nano progress


Day 15  721

Day 16  3252

Day 17  1878



jacarandas and emily dickinson














Jacarandas make me think of Emily Dickinson. Even in my own mind I find it an odd association since Dickinson’s poetry reflects her fascination with illness, dying and death–a striking contrast to the joyful beauty of the jacaranda tree. But also she wrote much about flowers and gardens too.

There are various lines in her poetry that echo my feeling about jacaranda trees. From Poem IX, “Purple finger on the slope…,” and from Poem XII, the “tune is in the tree.” Out of context, but somehow fitting these purple heralds of spring in southern California.

Jacarandas are like the “unaccustomed wine” Dickinson writes of in Poem XXVIII. The flare of lavender against a blue spring sky soothes the soul parched by winter.

Dickinson’s poetry sings with the same beauty a jacaranda flings against the sky. (Although her original poems were frequently altered by publishers to suit traditional poetry conventions of the time–wtf.) But, if you are a fan, you can find 1082 of her poems at the PoemHunter site. Dickinson wrote nearly 1800 poems during her lifetime. It is a good thing that her younger sister Lavinia did not follow Emily Dickinson’s request to burn her papers upon her death.

One of the things I shall miss when I move to Alabama in a couple more months is the  jacaranda catching the eyes in its lacy lavender branches.


Durnstein, Austria

Durnstein, Austria.6.10.15 The cruise from Melk to Durnstein along the Danube was a panoramic fantasy. It is that long sweep of the Danube between Krems and Melk known as “the Wachau” and it is truly lovely, a valley out of a fairytale realm. Too bad I can’t upload the video I took of entering Durnstein.

Cruising to Durnstein

Castle Ruins5.DurnsteinHaving been told of a fabled bone box in the cemetery of the old church in the village, my friends and I hied off to walk what we thought was the road leading to the cemetery. It was a steep path that got steeper and steeper until my heart said “Sit your butt down now!.” Turns out we were on the path to the medieval ruins of Durnstein Castle where King Richard I of England was held prisoner by Leopold V, Duke of Austria.

Exhausted from our futile climb, we gave up the search and strolled the cobblestone streets visiting shops and taking in the pretty town before going back to the Viking Legend.Street in Durnstein

After a quick consult at Legend’s reception desk, with evening descending, we went off again in search of the bone box. We were determined. Once again we found ourselves on a steep path to nowhere until Neal spotted an old wall and gate tucked around a curve back down at the start of the path, practically hidden by the lay of the road. The old cemetery! We stepped through the unlocked gate into a garden of well-kept tombs blooming with rose bushes sheltering long-buried families of Durnstein, in the looming shadow of an ancient church. (Unfortunately, for some reason the cemetery photos I took won’t import from my camera, despite iPhoto insisting all photos have been imported! So frustrating!) Luck wasn’t with us, as it turns out. A construction wall closed off the area where the bone box was said to be. Dagnabit! We soothed our disappointment with a rest at the riverbank before strolling back to the ship for dinner.Riverbank View

 The Wachau Valley still has its medieval landscape with outcroppings of castle ruins, monuments to the age of knights, hills thickly bearded with forest, and charming red-roofed, white-walled towns threaded by aged streets of cobblestones.Alley in DurnsteinPink GeraniumsCastle Stone Fragment

Danube Waltz

Evening in Passau

Evening in Passau

Eight days of leisure coursing along on one of Europe’s great rivers. Each day began for me with a cafe au lait or cappuccino and a luxurious breakfast in the Viking Legend’s dining room with forested river views and the company of friends (there were 7 of us), and then that day’s shore excursion–following the guide through medieval villages threaded with cobblestone streets, through cities chock full of 18th and 19th century architectural beauties (nearly lost my mind among the striking medieval architecture crowning Budapest, Queen of the Danube, and rightfully so. Props to Vienna too, no princess come lately to the architectural ball.) Soaked up a multiplicity of historical details and information, and wore out my Canon, iPad, and iPhone cameras.

Passau, known as the City of Three Rivers, located in southeastern Bavaria, borders Austria, a stroll away across the bridge. Three rivers, the Danube, the Ilz, and the Inn flow through, coming together in a confluence of green and brown waters. Originally a Celtic settlement named “Boiodurum,” it became the diocese of Passau and a bishopric. Its fortune rose on the salt trade, known as White Gold, making it a rich city, giving its merchants a powerful monopoly until 1707 when all salt imports to Passau were forbidden and Passau, a shining star of the Holy Roman Empire, lost its luster.

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen’s Cathedral, (Baroque) 

blue, white, and gold

Peaches in Sun
I’ve written about ten short stories and each of them, except for one, took a long time, like finding every grain of rice in a pot of sand. Back in 2011, I think, or maybe 2012, I began a short story titled Dust, wrote about three pages at the time, came up against the wall and put it away. It’s lingered in my story file since then. Last week I dug it up out of its paper grave and wrote some more of it. It’s now at 3,947 words and I may finish it soon.

For nearly a month I was at a loss with it, particularly a scene I call the “house blessing.” I couldn’t write one word of that scene although I knew some of the action, I didn’t know its actual purpose, what was to happen and where it would take the story. Any number of things could happen, but I needed to know why and what for. What stopped me for the past couple years was once I’d written those three pages, the well ran dry. The brain said, “That’s all, folks!” Pretty much like Porky Pig.

I’m thrilled as a bunny in a newly-grown garden of lettuce to have managed thirteen additional pages, though I’ve no idea how long it’ll be.

I love reading short stories; I love the short story form, its tight structure containing character, conflict, and resolution all in one tidy package. I’m determined to master the art of the short story.
Not so much June gloom this year. The days have been gloriously sunny with lots of blue sky; the nights have been cool and summer is sweeping in, blue, white, and gold.