Looking Crafty

I was nudged to do some crafts by an artist friend who does collages on old playing cards and then attaches poetry. I’d been contemplating this since last winter. I gathered magazines, posters, junk mail, you name it and I collected it. I assembled my supplies – patterned scissors, small sharp scissors, X-ACTO® knife, glue sticks, Elmer’s glue, rulers, embossing tools, corner cutters, punches for decorative shapes, and an assortment of senyru poems written for this very purpose. Then it was time to begin.

And I waited through the summer months being unmotivated. I revised the poems. Then I spent weeks gathering the words. It was almost impossible. I had to revise again and again. Partly because I was dissatisfied with the poems but also because I couldn’t find the word conceive, or marbled. As hard as I searched I couldn’t locate pre-printed words – ache, paltry, cattail, berry, or kiss. (Since my printer is defunct, I didn’t want to go print them at a cost.) And all this time I was collecting magazines. I had a huge stack of professional magazines but the words tended to analyze, standard deviations, biomarker, and a regular alphabet soup of acronyms that were useless (except for the occasional “s” or “a”). I finally amassed some Family Circle, Country Home, Martha Stewart Living, Fitness, Prevention, Shape, and Allure magazines. Along with the old atlases and some church bulletins I was ready to make art and add some poetry.

And then I started second guessing what I really wanted to do with these cards. Initially I figured they would be made with a specific person in mind. I’d have a poem that reflected that person in some way and images to compliment either the poem or the interests of the person I intended to give the card to. Finally I realized that that just wasn’t working. Writing poetry is hard enough without trying to make it specific to a single audience.

And that was the breakthrough moment. I started making the cards for myself! I put together poems that spoke to me. I created images that sparked my imagination. I made things that I liked. Without further ado I present a few of the Art Card collection.

Master the new skills
The actor best learn his line
Nature measures him
Welcome these beautiful lives
Let your palm open
A tool of passion
What cost for your company
Somebody loved you
Intent held power
Not identifiable
Utterance of God
Sometimes popular
Views birth genuine concern
Through simple science

Looking at My Personal Army

My husband has surprised me. His plan (and he has put into action) is to create a personal crow army. Yes, you read that right. It seems he was reading over my shoulder as I was perusing my FB feed. One of the people who regularly shows up has been making friends with their local crows. I have mentioned that I respect, admire, and love crows on many occasions. So Sparky decided that he wanted to make friends with the local crows. I am amused.

The noon sky turns black
A profusion of feathers
Rough voice proclaims love

So far he has been feeding them. They are starting to recognize that he is putting food out at the same time every day. So they are beginning to gather. The next step is to see if they will approach when he is present. All of this makes me giggle because I’m slightly evil. You see our neighbor in the condo behind us is not a very pleasant woman. She stole my daylilies. She had yelled at me to get my dog in (because he barked twice to be let in) yet her little dog is outside yapping for hours on end. She is just all around unfriendly. So a large number of raucous crows sitting in the trees and hopefully pooping in her fountain is just the kind of passive-aggressive retribution I can condone. Just in case you think my husband is unaware, he had considered the repercussions and gleefully moved forward with his plan!

Snatch up the last crust
Riot, murder, and mayhem
Mischief makers fly

So here are 2 haiku interspersed with this strange journey to make friends with crows and possibly make enemies. That I suppose is the very definition of a haibun (the poems interspersed with prose not the making of enemies)!

Looking at the Camera Flash

Flash of light revives
Old evil resurrected
Jealousy revealed

I was minding my own business when there was a blinding flash from a camera. Immediately I was on alert looking for the source. Usually it is Sparky trying to take a “candid” photo of his favorite photographic subject – moi. Sure enough Sparky was snapping a picture. I personally do not like to have my picture taken. Probably harkens back to school picture days when I would be coiffed with dippity-doo curls. Those curls were achieved by hours of interrupted slumber as the bobby pins dug into my tender scalp. The photos never resembled the everyday face I presented to the world. It seemed that I needed to be remade for the photos – that my normal state was not sufficiently acceptable to be captured for posterity. Anyway, I ended up going through some photos that I had in an album (yeah, the old fashioned photos printed on paper and inserted into books to hold those memories). Some of the pictures were from BC (before children). There was a series of photos that had been taken at a get together with a large number of friends. The photos were very revealing. Not much of a surprise among the people posing, but the camera caught several expressions of the folks in the background. Some were laughing and some were frowning. One had a look of surprise and another glared at the back of one of the others with a look of jealousy and dislike. Of course I couldn’t recall any reasons for the background drama that the camera captured. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there as a subtle undercurrent. In fact, the subjects in that series of vignettes have all played out the dramas of their lives in the public view and not all to a “happily ever after” conclusion….

Looking Scared

Boo! The current angst in my corner of the world concerns that most joyous of childhood holidays – Halloween. There is a huge debate on whether or not to allow Halloween trick-or-treat. The kids are all for it. The parents are divided. My neighbor has 3 girls. The older 2 are of an age where trick-or-treat is THE MOST IMPORTANT event EVER! I was talking with them and was asked if I was going to be handing out candy this year. The answer is still no; not last year, nor the year before and definitely not this year. They are trying to come up with an alternative that they feel comfortable with. I suggested that they purchase 2 big bags of candy of a type they know the girls will like and do it like an Easter Basket. Have the girls put their pumpkin pails by the front door and go to bed. In the morning the candy is overflowing the pumpkins. Everyone is happy. They weren’t exposed to anyone and no one was exposed to them. The parents can control the type and quantity of candy and more important the origin of the treats. The girls can wear their costumes all day on Halloween and not get cold or wet (as it usually rains and is around 45 degrees on average). My SIL was considering getting a “candy slide” to deliver candy into distanced plastic pumpkins or bags. A novel idea but I think it a little impractical but it does keep the kids off the porch and at least 6 feet away.

I remember going out on Halloween night. I was in 2nd grade. And I went with my friend Anita. Just the 2 of us. We walked around the entire subdivision. Rang every door bell. Ate a goodly amount of candy as we went. We scored popcorn balls at Mrs. Smeltzer’s house and Ms. Inez gave us hot chocolate. Mrs. Farmer was handing out cookies and the Smiths had really big apples. No one was scared of kids being out after dark, poison in candy or razor blades in apples, the sanitary conditions of homemade treats or being abducted.

All that changed by the time I had kids. We walked with them around the neighborhood to make sure they stayed safe from any unsavory characters. We put reflective strips on the back of the costumes to make sure they were visible to cars. We inspected all the candy and removed any that appeared compromised (wrappers not on securely, any that were possible choking hazards, anything not store bought). At one point we made the trip to the vet clinic and took a radiograph of all the candy (the Vet I was working for was doing it for his kids and offered the same for any of the employees). We put a time limit and set boundaries for where they could go.

And today’s parents have the added issue of whether or not it is safe due to the pandemic. To say they are scared is an understatement. Of course there are some parents who are completely unconcerned but these are the same ones who refuse to wear a mask and insist that the whole thing is a hoax… Tomorrow is the day. I’m curious because there are no trunk or treats scheduled that I’m aware of, the school Fall Festival has been cancelled, and the Mall stores are NOT passing out candy to any in costume. What will Halloween look like this year???

I’m so very scared
Of ghosts, goblins, and COVID
Ring the bell and run!

Looking at a Conversation

I’ve had a couple of different interactions lately. One in particular has stuck in my head. I was at the store doing my weekly grocery run. I go very early in the morning to avoid the COVIDiots. There are a large percentage of older, more medically fragile persons shopping and we are all wearing masks. Anyway a woman in a mobility scooter was attempting to lift a watermelon into the basket. I noticed that she was really struggling so I offered to help her. At first she waved me away saying that she didn’t need my help. Her tone was one of frustration and a little exasperation. As her legs were shaking and her grip on the melon was slipping, I walked over and helped her lift. I didn’t say anything and I didn’t stand too close. As I walked back to my shopping cart, I smiled at her. Even with the mask she could tell. Before I took more than 2 steps she started thanking me. She had tears in her eyes. She told me that her husband had passed just before the pandemic struck and that she was having a difficult time driving but didn’t have a choice since there was no one to drive her where she needed to go (and she was afraid to use Uber or Lyft or a regular taxi). She told me that she has a hard time asking for help and that she was going to have to “get over it”. As we parted her scooter died. That was the last straw. She sat there and just cried. I was able to get the people in the bakery to get her another scooter with a full charge and a young man drove it over to her. I switched her groceries into the new one. She was able to slide into the seat and pull away. The willingness of everyone to help her seemed to restore a little something inside that was broken. As she moved away I waved and I could see that she was smiling.

I’m reminded of a song that we learned in music class way back in 7th grade, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me…”

Internal landscape
Manifest joy, hope, and love
Give the world a hug

Looking at the Page

My husband Sparky has been a reading fiend. He has been posting his reads with a goal of reading one book a week. Well, at this rate he will have read 52 books by the end of August. The one thing that he hates more than almost anything else is if I attempt to read a book he is reading before he finishes it. So my reading is far behind his. This is mostly because I have been doing other things but partly because he will read 2 to 3 books at a time! I’ve never been able to do that. He’s currently all about Flannery O’Connor. He’s read Wise Blood, A Good Man is Hard to Find, The Violent Bear it Away, Everything that Rises Must Converge and the Complete Stories. I have to say that I’ve read the first one as part of an American Literature class. I was not impressed. He keeps urging me to try another one. This is the same thing I was faced with as a child and young adult living at home. “Tastes change. Try just one bite of this pickle, one sip of this orange juice, just one nibble of this spinach…”

I have periodically attempted to try some foods that as a child I was diametrically opposed to eating. I now adore mushrooms (if fresh instead of the canned ones that were my mother’s staple). I will eat spinach (fresh cooked not ever canned). I’m okay with squash. I’ll eat egg whites and actually enjoy them. However I have never liked (despite numerous attempts) and will never eat certain items: mayonnaise, mustard, asparagus (no matter how you cook it), raw veggies including kale, lettuce (all varieties), cucumbers, celery, raw onion, raw tomato, raw carrot (I’ll eat them cooked but just keep the raw ones far far away).

So despite having tried I still can’t enjoy some authors. They are just not palatable to me. Maybe it is some slightly bitter after taste or a strong flavor that slaps you in the face. Ernest Hemmingway, John Steinbeck, Flannery O’Connor, James Joyce, and there are others. But these seem to be the ones that like kale, pickles and asparagus others seem to enjoy but leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Take a bite and see
Clean your plate or no dessert
Thank-you, no thank-you

Looking at Skeptics

The 12th prompt for NPM Super Poetry Challenge is to write 3 haiku. The haiku is a Japanese form consisting of 17 or less stressed or “on” word signs in 3 lines. The anglicized form is 3 lines with 17 syllables with 5 syllables in the first and third lines and 7 in the 2nd line. Although the following verses are haiku, they are more specifically senyrus. Senyru are a about human foibles and are often cynical or darkly humorous.

I clean all the sinks
Dust, sweep, scour, chase down germs
Still cower at home

An allergic cough
Causes panic at checkout
Blows nose and buys milk

Virus panic comes
My thoughts spin out of control
Hamster wheel of doom

Back in March when the first recommendations for social distancing/self-quarantine were made, many were very skeptical. I saw some very smug people make comments that this was 1. A hoax. 2. A great way to lighten the burden on Social Security due to “boomer removal”. 3. A made up problem to crash the economy. 4. Not their problem because they were young and healthy and it would be nothing more than a “cold”. 5. That the misfortune of others was their own fault. Well, I keep reading about the spread of the coronavirus and the mounting statistics of those infected and the number of hospitalizations and deaths. At first it was only the elderly and those with chronic health issues that were considered most vulnerable. That changed when younger and younger people were getting sick and requiring respiratory assistance. And in a heartbeat it became everyone’s problem: The 25 year old who was having to make funeral arrangements for their spouse, and the 30 year old whose job disappeared because the business owner died, and the mother sitting vigil at her child’s bed praying that a hospitalization is not needed. I could go on but I won’t. In Sparky’s family, 5 are employed nurses. Of those 5, 4 are in the thick of it. We all worry about them as they are being exposed daily as they are involved in the care and treatment of coronavirus positive patients. It is grim. It is heartbreaking. It will have to run its course. But, and I say this even though there are some who don’t agree, we will survive as a nation. There are a few who will fall away from their faith and many more who will become stronger. I am encouraged by the acts of kindness in my community. There has been a greater sense of caring and sharing. We have been able to help our neighbors and families. When the next door neighbor had her baby, there were dinners provided and diapers delivered. Those who had extra made a gift. I know it was very much appreciated as we had a short conversation with her husband from his deck to our patio. So I’m sending my prayers for each of you. Stay safe, stay well, stay home.

Looking at the Crock Pot

I was talking to Sparky about using the crockpot more often and quizzing him on meals he would like to have next week. I make a weekly menu to assist in using foods efficiently and making grocery shopping less random. Lord have mercy! I think my computer and phone are spying on me. Soon after the conversation ended a bunch of crockpot videos appeared in my Facebook feed along with ads for a multitude of instant pot/crock pot combination appliances! That in itself is disconcerting. But what pushed me over the edge were the recipes for the crockpot. How lazy can you get to make crockpot sloppy Joes. It takes only 10 minutes to brown the hamburger and add the seasonings to make a decent sloppy Joe. Why would I need to spend 20 minutes loading everything into a crockpot to cook for 8 hours (not to mention the clean up time)!?!? Another one was crockpot macaroni and cheese. Really. It boggles the mind. And then the latest issue of one of the many random magazines that just appear in my mailbox featured – you guessed it, crockpot recipes! The recipes were interesting but not ones I’ll probably ever make. There was “Big Vegetable Stew” which was made with whole plum tomatoes, cannellini beans, Italian green beans, lots of onion and spices usually found in spaghetti sauce. I didn’t get the “Big” vegetables part. The “Beef and Carrot Tagine” sounded good but Sparky would never eat it because in addition to the carrots and beef in a tomato-based broth there are raisins. Then there was the “Brothy Sichuan Chicken” which looked like a fancy Ramen noodle dish. Why would you need to make that in a crockpot? (shakes head in disbelief)

In response to this I’ve penned this haiku:
We long for slow food
A fast food revolution
Makes slow cookers fast

Looking Bumpy

It has been a long time since I’ve suffered this unpleasantness. I’m not sure exactly when it happened but I suspect strongly that it was during my last geocaching adventure. It appears I have poison ivy. I noticed it on Monday morning after I got back from my morning exercising. I had felt a few bumps but didn’t really think anything about it. Sure they itched and I scratched them and then forgot about it as I concentrated on keeping up my pace on the treadmill. As I looked in the mirror after showering it was obvious that I had a problem! On my left jaw and cheek is a perfusion of red itchy blisters. On my neck on the right side are a few more. I ran to the medicine kit to find the calamine lotion. It wasn’t there! Then it dawned on me – I’d pitched it during a cleaning frenzy. You see it was about 10 years old and way past the expiration date. Even if it hadn’t been opened, I still decided to get rid of it and of course hadn’t replaced it. Woe was me! I resorted to hydrocortisone cream to ease the itch. It sort of worked. I’ve noticed that if I sweat or touch my face or if my hair touches the rash I start to itch in a want to tear my skin off way. So far it hasn’t spread much. And I’m comforted by the knowledge that it will resolve in 2 to 3 weeks. At least I’m hoping it will be long gone by the time I leave for my vacation!

Red three leaf evil
Silent touch spells disaster
I claw at the rash

Looking at More Magazines

It is starting to get ridiculous. I hauled out the email where I signed up for some magazines. It appears I subscribed to 6 magazines. I was pretty sure I knew which ones but I needed to be certain. I ordered (for free using my skymiles) Martha’Stewart Living, Sports Illustrated, Leisure & Travel, Money, Finance Today, and Bon Appétit. I am inundated with magazines. Top this with all my professional magazines (Firstline, Veterinary Nurse, Lab Animal, Veterinary Medicine, Compendium, and JAALAS) that I switched to my home address from the work address. Then there is Sparky’s National Geographic and you can imagine it is getting insane. But now I’m getting a bunch of other titles that I have no idea where they are coming from! We have started getting Food & Wine, Eating Well, Prevention, Shape, Taste of Home, and Better Homes and Garden!! I keep waiting for a bill. At least that is what happened the last time I started getting a magazine I hadn’t subscribed to. It was one of those pranks pulled by a bully. She had subscribed me to a magazine that had an annual subscription fee of $200+. I was puzzled by the first issue because I had no interest in the magazine geared to this very narrow scientific discipline. I tossed it. Then I got the bill. It took time and effort to straighten out. It was no secret who was behind it (since she was gloating and bragging to her toadys – several who felt compelled to rat her out). The mail yesterday had a post card informing me that Money was no longer being published and the remainder of my subscription would be Fortune magazine. Anyway it is very strange with a helping of bizarre on the side!

The following is a little haiku inspired by the latest magazine touting “What you need to know about your metabolism” the article is one page long and half the page is a photo of a sloth. Yeah. That’s all there is to metabolism…
Glossy page print holds
Fact mixed with lies and gossip
Ads predominate