Northfield Sidewalk Poetry 2014, “Words fly” (poem), Insect and Arachnid Photos by Karla Schultz

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly, Fort Morris, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly, Fort Morris, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

2014 Sidewalk Poetry Poster

Northfield’s fourth annual Sidewalk Poetry competition kicks off on Saturday, February 1 at 10:00 at the Just Food Community Room. If you are in the area, stop by with a poem you’d love to read or recite, or just come to listen, enjoy refreshments, and celebrate poetry. A special bonus is the world premiere screening of filmmaker Paul Krause’s twenty-two minute documentary on the 2013 project. The DVD follows the whole cycle, from the judging of submissions to installation of poems and the capstone event at Bridge Square.

dvd cover photo small

Copies of the DVD will be available at the Kick-off event for $15 and can also be ordered from Paul at Dancing Sun Multimedia for $20 plus postage. For more information on this year’s guidelines (they have changed a bit!) and text of the previous winning poems take a look at the city’s website or the Sidewalk Poetry page on the Friends and Foundation of the Northfield Public Library website.

For a little more discussion of the project, including thoughts by Paul Krause and readings of poems we love by Philip Spensley and me, check out the archived radio broadcast of ArtZany with Paula Granquist for Friday, January 24, 2014 on KYMN-AM (1080).

Grasshopper, Atlanta Botanical Garden  (photo: Karla Schultz)

Grasshopper, Atlanta Botanical Garden (photo: Karla Schultz)

Mosaic by Pat Kaluza from Karla's photograph  (photo: Karla Schultz)

Mosaic by Pat Kaluza from Karla’s photograph (photo: Karla Schultz)

Art, including Sidewalk Poems, is inspired by nature, emotions, ideas, and/or other art. In the pair of photographs above, a photograph that my sister, Karla, took of a grasshopper inspired me to try to render it as a pencil drawing. Then I got a much better idea: for Karla’s 50th birthday, I commissioned artist Pat Kaluza to create a translucent mosaic of stained glass inspired by the photograph. Julia and I accompanied Pat as she selected some key pieces of glass for the piece–a magical experience.

And this photograph by Karla is always displayed in our dining room:

Butterfly, Callaway Gardens, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Butterfly, Callaway Gardens, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

I wonder: did I have it in mind subconsciously when I wrote a poem last year that is now impressed into the sidewalk in downtown Northfield?

Words fly
like insects:
tiny, necessary.
Living jewels,
they shimmer and journey,
incidentally encouraging
fruit from flowers,
the dusk, the stars.

Leslie Schultz

I know that inspiration can come from any direction. It is my job as an artist to stay alert and to make time to allow the inspiration to unfold when it arrives. And I know that at this snowy time of the year, when I am inside more than I prefer to be, I am especially inspired by Karla’s photographs of the natural world. Below are just a few of my favorites.

Robber Fly, Piedmont, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Robber Fly, Piedmont, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Praying Mantis, Clayton, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Praying Mantis, Clayton, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Spider, Clayton, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Spider, Clayton, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Hummingbird moth, North Carolina (photo: Karla Schultz)

Hummingbird moth, North Carolina (photo: Karla Schultz)

Eastern Leaf-footed Bug, North Carolina (photo: Karla Schultz)

Eastern Leaf-footed Bug, North Carolina (photo: Karla Schultz)

Katydid, Clayton, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Katydid, Clayton, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Fishing Spider, Clayton, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Fishing Spider, Clayton, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Yellow and Black Garden Spider, Clayton, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Yellow and Black Garden Spider, Clayton, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Sulphur Butterfly, Clayton, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Sulphur Butterfly, Clayton, Georgia (photo: Karla Schultz)

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, North Carolina (photo: Karla Schultz)

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, North Carolina (photo: Karla Schultz)


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Quartet of Queens: The Month of Great-Grandmothers (January 2014): #4 Marie



My mother’s mother’s mother, Marie Auguste Emilie Antoine Goetsch Weinman, sometimes called Mary, is vague to me.  I have no memories or documents.  These photographs came to me only recently as jpgs.  Indirectly, I am named for her, since my middle name is Marie. Shortly before her daughter, my Grandma Marie, died, she told me that she was the fifth Marie in a row – and now, for three generations in a row, it is the middle name of choice, shared by my aunt, my cousins and myself. My cousin’s daughter and my own carry on the tradition of having “Marie” as a middle name.

What I know, I know from my mother’s stories, and these stories are sparse.  Marie was born on September 13, 1886 in Germany and came to the United States at age two.  After that, she never lived outside of the Detroit area.  Before her marriage to William Henry Weinman, she was a fine professional seamstress.  After her marriage, she continued that work on the side, while raising Eric, Marie, and later, Doris.  (Above, Doris and Eric with William and Marie Weinman.)
Great-grandpa William Henry Weinman

Great-grandpa William Henry Weinman

She was a woman of definite opinions and decided energy – a suffragette.  Her determination helped to found the Detroit area YWCA and the Cadillac Boulevard Presbyterian Church.

In the late 1930s, fearing deportation because she couldn’t prove her birth date, Marie sent to Nazi Germany for a copy of her birth certificate.  Issued by the Third Reich, it arrived emblazoned with the infamous swastika in time to allow her to remain. Marie was known to her grandchildren as “the cookie grandma” because there were always, always freshly baked cookies at her house.

The Cookie Grandma in her front garden

The Cookie Grandma in her front garden

When I started college, I learned that I have a mild congenital heart murmur that matches the one that caused Marie trouble all her life. She died on February 22, 1946, when my mother was not quite ten years old. My mother remembers that Grandma Goetsch’s funeral was the first one she’d ever attended. It was held in Grandma’s living room with the casket wide open.

Because I know so little about her, she almost seems more distant in time than other great-grandparents. Her face is a variant on the very familiar face of my Grandma Marie. Her white shoes in the photograph above are surprisingly gleaming and poised. They remind me of the shoes of Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers immortal and magical heroine. The numinous quality of these shoes is a signal to me that here I am standing on the boundary of fact and imagination, the border of the country of Faery, a good place to conclude this four-part series.


Marie Four Queens

As I think of these four very different but somehow analogous women who are connected to me, I think of them as the Queens in my very own familial deck of cards. Taking the metaphor a step further–as I, a poet, am inclined to do, although I know quite well the limitations as well as the power of metaphors–one might assign each to her own suit.

Mae was the Queen of Clubs, lashing out to gain her ends, believing there was no need for defense if the offense was unrelenting.  Clara was the Queen of Hearts, paving the road for those she loved with sweetness and calm.  Katherine was the Queen of Diamonds, artistic and educated, keeping her integrity even when splattered with the mud of scandal, the scald of neglect.  Marie is, to me, almost unknowable. She remains the Queen of Spades, a mysterious presence from whom I sprang, the link to the old country, the dispossessed child in the arms of wandering parents, seeking a new home in a new world.  The thought of her has on me the effect of the Vietnam Memorial – pulling me down to search the polished black surface, sheer as the cut sod of a grave, only to be confronted by reflections from my own life and memories.  At times, her silence seems to influence me the most powerfully of all.

As I conclude  these four weeks of family stories, I am more convinced that a great share of the power of family derives from the power of story. All the great-grandmothers are removed beyond answering my questions, but they are still with me. Silence doesn’t answer but only gives back the question: “Who am I?”

Grandma Queens



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Quartet of Queens: The Month of the Great-Grandmothers (January 2014): #3 Kate

Kate High School


Katherine Hinman Williamson Schultz, known as “Kate”, my father’s paternal grandmother, was an educated woman.  For the turn of the last century, she might even be called emancipated.  Born on March 20, 1873, she was graduated from high school in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on June 24, 1898.  I know this because her diploma hangs over my desk.  She received a later diploma from the midwestern music conservatory, and made a living teaching piano in Menasha, Wisconsin. I love the drama of the photo above, possibly her high school graduation photo.

Kate was a highly artistic person–the “Daughter of Story”, I like to call her, because her mother’s maiden name was Isabella Storey. Here is a photograph of her (May 31, 1901) at a party, almost a decade before she married. Doesn’t it look as though she is conducting a makeshift “kitchen orchestra”? (She later spent four decades conducting a church choir.)

Kate at a Party May 31 1901

She was 30 years old when she married a professional man, Emil Schultz.   He was a pharmacist, a partner in the Schultz Brothers Drug Store in Menasha, where Katherine waited each week for the streetcar to take her twenty miles south, home to Oshkosh.

Kate and Emil married on March 10, 1910, moving in to a new house on the bank of the Fox River, just a few blocks from the drug store.

Kate Wedding

Kate Emil

(This must have been Emil’s wedding photo, because within a year of the wedding he was quite bald.)

Kate had two boys in quick succession, first Robert, then Charles, my grandfather.

Kate with Robert

A few years later, Isabelle arrived.  For fifteen years, Kate was assisted by Tillie, a maid of all work, who lived in.

Kate Formal Cards

I don’t remember Kate, but in many ways I feel I know her best of all my great-grandparents.  My father – a temperamental hermit – felt close to her.  It was said that in 1938 she received the best birthday present of her life when my father was born on March 20, too.

Kate and Richard

Here is my dad as a teenager with his Grandma when she visited their house in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

I have her cedar chest near my bed.  I wore her elaborate wedding dress of netting and crocheted string when I married my second husband.  (See the posts of last August for that wedding dress’s final adventures!) I’ve seen the many photographs she took – a perk of owning a drugstore was free development for film – and how often she turned photographs into postcards.  I visited the house on East Broad Street many times since grand-aunt Isabel (who changed the spelling of her name as a bit of teenage rebellion) lived there until she died in 1976. I wrote a poem about that house (“The House on East Broad Street”) in terza rima, mentioning pianos, rusty taps, the Fox River, family stories, and the ghost outlines of the old boathouse. I read the poem at my grandparents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary.

Kate Boathouse

Kate Boathouse Demo

I even have a long loop of super 8 film of her with the family, including Emil’s beloved black Labrador retriever, Topsy, and her eleven pups.

Kate with Topsy

And, most tantalizingly of all, I have her diary.

Taped to the inside front cover is a miniscule newspaper clipping, as big as a fortune cookie scroll.  It records, on Saint Valentine’s Day, 1890, the formation of a partnership between her father, John Williamson, and C. R. Meyer to take on the masonry contract for the Athearn Hotel in Oskosh.  Incredibly, the day after my grandfather gave me the diary, I found a chroma-colored  postcard of this hotel at a second-hand book store in Florida.  The Athearn was monumentally ugly, occupying a whole block while it stood.  It  has long-since been torn down.  I imagine Kate was very proud of her father that day.  He was a Civil War veteran and received a life pension in exchange for his wounds, and self-medicated his physical and psychic wounds with alcohol.  He was, I understand, later eased out of the partnership with Mr. Meyer due to “excessive thirst.”

This diary of Kate’s is between black covers with a red spine.  The word “Record” is stamped in gold in both places.  It begins with this notation about the purchase of a new coat:  “Hudson seal coat made by Steude, Oshkosh in 1926.  Cost $425.00.”  Later, she notes that it was repaired seven years later.  It seems that she began keeping the diary in 1941.  The first two pages quickly sum up the years between 1926 and 1941.  Or perhaps she began financial record keeping and abandoned it, only to turn it to a life record later.  I can imagine the combined pleasure of frugality and release in making note of life events.  Yet the second page also records the names and birthdates of her first four grandchildren (1934 to 1938) and the coming of the housemaid Tillie, long after she had gone.

Kate Record Book

Kate First Diary Page 1941

Kate Athearn Hotel Post Card

What strikes me is not so much what is said, as what is not said.  She kept this record for at least twenty years, until the end of her life in 1961.  The entries range from India ink and pencil to blue ball point.  The handwriting in the last years grows increasingly shaky.  The only world events noted are the ending of the war in Europe and in Japan – these two alone, oddly, without dates.  Each year, she reports who came to Christmas and Easter dinners and what they ate and a full page on the annual shopping and pleasure trip she made each summer to Chicago with Isabel.  Sometimes she reports gifts received for her birthday or mother’s day, or that a neighbor stopped over with a pie.  Occasionally, she makes note of home repairs or the illness, accident, or death befalling a friend or family member.  She does go into detail about how, attending my parents’ wedding rehearsal dinner, she took one misstep and broke her hip.

Kate Diary 1959

In her journal, Kate is silent about the worry and shame she must have felt when Emil’s business failed.  He never poisoned anyone, but he turned a lot of folks’ stomachs.  The drug store had a soda fountain, and Emil liked to set the ice cream dishes down for his dogs to lick clean as soon as the customer had finished eating.  He spent as much time as he could outside, first at a little cottage at Winnecone, then in a cottage of his own on Lake Poygan.  His passion was hunting ducks.  Rough-spoken himself, he taught his dogs to have soft mouths, and he would line the garage rafters with duck carcasses until he judged they were gamey enough to eat.  Kate held her head up and stayed lively and fun-loving, playing cards and playing the piano.  I wonder how she felt when Emil became janitor of the First Congregational Church, where she held the position of organist for 41 years.

Kate Program

I learned recently that as far back as the church records go (1919) her position was part of the annual budget. (Perhaps that coat made the first page of the journal because it represented an investment–nearly two years’ salary.)

Kate at her Organ ii

Kate Retirement

She does mention that on May 7, 1952 “Emil was taken with a stroke at the supper table.”  My grandfather told me that he fell into the soup and when she helped him up he swore at her and later at the ambulance attendants all the way to the hospital.  He literally went kicking and screaming.  I remarked that he must have been very frightened, and Grandpa said, “No, he was a stubborn, violent person.”  The next entry, “August 6 – Emil passed away at the hospital,” is followed by notes about removing an old furnace to install a natural gas one in the fall, and taking an unprecedented trip to spend Christmas in Florida.

More than once, I have been told I get my gift of poetry from her.  “She was the artistic one in the family.” She liked to make collages and little verses to use as place cards for family dinners.

Kate Collages

As I read through her diary for the first time, I was shocked and pleased to see my own name on the last page, how my parents brought me through a freak April snow storm all the way from Kalamazoo to visit for Easter.

Kate Diary 1960

Kate was clearly sensitive and private, but I know she suffered.  She tried to bear her suffering with faith.  For the two years after she broke her hip until her death, she was an invalid.

My father was always been both anxious and inclined to depression.  His grandmother was one of the few people he allowed in close.  Later, with advanced Parkinson’s disease, he weathered his black humors helped by the memory of Kate. He’d sigh and repeat her sustaining motto:  “This too shall pass.”

With this great-grandmother, I have primary source material but no memories. Yet I feel close to her. When I walk in our front door, the first thing I see is the needlepoint piano cushion she used and now Julia uses.

Kate-Piano Bench

And in the dining room (our primary school room) we have two diplomas: hers, filled out in 1898 and one inspired by hers, ready to fill out in 2017, when Julia graduates from homeschool.



This great-grandmother is a daily living presence for me, and I think it is, in part, her commitment to combining her art with her life that influences my own life and work.


Thank you for reading this! If you think of someone else who might enjoy it, please forward it to them. And, if you are not already a subscriber, I invite you to subscribe to the Wednesday posts I am sending out each week–it’s easy, it’s free, and I won’t share your address with anyone!