New Year’s Day was a birthday for my second born and a smorgasbord for the relatives. Pickled herring, cheeses and pressgurkin, gravlax, pate, pepparrot, Janssons frestelse, kuttbullar, sometimes lutefisk, bruna bonor, appelflask, oxrelader.

Akvavit poured in just the right amount. How we linked arms and shouted “skol”. I can still hear my mother-in-law’s voice, “That will warm the cockles of your heart.”

midwinter hoarfrost

crispy sharp on old flowers

cold stabs in the mind


dVerse haibun prompt on New Year memory. Forgive my Swedish spelling.



crucial to finding the way is this there is no beginning or end only a lingering in the middle caught in the middle of nothing and nothing with no end marks and capital letters no space whiteness on a paper where a word isn’t and silence takes over just a blob of words on a page of middleness


dVerse prompt on prosy using Jo Harjo’s line Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end. combined exercise with Ursula K. Lê Guin’s Steering the Craft Exercise 2 to write with no punctuation


When Far Away

A haloed sun and an eagle flying over, just two signs she thought, as the parked car beeped with the opening of the lock. She didn’t get in but stood there looking at the sky, the signs she was sure were a prophetic vision of what God was doing in her life. I’m going for greater heights, bigger skies, with a sun more radiant she thought, as she slipped into the driver’s seat. There is nothing ordinary about me. I am extraordinary. I will do extraordinary things.
When far away an interrupted cry of the eagle. The car alarm sounded like a freight train crossing into her imaginations and realities. What the hell?  She fumbles with the keys and finds the red alarm button. New silence. In the distance the sound of the eagle.

dVerse prompt to write prosery and must use “when far away an interrupted cry”

When Far Away

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

Houston Soil

Once again I will work the clay ridden soil in the backyard of Houston. Why not? Fresh beans, a bag of lettuce and fifty peppers! The clay sticks to the hoe and the soil gets hard and cracks. Now it is wet with a night of rain and I can break it up, spread it around, add green sand and a bag of organics. Toss out the weeds, put in the seed and hope for the best. It is suppose to rain all week. Keep the ground soft and moist. Then the sun will come and be too hot. I will have to water and hoe again and protect the new seedlings if there are any at all. Visions of food make me eager and dedicated to a small plot of soil in Houston.

Houston Soil

Mother’s Maiden Name


Swanstrom was my mother’s maiden name.  Looking back into her childhood of old photos, memories from her stories, and my own remembrance, I know a few things. Her father was a carpenter and built the family house in Iowa Falls, down the street from the swinging bridge over the Iowa River. As a child she played there when the bridge would still swing. People would drown in that river. My mother learned to swim and how to be a junior lifeguard and a Girl Scout. She could name the wildflowers and learned to go without during the Great Depression. Her mother, Anna Hill, was a gardener so I like to think that in the summer there were fresh vegetables to eat and her mother made bread. I know because I can still see her in the kitchen kneading the dough on a huge table, the old gas stove hot and ready to take the loaves. There were lots of mouths to feed, a big family of thirteen children, some already gone away, some to Oregon and Texas, or the grave. Vera, my mother, was the youngest girl born between two brothers. I see her old photos of a tomboy, up a tree or doing sports, her doll rarely played with. I like to think that she knew of love and loss because at her burial site a man stood watching in the distance and never said a word.


Mother’s Maiden Name

First Born and Born First


Today is the birthday of my first born. Her dad drew this picture of her sleeping.  She could sleep when sounds were loud or still.  Would sleep through the night and such a good baby.  She would sleep in the big bed with her dad and I or sleep in her own bed and seldom cried.  When she was tired she would sleep and sleep like a baby.

When she was tired she would  sleep and sleep like a baby.  She would sleep in the big bed with her dad and I or sleep in her own bed and seldom cried.  Would sleep through the night and such a good baby.  She could sleep when sounds were loud or still.  Her dad drew this picture of her sleeping.  Today is the birthday of my first born.

last NaPoWriMo prompt to run a poem forward and then backward

First Born and Born First

Old Authors and a New Game

Forty four cards in the deck. There are eleven portraits of authors and each has four titles per author. The game is to try to collect all four titles for each author to make a book. Player with the most books wins. I always wanted to draw the card of Louisa May Alcott the only woman in the deck.

Here’s a new game. Match the quote with the author and the title of the book that the quote came from.

Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?

Words, words, words.

There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.

How that personage haunted my dreams, I need scarcely tell you.

A man without conscience is but a poor creature………

Others may write from the head, but he writes from the heart, and the heart will always understand him.

What other dungeon is so dark as one’s own heart! What jailer so inexorable as one’s self!

For his heart was in his work, and the heart giveth grace unto every art.

God of Jacob! It is the meeting of two fierce tides – the conflict of two oceans moved by adverse winds!

For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.

Henry Longfellow Washington Irving Alfred Tennyson

Nathaniel Hawthorne James Fenimore Cooper Mark Twain

William Shakespeare Sir Walter Scott Louisa May Alcott

Charles Dickens Robert Louis Stevenson

Pathfinder The Legend of Sleepy Hollow The Brook

The House of the Seven Gables Song of Hiawatha Ivanhoe

Treasure Island Little Women Oliver Twist

Tom Sawyer Hamlet

Play the game without googling or binging or anything else. Just use your literary skills. If you match a quote to the correct author you get one point. If you match the quote to the title you get one point. If you get the title to the author you get a point. If you are correct with the quote, the title and the author you get all three points.

33 points You are the champion of the game and not only do you know the authors and the titles but also the literary style, famous line or theme of each writer.

22 to 32 points You really know your old authors even some that seem obscure to most people today.

11 to 21 points You no doubt have knowledge of these authors and can put two and two together on some occasions.

0 to 10 points Time to study up on your dead poets and authors.

Old Authors and a New Game

Dollhouse Family


The posture of the dollhouse mom is alway perfect in a stern upright way with clothes that come out of a catalog. She always wants children and something to do with them when she gets them.  The activities come out of the catalog along with an instruction manual for having fun with your kids.  The dollhouse kids are always busy in the dollhouse doing their chores and planning to surprise the dollhouse dad when he enters the dollhouse after a long day at work and commuting to and from his employment.  His work makes the dollhouse possible and they know it.  The kids work to keep their toys off the floor so that dollhouse dad does not trip and fall, breaking a leg and making it impossible to go to work.  Dollhouse mom loves to make new recipes in the dollhouse kitchen keeping the dollhouse family healthy with the basic food groups.  Dollhouse dad has his liquor bottle hidden somewhere in the dollhouse where the dollhouse mom cannot find it.  Dollhouse mom prefers dollhouse dad to be sober so that the dollhouse can be perfect in every way.

Dollhouse Family