Tuesday, May 30, 2023

June 2023


Lush paradises invite... lure...

To celebrate a major milestone
Peter and Lisl journeyed first
To Windsor to attend,
Not a coronation, but a wedding...
And thence onward
To a fortnight in Mallorca...
For promised languishing
In a lush paradise.
Of course their home in Barbados
Is its own brand of lush paradise.
This pic shows us new definitions
Of lush and paradise...
It’s all lush… and all paradise…
Just with its own delights
And history spread out
For fresh discoveries
Each day.

I challenged OpenAI
To write me something
About this courtyard
In Peter’s and Lisl’s
Air-BnB home in Sóller
Where they sipped morning coffees
Near their own pool.
Lush paradise, indeed.

OpenAI spewed out reams
But I’m particularly
Entranced with these lines:

     In Mallorca's sun-kissed embrace,
     Lies a realm of beauty and grace,
     Where courtyards bloom in vibrant hues,
     Amidst lemon trees and terra cotta views.

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Saturday, April 29, 2023

May 2023


My dad, an apprentice in Puebla...

Sometime around 1970
My father discovered gemstones.
His job involved lots of
Road travel in Texas and
He rejoiced in all his finds,
Whether roadside or
Local rockhound shops
That he found dotted around
His wide-ranging territory.
He built himself
A little backyard shed
Under a big pecan tree,
But he added air-conditioning, of course…
This was San Antonio, after all.

He equipped his shed
With polishing equipment
And cutting equipment
And produced mounds
Of beautiful shiny ovals
Ready to be mounted
In pendants, or rings,
Or belt buckles, or bolo ties.
He learned a lot from asking others
And from the library…
Eventually, he decided
He wanted to learn how to set
His own stones. He wanted
To learn silversmithing.

Now, Mexico has oodles
Of talented silversmiths,
And Puebla is perhaps
The largest concentration of them.
So my mum, who spoke fluent Spanish,
Found a silversmithing place
In Puebla who agreed to take
My dad on as an unofficial apprentice.
Did I mention that this dad of mine
Spoke almost no Spanish???
Anyhow off my parents went
For two weeks in Puebla,
Where my mum would drop
My dad off each morning, then
Return at lunchtime, and again
At end of day.
During the day my dad would
Follow example instructions
And when my mum came
She would translate for
Both my dad and his teachers.
Seems the Puebla guys
Loved my dad…
Not a surprise, he was
Infinitely lovable.

He learned loads and returned
Back home and work.
On the weekends at home, he loved
His time in his shed.
The next year they did
Another fortnight in Puebla.
This time he learned
About casting and added
A centrifugal casting machine
To his shed’s equipment.
Seems dentists use the same machines.
He loved casting and he started
Branching out into some
More designer-type options…
Some which I still wear
With joy and pride.

When my dad passed
My mum sold most of his
Remaining gemstones
And gave me a cool collection
Of what was left.
You see some of them here,
In an African stone bowl
With a carved turtle that guards
The bright shiny treasures…
He’s always happy
When I stop by and
Run my fingers through them…
And remember my daddy.
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Friday, March 31, 2023

April 2023


March just seemed to ooze away...

No lions.
No lambs.
But the month this year
Was filled with lotsa
Rampaging lions…
And some
Gently portending lambs.

My balcony Buddha,
Has watched with
Shivering determination
And hopeful delight.
Now backed by netting
Installed to protect him…
And my table…
And my rocking chair…
From pigeons.
The interstices seem
To invite some bullet journalling
Above the rail
And some graphed diagramming
Below the rail.

Maybe my balcony Buddha
Wants us all to notice
More about our daily worlds
And to jot down our observations
To give voice to our eyes.

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

March 2023

 For our fresh new year...

We’re all just
Too, too familiar
With aspirations
For our fresh
New year.
We have our

But Mother Nature
Shows us the way:
No matter what,
We must all
Proceed with firm
In the face of
Winter’s freezing howls,
Spring asserts her
Firm determinations
In the form of pulsating
That push through
A frozen crust
To show us all
How it’s done.
In October last,
Fiona Beth Phillips
Moved with her family
To new digs in
Atherstone in England.
She reports they
Wintered in place
And are now greeted
With this early emanation
Of flowering quince.
I like that The Spruce
Reports that this is a shrub
“With a somewhat
Messy growth habit!”

I invite you all
To join me in a
Fresh determination
To indulge in our own
Messy growth...
Nothing tentative...
Messy is always

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Feb 2023

Many happy returns... always...

If you are born in Toronto
At 9:15 am today, this is what your
Astrological natal chart will look like.
The sun is associated with
Your best expression of yourself.
In your chart the sun’s in Aquarius,
The sign associated with
The forming of community,
Of developing a path
To inclusion and universality…
In other words: common ground.
Plus, in your chart Aquarius
Occupies the second house,
The parts of your life
Concerned with your
Personal resources...
Whatever you need
For your own sustenance…
Like food, money,
And a rock solid
Sense of values.
Every year on your birthday…
     Give or take a day or two
     Because: leap year…
The sun shows up
In the same place.
That’s what the ancients,
Like those famous
Three wise men,
Called your solar return.
That’s the real reason
People will wish you
Many happy returns.
The sun’s position is easy to know
Because the earth orbits
Around the sun every 365 days...
     Sort of… remember
     Leap year catches us up
     For those extra
     5 hours,
     59 minutes, and
     16 seconds each year.
The moon, of course,
And all the planets
Also have returns,
But their orbits around the sun
Take different amounts of time
So you’ll need to look it up
Or ask an astrologer,
The scientists of yore
Still plying our trade
In 2023.

Want to know what those symbols are on this month’s calendar? I have a keywords chart for you in this folder. You’ll see the sun and the moon are listed as planets. That’s just tradition talking. We know they’re not really planets. While you’re there, why not pick up the higher resolution version of my calendar and try it out as wallpaper on your computer desktop? That’s what I do
every month. (background photo by Cosmic Timetraveler on Unsplash)

Please enjoy this glorious and short month... hearts included.

If this isn't nice, what is?

~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Jan 2023

As they say... No mud. No lotus...

The lotus flowers and seeds
But can do nothing
Without having its roots
Stuck firmly into
Some thick, gooey,
And messy mud.

The mud’s invisible,
Of course,
But the lotus
Knows its job…
And bloom, it must,
So it sinks its tendrils
Ever deeper
And draws up
The light
That is the essence
Of all life.

As humans we also bloom
When our feet are planted firmly.
Our mud is the stuff of daily life.
And there’s a lot of it...
Mostly daily grind stuff…
Often obstacles that
Must be overcome
For our path to even appear…
Then require further
Vanquishment to keep on
Keeping on.

Sometimes our mud
Is our own choosing…
The quality defined
By the nature of our aspirations.
This year I am choosing
The mud of learning
Some new things…
All which I’m showing to you
Here, in this month’s calendar.

My determination this year
Is to learn Affinity
Designer, Photo, and Publisher…
Affordable alternatives to my
Long-time faves from Adobe:
Illustrator and Photoshop.
I’m retired now
So don’t need to keep paying
For a costly professional subscription…
But I want to be able
To continue making
Calendars—and more…
As is my wont.
So I bought the Affinity apps
(One-time fee, no subscription)
And I produced
This month’s calendar
In its entirety
Using Affinity.
What would have taken
Thirty minutes in Illustrator
Took three days.
Ha! Not because
Affinity is slow or difficult,
But because I had
To learn lotsa new stuff:
New vocabulary.
New menus.
New controls.
All so the result
Can look like
A seamless continuation
Of my monthly offerings.

Thank you again, Susan,
For taking this glorious image
On your travels…
And for letting me use it… again.

And why does my calendar say
Nam myoho renge kyo
Across the bottom???
That’s the title
Of the historical Buddha’s
Last teaching,
The Lotus Sutra.
That’s what I chant
Every day…

Morning and evening…
Like breathing out
And breathing in…
To awaken my own
Buddha nature
And rejoice in the happiness
Of my everyday life…
Mud and all.

I must admit
The mud of these
Past few years
Made me think I might
Be blooming as a dandelion
Instead of the
But I continue
To bloom
In my solitude…
Toes happily squishing
In each day’s mud.

Any new mud
For you this year?

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Dec 2022


Drama every day...

I’m not new to daily drama.
When we lived in Vancouver’s Deep Cove
My studio overlooked
Trees, water, and islands and hills beyond.
And so many clouds!!!
And fogs and mists!!

More studios have each offered
Different views and
Different dramas.

Yes… and you know how
I’m watching my new
City dramas unfold from today’s
Aerie studio. That skyline
I’ve shown you so many ways.
This one is from a couple of weeks ago.
From my perch
I see it all punctuated by
My EKKO mobile. It hangs
Gently indoors from curtain rod
In front of the window views
You know so well.
In the summer,
Breezes from the windows
Keep it moving… and in the winter,
The heat rises from the rads below
To keep it wafting…
Always giving motion
To my view.
The drama is often simple
And always profound.
I am moved as it moves.
I love how we humans
Can both stand in awe
Of Mother Nature’s
Dramatic displays…
And rejoice in adding
Our own creativity
To her ever-changing vistas.

I love that I can notice
Better now
With my new eyes…
Eyes that pretend
To see like the old ones.
The pretense is excellent
And only registers as pretense
Because of the years I spent
Watching my world become
Darker and greyer
With each passing day.
Was that darkness
Another reality?
I do know that
I prefer the brightness
Of my world today…
With all it’s subleties.
After all, how do we even know
What is real???

No matter, it’s all part of
Our daily drama…
It’s all fun…
And I’m happy to watch
It unfold in front
Of these newly-minted eyes…
These very eyes…
Pretentious or not!
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course