Saturday, July 28, 2007


I remember when I first heard "Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris" . I was in college and saw the play at the Charles Street Playhouse in Boston. It may have been the first real stage production I'd seen, and I came away with a love for the theatre that I will carry forever.
These were the days of Viet Nam and the American 60's belief that caring and effort could and would change the war, the warriors, the world. It's not as easy to carry that hope and optimism these days, but I've recently realized that the core of what I believed then I still believe now. I've always been sensitive about being labeled "touchy-feely" or "liberal" or "naive". I don't like labels in general and the implication that I may not be a thoughtful, knowledgable, logical person irked me then and it irks me now. Today, however, I have grown into my self and my beliefs. I don't need anyone to agree with me, but I stand behind myself and how I see things with conviction and clarity.
So, about Jacques Brel: I left the Charles Theatre that night long ago and one song stood out like a giant. I've never forgotten it. It was about love. Everything I've thought about and felt and accepted and been affected by in this last year has been about love--deep love--so when I recently read the words to the following song from Jacques Brel I realized this is STILL what I believe.
I share the words to this song with you this weekend because, like me, you may find, know, hope, believe, and/or pray that love really can change everything. And if it can change everything, it can change it for the better.
So when I think of what "for the better" would look like, I see and hear this song:
If we only have love
Then tomorrow will dawn
And the days of our years
Will rise on that morn
If we only have love
To embrace without fears
We will kiss with our eyes
We will sleep without tears
If we only have love
With our arms open wide
Then the young and the old
Will stand at our side
If we only have love
Love that's falling like rain
Then the parched desert earth
Will grow green again
If we only have love
For the hymn that we shout
For the song that we sing
Then we'll have a way out
If we only have love
We can reach those in pain
We can heal all our wounds
We can use our own names
If we only have love
We can melt all the guns
And then give the new world
To our daughters and sons
If we only have love
Then Jerusalem stands
And then death has no shadow
There are no foreign lands
If we only have love
We will never bow down
We'll be tall as the pines
Neither heroes nor clowns
If we only have love
Then we'll only be men
And we'll drink from the Grail
To be born once again...

Then with nothing at all
But the little we are
We'll have conquered all time
All space, the sun, and the stars.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday 13: Summer Mish Mash

1. What could be more colorful than picking up and plotting out the annuals that will be planted in the yard? These made it to the ground more than a month ago, but it was so much fun to look at them all lined up, like our very own garden center.

2. Here's the front of the garden, with all its potential just beginning. This was taken more than a month ago also. Now it's fuller and messier.

3. Ms. Stella, relaxed, into cookies and chicken, and a pretty fine companion for all circumstances.

4. Do you recognize the artist? This gem is taken from Ces' painting of JB and me. Imagine the good fortune to have such a talented friend?

5. These are my grandparents. My father never knew his mother because she died when he was very young. I remember my grandfather, who lived next door, as a nice man with gruff hands. He was a mason and when I knew him he was making cement birdbaths for the whole neighborhood. (Anon: see, birds run in my family....)

6. I'm proud of this. This is the shade garden in the front of the house. I kept it simple and with little modesty I can say it came out great.

7. Columbine from the garden--a magical plant.

8. I have shifted from writing per se to marketing my writing per se. I am trying to be organized about it, each week holding myself to certain preparations and submissions. It's funny how my mind tells me not to expect much and my heart doesn't dare hope at all. Never-the-less, I am not going to let negative thinking or fear stop me. So until further notice I am submitting.

9. After two years of back and forth with my agent, I am for the first time on my own shopping my writing. I am used to setting up businesses and marketing but this is something else again. See # 8 for my current status.

10. Tonight I joined two of my friends at a horse fair. They prepared appetizers for a group of horse and carriage riders. Then we were able to drive into the fairgrounds where i saw the most stunning, handsome, musularly trim horses. I haven't ridden since I was a teenager, and I was always a scardy cat on a horse, but man, are they beautiful creatures. I'd like a relationship with a horse...

11. When JB is away for work for a night or two, I tend to be messier in the house. I wonder how I would keep my surroundings if I were alone? It's good to have another person for motivation in things like this.

12. I am spending my weekend with a six month old doll for the first time in 29 and 1/2 years. I don't quite know what to expect, but I think it will be all good.

13. In mid August, jb and I are having an art fair in our yard. We asked our friends and neighbors if they join in the fun of selling, buying, or just showing. So far we have someone making wooden birdhouses, knitted scarves, quilts, decoupaged watering cans (JB), art calendars (my good friend with the first initial of "C"), homemade soaps and jams, antique salt shakers with fresh flowers in them, oil paintings, kid's art, tarot card readings (yours truly), hair and nail design, instant carnival-type photos, and I'm sure other interesting offerings. Then we are throwing a backyard party into the night.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


It's taken me quite a while to respond to the 5 questions Jessie so kindly asked of me. I should have known that she, a thoughtful, creative, insightful, kind, and soulful blogger, would ask tough questions that are hard to fake. I'm also not such a good faker these days--for better or worse, I'm more myself than ever.

So here goes:

1. Describe what you consider to be the perfect writing environment (real or imagined).

It's just me and my dog in a simple beachhouse on Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket or some island like that. The beach is right in front of me and I can feel and smell the ocean air any time I want. I have an unlimited supply of cigarettes and white wine, which I consume all day into the night. I write each morning and each late afternoon. In between, I might walk the beach, sketch, or read a book. I am drinking and smoking whenever and where ever. Around dinner time I hear a voice or respond to a knock on the door and it's poet Mary Oliver or writer Natalie Goldberg, who happen to live down the beach. We drink and smoke together before and after a light dinner of cheese and fruit with sesame crackers and Peet's Italian Roast coffee.

Wow. Here's the truth: long ago I read about a woman who started her life over, out of necessity, by holing up as I have described. It struck me then as an opportunity for unleashed romantic literary freedom and I still have that idea in my head--even though I know, for me, drinking and smoking can't be akin to good writing. Not to mention I would be miserable without access to the people I so dearly love. (P.S. I stopped drinking and smoking 18 years ago and I would be in a fine and predictable mess if I went anywhere near this fantasy.)

2. If you could have a getaway home anywhere in the world, where would it be and what would it look like?

Easy question: it would either be an oceanfront simple beachhouse with large windows and white driftwood walls, probably in Provincetown on Cape Cod, perhaps in Sarasota or some other coastal area I'm not aware of yet; or it would be an apartment in Montmartre in Paris. Either place would be simple and uncluttered. It would have ample books, Ces' artwork on the walls, and a small sweet kitchen with an interesting window scene. The space would be cozy. It could easily be a one room studio with a pull out couch.

3. What is your writing process like?

I'm kind of schizophrenic unless I'm strict about a schedule and stick to a certain project. In any given week, I'm writing poems, short stories, revisions for my self help book, re-reading the first draft of the NaNo novel, and putting posts on my blog. I usually write late at night or early mornings because I'm one of these people who likes to work before I play. I have daily doses of telephone talking with my best friend which could be distracting but instead is inspiring. These days I am am writing as freely and randomly as ever, but I am holding myself to preparing and mailing 5 queries or submissions a week. After a year of free form writing, it's time to take steps to get published. That's not true for everyone who writes, but it's important to me.

I don't really know what I'm going to write before or while I write. It just spills out, and I let it. I tend to go back and strengthen the words--the verbs especially--at least once, sometimes twice, before I finish. I sometimes start with an idea: for example, I'm writing a story about the loving special friendship between Casey and Izzy--two characters I just adore--and I know I want to write about Izzy's distain for mental health (which happens to be Casey's occupation). I will just write and let them provide the dialogue and guide the story, which they will do with non-stop chatter and tender humor.

4. In what way has your dog, Stella, changed your life the most?

Well, I should start by saying I am a dog person and my dog Rosie, who died at 14 three years ago, was the love of my life. When we got Stella, she was so fearful and withdrawn, even though she did everything she could to be obedient. JB and I were on pins and needles trying to help her relax until we had a one hour phonecall with a dog communicator (aka dog "psychic") who "spoke" to Stella and told us to lighten up and stop talking about her abusive past. During that call, Stella also "asked" for more chicken. Laugh if you want but after that call, all three of us had remarkably changed.

I did not expect to love or respond to Stella the way I did with Rosie because Stella asked for and expected so little. That was a year ago. Today is a very different story. She comes into my study, turns her sweet head just slightly, and says "Will you come and sit with me while I eat my cookie?"

This is a long winded way of saying that I love Stella with every fiber. I am a kind and caring person with her, I factor in her needs, I massage her as long as she wants, I take her with me as often as possible, and before my eyes I see how love has healed her. This has contributed to the way I try to live, which is based on a deep abiding love for the people and creatures I care so much about, a kind and non-judgemental acceptance and caring of anyone I connect with, and yes, of course, more vulnerability than I've ever experienced. Please note: I'm not complaining. I wouldn't change a thing. Also please note: I am not the saint this makes me sound like. :)

5. You have just been commissioned to create a very large mural on the side of an important building, that, in some way, tells the story of your life. Without worrying about your level of talent, what visions come to mind?

Oh jeez, Jessie! Well:

I would have people of various races and backgrounds, some alone, some in groups of two or three--some crying, some embracing, others raising their arms upward, some defending, some protecting, some reaching out, some doing creative meaningful work, some sharing, some teaching, some hugging animals, and one or two with faces that totally show how love transforms. And I would have my Mother and Father, JB and Jessica, Mike and Ryan, Ces, Moose, and Willa standing underneath all the light that could ever be.
P.S. If anyone wants five questions from me, I will happily oblige. You just have to say so.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


This is an unabashed mother and daughter love story. Today is Jess' birthday.
Every life has its defining moments--events and circumstances that change you forever. I've had my share, but nothing--nothing--has affected the person I am, the life I've led, and the way I love more than this words-cannot-describe daughter of mine.
She is feisty, tenderhearted, confident, and smart. When she was 4, her nursery school teacher chuckled when she told me she would be a handful to keep up with, and she is. She is also accepting of all people, quick to size up any situation, witty and funny in ways that have you rolling on the floor, and incredibly competent. I trust her with my life. I would do just about anything for her.

With Mike and Ryan now woven tightly into the tapestry that is our family--and surrounded by fantastic friends (yes, Janna, I mean you), Jess' life is rich and colorful and vibrant and honest. She will contribute to this world.

I love her....


Happy Birthday, Mommy. I'm so glad I got you.......Love, Ryan


I wish I could photograph the birds in my back yard like Anonymous and Melissa can. I know jb and i share the space with wrens and baby wrens, robins, bluejays, a pair of doves?, one small yellow bird, and at least one magnificent yellow, black and orange bird who visits infrequently.
But I cannot take photographs because I do not know how to make my camera do what I want it to do. I can't master the close-ups. So instead, here's what I can do: meet the birdhouses at #9. Three presently have bird families in them. The last two weeks the babies are having flying lessons: these little birds bouncing inches at a time on their two feet at the top of my fence and flying from the birdhouse to the nearby tree branch and back. And chirping up a storm.

This is the summer of my beginning bird education. I am watching them, loving them, and learning about them. Except I know so little. I am therefore asking the following questions and/or offering the following observations and hope that Anon, Melissa, Hildegarde, and anyone else who knows birds can fill me in:

1. Birds look like they are nervous all the time. Their heads never stop darting from one side to another,
I presume to spot predators. Do they ever relax?

2. How do birds sleep? Upright? Do they ever lie down?

3. What's going on in those birdhouses? In 90 degree temperatures, how come the inhabitants don't get too hot in there?

4. How are babies trained to fly and eat and survive, and how long before they're on their own?

5. Do non-domestic birds ever bond with humans?

6. Does one family of birds stick together for life?

7. Do birds mix /befriend/hang out with other species of birds?

8. How much and how far do birds fly? I know it varies, but how about some rough ideas?

9. What else do I want to know?

And speaking of birds and families and wings and roots, here's my own little bird of the decade. Mr. Ryan is now 6 months old

Monday, July 16, 2007


A recent always well written and always insightful post from one of my favorite bloggers, Skinny Little Blonde, converged with tonight's Big Yellow writing prompt and the result is a poem yet again about the power of love and the challenges that the triplets of time, place and circumstance can present.


How far is too far?
Sometimes, after midnight,
I stretch my fingers so they extend like perfect pencils
And I try to imagine that in the act of drawing lines and circles
I can span the distance and straighten fate
Like red hot steel,
So that it curves around your driveway
Instead of around our destinies.
I’m not complaining, you know.
How lucky can a person be to
Live with a heart that deepens and expands
Through this connection that
Despite every outage and short circuit
Sparks its way into distant light
And guides and replenishes
The little chair by the door.
I will never complain.
I learn to wait.
It’s a winding train
On its way to fate.
There will be times when fate vacations
And so will we.
There will be times when we forget altogether
And pass the sugar only to chuckle
That we’ve forgotten that even with extra wooden slats
there’s not a kitchen table in the universe
that can extend that far.
And there will be a time, or two, when the phone rings
Probably before sunrise
And as the receiver lies flat
One of us is on a plane,
Not to rejoice but to rejoin.
When my daughter was little
I thought about the end of the world
And I wondered if I could reach her
In time.
Or I wondered who I would race to
If there were only seconds before the desert island
Closed shut.

I didn’t know then that I would ask these questions
For all of my life.
I didn’t know then that
I will one day close my eyes,
And so will you,
And hope that in that moment
We have one last riotous laugh.

I didn’t know that loving you,
Or anybody of great importance,
For that matter,
Meant that life would then be lived
In a certain absentia.
Not less full or wonderous,
Not less engaged or enigmatic
But a little like the melancholy
Of a dark sky missing one star.
It’s only one star,
One among thousands,
But in the great scheme of things.
It’s a black hole with neon flashes.
We own this sky.
It’s me and you
Finding our way.
It’s me and you and everything.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I was stung by 2 or 3 wasps today, while I was hammering a picture hook on the outside of the Magic Cottage, just before I noticed there were 50 or so agitiated pissed off wasps to the upper left of my head:

Then I tried persistently to drill a screw into a shaky Adirondack chair and when it wouldn't go in, I tried to pull the screw out and I white-hot burned my forefinger and thumb because the screw was hotter than anything else I've ever touched before:

And tonight at dinner I absentmindedly stuck the tip of my steak knife into my finger.

My right wrist and arm have been red and swollen and painfully stiff all day:

My burned skin is still white and blistering:

My finger bled for a short while and has a small puncture wound.

By the way, today was a really nice day. I puttered, hung, weeded, mulched, food shopped, stopped at the farm stand, write, made a few calls including a publishing prospect, AND hightailed it to pool for a late afternoon hour or more.

I only wish my arm had swelled up more--at least enough to equal the amount of discomfort I've had--so I could generate more sympathy as a dramatic and pathetic victim of violent crime.


A Park Bench Tribute

Summertime, and the living is easy.....

Most days my dog Stella and I complete our mile and a quarter walk through the park, around the lake, among the ducks, beneath the towering pines, and in between signs of nature and new life everywhere.

We usually take a small break, where I sit at one of the benches placed here and there, sometimes to allow me to write or sketch, and sometimes to catch my breath and just relax.

Each of the benches has a small gold plaque on it, dedicated to someone by someone. This week I sat at the benches of:

Sophie Yankowski
May 15, 1910--November 2, 1990
John Kneisl 1909-2000
Astrid R. Kneisl 1919-1994
It wasn't long before I found myself talking to Sophie:

Who were you, Sophie Yankowski? With that name, you might have been Barbra Streisand's aunt in Funny Girl. Were you Polish? Jewish? You were born under the sign of Scorpio--did you forgive but never forget? Were you a Yankee baseball fan? Did you cook Sunday dinners for your family? Corn beef and cabbage? Pot Roast? Was it hard that you died just before Thanksgiving--did you hold out as long as you could or were you ready to go? Did you have grandchildren, favorites? Do you know your bench overlooks a small lake that glitters like glass on a sun-filled day?
And John and Astrid:
Did you give that corny advice about wooden nickels all the time, John? Did your children roll their eyes? Were you still cracking jokes at 91? Were you home, or in a nursing home? Did you know hard times before you found peace? Did you find peace? How did you meet Astrid, John? Did you love her right away? She was your wife, right?
And Astrid, what did your kitchen look like? Did you cover your furniture? Were you the quiet voice behind John's chatter? Did you attend college, with a smart name like Astrid? Who loved you so much they made sure you and John had this bench, perfectly situated under such a beautiful tree just in front of the fountain?
There was a time when I just didn't understand that old people and dead people were once young and alive people. Somewhere along the line they've become less flat cardboard and more three-dimensional. So sometimes I come across photographs of people who've died a hundred years ago and I ask these same questions. I ask them because I know their lives were rich and vibrant like my own. I'm glad I know this.
I ask these questions and smile at the possible answers because I know I will die someday and someone will have loved me enough to put my name on a park bench, or affectionately retell the story of my grandson calling me "NoName" because it was the best I could come up with at the time.
It's a precious life. There's no better time than now to know that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Tools for LIFE

OK, then, I have more to add to the previous post:

It's been fun reading about individual vacation tools. Now how about identifying the tools that you use in your day-to-day life?

What do you carry with you in your daily toolbox?

Are they the tools you want and need to live the life you want and need?

Do they help and support you?

Are you carrying some that are no longer needed?

Is there a light weight alternative?

Are they sufficiently versatile to handle most situations?

Is your tool box sufficiently equipped so you have what you need for fun, work, spiritual growth, hard times, special moments, family, friendships?

So what ARE your life tools? (I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours...)

Monday, July 09, 2007


I wrote this last summer and posted it last year. Today as I am preparing to send it to a few magazines for their consideration, here it is again on my blog.

How about you? What are the tools of your vacation?

Vacation Tools
One two inch white candle
2 black pilot pens
An unopened travel sized set of Winsor and Newton water colours
Two different sized water color sketch books
A little packet of incense
Fancy matches
A new bathing suit
15 year old spa quality flip-flops
2 books on writing: William Kinsser’s ”On Writing Well”; Julia Cameron’s “The Right to Write”
2 books by Margaret Wheatley: Turning to One Another and A Simpler Way
1 best seller: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
1 pound of Italian Roast Coffee
A digital camera
An unopened calligraphy set
My in-process book proposal and a sample of someone else’s
My laptop computer

These are the tools of my vacation.

I’m currently staring across the street at a dozen or so mammoth pine trees, their stature reduced only slightly by the orange background and icy glimmer of dusk awash on Sebago Lake. JB and I are here through the kind offer of friends: one week in their just refurbished condo-house in Windham, Maine. There are two quaint lakeside houses between us and the water, but they fit nicely into the larger picture of a gorgeous lake just across the street, surrounded by gorgeous pines.

We arrived last night ready to unwind. I am hobbling with a fragile back these days but despite that I managed to pack my vacation toolbox with how I want to spend my time.

Years ago, a colleague introduced me to the idea of tools and toolboxes. He happily described as his work tools as a car, calculator, map, and cigarettes, He was a self employed counselor who saw people in their homes. That’s when I first started thinking about my own tools. At the time, mine were an umbrella (I like having a plan B), appointment book with phone numbers, also a calculator, car, and maps. (I too was a counselor who saw people in their homes). I also threw in my three “C’s”—caring, creativity and competence--because I’ve always believed that combination is what makes me and anybody else extra good at their work.

I’ve since eliminated maps and umbrellas and added a notepad and pen, books on writing, a cell phone, and fruit when I travel, My appointment book and calculator are still high on my list.

I like the idea of specialized toolboxes. A few years ago I trained Insurance Specialists and included a presentation where I handed out pictures of a toolbox and together we filled it with the skills and tools they needed for their jobs. It was an easy concept and well received. I think that’s because there’s not a situation or circumstance in life where tools of some kind or another are either necessary or helpful to have around.

It took me less than an hour to pack my vacation toolbox. This is one time that I decide who I want to be and pack accordingly. I’ve been fairly consistent over the years: always the candle, watercolors I only use once or twice a year, a generous supply of books I may or may not read. Sometimes I’ve packed interesting ideas or projects that have languished in the regular course of life, but that is not necessary this summer.

JB has packed her own tools: books on collage, art paper and materials, a scrapbook, a small vinyl 60-‘s flowered note book with little compartments for filing papers, her new nano ipod. And today we’ve added our version of “food tools”: 4 chocolate macaroons and 2 two pound lobsters.

My fix-it toolbox at home is overstocked with a wide assortment of hammers and picture hooks and wrenches and screwdrivers. Likewise, my vacation toolbox is also overstocked with more than I need or could ever get to in the 7 days we are here. But there’s a comfort in knowing how I am caring for myself. I like that I have packed choices that encourage my mind to let go and move out of the way so I can spontaneously dabble and play.

Planning in advance like this is not something I normally do. Usually I follow the demands and opportunities of daily life, doing my best to carve in personal time, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But when I’m vacationing, I am able to pause, step back, and see all the stress I’ve been lugging around-- and that weight doesn’t disappear just because the chores of life are temporarily suspended. It takes me a good week to untie that knot: when I’ve been lucky enough to have two weeks of uninterrupted vacation, the second week is often sheer joy.

Vacations allow me to change the rhythm of time, more to my own liking and to my own pace. But that doesn’t happen all at once.

It’s the end of our first day and I’d say JB and I are doing pretty well: we’ve swum 2 times in the little lake a footpath away. We’ve bought our favorite foods for the week, we shared a double lobster roll at a cozy little café, we gallivanted by car a little along Route 302, and we took our sweet shelter dog Stella for three walks, all three of us still thrilled that yesterday, despite her advancing age, injured spine, and/or lack of experience, she mastered stairs for the first time.

Tonight we had our two pound lobsters for dinner. Now I am writing, JB is reading, Stella is sleeping. Cheryl Wheeler is singing a song about New England in the background. We know that we will wake up tomorrow morning whenever we want, forego our underwear (all week!) for bathing suits, eat cinnamon bread and low fat yogurt with fresh fruit and granola for breakfast out on the deck, poke around this three-street little lakeside community where Stella can prance off her leash, and most likely have our first swim by 10 am. If this sounds stress-free, of course it is. But it also isn’t, not yet.

It takes my mind a little time to let go. As that happens, thankfully, I will become more anchored in the present moment, less connected to the past, and less worried about the future. Virginia Woolf called these “streams of consciousness” moments. For me they’re rare glimpses into the life I would have—could have—do have--if—when I live full and real. Of course I’d rather be swimming on steamy hot days than shopping for groceries or putting in time at work, but whatever I’m doing, when I accept and stay with whatever is in front of me, I move more and think less. That sounds so new-age, but living this way is actually an increasing quandrum in modern life. I know I’m absolutely, positively not alone in acknowledging that it is remarkably, surprisingly, shockingly difficult to live in the moment. That could perhaps be a minor problem instead of a major one if it weren’t true that I only exist in this moment. I can only be-here-now. I can only do what I do and not do what I don’t do. Vacation helps me understand this. It turns the volume down and that helps my five senses more easily experience the world. “Time off” helps immensely, but I think the rhythm comes back mostly because I decide how I want it to be. I outlined the bones of that decision when I packed my vacation toolbox.

There is no TV here. No internet service. No washer/dryer. If history proves true, I know already that by the end of the week I will have added another tool in my toolbox: a new timepiece that moves as slowly and consciously as I want it to. It will be in rhythm with my body, and it will quiet my mind. It will help me move through space with greater ease.

I also know that once I return home to the land of vacuum cleaners and unpaid bills, my new timepiece will run down and acquiesce to action and activity.

And then comes the really hard part--I know this because I’ve been there before: I will be overwhelmed by the chores and demands that have waited for me. My stress will expand and my capacity to handle it will constrict. But I will also find myself at a junction where I can make a clean choice. I can’t change my circumstance and chores, but thanks to a relaxing vacation, I’ve had the chance to get reacquainted with my favorite self--with my natural self. I definitely overstocked my vacation toolbox, as usual, but it worked great. I pulled out the paints, read some books, wrote as I wished. And I swam in the cool water and hot air first and last thing everyday. I’m arriving home in balance. But I know this too: very soon my day-today circumstance and chores will overtake me, especially if I don’t take some thoughtful measure against them.

If I were to add some protective “life-tools” to my toolbox, what they would look like? What I would use them for? What maintenance they would require?

I wonder what it will take to restock my toolbox next week, and the week after that, and after that, with tools that will chisel away stress, sculpt support, provide anchors. Tools that will help me be and stay myself and keep me centered in some core way when the world around me goes to hell and back. I’m wonder what a specially made “kj tool” would look and feel like. Maybe it would cut away unnecessary weeds, prune back overwhelming expectations, drill though bullshit, ring an alarm when I’m at risk of going overboard. Maybe I could order the smaller size—the one with a compass attached, so it could fit in my pocket and I could take it everywhere.

If it had multiple parts, I could take my time and read the instruction book. If it were very costly, I could put it on layaway. If it were fragile, I could treat it with great care and protection. If it were very heavy or needed batteries, I could conserve it for special occasions. Maybe I could come to count on my kj tool to find my way and stay there.

A lot of life tools are already in place for me these days. And yet, my footing slip-slides too easily. I can’t imagine what it would be like to feel solid, centered, secure, for longer than vacations and stream of conscience moments. I can’t swim 2 or 3 times a day in my non-vacation life, but I can see the sunset, smell the garden basil, touch the soil, hear my daughter’s voice, feel the warmth of friendship.

I want at least some of my vacation tools to become life tools. I want to know that my toolbox will cover most occasions. Then I can more confidently live my interesting life. My week at Sebago Lake guides me to who I am when I live like this. I want to be this Me. Here. Now.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Time to lighten up, lessen words, and fall into what's shaping up to be a fine summer. In no order what-so-ever, here are some shots and images I like for known or unknown reasons:

This is JB's grass garden. It's only in its first year, situated in a back corner of the back yard. It slows me down when I look at it, which is always a good thing.

Gee, I hope this works. This sign is in my mother's bedroom. You will either see one thing or another. It's kind of a trick. I'll be interested in how it looks to you.

Dear God, may I return to Maori Italy one of these days. This shot is nothing fancy--just across the street in a little village where people take lunch from 1 pm to 5 pm, work again until 7 or 8, and spend a lot of their time eating and hanging out.

These are the footsteps of my best friend-come-a-visiting. She hopped out of the car and out of a snowless state and made her mark in the front yard and in our company over a fine few days.

I posted this tarot reading a couple of months ago. The important point is the 3rd card/final result: the "World" card is all good. It seems to be shaping up this way, to which i say "thank you".

He looks quite different every week and his eyes are blue, but this boy Mr. Ryan is unbelievable!!!!!

The photo on the left is my both-deceased grandparents. I never met my grandmother. She died when my dad was quite young. My grandfather lived next door and brought me the tail of a pig once when I was sick on the couch. Don't ask me why, but I thought it was pretty cool at the time.

The photo on the right is from my mother's refrigerator: she and I on another couch one summer's day awhile back.

I love this little house I live in. I think this shot of the world's smallest dining room explains why.

Here's a before and after of the livingroom. JB and I ragged the walls ourselves and lived to tell about it. And Ces' painting--well, pretty cool, huh?

I know it's blurry, but this is further proof of what an angel Mr. Ryan is.

These two Ces paintings have new wall-homes in the house, but this is one of my favorite shots. kj the poet-novelist is on the left. The Blue Nude is on the right. The originals are unbelievably awesome, as you might guess.

What an ending to this post. Here is a young mumified slave from Pompeii. Whatever your lot and circumstance, how about just being thankful you didn't have her/his miserable job. And then, while you are thankful, maybe you could decide to be one of those Mystery Angels I've been nagging about.....

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

My Friend

She's 83 years old, blind, and leaving the next day for a two week conference in Atlanta.

She has abdominal pain and goes to the Emergency Room.

She calls her son to tell him she's having emergency surgery for an obstructed bowel.

Her lung collapses during surgery, she's given a colostomy, she's in Intensive Care, and she has a stroke.

Her left side is paralyzed.

She's unconscious for four days.

Two days ago the breathing tube is removed so she can talk.

She is still very sick.

Yesterday, when I see her at the hospital, the first thing she says to me is, "It was close."

The second thing she says is, "Boy, am I lucky or what?"

The third thing she says is, "It's a good thing you got your ass here to see me".

Spunk and grit will save the day. I'm sure of it.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Mystery Angels--Part 2

I've succeeded as a Mystery Angel but all I can say is this: a wonderful woman with a vibrant life is looking down from heaven grinning as wide as the Atlantic Ocean, watching her daughter being loved, pampered and teased straight into a great couple of weeks before she heads off to her first year of college.

Pieterbie and I are both reporting that performing secret acts of kindness pay a HUGE dividend. It just feels GREAT.

Please try it. How about from now until this Friday you just DO IT: find a way to be a Mystery Angel.

Don't forget: I will reward you with a prize. I will, really.