sharing a poetic LIFELINE with the world

Author Archive

A Purse Full of Poems

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Julia Cameron — author of The Artist’s Way, and other books about finding your way in this world — was right.  Among her brilliant yet often simple ideas, she stated that sometimes “mending” clothes can mend the mind.

The context was about letting go of whatever is driving you nuts, and engage in activity that can free your synapses to help resolve the issue. A variation on great ideas that occur in the shower.

 

 

(Did you know that someone’s invented a water- and steam-proof board and pen so you can capture your priceless mind mutterings without trailing water all over the house? . . . and as soon as I can remember to look for one when I’m not in the shower, I intend to buy one.)

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mirror knows my face / shadows who’s inside / beckons me to live

The Poetic Muselings made a pact early last summer to NOT write, take on any new projects, work on our backload, etc.

In other words, we decided to do what we’d been doing (not much), but do it without guilt or nagging. Just let life be what it was for the duration.

By letting go of the struggle, we hoped to enjoy the time and see what it felt like to dump the pressure. It worked: we were eager to “do something!” shortly after.

 

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time smothers and numbs / we forget our fragile truth / pain, horror, and tears

 

I’m a belt-and-suspenders person, frantically trying to be prepared for almost any catastrophe. Usually I worry about the wrong thing.

One of my “medical advisors” told me that unless I stopped lugging my heavy purse, we’d continue to patch my shoulder pain, but not resolve it. At a bunch of dollars (not covered by Medicare), it worried me, but made sense to try something different.

I went to exercise classes several times a week, ate somewhat better, tried to get more sleep, and read light mysteries. I did some small decluttering bits, and knew I needed to deal with my lug-everything purse NOW.

I spent an entire day
trying to figure out
exactly what I need with me,
what can stay in the car, and
what needs to simply be tossed or left behind.
The whole day!

img_2687I tried out several purses I have, including an impulse buy in July, and came back to one I’ve had for at least a dozen years.

It’s small, has a lot of organizing sections that can be moved around (a Freedom Bag, which is temporarily closed for business while they relocate).

I keep going away from this purse because it’s black inside and out, and hard to see and find things.

 

Once I knew what to carry, on a whim I took out some metallic markers, and started writing haiku on the organizers and anything else black. After my very low output number of months, I wrote eight poems, right in a row.

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haiku seeps thru me / longs to flow onto paper / and flow further still

Yes, sometimes “mending” other bits of life can mend the mind.

Michele

 

 

 

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Holiday Wishes from the Poetic Muselings

icicles

in December . . .

we lived in the arms
of the most spectacular
ice storm
I’ve ever seen

overwhelming beauty
in the midst of devastation

 

 

 

downed-tree

— obstacle course of
downed trees and lines

invisible log-middles
hauled away, heads and feet
left to bookend the road

— scream of branches wrenched,
ripped from the mother trunk,
visible scars that won’t heal

an image from tree-2
a lifetime ago

Dr. Zhivago
and Lara
in the Ice Palace

surreal, breathtaking,
achingly
exquisite mist
protected them briefly

A tiny taste
whisper
scent
surrounded us
for a week

 

And now,
we have power
again
more power
than we knew

let-there-be-lights

May the lights of the season
fill us with gratitude

show the way
to a peaceful
fulfilling
and happy new year

Michele

 

2016 NaNoWriMo and PAD Challenge Month

NaNoWriMo &
Poetic Asides November 2016 
PAD (Poem A Day) Challenge

Time to gear up, stock up on extra Halloween candy, charge all your batteries, and get some sleep while you can.  It’s Lose Your Mind Month for writers and poets.

We have several post here about NaNo and the PAD Challenges we’ve done as a group, as well as individually.

National Novel Writing Month
(NaNoWriMo)

Write a completely NEW 50,000 word novel from scratch between Nov. 1 – 30, and load a gibberish version on the site for word count at the end. If you are a REBEL (me), you can engage in variations on the theme.

This year, I have two projects:

  1. my hubby and I are co-creating a shorter novel (novella length, maybe). His ideas and story design, with me making it into something cool, doing all the writing.
  2. Editing, fleshing out, and completely revamping a NaNo I wrote in 2008. The idea is to see if I can create a novel in verse, or at least extensively in verse.

Poetic Asides November 2016 
PAD (Poem A Day) Challenge

The Poetic Muselings are going to tackle the PAD Challenge again at Poetic Asides. Our goal is to gather our collected poems from the past few PADs, pick a dozen or so prompts we’ve all done, and come up with another book — with four versions of each prompt we select. Maybe more poems will be added, but we’re aiming to embrace our eclectically creative take on specific prompts.

Anne is posting her poems on her site, so check them out there:
http://anneisstaringatthesun.blogspot.com/

If the rest of us decide to use our own sites as well, I’ll add the links here.

Stay tuned for updates during November and after.

 

Michele

On Friendship, Loss, and Love

Harlee - Marit 3

_______________________________________

 To Friendship

An unraveling thread
suspends my heart
in the Universe.

One push can crush it,
one word
destroy it.

One or two at a time
hands appear
and hold me,

each touch leaves
its fingerprints
of compassion.

Surrounding my life
comes the vibration
of voices,

within each note
a rhythm
of healing whispers.

A patchwork quilt
of love
covers my soul.

Each square
a hand or voice
that shares its spirit.

They protect
and cradle
my aching memories

of joy and gratitude
and do not
let me fall.

mg, April 2016

_______________________________________

Less than two months ago, I had to make one of those heart-wrenching decisions, one that truly has only a single option that is fair, humane, respects quality of life, and is a gift when a kindred soul is suffering.

Almost eight years ago, we adopted Harlee, an amazing almost-three-year-old Standard Poodle. We were her third permanent home. While we knew almost nothing about her history, she told us her story over the years. We saw how she reacted to sounds and movements, people, and — especially — other dogs.

With our love and support, she learned to trust us, and realize that she was finally safe. At times when she didn’t get the attention she needed, she was able to communicate her fear that she was going to be abandoned again.

Those times became fewer and further apart because she learned to not be afraid to let us know she was worried. At first, she tried to hide her aging issues, and it took a while to realize why she was reluctant to run down the stairs to go for a walk.

A leap of trust and faith was when she let us in on her problem. She couldn’t get into the car, and allowed us help her with a boost, and later, by finally agreeing to use “stairs” we got for her to walk up into it.

An easy jump onto our bed morphed to a running start to make it, then a boost of her back end, and, near the end, letting us pick her up and get her situated.

When she could no longer support herself to maintain her dignity when outside, she let me know she was ready to let go. We were very fortunate to have a wonderful veterinary clinic that had treated her throughout her time with us. They loved her, and she adored them, regardless of what she had done.

At the end, they were there for and with us, truly surrounded us with love and compassion, tears and shared sorrow. We received a sympathy card after, with notes from each of the staff. We will never forget the care and kindness of Dr. Sheila Johnson and her staff at Animal Health Associates.

Another major part of Harlee’s life was spend in grooming, which, like all dogs that have hair instead of fur, needs attention. At least monthly, she was excited to spend time with her friends there. I called it her Poodle Parlor spa day.

The picture of Harlee above was taken by Marit Vike, owner of Send Rover Over, last fall. I played with the background, wanting to feel her float in the clouds, but Marit captured her inquisitive look beautifully.

Perhaps people who don’t have pets, or never had the chance or courage to form the bond, don’t understand what I’m writing about. I knew walking into the relationship that I’d have to say goodbye to Harlee long before I was ready to do it.

I knew my heart would break. Part of the life cycle — the part I rage against and never want to accept. I’d been through this before, with Madame Wa, our other Standard Poodle we’d raised from a pup, nursed through all kinds of maladies, traveled thousands of miles with after we retired. She was almost fifteen when we had to let her go in peace.

I learned so much from these two friends, companions, kindred spirits; they looked out for me as much as I did for them. I experienced what unconditional love means and feels like. My life is empty from loss, but full with memories, and support.

This poem is my thank you to my human friends who have been there for me, including my family. I love and cherish you. it’s also a reminder to myself to work hard to be in the present, where life is happening with each breath.

Never Forget Your Dreams, Revisited

The Poetic Muselings are traveling with famous company!

Tripping around the internet universe recently, I was startled and giddy to discover MY post about Scanner Daybooks (Journals) (and some shots from Anne Westlund’s, in her follow-on post, and some of Mary’s) had made it into Barbara Sher’s Refuse to Choose collection!

My original post was in 2012, but I’ve written and shouted about Barbara, her books, forum, and classes for many years.  I met Barbara in the early ’80’s and took a WishCraft Class from her through the Learning Annex in San Francisco. A most marvelous adventure.

Read my slightly updated post to see what I’m talking about — I think you’ll have fun. Then, follow the links at the end to see other examples of capturing the elusive creativity of never forgetting your dreams.

 

Several years ago, I found Refuse to Choose, by Barbara Sher, author of WishCraft and other amazing books. This one was directed at “scanners”- those of us who have so many projects and so many ideas that we can’t figure out what to do first and often end up paralyzed into inaction. I come back to this book repeatedly for inspiration and validation that I’m not really crazy.

A major tool in this book is a “Scanner Journal“, a place to track all of the wild things that go on in my head and that I really really want to do, or at least explore a bit. I’m sharing excerpts of my journal in this post. This photo, from my favorite T-Shirt, sums it up, and is on the cover of mine.

I’ve been fascinated for years by the Chief Crazy Horse Memorial project, near Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. The carving of the mountain has been going on for over 50 years, with no federal or public funds involved. We’ve been there twice and I carry around a piece of mountain* to remind myself to never forget my dreams. (The project and my connection are a story for another time and place.)

I wrote my earlier post while recuperating from hand surgery and limited to typing with one finger on my left hand, and struggled to communicate with my Dragon voice recognition program.  Way out of my comfort zone.  I usually handwrite my poetry and notes for articles, novel ideas and whatever else is kicking around in my head. I wasn’t used to writing aloud, but hoped it would  create interesting new synaptic brain links. (Not a huge success for poetry, for me.)

Mary’s post about the Bliss Box (and here) really started me thinking about all those ideas I’d shelved during the prior year and half since my car accident and assorted other distractions. Several items in the opening shot of this post live conceptually in my Bliss Box, which once held tea; I bought it because I wanted the box, and gave away most of the contents.

Scanners are not only permitted but actually encouraged to follow their wild tangents, capturing them in a semi-organized fashion in their Scanner Journal. Here’s a sample page, plus perhaps the wisest statements I ever came up with and which is posted all over my house:

I looked through my Scanner Journal to see how my dreams were faring –  what I’d forgotten or at least misplaced, who were still nagging me (yes, they are real life critters to me), and the ones that danced with joy because they were getting attention.

I was surprised:

Our poetry anthology was out there in the universe. We adopted a wonderful dog. My office and workspace are even better than I imagined when I created them in my head. I began practicing tai chi on a fairly regular basis and participated on stage with my class in a martial arts program.

NaNo novel I pitched was well received at a writers conference before my car accident, etc., pulled me away. Perhaps this was the most fragile of my projects: a cross between Catch 22 and Terms of Endearment, which an important person wanted to see. I hadn’t — and still haven’t — done anything with it.

But it was all the poetry that clamored to be put on paper with purple fountain pen ink that shouted the loudest. My answer to dealing with all of those critters who must  be fed is what I called my Red Bag of Courage:  a large zipped binder with sections for portions of several projects. Sometimes you’ve just gotta hand-write a note instead of typing onto the iPad. After I could carry it . . it was going to include new poetry I’d written, blog ideas, etc. I was inspired again.

If you look back at the opening photo here’s where you’ll find:

~Ganesch, to keep me on track. When I’m following my right path, Ganesch removes obstacles in my way. When I’m not heading where I should, he throws boulders and icky things on the road to get my attention.

~A monkey I need to watch diligently to keep off my back.

~A slinky to remind me there are many ways of getting from Point A to Point B, and to have fun while I’m doing it.

~My rock from of the Chief Crazy Horse Memorial. Korczak gave this answer to the question of how one goes about carving an image out of a mountain: “Study and observe, then remove what is not the horse.” (* from above: people can buy chunks of not-horse, with the money going to continued work on the monument.)

~A zebra, because I think zebras are cool, and I like to color them brightly when I have the chance.

~The open book and everything on it are all reverse images created in Picasa when I was playing around today. That’s why the paper is black, and the monkey is white.

Sometimes I just have to create my own reality. Enjoy creating yours.

NOW FOR SOME COOL LINKS:

Barbara Sher’s official site:  Barbara Sher’s Official Site ( http://www.barbarasher.com)

Refuse to Choose! and other Barbara-Sher books: (http://www.amazon.com/Barbara-Sher/e/B000APWZC6/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1457739259&sr=1-1)

Barbara’s “Refuse to Choose: the Forum for Scanners: (http://boards.barbarasher.com/viewforum.php?f=30)

A google search for examples gave me this, including our contributions. Note that some have “road writer.net” as location; these were temporarily housed at my other site when we had major blog gremlins. I don’t know how to correct the link within the Daybook Tangents site.:

daybook tangents barbara sher —

 800 × 555 – poetic-muselings.net 

 800 × 477 – poetic-muselings.net 

 1024 × 768 – poetic-muselings.net 

 2448 × 3264 – poetic-muselings.net 

 800 × 745 – roadwriter.net 

 800 × 600 – roadwriter.net 

 825 × 891 – roadwriter.net 

 655 × 800 – roadwriter.net 

 401 × 449 – poetic-muselings.net 

 714 × 800 – roadwriter.net 

 300 × 226 – poetic-muselings.net 

 

 

 

WHO IS DAVID SEAH, AND WHY IS HE HERE?

A version of this post was published in April, 2015, before the gremlins devoured and destroyed portions of our blog. After you read this, go spend time exploring davidseah.com.  Lots of time. Read other interviews he’s done — no two cover the same territory.
Then, come back here later for Parts 2 and 3 for more.  Michele

Meet Dave, a talented, whimsical storyteller who uses computer technology to bring his stories and creations to life. His serious side is always looking for a better way to organize, systematize, code, and simplify tasks —  these products are spare, beautifully balanced, color coordinated, and do their job well.

Then there’s his other side that loves to explore and tweak options, express how he (and we) feel about life. These creations led me to contact Dave. His very generous sharing of time and ideas fill this post, plus two more to follow.

We exchanged over 6,000 words! How to distill his wisdom, humor, eclectic personality, deeply held and expressed views, took a while. Plan time to go get lost in his website. Discover how he works, what he’s created and shared with the universe.  

But first, enjoy Part 1 of the David Seah saga:

 

Just who is Dave Seah?

I don’t really have a succinct answer for that!

Factwise, I’m a 48-yo Taiwanese-American living in New Hampshire about 40 miles north of Boston. It’s a suburban area without good Chinese restaurants, which makes me sad.

Mostly I work as a freelance interactive developer, though I am trying to transition away from that into making products based on my own design work.

I gather that you were always interested in technical issues, trying to figure out how things work, and how to make them work better.

That’s a valid observation, though I think that I’m more interested in “human issues” that have technical aspects that I can solve.

I find technology for the sake of technology pretty boring. The application of technology, though, in the pursuit of “something better” or “something MORE AWESOME” is hugely interesting to me. It’s about empowering and enabling, and sometimes I’m able to muster the ability to work through the technical issues.

Figuring out how things work is an exercise in understanding how to make some aspect of life better. That said, I like digging into the technology and the principles behind it to find the uncommon and non-obvious effects they have, and thinking of ways that they might be useful or perhaps amusing.

What experiments are you most proud of creating/adapting in your growing up days?

I wasn’t a particularly experimental kid, but I did discover computers when I was in the 7th grade, around 1980-1981.

A lot of my formative beliefs about information sharing and team come from that time of learning in a group of three of us, and I spent a lot of time learning the innards of the Apple II computer.

I would say I learned the bulk of my computer knowledge, or perhaps gained the mindset for using computers, before I went to college for computer engineering.

In high school, I was probably most pleased with winning a school bridge building competition with an interesting load-bearing design that no one else had thought of by a 2:1 margin, or 10:1 if you didn’t include the student who cheated.

I also enjoyed writing, and was in-fact thinking of becoming an English major instead of a computer engineering major. I figured I could always write, but would learn more in computer engineering that I didn’t know, to the chagrin of my English teachers.

 Did you write much as a kid? What were your first doodles and writings about?

Yep! I had a mysterious grasp of essay writing at an early age, which I didn’t realize for years. I would just write-out what I was thinking and present it in an order that made sense, each paragraph building on the previous one. I enjoyed using WordStar, the seminal early word processing program, because I could type as fast as I could think

My first memory of a story was for I think was the 7th grade, when I had stayed up late writing an assignment at the last minute (hand-written, as this predates word processor use in my house).

I had put the names of my friends in the class in the story, which was loosely a Star Wars-inspired story, and the teacher reading it aloud made for a lot of interesting reactions from my classmates. I also spent a lot of time drawing spaceships with my friends (this was the late 70s/early 80s after all), which I started in the 4th grade.

I still have all the drawings too! Generally I didn’t write except for class after the 8th grade, but I think what really drew me was making up worlds…that’s what video games were to me, in the early days of that art form.

I grew up as an Army Brat, and experience feeling a “stranger in a strange land”.  You said on your blog that you spent your first years in MA, then moved to Taiwan for another chunk of your youth. How did that affect you?

I was born in New Jersey, where my dad was the minister for the First Presbyterian Church of Monmouth County. This was a rural area, mostly farms, and we were the only Asian family anyone had ever seen in the area.

I don’t speak Taiwanese or Chinese because when I was in pre-school, apparently I was speaking a mixture of Taiwanese and English and the teachers thought I had brain damage or a developmental disorder, so my mom started speaking to me only in English and I lost the language.

At the time, my parents didn’t think they would be returning to Taiwan because of the government (they were blacklisted as human rights activists by the KMT, the losers of the Chinese Civil War in 1949). In 1976 or 1977 our family moved to Taiwan when I was 9.

The result: massive culture shock. It was already easy to feel slightly out-of-place as the only Asian kid where I lived, but at least there was TV and I could read and understand what people were saying. In Taiwan I couldn’t do that. I went to the American school the entire time I was there, not speaking Chinese and being regarded as a weird foreigner.

Then on returning to the US for college, I unexpectedly went through yet another 5 years of reverse-culture shock (realizing this only 5 years after it was over), because I’d been away for so long and I lacked common experiences with my other classmates.

The effect, I think, was always feeling like an outsider or stranger, to this day. It took a long time to develop comfort in some social skills, but even now it is difficult to put away the feeling that I am an outsider/intruder that doesn’t belong.

Was art your first love, and tech more of an adult decision?

Neither of them are a first love, I would say, as a maker. I’m probably more of a reluctant creative.

I was more excited about stories than anything, particularly ones that I thought I could make. I wanted to (and still do want to) make really interesting experiences. I love animation, illustration, computer graphics, computer game design because of the stories and feelings they encourage, and for the knowledge and experience they deliver.

I’m a frustrated storyteller, and both art and technology are where my efforts seem to have gone because I have wanted good tools and good skills. Where I have fallen short, though, is having the guts to tell those stories and keep practicing.

It feels like I’m only now just getting over that block. Making things that are lovable is hard!

David, thank you so much!

This was my trigger to contact Dave – I LOVE
the Angry Scribble option!I call it my  Grump’s To Do Form. 

 

END OF POST 1. 

NEXT TIME, MORE ABOUT THE CREATIVE PROCESS, HOW AND WHY THE BLOG HAS MORPHED OVER TIME, WITH EXAMPLES, PLUS THE GROUNDHOG DAY APPROACH TO TRACKING. 

PART 3 INCLUDES A FRANK DISCUSSION ABOUT POETRY, COMFORT ZONES, CONFLICT, AND MORE FUN POSTS TO READ ON DAVE’S SITE. 

 

Always Learning: What Do You Call a …?

thumb_IMG_0119_1024Happy 2016, Everyone!

I thought that groups of animal and/or object names had a specific rhythm and form to them, like a “gaggle of geese”. Not always the case, to my surprise.

Harlee, my amazing Standard Poodle, deals daily with several major disturbances in her life. When she barks at any of them, she’s sent to her “place” until she stops barking. Totally unfair, but she goes nuts otherwise.

I looked up the real names for these critters, but think, to her, this describes it better:
Version 2— A Trauma of Turkeys (wild, who wander by her window several times a day, tromp through territory she considers to belong to her and her pack)
 A Sh*t-load of Squirrels (who torment her repeatedly, run up and down the deck railing, moon her when she looks at them, and otherwise create chaos for her. )
— A Damage of Deer (who eat “her ivy”; property of our next door neighbor, but which she’s very possessive towards)

IMG_0117_1024— a Cacophony of Cats (perhaps the most dreaded enemy, and not just because I’m highly allergic to them.)

These are my names for them.  A Rafter of Turkeys, a Herd of Deer — boring. However, a glaring or clutter or nuisance of cats is so right on.

Here’s a science lesson, in poetic form, to teach you some of the true names:

The Grand Scheme of Things

… set out as “a/an … of …”
you can figure it out
imaginatively, I presume

Obstinate Buffalo
(banish “bison” — such a dirty word!)
ooh, Cultured Bacteria!

Business Ferrets
Flamboyant Flamingos
Towering Giraffes
a Stud of Mares in confusion?

Bloated Hippopotami
Cackling Hyenas
Jellyfish Flutter or Smack

Otters Romp
by Squadron of Pelicans
and Penguins Huddle Proud

thumb_Photo on 2011-10-09 at 10.15 #2_1024Prickly Porcupines
Ostentatious Peacocks
Rhinos in a Crash

Buzzards hold Wakes
Cormorants Gulp, poor creatures
can’t swallow the fish they catch

Parliamentary Owls
watch Woodpeckers Descend
and Kangaroos Troop and hop

Unkind, Conspiratorial Ravens
watch Sharks Shiver, while
Swans of the lake, do Ballet

Intrusive Cockroaches
Pandemonius Parrots
Murderous Crows can’t be trusted

a Convocation of Eagles
Emus in a Mob
Crocodiles Float like logs

a Tribe of Goats
Implausible Gnu
Storks Muster for their appointed rounds

Rattlesnakes Rhumba
while Cobras Quiver
and Moles Labor and Mumble

Tigers Ambush
with the Zeal of Zebras
while the Lounge of Lizards
croon amphibious songs

~~~~~~~~~~~

Note: I took great poetic liberty with some of these, but used the following sources for inspiration:  

http://www.patcom.com/pdf/Whatdoyoucallagroup.pdf

https://sciencebasedlife.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/what-do-you-call-a-group-of/

http://www.namibian.org/travel/misc/collective-nouns.html

http://www.lyberty.com/encyc/articles/murder.html

http://mdc.mo.gov/blogs/fresh-afield/animal-aggregations-or-what-do-you-call-group

 

All photos c. Michele M. Graf, 2007-2016

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