In search of story


January 10.20

This, dear reader, is a photo of my muse, morphed once again into something elusive. The size of a turkey, in a tree full of air, she either stupidly thinks she is hiding or sadistically revels in my awareness of her.

That is, therefore, where I am: in a tree full of air. No words. Nothing to say. I’ve been stuck, wordless, for over a week. I’ve tried many times, here, there, and everywhere, to summon a thought, a word. My muse is out there peering at me through barren twigs, with a look that says “What are you going to do about it?” She knows I can’t fly so I can’t get to her to turn her upside-down and shake some words out of her.

Behind those bright black eyes swirl endless sparkling metaphors, marching feet of iambic pentameter, sentences woven of wordsilk like brilliant tapestry. And my rotten muse is keeping all that to herself.



December 21.19


People are weird.

Therefore, I, being people, am weird. Do you know, dear reader, how I sifted myself through the Venetian blinds, trying to get a good photo of this brilliant visitor? There are countless images of cardinals in the snow. Why, then, did I work so hard to photograph yet one more cardinal on one more snowy branch? Because at that moment it was MINE. A crimson splotch in a pristine cottony new-snow pouf, something wonderful — and fleeting — opposite MY window.

Maybe this is just one kind of weirdness. Maybe not everyone has the same intractable instinct to hold an image or a moment. Do we write or grab for the camera (or brush or wheel or dough scraper or needle and thread) because some of us have an invisible arm which must reach out to capture what we see and save it?

Maybe it isn’t what we see that compels. Maybe it’s what we feel when we see it. Maybe it’s the feeling we want to grab and hold.

Maybe it’s weird to wonder about it at all.

On the more practical side, my Venetian blinds got partially dusted.



May 20.19

On Being The Caboose

Do you remember the words spoken of George Washington: “First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen”? With a trifling modification, they could be spoken of me: last at the table, last out the door, last to finish anything. I was considered the dawdler, the slowpoke, the Grand Pooh-Bah of Time Wasting. My father referred to me as “the late Maureen O’Hern.”

What nonsense. I was deliberate. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand the concept of the clock; it was that the clock didn’t understand the concept of me. I was– ahem — unrushed.

And thus did I become the family caboose. Always, always last.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately because now, in a new way, I am last. Of the family I grew up with, I am the only one left. Now no one remembers but me. I am hit hard by this, not least because of my desire to write combined with my amazing inability to tell a story.

Bringing up the rear gives one a certain perspective, perhaps not entirely flattering but in a way whole. Where do I go with that? What words do I give it? I know you understand, dear reader, because you are here. You know about words. We want for permanence; in some pauper’s way, our words give that.






March 3.19

Millennia ago

a poet thought

“Why a word?”

and then she wrought

on desert stone

“Here am I”

knowing we’d

be passing by.



Thanks to photographer Mary Jo Bassett, who claims these are

two-thousand-year-old directions to Starbucks.

I leave to you, dear reader, all degrees of credulousness.