Diane Vogel Ferri is a teacher, poet and writer. Her essays have been published in Scene Magazine, Cleveland Christmas Memories, Raven’s Perch, and by Cleveland State University among others. Her poems can be found in numerous journals. Her chapbook, Liquid Rubies, was published by Pudding House. The Volume of Our Incongruity was published by Finishing Line Press. Diane’s essay, “I Will Sing for You” was featured at the Cleveland Humanities Fest in 2018. Her novel, The Desire Path can be found on Amazon. She is a graduate of Kent State University and holds an M.Ed from Cleveland State University.

Friday, December 31, 2010

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.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Art

Sunday I had the opportunity to go on a personal guided tour at the Cleveland Museum of Art of Nativity paintings. The tour was led by a member of my choir who is also an art docent at the museum. (I also learned from the room with the large and magnificent paintings of five of the muses is that MUSE is where the word MUSEUM comes from! Also MUSIC! Somehow that never occured to me - but I digress.)

The painting at the top is The Holy Family on the Steps by Nicholas Poussin, a French painter (1594-1665). The other one is The Holy family with Mary Magdala by El Greco (1541-1614)These, and most of religious paintings we know today were required by the Catholic church of that time.

In both paintings Mary is shown wearing red and blue. The red signifies her humanness (blood) and the blue was to show that she belonged to heaven. The light shining down and brightening the baby and Mary's images is of course heavenly.Both paintings also contain fruit which tells us that God already tried to make a perfect human in Adam and Eve but the fruit brought the downfall of humans.

Having Mary Magdala in a painting with the baby Jesus is erroneous since she would have not been around then and also would have been closer to Jesus's age. It is thought that El Greco was required to put someone's relative in the painting and they called her Mary Magdala. Mary looks innocent, young and virginal next to the woman in scarlet.

In the Poussin painting Joseph is relegated to the shadows. This was the case in many of the paintings - showing his secondary part in the story.The significance of the family blocking the steps is to show that you can only get to the beautiful blue heavens through them. Elizabeth and John (the Baptist) are sitting with them.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Anti-Gay Bullying

This article was posted today on a blog called "The Stranger" or "Slog. It was written by Dan Savage. The fact that this story is true - in America or anywhere- is almost beyond belief to me.

Anti-Gay Bullying Persists at School Where Seth Walsh was Bullied to Death - ACLU Demands.

You would think that a school district at the center of a high-profile, bullying-related LGBT suicide would do something about to stop bullying. But you would be wrong.

The American Civil Liberties union today delivered a letter to the Tehachapi Unified School District in Tehachapi California, demanding that the school take steps to combat the anti-gay bullying that cost one Tehachapi student his life and is still making life hell for other LGBT students in the district.

Seth Walsh, a student who endured years of bullying and assault in Tehachapi schools, hanged himself from a plum tree in his family's backyard on September 19. Seth's mother found him. Seth was on life support for nine days and died on September 28. Seth Walsh was thirteen years old. Wendy Walsh contacted the ACLU after her son's death because she wanted to make sure that no other LBGT students would suffer what her son suffered.

"We went down to Tehachapi and talked with Seth's family, with his friends, and with other students," said Elizabath Gill, Staff Attorney for the ACLU's LGBT and AIDS project, "and we found that even after Seth's death the school district had not taken adequate steps to address anti-gay bullying. Some anti-gay bullying posters were put out and one school administrator was scheduled to attend one anti-harassment training session."

Seth, who came out to his parents in the sixth grade, cited the verbal and physical abuse he experienced at Tehachapi schools in the suicide note he left for his family. Seth's mother reported the harassment to school administrators before her son's death - and not only didn't school officials stop the harassment, the ACLU's investigation found, teachers and administrators encouraged and participated in the harassment:

One teacher called Seth "fruity" in front of an entire class. At one point kids were calling him anti-gay names in the hallway at school. A school administrator was right there and heard it all, and turned and walked away without doing anything.

In the course of the investigation the ACLU spoke to LGBT students who are currently enrolled in Tehachapi schools and found that anti-gay bullying - even in the wake of Seth's suicide - remains a pervasive problem in Tehachapi schools.

The ACLU's letter outlines five steps - five simple steps - that the school district can take:
1. Have strong and clear anti-harassment policies and programs.
2. Take all complaints of harassment seriously and properly address them when they happen.
3. Provide ongoing training for students, teachers, school counselors and administrators.
4. Explain the harmful impact of harassment to students and staff.
5. Support Gay-Straight Alliances on campus.

The ACLU is calling on all schools to take the five steps. The ACLU is also calling for the passage of the federal Student Non-Discrimination Act (SDNA) which would add sexual orientation to existing federal laws that ban discrimination against students based on race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin. The SDNA would also provide LGBT students and their families with legal recourse against schools that promote or tolerate harassment or discriminatory treatment.

This is me now - when will this society wake up to this discrimination? To this violation of civil rights for only one group of our society? Ask yourself - would any 13 year old CHOOSE to live this life, to be harassed, bullied, called names? Would you?

Monday, December 13, 2010


Conceived in a scandal, born in a barn,
Jesus disrupts and disturbs fallow lives.

He offended his people by breaking their rules,
bringing not peace, but a sword

to vanquish the old ways, to unshackle the laws.
He was a dissident, an insurgent, a dent in the world.

Some who'd awaited God's final word
were disappointed, insulted, outraged.

There was no throne, just a stumbling stone,
no peace before or after that day.

Your waiting is ended this Christmas morn,
a soul choice is His unending gift.

He is here. All is changed.
Now in silence He waits for you.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What If There Was A Day

A coexist poem

What If There Was a Day

when nothing happened,
in between wars and elections,
storms, giant waves, quakes and funnel clouds?

Teams had the day off, strikes were averted,
traffic moved like a dream,
thieves and attackers took a break.

Juries were sent home and judges napped,
school children forgot to bully and fight,
theater lights darkened, celebrities tired of their capers.

Reality shows were in rerun, mortgage rates
and the stock exchange remained as the day before.
No one was born, no one died.

Newspapers had nothing to print,
talking heads stopped talking,
all media were muted and stilled.

What if the cadence and rhythms of the planet
spun in harmony and coexistence
for just one day . . .

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

C. S. Lewis

Yesterday was the birthday of C. S. Lewis, (1898) the Christian apologist, professor, author and theologian - best known as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia. I remember first being impacted by his book "The Screwtape Letters" as a teenager. It is a series of letters from a demon to his nephew, in which he describes living out a Christian life as a typical human being. I wanted to read all the Narnia Chronicles aloud to my kids, but I think we only made it through the first few. I am not a big fantasy fan, but I love the Christian allegory that Narnia respresents (Aslan is Jesus - in case you're unaware). The recent movies are spectacular and I'm glad they have brought Lewis's work back in the spotlight. Here are a few of my favorite C.S.Lewis quotes:

Miracles are a retelling, in small letters, of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.

Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.

What saves a man is to take a step. then another step.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.

A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"A Christmas Story" House

Cleveland's Tremont area is home to the house they filmed 1983's "A Christmas Story". Last time I went it was closed and I got exterior shots of the house. This time it was bustling with fans from all over the country. If you have never seen this classic tale of a childhood Christmas, tune in to TBS on Christmas Eve - it runs for 24 hours. You will see Cleveland's Public Square circa 1939 and get a child's viewpoint of Christmas. The house was mostly used to film exteriors and the rest was filmed in Toronto. If you live near Cleveland it is located at 3159 West 11th St.There is also a museum where you can see original clothing worn by the children, the original leg lamp and much more. Here are some photos I took today:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Coexist Quotes

Yesterday would have been the 85th birthday of Robert Kennedy. I love the spirit of this quote, but it also reminds us that what we've always needed is still what we need today.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another Reason to Like Betty White

"I don't care who anybody sleeps with. If a couple has been together all that time - and there are gay relationships that are more solid than heterosexual ones - I think it's fine if they want to get married. I don't know how people can get so anti-something. Mind your own business, take care of your affairs, and don't worry about other people so much."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Coexist XXX

A recent article in our local papers defines coexisting in the best way. St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church members joined the Turkish American Society of Ohio to have dinner together, and at the same time debunk myths about the Muslim and Christian religions, stereotypes that have been built over centuries. It was the first of several planned events, including studies of the Koran and Bible on a regular basis, so they can better understand each other's religions.

The Reverend Joe Kovitch said, "Gathering around a meal is sacred. We've lost the sense of having dinners with our own families because of fast food. Jesus ate with his community. It's very central to Muslim and Christian worlds. When you eat with someone, they cease to be different or to be the enemy. It really worked."

One of the things they already learned is that Christians say a prayer before the meal, while Muslims say a prayer afterwards.

The local paper's editorial stated: It is time to take a cue from the Muslims and Christians who are breaking bread together in Mayfield and rise above the bitterness and hostility that has enveloped our society.. . . Only when people cast aside those blinders of prejudice and bias will this society truly prosper...

Jesus indeed ate even with the most reviled sinners of the community to show his compassion and acceptance, as brothers and sisters, something we often forget when we say - what would Jesus do???

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Northcoast Weather

There is a lot of whining and moaning about the weather in northeast Ohio. True, we do have something called "lake effect" and there is a distinct difference in the weather from the east side to the west side - a distance of only about 20 miles. But I, for one, do no complaining. First, I think the weather keeps life interesting. I love the change of seasons. But, I also don't think it's as bad as its reputation. Case in point: These first two weeks of November have been mostly sunny and in the 50's! It's a fluke you say! Not really. There are a pretty consistent run of "flukes" every year. You never know what you're going to get. It's been 65 on Christmas and it's snowed in the beginning of October on green leaves.

I don't remember, however, so many flowers blooming in November. These photos are from my yard - this week! So there!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Composed - Rosanne Cash

I am a person grounded in reality. By that I mean I don't enjoy fantasy as much as reality (not as in reality shows however!) Of course, I love "The Wizard of Oz," but not "Lord of the Rings" so much. I don't read fantasy or science fiction, but I do love a good memoir or autobiography. If there is an article about a famous person I skip to the parts about their real life, not their accomplishments. I'm just interested in reading about how people live their lives.

I have read some horribly boring biographies and autobiographies filled with disconnected anecdotes and name-dropping. Some have left out any depth of feeling for their experiences which leaves you cold. Others are beautifully written - usually entirely written by the person, not with the help of another writer.

My two favorites so far have been Julie Andrews' "Home" and Jane Fonda's "My Life So Far." But this week I read another favorite - "Composed" by Rosanne Cash. I knew nothing about her, was not a fan, never heard her sing - but I'd heard OF her. I knew she was Johnny Cash's daughter.

I heard her being interviewed on NPR a couple months ago and found her eloquent and intelligent. She made me want to read her writing and I was not disappointed. She had wanted to be a writer early in life and she definitely is a writer - an excellent one. The memoir flowed with such beauty and grace, even if she was describing mistakes or painful emotions it was never pitiful or difficult to read. The beginning of the book has little about her famous father as she tells of her youthful urgency to forge her own life. Only later, when she writes of her parents does all of it fit together. What she writes about her father is truthful and touching, and she even includes the beautiful eulogies she composed for him, her mother and stepmother June Carter. But the memoir is most definitely hers.

Now I am listening to her songs and her passionate lyrics. We are only 6 months apart in age and the years of her marriages and children were happening at much the same time as mine, but beyond that it is just a beautifully written memoir I would recommend to any reality-loving, memoir-loving readers.

Here's a excerpt - I couldn't agree more:
We all need art and music like we need blood and oxygen. The more exploitative, numbing and assaulting popular culture becomes, the more we need the truth of a beautifully phrased song, dredged from a real person's depth of experience, delivered in an honest voice;the more we need the simplicity of paint on canvas, or the arc of a lonely body in the air, or the photographers's unflinching eye. Art, in the larger sense, is the lifeline to which I cling in a confusing, unfair, sometimes dehumanizing world.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

Since I posted their faces I guess I should have a follow-up. I watched most of the rally. It was silly, light-hearted and I think every one of the estimated 250,000 people on the mall in Washington DC had smiles plastered on their faces the entire time. No one looked scared.

I was excited when Stewart introduced the former Cat Stevens (now a Muslim named Yusef) and he began singing "Peace Train", after a verse or so he was interrupted by Ozzy Osbourne singing "Crazy Train" and finally he was interrupted by The O'Jays singing "Love Train". The mere diversity of music and people was enough to make the point that this is what America is.

Stewart became somewhat serious at the end of the rally, singling out the media for magnifying minor differences instead of what binds people together.

"If we amplify everything ,we hear nothing."
He went on to say:

"We hear every damn day how fragile this country is. It's a shame we can't work together to get things done. The truth is, we do. We work together to get things done every damn day. The only place we don't is here (meaning Washington DC) or on cable TV. But Americans don't live here or on cable TV. Where we live, our values, our principals form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Quotes for Election Time

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
32nd Us President

In reality, conservatives and liberals need each other: Conservatives maintain many lines that should never be crossed, while liberals destroy many lines that never should have existed.

Let history show that conservatives have held the line against those who would allow pornography and sexually destructive forms of behavior to pervade the nation. They have been the countervailing influence that has preserved the best of our free enterprise system against dangerous socialist tendencies, and they are the ones who have worked hard to ensure that non-sectarian religion remains a significant ingredient in public discourse.

But before conservatives get too proud about being the flying buttresses that have kept the great American traditions from collapsing, they should consider that liberals led the campaign to give women the right to vote, and were also the primary advocates for civil rights legislation. Liberals were the ones who challenged long-established racial and gender lines that had made many Americans into second-class citizens . . . neither end of the political spectrum has a corner on the will of God.

Tony Campolo
from the book "Red Letter Christians"

If a house is divided among itself, that house cannot stand.
Mark 3:25

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it.
George Bernard Shaw

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I am a teacher. He is a research scientist. He likes to make wine. I like to drink it. Here's the 2010 batch in process.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Walking Away From Church

"Walking away from church" is the title of an article in yesterday's L.A. Times by Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell. Here are some quotes from the article:

The most rapidly growing religious category today is composed of those Americans who say they have no religious affiliation. While middle-aged and older Americans continue to embrace organized religion, rapidly increasing numbers of young people are rejecting it.

Between 25% and 30% of twentysomethings today say they have no religious affiliation - roughly four times higher than in any previous generation.

So why this sudden jump in youthful disaffection from organized religion? The surprising answer, according to a mounting body of evidence, is politics. Very few of these "nones" actually call themselves atheists, and many have rather conventional beliefs about God and theology. But they have been alienated from organized religion by its increasingly conservative politics.

Just as this generation moved left on most social issues - above all homosexuality - many prominent religious leaders moved to the right, using the issue of same-sex marriage to mobilize electoral support for conservative Republicans. In the short run this tactic worked to increase GOP turnout, but the subsequent backlash undermined sympathy for religion among many young moderates and progressives. Increasingly young people saw religion as intolerant, hypocritical, judgmental and homophobic. If being religious entailed political conservatism, they concluded, religion was not for them.

I have seen this first hand. Something to think about.
To read the whole article click here:

Saturday, October 16, 2010


There has been a lot of press about bullying lately. Children in school are bullied to the point of despair - especially gay children. We have all read the stories. A local high school has had four suicides recently. Children and teenagers don't have enough perspective on life to realize that it can ever get better, or that life will go on after high school.

Where do children learn to hate those who are different? If you watch very young children at play they rarely even notice differences in each other. It is learned somewhere. There are churches that profess to be Christian - which means they follow the teachings of Jesus - who preach that gay people are evil, sinful, unworthy. Jesus certainly never taught that, but if there are children in that church, what message have they received? We all know that Jesus taught us to love each other, and our enemies. In Matthew 22:5 he says, "But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subjected to judgment."

If those children hear political discussions at home against gay marriage they have received the message that there are people out there who are less valuable than they are - otherwise why would they not be deserving of the same rights?

Dan Savage is a popular writer, columnist and blogger. He is gay and has started a campaign called, "It gets better". Many Hollywood stars have come on board with messages to gay teens that life does get better. His column this week (you can read it in Scene magazine) included a letter from a professing Christian who disagreed with Dan's previous thoughts on how many Christians encourage bullying by their beliefs.

He wrote,"The kids of people who see gay people as sinful or damaged or disordered and unworthy of full civil equality learn to see gay people as sinful, damaged and disordered and unworthy. And while there may not be any gay adults or couples where you live, I promise you that there are gay and lesbian children in your schools. And while you can only attack at the ballot box, your children have the option of attacking actual gays and lesbians, in person, in real time.

Real gay and lesbian children. Not political abstractions, not "sinners". Gay and lesbian children."

A final point: What do you call politians who waste millions of dollars of advertising by name-calling, mud-slinging, outright lies and half-truths against their opponents. I call them BULLIES. When will we reject this type of advertising? Why is anyone sponsoring it? Personally I am insulted every time I see one because these ads assume that we are gullible and stupid if they think we would blindly accept their ridiculous accusations. I am in favor of outlawing ads that mention the opposing candidates and only refer to what that person intends to do if elected. But, of course, that will never happen, because this is America and we love free speech. I don't believe ANY of them anymore. But children are looking and listening. These so-called public servants are teaching them how to be bullies.

Monday, October 11, 2010

National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day, a internationally observed civil awareness day for coming out and discussion about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. It is observed by the members of the LGBT communities and their supporters (often referred to as allies)on October 11 every year.

I am an ally. I have known and loved a number of gay people. I always believed that it is not a choice. One dear friend looked me in the eye and said, "No one would choose to be gay" and I believed him. There have always been gay people and there always will be. Nearly all scientific studies have found that same-sex attraction is not chosen. Yet, in America we continue to discriminate against and deny rights to gay people - our fellow citizens.

I have been reading a book by Tony Campolo - a renown and leading evangelist for the past several decades. His book "Red Letter Christians" discusses Christian views on current topics. "Red letter" refers to the words of Jesus, often highlighted in red in many bibles - the words that are so often ignored by Christians in favor of misinterpreting a few sentences in the Old Testament instead of heeding the new covenant that Jesus brought by his life and example here on earth.

The following are some quotes from "Red Letter Christians."

Most people agree when it is asserted by homosexual rights groups that if gays and lesbians pay taxes, they should have all the same rights as the rest of us. Right now, gay couples are denied some of these basic rights.

The US government Accountability Office cites 1,138 rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples that presently are denied to homosexual couples.

Almost 10,000 young men and women have been thrown out of the American armed services since this policy hwas put in place.(2008 data).

24 foreign nations, including Israel, Great Britain and other allies in the fight against terrorism let gays serve openly, with none reporting morale or recruitment problems.

Justice for gays and lesbians should be on the political front burner for Red Letter Christians on election day because it is impossible to tell people we love them if we deny them the basic rights we enjoy. And loving people - all people - is clearly preached in the red letters of the Bible. (See Matt.22:37-39

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy, they will sing before the Lord.
Psalm 96:12

Oh, how they are singing on this glorious October day. It's 10-10-10!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is it "1984"?

Last night on the national news there were two stories that made me wonder if we're going to be living in Oceania in George Orwell's "1984". One was a mayor in California that has outlawed drive-throughs in any business in the city because he has decided that people are lazy and don't walk enough. I don't know about you but I don't imagine that getting out of your car and walking 17 steps into McDonald's to buy your Big Mac and large fries is going to do a lot of good. Remember being a lone mom or dad with two toddlers in car seats? Wouldn't you still like the option of driving through to get a few McNuggets to give a teething child?

Well, at least we can still order the food we want - or can we? The second story was about the fact that McDonald's is about to make a policy that Happy Meals will no longer come with a toy unless there is a salad or fruit in the meal. I guess that one won't kill anyone, but come on - taking away the choice of what to feed your child and let them have a toy at the same time? I suspect many parents will be buying TWO Happy Meals - one with a toy and then the one without.

Don't get me wrong, being a teacher in an elementary school where the majority of children qualify for free breakfasts and lunches - I am the first one to say we need to offer them much healthier food - not Pop-Tarts and sugar-laden muffins for breakfast and pizza for lunch. But they are children and we try to teach good healthy habits. The stories above are making decisions for adults. Is "Big Brother" going to censor our every move in the name of health.

I think just about every American knows how to be healthy. We all know what a healthy diet is, and we know we should exercise, but I doubt that we will make those choices because of efforts in that direction by government officials or large corporations.

Education and options are important in this free society, but micromanaging American citizens lives ? Not so much. I never go to McDonald's so it doesn't matter to me - but I'm just saying :)....

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Julie Andrews

Yesterday on NPR I heard that it was Julie Andrews' 75th birthday and I smiled. Julie was my childhood idol. I loved her in Mary Poppins and then - THEN! - on my 10th birthday I saw "The Sound of Music" and it has been my favorite movie ever since (and that's a long time). Somewhere in the bottom of an old trunk probably lies a large envelope full of every photograph of her from every movie magazine in the 60's that I could find. I still think Julie is beautiful, immensely talented and the epitome of eloquence and grace. I wanted to BE her - and I still do :)
Her 2008 memoir called "Home" is much more than the usual celebrity list of anecdotes. It is a fascinating and touching memoir of her life right up until her big break in Mary Poppins. I do hope she writes another one and tells us the rest of the story as only she can.

In 2003 I had the amazing opportunity to go to Salzburg Austria on a choir tour.(That's me in Salzburg in the photo.) I had the excitement of a child on Christmas Eve anticipating the chance to walk where Julie walked during the filming of "The Sound of Music". I knew the places and the songs by heart. It was just as glorious as I imagined and of course, being in Europe, it still looked exactly the same as it did in the 1965 movie. I climbed the same steps that they sang "Do-Re'Mi" on and stood by the fountain where she sang "I Have Confidence". (There's a video somewhere of me at the front of the tour bus leading a rendition of "Do-Re-Me" too.)

I don't really believe in celebrity worship, but Julie... well, that's different.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Squaw Rock

Only a few minutes from my house in an area of the magnificent Cleveland Metroparks system is Squaw Rock. The trails around it are cut into hilly prehistoric rock formations. If you walk just a short way from the parking lot you can see the sculpture. A blacksmith named Henry Church sculpted it into the rock near the Chagrin River in 1885 to tell the story of the Native Americans, which he called,"the rape of the Indians by the white man."

Into the sandstone he carved a quiver of arrows, a giant serpent, an eagle, a woman with a skull behind her and a baby in a papoose. The other side of the rock has an image of a log cabin and the first capital building in Washington DC.

You never know what you may find on a short walk in a park.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Quotes for Perspective

Immigration is certainly not a new problem. Native Americans used to call it White People.

For all our conceits about being the center of the universe, we live in a routine planet of a humdrum star stuck in an obscure corner...on an unexceptional galaxy which is one of about 100 billion galaxies... That is the fundamental fact of the universe we inhabit, and it is very good for us to understand that.
Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer (1934-1996)

Now is the time to understand that all your ideas of right and wrong were just a child's training wheels to be laid aside when you finally live with veracity and love.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

La Convivencia

from Wikipedia

La Convivencia ("the Coexistence") is a term used to describe a postulated situation in Spanish history from the Muslim Umayyad conquest of Hispania in 711 to 1492 - concurrent with the Reconquista ("Reconquest") - when Jews, Muslims, and Catholics in Spain lived in relative peace together within the different kingdoms. The phrase often refers to the interplay of cultural ideas between the three groups, and ideas of religious tolerance.

Too bad this is ancient history...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Photoshop of Horrors

If at my age, I am still secretly comparing myself to images on television and in magazines I can only imagine what it's like for teenaged girls growing up in the age of Photoshop. Recently,Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz reported on a popular website for 18-34 year olds called Jezebel.com. Whenever the website discovers unretouched photos of celebrities they post the before and after Photoshopped photos. One of their first ones was a photo of singer Faith Hill on the cover of Redbook in July 2007. Connie Schultz wrote "The difference between the two images was not just striking, but stomach-turning. Editors had digitally poofed up her hair, deflated her cheeks, shaved inches off her left arm and removed her right arm altogether. They erased fine lines from her face, the protruding clavicle from her chest and the tiny bit of back flesh blooming over the top of her sundress. Her previously small waist was whittled to the size of a 10 year-olds."

Why? What's wrong with being a naturally pretty woman? Why do magazines that are supposedly for women make us all look at images that are literally impossible to live up to?

For awhile I subscribed to a magazine called "More" because it was promoted as a magazine for women over 40. Great, I thought. But after awhile I became really annoyed with a section called "This is what 40 looks like, or 50 or 60..." But of course the women looked nowhere near those ages. I thought here we are again - being told to live up to perfection.

My favorite chuckle of every month is seeing how Oprah miraculously loses 30 or 40 pounds for her magazine cover and somehow gains it all back for the taping of her show. Who are they kidding???

Schultz quoted Jezebel editor Jessica Coen: Remember that every day a young woman somewhere sees one of these overly polished pictures for the first time... and has no idea that they're not real...She may well have no idea that most waists don't really bend without a roll of flesh, that a 40-year old woman actually does have some wrinkles, that no mascara will make one's lashes long enought to tickle her eyebrows. What the girl does know is that the pictures show What is Beautiful. She thinks they are reality. And maybe she doesn't have someone in her life to point out that this is complete and utter bullshit.

Above you can see an unretouched photo of Madonna looking like, well, kinda like a 52-year old woman who is in good shape. The Brittany Spears photo is a small example of retouching. You can click to enlarge.

Monday, August 30, 2010

600 Things to Say

Somehow over the past three years I have had 600 things to say. So for my 600th post I'm just going to keep it light-hearted and share a photo of my son's unique wedding cake - all edible! It's a drum set, and I loved the cracked cymbal because I bought my wild drummer boy many replacement cymbals over the years (and drumsticks of course!)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summer 2010 Miscellany

We just completed our 8th annual bocce tournament to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. (Yes, we have an 80' court in our back yard) This is Nick, one of our scorekeepers. Through the great generosity of neighbors, friends and family we raised over $5000 this year - in the pouring rain. My husband and stepson will present the check at the local station for Jerry Lewis's Labor Day telethon. (You can see the coveted bocce ball trophy on the far left.)

These fellows were sitting outside a Starbucks, untethered, waiting patiently for their master. I don't know about you but I've never had a dog that would do that.

I enjoyed the fragrance of this gardenia bush all summer. If I brought one blossom inside it would fill a whole room with its lovely scent.

A hybiscus is the most generous plant I've ever had. It gives you new flowers every single day. It particularly enjoyed the heat and humidity of Summer 2010. (I did not however.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Every Living Thing Clings to Life

The house plant with one leaf,
the elderly dog who won't leave you
until you decide for her,
the trapped insect butting
against the screen, searching,
the man who awakens from a long coma.

Every living thing clings to life,
my canary, his legs could no longer
hold him, his mere ounces,
he rested his head on the seed cup
I placed on the floor of his cage
for as long as he could.

Monday, August 9, 2010


These are the lyrics to the song my son and I danced to at his wedding. I had played the song for him years ago and he remembered and chose it for our special moment - and it was perfect.

by Toby Lightman

He'll be enough to make you cry
He'll be enough to open your eyes
to all the little things that make this world better.
He'll give you love you never knew.
He'll give his heart only to you
and he'll make your life better.

So when he comes to you in the middle of the night
cause he's scared to be alone in the dark
you'll tell him everything is gonna be alright
'cause I will be your light, I will be your night
I will be that star in the sky who watches over you.

You'll tell him everything you know.
You'll tell him - oh, the places you'll go
so you can be a good man and make this world better.
You'll give him all the love you have
even when he makes you so mad,
keep in mind that he made your life better.

So when he comes to you and he's so confused
because he wants to give his heart to another,
you'll tell him everything is gonna be just fine.

And when the years are going by too fast
and he's growing up to be big and strong,
know his love for you will last,
even when he doesn't say it to your face
even when you have to put him in his place,
know that he's a love that nothing in this
world can ever replace.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


This is the poem I wrote for my son's wedding.

They started in the last season of childhood;
she in a red dress, he in a white suit,
a lovely Mexican flower, a boy with drumming passion.
The spring sun enveloped them in its light and warmth;
a harbinger before the changes, before the growing,
in a sacred turning only God understands.

Now, in this summer of committment they have brought
unguarded hearts, burgeoning dreams,
and Providence has arrived.
Surrounded by fragile hopes and tender mercies
the thread between heaven and earth is spliced into
this moment, tethered to the cradle of a united life.

In the sweet shelter of autumn, some days
will be hungrier than others, and on those days,
burrowing into their home, folding into each other,
they will lift up their eyes, palms raised and open,
and weave themselves together like a bountiful basket
as if they could hold love in their arms.

The winter solstice has not yet come,
but when it does they will not be alone.
Traveling through wind and snow, coming home to love,
they have found something as never-ending as the seasons,
for brought to each new awakening is the
fellowship in mere living, the survival of being loved.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

In the Fullness of Time

I recently read a book called "In the Fullness of Time," a collection of essays by women reflecting on aging.

This passage particularly touched me as I thought about my daughter, newly in love, and I shared it with her, hoping she will appreciate the lovely time she is experiencing:
The woman looks at the pink and sees that she will never be a bride or pregnant, and if she is lucky enough to fall in love, it won't be the way love was when she was younger, because when she was younger she had time. Simple, beautiful, abundant time.

These passages are from Vivian Gornick:

An aging face can never mean to a man what it means to a woman, as youthful beauty has never been a provider of the goods of life for men as it has been for women.

It is not, I believe, the fear of death that threatens but the fear that our lives are not being lived; or rather, that we are not living them.

A young woman needs to do nothing to gain attention and consideration. She need only be. Her unadorned existence provides interest and animation, in return for which she receives unearned privilege. For a middle-aged woman it is otherwise, as she watches low-level attention (and some unearned privilege) evaporate from her life as a result of no longer looking young.

When I was young, there always seemed to be a crowd of people (mostly men) waiting around to hear what I had to say. Today, when I'm out among people, I find myself either ignored or patronized. Men talk to me as if I'm an idiot. It's as though I've committed a transgression by getting older, and I'm being isolated for it.

Any thoughts Ladies?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Presque Isle

We just spent two days sitting on the beach at Presque Isle in Erie PA. When I mentioned our little getaway to some people I discovered that many had not heard of this place. It's only two hours from Cleveland and it is 8 miles of beautiful beaches. I spent many days there in my childhood and remember leaving at sunset with my skin on fire, tired, and sandy, but happy. I had not been there for many years and found that they had built huge barriers out in the water along the beaches to prevent erosion. The beaches are now in a sort of scalloped shape, moving inland where there are no barriers so it must work, but I wonder how odd the beachfront will one day be. Presque Isle is part of the State Park system. It is clean and each beach is organized with bathhouses and bathrooms and concessions stands - yet it still seems primitive and wild. The greenery is lush and the parkways well taken care of. And it's Lake Erie! One of the days we were there was so windy that the waves were 4-5 feet high. We played in them like children - who could resist? There is something very fun about jumping over waves and having water push you around and surprise you. I could just feel my dad lifting me over the waves while he got them smack in the face. Sometimes we don't take advantage of the truly free gifts in life - a massive lake on a summer day is one of them.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Wedding

It's strange that when I have more time I seem to blog less. Yet, the uniqueness of summer is that my brain takes a little vacation. It's not that I think less - it's that I'm thinking about much different things. The freedom to choose my activities, my schedule and what to focus on makes summer versus school year like living two separate lives - each one takes some adjustment time. (Retirement probably won't be as much as a shock as it is for some people.)

Anyway! This summer is filled with the anticipation of my son's wedding in August. He is marrying a young woman who has been so good for him and has been a part of our lives for ten years. So as much as it is a natural progression, I never could have imagined how consuming the anticipation would be - in a good way, a very good way. Each step towards the wedding has been emotional and joyous. I started crying on the day last October when my daughter-in-law-to-be included me in finding and buying her wedding dress - and I haven't stopped. It makes me ponder why weddings are so emotional.

For years I sang at many weddings. It was intimidating being such a central part of the wedding ceremony, and whether I knew the bride and groom or not, I would find myself getting teary - usually as the bride walked down the aisle, something I always had a good view of from the chancel area of the church.

I think that weddings represent hope. Hope in the future, hope for happiness, hope that new people will be born into the family and hope that love really lasts forever. Even for those of us who have experienced the heartbreaking reality of divorce, we still hope that others will escape it - especially our children.

So I may be distracted for a while! I have complete confidence that my son has chosen the right person and I look forward to the ceremony and reception - I just hope I can keep my emotions under control... I'll let you know. :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Coexist Quotes

I want to realize brotherhood or identity not merely with the beings called human, but I want to realize identity with all life, even with such things as crawl upon the earth.
Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948)

All men - whether they go by the name of Americans or Russians or Chinese or British or Malayans or Indians or Africans - have obligations to one another that transcend their obligations to their sovereign societies.
Norman Cousins (1915-1990)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

O Say Does Your Star-Spangled Banner Yet Wave?

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer - July 4, 2010

Its lyrics sound old-fashioned, yet "The Star-Spangled Banner" is riven by the emotions of that moment under fire - of resistance, of sacrifice, of the determination of a young country not to be yoked again to a European superpower and, above all, of victory.

It is redolent of all our wars already fought, yet to come or on-going today, in which young, brave, patriotic, committed Americans expose themselves to the ultimate sacrifce to preserve what is special and enduring aobut our nation.

So today as we mark the 234th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, let us recommit also to honoring America's sons and daughters who remain under fire far from home.

Let us contemplate what it means to sacrifce, together, for a cause. And the next time we have the chance to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" let us do more than lip-sync words forged from the heart under hire: "O! Say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O'er the lane of the free and the home of the brave?"

And as much as I believe in treating our troops with dignity and respect now and when they return home - I still pray for the day when no one will send their son or daughter off to fight in another country. THAT will truly be a day to celebrate. Maybe that day will never come here on earth or in our lifetimes. Maybe humans are not capable of truly coexisting, and PEACE is just a dream to IMAGINE, but I still have to believe in COEXIST.

Someday - let us read about war in history books - and not in the morning newpaper.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tremont and Visible Voice Bookstore

There is a wonderful area of Cleveland called Tremont on the near west side. The neighborhood streets are lined with interesting old homes interspersed with upscale restaurants, art galleries, shops, a lovely park and a great bookstore called Visible Voice. Last weekend we actually had a free night and we ended up in Tremont. It was one of those perfect June nights - a slight breeze, warm but not hot, no humidity. We ate a delicious meal at the Bistro on Lincoln Park on the sidewalk patio. Then we walked down the street to Visible Voice to a wine tasting. You can sit in the garden courtyard, sip wine, listen to music (this night a steel guitar) browse the bookstore and just enjoy the relaxing ambience. Visible Voice has an entire Garden Courtyard music series, poetry readings,and author signings. Tremont has activities all summer - art walks, farmer's market, cultural festival, even a civil war encampment.

Our neighbor Dave owns Visible Voice and I have done a poetry reading there (see above!)- but I would be a big fan anyway. So if you are looking for something to do off the beaten path that is always interesting (with great restaurants) visit Tremont - just one of the great things about Cleveland.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thank You!

I just want to say that I appreciate each of the responses I received to my "Taking Stock" post. About once a year I need to be validated I guess. If just a few of you are out there reading and finding some value in my blog that's enough for me. I'm sure there will be many other topics for me to express myself on as time goes on. If I don't post for a little while periodically don't give up on me! Thanks again to all of you. :)
And if you're just now reading the June 18th post PLEASE ADD YOUR COMMENT!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Stella!

This little girl has been my best gal-pal for 6 years. She was one when I found her in a shelter and brought her home with me. We had a tough first year due to her abandonment issues and adoption baggage - but after she realized (after many months of mischief) that I was indeed coming back home every time I left - we were cool. She killed two chipmunks this week (that I had to clean up), she's tangled with a buck in the backyard much to my horror, she still drags me up the street on our "walks" no matter how many devices and techniques I've tried, she has muddy paws and sloppy kisses, but I can't imagine a day here without her. I know it's cliche, but God made something very special when he created dogs. She makes me happy every day. So Happy Birthday Stella!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Taking Stock

My first week of summer has already gone by and I realized that I spent it lost in my own little world - writing a poem for my son's wedding, cleaning projects around the house, catching up on "General Hospital", taking walks, doing yardwork - in short, heavenly, peaceful, quiet, and stress-free. I thank God for every day. The one thing I did not pay any attention to is this BLOG!

This is my 584th post. I've tried to make each post meaningful and not a waste of time for my readers. There have been 116 posts of my own original poems and 31 COEXIST essays, among many other topics. But I'm wondering whether to go on. Is anyone still out there?

A couple months ago I noticed a huge jump in the number of hits on my blog on the stat-counter. I checked out where they were coming from and the vast majority were searching for Johnny Depp! I had one post about him being the sexiest man alive (duh) and apparently when people from all over the world Googled Johnny they ended up on my little blog post. I deleted that post because I want real readers, not celebrity seekers. Now the hits are greatly reduced, but that's OK as long as those of you out there are checking in. On the other hand, I have not given you much to check in on, now have I?

I have also been a bad blog reader. It became an overwhelming job to read everyone else's blogs every day or so, and maybe that's what has happened to all of you! And I don't blame you! What is the point of reading someone's blog just so they will read yours?

I guess I'm asking if this blog is truly worthwhile to any of you. It has been fun and challenging for me and also a great outlet for my self-expression needs. It has often kept me writing and thinking and keeping the old brain alive in the evenings. I want to continue to have a place to occasionally share a viable thought or a meaningful poem, I really do! Maybe just not quite as often. What do you think? (If anyone's still out there.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together . . .

just to have a laugh or sing a song,
seems we just get started
and before you know it
comes the time we have to say
so long . . .

Four years ago I advertised around town to start a writing group in my area. Every month for the first year between 6-10 people showed up at the library to critique each other's diverse writing projects and give general support. But the majority of the group varied from month to month until there seemed to be four of us who worked well together, enjoyed each others' company and were on a similar level of writing abilities. I decided to end the library group and the four of us started meeting in a variety of places. We'd send each other new chapters of our books-in-progress by email to review before the meetings. It was a beautiful thing.

Until Nancy moved away. Then there were three of us. We continued on - two girls and a guy.

Most of my evening activities are ones I enjoy but often don't feel like attending after a long day's work. But being with Amy and Dan was something I always looked forward to. We nurtured and encouraged each other through one novel a piece as well as other fledgling projects.

We named our group WWR - Writers Without Readers - existing in the hope that someday at least ONE of us would be a writer WITH readers. I truly believe that any one of us would be as happy for another ones successful publication as we would be of our own - and that is a rare relationship to have with anyone.

We have become friends, sometimes meeting and sharing our lives with each other when none of us had accomplished any writing the month before (because sometimes life just gets in the way of being a part-time writer.) We've believed in each other, encouraged each other, supported each other and spent hours and hours editing and reviewing each other's work. A good, good thing that is now coming to an end.

Amy is moving away too.

We met last night for the last time to share a few laughs and few tears. It won't be the same, but we're glad to have email to continue to send each other our work in the future. And if one of us experiences any writing success of any kind, the others will be rejoicing from wherever we are.

Thank you Dan and Amy for a one-of-a-kind group. I look forward to receiving your published books in the mail someday. I will always treasure our time together.

I'm reading Carol Burnett's new book so as I drove away last night I quietly sang - I'm so glad we had this time together......

Saturday, June 5, 2010


by Billy Collins

The way the dog trots out the front door
every morning
without a hat or an umbrella,
without any money
or the keys to her dog house
never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
with milky admiration.

Who provides a finer example
of a life without encumbrance -
Thoreau in his curtainless hut
with a single plate, a single spoon?
Ghandi with his staff and holy diapers?

Off she goes into the material world
with nothing but her brown coat
and her modest blue collar,
following only her wet nose,
the twin portals of her steady breathing,
followed only by the plume of her tail.

If only she did not shove the cat aside
every morning
and eat all his food
what a model of self-containment she would be,
what a paragon on earthly detachment.
If only she were not so eager
for a rub behind the ears,
so acrobatic in her welcomes,
if only I were not her god.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.
John Muir
naturalist and exploror

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

American Deaths:
Iraq - 4,404
Afghanistan - 996
Persian Gulf - 382
Vietnam - 58,209
Korean - 36,574
WWII - 405,399
WWI - 116,516

622,480 too many.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wise Words

Wine makes daily living easier and less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.
Benjamin Franklin

Friday, May 21, 2010

Look What We've Done

Did you ever stop to notice all the blood we've shed before? Have you ever stopped to notice this crying Earth, its weeping shores?
What have we done to the world? Look what we've done.

Michael Jackson - from Earth Song

Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers, not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve.
I Peter 5:2

The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel.
Proverbs 12:10

How many are your works, O Lord. In wisdom you made them all: the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number, living things both large and small.
Psalm 104:24-25.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Boneyard

Lonely tables and chairs suction
clusters of youth around them
as night comes, pulling them in
with brown bottles, tall glasses,
giant screens display frantic
human activity, blinking,
flashing numbers, talking
mouths with no words,
bodies multiply like mutant cells,
disco music forces itself into
your ears and causes the bodies to bob
like blond-haired engine pistons.
Stalker-looking men tell you
your daughter is beautiful
and you want to take her home
but you can't because she's all
grown up. As the night goes on
you feel older and older,
but the drummer looks at you
for awhile, he points and smiles at you
because you still love to dance,
and you know you're not dead yet.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Land of Oz

There were no poor people in the land of Oz, because there was no such thing as money, and all property of every sort belonged to the Ruler. Each person was given freely by his neighbors whatever he required for his use. which is as much as anyone may reasonably desire. Every one worked half the time and played half the time, and the people enjoyed the work as much as they did the play, because it is good to be occupied and to have something to do.
L. Frank Baum

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Coexist Quotes

The ultimate sense of security will be when we come to recognize that we are all part of one human race. Our primary allegiance is to the human race and not to one particular color or border.
Mohamed El Baradei (General of International Atomic Energy Agency)

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
Acts 2:44-45

The only way human beings can win a war is to prevent it.George Marshall (US army chief, Secretary of Defense, Nobel Laureate 1880-1959)

Monday, May 10, 2010


I was not too young to be a mother, but
too young to know how to do anything but love.

It was the day earth connected to heaven
by a female thread, and when it detached, she was mine.

Hours old, the kindly nurse said, it's ok, open the blanket,
unwrap your baby, look at your daughter.

I saw the blush of birth on her skin, pearls
in her fingernails, and sapphires in her eyes.

The trees outside were greening while we were away
in that secluded time spent out of time.

Twenty-nine years later I see birth stories on tv
and feel the bulge of my belly, the tenderness of translucent skin,

the tiny burst of blood vessels. I hear a baby cry
and my breasts tingle and pull and expand.

I buried my old life and she grew into my surviving,
and in my oblation I loved her the best I could.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


My little canary, Sunny, died yesterday. I knew he was leaving me but he fought for two weeks. His legs gave out and I was putting his food and drink on the floor of the cage next to his mouth. I love canaries because they sing so gloriously. I have heard that canaries are not supposed to live past 6 or 7, but my last one lived for 11 years and Sunny for 10. He sang for many years and then stopped. I am pretty sure he was silent for two to three years. I just thought it was his age. And then, two months ago he started singing again! At any time of the day or night he'd break out into song. I don't remember a bird singing at night before. So he gave me his "swan song" before he left. It seemed like a little miracle.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Kent State University - May 4, 1970

(Click to enlarge)

I graduated from Kent State University, as did my sister and my daughter. It has a lovely, idyllic campus in an almost rural area of Ohio. The middle of nowhere. I took these photos on a recent stop there. The events of that spring day in 1970 still seem unbelievable. I've been writing a short story about Allison Krause, a fictional account of the last few days of her life before she was killed by the National Guard. In my research I discovered an extraordinary young woman. A young woman who was kind, compassionate, a leader, and undoubtably would have made a positive difference in the world if not for that day. The story is history now, but still heartbreaking. Students speaking their minds - in America - the land of the free - gunned down with nothing more than a raised middle finger, an obscene word, maybe a handful of pebbles. Four dead in Ohio.