Monday, October 31, 2016


We've handed out ninety pieces of candy to Darth Vaders, Princesss, one marshmallow, pirates, assorted television characters, and skeletons. Years ago many boys were hobos—that's no longer in vogue. I guess everyone wants to be upward mobile and the romanticism of a hobo traveling on a boxcar, cooking on an open pit, sleeping under the stars, and singing folk songs is of a different era.

It belongs to the era of avocado refrigerators, orange and green couches,T.V. Dinners, and unions fighting for higher wages.

This year I didn't see one ballerina. The marshmallow wanted me to guess what he was and my only thought was a paper towel roll which I didn't say because I knew that wasn't the right answer.

Everyone said thank you and parents beamed and another rite of passage was performed.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

All Set

I've decided—at least for now—on projects for the depth of winter when the light disappears way too early and the cold tries to sneak under doors and around windows. I'll edit, rewrite, hone my parsha poems and assemble them into a chapbook. And if I'm at all pleased with the result then the mss will be posted to the mailboxes of small press publishers.

Then I'll assemble the poems I've written over the past five years—a triage—keep, maybe, and dreadful.

As for art— I've signed on to a Bible Art Journaling online course. The instructor lives in England—thus far people from Canada, England,Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, several islands in the Pacific, and ,of course, the states have joined. At this point the states south of the Mason Dixon line seem to dominate—with Texas being a serious contender for the top prize. There are two hundred people signed up—mostly females. Molly the fishmonger does identify as someone living in a small coastal town in Maine. Another woman comes from Connecticut. Thus far I am carrying the banner for the brave state of Massachusetts.

I started my read through the Bible in one year with a NKJV Bible on Kindle. Each day you read a portion of Genesis and continue on and on, Matthew and on and on, part of a psalm, and some proverbs.

Someone I know suggested reading a Chronological Bible. I've never read a Chronological Bible and can't imagine that it would feel comfortable, but I expect you can adjust to anything.

Then, of course, I anticipate finding another art course—either in real time or online.

As for books—no challenges this year—just muddle along with the shelf full of "never quite got to this book" and the ones that strike my fancy. Right now I'm reading The Source by James Michener—close to 1000 pages —and since my used copy of The Sparrow arrived on Friday--I am anxious to begin reading that novel. Then, of course, there's poetry and essays.

By the time spring comes I'll either have been quite productive or someone who grew tired of too much productivity and preferred reclining and assuming the title of drop-out. Either way I'm set.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

What Shall it Be

Winter means snow shovels, heavy gloves, boots, flannel shirts, and a collection of winter activities besides the usual snow sports. This is the time of year I delve into a reading plan. One year I read twenty-six books alphabetically by the author's last name. Another year I joined a reading challenge that sent me on odd hunts for arcane books. I've read books from twenty different countries for another challenge. One winter I succumbed to Nordic mysteries during the coldest part of winter.

I usually do some sort of online art class-- text and watercolor, a romp through the alphabet drawing animals for each letter as well as investigating the artist's whose last name begins with the letter of the week, and one winter I spent hours creating mixed media collages.

So as November nears I've eliminated the 50,000 word novel for the month-- done that, own a certificate. This is the time to make a careful determination of what I'll determine is just right for the winter.

Friday, October 28, 2016


My step counter
stopped counting,
worn out, exhausted
from spending days
hooked onto my pants
counting every step I took--
silent, never shirking its task
to witness 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Rainy Day

libraries invite the curious, those doing research on arcane topics, those who stand in front of the new books and wonder if they have the stamina to finish that behemoth of a book in two weeks, and those who find solace and companionship in the library-- and those who browse and then leave with a tote bag filled with books

libraries make room for those who find solace and small conversations in the midst of a day

today i was upstairs in our local library reading and taking notes   my car was unavailable until much later so i settled into a soft comfortable chair    four brown chairs faced a round table covered with sections of the times, the globe, and the local newspaper

a woman sat opposite me and read magazines, or rather flipped through them    a man sat down to my right , " nice day to read inside" -- he skimmed the local paper and remarked, " fine football team we got   kids have heart and they might win it all"    a man sat down and picked up the boston globe, looked my way, and said "it's really raining."

the research librarian set up an intricate 750 piece puzzle on a large table   two women hung over the puzzle     one created a frame while the other fashioned  finished sections    neither spoke nor looked at one another

i sat reading and watching the two women      parallel, enclosed in a self constructed space

one woman stood up and collected her bag and book and left

later i spotted the woman who created the puzzle frame    she sat in a straight back chair surrounded by shelves of dvds   a book stayed open on the table    she stared straight ahead     the words on the page didn't hold her attention

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Lunch After A Book Discussion

praise the same fish dish I order
every last Wednesday of the month,
praise the sides and ice water, the waitress
who handles orders for a table of eight,
praise the way we flaunt our feminism
and then hover over the bill and attempt
to figure out what we ate and what we owe,
praise the words we share

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Who to root for? Cleveland Indians or Chicago Cubs? One club hasn't won a World Series in over one hundred years. One club hasn't won since 1948. The Chicago Cubs  payroll for 2016 is $167,444,167 or the 6th highest in baseball  while the Cleveland Indians are in twenty-third place with a payroll of $98,006,899.

I love the underdog. I think I'll have to root for the Cleveland Indians.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Parsha V'Zot HaBerachah

       The Lord said to him,
       This is the land of which I swore
       to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob,
       saying,'I will give it to your descendants;
        I have let you see it with your eyes,
        but you shall not cross over there.'
                  Deuteronomy 34:5

Imagine traveling for years
never staying in one place
long enough to stake a claim,
to plant a field and watch a
crop come up year after year
Imagine the dry emptiness
of always being on the move
of moving on a promise
of a land to call your own
of listening to complaints
because this pulling up and moving
wears on a people
Imagine urging them on,
carrying their tears, their laments
and then you will only look
at the land, but not cross over
only their children will move
to this land-- this promised place
Just imagine

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Negative Capability

You're not sure,
perhaps confused
about why
you can't take a side,
or reside in that
place of certainty
where you can defend and state
how you feel.
But to live
in that place of uncertainty,
not pushing to move beyond
to a statement,
an opinion,
a stance.
To reside
in uncertainty
without an itch
to move
is to loosen
whatever binds.

Saturday, October 22, 2016


Today is National Nut Day and National Color Day. Preceded by National Pumpkin-Cheese Day and National Reptile Awareness Day. Tomorrow we will celebrate National Boston Cream-Pie Day and National Mole Day.

'Tis heady to contemplate so many celebrations. Nota bene.

I will celebrate with two pecans from a small stash in the refrigerator. Then I'll wield a paintbrush dipped in fuchsia across my wet watercolor paper and watch the paint spread.

I will celebrate the previous day's holidays by sacrificing the pumpkin on my steps to my culinary wizardry. I 'd like to say that I'd cozy up to a reptile, but my familiarity will remain on a bookish level. It will be a scholarly observance.

As for tomorrow--I will attempt to write a history of the regal Boston Cream Pie. I shall ignore the mole.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Lord Listen to Me

Lord it's not fair
the way the road twists
about for some folks,
too many dips and muddy
crossings, too many places
the silence blots out the talking
Lord I've been reading history
and some places just fall from one
set of tears to another place of weeping
Maybe you could even it out, smooth
it up a bit, get folks to sit down
even if it's only for a time to rest
before they get up again

Thursday, October 20, 2016

It's How You See

Some days
just metaphors
for the way life moves
Sun in the morning
turns autumn leaves
into a disco light show
then clouds mute
the trees and winds
loosen what's not attached
real strong

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Parsha Haazinu

It's ours--
this land, the mountains,
the oceans-- even the small streams
and bare slopes, those who inhabit
the land and those who live in the waters
All this-- given to us

What faith,
even with our failings
and our cloudy vision

Someday the puzzle pieces will fit

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Now I Buy Candy

i grew up in a four story building
where people locked doors
with double latches
and no one rang the doorbell
asking for treats
some boys filled socks
with chalk dust
and swung the socks
leaving chalk marks
on anyone who didn't
run fast enough
one year my mother
scrubbed away
two perfect hits
on my blue pea coat

I never flinched
when hit

Monday, October 17, 2016

Too Much

As the days get closer to the election I find myself wondering if we are caught in the middle of a reality show, a made for day time television soap opera, a middle school student's homework assignment, an R rated video game, or a bad dream.

I keep thinking that a large blackboard eraser, or a delete button, or a sopping wet paper towel, or even a gum eraser might wipe away the vivid picture projecting across the air waves.

Then a cold wind returns me to the present and I confront the reality that is our presidential election. So many untruths fly around sticking to those who collect them like glue on stars, or stickers to put in scrapbooks. I see tee shirts with graffiti stitched across chests that include all the words that once earned a reprimand or a lecture about civility or a time out in your room.

Newspapers use psychiatric terms. Talk show hosts speak to the gurus-- psychologists-- to explain the cluster of behaviors.

These are frightening days. Just reflect on history.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Feast of the Tabernacle

I've never built a sukkah
with a roof of branches
bought an etrog
or slept and ate in 
a three sided hut
or imagined myself
wandering in the wilderness
but I can imagine 
sleeping with the stars
and offering praise

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Reflections on a Memorial Service

We gather to celebrate
a life, we listen to music,
hear stories meant to draw
a portrait, read a poem,
We gather downstairs
and talk to people we
don’t know or people
we only see at occasions
For a moment we think
think this is all a mistake,
a dress rehearsal
We dunk a carrot stick in dip,
look at a tuna sandwich
and decide the mayo
sat too long to be safe,
eat cheese and crackers,
and select a sweet, then
another, decide against soda
We stand on line to hug
the one left, the one who
will go home tonight
with only a church bulletin,
the one who will wander
about the house wondering
if the house will ever feel full

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Litany of a Celebration

a warm day
bluest sky
crisp air
autumn colors
pancakes drenched in maple syrup
 at Gould's Sugar House
and a twenty-five cent
soft maple ice cream cone for dessert
Photo shoot at ancient glacier pot holes
where the world's largest pothole, thirty-nine
feet in diameter, exists with a six inch version
Walking across the Bridge of Flowers
where flowers preen for photographers
and erase the memory of trolley cars
carrying lumber or apples and pears
across the Deerfield River
Driving home past a river drawn
into herself with stepping rocks
for those who want to explore
for anyone willing to follow

Wrapped presents
stacked like a cairn
wait for me
and a card
telling of a forever love


Thursday, October 13, 2016

just thinking

-My mother told me to never cross a picket line, buy items that had the label ILGWU-- The International Ladies Garment Workers. Unions were important. My grandfather was a Teamster  and called himself a socialist. I worry when I read or hear people denigrate unions. And when I was a teenager I knew the words to union folk songs.

"You want higher wages you know what you got to do..."
We need more protest songs-- songs that demand a living wage. We need candidates who speak about that issue.

I still won't cross a picket line.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Election 2016

I saw a man at a Rally wearing a tee shirt that demeaned women in a rather vulgar way.
I listened to a group of supporters demand that a candidate be locked up.
I heard a preacher say that women should never lead men, " It's biblical".
I heard that there is a hashtag that demands a repeal of the 19th amendment.
I listened to a woman who dismissed a candidate bragging about his way with women.
Not assault she said, just banter.
I watched one candidate stalk another candidate during a Town Meeting.
I tried to explain to someone from another country that this candidate is an aberration,
not an example of who we are.
But I didn't convince her-- " Not everyone," she said, " but a lot of people."

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Parsha Vayelech

 We know what to do,
have instructions,
even a how- to book
of what’s fine
and what to avoid
but it’s so easy to
 follow another path, to
build  idols out of
paper mache
paint and baubles,
gimcracks of no value

Monday, October 10, 2016

Walking Early on a Monday Morning

A riff after hearing Holly Near sing a song usually sung by Cheryl Wheeler—subject is different, but the form is similar 

What is there about walking around Walden Pond—silently

Could be the way the water moves across the pond
Maybe it's the swimmers on a cold autumn day
Could be the cairns built on the edge of the pond
Maybe it's the red foliage 
Could  be the reflections in the water
Maybe it's the half submerged branch
Could be the sand beach
or the children with pails at the water's edge
or the fisherman with three poles simply waiting
Maybe it's the two ducks at one end of the pond
or the sound of the wind weaving a path through leaves
or a bird sound you can't identify
Maybe it's the sound of your sneakers
 on the hard packed sand
Could be the way you relax into the day
and wear the goodness like a shawl

Sunday, October 09, 2016

One For the Bucket List

I've decided. When I found the certificate authenticating the completion of the November challenge to complete a 50,000 novel in thirty days, I thought-- done it, completed an item on my non-existent bucket list.

 That's a relief! A decision. Now. I've wanted to put together my parsha poems, do some significant editing, and see if it can be published. I'll drop that into my non-existent bucket list and even create a certificate for the, almost, completion of fifty-four parashiyot. That's one poem for each Torah portion-- a full cycle of one Jewish year.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Waiting for the Return

How did this happen? I deleted one extra copy of the October 8th blog entry and both copies disappeared. Just vaporized. No matter what I do October 7th is followed by October 9th. It's as if I eradicated a day, my words dropped out of sight, not even residing in a trash bin, just gone. Perhaps what I wrote needed to be gone. Perhaps it is residing somewhere and will reappear as another date, perhaps it was uncomfortable with the words of the 7th and the 8th.

I will place this in its stead until, and if, it returns.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Walden Pond

I walked this loop before,
noted tree limbs  strung
across the path and rock totems
built for unknown gods
 I inhaled draughts of air
until drunk with sun sparkling
against a leafy green backdrop
I stepped with care on this sacred ground

Thursday, October 06, 2016

The Visit

You mean you’ve visited thirty-one
big league ballparks, you really drove
ten hours to Kansas City and the game
was called because of rain, you really
saw a grizzly standing tall on the trail,
You think that you’ll drive to Alaska
In your outfitted Dodge pick-up
So who do you think will win this November?

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Parsha Nitzavim

            …the word is very near to you;
                it is in your mouth and in your
                heart for you to observe.
                          Deuteronomy 30: 14

It isn’t hidden, neither do we need
to look in tomes or appeal to a crystal gazer
The Word, burned into our hearts,needs
us to mirror in our lives the Way of life

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Unsent Letter

I’m always unprepared when
someone I know has passed away
which always seems less final
then died, but no matter how
it’s phrased a light is extinguished
and memories are left
I remember how you parsed the meaning
from books we read in the book club,
or the time you rented a carriage
in Acadia for your dog, or
the evening we all went out for
Thai food and laughed through the meal,
or bumping into you at Bedford Farms
Ice Cream and agreeing we were
obsessed with their frozen yogurt and ice cream

Rest In Peace Mary Ellen

Monday, October 03, 2016


November is National Novel Writing Month. The goal-- complete a 50,000 word novel in one month.

Today I read  this interesting piece in  A Reader's Book of Days by Tom Nissley :
        " Those planning to celebrate NaNoWrMo in November take heart --or heed--from Dostoyevsky's bold wager in October 1866, made to pay off his gambling debts, that if he couldn't write a novel in a month he would lose the rights to his next nine year's of work. He wrote The Gambler in 1867." And won the bet.

In 2010 I took the plunge and completed the task. That year I did not do any pre-planning, joined at the last moment and wrote feverishly every night in November. The novel, was disjointed, clumsy, and dreadful.

This year, if I decide to take the plunge, I'll do some planning in October. Last year 120,000 people participated and 23,000 completed the marathon. Salon notes that most of the novels are "crap". No one revises. Why not just write a list of words. All this is true. And what do you get for this dubious accomplishment? A certificate you print out on your computer.

So why bother? Why not spend the time writing, editing, revising, revising, revising.

All good questions, but there's something engaging about marathons. I haven't made up my mind. I've done it once so why do it again. All good questions.

Before beginning one needs to acknowledge that the result will be less than stellar, that the tome belongs in a bottom drawer, and that the story doesn't hold together. So why do it? Perhaps it's for the paper certificate.

Ah... decisions, decisions, decisions. And I do have one certificate, but still....

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Time Traveling

Once upon a time,
isn’t that the way stories begin
just dropping you into the middle
forgetting that you want to start
way back, back to when stepping on cracks
meant bad luck, and night lights kept the ghosts
away, and the librarian knew you loved
books that took you to lands no
cartographer ever mapped
Once upon a time lives
on a time line that
ends with a period.

Saturday, October 01, 2016


examine yourself to unearth
if you relegated another
to the outer edges, if you
dismissed someone's opinion
and rejected their words as
common, if  you didn't extend
an invitation and  said you forgot

Examine yourself and ask
if you distorted a story to create interest,
if you owe anyone an apology,
if you need to say I'm sorry

I want to empty my pockets
of the detritus