Category Archives: gratitude

The Solstice


Catalpa blossoms rain down, festooning the dirt with casual but royal elegance. Could it be the wind and flowers mistake me for a queen or even, a lesser goddess?

Evening primrose open their four-petaled flowers in such humble, yellow cheer that even a householder in dull forbearance can’t help but smile.

And look at the comfrey — always impressively stalwart — shooting its stalk straight up through the lower leaves of the rhododendron! Its huge leaves belie its oh-so-delicate flowers, making me think that Nature needs to make a joke now and then.

When the stalk inevitably flops to the ground, will the comfrey berate itself — demand a taller performance next year — start haggling with the rhodie now for more lasting support a year from now? We all know the abiding message, there.

At the cellar door, ferns volunteer in improbable narrow cracks, suggesting good will, a knack for survival.  Yet another lesson — ‘grow wherever you can! grow outside the plan! take up residence and thrive in the unlikeliest of places!’

Such extravagance, year after year, in the garden. How lush, how beautiful, how generous, and never with a demand for anything in return.

The first day of summer refutes my pessimism. It suggests possibility and reorders instinct and sensation in favor of the body — ah! dirt tumbling off the trowel! a wooden rake handle against the palm! the smell of blossoms and the sound of children playing. 

All I have to do is step outside.

[Is this the same person who dropped the ‘f-bomb’ on a neighbor’s landscape guy yesterday after storming out of the house to request that he stop using a now-banned gas-powered-leaf-blower? Indeed. You mean to tell me you are writing odes to catalpa blossoms today but were telling a hired landscaper yesterday to ‘use a fucking broom’? Well, yeah. After watching him aggressively yank the cord to wind up the blower practically in my face, it was not in fact my fault that I had to practically shout it at him, ‘USE A FUCKING BROOM!’

And, BTW, don’t you love this guy taking the high ground? As if my calling him a dick head (yes, I did that too) was more egregious than his aggressive, knowing violation of a new city ordinance put in place precisely for people like me?

I would call him a dick head again, but I’ll admit to some ‘spill-over’ wrath. There had been a series of disastrous phone calls to the hospital earlier (we’re talking mental impairments now, not physical), plus numerous calls to caregivers and c-pap manufacturers that were not full of fury and condemnation but nevertheless sucked time and soul from my day. By the time that now-illegal awful, awful high-pitched whine started up, I wasn’t having it.]

Happy Summer Solstice, all!
Peace. Peace. Peace (or in my case — at least the absence of cursing)

Well

Well, I might have shingles, the country’s gone belly up internationally, I had to order my sister a commode because she’s having trouble walking to the bathroom, and the sound of trucks beeping in reverse is unceasing, but there are iris!

And, unbeknownst to me: four regal and giant lions on a barely traveled industrial cut through behind the Needham Pet Co.


Discovering them was a delight perhaps all out of proportion to the moment — but I won’t argue with delight. Not now. Not ever.


Off to the doctor and then perhaps, the South Shore for a ‘girls’ weekend’.

A Temporary Guest

“Landscape has a secret and silent memory, a narrative of presence where nothing is ever forgotten.”  John O’Donohue (this and all following quotes from “Anam Cara, A Book of Celtic Wisdom”).


According to the ancient Celts, “Landscape is not matter nor merely nature, rather it enjoys luminosity. Landscape is numinous”.

To “consider yourself as a complete stranger … who has just stepped ashore in your life” is to realize that you are not “the helpless owner of a deadened life but rather a temporary guest gifted with blessing and possibilities you could neither invent nor earn”.

Have a great weekend! I am off to the garden center with a friend and not likely to have clean fingernails for awhile.

Anam Cara is Gaelic for ‘soul friend’.

Imagine peace 

Imagine peace. Such a refrain! A sewn pin from Liz in Texas renders the reminder tactile and lovely.

With the pin, came a stitched date: June 17, 2015. This, as you know, was the day of the tragic shooting at the Charleston Emanuel AME Church and Liz was one of the contributors to the “Hearts for Charleston” quilt (see side bar). The pin and date-cloth seem very at home in a sweet grass basket made in Charleston, don’t you think? There they are on a pile of shells gathered south of the city along with a wasp’s nest (also found somewhere in SC).

Look at Liz’s capable hand! Seeing her tiny, regular stitches reminded me of the pleasure of collaborating on our quilt for grieving Charlestonians last year. Making hope tactile while affirming friendships all over the globe is a powerful thing. Thank you, Liz, thank you and thank you – both for the gift itself and for setting a moving example.

My mad play with pix of villains, on the other hand, is likely pointless. But, look at that face — even if the stakes were low, would YOU trust him? With an image like that, you don’t need to evaluate his lame, contradictory explanations of recent blundering and partisan actions to conclude that the House Intel Committee’s work is done. Toast.  I went to the Mother Emanuel Church while in Charleston recently. It was drenched in sun and very still, in spite of a fair amount of traffic out front. I felt a sense of sadness being there and also care — I did not want to intrude. Sometimes even taking pictures can feel transgressive. Fortunately, no one came or went while I took the photos below.






I found all the shells on Folly Beach as the sun came up. K and I thought we’d have the place to ourselves, but lots of people were there — a military jogger and his handsome German shepherd posing for pictures; a rashy-faced photo enthusiast talking up his Facebook page; other tourists; a guy with a metal detector who reminded us of those funny nerds on “The Detectorists”. The pier’s criss-crossing supports looked like a row of herringbone stitch connecting the ocean to the sky.



Naturally Finn joined me as I took a selfie on the sunny staircase yesterday — he always knows where the action is! He kept looking up as if peace was just there, slightly beyond my reach or capacity to see.

Blessed be

Blessed be the infernal yard crew that inspires me to put Angelique Kidjo on full blast and DANCE for 20 minutes.

Blessed be the achy, arthritic hips that still like to move and blessed be the feeling of bare feet sliding across the floor in an ecstasy of rhythm.

Blessed be the gloaming and the rain that falls during the night.
Blessed be Blue Ribbon Barbeque! And a weight loss plan that lets me eat this plate load with gusto and still be on track (Weight Watchers; down 6 pounds).

Blessed be the child that is learning to listen to his gut (even if it requires a trip to the ER for fluids).

Blessed be SoulCollage for making the obvious obvious.


Blessed be the mothers that outwait, outlisten, outhope, and outflex the children in distress, even if it takes a strenuous chanting practice and a ridiculous amount of pacing.

Blessed be the husbands who know how to use chop saws and mitre saws and can measure properly and fix things: rotting things, leaking things, peeling things, essential things.

Blessed be the guardians, seen and unseen.

Blessed be the places we find joy.

Gratitude and drinking enough water 

 If I don’t make little check marks on my calendar, I don’t drink enough water. It’s that simple. (Half your body weight in ounces is what they recommend).   With that habit well in hand, can I apply the same method to much more demanding process of writing? I’ve even found a mother lode of stickers from when the boys were little. I’m going to give myself hearts, smiley faces, and stars for effort. Don’t we all need encouragement?

 And because gratitude is a habit too, one which wiser people than I have asserted can pave the road to happiness, I am (at last) keeping a gratitude journal faithfully (well for 11 days, anyway!). It is a five year journal and this is the fifth year. There are a lot of neglected weeks with blank entry after blank entry posing a kind of recrimination.

So, I’ve pulled out a couple of old calendars so I can backfill, which is to say, to be grateful in retrospect. Who says gratitude is bound by linear time, anyway? This will also offer the chance to be grateful for things that happened in the intervals.

For instance, this time last year I was dreading doing my sister’s tax return, a chore that was necessitated by successfully getting the government to discharge her student loans. The IRS treats discharged loans as income. So in effect, we got rid of one debt and created another. It would require a special approach to her return. Dread. But that’s behind me now, and I am so, so grateful.

Today I am grateful for sunshine and cold, brisk air after a rainy and grey Sunday. For a long walk with Finn and a friend this morning. I am grateful for Finn’s company as we revert back to the empty nest. I am grateful that two new books (one on S. Carolina during the proprietorship years and one on Yoruban religion) are supposed to arrive today. I am grateful for those of you out there who will actually take the time to read this entry!