National Poetry Month #19: To All the Mothers I Know

 Mom, Dad, and me doing dishes at Grandma Woolum's

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking

When you thought I wasn't looking
You hung my first painting on the refrigerator
And I wanted to paint another.

When you thought I wasn't looking
You fed a stray cat
And I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking
You baked a birthday cake just for me
And I knew that little things were special things.

When you thought I wasn't looking
You said a prayer
And I believed there was a God
 That I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn't looking
You kissed me good-night
And I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn't looking
I saw tears come from your eyes
And I learned that sometimes things hurt-
But that it’s alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking
You smiled
And it made me want to look that pretty too.
When you thought I wasn't looking,
You cared
And I wanted to be everything I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking-
I looked…
And wanted to say thanks
For all those things you did
When you thought I wasn’t looking.

- Mary Rita Schilke Korzan

pictures: sister Carol first birthday, brother Bill 22nd birthday, brother Bill 4th birthday. Lots of great cakes.

National Poetry Month #18: Thank you Judith Viorst for "The Pleasures of Ordinary Life"

Being such an avid fan of poetry I have lots of favorites. I have LOTS of favorites, but this one by Judith Viorst really speaks to me. It reminds me to enjoy the simple pleasures of ordinary life. Those pleasures are often what I photograph like the simple pansy above.  Enjoy a few photos while reading the poem.

a yellow bell found in the wild
the Catholic church on the Kalispel Reservation

The Pleasures of Ordinary Life

I've had my share of necessary losses,
Of dreams I know no longer can come true.
I'm done now with the whys and the becauses.
It's time to make things good, not just make do.
It's time to stop complaining and pursue
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

I used to rail against my compromises.
I yearned for the wild music, the swift race.
But happiness arrived in new disguises:
Sun lighting a child's hair. A friend's embrace.
Slow dancing in a safe and quiet place.
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

I'll have no trumpets, triumphs, trails of glory.
It seems the woman I've turned out to be
Is not the heroine of some grand story.
But I have learned to find the poetry
In what my hands can touch, my eyes can see.
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

Young fantasies of magic and of mystery
Are over. But they really can't compete
With all we've built together: A long history.
Connections that help render us complete.
Ties that hold and heal us. And the sweet,
Sweet pleasures of an ordinary life.

Judith Viorst

red wing blackbird in our feeder
evening on the deck
beautiful butter with a viola dressing it up

Beautiful Corner of the World: Road Trips

Yesterday we did a stop for lunch at Frater Lake on Tiger Highway, northeastern  Washington state. 

JEJ and I love to take drives and short road trips. We decided years ago that the best places to enjoy were in our own beautiful corner of the world. It is a cheaper way to travel and it gives us an appreciation of northeastern and north central Washington state, northern Idaho, southern British Columbia, and  western Montana. We have seen incredible scenery, taken hundreds of pictures, and enjoyed the drives, conversation, food, and the companionship of our dogs.

We took a refreshment break after exploring the grotto yesterday. We had saved our bottle of wine from the Tulip Valley Winery for a special occasion.

Earlier this year I got really interested in the International Selkirk Loop. We knew all about it, and had been to many places along the loop, but I thought it would be fun to visit a new place on the Selkirk Loop each month. Trips so far have included Bonner's Ferry, Sandpoint, sourthern British Columbia, Kalispel Lake, and the Pend Oreille River. Here are some photos of our road trips. If you want to learn more about the International Selkirk Loop go here. Above are the tundra swans.

 British Columbia in February and Connie's Resturant in Sandpoint in January.

National Poetry Month #17: To Say Nothing But Thank You

 When I watched my students work hard to make Earth Day a success I say thank you. When I return home tired and sore and see my gardens awakening to spring I also say thank you. When I soak in the tub to remove the Earth Day covering of garbage smells I again say thank you. 

To Say Nothing But Thank You

JEANNE LOHMANNhas published eight collections of poetry and two books of prose, including Dancing in the Kitchen: A Prose Collection (Fithian Press) and Calls from a Lighted House: Poems(Daniel & Daniel Publishers). At nearly eighty-six, she relishes walks through her Olympia, Washington, neighborhood and remains active in the local poetry community.
All day I try to say nothing but thank you, 
breathe the syllables in and out with every step I 
take through the rooms of my house and outside into 
a profusion of shaggy-headed dandelions in the garden
where the tulips’ black stamens shake in their crimson cups.
I am saying thank you, yes, to this burgeoning spring 
and to the cold wind of its changes. Gratitude comes easy
after a hot shower, when my loosened muscles work, 
when eyes and mind begin to clear and even unruly 
hair combs into place.
Dialogue with the invisible can go on every minute, 
and with surprising gaiety I am saying thank you as I 
remember who I am, a woman learning to praise 
something as small as dandelion petals floating on the
steaming surface of this bowl of vegetable soup, 
my happy, savoring tongue.

National Poetry Month #16: Woman Who Loves Gardening

Days like today get me in the mood for digging in the dirt. Bulbs are coming up, the weather is warming, we are bathed in green. At a writing workshop a few years ago I was inspired to pen this poem. Picture above is at the Portland Rose Garden, June 2013.

Woman Who Loves Gardening

I have dirty nails
and rarely paint them, living out
my long growing season in the flower garden, trellises
giving view to clematis, climbing Peace
where aromatic flowers
grow in profusion.
I pull the weeds
in the early morning
gritting my teeth
wiping sweat from my brow
and listening
to footsteps of my husband
coming in range to help.
Sun makes my face red;
each sniff with my nose
leaves lily pollen behind.
When I rest it’s the beauty
that causes anxiety to shake loose
from a woman in need
of a quiet place to retreat.

Christy Woolum

June 20,2007

National Poetry Month #15: From Triumph to Grief

When a student overcomes obstacles we celebrate! We cheered J.S. on as she was escorted to graduation last spring by her beautiful child.  Today we cried for her. Today our school was filled with sadness. Yesterday she lost that beautiful child in a tragic car accident.  We pray for strength for her family, our school family, and especially for  J.S. 
"Though her smile is gone forever
And her hand we cannot touch
Still we had so many memories,
Of the one we loved so much,
Her memory is our keepsake,
With which we’ll never part;
God has her in His keeping,
We have her in our heart."

National Poetry Month #14 : Caroline Kennedy and Joy Harjo

During National Poetry Month I like to give shout-outs to poetry anthologies I enjoy and recommend. Caroline Kennedy's most recent anthology is entitled "She Walks in Beauty, A Woman's Journey Through Poems." I love the selections that honor the life of women. As we celebrate Earth Day this poem by Joy Harjo was a perfect selection for today. I wish i had a spectacular eagle photo to accompany it.

Eagle Poem

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

National Poetry Month #13: Mary Oliver at her Best

It is hard to single out favorite poems by poets you admire. There are so many poems, so many messages. Often the meaning of the poem hits me at a time that I can relate to a strong message.  That is the case today. Enjoy one my favorites by Mary Oliver. Once we understand our natural timeline in life, we move on.

“The Journey,” by Mary Oliver, from Dreamwork (Atlantic Monthly Press).

The Journey One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice—
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world
determined to do
the only thing you could do—
determined to save
the only life you could save.

National Poetry Month #12: Easter Hymn

memorial on Bow highway, Skagit Valley

There are so many hymns that speak to my heart at Easter. This is a favorite.

I Know that My Redeemer Lives
By: Samuel Medley
I know that my Redeemer lives!
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever living head!
He lives triumphant from the grave;
He lives eternally to save;
He lives exalted, throned above;
He lives to rule his Church in love.
He lives to grant me rich supply;
He lives to guide me with his eye;
He lives to comfort me when faint;
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears;
He lives to wipe away my tears;
He lives to calm my troubled heart;
He lives all blessings to impart.
He lives to bless me with his love;
He lives to plead for me above;
He lives my hungry soul to feed;
He lives to help in time of need.
He lives, my kind, wise, heavenly friend;
He lives and loves me to the end;
He lives, and while he lives, I’ll sing;
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King!
He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives, and I shall conquer death;
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.
He lives, all glory to his name!
He lives, my savior, still the same;
What joy this blest assurance gives:
I know that my Redeemer lives!

National Poetry Month #11: Photographer

 This is dedicated to my brother Bill Woolum, my favorite photographer.

Light has limits. What he can't see
He believes in. He tacks up background.
Shadows explode from a flash.
Winter trees, victims.

Noon comes to find him
At home in the color blue
Whistling in a minor key.
In his dark room, he seeks clarity-
Turns to acid
In unmarked bottles.

Light in the abstract bores him.
His shapes labor against light,
Make gestures in space like mimes.

At midnight he puzzles what presence eludes him.
The space between trees,
The moon's other side,
Eclipse spins from his thumb.
Sunrise. Sunset.
He can never get it right.
- Carol Muske

Black and white photos by brother Bill. I am responsible for the pictures of Bill taking pictures.

National Poetry Month #10: Thank You

Two words that resonated with me today: thank you.


by W. S. Merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you 
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings 
we are running out of the glass rooms 
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky 
and say thank you 
we are standing by the water thanking it 
smiling by the windows looking out 
in our directions 

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging 
after funerals we are saying thank you 
after the news of the dead 
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you 
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators 
remembering wars and the police at the door 
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you 
in the banks we are saying thank you 
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us 
our lost feelings we are saying thank you 
with the forests falling faster than the minutes 
of our lives we are saying thank you 
with the words going out like cells of a brain 
with the cities growing over us 
we are saying thank you faster and faster 
with nobody listening we are saying thank you 
we are saying thank you and waving 
dark though it is

National Poetry Month #9 : Favoring Billy Collins

Billy Collins came through today and provided a priceless poem to describe one of those rare, perfect spring days. 

by Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.
Source: Poetry (April 2000). 

A Time to Plant

Today was the first time I got my hands into the dirt and did some planting. I started this week-end with containers since there are not many plants safe to put out in the ground yet. I did some plant shopping over spring break and today I mixed soil, added fertilizer and got the plants into the containers.
Primroses are such warriors in a spring garden. I love those first blossoms after a long winter. I love the color of the one at the top of the post.I discovered a new primrose on my recent trip. This is called a Drumstick Primrose.Of course I had to buy it. I love the pansies at the base of the container.

Pansies are another early spring favorite of mine. So many colors and "faces". I always know they will endure cooler weather.

I brought home two blooming shrubs from my trip also. I am just going to keep them in their original pots for now not to disrupt their blooming. I couldn't resist their bright blooms.

National Poetry Month #8: Fresh

On a trip to the western part of Washington state this week I was immersed, surrounded, and in awe of natural beauty each and every day. This poem was a perfect choice for today. With a series of my photos taken in  the northwest corner of  Washington state, here is the poem  "Fresh". (Photos were taken near Samish Island and Bow, WA.)


To move
Needing to be
nowhere else.
Wanting nothing
from any store.
To lift something
you already had
and set it down in
a new place.
Awakened eye
seeing freshly.
What does that do to
the old blood moving through
its channels?

"Fresh" by Naomi Shihab Nye, from You & Yours. © BOA Editions, 2005.

National Poetry Month #7: Stay Gold

This isn't the name of the poem by Robert Frost, but it is the phrase that always resonated with me when I read this poem because of the characters in the novel "The Outsiders". As I walked through tulip and daffodil fields today in the Skagit Valley of Washington state one line that kept coming back to me was "Stay gold Ponyboy.. stay gold."

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay. 
Robert Frost

National Poetry Month #6: Traveling the Rivers of Washington

I wrote this poem as I listened to the names of the rivers in Washington state. As I traveled across a good portion of Washington state today, I photographed the rivers.  Today I saw the Columbia, Skykomish, Wenachee, Okanogan, and Methow.  Above is the mighty Columbia

Traveling the Rivers of Washington

In Washington state
 rivers flow out of the mountains,
connect to guide travelers,
 merge with the ocean,
and roll on to the Columbia.

Coastal Indians paddled the Nisqually, Nooksack, Quinault;
Northern bands camped on the Kettle, Colville, Sanpoil, Okanogan;
Explorers relied on the SpokaneYakima, and Palouse;
Missionaries journeyed close to the Touchet, Tucannon, and Walla Walla;

Locals love the sound of Methow, Pend Oreille, Puyallup;
Wynoochee, Chehalis, Skykomish, and Elwha;
But when it comes to spelling them-
My favorites are Green, Snake, Lewis, and Rock.

Christy Woolum

National Poetry Month #5: House or Home?

When does a house become a home? I am such a nester I can make my car, a motel room, a guest room, or an RV home in no time. Home is where your husband, family, dogs, and heart is.

He Has Lived In Many Houses


furnished rooms, flats, a hayloft,
a tent, motels, under a table,
under an overturned rowboat, in a villa (briefly) but not,
as yet, a yurt. In these places
he has slept, eaten,
put his forehead to the window glass,
looking out. He's in a stilt-house now,
the water passing beneath him half the day;
the other half it's mud. The tides
do this: they come, they go,
while he sleeps, eats, puts his forehead
to the window glass.
He's moving soon: his trailer to a trailer park,
or to the priory to live among the penitents
but in his own cell,
with wheels, to take him, when it's time
to go, to: boathouse, houseboat

with a little motor, putt-putt,
to take him across the sea
or down the river
where at night, anchored by a sandbar
at the bend,
he will eat, sleep, and press his eyelids
to the window
of the pilothouse
until the anchor-hauling hour
when he'll embark again
toward his sanctuary, harborage, saltbox,
-Thomas Lux

National Poetry Month #4: Ask Me

Palouse River at Palouse Falls

I love this poem for so many reasons. Every time I read it, a different layer of meaning emerges. I always love what the river says.
Chewack River, Methow Valley

Ask Me
Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.