poem: en plein air

March 21, 2018 Leave a comment

a little poem for the beginning of spring

working on an “en plein air” watercolor:
struggling to get just the right shade of gray
into the reflection of the clouds in the pond

just a smidge darker, hmm, maybe?


begin to dot (just a few at first, then more)
the surface of the water

and also to paint themselves into the picture
which is amusing for a moment

until suddenly it isn’t


but who’s counting?

March 8, 2018 Leave a comment

For much of my life, my reading interests largely were science fiction, fantasy, science non-fiction, and history. Over time I branched out, adding philosophy, eastern and western poetry, and various of the classics of western literature. I never really paid attention much to who the authors were, or their gender, or so I imagined. Several years ago though, early in the second Obama term I think, after coming across by chance books by women authors that struck me with their unique perspectives on things I thought I already knew:

it (finally!) became clear to me that I had to actively seek out a wider diversity of authors, especially women authors.

Looking back now at my reading history in Goodreads, it confirms that from about 600 books read in total, there are 442 books by 260 male authors, and only 160 books by 90 female authors. That’s a good motivator to continue seeking out different voices in reading! Zooming in to just this last year, I’ve read 16 books by women and 15 by men, so at least the trend is in a good direction.

Women authors whose books I’ve liked most over the last few years:

Emily Wilson, Simone de Beauvoir, Jane Smiley, Margaret Atwood, Brenda Shaughnessy, Charlotte Bronte, Ursula LeGuin, Kathleen Moore, Rebecca Goldstein, Jane Austen, Carrie Fisher, Adrienne Rich, Hope Jahren, Mary Oliver, Erica Dunbar, Hilary Clinton, Bell Hooks, Octavia Butler, Elizabeth Gilbert, Phyllis Rose, Edith Wharton, Ann Patchett, Cherríe Moraga, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Toni Morrison, Anne Lamott, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, H.D., Cheryl Strayed, Roz Chast, Kate Beaton, Lydia Davis, J.K. Rowling, Sharon Creech, Louisa Alcott, Hannah Crafts, Denise Kiernan, Margaret Chula, Edith Shiffert, Rachel Swarns, Saima Wahab, Carol Tavris, and Eileen O’Keeffe McVicker.


March 2, 2018 Leave a comment


The sun-loving puppy
sits at the open door looking out
at the back yard,
the falling rain,
and her wet toys lying in puddles.
She needs to go out at some point,
but not yet, not yet.

She looks up and asks with her eyes,
“Can I have my treat now anyway?”
“Of course” I say, close the door,
and we both go back to the couch.

inspired by this week’s Wordgrove impromptu prompt, “rain”, and you know, living with a dog in Portland in the winter :-)

If you’d like to see what the other writers made of this prompt, you can check out the weekly Wordgrove Post and Review newsletter for March 4 2018.

what did i miss?

March 1, 2018 Leave a comment

A new poem:

Deep in a mountainside forest, at one bank of a wild, snowmelt-swollen stream, there is a large boulder that shelters behind itself a calm side pool, where the roar of the nearby rapids is muted by the mass of the rock. One of last year’s fallen leaves lies on the ground at the edge of the pool, half in the water. Disturbed by a slight ripple, it falls fully onto the water and begins to drift slowly in the shallow pool’s weak current. The leaf floats around the pool, sometimes near the center but usually closer to the edge, while also spinning slowly, and it trembles slightly each time it passes near the turbulent edge of the main stream. The leaf continues to circle the pool slowly, under the dappled morning light. A few times it nearly becomes grounded again. Once, it touches another leaf lying at the edge of the pool. The two cling together only briefly, and separate before the second can be pulled into the water. Seventy nine times the leaf loops slowly around the pool, as the morning becomes afternoon. Just as the leaf  passes close to the main stream for the eightieth time, a small sudden wave pulls it out of the pool and it swiftly disappears into the rapids downstream, moments before a hiker walking up the stream-side trail passes by and glances briefly at the pool without stopping.

Or in haiku form:

quiet pool by a loud stream –
what did I miss,
just before I looked?

inspired by this week’s Wordgrove prewritten prompt: “loop” and “spring”

wordgrove revisited

February 28, 2018 Leave a comment

Way back when, I blogged about an online community of writers called Wordgrove. I was part of the group near its beginning, but over the last several years life and whatnot kept me from participating. I always enjoyed the Wordgrove events, which are informal, inviting, and very supportive, so I was inspired this week to rejoin active participation.

Each week there is a “prewritten prompt”, a theme given the previous week where each person shares the story, poem, or whatever they wrote using the prompt as a starting point. Then there is an “impromptu prompt” revealed at the event, and everyone has 15 or 20 minutes to write whatever short work is inspired by that prompt.

The prewritten prompt from last week was “credit card”, which inspired me to write this poem:

no credit card required
snow day
she finishes the home-knit
(thick warm) (for me)
sweater, just in time
for our evening
dog walk

Nancy in fact, did just recently finish knitting a sweater for me, very thick and warm, literally in the evening of one of the coldest days of the winter so far, just in time for me to wear it when we took the pups out for their the bedtime walk. :-)

At the event, inspired by this week’s impromptu prompt “tourist and winter”, I wrote two haiku:

blooming too early
as the cold rain turns to snow –
poor white daffodil


two nearly white dogs
bounding around the snowbanks –
dancing brown patches!

If you’d like to see what the other writers made of this prompt, you can check out the weekly Wordgrove newsletter: Wordgrove event Feb 22 2018.

ways of sleeping

February 25, 2018 Leave a comment

One of the joys of having dogs is just watching the many ways they have of sleeping. Oswin in particular has a vast range of sleeping postures, from cute to adorable to hilarious. Sometimes she seems to be part cat!









Tol Tol too is an amusing sleeper. His “thing” is enjoying napping on multiple levels, with his head either higher or lower than the rest of him. Sometimes, though, he just seems to melt into the cushions.




slow and steady

February 24, 2018 Leave a comment

Tol Tol and Oswin have been with us now three years. I’m still amazed how well they get along together, and got along together even from the start — while each still having in his and her own challenge with outsiders.


threeyears2 threeyears3

Tol Tol adores Nancy, and with her he’s a (big!) bouncy happy puppy, which is great to see. He tolerates me, and his love of food and treats overcomes his anxiety. Late evening walk times are the best — the neighborhood is very quiet so he’s at his most relaxed, and will actually let me touch him to put his harness and lead on for the walk. After the walk, he’ll even let me pet him a little, which at any other time would make him bolt across the room.



Tol Tol: “What are you looking at me for? I’m just trying to decide which toy to chew on today.”


Overall, we have two very happy dogs, who love their quiet home. Oswin in particular is happiest when our whole pack of four is all together in the same room. She is still reactive to other dogs, but after lots of practice we can do daytime dog walks anyway, and we can play games to keep her attention away from other dogs. At first she’d react strongly to other dogs blocks away, and she was constantly on alert. But now she mostly just wants to sniff everything, and can tolerate other dogs sometimes even if they’re just across the street.