To allow one’s own depth

How many times have I heard a fellow writer announce, “I don’t feel like writing today” or “I just don’t have anything to say,” only to then produce an astonishing couple of pages, pages that move the entire group to a stunned silence. Tears even.

Maybe feeling a little fatigued or muted allows surrender? And maybe that surrender allows us to mine our own depth in a productive way.

Similarly, how many times have I heard a fellow writer say before reading I don’t even know what this is or this is a bit of a ramble, only to then hear a knock-your-socks-off passage?

Such equivocating has been followed by an impressive piece of writing so often that I’ve come to view it as a signal. I sit up straighter.

Lately I find myself often saying I don’t know what this is. And I mean it. It’s not a rant or a lament. Its not memoir. It’s not a scene in a new novel. Or is it?

As creators, we hear over and over that one must go where the writing wants to take you. You might think that money is your topic, only to start writing and find that it’s sex. You might think you’re done talking about your mother, only to recall in excruciating detail something that happened fifty years ago. We do ourselves a real disservice if we ignore those directions.

To go where the writing wants to take you requires a willingness to plumb our own depths. It requires trust. Oddly, self-trust might not be as important as trust in your writers’ circle.

In a good group, the others hold your words with reverent care and comment with insight and enthusiasm. They may hear things we’re only half conscious of or link us to well-known writers in a way that enlarges confidence and self-awareness. We come away feeling more capable.

And if what we have shared is personally painful, we also feel heard. This is deeply therapeutic. These circles are not therapy groups and healing is not the goal, but inching toward wholeness is in fact a secondary benefit and a welcome one.

* * * *

After two grey weeks in Los Angeles the sun has emerged. I could write about that aspect of this visit alone for pages. I coined the term ironic misery to describe coming to California expecting sun and getting fourteen solid days of cloud cover. Biden is on. Weird that it’s four and not seven. I have him muted. Nothing against him but I can’t compose a sentence with someone else talking in the room.

I get to see C again tomorrow! I plan to broil swordfish and make coleslaw.

As a final note, let me say that I may not be confident about much, but I’m pretty sure my coleslaw with buttermilk dressing would get me invited to the BBQ.

Haiku round up May ‘23

I missed a day, but otherwise there’s one haiku per day. As many of you know, I post from my phone and there I can’t create single spacing. Sorry for the inconsistency with that.

Maples, then beeches.
Catalpa comes last with those
dinner-plate-sized leaves.

Talk to me please like
I talk to my dog: WHAT A


Telephone wires,
sky, yellow parking stripes, tar.
Beauty’s everywhere.


The morning’s haiku
has vanished. Meals, sewing, moods
all taking their due.


Melody across
the rooftops. Church bells or ice / cream truck? Where am I?


Present arms! Long live
Blah blah His Majesty blah.
How silly they look!

Her orange sari
flaps as she walks. Same, my new
rust-colored duster.

Sudden quiet means
I can hear the flicker call
across the gully.


CNN took a
dump on democracy with
that interview. Shame!


Bold and scrawny, she
Looks around, trots up the street.
Neighbor coyote.


Even before the
UPS guy tossed the treat
Finn knew that he would.


The colors can’t be
named and yet we try: fuschia,
Persian blue, star pink.


He texts me to say
he’s getting a tattoo and
will call later. Sons.

The rhodies deserve
a little space. We all do.
So I dig up ferns.


Striped shirt, close-set eyes,
coffee in one hand, her hat
lined with orange fur.

The wind-tossed branches
and fluttering leaves seem to
have something to say.

* * C A L I F O R N I A * *


Arms at three and twelve,
orange wands in hand. They point
the jet to its bay.

He’s not hungry. Not
now. Doesn’t want to go out- / doors. But soccer — yes!

Weeding succulents
is one thing. Weeding cacti
quite another thing.


Tim Scott announces.
Plunging in with zero chance.
Confidence envy.

We gather and write
confined to six screen boxes
but the hearts bound free.

Pruning sheers impart
royalty as blossoms rain
down on me. Purple.

5/25 : the anniversary of George Floyd’s death

Jasmine blooms smell sweet
while waves of eucalyptus
suggest vapo-rub.


FaceTimer with leash
earns a special place in hell


Secluded path, blind
curves. She wears headphones, hot pink.
Fearless or stupid?


A fence: waterfalls
of nasturtium, yucca,
jade crowding the links.


Eighties rock band tee,
cartoon planets on his shorts,
tree of life tattoo.

The squirrel looks, freezes.
Lila stares and freezes too.
Left paw lifted, held.


Still going… and wondering what all I’m trying to say to myself. Something good, I think, about there being so much, who we can be, and the choices we might make. ~Hazel at Handstories

Sometimes it’s hard to keep going with social media. So much is about tapping a beat and when the beat stutters, it can be hard to get it back. Then you wonder, Why? Why do I do this? That’s why I appreciated Hazel’s sentiments so much this morning.

In California for another two weeks. Body has made the turn. Soccer will be on all day. Nina will come and clean. Pork chops and apple crisp are on the menu. I hope the sun comes out. It’s been iffy.

We haven’t heard the Everton song yet. Their fans are CRAZy!

That’s all, really. Lila and I will head up the hill. She’s very opinionated and I defer to her. Don’t want to turn down Mayo? Okay, we’ll go straight. Don’t want to continue up the path past the gopher holes and eucalyptus trees? Alright, we’ll turn around. I don’t know if there is aversion involved (coyotes are a real possibility) or if she just reaches a point where she’s had enough.

We should all feel such ease about turning around don’t you think? Even if it’s mid-route and others have different ideas?

She, Lila, is the heart of this household. She came as anxious dog — still hides under the bed when the fireworks start, probably barks a little too much — but she has calmed down into a lion-like regal being. So much dignity! There are many striking things about her, but one is how she vocalizes when being pet. Sometimes I swear she’s purring!

Saw the boy again yesterday. We called home. Watched soccer (what else). Ate apple crisp (yes, today’s batch will be the week’s SECOND). And then he went off into his future — more immediately, to hear music in Santa Monica.

Lastly, I must express gratitude to the women with whom I regularly write. What would I do without them? This week, all three groups convened and it turned out to be an important place to note what’s happening here. Life after a stroke.

Truth is, it’s always good to note what is happening here.

And in that vein, if you haven’t read Deb’s blog lately, a recent post was a satisfying example of noting what’s happening. Life with Charlie.

May ‘23 collage round up

Themes? I’ll let the images speak for themselves.

The debt bill just passed the house. Ugh. The process. Certainly, some mastery at work by Biden.

In this house tonight, Jeopardy is competing with a soccer game. I think Jeopardy will win. I don’t want Ted Lasso to end — I really don’t— but we’ll watch that later.

Ready for a month’s worth of haiku tomorrow? Is a month all at once too much? Would weekly round ups be more digestible?

Three feels like six

California time.

It’s weird to watch Nicolle Wallace at one. Been waking at four something or five since I got here and then wondering why I’m so hungry at nine a.m. Usually my clock turns around sooner.

There have been sightings of three Great Horned Owls above the gully behind Billy’s place. A beautiful hawk perched on his western-most fence post two nights ago, scanning for lizards.

Got to see C yesterday. I was dreading the introduction to his new tattoo but I actually liked it — a very geometric beetle with a body about four inches long. It’s just below and behind one knee. Thank goodness it wasn’t another female demon vomiting blood (I kid you not).

Things are blooming around here, as you might expect. All that rain! Hills normally gold and brown are waving with verdant grasses and wildflowers.

I really really saw why Birds of Paradise are called that this morning.

WordPress just wigged out on me — a bouncing keyboard. Really weird. I tried turning phone off. Then on. Tapped away trying to snag a command. Finally caught a save. But I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead.