Tuesday, September 30, 2008


My brilliant brother just threw this design together, at my request, to be distributed at a program I'm doing for the Girl Scouts. Cool, huh?

Also, I've been tinkering with on my website. These are the time-eaters no one thinks of when they think "writer." For me, it's like busywork in school. Or like what grading papers must be for a teacher. Part of the job, but not the part that feeds the soul. But I've learned I actually NEED the busywork. It gives my mind some distance from those swampy emotions.

What kind of busywork do you do?

"Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it."

- Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, September 28, 2008


At the Hardware Store

A blonde in blue-jeans stands behind the counter --
she doesn't know socket-wrench from flat-head driver

but her smile spreads easy as strawberry jam
and her fingers glide over the register

like pond-skaters under a mid-summer moon.
Need a half-pound of Nichol's screw-grip nails,

I say, and she furrows her brow then brightens,
blush staining the constellation of freckles

on her chest and I never wanted to be
a freckle so much in my fifty-year life

then that smile again like a flash of lightning
on a black-cloud day, and I suck in my gut,

smile right back, not sure what I'll do with those nails
but ready to erect a steel skyscraper

and empty my accounts, if that's what it takes.

- Irene Latham

Well, that's me channeling a fifty-year old man. :) Way back when, I worked at Sears in the hardware department... my favorite memories are of sneaking kisses with my hot-n-heavy then boyfriend/now husband. Sweet times...

"Very often we travel the world over in search of what we need and return home to find it."

- George Moore

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


So I brought a nasty little cold back with me from North Dakota. But of course I wouldn't trade a second of time spent with my father. Even the tough moments I wouldn't part with. You know what I'm talking about.

The word for the day is HOPE, and I almost wish I had chosen it as my word for the year. It certainly pops into my head often enough, especially since my youngest son has taken a shine to a girl named Hope.

Eric smiles every time the word hope arises in conversation, and the other day when we were watching Orangutan Island on Animal Planet, he told me at a commercial break that the word hope had been said 18 times already. We found the word hope on the wall at Bismarck Cancer Center, and on the lips of cancer survivors and family members of non-survivors at AppleFest, the big fundraiser for Bismarck Cancer Center Foundation.

Could there be a more optimistic or necessary word?

I leave you with Emily Dickinson's lovely little poem:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

- Emily Dickinson

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Okay, I don't have to tell you how much potential this image holds. Talk about ripe with metaphor. Thanks MJ, as ever.

Thanks also to Anna for the book recommendation: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I got it tonight while Eric had drum lessons and will carry it with me on the plane(s) to North Dakota. Yep, we're off to visit my father. It's all about time, you know? There is never enough time when you love someone.

"Life is a series of surprises, and would not be worth taking or keeping, if it were not."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, September 15, 2008


I wrote a poem once called Things That Can Only Be Whispered. But what about those things that make no noise at all?

Consider this quote from Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting:

"Winnie watched the sky slide into blackness over the wood outside her window. There was not the least hint of a breeze to soften the heavy August night. And then, over the treetops, on the faraway horizon, there was a flash of white. Heat lightning. Again and again it throbbed, without a sound. It was like pain, she thought. And suddenly she longed for a thunderstorm."

I love that. I am also loving Kate DiCamillo's The Tiger Rising. And hey, it has a poem in it! A very famous poem. Read and see!

Friday, September 12, 2008


All day I've been a-buzz because my mother and brother (and family) are coming tomorrow. It's such a delicious feeling when you know something good is going to happen... it reminded me of this quote:

"Well, said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called."

- A.A. Milne

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Well, I've still got music on the brain. I think Anna said it best: "Music is a necessity for me. As much as I love words, sometimes there are none." Especially on a day when we remember what happened seven years ago.

Thanks, MJ, for this pic. Wouldn't it make a great book cover? Hmmm....

"Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet."

- African proverb

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Her Longing
Theodore Roethke

Before this longing,
I lived serene as a fish,
At one with the plants in the pond
The mare’s tail, the floating frogbit,
Among my eight-legged friends,
Open like a pool, a lesser parsnip,
Like a leech, looping myself along,
A bug-eyed edible one,
A mouth like a stickleback,—
A thing quiescent!

But now—
The wild stream, the sea itself cannot contain me:
I dive with the black hag, the cormorant,
Or walk the pebble shore with the humpbacked heron,
Shaking out my catch in the morning sunlight,
Or rise with the gar-eagle, the great winged condor,
Floating over the mountains,
Pitting my breast against the rushing air,
A phoenix, sure of my body,
Perpetually rising out of myself,
My wings hovering over the shorebirds,
Or beating against the black clouds of the storm,
Protecting the sea-cliffs.

BIG thanks to my writer friend Doraine for finally FINALLY finding this poem for me. I have searched and searched! And I love it. LOVE it. It does make me wonder, though... what would a poem entitled HIS Longing look like?

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, September 7, 2008


The Trout

When you’re gone
I put on Schubert’s ‘Trout’ Quintet,
imagine your fingers in graceful arches
dancing across my skin.

And when in the second Movement
the piano slows, barely
hovering above the double bass’
abyss of sorrow, I sink into
your absence,
wait for what I know comes next –

the Scherzo – the breathless anticipation
just before we meet again,
the sound of the trout rushing upstream,
one glorious leap after another,
silver scales shimmering,
notes fat with desire.

- Irene Latham

The Trout is still one of my most favorite pieces of music... unfortunately this poem doesn't even come close to doing it justice. I should write another one.

"Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons. You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body."

~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Saturday, September 6, 2008


According to Randy Pausch in his book THE LAST LECTURE, a "Dutch Uncle" is someone who give you honest feedback.

I'm thinking we all need a Dutch uncle, whether writers or not. But if you DO happen to be a writer, well, it's just about essential. Which is why there is so much talk about the value critique groups.

In my experience, critique groups can be extremely helpful or not helpful at all. It really depends on the individuals involved. My poetry group The Big Table Poets is definitely a Dutch uncle for me. And I've had a number of Dutch uncles in the kid lit world. Sometimes it really hurts to hear what they have to say. But after I get done licking my wounds, I almost always realize how right they are.

"Not everything needs to be fixed."

- Randy Pausch

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Swiped this one from my brother MJ's Facebook page. (He won't mind.) I love this pic... and it's exactly how I feel today.

MUST write a poem.

"See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence...we need silence to be able to touch souls.”

- Mother Teresa

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Is it just me, or has this been a really fast year? I mean, there's football on the tube and a few of the trees in my yard are already starting to yellow. I have this really strong urge to S L O W D O W N.....

But who am I kidding? That is so NOT going to happen. At least not anytime soon. So I might as well stop fighting it and just enjoy the ride.

On my agenda today: write. And send a few poems out into the world. (I have been lazy about that lately.) And maybe, just maybe, get a wee little nap??? Probably not, but a girl can dream...

"The supreme object of life is to live. Few people live. It is true life only to realize one's own perfection, to make one's every dream a reality."

- Oscar Wilde