Category Archives: Out and About

Canada, clutter, and prompts

Passport. CHECK. Mouth guard and meds. CHECK (but didn’t have to carefully tuck them in carry on bag in case suitcase gets lost). Sewing, reading, and writing notebooks. CHECK (you’d think I’d have an elegant handmade etui to hand, but I don’t. I just stick needles and pins in whatever swatch of fabric is handy).

Our lovely house sitter will be taking GQ-level photos of Finn again no doubt. I can’t tell you how comforted I was to learn that she’d held a piece of cheese to her forehead for some of her darling shots from last trip.

Painting by Ginny Mallon

I consolidated heaps of fabric and windexed here and there. The difference was relieving, noticeable. K said, “I’d live here,” which tells you something about his dry wit. What it perhaps doesn’t reveal as readily is how forbearing he is of my clutter.

Question to crafters: are works-in-progress demeaned by the label “clutter”?

Never mind that. What would be really hilarious if it weren’t so hypocritical is that I dare to ask him to please put his shoes away!

I spy two Jude Hill indigo moons

Traffic on 128 is bad. The trees are green. I will report back as we travel north. We may be in for some pretty foliage.

I’m excited to be going to Quebec City. Our older son went to McGill, so we’ve made many trips to Montreal in recent history, but I haven’t been to Quebec City since my French class traveled there in 1975.

WRITING PROMPT: Begin with “she said” and keep going. Whenever you get stuck, write it again, “she said.” Courtesy of Natalie Goldberg.

TWO MORE WRITING PROMPTS: Begin with “she could not get comfortable” or “so much depended on.” Both courtesy of Kathleen Olesky.

Paris Collage Collective from this week
PCC prompt
Used PicFrame to collect prompt

Lastly, I am reminded that people go through stuff and we don’t necessarily know about it. That’s as good a reason to be kind as any.


Missed the exit for Route 2 on the way home but the Pike was faster so it didn’t cost us, time-wise.

During the writing retreat at Stump Sprouts in Hawley, Mass (led by Maureen Buchanan Jones), we had little sun. It which hardly mattered given the indoor focus, but it did mean I didn’t get the same quality of photos as other years.

This year I walked A LOT. I finally got to use one of the many emergency ponchos I’ve purchased over the years (and for which I have taken much shit, BTW). That was a vindication of sorts.

The retreat numbers shrank for Covid and did not scale back up, probably because it’s so much nicer to bunk alone. It made a nice difference. At night, it was so quiet and so dark. Quite delicious.

It’s hard to characterize the retreat experience. People made me laugh. Some cried while reading. We were silly, intense, thoughtful, and there for each other. It’s true that when you show up for another person’s writing, you are showing up for them.

I also did Tarot readings for about half the group which added a little extra intimacy.

I “got” a couple Lucy Audubon scenes (even though I keep saying I don’t want to write about her) and interestingly, a Salem witchcraft scene. That was unexpected.

Now I’m back home and wanting to get it together. on Instagram, maybe a newsletter, etc.

QUESTION: thinking about my upcoming trip to Montgomery, Selma, Birmingham, Jackson, and maybe Memphis — any recommendations?

Another QUESTION: Are any of you interested in writing with me and others once a week starting in September? It’ll be ten weeks on zoom. Two hours a class on Wednesday mornings. The structure is simple and surprisingly productive — we write to prompts and then read around. All levels of experience welcome.

Email me ( or drop a comment if interested. First class is free to give newbies a taste. Otherwise, $30 per session. I always talk to people before enrollment.

Recent prompt

Haiku July ‘23

Nothing like a nice
baked potato with butter,
sour cream, and salt

Hello, little toad!
First spotted this century.
Oh, the things we’ve lost!

First rain, then smoke-sky.
Jays cry. A lawnmower runs.
It feels like April.

Walked the Lost Pond trails.
Lush canopy. Cool fungi.
Burgers? Kin? Flag? No.

Out-of service train
Bell-clanging, wheels ka-thunking.
Slow, slow, then fast. Whoosh!

Dismantling it
isn’t gifting others. It’s

Summer air clamps close.
Coleus curls in the heat.
Ice cream for dessert.

Who knew rhino’s top
lip comes to a point? Or that
warthogs kneel to eat?

Orchid-like flowers
fall, rust, stick to the bottom
of shoes. Catalpa.

Words I like a lot:
velocity, catapult,

7/11. Three today!

Tear downs signal wealth.
This one released a stink that
lingers still, weeks on.

Moss adorned stone walls,
dressed as royally as a
queen in purple silk

Often prickly I
sometimes push people away.
But really, so what?

Rains rage in Vermont.
Canada’s woods are burning.
In the fridge, there’s cake.

CO2’s not smog.
There’s no scrubbing it away.
Heat is here to stay.

Robin alights. Branch
waggles. Berry grabbed, eaten.
Robin vanishes.

They pecked at the lawn,
crept among the ferns, two grown
turkeys and four chicks.

Congo elephants
are smaller, more quiet than
the Savannah type.

Slow, sore down the stairs.
But the coffee pot is full!
Evidence of care.

Granite quarry full
of green water. Gulls bobbing.
Two cormorants. Us.

Midnight: waves crash and
shur near hotel’s foundation.
Mother’s lullaby.

Hajib black. Sleeves black.
Legs covered. She sits low and
lets the waves drench her.

The slavery spin:
beneficial for some. Next
up: women like rape.

My cousin’s birthday
The first without his father.
Mine gone forty years.

Tablesaw whine all
day. Hammer rat a tat tat.
Vacation’s over.

Forty mile march
to Tel Aviv. First hundreds.
Then twenty thousand.

The wind comes. Then rain.
The dog and I sit, listen.
Part cuddle, part prayer.

Single web strand holds
light. Every swag and sway makes
photons slide. Magic.

Breathless coverage.
“Reading the tea leaves” is just
guessing, but I watch.

Humidity forces
an abbreviated walk.
But coneflowers thrive!

You know it’s hot when
shade with poison ivy is
better than no shade.

Prize: rusty washer,
a perfect blue jay feather.
No. It was the breeze!

The spending! Mac D’s,
Chick-fil-a, Wendy’s. We’ve talked.
Make a sandwich! Jeez.

June 23 in Haiku

Only in LA?
Strappy silver platform shoes
as garden decor.

After fourteen days
of leaden skies, cloud cover,
gloom, the sun comes out.

The mushroom ragout’s
secret ingredient is
wedge of Toblerone.

The smallest bird swoops
in an arc, back and forth, then
rises, rises. Gone.

She begs with brown eyes,
an occasional paw swipe.
Sweet and persistent.

In the wee hours,
Lila hops up and joins me.
An honor I’m told.

Once nut hulls rained down
on my head. Another time
raven swooped so close.

(Billy: you better believe they do it on purpose).

A pleine air painter,
boyfriend posed in the shrubs. “May
I?” He nods. “Fauvist!”

Four Travel Haiku

The worst gate ever.
Ten seats. Four speakers. What? What?
Six minutes to board.

A nun. A family
wearing crocs. Yoga pants and
bare midriffs galore.

Curly hair. A snot
rag wadded up. Goopy snorts.
Please, God, not near me.

Seeing the tall thin
Black man exit first class when
I’d thought him homeless.

Grapefruit, orange, dill,
ginger, salmon, and snap peas.
A nice departure.

Scrap of Dan’s pj’s
Square of Mom’s wool challis scarf
Strip of indigo

The clematis vine
twines upward on the lattice.
One perfect flower.

I wished my zoom friends
could hear the growling thunder,
See the trees backlit.

Two hens, one tom, live.
The flicker dead in the road.
Men tamping asphalt.

I get mullion, toile,
and priapi, but bundt? Do
they never eat cake?

6/19 (two)
Sunday was a blur
I really like it like that.
No apology.

I knew the Haitian
boy, so newly here, would love
the plastic monkey!

The balloon arches
grace the front doors of the school.
The last day is near.

I wrote for hours
almost all of it about
one of my front teeth.

They run out of air
today. One wife’s forebears are
waiting in the wreck.

Launching off the bed
to bark at the front window.
Who is it this time?

The boys raise their hands
at the same time. “Revolt!”
they holler, and smile.

(This came to me as I woke before I’d heard the news about Prighozin).

I am happy. I
am victorious. I’m loved.
Why not say these things?

A stately linden
shades the cop at the detour
while he does nothing.

Finn walked in a heel.
A heel! To get under my
umbrella. Went back.

Along the wood pile,
I scoop catalpa blossoms.
Yellow jacket stings.

Everyone who came
later has emerged and left.
What is going on?

White supremacy.
Partisan hacks, too good a
term. Going backward.

Good thread on SC history

It’s a long thread but interesting. The term “maroon” comes from the Spanish meaning, “untamed.” It is not, as one might think, a reference to skin color. In my historic fiction manuscript, three characters run away to a maroon community in Cane Creek. This was a real place in the swamps west of Charleston.