Wednesday, October 31, 2018

On Your Mark...Get Set—Go

I’ve bitten the bullet — once again. November means novel writing month. Sign up and commit to writing a novel of 50,000 words during the month. Yes, most of these novels are simply a stream of words, but some —after much editing— become good books. This year over 400,000 people from all over the world will have their fingers poised to go. In addition 95,000 young people will write a bit more abbreviated novels.

I completed a novel in 2012 and framed my completion certificate and buried the novel. Four years later I tried again and ran out of steam. This time I have a motive. For years a story simmers beneath the surface and never moves beyond wishful thinking. I don’t really care if I reach the grand total of 50,000, but I do want to move beyond a daydream. 

I also daydream about putting together a mss of my poems— but that’s a matter of editing and culling poems from those already written. Perhaps this winter.

But the novel is different. It’s a story without a framework. So on the last day of sign up I signed up— figured out how to upload my word count and tomorrow I’ll jump in and write. No editing. And if I stop before reaching the magic number ....
If I begin the story and ferret out where I want to go...
If I give my characters free choice...

Perhaps the story that I want to tell will be written— or begun.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Words of Faith and Hope

Yesterday and today I have read and re-read a number of pieces regarding the shooting at The Tree of Life Synagogue. I listened to a service at a Gay and Lesbian Congregation in New York City. I cried when short paragraphs were read giving dimension to each of the eleven. 

A little while ago I read a long piece written by a rabbi who blogs as SRQ Jew She spoke about three separate occurrences that give her hope. She was in her car when her phone rang and it was a well known Christian minister, Pastor Glenn Bell, asking her what he could do. He broke the news to her.

The Greek Orthodox Church near her home flew the flag at half mast.

And the night of a vigil she received a call from a woman who spoke English with a marked accent. The woman wanted to know if she could bring her three young children to the vigil. She identified herself as a Muslim woman.

By the end of the vigil the Rabbi and the woman connected with a hug.

Rabbi Jennifer Singer ends her blog piece:

 “ Broken places can be healed, and the Tree of Life has deep roots. If we are willing to do the hard work, our words and actions can water those roots, can help the tree flourish once again. On behalf of those whose lives were cut short and with God’s help, we must.”

Monday, October 29, 2018

This is Not Where I Want to Live

If you’re black take care
If you’re a Jew watch out
It’s not safe out there
It’s not safe in the grocery store
Take care where you pray
And if you’re queer 
they want to erase who you are
If you’re a refugee the gate is closed
It’s not safe if you wear a Hijab
or your name sounds as if you are Muslim 
These are hard times 
This is not the time for silence
This is the time to say no more

Sunday, October 28, 2018

“Tell Me What is New”

I meant to tell you  I spread
red pepper all around the hole
a mole dug.  Burrowing
 animals can’t stand the smell.
The lavender bushes, unruly
and wild looking, still bloom.
I forgot to mention drawing
with charcoal and fixing 
drawings with skim milk. Now I
wonder if insects will arrive to chew
up my sketches. Did I mention
that we cleaned a plugged sink
and cancelled the plumber’s visit?
Perhaps I missed the chance to tell
you of what I’m reading. At this moment
I am reading a mystery, a noir tale.
Then there’s this week’s parshah portion
and the commentaries I read—
 each one told with the writer’s slant.
I, too, hold a view of Abraham
and the binding of his son. 
And I forgot to tell you of my new 
thermos keeping tea hot for six hours.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Instead of Shabbat Shalom

              eleven killed in synagogue massacre 

what did he think
when he picked up his gun
did he look at any person
and wonder about the people 
they loved, the people who loved them
did he understand the loss
the hole in the world
or did he wear blinders
and only hear his own rhetoric
did he hear the prayers
praising God 

Friday, October 26, 2018

A Koan?

Change alters time
Into the past
While the present
rushes into the future
and misses the moment

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Finding Your Groove

Many years ago, decades ago, I won a gold key in the Scholastic Art Contest. My entry—a charcoal still life drawing done in a class at the Art Student’s League. Today I once again picked up charcoal in an art class.

Charcoal can be a messy medium. This time I, along with several others, wore rubber gloves. Rather than start with a still life we spent an hour playing with the charcoal and erasers. Instead of feeling confined by shapes I allowed my hand and arm to explore line, shade, value.

This permission to explore, encouragement to discover rather than confinement to a subject,  was exhilarating. So when for the second hour we selected a white bone—mine was the head of a goat— and began a contour drawing I felt a looseness earned during the previous hour.

It’s the same with writing a long piece or even a short poem. You may write and write pages before you really discover what it is you want to say.

It’s about getting into the right space.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

To be Aware

you feel the hairline crack
in a  fractured bowl
repaired with glue

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Watching Game 1 of the World Series

Being a fan is heart stopping—worrisome and leads to long nights and short sleeps. Our starting pitcher has thrown too many pitches, relievers are called upon, two men on and no one out— time to panic. Breathe. This is the first game and it is a long series. Why am I worried? 

One out. Perhaps I should concentrate on the state of our union and the possibility of more blue in Congress. Maybe there will be a chance to stop our slide into a country led by a president and government  that lacks compassion, that accepts lies, that is cruel, that has given permission to a swath of society to indulge in hateful language as well as hateful acts. 

Game is tied. Two outs. Three outs. Breathe— in, out,in, out...

Winning isn’t everything. But it is nice to win honestly— today our country has pockets where citizens are losing their right to vote. Racial politics is another character in our political environment— and it is ugly.

We’re ahead by two runs— but a long way to go.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Unfinished Still Life

 I ate the pear 
that I set on a white plate

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Post Time

Tomorrow brings only itself
unspooling time in fragments,
strata by strata only to be read
and deciphered in time not here

Saturday, October 20, 2018

On Change

Is it too early to encounter
autumn leaves caught between 
slender blades of grass 
Perhaps  I find it hard
to loosen my grip on summer,
the assurance of warmth
and long days before the dark
Letting go of what has been
is hard work, releasing what was
and living in a new present
takes patience 
and faith that the day 
will still have light

Friday, October 19, 2018

Why and When


Why does the electric company tell me I used 6.7 % more electricity this month than last year for the same period? I actually used less—their rate went up.

And why did the window jump it’s track and we couldn’t  get it back correctly? It took a friend to fix the window. Of course the friend works as a HandyWoman, but my mechanical skills are sub-par.

And why did three books I requested all come at the same time?
Why has the weather turned when I still want to play golf?

Why has our country become so divided?
Why is the topic of abortion driving our politics?
Why has civility disappeared?

I am liberal and progressive. When can we sit down and talk about differences without demonizing each other? Until we return to listening without a rebuttal the moment the speaker takes a breath—there’s little hope

                  “There's a lot of difference between listening and hearing.” 
                            G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, October 18, 2018

One More Game

I find myself talking to the television when a player takes aim at a ball too high or too low. I cross my fingers when the pitcher on my team throws too many balls. I worry with men on base. This is serious. I want to will them to win.

Odd isn’t it how we commit to our team, wear their colors, and feel as if we are right there on the field. I may be seated in the northeast, but my heart is right there with the Red Sox. One more win and they win their way into the World Series.

Yes, we won. On to the World Series.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Cramped Quarters

roots strain 
against red clay 
crack the pot
and stretch

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


I spent an hour looking through my books. What can go and what can stay? With a smaller house and fewer bookcases each book must carry its weight. Almost all fiction books are gone or are on my kindle. Gone are the days when my shelves held a number of mystery series and history books and both literary and popular fiction.

Today I noticed that books were beginning to find resting places on top of other books with barely any room for new books. Time to slim down. My collection today— shelves of poetry books, writing books, and religious books. Of course there’s my Complete Flannery O’Connor short stories, her letters, and her book of prose. She’ll always have shelf space.

My poetry collection grows larger. My most recent book ( a present) The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy. A delightful collection of  “.. from Basho to Zagajewski.”

 The editor, John Brehm, says one of his goals  “ has been to show how beautifully the Dharma manifests even in poems by poets who were not practicing Buddhists or knew little or nothing about Buddhism.”

Then I came upon Journeys of Simplicity edited by Philip Harnden. It’s a slim book and was pushed out of view. I found an old photo tucked inside. My how young I looked.

“Traveling light—imagine this meaning: , unencumbered journeying, a graceful way of traveling.  through life like a single leaf...What would it mean to make one’s life ...a journey unencumbered, uncluttered, without distraction—a journey of focus and intention?”

Each piece in this anthology is spare— lists of journeys of simplicity. “Where do our journeys take us? What do we leave behind? What do we carry with us? How do we find our way?”

Harnden writes, “We take delight in things; we take delight in being loosed from things. Between these two delights, we must dance our lives.”

I took delight in taking twelve books to the library and great delight in finding myself rediscovering a few books. 

 And for the time when I truly run out of shelf space  I checked on Google to see if anyone had done a quasi-scientific study of vertical stacking vs horizontal stacking. It appears that horizontal sticking for paperbacks will allow you to add fifteen to twenty more books to your shelf. Of course there are some disadvantages — difficulty taking a book out of a tightly stacked column. 

Monday, October 15, 2018

A Fair Exchange

my neighbor’s trees
share leaves 
in the autumn
and shade in the summer

Sunday, October 14, 2018

That Special Day That Comes Once a Year

At first I wasn’t sure of how to structure the day? Did I want to wander through a museum? Was there an art movie I desired to see? Then I read about a Plein Air day at a sculpture park. A friend told me of her town’s Open Studio Day — local studios open all around town. It all depended on the weather.

And the weather was dry, crisp, and even sunny at times. We set out for Walden Pond and a walk around the pond. In spots the path, narrowed by recent rains and slanted toward the water, required great dexterity to avoid wet sneakers. Swimmers in wet suits, swimmers without wet suits, walkers, people sitting on rocks reading, some fishing, children collecting treasures — all enjoying the pond. I loved how we walked at a good pace— still able to pass some walkers ( probably because they were strolling).

A quick lunch at a favorite farm market and then to DeCordova Sculpture Park to see plein air artists select their spots, paint, and then wait for the judges to select winners in different categories.

Before the Open Studio artists closed their doors we managed to see two studios— engage the artists in conversation and avoid nibbling on snacks.

We brought Thai dinner in and watched both the Patriots vs Kansas City and the Red Sox against Houston. Winning both games would cap off the day. So far the Sox won.

And just now the Patriots won. Perfect day spent with someone I love.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

It’ s Always this Way

You choose
Where to go
What to do
Where to eat
you get to make once a year
I remember the year I turned eleven
my father  wheeled a red bike
into the foyer, or  was it the dining room
In a three room apartment
rooms take on many names
I named the bike Tinker Bell
and  believed she could fly
She was my Magic Carpet

Friday, October 12, 2018

After Reading About Noah

Noah why did you remain silent
Why didn’t you ask God to save
the man who knew how to bind
wounds and heal the ill
or the woman who baked bread
and gave it away 
No arguments
No questioning
No acting for others 
You never said a word
You toiled for years 
followed the blueprint, 
accepted your righteousness,  
a mantle thrown over a shoulder
Did God wait for you to ask
about the other good people
Later on others would argue

Thursday, October 11, 2018


It’s over. The permanent crown is in— cemented down, mine. For the two weeks prior to today I did not chew on that side of my mouth lest the temporary crown become dislodged. I could swallow it or catch it on my tongue or have it lodged between my cheek and tongue. Since this crown was on the top and the last tooth I thought it best to eschew any chances.

So for two weeks I not only avoided the area, but I also stayed away from anything chewy or hard. The instructions warned that leaving the temporary out of your mouth could lead to your teeth shifting. 

Place it, back in your mouth— it can be adhered with Vaseline —until you contact the dentist. I visualized holding this tooth and attempting to fit it in— “It only fits one way.” —to quote the dentist. If I stood up straight there was the possibility of loosing my grip and the tooth slipping. And if I bent over the sink I might have some difficulty finding the exact position for the tooth. 

And then there was the concern of Vaseline— don’t swallow and how much was needed. Of course a preemptive action— the purchase of false teeth adhesive was a possibility which I rejected. 

So I returned to the dentist, stared at the poster of the canyons in the southwest which  replaced a Disney poster when her daughter entered a PhD program in geology. I envisioned myself hiding within the canyon.

Then it was done. I can chew on that side of my mouth again. But I think I’ll give the permanent glue another day to set. Best to be certain.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Character Fault

I admit to a character fault — an easy one to acknowledge and possibly shared by a plethora of other people. When I check out a new art blog, or someone sends me an email with a link to their site, I may be smitten with that article And immediately subscribe. I become a follower.

As a follower I begin to receive email messages—sometimes daily messages. My initial delight wanes and I find myself deleting and deleting. Finally, I open up the email, click to get on the blog, scroll down to the bottom of all the written material, and unsubscribe. Sometimes that doesn’t work necessitating a return to the blog.

When the screen appears asking me why I am unsubscribing I always chose — I don’t want to receive these messages.

As I look at the long list of emails I recognize a pattern. When I thought that I’d cook a new recipe every week I began to collect cooking blogs. Today I read about twelve easy dips, seven salmon recipes, and recipes for a football crowd. The only dips I like are made by others, I did have salmon tonight cooked my usual way, and we like to watch football on mute—until the playoffs.

I keep a list of books gleaned from blogs or the book reviews that arrive each week. My present list will allow me to read a book a day through next year. 

On the positive side— I don’t play games on my phone.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

4-3. A Red Sox Win

I watched 
I kept my fingers crossed
When the Yankee crowd
ratcheted up their noise
and fans banged on the
stadium walls I ignored the din
When in the bottom of the ninth
it all seemed to fall apart
and they had a chance to tie or win 
I began to pray although I know
that God doesn’t take sides 
It wasn’t over until the last out
I undid my fingers, took a sip of wine
and thought we live another day

Monday, October 08, 2018

Take a Break

Surrounded by political grandiosity, by falsehoods and Machiavellian machinations , by pundits who predict political trends, by possible future legislative configurations —I  take a walk, buy two new tubes of watercolor paint, read a mystery, and fill my pen with waterproof carbon black ink.

 I took a walk in my neighborhood—past people walking dogs, past pumpkins on stoops, past signs reminding  neighbors to vote against repealing our transgender equality legislation, past signs that remind us that there’s no room for hate in our community. I love the diversity in this town.

Tomorrow I shall paint a still life of two pears—one whole and one halved. Hopefully, I’ll finish my mystery and figure out “who done it” before the last page. 

Then I’ll be ready to read  the paper, listen to the rhetoric. I’ll be ready to join the fray.

Sunday, October 07, 2018


Light a candle
let it illuminate
corners, edges—
blur shadows
until no sharp
details remain

Saturday, October 06, 2018

What If ?

If only the tides 
turned away
and the signatures
of pipers left imprints
of a dance—pirouetting—
bobbing with delight
along the shoreline
Would it make a difference
to walkers?

Friday, October 05, 2018

A Frightening Slide

I am, as are so many others, beyond disturbed. Totalitarian governments ignore truth, refuse to examine all the evidence, tear into anyone who disagrees, mock other opinions, and engage in sleight of hand to garner approval. They stir the embers of hate, grant permission for people to engage in offensive rhetoric and actions. 

Everyday the press is attacked. A free press is essential for a democracy. In totalitarian countries there is no free press. News is controlled, sifted , and  written to further the blueprint of the leader.

The demise of democracy doesn’t happen in a vacuum. People initially acquiesce. They become sheep. Angry sheep complicit in the downward trend. 

In our country we have swaths of people who willingly gave up any shred of decency and fair mindedness, who refused to accept that there are any other views save theirs, and they are willing to accept this slide in order to see their views enshrined. 

Today a candidate for our Supreme Court, a man who lied, who was accused of sexual assault, garnered enough initial votes to become the next justice.

 A limited FBI  investigation that ignored a number of people who had important information, that ignored over 1,000 law professors who said his temperament and bias precludes him as a justice, that ignored a retired justice who wrote a critique arguing that the candidate’s bias precludes him as an acceptable justice — 

And why? Because they know he will push their agenda. A sham. A slide. 

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Thursday, October 04, 2018

Political Landscape

too many ignore the rumblings
while he incites the mobs
trades in lies, writes a new manifesto
too many chose his words
the words of a tyrant
who will rewrite their common book

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Let’s All Break Bread

Just a follow-up to yesterday’s concern about a disappearing sign. The sign returns to the church front on Friday. Then the leadership group will write guidelines for signs...banners, flags.  I’m pleased with the return.

But I am saddened to realize that this even became an issue that needed resolving.  Perhaps I need to just rest knowing that a group of people recognized that taking a stand for equality is the only moral choice.
I must admit to an edge. Why is it that every group that is outside of what is deemed the “normal”—prevalent group must wait to be included?  Permission. Gay and lesbian people needed to wait outside the door until they were granted permission to marry. 

But I am pleased that the place of worship, this church in an affluent town, has weighed the pros and cons and decided to return a simple sign of support to their front lawn. 
Someday I hope and pray that no one will need to be given permission to sit at the table.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

A Sign Supporting a “Yes” Vote

First the sign announced support
Then the sign disappeared
What happened in between—
         “ A Yes” vote on Question 3 supports 
           upholding a law that prohibits 
           discrimination based on gender
           identity in public places. The law 
           requires access to areas segregated 
           based on gender —such as bathrooms 
           and locker rooms—to be allowed 
           according to an individual’s self-identified 
           gender identity.”
First the sign announced support
Then the sign disappeared
What happened in between—
Stories often take their place 
where one word ends 
and another begins 
Did a few parishioners think 
the sign too political 
or did a few believe that 
Transgendered rights 
were a subject best avoided
Did someone ask if the boundaries 
had been stretched too far
The minister called for church leaders 
to discuss what to do about the sign
Perhaps we need another sign 
Walk in someone else’s shoes
The sign is down 
and straight white leaders 
will write the story