Sunrise, Sunset, the Moon, the Stars and My Dog


2013-01-20 15.05.19My breath is visible and a cloud of steam rises from Tetley’s pee as he lifts his leg over a pile of leaves. I look up at the brilliant blue sky promising a beautiful day. I follow the flight of a little bird as it bounces through a shrub with golden leaves – the last foliage left in the wood. Yesterday’s wind cleared most of the leaves and now I shuffle through them as I follow my sweet old Cairn Terrier down the street. He pulls me forward then stops, lingering a long time to smell a suspect rock. So I stand and look around, listen, fill my lungs with fresh air – my initial grumpiness about getting forced out into the world earlier than I wanted fading. Like most of us, although I’d love to, I rarely get to loll about in bed past 6 AM and it’s now just after 8 on a Sunday – a little later than our usual circling of the neighborhood.

2013-01-20 15.06.19

Multiple times a day, Tetley leads me to moments of meditation. He gets me OUT. Even when I’m cranky or the weather sucks. And so I see the sunrise, the sunset, the moon and stars, the passing flock of geese honking through the sky, rabbits, and once even a coyote. He gets me closer to the subtle change in the season, I speak with my neighbors rather than just waving at them from my car. I watch the light, hear the bird songs. We sometimes go to the beach in a neighboring town where he can climb on the jetty in search of rodents and I watch the tides, hear the waves, smell the salt air. He greets strange dogs and I talk to their owners.

Tet color profile

Tetley makes me move when I’m inclined to hide at home, not leave the couch. And once outside, there is no purpose but to be there with him and see the world around us.

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In Praise of Dark Mornings and a Vote Against #DaylightSavingTime

Tetley shoots out the door ahead of me, barking at shadows cast by streetlights and a waning Moon. Dark mornings extend my dream state as I move almost immediately from bed into the street with a coat thrown over my pajamas, a hood pulled over uncombed hair. Recently my breath is visible in the chill.

tetley in leaves

Last week Venus, Jupiter and Mars gathered each morning like a gossiping trio on the Eastern horizon, a bonus for my early ritual of searching the still-dark sky for the glow of planets, lingering stars, a sliver or a some part of the Moon. Seeing these wonders gets me thinking about being on planet Earth, part of an extraordinary balancing act and the thought simultaneously dizzies and centers me. Breathing, shivering in the cold of a dark morning, I feel intrinsically part of the magnificence – one of billions on this incredible, flawed place in the universe with other spinning planets and stars.

The night sky at morning gives me a bigger jolt than any cup of caffeine, setting the stage for my day – a glimpse of something bigger than myself before I get sucked into daily requirements.

We turned the clocks back last night. I’ll miss my mornings in the dark.

How do you feel about Daylight Saving Time?

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Wondering About Belief



As people flock to catch even a glimpse of Pope Francis during his visit to the United States, I wonder about faith. The lackadaisical religious training of my upbringing (4 years of Catholic School) is long gone but I love this remarkable spiritual leader as he rejuvenates the conscience of the church, of all of us, demanding we pay attention and act against injustice, poverty. How can we not be moved? He gives me belief in humanity – a good place to start.

Because of too many recent deaths, I have been in different churches celebrating and grieving lives of those gone. It’s good there are places to do this. I flailed after my husband’s death – not knowing where or even how to hold a service but thought it important to have one for my daughter, for me. I remain ever grateful to the Unitarian Minister who guided me with poetry in his beautiful church. But it was mostly him that drew me – the congregation was too white and wealthy to become my community.

To some extent, I envy the assurance of my wise friends of faith. They know where to turn to make sense of the world, they find comfort believing their loved ones are welcomed by a benevolent God after death. It’s a beautiful story but I don’t feel that belief. During prayers, I bow my head in quiet reverence and appreciate the hum, the music, the silences of the faithful I stand with and envy the ready community to be found in a church of shared faith. But I don’t share it.

And I wonder – how others feel so sure in their belief and why I don’t. I joke about being a recovering Catholic and that recovery takes a lifetime. But even that gives more weight to the impact my early childhood religion had on me. I was done early. I went to Catholic school until 3rd grade and in 4th or 5th, had the misfortune of encountering a mean priest in confession. Other than funerals and weddings, my family no longer went to church nor did we ever pray or discuss faith. It didn’t stick.

Even as I join with others in church, knowing I am welcome, sure my questions would be embraced, I feel a foreigner who doesn’t quite understand the language. I’m glad for the visit, sometimes, even exhilarated by the energy, the force of many voices raised together, the easy support they give each other, the love offered. I listen carefully and sometimes join the prayers waiting to be moved, for them to feel like anything more than a recitation and –  am not. So there you have it.

Yet, walking home from a love filled memorial service in a beautiful old church yesterday evening, the moon appeared huge and bright on the horizon. My heart filled and I felt the wonder of the earth beneath my feet spinning through the universe.

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Let Them Pass: August 1992 at a Croatian Checkpoint

Desperate scenes of refugees arriving by the thousands, crossing oceans, deserts, fields and forests carrying little beyond the weight of their terrible stories in search of safety and life, remind me of an encounter I had 23 years ago a few months after I began working with the UN in Croatia. 



Yvetta and I replayed the highlights of our weekend as we sped through Zagreb on our way back to Knin, the dusty, sanction-bound town in the Serb held part of Croatia where we both lived and worked. Yvetta headed the UNHCR office responsible for relief and refugees. I was assistant to the civilian chief of Peacekeeping of Sector South in Krajina. Yvetta always ran a bit behind schedule but today she was late because she’d picked up a Satellite phone. It was August in 1992, pre-cell phone days and this new equipment would allow her to make phone calls from her car. It was worth waiting for.

Now it was Sunday and time to go back to work, back to what was for now, our home. We’d enjoyed our two nights at the Intercontinental Hotel – luxurious hot baths, television, busy streets and even Chinese food. We were heading back to our UN jobs in dusty, desolate Knin where electricity and water were intermittent.

We knew that after 5:30 we might be refused at the Croatian-Karlovac checkpoint so Yvetta stepped on the gas of her little UNHCR issued Honda. A few days earlier, we’d had to sweet talk our way through the checkpoints to get out and now we might have to do the same to get back in to the UN Protected Areas so we could make the three hour drive back before dark.

On Friday, we’d had to charm Serb soldiers, Kalishnokovs slung over their shoulders, red faced and rheumy-eyed from drink, to let us pass. “Nema problema” they said. As far as they were concerned, they’d move the mines blocking the road but we needed to ask the Croatians to move the ones on their side. Yvetta unfurled the UN flag from her car and stretching the cloth between us, we marched down the deserted road, lone marchers in a surreal parade past ghosts in burnt-out buildings, once shops, past houses once filled with normal life. Stepping carefully between and over the anti-tank mines, we walked the equivalent of a city block through no-man’s-land, giggling nervously at this weird spectacle no one could see, glancing at broken windows, into the dark rooms.

rubble 1

Two Croatian soldiers stepped out of the small hut, looked at us like we were crazy, gave a cursory glance at our blue UN Passports and agreed to move the mines. We flinched as they kicked the heavy green metal out of the way while we jogged back to the car. Yvetta navigated us over the pitted road and through our now hysterical laughter, we called “Hvala!” to the soldiers, giddy with the insanity of our lives in this war zone.

Two days later and we were late again. Jokingly we wondered if we’d have to make that march through no-man’s-land but the Croatian soldiers let us pass with barely a glance. About half way to the Serb checkpoint, we were met by a cloud of dust and another car with flapping UN flag followed by 3 civilian cars and a UN truck driven by two Peacekeeping soldiers from Nigeria.  In that strange landscape of the time, civilian cars were more of a surprise than the Africans on this road, since sanctions meant there was no fuel for the local population. Paolo, Yvetta’s colleague from UNHCR Sector North pulled his SUV up beside us.

“Can you help?” he asked. “One Bosnian family has no papers. The Serbs let us through but I’m not sure the Croatian side will.” Paolo,  a soft spoken Italian with thinning hair, wiped the sweat from his face with a handkerchief.

We looked at the clobbered looking car behind him – a muddy Yugo with a worried looking father driving, his wife beside him and two little girls in the back. The man’s knuckles like white marbles, clutched the top of the steering wheel. Paolo told us, they were Moslems fleeing Bosnia and he was determined to get them through to Zagreb – they could not be protected in this Serb-held area.

Yvetta, swiftly turned us around and led the way back to the Croatian police we’d just left.

Our little convoy pulled up close to the checkpoint and all of us UN staff gathered to give the impression of greater authority. I glanced at the little girls in the back of the Yugo – they looked between 6 and 10. One had such thick glasses her eyes appeared larger through the lenses. They sat quietly. The mother, hair pulled back in a scarf, stared straight ahead through the windshield towards Zagreb as if it might disappear if she looked away. The father looked like an accountant with his business style slacks and button up shirt, too big over his slight frame. He opened the car door and stood there, not taking his eyes off Paolo and Yvetta as they spoke with the authorities who held his families fate in their hands.

“Without papers? No guarantee, no enter Zagreb.” the soldiers shook their heads and shrugged almost sheepishly.

“Wait! I have a phone!” Yvetta surprised herself with the memory. “Can he call someone? What if he calls and you can talk to them and they tell you they will come get him?”

The police shrugged again. She waved the father over to her car and all of us gathered around, our UN badges dangling against the hood of Yvetta’s car.

“Is there someone you can call? Do you have a number?”

The man nodded and said in English, “I think.”

The phone shook in his hands as he dialed the number. We all watched him carefully, collectively willing someone to pick up at the other end. We heard ringing. “Halo?”

“Damir! I’m in Croatia!” he exclaimed, “We are here! We are here!” Through sobs, he spoke with his relative then passed the receiver to one of the soldiers who asked a few questions then handed the phone back to the man.

“Hvala, hvala! We are here!” the man said through tears. His guarantor would come to Karlovac and they would be allowed to pass. The father burst into tears and embraced his little girls who’d climbed out of the car and now stood beside him. The mother collapsed on the dashboard in sobs. Yvetta and I dissolved in tears.

I wept for miles, overwhelmed by relief, by sadness. I wept at the desperation of that family, their lives packed into a car. What had they left behind? What had been taken from them? And they were lucky ones.

Multiplying by numbers and gravity the glimpse I had of that family’s story by thousands now fleeing their homes, saddens me. Watching barbed wire fences erected to block their movement as they stand at the border, enrages me. I think of this family – just one family – and the relatively tame drama of their simple crossing back in 1992 when things in Bosnia were just beginning to simmer into what would become an explosion of violence, harassment, of war crimes, massacres. I think of that one family as I watch the current scenes of families, fleeing the rubble of their lives, trying only to get across to safety however they can. Mostly, they seem to carry nothing but their children. No one takes to unknown roads with infants unless they are desperate.

I conjure the face of that mother staring at the horizon imagining a better life, willing it to be. The father, ill equipped to navigate a war, only knowing one thing: to get his daughters to a place they could safely sleep. I recall the bewilderment magnified in the glasses of the little girl in the backseat of the car. And how we all wept with relief when word was given that they could pass. That’s all they wanted to do – to pass, to join the caring friends, relatives, who waited. I think of them now, 23 years later, while watching thousands of refugees trying to cross borders to a better life. They do this because there is nothing left to leave behind. I would do this too. I would not take my eyes off the place I needed to get to. I know better than to think such a fate is impossible for any of us.

  • There are so many organizations that do great work but I send my donations to MSF (Doctors Without Borders) as I remember the great work they did in the field and also, most of their budget goes towards programs – not administrative costs. Check out Charity Navigator to see how the NGO of your choice rates.
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Into Every Life Some Rain Must Fall

blue skies

Night is the only time the sun stops shining here in Connecticut. Summer has been perfect – unless you’re a plant or a reservoir.

We need rain. Leaves rustle too crisply in the smoke scented breeze. I fill the bird bath twice in a day.

I’ve had a longtime crush on California – imagining myself living where days are mostly bright and Winter means wearing a sweater. But these relentlessly dry days make me think about the long drought out West and I’m re-evaluating my fantasy. How terrible to live under threat of fire the likes of now in California, Washington and beyond.

No one has told us to curb our usage around here and I’ve watered the Peach trees and Hydrangea bushes to keep them alive – although this one may not make it.


For no particular reason, I’ve sacrificed this pot of Pansies and this Petunia.

petunia and pansy

I’ve ignored the plants out front – too far to drag the hose and anyway, the earth is so parched, water just flows down the slope into the street.



I definitely am neglecting the lawn. I don’t fertilize it so our grass is never our neighbors’ envy. Whatever. We’re not a golf course.


Without nurturing, beloved plants quickly wither in these summer days so glorious we exclaim to each other in agreement how great the weather is. I miss summer storms.

Without clouds, without root soaking rains, life fails.

I see this as a metaphor for my own life. I’ve prided myself on my abilty to move-on past shitty times as quickly as possible, for being adept at pulling my socks up and scurrying quick to brighter days. I don’t get depressed easily. I don’t cry much. I’m good at detaching from unpleasantness – something someone recently suggested to me might be masking denial. What is sacrificed  when we fail to acknowledge, to sit in the darkness with sadness, to really feel pain and loss? Embracing emotional darkness and clouds can provide as much nourishment as the rains — allowing us to experience everything more deeply. We need these roots to feel the richness of love and joy. Without it, everything turns to dust and blows away.

Some days must be dark and dreary. Let it rain.

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Hawks and a Star


Driving through the hills of Northeast Connecticut on Wednesday with my windows open, I inhale the delicious scent of country. My sadness at leaving my daughter for her Junior year at college is dwarfed by the comfort of knowing she is safe and happy. This world feels right for her, she thrives here – so my ache is sweet. As the road turns into a highway, I step on the gas and a huge bird swoops toward and then alongside my car, keeping pace with for a few seconds. I struggle to keep my eyes on the road while watching this incredible creature. I think with a loaded heart: this is Molly’s father checking in with me as our beautiful girl begins another chapter. I smile through a blur of tears.

Friday morning, I arbitrarily decide to take the highway to work. This is a crazy stretch of I-95 but I go in the opposite direction of most commuters so the drive is usually a breeze, shaving a few minutes off my easy 15 minute trip. I speed up on the entrance ramp, behind the car ahead of me ready to join the river of heavier-than-usual traffic. A car crazily brakes to almost a full stop on the highway – blocking us in. With a screech and a groan a tractor trailer slams on its brakes as does the car on the ramp ahead of me. I pull over to the right  and for a moment, we are all stopped, stunned there is no crash of metal. Hearts pounding, through a cloud of burnt rubber from the truck’s brakes, we all move again, continuing our journey. Trembling as I picked up speed, I see a hawk sitting on a post beside me and let out a sob.

Last night I met up with a friend of more than 40 years. A rare visit because tonight, it is just J and her dear mother. As a teenager, this house and family provided comfort and warmth from my own angst filled home. Later, J and I drive to the beach to look at the full moon, to watch the light of it dance across the Long Island Sound. I shared with J, like me – a widow too young – how 11 years after his death, I sometimes miss my husband. The fury I long felt about the torment caused by his addiction, his suicide have faded. J responded how this is a beautiful sign of healing. Driving away from the beach, my eyes on the road with the horizon dark beyond the trees, I tell her about my hawk encounters and as I do, a shooting star drops like a huge firework above the tree line.

This morning, I sat outside in the early sun, legs tucked beneath me, phone to my ear sharing with my beloved sister these mysterious moments and JUST as I am am telling her, a hawk (yes, really) flew low through the branches, flapping wings audible as it passed over. Okay — I get it! I am not alone.

I’ve been thinking about faith recently, marveling how many people stick with the beliefs of their childhoods, or perhaps they have a faith renewed or maybe they discover it for the first time. I claim none of that. I wonder a lot. I was moved recently, by the certainty of believers I witnessed in a church last week, their belief such comfort to them, so huge it burst through song – in wails of grief, shouts of joy belted out in full confidence and better pipes than I’ll ever have. I am silent when prayers are recited by rote on cue, not moved to join in, the words sounding hollow to me.

I feel something bigger than me in this universe but I can’t name it. I search for and sometimes find my own words, my own prayers – or no words at all spoken to…? Maybe it is these spirits of the dead who have loved me, who I have loved. Molly’s father keeping an eye on my daughter, on me? My Grandfather – perhaps the dearest man I ever knew? There is certainly mystery, wonder – and I am reminded this week by a hawk, a star. Alert to and grateful for all signs of comfort, of love, of reassurance that I am not alone.

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A Summer Sunday Morning

tree top

I love the light of a Summer morning, remarkable through the greens and yellows of the trees. And the sounds, different on a Sunday. While not visible from here, the noise from I-95  is constant at this hour, just a hum from a stream of mostly cars with rare moments of quiet when no one seems to be passing. So much anonymous humanity passing.  Going or leaving home? So many imagined stories vibrating through the trees.


A cool breeze blows and for a moment, feels almost Autumnal. As if on cue, a Mourning Dove coos – a sing-song call of melancholy as Summer days disappear, the sun shifting closer towards the opposite end of earth. I used to feel desperate when the warmth and light began this slip away but have grown to appreciate the change. I don’t like being cold and prefer the light to dark – but savor the warmth of my home, the fireplace and longer hours to read and reflect. There’s something about the warmer months that makes me feel like I must DO. And I like DOing nothing quite a bit. Well, not exactly nothing – but sedentary things like reading and writing. Winter is good for that.

Summer is a time to get things done outside and we’ve been productive around here recently. Four trips to the dump last weekend, taking away piles of rotting wood and leaves that sat in corners of our yard for too long. It’s been dry, so there’s always watering to be done – a task I enjoy. And my Zinnias are lovely.


From where I sit now, I look past cluttered table (remember – it’s a good time for outside tasks!) to 3 windows. To my left I look out at a new Hydrangea planted last weekend. Straight ahead, onto our little porch and the laundry line. A perfect day for drying clothes in the sun – the air dry and fresh. I’ll get a load in soon. We’re just high enough to catch a breeze and so many trees surround us that we have our own little microclimate a few degrees cooler than anywhere else in the neighborhood. To the right, out the living room window I see a branch of the Butterfly bush that could use a good session of deadheading and through the canopy of leaves, a patch of still Summer sky.



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About Sorry


“I’m sorry” Molly said as the LOWES cashier flipped the large box she’d just plopped down at the register, UPC code facing down. Only moments earlier my daughter said sorry to a guy in Appliances when they almost bumped into each other. He was coming at her as fast as she was him so no ‘fault’ was involved. Molly’s not a pushover, just polite. But hearing her say ‘sorry’ twice within 5 minutes set off an alarm bell in my head so I said, to her “Please don’t be a woman who apologizes for everything.” The cashier, a young woman about Molly’s age, piped in that she also says sorry too much. We laughed and joked how of course men don’t do this, not like we do.

According to this study  “…it’s not that men are reluctant to admit wrongdoing, the study shows. It’s just that they have a higher threshold for what they think warrants reparation.”

Eh. I don’t know about that. I think it’s deeper and not about ‘thresholds’ and reparations, more like a reflex. Where the hell does this come from? Why are we ‘sorry’? If anything, us gals have some apologies due us for a litany of insults and injustices, don’t you think? (Donald??)

In a fantastic, funny-but-true Amy Schumer skit of a few months ago, a panel of extraordinarily accomplished women apologize non-stop. (Watch _’Inside Amy Schumer’_ I’m Sorry_ at New York Magazine) In June there was this piece on the Opinion Pages of the New York Times. Do a search of “Women apologizing” and you’ll turn up plenty more.

I’ve been paying attention to when I’m apt to say ‘sorry’ and to whether I am indeed sorry. I’m afraid I often use it passive aggressively. ‘Sorry, but I just can’t…’ while flouncing around and washing dishes someone else’s dishes. That sort of not very nice thing. (I can be such a bitch)

As Sloane Croasley wrote in the New York Times piece linked above, “It’s not what we’re saying that’s the problem, it’s what we’re not saying. The sorrys are taking up airtime that should be used for making logical, declarative statements, expressing opinions and relaying accurate impressions of what we want.”

But what about when we actually want to ask someone’s forgiveness?

When we fuck up, there’s a right way and a wrong way to apologize. And I’m not talking about putting the box down so the UPC is hard to reach or because we are about to collide with someone or because we need to complain about service or our food or someone else’s mistake. I mean when we’ve been unkind, rude or said something we shouldn’t. When we’ve done wrong.

When apologizing for real, don’t say sorry and then try and expand and explain ABC because of XYZ (i.e. the Brian Williams apology) That doesn’t count. Sorry-not-sorry sucks. Rather than owning lousy behavior this says: I’m really right.

Of course there’s not guarantee we’ll be forgiven but just asking for it can make us feel better as long as we do it sincerely. For me, this requires letting go of my righteousness, stepping into the shoes of the person I’ve hurt. From this place, it’s easier to move on from the anger of conflict to peace. Hopefully, (if you have a sweet child like I do) the aggrieved can do the same. Molly had to call me on my XYZing a few times (you know us Mothers are always right) before I realized how lame an apology I was delivering. It doesn’t work.

And sometimes, the best apology and most beautiful flowers in the world won’t work either. Just because someone asks us to forgive them does not mean that we must. Anyone who has lived with a drug or alcohol abuser knows the hollowness of a too often repeated apology. Proof is sometimes the only way towards healing and forgiveness. Sorry.

How many times a day do you say sorry?

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If You Know What’s Good For You…


I get up at 5:30 on weekdays and about 7:00 on weekends. I’ve been doing this for the past few years so I can write for about an hour before taking care of required life business. Too often, instead of writing I do the following:

  • Water the garden
  • Pick blueberries from the yard (okay, this is lovely, right?)
  • Check emails – mostly from Talbots, Lord & Taylor, J. Jill, Real Beauty (??) – I never shop at any of these places
  • Look at Facebook posts
  • Read other people’s blog posts
  • Clean the kitchen
  • Grocery shop before the weekend hordes descend
  • Read the newspaper
  • Cook
  • Laundry


Yes, a few of these are necessary, constructive and nourishing things to do. But this is supposed to be my writing time. Why don’t I honor that? Why am I distracted by nonsense?

If I write at the very beginning of the day, I get to walk around all day with a happy secret practically humming inside of me. It’s beautiful. I can physically locate that good feeling right below my ribs. Yes, as I sit here I feel like I’m charging my Solar Plexus – like I’ve got a little Sun in there glowing brighter as I put words to page.

Only in writing this today did I realize the physicality of what happens to me when I write, that I can actually locate a place in my body (besides my stiff shoulders) where I feel this. Of course I had to step away for a minute for a little (distraction??) online research and found this on

Solar Plexus Chakra – Manipura

The Solar Plexus Chakra is a center of personal strength, learning and comprehension. It guides you through life by creating a strong sense of self, setting personal boundaries and building self esteem and willpower. The ability to bring change into your life and to the world is born within this Chakra.

No wonder starting the day by writing feels good! I’m feeling my Solar Plexus, baby!

So why do I procrastinate rather than head directly to a beautiful accessible place? Do I need to look at those pictures of Amal and George Clooney instead? Really?

Yes, I do shit like that. Do you?

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Beside the Ohio River: A Kentucky Retreat



The stillness of the water, steady as socks around the tree trunks is deceptive. Simmering through the leaves, the sun makes a green sauna of where I stand searching the water for a hint of lapping tide against the sloping banks.  Stepping carefully across the slippery mud, I dodge the poison ivy thriving even in these flood waters. Swollen by this summer’s rains, the Ohio River looks benign from where I stand. But 20 feet out, huge logs and unidentifiable debris speed by, the only indication that this is no lake. The current is treacherous enough to swallow the strongest swimmer. In fact, in recent days entire homes have been washed away by these waters.


A massive engine rumble and I know before I see, a loaded barge passing – long, flat beds piled high with construction materials. This one dirt, the next, huge cement blocks. A tugboat at the end, merrily pushing the load. It stirs my heart, this timeless glimpse of industry and I watch it pass like a parade.


I love a river – the stories they carry, the sense of coming and going, both a force of life and destruction. Growing up, the Hudson was my river. I sent my adolescent angst against the tides of immigrant history, imagining relief and romance with the promise of the ocean and a world beyond my Bronx Streets. The Ohio is a different beast – an American river connecting and sustaining working communities. I stand in Kentucky looking across at Ohio. West Virginia, Indiana, meeting the Mississippi in Illinois leading through – not just an exit and entry – as much a life-line as an artery.


Up at the house are friends who also traveled here from other states. But this river holds our history from decades ago. We studied with a sculptor here in Kentucky, sharing art and our lives. When we can, the women of our group, (we christened ourselves Studio 70 Sisters) meet in summer for what we call, our retreat. We began these gatherings more than 5 years ago when our kids were old enough that leaving them for a week inspired minimal guilt. We reconnect with the ease of family, sharing wine and food, delighting in catching up on each other’s lives.


By the second day, a spot is sussed out, easels set up, paints and pastels arranged and a magical quiet descends. These gatherings are not just for gabbing – there is work to be done! Like alchemy, there is a sweet understanding and common language creating best circumstances for creative working, thinking, being. Quiet, of course and a sensitivity to space that is remarkable and rare. Any of us can peek into a room and quickly sense whether someone wants to be left alone.


This year we are at Paula’s – a stunning spread of fields bordered by river and railroad tracks. At night, the rattle of trains rush by, so close to this grand old farmhouse that our beds shake. Like barges on the river, I find this romantic and easily go back to sleep imagining the lives whooshing past this dear spot. I feel simultaneously a sense of being in the center of things and in the middle of nowhere.


It is good to be back here after so many years even in this sweltering humidity. The barge has passed and the rumble fades as the load heads towards Cincinnati. Within minutes, a lone Tug chugs into view heading in the opposite direction, relieved of its load, it is pushing easily upriver. I think of us gals – especially with kids, how we forded our way through the currents of our lives, keeping precious cargo steady on course for the more than twenty years until we could (almost) let go. And here we are again. As I watch the tug chug back from where it came, unencumbered and light, I navigate my way carefully up the muddy banks for dinner with my friends.

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