Archives for category: Writing

China DollsChina Dolls by Lisa See
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am a fan of Lisa See, and I read a lot about China, particularly in narrative form. She is a story teller and keeps the reader close to the page, hesitant to put her books down. I revered her Mom also, Carolyn See – what a family of writers.

I loved the detail, the history of the time, the breaking away from tradition and the courage of the three women. Highly recommend this book!


The toast, more than slightly burned and twisted, rose with her pale limpid hand, as Emily, a follower of Ron Paul, Edward Dash, Holley Holes and other limpid like creatures, spoke with as much force as she could emanate, all the while reclining in an odd twisted way on the mint green julep chaise lounge, redecorated since it birthed into the world of her grandmother Nenny, who never had a wrinkle in her life, and Emily thought, as her head with its faint gossamer curls of faded L’Oreal Red Fire Engine Red, and Nenny who never had a thought in her life, pondered, her Wet N’Wild Lipstick number 2002, the color that ran in Russian department stores for so long, cracked and a bit of dryness seeped into her part glossy, but dry and cracked upper lip, and she went on, pushed into the stale breeze of conversation about New Year’s Resolutions, and tilted her toast to the left and then to the right like a politician of years gone by, too ineffective to make a difference, as if difference mattered in these days of political slime and split, but still, the stillness in the air, the pallid air, stilled even more, to a microscopic silence and she said, “Out with the old and in with the new,” and her boyfriend Henry, all new as a boyfriend of 2 ½ days, caught the sailing crisps of bread parts in the air with both hands, and he said in an adoring voice that rose to a falsetto, or sounding like Alfred Deller in a Vivaldi piece, Ode to Joy or something like that, he quivered, “Out with the old and in with the new,” repeating his new love’s most spontaneous act, a second one indeed, if he could count, and he would love to count it, her slight ack moan slipping from her rouged and ruined mouth from their 7 minutes of passion the night before, consummated so quickly, so eloquently, so quietly, and then the crowd, looking more like Edward Gorey characters who just stepped off their one dimensional cover of the new Edward Gorey 2012 Calendar made up of twitches and twatches of woebegone Victorian figures, some full, and burley in sweaters and pondering thought with pen in right hand, left hand wanly holding a small blank square of paper, some in bold black, green and white chequered plaid, with the usual maiden with darkened Kohl eyes nearby, and a lady who looked very much like our beloved Emily, may we by now, the avid, sturdy, stalwart reader who has reached the end of this essay of small black marks, may we call her Em, and may we finish this piece as we hear all the voices Gorey and others, writers and wishes everywhere say, “My only resolution is to write more!”

This was terrifically fun and well done; Steve’s a buddy, and the biggest encourager (word?) for my work. I’m reading this in my pjs; hmmmm

I just spent one hour trying to get a Wordle on to my blog, my next adventure.
AM GOING WORD FISHING THROUGH DECEMBER 12, and have to wean myself off Facebook, my Blog, others blogs. I’m teaching 4 classes at moment; subject to change. I started a novel during Nano Wrimo month, and an opportunity to work on it further calls me. I’ll miss everyone, but it has to be done.

<Wordfishing at the Casbar, Old Town words, rainer maria rilke, pug dogs, Boston, whitey bulgher, lost loves, cubicle despair, the many lives of Baby Cakes Nelson, life reviews, Ross Dress For Less, destiny smeshtiny, let go, unemployed, Bubba, Bumpa, pug dogs, forces of light and darkness, 4 pound baby, oneness, being a Virgo, twin, pain, health, relationships, aaargh relationships, hot tears, successful candidates, prey, cabby hats, FISHINGFORWORDS

gotta get to this

Funny.  From the blog Embracing Homelessness – this person is an incredible writer, and I am privileged to know her.

Reader:  Janine, a wonderful member of our verbally weird and adventurous, skilled, blabby CHPercolatorCoffeehouseforWriters – suggested a prompt overusing adjectives.  Here’s my take:

Muffy Kincaid, that lustrous blonde with just a wee bald spot on the top of her head, revealing a dot, a splot, a mere quiver of pink flesh, under which spot, a brain whirred, as if agile and liquid,

and our Muffy conjured up ways to attract Alfred to her yoga class, in which she would point her long, long, long, long, limber, limber, limber legs and elegantly formed, mushroom like in its splendor big toe to the dappled white ceiling which was in tiles if you want to know, and they were becoming loose,

as Harry Raymond, a swish of a guy, who stood on head in his irritable, Terrible Tempered Tommy Bangs moments of anger, sweating, frustration, brought on by glaring at the cellular, no  – not cellular — oh why had our Tommy Bangs, histrionic hero of the Yoga Loaf, on the top floor of a bakery, a hot, hot, hot floor, why could he not, indeed, could not find fame, and then our little mischievous Muffy, with a nickname of misky tisky, conjured again, under that pink spot of the brain,

having listened carefully, her spike-like cilia open to Harry Raymond’s needs and desires, thought, “Why I can kill 2 birds with one stone,” and thought Alfred twisted and twined his “Hi I’m from the Maine Woods,” thick lumber-like legs, would come and discover the lascivious twists and turns of

Dear Muffy, who not only thought under that pink spot on her head, but lusted, yes, our audacious mild mannered heroine Muffy admitted to lust,

and if she could entice Alfred into a yoga studio, surely Alfred would receive a memorable metaphoric epiphany and envision, using his yet to be developed connecting skills under his skull, yes our Alfred, had  a skull, but opposites attract, pink spots vs. skull and

Alfred from Maine would visualize throwing Muffy into the clover and violating her in the vilest way, all the while, thinking, this all started because I left my man cave, my man ways and went to Yoga, and Harry Raymond, that insipid white crow of a man, actually had some tricks up his sleeve with which to twitch and turn and perhaps thrust (oh dear an inflammatory thought) and so I would end this earnestly written tale with the motto,

“Yes the Muffies of the world, can conjure, and the Harry Raymonds of the world, will live to see another economically assured day, in this time when men of reptilian brain, and smaller anatomy down there, trot and scheme behind the crooked corridors of power.

eloquent, nonpartisan, well-considered response to corruption! you Steven!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He  gave out Reader Appreciation Awards to 7 people – My blog was one of them!

I Googled the award today, looking for the bright sunflower, and didn’t find its source. So Reader, this is what I think it is.  We bloggers, who run across out computer keys at night when the earth sleeps, play word games in the velvet ether of the night, toss out sorrows, hug happiness, create metaphoric mountains and potholes, and all the while race towards the world and each other in a prepublishing, I’m going to publish this tomorrow on WordPress!  We all fall into this category.  We who blog.  Those who read blogs.  Both, all, none, many.

The rules of the Reader Appreciation Award:

1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog – check center photo above.  Ta da!!

2. Answer 10 questions (listed below) for fun if you want to.

3. Nominate 6 or 10 to 12 blogs you enjoy

4.  Provide the links to these blogs and let them know they’ve been nominated

5.  Provide a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you —-

10 Questions and my answers for the Reader Appreciation Award

1.  What is your favorite color?

The color of the current book I am reading, or the wine colored cover of Gleanings, Baha’i Writings.

2. What is your favorite animal – no need for me to answer; everyone who reads this post will roar back.  Pug Dogs.

3.  What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Lemonade, don’t drink Alcohol

4.  Facebook or Twitter

FB, my home away from home, the entrace to the train station called my life!

5.  Favorite patterns?

Pattern of oneness and connectedness in relations throughout the globe.

6.  Do you prefer getting or giving presents?

Giving, giving.

7.  Favorite number?

Nine (9)

8.  Favorite day of  the week?


9.  Favorite flower?

Purple Iris

10.  What is your passion?

Giving people opportunities to discover and/or develop their voice – teaching creative writing.

My 8 nominations for the Reader Appreciation Award:  – Pugs, pugs, and more pugs.  Enchanting when the heart is orphaned      and one’s physical space not allowed this type of 4 legged package of      entitlement.  Gwendolyn McIntyre – perceptions on      writing, life, things that go bump, keep the writer going!   Phillipe Copeland is author of the blog, “Baha’i Thought” which offers commentary on issues of religion, society, and culture based on the teachings of the Baha’i Faith.,      mrslittlejeans is a scientist and offers enchanting views of her two      felines, photographs of same, and a sharing of mystic perceptions.   Jill Jepson – I have her book, the back cover of which reads in part, “Discover the Soul of Writing,” writing medications, prompts, rituals, exercises all drawn from traditions of Buddhist monks, Navajo storytellers, and much more.

.  Studio Morran, dogs, crafts, art, visual whimsy!  A published writer, writing teacher of note, an encourager to all  prolific poet, enchantress with words …  metaphors and smiles – enchanting poetry-Hannah Gosselin  so whatcha think  – Brooke Ryter – a book, an impact, soon to be revealed – check it out. 

Maria McCutchen has written a book, It’s All in Your Head, and I think her story should be widely read.  I’ll show image. I got my book at Alibris, an online bookstore, which sometimes has prices less than Amazon.  At any price, this is an important book.  Leonid’s World  is the name of his blog.  We met him inMinsk when we gave English Club sessions.  He’s fascinating, innovative, and dear, and he speaks of past history and his family.

Love and best wishes to all.

Wednesday Mel posted a blog by me, and I was the guest blogger.  Today and a few days ago, this blog went out with Mel as my guest blogger

Reader, junior learner here.  Baby Lois Lane.  Blogger in apprentice is reblogging this very same post, because I get the feeling, people think I, esther, aka sorrygnat, wrote this blog of Mel’s.  Hmmm I wish.  Mel is an accomplished writer, and yes we are bookends this week and yes, she’s from Boston, and yes, she teaches writing, but her influence is much broader than mine.  I bow to her good writing.  So, here t’is, so Mel gets the credit.!


P.S. we  all met on the I Am Not Bob April Challenge, a generous and life changing encounter with writers. 



Mel Jones is a native Bostonian. She grew up on the Irish Riviera –The South Shore.

As a child, she spent many hours sitting in trees reading books and writing poems. She had her own newspaper column at fifteen and was determined that she would be the next Shakespeare or Tolkien. She was educated at The College of William and Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Antioch University, Los   Angeles. She holds degrees in History, English, Rhetoric, Literature, and Creative Writing (Nonfiction). Yes, she is overeducated. 

She has done extensive genealogical research both for her own family tree and professionally

 Mel edited a now defunct literary journal, The Sylvan Echo. She’s taught children from kindergarten through college in a variety of public and private settings.  She currently teaches College-level Composition. Mel is the founder of The Midlothian Writers’ Workshop.  She offers a variety of services for writers, including retreats.

Publications include, a book of poetry, Between the Lines (2005), and essays in The William & Mary Gallery, Sherwood Forest,and online at Little Seal and r.k.vr.y. She recently had an epiphany, if she sent her work out more, she would be published more. She’s working on that. She maintains a sometimes snarky blog, Mel’s Madness, which is more Erma Bombeck than William Shakespeare. Mel lives and writes on a small leisure farm west of Richmond, Virginia with her partner, parrots, and progeny.

Country Sunday Drive.

This morning I had to run to the store. Now for those of you who live in the real world that entails a 1/2 mile, maybe a mile’s drive. But not here. It’s eight miles to the local grocery store (national chains like Food Lion or Kroger are longer drives).

I pulled out of my driveway—watching carefully—because I live in a curve. My up-the-hill-neighbors apparently forgot that at some point last night; their cute little blue rag-top was sprawled in the ditch in front of their house. It took out the little green phone box. I knew my internet would be down. City folks! They moved here because they wanted “life in the county.” That’s what they told me in the one conversation we had over the old rusted barbed wire fence that separates our two properties. I’ll bet they have had more country than they can stand at this point. At least that’s how it looked as I drove by the stranded car.

I briefly wondered if they had swerved to avoid some sort of animal. I did that once. I slammed on the brakes when a rabbit hopped out in front of me. It was the first country lesson that I learned: do not slam on your breaks on a dirt road. Bad things happen. The rabbit hopped away, fine.

I totaled the car.

Anyway, I made my way up my windy road without incident. I stopped at the red light that annoys the locals so badly, Damned city folk! Who needs lights? All anyone’s gotta do is look both ways! That’s what the old folks said. It was a big deal when they put that light in; the county has six traffic lights now. Down right depressing.

I picked up the things I needed and started my trek back.

Now one would think this too would be uneventful. Au contraire. Once I turned at the traffic light back onto the road that leads home I had to stop to let the groundhog pass. I sighed. Then I had to stop and let the Sunday riders on their quarter horses pass, and then there were deer. I watched as two hawks swooped into a field for breakfast. They were successful. I was beginning to think, aaahhhh, were it not for the traffic light, this could be heaven.

But then I came around the curve. And there he was. A Black Angus bull in the road. In the road my poor little Mercury Sable was driving on. I was sure my car would lose a battle with him. I was sure I would just piss him off. And then I would have to get out of my car and face him. What was I to do? There was no cell service on that part of the road, not that I would know who to call about a bull in the road anyway.

I confess, my first thought when I saw the massive blackness in the road was that perhaps it was, I dunno, not real. It was a shadow or something. Maybe this one was of those flashbacks I had been warned about. But then, he snorted at me, just like in the cartoons with his flared nostrils steaming.

I slammed on my brakes. Thankfully this road was paved.

I have lived here for twenty years, but I have never encountered a raging bull in the road before. I’ve seen them in fields – safely behind electrified fences. I’ve seen farmers scurrying away—running for their lives. Once I even watched as the county deputies were chased out of a field. They were tracking a runaway. A bull snorted at them while he pawed the ground. They ran: deputies and blood hounds. The Bull treed the runaway, who was grateful when the farmer brought feed for his herd. One has little recourse with a bull.

I beeped my horn.

He snorted. Round one to the bull.

I inched forward.

So did he. Round two to the bull.

By now there were three or four vehicles stopped in each direction. No one wanted to play chicken with a bull. Several young men in fancy pick-ups were collectively shaking in their boots in the northbound lane.

Then, just as we were all beginning to feel a little bit desperate there in the morning sun, a little old man in a woody-style station wagon came along, got out of his car and hollered at the bull, “Get the hell off of the road! I’m a-gonna be late for church God damn it!” He took off his hat and swished it at said bull. Then punched him in the nose.

The bull skulked away. Round three to the old man.

My neighbor’s car was still in the ditch and my other neighbor’s pigs were scouting it out—they were inside the car and nosing around in the front seat. Pigs are curious animals. The neighbor should have put the windows up. Maybe the bull had been in the road when my neighbors were coming home last night and they too thought he couldn’t be real. I don’t know. But it would be less than a month before that farmhouse came up for rent again.

Monday Discovery: Esther Bradley-DeTally.

from You Carry the Heavy Stuff,, the author’s garage….. ISBN 978-0-557-20933-0-essays, poetry, observations from a twin’s dying to cubicle despair in a corporate world with voices of buoyant pathos, mystical reverence – you catch my drift

Why do I write?  Like now, when the dishes sit orphaned in the kitchen sink because I, the washer, am typing, sharing, breathing, living, putting off the inevitable, because once a long time ago, I was so hurt, I couldn’t breathe.  I carried that hurt with me forever, until I found out that sensitivity is the price and the prize for being able to write, for being able to read people, to Braille the unsaid.  I write to a lady in prison, who said “I liked a phrase you wrote, “The language of God is a tear running down someone’s cheek.”

I write because I read, insatiably, gobbling, inhaling, filling myself with the human condition; splat on the floor some days, like a big old squishy bug, flattened, dead, its body swept up by old straws on a broom; and then I write to show the magic of St. Theresa’s Snow Queen Altar when I was young, and how everything looked like a wedding cake, and I write to tell how when I was younger, and so needy I could have impaled myself on a stake wide and big, sort of like a meta-letter holder, except the stake would run through my insatiably needy heart, and a note on my back would read “loves too much,” and that was before the book Women Who Love Too Much.

I write because I have gone beyond Medieval Posts puncturing my despair and loneliness and have decided Men Who Love too Much is here too.  Maybe we all love too much, and I write because maybe none of us love too much, for we are told by images in advertising, that we should be thin, jaded in the eyes, like the look of models for Vogue or whatever, who probably could shoot up heroin on their lunch hours, and because despair is trendy and nihilism and materialism and not giving a damn might be the language of the hour.  But then there is the lonely, little, big, young, old, trembling, brassy, you-catch-my-drift-writer who writes because he or she must, and words have a visceral effect upon her, him, the dog, the surrounding room.  I write of hopes for the world, and a good ham sandwich or description thereof on a sour dough roll, with slabs of mayo, and a bed of lettuce, and curled pink ham,  ready to go into someone’s mouth which is opened to the size of half a ladder, is  a good thing, a good description.

What this nation needs is a good ham sandwich and a Pepsi without the aspartame and some down to honest to goodness honesty that is the natural condition to communicate, to be real, to be afraid of bugs in knotty pine walls when the walls come alive at night; to watch an elderly blind woman, clutch the corners of her walker, take a breath and remain a sweet sweet spirit, knowing that her condition, her tests are the divinely calibrated kind, even though trucks have run over her emotionally, and I write to tell of the anonymous amongst us, the bravery, the small acts of courage, kindness in this nation where the world is narcissistically checking its derriere in the mirror, and no one or precious few are listening to the “midnight sighing of the poor,” and where we must have immense courage and speak up; talk, yeah, walk the talk, be it; speak up; tell future generations who we were, wanted to be, became anyhow and our hopes for the future; because someday we will all be sensitive, spiritually inclined, aware of our oneness,  and otherness will go on a back shelf like Twinkies, no longer approved of by the American Heart Association, and writing will be celebrated by hoots and hollers and a piping or two from a medieval horn or Siberian throat, and the arts will have a way of grabbing our soul’s innards and carrying us through the day.  These are some of the reasons I write, but there are others, but today is Wednesday and those are my Wednesday’s writing reasons.

Five weeks ago I had a steady Sorry Gnat blog following of about 7 people.  People know me a bit around the City of Pasadena.  A few months ago my Irish Mug was on the cover of Pasadena Weekly, because I teach writing at the Women’s Room in Pasadena, a workshop for volunteers, homeless women, and women in transition.

I also teach a couple of other  writing workshops in the Pasadena- mainly at the La Pintoresca Branch, and conduct a small one, for donation only, in the basement of Ten Thousand Villages, the most fantastic and aesthetically snappy fair trade store, located on Lake and California.

I felt stagnated by my inadequacies with my blog.  I had a major friend who has helped me a lot.  The fabulous Mizz V – shrunk my SorryGnat banner, twiddled and twaddled comments and headings appropriately, but she got a job, and I ordered 10-12 books from the library on Blogging.

I need to stretch I thought.  This is how I get creative thoughts.  They nudge me or pop up when my nose is halfway down my first cup of coffee in the morning.  Along came #@MNINB, and I was a hashtag apprentice, a Linkedin Babe, a Twitter type of gal.  I’m already on FB with people from around the world.  It helps to travel and live in other countries.

A few weeks ago someone sent The Versatile Blogger award, and I have still to figure out how to affix it to a margin type area so it hangs out in the neighborhoods of facts and figures about this writer who’s up there in age, but has the writing voice of a 35-year old.

This week, of which Monday seems a 100 years ago, 2 of the #MNINB recommended me for a Liebster because for the month of  April MNINB challenge a goodly amount of writers scattered from Massachusetts to Malta (not really) connected, with a spirit of oepn welcome and we cheer each other on.

So thank you to  Susan Craig, .  She’s a scientist with a background in neurobiology, and studied effect of Alzheimer’s disease proteins on brain cells for over 10 years.  She currently teaches college biology.  Her favorite thing to do is write books about strong, smart women and men who love and appreciate them.  Her blog reveals true stories, science material, fiction, inspiration, and you name it.  Lucky us.  Lucky me, I subscribe to her blog.

And also, another blogger nominated me during the same week of 100 years:

Thank you Kristi Carver,  Kristi is a writer, small business owner, and Registered Nurse.  My twin was a Registered Nurse, and believe you me, I felt safe with her in my life. Thanks Kristi.  When you visit her blog, you fall into a heavenly photo of a lake in Colorado, and all tension slips away.  Colorado beauty, plus aspiring author, who is a blueberry fanatic, wine enthusiast, and constant reader, and a memoir addict.  Be still my heart.

Now, I pay it forward and nominate up to 5 blogs with less than 200 followers, and let these nominees know they’ve come under the Liebster shadow by leaving a comment on on of their posts.  I added the Liebster image, so I’m okay ont hat.

My nominees are: – what can I say? When the world gets too lurchy, self-absorb, insane, I click on Kofeart’s site and her art enchants me.  I hope you like it too! I don’t know if he has 1,000 followers, but he was one of my original 7 devotees, and he’s special in my blogger’s heart; funny, current, aware, and enchanting.

 The blog & the book – are by Paul Waters from Northern Ireland, writes, makes radio & telly shows, blogs and footer about with social media. Get in touch if you’d like me to do it for you, either here or at paulwaters99 at .  It’s not a kangaroo, it’s a horse’s head, which might be from The Godfather. The pith helmet however, definitely used to sit on the head of Spike Milligan. (Memoir Writers Blog)I need all the information on Memoirs.  I don’t know if she’s widely blogged, so I added her, because I learn from people like this blogger. – okay, okay, the blog is about depression – but to a writer, artist, or whatever creative type, depression is a fantastic topic, and I am sure she heals herself by her work.  Her images are enchanting.  I adore her post.  What can I say, check it out! – Artist, writer, traveler, whimsy, E.B.-White-wit goes outer space, early member of, incredible friend, encourager, and lives next town over.  His Uneasy Rider posts are terrific.  He’s the reason why I write better than I used to after my first book, and why I published (he helped-bless his saintly soul) You Carry the Heavy Stuff, and is just all in all an enchanting wit and fried of both myself and Bill and so many others.

So that’s it. Now they check out The Liebster Award, and sally forth.  Gratitude to all who labor! Smile.


New York Times Best Seller

A Mostly True Memoir - a must read

So, you are ambling along in the library, and you check into your books on hold. Did I mention, I’m a memoir addict?

Okay, okay, the author? Jenny Lawson, and she’s called “The Bloggess,” Yep, I  ordered a book based on the cover, and of course that it’s a memoir. A white rat who looks in need of dental work, wears a stunning black velvet cape, with a red  silk lining.  His rat feet look like a DSW size 10? He has a white ruffled tutu type collar, the kind used in Medieval days, which if you want to know seem just like yesterday.

Okay, okay, the author? She’s called “The   Bloggess,” and did I meet her in my Name is Not Bob Blog April   challenge, MNINB?  I’m Not Bob April Challenge (MNINB) caused a loose knot in the sky, a gnarled rotting elbow on a tree, to fall on my neck and pressure  stress liquids into my brain.

I don’t know where I discovered Jenny Lawson, but  Reader, I read this book while slammed with the process of April Challenged which Not Bob gave to us bloggers, and I laughed, and chuckled, and snuffled   and snorted at midnight, in the quiet ambiance of our 2-room pool house of   the high ceilings and spillage of computer material, books, whatever.

Okay, sorry for the hot dogging, but The Bloggess,  aka Jenny Lawson, wrote “A Mostly True Memoir,” and that works for   me. She had me on the rat cover. I love the abandoned warrens of her mind,   picture Kafka-toned jokes as her thoughts trot ahead of us readers, twisting,   turning, always into belly laughing and chortles. She is snarky in deed, and   she got me on “folded vagina,” and claimed my heart and soul when I   discovered she had a Pug, Barnaby Jones.

The book is filled with huge metal chickens,   small creatures of the stuffed kind (her father was a crazy Taxidermist).

Reader, what is one to do with chapter titles   like, “Stabbed by Chicken,” “Hairless Rats Free for Kids   Only,” and an enchanting view of detachment from a bizarro childhood,  and interstitial laughter and views of a marriage with an wonderfully funny  man.

I read the first few pages and thought, maybe   I’m too old for this contemporary writing, but when I finished this book,   Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson’s writing claimed me.

My brother–in-law called me “The   Bro-ess,” and now I, the Broess, am on the devotee path of one Bloggess.   Kudos to all who write

Okay Reader, I’m going to jump right in.  Mars recommended me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  \

I thanked her and waited in silence for an email to come over the horizon saying, “You’ve won our Versatile Blogger Award.”  It doesn’t work that way.

My them for the April Challenge, MNINB, “It doesn’t work that way.”

So today, I am going to try to do several things at once.  I am a superb multitasker, but whiz around so, I fall off the planet on a daily basis.  My call to action comes at the end.  First the award.

pathway to knowledge, wonder and humility

Thank you Mars, dear tender-aged Mars whose blithe spirit shines through and captures the poetic tendrils of my heart. (repeated it).  Select 15 bloggers I’ve recently discovered or have been following regularly.  I nominate the blogs below for the versatile blogger award. (Advice:  Google it, and following the instructions.), long time friend, writer, lived in Bolivia and Chile 30 years, early member and continuing member of CHPercolatorCoffeeHouseFor Writers, and just one who you can roll around a floor laughing., I adore Soul Pancake, and use it in my writing classes at times.  I also gave the book Soul Pancake to my granddaughter.  I have connected with blogger and will do online interview!      Northern Ireland, author and enchanting commentator; have been following him since he found me – how I don’t know.  I think I had 7 followers then.  Author of Mountain of Crumbs, on Goodreads, Russian heritage. I lived in Ukraine and Belarus, spent some time in Moscow and Siberia, follow her blog on Goodreads.   new; intriguing; she was in a class of mine   a  new, refreshing blog about farm life, and well written.  Sagas, small s really about lambs being born, lamb bloat, the birds; all have names, and the blogger’s pieces undo the knot in the back of my neck from my social media strain.   Kofegeek is a silly geometer, a lover of coffee and fresh carrot   An exquisite young writer, working on her first novel – we meet once a week and share our writing through prompts!

friend, who is a scientist, a Baha’i and who writes enchanting, whimsical pieces., a very talented artists.  She had a stroke and since then she’s been producing the paintings you will see on her website. one of the first bloggers to reach out at beginning of our MNINB April challenge, generous in spirit and knowledge

terrifically informative re writing  I love her art

Okay this is for the lovely Mars – 7 things about myself

1.  I am 73, but have the writing voice of a 35 year old;p spunky, funny, deep, spiritual, whatever.

2.  I am a twin; fraternal, she died a few years ago.

3.  I am a member of the Baha’i Faith – since 1966 – was Catholic from Boston

4.  I am a pug dog devotee

5.  I have lived in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, Minsk, Belarus, spent time at Lake Baikal in Siberia, looked across borders to Mongolia, stared at the biggest fattest head of Lenin in Ulan Ude, Siberia, and crawled across railroad tracks and clung to barely the inside of a train in Eastern Ukraine, and last I road on a bus with our interpreter who thought beings from Mars would soon pop up, and where the bus driver stopped the bus, and said about the quacking goose in our midst, “Off with his head,” but of course, the goose lived, and we did too.

6.  I am a memoir addict, and started reading 4 books a day when I was 7; since then, my addiction has grown.

7.  I teach several writing workshops, one of which to homeless women, and they rock.


I definitely am a communications maven, the drawback being, I wasn’t savvy about social media management tools.  Last night, or night before, I read a whole page describing social media, but it would not enter my brain.  I think the Blog is my favorite (Psst, don’t tell the others). I’ve also added many blogs to follow, conquered LinkedIn, decided against shrinking my URL now, and am considering the blogs mentioned in MNINB, April 21.  I think I’m up to date, theory only.  I have to assimilate.

This morning I awakened thinking about Tweeting, Twittering, you catch my drift.

Before I started my blog, I communicated with a couple of hundred people around the world.  It helps to move a lot.  Al, my recent graduated from marketing at Yale, with his MBA, said, “You have to have a blog.”  I did.  I was grateful to my 2-3 followers; bless their stalwart qualities.

I blogged, FB’d, emailed everyone about everything.  I’ve written 2 books and can promote them well.  I teach writing, so there you go, more computer time.  I like FB.  I didn’t think Twitter could be used for ordinary computers.  I thought it was for cell phones, the kind of cellies my young friends carry, i.e., sleek black, red, buttons, icons, push here, push there.  I felt Twitter was the scoop-up-words type of thing, words from the top of my head.  I like to go deeper.  Too brief, too shallow, too Valley Girl almost.

LinkedIn repelled me.  I grew up in a family that regarded their status proudly. Boston was glutted with those families who know their social divides.  I didn’t retain these traditions.

So I thought, Linked-in-schminked-in.

Now, I’m a Twitterer, a FBer, definitely a blogger, an email, and a Yenta of sorts locally for people who look for work, relationships, just anything.  A new friend, in from India, said I’m like a local Google, except with a small g.

I write because I must.  I write to weave humor, pain, suffering, and I write about anything, from sow bugs and sorry gnats to concepts of racial justice, oneness,  and I glut Goodreads with my I’ve read or to read type of thing.  I subscribe to Powell’s on line, Book browse, locally, and on.

I am like an untrained Dalmatian.  I bound into life.  But, a concern I have, throwing aside professional need, is Twitter.

I wonder what sociologists will make of our current culture.  We have invisible lace webs over our heads that cartoon out – “didja eat,” “how bout them Dodgers,” and every other light through, phrase or sentence that settles tentatively on our brains.

What does this say indicate about attention span in the future?

I’m light, I’m funny, and I love whimsy and playing with words.  We do a lot of that on CHPercolatorcoffeehouseforwriters, and I guffaw on the floor over our hilarious exchanges.  But, I wonder, if we just go to a restaurant, casual, Marie Calender’s, Denny’s, Cocos, and see kids to adults to seniors.  A lot of heads are bent over their cell phones tweeting.

What about social skills?

We live in a society that is tremendously immediate.  Instant news.  “You heard it first at Blah Blah News.”  I can multitask without a blink of an eyelash.  But, can I sit down and study things, reflect at great length.  At this point in our world, is the speed of light winning, and reflection of the light losing?

I want quality.  I’m naturally speedy and can type rapidly.  But I want depth too.  It seems in the world today we inhale.  We inhale words, sounds, pressures, work, you name it.

A Hopi prophecy said, “When the world speeds up, slow down.”

That said.  I throw myself into my day and am enormously busy, but my relationships are fun and solid, and we form friendships in our writing circles, in my Baha’i life.

Sure, I’d like to be recognized; what writer wouldn’t.  But life is more than that.  I tell my students, we are reaching a time on the planet where arts should be everywhere, an Arts Rising type of thing.  The world is so busy, so full, why can’t we soar locally, forget the star system, a Kingdom of Names type of thing.  It’s all about bringing life and love and creativity to one another.  We don’t always need a stage.

I’d love and welcome other comments.  These are mine at the end of a busy Sunday.

Brandi’s prompts today or yesterday from and my response today:

Tell us why you became a part of this fabulous league of writers!
2. “According to the hard-hitting journalism of cosmos…”
3. Of all the skeletons in my closet, you are my favorite.

List your personal comfort foods, bonus points  if you tell us why each one is comforting.


One day, when the earth was young, and bubbling, in a cute kind of primordial way, I was sitting, driving, thinking, wondering, if I were anorexic and a fiction writer, could I, just possibly, write about all the skeletons in my closet and how I admired their paucity of flesh.
Exactly dear reader. They had no flesh.

Then I mulled over which type of comfort food I was in the mood to eat.  I couldn’t decide on either bowlS of Hagen Das vanilla ice cream with buckets of Hersey syrup or my old standby; that balled-up-in-a-fist peanut butter and jam sandwich on wheat if you please, but a friend, a writer from CHPercolator sent me an
email encouraging me. He encourages well, and to all I note.

Soooo, long story short, I had just finished several advanced writing classes with Jack Grapes, –  superb writing workshop leader, and I had blasted out of the gate of Write Like You Talk, into Write Like You Sing, Absence of Field, Teeth and Mouth writing (feel your mouth and teeth going over syllables and words you produce), Write Like You Sing, (think Martin Luther King, or Dickens, “It was the best of times, the worst of times…”) literary, heavy on the multisyllabic, so reader, you catch my drift. Are you with me? (Straight talk) and I thought  why not try CHPercolatorCoffeehouseforwriters, and the rest is history. Two years later, enter into my crooked pathways of a brain, a book, You Carry the Heavy Stuff – (Lulu, Amazon, my house), a combination of writing styles, homage to Oakley Hall, Jack Grapes, and stuff from their workshops, plus my responses
to CHPerc prompts.

The lesson: A little prompt goes a long way.

So how do you feel about prompts?  Writing Workshops?  Do they help?

P.S. Open House to my blog, no visitor turned away, sign up, and we’ll dance together among the words.

my name is not bob challenge

learning modes

Reader, may I call you reader.  help me in my hour of trouble and affliction.  Here’s the deal.  I’m blogging.  Bless me Lord, for I am blogging.  I am FB-ing, with about 700 of my cronies around the world.  I twitted over to tweet and succumbed, barely.  I checked my name, Esther Bradley-DeTally, against Google, Bing, and a whole bunch of little places with interesting names of which I have forgotten.  In other words, I am in Brain-Stretch, big time.  Before I toddle through this page with episodic thoughts, first let me say, My Name is Not Bob is great, and Not Bob is a generous man.  As a respondee to my blog, Keith, of the winsome words with a touch of dry flour around them, said, “Bob sounds like an inspirational fellow.”  Indeed he is.  As you are my fellow bloggers.

I am concerned about my long-time 7-10 hard-core followers, since my blog has grown, and since this challenge came along. I fear they all could fit inside a telephone booth, but I’ve been known to exaggerate.

I am back from the dentist – 2 crowns needed, and as I walked in the door,   I received a call from an older woman I revere.  She called to tell me a writing suggestion given years ago in one of my workshops changed her life.  It was simple, “Make a timeline,” and in her early years, she was heavily burned at 2, her father died in a fire later, she added all the good transformational stuff, and saw the wisdom and purpose of all things and people in her life, even the original accident, for which she had numerous plastic surgeries.   We yukked and jawed, and I got off the phone buoyant to have given a shred of anything light to this incredible lady who is now 88.

So far so good Reader.  Are you with me?  Do you catch my drift? I had a tuna sandwich, picture a round tuna with bits of green heap, the heel of my hand smashing two slices of bread around it and my eating it as I walked to my laptop.  Open I am Not Bob.  April 11 – challenge.  This is so wonderful.  I read down to Not Bob’s list of five popular URL shorteners.  I checked out because Not Bob said, “This is my favorite.”

I cannot be responsible for the way my eyes which rolled around like loose pinballs shooting out of an Arcade game because of broken curly wires.  I went to the Techy God for explanations:  Wikipedia.


URL shortening   Pro:

is a technique on the World Wide Web in which a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) may be made substantially shorter in length and still direct to the required page. This is achieved by using an HTTP Redirect on a domain name that is short, which links to the web page that has a long URL. For example, the URL can be shortened to or This is especially convenient for messaging technologies such as Twitter and, which severely limit the number of characters that may be used in a message. Short URLs allow otherwise long web addresses to be referred to in a tweet. In November 2009, the shortened links on one URL shortening service were accessed 2.1 billion times.[1]

Normally, a URL shortening service will use the top-level domain of a country that allows foreign sites to use its extension, and is a common ending in the English language, such as .ly (Libya), to redirect worldwide using a short alphanumeric sequence after the provider’s site address in order to point to the long URL.

Another use of URL shortening is to disguise the underlying address. Although this may be desired for legitimate business or personal reasons, it is open to abuse and for this reason, some URL shortening service providers have found themselves on spam blacklists, because of the use of their redirect services by sites trying to bypass those very same blacklists. Some websites prevent short, redirected URLs from being posted


There are con views so as readers you can Google Wikipedia, but I think to myself, “not right now Esther.”  Later.  I can shorten my own words within Twitter Texts, and because I drip, exude words in every other social media area, shortening my URL doesn’t seem to amount to a hill of beans.

That said, I’m off to read Best Blogs:  I do so like Rain Wilson’s Soul Pancake,; now there’s a mind with many tunnels.




Reader, may I call you reader.  This is a response to my blog of yesterday about being an old gal with a 35-year-old voice.  You see that blog had its genesis in CHPercolatorCoffeeHouseforWriters – a yahoo site.  My friend Steve encouraged me.  Steve is responsible for my latest book You Carry the Heavy Stuff, and ChPercolator.  It’s free; we only encourage, never criticize, check it out.

Keith is a funny writer, and any email or comments from him make me yuck and chortle.  Steve and I even drove down to Disneyland area, Anaheim area, to visit Keith and his wife, who were in from New Jersey.  Keith also wrote a blurb on the back of Carry Heavy Stuff, and this is his response to my blog of yesterday, soon to be yesteryear:

I underlined Bob sounds like an inspiration person because it was so deadpan.  Yes, I roll on floors over stuff like this.

Re: SUB: Dingbat and stuff

I often think that I was born in the wrong century, which is a great joke either on myself or the calendar professionals (The people who put cute animals, religious pictures and girls in swimsuits over individual months). Facebook? Twitter? They’re all the rage right now and I admit that both E.A. Poe and C. Dickens would have been all over them and so too would J. Caesar and Ramses Jr. I just can’t get into it. Maybe I’m lazy or maybe I’m reticent about new things that are all the rage (I never had a moon rock and I never saw a single episode of “Miami Vice”). If there is a disease called “fuddy-duddy-ism” then I must have it.
Is that at all related to being a dingbat?
Are frabjous and frabulous synonyms?
If I had a canary I would let it perch on my shoulders.
Bob sounds like an inspirational person.
My mother-in-law and you could climb mountains together.
What, what, oh what ever happened to the cardboard pug?
Jessica wouldn’t be that fictional writer/sleuth who murdered all those people and then hypnotized someone else into confessing to the crime? It’s just too much of a coincidence that she lives in a tiny hamlet in Maine with the highest murder rate in the world when she’s home and someone gets murdered wherever she travels. If that’s the same Jessica I would exercise caution.
whimsied time with granddaughter

Jessica and I make cardboard pug

I am a missing dingbat.  I retreated last night to desserts, and I awakened this morning, with snakes snarling and hissing on my head, a nervous tension, and just disgruntled wormy thoughts that wouldn’t even coalesce with one another.  I think that fits under missing dingbat category.

If I had a canary, it would be tempestuous, or lascivious, or frabulous, and mirror the excesses of my personality which I sometimes think goes into spillage too much.  I’d like to retreat to the desert, but instead will go for a walk, under the trees in Pasadena.

The reason for all of this.  I am in a “I’m Not Bob Challenge”.  I’m Not Bob is this wonderful man’s personal blog, (He’s a Writer’s Digest person)  and he’s helping us would-be, be, being, and all range of bloggers and writers to meet the challenge of expansion, construction too.  Each day the anonymous amongst us arise and blow out our thoughts in Twitter, i.e., “I jmp ovr mts & Valleys, and I wl nt hiss at LinkedIn”, type of thing.  Then we hook up FB pages, or simply chat, and sometimes, like today, my hands will click over the keys, which click sounds like Old Puggy’s (God rest his lardy soul) nails on linoleum at Grandma Anna’s place.

I’m becoming an old gal writer, whose voice is 35,  and I am  like a mountain goat.  It’s a saga, this trudging up the mountains of words.  Some days are tempestuous, a word in one of my CHPercolator prompts today, and one I’d use more if I were in a multisyllabic mode.  Today I feel more Germanic, almost high boots and marching because I’m frustrated by my inabilities or level of knowledge (think ankle level) on the computer.

Today I’ll stick to dingbat, and walk heavy hoofed for hopefully 5 miles, and then my ding will be danged, and tomorrow will be another day.

The theme was forgiveness, i.e., “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”  Luke 23:26-34

First a group poem – in a writing session each woman took 2 lines and voila:

Friday, April 6, 2012 – Women’s Room Group Poem – Jennifer Robinson read:


Women Speak

Voices from the Women’s Room, a Group Poem

 Forgiveness is such a big word of many colors,

bruise yellow, anger red, wounded blue, white hope.

Most of the time we feel unforgiven.

The world would be a better place if we acknowledge we are forgiven.

“Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”  Even their

unforgiveness causes us to be unforgiving.

Forgive us, Father, for we sometimes know what we do.

Though my flesh is torn and our hearts are broken.

Forgiveness comes from love we received

when we were made in God’s own image.

I see the world of peace within my eyes growing together as we do our part.

The days seem long, and the nights seem short.


FORGIVENESS      by     Esther Bradley-DeTally  For Good Friday Service April 6, 2012

To everything but anguish the mind will soon adjust…Roger White


After a great wound no feeling comes,

But, a white hot pain settles upon you.

You stand shivering in a fire of agony,

“Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do,”

is a whispered voice, hidden deep within cumulus clouds,

blocked tributaries of feeling, your heart a mere stump.

Enough, enough, enough.

The well-intentioned speak of forgiveness.

Skippingly on the tongue they toss

“Turn the other cheek” which produces

a yellow, curled up feeling within.

You’ve turned the other cheek so much,

you have whiplash, and your chiropractor

is upping his fees.

You are so done

Chumped out by the world

Sick of greed lurch on the planet

Numb to the scalding rhetoric of gossip,

absolute abandonment of your Lord’s teaching

on mercy, on love Thy neighbor,

Dormancy pokes its head up, a tickling feeling

Your nerve endings prickle, and you realize

not wanting to, you are coming to life.

It’s a crucible this world, and you have

gone through the white heat of change

Ignorance and love will not cohabit within

You cast away the purple bruise of resentment

Which led you to the heart of your journey.

Your crucible.

You will no longer resent

You will not forget

Never forget

But, you are a leaf in the wind

Of the Will of your Lord

And you will love again.

It was a good day.

A friend, Al, who is in advertising,  said to me one day over coffee at Peets in California, “You need to have a blog,” and so because of that casual remark and my faith in his techy wisdom.  I commenced walking over rocks and pebbles of techy knowledge, and a blog was born.

September 5, 2006, Sorry-Gnat enters hyperspace life letting those who are interested know that in the Baha’i Writings one can go on the path of transformation and be a sorry gnat and become a giant eagle.

“I’ve just had lunch at Tuohey’s Restaurant in Alhambra and had dinner there last night.  No I’m not trying to be giant like an eagle physically.  I’ve ruminated a good deal about stuff to put into this blog:  poetry?  pug dogs? notes about books?  human rights? racial justice: schlepping, Esther, don’t forget schlepping.  I have a lot to learn on this blog, and will consult with my techy friends as to how, what, why, when!  I’m reading The Earth is Flat, Thomas Friedman, excellent. Very good writer.  We just saw Jessica, our granddaughter, at an early soccer practice.  She’s almost 7-going into first grade, and all the little girls are not aggressive players at all, but very cute.

Today, April 5, 2012.

Well Jessica is 12 now, and has an equanimity about her and kindness to all that I adore.  My family was like a Rorschach test, and I used to wonder what it’s like if my kid had the soul of an accountant.  He didn’t, and that’s okay, but Jessica, my granddaughter’s mom, leans to that side:  stable, and a tremendous educator with regards to child rearing.

Okay, I do blogs, and  at times in my life the only themes seem to be pug dogs or spirituality, and for a while pug dogs were winning.  Of late, it’s books, and maybe a while or so about my adequacy level down by my ankle bones,  blogging wise-the techy side.  I’ve avoided Twitter.  Facebook?  Boys and girls, I’ve got FB down; I have friends all over the globe.  The good thing about moving 17 different times in 25 years is you meet a lot of people.

Sure I grieved over leaving some, but I tell you, I’ve met incredible people and to this day I never cease to wonder.  Today we had lunch at Farideh’s and we had Tadiq, golden crusted flat slabs of potato under Basmati rice.  Oink.  We had wild salmon, vegetables even turnip.  Then we had dessert served on creamy white china and looked like a vibrant water color:  blueberries,  peachy colored mango, and a scoop of vanilla soy ice cream.  I’m so slogged with fatigue and memories of good food, my brain turns to sludge.  Later I hooked up with Jean a new person in our Baha’i community.

She’s new to Pasadena, and hasn’t been in the States for 10 years.  She has lived in India, and I can’t remember the name of her city; small – 5 million, but she’s traveled all over. Did I mention she’s blind and gets around by cane.  We’ve hung out before.  She’s done everything; social worker, worked in radio stations, done voice over, teaches ESL, works via the computer.  No dust on her heels!  It gave me just another chance to marvel.

Tomorrow, I’m off at a little before noon to a Christian church up the Street on Lake, in Altadena/Pasadena area, where the Ecumenical Council is observing Good Friday.  I remember Good Friday when I was Catholic, sitting in the silence of the church, the religious figures draped in purple silk, and I remember a day before, called Holy Thursday, when Liz, my twin, and her best friend Jannie Cleary, walked and visited the 7 Catholic churches, a tradition we participated in only once.  When we got home that day my sister Meb (Mary Ellen Bradley) was hanging her head out of the bath room window on the second floor, showing a newly bleached blonde.

We were three sisters; close in many ways, and yet Meb would die of alcoholism, as my mother did.  They were terrific.  They both played classical music, and I can’t not stop when I hear Chopin’s polonaise in something Minor.  My mom died when we were 17, and my sister died when I was living in Dnepropetrovsk. She was the size of a twig, ravished by emphysema and years of alcoholism which I think she kicked towards the end.  She had once survived on the streets for five years.

So back to homeless women.  I’ve done two things in my life influenced by these two women so close to my heart.  My mom had Latvian Babushkas come to our little house on Wren Street, tuck into the small kitchen with the red checkered oilcloth table covering, and she’d teach them English for free.  They talked of their husbands, “lost behind the Iron Curtain,” and I’d visualize a large iron shower curtain stretched across a vast empty land.

Years later, in 1990, I traveled to Siberia with Bill, my husband.  I wrote a book Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, which tells about Meb, Russia,Ukraine, and all.  People like it.  I often thought  my mother’s selfless act of reaching out had reverberations into the future, when I, her daughter, very much her daughter, went into Slavic countries for service only.

That said, we’ve lived in Pasadena for 11 years, and it’s the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere.  Bill is 77 and I am 73, and first we house sat in a gorgeous condo for 3 years and then found this pool house, and we can afford the rent they charge which is not high.  I’ve survived open heart surgery, having the surgeons write the whole business off for free, and I’ve had a lot of trips to Cardiology at Kaiser, bleeding out, stuff like that, but now I thrive.  I’m like a Russian doll that tips over and bounces back.  Someone said to me the other day, “You have a strong life force,” and I do.  I feel life gets better and better for women as they age. I am no longer moth-holed by self-doubt and scalding inner words of rebuke.  I’m me now, and I sort of glow at times, at least when I’m teaching writing, meeting friends for coffee and always stretching to do more.

Poem by Chris Annick

poetry of women from women's room - fund raiser flyer

A few years ago I gave a goodly amount of writing workshops-method, process, and did so for free at the local library branch of La Pintoresca in Northwest Pasadena.  The Women’s Room a group formed and created by members who were connected to an Ecumenical Council realized women in Pasadena, either homeless or in transition, had nowhere to go.  This is a day refuge, but oh what a refuge. Showers, laundry, good food, make up suggestions now and then are available, and oh, my writing class.   Long story short, a room above the food pantry of Friends in Deed was created, like a small living room, dusty peach walls, art with symbols of 3 poppies, art on the wall, small kitchen and on Tuesdays 1-3 I teach writing.  Everyone is welcome, the volunteers and the guests (homeless/in transition) and it is truly solidified in love and community.  The bonds are strong.

We were asked to have something for tomorrow’s program at this Church.  I wrote a poem on forgiveness.  I’ll publish it later.  Then I had the women do a group poem, each writing 2 lines.

They’ve performed before; different women, different voices, and at first they were terrified.  But after they had the guts to get up behind a microphone and say their piece, their pieces, they were and are proud.  You can’t take that away from anyone.  Above is a poem written by Chris Annick which graced our first fundraiser flyer.

I always say to them before they read, “Own this.  Own your voice,” and by golly they do.  So with that, I didn’t expect this to be such a rattle on blog, but here you go, and that’s the facts Jack.

<a href=”” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”The Marriage Plot” border=”0″ src=”” /></a><a href=””>The Marriage Plot</a> by <a href=””>Jeffrey Eugenides</a><br/> My rating: <a href=”″>3 of 5 stars

What did I not think!  Tatting on the head of a pin.  Truth is somewhere.  Shades of Frank Lentriccia’s Lit Crit class in the 1980s, rolling around with words like mimesis, blah. another professor, equally dishing out words which bounced off my dense forehead, used to utter the word “Hegel,” and each time he did so, his heels would rise from the floor and he’d be on tiptoe – up on the Heg, down on the el. Alternate universes, this one of words beginning and ending, and what the hey-ego and the turn of good phrases, but characters empty.  In one sense, it reflects ennui and delusions of the sad.  It fits in to the 1980’s when I studied this stuff and thought this is like a Papal Hierarchy, and the Cardinals, wearing red silk and satin of course, are strutting as literary critics.  i believe in the concept of literary theory, and the best book on that subject was the Purpose of Physical Being, John Hatcher, but I started this book last night.  Back to the 80s; but credit is due to the author.  However, how could so many applaud a book for such a narrow audience?  Overdone emptiness, and i am being casual with my descriptions, perhaps not specific enough.  I would give it a 3 because the author is exceedingly intelligent, highly literate, but I could not finish it.”>View all my reviews</a>

First, gratitude for the hard work on behalf of Altadena Library and the Friends of the Library for making these workshops possible.   Okay boys and girls, or girls and boys, we didn’t get to a couple of other exercises, so as I promised, here they are:

1. Name your writing after this place or situation:  In the Dean’s Office, Talking to My Boss, At Lunch with My Mother-in-Law, On the Bus Going to Work, In the Dentist’s Chair, Cleaning My Room, The Job Interview, or whatever comes to mind.  It’s your mind reader – go for it!

Write a dialogue in which an annoyingly powerful person speaks the way he or she normally does.  For internal dialogue, after several lines of this person’s dialogue, say to yourself in the form of a tired cliche or some slang you use, what you really think – consider these:  Your mother eats kitty litter, or praise the Lord and pass the Butter or Walk with me Jesus, or sticks and stones may break my bones, or are you with me; how bout them Dodgers, you can’t please everyone, or Lucy and Ethel in the Chocolate Line, or Gal, don’t call me Gal, or Boy, don’t call me Boy, or job schmob, I’m out of here!

2. Think of something you believe in/wish for. Write 5 or more passages, start with same line, I believe in running free and fast, or I have a wish to swim in the ocean, or If I could talk with my mother for just one moment more.

After you have written the passages, end by repeating the one repeated lines 3 times in a row. (From Creative Writing DeMystified, Bender, p. 31)

Here’s one we did in the 90s at Jamestown Community College’s the Courage to Write Workshop:

3. Suddenly there is a knock at your door.  A trusted friend enters to warn you that the Dream Police will arrive in 20 minutes.  Everything, everything in your life that you have not written down will evaporate upon their arrival.  You have a short time –twenty minutes—to preserve what is most precious in your life, what has formed you, what sustains you.  Whatever you forget, whatever you have no time to record, will disappear.  Everything you want must be acknowledged in its particularity.  Everything, to be saved, must be named.  Not trees, but oak.  Not animal, but wolf.  Not people, but Alicia.  As in reality, what has no name, no specificity vanishes.

We are what matters to us.  Our identity materializes through images, memories, events and through things.  In the above exercise we select what is essential us, what has formed u, what we cannot live without, this as often includes grief, losses and failures as it does joy and triumph.

Some time after, look at this list; put it aside, and then later, examine it.  Imagine you are an anthropologist who has unearthed this list of “possessions” that once belonged to some “unknown” person. Write a portrait fleshing out that person, speculating on his or her character and life.


FINALLY, some books which you can get from a library:  mine – Without a Net: A Sojourn in Russia, and You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Esther Bradley-DeTally.  If local, i have some.  If not, Lulu for You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Amazon too.

Creative Writing DeMYSTiFieDm Sheila Bender (I used this).  Soul Pancake Chew On Life’s Big Quesitons, Wilson, Gundry, Lucina, Mogharab(Rainn Wilson from the Office, one of the authors, and the GRAPhics are fabulous)

I loved Spunk & Bite also.  Read everything, fiction, non-fiction.

Journals – Writer’s Digest, Poets & Writers,

Online writing group:  CHPercolatorCoffeeHouse for Writers (Yahoo)

I have only touched the surface.  Stay tuned and happy writing.  Esther


amazing dystopian thriller

It is just fantastic to see a new writer emerge. Mudbound was Pasadena’s One Author One Read book, and now first week of November I believe she’s going to speak, not at Vroman’s, too small but at Cal Tech. Kudos to Hillary Jordan!

The Barbarian Nurseries: A NovelThe Barbarian Nurseries: A Novel by Héctor Tobar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Delicious, fantastic, delicate, strong prose, and author nails a view of life from combinations of views. A Mexican immigrant maid and a clueless, but well meaning family, said family totally unaware of the lives around them, or for that matter, each other.

His writing is fantastic. A profound book which needs to be inhaled by all. I inhaled it, yes I did. I am now going to look for Hector Tobar’s other books – Translation Nation and the Tattooed Soldier. Mr. Tobar is a writer for the Los Angeles Times, is a Pulitzer prize willing journalist and a novelist. Writers would “kill” for his phrases – Barbarian Nurseries is a must read!

View all my reviews

Awakened to cup of coffee in bed; staggered to computer; am on Word Press this am with thatched head, but Persecution of a Christian Minister in alarm shot my body full of, “Post this on SorryGnat,” and lo and behold, good old Word Press offered a prompt: When you are most happy?

Dear WP Question Person,

I am most happy when I drive up my driveway and my husband comes out of our small pool house and is just there, but then of course there are days when I spot pug dogs through my inner radar and Kismet, by the end of the day, I am sprawled on a pavement, petting said beastie, even though my friends shake their heads at my constant devotion to Pugs, and still I am most happy when I see writers emerge from their cardboard boxes which were labeled “I don’t write, I can’t write,” and like last night, offer revisions of the Three Little Pigs, turn the story on its head by having the first pig (of straw, and lazy, darned lazy if you ask me), and find out this little pig had invested in derivatives, and now, only now, when red stiletto heel click along New York streets, in huff puff, click, click, hurry to my job, don’t know how long it will last,” all the while these red stiletto heels, which if you want to know, can have outer soles of turquoise and magenta print, if the person, wearette of said stiletto, is well heeled financially, and now on to more than feet, because this is about happiness, and I’m most happy when I think some day, despite the crocodile kingdom here on earth, and dripping juicy mouths in political power (not all) (there are nice cats and dogs in the mix in leadership in this country), but back to the question, my tummy and my heart, and my soul are in sinc (not sink) (another day, another tale) when I see on the horizon, signs, not of Humvees built as slug bugs for war and destruction, but hands, thin hands, old hands, wrinkled hands, long tapered fingernails, fingers bumpy and sludgy and chewed, tough hands covered, dark hands, covered with dust, Kardashian hands pampered and isolated, but all hands, get to the point, writer, reaching out around this Parker’s Pen Color of Blue Ink Planet hold one another, some grasping one another, and despite a world gone tilt, bonkers, and a world which may be screaming, “I miss my hormones,” is lurching towards maturity, even though the crocodiles, hereinafter called The Crocs, salivate and slide towards a fugue state of power, illusive and unattainable, because some day we will be one, and every baby born (visualize Kunte Kinte(sp) holding his richly brown velvet baby son to the sky, and someone in Idaho lifting a peaches and cream baby up to trees stretching as if hands up in praise to their unseen Divine Essence (Higher Power too Germanic in tone to put here), and that day when each baby will be perceived, cherished, regarded as a “Trust of the Whole,” and we will get about our planetary work, and that’s a good Tuesday morning reason for being happy, because happiness is not an outside thing in that it’s just about pleasure, but reader, if you have been patient enough to go through this all, would you consider that abiding joy, and release from oppression and We Are One is our divine right?

This isn’t to say there are not a gazillion other reasons, like listening to a young doctorate in realization of astrophysics, skate across the sky and explain planetary dust in such a fascinating way as she reads in a basement in a store called fair trade, on Lake Avenue, in Pasadena, if you want to know, where a bunch of us writers laugh and cavort and toss bon mots of principles, concerns and an occasional jello recipe around – that makes me happy, and one other thing, because I’m on my way there – giving people voice; how on God’s Green Earth did I get so lucky to teach at the Women’s Room in Pasadena, said WR is an offshoot of Friends in Deed, an ecumenical group, and the WR is a day haven for women to take showers, do laundry, get decent food, most to commune with one another, and to participate, those who wish, in writing and slipping on their newly acquired writing voices to the cheers and huzzahs of the group, (we are way beyond Vogue and Marie Claire magazine), and I guess I can sum all of this “oh how we dance” piece in it’s about service, “walking the mystical path with practical feet” and helping one another and seeing everyone as a soul in progress or process and realizing we are just at the beginning of this journey. So those are my Tuesday morning reasons. (Quotes I’ve used come from Baha’i Writings or my own stuff reader, and if you know how to use spell check on this here Word Press, I’d be grateful till the end of the day.-E)

From…. Quote of the Day, Sat., August 13, 2011

“Thou hast asked Me concerning the nature of the soul. Know, verily, that the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel. It is the first among all created things to declare the excellence of its Creator, the first to recognize His glory, to cleave to His truth, and to bow down in adoration before Him. If it be faithful to God, it will reflect His light, and will, eventually, return unto Him. If it fail, however, in its allegiance to its Creator, it will become a victim to self and passion, and will, in the end, sink in their depths.”
Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Author: Bahá’u’lláh, Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990 pocket-size edition, Page: 346

Here’s something from my book
You Carry the Heavy Stuff It’s a writing prompt and written in a particular style. Kurt Vonnegut (God Bless you Kurt Vonnegut) said, write 4 lines across the page every night; don’t show it to anyone, but just do it. These were my 4 one day, and the word soul just showed up, like it wanted to be on the word train within this piece. This is also something under Jack Grapes’ (best writing teacher of all time) teaching in that he calls this type of piece To Be Read and Sung, okay enuf said, 4 lines:

Read and Sung
Do not ask of your shadow’s future. Do not dwell on your shadow’s past. Do not ask what others think. Rely not upon the delusions of the many. Do not turn away from certitude and a multisyllabic path. Do not listen to politicians’ rhetoric. Do not become a sleeping mute, a junk yard dog. Do take yourself and shadow on a dual path. Take a soul to lunch this week. Better yet, take your soul with you. Best yet, be your soul.

NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: Share Quote of the Day with friends.

Reader, my on line writers’ group, CHPercolator, prompts Post July 31, 2011:

You mean life is more than material for books?
Seeds of crazy believe
Black marks march across the page
Working like a canine for very little money
Mended, the floor of my soul was finally strong enough to bear my full weight.

The floor of my soul is doing pretty good now, occasionally it has the strength to do an oingo boingo, like a brand new trampoline! Yesterday, my soul went oingo boingo all day. You betchum Red Rider, The funny thing about souls and weight, when you lean into fine tempering your soul through life experience, or just pulling the splinters and shards of same off the floor, once you get it down, get your soul mended strong enough to bear full weight, it becomes gossamer light.

Which brings me to a gossamer event yesterday of two people who found each other, Red and Jan, and their wedding. No black marks march across the page on this wedding; nope letters of every hue; flamboyant pink, awesome yellow and rainbow blue and ultraviolet appeared in the sky.

Some people might say what kind of seed of crazy are you ingesting old girl, and I tell you, most of the time I live in the land of practicality. Years ago I worked like a canine for good money as a secretary in law firms, good law firms, and now I work like a joyous canine for maybe not as much money, but I am like an abused greyhound dog, or Black Beauty the horse, remember Black Beauty, finally out sharing the pasture of words and events and how to do this and write like you talk, sing, dance, you know. You catch my drift.

A lot of people comment on how much I read. Okay I admit turning our one and only walk in closet top shelves into a library, despite the fact that we live in a two-room pool house might be excessive, but they leave such a lovely glow in my heart. Yes, books glow, but I tell you this reader; are you still with me? I tell you, life is more than material for books!

See you around the trails, around the bend.

It was 1992, and my husband Igorovich insisted we drive to the Wisconsin Cheese Farm to photograph shelves and glassed in cases of cheese, no abundance of lack as in our city, Dnepropetrovsk, where cheese was called sere to my American ears.

We were newly on our honeymoon and I was to bring Igorovich back to my home in Boston, to a family which prided itself on their standing within the generations. My great grandfather had been Sheriff of Suffolk County in the early 1900s, and with a name like “Keliher,” I gathered he’d come over before the potato famine.

But history or generational placement was far from my mind, that hot day when odors of cows and an occasional sniff of sweet grass relieved the tedium of flat stretch after flat stretch of highway, only relieved by country stores, with 12 empty rocking chairs lined up as if to say hello, come to Cracker Barrel and find root beer candy, sarsaparilla drinks from the past.

But no, Igorovich, as I was soon to learn was a “pusher,” and a bull dog, and I a small Chihuahua personality myself, was not match to his drive and intention. But it wasn’t all “plocha” awful, that day as we drove off the highway ramp, the only Edsel for miles, the only car for miles, because I had heard of a writing group on the “net,” as they say.

We parked in the dusty graveled parking lot, headed towards a low slung, ranch style building covered in a wine-colored wood, and as we opened the air conditioned doors, air, cold air blasted us back an inch or two.

Igorovich was rubbing his meaty hands together, reverting to Russian, “Horoshow, Horoshow,” which to my 2 year old level of Russian meant good. What was it about me, my tiny, small persistent personality? I always feel for men in uniform, and Igorovich met me in the open air market (a euphemism for shock of beef on hooks, wedding gowns next aisle over, potatoes which looked abused, and I was asking for Smetana, and Sleevki, one or the other, they are dairy products, don’t have my smetanas and sleevki’s down. That’s three year old language level.

It was love at first sight, and I called him Sleevki Igor, and now cheeses and abundances of the dairy kind led me to a serendipitous moment of great impact, almost as great as meeting my beloved Sleevki Igor, but not quite – nothing could replace the smell of raw beef, a handsome young man bending over my tiny form, sweat on his neck, a delightful clean smell of sweat, and muscled arms, oh a girl could go far in those muscled arms.

There inside the Wisconsin Famous for Its Cheeses door, the air conditioning pushing cow ears back, was someone in an enormous cow uniform. The cow had human legs in the front, and cardboard legs resting on a cheese barrel with lots of miniature sculpted baby cows around his tale, as if to say, “I’m prolific,” and “All us cows do our dairy best,” and so while Igor ambled around more cheese shelves than he had seen in his life, and was blasted away by the “how may we lay our lives down in service for you employees,” I sauntered up to the Cow.

How is it, there’s a figure in there. Who are you. Well the cow must have been embarrassed, so a small voice laced trills and bass notes, said I’m today’s new Cheese Representative, and todays, my first day on the job. What’s good, I said, slowing myself into what was going to be a rolling dialogue/monologue, repartee, Camembert or Cheddar ?

The cow’s voice dropped several octaves, almost like the sounds on the planet we can’t hear and said, “Look lady, I’m a writer, and an umployed one at that. For cheese’s sake, don’t push me.”

You are a writer, you in the cow suit, by this time I gathered he was a man.

Yes, and because he was in a cow suit and was a writer, I shouted behond the pickles and ham slices rolled up drolley besides the Swiss cheese, and called, “Igorovitch, Igorovitch, Ididi, my word for go which meant to Sleevki Igor, come here, as it was the only motion word I knew.

Well Igor and I love people in suits, or uniforms, and a man in a cow uniform on his first day at work, and on our first time in a famous Cheese Factory was the beginning of a propitious relationship.

It turned out, this writer and many others whom he knew would turn out bon mots of the laugh and lie down with your belly to the floor, and I learned through this man, “Steve,” whom Sleevki Igor called “Steevovitch Seritskee” became a life time friend, and in the future we would venture to lands like Kansas, and Boston, my family loved cheese, and then in our later years, we would find a small pool house, which fit our immigrant hearts, and to our delight, we would discover Steevovitch Seritskee was now a famous writer, but he lived still in his modest family home in temple City and we were horoshow (good).

July 21, 2011

CHPerc prompts

“Today should be my wedding day,” said Annie Mae Clare McDougall Habersham as they moved her out of her trailer park, because newspapers in the back entry way were stacked to the ceiling, and I, her 70ish, low on the ish cousin, shirttail cousin at that, was the only lone female within my clan brave enough to enter the sagging trailer on a hot July day, humidity up to sweat and think “Hell,” and to prepare to breathe through the mouth, avoiding unwarranted odors from the decaying tin can of a trailer, collapsing before my very eyes.

I squeeze sideways, even though people call me skinny, I still have to squeeze sideways to make it through the newspaper filled back entryway, which is book marked on the opposite side by those familiar yellow National Geographic’s that people saved thinking, these will be a treasure later.

That’s what it’s all about, saving, hoarding, hoping something for nothing, later, in the dusty future where a ship will come in, a lottery ticket will pay off, Google will reward the younger in our generation for some unknown embryo of an idea, to be planted in everyone’s need section of their brain. We have all become like raw open throated baby birds I think as my nose begins to reject a sour odor, and I move towards what once was an elegantly curved mahogany and soft light green velvet couch, said couch, looking like a Keinholtz replica, with stuffing coming out of its chest instead of Keinholtz’s original piece which portrayed squirrels nesting on a rotted-out breast, to a horrified crowd at the LA Museum on Mid-Wilshire in the mid 60s.

“Today should be my wedding day,” thrums against my brain, quiet cloud like thoughts, pure fluffy white, floating over chaos of broken lamps, hidden treasures of pearl handle knives and a peer or pier mirror tall, tilted against a wall in the corner, ornate gold frame, from floor to ceiling, this mirror abandoned before it was sold to make a lot of money for Annie’s future abundance.

Annie, Annie, Annie. If I were she, I would have changed my last name. What a curse to be named “Habersham,” so Dickensian in its doom, its curse of the unmarried, a curse which makes no sense in these days at the turn of a new century, the 2000s. We don’t worry about being married, not married. We worry about food, prices, greed, and think of the Wall Street Boys bowling with our brains and hearts, and totally removed from what’s really happening here on Hensworth Street in Lake Forest Park.

We are a long way from the real world, and my purpose here is to make sense and get Annie out of her mess. She doesn’t think mess. Annie’s brain is back in the day in 1938 when her to-be husband was cavorting on the sands of Cape Cod, as he ran along side the ocean. He had just turned his head to shout to Annie, a good looking 20 year old with long chestnut hair, long legs, an arched nose, and the moment was truly golden. Golden except for the fact he didn’t see the giant horseshoe crab in front of him and he fell and its long tail pierced his heart.

He was a bleeder, and he didn’t make it through the night. Annie was devastated and simply not right for the rest of her life.

So here I am now, the only practical one in the family whose tree goes back to Habersham and Dickens, and I am here to muck out, and get her into a rest home, and sooth the community association who is afraid that rats are cavorting all over the trailer park.

I see her, slumped over in an old tattered maroon (they don’t use that color any more) Morris chair which is spotted and its wooden slatted frame is scarred from dog scratches. Her dog Pip sits whimpering at her side. Small, runty dog, small slivered woman, and the day we move this shattered bone and mind of an old lady, unnoticed except for the horror of her hoarding, I think, that’s it. She’s the next subject of my next book.

And then, I pull out my cell phone, dial, “We Clean Up Anything,” pick up Pip, who gives a feeble pug cough, tell Annie, “We’ll have you under 800 thread count sheets by tonight,” and call my husband who will drive her to the hospital, and think, “It’s all grist for the mill.”

Did I mention the LA Times had just printed a photo of an old cane chair on top of a junk pile, with its bottom part threaded out, reminiscent of the Pope’s Chair, verifying he was a guy, as mentioned in that lovely book Pope Joan?

Truth is so delightful when turned into fiction. Writer’s block is over.

Girls with Pink Lipstock
(from Miss Halloran, You Carry the Heavy Stuff, p. 53)
By Susan Zucker – June 6, 2011

Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.
They have their beach towels and bathing suits.
They have money for their lunches.
Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.

Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.
They wait in front of the house on Clifton Avenue.
It is the most central, after all.
They wait for that one mom to drive them to the beach.
Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.

Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.
They have arrived at the beach and the ocean is tame.
It is low tide and they spread their blanket and move as one to the sea.
Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.

Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together.
After getting wet they will dry in the sun.
They will apply their pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, and clump together as one.

Susan Zucker attends my writing workshop, “The Courage to Write,” held Monday nights at Ten Thousand Villages store, a fair trade store and a visual poem in surroundings. Susan is a writer and a friend. She grabbed a line from my latest book, You Carry the Heavy Stuff, opened to an essay on Miss Halloran, and girls coming of age theme and took the line, “Girls with pink lipstick, shocking pink lipstick, clump together,” and wrote her own take – I loved it, still do; hooray Susan.

CHPercolator coffee house for writers at Yahoo has a group of global, local, “hi I’m from New Jersey,” or in the case of this writer, Pasadena, and a good friend, a town nearby, Temple city. It was my week to supply daily prompts. We all respond, well if we have time, are in town, whatever. You catch my drift.

So I think one of the questions I asked taken from a fantastic book Soul Pancake, was “What are the 5 questions you don’t have answers for?” something like that. Are you with me?

These are responses:

1. Where did God come from?
> >
> > > No one knows for sure but I don’t think it was New Jersey. God did create
humans (On the evolution vs. creationism argument I feel that they’re pretty
much cause and effect; in other words, evolution was the mechanism for creation
– I know I’m in for big trouble now) and a land area that humans call New
Jersey, so in an indirect way, God also created New Jersey. Of this much I am
> >
> > > 2. What was before the universe?
> >
> > > It’s hard to draw a definitive picture, but I think we can safely rule out
pepperoni pizza as being around back then.
> >
> > > 3. Is there life out there?
> >
> > > Oh yes! Just this morning I was driving to Hackensack where I work and
some life form in an SUV was blocking the entrance to a breakfast nook that I
frequent some of the time.
> >
> > > 4. Who built the pyramids and how?
> >
> > > My grandfather, Stasiu, never actually took credit, but I do know that he
made his own wine and according to legend it was so bad that no one would drink
it except him and he drank every last drop. So I reckon that there was nothing
he couldn’t do when he set his mind to it.
> >
> > > 5. Where did the Mayans really go?
> >
> > There were no Mayans. The whole thing, the pyramids, the ancient scrolls
depicting the end of the world in 2012 and even the eyewitness reports of
Spanish invaders was an elaborate hoax. The Mayan urban legend was born from a
cloud of ennui that circled the globe after the explosion of the volcano
Krakatoa in 1883. People just didn’t know what to do with themselves. Lizzy
Borden found herself a pastime but others decided to construct a paper mache
civilization. It was something like the movie, “Blazing Saddles,” where Sheriff
Bart, the Waco Kid and Mongo build a faux “Rock Ridge” in order to lure the bad
guys into a trap. Leonardo da Vinci apparently drew up the plans which later
fell into the hands of Nostradamus and the whole thing just kind of took off by
itself. Another theory is that Lee Harvey Oswald did it.
> >
> > Kathryn, I hope that these insights will be of value to you.
> >
> > — In, ChikPMcGee@ wrote:
> > >
> > > I actually have some free time and I have enjoyed reading all the
submissions even though I haven’t commented on any of them. The prompt that
caught my eye today was the one about 5 questions I hate not having the answered
to. Here’s my list:
> > >
> > > 1. Where did God come from?
> > >
> > > 2. What was before the universe?
> > >
> > > 3. Is there life out there?
> > >
> > > 4. Who built the pyramids and how?
> > >
> > > 5. Where did the Mayans really go?
> > >
> > > As you can see I think too much, LOL.
> > >
> > > Kathryn
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >

Writing Workshop-collective voice/group poem
In an elongated white walled basement room, tinges of odor seep through of chicken feed, dog doo, or whatever, from a puppy mill next door, but the writers, the writers say, over the feelings of nervousness, of never having done this, or of just breaking the silence of a Monday night Courage to Write workshop:

I write for necessity,
the beauty of my darkness,
fragments of feelings
connect with my heart,
feel the grace of God’s love.

I write to empty words
out of my head,
dig deeper and open up,
journals, maybe essays,
to do just what I’m doing,
a manual overcoming betrayal,
things I have not said before.

Start my voice, tell a story.
I’m courageous, caring,
do anything with grace,
with God’s help, to share,
heal, teach, grow, express,
play, and read Save the Cat .

I want to create wild art,
film and heal kids, self, and act more.
I want to be a spiritual director, to journal
and develop courage to write,
articulate my reflections,
draw them to deeper levels.

I want to help others
sharing experiences and
work on a biography about my
Finnish American mother-in-law
and my own mother’s
best friend.

I want to teach Science, and I write
to see my friend develop, help friends
invent, enjoy learning.
I read Billions and Billions
Carl Sagan you know.
I want to develop my own voice
and lots of poetry, but slowly
I’m working on a children’s story.
I’m lucky to be an artist, working
on two books, one poetry, the other
my life story.

By day I write
And produce music,
but I really want to be
A screenwriter, a filmmaker,
and I read Story by Robert McKee.

I write because I can,
one of the few things
I do well.

The best writing teacher you'll ever want to meet

Jack Grapes -fantastic writer, teacher of poetic souls, and lovely man

Help, I lost a few days. Last I knew it was the 11th and then this morning, I called out to Bill, “What day is it”? He replied, “the 13th.” I read from the most incredible daily reader of the Baha’is Writings, published in London and out of print, and it is heavenly and unique and the fragrances of same float around my heart. Baha’is are encouraged to read from the Writings in the morning and the evening, and of course, we say what prayers resonate with us. There is a requirement of an Obligatory Prayer, and there are 3 choices. The following is the noonday prayer:

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.

There is none other God but Thee, the help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.

I wake up in the morning, and the first thing that flies to my mind is “I have wakened in Thy shelter, O my God, and it becometh him that seeketh that shelter to abide within the Sanctuary of Thy protection and the Stronghold of Thy defense. Illumine my inner being, O my Lord, with the splendors of the Dayspring of Thy Revelation, even as Thou didst illumine my outer being with the morning light of thy favor.”. Baha’u’llah

You know this blog started out about losing a few days; all of which have been action packed, insightful, wonderful connection with people, but here I sit, it is 1.25, and I should walk. I haven’t even taken my morning meds. I may take a nap instead. Hard to be wise with my body.

Last night in Pasadena, at the Judges Nelson’s home, Navid Dheghani spoke. He’s a scientist and one of the people who work on the Mars is it Rover? the machine that lands on Mars, and all. Last night he gave a wonderful presentation of an overall view of the Baha’i Faith, and then in the question and answer times, talked about science a bit. A funny, modest, humble, and knowledgeable man. It was great.

I have several books to read: Mudbound. Read it once; it’s terrific and it’s Pasadena’s One City, One Book read; a friend wants me to participate in my favorite library, La Pintoresca, so I will re-read it, and our book club which has been meeting for at least five years is reading it for February. Then, we are reading The Long Walk, now made into a film; the author’s name is a Polish one, and I lent my copy of the book out.

Years ago, late 1960s I discovered this book, and it made such an impact upon me. I notice it’s been republished, and one of the blurbs on the front cover describe it aptly as “Homeric,” and I would say yes. The story of this man; his survival; the group he is with, their connection and unity with each other, remains nested within my memory bank; hopefully forever; and surely along with An Interrupted Life by Etty Hillesum and her Letters from Westerbork.

Why is it I am so drawn to memoir? I think I have always been fascinated with man’s inhumanity to man, and man’s humanity to man. My first pilgrimage, trip to Israel, visiting Christian and Jewish holy places and then to Haifa, to the Baha’i Shrines, I felt the themes of this ribboning through the country as I witnessed the Holocaust memorial.

The Baha’is believe in all the religions and consider religious truth to be like an unfolding scroll, relative to the day and age, but God, an unknowable Essence, is absolute. Spiritual truth is spiritual truth and is not obsolete. It is revealed with each Messenger in a different manner, much like if you looked around you and saw lights or lamps of different kinds, you would see the light source is the same, but the vehicle holding the light is different, and then the social teachings are changed to meet the needs of the day. All of the Messengers of God, Prophets, or what we in the Baha’i Faith call Manifestations occupy the same high, mystical, incredible level, an abstract level of unity really which we as puny souls can hardly imagine. We need these Divine Luminaries, these Educators of Mankind, these Divine Physicians of the Age.

At any rate i read voraciously and read a lot of books by Buddhists, Jewish, Islamic writers. And of course all memoir. I think we are in such an age of transition that people must speak out and record their truths. I often think of a kaleidescope as an image; are we not all chips of different colors – moving, shaping, but connected? I would like to think so.

Wow I can’t believe i’m going on like this, but so be it.

I had a writing workshop Monday evening, at Ten Thousand Villages, which is an awesome and aesthetically pleasing experience. They feature artifax, jewely, vases, cloth, you name it, from around the world, made by villagers who support themselves by their creations. I am st up in the basement, and it is a long white walled room, and somehow we did it: 2 tables, some folding chairs around, and I set up a whiteboard talking about showing versus telling in writing. I spoke about Oakley Hall and Jack Grapes, two of my writing heroes and teachers, and 17 people of all manner came, and we had a blast. We cooked as I like to say. then the next day i taught my usual writing workshop at the Women’s Room, a haven for homeless women, and women in transition, and they (the clients) and the volunteers can participate in writing. They have done soooo well, and we are family. What a group.

So now, I’m going to close after this unexpected tell it like it is, blog, and take a nap. Bill’s daughter, Tory, coming up for a vist. Did I mentioln, the day is utterly gorgeous, sun, breeze, temp of about 71 degrees by our little pool house.

One more thing; i liked President Obama’s talk; my heart twisted, particuarly gazing at the father’s face of the wonderful little 9 year old girl; I hope this even brings about more civility and unity. If we had children, would we let our kids squabble so divisively in a family?

High regards to all who read this.

Fabulous Place


I’ve been teaching The Courage to Write classes since 1996 or so; started out in western New York. Here in Pasadena, there’s a wonderful Fair Trade Store, Ten Thousand Villages, which is pure heaven. Prices are fair; lots of volunteers, and the work done by people all over the world is fantastic.

We held a writing workshop there tonight; i led it, and I loved it. One small problem – Puppy Mill (store with animals), odors come through; have to bring spray and candles next week. that store is moving; I won’t go in it; can’t stand seeing puppies in a store; horrible way to be raised.

<a href=”” style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”Mentor” border=”0″ src=”” /></a><a href=””>Mentor</a> by <a href=””>Tom Grimes</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Oh  Oh, Oh!  I liked this book so much! No, make it loved the book.  I got a Borders’ gift card and hotfooted down the street.  This book called out to me, and the writing is superb.  Tom Grimes takes the reader down the path of working in construction, to waiter, to this, to that; and his writing career unfolds.  He meets Frank Conroy, and this book is valuable for writing, but also the writing process and the struggle and the joy, and I felt as if I were folded within the words and became one with the page.  I couldn’t put it down.  Insightful, dear, honest, revealing, educational, terrific.
<a href=””>View all my reviews</a>

CaucasiaCaucasia by Danzy Senna
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Danzy Senna is an incredible writer; her prose is very tight and descriptive involved with motion, either external or internal. The subject matter is profound, and I heard her read a week or so ago at the California Pacific Modern Art Museum – they have a reader’s series. She was a Stanford undergradute and a UCIrvine MFA student; their program is excellent, and her craft is top notch and her subject race, so profoundly handled, all dimensions were fabulous. I also read her other book Where Did You Sleep Last night; very good; as I said, her writing is incredible. This is a must read from my point of view. Boy, do I wish her well!

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Yooo Hoooo Monday, where are you?  Drat, ack, eek.  I lost you.  “I forgot” can be applied to homework, like because my dog ate my homework, I can’t turn it in, or I just discovered I can’t speak Esperanto easily, or I’m not Celtic, Mayan, Troll-like, I can’t turn it in.  Doing this blog is not like homework.  I respond to Pili Pili Saka, the moment his blog comes up.  I’m like an orangy labrador, and I get a whiff of something coming to my territory.  My head lifts from the floor, my cold nose moves up and down microscopically, and then, there it is, Pili Pili Saka. 

Forgot, day swept by with fantastic emails about my book, my participation in a Wilmette Study Course, and an email from dear friend who wrote blurb on back of You Carry the Heavy Stuff.  Mikey likes it; even pili pili compared my writing to a French writer.  Reader, i slid under my desk, yes, by the dust, and the brick, red if you want to know, placed carefully over my email connection link, so as not to disturb and keep me connected.  Such is the old wiring in this incredible little pool house.  Be still my heart.

Yesterday, they filmed Mad Men down the street; I swear I posted that; have to check it out.  At any rate, Bill went to neuro guy who was incredibly thorough and wonderful – it seems severe allergy attack, plus benign positional veritgo, plus anxiety about being so dizzy sick, caused his adrenal responses to shoot up and thus the shakes.  Wow, and now we will go towards solutions!  We are relieved.

Okay I finished a book, The Man From Saigon, a novel, Marti Leimbach, a gripper, writing incredible.  It turns out this writer went to MFA program in Irvine, and that’s where when I began writing, I took classes from Oakley Hall and the other guy, Donald, can’t remember his name, and Roberta….. and it tricked into my curly brain and heart, and i began writing.  Showing, telling, using strong verbs, always 3 at the time.  I never do things lightly.  I’ve pulled back to 1 verb usage, find myself more moderate these days

I am going to reserve Dying Young and Daniel Isn’t Talking by the same author, although part of me shudders to think of adding more books to my list.  While you’re at it, throw in Jesse Ventura’s new book; forget title, yes Jesse Ventura.  He was a Navy Seal and he taught at Harvard, and he has stuff to say.  Who knows, but check it out. 

Okay so to add a more shallow cap to my day, while I finished Man from Saigon, sitting next to Bill on the couch, having done my daily huff puff walk for an hour, we watched TV.  Every now and then at 8 I’d click in Dancing with the Stars to see Kate clump across the floor, and the part of me that used to be a single mother thought, “Good, she’s earning money for the kids.”

You catch my drift reader; blessings and a glorious day and best wishes from Monday who regretfully is speaking Tuesday.

Next post may be about Baha’i Holy Days and stuff like that; hope you stay tuned!

Themes, Ideas, Prompts, Triggers, Time Lines, Past Moments, My Mother Told Me, I remember

 So we are in our journal, and we write and we write and we write.  We write about vegetables growing, hangnails removed, the war in Baghdad, a sore throat, a secret wishThe important thing is to write.  This is not being literary, but getting the stuff out on the page, a sort of verbal or vocal flow.

 How on earth do we get in touch with our thoughts and feelings?  We are not concerned with punctuating, crossing our t’s; barely do that anyway.  This is not a confessional way, but just a way of writing.  Writing like you talk is simple and natural.  No literary sentences. Boy this is hard for the writer, believe you me, I wanted to show what a hot dog of a writer I was, all the while, waves of insecurity competed.

 One way to locate your most urgent subjects is to ask yourself: Where is my heart breaking? Or what breaks my heart?

 Make a list of the fears and concerns that keep you awake and night and interfere with your days.  Think of your list as a prayer bead; finger one at a time; rather than including large sweeping topics like world hunger, abortion, nuclear disarmament, the disintegration of the family), name specific people, problems, fears, and issues.  “I’m afraid my mother will die in a nursing home.”  What if the biopsy is positive?

 Time Lines, –

Where were you on 9/11

When Obama was elected?

 If I could write about only one subject (or person, place event, or obsession) what could it be?

 Ask yourself what noun would you want spoken on your skin your whole life through? Marc Doty-My Tattoo

 Write down all the identities that describe you; cat lover, cook, hiker, military brat; keep going; include past identities; student,

 Would you have been different with a different name; whom might you have married if you hadn’t driven to California!

 I wish I could stop thinking about

 In the dream last night, I

Nobody wants to hear about

I can’t possibly tell anyone that…

Write until the truth emerges;

 What weather dominates your feelings; is it raining inside your mind; is it dry and hot; muggy and close; is there a storm cloud on the horizon; a tornado swirling toward you, an earthquake splitting the ground

 If you were to paint your feelings, what colors would you use; what shapes; would you use; watercolors or oils; a small canvas or a large one; would you use a delicate brush, a palette knife or your own bare hands.

 What music plays inside you; and are you what key; in what time signature; what instruments do you heart; maybe you’re the instrument playing the music.

What does your body want to do; does it want to crawl into a hole; pound its fist through a wall; float on a raft in the middle of the ocean, scream until its throat is raw, pack a suitcase, kiss a neighbor’s husband, drive as fast as it can.

Make a list of people Who have been important to you:

Alive or dead; young or old

Their impact on you; either good or bad

The age you were at…..

 What about significant events;

A day I’ll never forget…

An experience that made a great impact on me…

My pulse quickened when …

 Times when

La Pintoresca Library, April 17, 2010

Esther Bradley-DeTally –

(“Everyone has talent.  What is rare is the courage to follow that talent to the dark place where it leads.”  Erica Jong

Finding your voice isn’t looking at the dust balls under the bed to see if you coughed up anything in the dark.  Finding your voice is suiting up and showing up to write about the here and now and to meet other people who have written, not written, or may write.  You will increase your breadth and depth of what you know about yourself, i.e., give written form to the line drawings of life.  Do we know the maps of our hearts?  The Courage to Write offers a way to strip the layers of social niceties, to dig deeply and find the authentic within.

There is no “constructive criticism” within the class, but rather a listening and honoring of each person’s contribution.  For the beginning, we will write in first person, the “I” and it’s a write like you talk.  Are you doomed to write that way the rest of your life?  No.  But this is home base or home on the computer for the writ.  Journaling in the here and now brings forth new vistas!  I will refer to books about writing and teachers of writing whenever possible.  I won’t hesitate to recommend people and books.

WHADDA WE GOING TO DO:  We are going to go through a process, which will take you through various modes of writing.  When I took Teach Writing the Natural Way at Irvine, we learned to mix details, descriptions, dialogue, and academic writing.  Writing is very much like mixing a soup.

People, places I highly admire who have taught me are: Jack Grapes:  the Pied Piper of bringing out the voice, whose workshops are in Los Angeles.  Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones, the writing process book you need for the desert island experience; UCLA Writing Extension Courses; Deena Metzger, Writing for Your Life, and a gazillion more.  Any writing teacher’s task (and joy) is to take the writer as far as he/she can go. “This is supposed to be fun,” my UCLA writing instructor, who looked like a maple syrup ad, told a group of us clenched-teeth, stomach-burning students one night.  And you know, it is; so relax and let’s enjoy.

Time is going by on roller skates.  I just clicked on central library, my account, and gasped when it said 7 books await-as I have still 5 unread, 3 to go back, some Baha’i books of great interest I’m studying and am off at 11.30 to meeting with friend.  Time is liked butter sizzling on a slick hot skillet; there you see the cube, there you don’t; but the color yellow is a lovely color albeit in solid form or bubbles.

CHPerc is in one of its modes, crazy, laughter, witty, witty repartee, just a gang of sillies that causes each one of us, whether in England, Pakistan, Wyoming where there’s still snow, or Pasadena and Temple City and Reno, to just (oh don’t forget New Jersey) yuk at the bon mots tossed around in humor amongst us.  Makes life worth living,

Tomorrow give free writing workshop at La Pintoresca library, that wonderful little white building that sits kitty corner on Raymond and Washington, and cries out, “Hi I’m a library, but more that than, c’mon in and skate through the corners of your mind, cuz this is a happening place.”

And so it goes, horror, like black paint spilled on the world’s canvass, still exists; dust of volcanic ash dots our hearts and minds and airplanes, and clogs further the arteries of greed in meanspirited leaders, but still, laughter, like a tiny Jack Russell Terrier, still jumps to the sky and we find meaning, I find meaning, in the small things: like vivid colors of red, and gold, and the glossy black fur and intent brown eyes of a black pug sitting in the sun, half dozing, but intently keeping his eyes open (food) and glad i can see the beauty and joy in it all.  You catch my drift?

GREAT WRITING ADVICE: I love you Kurt Vonnegut

I’ve been remiss in writing these days. Have read many first time books, most of which I think are great. The last one I read is Trail of Crumbs, Kim Sunee, and there’s an accent over the first e; do they still refer to that as accent agu? Have to ask my French speaking friends. The author interspersed or ended each chapter with heavenly recipes, but I am not a big cook and since we are in a small pool house with no oven, glanced over them. I love memoir; each so differnt, courageous to write!.

Finished my second book Writing on the Fly – it has one good blurb and i am getting two others, or in the process of finding same.
I weave things in regarding the Baha’i Faith and I like my writing in this book, more contemporary, edgy, i’m pleased.

I just watched Tess of the D’urbeville’s and cried at the end. Thought I had no tears left in me, but it was wonderful. i read Thomas Hardy in my early days and liked him a lot.

okay i’ll get back to doing this. But remember i told my book club last night they should read Spiritual Shackles, another first, but they were concerned about the length.

I read everything, more memoir, then nonfiction, and i love good fiction too; but trying to read more stuff of which I study. Not enough time. I give a free writing workshop next week for 4 hours and hi hope people get something out of it. We all need to express who we are, our voice; these are such portentous times.


Have you ever tried elephant kisses? You have a long sleeved sweater on; pull your arm back and hand so it disappears, and nothing is left but several inches of a flopping sleeve, and then brush flopping sleeve over child’s nose and say, “You just received an elephant kiss.” While I’m on that, here’s some things to pass on at an appropriate age. THEY CAN BE RECITED AS DRAMATICALLY AS YOU WANT! STANDING ON CHAIRS, TABLES, FLOOR-WHO KNOWS!

Icky Gooey was a worm
A mighty worm was he
Sitting on a railroad track
A train he did not see.

Icky gooey!

This is the story of William McGory
And now my story has begun
This is the story of William McGory
and now my story is done.

A Dog

A dog is made of bones and meat,
his body’s kind of long and round
and at each corner’s there are legs
to keep this body off the ground

A head and tail at either end
we’ll find if we search with care
and all these different parts of dog
are neatly wrapped in skin and hair!

the last one written by Uncle Bill Johnson, an adopted uncle who left a deep stamp upon my soul because of his EB White wit and his terrific love for me and kindness!

Monday, September 29, 2008. Dear Ones, the following is from Guidance For Today and Tomorrow, under The Present Day and this particular passage is entitled “Universal Fermentation.” I offer this passage with the hopes that enlightment of a process will solace and galvanize.

“Universal Fermentation”

As we view the world around us, we are compelled to observe the manifold evidences of that universal fermentation which, in every continent of the globe and in every department of human life, be it religious, social, economic or political, is purging and reshaping humanity in anticipation of the Day when the wholeness of the human race will have been recognized and its unity established. A twofold process, however, can be distinguished, each tending, in its own way and with an accelerated momentum, to bring to a climax the forces that are transforming the face of our planet. The first is essentially an integrating process, while the second is fundamentally disruptive. The former, as it steadily evolves, unfolds a System which may well serve as a pattern for that world polity towards which a strangely disordered world is continually advancing; while the latter, as its disintegrating influence deepens, tends to tear down, with increasing violence, the antiquated barriers that seek to block humanity’s progress towards its destined goal. The constructive process stands associated with the nascent Faith of Baha’u’llah, and is the harbinger of the New World Order that Faith must ere long establish. The destructive forces that characterize the other should be identified with a civilization that has refused to answer to the expectation of a new age, and is consequently falling into chaos and decline.
A titanic, a spiritual struggle, unparalleled in its magnitude yet unspeakably glorious in its ultimate consequences, is being waged as a result of these opposing tendencies, in this age of transition through which the organized community of the followers of Baha’u’llah and mankind as a whole are passing. …”
The following paragraphs deal with the process of disintegration:

The process of disintegration inexorably continue, and its corrosive influence must penetrate deeper and deeper into the very core of a crumbling age. Much suffering will still be required ere the contending nations, creeds, classes and races of mankind are fused in the crucible of universal affliction and are forged by the fires of a fierce ordeal into one organic commonwealth, one vast, unified, and harmoniously functioning system. Adversities unimaginably appalling, undreamed of crises and upheavals, war, famine and pestilence, might well combine to engrave in the soul of an unheeding generation those truths and principles which it has disained to recognize and follow. A paralysis more painful than any it has yet experienced must creep over and further afflict the fabric of a broken society ere it can be rebuilt and regenerated.” pp. 152-153

Below is my response to prompts from CHPercolator’s prompts for today. I subtitled it: Hickory Dickory Dock, Esther Runs Down the Clock, because I had a piece last week or so where I ran up the clock to the same well known tune!

If the world were flat, we’d have big walls like what they are building down thar in Mexico, with the exception of stopping around some wealthy guy’s house. If I had a wisp of hair for every lie a politician told, I’d be a gorilla on display, in demand at every zoo. If I were a Chinchilla, I’d drop every wisp of hair and act like a rat, because of late, nothing seems nice, or some people seem downright mean.

And, if a frog had wings, he’d fly, and if pigs could talk, would it just be about food and mud, and if a hippopotamus was an ignoramus would he go to Glen Ivy Hot Springs which I am a hankering for since I met So and So and we sat side by side on an Orange Velvet couch and talk of slathering mud all over ourselves?

If I were God, I’d have nuked us long ago and thank goodness for Cosmic Patience. Lordy knows we need it. If I were Miss Habersham of Great Expectation Days, I’d have eaten the cake, made the wedding gown into pillows and tromped around the moors looking for comely men! If I were Napoleon, I’d have worn lifts and praised Josephine for being such a devotee of Pugs, and not cheated on her.

I’d have taken a course in the gratification of ego, and noted, if Hitler had children, he would possibly have taken out his anger on them and note everyone else, but then he had an aunt who was cuckoo and that might have influenced him more, that and his father’s beatings.

If I were younger, and let’s say flashed back to junior high/middle school for all you younguns, I’d not have stabbed my geometry pointer into my hand, nor put my head on the desk and experienced waves of thoughts of suicide washing over my young despairing junior high body. Nope I’d have learned it good and clear so I could understand living geometry, and symmetries of good and evil, and how to get rid of scars from geometry compasses, and thank goodness I didn’t do my face or eyeballs.

If I had married at 19, because I had the wedding dress, the hotel, and a groom named Pudgie whose last name I hated, and who I was growing taller than, I wouldn’t be in a writing group pondering the what ifs of life.

But if I had different prompts today, I wouldn’t be sitting here in my utilitarian nightgown, thatch headed, my fingers clopping over the keys like an old French poodle, lagging across a linoleum floor, and I wouldn’t be sitting next to Bill, my husband, who is taking the world quite seriously today, and we wouldn’t be going out to lunch with So and So, and that reminds me to call What’s His Name, our Prompter of the Week and find time to howl and hoot together, the three of us, at some restaurant where breakfast is big, the waitresses are real, and the conversation is muted.

September 1, 2008 – had great birthday; before, during, after, family, friends, surprise gifts, laughter, talks, healthy food! total wow. A friend said, “You haven’t put anything in your blog for a while, so thought I’d put up my response to the prompts I had to give for one day at CHPercolator on Yahoo where all are welcome to write, not be criticized but to cavort among the pages!

August 24, 2008

Before the music stops, before I have the last dance and unzip my
time-locked coat, and no longer worry about the locomotion of snakes,before I give up on acquiring a specialized instinctive sensitivity –like wondering about tenuous abstractions in the seam like interplace between body and mind, and before I start wondering what in thunder does that last phrase mean, I’ll whip out a few words because prompts, triggers, suggestions for writing have a way of sitting atmy doorstop, like a playful gargoyle with the sun on his back,grinning his unpolished at the dentist teeth and saying, “Wanna come out and play?”

Why do I put gargoyles in my writing? Because, as evolution needs
continuous variation, they pop up in the abandoned warrens of my
mind, and seem to be part of that ledge of shallow unconscious I
cling to in my days on planet earth when someone told me yesterday,
the Mars people are raising the price of Snickers bars, and I thought Mars as on the other planet, and now I know, my sideways view of life is a bit more sideways than other peoples.

It’s all grist for the mill, and I think Steve can get off the floor
and quit groaning over that little ditty of a phrase. Reader, you
see, it’s all because I have an ADD or ADHD type of mind, and was
wind surfing through Guy Murchie’s book The Seven Mysteries of Life,
in an attempt to present concepts to mull over while one is sitting
in night shirts, night clothes, night attire, sitting in the night,
and wondering about one’s life and Mr. Murchie, who has longed since
passed, wrote this really thick, hard bound green book which is

My only problem is I am either not a sustained scholar, or I’m lazy,
and I feel there’s a thin line between these two opposites, tension
of the opposites, I’d say if Steve wanted to groan a bit more. I
find life fascinating. I find the surface of things just ever so
glitzy to think about and read about, and now, I have to put away my
48 books of fiction and get down to more serious study because there
are universes enfolded within my puny self, of a lofty nature, things within and out the universe of the world which I wish to have
knowledge about, but I realize of late, as I am going to be 70 in a
few days, I really only shop or study in the Bargain Basements of my
mind, because I do everything on the fly. I write on the fly; I
particularly study on the fly, and when one is 70, as I will be, I
have to sit up and take life a little straighter and slower.

So I figured, it’s prompt week, and this week is going to be busy:

Sunday – teach ESL to Chinese friends – I’m a substitute because I
introduced So and So to What’s His Name and now So and So can’t
really conduct ESL conversation on Sundays as much.

Monday, a meeting, a 3 mile walk to a friends, discuss upcoming
devotional at her house to be held on Tuesday; get walk in; get to
central library and return books and overdue CD’s, and call library
branch for poster re my teaching writing in September.

Tuesday is meeting, devotional, walk, write, breathe, connect, and
Wednesday interview for volunteer post, check out something down the
street called Bliss, Kundelini yoga, spelled incorrectly, and
Thursday I think I’ll breathe in and out and praise my body for
lasting so long, from 4 pounds to …. Who would have thunk it.

Friday who knows, but I have my prompts all made up; and they were
very scientific at the beginning, unconsciously put down, and I find
when I prompt; I answer my own questions, like Rainer Maria Rilke in
his Letters to a Young Poet said, “Live the question,” and you know I think that’s one of the things we do here in the land of CHPerc; we live the question, but most of all we play well with others.

Be safe is your body getting up with you doing its thing, stretching if need be, bending if need be, and just all around running together. The toes gotta go where the feet want it because the brain is the alpha organ of the day, but don’t worry; tomorrow’s the heart’s day and then the heart remembering the brain but caring a bit more will feed you.

Kurt Vonnegut tells us to write 4 line poems to the end of the page which I think comes in handy when the prompts day is over and done with and I didn’t respond. So now, I’ll wish for travel’ in mercies, be safe, wish the world a good warm flannel blanket in the days of cold and wind and a cool breeze and lemonade without Aspartame for hot ones.

“Today’s the day” is every day with some days of feeling horrible, poisoned, bones pulling in and other days when my step, old as it is buoyant, clops along to the library while my mind feels safe because I have energy, and my eyes see the delicate purple etching as jacaranda trees bloom regardless of political pundits punditing and the world following apart I am safe for a bit.

I think we all want to be safe. Put your money where your mouth is, “I want to be safe,” like the bride who wants to cement her groom’s little shiny black shoed feet into the cake deep into white frosting, past the brown moist earth of chocolate, yeah safe like reading the end of books, not matter, even if it’s a math book, but careful, easy does it, don’t want to be robotic.

Safe is the name of a film which I considered earthshaking cuz the lady was white, beautiful (Julianne Moore) and the film was subtle because this lady who lived in California in the Valley, expensive, had immune system responses, and ended up in an igloo type of building in the desert, pale, freckles jumping out of skin, saying I love you to a mirror, and herself, and I KNOW I’VE MADE THIS 5 lines, but safety isn’t always staying between the lines, or sticking to the pattern, because if you were safe, would you turn the wheels of that Kaleidoscope, and see the colors, or hop on the jumper cars and go every which way, or get up in the morning, and have coffee, even though part of your heart was torn out of you because you lost some one, some thing, some concept, some, some, some, and the somes didn’t add up to the sum of your heart’s wanting to be safe, but safe is an inside job you tell yourself, and it’s who you are inside, the one that no one sees, but gets glimmerings of and it’s your world view and your relationship to Your Creator, and safe changes because the soul is always in motion, and safe risks to help others, and being safe is sacrifice on one level, because sacrifice let’s go of something lower for something higher, so safe is having a net, not being without a net like some brave Circus Lady who I might add is trim and lithe, and if she falls, it won’t be like some 500 pound Bubba out there in the neighborhood killing a sidewalk or such. No safe is reaching, trusting, like the trees in the forest with their arms up reached to the sky; safe wants star dust and glimpses of the unseen in the daily. Yeah, safe is feeling okay in your heart, no matter what is happening outside. Safe is a big deal. Yeah, safe, and that’s what I wish for you, for all I love, for those who struggle, labor, strive, keep us safe, for those who fear, because courage is doing it anyhow, whether you are safe or not.

This is from a prompt on what to say for a commencement speech.

Dear Graduates:

 Here on the planet, at Earth School, in Dirt City, on the Blue
 Marble, advice is going to be slung at you as you leave your
 schooling behind.

 I want to tell you a few things. One, fame is an illusion, because
 it is just a mercurial moment in time and space where you are a
 who gleams brightly. We live in something called the Kingdom of
 Names which has to do with who we are, What We Wear, Who We Vote
 For. Consider this, maybe that’s nice, necessary, and maybe
 Think of a wider goal. You are living in an era where you are
 Citizens, and either through trial and struggle, or a great
 consultative process, we the people of the nations, will go down a
 road pointed towards the Oneness of Humanity, a Golden Age spoken
 by prophets and seers. We will do this by today’s standards, “Boys
 will be Boys” and blow up much of the planet, leaving a postage
 somewhere by an abandoned pond on which survivors will survive, and
 abolish war forever. Better yet, we individually could all realize
 our oneness and strive together for justice and unity.

 Consider your body, it is a mass of teeming action and all parts
 to sustain the whole – homeostasis. Did you know that everything
 the spiritual world has an exact counterpart in the physical
 We are carrying around a blue print for unity in diversity by the
 mere fact of our bodies operating with intelligent rhythm.

 As you leave this joyous commencement, you each will be handed a
 packet of instructions. They consist of:

 A Hopi Message
 A writing from Oriah Mountainkeeper
 A Comment from Thomas Merton
 A view from Etty Hillesum
 An excerpt from the Baha’i Writings.

 The rest is up to you.

 Thank you for allowing me to deliver this commencement address in
 record time, thus leaving no stone unturned. I suggest you reflect
 upon these handouts carefully in that some of you will be tested in
 odd ways. Perhaps strangers will come to you and offer you the
 chance of a lifetime, and the only way to accept this chance is to
 leave with this stranger, thereby not saying goodbye to all you

 Some of you in the engineering fields will have to decide how you
 contribute to the Earth’s Beleaguered Being, and come up with
 solutions for the healing of the Earth’s Surface.

 Mostly it is up to you to live your life independently, investigate
 truth independently, be just, know you are in the process of
 your true selves, and finally, be aware, exceedingly aware, of the
 exigencies of your time. In a phrase, power is no longer used for
 personal gain, but it is used for service. Service to humanity is
 your highest aim. May we all be blessed with your struggles and


 Hopi Elder’s Message 2001 via email to me from friend in Ohio

 To our fellow swimmers. There is a river flowing now very fast.
 is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid.
 will try to hold onto the shore; they will feel they are being torn
 apart and will suffer greatly. Know that the river has its
 destination. The Elders say that we must let go of the shore, push
 off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our head
 above the water. And we say, see who is there with you and
 celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing
 least of all ourselves, for the moment that we do, our Spiritual
 growth and journey come to a halt. The time of the lone wolf is
 over. Gather yourselves. Banish the word struggle from your
 attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a
 manner and in celebration. We are the ones we have been waiting

 Share this.
 Oriah Mountain Dreamer
 It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know
 you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s
 It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will
 risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the
 of being alive.
 It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want
 know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have
 been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and
 from fear of further pain.
 I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without
 moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
 I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can
 dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of
 fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic,
 remember the limitations of being human.
 It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I
 want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.
 you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own
 If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
 I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty
 day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
 I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and
 still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the
 full moon, ‘Yes.’
 It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you
 have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and
 despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done
 to feed the children.
 It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I
 want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me
 not shrink back.
 It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
 want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls
 I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly
 like the company you keep in the empty moments.
 “If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I
 to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in
 detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for
 the things I want to live for. Between those two answers you can
 determine the identity of any person.”

 Thomas Merton, from the Man in the Sycamore Tree

 Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life, An entry dated August 20, 1941,

 “You must continue to take yourself seriously, you must remain your
 own witness, marking well everything that happens in this world,
 never shutting your eyes to reality. You must come to grips with
 these terrible times, and try to find answers to the many questions
 they pose. And perhaps the answers will help not only yourself but
 also others.”

 Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of
 the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and
 friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the
 an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of
 thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be
 unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp
 them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the
 thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of
 victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all
 thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a
 tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a
 guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the
 countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of
 the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of
 an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of
 virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean
 knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of
 wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit
 upon the tree of humility (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings
 of Baha’u’llah, p. 285)

CHPerc – March 5, 2008

I have been so quiet of late with my writing group. Then the
reminder from Steve – “You are the prompter,” and phrases float
through my mind. I had just copied Beth’s prompts of the previous
week, thinking, these are juicy little things. Now I sit again at my
computer, utilitarian nightgown on, hair thatched, tummy a little
queasy, and look at some of the phrases I tossed out this week –
brain crust reformed.

I am exploring silence, but saw that in a book. This phrase gave me a queenly – slight edge of the wrist movement – wave. Hey what about
arrest motion for I am quieter, more stopped because viruses of the
virulent kind have touched down upon California. Last week I
stumbled through. Now I must remember to stop, put a period in,
perhaps a recalcitrant comma. You know the drill.

What happened last year or several years ago when Bill and I house
sat an incredibly lovely condo on Lake in Pasadena? I remember
thinking about our beloved landlord, that I would pleat the moon for
him. Where do these images come from? I don’t know, and now
yesterday I thought, nice phrases to throw in for prompts, and if I
were really a sincere person (it’s questionable), for anyone I loved,I’d iron the stars and fold the rain into nice sheets, perfectlyedged and folded, the way my husband’s mom, Anna, trained her first born to do the laundry.

It all sounds so much easier this laundry detail rather than paying
attention to the cacophony of voices on the news with each pundit
giving his, her opinion, adding to the lace doilies of opinions,
crocheting to the sky, the endless tracking in threads, minute and
large, of the politicians and how they play.

The crocodiles are still in, and that’s why I suggested dental twine
for crocodiles, a good business to go into. Our world is not ready
for integrity, but the people hunger for ingathering, and a
groundswell is seen beyond race, color, a thirst for a hayride to a
cliff where Rhetoric in the form of old straw gets thrown over a
canyon and naught can be heard but an encouraging word, “ack” and
life goes on.

So here we are in Act XXIV of the Decline and Fall, and yet, new
forces emerge. Thank goodness for the anonymous amongst us, who
continue to live with goodwill and integrity and above all, courage
to forge through and know in reality, we are all one, different,
blessedly so, but one. And this, these words are my offerings for
the paper – pure and white, after the poem.

Lyricism and grit, it’s all a dance.

Today’s writing prompts!

1.    Given the circumstances….

2.    In the Shadow of …..

3.    Today, as never before …

4.    Multiplicity of choice

5.    A day, a moment, an hour, I’ll not forget

6.    The pages are still blank

Did you know there’s a type of bug or spider that runs along in the
Iraqi desert by the figure running, and he/it/she is vicious and has
teeth and will give a deadly bite, but it hides in the shadows. I
read a biography of a doctor’s time in Iraq, a time where her
husband, a Marine also, stayed home with the twins (toddlers) and her
mom and dad came in to do heavy duty grandparent duty. I can’t
remember the title of the book, and given the multiplicity of books
now emerging, can’t remember. Today, as never before, a plethora of
memoir on the war; did I say war? I meant wars emerges, and I think
all valid. It is time to give voice to a day, a moment, an hour, and
those who do will cause me to think and feel, and say, “I’ll not

The pages are still blank as far as our future history goes. Did we
go down that random vortex of unimaginable horror, like living In the
Shadow of Angkor, written and edited by a friend Sharon May, and also
Frank Stewart, a University of Hawaii Press publication?

Today as never before, did I say that? Today as never before, the
forces of light and darkness duke it out, and how can one forget
moments. Yes my world is still as small as a canary yellow and white
cough drop paper bag, and a picture of a very fat, curly tailed pug,
with stocky front legs resting on a small child’s red chair, but over
this is the heaviness of what is happening out there; out beyond the
insulation of our culture and those who romp and play on a Fantasy
Island, like Pinocchio, and mercifully, there is always beauty in the
world, and prose of horrors overcome, as in Anghkor.

I am reminded of a weekend course on the foundation of education
building a world society, and realizing we are in a paradigm shift,
and it is uncomfortable, but current educational practices are based
on getting all of us through a system as the Industrial Revolution,
and that won’t work.

Now is the time for us to enable capacity and connection and
authentic perceptions, and spiritual insight. We are children of a
half light emerging into a global civilization which must consider
that we have come of age spiritually and it’s time to throw down all
shibboleths (is that a word) of difference and pulsate on hoping our
tattered world will win the battle of old egos as in old dinasours.
But I am dangerously near preaching or lecturing, and the heart,
anyone’s heart will go into heels dug into the ground, don’t push me
into a way of thinking, but to end with a remembrance of a day I’ll
not forget is to remember 9/11 after the airplanes’ destructive
paths, before politicians’ games of power, a blank space, like the
action potential of the cell before it hits the synapses, and a blank
time where we were cylindrical in our unity and our caring for the
other; we seemed to be enwrapped in columns of blue misty caring, and
we were one – giving new meaning to prayer as a state of being.

Found this image under “four line poem” and note the 5th column, oh well, nothing is black and white. I am prompter for writing group this week; and i think this was something i suggested from Kurt Vonnegut-the basic idea is to write a four line poem before you good to bed; make it as good as you can and don’t show it; the creativity is the reward, but of course, typical writer, i show; 4 lines on computer different from 4 lines pasted into spot; c’est la vie!

Four lines travel across a page

Does “before you go to bed” mean before a nap because my eyelids droop as I am back
From walking urban blocks, for exercise, a checkout at a consignment store, cough drops and Nan bread at Trader Joe’s – bless me father for I won’t eat more than my allotted

My world is bound by cough drops of the herbal kind, a husband who is tottering, a good sign indeed, tottering rather than near death like a week ago, wanted to stay weak and now in Pasadena uptown that is where the streets are wide, and quiet reigns, I think it’s all a prompt this life; one prompt after another, transforming, plunging, changing.

Ever listen to the Zen noise of your computer on promising you life beyond your borders where communication pulsates or lurches, take your pick and you find, you can bear or bare, oh dear, just about anything even misspelling, as long as you are connected to the chair, the floor, outside a squeaky screen door to the ones you love out there and here?

I’d like a dog, the idea of a dog, maybe like the Tarjay (Target) dog, white with gorgeous red eye, or maybe a beigy French bull whose ears point to Mars, both sides, and whose white tummy needs rubbing or maybe a pug to snort and shed pug hairs around his Napoleonic existence, and this is not to be so – time to cruise pug websites instead

My life is made up of beeping sounds of phone off hook so Bill can nap; and 1-800 numbers and an open cough drop bag, a small book The Hidden Words, open books about 25 of them, witness to the attention span deficit of my ways, and images, lots of images, one of Steve Pulley’s email, reminding me I am prompter; a friend indeed

Gotta go take that nap – white velvet pulls at my eyelids, and my bones feel like candle wax melting, and the bed, flat, smooth, near a half opened mullioned window beckons, even beyond the promise of lunch, crisp hot Nan, with golden margarine swimming over its blackened crust, sleep and then health and then be there calls.

From some writing prompts i wrote

My sister’s hand was pale, her forearms moist and the writing from
her body invisible. What’s it like for a twin to be witness to a
birth, the birth at the end of time here in dirt city, earth school,
not a gallery, but a workshop?

She had ceased breathing in and breathing out, as I sat at my
computer in her kitchen, exhausted from a month’s witnessing her
agitation, lucid thoughts, holding her in my arms, doing student
nurse type of things like learning to hammer out crushed ice, with
the ice in any kind of clean towel we could grab from the kitchen
and hurry back to her. Her body in the end was luminous, but she
had stopped breathing in and out, and a body no matter how
beautiful, simply does not tell you reliable truth about the soul
who had just left.

I had a few months before, been witness to the doors of Weimar, with
pictures of my dear young friends, pictures of doors of Bach’s
hometown, cobblestone streets, and a restaurant with beefy beef and
potatoes which split apart from a quivery touch of a fork or spoon,
ready to abandon all to the love of someone’s, in particular my,

I had seen the doors and the trim of Haifa dwellings, a blue only I
could call Acca blue and think of march toward oneness in this
trembling age. But then I got to see the doors of Caldwell, Idaho,
where I had written a few odes to the Caldwell cows. These doors
were open, spilling out casseroles with a bit of creamed this or
creamed that over hunks of veggies and chicken. Their owners kept
up a steady supply of feeding our little group of four, assistants,
trainees to the hospice team.

We had an unbroken line as twins, that line tested so much over the
years. Fraternal is different, opposite the myth or the unreliable
truth that twins think the same thoughts, feel the same feelings,
utter the same cries.

But, the fact is the line wasn’t broken and while she stayed in
Caldwell, and I twitted about the world a wider piece, the line did
its job, staying firm or loose or taught but still a line. The line
has dissolved into space unknown, a silver blue thing of mystical
origins. And now I a traveler in the fractal worlds of God think of
her in random moments of my day in wonder of the doors that lie
ahead of her.

This was an exercise I tried after sending a friend who is teaching kids some examples of lessons; it was nice to try it; I want to say it was fun; but would that shock those who knew my twin just passed. But heck yes, lightness of being, the unbearable lightness of being; it’s grand.

If death were a color it would be
a rainbow, with the black starting first
just as so not to surprise the writer
who is in for a notice of change

Death ain’t what you thought it would be baby.
And it would be varied and graded like
all us creatures in the world; shades of grey
in thinking; no geometric black and white

What’s wrong, this is the only way
Nope, it wouldn’t have an only one way color; and
it would taste like medicine at first, but
tIt would be like riding the Ferris Wheel
higher than ever before

And if death were a feeling, it would be
like my tummy going on a big bump, jumping
up high inside, but skipping down in delight
and finding out, not all bumps are meant to hurt
and give new meaning to bumped up.

Yep, bumped up to the higher ways of intricate oneness
Death would feel light and like bouncy, bouncy bally
A verse uttered by nine year olds in schoolyards past,
and it would be as sturdy as a red rubber ball
needed to be in the school yard
and smell sort of rubbery, familiar like
with maybe a touch of vanilla, cuz you know
Vanilla soothes the senses, don’t you know

And inside, the smell would make me feel just
Oh so safe
And if death were a sound, it would be echoes of
Kids in ages past shouting out beyond the sky,
The stars and the moon
Ollie Ollie Infrey, Ready or Not
Here I come

Elizabeth Leslie BY Esther Bradley-DeTally

It makes sense, Elizabeth, my twin, would have come down the pike first. I bet when she hit earth, she did so with a determined plop of a baby bottom. In fact, I think she had printed instructions for her life, balled up in a chubby fist. I think these instructions read: “This baby has spunk, courage, and a capacity to endure.” I also think she had some capital letter instructions which might have read “Increase Capacity for Endurance.” And you know, just to go further out on a limb with “I betcha,” I betcha some random angel threw in Determination and Service but also added Loves Sports.” Life is indeed not all work and no play.

But, what do I know, because I was on the Welcome to Earth conveyor belt, 12 minutes behind her. Me, Elizabeth Bradley’s twin. Elizabeth Deagan Bradley, born August 28, 1938, in Boston. She went home first, and I stayed to put weight on a four pound body, and clutching my own fistful of instructions and a note “Dear Baby, As you go through life, you will experience the phenomena of skin stretching. Do not be alarmed.”

We went home to parents Don and Mary, a sister a year older, Mary Ellen, whom we called “Meb,” a brother John a year older than that,” and a housekeeper Rita who had the talent of keeping the household together, all the while with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth.

We preceded: the Great Hurricane of 1938 a month later, sweeping into the New England Landscape like Attila the Hun on a bad day. We preceded whooping cough in the next few months, which Children’s Hospital of Boston took care of, because my father was out of work with 4 kids, all 3 and under.

Margarine hadn’t been invented, and our jumping on tin cans to save them for the War Effort and our saving lard, and tobacco shortages were just around the corner as was War with Germany and Japan and blackout curtains at night.

Descriptions followed: One became blonde and curly haired with big blue eyes. The other looked wizened, wrinkled, a baby squirrel kicked out her nest with a solid hind foot of Mother Squirrel.” “The Twins didn’t sit up until 7 months because they had each other.” “In the winter, we’d dress you girls up in snow suits which took a good half hour a piece, and put you outside. You stood motionless, not moving; until we gave up and hauled you back inside.”

After kindergarten they separated us because one twin was more dependent than the other. Only last week did I find out the cause. Liz said, “I copied your yellow wooden shoe drawing.”

I read and Elizabeth hated reading. But one day in third grade, a miracle happened in the form of Eddie and His Fire Engine, a short story which Liz read at school. Guess what, you couldn’t stop her from reading then. She also threw herself into Red Rover games, jump rope, sledding, ice skating at the local field, a form of squash which you hit with a tightened fist. Liz was the best. She’d sit right close to our dad and listen to the Baseball Game with him. She wanted to be a boy, and she was the next best thing for our dad.

Radio programs were a big item. We passed on over Baby Snooks and Jack Benny. By the time Elizabeth was 10, my mom would come out to the back porch, look due east and up into a thickly leaved maple tree, and say, “Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Bobby Benson and the B-Bar B is on.” A rustle would be heard, and Liz would slide down that tree and disappear into the worlds of Bobby Benson, Sergeant Preston and His Dog King (of the Yukon), Red Rider, and the Lone Ranger.

Harry Raymond’s Ballroom Dancing School beckoned us at age twelve, and Liz would climb down her tree and we’d put on identical red satin dresses with Peter Pan Color dresses that my mom mad. We’d be driven to Harry Raymond’s Ballroom Dancing School. We had to wear stockings and garter belts. I felt like a cat on the way to the public bath. Liz was more popular with the boys and had no trouble being asked to dance. When we sat on the sidelines on long benches, she sat with her legs wide apart as if ready to spring on a horse, sat that way, that is, until Old Harry who was like an Opaque Crow, tapped her ankles with a long black walking stick and said, “Ladies always sit with their legs closed.”

There’s a dark side, like big splashes of thick red and black paint, assaulting a Pollack canvass. Alcoholism, a mom taken away for shock treatments, a dad besides himself with anguish, 4 kids in disarray. Elizabeth also told me last year, “When I was 10, I stood in the graveled driveway and thought, “I have to take care of myself now.”

My father didn’t leave us, and my mother eventually died when we were 17. We had moved to downtown Boston along the Charles River, and Liz went home from school first and found her. Our mom died that night of a massive stroke.

Did I mention we fought a lot, and that she’d wait until I’d left the house and then fill my shoes with Kleenex and wear them for the evening? Did I mention all those Saturday night dances, and lots of guys thinking she was the cutest thing that side of the Mississippi, and dances where ushers went around tapping couples locked in Siamese embrace, saying “6 inches from the Holy Ghost”?

She also faked playing the clarinet with Janet Cleary and myself in the St. Theresa’s Marching Band, and we marched on the floor of Fenway Park and in the St. Patty’s Day Parade in New York.

She was the good student. She published a short story in the Tattler, a High School newsletter. We both thought we were stupid (my father was in Harvard at age 16), and we felt like Prince Valiant trolls. We loved dogs, independent ways and a 12 room house with 8 bedrooms and lots of fireplaces. Still, we shared a bedroom, and I was sloppy beyond measure. My father used to say “No man will ever marry you with a room like that.” Liz drew a line down the middle of our room, and I couldn’t cross over to her side.

Neatness aside, she went on to nursing school, but came home one night in hysterics, determined to quit, quit that is, until the next day Dad said, “Get up, you’re going to look for a job”. That night Liz was back in school. She finished, graduated to a standing ovation because an accident bruised her brain badly, left her with a slight limp, and her brain stem was injured. She came away from this sharp as a tack and it made her the most compassionate nurse in ICU and CCU units around!

She married a man whose chapter could be called “Psychotic and Dangerous,” and fortunately he died. I had my son Nicholas at 31, and felt badly she had no children. So we did what twins do, like Parcheesi Games and gifts for birthdays, we shared. I included her in many of Baby Nick’s adventures, and we were always there for each other.

Another chapter began meeting James Leslie. They were a match. Her wedding was the happiest of days, and then she became pregnant at around 42. Surprise! The day Matthew was born, blue eyed, blonde hair (where have we heard that), was a huge, huge day of joy. Jim and Liz then took care of foster children, and animals began to gather in their house looking for a potential Arc. Another incredible day happened when Joey arrived over the threshold, dark, puddle-warm brown eyes, a half-smile that would twist and melt your heart, and then Liz and Jim adopted him. After a few foster children came and went, shored up, readier to face the world, Matt said to his Mom, “When do I get a new mom and dad?” But that wasn’t the case.

Other than Her Lord, Jesus, these two fine sons were and are the cause of Elizabeth’s Greatest Happiness. Jim died, of agonizing bone cancer, and it was a blow. But somehow a spoon was in their pudding, which means, the Hand of God was gently guiding this little family. They moved to Idaho, and the rest is Matt’s story.

One final comment, she was always grateful: for every leaf on a tree, for a roof over her head, for every blessing and trial that came her way, and she tread the path of service and selflessness with her patients and her family with fortitude, endurance, empathy, courage, and tads of laughter, well throw in “How about them Red Sox” too!
We were both happy to be twins!

some triggers and how I used them:

1. the reunion

2. “there is nothing like it in all the wide world.”

3. dogs in tutus

4. Sara Louise Throckmorton had never believed in ghosts

5. added; thank you for the active week

There’s nothing like a 50th reunion from high school in the whole wide
world, and I had just coaxed Liz, my twin, to “Let’s go back and be
the Bradley Twins once more,” and we were to somehow hook up and fly
into Logan Airport in Boston, traverse the sub ways and get to
Roslindale, Massachusetts where we hung out when the earth was young.

I was going to entertain her of stories of John’s snapping turtle who
was odious and who spent days in the butler’s pantry propped up
against a silver tray admiring himself. Throckmorton P. Jr. finally
got thrown back in the pond or water in Dedham or Norwood, reunited
with his sister Sara Louise Throckmorton, and I thought good riddance.

Around that time we had a pug and a boxer and we kept dressing these
dogs up in tutus and lying on the floor watching them edge their
bodies against furniture, anything to get those damned things off; we
lay there a silent laughter systollically(sp) going up to the high
ceilings, and our ribs going up and down like out of control bellows.

But you know on a scale of 1-10, these remembrances would be a two,
except that Roslindale High had been an abandoned building, until a
convalescent home had taken it over and made it into a shiny place for
elders. They had remodeled the stage and theatre too, where i got up
to help the magic man and told the audience his tricks, and he snarled
at me under his breath.

So the Committee for the 50th decided to hold the reunion in the rest
home’s newly redone auditorium, and when I looked at who was coming (7
people) I called Liz and said, “Forget it.”

So we had our own reunion; strange I would call sitting by her bed as
she’s passing through to the next worlds of God a reunion, but hey you
gotta grab language and happenings were they are.

We had a principal named Mr. Gately who parted his hair down the
middle and looked like Al Capone’s jailer; did Al Capone have a
jailer? Catch my drift. Then there was Miss Keough, the Guidance
Counselor, who had been in the WACS, women’s armed services group of
World War II. I swear you could have put a studded collar around her
neck and called her Bubbita.

I would be on the third floor in a classroom, when the phone would
ring. The teacher would answer it, mumble yes, and then hang up the
wall phone, look at me, and say “Bradley,” go to the principal’s office.

I would walk down three lonely long flights hearing silence banging
within my head and then finally approach the linoleum floored first
floor: long, empty, except for Mr. Gately and Miss Keough.

The gist of it was three times that year, they did this, looked at me
with loathing and said, “Get out. Don’t come back until you bring
your father.” I head over to the local hangout and light up a
cigarette. I was 15. I’d think, “Why do I always do this,” But
meditation and knowledge of my inner landscape didn’t even hit a
shallow level. I never told my father, so Gately would call on a
Sunday night.

I grew out of it; shame, fear of not graduating, summer school where i
learned how to spell (sasparilla) – sar sap a rilla were my 50s
catalyst to settling down.

Did I mention my son “never attached to high school,” my euphemism,
and that a guy I dated asked “What’s the difference between precocious
and a brat,” Without a minute’s hesitation I answered a mother’s
point of view.

But I tell you I am here today and I want to thank the prompter and
the people who write for this group. In my life settling up my twin’s
house after her passing and on the screen, it’s been a very active
week, and for that I am grateful. Life goes on.

My sister, by the way, was known as “the good twin.”

wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
i sorrow for a twinging tooth
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
a back tooth like an old couch waiting for Goodwill

sorrow was two weeks ago standing in front of
my twin’s coffin, she in her blue bridal dress of old
me, alive, sorrowing for the little girl on a tricycle
sorrowing for her life of dripping Rorschach ink

wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
sorrow has gone up like a balloon on a helium sortie
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents
thwatting away epic events tumbling through and around
the people on the earth’s stage

order, thwats, pops, bops, all metranome like
in their reassurance, the steadied beat of routine
comfort, sorrow, joy, laughter, anger, all runs together
wimbledon plays, bop, pop, british accents

Prompts for 7 July ’07


Holy moley, my plastic St. Jude Valve wheezes like it’s a dog ready to
cough up a snail, that reaction to his choresterol sludge. I have
sludge too and have been attempting to attain the Divine Stage of
Reconciliation when I will glide into my doc’s office and tell him
I’ve been trying to meet the standards of the pharmaceutical companies
and have my cholesterol at 100 or so.

But I suspect these pharmaceutical companies are in cahoots, and keep
resetting the bar of aterial perfection higher in order to sell more
heart drugs and keep their pill devotees in a state of deprived of
that o’l lardy feeling. That way the patients lunge at food in the
middle of the night, in a walk through the hollow corridors of Walmart
searching for Twinkies, Susie Q’s, Devil Dogs, and think just this
once, and than add some Chocolate Rocky Road ice cream to smooth the
trip down towards a psyche which assumes gargoyle form, hissing in need.

These old boys in the pharm corps want us to be choosy about our food,
but they know we can’t and they have created lovely little statin
drugs to take at night; drugs promised to say to you, “Hello, I’m your
new miracle of the universe. Take me and you will cease trying to
be perfect on your own. It’s not your fault. Become a fan of
statins. Statins are your friend. Say “yes” to life and arterial
equanimity. Why worry, be happy.”

But, I suspect I am too choosy, to suspicious of the sirene call of
Statins. Still I take them because my doctor will bark at me in
anger, and my choresterol will lump up in a state of inner nerves.

Oh dear, what’s a gal to do?


My day begins with an aubade to the rosy sun that filters light
through mullioned windows, casting shadows, stripes, hues on the 20
stiff and silky furred pugs all snuffing and snorting their way up
towards me in complete devotion.

Bill brings me my 26th cup of coffee, a yearly treat, as he tells me,
“I vacuumed the Pugs with a silent hose so as not to disturb you,” and
I praise the sun and this husband of mine, whose heart beats are
tachycardiac with my own in slavish devotion to these squatty little
warloads, these imitation pugaparte’s, named: Napoleon, a rather
smallish one, Sluggo and Nancy, he bullish and spilling flesh, leaning
against my knee, whilst his mate, Nancy, black, small determined and
pissed because Sluggo keeps pushing her out of the way. The rest?
I’ll leave that for a less perfect day when my spirit droops and tell
you of Grendel and Thor and Hortensia and Garlic Breath, and Attilita,
aaah my beloved Atilita who wants eggs every morning, spit out the
yellow on the floor and just eat the whites, Atilita.

The World Times comes to my bed, again brought by my slavishly devoted
mate of 100 years, and I note with pleasure, our world leaders, all
elected on their qualities of service and integrity, and finally
decided how to handle those whose necks arch out in greed.

They have created what is known as Pie in The Sky Ranch, and all those
leaders whose underwear probably scratched their inner thighs and
made them irritable and evil, will be allowed to go to a remote place
off the Falkland Islands and walk with the penguins and learn how to
make beef pie, and never be allowed to come back to civilization.

I also note that according to our latest poll of the planet, we are
achieving 98% literacy and that Janabe Judd has one the Nobel Prize
for his theory of international relationships. The honored Janabe,
blessings be upon his mom, has figured out that Africa is the heart of
the world, and Germany the brain, and the States who went through that
humbling, scrape of the arrogance period in the early 2,000s is the
social director and coordinator of solace and welcome to the human
race. He will be honored for his literary representation of the huan
race; it’s oneness, it’s diversity, the parts (countries) becoming one
and their spirits creating a greater than the whole tenor.

Creativity is flourishing; my mind stills at the thought of every atom
in the universe being there for our education, and further stills and
my heart stops because we have finally achieved as a planet a place
where everyone born is a trust of the whole. The Spiritualization of
Humankind, the promise of Prophets and Seers and Poets of older times
when earth was grubby and garbage ran amuck.

How did we get to live through those terrible times and witness
today’s morning glory. I decide 140 is as old as I want to be; i don’t
want to have baggy kidneys and knees that look like bookends to my ankles.

I lie back and snuggle into the pillows, and say to my beloed mate,
“Put on another pug, right over the empty space here on my nose and my
mouth, and he picks Clara, and also Margo and Kaufman just to be sure,
and i slowly lose consciousness with a sense of peace like a warm
soothing blanket from days of old, spreading silently through my
being, and i think right before my soul rises up the ceiling in utter
bliss, “This beats stretching and straining for Yoga positions,” and
then I move into other worlds knowing my beloved mate is sure to meet
up with me shortly, and the pugs will be cared for tenderly during all
their days, because Be Kind To Animals is such an observed saying, it
has replaced the old Peace Poles with Peace written in different
language, and put in parks and civic buildings.

Snort, snuff, hmmmmmm.

Am going to put some recent writing (draft only) this was trigger “Being Master of the Universe Isn’t all Fun and Games

Meing baster of the universe isn’t all gun and fames kou ynow! just for instance, i have to drop my Master language as was my first sentence (sirst fentence) which I and twelve angels on the head of a pin (welve tangels on the pead of a hin) play when we play olley olley infrey out here on the back deck of pluto.

Pluto, now that was a blow. Pluto was a premature birth, and now because of its neonatal size voted by the earthlings or downgraded –
not a planet any more.

I’m disturbed about all this downgrading on the planet. Earth Planet is coarsening. They don’t listen to my messages. The political leaders and corporate CEO’s are like Oreo cookies. Remember Oreo cookies being invented? Such dark chocolate, flaky, melt in your mouth experience of our little cookie eaters on the planet.

I was proud that a soul like Betty Crocker (Cetty Brocker) burst onto the food scene. Finally, someone thought about the little people,
their needs. Well now,it seems these same leaders and CEO’s have taken that gorgeous white cream out of the middle and are just using
it all for themselves.

meing baster of the universe isn’t all gun and fames. You see I am an advanced earthling (whatever that means) and the Creator appointed me Chief Custodian, and I have to report to this Creator every event, small or big. People envy me, but believe you me (yelieve mou ye) some days I just want to grow German Shepherd fur on my neck, go out to the garden and eat worms.

Esther Bradley-DeTally


Carmella Rosella was unhappy. Her mother and father had just moved from a tiny house near the ocean. Carmella Rosella loved the ocean. She loved her small yard. She loved to see the red and yellow flowers shoot open in the early morning sun. She sighed with wonder when the sun sank, like a burning orange ball, into the ocean and flowers swayed in the afternoon breeze. It seemed to Carmella Rosella as if nature was saying “Goodbye, see you tomorrow.”

Now, Carmella Rosella lived in a stucco house, with a cement driveway, near a black paved street. Very little grass was in sight.
“Oh well,” she thought, “maybe the people here will be different. Maybe they’ll be red and yellow and shades of cream and brown.” Besides, she thought, her parents had both told her she might have a dog. “Carmella,” said her mother, “I haven’t discussed this with your father, but I think you may have a dog.” Carmella’s father had told her the very same night, as he stroked her dark curly hair and pulled her bed comforter around her, “look Carmella, I think you can have a dog. We’ll look for one. But it must be sort of smallish. We cannot have a dog the size of a mountain lion in this home.”

That night Carmella Rosella dreamt of dogs. She dreamt of all kinds and sizes. First, there were large, hairy dogs, whose steps seemed liquid, like moving pencils. They were too formal she thought. Then there were wide chested beasts with short dark hair. They looked as if they could pull tractors on a farm. Suddenly, a small dog with a round, black wrinkled face and bulgy brown eyes popped up. He made some sort of a noise. Was it a snort? Then he ran away: curly tail tucked into his body like a pig, legs flying. “Wait, wait,” Carmella Rosella cried out. Then she woke up.

In the morning, Carmella Rosella went straight to her bookcase and looked at it very carefully. Her eyes scanned all the books until she saw it: top shelf, third book on right. She pulled it off the shelf carefully. It was old, brown and dusty, the family photo album. Her mother said “you don’t see sepia photographs very often. This is a pretty special album.” Carmella Rosella turned the pages carefully until she came to the middle of the album. A group picture showed a slight woman squinting into the sun. The woman wore a long white muslim dress and stood besides two boys in knickers and white shirts. In front of her was a little girl in a white dress with a wide sash around her waist. The little girl looked about four years old. She was trying to put something round on top of the laundry in a large wicker basket in front of her. The little girl was Carmella’s great grandmother. She was trying to put a Pug dog into the laundry basket. She lived in a big rambling house in a place called Hull, near the ocean.

That’s it, Carmella Rosella thought. My great grandmother had one, a Pug. “They called him King,” her mother chimed in, looking at the picture. “Pugs used to be quite popular. Kings and dukes and duchesses owned them, traveled with them.” In my mother’s childhood,” her mother continued, “some fashion magazines used to show big fat Pugs sprawling on the black and white tiled floors of marbled palaces.”
Carmella Rosella squinted at the next picture. Inside of her great grandmother’s house sat two fat pugs on a silk settee. The boy pug had his head cocked. Worry was in his eyes. He seemed to say “silk or not, what’s that man with the black box want from me”? The lady pug by his side looked a little less worried. She was shorter, wider, had the look “I can face this life. Just give me a boy pug by my side.”
“So that’s what you want Carmella, is it”? Her mother smiled at her and the pictures in the album. “Chinese Pugs, they used to call them. They’ve gone completely out of fashion. But your great grandmother was dotty over them. I don’t know Carmella, people nowadays don’t want fuss, muss. They don’t want little pig like animals who make snorting noises. Life is so careful these days.” “You know that’s one of the reasons we moved here. We wanted vitality. We didn’t want to be separate, tidy, bordered. We were tired of pretty neighborhoods where the neighbors didn’t speak to each other.”
Carmella Rosella nodded, watching her mother’s brown eyes very closely. She knew her mother just might, just might say yes to a pug. She also knew her mother and father had moved to this town to be with people of all races, colors and backgrounds. They belonged to a new religion, “a new Faith,”: they called it. “Gotta put your money where your mouth is,” her father said one day, looking out at the backyard, staring at the one and only tree.
“What can I do?” Carmella Rosella wondered. “I want people to be friendly too. Could a dog help?” Then she remembered everyone always said “ugh, a Pug,” when dogs were mentioned, particularly that breed. But something of her great grandmother’s spirit stirred within her, and she said to her mother, “Please, may we look for a pug today”?
Her mother looked at her thinking, “Six years old, and she already has a glass head.” Need, love curiosity and just plain wanting was written all over Carmella’s face: bumpy small nose, 3 freckles at its tip, determined chin, hazel green eyes. Why she’s looks just like her great grandmother her mother thought, just like the picture in the album.
“Why not,” her mother said to Carmella. “The pound is not far from here. Maybe we can find a dog there.”
The pound was a three block walk away. It was a neat, squatty white stucco building. The reception area had a painted red cement floor and a kind lady behind a grate who smiled at them. “A pug”? “Only a Pug”? she said to Carmella Rosella taking her hand. “Well, it just so happens we have one in the back room. He’s a feisty guy though. His owners gave him away because he tried to eat all of their furniture and run up walls and over tables. They said he was untrainable.” “Oh dear,” Carmella mother sighed. But Carmella Rosella would have none of it. Ears sealed to “untrainable,” she marched quickly towards the back room.
There he was, sleeping, curled up in a small ball of beige fur. Carmella Rosella put her finger through the grating of his cage. He opened one brown eye, lifted his head, cocked it sideways as if to say “well, it’s about time. I’ve been waiting for a little girl like you.” For Carmella Rosella it was love at first sight.
So Carmella Rosella and her mother, paid the lady, made sure the little pug was clean and had all of his shots, and they left the building. The pug was only 8 months old. “I’d better carry him, dear. He doesn’t know us and might run away,” said her mother.
When they got to her house, Carmella Rosella ran ahead and unlocked the back door. The pug jumped out of her mother’s arms and raced around the house, like a whizzing car on a race track. Up on the sofa, down on the floor, under the coffee table, into the bedroom. Around, over, and under the big bed. Finally, he ran into Carmella’s bedroom and hid beneath her blue comforter. Only a small nose with a touch of black ear could be seen. Carmella Rosella threw back her head and laughed, enchanted. Her mother said, “I’m going to call your father and warn him we have a wind tunnel in the house.”
Carmella Rosella named the dog The Pug and set about training him. The Pug challenged her at every turn. At night he dragged all the pillows off the couch and began arranging them around him. Seven pillows, all navy blue, arranged around a small black and white squiggling pug. Squealing, he approached each pillow, clamping his teeth down on a corner, like chewing on a good cigar. “Good grief,” her father said, “he looks like Winston Churchill.” Privately, he said to Carmella’s mother, “maybe we were too hasty. Do you think this dog will work out”? Carmella’s mother wondered also. But at night, when they looked into Carmella’s bedroom, all doubts faded. There lay The Pug and Carmella, side by side. The Pug snored contentedly, black nostrils whiffing in and out; and Carmella Rosella lay on her back, one arm across The Pug’s back, a half smile on her lips. “Well,” said her father, “some day that dog has to grow up. Hopefully we’ll have some furniture left.”
Then came the day of the Big Parade. Carmella’s mother and father were pretty excited. This was a day for all of the people from different cultures to learn about one another. First was the parade, and then a picnic with games and Chinese food and knishes and pizza and Thai and Vietnamese food. It was to be a day of sharing.
“The Pug stays home,” her father told Carmella. But Carmella Rosella had other plans. She went into her bedroom and pulled a tiny red T shirt from a chest of drawers. On the T shirt were big white letters which said “One Planet, One People Please …” Slowly Carmella Rosella pushed the T shirt over The Pug’s worried eyes, past his snub nose and wrinkled face. She pushed his right front leg into the right sleeve of the T shirt and then pushed his left front leg into the left sleeve. The Pug looked mortified. The red T shirt with white letters covered his entire body. He became very quiet. His tail uncurled. “C’mon” Carmella Rosella said, “We’re going to a parade.” “Well, her mother said to her husband as they both looked at the dog and Carmella, “A parade is an anything goes event. Why not.”
So Carmella, The Pug, her mother and father joined hundreds of people under a large cement bridge, actually under a freeway overpass. The parade would be one mile and end up at the park. The Pug stood next to the tuba player and didn’t move. Finally the parade started up. The mayor and his wife were in a long black car. They started the parade with a large banner which said “Our Town Is Beautiful. People of All Colors Live Here.” Next came a fat lady on a horse and then a high school marching band, some drum majorettes, some clowns. Her mother and father were on a large float which held a giant blue globe. Children, dressed in different native costumes, from around the world, stood by the globe. But before the float of the globe and the children marched Carmella Rosella and The Pug.
Carmella Rosella had on a blue sweatshirt which also said in big white letters, “One Planet, One People, Please …” And The Pug was transformed.

He was the only dog in the parade. His tail curled up. Carefully, like a well trained Leipzig, he placed one foot down on the pavement. Then up it went. Down went the other foot. His knees curled in precision. He looked straight ahead, neither right, nor left. His black velvet ears sat up in attention. He marched to the tuba noise, “oom, pah, pah, oom, pah, pah,” Feet down on the ooms, up on the pahs, he marched as if hearing distant notes from years gone by. A roar went up from the crowd. A small child yelled, “loookkk, look at the dog.” The Pug marched a block and a half, did a parade turn left at the reviewing stand, and came to an abrupt halt. The tuba continued its “oom, pah, pah,” but The Pug just waited. The people in the reviewing stand stood up and cheered, and the Pug moved on, float with blue globe and children behind him.
The Pug had grown up. He was marching for world unity, and he knew it.
Carmella’s mother and father knew The Pug was theirs for keeps. And Carmella Rosella knew from that day on she would always have a pug. Sometimes maybe she’d go to distant lands to share this Faith of her parents, and of hers. Sometimes the pug she would own would have to stay with friends. But she knew she’d always come back and have a pug. And she knew also that other people would love them. Pugs would become popular again. Just as being with different types of people would be a way of life, people would never say “ugh a Pug” again. And she would remember the parade day for a very long time, the day The Pug showed people animals can help bring people together, even funny looking ones with pushed in noses.
The Pug looked up at Carmella, no longer ashamed of his red T shirt. Carmella Rosella knelt down and flung her arms around him. His muzzle grazed her closed eyelids in a kiss, and he snorted in her ear as if to say “Look, it’s all in a day’s work. When’s the next parade”? And The Pug and Carmella Rosella headed towards the picnic.

In honor of Kurt Vonnegut who has instructions or someone does; they are up on my blog, and last night i wrote a longer poem; is four lines a poem – guess if a person can be a poem or a room like Sandra Cisnero’s longing for a white room as pure as the paper before the verse is on it or something like that, i can write a 4 line piece which i did and here it is; it’s great fun; what a remedy for the blahs, writing; wonderful!

Today I write to the end of the line of paper which is white and blank
And I feel that you – forget you – I, I have to be willing to go to end of the line.
Face my courage and galvanize myself into action, a mere walking in
Blank space, that’s really what we do, we walk in blank space, heavenly.
esther bradley-detally

“Nobody will stop you from creating. Do it tonight. Do it tomorrow.That is the way to make your soul grow – whether there is a market for it or not! The kick of creation is the act of creating, not anything that happens afterward. I would tell all of you watching
this screen: Before you go to bed, write a four line poem. Make it as good as you can. Don’t show it to anybody. Put it where nobody will find it. And you will discover that you have your reward.”
– Kurt Vonnegut

the chart is supposed to be Vonnegut’s brain, and I couldn’t figure
out how to enlarge it. Any suggestions. Happy reading today!

Below is something Jack Grapes, LA Writer and Teacher Beyond Measure, sent in an email to his cronies near and far. Read every word reader. Have good days! esther

Hi,What a wonderful article in yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) TIMES, Calendar section, about KarenMoncrieff, who was part of the Collective a few years back. She turnedsome of her “self-indulgent” journal entries into her first featurefilm titled “Blue Car,” — about a troubled young woman who enters apoetry contest. The film was purchased in 2003 at Sundance and exitedthe festival as one of the year’s so-called buzz items. The film wenton to garner numerous positive reviews. The article in yesterday TIMESis about her second feature, “The Dead Girl,” which she again wroteand direceted. It premiered last month as part of AFI Fest, and ismade up of five vignettes, [to quote the Times reviewer] “each a delicately heartbreaking portrait ofquiet resolve and small steps forward as it follows largelydisconnected characters whose lives are all in some way catalyzed bythe muder of a drug-addicted prostitute.” The film stars ToniCollette, Brittany Murphy, Mary Beth Hurt, James Franco, etc. Thefilm opens this Friday and [again, to quote the reviewer] “has arelentless consistency from story to story, a somber, death-stainedlook at lives in stasis, in desperate need of new directions, thoughit is leavened by slight slivers of hope. For her part, Moncriefacknowledges that titling the film THE DEAD GIRL serves as a form oftruth-in-advertising and that those uninterested in the occasionallydisturbing subject matter might be better served elsewhere.”Karen is quoted in the article about realizing that films that areemotionally difficult [check out THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS if you wantto see a film that even though you know has a happy ending coming, isstill unbearable to watch, though the pay-off is wonderful] may not beeveryone’s cup of tea. She says, “I feel like I’m making films forpeople who are like me, who like to go to movies and be shaken up,literally taken by the throat and shaken up for an hour and a half.And moved and forced to look at things that are ugly, forced tocontemplate the darkest moments any of us can imagine.””Somebody asked me,” [she continues in the article], “if it would bebetter if the movie was ‘uplifting.’ And I said, ‘Well, to me this isuplifting.’ To me, what’s depressing is to see lies-on-screen, to seelives sugar-coated, a fake version of life as I know it or feel it.”Anything less than that and I’d feel like I hadn’t done my job.”There are other people who are much better at shining a light onwhat’s funny or what’s sweet. Maybe my calling is to feel deeply someaspects of human pain and grief. People making choices, struggling todo better and change, to me is uplifting.”I’m so glad to see Karen’s work getting such good notice. She’s awonderful writer who doesn’t flinch from what’s true. There’s aassumption that if you want to write something uplifting, it can’thave sadness or grief or loss in it, but the fact is, the best happyfilms chronicle a character’s struggle to overcome obstacles, and noone ever talks about seeing a film with a “happy beginning,” it’salways about the ending, the “happy ending,” like, say, PURSUIT OFHAPPYNESS, or a film like ANNA, with a “tragic ending.” But they allbegin with something difficult, both an emotional and a situationalstruggle that the protagonist finds herself in. And if you can’t learnto convey and evoke that struggle, no one’s going to relate, no one’sgoing to stick around for the ending, whether it’s happy or not. It’salways about the deep voice and the transformation line. The beststories are stories that you know deeply in your own heart, and thatmeans you have to be willing to acknowledge the truth about the humancondition, that we’ve all struggled through both emotional andsituational difficulty, and it’s how we come through that canshape the dramatic structure of whatever we write about. Readers andaudience can smell the fake, the so-called “good-writing” that is allabout writing and nothing about truth, human truth. Somehow, inschool, your teachers admonished you against writing about yourself,about using the infamous “I” and about the fact that if you’re a realwriter you make stuff up, when in fact, most great writing is about”I” and is about what the author has experienced. And when it is madeup, what is not made up is the inner emotional truth, which the authorhas most likely experienced. I may be writing about someone else, butI sure as hell know what it feels like to have your heart broken inlove. If I can’t bring that truth to myself as a writer, how the hellam I going to bring it to my character? But so many of us continue tofeel self-conscious about writing about the self, or using the truthof the self to create our stories and our characters, because some 8thgrade teacher chided us about using the dreaded “I” word, anddiscouraged us from writing about ourselves, as if, when all is saidand done, we are ever writing about anything else.My favorite cartoon is the young woman curled up on the couch writinga letter on a notepad. The caption reads: “Dear Mom and Dad, Thanks for thehappy childhood. You’ve destroyed any chance I had of becoming awriter.” The joke, of course, is that no one has had a happychildhood. Just some of us had childhoods happier than others, but allchildhoods are filled with heartbreak and struggle and sadness andloss. As parents, we try to shield our kids from that, but it’s notpossible. Whether we like it or not, they will grow up with all thetools necessary to become writers, to become artists, provided we’vetaught them to be willing to accept the losses and the griefs, tolearn to look inward and bring those truths out of themselves in theprocess of making art. And if by some chance our parents didn’t teachus that, then we had better learn to do it ourselves, or whatever itis we will write might please our 8th grade teacher, but it will notsell a copy to anyone looking to be touched by art.Hope you’re having a good holiday, and here’s to a wonderful,creative, fulfilling new year.jack

Esther Bradley-DeTally

Why do I Write

Like now when the dishes sit orphaned in the kitchen sink because its washer is out here typing, sharing, breathing, living, putting off the inevitable, because once a long time ago, I was so hurt, I couldn’t breathe, and I carried that intake of hurt with me forever, until I found out that sensitivity is the price and the prize for being able to write, for being able to read people, to Braille the unsaid about them, to correspond with a prisoner, falsely imprisoned for defending herself against her stepfather rapist, and have her say, she liked a phrase I wrote, “The language of God is a tear running down someone’s cheek.”

I write because I read, insatiably, gobbling, inhaling, filling myself with the human condition, splat on the floor some days, like a big old squishy bug, flattened, dead, its body swept up by old straws on a broom; and then I write to show the magic of St. Theresa’s Snow Queen Altar when I was young, and how everything looked like a fairy cake or wedding cake, and then I write to tell how when I was younger, and so needy I could have impaled myself on a stake wide and big, sort of like a meta-letter holder, except the stake would run through my insatiably needy heart, and a note on my back would read “loves too much,” and that was before the book Women Who Love Too Much.

I write because I have gone beyond Medieval Posts puncturing my despair and loneliness and have decided Men Who Love too Much is here too; we all love too much, and I write because none of us love too much, but we are told by images in advertising, that we should be thin, jaded in the eyes, like the look of models for Vogue or whatever, who probably could shoot up heroin on their lunch hours, and because despair is trendy and nihilism and materialism and not giving a damn might be the language of the hour for some, but then there is the lonely, little, big, young, old, trembling, brassy, you-catch-my-drift writer who writes because he or she must, and words have a visceral effect upon her, him, the dog, the surrounding room, hopes for the world, and a good ham sandwich or description thereof on a sour dough roll, with slabs of mayo, and a bed of lettuce, and curled pink ham, ready to go into someone’s mouth which is opened to the size of half a ladder, is a good thing, a good description.

What this nation needs is a good ham sandwich and a Pepsi without the aspertame and some down to honest to goodness honesty that is the natural condition to communicate, to be real, to be afraid of bugs in knotty pine walls when the walls come alive at night; to watch an elderly blind woman, clutch the corners of her walker, take a breath and remain a sweet sweet spirit, knowing that her condition, her tests are of the divinely calibrated kind, even though trucks have run over her emotionally, and I write to tell of the anonymous amongst us, the bravery, the small acts of courage, kindness in this nation where the world is narcissistically checking its derriere in the mirror, and no one or precious few are listening to the “midnight sighing of the poor,” and where we must have immense courage and speak up; talk, yeah, walk the talk, be it; speak up; tell future generations who we were, wanted to be, became anyhow and our hopes for the future; because someday we will all be sensitive, spiritually inclined, aware of our oneness, and otherness will go on a back shelf like Twinkies, no longer approved of by the American Heart Association, and writing will be celebrated by hoots and hollers and a piping or two from a medieval horn or Siberian throat, and the arts will have a way of grabbing our soul’s innards and carrying us through the day. These are some of the reasons I write, but there are others, but today is Wednesday and those are my Wednesday’s writing reasons.

Wanted to share as it all looks interesting!


For Writers and Teachers

Compiled by
JoEllen Moldoff
(updated: 10-07-06)

”your unconscious is laying plans that you know nothing of. That’s part of what it’s like to be a writer.” Susan Shaughnessy

“Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air.”
Carl Sandburg

language arts & Writing Resources
A Celebration of Women Writers
Bard’s Ink : Writing Prompts
Bartletts Quotations & Resources
Blue and Ude Editing and Writing Services
English 88, Modern & Contemporary American Poetry
New York Times Writers on Writing
Merriam Webster Online
Modern American Poetry
Online language translator
Poetry Foundation
Poetry Power Links
Poetry Express
Sheila Bender’s Site- tips, links and resources on writing
The Alpha Dictionary Site (
The Library of America
The Poetry Archive
The Online Books Page (includes link to Anagram Server)
Writers Write http://www.Writing.Com/
Writing It Real, Sheila Bender’s online writing magazine,

Association of Writers and Writing Programs
Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
Dialogue Through Poetry
Faulkner House
Field’s End, A Writers Organization on Bainbridge Island
Favorite Poem Project
Fishtrap (Writers Workshops & Activities)
International Women’s Writing Guild
Lannan Foundation
Literary Arts, Portland, Oregon
Lopez Writers’ Guild
Modern Language Association
Montalvo Arts Center
National Endowment for the Arts
New York Foundation for the Arts
Northwest Writing Institute
Poets and Writers
Pacific Northwest Writers Association
Richard Hugo House
Seattle Arts and Lectures
Skagit River Poetry Festival
Squaw Valley Community of Writers
Story Circle Network
The Academy of American Poets
The Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives
The Poetry Society of America
The National Association for Poetry Therapy
Washington Poets Association (WPA)
WESTAF: Western States Arts Federation
Whidbey Island Writers Association
Wisdom Circles

Publishers & Publications: online & print
Alaska Quarterly Review
Arts and Letters Daily
Arts Journal: Daily Arts News
Bellingham Review
Copper Canyon Press
Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
Electronic Poetry Center
Harper Collins
Milkweed Editions
Norton Poets Online
Oberlin College Press
Poetry 180
Poetry Daily
Poetry Magazine
Random House
The American Poetry Review
The Atlantic Monthly Online
The Borzoi Reader – poetry
The Borzoi Reader – fiction
The Internet Poetry Archive
The Threepenny Review
The Writers’ Almanac
University of Chicago Press online
Verse Daily
Words Without Borders, the online magazine for international literature
Writers’ Digest
Writers’ Net
Writers’ Write- The Internet Writers’ Journal

Educational resources
Academic Information
Access Washington-Education and Learning
American Library Association: Great Web Sites for Kids
Great Educational Sites (hundreds of links for teachers, writers, parents)
Kalliope Poetry Writers Exercise Workshop and Resources
Library of Congress
How To Teach Poetry, a program of the Academy of American Poets
Librarians Index to the Internet
Library in the Sky
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
National Public Radio
Norton Anthology of English Literature, Norton Topics Online
Orcas Island Library
Poetry Class
Poetry for Kids
Teachers and Writers Collaborative
The NY Times Learning Network
University of Richmond Writing Center & Writing Across the Curriculum

I just buffed this piece, written a year ago; still relevant and holding, Oh Lord, be still my heart-esther
Point of View
Get this, you can look thin. Forget all about that hogwash of dieting, food plan, thinking yourself thin, eating rooted tarrow weed, boiling gargoyles in your kitchen on the night of a full moon; or eating the worms in the garden before the sun emerges over its rosy neighborhood, or cooking aubades for that matter; now get this, there’s a good one; and you too can be thin; and I think, I too can be thin. I look at my wrists, which have expanded since I’ve been a 4-pound baby; matter of fact, if I’m lying I’m dying, I was a four pounder, and get this, if I’m lying, I’m dying, I am 4 pounds cubed or undehydrated to the Einstein theory of relatively to the max, but if
I’m lying, I’m dying, my wrists are still thin.
So there is a simple explanation for why I feel pencil thin in my new expanded billowing by the hips, caught-in the wind-gossamer
black pants, and reasonably fitted wide waist; too wide to fit a Scarlett O-Hara waist. and wide enough for a beer truck but not as
wide as a bread truck parked at Peets Coffee.Are you with me? Are you listening? Heavy women of the world unite, because I have a new idea. I am always thin if I look at my wrists, and I am sorry God. Forgive me for living in California, make that Los Angeles. I am not thin in other parts of my body. Are you with me?

Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, bless me father for I have sinned. I have eaten, last night after I resolved to eat only oatmeal and apples
and vegetables of the cruciferous kind, crunchy on the tongue, the palate, I ate a beguiling, smooth, small, come and get me, violate
me in the vilest way possible, white cake, trembling under the florescent lights, lined up in serried rank with all the other
little cakes. This little cake, are you with me, this little cake, whom I immediately bonded with and became best friends, let’s call
her Cuppy, well, Cuppy said to me, “Come, let us be one, pick me, pick me, let me slide down your throat, go by your epiglottal stops,
let’s stop your epiglottal ways and come with me, and that’s when the song, “Come with me, come with me,” overcame me and I knew I
would no longer have thin wrists, because can you get this, Cuppy and I became one, a sybaritic experience, and now, instead of food
plans, meetings; mea culpa banged upon my breasts which until I expanded I called chest, now, now, now, I will put long floor t
ceiling mirrors at a tilt, and gaze at my rolling hills of a body, and get this, I will awaken and throw my long legs into the air, and
in the widened room, they look thin and tall, oh so thin and tall.

God, I am ready to live in California, silhouette thin, depending upon your point of view, and God, I’m off for the day to find
another Cuppy. Let us rejoice for the Cuppies of the world.

Thinking of calling this “Before the golden Age”

Esther Bradley-DeTally

Elizabeth Vargas bids goodbye from the news
Wait How is Peter Jennings?
Now I know
Of his kind heart, his last days
His frailty-but what of his regrets
About those last cigarettes?
Nine eleven – my fingers
Probe memory’s silt
Braille the reality of those days
Find terror’s dullard cousin Disbelief

Our earth stood still on nine eleven.
Together in cylindrical need
We lurched towards one another
A oneness prayer
No words or syllables or sounds
United, until the politicians
Like Crows form New Jersey,
Fat cigars hanging from their mouths
Carped, scavenged and hawked
Their way up ladders of
Avarice and greed.
“The necks of men are stretched out in malice,”*
Crows cavorted long back halls
Of politically elite and Power’s salacious divide.
Language used for Dark reptilian thoughts
Separate, the enemy, the other

The Crows, did I say crows?
I meant Boys, Boys at play
Like Gargoyles in a game
Crocodiles shopping for dental twine.>

*Baha’i Writings

Esther Bradley-DeTally 10/25/06

Why do I Write

Like now when the dishes sit orphaned in the kitchen sink because its washer is out here typing, sharing, breathing, living, putting off the inevitable, because once a long time ago, I was so hurt, I couldn’t breathe, and I carried that intake of hurt with me forever, until I found out that sensitivity is the price and the prize for being able to write, for being able to read people, to Braille the unsaid about them, to have a prisoner falsely imprisoned for defending herself against her stepfather rapist, say, she liked a phrase I wrote, “The language of God is a tear running down someone’s cheek.”

I write because I read, insatiably, gobbling, inhaling, filling myself with the human condition; splat on the floor some days, like a big old squishy bug, flattened, dead, its body swept up by old straws on a broom; and then I write to show the magic of St. Theresa’s Snow Queen Altar when I was young, and how everything looked like a fairy cake or wedding cake, and then I write to tell how when I was a young woman, and so needy I could have impaled myself on a stake wide and big, sort of like a meta-letter holder, except the stake would run through my insatiably needy heart, and a note on my back would read “loves too much,” and that was before the book Women Who Love Too Much.

I write because I have gone beyond Medieval Posts puncturing my despair and loneliness and have decided Men Who Love too Much is here too; we all love too much but is it politically correct to love so hard, and yet tension of the opposites, I write becauseat times none of us love too much, but we are told by images in advertising, that we should be thin, jaded in the eyes, like the look of models for Vogue or whatever, who probably could shoot up heroin on their lunch hours, and because despair is trendy and nihilism and materialism and not giving a damn might be the language of the hour for some, but then there is the lonely, little, big, young, old, trembling, brassy, you catch my drift writer who writes because he or she must and words have a visceral effect upon her, him, the dog, the surrounding room, hopes for the world, and a good ham sandwich or description thereof on a sour dough roll, with slabs of mayo, and a bed of lettuce, and curled pink ham, ready to go into someone’s mouth which is opened to the size of half a ladder, is a good thing, a good description.

What this nation needs is a good ham sandwich and a Pepsi without the aspartame and some down to honest to goodness honesty that is the natural condition to communicate, to be real, to be afraid of bugs in knotty pine walls when the walls come alive at night; to watch an elderly blind woman, clutch the corners of her walker, take a breath and remain a sweet sweet spirit, knowing that her condition, her tests are of the divinely calibrated kind, even though trucks have run over her emotionally, and I write to tell of the anonymous amongst us, the bravery, the small acts of courage, kindness in this nation where the world is narcissistically checking its derriere in the mirror, and no one or precious few are listening to the “midnight sighing of the poor,” and where we must have immense courage and speak up; talk, yeah, walk the talk, be it; speak up; tell future generations who we were, wanted to be, became anyhow and our hopes for the future; because someday we will all be sensitive, spiritually inclined, aware of our oneness and otherness will go on a back shelf like Twinkies, no longer approved of by the American Heart Association, and writing will be celebrated by hoots and hollers and a piping or two from a medieval horn or Siberian throat, and the arts will have a way of grabbing our soul’s innards and carrying us through the day. These are some of the reasons I write, but there are others, but today is Wednesday and those are my Wednesday’s writing reasons.

Road Kill -ESTHER wrote this a year or so ago

Visualize the earth from that first soul-gasping view of outer space. See its perfect roundness; large, solid, resplendent in this first virginal glimpse. A planet before it goes to dancing school; adolescent, self-conscious, thinking only it exists. Imagine the earth’s surprise; did I say the Earth’s surprise? Imagine you, the observer’s surprise, as your eyes widen, your corrugated inner views fall away like old siding: we are not the only ones.

Visualize, if you will, a full moon, illuminating this gut-soothingly yours planet. Wait, blocks appear to be circumambulating the earth’s rim. Like gargantuan sow bugs in deliberate plod, they move. Your eyes narrow, as these steel carriers, like expanded versions of high school lockers move; in a relentless grind, gouging the planet’s surface. They grunt and suck as you stand riveted.

Visualize silhouettes which you now recognize as Humvees. Another light appears, like a distant point, the size of an eraser on a pencil, building in intensity. This light folds over the Humvees, casts a splash of light on to the Earth’s inky blue covering. Then the light hovers, wiggles, and finally stills. A hot revulsion fills you as the light reveals a place, a city, a twisted, rotted, bombed out, dusty, carcasses-on-the- street, children crying without limbs, homes, parents city. Baghdad. The light reveals Baghdad. You witness unimaginable horror. You awaken.

Hi, am back from 10 days at Kaiser Hospital; cut to the quick, it means, mechanical valve has quirks, all controllable by meds, and also, that the knowledge, service and love given by doctors, staff and all and my friends and cronies, too numerous to mention, incredible. Also met some soul stirring people; am home, weak, but happy.

Below is stuff sent to me by the writing teacher I revere, Jack Grapes

“Collective Writers of the Method Tango:

Sorry I’m a little late getting out the Fall schedule.
I’ll do the info part first, and the boring stuff last, since most people
I’ve found don’t read emails past the 5th line.
Oooooooops! this is the 5th line.

Well, if you’re not interested in the Fall Schedule for Advanced Class
Tango, you can stop reading now.
But For those of you who have persevered to this point, here’s the
schedule for the Fall.

Regular Beginning Deep Voice Method Writing Class starts Tuesday Sept 26th.
This class is full (maybe I could squeeze one more in).
If you were going to mention it to a friend, now’s the time.


Wednesday Morning Roundup begins October 4th, 9 am to 12 noon.
(two spots left)

Wednesday Late Afternoon/Evening Big Bang Singularity begins October
4th, starting at 4pm and going until the cows come home. Come anytime,
leave anytime, check guns at the door. This class is full. Sorry.

Thursday Afternoon 1pm to 4pm Juggular Syncopation starts October 5th.

Thursday Afternoon 4pm to 7pm Alligator Cummerbund starts Octber 5th.

Monday Night class starts October 9th, 5pm to 10pm. Same drill as
Wednesday evening, come anytime, leave anytime, check guns at the
door. Only one spot left in this class.

What about the Editing classes. These are not
process classes. No exercises. You bring work in a week ahead of time, and the class
has a week to read it and make red marks all over it and discuss it in
class the following week, with the goal being to make the specific
poem or piece of prose polished and ready to be published.

There’s only one spot left in the Monday
afternoon editing class which starts Oct 2nd, 3pm to 5pm.

There’s only one opening left in the Thursday Night Editing Class
which starts October 5th, Thursday evening, 7pm to 10pm.

Okay, that’s it. You can stop reading now.
I have to go boxing.
An ex-professional boxer beats me up for 5 rounds.
It’s the most fun I’ve had since Brenda Goldfarb kissed me in biology
lab while we were dissecting a frog.
Anyone want to join me sometime? It’s fun.
You put on the gloves, step into the ring, and kill your mother,
or your father, or both. Who needs therapy when the sweet science

Hope you’ve had a great summer and have geared up for the stretch run
to the holidays and beyond. I’m reading a book on the History of
Language, but it’s written in an ancient tongue so I can’t understand
a word of it. Also reading several books about the Thirty Years War
(including Wedgewood’s classic account), which–you guessed it!–lasted
more than thirty years. Hollywood is older than you thought. I have a
picture in my mind of a bunch of Austrian/German/French/Spanish/Danish
generals (the war had numerous combatants all over Europe)
sitting around in 1652 after the last battle saying, “Vel, ve can’t call it
the Thirty-Four Years Var, it von’t zell!” 1618 to 1648, just in case
you’re interested. Peace of Westphalia sent everyone packing. If
anyone ever asks you what was the Defenestration of Prague, the answer
is, that was when they threw the guy out the window, starting the
Thirty Years War, which really lasted 34 years. It was
the last war fought for religious reasons. After that, it was all
about nations fighting each other, not religions. Seems like we’re
coming full circle, though. As we are wont, to recall Santayana’s
famous dictum, to do. (“Those who forget history are doomed to repeat

I’m also reading Richard Jones’ latest book of poetry. It’s exquisite.
APROPOS OF NOTHING. You can get it from Copper Canyon Press. I’m
swooning, it’s so good.

I’m also struggling to read Albert Camus’ THE STRANGER in French.
Bears no relationship to Billy Joel’s song “The Stranger.” There are
paragraphs in there that are pure poetry. But you know, you can find
poetry anywhere, even in a recipe for chicken soup. So Melville starts
Moby Dick with “Call me Ishmael.” Three unforgettable words. POetry.
For me, the greatest lines of poetry
are pretty simple, no more than three words. How’s this for a line of
poetry, no more than three words:
I’m reading a recipe for chicken soup that was published in a book that’s
about 100 years old. It’s an old Jewish recipe book. The first line of
the recipe is this:

“Get a chicken.”

I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard in a long time.

After a long bout of laughter, I knew I’d read something profound, if
you really think about it. We all have our recipes for what we want to
do, the book we want to write, the poem we want to make, the symphony
we want to compose. We all forget the first thing. We’re so intent on
doing it sometimes, that we forgot the most important thing of all.

Get a chicken.

So here’s much love and best wishes I’m sending to you today, a
Sunday morning in September, clear skies, crisp light, zippy-de-do-da
leaves detaching themselves from tree brances with delectable daring-do.
A September morning in which my son Josh is practicing Rachmaninoff’s
“Prélude in C Sharp Minor, Op. 3, No.2” in the living room. A September
morning when my dog sits at my feet here by the computer, dreaming of
chasing other dogs over the green hills of South Carolina. Me? I gotta
get back to work on my book on Method Writing. And my other book on
the history of modern poetries that nobody’s gonna read (who the hell
is going to read a 1400 page book on the history of modern poetries
from Homer to the present day? but I’m in love with the writing of it,
so I press on). Me? I gotta get a chicken.

All best,