stone shaped heart

your heart is an agate
clear stone

you have won
sort of
you think

but I am water
I am waves
I will smash you against the other rocks
and wear you down

I am water
I carve you like a laser
you wear my name
carved in your stone shaped heart

it is already written there
on your stone shaped heart
faint, because water wears slowly

water wearing stone
over time


April 21, 2022

P is for Paper over

I am blogging A to Z about artists, particularly women artists and mostly about my mother, Helen Burling Ottaway. Today’s post is about my mother and my sister: another woman artist. Christine Robbins Ottaway.

I do not have much of her fine art. She was a landscape architect and historic preservation expert and worked for Caltrans. She also wrote, on her blog Butterfly Soup, and in other places.

The painting is an oil, by my mother Helen Ottaway, done when my sister was 14. This painting seems especially creepy to me, the oranges and blues. I love the painting but it is frightening as well. My sister could write terrifying stories. Here is my poem about one of her stories. The title of her story is “We don’t make good wives”.

Paper over

They are papering over your memory
They want the clean version
The inhuman perfect version
I remember the violent sea serpent
Related to Aunt Nessie: me, I think

He stole your skin, you say
But you lure him to, posing
On the shore naked
And let him take you home
And impregnate you

And then you have six daughters
What did he expect? you say
Cold blooded and beautiful
White skin and greenish hair
Who all can swim like fish
and all seven search
Until you find the skin
and then away

You say, he took my skin
Now I have taken his

Let them paper over your memory
Let them pretend you were sweet
I hold your words in my mind
And I love you wholly


ATOZBLOGGINGCHALLENGE2022 #art #Women artists #Helen Burling Ottaway #ATOZCHALLENGE #Christine Robbins Ottaway #APRILATOZ

For more information about the #AtoZChallenge, check out this link.



You have my blessing to travel
Now, then forever.

You have my blessing to travel
With your guitar.

Go, with my blessing, travel.
Or don’t, as you will.

You have my blessing to hunt.
Now, then, forever.

You have my blessing to hunt
With your guns.

Go, with my blessing, hunt
Or don’t, as you will.

You have my blessing to sing.
Now, then, forever.

You have my blessing to sing
With your guitar.

Go, with my blessing, sing.
Or don’t, as you will.

You have my blessing to travel
But not with me.

You have my blessing to hunt
But not with me.

You have my blessing to sing
But not with me.

You have my blessing, not me.
Now, then, forever.


For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: grief.

J is for joy

I am blogging A to Z about artists, particularly women artists and mostly about my mother, Helen Burling Ottaway.

I am nearly done traveling and I am running out of photographs of Helen Ottaway’s work! J could be for jonquil but there are none in this watercolor. But I think it is a joyous and messy bouquet, typical of my mother. She would complain about her garden, how it was riotous chaotic beauty rather than neat rows. But I loved her garden and her bouquets and her paintings, untamed and joyous!

This watercolor is from 1994, the year before my parents moved from Alexandria, Virginia to Chimacum, Washington. My grandmother’s house two doors down from my parent’s house was sold. Someone came to my parents’ house and said, “They are ripping out the garden!” The new owners tore out the beautiful and elaborate garden that my grandmother had paid her granddaughter in law to design and build. Many uncommon plants, torn out and in a pile on the sidewalk. The whole neighborhood of gardeners turned out to take the plants home and replant them. The garden was replaced with bushes and two rows of marigolds down the path. I suspect that that household was shunned by the neighborhood gardeners for years after that and I wondered if my grandmother would haunt them. I do not have marigolds in my garden! My mother shrugged and said, “Well, they own the property.” but she could barely stand to walk by it.

I think the bouquet is from my mother’s own garden, a mix of humble and more exotic flowers. I love the purple and it gives me joy.

ATOZBLOGGINGCHALLENGE2022 #art #Women artists #Helen Burling Ottaway #ATOZCHALLENGE


What is interested?

I am very interested in what my partner is doing. I may not be interested in the things he is collecting, but I am still interested in hearing about them, because he is interested. It is fun to listen to people’s expertise and joy and obsessions. Most people know a lot about something, and it’s often surprising to find out the topic or topics they take joy in.

When we first moved to town, our piano developed a key that did not work right. The piano tuner could not fix it. A second piano tuner also couldn’t fix it. We were talking to a neighbor and he said that he had worked with church organs in the past. He was the fix it when something was buzzing or not right. He said sometimes it was a loose board in the church that would vibrate with certain keys. He said that he was very good at fixing these, by wandering around the church and listening.

We said, please, come see our piano.

He came. He listened to the key and walked around the room. He pulled the piano out from the wall. This is a 1905 upright grand, big and heavy. The movers hate it and it breaks dollies. He looked in back and pulled out the culprit: a tuning instrument left inside! We had no idea how many years it had been there. It had rolled during the move and gotten stuck near the strings, affecting that one key! Fixed, instantly. We were delighted!

My partner seems disinterested in most of what I do. I am trying to understand this. I do not understand this. I am experiencing it as disinterest in ME. As if what I do or say is unimportant and only his interests are important. I always have to work on diplomacy, because it doesn’t come naturally to me. I am working on this. It feels asymmetric, unfair, unkind, to have my interest repaid with disinterest. I don’t like it and I am listening to that dislike. I also do not understand it. Though I do have a friend who has six interests and EVERYONE knows what they are, because that is all he talks about. He has a lot of expertise in all six. I am interested in everything, a generalist, and I am interested in what makes people fired up and passionate. I don’t care if it is model trains or knitting. We can learn so much from each other.

mer loss

Here is a closeup up the mer creature from the beach. I could not return her to the sea and I fear it would be futile anyhow. I photograph her for posterity.

But the tide goes out and comes back in. She is gone the next day. Was she returned to the sea? I couldn’t move her but the tide can move boulders. I hope that she got home and is not dead and is safe.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: futile. Maybe not.