Sunday, December 31, 2017

Jan 2018


That's the way Aussies say it.
The first part sounds like
That common Canadian punctuation word, Eh?
When I first moved to Oz
I thought it sounded funny, Eh?
But then my Texan ears adjusted
And after all these years
My now-Canadian eyes
Still pronounce it in Strine, Eh?
I am, after all, tri-lingual...
All in English.

Cogitating about this turn of words
And their sounds and comforts
Made me remember a prezzie from my mum
Circa 1968.
Twas a used book called
Ounce, Dice, Trice
Writ by Alistair Reid
And illustrated by my fave
Jewish artist, Ben Shahn...
Both who applied liberal slatherings
Of humour and whimsy...
Two of my favourite forms of nonsense.

You see, Mr. Reid, offers us alternative universes
Of real English words used in new and enchanting ways.
To count, from one to ten, he suggests:

  1. Ounce
  2. Dice
  3. Trice
  4. Quartz
  5. Quince
  6. Sago
  7. Serpent
  8. Oxygen
  9. Nitrogen
  10. Denim
I might add
Elephant and Twee

For an even dozen
And invite all of you to sing
The Twee Days of Christmas.
with me.

And I wonder:
What words would you choose
As counting words?
And more...
What words would you play with
In this New Year's
Eh-Deen different ways, Eh?

So I'm challenging youse all
To my
18 Days of Verbose Nonsense.

Click on the above image to get to my DropBox Nonsense folder.
if problems clicking, just copy and paste this link into your browser:

You don't have to have a DropBox account, but if you do, note: I'm not sharing the folder,
only giving you access, so it won't count against your memory. Inside you will find two more folders

  1. My-Challenges
  2. Your-Responses
Each day for 18 days, starting January 1st:
  1. Pick up (download) each day's challenge sheet from the first folder listed above It's a PDF identified by the day's number.
  2. Send me an email with your responses, each day at the address. which is listed on the challenge sheet.
  3. Please put the day's number in your subject line.
  4. I will assemble your responses ASAP and put them into another PDF... identifying each of you only by initials.  Then I’ll put these in the “Your-Responses” folder. You're welcome to download and peruse those at your leisure..
  5. I'm asking you please to respond within a day or two of each challenge. so we can all feel the momentum.
  6. At the end of the 18 days I'll make and share a PDF including all our Nonsense.
  7. You don't have to participate every day, but I'm hoping many of you will want to.
  8. Each day's challenge will be different and they'll each give you all plenty of scope for your silly creativity and imagination to run rampant.
  9. A little lewd is OK, but not crude, please. I will, of course, reserve the right to decide what's lewd and/or crude.
Let's all have a silly 2018!

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Friday, December 1, 2017

Dec 2017

Watching out...

Since our new balcony railings were installed a couple of years ago, pigeons eschew railing in favour of decking. These two were hanging out on my upstairs neighbour's balcony floor, aka my balcony ceiling. I always find myself wondering why so often two of them... seldom only one.. and if another arrives the two incumbents quickly flee, before the interloper's partner arrives.

I also wonder what they're watching — or watching out for. They've got a good viewpoint there. I wonder how far they can see... surely all the way into December... maybe all the way to Santa's mythic voyage.

When I was a girl, my parents wanted Santa to arrive on Christmas Eve, but how to have presents suddenly arrive when we weren't asleep? They quickly established the tradition of my childhood: First we put out cookies and milk for Santa. Then we all three exited our back door and climbed into the car, with my daddy driving. As we backed out of the driveway, my mom suddenly said, "Oh, I forgot the binoculars!" Daddy pulled to the curb in front of our house and my mom quickly dashed up to the front door and disappeared into the house while Daddy reminded me to watch the sky around the brightness of the moon (or whatever brightness he could point out to me that year) to see Santa's sleigh in silhouette. Soon my mom re-emerged bearing the binoculars... which she reported having some difficulty finding. Then we set off.

We drove around admiring neighbourhood lighting displays, much less lavish than those today, but delightful to the little me. And at least once each year, Daddy pointed and said, "Look! There he is!" And I always just barely missed seeing Santa, but I always heard his sleigh bells. Always.

When we returned home, we went into the living room and sure enough, Santa had come and gone, leaving presents along with cookie crumbs and and an empty milk glass and even a thank-you note. Santa was always so pleased with our offering.

This was the routine even when we had visiting family... there were just more people crammed into the car.

When Peter was six, we returned from Australia and spent Christmas in San Antonio with my parents. Peter was at that age where he thought he knew there was no Santa, but he went along with the unfolding evening, willing but a little bemused. That time I got the full behind-the-scenes action as I helped my mom remove our coats from the entrance closet and ready them for the Santa-sighting trip... then we stashed the prezzies in that same entrance closet along with a prepared note from Santa and a plate with cookie crumbs and an empty glass with obvious milk film... AND the binoculars on the shelf... PLUS a strip of bells in her purse! The routine proceeded, but this time I was the one who ran inside and moved the prezzies to their place under the tree and exchanged the full plate and glass for the empty plate and glass AND placed the note... THEN grabbed the binoculars, which apparently were not where my mom had told me but which I found nearby and brandished with glee as I dashed back to the waiting car.

As we drove around the neighbourhood my dad did indeed point away and exclaim, "Looky! There he is1" while my mom removed the bells from her purse and gently rattled them outside the window she had rolled down "in order to see better." This was south central Texas, remember. Nobody complained about the cold.

And when we returned home, we were all surprised that Santa had come and left our presents strewn under the tree. Peter was agog. We all clapped with joy!


I think these pigeons know what they're watching out for. Don't you?
After all, you better watch out, you better not cry,
You better not pout, I'm telling you why...
Santa Clause is coming to town.
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Nov 2017

As the dark descends...

It's not just Halloween
That creeps and gloms,
It's the gloom of nights that seep
Into our days earlier and earlier.

Autumn gleefully parades
Her fiery cadmium yellows and oranges
We'd better imprint them fast
They're sucked into rich burnt umbers
And eventually deep lamp blacks
Before our ever-surprised eyes.

After all these years
I'm still amazed
And, yes...

Have fun treating and/or tricking tonight.
Have a great Mo/November.
Be sure to remember
To remember
On the eleventh:
Et al.
His birthday
And his pleas
For humanity.
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Go here for a higher resolution version of this month's calendar for your desktop.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Oct 2017

We’ve survived Summer’s reboot...

I met Kyla on the streetcar when she asked me about my Nordic walking poles. Recovering from double sciatica, they really help me to walk better and farther and all without pain... or exhaustion. I was on my way to my chiro and she was on her way to hers. Not the same chiro, but, we soon discovered the now-retired-to-full-time painting-in-Crystal-Beach David Drum was our chiro-in-common in the past. We sang his praises as we changed streetcars, and bragged about the replacements each of us had finally found. We also learned we are nearby neighbours. We quickly exchanged phone numbers before going our separate ways.

A few days later Kyla phoned to invite me to the hot house that she tends in the summers. It's a lovely remarkable place very nearby, too.  We went that Sunday morning to a space behind a public high school for adult learning. The hot house on that school's grounds, is not open to the public but rather host during the school year to elementary school programmes teaching about plants and caring for them. Kyla looks after the plants during the summer when both students and the programme's teacher are doing summertime things.

While Kyla watered, misted and snipped, I snooped and snapped. I could have done 4 calendars this month just like I did for last month! I chose these orchids, tho, because they offer us all a gentle glimpse at the charm and hope that summer can bring even while we rail against her oppressive intensity.

Now let’s all enjoy the coolth... and join in the Aussie initiative to end violence against children, Polished Man Month. 
If this isn't nice, what is?
              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Go here for a higher resolution version of this month's calendar for your desktop.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Sept 2017

How can I choose???

Kate just returned from Quito and Galapagos, where she was hanging with fellow mathematicians and pelicans and seals and tortoises and lizards and blue-footed boobies! I have nothing else to say. You choose.


Then go here to watch blue footed boobies... turn down your speakers... they're so loud!

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Aug 2017

By the light of the silvery Moon...

There’s lots of talk these days about the exciting upcoming total solar eclipse. Mark it on your calendars: August 21st, the day of the New Moon, aka the Dark of the Moon. Go here to learn about the eclipse.

The staring role that day isn’t the Sun, however, but the Moon. It's about how our Moon’s cycles mark our lives. She causes the tides to ebb and to flow, and she shows us how time passes with infinite patterns, and she inspires contemplation and song and dance and poems—indeed luminous art of all varieties. We humans have always been in love with our Moon.

Our Moon always turns the same face to us as we stand here upon the Earth. She is both mysterious and consistent that way. As we gaze up at her face, her dark side always remains hidden from us. Throughout each of her 28-day cycles her face reflects the light of the Sun displaying all her glory to us in predictable ways. We call these her phases and since the beginning of human time we have assigned meanings to these phases as lunar moods and we have used them to understand and demonstrate our own cycles of being and doing.

From her invisible New Moon she waxes, showing us increasing slices of her face until we see her in all her glory at her radiant Full Moon. Then she wanes, showing us decreasing slices of her face until she is invisible yet again as another New Moon. We watch and we marvel still.
  • New Moon: The time to set a new intention. This is the time to reflect and set a new goal—an intention not just an aspiration or dream, but a determination, large or small, for the upcoming month.
  • Crescent Moon: The time to relax into our new intention, to gather our inner resolve and focus, to map out our plan.
  • First Quarter Moon: Our to-do list gets some of it’s first items accomplished.
  • Gibbous Moon: We keep checking off more items on our to-do list, feeling ever more confident that we are in sync with our own destiny.
  • Full Moon: We move ahead with bright clarity OR we might recognize that we need to correct our course and perhaps even move this goal to a different cycle. Our clarity excites and calms us.
  • Disseminating Moon: We feel grateful as we sense our own purpose and place in the universe. We receive love and support from others who feel grateful to have us a part of their world.
  • Third Quarter Moon: Now we know how to support others, too, and we proceed to use our re-directed intention to add to their sense of purpose.
  • Balsamic Moon: This is the time of quiet reflection, looking back on this cycle and resting up for the next.
The Full Moon of each month also shows us the marching orders for the seasons. We humans have always seen fit to give names to each seasonal Full Moon, according to our time and culture. On the 7th of this month we’ll see the Sturgeon Moon. It's also been called the Green Corn Moon, the Grain Moon, the Harvest Moon, and the Red Moon for the reddish hue it often takes on in the summer haze. There are lots more. Want to learn about the names of the Full Moons and even about Blue Moons? Go here and here.

I invite you to watch the sky for her many patterns. And to listen to songs. Maybe even to make your own.

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Friday, June 30, 2017

Happy Canada 150 +

Not Toronto... not even Canada...
but a wishful O Canada!

Our Toronto weather has been anything but celebratory. Cold and wet. Fortunately David (of Kate & David) recently posted this perfect day at New Jersey's Wildwood Crest beach. We're celebrating Canada's 150th birthday today and I'm hoping this image will find a way to attract some Summer and some sun, at least in our hearts. After all, we're ready to get warm so we can start complaining about the heat!

The Barenaked Ladies are performing at Nathan Phillips Square (in front of Toronto's City Hall). Buffy St.Marie, too. There'll be others of course. In fact the whole weekend is to be filled with events marking Canadian Confederation and flying the glorious Canadian flag created by that iconic designer I used to work for, Don Watt.

How can you not want this one for your desktop all month long??? Grab a higher resolution version from the link to the right.

Happy Canada 150 +

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

June 2017

The soul of humanity...

So much appears on Kickstarter that is creative and fun. The Anka Cooperative project creates beauty and community... plus self-sustaining lives for thousands of Syrian refugee women. I participated with only a small contribution and received this image of a glorious rug made by such women who live in refugee camps in Turkey.

Here's their website: Anka Cooperative
Here's a video.

Go explore and see what Hope can look like... and rejoice with me in this triumph of connection.
Their Kickstarter campaign is over, but there's still opportunity to help.

If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course:

Thursday, May 4, 2017

It's the 4th of May.... and you know what that means

!. Rattle your light sabres today: 

 What sound does light make?
2. Libate for liberty tomorrow:

 Muchas cervezas y margaritas y salsas y tacos y enchiladas!
3. Be prepared for the aftermath! 

 What would Yoda do?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

May 2017

May is all about becoming...

Hopeful anticipation becomes raucous joy.
Tentative buds become pungent flowers.
Little blue eggs become chirping robins.
Puffy parkas become itsy-bitsy
Teeny-weeny yellow polka-dot bikinis.
At last!

My friend
Timothy Phillips is welcoming this Beltane
By wending his way through northwestern Spain,
Walking his third Camino de Santiago!
As in his book, My Camino Walk,
His current almost-daily blog tells of his journey:
His many, many day-to-day steps
Over landscapes filled with new
Glorious vistas at every turn,
And his intrepid musings on the
Intricate connections within the soul of living.

And his images! So much that is breathtaking...
While giving ample pause to breathe.
Witness here his view of the approaching May Day
Near a small place called
Vilariño de Conso

I invite each of you to create
Your own Camino within each day this month.
Walk and wonder...
Meander and muse...
Amble and amaze yourself
With discoveries both
Mundane and profound. 

Bask in the joy of being YOU!
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Friday, March 31, 2017

Apr 2017

I submit precious memory in defiance of dull...

In like a lamb?
Seems like it was,
Though it was a tough call
Maybe an angry lamb
Being chased by a lion?
The interim brought
More wailing winter winds and sneaky snow
And skies forever grey.
We were fooled for a couple of days
And a few foolhardy lads even
Ventured out in shorts!
Not I, of course:
Neither a lad nor that kind of foolhardy.
But I did leave boots and parka behind
In favour of a light jacket and
Actual shoes.

Today an early morning lion
Brought us more snow...
That then turned into rain...
And now fog and a dense drizzle
Continue into the night...
Making NASA's spot-the-station notice
A moo point.
Clouds mean I can't see it anyhow.
Neither can Joey's cow.

Sun in Florence.
No lions. No lambs. Just
Sustaining memory
Of cobblestones
And gnocchi and gelato
And family and two Davids.
And sunshine.

Ah. There’s hope
For us all.
N’est-ce pas?
Tis good we can remember.
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course:

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happy Pi Day 2017

Yes, it's that time again...

Look up in the sky! It's a bird. It's a plane! It's a circle:
Its circumference divided by its diameter!
Oh my!
For lots of good ways to celebrate
Go here!
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course:

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Mar 2017

Manhattan here, Manhattan there,
Manhattan musings everywhere...

I’m calling this guy El Ladrón.
He’s a Heermann’s Gull
But he doesn’t care.
He’s hanging here at Manhattan Beach
With Kate & David, who are
Freshly back from Baja California
Where they watched whales,
Lazed on the beach and ate
Vast quantities of scrumptious food.
El Ladrón is returning from Baja BC
And is on his way further south
To some very private Mexican islands
In search of some cute girl gulls.
As he swoops and zooms,
He’s always on the lookout for
A Brown Pelican, watching as it
Swoops and dives, then
El Ladrón steals its bounty from its
Very ample beak.
El Ladrón, after all, means Thief.
Of course, he’ll be happy to steal
Human treats, too. He’s not so picky…
Just incredibly fast and sneaky.

And he has incredibly cute feet.

As El Ladrón wings his way south,
Kate and David wing their own way
Home to their sky pod on Manhattan Ave,
On a tall NJ cliff that overlooks
The Manhattan Island we all know.

Or do we?

All these Manhattans prompt me
To wonder how that name came about
In the first place. Seems though
There’s no definitive “first place.”

In 1609 Henry Hudson plied the seas
And mapped the coast around the mouth
Of the river that now bears his name.
Somebody labelled two places with two words
That are each sort of like Manhattan, but not
Manhattan, but not like in two different spellings.
And the two places are
On opposite sides of said river.

Walt Whitman was the first to use the name
Manhattan in print. The name’s meaning, though,
Is delightfully strewn with opinions
Now deemed as spurious
As old Henry’s first map labels.
“Island of many hills”
Gave way to “Place where
We became intoxicated,”
Put forth as evidence
That the island’s vendors
Became drunk on the Dutch buyers’ spirits.

Seems though, both are myths
On all historical, geographical,
And etymological fronts.

Enter our hero, Albert Anthony,
Né Shiikwáhkwunund, “Lone Pine”
In the Munsee (Delaware) language
The language of the original inhabitants
Of the whole Hudson Valley region…
Including Manhattan Island.

In 1884 Anthony was
Part of a delegation from
Six Nations Reserve…
And along with three chiefs
Gave an interview that said:

Our traditions affirm
that at the period
of the discovery of America,
our Nation resided
on the Island of New York.
We call that island Man- -h -tonh,
The place where timber is procured
For bows and arrows…
At the lower end of the island
was a grove of hickory trees
of peculiar strength and toughness.
Our fathers held this timber
in high esteem
as material for constructing
bows, war-clubs, etc.

From this prized stand of hickory
To a lone buttonwood tree,
Manhattan's greenery has defined
How the known nations interact
With themselves and each other.
From tools for both hunting
And warfare to the trading of shares,
Often profiting from warfare,
But always in dreams of filling the tables
Of the poor as well as the rich.

First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.

But, then, that's yet another story, eh?

If this isn't nice, what is?
              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course:

Friday, January 27, 2017

Feb 2017

An Early Happy Feb...

... because Chinese New Year is coming tomorrow... early this year! I love that the Lunar New Year holiday honours and celebrates the start of Spring! This New Moon appears tomorrow and the traditional annual 7-day observance serves as rest time before the approaching farm season... sort of an official Spring Fever time!

Thx to Canada Post yet again for continuing their series of seasonal stamps.

This year is full of expectation. The rooster is proud, confident, hardworking and punctual. Fire by its very nature is the element associated with brilliance, warmth, passion, spark. So a brilliant and enthusiastic rooster, combined with the warm and bright characteristics of fire, heralds an enterprising and fruitful year... a year of results and achievements. This year we can fulfill all of our dreams.

Chinese tradition dictates a whole list of DOs and DON'Ts for best results:
  • Visit with family and friends to wish them good fortune and prosperity.
  • Spend the rest of today (Friday) cleaning your house but avoid cleaning for the next 3 days to avoid sweeping away good fortune.
  • Red symbolizes vitality of life and happiness while gold symbolizes wealth and prosperity. Dress—in new clothes—and decorate accordingly! Give gifts of money in red envelopes.
  • Tonight (Friday) stay up until midnight and open your doors and windows to send out the old year and welcome the new.
  • Ring a bell at midnight to bring good fortune for the whole year.
  • Then tomorrow, be sure to feast—but don't nap, as naps can encourage laziness for the rest of your year.
  • Keep children happy and joyous, as crying might discourage good luck.
  • Use lots of positive words all day to set the focus for the new year.
Seems to me we're encouraged to be happy tomorrow so we can be happy all year long.
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course: