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Updated: Apr 3, 2023


April is National Poetry Month. I offer up some poetic verse, reflecting on a moment of connection with my beloved mother, that recently spanned decades.


Remember this commercial from the 60's?

Me at 9 years old - Des Moines, Iowa


At a leggy nine-years-old, I barely fit on the hard Formica counter,

It’s time to wash my hair, my favorite nightly ritual.

A rolled towel is tucked under my neck as I lean back.

You reach under my head gathering all the fine long strands of my hair,

And let them fall into the sink.


I hear the sound of the ribbed tubing as you pull the small black sprayer from its home,

and test the water on your hand.

“It’s just right,” you think.

The wet warmth slides down my scalp.

Gentle strokes at my hairline make sure all the fine brown hair is wet.

You gently turn my head, pushing in each earlobe to block the water from my ears.

The sprayer slides back into its home.

A bubbly squirt fills your hand and I close my eyes,



This is the moment I wait for.

Feeling the welcome softness of your cotton blouse

leaning over and brushing my right cheek,

and the smell of your Charlie perfume.

Your fingers rhythmically rub on both sides of my head, as fluid become foam;

hands dipping down and gathering the strands into a soapy dance.

I feel safe and loved,

and for a brief few minutes,

I have you all to myself—

No babies to feed, no phones to answer, no meals to make,

just you and I.


I open my eyes to see you smiling down at me.

The world has gone far away.

There is another warm rinse;

your delicate peach painted fingertips helping the bubbles along.

Then it is quiet for a moment.



A small squirt of Tame Cream Rinse slides into a silver measuring cup filled with water.

“There are many heads to wash,” you say, “and it’s a good way to save a few pennies.”

You lift the measuring cup and slide it across my forehead left to right

making sure a little of the milky detangler hits every strand.

The sweet smell and your tenderness flows over me.

I breathe it in deeply.

A few soft conversational words,

and the sprayer is called to duty once more.

I feel the weight of all my small little worries rinse away,

and swirl with the cream rinse down the drain.

Squeezing and twisting my hair to get the last of the water out,

I feel your hand lift me upright,

my leggy nine-year-old legs now hanging on either side of you.

Close as we can be, I can feel your love.


You adorn my head with a terrycloth veil, hands roughing up the strands to dry them a bit;

then quickly wrap it around my shoulders.

I leap down, stepping away,

watching the next sibling jump up for their one-on-one time with you.

I dab my hair with the towel and turn to see another squirt of Tame slide into the cup,

and can’t wait till the next time,

when it’s just you and me again.



Fifty-five years have flown by.

After thirty minutes waiting to make sure the brown dye has sufficiently covered my gray,

the stylist sends me to the shampoo station.

I lay back on the hard chair too short for my long legs,

And feel the young girl reach under my head gathering all the fine long strands of my hair,

And letting them fall.

I listen to her test the water on her hand.

“It’s just right,” I say.

The wet warmth slides down my scalp.

Gentle strokes at my hairline make sure all the strands are wet.

A bubbly squirt fills her hand and I close my eyes,

A small well of tears unexpectedly comes.

I am pulled right back to that leggy nine years old,

where it was just you and me, Mom;

laying on that Formica counter

feeling your cotton blouse drape across my cheek,

and tender hands full of love.

How I wish I could be nine again.


My beautiful mother, Nancy and I


Life came full circle recently, with my granddaughter Miller and I playing hairdresser. I’m so thankful to have passed this memory on. Perhaps it will bring me back to them one day, when I am gone :)

©cathystenquist





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My 2023 #50PreciousWords Entry


Writing long paragraphs of text each day can wear you out. This is one of the reasons why

I have always loved when March rolls around. I get to stretch my brain a bit with something shorter and VERY fun.

Fifty (50) precious words, to be exact.


For several years now, I have entered author, Vivian Kirkfield's #50preciouswords international writing contest. She runs one in March for adults and another in May for children.

If you are a crossword puzzle or Scrabble® lover, we are kindred spirits.

I KNOW you would love this fun writing challenge.


The goal is to write a full story in 50 words or less, with a character, plot, story arc, tension and satisfying resolution. Whew!


That, my friends, is very hard, even when writing a 500-word picture book!


I seldom know what I am going to write about for my entry, but much like when I write poetry, a small phrase or image becomes the catalyst and I am off! It is so much fun and real brain bender for me. I am usually surprised at how much I like them, and afterwords, begin thinking of how to turn the 50 words into a 500-word manuscript for a picture book.



I start by adding a few words here and there. Revise, revise, revise!

In fact, four, out of my previous five entries have gone on to become picture book manuscripts, and some of my best work.

Fun Fact: My entry called "Two+Two"

later became my debut picture book, FOREVER HOME.



Writing My 2023 Entry


I like to anthropomorphize objects and often wonder how inanimate objects might feel. My inspiration today, was a book lonely the library shelf, hoping to be picked. I imagined the spectrum of emotions the book might feel while waiting. Just like a rainbow shows the melting of one hue into another and all shades in between, so does my little Book, who goes through many colors of emotions waiting to be chosen.


Imagine how hard it must be for a book to sit there and wait... wait for you.


I thought of colors like "Blue" for sadness, "Yellow"for happiness or "Green" for jealousy. Researching what different colors might mean was very interesting. After I tipped over that first purple domino, the rest of the colors fell pretty quickly into place.


So, without further ado...

Drum Roll Please!



Now, isn't this what every book dreams of?



Winners will be announced on the first day of Spring, Saturday, March 20.

I hope you enjoyed it. Fingers crossed!

Leave me a comment :)


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This writer needed a creative break yesterday. All creatives do from time to time. The interesting thing for me is to do something entirely different from writing. Diving into cooking, sewing or some other thing I have never tried, seems to kickstart the creative engine.

Here's how a beautiful quilt became my inspiration.



Last year, I told my husband that if he bought me anything at Kamala, I would love it. With my birthday coming around again, I knew some small direction might be helpful and he was grateful. Kamala was always my local, go-to gift shop in our town; that is till recently, when its owner Kate LaMontagne, found an amazing farmhouse in Maine, and decided to move her home and business there... with great encouragement and support from the townspeople, I might add. We were all so happy for her.


(Shop at Kamala's online store )


Through out the years I enjoyed lovely gifts from Kamala, like a black wool shawl with hand crocheted long trim (stunning and toasty!), hand made earrings, funky leggings, my perfume and the occasional cool shirt on clearance.


My beautiful gifts from Kamala.


Each gift boxed lovingly with colored tissue and curls of rainbow ribbons. So when Scott appeared around the corner with that familiar box and cascading curly trim, I knew I was in for something special.



Inside was an amazing quilt, hand made from old sari's from India; shades of olive green on one side and gray blues and plum on the other. Tiny white running stitches racing through the fabric. Occasionally, I saw the evidence of the perfectly imperfect, discovering an adorable patch in the middle of it. Hand stitched, and perhaps just a decoration, I wondered what the patch was hiding.

I used the quilt to cozy up in the family room for many, many nights. But I loved the pattern on its fabric so much, that I began thinking of other ways I could use it. A table cloth? Curtains? or maybe... clothing.


After working on a school visit presentation for 5 hours yesterday, the creative well ran dry. I stood in my studio looking at the many piles of projects waiting for some attention and my beautiful quilt caught my eye. Spotting my sewing machine, I knew what I needed to do.


Deciding on a Pattern


Ever since I bought it, I have been living in a black knit sweater with dolman sleeves that has quickly become my go-to top. . Warm and comfortable with a cowl neck, it is my go to top. Maybe, I could use its form as a template. I decided to take my heavy tracing paper and make my own pattern.



I laid out my pattern adding a little extra, just in case I had mis-measured. Soon the sewing machine was humming. Giggles could be heard at the completion of each successful step.


Soon I had a cozy shirt!

And my french seams made it reversible too!

My creative cup has been delightfully filled up.

I'm eager to make more using the same pattern.

And I may never take it off!

I wonder what other creative mischief I can get into? Hmmmmm.

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A Little Bit of This & That

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