Two Pileated Woodpeckers

Two pileated woodpeckers chip away on a dead fir.  Where I stand
it is raining bits and pieces of the old tree as long sharp beaks
hammer with precise repetition in the solitude of the forest.
These two with their red-crested heads continue the hard knocks and
go on to climb higher, the noise of beaks and feet and falling
wood chips still heard in the distance as I go on towards Gazzam Lake.

Two Pileated Woodpeckers

Creperie Ty Couz

In a village outside of Pont Aven we are greeted at the creperie
by the family Valmes. Mother and father, sister and her husband,
their daughter and her husband Faberce, and Danielle and Fabion.
It is a surprise to see all of the family together.

The mother and father do not speak English. The brother-in-law
is retired Royal Navy officer and he has been to New York, Los
Angeles and New Orleans. He knows some English. We talk using a
small dictionary Francais Anglais English French. He shows me
his hand that once held a lance in a war in North Africa.

I want to know more of this French war he speaks of but I do not
know the language and the little dictionary we hold will not contain
all the words needed to talk of wars and ships, the economy of
governments or imperialism in Africa.

Monsieur of Brest sits next to me eating his crepes with lanced
hands holding the knife and fork. He shows me how to eat the crepe
and recommends the saucisson campagne, the sausage of the farmer who
makes it in the countryside. He translates the phrase as sausage
of the farmer. I look to the book for a word to word translation
sausage of the countryside. With his healed hands he demonstrates
the act of the farmer stuffing sausage. We drink the cider that was
also made by a farmer from this countryside.

Here the daughter of Angeles carries on the traditional business
of her mother as her mother before her did. The batter is poured
on large flat heated plates and spread with long spatula in a circular
motion until it is amazingly thin. At just the right time it is
flipped and the egg, if an agg was ordered “crepes oeuf”, is opened
over the crepe and the egg falls in the middle. The white is spread
over the crepe until it too is very thin and the heat permeates the
crepe and cooks the egg. Cheese is sprinkled over it and then folded
from all four corners. Served fresh from this woman of the countryside.

Creperie Ty Couz



Learn to take metal, this time copper, texture the surface with heat and

design.  A simple beginner project to cut your initial out of the piece with

a jeweler’s saw.  My J not a plain J, a big  J with curves and a slant to the side.

The edge most be filed and made smooth.  My mind is in trance from this

method.   I keep filing until I almost cut myself.  What a surprise to create

a weapon instead of jewelry.  I ask the teacher, “What came first, jewelry

or the sword?”


Bridge in Alabama


Short drive ahead to the bridge in Alabama.  Structurely sound destination after all morning at the museum in Montgomery.  State flag criss cross in red paint, the hands of children.

A group of students move quickly through the displays, the guide stopping for a moment at the cotton gin.  In the next room a KKK robe complete with hoodie.  

Follow that cotton trail down to the market square, dressed in cotton shorts and tops, to profit from the unknown.  Slaves were traded here under a necklace of lock and key.

On the other side of the street is the state capital building.  One block to the south, the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where plans were made.

Where others walked not so long ago, we drive the Freedom Trail, and finish where they started, the Edmund Pettus Bridge, named for a Confederate General and KKK Red Dragon.

On a building wall situated in the middle of town is a huge sign “Honor the past.  Build the future.”  Forgive the past and know that there are many dishonorable events.

Bridge in Alabama

Job No More

My last day of work was Wednesday.  I am saying farewell to  twenty eight years of coaching.  Next to nothing compared to life. Always telling people what to do. Now the real life begins. Farewell to the people was not easy. Some said goodbye to me and some did not. No tears, just smiles and recognition. Will I recognize you later on the streets, riding the ferry, or in a pool?

Job No More

Walking with Greg to the Bridge on Lightning Lake

After breakfast I want to show Greg the lake.  It is late in the morning.  More people have put in boats.  The sun is on the lake where we stand to decide our day.  We can walk the loop around Lightning Lake.  No, that will be in the shadow, Greg wants to be in the sunlight.  Let’s go this way I say, we can go to the bridge.  Not if its in the shadow, Greg says.

Along the trail there are patches of shade, there is grumbling along the way.  We go beyond Rainbow Bridge where there are spots of sun.  Greg wants only to be in the sun.  He stops by a boulder on the shore and falls asleep.  I walk further watching the shore and Greg, then turn back to join him.  Around his boulder are plants, small seeds of sedge and lupine, and tiny birds that come to eat.

Suddenly there is a piercing sound almost like a coyote in the distance.  It fills the woods with its call, startling me from my study of flora and fauna.  It collapses back into silence.  There it is again, this time the mind memory of the loon, the unforgettable voice of the loon.  Across the lake it glides along the water, stretches its neck to call again.

hear the sound of a loon

that calls to its mate

waking the dawn

Lightning Lake is in the E.C. Manning Provincial Park in British Columbia.

Walking with Greg to the Bridge on Lightning Lake

A Garden or Not

It is fun planting a garden in Texas. Then the rains come and wash it away and what was a line is scattered about.  See the little sprouts making their way especially the beet sprouts which are gone the next day. Keep the deer away, the slugs and raccoons, all the other garden predators that will be coming here soon. The garden was planted, I had taken great care to aline all the rows so I can watch it grow, or not.


NaPoWriMo prompt to write a story and run it backwards. Either way I have trouble gardening in Texas.

A Garden or Not

Cold Case

by Briar Pipe, Sherlock Holmes’s pipe

I, the briar pipe of Sherlock Holmes, was made from briarwood

a wood most difficult to burn.  Revealed on all surfaces were the

ornate carvings of a London street scene, Thames Street, to be

exact, on the stem of one side from Blackfriars Theatre, follow-

ing  along brick and mortar,  the London Bridge wrapping around

my bowl, and spanning the length on the other side the

River Thames, with Shakespeare’s Globe a large speck on the


It was difficult to refuse any of Sherlock Holmes’s requests so I

allowed myself to be smoked repeatedly.  On one occasion his

friend Watson could hardly breathe in the room.  Holmes could

smoke all night “lost in tobacco and thought” and frequently

smoke three bowls in a matter of fifty minutes.

From my place between his lips when he stood it was near six

feet in the air.  My close proximity gave witness to sharp

piercing eyes, a prominent chin, curved and hooked nose,

and at times a flush of color on his pale cheeks.  Sometimes his

eyelids drooped as though he were asleep.

When not perched between his lips, my place was in the left

side pocket of his tweed suit coat.  As was the fashion of the day,

both pockets were huge with the right pocket holding

his pistol.  Accompanying me, so as to leave the pistol un-

encumbered, were a tobacco box containing the strongest

black shag tobacco, a book of matches, tape measure and

a large round magnifying glass.  When the matches were not to

be found he would light up using tongs to hold a glowing ember

from the fire, “the blue smoke curling up from him”.

There were incidents where I hardly recognized him at all as he

was a master of disguise and would put aside his overcoat, ear-flapped

cap and riding-crop cane to become a priest, beggar or


Before the year 1900 the smoking stopped.  Some suspected

it was his enemies with whom he met his demise.  The case is still

open.  I like to think he is sitting “silent, motionless, with the

light shining upon his strong aquiline features.”

Cold Case

The Family Portrait


The old frame that holds the family portrait is removed,

separating it from this photograph of another time, another place.

The place is Red Rocks National Park in Colorado.    The family sits

blended into rock landscape for that single instance of togetherness

that we can never repeat.  I search for a smile, or a half frown on any

of the faces.  I,  a new mother,  in full smile, hold my first born Anna

with my hand held firmly over her heart.  Two blonde sisters’ dimpled

smiles are framed by a huge red boulder.  The men are outnumbered.

My father,  last to bare his name,  is big and on the edge,  like in life.

His mother stands close to him and between dad and mom, symbolic

of many a rocky marriage.       All three, mother  father  grandmother,

are dressed in beige and seem to fade into the earth’s bright colors.

Now they are gone.  The husbands are bearded and beautiful.

The children sit, knowing and vague.



Family portrait taken in the winter of 1980, poem written in 1989 and

revised for the NaPoWriMo prompt of 2016.



The Family Portrait