Friday, December 19, 2014

Post-Composition Book

A lined journal or a composition book, the old type, won't cause any nerve wracking, headache splitting, unflagging angst. Perhaps you smudged a word or when using a fountain pen on cheap paper the ink bled, but neither a catastrophe.

Even when the cover frays or the book warps what is inside maintains its integrity.

This is not so with electronics. The more sophisticated the greater the opportunity for disaster. How many people stare at a screen befuddled by what has happened or is happening?

I don't need a password to open my journal. And no one is in the background sending me messages--" this is a weak password" or " you must include a lower case letter, a capital, and several numerals."

No one tells me that someone else has my screen name-- the name I've been using for years. The nickname I've carried with me since childhood. Who is this other person?

Why this rant?

I received an IPhone 6 as a gift. It was all set up when I left the store. Ready to go. All my apps were in the cloud. All ninety-five apps. But did I really want to download each app. A laborious process. A time waster.

So I did what I had done many times before. I connected the IPhone to my computer and my new item showed along with a two older ITouches.

I then clicked Restore. That is what you are supposed to do, but I must have also done something that gave the computer the incorrect message.

When the clear signal was given and I unhooked the umbilical cord my new IPhone had lost many of its distinctive features. My password no longer worked and I was staring at a new IPhone with old features.

The new photo I had assembled for the opening screen was replaced with a screen cover five years old.

I spent close to an hour speaking to an Apple maven at Apple Care. He assured me that we could solve the problem.

Despite his assurances the problem remained. Even one of my mailboxes was gone.

Tomorrow I'll travel to the Apple Store and plead for a restoration.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


A report on gluten free pizza. Heavy. Sets right down in your stomach.

A report on discovering once again that we all have particular deep obsessive and abiding interests. We stopped in a store selling comics to purchase a Star Wars book as a Christmas present. The young woman in the store waxed eloquently about the story and the movies- almost scene for scene.

A report on eating small portions in expensive restaurants. The food is good, but presentation is what is most important. I expect that culinary schools teach a special course on how to create spirals of sauce on a plate.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


A whirlwind of a day
complete with too much food
and endless conversations,
some repetition of the past
and talk of what's ahead

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Tree

The tree is up, ornaments on, and several packages wrapped. It's a small tree, well proportioned and full for its size.

I love glitzy shiny ornaments, especially those with glitter. They shimmer and dance. Nothing sophisticated nor high brow about their demeanor. They go well with popcorn strands or necklaces made of construction paper.

Sophistication isn't in my vocabulary.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Upon Thinking About God

suppose you got it all wrong
suppose everything you thought
was upside down and everything
you doubted really was true
then where do you fit—
in-between the truth
you accepted yesterday
and the doubts you ponder—
today the sky is below
and the ground above
people walk on their hands
and pray with their feet
talk with their feet
and all seems right
until you wonder
if what you thought
has relevance

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Sunday morning and the preacher
reminds us of incivilities, injustices,
our privileged status, those without,
those persecuted, those who suffer,
those who sit back complacently
because it doesn't affect them
and those who protest either with
their feet, their voices,
their written words

and what happens now

do we now wait for next week
to hear the message again

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The New Card

I didn't know that the National Mah Jongg League still existed until a friend revealed that she joined. Resurgence. Revival.

During the 1920s the game acquired the status of a "craze". By the end of that decade it no longer held the same fascination for players. Yet, a phenomenon -- probably little understood-- happened. Jewish women took to the game and in 1937 a small group of women formed the National Mah Jong League. Why so many Jewish women played is not known-- which doesn't stop all manner of conjecture.

Every year the League creates a new card of "combinations" needed to win the game. The game is played with tiles, rather than cards, and in order to win your thirteen tiles must represent one of the combinations.

I know next to nothing about Mah Jongg, save for growing up in a household with a card carrying savvy Mah Jongg mother. My mother played at least one evening a week-- often more. I can still hear the clink of tiles being discarded on the bridge table and women saying " five bam"...

When the new card arrived she went into a day of complete study and memorized all the new combinations.

" You can't be checking your card to find out which hand is best for the tiles on on your rack."

When my father retired and they moved to a warmer climate she immediately found a game and my father found the time to read aisles of history books from the public library. While he devoured tomes on historiography she honed her skills at Mah Jong.

Now she had a regular evening game and a poolside afternoon game with the same group of four other women.

After my father died she joined the women, all widows, for Saturday morning breakfast at a local restaurant. She was playing a game of mah Jongg with her regular group when she became ill and left the game. That was her last game.

Two tiles from her old set are on my desk. When I look at them I can almost hear the click clack of the tiles and the women calling out the name as they discard the tile. and I can see my mother drinking a cup of tea and reading and rereading her card.


Friday, December 12, 2014

National Pastime

Have you ever noticed how quickly time moves from Thanksgiving to Christmas?

It's as if the hours between day and night collapse, sixty minutes morphs into half that number, and you feel as if the tasks needing completion increase.

Ignore this new dimension. It's a recurring phenomenon that will pass.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Call

we study
bent over—
scanning books
seeking meaning
from ancient words—
does it matter if Abram
was flesh and blood
or if we robe him with
our skin and sinews—
he's alive at this table
taking us on his journey
if we dare follow

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


I run
and try to clutch
my shadow. It slides
out of my grasp,
finds shade,
blends in,
then waits for me
to walk by,
before catching up.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Bring on the Challenge

The time of year for selecting a reading challenge approaches at breakneck speed. In previous years I read twenty books by Australian writers, read books with titles from A- Z, read a book about every continent, read random titles I picked off the shelves.

The later challenge gave me instructions on how to find the book for the month. Once I was told to go to the fiction section of the library and find the third shelf of the third aisle- counting from top down- and count the books until I reached the fourteenth book. The fifteenth book was my book for the month.

Some titles were winners, others were unbearable. But a challenge is just that.

The TBR challenge may be appropriate. My bookshelves cave in with the books I've bought, but haven't gotten to yet. In the TBR challenge I write down a list of twelve books that have been on my shelf for at least a year. I post the list and then proceed to chop away at the accumulated stack. After each book I write a review.

Why did I purchase some of the books? Some came from library sales and I thought at the time that I really wanted to read a five hundred page tome on an esoteric subject. Now I can't imagine what drew me to the subject.

Do I really want to commit to twelve books so early in the year? Perhaps I'll look around for some other challenges-- something with an unusual twist.

Monday, December 08, 2014

The Kitchen Chair

You know that the legs
are the same length,
that the seat is a decent
distance from the floor,and
the chair back supports your back
and your legs touch the ground
Now pick up a pencil
and draw the chair
Odd at how the seat
flies in the air
and the legs can't
stay on the floor
at the same time,
and your toes
touch the ground
but your heels don't

Sunday, December 07, 2014


For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Luke 1:37

A small card inserted in my church bulletin carried that message. My partner found a different message on her card. Maybe every card differed. Maybe the church purchased a set of cards-- icon on the front with a quote from scripture and two questions on the back. We all had the same questions.

Possibly, even though receiving a particular card was random, could that card be just the one you wanted or needed?

Or do we look for a hidden message, an application targeted for us, as if the heavens conspired to deliver just those words?

Which one is it? I'd like to believe that the message arrived at the right destination, that it was slated for me-- but I expect that I read the words and thought --accept the words at their face value. For God everything is possible. That's all it says. It doesn't say anything but that.

Just because everything is possible doesn't mean that God interferes with someone's free will. God isn't in the business of cajoling or arm bending. So just because anything is possible it's a hands off policy when it comes to insisting on someone doing something or not doing something.

Just because we have a blueprint doesn't mean that it's easy to read or follow. But I do think an occasional hint or subliminal message doesn't interfere with anyone's free will.

Given that I've gotten to that point in my circuitous reasoning I do think that the message fits.

Isn't reasoning wonderful.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Perspective as Metaphor

Stack one book on top of another book, then add another volume. Just to make it more complex add a small slim book . Now look at the angles, check the edges, estimate the heft of each book. Take out a pencil and draw just what you see.

It's not easy to get each book to nestle on top of another book or to remain horizontal. One book wants to fly off the page, another appears to be too wide on one end. What you see is deceptive.

Perspective-- the appearance of things. Taking a three dimensional world and making it two dimensional requires an adept eye.

Perspective-- hearing someone else's perspective requires real listening skills.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Don't Ignore Warning Signs

When I read about the increased anti-semitism in Europe, when I read about the detestable hate crime committed yesterday in France which resulted in the rape of a young woman, I knew that I didn't want to travel to Europe.

Why is anti-semitism rearing its head? I know many will point to the Israeli and Palestinian situation as an impetus, but I think it's more insidious.

Like racism there are those who harbor hatred which simmers below the surface until there's an opening, a crack and suddenly it becomes permissible to give vent to those feelings. Often the venting is verbal, but with some people it boils over into action.

I'd like to see our schools spend as much time teaching the humanities as science and math. Know your history or repeat it over and over. Let's not ignore any hatred that escalates.

There are too many lemmings out there.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

In the Beginning

Why? Why does color matter? Why does the way you pray matter? Why do we argue about our way as the only way as if the possibility of another path can't be, can't matter. Why can't we temper our words?

Do we need a new lexicon? Do we need to start over again and try to get it right?

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

A Quandry

When does reading too many mysteries invade your life? I am confronted with just that dilemma and I don't read too many mysteries.

I love the concept of mail, real mail, letters with a stamp, letters you open and savor. This does not include junk mail, requests for money, or financial statements. The mail I refer to is the type of sit down, perhaps with a cup of tea, mail.

Recently I heard about a group that exchanges postcards-- handmade or store bought. Over 500,000 people from 221 countries share postcards. It's mail. It's collecting. Now here's the rub. Suppose some unsavory character lurks around the site. Can't you visualize an unwanted scenario?

Enter the detective who, after many wrong turns, deciphers the case. Perhaps instead of joining the group I should write the mystery and that may require research which in turn may require joining. And round and round...

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas

no frozen yogurt
no scones
no blueberry muffins
forget the pumpkin latte
forget apple cider donuts
forget chocolate covered peanuts

get back to basics
kale and spinach salad
yogurt dressing
gird yourself for pushing away
platters of cookies
pates, petite appetizers,
chips and dips,

Indulge on carrots, celery,
green peppers, and apples

this is a difficult season

Monday, December 01, 2014

A New Place

Then Jacob went on his journey,
and came into the land of the people of the east.
—Genesis 29:1

Literally — "Then Jacob lifted up his feet."
As he begins his journey of 400 miles the sun sets.

Jacob not only leaves his geographic home, but he also leaves his parents. His journey is one of exile from what is familiar.

That's the rub. Trade the neighborhood for a new location and uncertainty.

When I moved from Maryland and a tight knit community to Sudbury, Massachusetts, I left behind a hillside of azaleas, a neighbor who introduced me to Flannery O'Connor, southern literature, and an accent straight from the Mississippi Delta—a neighbor who baked the best sponge cake and loved Anthony Trollope's Barchester Chronicles. We all belonged to a book club that met once a month and had an iron clad rule—Talking About Your Offspring was Forbidden.

It was in that Maryland neighborhood that I discovered myself.

The moving van arrived in Sudbury, Massachusetts in the middle of a snow storm. Was that a metaphor for my change of location?

A large, cold house—a distance away from the next house might look pretty in a brochure, but I missed the close proximity of the houses in Maryland.

"And Jacob looked, and saw a well in the field;
and behold, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it;
for out of the well they watered the flocks."
—Genesis 29:2

My well was a bookstore in Cambridge—New Words: A Women's Bookstore. I found it by accident, but I became a regular visitor. Where else could I find books by women about women? Where else could I listen to radical feminists spar with more conservative feminists?

I became friends with one of the owners of New Words and we talked books. She was a fan of British mysteries as well as a font of information on Women's Studies and Victorian women writers.

It was on their bulletin board that I found an ad for a poetry workshop taught by Robin Becker. At that time she taught at MIT. Our writing group included a woman who taught astrophysics at MIT, as well as a manicurist who worked in Cambridge. Once a week I drove down into the depths of Somerville— initially getting lost.

When I walked in the door of New Words I was nourished and fed.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


You can't keep it at bay forever
despite all the age defying miracle
supplements or the promises
of gurus selling Biblical lifespans.
In time death wins. We're
born with that albatross.

PAD. Day 30. Prompt: inevitable

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Over and Over

repetition builds memory
remember learning the multiplication table
or shooting foul shots over and over
or memorizing Bible verses
for a time when you need a line or two
or counting stitches when you learned
to follow a pattern for argyle socks
repetition builds memory
play a part over and over
and you wear that persona

PAD. Day 29. Prompt: doing something over and over

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Good News

the funeral parlor supplied fans
for the ladies to use when
the heat in the church
matched the heat of the preacher
Every Sunday he thumped his Bible,
I'm a sinner how about you?
His words near shook the quilt sewed
by the sisterhood off the wall
Brothers and Sisters raised their arms
waving them like wheat in a wind,
Amen, amen, amen
Sister Sally spoke in tongues every Sunday
When the call came to be saved
some walked to the front, some new to the walk,
a few repeaters cause it didn't take
Amen amen, amen brothers and sisters
A few held on to the pew seat afraid
of what it really meant to take that walk

PAD. Day 28. Prompt. The Good--- ( fill in a word)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Metaphor for Life

the sun dips behind a mountain
shy like and lets the dark approach--
not an intruder but an expected visitor

I enjoy when things change without
swift detours or sharp corners,
when getting older has soft edges

PAD. Day 28. Prompt: a poem of appreciation

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Say No to the Same Old

mix it up
add hot pepper to the stew,
buy rutabaga instead of carrots
Instead of lettuce try kale
make meatloaf with tempeh
and silk tofu, eschew sour cream
for Greek yogurt,
serve dessert first

PAD. Day 27. Prompt: same

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Love Poem

when the day turns, looks back
and leaves a red glow on the
horizon, I am infatuated, lost
in the brazen display of color,
and willing to follow,
knowing that dark only lasts
for a set period of time

PAD Day 25 Prompt : a love or anti-love poem