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The Autumnal Equinox

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011


There was a time in my life, a well-ordered-I’m-in-control time in my life, that my
Christmas presents were wrapped and neatly stowed in hiding by December first. I believed that by being well-prepared, I took away a great deal of the pressure that detracts from the holiday spirit. Rather than shopping on the weekends preceding Christmas, I could make cookies with the children, write out greeting cards, go for long walks or do other activities that gave me pleasure. However, I have not been able to observe that practice for six years. I can be certain that it is SIX years, because tomorrow will be the sixth anniversary of our move into our house.
In the intervening six years, the months leading up to December 1st have, without exception, been a roller coaster ride into chaos. The careful lists and neatly packed ornaments and decorations, - in other words, the habits and the traditions of a lifetime - have been cast aside to make room for more pressing matters. The Advent Calendar that features little doors that open daily between December 1st and December 25th was discovered one year, in a box on December 23rd - when we were trying to get ornaments on a tree that we had bought that afternoon. The practice of hanging the kissing ball from the front foyer light was overlooked for three out of the past five years. For two years, I created a makeshift rendition. The 18 inch carolers that have graced the top of the waterbench since my son was born seventeen years ago, didn’t find their way to light in the recent past. Last year, I found them, sans music. I cut miniature sheets of music from my piano assignment book and carefully placed the sheet music into their tiny, outstretched hands. And the lights, which, to me are so central to the season, have most often been quickly placed at strategic places, without the artistic glory and effort the lights once evoked.
I have seen the consequences of people making New Year’s resolutions without a clear intention and plan to keep them. I will not make that mistake about the coming holiday season. I will not chastise myself for the aspects of the season that, for reasons of sanity and health, I let go. I will not promise that this will be the BEST year ever. I will do my best to observe the traditions our family has come to observe over time. Tomorrow will be the first of December. Despite my history of having my shopping mostly completed by this date, I have made a start on my gift-giving selections. Some gifts have even been wrapped. However, there are, to date, no decorations hung to lend the house a festive feeling. The reason I am at peace with this deviation from the norm was captured in small, white light bulbs on the outside wall of a local gift and garden center. The bulbs must remain plugged in throughout the season, because the words spelled out by the lights seem to emerge as daylight gives way to dusk. The season, about all else is about one thing for me.
....the Light cometh!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Technological Ineptitude

My husband once asked that, when his time comes, that I engrave his memorial headstone with the words, “Lord knows I tried.” I can relate. Particularly when it comes to things technological. Computers and phones and printers all have been known to reject me. I might have given up altogether but I have children dragging, coaxing and leading me. They help me accept the next generation of gadgets, gizmos and computers. Granted, I not only accepted, but I embraced the iPhone, the Macbook Air, and the iPod Touch that they suggested. I can tweet, text and email without much thought. In fact, when I go on vacation, I am loaded down with chargers, external hard drives and headphones because I have grown attached to the convenience and diversions they offer. However, just when I start to feel secure about formatting, googling and data transfer, a new feature, the iCloud has come along to obscure things.
When it comes to this, the next greatest feature, I have no idea what I am doing. I want to join the iCloud in the sky, but I can’t seem to get things to sync. I have resources at hand to help me with my frustration. First, my children: all three are fluent in computerese. If I can arrange for them to sit them down long, they will show me how to move on with the next generation of products. I learn more watching them navigate on my computer for half an hour than I can teach myself in a month. Second, a young man who is studying computer technology will come over if I provide a snack and a small stipend. I present a list of questions and he methodically checks them off as we discuss each topic. The third option is to use online resources. There are websites, you-tube videos and on-line manuals that can solve just about any of my roadblocks. The trouble is that I run out of patience trying to decode them. The last resort is to call Apple and make an appointment at the store. They will help me with whatever my most current issue is, but, predictably, what makes perfect sense under the bright fluorescent lights of Apple Computers fades away with each mile I put between us as I return home.
I had a funny call from my aunt and uncle last week. They must be in their seventies now. They left me a voice mail about my work on our family tree (Yes, I am using Ancestry.com). The message was over five minutes. At the end, the urged me to call, email or text them. They said, “We are trying to keep up with the young people and their technology. So far, so good.”
With the overall positivity about living in an age that races ahead with generation after generation of new echnology. I shouldn’t feel downcast about a few occasional lapses. However, tonight I have 84 pictures on my iPhone that I wanted to load onto my computer to share with my readers. They resisted my best efforts to coax them off my phone onto my computer. I have reached the point that I surrender to my ignorance. I waive my hopes to upload these photos onto Flickr. The time will come when I understand the newest technology. However, just as grasp it, I know a press release will be issued that boasts news of the next generation of hardware or software that is being released. Apparently, I will always be a newcomer to the table serving technology as its entree.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Beatitudes and Dawn

The Eight Beatitudes
"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they shall have their fill.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10

I like to be available to give answers. I am happy to be provide family and friends with information that I may have-- that they do not.

How do I wash and dry my comforter?
What is the best way to bring down a fever in a child?
Where did you get those curtains?
How do you publish a book?
When do I stop trying to please him?
Are lemon seeds poisonous?
Can I eat the skin on the salmon filet?

For a long time, I have felt pleased to share what little wisdom I have gleaned. The first time I recollect offering advice when my advice was sought, I attended Brookside Elementary School.
It came about when I was in fourth grade, I was called Dawn, the Peacemaker. Whenever there were conflicts - classmates would come to me and ask me to resolve the small playground disputes. It was a role I neither asked for, nor wanted. It was foisted upon me. However, in Sunday school, I learned the bible verse, Mathew 5:9.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”
This was all I needed to know. I wanted to be a Child of God. If all I had to do was parcel out advice and resolve disputes to gain God’s benediction, sign me up.
After all, I already knew how to do that dance.

As Sunday school progressed, I learned there were an entire list of beatitudes. I went home and rifled through my bookshelves until I found a very small, worn book. It was a book I had treasured when I was little. The illustrations were hand-drawn beautifully. Page after page, there were happy children on swings, gathered around Jesus, working together. Suddenly, I recalled how my parents or my sister would read the verse aloud to me until such time I could read the verses myself. They had been read to me so much that I internalized them without even knowing it.

The beatitudes are eight blessings from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. It was through these teachings that Jesus expressed the highest and most true ideals of Christianity. Jesus preached that mercy, spirituality and compassion are the virtues toward which we should strive.
Putting aside all religious connotation, there seems to be an absolute truth to these blessings. Recently, I have started reading Buddhist writings and I am finding that there are some truly basic beliefs that transcend religion. These truths speak to humanity at its best. I will continue to do my small part to contribute to a world that keeps mercy, spirituality and compassion alive.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Report Card

Dawn in her new grey beret with pompom.

When raising children is your life's work, you do not often receive a performance review. Pay grades are not evaluated annually. There are no guarantees that the methods you use to introduce a spiritual and moral framework to your children will withstand the rigorous assault of peer pressure, social mores. When the children were little, I would go to the parent-teacher conferences with a sense that my child’s appraisal was a direct reflection on my efforts as a mother. It was easier to hear the areas than needed work than the hard-won accolades the children earned through their academic or creative endeavors. It was in the areas that they needed help that I found my calling. The fact that my children all worked hard, stayed out of trouble and worked toward goals that they set for themselves was evidence that something was working with what they received at home.
When high school ends, so too, do the report cards sent home to invested parents.
Professors deal directly with the students and there is little to no room for parents in the rarefied air of academia. I miss the objective appraisals that helped me see my child for who they were outside and apart from their relationship with me.
However, I discovered there are other, more tangible measures of the kind of children who I have helped raise to adulthood. The past couple of months have given me ample evidence of what kind of children I claim as mine.
~ When my middle daughter, Kay, needed her older sister, Hannah, she put down the reins of her life in D.C. to go to New York City to be at Kay’s side.
~When Kay and I ran out of gas on the Interstate, my son, Charles, and Hannah dropped everything on Thanksgiving to buy gas cans and fill them with gas. They rescued us within an hour of our call.
~When I was feeling rather blue today, Hannah and Charles found a gift for me. They recalled I wanted a beret and they gave me a grey one - complete with a pompom.
~When we were shopping at the Natick Mall yesterday, I grew tired and was ready to go wait in the car while Hannah and Kay continued their exploration. Kay and Hannah insisted I use a wheel chair. Kay pushed it, Hannah was our porter. It was at that moment I realized that I no longer need a report card to tell me whether my life’s work matters. It is in the way my children, Hannah, Kay and Charles, choose to live their lives that I can see my guidance has, perhaps, helped steer them toward a place where they can express their individuality while still being caring members of humanity.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Psalm

“You have to do the best with what God gave you.”
Forrest Gump

There are movies that bear watching - again and again and again.
There are books that deserve reading - over and over and over.
There are songs that warrant aclose listening - time and again.
When I ask what it is about those movies and books and songs that resonate within us I find one answer. It seems they contain a message or a key note that resonates with our own struggles and triumphs. As we make our passage through life, we tend to look for validation that what we are doing and where we are going matters. We are looking for peace, for proof that our lives have meaning. Equally, we need to be uplifted and reassured that our passage contributes to the well-being of others.
Return to those movies, pull out those books and put those records on. Renew your faith in who you are and what makes you unique. Lift your eyes toward heaven, open your heart to new beginnings. Lay down your fears and sorrows.
As Forrest Gump says,
“ You’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.”

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hotel Hobby

In recent years, I have found myself - due to circumstances good and bad - staying in a lot of hotels. The hotels have been in Chicago, New York, Washington D.C. and Boston.
I am a dedicated user of online search engines to find a hotel that meets my standards, in the city I am visiting, at a price that meets my budget. I also sign up for travel blogs as well as franchise discount programs so that I can take advantage of their best prices. In other words, I try to be travel savvy.
Over the course of my travels, I have discovered some things worth sharing:
~I almost always call the hotel directly to ask their reservation desk the very best rate they can offer me. Sometimes, when they find I have done my homework, they do meet the online rates which are often lower. However, there are other times, the reservation desk says they simply can’t meet the rates that Expedia or Orbitz can deliver.
~I rarely stay at a hotel that is less than a 4 star. It is not that I won’t deviate from that, but I find the accommodations that are most comfortable for me include luxuries like down comforters and attentive services. Boutique hotels do not often room service, but boy, oh boy they do go above and beyond with little thoughtful things - like umbrellas on rainy days, EXTRA towels (I mean, at the prices they charge, why skimp?), and afternoon teas. My hotel rooms must have, without exception, a bathtub and hot water. ~I can advise you never to accept a room that is directly across from an elevator. If the dinging bell doesn’t bother you, the disembarking guests will. The other side to that observation is that the room behind the elevator is usually as loud due to the engineering and mechanics of elevators.
~I do read guest reviews before booking in a hotel where I have not stayed previously.
Here is where I learn how far the establishment might be from public transportation, or that the wifi service doesn’t work. Also, in reviews, I often glean tips. For example, that a Trader Joe’s is two blocks away, that the best wine in town may be found at the wine bar across the street or that, though check-out is earlier than usual, the hotel provides complementary luggage storage. These hints make navigating a new hotel a bit easier.
This is not meant to be a primer on how to find a really nice hotel for a good price. Really! As I write, while lying in bed in a a lovely four star hotel, I am enjoying a bit of a joke I played on myself. I was so excited to find a 4.5 star hotel in the neighborhood of Boston where I wanted to stay, that I never actually recognized that I stayed here about a year ago. Of course, the outside looked familiar, but when I stepped inside and saw the holiday decor, I remembered being here in a blizzard. As a result, I came up with this new hobby for myself, Starting here and now, I am going to take snapshots of the hotels where I stay. Not only will I have a travel-log of sorts, I will, hopefully, remember where I have been.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksgiving Recipe

A much-loved family meal is done. The leftovers have been bagged, labelled and refrigerated. The dishes have been washed and put away. The kitchen has the post-Thanksgiving glow that speaks of hard work and optimism. Sunset has turned to darkness and the stars are now the main players to populate the evening sky. There’s a brief interlude before anyone can consider eating another bite; it’s a period of reprieve from laying out food and starting once again on gastronomical treasures. After having prepared the meal that has come to have certain familiar and predictable components, I am really, truly, all used up. I was ready to retire to my chamber. For reasons that were slow to come to me, I felt ready to cry. Now go figure.
With just a few minutes of Transcendental Meditation, five minutes or so of Zen meditation, a dose of introspection and a wing and a prayer, it came to me.
The year between Thanksgiving 2010 and Thanksgiving 2011 has been both physically and emotionally challenging for me. The road, uncharted. To arrive at this juncture, on this day, and to find myself at the dining table surrounded by the people I love most, filled me with an intense sense of bittersweet joy. I can recall my childhood Thanksgivings shared with cousins, aunts, uncles, and extended families. I recollect the numbers of Thanksgivings my husband and I observed before children, and the twenty-one we have celebrated since the children arrived. HIstory reaches into the past while the future unfurls into the black void of the unknown. The unifying thread through all the ages has been, and remains, the celebration of family ~ and gratitude. The dizzying addition to the mix is the realization that the only way that love can survive intact through the many the vicissitudes of life is if we practice forgiveness, mourn our losses, and cling to our faith and express our gratitude for our munificent blessings. I am convinced that I have identified the recipe for a live of happiness and joy, I hope to find that particular recipe when I prepare my Thanksgiving table next year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Night Before

This evening has the holiday feel of Christmas Eve. All three children are under one roof. They have converged from various activities, distant states and academic busy-ness. The refrigerator and freezer are infallible indicators of an upcoming celebration. They are stocked with Food. Some selections are simple - heavy cream, boiled eggs, apple cider and clementines. Other food speaks to a slightly more sophisticated palate - goat cheese, Versailles greens, Chocolate Mousse and shrimp skewers. On this holiday Eve, I hear one daughter talking on the phone in a murmured undertone late into her night, early into my morning. Somewhere, I imagine her boyfriend delighted to have her as his captive audience. My son and my other daughter like to chat about nothing of import for a very long time. I hear her laughter erupt, then his low rumbling voice hammer away at some point or another. Their conversation weaves like branches of a rumbling brook. When my daughter’s boyfriend joins her for her visits home, he and my son build on their friendship just a little more. After five years, these young men still continue to broaden the base of their friendship; they recognize that they are fellow travelers on this life adventure.
Tonight, in a reprise of a tradition that has been upheld in our family for over twenty years, our family and guests gathered around a table to eat the dinner before the one in which we gorge ourselves on seasonal treats. Three days ago, I booked dinner reservations at Goten of Japan. Tonight may be the evening before our dining table groans under the weight of turkey and stuffing, cranberry sauce, rolls, butter, peas, corn, mashed potatoes and more. Tonight we gather around a flame that is used to prepare foods not native to our appetites, delicious none-the-less. Tonight we are on the precipice of a day nationally designated for giving thanks. However, it seems wildly improbable that I could be any more thankful than I am tonight, the night before.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Some Days

Some days are simply stellar. Everything that can go wrong, goes right. The cup of coffee you left on the roof of the car when you started to drive away was still on the roof of the car when you remembered it. The library called to say they found $100 you left in your library book, do you want to come pick it up? You children sat too quietly while you prepared dinner. The reason? They worked together to draw you a picture of them gathered around you, all smiling.
Your husband gave you a foot massage while you watched “Grey’s Anatomy,” a show he calls a Chick Flick.
Some days are disasters. The mail contains all advertisements, bills, and a notice from the IRS that you underpaid your taxes two years ago; you now owe taxes and penalties due within thirty days. Your vacation plans have to be cancelled because your daughter developed the chicken pox (What do you mean the immunization doesn’t provide 100% protection?). You have an argument with your spouse over recent credit charges then take a call from his mother who wants to discuss her recipe for bread pudding. Finally, someone backed into your car, and though you know things could be worse - no one was hurt - the garage gave you a repair estimate of over $2000. When, at last, you go to take a long, relaxing soak in a hot bath, you find the water heater is broken and there is neither heat nor not water. Oh, what a day.
Today sat squarely in the middle. My day had a high content of emotional upheaval. Many people I love found their lives adversely affected by holiday expectations. I talked to several friends who are gingerly trying to make their way across those turbulent waters. In addition, I attended the funeral service for a close friend’s father. Some of the speakers did not shine. My friend’s reading about her father and the part of her that heart he claimed as his was tremendously moving. Still, it was a gathering precipitated by loss. Never easy. My day was made infinitely brighter due to the return to the nest by my two older children.
My days feel somehow more balanced when my children are all in the same zip code. I worry less about the knocks and bruises life may deliver when my children are safe and accounted for. While there were some disappointments in the fabric of this day, on whole, it was balanced. The secret inner joy I carry when my children are home, and in my presence, is of a magnitude that outshines most any of life's petty concern.
I heard the weather report for tomorrow. Heavy downpours are predicted. They won’t bother me. I will be warm and dry and have a great day because, for the first time in months, my entire family will be home -- healthy and under one roof. The day before Thanksgiving promises to be a day for thanks giving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shopping Delights

Three of my favorite stores to visit are hardware stores, book stores and lingerie
shops. This fascination for things pertaining to hardware, books and lingerie goes all the way back to my earliest childhood. Doesn’t just about everything? Today, I am still captivated by the large assortments of products these stores carry to entice the consumer and woo me.
The hardware stores of my youth were a place of mystery and intrigue. My father, with hand on door knob, would often call out an invitation for me to tag along. He would let it slip that he was going on a “very important errand to get a few things at Downtown Hardware.” I was hypnotized by the assortment, color and shapes of the offerings. One of my first dates with my husband was spent at a lumber yard on Martha’s Vineyard picking up supplies for a small carpentry project. Now I walk around Home Depot positively dazed by the plethora of choices. Hardware stores leave me believing anything is possible.
Book stores offer a similar thrill. The book bindings lure me in with promises of knowledge, adventure and escape. I often find myself running a finger along the book shelves, playing where she stops, no one knows. And then, BAM, I choose to peruse this one. A book on Peruvian Pastries or Engineering Helicopters falls open in my palms. I have great respect for the authors represented in a book store; I know how hard it is to write a book, I see lifetimes dedicated to wordsmiths shaping their ideas to share with others. With a computer, those works become accessible to a wider public than ever before. However, at lest in my lifetime, books will continue to be printed, sold, and read. Thank goodness for book stores.
In my pre-teens, Sears and Roebuck provided me with hours and hours of delight. It was the Sears and Roebuck catalog that offered me the first glimpse into the pretty underwear and lacy bras that some women wear. In my family, bras were nude, white or black. Underpants provided full coverage. Slips came in three lengths, full-length, floor-length, and short. Underpants covered buttocks to belly-buttons, No tell-tale strings bespoke of a thong. The straps of bras were not meant to be seen, nor was the lace on slips. It was a secret world inhabited by women. As a blossoming teenager, I was drawn to lingerie shops like a moth to light. The silk, the lace, the lovely, private beauty kept secret from men...unless a woman chose otherwise. Now, in just about every town I frequent, I have my favorite lingerie shop. Locally, the Gazebo keeps an index card with all my purchases and preferences. They offer a confidential service to one’s loved one; they help steer them to the perfect gift for you. Lingerie shops manage to help women embrace womanhood with confidence.
Do I like coffee shops, shoe stores and electronics? Of course! However, given free rein to rome at will, you will most likely find me in Shirley’s Hardware, Bunch of Grapes Book Store or the Gazebo, spending my hard-earned money. There products closely align with who I am - even if a small part of me still loves reading the Sears and Roebuck catalog.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I have never smoked. I do not drink. I exercise to the best of my ability. However, I am not claiming that I have no vices. I am a tub-lover. My close friends know this about me. To me, a deep tub of hot water is like a siren to a sailor at sea. I do not overeat, nor do I gamble, but the thought of a bubble bath in 107 degrees of hot water has a hold on me.
When I make hotel reservations, I always inquire as to what the bath facilities will be in my room. I have stayed in hotels where I have to plug ta leaky drain with wash clothes and a shower cap. As a result, I developed a fairly foolproof method of plugging drains almost anywhere - my discovery? The lid of a large hot drink from McDonald’s seems to create just the right seal. Finer hotels have water worthy tubs. They also provide lovely bath gels, and, on occasion, bath salts that positively elevate the experience.
At home, I have scented epsom salts and scented oils and bath bubbles. The hot water releases their aromas and carry me to places I may have visited - Paris, New York or Montreal. As I soak, I remember the heat of the sun baking me until I remember to turn to avoid burning. The heat relaxes my body and soothes my tired spirit. It penetrates into my muscles, gradually relieving the pain that has them in knots. It is mostly this pain that drives me into my hot baths. They provide reliable relief, day or night. When pain keeps me awake for hours on end, I will run a steaming bath and lower myself, slowly, into water that seems unbearably hot. That exact moment that insanely hot water finally masks the pain in my joints is what keeps me daydreaming sometimes.
There is a casualty of my bathing habits. My books suffer. One out of every other book ends up going for a dip. One out of every other book goes in for repeated dips. My baths take a toll on my reading material. As my body finally relaxes, and my eyes flutter shut, my arms grow heavy, too heavy to hold a book, or even a magazine. And, oops, into the water it goes. I have learned to replace any books that I damage. There are consequences of my behavior, I can see that. However, I have not found anything that
grants me the same pain relief as these hot baths - even if for only the half an hour I am submerged. As I reflect on the pleasure of a long, hot soak, I am grateful that I have hot water, a deeo well and Amazon to replace most anything I read.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Bio-Mat

I am lying on the Bio-Mat 2005 MX Amethyst with my computer an arm’s length away, resting on my lap. From what I gather, this experience of lying on a bed of heated amethyst crystals can offer substantial benefits to health. The literature purports that I can expect the following:
Reduction of Stress due to increased circulation and downtime used while spending time on the mat.
B. Relief of Fatigue due to increased circulation and emission of lactic acid from muscle tissue.
C. Relief of Stiff Muscles due to increased circulation and secretion of lactic acid from muscle tissue.
D. Soft Tissue Repair due to molecular level rebuilding processes increased enhancing DNA synthesis through all stages of repair.
E. Relief from Arthritis due to increased circulation around joint areas. An increased metabolic rate and downtime allows the body to furnish building components for cartilage repair.
F. Immune System Boost due to simulation of infection causing an autoimmune reaction.
G. Lower Blood Pressure due to the increased area of capillary, arteries and veins.
Alright, when I read these claims, I have to suspend doubt. It all seems to be too good to be true. A close friend is letting me borrow the Bio-Mat to see if the mat can help kickstart healing at the cellular level. She researched it and felt it would benefit her husband. While he takes a break from using it, I am taking advantage of the mat’s properties; The amethyst crystals are key. There are advantages to believing in crystals. They do not require hospitals, doctors, needles or time removed from my family to promote healing. There are no side effects that I can measure except that the mat is significantly harder than the feather bed on which I usually lie. Regardless of what effect the crystals are having, the penetrating heat is relaxing. If the mat does not deliver as promise, I will still be better off than I was yesterday. As long as I am using it, I am having a direct infusion of hope.

Friday, November 18, 2011


I started at a new school, the Brookside School, in third grade. I joined a classroom of children who had known each other since kindergarten. I was welcomed with curiosity and some suspicion. There were friendly questions about where I came from, was it true that my mother was a teacher at the school, and where I lived. As weeks past, I began to wonder if there questions were simply artillery to use against me at some later time. My mother did work at the school; this meant I was a “faculty brat.” Strike One. I lived in Verona, N.J., not Montclair. Strike Two. I knew I was at risk for Strike Three but like every other time in my life that I have been really hurt, I was blindsided when Strike Three caught up with me.
Cara was one of the most popular girls in my class. She was pretty, funny, and already wore a bra. These qualities made her irresistible to both boys and girls. Several weeks into school, Mrs. Hulst, our gentle, kind teacher announced we would have Troll Day the next day. This announcement was met with wild enthusiasm. We were strictly forbidden to take our trolls out of our wooden cubbies except at recess and lunch. Troll Day would grant us the privilege of each presenting our favorite troll to the rest of the class. Most of us were choosing which troll to show and tell between the one or another we owned. Cara had at least six of them. We made our presentations before lunch. We relished the opportunity to see the long-haired, bug-eyed doll in all kinds of different outfits, many home-made. I was proud of the haircut I gave mine. At lunch, the troll conversation continued in the cafeteria. When we returned to the Third Grade Classroom, I noticed Cara, all weepy-eyed, whispering to Mrs. Hulst. Instead of asking us to take out our math work, Mrs. Hulst requested that we return to our seats. She announced that one of Cara’s trolls was missing and, that if anyone knew anything about it, to please come forward. So began a new kind of hell for me.
We all looked around at each other, shrugging and whispering, trying to imagine what could have happened. Cara was sniffling and avoided eye contact with me. Mrs. Hulst asked me to come up front. I felt my face burn red with embarrassment. She signaled for me to follow her into the hall. She said, “Cara said she saw you near her cubby at lunchtime, Do you know anything about this?” “No, Mrs. Hulst, I don’t know anything. I didn’t go in her cubby. I was putting my own away. My last name, “E” is near her’s “K” that’s all.” By now, I could do nothing to stem my tears. “I wouldn’t do that.” Just then, I saw my mother coming down the hall. Now I really started crying. As Mrs Hulst apologized for calling my mother out of class, she explained the accusation. My mother remained steadfast. “Dawn is not a liar. If she said she doesn’t know where it is, she doesn’t. Mrs. Hulst regretted the incident as much as I did. We walked back into the classroom together and I could hear all my classmates whispering that I had done something wrong. I tried to ignore them, but I was unable to stop playing the scene over and over in my mind. I was not responsible for her troll, but I felt guilty as accused.
I balled in the car on the ride home. I wailed, “They hate me and I didn’t DO anything wrong.” My mother told me to give it time to work itself out.
Her advice was on the mark. The next day, Cara still avoided me. Kids wouldn’t meet my eyes or say hello. I felt sick to my stomach. My elementary school life was over before it got off the ground. As much as I tried, I couldn’t concentrate all morning. Just before recess, Mrs. Hulst clapped her hands, “Attention, class.” I wanted to make a few announcements. Cara located her missing Troll at home. She was mistaken when she thought she brought it to school.” I was bowled over. Just like that, she could accuse me then, then dismiss her mistake ? Mrs. Hulst continued, ”Cara, do you have anything to add?”
Cara’s bright smile spread across her face, “Sorry, everyone.”
But it was not Everyone who had been accused. It was me.
I didn’t say anything much for the rest of that day.
After school, Cara apologized to me. I kept my hand plunged in my coat pocket while absently smoothing the electric orange hair on my short-haired troll.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Almost Viral Video

Who ever thought I would be jealous of my son’s quasi-success? I have to admit that I am. In a good way. In a way that includes lots of laughter and my admonishment, “Language, C., Language.” Over a year ago, Charles filmed a friend playing with an exercise ball. He posted the clip on You-tube that day so his friends could see their horseplay. He entitled it “Big Green Ball Fail.”
This afternoon, Charles showed me the post. First I gave my good-mother speech...did the boys in the film know this clip was posted? Yes? Do you understand that the foul language was not necessary and I don’t approve? Then, those duties addressed, I couldn’t help but laugh at the silly thing boys will do with free time, a camera, and a yoga ball. Charles held my laptop awkwardly while I viewed the You-tube video. He moved his hand and revealed that over 52,000 people have viewed his 34 second video! While this isn’t exactly a viral video, we were both astonished that the clip -- intended to make his friends laugh -- had a much larger audience.
I spent six years writing my book, A Growing Season. Some day, I hope an agent will take it and sell it to a publishing house. Meanwhile, I continue to write my blog, write my essays, and keep working on my second novel, Whately Prep. I am unlikely to have viral success as a wordsmith. But maybe, someday, I will have my very own, hard-earned, audience.

Link to Big Green Ball Fail
Caution: this video may contain objectional language. I will have my very own, hard-earned, audience.

Link to Big Green Ball Fail or What teenage boys do with their free time.
Caution: this video may contain objectionable language.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grey Days

On a dreary, November day, when the skies are grey and the sunrise is hidden from view, a visit to the grocery store picks up my spirits. I love looking at the seasonal
choices - turkeys, cranberries and pumpkin. Yams and green beans and rolls. I see possibility when I look at cinnamon, possibility when I see Bell’s poultry seasoning. I forgot that Thanksgiving was next week! It was the abundance of autumnal fare that brought the holiday into focus. As my friend helps me by pushing my cart through the aisles of the grocery store, my mind drifts to my plans for the holiday this year. As I scroll down the list of people I love and those whom have shared a Thanksgiving meal with me previously, I pause to consider each one. The list of former guests is long. It includes...
My mother has been gone for 18 months and I miss her every day. Recently, my father relocated to the Holyoke Soldier’s Home. He plans to eat with my sister and brother-in-law next week. My good friend, Paul, is well into his nineties as is his mother-in-law (now, that is a complicated algebra equation!). They will be celebrating with their immediate family. My brother-in-law, sister-in-law and their two children will be joining her family for a large and festive gathering. There was a time when Thanksgiving guests filled my house to overflowing and I had to make two turkeys to make sure there would be enough turkey meat to serve guests the next day. My 2011 Thanksgiving will be intimate and special because it will be spent with my children and husband this year. After a year of tremendous challenges, I am looking forward to spending a day reflecting on the many blessings that enrich my life and sharing them with my family.
The grocery cart is rolling past fish - “I’ll take some fish.” -- and green tea --”Let’s get some, Snapple is my favorite.” I am pulled back to the task at hand. However, first I must practice a moment of Budhist reflection. I need to focus on what is present in the here and now. Open my eyes a bit wider. Just then, I see the brilliant colors of apples and oranges that could grace my table. Another gift of beauty in a life that has grey days.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Anniversary....of sorts.

November, 1997, I was running a five mile loop from my house - a run I took two or three times a week - and my right leg collapsed. I had been feeling an unpleasant kind of pull recently, but I figured runner’s endorphins would take care of that. I was wrong.
I continued to go out for runs, but my right leg would not permit me to do more than walk without giving way. It has been fourteen years since then.
I have been to acupuncturists, Reiki practitioners, men of God, women of Budha. I have seen rheumatologists, geneticists, orthopedic surgeons, neuro-surgeons, osteopaths, physiatrists, musculo-skeletal radiologists and nutritionists. I have worked with physical therapists, psychologists and occupational therapists. Each one of them left a small part of them with me, latin words and diagnoses galore. Some gave me gifts of immeasurable value, others knocked me down, leaving me feeling more bruised and hurting than when I walked through their doors. I have travelled to Amherst, Boston, New York and Chicago. Answers are as obscure near to home as they are far away. I meditate, I eat a healthy diet and I exercise. I do everything I can to care for myself, but still, I am not living the active and expansive life I imagine myself leading. This is about where I bring in my deck of card analogy that comforts me on sleepless nights.
We are all dealt a deck of cards. No one has a say what is in those cards. Now listen closely, because here is the one thing about which all the shamans and doctors and practitioners and I seem to agree. The only control we have about the cards we have been dealt is in the attitude with which we play them. I practice that principle pretty much everyday. When I was a child, my family called me a Polyanna. As it turns out, my dogged determination to look for the goodness in most situations has come to serve me well.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Work By Any Other Name

There was a time that I wondered WHAT on Earth people did when they didn’t go to work every day. Could there really be enough at home to keep them busy all day long? Maybe little projects and make-busy work? I left the corporate life in 1994. Done. Gonezo.
I can never, ever remember being bored since then. Is it my personality or is there really that much to do? I can tell you my TO DO list never runs out; I have notebooks filled with them. There is inside work, outside work, cerebral work, hand work. There are bills to pay, letters to write, emails to answer. Windows to wash, dinners to make, sheets to change, laundry to wash. All tasks are not created equal in terms of urgency or pleasure. In the laundry room, there is a neat stack of clothes in a wire basket. The pile includes clothes to return to stores, clothes to be mended and clothes to be ironed. There is a method to my madness, and, admittedly, some madness to my method. Never-the-less, my days seem to be chock full of chores and projects and things that nobody else has time to do. It is the time of year for screens to come in, for bulbs to go out, for Thanksgiving decorations to find their way to tables and baskets. I can remember my son saying, “I wish I could stay home like you do, Mom.” I asked,”Why is that?” He said, “You may have to work all day, but you can decide what you want to do, at least. At school, THEY decide my schedule and what I have to study when I get home. I would prefer to do what you do than having someone tell me what to do. I can tell you right now, I am going to work for myself when I a grow up.” How do I explain to him that I must carve time out of my day to do work for myself? When I write....when I write, I am answering a higher calling. When I write, it is not work at all.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music was released in 1965. I remember the first time I saw it, I had the feeling I had been swooped up and gently placed on a mountaintop in the Austrian Alps. The breathtaking panorama of mountain, valley and sky never fail to move me.. I was so deeply touched by the movie, that I sought out Marie Von Trapp’s book describing her family’s escape from Nazi-occupied Austria. Until I was in my teens, I did not fully understand the political sub-text of the escape. About then, the love story was transformed into a delicately crafted political journal. Regardless of the message, I was always enthralled with the music. In 1966, if you happened to drive by my house on River Road in Piscataway, New Jersey, you might have found me sitting on one of the concrete steps that were cut into the slope of our front yard. There, I would be singing from my repertoire of song titles from The Sound of Music. I sang loud, with wholehearted enthusiasm. I was on a secret mission to snare a driver whose work it would become was to promote my considerable musical talents; I knew once the promoter heard me that he would declare that I had the voice of an angel. At some point in my campaign for musical representation, my father became aware of my fixation on the story and the music of The Sound of Music. He presented me with a jaw-dropping piece of family trivia. My grandfather was a friend of the Von Trapps! When my grandparents relocated from New Jersey to Johnson, Vermont in the mid-1940’s, my grandfather was an insurance salesman. His sales route included Stowe, Vermont. It was in his capacity as an insurance salesman that he became friends with the Von Trapp family who had settled in Stowe. I felt a sense that Providence was working in my favor; the great wheel of destiny was turning for me. In fact, my delight in the music coupled with my preoccupation with the film’s history were both contributing factors in my decision to write a book set in Johnson, Vermont, between 1944 and 1945. It took me six years. For all practical purposes, the manuscript of my novel, The Growing Season, now sits waiting for an introduction to the world. I am no longer a starry-eyed child waiting to be discovered. For instance, I know for sure it is going to take more than thirty query letters to find an agent on whom I can pin my hope for representation. I know this because I have already sent thirty query letters to prospective agents.
However, Maria Von Trapp never gave up; nor will I.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Self-Help Books

I have to confess a small, but embarrassing truth; I hate self-help books. Simply going into the “SELF- HELP” section of Barnes and Noble makes me uncomfortable. It is my habit to ridicule the authors for their seemingly simplistic remedies for everyday life. This is a judgmental flaw in my character that is difficult to own. Having divulged this secret, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to confess to owning quite a number of these books. The majority of them have been gifts from well-meaning friends. I feel compelled to read them to digest what they might be telling me. I want to be open-minded enough to admit that yes, at times, I need help. Most of the time that help comes directly through others, not through words on a printed page. Having said that, however, I can look at the shelves in my library and find dozens of books that I have read starting from the earliest -- in high school -- which was, “How to Decipher Your Dreams.” During my twenties and thirties the books had an astral, other-worldly quality to them. The most recent books are about taking control of own’s life and steering one’s destiny. Mostly, the messages are similar. Though the examples differ and the stories reflect slightly different truths, ultimately, it is up to each of us to take responsibility for ourselves. This, and only this, will steer us toward happiness and fulfillment. Gratitude and generosity are the natural consequence of such happiness.
So, read the books if you choose, but I can cut through all of it for you with that one simple truth. Happy Reading.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Many Hands

We carry each other.
In ways, great and small, we find ways to carry each other over the chasms, through the darkness, into the light.
There are times that the Universe seems to drop obstacles into our lives that seem insurmountable and to deliver conditions that seem unbearable. From gestures of kindness to acts of valor, we reach out to those about whom we care. In a period of turbulence in my own life, I am deeply touched by the presence of friends and family who do not turn from me. Over the past nine months, I lost two arthritic hips, said good-bye to one long-time friend, and buried a favored aunt. Over the same period, I gained two functional hips, rediscovered distant cousins, witnessed the rebirth of human spirit as a woman took her first steps on a prosthetic leg and began the long, slow ascent back into light. Along the way, I find the comfort of many hands of propelling forward. During this transitional period in my life, I try to appreciate the strength of loving relationships and find a way to embrace the blessings that are manifest in my life. In economic terms, the gain in assets clearly outstrips losses for the past three quarters. The best way to secure these gains is to make sure my hands are outstretched and ready to do the same for others.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


I once worked for a woman who was a former slave. She was a slave because her mother was a slave, and her mother before her. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed about a decade before she was born. In reality, it had little effect on her life. From what I gathered, the actual changes wrought by the Proclamation were slow to come to the deep South. While her mother was declared “free,” she stayed in service with the family that claimed her. Her daughter escaped freedom only by moving North. I met her at the end of her life. She was in her late nineties, she had dementia, and, for the most part, her vision was gone. I cared for her during the summer of 1976 when I worked for the Visiting Nurses’ Association of Martha’s Vineyard.
She was a petite woman with roasted almond skin coloring. Her hair, cut close to her head was mostly white, but even at her age, it was laced with black. She used a cane, but showed amazing dexterity mounting and descending a steep, turning set of stairs several times each day. Beyond some basic duties of personal care, I sat with her.
Her favorite spot was out on the small porch off of her bedroom. From our perch, it felt like we were nestled in the trees. We settled into two chairs and rocked. We’d chat sometimes, but we would often sit in companionable silence. After some time, I’d see her chin dip, then rest on her chest. Sometimes I would sneak downstairs to do some dishes while she slept. One day, I went downstairs to do just that and when I returned, her seat was empty. My stomach lurched. I raced to look over the porch rail. I felt adrenalin pumping though me even after I had convinced myself she hadn’t taken a header. I found her in a back bedroom, kneeling alongside of a twin bed.
She was smoothing the cover, smoothing the cover, her hands stretched out like small, flat irons. I asked her what on earth she was doing. She said, “Missus likes the beds smooth,” she said. I took both of her hands between mine and helped her up. “I’ll do it, later,” I said. “Let’s get you settled in your chair for now.”
In five minutes, she had forgotten the entire episode. About an hour later, when her daughter came home to relieve me, I went upstairs to get my book bag. I paused in the small, dark bedroom that housed two twin beds. I ran my hand over the coverlets of each. Just to make sure they were smooth.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rituals of Hope

Back brace, check. Shoulder brace, check. Knee brace, check. Wrist brace, check.
I am ready to plant the flower bulbs.
Today, in an annual fall ritual, I planted bulbs for spring. Rather than surrender to the ready reasons to neglect this chore, I was determined to get the bulbs at least five inches deep, in some cases, eight. I was going to observe this ritual of hope that has lifted my spirits, twice a year -- both in fall when I bury them and spring when I watch them emerge.
There are so many of these small rituals in life that we often skate right by them, not recognizing them for what they are. Every time I drop a letter in the mail box - it is with a confidence and some hope that it will reach the person for whom it is intended. As I pack up Christmas ornaments, I always spend time imagining all of the good things that might happen during the ensuing year. A whispered prayer, a lit candle, a set table all represent hopes of different kinds and different proportions, but hope all the same.
A jar with nothing in it could hold anything; that simple thought fills me with hope.
Maybe we should place more empty jars out to catch the promise of hope delivered by the bright light of day.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My College Roommate Comes Home

As I cast my mind back over each day, I look for the bright spots. This is a habit i
have practiced since I was ten years old. Today was easier than most. My friend Terry visited; she lives the width of a continent away. Terry was my college room mate; this is what I pretend, at least. It does not require a stretch of imagination to arrive there. I have known her since those days. Our lives, and the lives of our families, have been intertwined in deep and meaningful ways for thirty-three years.
Terry came to me by way of her sister with whom I had a longtime friendship. Rather than being the little sister tagging along, she was the big sister who made annual summer sojourns to spend time with “Mummy and Daddy.” I followed Terry’s life between sightings -- her parents’ -- who lived locally -- were liberal with their proud accounts of their eldest daughter. This was a routine we practiced for over twenty-five years. She rearranged her schedule to be one of the twenty-seven people who attended my wedding. Terry was an adjunct to my friendship with her sister.
She emerged as my friend in her own right after her sister and I became estranged. For
reasons complicated, and for the most part, inexplicable, her sister decided to disown me. This single act was what allowed Terry to claim me as a friend for herself. Much of what we are both navigating in life is shared, often at the same point in time. Our parents are aging and need of care, our children are graduating college and leaving home, our roles as women are changing. Terry is the kind of friend that wants to fix everything and make it right. She will go down with the ship to do so. We often find ourselves laughing through our tears -- think a rainbow against a bright blue sky.
This week, Terry has come East. Our moments together are stolen because she has family commitments to keep, but we are as happy as schoolgirls when we can steal some time together. She is a friend to treasure.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Photographer

Sunrise from Chestnut Mountain

At the library today, I looked at the photo exhibit. I was surprised by how many people were entrants in a contest to catch the beauty of the landscape in the small, rural community in which I live. I was struck by how easily any one of the entrants could have take any of the other photographs. The magic of digital cameras and photoshop levels the playing field between beginners and advanced photographers. My own entry was couched between many others. There were no ribbons declaring it first, second, third, or even honorable mention. However, I still congratulated myself for having entered.
I love photography. It has been a way for me to slow down and catch life for further reflection. My first photographs in high school had a creative, explorative feel to them. Edgy, but poorly developed. The pictures in the years before children were more carefully composed, reflecting both a surfeit of time and, perhaps, indulgence. I sent them out to be developed...and it showed. The photos I shot during my children’s childhoods were often harried, quick, and perfunctory, “Just a quick one of you girls dressed for the dance, pleeease?” And now, once again, with grey hair streaking my head, I have my camera out and I am trying to capture the moments and people and things that move and delight me.
I am pathetically unsophisticated and undereducated. Though I surprised my children with my knowledgeability about depth of field and f stops and ASA numbers, it was a kind of magic slight of hand. I enjoyed their look as they were slack-jawed and dumb-founded. The truth is that my familiarity with those terms was limited to use on a camera I knew well; like a lover I once loved, I knew all its kinks and quirks. Today, I shoot with my Sony when it’s special and if it is a transient shot, out comes my iPhone. I love looking at the photos. I have a friend who advised me to delete any photographs that don’t please me before I load them onto my computer. I try to do just that.
So the fact that I willing put a photo out to be judged says a lot about me. It wasn’t the contest that prompted the entry, it was the thought that I was willing to be judged cheek to jowl with photographers who, perhaps, might be better trained and better equipped that made me want to compete. The risk was that I might be embarrassing myself, but my mind was put at ease when I saw my entry hanging on the wall.
My photograph may not have earned a ribbon, but, apparently, it didn’t earn ridicule either. I submited an image that captures part of Whately, and I shared it with anyone willing to look. Entering a photography contest was a goal I had for this fall, and one that I can, proudly, cross off my list.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Love Affair with the Information Superhighway

I am a huge fan of the internet; this was not always true. When the World Wide Web was first described as a possibility (yes, I am that old), I was not sure that it was going to offer anything that wasn’t already available. In other words, I planned to keep updating my encyclopedias. I wasn’t even sure who was going this computer phenomenon. While the World Wide Web promised to revolutionize our world, I was not sure it was going to be relevant to my thinking or my world.
When I am wrong at a proportion as enormous as I was about the internet, I have to take ownership of my idiocy.
As a writer, I have had a close relationship with the reference desk librarian in the past. Over time, she grew accepting of my often bizarre questions. She found it challenging to come up with an answer, and if not an answer, at least a lead on an answer.
How many diamonds were mined in 1963?
What is longest traversable road in the world?
When did the United States first start using kumquats?
In the event a woman murdered her husband in 1865, was the death sentence used in Massachusetts?
The questions pertained to whatever article I might have been writing at that moment.
Occasionally, I slipped in a few questions that piqued my curiosity for no other reason than.... I wondered. I also found myself asking people I would meet specifics about their professions. To an emergency room doctor, “Could you kill someone with epinephrin?”
To a plumber, “Do trees really grow into the plumbing of houses?” To a zoologist, “How did zebras evolve, do you suppose?” I gained a small amount of legitimacy when I would say I was a writer.
All of that has changed.
Any time I have a question (and cable), I can Google it. Google is a Verb. I mean even that amazes me! I feel like the world is my oyster. SInce I am the kind of person who actually enjoys the exercise “Compare and Contrast), I like sorting out relevancy and authenticity of answers. I feel a freedom I never imagined to allow my curiosity free-range to wonder Who, Why, What, When, Who and How.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Today was a good day for me.
It consisted of tidying up the house in preparation for my departure from the Island.
It granted me time to walk on the beach with the hurling wind challenging me to take pictures of the pounding surf and skittering seagulls.
It provided me with time to spend with my husband’s beloved cousin who has Alzheimer’s disease. He hugged me good-bye three times and one to grow on.
It granted me familiar stores with unfamiliar merchandise.
it delivered blue skies and scenic views for my camera’s eye.
It granted me joy and peace and hope.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Kiwifruit or Actinidia deliciosa is native to southern China, according to Wikipedia. It is the ‘National Fruit” of China. Interestingly enough, Mary Isabel Fraser is reported to have brought the seeds from China to New Zealand. A gentleman from China was present in 1906 and as an experienced grower, was able to bring the vines to fruit in 1910. This catapulted New Zealand into first place as growers of kiwifruits for decades. This fruit that was originally named a Chinese gooseberry, was renamed a kiwifruit because the national symbol of New Zealand is none other than the kiwi bird. Now, I urge you to go to Google. You will discover as I did, that kiwi’s are very high in vitamin C and potassium. Also, they have been proven to be an effective anti-coagulant if eaten daily. The positive nutritional value of kiwis is legion. There are some people who experience an allergic reaction due to an enzyme called Actinidin. Generally, the symptoms are unpleasant itching and soreness of the mouth and occasionally, severe wheezing. For the majority of people who can tolerate the fruit, it is a boon to their health. Italy has taken the led as the primary kiwi growers in the world. This may because the plant requires temperate climates with reliable summer heat. Kiwifruit vines are cultivated by ensuring both male and female plants are adjacent to each other. The vines grow heavy, so there must be a support system around them. In fact, there is a similarity in the climate and methods of growing grapes. Okay, by now you are wondering what on earth does this high school geography report on kiwifruit have to do with anything, right? Here it is: My husband’s cousin, Richie, told us this crazy idea he had about raising kiwi on Martha’s Vineyard. Quite frankly, we laughed at him. There, in his living-room, were stacks of books on growing kiwis. He told us his plan in the winter. By spring, the cultivars of Actinidia deliciosa had arrived. When we returned in the summer, we teased him without mercy because there were about eight scrawny plants within a large cage-like structure. They looked silly. Richie was not the least deterred. He said, “You watch, next year, they will be established and begin to produce fruit.” He said, “The prevailing winds on Martha’s Vineyard make this an ideal location to grow kiwis.” The last laugh is on us. Richie died before the kiwi project reached its full proportions. The kiwi plants are abundant and healthy and laden with kiwis. The variety he chose are smaller than the kind you may see in the store, and the skins are edible. When you reach into the arbor and snag one of the purple-hued kiwis, the skin is firm and smooth with just a bit of give. If it is ripe, the kiwifruit nearly falls into your open palm, as if an invitation to pick it. When tasted just off the vines, the kiwi is sweet and tart and warm. It is like a trip to Olympia, quite honestly. Surely, this would be a fruit adored by the Gods. So Richie, a Portuguese fisherman who was born, raised and died on the Island, had a vision the rest of us had not shared. Richie’s wild experiment to grow kiwifruit on Martha’s Vineyard tells us as much about Richie as it does about the soil and wind on the Island. Richie always dreamed of the impossible and was hell-bent on proving that nothing was impossible if you put your mind -- and your heart -- into it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Last Bloom on the Rose

One of my favorite parts of this time of year is the surprise when I find breathtaking flowers blooming gloriously, despite the reality of intemperate weather, unseasonal snows and assaulting winds. These few hangers-on seem to have concentrated all their internal energy on bringing forth this one, last perfect bloom. Amidst the brown grass, the grey desiccated branches and sandy brown of the soil, I find it a boon to catch a glimpse of color where a flower blooms despite all reason. And despite all that stunning beauty, my eye is still drawn to the bright red berries that dangle from dead stalks and the lovely muted pink hue of the hydrangea blossoms that linger on stiff twigs. All of this gives me courage as I turn to face the autumn of my years.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Charles Takes The Next Step

Today, Charles called and asked if I was near a computer. I was driving. He told me he had posted a link he thought I should look at. When I came home and fired up my computer, I wondered where my son was sending me. He has dragged me along on You-tube adventures, on Stumble-upon and anywhere Apple chooses to wander. The hours I have spent with him as my tour guide are some of my favorite times with him. I was touched and proud and somewhat awed at this child of mine. He has conceived of magic and is taking his dream to the next level. Rather than spoil the surprise, I will let you see for yourself.
Check it out:

I invite you to climb on board!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Vineyard Haven at The Oak House

I am blessed in ways that are often too many to count. There are moments, relatively brief, that I forget that. However, it is impossible to forget that for long. The remarkable people that populate my life remind me with gestures both great and small. Without fail, when I feel weak, there are friends who have carried me, on their shoulders, if necessary. I have no explanation for the state of grace in which I find myself. I feel overwhelmed and undeserving of such goodness.
At home, the electricity is off for the fourth day. I made a snap decision not to return on Sunday as planned because my house does not have heat. It was one of the 125,000 households hard hit by the unexpected snow storm in October. Eighteen inches of heavy snow coated trees still laden with autumn leaves. The weight of the branches was too much. As the branches came down, so too, did the electric wires in their way.
The fallout was far-reaching. Cell-towers were overloaded, phone service delivered by cable was not available. Communications were spotty to nonexistent. My son was invited to join another family to go stay in Boston until electricity was restored. I felt guilty leaving my husband to cope with the house and animals, but I know that I would not do much to help even if I returned. Further, I knew he would worry about me.
First, my sister and her husband, then my childhood friend and her husband - with whom I was staying - suggested I stay on Martha’s Vineyard until I could return to a warm, lighted home. I appreciated both offers, but chose to stay at my friend’s, The Oak House, because I was already established and cozy here. I am ensconced in a fourteen bedroom Victorian home overlooking the ocean. I move between the Library, where I sleep, the sitting room and the kitchen mostly. I mount the stairs to the nether regions only to sink deep into the bathtub with a seemingly unending supply of hot water.
When I walk outside, I see familiar images from my earliest childhood. The bandstand, the Steamship Authority, Sunset Lake, Circuit Ave.. They hold memories, they bring joy. On the Island, I visit with my Island family and friends and feel uplifted by their presence in my life. With the strength I find at this Vineyard haven, I find that I can turn my face determinedly in the direction of a future that is warm and illuminated and filled with love.
Day 49