Posted tagged ‘watercolor’

Winter Sonnet- Trying to Cool Down

January 8, 2010

Winter Light

Yesterday, I posted a poem “Porch” which was, at least a bit, about remembering summer’s warmth in winter.  Here’s perhaps a truer winter poem, about trying to cool down (emotionally) out in the cold.  It’s a sonnet, written in a Shakespearean rhyme scheme.  For more on sonnets – wintry sonnets, Spenserian sonnets, rhyme and meter in sonnets, click on the links, or check out the poetry category from the ManicDDaily home page.

(Reading note–in my poems, pauses come with punctuation and not, necessarily, at line breaks.    Thanks for reading!)

Winter Light

The corn bent down in broken-spined decay
as she thickly squelched her way to what she hoped
was fresher mind, clear of a stuffy day
spent in a house where all resolve had moped.
In movement, mud, cold, steely winter air,
she sought to shed the skin of that day’s self.
She’d bitched at him;  she knew she wasn’t fair,
but his acceptance of their place upon life’s shelf
tore anger from her ribs like leonine jaws.
It spewed, it spattered, stained everywhere she walked.
She knew regrets to come should give her pause,
but his patient face made self-possession balk.
So she labored through the frozen field of corn
waiting for redemption to be borne.

All rights reserved.  Karin Gustafson.

Poem Wishing For Warmth – It’s Going On Somewhere

January 7, 2010



The porch pulled them to its side,
invited nestling upon shaded planks,
recalled cool soft times, clover in fields,
the day she cut his hair, and then they picked
out smooth flat stones,
and lined them along its surface, thick with
years of knobby deck paint.  Against it,
the stones shone like perfect moons to plant upon
winter table tops, reminders
that nights sown by fireflies
were going on some where, some time.

All rights reserved.  Karin Gustafson.

(If you prefer elephants to porches, check out 1 Mississippi by Karin Gustafson on Amazon.)

Old/New Source of Alternative Energy (Heat) – The Hot Water Bottle

January 4, 2010

Hot Water Bottle (Remembered)

I’m all for solar power, wind power, and other renewable alternatives to fossil fuels.  But during last night’s bitter cold, which was especially frigid in Battery Park City (where I live), the prow of the stationary ship which is Manhattan, I discovered an eminently traditional, and yet not fully tapped, form of alternative energy (i.e. heat).  The hot water bottle.

Seriously.  It was terrific. Better than wool socks.  (Maybe not as good as a nearby warm body, but warm bodies don’t necessarily put up with cold feet other than their own.)

As a caveat, I should say that I keep my apartment relatively (my kids say, ‘extremely’) cool (my kids say, ‘freezing’) in winter.  Besides trying to keep my carbon footprint to a toeprint, I find hot air heat too dry.   This means that I basically turn all the heat off at night.  (Okay, so maybe my kids are right.)

But last night called for measures beyond wool socks, a down comforter, and even a nearby warm body.

I have to confess to a past prejudice against hot water bottles, their rubbery exteriors so (potentially, at least) slimy and nubbly.  Besides my innate repugnance, my only personal experience with hot water bottles was in Mussoorie, India, a town in the foothills of the Himalayas, bordering Rishikesh (the hang-out of Maharaji Mahesh Yogi the Beatles’ guru)  and Dehra Dun (a favorite locale of Rudyard Kipling).

Mussoorie, though a very nice town, probably sounds more romantic than it is, at least when you are there alone, as I was.   It was green, hilly, and, on the small main road had a small boy who ran alongside a single thin wheel which he propelled with a stick.   On a clear day, there was a tower you could climb where you could supposedly see Tibet.  (I was not there on any clear days.)

Other than that, all I remember about Mussoorie is that it was very cold at night and that in my guest house, a remnant of the Raj, guests were distributed hot water bottles after dinner.  These, a sickly blue green, were covered in a worn crochet of thick bright red and purple yarn;  up by the corked top was a dog-eared yarn flower.

My memory of these hot water bottles is somewhat muddled by the baths in that same hotel.  The tubs were portable, small and tin, just about big enough for a squat.  When I came back to the hotel in the late afternoons, there was, next to the little tin tub, a very large aluminum tea kettle coated in an even larger quilted tea cozy.  Though the water in this kettle was close to boiling (depending upon when one came back to the room), there was only enough to fill the very cold noisy tub to the depth of an inch or two.  I remember taking all baths in at least one wool sweater.

Unfortunately, the crochet-covered hot water bottle and the tea-cozy-covered bath water became inextricably linked in my mind.  As a result, I always thought of hot water bottles with a shiver from the waist down.

Until last night, that is, when my husband, in response to the buzzing cold of my feet,  found a dark red hot water bottle in the back of a bathroom cabinet, and filled it up to the brim.

What a revelation!  My own little heat pillow.  My own little adjustable portable hearth.   At virtually no cost!  Using minimal fossil fuel!

Okay, so, it sounds silly.  But it also seems a useful paradigm for reducing U.S. energy consumption.    Heating one small actually used space, as needed, instead of the nonstop heating of a whole apartment, or house.  A helpful idea even when oil has not yet gotten back up to $100 a barrel.  (News alert—it went over $81 today.)

No crochet required.

ps- if you prefer paintings of elephants to hot water bottles, check out 1 Mississippi by Karin Gustafson.

Getting Ready….

December 24, 2009


Have a lovely Christmas Eve!

(All rights reserved.  Karin Gustafson)

Elephant-Dog Thanksgiving

November 26, 2009

You can't please everyone.

Or maybe you can.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For more on Thanksgiving (and pleasing), check out “Is That Gravy Hot Enough?”  at “Ten Reasons to Be Thankful in 2009” at…ankful-in-2009/.

All rights reserved, Karin Gustafson.

Thankful for No Snakes

November 24, 2009

Doesn't Mind Snakes (From 1 Mississippi, BackStroke Books, Karin Gustafson)

You  know those moments in which your life has exceeded all maximum legal occupancy rates and weights and is crashing straight down some shaft?

Or maybe it’s a question of balance.  In your case, it’s so off, that you’ve long passed the tipping point and are now crashing at the perfect tilt to cause maximum cranial damage.

Or perhaps there’s no direct crash.  Perhaps your life is overflowing to the point that the only way to save the levees is to swallow as much sea water as possible.

As if there weren’t already enough pressure, you suddenly remember an important appointment.  Because it had so completely slipped your mind, this moment of recollection  is fraught with anxiety.  You are certain, at first, that you have already missed the appointment.  In the next moment, you realize, with bare relief, that the important appointment is tomorrow.  But this hardly makes you feel better, because there’s no way that you’ll be ready even by the next day.  The anxiety that had gripped your heart shifts to your stomach.

What is worse is that you are going through this whole litany in the middle of a subway car rather than in one of those classic late-to-school, naked-in-class, day-of-the-test dreams (from which you could conceivably awake.)  

What do you do?    What are your options?

1.  Call in sick and stay home in bed obsessively reading Twilight.

2.  There are many much better books in the world;  call in sick and obsessively read one of those.

3.  Don’t just call in sick, actually get sick.  (This may even get you two or three days off the hook.)

4.  Consider computer games.

5.  Or baking.  If you do bake, make sure to save some treats for your boss.

6.  Stop waiting till 8 or 9 pm for your one glass of wine per day.

7.  Who said you had to stop at one?

8.  Finally, remember the wisdom of Nanny Ogg,  a Discworld persona  created by the incomparable Terry Pratchett.  In Carpe Jugulum, Nanny, a witch, and her colleague, Magrat Garlick, with newborn baby in tow, engage in a hazardous escape from (you guessed it) a vampire takeover which has defeated Granny Weatherwax.  As their rickety coach gets stuck in a flooding rainstorm, the baby’s diaper begins to smell, and Magrat complains of their plight, Nanny offers the comforting thought that their situation could be worse.

“How could it be worse?” Magrat asks incredulously.

“Well,”  Nanny says, “there could be snakes in here with us.”

Be thankful that New York City subway cars, by and large, do not house snakes.

(Sorry, by the way, for paraphrasing Pratchett from memory.   If you don’t know his many many wonderful books, check them out!)

And if you are stressed, long for the soothing of watercolors, don’t mind snakes, and would really really like to learn to count (with elephants), check out 1 Mississippi by Karin Gustafson on Amazon, or at the ManicDDaily homepage.