Monday, June 30, 2008

Be Ye Glad

I hesitate to print out song lyrics because usually you love a song for the music, melody and lyrics. This song is one of my all-time favorites for all of those reasons. Back in the eighties most of the music I listened to, and the concerts I attended were contemporary Christian artists. I was a youth counselor at my church and the kids were really into Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant and many others. I had the opportunity to meet many artists when they would play at colleges and churches in the area. One group I loved was called "Glad" and this was their signature song. I still think it's one of the most beautiful and meaningful songs I know. If you want to hear the song there is a video on You Tube (type in Be Ye Glad). It's kind of a lame video so just close your eyes and listen - or just read these lyrics by Michael Blanchard:
In these days of confused situations
in these nights of a restless remorse
when the heart and the soul of a nation
lay wounded and cold as a corpse.
From the grave of the innocent Adam
comes a song bringing joy to the sad
Oh, your cry has been heard and the ransom
has been paid up in full - be ye glad.
Oh be ye glad,
oh, be ye glad
every debt that you ever had
has been paid up in full
by the grace of the Lord
Be ye glad, be ye glad.
From your dungeon a rumor is stirring
and you have heard it again and again
ah, but this time the cell keys they're turning
and outside there are faces of friends.
And though your body lay weary from wasting
and your eyes show the sorrow they've had
The love that your heart is now tasting
has opened the gates, be ye glad.
So be like lights on the rim of the water
giving hope in a storm sea of night
Be a refuge amid the slaughter
of these fugitives in their flight.
For you are timeless and part of a puzzle
you are winsome and young as a lad
and there is no disease or no struggle
that can pull you from God, be ye glad
Oh be ye glad
oh, be ye glad
Every debt that you ever had
has been paid up in full
by the grace of the Lord.
Be ye glad, be ye glad, be ye glad.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Growing Old Gracefully (cough, choke, gag)

Yes, ladies, it's time for a rant - t's all the perfect female bodies in commercials and ads (not to mention everywhere else). The latest one to piss me off is Evista (It's for menopausal bone loss). This ad shows a bunch of women wrapped in towels. A few of them truly look menopausal (the ones when the camera lens goes fuzzy), all very slim and attractive though. But most of them are young women POSING as mature women. What they do is take a youngish woman, maybe in her thirties, and put gray streaks through her hair to make you think (if you're stupid) she's in her fifties, but with a flawless body. No sags, no bags, no age spots, no wrinkles. How many dark-haired women do you know walking around with giant swaths of gray through their hair? After all, the next commercial is for hair color in which a young woman with 28 pounds of hair that is 42 inches long swings it around in the lights of a studio. Do you know anyone with hair like that? I don't. (It should be an ad for wigs). Or how about the mascara commercial where the lashes actually GROW right before your eyes? How stupid are we if we can't tell the difference between real and fake eyelashes? (False advertising!!!)Then there are the commercials where the mother is about four years older than the teenage children. Or how about Oprah? Somehow she loses 30-40 pounds before every photo shoot for the cover of her magazine and then manages to put it back on for TV. Amazing.
I'm disturbed by the media assumption that we can't tolerate anything less than gorgeous anymore. According to the media our eyes are no longer equipped to relate to mediocre, plain or average. Advertisers seem to be on a mission to crush every normal females's self-esteem - but WHY? They could be sending the old subliminal message that if you use their product you will somehow be more perfect, more beautiful. Maybe. If you've lived for awhile you know it hasn't always been like this. Watch TV Land and see imperfect actors and actresses from the past who entertained us whether they were drop-dead gorgeous or not. Growing up I don't recall any emphasis on what kids were wearing. It's a sad turn of events.
So why are "they" doing this to us. Money, of course. Think about all the products we are inundated with through television and print media - all the products that are completely unnecessary - until they convince us that we can be younger-looking, more lovely, stronger, healthier - oh yeah, just like those Evista ladies who need bone loss medication, but have bodies of 30-40 year olds. Even magazines geared for women over 40 (More) feature beautiful age-defying women in every magazine all in their air-brushed, computer-enhanced glory - saying "This is what 50 looks like!" Uh, no, it isn't.

Friday, June 27, 2008

She is Risen

She rises from her nightmare and lowers
her pink and blue face to the sink, scrubs,
rinses, banishes the dark night.
In the mirror she tries to see what others see.

She dresses in new clothes as surrender songs
sing in her head. She whispers secrets God already knows:
It is time to break roof, swing free of this rocking chair
and these mouse-colored walls.

She quietly closes the door behind her
and leaves the building like an untethered
helium balloon, unfocused on worn-out
adages and daily crucifixions.

She joins the parade, lifts her banner high,
flicks the gadfly off her broken shoulder,
dancing, twirling, the sun on her
scarified skin, she marches on.

At the end of the line she sits foursquare
in the mercy seat, arms up, hands out.
She is risen indeed, and like the three wise men
she will go home by another way.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Skywatch Friday - Way up high

Thirty-four thousand feet over Pennsylvania every space looks perfectly planned. Asymmetrical patches of green and gold, S-shaped rows or concentric circles, roads leading to the horizon, countless ponds and lakes. There are towns with perfect orange baseball diamonds, golf course sandtraps that look like tiny footprints. Swimming pools are aqua dots (I never knew there were so many!) Shiny roofs and sparkling car hoods twinkle in the sun. One town looks as if a giant cement mixer dumped its contents from the sky to smother the green with gray. Now, as I float along, I see a plane and a cloud - below me.
To see more Skywatch photos visit Tom at Wigger's World!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ohhh- Noooooooo

I can't help it - I love Mr. Bill. I also laugh at the Three Stooges, Lucy, and at people tripping and/or falling. I can't be alone with my slightly sadistic sense of humor though- right? I even laugh when I trip or fall. So Mr. Bill is in a new commercial for Mastercard. I hate to put a commercial on my precious blog but click on this if you haven't seen it. Ohhhh-Nooooooo!! Love it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Goodbye to the Hippie-Dippy Weatherman

George Carlin died this week. I think it would be nice to die knowing that you made a lot of people laugh in your lifetime. That's a good thing. Here are some Carlinisms to honor him:
On stuff: "That's all your house is, it's a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff. Now sometimes - sometimes you gotta move. You gotta get a bigger house. Why? Too much stuff. You gotta move all your stuff and maybe put some of your stuff in storage. Imagine that there's a whole industry based on keeping an eye on your stuff."

"How is it possible to have a civil war?"

"Why is a person who plays the piano called a pianist but a person who drives a race car is not called a racist?"

"Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?"

"'Older' sounds a little better than 'old' doesn't it? Sounds like it even might last a little longer... I'm getting old. And it's OK because thanks to our fear of death in this country I won't have to die. I'll 'pass away' or I'll 'expire' like a magazine subscription. If it happens in the hospital they'll call it a 'terminal episode'. The insurance company will refer to it as 'negative patient care out-come'. And if it's a result of malpractice, they'll say it was a 'therapeutic misadventure.'"

And from the Hippie-Dippy Weatherman -" tonight's forecast - dark."
And of course, his famous routine - The Seven Words You Can't Say on TV - but, well, ...I don't know any of those. :)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Project Runway

I am not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination. But my daughter has a degree in fashion design and worked for the iconic designer Betsey Johnson (if you're not familiar look her up on the web). I have learned to appreciate fashion and all the creativity and skill that it takes. So I started watching "Project Runway" a few years ago, and then my daughter and I could chat about it the next day. The show is definitely set up to entertain, with infighting and drama - but the talent of these designers blows me away. Each week they're given an imaginative challenge, maybe $100 and 12 hours or so to create something FABULOUS! While in NYC a couple weeks ago my daughter and I walked past a candy store window that displayed one of the Project Runway challenges from last season. They had to create dresses from candy wrappers! If you're interested a new season starts on Bravo in July. (The photo on the right has a dress made of the brown Reese's cup holders.)

Sunday, June 22, 2008


(This is not me - it's just a poem I wrote a long time ago. See June 18 post.)

Dusting pain off a silent surface,
sweeping boredom out of the door,
sleeping when she should be waking,
picking, picking crumbs up off the floor.

Fluffing his pillow to lie closer to hers,
setting, then resetting the table,
straightning piles of paperbacks to escape
the dreams that became a child's fable.

Doing a half a load of his laundry,
crying when the damn toast is burnt,
seeking shelter in her pretty bottle,
mopping a clean floor as it it weren't.

Dancing alone across the shiny wood,
falling, shattering a hopeless bone,
stitching and binding to make it all right,
wondering why she's dancing alone.

Sprucing up the agony of years
with a brand new yellow curtain,
calling him in her screaming silent voice
but no one can hear her, she's certain.

Brushing the dog, someone to talk to,
another phone call to say he'll be late,
dinner's on the table, teddy's on the rug,
she'll be sleeping alone or she'll wait.

Ashes of love sprinkled at her feet,
brush them off before anyone can see.
The house is perfect, the day is done,
maybe one day she'll set herself free.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Writing from Abundance

I once wrote a book and a whole lot of poems out of pain, heartache, and for the purpose of catharsis and healing. I have written a new novel with characters that have experiences that I have never had, but I love them and believe them to be realistic and honest. Then I started this blog - and writing took on a new meaning. At first I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Why is it so stimulating? Why, in the first few months, did it seem almost an obsession?
While in New York my daughter took me to a place she knew I'd love - a giant bookstore called Strand. It's motto is "18 miles of books". New, used and old books. Somewhere in the 18 miles I found the second volume of Anais Nin's diaries. I bought it, and today while reading I found the explanation why I write now - out of abundance. Here is what Anais says:
"The diary was once a disease. I do not take it up now for the same reasons. Before it was because I was lonely, or because I did not know how to communicate with others. I needed the communion. Now it is to write, not for solace, but for the pleasure of describing others, out of abundance."
Ironically, I named one of the characters in my new book - Anais (ahna-eese).
I reserve the right to still write out of solace occasionally.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

SKYWATCH FRIDAY - Over the Rainbow

There's nothing like a trip in an airplane to renew your wonder at the infinite sky. I secured a window seat both ways to view the other side of the universe. At sunset my mind played tricks on me as I kept seeing Earthly views - when in fact it was contained in the heavens. An eruption of clouds out of clouds that resembled mountains . A flat floor of dark clouds that looked like land. Blueness in the space below me replicated the sea.
For more Skywatch views visit Tom.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Writing a Novel

Okay, enough with NYC for a while. (Yes, I've got more stunning observations). I am now home and working on the final revisions of my second novel. I learned A LOT from writing the first one. It was definitely a beginner's effort. I believe this one is more well-written and hopefully more interesting. This book started almost two years ago while sitting on my deck one day in the summer. I had no intentions of putting myself through the torture of writing another novel - but it started writing itself. Three characters began talking through my pen and have continued to talk at me ever since then. So - no I don't know any of these people and no, it is not about my life - at all! I do not know where this book belongs - but I have to believe it's for a reason. I've had three other generous and talented writers support and critique it along the way. I've been rereading it the past few days to refresh my memory after a long break - and , well - I like it! A couple parts make me cry even though I obviously already know they're coming.
Getting a novel published these days is about as likely as winning the lottery - but it's something that some of us are driven to do - so I do pray that it has a place and purpose in this world. However, I don't have any real expectations - there is no daydreaming about being on Oprah this time.
Here's a quote I read recently by Nikki Giovanni:
" I resent people who say writers write from experience. Writers don't write from experience, though many are hesitant to admit that they don't. I want to be clear about this. If you wrote from experience you'd get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy."
I'll keep you posted on my progress. I'm sending out query letters already even though I'm still putting the finishing touches on it. I'm going directly to publishers and by-passing the agent route. Writing a good query is crucial. You have one page to capture someone's interest in your book and tell them about yourself as well. It's almost as tough as writing the book itself. So -wish me luck - say a prayer!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


A weird thing happened to me while in NYC. My daughter and I were at the Gershwin Theater waiting for Wicked to start. It is apparently quite an historic theater with memorabilia displayed and many, many photographs of all the actors that have performed there over the years. Across the second floor lobby I spotted something familiar - I said (out loud) - "There's Horrible Henry!" My daughter followed me, having no idea what I was talking about. There, in a glass case were four worn-out puppets. So what?

During my senior year in high school I had the starring role in the musical Carnival. I played a waif named Lili who wanders into a carnival and befriends the people there. A puppet show was central to the plot and there were four puppets - Horrible Henry, Renardo, Marguerite and Carrot Top. I loved working with the puppets so much that after the show closed my father asked the director if he could buy Horrible Henry for me. He couldn't because they were rented. The fact that he wanted to do that is special to me because people just didn't buy things much back then like they do now.

Anyway, here in the glass case were the original puppets. They had been owned by Jerry Orbach - who worked the puppets and did all the voices. You may know the late Orbach if you've ever seen "Law and Order" on TV. The only famous song from "Carnival" was Love Makes the World Go Round. The original Lili was Anna Maria Albergetti and it was later made into a movie called "Lili" with Leslie Caron.

It was kind of surreal to see those puppets after so many ( and I mean many) years, and strange that they, of all things, would be displayed. There wasn't that much memorabilia! Don't be too impressed though, because "Carnival" was the beginning and the end of my acting career. The photos show me and the puppets then -and now at the Gershwin Theater.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Cloisters

My trip to New York and spending three days with my daughter was well - priceless - in every way. It can be exhausting being in the city because you walk and walk and walk. But then the next day you get up and you can't wait to go back into the chaos again. The sensory overload is intoxicating to me. We went far uptown to The Cloisters. It is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art dedicated to medieval art and architecture. Built in a medieval style, it sits atop a hill overlooking the Hudson River. We were there on a perfect summer day. A cloister is in a monastery. It is a square or rectangular open-air courtyard surrounded by covered passageways and situated next to the monastic church. Its use is limited to the monks or nuns. Most of the art and architecture came French and Spanish monasteries. The architecture is actually built into the building, so you feel as if you are in the real thing. There are a number of chapels and cloisters. It was fascinating. We spent several hours there in the peaceful beauty and had an audio tour to guide us. Here are photos of the building itself and one of the cloisters. More highlights tomorrow!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


After the show last night I was speechless, but now I can think of a few words, well, maybe one - WOW. Also, stunning, incredible, visually spectacular. If you can ever go see it -do. Experiencing it with my daughter was wonderful. Wicked is the story of what happened before Dorothy got to Oz. It's about the relationship between Glinda, the good, and Elphaba (her name is derived from the initials of L. Frank Baum, author of Wizard of Oz.) It explains how Elphaba became wicked and it ties in many elements from the Wizard of Oz, all with a clever twist. I have a lot more to say, but just a little post. The play came from a book by Gregory MacGuire if you're into fantasy. I bought the tickets off of a sort of eBay for tickets and was nervous that they were legitimate - but they were and we had seats in row J in the orchestra section!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

New York, New York

I realize that everyone is not as enamored of New York as I am. I trace my adoration back to my teens when I read so many novels set in the New York of the 40's and 50's. I just fell in love with it through other people's eyes. It seemed exciting and romantic. My aunt and uncle lived about an hour north of the city near West Point, so at seventeen I got to experience NYC first-hand, right in the midst of my novel-reading frenzy. My cousin actually lived in Manhattan at the time in an apartment near Central Park with his French girfriend! And he was an artist! How much more romantic could it get for a 17 year-old!

The fascination continued through movies and television and numerous visits. And now I can visit my daughter there. (I hate that she lives so far away - but if it had to be anywhere . . . .)
Last summer I dragged my husband there (he was a good sport, but a beach is his idea of a vacation) because I think New York City is a place everyone should experience at least once in their life. My favorite thing on that trip was taking a ferry boat around Manhattan. It was a beautiful July day and I couldn't get enough of the sites of the Brooklyn Bridge. It's spectacular! I took more pictures of the bridge than anything else. I have a goal of walking across it on one of these trips.

So I'm off to a place I never tire of experiencing. We all have certain senses that dominate what stimulates us - I'm visual and auditory - that's why the excitement never ends for me in New York City. Spending time with my girl is always delicious.

I might be back to blog over the weekend, so check back - but if I don't I'll see you Monday!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Getting Ready to Go

My brain is a little too chaotic right now to think clearly about an intelligent post (why start now?) So here is a poem I wrote after a New York visit last year.

From a Sidewalk

Moving against consciousness
beckoned repeatedly into the crosswalks
of neon-lit, variegated turmoil
going both ways at once

the assault on the senses
diminishes with the days
into a rhythm of walking, smelling
stopping, hearing languages

bodies don't touch or bump
get rammed by a taxi
or knocked down by a bike-weaver
on their personal paths to a million destinations

from the New York sidewalk
I called my daughter's cell phone
she was right across the street
but we couldn't see each other

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Kids

Okay, okay - I have to admit to being old enough to be the mother of these two grown-ups. (Some of you thought they were still 2 and 4.) I'm off to the Big Apple to see the one in pigtails on Thursday. (They're still my babies, of course.)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Gold Dust

These are my children at ages 4 and 2 - Oh, so long ago. I think about the lyrics to a Tori Amos song called Gold Dust:

How did it go so fast?
You'll say as we are looking back
And then we'll understand
we held gold dust in our hands . . . .

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Addendum to Making a Joyful Noise

I felt a little guilty after my last post. A long time ago someone gave me a plaque that read -Three reasons to be a teacher - June, July and August. I really didn't like that sentiment and I eventually threw it out. Of course, teachers don't become teachers just for summer vacations. Anyone who believes that isn't a teacher. However, it's a wonderful thing to have a career, earn a living, do something meaningful and still have time for your real life. For me, it's time to write, (my second book will be into heavy revision) see friends and family, maybe paint a picture, catch up on a neglected house, and already I don't feel like there will be enough summer for all the things I want to do. I am truly grateful for all of that.
The impression I do not want to give is that I can't wait to get away from students. I don't. The adults - well, maybe. Here's what we need a break from - unreasonable expectations of us with less time and materials to work with, some administrators that don't trust our judgement or even that we're doing our job, standardized testing that judges our efforts without considering the circumstances, parents that don't show up to conferences but blame us for their child's problems, inadequate working conditions, being subjected to every new education fad that comes down the road and then seeing it disappear in two to three years.
Last week I received a piece of paper in my school mailbox saying my assignment for 08-09 is working in two buildings. No one spoke to me about it. I've been in my present building for 13 years. I don't want to go to another building. I do not want my day split in two. I do not want to be somewhere else when my students need a test read to them or help with something else. It may not sound like a big deal, but every teacher I talked to felt panicked by my news. We have a union, but we are only guaranteed A job, not the job we want or feel we're best at. Basically, it will suck. Suddenly I won't belong in either building. I sent an email to my supervisor about my concerns and the fact that, as a team, the special ed teachers and the principal had already planned next year - but she didn't even acknowledge my email.
At the end of the year we often see retired teachers at certain events. We are always amazed by the fact that they look younger than when they left us - they look rested and relaxed. Hmmmm.
So, I do still like kids and I love seeing them learn - but all the other stuff I can do without. Fortunately, the contentment of summer allows me to sort of forget all that stuff and I always seem to be ready to go back in the fall - hoping for a better year.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Making a Joyful Noise

Elated, felicitous, aglow, joyous, euphoric, merry, exhuberant, blissful, glad, blithe, jubilant, contented, satisfied, pleased, a halcyon moment - ahhhhh - listen to the quiet - SCHOOL IS OVER!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Skywatch Friday - Look Up

Pull your eyes away
from electronic interlopers.
Stave off all urgent replies and forwards.

Gently lay your burdens down
as a baby enveloped in a crib
of blankets and soft comforts.

Guide yourself out
where the humid winds move
through you like shape-shifters,

and the spring peepers
noisily mate in the the twilight.
Look up, look up.

Don't wonder how it happens
every night of your life.
Don't say it's beautiful.

Say nothing at all.
Forsake the moment.
Disremember the day.

Look up, look up.

Visit Tom for more Skywatch photos.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Dichotomy of Movies

This week I saw two movies at the theater!! It is rare for me to even go to the movies. I've thought about both of them and it's kind of funny how completely opposite they are. One was Prince Caspian (The Chronicles of Narnia). I am a C.S. Lewis fan, but not a big fan of fantasy. I admire and respect his theological writings. I saw the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe because I knew the story and was very moved by the Christian allegory. I cried my eyes out when Aslan succumbed. Since I'm too boringly level-headed and grounded in reality I wasn't going to go see Prince Caspian until I heard Lewis's stepson, Douglas Gresham on the radio. He is the heir to Lewis's work and has been a co-producer on both of the movies in order to assure their integrity to Lewis's stories. Late-in-life Lewis married and adopted Gresham and his brother.
The movie Shadowlands is about this part of Lewis's life. Anthony Hopkins plays Lewis. I was fortunate to walk the grounds of Oxford University while on a choir tour in England. C.S. Lewis was a professor there, and after seeing the movie all I could do at Oxford was picture C.S Lewis strolling the Oxford campus - and he looked just like Anthony Hopkins! Sorry, I digress.
Gresham described in detail the moral and spiritual struggle that the four main characters go through in a world of corruption in Prince Caspian and how they each have to find their way back from it. That sparked my interest. But to me the movie was one big battle scene - bows and arrows and swords. I feel like I missed something. Sure there's the battle between good and evil and good wins, but the deeper plot passed me by. If anyone has seen it and gotten more from it I'd like to hear what you have to say. I guess I can read the book too.
The other movie was Sex and the City! I loved it! It's definitely a shallow guilty little pleasure, but it was fun and funny! You should probably like the show if you want to see it. I don't know why so many of us got attached to it. There 's just something about the women's vulnerability I think we can all relate to. I never saw it on HBO so I've only seen the cleaned up version. I went with a neighbor and sat in an entire theater of women (if you really want your hubby to go tell him there is, in fact, sex in the city :)
The other reason I like the show is that New York City is definitely the fifth main character and I have a life-long fascination with New York City. In fact, I'll be heading there again next week to see daughter!
So, two movies that couldn't be more different. One I should have learned more from I think, the other just plain entertainment. And there's my two cents - take it or leave it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Why Bad Things Happen

This was the sermon topic in church yesterday. I thought I'd share a few points the pastor made since it is perhaps the toughest question we have as human beings. His first point was that - it's a fair question. Don't let anyone tell you that you have no faith just for asking it. Even Jesus asked God why He had forsaken him on the cross. Second - we just don't know. It may be a question we never know the answer to. I think it makes us trust God even more because we have to believe He knows what He's doing. Third - there is goodness. Newscasts and papers announce to us everyday the horrors of earthquakes, the evil of crime, the sadness of misfortunes, but there is goodness too. We have all experienced that as well.

Harold Kushner writes, " I think suffering happens and then, we have the immense, incredible power of conferring meaning on that suffering. We can either make it a cause for despair or cynicism, or we can make it the source of renewed insight and compassion. The experience of tragedy can lead us to self-hate or to a sense of fraternity with suffering people everywhere. This is our point of decision and it is a decision only we can make. We can't decide whether tragedy will happen to us. We can only decide how we will respond to it when it happens."

I posted a photo of my hibiscus plants. They have been lush and beautiful in the past. This winter - not so much. Now they sit on my side deck trying to adjust to warmth and sunlight. They usually lose leaves, but I've never seen them this bad. Yet admidst their suffering and neglect they have both decided to bloom (where they're planted of course.)

Lastly, my blogging friend, Cheryl left a comment on the previous post about my pathetic hair. She noticed in my profile all the things I have been given to do in this life and her comment was - hair is minor in the scheme of things, right? You are SO right, Cheryl.