Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Writing, Writers, and Poets

The rains and wind have begun to destroy the lovely autumn leaves and the skies are rather dark. Hard not to think about winter's gray skies sneaking in again. I feel the winter writing urge begin to ignite like the tiny flame that starts  fire.                                                                              

I took a gander at Garrison Keillor's web site today and learned it was Dylan Thomas's birthday today. Thomas is a hard one for me to study. He interests me, I love to hear him read, but I often have trouble following both his speech and his written lines. I am just not astute enough to catch all his meanings. I do better when I lift a line or two and savor it like a individual Life Savor taken from the roll of candies. Who can forget his "Do not go gentle into that good night"? Keillor gives us two other great comments from Thomas that I include below.

 "My poetry is, or should be, useful to me for one reason: it is the record of my individual struggle from darkness towards some measure of light."

"Poetry is what makes me laugh or cry or yawn, what makes my toenails twinkle, what makes me want to do this or that or nothing."

Thomas is correct. What we as writers should do is write to find our own light, our own direction. Unfortunately, we get lost in the getting paid because we think money  is the stamp of acheivement, the goal, the mark of success. Then again, unfortunately, Wal-Mart does not accpet my own englightment in exchange for bread and eggs!!!

  One more great quote today comes from Jeanette Walls in her book, Half Broke Horses.

      "...a writer's got no overhead and he never has to worry about the weather."

She leaves me no excuse but to sit down and write!!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tea Cup Tuesday(34), October Ends

Please join Martha and Terry for Teacup Tuesday #34 at
October is such a wonderful month full of autumn blaze and comfortable temps. It is also my birthday month (pink birthstone) and a lot of pink things around for the month calling to mind breast cancer awareness. My sister picked up a few cups for me at garage sales thinking of cups on a stick. This pink one I think I will keep in the house for a while. The simplicity of this cup makes a regal statement; it calls to mind the 1950’s for me. However, I could be very wrong as I can not find the pattern name anywhere. Note the delicate pink swirl on the plate with a flute around that area of the saucer. This is a perfect cup for October.

My friends brought me the new green set for my birthday along with tablecloth, towels, and candle. Everything is in warm autumn tones of avocado, browns, rusts and pumpkins. It makes a great October statement!

One other cup for today is the Crown Ducall cup I picked up at the Goodwill store. I foolishly left others there and they were gone in a few hours when I called back for them. This cup is not colors I would normally choose, but it screamed BUY ME when I saw it. It is rich and very Victorian looking to me. I can not find this pattern name anywhere either.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I fancy garage sales and flea markets and antique stores. I love picking up dishes that women have lovingly served meals to their families on and pretty baubles that have been cherished by women before me. But an auction is a painful thing for me to attend. So often an auction occurs because a family has lost their home, or lost a job and is moving away, or there has been a death and the family home is being dismantled. I feel the pain of those folks with every bid. I hate seeing people paw over a family’s goods.

When we first moved to town here, we attended an auction at the edge of town. Nothing there I wanted but a box of white dishes. Oh, I wanted those dishes and begged hubby to bid more. I twisted and groaned, and fretted as only one other woman was bidding. The bidding wasn’t high unless you were newly married with no money. Finally we got that box of white dishes that became our family meal dishes for the next twenty years. The woman bidding came over to me that day and said she wanted the dishes, but when she noticed how badly I wanted them, she gave up bidding. I still run into this woman occasionally.

My next auction in town, I wanted a chair. I tried bidding on my own while DH was at work. When the chair went for $20, I stopped. Only when the chair was sold did I realize I had been bidding on EIGHT chairs and my bid would have been multiplied eight times! My knees shook with relief at the catastrophe I had nearly caused myself, and I have never felt good at an auction since then.

A year after my dad’s death, my mother and sister put together an auction his possessions. Watching Dad’s things, his tools, guns, and items that meant something to him go waltzing off in the hands of others was wrenching for me. Dad’s tools were kept shiny and orderly, spotless specimens although he used them hard. It was a dying all over again to know they would be gone. It was Father’s Day weekend, a bad day for a sale, and the heat was unbearable. So prices were low; I felt like we were giving Dad’s things away, such sadness. DH and I bought things just to keep from feeling like they had been tossed.

Today our neighbor is having an auction. She has gone to another state to live in assisted living near her daughter. There are a few things we want to bid on. So I did not sleep, tossing and turning, hating to see this sale of Jacqueline’s things and life, wanting not to screw up a bid either. Rain and hail are forecast, and while I hate the idea of her things being sold, I want them to sell fast and high for her sake.

I know that life is a coming and going, ebb and flow. I realize that life is full of changes, necessary ones. Call me weird, but seeing a person’s possessions sold to the highest bidder without his loving the items, knowing the history, or appreciating the family stories involved is just sorrowful to me.

Do you attend and enjoy auctions?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Autumn Poem

Autumn Hiatus

The cabin nestles into the mountainside,

Snug like a raisin in dough,

Porch jutting over vetch and yellow primroses.

Tumbling sounds of the nearby river

Are amplified in the morning air;

Enthused anglers snap lines across rocky banks

Challenging the early trout.

Fog hovers, beginning to burn away,

As promise of autumn heat rests on the valley floor,

I step out onto the porch bards, barefoot,

Feel the daybreak, see an Ozark dawn.

A squirrel scampers off redwood boards to oak limbs,

Scolding me for interrupting his solitude.

I sip black, earth-tasting tea from a warm mug,

Watching steam rise in benediction to the day.

From the corner of my eye,

I note running shoes waiting, silently calling me.

But I ignore the urging and wrap the morning

Around my shoulders like a warm shawl.

The day’s run will wait;

This autumn moment will not.

This poem originally published in an autumn issue of The Ozark Mountaineer.

******Just got some great news in the mailbox. Found a contract for a poem to TEA, a Magazine. Yeah, for me...can't wait to see it in print.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Autumn Moments

I have read enough blogs by people my age to know there is a lot of appreciation out there for the autumn season. I have always liked autumn because my birthday falls in October. As a young person, I loved football games, Halloween, penny loafers, candied apples, and hay rides on farm wagons snuggled under a blanket, hopefully with a sweetie. I was not unaware though that autumn also meant a dying away, a last hurrah before cold and dismal winters.

The town parade here is always the third Saturday in October because that is peak leaf color time. This year the color has been a bit odd. We have had plenty of moisture but no frost. The trees are changing colors, but the shades are different. Instead of outrageous oranges and raging reds, many of the trees are staying green longer or fading into shades of copper, rust, and a tarnished gold. They are still beautiful in their own way. A few stunners are using the brillant colors too, and they peek around the edges of the quieter hues of town trees. Isn't this tree a flaming shade?

My friends and I are trying to take moments to soak up the autumn colors and moods. It has been busy for all of us with trips, visiting children and grandchildren, aging parents, illness, and varied situations. Yesterday and again today my friends and I took an hour out of the day, drove through Sonic and then took our drinks to sit at Municipal Park ogling the trees dressed in their finest. Today, not a leaf stirred. Tomorrow rain comes and we fear the leaves will be beaten off limbs, that our days are numbered for the glories of this season.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mason Came to Maple Leaf

Our town has a week long Maple Leaf Festival. The week ends with a major parade and marching band competition on the third Saturday in October. Every year this turns out to be my birthday week. We have memories of taking toddlers to watch the parade, putting kids on cub scout floats, kids marching in band, boys riding the massive bucket trucks when they were on sports teams. The last year of my dad’s life, he was here for a parade he enjoyed more than all the rest he had seen over the years. He and I both had a sense things were coming to an end. I never had the heart to return to the parade after he was gone and the children were grown.

However, this year the oldest son wanted to bring his two year old home from Kentucky to see his first parade. A new baby is on the way and things were touch and go for a while, but the latest ultrasound showed improvement. So Mama stayed home to rest and Daddy flew Mason in to the Northwest Arkansas Airport where we picked them up. Quiet time was over then for a few days.

Who doesn’t love a parade? The brassy sounds of horns and beating drums, loud sirens, queen candidates, clowns, and this year too many politicians. But the weather was perfect. and we were thrilled to see the parade through Mason’s eyes. Three hours of cloudless skies and peppy marchers ended, and we came home to chili and hot dogs on a leaf strewn deck. A perfect day…a gift for Grammie.

How a child makes things fresh again! Even an ordinary yellow school bus looks like a golden chariot when reflected in an eager boy’s eyes. How sweet of our local school bus drivers that they tooted and waved every day Mason was here!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Two Sides to a Fence, On the Road, #3

The Deer Hunter Kachina, oil painting by C. Marcus Chino

I don’t often take political or religious stands here, and even now I am only going to post for thought. There were two “hot” issues that arose on the trip to New Mexico a few weeks ago. One popped up while we were crossing the Comanche Grasslands, an area of immense space that spread from horizon to horizon with almost nothing but grass. In the fall that grass was dry, wheat-colored spines waving in a gusty wind rolling across the plains. Farmhouses were few and far between, but we began to notice a lot of large hand lettered signs that said “Not 4 Sale”. Curiosity got the best of me; I inquired at a local gas mart for an explanation.

The clerk explained that the government wanted to buy up all the farms in that region so they could do military training there. The farmers wanted to make it clear that they were not selling, and they certainly were not selling the land for that use! While I too would hate to see what a military base and all that went with it would do to that pristine grassland, I realized that those training bases have to be somewhere. I take no sides here except to wish we lived in a world where NO military bases ever had to exist. I know, Pollyanna writes this blog.

I certainly understand both sides of the other issue I bumped into near Santa Fe, and that is the glorification and remembrance of Spanish conquistadors. While I know that Spain was a great force in changing the world, in extending Christianity, I appreciate how the natives suffered under those Spaniards who came to the New World. After all, for the Indians that were here, that had made a life they knew and loved, this wasn’t a NEW world, it was THEIR world.

Several years ago on a second trip to New Mexico, DH and I drove clear to Gallup before turning north towards Shiprock. This meant we were near the Acoma pueblo around Albuquerque. We drove out to the pueblo but did not go up. We found the area sparse and beautiful. On one high mesa where the wind was whipping furiously, a painter was trying to work. He also had a unique pottery that was gorgeous in blood red with a glossy finish. We began to visit with Marcus Chino, a native artist with a home in the Acoma pueblo and one in Santa Fe. At the time, he was politically active in fighting the statues being built in El Paso and Albuquerque dedicated to the memory of Onate, a Spaniard who brutalized the Acoma people, slaughtering them, bashing their babies, and cutting off one foot of the remaining men and boys. Chino said building a statue to their conqueror was like the Jewish people being made to honor a statue of Hitler.

For a time Marcus and I emailed. One night DH and I were watching a PBS special on the struggle against the Onate statues and saw Chino speak for his point of view. Then we lost track of him. On this trip, we left Santa Fe on a Saturday afternoon, driving north and making a stop at the Tesuque Pueblo flea market. While wandering around the booths, I caught sight of a familiar glossy red pottery and looked up to see Marcus Chino! Small world indeed. Still politically active against the glorification of Spaniards, he brought us up to date.

This year marks the 400 anniversary of Santa Fe. President Obama, the Mexican president, and the King of Spain were invited to celebrate. Only the King of Spain considered coming, and he sent a delegation first to check out the area. This delegation made an appearance at the Acoma Pueblo and Chino raised a ruckus. He complained loudly about the conquerors coming to celebrate their submission, to rub the noses of Acoma people in Spanish conquest again. After some real controversy, the King of Spain did not come.

Years ago, the mayor of El Paso assured me that the Spaniards had brought sheep, silversmithing, fruit trees, horses, Christianity and other blessings to the area. But I have to wonder if the price for these blessings wasn’t pretty expensive if you were an indigenous people living contentedly on a high mesa, going from one season to the next with simple pleasures at that time.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Are they pigeons? Doves?

Returning to our motel room from the Santa Fe square, I noticed a man squatting in a park looking like he was sticking flags in the ground. It was dusk and I wondered what the occasion was. The next morning when we walked to the Santa Fe farmer’s market in the Rail Yard, I saw it had not been flags but porcelain birds. These birds were beautiful artwork of Christy Hengst, and they were on quite a mission.

These birds wear screen printing from newspapers and pictures done in a cobalt blue. When Christy began to question the Iraq war, she began to question all wars and war-like behavior of humans. So she created these porcelain birds that fly in somewhere in early evening and are gone the next evening. People who stop to admire the birds might read and might begin to question things themselves. She hopes people will wander through the flock of birds and read them. She has screen printed the images on wet clay but the birds are sturdy.

The touring art project is known as “Birds in the Park”, and it has appeared in several U.S. locations and a few European ones as well.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday Centus #23, Love on the Road

This is Saturday Centus . The prompt must be used word for word somewhere in the story on not more than 100 words.The prompt is highlighted. For complete rules see:
Love on the Road

They were on vacation, crashed in a cheap motel. She had helped drive the day’s five hundred miles. Cramped into a small room, he had turned on the television and folded himself into the chenille spread while she made their tea. Just like home, he waited for service.

He seized the remote as if it were his by Divine Right. He aimed it at the screen like a powerful wizard’s finger. Sound lambasted the walls and her road-weary nerves. Babel of ballgames wove among newscasts and interrupted screeching dramas. Garbled racket assaulted her ears with no relief.

She fantasized, “If I had a hammer…”

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Need a Writing Prompt?

When I was teaching writing lab and even Language Arts, I always used writing prompts which helped the students jump start their writing. Recently I made up a list to help a fellow teacher still in the trenches trying to get kids to write. There are many writing books that have prompt lists to help writers see a new angle for writing.

Today I opened up Caryn Miriam Goldberg’s blog and found a list of writing prompts. (Goldberg is the present poet laureate of Kansas and you can read her blog at I found two unique writing prompts that I thought you might find interesting as well. See below.

Imagine your life as a river. Tell where you started, and share where you flowed, paused along the way, merged with others, found deep water, ran fast or slow, until you arrive at where you are now.

Write the story of your life as a garden. What’s planted there? What grows wild? Who works in the garden, and who plays and naps in it occasionally? Tell of what plants, animals and people live in or visit the garden. And write about how the garden is tended.

Pictures can also be prompts. What would you say about the yellow truck in yellow aspens above?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tea Cup Tuesday, An Assortment

I picked this cup up at a flea market for $3. The colors are pretty and delicate, but the scene is built around an antlered deer. I thought that a bit unsual.

A dear friend gave me the silver caddy. I thought it was a tea caddy, but it might be a biscuit jar. Either way, I have not been able to bring myself to dumping anything in there to spoil the insides. 

The vase is from my great-grandmother. She kept a pitcher collection. Her pitchers were of all sizes, all kinds of china and from many countries. This vase was among her pitchers.

The  delicate plate I picked up early on in my own collecting for $2. I just liked it!

 Although this is not tea related, I am including it in this assortment today because I am hoping someone can help me identify it in some way. It's history is as followes: When I was about ten years old, I saw my grandmother's best friend give her this glass jar for her birthday. Inside was a pair of gold hoop ear rings. The women were probably in their 50's at the time. (It as about 1960.) I remember hearing the woman say these items belonged to her mother and she brought them from France with her. My grandmother said they were too valuable to her family, and Rose said no, she wanted Gran to have them. I have always wanted to know more about this piece since it became mine and I am now old enough to apprecaite the gift is was.                                                                           

Monday, October 4, 2010


Lebanon Poets’ Society

5th Annual Poetry Contest

Deadline: Dec 3, 2010

Format: send two copies of each poem, include category and name of poem on both copies in left corner; on one copy include name and address in right corner.

Limits: poems should be 36 or fewer lines. Poets may enter as many poems as they wish in any category. Poems will not be returned. Poets retain the rights to their poems.

Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope.


1. Rhymed or blank verse, any subject

2. Free verse, any subject

3. Poet’s choice: any form, serious or humorous

Fees: $3.00 per poem. Make checks payable to Velvet Fackeldey.

Prizes: $25, $15, $10, and honorable mention in each category.

Mail entries to:

Nancy LaChance

14940 Hwy 64

Lebanon, MO. 65536



    CATEGORIES    

1. FREE VERSE POEMS Any Subject 40 lines/fewer

2. FORMAL STRUCTURED POEMS Any Subject 40 lines/fewer

Any classical form such as sonnet, triolet,

rhyming couplets, etc. Form must be named.

3. CONTEMPORARY FORM POETRY Poet’s Choice 40 lines/fewer

Modern form or theme poetry.

4. HUMOROUS POEMS Poet’s Choice 40 lines/fewer

5. HAIKU or SENRYU Haiku-Nature 5-7-5 syllables

Senryu-Man & Nature

6. P & F MEMBERS ONLY! Poet’s Choice 120 lines/fewer

7. STUDENT DIVISIONS: Division I Middle School (6-8)

Division II High School (9-12)

For more information on the Student Divisions: Contact Don DePriest at

$$$$ $$$$$ P R I Z E S $$$$ $$$$$




1. GENERAL: All poems must be unpublished, 40 lines or fewer (Categories 5 & 6 excepted). Poems should be typewritten and single-spaced. No poems will be published or returned. Poems that have previously won Poets and Friends Springfield, MO, Cash Prizes will be disqualified. Please check the judging guidelines on the reverse of this sheet.

2. NUMBER: Poets may enter a maximum of THREE poems in each Contest Category and all will be eligible for prizes.

3. DEADLINE: All entries must be postmarked by November 30, 2010. P&F will not be responsible for lost or misdirected or postage due entries.

4. FORMAT: Submit one copy of each poem with only the Category name and number in the upper left hand corner. For Categories 2 & 5, the poetic form (i.e., sonnet, triolet, rhyming couplets, haiku, senryu, etc.) MUST also be stated in upper left hand corner. Submit ONE cover sheet that lists ALL poems entered by category name, poem‟s title and first line. Also include the author‟s name, address, phone number and email on the cover sheet ONLY.

5. FEES: $1.00 per poem for categories 1-6. Make checks out to “Poets and Friends.” NO FEES in Student Categories.

6. SEND Annual Contest Entries and Fees to Send STUDENT Entries to

M J Becco, Contest Ch Don DePriest, Student Ch

3025 N East Ave 1241 W Vancouver

Springfield, MO 65803 Springfield, MO 65803

(No E-Mail submissions accepted.)

7.WINNERS will be announced at the December Poets and Friends Winter Celebration and Awards Ceremony in Springfield, MO. Send a SASE with your entries for the Contest Winners List, mailed the last week in December.

For more information, Contest: E-mail:  Call: (417) 818-5046 

Student Entries: Call: (417) 833-4839 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Northern New Mexico, On the Road #2

Autumn here in Missouri means oak, maple and sumac, but I found New Mexico’s autumn shades equally as lovely as my trees. The fall was appearing in shades of saffron, lemon, gold, and dashes of orange and umber. Cactus, cottonwood, and shimmering aspens were the scenery. Mile after mile we were in awe of the colors and growth in the high dessert areas.

New Mexico is also dotted by pink adobe chapels and churches, some 200 years old. When the Spaniards brought Christianity to the area, churches appeared everywhere. Some are glorious pieces of architecture like the cathedral near the Santa Fe square; others are simple mud-like walls with simple wooden benches and hand carved saints. On previous visits we had seen the chapel with the miraculous staircase, Santa Fe’s first little church, and the cathedral. We did revisit the St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral again, a fantastic piece of work done in French influenced architecture. Inside on a side altar sits a Madonna that was hand carried from Spain when the Spaniards first came to the area. She is adorned in rich garments and taken out to parade through the streets once a year.

On the high road to Taos we also stopped in to see the Santuario de Chimayo. This is a simple adobe church known for holy dirt that does miraculous healing. A cross was found in the dirt and a priest built a church next to that spot in 1856, and visitors may take some of the dirt from the holy spot where the cross was found. Inside the church, many people pray and light candles. There are Santos and painting that reek of age and smoky years.Autumn here means oak, maple and sumac, but I found New Mexico’s autumn shades equally as lovely as my trees. The fall was appearing in shades of saffron, lemon, gold, and dashes of orange and umber. Cactus, cottonwood, and shimmering aspens were the scenery. Mile after mile we were in awe of the colors and growth in the high desert areas.

 Near the border of Colorado in Questa another adobe church dedicated to St. Anthony was build it in the 1840’s. This one is also simple and small, but has no touristy qualities. This is the one I wanted to go inside, but it was boarded up for reconstruction. A local lady told me there was dissension in the people as some wanted it saved while others wanted it destroyed and replaced with a new building. Questa was a tiny berg, far away from artists, tourists, and condominiums. The area looked like folks there had a hard-scrabble life beating a living out of the dry, sandy earth. It was a simple place but an intriguing area. It was near the church that we found the most beautiful field of wild asters in a quiet valley. We lingered long looking at the natural loveliness.
 Not all the people in the area participate in or approve of the Christian influence, but that story if for another page.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Saturday Centus #22/Sour Puss Pumpkin

This is Saturday Centus . The prompt must be used word for word somewhere in the story on not more than 100 words.The prompt is highlighted. For complete rules see: This week is special. Jenny says use the one hundred words with the picture as the only prompt. See picture below.

Sour Puss Pumpkin

Peter Pumpkin had his pulp in a twist.

“Look at those supercilious squash. All lined up like a military band in a fall parade. They think they’re so perfect, sneering at us like we are seedy misfits.”

“Chill, Pete,” said Patti Pumpkin.

“Separated, we stand out in our field, show our firm shapes and sun-kissed orange skins. Besides, we’ll taste just as sweet in pie.”

“Not me! I‘m no pie pumpkin. I am scary jack-o-lantern all the way!”

Patti snorted, “Agreed.”

Then she added under her breath, “With your bitter disposition, you must taste like an overgrown sour persimmon.