Blather · Life · poetry


The following blather is brought to you by “Stream of Consciousness Saturday.” This is the day of the week I give myself permission to write more than 23 words.

Last Saturday, I promised a reverse poem (one that can be read top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top). Good golly, I stared at my scribbles too long. And then, came up with a reverse poem that’s too short and a little awkward. But, oh well. Here you go:

History is boring
Some people actually think that
All those dates and foreign-sounding names matter
And eccentric people worm their way into
Those stories where the world changes
I find history fascinating

Meh — not the best, but I’m going to check the “Done” box and move on.

I spent a few hours yesterday in the research library.

I wrote a post called The Negative Split not too long ago. I think I research in negative-split mode.

I got to the library a few minutes after my scheduled appointment. (Yes, we have to schedule appointments at the research library now. And wear masks.)

I had given myself two hours. For the first 45 minutes or so, I leafed through photographs, not really finding anything I wanted. Or maybe I did. A few new names, therefore a few new rabbit trails. (Side-question for you: What could the nickname “Dell” be short for, for a man in the late 1800s or early 1900s?)

The librarian left to find a few more boxes for me. I feel a little bad. She’s new on the job, and I kept saying Joe (the former librarian) did this or brought me that. Comparison to a predecessor has to be the worst.

Anyway, she brought me some boxes that Joe had never brought me. Suddenly I was lost in old correspondence and organizational reports. I looked at the clock and saw that I had been there well over my two hours.

“Let me just look at one more thing,” I said to the librarian. I was in my groove — researching faster and stronger than I had been at the beginning.

“Do you think you have a photograph of this?” I asked her about a specific place in town. She started hunting.

I kept reading.

And searching.

And wishing time would just stop long enough that I could pursue these many lines of inquiry.

I snapped a photo of a bit of correspondence because it had made me laugh out loud in the quiet of the library.

“Yours till Pancakes are a thing of the past.”

I could have spent the next three weeks looking for the pancake story that inspired that closing sentiment, but I’ll almost bet it’s an inside joke between two men that I will never know. Plus, it was way past time for me to go.

But if I had those three weeks to spend, who knows what other little stories I would have uncovered?

And I would have had great fun doing it.

You can count on it.

Grief · poetry · Writing

Ordinarily, I Just Blather

I lied
I promised a poem and blather
I may just blather
I won’t give you a poem
Not today
I can do this thing
Next Saturday

Yesterday, the prompt was “reversal” and, like an idiot, I all-too-quickly decided I would write a reverse poem. I used the word reversal instead of reverse because it actually shows up that way in the interwebs.

Last night I sketched out my idea — two opposing thoughts to put at each end with a few middle-ish words. This morning, I filled that page with words and arrows and crossing-things-out and carets to insert new words. It was a mess. It definitely needs more work.

So I got out my computer and stream-of-consciously wrote the intro to this post — which CAN be read forward and backwards, but it’s not really two opposing ideas.

Next Saturday, I hope to have a worthy poem to accompany my blather.

If we were having coffee this morning, I would bore you with all the new words and concepts I learned this week.

Check out this one: AESTIVATION. It has two definitions. In zoology, it’s a state of dormancy during hot weather, as compared with hibernation, which is that dormant state in cold weather. Snakes in the desert aestivate.

But the second definition is the one I fell in love with. In botany, aestivation is the arrangement of petals and sepals in a bud before it opens.

I love flowers

We have words for the coolest things.

I also learned the concept “Homo Faber” which means “Man the Maker.” One definition I found talked about man making tools to “control” their environment. I prefer to think about it more along the lines of Dorothy Sayers in her book The Mind of the Maker. There she talks about us being made in the image of God and the only thing we really knew about God at that point in the scriptures is that He created. We were made to be creative.

After my father passed away in 2019, I had some pretty serious struggles. In the spring of 2020, I found myself going for frequent walks to think — but more and more my thoughts were dark and morbid. Finally, I reached out for help and found a mental health counselor. We talked A LOT — and we still talk. I also admitted my struggles to my primary care provider who prescribed an anti-depressant. It helped, too.

There were a few times that I tried to wean myself off the anti-depressant, but quickly saw the dark road again. Then, this past fall, I found that I was forgetting to take it. I tried a bunch of different systems to help me remember, but none of them worked.

And the truth was that this time I was not seeing the darkness. Instead, I found myself feeling creative again. I mean, look at me! I’m writing here again!

I talked to my counselor about it. “I think I’m doing really well,” I told her. I showed her some of the Christmas gifts I had made — MADE — for my co-workers. “Do you think it’s okay if I just stop the anti-depressant? I promise to start again if I see the darkness or feel the darkness or have those dark, dark thoughts. I just refilled the prescription so I have a supply ready.”

She gave me her blessing — with a thousand caveats, of course, as I presume she must. She confirmed that the anti-depressant could also stifle creativity. I would have talked to my primary care provider, too, but she has since moved on to another city.

I say all this not to give my own blessing to anyone who stops taking a prescribed medication. Always have someone else in your loop who can monitor you and keep an eye on you!

I say all this because I feel alive again. Grief threw me into a period of aestivation. Now I’m ready for my petals to start opening.

This post has been brought to you by true Stream-of-Consciousness writing (thanks, Linda Hill). 49% of me says that I still have time to delete, but the 51% wins. I’m leaving the blather in the hopes it will be what someone else today needs to hear.

23 words · poetry · Writing

23 Words

“Hey, Sally, you’re a writer, aren’t you?”

A guy asked me this at the front desk the other morning. I’m not exactly sure what he had heard about me or where. I hesitated.

“Umm… I’ve done some writing,” I said.

“Do you have a blog? Do you have followers?” he asked.

Is that what makes a person a writer? A blog? Followers?

“I used to write every day,” I told him, “but once I dropped the habit, it was really hard to pick it back up.”

Is that true, or what? I don’t care what the habit is, but once you give yourself permission to break it, it’s all downhill.

Every diet I have ever tried has fallen prey to just-this-once permission.


“I have a plan for writing next year,” I told the man. “I’m going to write 23 words every day.”

He looked at me like I had just said I was going to hop on one foot barefoot in the snow every single day. Problem #1: there’s no snow here in July therefore I couldn’t possibly do THAT every day.

“23?” he repeated back to me.

“Yes! I can write 23 words,” I said.

He looked puzzled. “But why 23? Is that like the 23rd Psalm or something?”

I laughed. “No, because it’s 2023. And 23 well-chosen words sounds like a good challenge, and one I can do.”

“Just 23?”

“That’s the challenge — don’t you see? To choose 23 words — just 23 — no more, no less,” I replied.

“What are you going to do with them?” he asked, clearly still bewildered.

“I’ll post them on my blog,” I said.

“You know, some people just write in a journal,” he said.

I sighed.

I DO write in a journal. Every day. Journalling is, for me, a form of remembering and processing. It’s not writing.

Not like 23 words.

Hopefully this will go better for me than my last personal challenge.

Anyone care to join me?

A sample —

23 words I wrote today after a busy, busy day at the gym where I work:

So many visitors!
In that sea of unfamiliar faces
it is nice
to see a familiar one
a smile
a wave
a friend

poetry · prayer

Honest Prayer

We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us.

C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm

Lord, tonight I’m tired and weak —
Accept these unpolished words I speak.
I pray for peace but I sing of woe
You watched it all.
I know You know
The anger,
The blindness,
Unholy portrayal
Of what it means to love You, Lord.
We fumble and fume in our discord —
As some say, “Hey, we’re doing this for You!”
But I say they’re liars because it’s not true.
For You are Truth and You are Light
Please, Lord, guide us through this night.

Life · poetry


In the un-
a (truer) story
is told
that may
(or may not)
and warmth


we die
are reborn

pulled apart
by the sharp beak
and pointy talons
of a wee bird

Do I blame it on spring and the return of the birds —
These thoughts of “No Roses for Harry” —
Or is it
Simply the way my knowledge of Thomas Merton
Is unraveling —

Looping around
Traveling back
Covering the same themes
From different perspectives
Different times
Different media

Stories retold
Made new



apologies to e e cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the brownly roasting spirit of turkey
and a scarlet celebration of cranberries; and for everything
which is edible which is edifying which is yum

(we who are scattered gather today,
and this is thanksgiving; this is the wealth
of abundance of family and friends: and of the glad
long table illimitably mirth)

how should smelling tasting touching seeing
consuming any—lifted from the yuck
of all nothing—food becoming Eucharist*
not invoke Gratitude?

(now the tastebuds of my tongue awake and
now the fullness of my heart overflows)


(e e cummings original poem)

*The word “Eucharist” is a transliteration of the Greek word eucharistia, which is itself a translation of the Hebrew word berekah. All three words have the meaning of thanksgiving, or praise for the wonderful works of God. (from:

Faith · poetry

Morning Hymn

I bought this book a few years ago. It has been waiting patiently for me.

Songs of Three Centuries, edited by John Greenleaf Whittier.

I didn’t go looking for it. The book found me.

Things I like about the book:

  • Marbled book boards. Isn’t it pretty?
  • Inscription — I’m a sucker for inscriptions, especially really old ones. 140 years ago, MHW suspected that Emma would love the poems inside and gave her the book for Christmas. She held it in her hands and leafed through it, knowing she would come back to some of the poems over and over again.
  • Poems — I really love the language of older poetry.

About a month ago, I started reading a poem (or two) a day from it.

Then I got stuck on this one.

Go ahead. Sing it out loud to the tune of Old 100th. It’ll be stuck in your head, too.

Morning Hymn
by Thomas Ken

Awake, my soul! and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Wake, and lift up thyself, my heart;
And with the angels bear thy part,
Who all night long unwearied sing
High praise to the eternal King.

All praise to Thee, who safe hast kept.
And hast refreshed me whilst I slept:
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake,
I may of endless life partake.

Lord, I my vows to thee renew;
Disperse my sins as morning dew;
Guard my first springs of thought and will,
And with thyself my spirit fill.

Direct, control, suggest, this day
All I design, or do, or say,
That all my powers, with all their might,
In thy sole glory may unite.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

You’re welcome.