For some reason I can add sidebars, but not new posts. Please check back later. I have been working on a variety of things including switching my blog soon from this one, which was set up with my now-defunct West Wisconsin Telcom account. I hope to have my new blog through Gmail up soon. I will provide a link and announcement when I've got everything straight. 7/2/11

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Recently read: Robert K. Tanenbaum’s Malice

I love this series about New York District Attorney Butch Karp and his hard-boiled wife Marlene Ciampi. I have read every one of the books—all are filled with believable characters, whether the adolescent angst-ridden daughter Lucy, an insane (or maybe not) religious leader who lives in the sewers of the city, a Vietnamese soldier, and the rest of the good guys. And if you think those sound intriguing, what till you meet the bad guys.

In this book, Karp and his family and friends fight City Hall (a frequent theme), terrorists, and attempted assassinations. They are aided in their struggle by Basque fugitives, the Mole People and their leader, and a Native American tracker. On the bad guy side of the ledger, we have dishonest officials, a corrupt national athletic association and evil in high places. This is a page-turner, even though it sounds like some grade B movie from 1950s. Tanenbaum is a lawyer who has held a variety of highly placed positions. Oh, and did I mention that he is an excellent writer?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Copyright series

Everyone now—not just a writer—needs to be aware of copyright restrictions and laws. The music industry has been in the news a lot recently about rights to songs. The Internet and bloggers, too, are testing, whether intentionally or not, the current laws. In education, students and teachers also need to know the limits and rules of using sources. I am still appalled at the news story recently about the University of Texas-San Antonio students who wrote an honor code blasting plagiarizing—and plagiarized from Brigham Young University’s code. Geesh! Brigham Young had used another source—and properly credited it.

I’ll be posting a regular series for a while now on some copyright basics. Because much of what students do involves writing, the information can also apply to them. If you write a church bulletin or design a greeting card using a poem to sell at a local crafts fair, you should be aware of the laws. One of my pet peeves is the common use of cartoons. Unless you have written permission from the estate of Charles Schulz or from Gary Larson himself, you cannot copy his hilarious cartoon into the school newsletter.

For this series, I’ll be using as my main source the web site of the Library of Congress on U.S. Copyright law at

Friday, April 25, 2008

The sentence game

According to the sentence game web site, “The Sentence Game (sometimes known as Eat Poop You Cat) has often been described as a cross between the games Pictionary and Telephone. It could just as well be described as a cross between a Rorschach test and a graphic novel, although for some reason it never is.”

Visit the web site at This would be another way to pump up your creativity, as well as enhancing your skill with 6-word memoirs! What did we ever do before we had the web at our beck and call with all these fascinating games, sources, and ideas?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Recently read: Suzy Gershman’s C’est La Vie

This memoir by the author of the Born to Shop books is delightful. In it, Gershman recounts her first year after her husband’s unexpected death. I was not familiar with her other books (I’m not particularly born to shop), and was enchanted by her humor, frankness, and insight. The book recounts her adventures as she moves to Paris to start a new life.
This paragraph from the first chapter is brilliant in the way it succinctly gives her reasons for choosing France, and also showcases her wry style: “I knew I could never live in Florida. I have naturally curly hair. Besides, France is a smarter place to spend your golden years: it has socialized medicine and the prunes are soaked in cognac.”
I love it!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

Celebrate the earth today and throughout the week. Turn the TV off. Walk instead of driving to work, if that’s at all feasible. Read an article about conservation. Plant a tree or even just pop a seed in a pot on your windowsill. Paint a picture with lots of green in it. Write a poem. Or do what I just did--find a poem someone else wrote. This snippet from Willaim Blake's poem "Songs of Experience" blends of trees and Holy Words, an apt image today:

Hear the voice of the Bard!
Who present, past and future sees;
Whose ears have heard
The Holy Word
That walked among the ancient trees.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Haiku and Roger McGough

Haiku is form of 19th century Japanese poetry, and it also has many dedicated English-speaking (and writing) poets. I am not a big poetry fan, but I do like haiku. Haiku written in English have three lines: the first line usually has five syllables, the second has seven, and the third has three. I just ran across this haiku by 20st century English poet Roger McGough. I thought his haiku was very amusing, and sums up many poets’ feelings about haiku:

The only problem
with haiku is that you just
get started and then
. . .

Saturday, April 19, 2008


The Jewish festival of Passover starts at sundown and continues for seven day. It begins on the 15th day of the month of Nisan (today), which is the first month in the Hebrew calendar. Passover includes various prayer services and foods that all have meaning, as Passover remembers the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Despite being someone who was raised in no organized religion, I appreciate the importance of having rituals and ceremonies that go back in history, commemorate beliefs held by generations, and provide a framework for the past, present and future.

Friday, April 18, 2008

New views of time

My altered book pages titled, "What color is it now?" To see more detail, click on the image.

Recently, I was listening to a reading by Marney Makridakis, the founder of the web site Artella (see ). In it, she proposed new ways to think of time. One that really struck me was when she asked us to consider the question: what if time was color? Other suggestions followed, such as viewing life as a painting, or as a problem as a new color in your life painting. Of course, my mind then drifted to Carole King’s song “Tapestry,” some people’s ability to see auras, the colors of seasons and holidays and on through other color concepts.

I have been pursuing this train of thought for a month or two, and have created some collages answering the question “what time is it?” with responses of colors. It’s been an interesting experience, especially for a writer. One piece of effective advice for anyone—whether engaged in a field traditionally viewed as “artistic” or in a field where creativity is not usually considered—is to look at things from a different medium or in a different way. For writers, this can mean to look at things through a visual medium such as pictures, drawings, colors—anything but through words.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Wisconsin Regional Writers’ Association (WRWA)

The WRWA is for all writers—professionals and not-yet-professionals. The Association and its members are “dedicated to self-improvement, service to others, and perpetuating the writer’s craft.” Its mission is “to encourage literary expression, appreciation of the arts, Wisconsin culture, education and preservation of local history.” It sponsors contests, an annual awards banquet, and conferences. Scroll down for information on its conferences, and see The Money Corner for information on WRWA’s Jade Ring Contest. Visit the WRWA web site at Its Writer-2-Writer section of the site is a good source of tips for writers, such as marketing on the Internet, and a book list for writers to read.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Recently read: John Brady’s A Stone of the Heart

Brady has written numerous novels featuring Inspector Matt Minogue of the Garda Murder Squad in Dublin. I never tire of reading these books. Minogue is the sort of detective I like, just sensitive enough, and full of human frailty. I’ve noticed as the mystery/police procedural genre has progressed over the decades, the hard-boiled single male personified by Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe has morphed into the sensitive and brilliant man, of which Minogue is one. In this book, a murder in the hallowed grounds of Trinity College brings the “town” into the world of the “gown” (that'll make sense to those of you who are familiar with that expression). Drugs, the IRA, money, and hereditary privilege are at odds with Minogue and his team in their search for justice. As usual, Brady is well worth reading.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Janice Taylor and the 21-Day-Blow-the-Fat-Cells-from-Your-Mind cure: Week 1

Visit the blog of Our Lady of Weightloss at

I adore Janice Taylor. She’s funny, a great writer, and a great artist. Visit her web site at She’s got a blog, too, which you should check out. Her blog not only has images (by Taylor) of Our Lady of Weight Loss, but her food collages will charm you. She has tons of hilarious videos posted to her blog (I haven’t learned how to do that yet, mainly because I have no videos much less hilarious ones), and her jigsaw puzzle is her own art. While you’re visiting her blog, be sure to join the Kick in the Tush club—it’s free.
The 21-Day cure is reasonably priced, and Taylor is an excellent coach. I'm now on Day 8 of the cure. Just the laughing I’m doing is burning off calories! I'm receiving Mental-Cises to do daily, as well as motivational and inspirational essays from Taylor. I have already had a number of insights into my eating-and-exercising behaviors. She's got a new book coming out next month, which I'm eagerly awaiting. See my posting on November 25, 2007, for a review of her first book.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

New workshops, conferences and contests

Scroll down to the events section of my blog for newly added opportunities. These offer programs to improve your writing while enjoying nature in Northern Michigan or Canada. Keep scrolling to The Money Corner for new poetry and short story contests due in May. Good luck!

Friday, April 11, 2008

My father turned 87

Carl and my father having a celebratory birthday drink.

Yesterday we spent the day celebrating my father’s birthday—87 years young. We went to the Minneapolis Art Institute ( ), where my father has been a member for 65 years. We ate a magnificent lunch in institute’s restaurant, and then lingered in the permanent collections of European and American paintings. We loved the fact we ran into my friend Victoria. And hated the fact that we had to drive home through the metropolitan traffic in weather conditions that included rain, freezing rain, and snow. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful day!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Alternative health care: a viable option

Everyone, whether supporters of alternative health care or traditional Western medicine, will tell you to eat your fruits and veggies. Image from

I have faith in Western medicine, but I also believe that alternative health care is effective. Because I am a heart patient, when I supplement my traditional care with other forms, I like to go to practitioners that are careful to furnish services that will not interfere with what my MD wants me to do. One of the many things that amazed me when I moved up to this predominately rural part of Wisconsin from Madison was the number of alternative health care options available.

Wherever you live, check out what’s available in biofeedback, rekei, color therapy, reflexology, massage therapy, acupuncture, angel therapy, foot detox treatments, homeopathy, aromatherapy, hypnotherapy and other practices. Chiropractors are often excellent sources for information, as are yoga centers and natural food stores.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

April is National Poetry Month.

Poems are not just for greeting cards.

The Academy of American Poets took all the official holiday-making steps, including getting an act through Congress. The result was that beginning in 1996, April is designated a month for celebrating poetry. The Academy’s aim was to increase public and media awareness of poetry, poets, and our poetic heritage. Excellent goal. To learn more about the Academy, visit their web site at

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Michael Perry: words to music

Headwinded, Michael Perry’s CD, is available at

Recently we went to a Michael Perry concert (yes, a concert, not a book-reading) at the Mabel Tainter Memorial Theater in Menomonie. He and his band, The Longbeds, gave a wonderful performance of original bluesy, folksy, and down-homesy songs, most of it original.

Perry was the very first author for whom I wrote a WI Center for the Book grant, and he was the first author to speak at our Guild’s Lake Menomon Writers Series. We, along with everyone in Wisconsin and points east and west, love Perry’s books and sense of humor. I don’t know why I was surprised to learn he is also a musician and songwriter—those are short steps for a poet. You can buy/download at

Check out his web site at for news and YouTube clips from his Clodhopper Report on Wisconsin Public Television. One of my favorites is “Tractor,” which is vintage Perry (and has lots of vintage tractors). If you’re wondering why “sneezing cow,” well, Perry is a hands-on kind of guy and he is generous with passing along the wisdom he has gathered. His advice through bitter experience is to never stand behind a sneezing cow. I plan to take that advice. As well as to keep reading his books and going to his concerts.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Recently read: William Kent Krueger’s Copper River

Every novel in Krueger’s series with the sometimes-sheriff, Cork O’Connor is always satisfying. Set in northern Minnesota (usually—this one is actually in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which is geologically part of Wisconsin), Krueger always recreates the beauty and starkness of the north woods and its people. A sequel to Mercy Falls, the book follows O’Connor as he is on the run from a Chicago gangster’s hit men. He takes shelter with his cousin and her son. His arrival is fortuitous, because young teens are missing and bodies are turning up. As usual, Krueger is worth reading.

I met Krueger last year when he and the rest of Minnesota Crime Wave spoke at our Writers Guild. The Crime Wave deserves its own posting, as do the other writers Ellen Hart and Carl Brookins. I’ll be writing more on all of them. If you can’t wait, check out their web site at

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Crane count

Each spring, Carl and I, armed with binoculars, head out at a dreadfully early hour to participate in the Annual Midwest Crane Count. We volunteered for the count soon after we moved here, and have made it one of our spring rituals. The first year Carl and Sharpie spotted one flying up our valley, while I saw two soaring north above our house. It’s a good thing we had that thrill because we’ve not seen any since. We keep trying, though. This year the official count day is April 19. For more information on the annual count, or cranes in general, visit the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin, or check the web site at If you are interested in participating, contact the foundation to find out how to get in touch with the coordinator in your area. He or she will give you the official Crane Count sheets, and training (if you need it). Carl has already seen a few as he drives Interstate 94 to Madison, so we're once again optimistic we'll see some on Crane Count day again.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fool’s Day

I’ve never been one to perpetrate jokes on any day of the week, but I do like some of the humorous things that show up in the media. Also, my dad—who is a source of effortless puns—tends to outdo himself today. Although the exact origins of the April Fool’s Day tradition are murky, one early reference to it is in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, where the Nun’s Priest’s Tale describes two fools on April 1. Other April notes: the first week of April is Library Week and also Read-a-Roadmap-Week. April 30 ends the month of April Fools appropriately—it is National Honesty Day.