Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year 2010

Dear Blogging Friends - thank you for reading, for all your kind words and support throughout the year. I am grateful for each one of you. There are so many of you that I feel I know personally even though we have never met. I truly wish you all a wonderful new year full of the blessings that you desire most.

Monday, December 28, 2009

December Lament

It's the funeral march towards the end of the year,
just a number, just a month, with joy to the world

and a slithering trail of regrets gaining on me
like a holiday rattlesnake about to strike, sending poison

to the veiny, icy backs of my hands. Visions relentlessly
knock at the frosted windowpane in my mind

not of fairies and plums, but that first wet snowflake
on the windshield, that sudden chord of a song,

a broken ornament, children who are no longer children,
what the year was not and someone who is not here.

Silent snow falls on my winter sorrows, until I look up
from my lament and see God in your eyes.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas 2009

Break forth O beauteous heavenly light
and usher in the morning.
Ye shepherds shrink not with afright
but hear the angels warnings.
This child now weak in infancy
our confidence and joy shall be.
The power of satan breaking.
our peace eternal making.

Johann Rist

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mary's Treasure

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby who was lying in the manger. when they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what they had been told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:16-19

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Free tickets, great seats. Three hours of supreme light show. Screaming guitars, obligatory drum solo. Incredible rock arrangements of classical music. Laser lights, lots of fire. Unnecessary dancing girls. Long-haired men in long black coats. Long-haired girls in much less. Fog machine. Moving platforms. Fireworks. Rock version of CAROL OF THE BELLS - priceless.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan.
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone.
Snow had fallen , snow on snow, snow on snow.
In the bleak midwinter long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain.
Heaven and earth flee away when he comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed.
The Lord God almighty, Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there.
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air.
But his mother Mary, in her maiden bliss
worshiped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd I would give a lamb.
If I were a wise man I would do my part.
Yet, what can I give him?
Give my heart.

Christina Rossetti

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas day
their old familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet the words repeat
of peace on earth, good will to men.

And thought how, as the day had come,
the belfries of all Christendom
had rolled along the unbroken song
of peace on earth , good will to men.

Till ringing, singing on its way
the world revolved from night to day,
a voice, a chime, a chant sublime
of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth," I said.
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
the wrong shall fail, the right prevail
with peace on earth, good will to men."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Every Valley

My choir sang these words this morning and they brought tears to my eyes as I pondered what they really mean. From the poetic and prophetic book of Isaiah.

Every valley shall be exalted
and every mountain and hill made low,
and the rough ground shall become level
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed
and all mankind will see it,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quotes on Human Nature

Every one is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.
Mark Twain

The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep.
Henry Maudsley (psychiatrist 1835-1918)

Man can be the most affectionate and altruistic of creatures, yet he is potentially more vicious than any other. He is the only one who can be persuaded to hate millions of his own kind whom he has never seen and to kill as many as he can lay his hands on in the name of his tribe or his God.
Benjamin Spock 1903-1998)

Art by Bruce Holwerda

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Looking for a Good Book?

Recently I read two excellent books and I wanted to share them with you.
The first one, Olive Kitteridge, I read this summer. I chose it for my book club pick this month and enjoyed reading it a second time, which is rare for me. It is a Pulitzer Prize winning book by Elizabeth Strout. Olive is a character in a book of 13 linked stories, or a "novel in stories". Sometimes she is the main character in the story and sometimes she is on the periphery or only mentioned. The setting is a small town in Maine and we come to know many of the residents through Olive. She is a woman that you may love or hate, or both at times. She can be abrasive and bossy, but also capable and helpful in a crisis. To me, Olive is someone we have all known and had to deal with. I also love the portrait of her long marriage to kind-hearted Henry and the poignant moments of loss and growing older.

The second book is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. The setting for this book is 1962 Mississippi at the cusp of the civil rights movement. The main character, Skeeter, is a woman ahead of her time. Her education gives her the desire to be more than a member of the women's Junior League, as all her friends are. She graduates from college after a childhood of only knowing black women as "the help", in her home and all the homes of privilege around her.When the black woman who raised her is wrongly accused of stealing and coldly fired, she rebels. As her eyes are opened to the reality of these women's lives, she is appalled and begins to write a book about them. She interviews them secretly at a high risk for all involved since their jobs as maids are the only ones available to them in that era. The book introduces you to a wonderful cast of female characters and amazes you when you realize this way of life was only one generation ago.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Elephant in the Dark

A coexist poem by Rumi

Some Hindus have an elephant to show.
No one here has ever seen an elephant.
They bring it at night to a darkened room.

On by one, we go in the dark and come out
saying how we experience the animal.

One of us happens to touch the trunk,
"A water-pipe kind of creature."

Another, the ear. "A very strong, always moving
back and forth fan animal."

Another, the leg. "I find it still,
like a column on a temple."

Another touches the curved back.
"A leathery throne."

Another, the cleverest, feels the tusk.
"A rounded sword made of porcelain."
He's proud of his description.

Each of us touches one place
and understands the whole that way.

The palm and the fingers feeling in the dark are
how the senses explore the reality of the elephant.

If each of us held a candle there,
and if we went in together,
we could see it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Critter Stories

I never tire of looking out at the birds at my feeders.For the past couple months a red-bellied woodpecker has visited it every day. He's a beautiful bird and I'm not sure why he's called red-bellied, but I enjoy his presence at the feeder.

I've also had a recent little miracle at my house. Since I love birds so much I always have one as a pet. I've had friendly and trainable parakeets and one nasty one that lived for 11 long years. I prefer the songs of canaries and my first one lived for over 10 years. When he died my kids surprised me with Sunny. He sang gloriously for years and then stopped. I assumed it was from old age. We think he's about 9 now and this past month he decided to start singing again after several silent years! It started out with little twitterings and now he's getting a little bolder in his songs. I can't get over it.

Then the other day I saw a red fox cross the street on my way to work. It was a residential area, but also wooded. I never saw a fox until a few years ago. They are very pretty animals and come by their sly reputation honestly. It was cool to see one.

I've had other animal encounters over the years. At one sort of decrepit house I lived in long ago a black bird made it's way into the kitchen through the siding. I panicked because I had little children in the house. Finally I opened the door and he flew out. That same house had raccoons pull back the shingles and crawl into the attic!

In another house my kids and I came home to see raccoon paw prints in the fire place. If it weren't for the glass doors we would have been sharing our food with them I'm sure. I wrote about a rat encounter in a poem. See HERE.

It seems every community in America is overrun with deer. I love them, but our city "culls" them every year, so I don't see as many as I used to. I have seen coyotes twice in my backyard. Once when my dog, Stella was running away from one. Did you know that coyotes make a horrific sound in the middle of the night while mating? A fun fact. I have also seen mink in my neighborhood, which I never had seen in my life. My last critter thought is the day I looked out my back window and saw Stella, a little 30 lb. doggie, frolicking UNDER a bucking buck! I screamed and she came, avoiding being trampled to death. Even beautiful deer can get testy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Where It Lived

It turns out
we've had it all wrong:
searching for our cravings
in what was not there,

looking for truth
in our small entitlements
like recalcitrant children
anchored in the past,

clinging to a hungry vision
with our spirits on a stretcher
we have casually paged off
the days like a magazine

shredding the beautiful
admiring the awful.

But now we know:
in every silent day,
every glance not averted,
in every shuddering embrace,

in the poverty of sleepless nights
and red-eyed mornings
this is where the love lived
stayed, thrived, survived.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Letter From Jesus

(I didn't write this, but did edit some of it. The author is unknown. I usually don't like anything that speaks for God, but this made some good points.)

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth just get along and LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting my birth, then get rid of a couple Santas and snowmen and put a Nativity scene in your own yard. If all my followers did that there wouldn't be a need for a scene on the town square.

Stop worrying about people calling it a holiday tree. I made all trees. You can remember me any time you see a tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish. I spoke about those in John 15:1-8.

If you want to give me a present here is my wish list.

Instead of writing letters of protest about the way my birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to the soldiers away from home.

Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards he's sending out this year, why not write and tell him you'll be praying for him and his family.

Instead of giving your children gifts they don't need and you can't afford, spend time with them. Tell them the story of my birth.

Pick someone who has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

Instead of nitpicking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a Merry Christmas, that doesn't stop you from wishing them one.

Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in my presence.

Don't forget, I am God and I can take care of myself. Just love me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of the rest.

I love you, Jesus

Monday, November 23, 2009


Earth is turning and a massive star burns.
The unfailing harvest from the soil arrives
in its true season and every living day
succumbs to the dark and restive night.

Hearts are beating and lungs expanding,
the brain exerts its power of language and love,
blood strains relentlessly for its destination
as our bodies continue on.

We do nothing in all the days of our lives
to keep these laws in motion
or call them forth to complete their roles.
Nothing we do allows our eyes to open each morning.

And so for all that we cannot do on our own,
for the gift of free will and lives of unending choices,
for this food, and love we learn through time on Earth,
we thank you God for your blessings.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Day in Verbs

Rise, brush, wash, style, dress
let dog out, let dog in
prepare, chop, cut, pack
eat, drink tea, read
leave, drive, steer, brake

teach, talk, smile
talk, talk, talk, read
check, grade, frown

walk briskly, listen, observe
eat salad, read, drink tea,
teach, talk, smile, frown
grade, prepare
papers, forms, papers

drive, listen, steer, brake

greet, let dog out, let dog in
play, pet, snuggle

write, blog, email
lift, stretch, watch

kiss, talk, eat, talk, clean up
let dog out, let dog in
watch, prepare, undress,
brush, wash, talk, love, sleep

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My 500th Post

This is my 500th post. I started in September of 2007 and haven't stopped. My first post explained why I chose COEXIST as my title. I wrote " When you think about it, the word coexist embodies all the good and bad of this earthly life. There is very little in life that does not require us to coexist with something or someone."

Much to my surprise I now coexist with many amazing and prolific writers in the blogging world. I coexist with oh, so many "friends" on Facebook. These are new and wonderful ways to be a part of the world, but they also require time, energy, interest and creativity.

What surprises me more than anything is that I have found 500 things to share. I used to lie awake at night fretting over what my next post would be and if all my readers would abandon me if I skipped a few days. Now I just write spontaneously as I am right now.

I appreciate every kind comment and word of encouragement. I have enjoyed meeting a few of my blog followers in person. To be honest, I wish that my readership would have grown much more than it has, yet, I believe I do this for myself more than anything else. It's a bit of a challenge, but more than that, it is self-expression. And if anyone thrives on self-expression it's me!

Blogging has given me a new perspective on people. All the people I've met through blogging have truly been wonderful, creative, often spirit-filled humans that have inspired me endlessly. Bloggers and writers, in my experience, are extremely generous people, and that gives me hope in the future.

So, if you are reading this - thank you. You have blessed my life more than you could imagine.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Seven Deadly Sins

She buys the magazine at the checkout counter,
the one with the story on that hot actor
she fantasizes about at night
when she is in bed with her husband.

She reads the lies about these strangers cover to cover
as she eats an entire quart of overpriced ice cream.
She could share the magazine with her neighbor
Cindy, but let her buy her own.

Cindy's husband makes more money
and the bitch doesn't even have to work.
She's probably out getting a manicure.
She hates Cindy and her skinny jeans too.

Maybe Cindy's husband will lose his job
in this crappy economy and then all they
will have is their volunteer work at the mission
in the disgusting, rundown area of the city.

She's sick of thinking about Cindy
so she goes up to the bedroom to lull
herself to sleep thinking about the actor.
She'll have a snack when she gets up.

When she awakens an hour later
she looks in the mirror and begins to cry
at the bags under her eyes, the way her makeup
doesn't hide the scar, the frizziness of her hair.

It's a beautiful summer day,
but she doesn't look out the window.
The church bells are ringing,
but she doesn't hear them.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Quotes for a Friday

Be still when you have nothing to say. When genuine passion moves you, say what you're going to say, and say it hot. DH Lawrence

In one and the same fire clay grows hard and wax melts. Francis Bacon

Art washes aways from the soul the dust of everyday life. Pablo Picasso

The secret to being a writer is that you have to write. It's not enough to think about writing or to study literature or plan a future life as an author. You really have to lock yourself away alone, and get to work. Augusten Burroughs

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Things I Don't Like

This list was a little harder to come up with, which comforts me. I often fear becoming too cynical in my old age. It also does not mention the very obvious like war or hatred.

loud people
grocery shopping
wasting time
clothes shopping
video games
my hair
rage caused by political opinions
being interrupted
feeling invisible
advice I didn't ask for
pathetic, needy female TV characters
landscape trucks blocking traffic
wearing shoes
egg nog
disciplining students
the phrase "you guys"
wearing seat belts
misuse of the word "awesome"
the notion that only some US citizens deserve basic rights

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Things I Like

My friend and writing buddy, Amy, at the Writer's Closet wrote a list of things she likes so I thought I'd give it a try. The list does not include anything related to family or friends or anything else too obvious.And it's in no particular order. Try your own list and I'll check it out.

my feet
reuben sandwiches
hot tea
toe rings
writing poetry
New York City
smell of burning leaves
General Hospital
being home alone
the sky
reading to kids
I Love Lucy
My mom's art
looking at photo albums
bonfires and s'mores
reading beautiful writing
snow on evergreens
singing notes above high C
watching Michael dance
sad songs
the Brahm's german Requiem
watching TV in bed
bike riding
my guitar
singing in the car
coexisting - to name a few

Thursday, October 29, 2009

American Hate Crimes

This week Obama signed a federal law that makes it a crime to discriminate against gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people. It is unbelievable to me that this is happening in 2009 - that before this week it was somehow okay to discriminate and commit crimes against some American citizens. This beats the fact that it took until 1990 to stop discriminating against disabled Americans as I wrote about in my last post. The federal hate-crimes law already covers race, religion and national origins. Yet, in the same morning paper that I read about the new federal hate-crimes law I read that Hispanics in our area are accusing the local police of harassment. So I have an idea - let's pass a law that makes it a crime to discriminate against ALL - what do you call them? Oh yes, HUMAN BEINGS, that's it - when will there be a law that bans the discrimination of human beings?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Americans with Disabilities Act - Richard Pimentel

Have you ever heard the name Richard Pimentel? I hadn't until I watched a movie called "Music Within" last week. It's an amazing and true story of a man who almost single-handedly pushed for the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a young man, Pimentel wanted to make something of himself despite a horrific childhood. He had a gift for public speaking and debate, but ended up in VietNam and came back with tinnitus so bad (from an explosion) that he couldn't hear.He found it almost impossible to go to school or find a job. He met a man, Art Honeyman, with severe cerebral palsy who was smart and making his way through a world that treated him cruely because of his disability. There's a scene in the movie where they ask them to leave a restaurant because Art was disgusting to the other customers. They refused to leave and were arrested under the "Ugly Law, a statute that prohibited public appearances of people who were unsightly. I looked at my husband and said - that was only 30 years ago, but then the movie reminded me that the ADA was not signed into law until 1990! Before that time people with disabilities could be asked to leave public places or not even have a way into them, they could be denied jobs, be discriminated against in any way! Unbelievable isn't it?
Richard Pimentel wrote "Tilting at Windmills" a disability training program designed for managers and supervisors to work with people with disabilities in 1981.
"Music Within" is a good movie and a great story of one man's success and ability to make a positive change in the world.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Random Photo Saturday

Stella rolling in the grass - must be nice to be a dog...

Tinker's Creek Gorge in Bedford - a view like this is pretty rare in flat northeast Ohio. It was a misty night, but still a lovely sight.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Coexist XXVII - America Divided

In my lowly opinion there is something wrong when someone becomes enraged because you do not agree with them - especially in regards to politics. Like bombing an abortion clinic and killing the doctors because you believe life is so sacred. Doesn't make sense. The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently ran an excellent coexist article by John Campanelli entitled "America's house is divided and we can't stand one another." It addressed the outbursts of rage that seem rampant across the country and on television. It mourns the loss of civility and tolerance for differing opinions. This bugs me too. Here are some excerpts:

Respect for an opponent's positions? Gentlemanly debate? Reflection? Compromise? Those values have been bulldozed by belligerance, name-calling, and most of all, rage.
Joe wilson shouting, "You lie!" at the president and Rep. Alan Grayson calling Republicans "knuckle-dragging Neanderthals."

A man at a Maryland hall meeting in August had a sign that said "Death to Michele and her two stupid kids." I wince just typing that.

Campanelli reports that there has been a return of over 50 militia groups in the past 18 months.

Fox's Glenn Beck has said he hates the families of 9/11 victims and that Obama is a racist with a "deep -seated hatred for white people" or MSNBC's Keith Olbermann who called President Bush a "fascist" "war criminal" and "idiot in chief."
"Beck makes $25 million a year- it really pays to use a lot of venom," says Richard
Perloff, professor and director of CSU's school of communication.

I don't know about you, but I taught my children, and I try to teach my students, RESPECT. Remember the old Aretha Franklin song?

"When moderate mainstream voters are subjected to the name-calling and never-back-down fury, something happens," says Julie Exline, a psychology professor at CWRU. "It reinforces that these sides are completely incompatible and that all people basically have to chose a side. . . People feel they have to chose because there seems to be no middle ground. All of this tends to foster a belief in us vs. them. It gets you to think about the members of the other group as being your enemy - a personal enemy of yours.

The article ends - Enrich yourself to other viewpoints, find common ground and catch yourself when you make generalizations about groups of people

That's all for now. I have more to come. What do you think?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wedding Dress Shopping

What could be more fun than shopping for a wedding dress? My future daughter-in-law was sweet enough to include me on her special day with her mother and sister and my daughter. She chose a dress - which is top secret of course, but just seeing all the dresses was quite a sight.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Michael J. Fox

I don't intend to make this blog a series of You Tube videos - but this one needs to be seen. Watch the whole thing.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Grateful Apologist

Everything I need surrounds me
like a protective shell.
The sun drops on my day as I awaken,
and stays with relentless patience.

God is in your eyes and I can see
Him everytime I look at you.
My head has external music without my ears,
and love is inextricably knit around my heart.

A visceral peace arrives at unexpected moments,
one that can be found only in the human soul.
The world, fraught with danger
has passed over this house

leaving beauty outside every window,
as if God has lost control of His grace,
and let it move in its own tangents
with glorious abandon.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

School Breakfast

Many, many children in my district qualify for free or reduced lunches and free breakfast. This year, since it takes a village, I am helping out with breakfast supervision some mornings, and I am appalled. All of the "food" is prepackaged and most of it gets thrown in the garbage. Maybe the kids have more sense than those who are supposedly trying to nourish them. Here are two of my observations. See if you can detect why obesity and malnourishment might be a problem in our country.

One day the children were given a package of two Pop-Tarts. Here is what it said on the label:
420 calories
22%of daily fat
14 gr fat
32 gr sugar
4.5 gr saturated fat

Today they had a packaged muffin:
310 calories
11 gr fat
2 gr saturated fat
65 mg cholesterol
310 mg sodium
48 gr carbohydrates
25 gr sugar

This is the garbage we are feeding them to help them learn? They shouldn't be fed any saturated fat. A breakfast of sugar and fat and more calories than I eat for breakfast going into little children? It's sickening to me. I'm hoping to find out where this food comes from. If these children are getting free "food" because they are below the poverty level - doesn't it defeat the point of charity when it's doing more harm than good? There is no kitchen in our buildings like the old days when lunch ladies actually spent mornings cooking lunch. But what's wrong with some toast, or an apple or cereal with milk? Any thoughts?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Amazing Photograph

This is a photo by Pat Gaines that was in the Denver Post recently. It is a red tail hawk being harassed by a kingbird. To read more go to

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I carry your heart with me

by e.e.cummings
(to my kids)

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope of mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Facebook, My First Kiss and the Beatles

Are you on it? I'm starting to love this phenomenon. I have had dinner with three high school friends so far and we've renewed our friendships. It probably wouldn't have happened without Facebook. But just this morning I discovered something that I'm sure I never would have known if not for this social networking site.

One of my dearest childhood friends lost her father last night. In expressing my sadness I saw one of her other friends was the first boy who ever kissed me. I was probably in 7th grade. If I remember correctly we had a mostly telephone relationship because he didn't live very close. He was just a boy I met at a party and never heard from again. I requested his "friendship" and looked at his info page. Then I saw that we had two mutual friends. He is a cousin to my daughter's best friend and he apparently worked with my future daughter-in-law's sister.

That is just so random and weird to me. Mind you, it's been almost 40 years since that first kiss! I remember it was dark and there was a song playing over and over. If you ever visit my basement you will see a mural of The Beatles. You will notice the lyrics to "Let It Be" written above it. That was the song.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Real Thing

On my walk yesterday, my ipod on shuffle, the song "The Real Thing" by Kenny Loggins came on. It's a song from his album "Leap of Faith" from 1991. It was his divorce/starting life over album and it was a lifeline for me. I still cry at "The Real Thing".

I did it for you and the boys
because love should teach you joy
and not the imitation
that your mama and daddy tried to show you
I did it for you and for me
and because I still believe
there is one thing you can never
give up and never compromise on
and it's the real thing
you need in love.

I still cry for my children's broken home. But both of my children chose to rise above all that went wrong. They each chose the high road of forgiveness and love, not anger and resentment. For this, I will always admire them.

Now my son is engaged and I see my dream for him coming true. I believe with all my hear that my kids will do it right because I have seen them learn from their parents' mistakes.

The end of "The Real Thing" says:

Everybody's got a boat out on the ocean
but not everybody's sailing out to sea
and is there someone there for me?
I'm ready to believe.

I chose to believe and there was somebody out there for me - and now I've got The Real Thing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


As life moves,
and days wither to nights,
perspective is paramount.

What did I care about
one year ago today?

Whose opinion upset me
last winter?

On which day was the house
dirtier than I could bear?

What was it that we
disagreed about last spring?

I don't know.

Yet, I took those days
and smashed them like
a cigarette under my shoe.

The countdown of good days
has begun
and I've made it shorter.

Monday, September 21, 2009

NEO Leaf

I've lived in northeast Ohio my entire life and I don't think I've ever seen a leaf this big! It's a yummy-smelling sycamore (just the leaf, not my foot.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

More Cleveland

Here's something I didn't even know we had around Cleveland - The German Central Foundation, founded in 1925. We attended its Oktoberfest last night and it was like pleasantly stepping back in time. The small fairgrounds area reminded me of the old Euclid Beach. It had a beer garden, outdoor dance floor, indoor ballroom and stands selling German items and pretzels with sellers in traditional German clothing. There was a live band complete with accordian and German dancers. I loved them! My dinner included schnitzel, sauerkraut, German potato salad and potato pancakes. YUM! And strudel for dessert.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cleveland in the New York Times

Check out HERE for a real look at Cleveland circa 2009. In the New York Times no less! Thanks Brett Sokol whoever you are!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Coexist XXVI - With God

I spent most of my teenage years sharing my Christian faith with others. I grew up in a Methodist church at a time when contemporary music was rare and daring. The associate pastor and his wife were wonderful musicians and they had a heart for teens. I fell into a life of singing,performing and sharing my faith quite naturally.

My high school years were filled with rehearsing and traveling in Christian musicals. Some for teens and then for whole families. I co-directed a musical with the next group of teens, and that unique era in our lives lasted well into my twenties.

As a young wife and mother I continued to be involved in every aspect of the church. My then-husband and I became youth leaders in an attempt to keep that part of our lives with us a little longer. My little children went everywhere with us, including weekend retreats and camps.

Prayer chains and Bible studies were a constant, as well as the many songs I shared as solos in church. I had a one-woman Lenten concert that encapsulated all my beliefs in songs and commentary. Soon after that my entire life fell apart and nothing in my head or heart was familiar anymore. I learned that serving on committees, teaching Sunday school and abstaining from drinking and swearing were not what being a Christian was all about. I discovered that only one thing remained in times of overwhelming pain - and that was God.

The church failed me, friends failed me, my husband most certainly failed me and I fell complettely apart. I learned through counseling that I was a human being with all the same temptations and weaknesses everyone else had. I found out that putting forth an image of being good and spotless did not make you that way. I experienced rage and terror and despair. Many people in my church stopped speaking to me. I was tired of being perfect, tired of being a good example, tired of being a Christian.

I became a single mother and looked for love in all the wrong places. I wore my friends out with my anxiety and I discovered that none of them had any idea what I was going through. I screamed "why me!" over and over at night and I prayed and I prayed and I prayed. And God held me in His arms when no one else would.

Eventually I healed and became a new, more real person. I related to Pinocchio wanting to be a real boy. I stopped being a wooden replica of a woman and actually became one, and realized that maybe that was God's plan all along.

I fell deeply in love for the first time and began a new life, but our not-the-Brady-Bunch blended family was a disaster. How could God let this happen to me again? Wait. Stop. God didn't make it happen. I chose it. Now I needed Him again.

Then to top it off my beloved church left me. Literally. Picked up and moved to another community, dividing the church family and obliterating everything it had once been in my life. I was beyond heartbroken. So,even people who love you let you down, and the fallible human-led church let's you down, and what do you have? Just God.

My son and I sat in the parking lot of the church - the one we'd both grown up in, the one he'd been baptized in by that same pastor I grew up with (and he's named after), the church I'd hoped my children would be married in, just as I was, - and I said: "This has nothing to do with God. He didn't do this. People did this. " But, of course, teenagers love a good excuse to hate church and my church-raised children were no exception. Shit.

I continued my new life with a new husband and a new church, but somehow all the trappings of my very Christian life seemed irrelevant now. Don't get me wrong - my faith stayed strong. God is still in my heart and soul. But that's just my point. Although I see nothing wrong with churches and bible studies and prayer chains - they won't save you. Only God will save you. Only God will love you when no one else does.

In the '70's I was strumming my guitar and singing Christian camp songs and listening to John Denver and James Taylor on the side. I have to admit I deeply regret missing a lot of amazing music that was surfacing at the time. In the '80's I was listening to Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. There was one simple Amy Grant song, written in 1986, that has always stuck with me, and I've always thought it says it all.

In a little while we'll be with the Father, can't you see Him smile.
In a little while we'll be home forever, in a while.
We're just here to learn to love Him and we'll be home, in a little while.

(From the album "Age to Age". Song by Grant, Chapman, Bannister, Keister)

We're just here to learn to love Him.
To me that line puts all of life in perspective. If you've met God and let Him into your life, then you love Him and you can rest in the knowledge of a loving eternity. This world will shortly be left behind. Earthly life is the time He gives us to choose, to know Him, to use what He's given us. This is your chance. Right now.

I made a stupendous effort to not be a part of the worldly world in my youth, and I succeeded, but at a cost. I believe that my life crisis was used by God to wake me up to the world I really live in. A beautiful world, full of experiences and joy and heartache. It's brief. It's amazing. It's the human experience.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Pile (A Ferri Tale)

With great optimism and hope the couple decided to combine their former lives into one new life and one house. The man and the woman packed up everything they had from their old loves and moved it into the new compromise house. Strangely, they both brought many boxes of manure with them, and every time one was brought into the new house is was promptly dumped in the center of the home - that area you must move through every day in living there.

After a short time the family noticed a putrid odor hanging in the air. It was difficult to have fun with the smell permeating every room of the house. They spent a lot of money on air fresheners, but nothing seemed to work. The children got angry and the adults were just annoyed. They really wanted to hang on to everything they brought with them.

Occasionally a discussion lasting through the night would cause one of them to take up a shovel, fill a box, and put it out in the trash. But most of the time everyone just stepped over the pile, getting some of it on their shoes and tracking it out of the house and into the car, leaving bits of it everywhere they went. Family and friends would often sniff the air and wonder what the foul smell was, but they were too polite to say anything.

On a particularly volatile night she fell smack into the pile, her tears wetting the dried up chunks, and the pieces that had stopped stinking started to smell again. The man usually avoided the pile altogether even when she pointed it out to him. This made her very angry.

She yelled, "I'm sick of your shit!"
He said, "It's mine and I'm keeping it."

As the years passed the pile diminished slightly. Sometimes they noticed the reduction of manure and were pleased, but sometimes old manure they thought they had dispossed of reappeared, and they were discouraged. It didn't smell quite as bad, but the stench was always present. They kind of got used to it.

After many years they saw something start to peek out from the pile. It looked clean and bright, but they were afraid to uncover it. The scent of something new hung in the air and sometimes even overpowered the bad smell. They looked at each other and smiled. What could it be? What could have lasted all these years under all that crap?

Finally, one day it surfaced. It smelled sweet and was well-preserved. It glowed from its place in the center of the pile. Apparently it had been there all the time, but neither of them had had the courage to dig down and uncover it. The dried up pieces of manure were easy to toss out and the sweet spot was revealed. It wasn't really a surprise. It was what they had started out with - a beautiful, unbreakable box of trust, respect, admiration - and true love. Then they remembered. They left the box in the central place where it could not be ignored. If it began to grow dim, or new manure rested on top of it, they swept it off, took out the trash, or flushed it down the toilet where it had always belonged anyway.

And the man and the woman never forgot how long it had taken them to uncover something beautiful that had been there all the time - and they knew it always would be.
The End.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Follow-up Quote

Collective fear stimulates herd instinct and tends to produce ferocity towards those who are not regarded as members of that herd.

Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Culture of Foolish Fears?

We've all read the forwarded emails about "the good old days" when we hung our feet out the car windows without seat belts, and the kids stayed out playing after dark and the playground equipment was mounted on hard asphalt. Yes, some things have changed for the better. But do you think some of our concerns have gone too far? I am, of course, thinking of the panic at the thought of the President speaking some words of wisdom to American students. A recorded message went out in my district from the board of education to tell all parents that if they did not want their children listening to the President of the United States then they should send a note the next day. SAY WHAT?

I would be incredulous at this no matter who the president was or what party he represented. To tell your children that our president might have a subversive message is the root of what now divides our country. What happened to teaching respect? This country did elect him, just as every other president. George Bush got a lot of disrespect and every time I heard a child echo his or her parents venom at the President I reminded them that he led our country and was to be respected no matter what our opinion was.

I think it is incredibly harmful to teach children the message they received this week. Here's another thing that irked me this week:
The fourth grade teachers in my building chose to do away with desks and have children work at tables. All school supplies were brought in and combined so they could be shared all year long. Pencils would sit in a container on the table. Now to me this is genious. Pencils disappear like socks and dinosaurs and your money. Pencil sharpening is the bane of a teacher's existence. Elementary students rarely have a decent pencil (someone stole it). An electric sharpener is too noisy. An old-fashioned one undependable and doesn't work for all pencils. Those little individual sharpeners ALWAYS end up on the floor with pencil shavings scattered. But an abundance of already sharpened pencils on the table - beautiful. The table idea also takes care of desks crammed with papers and books until they don't close. Those are just two reasons I loved the idea, but as you probably already guessed, one parent complained that her child was not to touch supplies of the other children for fear of getting the swine flu and he should have his own supplies. Fine. That's do-able - but I want to say to that mother - I guess your child will not be touching any gym equipment, go on the swings, touch a used library book or a door handle either!COME ON!

So I'll get off my soap box after I say - if you don't want your child in public, exposed to everything in public (including horrible messages from the President reminding students to do their best and take responsibility for their education) then take your child out of PUBLIC school! HMMPH!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Saving Lives

The Holocaust has been on my mind lately.
I wrote about the wonderful book "The Book Thief" on August 20th. Part of that story includes a family hiding a young Jewish man in their basement for two years in Nazi Germany. I read another book several months ago called "Sarah's Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay. It is partially told in present day as an American journalist living in Paris researches the little known round-up of Parisian Jews by French authorities in 1942. Thirteen thousand Jews were sent to death in Auchswitz from that incident. The story alternates with that of 10 year-old Sarah in 1942. I would recommend this book as well.

Then yesterday's paper had the story of Nicholas Winton, who saved 669 Jewish children 70 years ago by putting them on trains and sending them safely to foster homes on a hunch that Czechoslovakia would soon be invaded by the Nazis. He, of course, was correct.

Last week those children reunited with Winton, now 100 years old, in a London railway station to say thank you. It is estimated that 5000 people around the world owe Winton their lives - those children and their descendents. The kicker is that he never told anyone what he had done. Not even his wife for 40 years. She only found out in 1988 when she found correspondence referring to the prewar events.

This all reminded me of a favorite book I read as a young teen. It was called
"The Hiding Place" by Corrie ten Boom.
Published in 1971 ten Boom recounted her Dutch family and the strong Christian faith that led them to help and hide as many Jewish families as they could. Someone asked Corrie to help hide his wife and when she agreed the entire family was arrested. (The hidden Jews remained safe). She and her sister Betsie ended up in Ravensbruck, a brutal workhouse for women. Corrie recounts her sister's unflagging faith and the risks she took sharing a secret Bible with the other prisoners. At one point Betsie thanks God even for the fleas and Corrie thinks her faith has gone too far. But later they discover that it was the fleas that kept the guards away and gave them the opportunity to share their Bible and their hope with the other women. Betsie died in the concentration camp, but Corrie lived on to tell their story.

This book made a big impact on me as a teenager, and now I find that many Holocaust stories continue to touch me. Many survivors of that time are in their 80's now. I think we should continue to listen and learn and be inspired by a time that most of us cannot even begin to imagine.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle wrote dozens of books many of them her own journals which I always found inspirational and quotable. L'Engle's most famous book is probably the young adult novel "A Wrinkle in Time."

I looked through one of my favorites "A Circle of Quiet", published in 1972 and found these words:

I haven't defined a self, nor do I want to. A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming. Being does mean becoming, but we run so fast that it is only when we seem to stop - as sitting on the rock at the brook - that we are aware of our own is-ness, of being. But certainly this is not static, for this awareness of being is always a way of moving from the selfish self - the self-image - and towards the real.
Who am I, then? Who are you?

Madeleine L'Engle lived from 1918 - 2007. Read more about her HERE.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Day for Quotes

We are reformers in spring and summer; in autumn and winter we stand by the old - reformers in the morning, conservatives at night. Reform is affirmative, conservatism is negative; conservatism goes for comfort, reform for truth.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

It is good to rub and polish your mind against that of others.
Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)

Truth shines the brighter clad in verse.
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lake Erie

A last summer day on the shores of Lake Erie. Cleveland always gets a bad rap - but look what we have so close to home.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Borrowed Poem

Things will be busy the next couple of weeks as school (and work) begins again for me. Please bear with me if posts are elusive for a little while. Meanwhile I am borrowing a poem to share written by my friend and Cleveland Heights poet laureate Gail Ghetia Bellamy. This is one of my favorites:
Tall Kitchens
by Gail Ghetia Bellamy

In my first marriage
we moved a lot
and I struggled
in tall kitchens
where other women
had hung their tea cups
and stored their grandmothers'
turkey platters
I tried to
hit all the hooks
reach all the shelves
and make fresh-baked pies
with good apple smells
that would waft from
to backyards
so none of the neighbors
would notice
how short I fell.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Good Books

I'm starting to wonder if some of the stay-up-at-night books I've been looking for have been hiding in the young adults section. Sometimes I think that I've read so many novels that I am just cynical and burned-out from them. I've read so many awful books this year, all the while wondering how the heck they got published in the first place! But finally, I read one that I did indeed want to stay up after bedtime and not put down and it is classified as a young adult book. It is called "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak. I seem to enjoy good writing more than anything these days and this one was creative, quirky, not sappy, touching and written like one 550 page poem. Loved it! The narrator is Death and it is set in Nazi Germany. Here's a sample of the narrator's poetry:
When their bodies had finished scouring for gaps in the door, their souls rose up. When their fingernails had scratched the wood and in some cases were nailed into it by the sheer force of desperation, their spirits came towards me, into my arms and we climbed out of those shower facilities, onto the roof and up, into eternity's certain breadth.
The book is about a little girl named Liesel (love that name) who wants to learn to read and the priceless gift that books can bring when they are rare and desired. Something we take for granted now.

Another beautifully written book is "Olive Kitteridge" by Elizabeth Strout. It is a collection of linked stories and the writing drew me in and made me want to be a better writer. Novels are often for enjoyment and escape, but they also take hours of our time to read. I like to know that my time is well-spent. These two books were well worth my time. Have you read anything good lately?

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Room Full of Books

I am in the center
of a circumference of books,
and it occurs to me that
in all my living spaces I have
evolved a room such as this.

Like a literary brick layer,
book by book, shelf by shelf,
a small city of manuscripts grows.
They are life-long denizens,
ever-present, standing ingloriously

like straight-stemmed
multicolored Easter lilies
with silent trumpet mouths
waiting to be opened, to teach,
to comfort, to be re-read after

their long involuntary rest.
I dust and lovingly polish their spines.
I rearrange them in my personal hierarchies.
I lionize their centrality in my life
and acknowledge

that nothing electronic
can ever replace
the invitation to come in
when I stand in the doorway
of my room full of books.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Poetry on the Dance Floor

His songs have been on shuffle
in my head since the end of June,
haunting, pulling, I see
visual bodily poetry
images not to be seen again.

Painting by Diane

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cleveland Museum of Art

These are photos from the newly opened wing of the Cleveland Museum of Art - spectacular! This is glass room facing out into an area of University Circle that is full of Rodin's scuptures. In the background of the second photo you can see a little of the Case Weatherhead building which looks like shiny twisted aluminum. This is a world-class museum. The renovations are stunning and will be completed in 2012, but worth seeing now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Moveable Feast

I haven't read much Hemingway since high school but I am reading a new edition of "A Moveable Feast". Published posthumously in 1964, the book is a collection of his personal memoirs of writing in Paris in the 1920's. It gives you a clear portrait of Paris at that time and of some notable writers that Hemingway encountered there such as F.Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein. This edition is supposed to include his complete papers and intentions for the book, not the edited version that his wife Mary published after his death.

Here are some a my favorite sentences from the book. Such pure writing:

Do not worry. you have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.

I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing; but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.

But you knew there would always be spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason.
In those days, though, the spring always came finally; but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.

We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Food Answers

The first photo is of creamed beet soup with arctic char served with pinot gris. The second photo is indeed strawberry shortcake served with cabernet franc ice wine. Third is beef loin in ice wine in a blue cheese crust served over corn and fingerling potato fricasse served with cabernet sauvignon. The last is a divers scallop wrapped in proscuitto over a bed of spinach served with chardonnay. There were four more courses but I'm not going to keep asking my patient husband to repeat the details again! (I'm not a foodie, but it was all good.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Take a Guess!

My husband makes wine, so he had a deep yearning to take part in a winery dinner experience. While in Niagra-on-the-Lake we had an 8 course dinner at Peller Winery and they served a different wine to compliment each course (Not a whole glass though!!!) You left your dinner in the hands of the chef so you didn't know what you would be eating. If they hadn't told me I wouldn't have know what I was eating even after I saw it! It was a three hour culinary extravaganza - we enjoyed every minute. Can you guess what these courses are? I'll tell you later.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Quote for a Wednesday

"If you are mesmerized by televised stupidity and don't get to hear or read stories about your world, you can be fooled into thinking that the world isn't a miracle, and it is."
Anne Lamott

Monday, August 3, 2009


There is a moment
between waking and sleeping

when I know something unknowable,
when I experience something with no name,

no language to describe it,
an invention not yet invented.

A thought outside my brain
beyond intelligence, beyond human comprehension.

Is it God? Is it the power of the subconscious?
Or is it what I knew before

the waters of the womb spit me out
into the light and chaos of the world?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

COEXIST XXV - Sexual Orientation

These are excerpts from the opinion page of today's Cleveland Plain Dealer:
It begins -After a summer of often dysfunctional budgeteering in Ohio, it's welcome news that state legislative leaders are focused on doing something this fall that should engage the best of both sides of the aisle; an overdue law banning discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in Ohio.
It goes on - Such discrimination is already illegal in the Ohio Houe and Ohio Senate...both prohibit bias based on sexual orientation. It's time to extend that prohibition throughout the state, as 21 other states have done. Many Ohioans will be shocked to learn it's perfectly legal in most places in Ohio to fire someone based simply on his or her sexual orientation.
It ends - Ohio civil rights statutes make it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, military status, national origin, disability, age or ancestry. It is time to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Some of Summer 2009

Sunset on Lake Erie
This is glass - at the Corning Museum of Glass
My son got engaged! He did a good job choosing a ring!
Mother-daughter pedicures :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Dance

Consciousness expresses itself through creation. This world we live in is the dance of the creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an eye, but the dance lives on. On many an occasion when I am dancing I have felt touched by something sacred. In those moments I felt my spirit soar and become one with everything that exists.
I become the stars and the moon. I become the lover and the beloved. I become the victor and the vanquished. I become the master and the slave. I become the singer and the song. I become the knower and the known. I keep on dancing... Then is is the eternal dance of creation. The creator and creation merge into one wholeness of joy. I keep on dancing... and dancing... and dancing until there is only ...the dance.

By Michael Jackson

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Passage of Time

An unhurried sense of time is in itself a form of wealth. Bonnie Friedman

When I am away from home on a vacation it is remarkably easy for me to have very few thoughts in my head. It's a vacation for my normally over-thinking brain. Last week we went to Niagra Falls to visit the wineries, see a play and relax without much of a schedule. We stayed on the 25th floor of the Sheraton in Canada and this was the view from our room.

I sat by the floor-to-ceiling window trying to read but always distracted by the movement of the water and the spectacular view. There was a moment when I had a bit of an emotional revelation about how many times I had been to the falls. Each time was a different phase of my life.

Besides the proverbial meaning of life, I think the most difficult concept to grasp is the passage of time. There are moments when the brevity of life stuns you, and I had one of those moments as I stared at the beauty.

I stood there, on the American side, my baby sister in a stroller, holding the back of my little brother's shirt, as a worried older sister will do. My parents much younger than I am now. We inhaled the mist, cooled in the shower of droplets.
I stood there as part of a traveling musical as a teenager. The winter falls were partially frozen, the mist a cold cloud as I stood in my plaid hooded maxi-coat, my boyfriend nearby.

I stood there, on the Canadian side, my daughter's little two year-old hand in mine among the roar and vibrations of the falls. My son growing in my womb.

Then they were seven and nine years old, leaning on the railing of a boat taking us to the foot of the falls, smiles under sunglasses, wrapped in blue raincoats.

Then suddenly that phase of my life was over and I stood there with someone new in the exquisite days of new love and the whole world looked new to me. In a photo my wispy hair stood straight up in the damp breeze, his brown curls unmoving.

Last week we stood there once again among the roar and the mist and the power of the water. The rainbow still hanging over the falls, giving me hope, tears in my eyes for the knowledge that I had stood there, by those falls, at different times of my life with all of those I love the most in this world - and with tears for the bittersweet passage of time.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I 'm sorry for the sad lack of inspiring posts lately. My heart hasn't been in the writing mode this summer and I'm sorely disappointed in myself for that. I am taking a break for this week and hopefully will return with something worthwhile to say. Enjoy these summer days and say a prayer for me if you would. So, as Tigger would say "TTFN! Ta-ta for now!" stop back and visit me in a week. Love you all.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On the Deck

wallowing in my head
looking for a poem
gives me ADHD.
All I can see is the red bird
making U-turns in mid-air
to avoid me as I sit next
to the birdfeeder.
All I can hear is a distant hammer,
someone is building something
just like I would like to be
building a poem.
I have to watch every time
the dog bolts across the yard
for a black squirrel
even though we both know
she will never catch it.
Then the pink petunias
are nice to look at and so is the
fountain that just turned on next door.
The hammock looks inviting
but it's difficult to write lying down.
I notice the air smells sweet
after the the rain and
OH HELL - forget the poem writing!