Life’s Little Beauties

During each of my visits to Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church, I was met with a depth of intelligence, curiosity, humor, and vivaciousness that renewed my own energy and penchant for living fully in the moment. These writers, who come from all walks of life, allowed themselves to be vulnerable, to open up to an unfamiliar experience with admirable aplomb, recounting family histories and unearthing joyful memories of the past—stories that may have otherwise gone untold if not for the safe space created by this writing group. Bonds formed between writers from completely different worlds, whether in the room or on the page. The Westlake writers were able to find comfort and solace in each others’ words, knowing they were all undergoing the same experience. They discovered the power of language to move one to tears or laughter and found that creative writing can actually be fun! The following pieces exemplify the wit, vigor, and positivity I encountered weekly in this talented group of writers, a delight that can be felt again and again whenever I read their words.

Julie Howd
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

I Am…


I am a husband, father, and grandfather.
I like family, friends, laughing, good food,
privacy, my computer, and freedom to think.
I have a wonderful and supporting wife, loving
extended family members, and financial security.
I think—how lucky I am!
I think more of philosophical and theological issues
as I get older and progress with Alzheimer’s.
I feel so very, very fortunate—for my parents,
education, and living in the USA.
I love having the time to work on my photo albums,
being alone, and being with family.
I wonder about the universe and my place in it.

Boyd S.



My sailboat slips through the water like memories,
as the smooth hull slips through water and time.
The lonely sound of the paddle dipping into water
gives way as the sails are raised and the lake air
fills the sails with a snap, and then more silence
as we move through the water and we lose ourselves
in our thoughts and dreams.

Carol Y.

How to Fall in Love with the Night Sky


To begin, first sit in a comfortable lawn chair and wait for a clear, dark night. Add a decent pair of binoculars and just scan the sky for bright stars, planets, and other intriguing objects. Don’t rush. It takes time and patience to really see the beauty and wonders of the dark sky. Mix this with a goodly amount of time getting to know your instrument, be it binoculars or a telescope. For a beginner, it’s best to thoroughly understand the instrument you use, i.e. binoculars are okay to begin, but work toward larger instruments to find the wonder of planets, nebulas, stars, and other objects. Take your time to discover the dimmer objects that pass by others observers who lack the patience. Try it. You may find a wonderful hobby.


Grandmother’s Table


I remember my grandmother’s house in Dallas
And the furniture it contained.
Also the uncles it contained.
I have a table from her house and still get
Memories from it.
Memories still remind me of spending the day with her
And catching the streetcar to the Dallas YMCA
And swimming all day.
Later she moved into a small house my father built.

Jerry H.



Choose the book.
Join a book club.
Read a synopsis or book cover.
Immerse yourself in the story.
Savor the ending.
Recommend to others.

Betty O.

My Red Kayak


I bought my red kayak and was very proud of it.
What fun I had on the red kayak in the water:
the way the glistening kayak lifted high
over the waves of the river. The sound of the waves
was music to my ears and solace to my soul.
There were exciting times as well as relaxing times
in the beautiful and glistening red kayak.
It floated without effort.
My kayak allowed me to be one with the river
and I felt a part of nature. I could be totally relaxed
and continue floating for hours, just enjoying
the intense green plants on the river bank.
There were many water birds—egrets, swans—
gracefully swimming along. The beautifully
puffy white clouds added to the enjoyment.
This is my idea of bliss.

Susan W.

Bird Watching


Always I have been an observer and lover of nature. I collect acorns every fall in our yard. I save special oak leaves and wildflowers in the spring.

My greatest joy is observing birds at our bird feeders. We have two large feeders, which the birds visit every day. My binoculars are “on the ready” to sight more birds. I keep a bird identification book handy.

Birds are awesome—some of God’s most beautiful work. Thank you, God, for sending these beautiful birds to us. Birds add color to our yard and are such a pleasure to observe.

Susan W.

By the Ocean


I loved the ocean and was only ten minutes away from it in Hampton, New Hampshire, where I lived and grew up from age four. Now I’m eighty-three years old. I loved to swim in the ocean, although mainly it was from March through maybe October that I could swim. I loved living with my parents there. Both of my parents were memorialized when they passed away—Dad at age seventy-eight and Mom at age eighty-six—and that is in North Hampton, right on the ocean!


Bama Company

Day 113/365- Late Night Snack

A jar of peanut butter and jelly or jam always reminds me about my father’s business. He started the Bama Company in Alabama and then brought it to Houston, Texas. The Bama Company was bought by Welch’s but still exists in grocery stores under the name Bama, and nowadays sits on the bottom shelf! My dad went on many trips to Mexico and other states to buy the fruit to make his products. My brother got to go on those trips, but not me, since I was very young. I did go to the building where all the jam was made and often would take all of my friends—a fun excursion. Of course, I also took a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to school each day.

Marianne M.

Christmas Morning at the Kilbanes’


The Christmas tree is lit in the living room. The mantles on the fireplaces are twinkling with their lights and stockings filled by Santa. Both fireplaces are lit. The coffee is brewing and the milk warming for hot chocolate. I take the Irish bread out of the oven to cool, then slice. The bacon and sausage crackle and Mike takes the eggs out. He takes the sleigh bells off the hook and shakes them, and the house begins to wake up. The three sleeping children come down to open their gifts in the living room. They are excited to see their gifts and anxious to tear open the boxes they have received. The boys with their trucks, Karen with her dolls, and, as they grew older, their many tapes and CDs, and new clothes that were worn over their PJs.

Patsy K.

Our Home


The home was beautiful, a mix of antique and modern. The dining room table was beautiful, oval in shape with weaving movements around the edge.

In the winter, we had a fireplace. Memories of the fireplace: shadows that leapt and roared, a collection of fireplace tools, and a beautiful glow in the room. This was our home in the cold winter, waiting for warmth in the coming sun. The fireplace was a place where warmth would come, and music in the background that flowed beautifully all around. Chess was the game we played.

I still remember the comfort of the home, the mix of modern and antique. There was a view of the bay, and we could hear the lapping of the waves breaking. Palm trees were in abundance.

Jackson G.



I see: beauty, cooking, happy faces, a beautiful table.
I hear: good, cheerful conversation, the wind, children, kitchen sounds,
laughter and music, a roaring fire, a dinner prayer.
I taste: a well-cooked meal, apple pie and wine, a delicious dessert.
I touch: my wife’s hand, the oven, my shaved beard.
I smell: fireplace scents, roasting a favorite meal, my wife’s perfume, the smell of rain.

Jackson G.

Familial Love


What can I rely upon?
Familial love.
There are reasons to get down,
especially in this day and age.
But when I need to be lifted,
all I need to do is think
of all the blessings that I have
to be thankful for, and
familial love is the most important.
I have the most wonderful family around,
scattered as they are around the country and the world.
By the way, the family even includes an ex-wife,
who remains very much a loving part of the family.
Friends are fine and dandy, but without family
I would be nothing but candy and not as sweet.

Logan M.

Settling In


On a special evening at 18 Chandon Lane, Beverly and I nestle down to enjoy listening to an album. The dim light outside still illuminates the backyard to such an extent that all the gray rocks are wonderfully highlighted against the newly laid sod that sparkles with all the rain that has recently fallen. The weather has cooperated and gotten cooler just when we needed it to. How could this be so perfect? Hot chocolate, flowers, incense.

We have just moved in, gotten organized, and hopefully halfway rested. The house feels perfect, at least for now.

Logan M.

The Game of Chess


I remember an onyx chess set I purchased in Florence, Italy, forty-six years ago. The hand-carved set is not only a game of intellectual skills, but a piece of beautiful art, a treasure that I lugged around Europe, from Italy to Spain to France to Belgium to Holland, ending with a transatlantic flight to the US.

Over the many years, this work of art provided many days of challenging, intellectual brinkmanship between friends. In more recent years, it has provided opportunities to bond more closely with one of my daughters and, within the last month, the opportunity to teach my seven-year-old grandson to learn a life skill and game—a game that I hope will enrich his future and give him a loving memory of his Popi.

Gary C.

How to Make a Beautiful Landscape


Develop a plan with all necessary materials.
Cultivate your soil, enriching it with compost.
Select the best ground cover, including grass and alternatives.
Research flowers to paint a colorful environment.
Study and acquire the right trees, for now and the future.
Plant your trees with adequate drainage and fertilizer.
Place and plant your flowers and shrubs to provide a picture.
Install an efficient automatic sprinkler system.
Have your sod and ground cover delivered.
Lay your ground cover, your sod.
Water your landscape and enjoy a new environment.

Gary C.

Setting a Vision


Have a plan to accomplish a vision or objective. Explain the plan to the audience or employee with the goal set to attain completion of the plan. This requires confidence in the leadership, with the goal to accomplish the objective by communicating the vision. This requires communicating the objective’s intent and following through to explain the objective to those who will need to complete the task to achieve the required result. Inquire of those who will follow through to implement the plan to achieve required results.

Fred D.

The Best Pug


I am the friend of a Punkin. We met a few years ago. He was about the size of a tennis ball hiding behind a hedge. I like the way he showed himself, with innocence and trust as he stole my heart. I picked him up and rubbed his fur against my cheek, thinking about how I was going to keep him.

My neighbor said she couldn’t take him because she had three pugs already. So it was my choice keep him, which I did, and he fit into my family with another pup that taught him all she knew. Through her, he learned how to remove insulation with his teeth and wiring removal on tractors and autos.

Joe P.

The pieces above were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, an evidence-informed program for people experiencing early-stage memory loss. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

Our Place in the World

As their collective poem states, the Memory Connections writers at Bethany Lutheran have a lot of fun with words. There was so much laughter in our shared writing experience—humorous characters included a chicken hunted down by a murderous alligator (inspired by William Carlos Williams’s “A Red Wheelbarrow”). Rich details of family history emerged during a discussion of writers’ names. Images of childhood homes bloomed on the page to the tune of a nocturne. And autumn landscapes came through sharp and clear after a chat about the seasons. These writers inspired me to take myself less seriously, and to weigh the details of home and history ever so carefully. It’s humor and history that inspire great stories, and these writers have both in spades.

Claire Campbell
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Description in Nature


The roadway around the
Closed corner of our house,
Flowers red and yellow, blue,
On green stems coming
Out of the sandy rocks on
The sides of the road. The road
From nowhere to our land,
Which is somewhere.
Nowhere with
The dried and dirt-colored
Plants. Fall until

Jennifer Martinec

The Night


I was afraid of the dark as a child
But I would have loved to be there.
The dark with all these beautiful scenes would be so gorgeous
And I would not want them to go away
What a moment for me to be
Caught up in this.

Sheila McIntire

My Name 


The middle name of Lee was given by my Aunt Lee.
She lived near my family.
She was my mother’s sister.
I would not change her name.
When she died, I was in the hospital.

Preusser was my maiden name on my father’s side—
Richard Frederick Wilhelm Preusser.
Greenwald is my married name.
I would not change these.

I grew up in St. Louis. There is a cemetery
With many well-known people buried there.
I was so surprised when my dad told me
About all of these distant relatives.

Linda Greenwald



Fun with words
Variety, history,
Descriptive experiences.

Enjoying being with nature and people,
Good imagination,
Being empathetic with people and stories.

Our history and ability to reflect on the past.
We come from different places.

The Bethany Lutheran Writers

The pieces above were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, an evidence-informed program for people experiencing early-stage memory loss. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

Health and Well-being

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

Dear Reader,

If you happened into Meeting Room A at the North Austin YMCA, you’d see a friendly group of folks with coffee mugs and bright, warm sunlight illuminating the room. You’d hear the intermittent sounds of weights dropping on the ceiling above. You’d be privy to amazing stories and poems and plenty of laughter. If you’re a single lady in her mid-thirties, like me, you might even receive some encouraging dating advice. Most of all, though, you’d feel this writing group’s infectious positivity and easy generosity. What better place to be reminded of the importance of health and well-being than at the YMCA in a room full of some of the most kind-hearted people you could possibly meet. I’ve found their words to be as revitalizing as a daily dose of vitamin C.

Get ready to feel rejuvenated.

Julie Poole
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Sunny Day

Happy to see the sun shine
This morning the clouds were gray
But the sun was bright and warm
A good morning for
Nice to hear
The sounds of morning
That seem to increase with the sunlight
That I listen to and hear the
Noises the household makes

Bob Russell


Falling Pen

– an erasure of a passage from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

I rose while books
Tempted my pen falling

My life

A gypsy     circle

Bob Russell



There are emotions that at times are
rekindled—reminding us of what was,
what brought forth joy, what is
savored—those feelings that move
us forward—or, cherished as they are
or were, are stored in the keepsake
box of our heart.

Love is probably the most dominant—
It is the emotion that creates, consolidates,
and holds us together. This can be said
of friendship, short term or years in length,
one that shares the ups and downs of everyday.
Every day there is the echo of my grandchildren
as they prep for school, return home, tackle homework,
and joyously share their day—ups and downs,
all arounds. What more can I ask for.

Helen Haynes


Where the Wind Blows

an erasure of a passage from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

Follow your genius
White sands—pleasant sunshine—
Free wind blows—

Helen Haynes



It is good to be alive because there are
so many things to see. I see the sun rising
in the morning, I see stars in the sky.
What more could you want to see?
I would like to see a jet fly in the sky
on a sunny day. I would like to see
clouds float by after
a summer storm. There are wonderful
things to see. If I would stop long
enough to see.

Ed Stephens


The Pond

– an erasure of a passage from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

At least I rose enough to see
white sands from the pond.

Ed Stephens


Turtles Sunning

I live along Brushy Creek in Round Rock, Texas. It’s a place I have become quite fond of. I like to walk along the creek enjoying the tree-lined banks, walking upstream to the Round Rock and continuing further upstream to a place I call “Turtle Cove.” It’s a name I gave to the area where turtles like to gather and sun themselves on the banks of the creek. I always count the number of turtles on the bank.  Yesterday, I counted forty-five turtles sunning themselves on the bank. It was a good number, better than I had seen for some time. It made me happy to see them again.

Alan T. Sagen



On Saturday, I saw the
hordes of woman and even
children descending on
Washington, D.C., in celebration
of the Women’s March for

Marian Fleming


On Living in Downs, Kansas

Downs is a small town in Northern Kansas
just off of Highway 24. The town has one movie theater.
Many local farmers come to Downs on Saturday
nights to go to the one movie theater and drugstore.

Bruce Fink


View of Life Near Nature

 – an erasure of a passage from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

A gypsy’s pack,
where free wind blows, a three-legged table where
blackberry vines run around its legs.

Bruce Fink



It’s good to be alive to hear
the birds sing, to be with my
children and grandchildren, to
be able to do fun things with
them, to watch them grow
and live their lives,
for them to be happy.

Heather De Loyo

American Values

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

For many, the act of reading is the process of making connections with the past and with one’s memories. For this group of writers, writing is an essential element in that process. Through a series of four workshops, these writers shared their stories and memories, and made connections to the world beyond our classroom space. I hope you will experience similar connections as you read the following pieces. They are a gift to us all.

Katelin Kelly
Badgerdog Teaching Artist



America never was a truly
integrated government to me!
Rather, it was separated and corrosive to many
People of Color and those considered
“foreigners,” although all persons
came from other countries at one
time. Native Americans are the true
Americans, run over by those “foreigners”
from other countries: immigrants.



An Ocean Postcard

The waves are indicative of life’s ebb and flow.
The crashing waves are life’s difficulties and road blocks,
plus the termination of one’s life against the rocks.
Water returns to the ocean to start the
life process over.
The ocean is the provider of life.




To me, America will be home of the free.
I was born in a country
far away.
India was the
We won our freedom
from the British
after two hundred years
of servitude.
It is a country with
mountains, hills, and plains,
and peoples of different
languages and religions.



Let America Be What It Was Proposed to Be

But it’s never been that yet.
There was a military faction from the beginning.
There is still such a faction.
With weapons being used against each other,
With proposals of a wall going up to separate us,
With marching and slogans coming out,
Against our proposed freedom.
Can we not talk together, together to
Be friends, to love each other?
We do love each other, but we must all
Know what love is. Let us smile and
Be friends, forever, together.




I taste their beauty.
They have been make the right way,

by my grandmother,

with her flour,
with her butter,

with her hands,
with her soul.




America has always been America.
I can never believe America will ever change.

Farms and ranchers, homes—I always think
about the wonderful life we all have
shared living in America!

I pray for everyone who comes to
America—regardless of race or any other factor!
America has given memories to many people,
memories people may not have in other countries.



My Name

My first name is Michael. My middle name is Theodore. I had two older brothers, a sister, and one younger brother. My family is Hispanic, from northern New Mexico. All of my cousins are named after grandparents or uncles and aunts. My parents had five kids—none named for relatives (heaven forbid).


Healing Waters and Woods

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

When I first began working with the Memory Connections group at Westlake Presbyterian Church, many of them tried to convince me that they were by no means writers, and I felt like it would be my job to convince them otherwise over the next four weeks. By the end of that first class, they had convinced me that the creative spirit lived in all of them, as demonstrated by their purity of insight and beautiful construction of our language into something uniquely theirs. Then my role became helping them to draw out that creativity, to tap those wells, and to act as a medium for those who found it difficult to transcribe the vastness of their thoughts onto the page. They rose to every challenge presented to them with good humor, passion, and unflagging support of one another. These folks overcame physical and mental boundaries to produce work that humbled and inspired me each week. Walls were broken down, tears were shed, and powerful stories and poems emerged, works that felt like they’d been hiding inside these writers for years, just waiting to come out.

Julie Howd
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Reflective Forest

I am walking through the woods of Arkansas. It is early in the morning, and there is a soft breeze and light fog. I have explored these woods on many occasions, and on each exploration I always find something new or exciting.

As I sit quietly, I hear the snapping of a branch and then slowly, a beautiful doe steps into the meadow. Her brown eyes dart back and forth, and her nose sniffs for any unusual odor. Once satisfied, she bends to eat the soft green grass.

Two blue birds sweep by, settle on a branch, and begin clacking and speaking to each other. They snap up insects as they fly by. Suddenly, a large owl settles onto a branch, and the other birds quickly fly away. All is quiet again, except for the buzzing of insects.

I think of the times I have walked through these same woods with my father, wife, and children. Each memory is etched with emotion and wonder.

At times like this, you remember the times you have been harsh and immediately regret your transgressions. I think of the love I have received from my mother, father, and grandparents.

I walk back home as afternoon fades, and I remind myself to try to return the love that I have received from my family and friends. I also give a short prayer of appreciation for the Marines I treated in Vietnam. At times, the only thing I could do was to hold their hands as life slowly slipped away. As the tears slip down my cheeks, I realize how lucky I was to have loved ones I could relate to.

As the deer walk out of the woods, I slowly walk back to the camp where the Marines are currently entrenched and look to the time when I can be home again with my wife and family.

Charles W.



Playing basketball with my brothers
We’d hide out from my parents
The smell, sound, and taste of BBQ
Throwing balls to the dog
Riding bikes
Walking with Stephanie

Keith P.


Find Your Way Home

The wild geese, heading home again,
Soar in the clear blue sky.
Listen to their calls.
Follow the sound as long as your ears allow,
Knowing the world is in your heart,
And your heart fits perfectly into the universe.
You and the geese love what you love,
And will find home soon.

Carol Y.


Dock Time

Penguins jump in and out of the water.
They glide in and out of the sea.
I sit on the dock and watch as the kite
flies over the ocean, and the breeze is cool and green.
When the sun comes out, I put on my hat
and go have a beer.

Bill B.



Green is the color that says there is life!
Leaves in the spring ripple with green stripes.

All the green in the leaves provides rich nutrients
that bring more green and life to all.

Green provides food for all and beautiful growth.
Green makes me think of color to soon arrive.

Susan W.


Cerulean Sea

The aqua blue sea calmly washed ashore over the smooth, sandy beach in this bay, while around the point, it was crashing wildly like a drunken sailor. Looking out through the waves, there was unlimited space under massive thunderclouds. Nothing else to see or do today but enjoy the coolness of the aqua colors surrounding me as I stood there in the buff.

Logan M.


An Ode to an Orange

You begin as green but end as an
orange orange.

Art U.


Ah! Purple

Royalty seeks it, all others too.
As for desire and reproduction, PURPLE stimulates too!
Blue is desire and forward-looking, drawing purple.
Its love for humanity outweighs its care of self: a handsome one.
Other emotions—yellow, say—flow to it, emit from it.
Fit for personal use, an irresistible flow
of ebbing brightness.

Royalty adapts it to its position.
LOVE! Ah, sweet love,
filled with passion is chosen and warm,
carried and cared for, romantically calling
emotion, defining akin to a love.
All love should share
in this purple… this love.

Ed M.



Gently in water
Dive deeply, quietly, alone—
Model elegance.

John A.


Red, White, and Blue!

The flag and patriotism.
Red is hot. The feeling of anger.
White is neutral. The feeling of purity.
Blue is feeling. The feeling of sadness.
Red, white, and blue signifies gratitude
for country. The U.S.A.!

Carl M.


Back Deck of Our Cottage: Glen Arbor, Michigan

Relaxing in my favorite chair on the back deck of our cottage in Michigan, I can often watch and hear the squirrels running along the top runner of our fence and chipmunks racing across our deck. Our heart-shaped flower garden contains beautiful flowers with a border of stones from the local quarry. The clear blue sky and breezes from Lake Michigan relax me. It is the perfect place to read, contemplate, and appreciate our good fortune and the beauty of nature.

Boyd S.


Kerry Green

Dear Mike,

I am writing from Muckross House in County Kerry, Ireland today—September 3, 2011. The house is yellow brick and quite large and sits on a lake. It is a beautiful estate with a vast green lawn and many trees starting to turn fall colors. There are people near the lake taking a horse and buggy ride. There are others playing croquet on the lawn.

It is a beautiful sunny day. The air is fresh and full of the happy sounds of people and animals. I love hearing the lilt of the Irish brogue and the smiles of locals as they go about their daily tasks. The tour guide is speaking of the family obtaining their wealth from shipping things to and from the continent. They have a lovely greenhouse that grows vegetables and plants for the estate.

It takes twenty-five workers to run this vast estate. Only ten live on the grounds. The others commute from nearby. The estate also has a large barn of race horses that are worked and trained on the grounds for the upcoming race deep in Kerry. Everyone is proud of what they contribute to the estate’s successful running.

We will have tea in the back garden since it is such a nice day. They will serve bread and cheese and small sweets to the guests. I am happy, wanting to sing a ditty. This trip has been relaxing and restful. Hope all is well at home. I will see you next week.

Love and God Bless,

Patsy K.

Joyous and Playful

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

A joyous group of writers at Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church greeted me on the first day, and they never stopped kidding one another (and me!) during our six weeks together. Mostly playful, sometimes serious, they wrote about the history of their names and the colors of their favorite seasons. Many of the boisterous writers then shared a memory recorded on the page before them—from horrors in the swampy jungles of Vietnam to decorating Christmas cookies with the family. I am thankful for my time with these adult writers of powerful poetry and nonfiction.

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


My Name

My name is John Paul Alexander. “John” was from my mother’s family—her brother who died early. “Paul” was my father’s name. My mom and dad both grew up in western Oklahoma and came from large farm families. “Alexander” carries a lot of baggage—first name, last name, and the famous, like Alexander the Great, Alexander Hamilton, and others.

I used the initials “JPA” a lot when I was younger. But, as an adult, it’s “John P. Alexander” and a variety of different IDs on the Internet. My primary one is “Hub Cap Dude.” Now, why would I do that?

  1. Probably not very common
  2. Has a story
  3. Starts conversations

“Hub Cap Dude” has a meaning—a lineage.

John Paul Alexander


Season Favorites

Reds and golds of changing trees,
tumbling leaves.
Temperatures moderate.
Children home during school vacations—
Christmas Eve and church service.
Just enjoying the weather
and family and friends.

Ted Heydinger



The Red Cookie Cutter

Small, shiny, and red,
waiting to be used.
Making five dozen cookies,
baking and decorating,
using red and white sprinkles.
To eat with family over milk or tea.
Enjoy and relax with family—
Christmas cookies.

Patsy Kilbane


How to Write a Report

Grab a computer and sit down to start writing. Apply software to begin the report. The software takes the data and processes it into the report. Then the report shows you if there is anything missing or something that needs fixing so you can update it.

After the reprocessing, print out five reports. If there are no mistakes, and everything goes well, you have a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction with your report.

Fred Lucas


Recipe for Singing

One of the ingredients for singing is the freedom of expression. Add a little bit of enjoyment and a knack for singing. Mix in the listener’s enjoyment and the performer’s gratitude for that. Happiness, importance, boosting my ego, feeling big and significant are all part of the beauty of singing—the beauty of creating pleasure for the people listening to me.

Carl Monnin


The Colors of the Season

Purple, green, red.
Rain falling from the sky,
Flowing as if in a royal moat.
Sun setting,
Red flowers,
Camping by the fire in Colorado.
We went with two other families.
We all had tents.
Making fires.

Keith Peco


My Name

I love my name. I haven’t known many others with my name. It always sounded like it belonged to me. I think of it as somehow being “steady.” It’s not real soft-sounding; it’s kind of balanced. It’s nice to be attached to your name.

I don’t know how I got the name Karen. I don’t have any relatives with that name. I was the oldest girl, with one brother and three sisters. I liked that we had a big family. I have always been a hard worker and enjoyed hanging up clothes. I loved school—being with my friends and learning. I eventually became a teacher.

Karen Smith


Walter Boyd Spencer

I was named after my grandfathers, Walter Martin and Richard Boyd Spencer. Both had died before I was born. My parents thought “Walter Boyd” sounded better than “Boyd Walter,” but they always called me “Boyd,” after my father’s father.

Funny story: While an undergraduate student at Baylor, two friends and I took a week-and-half-long trip to Mexico City and Acapulco, driving an old VW Beetle. At about 11:00 p.m., a state trooper pulled me over for speeding. He asked for my driver’s license and asked, “Walter, you say you are from Waco?” My friends almost died laughing, as they did not know my first name. During the last two years at college, my nickname was “Walter from Waco.”

Boyd Spencer


My Favorite Things

Lawn care
Eating out
Spending time with sons and daughters

Art Ulbrich



I am walking through a jungle in Vietnam. My corpsmen are spread out in an arc. We watch for unexploded bombs. Slowly, we approach a soldier lying on the ground. Is it a Marine or a Vietnamese soldier? The Marines know my concept of care, which is, as a physician, that I take care of anyone wounded—South Korean, North Korean, man or woman.

Ahead, we see a Marine rocking back and forth, crying, with his wounded partner sitting next to him. My corpsmen quickly assess the damaged soldier—he has a wound in his leg. My men know the drill and expertly cut away the tissue, swap bandages, and put on the compression bandage. A medical helicopter soars above them, and the soldier is flown to the sanctuary six miles off shore. We start off again in the jungle and come across a wounded Viet Cong soldier, and my company of men again clean the wound quickly, and the helicopter whisks him away to the Sanctuary.

This is the drill we do for weeks and months at a time. What you remember most are the thousands of people, North and South Koreans and Marines dead or wounded, and nothing was resolved. We still have North and South Vietnam.

Charles Walker


Family Gatherings

We arrived at my brother’s house on a cold Thanksgiving Day to spend the holiday together. A cold breeze blew, stirring the gold, brown, and red leaves. On a welcoming porch, my brother and sister greeted us. The beautiful leaves shifted in the wind and, now, red leaves appeared.

We all saw one another and rejoiced. We would soon be inside my brother’s warm house for another happy Thanksgiving enjoyed by the family.

Susan Warren



Austin, my home town.
You nurtured me.
You educated me.
You inspired me.
You took me in and
sent me on my way
to a new life.

I’m all grown up, educated, and
looking over the edge of the future!
A future bright with colors,
full of beauty and wonder.

Carol Yacono

So Proud

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

Delightful WellMed writers
imagining wistful creatures of the sea
and afternoons with woodsy critters
hunting food for the family dinner.

So proud of their heritage, their freedom,
their ability to write special stories
and share their precious memories.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives
and your wonderful poetic works.

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Inspiring Objects

This colorful crab was given to me as a gift from a friend who had recently visited the beach. Looking at all the amazing colors made my day brighter. Even though it’s a wooden crab, it still made me smile. I think it was the eyes.

I had my best vacations at the beach. I loved to sit on the sand and watch the waves roll in. People-watching was also fun! I always loved the sun and just had to have a tan. Then it was a relief to get into the water and cool off. Thank you, Mr. Crab, for some fond memories.

Jane Baran


Inspiring Objects

I am a doll made of wood,
with a dress of cream, red, and blue,
and hair black as coal.
I came from Mexico or Spain.

A surprise awaits you when you open me up—
tiny replicas of little people,
not from China, but Spain.

Mala Bhattacharyt


Colors of the Season

A scene of trees, vacant piece of property,
vacancies of smooth water in the cool evening.
Summer is over, but the cold hasn’t quite arrived.
The grey clouds cover the sleeping scene
as the sun tries to peek through a few places.

The sun wants to come through—
it’s trying, but it may not.

Jennifer Martinec


The Bobcat

I see a wild animal in the fall season, looking out for danger. There is a nice background of trees. The Bobcat in the foreground is looking for friends—perhaps a lady friend, who promised to stop by. The setting might be around Hutto, Texas, with its brushy creeks. There, I never saw a bobcat, but plenty of squirrels.

I was a young boy of eleven, just old enough to shoot a rifle with my father. He dropped me off and then headed to the beer joint. Until dark, I hunted squirrel for dinner. I felt excited and trusted by my father and was proud to help feed my mother and four sisters.

Jay Westmoreland


The Flag

Red, white, blue.
The American flag—
Liberty, freedom, unity.
Freedom and honor.

Michael Serna

Rich with Experience

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

There’s no doubt the writers in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections program at Hope Lutheran have great stories to tell. This group of writers is as diverse as they are lively, having lived all over the world, from Tokyo to Texas. In their writing, you can feel their rich experiences culminate in the beauty of a simple line about the smell of autumn. The power of their struggle with memory loss is always present, just below the surface, as these writers bravely delve into their pasts to bring forth these poems. There is never a dull moment in this poetry, as it expresses the Hope Lutheran group’s bright attitude toward life and adventurous spirit, something that is truly inspiring to encounter. Their writing is lively, comical, tender, and honest. It is starkly sad and bubbling over with joy all at once. It rhymes, meanders, repeats itself. It goes into the RV to watch the Aggies game. It talks to nature, and to God. These poems are a pure expression of both the simplicity of life and its magnificent vastness, of which we are forever in awe.

Claire Bowman
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Fall Is Wonderful

Brown, brown, brown…
Showing up on our trees!
Yellow, yellow, yellow bushes,
those bright flowers on very green,
very tall bushes, waving in the wind’s arms.

Again, I go to the color yellow
found on the ears of corn sitting
on the kitchen counter.
Their taste, their crunchiness,
their bright and beautiful color
all make me happy.

I know corn comes in other
colors: white, red, or brown.
But don’t we all love yellow the most?

Pat Keen


From April, May to June

The sun, everything is blooming.
Flowers are blooming,
The weather is beautiful.
Not too hot, not too cold,
Nice and cool and fresh.
You can enjoy walking in the evening,
Sitting in sidewalk cafés,
Enjoying the people-watching
And the fresh air of the evening.

I’m sitting in the sidewalk café
Where they make grilled shish-kabobs.
I’m drinking red wine with my vegetable salad —
Not too much, just enough
To enjoy everything there.
It makes me feel at home.

Sarita Mais


Catching Trout in My Hometown Waters

I see a babbling stream of water
In my state of Wisconsin.
I hear the sound of the water rushing over
The rocks in the stream. Frogs croaking
And birds singing.
I feel a cool breeze.
I think to myself — how to plan
Catching a big trout under the water
Near the pine trees?
I wonder how many trout are available
Today. Should I cast closer to the shore?
I wait for a response from my cast.
Did I see one near my bait?
Try again and again until I get my catch.
Reel him in.

John Zimmerman


Snow-Capped Mountains

I see wonderful shadows in the water
And blended colors that magnify
The beauty of colored images in the water.
I feel magnificent colored images defining
The images in the water.
I think to myself, “I want
To take in all of the images,
Including those in the water,”
And I wonder if the quiet beauty
Can be maintained with time.

Bill Hoisington



The sun is shining! Every day is an adventure. Should we go swimming? The joy of jumping into the cold water, knowing we shall go back out into the warmth and beauty of the sun. What a sensation and awakening to the joy of nature. The flowers bloom everywhere, sheltered in part by the glorious trees surrounding them. Life is good! Going home to dinner or eating a picnic on the beach, swimming and making sandcastles. Having an ice cream cone on the way home, licking it succulently, enjoying its cool flavour. Tired and satisfied, we go to bed thinking of the days to come!

We go out the next day to play with our friends, telling them about our journey, about visiting the fish-and-chip shop for lunch, a treat for all, including Mom, who didn’t have to cook. We meet friends on the beach and promise to see them tomorrow. Into bed, mother telling us a bedtime story or a poem she wrote several herself, which ushered us to sweet dreams of tomorrow, swimsuits and towels hung up on the clothesline to dry. Happiness and contentment abound. Everyone got up early the next day in anticipation of going again to the beach, a beach ball in one arm and towels in the other.

Audrey Krier



The crisp, cool air
The reds, the yellows
When walking on the leaves
The crunch, the burning
Of leaves, the fun of rolling
Through dry leaves, playing in the streets
The crisp, cool air, the leaves
Falling off the trees, the kiss
Of Autumn cool
The taste of waning
The laughter of adults
Do not attempt to change
The feel of Autumn.

Lyle Erickson


Texas Longhorns

I see Bevo.
I hear thousands of people yelling at the UT Stadium.
I feel the UT band playing, my daughter Mary,
Who played in the Longhorn band for four years.
I think to myself of those wonderful days
Of football at UT, and I wonder
what it will be like in the years to come.

Lee Roy S.


My Deer Love

A startled deer,
Fat and tender.
My little deer will soon surrender.
I hear only silence and stillness,
Quiet and peace—
Yes, a great big piece of juicy, tender meat!
In awe of the beauty, elegance,
And size of this creature—
I hope this bullet will go far enough to reach her.
I think to myself… I’m hungry.
I can’t miss.
This buck is toast!
And I’m sure this dinner
Is going to be a winner!
I wonder how long it will take
To dress her, and cook a little venison for dinner!

Rick Guilbeau


The Winter’s Elk 

I see a HUGE elk standing so very still
In the white snow.
He is observing me, hopefully,
With great interest.
I smile widely, but don’t move.

I hear him give a snort.
Vapor comes form his nose.
I see him pawing with one great hoof,
As if sending a message to me.

I feel he’s as curious about my existence
As I am about his.
And I think to myself, “What if
I smile broadly, tilt my head,
And wink…”

I wonder what he will tell his family when
He gets home.
I know what I’m telling mine!

Jeanne Roden


Winter Creation

I see a beautiful snapshot of Nature,
The cold water near the cushions
Of winter snow, and the tall stone-ledge
Mountains, now holding tiers of ice
And snow.

I hear in the still, quiet beauty — no
Sound, only beauty seen above and
Upon the surface, a Revelation
Of the cold, quiet lake.

I feel a still nothingness that holds me
As I gaze upon reflections of
The beauty and majesty that surrounds me.

I think to myself… This is a precious moment.
I must stop and be in this picture of Earth,
Of Creation.

I wonder if I will ever lose the wonder of this moment.
I think not.
It is a moment in eternity.

Elizabeth E. Flynn


Autumn Mornings 

Crisp, cool sunrises
Coming over the mountain.

Orange, yellow, green, brown
Colors being blown around
In the fresh breeze.

Children high on the rocks
As the sun starts to lower in the evening.

We go into our RV to watch
The Texas Aggies game.

We enjoy the outdoors,
The coyotes howling in the mountains.
Now, let’s go to bed.

Bobby Pruitt


Autumn (By Far!) 

Hot, humid summer is gone.
With less sweating, we can run!

Even in Texas, we have colors,
And it costs so few dollars!

Now that temperatures are lower,
We use much less of the mower!

Autumn has so much more food,
And everything tastes so good!

That we really enjoy life,
And again, again, I love my wife!

Manny Chavez

We, Not Me

The pieces published below were written by participants in AGE of Central Texas’s Memory Connections Program, which aims to enhance the mental and physical health and overall quality of life of people affected by early-stage dementia. The Badgerdog writing workshops provided for these groups were made possible by the generous support of St. David’s Community Foundation’s Health’s Angels.

I used to think writing was one of the lonelier activities one could endeavor to undertake. Not so. Even at this moment as I write alone in a small windowless office, I hear the voices of the workshop participants I shared Mondays with at the North Austin YMCA. I am reminded that writing is a means for regaining a sense of connectedness.

One memory in particular sticks out. I’d asked participants to come up with a short list of words of wisdom they’d either given or received at some point in their lives. To be honest, as one who falls (unwilling) under the umbrella of “millennial,” my own list included phrases such as follow your dreams, never give up, and do what you love. I was thrown for a loop when one participant, Eva, shared what were her most valuable words of wisdom:

  • Help those in need in any way you can.
  • Learn about the challenges of others and find ways to help.

I think my jaw fell open. I realized then that I’d become so entrenched in the daily to-dos of my life, that I was so focused on the “me,” I’d completely forgotten about the “we.”

While not everyone in our workshop was able to use the tools of writing (pens and paper) — the physical act of writing either too painful or too frustrating — everyone was able to enjoy and participate in a communal atmosphere of language, or “creative discussion,” as we called it. Words floating in the air are just as valuable as words pinned to a page. Living in the moment is just as important as recording it. Listening to each other’s stories is just as significant as telling stories of our own. And like water washing over stone, everything that we do changes us a little. I was changed. And I believe storytelling always gives back to the community, the “we” that is so essential to all of us.

Julie Poole
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Out My Window, I Remember

Mother red cardinal, dark red. I saw her bring stray leaves and sticks to make her nest. She’d been found nesting in another nest in my backyard, and her last family stayed nearby. When it came time to nest with a new generation of eggs, she made a new one in a tall shrub near my door. At the time, I was in the hospital after open heart surgery number two. I came by to pick up something to wear besides PJs. They were teaching the babies to fly. I don’t wear perfume, so they didn’t sense me nearby. I covered my mouth with a soft pillow and watched the parents teach the young cardinals to take flight.

On vacation, touring nine states to see state parks and watch the acid spring water blow from its geyser, I was awoken and saw the most beautiful view I have ever seen. The sky was so beautiful, with so many colors, in fact, that I momentarily questioned if the world was coming to an end. And God would be next.

Emmaline Jones


Rabbit Ring

The object that means the world to me and is particular in its value of longevity is the ring I wear on the middle finger of my right hand. It is made out of unpolished silver and depicts a four-footed beast with two long ears, a tail, and four long feet, a rabbit given to me by a former boyfriend, who told me to always keep my eye on the rabbit, a reference to greyhound racing.

Marian Fleming


My Desk

My hand-carved oriental desk, which belonged to my mother’s mother, Da, as we grandchildren called her. Mom and I were with her on our first trip to Hawaii in 1949. We visited a distant cousin of hers living in Honolulu. Aboard the plane, Da became ill, was given a blood transfusion — wrong type — so after the hospital stay, we lived in a typical neighborhood. There was a Dutch refugee family with a little girl who had several deformities due to the lack of protein in WWII; a Hawaiian family on the opposite side with several children; and, us, in the middle — a league of nations! Children just played, using simple toys we either shared or created — language was no barrier — children just play!

When I sit at this desk, corresponding with family and friends back in California, I have a space of my own, an area to touch back in time, an area to create in, an area that is all mine.

Helen G. Haynes


Character Sketch

My lifelong friend, Kathryn Ruth, a.k.a. Kathy, has been in my life since third grade — this is equivalent to sixty-five years. In forth grade, we said goodbye. Why, you ask? Each family was leaving Ojai, California. How our mothers kept their secret was amazing, for we (young friends) were devastated by our loss. After our new home was ready to move in to, I found out that Kathy was merely four houses down the block from me.

Over the course of these past sixty-plus years, we’ve shared weddings, the births of our children, high school, and college graduations. Then came the children’s weddings — some in Ventura, California, one on the Big Island of Hawaii. And now we celebrate our grandchildren’s birthdays — all seven of them. My eldest, Sean, twenty-three, U.S. army, down to Paige and Andrew, nine; hers Ava, eleven; Elsie, nine; Vianne, eight; and Shepard, six.

Helen G. Haynes


Out My Window, I Remember

Long ago, I lived on a farm in Ireland surrounded by many trees of different kinds, meadows with sheep and rabbits crawling around, an orchard with many kinds of apples, pears, and plums, and an avenue surrounded by moss weeds.

Eva Church


My Husband

One object that means a lot to me is the photo of my husband. He gave it to me, and I love it a lot. In the photo, he’s twenty-six.

Heather H. de Loyo



My objects are useful… scissors for snipping fabric samples and a tape measure for knowing how much to cut out for sewing.

I don’t sew clothing for myself anymore. My shape has shifted!

But I now sew pig pillows, the first choice of hospital patients, requested by chaplains and Ouch Buddies for children at the Ronald McDonald House — squeezable when getting a shot. And pillows for those same children in bright colors.

Ruth Crowson


Words of Wisdom 

Wait. Wait for beauty, for buds blooming out
of season. For secondhand gloves full of memories.
For music by piano and music by flute.
For looms weaving our loves. Beauty
in love, and love in beauty. Love in
music, and music in love.

Ruth Crowson

From Real to Magical

From the beginning, the writers in AGE of Central Texas’s Early Memory Loss program expressed a preference for writing nonfiction — “real” things as opposed to imagined ones. But what happened was arguably more magical — they described the natural world, beloved family members, memories with rich sensory detail and surprising metaphor. Several writers remarked they were better oral storytellers than writers, but I argue that the art of telling stories aloud comes through in the writing. The reader is able to feel the rhythm of traveling stars, imagine the sound and smell of the ocean, and turn with the spinning night sky above.

Claire Campbell
Badgerdog Teaching Artist


Placing the Stars

The girl who arranged the paths of the stars. They seem to her a part of a giant merry-go-round or an endless turning wheel in the cosmos, as its timeless turning in the fullness of the firmament. Never stopping—turning, turning, turning round and round in the ceaseless spinning through the heavens.



Mother and Father

My father was always sleeping with a revolver pistol under his pillow in their bedroom. He never had to use it but he was prepared. I don’t need a pistol now that I feel safe where I am living!

My father and mother passed down the tradition of going to church to worship God and believing in Him, and his holy spirit has guided me in my life!

John Isom


Whenever I

Whenever I
Walk by the sea
I think of the fish
See the waves
I hear the sounds of splashing
Remember the smell
The taste is spicy and salty
The waves are blue and black
The sound is loud and pounding.

Judy Rogers



The night enfolds us; we are captured by its light.
The stars above support us, looking for their light.
We find our strength in feeling nothing, a revolution
to require. But as the sun comes out to play,
we see our role in life
a beacon to be shouldered
when day returns to night.

Dirk Ourston


The Night

The nighttime is beautiful, especially when the stars are also bright and charming. I love to look at them for a long time. Sometimes I look at them and I cry, not for pain, but with emotion.

Some of the stars move, almost as if they are traveling, and sometimes the stars stay in one place, like waiting for a partner to come and go.

Some of the stars move as if they are traveling from one place to another, and they move fast, like they are late for an appointment—perhaps for a meeting with another star?

Julie Grote


Sky and Sea

The night sky has captured the attention of people and animals on the earth for as long as the universe has existed in its present form. It has been the source of poems, music, art, and inspiration forever. Now that scientific progress has made us able to get more information about the formation and some history changes in the stars, we are still far from understanding how the stars and galaxies were formed and what their future is. It will be an increasingly important subject of study (and inspiration) for humans forever.

The sea is very demanding and unforgiving. Yes, it can be comforting and pleasant but in an instant it can become very threatening and dangerous. In some areas it can be weather, in others it can be local things like creatures or physical effects like whirlpools.