Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Weekword: Present

John is the host of this week's WeekWord, which is present.

May I be fully present in my life.
May I be fully present in the lives of my loved ones and in those of people I encounter.
May I be fully present in conversations, to listen well, to hear with love and to respond appropriately.

Leaf Necklace for Leaf Lady
by me

I like to make presents.  I would prefer to make something the recipient will like. Knowing what that is and being able to make it can be a challenge. I made this necklace for my friend, Leaf Lady. She loves leaves.  I did not make the beads. I simply chose them, purchased them, and strung them. (That was challenging enough for me--my hands aren't all that steady!!!)
I hope she likes it.

and here is my poem for the present:

The Present:  Unbounded Boundaries

The words you speak touch me with whispers,
whispers of beauty. Oh such delight. like sunshine,
sunshine on winter cheeks. To feel such bliss we must open,
open an inner eye to truly hear, to smell with synesthesia,
synesthesia of the soul, the way the words you speak
speak melodies inside my ears, like symphonies,
symphonies of singing birds, cacophony. Oh clatter of joy,
joy knows no bounds when we are bound,
bound to the moment, to attention, to truly
truly being here and now, now and here, fully present.
Present, the present, what a gift to touch,
to touch the blossoming present as it unfolds
unfolds into our hands and hearts if we but open
and see. Oh taste the music, oh smell the touch
touch these words, touch this love
love this life. Open.

This poem is dedicated to Pat Shekhar. The beginning of each line repeats the end word or words from the previous lines.

And here is Pat's story about the present.

Friday, December 07, 2012



frol·ic  (frlk)
1. Gaiety; merriment: fun and frolic.
2. A gay, carefree time.
3. A playful antic.
intr.v. frol·ickedfrol·ick·ingfrol·ics
1. To behave playfully and uninhibitedly; romp.
2. To engage in merrymaking, joking, or teasing.
adj. Archaic

SOD:  joyous, A prank, to gambol, caper about.

The similar German word fröhlich means joyful, happy, merry.

In Bonnie Despain's story, Rocky Frolicking, she says: "Frolicking seems to be a physical demonstration of an inner upwelling of joy!" and I couldn't agree more.

Audrey B says:  Frolic = Bliss, and again, perfect!!!

Sally tells a fun story about a frolic-ful time that made her ready to beaver on at work.

Two of my children's novel manuscripts mention frolicking:

Sissy and Garryd lay on their bellies on the top of the mossy rock and watched as the otters reappeared, trailed by their babies and ran, in that peculiar sinuous gait of theirs, with their backs humped up, to the top of the bank.  They slid down the mud slide, one after another in quick succession and then rolled and frolicked in the water with such abandon Sissy had to press her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing out loud.  They seemed filled with such joy and exuberance.  She wished she could play with them.  from Frog Haven

Sarin sat on the cliff where they coyote had disappeared the night before.  While the mares grazed peacefully along spring creek, taking a mouthful, taking a step and then another mouthful, the foals gamboled and frolicked.  They kicked up their heels and almost seemed to dance with glee.  Sarin forgot all about her pout.  She wanted to run and skip and spin and whirl and laugh.  She crawled backwards off the rock, out of sight of the horses, looked around to see if anyone was watching, then leaped into the air, laughing with delight.  from Raven Girl to the Rescue

I often think of frolicking as being a little silly, and dancing seems to come into my mind.

"Frolic 2"

My name is Mary, but one of my nicknames is Merry--a synonym for frolic.

Let me know your take on frolic and I will post the link here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Discovery at Little Hog Island (plus) --vi. hands

i, ii, iii, iv, v

 Chapter 1, part vi of my serial novel hopeful, Discovery at Little Hog Island (plus)

 --vi. hands

 Dana cringed and looked away. She looked at Buck's hands, and then at Buck. Buck looked calmly serene and strangely handsome in a rough sort of way. He sat looking at Glenn with a small smile playing around the edges of his mouth. Everyone waited without moving or speaking. They all looked toward Glenn. Dana looked back at Glenn. He was still staring at her with utter malice. Then, in an exaggerated motion, he slowly lifted his arms from his lap and placed his hands on the table. His face darkened.




 -- My husband and I honeymooned in Slovenia. We took a side trip to Austria and another to Italy. In a church in Italy, we found this sculpture. It is, "Raising Hands to God." (click image to view larger)


 -- Hands are the organ of touch. Touch is so essential to well-being, to love.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Haiku chosen for Poster

Geese with decoys
click to view larger

One of my Haikus was chosen to be made into a poster by the Syracuse Poster project in Syracuse, NY. Fifteen Poster will be made from 626 submitted haiku, so I am pleased to have been chosen.
When I have access to the name and artwork of the student artist from Syracuse University who has illustrated my haiku, I will post that.
Here is the haiku that was chosen:
On storm-black waves, geese

bob and dive with a hunter's

abandoned decoys.


Sunday, December 02, 2012

WeekWord invitation: frolic

I am hosting the Weekword this week and it is FROLIC. I wanted an active verb with a positive connotation. 

If you would like to play along, take a photo, write a poem, do some creative nonfiction or journalling, make a painting or drawing and post it on your blog and then post the link here, in comments, or on my folic post by Friday, Saturday, Sunday December 7, 8, or 9 or whenever.

Otters frolic
quick sketch by me
click to view larger

Otters are one of the few animals that spend time playing.  Research shows they only play when all their other needs are met.  Zoo otters frolic more than wild otters.  

Saturday, December 01, 2012


I love this word--would like to do more with it, but if I wait until I have time, it will be gone. So here is a brand new first draft poem:


A graveyard of scrap surrounds the museum,
ferruginous boilers, crusted and rough with scale,
dome-shaped, cylindrical, spherical, knobby
with nuts and frozen bolts, thick plates of iron.
Grass, dandelions and daisies sprout between
rusty behemoths, little islands of green.
I peer into the shadows, into portholes
that smell of blood, ashes and brimstone,
then crawl through a long tunnel into the belly
of one of the monsters, curl to sleep
like Jonah resting in the whale.  It is peaceful
here, where the visitors can’t see me,
Muffled coos of sleeping pigeons
soften the sounds of children shouting, the hoots
of trains and traffic, everything dulls
but the magnified echo of my breath.

Mary Stebbins Taitt

Monday, November 05, 2012

Half a Dahlia

Half a Dahlia
Pigment markers (Faber-Castell PITT artist pens)
plus watercolor
(Click image to view much larger.)
This is my last piece in Molly's Mole--half a Dahlia for Molly to finish--a collaborative piece.  I think I got carried away and did more than half, sorry Molly!

I started with pigment Markers but was distressed by the lack of subtlety and painted over it a little with watercolors.

I am leaving tomorrow after voting for a week-long trip to Upstate NY to see my grandson Frankie for his second birthday.  May be incommunicado until I return.

I may or may not attempt to finish this on the computer at some point.  The painting is in Molly's Moleskien Sketchbook and she will finish the original.  But I can always finish the scan.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Discovery at Little Hog Island, Chapter 1, part v

Glenn Angry
click image to view larger

Discovery at Little Hog Island, Chapter 1, part v
-- v. Glenn

"I gotta hand it to you,” Simon said, "You're the first spy who penetrated our defenses."
"An unprecedented act of heroine-ism," Garrett added. They all laughed. Willie nodded.
"I'm not a spy. I'm a camper. I was just curious."
"More than curious," Glenn said. "Downright nosy."
"Now, Glenn," Buck said, "be polite. Dana is company."
"Unwanted company," Glenn snorted, "Unwanted and unwelcome."
Willie nodded. The others all nodded along with him. Everyone but Buck.
"Put your hands on the table, Dana, palms down," Buck said. Dana did as she was told.
She looked down at her hands. They were not typical women's hands. They were tan and scratched, covered with cuts, bruises and reddened bumps of poison ivy, some of them scratched open and weeping. Dana liked taking pictures of wildflowers and was always crawling around in the bushes. She remembered an advertisement for some dish detergent, Dove maybe, or was it Palmolive, where a mother and daughter laid their smooth, lily-white hands next to each other. Their perfect unblemished hands. Dana's hands did not pass muster.
Buck placed his hands on the table beside Dana's. Buck clearly worked with his hands. They were thick and strong, tanned, scarred, and had as many cuts as Dana's. Grime embedded the cracks in his skin. It appeared as if Buck had tried to scrub it off and mostly failed.
The other men stared. Then Willie placed his hands on the table. They looked much like Buck's. Garrett followed suit. His hands were similar, except Buck's fingers were longer. Simon laid his hands down. The hands all nearly matched. They were sturdy, battered and dirty.
Everyone turned to look at Glenn. He stared at Dana. His eyes were black, narrowed, and full of hatred.
1)This is part 5 of Chapter 1 of my novel hopeful, Discovery at Little Hog Island, in Serial form.
2)The image, digitally painted by me on Artrage, was partly after a Gatherer Magic Artcard which can be viewed here

Asher as Garryd and Billy

Asher/Garryd high in a tree
click image to view larger.
I've been traveling, went to a workshop called The Writer as Shaman, camped on the way.  Was unable to work in the mole while I was gone.  So, this is my fourth painting.  I have a half a one to do, and I'll be done.

This boy, Asher, I met on top of Bradbury mountain in Maine, while I was traveling.  I asked if I could take his picture.  He looks like Garryd, one of the characters in in my children's novel Frog Haven.  I'm going to paint some pictures from the photos to use as illos for the book.

I am also going to use this in the serial novel, Discovery at Little Hog Island.  There the boy will be Billy Owens.  That's an adult novel and the other is a kid novel so I can use the same image twice.  (I think.)

Asher, like Garryd, loves to climb trees and goes way up high!!!  You can't see here how high he is.

So, Here's a photo, and even this doesn't show how high he was:

Asher/Garryd in tree, Bradbury Mt., Maine
I am leaving Tuesday ad will be gone for another week.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Night Screaming

Night Screaming
Click image to view significantly larger

Last night we had quite an extended misadventure.  This is true story and not a dream.  It ocurred after the opera.

Night Screaming

Last night into the wee hours
we wandered, lost,
in the rain
without umbrellas or coats
walking the streets of Detroit
until our feet bled.

It was a waking
and went on and on
and on
as we grew more and more
tired and sore.

From the high roof-tops,
birds screamed and screamed.
They chittered, hollered
and shrieked
into the rainy night.

Such fearsome cries!
So loud!

With rain
streaming down our faces
like tears,
we looked up and up
into the rain
toward the distress calls

until we realized
they were electronic,
probably to scare
the very birds they mimicked.

Those cries reflected
our own fears
at being lost
past midnight
in this dangerous city.

A merlin falcon,
no nocturnal bird,
winged grey in the street lamps
against rain-black sky.

Confused by such light,
such distress,
we circled and circled
until we found ourselves
and went home.

Mary Stebbins Taitt
for Keith, and for Jari Jarvela, who also inspired the poem with his story

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Discovery at Little Hog Island, Chapter 1, part 4

click to view larger

- i i
-- ii ii
--- iii iii
--- iv. accusations

The men formed a semi-circle around Dana.
"So," said one, who was tall, thin, angular, and scruffy, "We have a spy, do we?" His voice was even lower and more gravelly than Buck's.
"I'm not a spy," Dana said, her voice high and nervous.
"Simon," Buck said. "Get our friend Dana a beer. Bring another chair, Garrett."
Two other men disappeared in opposite directions.
"Come have a seat," Buck said, pulling the chairs clustered around the table into a wider circle. "You play Black Jack?"
Dana took the seat he offered. It was the one he’d been sitting in. She shook her head.
"Well, occasionally, for fun, not profit." Dana giggled slightly, then clamped her mouth shut. She thought she sounded foolish.
Simon came back with a six-pack of beer. It trailed little pools and droplets of water onto the concrete floor. He was young, blond and sun burnt. His nose was peeling. Garrett came back with a chair. Buck took it and sat beside Dana. "Deal us a hand, Glenn," Buck said.
Glenn was the lean man who’d asked if she was a spy. He dealt out a hand, looking at Dana from under dark, bushy eyebrows that grew together over his thin nose like a long, shaggy caterpillar. He glared at her.
Buck handed around the beers. "This here is Willie," he said, indicating the last man. Willie was a stocky man, slightly pudgy around the face. He had a bland dull look and unfocused eyes. He nodded at Dana, his eyes never turning toward her.
"Don’t mind Willie," Buck said, "he’s a little under the weather." Buck opened Dana’s beer and handed it to her. Willie nodded slightly.
Glenn snorted. He popped open his beer, took a huge slug, and turned to Dana. "So," he repeated, scowling at her, "you’re a spy."
1)This is the 4th installment in my serial novel. Links to the first three (on cowbird) are at the top. Link to the next one, #5, is directly above.
2)illo is an acrylic painting by me of "Jerusalem Old Town" which I modified slightly for this piece. Sorry I forgot to add the sailboats! :-(
3)I'm trying to keep the installments short--let me know (at facebook or below) if you think the length should be different. Longer? Shorter?

Eating Wild Mushrooms

Heidi with Hen of Woods
photo by BB

I've been eating wild mushrooms all my life.
My grandmother, who was from Italy and who ate dandelions and other wild plants, taught me as a young child to eat the common field mushrooms which are like the ones in the stores--only outdoors. We also ate some kind of fairy-ring mushroom, but I no longer know which kind. Later, I learned to eat morels, puffballs, shaggy manes and Coprinus (Inky caps) and later yet, chicken of the woods and hen of the woods. At some point, many years ago, I got some mushroom books and started learning and eating other mushrooms.
I avoided white mushrooms with veils. Or any all-white mushrooms. I avoided anything I could not positively ID.
So far, so good.
I went to college at ESF (The SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry.) I remember learning that some mycology professors had DIED by collecting multiple kinds of mushrooms and cooking them up at once. We were told this by several professors several times--but the story seems odd, now that I have done more research.
These days, if you eat poisonous mushrooms, even the Destroying Angel, and get to the hospital on time, quickly, before too much damage is done to liver and kidneys, you have a reasonable chance of being saved--not everyone is saved, but some are. I won't write about that here, but you can read about it online if you're interested.
I am working on a novel that came from my cogitating about those professors who died. It is called Death Angel. I don't think posting serial novels works well on Cowbird--too hard for most people to follow. And it would only be worse, if I posted TWO at once, LOL!!! :-D.
I have friends who also collect wild mushrooms. On our recent trip to Maine, we stopped to visit friends in New Hampshire and ate wild mushrooms there. The photograph shows my friend Heidi with her husband Ken's find of hen of the woods--yum--we ate it in gumbo. Mmmm.
I have other friends who refuse to eat wild mushrooms. They will only eat mushrooms purchased at the supermarket. One friend remembers an incident where I messed up. I used to teach courses in survival and courses in wild edibles. We had collected a bunch of puffballs and other wild edibles and were making a meal for the class at the end. In all the rush and confusion of sorting everything that was collected and preparing the meal, we (I) forgot to cut all the puffballs in half to ascertain that they did not have gills.
Later, that thought occurred to me, and I mentioned it to my friend. While I felt reasonably confident that the puffballs were all puffballs and not destroying angels, I wasn't absolutely positive. I wasn't sure what to do--I didn't want to alarm 30 people unnecessarily and have them all rushing to the hospital, so I spent a nervous couple days worrying. No one got sick, but my friend has never eaten another wild mushroom since then. It's my fault.
However, that experience has not stopped me from eating wild mushrooms. I just cut every puffball in half. I did, however, stop teaching classes that involved group meals at the end. Too bad. Loved those flower fritters.

This story is sprouted from Kathy Weinberg's story, "Devil's Snuff Box"
It is also dedicated to Heidi and Ken.

Friday, October 12, 2012

by Augustus Saint-Gaudens
photo by me
Saint-Gaudens National Historical Monument
click to view larger
I took this photograph at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in New Hampshire on our recent trip to Maine. It is Diana, by the famous sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. I had never heard of this place, but it was wonderful and well worth a visit.  I may post more pix from my trip later.  It will take me a while to get caught up, especially since I came home sick.

Discovery at Little Hog Island, Chapter 1, part 3

We are home from our trip to Maine and happy to be here, although we had a GREAT TIME!  Here is the next installment of my novel, if you haven't lost the thread of it:

Biker Buddy is standing in for Buck Skillin here
photoart by me

Discovery on Little Hog Island, Chapter I: The Warning
iii. Buck Skillin (Read part ii here)*

He looked her up and down. "You don’t look wet," he said.
"No, I took your advice and did not swim here." Dana heard her voice come out calmly and normally, though inside it felt squeezed with fear.
"Good choice," the man said, gruffly, his voice low and gravelly. "So what did you do, fly?"
"I paddled."
"At night? That ain't exactly safe, either," he drawled. "Why are you standing in the munitions shed? What are you doing here?"
"I was curious. I wanted to look around."
"You could see better during the day. Name's Skillin. Buck Skillin." He held out his hand. She took it gingerly. It was warm and dry. Hers was clammy with fear. "And you?"
"Dana. Dana Waznik."
"Wanna Beer?"
"A beer?" Dana heard her voice rise with surprise, almost incredulity.
"You a TEE-totaler?"
"No. I just didn't expect you to offer me beer?"
"Why not, seems like the polite thing to do when you have company. Come on, I'll introduce you to the guys."
Buck Skillin turned and walked back toward the stone building. Dana followed, feeling nervous. Beyond nervous. She didn’t know if she should bolt for the darkness, grab her kayak, and paddle madly away. But she didn’t. She followed Buck. He held the door for her.
"Boys," he said, "We have company. Four faces turned toward Dana. They all rose to their feet. They did not look happy or friendly.
* * * *
read part
i here
part iv iv

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More art and novel

I'm going away shortly for a week and I am hoping this traveling Moleskine sketchbook before I leave (but I may be unable to, as I also have other commitments.)

But tonight, I have to stay up late because my son is coming home on the train for the weekend from college.  So I worked on another page in Molly's Moleskine.

Dana Waznik
(by me standing in for Yllsa)
Dana Wasnik is the protagonist, main character, of my serial novel, Discovery at Little Hog Island.  She, like Ross in the last post, is a fictional character, so I'm making her up.  Watercolor.

The part of the novel where this picture will appear has not been written yet, but you can read earlier parts here if you wish.  (Links to the installments on cowbird).

Here is part two of the serial novel:

Little Hog Island at night
ii. footlockers 

Dana crept along the tumbled edges of the ruins, carefully stepping over and around fallen stones. She pressed close to the wall, but if anyone came out with a flashlight, they would see her. There was nowhere to hide. This is really stupid, Dana thought, Why am I doing this?
When she got to the window, she tried to swallow her heart back down—it seemed to be blocking her airways. She inched up her head and peered in.
By the light of a kerosene lamp, four men sat around a wooden table playing cards. Their faces, full of weird dancing shadows, reminded Dana of the witches from Macbeth. She shivered.
The man who faced the window was the one who had warned her not to swim to the island. His lids covered his eyes as he look down at the cards in his hand and he appeared to not see her. Dana walked past the door and past the next window, which was dark. She climbed over a crumbled wall, walked along an intact wall, past three more windows, and turned to walk behind the building. She wanted to reach one of the other windows she’d seen through the first one, a window where she could look in without being spotted by someone coming or going.
A sound startled her and she paused. Someone was behind the building. Dana heard him crashing around. She watched his light moving among the blocks of granite. She crouched in deep shadow between the wall and tumbled stone. She spotted another small building. In the light of the man’s flashlight, it looked like a stone shed. The man went in, banged around a little, and then was silent. A moment later, he reemerged and went back to the card-game building.
Dana waited a little while, and then walked over to the shed. A rusty padlock hung on a hasp. She looked for a window, and then realized the lock had not been pulled shut. She slipped it off, pulled the loop from the hasp, pushed the door slowly open, stopped when it made a low eerie creaking, pushed again gently and peered in. Rusty swords and bayonets hung on the walls. Along the base of three walls of the shed, footlockers were stacked. Dana opened one. Guns. More guns. On the other side, grenades. Dana shut the lids and headed for the door.
A sudden light in her face half-blinded her.
“What have we here?” asked a rough voice. The man who had warned her about the tides stood blocking the doorway. His deeply shadowed face did not look pleased.