The Merry Month of May

I love May. It's usually the month when things finally turn around, and it truly starts to feel like Spring in my corner of the world. It doesn't usually snow in May (although it has. . . ), and everything is beginning to green up and finally look like spring. At last!

Turning the calendar over to May . . .  means it's also time to . . . 

IMG_8541

On the first Monday of the month, I share random things that have recently caught my eye. Interesting articles, little factoids, and inspiring this-and-that, for the most part. Things that might help get your day started in a revved-up kind of way.

==

Let's start things off with a quote . . . 

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now."
--- Steven Pressfield

I feel some boldness in the air. May just bursts with possibility, doesn't it?

==

Get Yourself Some Magic Windows

IMG_8385

A couple of weeks ago, I shared my "magic windows" with you. You don't have to have actual stained glass windows to get magic windows of your own, though! You can get yourself some "magic window stickers" or hanging prisms and create rainbow rooms of your own.

If you want to turn your regular windows into stained glass-looking windows, this company makes custom stickers that convert your windows to "magic windows." (I have never ordered from the company, and I didn't check out their pricing. I just found them through a Google search, and cannot vouch for them. But their windows look pretty cool.) If you're looking for a less "custom" option, there are all kinds of cool stained glass window decals here, and a quick Etsy search yielded hundreds of options for window stickers and clings, hanging prisms, and more -- with a wide variety of prices. (I actually ordered a large set of these window clings for $14.95. I'm planning to use them in some of my big windows -- for rainbow magic AND as an attempt to keep birds from flying into our windows.) Anyway. . . maybe you'll be tempted to set up some "magic windows" for yourself!

==

The Covid Time Warp is Real

IMG_8542

If you're like me, you probably feel like time "folded" (or something) since the Covid pandemic began. My concept of time . . . got really skewed, and it didn't really make sense to me. Well. Turns out I'm not the only one -- and that it's a Real Thing! A recent UCLA study demonstrates that most of us are experiencing a pandemic time warp, with 2020 and 2021 kind of meshing into one big blob of time. You can read the fascinating article about the concept here. But, in short, we lost the "markers" we usually use to tell time -- birthday celebrations, vacations, holidays, etc. -- and our brains just . . . got confused without that "breadcrumb trail" to follow.

==

Remember Macro May?

I've never participated in Macro May, but I know several people who do/have. Anyway, check this out for some iPhone Macro Photo Inspiration! These 10 photos represent the winners in Apple's iPhone Macro Photo Challenge. They're pretty incredible!

==

Looking for an Audiobook?

IMG_6663

I love to have a good audiobook going whenever I walk JoJo or work in my garden or take up mundane home chores. Not all books make for good listening, though. The narrator can really make or break the whole experience! Esquire magazine just released a list of the 30 Best Audiobooks of All Time. This is a great list, covering a wide range of genres. Some books are fairly new releases, and some have been around for awhile. I actually downloaded 2 titles from this list to enjoy over the summer. (Bonus points if you can guess which ones!)

==

Just for Fun

When I was a kid, I used to love flip-books. Y'know, those books with animation on the edge of the pages . . . you flipped the pages and the drawings magically "moved?" Well . . . check out this quick little video and be amazed over the lost art of "fore-edge painting" (which is much cooler than those basic flip-books I loved as a child). It's awsome, and well worth the 3 minutes it'll take you to watch.

==

And with that, we're OFF!
Here's to a great week for all of us. 

Happy May, everyone.


This or That: Poetry Edition

What better way to wrap up a month of poetry than with a good old, month-end round of  . . . 

IMG_8528

Poetry Lover . . . OR . . . Meh, Not So Much

Haiku . . . OR . . . Limericks

Lewis Carroll . . . OR . . . Dr. Seuss

[in school] Reciting Memorized Poems . . . OR . . . [in school] Writing Haiku

Classic Poetry . . . OR . . . Contemporary Poetry

Emily Dickinson . . . OR . . . Mary Oliver

Discovered Poetry On My Own . . . OR . . . Had Early Poetry "Mentors"

[movie] Bright Star . . . OR . . . [movie] Dead Poet's Society

Bob Dylan . . . OR . . . Lennon/McCartney

=====

To answer, just copy the following, paste it into the comment field, and indicate your answers.
(I've tried it myself and it works.)

Poetry Lover OR Meh, Not So Much
Haiku OR Limericks
Lewis Carroll OR Dr. Seuss
Reciting Memorized Poems OR Writing Haiku
Classic Poetry OR Contemporary Poetry
Emily Dickinson OR Mary Oliver
Discovered Poetry On My Own OR Had Early Poetry "Mentors"
Bright Star OR Dead Poet's Society
Bob Dylan OR Lennon/McCartney

As for me? Check the comments to find out!

This . . . or That? 
I can't wait to see what you choose.

 


Blasting You With Poetry: 2022: Week 4

April is National Poetry Month.

Screen Shot 2022-04-01 at 7.52.15 AM

To celebrate, Bonny, Kat, Sarah, and I have been sharing poetry with you each Thursday during April. This week - our last - we're sharing the poems we "carry in our pockets." Y'know. Those comfortable, favorite poems that we "carry around" and share whenever we can. 

=====

Poem In Your Pocket Day . . . is really A Thing, and has been since 2008. It's designed for people to simply share poems they love with others. In the days before the pandemic, I would actually print out copies of a short poem and carry them around with me on Poem In Your Pocket Day. I left them behind on coffee shop tables, in gym lockers, on shelves at the grocery store. That kind of thing. It was fun, even though I imagine most people ignored them or tossed them in the trash.

Anyway, now I'll just share the poem in my pocket here . . .with you!

=====

I Worried
Mary Oliver

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not, how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out in to the morning,
and sang.

=====

Today's poem is from my copy of Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, published by Penguin Random House, 2017. For more information about today's poet, Mary Oliver, click here.

=====

Be sure to visit Bonny, Kat, and Sarah today so you can read the poems they carry in their pockets (fabulous poems, all!). And thank you for celebrating National Poetry Month with us this year.

 


Making . . . Something Different

If you follow along here, you may have noticed that on Wednesdays I usually write something . . . about something I've made or am in the process of making. It's usually knitting, but sometimes sewing or maybe stitching-ish; sometimes painting or art-ish.

Today? I'm going to show you something different I've "made."

IMG_8472

Today, I'm going to show you the poetry collection I've created in my home library.
(Because Poetry Month. . . )

So those top three shelves in the photo above . . . show my entire little poetry library. It's been growing gradually but steadily over the years. I've purchased most of the volumes of poetry myself, although several have been gifts I've been pleased to receive over the years. The first poetry volume I ever purchased is this (now dog-eared) Robert Frost collection. 

IMG_8474

That was back in college. It was not the first book in my collection, though. That would be this copy (photo below) of Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet. I loved Kahlil Gibran back in high school! So much that I checked this very copy out of my high school library - over and over again . . . 

IMG_8473

and never checked it back in! That wasn't intentional. In all the hub-bub of graduation, I forgot I had it. The school never asked about it. And then I was gone. Now, The Prophet is the most guilt-filled volume of poetry in my collection! (My apologies to libraries everywhere.) I removed the cover and the glued-in pocket inside the front cover, but the evidence remains.

IMG_8521

. . . and moving on . . . 

My personal poetry library is filled with all types of poetry volumes by a variety of poets. My favorites (Mary Oliver or Billy Collins, for example) fill a lot of space on my shelves. But my collection houses all kinds of new favorite poets, too.

IMG_8475
IMG_8475

During April each year, I try to purchase a few new volumes of poetry for my collection. I like to support books stores, poets, and poetry in general, and I think National Poetry Month is a perfect month to do that.

If you're interested in starting your own poetry collection, I suggest you start with a poet you already know you like . . . and build from there. If you don't have a specific poet you like, then maybe begin with an anthology instead. I think about it kind of like building a music collection . . . 

New works by a single poet . . . are kind of like record albums featuring new music by a musical group or individual. It's usually all "new stuff," created and designed to work together -- maybe to tell a story or support a specific theme. Mary Oliver's Blue Horses or Billy Collins' The Rain in Portugal are examples of volumes of new works.

A collection of poetry by a single poet . . . is like a "greatest hits" album from musical artists. These poetry collections usually contain favorite, more well-known poems by a single poet, and provide a great resource for a deep dive into a specific poet's work. Mary Oliver's Devotions is an example, as is Billy Collins' Aimless Love. Usually the word "collection" appears in the title or subtitle. (Sometimes, usually after a poet has passed away, you can find "complete collections" which include the entirety of their life's work.)

A poetry anthology . . . is like a Spotify playlist. Anthologies contain a variety of work from a variety of poets, usually curated by an editor around a specific theme or time frame. Anthologies are great places to begin a poetry collection, and a perfect place to discover poets you enjoy (and want to read more deeply). 

IMG_8478

So. There you have it! A little poetry collection I've "made" for myself! 

=====

How about you? Do you have a poetry collection of your own?

(And in case you care not a whit about poetry, I'll be back next week with the shawl I showed you last week. Because it finished, and blocking as I write.)


SHIFT: April Check-In

Speaking of poetry . . . 

IMG_7478

Poetry and quotes and . . . just words, in general . . . play a big part in how I "document" my one little word process for myself each year. I'm always on the hunt for poems that capture the feelings and images of my word. Or quotes that sum up my thoughts. Or even just random  . . . word-bits (more on that later).

In March, Ali Edwards & gang even had a poem-writing prompt . . . which sounds right up my alley, but actually, I thought the prompt process was . . . on the hokey side (or, at least, for me). I did write a poem, though, which you can see on the left hand page of my "shift journal" here in this photograph. But . . . that's not what I'm writing about today.

IMG_8464

Today I want to focus on the the right hand page there.
The collected "word bits." Which actually come together to make a poem. (If you read it all together and maybe squint a little.)

I am always clipping little . . . words and phrases . . . that catch my eye. Every now and then, I bring home a bunch of magazines I pick up at the book store or from the racks at the grocery store, or I go through random catalogs that come in the mail, and I flip through them . . . looking for photos or phrases that appeal. (I like to do collage in my art journals.) I store all the little word-bits in a small plastic bin . . . 

IMG_8509

(Y'know. For someday!)

Every month, I sift through my little "stash" of word-bits and see if any are . . . particularly resonating with me. And if they are, I start fitting them together to make, well . . . I guess you could call them poems of sorts.

I end up creating at least one of these word-bit poems every year for my word journals. Sometimes, it takes me all year to complete one. Other years - like this one - it just takes me a few months. I started this one in January, adding phrases here and there, as I found just the right phrases. (I never work top-to-bottom. They just kind of . . . emerge, willy-nilly. Random-like.)

I think this one might be done? But, you just never know. (There's still plenty of space there. Should the just right word-bit appear.)

IMG_8462

The trick is always to interpret the message behind the particular grouping of words! I think this one is telling me . . . to acknowledge and hold on to what's important while also paying attention to what might be deep in my heart.

I think I'm giving myself permission to . . . SHIFT.


Best Of . . . April 2022

"If you pay attention, the events of an ordinary day can come together as a found poem."
                        -- Parker Palmer

IMG_8346

I came across that quote from Parker Palmer earlier this month, and I've been thinking about it ever since. I'm really taken with the whole notion of "ordinary days" (or even "ordinary months") coming together as a poem. I decided . . . to give it a try. Could I actually turn my ordinary month . . . into a poem???

IMG_8400

Much as I love poetry, I am not a poet.  I mean, I like and appreciate words and the rhythm of language, but I've never had "success" (such a loaded word, "success". . . ) with writing poetry myself. I don't feel bad about that, and I don't really care. I have many other ways to express myself, and have no regrets about not being a poet.

IMG_8414

Yet . . . I am drawn to discovering a "found poem" in the ordinary events of my days. 

IMG_8488

Not WRITING a poem, per se . . . but LIVING a poem! 

I decided to give it a try.

=====

APRIL . . . you were not always easy.
But, then, isn't that usually the way?
Ordinary. Difficult. Pushing and pulling.
But perhaps that's the nature of a poem?

Cold and blustery.
But daffodils and forsythia in the end.
Color, too.
Though most of that was my doing, not yours.

A time of freshening up.
Spring cleaning. 
Repotting the houseplants.
Planning for the garden.

Gathering with actual people again.
Events on the calendar. Like . . . live ones.
Lunches with friends, Sundays with family.
Having a massage.

Deep loss.
But also happy memories.
Love. Gratitude. Adjustments.
Life goes on.

Dirt under my fingernails.
Turning on the grill.
Opening the cabin.
Flipping my closet.

April? Aha! You were a poem, of sorts, after all.

IMG_8494

My April.

Completely ordinary.
But full of poetry, too.
(Waiting to be "found.")

LIVE your own poem!

=====

What parts of your April . . . were like a "found poem?"


Growing Hope . . . From Many Small Kindnesses

Still here, always looking for . . . 

IMG_8455

This month, hope showed up for me . . . unexpectedly . . . in many small kindnesses.

When we lost our pup, Jenny, last week, I wasn't quite expecting the outpouring of love and support I received. All of your lovely and supportive blog comments brought me to tears, for example. Special notes and cards and emails from friends did the same. People inquiring about JoJo and how she was adjusting . . . opened the flood gates . I fell apart completely when a dear friend made a donation in honor of Jenny -- one of the most touching things that has ever happened to me. 

So. Many. Kindnesses.

I "collected" all those kindnesses in my heart, and someday I'll be able to pass them on to someone else who needs one. And that, my friends, is . . . hope.

Collecting kindnesses . . . and then sharing them with others in need . . . is what hope is all about.
It's what keeps us going.
It's what helps us keep others going.
Spread the kindnesses, grow the hope.

IMG_8410

Earlier this week I came across this poem, which seems to say the same thing (only more beautifully):

How It Might Continue
Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Wherever we go, the chance for joy,
whole orchards of amazement --

one more reason to always travel
with our pockets full of exclamation marks,

so we might scatter them for others
like apple seeds.

Some will dry out, some will blow away,
but some will take root

and grow exuberant groves
filled with long thin fruits

that resemble one hand clapping --
so much enthusiasm as they flutter back and forth

that although nothing's heard
and though nothing's really changed,

people everywhere for years to come
will swear that the world

is ripe with applause, will fill
their own pockets with new seeds to scatter.

=====

I thank you all for sharing your kindnesses (your "exclamation marks") with me last week. I may have shed some tears -- but I was also filled with hope!

I wish you all a restful and hope-filled weekend.

=====

Today's poem is from my copy of How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, edited by James Crews, and published by Storey Publishing, 2021. For more information about today's poet, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, click here.


Blasting You With Poetry: 2022, Week 3

April is National Poetry Month.

Screen Shot 2022-04-01 at 7.52.15 AM

To celebate, Bonny, Kat, Sarah, and I will be sharing poetry with you each Thursday in April. This week we're sharing . . . poems about forgiveness.

=====

Personally, I've been working hard at forgiveness for the last few years.
It's . . . tricky business.

There's the "easy" kind of forgiveness - the kind most of us think about first when we think of the concept. Y'know  . . . when someone genuinely apologizes for something they've done or said, and you can say, "Okay. I forgive you." And life goes on.

If only it were always like that.

But, it's often . . . not. Sometimes the apology isn't genuine. Sometimes people won't acknowledge or admit they have done anything to harm you in the first place. Or they're clueless about the fact that they did. Or they just won't give an apology. Or . . . sometimes you're too hurt to accept it. Sometimes, forgiveness is a "solo act". . . when we finally forgive someone for hurting us, and then move on from that relationship. And sometimes we just need to forgive . . . ourselves.

 Like I said . . . tricky business.

"It's not an easy journey, to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place, because it frees you."
                                            --- Tyler Perry

The poem I'm going to share today isn't about forgiveness, exactly. But it does remind me of the power . . . of those "solo acts" of forgiveness. How we can forgive on our own, and move forward from a freer place. Folding whatever happened - and our forgiveness of it -- into our lives. The same. But also different.

=====

The Cure
Albert Huffstickler

We think we get over things.
We don't get over things.
Or say, we get over the measles
but not a broken heart.
We need to make that distinction.
The things that become part of our experience
never become less a part of our experience.
How can I say it?
The way to "get over" a life is to die.
Short of that, you move with it,
let the pain be pain,
not in the hope that it will vanish
but in the faith that it will fit in,
find its place in the shape of things
and be then not any less pain but true to form.
Because anything natural has an inherent shape
and will flow towards it.
And a life is as natural as a leaf.
That's what we're looking for:
not the end of a thing but the shape of it.
Wisdom is seeing the shape of your life
without obliterating (getting over) a single
instant of it.

=====

Today's poem is from my copy of Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems, edited by Phyllis Cole-Dai and Ruby R. Wilson, and published by Grayson Books, 2017. For more information about today's poet, Albert Huffstickler, click here.

=====

Be sure to visit Bonny, Kat, and Sarah today to read more poetry about forgiveness.

 


Bringing You Up To Speed

Although it might not seem like I am . . .  
(because I haven't mentioned knitting since finishing the big brown blob) . . .
I am knitting.

I just haven't been talking about my knitting.

It's time to bring you up to speed!
I'm knitting this shawl in this yarn . . . 

IMG_8427

And things are moving right along.
It's been a pretty fun knit so far, including all my most favorite things about knitting:
Color!
Texture!
Wool!

And after getting through that first, rather l-o-n-g slip stitch section (which, I'll admit, did get to be a bit of a slog), I've really had fun mixing the sections up, "sampler" style.

Well.

I was.

Until I hit the last of the slip stitch sections . . . and discovered that it's really linen stitch (which is, technically, a slip stitch pattern). While I really love slip stitch patterns, I am (gulp) . . . not a fan of linen stitch. It's so (deceivingly) simple. But it kicks my butt every time. (PAY ATTENTION, Kym. I tell myself. Just pay attention to what you're doing. It's an easy, every-other-stitch pattern, on repeat. And yet. . . kicks. my. butt!) So things came to a real slow-down over the weekend when I realized I had a linen stitch situation on my hands!

IMG_8428

(There was a rip-back of several rows. Sigh.) I'm in the groove again, though. Ever closer to the finish line.

So. There we are.
Consider yourselves . . . up to speed!

=====

How about YOU? What are you making these days?

 


Read With Us: Young Mungo

IMG_8289

I have the great pleasure today . . . of trying to convince you to pick up a copy of Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart . . . so you can Read With Us this spring.

58891551

As I was Googling around, looking for book reviews and analyses of the book to share with you, I stumbled onto this little one-and-a-half minute YouTube promotional piece from Douglas Stuart himself (for Lighthouse Bookshop). And - trust me here - he can explain the basic premise of the book (in his very charming accent) much better than I ever could.

So, here. I'll just start by letting Douglas Stuart do the talking . . .  

I do hope you'll Read With Us!

  • For a longer summary description of the book, this one from Hamilton Cain on the Oprah Daily site is particularly good.
  • For a quick review of the book, here's a good one from NPR. (The New York Times and Washington Post also have excellent reviews of the book, if you have access to a subscription).
  • Lastly, here's an Ari Shapiro NPR interview with author Douglas Stuart. It's a short interview (only 8 minutes), and if you give it a listen, I think you'll be even more tempted to pick up a copy and Read With Us (because Stuart compares his character development with textile design -- and any fiber-lovers will swoon a little bit).

The book is currently available on Amazon in hardback ($23.99), Kindle ($9.45) or Audible versions (1 credit). I imagine your local bookstore (should you be fortunate enough to have one) would offer the book at similar prices. The book will also be available at most libraries, although the hold list might be daunting. 

Our Read With Us book discussion day will be coming up on Tuesday, June 7. Bonny, Carole, and I will each post discussion questions on our blogs that day, and then - later in the evening (7:00 pm Eastern time zone) - we'll be hosting a live book discussion/meet-up on Zoom.

C'mon along! 
Read With Us!

=====

One More Thing . . . 

I found this Glaswegian dictionary while reading Shuggie Bain. Although I didn't find the Glaswegian dialect used in the book to be a barrier (I could pick up meaning through context with no problem), I did find the dictionary helpful - and fun - to refer to in deciphering some of the more obscure terms.