Gabriel Uses GPS to Find Mary

Tiedeman's Walk

Tiedeman’s Walk

The prompt at my poetry group was to assume the persona of a famous person from mythology, the Bible or history.  I “assumed” the Archangel Gabriel who announced to the Virgin Mary that she would be with child.

The Vernal Equinox is considered the calendar date for The Annunciation.  You can do the math.


Gabriel Uses GPS to Find Mary


Early March.  Crocuses are up

but there is still ice in shadows.

The call comes about noon.

You have a week, God says.


I get on the internet.

Homeland won’t make this easy.

I pull documents from the safe.

My leather jacket covers the wings.


A rental Renault.  I’d have preferred

an Audi.  A few olive trees and a citrus

orchard later and I’m at the farm house.

Mary is lovely, so serene, reading a book.


God, do we have to do the ray thing?

Can’t you send the Holy Spirit later?

You know, it’s usually done in private,

in a bedroom, at night, with the door shut.



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Of Heaven and Earth



Beauty.  A Rhinoceros or an Italian painting from the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance?

I attended an exhibit of 500 years of Italian painting from Glasgow Museums at the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) last week.  It was a great romp through art history – who was influenced by whom and who were the influencers.  The images selected for the MAM website are the best ones, I think.

One of the centerpiece works in the exhibition is a painting of the Annunciation by Sandro Botticelli.  Mary’s expression is what interests me when I see paintings of The Annunciation.  How does she react when the Angel Gabriel appears to tell her she is about to be with child.  Therefore, I was especially fond of Botticelli’s version from Glasgow Museums, painted 1490-95.  Botticelli uses sparkling gold lines to symbolize the Holy Spirit piercing Mary, a symbol used by Medieval artists.  On the other hand, he is almost severe in the depiction of the interior arches and columns that separate Gabriel and Mary, exploring the early Renaissance of perspective drawing.

Botticelli painted other versions of the Annunciation.  One, from 1485, is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York City is similar to the Glasgow painting.

There is another Botticelli Annunciation in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence from 1489-90 that places Gabriel directly in front of Mary. Here, Botticelli emphasizes the use of perspective as the eye follows out the window to the countryside beyond.,_annunciazione_di_cestello_02.jpg

In all of the Botticelli versions, Mary looks serene and thoughtful, but in other artists’ hands she can look startled, shocked, disbelieving and even dismayed.  Or she can look most pleased and delighted.

Imagine a virgin rhino

Visited by an angel

Touched by the Holy Spirit

The pleasure spreading

Over the tough hide

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Haiku Moments

Maple close up

The maples are spectacular right now.  Always last to show and always worth the wait.

We raked and raked leaves yesterday and by mid-morning today the lawn was full of them.  I moaned about all the leaves still on the trees but my husband said, “Just look at how beautiful the maples are.  It will be worth raking more later on just to experience this.”

The mindfulness of paying attention and finding one haiku moment each day used to be so important to me.  I don’t know why I stopped, but I have resumed the daily practice of keeping a haiku diary.

Here is my favorite haiku from the past week.

leaf clings

to rain-soaked windshield

never give up



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Poetry Festival

Poetry Walk at the Wisconsin Poetry Festival

Poetry Path at the Wisconsin Poetry Festival

A poetry festival that includes readings, round tables, workshops and a walk along the Rock River – not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Several ideas for new poems came to mind during the 2014 Lorine Niedecker Wisconsin Poetry Festival in Fort Atkinson, October 10 and 11.  If you are not familiar with Lorine, here is a website with lots of good information

The newsletter of the Friends of Lorine Niedecker, Solitary Plover, recently published two of my poems.  The guidelines for submission call for poems that honor Lorine in theme, style or content.  For me, that means poems about nature and about place. *

A popular question for the leaders of one of the Round Tables at the Poetry Festival was “Where do your ideas come from?”  Both poets talked about the importance of keeping a pen and paper handy to jot down that thought you think you will remember but will not.

The photo above is one of the poems written on the Poetry Path, which extended from the Farmer’s Market in downtown Fort Atkinson to the Dwight Foster Public Library.  It’s a haiku, consistent with the Festival theme, “The Short Poem.”

I thought the instructions were to write six words about yourself.  Here’s my Poetry Path poem.

Curious Explorer / Creates / Her own map

*  See pages 8 and 9 of the Summer 2014 issue of Solitary Plover for my poems Dedication to Sound, March to June and Oak Savanna.


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The Poetry Reading

Dunlop family cemetery near Mazomanie, WI

Dunlop family cemetery near Mazomanie, WI

I always wanted a career I could continue into my old age.  Alas, given the choices I made, it was not to be.  However, poetry is something that I can do until I am quite elderly as evidenced by some of the readers at yesterday’s reading.  Poets from this area whose poems were for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets 2015 Calendar, read at a local bookstore Sunday afternoon.  Using walkers or canes as needed, sometimes having difficulty speaking, they read some really good poems about children and grandchildren, gardens and birds, lost loved ones and dear friends.

The poets at the reading – young and old and in-between – all wrote about some small slice of their experience that touched them enough to write about it.  Poetry is really distilled emotion.  Maybe that’s why people turn to poems when they are grieving or need to smile.

The “best” poems at a reading are usually the ones that evoke laughter from the listeners.  So now I have a small but growing, I hope, file of humorous poems.  For Sunday’s reading, we each read our Calendar poem and had the option of reading one more.

I read a poem I thought had a pretty good punch line, and the audience laughed when I finished.  It was ridiculously gratifying.

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Take a Share



I read a lot of poems.  I like some, I don’t get some, a few are amazing.  I ran across one recently in The New Yorker by Clive James that was in the latter category.  It is called Japanese Maple and the voice is an old man who contrasts his imminent death with the longevity of the tree outside his window.  He says, “Whenever the rain comes it will be there,/Beyond my time, but now I take my share.”

I read this morning about a Hindu monk who spoke in Madison.*  He advised listeners to greet each day with gratitude and to take at least 30 seconds to pay attention to the body and mind we have been given.  It would be like taking a share of yourself while you can.

In the marsh, we have egrets.  I have only ever seen them in Florida.  But several have stopped here this September.  I missed the pelicans – thirty of them, I heard – but Sandhill Cranes come and go each morning and evening as do geese.  I saw a heron land tonight at dusk.

A trail of ducks crossed the street from pond to a yard.  I tiptoed through them so they could continue their walk but behind me a young man on a skateboard clapped and disbursed them into the air.

While we all wait for the inevitable cold, the Honey Locusts are scattering their leaves like golden confetti.  Take a share of bullion while you can.

*The speaker’s name is Baba Shuddhaanandaa Brahmachari, and his most recent book is called, Making Your Mind Your Best Friend.

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Thornton W. Burgess

Entrance to the Wild Flower Garden at Green Briar Nature Center

Entrance to the Wild Flower Garden at Green Briar Nature Center

On a recent visit to Sandwich, MA I discovered that Thornton W. Burgess had been a resident and his home was open for visiting.  The name sounded familiar but it was not until I saw a drawing of a small rabbit that it clicked:  The Adventures of Peter Cottontail.

Burgess wrote children’s books back in the 19-teens.  With titles like Old Mother West Wind, The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad, Jerry Muskrat at Home and The Adventures of Prickly Porky, what is not to like?  Well, I’m sure the books are very tame to children raised on Where the Wild Things Are, but the stories are no doubt as charming as the illustrations, most executed by Harrison Cady.

The Burgess House in Sandwich, MA is no more, sadly.  The house still stands, but barely.  It is too expensive for the Burgess Society to keep up and the cost to renovate for a private home would be prohibitive.  Still, the Burgess Society soldiers on at Green Briar Nature Center and Jam Kitchen in East Sandwich, MA.

Burgess’ work as a naturalist and conservationist continues at the Nature Center.  I love that he encouraged children to join the War Bond effort with the formation of the Happy Jack Thrift Club in 1917.  The Burgess Society preserves Thornton Burgess’ legacy of books and articles plus maintains a focus on preserving and conserving natural resources.

However, the Jam Kitchen is where the real work of preservation is done.  In operation since 1903, the Jam Kitchen also prepares sun-cooked fruits in the oldest commercial solar-cooking operation in the U.S.  The names are enough to make your mouth water:  Apple Pie Jam, Beach Plum Jelly and Peter Rabbit’s Carrot Marmalade (with carrots, lemons and almonds).  The sun-cooked fruits are prepared with rum, vodka or Brandy.  ‘Mmmmmm!

The Jam Kitchens products are for sale in the Green Briar Nature Center & Jam Kitchen gift shop or on-line at

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