WordPress editor Ben H says, “When I let my brain loose, allowing it to absorb what’s around me without trying to process anything in particular, what it often detects is choreography — unmistakable dance moves, often in unexpected places.”



Sandhill cranes are long-legged, long-necked heron-like birds with a patch of bald red skin on top of their head.  Their bugling/rattling call is a make-a-joyful-noise hullabaloo. I heard them the other day on the golf course. “KAR-R-R-R-R-R-ROO!”  Wake-the-dead amazing.

These prehistoric birds are anything but bashful. They move as slow as molasses in January, even when crossing the road.

I think we need more of these.
I think we need more of these.


Mated pairs and extended families hang out in neighborhoods and parks.



As I watch from the fairway, the male fluffs out his wings, pumps his head, and jumps up and down.  Tail feathers shake. The nearby female? She acts indifferent, but she won’t ignore that gleeful come-hithering for long.

Sandhill cranes aren’t afraid to dance like no one is watching.


Toni 3/21/16

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.*

We writers are a curious bunch. Curious about the world. Curious about other people. Curious to hear their stories.

A sense of curiosity is nature’s original school of education.

~Smiley Blanton*



Right this minute, I’m curious about African artist Raina Mazwiembiri and her Seedpod Birds.


Her talent is making birds and the seeds they dine on become one.



Mazwiembiri gives the seed pods twisted wire feet, adds putty beaks, and paints the quirky creatures in resplendent colors and patterns.


I just had to know her story.  Seems that Raina’s husband, George, started making seedpod birds to earn extra money.  A few years later, Raina joined him and together they sold their birds at local craft shops and markets. When her husband moved on to other things, Raina took over and now works with two of her daughters.


The seedpods come from the Ulumbu Tree, the star chestnut (Sterculia rogersii). Raina and her daughters travel seven hours to the Bulawayo area to pick them and then travel back home. The trip typically takes three days. (I’ll be googling that, I bet there’s a lot more to it.)


I’ve never heard a boring story or met a boring person. When police question neighbors after a crime occurs, often the reply is he’s always been quiet, comes and goes at the same time every day, hardly see the guy. Sounds like he was a boring person but clearly there is something to discover, a story to uncover.


I’m loving the Owen Canfield holiday stories.  He’s a local man-about-town who writes short pieces about a bike hike or a falling tree, Velveeta cheese or potato pancakes. Trivial items, maybe, but not trivial topics. Everything has meaning, doesn’t it?


Every Christmas I reread the stories, poems, and essays in Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book. (It was new in 1977. It’s still new to me every year. Aren’t I lucky?)


It’s one plum pudding of a book. 200 pages of literary love.  Ogden Nash, Laura Ingalls Wilder, O. Henry, Charles Dickens, Taylor Caldwell, Louisa May Alcott, Langston Hughes,Christopher Morely, Robert Frost,W.H.Auden, Booth Tarkington, Mark Twain, John Milton, William Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, and of course, Clement Clark Moore ~to name a few~ release small miracles on every page illustrated by Norman Rockwell.



The book even includes Fannie Farmer’s Menu from 1896 with recipes.

Roast goose with potato stuffing? Consider this:  you need to singe, remove pinfeathers, wash and scrub with hot soapsuds, draw, wash, stuff, and truss before it hits the oven and maybe comes out looking like this.



Rockwell’s Christmas book is happiness for a crystal-cold night. Serve with a hearty Cab and a couple of crooners.

*Curious about Smiley Blanton?  Me, too.

Toni 12/14/15

*Header quote by Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist

In Praise of My Hermit Thrush: A poem by Veronica, otherwise known by the birders (and WWWW, as Ronnie). Move over James Audubon.


(sketch by Patty who in trying to lead the wide-awake life found herself inspired by this poem by Ronnie, fellow birder.)

In Praise of My Hermit Thrush

You scratch and peck below that scrubby bush.

Busy squirrels ignore your presence.

Their focus is on acorns; lunch for the cold winter months.

You’ve got my attention.

My brain ticks off your features:

brown above with snowy breast,

glitzed with black polka dots at the throat.

And there’s the telltale rufous- colored tail

ready to bob just like my trusty bird book says.

Those dark hazel eyes stare and

I stare back; I can’t believe you’re here.

Poets write of the sweetness of your song

that rises in the still of twilight time.

I know that you won’t sing for me today.

That’s too much to ask.

Your lowered tail announces your good bye.

I’ll miss you, my sweet little anchorite.

Thanks for showing up at my backyard door.

VRS   1-18-2013

The Hermit Thrushes we saw this week were Just Sitting and doing that genteel tail bob. (Erase all the green and replace it with white and the picture is very accurate…!) http://youtu.be/jHXYkLBSYBA

In the Spring we hear the Hermit Thrush and the Veery in our back woods exactly as it’s pictured here in this youTube. (Hurrah for youTube!!) http://youtu.be/v67gqSHb9N0

And he’s a better musician than many of us!! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/03/bird-song-music-hermit-thrush_n_6091478.html