Idealism is an Attractive Flower: Book Review

Idealism is an attractive flower by Oneida Morningstar Cramer

Idealism is an attractive flower by Oneida Morningstar Cramer

Two of my favorite things, photography and poetry combine in this unique and beautiful book of innovative photopoems by a woman with a unique and beautiful name – Oneida Morningstar Cramer. Her first published work, Idealism is an attractive flower, which won Gold in the poetry category of the 2015 Feathered Quill Book Awards and also received the 2015 North Texas Book Festival Silver Book Award, is a pleasurable wander through the author’s perspective and imagination — drawing the reader to be present and rapt in the wonderment of each moment frozen in her photographs. Cramer is simple in her presentation, occasionally philosophical, and often comical or charming in her compositions — speaking through a child-like voice, the voice of the experienced parent, the voice of the scientist, or her personal perspective.

Perhaps the number of poems in this book relate to one of it’s common themes – music —as in one poem for each of the eighty-eight keys on a piano. Coincidentally, or not, it ends in a musical poem that may  wrap up the overall intention of this book. “Bow for the muse… Bow for the music,” is perhaps a summation of the muse each photograph inspires and the music (or art) created by the author as a result. (I was not surprised to read that she had worked for a music conservatory.)

Then, I think of the title photopoem, Idealism is an attractive flower; and I wonder if it is about using imagination to step outside reality, to create the music, to change the reader’s mental state – which may be all the reader truly knows. The theme that stands out most is of a temporal nature — interestingly, so is music (and mental states). She notes the temporary, “ephemeral” nature of life. Another strong theme, not entirely unrelated to time (or music), are her allusions to the stage performance. We are given a space – a stage, a backdrop, maybe some props, and life awaits our actions. She will also show you her ecological passion, kinetic sensibilities, familial love, and musings on modern life and joys of past times.

This beautiful, Smyth sewn book has eighty-eight stunning photographs (including the cover) juxtaposed with words thoughtfully arranged within and sometimes outside the borders of the photograph in various fonts and colors, although Century Gothic seems to be appreciated. (What’s not to love?!) The result is a mixed media art otherwise known as photopoem. Inspired by her work as a journalist/photographer, O.M. Cramer developed this form of art. In the photopoem, the image on the page and the images the author conjures through words are interdependent and transfix the reader simultaneously. One photograph, not accompanied by words, has no need for them.

Her poems are short – frequently consisting of one stanza with about three stressed beats per line, make skilled use of assonance and consonance,  and often illustrate with action and personification. I suspect she is a fan of T.S. Elliot. Rarely does she make use of rhyme — one exception being the wonderfully musical, ECHO CHAMBER.

It was difficult to highlight my favorites without spoiling the book. While sitting in a drugstore… yanked my heartstrings. The simple image of a butterfly resting atop the orange stamens of a Marigold personifies the soda jerk and evokes memories of sipping on a root beer float while sitting on a spinning stool at the long counter in front of the soda fountain. In the artist studio… is a delight for the eyes and mind. In a playful font, she employs action and props to describe different types of artists. Her finale describes the performance of the chef with vividness intensified by the image of hands working over bowls surrounded by the props of the kitchen bathed in warm light. Down my alley… is one of two photos with felines as subject; but the felines’ challenges become very human in her poetry. This high-bred house cat sitting at an open gate longs to be feral– to take her “chance to run in the wind,” or will she “follow the line?”

Aside from the sublime contents – I particularly love the size (6” x 9”), shape, and weight of this book; as it makes it easy to hold in one hand, bring it in close, and absorb every detail of the photography and layout. The glossy photos enhance the experience. Enjoy drinking in the image before reading the text. This durable hardcover book has a matte finish and includes the author’s photo and bio on the back cover. Aside from a short dedication and introduction,  Idealism is an attractive flower consists of page after satisfying page of photopoems that utilize the space provided unfettered by page numbers or ornate borders. If you appreciate sweet simplicity and creative imagination, I recommend this book from Eudora Publishing Company, ISBN-13: 978-0-9905190-0-3, for $24.99, $4.99 (e-book — available as an .epub on iBooks release date, publisher: 12.31.14, Eudora Publishing Company, genre: poetry/photography).

Idealism is an attractive flower  is available at Amazon – URL: and iTunes (e-book) – URL:





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Turmeric Gingersnap Smoothie

Turmeric Gingersnap Smoothie

Enjoy! This is healthy! Turmeric is a very powerful anti-inflammatory. I know this from personal experience, and there’s plenty of data out there to back it up.

Adapted from this awesome recipe from a website called Natural Health in Action.

Mangoes that are ripe are likely to have some yellow, red, and a little green in the skin. Still, color is not a guarantee for ripeness. Press it gently with your fingers. If it gives easily, it is ready. Unripe mangoes usually take a few days to ripen at room temperature. Cut along the widest diameter of the fruit. When you hit the hard seed, angle the knife to just graze over it. Take the seedless half and use a knife to score a checkerboard design into the flesh, but not through the skin. Push it from the skin side with your fingers until it turns inside out. Then, slice the cubes off into a bowl. (This same technique works for avocados.) Then carve around the seed, and carefully pry it out with the knife. Repeat the scoring and slicing off the other side of the fruit. Once ripe, the mango can be stored in the fridge whole, or sliced and covered, for about 5 days. Mango can also be frozen after cutting into cubes.

I used the beverage version of coconut milk, which is really not the healthiest. There is often carrageenan and/or guar gum in it, which is bad news. Ideally, watered down pure coconut milk is best. I used a half a banana instead of a whole one, a tablespoon of chia instead of a teaspoon, dumped in the spices, and added a couple of tablespoons of hemp protein. I also added my usual nutrition boosters, which are optional. The result tasted almost like a gingersnap cookie.

Turmeric Gingersnap Smoothie 2

Here’s my adaptation broke down:

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 c mango (or less)
  • enough coconut milk to reach the minimum mark on the blender (about 4 oz.)
  • 2 T hemp protein powder
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 1 T coconut oil (best quality)
  • turmeric powder (to your liking)
  • ginger powder (to your liking)
  • cinnamon powder (to your liking)
  • couple shakes of sea salt (unless salt is something you need to avoid)*optional
  • couple shakes of kelp powder *optional
  • big pinch of ground eggshell *optional


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Art Appreciation

Here’s my take on both being appreciated for your writing (or any other art form, or any contribution) and appreciating the writing (or any other art form, or any contribution) of others:

First be grateful for what your (writing) gives to you,
but remember that
what you think of your art is none of your business.

Then remember that this world is now highly saturated with information —
more than can be absorbed in it’s entirety.
People have varying levels of saturation as well.
There is nothing wrong with that.
It just is.

Different people are attracted to different things.
For example, I’m rarely attracted to mysteries, horror, or noir;
but I love books on spirituality.

Many friends won’t pay for your work.
That doesn’t mean they don’t value you.
It may mean they have no interest in your genre,
or that they have budgeted for something they value to a greater degree (rent, for instance).
If you touch even one person with your writing
that is success.

When you have the energy, inclination, inspiration, or motivation
to appreciate the work of someone else;
then open yourself up to it.
It doesn’t count if it was done from a place of scarcity, reluctance, or resentment.
You are not a bad person if you did not read or finish the book.
There are gems to be found in just one line of poetry, or one paragraph of prose.

Once in awhile stretch yourself and be open to the work of others.
Support the work of others as much as you can.

It is good for you.
Someone will return the kindness.

All My Guts and Soul

© J. Rae

Posted in Feelings, Write | Tagged , , ,

Chocolate Zucchini Bread Minis

I tried out this recipe from PaleOMG for the chocolate zucchini bread. I’m making desserts for a potluck, so I thought minis would be nice.

Here’s my experience:

2 small zucchini were slightly over 1.5 cups before pressing. I choose to squeeze the zucchini in my hand over a fine strainer. Afterwards I pressed the zucchini into the strainer with my hand. I held the strainer over a bowl to catch the juice, which is full of magnesium and stuff—so DRINK IT. I’m dreaming of a zucchini juice with lemon and ginger, and maybe some avocado. Yum.

Next time I’m trying 3-4 eggs to make up for it’s lack of bread quality and to add some moisture. It was more like a brownie consistency.

I found that 1 3/4 c of sun butter was basically a whole 16 oz. jar, so skip the measuring unless you are making the sun butter homemade or have a bigger jar. I highly recommend making it homemade if you have the right equipment because my sun butter cost 6 bucks and change. This is expensive zucchini bread.

Unless you’re not into sweet at all, use 2/3-1 c of honey because this wasn’t even close to sweet. I know —  it’s bread. I have a sweet tooth.

I’m doubling the cocoa as well next time. It tasted more like sun butter than chocolate.

I was wondering if I should sift the coconut flour first, but I didn’t. My batter was more like play dough and it was not so moist, so I think next time I will sift the coconut flour first.

So I reduced the heat to 325 for the 24- to- a- silicon pan minis and baked them for 20 minutes. They came out a little dry. I also made some larger minis. These were 12- to- a-nonstick pan. I cooked them for 20 minutes as well. I think I will try 10 minutes for the mini-minis and 15 for the larger ones next time, so they will have more moisture.

I want to come up a nice frosting to make up for the lack of sweet and moist. This frosting didn’t cut it. I used palm shortening for the first time, and I’m not sure I like it. I also know I never want to use date sugar in frosting again. It was too chewy.

I like the simplicity of this recipe, and that it is paleo and nut-free. I will try it again and update this post with my findings.

Ok, I just learned something new. My baking powder isn’t fresh enough. My next batch will probably come out much better with some new baking powder.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread Bites

Cute heart shapes!

Juice from squeezing the zucchini pulp

Posted in Recipes, Sweet | Tagged , , , , , , ,


Started poetry

left unfinished.

Sometimes about despair that never ends.

Sometimes about gratitude that never ends.


NeverEnding possibilities

NeverEnding opportunities

Limitless abundance

Limitless Love


There is so much poetry left unfinished.


like existence

has no limits.

All My Guts and Soul

© J. Rae

Posted in Poet | Tagged , , , , ,

Chocolate is Legal

In the spirit of the old Burma-Shave ads. Prompt thanks to NaPoWriMo 2014.


Instead of prison

For a mere joint

Taste a flavor

That won’t disappoint

Chocolate is legal.


All My Guts and Soul



© J. Rae

Posted in Poet | Tagged , ,

Socializing Blues

Leaving a social gathering

is followed by the blues.

I’m heavy and unequal.

A triangular conversation leaves me

feeling ridiculous.

The woody area

where my grounding tree comforts

attracts the snout of a dog

that reminds me of an otter.

The mourning dove

is my bird.

She sings the blues,

and she always finds me.

I saw you walking in a Peruvian hat,

like Lazarus in leather.

Her strawberry hair was lovely.

Was it awkward

when you told her

you couldn’t place me?

Your ghastly memory

trying to forget

the time I told you

to take your shuttlecock and blast it into outer space.

I seek bittersweet love

of the best chocolate

there is to offer

at the bodega—

not the bodega

where the owner

smoking outside

looked at me

like I was a turkey wing.

I went to the other bodega—

careful not to be too friendly.

Sparse interaction

could be confused

with flirting.

The tricolor ice cream winks at me.

The mourning dove sings the blues.

Ever since my gut was incised,

I’ve not been quite right.

The moon looks different now.

I feel conquered.

It angers me.

There’s not enough nutmeg

to change it.

The mourning dove sings the blues behind me.

Cup and saucer waiting for me to warm

while bantering of things half false.

The mourning dove sings one last song before

I drop my earrings in the jewel box,

close the top,

wonder why I don’t have a striped cat,

rub my shoulder blade,

and dream about the Atlantic sea—

where I’m digging for clams in a sunbonnet.

If this seems a bit ridiculous, that’s because I’ve slipped in parts of the names of 18 different kinds of seashells (another prompt from NaPoWriMo 2014). It was fun. Smile

All My Guts and Soul

© J. Rae

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