Monthly Archives: September 2014



Very rough draft…

The page pulls at me
As I work
And cook
And plan for tomorrow
I read a chapter in the business book or the biography
All the while the other page calls to me
I know that when I pick up the book
And settle in
Turning pages, skimming words
To find the place where I left off
My world will fade away
And I will be in
Another time
Another country
Another body, mind and soul
Another world entirely
With Magic or dragons or trolls
My skirts will be long
And my thought patterns change
I will be a rancher
Or a debutant
A politician or a teacher
A suffragette
Or a slave
The page calls to me
And I pick up the book
And I am gone


Maybe (or Gasrden’s Fall Ballet)


I mentioned previously that I am taking Maya Stein’s feral writing class right now. The approach is unique and different for me which is resulting in some notable (to me) differences in what I am writing. There’s a rhythm that keeps repeating, night after night, as I work on the day’s assignment. A word or short phrase followed by an expansion on that word. It makes for a distinct rhythm that I can recognize. The feedback that Maya gives each day is incredibly specific and constructed in such a way as to make you look at your writing and your process from a different perspective, asking questions, challenging more work in a certain area. What she doesn’t provide is a critique or guidance on certain poetry forms or mechanics.

It’s a very different experience for me and one that I feel stretching me.

The wind off the garden
Is chilly today
And damp
Fall is in the air.
Petals drop
Like tiny ballerinas spinning to the ground
And stick
Flattened by rain drops
Layers of fading color
Like a stained glass window
Muted in the early morning sun.
Maybe I’ll take a picture
Or try to capture the wet light in water color
Or write a poem
Or maybe,
I’ll just sit and watch the garden’s Fall ballet.


Jilly: Stories That Stand the Test of Time

Eight Ladies Writing

Universal Themes Universal Themes

Why do some stories continue to capture the public’s imagination for years, decades or even centuries?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently. It started with Outlander. We’ve been talking about the book and the Starz TV series in Kat’s posts here, on our private blog, and in a polite but robust email discussion this week about whether the plot is palatable to a modern audience. Somewhere in the mix, somebody (pretty sure it was Kay) said something like: I always wonder, why this book?

Then last Thursday I

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I am on day 5 of Maya Stein’s Quick and Dirty Poetry class.

What Maya defines as “feral writing” is a new approach for me. On her website she says “Do you remember those moments in childhood when you “ran wild,” the times you were encouraged to explore and engage with the world around you on your own terms?

Feral Writing taps into this same joy of spontaneity and discovery, seeking to explore the electric connections and currents of our hidden world, and to follow that journey with words. More than a traditional writing workshop, Feral Writing workshops offer participants the opportunity to let loose and take risks, while at the same time refining writing instincts, developing better editing skills, and developing a writing practice that sticks.”

One of today’s writing prompts was Blessing.

Grace be unto you, and peace…

We wake and leave our homes
Unafraid, for the most part
Eating the ripe peach
At lunch time, forgetting to wash it
Or not caring, not worried
We sigh
At the grocery bill
As we fill the pantry to overflowing
Hunger, to us
Is running late to dinner
Or skipping lunch because we are busy
We have never felt the hunger
Of not knowing where our next meal will come from
Or not remembering when we had our last
We don’t know the fear
Of our own government
Or the filth of not having clean water.
Sweaty after planting flowers in the garden
We duck our heads under the hose
Never doubting the plentiful, cool, clean water
That will gush forth
Life giving
Security providing

I am making an effort to recognize my blessings.

Paint Chip Poets

Take a moment to check out Maya Stein’s Paint Chip Poets on Facebook. The poems are brief, only what will fit on the face of a paint chip you can pick up at any home improvement store, and charming.

Some are funny (like Amy Tingle’s Red Hot), some are sweet or whimsical, and some will take your breath away.


Mom, Mom, Mommy, Momma

or the Evolution of My Identity as a Daughter and Mother
Teri with InfantWhen I was young my mother was always “Mommy”. That’s also what I heard my mother call her own mom. Once I hit the teen years calling my mother “Mommy” where people could hear made me uncomfortable. I started talking about my Mom, but at home, she was still Mommy. Over the years, though, I gradually started both referring to her as and calling her “Mom”.

I became Mommy. My own children called me Mommy (although when writing Cassie tended to use Mommie) and my own mother gradually became Grandma, even to me. As my children grew they started calling me Mommy less and less, repeating that pattern, and I became Mom, or Mama.Mommy/Grandma Painted in Waterlogue

In recent years I have noticed I refer to my mother as “my Mom”, but I call her Mommy much more again. It’s who she is, and for me it holds much more weight in terms of affection and history and meaning than Mom ever can. Mom is a bit reserved and a bit distant and maybe more of a public persona than Mommy, for me. I needed my mother to be Mom, with that implied distance, as I was learning to be my own person, my own adult with a family and home and traditions all my own.

I don’t have any grandchildren, but I have noticed that I am sliding back into being Mommy for my kids as well. I think it comes as a byproduct of their growing confidence in themselves as adults. They are less concerned with being cool (because they just are cool!) and more focused on relationships and family ties.

So my mother has evolved from Mommy to Mom to Grandma to Mommy and I am moving through those same, if slightly altered, evolutionary steps. I don’t have any need for distance anymore and I am enjoying this second time around with my mommy, whom I greatly admire and love to spend time with. I only hope I have enough of her in me to complete the cycle with my own kids.

What do you call your mother?  Has it changed over time?

The Flavor of Childhood Summers

For me scenttuna chowder can evoke a memory better than any other sense. A bit of salt and sea in the air and I am transported to my childhood home. A certain mixture of lemon Pledge, Downy and warmth brings my mother’s face instantly to mind. Jessica McClintock perfume does both – it brings both the beach and my mother to me.

But there’s a reason why we talk about “comfort food” not “comfort smells”. With food we get both scent and sustenance. When we eat our special foods we can relive the warm feelings of the experiences that made a certain dish comfort food for us.

Summertime, and the living is easy….
I spent most of my summers with my paternal grandparents in the Bay Area. Like many kids of my generation I had two parents with vital careers which made staying home for summer vacation complicated. My grandmother cared for me and my cousins during the long, hot California summer through the seventies and into the eighties. The flavor of summer when I was young was frozen grape juice-bars, home-made lemon yogurt, poached-eggs-on-toast-with-cheese, and tater-tot casserole. I celebrated a lot of birthdays with my grandparents being an August baby.

When I got a little older and my sister and I could stay home for the summer the flavors were of pancakes with Karo syrup (shudder!), Kraft macaroni and cheese and McDonald’s chicken McNuggets. But in those teen-aged summers I was also home for my birthday.

The birthday dinner I asked for year after year was my maternal Grandmother’s Tuna Chowder. A hearty soup, but a relatively light dinner in the hottest month of the year. It’s a wonderfully easy and quick recipe and served with a green salad and some home-made bread (or my mom’s green onion and jack cheese biscuits) it tastes just like summer to me.

Grandma Hazel’s Tuna Chowdertuna chowder
2 Tbs butter
¼ C chopped celery
1 C chopped onions
1 C diced potato
8 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 ¼ tsp coarse salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1/3 tsp thyme
¼ tsp dill
2Tbsp flour
3 C milk
1 large flat can tuna in water, drained
2 Tbsp parsley
1 C grated Monterrey Jack cheese

Combine the butter, celery, onion and potato in a large, heavy stock pan or Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat about 15 minutes, until potato is softening. Stir in salt, pepper, thyme, dill and flour. Cook, stirring constantly about 5 minutes until the flour is slightly browned. Add tomatoes, milk, tuna and parsley. Heat, stirring, until soup is thickened and boils. Stir in cheese and serve.

Be careful after adding the thickening as it can scorch.

Enjoy! (and share your summer favorites!)