Staying Tuned to The Muse


“Wild Birds in My Head”  by the author

I’m always staying tuned for ideas (see my post “Where my Ideas Come From”  ) but sometimes they pursue me- relentlessly.  Think about wild birds flapping in your head endlessly or like someone tugging on your apron strings constantly.  Yes, the ruckus will go away eventually, but not entirely.  The inspiration will just go to someone else to be manifested and then pretty soon your muse will give up on you all together and you will be very lonely.



The poem tugged on my apron strings

Begging for attention

When I ignored it

It crept into the kitchen of my mind

Rattling the pots and pans with such a clatter

I could bear it no longer

“Stop!”I cried

“Don’t you know I wasn’t an English major?”

“Find someone else to write you!”

But the poem persisted with such a fuss

That I relented,

Sat down and wrote it,

Then kicked it out the door to the internet

Sighing with relief

Until I felt another tug

on my apron strings.

Poetry Readings & ADD

‘Well, write poetry, for God’s sake, it’s the only thing that matters.’

e. e. cummings

I’ve been writing poetry as a practice for over a year now.  It seemed to be a natural progression to attend poetry readings.  My first was in November and then I attended two this past weekend as part of a local poetry festival.  I haven’t been very successful thus far.

As I’ve aged, I’ve become increasingly ADD.  Sitting and listening for long stretches of time is torturous.  When I was teaching middle school, I always kept in mind those students like me, varying activities & interspersing periods of moving around in the classroom. In the adult world, most of the time there are not those opportunities.

Luckily at the end of both readings I attended this weekend, the poets were very animated, funny and irreverent, and provided material I could relate to.

Here is a glimpse into an ADD brain during a poetry reading……


The speaker’s words begin to melt together

the chair feels increasingly uncomfortable

my lower back aches

I sit up straight, change position

Then as I close my sleepy eyes

I feel the secret portal of my brain woosh shut

allowing no more in

Come on, you can do this, I say to myself

Too late.  

Words, sentences, phrases rain down on me

shedding like water off a duck’s back

forming rivulets, then puddles at my feet, then rivers

that flow into the vast ocean of uncomprehended language

I nudge my friend in the seat to my left

I’m done, I say

She says, one more speaker then we get tamales

I sigh and wait for the tamales.


Watching the Winter Olympics


Is it just me?  or maybe it’s because this is the first time in a few years we have gotten Channel 8, the channel that broadcasts the Olympics.  Whatever the case, I have been spending an inordinate amount of time viewing the Olympics in Peyong Chang and have been so impressed!  (I sketch on the commercials.)

CartWheels on Couch

snow-1283525_1920When I watch them on TV

in my warm house

those athletes a world away

flying through the air

turning and turning

head over heels

sliding and spinning

on boards and blades

I am awed

and amazed


who never learned to do a cartwheel

does them now on the couch

each time they land

with their Olympic smiles



Weekly Photo Challenge- Beloved, There’s No Place Like Home

'11 ski, house, summer 030
Spring 2011

This year marks the 25th anniversary of living in my home, a 100-year-old farmhouse in rural Oregon.  When I moved in May of 1993 with my then husband and 6-year old son, I thought we had made a huge mistake.  It was overgrown, musty and dirty from the previous owners who smoked. The interior was dark and depressing (it doesn’t get worse than old brown shag carpet).  We froze the first two winters.  Over the years lots of changes were made mostly by our own hands.  The place is now warm, bright, & inviting.  The now ex-husband departed years ago for a younger model and a better man has been with me for the last 18 years   My son has grown up and made a life for himself.  In the meantime, my roots have grown deep here.  This is my beloved home.





I have no granite countertops

nor hardwood floors

an old white electric range

and portable dishwasher

do the cooking and the dishes


The floral wallpaper

peeling in places lines the walls

above the yellow wainscot

A shiny red woodstove

on a brick hearth

warms the large kitchen


The floor plan is ramshackle

added on as the needs of owners changed

during 100 years of occupation


More than a house

it is a vessel of memories

of people’s lives

including my own


Some would call it out of date

I would agree

but I like out of date

memories of simpler times

when life moved slower

the center of activity the kitchen

rather than an electric device


Yes, I don’t have granite countertops

nor hardwood floors

but the food here is good

and the table invites one to sit 

for a cup of tea and conversation


I go about my tasks with contentment

and with satisfaction

knowing that this is the place

I call home

Bandit & Dougan


Untold Stories

Upstairs in my studio is a jumble of old photographs and boxes of slides from my youth in shoe boxes beneath a work table.  Those of you from the “pre-digital” age might relate to this. When my son was born over thirty years ago I changed my ways and carefully IMG_0067documented his life and our life as a family in tidy photo albums- until he left home.  Currently, my photos are all on my cell phone or floating in “The Cloud.”  Now and again I think that I should go through and sort out my old photos into albums.  But then I ask “Why?” I’m not famous.  I have no grandchildren.

They have no meaning other to myself and will mostly be recycled as with my physical body.  Maybe if I’m lucky some will wind up in some artist’s collage.

Shoe Boxes

When I die he will find them

Decades of my life

Stored in shoe boxes upstairs

Hundreds of captionless photos tucked in envelopes

Slides stacked neatly in folding Kodak boxes

Captured by a cheap camera

In eager hands

They illustrate the stories

That have largely gone untold

The forces of my life

That sanded me smooth on the inside,

Carved on the surface

Experiences of a young woman

Seeking adventure

And a place at the world’s table

When he finds them

He will see a younger me

With unnamed friends and unnamed lovers

Unnamed mountains

Unnamed rivers


He will see walruses basking on rocks,

But not hear their music

Cabins, but not feel their warmth

Trails, but not know their destinations

My stories will die with me

Melding into the ethos

He will never know my joy

My youthful dreams

My pain and disappointments

The person before Mother

The me before you

Celebrating Winter Solstice 2017

sunrise-1756274_1920Here we are, December 21, 2017, the shortest day of the year or the longest night depending on how you look at it.  For centuries ancient peoples have celebrated this event.  It is a time of reflection and hope.  The light will be returning again.  It is no accident that Roman Emperor Constantine in 336 AD chose Christ’s birth to be celebrated around this event.  Before this date, there was no history of Christmas being celebrated, but there were festivals around the Winter Solstice. (For an interesting history of Christmas click here).

My long-time women friends and I had our annual gathering yesterday.  We shared a meal, poetry, and stories together.  As usual, it was lovely.  Here is a poem I wrote for the event…


The pages turned

one by one

and we’ve arrived at the end again

to the longest night, the chill of December

finding its way through our thick clothing


It is in these darkest days

we find each other

gathered in the warmth of our homes

sitting around cheery tables and sparkling trees

enjoying the warmth of the hearth

leaving what we cannot control to its fate.


Revel in the music

Enjoy the fruits of the kitchen

Marvel in the twinkle of the colored lights


For the flowers lay sleeping

beneath their earthen quilts

waiting to be tended

when the light finally returns



by Alanna Pass



There is No Magic

fairy-2573105_1280During a little informal open studio I had last weekend at my home I found myself growing increasingly uncomfortable with the accolades some wonderful friends were heaping upon me.   “You’re so creative!”  “I could never do that”.  or “I’m not creative at all.”    There was no large boulder I could crawl under so I found myself getting increasingly self-deprecating to deflect the praise.  Granted, it’s lovely to be recognized, but this is just what I do.  Everyone is creative.  You just need to pay attention to your muse.  Here is my advice to the self-described “non-artist”…


I just said


Wild hairs sprouted

I chose to tend them

Now I have flowers.

Be still




and you will have flowers