waste, I turn to one of the lovely poems found here. Sponsored by DePaul University, the magazine has an open submission policy. For more information go to

Last year during Poetry Month, the then Poet Laureate of Kansas Denise Low ran a contest for poems relating to Kansas. She changed the topic every few days, and I entered  a poem in the topic Kansas towns. Denise made me a happy poet when she chose my poem to post on her blog. ( I reprint my poem here.


Eons ago, the earth here rumbled with the hooves of Black Dog’s tribe.
Later streets of a town thumped with wagon wheels,
Followed by pavement with humming tires on Main Street.
Now, the terrain calms again, sinking back,
As Kansas elements begin to reclaim its own once more.
The muddy Neosho meanders south of town
Like a dirty ribbon in an old woman’s hair,
But the bridge over it rusts, paint faded away.

The creamery sits silent, windows covered like a boxer’s swollen eyes,
And all the busy grocery stores have ceased to be.
Bank, video store, a lawyer’s office, and tavern
Still open doors for business with remaining neighbors.
Brick and metal churches yet dot the town like pats of butter
Dropped in a steaming vegetable dish.

The courthouse, once hectic, continues to transact
Tags and taxes, and stores the county history.
On the courthouse lawn, a cast iron kettle stands waiting
For summer, when fat back and beans cooking
Will draw folks back into town for a reunion.
Until then, I know what Dorothy learned at Oz,
That Kansas is home, where I belong.

Speaking of things Kansas, don’t forget the Solomon Valley Alliance Writing Contest where poetry is a category along with fiction, non-fiction, and essays. The contest does not close until November. No prize money but no entry fee either! For guidelines go to

Now that I am inside in the cool, I think a poem and maybe even a nap are in order!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pea Ridge, Arkansas

I was awake at 5:30 this morning, but waited until the alarm went off at 6 before facing the day. DH said, while punching the alarm we no longer hear often, “We might enjoy ourselves more if we stayed at home today.” I graciously agreed to do that, but he rolled out. He had loaded the bikes last night, and I had made the sandwiches. All we had to do was rise and shine!

We wanted to leave early due the expected heat coming for the day. We chose to cross the state line again and ride in Pea Ridge National Battlefield. It seemed like a good idea. While DH unloaded bikes and helmets, I got a map from the park office. All the National Park Service employees were at the desk since they were just starting the day. A tall man in his crisp greens showed me on the map that there was a hill on the route but it did come down. Funny, since when we got there it was an Arkansas Hill for sure! In Kansas this would have been called a mountain, and in fact, we later heard it referred to as Elkhorn Mountain in the park film.

We headed out and the first mile was gorgeous. Heavily wooded areas shaded the path, and we saw a young deer lope just ahead of us. The breeze was strong enough to sound like running water instead of soughing leaves overhead. This particular area was also part of the Cherokee Trail…my mind imagined sad relatives walking through these trees remembering the home they were removed from in North Carolina.

Soon the trees gave way to an expanse of prairie dotted by strategically placed cannons. The sun was hot but bearable…until the grade started. For nearly a mile we climbed gradually, pumping and switching gears. Then both of us had to dismount and push those bikes because the third mile was straight up, no relief. Another early morning biker, a perfectly built young woman about 25 and decorated in spandex, veered to the left and passed us like a gazelle. That added insult made the sweat stream from every pore! But we reached the top and found a nice shaded overlook where we had water and bananas and enjoyed the most perfect place.

A picture can’t capture the view.

Coming down was not a straight shot either. Lots of pumping and gear switching occurred (which I am NOT good at) before we came upon the Elkhorn Tavern. The building was in good shape for its age and was so peaceful it was hard to think of men dying in the front fields, of a family hiding in the basement as another row of cannons fired into the March air years ago. Another mile and we coasted in to the visitor’s center. The whole trail had been only seven miles, but it felt like seventy to me!

It seems that every Civil War battlefield has some claim as the first, the biggest, the most deadliest, or such. Pea Ridge claims this battle so long ago saved Missouri for the Union. I do know this battle was unique as it is only battle where Indian troops participated. Two regiments of Cherokees fought here for the Confederate side. We watched the film in the visitor’s center, got a drink, and noted the temperature was now about 86. We were glad to be off the bikes, and we decided to go out of our way to see the War Eagle Mill.

This was one of the first scenic places we found on treks around the area when we moved here. It is beautiful setting, and DH has such a love affair with working mills and their machinery. This mill is still grinding flour and corn meal. In fact, they have quite a store where you can buy many kinds of ground grains and flours. Upstairs they still have a small, old-fashioned eatery where beans and cornbread are standard fare on the menu. We bought some delicious homemade cookies made of heavy oats to go with our sandwiches and ate out lunch outside. We decided as we saw the thermometer reach 90 that we would head home. I am glad we did as we came home tired, sweaty, and sore…it was time to call it a day for these oldsters.