Sunday, December 31, 2006


It's my favorite poem. I've posted it before. I just can't think of anything more fitting as a new year begins.

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

The Little Things: After Christmas Version

Sharon got me thinking about Christmas presents. I got some from friends, spread out over days before and after Christmas, some arriving by mail and some in baskets and across the dinner table, complete with happy smiles; some in my fantastic Christmas stocking, which is the highlight of the entire holiday, filled with little things opened one by one by one on Christmas morning: and some under-the-tree wrapped and larger gifts including a couple of sweaters, a camesol, jewelry, a dozen pair of much needed socks and underwear, and the plushiest most beautiful bathrobe I will ever have.

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.

From Jessica: two fabulous books that clearly reflect my interests and passions. I LOVE that this kid of mine knows me. I just love it.

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 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

Thursday 13: My Friend Ces

It doesn't get any more self-explanatory than this:

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

The Superficial Rascal

PLEASE NOTE! This is supposed to be a HUMOROUS post. However, it appears I've done a poor job of communicating that! So if you should happen to arrive at something other than humor between myself and the friend I am writing about, please let me assure you that is not the case. We were dear friends yesterday, we are dear friends today, and we will be dear friends tomorrow. With that said, I hope you enjoy this little incident and the comments and reactions it has engendered so far:

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?

But instead,

Me: Um, um, gee, stutter, stutter, wow. I don't know what to say. What you're referring to happened 35 years

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
Sneak through.

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. Go figure: this must be why we are good friends.....

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Memories

I want, perhaps even need, to find some time to write about the spirit of Christmas and what it means to me. I can't do much justice to this until the presents are wrapped and the cookies are baked and the groceries are finished. Still, in between the self imposed and elective hustles and bustles, I find memories of Christmas' past all around me. The ornaments on the tree. The scent of pine needles. The multiple red candles that are lit this long only at this time of year. The Christmas coffee cake that will be shared at 8 am on Christmas morning, along with bacon and cut up fresh honeydew melon and strawberries that look as festive as our anticipation. The menu planning. The special get togethers and the impromtu fun. The cards that arrive daily from family friends who make me smile just by seeing their handwriting.

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

A Message from the Blue Bonnet Diner

I'm having lunch at the Blue Bonnet Diner and the menu offers me a little wisdom for the day. Namely:

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!

Easy Does It

I like this meme. It comes from Maria with the following instructions:

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 This and Four That....

Following my holiday lament this morning I am now prepared to tackle a meme. My unfinished tags go all the way back to favorite books, but I'm skipping that in favor of "four things". Thank you Ces for pulling me along.

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

2. Africa

3. More of Italy

4. The Philippines (Ces!)

Four Websites I visit daily

1. Google

2. Yahoo Astrology

3. Is Blogger a website?

4. WebMD sometimes daily

I wonder what all this says about me? (Smile)


OK, this is a very quick post because I am already behind in my responsibilities today. But in my effort to represent myself and those I care about fairly and squarely, I am taking the initiative to report that the holidays are also stressful, demanding, confusing and overwhelming.

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

Thursday/Friday 13/15

Every year my family adds new ornaments to the Christmas tree. Most are traditional bulbs of all colors, some are reminders of wonderful people or memories, and others are, well, unusual or, well, odd. You'll see more of the last category today just because that's what I feel like.

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......

My friend Kim made this ornament and gave it to me along with one of her homemade pies.

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.

Yes, it's a pair of leopard sunglasses. Yes, it's the strangest ornament on the tree. Yes, we bought it ourselves.

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.

An ornament for Rosie. I miss her most this time of year.

Here's another ornament from the Coop. Taffy gave me this as a going away present when I moved from Provincetown.
I love coffee! Love it. jb put this in my Christmas stocking.

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

Still Untitled, but not permanently so

I'm back home after a challenging and tiring trip out of state: I am privileged to help a family in need and am willing to do this in a more intense way than is customary for me.

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
Sufficient fuel
For every second

In endless fields
Through special deals
I would protect
the balm that heals

Then, with zest and rest
I would attest
Through proclamation
You are the best

Thank you part 4

I'm back home, can't leave comments, and haven't the teckie smarts to find a solution. Hopefully I will. In the meantime, hello.

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

Holiday Presents: Part 3

I'm not appeasing.
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

Holiday Presents: Part 2

Time to acknowledge and thank more blog friends. Full disclosure requires that I tell you these four special people are also members of my Big Yellow writing group, but it is through the blogs that I've really come to know them. Read my prior post if you want some background in why I'm saying thank you. Otherwise:

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

Thursday 13: Holiday Presents

It's holiday time in the USA and elsewhere. I've decided to give one special present to everyone I care about. That present is RHYTHM. I will write about and distribute this gift as Christmas Day approaches, but today I have something to say about my blog-friends. Knowing and caring about "body-less" people is a unique experience for sure, but I'm here to say again that true-blue attachments can come from blogging.

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.

Coming Next:





Monday, December 04, 2006

More from the Heart

I hope my recent constant stream of poetry does not make for a disappointing read. I wrote this tonight in the Big Yellow writing group, inspired by the Rosie Angel that tops my Christmas tree, and because I'm feeling deeply these days.

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

Little Things in New England

Following Within and Without and Ces' sharing of their favorite keepsakes, I'v walked around my house looking for things that matter. Some have just appeared for the holidays, and others, like Dolly and Esther and Mildred, collect permanent dust. I"m not sure what any of this says about me, but here it is for what it's worth:

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.

Here are the Christmas trees on the livingroom mantle.

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.

Happy holidays.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Blogworld Road Pet Contest

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.