Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Maine Idea...Rest and Relaxation

Just returned from a week in Maine at the beautiful home of dear friends. We had a wonderful time, saw much of the Penobscot Bay area with its charming lighthouses, sailing vessels and the ubiquitous lobster traps, not to mention the lobster! We enjoyed a terrific concert of Brahms Violin Sonatas at the Rockport Opera House one evening, took a sunset cruise on a schooner where we were dazzled by the incredible sunset (it was Tom's birthday and the captain even let him steer for a few minutes!) We ate and drank too much great food and great wine, of course, but that's what vacations are for. Our hosts offered us every possible comfort. I must say, however, that Maine is one heck of a long way from Arizona! I could see that on the map, of course, but until you have spent all...and I do mean on three planes with luggage glitches and nothing to eat but airplane peanuts, you don't really know how far it is! Suffice it to say we were mighty glad to get there and ever so glad to get home. I'm grateful to live in a place I love so much that it is always a joy to return.

Here are a few lines penned while soaking in the beauty and peace:

Time in Maine

The bay, splashed with diamond dust in the morning sun,
rocks its skiffs on the ripples and licks at the smoothing stones.
This place, so sturdy, so green, hearty with independence,
gives the air a significance, a relevance to the endurance
of place, and everywhere the soaring trees proclaim
their fierceness while faithful lights guard the wide, wild coast.
Remote shores summon those who crave a quiet mind
to abandon expectation, to absorb hardship, to soften
demands and invite fresh eyes to invigorate again.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thoughts on Birth and Life

One might think it gets old, this baby business. Having given birth to four children, who brought forth nine offspring, who now have produced six, count 'em, six great grandchildren, it could become routine, right? Hah! I became the same emotional, weeping mess this weekend as with the first. Granddaughter Katie and her husband, Arash, early Sunday morning, gave us Fletcher, a healthy baby boy who already owns all our hearts. We are so grateful to have this new little life among us.

It starts the wheels turning about life in general and I find myself thinking about what the world will be like when he is a man. Can we think ahead 20 years, or is it way beyond our imagination? Has the world become ungovernable, humanity out of control? Are we a runaway train, headed down a track into a dark abyss? Sometimes it seems so, but who can live with an image so foreboding? We surely have problems, severe and overwhelming problems that don't present simple solutions. But creativity and innovation have always saved the planet just when it appeared we were bound to destroy it through our greed and stupidity. Maybe it is living on the edge, the possibility of doing ourselves in that is our silver bullet. Typically, we never fix anything until a catastrophe looms, or sometimes after...the horse and barn door syndrome. Call me simplistic, but when the evening news drags on me until I want to cry or scream or both, I take my glass of wine to the patio and drown myself in the red-painted sunset and decide, once again, that I will not be brought down by political bickering, sensational trials, world-class scandals or yet another oil spill. I will do whatever I can from my small place on the planet to improve the world...I will speak out, I will vote, I will write my heart out. But dammit, life is too short, and getting shorter, to dwell on problems. There are babies being born every minute who don't know what a mess we've made or that it will be up to them to fix it. Meanwhile, they need to be taught, carefully taught, that life is wonderful and joyous most of the time, and that they, too, can rise above the other stuff.

When Fletcher is 20, perhaps we will have peace in the Middle East, no American troops on foreign soil, a cure for Alzheimer's Disease and cancer, and a practical way of converting all our trash and garbage into clean fuel. Perhaps not. But, just as those of my generation have lived through terrible wars and complex dilemmas, his will find a way to make a life in an ever-changing world and, let's hope, make it better than the one we offer him today.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Just Listen

What do I need from you, you ask?
How can I help?

You can do so much,
but nothing much;
nothing much, but it is everything.

No strategies, theories and please,
no solutions.
Just listen. Just listen.

Why would you think you know
what I should do in a life
you have never lived?

My solution is within me,
we both know that.

What I need from you is
your full attention

so that I might hear
my own answers,
in my own voice.

If you always have a plan,
and always know what decisions
I should make,

I will have to stop 
asking you 
for help.
from "Sip Wine, Drink Stars"

Permission to use this poem has been requested by several group leaders as an affirmation for how they will work with one another. I've even been contacted by a therapist in London who has used it in recovery workshops. I'm glad that it resonates. In our desire to help and/or to take away a loved one's pain, we are quick to offer solutions, and in doing so to miss the real need...the need to be heard. What a gift it is to simply sit with the problem or the pain and be willing to offer empathy and love instead of quick fixes. It takes a very strong person to just listen.

Friday, July 1, 2011


Where once I was a deep canyon of joy, a receptacle
for happiness in great billowing armloads,
I now hold it in a rose-rimmed china cup,

drinking quickly, savoring the delicate sips,
knowing the sweetness is a passing pleasure,
like your hand upon my face.

You are teaching me to want less and less, as you
have always done, so that now I want but one thing,
the one you cannot grant me, nor can the stars.

So many things I need to be true and not spun
from spider silk, things I cannot see clearly
looking through the cracked glass in a window

where it is always dusk. How can you know
what is real if I do not? Is our story still emerging
or is it a tapestry woven of finished threads?

I watch the silver stream of memories
pass too swiftly for your hand to dart out
and grab them as they go by.

Five Totally Trivial Things I Find Annoying, Disturbing and/or, IMHO, Unworthy of Space on the Planet

1.      Anything that comes packaged in a “clam shell” that isn't a clam! With all the regulations the government has devised to keep us safe, how has this lethal, maniacal packing weapon been allowed to exist? My sanity is hanging by a thread the time entry is gained, I’m ready to launch it through the nearest window.

2.      Stores or restaurants who can’t spring for a $1.00 hook for the back of the restroom stall door so women can hang their purses instead of putting them on the floor.

3.      Scary TV shows such as, but not limited to, “Toddlers and Tiaras” and “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant.” I mean, come on people!

4.      Those little labels on fruits and vegetables. I picked one out of my salad last night! In addition to its bar code, it said “tomato.” Duh!

5.      Wrinkle Cream commercials where the model is 22. I want to smack her!

Okay, I feel better since I got that off my chest! What’s on your list?