Day 127

Tan grass stretches miles and miles as far as eyes can see.

The water in the indigo bird bath evaporates in one day.

Playa lakes, full last summer, surrounded then in emerald grass, lay waterless.

Thirty-five miles an hour winds create fog-like clouds of dust across the horizon.

Grit, wind hurled, buffets cars and trucks driving down the long, straight highways.

Dust-fed sunrises and sunsets clad skies in orange, hot pink, vermillion, violet, mauve.

Day 127 with no measurable precipitation.


Note:  I wrote this ten days ago.  That evening it rained .01 inches.  None since then.  We are approaching four months with just that .01 inches, nothing more.  Every time it warms and the winds come, the weather forecast mentions high fire danger.  All counties and state parks near here have burn bans.  March is a windy month.


Do You Need an AK-15??

I was going to post a poem today but found this and decided to share.  Maybe I could create a poem about all this shooting but would it matter? Doubt it.  This blog post says more or less what I think about all this.  I read the comments on the original blog post.  Anyone who seems to post anything controversial will receive a lot of malign and or misinformed comments.  Some people appeared to have totally misread the post.

Do I know how to shoot?  Yes.  I used to be my dad’s hunting partner.  I could hit bunnies, squirrels, raccoons on the run with a 22 without a scope.  We used large caliber rifles to deer hunt.

I no longer possess any interest in killing animals.  I do not object to hunting if you eat it and it is not endangered.

via “Fuck you, I like guns.”

Crashes and Creativity

Where have I been lately?  Haggling with two insurances companies.  Sixteen days ago, a woman ran a Stop Sign in a residential area while I was taking my grandson to middle school.  She immediately admitted it, the fire trucks were there within minutes (liquid and steam were spewing out of my car); the police showed up shortly as well.  About the time they arrived, a man ran the same sign and the police had to chase him down the street.  Makes one wonder what people are thinking, doing?  Texting perhaps.  Luckily, neither of us were hurt except grandson got a bruise from the seat belt and his glasses flew off.  He actually stepped out of the car and walked to school.

Kudos to my insurance agent, Lacie White of Farmers in Canyon, Texas.  I have never had an accident since I arrived in Texas 26 1/2 years ago so I called her.  She actually drove to the accident site, called the woman’s insurance company, etc.  Then she not only took me to the rental car place, but also to my daughter’s so I could unload luggage and such because we were planning to go to Dallas a few hours later.

The woman who caused the disaster received a citation.  Yesterday, I received a letter from her insurance company, Travelers, saying she might not be at fault.  Really?  She also did not have sufficient insurance to cover the value of my nearly new car, a 2017 which I bought last July.  Now I am haggling with my insurance company over its value.  This all has taken an inordinate amount of my time and energy.  Meanwhile, I have to find another car.

On the bright side, my grandson and I are fine.  I can still go to work, feed horses, and do what I always do.  However, it has delayed creativity, e.g. writing blog posts, working on my next book–already started, and starting my new handiwork project.  My last crochet project is illustrated below.  It is the blanket I made for my grandson.  For those who crochet, here is how I make it.

It is rather a creative, make it up as you go blanket, using some of his favorite colors, black, red, with a bit of grey for contrast.  As you can see I alternated colors to make each stand out.  The stitches used include single, half-double, and double crochet, made into different patterns such as shells, and a pattern where I alternated double and single crochet stitches.  My original inspiration came from patterns I found on Pinterest using many, many colors which I knew he would not like.  The beginning chain was multiples of four. The only downside of this type of pattern of alternating types of stitches is that the edges do not come out totally even and in the end I had to create a border around all four sides.  Probably blocking it would have also helped, but he wanted his blanket right after I finished it so I did not block it.  Ready to start my next project which I think will be making a sweater out of black and white granny squares, with maybe a bit of grey or red thrown in, colors left over from his blanket.




Home-made Essential Oil Body Butter

I use essential oils for many things and even cook with them especially cumin, lemon, rosemary, fennel, etc.  I tried so many lotions and none really worked for the dry climate in which I live.  This year remains exceptionally dry–no measurable moisture in over 100 days.  This causes dry skin itching and discomfort.  Therefore, creating my own body butter seemed a good solution.

1/3 cup oil–I use olive oil

5.5 oz. jar of organic shea butter

20 drops frankincense essential oil

20 drops myrrh

20 drops geranium

10 drops jasmine

These ingredients can be adjusted to suit your preferences or whatever essential oils you might have on hand.  I always use frankincense and myrrh.  The last time I made this I did not use geranium and jasmine; I used neroli and sandalwood.  Find out what works for you.  If the jar of shea butter is larger, you can adjust the rest of the ingredients to larger amounts as well.

Warm shea butter in a microwave but do not melt.  Place in a bowl.  Add oil and essential oils and whip until smooth and thoroughly mixed.  I use an electric mixer just as I would for creaming butter and sugar for a cake.  Sometimes in colder weather the shea butter can become somewhat crystallized.  The crystals will melt in the warmth of your hands.

Your skin will love you.



Blood Quantum: A Poem for Our Time


My grandson cuts himself into 16 equal pieces:

4/16 Urhobo from Africa

3/16 Spanish from Spain

4/16 European–two Swiss German great, great-grandfathers

(Werth and Kaiser), Irish, English and who knows what

3/16 Mexican–whatever mixtures that may be

2/16 Navaho


Who am I? What am I?

Who are you? What are you?

Do we really know?

Who sets the rules?

white men



Native American




from where and for whom?


He looks Navaho:

-blue black straight hair

-pale brown skin

-obsidian eyes.

One four year old girl asks him,

“Are you American Indian?”

His six year old self says nothing.

She repeats,

“Are you American Indian?”

He says, “It’s complicated.”


The Navaho won’t claim him, too little blood.

He needs 1/4, not 1/8.

Caddy and Fort Sill Apache allow 1/16, not Navahos.

1/4 blood is for





1/8 works for Comanche and Pawnee.

Some Cherokees only want a Cherokee ancestor.


But he is none of those.

Is he Navaho?

Is he white?

The old South goes by the one drop rule:

one drop of Negro…

Is a person with 99/100 per cent white

and 1/100 black, black?

Who says?

Kids at school ask, “What are you?”

He tells them.

They say, “You’re lying.”


I only know specifically about two ancestors,

the Swiss Germans.

Another great grandfather disappeared during the Civil War.

I don’t even know his name.

Who am I?

Who are you?

I think I’ll get a DNA test.

Then I’ll know how many pieces I need to cut myself into.


Note:  This was originally published in my book “On the Rim of Wonder”.  I had a cousin send me 75 pages of ancestry information.  I looked up more myself.  That one great grandfather remains a mystery.  I had my DNA done.  It did not match what I expected from the ancestry work.

Blood quantum is the term the US government used to determine whether a person would be qualified as an Indian.  Now many Indian Nations use it to decide who can be on the tribal rolls and who cannot.



Sunday Poem–Last Day of 2017



It’s cold outside, 14.

Horse waterers frozen.

Heat water, hike to barn.

Hope horses drink it fast before it freezes.

Back inside, build a fire,

write, read a novel set in Venice,

drink tea from Ceylon,

message friends in Asia, Africa, South America,

feel grateful for modern technology.

Glad I did not live in those “good ole days”.

Look forward to another year filled with joy and wonder–

my choice.



Jen Payne’s New Book

Evidence of Flossing, WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND provides an unexpected metaphor for individual life, culture, and so much more. Nearly all the poems are accompanied with a photograph, often of trash in which lays a dental flosser (yes, one of those instruments with which you floss your teeth) with date and location.  Flossing is supposed to prevent anything from being left behind.  Hence, the title brings up an unusual play on words.

The first section Damage contains more than 20 poems which are a lament about much of modern life–mass shootings, the demise of wildlife, unpleasant changes.  One poem asks the question:  “Would God floss?”  In the second section, Contact, the poems focus on the natural world, walks in the city, the woods, beaches.  The third section, Connection, emphasizes the interconnectedness of everything, especially the relationships between humans and animals and nature.  There are poems about frogs, storms, birds.  One called Evidence of Fairies makes the reader feel the magic of old growth forests with moss and ancient trees.  In the footnote to another poem she discusses the fact that wolf spiders actually create songs to lure lovers. Then, toward the end, the Alice poems appear,  Alice as in “Alice in Wonderland”.  In my favorite poem Payne relates her encounter with a stranger picking oyster mushrooms near a path in the woods.

After reading the poems and comments in this book, I will never view flossing the same way again.  Will I find dental flossers now, something I never even previously thought about?  I use those long strings of floss not flossers.  Apparently the poems and flosser photos affected enough people that some sent Payne photos of flossers they saw here and there on the ground, some of which she has included in the book.

Even if I find no flossers, now I will certainly give a lot more thought to what I and others leave behind.




About the author:  Jennifer Payne is the owner of Words by Jen, a graphic design and creative services company in Connecticut. She belongs to the Arts Council of Greater New Haven as well as several other arts and poetry organizations.  Her work has been featured in various publications, including The Aurorean, Six Sentences, and the Story Circle Network.  You can read some of her writing on her blog Random Acts of Writing.