There are only three colors, ten digits and seven notes; it’s what we do with them that’s important.  

                                                     -Ruth Ross, New Zealand

Ruth Ross and her elder brother spent most of their free time in the country with their father. They hung around while he drafted sheep, slid down hills on cabbage-tree tops, and swung over bush creeks on supplejack.

Ross grew up to be a brilliant individual and passionate researcher. Her knowledge of early Northland history was encyclopedic and her meticulous research is considered invaluable.

She did important work with twenty-six letters.  The Ruth Ross Manuscript Collection is housed at the Auckland Institute and Museum.

The poets taking part in the November Poem a Day Challenge are using those same letters. And it’s something to tweet about. Robert Lee Brewer is doing just that.  http://twitter.com/#!/robertleebrewer


He’s a ” Father. Poet. Editor. Occasional slap happy smack talker.” And blogger. It’s here on Brewer’s blog where we’re having crackling good fun with the alphabet.

Day 12, PAD is still going strong, so post here or there or anywhere. Write a poem about excess. 177 comments so far today, high-wattage stuff.




To me, pixels are to photos what letters are to words. I don’t really know anything about pixels, except that digital images are composed of them. In your photo editor program, zoom an image to about 500% size on the screen, and you will see the pixels. It’s like lots of tile chips that create a mosaic. From a distance, you don’t see each individual tile. Your brain sees the overall picture.

Photoblogger Deby Dixon makes magic happen.  It’s the three colors-ten-digits-seven-notes concept, only with pixels. I took pictures in Zion National Park but none as striking as hers. She tells a story with each image. I’d love to share them with you ~ here’s a front row seat.


Words, photos, and adventures  ~ Am I jellz!

Toni 11/11/11




In “The Lanyard,” Billy Collins writes about an everyday object he made as a child—a boxy, red-and-white lanyard—to explore a timeless question: Can you ever repay the debt you owe to your parents?

The Lanyard ~ a juxtaposition of the mundane and the profound.

It’s moving.     It’s funny.     It’s lump-in-the-throat perfect.



Missed this at summer camp? It’s knot too late. Your mom will ♥ it!



Toni 5/8/11


If poetry isn’t basic, then what is?  We turn to poetry again and again.  At memorial services, funerals, weddings, showers, christenings, graduations, at any event that marks an essential life passage.  We turn to a poem to express loss, hurt, change, joy.  And there is no more perfect instrument for a poem than the human voice.  We soak and float in the sounds that poetry makes.

An ancient Kenyan proverb says, Talking with one another is loving one another. When Aunt Toby died, we gathered to share stories and remember the wise and graceful woman who touched us all.  She lived an ordinary life, one set off-course by sickness and loss, but enriched by good fortune and abiding love. Her granddaughter read a poem at the service, one that Aunt Toby tacked on her kitchen wall in the little house on Apple Street.  A poem of unassuming wisdom and grace. It now hangs on ours.


Max Ehrmann is the author of Desiderata (Latin: things desired as essential). He earned a degree in Philosophy from Harvard University, then returned to his hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana to practice law. Eventually this led him to work in his family’s meatpacking business and in the overalls manufacturing industry. Finally at the age of 41, Ehrmann decided to become a writer. At the age of 55 he wrote Desiderata, which achieved fame only after his death.

Poetry is “life distilled”, as Gwendolyn Brooks said.  It is also language and experience distilled.  Poems tells us something about a way to live in the world.  Even the ones that make us laugh out loud.



Over the course of a few minutes, a poem gives us insights into our lives
that last throughout a lifetime.  I know.  I read Aunt Toby’s wall.

Toni 4/28/11