Oatmeal Should Not Be Eaten Alone


I eat oatmeal for breakfast.
I make it on the hot plate and put skimmed milk on it.
I eat it alone. 
I am aware it is not good to eat oatmeal alone.
Its consistency is such that is better for your mental health 
if somebody eats it with you.
That is why I often think up an imaginary companion to have 
breakfast with.
Possibly it is even worse to eat oatmeal with an imaginary 
Nevertheless, yesterday morning, I ate my oatmeal porridge, 
as he called it with John Keats.
Keats said I was absolutely right to invite him: 
due to its glutinous texture, gluey lumpishness, hint of slime, 
and unusual willingness to disintegrate, oatmeal should 
not be eaten alone.
…I can see him drawing a spoon through the stuff, gazing into the glimmering
furrows, muttering.
Maybe there is no sublime; only the shining of the amnion’s tatters.
~Galway Kinnell from “Oatmeal”



But now the supper crowns their simple board, 
The halesome parritch, chief o Scotia’s food;
~Robert Burns from “The Cotter’s Saturday Night”




But when the melancholy fit shall fall 
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud, 
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all, 
And hides the green hill in an April shroud; 
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose, 
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave, 
Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
~John Keats from “Ode on Melancholy”





Oatmeal mixed up with a bit of chewy melancholy,
reading of poets and peonies and wholesome parritch;
it seems early for poetry on this sublime shrouded morning in April …
yet like porridge, nothing more is needed to begin the day well.







Perchance to Dream

A kitty we met in Scotland who was willing to share the sun room

I count it as a certainty that in paradise, everyone naps. 
~Tom Hodgkinson

I believe the world would be a better place if we could stop in the middle of the day and just rest our eyes for awhile — to look at the inside of our eyelids for a few minutes, to pause, to pray, to purr…

perchance to dream.   Aye, there’s the rub.

We just might wake and see things differently.


A slight breeze stirs tree branches
so shadow patterns play on the curtains
like candlelight in a drafty room.

The harvest is over, corn
stubble and weeds in the field. The sky is

soft blue, a few clouds in the distance.

I will close my eyes, nap for
a while. Perhaps when I wake all will seem
the same. Sleep plays tricks in many ways.
~Matthew Spereng – “Late August, Lying Down to Nap at Noon”

Like a graceful vase, a cat, even when motionless, seems to flow. 
~George F. Will

The Bonnie, Bonnie Banks

Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond

By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes,
Where the sun shines bright on Loch Lomon’.
where me and my true love were ever wont to gae
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon’.

O ye’ll tak’ the high road and I’ll tak the low road,
An’ I’ll be in Scotland afore ye;
But me and me true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomon’.

Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond

‘Twas there that we parted in yon shady glen,
On the steep, steep side o’ Ben Lomon’,
Where in purple hue the Hieland hills we view,
An’ the moon comin’ out in the gloamin’.

Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond

The wee birdies sing and the wild flow’rs spring,
And in sunshine the waters are sleepin’;
But the broken heart it kens nae second spring again,
Tho’ the waefu’ may cease frae their greetin’

up the banks of Loch Lomond
up the banks of Loch Lomond


Another Voice

450 year old gravestone in Glencairn Parish Cemetery in Scotland which reads: Here Lyeth The Corps Of John Mcubin in Meruhirn (Marwhin) Who Departed This Life The Year 1663 Age 100
other side of the same stone
other side of the same stone

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.
– T.S. Eliot

I have been overwhelmed by the centuries of history that exist documented on this continent compared to home.  We see stone circles in the countryside constructed as a celestial calendar for worship over 5000 years ago, stroll through church grounds that were founded over 1000 years ago, descended underground in Edinburgh to walk streets and enter homes that existed over 600 years ago, discovered this gravestone in rural Scotland of an 100 year old man.

It is a miracle to have lived a full century so long ago.  It is a miracle to have lived at all.

It feels a miracle to be alive now, witnessing all that I have in my relatively short time on earth.

I make a beginning each day, to be more than just another voice, striving to transcend last year’s words.

St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh
St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh
Castlerigg Stone Circle in Cumbria
Castlerigg Stone Circle in Cumbria
a stone pinecone, environmental art by Andy Goldsworthy, rural Scotland
a stone pinecone, environmental art by Andy Goldsworthy, rural Scotland

Slowing Down

purple geranium is in everyone's garden in Scotland
purple geranium is in everyone’s garden in Scotland
a welcome fragrant respite in the middle of the busy city of Edinburgh --honeysuckle
a fragrant respite in the middle of the busy city of Edinburgh –honeysuckle

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.
~May Sarton

During the past two weeks in Great Britain, Dan and I have slowed down from our usual busy routine to simply experience a different part of the world and meet new people who have been astonishingly warm and welcoming.

We are also very aware this vacation is about to end next week.

Yesterday we spent over an hour driving lost downtown in the city of Edinburgh, thwarted by torn up closed off streets under construction and a GPS that wanted to send us through barriers to get to our destination. It was a jarring jerk back to the hubbub of the urban life after days of wandering peaceably in the countryside. It took all our patience to not get frustrated at what was beyond our control.

When we finally got settled last night, we went for a long walk on the city streets and found grace in little patches of garden along the way. The honeysuckle could be smelled before it was seen, its perfume wafting out over the sidewalk to remind busy and distracted passersby there is good reason to slow down and breathe.

Today we head out to experience this city and its history before returning to the countryside and heading home to our routine.

The garden will be the first place I’ll be, priorities adjusted and my life changed.

how the Scottish describe a torn up street in Edinburgh
how the Scottish describe a torn up street in Edinburgh
Edinburgh Castle high above the city
Edinburgh Castle high above the city


Dripping Muzzles

Belted Galloways in the Galloway region of Scotland
Belted Galloways in the Galloway region of Scotland
Scottish Watering Trough (like many American Troughs, it had a previous life)
Scottish Watering Trough (like many American Troughs, it had a previous life)


Let the end of all bathtubs
be this putting out to pasture
of four Victorian bowlegs
anchored in grasses.

Let all longnecked browsers
come drink from the shallows
while faucets grow rusty
and porcelain yellows.

Where once our nude forebears
soaped up in this vessel
come, cows, and come, horses.

Bring burdock and thistle,
come slaver the scum of
timothy and clover
on the cast-iron lip that
our grandsires climbed over

and let there be always
green water for sipping
that muzzles may enter thoughtful
and rise dripping.
~Maxine Kumin “Watering Trough”


Summer Silence


“Summer makes a silence after spring.”
– Vita Sackville-West

As we bid farewell to England, Scotland and Ireland today, leaving mild temperatures in the 50’s to go to atypical temperatures in the 90’s at home,  summer will be hitting us with a surreptitious sledge hammer when we disembark in Seattle.   Hay will be ready to pick up in the fields and we will return to work within hours of getting off the plane.  But even with the responsibilities we reassume, we will know the joy of a house filled with our (now adult) children and friends from all over the world.

Life is rich with memories tightly woven into the tapestry of our everyday routine.   I will look back on this special time with Dan with fond remembrance for new friends discovered, amazing places experienced,  all the while blessed by returning home together to everyone we hold so dear.   Summer may be silent after spring but it is brimming with blessings.