Category Archives: writing100to50

I spy…

The bloodroot started popping up this week. It’s a spring ephemeral. Blink and you’ll miss the dainty white blooms. These pics are one day apart.

Dad and I used to hunt for colors when stuck in waiting mode. Bus stop, doctor’s office, post office, restaurant (starting to sound like a Richard Scarry Busytown books).

We would try to stump each other with the smallest things. I spy with my little eye. . . something red (collar on a dog in the bottom corner of the picture hanging next to the reception desk).

We did other stuff too… make puns, ponder Big Questions, read, and sit in companionable silence. But lately I have been thinking about this simple game as I crouch, squint, and zoom in to watch spring.

I spy. . tiny trillium and bloodroot leaves blending in with the woodchips. The saw-toothed tips of hellebore foliage chasing jaunty blooms. The dusty pink Dr. Seuss-evoking shoot of another spring ephemeral (I think) whose name I always forget.

“I spy” steers attention to the often overlooked details that add texture and whimsy to our surroundings. I am not sure why that matters.* Perhaps it helps us practice being observant for when the stakes are higher. Maybe it shows respect for human labor and creativity. Reverence for nature.

This outward focus also quiets and calms my racing thoughts. I am not surprised it can be used as a grounding strategy for managing anxiety and difficult emotions.

Of course, this time of the year, my top grounding strategy is staying close to the ground. I am grateful to have so much to spy on.

*Trying to keep my ears open for assertions often considered self-evident.


Releasing the compost is an early spring ritual. We have two bins: we feed one while the other cures? molders? Ideally, when the active one reaches capacity, the resting one is ready to be emptied.

I’m always a bit wary of our home grown black gold. We don’t have enough green and brown garden waste to keep up with the food scraps. Most of the year, red wigglers expedite the process and smooth out imbalances between food and garden waste. Sort of a worm bin/ tumbler hybrid.

The magic slows in winter, especially when the worms die. (sometimes they make it through by huddling in a ball in the middle; the composting process generates heat.). The active bin fills before the resting one has finally digested…. and/or it’s too cold for me to want to deal with it. By February, we are back to putting eggs shells, coffee grounds, and veggie scraps in the landfill. This was less of an issue when we were a three bin family but that’s a story for another day.

speaking of other days I need to just post what I have and then zzzzzz. will come bcaj

functional fitness

no where near to being done but that’s OK

Accidentally did two HIIT workouts today. Or maybe just HIT. Chasing trains was high intensity, but spacing the sprints a few hours apart doesn’t really count as interval training.

Definitions of physical health are varied, personal, and situational (want to be mindful about ableism). The bus test is one of mine. If I can run after a bus, maintaining balance (if not dignity) as my bulky purse bounces around, I figure I’m doing OK, at least in a functional sense.

Being corporeal… OK there are so many words and ideas and questions fireworking and I can’t grab them. Easier to chase a train than a thought.

Back to today. There are two entrances to the Logan Square subway stop, both about a mile from our house. About is an important word. My transit math is granular, maybe because I tend to cut things close.

The Spaulding entrance is close to Kimball, which is great when we take the bus. However, it deposits us at the far end of the platform, about half? a quarter? of a block away from where the train actually stops. It’s kind of a fake out.

At the main entrance on Kedzie, if you feel the tunnel tremors while swiping the fare card, you can breathe a sigh of relief. At Spaulding, it means channeling your inner Jackie Joyner-Kersee and hoping noone is moving slowly on the stairs in front of you.

Lately, I have been taking my child to a day long program downtown. I usually come home between drop off and pick up. I’m enjoying being out and about, but the commute takes a big chunk of the day-45 to 60 minutes door to door, 4 times.

blah blah blah where I want to get with this… all the little variables and decisions. We are about a mile away from the logan square and California stations. The fastest and most pleasant way to get on the downtown bound train is to bike to California. Although the distance is about the same, , the stop is after LS, effectively adding two minutes to the window of opportunity to grab the train. The distance from street to platform is also shorter. but, the train is more crowded by the time it gets to California so if getting a seat is important then Logan Square is better.

taking the bus to Spaulding might be a little faster than biking but that advantage disappears when the next bus is in 15 minutes….

blargh I need to break from this. should make a visual.

the importance of a letter

Just had an image of a language assembly line, not in the printing presses way…. just words being built and bundled for meaning.

and what a perilous project it is, a poorly deigned product, quite prone to error.

one letter separates spite from sprite.

Spite sounds like it means. (I know there’s a word for this. Thought it shared heritage with spit, because it’s a word shaped to be spat out.)

thinking about parts of speech and tenses. spat as a noun fits right into this party.

Sleepy. gonna come back to this.

captain oh captain

Gotta put this in the tbc column from the start because I need to clear the deck for  writing that can’t be shared.  I was going to write about going to my first Star Trek convention and crying when I met Captain Janeway. “you’ve meant so much to our family” I repeated as my kid and I took a selfie with her. I wasn’t planning on being in the picture (didn’t know how that economy worked) but she insisted. You’ve meant so much to our family. That’s all I could say when it was our turn at the table.

She is short and slight and stunning. She scanned me in an instant and knew this needed to be a family photo.

Best thing about the day was witnessing all the Q and A with people sharing how a character, a scene, a snippet of dialougue profoundly affected them.

And that’s where I need to switch to private writing mode

storied plants

4/16/22 update: I intended to write about my “so what” re: roses but the preamble took over. Still working on it.

plant with glossy dark green leaves (peace lily) in a corner. Background color is reddish-orange

I cherish the plants with stories, such as the dozens of peace lilies propagated from a display at my father in law’s funeral, 15 years ago. It’s a forgiving plant, and I took it for granted. The leaves would droop, I’d eventually notice, do some watering, and they’d be jaunty again in no time. But after a particularly long spell of neglect, they were spent.

In panic, I grabbed a dishpan and eased the plant from the pot. Let the soil fall from the massive root ball. Pried it apart (long overdue) and picked about ten small sections that seemed most likely to survive. Scrambled to find enough containers, potted them up, and watched over them carefully. When we left town for a few weeks, I asked our pet sitter to water and send photo updates.

Michael had not been aware that the unassuming plant in the corner of our teevee room was connected to his dad. I waited until after the danger of losing it had passed to tell him. Six years later, we have peace lilies scattered around the house and have given many away. It’s a common workhorse plant, but that doesn’t make it any less special.

I am just as sentimental about our snake plant (gift from Karen when our child was born), apple tree (planted the year after we married), and the pink peonies and red rose that have been here longer than we have.

Drat. I know what else I want to say, but it’s just not happening right now.

KWL(sw): rose

4/16 Update: One of my goals is to learn more about plants. I am using the ye olde teaching strategy of activating prior knowledge and asking questions. KWL stands for: What do I know and want to know? And, after researching: What did I learn? But just I always pestered my writing students, I also want to include the “so what.” What does this topic matter to me and maybe others? First topic: roses.

close up of a rose branch full of buds in various states of openness. One is in full bloom, peach hue. Leaves are wet.

Brainstorm of what I know (or think I know). Some of this is basic!

  • been around for a long time
  • can be a shrub, cane, or rambler (not sure if that’s the right word)
  • some are scented some not
  • some bloom multiple times a season
  • are susceptible to disease (rust?) and critters (aphids? )
  • there are natives and cultivars
  • supposed to make a diagonal cut when pruning, preferably with clean shears
  • don’t do well in shade
  • I think the root crown (?) is supposed to be above the soil line.
  • has thorns and woody stems
  • rose hips provide food for birds?
  • mainstay of romantic gestures, figurative language, and The Secret Garden

What do I want to know?

  • why are they so revered?
  • where did they originate?
  • what’s the history of cultivation? what traits have been cultivated and why?
  • what accounts for color, scent, bloom time/frequency?
  • what’s their reach now (in what parts of the world do they grow?)
  • what does the supply chain like?
  • what are the ethical issues around labor practices and environmental impact
  • why does Armitage Produce sell them?
  • what’s the best way to prune and cut flowers to promote new growth without creating a messy thicket of akimbo branches?
  • what determines where a bud will form? how does it erupt from the wood? is it always in the same spots?
  • what’s the purpose of thorns (I am assuming protection but from what?)
  • what are the best growing conditions? soil, light, nutrients?

Why do I care about this topic?

Out of steam. Saving this for another post.