Thursday, August 27, 2020

Sunday, August 23, 2020


John (S) Cooper --a.k.a. Jack (on the left-Loal Hendricks on the right), was a “teamster.” This meant he could handle six big horses as they pulled a heavy wagon over dirt roads for many miles. The job took him to Twin Falls, Idaho where he hauled freight for his future father-in-law, Juel Hendricks. Hendricks was using his teams and wagons to bring freight to Twin Falls from Shoshone where the Union Pacific Railroad made a stop. 

Two of Hendricks’ sons, Loal and William (better known as Ace), also drove teams. The wagons were loaded at the train station in Shoshone and traveled the thirty miles south to the city of Twin Falls, Idaho which is built near the edge of the vertical canyon of the Snake River. The only way to cross at that time was by a single lane track that switch-backed down the side of the canyon wall. 

The road then crossed the canyon floor to a ferry on the river. 

When Jack and his friends' wagons reached the bottom of the canyon they would race to see who could get to the ferry for the first ride across. Once across the river they drove their wagons up a narrow dug-way that was built into the lava rock walls of the south side. 

It took them all day to go from Shoshone, then down into the canyon to cross the Snake River by ferry. When they were finally on the south side of the river they camped for the night.  The next day they traveled the last few miles up the other side and into the town of Twin Falls. 

 According to Jack’s son, Lindell, (my dad) at one point the south side road passed under the waterfall of the Perrine Coulee which dropped over the rim. 

I found this photo of a freight road going down into the canyon to a ferry which crossed the river but this one was farther downriver toward Buhl and connected the Boise area to a stop on the Transcontinental Railroad at Kelton, Utah. 

If the road passed under Perrine Coulee it had to be near there. I remember my dad, taking me down into the canyon to the Blue Lakes Ranch where we crossed the river and went to the south side of the canyon to see the waterfall as it dropped over the canyon rim. 

I checked Google Street View. Those guys go everywhere! 

The road, now called the Blue Lakes Grade, is still very narrow but at least it is paved. The sign on the right says, “Caution, yield to uphill traffic.” Note how deep and steep this part of the canyon is and now imagine driving it in a loaded wooden freight wagon behind six big horses on a road which at that time would have been just be a rocky trail.

At the bottom of the canyon is a campground. But I don’t think Jack, Loal and Ace had picnic tables and a bathroom when they stayed in this area overnight. 

Now a bridge takes traffic across the river where the road starts the steep climb up the south side. The Perrine Coulee Waterfall can be seen on the upper right of this photo. 

More switchbacks and now the Perrine Bridge can be seen a few miles upriver to the east. The bridge was built in 1927 and was the way my family reached the city of Twin Falls where we traveled for shopping from our farm in Dietrich, Idaho. This bridge was replaced in 1976 by a four-lane bridge. 

Talk about hairpin turns! Even the Google Street View people must have had second thoughts.

 This road doesn’t go right under the falls and I think the water has eroded the canyon back some since Jack drove the canyon in his freight wagon.

 But there is a hiking trail which can be taken to a view under the falls.
The road takes a traveler up the vertical rock canyon wall to the rim which is a few miles from the city of Twin Falls, Idaho.

 Here’s a photo I found of a stage coach stopped near the waterfall. Our pioneer ancestors knew how to travel in style.

Thursday, April 30, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Our final (optional) prompt! In some past years, I’ve challenged you to write a poem of farewell for our thirtieth day, but this year, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem about something that returns. For, just as the swallows come back to Capistrano each year, NaPoWriMo will ride again!


After an unfortunate haircut 
I took solace in realizing 
My hair would return. 
And there is comfort in knowing 
The months of snow will go, 
The days of will rain end, 
The mud will dry, 
The screeching birds 
Outside my window 
When I want to sleep 
Will finally take a break. 
What if, like my Barbie’s hair, 
They didn’t come back?

Wednesday, April 29, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Write a paean to the stalwart hero of your household: your pet. Sing high your praises and tell the tale of Kitty McFluffleface’s ascension of Mt. Couch. Let us hear how your intrepid doggo bravely answers the call to adventure whenever the leash jingles.

Bingo the black and white collie 
Could smile with a grin that was jolly. 
When there wasn’t a herd 
He’d round up the birds. 
When they flew off he’d laugh at his folly. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Today’s (optional) prompt is brought to us by the Emily Dickinson Museum. First, read this brief reminiscence:  Martha Dickinson Bianchi’s description of her aunt Emily’s cozy room, scented with hyacinths and a crackling stove, warmly recalls the setting decades later. Describe a bedroom from your past in a series of descriptive paragraphs or a poem. 

The Best Bedroom Ever

A tent on a sandy beach 
Of the Salmon River. 
Resting on cots. 
No need for covers. 
Night so warm, 
Rain fly is open. 
Screen keeps out bugs 
But lets in the stars. 
A breath of sage 
And evergreen 
Floats on the dark. 
Far from all sound 
But the grumble 
Of rolling water. 
A vision of the day 
Still sighs through the mind. 

Monday, April 27, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Write a poem in the form of a review. But not a review of a book or a movie of a restaurant. Instead, I challenge you to write a poetic review of something that isn’t normally reviewed. For example, your mother-in-law, the moon, or the year 2020.

Aunt Ellen’s Carrot Cake 

She used carrots fresh from the garden. 
She would have scorned baby carrots. 
Aunt Ellen was my husband’s mother’s half-sister. 
She was an experienced cook from Blanding, Utah. 

Her Carrot Cake Recipe is a treasure. 
The simplicity of preparation, 
And the familiar ingredients, 
Put the creation of this fine dessert 
Within reach of even the inexperienced. 

Don’t reject the simple storyline
And the stained 3x5 card. 
The writing gets to the point without rambling. 
The addition of raisins and walnuts 
Was not an unexpected plot twist. 
In fact, they were necessary for the final result. 
Aunt Ellen’s Carrot cake will not disappoint. 
Five Stars. 

Spoiler Alert—The Actual Recipe copied from her own stained 3x5 card follows: 


In a large mixing bowl cream together: 
1 ½ cups shortening (part can be soft butter) 
2 cups white or brown sugar 
4 eggs, one at a time 
Peel and grate enough carrots to yield 3 cups 
Add and mix well. 

Sift together and add: 
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour 
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda 
2 teaspoons cinnamon. 
Stir in: 
1 cup chopped walnuts 
1 cup raisins 
Pour the batter into a greased and floured 13x9 baking pan 
Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour at 350 degrees (Fahrenheit) 

Note: A cream cheese frosting is traditional but this cake is so rich and moist, it is not necessary.

Sunday, April 26, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: For this prompt, you will need to fill out, in five minutes or less, the following “Almanac Questionnaire.” Then, use your responses as to basis for a poem.

The Wendigo

Snowing. No, a blizzard 
Five days of blizzard. 
Earl has been gone for three. 
Went off through the evergreens 
Leaving me in this reeking cabin 
With a barrel of pinto beans, 
A hind quarter of frozen moose, 
A bag of dog food, 
And two sled dogs. 

My dreams of 
Being eaten alive by wolves 
Have returned. 
Seeing those huge tracks 
By the junk cars in town 
Didn’t help. 
I’m supposed to be 
Guarding our stash of beaver pelts. 
What a joke. 

The newspaper left by 
Crazy Harlan 
Was full of conspiracies 
About poison snow. 
And an escaped llama 
That shut down the Juneau Airport. 

After he took off for Fairbanks 
I saw he’d written “I wish I was Banksy” 
On our barn wall. 
Maybe he will send me a letter. 
"The weather is fine in Cancun." 
I’ll send him a postcard of a moose. 

So I sit here dressed in layers 
Of wool sweaters and fleece 
Listening to the howling wind 
Or howling wolves 
I can’t tell. 
It’s grim. 

I cheer myself up by remembering 
Playing in the river 
When I was a kid. 
Then I think about 
The Kraken. 
And then The Wendigo, 
The cannibal monster 
That lives in the north woods. 

And what if this whole world 
Is really just a snow globe. 
And the sky is a glass dome 
And someone is getting ready 
To drop and break it?

Saturday, April 25, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Today—off prompt

Perry the Platypus from Phineas and Ferb

Maybe a Flamethrower Would Help

Lying to myself 
Here in my bed, 
Watching the ceiling fan 
Over my head. 
Wonder if there’s monsters? 
Should they be fed? 
What about the ghost 
In the bedspread?
All of the signs— 
Have I misread? 
All of the clever things 
I could have said.

Bogeyman waits—
Is that asinine? 
Should I get up, 
Or should I recline? 
Don’t be a baby. 
Just grow a spine. 
Hit pause. Breathe. 
I just need time. 
I will survive 
Foolish land mines. 
So many scares 
Are cured by sunshine. 

Friday, April 24, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Write about a particular fruit – your choice, but describe this fruit as closely as possible.


Back in Cusco Peru, after two weeks of trains,
Buses and taxis and boats and airplanes.
Now seeking only a meal and a rest.
Nothing outlandish, what would you suggest? 

We went with a friend to a door in a wall
Where pizza aromas sent out a call.
We soon had a dinner too good to behold,
And a pitcher of liquid as yellow as gold.

It was fruity and citric and mellow and sweet.
From the Amazon jungle, a wonderful treat.
It is called Maracuyà, a gold passion fruit.
We all loved the flavor, there was no dispute.

The size of an egg with a pineapple zing,
Black seeds; fleshy fruit to make the tongue sing.
Many things I’ve forgot from the trip, it is true,
But I’ll always recall the gold fruit of Peru.

Thursday, April 23, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Write a poem about a particular letter of the alphabet, or perhaps, the letters that form a short word.

The Twenty-Seventh Letter 

She follows after Z. 
Most agree she is a character,
And a bit eccentric, 
But she knows how to make connections.  
When she’s Roman 
And Italic--she‘s curvaceous.

 Sometimes she’s relaxed,

 Sometimes extra curvy.

Almost always dynamic.

Occasionally traditional,

 Or peculiar.

 Palatino Italic

Or, one of my favorites, 
A true classic.
But don’t call her a dingbat. 
Dingbats are just ornamental.
By herself she is
And per se: the word.

An ampersand is a cursive form of the Latin word "et" which means "and."

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Engage with different languages and cultures through the lens of proverbs and idiomatic phrases. Many different cultures have proverbs or phrases that have largely the same meaning, but are expressed in different ways. Find an idiomatic phrase from a different language or culture, and use it as the jumping-off point for your poem.

Looking for Silver Linings 

The Czech said, “No need to walk around the porridge.” 
“Yes,” said the Frenchman, “The carrots are cooked.” 
“But there’s no need to make a bull out of a fly,” warned the Finn. 
“You’re right,” agreed the man from Japan. “Even monkeys fall from trees.” 
“Still, not all donuts come with a hole,” warned the Italian. 
“Well” Said the Swede, “There’s no cow on the ice.” 
“Yeah, no need to cry over spilt milk,” sighed the Yank. 
“We may be going bananas but there’s gotta be a light at the end of the tunnel.” 
“Yes,” agreed the German, “everything has an end, only the sausage has two.” 
“I’m not so sure,” said the Japanese. 
“If you speak of tomorrow, the rats in the ceiling will laugh.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT:  Find a poem in a language that you don’t know, and perform a “homophonic translation” on it. What does that mean? Well, it means to try to translate the poem simply based on how it sounds.

Here's my phonic translation of Heimliche Stunde by Joachim Ringelnatz--as far as I can tell it has something to do with ghostly dreams.

Choked and Stunned 

I’m inclined to skip church or die from dampness. 
Kind of a war against geezers. 
It’s a zoo for gibbon muttering. 
Come out, dash. Shoot back or get flogged. 
He’s going to bloomin’ blow my face off! 
Meet door songs with a squeak. 
Each labor’s got a mean fruit, 
Mean whining and mean ducks.

Here's the real poem in German

Heimliche Stunde

Ein kleiner Spuk durch due Dampfheizung ging.
Keine Uhr war aufgezogen.
Ein zu fruh geborener Schmetterling
Kam auf das Schachbrett geflogen.
Es ging ein Blumenvasenblau
Mit der Sonne wie eine Schnecke.
Ich liebe Gott und meine Frau,
Meine Wohnung und meine Decke.

Monday, April 20, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Write a poem about a handmade or homemade gift that you have received.


Mom and Dad took a break 
From milking cows twice a day, 
Traveled with a tour group 
To see—what else? More cows. 

They brought back a souvenir. 
A brightly painted whirligig 
Created out of wood. 
A little black and white cow 
And a little farmer. 

They installed it on a fence post. 
When the wind blew 
The attached windmill turned. 
The farmer went into action milking his cow. 

Years later I found it on Dad’s workbench 
The Idaho wind had been unforgiving. 
Dad was gone and now so was Mom. 
The whirligig came home with me. 

We fixed the propeller blade, 
Cleaned it up and applied a new coat of paint. 
The farmer and the cow are retired now. 
They rest by my window 
Where they can catch 
An occasional breeze.

Sunday, April 19, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: write a poem based on a “walking archive.” What’s that? Well, it’s when you go on a walk and gather up interesting thing – a flower, a strange piece of bark, a rock. This then becomes your “walking archive” – the physical instantiation of your walk.

Shooting Birds--19 April 2020 

All winter long 
The usual birds 
Who never make the long trip south. 
When summer ends, when cold winds blow 
When rivers freeze
 And don’t forget the chickadees. 
They endure the months of snow. 

In March 
When winter starts to go 
We hear the doves 
And we know 
It’s spring when
 There are
 Robins overflow. 

Out on the lake
 I saw loons
 The hawks are back.
 Kingfishers too. 

(all my photos--most taken today--19 March 2020)

Saturday, April 18, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Write an ode to life’s small pleasures. Perhaps it’s finding some money in the pocket of an old jacket , or just looking up at the sky and watching the clouds go by.

Six Months Later 

Some day last October, the weather getting colder 
There was extreme exposure, my sandal days were over. 
My toes cried, my soul died, the snow flyed. 

Six months of boots, fuzzy hats, snow suits, 
Thinking of warm sand, umbrella drinks in the hand, 
Falling in love to the rhythm of a steel drum band. 

Now smiling-- morning sun, worst of winter almost done 
Three little birds by my door say the blizzards ain’t no more. 
Singing melodies, sing of fun, sandal days have begun! 

Don’t worry about a thing. Now’s a day to laugh and sing. 
Toes are out, soft and pink, sandal time don’t you think? 
Sky is blue, lawn is grassy. 
Don’t worry be happy.

Friday, April 17, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Write a poem that features forgotten technology. Maybe it’s a VCR, or a rotary phone. A cassette player or even a radio.


I think Santa brought it. 
It looked like a small suitcase, 
But inside was magic. 
Place a plastic disk 
On the spinning turntable, 
Drop the needle 
And suddenly sounds! 

We bought more records. 
Most were black vinyl 
But some were bright colors 
Some even had 
Colored pictures 
On their grooved surface. 

We had a choice of 78, 45 or 33 rpm. 
Forty-fives had big holes—played one song. 
Thirty-threes had a gentle turn. 
Seventy-eights went fast, 
We’d have to be ready 
To flip or change. 

Dad was known to spin Mom 
Across the living room 
To dance tunes. 
We heard silly melodies, 
Funny stories, 
And adventures 
To open our imaginations. 

We listened until the grooves wore down 
But left grooves in our memory 
Which can still resonate 
When conditions are right.

Thursday, April 16, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: (using a prompt from 2017) Write a poem that recounts a creation myth. It doesn’t have to be an existing creation myth, or even recount how all of creation came to be. It could be, for example, your own take on the creation of ball-point pens, or the discovery of knitting. Your myth can be as big or small as you would like, as serious or silly as you make it.


Many, many years ago
When things were not like they are now 
The hippos lived a lovely life
Eating grapes and pomelos.

They played along the river’s edge
Because they feared the water deep. 
All hippos swam in muddy ponds 
Except the two they called the freaks.

Those two dove and swam so much 

Their nose holes moved up on their heads. 
They lost the legs they had in back 
And grew flappy tails instead.

They swam so far they found the sea. 
They learned to sing a lonely wail.
And over time they grew so big
That both of them became a whale.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Try to recreate the sounds and timing of a pop ballad, a jazz improvisation, or a Bach fugue. That could mean incorporating refrains, neologisms and flights of whimsy, or repeating/inverting lines or ideas – whatever your chosen musical form would seem to require!

And Further More—Get Off My Lawn!

I’ve said this so often that it prolee makes you sick;
Rap is just bad poetry somebody set to myoozick.
All these guys with chains and knives all tryna make a rhyme.
They’ve got no clue ‘bout meter or the rules set down by time.
They wouldn’t know a sonnet if it punched them in the face
Calling rap words lyrics is a horrible disgrace.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT--Write a poem that deals with the poems, poets, and other people who inspired you to write poems.

Two Summer Days 

William Shakespeare and Mary Oliver: 
Both skilled writers, 
Both observers. 
They knew nature’s changing course. 
Each spent time watching 
The grasses in the wind, 
Clouds across the sun. 
Both saw the shifting of seasons, 
The passage of time 
And the fickleness of life and love. 
But doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? 
Still, death can’t brag over Mary and William. 
Their words live on. 

What can I learn 
From two poets 
Born centuries apart 
Whose words live 
Beyond their life? 

If you want love to last
And beauty 
And hope
And joy--

Write it down.
Share it.
Art is long. Life is short.

Monday, April 13, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Write a non-apology for the things you’ve stolen.

Not Sorry 

Remember when you saw her weeks ago? 
How smitten you were with those big brown eyes? 
You said, “I’ll bring her home,” and I said, “No!” 
That she’d be trouble and a pain besides. 

You brought her. Then you left her here with me. 
While you were gone away I saw those eyes. 
She made a mess and thought the food was free 
Then cuddled up and wooed me with her sighs. 

One afternoon we went out for a walk 
She has that smile. How could I tell her no? 
I told myself that all we’d do was talk. 
I didn’t realize how far we’d go. 

Your dog is my dog. You can see it’s true. 
Not sorry that she loves me more than you.

Sunday, April 12, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Write a triolet. These eight-line poems involve repeating lines and a tight rhyme scheme. Note: I didn’t stick strictly to the form but did have fun with the pattern.


The streets are empty, the people inside. 
The world is doing a big lockdown. 
Noise is gone. Quiet’s amplified. 
The germs take over and people hide. 

The empty streets do have an upside. 
Creatures enjoy the kid’s playgrounds. 
The wild which the tourists occupied 
Is now alive with animal sounds.


This poem isn’t by Chekov. 
It isn’t even by his wife. 
It’s not a vision from above. 
I wrote it standing by the stove. 

It’s not inspired by lost love 
But makes a point sharp as a knife. 
While reading it you’ll see that you’ve 
Lost twenty seconds of your life.

Saturday, April 11, 2020


NaPoWriMo PROMPT: Write a poem in which one or more flowers take on specific meanings.

Late Bloomers

I like coneflowers. 
Oh, sure, daffodils and crocus 
Relieve the dreary grays of winter. 
Primrose, lavender, rosemary, myrtle, lily. 
Daisy, violets, pansies 
Inspired Burns, Keats and Shelley. 
Everybody loves a rose. 
Their colors cheer, their perfumes soothe.

But coneflowers wait 
‘Til others fade in summer heat. 
Bringing smiles when they’re needed, 
They stand for strength, endurance, healing. 
Their pink petals catch the sunrise 
And persevere until sundown for days. 
Like pioneers of the prairies 
They survive and persist. 

And there in their center
A little hedgehog
Curls up for a nap.

(illustration is one of my watercolors.  See more here.)