from-the-compost-header

Mud

SpiritualToday my haiku is from December 9th of my book A Haiku Book of Days for Spiritual Seekers, Dreamers, and Other Lovers of Magic and Mystery, one of a 7-book series. The topic for today is: “Mud”

when you fly away
remember us back on earth
still stuck in the mud

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

Abyss

SpiritualToday my haiku is from December 2nd of my book A Haiku Book of Days for Spiritual Seekers, Dreamers, and Other Lovers of Magic and Mystery, one of a 7-book series. The topic for today is: “Abyss”

screams from the abyss
echo in the emptiness
proof there’s nothing there?

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

The Grateful Dog

elk-and-alexAlex Terrgi here. A couple of days ago it was a holiday called Thanksgiving. It consists of a lot of food, which is the best part. But also my human’s family tradition is for everyone to say what they are thankful for. They think this is just for humans, but I think I should join in too. So here is my annual “I am thankful for” list:

I am thankful for:

  • my human, naturally, for her kindness and generosity and love
  • my human’s lap and her bed, which are both soft and warm
  • my human’s granddaughters and grandson – E who is 11, D who is 8, and J who is 5. I get to see them a lot
  • my human’s granddog Jackie Muttmix, who is my best friend even though she’s rambunctious
  • my full food dish
  • the smell of cooking
  • my dog-walker lady who takes me on walks through my neighborhood
  • my neighbor dog, a Scotch Terrier named Wallace
  • the dog park that Jackie and I go to at least once a week
  • the elk who poops in the dog park, so I can roll in it and smell great
  • my full water dish
  • my big red chair in our living room
  • my brown chair in my human’s office
  • my human’s green chair which I snooze on when she’s not looking
  • my squeaky toys, especially when they still have their squeakies

Wow. I have a great life! No wonder I am thankful.

Legacy

GardnersToday my haiku is from November 25th of my book A Haiku Book of Days for Gardeners, Tree-Huggers, and Other Nature Lovers, one of a 7-book series. The topic for today is: “Legacy”

where will the earth be
when your little granddaughter
becomes a grandma?

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

Story # 3 — Speak Out, Speak Up, Preach Love Not Hate

I’ve written about my 8th grade science teacher and my college history professor, both of whom taught me valuable lessons about our dangerous world. Today I will write about the election of 2016 and how another teacher handled her despair, disgust, and anger over the election’s outcome with her students. This teacher is my own daughter.

My daughter is a dedicated middle school teacher, and has been for nearly 15 years. This fact alone tells you what a hero she is to me. I’m absolutely sure I couldn’t do her job without losing my mind. Middle-schoolers can be quite challenging. But she loves her students and is committed to teaching them how to reach their best.

On the morning of November 9th we had a conversation when she was on her way to school. Both of us were dealing with that trifecta of despair, fury, and “what can I do?” My daughter’s concerns were not just about herself and her own daughter, though. She was also concerned about how to handle these emotions with her students. I wish I could say I gave her some great advice, but I was dealing with my own emotions and all I could do was listen and love her.

I needn’t have worried, though. Later that afternoon I read my daughter’s thoughts on her Facebook page. Here they are:

“In this … we must have hope. Today, I will continue to teach my daughter and my students about the ideals that our Constitution and Declaration of Independence stand for. Today, I will continue to teach them that they have the power to stand up for others and for themselves. Today, I will continue to stand against racism, sexism, and heterosexism. Today, I will allow myself to feel dismay and anger. Today, I will continue to be an optimist and not give up the fight for the future. Today, I will be a warrior. Today, I will repeat this statement until I believe it in my heart. Today, I will be a warrior.”

She will not be alone.

 

Free the Creator

free-creatorNext year I’ll be teaching a new class on writing and visual art, titled “Freeing the Creator Within,” with my good friend and amazing mixed-media artist Gwen Delmore. Here’s a snapshot of what we’ll be covering in this 4-week class. If you’re interested, let us know and we’ll let you know when and where the class will be offered.

Through a variety of exercises and techniques, this class helps participants access, explore and share beliefs beneath beliefs. They learn to by-pass internal editors and critics and find the poetry and beauty within themselves.

Each of the four 2-hour classes consists of introductions to new techniques, many choices of in-class writing and art exercises, voluntary sharing, and non-critical feedback. Participants will take home a notebook filled with vignettes, poetry, sketches, paintings, and collages created in class. All materials provided.

Class One: The seven non-rules of writing exploration: controlling the editor and trusting yourself. Play with printed images as you explore who you are.

Class Two: Original details and sensory specifics: it’s a daffodil, not a flower. Explore how concrete images can illustrate emotions and desires.

Class Three: Exploring absurdity and the forbidden: why be polite, politically correct or logical. Tear down your art and build it back up again.

Class Four: Mining & Springboarding: where do you get your ideas? Discover where your inspiration comes from.

Let us know what you think. Would you be interested in a class like this?

Bones

GardnersToday my haiku is from November 18th of my book A Haiku Book of Days for Gardners, Tree-Huggers, and Other Nature Lovers,, one of a 7-book series. The topic for today is: “Bones”

wet leaves hide the earth
naked tree bones scratch the sky
here’s the truth at last

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

Story #2 — Rant On, and Don’t Let the Bastards Win

In April 1968 I was almost 19 and in college at the University of Washington. Like most colleges at the time, it was a hotbed of political and anti-war activism. My major was History, and my favorite professor was a spellbinding lecturer whose specialty was Modern European History. He was a popular professor, and his classes were always full. He lectured a lot about Germany between the wars, pacing back and forth as he talked, getting worked up and angry about not only Hitler and the Nazis, but the businessmen and even average Germans who made deals with and allowed Hitler to take over Germany.

This professor was also well-versed on the troubles and concerns of the sixties in America, and one of the reasons he was so popular was that he was a liberal-leaning anti-war pro-civil rights expounder, although I think he had to be somewhat circumspect so he didn’t lose his job.

It was a few days after the assassination of Martin Luther King in early April 1968 that I saw my professor lose his cool in class. The class was as usual full, every seat taken. In front of us, the professor began his customary pacing from the left to the right and back again. I think the lecture was supposed to be something about Germany after World War I, but he only got a few words out before he began to rant. Not about Germany, but about the assassination of Martin Luther King.

I don’t remember all he said, but I do remember how red his face was and how loud his voice was. I remember how his fury filled that room, making him seem bigger than he actually was. The only words I do remember were his last, right before he stormed out the door. “Don’t give up!” he shouted. “Keep fighting!” shaking his fist in the air. “Don’t EVER let the BASTARDS WIN!”

He still ranks as my favorite professor, and I loved him although I never had a private conversation with him. I took any class he offered. He died a few years ago, at the age of 85. His life was well lived. He made a difference to thousands of lucky students. Including me. And I still remember to keep fighting and never let the bastards win. It is especially something I need to remember today.

Next week Tuesday Nov 22nd I’ll share a story from this year, also about a teacher, my own daughter.

 

Story #1 – The Cuban Missile Crisis, or When I Learned that Adults Are Scared Too

October, 1962. I was 13 and just getting used to 8th grade. My 5th period class was Science, taught by Mrs. S., a severe and strict teacher who most of us kids were scared of. She tolerated “no nonsense”, which seemed to be her favorite phrase. That morning we walked into her classroom and took our seats, as she had trained us to do. Mrs. S. was not standing up by the chalkboard as she usually was. Instead she was sitting at her desk, staring down at her hands. She said nothing.

After we had all sat down, we started nervously glancing around, because Mrs. S. was still sitting and staring and saying nothing. Then suddenly she reached under her desk and pulled out her portable radio and placed it on her desk. She turned it on and the stressed and excited voice of a news reporter filled the room, spouting words like “nuclear bomb” and “Third World War.” Mrs. S. placed her hands together on her desk and then her head fell forward onto her hands. She just sat there, listening to the news, only her hair visibly shaking over her hands. Once in a while we heard her gasp.

She sat like that for the entire 50 minutes of the class. None of us students said anything. We just listened to the fear-filled voice of the reporter, and the soft sobs of Mrs. S.

That was the first time I realized that the adults of the world were not actually in control. That they too were scared, that they too could lose hope. That none of us were really safe. It was just another one of their lies.

Tomorrow Nov 17th I’ll share my story from 1968, also about a teacher who taught me a valuable lesson.

 

The Trifecta of Emotions

On election night of November 8, 2016, I fell into a pit of despair. When I awoke in the middle of the night my despair had turned to fury. And when I got up the next morning I was determined. Determined to do whatever I can to be a change agent for good. For instance, I made a list of organizations that I will increase my support for, such as Planned Parenthood, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and The Sierra Club.

But what I do best is write. I write because I love the art form, and for nearly 20 years I’ve written for my living. “For a living” is a good phrase, but I’m changing it now to “for our lives” – my life and the lives of my children, grandchildren, and all the people I love or who live in this country with me. Artists of all kinds are often change agents. And boy do we need them right now.

I was born in 1949, one of those zillions of Baby Boomers who by the sheer weight of our numbers changed the direction of the country. We were the generation who came of age in the 1960s and 70s, the era of huge cultural change that we contributed to. We were on fire to change the hypocrisy and uncover the lies of “the establishment”. Civil rights, Anti-war, free love, women’s rights – we were angry and scared and determined, and these were our rallying cries. (We also wore funny clothes.)

So 2016 is not the only time I have felt despair, fury, and determination. In a series of blog posts, starting today, I will be sharing some of my experiences with the American political and cultural systems that has made me (and many other Boomers) the grandparents we are today. Sharing our stories is important. We are all a part of history, whether we know it or not. For those reading this who are younger than me, you too may be a grandparent someday, and your grandchildren will ask you what you did, said, or thought about the 2016 presidential election. Write your thoughts and feelings down, while they are fresh. (I also will be offering a free ghostwriting service for these stories, for those who hate to write. It is something I can do, and do well. More about this later.)

Come back tomorrow to Facebook or here on my blog www.FromTheCompost.com for Story #1, featuring my first introduction to a terrifying episode in American history, the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was 13.