A voice heard halfway around the world

CS Lewis quote; image by The Tromp Queen, CC license.

Most days, I probably spend a little too much time on Facebook.
On weekends I probably spend a LOT too much time on Facebook.

But sometimes I’m deeply touched by the things I read and see there.
I’m flabbergasted by the kindness of strangers and friends.

I feel connected to people and places I’ll probably never see again (or ever see period).

Yesterday I made a new friend.
She lives in Hobart, Tasmania and I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Here’s how it happened.

As I was scrolling through my newsfeed, I saw a post about a conversation between two friends:


(at Starbucks)
FRIEND: I need a tea. Do you want anything?

ME: A new president.

Thinking the post was by a friend, I commented:

“I can’t believe it’s only been a week.”

Turns out the post was from another source and a friend had re-posted it. A short while later I got this very kind message from a woman in Australia who said my comment struck a chord with her which prompted her to contact me:

Please excuse me contacting you like this .
I normally wouldn’t. But I’m sitting here in Hobart Tasmania like 12 thousand miles from Washington and I was thinking exactly what you said

” I can’t believe it’s only been a week”

A cry from the heart or just a bemused thought or whatever.

Exactly that. A week in time. There’s 52 in each year. If things are 208 times worse in 4 years god help us all long before then.

My apologies again but you struck a chord in me. Peace.

This was my reply:

Thank you for your words. I had planned to try to bury my head in the sand for the next four years, trying to naively believe all will be well. Every single day it is more apparent that I can not in good conscience pursue that passive path. My comment was a cry from the heart; I appreciate being heard.

I was having a bout of insomnia. It was about 1:30 am here and I don’t know what time there, but I’m guessing 17 or 18 hours since it is almost literally half-way around the world.

We chatted (via Facebook Messenger) about the new US President and various issues, then meandered on to family and common interests.

I spent a little time trying to figure out if she and I had any mutual friends.
We didn’t.
This was truly a serendipitous connection.

We decided to become friends on Facebook and just started our first game of Words with Friends together.

A person can never have too many friends — virtual or otherwise.
Being kind is always a good thing to be.


Top Ten: Interesting and Inspiring Finds

I want to share some of my
very favorite websites and pages with you!

1.  That Tree: This project started in the area of my old hometown! Mark Hirsch took a photograph of an old oak tree every day for a year and posted the photos on his Facebook page.  The beauty and artistry (and his perseverance) attracted a wider and wider audience as the year progressed.  The project is now internationally famous.  He has published a beautiful book and has done many national interviews.  He continues to post photos of That Tree frequently, but not every day now.

People gather for the group pic.  photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill
People gather for the group pic. photo by quirkyjazz aka Jill

(Note:  I am actually IN the book!  I was one of the people who gathered in the field on that cold, snowy day last March to celebrate the final day of the year of photographs.  We are all in the book with That Tree.)

2.  Historical Pics:  This site has off-beat photographs of historic events, people, and random things galore.  For instance:

Louis Armstrong plays for his wife in Giza, 1961.

3.  Holstee: “Holstee exists to encourage mindful living. We hope to change the way people look at life by designing unique products and sharing meaningful experiences.”  This is the blurb from their website.  The company is cooler than this blurb sounds.  They have some great free inspirational downloads.

This is your LIFE. Holstee Manisfesto. A longer version of this is printed as a poster and notecards.

4.  Brain Pickings:  This site has a continual stream of quirky, artistic, off-the-beaten-path, intelligent, and inspiring articles and illustrations.  One of my recent favorites is a list of New Year’s resolutions from people like Woody Guthrie and Marilyn Monroe! Read it here.  Take some time to browse their archives, though, if you can.  Enjoy!

5.  Do you know about Humans of New York?  This link takes you to the Facebook page, where a photo is posted every day with a short quote or conversation.  I find it incredibly moving.  I got the book as a Christmas gift and just love it!

6.  Colossal: The tag line says “art and visual culture.”  Their blurb says this:  Each week you’ll find 15-25 posts on photography, design, animation, painting, installation art, architecture, drawing, and street art. Colossal is also a great place to learn about the intersection of art and science as well as the beauty of the natural world. There are frequently posts about things far out in left field, but generally Colossal is a reminder that in this digital age there are still countless people making incredible work with their bare hands.

You’ll see things like this:

Pierre Javelle and Akiko Ida: Minimiam, via Colossal

and this:

Martin Hill and Philippa Jones: via Colossal

GORGEOUS and so beautiful!

7.  Another site I can spend quite a while browsing in is:
Laughing Squid. Their website “about” blurb:  Based in New York City, Laughing Squid is a blog featuring compelling art, culture & technology as well as a cloud-based web hosting company with a focus on WordPress hosting. For more info see our FAQ and Wikipedia.

Here are a few very memorable examples of the odd-ball kind of things you’ll find at Laughing Squid.

8. Letters of Note:  This site publishes letters written by various famous and not-so-famous people.  It is intriguing, amazing, engaging, humorous, and full of information.

“In our age of email and texts, letter-writing seems set for extinction. But millions have been flocking to a website to pore over the correspondence collected by blogger Sean Usher.”

Click here for a wonderful example of historic correspondence Letters of Note highlights. (This links to a series of letters between Ford Motor Company and poet Marianne Moore as they discuss various car names).  Here is a link to the Letters of Note “best of 2013” list.  This one is from a Dallas hospital administrator in 1963.  Letters of Note recently published a book as well.

9.  Noisetrade: This site has gobs of free music.  Tag line:  Free music from thousands of artists who would like to meet you. You can sample, listen online and request a download code.  If you like what you hear, you have several opportunities to leave tips for the artists. I have found this a great avenue for discovering new music to get me out of my listening ruts. There is a limit to the number of downloads per day (something like 8 or 10? not very limiting really).

You can get this album free (and choose from thousands more!) at Noisetrade.com

10.  Word Porn:  I love obscure and interesting words.  This site has many that I never heard of or even imagined existed!

I’d love to hear about some of YOUR favorite places to browse around on the web.  Please share!

Thank YOU and Accidentally Deleted Media?

This image shows the view from the carpark &qu...
View from the carpark “Rest and be Thankful” near Arrochar in Scotland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Tromp Queen Readers and Followers,

T H A N K  YOU for your support, encouragement, comments and inspiration.  I’m thankful for each and every one of my readers and followers.

I never dreamed that I would find friends through writing a blog, and I’m so thankful for the wonderful people I’ve met and gotten to know here.

I’m grateful that I listened to the urging of five vociferous Facebook friends for the nudge (shove!) they gave me to begin writing a blog.  I’m enjoying it more than I ever dreamed I would.


An administrative note:
I saw a notice in my dashboard or stats that said I was using more than half of my media storage space.  I thought I should go back and delete photos from my library to create more space for the future.  I assumed that if the photos and media were already IN a blog post that they would be “safe.”  I am not completely sure, but I have seen some evidence that this is, in fact, NOT the case.  I checked my fabric covered tiles post and many of the photos were NOT showing up.  My request of you is this: If you are reading any of my older posts and see “missing” pictures, please let me know!!  I would greatly appreciate your help with this.  I am trying to read through all the posts to check the media, but this is December and I am a musician (which translates to busy, busy, busy).  😉  THANK YOU!!!

Seeing Beauty in Unlikely Places

The Greatest Secrets are Always Hidden in Unlikely Places

In the book poemcrazy the author describes how she learned to be wary of sharing her observations about beauty.

image by ViaMoi via Flickr CC

“When I was ten or eleven I caught some snowflakes on my mitten. (—) I’d never looked closely at a real snowflake before — a powdery, intricate pinwheel poised like a minicathedral near my thumb.

I called Bonnie and Loie over to see the amazing snowflake on my mitten. Bonnie began to mimic me in a high voice, “Look at the pretty little snowflake!”

I learned that day that there didn’t seem to be a place for a person describing a snowflake on a mitten. After that I was quiet about what I saw so I wouldn’t make a fool of myself. I learned to be quiet about beauty.

Often we keep secret because we’re not only embarrassed to be who we are in front of other people, we feel genuinely embarrassed by who we are.
Oh, Susan, you’ve gone too far. You’re exposed out there on your squirrely limb, out of bounds. You oddball of oddballs.

In poems we can flourish out there on our limbs. It’s one of the mysteries of poetry for me. The language and form of a poem creates a blue bubble I can float into the world as if my secrets are in an impenetrable container with boundaries, yet see-through like a bottle.

I feel safe because poems take me to a place out of normal time and thought, dipping me below the surface to where we all meet. And there, as if we’re in silent collusion, it’s safe to say whatever we want. Writing poems, we’re tapping the part of our consciousness that knows we’re safe.
I’ve seen secret after secret spill out in people’s poems, and I’ve spilled secret after secret about myself. The poem speaks in confidence. The reader feels included, honored, and keeps the secret.”

—- from poemcrazy by Susan G. Wooldridge, Chapter 20 “snowflakes and secrets” p. 74-75.

As I read this short chapter in poemcrazy, I immediately identified with the feeling of being hesitant to share my love of beauty. Only recently have I been brave enough to try to put feelings and images into words and share poetry with others here in the blogosphere.

Oh yes, I’ve been teased for noticing beauty — more than once. I look at light and shadow, texture and color, design and detail. I am constantly amazed by rocks, trees, leaves, clouds, scenic views and all manner of natural objects. Sometimes it just comes out of my mouth at odd times and people kind of roll their eyes at me. Whatever. I’ve learned to deal with that reaction mostly by ignoring it or rushing to explain exactly what it is I find so beautiful about whatever I commented on.

Way back in junior high school days, I was teased because of my strangely huge and somewhat odd vocabulary. I didn’t think I used exceptional words at all! I loved reading then, and I still do. I actively look for interesting new words and tend to look up definitions for any words that mystify me.

In high school, I was fortunate to have excellent English teachers (Mr. Fawley, Mr. Iden and others) who instilled in me a love for words, symbolism and verbal imagery. I fell instantly in love with Wordsworth’s “I wandered lonely as a cloud” and through all the years since that love has deepened and widened and matured.

Another source for my love of poetry and of words in general appeared several years ago when I discovered Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. At the time, I was in the car each day when this feature was broadcast on NPR. Keillor reads a poem at the beginning of each segment and then goes on to describe literary connections to this day in history (author birthdays, historic first editions, and so forth). You can read a sample here which features the poem “Practicing” by Linda Pastan. You can follow Writer’s Almanac on Facebook, twitter, podcast and via email. I highly recommend it.

So how does all this rambling come together? I started out thinking this would be about finding beauty in unlikely places. It still is.

Renee's Salon of Beauty -- Flickr CC image by S Jones
Renee’s Salon of Beauty —
Flickr CC image by S Jones

My point is that we shouldn’t shy away from the beauty in ourselves. It is not always easy to embrace what is good, beautiful and unique in ourselves. If I am a “beauty canary” (or if you are) then so be it! See it and celebrate it. Share it. Even better — write a poem about it and share it here.

Maybe the reason some of us are tuned to notice beauty is to point it out to those who don’t notice it.

Speaking of beauty in odd places, there are a couple of Facebook pages I enjoy and would like to recommend to anyone who has not yet discovered them:

Humans of New York — A photographer snaps street photographs of random people in NYC and has a short conversation as well. Amazing stuff happens.

Complete Strangers Pose as Family — Odd, but quite beautiful. Which means, of course, that I love it! (as I described in on my Fb wall recently).

Fuchsia or Fuschia?

I am usually pretty good at spelling.  (I humbly add that I was the 8th grade spelling champion at my Junior High School way back in the stone ages).

lovely fuchsia bougainvillea

I discovered tonight, though, that I have been spelling my favorite color wrong for a very long time!

I was posting some photos to Facebook from our fabulous trip to Turkey.  When it came time to add the descriptions, I Googled how to spell Bougainvillea.  Then I added the adjective “fuschia.” It had the little red wiggly line under it, so I thought maybe I should Google that word, too, even though I was fairly sure I had spelled the color correctly.

Up came a blog post entitled “Is it Fuchsia or Fuschia?”  I read the blog post and was surprised to find that I am not alone in my confusion!  Here is the link to the blog post.  In it you will find the answer to this tricky and confusing question.

I would be happy to hear if any of you are phantom fuchsia misspellers, too.

Excited and Scared.

I feel a little like Red Riding Hood in “Into the Woods” — excited and scared.

After living in one place, one town, one house for nearly 17 years my family will be moving to a new place, a new city, and a new (possibly new?) house.

We just announced our plans publicly today via email and Facebook.  Now everyone knows what has been percolating under the surface for a couple of months.

Saying goodbye is not an easy thing.  Change is not something most of us embrace without a struggle of some sort.  New beginnings usually (almost always, I think) mean the end of something else.

I feel happy and sad at the same time.  Hopeful and unsettled.  Eager and hesitant.  Joy and Sorrow.

I saw this quilt in my newsfeed today.

PersimonDreams Color Wheel Scrap Quilt




Though we can’t see the overall pattern of each choice and each decision we make in our lives — the way each color and texture and pattern will go together — in the end it will turn out to be breathtakingly beautiful if we follow our hearts, our passion and our love.  We walk by faith, not by sight.