Friday, December 31, 2010

Bark Trio

Three trees.

Three barks.

No bite.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chasing the Light

The moment before the putti arrive,

and the moment after they leave.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hydrangea Heart

Oh, the hydrangea!
What's not to love?

Natural pleasure for all seasons.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The First Lady of Bell Buckle

-- my friend and niece, a black chow mix -- died today, taking a piece of my heart with her into the garden where her companions buried her.When I first met her eight and a half years ago, she trotted each day across the street into my yard, where she greeted me, sniffed, and moved on. Soon, she lingered, joining me on the porch for a scratch, and later for a nap on my feet.

She was too big and dignified to sit on my lap or lie across my body, but she was not beyond wiggling and talking when any friend walked through the gate. She made everyone feel like a member of the family, especially me.I love Lady, I shall miss her lying across my foot, perking her ears at her name, and I shall miss her friendship.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Even the pansies smiled.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


The best gifts are timeless

a toy

a bike shirt for the nephew who loves clothesjust-right snacks
an inheritance for the niece before death

Friday, December 24, 2010

Railroad Park

Sometimes, Birmingham does the surprisingly right thing -- like building a Civil Rights Institute and now a downtown park open to all.

Railroad Park runs along four city blocks dividing downtown from the southside. In my childhood, trains competed with billowing smoke and the fiery glow of furnaces smelting ore. Now, in the post-industrial era, folks skate, skateboard, walk, exercise, play frisbee, walk their dogs -- mix and mingle in ways outlawed then.

On Christmas Eve, my niece, two great-nieces, and I wandered through the park, where the homeless and monied, young and old, black and white and hispanic gathered to enjoy the brilliant blue sky and gentle temperature of a mild winter day.
Before she died, my friend Kathy Kemp wrote a lovely article about how Birmingham amazed her. Me, too. I shall return to the park often for a city idyll. (And next time I will have my camera!)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winter's Silhouettes

Winter scherenschnitte.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Solving Puzzles

Research suggests that a proclivity for solving puzzles staves off memory loss, Alzheimer's, or dementia. If so, I should be in good shape, as there is almost nothing I enjoy more than a challenge and the frustratingly slow steps toward conquering it.

The challenge I refer to at this moment is my annual Christmas book for the children.

First, I had to decide on the topic.

Then, I had to decide on the genre.

Next came composition.

Finally, construction.I am feeling powerful, enjoying the rush of completion and pleasure in the work.

Bring it on, Santa!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Now you see it

now you don't.

Big moon Sunday.

No moon Monday.

Fog today.

Atmosphere, thy name is Sewanee.

Monday, December 20, 2010


is exhilarating when it follows creation.

Salt Marsh Tiger Moth

What a mother! She beads

eggs like pearls on grass they need,

knits blade and wing together

to cloak them from a predator.

The Christmas book is done!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December Moon

Moon disk:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Picnik 2

With a desktop on the fritz and no access to Photoshop, Picnik provides an attractive alternative. Pencil sketches for the Christmas book might be just what I'm looking for.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Picnik 1

Exams, a new course, paper reviews, meetings, coaching, Christmas book composition -- all have temporarily replaced photography, except for this: the discovery of a free online photo program called Picnik.
Something more than a mind waster, I hope, though this I couldn't resist.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


as if sky
were inhaling

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

When it's too cold to melt

snow retreats into itself,
incising pockmarks,
frozen inverted orbs
like footsteps
weaving their way into woods.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Natural Glitter

All that glitters is not gold, but may be something better.

Monday, December 13, 2010

And so it begins

winter throws its first party.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Nutcracking Good Time

All over America, adults and children dress up for an evening or afternoon or morning of theatrical dance, whether WRIT LARGE (a la Balanchine) or small (a la name-your-favorite-local-celebrity). Like anything that rings of Christmas commercialism, The Nutcracker experience can be exhausting and, perhaps, even dull.

But not when one's own great-niece performs. Then The Nutcracker becomes miraculous and magical, all because of the youngest Candle Angel.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bringing in the Sky

I cannot have too much sky,
inside or out.

Friday, December 10, 2010

High Wire Act

Vapor trails stripe the sky turning winter flannel into summer seersucker.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


On a cold day, feeling overwhelmed by work, a little cheer goes a long way, especially when it comes in such small packages.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Writer's Block


Even more than the 19-degree temperature. My brain is frozen.

How to make another book for four children that's entertaining, informative, and memorable.

Who gave me this assignment anyway?

Oh yeah. Me.

Stuck, that's what I am, like this flea beetle permanently captured before leaping.The Flea Beetle

Perched atop a slender stalk,
this little bug never balks.
Think he's scared? Why no, you're wrong!
One quick jump and then he's gone!

I'm balking.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A new toy

awaits.2 X 3 photos, printed on sticky paper.

A perfect fit for this year's Christmas book, a tiny collection of tiny poems with tiny pictures of tiny bugs.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

That Time of Year

Christmas lights a-coming now!

My down-the-street neighbors have gone green, an appropriate color for the home of two professors in geology and forestry. Another across the street has looped tiny white lights light a big ribbon across her porch. The Lemon Fair twinkles with colored C-4s, making a little magic on a foggy day.
Give me those lights, lights, lights!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Layered Light at Twilight

Fall by Edward Hirsch

Fall, falling, fallen.
That's the way the season

Changes its tense in the long-haired maples

That dot the road; the veiny hand-shaped leaves

Redden on their branches (in a fiery competition
With the final remaining cardinals) and then

Begin to sidle and float through the air, at last
Settling into colorful layers carpeting the ground.
At twilight the light, too, is layered in the trees
In a season of odd, dusky congruences—a scarlet tanager

And the odor of burning leaves, a golden retriever

Loping down the center of a wide street and the sun
Setting behind smoke-filled trees in the distance,
A gap opening up in the treetops and a bruised cloud

Blamelessly filling the space with purples. Everything

Changes and moves in the split second between summer's

Sprawling past and winter's hard revision, one moment
Pulling out of the station according to schedule,

Another moment arriving on the next platform. It

Happens almost like clockwork: the leaves drift away

From their branches and gather slowly at our feet,

Sliding over our ankles, and the season begins moving

Around us even as its colorful weather moves us,

Even as it pulls us into its dusty, twilit pockets.

And every year there is a brief, startling moment

When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and
Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless

Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air:

It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies;

It is the changing light of fall falling on us.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Accidents

Sometimes, the accidental is more artistic than the arranged.
Call it a "happy accident," and me happy too.