Friday, November 29, 2013

Five for Friday: Potluck Party

Another Thanksgiving come and gone.  I can tell because my heart is filled with gratitude and my refrigerator, with leftovers.

O leftovers!  I could write an ode to leftovers, I love them so much.  Just the thought of not having to cook for the next few days fills my heart to overflowing.

So today I am hosting another Five for Friday party, this time in honor of my devotion to microwave reheating.

Looking for five-word ditties (plus title, if you wish) to celebrate the blessings of a full heart and a full fridge.  Sure, not everyone loves leftovers.  Not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving either.  I get that.  But I hope you will join in nevertheless.  If not food love, you can write about something you do appreciate this time of year.  As long as it's just five words; no muss, no fuss.  Leave your contributions in the comments and I will add them here.

And hey, if nothing else, we can all be grateful for Poetry Friday, right?  Many thanks to Carol at Carol's Corner for hosting today's roundup!  I also want to give a shout out to the Two Weeks of Thanks-Giving roundup at Teaching Authors today.  You can find my own thank you note to a special teacher here.

All this writing is making me hungry.  Sandwich anyone?

Oh, that's right, we're having a potluck!  Sorry-- my brains are mashed potatoes.  Whoa!  Did you catch that?  Five words... see how easy it is?

As host, I have prepared three dishes to start us off.  Bon appetit!

Sweet Potato,
please be mine?

Cranberry Sauce: 
my autumn crush

Being together
is dessert enough

-Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

is the best

-Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

on overdrive!

-Carol at Carol's Corner

Love is
the happiest

-Betsy at I Think in Poems

whipped cream,
no pie!

-Linda at TeacherDance

Pumpkin Pie:
best breakfast

-Buffy at Buffy's Blog

mashed potatoes.
Thanks, Bob!

-Catherine at Reading to the Core

Turkey too big?
    Leftovers forever. . .

-George the (No Stinkin) Ultracrepidarian

Tonight's supper:
turkey noodle soup.

-Keri at Keri Recommends

A full refrigerator --
I smile.

One for Diane:

Turkey carcass =
So much stock.

-Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference


Who can Pecan? We can!


Apple? Gobbled in a snap!


Each bite is like sunlight.

-Julie at The Drift Record

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

With Thanks to My Teachers

Today I am participating in "Two Weeks of Thanks-Giving" at Teaching Authors.  Coupled with American Education Week, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to show my appreciation for the teachers who helped shape the person I am today.

One of the most meaningful compliments I received from a teacher came to me at the end of my senior year at Connecticut College, from someone who hardly knew me... or so I thought.  It was finals week.  Classes were over and graduation in sight.  As I breezed from one end of campus to the other, I bumped into Professor Gene Gallagher.  Though I wasn't a religious studies major, I had enjoyed participating in his class, Cults and Conversion in Modern America, that semester-- just a theater major with a desire to expand my horizons.

Eugene Gallagher
It was a brief exchange, a passing remark really.  A handful of seconds that somehow made a profound impact.  He said:

"You're a brave woman, Michelle."  

How I've treasured these words over the subsequent 25 years.  These words that reflected the height of my self-confidence.  Yes, I was that brave woman, passionately stepping out into the real world, keeping my eyes open to opportunity, and meeting life boldly, with intentionality.

But who was responsible for cultivating that bravery?  My parents, of course, but also my teachers.  Teachers who have always been there, nurturing, stimulating, supporting, and guiding me through unfamiliar territory, knowing me more than I thought possible, and challenging me to become extraordinary.

Since then, life, with its stencil and exacto knife, has attempted to carve away at that confidence with varying degrees of success.  These days, bravery has metamorphosed into resilience, but the passion is still alive.  Every day I strive for that peak of self-confidence to bloom again.

Today's little ditty is a thank you note.  Though simple in its acrostic form, I dedicate it to Professor Gallagher and to all of my teachers and mentors, in school and in life.  Thank you for the enCOURAGEment to pursue my dreams

          Believe in yourself
          Respect those who came before
          Allow the possibilities
          Venture into the unknown
          Education matters

              © 2013 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pre-Thanksgiving Greetings

                                                                                     1873, US Public Domain

I'm not sure how this happened, but Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK!

Am I ready?  Heck no.

But I've been spending time in the Haiku Garden with Robyn Hood Black, and you should see the tasty morsel she's cooked up!

My family will attest to the fact that I'm not a bad cook, they might even say I'm a good cook, but convenience fare only goes so far.  Unfortunately, I can't say that I particularly enjoy my jaunts in the culinary arts-- it's one of those tasks that has fallen into my lap by default.  And when it comes to Thanksgiving, I'm not ashamed to admit that I'd rather be a guest than a host.  I'll happily bring the mashed potatoes or a nice bottle of wine.

Today's little ditty is a Thanksgiving greeting card verse that I wrote and sold to Andrews McMeel Publishing back in 2007.

                         COVER:  Turkey roasting...
                                                      Glasses toasting...

                         INSIDE:  Giving thanks that I'm not hosting.

Yep, that's pretty much me all over.  

When I recently contacted Andrews McMeel's greeting card editor to find out if the verse was ever used and whether or not I could legitimately post it on my blog, he informed me that my verse was in print for a while, but he wasn't sure if it still is.

I hope you'll let me know if you see my baby in the card racks over the coming week.  Never did see the artwork for this one, but they paid me well so I can't complain.

And now that I've tantalized your taste buds, please join Katya, this week's Poetry Friday host over at Write. Sketch. Repeat.  Everyone's invited!  Side dish welcome, but not required.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Haiku Garden: Robyn Hood Black

I'm so excited to be able to spotlight the talents of Haiku Garden's special guest today: children's author, poet, and artist Robyn Hood Black.  Robyn is a versatile writer, having published fiction and non-fiction children's books, as well as a variety of poetry in anthologies, magazines and top-notch journals.  She is also an accomplished artist with a penchant for "literary art with a vintage vibe."  I highly recommend her Etsy shop, artsyletters, as a great place to start your holiday shopping!

Robyn describes haiku as a "sparely crafted poetry which offers endless depth."  Not only do I admire her talents in this elegant and economical genre, but I benefit from her gifts as a teacher, as well.  On her website, she encourages visitors, "poets and readers of any age," to explore their own haiku journeys with online resources that include a haiku resources list, how-to guides for children, and inspiring samples of her own haiku.

On Robyn's blog, Life on the Deckle Edge, she provides even more inspiration.  Currently she is running a series called "We Haiku Here."  The series, which will continue into December, introduces us to several outstanding haiku poets from The Southeast Chapter of The Haiku Society of America.

Today, however, is all about Robyn, and with that, I give you today's little ditty:

              cold front –
              an urgent wind
              at my back

                                      -Modern Haiku, Winter/​Spring 2012

                   (c) Robyn Hood Black.  All rights reserved.

Robyn let me have my pick of haiku on her website and I selected this one because it hits me where I live.  Not only does it reflect the sudden shock of late autumn in North Florida, but it also mirrors my state of mind at this time of year-- that sense of urgency always at my back, breathing down my neck and giving me cold shivers.  Sort of like this Wind God by Japanese painter, Ogata Kōrin.

Ogata Kōrin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thank you, Robyn, for spending time in the Haiku Garden today.  I look forward to your continued lessons in the art of haiku, so that I, too, can condense life into potent nuggets of truth.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Dirty Kitchen Secret

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but today is Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day.  Trust me, it's true.  Would I be so cruel as to make something like that up?

Did you know, most Americans only clean their refrigerators once or twice a year?  (All together now: "Eeeeuw!")  This is according to an article in the Wall Street Journal-- a source renowned for its housecleaning expertise, or so I've heard.

The time has come, my fellow Americans.  Today's the day!  You want to make room for all of those turkey and pumpkin pie leftovers, don't you?

So in honor of the occasion, today's little ditty has transformed the aforementioned article, aptly titled "Why Won't Anyone Clean Me?", into a "found poem"-- one that takes words and phrases from an existing text and refashions them to create something new.  I've been wanting to try my hand at a found poem for some time now.  Notwithstanding the pungent odors and harmful bacteria, it was fun.

     A Dirty Kitchen Secret

     Forgotten in a corner,
     he didn’t notice
     the surface tension,
     the “ick” factor,
     bubbling up
     around the perimeter
     like spilled soda from a can.
     Good intentions
     allowed to ripen
     “out of sight, out of mind”
     until what ensued
     was chaos, all levels
     of refrigerator nastiness.
     Soda in the crisper,
     milk in the door,
     leaks from raw meat,
     dog licking the bottom shelf, 
     no clue what to do
     with the special
     cheese compartment,
     and high-tech solutions
     thwarted by consumers
     who try to salvage
     old salad dressing.

       © 2013 Michelle Heidenrich Barnes. All rights reserved.

Jama Rattigan, our favorite foodie with a heart of gold, is serving up today's Poetry Friday roundup with a cup of tea and an apple pumpkin walnut muffin.  Seriously. Yum.  You'll find her at Jama's Alphabet Soup.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Musing: Veteran's Day 

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, "Mother what was war?" 

-Eve Merriam

With thanks to those who have served and sacrificed with honor.

Friday, November 8, 2013

"Sweet Bird" Joni Mitchell

"I have always thought of myself as a painter derailed by circumstance."
          -Joni Mitchell, June 2000

At the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Canada, 6.30.2000 (CP PHOTO/Glen Berger)

Yesterday was the 70th birthday of a special friend.  

Joni Mitchell, 1970.  Photograph: Henry Diltz/Corbis

                                                        AND NOW:
Joni Mitchell, 2013.  Rene Macura / AP Images for CP Images

Sure, our relationship has been somewhat lopsided: I've never had her over for dinner or bought her a present, but I don't think she minds.  Unbeknownst to her, Joni Mitchell has held a special place in my heart for many years-- she's celebrated my friendships and first love, eased my pain, inspired my songwriting years ago, and has indelibly painted my life's canvas with the rich colors of her music and poetry.

I first discovered Joni in a clearance bin at Sam Goody's in the White Plains mall.  I knew her by name, but that was all-- I didn't yet connect her with her more famous albums, Blue (1971) or Court and Spark (1974), nor her popular hits "Big Yellow Taxi," "Woodstock," "Help Me," or "Free Man in Paris." Mostly I was attracted to the album title, The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975), intrigued by the cover artwork, and lured by the price.  (It was my own money after all, and as I recall, my very first album purchase.)

Once I gave it a listen, I was hooked.  Over the years I gradually increased my collection and found that for every mood and occasion, Joni was right there echoing my innermost thoughts and feelings.  For today's little ditty, I am sharing "Sweet Bird"-- track 9 off this amazing album: 


Out on some borderline
Some mark of inbetween
I lay down golden--in time
And woke up vanishing

Sweet bird you are
Briefer than a falling star
All these vain promises on beauty jars
Somewhere with your wings on time
You must be laughing
Behind our eyes
Calendars of our lives
Circled with compromise
Sweet bird of time and change
You must be laughing
Up on your feathers laughing

Golden in time
Cities under the sand
Power, ideals and beauty
Fading in everyone's hands

Give me some time
I feel like I'm losing mine
Out here on this horizon line
With the earth spinning
And the sky forever rushing
No one knows
They can never get that close
Guesses at most
Guesses based on what each set
     of time and change is touching
Guesses based on what each set
     of time and change is touching
Guesses based on what each set
     of time and change is touching.

(c) 1975 Joni Mitchell.  All rights reserved.

While she no longer has the voice of a songbird (likely due to a half-century of smoking), in my eyes Joni remains just as sweet.  And in her own words, "I learned a woman is never an old woman."  So there.

Gathered Light: The Poetry of Joni Mitchell's Songs, written and edited by Lisa and John Sornberger, is a collection that was published earlier this year.  It highlights forty years of Joni Mitchell's thought-provoking lyrics as well as original contributions by acclaimed writers, long-time friends, and creative collaborators, celebrating her poetic prowess and the powerful impact her words have had on their lives.  I guess I'm not the only one.

Speaking of powerful words, today's Poetry Friday host is Diane at Random Noodling.  There's a whole lot more inspiration just around the bend.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Two Line Tuesday: Lou Reed

ForestWander Nature Photography

I always believed that I have something important to say
and I said it.

                                                                 -Lou Reed


Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed's widow, wrote in a letter to their neighbours, "He died on Sunday morning looking at the trees..."