Yesterday was National Tell a Story Day! You can roll a poem or story with Rory’s Story Cubes (available on Amazon).


my mother’s map
was well-marked
when God called her name
she climbed upward
above the sun and the rain
to the treasures awaiting her
in mansions of glory

Challenge from Anna Roseboro – write a poem about a brother using an acrostic

Baby by five years, he’s the Golden Isles
Real Estate Guy who was
Once a basketball coach and math
Teacher because he got the
Height and number genes
Even though he’s also a
Really gifted writer – – I don’t
Know what I’d do without his
Even-keeled patience and
Never-ending humor!

Write a Hashtag Couplet poem today – choose any topic you love! This one is about my two rescue dogs and the differences in their personalities. 
#one’s a Schnoodle #one’s a Schnauzer
#peaceful hippie #rabble-rouser
#flattened chin #bearded snout
#one with mustache #one without
#whale-spray tail #pine tree stub
#back scratch #tummy rub
#grumpy dog
#bump on a log
#black #white
#portly #sprite
#yin and yang
#paw and fang
#upside-down #right-side up
#sweet old soul #playful pup
#prized lamb #black sheep
#fearful growl #pleading bleat
#wants to play #sleeps all day
#up all night #snores away
#kneads and nooks #sits and looks
#twists and jerks #full of quirks
#lifts his leg #squats to pee
#both a he #not one she
#crack of dawn #dark of night
#playful tussle #vicious fight
#most expressive #blank glare
#raised eyebrows #stoic stare
#gnashing teeth #quivering lip
#holds it in #lets it rip
#one is docile #one gets zoomies
#in the car they’re kennel roomies
#needs a leash #runs away
#comes right back #here to stay
#self-served timeout #who’s in trouble?
#regrets mischief #lives in bubble
#nutmeg sofa #khaki chair
#king-size bed we all four share
#digs, sniffs, circles #plops right down
#crowds dad’s pjs #seeks mom’s gown
#neither fetches #both can sit
#both catch popcorn #lively wit
#table beggars #hopeful snackers
#turkey bacon #graham crackers
#love to ride #windows cracked
#heads in wind #playthings packed
#noises frighten #cuddling calms
#transcendental #fretful qualms
#one’s a purebred #one’s a mix
#does blood matter? #ask the ticks!
#designer dog #pedigreed
#worthless titles, most agree
#both were rescued #one abused
#one abandoned #each refused
#old ties severed #new lifesong
#not neglected #now belong
#both now wanted #both adored
#cherished deeply #family scored
– Kim Johnson
Challenge from Sarah Donovan:  Write a Reason/Response List for any topic about which you are passionate.

8 Responses to More Ecologically-Friendly Rural Outdoor Spaces

8 Be a part of the food solution. Hang a bee house for the pollinators to live rent-free facing the morning sun, five to seven feet off the ground and under an eave. Read more here:

7 Plant a butterfly garden outside a window, with host plants and nectar plants. A garden with fennel as a host plant will attract Black Swallowtails, and they love strawberry-lemon-orange sherbet Lantana nectar. Turn a garbage can lid upside down and offer sliced oranges. To attract a real feeding frenzy, add a small sponge and let a little grandson who loves to pee in the country air take aim. Butterflies LOVE a good tinkle-drinkle. Read more here:

6 Feed the birds. Infuse a variety of bird feeders in and around your butterfly garden to invite a flurry of feathered activity better than any movie. Try these: suet cakes hanging from trees; hummingbird feeders on ground hooks; flat trays for ground feeders; a mealworm tray for bluebirds; hanging feeders with different seeds to attract a wide range of birds. Purchase a field guide for birds common in your region to identify what you attract, and keep the binoculars handy for tree watchers! Read more here:

5 Bathe and house the birds. A bird bath with running water is the five-star hotel variety, but a simple birdbath with clean water and a few light-refracting pebbles is an easy and less expensive option. Invest in several wooden birdhouses and install them on poles with twenty feet of spacing apart. Plant irises at the base to give a thick deterrent to predators. Read more here:

4 Invite deer and squirrels to their own feast by setting out salt and mineral blocks. Keep the binoculars close by – – watch and wait for the appreciative woodland friends to come dine. Read more here:

3 Treat your yard for pests and cut off your grocery bill by investing in hens (and a rooster if your rules allow). More cities are allowing hens, and contrary to what the rooster believes, he is NOT necessary for hens to provide breakfast for your family. Read more here:

2 Compost! Stop using your sink disposal and return your scraps to nature to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Coffee grounds (even the filters), carrot shavings, potato skins, and any leafy vegetation will compost to boost your garden nutrients! Read more here:

1 Plant a garden – a vegetable garden will cut your family’s grocery bill. Plant some flower beds, too, in-ground or in raised platforms. It’s a beautiful way to celebrate the gifts of the earth. Get a plant press and learn the fine art of pressing flowers and ferns that can be used to decoupage candles and soaps, and create beautiful art and greeting cards. Boldly proclaim your love for natural beauty at every opportunity! Read more here:

Above all, take time to sip some lemonade and enjoy the beauty of this ecologically-friendly space you have cultivated, and maintain it every season!

Challenge from Jennifer Jowett: write a poem about an important “first” in your life

turning the page

June 1985
blue Canon Snappy 35 mm with a wrist strap,
locked and loaded

red double-decker diesel buses
black smoke trailing

old-fashioned white paper tickets to Starlight Express
rich black voice raising hairs on my arms, singing
“there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!”

British landscapes of John Constable
at the National Gallery

shared yellow Shandy in a rental car – a preachers’ family
driving (underage drinking, too) because we didn’t know
it wasn’t Coke

thick brown slabs of bacon
with charred red breakfast tomatoes

rich Earl Grey, swirling steam
in fancy china teacups and saucers
clinking daintily

brown and white sugar clumps I mistook
for crumpets – white and wheat
identifying myself as American at first bite

ornate gray facades of majestic cathedrals

blue denim jacket, colorful nickel-sized buttons
collected like a passport-stamped footprint

pitch-dark subway stop, Dad wondering aloud
in the silence: “Is this Oxford?”
“crazy American” chuckles all around

……but the best first of London:
the smell of age-old books, timeless classics
in creaky-wooden-floored bookshops,
worn covers waiting to be loved by

Challenge from Emily Yamasaki:  Write a poem that blends math and writing by incorporating at least 6-8 number values in the poem. 

A Dozen Reasons Readers Love Numbers

1. Me talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
2. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
3. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
4. The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
5. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
6. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
7. The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
8. From a Buick 8 by Stephen King
9. The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott
10. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
11. The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch
12 Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose

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 Writing from June 2004 as a resident student at Cambridge College near Boston, Massachusetts
Moose Alert
By Kim Meyer
According to the news, a moose is on the loose in Boston, and my mother is worried about me.  What is she thinking?  Does she have a visual image of a moose mauling me as I walk from my dorm to class?  Is she afraid that I’ll be the next person to inspire a song along the lines of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” only my song will be “Mama got Mauled by a Moose?”  In her ever-informative fashion, she e-mailed me a moose alert last night.  It said:
Subject: java joe’s
Date: 6/30/2004 9:09:17 PM Eastern Standard Time
Talked with Mallory last night and she was at Java Joe’s with her friends.  Said she was doing much better and everyone was fine. 
Hope you are having good weather.  Heard on the news where a young moose had gotten separated from his mother and was running around in a residential neighborhood in Boston.  Be careful!
Your dad has a funeral Friday morning so our trip to the river has been delayed.  We will be there over the weekend for sure.
Hope all is well with you and your group.  Love, Mom
Because my “tickle box” was so completely turned over, my roommate couldn’t resist sneaking over to read my e-mail.  She couldn’t stop laughing, either.  Then the nightgown-clad women from all the other rooms in our suite came in to see what had brought down the house.  With all the noise we were making, I was afraid that the campus police were going to be coming along at the request of our neighboring suitemates to inform us that we were in severe violation of the noise ordinance. 
My friends convinced me that I needed to ease my mother’s mind.  To do this, we decided to send Mom a picture of a young moose, explaining that he has been captured and is no longer a threat to anyone in Boston.  Here is what we wrote:
Subject: Re: moose on the loose
Date: 6/30/2004 11:10:17 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: TeacherMeyer
Dear Mom,
Thanks for the warning!!  Jerry and Marcy were kind enough to take this picture for me.  He was in our pool, that lost little moose was.  But I found his dad.  His mother ran off with a younger bull is what the problem was.  He is safe now, and so am I, thanks to you!  It is 11 p.m. and this dorm suite is in hysterics.  Keep me up to date!!  I needed this laugh after all the computer triage problems today.  Love You.  Kim
I was surprised when my parents’ number popped up on my cell phone the next day.  I was anxious for a moose update, so when I answered, I felt let down when there was nothing but the noise of movement on the other end.  So the next morning, I emailed:
Subject: phone call
Date: 7/2/2004 6:40:56 AM Eastern Standard Time
From: TeacherMeyer
Yesterday your number popped up on my cell phone and you called me but you didn’t realize it.  I think it might have been Dad – I could hear muffled garble, but no specific words.  I am still laughing about that moose. 
Work is loads – we finish our first week class today.  I have to have a mini portfolio ready to turn in this afternoon of different types of writing we’ve done all week.  We had to choose a memory from our memory bank after writing “I remember……” and finishing that sentence as many times as we could in about three minutes, and then we chose one of the I remembers as a topic for writing.  I wrote, “I remember being hit by a car.”  So I wrote that story. 
I talk to the kids each day.  I will call you this weekend to let you know how things are going.  Sorry your trip to the river got delayed.  Love, Kim
My mother:  she’s a nut.  And her nutty uniqueness partly explains ME.  It’s really a bit eerie how much we think alike, because when I checked my e-mail to see if she’d ever sent an update on the moose that she has been tracking in Boston all the way from her small town in Georgia, here is what she wrote:
Subject: phone call
Date: 7/2/2004 10:07:13 AM Eastern Standard Time
I’m sure it was your dad.  He never puts his phone on lock.  Sorry.
Sounds like a very hectic week to me.  But, one down and only a few more to go.
No update on the loose moose.  Guess they captured him.  Probably involved in a custody battle between ma moose and pa moose.  Do you call this a foster loose moose?
 Talk to you soon.  Love, Mom
It isn’t everyday one gets such an inspiring moose alert, so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to let Mom know just how helpful her news has been.
Subject: Re: phone call
Date: 7/2/2004 12:02:36 PM Eastern Standard Time
From: TeacherMeyer
I am using our correspondence about the moose as the basis for a reflective writing that I will submit in my portfolio this afternoon.  I will send you a copy of it as soon as I finish it and have it in final form.   Thanks for the great idea. You didn’t know how inspiring you were going to be!!  Kim
  Not many people are fortunate enough to have a mother whose sense of humor is so unintended, so constant.  I sure hope Mom never stops worrying about her little girl, no matter how old I get. 

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I found a piece of writing that I submitted as a reflection for a class I took in 2004 – this story happened 40 years ago.  It’s interesting to look back at writing from 16 years ago. 

Second Chances
When I was finally helped up onto my one good leg after the accident and brushed myself off, I looked up and saw what I thought was an angel headed to Heaven.  My books were not in my hands, and my purse was not on my shoulder.  Everything had happened so quickly that it took a few minutes for me to realize that I wasn’t dreaming.  I had been hit by a car and somehow had miraculously survived. 
The morning started out like any other school day.  I got up, ate breakfast, dressed myself, and packed my lunch in my purse before heading out to meet the bus in front of the Presbyterian Church.  Usually, four of us waited together on the bike path five feet from King’s Way.  Since no one else was there that day, I thought I had missed the bus.  Knowing my mother would strangle me if I came home and said I needed a ride all the way to Brunswick, I decided to wait a while.  My watch assured me that I was on time.  Surely the bus had been by too early.  I didn’t put my books down like I normally did, since I planned on heading back home if the bus didn’t come along soon. 
I kept looking to my left, anxiously anticipating the appearance of the big yellow bus or its rattling sound before it came around the corner.  I don’t know what made me look to my right, because that wasn’t the normal bus route.  But I think it was God’s loving hand that directed my attention that way.
          When I turned and saw the car careening out of control headed straight for me, it felt a lot like a speeding 3-D movie in which (at the last ten millionth of a second) the camera comes to an abrupt stop, even though by then my eyes are shut tight like a clam, my heart is beating faster than Ragtime music, and I’m panting like a dog in a hot car.  In the 3-D movie scenario, though, I would have panicked knowing that there was no imminent danger and that no physical pain was going to be involved.  But this was no movie, and there was no escaping injury.  I had less than a second to make a choice that could just as easily have been the wrong one. 
Had I run out into King’s Way, another car might have hit me.  Instinctively, I ran as fast as I could toward the church, the fear of death propelling me.  Everything else happened in slow motion, just like in a recurring dream of mine in which I’m running hard and going nowhere.  I saw an Oleander tree and dove under it.  As I did, my right leg felt a stab of pain, and then the ground was cupping my face in its hands. 
The nauseating thud of metal and shatter of glass as the car twisted like a pretzel around two pine trees ended the madness.  I knew in my heart that the man in the car was dead, but I hadn’t expected to see his processional to Heaven after the driver’s door opened and he stumbled out.  I kept waiting for him to ascend, but he didn’t.  When he fell to the ground, I thought the Earth was opening for the Devil to reach up, grab him, and pull him down to Hell.  He was supposed to go either up or down, but he stayed right there in the middle of Heaven and Hell, moaning and writhing in pain. 
Two sweet ladies with arms and bosoms as big and soft as pillows came in their white nurse dresses and hats and engulfed me, surrounding me in safety all the way to the back seat of their car, where I waited on the ambulance.  As the bus passed by the scene of the accident, every face in every window looked the same.  Their mouths were open, their eyes frantically searching for me and the others who should have been there that morning.
My mother arrived, calm and comforting, because a family friend on his way to work had seen the chaos and made sense of it before knocking on our door to say, “Miriam, Kim is okay” before continuing his further explanation, “but she was hit by a drunk driver.  I’ll take you there.” 
The policeman ambled over to the car with the tattered remains of my books.  He also held my purse, its rainbow-striped straps torn and jagged.  It had been the one thing holding on to my shoulder from behind, proving that if I’d been a few inches back there with it, I’d have ended up on the other side of the churchyard, too.  I don’t remember too much more that happened in the aftermath of the trauma, but I do remember feeling like the boiled egg that I’d put into my purse for lunch.  On impact, the shell of the egg had been absorbed right into the rubbery white part.  I thought of the two nurses, their warm black skin and their white eggshell uniforms surrounding me and absorbing me as they took me to their car to realize that I had lived and I was going to be alright. 
Ironically, the driver and I were taken to the hospital in the back of the same ambulance.  My mother deserves a lot of credit for not finishing him off right then and there as she sat beside me holding my hand. 
Later that same week, I was shocked to see the bandaged and bruised driver come into our living room.  My parents greeted him warmly, after which he handed me a Snoopy book and apologized for nearly killing me.  My mother took me to my room, closed the door, and told me to stay put until I had permission to come out.  I wasn’t allowed to hear the conversation taking place, but I know what was said. 
My father, an ever-forgiving Baptist minister, had issued an ultimatum to the driver:  either check in for help at a recovery facility and overcome the addiction, or face charges.  Not surprisingly, a local rehabilitation center received a new patient right away.  That was twenty-five years ago.  I sometimes wonder what ever became of the driver, and whether or not he ever relapsed and tried to kill anyone else with his weakness.  I may never know his fate, but I do know this:  both the driver and I were given a second chance at life by a higher power.  And that’s enough to satisfy me.

Challenge from Shaun:  Write a poem about cycles in nature.
** This poem is one I wrote last year as I woke up overlooking River Street in Savannah, Georgia and watched the sun creep up over the cobblestone streets, barges, and early morning ferry boats shuttling people back and forth, a cycle of transportation and time. This prompt takes me back to those memories of pralines and Spanish moss-draped oaks and Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home nestled in the shadow of a beautiful cathedral! I can still taste the traces of a peach sangria in City Market, the diminishing drinks a cycle of sunrises and sunsets as well.

Mayan Frost

Big round waking orb
Eye opening slowly
Peering out over the blanket of pines
Ready or not to face the day
Rising slowly
Sluggish day jobber
Not quite ready to fully emerge
But still you rise
Both feet on the ground
Embracing the day
Extending full rays
Flashing a just-brushed toothy gleam
To a rapt audience
Like an over-charged cup of Starbucks
Sudden jolting glares
Blinding sunglassed drivers
Through windshields
You shine most brightly
At the height of your day
Climbing the ladder as high as it can take you
In this job
Lunch on the run – airplanes, kites, birds
Fuel for the day
Rain and clouds darken your shine
But you steal their thunder –
A light surge of effort for you
You clock out and head home
Miles to go before you sleep
Change into more comfy duds
Shed all the glinting bling
You stretch out to reflect on the day
Glimmers of hope for a brighter tomorrow
Succumb to a nightcap
Feet-first, climb under the covers
Call it a day
Big round blanketed orb,
Shooting stars patting your upturned bottom
Dreams alive in other worlds
Until tomorrow

-Kim Johnson

Gather some paint chip samples from a website or a paint department and have fun rearranging the descriptive colors into lines of poetry!
Paint chips:  smooth sailing; blank canvas; summer squash; seedling; dirt road; fresh-squeezed, chamomile tea; firefly; waterfall
smooth sailing days of spring
walking the blank canvas of
the dirt road less traveled
smelling summer squash seedlings
and fresh-squeezed tulips
ambling home for a front porch swing
cup of chamomile tea
steeped in fireflies
and waterfalls