Monthly Archives: February 2017

Begin Here



In December I made a decision to begin yoga teacher training. I signed up immediately – months in advance of the February 22nd start date. Every yoga class I took was preparation for the teacher training. I ordered the suggested text  Journey Into Power – by Baron Baptiste, purchased a deluxe yoga mat, began a yoga journal and marked each class on my calendar.

Now, less than a week away from the first class, I look at the schedule and wonder whether I can do it. Now each section of the course material seems daunting, the requirements challenging and my age an impediment.  Do I imagine the new pain in my knee or the tightness in my lower back? Have I made a mistake?

Then this morning I received an email

Hello yogis,

Power Yoga Training starts next week! The teacher training team is excited to gather together with you and get this journey started.

Once you make a decision, the world conspires to make it happen.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I read on, the excitement returned. I could do this. I will do this. The Emerson quote reminded me of all the beginnings I had made and all the joy they had brought me.  The secret – whether it’s a novel, a marriage or a pile of dirty dishes: First you begin. Then you continue.



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The Day I Took 2nd Place at the Dog Show

In honor of all the dogs competing in the Westminster Dog Show


Arlo – Best Dog Ever

I put on two pair of socks and three pair of sweat pants and took Arlo for his pre-dawn walk. It was 3 degrees. Arlo is built for that kind of weather. My lips froze. When we got back I filled my backpack with the things I thought I would need at the dog show and dressed like the handlers I had seen on TV – dark colors to show off the white dog, sensible shoes, hair tied back so it didn’t fly around and distract the judges or the dog. I loaded the jeep with dog, crate and backpack and headed to Point of Rocks.


When I arrived there were dogs everywhere. All of the handlers looked the same. They had big hair – like my Aunt Gladys – they wore spandex pants and pullovers with pictures of Samoyeds embroidered on them. They were all named Carol or Judy. With the help of two volunteers I managed to get Arlo registered for the show. They gave me an armband with a number 12 on it.

“Put this around your left arm. You can take your dog into the judging area so he can get used to it. Have fun!”

For the next two hours Arlo and I walked, trotted, and stacked our little hearts out. Once I tried to leave the ring and Marge (Arlo’s breeder) screamed at me “Get back in there. You can’t leave until you are dismissed.” I obeyed. Marge is quite a commanding presence. That day she was wearing white, fluffy earmuffs that looked like they had been made from a badly behaved Samoyed.

Marge had thirty minutes to puff and fluff Arlo before the judging began – combing and brushing – talking a mile a minute. Arlo took it all much better than I did.

“Number 12 to the ring. Number 12 to the ring.”

“Oh my God. We’re number 12, Arlo.”

Marge lifted Arlo from the table and I made my way awkwardly to the ring, fumbling to secure my armband with a rubber band while guiding Arlo through an obstacle course of dogs and bitches.

“Here we go, Arlo. Just do whatever that dog in front of you does.”

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Contributor’s Note

I was first introduced to Michale Martone and his Contributors Notes in Marj Hahne’s  workshop at the IWWG Summer Conference.  After meeting Martone – in the flesh – last week at AWP I decided to try to write some of my own Contributor’s Notes.  Try it.  It’s fun.

My Contributor’s Note  images

Brenda Mantz was born many husbands ago in Kings Daughters Hospital in Norfolk. Virginia. Her mother was there too and it was the closest she ever was to her daughter. They had been inseparable for nine months and Frankie May was happy when they cut the cord. While Brenda was being born her father Virginius was at the Gloryhole sifting through plastic baskets looking for the shells with three peanuts, cramming nickels into the jukebox and drinking salted beer. Brenda once had her knuckles crushed playing shuffleboard at the Gloryhole where she excelled at finding three nutted peanuts

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Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love.

Charles M. Schulz

The last original Peanuts comic strip was published 17 years ago today. Poor Charlie Brown’s undying love for the little red-haired girl was never returned in the strip.


Love comes in many forms. The look in the eyes of the bull dog that sat in front of the DeltaBlue and SaraBlue at Pups in the Park were filled with love.


DeltaBlue’s attempt to get the puppy Aurora to play with her – sadly unrequited.


My hope for you – this day before Valentines Day – is that your love not be unrequited.  But remember, there is always peanut butter.


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Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln

From time to time we all experience bouts of melancholy. Sometimes we even enjoy it.  Who doesn’t like sad melodies or tear-jerking melodramas. For most of us these spells are temporary.

This was not the case with our 16th President whose birthday we observe today. Many of Abraham Lincolns’s close friends noted his melancholy.

He often wept in public and recited maudlin poetry. He told jokes and stories at odd times—he needed the laughs, he said, for his survival.

Strange isn’t it that he was quoted as saying “Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Personally I believe he would have been much happier if he owned a couple of Samoyeds.img_4131

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The Poet as Activist

This week I have been surrounded by poets at AWP17.  One of the many gifts I received was a panel marking W.W. Norton’s publication of Adrienne Rich’s Collected Poems: 1950–2012.

The appearance of this volume makes possible a mapping, sounding, and gauging of the expansive reality—the terrain (surface), volume (depth), and climate (atmosphere)—of the poet’s incomparable career. This panel has been assembled to do just that: to describe the elements that comprise the multidimensional power of Adrienne Rich’s life and work as a resource for continued, engaged endeavor.

AWP Conference Program

Moderator Ed Pavlic’ had the challenging task of describing his friend Adrienne Rich which he did beautifully with these words: “Adrienne work focusses our attention on how we are with each other.” He meant not just how we are with our inner circle but with all of the beings who share this planet.

Jill Bialosky, Rich’s editor at W.W. Norton listed the many awards she received and one she did not accept – the 1997 National Medal for the Arts. Rich refused the award to protest the “growing concentration of power in fewer and fewer hands.”

Another panelists, Joy Harjo, described Rich as one of her ancestors. That lineage is evident in Harjo’s body of work including her most recents book of poetry  Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings and her memoir Crazy Brave.  One cannot read Harjo’s words without hearing the echo of all the disenfranchised and the silenced.

Ifullsizerendern a personal moment Rich’s middle son Pablo Conrad read one of his mother’s later poems. I am haunted by the last line.


Mockingbird shouts Escape! Escape! and would I could. I’d

fly, drive back to that house up the long hill between queen

anne’s lace and common daisyface shoulder open stuck door

run springwater from kitchen tap drench tongue

palate and throat throw window sashes up screens down

breathe in mown grass pine-needle heat

manure, lilac unpack brown sacks from the store:

ground meat, buns, tomatoes, one big onion, milk and orange juice

iceberg lettuce, ranch dressing potato chips, dill pickles

the Caledonian-Record Portuguese rose in round-hipped flask

open the box of newspapers by the stove reread: (Vietnam Vietnam)

Set again on the table the Olivetti, the stack

of rough yellow typing paper mark the crashed instant

of one summer’s mosquito on a bedroom door

voices of boys outside proclaiming twilight and hunger

Pour iced vodka into a shotglass get food on the table

sitting with those wild heads over hamburgers, fireflies, music

staying up late with the typewriter falling asleep with the dead



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I was awakened by the Snow Moon at 3:30 this morning – or it might have been heartburn from an unusually rich meal I consumed at Acadiana.  The fried green tomatoes, corn pudding and grits in combination with the full moomotivatorbb8a3309d970aac8b6df1660690478907dc392b7n kindled vivid dreams that vanished before I could record them. In a few hours I will return to the DC Convention Center for day 2 of AWP17 and expect to be overwhelmed again by the number of writers and the variety of writing programs I will encounter there.  I dream of being a writer but until recently those dreams were eclipsed by the necessity of earning a living. Retirement has opened up a world of possibilities ranging from yoga teacher training to ceramics classes.

My challenge now is to to protect my dream of being a writer from all these seductive opportunities.

What dream are you protecting today?

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Prickly Memories

gum ball

Memories cling like resin to my tidy life:

The mole on mama’s chin;

Bangs that landed two inches above her brow

A temper that flashed when I rubbed her the wrong way

She is attached to me by an umbilical of wounds.

Piercing memories

The white dress she stitched for my Phi Mu Pledge Dance

The goodbye she waved to the back of a Greyhound bus

“I wrote you everyday in my mind” she scrawled on that last birthday card.

A single ovary produced a daughter who never bore fruit.

Who left her never to return.

More than a container of seeds.

I trace the lines on my palm and the furrow between my brow.

I revisit scars that map a lifetime.

I touch the mole on my chin.

Once removed only to return.

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