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.

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

The Overheard Dialogue Project

Woman: She knows 10 ways to make potatoes.
Man: She is so Indiana!

— Daniel Proudfoot

Readers are invited to submit Overheard Dialogue. There is only one rule: Your submission must be something you overheard someone saying, for real, no fiction. Here are some more:

A young man walking past me on a college campus. This is what I heard as he passed:
. . . She was from, like, the time of Christ . . .

— Mary MacGowan

Two women talking in the women’s locker room at the gym.
One says: Rick and I are going to have bacon on Sunday.

— Mary MacGowan

Two women sitting at sushi bar at King of the Roll in Portland, ME.
Woman1: Was she always a lesbian or is it a back and forth thing?
Woman2: It’s back and forth. Sort of an Anne Heche thing.

— Mary Colangelo

I’m leaving the grocery store at the same moment two men are walking into the store. One is reading aloud from a list, and says:
. . . Diet Coke, condoms . . .

— Mary MacGowan

Okay, two rules.
The 2nd is that it has to be interesting in some way.  
And I am the judge of that.
Submit to this plucky umbrella blog as a comment.
I look forward to hearing from you!

Even Umbrellas Can Get Political

Wake Me When It’s Over – a political poem from the last election

Things bump along fine
without me. Early presidential
candidates mocked, Colbert
shows I can’t watch because
I don’t know truth from comedy
that’s how far from the hula hoop
I’ve wriggled. Volcanoes, draughts,
firestorms, the miseries of war.
A hurricane promoted to excite
the masses, gas prices, negotiations.
Photos of a female candidate
filters through on FB. The
tip of a long corn dog in her mouth.
We can’t be nice to those we love
so don’t bother watching wars.
The world sucks its own dick.

– poem and pastel painting by mary macgowan

Hello Plucky Umbrella

Hello Plucky Umbrella Blog, I’ve missed you.  I’ve been busy doing other things lately.  I’m sorry.  I’ll be back soon.  To amuse you while I’m gone, here is a clown guy my daughter Rachel made in art class many, many years ago.  Clown guy hangs on my living room wall and sees all.

The hole in his head. Well. What can I say except that I love him even more because of it?  Rachel’s art teacher insisted upon the hole. The hole was meant for hanging, and his pants were meant for holding keys. Then I went and framed him.  Ruined the whole concept.  [Couldn’t help myself.  He’s too sweet to hang there all by himself, unprotected.]  [See framed fellow below.]

Bye for now Plucky Umbrella. I won’t be gone much longer.
Love, Mary

Or Willewingulagulin

from Spaceship Under the Apple Tree, by Louis Slobodkin, as remembered by a 10 year old girl

Or Willewingulagulin

Marty arrived, a tiny Martian
senior scientist in tight uniform,
orange willewingulagulin
and a tiny black typewriter.

Eddie befriended Marty
and was allowed to see
Zurianomatichrome (green).
Marty slept hanging upside down,
his shadow right side up.

Skip pages, adventures,
Grandma’s cookies;
proceed to Marty and Eddie
hurrying to the spaceship,
red footprints running behind them.

At the door, Marty confessed,
frowning: I’m only a junior scientist.
I’ve failed my Earth mission.

But Eddie gave Marty
his brown Boy Scout manual.
Marty emanated dashes
indicating pleasure &
success after all.

Next day, gray twigs and leaves
lay randomly scattered
in a circle of watercolor hues
where the spaceship had been
by the old apple tree

and this is my poem to you,
illustration of trees and branches
falling in my yard, a chainsaw
revving and resting, revving
and resting, which is as much
about orange, green or love
as it is about trees or art

or hovering spaceships
or two men who thank me
for writing about them,
boy or martian, which has
as much logic as you or me
or you and me together
which is to say it makes
perfect sense in a
willewingulagulin kind of way.

– poem by mary macgowan

Oh Bailey!

Somehow Bailey does it. She turns ’round and ’round til she can squeeze into this tiny dog bed. Why do I love this so much? Is it because of her optimism? Determination? Her complete lack of embarrassment? The joy it brings her to be curled up so snugly?

And when I asked her to “stay” so that I could take a photo of her standing over this tiny bed – what a good, good dog. She’s such a good dog.  Bailey, good girl.

— Some of my drawings are now available on Etzy:  http://www.etsy.com/shop/MaryMacGowan

One Ring Ring-a-Ling

Instructions for use of telephone:

First you hold the telephone
then you hear the dial tone
Dial the number of your friend
She will answer if she’s in

One ring ring-a-ling
Two rings ring-a-ling-a-ling
Three rings ring-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling
Soon your friend will say hello (hello?)

Say hello and say your name (Hello, This is Andrea)
and your friend will do the same (Hi Andrea, this is Mary)
Ask her if she wants to play (Can you play today?)
Maybe she will say okay (I’d love to!)

One ring….etc
Now it’s time to say goodbye

Tell your friend you’ll see her soon
You can play all afternoon
Say goodbye and she will too
That is all you have to do (doo wah dah)

One ring…etc
This is the end of the telephone song, the telephone song.

The Vacuum Cleaner Song

A one minute song – go ahead and watch!

I know you sing a lot of songs all day long
but you’ve never sung along with the vacuum cleaner song.
Listen to this, this one you shouldn’t miss
It’s our own little vacuum cleaner song song song.

Here’s the good news – it’s easy to use.
Just flip a little switch and it’s vroom vroom vroom!
It picks up dirt and dust and it’s better than a broom
Now you have a clean living room room room.

That was our song, it wasn’t very long
sing along with the vacuum cleaner song song song!

– by Andrea Loftus & Mary MacGowan (Singamajig!)

Start A Huge Foolish Project

These spiritual windowshoppers

These spiritual windowshoppers
who idly ask, “How much is that? Oh, I’m just looking.”
They handle a hundred items and put them down,
shadows with no capital.

What is spent is love and two eyes wet with weeping.

But these walk into a shop,
and their whole lives pass suddenly in that moment,
in that shop.

Where did you go? “Nowhere.”
What did you have to eat? “Nothing.”

Even if you don’t know what you want,
buy something, to be part of the exchanging flow.

Start a huge, foolish project,
like Noah.

It makes absolutely no difference
what people think of you.
– Rumi, These spiritual windowshoppers

Mary’s Rule #2

Rule #2: Whenever possible, take a bath instead of a shower.  

You can gather your clothes and calendar and cell phone while the water is running.   You get to sit down, and how great is that?   You can have fun posing in amusing ways to rinse body parts.  

(Mary’s Rule #1 was already posted: Listen to the end of the song.)

Listen to the End of the Song

Listen To the End of the Song


When you’re driving 

your dusty Jeep 

invite music in 

and in.

Listen and love 

as you go on your way

and when you get there

(to the place where you’re going)

if a song is still playing

put your car in Park.


It’s a love song 

written just for you.

Can you hear it?

Listen and you’ll know.

Follow these instructions

and even your Jeep will be happier,

in need of less repairs.



I always hated King of the Hill –

always felt tense in my gut when King,

sad when not,

and ostracized if I didn’t want to play.

That pattern has followed me through life.

But now, as a tired adult,

when I feel alone and powerless

atop whatever hill I’ve managed to climb,

I secretly long for anyone to join me.

Now, I’m ready to believe there’s more power



– Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening

Please climb on up the hill to join Bailey and me. We can all be Kings and Queens of the Hill together. Okay? Don’t worry. We’ll all fit, we’ll make it work.

Invite A Bird To Sit Upon Your Forehead

A bird

with no name

picks at my face.

No sense wishing it away,

this bird likes


I’ve other friends,

flowers too –

ladies, babies –

and armfuls of sweet color!


My pecker and I

(not the penis pecker)

have agreed

life is

honeysuckled blossoms

no matter what sits on your face

or what face you sit upon.


(Just for now, go

elsewhere, sexy thoughts!)

We are all one countenance

and the sooner we believe

the sooner we love.


(Not that


isn’t important) (it is)

(but just for a moment

invite a bird

to sit upon your forehead)

(first despair)



Collage on Monopoly playing card



Day or night, rain or shine,

it stands

ready to help you –

in the everyday affairs of life

as well as

in emergencies.

This swift,

willing worker

will run your errands,

guard your home,

save countless steps

and valuable time

and keep you in touch

with relatives and friends.

In office

and in home,

these oft-repeated words

reveal its value –

“I don’t


where I’d be


the telephone.”

– (found poem) Nat’l Geographic, 1954

Collage on Monopoly playing cards

Blue Egg Tattoo Dog

Blue-egg tattoo Dog,

Girl and a Red Scarf

ran away from

your house crashing in.

You bite and they

know your Ow.

Beware, Rage Dog:

If you scare us

we’ll sing songs of love

maybe even Kumbayah

and then put you to sleep.

Gas, injection,

bullet to the head.

[Rage is there. Inside all of us. I wanted to put it on paper, look at it, wonder about it.]

current events


Current Events

A man riled up at the gym
about the congresswoman’s
shooting. He says
It’s those hippies
with their goddam body
piercings and long hair
that’s the problem.
Somebody should shoot ’em,
wouldn’t bother me one bit. He
focuses on me
from his sweaty treadmill.
My pony-tailed gray hair.

The dreaded subject
at Charles A. Lindbergh.
My eyes blurred at each
I floated
’til it went away.

Photo is a self portrait taken on a frozen lake during a snow storm. it is not photoshopped or edited in any way.

Dating Strangenesses #1

I got divorced about 10 years ago and have been dating on and off for 9 years.  Over the next few months I’ll occasionally introduce you to some of the doozies.  They are all true stories.

I affectionately call this guy My Vampire Spotter.

Our first (and only) date, flowers, a Porsche. During an expensive dinner out, he nonchalantly tells me that he sees Vampires on every corner – he was very clear that he was speaking literally.  The Vampires had red glowing eyes. I stayed through the meal; I shouldn’t have.  Still, nothing happened.  I got home safe.

I remember the music he played in his car, devoid of feeling, techno. I remember the rip in the leather passenger’s seat in his car. I don’t remember his face.  It was only later that I realized the goofball got it wrong.  Vampires don’t wait on street corners. Those are boogey men, aren’t they? Vampires wait in coffins, don’t they?

Please….help Mildred and Mabel

I thought they were girls but it turns out they are boys! Now they need new names. I will consider all suggestions.  

Their wee personalities: Mabel likes to ring the shiny bell much of the day, and sometimes aggressively grooms Mildred who does not appreciate it. Mildred likes to eat and sit quietly. They each sleep on her(his) own trapeze.

On behalf of my gender-confused parakeets, I thank you.

Oh Plucky Umbrella

Oh plucky umbrella you love your job

you open and close brightly

people lose you daily and forget you nightly,

in foggy weather I can’t use you  rightly.


Well, everybody loves a sunny day

They think it makes their blues go away

Me I like the rain, gray skies are so pretty

with umbrellas walking all over the city.


Oh plucky umbrella, you know puddles splash

and winds blow to get in from below

Every time it rains I have to hold you high

and when I do, you do your best to keep me dry.


Oh you brave wide open thing

you make me want to plucking sing

oh you plucky plucky plucky thing

you make everybody want to sing.


How can I not love you, Plucky Umbrella?

the reason is: you are drunk and this is the edge of the roof

My desire-body, don’t come strolling over this way. Sit where you are, that’s a good place. When you want dessert you choose something rich. In wine you look for what is clear and firm. The rest is self-hatred and mocking other people and bombing.  So just be quiet and sit down. The reason is: you are drunk, and this is the edge of the roof.  – Rumi


I come from a long line of heat panickers. Temperature-takers. Sweater on, no, sweater off, no, sweater back on.

Heat is worse than cold.  Heat creates deep panic.  I love my air conditioner. We are going to get married. My A.C. & I SHALL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

note: photo from National Geographic, late ’60s.

Old Maid (Note peculiar resemblance to Jan.19 self-portrait)

As copied from the cover to a vintage deck: MCM 50′S BUILT-RITE OLD MAID SHAPED CARD GAME

Note the shape of the cards, “to fit small hands.”

When I was young, we actually played Old Maid. The object of the game was to pass the Old Maid card quickly to the next player so as not to get stuck holding her. Whoever had the Old Maid card in her hand at the end of the game WAS the Old Maid – the loser.  Nobody wanted to be an Old Maid.

An Old Maid was also sometimes called a “spinster.”  According to  Florence Falk, “lurking in the spinster’s background was the suggestion of some grand, unconsummated passion — the love which might have been, whose plaintive ‘if only’ helps explain why she became associated with two singular attributes: shame and sacrifice.”

Note: An Old Maid is an unmarried woman of middle age or older.

Note: In the “olden days” I would’ve been called an Old Maid (despite, I assume, two previous marriages)(there might be technicalities here, which might be explored in the future).

To give it a new-age positive spin, I’m an awesomely cool middle-aged single chick.

A Hafiz poem: Cast All Your Votes For Dancing


Cast All Your Votes For Dancing

I know the voice of depression
Still calls to you.

I know those habits that can ruin your life
Still send their invitations.

But you are with the Friend now
And look so much stronger.

You can stay that way
And even bloom!

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions’ beautiful laughter.

Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From the sacred hands and glance of your Beloved
And, my dear,
From the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.

Learn to recognize the counterfeit coins
That may buy you just a moment of pleasure,
But then drag you for days
Like a broken man
Behind a farting camel.

You are with the Friend now.
Learn what actions of yours delight Him,
What actions of yours bring freedom
And Love.

Whenever you say God’s name, dear pilgrim,
My ears wish my head was missing
So they could finally kiss each other
And applaud all your nourishing wisdom!

O keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions’ beautiful laughter

And from the most insignificant movements
Of your own holy body.

Now, sweet one,
Be wise.
Cast all your votes for Dancing!

~ Hafiz ~

My Little Chef Oven

My Little Chef Oven, from the olden days when a little girl could really hurt herself.  With electric burners, no lightbulb heaters.  And butter and bandaids to soothe.  Yes, we were given toys that were dangerous, and we were given a cure that made the burns worse.  But we survived, and the burns did heal, and we eventually outgrew the toys.

Got it, boys?


Men Too Loud; Today’s Silence





Jan.5, 2012 Mary has a 4-hour stress test tomorrow morning. No one to take her or hold her hand.

No one to take her home after the test and make her a cup of hot tea.  She knows she’s being very self-centered and the world is full of people with much worse problems, but right now she wishes she had a man to sleep next to her and help her out tomorrow.  Tonight she votes in favor of Non-Spinsterhood.

I still enjoy being single – until I don’t.

January 2, 2012

Therapy, inner work, self-care, positive change . . . I can’t just heal myself for the rest of my life!  I must do something with my days.  Indoor gardening?  Small works of art?  More songs?

I could maybe meditate for the rest of my life. Meditate, walking meditations, swim, meditate, eat, meditate, sleep, meditate and so on.  Get a meditation bell.  Meditation could be my “hobby.”  I would be a meditator.

“Mary, what do you do?”

“Well, I’m a meditator.  I meditate many times each day.  I meditate so often that I could be my own monastery.”


I could keep looking for a husband.  A guy to live with for the rest of my life.  (either/or both/or neither)

I’m fine being single – until I’m not.

January 1st, 2012

Can I please be happy being single?

I want to be a wise old woman whom people are drawn to for her wisdom and gardens (even though I don’t like to garden).  A wise old woman who putters about, sings a bit, and paints sunsets or weasels or marvelous toys.

How do I stop longing for a significant other?  Is there an immunization for this desire?

How do I pull my alone act together?  I go through a couple of days okay – then –

WHAM   !   sad sad sad        How do I be me – alone?

God/Universe, half the time I don’t know what I’m writing about I am so full of b.s.