Thursday, December 25, 2014

Peace be With You

There are so many advantages to not being an active Facebook user.  Oh, my husband still has a page and I do look at it on a regular basis, but I don't have my own.

For now, the biggest of the advantages for not being an official "FB'er" and for having a very active blog is that I can personally speak to those of you who actually take the time and visit my blog and I can say, with all my heart and soul

Thank you

Thank you to those of you who visit regularly, for just doing that.  Thank you to you who tells me that you enjoy the "window into my soul" and for loving me as your friend, no matter what I do or say. Thank you to you who I recently ran into at a very busy gathering and you took the time to say "keep writing". Thank you to you who tells me "you know, I read it every day".  Thank you to those of you who tell me that you relate to what I have said in my writing, that I may have touched you in some way, comforted you or perhaps even shocked you.  To you who keeps encouraging me, you who I respect so much for your talents and your life experiences, you who takes the time to encourage me to place my stories in another place every year.  You got me started and I love you for it.  To all of you who are the "stories".  Keep them coming.  I will.  To my dear, sweet husband who lies if he has to, to make every word that I write feel as if I were Shelley or Keats.

And to my muses, especially you, the white seagull that has taken up residence in the middle of the pond, greeting me every morning as you swirl softly in circles.  I know it's you Mom. Thanks for coming and for being here throughout the holiday season.  You made it just that much easier and while Christmas will never be quite right without your presence, you've given me the opportunity to enjoy a few moments of peace each morning, exactly the way it should be.

Thank you and Merry Christmas to all.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Way to go


There's a story here, you might well suspect


Swapping out a life in a major city for a life at a major seashore isn't exactly what I would classify as THE hardest thing I've ever done.  But, there are a lot....okay about a million.....things that I do still miss about my New York. Not least of all are the endless possibilities for great stories that could and invariably would,come from the use of public transportation.  When I worked in Manhattan, one of my jobs demanded that each month, I personally visited each of the corporate health units that were under my supervision.  So, I rarely spent time in an office, at least not in my office.  My health units, some twenty of them, were staffed by capable nurses who did amazing work but once in a while, I would get a call that would require "face time" and I went off and running. Literally.  I had a great stride, knew exactly how long it would take me to reach a location by foot, and quickly learned umbrella etiquette for the rainy days.  I had nothing but comfortable and stylish walking shoes and got lots and lots of exercise. Later, I took a more sedentary job and only got out of my office on rare occasions other than for lunch breaks.  Because my time away from my office was limited, I did resort to public transportation and became obsessed with it.  I used public transportation when I traveled for business too, always a challenge but one that I met with excitement.  I wasn't happy traveling with my boss who preferred luxury rides to and from the places we'd go.  I still get a chuckle when I think back to a ride in a stretch limo through the streets of Chicago with my "team".  Let me tell you, Diana Ross and her Supremes had nothing on us! He got an equal chuckle when I handed in my expense reports with little receipts from subway, bus or taxi rides.

There's a life force out there that you will never know exists if you never use a public bus or train. I have so many memories tied to the 4, 5 and 6 trains that run up and down the east side of the city. I also have fun and funny bus stories and a fabulous one or two taxi memoirs.  There are people in all of these stories, people who became the stories. I could fill a book with those from the Times Square Shuttle alone.  Some are sad, some are happy, but all of them, memorable and ones that would have been missed had I not used the cheapest routes to the places I've been.  And, oh, the free concerts on the platforms and in the subway cars.

Last Thursday, with a bunch of fun friends, I made up for some lost time, discovered that there really is a public transportation system here on the Cape.  For us seniors, it's the "Dollar Bus" and our trip from Orleans to Provincetown did not disappoint.  New memories were made, on and off the bus. I have a host of new stories, some new friends, and a whole bunch of plans for the future, above the ground only, but I'll take it and rejoice......until per chance one day, my realities might change

Monday, December 22, 2014


I have such a feeling of impending doom lately.  Can't shake it.  It feels horrifying and nothing is helping, nothing.  Tis the season to be happy and hopeful and I am feeling that the phone will ring any minute with some bad news or that something will happen to validate this feeling.

Today, I had my second meltdown in public.  Something I am not known for, even to myself.  Last week, I ran into a friend, one who I hadn't seen in a long time and she said something to me that caught me off my emotional guard and I burst into tears, right there in the chiropractor's office.  Today, it was in the presence of two almost perfect strangers.  I came home and told my husband that all I want for Christmas is a box of tissues and I was serious.

Something's in the air, at least my air.

My writing group met this morning.  The prompt was the word "I".  Not having had much time in between the sobs and the public displays of insanity, I hadn't written anything new.  I dug up something I had written almost two years ago and found it applicable. It was a piece I wrote for another workshop, one that was online, thank God, called "Telling True Stories".  I wrote several wonderful pieces during that time and I know that had my virtual classmates not been somewhat anonymous, I would never have accomplished all that I did.  I find it difficult to write my innermost thoughts in places that will be seen by people who do and people who do not know me intimately, but for different reasons.  I've heard that memoir writers oftentimes have difficulty telling true versions of their stories for fear of hurting the central, real-life characters. They say that it takes a bit of bravismo to accomplish the telling of such moments in their lives.  I haven't ventured out that far yet but hope, always, that one day my stories will be in the hands of my family and they will all make some kind of sense and my children and grandchildren will know all they need to about me.

So, I'm not going to post the story that I read to my lovely group of writer friends this morning.  It is on this blog, in the archives and appears here:  I made minor adjustments to it, changing the time references to make it more relevant.
Instead, I'm going to jot down something about myself, answering the prompt in  a way that makes me happy because that's what I really need.  Happy.

I do not like to wear shoes
But I do not like bare feet
I do not like to wear socks with shoes but
I hate cold feet
I love flip flops and Birkenstocks
On very cold days, I just don't go outside.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

One Picture, How Many Words?

I've written, on an earlier post, about my camera and my sentimental attachment.  In the past two years, I've broken three of them, two of which held very fond memories, and lost the latest which had no sentimental value whatsoever.  But, I'm camera-less and missing them all very much.

It's hard for me to believe that I've misplaced a camera because I always had it at the ready and loved the fact that they all fit nicely into my palm.  The latest one must be in this house somewhere but where I do not know.  My memory seems t be getting worse every day and I do know that when we recently decided to get better organized, to put things in more logical locales, I had that baby in my hands and I did place it in a very logical place so someday, it will resurface.  Until then, I'm done with photos.  I'll have to do so much more telling than showing.

I honestly do try to improve my writing skills.  I know a few basic rules.  I love to write, to tell stories, to show with words what I am feeling or want a reader to feel.  I'm not sure that I will ever master that art, I started late.  And, in the new year, I have only one objective, to work harder at all of this.

So many things that I have written have started with a picture, many from my collection of faces, beautiful places, sunsets, and random things I have encountered along my path.  Some, I look for intentionally, others, I swear were placed in front of me by the goddess of creativity, baiting me, asking nothing more than the chance to grow from ordinary to something special if only to me.

My camera is lost, not my words.  But if I did have my camera, just in the past month, I could have shown you so many things. Looks on faces.My friend Jay, when he presented me with a huge box filled with just short of forty Barbie dolls and all of their paraphernalia, that he bought at a "stoop sale" in Brooklyn. My husband's when he exited his doctor's office after his post-op visit at which he was told to "put it all out of your mind" and come back in three months for a check-up; our friend Bob as he told us about the latest PET scan which proved that his tumor had disappeared from the face of the Earth; our beautiful granddaughters, giving their hearts and souls onstage at this year's Nutcracker; their little friends, bouncing up and down with them in the lobby during intermission and after the show - the look of youth and innocence, sheer delight that my hundred dollar camera could never have captured.  Had I a camera, I would have snapped more than one shot of my artwork that is currently hanging on exhibit at the Cultural Center but that photo would never have expressed my fear of rejection, my courage and my little burst of self-confidence. Nor would it have reflected the message that I so wanted to tell my granddaughters.  Also lost to the lens is a glimpse of our newest art acquisition.  She's called "Awakening" and she's spectacular.  Picture this.....a woman's body, beautifully sculpted, naked to the waist, hanging upside down with her hair falling towards the ground, as she emerges from the body of a tree.  Her arms, beautiful brown feathers, are at her side, not yet opened as they will be when she "lands", supporting her emergence from the sheltering world that once was hers.  A photo would never serve it the justice it deserves. I only wish I had a camera to have caught the pride of the artist as she stood beside it allowing her own husband to photograph her.  And, then, there would also have been an earlier photographic memory of the joy found in the faces of the parents of Christopher Malatesta when his exhibition opened to the delight of a crowd of at least a hundred on one evening.  I wish I could have been there with a tiny Nikon in hand, to snap a shot of his mother's face, one who almost lost her artist-son to a tragic accident a few short years ago, never imagining that he would have lost his hearing but kept his talent.

On a funnier note, there is one last shot I would not have wanted to intentionally miss.  The look on my husband's face when I told him that his son-in-law asked me "when did Joe stop dying his hair?".  Priceless.
Just for the record, he has never dyed his hair, ever. His youthful looks are a source of his great self-esteem, one that allows him to take such good care of hiimself. Admirable.

 I'm off to buy myself a new phone.  One that takes pictures. I'm going to try a new tactic.  I've never lost a phone yet. And, besides, I'm ready for a Smartphone!  I just can't miss another of those moments.  Ever.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Time on My Mind

Yesterday, I paid a visit to a friend who was telling me about how difficult it has become to communicate with her mother, to find the support from her that she needs at this time in her life.  My friend is stressed by her personal affairs and the demands of owning a business that relies so much on the holiday season.  She told me that her mother is depressed and has lashed out instead of drawn her in and nurtured her.  I listened and thought back to times when my own mother acted in similar ways, times when I had to put my own needs aside and understand hers and I empathized with my friend.  As I departed, I promised to call her mother and invite her to the opening reception of a show in which I have a very small and insignificant painting.  But, it is my very first exhibition so it will be special in some ways

I also told her to encourage her mom to get a hearing aid after she told me to let the phone ring a while before hanging up when I called.  My advice came from my heart, not only from my thoughts to her mother's personal safety.  "Please tell her that she's missing out on so much because of her inability to hear all that you want to tell her, all that her grandson wants to tell her" this, I said, I know from personal experience.  There was so much I wanted to share with my own mother but didn't.  I gave up.  She could not hear and would not get assistance so I stopped trying to tell her anything that wasn't important. The words I wanted to say lost their meaning when I tried to shout them, they just weren't the same.

I just emailed my friend, telling her that I did indeed make a date with her mother and will pick her up tonight and bring her to the reception.  A simple act, one that makes me happy.  My friend's mother was delighted too, at having been invited, and I included that in my email. And at the end of my note, the words, "I really miss my mother" flowed out and it suddenly came to me that I had so much more love to give.  But time ran out.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Daytime Tellie

When I was a kid, once in a very rare while, I would get to stay home from school for a "sick day".  Sometimes I would fake the sick. In fact, most of the time I would fake it.  You see, when I was a school girl, there wasn't anything in the world that I wanted less to be.  I loathed school, every single minute.  I spent every school day wishing it were the last day of the last year of any schooling that would be required. My daydreams were huge and there wasn't any room for reality.  I saw very little value in being held captive in a classroom and, by the time I was in the second grade, I had already run away from school.  I didn't get very far because a relative of my grandmother lived a block away from the school and thought it strange that a little six year old would be roaming around the Bronx in the middle of the day and she turned me in.  Honestly, what was I thinking?

On those wonderful days when my mother fell for my good acting and I got to stay home, I had the pleasure of the house all to myself.  With both parents working and my brother dutifully at school entertaining his friends, I could watch T.V. all day and all I had to do was turn it off briefly when the phone rang.  Dressed in my pajamas, unwashed and unbrushed, I actually made myself look sort of sick just to not make myself feel sort of guilty.  I had one less day of school with which to contend and I didn't want my conscience to get in the way of a good time or a good daydream.  Hour after hour passed, from one silly show to the next. There were game shows and comedy shows and afternoon soaps, one rolling into the next and with each hour, the day grew closer to the time that the school bell would ring for the rest of the kids,marking the end of my sick day.I would turn the, get dressed, washed, brushed and ready to greet the girl next-door who had my books and class assignments in her arms.  No more T.V. until after dinner, like normal people.

As I grew up and started to see some value in being at school, I hardly ever took a sick day. Doing so would have meant missing out on six hours of being with my friends outside of the walls of our homes and I was not willing to give that up. So, I lost my daytime T.V.grip and totally lost track of who and what was going on in the world of daytime entertainment.  And, as I grew into adulthood, I found something new to loathe.  The very sound of T.V. before evening made me crazy then and even more now.  You might as well just stick pins in my feet or hold my hands in boiling water because I would enjoy the experience more than one minute of CNN or Judge Judy.  The minute I enter a room and catch one nanno-second's worth of sights or sounds coming from a T.V. set, I cringe and, in an instant,  I am transported back to the playroom of my family home, where......

 I'm there, having a sick day,
knowing that at three o'clock,
 the joy will be over and
 I will have to become One again
 with the rest of the

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Running Through My Life

Another rainy, dreary day that looks more like November than December.  Hard to believe that Christmas is but three weeks away and even harder to plunge into the icy waters of "Christmas Spirit" River. Even the lovely holiday pops performance by the Cape Cod Symphony last evening didn't do it.  Seems like it gets harder every year as the stores start earlier each year with the playing of the Christmas music and the non-stop ads.  As I recall from an earlier era, not one thing happened until after Thanksgiving.  Not an ornament, not a wreath, and certainly not a Christmas carol.  Those were reserved for much later and we actually looked forward to the week before the holiday when things really revved up and we could enjoy the once-yearly audio treats on the car radio.

I know I am not alone when I say that, aside from the annoyance of constant repetition, Christmas music makes me somewhat sad.  So, when my husband had his Christmas playlist blaring this morning, I asked for mercy and he obliged.  I told him I would find something else, something that would not make me sad; something that would not add to the dreary day ahead.  He's generally a happy guy.  Lucky him, he finds very few things to be "depressing" and during his waking hours, he's always in a good mood. Yes, he does talk in his sleep.

So, I found exactly what I needed and I made the selfish switch and it made both of us happy again. He was happy because I was happy and I was happy because I got to spend five precious minutes in my happiest place.  New York City, how I love that place.  I miss it and always will long to be back there. I loved working in the heart of the city. Every day was a new adventure and I never did get tired of any of it. I have fond memories, lots of them. But I gotta tell you, one of THE best memories of my working days in the Big Apple is not about any of the quirky and wonderful things that I had the pleasure of participating in.  It's not about the restaurants, museums, the people and places.  It's about a phone call, one I will never forget receiving in my office and it goes like this........

"Hi Mom.  Take the day off on October first............WE'RE GOING TO SEE MANILOW!!!"

So, you can easily see why I made the playlist switch and why the rest of this morning went so much better.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Canon Outlaw

Photo courtesy of Eyegoddess Films

Do you know what the Roman Catholic Church's Canon Law Number 1024 says?

Are you ready for this?

ONLY baptized men can receive holy orders.  Only MEN can become priests.  ONLY men.

Well, thank God, a renegade group of holy and highly educated women started to change all of this in a movement that began fifteen or so years ago.

If you were brought up in the RC tradition, you might not ever have given thought to the fact that there actually is a law which forbids women to become priests, that the hierarchy of the church is reserved for men only and that this is a man-made, not God-made law that has absolutely no basis.  The documentary "Pink Smoke Over the Vatican" is, at the very least, an eye-opener and it is one that all people who believe that things are the way they are and always will be need to see.  The beautifully done film follows the group of women who walked smack into the face of adversity and stared it down, becoming ordained priests and bishops, totally ignoring the threat of excommunication. It infuriates me when I think that anyone, man or woman, can make the decision to throw somebody out of a church, to strip them naked of their right to enter into and participate in, a house of worship.  Who the hell do they think they are anyway?  God?

The ordained women of Pink Smoke speak of their strong desires and not one of them displays a lack of respect for their church nor do they appear to be militant or "dangerous" in any way.  Yet, the leaders of the church consider them to be just that, "dangerous" and problematic.  The church official who comments throughout this film does not seem to have any real explanation for why women can't become priests, he just tells the viewer that they can't.....because they can't.  He forgets ancient church history, pieces left for dead and buried forever.  There were women priests and married priests, even a female apostle!  But we are not given that information, ever. Rarely do we see women credited for anything in the church and never are we reminded that when Jesus rose from the dead, it was a woman, Saint Mary Magdalene, to whom he immediately made his presence known.  Not a man.  A woman, bearing witness to the resurrection.

So, how were these brave modern women ordained?  It all started when a small handful of women were given what the church considered to be "temporary" holy orders. They were to be "de-frocked" when their  job was done but they disobeyed and well, long story short, they, in turn, started ordaining other women on ships, far from the shores of any archdiocese. Brilliant move.  You can't invoke a ruling if you have no jurisdiction.

Ex-communication?  I don't think so.

Get ready for the ladies, gentlemen of the church.  They are here, and they are smart. Smart enough to know that Canon Law is not God's law and that the days of male domination in the church are numbered.With their help and their patience with outdated feudal governance that is currently destroying the church, pink may very well become the new white collar.  Amen.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


The holiday house-guests have departed and with the same alacrity that I used so many times when my kids were off at half day kindergarten, I made my way around the house, scooping up a load of laundry, cleaning a bathroom, making a bed, vacuuming, and doing a general tidy up before my husband returned from his trip to church.  My tour of duty found me also in the kitchen, cleaning the refrigerator and re-arranging the last of the left over food from Thursday.  We had everything but turkey to remind us of a wonderful day, spent with friends old and new.  Our hosts sent us off with boxes and sadly, they did not include turkey.  We survived and will continue because those are not the "left-overs" that sustain us.

Instead, we find our real memories of things for which we should and are thankful, to be in those people who have been in our life's "picture" over the past few days.  My husband had a surgical procedure the day after Thanksgiving. All went well and will continue to go well, Number One on our list of left-overs for which we are grateful.

Following in close second, are the phone calls, the emails, the offers of help from friends who were ready to drop all of their post-holiday plans and come to our aid had we needed it.  A personal note from a daughter-in-law who wanted us to know that she was thinking about us.  Our children who would have been here in a heartbeat had we needed them.  My father who called not once, but twice, to ask about his son-in-law's progress. A visit from my brother who wanted me to know that he knew all I do for our father.

  So, I can cook a turkey next week, and probably will.  But what we realize we have left, we could never replace.  We're thankful for family, friends, caregivers and for their presence in our lives and as I write this I recall how we always seemed to enjoy the remnants of a Thanksgiving meal more than the actual meal.

We're grateful for our left-overs.  You really are the best part of the meal.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


From my personal collection of my own work

“The beauty of the collage technique is that you’re using sounds that have never met and were never supposed to meet. You introduce them to each other, at first they’re a bit shy, clumsy, staring at their shoes. But you can sense there’s something there. So you cut and paste a little bit and by the end of the song you can spot them in the corner, holding hands.” -Jens Lekman (Found on another blog)

And it is for the above reason that I love the art of collage.  I cut, I tear, I paste and as I do, I find myself sinking deeper and deeper into a meditative state, one that allows me to reflect on my current, past and future lives.  I have never considered myself to be an "artist" so I am amazed at how my hands move, selecting just the right pieces of color and texture and am always astonished when I see the results.

Life is the canvas.  My friends, the sounds that I was supposed to meet.  The fun has been in introducing them to each other, the circle growing and growing as they, each one, left behind their shyness, stopped staring at their shoes and one by one, jumped on to the page, holding hands.

I am starting the counting of blessings, getting ready for the official giving of the thanks and as I do, I just want you, my friend, to know that you all fit beautifully into the picture and I've used the best glue I could find to make sure we all stay together and hopefully, you are happy with your placement and your life is happier since I sprinkled you with glitter.  

Thank you for being my friend.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2014


In one of my closets lies a big green canvas box with zippered sides that allow the top to open up.  Unzipped, it holds an entire world, or at the very least, a memoir.

Memoirs, I have learned, do not have to be stories of an entire life, written in sequence. As in my case, they can be tiny stories,simply pieces of a life that for one reason of another, seem appropriate in telling a bigger story.  The story needn't be of any interest to anyone but to the writer, the telling of the story might be the biggest thing that happens in a life. I love telling my stories because they beg me to look at myself as if I were an outsider, seeing something for the first time, rather than the top-biller in the story of who I am and how I got to this place in my life.  And, I'm always fascinated by my own accounts.

I brought the big green box out of its resting place, having a hard time believing how heavy it had become.  It has served me well, the perfect choice for holding its contents.  The box replaced several others.  The first was so much smaller and so much neater I must add.  The first held small index cards.  This box held those plus larger sheets of paper, mixed in with bits and pieces cut from newspapers, magazines and odd-shaped note papers representing whatever I had handy at the time of an inspiration.  It wasn't until fairly recently that I made the habit of always having a small notebook in my handbag, along with a pen or two, allowing me to write down things that I did not ever want to forget.  But, before those days, I grabbed whatever was blank of other writing and jotted, sometimes in a hurry before my name was called by a receptionist or a train had arrived at my stop or my friend could only spare but a minute to dictate it to me.

Index cards, notes on scraps of paper, clippings, all sizes and shapes, all part of my own personal library of recipes, my best intentions, all in one place.  My "Recipe Box", now open and laid out before me as it has been so many, many times over the past nearly forty five years.  It's part of a life-cycle, always included in the preparation of something that has to do with gatherings of family or friends.  It's always the first on the guest list, the most important of all who would ever come to the table.  And the cycle most often restarted at this particular time of year. I picture myself seated in a comfortable chair, one light on in an otherwise darkened room, the sun still not up, a cup of coffee in one hand as I shuffle through a stack that is no less than a foot high, of those bits and pieces and I breathe a sigh of relief when I find exactly the one I was seeking, the one that will fill my heart with joy and all the warmth that tradition brings.  I wonder why the pile is so high when there are precious few buried in at least a hundred others. And then, carefully, I collect them and decide which will become the components of the next important meal.  As I rezip the sides, I wonder if the rejects have a soul and if they are hurt at not having been chosen.  I wonder this because I swear that the ones in hand do have a soul.  I  know that they have a life, that they bring with them so much life and so much love.

The box has grown too large.  I need to purge it and many other things in that closet.  We are running out of space for those things which we must keep handy. It's time to make room again and we have promised ourselves that by Christmas, we will have a new look to the Pond Room, our own little family room for our own little family of two. So, I lifted the box out, sat down in a comfortable chair and this time, I placed an empty shopping bag beside me and I sorted and I discarded and I reflected and I held onto pieces of paper as I recognized the handwriting of friends, some now departed.  Elizabeth's Pumpkin Bread which makes the best and the largest loaf, my very first New England Thanksgiving.  Carolyn's Strawberry Cake, to this day, Joe's favorite; her Jezebel Sauce, an unlikely mixture of ingredients.  My mother in law's Biscotti, her Chinese Chicken, written in script on lined paper by my very young sister in law who is now 56. Then there are those passed along to me by my own mother, those that I want to cast in bronze.  Hobo cake is not in there and I am surprised at what is.  Not one of them, difficult to make. Not an exotic ingredient to be found, but lots of little side notes that, as I read them now, show me her enthusiasm and her own relationship to the recipes and the tradition of sharing food with friends and family.  There's an underline here and there "do not open the oven for one hour." "mix for a full twenty minutes," great for company," and "your father loves this!!"

Some day, this box will travel on to another home.  I've thrown away the recipes for those things that I never made or made and never will again because they simply did not live up to the expectations.  I wonder why I had so many for "Penne a la Vodka".  Was I asking around for the best one?  The recipe for making a Yule Log and that for "Ribbon Salad" will live on. They made the cut and side by side, with the others, they will perhaps bring back memories to my own daughter and maybe she'll see me once again and we'll connect just as I did with those others who gave parts of their lives to me in so  special a way.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

How Wrong You Were

If you have the notion that I am the quintessential "extrovert," I am sorry to inform you that you are incorrect. "Wrong"would be the "wrong" word because there are so many things in this world that truly are, and having a mistaken notion does not hold a candle to those things. But, just in case you have pegged me as such, I would like to dispel that mistaken notion and tell you that I am the exact opposite.

I am an "introvert"!

There probably are a lot of things that you don't know about us introverts.  If you care to bone up, have a look at this, I could replace the photos with those of myself, several of my family members and a few of my friends.

In a room filled with smiling, happy and bubbly people, you might be hard-pressed to single us out.  We look and pretty much act the same as the rest of the party-goers but.......we may have been actually pushed through the door and forced to enter the party.  Chances are, we have a certainty that we would not have been missed had we not been forced to come.   Sometimes, we don't show up.  We figure you've invited so many other people and you won't even notice our absence.  If we give the party, we are devastated if you don't show up.  We love having all of you there and we want you to stay forever.  Odd ducks, we are.

We can participate in conversations, give speeches, get to be known as "dramatic" and "out-going"but we really and truly would rather be at home, getting back our energy, on our own turf, alone.  We're the first to leave just about anywhere, any time.  You'll never catch us lingering over coffee or begging for an encore.
We're sociable and love people. We just have our needs and we're fine once we feel that we have spent enough time with ourselves. We're not rude.  We're well-bred.  We're not shy.

We need, value and love solitude. That's how we re-generize.

It took most of my life to understand this.  I always thought that I was an extrovert, that I was the least shy person on the face of the Earth, and that everyone who ever met me believed the same. They did not know of my constant worry that I would start to hyperventilate and soon after have a full-blown anxiety attack at exactly the wrong time.

I am NOT, not, not, the life of the party, nor do I ever want to be.  I envy the real lives of the parties, those who did not suffer an attack of nausea just before ringing the door bell, those who leave the party without the sinking feeling that they are being "discussed" as soon as they leave the driveway.  Lucky you, whomever you are!

My father is a classic example of an introvert.  Oh, he and my mom had lots of friends, gave many wonderful parties, hosted holidays and gave mountains of joy to lots of men, women  and children in their younger days.
But, I've learned a lot more about them since my mother's death than I ever learned about them during her lifetime.  I realize now how hard she worked at it.  She was not an introvert.  She got her energy from her social encounters, rarely enjoying time alone, always needing to be out and about.  An empty restaurant for instance, made her nuts.  Spending an entire day home, she was not content.  She needed to see people, to engage with the outside. She did the party-entrance-pushing.  I used to think of myself as a carbon copy (remember those?) of Mother.  You're never too old to learn something new.  I'm my father in more ways.
He is happiest when he is alone. Without her, he can now be the person he always was, without restraint, without apology.  And when I'm with him, for those short visits that we both can endure, so can I.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Letting Go, Today's Prompt

I sit at my desk, in front of the big window, watching memory after memory gently drift before my eyes. The reality sets upon me and I try so hard to hold onto each and every falling leaf as if it were a child about to go off on its own, carrying with it a lifetime that I want so much to hold onto and onto and onto.

It's in November that I call it all to mind. It's time to meet change and to reflect as the days grow short, the trees grow breathtaking beautiful and then, mournfully bare as the days pass quickly onto the preamble of winter. Colder, colder, colder.

It's in November that we recall soldiers. Men and women, who, like the autumn leaves, left their homes and drifted off to unfamiliar places, so many of them never to return, so many to be buried under layer upon layer of newly fallen leaves and natural debris. Fallen leaves, fallen soldiers, all in the swoop of a breath.

It was during one November, in a place very far away, that I found myself reminded of so much of this theme.  I walked a path of carefully placed bricks that went on for two miles, my eyes cast down upon the path. Each brick bore the name of a fallen soldier, most of them Italian, but then, I noticed another grouping. Fallen soldiers from a different confrontation, a one-sided massacre fought in our country. As I looked, the names of thousands appeared and I bent down every few steps to wipe away a dying leaf to reveal a name and hometown. I thought about so many heart-sickened parents, letting a child go. How painful it must be sending one off to war, not always believing that what they were doing is right.And, then  I thought of those who never envisioned that on one day in September, they would suffer so great a loss. November once again reminded me that nothing is forever and we can only learn from our past, that the universe rarely delivers precisely that which we expect, and we must let go on our way to our future, lest we not have one.

The trees. Each autumn they let go of their beauty, allowing themselves to lay bare for months before having another go at it just as the sun does each evening when it sets; earth's ultimate letting-go event. Then, through the barren Winter, Mother Earth, gravid, and in her First Bimester, holds the promise of yet a different kind of letting go when Spring arrives and we welcome the birth, the fruits of her labor,  knowing full-well that the beauty is short-lived.

Life can only be understood backwards but must be lived forwards
Soren Kiekegaard, Danish Philosopher and theologian

Friday, November 7, 2014

Retire Already

One of my closest friends from childhood is finally about to retire.  I say "finally" because her plans have been a very long time in the making and she wasn't exactly in a hurry.  She's single, has a nice house, and grown children.  She's weathered two divorces and raised her kids on her own. Totally on her own. And now, now she's scared of a silly thing like retirement and has asked me for advice.  :I'm good at dishing out advice. Not as good at taking it but when it comes to helping friends (who ask for help), I can be very, very good.

So, here's my advice.

Take a vacation.  Right away.  If you have any doubts about your decision, if you wonder if you have done the right thing, this will clarify it all in a very short time.  Have a great time when you are away and then, the day before your return, pretend you have to go back to work.  But you don't. Ahhhhhh.

Don't start sorting out, cleaning out, organizing or becoming a domestic goddess.  It is not worth it.  When you went to work, you probably dreamed of the day when you would have time to "do it all", to finally have closets and drawers all perfectly groomed as if they were going to be inspected by the military police.  So, you tidied up every morning and went off to your job.  Trust me, you will live in more of a mess than you have ever before and that, my friend, will be an indication of your happiness.  If you start out trying to keep a perfectly clean and organized home, your retirement might be pretty much dedicated to just that.

Find a class that meets during the day and join it.  Even if it isn't something that you are totally interested in, you probably will meet your new set of friends or at least one, who is also retired.  Forget about the "work friends" who send you off on that last day with promises to "get together for lunch soon".  Never happens so don't count on it.

Look for your creative voice and listen to it. You're human, it's there.  It might be way down deep inside there, in that place it got shoved when someone, maybe a parent, told you that the key to happiness came in having a "real job" and you got the message that to be creative was not a good thing.  Well, I got news for you.  Find a way to open up that channel.  Buy some paints, a brush, and a big pad of mixed-media paper and play with color.  Don't worry about making "mud".  If you stick to your palate, you won't make mud.If you don't know what that means, get a book and find out.

Do not concern yourself for one minute with the question of "boredom".  I have not had one real bored minute since I retired.  Work, for me, was incredibly boring and it sucked so much life out of me. Enjoy pulling your own strings, making your own decisions, never, ever having to sit through a business meeting, a seminar, a year-end performance review or the worst of the worst, a "setting goals" meeting with your boss.It won't take you long to wipe the mission, vision and values of your former employer, right off your brain. Enjoy the good laugh.

Play with your friends and let them know how much you appreciate them. They will give you so much more validation as a person than any boss or co-worker ever did.

Write real letters.

Never do a "full" grocery shopping again.  How will you know what you want to eat on Friday if today is Monday?  Shop for it on Friday.

Hang your clean sheets on the line.

Get rid of anything that isn't comfortable to wear.  Treat yourself to one good "lounging outfit" and don't get dressed for the day until you really have to.

Buy a new coffee mug.  One that makes you feel like hugging your coffee as you read your morning paper.

Be happy.  Don't worry.  Be happy. Don't worry.  Be happy. Don't worry. Be happy.  Don't worry.

Cherish every moment.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Well. guess what?  It appears that the leaf blowers were here again yesterday, cleaning up after last weekend's furious storm. I was not at home when they did their work but did note that all of the "other" car ports were free of leaves except ours.  Hmmm, I wonder if that had anything to do with my voice of indignation last week when they were here in full force?  Or was it simply a coincidence?  Maybe.

Last weekend's storm was a major force.  We watched trees sway in response to fifty mile per hour winds, wondering if they could possibly sustain much more, waiting for the first to snap, hoping that none would break off and crash through a window.  While it would not be a financial disaster, it certainly would be a  mess because the hole would allow the rain, lots and lots of it, to also come right in.  So, we were only half concerned.  One of the many benefits of living in rented space, gorgeous rented space I might add.

But, last weekend's storm hit another front, another major impact.  It was seven years ago, to the very date, that we loaded up a few of our belongings into a small truck and drove back to the Cape to remake our home.  It was "raining" that day and we gave not one thought to the approaching Nor'easter, one that resembled the past weekend almost to the letter.  The only difference then was the power that went off when we turned the key and did not return for several days. No loss this time.Still, lots of impact.  Lots of time for reflection and giving thanks for the past seven years of very good fortune.

Our decision to return to the Cape was an easy one.  It wasn't ours.  It belonged in that category of "open your heart and let yourself be guided".  The road here was difficult, the weather, only a metaphor for what was happening and about to happen, in our lives.  One mother, there,entering her nineties, in good health, surrounded by friends and family. One mother,here,entering her nineties, failing miserably in her health with only a husband who was starting his trip to dementia, alone the two of them.  Before me laid my last chance to spend time with my own mother, my final shot at being a "good daughter" and, as an added bonus, my opportunity to regain my own life, one that we had given up three years before when we moved in with mother in law.

So, the storm, with its velocity, reminded me of so many things.  Life, itself,  is a storm.  Wind brings change. Directions shift. We can stay inside, shelter ourselves, keep dry and wait for it to stop or we can get into a truck, drive on without questioning the status of the road ahead, and spray-paint the fallen leaves metallic gold before they curl up and die.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Noises Off

The Buddhists call it "Monkey Mind" and I am one of its biggest victims.
 I spend lots of time, burdened with monkeys who swing from branch to branch in my head. They oftentimes take breaks during the day but at night, they are in full swing, oh boy are they!  But at least they are fairly quiet as they do their work of distracting me from other important matters such as beauty sleep. But that's a whole other topic, one I've decided to not allow time and space for this morning as I write, listening to beautiful baroque music through ear buds.  I would not want to make any noise which might disturb my husband's sleep. God forbid.

I love these early Autumn mornings.  I am up before six and instead of damning my inability to return to slumber (the monkeys wake extra early), I have learned to welcome this, the hour before the sun rises. It's what I kindly refer now to as "Holy Hour" and I consider it a gift.  Quiet, peaceful, my time. The hour before the arrival of the noises that chase the monkeys away and fill my life with external disturbances in their place.

I've long been, let's say "noise conscious".  I have very good hearing.  Well, it's not as good as it once was but it's still decent.  When I hear a noise, I have to track it down in much the same way I have to find the source of an odor and that, my friends, has led me down more than one bad path.  A dead mouse here, a rotted potato there, find them, get rid of them and you're good for months.  But noise, that's different. Noise is everywhere and for some of us, it's very, very stressful.

It's funny that I worked in one of the world's nosiest cities and I can say with honesty, I was never bothered by it.  In fact, the noises of Manhattan during a work-week energized me and made me happy.  I'm also sure that I became immune to a lot of the sounds.It was when I came back home and found myself assaulted by the noises coming from my neighbors as they professed their dissatisfaction with each other, that I wished myself years older, suffering a hearing loss.

I once read an article on this very topic.  The writer shared my feelings about noises, especially those that invaded her private space.  In her essay, she told about a situation which was causing her lots of stress that started shortly after moving into a new apartment. Each night, her silence was crudely interrupted by a loud and unfamiliar noise, one that lasted a few minutes and then went away.  She was annoyed and baffled by what was causing the commotion.  The problem grew greater each day and her stress levels rose but she was already locked into a lease so she was powerless.....until.....she allowed her ears to lead the way and she located the source.  To her surprise, she discovered that her new apartment was right next door to a small theater and each night, she heard applause.  From that discovery on, she no longer found this to be disturbing, Her discovery turned the tables on her disturbances and, the difference between "good" and "bad" noise made her evenings pleasant as she envisioned the happy theater-goers and the lovely sound of their gratitude for a great performance. I instantly identified with the writer and made my own assessments.  I loved New York City but did not even like my neighbors.  Disparity recognized.

Yesterday morning, by 7:30, the leaf blowers were already at work, surrounding our apartment building, joined by the riding mowers.  There were five blowers, all blowing the same pile of leaves.  This was NOISE and it was relentless.  It took over my every thought for hours on end.  MY morning.  How dare they? Non-stop, not even a coffee break.  Hostile noise, punctuating a beautiful morning on a gorgeous day.  I was NOT happy and I let those sweet young men who were only doing their job, know it.  They'll be back and next time, I'm going to buy them coffee.  I'm going to make them my friends.  I'll even bring doughnuts.  I'll smile, make them smile back at me, I'll turn it all around, yes I will.

One more note on"noises versus sound."  There are some that I treasure, that I will never forget, never tire of recalling. The cries of my own newborns, seconds after their first breaths, that of my first-born grandchild, seconds after hers.  My husband saying "I do" almost forty five years ago. The beautiful voice of Elly Ameling, singing Vivaldi,coming through my ear buds at this very moment and the voices of the angels singing their morning song at Santa Chiara in Assisi almost two years ago to the day. To my dying day, I shall never forget that. Sounds, not "noise".  There's such a difference.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Trust Me

Photo Source:  Psychology Today
Have you ever been to one of those corporate training sessions, one where "bonding" activities are part of the very, very long day?  The boss hires someone who has an outstanding personality and a "way with people", most importantly, your boss, and you are all invited to stand up together and fall backwards onto the person behind you, "trusting" that he or she will catch you before you crash to the ground.  The exercise is intended to instill a feeling of trust and complete abandonment of your ability to control what happens next along with, your sense of better judgement.  So, you all lined up.  One by one, in domino style, you all fell down, into the waiting arms of the poor person behind you.  Your boss forked over a few thousand dollars to the "facilitator" and you learned nothing except that you were going to call in sick the next time a bonding event was scheduled.

Perhaps, after all is said and done, the not-so-graceful backward swan dives into the waiting arms of my colleagues, really have paid off.  I've accomplished the task of learning to simply "trust" a lot of things lately. I oftentimes call it "answering the Universe" and I follow the call without much doubt.  For instance, just yesterday, I actually allowed myself to lie down flat on my stomach for an hour while a surgeon, in whom I placed a whole bunch of trust, performed an "Endovenous Ablation" in treatment of some ugly varicose veins in my left leg.  In other words, without asking too many questions, I laid myself down and allowed someone who I had barely known, to shove a catheter which drew a laser into my vein, slowly withdrawing it to seal off the vein forever. The whole procedure, from bee-sting-like shots into my calf, to back in the car, leg wrapped up in elastic, took one hour.  We were back in the car in less time than it takes to do a load of wash.  I am walking like a marionette but I'm walking and so far, all is well.

I will have to wait until tomorrow morning when at last, I can remove the Ace Bandage that is tightly wrapped around my lower leg, underneath the compression stocking, to get a look at what actually happened during the time I was lying on my stomach.  I don't really know what it will look like.  I did not ask. I don't know what the surgeon was doing when he told me "a few bee stings", nor do I know what went on when the lights went out and I had to don dark glasses and a face mask for the last two minutes of the "procedure". I didn't ask.

For all I know, the doctor and his little team, present in the room at the time, might have implanted chips into my leg that would identify me as an alien.  Maybe I'm radioactive.  I could even be carrying illegal drugs for a cartel for all I know.  I didn't ask.  I just laid there and I trusted and I let man tend while I let God mend.

If you never hear from me again, it may be that I have beamed up but trust me, I'll be looking down at you so please don't call me an idiot for not asking.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My Happy Sadhana

We are an ecumenical community,
The Body of Christ, St. Mary of Magdala Church.
As the Church in this place at this time,
We are called to:
Gather for worship
Cherish our living catholic tradition;
Witness the Gospel; and 
Minister to others as Christians in the world.
All are welcome here.
The past two and a half years of my life have changed me.  These years actually resided within a larger group of years, hours spent in trying to find my path since my retirement from a work-life that had become stale, taking with it so many of my creative desires.  Fortunately, I did not allow my inner voices to cease and my journey is on-going.  I have become so much more aware of the gifts that the universe delivers, so alert to the messages, and the messengers and more and more, I try to follow the popcorn trail of inner-speak, allowing myself to be internally guided, to accept the fact that my thoughts need and love empathy and curiosity.

It is when I look and listen that I learn that all I really need is already here.  It is when I write that I am able to affirm this belief and it is through my creative pursuits that I have found an ability to trust my inner self more and rely less on what I took for granted as "right" for so many years.  Personal development, the building of new paths, is tough work but it can be exhilarating and fun.  

I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church. Dutifully, went to Mass every Sunday and, in the earlier days, on all "Holy Days of OBLIGATION".  Just because my parents did. I followed, almost to this day, the path of least resistance in my spiritual pursuits. My mother, I now have a hunch, had ideas of her own, perhaps an inner voice that was begging to be heard, but she dutifully did what her parents did and sadly, she remained attached to "outcomes."  

It does not surprise me that at the height of my angst regarding my own spiritual journey some very, what to me are relevant signs, popped up.  First, out of the mouth of a highly unlikely person in one of my writing groups, came the link to the Chopra Center  Next, on the very day that I had decided to establish my very own "Sadhana"*, I opened my email and found a blog that was written by a former writing workshop classmate and I knew, without a doubt, that the popcorn trail has been laid out and I was ready to follow my inner voices. Boy, was I ever!!  I was convinced that the time was right and my inner guidance system would be allowed to operate in harmony with the rest of my world.

So, on Sunday, joined by another searching friend,I took the plunge, dove in head-first, and found what I may have been seeking for a long time in a small congregation of people, motivated by their faith and their desire to be part of an Ecumenical Catholic community rather than an Exclusive Catholic community.  Their mission statement, above, says it simply and it is the very last line that became the bait that I grabbed and hope to hold on to for a very long time to come.

Just think....a church where all are welcome.  All.  Where personal spiritual goals are recognized and honored.  Where both men and women can become clergy.  Where all relationships are validated and no one is judged or excluded. Where people of all ages are encouraged to follow what they believe is right for them, even if it means taking the paths of resistance rather than remaining on those of least resistance. Where the homily is relevant and clear. Where the parishioners are invited to comment on what they just heard and not judged by what they say. Talk about finding Heaven on Earth!

It wasn't easy, taking that first step but it was easy stepping away from what I found to be so wrong for me. Change, even for the better, is not easy.  Discernment takes time and courage.  I'm not turning away from anything, I'm turning toward something new, exciting and liberating.  I'm listening to my inner voices, letting go of those things that I had been taught were the "rules", the only open gates to where, I'm not sure I know.

I'm listening to my thoughts with empathy and curiosity and it's a whole new way of doing business but I am glad I did not wait much longer. And, one last thing. Comments from readers are now possible again so please, feel free!

*Sadhana is a Sanskrit word that translates into "a spiritual discipline undertaken in pursuit of a goal"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What's Not to Not Like?

Christopher Columbus photo courtesy of The Huffington Press
I've finally slept off the effects of having spent an entire "holiday" weekend with a precocious grandchild.  She wore me out, not so much physically....well, I take that back, but mentally.  My ears were at the point of bleeding.  I could not say, "my, my" one more time and my eyes could not hold their fix as often as demanded without feeling like I needed eyelid surgery.  It was a treasure of a three days and I'll go back for more again and again, one-on-one with a granddaughter. We love giving them our full attention and, in doing so, we get to know each of the two so much better.  There's a wholesome lack of competition for our time, the choice of movie at the end of the day, or day's activities.  Each of the girls gets her "moment" and, hopefully, each gets a set of memories that surely, one day they will alter to fit whatever occasion they wish, making us seem very ancient long before our time in their recounts.

The past weekend was a three day "Columbus Day" celebration.  Kids and parents, for years and years, have cherished it as the first "holiday" of the school year, the one that brings sales at the mall, special deals at the car dealerships, and mini-breaks a "tank away" for families who take twenty-second gasps at the beauty of nature and head off to remain indoors viewing racks of clothing and bins of items that they already have too much of back home. Of course, there are the requisite cider and doughnut purchases and perhaps for those who have never done it, the "must-do" apple picking.  For those who have, it is a "must-not," under any circumstances.I favor instead,  my daughter's choice.  A chip off the old block, she prefers to do her picking at a nice supermarket.  It is true what they say about that apple not falling far from the tree.

And so, we enjoyed a full three days, courtesy of Christopher Columbus, the one who sailed the Ocean Blue and became a true hero in history for having "discovered"America. Tralalalala. Stop right there Grandparents.  Big bubble about to burst.  Six hundred years have been awfully kind to a man who we now have "discovered" was not the man the textbooks wanted us to come to know and love. Our grand kids are not precocious by some kind of freak accident.  They have been genetically engineered.  We, the "children of light"brought forth the "children of brilliance" who have now brought forth the "children who won't be children for very long".  Enlightened?  Super-charged.  Tell 'em the truth, nothing but the truth and teach them to question.  Not-such-a-bad-idea but couldn't we have waited just a tad bit longer before the Facebook reveal?  Did we have to, just now, with everything else that's wrong and scary going on in the world, have to expose Chris as a man who, if he were alive today would be put on trial for crimes against humanity.
Thanks to our friends at the Huffington Post, we learn that "Columbus' reign of terror, as documented by noted historians, was so bloody, his legacy so unspeakably cruel, that Columbus makes a modern villain like Saddam Hussein look like a pale codfish." and we are asked to answer this question: "Why do we honor a man who, if he were alive today, would almost certainly be sitting on Death Row awaiting execution?"

Of course, my thoughts on Columbus have greatly changed.  Who knew?  I believe in the right to life, all life (I don't give a rat's ass about what you think of that and if you don't like it, please remember you were not forced to visit my blog), and if Chris disrespected life, tortured and killed people, I haven't any room in my heart for him and will be willing to join the growing numbers (courtesy of Facebook) who are also not amused.  But now?  Why now?  Ebola.  Be-headings. War. Guns killing innocents. Pedophiles in the news every day.  These poor kids.  Do they stand a chance at happy, carefree childhood?  Even if you keep yours away from the evening news, the exposure will come from a school friend who wasn't as shielded.  Kids, talking like adults at the office would. I may not be as smart as my own kids but I can predict the future, in a somewhat eerie way and I'm predicting that the best bet for a choice of profession will be in the field of mental health.  Remember all those new grads who headed for I.B.M. in the sixties?  Their grand kids will be hot and heavy in pursuit of counseling degrees because there will be plenty of business.  Brave new world, at their doorstep.

My friend Barbara and I shared a lively hour on the phone last night, our discussions almost always leading to our thoughts on current world situations and our collective sighs result from our frustrations at having so little personal power to change anything.  She was unaware of the new perspective on Columbus so I filled her in to the best of my ability and added, "what's next, Barbara, Christmas?" She reminded me that it has been up for grabs for a few years now, just like Easter and a few others.  But, there's Halloween.  "Nah," she said,"Halloween will always be around."  After all, it is the celebration of sinister and evil, nothing there with which to tamper or dissuade participation. Watch out,Thanksgiving, you're sure to be next.  Gluttony is something we Americans celebrate every day so who needs a day during which we actually gather as a family and sit down at a table, enjoying each other's company, sharing a value?  Why now?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dearest Elizabeth

Dearest Elizabeth,

I've been thinking about you for a few months.  It's funny how people pop into our minds and hang out there for some random reason.  You can't know how many times I said to myself  "I must call Liz" and how many times I procrastinated.  You are one of only three of my friends who don't use email and when you called me a few years ago, you told me that you were not a computer user and I understood.  You sounded happy and relaxed, the way I remember you always having been.  Uncomplicated, a role model for living a simple and meaningful life.  You did just fine without modern technology.  Good for you, my friend.

I remember when we first met.  Your brother Bob brought me to your home on Court Street in Provincetown.  I think I was all of seventeen and you, nineteen, already a mother to the most adorable baby boy in the entire world, Aaron.  How could he not have been beautiful, that little Portagee who had your same lovely face, the same big brown eyes that held a glow as if they were lit by candles.  You, a single mom, living a simple life with your parents who adored your son and sacrificed anything and everything they had to make a home for both of you.  Your home became a place, so familiar and comforting to me, that I can walk through it in my mind to this day.  White walls, a pantry, a kitchen for gathering, a narrow set of stairs that led up to the three bedrooms that belonged to you and your two brothers.  Did you parents even have a bedroom of their own?  Your brother was my first real boyfriend and you accepted me into your heart as if I would one day become his wife, from the very moment we met.  And it was from that very first moment that I started to share with the world my thoughts on your amazing beauty and your sweet, sweet personality.  But, I always wondered if you wanted more in your life.  It was so hard to tell.  You were so totally in love with your baby and rarely complained about being so young and so out of the game already.

I remember Jennifer Milley and I, both young and poor nursing students.  Together, we scraped together three dollars and bought Aaron a little shirt.  You would have thought we had paid for his college, you were so grateful and gracious.  Your manners were impeccable, your formal education, so limited. But, my friend, you ran rings around the better educated and more-privileged people I then knew or have since.  You were so wise and so practical and I knew your wanted more and one day, you found it.  Along came your friend, Tommy Turner.  "Tucker" was what we all called him.  He became spellbound, fell madly in love with you and your baby boy and you found a way to love him back, knowing that he was going to provide you with happiness and security, the two things that were missing in your beautiful life.  And, you did marry him.  It was winter, wasn't it?  I can't recall the date but I know that as your maid of honor, I wore purple velvet, my dress recycled as a short version of the one I wore to Cam's wedding as a bridesmaid, months before.  I don't think your brother was my boyfriend but maybe he was.  My memory serves me best as I think of you and Tommy on that day and then the nice little house in Truro; Aaron had his own room, a back yard, and a daddy who adored him.  Next in your new life, a baby girl and another great honor for me, not only a namesake, but a first godchild, Jennifer Lynn Turner.  Now, you had two babies to share.  I was so happy for you and so happy for myself.  Tommy worked hard and his pride grew by leaps and bounds to the point of a near heart-burst on that day we all christened the "Jennifer Lynn" at Rock Harbor. I had a new boyfriend by then and Joe came to love you all in the same way I did.  Family.

My thoughts always seem to find you in a summer maternity blouse, sliding down the slide into the swimming pool at my parent's Eastham house.  Pregnant with Rachel.  Another beautiful baby for the Turner family. And I wondered how you were dealing with Tucker's drinking and his black-outs and hoped to God that you would all make it through, that your happiness would one day return and that you and Tommy could be as you were back there on Court Street, filled with love and hope.  I admired you for your fortitude and heard you say unhappy things for the first time since I had met you, years before. Tough times, loss, your marriage started to seem strained.  I was sure that you wanted more in life. But, you held your place as a woman who I loved and admired, one from whom I had learned and would learn so much more.

There are things I have already forgotten in my life, things that I am sure occurred but my brain has not held on to but Elizabeth, I will, to my dying day, never forget your phone call on that July evening.  I wasn't until I had to tell my own mother and my own children, that it became real and that I cried.  I still can't imagine it all. Your beautiful babies, their grandmother, a head-on collision.  The wake, the funeral, your sobs....."my babies...." Your baby girl, laid to rest in the white dress that I had made her for her First Communion only months before. Your baby boy's big brown eyes, no longer lighting up his beautiful face.So many years ago and I can bring myself back to that day, those moments, see the floral pieces, feel the emptiness and know that you wanted anything in life now, but this.

Again, I found my self enthralled by your amazing talent for living.  I know that it took time and finally, Tucker, to bring you back to life by telling you that you had jumped into the grave with your children and he,who had lost children and his own mother, needed you to be there for him and for your little Rachel and for yourself.  And so, you restored your beauty and Tommy kept his vow to not abandon his sobriety, the vow he made on the day of the funeral when he said "I quit drinking for my kids so I'll be damned if I am going to start again now that they're dead".  And then, another baby for you to love, Ryan.

I don't know what transpired in the years before you and Tucker fell apart. I won't even venture a guess at what finally destroyed your dreams but perhaps when it was all said and done, you found out what I had been wondering all those years, that you really did want more and when I last visited you on the Cape, miles away from Provincetown and Truro, I recognized it and rejoiced and then you moved to Maine and I lost touch with you.  But, I knew you had re-discovered happiness and hoped for the best for dear Tucker.  I'm sure that the best, was you, and doubt that he ever found anything better in his life,but maybe.

What I do know is that he said the loveliest things about you last summer.  I found this out through the "grapevine," from a mutual friend that I did not even know we had, one who I had only recently discovered to have grown up in P-town.  I asked if she knew you and she told me that she was at your funeral and that Tommy "spoke" lovingly. And then she added that it was so sad, his death only six months after yours.  She told me something that I had already known, that she thought that you and Tommy always shared a love, through it all.  I would have thought the same.

And now, I'm sad, so very, very sad Elizabeth.  I cry when I think of it all, from the very start to the end, one, that as a friend,  I should have known was coming.  And I wonder if you are buried near your babies in Truro and I hate myself for not making that phone call, a long time ago.  At least, I now know why you have been on my mind.  Perhaps your spirit surrounded me and wanted me to know that you were back with Tommy Tucker and your babies.  I can't help but think that is what you always wanted. But you waited patiently and lived a sweet and simple and love-filled life. Of that,  I'm certain.  I can still see your smile and I pray it never left you.

Rest in peace, all of you. And thank you for sharing the best parts of your lives.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Prompt: What I Long For

I belong to an on-line writing community, one to which I haven't posted to in a very long time. It's called the Writer's Journey Roadmap, and it is authored by Laura Davis.  You can find out more about Laura here:  Every Tuesday, Laura sends out inspiring quotes and "provocative writing prompts" via email.  The result is a supportive environment in which writers from any place in the world can delve deep and come up with honest thoughts on any number of topics or ideas.  Most of the prompts call for writers to introspect and to put forth their innermost and honest thoughts.  This, of course, is not easy.  Writing to be read is scary sometimes but at all times, honest writing is a gift that we give ourselves if we take the time.  Again and again, I think of one of the most profound quotes I've ever found relating to writing.  It goes like this......It is when we write that we learn most about ourselves.

So, I'm going to try to answer as many of Laura Davis' future prompts with this new season ahead and will share a few, certainly not all, starting with today's.  I did not have to give it much thought and here it is in it's simplicity, my response to Laura.


 My heart longs to have a body that is held up b y beautiful legs. I've always wanted to have perfectly proportioned, slim, but shapely legs. But, as I write this, I can’t help but get into my real self, the one with the fat, lumpy legs, the woman who feels so blessed in so many other ways. The one who has been given the gift of compassion and the intelligence to understand what is so wrong with my heart longing for something so unimportant when every day there are people in this world, my world, who would long to have legs, any legs. So, my heart longs for an end to cruelty and war. My heart’s desire is to go back in time, at least far enough to the days before events as horrific as the Boston Marathon bombing, the World Trade Center tragedy, the unrest and horror in the Middle East. Were I to have the power to satisfy my heart’s longings, just the power to do so, I would be totally happy.

Monday, October 6, 2014


The "Womanly Art of Breastfeeding"

The Amazing art of Christopher Malatesta

My entry into parenthood did not come fifty years ago.  Mine came almost forty four years ago, back in the day when "cool" things were just starting to emerge in the world of motherhood and when the words "natural childbirth" were only spoken in places where kids who's moms sprinkled wheat germ on their oatmeal hung out.  There was a nasty war going on in Vietnam, our friends were going off to some place we had not even heard about in our geography classes, and not returning.  We still remembered where we were when we first heard of the gigantic traffic jam on the New York Thruway, caused by people heading off to a place called "Woodstock", and college romances always led to weddings soon after graduations.  Oh, I could list so many more things that would describe those days, but I have an aversion to those things we get via forwarded emails, that make us sit, read and reminisce ad nauseum.  I'm just going to say that there were some of us who were on the cusp when it came to the new age, long before a lot of things became "cool". I know that one day, in the not-too-distant future, I will be writing volumes more about all of this but for now, let me tell my little story.

The first photo, the black and white, shows the founding mothers of the LaLeche League.  They were a group of moms who took on the noble task of making sure that the world knew of the benefits of breastfeeding babies, something that had gone out of vogue many years prior to that time.  The little group grew and grew, becoming an international organization, one that would be referred to later on as a "militant"group.  Yes, they were.  No, they were not.  They simply had a great idea, one that could possibly make babies healthier and moms happier should they chose that route.  They believed that babies came first, no matter what method of feeding.  Babies took time and it was time well spent.  We moms had questions, they had answers.  We had zero support from our moms and most of our friends, they had tons of it and it was that support that became the incubator for countless friendships, fifty years before the internet and the cold face of Facebook.  And it was at a LaLeche League gathering, one that I needed to attend so badly after relocating to Cape Cod, that I met a group of women who I shall never forget.  One of them was a tiny, soft-spoken, kind-hearted person who also had a baby girl.  She gave birth to another baby girl and eventually, to a baby boy who she named Christopher.

I recognized the name but it wasn't until I saw him, his dad and his sister last Tuesday afternoon, working together so lovingly, to hang his huge show at the Cultural Center, that I put it all together. A young, emerging artist, getting ready for a huge show.  And, it was at the opening reception of that huge show that we re-united.  Two moms, two dads, grown children, big hugs and smiles. Christopher's older sister is now forty one.  My daughter is also forty one.  And yes, we spent many happy hours together, nursing our babies, something that we'll always remember and cherish.  For us, it was an art form or at least that is the height to which we elevated it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

You can call it Karma

TRUST me, it was more than just a weekend with the "girls".

We met many, many, many years ago when we were classmates in elementary school.  We could not have been much older than seven or eight when that happened.  We have been through loves, marriages, babies, divorces, children, grandchildren.  Together, we've supported each other.  Life, death, sickness, health.  It's almost as if we are all married to each other.  But it's even better than that.  I'm the renegade, the one who has always done things differently, moved away, came back, moved away again.  Went to a different high school.  All went to the same college.  Mix it up, throw it all around, do whatever you can do to it but it always comes out the same....four of the best friends four people could ever have.  We're the original Cemetery Club.

It started on Friday afternoon.  Two ventured up from New York, one remained behind.  I made swordfish.  We had lots of wine and we laughed and never stopped laughing until Monday morning.
We called it "Karma" weekend but it wasn't exactly Karma.  We just couldn't find a word to describe what kept happening.  It was some kind of supernatural force that began on Saturday, on the beach.

We watched the movie "Kinky Boots" on Friday night. Random. So many movies to choose from but that's what we watched.  Next day, we're walking on the beach and another little group of women are walking behind us, talking about "Kinky Boots", the movie!  It is not a new movie and I know very few people who have seen it. Random.

We love recipes.  So,  we three foodies bring food magazines to the beach and thumb through them, sharing our "finds" as we go along.  One of us finds a recipe for a dish that was most unusual, made with Brussels sprouts, sounding very good indeed.  While in the "mood", we discuss plans for dinner out the next night.  I suggest a place,  Janet looks it up on her phone, checks out the menu and as spooky as it can possibly be, finds that they offer the exact unusual recipe from the magazine, the one we had just recited. Random.

Monday morning arrives and sadly, we're having our last burst of conversation. We talk about connecting to our families.  Lori's in the shower.  Janet and I are crying. I bring up my favorite topic of late....."where will we live when the lease is up in July" and I confess that I miss my kids, want to be closer to my granddaughters who are growing up too fast.  I tell both of my friends that I rarely hear from my children, that it is I who usually calls them and I feel badly when both of them tell me that they talk to their daughters every day and phone rings......and it's my daughter.  Random.

You cannot make this stuff up.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Holy Coldy

My almost-ninety-three year old father has the start of a cold.  I know this because his wonderful neighbor who stops in to see him a few mornings a week, called me.  She also told me that he told her sometime last week that he had passed out cold at some point, not related to anything.  Just passed out, on the floor, got up and carried on.  Never told me one thing about this. So, today, I will go on over to pay him a visit, play my little cat and mouse game that has become part of my life since Mom died, and try to ascertain just what is going on without telling him that I had news from his neighbor. If I do let on, he will never tell her anything again and I will have lost an ally.

So, for now, we're back to that cold he has.  An Upper Respiratory Infection, one that is probably viral in nature, came from some other viral "carrier".  Back to my last post.....those damned hands....of a stranger.  My father hasn't any visitors other than family and lately, that means myself and my husband.  He doesn't shop or go out to eat.  He hasn't been anywhere that would have exposed him to "germs" except for Sunday Mass.  Ah ha!

Now, that brings me to church.  Err, not to church.  Not the one I was told was "my" church or "my" faith.  The one I embraced because my parents and their parents did.  No choice here, just did what they did and found that it is so true, that adage "if you always do what you always did, you'll get what you've always gotten".  Thank you Tony Robbins.  So, I always did what I always did and let's just say it's time to find a new way of doing.  I'm searching but that's not the point of this post.

So, that brings me back to the cold and the doing and the hands and the rituals of the church that I have always called "mine".  The Catholic liturgy includes "offering each other some sign of peace", right smack in the middle of the service.  I suppose that shaking hands comes from the extension of the olive branch from ancient times so, that's what they do, shake hands.  I'm sure my father, following the rules as he does, turns to the people closest and accepts the old shake at the right time and then he returns to his holy thoughts......"do dogs think?"......"when someone is cremated, do they have clothes on?".  My children will know what this is about.

And that all brings me back to where I wanted to be in the first place.  If you always shake hands with people who might possibly be in church, sick as your dog, but afraid that God will be putting a big black mark next to their name should they remain at home, taking care of themselves and saving others from getting whatever they might be harboring, you will always get what you'll always gotten, a cold!!!

Damn you.