Monday, March 30, 2009


This appeared on Jen Gray's blog today. ( (Click to enlarge.) I hope she doesn't mind my sharing it, because it says alot about how I've been feeling.
And just in case you're walking a similiar path, didn't know, or might have forgotten:

You are not the problem.

The problem is the problem.

Some things are just damn helpful to keep in mind...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Tipping Point

An interesting thing happened yesterday. The interesting and wonderful Renee celebrated her 53rd birthday, and people from blogland reached out in droves and by the hundreds to wish her well.
This event was fascinating to observe and be part of, and it reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point. It's about how epidemics begin and take hold. The whole concept is so fascinating that if you haven't read this book, and you enjoy seeing something in a whole new and unexpected way, I recommend it.
Meanwhile, what a virtual birthday party! I love witnessing good things happening to good people. And Ms. Renee of Winnipeg is certainly in that category.
Which brings me to another point. The number of wonderful people I have met blogging is remarkable. Not just virtual acquaintances, or internet friends, but real true relationships. And to that I say, on this rainy Sunday morning, yet again: thank you!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


"My name is Renee and I am 52 years old. I am married to someone I love and I have three children and one granddaughter. I am a happy person. I have Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC), and I am not happy about that. I am Stage 4 and I am in the process of learning to live with birds circling my head. "
Today is Renee's birthday. Her grit, guts, color and candor know no equal. It is my pleasure to join her family and friends to wish her a very happy birthday.
Renee: you'll get some presents today. Here's one from me, with love:
Oh body!
How did you manage
To step aside,
To transport me to a different universe
Where divine intention
Heals my cells and helps my fears?
It's soaring sisterhood
across keyboard miles
leveling my fate,
carrying me past uncertainties
I don’t deserve but manage to don
With designer strength and magic words.
In my old pajamas
My bones so deep,
Still they find me, allign me,
Send me words and pictures
And mile-wide hearts,
These friends who travel
Beyond the plains, to reach me here.
Oh body!
When did I become so lovely
That in this place
I find community?
And how did I shed my form and frame,
To be recast the leading lady of honest words,
Love washing over me
Like summer rain?
When did I become this beautiful?
So wild with grace,
So perfectly shaped and shapen:
I have become myself,
Full and true and open wide,
Comment boxes signed xoxo,
Alphabet 0rgasms punctuated
with blazing art.
Oh body!
I’m walking here!
Don’t bother slowing down.
I am the oak Renee,
My branches extend from Japan to California
They bend and stretch and reach,
Offering rest and reminder
That the world is rich
Simply and fully
Because I am.
Oh, and just so things don't get too serious, here's a cake especially for you, Renee:

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Zombie Chicken Award

"The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their words."
I found this award on Poet Mom's Blog and it is too good to pass by. So trumpets please: I hearby award this special recognition to:
Renee on her birthday
Studio Lolo my good friend
Bella Sinclair for her virtual jellybeans (and non-virtual artwork)
Melissa for her simplicity
Debra Kay for her articulate guts
Mim because I love Ms. Em and Mim is a good egg
This award may be issued to others in due time. Meanwhile, take it and use it if and when you wish.
And to anyone inclined to promote ill will or ill winds, I say cluck you!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Animal Wednesday: Planting Time

I heard kj say it's spring and time to think about planting. I think I will be receiving 10 pounds of jellybeans from Japan (that woman is nice and so far she is my favorite because she likes me) and 25 pounds of jellys from California (I like Lololo too, but she is a killjoy about saying jellybeans have shellack on them).
I don't know for sure if anybody is reliable so just in case I planted some myself. I never did this before so I don't know if I did it right but I followed that story of Jack and the Beanstock, so hopefully I will have all the jellies I need to stay happy.
If Stella or any squirrels or bears think about eating my jellybean plants, I will take matters into my own hands. So they better not. And kj better not either. It's not my fault she doesn't understand the importance of jellybeans. And she'd probably laugh more if she did.

Yours Truly,
Emily V. V. Rabbit
Who is not charging to be guest blogger yet but might in the future, depending on alot of things.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Time to Rhyme

It's been a while since I've let myself write poetry. My heart hasn't been in it. Tonight in my Monday night Big Yellow writing group, I decided it's about time. And not just poetry, but rhymes. I love rhyming, so that's what I wrote about in poem # 2.
Poem # 1: Untitled
If a heart breaks in pieces
Does it glue itself back together
Or does it take on a new shape
Like rising dough on a warm day?
Poem # 2: Time to Rhyme
I think it’s time
I returned to rhyme
Forget that I’m still bemoaning
The toss of my will
& the loss of the thrill
Still, it’s time to cool down the groaning.
If John Donne can write
With a meter in sight
I can surely let loose and start playing
Let the words rock and roll
Far into my soul
And let it be my way of praying
I’m told to remember
From June to September
That poems should never be dire.
They must dance the two step
Bounce with grace and adept
To nuance and rhythm and fire.
I stopped for a while
My heart raced a far mile.
I lost all the fancy and fun
Of choosing the words
That together are heard
With a twinkle and wink of the sun.
How does one become
So stuck and so glum
That silliness goes out of season?
Is living so tough
When the going gets rough
That a poet stops rhyme without reason?
No, no, I'm willing to say
I won’t have it that way
Any longer, any deeper, any how--
I’m a fool starting fresh
Confused with the best
And I’ll start with the rhythm of now.

Mr. Ryan Forced to Buy Groceries for Family

(Smile. Have a good day, everyone.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mr Ryan's Weekend

Part 1: How to Enjoy a Flashlight in Broad Daylight:

(Note: If you are not a fully mature, well functioning adult, do not try this at home without adult supervision)

Coming Soon: Mr Ryan masters key rings, toilets, Bob the Builder videos, a tricycle, a red wooden wagon, grocery shopping, shooting air balls, eating spaghetti, operating tape decks, building blocks, hiding in corners, and snuggles and hugs.


Isn't it obvious that anyone who could paint like this overflows with love and respect and talent? The artist is Jessie, and I've followed her blog since I started blogging almost three years ago. Jessie has found her spot in the world: she paints pet portraits and "sees" in ways that words cannot explain. You can visit her at and see for yourself. And you can visit her blog at
But what I really want to say is I met Jessie for coffee last night. In Minneapolis. For the first time we sat across from one another, nodded and laughed and understood eachother totally. She is a kindred soul, and I am privileged to know her. This is (another) example of the power and the capacity of blogging. I knew she was special to me from the beginning, but it took all of five seconds to have that confirmed, and more.
I loved it too, Jessie! Until next time!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Saint Patrick's Day

Okay, so it's not a shamrock. But I figure my friends and visitors have a large enough supply of imagination to start with the green and go from there.
In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, here's a re-posting of my favorite riddle. If you don't get it, please read it again until you do, because I think it's very funny!

Question: What's green and lives outside?
Answer: Patio Furniture

otherwise known as
Paddy O'Furniture

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Saturday was the opening of the 4th semi-annual Word-Art show at the Gallery on the Green in Canton, CT. For the second time, I had the honor of working with my dear friend, Carla, in response to her painting, "On Ancient Wings." I only hope that my poem,"Wounded Bird," does rightful justice to Carla's mystical and magical talent.

The show runs through April 12, with an evening of readings on Saturday, April 4 at 7:30.
Wounded Bird
Part 1
A swallow can fly miles, From treetop to ocean cliff,
The wind's undertow buoyantly gliding her
To a resting place warm with possibility.

She is free, lifted higher by duty and family,
Not a thought outside of weather and wind, .
Acceptance and choice safely within her span.

But then, jolted in flight, her heart pumped deep
And she is transformed,
The unknown and unfamiliar
In that very moment,
A broken wing reclaiming
Something lost and ancient
Spiraling deep and desperate
Into the habitat of hidden.
Some species heal their wings
In solitude, licking and lying
In a nest of thin twigs
Healing from within
Until they can fly again,
To and from home.
But other species do not heal
And they tuck that wing
Underneath themselves,

Landlocked and less,
The natural order
Injured inside and out.
That species will push on
Practicing, praying, pretending
That wings are but a crutch;
Meanwhile hoping that reverse gravity
May rocket them up and open them wide,
Heedfully whole to fly again.

Part 2 (My Side)
I fly from necessity
Hovering over leafy trees and endless water,
Following an inestimable path from home
Only to return again,
Where I’ll find my roots and rhythm
Deeply tucked in grainy sand.

I do not question why I do this--
This destiny of family and fate--
What I cannot fathom I will not change.

My twelve feather tail and meager wing span
Weigh in below two ounces,
Not enough for my survival

And yet I maneuver and endure,
I doggedly sing my song
And tuck my broken wing

Under my expanding and rapid chest
Until I know if
I might fly again.

If I should die here
Unable to lift myself beyond this place
I will fly anyway

Straight to this indomitable future
Where I will be an African River Martin
tending and fending

Reaching still and always,
Weightless in my belief
That I was born for just this moment.

Damn! I know there is a two line stanza that should be three. Blogger simply refused to let me correct it. So I bent, which is probably something I should do more often anyway... :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Another Day at the Office

First she told me he hit her. Then she asked me if I would drive her back to her apartment so she could feed the cats, pile his bad ass belongings on the outside stairway, pick up her daughter's medicine. They had walked five miles and were staying with a friend until she was sure he was gone. She said this time there would be no more chances. His jealously had overflowed for two days and two nights and by the time he hit her, she knew he and they were not safe.
Now this job I have is not your typical psychotherapist. For one thing I see most clients in their homes, not in my two chair office. For another thing, most of my clients do not have cars and in her case, sometimes not even a five dollar bill. I lent her twenty bucks to buy cat food and litter because her four cats had been alone in her apartment for four days already. It was lend her the money or call the ASPCA, because I couldn't stand the thought of the cats without food or litter.
When she asked me to drive her back to the apartment I froze. "Therapist Gunned Down by Jealous Boyfriend"--that was the headline in my head and I was smart enough (this time) to heed it.
"No," I said. I'll drive you if you call the police and they agree to meet us there. And if they go into the apartment with you to be sure you're safe. And if they stay until we leave."
That's how I spent my first two hours this morning. Except I miscalculated one thing. I told her I would wait in the car. I was not comfortable helping her pack up. After all, I'm a counselor, not a street fighter. Besides, I knew my supervisor probably preferred I hadn't agreed to any of this. But here's what I miscalculated: both police officers went upstairs with her and I, helpless, nervous, hypervigilant me--sat alone in my all-too-familiar car wondering if he did show up if he would forego the police shields and aim right for little me sitting there all by myself. It was a tense few moments. It reminded me I am older than I used to be, more cautious, but maybe not fully level headed.
I drove her back to her friend's apartment, strongly hoping and advising her to get a restraining order on Monday morning. I told her I won't see her at the apartment unless she does. I told her the police told me he was a bad dude. Turns out he had a half dozen more arrests than she knew about.
She's wondering why she chose him in the first place and why she's chosen bad dudes more than once. That kind of wondering is good: better late than never.
And I'm wondering if I'm a bit of a street fighter despite my intentions. I didn't have to drive her. I didn't have to wonder if this crazy guy might appear any minute and let me have it. And yet, this is what I'm freely doing. Don't get me wrong: I'm cautious. I am. But here I am too somewhere I might have been thirty years ago, still doing it my way and hoping for the best.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Animal Wednesday:Depressed? Try Jellybeans.

Once upon a time there was a sweet charming little rabbit named Emily.
She became depressed because she lost her best friend and her good luck charm on the same day.
So she comforted herself by eating two pounds of multi-colored jellybeans.
She developed a stomach ache and had to miss school.
Her mother took care of her and made her carrot soup.
She stayed in bed and watched cartoons.
The next day she felt a lot better.
Now she eats jellybeans at the smallest hint of problems.
Meanwhile, her friend kj turns to brown rice and counselors.
Who do you think is smarter?
Now really,
No contest, right?
Note: If someone by the name of LoLoLo tells you jellybeans have bad things on them, you should listen to me instead. Sincerely, Emily Rabbit.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Recognition Time

It's about time I recognized certain people for sprinkling my day with great adventures and beautiful creations. Please pass on this award however and whenever you'd like:
Baino: you think you're not talented? Ha! Your enthusiasm for life and your wide assortment of interests teach and entertain me almost every day!
Studio Lolo: I'm partial to you: your art, your talent, your kind heart, your friendship.
ValGal: You are so special and your art is so uplifting, all I can say is I love you!
Melissa: Oh those photos. Oh those children. Oh those stories.
Miladysa: You are my friend (and fellow writer) across the ocean. I know the friend part for sure.
CS: So many times when I wanted to sink, I've been lifted by your straight-forward determination. Not to mention your keen and intelligent eye.
Chief (Kay): I am always honored when you read my stories. Thank you for your unwavering support.
Marianne: I am new to your blog but your mandela's have captured my spirit!
Debra Kay: Your gutsy no-nonsense wisdom amazes me. And has helped me out more than once.
Mim: I'm in love with Ms. Em. I can't wait to buy her book. I like who you are.
Sidney: you are a hero and a teacher to me. Your photos of the Philippines are developed with such love.
HB: I learn so much from your words and poems and reaching out.
Suki: You are courageous.
Bella: Thank you for the reminders. that what your art and words do for me: reminds me to keep it simple.
Carla: my friend, it is always a pleasure to visit your incredible artwork and to welcome your comments here.
Soulbrush: You're new to me but I know you have energy and passion: two of my favorite characteristics.
Bimbimbie: Fly little bird, fly!
Hildegarde: I will never forget you.
Wieneke: see above. I still plot how to meet.
Maithai: Oh my God. Your caring and kindness for the human race is absolutely inspiring. I feel hopeful every time I visit your blog.
Lavender: I saved you for last today. You're the first to pick up the nuances and offer comfort. Thanks, girl!
More to come. For now, thanks for the memories. And for the fun!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Ten Things I've Done in my Life

Soulbrush has put forth an invitation, along with her special version of a bribe, to share ten things I've done in my young life. How to choose ten? I'm not sure, but here they are, in no particular order:

1. Given birth to and raised a wonderful, special, and uniquely witty daughter who is one fine human being

2. Been president and CEO of my own consulting firm

3. Elected "Personality Plus" in my high school class of 660 students

4. Married my best friend

5. Lived in Germany , in Oklahoma , in two different coastal communities, in a suburb outside of Boston, and now in a community of farms and colleges

6. Been arrested for breaking and entering

7. Written and published a book

8. Helped my father die

9. Met Lily Tomlin in a restaurant

10. Fallen deeply and madly in love

May I tag a few people to join in? You know who you are--how about it?!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

An Observation: Politics & Poverty

I'm a practicing psychotherapist these days. And I have an observation.
In my career I've been a counselor in one form or another. But for the last year I've been working with clients who do not own cars, who receive public assistance, who barely have furniture, and who don't seem to have much hope or motivation that much will change for themselves or their children. I've been working in an urban city in bankruptcy, therapist to give-or-take 15 clients: some adults with histories of incredible neglect and abuse, some teens honestly trying to figure out the role of sex and opportunity in their lives, some children with sad eyes who have been taken from their mothers and live day-to-day in foster care.
Before I tell you my observation, I'd like to present my "credentials". I have an advanced degree in counseling, but I am also a small business owner who at one point employed nearly a hundred people in my own private human services firm. I've owned a restaurant, marketed a movie theatre, managed real estate, developed an artisan cooperative, published a book, served on several Board of Directors, and back in the day co-managed an Army Education Center. I've paid my high share of taxes and I've made plenty of wise and not-so-wise financial decisions.
I've also moved from liberal to moderate politics, and I'm not very pleased with the sprawling huge budget my new President has just submitted.
That's the back-story. Oh, one more thing: I rarely if ever use my blog for political purposes.
So here is my observation. In the last month, something has changed with some of my adult clients. It has not been uncommon for their poverty to be discussed in relation to their depression, or low self esteem, or inability to make decisions or stabilize their lives. I ask them in one way or another to look beyond poverty--to imagine a different life where there is not the intrusion of and reliance on welfare agencies and there is the freedom and ability to take the kids to a restaurant or a movie once or twice a month.
For the year that I've been at this job, I've kept asking my clients to look beyond. But we both knew there were no real prospects for jobs. The job market was dire. Here's my observation: The landscape is shifting. Changing. This week alone, three of my clients--three--mentioned working again. For the first time. One way or another they said if they could work they could start to do things differently.
There's a ton of controversy about the U.S. President's plan to create public service jobs. It'll certainly add to record high deficits on top of already record-high deficits. And yet, I'm confident I help these three clients work again. I have this skill. And in my small caseload in my small corner of the world, if I can contribute to the return of work and dignity, three people and three families will then take care of themselves.
So this is my observation: Hope. Somehow it's filtered down and reached three people who didn't have it three months ago. While the accountants mumble-jumble the management of more money with more zeros than I can ever relate to, how important is it that three adults in a caseload of ten adults--33%--will have the means to find their way back to work? And have started to think about it, to put words to it, to hope for it? Can show their children something different? Might be able to get off the government rolls altogether.
Is it important enough to include in a balance sheet?
And could it be contagious??

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Animal Wednesday: Emily Easter Egg

First of all, don't blame me because this is not the best picture. I didn't draw it, I didn't take a camera shot of it, I didn't decide not to use a scanner. All I did was pose, and only for a second. I thought it would be good to get everyone in the mood for Easter, since my supply of jellybeans should be extra alot for Easter, since Easter is about the Easter bunny and I am a rabbit. If this makes sense to you, which it should, please consider donating to the Emily V. V. Rabbit Jellybean Fund. All proceeds go to the well-being and happiness of myself.
Also, don't forget to only say nice things about me because if anyone is mean to me I may stop posing altogether.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Little Things Part Two: # 9

I've posted most if not all of these pictures already, but my recent trip to my friends' cool house and the famous and infamous Baino's posting of her space have inspired me to share my digs again. I apologize that I am not including the messy mountains of clutter that also occupy # 9, but that will come another time.
For now, here's a little walk through of my home:
The first thing you should know is my house is mostly small. It's a seven room ranch on a third of an acre, punctuated with little rooms like this dining area. That said, it's a sweet comfy space. I love eating here, where I am surrounded by photos of JB, my Jessica and my son-in-law, their wedding, Mr. Ryan, and other favorite people.
Don't ask me to live in a house without books. I love books. Ancient and modern literature, cookbooks, atlases, poetry, coffee table art: anything that will hold my attention while I hold the book.
Did I say the rooms are small? This is the tiny sitting area across from the kitchen. We've since added cushions for the 1950's chairs taken from my parents' cellar. Up until recently (that's another story) this is where I start my morning with coffee, an apple, nuts, and either yogurt of a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter. (Do you care what I have for breakfast? Smile.) And then one more cup of coffee while I read the morning paper, including my astrological forecast.
The kitchen will one day get remodeled, two people fall on top of one another trying to cook, but all in all it's also sweet.

The guest bedroom: this is highlighted by JB's special (and expensive) wallpaper and my special (and dirt cheap) bureau. JB got to choose this wallpaper when we moved in a couple of years ago, and I got to bring this bureau home on one particularly lonely birthday many years ago. It was for sale in the front yard of a farmhouse on a back road. I offered $ 40 and it came home with me.
Don't ask me why but the again-little hallway has a spiritual feel to it for me, and I like that. The stain glass window is covering a traditional window that overlooks our neighbor's house. Before the stain glass, there was no walking to the bathroom in your underwear. Now--I wear even less...
Okay, Baino, you can see from my office that I am not particularly neat. I have a thing with papers. I can't seem to keep them organized. Every once in a while I dream that I have piles of papers on top of me and I am fighting to breathe. Still, I have an office-writing room of my own (see my laptop--that's where I blog), it has a printer and fax machine, as well as several bookcases, and I am usually happy as a clam in there.
Please step outside to the back yard. JB and I have transformed this space from a starved plot of dirt to a sanctuary of sorts. We grill, we eat, we rock in the hammock, we read books on the patio, we garden, and putter, and sometimes I sit at the table and write my stories.

The back yard is also home to the hot tub, which turns out to be one of the best purchases ever made at # 9. We had some extra money when we sold our old house and moved here--enough that we bought a hot tub, installed it outside, and hoped the novelty wouldn't fade. It hasn't. The water temperature is 103 degrees F, perfect when it's minus 10 in the dead of winter. And looking up at the stars at midnight, while floating in steam, is one of my life's little treasures...
His name is Robert Cardinal and he is a painter from Truro-Provincetown. We bought this on lay-a-way--$ 50 a month until it was paid for. It will be willed to my son-in-law, but for the long foreseeable future, the sky changes color with the sun and lighting. This is a lighthouse in Martha's Vineyard, by the way. (Val!)

And last--two favorites. Here's a side view of JB's Magic Cottage,

And here's the sweetest paws at # 9: Stella, who after 7 or 8 years of a challenging existence, has settled into her role of family dog with both grace and appreciation.

I might do this again. Anybody else interested in sharing where and how you live these days?
I for one would savor the tour...

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Little Things

It's been a strange couple of weeks. Strange enough that I welcomed the chance to head north to visit one of my closest friends and her special family. "H" and her husband "G" have the coolest house: decorated throughout with his artwork and their combined good and funky tastes. "H" is also an incredible cook. Here's a sampling of it all:
Risotto with shallots, dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, and shaved steak. Believe me: it tasted as fine as it looked.
How about having a full time job as a wine taster, teacher, and selector for an entire state's liquor stores? I had to laugh at all these wine bottles on the kitchen counter: actual work that has to be done!

Many of my friends are artists in one medium or another. "H" makes jewelry and stained glass; "G" paints:

This is Tess.
Another of "G"s paintings. This one I totally love and wish it hung in our place in Provincetown.
These two friends of mine have one of my favorite bedrooms:

And a unique view of the side yard from the living room window in front of the couch
Sometimes you just have to get away to the sanctuary of good friends.
That's what I did the first part of this weekend.
But not before I had lunch with my beloved Jessica.
And not before she and I spent a play-filled hour with Mr. Ryan in Daycare.
And not before I stretched and grew,
just a little bit more....