Sunday, March 30, 2014


1. No Spring yet. No sun, no warmth, no seedlings breaking through a very wet ground. But one of these days it will be 60 degrees here and I will be reclaiming my yard and planting lettuce and petunias in my half circle garden. My loves: family, friends, writing, camera, Provincetown, gardening. The future is bright.

2. Has anyone else checked out the iPhone app "Waterlogue? This is what it does to regular photos: makes them into watercolors. The app cost is $ 2.99 and I think it's the deal of the century because it is super simple and super fun. And speaking of deals, I'm also loving my monthly Groovebook. For the same cost of $ 2.99 a month, up to 100 photos from my iPhone each month are printed and bound into a photo book, then mailed to me. If you go on line and put in the code JASPER16 you'll get a book for free. No mailing costs ever. It's pretty cool.

3. I am writing and sending out queries to agents and publishers. I have been languishing on my second book for going on three years now, maybe more, and there are legitimate reasons why I don't bring myself to finish it. SO! I've put it aside and have begun a new novel--four siblings and their mother. My favorite character is the oldest sister, Claudia, who maintains her affair with a married man by donning costumes and wigs. I am fired up to write again. It's a great thing for me.

4. I thought this brief essay might be a blog post but it doesn't feel okay to let it stand by itself. So here it is tucked in to other rambles. Has this ever happened to you? 

Have you ever loved anyone who hated you? It's an odd awful thing.

There is no way around it; no minds to change, no errors to mend.  The light of it is well in the past and so it will stay. But every once in a while my senses viscerally remember how deeply and mutually love and whimsy and creativity was given and shared.  But--we were both obsessed. Even with full good lives we couldn't keep a distance.  There was no solution. 

At any point, even through a bad ending,  I was not prepared for hatred. Even now I rail against such an ending.  I became villain and vilified and that was that. My friends told me this was someone without a conscience. I knew some of that was true. But I went too far, myself--I romanticized what was not and I failed to settle for something less. My part was not good. 

Even so, something dormant inside me became alive and has stayed alive and now the  barbs and bitterness no longer reach me and they likely are no longer even formed into thought. 

Still, it is somehow not right to be hated by someone you loved.

5. What the heck is the right and best balance for an unbridled creative life that is also responsible and steady? This image, posted on Facebook by my friend Lo, is pretty telling. This explains why I hate the chores!

                                 (click on the image to enlarge)

Enough rambles for today. Slowly and surely I am going to be blogging more often and I am so glad.  


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Passion For Sale

Here's a short story of mine, if you're so inclined, about one of my favorite subjects. 

It was unusual to hear her alarm: the first time she’d set it since she moved to Bangor. But she was going to be there when the doors opened, so there would be no chance of missing out.

She chose a purple lightweight top that matched her fitted jeans. She wiggled into the sandals she had bought in Harwich the last day of the trip, just before Brady left for grad school. She decided upon the slightest mascara and a satin plum blush, not something she normally wore, but she wanted to look long and slim and shimmered today. 

She arrived at the market at 10:03 am and was surprised that there was no line. She was not sure whether to go directly to customer service or to the cashier line, but instead she stopped the lanky teenager in the grocery section, stacking avocados just so.

“Excuse me,” she said. “Where do I find the passion special? I’d like three pounds.”

The boy nodded. “Oh the passion on sale for $ 4.99 a pound? It’s not us. It’s Bernasky’s Market down the street. Just a block from here.”

She was chagrined. So much for a reliable alarm clock when she had the address wrong. She walked to the swinging doors and on to the sidewalk where the sun was strong. 

“Oh damn,” she thought. She hurried her pace until she reached Bernasky’s and sure enough, there was a line. Five people ahead of her, four women and one man who looked to be in his early 30’s, John Lennon glasses and a neatly trimmed beard not quite hiding the nervous twitch of his upper lip. 

Most of the women were her age, except for the one who looked like a plus sized Joni Mitchell. Bigger Joni stood in line, holding her purse in front of her with both hands, her legs swaying softly to keep her nervousness in check. 

The line moved quickly and before she knew it she was sitting across from  a woman with grey wild hair and kind eyes and a clipboard. 

“Are you here for the passion special? she asked.

“Yes, I’d like three pounds.”

“Oh dear, I’m sorry. We have a limit of two pounds per customer.” The woman smiled at her. “But that’s okay. Two pounds won’t last you as long but it’s just as potent.” Then the woman looked at the clipboard. “I have to screen you before we can sell you the passion at the sale price. State law.”

“That’s okay,” she said. She knew this part already.

“There are five questions. Don’t worry about the perfect answer. It’s not really a test.”
She nodded. 

“The first question: do you have experience with astonishment?”

How should I answer?, she thought. Should I just say ‘yes’ or does she want to know specifics? Keep it simple, Brady had told her so many times. 

“Yes,” she said. “Quite a bit.”

“Good,” the woman said. That is a definite prerequisite. If you don’t know how to be astonished, the passion won’t work. We have people come back looking for refunds even though we told them upfront no refunds. We want to make sure about the astonishment.”

She nodded.

“Next, do you have any physical limitations?”

Oh dear, she thought. What does she mean? Should I tell her that sometimes I am frozen in place or that when it’s the best I cry? 

“Do you mean am I healthy?” she asked.

“Well, kind of. Passion is powerful and it moves quickly. We want to be sure you your body will hold up.”

“Oh yes,” she answered. “I’m more than fine.” She almost laughed out loud at that. My body is definitely more than fine, she thought. In fact,  passion makes me stronger. 

“Okay, good.” The woman leaned forward, just a little.

 “Question 3: Do you understand that passion is a natural resource and must be handled with reverence”?

This question caught her off guard. She had spent what seemed like all of her life seeking answers to so many questions and never once had she trounced on reverence. She was upset with herself that her hunger too often governed her choices, true, but she knew reverence.

“Yes I understand,” she said. Her voice dropped and the woman noticed.

“This makes you sad? the woman asked.

“Yes,” she answered. Oh what the hell, she thought. Why not say. 

“I’m here because I’ve been unable to afford passion. When I saw it was on sale today I couldn’t pass it up. It’s awful to live without it. It’s one thing to never have it because then you probably don’t know. But to have passion, to feel it overtake you  and then lose it, that is very difficult.”

The woman with the grey hair let go of her pen and put her hand over the clipboard.

“Honey, I wish I could give you three pounds. But I can’t. I can only give you two. It should be enough. I have some concern that your sadness might dilute what you hope for. This is not a guaranteed product. It requires abandon, in a way. You know?”

“Yes, I know,” she said. She looked directly at the woman. Wild grey hair and kind eyes. “Is this organic passion” she asked her.

“Yes, the woman said. “I’ve used it for many years. It’s never let me down. But when you’re not sure I’ve found it’s best to start with a small dose and let it build up.”

“How so?” she asked.

“Well,” the woman said, “Obviously, the recipe for physical passion is the best. Oh my god. Pity anyone who has not felt that.” She smiled. “At first I didn’t know about other passions. Marshes with ponds and cattails. Foxes at the horizon. the right kind of telephone ring. You’ll only need two tablespoons to get to that kind of passion. That’s what I mean. Two pounds will last you.”

But I don’t recommend starting with fireworks, if you know what I mean. That can take up to a cup and if you choose the wrong person, that could even void the sale. And we can’t give refunds.”

She nodded. Thank you,” she said. 

“Two more questions, honey.”

“Sure,” she said.

“What do you know about astral projection?”

It was her turn to smile. “I know where you’re going with that question. Out of body, definitely. I treasure that. I could be swept up and tossed into the middle of the universe and my last feeling would be total mindful peace. But I know how to come back too.”

“Oh that’s important. To come back. God is in the details.”

The woman leaned toward her again. “Last question. Do you know the policy on sharing?”

“Yes. No passion without sharing.”

“That’s right. And that seems to be tricky for a lot of people. Passion is such a private thing, after all. But a conscious attempt to keep it to yourself doesn’t work. There is some community required. Otherwise, it’s just a transaction. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” she said. 

“Okay, take this receipt to register number four. Oh wait, do you want paper or plastic?”

Finally confident that two pounds on passion at the sale price of $ 4.99 pound was now hers, she spread her arms and grinned wider than she had since Brady went to grad school.

Ma'am,” she said. “Neither. I’ll tuck that passion under my breastbone and I’ll carry it with  me right now, past the broken fire hydrant across the street, past the snow cap hydrangea in front of the fire station, past the little dog with one eye who wags when he sees me. I”ll carry my passion with me under my breast bone and I will use it freely. Even though I’ll save some for the earth to move right under me.”

“I know you will, honey. I can tell it’s working for you already.”

“Yes,” she said. “That could be the sixth question: “Do you know it kicks in as soon as you are ready?”

“Have an astonishing day”, the woman with the wild grey hair told her.

Oh yes, she said. Oh yes oh yes oh yes. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

I Think This Is Funny

This is my lickity split version of Crayon Canyon, unfinished and made possible by a coloring session with 7 year old Mr. Ryan. Everyone knows that even in a desert canyon crayons don't grow in one straight row like this, but then again, at least they're standing tall and proud and colorful.. :^)

Which brings me to the point of this post: I am  writing and I am querying. This means I am sending out inquiries to book agents and publishers for several of my present and past manuscripts. Crayon Canyon is part of my silly Dr. Seuss-like children's book--a rhyming story written by me-who-does-not-write-children's-books. 

One of the submission guidelines gave me the idea and the literary permission to goof up my query letter if i wanted to. So I did. This is the part where my resume was requested:

I’m a writer who knows how to giggle and rhyme
Dr Seuss is my hero much of the time.
I’ve written a story of 800 words
That grown ups might think is a little absurd

It’s about boredom and the way children can feel
When it’s rainy and dreary and nothing feels real.
Then magic takes over and a new world appears
filled with colors and canyons and a forest of cheers.

My background is counseling, helping people too blue.
I’ve published one book, not three and not two.
My story’s in stanzas, lines bundled in fours
Most words are one syllable; here and there maybe more.

I know how to market and have fun with young minds.
I'm steady and ready for promotional grinds.
Thank you for weighing if my story's worthwhile:

Please spare it, if worthy, from your very round file.

So the query's been sent and to be honest, it's fun just waiting to see what happens next.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014


"There must be those among whom we can sit and weep and still be considered warriors."
Adrienne Rich

WARNING: a serious post...

Okay, I admit it: life is hard, the world is a mess, community has broken down, sentient beings suffer.

With all my being I hate to say this. I am by nature an optimist and I am a fortunate person. But two things I can choose to ignore, but at what cost?

The first is I am now old enough to know that the unexpected can happen in a flash, and it can be bad. I know I could die--unlikely but possible; that illness or worse could befell someone in my family; that there are more reasons for low grade constant stress than I ever thought possible back in my innocent childhood when my biggest worry was Joanne Vinci being mean to me.

The second is that so many parts of the world are at war; so many children and families scarred by terror and dislocation and death and loss.  And so many animals--those happy elephants from the circus and those entertaining dolphins at Seaworld and those stray dogs who stay together and those soft rabbits, skinned alive--all these things I once quite naively thought were alright most certainly are not alright.

I am at a point when I have very little to complain about. I don't have to work, although I do and I will. I am emotionally sound and wise, although I sometimes am swayed by pettiness. I am physically healthy, even with my titanium knee and cantankerous back (and, okay, extra weight). I have a family--children, even,-- great friends, a vacation home by the sea, an active and creative mind, the time to write and draw and tend to a garden. 

What shall I do about the elephants and the dolphins and the dogs and the rabbits?  And the missing children and the children in Syria? What shall I tell my mind when I have so little to personally worry about? How shall I spend the time I have and how shall I reconcile that that time is here and now and that time means showing up and doing something I think is good.

I am not writing this as some cathartic exercise. I am writing this because I don't think I'm alone when I ask these questions. 

A good thing I can do for myself, my community, my planet--is to contribute positive energy whenever and wherever I can, and to avoid or lessen negative energy wherever and whenever I can. That sounds so corny but it is true. 

A world at war doesn't diminish the natural beauty of the world or the fact that there are people who do terrible things and thank god there are also people who do wonderful and brave things. Sometimes it's the same person doing both.

I am going to write again. I've begun. If no crisis turns up, I am going to see how much of a writer I can be.

Thanks for listening. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Little Love

"Hello Gram!"

"Gram, hello!"

And with that, at 7 am on Sunday morning, I know Logan is standing in the pack n' play in my office, awake and ready to start the day. He greets me with a wide smile and he tells me his pj's and the pack n' play are all wet. We wash him up, put on new clothes, and he pulls a chair into the kitchen so he can stand beside me as I think about breakfast.

I don't think I have ever written about Logan. He is one of the two 'littles' in Jess and Mike's family. His older brothers, now seven and almost five,  have slept at our house many times and I have delighted in  counting strawberries and coloring elephants with them, but not so much Logan. With two active brothers, Logan arrived as an astute and easy going observer. 

Only recently, because he is now almost three and he is talking--able to say whatever he wants and needs to--that I see with full force his charming and very smart personality. Only recently do I feel like the grandmother I want to be for him. 

At breakfast (out of necessity--where the heck is his sippy cup?) I put his milk in  a grown up cup with only one handle and he is delighted to sip that cup without spilling. He carries plates to the table, with my guidance, holding them with two careful hands. He pushes three little tables from the living room to the hall, where he puts his favorite game atop of one and two toy cars on the others.  "Don't touch, Gram, okay?" he says. 

"No Logan, I definitely won't touch."

I now have four grandchildren. That fact alone is amazing to me. I will know them for the rest of my life and I will watch and participate in so many wondrous developmental changes for each of them. Baby Reese will talk one day, and finally a girl who will have her nails polished blue without an askance look from her father. Logan will make his talents and interests clear, and I will show him acorns on the ground and how to plant a lollipop garden. Drew will remain a perfectly balanced tough and gentle little boy who doesn't fail to hug and smile and you could talk and listen to him all day. Drew calls me "grammie' with a grin.  Ryan will strive to know everything about everything, admitting to nothing that he doesn't know, with an intensity and intelligence that often surprises. I wonder how long he will let me rub his back and pull his hair in those moments when he quietly relaxes. 

Maybe it's weird to say this, but the depth of my love for these children is a surprise to me. Oh I knew I would love them, but THIS love…it's deep and permanent and natural and expansive.

Maybe I'm surprised because I love my daughter Jessica so much. I would take a bullet for her no questions asked. I didn't think it was possible to love her children as much as I love her.

Love must be funny that way. 


Friday, March 07, 2014

A Rhyming Time Little Whale of aTale

My first week with a clean slate did not end well. I made it one blissful day before JB got sick (again) and worries about her health and crept back into our otherwise hopeful lives. 

I did not take the intrusion graciously. 

Today things seem to be calming down and there is an open weekend ahead. So I'm trying for calm once again. :^)

Meanwhile, I have managed to begin preparing queries for my Dr Seuss-like children's' book. The publisher I want to approach encourages "unique' inquiries. So, following the lines of my story, which begins like this: 

1. Cold rain fell like ice cubes outside our front door
We sat on the couch just watching it pour.
What else could we do on a wet rainy day?
What else could we do if we wanted to play?

2. We could color some spots on the walls and the floor
And we could draw an elephant all up the front door!
Oh no no not even--our mother would frown
If we drew on the walls or the door up and down.

Following this silliness, I have drafted a query letter that goes like this:

I'm a writer who knows how to giggle and rhyme
Dr Seuss is my hero much of the time.
I’ve written a story of 800 words
That grown ups might think is a little absurd.

It’s about boredom and the way children can feel
When it’s rainy and dreary and nothing feels real.
But magic takes over and a new world appears
filled with colors and canyons and a forest of cheers.

My background is counseling, helping people too blue.
I’ve published one book, not three and not two.
My story’s in stanzas, 80 lines into fours.
Most words are one syllable; here and there maybe more. 

I am told that the market for children's book is so competitive that perhaps one manuscript in 900 is chosen for publication. Those are depressing odds! But I'm at the stage of one-step-at-a-time. Hell, I'm just glad the story rhymes!

Wishing each of you a super fine weekend. 


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

A Bird's Eye View

I took the top photo, in my yard last spring. The bottom photo is from an iPhone application called waterlogue. It costs $ 2.95 and it turns iPhone photos into different choices of watercolors. With a click or two, I am having a great time playing with this. I think it's damn awesome.

I can't seem to blog as often as I want. This means I can't seem to write as often as I want. 

But I'm now hopeful. Today I finished a consulting report that took months. And for the first time since the holidays, since my knee replacement, since my Mother's move to a nursing home, since I left my therapy job--I have a clean slate.

Until further notice, and further notice will of course happen, it will be up to me to decide what I do. I have my Dr. Seuss rhyming story to shop around, my novel from hell to keep editing, my garden to dream about. 

But I'm still unfamiliar with myself alone and with free time. I've aged this year: since the surgery I see pot lines and weariness on my face that I keep hoping sleep will erase. I don't move with my desired bravado. And, I'm thinking more these days about my life ahead.

JB and I will move to Provincetown when my Mother "goes." (A friend used that term and my throat caught when she said it). I hope (pray) for  a closer relationship with my daughter and her family but I'm not sure how, and not sure if she even has time for that. I want published accolades, even when I wrestle with my vanity, I want that. I want a body that vainly struts, which is pathetic since I eat Boston cream donuts. I want to do nothing and everything.

I am in transition yet again. Anyone else?

Even as I write all this, I am at some kind of peace these days. I understand that kindness and gratitude honestly make things better; they make me better. I know knowing is currency for the days ahead.

Tomorrow, my first day without absolutes, I am going to talk to my friend Lori, finally, and then I am going to …..

I don't know.

thanks for coming by.