Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Love's Funny That Way...

I hope you will enjoy my first attempt at video on this blog! It's a love song by Charlie Landsborough that is stunningly beautiful. (If it makes you cry, I make no apologies!) I have nothing to explain or add to it, except perhaps to say that sometimes it's as simple as accepting that loving matters all by itself.

I wish you each deep love and every happiness in the New Year...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Message to kj

Keep knocking and
the joy inside will
eventually open
a window and look
out to see
who's there.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Bungelow at Heart Boulevard

Knock knock.
This is the landlord. I’m serving notice you have to leave.

Leave? Why?
The rent is overdue.
What? Since when?
It’s months behind.
But I only occupy a small corner of this heart—there's plenty of room for others. I love the space, really. I thought the rent was taken care of.
It was, but now the withdrawals have exceeded the deposits. You can’t stay any longer.
But I have important memories here. And wishes and hopes.
Sorry, you have to go.
What if I take over the payments?
By yourself? What is your currency? The rent has always been paid in tendered denominations and mutual funds.
I can pay it that way too.
But if it’s just you the tendering will only be one way and the funds won’t be mutual. That is not standard practice.
Look, I have my own reserve to pay the rent. Can’t you accept that?
For how long?
I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just stay a few months more. But maybe I'll stay indefinitely. This space is an investment in something I care about.
But no more deposits? That’s risky business.
Who’s to say? There’s a good amount of earned equity here already. I don’t want to move as long as I feel the way I do.
Even if you don’t get a return on your investment? Even if you lose everything you’ve put in?
Yes, it’s a chance I will take. In this case I may view loss and gain the same way.
Even if your investment is no longer deliverable?
Yes, even then. But who’s to say one way or another? What does anybody know for certain?
Listen, I just collect the rent. I make sure the funds don’t get depleted. Staying put and making the payments yourself--it seems reckless, risky.
It may be. But I don’t mind. It’s not like I can’t leave. I just don’t want to, at least not yet. There are riches here. They matter to me.
You'll have to give notice if you leave.
Yes, of course, you’ll be the second to know. Right after myself.

Friday, December 26, 2008


33 pounds shed,
17 pounds to go.
22 books sold,
4,978 to go.
A pretty good start...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thursday 13: Farewell to Christmas!

Twenty four hours later, three friends, four family members, one cheese fondue, one pot of chili and one bowl of guacamole, twenty four slices of chili cheese cornbread, twelve chocolate mini-holiday cakes, four cappuccinos, one homemade coffee cake, one honey dew melon, a pound of bacon, one six pound prime rib, five pounds of mashed potatoes, three bowls of fresh vegetables, and what seemed like two hundred and seventy seven presents later, it's officially over. Christmas at # 9 has peacefully ended.
Here's a glimpse of the comings and goings. I am happy to say I got a new camera this Christmas, and I plan to read the manual. In the interim, I can't say why some of these shots are blurry. Please forgive me when necessary:
1. I love coffee. Good coffee. My favorite is Peet's Major Dickinson. I treat myself to a strong wonderful cup of coffee first thing every morning.
2. And I love when I have the time to leisurely read the morning paper. Though there was plenty to do over the last two days, there was also some quiet time to catch up and wind down.

3. The Christmas tree is topped not with a star or an angel, but in tribute of Rosie, our English Springer Spaniel who will never be forgotten.
4. This year my friend Clara gave me this wacky little bird ornament from a local Craft cooperative.

5. Who cut down on shopping and spending money this year? From the look of the presents piled in front of the tree, it wasn't my family. Or was it? Actually, I think we all did cut back, and we all felt good about it.

6. Guess who slept over Christmas Eve along with his parents and was the most fun from beginning to end?

7. JB is the easiest person to buy gifts for. She loves everything, the more unique, the better. These "slippers" were in her stocking this year, compliments of Jess. Of course they were right at home with her polka dot socks.
8. We picked my Mom up for Christmas dinner. Mr. Ryan calls her Gum-ma for no reason except that's what he started calling her. She will be 93 years old on January 5th, and JB and I have told her we will take her to the Mohegan Sun Casino for the day, so she can play the quarter slot machines. She does not travel well and her memory does not work, but the Casino it will be.

9. The porch isn't finished and I'm not sure when it may be, but when we put the futon down as a spare bed,
I love the ambiance of the room.

10. Mr. Ryan's grandparents (JB & me) got him a Jack-in-the-Box. I wish the photo were clearer, but no doubt he loved loved loved it. Beside him, of course, is Esther the resident Witch, who only leaves the couch when she has been drinking too much and tries to fly, with mixed results.

11. If for no other reason, I am eternally grateful that I am a mother, because I love this kid of mine so much I would have otherwise never known how much love I have in me. This is Jessica, accompanied by Sadie, who I also love.
12. Nobody wraps presents like JB. She is a first class present wrapper artist.

13. I don't know why I like this shot of the dining room table, but I do. Even though the dining room is the size of a postage stamp, it's one of my favorite places in the house.

It's quiet here now. The dishes are (mostly) done, the presents are still all over the living room, and I am pensively glad the holiday is over and tomorrow is an open day few chores and fewer demands.
I hope the season treated you well, maybe you're glad it's over too, and I look forward to blogging away in 2009.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays

From city to village to country to town,
may you be surrounded this holiday season
by love, laughter, light, and maybe even lust!
I am so grateful for the the friendships I have
made across the miles.
Thank you and God Bless.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Get Mad Instead

This advice came my way yesterday, probably none too soon, from one of my most loved and wisest critics. It was bracketed in between a few other gems, which got me thinking about how some of us move through difficulty: "Fake it till you make it." Okay, I can do that.
So in the spirit of Christmas, let me start with a few photos that reflect the world around me this weekend:

And let me end with the six boxes of 250 books that arrived at my back door two weeks ago. One hundred will find their way to book critics, reviewers and the like. One will be sent to Jodie Foster, who I think would play a perfect "Lily" on the big screen. A half dozen have already been dropped off at one local cafe and one independent bookstore. Thirteen have been sold, signed and mailed out from # 9, and a few have been lovingly given to special people for special reasons. Life could not be more paradoxical: at one of the more difficult times in my life, one of the more exhilarating achievements is unfolding.

And as of today, when I start to fold too, I'll do my best to get mad instead.

Friday, December 19, 2008

ValGal & The Magic Cottage

It started off as a run down backyard shed, home to a riding lawn mower that didn't work and plenty of cobwebs. In time, with some insulation and sheetrocking, painting, and a small propane heater, it became JB's art studio. We called it the Magic Cottage from day one.
One night I spent several hours looking at the archives of
Valerie Walsh also known as my pal ValGal. I was hoping I might find one of her paintings to grace the cover of the story of Alex and Lily. I did not expect, and still can't believe, that Val would offer to paint an original in honor of my first book. This incredible artist gave me the gift of her incredible artwork, and she made me feel like I was doing her a favor.
Sometimes I think Val was destined to paint the Magic Cottage.
Here it is in reality:

And here is Val's magic:
My book was published barely two weeks ago. I've just begun what will be as active a publicity and marketing campaign as I can muster, and so far the first words I hear are "What a wonderful cover." And, "Oh that cover is totally beautiful."

I've always felt blessed by my friends. They've been there for me in many special moments in my life. But in this moment, with this gift, by this artist--well, how lucky can a person be?

Thanks Val. I'm forever grateful.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thank You: Part 3

Therapists aren't supposed to give gifts to clients. Because I'm working with families that are quite poor and I'm looking around their apartments wanting them to have a good Holiday season, I've been frustrated that I can't do my secret santa blessings, especially for some of the kids.
So I did the next best thing, and I make no apologies. I e-mailed some select friends and asked for money. We'll call it "contributions." I explained that I wanted to purchase art supplies for a certain 12 year old girl who was likely to have very little on Christmas morning.
The response was abundant. Within a week or so, I had $ 145. Ten dollars here, five dollars there, a check for twenty, a card with well wishes, a box with scissors and colored pencils, a sketch pad and electric pencil sharpener. JB and I went to the local art store and $ 95 later we had a huge bag of art-everything.
Today I took the huge bag to "Lulu's" mom. Plus a plain white envelope with two 20's and one 10: fifty dollars to use for whatever will make Christmas a family affair.
I wish you could have been there. Mom was quiet as she picked up and looked at every single thing.
"Will it help?" I asked.
"Oh yeah," she said. "It sure will."
My heart is sad this holiday season, for good reason. It sucks to love someone who doesn't love you back. But today, my heart stepped outside myself and let the kindness of good people show the way.
I am privileged to have delivered this huge bag today. Thank God I know that much.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thank You: Part 2

It's no secret I've been down and out the last few weeks. I don't know when I'll emerge from my self imposed I-don't-know-how-to-feel-better state, but there have been a few encouraging signs. I am so thankful and grateful to certain special people who have just about carried me to a more hopeful, healthy place:
Melissa: Your blog always lightens my load. And your friendship means so much.
Val: One day soon we shall smile across the table and join hands in friendship. Thank you so much for believing in me, and for being there in every way.
Studio Lolo: There is nothing better than acknowledging a kindred soul and new friend. Besides for your wonderful art, you are a sensitive caring woman and I am grateful we are becoming friends.
Mim: My fellow New Englander: how could I not include you?! You were the first person to "buy the book", and your comments are always positive and kind.
To each of you, I hereby bestow the Perfect Blend of Friendship Award. Please pass it on however you see fit.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Flight of the Heart

I can count on one hand the number of special people I have loved deep and true, and the thought of losing one of them is most painful for so many reasons, but especially because of little things: a certain laugh, a point of view, the ring of my cell phone, the anticipation of footsteps in the hallway.
I wrote this poem a couple of years ago. I hope its true that the heart can fly, because I'd like to think there is a place that love and blessings thrive and protect, no matter what.

Flight of the Heart
A wide winged bird settled here last spring
in this farming town with college twists,
relaxing in the gardens and goings on
and never for a moment suspecting
that an ageless soul mate
had begun its flight east.
Everything changed in that moment
and it will now be what it was not before--
a homeland different and apart,
mourning the smallest and largest of possibilities,
burying the future under the past—
not the normal order of things—
and all of it unable to settle
in this ancient place of home.
When the distance cannot be accommodated,
the little laughters and easy understanding,
the scholarly wisdom and worldly passion
of exploding change
will be forgotten,
lovingly tucked away
Until one day,
when the one reason that is every reason
is no longer unforeseen,
the joy seems less precise:
when that happens
another shift occurs
and only then they might know
a second settling
of the flight of the heart.
It begins quietly,
one November day
when the ground is golden
and the trees stretch their bare limbs
up and out, holding tight.
That is when the question is clear:
How wide can a heart stretch?
Can it expand so much
that the little hearts inside drop their protective toothpicks,
with a sigh and surrender
and step bravely past the boundaries of time and space?
The wide winged bird watches it all,
no longer alone
but in a still point
accepting this flight of destiny
now rooted in improbable trust
and carefully hidden in the wet leaves.
When the shift was certain,
when the change was solid,
when confusion became commitment,
the aching perseverating question
of how this could be
sheepishly lingered
so everything can hold firm,
until the flight of the heart
can gently rest.
It is another day now.
The seasons extend and endure,
a transformation so shocking and complete,
it is outmatched only by a distance
so circular it cannot be traced,
not yet, maybe never.
From the sweetest lamenting gifts,
through all these continents,
the flight of the heart continues,
where it will rest in a treetop
safe from strangers below
and reachable only through the rare and special moments
of timeless love.
Ten days and ten months and ten years later
the leaves again fall
and the tree limbs still stretch.
The wind carries the flight of the heart
to sacred ground
where the wide winged bird
and its hallowed soul mate
forever rest.
The resting times and places are infrequent--
choices still built on virtue and grace--
but it does not matter.
Theirs is the solitary life, a union
so bound to godliness
that their lifetimes together are endless
In a holy place where only love rules.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Sometimes I have to push my hope and effort forward even when I think I can't. In that spirit, though I've lost someone I love, I came across this story and decided it's time to share it:
A female humpback whale had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat.
She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth.
A fisherman spotted her just east of the Faralon Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed for help.
Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her-- a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer.
They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her.
When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles.
She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, nudged them, and pushed gently, thanking them.
Some say it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives.
The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time, and he will never be the same.
May you, all of those you love, be so fortunate...
To be surrounded by people who will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you.
And may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


It's available!
If any of my blog friends want to purchase my book, you can do so in one of several ways:
1. Hit the Paypal "Buy Now" button at the top of my blog. Your order will come directly to me and I will ship the book to you via priority mail. If you want me to sign it for you, please know it would be such a pleasure for me to do that. Using Palpal, you can charge the cost to whatever credit card you want and I will be able to send the book to you anywhere in the world. If you don't already have a Paypal account set up, it's confidential and pretty easy. Just hit the "buy now" button and you will be walked through the info needed.
2. You can purchase through Amazon.com and/or BarnesandNoble.com. Enter 'The Light Stay on Karen Jasper' and there it will be! You'll get a discounted price this way (I'm not sure about the postage cost). If you want the book signed, just send me a self addressed stamped envelope and I will send you a signed book plate. No charge for that for any of my wonderful blog friends. (Miladysa, I think it's also available though Amazon UK).
3. Your local bookstore can order "The Light Stays On" if you ask for it. No postage cost that way.
4. If you are inclined to comment on the story of Alex and Lily, please consider doing so on Amazon. Reader feedback helps them to rank the book, and the higher the ranking, the better the responses.
This is a very exciting occasion for me. I want to thank each of you so damn much for your support every step of the way. Many of you are acknowledged in the foreword of the book itself, with my deep gratitude.
If you do have occasion to hold the book in your hands, I would love your feedback after reading it. I'll be officially "launching" a publicity and marketing campaign at the first of the year. Again, thank you thank you thank you.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Monday Night Inspiration

Forgive me, Spirit of my spirit, for this,
that I have found it easier to read the mystery
told in tears and understood Thee better
in sorrow than in joy.
.George William Russell, 1867-1930
This was the prompt at my writing group last night. I understood this totally. So for what it's worth, with some apology for not being more uplifting as the holidays approach, here's my response to a theme I too think about. I know I'm abit somber these days, and the truth is I can't say if this poem is uplifting or depressing, but here it is:
For Love
It’s only one arm,
Okay its dominant
But I can still
Raise broth to my frozen lips.
Only one eye,
The other choked blind
Though still I see your shadow
Gracefully in flight.
I gave up my voice
So I could hear yours
When the wires
Misfired and static reigned.
My steps though mis-shapened,
Hobble past space
Where molecular memory
Settled in.
Forgive me on a day
When my knees give out
And I whimper toward
Whatever grace isn’t.
When I was whole
I moved too quickly
To notice almost anything.
Lucky loss has given me sight.
My smile survived
because it double duties
With its tearful turn downward
At midnight, through the howls.
Yesterday I watched a cattail
Bend and balance
And I remembered when
My heart moved like that.
This loss of limb and life
Love lust and luster:
What a tiny price
What a tiny price.
I wonder in the years ahead
Should my parts should regenerate
If I will miss
The space I’ve forfeited.
I wonder if sorrow
Might reappear as joy
filled with the love
That’s made me whole.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Christmas Story

Dear Santa,
I am 12 and my mother is sad. She sleeps during the day and tells me to clean my room when I ask her to play with me. She is crazy that my room be clean, every day she tells me to clean it again. What’s the sense of folding my clothes when they just stay on the floor anyway? I’ve never had a bureau and if I did I would use it for my art supplies. She tells me there will be mice if I don’t pick up the candy wrappers but that only happened once, and at the time there were no wrappers at all.
My brother Joey is in Ohio and all I want for Christmas is for him to come home. We waited for him for Thanksgiving but he never came. We didn’t know he didn’t have a ride until two days later, when my mother could pay to have her cell phone turned on again. Then Joey called and said he didn’t call us because the phone was disconnected, but maybe he might come for Christmas. I am making a birthday and Christmas card for him that says “To Joey, my brother, I love you."
Sometimes My counselor asks me if I’m cold or hungry. I always say no I’m fine because that is the truth. My counselor wants my mother to leave fruit out for me so I can decide to have it when I want. My mother hasn’t done that yet, but lately she’s been asking me if I want an apple and if I say yes she unlocks the pantry door and gives me one.
My mother cleans our apartment everyday. It is spotless. She even takes the oven door off and puts this stuff on it that make it look brand new. We have two couches in the living room, one table and three chairs in the dining room, I have a mattress and my mother and Chris just got a new one. Once my mother lit a candle in the dining room and it changed the way the whole room looked.
For Christmas I could use some tops and pants. Right now I have four tops and three pairs of pants, but they are supposed to be either blue or beige for school and sometimes I get in trouble because I’m not wearing the right colors. The school counselor told my counselor that sometimes my clothes don’t look clean. That’s probably because I try to wash them in the bathtub but they don’t always dry right and we don’t have an iron so I smooth them out with my hands.
I draw to keep myself busy and I hope I get some markers for Christmas too. A few years ago we were in a shelter at Christmas and Joey and I got eight presents each. They were all wrapped and my mother was really happy and relaxed. This year I hope I get at least two presents. We didn’t have electricity for two months because my mother and Chris couldn’t pay the bill. Chris rigged up an extension cord to the neighbor’s next door for some of the time, It’s a good thing I don’t mind the cold. And a few times my mother lit candles at night, which was nice.
When Joey left for Ohio the day of my birthday I wrote in a math book that my teacher fucked herself. The vice principal showed my counselor when she came to see me at school and she asked me why I did that. I started crying and told her because my brother moved away. I thought it was better to write that about a teacher I liked instead of hated, but I hurt her feelings and I told her I was sorry.
One time the counselor drove my mother and me to a parking lot so we would talk without Chris hearing and I told my mother that I get scared when Chris yells at her. He is jealous and accusing her of seeing other men, even though she never leaves the house. I also told her I could hear them in the bedroom and I didn’t like it one bit. Since then when Chris yells my mother comes in my room and tells me she is not afraid at all, and there is nothing for me to be afraid about. That makes me feel better.
The thing I would like most for Christmas, besides clothes and markers, is more time with my mother. I want her to be happy. I want us to play crazy eights and laugh. But even more than that, I want Joey to come home. He makes us all laugh.
A couple of weeks ago I sent an email to perhaps a dozen or so people asking for donations to buy this young girl art supplies for Christmas. I was overwhelmed by the responses: almost $ 150.00 and a wheel barrel of good wishes and kind hearts.
I wrote this letter to Santa in my writing class, but the facts are true and real. I hope this glimpse touches your heart as well.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


I love blogging, but there's one thing that I'm often unsure how to reconcile. In my day-to-day life , my friends and family have signs (my expression, my demeanor, my voice) that reflect how things are going with me. In blogland, it is all to easy to create a air of contentment (or gratitude, perfection, frivolity) even when that is not the case. I know we all do it, and even in real time it's not easy to be vulnerable when you are vulnerable (or sad or down or lost).
Why am I saying this? Probably because my Thanksgiving was bitter-sweet, and I can't say I'm doing much better since. For me it's not unusual that wishes and hopes outpace reality during the holiday season, but I'm also dealing with a sadness that won't be shaken off any time soon. I know change and loss is part of life, but sometimes, and this is one of them, I don't know how to comfort myself. Enough said: I know my blog friends and visitors well enough to know that I am not alone in admitting that sometimes things go well, sometimes they don't.
Still, certain joyful aspects do not escape me as I head into the holidays. For example:

I love the way the light shines on my house.

I love having Mr. Ryan in my life.

I made an apple pie, and it was good.

JB and I made my mother's recipe for homemade raviolis, and they were awesome....

Topped of course with my Italian father's home made spaghetti sauce.

I'm grateful for my fruit basket.

And the fact that I know how to cook a turkey!

I have a lot to be grateful for. I know that.

Most of the time....

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Who Knows the Crow?

“he made friends with the crow and stayed with him for quite a long time... when he left, the crow missed him so much he didn't noticed that most of the sparkly things he had collected in his nest during his life were missing...”
You are reading the words of one of my favorite bloggers, Human Being, who lives in Iran. She inspired me to write the following poem, which I dedicate to her:
Who Knows the Crow
When was the last time you saw a crow fidget
Then squawk then rail against the oddity of the way things are,
Which in the eyes of the crow
Means that the clouds darken without warning
And the chill rises without care?

You might think you’re hearing irritation
Or exasperation
Perhaps even disgust
But when you notice the quickened pace
One leg to the other
You know it’s the dark and chill of common fear.

Sparkly things hidden in a needle nest
Falling in enough time
To be rescued if the mood was right.
But the mood is not right
So this coveted glitter falls below the fault line,
lost security from the one bright spot.

I saw a crow like this last week
Its sharp beak turning in all directions
Circle black eyes darting everywhere
Preparing for that which cannot be stopped,
For that for which you cannot prepare.

“Birdie,” I shouted. "Slow down. It’s just the wind.”
Did I hear a response? Did I hear an answer
Cloaked in pity?
Did I hear, “Person, you have no idea!”
“Yes I do,” I shouted. “I know.”
“No, no,” its body moving like wild fire, “you don’t know.”

The crow quickens its movements,
Clenches its webbed nails into the bark,
Instinctively holding on
Wings waiting for a force it cannot defeat.
Turning its head in perplexity
Unsure how its sparkly bounty broke free
Is this preparing to die?

It’s quiet now.
The wind has blown the roof two miles east
And tree branches litter the ground
Like railroad tracks splintered open.
I am walking these woods again
Perched to hear the crow’s surrender
Perched to clench my own webbed nails into the silvered bark
Steadying my grip, calling out
Seeking reassurance from beady eyes
And spent exhaustion.

“Person,” I hear “We were swept away.
It was not possible to hold on.”
“Oh my dear crow,” I said, “So where are we then?
Are we safe? Or are we too buried
Below the fault line?”
“The fault line?" each word sputtered hard and tough,
“No person,” the crow replies, “we are above it all.
We are flying free.
Our fear is gone.”

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Light Stays On!

Well, it's happening. Look at the cover!! This painting of my partner JB's Magic Cottage (her art studio in our back yard) was done by fellow blogger and friend, ValGal, who painted this specifically for my first book, and did so as a gift! I think it is one of the most beautiful book covers ever made!
In two days I will receive the final proof in book form. Once approved the book itself will be listed and available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com, as well as through me directly. I will post information about when and how to order as soon as the arrangements are officially in place. I am pretty confident of availability no later than December 10th. (Wink...wink: in time for Christmas). Anyone who wants an signed copy can either order from me or I will mail you a signed book plate to insert inside.
At the first of the year I will begin to contact bookstores and libraries and book reviewers and radio stations and....

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I can't do her justice, but I hope her spirit, courage and hope come shining through:
Your first observation is the fuck and the wit
Highlighted boldly, a quite perfect fit
For this woman who waxes and cleverly wanes
About family and futures and gentlemanly manes.
Not! Australian by birth,
Open by choice
She welcomes outrageous
In her tolerant voice.
Is her accent as cool as one might conclude?
I imagine she yells, but stops cold at rude.
She swears and complains and cynically chats
Yet a vulnerable kindness covers all that.
A writer she is, with a widely world view--
A pudgy white chick who knows what to do.
She polishes tales of corruption and rabbits,
About ClareBear and Dummerboy and various habits.
She’s Baino the brave
And she’s plotting her trip:
A stop in New England
Then Houston and zip
To the west coast and back
Cross the sea to the Royds.
Whatever she lacks
She’s too real to avoid.
A Shirley Bassey style
And a backside with plunge
She'll travel long miles
Through beauty and grunge.
She fashions herself
With a steady true hand
And welcomes you warmly
Into Ms. Baino-land!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And My 20,000 Visitor is....


How fitting that the irreverent, intriguing, irresistible and down under Baino is my 20,000 visitor. She is thereby entitled to an original kj poem of her choice. The subject/theme can be anything her heart desires, expect, Baino, please don't ask me to enter the medical or non-medical world of bodily functions. I'm simply too genteel for that.
Shall I rhyme? Or not?
Include favorite words?
Write about favorite people?
Or philosophize?
Or politicize?
Serious or silly?
I await instruction. It's up to Baino....

P.S. Studio Lolo, you made a valiant effort. :)

Monday, November 24, 2008


That's how many visitors I've had since I started my blog.
If you happen to be visitor # 20,000 I will write a poem of your choice for you. Any theme or topic you want
with the exception of bodily fluids.
I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Night Away

Just one night. Not much to pack, an hour or so west, dinner reservations, and no chores.
JB and I live in Western Massachusetts, but Stockbridge is western Western Massachusetts. Nestled in Berkshires, mountain tops everywhere, it is serenely beautiful. Although the Red Lion Inn is quite famous, we first stumbled across it last spring. Last weekend we made good on our plan to stay there overnight.
Here's the background on the Red Lion Inn:
Some time around 1773, Anna and Silas Bingham established a general store in Stockbridge on the road that connected Boston to Albany, which soon evolved as a stagecoach stop, tavern and Inn, under the sign of the red lion. Travel at the time was difficult and uncomfortable, and the Bingham's little tavern quickly became a popular and welcome rest stop for bruised and battered travelers.
The Red Lion Inn also became the center of village life, where people could gather, exchange pleasantries, discuss the issues of the day and relax at the end of the day. In the winter of 1786, Daniel Shays led a group of more than 100 local farmers and citizens in protest to burdensome post-war taxation. Stockbridge was chosen as its headquarters for what became known as "Shays Rebellion," and sentinels stood on guard and patrolled the streets. The Red Lion Inn's participation in these early events in the birth of the United States has earned it a place in the history books.
So welcome to Stockbridge, Massachusetts:

"You can get anything you want...at Alice's Restaurant." Do you know the tune?

Staying at the Red Lion Inn is stepping into history.

This is the fourth floor hallway where JB and I had a no frills room.

And ended the night with a great meal--me tilapia with a red pepper sauce and JB salmon with a green sauce I only know tasted great.

Not even twelve hours later, we checked out and headed for a day of back roads and small shops.
I returned home relaxed and care-free.
Totally worth the price of admission...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

People I Know: "H"

I was a Consultant where she worked for a couple of years. On my last day, she left a small stained glass jewelry box she had made for me and a card on my desk, just minutes before I headed out the door. The card said “I’d like us to be friends.” That was seven or eight years ago.
We met again quite unexpectedly two years later at a conference in Florida. She was with her best friend and I was with JB. The four of us had a grand time sunning and funning through the soft sand and warm nights.
We’re separated by a hundred miles and too little time. Still, “H” manages to sneak away every six months or so and for a couple of days we catch up and wind down. Other times we bring our families together, often in Provincetown, where her thirteen year old son and I rise early and along with our cameras watch the sun rise too.
She arrived last weekend with a bottle of wine and box of tea. It was on a hard day when I had just left a three year old little girl and her two year old brother. They had not seen their mother since they were taken from her two weeks ago for neglect, and they found comfort in my familiar voice and face. They held on to me and sobbed when I had to leave them. I won’t forget the sound of their sadness any time soon.
I was telling “H” about this and we got to talking about how few people anyone can really count on in life.
“How many for you?” I asked her.
"Not many at all,” She paused, “well, you,” she said. “I consider you someone I can count on,” Then she added, “But that wouldn’t be easy for me to do.”
“Me either,” I replied.
We smiled at each other. “You wouldn’t judge me, would you? I’d need to be sure of that,” she said.
“No, never,” I told her. “And I would need to be sure that you can keep a secret.”
“Definitely,” she said.
We both nodded. We smiled again.
Two friends established two rules:
--no judging
--no telling
And in that simple exchange, our confirmation and communication was sealed.
“We should try to see each other more often,” she said.
“Two times a year for sure,” I replied. “And three would be super.”
The next day I asked her, “Could I come for Thanksgiving dinner if I had no where else to go?”
“Of course,” she said.
Later, I cooked spaghetti and she had four helpings. I made note of that, because it reminded me there's an often unspoken third rule in friendship: notice the little things. That is something I don't want to forget.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Seven Things

The wonderful and ever-fascinating Miladysa has tagged me for the following meme:
Share 7 facts about yourself - some random, some weird.
Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs.
Seven things about me:
1. I can't keep my clothes neat and folded. I don't know why.
2. On a related note, I hate hangers. They attack me. Same with vacuum cleaners.
3. I welcome the chance to be kind.
4. But I strongly dislike being taken advantage of.
5. I lived in Germany for two years without heat or hot water. My then husband and I had a small stove in the living room and a water tank in the bathroom and we would have to build coal fires to get any warmth at all. I would lie in bed at night and look at my chattering breath in the darkness.
6. I was arrested at age 13 for breaking and entering. My father embarrassed me at the police station by asking if I could pick up leaves at City Hall for punishment.
7. I didn't have a date for my Senior Prom in high school and it just about killed me.
I'm not tagging anyone because this week I prefer voluntary participation. Volunteers: take your places please...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday Lite

A woman and a baby were in the doctor's examining room, waiting for the doctor to come in.
The doctor arrived, examined the baby, checked his weight and found it somewhat below normal.
The doctor asked if the baby was breast fed or bottle fed.
"Breast fed," the woman replied.
"Well, strip down to your waist," the doctor asked. She did. He pressed, kneaded, rolled, cupped,
and pinched both breasts in a detailed, rigorously thorough examination.
Motioning for her to get dressed he said, "No wonder this baby is under weight! You don't have any milk."
"I know," she said, "I'm his grandmother, but I'm glad I came."

Friday, November 07, 2008

An (Amazing) Update on Publishing a Book

I've been writing for a few years now. Several years ago I began by holing up in Provincetown for most of a summer, free of my paid job and mostly in the company of my dog. Every morning she and I would walk one block to the bay and stroll along the sand and seaweed. I was working on a book on happiness then--who is, who isn't, and why--and I was falling into one day after another writing, reading, walking and dreaming. It was a luxury I had never had before.
I found an agent for the happiness book, but a half dozen revisions of the book proposal later, I had to face that the subject was too dear to me to shop around without more experience. The agent wanted the book to be lighter--a kind of Loretta LaRoche "Ten Easy Steps"-- and that was not what I wanted.
I've spent the last two years writing often. This blog has been a total joy. I wrote a first draft novel through National Novel Writing Month, polished up the bones of a career book called "Good Work if You Can Get It," wrote dozens of poems inspired and supported by deep abiding love, finished a couple of short stories, and today--now--am preparing to publish and release my first novel: the story of Alex and Lily, titled "The Light Stays On."
It was naive and gutsy for me to decide to self publish. I just decided to take matters into my own hands. I knew that if I waited for a publisher to pick me up, it would take another 1-2 years for the book to hit the stands.
So I've started an entity called Chihuahua Press. That wasn't hard. I thought up a name, arranged for a separate bank account, and ordered a IBSN number--required for every book publication in every continent. I asked a few special people for endorsements, gratefully accepted feedback and suggestions, arranged for the page layout and cover design, and just this week--selected the printer and distributor. I've finished the budget: I will be investing $ 2000 of my own $$$ with the hope that I will break even within 3-6 months. I've had to learn how the publishing industry works--its margins and profits and markups and discounts. I've had to learn how one book travels from the printer to the seller to the buyer.
In less than a month, the book will be released--probably just after Thanksgiving. If all goes well, it will be available on-line through Amazon and Barnes & Noble,and can be ordered through any bookstore (or through me). To get it on the shelves of local bookstores and into libraries, I'm developing a marketing plan that includes public book readings, book signings, email blasts, a five city mini-tour, media interviews, canvassing of independent bookstores and specialty groups, contacting libraries, and a few dozen other steps.
I'll be sending copies to book reviewers and to the actress Jody Foster, who I think would play a great Lily in a movie version of "The Light Stays On."
Mostly, I'll be investing the time I have outside of my paid work to promote this, my first novel, as joyfully and fully as I can. And, like Lily, I'll be looking upward saying thank you, thank you, thank you.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Indescribable relief. Unbridled hope. Limitless pride.
That's how I feel this morning after watching the historic election of Barak Obama as President of these United States. Four years ago, when the uncurious and dogmatic George W. Bush won a second term, he smirking at the victory podium and saying, "Americans gave me political capital, and I intend to spend it,", I felt thoroughly confused and embarrassed and shocked and despondent. I have shrunk with shame that he represented my country and my neighbors.
Today I have watched the page turn with unprecedented speed. I don't expect miracles, but my faith in karmic redistribution has been restored.
I know there is strong Republican-Conservative concern, even anger, that President Obama and a Democratic congress will prove far too liberal. As a moderate liberal myself, I understand that concern. I support Welfare-to-Work. I'm in favor of fewer abortions and more alternatives. I oppose deficit spending. I know immigration has to be worked out in some way fair to the border states like Texas that bear the burdens.
And yet, this election is about so much more. Here's what conservative columnist Jeff Jacoby said in this morning's Boston Globe:
A turn in the wilderness will do Republicans good. During the GOP's years in power, the onetime party of fiscal sobriety and limited government turned into a gang of reckless spenders and government aggrandizers. Perhaps a few years in exile will lead Republicans back to their conservative, Reaganite roots.
But the most lustrous silver lining of all is the the racial one. As a politician and policymaker, Obama distresses me; his extreme liberalism is not what the nation needs. But as a symbol--a son of Africa poised to lead a majority-white nation that once enslaved Africans and treated their descendants with great cruelty--Obama's rise makes me proud of my country. The anthem of the Civil Rights Movement was "We Shall Overcome." Impossible as it might have seemed scant decades ago, we have.
Myself--I offer two remaining words on this remarkable morning: AMEN and YIPEE!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Alphabet Soup

Ever since I went to the poetry manuscript weekend almost a year ago, where I learned my poetry was, shall we say, "unfinished," and that rhyming was out of fashion, I haven't written poems the way I used to. Okay, there are probably other factors too, but in any case, here's a re-visited poem I thought then and still think is moderately clever. You may or may not agree:

Can’t Do

Could you?
I’m at the beginning:
Accept, Accelerate, Acquiesce,
and sprinting to the L’s,
Long, Loosen, Lighten up,
Onto to the T’s:
Trust, Turn in, Truncate,
Then to the final stop:
Zero. Zilch. Zenith.
I am plucking words,
Seeking sounds,
And mixing colors
To explain why oh why
You are there
And I am here
And the in-between
Is alphabetically and phonetically speaking
All Wrong.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Mr. Ryan Arrested

Mr. Ryan, age twenty one months and reportedly unemployed, was observed driving erratically yesterday morning in front of his home. He was charged with driving to endanger and resisting arrest. When approached, he immediately abandoned his Elmo pushcart and attempted to flee the scene of the crime, laughing and running faster and faster until he was forced to stop at the front door of his house. He was arrested while screaming "Mommy! Daddy!" and additionally charged with disturbing the peace.
Mr. Ryan was escorted to the local police station and placed in a holding playpen until his parents arrived. He pleaded 'not guilty' to all charges, indicating that the police officer failed to understand the priorities of a small child. He was released on bail and is scheduled to appear before Judge Cookie Monster on November 15th. If found guilty, Mr. Ryan may face sentencing of up to one week without his favorite cookies.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday 13

It's been a while since I've done a Thursday 13. Not much and everything is new these days.
1. Along with JB, I'm three months into the South Beach diet: no carbs, no sugar, all the meat I care to eat, too many eggs, and, finally, some fruit and whole wheat pasta and breads. I've lost 25 pounds and I have another 25 to go. That won't change the fact that I still limp abit from wounded knees, but it can't hurt.
2. This is where I live. Not exactly, since there are seven colleges within a twenty mile radius, but it doesn't take more than a thirty minute drive to be knee deep in rolling farmland. I've never lived in/near a rural area before, and I've become very fond of it.

3. You are looking at five heads of iceberg lettuce. Cut up, this became Chinese Chicken Salad which became lunch for the Art Fair.
4. The Story of Alex and Lily, officially titled The Light Stays On, is in its final preparations. The cover is being designed, the pages have been laid out, the introductions are completed, and somewhere around Thanksgiving the book will be published. I have taken on a much more formidable task than I anticipated: the marketing and distribution will be no small matter. But I'm going for it.
5. Where would you go for a few weeks if you could travel anywhere and do anything you wished in the wide world? I'd like suggestions.

6. Mr. Ryan's Mother broke her foot and cannot carry him. Not fair.

7. This is the book cover I first considered. That was until a friend of mine--you might just know her as the fantastic blogger ValGal--volunteered (yes, that's right: volunteered) to do an original painting specifically for my book. I've seen it. It is unbelievably awesome.
8. Speaking of Mr. Ryan and his mother, these are cupcakes from his baptism. WWJD--What Would Jesus Do?--on cupcakes....HA!

9. It's almost winter here. This morning my car windows were frosted over. I am not a fan of winter. Fortunately, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, starting with the smell of the turkey roasting by mid morning.
10. The economic crisis has wiped out more of my savings than I can even believe (35%). I'm not sure why I'm not totally upset by it; perhaps because hope floats.
11. A week ago JB and I spent a late night at the Mohegan Sun Casino. I brought $ 300 and hoped for the best. I played with the house's money for most of the night--up $ 200 or more--until I couldn't resist the dollar slot machines. I lost the $200 I was up, plus the $ 300 I had in a little under 45 minutes. JB was playing elsewhere so I snuck to the ATM and withdrew another $ 200 (she would have firmly stopped me). I deluded myself that I would win back my losses. But guess what? I did! I ended up even, which was fine with me.
12. Now three years into her forever home, Stella is one happy dog. She even talks and wiggles. She deserves cookies whenever she wants--even a little chicken sometimes.
13. FYI:This is my "office"--where I write and pay bills, think deep thoughts, and look out the window.
Have a good weekend!