gravel road girl

Archive for the tag “creativity”

Boots By the Side of the Road

Boots by the side of the road,

why are you here?

Here at the severe curve

where every driver must slow

nearly to not-moving.

Did they pause to set you out

for smell of foul feet?

Or bad behavior,

if that is possible for such

durable, salt of the earth

work wear.

Are you the last straw

of a bad day?

The finality of a job

never returned to?

I must think, though,

that you wait here,

doggedly loyal,

sure of your master’s return.

I applaud and admire you.

Good boots!

We Have Bees

We Have Bees

We have bees–

or rather the bees have us.

Thrumming, humming,

like a pulse drumming

inside the skeletal walls

of this decaying crib.

Unlike Herculean Samson,

I will not

reach in to steal away

their golden lifeblood.

I will not

selfish seek to sweeten my life.

For they, by choosing us,

move life

from flower to flower.

(Not) A Poem a Day: The Clematis


The poor thing,

she needed to be moved.

In my absence

she was transplanted–

efficiently enough–

to a wind-buffeted southwest corner.

Staked and sturdied and twined,

barely blossomed,

tiny tendrils grasped for anything.

And so I found her

and loosened what held her upright.

She fell forward–

so oddly yet almost instinctively

like a child upon my shoulder.

My response,

“Oh, sweet plant!

I’m here to help you.”

And she rested there

and I thought I heard

a sigh.

(Not) A Poem a Day: A Pleasant Surprise

Photo credit: Greg Rosenke

A Pleasant Surprise

It is always a pleasant surprise–

like finding money in your pocket


nabbing the last popsicle

in the box–

that you uncover a nest

of ladybugs

red, polka dotted and

tumbling out into the

spring garden.

They are as surprised

as I.

(Not) A Poem a Day: Thoughts

Photo: Cerqueira, Unsplash


I snatch at my thoughts

like a child with a net

chasing butterflies.

Though I capture one,

pinning it down

to gently wrestle with it,



four others

flit about just out of reach

more provoking

more distracting

than the one I now


(Unrevised) Poem of the Day: Marmalade



my old, faithful cat

lies at my feet

curled around herself.

Like a rug

washed too many times,

she is patchy

and frayed

and thinning.

She no longer gives service

for catching mice

or for kittenly entertainment,

but like any good dog,

she is a cat of


and presence

and enduring love.

(Not) A Poem a Day: Swans

photo: Drazen Neske, Unsplash

Because writing time has been at a premium lately, I’m posting a recently written poem. As we here in the Midwest impatiently wait for spring, the gathering of eagles near open water and the flight of swans makes things bearable and gives us hope.


written Friday, March 4, 2022

Two pair of swans,


flying swiftly

to the northeast

as if sprung from a bow

arrow straight.


below them

limited by where the asphalt

could take me

wished to reach up

to fly away with them

free of roads

free of fences

free of my own


(Not) A Poem a Day

Inspired by Jane Yolen's a-poem-a-day writing discipline and butt-in-chair mantra, I'm loosely attempting my own a-few-poems-a-week regimen. These are lightly edited or perhaps not edited at all with the date included to keep me honest. By the way, if you don't know who Jane Yolen is you should. Her writing is delightful. Go find her. Read her stuff. 

February Walk

–Written Monday, February 21, 2022

Yesterday, I timidly stepped

into the end of February

and out of doors.

Tugged by gentle winds

that lifted the cornhusks

like large moths,

I layered on my own warmth

only to find

it was too much.

I tied my sweatshirt around my waist and

waded into the sunshine.

The black asphalt trail,

a snow-melt river,

where cyclists dodged about

liked wheeled water bugs.

–Written Monday, February 21, 202

Celebrating (Re)Purpose

Celebrating summer!

As I dip my toes back into the waters of writing after a way-too-long absence, I’m searching for purpose and focus. I’ve decided I agonize over this too much. So, my writing “purpose” for July is the the over-used, over-blogged idea of repurposing.

Yada-yada-yada. . . you can read about it everywhere, I know. But, bear with me if:

  1. You’re cheap. I like a good deal, and I’ll share some of mine with you.
  2. You love the idea of seasonal decorating, but you need some fresh ideas.
  3. You would like to learn to decorate with things you already have.

Throughout the month of July, I’ll share with you a variety of ways I repurpose, rearrange, and refresh my house and garden with inexpensive (mostly) and unusual items. I hope you’ll follow along!

Celebrating the 4th of July!

After Christmas, the Fourth of July is my favorite holiday for decorating. Those pops of red, white, and blue sparkle the whole month of July and well into August for me. So come along on the tour, and I’ll explain as I go.

I really can’t get enough of old postcards, and those little stands that are holding them are weighted, metal flower frogs. I probably have a dozen flower frogs of various shapes. They’re easily found at antique stores and flea markets ranging in price from $3-$10 depending on the size and shape. You’ll see in many of the pictures that I use them throughout my house, and I use them all the year round. I simply swap out the postcard. But, you could use photos taken seasonally or maybe a hand-written, seasonal recipe card.

But getting back to the postcards. . .


This is my postcard drawer. Postcards are, hands down, the cheapest, easiest, most interesting way to add variety to your seasonal decorations. I have postcards for every season and almost every holiday. Christmas and New Years are the easiest to find, and Halloween is the most difficult. But if you’re a history junkie like me, I’m simply fascinated by the hand-written notes scrawled on the backs of these postcards.

Some share tidbits of family news, young love, or long-awaited homecomings. The price is right at $1-$3 for most cards.

 Display them in old card holders or start your own collection of “frogs.” They can also be easily slipped into the corner of a mirror or displayed on the fridge.

As you can see, old books play a big part in all of my seasonal decorating.


I keep my eye out for red books, especially, as they can be used for the Fourth of July AND Christmas. Blue books work in the winter months as well as July 4th. I have a stash of green books for spring and orange and black for fall. Whatever colors are not in use simply fill a basket in a corner. 


Old thermoses. . . 

 . . . old, blue bottles. . . 

. . . inexpensive mini-flags, as well as seashells collected on vacations are all easy and inexpensive pops of red, white, and blue. Maybe you don’t have “old, blue bottles,” but even a Ball canning jar filled with shells and a couple of flags perched in it adds a great touch to your table. And you might not have an old Bingo game, but  a couple boxes of sparklers tied with a red ribbon and tucked up beside a vase of daisies works, too. 


Do you have a carpenter’s ruler that was your dad’s or grandpa’s? I have several that sit in my windows shaped into stars. This black, metal one was a few sticks short, but it still works as a star! Another little bottle and another little flag–it doesn’t take much to say, “Happy Independence Day!”

Even a tablecloth or an apron (I know, who has aprons anymore–I do!) can become a decoration. “Storing” my outside tablecloth over the back of a chair and a vintage apron on the corner of the chalk board are casual ways to add that color without much fuss. 

What else do you have that’s red, white, and blue? Croquet balls? Any other toys or sports equipment you could swipe for the month of July? I nabbed this old, metal Pepsi truck off a local Facebook swap site for a steal–$15. I know, not everyone has “an old, metal Pepsi truck.” But maybe you have a child’s baseball glove and a worn baseball. Fit those together on your bookshelf, tuck in a flag or two, and fill a small jar with peppermints to go beside it–voila!

And perhaps the simplest addition to any summertime decor. . .



They’re free (or really cheap on-line!), and force you to take some time to look for the beauty in small, simple things.


I hope you’ve found at least one take-away idea for repurposing your own things for a festive Fourth, or maybe you’ve been inspired to seek out some new treasures. 

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”    ~Confucius







“Zero at the Bone”


Thank you, Mom, for pressing it upon me, subtly sliding it into conversation, interjecting a bit here, a snippet there. Usually just enough to make your point or paint the picture. Sometimes I had to endure the whole thing. I know, I acted like I was bored. But really, it seeped into my brain like a steady, fall rain. Eventually, it became permanent, like a birth mark. I can’t escape it; it’s just part of who I’ve become.


And so, dear Mother, as I was walking the trail the other day–warm, black asphalt–I came upon a slight, grey snake sunning himself. He was only about a foot long and as big around as my pinkie. I didn’t squeal or jump back. I stopped with a quick, short breath and immediately thought, “Zero at the bone.”

A narrow fellow in the grass

BY Emily Dickinson

A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides;
You may have met him—did you not
His notice sudden is,
The grass divides as with a comb,
A spotted shaft is seen,
And then it closes at your feet,
And opens further on.
He likes a boggy acre,
A floor too cool for corn,
But when a boy and barefoot,
I more than once at noon
Have passed, I thought, a whip lash,
Unbraiding in the sun,
When stooping to secure it,
It wrinkled and was gone.
Several of nature’s people
I know, and they know me;
I feel for them a transport
Of cordiality.
But never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.
fall leaves
And, as every season evokes a favorite poem, I can’t let October slip away without this favorite from Robert Frost. My mom mentioned it to me even as we flipped the calendar from September. “Yes,” I thought, “Slow, slow! For the grapes’ sake. . .”  I hope you agree with Frost that, of all months, October should linger and be enjoyed one leaf at a time.


BY Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
Poetry is everywhere; it just needs editing. – James Tate

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