Sunday, December 31, 2006
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Let 2007 be the year you fully become yourself.
Let 2007 be the year some steps are taken for peace.
Let 2007 be the year you laugh outloud, over and over again.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
But without question, it is the little things that meant the most and that I will remember. In some way or another, these are the gifts that create and honor the special connections we have with eachother--some large, some small--between the giver and the receiver, between family and friends and coworkers and neighbors.
As I'm prone to do, I wonder if this post will turn out to be a giant bore. With apologies in advance, if that is the case here are some of the 'little things' that made my Christmas presents so nice:
Hey, I can't tell you how or why this photo is both upside down and of poor quality. But since I am afraid of Blogger, it will stay as it is. Jessica gave me a CD of the entire first year of Grey's Anatomy. She is convinced I am missing a very important and wonderful experience by not being a fan of the show already. So one or several nights this winter, jb and I will watch this tv show from its start. Jessica thinks we'll be hooked by the time we finish.
This is an awesome present from jb. I can't wait to read it. I'm knee-deep in on-the-job training to become a writer and this book is just what I need. It's amazing how people who love me know about my needs almost instinctively. I hope I do the same for them sometimes.
A luggage tag! I am on airplanes more than occasionally and every time I am at the counter at the last minute frantically filling out the airline tag. Now I have my own plastic designer identification. Thank you, jb, for helping me simplify.
I love gifts like these. Both will find their way to our Sunday morning breakfast table here and there until they are gone. I always feel close to what really matters when I have local homemade food around me.
My son-in-law Mike put these in jb's stocking. He is now an official contributor of and important person in what has always been our heart-felt Christmas mornings and state-of the-art stuffed stockings.
We've noticed on walks that many people are afraid of Stella when they see her. Jess said her red collar added to the impression she is a tough dog. So Stella had a new collar under the tree. I've only been out with her twice since her fashion image was altered, but hmmm, people do seem friendlier......
Another poor quality shot, so let me tell you this is a bottle of vanilla extract from Williams and Sonoma. Jess left this in my stocking and I love it. It might be enough to get me baking for no reason.
The full effect of these postage stamps is lost because of my poor photo skills. This is from my fantastic friend and the incredible artist of this incredible painting, Ces, who has given me such joy and delight from the simple act of licking a stamp!
This gift is very special. It was given to me by a young woman and mother I am helping in her efforts to protect her six children and stablize her family. At the time I told her this would be my favorite gift of all this Christmas, and it is.
My friend Clara picked this up during her time in Palestine and filled it for me with two bracelets, one pin, and a pinky ring. Clara and her husband and one of my best friends, Mike, have spent the last 19 Christmas Eves with jb and me. We have traditions, and memories, and the silent steady comfort of a loving friendship.
This is not my gift. It was given to jb by Jessica, who was with us in an antique store when jb first saw these three maple boxes, piled one atop another. We passed them by at the time, but Jess remembered and went back and purchased them. They match the two 1950's maple chairs from my parents' cellar. jb and I are going to put our special photos and documents and mementos and letters in these boxes.
One of the nicest women in the world, a high school teacher whose teenage students adore her, rents our place in Provincetown and sent us this handmade card from Bali. This is someone I wish I could spend more time with. I don't know if it will or can happen, but I'm so glad to know her.
Oooh. Squeal. My beloved son-in-law slipped this major present into my stocking. It will cover at least three meals for two at my beloved Mr. Sushi in Brookline Mass. We order the same 3 non-raw sushi every time: California, Shrimp Tempura, and Chicken Terriaki Maki Rolls. Mr. Sushi is a common place with nothing that distinguishes it besides for the fact that the sushi is to die for. When we walk in, which is now barely once a month since we've moved from the Boston area, the waiter greets us warmly and then asks, "How is Jess-i-ka?" The place is as good as home.
Yesterday jb and I celebrated with our friend Liz. She gave us each this bracelet, which is engraved with words like 'Love" and "Humility" and "Goodness" and "Peace". The proceeds from the sale of these bracelets go to a local women's shelter. Liz smiled when she told us she bought one for herself also, "so the three of us would always be connected....like the Yaya Sisterhood".
Here's an early Christmas present to myself. I bought a brimming box of glass suncatchers at an auction for $10. It turned out there were well over 50 pieces of unique and wonderful glass. There were also a dozen colored glass little fish. I gave alot of the loot away but I hung these and other pieces in our front hallway. You can see them from outside and they have a nice glow to them.
To prove my point, hopefully, that the little things matter, here's how things look when they are not little, but instead muddled into a mess of a whole. THIS is not the Christmas I treasure. It is only when I separate what truly matters to me from the great material mess that is Christmas that the gifts themselves, and the love and care behind them, shine forth.
Thank you to the people who care about and love me. There is nothing--NOTHING--that matters more. I thank god and all the universe that I am wise enough to know that.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Here are a mere 13 out of 1,000,000,013 reasons why I love Ces:
1. Far and away her blog has the most interesting, intelligent and international visitors.
2. Who else uses words like polyglot, petrichor, and copacetic as if she were reciting a grocery list?
3. She knows she’s cute enough to post photos of herself. No doubt this alone has added to her fan base.
4. Recently she and I broke the record for continuous down-deep laughing. I can’t say how many minutes before we finally managed to stop to breathe, but if we had been at a church service or museum event, we would have been firmly escorted to the door.
5. Ces’ unabashing love for Em and M and Snowflake is a sure-fire heartwarmer every time.
6. Can you think of any one else who manages to leave equal doses of thoughtful, articulate, warm, and insightful comments on every blog she visits?
7. She is a definite imp.
8. She matches her wardrobe with her Fiestaware coffee cups.
9. She is the only person I often quite disagree with and yet intently listen to and am influenced by, all at the same time. (translation: I respect her a lot).
10. She’s the best friend. She listens, laughs, laments, loosens, livens, and loves with characteristic genuine passion. She’s at the top of my best-friend short list whether I need a soft shoulder, a deep laugh, or a fabulous story.
11. This woman is a great ARTIST. She paints with great skill and emotion wrapped around her observation and love for humanity. I have the “Lady with Pearl Necklace” hanging in my living room and every single person who enters the room comments on how wonderful it is. That she has painted me, jb, Francine, and then me again is a highlight im my life (honestly).
12. Those photographs she regularly shares are awesome!
13. When I’m in a mess,
Or feel like less,
If I can’t assess,
Or don’t know best,
And just can’t guess
Or take a rest,
When life’s a test
I must confess:
When I need the best
I can count on Ces.
It's all true.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Yesterday the following conversation took place with a good friend:
She: I've been thinking about a couple of things you've said recently. You really might be superficial. I think you probably are superficial. It's ok, I don't mind that you are superficial. In fact it makes it easier for me because I am superficial too.
I of course had free will to respond in any number of ways:
Me: What the hell are you talking about? or,
Me: Are you crazy? or,
Me: What's your fricking problem?
Me: Um, um, gee, stutter, stutter, wow. I don't know what to say. What you're referring to happened 35 years ago...Gee...well....wow....um...gee.
I have been called names and described many ways in my life. Among them: insensitive, impatient, careless, self indulgent, oblivious, mean spirited, thoughtless, impulsive, petty, obnoxious, demanding, intense, emotional, and dramatic. I'm sure there are another three dozen adjectives and two dozen adverbs that I have either overlooked or have been thought about me but not spoken outloud. But I have never ever been called superficial.
Following this exchange with my friend my feelings ranged from hurt to confused to shocked to bewildered to insecure to curious to stupified to defensive, and finally, to the following delightful response, sent via email this afternoon:
The Superficial Rascal
Ok, I admit it:
It’s only your talent and humor and well oiled oratory
That drew me in and
keeps me coming.
It’s only my boring fascination with mundane details
That grants me the patience
To hear about your 4th grade teachers
And your preference for little flying pigs.
It’s merely my missing pieces
That accepts and follows your opinions
On everything from entitlements
To Aristotle to every way the world works.
It’s my starved imagination
That greets your colors
With unbridled enthusiasm that could be real
But is probably just my pathetic boredom.
And, of course, it’s my shallow approach
To all people and things
That so lovingly adores cardboard
and so easily avoids anything with moving parts.
How fortunate I am
To live this linear life
Where I so skillfully sidestep
Everything except a few choice facts!
So it’s quite a wonder
That you put up with me
In my boring simplicity
And shallow pretenses.
I should warn you:
There have been times
When things that matter
I’ve made a choice or two
That moved beyond the surface.
Don’t you just hate that?
It's ok, I return quickly to flat again.
You paint. You write. You laugh.
You’re different. You’re smart.
I just love labels.
Just labels--me, your dearest superficial friend.
What? You care about me?
Hey! How can I support you?
What wasteful thoughts
When I can be my happy shallow self instead.
It takes some work, you know,
Sticking with surface illusion
And avoiding the appearance of depth.
But because it's you, I make the effort.
This should be the end of this story. But alas, my friend is too clever for that. She somehow manages the last word even when that honor is clearly mine. Afterall, I am the offended party. She has responded to my poem with one of her own. It arrived in my email messages two hours ago. Typical. You might have an interest in her poetic response, but no way am I including her poem in my post tonight! I'm just not going to. I refuse. It's pretty well written but forget it. I won't reward the superficiality she displayed in accusing me of being superficial. Or should I? If I should, why don't I? Is it because I'm superficial?
Oh geez. OK. Here's the damn response:
Well, we are perfect for each other.
We fit to a tee
You and me
Both superficial and carefree.
However, I am the more superficial.
My interest in you is merely borne out of curiosity
There is no depth and meaning
I am as fleeting as a bee.
I love labels.
I name everything.
You are that and I am this.
You fit there and I belong here.
I am only drawn to your poems
In the hope that someday you will be famous
Then I can say
I know her.
I am intrigued by your lifestyle.
I often wonder how the other half lives.
I wonder if you chew your food
Before you swallow.
I wonder if your underwear match,
If you coordinate your purse with your blouse
Or is it your skirt?
Or even your shirt?
It's only my shallow interest
In whether you light candles when you entertain
What kind of foods do you serve?
Or whether you eat organic food.
I feign interest when you talk about your expectant daughter
My concern is merely automatic due to my training
I really do not care and it is all in the surface
When I wish her luck and I pray for the best
It is the same with your mother
It is only her elegant and feisty charm
That attracts me to her
When I listen to every word she utters with tenderness
I am not capable of feeling
When you say J.B. loves you.
I never think for one moment it is worth a dime
When you tell me you love J.B. so.
It is all a show when I say I love you, softly, dearly.
And it is only indigestion when I feel the aching of missing you.
It is only gas when I feel the pain of wanting to see you
And it is only a dream that I think of you as my best friend.
Um...um....gee....stutter...stutter....wow. Go figure: this must be why we are good friends.....
Friday, December 22, 2006
It's so easy to recall every Christmas eve with Mike and Clara and Dani--how we give eachother all these little presents and then eat jb's chili and cornbread and reiminsce about our lives and friendship. And Jessica's face as we each open the one present of our choosing at midnight on Christmas eve, and again at precisely 7:45 am when we are all up and cannot contain our impatience to get to our stockings. And the stockings themselves: filled with all these little gifts that matter in some personal way or offer us a private laugh that only our special intimacy allows.
I'm surrounded by memories at the same time I create new ones. This year: my son-in-law continues to take his place in our hearts and on our sofa, sharing gifts and traditions; a baby boy who will introduce himself within the month; a new and enduring friendship that delights me with its laughter and love; a community I am finally calling home; a career that bumps and pushes me forward, insisting write, write. I fold these into my already precious life and I am left with amazement, even as I bitch and muddle through the stressfield that is Christmas.
I think it's really all about memories. Good memories and bad memories, past and present memories that may not fit into the wrapped box of "ideal" that is so humanly easy to wish for, but memories that none-the-less find your heart and take up permanent residence. The presents and the bustle are merely undercovers.
Here's the ending paragraph of Anna Quinlan's back page article in Newsweek this week. She says it better than anyone:
"The most enduring tales about Christmas are about recapturing those small moments, Scrooge and George Bailey on a guided tour of their own wonderful lives. But you don't really need the help of ghosts or angels. The truth is that once you've watched kids on a Christmas-morning high of ripping packages open, gloating over the contents for a nanosecond, and then moving thoughtlessly on to the next thing, you know that's not what they will ever take away from the day. You understand the power of that uncommon humdrum thing that glows in memory. That's what I would tell my younger self if I could go back. Find that. Worry about that. Make sure they have that.
The spirit of Christmas is a time machine.
Everything else is just plastic"
The little things? The little moments? They aren't little.
Merry Christmas with love.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
You're about to happily greet a friend. You say
Here I am!
There you are!
There's a world of difference between these two statements. It reminds me that I'm not a fan of people who are self absorbed. Count me out when a person only sees the world and other people in relation to her/himself.
This is good to get off my chest. I've been stewing about it for a couple of months.
Hey, there you are!
Grab the book closest to you.
Open to page 123 and go down to the fifth sentence.
Post the text of next 3 sentences on your blog.
Name the book and the author.
Tag three people.
They demonstrate the true relationship between inspiration and perspiration and that, as Thomas Edison once observed, creativity (or a calling) is 2 percent illumination and the rest love and discipline. We are each Ulysses, lashed to the mast and ravished by the Sirens' song, and we are also his crew, ears plugged for safekeeping, bent over our oars and surely wondering who is the more dereft, Ulysses for having to hear the song or ourselves for being unable to.
All artistic practices, says writer Bharati Mukherjee, are "satellite dishes for hearing the signals the soul sends out," and each art form individually offers unique contributions to the work of decerning calls.
So there it is. This is from a book called Callings: "Finding and Following an Authentic Life" by Gregg Levoy. It comes from a chapter entitled "The Portals of Art".
I am compelled to add my two cents that creativity is mandatory, not optional. It doesn't matter if your creative self paints or writes or plays music or tickles children or cuts out paper dolls, but it does matter that you allow your heart and head sufficient time to do what you love. If you don't, it's my belief that true happiness will evade you. And the research scientists bear me out on this one.
Hey, Maria, I liked this meme. Thank you.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Four jobs I've had:
1. U. S. Army Education Center Counselor: in Erlangen Germany. It was a dream job. I was a civilian counselor on a base with hundreds and hundreds of guys driving artillery tanks. Some needed high school diplomas or college courses, others needed to understand other races and cultures. Some needed to cry, others just needed an ear.
2. Spinal Cord Injury Resource Coordinator. It was a dream job. I got to write and publish a couple of resource directories, develop independent living centers and programs, and help individuals and families rebuild after a paralzying injury.
3. Benefit Concert/Charity Event Director with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It was a dream job. I got to coordinate a top orchestra performance, mingled with celebrities, and did a good deed all at once.
4. Writer: this is my newest incarnation, after years of owning and running my own counseling and consultant business. So far I have published nothing and earned nothing. BUT: it is a dream job.
Four places I've lived:
1. Herzogenaurach, Germany
2. Norman Oklahoma
3. Newton/Boston Massachusetts
4. Provincetown/Cape Cod, MA
Four favorite foods:
1. Enchiladas verde
2. Pizza, Pizza, Pizza
3. Maki Sushi (california rolls, shrimp tempura rolls, chicken terriaki rolls only at Mr. Sushi in Brookline MA)
4. One juicy cheeseburger per summer
Four Movies I could Watch Over and Over
I really don't have four: I go to movies hit and miss. I like independent and foreign films best and I don't like violent guy or shallow chick flicks at all. Brokeback Mountain made me cry, Harold and Maude is my most memorable, and a little film called Winged Migration, showing birds in their natural habitant and filmed by a dozen pilots over several years, is the most awe-some. The last movie I saw was a DVD of Crash, and it made me very sad.
Four TV shows I enjoy:
1. I LOVED Sex and the City
2. American Idol (I admit it)
3. CNN 10 o'clock news (I don't know why but I'm a news junkie)
4. and my very favorite, LOST !
Four Places I've Traveled:
1. Alot of Europe
2. the California coast
3. Several islands (Puerto Rico, St. John, Turks and Caicos)
4. New Orleans during the saddest time....
Four Places I'd like to Visit
1. Bejing China
3. More of Italy
4. The Philippines (Ces!)
Four Websites I visit daily
2. Yahoo Astrology
3. Is Blogger a website?
4. WebMD sometimes daily
I wonder what all this says about me? (Smile)
I hope you may find some comfort in knowing I am and much of the world is stressed because of the holidays. Then perhaps you can feel better about your own state of affairs:
I have not finished shopping. I am going to have to go to the MALL afterall and go to not one but two stores there. The crowds will stomp on me.
On Christmas eve day I have to be in two places and 200 miles later be back home in time to prepare and enjoy our traditional Christmas eve dinner with good friends.
Last night Stella pulled a muscle in her leg and yelped so painfully in the middle of the night even my lack of sleep didn't matter.
I promised a couple of important people I would bake something for them. It's looking like I will schedule this for 4 am Thursday night. Or midnight tonight perhaps.
I haven't made any of the presents I wanted to. Not one. I may pull off one or two, maybe. Possibly. Hopefully.
I could go on but it's too depressing to see all this in writing. HOWEVER, I am now going immediately to my Christmas tree to see if my sense of humor is still nicely packaged under the tree. I will open it and tonight, who knows, I may have my thin invinceability and thick good nature nicely back in place.
In any case, my opinion is that the holidays rock, but they also roll.....
Friday, December 15, 2006
I made this ornament when Jess was 3. We pulled out our paints and glitter and went at it. At the time I thought it was quite an artistic achievement on my part. No matter than jb and Jess' came out better than mine....
These are not really ornaments but they are jb's little reindeer from her childhood. Yes, one is missing its nose and the other its ear. So what. Except I admit Jessica thinks they are both gross. She hides them so she doesn't have to look at them.
This is a delicate Santa ornament. It was a gift from a friend who I cannot remember. So much for sentimentality....
This little stuffed panda bear is accompanied by an inkind lobster, teddy bear and kitty cat. When these ornaments fall, nothing breaks.
Our good friend Clara gave us this ornament for Christmas one year. It is a circle for world peace. It's one of my favorites.
One year I bought this ornament along with a CD called "Christmas on the Western Plains". The twangy instrumental holiday songs are my top favorites. I listen to them while I decorate and wrap presents. I never have enough time for all this but Christmas on the Western Plains slows me down nicely
jb lived in Maine for 5 years. Thus, one of her friends gave her this potato ornament. Maine is a big producer of potatoes. But only in Maine would anyone think of making a potato ornament . I tolerate it......
We have a few of these wooden stick Santas. There were a present from someone but I don't remember who. I think there was a time in my life when I did not treasure ornaments the way I do now--thus I was careless in remembering where they came from. No longer.
Here's a favorite. Bruce, a members of the Provincetown Artisian Cooperative, made these one year. They sold like hotcakes. The body is made from a clothes pin and the well endowed breasts from cotton balls. This picture does not do his creativity or fashion sense the justice either deserves.
Here's the gestalt of it all. This year we were blesssed with a well shaped tree that fit in its space. It knows to lean to the left instead of the right if it must lean at all. (Ces, that's for you...)
Happy Holidays, Friends!
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Maybe it's because I'm so tired, or maybe it's the holidays, or maybe I am sorely aware of my limitations, but I've written this poem because I can't be in two places and spaces at one time. I wish I could. Sometimes all I can do is hope that the people I love know that when/if it's crunch time, I'll run through fire to be there, I'll always and forever give a full 100% of what I have to give, and I'll be as playful and loyal as anyone could be. x0x0
If there were two of me,
Or maybe three
I would hug you
I would climb quite high
Into the sky
Where I would jump
At every try
If I could soar
Through every door
I would implore
that less be more
Through it all
I’d catch your fall
And with a wink
Watch you stand tall
If distance beckoned
I would reckon
For every second
In endless fields
Through special deals
I would protect
the balm that heals
Then, with zest and rest
I would attest
You are the best
It's Thursday 13, but I'm in no mood to tackle this. Perhaps I will alittle later. For now, I have more blog friends to thank:
Ruby and Jessie My blessings follow you both more often than you will ever know. I love your honesty, your courage, your willingness to show up every day and strive for the best you and life can be. I see you both as blossoming artists and writers. Your words and observations are helpful to so many other people.
Leo I am new to your blog and enjoy reading about your writing challenges and observations about life. I like that you are socially conscious and sensitive to other people.
Ms. Val Your Thursday 13 signs are awesome! You strike me as a courageous person, Val, putting one foot in front of another to honor and protect your family. I'm not into shopping or bargains but I admire your tenancious enthusiasm.
Rramone Willie Baronet is one of the coolest artists you will find on the blogs. With simple strokes of the pen he hits the bullseye and speaks the truth. Whenever he adds a splash of color, which is only occasionally, I squeal.
Sidney Your photographs can move mountains and change the world. That you care to capture the poorest and bravest among us makes you a bonafide hero in my book.
Hildegarde, Pieterbie, and Weinieke I'm new to your blogs too but am very glad to have met you through Ces. You each have a dignity I bow to.
Sharon and Caroline I don't visit often but I wish you well and appreciate the chance to cross the ocean. I am happy that in so many ways you support all that is good and wonderful about Ces.
I wonder who I have overlooked. I hope my effort to acknowledge the many blogging gifts I receive has not resulted in exclusion. That is certainly not my intent.
Happy Holidays and thank you.....
Monday, December 11, 2006
I just want to wish you
A terrific season.
I hope life is pleasing
for no special reason...
More thanks to a few special people:
Liz I always love your blog! You write the best dialogue and you find humor in the silliest topics. Then you add photographs. I find myself sometimes chuckling, other times laughing from the floor.
Valgalart What can I say? You are a fantastic artist. Your soft pastels and warm houses never fail to remind me that all is right in the world. Someday I hope to meet you at Angelina's in Paris over a cup of African hot chocolate.
Menchie You and Maria convey such sincerity that you have endeared yourselves to me very quickly. I love how sweet and responsive you are to other bloggers. I love that you are good friends. I love that you live in the Philippines. I love that you love your family.
Maria First, you have to reread what I said to Menchie because with the exception of where you live, all of it applies to you too. I always look forward to your photographs and I delight in seeing the world from your eyes. I love your integrity and enthusiasm.
Carla I usually visit your blog as a secret admirer. Early on I could tell you are a sage and a master teacher. I am in awe of your talent, your love of poetry, and your constructive, always positive comments about the work of other bloggers.
By the way, I will be gallavanting for the next couple of days. It has been a secret fantasy of mine to open my blog and find a dozen or more comments all at once! Root for me on this one if you'd be so kind: it's just a little fantasy by a sweet blog fan. (smile, smile)
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Popscholar I first heard about blogs from you, and I think yours was the first blog I ever read. Then and now, your blog is witty, gutsy, honest, and hysterical. Your humor and writing is sometimes so outrageous I sit in my little writing room, shake my head, and laugh outloud. And A, I think we've become friends. I admire how successfully you struggle to understand what is real and why.
Kris You are the kindest person. I love to read your supportive and thoughtful comments to other bloggers and I find myself hoping I can be like you when and where it counts. I love hearing your stories about teaching --sometimes you are the teacher and other times you are the student. In either role, you are so genuine and, well, kind. I admire you and always look forward to connecting with you.
Nicole: I've loved getting to know you. For me your blog is a mix of learning about your day-to-day life, about knitting, and about your quiet courage and determination to live the life that comes at you. I love that your descriptions, even of sad events, are just so simple and graceful. I am really glad to have the chance to get to know you through our writing groups too. I remember your first story about france and a bicycle.
Melissa If you don't know already, I hope I'm a long term friend! Your blog always reminds me of the precious importance of family, of the little things, of courage, and of confusion--all mixed together and shared honestly by a very decent and good person--you. It is incredible to witness your "unveiling" as a playwright.
And your love of dogs--well--we both understand that only too well. When I visit your blog I am almost always uplifted.
More thank yous will be coming. By the way, this is a very very pleasant thing to do. I recommend it if you'd like to give yourself a little gift for the holidays. Say 'thank you' publicly to the people who matter.
Oh yes, my favorite holiday songs....
I play Christmas and Holiday songs to slow me down and keep me in a calmer place while i'm moving from one holiday chore to another. I love listening to this once-a-year music. I can't tell you what artists I like over another, but here are my clear favorite songs:
1. Come all Ye Faithful (My memories of catholic midnight mass)
2. O Holy Night (ditto: Life feels very sacred when I hear this)
3. The Little Drummer Boy
4. Ode to Joy
5. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Judy Garland only)
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
So this season, I want to acknowledge the blog friendships that I've been fortunate to have and thank some people individually. Specifically: Popscholar, Melissa, Kris, Nicole, Ces, Andrea, Cherrypie, Within Without, Liz, Jessie, Ruby, Valgalart, Ms. Val, Menchie, Maria, Leo, Carla, and Rramone. And I want to thank Hildegarde, Sidney and Pieterbie from Ces' blog because their blogs and comments bring me such pleasure. There are a few other people I may have omitted or will add by the time I'm done, but here's my plan:
I'm going to write about a few people each day. I want you to know why I like you so much. So here's the first installment:
Ces Is there a more intelligent, articulate, humorous, kind, observant, controversially unafraid, talented, and always interesting person than Ces? The honesty and laughter that comes out of her blog is my gold standard. When anybody tells me internet/blog relationships aren’t real, I think of my friend Ces.
Cherrypie I am personally grateful that unapologetic sex and other hot topics are part of my daily read. Cherrypie is unabashingly honest, vulnerable, sassy and cool. She is someone I want to hang out with. She is also the real deal and a real doll.
Within Without What can I say?—I love the guy. He misses the point sometimes and he is definitely a guy, but WW is earnest, sweet and above board. When he writes about his kids, and about love, it’s obvious what a good person he is. Anyone would be fortunate to count him as a friend. Someday I hope to have a drink with him.
Andrea—in Vancouver BI lives a professional artist named Andrea who works her craft and crafts her work. I fell in love with her art right away. But over time I have come to realize how much I wish Andrea were my next door neighbor. I think she is a lot like me. We are both struggling optimists.
Monday, December 04, 2006
What’s To Know
Rosie girl, tell me about heaven.
I expect you to greet me, you know,
Your soft stub of a tail wagging so effortlessly
that I will see you even in the back row,
and even in the faraway barley fields,
Your enthusiasm rocked by the flow
of something never lost,
Something never handed over.
Tell me what I should know about living
So I can get it right.
Tell me if abundance is real,
and if it is,
Tell me I can turn in my leash for a dance card
and stroll and roll through the back woods
knowing that every sacred scent is in place.
Tell me, Rosie, that it is enough to try.
Enough to care, enough to prepare,
Enough to get it right simply because
it’s all right.
I’m unable to know these things myself
but I trust you, Rosie. I know you know
what matters most
and what matters not at all.
Can you tell me about hearts?
Mine is pretty deep these days,
but still I wonder how far hearts can stretch
especially in the moments when they work overtime.
I wonder if perhaps a heart does not break
But maybe snaps instead,
a little fragment breaking off so it can rest somewhere in isolation
where certain memories and longings cannot be harmed.
Sometimes I wonder if I am up to the task
of letting every broken fragment finds its resting place--
Even if it means I can’t be whole.
Tell me Rosie, do I have to be whole,
if given the chance for love to stretch me
so far beyond my safe walls
that I forget I am confused and instead
feel only gratitude and greatness?
Rosie girl, I will spend my days
asking questions like this
and letting the answers and clues
Guide me home.
And Rosie girl, I will run straight to you
even before your ears shoot up
For our hearts’ reunion of a lifetime.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
I apologize for the poor quality of this photo. The original painting is breathtaking. I treasure it. The artist is my friend.
jb and I boughthis painting by Robert Cardinal in Provincetown on lay-away. We mailed him $ 100 a month until it was paid off. Robert told me the sky stayed this color at sunrise for less than 45 seconds. He only had time to mix his paints. In our house, the color changes all day depending on the level of light in the livingroom.
This angel was a gift from jb's sister Cindy and tops our Christmas tree every year. She is in honor of our springer spaniel, Rosie, who was such a special dog I won't even try to describe her.
These two stoned fired rabbits were a gift to me from jb for our 10th anniversary. They always make me happy. If you look closer, you will also see a photo of Jessica and Rosie. It's true that Rosie is wearing a fashionable straw hat.
3. Our tree was brought in today and tonight I put the lights on, as I've done for 25 years. And, as you can see, only half the lights are working as of this writing. This is also the way it's beenfor 25 years: never once have the Christmas tree lights all worked at the same time.
I bought this oak bureau on my birthday when I was quite alone in the world and visiting a client deep into back farm roads. The bureau was sitting in the front yard of a farmhouse with a for sale sign on it. I bought it for $ 60, somehow fit it into my car, and spent the rest of the day happy that I was giving myself a nice birthday.
I took this shot too soon. There are now an additional half dozen more santas, some vintage, some hokey, some strange. The shot to the left is of two of my favorite possessions: first, the handmade clock my then-husband and I paid $ 60 for--payable not in money but in sugar, cigarettes, and whiskey; and to its left, the painting my parents had in their diningroom my whole life, until I took it from them for my own selfish enjoyment.
This is Esther and her daughter Mildred. Esther gave out Halloween candy this year. She has been in the family for 15 years or more, always taking up room on the couch. Sometimes our friends and guests sit on her by mistake and we immediately have to ask them to move and then check to be sure Esther is alright. One day jb brought Mildred home without consulting Esther. It was not a happy scene.
You won't find me baking many cakes, but I love to bake around the Holidays. This cake was whipped together with the help of Duncan Hines Extra dark chocolate cake and Betty Crocker creamy white frosting. My personal theory is that even cake mixes stir up the best of memories.
This is Dolly. She's around all year, but Christmas is her favorite holiday. Her ribbon can change depending on the occasion.
OK, so you might have wondered if I were strange. Now you know I am. And I haven't even introduced you to the rubber lizards in the back yard, or to Emily Rabbit, who gets in and out trouble all the time.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
My name is Stella. I am not going to try to sway Ces the contest judge by saying that I am a miracle in the making. I'm also not going to say that although I am about 7 years old, I had never been free to roam or been a pet in a family until 7 months ago, when I was adopted by kj and jb, who cut up little pieces of chicken for me, give me body massages, and bought me an orthopedic bed for my spondylosis. I'm also not going to say that I have gone from a dog who found a corner to hide in to a playful girl who takes walks, eats cookies, and sniffs the world at large.
I have very few faults. I admit my tail knocks over wine glasses when I walk. And I beg for chicken. And I prefer to be in bed by 9 pm. And I am a messy eater. But other than that, I am a perfect dog. I don't bark or jump, I will greet you at the door with great enthusiasm. And I try very hard to be affectionate.
I don't look back, have no regrets, don't complain, and never say a bad word about anyone. I have beautiful fingernails. I don't mind if you want to snuggle with me. Seven months ago I was in a shelter wondering what would become of me. Today I spend my days wagging my tail.
I have been told to say I think I should win the Pet contest on guts alone.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
I can tell you what I don't love in just a few words: i hate shopping at malls, I hate packing and mailing all the presents that must go to Colorado Springs and Seattle and Tucson. I hate that I fight the clock to find any semblance of rhythm and slowing down. I hate that the world is so violent. I hate that any child wakes up on Christmas morning without loving parents and presents under a tree.
Here's my holiday list. I hope I get everything I need.
1. Baby Ryan: I hope you come into the world perfect in every way. I know your parents will feel love they cannot even imagine as soon as they see and smell you. I am planning breakfast menus of m & m's and ice cream for when you are older.
2. I hope a publisher picks up this novel I have just finished and I am paid a sufficient advance so I can get it written to an A or A- level within 3-4 months.
3. I hope Ces and I do more words and colors together.
4. Godess Santa: could you help me figure out the role of money in our lives? I know we're not waiting for some far away future to live our lives and live generously but can I really believe in abundance? And do I need to supplement my writing with a day job?
5. I hope jb shines the nightlight in the magic cottage exactly the way she wants to and I will be lucky enough to see and swoon over her fantastic artwork.
6. May I (finally) decide if the tough-love approach of my book agent is good for me or move on and out to someone else who understands I am more delicate than meets the eye.
7. Sign me up for a photography course.
8. I pray the Iraqi people are given the support they need to rebuild their country and live in peace, after my country destroyed their homeland for all the wrong reasons.
9. Please transport me to Weight Watchers and Pilates and get me in shape for once and for all. In my heart, I am too cute to be anything but.
10. Protect my family and friends from anyone and anything that does not help them prosper.
11. I hope for a personal shopper who will stack my closet with the coolest most fashionable clothes.
12. Godess Santa: I would also like someone nearby who can play the guitar so I can host an occasional sing a-long in my living room.
13. I want a flow, a rhythm, a guiding force that helps me live without so many jolts and jagged edges. I don't expect this all the time but I'll be thankful for a little predictable rhythm that governs my days.
And how about you? I'd love to see your holiday list. The singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter says,
"It's too much to expect, but it's not too much to ask"
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
This kind of intensity has happened once before in the last 20 years. Before then, when I was single and searching, and once when I was almost married and mystified, I knew what was happening solely from the hole in my stomach, and sometimes it was even deeper than that. It’s a feeling like no other: a big gapping hole pulsating with forbidden hope, complete with arousal spikes that both excite and shock. It’s being so pre-occupied that you can barely and hardly keep yourself and steady in your present life, and when it really spirals you have to brace yourself—hold on to something, even an arm chair-- to stop the obsessive rereading or retelling or rehearing of the smallest details. It’s exciting beyond words. It’s falling in love.
And here's an ending or two:
1) Somehow I am now linked with someone so different from me that the most entrenched parts of myself have agreed to stretch in every improbable way. I do this for love. I should feel constricted and frustrated, except I have been gently planted on holy and expansive ground. From here on I'll be longing and alone, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
2) James had opened a window and let the fresh air pour in. I left her in his care, a good and kind man devoted to his family. I boarded a plane back home knowing that I would love her, and maybe him, for the rest of my life.
Part 2: 10 Things I Would Never Do
I'm another advocate of "Never say Never". With that in mind, here's my list:
I would never:
1. Betray another person for my own benefit
2. Wear shoes and socks that don't match my clothing
3. Under appreciate the wisdom of the Godess or God in designing procreation (smile)
4. Keep money that didn't belong to me
5. Stop writing
6. Stop reading
7. Stop loving
8. Learn to fly an airplane
9. Become bitter
10. Boycott the Dixie Chicks (double smile)
Monday, November 27, 2006
I’d like to be funny tonight.
I’d like to sit in my favorite chair,
Across from you, grinning
And tell you stories
That start with glee and end with awesome.
I’d like to lean over and
Touch your knee
So you know I am present
As surely as I sit before you.
I’d like to know how you feel
On vacation and at work
And on Sunday mornings
When you read the New York Times.
I’d like to watch your mind
Dance down the street of curiosity
And stop at the curb
Where that lucky penny finds you.
I’ll listen to your stories
Into the night,
Even of the time you eloped
Only to find your mistake
Under the Las Vegas sheets
My eyes will follow you
Into the doorways and along the pathways
And I will nod with empathy
And the commonality of approval.
I can do all these things
As sincerely as I breathe
Because I was given this gift
Long long ago.
I’d like you to know
I keep secrets and honor wishes,
Even the dark ones,
And even when I’m bribed.
So when you slip on your coat
to take your leave
I’d like to think
We both heard you well.
But because there are two of us,
Listening only goes so far.
I too must reveal
my footprints in the squeaky sand.
Tell you who I am? That is harder.
I can tell you why.
It starts with a fact that startles me still:
I can tell you everything
But I will not know
if you see me strong and clear
Or dazed and fragile.
I’ve been apologizing for both and either
Most of my life
And that is a confused place
Not found on any map.
Here’s how it goes:
If you tell me I am strong and confident
I will tell you back--
No, please know I am sensitive,
I cry and fold in two
When I have no back door
And if you tell me I am sensitive
I will be speechless,
Apologizing for a weak defense
And readying to watch you walk away.
It’s not that I don’t know myself:
I cry over love
And when dogs whimper,
And nobody would say I was unkind.
I take to the streets
When integrity’s at stake
And I hide under the bed
When I bite my lower lip
In anticipation of a harsh word or deed.
I am confident and sensitive.
Strong and insecure.
Wise and weak.
Tall and small.
That’s what it is.
That’s all it is.
I cannot tell you why this fact
Decks me until I finally
Relax for the count
Or rise for the occasion.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
I'm posting this poem for Ces, but I think it reflects friendships in Blogland that are both genuine and awesome. I have given up trying to explain to non-bloggers and/or family members how and why I count certain people I haven't physically met among my friends, but I am pretty sure my fellow bloggers will understand completely.
And, by the way, I am not naming the names of the people who I place in the category of friend but I hope you know who you are. I hope I'm your friend too............
Colors and Words
No hand at the elbow
Should the shakes come round.
No face or place.
No fashion. No fad.
No coffee. No wine.
No movie line.
Just colors and words
Finding their way
Through some connection
too hard to say.
No history. No blood.
No travels. No mud.
No workspace. No church
No neighbors. No search.
No shopping. No munch.
No face-to-face hunch.
No beat to the punch.
Not even a lunch.
Just colors and words
A painting, a poem
A friendship, a home.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
jb's best friend and room mate for 10 years, mother to a great 17 year old high school senior,
a fine professional photographer, a healthy 53 year old woman, went to bed Saturday night and died in her sleep. This has been a difficult sad week. I've returned home very aware of unfinished business in the form of hopes, dreams, aspirations and practical matters.
God knows I prefer that this blog be uplifting and humorous. No humorous today: my Thanksgiving post is based on how quickly and unexpectedly things can change. I'm taking the opportunity to offer my very own advice about thanks-giving.
If the shoe fits and the wind blows in any or all of these, please considering moving quickly. Move Quickly. It's the little putting-offs that causes big regrets.
1. Make the Call
I have 3 people I think about often. And yet, sometimes months and years go by and I do nothing. This Thanksgiving I will make the call.
2. Write a Love Letter
It's a lost art. And it's a keep sake. Sit down and in your own way say "I love you" in bold letters. And then address an envelope mail it.
I've made two apologies this year (both rebuffed--happy endings aren't sure things but the effort still counts). I owe one more. Throw pride in the waste basket. Life's too short.
4. Say Thanks
Mom, thanks for the way you brought me up. jb, thanks for supporting me while I write. Gary, thanks for pulling me out of all those jams. I have a hundred 'thank yous' due. I'm starting today, one by one.
5. Take a walk
It's a beautiful world out there. I snub nature at my own peril. How dare I get so immersed in my petty chores and endless responsibilities that I bypass the comfort and beauty of the natural order of things.
Let those memories wrap their arms around you. Cry, honor, feel, visualize the people and events that have shaped you. Let your memories breathe.
7. Pull your documents together
Wills, bills, insurance policies, IRA's: make it easy just in case your best friend jb is
going through your papers and files, stunned and heartbroken, trying to put your affairs in order.
8. Be impeccable with your words
This comes from The Four Agreements. Don't lie. Don't hide. Mean what you say. Keep your promises. Don't be sloppy with what you say and how you say it.
We human beings need a minimum of 8 hugs a day to be happy and healthy. Make sure you get your quota. And make sure that's also true for the people around you.
10. Count Your Stars
I dated a guy who did this all the time: he'd look up and count every star he had going for him. One by one. I learned this habit from him. It's a good one.
11. Tell Jokes
Lighten up and remember what it's like to laugh deep. And out loud.
12. Be Conscious
Since I'm alive and upright, I owe it to myself to keep my my five senses sharp. Keep your eyes and ears and heart wide open, all the time.
13. Never Cut What Can Be Untied
I try to live by this principle. Remember it and you'll avoid alot of problems.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, FRIENDS
Saturday, November 18, 2006
So in that spirit, begging your indulgence, here's an excerpt from The Low Road by Marge Piercy. It's self explanatory:
Two people can keep each other sane, can give support, conviction,love, massage, hope, sex. Three people are a delegation,a committee, a wedge. With four you can play bridge and start an organization. With six you can rent a whole house, eat pie for dinner with no seconds, and hold a fund raising party. A dozen make a demonstration. A hundred fill a hall. A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter; ten thousand, power and your own paper; a hundred thousand, your own media; ten million, your own country. It goes on one at a time. It starts when you care to act. It starts when you do it again, after they said no, it starts when you say
We and know who you mean, and each day, you mean one more.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
1. Mike: I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. For always :-)
2. I apologize for rushing the upcoming holiday season. But this is a tribute to my beloved dog Rosie, via the springer spaniel who sits atop this tree with angel wings.
3 & 4. And speaking of beloved dogs, here are a couple of shots of Stella. In the last 7 months. I have learned about healing. I've seen with my own eyes how the power of love can tranform and remake even the most painful of lives.
4. This is the a view of Provincetown Harbor. I've walked this beach a thousand times, sometimes planning and plotting my future, sometimes remembering my past, and most often staying smack in the present moment, feeling my bare feet in the wet sand and the loving ocean breeze on my grateful face.
6. It's an easy walk from the back door to jb's Magic Cottage. This tiny space is insulated, heated, and welcoming of jb's artwork--these days collages made from found objects and put onto old house windows
7. I like this shot of our front yard light. I leave it on late into the night because I know my neighbor gets comfort from it.
8. OK, my patience is spent. Last winter the city plow destroyed our new fence, which we @@#!! painted by hand and after several reviews denied our claim. Since I hate injustice, I'm on the warpath on this one. I will be devoting time I don't have to straightening this out. And I may lose my temper. OK, I already have....
9. Some events change lives. I came back from two weeks as a Red Cross Volunteer in New Orleans a changed person. I learned about courage and about service. I will never forget.
11. This group of folks is affectionately referred to as the Big Yellow. This November, we wrote together, sang together, and shared a magical weekend together. I owe each of them a huge debt for their support and interest in the writer I am becoming.