Marking the Years Together

Last week I celebrated a decade birthday. Yes, Medicare sign-up is just around the corner for me. I’m good with that. And because I have no (knocking wood) aches and pains, I am not moaning about aging.

Birthdays give us an opportunity to be seen in the spotlight just briefly enough to be fun. When complete strangers find out it’s your birthday they acknowledge you. They take a second look, maybe give you a piece of cake, a pat on the back, buy you a drink. Even if only for a moment, there’s a fuss over you. It’s your day. I wager most of us like that.

Personally, I appreciate these milestones – a launch into what’s next in this adventure? Yes, yes, I know death is hovering even closer now, but we don’t know when we’re going to croak anyway – and as the inevitable approaches, I worry about it less. Maybe when my number comes up I’ll be clinging like a parachutist to the edge of the plane changing my mind about the leap, but for now I’m okay with imagining the end. That too is part of the great mystery of nature and spirit. Certainly another, ‘what’s next’? Don’t get me wrong, I love life. Even through the shit times, I have loved life. Now things are good for me so I’m very glad to hang around sharing the joys and more reluctantly, the sorrows of this planet. I’m happy to mark my birthday and I love how my community, past and present, rallies round to cheer.

Facebook sucks in many ways but I enjoy the cyber-celebration. No buying booze or making food or cleaning the house before or after and nobody feels like they have to buy you a present. Friends from across the decades and oceans reaching out with a wave to say – hey! I see you! I remember you! I love you! Who doesn’t like hearing people tell you that they care about you, that they miss you, that you’re important to them? It’s like a little mini version of a memorial service except we get to hear it all. Every message and greeting I received made me remember time spent with each of you, wherever and whenever that was. All precious memories and connections.

Of course I wish we could beam up into each others lives to share a cup or a glass and a proper catch-up. When this is possible and happens, I cherish such celebratory meet-ups more than I love a party. To really talk rather than the too-short chat possible at a party. I like parties too but prefer the one-on-one where it’s quiet enough to really look at and listen to each other. To hear about joys and sorrows, share memories, to remember why we decided to stay in touch in the first place. To spark, for an hour or two, that fire again.

Truth is, there is more of an urgency because with the passing years, days seem to disappear and losses come faster. It shouldn’t be so hard to see the ones we care about but distance and schedules and inertia get in the way. I am grateful for what seems an incredible and rich abundance of people I love and feel loved by. Here’s to all our birthdays – to celebrate that we were delivered into this world and then, remarkably, connected, came to like and maybe love each other. What magic!

Thank you for reminding me on my birthday about all this love – for the gift of our connection somewhere in this incredible journey we’re on. At the end of the day, at the end of the night, it’s all about that connection, all about shared love don’t you think?  I’m grateful for and nurtured by yours! XO

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In Praise of Rivers and Walking (Dogs)

We were dog-less for at least a year after beloved Tetley died. Without a dog, I rarely wandered around the neighborhood, particularly not in winter when I’m inclined to be a slug. Now we have Rufus. We think he’s a chihuahua-scottie, pretty darling and an easy, sweet dog. While sometimes I complain, I’m grateful he gets me outside even during a recent cold snap. Walking behind his jaunty strut, him pulling a little too much on his leash, it’s hard not to smile.

Molly and I have worked out an informal labor sharing system. I do morning, she does night walks. Either one of us tries to get a good long one in during the afternoon. The morning one is a quickie to just take care of business. I throw a big coat over my pajamas and let him sniff around the street while I yawn and wake up, thinking about my dreams, clearing sleep from my lungs with deep breaths. These days, the sun is just about rising and the morning planets hanging around on the Eastern horizon give me their last twinkle before fading into the day sky.

The good long walk is when I get home from work, if it’s still light enough. I need it as much as Rufus does. My favorite walk is along the river because there are no cars and because – river! I love rivers – the sense of always coming from and going somewhere. As I write, my cheeks are cold because I just got back from a jaunt on this sparkling, bracing winter day. The long way takes about 40 minutes if you factor in Rufus’s pit stops and smell checks. Today I took pictures.

The mouth of the river leading into the Long Island Sound is not very far, so high and low tides are quite noticeable. The tide was out when I got down to water and I thought about hanging around to hear what I suspect might be some nice cracking sounds as the incoming tide shifts the ice around. One very cold winter,  I lived a block off of Riverside Drive in Manhattan and heard, from blocks away, the ice cracking on the Hudson River. Strange and alarming, almost like little bombs going off, and then exciting to be reminded of the force of nature even in that metropolis. Today I settled for the crack and crunch of a little frozen puddle beneath my shoe.

I like this walk as much for the industrial stretches as the glimpses of bird life, rose bushes and a well placed bench. It’s real like this diverse city. The Norwalk river is a working one and there are even a few barges. Not like the monsters that travel the Ohio River – another river I once lived near and am fond of. There are stone lots and an asphalt plant, stretches of the river are blocked by huge piles of dirt and machinery. Some people think all this is ugly and I guess it kind of is, but I think it more interesting than an endless view of condos even as I enjoy the benefits of their lovely open walkways. I like the grittiness. And I’m not alone. I don’t know if this huge machine works but Osprey come return here every year. See the glimpse of last year’s nest where the antenna is?

There’s also a rowing club along this stretch. I’m sometimes tempted to try this. I like the way sculls move through the water, swifter and more elegantly than my little sea kayak. In the warmer weather this stretch is often filled with rowing kids – white and wealthy judging by their private school swag and the fancy cars waiting to pick them up. It seems a shame that the neighborhood children who live by and pass over this river daily don’t get to do this stuff. To see their city from the water, sometimes making that exit into the salty mouth to the sea. What a great way to ignite imagination and a sense of possibility. Too bad it’s mostly a rich-kid sport. I think about this when I pass the big boat tent and docks. Today I didn’t see a soul.

Up river there isn’t much ice. I’m not sure why. Deeper water? The tides are not as apparent as down river. The pathway stops here so Rufus and I leave the riverbank, cutting up through the grounds of an historical museum. One day I’ll go inside but it’s never open when I pass. There’s a well maintained herb garden in and a very old cemetery. I like to read the fantastic early American names. Here it turns pretty and feels like New England. I salute these old souls as we pass through. I think about time and the land and the river. They were digging up the road nearby here not too long ago, revealing cobblestones and trolley lines. From my car I never would have seen these details, this glimpse of the past.

Back to the streets we cross the busy one to the quieter roads of the neighborhood. Sidewalks disappear when we get off the main drag so I have to stay alert. But that’s the thing about walking: I pay attention to everything. The weather, the seasons, the neighborhood. I chat with people who have other dogs or want to meet Rufus – he is very friendly. Like the tides, a great ice-breaker.

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Where We Are

A question constantly hovering in and out of focus in my life has been WHERE? Right out of college, my focus was a place to live as an artist – where could I work as little as possible so I can make my art? I ended up in Kyoto. As I crept towards thirty, my diminishing egg count led me out of Japan in search of where I might find a man to have a family with. This led to an interesting, adventure filled quest. I can tell you, years in NYC did not  lead to success on that front. It took a few more years until the ‘where’ of raising a family – with the man I met and married in Sarajevo, would pop up.

The first year of Molly’s life, we moved 4, yes, 4 times – from her birth in Italy, 2 different parts of Croatia, arriving in Connecticut just days before her first birthday. We came here mostly by happenstance and here, I still am.

This year I enter my 6th decade and guess what question has been popping up? I am not alone in this: the topic is a hot one with my peers. Where to grow old? It’s happening so we let’s figure out if we’re in the best place to do that the way we want to. As much as any of us have control over this. This is certainly something of a first world problem and I say that only with some snark. Here in our wealthy nation, there is only a paltry social system and many of us do not have generations of family to absorb us with love and care. So how much better are we, really? It’s a lot to burden one kid with though I know she loves me, I hope not to need much besides just that.

So I think of the practical stuff: can I continue to afford living in the wealthiest corner of Connecticut? Mine is a charming old and drafty house but still and probably forever, owned more by the bank than by me. The guy who came to clean my ancient oil burner the other day, wished me luck that I might get another year without it breaking down. ($8K for a new one?) Will this house still work for me as I get creaky? Like the bedrooms and one bathroom at the top of the stairs. Yeah, I can’t believe I’m even thinking about this stuff – but there you are. (Are you too??)

Anyway, is this where I still want to be? Mostly I think yes. Although this span of Connecticut is crowded, the landscape suits me. There’s a good mix of accessibility of urban and nature joys including the Long Island Sound minutes away. I am not a mountain gal, I need to be close to a where salt water meets sky.

But wait a minute! Am I really ready to give up the notion of myself as being worldly and adventurous? There’s something about anyone who has ever led an expat life – a longing, an itch even – that never really goes away. Adored friends who live very far away and places across the world that somehow still feel like home – I want to see and spend time with them all again. For me that includes Jenny now in Australia, friends in Kyoto and cafes in Italy. Granted – those places are gorgeous and easy to love – but both also felt almost weirdly familiar when I lived there. I felt like me there, as if I had history there – even before I really did.

What’s that about? Why do certain landscapes, places feel like ours? I am not a desert person but my dear friend Paula feels a spiritual connection to the Southwest. When we drove across country in our early twenties, I witnessed her recognition, her joy when we got to Taos New Mexico. As if she’d arrived home although it was her first time there. I could barely breathe in the arid heat and while impressed by the beauty, was happy to get back on the road and our journey further West. And when we arrived in the San Francisco Bay area where we spent the summer, I fell in love with it. The light made me feel like I was in the South of France and every breath of air flavored with eucalyptus and brine, felt nourishing. I’d live there – at least in my memory of place.

But in the end (pun sort of intended), as we move in and out of our days, we’re all always here aren’t we? I find that a comfort – don’t you?

Did you search for your place or did you just land there? Where’s your ‘where’?

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Mouse Tales/Tails


Last Sunday, my intention was to write about food. It was so rainy miserable outside and I looked forward to puttering in the kitchen and maybe share my recipe for homemade granola. I was excited by the idea of venturing away from my usual dark subject matter. Ah, best laid plans!

Oats tossed in coconut oil and molasses toasted in the oven, filling the kitchen with cinnamon smells. I might even have been humming Christmas songs when… I discovered signs of mice. Apparently they’d been enticed by the regular bounty of Rufus’s dried food he often leaves untouched for hours. A veritable dish-worth was tucked between the napkins and dish towels in one drawer, another stash in the tea drawer, a few nuggets hidden in the hollow handle of the hand mixer. Gross. The day turned into pulling drawers apart, washing dishes, cutlery and gadgets. The kitchen remained a mess for days with counters and table covered with drawer and cabinet contents waiting for the all-clear.

The only kind of traps we had were the horrible sticky ones but I still set them leaving one of the uglier napkins in a drawer as a decoy lest they suss out the danger. Monday morning I could hear the frantic scratching sound from the living room. Yay! Success! Ugh! I couldn’t just let it die slowly, possibly gnawing one of it’s limbs off to escape. I went into the garage and found a small garbage can and in the bottom of it was a rock. Thank you Rob who collected them and left them all over the place like this one, miraculously appearing — I needed to sink the mouse. He once called me in tears because a bird had smashed into his windshield on the highway but he had no problems murdering rodents.

I woke my accomplice Molly, who with much commentary and horrified noises, gamely accepted her assignment and pulled out the drawer. Don’t look at it! I said as she followed me out the door to the hose spigot. I filled the garbage bin, then, with more ewing and squawking and fighting back tears, she dumped the sadly, pretty-cute mouse we were torturing, into the plastic bag with a rock in it. I pushed it down into the water. We both went off to work a little late and a little traumatized.

Of course, there’s never just one. The next day I found more droppings where yesterday there had been none. My local hardware store had more sophisticated and humane traps that kill quickly and you don’t see it – well, except for the tail of number 2. Not moving though so we knew he’d been squished.

It’s been a few days and so far, the other trap is still empty and there’s no scat in sight. Rufus will have to learn to eat when the food is out.

When I was a conscious child and then a teen and maybe for a little bit longer past that, I was a vegetarian. I could not bear to see dead animals and would shake my fist at cars with deer carcasses on top of them during hunting season. I have become more hard-hearted. I do not weep when the neighbors’ dog makes a dent in the groundhog population. Sometimes I find carcasses – maybe just a fluffy tail with a bit of skin – of one of the millions of squirrels who entertain Rufus. I get a shovel and feeling a little like I might throw up, I fling it into a nearby wood. I am still thrilled by sightings of live deer and saddened by dead deer killed by cars although they are pests in this corner of Connecticut. But I’m tough and practical in my old age. Everything has an expiration date and every day that we live, we draw closer to our own. Sorry-not-sorry about those cute brown mice.

So much for not writing about death and darkness. Hey, and let me know if you want my granola recipe!

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Seasonal Darkness and Light

My bedroom is lit with a glow I rarely get to see since I leave early for work during the week and on Saturdays, I’m hurrying out to yoga class. Only on Sunday do I get to linger in bed and enjoy the sun slipping into my room. But today, with a cup of tea at my side and the dog (after a brief walk in the bitter cold) cuddled up beside me, is Thursday – Thanksgiving – and I am appropriately grateful for this sweet opening to the day. It’s quiet. No one seems to be going anywhere so even I-95’s perpetual hum, as constant as a river, is strangely silent. Tip: if you have to go somewhere for Thanksgiving leave early on Thursday.

Molly and I walk across the street later to share the day and what is always a magnificent meal, with neighbors who are like family. This is the holiday I like best – getting together to share a meal, no gifts – just eating with pleasure and catching up with each other and the now adult, kids.

This year, I’m strangely possessed by a festive spirit, at least as far as decorating goes. I’m usually a grinch about it all but I’ve already hung wreaths with twinkly lights. After 21 years of grouchiness I’ve blamed on the exhaustion of working in retail-overdrive, I am ready to embrace it, viewing the enhanced energy of the season as excitement rather than hysteria. I don’t know what’s come over me and can’t guarantee it will last.

Not to over-analyze my jolly-ness but I am feeling the contrast of last year when I was so damn sad. From the time of Rob’s death in October through the end of December, I felt swallowed by grief that surprised me with its depth and weight. We had not spoken in a few months. He’d moved out nearly two years earlier after I finally admitted that I could not pull him out of his darkness. I’d already lost him, I knew that – yet the finality and awfulness of his death hit me like a gut punch.

Someone mentioned it was probably cumulative grief. His demise in so many ways mirroring my husband’s. A year later I am happy, although the roller coaster of grief, anger, bewilderment and questions have not completely disappeared. Time on a couch gave me some insight that helped me but what ultimately cracked my mourning darkness last December, was almost weird.

Wanting to spend the last of my FSA money, I scheduled a series of acupuncture treatments. The woman talked non-stop, asking me questions about myself that she seemed to already know the answer to, rattling off facts about nature, time, space peppered with Eastern wisdom while slipping needles into different parts of my body. I told her I was aching because the man I’d loved had died so sadly. She threw up her hands and said, ‘Are you kidding? He’s having a grand time, off celebrating in the universe! He’s fine!’ And somehow, I wept with what felt like relief, and I believed her. Like that, the cloud of profound grief lifted and has mostly, stayed away.

A year later, with the shift of planets and reminders of the past, bringing me into the darkest days of the season, I hang little lights around my house, burn a fire in the stove, and embrace the night, marveling at the moon through leafless trees. I imagine all that joy happening in the distant universe and I feel it right here.

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Doing Something

Last Sunday, I knocked on the doors of complete strangers. I left the warmth of my wood stove because I’d committed to volunteering a few hours to getting the vote out. I headed out to the Democratic Headquarters where the young and eager staff downloaded an app on my phone that gave me a street-by-street map of the neighborhood I’d be canvassing. Addresses included names, ages and voter affiliation of residents – with each house on my app with at least one Democrat resident.

At 3:00 PM it was cold and windy in the unfamiliar neighborhood assigned to me in my city of roughly 88,000 residents. The streets were empty and at house after house almost no one opened the door. I get it. I hate when people ring my bell. It’s never a good time. My mind, my beliefs, have never been changed by a stranger on my doorstep. So what was I thinking? Honestly, I acted on the impulse that I had to do SOMETHING.

Being the good girl that I am, I did my best to complete my assignment of visiting about 40 houses. A few doors did open and politely accepted my literature for the local Democratic candidates. One man was even enthusiastic. But finally, when one of the rare white guys on my list with an Irish name and a hipster beard to boot, opened his door just long enough to bark “NO!” at me before slamming it, I packed it in. Knocking on doors is not for me.

However, I did take the day off so I can drive people to the polls on election day.

I did this in 2016 and delivered 7 votes for Hilary. Unlike door-knocking, it was very rewarding. The voters were fellow city residents, all 70 and older, all but one, African American. Almost all of them had moved up from the South in the 1950s – part of the Great Migration. I loved hearing their stories.

A man without any teeth, reeking of alcohol but wearing a crisp, white shirt was beaming after casting his vote. He told me it was the first time he’d ever voted. I couldn’t help asking how he missed voting for Obama? But I could guess. His wife had trouble walking and remained in the car (FYI: ballot will be brought to the car by an election official if you can’t make it inside) and we’d been commiserating about loving someone with addiction. And anyway, he’d voted this time. I wonder will he bother again?

Another woman reached into her pocket when we got back to her place and I was afraid she was going to try and pay me but instead, she handed me a mint wrapped in plastic. I kept it on my dresser for months – a sweet reminder of the inspiring part of that day and that despite the outcome, we’d done our part.

I won’t knock on doors but after these past two years, after this awful week — eleven Jewish elders including Holocaust survivors, gunned down with an assault rifle while they gathered in their synagogue, two African Americans – both beloved grandparents, out shopping, murdered by a racist in Kentucky, assassination attempts made on leaders and journalists — I must do something. This is a fight for our lives. Let me know if you need a lift to the polls.

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Traveling and Other Ways to See the World

I used to consider myself a good traveler, moving comfortably through the world while sleeping in less than stellar beds, trying all different foods, figuring stuff out on the fly. While I’m not quite ready to give up that notion about about myself, I am a different kind of traveler than I was in my youth. I know this because a week ago I returned from a 10 day trip to Ireland and England and I’m still exhausted.

Some things are easier now – like packing. My vanity has diminished over the decades so I have no problem limiting my wardrobe to the bare minimum. For this trip I focused on comfort and warmth although I confess I did sacrifice a little comfort for slightly cooler looking shoes. A small wheeled carry-on with wheels was perfect for everything.

This trip was really about reconnecting with family while having some adventures with Molly. A return to Ireland for the first  since I was 18 and a first visit for Molly. She fell in love with Dublin. A highlight was connecting with family I had not seen since crashing their wedding more than 40 years ago. Thanks to social media, we’d reconnected in cyber space and thanks to this trip, our connection became real.

On our first rainy day we wandered the streets of Dublin clocking 10 miles of exploring, stopping in to dry at Bewley’s – a sweet haven where we were welcomed with beautiful tea, pastries and a seat by the fire.

The next day, we took my cousin’s suggestion and took the Cliff Walk – a stunning, sometimes dizzying hike along the coast. As we walked through Bray towards the start of the cliffs I scanned the houses for a garret where I imagined I might live. I could look out at the changing horizon and write, paint, walk by the ocean everyday. The cliff hike was magnificent. A fierce wind blew (appropriately) at our backs, pushing us forward past fields of heather, massive stones, the waves and yes, even a rainbow.

In London we stayed with Jane, one of my dearest friends who lives almost at the end of the North Line. Again, I imagined myself on a longer stay in another garret. Her husband came in from a run and told us about the cows he passes on his route. Yes, somewhere close enough to the thrum and jazz of a great city but far enough out to meet a cow. All on the tube line.

We headed to the West Midlands where we met up with the girls – Neil’s older daughters – who I claim as mine too, Molly’s sisters – and the rest of the beautiful family they’ve created between them. Our beautiful family. This trip renewed that for us – especially Molly. Raised across the ocean as, but not really, an only child. Watching Molly embrace her sisters made me weep. It had been 7 years.

Walking through the little villages that look like a set out of Midsomer Murders (I imagined where the bodies might be found as we passed through the woods alongside the river) I thought about watching the weather change across the fields and always having good tea to drink.

So here’s what I figured out from this trip – my first travels in a long time. I prefer to spend time in one place. I like to get to know a neighborhood with a space to claim as mine for a time. To look out a window at the same view but for the changing light or maybe even a season or two. That’s how I have fallen in love with other places around the world. I made them, at least for a time, my home.

Kyoto was my longest consecutive stint so I will always long for her streets, the river, the mountains – in that strange homesick way that is unique to anyone who has ever been an expat. Italy is another place I long for (because who doesn’t?) since it’s where I gave birth to Molly. I certainly lived like an Italian as I clocked in the weeks with other new mothers of premature babies in Brindisi Hospital. Thinking about my time in Bosnia and Croatia – is like remembering a lover who broke your heart – a bit painful – such a profoundly complicated relationship. It’s where my star-crossed marriage began appropriately amidst that awful war and so much sadness. I should, I want to – visit one day again, to see that land in peace. But it would be a journey, not a vacation. I need more than 10 days for that.

In fact, I think my days of Eurail passes and quick nights in cities, are done. Infatuation is fun but falling in love takes time and that interests me more. Here’s something that captures my imagination — being an international pet and house sitter. A way of being elsewhere in the world. That’s the kind of traveler I am now. One who wants to stay put for a time, to get to know a community, maybe a language, the food, the people. What better way to do that than walking a dog?

Sometimes I think that armchair travel is enough for me and there are certainly many great books and travel blogs. One of my favorites is Picnic at the Cathedral This smart and hysterically funny writer and her husband (a good sport) go to quirky places, take great photos, and include food, drink and room descriptions. For adults on a budget. That would be me.

What kind of traveler are you?

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Books Can Save Us

I have an abundance of riches in reading material. Stacks of both purchased and advanced reader copies of favorite or new authors stacked in towers around my house. So how to pick what to read next? What do you do? I’m a sucker for a good cover. And of course I have favorite authors who I eagerly snag from the Advanced Reader pile at work. I am always hoping to understand my beloved ghosts so am drawn to titles relating to addiction, book-love, memoirs and weird places. That’s how I picked up The Lost Chapters: Finding Renewal and Recovery One Book at a Time by Leslie Schwartz. It checks all of the above.

Leslie Schwartz is a novelist and an addict who spent 90 days in a Los Angeles County Jail for a DUI. Before starting her sentence she chose the books she wanted to read and her family sent them to her weekly. They arrived just in time – as books seem to do. Her list included a book of Mary Oliver poetry, The Woman Warrior, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Unbroken, Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart (a book that saved me more than once) and one of my all time favorites, A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

“…Ozeki showed me, that time in its clock-on-a-wall form, and story as linear, like a yardstick, is often the least truthful way to talk about or understand its passage. All stories can only be re-created by collapsing the past, the present, and the future. We are not what we do, like a resume. Jail, for all its insidious horror, its odious dehumanization, its dependence on the momentum of days, of counting along the agonizing progress of calendars facing ever forward, is really a place that embraces no time, for which there is no clear understanding of its movement. In jail, time moves backward and forward, It is without symmetry, a starfish with five arms and no central brain. We are not, it turns out, simply our crimes or our release dates. We are where we came from. We are how we change. We are what we remember, and what we don’t remember. We are the moments that pass, and also the moments that stand still. Time is not our enemy but our puppet. Memory is prophecy and what we think is real is just an illusion.”

This passage from the Lost Chapters is followed by one about addiction and finding recovery. It’s gutting and beautiful and everything I know from being on the other side – loving the addict. Neither of mine ever made it through the window.

“Forcing compliance doesn’t work. It inspires retaliation and usually still more relapse. This is why rehabs and jails don’t work. And yet, addiction itself keeps the addict enslaved, unable to want to stop. I am still in awe that I was granted that tiny window somewhere along the line and even more baffling that I slipped through it.”

I love this book. The author does not whine. She owns her shit and her privilege and shares her outrage and the injustice and failures of our system – particularly for women of color.

I’ve always adored books. Walking into a bookstore even after 21 years, I still feel the thrill of all those books! New titles! And I believe that books can really save us. I am not alone. My friend Nina was devastated after the early death of a beloved sister and found comfort, healing and JOY by reading a book a day for a year. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair.

And have you heard about this extraordinary man, wrongfully convicted as a teen? He spent 17 years in prison — and how reading saved him. Here’s his story and here’s the organization the remarkable John Bunn created A Voice 4 the Unheard – with the goal of bringing books and literacy to prisoners. Note the story of the corrupt and wrongful conviction doesn’t figure on his website. Is it books, is it reading that allowed this man to not be bitter after 17 years wrongfully imprisoned!?  He humbles me.

Forget the deserted island – these are tricky times. What books would you want in prison?

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This Fever I Have

Sorry I’ve been away so much these last months. It’s like I’ve been a little ill. You know, like when you have a low grade fever but it’s not enough to send you to bed but you wish you could climb between the sheets and sleep until it goes away? That’s the way I’ve been feeling. For almost 2 years.

But I’m not sick. I’m angry. That’s what’s heating me up, twisting like a knot in my chest. Fury is constantly simmering in my system, sometimes spurting and steaming like my old radiators in winter. It’s not a good way to be and I don’t know how to shake it. Worse, I am unable to turn away from the wrecking ball. I regularly check the latest news of the backward steps or outright assaults on civil rights, the environment, healthcare, veterans, poor and working class people, babies separated from their parents (last count – over 500 children still not reunited), outright racism, that continues everyday under this dreadful administration.

The problem is, I don’t know what to do with my fury and sometimes, like here, it’s been debilitating. I lack the political eloquence and appetite to write about it. I am a sputterer and that’s not useful. Engaging in these discussions with someone who is (so bewildering!) on THAT side, is like road rage – it’s a no-win situation. And too late. He was successfully installed and the damage is well underway. So if you had a role in this, I’m pretty damn mad at you too, I won’t lie. I don’t know what to do with that either.

So I haven’t been able to share my usual passages of lovely morning walks or garden capers. I’ve been paralyzed and that makes me mad too. Over the years this blog is where I share meditations, stories, challenges of my life. It’s a personal blog – begun as good practice for maybe one day (or not) putting my memoir out there and I have come to love it. It’s lovely to have readers and people who cheer me on, to say, yeah – I hear you. Being part of a cyber blogging community feels rich. And, it gets me writing regularly. That is until I hit this roadblock.

But the hell with it. Today I’m going to put this out there and figure out where to go from here. That’s all we can do, isn’t it?  And come November — let’s vote the bastards out.

Posted in Grief and Healing | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

Day Lily Days

The shelves at the garden center are almost empty. Only leggy, ragged plants with roots packed into their little containers like leftover spaghetti, remain. I wonder what’s next? Chrysanthemums and pumpkins? But wait – it’s only early July! Time for harvesting lettuce, maybe tomatoes if you were an early planter without greedy pests. At my place, there’s basil tucked behind my makeshift fence. Also arugula, thyme, oregano and cilantro. I picked up some new guinea impatiens – never my favorite but the only flower the groundhog ignored. I buy five at a dollar each. Walking out of the greenhouses past the once full space, now left only with boxwood and hydrangea shrubs, a tiny knot of sadness pinches my stomach.

I was in high school when I first registered a sense of melancholy around time. Not because I was happy and wanted the days to slow. I recognize now, I had long felt invisible at home and this probably inspired my urgency to capture my days. I filled journals, recording events, scrawling my angst and bad poems. I drew. I played music. Art gave me a sense of being able to own time. In creating, I felt I might claim it, especially in writing. It was as if unless I wrote about something in my life it did not exist.

The faded flowers in the picked over garden center triggered a flash of familiar poignancy. The sweetest seasons pass in a blink. In every perfumed inhale of lilacs, pinch of mint, nip of autumn air, I sense the finite. How many chances at such pleasure we get remains a mystery and too many I have loved long lost theirs. I want the daffodils of spring to last a little longer but appreciate the day lilies, rough and ready in a sprawling, wild summer explosion, a better reminder to seize today.

Posted in Seasonal Musings | Tagged , , | 7 Comments