Category Archives: Beauty

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Converge


I love prompts like this that force us to look at our photos in a different way.  I’ve just been waiting to use the first one below, which seems perfect for this challenge.  Thanks, WordPress, for pushing our minds as well as our eyes.


I arrived at a local coffee bar/gallery to find it closed. This didn’t deter two little boys outside or the inside kitten, from communing. Where there is a will, convergence will happen!


The woman, the children and each of the dogs each arrived separately to converge. There were three extra dogs as well, but I liked the composition of this cropping of the photo. The small dog jumping out from behind the umbrella pole is a picture by himself and seems to be gaining the attention of all except the children who are intent in their creative efforts in the sand.


This fish was alive and left upon the sand to die. I couldn’t help but identify with his efforts to draw air. This is the part of fishing that bothers me the most. The children saw little difference between the live fish and the dead one, wanting to touch every surface. When the bigger boy reached to touch the eye, I flinched, but luckily the fish was dead by then. Not my catch. Not my boys. If they were, all would have passed differently.

DSC09386 DSC09667

For more “Converge” photos, go here:

Wooden Heart

Wooden Heart

He handed it to me without ceremony—a small leather bag, awl-punched and stitched together by hand. Its flap was held together by a clasp made from a two fishing line sinkers and a piece of woven wax linen. I unwound the wax linen and found inside a tiny wooden heart with his initials on one side, mine on the other. A small hole in the heart had a braided cord of wax linen strung through that was attached to the bag so that the heart could not be lost. He had woven more waxed linen into a neck cord. I was 39 years old when he gave me that incredible thing I never thought I would receive: his heart—as much of it as he could give. Continue reading


I posted two of these recently in the WordPress Weekly Challenge: Refraction, so I apologize to those of you  who have already seen them.  On the other hand, I’ve looked at the below picture of the jellyfish a hundred times and never get tired of seeing it; and they are so perfect for this challenge that I just have to use them again.

One Word Photo Challenge: Clear

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADSC00439 DSC07957 DSC08566  DSC08595 for more photos, go here:

Mirror Fearer

The Prompt: The Mirror Crack’d—You wake up one morning to a world without mirrors. How does your life — from your everyday routines to your perception of yourself — change?

Mirror Fearer

Every time I walk past it, I look into the glass
and notice how my hair looks and then survey my ass.
I cannot help but look at it, every time I pass—
criticizing how I look, both fuzziness and mass.
And in my deepest feelings, despite my brains and sass,
I can’t avoid this feeling that men must find me crass.
And so I guess I really feel that it would be a gas
if you took away the mirrors from this self-critiquing lass!

D-Picted (X-Rated)

                                                                               D-Picted (X-Rated)

I was taking my daily sunset walk on the beach at La Manzanilla, Mexico when I came upon this idyllic scene. He was sipping a margarita and staring out to sea as the water ebbed and flowed—never reaching higher than his chair bottom. Of course, I had to comment.


“Is the view good enough for you?” I queried, with a noticeable lack of originality.

“Do you want to see for yourself?” he asked. He quickly rose from his chair and motioned for me to take his place, taking my camera from my hand as he handed me his Margarita.


He told me to look his way as he turned the tide by taking a picture of me, and so I didn’t see at first a part of the landscape obvious in this next picture.


But as often happens in an evening tide, that object quickly washed ashore to enter my picture,


and quickly dominate it.


The End

(I promise.  This was not a staged incident.  It happened exactly as I describe it with no prompting by me.  I love getting out in the world.  No imagined story ever duplicates what happens in real life!!)

The Prompt: Edge of the Frame—We often capture strangers in photos we take in public. Open your photo library, and stop at the first picture that features a person you don’t know. Now tell the story of that person.

Special Note to viewers of my blog:  Please also see the next posting “Sur-Prize” to enter a contest celebrating my 10,000th viewing.



JudycurlsJudycurls - Version 2

Unfortunate hairstyles of the past



I don’t remember, as a child, ever really thinking about what it would be like to be an adult in terms of where I would live or what I would choose as a profession. I do remember, however, two things I worried about.

First of all, I worried about what instrument I would play in the school band. I had two sisters, one eleven years older and the other four years older, who both played saxophone. As a matter of fact, there being 7 years difference in their ages, they both played the same saxophone! When I entered the sixth grade and was old enough to play in the starter band, I knew two things. #1: I had to play in the band because both of them had done so. #2: I had to find a way to be unique in doing exactly what they had done, and so I had to find a different instrument. This resolve was strengthened by the fact that my sister Patti was still using the “family saxophone.” As long as I was being different, I decided to stretch my uniqueness as far as it would go. No one in either the starter or the regular band had ever played a flute. It was exotic and not very heavy to carry. I would play a flute!!! Or rather, I would attempt to play a flute.

I faked it for two years, blowing energetically into the little hole as we sat in the band loft at games or marched along behind the regular band, practicing for parades or football games; but I never really developed much of a tone and my memory of which note was which was limited. It was really easy, though, to carry that little case about as large as a large pencil case the two blocks to the auditorium where our band practice occurred. My band instructor could not afford to be picky as there were only 200 students in the entire school system—grade school and high school combined—so every warm body available was required to flesh out the physical body of the band. If a few were miming, so be it. As long as they could stay in step for the marching band and didn’t play any really loud false notes, who would ever know?

When my sister left for college, she left the sax behind; and when I headed out for my first band practice as a high school freshman, I left that dread flute behind as I took sax in hand to continue the family tradition. I was not a whole lot better at it, but found something held between the lips and teeth was a lot easier than something held sideways and blown across and although the sax was heavier, it was held in a much more sustainable position than the flute, which was an exercise in arm isometrics as I held it aloft!!

The second worry I had about growing up was how I would wear my hair. I would lie awake nights worrying about what hairstyle I would adopt when I could no longer sport the sausage curls my mother formed around her finger each morning. Shirley Temple, who had already grown to adulthood, needed to be replaced! My hair was too long, however, to duplicate Shirley’s bouncy little curls. It hung in fat tubes down beside my cheeks, offsetting my tight little bangs curled up each night in pink rubber curlers. For some reason, both my mom and I thought this made me look real good, and I am not exaggerating when I admit that there were nights when I’d lie in bed, tears streaming down my cheeks, worrying about what I would do when I grew up and could no longer wear curls!!

So now you know why I dropped the saxophone as soon as I graduated high school and why I had to move to Mexico to escape the shame of all those years when I allowed my mother to shape my esthetic sense of hair. I haven’t owned a curler of any type for 20 years. That saxophone was handed on to the next generation of my family and its mouthpiece, at least, met its demise when it snapped in two as my niece tried to grip it with the fourth pair of teeth in three decades. With a new mouthpiece, it survived four more years—hopefully this time with someone with more talent than I. I know not where it ended up. Probably in some second hand store or donated to some child who couldn’t afford an instrument. I hope it wound up with some talented individual who could restore its pride in itself.

Now that I have been an adult for many many years, I have conquered most of its demands. I have found many hairstyles, only a few of them more ridiculous than sausage curls (see my college picture above as an illustration of this fact) and attempted only one additional instrument, the guitar. Having played only solo or in duet with a college friend who tried to mold me into Joan Baez but failed, I did learn about seven chords and learned to adapt a whole succession of seventies songs to fit into those seven chords. I played for sing-alongs with the kids I counseled at summer camp and for groups of little neighbors around the world, who would come to my house on Saturday mornings to sing silly songs. And I have that guitar to this day. But I haven’t played it for years and harbor no illusions about my prowess. It is there for visiting friends who want to play for me and as a big, cumbersome, hard-to-store reminder that I can choose my own failures as surely as my own successes.

I am an adult like other adults—growing more childish year-by-year, but in my regression toward soft food and adult diapers, I will never sink so low as to repeat some mistakes of my youth. Never ever more sausage curls or flutes held aloft like punishment. And never again will I try to be different just to be different. “The Far Side” has shown that this is nothing that really needs to be aimed for. We all grow odd enough just following the path of nature, thereby furnishing the humor for all the generations that follow us.

The Prompt: As a kid, you must have imagined what it was like to be an adult. Now that you’re a grownup (or becoming one), how far off was your idea of adult life?

P.S. Thirty years after high school, when I was doing an art show in Oregon, a man walked by my display and then did an about-face and came back and said, “You’re Judy Dykstra, aren’t you?”  I admitted the fact and asked him how he knew me.  He said he was 5 years behind me in school in the small South Dakota town where I grew up.  He was a country boy and since we’d never been in school together, I didn’t recognize him but did recognize the family name.

“How in the world did you even know what I looked like, let alone recognize me thirty years later?” I asked.

“Well, a bunch of us used to collect in the the school library and look at old annuals,” he said.  “I recognize you from your high school picture.”  Suddenly, it all came clear.

“You used to look at them to laugh at all the funny hairstyles, didn’t you?”   Sheepishly, he laughed and admitted it.  I had hit the nail (or the girl?) right on the head!!!!

No Fear

No Fear

We know within our hearts that personality
often cancels out what we can clearly see.
We all have known the men who, homely to the eye,
still have personalities sweet as cherry pie,
who win the ladies with their charm and humor that is wry,
causing them to line up for chances with this guy.

And the girl who’s plain until she starts to talk—
her face just so enlivened, you have to stand and gawk.
Made lovely by expression, intelligence and wit,
“beautiful” and “lovely” become the words that fit
when trying to describe this attractive little lass
who simply doesn’t bother with a looking glass.

Both have learned to conquer all their crippling fear—
to find the other side of doubt and kick it in the rear.
To face the world on their own terms and face it unafraid.
To take their rightful placement at the front of the parade.
But though we see what they have done, we do not always take
the road that for another seems to be a piece of cake.

You may find this poem to be most adolescent,
yet the feelings of our past most usually are present
throughout our lifetimes, though we seem to hide what we must feel,
leaving it to novelists and poets to reveal
the truths of all our agonies, the facts of all our fears—
all those things we’ve meant to face but yet hold in arrears.

I long ago discovered that writing must be true.
The only worthwhile topics are the things that bother you.
The lacks you find in others and the lacks within yourself
are what divide the poems in hand from poems on the shelf.
And so I must admit that fear’s my greatest hidden vice.
And since we all could do with taking our own sage advice:

I’ll say that with no fear, I would burn candles at both ends—
be as free with lovers as I am with friends.
I would have burned fingers, but an unbound heart.
All those lovely men, disregarded from the start
because I was too zaftig or not smart enough?
I’d face them nose-to-nose, and then I would call their bluff.

Today’s Prompt: Fearless Fantasies—How would your life be different if you were incapable of feeling fear? Would your life be better or worse than it is now?