Category Archives: gratitude

And it’s a “No”

How fortuitous to be watching the Ladies Short Program figure skating last night before and after I opened a polite rejection email from a literary agent! (“Ladies” short program — really? What do they think it is — 1962?)

But there the athletes are — in their bejeweled leotards, the opening bars of music swelling, years (and years!) of practice and competition behind them as they take a breath and GO!

The routine starts well enough. They seem to have the requisite speed for the triple axel, but then something happens — a failure of nerve, insufficient rotation — and boom! – down they go! It’s shocking and disappointing every time.

But what’s really remarkable — and it impresses me EVERY TIME — is how these professionals get right back up. They get right back up and finish their routine — a program with more jumps, no less.

So I got dinged. Not only that, but it was boiler plate without a whiff of feedback. I knew engagement was a long shot, but I’ll admit to expecting a little more substance in the response.

Not a fair expectation, mind. She’s entitled to the convenience of being blandly polite. Literary agents have to write a lot of these emails, after all.

Disappointment reigned for the evening. Slowed my snacking for a bit. But I tell you — watching those skaters get up and finish their routines after a catastrophic tumble filled me with new appreciation.

And guess what? Nothing’s really changed. I’m still researching points of interest — (Charlotte Bull’s date of birth and when she married John Drayton; the plot lines of the play mounted at the Queen Street theatre in 1737), still writing new passages and revising old ones. In other words — making slow but discernible progress.

So! Onward and upward! It’s back to winter here. Hail earlier. Snow predicted for later.

Wow and wow

First wow : I was the lucky winner of Deb Lacativa’s birthday lottery. My selection of “precious bits” and thread came in a crocheted pouch — didn’t expect that! I haven’t purchased any of Deb’s cloth in a long time (or much cloth at all these days) and I’ve never used the magic threads, so I’m psyched!

Whole worlds live in some of these scraps.

Using even a little bit of this fabric elevates a composition, so how luscious would it be to construct an entire house with them? Imagine!

The second wow : the weather. You cannot believe how the wind and rain swept through here last night. It pounded and blew with a furious insistence that seemed to express the mood of a nation anticipating the Mueller indictments. I couldn’t sleep, so I padded out in the downpour around midnight to clear the sewer grate, weirdly happy to be reminded of my mammalian place in this world. The elements. A bathrobe getting saturated. Then I made popcorn and watched TV until two. Distraction is something to feel grateful for as well. Nearly every square foot of the backyard has a fallen branch in it — some moderate-sized and some small, but everywhere!

Peace is a Leaf Sent round the World

Peace is muscular and requires postage. Without facts, messages of peace are gauzy and limp and when espoused without action, they might as well serve as tombs to defeat. But peace upheld by informed citizenry and expressed by those willing to place their hearts in the hands of the world, shines and leads. Sinewy and generous, that kind of peace has the capacity to inspire and uplift us, even now when so much else sends us in the other, darker direction.

Liz Ackert of Texas is teaching me these things. One time contributor to the Hearts for Charleston Quilt, creator of the Peace Pin Project and now, the conduit for Peace Objects Extraordinaire, her work to advance world-wide peace is robust and by the way, lovely. Both conduit and creator, she is keeping her friends around the world focused on “Yes” — no easy task.

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This beautiful leaf was crafted in Australia by Barry Smith. You can read more about him and it on Liz’s blog, Mo’s blog and at the artist’s blog.

Liz sent one of these leaves to each of the Hearts for Charleston quilters, reconnecting us in a kind of devotional and aspirational network. It feels good to revive that group specifically. It feels good to be connected, generally. And, as with the Peace Pin project, it feels good to be warmed by Liz’s shining example of what I’ll call ‘aesthetic activism’.
When I think about Naomi Klein’s wise thesis that it is not enough to resist anymore, I’m often stymied. Saying NO takes so much energy! There seems to be more and more to say NO to! Where is the way out or forward and where’s the energy to go there? To define and uphold YES?

Liz reminds me that positivism can begin at home. She reminds me that it can be launched with a simple idea, a sheaf of stamps, and a gift-giving impulse. The way her gestures resonate literally around the globe is testament to the nature of love, to the artistry possible while envisioning a better future, and to the power of connection.

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And of course, getting gifts in the mail is nice!


The leaf came wrapped in silk that Liz hand dyed with Brazilwood (true to form, I can’t locate it at this very second — it’s probably lounging & gossiping somewhere with the white silk sent to me by Mo).

A beautiful letterpress piece by Fiona Dempster of Australia was also enclosed. It speaks to the energetic nature of peace. Liz’s cover card, itself a work of art, offers inspiring words and a sense of occasion.

Liz is literally and figuratively ‘loosely binding us in silken ties of love’. How powerful a gift this is! Thank you, Liz — please continue!

One of these days, one of us will be the 100th monkey…

 

How unbelievably great

I didn’t stay long at the hospital this morning because as it turns out, my sister had to be transported from one hospital to a bigger one for testing.

In comes Handsome Ambulance Guy number one, named Jimmy. My sister bemoaned side boob. I commented, “Gee, couldn’t they have sent the guy with acne?” Jimmy was really handsome, not just a little handsome. Then another cute guy came in, all solicitation and sweet, professional regard for my sister. Also named Jimmy. As they wheeled my sister out, I said, “Well, you know I have to say it: Thank you, Jimmys!” They laughed.

I was heading home from the hospital when I got the text about my bag. Can you believe it? K and I dashed down to the Boston Police Department to pick it up. I got to meet the honey-voiced, uber-competent Officer James. He outranks the Jimmys as my hero of the day.

A morning filled with powerful proof of good people.

P.S. At first I thought my noise-cancelling headphones were the single item stolen out of the bag, but heading home on Route 9 my kind and sane husband made a suggestion: ‘Maybe you didn’t bring them?’

Sure enough. They’re in the drawer with the dog medications where, believe it or not, they live. NOTHING was taken.

It’s all good. My sister is getting the best medical care there is. K mowed the lawn in spite of sticky humidity and I deserve a nap. Maybe it’ll rain soon. That’d be nice.

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’.