36 years ago I went to China. It wasn’t the place it is now. Today I’ve had the chance to wander down memory lane through my blog posts with a blogging pal who’s in China now with his family. 

It makes me want to invest in a slide scanner so I can see the pictures we (mostly my ex) took while we were there. The things I want to see really are gone — some for real, some just as they were back then, such as junks on the Pearl River, favorite street corners, my apartment, the university where I taught.

Sometimes people ask me if I want to return to China for a visit, but it’s impossible. I wish sometimes there WERE worm-holes in the universe through which we could revisit places AND times. More than once this morning I was moved to tears through the sharing of memories. 

AND the miracle of my blog, his blog. and the Internet. Imagine exchanging knowledge of places in China with a man from India (that one has not met) in real time — seriously. That’s unreal and wonderful. 

This song by Vasco Rossi is right on. 

Ormai è tardi
E quanto nostalgia
Guarda il tempo
Vola via …
Non si torna.
Comunque sia
E la Vita 
Continua a correr vi

Translation (with the repeated bits left out)

Now it’s late (or) It’s already late
And so much nostalgia
Look at the time
Fly away
And we don’t come back
And life
Continues to run on… 

Every Blogger Needs an “About” Page.

I’m not sleeping so I’m reading and exploring blogs on Word Press. I just read one about bears. It was kind of interesting, but there was no information about where the writer lives or who the writer is. There is no “About” page.

I hate that. A completed “about” page enhances a blog (to me, anyway).

Our readers (if we’re lucky) don’t live inside our heads. They live out in the world and presumably know stuff that might be engaging or even helpful to us, but without context? I have lost interest.

We don’t have to give ourselves away or make ourselves vulnerable to attack by writing, “The Northwest Territories of Canada have been my home since I was a cub” or “I live in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.” It’s possible to give context to one’s blog posts without saying a whole lot about one’s self.  One of the great things about doing this is “meeting” people from all over the place.

So I don’t care anymore about the guy and “his” bears or his wife and their dumbass pumpkin bread and coffee. By not having an “about” page that writer — with all of five followers — lost a potential reader. I WAS interested. I wanted to know about their 100-pound dogs (what kind?) I wanted to know where “their” bears are. I would have to read through all the posts to find that out and even then, that might not be anywhere to be found.

Sorry, but it’s just rude not to introduce yourself.

Undetermined Hiatus

In all honesty, I just haven’t been feeling the blog thing for the past few weeks. And, I can’t say why (maybe because I hate summer? maybe my post-surgery self has other priorities? maybe the Schneebelis want this to be over with? No idea…) I’m a little fractious and frustrated. Also, I have to say, the demise of the Daily Prompt was like, “OK, stop doing this now.” I was impressed that people wanted to pick up the baton, but I also thought “Why?” Still, ultimately, I let people down after volunteering to post prompts for Rag Tag Daily Prompt.

It could be that after five years and nine hundred million blog posts, I’m just finished and have nothing more to say. I really don’t know. But I’m not able to maintain my own rules as a writer and a reader at the moment.

Other bloggers have stopped — I know because there are three whose absence I STILL notice even though it’s been a while. Others have shifted to writing when they feel like it. I don’t know what I’m going to do or where this will take me, whether I’m finished or in a transition.

All that being said, I really cherish the friendships I’ve made here over the years and since most of you have other ways of contacting me and being contacted, I hope that just because I won’t be here any more won’t mean we lose contact with each other.


Blog Redux

Yesterday in the chaos of discovering that by shutting down the Daily Prompt, WordPress was making it harder for me to pay them for my websites, I thought of blowing the whole thing up. But, at this point in my life, I’m a reasonable person. I did some research only to learn that most of the free or low-cost webhosting sites send you to — yeah — WordPress.

It’s an empire.

I thought, “Do I want to deal with this?” If I am allotted only 3 score and 10 I have only four left. Clearly a hissy fit over WordPress and starting over from scratch with websites for my books is a poor use of a rapidly depleting resource.

In the process I looked at my blogs on Blogger, thinking, perhaps, of reviving one. I found a poem. I wondered who wrote it, and then I remembered I had written it. Wow. My poor brain… Well, a lot has happened since 2013 — five years and my whole entire life has changed. The poem is on my painting blog, A Lifetime Apprenticeship. 

There was This Day,
There was This Shadow,
There was This Woman,
There was This Blue.
There was No Fame.
There was No Reason.
There was No Winner.
There was No Immortality.


This Shaft of Light
This Sharp Blast,
This Foundering Ship
This Lost Child,
This Man Walking,
This Stream Flowing,
This Arc of Passion,


These Hands
These Eyes
This Ochre Clay
This Gold Foil
This Deadly Yellow, but USE IT ANYWAY
This MAGIC Poison White
This Blue from Gold-Flecked Stone
This Green from a Copper Pot
This Short Life
This Single Vision.

I wrote the poem as an ode to the ordinary painter throughout time. The one whose name we don’t know who might have influenced the famous one. The one who painted as a way to feed his family. The one who loved the colors, the process, the images, the beauty. The one who might have discovered a new color or properties of the magical ground on which he painted.

I love pigment. In writing Martin of Gfenn I had to learn how colors were made in medieval times. It was absolutely fascinating. Ultramarine blue — for example — was originally made of ground up lapis lazuli. Its light-reflecting properties in a fresco are amazing. A couple of months ago, as I moved closer to my surgery date, I found some online and bought it. I also bought a real wooden panel and old fashioned gesso (gesso means gypsym) to size the panel and make it ready to absorb oil paint. It should be wonderful.

I’m living in a place where art is big. There’s not a lot else here other than potatoes, barley, hops, horses, cattle. Taos and Santa Fe are well known art centers in this country, but it’s one kind of art, mainly Southwest Art. I want another thing completely when I paint. I don’t know exactly what I’m painting FOR other than myself. I’ve sold more paintings than I have sold words, but the other artists around me don’t think my work is all that good. That’s fine. I would never paint what they paint, either, though I have the good grace not to think their work is bad. It’s just not mine. Rivalry between artists is nasty but real.

In my case, I don’t want to paint the same thing or the same way twice. I view painting as a journey of discovery. I’m never going to be a master. With each painting I’ve learned something new about painting, about paint, about myself, about the world I’m looking at. The painting above is a narrow trail up a California mountainlet in a wet spring. Dusty and I had a wonderful time that day and I took photos. I like painting from photos and I really like the way paintings come out when I paint from the image on my iPad with the light coming up through it rather than shining on it. It’s different. Like this one. This is Descanso Falls in December. Some of this painting works well for me, some of it doesn’t, but it took months to complete and someone was happy to give me $300 so I didn’t have to store it some place. 🙂


Descanso Falls, unframed FASO size

Descanso Falls


For my blogging cat friends, Tabby, Parker and Lucy… This is Catmandu. Please note her crossed eyes. Once in a while, they caused her to walk into a wall, after which she’d look around to see if anyone had noticed. ❤



I started keeping a blog on WordPress two years ago day before yesterday. WordPress let me know. The first blog — and the reason I started — was followed that same day by

Both of these are blogs to promote my novels, Martin of Gfenn and Savior. On that occasion I saw the Daily Prompt and I thought, “That’s dumb” but I did it anyway and it wasn’t dumb after all. I have written a few good stories based on those prompts and met some great people. It also helped me me grounded and calm during the chaotic days when I first came back to Colorado and didn’t have a house yet! 🙂

But for a while I’ve thought I might be nearing the end of that phase and wondered what would come along. One of my readers gave me the idea to write down the stories of dogs and hiking. That’s been in the back of my mind for a while and I finally decided to start a new blog dedicated to those stories and experiences.

I expect to be writing much more frequently on that blog than this one, at least for a while. I’d be very happy for all the readers who want to migrate with me. The blog is here and the title is My Mt. Everest.


What’s the Point of This, Anyway?

Clean slate? Well, the clean slate I’ve been pondering is ending this WordPress blog. Yes, I’ll admit. I’ve become disenchanted with WordPress’ daily prompts. My audience isn’t very large and on a good day I get eleven or twelve readers. I sincerely believe that doesn’t matter (and it doesn’t) but there’s no denying that if the readership had grown by leaps and bounds, I’d figure I was saying something people needed or wanted to hear. That would be good in itself and a learning experience for me. The best posts I write often go un-noticed. That’s fine and probably true for everyone, but it is also instruction to me that there are other things I might want to do with my time.

And then, I got this message this morning. A German researcher was able to reach me through my painting website ( after she had found what I’d written about my piano teacher, Hans Baer, on WordPress.

A Client Contact From Your Website with

Name: S F
Email: s.f…
Phone: **49-*******
Comments: Dear Martha Kennedy, I’m a musicologist working as researcher at the University of Hamburg, Germany. In my current research project I deal with the exile of Jewish musicians exiled in Shanghai 1938 to 1949. There were more than 400 musicians from Germany, Austria and Poland in Shanghai, and one of them was the pianist, piano teacher and composer Hans Bär or Baer (born 1893 in Berlin, died 1967 in the US), whom you obviously mention as your piano teacher in your blog on the internet ( I wonder if you can tell me a little bit more about Hans Bär? When did he come to the US? Was he in company (wife, children etc.)? Where did he live resp. where did he teach you? Obviously he worked as piano teacher, but did he also give concerts or did he compose? How many students did he have? Did he teach children or rather advanced students? Do you know anybody else who knew him and who might know where his papers are (maybe his children or other relatives)? I am especially interested in the music he wrote in Shanghai – his “Piano Preludes” after oriental themes and the song “Shir” – but also in correspondence, newspaper clippings and other documents. Every little hint would be great for my work! I hope to hear from you soon. Yours sincerely S F… ________________________________________________ Dr. S F… Institut für Historische Musikwissenschaft Universität Hamburg
Captcha: 758211

So, there is a point, after all. It was a wonderful experience this morning responding to this email and I learned more about a man who was a powerful influence for good in my life.

2014 in review

This is interesting, but not really news to me. This morning I’m wondering WHAT happened to the Daily Prompt? Has WP just given up? If so…well, they should say.

A good prompt would be, “If you regularly write the Daily Prompt, tell us what you like about it, what you don’t like about it and what you would like to see more of in 2015. If you feel like it, you might want to include your thoughts about how the Daily Prompt has improved your skills as a writer.”


2014 annual report for “I’m a Writer, Yes I Am.”

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

A Year of Ups and Downs

Happy Anniversary!

Don’t Know…

Daily Prompt Winning Streak What’s the longest stretch you’ve ever pulled off of posting daily to your blog? What did you learn about blogging through that achievement, and what made you break the streak?

I’ve written 525 posts on this blog since I started on December 22, 2013. I also have a blog for both of my novels, Savior and Martin of Gfenn, and a blog for my move to Colorado. I’ve done two Blogging U courses which led to additional posts.

What have I learned about blogging? First, I don’t like the word “blog” as a verb. I know there are a lot of people on this planet who write blogs that are newsworthy and from which they make money — I know people have launched careers through their blog. I wish I’d been one of those people, in a way, but… When someone is described to me as a “blogger” my reaction is “So what?” That hasn’t changed.

Second, I’ve written an online journal (blog) since 2008. I wrote on Blogger and, for the most part, the blogs were private. This is my first “public” blog and it was not meant to matter. The blog on WordPress that was supposed to matter is My reason for getting onto WordPress in the first place was to promote my novel.

Third, my first encounter with WordPress showed me the Daily Prompt which, originally, I thought was meh. I didn’t know I would end up writing four or five really good stories.

Otherwise? I don’t know if I’ll continue the Daily Prompt when I’ve done this for a year (that is coming up!). I love having readers for my daily profundities, but my original goal — to sell novels — is still alive and well. Not only selling, but I have a work in progress that could use the hour/day that my daily post has been getting. I may just write the prompts I like. 🙂

Memoir vs. Daily Prompt

A fellow blogger whom I like VERY much really liked a post I put up a few days ago about my friend, Wes Kennedy. She said I should post such things rather than responding to the often abysmal daily prompt. I’ll admit, I didn’t like that much. There have been — and are — so many people throughout my life telling me their opinion about what I should do that I don’t take it very well, especially regarding a completely elective activity like writing a WordPress blog. I responded — perhaps curtly, can’t say — that the daily prompt had occasionally put me in front of a good story that I did not know to tell until I was “prompted.” Sometimes I dislike the daily prompt, but I figure it’s a completely voluntary activity that I can choose to write or not, as I wish. Most of the time I do write it and sometimes I bitch about it. However, the good stories I wouldn’t have written make it worth my time to persist with it.

Many people write their memoirs. I guess when you get to be a certain age (I’m a certain age) it’s a natural impulse. I don’t want to, actually, and there’s a good reason.

Back in the day I call my writer apprenticeship period (it’s always a writer apprenticeship period) when I was learning to write dialogue (I know that now. I didn’t know that then), I wrote stories from my life. I actually thought they were stories. Once I wrote a story about a few hours I spent with my friend Madhu and his cigarettes. I showed it to him and he said, “This isn’t a story. You’ve just written down our conversation. Don’t you have an imagination?” I was taken back. I’d put effort into that story which was — yes — our conversation, but controlled and structured so it had a plot line. I extrapolated a story from a rather random series of marginally interesting events to create a character — three, actually, now that I think about it.

But it was not imaginative work. After that, I thought a lot about what I as a writer really wanted to do. I didn’t have an answer ready, but I knew that I did have an imagination and that somewhere, somehow, it would be engaged by something. It was engaged in 1997 (finally!) by the little leper church at Gfenn, Switzerland. That kind of writing was what I wanted to do.

Much of my own experience and life will go into anything I write. Sometimes here I write memoir. However, I don’t really want to focus on my own life in in my writing. Moments from my life, perhaps, but as a whole my life is incomprehensible to me in many ways and much of the past is also very painful. For myself, I want there to be a difference between art and therapy. If some of the knowledge and the pain of my family history and my own bad choices go into imaginative work, then great. It should. I would like to be a crucible rather than a confessional.

This is not to say I think memoir is bad or invalid. I think it’s very important. It’s just not where I — right now — want to go.

In case you’re curious, here’s the story my friend Madhu critiqued so mercilessly and helpfully so long ago. It’s part of a memoir/story I ended up writing about the 13 cigarettes I’ve smoked in my life.

Smokes, 1992

Madhu sits on the step outside my office, a lighted cigarette in his right hand, the next one waiting in his left. I laugh, making Madhu look up. “Where the fuck were you? I’ve been waiting almost two minutes!” he shrieks.
He looks like a prince from a Moghul painting, complete with black, wrap-around eyes, a plump physique and small hands.
“You up to two at once?” Hot, cooling streamers curl above his head.
“Let’s get some coffee,” he jams the lit smoke into the side of the concrete step where he sits.
In the outdoor cafe, Madhu continues in this way, puffing a smoke between gulps of hot coffee.  “I called you last night to go to the new Woody Allen movie. I had passes.”
“You didn’t leave a message.”
“Well, if you weren’t home, you couldn’t go. I called at like 5:30.”
“Always leave a message,” I tell him. “If I’m outside, I never hear the phone, but I can hear my voice on the message machine.”
“You were there?”
“Yeah, I was there.”
“How was your weekend?” He takes another long drag on his third cigarette and he’s lighting a new one from the living flames of the old. “Are you going to see that guy again?”
“You’re a masochist.”
“He can’t hurt me.”
“I didn’t know that. I thought he was hurting you. Well, I guess you’re REALLY not interested any more.”
“Well, you might as well have a cigarette. Sooner or later you’re going to smoke one with me. I feel stupid sitting here chain-smoking all by myself.”
He shakes a Benson/Hedges out of a gold pack. I put it between my lips. “I wish I had lipstick. I find it aesthetically pleasing to leave little red-rimmed butts in my coffee dregs.”
“I hate lipstick on women.”
“Only on women?”
“Yes, but I like it on cigarette butts.”
I fumble around in my purse, hoping to find a tube of lipstick.
“I’m having dinner with him on Friday.”
“Why? You tell me he makes you feel like shit. Why do you want to have dinner with someone who makes you feel like shit?”
“I could stand him up.”
“You won’t do that. You’re not just a gargantuan brain, you know. You have that squishy, sentimental side, that slimy spot of feeling. I got a nickname for you,” he says, inhaling.
“Cerberus. You know who that is?”
“Yes. Thanks.”
“It’s the dog who guards the mouth of hell.”
“I know.”
“It means ‘brain’ because that’s all you are.”
“What are you?” I ask him, wondering what orifice of Hades he imagines himself entrusted with.
“A slug. I told you before.”
“No, come on. If I’m Cerberus, you have to be someone.”
“I thought about it. I’m Charon. I bring the dead to you. God you look funny when you smoke.”
“I know. I don’t know what to do. I’m getting ashes all over the place.”
“Wow. Look at HER!” Across the cafeteria is a petite blond wearing a white T-shirt, faded jeans, motorcycle boots, a black leather jacket, carrying a helmet. “Aesthetic appeal!” says Madhu.
Suddenly she’s standing beside our table, looking at Madhu’s cigarettes.
“I’ve been looking all over for a light.” She cocks one hip, and leans back at an interesting angle, one tit higher than the other, challenging and provocative.
“Here. I have a book of matches. You want it?” Madhu digs around in his book bag, all cynicism gone.
“Give it to me, and I’ll be your best friend.” Madhu is flustered. He lifts the book of matches up to her as an offering. She takes it and walks back to her table.
“I always carry matches in case my lighter breaks,” Madhu inhales. “Shit. I shouldn’t have given her those matches! If I hadn’t, she’d come back again for another light. Damn!”
“Smoking IS a habit and habits ARE dependable.” I grin.
“What’s he afraid of?”
Ah. He’s turned the conversation back to me. “Me, I guess. There’s nothing else there.”
“You should be compassionate, Martha. You can’t make butter with a toothpick.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m smoking as fast as I can.” Warm strange squiggles fly around inside my head, a half-nauseous buzz.
“Hold it in, dammit! I don’t want to see you sitting there like a chimney!”
“I am holding it in dammit!”
“Yeah. All you do is this.” He puffs. “It should be hurting you, right here.”
“It isn’t hurting me.”
“I forgot. Considering the men you spend your time with, how would you know it hurts?”
Fwippht. “What men? There are no men.”
“Blow a ring.”
“I can’t blow a ring.”
“Have another one.”
“No. One’s enough.”
“I have to stop. You know when I had bronchitis? The doctor found a spot on my lung.”
“That’s great. And here you want me to have another one? You’re telling me it should hurt?”
“You know you want it, you fucking hypocrite.” He shakes one loose from the pack.
“Hypocrite, OK, but with spotless lungs.”
“But you should worry about your soul, not your body.”
I wave the smokes away. He lights another one with his “real” lighter (Zippo!). He sucks the first “hit” deep inside, then closes his eyes. A motorcycle roars off in the distance.