All posts for the month June, 2016


Published June 28, 2016 by Nan Mykel

I’ve been having insurmountable problems revising “Switch” and then working on it in Word. Maybe when my helper returns from vacation she can help me get the knack but for now I’m just wiping out what I’ve done on  Switch and just writing it on Word.


Published June 27, 2016 by Nan Mykel

Sometimes I file long newsy letters in my journals, so I won’t forget, but it didn’t work this time. While clearing the path for the carpet man,  I just unearthed a “newsy” letter from my notebook from about 1980:

I just returned from a week in Atlanta where I attended a Rorschach workshop by Exner. For most of the week I “house sat” in Patricia’s new solar home. Though the burglar alarm was turned off, it hummed when I passed strategic points in the house, and the first night her son called to say he’d found a stone near the front door and did I want him to come over and stay and/or cut on the burglar alarm. It seems all the neighbors used to park on the vacant lot that is now her property, and they’re mad at her for building there. The last night I stayed there, after Patricia had returned from a trip to the Grand Cayman Islands, there was a little excitement. The neighbor who shares the driveway with her refused to move his cars and Patricia called the police who said they couldn’t interfere with a civil dispute. They did not drive away, however, and were there in the shadows when the man (an explosive personality) pushed Patricia’s car into the street. I woke up to hear a man’s voice in the front of the house (inside) with Patricia and I crept to the door to see if he was holding a gun on her, and if I needed to  burst into the room to save her. It was only the police, who had returned….The Exner workshop was from 8 am til about 5:30 p.m., with about 3 hors homework each night. I fell asleep doing it every night and woke at 5 a.m. to finish it….Phyllis, thanks for trying to take me to the Three Penny Opera the last night; I overheard the invitation on Patricia’s recorder about 11:30 the night of the police visit. I think it was adjacent to a recording of the neighbor threatening to total her car, or something….Mandy and I left Atlanta about  2 p.m. Thursday, arriving in Gallipolis about 1 a.m.  Mandy kept asking why I was sticking my head out the window and slapping my cheeks. That was the condition I arrived home in, to discover my cat sitter had not left the key to the house under the door mat.

I propped a concrete block on end, lifted the storm window carefully, reached in and moved a lamp to the floor and, trying not to knock the television off the marble-topped dresser, I edged in the high window on my belly, as the storm window kept falling down on my ankles, then legs, then thighs–no, the other order–all the while the black cat, happy to see me, was rubbing assertively against my face, as animals do when the rubbing scratches their fleas. What an unbelievable homecoming.  (Is it any wonder I  had forgotten it?) It would probably have been more traumatic if I hadn’t been mostly asleep.

Thanks to the suggestion of some of you I took Mandy and my mother to see Never Cry Wolf today. Perhaps I was still a little contankerous, because my mother wanted an extra cup to put the popcorn kernels she couldn’t chew up in, and they said it would cost as much as a drink. I irritably said she would have to spit the kernels on the floor, then, and I hope she did.

NOTE FOR JOURNALERS:  See how useful journaling daily can be…or not?


Published June 27, 2016 by Nan Mykel

What does it mean that we can fuss

over protons being two places at once

when millions are starving and homeless?

Has our brainpower overshot its mark?


We could speak of kinship preferences

if we were taking care of our own

but I include myself in those who

worry about how trees can hear.


Or spend time wondering if the protons

who don’t do their thing if observed

would behave the same stubborn way

if the observer were a dog or baboon.


Could our brains be too big for our britches?



Test Your Creativity

Published June 27, 2016 by Nan Mykel

When I was in graduate school my professor Morgan Worthy Ph.D. published a book on creativity.  If my memory doesn’t fail me, it was called Aha!  Tonight while readying for the carpet installers, I came across a page from it and thought I’d share:

Flexible thinking aids creativity:

No. 80

___1.Catch at                                        A. Saying grace

___2.Jet set                                           B. Roll call

___3.Seven come eleven                     C. Persian conversing with Siamese

___4.No tab sent                                   D. Quick hatch

___5.Name dropping in Monaco       E. Present


No. 81

___1.Out and out                                   A. Of flight

___2.Monologue                                    B. Bourbon Street

___3.Parallel bars                                  C. Solid state…………I can’t figure this one out

___4.Hashed                                           D. Double play

___5.Lenient sentence                          E. Fun house


No. 82

___1.Snow bank                                      A. Trust company

___2.Rear view                                       B. In an atomic nightmare

___3.For altogether                               C. She has a good voice

___4.Fall outfits                                     D. Book by Dr. Spock

___5. Put out the best silver                E. Get loan without collateral


No. 83

___1.Fighter plane                                A. Whistle

___2.Banker                                           B. Hopefully not horizontal

___3.Refuses                                          C. Fancy Pool shooter

___4.Electrical inspector                     D. Circuit judge

___5.Bullet                                              E. Article in magazine


When you have finished, make up your five:

___1.                                                           A.

___2.                                                          B.

___3.                                                          C.

___4.                                                          D.

___5.                                                          E.


Here’s more:  Aha!: A Puzzle Approach to Creative Thinking available in Hardcover, Paperback at Barnes and Noble



Published June 26, 2016 by Nan Mykel

The following was written by me  62 years ago.  I’ve been going through old stuff prior to having a new carpet installed, and came across this. I  had sent it to the editor of a children’s magazine and it was rejected with a concern for children’s castration fears!

One time there was a little lad

who cried because he was so sad.

Don’t you dare call him a sissy,

My little Mister and Missy!


Because you would cry, too, I’ll bet

If, looking very close, you met

Yourself waving, in the mirror,

A doggie’s tail, covered with fur!


That’s just why this dear little boy,

Looking at it, lost all his joy.

He knew people would laugh and shout

When his doggie tail waved about.


He cried, “Oh, Mommy! Cut it off!

I’ll have no doggie tail, by troth!”

His mother opened her eyes wide

And smiled when she his tail espied.


“Why, cut off your lovely dog tail?

Indeed, you make my old heart fail!

No other boy can e’re maintain

Such a nice royal, shaggy train!”


The boy stood straight and laughed aloud;

He stroked the tail and looked real proud.

Said he, “Yes! I can use it for

Climbing up our old Sycamore!”


And whenever someone laughed at him,

He smiled a small pitying grin–

As if to say “You poor, poor boy,

You have no dog tail to bring joy!”


And later on the tail dropped off–

(He sneezed and coughed a too-big cough)

And you know, I really believe

He was sorry the tail did leave!

On the Road – A Poem

Published June 26, 2016 by Nan Mykel

Sounds carry. Tucked asleep into my first berth,

I have no ticket to ride, no known destination.

Black-capped conductors, uniformed and faceless,

pass silently all night down darkened aisles.

The gentle jostling of the carrier and its faraway

howling are fast becoming deja vus.

Baby has a mouse in her mouth, but leave it.

She may need the protein.

Sprouting myelin sheaths encoding both

memories of dreams and dreams of memories

pulse in concatenation with the tempo

of the great clickety clacking conveyor.

Faces of inaccessible passengers

flash past on other lines, here and near, then gone.

Zhivago futilely bangs on the window

for Lara’s attention, then terminal separation.



Nan Mykel  9-7-09



The Weed’s Song

Published June 25, 2016 by Nan Mykel


                                                      beard-1161823__180                                   Pixabay

I am a weed

of common breed

(they say).

I pop up in

unsuspecting beds

beside John Quills

and Daffy Dills,

shamelessly uninvited guest

forever taken by the quest

of brand new beds

for my many heads.

In short–or tall,

spring–or fall,

I thrive!

Or, contrary weed

of specious breed,

(I may)

stay forever.

Nan Mykel previously published in Grab-a-Nickel 2004

Loren Eiseley Quote

Published June 25, 2016 by Nan Mykel
imagesCreative Commons

It is not because I am filled with obscure guilt that I step gently over, and not upon, an autumn cricket. It is not because of guilt that I refuse to shoot the last osprey from her nest  in the tide marsh. I posses empathy; I have grown with man in his mind’s growing. I share that sympathy and compassion which extends beyond the barriers of class and race and form until it partakes of the universal whole. I am not ashamed to profess this emotion, nor will I call it a pathology. Only through this experience many times repeated and enhanced does man become truly human. Only then will his gun arm be forever lowered–“The Lost Notebooks.”

Are Plants Intelligent?

Published June 24, 2016 by Nan Mykel

Are plants intelligent? New book says yes | Environment | The Guardian › Environment › Conservation

Aug 4, 2015 – A new book, Brilliant Green: the Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence, was pubished by a plant neurobiologist (yes, plant neurobiologist),  ( …Are plants intelligent? Can they solve problems, communicate, and navigate their surroundings? Or are they passive, incapable of independent action or social behavior?) Philosophers and scientists have pondered these questions since ancient Greece, most often concluding that plants are unthinking and inert: they are too silent, too sedentary — just too different from us. Yet discoveries over the past fifty years have challenged these ideas, shedding new light on the extraordinary capabilities and complex interior lives of plants. (Amazon posting).

Stefano Marcuso, author of Brilliant Green, joined with Elizabeth Van Volkenburgh, an American plant biologist, Rainer Stahlberg, a German plant photobiologist, Eric D. Brenner, an American plant molecular biologist and František Baluška, a Slovak cell biologist to publish an article in 2006, Trends in Plant Science.

The authors contended that ‘the behaviour that plants exhibit is coordinated across the whole organism by some form of integrated signalling, communication and response system … [which] includes long-distance electrical signals, vesicle-mediated transport of auxin in specialised vascular tissues, and the production of chemicals known to be neuronal in animals’.

Michael Pollan, who wrote an article in the New Yorker in  Dec. 23, 2013, says for the longest time, even mentioning the idea that plants could be intelligent was a quick way to being labeled “a whacko.” But no more, which might be comforting to people who have long talked to their plants or played music for them.

The new research, he says, is in a field called plant neurobiology — which is something of a misnomer, because even scientists in the field don’t argue that plants have neurons or brains.

“They have analagous structures,” Pollan explains. “They have ways of taking all the sensory data they gather in their everyday lives … integrate it and then behave in an appropriate way in response. And they do this without brains, which, in a way, is what’s incredible about it, because we automatically assume you need a brain to process information.”

And we assume you need ears to hear. But researchers, says Pollan, have played a recording of a caterpillar munching on a leaf to plants — and the plants react. They begin to secrete defensive chemicals — even though the plant isn’t really threatened, Pollan says. “It is somehow hearing what is, to it, a terrifying sound of a caterpillar munching on its leaves.”

Pollan says plants have all the same senses as humans, and then some. In addition to hearing, taste, for example, they can sense gravity, the presence of water, or even feel that an obstruction is in the way of its roots, before coming into contact with it. Plant roots will shift direction, he says, to avoid obstacles.

So what about pain? Do plants feel? Pollan says they do respond to anesthetics. “You can put a plant out with a human anesthetic. … And not only that, plants produce their own compounds that are anesthetic to us.” But scientists are reluctant to go as far as to say they are responding to pain.

How plants sense and react is still somewhat unknown. They don’t have nerve cells like humans, but they do have a system for sending electrical signals and even produce neurotransmitters, like dopamine, serotonin and other chemicals the human brain uses to send signals.

“We don’t know why they have them, whether this was just conserved through evolution or if it performs some sort of information processing function. We don’t know. There’s a lot we don’t know,” Pollan says.

And chalk up another human-like ability — memory….

Pollan describes an experiment done by animal biologist Monica Gagliano. She presented research that suggests the mimosa pudica plant can learn from experience. And, Pollan says, merely suggesting a plant could learn was so controversial that her paper was rejected by 10 scientific journals before it was finally published.

Some of these plant neurobiologists believe that plants are conscious — not self-conscious, but conscious in the sense they know where they are in space … and react appropriately to their position in space.”


Wild Over David

Published June 23, 2016 by Nan Mykel


We always thought her meek and mild

until the day that she went wildDavid

and fell in love with an antique Greek,

or should I say a Greek antique?

She gave a moan and then a shriek

that echoed through the whole boutique

and without a pause

with hands like claws

she clasped him to her ample bust,

moved not by piety I think but lust.

As a matter of fact he was scantily clad

and to tell the truth I think she was  glad.


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