PLEASE COME ALONG WITH ME on a stroll through this past month, and encounter with me some of what I’ve noticed:

Three new houses are under construction on the short cul de sac on which I live. I watched as the lots were surveyed and marked, and the land was reshaped and remeasured. The footings were created, then the foundations. Then the walls go up and the roof is constructed. Each of the three houses is very different from the others, and as new skills were employed, and supply trucks arrived, and ready-mix concrete trucks lined the street and their delivery chute cranes rose up like sci-fi monsters, I found myself saying over and over, “Wow, so THAT’s how it’s done!”

A full day devoted to deleting emails and unsubscribing from internet stuff is not only unsatisfying, it’s futile – which is why it’s unsatisfying. Like dishwashing and laundry, it will all have to be done again in a very short while.

Many of this month’s nights were cloudy, but I loved tracking the phases of the moon during middle-of-the-night cloud breaks.

I have the honor to be a volunteer at Enso House, our local end-of-life care residence. Last week our new guest was suffering from pain and anxiety but was unable to receive medications orally. So I got to see a newly-invented (2015)medical appliance called the Macy Catheter that enables an alternate route of medication and fluid administration that doesn’t involve pumps, needles, or IV lines. It’s an uncomplicated rectal device, with tubing taped to thigh or belly. It’ssimple enough for families to use for home hospice care – and for Enso House volunteers to use for our guests. I don’t usually get excited about medical devices, but THIS one can relieve so much suffering in the last weeks of life! I saw it with my own eyes. Blessings on the hospice nurse, Brad Macy, who invented it!

It’s always a joy to meet visitors and folks new to the Island who interest me and might just develop into friends. September was rich with cuppa-tea-encounters and fascinating conversations that started with provocative questions and went deep into thoughtful territory.

I have tiny veins in my arms, ones that hide and squirm and “blow out” for most phlebotomists. And I am dreadfullyneedle-phobic. But I didn’t dread a pending blood draw on the 16th because “my” phlebotomist Rachel is so skilled. Her combination of confidence and intuition make her THE best!

With the flip of a calendar page (from September 21st to the 22nd), our warm bright summer turned to cool wet autumn. Now I’m watching trees and plants slowly sink back into their winter’s rest, to gather their resources for next spring’s renewal.


All this noticing of the little details of my days is the stuff from which my poetry emerges. Noticing is what a poet does. Poetry is what she constructs from what she notices. And it’s been a special delight this week to be composing poetry, hosted by my friend Corrine in her lovely home overlooking Saratoga Passage, Camano Island, and the Cascade Mountains. I don’t have to do anything during these days but write, from the time she serves me my breakfast coffee until she tells me “Supper’s on.” What luxury! And my time has been productive as well as indulgent. I’m hoping to have enough new poems written by year’s end to publish a second collection in 2020.

In the meantime, September was a very good month for my getting individual poems published in literary journals. Two online journals will carry my poems in October, and I invite you to take a look.

On October 1 Gyroscope Review will publish a special issue called “Crone Power.” My poem “Molting” will be on page 13 at

On October 19 a lovely new journal called Sky Island Journal will publish my poem called “Navigation Lights.” You can find it at . The issue’s poems are published in alphabetical order by poet’s first name.

Later on, exact date to be announced, the “Oldest Independent U.S. Journal of Nature Writing,” called Snowy Egret (nine decades old!), will publish two of my poems, “Bay Tree Invitation” and “Beware.”   You can subscribe at .

September is drawing to a close, and so is this blog post. It has been a good month; I’ve enjoyed every day, and I hope you’ve enjoyed a few of my noticings.



“Mortal Beings,” my first book of poetry, is now well and truly launched into the world. And I’m even more in love with it than I was when it was first accepted for publication.

The launch celebration was held at Enso House, our island’s end-of-life care residence for people with terminal illnesses. There couldn’t have been a more appropriate venue; some of the poems in the book were actually written at Enso House, where I’ve served as a volunteer caregiver for many years.

The huge Enso House dining table was relocated and the dining room became our “salon.” We had just enough seating for the twenty-five who came to hear the poems, discuss the writing process, and nibble on the fabulous snacks that friends provided.

Long ago I learned that poems are meant to ingested in two ways: reading the words on a printed page, and hearing the words spoken aloud. In each way a poem enters the receiver through a different sense. And each way allows a poem to lodge in the body of the receiver in a different manner as well.

My preference always has been to let a poem in through my eyes, to savor the words and the construction, to see how the poem is laid out on the page, to think about its message. But it’s also wonderful to let go to the voice, to the cadence, and to the meaning the poet bestows through their particular emphases.

So if we get to read a poem AND hear it read to us, the poem becomes a much richer experience.

But there is yet another dimension to poetry. I discovered it at the book launch, and at the readings that have followed in its wake. It is another element that rises in the space surrounding the reader and the listeners. Is it the chemistry of pheromones? Is it the physics of electrical vibration? Some other kind of invisible energy?

Oh heck, let’s just call it magic. It is a spell, almost palpable, shimmering just on the edge of sensibility. It is cast by combining the receptive presence of listeners with the words carried by the author’s voice. This magic spell enables a poem to become more than it was in the mind of the poet, more than it seemed to the publisher, more than it could ever be on the page. It makes the poem become a living being.

Now that I’m aware of it, I want that magic replicated! I want it to happen once again, twice again – often – and in a variety of venues. It feels to me as if that magic spell just might contribute to replenishing the dwindling supply of JOY in our world.

Hint: if you’d like to become a part of the magic, I’d welcome your facilitating a connection with your book club, discussion group, library, favorite bookstore, place of learning or worship or healing.

Here’s to the joy of speaking poetry!

[I’ve had this cartoon on my office wall for ages, and don’t remember its source – probably “Funny Times.” I’ll be happy to attribute it correctly if anyone knows the source.]

READING AT THE BOOK LAUNCH - Photo by Johnny Palka

READING AT THE BOOK LAUNCH – Photo by Johnny Palka

Throughout the evening there was a Knowing that THIS was a high point in my life. “Take it in,” the Knowing said. “Revel in it. Give this reading your very best attention and care. Oh, and don’t forget to ENJOY as well.”

The event was the Book Launch Party celebrating the previous week’s publication of my book, Meeting in the Margins. Folding chairs had been brought in and all the furniture had been rearranged in the dining room and the living room of Enso House, the end-of-life residence where I have volunteered as a caregiver over the years. The lights in all the rooms glowed; the friend-baked cookies were mounded on plates in the Garden Room, next to the tea and coffee and handmade cups; nearly 60 friends and neighbors were gathering, and some guests I hadn’t met yet; MoonRaker Bookstore was set up with piles of the newly-minted book for sale. Special-bought pens were waiting for me to inscribe books.

And then it was time to begin. I went to that place inside myself from which the best of my writing comes, that place where the essence of the people of the Margins meets the essence of me and tutors me. And from that place I read and spoke and for a few minutes I gave voice to our society’s invisible people, and they received the love and the affirmation of the assembled listeners. And it was very, very good.

It was, as the inner voice assured me – that Knowing voice of the wise people of the Margins – a singularly high point in my life.


[Meeting in the Margins: An Invitation to Encounter Society’s Invisible People is available at your local bookstore, and from]









meetinginthemargins-cover       Sharing thoughts – from the profound to the profane – this, as I understand it, is the purpose of a blog. Blogs are shared with friends and interested others. Writing and posting a blog takes less time than inviting and scheduling twenty individuals for a cuppa at a local coffee shop, and less effort than writing twenty different emails or paper letters (yes, I do still send those sometimes, as do two of my grandchildren, bless ‘em). Blogs may be the lazy person’s best way of reaching out and touching lots of someones.

This week the contents of my brain, from which my blogs emerge, are almost all centered around my book launch party coming up in just three weeks. On October 13, Meeting in the Margins: An Invitation to Encounter Society’s Invisible People will be presented in public! I will then be not just a writer, but an AUTHOR!

And in my brain the wonderings are whirling: will the books be shipped in time for the launch (the publisher has assured me they will). Did I remember to ask enough friends to bake cookies for the party refreshments? What kind of pens should I use to sign the books? Can I make myself heard without a sound system? What should I wear – does an author dress differently than a writer?

Even more important, how shall I organize my presentation? I can’t just read from the book the whole time, so how do I pace the readings and balance them with speaking off-the-cuff, and balance both of those with time for Q&A? I feel a little like the Flight Director counting down for a launch at NASA. (Sorry, I mean no offense to real Flight Directors!)

The only thing I know for sure is that all my questions will have been answered by the BIG DAY and the BIG EVENT.

For those of you in the Seattle, Whidbey Island area, the time and place are:

OCTOBER 13, AT 6:30PM, AT ENSO HOUSE, 6339 WAHL ROAD, FREELAND. If you need driving directions, you’ll find them at

I’ll also be offering book readings at the wonderful Freeland Library, on November 9 at 1:00PM and November 10 at 6:30PM.

And for those of you who live farther afield, I’d love to do a book reading in your area, especially if you have an independent bookstore near you that would like an opportunity to sell the books at the reading – I’m happy to share the joy (and the selling-price) of getting this book out into the world. Let me know if you think of a place that would like to have me present my book – I’ll be putting together a mini-tour after the first of the year, and will base my itinerary around suggestions from friends about their favorite bookstores or workshop spaces. I’d also be delighted to give presentations at churches, discussion groups, book clubs, schools.

There. That’s what’s whirling around in my brain this week, so that’s the content of this month’s blog. And there is yet one other wondering: now that I’ve become an author (and, God help me, a book marketer), how long will it be before I can return to being just a writer again? Just a poet? That’s the occupation I love the most. And I guess that will have to wait for a while, until the dust of the book launch settles, like rocket exhaust eventually does.