Nancy and Jeanne: Alike . . . But Different


Jeanne hates P.E. and avoids it at all costs.
Nancy boards the bus with a smile.


Jeanne walks into the gym
and finds the nearest corner to hide in.
Nancy walks in, surveys the scene,
then finds herself a comfortable spot along the edge.


Jeanne hates touching the dirty, rough, grimy balls.
Nancy doesn’t mind playing . . . once she’s good and ready.

Jeanne makes sure she stays in at recess when Red Rover or Dodge Ball is played.
Nancy is willing to play Dodge Ball,
but she sees no need to run the bases like they told her to.

Jeanne is your classic over achiever.
But our Nancy? Not so much.
You’ll notice how she throws the ball
away from her teacher – at least initially,
indicating a complete lack of concern for such dreaded things
as grades or (coveted) distinctions as teacher’s pet.


People clamor all over each other for a chance
to hurl the hard, gritty balls at Jeanne
who just curls herself up into a small knot
and vows “never again”
while the teacher rides around the gym on her golf cart,
yelling belittling motivational phrases through the bullhorn.
Nancy’s student teacher doubles as an angel,
patiently staying with her, then
using his body to shield her from incoming balls.



On the rare occasion she actually went to P.E. (which was never),
Jeanne was graded on her performance (or lack thereof)
as compared to others in the herd.
Nancy worked one-on-one with Michael Jones
(a student teacher in the Bethune-Cookman College class
called Adaptive Physical Education
conjured and taught by Timothy Mirtz).
Michael took the assignment from his professor
along with the information he’s learned in the classroom
and adapted it to fit Nancy’s special and unique needs.

I love the word “adaptive”, don’t you?
When I’m queen, it’ll be the first word in every course title
because let’s face it,
one thing Jeanne and Nancy do have in common:
we both . . . we all . . . have unique, special needs,
some are just more obvious than others.


P.S.: Tim asked me to say a few words to the students at the end of the class. I led by telling them how I found their trash talking impressive. It was impressive . . . and not just because of the intensity or steady stream of the trash talk. See, the thing is, with the trash talking, the student teachers treated these special students like “normal” folk, and trust me: this very important act didn’t go unnoticed by anybody in that gym. They may not have noticed it consciously or given words to it, but they noticed. Oh yes, they noticed.

An Improvisational Anniversary


I spy the leaf
as I walk to the truck
to begin our 12-hour ride.
Not the way I’d wanted to spend
the fourteenth anniversary of Daddy’s death,
but business meetings being what they are and all,
off we merrily go.

“Talk to me,” I pray silently to Daddy
as the sun stretches awake and water colors the sky.
“At least wave to me at 8 a.m. just to say ‘Hey’.”

At 8:00 a.m. on the dot,
(not knowing a thing about my secret ritual,
perhaps not even remembering the significance of today)
The Engineer pulls the truck into a Hardee’s,
the place where Daddy breakfasted with friends every morning.
“I’ll see y’all later,” the man in the John Deere hat says
as he exits the table.
“I’m gonna’ go do something bad enough to lift my spirits.”
I excel at eavesdropping.

As we ride down the country roads,
I remember . . .



the chicken houses and barns
my Daddy helped his daddy build . . .


how Granddaddy hired out his tractor
and his 12 year old son
to bale hay for neighbors . . .




the adorable little house
Daddy and his brother
built for their grandmother.
“We were just teenagers,” Daddy told me once.
“We didn’t know a single thing about building houses,
so we built Mimmie’s house right on top of the ground.
You never saw so many termites.”


I look at the water


the clouds


the early moon,
I watch the black bird in the morning
and the black bear in the evening
cross the road in front of us,
and I think this day is
the best conversation I’ve had with Daddy
in a long, long time.

How the Morning Unpacked Itself

Thursday, 13Nov14

One : 7:43 a.m.


My head is in the clouds.
This is no metaphor.


Two : 8:07 a.m.


A 10-minute wait at the Seed ‘n Feed this morning.
Take a number, please.


Three : 8:09 a.m.


Poof – just like that
the line is gone.
No more wait time.
Wonder why . . .


Four : 9:35 a.m.


It is a plain white pillar candle
With a wick.
A birthday gift from my son and his fiancee.
Quite non descript.
Quite ordinary.
Quite easily overlooked.
Ah, but inside this plain white pillar candle
Is a woman.
A Fierce woman
A Knowing woman
A woman who is Enough unto her self.
Her flame dances with abandon
As the winds blow all around,
Falling nearly horizontal at times
But never ceasing to burn.
She will not be extinguished.
All the while leaving a trail of black smoke
That will stain the ceiling.
I am mesmerized.
Essence must surely be her name
As she only appears when all
The layers encasing her
Have been burned away.
I can’t wait to meet her.


Five : 9:52 a.m.


I am reminded of this cloth
and how much fun I had
stitching it.
I was on fire, free.


Sometimes onward means going back
or stepping into The Great Unknown . . .


Recent photos of Nancy taken by Mona Diethrick
indicate that she’s moved from drawing to something else.


Bringing order?


Maybe a type of mosaics?


One thing’s for sure: her work as an artist is evolving.
And I’m just tickled
and intrigued
and thrilled.


Meanwhile back on the ranch,


I pick up where I left off on
In Our Own Language 3,


restitching the 50 drawings
I removed to give me a nice, generous border.
Is it just me, or are the days getting shorter?
And I don’t mean on account of the season or time change.
I distinctly remember getting more done
in the days of years gone by.

~~~~~~~ Backstory ~~~~~~~

Since June 2012:
She, Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-law draws.
I, Jeanne, the woman who flat-out loves her, stitch her drawings.

Click here to see more In Our Own Language 1
and here for In Our Own Language 2
and you guessed it – here for In Our Own Language 3.


This post is part of Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

On A Bear Hunt


It happened on this very piece of Earth Jewelry.
yesterday – Sunday, 26 October 2014.
at 5:30 p.m.
Timing is everything, you know.

As the sun bid its adieu and made its way for bed,
the shadows came,
and in the space of 12 minutes


there was a turtle


then a one-hump camel


then a one-hump camel wearing deely boppers.
Or maybe a cat.


There was a one-humped camel turned Ernie from Sesame Street
and finally, at 5:42 p.m.
what everybody came to see . . .



a BEAR!!!!

at 5:45, we see the bear become


a rat.


All this from the sun playing hide-and-seek with this mountain
and a splash of our imagination, of course.

And though it’s fun and quite playful,
it seems quite significant, too,
like Mother Nature is telling us an important bedtime story
allegorical style.

A Cloth Called Only Love Survives


My son Kipp married Marnie on May 24 of this year.
Their border collie / my granddog Otto, was the ring bearer.

Flowers1 copy

It was a beautiful time . . .


a fun time . . .


a hectic time. Chaos ruled. Feelings rose to the surface, and some were bruised. The weather threatened. The best laid plans crumbled. As is often the case, the big life moment party passed quickly while the bills and tiredness lingered long. Despite all that, I wanted to create a cloth to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event.

So . . .

FullSizeRender 2



I transferred over 400 photos to fabric


then I stitched them to fabric used as tablecloths at the anti-rehearsal dinner The Engineer and I hosted the night before the wedding. The theme for that evening? Things That Hold Stuff Together Comma Vintage.


As a special surprise for that night-before dinner (I don’t think calling it dessert is too much of a stretch), I rewrote the lyrics to One Day More from Les Mis, and had members of the two immediate families gather and rehearse for one hour before performing it – complete with blocking and choreographed movements, I’ll have you know – as a flash mob at the end of the evening.


I’m guessing it’s because they were stunned, but getting only applause at the conclusion of our number, I took the microphone and, borrowing the words of my brother-in-law Donn, informed the audience that we were going to perform that song over and over and over again till we got the Rousing Standing Ovation we so richly deserved. We got it, baby. We got it right then.


Back to the cloth ::: using the flag (because what’s One Day More without a flag) as the core, I cobbled together other blocks of left-over tablecloth fabrics (and yes, those are the lyrice – my lyrics – also transferred to cloth and stitched to the flag),


then stitched the more than 400 photos I’d transferred to cloth (photos taken by me, by The Engineer, by my brother Jerry, my sister Jan, and by the bride and groom’s photographer),


and added embellishments like buttons and ribbons from corsages and centerpieces, along with handles from goodie bags and anything else stitchable.


I used only what I had on hand, you see,

and I made it work, even when things didn’t come together neatly and easily and wind up looking like they did in the image I had in mind when I started stitching.

As with most of my hymns of cloth, I did not attach a binding, instead leaving the edges unfinished and softly frayed, perhaps unraveling just a little bit here and there.

and I decided to not add a backing fabric, preferring to make visible the back side, the often unseen side, the side that bears the knots and seams that hold things together.


As I stitched along, the cloth got bigger and bigger and bigger – more than 131″ wide and I can’t even measure the height – eventually too big to see in its entirety. Too big to see all at once.




Having still more fabric left over – even after all the photos and flag and the small 9-patch pieces surrounding the flag – I created banners, each bearing what I consider to be a necessary component of a good, healthy, lasting marriage. (Love, Laughs, Mercy, Refuge, Fun, Awe, Space, Gumption, and Pluck) Banners that became pillars of support when I realized one morning in the dark thirty hours of stitching that I wasn’t just stitching a cloth to commemorate the wedding, I was stitching a marriage.


And what of all the pings and chaos and disappointments?
They slowly, quietly fall away in the days since last May, so that Only Love Survives.


Only. Love. Survives.

It’s Friday, so It Must Be Merry Olde


London sky as a portrait of life.

Despite a delayed takeoff
and a delayed landing
and yet another lengthy delay caused by the tour guide not being at the airport to meet us,
we find ourselves in London today.
In the few hours of daylight we had left after all the delays,
we packed in plenty of steps and sightseeing.


We walked to Kensington Gardens
where we walked a lap around
the heavily populated Round Pond,
home to big ducks


baby ducks


pretty ducks all in a row


and even a swan or two.


Got my Corgi fix in Kensington Gardens when Biscuit’s person let me pet him.




Got my flower fix when we strolled past the flower shop.






And I got my cloth fix
walking past the black-and-white tiled
steps and stoops.
Actually, this one is more like an itch than a fix.
Good thing I brought and bought some cloth.


To read from the beginning of this great adventure, click right this way.

The Alphabetical Dublin

Thursday, August 28. 2014.



Dublin has beautiful and varied Architecture.



Bicycles are a dominant means of transportation.


And today we had blue sky! (At least for about 15 minutes.)


(A makeshift C
because sometimes we have to take our C’s as we see them.
Created by cropping off half the opening to a sidewalk trashcan

then rotating it a bit.)



Happy birthday, Kipp!

YOU are our Captain America.



He’s a Rescued Dragon
brought home to live because the little girl
loved him at first sight
when they visited the home for Orphaned Dragons.
The fact that he has a heart condition
just makes her love him more
’cause blue is her favorite color.
He’s a scrappy thing, this Dragon.
though some might call it appreciative.



Eunice was bad to paint
after she’d had a Guinness
Or fourteen.



The night deposits are so Fancy here,
you just want to drop money in
as you pass by.



The tree of Gold, they call it.
(Sculpted in 1991 by Eamonn O’Doharty)



The older she got,
the more she realized
that staying Hidden
was not something imposed on her.
It was her choice.





Missing her empty nest,
in the worst possible way,
Inez put her hands on her hips
and told that boy of hers to clean the garage
so she could park in it again
then go find himself a job.



Then one fine morning,
she opened her window
and tossed out a bucket of red plant
and right about then,
the breeze happened along,
Just like she’d hoped it would . . .



Kirk simply didn’t have room for all that furniture,
so he repurposed it into music.



Because sometimes you need a Little help
after 26 pints.



Molly Malone was a feisty thing,
they say,
selling her fish in the street
to make a living.
Fish tale or no,
I like a self-reliant woman.
(Sculpted by Jeanne Rynhart. Cast by Dublin Art Foundry)



A knockoff Noah’s Ark, perhaps?



SOMEbody in Dublin needs this Otto dog we saw today.
I just know it.
And he needs you, too.
(I call all border collies Otto dogs
cause my granddog is a border collie
named Otto. But you knew that.)



Purple is Nancy’s favorite color
so that makes it my happy color.



As they approached the house,
he said, “I’ve told you umpteen times:
Quit leaving the light on inside.”
Something she heard both literally
and metaphorically.


(This is a DIY R)


Reflections happen,
sometimes when we least
expect them.



Because She loved ravens
as much as he despised them,
She Seriously considered following the directions
on the Sidewalk Sign.



“To Tell you The Truth,”
she said at The end of this day,
“I’m a little Weiry.”



What trip to Dublin is complete
without a little Ulysses?
James Joyce may have exiled himself,
but Dublin still loves and takes credit for him.



He might’ve worn that stupid little hat everywhere he went,
but she was Very glad he didn’t wear these.




EveryWhere We Went today,
We saW alphabets.



A possible case of Xanthocyanopsy?



When he installed those bolts and locks
and mounted the burglar alarm keypad outside the Yellow front door,
she knew her mama had been right all along.


I looked and looked,
but I couldn’t find a Z anywhere.
So, just the Ztory . . .
After another full day in Dublin,
i go to sleep tonight
remembering The Mad Hatter.
Not this one, of course,
the one in Underground Atlanta
where I met the man I’m traveling with some 41 years later.
(Oh, and that Mad Hatter, it wasn’t a haberdashery.)
ZZZZzzzzzz . . .


To read from takeoff, go here.
To read tomorrow, go here.

The Old and The New, a Visual Poem

Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014.














To read from takeoff, go here

and to go forward, go here.

This . . . and Other Things

Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014.

Today I spied things you just don’t see everyday . . .


like an elephant in a windowsill


and a gargoyle fiercely guarding a heart


and the Dublin Garden of Remembrance


. . . where there’s more room for flowers
than people.


Today I saw a painting by Vasarely
(Lane, 1968),


something that made me laugh,


and The Engineer going beyond the end of the path.


Today I saw me,
snapping a selfie
in the Ladies Toilet
of the Ireland Museum of Modern Art.


delicious holes that let the light in.
(Or maybe I saw delicious light coming in through holes)



and tree roots that beckoned me to come, sit a spell
and conjure up some stories.


I saw bowls.
beautiful, colorful bowls


that thrill and delight
(once you get close enough and have a look inside)
and make me think of my nephew Drew
and the piece he gave me
called The Improbable Pot.
(They also make me think of people,
but we can talk about that another day.)




in an exhibit at the Ireland Museum of Modern Art,
This stone whispered to me:
Choose me, because I am
old . . .
(tho new to you.)
Because I can be a bullet
or a border
or a doorstop
or a tongue depressor
or a flower
a tombstone
or even a golf ball in a pinch.
I can hold napkins down
and tell a story
and break a window
and hold my worries for me.
I won’t ever tell secrets
or roll away when I say something it doesn’t like
or add inches to my waist
or make rude noises.
Choose me
because I don’t hold grudges
(I have no pocket for them)
or sing off key
or pass judgments.
Pssst. Choose me
because even though I have a tendency to
mirror the temperature of my surroundings,
I don’t ever try to be something I’m not.
That would be silly.(br>
So I chose this rock
for all these compelling reasons and one more:
I chose this rock because it has weathered storms
and hardships
of unimaginable proportions.
It has endured
and survived
and has had absolutely no choice about anything
yet it still doesn’t act like a victim.



And once today,
I saw what some people
see all the time.


Today I learned that . . .


The original Mr. Guinness signed a 9000 year lease
and had 21 children.
(I think I know why they sell so much ale.)


Jonathan Swift, who had an inner ear infection
diagnosed long after his demise,
wrote Gulliver’s Travels
(here at St. Patrick’s Cathedral)
not for children
but for adults.


the naked body resembles
a face
(Standing Nude by William Scott, 1954).


It was another good day
governed not by a to do list
but a see / feel / be list.


To start at the beginning of Another Great Adventure 2014 and read yourself current, go here.
To go forward to tomorrow, go here.