Posted by: ktzefr | June 29, 2022

Words vs Numbers

The word daisy is pretty.  The image is prettier than the word.  The number of petals in the picture doesn’t matter — unless you’re a kid plucking petals to determine loves me, loves me not…

I used to complain about having to remember numbers, such as dates on history tests.  What did it matter?

It matters to know when major events took place, such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War II, etc.  The order of events and general “ball park” dates matter to better understand the historical timeline associated with how we got to where we are.  This assumes, of course, that one also learns “why” we got to where we are.   

So, I suppose a good thing about getting older is that we find out why things like numbers matter.  Most of us do, anyway.

I easily recall useless numbers from the past – my first telephone number, my best friend’s telephone number.  These are easy to remember because we had to give the operator the number each time we made a call.  No texts or email or even dialing in those days.  The act of speaking and hearing one’s voice helps with memory.  Speaking aloud is a good way to remember something.  Nowadays, if you’re talking to yourself, folks will just think you’re on the cellphone, anyway. 

I still prefer words to numbers, however.  Sometimes I recite the grocery list in the car – bread, eggs, apples, dessert.  I try to create a word to help me remember what I need to buy.  B-e-a-d works for the above, for example.  That’s the only word I have to remember enroute to the store – bead.  For longer lists I can sometimes create a complete sentence.  The bird sings in the tree…good for 18 items.

Numbers can’t do that!

What tricks do you use to remember everyday, mostly boring but necessary, information?


Posted by: ktzefr | June 19, 2022

Father’s Day:Over the Miles and Years

Dad, 1930s

The distance from Appalachia to the Galapagos Islands can be measured in both time and space.  I was thousands of miles and 30 years from Kentucky and yet it was on a strip of barren volcanic rock riding in a recycled US school bus painted royal blue that I felt strangely connected to home.  

We were heading down a curvy hillside with the windows open and I remembered riding home from school on the bus with the wind blowing and the spring rain flying in our faces.  I was one of those fortunate kids whose mom and dad were both waiting for me when I got home.  We owned a general store out in the country and my parents spent their lives working side by side.

 One year my dad saved money and bought a set of encyclopedia for my brother, sister, and me to use in school.  The books looked plain and felt official.  I wasn’t particularly excited about reading the encyclopedia, but Dad was.  He carried them to the store with him one book at a time.  There were often long stretches of quiet between customers, and during these times he read — A to Bi, C-D, U,V, to We.  He liked to tell us “stories” he found interesting.  Although my dad left high school early to help support his family, he especially enjoyed reading about scientific discoveries or reciting poetry or giving advice that I later discovered was pretty much what Ralph Waldo Emerson had said in the 1800s.  Good advice lasts.  I sometimes hear Emerson in my own words today.

I have one small, falling-apart book of poetry that belonged to Dad.  Every now and then I flip through it to Herrick’s “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a-flying…” or Lord Byron’s “When we two parted/in silence and tears,/half broken-hearted/to sever for years…” and remember my dad quoting some verse he’d learned years earlier.

There are hand-written notes in the page margins, mostly dates.  On “The Progress of Poesy” the date Thursday, March 8, 1923; “Ode to Evening” by William Collins has the date Friday, March 9, 1923.  My dad would have been 16 years old that year.  Were these assignment dates?  His notes or those of a previous student?  Who knows?  But I do like the clear message written in ink on the “Contents” page: “This is a wicked old book.  If you don’t believe it, read it.”

Imagine:  this wonderful collection of classic poetry was something a 16-year-old could consider “wicked” in the 1920s.  I guess those really were the good old days!


Happy Father’s Day to all the dads from here to there in time and space.

Posted by: ktzefr | June 17, 2022

How to Keep Sugar Birds Happy

A lump of guava jelly to share…

Bananaquits, Antigua; Photo:KFawcett

Or the last few sips of a smoothie…

Bananaquits, Antigua; Photo:KFawcett


“Marvelous!” I say,
as I watch, now this, now that —
and springtime goes away.

~ Kito


Posted by: ktzefr | June 14, 2022

Tea, Books, Happiness

We spent the weeks before the covid lockdown in 2020 in the Caribbean, first on the island of Bonaire and then Grenada.  Soon after getting to Grenada I ran out of books to read, so I browsed a tiny, local lending library that ran on the honor system – take a book, bring it back or take a book, leave a book.  There was neither rhyme nor reason to the stuffed shelves and tables piled with books.  Rummaging through titles was like pilfering through someone’s attic.  But what fun!


I like surprises.  New adventures.  The start of journeys.  I had several such experiences in Grenada in early 2020 that have continued to bring joy through these last two years of being cooped up at home.  The discovering of one book was one of those moments that keeps taking me back to a cottage among the neem trees and bougainvillea, afternoon tea, bird song, and books.  


I read a lot, but I’ve never been interested in the “Mystery” shelves at local libraries or bookstores.  However, I came across an old paperback, yellowed and tattered (obviously well-read), which caught my attention.  The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith is the first book in a series of 23 (at the moment).  The author is Scottish and has, since the early 2000s, had a robust fan club and loyal following of readers.  There was a TV series on HBO for a short time and hints of movies.  Somehow I had missed all of that. 

The series is set in Botswana and each book follows the preceding one in characters and plot.  It doesn’t take long to get to know these characters, their unique culture, and to feel totally immersed in this country in Southern Africa defined by the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta.  The author spent many years in Botswana and his love of country shows. 

I just finished No. 7, Blue Shoes and Happiness, and await No. 8 in the mail.  I usually keep one of these going along with my other reading.  Precious Ramotswe, the main character, cannot survive a day without her morning and afternoon bush tea.  I know when I open a new book she’ll be having tea before the first chapter is done.  I will, too.



Special Places:

The gardens at Blue Horizons 

Spice Island Beach Resort

Grand Anse Beach

Tea at The Tower Estate






Posted by: ktzefr | June 11, 2022

It’s Clematis Time!

“A hundred different gourds
From the mind
Of one vine.”

~ Chiyo

Not gourds…but the clematis is blooming and from this one vine so many blossoms!

Clematis; Photo:KFawcett




Posted by: ktzefr | June 1, 2022

3 Takes On Snakes

Black snake; Photo:KFawcett

It was just a black snake,
but it was headed toward the open door.
Grab a shovel! Grab a hoe!
It would be alive today,
if it had stayed in the back yard.


It was just a black snake,
but it crept up through the heating vent
to the bathroom.
It would be alive today,
if it had stayed in the back yard.


It was just a black snake,
round and sleek and curled up…asleep?
But it went flat beneath the tires
when we hurried to the garage to go.
It would be alive today,
if it had stayed in the back yard. 


Posted by: ktzefr | May 27, 2022

Peony Petal Pushing…

The haiku poet Onitsura once said, “Outside of truth there is no poetry.”  The way to know a blossom, he said, was through one’s own heart and nose.  Too bad I can’t add the scent of peonies to these pics, but here are a few haiku for the heart.

Peony; Photo:KFawcett

“Out comes the bee
from deep among peony pistils —
oh, so reluctantly!”

~ Basho

Peony; Photo:KFawcett

There are different ways to look at the falling petals of spent blooms.  Buson saw the fallen petals as being as pretty as the flower itself as they accumulated.

“It falls, the peony —
and upon each other lie
petals, two or three.”

~ Buson

Peony; Photo:KFawcett

Hokushi saw the falling petals as symbolic of parting.  Before writing this he had been spending time with his friend, the poet Shisui, and after watching the peony petals wilt and start to scatter, he realized it was time for his friend to leave.  

“The peony flowers having fallen,
We part without regrets.”

~ Hokushi

Peony; Photo:KFawcett

The tree peony has huge white buds that open to reveal speckled red and black insides.  I would not have described speckled red and black as being a “rainbow,” but Buson does so with passion.  

“The peony bud.
When opening,
Shoots forth a rainbow.”

~ Buson

Peony; Photo:KFawcett

We used to have a neighbor who had an emerald thumb when it came to growing peonies.  His flowers were enormous.  I don’t think I’ve ever met a peony that big again.  This is an image easy to imagine…

“The peony was as big as this,”
Says the little girl
Opening her arms.

~ Issa

Peony; Photo:KFawcett

Kids will often open wide their arms to express the enormity of something, whether a dog they’ve seen, all the homework they have to do, or the amount of love they have for someone.  When kids do it, they mean it, and from a kid’s point of view those arms could hold the whole world.  

Have a peaceful Memorial Day weekend.  Open wide your arms and let someone know you care that much!


***These are all photos taken on my morning walks by my friend Anya’s lovely garden.

Posted by: ktzefr | May 25, 2022

The Language of Dogs

Years ago, on our way to Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen we passed a woman on the Stroget, the city’s popular walking street, with a little white dog.  I don’t recall whether she was reprimanding the mutt or talking sweetly to him, but she caught my attention because she was speaking in Danish.  It had never occurred to me that foreign dogs “spoke” a foreign language. 

Buenos días, Señor Perro — on a morning walk in San Miguel de Allende…

Friendly faces, San Miguel de Allende; Photo:KFawcett

In the ensuing years since Denmark, I’ve met and made friends with a number of non-English-speaking mutts.  I’ve often heard that Spanish speakers think English sometimes sounds rude, like a person is training a dog instead of asking kindly for something.  It’s always a good idea to preface a request with a “please” or a “would you be kind enough to…” in any language.  Even dogs appreciate one’s effort to speak to them in their native “human” tongue.  Obviously, it would be a lot harder to learn the nuances of proper barking.

When I was growing up in Kentucky I always had a dog.  Lady was one of the smartest. She had bright eyes and a happy personality and would “sing” when my dad played the French harp.  One night when neighbors were leaving our house after a summer fish fry she followed them and was hit by a car.  The driver didn’t even bother to slow down.  It’s frustrating and sometimes heartbreaking that dogs cannot understand more than a handful of words.  Telling a dog to stay out of the road in any language is useless.   

That night in Copenhagen I wondered what the Danish woman was saying to her little mutt as he sniffed the air and sprinted off happily ahead of her through the crowd.  Whatever it was, he clearly wasn’t listening.


Posted by: ktzefr | May 20, 2022

10 Frogs on Friday: Haiku

A favorite harbinger of spring is the first frog song…

“May rains pour:
and now the frogs are swimming
at my door!”

~ Sanpu

Frog on a leaf; Photo:KFawcett

The tree frogs sing:
and on the young leaves, suddenly
a raindrop-pattering.”


Betty’s Frog

“Springtime, and it’s “Hark!
They’re singing!” — in the summertime
frogs bark!”

~ Onitsura


“Spring rain: and as yet
the little froglets’ bellies
haven’t got wet.”

~ Buson

Porch frog; Photo:KFawcett

“On how to sing
the frog school and the skylark school
are arguing.”

~ Shiki


“A tree frog, clinging
to a banana leaf —
and swinging, swinging.”

~ Kikaku  (a comment on human life)

Thumbnail-sized frog; Photo:KFawcett

“Old pond:
frog jump-in

~ Basho


the frog observes
the clouds”

~ Chiyo

Sometimes one of the local frogs finds a cool, shady spot in the hollow leg of a plant stand where the bugs are known to gather…

“hands to the floor
offering up a song
the frog…”



“Puny frog
Don’t give up
Issa’s here!”

~ Issa

(This one was written on seeing two bullfrogs fight during mating season.  Issa was known for taking the side of the underdog.)


Have a good weekend and, when you stop to smell the flowers, listen for the frog song!

Posted by: ktzefr | May 13, 2022

5 Looks at Love on Friday…

and a few flowers!

Peony; Photo:KFawcett

Two people can disagree and both be right, especially in matters of love.  Consider these:

“Rachel says that love is like a big black piano being pushed off the top of a 3-story building and you’re waiting on the bottom to catch it.”

“But Lourdes says…It’s like a top, like all the colors in the world are spinning so fast they’re not colors anymore and all that’s left is a white hum.”

~ from “One Holy Night” by Sandra Cisneros


Tulips; Photo:KFawcett

If you understand the difference between dogs and cats, this makes perfect sense!

“Love makes so little sense
gives us a dog’s mind and a cat’s heart
reduces our lives to wrecked cars
rusting in fields of yellow flowers.”

~ from “Healing Earthquakes” by Jimmy Santiago Baca



Sometimes a quiet image works…

“The subtle verse that passes or pauses
upon the woman or upon the rose,
may be kiss or may be butterfly.”

~ from “Charitas” by Rubén Darío


This glimpse can be funny or sad — or a little of both.

“When you fall in love my sister said,
it’s like being struck by lightning.

She was speaking hopefully,
to draw the attention of the lightning.

I reminded her that she was repeating exactly
our mother’s formula, which she and I

Had discussed in childhood, because we both felt
that what we were looking at in the adults

Were the effects not of lightning
but of the electric chair.”

~ from “Prism” by Louise Gluck


Chinese Snowball Vibernum; Photo:kFawcett

Neruda’s words are almost always filled with passion and a little sadness…

“I remember you as you were in the last autumn.
You were the gray beret and the still heart.
In your eyes the flames of the twilight fought on.
And the leaves fell in the water of your soul…

Your memory is made of light, of smoke, of a still pond!”

~ from “I Remember You As You Were” by Pablo Neruda


Older Posts »