Monday, January 30, 2012

Gimme Shelter

It's been so long since I've posted my photos. I blame it on my electrical problems (that's another story.) So in the spirit of honoring all kinds of shelters, and with two obvious exceptions, here's a mishmash of places I've been and shelters I've seen. ♥

senior angel renee's new home

check out project pearls

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I Don't Care

Last night I accidentally hit 'publish' as I was beginning this post in edit mode. This morning I had several most loving emails checking in to be sure I was alright. I am.

This is a personal poem and it is after all a sad poem, But it's also one of my favorites and I think one of my best. I wrote it about three years ago, at the time of a very complicated relationship. I was reminded about this and that after reading "The History of Love," a novel gifted to me by a very dear friend. I was reminded that love in all its forms settles itself in the heart and the memories are pretty dodged about remaining, even when the circumstances warrant otherwise, even when denial and self protection take over.

This old poem is currently folded into the novel I am currently writing:

Casey opens her Waterman pen:

I Don’t Care

I don’t care if the distance spans the decades
And the patterns never form,
If I never understand the photos
Where we look straight into the camera
your arm hanging over my shoulder,
cradling my cracked smile,
The one I tried so hard
To keep it together
Even when the fragments flew.

I don’t care if the bluebirds turn around and
Head back to what was never home,
That place we began but never finished,
That corner where we tried to intersect
But instead fell apart
in just that broken moment
When I told you I would endure
And you told me that was worthless.

I don’t care that I am baking pies today,
My senses somersaulting from the memory
Of my mother’s hands,
Moving back and forth
Kneading back and forth,
Following a rhythm I never learned—
A rhythm I think about at midnight
When my dreams will not keep still.

I would watch her dice and slice
Those moments so skillfully
I did not know my childhood was over
Until the day I left home,
Until the day you left.
Until this day,
When all I can do
Is roll out the dough
And try to rise along with it,
Even when I know so well
I will clearly fall again.

I don’t care that I cannot maintain
Hope that cannot be sifted
In any form but by its splendid grief.
If I thought it was enough
To carry those ten wands to town,
Just to hold them and push forward,
I would do that.
I would open your garden gate
And ring your bell
And wait in place
Until the door opened
And there you were,
Scowling at my folly
To dare to come at all.

I would try to tell you
That somewhere so deep
I have never found my way,
That I believe there is a rising rhythm
That makes things right.
I would offer you my wands
And then I would put my arms
Behind my back, barely moving,
Clenching with a driving hope
That you would know that
I don’t care
Really means
I never learned
Not to.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Row Row Row Your Boat

attribution unknown (sorry)

row row row your boat

gently down the stream

merrily merrily merrily merrily

life is but a dream

This is a math question: what do you notice about this children's song, written in 1853?

Strictly speaking, based on simple math, here is the answer: You get four merrily's for every three row's.

Which is to say, four rewards for every three efforts.

Now what are the implications of such a simple message, one we so effortlessly sing to our children? And is this something I might consider and use as a construct for my own efforts?

For example, this week:

Row #1: It's been a bear of a week (no offense, rob-bear). I've been sick, a stubborn virus that's had me miss work, miss my writing group, miss pilates, miss everything. Plus, I have not just this one but three unexpected medical problems. No long term worries, but I feel sick and I feel vulnerable.

Row #2: Money's tight. Tighter than it has been.

Row #3: I have an incredibly hard job. I hear and see things that cause me pain: the first hand effects of poverty and culuration and neglect and abuse that have happened to adults when they were children and children who are still children.

Three row's and four merrily's:

Merrily # 1: I'm sick but nothing's life threatening and I don't live in an oppressive country like Iran. Surely these are merrily's.

Merrily # 2: JB has cut back her work hours but in doing so she will be able to spend welcomed and deserved time in her studio. I welcome the challenge of making money stretch. We're still better off than so many, and tight doesn't mean scarce.

Merrily #3: My clients have serious circumstances but I have seen changes and successes and effort and growth. Slowly, sometimes in the smallest ways with the smallest steps, but I've had a part in this and it feels great. And what I have learned is irreplaceable.


An extra # 4 merrily! A free merrily for my efforts. Now what might that be? Well, for starts, I get to be a writer. I get to write a novel and this blog and silly poems and heartfelt stories. You don't worry so much about being bored or alone when you are a writer or a painter or a photographer or a jeweler because you have something to keep you company and to bring you to timeless passion. That's a definite 'merrily', my fourth and free one.

You get 4 merrily's for every three row's. Worth remembering? I think so.

love kj

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On The Hills

This reminds me of a Bette Midler concert when she zipped on stage as a mermaid in an electric wheelchair. "I've always loved everything about the sea," she said. "Sea horses, seascapes, C minus."

Life happens on the hills. This is a new thought for me, but it makes sense. For someone who resists change and likes security, I don't live that way. Often, I take my chances. I've been noticing that many of my friends and fellow bloggers have chosen one word as a guidepost for the new year. Good words like Believe. Hope. Kindness. Today I thought about what my word would be and I drew a blank.

Blank. That's it! The truth is I have no idea what's ahead. I have some preferences: certainly I have a novel to finish writing and a family and children to love and care for, friends to enjoy and frolic with, a second home in Provincetown to reclaim, a garden to cultivate, a body to tend to. But I'm not looking for a road map and I don't enjoy endless flat highways. Blank sound good. Light. Unknown. Surprising.

Heck, why not? I have it on good word that the view from the hill is worth the climb. So I am herein this moment announcing that I kj am rejecting 'flat' and embracing 'blank.'

Come what may.

How about you?

love kj

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Emotional Bank Account

Has anyone ever asked you for a favor and you immediately feel resentful, as if they have a nerve even asking?

And yet someone else could ask you for the same favor and you don't hesitate. You might even feel privileged that they asked.

What's the difference?

In the first instance, someone is trying to make a withdrawal from your emotional bank account without having made sufficient deposits.

Not so for the second person.

Emotional deposits don't have to be numerous. One simple act, one word even, can represent a huge deposit. But when someone tries to withdraw and there are insufficient funds, that's when resentment takes over.

JB and I took our dog Stella for acupuncture for several years, often twice a month. The receptionist Jamie at the animal clinic was often not friendly. She did not greet us as if she knew us and she did not make it easy for me to hold on to Stella, who was ready to leave, while I was trying to write out a check. I just had this feeling she didn't care one way or another.

It's been one month since Stella died. Two days ago we received a small package from Jamie. In it was a clay paw print of Stella's elegant foot and includedthis note:

We cried. Jamie made a huge deposit to our emotional bank account. I will from now on view her differently, will make allowances for her personal style, will greet her warmly with with real affection. All this reaffirms my belief in the emotional bank account. Got to make some deposits at least some of the time. Otherwise, it doesn't balance. And sometimes one small act is so big a deposit that it allows a lot of slack for a long long time.

Love kj

Friday, January 20, 2012


She was one of my very first visitors when I started my blog five, maybe even six years ago. She and I have written together for as many years, and we have had group pajama parties here at # 9. This year we saw the moon and ocean at midnight in Provincetown, she still in her pajamas, and we've written sad stories in small journals in Vermont with a very special mutual friend.

Most likely we both understand more than we wish we did about things that cannot be understood. She's a good friend, a good person, a good mother, a terrific writer. And now she is going to Jamaica to serve.

I've missed Melissa's blog since she shut it down a good while back. But she's back. Please stop by and say hello and welcome, if you don't mind. You'll find her at I've absconded the illustration above from her first new blog post. That should tell you something about her.

HELLO MELISSA! WELCOME BACK!! i love circles that come around!

Love kj

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Animal Wednesday: Emily Rabbit Solicits kj

&&^%$#@@!** I received this letter from Emily today, who has not been heard from since she's been on the run for stealing avocados from the Carpinteria Avocado Festival:

dear kj,

HELP! it's me, emily. i need $ 132.32 immediately! if you don't send it i could get arrested again and i can't because i promised my friend anne in Indiana 10 dozen frozen avocados so she can throw them whenever she wants and plus i have to pay my fine to the Carpinteria police department and then i have to locate 120 avocados from someone who won't notice i took them so i can get them mailed to anne who i think already has a list of people she may want to bop.

i told her it is okay if she throws them at mean people and definitely she can aim them at any wall or garage door any time she thinks that's better than bopping someone even if they deserve it and maybe getting arrested when she really should just be relaxing on the couch.

i know you told me you are not going to give me any more bail money but this is for a good cause and it really isn't exactly for bail. the police chief said i wouldn't have to spend any time in jail if i just paid up and promised not to come back. i didn't tell him my friend lori lives in carpinteria and of course i will come back to see her of but i knew it was better to just smile and nod my head so i did and he said okay give me the money.

please wire the money right away, kj. if you need to, take up a collection for me and you can tell everyone who contributes that i will give them 1% of all the money my business manager jos and i will make selling frozen avocados and don't forget all the pits can be recycled so you get to throw them twice! the police chief in carpinteria said i am promoting violence but you know i'm not because the instructions that come with the avocados say you should only throw them at mean people.

i need you to send the money asap kj! don't forget i'm just a little rabbit and i need adult help sometimes.

love emily v. v. rabbit

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Two Places and One Small Problem

This is where I am this week....

My street...

And walkway....

and little space of a place....

and in contrast this is where I work....

in a struggling city with an above average crime rate....

with a neighborhood variety store offering not your run of the mill products and services (the sign is worth looking at).

I straddle different worlds and I appreciate all of it. Of course I'm thrilled to be here in the little coastal town of Provincetown relaxing and writing and enjoying time with JB, but I like my work and I like the farm and college town I live in most of the time and I love any time spent with my family and friends.

I wouldn't have a complaint in the world right now iffen my f'ing interim computer didn't decide to freeze up microsoft word on me (ah I'm writing a novel here, dammit!) AND to add insult to injury also prevent me from visiting and commenting on my favorite blogs. GGGGRRRRAAAAGH!

Sigh. I'll get over it. This too shall pass. :^) Here's wishing everyone a good weekend.

love kj

Friday, January 13, 2012

Photos From My Iphone

No my laptop isn't fixed yet and yes I've finally figured out how to transfer my cell phone photos to Picasa. Last night I began to learn how to have fun with picasa. Beware: I could get carried away with silly photos. But for now, hre is a retrospective from my phone, some dating back a year or more.

For starts, this week: It snowed. The flamingos in my yard found the whole thing pretty surprising.

The sky's been radiant.

Oh dear, Mr. Sushi! You are looking at the best California rolls anywhere in the world: Mr. Sushi in Boston Massachusetts. I order these, shrimp tempura rolls, and chicken terriaki rolls (nothing raw for me) and I groan and moan as I eat each one (as in orgasmic) . Maybe you'd prefer not to meet me for dinner :^)

Cupcakes into caterpillars: how clever! (discovered at a preschool graduation)

For two years, every Tuesday at 10 am, for fifty minutes, I sat here with my five and then six year old little client, under the stairwell, in front of the library, in an old school, this corner decorated by a creative librarian. Most schools I visit don't look like this. What a difference this kind of effort makes.

hahaha, Speaking of schools, this is the sign outside the nurse's office at a local high school .

Tonight I am going to transfer photos to picasa from my old canon powershot camera, not my new camera that isn't working any better than my laptop. I am 'cleaning house' abit because JB and I are in Provincetown for four days, which right now is an empty quiet gorgeous solitude of a town in mid winter. I have time!



Monday, January 09, 2012

The Cry of the Unattended

I started my weekly writing group last Monday and I decided I would in some part concentrate on rhyming poetry. I have a history about that: a few years ago I was accepted into a rather prestigious poetry conference (prestigious to me, anyway) and it did not go well, especially my poems that rhymed. Rhyming is apparently passe in the world of esteemed poetry. I left the conference with weakened confidence, even though on the last night I boldly read ONLY my 'passe' poems and I chuckled at the funny ones, along with everyone else.

Dr. Seuss and me. I'm not giving up.

The poem I wrote on Monday night is not funny, but it is hopeful. It was inspired by one of my clients who had a horrific horrific childhood. Sometimes I have to tell her I've heard enough: the details from her sociopathic mother are too hard to absorb sometimes.

Last week she insightfully told me, "kj, I would have had a normal life. It's not fair, I'm mentally ill but it's not my fault. I got robbed of being okay."

Many of my clients struggle with childhood trauma: abuse, neglect, abandonment. Some understand instantly and some look perplexed when I ask about their little girl, or little boy still inside them, the scared child who still hopes to be loved and cared for. We begin a process of mothering that child, of finding safe places, or providing parental care to one's self.

So this is some of this history of this here poem. xo

The child was ten
When she learned how to fend
Its’a story that’s ripe for the asking
She hid under her bed
Not a breath was then said
Til she knew that she knew about fasting

The tale started one June
With a darkening moon
In a house where whispers could shout
In her crib by the wall
With a murmur she’d call
Even then when the lights would go out.

Now don’t go to thinking
This child was sinking
Before she had learned how to speak
Because even at two
She knew who was who
And she knew that she knew how to seek

She was four when a marker
Made her coloring darker
And she learned how to read special signs
She knew when to hide, when to laugh, when to try
She learned how to fly
And she mastered genetic design

She’d lie under a tree,
Learning just how to be
Came as easy as eating a pear
She’d be white, she’d go black
Slide down a glass track
And in time She’d be here, she’d be there

When the child began
Her adult master plan
By then she expected the least
She had tried once or twice
To choose tough over nice
But she never could tame the old beast.

It would come in her dreams
A voice without seems
That hand that withheld what it could
She never gave up
Put her faith in a cup
Walked ahead as much as she could

The ghosts from back then
Wouldn’t budge in the end
She would holler and push them asunder
But they just kept returning
Her memories burning
Until on day she froze out the thunder

It’s a scared little girl
Who dances and twirls
It’s the child who parents her kin
She had learned how to give
How to hope, how to live
But not from the core of within

So one day she stood
On a terrace of wood
Raised her arms up high in the air
She murmured her name
Put aside all her shame
And she knew that she knew the right care.

love kj

A Monday Thirteen Mish Mash of Just Words

Hello from New England where the temperature is almost warm and there is no snow so far this winter, for which I am happy and grateful. My camera has not been fixed, nor my laptop, so I am left in the undesirable position of not being able to post my own photos. Thank you to my inspirational friends on Facebook: I unabashedly claim their choice of photos for my own.

So here is my random mish mash:

1. Was anyone else surprised that just about nobody kisses anybody on the lips except for their partners and children? Not best friends, not close neighbors, not comfortable coworkers. No one. Why is that? I know that when these two guys I didn't know every well kissed me on the lips I pulled back. But why would I be awkward with a kiss from someone I know, cherish, care about? Is it a DNA thing? I don't think it's just cultural. I'm still curious.

2. I did not expect to be so sad about losing my dog Stella. Not this sad. I won't upset you with the gory details, but I'm certain Stella sent word last week. I live on a dead end circle with only four houses. Strange cars rarely park here. But she brought a scene in front of our house, which JB and I bought witnessed, where a horrid man got out of his car and brutalized his dog and his dog looked like Stella. I walked to the window and scowled at him. I knew confronting him would make things worse. So during the time he and his dog 'walked' into the park next door, I took a three minute shower and decided I would go outside and tell him about losing my dog and tactfully offer to buy his. I decided I would spend money JB and I do not easily have. He was obviously cruel and angry and I hoped I could sway him with money. But the car was gone. The man could not have gotten back to his car and driven away in that amount of time. I watched him walk into the park and it was not possible. But Poof. Both JB and I were astounded.

3. What do I think? I know Stella would not upset me like that for no reason, and I was very upset. I'm haunted still that I did not save that dog. I think one of three things:

--Stella wanted us to know and to thank us for what we rescued her from

--Stella wants to be sure we give a good home to another dog who deserves nothing less;

--or: we traveled in time somehow and we saw Stella's prior life.

4. Chills. I'm not embarrassed to say I am convinced the guy and his car disappeared before it was logically physically possible.

5. Change of subject: I am resuming a one night a week writing group. I don't like that I'm no longer writing short stories and my silly-serious poems because my writing time is poured into my second novel. This is no small matter for me because I don't like trekking out on cold dark winter nights.

6. Likewise for my Pilate's training. I am stretching these muscles and they are loving it. But I am overweight and it is not easy, The instructor says I am strong but not flexible. I am trying to advance to at least look like a third grade ballerina. I want to move gracefully. I have a long way to go.

7. Mr. Ryan turns five years old this week. Five years ago I had very few children in my daily life. Now I have grandsons and little clients. I sit on the floor and play "chutes and ladders" and then it's an achievement to get myself upright. :^)

8. Every time I buy groceries at Trader Joe's I bring home at least one new product. Probably I have done this a hundred times and I have been disappointed only once. My favorite finds are Milton's multigrain bread, TJ's frozen french onion soup, and milk chocolate covered cherries.

9. I am not getting tougher as I get older. I am still getting softer and more vulnerable. But I am also understanding more about what I do and don't understand. And that affords me a certain lack of confusion.

10. I have published one novel and have four manuscripts unfinished in various forms. One is a career search how to; one is about the science and practice of happiness; and one is about the tails and tales of ms. emily rabbit. Plus the novel I am working on and will indeed finish and publish. I wonder what it will take for me to focus on all of these. I wonder if I ever will.

11. I love love love love love my iphone. Love it.

12. I don't know how it is that I still feel hopeful despite the total mess and dysfunction of the political world. But I do. I proportionately know so many more good people than bad. That has to count for something important.

and finally:

13. Where would you travel to if you could go anywhere in the world? I have four priorities: Italy, Africa, France, and China. Oh and probably Bali.

Here's wishing you a good week.

love kj

Saturday, January 07, 2012

On the lips

I'm curious: who and how many people do you kiss on the lips?

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

An Ode to Nutrition

This is a rerun. I hope it is fun. I'm actually done,

but I did eat a ton. Now I can't bend. The end.

Pass the cake
for heaven's sake!
I need a donut
This very moment!
Please please
Where's the cheese?

Who cares for lean?
I want ice cream!

I'm ready to bite
A mocha delight!

Muffins and candy
Come in quite handy

Salads and fruit
are yuk absolute!

Look! I see licorice
inside that cute dish!

No scale for today
Instead creme brulee

Vanilla icing?
Who cares about pricing?

Portions and diets?
Don't ask me to try it!

Sweets take their toll?
I'll have two eggrolls.

So what if I'm taking
three slices of bacon?

I'd tell you to chill
If my mouth wasn't filled

Yum! Whee! Give me more
til my stomach gets sore

Unhealthy? That's right!
But what a fun night!

Happy hollidaise?
Here's brownies to praise!
What's that? I look ill?
I'll take a chocolate pill!!

love kj

Monday, January 02, 2012

Kevin & Ginger

It really does feel like a new year. I know it's just a date on the calendar, but sometimes a clear start and a clean heart opens the front door to a new walkway. I do have some creative hopes (not goals, nope, not going to fall for that one!):

I hope I finish this book of mine this year. Finish to the point of having the writing done, the chapters ordered, the manuscript ready to be published.

I hope I work my tail off to entice a publisher to take a chance on said book.

I hope I finally pick up a pencil, begin to sketch whatever comes out of that pencil tip, jubilantly employ my colored pencils, and maybe even learn Adobe Illustrator.

I also hope the economy and stock market stops its wild unnerving ride and JB and I can be a bit more reckless about how and when we spend money.

Because we have lost Stella, JB and I were not in the mood to celebrate New Year's Eve. We had invited a few friends here to # 9 but we canceled; then at the last minute we changed our minds again and decided on a scaled down version of food and drink and guests.

The best surprises are the ones that arrive unplanned.

Our friend Liz arrived mid afternoon on Saturday. She is as close to a sister to me as anyone could be. I'm pretty sure she and I coined the term 'sisterfriends' and I have to laugh when I see it used elsewhere on the blogs. There is no need to plan ahead with Liz: she and JB and I just fall into an easy rhythm of doing whatever we do.

We frosted cupcakes and Liz told us all about her trip to China and we exchanged the best little presents and we poured drinks and ate cheese and cried about Stella and talked about work and life and summer vacations.

At nine pm my friends Marsha and Norm arrived with their friends Kevin and Ginger. We had planned a last minute potluck. JB made shrimp feta and chili cheese cornbread, Marsha make a mushroom quiche, Norm made a salad, I made Trader Joe hot appetizers and a chocolate cream pie.

I don't know how or why we all started laughing, but we never stopped. Not until 1:30 am. JB and I didn't know Kevin and Ginger beforehand but something magic happened to all of us that night. It was as though our laughter would push us into the new year in a healthy auspicious way. We each felt that. I feel it still.

There was so much uncertainty in 2011. Scarcity. Rigidity. Disagreement. Loss. Wars and political messes.

I don't have a clue what's ahead, but I have a feeling a correction is taking place, individually and collectively. I know it is not going to help me to look for answers and certainly not guarantees. What's my alternative? Well, I guess I am going to take things as they come. I am going to trust that I am a good person with good intentions and a good mind and I am going to trust myself. I am going to try to keep my feet directly under me, not leaning into the past or into the future. I am going to let myself feel and be excited and sad and light and deep.

I did not expect to laugh my way into 2012 with Kevin and Ginger and that turned out very fine. So I'm staying open for more Kevin and Gingers, and I'm falling into the safety of my family and Liz and Marsha and Norm and some other wonderful friends, you know who you are.

Oh well.....okay. That's what I'm doing. How about you?

love kj