Friday, December 25, 2009

Day 25, Merry Christmas

Christmas, circa 1972

That's me on the floor in the red dress.
I loved that red dress. It was velvet and bright red.

May your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmas wishes come true!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 23 A Look Back

The holidays are hard. It's not easy to make everyone happy. There is too much pressure to make it perfect. Too much stress and not enough time. Too much of everything. I feel like I'm barely keeping it together, ready to burst into tears or run for the hills at any moment. I want my kids to experience the magic I remember from childhood. I'm sure my parents must have been under the same kind of pressure, but they made it look easy.

I never knew.

I hope my kids don't see the cracks. I hope they remember the miracles. I'll take a minute here and now to remember the best moments from this year. The ones that make me smile the hardest. The ones that help me keep it together for just a minute longer....

Merry Christmas to you all and may 2010 be as bright and shiny as a new penny!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 21, Morning Sky

I live my life in growing orbits,
which move out from the things of this world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last,
but that will be my attempt.
I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,
and I have been circling for a thousand years.
And I still don't know if I am a falcon,
or a storm, or a great song.

--Rainer Maria Rilke (tr. Robert Bly)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 19

Impatiently waiting . . . .

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 18

1 week until the old man arrives . . . the stockings are hung by the chimney with care and two little boys had better beware! Best behavior!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 17: The Light of Friendship

I joined this challenge today. A photo from the archives and gratitude for the friendships that sustain me. . .

" Light and darkness. Darkness makes us feel that we are nothing and can do nothing, that we are useless. Light makes us feel that we are everything, that we can do everything, that we can become everything. " --Sri Chinmoy

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December Views, 9

Lunch with a friend = $16
Parking and coffee in Montclair = $10
Seeing the world through her eyes = priceless

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Day 7

The New York Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show
my favorite thing to do every year to get in the holiday spirit

Now in its seventeenth year, visitors to the Holiday Train Show get a birds-eye view of nearly 150 miniaturized five borough landmarks (including the Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Terminal, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the Bronx's own Yankee Stadium) that are brilliantly recreated entirely from natural materials like twigs, seeds, tree bark, and berries. More than a dozen model trains, from late-1800s steam engines to modern high-speed passenger trains, make their way throughout the recreated landscape.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December Views, 4, 5, and 6

Away for a long weekend so I have to lump them all together . . .




Thursday, December 3, 2009

Day 3

I had to share a little piece of this gorgeous day. It's almost 70 degrees here in New Jersey today. A small gift from Mother Nature before the cold of winter. Blue sky, bright sun, happy day.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Dear Evan,

Happy Birthday, my beautiful boy. You are eleven years old today. It's hard to believe that it has been eleven years since you were born. I remember so clearly the moment you arrived in this world and Doctor DeGraaf said, "It's a boy!" I cried when I finally held you and saw how perfect you were. You looked like an eskimo baby, everyone said so. And you were so good. You didn't cry much. You ate and slept when you were supposed to. I couldn't stop staring at you. I memorized every hair on your head.

You have grown and changed, but some things remain the same. You have such a sweet, sensitive nature. You are compassionate and caring, always hugging my friends, remembering to be polite and courteous, thankful when you receive something; such a gentleman. I hope you will always be a gentle man.

You are smart--a voracious reader, always with your nose in a book. You are good at math and spelling and science, it all seems to come naturally to you. And you seem to enjoy learning, you are curious and interested in the world around you which is a wonderful quality.

You are creative. I love to watch you draw. Your doodles are hilarious and you have filled notebook after notebook with your creations. I never want to throw any of them away, even the tiniest scraps of paper I save because they were drawn by you.

You are a loving brother. I know every kid fights with their siblings sometimes, but you go out of your way to include Charlie and to be kind to him most of the time. You enjoy being with your little brother and take time for him. I hope you will always be close. And you are a respectful and sweet son. I love that you will still cuddle with me, that you will still kiss me goodbye in front of the school, hold my hand when we are walking somewhere, and want me to sing to you before you fall asleep. This will all change one day soon, but I think you will always be soulful and kind. I hope so.

I sit here on your eleventh birthday and wish on your candles as you blow them out: there will be times when you are met with disappointment instead of success. Life won’t always turn out the way you want. This is something we all face, but instead of letting these things get you down, push on. Accept disappointment and learn to persevere, to pursue your dreams despite pitfalls. Learn to turn negatives into positives. Life is a journey. Make it a journey of happiness, of constant learning, of continual improvement, of love.

And most of all, love yourself. While others may criticize you, learn not to be so hard on yourself, to think that you’re ugly or dumb or unworthy of love--but to think instead that you are a wonderful human being, worthy of happiness and love--and learn to love yourself for who you are.

That is what I wish for you today. I just want you to know how proud I am to be your mother.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dear NaBloPoMo,

Just wanted to say thank you. Tomorrow is our last day together, and as it is also my son's birthday, I'll want to blog about him tomorrow. But today, it's all about you--how you have taught me things about myself, like how to stretch and push and dig deep to write every day. How it wasn't easy; some days it was really hard to think of even a single word, but that it felt so good to try. It felt great to accomplish something, even if I had to borrow words from someone else here and there. And it was fun to take more photos knowing I'd need them to complete you. How much I like seeing my images here and learning more about my camera and my computer and the visual effects I can create. Thank you for your patience, 24-hours each day to complete my "assignment"! And your persistence, staring at me from your little space, gently reminding me that I needed to fill your pages.

It's been an eye-opening, heart-widening experience, one I think I would try again next November. I hope that I am a better writer, a better blogger at least, and a better person for having stretched my wings this way to fly.

Thank you. It's been a fine month.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


If you place a fern
under a stone
the next day it will be
nearly invisible
as if the stone has
swallowed it.

If you tuck the name of a loved one
under your tongue too long
without speaking it
it becomes blood
the little sucked-in breath of air
hiding everywhere
beneath your words.

No one sees
the fuel that feeds you.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Day After


She said she collects pieces of sky,
cuts holes out of it with silver scissors,
bits of heaven she calls them.
Every day a bevy of birds flies rings
around her fingers, my chorus of wives,
she calls them. Every day she reads poetry
from dusty books she borrows from the library,
sitting in the park, she smiles at passing strangers,
yet can not seem to shake her own sad feelings.
She said that night reminds her of a cool hand
placed gently across her fevered brow, said
she likes to fall asleep beneath the stars,
that their streaks of light make her believe
that she too is going somewhere. Infinity,
she whispers as she closes her eyes,
descending into thin air, where no arms
outstretch to catch her.

by Lisa Zaran

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks Giving

Today I give thanks for many things:

a successful surgery for my boy
the graceful hands of the doctor who took such care
the kind nurses who walked us through, made us laugh and kept us calm
the love and support from near and far


family and all that it means: joy, pain, laughter, hurt, anger, bewilderment, kindness, fun, hilarity, support, patience, understanding--the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between. I am blessed to be a part of mine.

friendship. I have amazing women in my life who give me things I didn't know I was missing.



shelter, food, water, clothing -- the basic things that so, so many people do not even have. I cannot believe how lucky I am to have the things I do.
I know that.

I give thanks for all of this.

Not just today, but every day.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In preparation . . .

for a very grateful tomorrow, I'm feeling the need for silence here today.

For now, just listen to this and dream. . . .


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Love You the Reddest


"... I love you the reddest!
I love you the color of the sky
before it blazes into night.
I love you the color of a leopard's eyes
when it prowls through the jungle,
and the color of a campfire at the edge of the flame.
A wide open hug. The swirl of a magic cape.
The thunder of a shout."

--Barbara Joosse, I Love You the Purplest

Monday, November 23, 2009

Exquisite Corpse

Untitled/Untitled/ Rooted, 2009, by artists: Agnes Debethune (Jersey City), Alaine Becker (South Orange), and Leah K. Tomaino (Randolph) Graphite, collage, watercolor, chalk, pastel crayon, fiber, acrylic paint on paper Courtesy of the artists and the Paul Robeson Galleries, Rutgers University

I cannot wait to see this exhibit at the Paul Robeson Gallery. If you’re not familiar with the term, Exquisite Corpse, here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

"The technique was invented by Surrealists and is similar to an old parlour game called Consequences in which players write in turn on a sheet of paper, fold it to conceal part of the writing, and then pass it to the next player for a further contribution. Surrealism principal founder André Breton reported that it started in fun, but became playful and eventually enriching. In a variant now known as picture consequences, instead of sentences, portions of a person were drawn.

Later the game was adapted to drawing and collage, producing a result similar to children’s books in which the pages were cut into thirds, the top third pages showing the head of a person or animal, the middle third the torso, and the bottom third the legs, with children having the ability to 'mix and match' by turning pages. It has also been played by mailing a drawing or collage — in progressive stages of completion — to the players, and this variation is known as 'exquisite corpse by airmail', apparently regardless of whether the game travels by airmail or not.

The name is derived from a phrase that resulted when Surrealists first played the game, 'Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau.' ('The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine.')"

For this exhibit, 92 local artists were invited to play the game by mail, like a chain letter. The starting point was a 30-by-22 inch sheet of paper folded in thirds. One artist did the top, another the middle and the last did the bottom third. Little marks left at the crease of the paper told the next artist where his or her predecessor had left off. The artists had 2 weeks to complete their sections and none of them saw the finished product until the show opened last Thursday.

I can't wait to see what they did.

And I want to play the game, don't you??

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another Surgery

"My baby had surgery today. We had a two hour wait in the surgical holding room with him before the doctor and anesthesiologist came to talk to us. He was so brave, but toward the end of the long wait he started to cry and said he just wanted to go home. I didn't blame him, I wanted to go home too. But we had to put on a smile and tell him that it would all be over soon and we could go home together. It is absolute torture watching your child get hooked up to an IV and monitors, put that little mask over his face and drift off. Then to walk away and wait for the moment the doctor comes back to tell you it is all (hopefully) okay. . . . I am so grateful C is okay and that it wasn't serious. I feel such compassion for anyone who has a child with a serious illness. To have to be in a hospital all the time, experiencing that fear and helplessness, I don't know if I have the strength--and I hope I never have to find out. It was also difficult on a second level because his surgeon works out of the same hospital where I had all 4 procedures when I lost the babies, so it brought me back to some dark places that were not easy to forget as we sat there in those same hallways and rooms. I couldn't help but remember my own terror as I was wheeled into that cold, bright operating room, staring up at those weird sci-fi machines, listening to the noises, trying not to feel my heart beating so hard it felt like it was ripping out of my chest. I was so grateful when they let me go into the OR with C so that he wouldn't be alone with all those strange masked faces staring down at him as he fell asleep; grateful mine was the familiar face he was looking at as he drifted off. As an adult it was bad enough to go through that alone, but if I had known my child was going to have to be wheeled away from me to face that I would have clung to his gurney as they pushed him down the hall. Thank goodness they have compassion for mothers and children."

Digging into the archives from almost exactly a year ago I reread what I wrote about C's surgery last year. He's going back on Tuesday to have the same procedure done again and I am grateful for knowledge. For the knowledge that we are using the same surgeon and we trust him with our child--he did a good job last year and we know he will take the same care this time. Grateful that this time we know C is allergic to latex so he won't suffer the swelling and discomfort that he did last year because we didn't know. Grateful that we know what to expect and while we'll still have anxiety just because it's surgery and anesthesia, we know the procedure and we know the timing and so some of the fear factor will be alleviated by that knowledge. Grateful that we know our son is healthy and strong and brave and he'll be just fine. Again.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friendship Bread

Amish Friendship Bread is more than a recipe--it's a way of thinking. In our hi-tech world almost everything comes prepackaged and designed for instant gratification. So where does a recipe that takes ten days to make fit in? Maybe it's a touch stone to our past--to those days not so very long ago when everything we did took time and where a bread that took ten days to make was not as extraordinary as it seems today.

I remember my mother and her friends passing bags of friendship bread back and forth when I was a kid. I associate the smell of yeast and cinnamon and sugar with this bread. It reminds me of the best parts of my childhood, of feeling warm and loved.

It reminds me of sustenance and the way bread feeds us and nourishes us. Sometimes when there is nothing else, evan just a piece of bread will go a long way for someone who is hungry.

But most of all, it reminds me of friendship between women. Women who lovingly share this bread with the other women in their lives. Who share it in order to spread good cheer and love and extend a hand to someone who might be needing it. To say be well or I'm sorry or I love you.

It reminds me of hope. And help. And the very best parts of life.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gratitude Thursday

It's the last Thursday before Thanksgiving, so I'll pause to give thanks again tonight.

Grateful for music that keeps me sane. There are so many songs that make me happy, make me think, make me melt, make me cry. Make the soundtrack that I live by. This is the one that is doing it for me today. I hadn't heard it in so so long and when it came on the radio I almost wept for joy, hearing it again and realizing how much the lyrics resonate with me.

Grateful for words that inspire me. There are so many writers--poets, novelist, essayists, and bloggers who give me a reason to keep reading, keep writing, keep looking for the words that will tell my story, I couldn't possibly list them all, but these are the words I posted on my wall recently, to remind me:

The Woman in the Ordinary
by Marge Piercy

The woman in the ordinary pudgy downcast girl
is crouching with eyes and muscles clenched.
Round and pebble smooth she effaces herself
under ripples of conversation and debate.
The woman in the block of ivory soap
has massive thighs that neigh,
great breasts that blare and strong arms that trumpet.
The woman of the golden fleece
laughs uproariously from the belly
inside the girl who imitates
a Christmas card virgin with glued hands,
who fishes for herself in other's eyes,
who stoops and creeps to make herself smaller.
In her bottled up is a woman peppery as curry,
a yam of a woman of butter and brass,
compounded of acid and sweet like a pineapple,
like a handgrenade set to explode,
like goldenrod ready to bloom.

Grateful for so much, but these will have to do for now.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Just a Bowl

An ordinary bowl;
a piece of history
no one else wanted.

Eagerly I took it
for I saw a bit of myself
there, in its deep interior

on the outside

open to possibility
on the inside

yet still

certainly best
when filled
to the brim

An ordinary bowl,
not quite.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Some Trees

These are amazing: each
Joining a neighbor, as though speech
Were a still performance.
Arranging by chance

To meet as far this morning
From the world as agreeing
With it, you and I
Are suddenly what the trees try

To tell us we are:
That their merely being there
Means something; that soon
We may touch, love, explain.

And glad not to have invented
Some comeliness, we are surrounded:
A silence already filled with noises,
A canvas on which emerges

A chorus of smiles, a winter morning.
Place in a puzzling light, and moving,
Our days put on such reticence
These accents seem their own defense.

John Ashbery