Wednesday, September 28, 2011


For my beloved friend Lori on the loss of her beloved Mother:


If I were dying tonight,
Lying in my bed with plastic tubes and half-filled bottles
on the small table nearby
and bedpans and oxygen there to diminish any shame,
Perhaps forcing my breaths
with the strength of a desperate parent
who implausibly and frantically lifts two tons
of mangled steel off a broken daughter—
If I were dying tonight and I wished to tell you
What will astonish you,
I would tell you this:

Be sure to notice white flowers in the moonlight,
Because the softened glow is like no other.

Appreciate the lingering scent of garlic on your fingers,
Because healing is possible from that alone.

Tell the truth when it matters least
Because then you will be sure there is another honest person in the world.

Always spend the extra money for dimmers
Because light that builds in intensity and then gently fades is
good for your spirit.

Over and over, ask yourself, “What is the lesson here?”
Because then you will forever be a student and never a victim.

Never believe for a moment that the world is going to hell
Because you only need to love outside yourself to know better.

If I were dying tonight, I would tell you all this
Because astonishment is brethren to curiosity,
Which leads to observation,
And dedication,
And finally appreciation.

If I were dying tonight, perhaps there would only be minutes,
Perhaps only seconds,
To tell you that I will leave with all the love
I have ever felt, and ever given.
I will take it all with me, tucked under my angel wing—
The accumulation of grace from every breath I have ever taken.

Here’s what’s astonishing: I will also leave all that love behind,
It will be imbedded in my daughter’s stunning light and my partner’s quiet
It will guide my friends and coworkers when the layoff comes.
My brother will remember how I tried to do my share
And Joey will find someone else like me to help him tame his fears.
Even the woman at the grocery store that day I let her go ahead of me—
will remember how we were both comforted from that simple act.

If I were dying tonight, I would also tell you
That within, under, because of, and from the little moments
Comes all the wonder and astonishment you could ever hope for.
The little moments that aren’t so little.
I would tell you to let those moments astonish you.
I would tell you this because it is all you need to know.

Monday, September 26, 2011


(even better if you click to enlarge)

At a time when my internet is iffy and my laptop is sputtering, all I can offer is a picture that is worth a thousand words.

This must be how love looks at the beginning of time. How fortunate for me that I have a role in such a love story.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I'm not a very courageous person physically. I'm afraid of heights, I don't ski, I can't imagine myself camping or hiking alone, I get nervous even thinking about rollerskating or god forbid bungee jumping. :^)

But I do think I have emotional courage. I rail at injustice and speak my mind when something seems unfair. I've given speeches in front of hundreds of people and I've made presentations even with my knees knocking. I can sit with and help people who are in pain and who have experienced tremendous loss. I usually let people I care about know if I'm upset or concerned about something and I don't use email when I know a face to face talk is needed.

I welcome adventure and change even when I don't want it.

But, In the last several years, I learned that there is a line where adventure can become recklessness. I'm still trying to figure out some of my decisions, ones where I gambled most of my emotional poker chips and perhaps risked too much.

Have you made choices that bordered on reckless and if so why did you? I'd like to know I'm not alone and I'm fascinated by what makes a person step out and go for broke without a safety net.

And while we're on this subject, if you have the interest or time, more from my new novel:

It had been a little slice of danger from the start. Whatever is exhilarating is also risky, kind of like riding a roller coaster with your hands above your head and your feet so casually placed they won’t help you brace, especially during that first long wild dip, when your hair flies behind you at lightening speed and you can barely hear your own screams because they are folded into the thrill of the collective scream, all the way down, until you level out waiting for the next rapid rise and fall.

True, there is a steel bar across your lap that holds you to the seat, makes sure gravity will not pick you up and throw you into mid air and sudden death, but let’s face it: you want to ride that roller coaster that way—reckless and reflectively—and you hand over a piece of yourself without knowing the ropes, the same as if you choose a back country trail without provisions or a map, You do it that way and you’re taking your chances that you’ll know what to do when the danger rush comes flying at you, when there’s no time to think and certainly no time to plan.

You know in general, it makes more sense to size things up, take your time and venture slowly, get familiar with what you know and what you don’t. You know it’s better to not be surprised when you are not prepared, to keep the rope tight, to drop Hansel and Gretel corn kernels behind you so the path stays familiar, but then again when you know your way, you’re not surprised, and when you’re not surprised, you’re not deep in the thrill and when that happens the rush of the ride that’s lost to you is not exactly small.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thursday 13 on Monday

I haven't posted a Thursday 13 in months and years. If you like this idea, please consider doing one of your own.

1. I have just spent three days and nights alone writing ten hours a day and loving every minute of it. I have 300 pages of a first draft, much in one paragraph snippet form, and all of it will be edited, condensed, some sections deleted. This is an activity and a process I love.

2. I know the season here in New England has changed because I'm wearing socks again.

3. Soon the field up the street from me will look like this. It is a most beautiful time of year here. The farm stands are selling apples and pumpkins and mums and I'm thinking of warm fruit cobblers.

4. Is it bad of me that I am rooting for bigmouth attorney Nancy Grace on Dancing with the Stars?

5. Are introverts more comfortable being alone with themselves than extroverts? I'm the latter, mostly, but you have to be alone in order to write. And as I get older, I find I want more time alone. That's a change for me.

6. No matter what I do I cannot take proper care of my jewelry. I misplace my favorite earrings and my bracelets, I break my necklaces, I get things tangled up. I have no excuse.

7. This is the entry way of the house JB and Jessica and I lived in for twenty years. This picture was taken after everything was moved out but I still think the beauty and charm of this Queen Anne Victorian shows.

8. I wouldn't change how emotional I am, but I wish I had tougher skin.

9. If I had to choose one thing to dedicate my life to, I think it would be rescuing dogs, especially older ones like Stella, and finding them good homes.

10. When I started my blog I had no idea I would treasure the whole experience of it as I do. My creativity and appreciation levels are off the charts when scroll down my blog list, and every comment left for me is honest to god a little hersey's kiss to my heart.

11. If I took the time to learn to crop photos, I certainly would not allow this extra wide shot of me. Actually I blame the camera to at least some degree. (grin) But who wouldn't want to have a darling baby sleeping on your chest?

12. I try to be a good listener. "Seek to understand before seeking to be understood." Steven Covey said this, and I've found it to be very wise advice.


13. Here is an tiny excerpt from my new book:

Casey Mango was born in a working class industrial town where Waltham Watches were manufactured and where the mill workers lived in a slice of row houses extending two long blocks and dating back to the early 1800’s, just above the location of the Penny Pool on Willow Street where a hundred years later eleven year old Casey and her penny would independently pay her way into the girls’ locker room, squirm in and out of her first cold shower, and then emerge full steam into the bright sunlight and into the warm deep end of the city pool.



Friday, September 16, 2011


My dog Stella and I have come to Provincetown for the weekend, I with a promise to myself to work two long days on my novel . This is not easy writing: the characters are flawed and the story line is at its essence sad. But I LOVE this writing life. When I have time like this, which is so rare, I can't believe my good fortune!

Which leads me to do this show-and-tell mishmash of joys that are free:

JB cut some of our hydrangeas and zinnias and put them in water in our front yard. Here they are a week later, turning their fall color, still looking gorgeous.

I have planted one fruit tree in my life and I'll be damned!--it grew! We told two of our friends to help themselves to all the peaches they wanted and they stripped the tree bare. Last week they arrived at my kitchen door to generously share the bounty they created: jars and jars of peach chutney, ginger peach jam, peach raspberry preserves.

Oh jeez, be still my expanding heart. My daughter Jess tells me that Mr. Ryan asks to hold his baby brother every night. I think it's obvious how tender is. And his four year old legs and feet: could they be any cuter? I'm sorry to say that two year old no-longer-baby Drew was kidnapped by an alien mouse. Thank god he's been returned safely.

Many of my friends have talents that are remarkable. Buffy, thank you so much for everything. And Mim, I paid twenty dollars for this painting at YART last year but it is worth a zillion dollars, so in my book that makes it free.

That many years ago JB and I bought a small place at the land's end in Provincetown will never ever be commonplace. It is a sanctuary of the highest order. When I write here, the words slide out like hot butter. And to live by the sea is priceless.


LightsLightsAnd maybe an idea to mix and don't match lights over our dining room table

and secret flowers

I can't say I think the world is an easy place these days. I can't even say I think even good relationships are easy, including the one I have with myself. It helps when I remind myself that there are many reasons to see and acknowledge and appreciate. Thanks for coming along.

Love kj

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Emily Rabbit's Advice on Bowling

First of all, it was NOT my fault that I was asked to leave the bowling alley. Nor was it my fault that the police were called when I refused to leave, because why should I have to leave when there I was enjoying myself, using my already accurate skills throwing frozen peas and frozen brussel sprouts to throw the bowling balls, and was it even my fault that a few times the balls ended up in another alley and okay one ball hit someone on the foot who was a cry baby and complained to the big ball manager?

Of course not! But I am starting to think that there is discrimination against rabbits and for that matter maybe even against hairy people because wouldn't you agree that I had every right to throw the bowling balls even though those green and red shoes didn't really fit me but the big ball manager said I had to wear them so I did but really I do think it made it harder for me to hop and then to aim, which is why I think one of my balls hit the Budweiser sign and the broken glass fell on top of a pool table which of course was not my fault either.

Anyway, I was NOT arrested because what would I be charged with? Disturbing the man with the big balls?

If you haven't bowled in a while I think you should, especially if you are mad at someone because you can really throw those balls and pretend you are trying to knock down some mean person or even a whole group of mean people.

This week I am offering some advice about how to be a good bowler. I hope kj understands that I should be paid for this.

1. Stick some chewing gum inside one or more of the holes in the big balls. Then when you throw it the ball with stick to your fingers longer and maybe that will help it go straighter.

2. It is not a good idea to throw the ball so high that it makes a giant crash on the alley because the big ball manager will blame you for cracking the wood, which I did NOT do but he said I could even when I told him I wouldn't he still said I shouldn't.

3. If you can't lift the ball, you can try to kick it, or better yet bend over and push it with your two hands (or paws, for my rabbit readers) from between your legs. Don't get discouraged if it wobbles because you never know.

4. If you should happen to let go of the ball and it flies behind you somewhere, it is best to look very sorry and maybe even apologize, because that could be another reason you would be asked to leave the bowling alley so why not just look innocent and sorry?

and finally,

5. If you keep throwing balls and they don't knock down any pins, run all the way down the alley FAST and knock ALL of them down yourself. The score thingy won't know the difference and you can end up with a much better score.

I think September is not only Animal Bowling Month but also People Big Ball Month so I encourage you to visit your local bowling alley. If you happen to hit someone or break a sign or worse of all crack the alley, my advice is to leave on your own before the police even come.


Emily Rabbit

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11th

I lived in a 3 floor 13 room queen Anne Victorian duplex and the men who boarded the plane from Boston and rammed it into the first tower slept not even a mile from my house the night before.

I turned on my television and saw that plane crash into the first tower. I called my daughter Jessica at work. "Jess, something terrible just happened." I didn't know when I said that that another plane would crash into the second tower minutes later.

"I know Mom. They're calling us to the lobby to tell us what's happening. Seven of our people are on that plane to Los Angeles. They're going to tell us who."

I followed those seven people for days and weeks and months. I followed how many children they had, the messages they left their families from their cell phones, their parents trying to describe the pain. Most were barely 30 years old, except for their supervisor named Sue and later I wrote a short story about her.

There are few people in all of America and in the world who don't remember the details of the morning those planes crashed into the towers, and the U.S. pentagon and a fourth in a Pennsylvania field.

But for me living in Boston, so many Bostonians were on the first plane that crashed and disintegrated into grey matter, for me it was incredibly close to home.

This means my hairdresser lost her friend and her friend's two year old daughter and when I looked at their photos at the counter I already knew their names.

The owner of the north end shop where I was browsing started crying, talking about her best friend, and I cried with her.

I wonder if my daughter thinks it could have been her, with a slightly different decision here or there, it could have been her.

This means I know the ins and outs of the airport area these guys boarded.

This means I had muslim clients who feared for the safety of their children.

That just about everyone I know knew someone who was killed.

This means that I could not forget no matter how hard I may ever try.

All week I've found myself choking up and starting to cry at some mention on the radio or from a photograph or from someone's memory.

This means I pray for peace deeper and harder than ever.

For god sake's: that morning was horrific. Unimaginable.

What few in all the world could not grieve the loss of a child, parent, spouse, cousin, friend, neighbor, into thin air? Eye to eye, not from a faceless distance, who would see it otherwise?

9-11 is about the value of human life and the humanly wretched depths of love and hate. I know where I stand.

Thank god I know where I stand.



Friday, September 09, 2011

September 11th

I don't know how to properly set up this video, but if you watch it you will understand all you need to know and it will soothe your heart.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011


I’m glad to hear that she is okay, and I hope that she returns to blogging one day. I have to admit, lately it was difficult to read her blog and her comments on other blogs due to the volatile nature of her words. I was wondering if I should even continue reading her blog, or take a break for a bit, because I was shocked and offended and hurt by the blurb about "dysfunctional, perverted and arrogant" liberals she has on the main page of her blog. I kept thinking, "Does she realize she's talking about me when she says these things?" It has been hard for me to separate that from her gorgeous artwork and wonderful smile and personality, which is really too bad. I've so enjoyed reading her blog and seeing her incredible talent. But, part of my hope for both sides of the aisle after this election is that we'll come together ... and instead of focusing on differences, focus on acceptance, so I do my best to accept and love her for all of her. :) I know how very close you are to her and I hope your friendship mends. I know you must be hurting over it and I send my love."

This email came without blame, without judgement. At the time it was clear that one friend had hurt another. It wasn't until last weekend, three maybe four years later, in a cleaning frenzy of ancient emails, that it also became clear that one friend's attempt to be gentle in her tone, in explaining her hurt and need to protect herself, masked the deep and dangerous reality of another.

My friend was justifiably hurt and at the time I made excuses and covered for the person who hurt her because I loved that other person. I knew she had a problem with empathy and compassion: I knew that all along but I made excuses and ignored her hostility toward others until I understood her hostility full force myself. And even then, I didn't want to see.

These days I wonder how the world is going to right itself: so many fractions and warring sides and disdain for opinions that do not match one's own. For a long time I prided myself in being able to accept the position of someone who sounded too much like Rush Limbaugh, who didn't hesitate to degrade or denounce the very beliefs I and others hold high.

I didn't understand the real damage of the degradation and denunciation until I had some distance, finally, to see that a mean streak and intolerance sooner or later overtakes charm and talent. It's hard to face, but even now, I wish for peace in a cold heart.

Looking back, I'm sorry I let my friend be hurt by another's words simply because I was too smitten to protect the people callously misalligned or insulted. I will always be someone who appreciates opinions different from my own: there is much to be learned that way. But name calling and vehemence is not the way to heal oneself or one's planet. I think it's safe to say I won't be overlooking mean spirited rhetoric again. It has to start with me, everytime.

In my email clearing frenzy, I also came across a quick response from my friend Renee, a blogger known to many, who would die only months after she wrote this:

kj, For so many they see a way to change and get what they want and have needed all their lives. For me it is so different, because I have always had what I want. I have always seen the birds sing and have stated my truth. Does that make sense to you?

Yes, Renee. It makes total sense. Why does the scarcity of what one wants and need in life lead a person to hate and vilify the differences of others? And why is this so for some and not others?

Love kj

Sunday, September 04, 2011


Here I am again talking about my family. From the beginning the purpose of my blog has been to paint pictures, mostly with words. But this time I am pleased to introduce a newcomer to the art world: Mr. Ryan, age 4.
These are removable stickers that are presently all over my wall. Each was colored, embellished, and thoughtfully positioned by the artist, who proudly announced that his Mother and Father were going to be shocked and excited when they returned from dinner and witnessed the Big Reveal.

Please note that Mr. Ryan's grandparents must be flexible and goofy to allow Mr. Ryan's expansive art piece to enhance their current home design :^)

And speaking of Mr. Ryan, he slept with Scooby Doo last night, and also with a Big Soft Yellow Banana with dreadlocks.

Four adults and three very small children spent the day at the Northampton Tri-County Fair this weekend. I will refrain from complaining about how expensive the kiddie games and rides were. Instead I will say we had a very good time and I am appreciating my increasing ability to appreciate.
Zoom Zoom Rides....

Happy Smiles.....

New Friends....

Needed Sleep.....

oh, and did I mention a new baby with ten precious toes that if necessary could contribute to World Peace.

My current strategy in life is to spend as much time as possible with kind and loving and inspiring people and to run not walk from any one and anything toxic. There is so much I can't control, but I can steer my way to the people i love.

I'll say this: when it's clear that light is stronger than any darkness, the contrast can set things pretty right pretty fast.



Saturday, September 03, 2011


This photo is not now. She's not in the hospital; actually she spent tonight eating homemade pizza with me and 29 other residents at the rest home where she lives.

But I think this photo says so much about my Mother. She had fallen and broken her arm when this was taken, the call reached me as I pulled into my friend Mim's driveway saying that she had likely had a stroke, that she might die. I was 90 minutes away and my partner JB rushed from work to be with her in the emergency room. And there she was, smiling, asking a hundred times what happened, hearing a hundred times that she fainted, forgetting the answer a hundred times and just smiling her happy smile.

I have come to respect my Mother in ways that astonish me. "I don't complain, do I?" she asks me. When I tell her no, you don't Mom, she says, "Good, because I don't think I have anything to complain about."

She is 95 and a half years old and can't remember what happened two minutes ago. "I don't give a damn!" she says. "I still have my mind." And she does. In the present moment, my Mother is lucid and sharp and competent. I don't worry about her. She doesn't worry either.

My Mother somehow has ended up in an old fashioned rest home ten minutes from me, in her own private room with a bathroom across the hall, with a staff that quietly sets out her clothes each morning and brings her ginger ale and a cookie after dinner so they can subtly help her ready for bed, with home cooking that all thirty residents rave about, and so do JB and I when we show up for Thanksgiving dinner and have turkey and all the fixings and baked stuffed shrimp and fresh apple pie with our coffee.

There is no question that my Mother lucked out when one vacant room next to the little kitchen became available three years ago. And there is no question that my Mother deserves every good moment. There are frequent deaths in this rest home. The residents are old, or their bodies are weary, and statistically the death rate is high. It is unnerving and in that sense it is good that my Mother does not remember, with a few lovely exceptions, who's who.

But I can finally say I hope my Mother will be lucky enough to die there. In her bed. Maybe even with that look of contentment that perfectly matches her green eyes.

There is one more part of my love affair with my Mother you might be interested in. She and I did not talk to one another for almost nine years. It still surprises me to say that is ancient history. I remind her of that only rarely and she grins at me: "I must have been wrong. Who could stay mad at a daughter like you?"



Thursday, September 01, 2011

Emily Rabbit's One Tough Chick Award

graphics for this award provided by Ms. Robin Lilac by way of kj's birthday present which was really for me. kj added the scythe and I made it polka dot because even a scythe should be designer fun, don't you think?

Hello everyone, it's me Emily Rabbit, writing today to share some very very prestigious news. As you might know I gave some very good advice on preparing for a hurricane and kj did not pay me for it and until today I have been very under-appreciated which is not fair but I try to be brave about it even though I threw frozen peas at kj while she was sleeping on the couch.

BUT!!! Wild Wonderful Wacky Anne of has presented me with very first Scythe Woman's One Tough Chick Award. The recipient is tough and prepared and able to control temper tantrums at least some of the time. In Anne's words:

Emily, I want to congratulate you on being so prepared for the hurricane and sharing it with everyone else in a very interesting blog post. You proved that you were quite tough by preparing and riding things out, and by not throwing a fit when NO ONE e-mailed a thank you, but were polite in bringing it to our attention.

In the future, you have all the rights and privileges associated with being "ONE TOUGH CHICK!" like getting leather chaps and using a scythe like Scythe Woman does. (it would cut flowers faster--heck, it cuts everything faster!)

Also, since you had a safety pin in your illustration of how to fix things after the earthquake, I am assuming you're a Punk Rabbit too, so you have the right to wear a Misfits hat like mine. Only TOUGH CHICKS wear those.Now, you'll probably have to make some mischief so you can post this on KJs blog before she knows what you're up to, so I recommend running around fast throwing frozen peas and screaming and knocking things over, then hurry to the computer while everything gets cleaned up.

It is always nice to be so understood.

So in honor of my award I am going to award this award out to certain spunky, brave, competent and maybe even patient people. They don't have to be women, even Mr. Snowbrush and silly Walking Man can be included.

So far only one person I am giving the award to is my best friend Marianne. But I want you to to nominate some people and I will give the award to anyone that anyone else nominates. I don't think you should nominate yourself though but maybe you could pay someone to nominate you even if they don't think you deserve it.

Tell me who you think deserves the One Tough Chick Award and explain why. I will then bestow this very wonderful honor to that person or persons. Later you can give the award to anyone yourself but since I'm the first to get it, I want to give it out myself first so please cooperate.

If you are wondering why this is a One Tough Chick Award and not a One Clever Rabbit Award, you will have to ask Anne but personally I think you should just accept her decision because she knows what she is talking about and really she is one tough chick not one clever rabbit so that may have something to do with it.


Emily V.V. Rabbit