Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Only Hours Away

the day turns
and another year
nudges the previous year
into the place of reminiscing,
what happened during those days,
those we mourn, those we celebrate,
what we'll miss, and what we continue to hope for

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What Will They Be?

It's that time of year--resolutions, goals. It's also the time to look back and see if you managed to attain those 2014 goals.

I drag my feet when it comes to setting goals. Don't want to disappoint myself. Besides I find that goals that arise organically work best.

Perhaps I'll designate 2015 as the year I'm open to the universe setting goals for me.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Where oh Where...

My digital calendar has wiped out all months save December. What does this mean? Am I to assume that I'll repeat those months? Perhaps there's a subliminal message I'm not getting.

Suppose at some future date I want to look up what happened in the month of April? Do I now have a clean slate? Of course I also have a paper calendar, because intuitively I don't fully trust the digital calendar . It is capricious. With a flick of a finger, an incorrect click all data disappears. Actually it doesn't evaporate. It resides in the cloud.

Where is this amorphous cloud? Why is it hoarding my dates? Even though I am turned on, even though I spent more money for extra storage, my events on all dates prior to December 1st have disappeared.

Imagine the angst if suddenly all the events on your calendar moved over to someone else's computer or phone? People would be attending concerts they disliked, going to visit people they didn't know, explaining to the eye doctor their molar pain.

This disappearance act is barbaric. It is as if a piece of me vanished into a vapor.

The cloud could be a major actor in a conspiracy plot. Now there's a germ of an idea for a novel-- a dystopian novel.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Just Roll it Over

The end of the year finds me realizing that half of what I set out to accomplish is left either half done or not done at all. I really wanted to shred saved credit card slips accumulated over the past year. Perhaps I wanted to craft a book cover out of CVS slips.

Then there are file folders filled with papers, but not filed. Last year I decided not to save magazines, but to cut out those articles I might read again, scan them, and organize the scanned copies on my computer. There's a bulging folder of articles ready to be scanned.

And how about the stack of to be read books that I own? Each year I attend used book extravaganzas. And each year I leave with books to add to my pile. Yet these are not the first books I read. I read library books and my to be read pile grows. Recently I read one of the books because the stack was wobbly and needed a height reduction.

Most important, in fact imperative, was to either run off a hard copy or simply copy each poem I wrote this year. One snafu and they will be gone.

I also anticipated writing a short story,perhaps even a novel, and rereading all of Flannery O'Connor's writings. Inroads, but nothing substantial.

Ah-- to connect to all those things we wish we had done, but didn't do. Isn't that the rub?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Oh Do Connect

Connect up with people you haven't seen in decades
Connect up with all those contacts you saved even though the names draw a blank

Connect with local businesses-- buy a comic book, eat Korean food, enjoy a smoothie made with flaxseed, let the manicurist paint each nail a different color, be wild and get a butch haircut, pump iron, learn to fence, buy a new pair of eyeglasses, eat a sandwich on gluten free bread, order a double espresso decaf, starch several cotton shirts, smother a veggie burger with onions and mushrooms and a side order of fried onions-- light on the salt, play a game of Dungeon and Dragons, buy a recliner, look at faucets, buy a water purifier, buy long stem roses, eat a veggie sub, paint a picture while drinking a glass of Chardonnay, shorten a pair of pants, find a pair of heavy socks, and buy sea scallops.

Connect with my inner child.


Friday, December 26, 2014

"Only Connect"

Connect. That was the word on the star I selected in church last January. Actually I didn’t select that star—all the words faced the floor. Connect—a perfect word for me.
Which makes me wonder if each person decides that the word is a perfect fit or that the word, like an oracle, points to a lesson for the year.
Do the readers of astrology charts think that what they read or see is directly applicable to life?
Fortunetellers, crystal ball readers, or soothsayers recognize our desire to see an alignment between their words and our lives?  Of course—we want to ignore the less desirable readings.
I worked with someone who believed in the utter veracity of dreams. When a dream urged her to move to Germany because only there would she meet her future husband—she applied for a teaching job in Germany.
Six months later she packed her bags, took a leave of absence for one year, and left for Germany. When she returned to school the following September to resume her job teaching the fourth grade—she returned alone.
She didn’t meet her future husband, but did do a lot of sightseeing in Europe. “Perhaps,” she said, “the dream was to propel me to expand my horizons.”
So connect—the word resonated with me. Did it also mean reconnect? If it didn’t then I altered the word to satisfy my own wants.

My 2013 word—release…
My 2014 word—connect…

What comes next?

Thursday, December 25, 2014


please include sweet  onions,
roasted red peppers, mushrooms,
tomatoes and yellow cheddar cheese
white cheddar seems sallow
yes, home fries—well done
with a crisp exterior
or they will appear bland,
run of the mill
if it’s not too much trouble
add a dollop of salsa

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


To all my friends who celebrate Christmas.
Go Tell it On the Mountain

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Could You Say that Again?

Have you ever, but of course you have, found yourself speaking to a robotic voice? Do you say, "Why do I need to answer these inane questions before I'm connected to a real human?"

And you can't rile the mechanized, digitalized voice—it simply plods on with a canned message. It doesn't answer back, show annoyance, or move from its appointed ways. A stoic voice plodding on to a conclusion.

And when a human voice is finally at the end of the line—the person is difficult to understand.

"Where are you located?" I inquire—after I've asked the woman to repeat what she said for the third time.

India. I try to listen carefully, but I still politely ask  her to repeat a sentence. It is me, I think, my hearing isn't that acute. After a series of back and forths we are simpatico.

I don't wish to accept the title of curmudgeon and I do believe that we live in a global economy, but shouldn't it be easier to communicate?


I recently, this evening, received an email about a project to purchase Google ads on the Internet. The ads would be scriptural verses. When someone read the verse and clicked the words they'd end up in a place where free Bible material as well as information was available.

Ad space requires a fair amount of money -- therefore a request for donations. $20.00 means "10,000 verses will be shared".

" In the last two weeks 2,000,000 verses have been shared."

This is a legitimate group applying modern technology to evangelism.

I recall Bible tracts in the subway stations and the bathrooms of public places, but you could walk right by or pick up the tract and read the words.

Goggle ads, like unwanted guests, appear even if we don't like the product. Politicians buy air time and often spend time throwing darts at opponents.

We are a society being bombarded with advertisements to purchase an item or follow a new regimen to improve health, flatten your tummy, or start all over.

So why does buying ad space for scripture feel different? It does. It seems like a intrusion into someone's space. Uninvited.

Yet, I do believe the listed verses. But there's something uncomfortable about the whole project.

Monday, December 22, 2014

What's Your Role?

Across this country, in large city churches, suburban churches, and small rural churches, people are preparing for the eventual pageant. Who will be an angel, who will be a shepherd, who will play a wise man, who will be Joseph and who will be Mary? Will the baby Jesus be a swaddled doll or a real child?

Some costumes remain from year to year, others must be replaced-- the shepherds staff broke, the wings of an angel bent out of shape, the leg of a sheep is lost.

And how many children hope that this year they can wear a halo?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Organizing the Disorganized

Now that all my contacts are in my phone I note that some people are listed two or three or even four times. Sometimes I used a first name, then a last name, then a nickname-- occasionally one listing has the phone number, while another has an email address.

I am inconsistent. Perhaps I 'm afraid that the last name won't ring a bell or I really like the person so keep listing them. Possibly I forget that the individual already occupies a spot.

Disorganization isn't an alien concept. I start off with an excellent system, but it falls apart. Whenever I begin a new project I purchase a new notebook. Something about the pristine clean pages encourages me to think that everything is under control.

And the selection of a notebook is quite important. The paper must take fountain pen ink without bleeding through to the other side, the lines can't be too dark, and the paper must have a smooth surface.

My most recent notebook has numbered pages, a line for subject, and a table of contents. It may become my go to notebook.

As for contacts...

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.