Heart, Soul, and Rough Edges — A Gypsy Journey of Words and Wonder

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And Change is a Given …

So many journeys, milestones,
star-touching times in the past two years.

Lifelines republished
Tap Dancing is a reality
Manifesting a few adult behaviors at age 70
New friendships formed
via serendipitous detours
Platinum hair

Travel to Hungary and further East,
and around the Mediterranean,
subjects of future posts

More experiences planned
more travel, more interactions
with the world at large,
we’re ready to welcome others
whether pop-ups or detours.

Life — ‘s wonderful!


Temporary Glitch in the Universe

A huge influx of POETIC MUSELINGS.NET posts are temporarily visiting this site. Due to old-fashioned human error, my attempt to delete over 3100 spammers from my sister blog resulted in the disappearance of all posts from one of our founding member-poets.

After my meltdown yesterday, and trying to even more carefully follow the breadcrumb trail, I’ve imported all the posts from the POETIC MUSELINGS blog into this site. They seem to be readable, formatted fine, but it looks like all the pictures will have to be reloaded into the other blog.

Right now, I’m trying to see if I can selectively export some of the temporary posts from here, and import them into the other blog without destroying the rest of our poetic universe.

First, I will finish copying and backing up my own posts on the POETIC MUSELINGS site. And, once I know that the fourth active member has finished her backup, I’ll proceed with . . . (think of a word that covers “extreme caution”, and ratchet it up exponentially)

To avoid a twenty-year age spurt in five minutes, please take the time NOW to back up all of your precious data:

1.  Where you can absolutely get your hands on it, like your will, and other critical papers

2. Know HOW to “make it go” — how to open the files, how to import/export

3. Save a copy off site, perhaps on a memory stick, in the cloud, as attachments to yourself in various emails.

I’ve started a SCRIVENER binder / project with copies of all the posts that belong here, plus a number of them that I’ve reverted to draft, which were copied here from a previous (now defunct) web site. I need to learn how to save them as a PDF collection.

I’ll email them to myself using one of my other project addresses. If anything happens to my personal domain, I can still access them via a gmail account.

And, in the spirit of “belts and suspenders”, I will print them out using the draft setting. Now have good reason to rush forward with a project that’s nagged at me for several years — gathering up all my poetry, blog posts, newsletters, marvelous email conversations. Some of the material is for the book that gave rise to this site. Some belongs in other WIPs. I won’t search for the hidden treasures in binders, folders, etc., right now.

Focus on the problem before me — calm, serene, confident. Yeah, right! Wish me luck, and I’d be grateful for any ideas on the process.

(417 frantic words here)


100 WORDS: Finding Bigger Frogs

Eat That Frog!:

21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time

Great anti-procrastination/ time management wisdom is found in EAT THAT FROG! by Brian Tracy. The premise is that if you do the nastiest, most dreaded task first — the equivalent of eating a live frog first thing in the morning — that nothing worse is likely to happen later. More graphic than an ultimatum about Brussel Sprouts before dessert.

It’s one of my go-to tools. Yesterday, I realized that it’s missing something quite important:

I need a Bigger, Nastier, Ickier Frog hanging over my head ({{{shudder}}}) — one that I fear/loathe even more — if I’m to fool myself into eating my “real” frog.

My reasoning? I do a lot to avoid the big stuff. Like writing ten poems so far this month, blog posts, etc. My NaNo (“Real” Frog) novel has not moved. A bigger frog to avoid might be the answer.

The best candidate so far is cleaning the bathrooms. If it’s NaNo time, and I’m not “into it” . . . I MUST  surrender, on hands and knees, rubber gloves, stinky cleansers, and do a full attack on the showers. Both of them. If I’m still not motivated, on to the toilets.

Will NaNo win this month? Today, at least? Given my weekly word count goal, I’ll either reach it by Sunday night, or have very clean showers. And maybe other parts of the “convenience facilities”.

 ~~~~ if you haven’t given in yet, GO NOW AND WATCH THE 2 min. FROG VIDEO ~~~~

(Being so deeply consumed by my brilliant AHA! yesterday, plus doing my rehab exercises, working with my Sewing Guru, and making cookies for hubby, I didn’t get this post done. However, all previous posts were over 100 words, and this one passed 200 before this footnote.)

100 Words 11-5-14 — Inner Editor (IE) On Sabbatical

My poems this month are sharper in subject, words, and unleashed emotions expressed before, but which obviously need more air.

They start as responses to prompts, then become their own creatures. Today’s prompt was “Keep This (Blank)”.

My poem began with expired food in the fridge, and morphed to deep sadness about rotten politics. It veered into nostalgia of times that never are how we remember them. Asked unanswerable questions.

If my IE was on duty, she’d have stopped this before the end, sliced it into at least three partial poems, and tucked them in a drawer.

Thanks for not being here today, IE!

(Wow — 104 words in this post — getting better!)

100 Words: Creative Avoidance

So far, November’s been highly productive for me . . . as a result of not doing my primary task:

~ four new haiku
~ four PAD CHALLENGE poems
~ four 100 Words Posts (including this one)
~ one Poetic Muselings blog post drafted, for publication tomorrow
~ two medical appointments, with game plans for the month (including knee rehab)
~ daily poetry writing goals delineated
. . . and nothing of consequence written on my NaNoWriMo novel yet!

My writing plan for NaNo is every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday long-hauls, with shorter sessions on Fridays and possibly one other day of the week, depending on outside appointments. Last weekend, I worked out the plan, tidied up notes we’d made to start the story.

Today I wrote two poems and the core of this post while waiting at the dentist’s office. On the way home, hubby and I talked about how to tackle the NaNo creature we’re coaxing along.

Brilliant minds worked together to lay out:

~ specific actions (where our MC’s will be going on their year-long adventure)
~ general word counts for each of them
~ how to reorganize my writing schedule on the calendar so
~ I’ll be in the right place (my settings) at the right time
~ with the right characters.

I’m ready to tackle NaNo now. See where the story takes me. Experience the joy of impossible deadlines, and shut down my Inner Editor for the month.


(Perhaps I’ll learn to write 100 Word Posts someday. Including parentheses, I’m at 250 words now!)


Plan B — Stop Bugging Me!

November is underway, two haiku done, three PAD CHALLENGE poems written and shared. Two posts up, and this one in process.

One Big Scary Thing handled. Detailed daily/weekly calendars planned out for poetry projects, days specified for NaNo, with their word counts identified.

Tomorrow, I’ll add healthy stuff, like exercise, to the calendars, after a morning med appointment.

The plates are spinning on their sticks . . . just barely, but under control. Plan B is lurking, chuckling, wondering how long until it’ll be summoned to save the stage.

Keep waiting, Plan B. This year you may remain the understudy. Before bed each night, my 100 Word Posts will join their kin. That’s the key — those 100 Words (or more) shout that I did it today.

(130 words today!)

100 Word Posts: EAR-WORMS

Second new poem of the month for the Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day Challenge.

Subject:   EAR-WORMS.    NaBloPoMo_November

Never heard of ear-worms? I bet you have heard ear-worms many times in your life. Snatches of song lyrics (especially), bits of melody, or conversations playing out over and over and over in your head. They worm their way into your ear and then your brain.

No way to make them disappear. The harder you try, the louder — and more insistent — they get. You cannot win the fight against an ear-worm. You can only distract and/or overcome it by replacing it with something else.

Then, of course, THAT ONE becomes the ear-worm. And so it goes . . .


PAD 2 – 11/2/14 Ear-Worm Imbroglio (a together again poem)


What gibberish pokes
through mind brambles

  • Oh, Sinner Man —
    where you gonna run to?

My personal ear-worms
over and over

  • Snowflakes on roses…
    Whiskers on kittens… 

over and over
over and over

  • I think we’re alone now…
    Beating of our hearts is the only sound…

Until BANG!
Too bad it didn’t work

  • I am the walrus…
    Do do do do, dodo dodo do do do do …

We’re together again
All at once

  • New York hipster,
    Cardiac hero of 2000 years …

Cacophony imbroglio
Madness defined

  • Where were you
    When the world stopped turning…?


Michele M. Graf

(+200 words before signature!)



NaNoWriMo . . . PAD CHALLENGE . . . NaBloPoMo . . . Knee Rehab . . . Rebel

NaBloPoMo_NovemberSo, here it is, another November, filled with hope, wishful and wistful thinking, and far more than I can probably handle for the month. But, this is the ninth year I’ve attempted variations on the theme:

~~ I’ve “won” NaNo four or five times by reaching at least 50,000 words on each novel.  (All are in need of editing, and some have potential for publication.)

~~ I’ve kept this blog available for the new projects, one of which is going back to the “100 WORD POSTS” for the month of November. Each day I plan to note a bit about what I wrote for NaNo, the title of the poem written for the PAD CHALLENGE, or some other accomplishment for the day.

In true REBEL fashion, I will include the word count here as part of my overall word count for the month. Already, with this tiny blurb, I’ve reached one hundred and fifty words!

Tomorrow, info about what a Rebel is, and what kind of rebelling I am.

(total: 165 words before this line.)

Apollo's Lyre is on indefinite hiatus

Dear Poets,

to create is to live
to breathe the essence
of what must be shared
to survive our feelings

For two years, I’ve used these lines to introduce “Poetry’s Heartbeat”, my column at Apollo’s Lyre e-zine. I still believe in these lines, a portion of a poem I first published in the Desert Woman Magazine in 2007.

Now I’m using this venue to get the word out that Apollo’s Lyre is on indefinite publishing hiatus. I know some of our readers are waiting for word about poems they’ve submitted. and others are waiting for overdue publication dates. We’ve been scurrying behind-the-scenes, but have been unsuccessful resolving our problem. Below are details.

I’m emailing folks, but with over 400 on the list, it’ll take some time to reach everyone individually. While this door is closing temporarily — Lea shouted that out today — I want to encourage you to continue writing and submitting your work. Please let us know when and where you get published, so we can raise a glass of bubbly with you.

For those who are eagerly waiting your spot on the Poetic Muselings site, we will begin sharing those poems here in January.

Next month I’ll share more about my new project — TaCaMeFi (Take Care of Me First), which I believe will help unclutter our lives and our minds, so we can move forward to do what is most important to us.

The following is the heart of what I want to say to our poets and readers of “Poetry’s Heartbeat” at Apollo’s Lyre. I set this up as an auto-response to all new incoming messages while I work to contact individuals:

We are sad to announce that Apollo’s Lyre is going to continue its publication hiatus indefinitely. Unresolvable problems with the host, Tripod, have made it impossible to access or post to our site. Our publisher, Lea Schizas, has repeatedly contacted them; no one at Tripod has responded to her pleas to at least open the site so we can let our readers know what’s going on.

Efforts to create a new site and format for Apollo’s Lyre are underway, but we cannot in good conscience ask you to wait indefinitely. If you submitted poems and are awaiting word about them, consider this message as our way to wish you success with placing your work elsewhere. If we accepted your poems, and gave you an intended publication date, please accept our deep apologies that we will not be able to showcase them as intended.

We are releasing back to you all poems that have not been published; we would still appreciate you adding a note if you republish a poem that appeared in Apollo’s Lyre, identifying the issue and year you were part of our family. No new poems will be accepted nor will any already sent to us be held as backlog for the future. We hope they all find good homes in the poetry universe.

I would like to send each of you a personal message, thanking you for your support, respect for our ezine, and sharing your beauty with us. The logistics of contacting well over four hundred creative souls makes this too daunting, and I chose to start this way, with a general note, so you could begin sending out your work immediately to other publications.

It’s been my honor to serve as Poetry Editor for the past two-plus years. I’m awed by your talent, courage, and willingness to open up and say what must be said. I wish you all the best in your writing and other creative endeavors. I’d love to hear from you so I can read your poems as they appear elsewhere online or in print.

Thank you for your patience, too. I know this has been very stressful waiting to hear from us. It’s been quite stressful from this end also, as we’ve tried our best to figure out how to move forward. On behalf of Lea and the rest of the Apollo’s Lyre staff, we wish you a terrific holiday season, and a productive new year, full of health, love, and happiness.


(note: this was edited to remove some strange “links” that worked their way into the post; I have no idea why/how they got here, but hopefully, they are GONE for good now.)

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I’m sharing a poem/holiday gift I came up with for a couple who are very dear to me.

During the past two years, my friends worked hard to dig themselves out of long-standing debt. Diligently, one decision at a time, they paid off credit cards and loans, and now own their cars outright — and paid off their mortgage. I’m incredibly proud of their courage and actions.

One of them is facing layoff after five years of increasingly complex job duties, and several “near-miss” shutdowns. No new angel seems ready to land to postpone closure of the company, and my dear friend is stressed to the max with the situation. Her husband knows they can get through this, and I do, too.

We talked about what they’ve done to fix their finances, and how their lives are now vs. three years ago. Health insurance continuation through COBRA* is possible — and must be done. Unemployment insurance should be a given, under the circumstances, while she’s looking for another position.

“But COBRA will take up almost all my unemployment!”

“Maybe, but you don’t have the outstanding bills to deal with now. You can make choices — good choices — don’t forget that.” I told her.

This got me thinking about our usual gift exchange — we both spend time and money looking for something unusual for the other; in fact, we have more fun with this particular giving than with anyone else.

So I decided I’d give them a POMEGRANATE this year. I explained what it was, and why I was doing it, and asked them to please follow these instructions, as a favor to all of us:


(POM for short: Peace Of Mind.)  




Take the money you were going to spend on your gifts to us, write a check to yourselves (don’t cash it), subtract it from the check register, and put it into a band aid box.

Label the box “COBRA VENOM” , and find some good symbols to put on the box.

Each week, add another check written to yourselves, and feed it to the COBRA box. Consider it as “spent money you no longer have”. Even $25 per week adds up.

If you get a cash-out of comp time or vacation, put at least half of it into the COBRA box, off the top.

Hubby and I will send you a check to feed to the COBRA. You can cash that one and either put the money in directly, or do it via another physical check.

This is the most precious gift you can give yourselves — and one we never had growing up. The stress of being on the edge of financial chaos played a huge part of our lives, and absolutely created the situation that led my father to run away from home and rejoin the Army when I was ten.

Our lives would have been quite different if our parents had a clue and could see the way out of it.  Not complaining about how we ended up, since both of us found the loves of our lives, but it’s still a spectre that haunts.

You’ve made such progress in the past two years. Embrace that and look at this as a time to stand back and creatively appreciate that you can handle this.  You have choices about the food you buy, what else you need now, and what could go on a wish list for next year.

You aren’t obligated to buy anything. You are responsible for taking care of yourselves emotionally, physically, and financially.

I’m very proud of what you’ve done — you are an inspiration to me to clean up parts of my life that drag me down. This includes projects that grab my attention, but not my full passion. Clutter I’m holding on to because I haven’t stepped back quietly enough to hear what’s in my heart.

Engaging in Retail Therapy or Hand-to-Mouth Eating Therapy hasn’t ever solved it for me, though heaven knows I’ve given it every opportunity!

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love / It’s the only thing we have just too little of . . .”

Please give yourselves this gift of love this year, and keep it in mind for future gift-giving.

I wish you peace, health, creativity, and much love.


PS: And to you, dear readers:

We’d be delighted to have you buy our books. However, this may be the time to swim upstream until you are more stable financially. Then go buy one for yourself, and one for a friend. Enjoy it without guilt. Pass the idea along.


The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances. For more info, see, among other sites, this one:

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