A to Z Blogging Challenge · collage

Finish My Limerick — A

There once was a woman named Annie
Whose sense of smell was uncanny
One day she was frantic –
What she smelled was GIGANTIC
(__here’s where you write your line____)


For those just stopping in, allow me to explain. For 2023, I’ve tried to post 23 words – exactly 23 words – every day. However, Saturdays have become blather-days when I write an unlimited amount of words. It’s like being on a diet and giving yourself one free day each week.

Also on Saturdays, I try to use the Linda Hill’s Stream of Consciousness prompt, which this week is “‘antic.’ Use it as a word or find a word that contains it.

AND, for April, I’m doing the A-to-Z Challenge. I plan to write the first four lines of a limerick every day and leave the last one for the readers to finish.

Lastly, I hope to post a collage that may or may not go with the limerick. You decide.

Whew! That feels like a lot to fit into one post! Blather, antic, limerick (today’s letter: A), and a collage.

I read a post yesterday from someone else participating in the A-to-Z Challenge. She had nearly finished all her posts for the month! So impressive. So not me. I’ve written seven limericks, but even the one for today I had to edit to fit in -antic words.

I’ve also done a few collages ahead of time. That Matisse quote from the other day is one I need to frame. I ordered this collage magazine called Kolaj and leafed through it. My collages in no way look like the collages in the magazine.

I feel like many of the collage artists are trying to make a statement. Their art is edgy. I often refer to mine as kitschy, but maybe whimsical is a better word.

Is kitsch art? I suppose. It’s just not considered good art — which in my head I translate into “real” art.

Other poets considered poetry by Robert W. Service (author of The Cremation of Sam McGee and a gazillion other entertaining story-poems) to be doggerel. (Doggerel definition from Merriam Webster: loosely styled and irregular in measure especially for burlesque or comic effect. also marked by triviality or inferiority). Doggerel is the poetry equivalent of kitsch.

I happen to love story poems AND Robert W. Service poems. I’ve written poetry like that.

So my poetry is doggerel and my art is kitsch.

Meh. If I like it, does it really matter?

Now help me out — go finish my limerick for me!

A to Z Blogging Challenge · Blather · Life

A-to-Z Theme

There was an occasional blogger
Who was something of a slogger
She decided to see
If she could go A-to-Z
Using finish-my-limerick fodder

It looks like I missed the Theme Reveal for the A-to-Z Challenge. I read March 12-18 as INCLUDING March 18 — which is today. When I went to the site though, it said that the theme reveal was closed.

I’m learning to take these things in stride.

Seriously, does it really matter? Does anyone really care what my theme is?

The older I get, the more I realize how few things there are that really matter.

The self-portrait exercise (from my Lenten devotional) was meant to force an eye to the basics, to the things that really matter. My 15-second self-portrait could have been drawn by any child who recognizes those basics: eyes, nose, mouth, hair.

In my room, I often stare at the row of portraits that my parents had done of their five children. The boys are all looking off to the right. My sister and I are looking at the artist. Mine is the only one with a tilt to the head.

I do that still — tilt my head. When I realize it, I upright it. I like to think, though, that the head tilt is a listening posture. Listening, and trying to understand. I do that, too.

The Stream of Consciousness Saturday word is “tape.” In my room, I often also stare at the many things I have taped here and there. On the back of the door. On the wall. I even have something taped on a piece of artwork to cover a place it’s damaged and to remind of a poem that the picture brings to mind.

Tape is a handy-dandy thing.

Back to my theme-reveal. I realized that limericks neatly fit the 23 word limit I’ve given myself most days. Especially if I let YOU finish it. Also, there’s no ache in writing a limerick. They’re light and silly. I have enough struggles in my days that I thought, maybe a month of silly — with an occasional collage thrown in — would be fun.

So starting April 1, I’ll post the first four lines of a limerick, and you can tape your answer on to finish it. The A-to-Z part will be the name of the person in the limerick. For example, “A” might begin “There once was a man named Arnold” — but I can’t really think of anything that rhymes with Arnold, can you?

And even though I missed the theme reveal, I’m revealing it today, because, you know, it doesn’t really matter. Right?


As I was going…

As I was going to Virginny, I met a Mat who was quite skinny.
Upon each hand, he wore a mitt.
Upon each mitt, a mot* was writ.
Within each mot, there was a mutt.
Inside each mitt, a hand was put.
Met. Mat. Mitt-mot-mutt.
This may mean something; I know not what.

*My new word for the day — MOT (pronounced ˈmō ). It’s short for “Bon Mot” or a pithy saying.

Here’s a mot with a mutt in it:

A mutt is couture-it’s the only one like it in the world, made especially for you.

Isaac Mizrahi

I’m a little punchy after a long day of driving yesterday. I worked 5am – 11 am, then left my house a little after noon to drive to youngest-daughter’s college where I was meeting up with oldest-daughter who was driving with me to visit middle-daughter. Got that?

I think the sun was out when I left home. After collecting daughter #1, we drove off in the snow. “Winter Advisory” signs flashed at us all along I-81.

And I had opted to drive first. Ugh.

It was slushy sloppy slippery slow driving for about 4 hours. Shortly after she took over driving, the weather and the road cleared.

I dozed.

A lot.

We didn’t meet a single Mat, skinny or otherwise. (Side note: I really do know a Mat with one “t”) No mitts, no mots, no mutts. But that was the prompt given for Stream of Consciousness Saturday: mat/met/mitt/mot/mutt.

All I could think about was going to St. Ives.

For those of you not familiar with the St. Ives riddle, here it is:

Blather · collage

The Obliviousness of Tigger

The other day I was trying to explain to someone my artistic process. It was an odd conversation from the get-go because I don’t consider myself an artist and I don’t know what my process is.

“The collages happen,” I said. “I start cutting out pictures not really knowing what the final piece will be. Somewhere along the line, it takes a turn and I’m looking for specifics. For backgrounds or animals or people. It’s like shopping for a gift for someone you love; I know it when I see it.”

Today the Stream of Consciousness writing prompt is “wild animal.” I knew immediately what wild animal I wanted to do — a tiger. I had been to the zoo a few weeks ago with my granddaughter. The tiger there fascinated me.

It was so beautiful and huge and sad, pacing back and forth along the fence at the far side of its enclosure. Padding, padding, padding, down and back, its huge paws silent and powerful.

I read the explanation at the zoo about how tigers are losing their natural habitats to human expansion. According to the World Wildlife Fund, they have lost 95% of their historical range. They are also poached and their body parts traded.

We “save” them by putting them in zoos.

So tigers — for a collage. I cut out half a dozen of them last night, then sat down this morning to create my collage.

My favorite tiger didn’t make the cut.

I mean — he made the cut from the book, a beat-up scribbled in copy of Where is Christopher? by Anne Lawrence. He didn’t make the cut for the collage. Tigger, however, did.

Oblivious Tigger. Goofy smile. Happy-go-lucky. Oh, the wonderful thing about Tiggers, right?

I think his obliviousness is less about the danger from the tiger and more about the greater plight of the tiger, don’t you think?

It would be so easy to extrapolate this to humans. We are oblivious to the plights of our fellow human beings.

It would be so easy to jump on a soapbox about this, but I will be the first to admit my own obliviousness and my ignorance.

It feels like too much for me to take on.

I will pad back and forth in my enclosure.

And pray.

Lord, help me to see.

Blather · collage

A Sunflower from Maggie

In 2022, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston decommissioned this piece by Georgia O’Keeffe and sold it at auction to benefit acquisitions for the museum. However, it fell short of the $6-8 million estimate of what it would bring in, selling for a mere $4.8 million.

I heard on the news the other day that Manchester United, the soccer team, was for sale. The price was in the billions. $4.5 billion? $5 billion? $8 billion? I can’t fathom numbers that high.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the price of eggs.

Mimic the master attempt #2 — I tried to make a collage version of “A Sunflower from Maggie.”

This will not win a prize. Every time I try to collage I learn something from my frustrations.

  1. Glue stick is sticky, messy, and dries too quickly.
  2. Mod-Podge is sticky, messy, and makes the paper buckle and curl.
  3. Art requires infinite patience — and I’m sadly lacking.
  4. Art requires time — and I’m sadly lacking that too. I’m surrounded by far more important things I should be doing, but I’m stuck. So I cut up books. Sheesh.
  5. Prestigious artists earn their prestige. I doubt anyone just wakes up one morning and starts creating masterful art. It takes practice, time, patience, and maybe some Mod-Podge and glue sticks.

When I look at other collage-art, it’s very different from mine which makes me think I’m not doing it right.

But it’s mine.

And I like it.


Blather · collage · Februllage

House, Home, Property

In America the word “home” is a synonym for “house“; it is a traveling concept, one which you carry around with you — your home is wherever you happen to be living. One might speak of a “development of new homes” in America; in England, such a phrase would be nonsensical, because a house, in England, is merely a “house”; “home” is an altogether broader concept, implying rootedness and long residence.

Ruth Brandon, A Capitalist Romance (1977)

I guess I’m not as American as I thought.

My parents bought an old farm in 1967. At that point in my life, I had lived on four different army bases and I have memories from two of them. My roots, however, are here, on this piece of property.

And they are deep.

When I first heard the concept of “thin places” — that Celtic-Christian idea of physical locations where the distance between heaven and earth is barely perceptible — I immediately thought of this place, from the river to the crest of the hill, where I am rooted and from which I draw strength.

It goes beyond my parents’ property. It’s this community, the streets in this town, the shores of this lake. It’s the seasons here — the rain, the snow, the blaze of color in autumn, the long days of summer, the short days of winter. It’s the fog that covers the road some mornings. It’s the whitetail deer. It’s the peepers in spring.

I move away. I come back. I move away. I come back. I’m here to stay.

“I worry about you,” my sister said to me the other day, “all alone in that big house.”

No, no — don’t worry about me.

I’m home.

23 words · Blather · collage · Februllage

Shoes — Heart — Dream — Blather

Saturday. Blatherday.

The Februllage prompt is SHOES. And I put a shoe — singular — in my collage. Fail.

The collage is way too busy. It reflects my mind and my life. Semi-chaotic.

But a girl can dream, right? I needed that little girl, looking ahead to something beautiful, to appear in my collage.

It’s been a hard week.

Honestly, I don’t even feel like blathering.

Let me focus on some positives.

  1. My daughter-in-law came to where I work and gave a presentation on silos. It was so good and so well-received. I wrote 23 words about it in a post called Letters of Introduction, but I forgot some of the letters that go after her name — CEO. She’s the CEO of the organization where she works. Those are pretty important letters — I can’t believe that I forgot them!
  2. Game Night — Last Sunday night we had a family game night via Zoom. Honestly, one of the good things that came out of this pandemic was on-line group games. Maybe they existed before the pandemic, but they’re more prolific now, right? Despite some technical issues, family members in St. Kitts, British Columbia, and various parts of New York were able to join in the fun.
  3. Cake — I’m such a sucker for cake. I heart cake. Yesterday at work, we had some drummed-up excuse for a staff get-together to improve morale. And there was cake. It may not have improved overall morale, but it WAS cake — chocolate cake with thick creamy vanilla frosting.

Next week — better blather.

Blather · Leaning In


Here it is, another Saturday, another Stream of Consciousness writing prompt (perfection), another day when I allow myself to write more than 23 words — in other words, another day of blather.

I’ll admit that I’m one of those people who wants things to be perfect. Seriously, are there people who don’t? Doesn’t everyone like that feeling of having done something really well — in fact, so well that it falls into the realm of perfection. I mean, I get satisfaction from a perfectly folded towel, a perfectly baked cookie, a perfect question (you know one when you hear one), a perfect answer (easily recognized as well), a perfect evening spent with a friend.

Imperfection plagues me.

I read a poem by Brian Doyle earlier this week in which he talked about rejection. “Learn to be neighborly with no,” he said, and I thought, I need to learn to be neighborly with mistakes; specifically, MY mistakes.

Seriously, who wants mistakes as neighbors? Who wants to invite them in for a cup of coffee and a chat?


It’s so much easier to show grace to others than ourselves.

Perfectionism is almost a cancer. Strike that — it IS a cancer.

But what’s the cure?

Leaning into imperfection.

God help me.

family · Grief · Life

I Remember Mama

I’ve had times when I wanted to throw in the towel. One tiny bit of advice carried me through those better than any other.

Children are a lot of work. Large families have a unique set of challenges.

For instance, when a family grows from two to three children, mom doesn’t have enough hands when walking to the library with the children. She can hold the hand of one child on her right and the other on her left, but where does the third child go?

When a family grows from three children to four children, they can’t all ride in one car, unless, I suppose, they have a bench seat in the front, which we didn’t.

When a family grows from five children to six children, they can’t fit into a mini-van. Driving a 15-passenger van is overkill, but there aren’t many choices or 12 passenger vans out there.

I had eight children. My mother-in-law had thirteen. Thirteen!

One of the first times I went to their house, she took me by the hand and we walked to their large vegetable garden. I still remember the feel of her hands, calloused and strong. She worked so hard. She earned those hands.

She was a hugger. My own mother was not a hugger. Sometimes huggy people feel awkward to those of us who haven’t always had those outward displays of affection. But it seemed such a natural extension of who she was.

Basically, she was amazing and made everything look easy.

One day I asked her when I was struggling with my two or three or six children — “How do you do it?”

In her sweet, sweet way, she said, “Oh, Sally, you just do.”

You just do. Those are hefty words to live by.

And honestly, I have failed at just doing sometimes too many times.

Still, that simple exchange was one of the most unforgettable conversations in my life.

She passed away this week.

But I remember Mama.

Mama (R) with her mother (center) and brother (L)
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.