Catch a Star

This was inspired by a poem Jane posted and our comments.


In the darkness, catch the stars

keep them, hold them, in a jar

with memories of long ago. . .

then on the nights when thoughts are bleakest,

let one go and watch it seek its

dream-mist companions of the light–

watch them floating, soaring high—

to the rhythm of your heartbeats, fly

on intangible wings to empyrean heights

follow fly, and do not stop or wonder why,

but in the darkness, grasp the jar

catch, hold fast, a glimmering star.


Anything But Black

ESO’s various observatory sites in Chile — Paranal, La Silla, Chajnantor — boast enviably low levels of light pollution. However, the skies overhead are rarely pitch-black! As shown in this image of Paranal Observatory, the skies regularly display a myriad of colours and astronomical sights, from the plane of the Milky Way shining brightly overhead to the orange-hued speck of Mars (left), the starry constellations of Scorpius and Orion, and the magenta splash of the Carina Nebula (upper middle). Despite the remote location there are also occasional signs of human activity, for example the sequence of lamps seen in the centre of the frame. These faint lights illuminate the route from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) where this image was taken. Due to the highly sensitive camera this photograph also showcases a mysterious phenomenon called airglow. The night sky is ablaze with deep red and eerie green hues, caused by the faint glow of Earth’s atmosphere. Because of airglow, no observatory site on Earth could ever be absolutely, completely dark — although ESO’s do come pretty close. This image was taken by talented astronomer and photographer Yuri Beletsky, a member of the 2016 ESO Fulldome Expedition team. This team visited Chile to gather spectacular images for use in the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre.



The Robin Sings Before the Light

The robin sings before the light

he chirps and cheeps

and it is right

and fit

and fine–

he shares his song,

I make it mine


Embed from Getty Images


I woke up to hear the birds singing about 4:30 this morning, even in the rain, and this poem came to me. We’ve just seen the new movie A Quiet Passion about Emily Dickinson, so perhaps I was channeling her pre-dawn writing. 🙂


I dreamt I was in labor

and cooking up a storm,

a storm of food,

the birth of new ideas,

there were canapés and cakes

covering the tables,

and I was laboring,

in travail,

producing and reproducing,

a woman’s work is never done,

but I was smiling–

there was no mess to clean–

only a dream

and a poem.


This was a real dream I had the night before last.

Musing on My Muse

There’s a test I should be writing

but I sigh, it’s more inviting

when my muse sings, “write poetry.”

I say my work, it must prevail,

coffee, my potion, will not fail

me, but, she, my own, can foresee–

no sexy, fierce Venus in fur,

she gently coos, and I concur

a sign, I see, of what will be.


I wrote a nove otto for my first time using the Secret Keeper’s weekly writing prompt.

This week, the words, test/potion/muse/own/sign,  seemed too perfect to pass on. So I didn’t.



Coconut Milk, or Seize the Moment

One day last week I had a bunch of overripe bananas, and I decided to make a banana cake. This particular cake has chocolate chips and a cream cheese icing. (Are you drooling yet?) Since the dessert was so rich and decadent, I thought I’d balance it with a lighter, less caloric dinner. Doesn’t everyone plan meals this way—what will go with dessert?

I had some tilapia fillets in the freezer. I thought at first I’d stir-fry them with some vegetables. But since I wanted to prepare the meal in advance to eat when I got home from the gym, that didn’t seem like a great idea. What’s the point of stir-frying only to reheat? So then, I decided to make a sort of Moroccan-style fish stew instead. I was sautéing onions, red peppers, sweet potatoes, garlic, and beginning to add some spices, when suddenly I discovered a can of coconut milk in the pantry, and it became a Thai-style fish curry with sweet potatoes and spinach.

It was delicious. My spontaneous decision had resulted in a truly delectable dish.

Image Sometimes writing is like that. I start out with an idea and begin typing, but somewhere along the line, something happens. Just as that can of coconut milk inspired me to produce an unplanned but delectable dinner a chance word, article, radio story, or random thought, can change the focus of something I’m writing—whether it’s a book, encyclopedia entry, test item, or blog post.

I think life is like that, too. We go to college with a particular major, but wind up working at something else entirely. Perhaps it turns out to be something unexpected, but wonderful. We make plans for an outdoor event, but it rains, and it has to be moved inside. What we thought would be a disaster somehow turns out to be the best party ever.

A friend of mine said to me recently that she loves me, even if I don’t like to make spontaneous plans. It’s true. I like things scheduled. I want to know who is coming for a holiday dinner and when.  I schedule my work around the gym classes I like to attend. (What’s really weird is that I’m not the only one who does this.)

At the same time, it’s not that I never do things spontaneously. I work from home, so my days are somewhat unstructured. I sometimes plan to work on a particular project one day, but end up working on something else entirely—perhaps I’ve received something that needs to be revised. Things happen—a daughter calls with news or is upset; something in the house needs to be repaired, or maybe I just need a break.

Life happens. Sometimes the unexpected happens—and sometimes that’s good. I like plans. I like lists. But I also want to be open to possibilities.

My daughter and her friends who have recently graduated from college are trying to decide what to do with their lives. It’s good to have goals. It’s good to have plans. But I want to tell them life brings unexpected chances and opportunities, too. They should be able to experiment with the different spices and ingredients of life. Maybe they’ll come up with an entirely different dish than the one they planned to have.  And maybe it will be more delicious. As with menus though, life should include both the sweet and the savory to nourish body and soul.

Sometimes a moment of inspiration results in something unexpected and wonderful. Heed those moments.

And don’t forget to reward yourself.


My photo of the banana cake vanished. But pie is great, too!