Tree Romance

treeObviously the tree is up. Although it is an artificial tree ready to celebrate its silver anniversary – 25 years ago we bought it in protest of way-too-high live tree prices – it is still holding its own, showing its age only in the ends of the branches which, having lost their needles, are down to bare wire.

I never decorate the same tree. Some years I put a few branches in the wrong place, move the lights onto different levels, rearrange the ornaments, leaving some off the tree and taking out others stored away. For years one Christmas ritual was the addition of a new ornament, but now there are so many, I can’t find enough spots to display all I want to. Kinda like life – so many interesting things to see, do, or learn about, and no way to squeeze them all in. Yet when I’ve added as much as I can, the lights shine brightly and the trim glistens and sparkles.

The holidays are notable for the psychic atmosphere which seems to come in  moments of joy and peace – at least in pockets. If you become still on Christmas Eve, you can almost feel the world taking a breath of holiday. Busyness ended for few moments of contemplation and remembering. Life is full and now is a good time to look back and honor what was, as well as what is now. Shallow and clichéd thoughts, perhaps, but what creates clichés is that they reflect a general truth.

Still thinking about the direction of this blog and what I propose to do with it in the new year, providing, of course, that the world doesn’t end tomorrow, December 21. I’ll make time to write a mission statement on such an auspicious day, and hope that Saturday it will make sense.


Seasonal Joys

Our cat Rocky and a string of Christmas lights.

Hmm, this one seems to be working.

Most people enjoy the December holiday season though they might complain about all the busyness involved with shopping, cooking, visiting, and general going-about.  I thought that retirement would allow me to slow down and savor the pleasures day by day, but it seems that I am as busy as ever trying to keep up with what needs to be done. What happens, really is that having open time allows for so many more possibilities and in my butterfly mind, I want to do them all. Well at least most of them. So here I am with the tree half decorated (no thanks to Rocky who thinks light cords make great toys), a list of dinners and parties to cook for, presents still to buy, and a house to make presentable before the Big Day.

But I do love it.


Spring is Here!

photo of shrub in woods showing delicate spring leaves

Eager for spring.

Who doesn’t think of new beginnings in Spring…New Year’s…the start of school in September? Each year brings many opportunities to see things anew, start afresh. The trick is in continuing the beginnings. So how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions, if you made any? I didn’t.  I know the futility of promising myself to do what has been improbable before, so this year I simply decided to observe my behavior, catch myself in the beginnings of following some of my small habits which lead me away from what I really want. Something as simple as completing making the bed every day can create a momentum which ends up with me outside cleaning the birdbaths or planting bulbs in the flower bed. Seems a flow of energy is released with each small chore finished and results in a feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day. Small things, big changes. Practice, practice, practice. What do you think?

Looking Inward or Looking Down?

photo of two feet clad in socks with a wintery design

Winter Socks

Been asking myself for a good, interesting blog topic, but kept coming up empty. Well, not exactly empty, but with ideas too “commonplace,” “boring” or “nobody cares about that,” etc. to write about here. So, going beyond that question I asked myself, just how much self-revelation is appropriate in a blog. Then, is a personal blog (vs one about cat care, for instance), just so much navel-gazing, self-applause, etc.? How much me can the average reader stand? The below-average reader? Is there anything at all interesting about my life? (There are many days I don’t think so.) While dead-ended in this particular passage, I decided on my sovereign remedy, caffeine, poured myself a cold cup of coffee, and then started poking around in my notes and papers, hoping to find some ends of threads I’d dropped while getting on with my life. While I was engrossed in sorting the odd bit, the phone rang. It was my old, old friend, a women I’d known since I was 15 years old, to catch me up her latest news and hear mine. We’ve had many such conversations through the years, giving both of us a perspective on our lives that we sometimes were too close to see otherwise. We’d grown up together bouncing off one another, she the brunette, I the blonde, she the classicist, I the lyricist, she the piano, I the snare drum. We’d parted life paths a long time ago, one to academe, the other to high school, but we ended up in the same place: gardens, woods, family, books, pets, and the art of living well. Still much in common, but enough differences to keep the old arguments going (though I am always right). Our conversations can still go on for hours.

An old friend is a blessing. My favorite saying about friends:
“Good friends know where the bodies are buried. True friends helped you put them there.”

She still has her shovel…

Here’s a poem I wrote about us a number of years ago.

For Susan, Wherever She May Find Herself

Let’s get blown away on wine, my friend,
and fill the night with wild talk and laughter.
What do our dreams all mean?

I shall speak of love, and I say
I know not: yet I know.
I tell you, words are nothing, nothing!
My heart was filled with glorious madness.
I hurled myself out in a thousand pieces
and made a mark, by God!
I remember so much. How my face looked
under the streetlight. Rain in the night.
The color of my hair.
Now I write poetry on the back of grocery lists
and stand bemused in the supermarket aisle
while people clatter carts indignantly around me.
I can’t stop smiling, though.
My skin embraces me, and the air that I breathe
slides down my throat like silk.
I move through this world like a goddess.
Disguised in jeans and holey sneakers, freckles
and streaked hair, I lurk waiting
to catch the universe unaware
and know its secrets
as my own.

And you? You booked passage
on a ship of state heading for a civilized shore,
one you had thoughtfully planned on.
Or did you plan at all, beyond that first kiss?
I can see you now, determined to follow the rules
but bold as hell when you really wanted something.
You gave life no quarter
and so it yielded up its treasures to you.
What now? A quiet, restful, orderly life?
My dear, you lack patience.
And you keep coming round curves,
surprised into laughter at what’s next.
Exactly as you planned it long ago,
or did it all just happen?
You never were quite sure which was reality,
which your dreams.

Ah, we were a pair!
Crazy with desire for life not limited
or circumscribed by rules or the lack of them.
We loved life holy then,
And now. Giddy as girls.
Nothing has changed.


Action Plan for Poets

Photo of a bare-branched tree outlined against a blue sky with light clouds

Tree and Sky. No more words needed.

Lately I’ve been lacking in inspiration for more than my mundane life, so I turned to one of my favorite authors and explorers of consciousness, Robert Moss. I found just the right message for me and plan to take action starting tonight.

An Action Plan for Poets of Consciousness

Catch your dreams and write them in a journal.

Find a dream partner and tell dreams to each other every day.

Make poetry, art and creative decisions from your dreams.

Navigate by synchronicity; treat everything that enters your field of perception as a personal message from the Divine.

Withhold your consent from other people’s limited definitions of reality.

Avoid negative mantras and self-limiting beliefs.

Commit poetry, every day, in every way.

via Action plan for poets of consciousness – Dream Gates.

Red on a Cold Day

Cardinal in a icy-branched bush


Not so cold today, but colorless: gray sky, gray trees, white land. Reminds me of a poem I wrote twenty years ago. (I am not so romantic now.)


Toneless light
washes my morning face.
Looking in my mirror and
thinking of you,
I bind up my hair
against the hard edges of the day.

Cold winter morning
sharp against my cheek,
I lock the door, turn the key,
you tucked neatly
in a corner of my mind.
Rich icon confined in a sigh.

Early spring flowers
at my feet spark color
into a monotone world.
As do you.
The depths of your being
fill me with dreams.

My footsteps echo hollow
on frost-etched pavement.
Sparkling brilliance,
rose red petals,
velvet in my mind.
You in the dark places,

I had never thought
to come to this,
my world of pale yellow boundaries
edged in black.
A child’s coloring book
of circumstance and tradition.
My crayons, as my life
confined within the lines.

Now passion colors what I do.
Defrosting the refrigerator
I thought of Samoa.
And yesterday
I crossed the street
without looking both ways.
No more gold stars.

Your bold, disorderly soul
has turned my thoughts
to glazing pots and being
seventeen with eyes
the color of rain,
reality turning on a single note
sung high beyond my hearing.

I pause, now at the edge
of interleaving myself
with the dull gray sky
seamless where it meets the earth.
Tree branches in black silhouette
forming graceful lines
draw my eye upward.
A lone cardinal bursts into song,
shattering the sameness.




Manhattan Island as seen from the harbor

City of Possibilities

Last week I went to New York City to meet an old, old friend. Old as in someone I’ve known for 20 years, and old as in someone who has passed the half-century mark. I see this friend once, sometimes twice a year, and when I do, we pick up the conversation as though we’d just seen each other last Tuesday. I come away from our time together refreshed, reminded of who I used to be 20 some years ago: that different energy I used to live in, and which was in me then. I miss it sometimes: those sharp edges, the dreaminess of poetry, the excitement of not knowing what’s coming next. When you have years of life ahead of you, your perspective is different from living those years and the daily experiences of the life you passed through. Nostalgia can be sweet but it can also be deadly. Paying too much attention to where you’ve been takes away from seeing what you are living now. According to studies, once you’ve experienced something, your mind notes it and stores it somewhere in your head. Then, when you find yourself in a similar situation, your mind pulls out the old memory and overlays it over the new experience. That is one of the challenges of changing how you think about things – you’re already biased in one direction or another. The trick is to see through that memory into where you actually are. This is why, very often, you don’t notice your children growing until you buy them school clothes in autumn.

So I meet with my friend and notice, this time, that he has more gray hair, has to wear his glasses more often, and is a little heavier. He still carries his vibrant energy, though, and in our talking, I feel myself reaching down into my memories for those aspects of myself he calls forth. Re-membering. Later, on the bus ride home, those aspects still spread out on my surface, I mine them for the riches they hold, to bring them back into my now life, to live more fully in my present.

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