Tiny White Flowers

Tiny White Flowers

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Midnight note, 28 Feb. 09

I'm thinking about all the doodling I did in college. . . my brain must be in great shape!   Well, looking back, perhaps this is why I was always good at remembering things my DM couldn't remember, which bugged her no end.  

Take Note: Doodling Can Help Memory

By HealthDay - Fri Feb 27, 8:48 PM PST

Researchers in the United Kingdom found that test subjects who doodled while listening to a recorded message had a 29 percent better recall of the message's details than those who didn't doodle. The findings were published inApplied Cognitive Psychology.

"If someone is doing a boring task, like listening to a dull telephone conversation, they may start to daydream," study researcher Professor Jackie Andrade, of the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth, said in a news release issued by the journal's publisher. "Daydreaming distracts them from the task, resulting in poorer performance. A simple task, like doodling, may be sufficient to stop daydreaming without affecting performance on the main task."

For the experiment, a two-and-a-half minute listing of several people's names and places was played for test subjects, who were charged with writing down only the names of the people said to be attending a party. During the recording, half the participants were asked to simultaneously shade in shapes on a piece of paper without attention to neatness. Participants were not told they were taking part in a memory test.

When the recording ended, all were asked for the eight names of those attending the party as well as eight place names mentioned in the audio. Those asked to doodle wrote down, on average, 7.5 names and places, while those who didn't doodle listed only 5.8.

"In psychology, tests of memory or attention will often use a second task to selectively block a particular mental process," Andrade said. "If that process is important for the main cognitive task, then performance will be impaired. My research shows that beneficial effects of secondary tasks, such as doodling, on concentration may offset the effects of selective blockade."

In everyday life, Andrade said, doodling "may be something we do because it helps to keep us on track with a boring task, rather than being an unnecessary distraction that we should try to resist doing."

More information

The AARP has more about memory.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Two Stevie Wonder videos

These are so great.  Enjoy~

Obama and Wonder

Great photo, from a super night at the White House.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nighttime Morning Page, 20 Feb. 09

Today I spent the morning with a good friend, with tea and fresh fruit, two or three cats and a bank of windows overlooking the coming and going of birds, of ferries and the passing of winter.
We wrote for an hour or more, creating starts to five poems.

Here are two prompts we used:

This one came from my journal:

"Next morning, breakfast"  and from here we spent five to seven minutes finding the poem in the words.

Another prompt was a line from Neruda's "Your Laughter." It was to be used as an epigraph:
"Take bread away from me, if you wish"

This evening I revisited poems I'd written during November as part of Poem a Day.  I still haven't done anything with them yet, but it might be a good thing to work on - see if there is anything cohesive enough to become a new collection.  

Here's a poem for the day:

by √Čireann Lorsung

Nothing touches like tan velvet touches 
the palm. Now the cracks come, because what gives 
without taking?—Doesn't exist. Say  

you forget what is lanolin, what is raw about fleece 
uncarded & unwashed. Say the silver feel 
of charmeuse lines your sleep. You've lost  

what there was before pins & needles, sound 
a scissors makes through cloth on a hardwood floor, 
thick waist of the dressmaker's dummy. Don't tell me  

any more. Without Burano lace, without cinnabar 
strung on a cuff, shantung and satin and netting and swiss: 
no rich man, no camel, no needle's threatening eye.

I'm off to bed.  Maybe do a little reading...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Poem for the Day - Dreams

by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams  
For if dreams die 
Life is a broken-winged bird 
That cannot fly.   

Hold fast to dreams 
For when dreams go 
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Poem for the Day

Under the Harvest Moon by Carl Sandburg
Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers.

Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Africa Landscapes


Isak Dinesen quotes

I just watched Out of Africa, and can't very well write right now.  Too much to absorb; it's been years since I last saw the movie.  It's this was with every good movie - afterwards I can't think of anything worthwhile, or worthy, to write.

Here are some quotes I found by Isak Dinesen:

A great artist is never poor. 

All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them. 

Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever. 

God made the world round so we would never be able to see too far down the road. 

I don't believe in evil, I believe only in horror. In nature there is no evil, only an abundance of horror: the plagues and the blights and the ants and the maggots. 

I think it will be truly glorious when women become real people and have the whole world open to them. 

Love, with very young people, is a heartless business. We drink at that age from thirst, or to get drunk; it is only later in life that we occupy ourselves with the individuality of our wine. 

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. 

When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself. 

Who tells a finer tale than any of us. Silence does. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Nighttime Page, 11 Feb. 09

It's late, and it's been a long time since I've written.  I managed to send out one chapbook mss. today, and one poetry contest entry to the Florida Review.  I'd determined to get back to my normal submitting self, and hopefully reclaim my writing-more-often self, too.

Here's a poem for today:

Fallen Apples 
by Tom Hansen

Wasps at work in the soft 
flesh of rotting apples. 
Food of the gods, 
all day they mine it in busy 
hushed movements.

I pick up a mushy corpse 
one cold morning. 
Carefully turn it over. 
Its congregation tumbles 
into the cupped 
bowl of my hand.

Dazed, drunk, still 
chilled from overnight cold, 
they blunder like sleepwalkers 
feeling around for the light. 
Tiny antennae test my skin 
in search of something 
now gone.

Warmed by my hand, 
warmed by the sun, 
they stagger and fall into flight. 
They scribble orbits 
the air erases
and whine at last out of sight.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Afternoon Page, 02 05 09

Yesterday I told an old friend that water figured heavily in my writing. and that I was revisiting my water poem chapbook, getting it ready to send out.  This was all in response to his telling me that he has been doing some SCUBA diving lately.  

I remember having that experience once, when I was 17.  DA and I were on my first big trip (Boston, New York, DC, and Bermuda) and she must have thought it would be nice to give diving a try.  So we signed up for a dive, and on the boat out to the site we were given paperwork to fill out - pages and pages of release forms with about every way to say they weren't responsible for any of our deaths, and that people with asthma might have some trouble (and I have asthma).  But the sun was shining and the water was blue, and the whole thing seemed like a good thing to do.  

After the paperwork came the instruction regarding the tanks and how to breathe and decompress.  So down we all went (ten of us, maybe a dozen).  Our instructor had taken us to the site of a couple of ship wrecks, so there were bottles and other assorted junk on the bottom (which was about 30' down), as well as very colorful and curious fish, which captivated me much more.  (Anyway, I'm sure the bottles were planted, even though they did look like they'd been there awhile.)  The fish would swim up to your face and stare, then dart off sideways with their sinuous and flexible bodies, in the way that fish do.  I was mesmerized.  Not to mention it was so nice to be in a bathing suit in warm water--no wetsuit.  Not that I'd ever tried one on, but I'm claustrophobic, and I'm sure the suit would have driven me nuts.

So fascinated was I that there came a point when I realised that I was alone.  Everyone else was nowhere to be seen.  Perplexed, I surfaced and took a look above water, but strangely enough I could only see a little fishing boat, and when I asked them, they said they hadn't seen a group of divers.  With this unsettling news, I went down again, and this time, a few moments later the instructor appeared again.  We swam a little more, he showed me a few more "artifacts," and then we went back to the boat, where everyone else was waiting.  While I was otherwise engaged under the water, everyone else had returned to the boat.  Why the fishermen didn't know what I was talking about, or claimed not to have seen the other boat is still beyond me.  But, I enjoyed the whole experience, and wonder if some day I might do it again.  

More water thoughts later...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Evening Page - The Bears and I

Such an unromantic title.  But, I haven't been known for my titles.  When I'm lucky, they come to me later.  

Two days ago I dreamt I met someone from high school.  (It's been 20 years, and I'm sure it has something to do with Facebook...)  DH was in the dream, too, sitting on a concrete wall to one side of me.  An old friend who recently wrote her phone number in her latest Christmas card, was sitting to my left.  Others from high school, whom I didn't know, were sitting across from me.

And, as dreams often do, the scene changed, and we were all in a group, this time across the little street in front of my old grade school.  In the midst of our assembly was a tour guide, who quietly told me to look - there - and I wondered what she wanted me to see.  That bird, like a little towhee, on the lawn?  But almost immediately she walked out to the outer edge of the group, and I looked up over the trees and finally spotted what she wanted me to see.  I of course had my camera, and began snapping photo after photo, for there were four or five bears clustered just there, in a vee where the tree branches sloped.  They were not *in* the trees, rather sort of hovering there, just behind the leaves.  

They weren't particularly friendly, and the guide walked forth to either calm them, or send them away.  I don't remember if she said something fierce to protect us, or if a dog barked (I think it did), but the bears then disappeared.  And I awoke.

So what does this all mean?  A friend said, "Of course the bear is you and you are the bear, and the guide, and every other character in your dream."  

Perhaps, I said back.  But in truth I wonder why the bear(s) have returned.  For a long time the bear was muse to me, a way to explore the sacred, spiritual realm I felt so new to.  The bear that came to our yard when I was either sleeping or doing something elsewhere, was the essence of the Creator, was the mystery, was God.  I wrote and wrote about the bear, and then the bear disappeared.  Sort of.  I was always hoping to catch a glimpse of the Bear, which is what it became, but all I got was the frequent gift of scat filled with blackberry seeds or partly digested apple flesh.  

Okay, I did get to see a bear, or three, twice.  Once, early in the morning, as it trotted away with a grocery bag of garbage in its teeth, and again about two years later, around New Year, when first one, then two young bears raided our worm bin under the bedroom window.  These two were pushed away by a mother bear who resumed the raid.  I crept downstairs to get a better look, but in the dark my toe caught the leg of a chair, and the sudden sharp noise sent them all away.  

This isn't the whole story.  Not by a long shot.  Two days ago the woman in the story found an old friend and wrote a note to say hi.  The friend said hi back.  And the woman remembered a past in which the friend asked a question and the woman, nervous, skirted a true answer in favor of one that didn't sound too eager.  The evening progressed and became awkward, and the two friends parted.  Later the woman received a call on her birthday, which she returned days later to cold reception.  And that was that.  

And this is this - a sighting, a reawakening of an old question, half-answered.  Wonderment at the question's original intent and the lost opportunity to find out what the truth would have encouraged.  Will the woman ever find out exactly why the question was asked? Or did the nebulous answer she supplied those many years ago create an altered trail into the current time?

Confused?  That's okay.  You can fill in any story to go with the above.  I'm sure it will be a good and an interesting one, whatever path you choose to follow.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Groundhog- Siffleux

Groundhog- Siffleux
Originally uploaded by LeFion
Another view...

Whistlepig Day, 2009

At the gym today, which is where I get most of my TV watching done, I saw the images of fat groundhogs being hefted aloft, and I thought to myself that it's no wonder they see a shadow.  File:Closeup groundhog.jpg
From Wikipedia:

The groundhog (Marmota monax), also known as the woodchuck, land beaver or whistlepig, is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. Other marmots, such as the yellow-bellied and hoary marmots, live in rocky and mountainous areas, but the woodchuck is a lowland creature. It is widely distributed in North America and common in the northeastern and central United States. Groundhogs are found as far north as Alaska, with their habitat extending southeast toAlabama.[2]

Wonderful to think of this critter as a whistle pig

Also according to Wikipedia, under the heading of Human Relevance:

In the United States and Canada, the yearly Groundhog Day celebration has given the groundhog recognition and popularity, as has the movie of the same name. The most popularly-known of these groundhogs is Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog kept as part of Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

The etymology of the name woodchuck is unrelated to wood or chucking. It stems from an Algonquian name for the animal (possiblyNarragansett), wuchak. The apparent relationship between the two words has led to the common tongue twister: "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? — A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as he could if a woodchuck could chuck wood". Various response lines can answer this, including:

  1. "As much wood as a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood."[9]
  2. "As much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood."
  3. "A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood."[10]
  4. "A woodchuck would chuck all the wood, if a woodchuck only could."[11]
  5. "A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood."
  6. "42 pounds"

Groundhogs are sometimes eaten for food.[12]

So, it sounds as if we've a little more winter ahead of us. It's been a strange one indeed: so much snow when normally we barely have any.  And today it was in the mid-50's.  

A little groudhog poetry, if I can find any.  BRB.

The Groundhog
Eberhart, Richard (1904-)

In June, amid the golden fields, 
I saw a groundhog lying dead.
Dead lay he;  my senses shook,
and mind outshot our naked frailty. 
There lowly in the vigorous summer
His form began its senseless change, 
And made my senses waver dim 
Seeing nature ferocious in him. 
Inspecting close his maggots' might 
And seething cauldron of his being, 
Half with loathing, half with a strange love, 
I poked him with an angry stick. 
The fever arose, became a flame 
And Vigour circumscribed the skies, 
Immense energy in the sun, 
And through my frame a sunless trembling. 
My stick had done nor good nor harm. 
Then stood I silent in the day 
Watching the object, as before; 
And kept my reverence for knowledge 
Trying for control, to be still, 
To quell the passion of the blood; 
Until I had bent down on my knees 
Praying for joy in the sight of decay. 
And so I left;  and I returned 
In Autumn strict of eye, to see 
The sap gone out of the groundhog, 
But the bony sodden hulk remained. 
But the year had lost its meaning, 
And in intellectual chains 
I lost both love and loathing, 
Mured up in the wall of wisdom. 
Another summer took the fields again 
Massive and burning, full of life, 
But when I chanced upon the spot 
There was only a little hair left, 
And bones bleaching in the sunlight 
Beautiful as architecture; 
I watched them like a geometer, 
And cut a walking stick from a brich. 
It has been three years, now. 
There is no sign of the groundhog. 
I stood there in the whirling summer, 
My hand capped a withered heart, 
And thought of China and of Greece, 
Of Alexander in his tent; 
Of Montaigne in his tower, 
Of Saint Theresa in her wild lament.

Immortal Poems of the English Language (Williams)

And with that, I'm off to bed.


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