In Motion: Bellingham, Poetry, San Juan Islands, Ted Talks


Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Wow- the last day of Writers Digest Poem A Day challenge.  It was a challenge for me to pump out 30 poems in a month.  As an article and short story writer I was distracted by the length and quality of the poems I created.  The inner critic never sleeps...  Then I remembered that some poems are more about the emotion being expressed and the release that comes in writing it.  Take that you critic!  Art and exercise- or art IS exercise??  OooOoOOoooooo very deep!

Honestly, the best part about writing poems, I think, is having a place to share it.  Blogger is nice, but I have found sharing them in front of other poets at Open Mics to be very rewarding.  Fortunately for me I live in town that has at least three writers open mic groups.  Look for one in your town.  If there isn't one- start one!  Every night will be a treasure, trust me!
This poem "Soil" I shared at the Poetry Night open mic

Rock whispered to the Willow
All day soft words
lift in the breeze
moving the branches
that hang like hair

Moss covered mouth
lichen wraps the torso
grass grown 'bout the feet

Underneath worms dance
with potato bugs in black soil
-their ceiling
-the Rock's bottom

Sitting on a throne of
dark whispers
relating to the Earth
touching it constantly

If soil is wisdom,
Tree or Rock?
Which one knows more?
Which one is wiser?

The one that constantly seeks
wisdom & nourishment with its roots?
Or the one who with patience
will one day become the soil?

There is no this or that
Both will become soil again
There is only a rock that blows wisdom,
And a tree that moves in the wind...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Please Excuse Me...

So, it's the day after Thanksgiving and my gut is still feeling the hurt. The all day eating binge was uncalled for, unnecessary yet required for the full holiday experience.  If you're not in a food coma by 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, you've done something wrong!  The next morning I weighed myself. 
"SP- WHY did you do that?" you may ask.  Well, I don't know why but its done and I can't go back.  Perhaps it was curiousity, like when kids poke at dead animals with sticks. 

After keeping my weight in check for over 10 mths I discovered that 7 lbs have snuck up on me this last weigh in. WTH? I'm not happy about that at all!  There are, of course, plenty of excuses -two being the food and candy centered holidays October's Halloween and November's Thanksgiving. (It's too early to use Christmas)

Feeling all fat and a bit discouraged I went for a nice one hour walk this morning around my neighborhood. For whatever reason my mom's comments from yesterday when we were placing the ham in the cooker rolled through my mind. "Make sure you put the ham FAT SIDE up." The fat side. I felt like that ham, but I have more than one fat side. Lord help me.

I traveled down Cornwall to walk the track at the local high school.  Its a great track, wide, clean and five times around equals a mile. Simple. Easy. The sun was out. It was a beautiful Northwest winter day. So far no excuses could be found. However, as I approached the field I saw that the yard maintenance staff had place two bleachers and a large trampoline-thingy right on the track! Then I heard it- my inner dialog going at it:
First to speak up was "Evil SP": "How dumb! Someone has blocked the track in TWO places, now I can't take my walk! I'm going home!"
Then "Good SP" spoke up: "Suck it up and get ta walkin' you lazy a**!"

I stayed and walked, slightly upset that I couldn't just give up and go home... just slightly. Of course by the second lap I was already feeling better.  Exercise is good for me. Why was I looking for an excuse?

The web site "Fitness for Weight Loss" list the top five excuses for why we don't exercise:

1. There’s not enough time.
2. I don’t have enough energy.
3. I’m not motivated.
4. It’s too expensive.
5. I’m sick or injured.

Alright already, I'll walk and exercise! No excuses! Christmas is coming and THIS goose is not going to get fat... or should I say fatter. I can make time to exercise which will give me more energy and as I loose inches I'll get motivated, make more money and be less likely to get sick or injured.
It's in the bag!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holiday Ham

Happy Thanksgiving all! 

Thanksgiving is all about the traditional turkey dinner, but this year we are serving up ham.  This is the third posting of the "Mom's Holiday Ham" story.  Hard to believe my "Madrona Grove" blog has been up so long! For that I am thankful.
Whether your ham is smoked, honey glazed, bone-in, and/or spiral cut-  I wish you all a great holiday! 
     ...and leave the ends ON!  ~SPL

OK, true story:

One holiday four generations of family are all gathered together in the youngest daughter’s new home for a rare time together. This is her first time hosting a family dinner. Her mom is helping her with the ham. The daughter plops the large ham into its pan and asks the mom, “OK what do we do next?” “Well,” answered the mom, “first thing we need to do is cut off the ends of the ham, just the sides about 2 inches worth.” “Why?”, asks the daughter. “I don’t know, but my mom always did it, and her ham’s turn out great every time.”
They call the girls grandma in, “Grandma, why do you cut the ends of the ham before cooking?” “Gosh, I don’t know why. Never thought of it. MY mother always cut the ends off, so that’s how I’ve always done it. How funny.”
The three ladies quickly walk out to the living room to find the girl’s great-grandmother sitting and talking with family. “G.G. I have a question for you. Why do you cut the ends of the ham off?”

“Well, I don’t know why YOU cut the ends of the ham off, but I had to cut the ends off or it wouldn’t fit into my oven!”

It’s good to know WHY you do what you do, so that you don’t waste any ham. ;)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Going Berserk!

Saturday morning and my eight year old nephew is getting ready for his indoor soccer game. With the help of his father he gets on his uniform, shin guards, socks and shoes. All suited up and he is ready for battle! Before they leave he gives me a quick tour of the few turf burns on his knees.
“I got this one when I fell right after I kicked a goal in” Oh my little soccer warrior.
“Hold on let me brush your hair before you go”
This brought up the question: why SHOULD I brush my hair BEFORE playing soccer? Good question.
“If I look crazy maybe it will scare ‘em” -Love this kid!

His enthusiasm to out psyche the other team, reminded me of research I was doing on the ancient Vikings, specifically the elite group of warriors called berserkers. Although their weapons were more serious than spiky bed hair, the goal was to intimidate the enemy with their crazed appearance.

The name bersekr may mean "bare-sark," as in "bare of shirt" and refer to the berserker's habit of going unarmored into battle. Ynglingasaga Saga records this tradition, saying of the warriors of Óðinn that "they went without coats of mail, and acted like mad dogs and wolves" (Snorri Sturluson. Heimskringla: History of the Kings of Norway. trans. Lee M. Hollander. Austin: Univ.of Texas Press. 1964. p.10). Others have contended that the term should be read "bear-sark," and describes the animal-skin garb of the berserker. There are recorded accounts of berserkers being both shirtless and clothed in animal skins. In both cases witnesses claim that "no sword could pierce their skin" and they fought with "such madness and fury as if possessed!" Sword proof or not, a warrior who continued fighting while bearing mortal wounds would surely have been a terrifying opponent! The horrifying reputation of berserkers was so great, rumors spread that they were supernatural and given the gift of shape changing by Óðinn.

While I brushed this little berserker’s hair we talked about what it would be like to play soccer decked out in wolf fur; hot and messy. Don’t think you get much wicking ability with fur; let’s stick with a polyester blend. Berserker or not, this nephew was going to have his hair brushed. …just be one on the inside and slay them with your awesome soccer skills.

Monday, November 14, 2011

PAD: Gray Braided Gardener

Writers Digest Poem a Day challenge-- day 14

Seeds of joy
Toss from her fingertips
Green LIFE yawns awake
on the shady side of Nobles

Always in spring she is
Radiating beams of new LIFE
Kneading it into the earth
Everywhere she goes

LIFE follows her
or does she create it?
A goddess tramping through the desert
leaving behind her a forest

Friday, November 11, 2011

PAD: Playing with Sunlight

Happy 11-11-11!!
Writers Digest November "Poem A Day" challenge-  Day 11

Swimming in sunlight
thick with sounds:
voices, conversations
opinions, attitudes

Shadows stretch long
point west toward me
My soul strokes east
propelling this fish forward

What river have I fallen into?
Ocean, to river, to stream
following the scent of home
Where is my birthplace?

I say I was born
in the sunbeam itself
not the shadow
although conceived there

Baby's first sense is smell
when it begins to breathe air
New sense turns on
when sunlight strokes the face

...the smell of home imprinting on the mind.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

PAD: Here

No prompt for me today.  Just a poem.  Day NINE

How long?
How will this last?
When will we say good bye?
Our quiet moments in a failing orbit

Turned to sand
How long does it take?
Mountains worked by wind, sun, rain, snow

Stop time
Please, stop it now
All things have an end
Real love will not spoil!

Let's stay here.  Just here.
Frozen in a moment
Chasing the sun so that it never sets

Monday, November 7, 2011


Life is grand and ever changing.  My first year in Bellingham has been eventful and many personal goals have been reached.  One goal that still needs to get checked off the list: finding my own place. 

The high cost of everything has me living with my brother longer than I anticipated.  My brother was gracious enough to let me move in with him back in September 2010.  His house is nice and roomy with plenty of space for both of us and the visiting nephews that come by every other weekend.  Feeling optimistic I’ve kept my things in moving boxes all this time.  However, this summer my college student son returned to live with "me" to find work.  So now we are three. 

Then, this fall, my mom’s house sold.  After being on the market for over six months she worried that it would never sell.  When she did get a nibble things moved too quickly! Boom!  She had 30 days to find a place to live.  Her new home is all set up and ready to go …for February 2012!  Now we are four. Four people, three generations all in three bedroom/two bath home with a basement.  It happen as quick as a snap! 

Apparently, multi-generational homes have become a nationwide trend.  The high cost of living has many adult children moving back in with their parents.  The newspapers call them “Boomerang Kids”.  A recent article by National Public Radio states as jobs have disappeared and houses have been foreclosed on, many Americans are sharing space to save money. A new study by the Pew Research Center found the number of people in multi-generational households grew by 2.6 million between 2007 and 2008.   So what are we, a boomerang family?  My brother tells it like this:  everyone suddenly needed help and he was the only one with a lifeboat!  Well put. 

So for various reasons here we are.  Four people, (seven when the nephews are over), three generations, all under one roof.  So what's it like you ask?  We have issues much like the ones I remember as a kid growing up except EVERYONE is now an adult.  Its hard to keep track of whose turn it is it to do the dishes with our work schedules. We have to stagger shower time so we don’t run out of hot water, and the labeling of the food has started!  Sounds stressful.  At times it is.  The saving grace is that we don’t see each other very often. 

Space.  We need our personal space.  Space is a commodity.  We are saving money and expenses by being together but, guess what we don’t like it!  I’m starting to understand the reason why most families in America are spread out over the states.  I’ve family all over the place:  Aunts and Uncles in Minnesota, Maryland, Arizona and Hawaii, cousins in Texas, Oregon and Illinois.  Don’t get me wrong, we love each other, but from a distance.  Lets be honest, American’s in general love their independence –from each other! 

I understand now why people buy 5 acres and put their house in the middle- so they don’t have to share their fancy mustard with anyone.  It’s my mustard dammit!  I worked hard for it and I don’t want to share.  Living together at elbows length has reminded me how selfish I’ve become... over mustard.  Why?  This is a temporary moment in time that should be treasured, I keep telling myself.  Soon we will all be back in our own spaces and perhaps missing each other.  You know those short moments of having a conversation over a cup of coffee at the kitchen table.  Multi-generational living is all that, and a bag of chips! 

...Oh, um, that's MY bags of chips by the way... see my name there written in sharpie?

Friday, November 4, 2011

PAD: Life Hike

Day 4 of Writers Digest Poem A Day~
I will call it:  LIFE HIKE

Hiking a broken trail
beneath green branches
fanned out over me
blocking the sky
how close to life it feels

Hard walk atop embedded rocks
soles rub exposed roots
soil no longer covers 
sunlight filters through
spotlights on ancient ferns

Head turns right
an opening sits plumb
Door to a perspective
not yet known
Curiosity rules here

Veer towards new
step over a fallen tree
through ferns rib high
unexpected vista fills the frame

Another world
trails smooth and gentle
a river glides along
wide high blue open
...the easy way

Why have I stayed in the forest
stomping atop rocks that twist my ankles
when open fields were just off the path?

*For today’s prompt, write a poem about finding something unexpected.   Robert Lee Brewer

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

PAD: Moving Day Wish

PAD November 1st prompts:  Procrastination or Proactive

My coat needs a hook
My clothes need a dresser
My paintings need a wall
My shoes need a closet

Is there a cupboard for my food,
A refrigerator for my produce?
Is there a space for my music to fill,
A desk for me to write at?

I dream of a headboard
I dream of an area rug
I wish for new curtains
I wish for a proper coffeepot

All I need is a room warmed by love
A space lit by inspiration
Four walls and a door
Filled up by me

Poem A Day idea & rules:
" just happens to be a Tuesday, which means two prompts! For those new to the PAD challenge, you can pick one of the two prompts or do both–if that’s how you roll. Also, you can share your poem(s) for today’s prompts in the comments attached to this specific post below. Click here for the complete guidelines. Don’t stress out; I’m pretty laid back about this whole poeming experience."
-Robert Lee Brewer