Please click on “play”

poem by Yeats, of course; music by me

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the mourning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.


Little Me, Big Tree

Little me, big tree

Little me, big tree

Called in a tree expert to save this mighty white pine, looking sick. He says I have to water it. How long does it take from my hose to  the roots? As far down as it grows up? I’m so small, humbled.

The white pine’s so near the lake, but being that close doesn’t mean it isn’t parched.

The Earth is precisely
the right size to cast
a round shadow that fits
exactly on the moon.

I was told this
by a man I once loved
as if it were common knowledge
as if
it were true.

I need, all the time, something
to be true.

A globe
casting its penny
into heaven’s river.

What to do
with such a
silvered ship?

And how to keep
from dying of thirst,
bottle of water in hand?


My watering set up

My watering method



How near is the water!

How near the water!


Emblems of a Sacred Bird

Guillermo  Aldana E. photograph in National Geographic, altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

Guillermo Aldana E. photographer, National Geographic, altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

This is one of my favorite Nat’l Geo paintings so far. Water, Citrsolv, grapeseed oil, Lysol spray, painting, swishing, waiting, reinventing. This end result feels magical to me.

“A painted prayer blooms on the cheeks of a Huichol woman who uses lipstick to form a background for flower petals, symbols of fertility. Emblems of a sacred bird march across her headdress.”

“Jane” waits for the right time & a question about photo enhancements

It’s simple. I’ve decided to post an entire chapter of “Jane” once each month, not in these small installments. First one will be very soon.

Meanwhile . . . questions! Here’s one of my first National Geographic photos I altered and painted. The 1st version is “unenhanced”  by iPhoto, the 2nd version is enhanced.





And here are 2 more examples, the 2st one “unenhanced” and the 2nd one enhanced:

1st version, "unenhanced"

1st version, “unenhanced”


2nd version, enhanced

Mostly I’ve been posting enhanced photos on this blog… But now I would love some feedback. Which do you prefer? And if you prefer the enhanced versions, then how do I package them to exhibit?

How About the Scamp?

HP Slide 01

You can buy USED Scamps, sooooo much cheaper than the Ponderosa Little Joe. So I probably should go with a Scamp, which is cute and just as good.

I’m in a snit about the whole thing, though. Which voice do I believe?
“Do this and you will have a blast!”
“You can only do this is you will create brilliant art and poetry and sketches and songs”

One Trailer, One Woman

Why am I writing a blog post about this little sweetheart of a trailer?

Compact lightweight luxury travel camper trailer for two - more features than the standard Little Joe Model

Pull lightweight Ponderosa Little Joe camper with your small car, jeep or pickup with ease

Ponderosa seating allows room to relax and enjoy the living space

Luxury elevated bed for two - more comfort in a small environmentSmall Toilet gives Ponderosa owners true convenience while traveling

Ponderosa includes an ingenious sink/stove combinationRefrigerator makes Ponderosa just like home - Convenience and Luxury in a small space

Because an American journey might be in my future, January – February – March 2014. Just about the time I start to go slightly batty in all the snow we get here in the northern woods.

It might be the kinda thing you have to just do, without asking one’s self too many questions. Such as, Am I Nuts? Or, What if I hate it?

It might be the coolest thing to do for a woman about to turn 60 in March…?

Introducing the Ponderosa Little Joe. Air conditioning, mini kitchen, mini sleeping, mini toilet, mini shower, mini icebox.

I can picture where my ukulele would go, my National Geo painting supplies, my watercolors.  My two dogs, even.

I find the sense of containment to be very appealing.

To Bring String and Sing

Two Birds, 1960 National Geographic photograph altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

A Warm Nest For Lovers, 1960 National Geographic photograph altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

I’m a sky blue sweater, damp, laid out flat on a wooden table. My arms stretch open to rest on chairs, air-drying, curling up at the wrist. Tomorrow I will wear myself, hands cupped: a warm nest for lovers and sparrows to bring string and sing.

Running the Wing

Woman Running With Plane, National Geographic photo altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

Running the Wing, National Geographic photo altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

“Running the wing,” Marina Beebe steadies the sailplane of her husband Bruce as he is towed aloft. She then chased him with a car and retrieving trailer 400 miles from Reno across the Nevada desert and into Idaho.


What my iPhone heard me say today:

The lilacs are in bloom bloom bloom it seems there’s brushing up here everywhere here in the northern great Hollibush of something. One house has a fencing yeah I hear it takes to lilac trees to grow one can’t make it alone all things are growing because it is springtime creatures moving about turtles fighting turtles showing themselves everything reaching up I believe I shall grow lilacs next year come by the Road, for all to see my neighbors and I sending pleasure to each other through color and perfume.

I had something else in mind, but I kinda like it this way.


☝ play!

Sitting around the kitchen table this morning and couldn’t think of one good reason not to record Skinamarink. Singing and playing by me.

Skinamarinky dinkydink skinamarinky do – I love you

Skinamarinky dinkydink skinamarinky do – I love you

I love ya in the morning and in the afternoon

I love ya in the evening underneath the moon

Skinamarinky dinkydink skinamarinky do – I love you

Skinamarinky dinkydink skinamarinky do – I love you

Skinamarinky dinkydink skinamarinky do – I love you

I love ya on the hillside, I love ya on the level

And when you’re in my arms I love ya like the devil (ooo!)

Skinamarinky dinkydink skinamarinky do – I love you

(sing it again now) I love you

(one more time!) I – love – you – too – boop boop dee doo

To all poets and lovers of poetry


My teacher once told me a story of a great saint,
of a Perfect One, who wanted to travel around
his part of the world before he died and talk about
some spiritual matters to those who would come
to listen.

And when his men and he reached a certain
country he said to some of his companions,

“Sensuality is in fine shape here, maybe even
too fine shape, but my basic concern is that we
fit in well and that we get a few to listen to my
words which will plant seeds here for generations.
So I want you to employ twelve of the most beautiful
erotic dancers who can travel with us for the next
month as we tour this land.”

So the dancers were employed, and from town to
town and city to city the great Master traveled.
The dancers would begin the show as it were, and
once a nice crowd had gathered the saint would
speak for just a few minutes, then let the performers
resume their art.

My own Master then stopped the story, looked at
me in a very sweet and somewhat amused way,
then said,

“Hafiz, don’t forget the dancers in your poems.”
– by Hafiz, translated by Landinsky

You Are Always Awake Even If You Don’t Know It

jessica's son

A brilliant great-nephew’s recent homework: “You are always awake even if you don’t know it. I felt a lot in 60 seconds. I felt tingling like nerves bumping me. I saw stars. Light was still in, which caused shapes. My stomach tightened, because the diaphram moved down. I also felt my blood rushing.”

What I Find in 90% of Men’s Dating Website Profiles

“I like to cuddle.”
“I like snuggling.”
“I like all music except rap.”

Turns out snuggling and cuddling are code words for horny. But they don’t even know they’re telling the truth by using “cuddle” or “snuggle.”

The rap reference I don’t understand, really, it’s just seems plain old stupid. Can’t they find something more interesting to say? And why do so many of them say this? Really, I am clueless on this one.

And then there are the guys who put up photos of themselves holding a dead fish. And they are usually the same guys who put up photos of themselves on their motorcycle.

This might need to become condensed into an illustration.

Just sayin’ … Kinda sick of the whole thing

How To Burn 100 Notebooks


Start with one   Open it    lie it down
on a burning Duraflame log   Blackening
Curling   until it puffs

out into a Martha Stewart decorative crepe paper
ball I’m not kidding      it looks exactly like that
am I right and turns into a pink rose

thin layers of    baklava how can it burn for
so long     Add
more books       100 is a lot  
The heat scares

you     Oh how you once loved 
your story    Some pages
fall away red burn lines creeping soft    Cotton

They’re persistent suckers though       how can it
take this long     Plan
on at least a day     or find a furnace    

incinerator       beach bonfire      
something BIG     if you wanna get outta
there before you change your mind

Rabblerousers and Names


8th grade, 1968, new state, new school, girls were not allowed to wear pants to school. I pleasantly and determinedly created a petition to request that girls be allowed to wear pants to school. I got enough signatures, it worked, we were allowed to wear pants.

Mr. Brenner, my English teacher, said “Mary, you are a rabblerouser!” I had to look up the word in the dictionary. An old fashioned one, with alphabetical listings, remember those? When I found out that the word describes itself, one who rouses the rabble, I blushed with flustered….shame! embarrassment! horror!

What I wondered then, and I still wonder now, this many years later, is why do Rabblerousers have a name if not to imply that there is something wrong – or annoying – or dangerous – about them?

And yes I am still rousing the rabble. Nothing huge, but yeah I still do.

Dizzy Lizzy the Monkey

Dizzy Lizzy (feat. Bill Kelly)
PLAY ☝☝☝☝
Lizzy's smile's a frown DSCF0985

Dizzy Lizzy lost her head
Found it hangin’ by a thread
By a thread her head hung down
makin’ Lizzy’s smile a frown

I got a needle and some thread
Sewed together neck and head
Right side up she found her smile
Grinned a grin Lizzy style

Dizzy Lizzy is she fine?
Don’t ask me she isn’t mine.
All I know is that her head
is fastened on with golden thread.

Go For Random!

“Random” is the instant a horse at full speed has all four hooves off the ground, unbridled love that flies. So, human beings: Gallop! Be glad for every day the word “love” has been spoken in your presence. It ends, you say. Disappointments, you say. So what? Love gets you off the ground. Receive, give, continue thus. Fly your way through your life, I tell you, go for Random! (and Happy New Year!)

Metta in A Minor

Sacred shrine by Leslie
metta in a minor

Click on “metta in a minor”
A lovingkindness meditation in A Minor. Different. Pretty. Soothing.
The usual “script:” May I be safe, May I have happiness, May I have healing, May I have ease and grace.

Humbly yours, Mary

yes, music by me

i took the photo of my beautiful new altar created by:

My Take On Christmas, 2012

As many of you know, I recently became a grandma…

In my 58 years, I’ve been Presbyterian, Unitarian, Methodist, Reconstructionist Judaism, Reform Judaism. And here’s what I’m thinking tonight, Christmas Eve:


This grandma LOVES it that Christmas reminds us to cherish an infant…

Happy sigh…

Lovingkindness Meditation For All Beings Everywhere, Let’s Do It

Greetings from Plucky Umbrella!  You are invited to join me in a daily practice of Metta (Lovingkindness) Meditation.  Starting today, December 18, 2012 to January 1, 2013.  Anyone may participate and whatever day you wish to start is the right day! This simple, straight-forward meditation requires as little as a few minutes each day – or you might find yourself taking much longer. It is up to you. Metta is an altruistic attitude of love and friendliness. The benefits of Lovingkindness Meditation can be enjoyed regardless of your spiritual beliefs or practice.

Here is a “script” for your use.


Find a way to sit comfortably. This is very important!  You are to cultivate compassion and lovingkindness for yourself, so begin by choosing a seat that feels good to you.  No rules here except that you be comfortable! Also, if you begin to feel uncomfortable during your meditation, you may make changes, you may move, you may adjust.  Please do!

The Metta / Loving-Kindness Meditation uses 4 key concepts that will be repeated throughout your meditation:
• Safety
• Happiness
• Physical Healing
• Peace and ease of well-being

Some people have them printed out and hold them in their hand as a kind of “cheat sheet.”  That’s a good way to start!

You begin by repeating these concepts in the form of a wish for yourself…..okay, here we go!

a)  YOU
Start the meditation by taking a moment to cultivate a loving feeling.  Close your eyes, and bring your attention to the center of your chest, your heart.   Sometimes it helps to imagine a small kitten or puppy you could hold in that area, and feel the love and tenderness that arises naturally.

Silently repeat these phrases in your mind:
“May I be safe.”
“May I have happiness.”
“May I have physical healing.”
“May I have peace and ease of well-being.”

At first, it might be easiest to repeat these phrases just once and then move on.  As you meditate more often, you might choose to repeat the phrases twice, or three times.

Sometimes you might find yourself confused and the words might tumble around in your mind. That’s okay. When you remember, gently bring yourself back to the basic 4 phrases.

Choose someone who is easy to love. You might find yourself with some mixed feelings toward this person, but if you feel mostly love toward them, then this person is a good choice.

Silently repeat the Metta phrases in your mind. You might want to include their name with each phrase.
“May you be safe.”
“May you have happiness.”
“May you have physical healing.”
“May you have peace and ease of well-being.”

As for yourself, repeat the phrases as you wish. Once, twice, three times, it is up to you.

Bring to mind a “neutral person”, someone you are aware of that perhaps you do not know very well.  This person does not bring up strong emotions for you. You might find it easiest to choose someone you see everyday, such as a store clerk or someone you see walking their dog.

Silently repeat the Metta phrases in your mind:

“May you be safe.”
“May you have happiness.”
“May you have physical healing.”
“May you have peace and ease of well-being.”

As for yourself, repeat the phrases as you wish. Once, twice, three times, it is up to you.

Bring to mind someone who brings up feelings of negativity in you.  It is most compassionate for yourself to start with someone with whom the difficulty is mild.  Give yourself permission to work at this gently and gradually.

Silently repeat the Metta phrases in your mind:
“May you be safe.”
“May you have happiness.”
“May you have physical healing.”
“May you have peace and ease of well-being.”

As for yourself, repeat the phrases as you wish. Once, twice, three times, it is up to you.

Begin to generate a feeling of loving-kindess towards all beings, all creatures, all individuals, all those in existence. 

Silently repeat the Metta phrases in your mind.
“May all beings everywhere be safe.”
“May all beings everywhere have happiness.”
“May all beings everywhere have physical healing.”
“May all beings everywhere have peace and ease of well-being.”

Continue to radiate these feelings of loving-kindness until you feel complete.

Print out this page if it would help you to remember.  The process seems complicated, but at its essence it is quite basic:  
Four phrases for you,
for someone you love,
for someone neutral,
for a difficult person,
for all beings.

I’ll post a re-cap tomorrow. Bring on the love! (Comments are welcome!)

a letter to her dog, from sherry o

dear calgirl (aka “the zone”),

as i told you earlier, i am sorry. i am still sorry. i didn’t mean to throw your toy tire on the roof. as much as it pains you to sit all day–on guard–two stories beneath the roofed-tire,it pains me even more to shop all over this christmas town only to discover there is not another tire like the one stuck on my roof. i know you won’t accept an imitation, but please (i am begging you) don’t ask me to get out the two-story extension ladder.

still sorry,


photo and story by sherry o’keefe

Lucy Finds Her Thumb and 10,000 Joys

Lucy finds her thumb

Hey, Lucy, what’s that on your toe? — My 3-month-old granddaughter, Lucy, sometimes accidentally pulls out her pacifier and then manages to find her thumb to suck. It goes like this – She starts to fuss, pulls out the pacifier, finds the thumb, loses the thumb, cries, I give her a pacifier, and so on… Sometimes I show her: Here! Here is your thumb! And thus, within the microcosm of one baby, we find the macrocosm of joy united with suffering. Little girl, I give to you: 10,000 joys, 10,000 sorrows.

Illustration by Mary MacGowan, pen and watercolor pencil and a collaged butterfly
10,000 Joys, 10,000 Sorrows is an old Buddhist saying

Random and Romance

“Random” is the instant a horse at full speed has all four hooves off the ground, unbridled galloping love that flies. So, human beings: Gallop! Be glad for every day the word “love” has been spoken in your presence. It ends, you say. Disappointments, you say. So what? Love gets you off the ground. Receive love, give love. Continue thus. Fly your way through your life, I tell you, go for Random!