a poet who didn’t know it

I used to think I couldn’t write poetry. To me, poetry has always meant rhythm and rhyme (versus free verse), and I didn’t think I had it in me. As I have continued to write more and more, however, I have found that, maybe, I was wrong.

Overall, Shift is not a blog about poetry. It’s a blog about travel and ideas and perspective. I still have much to share, and I am loving the conversations arising out of posts such as “Success, or Something Like It” and “Let There Be Light.” But, as my tagline aptly states, the only thing constant is change, and that’s true for writers, too. We all go through phases, and I hope readers don’t mind that I am now also sharing some of my poetry.

Recently, I created a “Poetry” section for my menu to make locating my poetry a bit easier. In doing so, I remembered one of my favorite quotes from one of my literature classes in college. This led me to looking up more quotes on poetry, and, voilà, this post appeared. Continue reading

the elation of validation

beach girl3I recently sent an email to my local newspaper editor. In it, I apologized for a few small errors that I’d made in some articles I’d written for him. The articles were about local businesses that will be showcased at a local Home and Garden Show this weekend. They went to print this past Monday, and a few of the business owners were not happy with what I had written.

As I mentioned in a previous post, although I knew I’d done a good job (the editor published my articles almost exactly as I had written them), I was devastated by the negative feedback. I knew I needed to develop thicker skin, but my mistakes, especially the preventable ones, really bothered me.

Tonight, the editor wrote back. This is what he said: Continue reading

on and on you go (take two)

Please don’t hate me! I was not content with my first version of this poem. Something about the third stanza (and a few other things) just didn’t fit. So I revised it, and here it is. Most of you know by now: This poem is dedicated to “wind.”

dress3From here to there and everywhere,
on and on you go.
I hear you there, or is it there?
Your face, you’ll never show.

O’er sea and over mountain,
continent and plain,
from Asia to the Balkan:
the world is your domain.

At times I’ve seen you angry,
you howl and wreak havoc.
It’s then I shiver meekly,
and stand in awe, dumbstruck.

But when you’re sweet, you’re lovely;
you caress my soul.
Your whispers soft and balmy,
you can take me whole.

And though I cannot touch you,
on wings you fly me high,
to places where I knew you,
under another sky.

Which version do you prefer?

Image: Pinterest

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school of hard knocks

KBS-school-of-hard-knocks_pasteup-1024x768I cried yesterday. I never cry.

Because of the weird way in which my local paper works (it’s a tiny paper), content I write often appears online before it appears in the printed edition. This can be both good and bad. It is good when I am eager to see what the editor has done with my work—usually he changes very little, of which I am proud. It is bad, however, when I have made a mistake and someone catches it, but, alas, it is too late to make changes before the article goes to print.

That is what happened this weekend. Continue reading

good writing takes time

Old book, quill and bottle of black ink on old wooden chairThis is why I will never participate in NaNoWriMo.


A few months back I got an email from a lady who was in charge of the advertising for a local home and garden show. She’d gotten my name from the editor of my local paper, who I’ve written for before. She needed a writer for some twelve to fifteen articles for a special tab on the show’s vendors that would appear in the paper just prior to the event.

Of course I said yes.

In the following weeks she gave me four names. I began making phone calls, trying to set up interviews and schedule photo shoots. I accomplished these and still hadn’t heard from her about the rest of the vendors. I assumed I would have plenty of time.

I was wrong. Continue reading

little birdie

54_SPARROWS ON WINDOWLittle birdie out my window,
Chirping, calling, “Come and play!”
Can’t you see I want to join you—
Work, I must, this day away!

But when I’m through, I promise you:
Nothing here could make me stay.
I will find you through and through,
We will play the day away!

Image: Pinterest



Forgive me, my friends,
for my absence.
The week charges on,
and I’m worried!
I’ve freelance to do,
and there’s work to be done,
so though my heart’s here
I am hurried!

thank you

beachSomething I didn’t expect when I started this blog was . . . Well, two things actually.

One, that anyone (besides my dad—thanks, Dad!) would ever actually read what I wrote, and . . .

Two, that I would begin to feel a sense of community with the people I never expected would read my blog who actually did.

Creating this blog has allowed me to express my thoughts—thoughts which previously bounced endlessly around in the recesses of my mind—with an unknown world. In return, the unknown world has, for once, been kind: You have made me feel less alone. Continue reading

writer’s block


I’m reaching and falling.
I’m hemming and hawing.
I’m trying and failing.
I’m rowing, now bailing.

Another day.

(Go outside.)
(Never give up.)

My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living. — Anais Nin

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from the ground up

For the past several posts I’ve been talking about “how to not die” in honor of the ten-year anniversary of my rock climbing accident. Part five is almost done. Today, however, I want to take a brief break from my story to share some breaking news:

I just got rejected. Again.

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while know that, back in December, I applied for graduate school at Berkeley. I thought getting my masters in journalism would be a step towards something I desperately want—which is, of course, to write.

I looked at many programs. There were thoughts of MFAs in Creative Nonfiction (an elusive degree that doesn’t exist in many locations), MAs in International Affairs (I do want to go abroad again), and, what seemed most practical, journalism. Continue reading

freelance fun

A few weeks ago, I contacted the editor of my local newspaper and asked about freelance opportunities. Veterans Day was coming up; I pitched him this article.

This was published on the FRONT page of today’s paper.

•          •          •

Herb Norton during our interview

Vet served in both Army and Air Force

There are some aspects of the Korean War that Herbert Norton, 84, a retired Air Force technical sergeant who lives in Placerville, remembers as worse than others.

“In mid-April, 1952, we were shipped to Korea. Twelve days on a ship — now that was miserable,” said Norton. “For the first few days I didn’t care if I lived or died. I was terribly seasick.”

Living quarters on the ship were tight — men slept in cots bunked four high, with only 18 inches between beds — and they weren’t much better when they landed in Korea, either.

“We stayed in tents with dirt floors,” said Norton. “And the food was terrible. All powdered stuff. I don’t think I ever saw a real egg.”

At that time, Norton was part of the 747 amphibious tank and tractor battalion in the Army. His primary job was to haul petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL) from the military supply point to the 8063rd mobile army surgical hospital (MASH), just south of the battle lines.

“It was tough work, but when I went into the service, I told myself I would do whatever was requested to the best of my ability,” said Norton.

Following the Korean War, in Jan. 1953, Norton went on inactive reserve. But his service to his country wasn’t over. In Aug. 1958 he reenlisted in the Air Force and went to Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County, Ill., where he learned about aircraft maintenance and became an assistant crew chief, technical sergeant. Later, he helped train other crew members at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, and then spent six months on a temporary duty assignment (TYD) at Mildenhall air base in the United Kingdom.

“We worked on aircrafts that had four engines or more, including B47s and B52s,” said Norton. “It was a real kick.”

Air Force Days

In 1961, as U.S. involvement in Vietnam was beginning to escalate, Norton was transferred to an aircraft repair and reclamation shop at Zaragoza air base in Zaragoza, Spain. It was here that he met his future wife, Maria, through a friend.
“I spoke very little Spanish, and Maria knew almost no English, but language is no barrier in communicating matters of the heart,” said Norton, with a wink.

When he wasn’t “picking up planes when they crashed and putting them back together” at the shop, Norton spent his time with Maria driving through the Spanish countryside. The couple was married on Dec. 30, 1964 in Seville and will be celebrating their 48th anniversary this year.

After their marriage, Norton and his wife were transferred to Ellsworth Air Force Base in Piedmont, S.D. His daughter Carol was born in 1966, and that same year and in 1968 he took 6-month TYDs at Anderson air base in Gaum. This was more difficult than he had expected.

“The shifts in Guam were 12 on, 12 off, seven days a week, and the separation from family was hard on all of us,” said Norton. “We didn’t have cell phones and Internet or even videos back then. Instead, we sent letters and cassettes.”

After returning from Guam for the second time, Norton was assigned at Mildenhall air base in the U.K. from 1972 to 1975, and in 1976 he retired from the Air Force and settled his family in Rapid City, S.D. He and Maria moved to Placerville to be near their daughter in 2006.

When asked how he feels about Veterans Day, Norton is quick to respond.

“Veterans don’t get near enough recognition these days. Any time the government needs extra money, we’re the ones that get cut,” said Norton. “If we’re going to fight, we should fight to win. But for God’s sake, have the money to fund it.”

He also feels all U.S. citizens have an obligation to be good representatives of their country.

“Everywhere I went I tried to be the best ambassador that I could,” he said. “I treated people in other countries as equals and didn’t look down on them . . . You should always be proud of what you do, and if you see anything that needs to be done, do it, and do it to the best of your ability. Don’t wait to be asked.

To see the article on the newspaper’s Web site, click here.

•          •          •

Thanks for waiting! Next up, lessons from kids, dogs, Asia, and cooking. And anything else I come up with in between. : )


While everyone else in the blogosphere is concerned with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), inexperienced bloggers like me just want write. We nonconformists recognize that, even if we could pump out 50,000 words in 30 days, most of those words would suck. Not to mention we have other lives. I have not yet achieved my dream of being able to sit at my computer all day with nothing else on my plate but to write, write, write.

Maybe someday.

Not that I’m opposed to NaNoWriMo. I think it’s a great idea: Write for a cause. Work cooperatively. World peace. All that.

It’s just . . .

Personally, I’d rather work on attainable goals. Take the GRE, figure out grad school, freelance (I’ve got my first freelance article coming out this week!), exercise, write whatever I want whenever I want. I’ll bet you have responsibilities, too. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure Dickens never wrote for NaNoWriMo? How about Shakespeare? Tolkien? Austen? Homer?

That’s what I thought.