Monday, September 30, 2013

A Future Trip

While roaming in the library—something I do fairly often—I found a book about bookstores. Well known writers wrote short pieces about their favorites. I started to read the book in my car and forty minutes later turned on the ignition.

Imagine taking a trip around the country or region by region and stopping in every mentioned bookstore. What an intriguing itinerary. Add to that some local flavor, a long walk, a stop in a cafe for tea or coffee, and a chance to attend some readings for newly released books.

There's a book ready to be written.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Morning

they sat in wheelchairs
unable to control
spastic movements,
their hands danced
around one another
until they clasped,
the younger woman
brought their two hands
to her cheek—
only sounds, no words,
the gesture released
the meaning
behind the hymns
we sang

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Release all preconceptions
Forget what you heard
Don't attempt to figure it out
Perhaps it's not the way you imagined
Just go with the flow

Breathe deep,
inhale the taste of fall

Friday, September 27, 2013

And Then

When I finish a book or a short story I want to find out what happens next. Tales end, but we know that the final period doesn't mean the final end. It's just that a writer comes to a stopping place, solves the problem and moves on.

There's always an "and then" to a story. Every article in the newspaper continues past the last line. We're curious. We want to go beyond the borders. Newspaper writers know this and they write follow up stories to help satiate our curiosity. But still the thread meanders past the writer's concluding word.

I have some partial endings I want to write. Family stories that hang between possible and forever shut.

To subscribe to the idea of a stream continuing on even when shoals and rocks deter a smooth path releases me from thinking of dead ends—and something as hopeless.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


the queen shouted eradicate all clocks
No, better yet set them to travel backwards
let them languish in possibilities
that ran out of time
release us from the ticking
from the stopwatch
the three minute timer
let time meander
in all dimensions

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Midrash


...for whither thou goest, I will go;
and where thou lodgest, I will lodge:
thy people shall be my people,
thy God my God
—Ruth 1:16

Once you're resolved to go, there was
nothing to it at all.
—Jeanette Walls

What will I do if I go to my place of birth? Who will remember me? Who will take me in? The people I left will see me as one who left the familiar, her own gods, and ran after an alien people. Some will turn their backs to me?.

Leaving is never easy. How would I manage?  Yet I couldn't stay. I spent time solving the easy parts—where to live, what to pack, opening bank accounts, and setting up a budget. Moving was easy—I packed and the movers came for the large pieces. A friend helped me stack paintings, albums, small items in her car trunk. I made trip after trip with clothes, dishes, pots and pans, and odds and ends like high boots for deep snow.
A friend stayed the first night. We unrolled sleeping bags and set-up in the loft. It took several weeks until I put away books, taking care to order them in categories—poetry on three bookshelves.

I'll be a stranger wherever I go—will I even understand the way people speak to one another? I remember the food my mother cooked, the delicate aromas. I wonder if Naomi wanted us to return to our birth home in Moab because she's embarrassed returning to her home with foreign daughters-in-law.

Such a release to leave—

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Purchasing Power

I find myself fascinated with certain catalogues at this time of the year. I dub them the catalogues of unusual ,unnecessary, and quirky gifts. From now until December these glossy pages will fill mailboxes and gladden the hearts of the beleaguered post office.

Who buys the Remote Controlled Dueling Helicopters? Where do you fly these dueling foes? And why?

If you like to multi task then the Single Handed Barber fits your personality. Looks as if the buzz cut or short crew cut are specialties.

For the insect lover: a Remote Controlled Tarantula with a hairy exterior. The eight legs move independently and his eyes light up. Batteries required.

And for all those who never acquired the dexterity to manipulate spaghetti around a fork— help is on the way. The motorized Spinning Spaghetti Fork turns at 22rpm and "smoothly winds pasta" around a fork. No longer will strands of unruly spaghetti hang down nor will you be forced to slurp an errant noodle before it falls.

Do you have a cat who finds mouse hunting difficult? Perhaps your cat feels so deficient that the sport no longer holds any allure. The Cat's Phantom Mouse Teaser "encourages cats to chase an elusive mouse scurrying beneath a fabric skirt." The mouse changes direction, its tail peeks out luring the cat to pounce. Your cat practices away from the eyes of mice and men.

My favorite—so far— The Power Nap Head Pillow. Envision a pillow that covers your entire head. It fits snuggly—but does leave an oval shaped space for your nose and mouth. Four inches of stuffing cradles your head and according to the write up your cocoon provides a dark and quiet environment. Your eyes remain buried beneath four inches of hypoallergenic stuffing.

The release of seasonal catalogues gives new meaning to idiosyncratic gifts for those you love.

None of my cooking friends own a pair of Tear-Free Onion Glasses—

Monday, September 23, 2013

A Strange Land

After being a holdout for years I succumbed and joined Facebook. Did I want to remain on the outside when everyone I knew had capitulated and joined? I asked myself if not joining meant that I was letting the world slip by—did it mean that I fell into that category of too stodgy, too old, too behind the times?

So I joined—found a respectable photo and sought out a dozen people I knew to friend. What a travesty of that word. As soon as my photo went up I received a comment—was that a wet suit I was wearing? No, my dark blue jacket had stripes. Then two people assured me that they thought the photo looked good. Actually I had found the comment amusing—especially because I have never done any underwater swimming—save for playing Marco Polo years ago.

After my initial foray I checked the news feed. I understand it all now. This is a place to record everything—the important, the trivial, the repetition. I feel like I'm from a different planet, an alien.

Friends release a plethora of words, photos, links —responses are made and people like or dislike what has been put out there, comments are made and then it all begins again.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Different Roads

And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten...
—Joel 2:25 KJV

I'm still stuck on the past and how it gets lost in the present—or embeds itself in the now. How can it be lost when the threads of events twist themselves into today? Certain aromas thrust me into rewinding an old reel and watching an event unfold. I am in the kitchen watching my grandmother cook or holding my nose when I climb the stairs and a cloud of cabbage descends and envelopes me like a cloak.

What about those memories that can't be eradicated—no white out, no eraser—they too remain part of the present? So the present is present with a long trail that extends back and back.

And I will restore... finish, make good, be at peace, put together what is torn or broken...
the years...the revolution of time...

In context the verse refers to both a physical restoration—for the people—and a spiritual reprieve.

But this verse is meant for each one of us. It's a promise of restoration.A refurbishment for some, a renovation, a release from guilt.

For years I prayed that an estranged family member could walk one step toward an open hand. Nothing happened. It was as if my prayers hit a ceiling and fell down.

Recently the connection with her daughter changed—the beginning of a gap appeared, a fissure, a rent in their relationship.

My prayer has altered. I pray for a mending and strengthening of that bond. The answer to that prayer will be a restoration of the years that the locust hath eaten.

It's a different path than expected—

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Small Details

Occasionally I wait until the last moment to complete a task and then I wonder why I sense a rush. Maybe it's a way to force the days to last longer. What happens to all the small actions we perform during the day?

We recall the large events, the momentous moments-- but what about the inconsequential, the repetitive motions of every day. Where do they go? We can't hold everything in memory and why recall every detail of each day? But if something isn't recalled did it really happen?

In 1972 Reverend Robert Shields started measuring his life and writing the minutia of his day. He stopped every five minutes to write --until a stoke in 1997 made it impossible to continue. At that point 37.5 million words sat in 94 boxes. His wife, after a short period of time, refused to take dictation.

According to a 1994 interview he said that stopping would be akin to " turning off his life." He even recorded his body temperature and blood pressure daily. It's hard to imagine how his wife and daughters managed.

The good Reverend couldn't release minutia--everything was important and needed to be noted. According to a New York Times article he wrote on one of six typewriters --" migrating from machine to machine."

Perhaps forgetting the small details is a blessing.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Delight

* Finding a new book, an unexpected treasure-- an author you didn't know, and immediately falling into the story

* Deciding on the spur of the moment to go to Maine and enjoy the ocean and rocks-- maybe even a lobster

* Attending a local book club after a hiatus of eight months and slipping right back into a comfort level. These are people you've known for twenty five years.

* Reading the Bible on my ITouch, highlighting and writing notes when something strikes me as profound, interesting, or something to remember

* Releasing the notion that summer will last forever and welcoming autumn--a bit

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I Will...


Let it be known that I'll never wear stiletto heels. My antipathy has nothing to do with an aversion to discomfort for the sake of fashion. Nor do I avoid those six inch spikes because of the negative press perpetrated by podiatrists and orthopedic specialists. I simply don't believe that I can balance on those heels. I see my ankles bending outward and then inward. I visualize a heel stuck in a sidewalk crack. I see myself weaving and toppling until reaching something to hold onto--a wall, a banister, a bush.


Let it be known that I love Brussels sprouts: sautéed, roasted, braised.


Let it be known that I once received a ticket for jay walking in New York City. It was a sting operation and a dozen of us were caught, cited, and given warnings.


Let it be known that I question reality when I read about reality television. If the real is actual rather than what we want it to be, if the sober reality rubs against the gloss of television...

if reality stops after the television is turned off then I think it's a bogus reality.


Let it be known that I love reading in coffee shops--surrounded by the sounds of people talking, the aroma of beans, the taste of an egg sandwich on an English muffin, and the quick discussions.

" What are you reading?"
" Let me write down that name."


Let it be known I finally know the background of the word Kracken--I knew that the phrase Release the Kracken from Clash of the Titanswas defined by Urban Dictionary as kicking...

It's a mythological giant sea creature-- about a mile long. Trace it's lineage far enough back and you're in the 12th century. By 1700 some writers described the Kraken as floating islands.

You'll even find poems about the kraken--
Alfred Lord Tennyson writes:

Far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepers...

So I can see how it came to mean " unleash the toughest, strongest piece of tenacity when faced with something that is not usually regarded as fun..."

Let it be known that I will release the Kraken...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Too Soon

only one more week
until the yellow peaches,
the Gala apples and Gravensteins
no longer fill the boxes and bags
at our local orchard,
the ice cream store
hours keep pace
with daylight, days collapse
while mornings take longer
to warm up and an evening chill
enters open windows,
summer releases its hold
while autumn stalks

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

To Salvage

a reprieve
a respite
a hiatus
to postpone
for another day
to grant a pardon
to allow time for forgiveness
to delay, to defer
to grant redemption
and reconcile differences
to absolve
to release past words
old wounds
to write a different history
with new dialogue
to define atonement

Monday, September 16, 2013

Another Way of Seeing

to interpret something, to stick your neck out and risk being wrong, to have people say that can't be, why did you select that particular way of seeing is to court being ridiculed—but that's not a terrible burden if you believe the way you see has possibilities even though it's on the brink of being odd, slightly quirky, off center—even not usual,

but what is common may be an easy explanation rather than one that looks at all the sides and refuses to fall in line with the prevailing opinion—to take that road means releasing yourself from the group and walking away from the comfort of falling in line when that line feels morally wrong, repugnant and ill conceived and simply taking another stand

yet if it isn't aligned with something beyond oneself it may lead to a quagmire, a pit of quicksand or snag you on a low shoal

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Several weeks ago I entered a photograph in a juried exhibit and it was accepted. And I was elated since I knew that most of the pieces didn't make the cut—and I had previously tried to get into this particular exhibit.

This photo was rather special—everyone who looked at it said "evocative"—yet simple. A dingy on the marsh waiting for high tide. The greens appeared to layer themselves across the print, with each strand standing out. An array of greens—subtle, yet a palette found under a late afternoon sun. I called the picture—Waiting.

It reminded me of how often we wait for something to happen, for the next day, for the report, for the beginning or ending—waiting is deep seated. Yet, this boat waited placidly—content amid a plethora of greens. Nothing seemed rushed. The photo released a serene, but hypnotic impression.

Then I received a phone call asking if I'd be at the opening—"you'll be surprised"—delighted.

I mentioned the opening to several people—one a woman who I only see at the coffee house I frequent, one who took a writing class with me and takes marvelous photographs, and a couple who I initially met at the coffee house.

I didn't spread the word because people are busy and you don't want anyone to feel they have to show up.

Today, one of those magnificent early fall day in New England—crisp and sunny--called to everyone to be outside.

Church in the morning—an invigorating sermon with lots to think about. I like that.

Then the opening. Lots of people, a wonderful show—terrific sweets, cheeses, apple slices, cider and lemon water served in an outdoor garden.

At three o'clock someone called the gathering together. Just as we were crowding into the upstairs space, I spotted someone I had known from a Chinese Brush painting course. Our paintings were side by side downstairs. Such a coincidence!

When they announced the pieces that received prizes—my name was called. The last time I received an award in art I was thirteen and won a Gold Scholastic Key for a charcoal still life.

I shook hands with the presenter and held my envelope—tightly, but didn't open it until we drove home.

The award was special—but what really was special were all the people I told who showed up.

God's grace was there—

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Time Converges

release me
let me go

No yoke
to tie me down
to ordinary time

Let me roam
in sacred time
in the silence
of memory--
Soul memory
the repository
of non- linear time

Friday, September 13, 2013

Harvard Square

cars clogged
the streets, barely
willing to stop
for lights, pulling
against brakes
while waiting
for pedestrians
to cross

A man held
a cardboard sign--
homeless and hungry
spelled out in black
magic marker

In the background
a store selling
imported teas

Traffic continues
bumper to bumper,
exhaust fumes
release an acrid aroma

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Right Now

There's a story about a man whose death brought great sadness to his many followers. What was his secret? People wanted to know what made so many people adore this man. Ordinary appearance, quiet spoken, not a rabble rouser, generous but not over generous—simply ordinary.

His life was full. The tale continues—one person asked what was of importance to this man. Many people tried to answer that question, but they didn't know for sure.

Since this is one of the Hasidic tales collected by Martin Buber you know that the answer will contain some moral.

Finally a pupil of the man spoke up in response to the question, "What was of importance to this man?"

The pupil's answer, "Whatever he happened to be doing at the moment."

Imagine that? How often I am thinking about what I'll be doing later, tomorrow, next week. Imagine what a release it is to recognize that what is of importance is exactly what I'm doing at this moment.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


prayer is
...God singing within us...
--Martin Buber

When I spot a child
splashing in a puddle and smile
God singing within me
When I peel a zucchini, slice
it into thin slivers, add tomatoes,
onion strips and diced green pepper
the same way I cooked ratatouille
with my daughter when she turned twelve
God singing within me
When I listen to my partner laugh
When I hear the ocean's breath—
the inhale and exhale of tides

When we stop to say "oh my"
isn't this grand
when herons fly overhead
when baby turtles migrate to a pond
and we watch their progress
when we release blessings in the world

God's singing within us

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Dialogically— to participate in dialogue

I recently read an article about praying dialogically. The writer, Kenneth Paul Kramer, refers to this way of praying as relational. Martin Buber in I and Thou writes of God's presence in relationships.

Do I sometimes only think of prayer as something I do alone? Certainly there are communal prayers and prayers as beginnings and endings. And when I address God am I quiet enough to listen or just reciting a litany of requests followed by praise—sometimes as an afterthought.

How often do I realize that God's been listening and sending a response through someone's words or actions?

Every time we enter into a conversation or even stop to pay attention our words may be just what that person needs—perhaps a need they didn't even recognize, but God understood.

Martin Buber notes that when dialogue is genuine and mutual it always includes more than the speakers—God is present.

Kramer asks the question, "How can I hear God speak?"

I can release the notion of anticipating bells and whistles, thunder and quaking and realize that one way I can hear is by being attentive each day.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Release Me from Technology

After spending two hours in a convoluted struggle with the Internet, being stymied at every turn, I am requesting an official Luddite card. I recently read about a family intent on rolling back the clock. They'll be living an entire year without computers, cell phones, digital cameras. Remember when you consulted a paper map instead of map quest?

No GPS devices, no email, no Facebook, no apps. Instead of a keyboard a typewriter or even better a pen or pencil. In fact forget the pencil sharpener and use a knife to carve a point.

Years ago I loved wandering the aisles of good stationery stores. Such choices. Pens that you filled instead of dropping in a cartridge, notebooks with good paper instead of paper that bleeds when you use a fountain pen. And if it doesn't bleed the ink shows through the page. You can still find good notebooks-- just not the variety. And all those stores that catered to the pen wielding, paper loving writers--gone.

Do I receive a card, a bumper sticker, a pin when I join the Luddites. Is there an organization? Will I suffer from withdrawal? Tonight I simply want to feel that release, that rush of energy when I go organic.

Too bad one can't talk back to the computer, engage in a conversation, explain how it feels to do something over and over and not get anywhere. All I wanted-- an explanation.

I must take a stand and refuse to allow a program to bring me to my knees.

Sunday, September 08, 2013


We lie to get out of things—those little white lies. "I'm sorry I can't do that because..." It's just easier than explaining the real reasons.

A recent survey indicated that many people lie about reading the classics. To be well read, in some circles, means that you've worked your way through the canon.

But the lies we tell ourselves grow tentacles. Sloughing off their hold means looking them in the eye and acknowledging our creations.

To prevaricate, to occupy a position, to pervert the truth of a situation, to pretend that one thing is other, to distort and create a different scenario...

But what about a refusal to acknowledge the truth of a situation—governments do it all the time.

Today the minister spoke about lies. She asked us what lies we told ourselves. I expect that the first layer contains simple lies. My mother always trimmed five years off her age.

I expect it isn't the lies we don't know, but those we know that create a Gordian Knot. To disentangle, to extricate, to release ourselves from that difficulty means disrobing—standing exposed.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Out of a Building

Tomorrow the church year begins in earnest. Not that God is on vacation during the summer, but everything winds down a bit. Hot weather and vacations thin the numbers.

I recall a summer service in a National Park. Hymns were printed out on mimeographed sheets and the college age leaders provided guitar accompaniment. Then we listened to the silence. Odd how it felt as if within the quiet we all began to breathe in unison.

Within that space we heard God's ruah-- breath, spirit. Our silence and the setting released us from the ordinary and catapulted us into holy space.

Friday, September 06, 2013


I'm inundated with paper.

Mobile trucks offer "purge" shredding. Their trucks appear in parking lots-- off site and on site services-- whatever suits the customer.

For those, stalwart souls who aren't depressed with their piles of "to shred" papers and who wish to do their own shredding, help abounds. Get thee a cross-cut shredder. It efficiently slices your papers vertically and horizontally and leaves small confetti shapes.

Shredding--the perfect metaphor for tearing away remnants of the past, fragmenting history.

Is there a release when we slough off pieces of the past or do we need to read the past with new eyes.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Continuing With Records

The largest BIble in the world measures 43.5 inches high and when open extends to a width of 98 inches. According to Abilene Christian University—where the Bible resides— the Bible weighs in at 1,094 pounds. "The book was constructed so that it can be dissembled into 31 sections for moving purposes."

How about a Nano Bible? Imagine the entire Bible reproduced in a "microscopic size using nanotechnology and submicron writing..." entirely reproduced on a small crystal. If you don't want an English version select the Latin Vulgate or Septuagint Bible.

According to an article in Religion Today if you stacked all the Bibles in American homes, "the tower would rise 29 million feet, nearly 1000 times the height of Mount Everest."

My own Bible collection remains meager, but I did once own a denim covered NewTestament, obviously aimed at a niche market.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

A Paean to Records

Within the last two days I’ve read of two impressive records—one is a physical feat and the other a collection of objects all having one common similarity.

Both accomplishments required long term diligence, a somewhat obsessive compulsion to keep going, and a desire to announce the record. In fairness people love to read of records broken and new winners lauded.

Setting a physical record is done for the personal satisfaction of knowing that you could do it—whatever that may be—Mt Everest or a run around the block.

Every day someone breaks a record—either personal or communal. When I taught learning disabled readers I witnessed record after record smashed. Bernie, who reached the age of twelve and still couldn’t read primers, finally—after hours of hard work and eclectic instruction— put it together and read a skateboard magazine.

I went to elementary school with a boy who loved to memorize the batting averages of all the professional baseball players. At the end of the season he’d then transcribe them into a book. By high school his interest waned. I always wondered what happened to his pages and pages of statistics.

Writing a blog post every day and using the word release is my own personal record, but it will only mean something if I can figure out where I’m going.

There’s a man in San Francisco who has been building a toothpick structure for the last thirty-four years. That’s persistence—and over one million toothpicks.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Redeeming Word

so many meanings
so many possibilities,
release contains handfuls
of fresh water, barrels
of rainwater washing
away detritus
silt, fragments
of the past

Monday, September 02, 2013

It's Not for Me

Yesterday, I heard several people refer to their bucket list.
"I'll add that to my bucket list."
"Cross one off my bucket list."

What an odd expression. After several excursions on the web I emerged with a number of theories about its lineage. According to one source the actual expression goes back to 1785.

Speculation abounds —one theory describes a way of leaving the world by placing a slip knot around your neck, standing on a bucket and when ready, kicking the bucket away. Thus to kick the bucket means to leave this universe. Supposedly this dates back to the Middle Ages.

So your bucket list contains things you want to achieve, dispatch, or experience before kicking the bucket.

After hearing one woman say to a friend, "Scuba diving in Hawaii had been on my bucket list for five years," I wondered about the rest of her items.

I never created a bucket list. What does that say about me? Are goals the same as a bucket list?

If you run into trouble creating a bucket list don't fret because there are books with suggestions. Web pages abound with ideas —in case you come up blank and fear that your list will look anemic. Select a category and see what's available for your bucket list.

I selected World Records. Why not challenge a record. Immediately a list appeared of records that I could try to top—

most tattooed human body
longest fingernails
fastest time to eat a 12 inch pizza

One site promises my life will be changed forever when I incorporate some of their ideas into my bucket list. This was a benign list. I could go to a drive in movie ( after I find one). I could jump in a cab and yell, "Follow that car."

If none of these ideas feel like the correct fit I'm encouraged to sit down and seriously think of what to put in a bucket list. After completion I'm urged to "release it on a web site designed to help people cross items off their bucket list."

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Digging Deep

Eight months ago, minus several days, I selected my star—turned it over and found my word for the year. Release. Since that time I've looked at the word and tried to squeeze out a plethora of meanings.

Often the word sent me off in a direction I hadn't expected— but despite seeing release in various guises—serious, thought provoking, humorous—I find that I need to pursue a personal meaning. Without that meaning the word acts like a canker sore, raw and sulky.

Perhaps taking deep breaths and asking and answering the questions that peel back layers until the roots appear...

A shallot or an onion, when cut, causes my eyes to smart. The closer I get to the onion's core the more difficult it is to remain dry eyed.

To plump the depths requires a willingness to keep at something until you arrive at the center. That's the rub.