Nov 13 2010

barking at the moon

the other night i was on the couch and my daughter,

who lives three hours away, sent me a text.

“can you see the moon?”

it was the moon in this picture but about three hours later.

and that moon, the one that she sent me the text about,

hanging low in the sky like a perfect golden pendant,

was so worth getting up off the couch to see.

but mostly, i loved that she knew that,

and thought of me.

Nov 5 2010

oh life, it’s bigger

Bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to…
(lines from an R.E.M. song)

This is a story about my mom. My mom and my dad, really, two people who are bigger, in all the best possible of ways. The lengths that they will go to astound me. They are givers, my parents.

Recently, a friend of my mom’s died after a long battle with cancer. She was young, too young to go, only in her late 50s, but she went all the same. To tell the truth, I don’t really know all that much about this friend, E., I know that she and my mom used to work together, and after they went their separate ways career-wise, they stayed in touch and would occasionally go to the movies or have a girls night out.

Last week my mom told me that this friend was nearing the end, that it was just a matter of time. And she told me that she was going to go to the hospital and sit with her. And then the next time I talked to her, the next day, or two days later, she told my that E. had passed on, while my mom was there, at the hospital.

But she didn’t tell me this part of the story until last night, another day in which she gave up eight hours of her time to help me and my sister with a jewelry show.

Apparently, on the day before she died, my mom and E.’s husband were sitting in the room with her and my mom was wishing out loud that there was something she could do to ease E.’s discomfort and continued on to tease that maybe a glass of beer would help.

And let me just add here that my mom does not drink, I have only seen her have a drink once in my entire life.

E.’s husband mentioned that she didn’t like beer, but that she really loved strawberry dacquiri wine coolers.

That was all my mom needed to hear. She went out to the desk and asked the nurse if it would be okay to bring one in for E. The nurse checked into the matter and basically gave permission in an “I didn’t see anything” kind of way.

So my mom, who does not drive, went down to find my father who was waiting in the lobby with a book, and asked him to take her to the liquor store. The liquor store because my mom, who does not drink, didn’t realize that they sell wine coolers in the grocery store. And of course, the clerk at the liquor store set her straight, and then my father drove her to the grocery store, and mission accomplished, they returned to the hospital with a strawberry dacquiri wine cooler poured into a soft drink bottle. Just in case.

And so E. had her wine cooler, or a few sips of it, and it put a tiny smile on her face.

The next day, E. left this world. Afterward, her family passed that same bottle around the room and each one took a sip, as a toast to this woman they loved.

That’s my mom. And her bigger-than-anything heart.

She just kills me.

Oct 7 2010

lessons i’ve learned from
{marriage} about life

it really does take two to tango.

compromise is hard, but it’s almost always worth it.

a warm hug can instantly change your outlook.

a heart can forgive more than it can forget,
but it can forget more than it can live without.

sharing is a necessary part of life.

no one likes being taken for granted.

it’s nice to be taken care of you when you’re sick.

true love is made up of millions of boring, everyday
moments: it is your job to see their magic.

history repeats itself. it also keeps you grounded.

being polite is very, very important.

love is a covenant based on hope.

holding hands by the fire beneath the moon
is the perfect way to spend an evening.

you can never have too many smiles.

sometimes you both win. sometimes no one wins.

it’s possible to grow in more than one direction.

diamonds might be a girl’s best friend,
but clean dishes are her soulmate.

it’s always a good time for flowers.

love actually will keep you together.

a look can say so much more than words.

in the middle of the night, the touch of a toe
can be just exactly all you need.


Happy 15th, Mr. M.

Sep 16 2010

good windmill hunting

Okay, I have a confession to make: I am in love.

With windmills.

And yes, I know that technically these are wind turbines, and technically a lot of people strongly dislike them. But love isn’t technical, it knows no boundaries, it isn’t rational or logical or afraid to be itself just because some other people don’t like it. So there you have it. I am in love. I want one. In my backyard. And yes, I am aware that my neighbors may not go along with that.

I live in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, a beautiful, hilly area dotted with small lakes and fabulous vistas and acres and acres of farmland.

And recently, along the route to our cabin that just happens to be nestled up in those hills, a new crop has popped up. A crop of giant sentinels. And the very first time I saw them there, perched along the horizon, I was hooked. It was love at first sight. I drove over the crest of hill and there they were, spinning slowly, towering over the small town that up until then had been known for its grape pies. Now, at least for me, there is a much bigger attraction.

I have been to our cabin several times since that day, and each time have had the sudden urge to veer off the road and head towards these turning towers, wanting to stand beneath one and see just how tall it really is, what kind of sound it makes, to just be near it. You know, that love thing.

So over Labor Day Weekend, I had a ton of work to do. I know, you’re supposed to relax on Labor Day, but that wasn’t going to be possible for me. My family made a plan to go to our cabin that Sunday night, and I agreed to take a few hours off and meet them there for dinner. And then I made a plan to leave an hour early and go on a quest, to finally find the road that the windmills were on. To meet them, face to face.

Easier said than done.

I tried to look up the information beforehand, but I couldn’t really pinpoint the location. The area they are in is very rural, dirt roads, some labeled, some not, and I had no idea what the name of the road they are on is called, but I figured, how hard could it be? They’re tall, right? I’ll just follow them.

And of course I got lost because these are small mountains after all, and there aren’t that many roads that cut directly across and I had to wind up and down and down and around and backtrack and traverse seasonal-use-only, very bumpy, dirt roads, and they look a lot closer than they actually are because, oh my, they ARE huge, and an hour and a half later, I was finally on the right road, which I only knew because I could see one at the top of the hill just before me. At this point I was already half an hour late for dinner with my family, and not sure how far out of my way I had traveled, but I had my eye on the prize and no way was I turning back now.

I passed these on the way up that hill:

And I discovered, later, that none of these photos give you a sense of the scale, the majestic quality, the space and height and mystery, or the tears that were in my eyes. Silly to mist up over windmills, I know. Just call me sentimental. Or weird. Either one works for me.

That is corn growing there, just beneath them, corn that stood higher than my head.

And when I reached the top of that hill, they were spread out before me for miles, dotting fields of corn and meadows filled with clover and perched at the crests of hills. 20 or 30 or 40 all told. And the one I had seen from the bottom of the hill had a little dirt road leading right up to it. So I parked my car and I rolled down the windows and I listened, because I had expected them to be loud. But I could barely hear them at all.

And then I got out of my car and stood there, and I felt peace. That’s what it is, that is the draw. They make me feel peaceful. I walked my way closer and closer and I’m sure that my mouth was hanging wide open just then, although I was lucky and no flies flew in.

And then I was there right at the base of the one I had been chasing for miles and I could walk right up and touch it, and I could take all the pictures I wanted, although still, none of them convey how tall it really is.

And then, of course, just when I was having a moment, standing there staring up at the sky, my phone rang and it was my family saying, “where are you? we are waiting on you for dinner,” and I had to say goodbye my new friends, I had to walk away and leave them there to guard the valley, alone.

But one day soon I’m going back, and next time I’m bringing a picnic and I’m not going to answer my phone and I’m going to sit there on a blanket and listen as the wind whispers down through those blades.

And I might even sing to myself, a little.

But this time, I’ll try not to cry.

Jul 26 2010

the heart in the moon

This was the moon two nights ago. I was just about to go to bed, had just gone out to the kitchen to get myself some water, when I saw this outside my window:

So I put my shoes on, my pajamas were okay (no neighbors), and I went out to see if I could capture what I saw. This is close, although technically, it’s not a great picture. I didn’t use a tripod, it’s blurry, the moon is blown out. But this shot captured the mood pretty well, and I kind of like it.

I love that the moon is not the same every night, it changes as moods vary, auras shift, different spots are illuminated.

I thought about how love is not the same every night, either.

And about 26 really slow-exposure shots later, I had drawn myself a moonheart. The picture below is exactly the same as the picture above, same placement, same exposure.

Except that I moved my hand in the shape of a heart.

And yes, it is upside down, but here’s the thing: I drew it right side up, and I know that it is a camera-mirror thing, and I could have flipped it in Photoshop. But, the trees were still facing up??? and I couldn’t quite figure that out, which didn’t matter because actually

I loved that even though I had drawn it right side up,
my heart ended up upside down.

Plus I drew a heart using the moon as my pencil.

How cool is that?

Jul 22 2010

the shape of love

you didn’t have to sing me that song,
there were others who could carry that tune.

you didn’t have to open doors and whisper secrets,
i could have done that on my own.

you didn’t have to turn sideways in the mirror,
i could see your reflection, laughing.

you didn’t have to leak bright bits of sunshine,
they were there, in my forest, before you.

but still, i opened you just like a book
and read each word of your story.

you didn’t have to have such
a sad ending.

i would have loved you,
just the same.

May 22 2010

this is not for you

though it would be
if i could offer
you, accept

but instead

it sits here, in my lap
licking wounds
no one asked for

and you,
you turn away
muttering, a whisper

crazy half grin

i never hear
what you say
never ask twice

if i do

there is no answer
just silence that hangs
the air between us


the way change
rips through your face
just a thought


Apr 30 2010

what I keep forgetting
to remember

Days go by, and despite all the times I’ve reminded myself how important it is to stop and smell the roses, I still forget to do it.

I get busy, distracted, bullied by time.

I start out each morning with the best of intentions. I will be mindful of the moments, savor them, revel in them. I will keep my head up, open to the world around me. I will be a better me. I will make sure to spend time with those I love. I will not waste time with worry, or frustration, or anger. I will live life to the fullest.

And some days, I pull it off. I manage to feel that way, at least part of the time. Others days, it is seven o’clock and I am still working,
I have worked all day without looking up, head down, mind wrapped in my own thoughts, what has to be done, how long I have left to do it, how much more I can accomplish before I go to bed. And then it is bedtime and I am too tired to do anything but stare at the ceiling for a few minutes before I drift off to sleep. Too tired to read, even. And I realize that another day has passed in which I forgot to remember…

To literally stop and smell the roses, or lilacs, or lilies, or any other flower that I happen to pass by.

To tell my husband that I love him, and that I appreciate the things he does, like buying groceries.

To take care of myself. To stop and listen to nothing but my own breathing. Even if it’s only for fifteen minutes.

To look up. Outward, outside of myself and the tunnel my brain lives in to see what is going on in the rest of the world.

To be thankful to be alive, grateful for everything I have, happy to be here, in this day, this hour, this moment.

To enjoy the simple things, like washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, meditating on life as I go through the motions.

To eat food that I love, food that is good for me, even if it takes a little longer to prepare.

To sing when my favorite song comes on the radio. To actually turn the radio on.

To connect with my children, even if it is only a text message that says “hello.” To let them know that I love them.

To check in with my parents and my friend who is 84, for no reason.

To find something beautiful, or the beauty in anything.

To forgive: life, myself, those I love, and those I don’t even know.

To focus more on living and less on doing.

To just be.

That’s it.

I just needed a little reminder.