Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Thinking & Blue Books

When I was in college (I won’t type how long ago that was. The last time I did, it made me woozy!) a long, long time ago, my Dad and I were having a conversation. I can’t remember the topic, but my Dad truncated the talk by telling me: “You think too much.” Geez, thanks Dad.

At around the same time, I was taking a final exam in my Philosophy course with Dr. G.. I loved philosophy. I found the courses challenging, exciting, and stimulating. Dr. G. distributed the exam questions and the classic little “blue books”. My classmates and I set to work. One by one the other students handed in their blue books and drifted out the door. I continued to write relentlessly. Finally, I was the only one left in the room, but there was still time remaining on the clock. I continued filling up blue books. Dr. G. cleared his throat and said: “Lee, you can probably stop anytime. I’m sure you’ve already got an A.” I asked him to please let me finish. I really needed to get it all out on paper, because there was no way I could discuss all this at the Christmas dinner table! He let me scribble away.

Now, I no longer have any more blue books. I have a blog...

Molly Left Us Much Too Soon

Molly Ivins passed away today at the age of 62. She had been battling breast cancer for several years. She was brilliant, bold and brave. Molly was articulate, independent and progressive in her writing and always spoke the plain truth to those in power. Our best tribute to her memory is to be brave ourselves and speak truth to power. Always.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Two Responses

A little while ago, I received a compliment about my blog, which referred to the manageable lengths of my posts. I do try to keep them tight, pithy and readable. I don’t want people to pop in and feel daunted by a lengthy missive. Sometimes my restraint is in an effort to carefully parse my words on topics that are too private or too painful to delve into fully.

The subject of James Hillman’s “The Soul’s Code”, and one’s daimon could certainly be the focus of an entire college course. But perhaps yesterday, with my relative brevity, I did a disservice to the topic of daimon.

I say this because of the question posed and posted today by barbie2be: “What does one do, if their daimon has never cracked open and exposed the who or what that they are supposed to be?”

Two responses (neither particularly brief!):


I am many “things”. The first batch defined by relationships: daughter, sister, aunt, wife, friend...

I am other “things” by traits: intelligent, quick witted, funny, introspective, loyal, articulate, a problem solver, creative...

I have been lots of “things” by job: cheese seller, CCD teacher, lector, researcher, desk clerk, housekeeper, drug and alcohol counselor, auditor, data entry clerk, administrative assistant, census worker, educational specialist...

I have been interested in many “things” which have ranged from passing fancies to passions: crafts, art, singing, candle making, sewing, writing prose, writing poetry, cooking, photography, paper making...

I am all of these “things”. I am all of these myriad facets of me and more.

My daimon lies within me and therefore somewhere within all of these “things”.


The “important question” I referred to yesterday, was in response to my agonizing over not “being a something” and the feeling of “never having found my daimon”. I was bemoaning that I hadn’t emerged into this world asking for a violin to play or adding great sums of numbers using my baby blocks. I was frustrated that my daimon had not manifested itself in me as PRODIGY - caps lock, writ large, with a brilliant white follow spot on me and my “gift”!

Then my husband Chuck asked me “What if you already “met” your daimon, and you just didn’t realize it?” He asked the question as if my internal daimon was a traveler on the road, but it was the right question. I immediately zoomed back to that moment in the playground as I wrote my first poem. When I say zoomed, it was a feeling akin to the way filmmakers used to show time moving with spinning newspapers and pages of calendars being torn off.

I chose to trust that extraordinary experience. Since that was the moment my mind zoomed back to, what could I connect to it? Words, language, self expression, feelings, creativity, writing, communication, poetry...

That day I made a contract with myself. I decided to write a poem every day for thirty days. I did. Then I re-upped for another thirty days. I kept that up for a total of 365 days. During that year I missed only a couple of days due to illness or travel. Some days I wrote more than one poem. Some of those poems were excellent, inspired. Some of them were decisively mediocre. After a year I stopped counting, but kept writing.

Will I ever make a living as a poet? Being the sole winner of PowerBall is more likely. Does it matter to me? I have decided that I want to be published (with ink on paper) in an established publication. In order to have a chance at that, I have to send out my poems - lots of poems, lots of places. I also want to incorporate more of my poems and prose into my artwork. But my poetry matters deeply to me.

So dear barbie2be, thank you for the question and for pushing me further. I do believe every one of us comes to this world with a daimon within. I fear very few of us have it emerge as PRODIGY. I think part of our journey is to keep seeking and asking questions. I think we have to allow ourselves the time to sit and think and make connections. I am also not convinced that one’s daimon is tied to how one makes a living. I also believe there is a goodly amount of trial and error involved. I mean I was a really good cheese seller. My Mom and Dad came and watched me make my pitch and my Dad was all choked up with pride. My manager wanted me to stay on and offered me a promotion with a raise. I like cheese and all, but deep down I knew I was not destined to be a cheesemonger or an artisanal cheesemaker. So I had to move on.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Two Moments

When I was about 12 or thirteen years old, I wrote my first poem. It was a homework assignment for english class. After school, I walked around our neighborhood and found my way to a playground which was part of an old public elementary school. I sat down on a rock and thought about the assignment. The far end of the playground was used by kids to cut through the woods to get from one street to the next. I began to write. Sadly for me, the poem is no longer in my possession. But I do remember the last few lines:

“... a child runs across
headed towards some special destination
I break down
It has won”

“It” was loneliness. I had friends at school. I had two older sisters and a young nephew. I had two parents and two grandparents. But as a very young child I had been incredibly shy. I knew what it felt like to be lonely, a little different or apart from others.

I handed in my poem. It must have been pretty good, because my teacher called my parents and expressed her concern! Mom and Dad took me out to dinner at a little restaurant in town. We sat in a round booth, with me seated between them. Initially, I thought we were just going out for a nice meal. It didn’t take long to realize something was up. After several questions about how I was feeling, they explained what was going on. I loved my parents. There was only one right answer: “I’m fine.” It was mostly true. My parents had enough on their plates without worrying unnecessarily about the emotional state of their youngest barely pre-teen daughter. So I reassured them that it was just an assignment to write a poem about an emotion - that was all. The sighs of relief as the tension washed away was I all I needed to confirm that I had said the right thing.

In James Hillman's wonderful and challenging book “The Soul's Code”, he describes the concept of one’s daimon. The daimon (or acorn if you will) is the very core of who we are meant to be in this world. Hillman contends we are born into the world with this daimon. Many years after I wrote that first poem about loneliness, I was asked an important question about my daimon. I was immediately, vividly transported back to that afternoon in the playground near my childhood home. I had continued to write poems and prose in the intervening years. But with the answer to that question, I committed myself to poetry in a new way. I allowed myself to write daily and to no longer feel as if it were selfish or an indulgence. I felt decisively free of all constraints to write from my heart, from my soul.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

No Cowardly Lions Here

This guy is no Cowardly Lion! He’s fierce and fabulous! I sense a theme emerging in my posts here: Courage! This golden beast guards the top of the Massachusetts building at the Big E in West Springfield, Massachusetts. I captured him digitally a couple of weeks ago, then manipulated the image in PhotoShop Elements and iPhoto. Over the last few days I’ve kept him on my computer’s desktop as a kind of talisman. A visual reminder of the Thoreau quote at the foot of this blog page: “"Nothing is so much to be feared as fear."

Once upon a time, not all that long ago, I lived with far too much fear. The kind of heightened awareness that leaves one jumpy and jittery from the tiniest provocation. Now most of the real life basis of that fear is gone. But I find that when I do feel fear stirring in my gut, it takes concentrated effort to keep all the old fears from rushing back in. Apparently the old fears are quick to employ Dorothy’s mantra: “There’s no place like home!”. But here in real life there is no wizard to seek out, no man behind the curtain to be revealed. The courage is in my heart. I’ve had it all along....

Friday, January 26, 2007


Today I am being bossed around by my poems! (Please see yesterday’s post.) I have been attempting to pick and choose from among the clamoring horde of poems I have written, tweaked, typed and printed. Some of them will be headed somewhere much warmer than here in the morning’s post. Lucky poems! But there’ll be hell to pay from those left behind!

They have yet to catch on that I’m trying to post to my blog, so I need to be quick. If you have ever had a mother and you want a good laugh go HERE! Then click on the answering machine. You can thank me later!

Gotta run....

Thursday, January 25, 2007

She Looks Brave

I am bummed out. I found out that some poems I submitted, were rejected by an established literary journal. For some reason, I had gotten my hopes up way too high about this particular submission. I had thought my work was a good fit with their editorial decisions. Apparently I was wrong. I actually cried when I read the news. Then I stopped crying. I remade my Submission Tracker Spreadsheet and in the next couple of days I will send some more poems out into the world.
My poems are braver and spunkier than I am. So they are insisting on being mailed off to as many reputable journals as I can rustle up addresses for! Wish me luck....

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I Wish...

Monday was “Blog for Choice Day”. It was also the 34th anniversary of the Supreme Court Decision known as Roe v. Wade.

In light of this anniversary I have a few wishes to state:

- I wish, that from this moment on, no woman would ever have to make the decision to have an abortion.
- I wish contraceptives, including the morning after pill, would always be readily available to all women.
- I wish that all young people would be taught age appropriate sex and health education.
- I wish that all young people would be taught that abstinence is a legitimate choice, at the same time they get clear information about all forms of contraception.
- And I wish that abortion would always be safe and legal and available to all women.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"Pitchers and Catchers Report in Three Weeks"

Living here, in the heart of Red Sox Nation, we had gotten used to losing. 1918 was a year more frequently spoken than anyone's year of their own birth! But then came the 2004 World Series Championship and our crazy mixed up combination of eternal optimism and permanent underdog status was shaken. But after two subsequent years without additional glittering wins, rings and Duck Boat Parades, we’re getting back to our old ways. Only now we say 1918 and 2004 in the same breath!

With all that in mind, it’s no surprise that after the nail-biting, frustrating, ever so close New England Patriots loss to the Colts Sunday night, we moaned in unison, threw our remaining snacks at the T.V.s and turned our thoughts to Red Sox spring training. Hence, the title of this post, contributed by, nay, insisted upon, by my niece Kate! She expressed her clear distress, dare we say anger and mourning, in a comment she left on my Sunday night “Two Books” post. Which, in light of the stunning success of the Patriots over the last half dozen years, may seem kinda nuts. But not here in Red Sox Nation, where our loyalties are fierce, our focus on sports unrelenting and collective depression just a single loss away at any given moment!

The last crumbs of the red, white and blue football shaped cakes have been eaten. The water cooler venting and monday morning quarterbacking is behind us. Now the Patriots fan paraphernalia can be taken down and our frenzied fan focus can be turned back towards the Red Sox. ‘Cuz truth be told, for some of us, even a Super Bowl winning Patriots season, just fills the time between one baseball season and the next!!!

:: Thanks Kate!

Forever Meets Fidelity

It’s lovely to be treated well. To find oneself being treated with dignity, respect and a degree of enthusiasm is also a wonderful thing. When a financial institution treats you like a millionaire as they are looking at a computer screen which emphatically belies that idea, it is delightful! Fidelity Investments always makes me feel like a queen. They’re not crazy deferential or obsequious, just determinedly service oriented. We’ve had accounts with them for well more than a decade and a half. We have also worked with several other big investment companies during that same time period and eventually left the others. We are now happily settled in with Fidelity and our financial life is easier and more streamlined.

Our meeting with the Financial Planner at Fidelity yesterday went well. We decided to answer THE question about the date of our deaths as age 95. Not exactly the 115 and 100 I’ve been insisting on, but at least it’s fiscally conservative and feels far, far, far away! In addition to dealing with THE question, we hammered out a lot of information. We’re still in complete control of everything, but getting good advice and using Fidelity’s computer programs to get a sensible plan in place. No one can give any financial guarantees, but we like being able to tap the research and resources of Fidelity. And then there’s that great service, where when we dial an 800 number, we always get a genuine human being to answer a question.

So we did our homework, pulled all the numbers together and entered them into the Fidelity program. Then we had an hour and a half meeting with a knowledgeable young man, who thankfully had a sense of humor! We stayed calm and remembered to breathe. As a result we’ve come away feeling more confident about our financial future. And deep down I’m still dreaming of forever...

Monday, January 22, 2007


I’m not a big fan of actuarial tables. I know they are useful, but over all of them hangs the notion of death. Because of that, it is like pulling teeth without anesthesia to get me to sit down with the financial planner, all because of the one question: “How long shall we plan to have your money last?” Umm. Forever? Try again. It isn’t even so much the fear of being penniless and homeless. I think (knock wood) we have enough safeguards in place for the “normal” course of events. It’s that creepily superstitious feeling of choosing the date of our deaths for a spreadsheet. Chuck and I are 15 years apart. I’ve always said he has to live to be 115 and I have to live to be 100. Then we die at the exact same moment, asleep in our own bed, our bodies still nestled together the way we have done for all the nights before that one. But the financial planner guy doesn’t know how to lock that into a spreadsheet. And I don’t know where to go to strike that bargain with any higher authority.

I’m fine with the fiscal part of the decision making. Mutual funds, Roth IRAs, diversification, small, mid and large cap investments, saving, and the miracle of compound interest - see, they just roll off the tongue. Sure, I worry about whether or not we’ve chosen the right investment vehicles, but we just do the best we can. The big stumbling block remains, well, death. Be glad blogs didn’t exist during the time we were working with our lawyer to draw up our wills and all the other attendant documents! But we came through that process just fine. Although we never did have to declare the date of our death during that process...

So today we will go to a meeting with a young man who has studied such things and we will lay bare our financial souls. I will try to breathe through any waves of emotion that threaten to overtake me. I will attempt to be detached and clinical. But I know I will still want to answer THE question with: “Forever?” I’ll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Two Books

Spending another day indoors, taking it low and slow, my mind was on books. I have two recommendations. The first is for children - although we really enjoyed it! We gave this one to our grandniece Alex for Christmas. It’s called “Children Just Like Me” by Anabel Kindersley and Barnabas Kindersley. It has photo essays of kids from around the world. We learn a little about where they live and go to school, what they eat, how they play, their families and what they wear. There are lots of great photographs coupled with interesting information. The one thing that could make it even better would be having even more countries and cultures represented! It gives a good overview and I would imagine would spark interest in kids to want to learn more.

The second is a fascinating little book filled with lots of unusual stories. It’s called “The Greatest Stories Never Told” by Rick Beyer. The subtitle is “100 Tales From History to Astonish, Bewilder and Stupefy”. It was published in conjunction with the History Channel. Each story is just two pages long and thoroughly illustrated. Most of them leave you saying: “I had no idea...” We’ve been reading one or two each night before bedtime. Yeah, we’re geeks and proud of it!
:: Enjoy!

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Today is cold - crazy, wicked, have to think about the wind chill, cold.
My cold is nearly gone.
Chuck is getting a cold.

we live in New England because we love having four seasons.
We just haven’t figured out how to love every aspect of all four seasons!

So today we are staying in, watching shows we’ve saved on the DVR, while we listen to the wind howl outside. As long as we can pull up another wool throw and our two cats curl up on our laps, we’ll be fine!

Stay warm and be well...

Happy Birthday Sis!

”Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Gail
Happy Birthday to you -
and many more!

Today is my sister Gail’s birthday. I hope she has a terrific birthday and that all her dreams come true this year! Especially that long anticipated move to Georgia! We don’t want her to be farther away, but we do want her to be happy, so Georgia it is! Love you Gail!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Project Linus

Today there was another tragedy in Massachusetts. One 16 year old high school student stabbed and killed a fellow 15 year old student. Two families shattered. The members of the school district shaken by the violence and the loss. I know it happens all over this country. I know a single death to senseless violence is too much. The local media covered the situation from right after it happened early this morning. It left me feeling sad and helpless.

That may be why a news report this evening about Project Linus captured my attention. Founded in 1995, it’s an all volunteer, nonprofit organization that makes handmade blankets for children, age birth to 18, who are in need. “Blanketeers” make blankets and donate them to local Project Linus Chapters, which are located in all 50 states. The blankets are then distributed to kids in hospitals, shelters or wherever the local chapter finds a need. Blankets can be quilted, fleece, knitted or crocheted. Some chapters may also be able to use new, unused yarn or fabric. Click on this Project Linus link to learn how you can make something tangible to comfort a child going through a difficult time. :: Wishing you all peace and comfort.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

It Takes A Village - At Any Age!

Everyone dreams of living a long, happy, healthy and independent life in their own home. My Mom tipped me off to a group of creative individuals in Boston, Massachusetts who have come up with a brilliant solution that ensures that ideal situation lasts as long as possible. It’s called Beacon Hill Village and they are creating a wonderful model for all of our futures!

The quick summary is if you are age 50 or older living in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, you can join the Village by paying a modest several hundred dollar annual fee. That entitles you to access a wide variety of concierge services through the nonprofit Village. If you need help with transportation, grocery shopping, cooking, plumbing, computer troubleshooting, housecleaning or almost anything else you can imagine, you contact the Village. Some services are free, others are at reduced rates based on the bargaining power of the Village. An added benefit is that all the service providers are carefully screened. Often, when individuals begin to need more assistance they (or their families) are faced with trying to cobble services together on their own, or they feel the need to move to retirement communities or assisted living facilities. This model is a long term solution which allows folks to enjoy living in their own homes, close to friends of all ages and still part of the neighborhood.

Both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab and the American Association of Retired Persons, AARP are looking closely at the Beacon Hill Village and are singing its praises. After only a few years in existence, the Village has created a guide to help other communities build on their model. This can happen in any urban, suburban or even rural area around the world.

Yesterday I posted about the virtual internet based community in the Blogosphere. The Beacon Hill Village is an elder community without walls. Except of course for the comforting and familiar four walls we wish to continue to live happily ever after in. :: Click on both of the links in this post to learn more!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Little Balance

Sometimes the news which flows into our home via television, radio, newspapers and the internet is so overwhelmingly disturbing, frustrating and depressing, that I start to hunger for “good news stories”. Occasionally the journalistic world provides those moments where I am brought to tears by examples of the kindness of a stranger to someone in need or groups of people mobilizing for a good cause. But those instances are often too few and far between to help offset the relentless stream of sadness and insanity which seems to abound in the world. It’s easy to start feeling down in the dumps. Sometimes we shut it all off, put on some music and turn it up loud. Sometimes we shut it all off, and fall into book where the author has kindly made it so everything works out in the end. The bad guys get punished, the heroes and or heroines are rewarded. We even get to glimpse the beginning of their happily resolved new life as we close the cover of the book. Happy sighs all around.

But lately I have discovered that there is an even more accessible source of proof of the basic goodness of human beings. I have found wide-ranging examples of intelligent people caring about not only their families and local communities, but about far flung strangers as well. Where? The Blogosphere. In the last few months I have followed a series of links to blogs all around the world and discovered folks creating beautiful art objects, cooking delicious dishes, talking about things that matter to all humans and sharing photos of the views out their windows. It has left me renewed. Sure I’ve stumbled into some blogs that remind me of bad television reality shows or the worst of the highly charged, vitriolic political sniping, but all I have to do is move on. Wow.

One click of a button and I am anywhere in the world. The world grows smaller and warmer. I come away from my blog visits around the globe feeling inspired and energized. The news still flows in. It remains what it is. We still sign petitions and call our legislators. The Blogosphere is not an opiate befuddling our brain. The Blogosphere is a community, a balm. It helps restore balance and perspective in our lives. I am surprised, delighted and grateful.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


"Anh-anh, ee-see, ooh-ooh!"  was one of the things my Dad used to say to my older sisters Karen, Gail and me as we were growing up.  Translated, it meant: "You girls had better calm down before somebody gets hurt!"  I want to say that it was just overprotective advice.  But I still have the tiny scar across my right eyebrow, as a reminder that it was true.  I was about six, Gail fourteen.  She was lying spread eagled, face up, in the middle of the living room floor.  She held one arm in the air while I held her hand and ran in circles around the obstacle course of her arm-leg-leg-arm-leg-leg..., over and over, giggling louder with every successful turn around her body.  Dad's "Anh-anh, ee-see, ooh-ooh!" should have been enough for me to put the brakes on.  Instead, I ended up proving the wisdom of his warning, by tripping over "arm" and going forehead first into the corner of the coffee table.

Dad would also tell us:  "All I want is ladies!"  That usually came if we were laughing too loudly or said something approaching inappropriate.  Dad said that one to us a lot.  Dad wanted Jane Austen era demure from us.  Instead, he got three baby-boomer, mini-skirt clad girls, riding the wave of 1960's social upheaval right into the women's liberation movement.    It was not an easy time for Dad.

As we grew up, moved out, got married, and my sisters had children, Dad came up with a new phrase:  "What's the Chill Factor?"  He still used "Anh-anh, ee-see, ooh-ooh!", especially with the grandkids.  And he still said all he wanted was ladies.  But after so many decades there was an air of resignation in his reading of that line.  So, "What's the Chill Factor?" became the comment of last resort for Dad.  He often asked it when we were gathered around the dining room table and the conversation veered off onto some topic which Dad deemed beyond the pale of what his demure, delicate, dream daughters should be talking about.  It would always crack us up, Dad too, and nearly always cause us to change the subject.

Today would have been Dad’s 87th birthday, but he passed from Alzheimer's in 1988.  I still miss him like crazy.   We still gather around the same old dining room table, now at Mom's condo.   As we get to laughing, joking and telling some unladylike stories on each other,  I think I can hear Dad's voice - a distant "Anh-anh, ee-see, ooh-ooh!"   But then I really hear it.  Someone of us, who doesn't want to continue to discuss an embarrassing childhood incident, will ask: "What's the Chill Factor?"  and I swear, that's the moment I can hear Dad laughing right along with us.

Happy Birthday Dad. We love you and miss you.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Here, in the hills of southern New England, we are dealing with freezing rain and ice today. Thankfully it is not as severe as what the folks in the midwest have been struggling with. At the moment, the roads are still pretty good, but anything off the ground and up in the air is enrobed in ice. We are worried about our neighbors to the north. We are also concerned about what any overnight dip in temperature will bring to us.

I took these photos this afternoon. The temperature was hovering just above freezing. The ice had been building up all day long. It’s so beautiful right now. But any heavier amounts of ice or snow or high winds could cause branches and trees to snap and bring power lines down.

For now, all is still and lovely.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Trail

Sometimes, someone blazes a trail for you.

I owe a debt of gratitude not only to my parents and grandparents who physically held my hand, but to all of my ancestors who never even knew me. They worked cradle to grave to make a way in this world, not just for their families, but for all of us to come. I’m indebted to my two older sisters, Karen and Gail, who marked the trails they blazed, so I could choose where to follow. I owe Mrs. Farley, my third grade teacher, who made me believe in me. I'm grateful for my husband Chuck, for holding my hand, sometimes leading, sometimes following, but always being there beside me. So many people have made my way in this world a little easier.

If you have places to go in this world, you may not have to find your own way through the wilderness. Someone may have already cleared the way, left blaze marks and signposts along the trail.

If you have places to go in this world, you may not have to go there alone. There may be others who want to share the journey with you.

If you have places to go in this world, and they are all your own, mark the trail you are carving out of the wilderness. Someone else may want to follow in your footsteps.

Sometimes, someone blazes a trail for you.

Sometimes, you blaze your own trail.

What trail are you on?

Who are you grateful to?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Move On

It’s hard to know which direction to turn, when right where you are feels so good. North, south, east, west - any choice will bring change, but right here is sweet and green and cushy. Comfortable and safe but something else keeps beckoning, a call to be more. Sometimes it feels like a restlessness, or a need to be quiet and still. Other times there is clarity of purpose, a need to take a class, pursue a particular passion. Regardless of how it manifests itself, it always does. Do we heed the call, take the risk? Or do we hush it, and stay nestled in our safe cocoon? Maybe we sit tight for now, tend the garden we can see, but the call will rise up again. When it does, choose. Strike out in one direction. Put one foot in front of the other, again and again. Leave a little trail of bread crumbs to follow back home if you must, but choose. Keep breathing and move.

“...Stop worrying where you’re going -
Move on.
If you can know where you’re going,
You’ve gone.
Just keep moving on.

I chose and my world was shaken -
So what?
The choice may have been mistaken,
The choosing was not.
You have to move on...”

“Move On”
from Sunday In The Park With George
a musical by Stephen Sondheim

Friday, January 12, 2007

I Thought They Were Mythical...

But there it was, a unicorn atop the Massachusetts building at the Eastern States Exposition Fairgrounds, better known as “The Big E”. I’ve been there in January before. Never have I been there in a January such as this. In the 50’s today and no snow to be found anywhere. Chuck and I ventured out this afternoon in order for him to attend a woodworking show in one of the buildings on the fairgrounds in West Springfield, Massachusetts. I decided not to go inside the show for fear of spreading the residual germs I have and also of picking up any new critters to add to my already festive collection.

I brought along a couple of books, and a notebook as always. Also, ever since I started this blog, I try to remember to bring the digital camera as well. After a while I noticed the sky was starting to color up as sunset approached. So I walked around the grounds focusing on as many details as I could. It was wonderful. We are usually there for the big six-state fair that takes place every September. During that event it is sometimes difficult to thread your way through the throngs of people spilling out of venues and walking up and down the avenues. Those walkways, normally crowded with food stalls, all kinds of brightly colored fair souvenirs and lots of noisy people, were deserted today.

I’ve seen lots of creatures over the years at the Big E: cows, sheep, pigs, llamas, goats, alpacas, chickens... but never a unicorn. I thought they were mythical. This really is an unusual January!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

That's Not Manny In Left Field

O.K. This is out of left field. Maybe it was the fever I had yesterday. Maybe I’m getting cabin fever from being sick for the last week. But last night I got to wondering - whatever happened to Justin Guarini??? You remember him. The guy from the first season of American Idol (2002), who was the runner-up to Kelly Clarkson. I remember he came out with an album after he had been on Idol and I’d seen him on a few television appearances. He had seemed so at ease, talented and charming during Idol, but post runner-up status he seemed uncomfortable and musically miscast. Then there was the ill fated movie.... ‘nuff said! So Chuck & I searched for him (and found him naturally) on Wikipedia.

Turns out Justin Guarini’s keeping busy. Apparently he got a bit of a raw deal because of contracts with Idol - which later runners-up have not been limited by. So with all of that water under the bridge, he’s found an interesting musical niche for himself. It’s a very jazzy/soul/cabaret style, which we agree with one review, does remind us of Al Jarreau. This style feels like a natural fit for him. You can listen to a couple of samples off his self produced CD by going to his website. Click on “Music” and listen to any cuts with musical notes next to them. :: Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bits & Pieces

:: My cold is clinging on more tenaciously than I would like. I was surprised to find I had a slight fever again. It’s also difficult to understand me when my voice is at its worst. When I called our Senators, Congressman and The White House today about “Trophy”, I actually got referred to as “Sir”! Yup, that made me feel real good. So do continue to be glad this is not an Audio-Blog!

:: I think I was in college when I first heard about Elvis Costello. But at the time his voice and musical style didn’t do anything for me. It wasn’t until many years later when I heard him on The Chieftains “Bells of Dublin” Album that something clicked. Then he collaborated with Burt Bacharach (now that was a blast from my past!) and they brought out the album “Painted From Memory”. I fell in love with the poetic lyrics sung in Costello’s distinctive, slightly smoky, raspy style. For some reason that album is the one I’ve been drawn to the last few days. It lives somewhere in the integrated land of Pop/Jazz/Blues and is a little sad without being depressing.

:: As for the photograph - it was taken along the one-way road that runs out to the tip of the Schoodic Peninsula in Maine. Schoodic is part of Acadia National Park, but is about an hour drive off Mount Desert Island and to the north. Why this photo? Just because it’s beautiful and makes me breathe a little easier just to look at it.

:: I hope all of you are well and happy, with an equally beautiful vista to enjoy!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Get “Trophy” To Our Troops

Tonight, both the NBC Nightly News and MSNBC’s Countdown With Keith Olbermann, ran a report by Lisa Myers. It was a follow up to a report last September about a defense system called “Trophy”. Trophy is designed to shoot down rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). I’m no expert, but it certainly sounds as if Trophy should be used by our forces over in Iraq and Afghanistan. It appears as if Trophy is being blocked in a tussle over turf between the U.S. Army and the Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation, with money at the heart of it.

I opposed our going to Iraq. I don’t want to see an escalation. I don’t know how to stop the violence over there. I don’t know how to save innocent Iraqis from further chaos and bloodshed. I do want our brave and patriotic troops on the ground to have everything they need to come home alive and whole.

Read the report. Do some more research. Then contact your Senators and Congressional Representative. Need to know who and how? Go to Project Vote Smart and enter your nine digit zip code in the box on the upper left, or click on "Current Officials" on the top red bar.

40 Days

Anyone out there old enough to remember the butterfly poster from the sixties?

If you love something
set it free.
If it comes back to you
it’s yours.
If it doesn’t
it never was...

It’s ours! Our Subaru is back! And we are irrationally excited about it! After forty long days we are relieved that the car is repaired and roadworthy once again. We still have paperwork, phone calls, faxes and money to iron out, but all that is for the coming days. For now, it is all happy dances in the driveway!

Monday, January 8, 2007


Dear Lovely, Loyal Readers,

Thanks for continuing to stop by through my silence. I remain under the weather. It appears at this point to be turning into just a cold. No fever since last night (fingers crossed!), but I still feel tired and sound truly dreadful. Fortunately this is not an Audio-Blog!

I had hoped to be able to report that we have the Subaru back, but no such luck. We did see it last week and it looks beautiful! But at the last minute there were some snafus which need to be resolved. Perhaps tomorrow?

These three photos were taken up at Seal Harbor, on Mount Desert Island in Maine. Seal Harbor is just outside Acadia and is a lovely spot to walk, picnic, sketch, write or just soak it all in. I believe all of these were taken by Chuck, most likely while I was poking around looking for sea glass and other tiny treasures. They make me think of the Emily Dickinson poem that starts:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—

Wishing you hope, and all good things coming to fruition.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Under The Weather

It was a gray, dismal day. Oh, and the weather was that way too. We thought we were getting the car back yesterday. Then we thought we were getting it back today. Long, frustrating story cut short, we are now hoping for Monday.

Also, last night I started to feel under the weather. Now I am officially sick. I know this because I am verging on something between whining and pitiful. Plus, I also have a fever.

An attitude of gratitude. An attitude of gratitude. An attitude of...


- Nobody was hurt in our car accident, five plus weeks ago.
- My husband is wonderful. As evidenced by the fact that I am not sleeping in our barn, even if I whine and sound pitiful.
- We both got our flu shots in November.

I wish you could see the germ coming at you - like the POWs, BAMs, ZAPs in a superhero comic book. Then you’d know when to bob and weave, when to douse yourself in alcohol gel.

I’ll shut up now and buck up.

Be well. :-)

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Once Upon A Time...

Once upon a time, I had as my primary care physician, a doctor of medicine who really was a prince. He always shook my hand and made eye contact. He would always sit down and chat for awhile with my husband and me about anything and everything that was happening in our lives. He believed in all that modern western medicine had to offer and was open to everything else that was well intentioned in this world. He knew and cared about our lives (work, pets, hobbies, extended families, politics, emotions...) and told us about his own. He believed the body was a temple and that it was important for him to treat it with respect. He saved me from at least one major surgery by proceeding with prudence, caution and riding herd over less experienced, less intuitive and less wise doctors. We were partners in my healthcare. Did I mention he had call hours at home every weekday morning for a half an hour? Or the fact that he made house calls to his elderly patients? A prince!

But, he retired. He worked hard for many, many years, and did good works, while raising up a family. I cannot begrudge him his retirement. I wish him only happiness. But I can grieve.

Today, I saw his replacement for the second time. She has a stellar resume. But she is not a doctor of medicine as my prince of a doctor was. Instead she is a technician of medicine. I am not an entire, whole, gestalt of a human being. I am a human machine to be inspected, tuned, repaired. She walked into the examining room carrying my chart underneath her open laptop. She said hello. She placed the laptop on a shelf and with her back to me, asked me what medicines I needed. I happened to need a refill. She typed something, asked which pharmacy and faxed it in. She gave me a quick exam. I volunteered some relevant information and she left.

My doctor, who was a prince, retired. I cannot begrudge him his retirement. But I can grieve.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

A Breath of Fresh Air

Massachusetts is a fascinating state. I have called it home for a little more than two decades. While my heart will always nostalgically belong to Rhode Island and it beats a little faster at the thought of Mount Desert Island in Maine, it’s hard for me to imagine living anywhere else other than here. Yes, we are a little politically odd. I won’t call us schizophrenic as it would be an insult to folks with mental illness. But we repeatedly sent conservative Republicans to the governor’s office while sending an all Democrat delegation to Congress and mostly Democrats to both branches of the state legislature for the last sixteen years. We also seem to be broad minded in happily electing and re-electing openly gay congressmen, while at the same time going into paroxysms over the idea of same sex marriage! Hunh? But overall, a compassionate, socially conscious heart seems to beat collectively in the electorate.

Tomorrow, brings another remarkable moment in the Commonwealth’s history. Deval Patrick will become the first African American Governor of Massachusetts and only the second to be elected in the history of the United States. Yesterday, the Governor-Elect ran into a surprising problem in that the mostly Democratic Legislature did not heed Patrick’s reasoned words and instead allowed a legal question mark about same sex marriage to continue to hang over us. Giving them a generous benefit of the doubt, perhaps some legislators were so used to fighting the usual Republicans who sit in the corner office, that they acted reflexively. Maybe it was the onset of the full moon. No matter. I remain optimistic about the breath of fresh air that the brilliant, articulate, liberal, cool-under-fire Patrick will be bringing to the Commonwealth. And he wants us all to work with him to bring about positive change in Massachusetts. That means all you folks in the Legislature as well. Got it? Good!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

A Matter of Justice

Here, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Same Sex Marriage is legal. Unfortunately, it remains under attack. Today, the Massachusetts Legislature met in a Constitutional Convention. It is abbreviated to Con-Con. It has seemed so convoluted that it could be called the Con-Con-Con! Governor-Elect Deval Patrick released a statement to our Legislators today that sums up my feelings far more eloquently than I could.

"I believe that adults should be free to choose whom they wish to love and to marry.  The SJC's decision in Goodridge affirms that basic human right, and I support it.

Above all, this is a question of conscience.  Using the initiative process to give a minority fewer freedoms than the majority, and to inject the state into fundamentally private affairs, is a dangerous precedent, and an unworthy one for this Commonwealth.  Never in the long history of our model Constitution have we used the initiative petition to restrict freedom.  We ought not start now.

For practical reasons as well, it's time to move on.  Whatever one's views of marriage equality, all can agree that we have far more pressing issues before the Legislature and the Commonwealth.  It serves no public interest to focus more time and attention on this issue when there are under-served and under-performing schools, an infrastructure showing signs of sustained neglect, gun and gang violence on the rise, jobs and people leaving the state, a growing homeless population, soaring health care costs, a looming deficit and a score of other serious challenges crying out for the attention and the creativity of the government and the people.  We cannot in good conscience ask these unmet needs to wait while a few individuals try to insert discrimination into our Constitution.

I favor ending this petition initiative promptly.  If adjournment can accomplish that, so be it.  If the Constitutional Convention chooses to vote on the merits, I want to be utterly clear that I believe a vote to advance this question to the 2008 ballot is irresponsible and wrong.  Given the significant challenges we face on so many other fronts, I would be deeply disappointed in such a vote.  It would do nothing more than condemn us all to more years of debate and expense on a matter that is legally and practically settled."
--- Massachusetts Governor-Elect Deval Patrick

:: One of the most specious arguments against Gay Marriage has been proffered by a number of socially conservative groups, including the Roman Catholic Church. The legality of same sex marriage in no way intrudes upon who the Church allows to marry. Yet they continue to inveigh that same sex marriage is an attack on the family and undermines the sacrament of marriage. In our experience, nothing could be further from the truth. Allowing more couples to publicly affirm their commitment and enter into legal marriages can only serve to strengthen our society. My husband Chuck and I have been happily, legally married for fifteen years. We wish all couples, gay and straight, the same opportunity, the same right.

Monday, January 1, 2007

How Did I Get Here?

It was around the first of November of 2006. I was looking to replace the bumper sticker on our Subaru. After five years of New England weather it was getting tattered. We had originally purchased it at a shop called Eden Rising on Cottage Street in Bar Harbor, Maine. When we were up there in October we had looked in vain. So I decided to try searching on line. I Googled the phrase: “Love Is Our Soul Purpose” plus bumper sticker. I didn’t get much, but one was at an address called PoetMama at blogspot June 2006. I clicked the link and found myself in what I later learned was a Blog. Up until that moment I thought blogs were all just political rants from both sides of the aisle. But here was a young mom who wrote poetry and had made note of a bumper sticker she had seen and liked. I felt as if I had fallen down the rabbit hole! I read a little on her page, then clicked on some links to other blogs and kept finding all kinds of interesting people. I continued following this trail of breadcrumbs and found lots of women, and a few men, from all over the world, who, like me, were interested in art, poetry, writing, family, photography, food, books... These were blogs? Hmmm. I set up a new bookmark folder and started adding bookmarks in order to retrace my steps later. Over the next couple of weeks I read lots of blogs, learned lots of new things and became increasingly excited at the idea of creating my own blog.

In my poetry notebook I started jotting down ideas and questions. I kept finding answers and adding ideas. Then I needed to come up with a name for my future blog. I created a long list of possibilities. Most of them were lines from my poems. But one related to a proud moment from a few years ago when I had triumphed during a terrible summer thunderstorm and subsequent power outage. Thankfully Chuck Googled the particular phrase I had in mind. What he learned left us both shocked, laughing and me disappointed. The only way I can put this delicately is to say the phrase was centuries old slang for something sexual. It had also been revived in contemporary urban slang, with the same meaning. YIKES! Back to the notebook! The next phrase was from one my poems: “50 Yellow Daffodils”. This time I Googled it and was reminded that yellow daffodils are closely associated with fund raising to fight cancer. An absolutely worthwhile cause, but not at all what I planned to focus on in my blog. Back again to the notebook. Finally I settled on the phrase “Pink Granite”. Believe you me I Googled and Wiki’d the daylights out of it. This time nothing but geology and kitchen countertop entries! Hooray!

So on the day after Thanksgiving I registered with Google, then Blogger and I became the proud owner of my very own blog! I finally managed to post my first entry just before 3:00 a.m. Saturday morning! Just over a month and 36 posts later I am delighted with this journey. I wanted my blog to be an outlet for my writing, as well as a way to stay in touch with family and friends. It has done all that and so much more! By the way, I still haven’t found that replacement bumper sticker and we are still waiting to get our Subaru back from the auto body shop! All things in time. Thanks PoetMama and thanks to all of you reading this, my 37th post!