Dec 6 2013

reverb13: day 6
reflections are a mirror
of impermanence


This post is part of Reverb 13:

Day 6: What precious things have you gathered in 2013?
Which memories from this year do you wish to keep with you always


This is a post I wrote a few months back
for my contribution over at Vision & Verb.
A memory of some memories, a day I will always remember:

Sometimes your see yourself first, and other times, you catch a glimpse of your surroundings. And the truth is, both are mirage.

I sat on the shore of this lake recently, and found myself taken back, to my youth, to years gone past, to yesterdays and forgotten dreams. Mostly, I thought about the things that haven’t changed.

I was there with my father, now 75 to my 50, him fishing and me reading and dreaming, just the way we did when I was a child.

It felt like all those years had never passed. I suppose the only difference was that I cherished the moment, more than I ever could have then, knowing now the value, and the rarity, of such a day.

I had no agenda, and we had no plan. The sun was warm on my face, a mid-October gift.

It was the kind of day to write stories about, the kind of day that plays itself out in quiet minutes ticking off on a clock that no one notices. The kind of day I’ll remember, forever.

And nothing happened. No fish were caught, no deadlines met, nothing of note was accomplished. And yet, it was everything and enough.

This lake, nestled in these mountains, holds bits of my heart from each of the times I have come here. I’ve come here alone, with my husband and our children and their friends, with our parents.

This water holds a lifetime of memories and reflections. And they’re different every time I look. I see grey skies and blues skies, water rippled and murky, quiet mornings clear as glass.

My dad and I sat and listened as leaves fell from trees, laughing at how loud a sound it was.

A sound that will always take me back to this place, an echo of love and light and time’s steady passing.

Our laughter is still out there, somewhere, bouncing back and forth between blue mountains, skimming the surface of this lake to dance with loons.

Next time I come I will only have to stop, and listen.

It’s all right here in this place that calls me home, again and again and again.

Nov 30 2013

cold hands, warm heart

The snow came just before Thanksgiving, making life feel a tiny bit magical and bringing us together, here at home, in the way that snowstorms do.

For the past few days I’ve been surrounded by family and food and snow and blankets and books and fires.

My body still doesn’t feel so good, but my heart feels wonderful.

Filled with love and gratitude, hope and happy.

A snow globe I’d be glad to stay in.



Sep 28 2013

birds of a feather

Sometimes, serendipity is a beautiful thing.

It was a long week, a tough week, filled with learning new things, lots of work and a migraine that just wouldn’t quit. In fact, it’s still hanging around on the periphery. Pfft.

But in many ways, it was just another week, and I survived and today I am going over to my parent’s house with my brother and sister to help with a home improvement project.

So, I got up not knowing what I was going to post today, feeling a little logey (a word of my dad’s that always cracks me up), and I stumbled across this post on my facebook feed. I went and read it right away, because trust me, you never want to miss debi’s words (seriously, go now and read), and her post resonated with me so deeply and as I was reading I remembered this photo and suddenly, here I am.

I am just a bird. Not even a rare one, just a blackbird on a pole looking up at that big sky.

And yet, I can fly.


Here’s to the birds.



(Thanks, debi.)







Aug 23 2013

to infinity and beyond



Count the blessings you’ve had to be grateful for this year.


Blessings. This is one thing I’m good at counting.

A while ago I saw a movie called
(with no spaces, just like that)

And while it wasn’t the best movie I’ve ever seen (though it wasn’t awful, either), I fell in love with this phrase and the idea behind it.

The idea behind it went something like this… “Happythankyoumoreplease,” is a way of looking at both the good and the bad and asking for more. “Don’t just say thank you, say ‘more, please.’”

And it fit right into to what I said the other day about waking up every morning and just being glad to be here, alive, for another day.

Another day to get the chance to say a funny little phrase: Happythankyoumoreplease.

So, count my blessings?

You bet I do.

I have a wonderful family, fabulous friends, a roof over my head, pets that I love, tea to drink every morning, books to read, chocolate, a very messy garden filled with life and lesson, good health, and also, you: the lovely people I’ve met through this blog who come here to actually read the words that never seem to stop pouring from my fingers.

Is my life perfect? Not by a long shot. That roof over my head has a leak in it, making a living as an artist is a constant struggle, and blah, blah, blah, I could make another whole list in this vein, just as long as the first one.

But I’m not going to.

I’m going to just say Happythankyoumoreplease and focus on the first list.

The good one.

The one that keeps me going when the second one tries to stand in my way.

Life is a rich tapestry of good and bad, light and dark, ugly and beautiful, joy and sadness.

And I am in love with all of it.

All of it.

That’s how many blessings I have.



This post is part of AugustMoon2013. You can find out more about the project here.

Apr 24 2013

the origins of cave painting

i leave you snoring on the couch
and wander off into other people’s stories

i call it escape and you have no idea
what i’m talking about

or why i envy your ability to sleep through
your own hurricane

and i wonder where you go in your dreams

some noisy bar
or a cave so deep
no sound can crawl inside

i can’t stop listening

my heart knows that somehow
this is your story

we speak different languages
and these hieroglyphics of sound
will remain here, on these walls

an echo of ordinary chaos





A poem a day for 30 days, in honor of National Poetry Month.
This post is part of NaPoWriMo. see more here.

Apr 11 2013


this room is empty save
for that ball of string
standing in one corner
looming tall and multi-colored
all knotty and criss-crossed
with dust and ever afters and
red might be for love but blue
is for everything else
and from a distance
it all blurs into beige
just the way I see your face
when i squint
in the sunshine





A poem a day for 30 days, in honor of National Poetry Month.
This post is part of NaPoWriMo. see more here.

Mar 27 2013

{scintilla day 15}


Tell the story of how you got the thing you are going to keep forever.


I have a house full of things. Being a very tiny house, the truth is that it is filled with too many things, despite all my efforts at discarding.

But the things that I’m going to keep forever live in a closet in one small box marked mementos.

This tiny matchbox-size sewing kit, made from construction paper and containing a piece of felt, some thread, and a couple of needles, lives in my desk drawer. It has been there since my son made it, probably twenty years ago now.

I’ve actually used it once or twice, to sew a button on or mend a hem, but that was a long time ago. Before I’d learned the value of something so small and tiny and unassuming.

Now, I understand.

And I keep it where I can see it, almost daily, to remind me.

There are no things that matter. There are no things we get to keep forever.

There is only love.

And if you have something that contains just one tiny
little piece of someone else’s heart, well,

then you have everything.




this post is part of the scintilla project. see more here.

Mar 20 2013

a whirlwind time
{scintilla day 8}


Describe a memorable experience that took place
while preparing or eating food


It was one of those crazy humid hot summer days in late July or early August. One of those days when the air just hangs on your skin like an extra set of clothing. By early evening, my family had gathered on the front porch because it was just too hot to be inside, and rain was on the horizon. My cousin, who was a year or two older than I, was staying at my grandmother’s house, just kitty-corner across the street. He had come over to spend the day hanging out with my brother, probably playing G.I. Joe or War or some such thing that the boys were always playing back then.

I’m sure that we were all drinking Pepsi, because that’s what we drank every night back then, one of us would walk around the block to the corner store and buy the eight pack of tall returnable glass bottles. And then most nights, to go along with it, there was either popcorn or some sort of candy. On this night, it was M&Ms, the biggest bag you could buy, divvied up between the five of us. (Me, my three siblings and my cousin). We held them in coffee cups, because you know, you always had to be certain that no one got more than their fair share.

I don’t think my dad was home that night, he worked trick shifts, so his scheduled rotated every week, one week 7-3, one week 3-11, one week 11-7. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to adjust to that change every single week. No wonder he was always falling asleep at the kitchen table…but that’s another story.

I remember little else about the evening until it happened. The wind picked up, there was thunder and lightning, and we sat there on the porch enjoying the show and the cooling temperatures. And then the rain came, and the wind picked up even more, and my cousin started to get scared and wanting to go back home to my grandmother’s house. We told him to stay put, and I don’t really remember why he felt the overpowering need to leave just then, but I do remember that he grabbed his M&Ms and hopped on his bike to scoot across the street at almost the exact moment that what I can only describe as a mini tornado came zooming down the street. I’m sure there is a technical name for such a thing, a whirlwind or dust devil, it wasn’t very tall, maybe eight or ten feet, but it looked exactly like a tornado funnel. And even though it was small, it was powerful.

I had never seen anything like it before that night, and I have never seen anything like it since. We generally don’t have tornadoes here in western New York. It traveled straight down the center of the street, and you could see leaves and branches and debris swirling around in its path. My cousin zoomed across just in time to avoid it and the giant chestnut tree that came crashing down right behind him, blocking my grandmother’s car in her driveway, but somehow managing to avoid doing any real damage to it, or to my cousin.

He made it onto her porch and looked back over at us and we looked back over at him and I’m certain that we all had the same mouth-wide-open, holy crap! stare on our faces.

He was okay, and the tree, though a major inconvenience, hadn’t actually destroyed anything. But his M&Ms were gone, and so was the cup. We all searched for it the next day and never found so much as a shard.

Apparently, along with her temper, Mother Nature has a sweet tooth.




this post is part of the scintilla project. see more here.

Mar 13 2013

church mouse
{scintilla day 1}


Tell a story set at your first job.


My very first job was cleaning a church. Every Saturday, my whole family (my parents and four children) would spend the morning dusting and sweeping, washing and vacuuming, emptying trash and scouring sinks.

Okay, I admit, my parents did most of the work while the four of us ran around in what can only be called the coolest playground ever. We played endless games of hide and seek, as well as seeing who could make the other one jump the highest by sneaking up behind them and yelling, “Boo!” This is where I learned to internalize my scream, never wanting to give my brother the satisfaction of hysterics.

We each had a job or two, and mine was dusting. The smell of Lemon Pledge can take me back there, to my childhood, in an instant. My mom Pledged the crap out of every piece of furniture we owned, pretty much daily, and the church got a good weekly dose as well. We had to dust all the pews. There were a lot of pews, especially if you counted the main sanctuary plus the chapel, and then there were two large, formal sitting rooms filled with big antique furniture with lots of scrolls and nooks and crannies. A duster’s dream. Or nightmare, depending on how you look at it. It just so happens that I like to dust. (And you be quiet, Mr. Mediocrity.)

There was also a grand piano in one of those rooms, with a large photo of a couple hanging in an oval frame above it. I have no idea who the people in the photo were, but I do know for a fact that their eyes would follow you wherever you went. Sometimes we made a game out of that, moving to every possible location to see if they were still staring us down (they always were), but other times, when I was alone in the room, it would really creep me out.

There were a lot of creepy places in this labyrinth of a building, lots of hidden rooms and dark corridors. The organ pipe room was the stuff of Saturday afternoon horror shows, but the creepiest place of all was The Tunnels. Down in the basement, way in the back of the boiler room, was a door that was always locked. Behind that door was a series of tunnels leading I don’t know exactly where, lined with stone slabs. It looked more like catacombs than anything, the kind of place you would expect to find old skeletons. The story went that it had been part of the Underground Railroad, and the slabs were used for sleeping and hiding out. That always shut the four of us up for a little while.

And there was the bell tower. We didn’t go up there often, though I think my dad went every Sunday morning to ring the bell. But he took us up there sometimes on Saturdays if we pestered him enough, though none of us had enough weight to actually budge the thing. That bell was heavy. Still, we had fun trying.

Later, years later, my parents finally decided to retire from the church cleaning job, and my uncle took it over. And then he hired me to work with him for four hours every Saturday, for $60 a month. You can laugh, but back then that was pretty good pay for about 16 hours of work, especially for someone who wasn’t yet 16. By the time I did turn 16, it was time to find a “real” job to pay for the gas I needed to put into my 1967 Chevy Impala, a car big enough for eight people, a car I paid $200 for.

But I still look back on those church cleaning days with fondness. When you clean a place, care for it, it becomes yours, a little. And for a while, that church was ours.

I haven’t been back there in a very long time. But that’s okay, I visit in my memory, often.

And there is a story about a mouse, but it’s a sad one.

I’ll just leave it at that.




this post is part of the scintilla project. see more here.


Feb 14 2013

love actually

“If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that
love actually is all around.”


When I was younger, I would have snorted at that,
but I have come to believe that it’s true.

Love is so little of what we’re taught
in fairy tales and romantic novels.

Love isn’t found in a box of chocolates,
although, I do love chocolate.

Love is being there.


Showing up, again and again.

Making coffee for him the night before,
every single day.

Filling the woodbox for her
because you know she loves the fire.

Holding each other up
when you’re both too tired to stand alone.

A pot of soup for your mom when she’s ill.

Teaching a child to read.

Opening the door for a stranger at the grocery store.

Returning the $20 bill the guy ahead of you just dropped.

Trying your best, always, to do the right thing.


I know that a lot of people aren’t fond of Valentines’ Day,
saying it feels forced and commercial and contrived.

And perhaps it is all those things.

But in a world filled with darkness and hatred and hardship,
a day to celebrate love feels like a good thing to me.


So Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you.
May you find love in tiny places
and kindness wherever you go.


And thank you, for coming here, for reading,
for the kindness and encouragement you’ve offered me.


And Happy Valentine’s Day to you,
International Man of Mystery,
because I don’t fall in love very often,
but when I do,
it’s with you.




(the quote is from one of the best movies about love, ever: love actually)