Lost And Found


As you might know, from the last time I was here, I am working on a poetry manuscript with a definite deadline. Have completed two-thirds of said manuscript, but when trying to line up a list of poems for the third section, I realized there were some rather large gaps. Finally remembered that I had created a memory stick of lots of poetry, several years ago. Went looking. Found five sticks and had to check through each one. Two were all photos, one was prose, another a mash-up of prose, photos, and a few poems. Finally found the one I was looking for, the one with all the poetry.

Have spent the last two hours reading through and printing out poems I had forgotten I’d ever written. More than a few are ideal for my purposes, and that makes for a problem. There are way too many of them for the number of pages I am limited to. Some of them would be great additions to those already “finished” first sections. Obviously, I have created for more work for myself than I intended. All I wanted was a few extra poems to fill out that final part of the manuscript. Instead, I’m afraid I have a whole new manuscript to deal with.

Meanwhile, I got a large tote bag full of books from the library, mostly by my favorite author, Dean Koontz. When I need a break from the manuscript and the templates I am creating, I curl up in my bedroom chair and read. In the novel, The City, Koontz makes a statement I can only agree with. He writes that “a life isn’t just one story, but thousands of them.”

Having spent the last several hours, reading through the ‘distilled moments’ of a major part of my existence, I was forcefully led to believe that reality. I sometimes think of my poems as Cliff Notes, I want and need to remember. And those poems took me through years of memory.

An appearance in Juvenile Court that had come about because I had brought battery charges against my youngest daughter, and a little over a year later, the poem she asked me to write and read at her wedding. An encounter with an eagle that had me realizing how fragile the freedom is that she has come to represent. Poems I wrote about my mother, in her final years, and friends I haven’t seen in over a decade. My fascination with Lilith and her mythology, and all I have learned from the natural world around me. Even poems I assigned in the classroom and joined with my students in working through that creative process. The list goes on and on.

So yes, I have a thousand or more stories, but have to pick and choose which will appear on a hundred pages of poetry. Am I sorry that I went looking for that memory stick (really good name for that little device)?  A very small part of me is, but has been expelled on a few sighs of frustration. The much larger part of my person is simply grateful that this old woman even remembered that it existed and then found it.

Yes, it means much more work, but that work will be done amid a far deeper and richer tapestry than what I had before. I can only thank that same old woman for having thought enough of her work to save it.

Note: Image is a photo put through the kaleidoscope app. I chose it because it is so rich and deep with color, like those forgotten poems on that memory stick.

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In My Own Words

HOMEOFFICE - dscn4434a


I now have my hard drive, from my old computer, transferred into this new computer. Have the poetry manuscript I was working on before my life exploded and I moved into these new digs. Have been working on it and it is coming together nicely. Also working on the templates, and reading when I need a break.

Today, I pulled up yet another file from that old hard drive and read something I had written a year ago last August. Whew! There is nothing like being slapped in the face with your own words. A bit like the ice-bucket challenge, I am assuming. It certainly cleared my head and reminded me that I am not alone in any of my endeavors. The Universe is right here with me.

I’m going to copy and paste the letter I wrote back then. I’m sure I am not the only one who has ever encountered that place I was in. It’s a bit long, so you might need a cup of coffee (or your beverage of choice) to get through it.

August 14, 2014

Okay, so here I am, stuck again. Just wasted a couple of hours avoiding what I have managed to avoid for weeks now. Getting back to work on the manuscript. Why the hell am I doing that? I flirt with all the ideas but nothing gets me past or beyond my own emotional/mental handicap. I drift away, even though the commitment is stronger than ever because I know that if I don’t follow through this time, there probably won’t be a next time. I’m just too old not to be aware of that. What the hell am I so damned scared about?

1. I am afraid of the disappointment. What if no one reads it, except a few die hard friends who can’t say no?

2. Who will I piss off because I am being as honest as I know how to be? Will this finally close the door on my nominal family membership? I have been quasi shut down ever since Mom died because of what happened afterward. Will I shut down completely this time?

3. Who really gives a shit about this, other than me?

4. Do I even know what a good poem is? I watched that black woman yesterday, reading her “Period Poem” and cringed at how far away from that reality I am. She actually used the phrase “motherf#cker” a couple of times and a few others. Was it a good poem? Yes, in many ways it was, but I thought she weakened it with some of that verbiage. I know there are some who would say that might be the only way to get the full short span of attention of those she is actually addressing (using their own colorful lingo), but doesn’t she weaken and lessen the impact of her own person and stance by placing herself on that lower rung of whatever food chain these imbeciles live at? Her use of vulgarity might get their attention for a moment, but is that all she wishes to accomplish? Why demean herself, when all she might accomplish is to be laughed at, or worse, create an enemy out of someone who probably carries a loaded weapon? And this isn’t helping me get where I want to be, which is working steadily at creating my own book of poetry.

5. My poetry, for better or worse, is my poetry. Only I can tell this story, sing these songs, make these particular poems. The first time Mom read my poetry, she told me that maybe when I got good at this stuff, I could write about something else, other than me. Never happened and it never will. Does that mean that I’ll never be good at this? Who the hell knows?

6. The letter poem I wrote to Dad, the one he never spoke to me about. Put it away in a drawer and never said a word. How do I deal with that reality? Did I hurt him with my memories? Certainly didn’t mean to…chose the funnier ones for just that reason. But, he’s dead for over thirty years now, and I will never know. Never. I really needed him to say, “Thanks Punkin.” But he didn’t and I will never know what that silence means to him, or to me.

But, I have to remember that we might be even on that one. He slapped my face once. I deliberately lied to him, knowing full well that he knew I was lying, and he, who was never angry with me, slapped my mouth hard for doing so. I went to my room, crawled into bed and curled up in a fetal position. Twenty minutes later, he stood behind me and apologized. And that was when I never said a word, didn’t acknowledge him or his apology with so much as a nod of my head. And have always regretted that moment of teen-aged angst and pride. Silly and stupid. But does that makes us even, or just plain human beings?

7. The manuscript was going along just fine, until I hit the poems about Dad’s death. That’s when it all got hinky and I started drifting ever so slowly away. First of all, the emotional level. That wasn’t hard to deal with. I know my father loved me, he told me that when he was dying. It was all the other bullshit that surrounded that experience. My siblings’ need to make sure I didn’t make a scene or somehow act inappropriately. I was a full-grown forty year old female with four children of my own, and yet, both my brother and older sister had to waste time making sure they curtailed what I might say or do. But, there were balances to all of that. The phone call to the funeral home, during the wake. Asking specifically for me. A cousin crying because he wouldn’t be able to make it. Younger sister calling out my name when Dad finally breathed his last and then phoning me two days later to say she hadn’t slept because she was so afraid that Dad might be angry with her. And my Mother, hugging me when I left and saying very clearly that she didn’t know what they’d have done without me there to be his nurse and to support all of them. And all of the shared memories and stories I was told about my Dad by long ago neighborhood friends who came to show their respect.

8. Going home and back to school. That first class and Dr. S’s harangue aimed directly at me and whatever poetry I might have written during that time span. The utter silence in that room. The man’s hateful words and his need to abuse me verbally. But, I survived and grew through the process. Came to know and respect my true mentor and relished his support and encouragement. But it cost me those poems (years later, I believed I had burned them in a bonfire). They are the place I am stuck in, questioning my skills and abilities, and all the knowledge I have gained throughout these many years.

9. Have found myself waiting for some sort of sign, some way through this mess. Some way around the depression that is sure to follow if I don’t act soon. And it came, yesterday. A phone call from an old and dear friend whom I haven’t spoken to in far too long. Told her just a bit of what has been going on and she stopped me cold with my own words. She reminded me of something I had taught her how to do many, many years ago. How to enclose those negative voices that come to plague any forward movement. I have refined that a bit since then, using words to fight words.

The dictionary definition for the word sentimental has four defining steps, all of which pertain to the use of sentiment, or an appeal to tender or romantic feelings. I have no problem with that. I’m writing poetry and that is what much of poetry is about: appealing to the senses and feelings of those who read it. Distilling that sentiment so that others might learn or grow from what they understand of the moments I distill in my poems

What I found as an antonym was far more direct. The only word that was offered as an opposite was the word dispassionate. Lacking passion and perhaps feeling and sentiment. Poetry is distilled passion. A blending of metaphor, simile, sensuous imagery and much more, allowed to set over time to create a certain level of potency: a sharper awareness, a combination of learned knowledge that is heightened with experience. I certainly have all of that and more. I have always said that the poems on my blog are rough drafts.

It is time to write a new letter to my father.

This is where my self-talk ended. I was amazed and had forgotten all about this little missive, yet now know that the Universe stepped in and worked it all out.

  1. My former spouse passed away and because I never remarried, I received death benefits from Social Security. It doubled my monthly income. Still within the top tier of the poverty level, but at least some amount of breathing space.
  2. My computer got hit and I lost the computer, the outside modem, my printer and scanner, but did recover the hard drive.
  3. I began the moving process from a one-bedroom to a two bedroom apartment. That allowed me to have the home-office I have dreamed of for years.
  4. In the course of packing up all those files from two huge filing cabinets, I found those poems I had written about my father’s dying and thought I had consigned to that long ago bonfire. These were the originals with notes.
  5. Have written a new and better version of that letter to my father, and when I read it, I can see him grinning and nodding.
  6. My manuscript was in three parts and I am now halfway through the second section and know exactly where it is going and how to complete it.
  7. Can only express my gratitude to the Universe by completing what I started all those months ago.


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The Task of Sorting

Yes, I am still sorting. In her book, Women Who Run With The Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes that the task of sorting (separating this from that), is essential to the process of development and healing of the human psyche, particularly the intuitive functions. The task of sorting this from that allows us to develop fine-line distinctions and discernment. It also allows us to learn when things are best let go of, to make room for more and sometimes even better choices.

When last I was here, I spoke of sorting out the templates I was able to save before I lost my external storage modem. I have made hard copies of the ones I want to preserve and use. And have also made yet another file of those that need work of one sort or another. I managed to buy a second-hand drafting table for that work. Yet, all the while I was engaged in those actions, I was aware that I had lost my copy of Photoshop: the one that held the kaleidoscope app that I had used to make the templates. There was grief in that knowledge, because I so enjoyed the process of watching and making those templates.

Occasionally, I would go online and search for another kaleidoscope app, but had no success in finding anything useful. It was utterly frustrating. Until yesterday, when I found, not one, but two different apps. When I got my new computer, one of the first things I did was to download Paint.net. It is a free download and is very user friendly. They supply tutorials on how to use the different elements for working with photographs as well as the paint program for more creative endeavors.

Yesterday, while talking to my daughter, I told her of my frustration. While we were talking, she searched for plug-ins for Paint.net and found one that included a kaleidoscope app. among hundreds of others. The plug-ins are also free downloads. It took a while to find the app (it was hidden under the distort function), but eventually I did find it. The app is very different from what I have used in the past, but I am more than willing to learn the process.

The other app I found was in something called Suma Pro (found at Sumopaint.com). It isn’t a download, but for the very reasonable price of $4.00 a month, you can use the app, pull up images from your own computer, work on them, and then save them back to your computer. Again, it is a different set-up, but I will learn.

This morning, I pulled up one of my doodles (pen and ink drawing, or line weaving). This is the one I pulled up:

3-17-2015_9_15_41_PMx[1]I took it to Sumapaint and clicked on the kaleidoscope app. This is what came up:

3-17-2015_9_15_41_PMx[1]aI was fascinated, so saved it back to my computer and brought it up in Paint.net to play with it a bit. Really liked where I ended up with it:


Found a frame for it and it is now sitting on my new-used drafting table as a reminder that I am now back in business. I may even get around to coloring it at some point.


All that sorting made me acutely aware of just how much I enjoy my own creative process. More important, it allowed me to get through my grief and to find what I needed when I was finally willing to let go and see what was possible.

I used the same process to work with a photograph that was taken at the Botanical Gardens:

HOMEOFFICE - dscn4457Did a kaleidoscope from that photo:

HOMEOFFICE - DSCN4457a1I’m more than satisfied with my task of sorting this from that. Can you tell?


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Saving A Dream

Some of you might know that two months ago, I moved from a spacious one bedroom to a larger two bedroom apartment. It has been stressful for all kinds of reasons. However, I finally have a space that looks like a lived in area and am down to sorting through all my files.

My daughter has been coming about once a week to help with that chore. She is separating the poetry from the prose, and then there is all of the visual art. We have one storage box for items that don’t fit any of those categories, and I will have to go through them and decide if I want to keep or toss.

Before I moved, we got hit by lightning and I lost my computer. Along with that, I lost my outside storage modem. Years of work, just gone. So, I have been slowly going through the visual art box to see how much of it can be scanned and saved. I was surprised to find so many of my templates. Nowhere near the 300 to 400 I had in the storage unit, but enough to take the edge of that loss. I also lost my Photoshop program. That’s what I was using to make the templates. I am hoping to replace it, but that might take a while.

So, I’ve spent some time over the past two weeks, scanning some of the templates we have found. Problem is, my fingers start to itch, wanting to color them, lol. So when I get tired of the scanning, I go to my comfortable chair and color for a while. I forgot how easily that activity can calm and soothe. And I really like making beautiful things. But, it’s even better to let others see the beauty.

I’ve decided to share some of the finished and not quite finished images here. Hope you enjoy.826153826157826159


The spacing is a bit awkward, but that’s a problem with the site and my ability to maneuver around in it. Some of these were done in India Ink with fine artists pens, while others were done in colored pencil. And some use both and would have to be defined as mixed media pieces. I eventually want to attempt water color as well. These are copyrighted images and may not be used without permission.

My dream of creating a coloring book is still alive and well.

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A New Companion

His name is Jocko. At least that’s the name that came immediately to mind when I decided he needed such a definition. I had just read a Dean Koontz series (Frankenstein), and that was the name of a small misshapen, but somewhat lovable character in the books, that plays a diverse but essential role in the story.

The name comes from the Hebrew, either Jacob, which means one who supplants, or from the name John, which means beloved of God.

However, there was a problem. At some point, last week, I found myself looking up a very different name and I can’t remember why I did so. That name was Jasper. It comes from the Greek and means keeper of the riches.

Amazingly enough, I find both names and their different meanings to be more than appropriate for my new daily companion. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Jocko, Jasper.

Yes, he is a crow. Shows up every morning somewhere between 7:30 and quarter of 9:00am. He sits atop a utility pole just outside the window next to my new desk and announces his presence with raucous caws. Sometimes, he flies around the building to serenade me from the fence just outside my bedroom window. Either way, he is bound and determined to make his presence known and felt.

Now to the issue of the appropriateness of his definitions (names). Many individuals find crows to be a negative nuisance, even dirty and nasty in some manner. But crows have a rich mythology and an even richer symbolism, if you are into that sort of thing.

There is a Native American story about the crow and how he came to be black all over. In the beginning he was a bird of bright rainbow plumage. Beautiful to behold, but because of all that admiration, he became arrogant. He hated his shadow because he felt it was dark and ugly, and refused to come out in daylight except at high noon when his shadow would not interfere with his beautiful appearance. If it did so, he would peck at it, trying to get it to leave or disappear. He continued to peck at it until one day, in a fit of retaliation, his shadow rose up and swallowed him whole. And the crow lost his beautiful rainbow plumage and has been totally black ever since.

The crow is closely related to the much larger raven. Both of them, because of their intense black coloring, are often seen as shape-shifters. Familiars to shamen, individuals who  are closely acquainted with the Life/Death/Rebirth cycles of existence, and often believed to be shape-shifters in their own right, able to alter their physical beings to those of animals and the like.

Also in Native American spirituality, the crow is often seen as a symbol of higher law, that which exists above man made law.

We humans are imperfect at best. We all have flaws. Yet there are those who would believe that they should and can live above that reality, going so far as to think they can control others and use them to satisfy their own greed and need for some sense of power. That is what the Koontz series is all about: a man who believes he can remake humankind and do a much better job of it than any God.  In the story, Jocko is a type of shape-shifter, able to do incredibly flexible things with his body. He hates himself, because he is one of a kind, a sort of rebirth from one of the above mentioned man’s creations. He is also the wonderful humor aspect I have come to expect in a Dean Koontz story, as well as playing a significant role in the defeat of the bad guy.

One who supplants is an individual who takes the place or position of another, as Jacob did in the story of he and his brother Esau. Or, as the black all over crow comes to take the place of that beautifully feathered bird that was first created. Man can make as many plans as he wants to, but higher law will eventually teach him the lesson of hubris that even the crow had to learn. And God will always love humankind.

So both names are seemingly appropriate. Here’s Jocko/Jasper in full cry.

DSCN4551aI believe he comes to tell me each day, that no matter what my plans may be, there is always a higher purpose to consider.

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A Bit of Beautiful Buoyancy

My sister has decided that I must get out into fresh air and sunshine. Not sure why that is so but it could be any number of things. I am still slowly unpacking my belongings from the move I made over two weeks ago. I do a bit of that each day, then break to read and spend time getting acquainted with my new computer. Very slowly, my new home is taking shape. But, I am also enjoying the unpacking of belongings, some of which haven’t seen daylight for years, and taking the time to carefully choose where they should rest at this point in my journey.

Two weeks ago, Mary came and took me to the Botanical Gardens. It was a beautiful day of sunshine and soft breezes. I hadn’t been out with my camera in far too long, so of course, I over compensated for that lack of photographs to play with. After downloading them to the computer, I did find a new effect to use on some of them.





These were all put through an app effect called “Vignette” in my Paint.net program which is a free download available online. I think they would make excellent greeting cards or collages as well as wonderfully framed photos for any wall.

The following week, Mary called to say she was packing a lunch and we’d find a place while out for a ride. We headed toward the Bay shoreline and ended up at a small park near the UW extension campus. The weather, once again, was warm and breezy and we shared bits of our lunch with a sea gull until he turned down a home grown cherry tomato and, heaven forbid, a small chocolate covered cashew. That might have been best for him, but it was unthinkable to two chocoholics.

From there, we slowly made our way to the mouth of the Fox river and I was able to reopen my relationship with the Pelicans who inhabit that area every year and, at least for me, feed a natural fascination.




Pelicans are a symbol of buoyancy because they can remain afloat even in rough waters. They can dive deep for the sustenance they need, but then pop right back up after finding it. They are easy to distinguish, even in flight. Not only because of those long huge beaks, but because the black hem on their white wings is so distinct.

My sister really understood what I needed at this point of my journey. Sunlight, warm breezes, beautiful blossoms, and the buoyancy of pelicans. As well as a loving companion who likes to laugh at shared moments from years in the past. I am blessed.

Elizabeth Crawford  7/16/15

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Earth Day Challenge

Earth Day Challenge

planet in palm

Welcome to The Earth Day Challenge for Artists, Poets, and Writers. You may post as many times as you like. Each post URL may be entered below in the comments section. Url only and your name, please. Visit others and repost their contributions if you like. Remember, we are giving voice to our Mother Earth.

Have a great day!



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