On Today’s Walk: A Balmy 30

footprints in snow
Snowy walk

Considering what’s going on in other parts of the U.S., I know we’re lucky. We’ve only had arctic cold and a few inches of snow. One water pipe made a half-hearted attempt at freezing the other night when the temperature dropped well below zero, but my husband thawed it pretty quickly. Still, other than going to work, I’ve been hunkering inside a lot, as high temps were in the single digits for several days running, with predominantly gray skies and not much to lure me out.

Today the sun came out and we reached 30 degrees in the afternoon. I was able to walk a mile and a half without ever once feeling a body part might drop off. It was comfortable, in fact, other than some small spots of treacherous footing.

I don’t know if sunshine is more important to my emotional well-being than it used to be or if I’m simply more aware of how it affects me. But I experience a marked difference in how much life seems worth the effort to me depending on the amount of sunlight I experience. Same with my walks outdoors. Maybe they’re a bigger part of maintaining my mental health than they were in days past, or maybe I’ve gotten better at noticing. Whatever it is, I know I feel much better for having gotten outside and walked in the fresh air today. I remember that doing so needs to be a top priority.

“Walking is man’s best medicine.” – Hippocrates.
“Walking is also great medicine for people who are not men.” – Me.

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I Never Saw the Commercial

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

I’ve spent the vast majority of my adult life not watching TV commercials. I didn’t own a television for a long time, and when I finally did get one, I never had cable. My viewing has been provided, for the most part, by DVDs and streaming services.*

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had some version of the following conversation:
Acquaintance: You know that TV commercial where…
Me: Blank stare
Acquaintance: You know. The one with the guy who…
Me: Slow head shake. No. No, I never saw it.

Some cultural phenomena pass me by altogether. It’s only in the last few days I’ve become aware of someone known as My Pillow Guy. I saw a news report saying My Pillow Guy visited the president at the White House to urge him to invoke martial law. Wait, what? Does anyone else know how odd that sounded, even without the martial law part, to someone who’d never heard of this particular peddler of headrests? Why did a pillow salesman have the ear of the president, and an interest in dictatorship? Was he hoping to force the populace to buy his cushions?

I quizzed my friends about him. Did everyone already know who he was? Has he been around a long time, or was he a manifestation of 2020, like the murder hornets? Did he come here from an alternate universe, maybe the same one that sent us evil J.K. Rowling? Are there other genres of him that I should be aware of? My Spatula Guy? My Throw Rug Guy?

By and large, my friends were aware of him, with one exception. None of them were surprised he was someone who would pal around with a person like the soon-to-leave head of state. I was told he’d been around for years, producing terrible infomercials, though his universe of origin has not been verified to me. There was no My Spatula Guy as far as any of them had heard — yet.

So now I know. I guess when you live in a really, really capitalist society, you have to watch the commercials to keep up with current events.

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*This isn’t a judgment on anyone else’s viewing habits, only providing context to explain my ignorance on this topic.

On Today’s Walk: Winter Walking

Here’s a game changer for my winter walks. A new coat, with much warmer sleeves than my old one. The temperature was 32, with a real feel of 27, but I was snuggly warm for two and a half miles. I also had on thermal underwear, so there’s that, too.

Winter coat
So warm.

The Winter Queen brushed her fingertips along the landscape as she went by.

Frosty shrubs

All hail the Queen!

Icy branches

Bow down before Her Majesty.

Ornamental grass bowed by snow

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That Lull Before the Renaissance

Photo by Oleg Zaicev on Pexels.com

My friend Liza posted on her Patreon page* about what Germans call “between the years,” that weird spell of time after Christmas but before the new year. Go read it. It’s entertaining and she dug up some interesting cultural information. Also, it reminded me that I wrote a poem on the very topic a couple of years back, not knowing there were entire national traditions surrounding this annual week of being at loose ends.


That Lull Before the Renaissance

That lull between Christmas and New Years Day
Is when pajamas serve as uniform
The chocolates are polished off
The one jigsaw puzzle of the year is assembled
Noble intentions gestate

We sleep in mornings 
Before the date arrives after which 
Every day
We’ll stir ourselves early 
To accomplish worthy deeds

We watch a few movies 
Before the date arrives after which
Every day
We’ll spend free time 
Working out and reading classics

We make grocery lists 
Full of carrots and broccoli
While crunching chips

We indulge and relax while we can
Before next week
When the work of the Renaissance begins


*Her Patreon also includes content behind a paywall that is well worth the low subscription price of pay what you can, if you’re looking for an independent author to support.

If We Make It Through December

I don’t listen to a huge amount of country music, but there are a few songs that speak to me. Oh, Merle, December is hard, isn’t it? Current mood.



December is the month of paradoxes for me and many others. I do love all of the holiday celebrations, but I struggle with the lack of light. This year, in particular, we all have an extra share of struggles, and the month is feeling to me like something to be endured while waiting for anything better. I have written a few poems about Seasonal Affective Disorder and I’ll share one here. Maybe I shouldn’t be so bold as to share my own efforts following the inestimable Merle Haggard, but what the hell? As long as I’m embracing the despair anyway?

December Days

Day pulls the covers in December, appeals
to me to join it in hiding.
Like the sun I will not bother
getting up much early. What for?
A few hours working at half power
seems enough; call it a day.

There’s nothing in this month
I want to see clearly. Why point up
the lack
of color, dormant
plants waiting for better times?
Nothing blooms, no birds
sing greetings
to morning.
Smarter than me, they have flown
to lands where December exists
as a quaint custom, where they have December
like Sweden has a king.
A crown there may be
or ornaments displayed to prove
the monarch or the month,
where forgetting is possible.
I need no reminders.

The season proves itself. I will try
ignoring it, hoping
it’s gone next time I look.
I will open my eyes
only half-way. I will pull the dark
covers over me.
Like the sun I will experience
the smallest amount of December 
I can manage.


I know I’ll get through it, and maybe even have a few moments of fun and joy. I always have before. And yes, I’m taking my vitamin D and getting exercise. But sometimes, a big component of getting through a rough time is acknowledging it’s a rough time.

Book Thoughts: The World is Full of A**holes

One of my writing buddies has a new book out. The World is Full of A**holes is a picture book for adults, and one that’s just what I needed at this point in time. It was written by K.L. Harris and illustrated by Nik Henderson, with the art and words complementing each other wonderfully.

Picture books for adults is a trend I’ve noticed over the last few years. I like it. I mean, I’ve been known to lose myself in 800-page tomes without illustrations and find it a satisfying experience. But sometimes, especially for deeply felt issues, going back to the format of a simply-delivered message is an effective salve. A poetic reminder that the world is full of assholes but that there are ways to deal with them and to keep from being them is the equivalent of a nudge to remember to drink enough water and to make sure I’m getting a little exercise on the regular. Basic messages and steps that make a huge difference in life.

The playful wording makes the book fun to read. When Harris lists the places and ways we might encounter assholes in our daily lives — “Assholes can be doctors, teachers, or people scooping ice cream” — the illustrations rely mostly on grim color combinations. But things lighten up considerably when the author pivots to the topic of guardians, “People who’ll speak up when you’re not treated right.” The world is full of those, too.

On Today’s Walk: the Nightmare Before Christmas

My son-in-residence consented to walk around the neighborhood with his old mom today. We live in an interesting part of the city and always find something new to catch our attention. The neighbors did not disappoint today.


Mix of Halloween & Xmas decorations
There’s always something to celebrate.

Carved tree stump
Just hanging around in my jorts.

I should note the skeletons and tree stump art are not in the same yard.

Poetry Reading, Me in Action

I did a thing, as part of the River Front Reading Series in Kansas City. Sorry about the glare on my glasses and the fact that I kept moving my head around trying to minimize it. But if you can overlook that and want to hear me read some poems, here’s a link to the video. I’m the first reader. I recommend sticking around for the second readers as well. I enjoyed her work a lot. Also, check out other River Front videos on YouTube.

A Poem and Yesterday’s Walk

The trees I saw on yesterday’s walk inspire me to share a poem I wrote.


Tree Envy

Instead of dreary gray strands threading subtly widening paths
about my head,
I desire blazing red 
for my autumn color
interspersed with patches of can’t-peel-your-eyes away yellow
and clusters
of an orange so perfectly sun-toasted
it holds its own as an independent hue
not remotely a blend of the other two.
I wish for the colors to burst
out all at once
so that people I meet
will feel their breath catch
at the splendor,
the glorious culmination of my maturity.



~~~

On Today’s Walk: Urban Wildlife

City deer

Today’s walk happened in the last 40 minutes of sunlight. My neighborhood is not too far from downtown, but also not too far from a couple of trailheads that go into a wooded corridor.

Barred owls were calling to each other. Whoo-hoo-hoo-HOO. Whoo-hoo-hoo-HOO. Where are you? I’m here. Like my husband and I yelling, “What?” to each other from different rooms.

And the neighborhood gang that has been raiding yards and gardens was caught in the act (see above.) I’ve watched these young ‘uns grow up during the course of this year, having seen them first when the two tawny ones were awkward spotted fawns stopping traffic in front of my house.

I don’t know why it surprises me when animals adapt and make their homes in cities. I’ve done the same thing, after all. I can’t begrudge them too much for the tomatoes they’ve eaten. They left us plenty, and we humans keep taking more and more land for buildings. They’ve got to feed the family somehow.

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