Looking at the Downpour

Calmkate posted a blogging challenge using the word “downpour” and I thought perhaps my muse would be intrigued enough to wake up and contribute. I was wrong. So I did what I had to do, I pulled her from the warmth under the covers. She put up a good fight but I had a firm grip on her ankle and was tickling the bottom of her foot. After much thrashing, she emerged grumpy and sullen. Forgive this entry as she is clearly having a temper.

Grey sky pressure builds
The wind pushes clouds through skies
Flips leaves upside down
Makes flags snap and flagpoles hum
I cast eyes upward
The sun blinks behind the clouds
Kites are pulled to ground
Mothers call their children home
Bring in the laundry
The air holds the taste of rain
And the sky glowers
A foreboding hangs heavy
A storm is brewing
Radio crackles warning
Severe thunderstorm
We wait with sinus headaches
Throbbing pressure builds
As the barometer drops
Sudden thunderclap
Lightning races between clouds
Wind gusts batter doors
Cherry blossoms stripped from trees
Lightning stabs the earth
Makes dogs bark and babies cry
The day becomes dusk
I walk faster toward shelter
My hair whips my face
The wind pushes and pulls me
Pebbles pelt my legs
A drop of rain hits my cheek
Too late caught in a downpour

This is a Chōka, a popular type of Japanese court poem in the 6th – 14th centuries. It consists of alternating lines of 5 and 7 syllables with an extra 7 syllable line at the conclusion. There is of course no required rhyme or meter, as this is strictly a syllabic form. There can be any number of lines…

Looking Surprised

A new ceramics session started and ended. The backlog of pieces waiting to be fired grows. This is not the fault of the kiln tech but rather a fault in the computer component that regulates time and temperature. A new “mother board” was ordered and finally installed. Which due to COVID was a long drawn out wait. So we are now finally getting pieces back. I had forgotten what I had done so it was all a big surprise!

The first orb is Umbellosphaera irregularis. This coccolith is from the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. I fashioned it from a white stoneware clay. I used Grape glaze and red iron oxide stain to apply the accents. This orb is slightly larger than my usual 3″, measuring 4.5″ in diameter. It reminds me of a hibiscus or Rose of Sharon flower. Except it is always in bloom.

The second orb I retrieved from the latest firing is Ophiaster reductus. This coccolith is found in the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka. I glazed the white stoneware body with a new color called Megan’s Blue. This glaze is a pale translucent blue that works well to accent details. It is similar to the once popular but now banned Chun Blue (due to the use of barium in the glaze recipe). This one is food safe not that anyone would attempt to eat off one of my orbs. It measures a little smaller at 2.75″ in diameter.

Looking into the Sun

We are having fewer and fewer sunny days or even days where the sun is able to be seen through the grey cloud cover. When it does come out it is a miracle event and everyone seems mesmerized. We have been warned from an early age not to stare or look directly at the sun. I’ve had the experience of driving and the sun is reflected on the back window of the car ahead. Often it is the rising or setting sun that is just below the edge of the sun visor and attempting to stab my retinas. Even if the glance is brief, I see spots that are blue or grey floating across my field of vision. They remain for a few minutes. As a passenger I’ve closed my eyes only to see the spots swimming across my eyelids. There is the saying that “eyes are the windows to the soul” but they are also portals to the mind. Yet without eyes or sight, the mind and heart still see and often more clearly the human condition than those with perfect vision.

I stare at the sun
Spots form on retinas
Forever image
Burned into my mind
To replace your face

I am blinded
See blue halos
And fuzzy dots
Where you once were

You remain
In my head
You haunt me

Leave me
In peace


This is a little exercise in Diminished Hexaverse. This form is syllabic with 5 stanzas where the stanzas start with 5 lines of 5 syllables and each subsequent stanza has one less syllable per line and one less line. There is no meter or rhyme required as long as the syllable count is within the rules.

Looking at Fusion Cuisine

In August I had a little going away party for the daughter of my BFF. It was a sad day and a happy one too. Kind of a fusion of emotions. I was very happy that she has secured a new job that pays her tons more than what she was making in Michigan. She was able to purchase her dream house. She will be near her aunts, uncles, and cousins. All of this is extreme good fortune. The sad part is that she is moving away. Her mother will now be far far away from her. This will be hard on both of them. It was a fusion kind of event. That meant only one thing – fusion cuisine. In this case I made my Jewish grandmother’s version of Mexican enchiladas. Yes, you read that correctly. So to be clear my grandmother did not in any way, shape or form keep a kosher house. So I present her recipe for Enchiladas:
white or yellow corn tortillas
Velveeta cheese
Sweet onion
black olives
Hormel chili no beans

Place several cubes of Velveeta and a sprinkling of chopped onion and black olives on a tortilla and roll. Place into a glass baking dish with the loose end on the bottom. A heavy butter knife can be used to weigh down the enchiladas to prevent them from unrolling. Heat the chili and pour over the top of the enchiladas. Sprinkle sliced black olives and additional Velveeta on the top. Bake ~ 30 minutes at 350° F until cheese is melted.

To humor Sparky and treat my guests, I also did a chicken version with green enchilada sauce with cheese, chicken, green pepper and onion inside.

We had additional toppings of black olives, sour cream, guacamole, diced tomatoes from the garden, green peppers, cilantro, onion, mild salsa, salsa verde, tortilla chips, and a little extra chili. Everyone was able to customize their meal and I do believe all were satisfied!

Just like life, my grandmother’s version of enchiladas combined a little of what she grew up with and a little from what she experienced away from the bosom of her family. The end result is a little messy looking but is still delicious. There are so many variations on a theme. We live our lives making choices. Some people agonize over every little thing and others dash headlong into the future. I don’t think there is any right or wrong way as long as we each savor what we put on our plates.

Looking for the Song

The forest speaks to all who listen there
Calliope of scattered birds take flight
The treetops sway in time with swirling leaves
The wind shakes down the nuts that bounce off bark
And adds a note to Autumn’s final song
The tapping rain percussion plays a tune
With creak of chestnut’s rotted branches fall
A crunch of leaves as doe and fawn walk on
The howling wind pulls at my heart and mind
To pay attention to the forest’s tune
Amid the melody and harmony
There moans the ancient pine that calls my name

I was hiking in the woods with Sparky and my friend saintvi. The wind was blowing so hard that the trees appeared to be performing some sort of ecstatic dance. The tall pines were especially in motion. They didn’t just sway. They were swirling and sweeping then bending in a cambré not unlike ballet dancers. They were singing as they moved. It was an eerie creaking and grinding sound. At first the only thing I could hear was the fierce wind. Once we were in the trees there was a sense of silence that was soon replaced by the appreciation of the sounds of the trees and leaves. When was the last time you really listened to the world around you?

This is blank verse – a poem with unrhymed lines written in iambic pentameter, that is 10 syllables with the even numbered syllables bearing the accent.

Looking Between the Covers

First off this is not about sex, a bed, or linens. I want to discuss books. Books have been a little bit of an obsession in this household. Sparky has become a reading fiend. I have not felt inclined to become competitive. The last time I was in a book reading competition, I killed it. The English teacher had to invent new levels for me. I ended up a “phoenix” which was four or five levels above what she had initially determined to be the top tier – “eagle”. Anyway, Sparky has been not only reading physical books but listening to audio books. Although I can see the attraction, I have a problem considering audio books as having been read. Nevertheless, I have been reading some of the books Sparky has brought home from the library. (Since he works there it isn’t out of his way to check them out or return them.) So far I’ve been intrigued and disappointed, sometimes within the same book.

After reading the entirety of the book “Baking with Kafka” by Tom Gauld I realized that I am not as smart as I thought or as quick to recognize British humor. I did read the whole thing which is a testament to my need for closure. I kept thinking that the next page would tickle me or be in some way amusing. Hope springs eternal. At least until you close the back cover and think, “I’ll never get that time back.” I felt the same when I started reading “Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh. The difference being that about 20 pages in I was howling with laughter and had to stop to wipe the tears from my eyes.

Having a little trepidation about another of his book selections, I steeled myself and seeing as it was a thin book figured it wouldn’t be so bad. After 2 pages I was confused. Was it just me or did this book just make no sense whatsoever? I continued to read and become progressively less happy about reading the book. I must be a glutton for punishment so I finished the book. I felt as if I were having a mental collapse. The circular logic, the repetitive thoughts, the nonsensical obsessions conspired to make me doubt my own sanity. Fra Keeler by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi was a painful experience. My husband thought it was “interesting” and “fascinating”. I suppose there is some merit in the writing since she won lots of awards for this novel. It was not my cup of tea.

I did enjoy a couple others, A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore. It kept me engaged and I wanted to see how things were going to come out… I won’t spoil it with details but I did like it. Then there was the book “One Hundred Favorite Folktales” which is a compilation of 100 stories from around the world. I liked that there were themes linking continents and countries. It was fun to see the variations of the stories. Over all the Russian folk tales were more brutal and the German ones a little scary while the Norwegian stories seemed to favor a gentler touch. Calmkate recommended “A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World” by C. A. Fletcher and it was a good one. I was engrossed and managed to read it in 2 days. I guess that’s the sign of a really good book! Then I tackled “Boy Swallows Universe” by Trent Dalton and though it was a grittier story I did enjoy it. I’m thinking the Australian authors might just become favorites…

What’s on your nightstand?

Looking to Keep My Distance

CalmKate posted a challenge for Friday Fun to discuss social distancing. This has become a point of contention along with mask wearing. Yes we are all very tired of keeping our friends and family at arm’s length. I even read an article about “COVID Fatigue” that basically said people were exhibiting willful absentmindedness about wearing masks and keeping their physical distance from strangers. For myself, it is hard to give up family gatherings, holiday celebrations, and travel. Still I will persevere in an effort to stay healthy and to keep others healthy too.

How can love flourish at arm’s length
Where distance reduces love’s strength
Six feet apart we fix our place
There is no calm as chaos reigns
Shadow of kindness still remains
Dares to enter personal space
Through smiling eyes and hidden lips
With gesture sweet COVID eclipse
And show each a measure of grace

This is a Nove Otto. It is a form created by Scott Alcorn. This poem is a 9 line poem with 8 syllables per line and a rhyme scheme of aacbbcddc. It is a new form for me but I kind of like it. Of course with any poem with a limited number of rhymes, it is important to choose your rhyme carefully!

Looking for Laughter

Today would have been my Father’s 88th birthday. The sting of his death is gone. Now I’m just a little nostalgic. The thing I miss most is the sound of him laughing. I’ve written about his laugh before. The thing is, his laugh was missing for the last couple of years before he passed. He was so very weary and weak. The pain from the neuralgia and the toll dialysis took on him meant that all his available energy went to just staying alive. He loved slap stick comedy in general and Jerry Lewis movies specifically. He would tell jokes and I provided him YEARS of hilarity as I pondered “How do you get down from an elephant?” I get tickled reading old Garfield comics, watching most animated movies (Monsters, Inc still puts me in stitches in parts) and thinking about some of the truly ridiculous moments in my life. What makes you laugh?

So in honor of his birthday I wrote the following prose poem:
The funny thing is, I can’t recall the sound of my father’s voice, but his laugh is still echoing in my mind. I can hear it, see his face, see his shoulders shaking, his mouth open with a roar and a gasp. There has been a dearth of laughter lately. Laughing is a kind of communion with the creator. I’m convinced God has a wicked sense of humor. How else can you explain elbows and dimples, caterpillars and butterflies, flamingo knees and kangaroo pouches? I want to think that God laughs when someone farts or releases a really magnificent belch. I want to believe. There is divine amusement when seeing a funny movie, watching babies take the first taste of ice cream, seeing that regal cat miss the mark jumping from chair to bed. The sound of God laughing is all around us in the falling rain, the crunch of dry leaves, the sparkle of ice in winter sun. I can hear laughter when the crow calls, a donkey brays, and when we sing all off-key in church. I bet He has a good chuckle when I sing in the shower. Today I’m looking for laughter. I’ll strain to hear the whisper as my dad has a good laugh with the angels and when I hear it I’ll join in.

Looking at the Stillness

Today at 11:00 AM I will stand still. My eyes will close and I will remember that many lives were lost. Although I will remain motionless for a moment, there are so many that will never stir again. The dead are unmoving, unfeeling, unremembered by most of those now living. Today is a holiday that has been reimagined. The original reason for the day has been relegated to the history books (Armistice Day). We call today Veterans’ Day and have expanded the scope to honor all who served. Still I think about “the war to end all wars” and the lives laid down in defense of freedom.

According to the internet “At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ended. At 5 a.m. that morning, Germany, bereft of manpower and supplies and faced with imminent invasion, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies in a railroad car outside Compiégne, France. The First World War left nine million soldiers dead and 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives. In addition, at least five million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.” Since that time there have been other wars fought. Some were quick conflicts that have faded from memory (Invasion of Granada) and others were full on wars that took years of fighting and a similarly high number of casualties.

So in honor of the sacrifices, I will be still, still as death. I will maintain one full minute of stillness. I hope you will join me for a single moment to honor the memories of all the soldiers and civilians that were destroyed or their lives turned upside down in war.
As a bonus this is exactly will fulfill CalmKate’s challenge for “still”!

Looking at Inaction

My dreams take substance and seem real
Your hands and touch are all I feel
Satin sheets slide upon my bed
It is a vision in my head

The echo of your voice remains
Your haunting words my mind retains
The prophecy of what you said
It is a vision in my head

Fighting to breathe I bit my tongue
I pulled the trigger, shot the gun
My freedom won in crimson red
It is a vision in my head

The taste of metal on the tongue
Returns the memory of one
No longer here he is long dead
It is a vision in my head

I was reading an opinion piece about abusive relationships. There was an undercurrent that hummed – if it was so bad, just leave. It really came off as victim shaming. It is very easy to say that someone should “just leave” but when there is no where to go it becomes very problematic. Add the controlling aspect of many abusive situations – no access to money, transportation, or even communication with family – it makes leaving nearly impossible. If that weren’t enough there are children and pets to consider as well. The victim may not be willing to leave them behind. The victim believes that they are the buffer between the abuser and the children. Then there is the hope, desperate and often unrealistic, that with time and patience and love, that they can change the abuser into a kind and loving person.

The poem is a kyrielle which is a 4 stanza poem with a strict syllable count of 8 per line. The rhyme is aabB, ccbB, ddbB, eebB where the last line of the first stanza is repeated as the last line of the following stanzas. It is written in rhyming couplets… And no, I am not in an abusive relationship. Unless you consider moving the soap dispenser from the left to the right of the bathroom sink randomly as abuse.